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 Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw

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Posts : 426
Join date : 2013-10-13

PostMedicine Show by Inside Outlaw

Will hard work, honesty, and clean living win out over con games, pick-pocketing, and snake oil hawkin’? Find out in InsideOutlaw’s – Medicine Show.


Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry

Guest Starring

Christian Bale as Willie

Jack Lemmon as Doc

Burgess Meredith as Cal

Theodore Roosevelt as Himself

Seth Bullock as Himself

William H. Macy as Crazy Steve

Medicine Show
by Inside Outlaw

"Step right up, folks.  Witness the miracle of the Far East!  Dr. Clark's Elixir of Good Life straight to you from the finest emporiums of London, Paris, and Vienna," said the man with greased-back hair who was wearing a loud, checkered suit.  His eyes were moving constantly, sweeping across the spectators crowded around him.  He stood on the front seat of a brightly-painted, covered wagon.  His elevated perch forced the people surrounding him to crane their heads up.

Hannibal Heyes spotted the set up by the Billings stockyards as he and his partner left the local saloon.  He paused on the boardwalk, pulled off his filthy black hat, and slapped it against his equally dirty pants, raising a cloud of trail dust while he watched the commotion.  The hooped, canvas covering on the wagon announced it belonged to the world-renowned Dr. Clark’s Traveling Medicine Show.  "C'mon, Kid, our baths can wait.  Let's see the show."  With a broad smile creasing his face, he stepped off the boardwalk and crossed the dusty street heading towards the hubbub.

The Kid fingered a hole in his tattered shirt, mumbled, “Guess I can wait,” and followed him down the street to the edge of the crowd.

"You there," said the slick man, pointing to an elderly man leaning crookedly over the handle of his cane.  "I'm offering you a free sample of the magic of Dr. Clark's Elixir of Good Life.  Yes, step over here, good sir.  Drink this and I personally guarantee it will cure all ailments."  He held out a glass containing a sickly green liquid.

The elderly man eagerly took the offered cup and downed its content in one gulp.  It only took a moment before he slowly straightened up, tossed his cane away, and cried, "I'm cured, I'm cured!" before quickly disappearing into the crowd as it excitedly surged forward.

Heyes and the Kid watched, smiling with amusement.  Curry leaned towards his partner and whispered, “Kinda reminds me of the time you almost got popped runnin’ Soapy’s game.  The sheriff would’ve thrown you in jail for sure if it hadn’t been for Soapy sweet-talkin’ him into releasin’ you into his custody.”

“Yeah, it reminds me, too.  It reminds me the law was called ‘cause someone had recognized a certain miraculously cured blond-haired crippled boy who’d been seen walking just fine through the local candy shop the day before.”

Chuckling together, the partners worked their way to the front of the mob for a better view and focused their attention on the show.

While they were enjoying the spectacle, a small hand snaked its way out of the throng and reached for Heyes' pocket.  The dark-haired ex-outlaw seized the slim wrist without even turning his head as the filthy youth attached to the grubby hand started to kick and squirm.  Heyes lifted him clear off the ground and stared into eyes the mirror of his own.  "Quit it, boy, or you'll blow the whole game," Heyes hissed.  The boy instantly stopped fighting and warily watched his captor.  Heyes set him back on his feet, but kept a tight hold of his collar.

The salesman had seen the brief struggle and quickly concluded his business while keeping an eye on the boy and the two men.  His sales completed, he hurried over.  "Now see here, you unhand my son this minute," he demanded.  Heyes looked at the blue-eyed, sharply-dressed conman and back at the brown-eyed, raggedy lad and smiled, "Your son?  You mean your dip, don't you?"  He let go of the boy and watched as the child ran off, vanishing behind the cattle pens.

The charlatan flashed a placating smile and said, "My impecunious friends, you must understand boys will be boys.  You surely don’t mean to imply this was anything other than a childish prank."

“Hey, there’s no need for name-callin’,” bristled the Kid.

"It means poor, Thaddeus.  It's a fair enough assessment," said Heyes.  “We aren’t planning on causing any trouble for the boy.”

"Are you in need of funds?  Well, perhaps we can come to an agreement since you are willing to overlook this, ahem, unfortunate incident.  I could use two strong men like you to provide safe passage through this lawless land," said the doctor, eyeing the two tied-down guns on the hips of the men in front of him.  “We are on our way to Deadwood by way of Miles City.  Although we will be travelling uncomfortably close to the reservation, I have had no word of any troubles with the Crows, nor the Cheyenne, but I understand there is still resentment amongst the tribes.  I am sure we would all sleep better if we knew we were protected by a pair of competent gunmen.”

"We ain’t gunnies and we might be broke, but we're honest.  C'mon Joshua, let's have those baths."  Curry began to walk away, but stopped and turned back to glare at his stationary partner.  “I said, come on, Joshua.”

“Let’s hear the man out.”

Curry stomped back to where Heyes stood and growled, “Are you crazy?  He’s a conman and he’s askin’ to hire our guns!”

“Please, sirs, think of it as simply taking precautions.  I, too, am an honest man earning an honest living which often takes me through desolate areas in order to service the needs of the scattered populace.  Unfortunately, I am also completely inept when it comes to firearms and it has caused some difficulties for our little troupe.  I can see you are not, so I am merely asking for your help in assuring our safety.  I am also willing to pay you quite well for your services, say fifteen dollars, apiece.  Allow me to formally introduce myself.  Dr. Andrew Clark, kind sirs.”

“If you can’t protect yourselves, what are you doin’ travelin’ the West?” scowled Curry.

“Like you, good sirs, I am simply trying to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.  I had to fire our security man for excessive inebriation.  He was supposed to take us to Miles City, not Billings.  I’m afraid it was the last straw for me.  You do know this territory, don’t you?”

“Like the back of my hand,” said Heyes smugly.  “You did say fifteen each, right?”

“May I remind you, Joshua, we’ve promised our good friends we’d stay out of trouble?  I ain’t doin’ anything illegal.”

“Ain’t no law against quackery, Thaddeus,” noted Heyes.

“There’s one against pick-pocketin’!”

“Gentlemen, are we all without sin here?  Can you not remember a few transgressions from your own childhoods?”  Dr. Clark looked expectantly from one man to the other.

The Kid’s shoulders slumped in defeat.


“Thirty dollars for a week’s work is great pay.”  Heyes led his horse out of the livery corral and held the gate for his partner.  Dawn was just breaking over the horizon and heavy shadows lingered everywhere.

“Not if it costs us our amnesty,” Curry walked past his partner and continued up the deserted street, “or our lives.”

Heyes shut and chained the gate before following him.  “Geez, you really look on the dark side of everything, don’t you?  This is easy money.”

The Kid rolled his eyes, “I’ve heard that before.”

“You don’t have to come.  I can do it myself.”

Curry stopped in his tracks.  “You really think I’d let you go traipsin’ off with a sham artist by your lonesome?”

“Good.  It’s settled.  We’ll see them to Deadwood and then we’ll head south again.”

“Have you forgotten the last time we were in Deadwood?  It didn’t go so well.”

“No, I haven’t.  I told the Doc we’d see them ‘to’ Deadwood.  I reckon we’ll get them close enough they can find their own way into town.  We won’t have to go in with them.”

“Good, ‘cause that sheriff was a hard case.  And, I’ll tell you somethin’ else, I ain’t goin’ through Wyoming to get there.  We’re takin’ the long way ‘round.”

“Anything you say, partner.”   Nearing the wagon, Heyes spotted the formerly crippled old man from yesterday’s show hefting a heavy box into the bed.  He nodded to him and tied his horse to a fence post.  “Let me give you a hand.”

