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 Conjugal Bliss by Calico

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royannahuggins
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Posts : 419
Join date : 2013-10-13

20150430
PostConjugal Bliss by Calico



Clementine Hale needs a man, and she knows just where to find two of 'em!  Enjoy the matrimonial mayhem in Calico's – Conjugal Bliss!


Starring

Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes
And Ben Murphy as Kid Curry


Guest Starring


Sally Field as Clem



Sally Field (20 years on) as Martha



Rory Calhoun as Jason



Henry Jones as Judge Haddon



Shannon Christie as Florence





Conjugal Bliss
by Calico


STREET SCENE

The camera pans past a sign welcoming one and all to Vacaville.  Out of the saloon emerge two familiar figures.  Blinking a little in the bright sunlight, both count their evident winnings before tucking them into respective vest pockets.  They then hook thumbs in belts and survey the activity before them.  Two young gals, wholesome in gingham, gossip before the dressmaker’s window.  The owner of the general store unloads sacks of coffee.  The fella over at the livery grooms a quiet paint.  A freckle-faced boy bowls a hoop to the great delight of his woofing and bounding canine companion.  Over the way, a plump tabby cat snoozes on the even plumper lap of a gently snoring individual.  That same individual wears a silver star and is comfortably seated, boots on the rail, butt in a rocking chair, in front of the sheriff’s office.

Blue and brown eyes linger for a moment on the eminently pleasing sight of a lawman singularly failing to improve the shining hour.  They smile at each other, then amble down the boardwalk, the very picture of relaxed satisfaction, heading for the hotel.


---oooOOOooo---

HOTEL LOBBY

“Afternoon, Mister Smith, Mister Jones.”  The dapper clerk unhooks a key from the board behind him and hands it over.  “Have to say, I’m surprised you’re still with us.  Most young fellas find Vacaville kinda slow.”

“We like slow,” says Curry.

“The fact is,” dimples Heyes, “we’re thinking of staying on indefinitely.”

“Glad to hear it.  Oh…”

Our boys, who have turned toward the stairs, look back.

“I nearly forgot.  Someone was in here looking for you fellas.”

The ex-outlaws snap a concerned look at each other.

“Someone from round here?” asks the Kid.

“No, sir.  Never seen ‘em before.”

Heyes steps back to the desk.  “If you’ll fix up our bill, Henry…”

“…We’ll be checkin’ out,” finishes Curry.


---oooOOOooo---

A MOMENT LATER

“Seven, eight, nine…” Henry looks up from counting dollar bills.  “Kind of a sudden change of heart, wasn’t it?”

“Town just up and got on our nerves,” says Curry.  “Sudden like.”

“Ten, eleven - and fifty cents.”  Henry sweeps the boys’ payment into the till.   “All square.  Ah, thank you, sir.”  He reaches for the additional bill held out between slim fingers.

“You got a back door?” asks Heyes.

The clerk jerks an informative thumb at a corridor on the left.  “Couldn’t stay in business without one.”

“And, Henry…”  A second bill is extended.  Henry reaches for it, it twitches back.  “You never saw us.”

Henry meets the ex-outlaw’s dark gaze.  “Saw – who?”  His kindly, old face radiates innocence, his kindly old fingers capture the proffered bill.  “Thank you again, sir.”


---oooOOOooo---

OUTSIDE THE LIVERY

“Can’t be that bounty hunter with the wall eye…”  Heyes adjusts his horse’s bridle.  “We shook him back in Clearwater.”

Kid Curry tightens a cinch.  He glances over at his partner.

“Leastways, I thought we did,” amends Heyes.

Once again blue eyes meet brown.

“You reckon it’s him, Kid?”

Curry gives a facial shrug.

“Yeah, me too.”  Heyes gathers his reins preparatory to swinging into the saddle, turns and… His expression changes.

Kid Curry follows Heyes’ eye line.

A diminutive – and very familiar – figure is running toward them as fast as her flounced bustle and dainty heeled boots allow.  “Boys!” she calls.  “It’s me!”

“’Course, there are worse things than bounty hunters,” remarks Heyes.

“Yup.  With bounty hunters – at least you know what they’re after.”

They watch the runner’s progress in silence for a moment.

“What’s that French sayin’ for – y’know – that ‘here we go again’ feelin’?”

“Déjà vu?” suggests Heyes.

Clementine Hale, panting slightly, arrives at the livery.  “It’s me!”  She wraps one arm around Heyes, the other around Curry, hugs them tight.  They do not return the embrace.  She steps back to survey their faces.  Her beaming smile switches off.  “I don’t call this much of a welcome.  Last time I tracked you down you were overjoyed to see me.”

“True enough.” Heyes purses his lips.  “I guess it’s true what they say; there’s no teacher like experience.”

“What d’you want, Clem?” asks Curry.



“What do I…?  Can’t I come visit out of – pure sisterly feeling?”

Heyes shakes his head. “Uh uh.  What do you want?”

“’Cos, we’re not stealin’ nothin’, and we’re not connin’ no one,” clarifies Curry.

“As if I’d ask that of you!”

“True enough, you usually just tell us,” admits Heyes.

“All I want is catch up with my two dearest old friends in the world …”

One small foot traces an arc in the dust. “…Maybe ask them for a tiny, tiny favor.”  Brown eyes peep up from beneath long lashes.  The lashes flutter.

A pause.

“Over dinner,” continues Clem.  “At the best restaurant in town.  On me.”

Curry clears his throat.  “Us sayin’ yes to dinner don’t mean we’ve said yes to anything else?”

“Of course not.  No strings.  You hear me out – that’s all.”

Mute conversation.

“We could eat,” accepts Curry.


---oooOOOooo---

RESTAURANT

Heyes and Curry are consuming what looks like an excellent – and generous – steak dinner.  A half-empty, open bottle of red wine sits on the table.  A wholly empty bottle stands beside it.  The full glasses and mild cheek flushes of two ex-outlaws suggest into which receptacles its contents have been decanted.

“It’s not even a favor for myself…” Clem helps herself, liberally, from a dish of green peas, then hands it to Curry.  “It’s for my aunt.”

“Your aunt?” echoes Curry, through a mouthful of roast potato.

“My Aunt Martha.  The sweetest, most innocent, loving woman you could hope to meet.”

“Your aunt?” checks Heyes.

He receives a glare.

“She in trouble,” explains Clem.

“Not so innocent then?”

“Not that kind of trouble.  She needs to find a man.”

The boys exchange a wary glance.

“Now, Clem,” says Heyes.  “You know I’m not the marrying kind.”

Curry raises his glass with a twinkle, “An’ me – I only got eyes for you.”

“Be serious.  She needs to find a particular man.  Her husband.”

Heyes reaches for the gravy boat.  Kid Curry helps himself to more potatoes.  Otherwise no response.  

“He walked out on her.”

The boys top up their glasses.

“You don’t seem very shocked.”

“We’re not.”  Heyes sips his wine.  “D’you know how many married men step out for a cold beer – and their wives never see them again?”

“Not nearly enough?” suggests Clem, with a mischievous grin.  “Seriously.  I want you to find Aunt Martha’s husband for her.”

“Why us?  What she needs is a Pinkerton.”

“Or a Bannerman man.