“Don’t need a hand, Sonny, I can do this myself.”  The gray-haired man stooped and easily lifted another box up.  “You two must be the new guides.”

“We are.  I’m Joshua Smith and that’s Thaddeus Jones,” said Heyes, gesturing to the Kid who was loosening his horse’s cinch.

“Smith and Jones, huh?  No wonder the Doc took a liking to you,” cackled the man as he dropped the box into the wagon with a bang.  “Calvin Thorne.  Pleased to meet you.  Willie, come on out here and say hello to our new friends.”

A dark head poked out of the back and brown eyes widened.  “Them?”

“Hello, Willie.”  Heyes grinned at the boy with the freshly scrubbed face, the tidy clothing, and the neatly combed hair.  “Seems you’re not the man I thought you were.  You clean up well.”

The boy answered his smile with one of his own.  “You, too, Mr. Jones.”

“He’s Smith, I’m Jones.  Nice to meet you,” said the Kid coming over to the wagon.  The three men went to work lifting the boxes into the wagon as Willie slid them into place.

“Ah, good, you’re both here,” said Dr. Clark as he came around the front of the wagon leading a team of matched bay horses.  “Willie, help me hitch up the team.”

“Yes, sir.”  The boy jumped agilely from the wagon and hurried to help.  Taking the reins from the doctor, he backed up the two placid animals while Clark lifted the yoke and held it out of the way.  Once the two beasts were in place, they quickly and expertly harnessed them.  Finished, the doctor turned and smiled at Heyes and the Kid.  “I’m hoping you won’t mind riding.  Mabel and Ethel have all they can handle with the gear and the three of us.”

“We prefer ridin’, Doc.  Saddles are softer’n buckboard seats,” said the Kid.

“Shall we be off then?  I’d like to get an early start to the day.”  Dr. Clark climbed up onto the wagon while Willie went around back and crawled inside with Calvin who was sitting on top of a sack of dried beans.

“What he’s really sayin’ is he wants to get outta town before the good folks he’s bilked realize they’ve been had.”  Curry untied his horse.

Heyes ignored him.


The day progressed uneventfully and, by nightfall, the small group had settled into a companionable rhythm.  A camp was found and organized, dinner prepared and enjoyed, and eventually everyone settled around the dying fire contained by rocks stacked earlier in the evening.  Heyes held a cooling cup of coffee in his hands and stared into the flickering light.  The Kid was stretched out next to him, leaning on his elbows.  Doc, Willie, and Cal sat across from the two partners.  Willie had fallen asleep an hour or so ago, and was semi-curled on the Doc’s lap.  No one had spoken for quite a while when the Kid suddenly asked, “Willie’s not really your boy, is he?”  

Doc gave the boy a concerned glance, but ascertaining the child was asleep, he firmly answered, “He is in all ways that matter.”

“When’d you two hook up?” asked Heyes.

Pausing to review his memory, the doctor smiled.  “It must be almost six years now; Willie was just three when Cal and I found him in Columbus.”

“Mississippi?” asked Heyes.

“No, Ohio.  We had just finished a brief, but stellar, performance at the State Fair and had spent a long evening celebrating.  Needless to say, I was a little worse for the wear when I staggered down an alley alongside of the last saloon I had frequented.  That’s where I found Willie.  He was huddled in a pile of refuse, using an old, discarded curtain for warmth.  At first, I mistook him for trash, but he moved slightly and cried out as I passed.”

“What was he doing there?”  Heyes leaned forward with interest.

“I don’t really know.  He was too young to say.  I asked around town, but no one knew who he was.  Perhaps he had become separated from his parents when they were passing through town or he may have been orphaned.”  Doc’s arm slipped around the boy’s shoulder and he pulled the child closer to him.  “The proper authorities were notified, but we never located his people.”

“So you just took him with you?”  Curry’s eyes narrowed.

“What else could I do?  I wasn’t about to send him to an orphanage as the sheriff had suggested.  Those places are absolutely vile!”

The Kid nodded his agreement, but said nothing more.

“And he’s been working for you ever since?” asked Heyes.

Cal frowned, “Joshua, Doc’s already explained it wasn’t work, it was just a boyish shenanigan.”

“I’m sure it was, but how come you two had him dressed up in rags?  Seems to me, the only reason would be to make sure no one figured him to be with you if he got caught.”

Stiffening, Cal eyed the man across from him warily.  “What business is it of yours?”

“You’re looking pretty healthy, too, Cal,” Heyes smiled benignly.  “I’m just curious.  Don’t mean any harm by it.  The boy seems to be taken care of and he’s plainly fond of you.”

“As we are of him,” said the Doc flatly.  “I assure you, Willie’s well-being is of primary concern to both of us.  Are we going to have a problem, gentlemen?”

“No problem here.  You see, I’m an orphan myself.  Grew up in one of those homes and, you’re right, they’re no place for a boy.”  Heyes dumped out the rest of his coffee and stood.  “But I did learn a thing or two along my way.  Like how to lift a wallet and how to spot a con.”

Curry glared up at his partner.  “You’ll have to excuse Joshua.  He didn’t have the good, decent upbringin’ the rest of us did and it makes him a tad rude sometimes.”

“No offense taken,” said Cal.

“No, of course not.”  The doc shifted slightly and Willie stirred in his sleep.  “So you’ve lived the life, Joshua?  Well, that does change things, doesn’t it?  I can see now you are merely taking a professional interest in Willie.  Perhaps you can give him some instruction to improve his skills.”

“He could use some, but I have to admit I’m more interested in keeping our skins intact.  We’re heading into unsettled territory and it’ll be best if we all understand each other.”  Heyes stretched and yawned, “I think I’m going to call it a night.”

The three men watched as Heyes walked over and climbed into his bedroll then rolled over onto his side.

“Your partner appears to be a complicated man, Thaddeus.”  

“You have no idea, Doc.”


“No, not like that; here, let me show you again.”  Heyes reached into Willie’s pocket with his index finger and his middle finger and retrieved the quarter he had slipped into it earlier.  “See?  You use these two fingers, not your thumb.  It makes the dip smoother.”

“Let me try it again!”  Willie’s tongue stuck out and a look of pure concentration crossed his face, but he managed to slip his fingers into Heyes’ pocket with a minimum of disturbance.  “I did it!  I did it!” he cried, clutching the coin and dancing happily about the ex-outlaw leader.

“Are you two done foolin’ around?  We’re ready to go.”  Curry stood behind them with his hands on his hips.

“I was just showing Willie a couple of things I know,” said Heyes.

“He showed me how to pick a lock!” Willie piped.  “He even gave me some picks to practice with!”

“Great, why don’t you show him how to deal five pat hands next?”

“You’re a card sharp, too?”  Willie gazed up at Heyes with unabashed adoration.  Heyes grinned at the Kid who rolled his eyes.

“Let’s just concentrate on picking locks and pockets for now, okay?”  Heyes put his arm on the boy’s shoulder and steered him towards the back of the wagon.  Willie climbed in and settled down as the two men walked over to retrieve their horses.

“Are you crazy?” snapped the Kid.

“I’m just trying to help the boy.”

“What?  Help him into a jail cell?”

Heyes grabbed his horse’s reins and pulled them loose from the low-hanging branch they were tied to.  “I’m trying to help him to stay out of trouble.”

“Teachin’ him thievin’ is helpin’ him?!”

“I’m just showing him a few things.  The kind of things he’ll need to know.”

“That’s just it.  He don’t need to know it.  What the boy needs is a family with a ma and a pa who’ll teach him right from wrong.  Not hangin’ out with the likes of you.  What’re you thinkin’?”

“All kinds of families, partner.  Willie’s already got a good one.”

“Workin’ for those hucksters?  Learnin’ to steal?  That ain’t right.”  

“No, it’s not, but there are worse places he could be.  You ought to know that.”  Heyes walked away.


By mid-morning, the travelers were nearing the outskirts of Forsyth, Montana.  Willie rode in front of Heyes, happily chattering on and on about everything and anything.  The Kid rode next to them, his eyes scanning the rolling hillsides and the river.  The wagon trundled along a hundred yards behind the riders.

“You okay with Willie riding along with those two?” asked Cal in a tone suggesting he was not all right with it.

“Why not?  The boy is quite taken with them.”  Doc chirruped to the team urging them to pick up the pace.

“There’s something not quite right about them.”

“I suspect there are many who would say the same about us.  Besides, we’re right here.  Nothing’s going to happen to Willie with us keeping an eye on them.”


“Train’s coming,” cried the boy, pointing towards the river.  The waterway disappeared around a bend a mile upstream and a parallel set of tracks ran alongside its banks.  A smoky plume floated into the air from behind a hill and a distant whistle drifted along with it.

“It’s not a train, it’s a steamship,” said Heyes.

“A steamship?  Out here?”  Willie wriggled, trying to lift up for a better view as the bow of the ship appeared.

“Forsyth’s a railroad town now, but the steamers have been comin’ through here for years,” offered the Kid.

“You mean all the way up the Missouri?”

“Yep.  All the way from St. Louis, almost to Yellowstone,” concurred Heyes.

“I want to ride a steamship!”

Curry smiled, “Me, too.”

“Not this trip.  We’re not staying the night.”  Heyes shortened up on his reins as his horse began to jig nervously.  The ship was in full view and closing on them quickly.  “Thaddeus, take Willie, will you?”

Quickly, the Kid leaned over and scooped the lad off Heyes’ horse using one arm and swung him onto his own saddle.

“What’s wrong?” asked Willie.

The steamship let out another loud whistle and Heyes’ horse exploded in a spate of bucks and crow hops as the Kid’s calm gelding perked up slightly.  “Nothin’s wrong ‘cept Joshua likes jug-headed horses.”

Willie watched as the dark-haired man held on and rode out the excitement, expertly keeping the horse under a small measure of control.  “Gee, I want to be just like Mr. Smith when I grow up!”

“You ask me, you’re well on your way,” said the Kid, sarcastically.

Willie glowed with pleasure.


Forsyth boasted substantial wooden buildings lining the docks along the riverfront.  Railroad tracks and a wide road separated the waterfront properties from the business district.  Wagons choked the streets as goods and passengers were being transported away from the depot building.  The little, brightly-painted wagon was dwarfed by its surroundings as it snaked its way into the heart of the bustling community.  Dr. Clark pulled the team up in front of a small, grassy area running alongside the riverbank and dismounted.  Willie slid off the Kid’s horse and ran to help while Heyes and the Kid sat in their saddles watching the townsfolk crowding in.  The population was predominately male.

“You see the sheriff’s office?” whispered Curry.

“Yep; didn’t recognize the name, did you?”


Swinging his leg over, Heyes dismounted and rubbed his back.  “Let’s help the doc and then we can get a drink.”

The wagon was quickly set up and the show began as the two ex-outlaws wandered away towards the saloon across the street.  Entering the building, they stood and gazed around the room.  It was nearly empty, having lost its patrons to the traveling show.  Smiling, they bellied up to the long, wooden bar and soon had two glasses and a bottle of whiskey in front of them.  With satisfied smiles, they simultaneously drained their glasses and waited as the bartender refilled them before they let him take the bottle away.

Through the opened front doors, they could hear Doc warming up his spiel.  

“It won’t be long before old Cal is cured again,” commented Heyes.  He glanced out the front window and saw a huge crowd of men surrounding the wagon.  A couple of women watched from the wooden sidewalk out front, but neither of them crossed the street for a closer look.  As he watched, yelling broke out and a hole opened in the center of the multitude.  The Kid had already pushed away from the bar and was halfway to the door before Heyes made a move to follow him.

Cries of “Cheat!” and “Quack” filled the air as the two partners broke into a run, plunging into the mass of bodies.  With sharp elbows and sharper looks, they worked their way into the clearing in the middle of the crowd where they found Cal was being held around his neck by a huge, muscled man.  “Let me go!” screamed the old man.  Two other men grinned wolfishly.

“What’s going on?” asked Heyes, coming to a stop with his hands raised and well away from his gun.  He glanced at his partner, whose gun hand rested next to his holster, and forcibly pasted a friendly smile on his face.

“Ain’t none of your business, mister,” warned a thin, mustached man.

“I’m afraid that’s not true.  You see, we work for Dr. Clark.”  Heyes’ tone changed from friendly to frosty as the words escaped his lips.  His hand now also dangled next to his gun and he saw the big man staring at it.

The clearing expanded as men dropped away from the drama, leaving the instigators in the center of it.  Curry could see Doc by the wagon with his arms protectively restraining Willie, both of them bug-eyed with fear.  He shifted his eyes to Cal and the men around him.  

The mustached man smiled at him.  “We’ll be with you in a minute; you’re just gonna have to wait your turn.”  He lifted a wheel spoke up over his shoulder and began to swing at the old man with all his strength.  Before the wood could complete its downward arc, the spoke exploded in his hand and he spun helplessly in a circle, drawing laughter from the onlookers.  Angrily, he threw the small, remaining stub of the spoke to the ground.  His right hand started for the gun on his hip, but he stopped short as he saw the barrel of the Kid’s Colt aimed steadily at his heart.  Lifting his hands up, he changed tactics.  “Easy, mister, don’t shoot.”

“Let go of my friend and I won’t,” said the Kid, menacingly.

The muscled man loosened his grip and the old man slipped out of his reach.  Snatching up his discarded cane, Cal melted into the crowd, leaving the Kid and Heyes to face the three men on their own.

The mustached man smirked.  “Some friend.”

Curry elbowed Heyes and gestured at something behind him.  Glancing over his shoulder, Heyes saw a man hurrying in their direction, a tin star pinned to his chest.  Swinging back, he smiled at the men in front of them.  “No harm done.  We’ll just be on our way…”

“You better get your cheating hides outta town or we’ll be back and there’s gonna be more of us,” yelled one of the other men.

Heyes backed away slowly as the Kid covered them both.  By the time they’d reached the buckboard, Doc and Cal were loaded and ready to go.  The two partners mounted and followed the wagon as it jostled its way through the dispersing crowd.  They were all careful to keep their faces averted from the lawman.

“What in blue blazes happened back there?” asked Doc after they were out of town.

“I don’t know,” said Cal.  “I thought everything was going fine, but when I tossed away my cane that big oaf grabbed me; he said he’d straighten me out.”  The older man shivered.

Overhearing the conversation as he rode next to the wagon, Heyes interjected, “You picked the wrong crowd.”

“What?”  Two pairs of eyes turned towards him, but it was the doctor who spoke.  “We’d barely begun the show.  I hadn’t even sorted out who the marks were.”

“That’s just it.  They were all wrong.  Forsyth’s a railroad town.  Didn’t you notice the shortage of womenfolk?”

“What does that have to do with anything?” asked Cal.

“A whole lot.  I’ve seen it in every mining camp, railroad town, and military post I’ve been in.  You coop up a bunch of men without women and it isn’t long before trouble rears its ugly head.”

“So you’re saying this was our fault?”  Cal frowned at Heyes.

“You haven’t been out west long, huh?” questioned the Kid, having ridden up on the other side of the wagon.

Cal’s head swung around to him.  “What are you saying?”

“It ain’t like other places you been.  Men don’t wait for the law to do its job here.  They handle things in their own way.”

“If you hadn’t of come along…well, thank you, Thaddeus,” said Cal, “you, too, Joshua.”

“I can see Willie’s not the only one who could learn a few things from our new friends,” said Doc.  He turned to the Kid.  “Rest assured, I will be careful to remember your words in the future.”

“Is Miles City a railroad town, too?” asked a small, frightened voice from inside the wagon.

“Nope.  It started up around Fort Keogh, but it’s a fair-sized town in its own right.  Lots of men and women.”  Heyes glanced over at his partner.  “Just to be safe, though, I think Thaddeus and I will stick around during the next show.  How many more do you plan on before Deadwood?”

“This will be the last one until we reach Deadwood,” said Doc.  “We’ll head south after Miles City and cut north of the reservation.”

“Good.  I’d rather face maraudin’ Indians than another crowd of liquored-up railroad men,” said the Kid.

Willie crawled out from the back of the wagon and inserted himself between Doc and Cal.  “I never saw anyone shoot the way Thaddeus did.  Why, he’s the best shot in the whole world!”

The Kid shifted in his saddle and smiled down at the boy.  “I got lucky.  I was aimin’ for his leg.”  

Heyes laughed.  “That’s right, old Thaddeus couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”

“Can you teach me to shoot like that?” asked Willie.

“No!” fell from four different mouths at nearly the same time.

Slumping, the boy sulked.

“However, I would be grateful if you could give me some pointers.”  Doc slapped the reins down on Mabel’s broad back and the mare picked up a slow jog.  “I can see we’ve been lucky in our travels so far and it would be wise for me to be better prepared for unforeseen circumstances.”  

“I guess I could give you a few pointers,” said the Kid.


“Hold up a minute,” yelled Heyes.  He waited until he saw the Doc’s gun had been lowered then he trotted over to the downed log and reset the tin cans on the top edge of it.  The shooting instruction was a roaring success.  The Kid had spent the last hour giving Doc a detailed lesson as Cal and Willie looked on.  He was finally getting the hang of it.  Heyes lined the cans up again and walked over to where the two men and the boy were watching the Kid closely.  His partner demonstrated a draw in slow motion and returned his gun to its holster with a flourish.  Willie had his eyes glued to his new hero.

“Last round; it’s time we got going,” said Heyes.  He ignored the groan of dismay from the boy and started for the wagon.  Gunfire echoed through the small valley they’d stopped in and a few minutes later he heard the crunch of footsteps.  He looked up from cinching his horse and saw Curry stowing his extra box of ammunition in his saddlebag.  “Looks like that went well.”

“Not too bad,” grinned the Kid.

“Now look who’s the bad influence,” chuckled Heyes.

“I’ve come ‘round to your way of thinkin’, partner.  I can’t do nothin’ about their line of work, but we’re leavin’ at the end of the week and I’ll sleep better knowin’ Doc can take care of them.”

“Yeah, me, too.  Makes you wonder how they got this far.  Blind luck, I guess.”


“The show was an unmitigated success!” Doc declared.  “I’ve sold enough Elixir of Good Life to the fine people of Miles City to more than make up for our disappointing stop in Forsyth.  Dinner is on me.”  His helpers had loaded the last box into the wagon and they all smiled at his pronouncement.  Proudly, he led them down the street to a small restaurant tucked between two saloons.

After a fine meal, the little troupe headed south out of town.  They camped for the night along an empty stretch of land and started out for Deadwood early in the morning before the sun had risen in the sky.

By noon, they made a brief stop for a cold lunch of jerky and hardtack then continued on.  The Kid rode point keeping watch for trouble.  Heyes brought up the rear.

The sage-covered landscape stretched as far as the eye could see.  Hazy purple mountains rose to the east and the contours of rises and gullies gave definition to the vista.  By the evening of the second day, they had passed beyond the borders of the reservation.

The Kid selected a small box canyon cut into a bluff rising to the north as their camp for the night.  Once organized, he pulled Heyes aside.  “You take first watch; I’ll spell you at two.”

“Why post a watch?  Did you see something out there?”

“Someone’s behind us.  I couldn’t make out who or what, but I saw the dust stirred up once or twice.”

“How do you know it’s not antelope or deer?”

“I just know.”

“Well then, why didn’t you say something?”

“’Cause they’re keepin’ their distance.”

“Is it Indians?”

Curry shook his head.  “Doubt it.  They would have hit us by now if it was.”

“Any idea how many?”

“From the looks of it, maybe only a rider or two.”

“All right, I’ll climb up those rocks and keep an eye out.”  Heyes pointed out a jumble of large boulders resting at the base of the sheer cliff wall at the entrance to the canyon.  

“I’ll relieve you at two.  Try not to shoot me.”


Curry cupped his hands around his mouth.  “Psst.”  No answer.  Again, he crept closer to the rocks.  “Pssst, Heyes.”  He nearly jumped out of his skin when a finger tapped his shoulder.  Spinning around, he could barely make out his partner’s smiling face in the meager moonlight, but he felt the firm grip on his gun arm.  “What the….I could’ve shot you!”

“No, you couldn’t.  You were facing the wrong way.”  Heyes released him.  “There’s a campfire to the northwest.  Whoever it is, they aren’t worried about giving away their location.”

Curry peered out from around the boulders and could see the small, flickering light far in the distance.  “That’s good.  Could just be someone headed in the same direction as we are, but I aim to be careful.”

“Kid, let’s wait them out.  They’ll have to pass this way in the morning; the arroyo’s too deep to cross over.  We can get a look at them as they go by.”

“Good idea.  Get some sleep, Heyes.  I’m wakin’ you in four hours.”

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 Wed 08 Apr 2015, 10:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw :: Comments

Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Wed 08 Apr 2015, 10:10 pm by royannahuggins

The two partners lay side by side at the top of the tallest boulder and watched the small dust trail rise from the high desert floor.  They had left Doc, Cal, and Willie in the box canyon with their rifles and strict instructions not to allow anyone else to enter.

“Looks like two of them,” Heyes lowered the field glasses he had retrieved from his saddlebags.  “When they get closer, cover me, and I’ll have a word with them.”

“What happened to lettin’ ‘em ride by?”


“Is it really worth lettin’ ‘em know we’re here?”

“Kid, they’re going to see our dust just like we saw theirs and I’d prefer to know who we’re dealing with.”  Heyes handed over the glasses and slid down the backside of the boulder, staying low.  A few minutes later, he could hear the ringing of the horses’ shoes striking small, loose rocks on the trail.  He glanced up at the Kid, received a curt nod, and stepped out from behind the boulder.  “Howdy.”

“Holy…what the…” blustered the man in the lead.  He nearly dropped his reins but quickly recovered.  “Where’d you come from, sir?”  He wore a pair of round, wired-rimmed glasses and sported a bushy, blond mustache.  His clothes were buckskin, fringed and trimmed with beads and on his head was a beaver cap.

Heyes smiled charmingly and pointed at the canyon.  “From there.”  The man pulled up his horse and Heyes saw he was leading the other man who was bound by his hands to the saddle horn.  His eyes returned to study the first man and he caught a glimpse of a tin star peeking out from under his coat.  “Saw your campfire last night, Sheriff.  Thought it might be wise to find out who was behind me.

Accepting the logic offered, the husky lawman smiled and revealed his rather large teeth.  “It’s Deputy Sheriff Theodore Roosevelt, my good man, out of Medora, North Dakota.  And you are?”

“Joshua Smith, sir, and that’s my partner, Thaddeus, up on the boulder covering you.”  

Roosevelt whipped his head up and saw the barrel of the Kid’s Colt aiming at him.  “Howdy, Deputy,” said Curry, holstering his gun and smiling down at the men looking up at him.

“I say, neatly done,” complimented the deputy.

“Who’s that with you?” asked Heyes.  The tied up man was scowling through the entire conversation.

“He’s known as Crazy Steve,” said Roosevelt.  “I’ve spent the last two weeks pursuing him, but I’ve finally got my man.”

“Crazy Steve, huh?  What’d you arrest him for?”  The Kid had walked up next to Heyes.

“He’s a horse thief and a liar, sir!”

Curry looked at the tied man.  “Why do they call you Crazy Steve?”

The gimlet-eyed man stared at him briefly before he spat a wad of chaw into the dust and leaned forward.  “’Cause Lazy Steve was already taken.”

“See here, gentlemen,” interrupted Deputy Roosevelt.  “I could use a hand taking him in.  He nearly got the better of me last night.”

“Sorry, Deputy, but we’ve already got a job guidin’ some folks to Deadwood.”  The Kid smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

“How far are we from Deadwood?” asked Roosevelt.  “I’m all turned around on this god-forsaken, sage-infested prairie.”

Heyes smiled.  “Maybe half a day’s ride.”

“Bully!”  Roosevelt swung out of his saddle easily and landed with a small puff of dust.  “I’d be much obliged if we could partake of some breakfast with you.  I’m afraid I’ve nearly run out of supplies while I’ve been chasing Steve.”

“Sure, Deputy, we’d be happy to feed you.”  Heyes ignored the glance he received from his partner.

“Joshua, can I talk to you for a minute?”  Curry’s expression was grim as he pulled his partner a few feet away and hissed, “You’re invitin’ a lawman to eat with us?  Don’t you think it’s kinda risky?”

“He’s lost and he’s outta food.  I didn’t invite him, but we can’t just turn him away.”

“Why not?”

“He’ll get to wondering why we did.  We’ll feed him and send him on his way.”


“Deputy Roosevelt, I detect an eastern accent to your speech.  Are you recently arrived in the West?” asked Doc as he wiped the last crumbs of a biscuit from his lips.  Cal was busy putting away the cooking gear and Willie was helping all the while keeping one fascinated eye on the prisoner who was tied to the spokes of the wagon.

“Excellent ear, sir, I cannot deny it.  I am Manhattan-born and bred,” said the husky deputy.

The Kid rolled his eyes and whispered to Heyes, “That explains a lot.  City slickers.”

“Shh,” admonished Heyes before he spoke up.  “May I ask what brought you to these parts?”

The happy expression on the deputy’s face dissolved into sadness.  “I’ve recently lost my wife and mother.”  His statement brought commiseration from his audience.  “I needed a change of scenery so I decided to come west and visit my ranch for a while.  You see, I much admire the Western man and his environs; men who possess the fortitude and stern manliness to tame such a wild and hostile place; and, I believe, the open spaces and sweeping vistas of this great land will provide a balm to my grieving heart.”

“I hope they do, good sir.  I, too, am a transplanted New Yorker from Albany.”  Doc smiled warmly at his fellow Easterner.

“Geez, how many more are we gonna stumble across?” mumbled Curry, earning another hush from Heyes.

“Splendid!  And what brought you out West, Doctor?” asked Roosevelt.

“I’m afraid the war did.  You see, I served in the Medical Corps for the entire conflict.  By the time I was cashiered out, I was not fit company for polite society.  Rather than return to Albany and face my loved ones as a greatly-changed man, I chose to seek my fortunes elsewhere.”

“You really are a doctor?” asked an astonished Heyes.

“I am.  At least, I was.”

“Then what made you start hawkin’ snake oil?” asked the Kid.

Dr. Clark smiled.  “Not all medicine shows are selling quacksalver, Thaddeus.  Some of us are providing a real service to our customers.  My Elixir has medicinal properties, but I must dress it up in theatrics in order to convince the public it is worthy of its attention.”

This provoked a series of loud guffaws from Roosevelt.

“What’s so funny?”  Curry took a bite of his biscuit and chewed contently while he waited for the deputy to sober up.  Heyes was watching the exchange with interest, too.

“I….it’s…oh dear.  I’m so sorry if I offended you, Doctor,” said Roosevelt, finally noticing the bemused expressions on his audience’s faces.  “You see, I have dabbled in politics and, well, I realized you could say the same for a politician.  One must also present oneself in a palatable way for the public.”

Their tasks completed, Cal and Willie had walked over to where their fellow travelers sat.  “Wagon’s loaded, boss.”

“Thank you, Cal,” said Doc.  “Gentlemen, I’m afraid it’s time to bid the deputy good-bye.”

Relief showing on their faces, the Kid and Heyes rose quickly and went to saddle their horses.

“Doctor, might I impose on you by riding along?  It has occurred to me the marshal’s office in Deadwood might take delivery of my prisoner and save me the difficulties of transporting him back to Medora,” said Roosevelt.

“Of course, Deputy Roosevelt, I would be delighted to have your company.  You can regale me with current events in New York.”

“Did you hear him, Heyes?  The deputy’s invited himself to ride along with us!”  Curry paused in bridling his horse and looked with dismay at his partner.

“I heard, but there’s nothing we can do about it without raising suspicions.  At least he has no idea who we are.”

“Well I, for one, aim to keep it that way.  Don’t forget, you promised we wouldn’t ride into Deadwood.”

“Believe me, the last thing I want to do is ride into town and have to face that loco, trigger-happy sheriff again.”


“We can’t be more than a few hours from Deadwood, Heyes.  Ain’t it time we let Doc know we’re not goin’ into town with him?”  Curry rode alongside his partner several hundred yards in front of the wagon.  He turned in his saddle and glanced back to where the lawman was happily chattering with Dr. Clark.

The prisoner was tied on his horse and the animal was hitched to the back of the wagon.  Cal sat with his feet dangling over the tailgate. He clutched a scattergun in his arms and kept his eyes on the bound man.  Willie was sitting up on the seat next to the doctor and the deputy rode next to them.  Even from this distance, the Kid could see that the lawman was talking incessantly.  “Sheesh, I never thought I’d ever meet anyone who could talk more’n you do.”

“We got company,” said Heyes, pulling up his gelding.

Curry turned around and saw a lone rider loping across the meadow towards them.  The man had a rifle in one hand, the barrel dropped low but ready.  “I’m really startin’ to wish we’d said no to this job.”  He intently watched the rider nearing, and let out a groan.  “Is that who I think it is?”

Heyes squinted and then closed his eyes and sighed.  “It’s the sheriff from Deadwood.  This day is going from bad to worse in a hurry.”  He tugged his hat low on his forehead; the shade concealing part of his face.  Curry mimicked his actions and they both waited until the rider slid to a stop before them.

“Howdy,” said Heyes in a friendly manner.

“You know you’re on my land?” was the terse response.

“No sir.  We didn’t see any signs on our way in.”  The Kid tried to smile, but failed miserably.

“Well, you’ve been riding on the Star and Bullock Ranch for the last couple of hours.”  The rider had a severe face decorated with a bushy mustache that drooped at either corner of his mouth.  His eyes were narrowed and topped by full brows.  “I’m Seth Bullock, US Deputy Marshal, out of Deadwood.  Who’re you and what’re you doing on my land?”  His gaze shifted to the approaching wagon.

Doc pulled the team up as it drew parallel to the riders.  “Hello there, how may we help you, sir?”

One corner of Bullock’s mustache drew up in a lop-sided smile.  “You can help your way off my land.”

Roosevelt swiftly spoke up.  “Now see here, sir, we meant no harm.  My friends and I are on our way to Deadwood to deliver our prisoner.  I am Theodore Roosevelt, Deputy Sheriff, Medora, North Dakota.”

"You see, by your looks, I thought you were some kind of a tinhorn gambling outfit and I might have to keep an eye on you,” said Bullock with slightly more amusement.

“Teddy, this is Deputy Marshal Bullock from Deadwood,” explained Heyes.

“We are on our way to your office, sir.  This is a fortuitous meeting!”

“That your prisoner hog-tied?”  Bullock nodded towards Crazy Steve tied at the back of the wagon.

“Yes sir, it is,” replied Roosevelt proudly.

“Been after him myself; I reckon you’ve done me a favor.”  Bullock rode over to Steve.  “Finally got your wings clipped, huh, Steve?”  The horse thief said nothing and dropped his eyes to the ground submissively.  Bullock looked at the back of the wagon and saw Cal who held his weapon protectively, but his hands were shaking.  “Good job,” said Bullock, eliciting a smile from the old man.  Riding back to the others, he briefly turned his attention back to the Kid and Heyes.  “Don’t I know you two?”

“I’m sure I would’ve remembered if we’d met, Marshal,” said Heyes, smoothly.

Bullock benignly studied both of them before turning back to Roosevelt.  “Since you’ve got my bird, Deputy, I’ll ride along with you; seeing as how you’re turning him over to the marshals anyways.”

“Capital!  We would be delighted to have your company, sir,” answered Roosevelt.  He urged his horse back onto the trail they’d been following and Bullock fell in next to him.  Soon, the two men were chatting amiably and occasional barks of laughter could be heard by the two ex-outlaws following along a distance behind them.  The wagon brought up the rear of the burgeoning troupe.

“Well, I ain’t delighted.”  Curry was frowning, his eyes glued to the backs of the two men in front of him.  “Can you believe Bullock’s a marshal now?  He was bad enough when he was sheriff.  Geez, Heyes, how’d we get ourselves in this mess?”  

“I’m not anymore sure how we got into it than how we’re gonna get out of it.  We should’ve lit out last night while we could.  I should’ve known better than to wait to the last minute.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over it, Heyes.  Ain’t no way you could’ve known we’d meet up with not just one, but two, lawmen.  Besides, we need our pay.  If we’d left last night, we’d be back to ridin’ drag for eight dollars a week.  Doc’s thirty dollars will go a long way.”

“Yeah, we can’t duck out now without Bullock and Roosevelt wondering why and you can bet it would set Bullock to thinking hard on us.  He might not have recognized us right off the bat, but if we run into Al Swearengen, he won’t have forgotten us.  I doubt he ever got paid for damages and he didn’t strike me as the sort of man who forgot a debt.”

“You just had to prove you could beat Hickok, didn’t you?” chided Curry.

“Ain’t that what poker’s all about?  It’s not my fault some dandified troublemaker couldn’t handle losing to me.  It was Hickok who tore up the Gem.  Him and his drunken friend, Utter.”

“Maybe so, but it was your fault you set them off--tellin’ ‘em they played pretty well for beginners.”

Heyes chuckled at the memory.  “Well, he got his in Nuttal and Mann’s.  The way I heard it, McCall shot Hickok for poking fun at him.”

“And that don’t strike you as a lesson to learn?”

“Don’t go getting all moral on me, Kid.  I seem to recall you being ready to go gun to gun with Hickok before Bullock dragged you out of there by your shirt collar.  Good thing he was looking at your back and not your face when he shoved you into the street.”

The Kid grinned.  “Yeah, but it was you he drug into the mud.  Wheat and the boys almost died laughin’ when you came up with a faceful.”

“Well, it’s lucky for us now that I did.”

“Swearengen will recognize us, Heyes.  He spent half that night staring at you from his gallery.”

“Then we’re just gonna have to figure out how to get out of town before he sees us.”

“But not before we get paid, partner.  I ain’t gettin’ stiffed again.”

“Agreed.  We’ll see them to Deadwood, take our money, and run.


“I’ve never seen anything like this!” exclaimed Willie.  His head swiveled from side to side as he got his first look at Deadwood’s saloon-infested Main Street.  Barely-clad painted doves cooed from the balconies of plainly-built wooden structures offering everyone a glimpse of their charms.  Daytime drunks spilled out onto the sidewalks and staggered back and forth across the streets, dodging traffic and winning curses.  Gunshots punctuated the air frequently and over the entire town hung a miasma of wood smoke, unwashed bodies, and manure.

The wagon churned through the rutted, deeply-muddied streets and pulled to a halt in front of the marshal’s office.  Willie slipped out of the back and ran to the front of the team to steady them while Roosevelt untied his prisoner from his mount and pulled him from his saddle with Bullock’s assistance.

“End of the road for you, Steve,” said Bullock, gripping the man’s arm roughly.  Hauling the man to the door, he opened it.  “Gentlemen, we may be a while.  If you’re hungry, I recommend Maisie’s Saloon down the street on the right.  It’s been a pleasure.”

“I’ll meet you there when I’ve completed my business with the marshal.  I’d like to buy you all dinner to thank you for your assistance.”  With a nod to his new friends, Roosevelt followed the marshal through the door and closed it behind him.

Heyes and the Kid glanced at each other, and quickly dismounted.  With their reins in hand, they both led their horses over to where Doc sat in the wagon.  Willie was already scrambling to climb back in.  The traffic had grown heavier as the end of the work day approached and the brightly-painted, covered buckboard was causing a bottleneck in the street.  Teamsters cursed and spit at the smaller vehicle as they squeezed past.  Cal cast nervous glances at the angry drivers and Doc tried his best to sidle his team out of the way.

“Well, Doc, we’re in Deadwood so our job is done.  Much as we’d like to stay for dinner, Thaddeus and I have some urgent business north of here we need to see to so, if you don’t mind, we’ll take our pay and say our goodbyes.”

Doc was looking up the street where a ten-bull team hauling a huge freight wagon was coming towards them.  The ornate top of a massive carved wooden back bar could be seen in the bed of the vehicle.  “Why, of course, you’ve earned every penny, but I need to move my wagon out of the road right this minute or someone is going to take serious offense.  Meet us Maisie’s.  I’ll livery the team and buy you a drink before you go.”  Without waiting for an answer, Doc slapped the reins and the two mares leapt forward into a small open space in the congested traffic, narrowly avoiding the bull team.

Curry watched the buckboard slowly make its way up the street before he spoke again.  “Heyes, do you get the feelin’ we’re skatin’ on thin ice here?”

“C’mon.  Let’s get this over with and get out of town.”  Heyes swung into his saddle, watched his partner mount, and started towards the saloon.

“Deadwood sure looks different, don’t it, Heyes?  If I didn’t know better, I’d say we rode into the wrong place.  Look at all these fancy brick buildings—none of ‘em was here in ’76.”  Curry whistled.  “Someone made a lot of dough after the fire.”  Crossing an intersection, he could see several new buildings under construction on the side street.  “Looks like building’s the business to be in if you wanna get rich quick.”

“Didn’t you hear about the flood last year?  It wiped out a bunch of places.  If ever a town was cursed, it’s this one.  We get our beer, get paid, and get outta here.”

“It’s a shame we couldn’t visit with the ladies awhile.”  The Kid waved to a trio of shady beauties leaning over a balcony and shouting encouragement at him and his partner.

“We can ride over to Central City for feminine company, but we’re lighting out of Deadwood as soon as we get paid.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” agreed Curry.


The partners walked into the saloon and sat at an empty table in the far corner by the back door.  The saloon wasn’t busy this early in the evening and they quickly flagged down a barmaid and ordered two beers.  By the time they’d finished them, Doc and the others came through the door.  Willie’s eyes were as big as saucers as he sat down next to Heyes.  “I’ve never been in a saloon before!”

“You’re only in this one, young man, because Deadwood doesn’t have a proper eating establishment.  We are leaving as soon as we have eaten,” assured Doc.  “Joshua, are you sure I cannot persuade you to stay for tonight’s show?  I must confess I am more than a little nervous after our incident in Forsyth.  It would appear that most of Deadwood’s patrons are male as well.”

“We’d sure be pleased to have your company,” added Cal, “although, you can bet your bottom dollar, I’ll have my scattergun ready this time.”

“Please, can you stay a little longer?” begged Willie.

“I’m sorry, Willie, but we have to be on the road as soon as we settle up with Doc,” said the Kid.  “Maybe you all should head onto the next town, too.  Deadwood’s no place for the boy and you’re right to fear trouble.”

Doc glanced around at the rough faces in the bar.  “You may have a point, Thaddeus.  We’ve done well so far, perhaps we shouldn’t push our luck.”  He raised his hand and summoned the barmaid.  “Four more beers, please, and a sarsaparilla for the lad.”  He reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.  “I believe we agreed on thirty dollars.”

“Yes sir,” said a grinning Heyes.  Curry was staring out the front of the building, having noticed a big, burly man hurry out the door.  He leaned towards his partner and whispered, “Time to go.”

Doc slid a small pile of bills towards the two men and smiled.  “There’s a little bit extra for the marksmanship lessons.”

“Much obliged, Doc,” said the Kid.

Heyes tucked the cash into his shirt without counting it as the barmaid delivered the drinks.  “Thanks, Doc.”  He lifted his beer and toasted, “To your continued good fortunes.”  

“And yours,” replied the doctor.

After everyone had put their mugs down, Heyes stood up.  “I apologize again, but we really must be going.  Thanks for everything.”  He and the Kid stood as a small group of men came through the front door.

“See!  That’s them!” the burly man was back as was Roosevelt, and Seth Bullock.  “That’s Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry!”

Every head in the saloon turned to stare at the confrontation.  Slowly, Heyes and Curry raised their hands as Doc stood, “Teddy, Marshal, what is the meaning of this!?”

Bullock pulled Heyes’ arms behind his back and handcuffed him.  “I thought I’d seen you two before.  It was still eating at me when Gus here came to tell me he’d seen you.”  The marshal nodded at the burly man holding a gun on them.  

Roosevelt was frowning as he restrained Curry.  “Are you absolutely certain, Marshal Bullock?”

Gus nodded, “I was there the night Heyes raked Bill Hickok over the coals.  It weren’t ‘til later we all figured out who you was on account of one of your boys shootin’ their mouth off to a little lady.”

The Kid groaned, “Wheat.”

All the color had drained from Willie’s face.  “You’re Hannibal Heyes?  You’re Kid Curry?  You’re not at all like they make you out to be in the dime novels!”

“You shouldn’t believe everything you read, Willie,” said Heyes as Bullock gripped him by his arm and began to drag him towards the door.


“Marshal, I hear you have Heyes and Curry locked up,” a voice floated through the small grid of bars in the solid oak door separating the cells from the marshal’s office.  Heyes and Curry were in the first cell seated across from each other on lumpy mattresses and could clearly hear the two men talking in the office area.  Crazy Steve was in the third cell and he sat slumped on the floor in a corner.  He looked up, startled, when he heard who his roommates were.

“That’s right, Al.  What’s it to you?” answered Bullock in a less than friendly way.

“Those boys owe me damages.  They incited a riot at my place.”

Heyes groaned to his partner.  “Great.  Al Swearengen.  That’s all we need; one more person who can identify us.”

“Seems I remember it was Hickok and Utter that tore your place up,” said Bullock.

“Heyes and Curry started it.  I’ve got eyewitnesses that’ll swear to it.”

“I’m sure you do,” Bullock sighed.  “Take a look at them for me, will you?  I took enough picks off Heyes to open every lock in the Denver Mint, but I want to be dead sure.”  Standing up, he grabbed a ring of keys and opened the oak door.  Swinging it open, he held it to let Swearengen walk through.  “So?” he asked.

“That’s them!”  Al Swearengen was smiling from ear to ear.  “Never thought I’d see you two again; you owe me and I mean to be paid before you get carted off to prison.”

“Will thirty-five dollars cover it, Al?  That’s all they had on them,” asked Bullock.

“Well, it’s better than nothing.  I thought they must be dead seeing as how no one’s heard from them in a few years.”  Swearengen laughed unkindly, “You two have certainly come down in the world.”

“All right then, let’s set down at my desk and you can write out your statement.  I’ve got the cash in the safe.”  The marshal and the brothel owner left, shutting the door behind them.

“Great!  Just great!  Now we’re in jail and we’re broke again!” grumbled Curry.  Heyes didn’t say a thing.  He was knocking his head against the bars.

Crazy Steve was silent, too, but he wore a pleased grin.


“Sleep tight, boys.  Judge’ll be here in the morning,” said Bullock, taking away the prisoners’ dinner trays and leaving through the solid door.  It closed with a firm bang.

Heyes was pacing back and forth across the small cell while Curry watched him from his bunk.  Crazy Steve sidled up against his bars and said, “You’re wearing a groove in that floor, Heyes.”  The dark-haired ex-outlaw paused for a moment and then resumed.  “Why’s he pacing like that?” asked Steve.

“It helps when he’s thinkin’,” answered the Kid.  “Now shut up and let him think.”

“’Bout what?  It ain’t like you two can bust outta here.  Marshal took your picks, Heyes, and the way I hear it you don’t ride with the Devil’s Hole Gang no more.  No one’s comin’ for you.  That judge is gonna lock you two up and throw away the keys,” chortled Steve.

“Could be, but at least we won’t be gettin’ our necks stretched for horse thievin’,” observed Curry.  

Steve fell into a sullen silence and, sometime later, fell asleep.  Curry drifted off a little later, but Heyes didn’t.  He’d stopped pacing and had settled down on his bunk, but his eyes were wide open when he heard a soft tapping on the outside wall.  He got up and stood on the end of his bed in order to see out the small, barred window.  “Willie, what’re you doing here?” he whispered when he saw the small boy standing on a crate and straining up to the edge of the sill.

“Mr. Smith…er…Mr. Heyes, I mean, here.”   A small hand slipped through the bars and clutched in its fingers were the picks Heyes had given him.  “I figured you could use these.”

“Willie, I don’t want you to get in trouble…” began Heyes, but the boy cut him off.

“Doc told me to give it to you.  He and Cal are waiting with your horses at the abandoned homestead we passed on the way in.  We made a big show of leaving town after we ate so no one knows I’m here.  They dropped me off on the edge of town and I’ve been hiding in the loft at the livery until now.  Please hurry.  I’ll wait for you at the end of the alley and keep an eye out.”  Willie put the picks on the sill and dropped out of sight.

After a moment’s hesitation, Heyes snatched up the tiny instruments and crossed the cell.  Slipping his arm through the bars, he quickly picked the lock, and pushed the door open slowly, but silently.  Putting his hand over the Kid’s mouth, he watched his partner’s eyes fly open, and he gestured for silence before showing him the opened cell door.  Pulling his hand away, the Kid grinned back at him.  Without much noise, the two men crept out of the cell.  The back door unlocked from the inside and they slipped out into the night, leaving Crazy Steve to meet his fate.


“We don’t know how to thank you, Doc,” said the Kid.  The moon cast enough light in the barnyard for him to clearly see his rescuers.

Doc and Cal sat on the bench seat of the wagon and smiled down at him.  “No thanks are needed, Thaddeus, and I believe we’ve all helped each other.”

“How so?” asked Heyes, leading his horse over.  Willie walked next to him, clutching his hand.

“Cal and I have agreed we are not cut out for life in the West despite your best efforts to educate us.  We’ve decided to move on to more civilized climes.  It may even be time for us to think about giving up life on the road; settle down; let Willie go to a real school instead having me teach him the little I know,” said Doc.

“That’s good to hear.  A boy Willie’s age should have some friends to run with,” said Heyes.

“You’re my friend, Mr. Heyes.  You and Mr. Curry are my best friends!”  Willie hugged Heyes around his waist and then turned to fling himself into the Kid’s arms.  “I hope someday I can have a partner like you.”

Heyes mounted his horse and looked down at the boy.  “You’re a smart boy, Willie.  Don’t go trying to take the easy road in life.  That’s what we did and we didn’t do ourselves any favors.  We don’t steal anymore.  We’re trying for an amnesty, but it’s been a long time coming.”

“Amnesty, why?”

Curry settled into his saddle, too.  “Because we’re tired of being shot at and run to ground by every bounty hunter, hired killer, and lawman in the West.  Thievin’ ain’t the answer, Willie.  Life on the outlaw trail means death at the end of a rope or worse.  Get some learnin’ and do somethin’ good with those brains of yours, you hear?”

“Yes sir.  I will.”

The small boy watched them ride into the darkness and then he climbed up onto the wagon and settled in between Cal and Doc.  “Do you think we’ll ever see them again?”

“I don’t know, son, maybe your paths will cross again, but they might not.  I suppose if things go well for them, it’ll be big news when they get their amnesties.”  Cal put an arm around the boy and drew him to him.

“I hope they get it,” sighed the boy.

“They’re trying hard to do the right thing,” said Doc, “and I think it’s time we do, too.  We don’t need the Elixir to have a good life, we have each other.  I think it’s time we found a home.”  Mabel and Ethel threw their weight into their harnesses as his two friends smiled at him.  The brightly-painted wagon reached the main road and turned east.

Author’s Notes:

1. The passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906 removed the more dangerous contents from patent and proprietary medicines, and forced quack medicine hucksters to stop making some of their more blatantly dishonest claims.

2. Forsyth, Montana, was established as a settlement on the Yellowstone River in 1876 as a steamboat landing supporting US Army operations in the Indian Wars. The steamboat era on the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers lasted from the mid-1860s until the coming of the railroad in the mid-to-late 1880s.

3. Not long after the death of his first wife and his mother on the same day, Theodore Roosevelt semi-retired to his ranch in North Dakota.  In 1884, while working as deputy sheriff for Medora, North Dakota, he apprehended the horse thief, Crazy Steve, near Belle Fourche, SD, on land owned by US Deputy Marshal, Seth Bullock of Deadwood, SD.  Bullock met Roosevelt as the deputy sheriff was transporting his prisoner across Bullock’s property and the two became lifelong friends.   The line about him mistaking Roosevelt and his friends as tin-horned gamblers is what he really said upon meeting them.

I took artistic license with this meeting by including our boys and their clients.  The historical account was that Roosevelt was accompanied by another, unidentified man, and his prisoner.

4. Wild Bill Hickok was killed in Nuttal and Mann’s Saloon.  The name was later changed to No. 10 Saloon and the current No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood is a different building and a different location.

5. In 1879, a deadly fire swept through Deadwood, SD, destroying over 300 buildings in the commercial part of town.  Four years later, floodwaters from heavy snowmelt swept through town once again removing the business district.  Despite yet another fire in 1894, Deadwood persevered.

(Writers love feedback!  You can comment on Inside Outlaw's story by clicking the "post reply" button, found at the bottom left side of your screen.  You don't have to be a member of this site and you can be anonymous. You can type any name in the box.)
Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 11 Apr 2015, 7:37 pm by Penski
Love the adventure and factual history in this story! I always love to read notes at the end of stories, too. The casting was great and it was interesting watching Heyes and the Kid teaching their different skills. Thanks for writing another winning challenge!
Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 12 Apr 2015, 1:22 am by ty pender
That was a fun read. 

I enjoyed the language and the history angle.  I found this blurb in the 'Deadwood Magazine' that put your story in historical perspective. 

Thanks for taking the time to do the research and find those pictures as well...
Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Fri 17 Apr 2015, 5:05 am by Calico
A little morning skive, a little VS catching up. Just the ticket.
I am already loving the doctor. Silver tongue number two.
Is Cher about to pop up and sing ‘Gypsies, tramps and thieves”? No? Shame.
Ah, Heyes the mentor. ‘Tis a fine thing to teach the young idea to shoot. Or whatever.
Methinks Heyes will be trying to disillusion his young wannabe before the end of the story.
Loving Kid’s ‘I was aimin’ for his leg.’ Line.
Theodore Roosevelt, no less? And he took the fee to come play himself.
Am loving the name Lazy Steve having already been taken.
Poor boys, now they have both the Marshall and the Deputy riding along. Can we add a judge?
Oh no, Heyes has been stripped of all his pick locks! Nekkid!
A judge IS coming. Beam. Now we need – er – what else do they avoid? A photographer.
Awwww. Everything ends well. And Willie will be going straight. Double Awwww.
Really, really enjoyed that Inside. Made me want to get the Deadwood DVDs out – again.
Great story!
Post on Sun 19 Apr 2015, 5:12 pm by littlebluestem
Just catching up on the latest episodes. Loved this, IO! Great casting, too. (You caught a lucky break getting Teddy Roosevelt and Seth Bullock to play themselves!)

Favorite line: When someone says Heyes is complicated and Kid answers, "You have no idea."


Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sun 19 Apr 2015, 9:35 pm by CD Roberts
Historical drama at its best! This was a very enjoyable story to read, IO. The characters of Doc, Cal and Willie were nicely drawn and easy to visualize. It felt 'right' that at the end of the story they decided to return to safer climes and settle down. And, any story with my favorite president, TR; well, let's just day that's a hit with me. I got a good laugh out of Crazy Steve: Crazy because Lazy Steve was already taken. 
All the characters that lived in Deadwood...FUN:cheers:
Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Fri 01 May 2015, 3:40 am by Kid4ever
goodone Really enjoyed reading your story, IO; kept my interest from the first paragraph to the last one.
Great casting for the characters. (I had fun picturing Jack Lemmon as Doc, since he's a fav of mine).
I love the Deadwood period, let alone all the references to past characters Heyes and Kid interacted with.
Being a fan of the "Deadwood" tv series, I had the face of Ian McShane for Al Swearingen - another fav - so this was a real fun episode to read through for me.
I will admit to laughing out loud at the line from Crazy Steve about his name. I'm still grinning, in fact wink
You wove history into your VS and created a mutual meeting place for Heyes and Curry to interact with some pretty colorful characters.
I enjoyed getting to see how some of Heyes and Kid's earlier days were brought out in the scenes and how each one had something to contribute to the situation.
This would have been a fun, as well as entertaining, episode to watch.
Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
Post on Sat 23 May 2015, 9:29 pm by RosieAnnieUSA
Terrific story, IO. I enjoyed the addition of the historical characters into the plot. The backstory for the doctor and the boy are touching.
Re: Medicine Show by Inside Outlaw
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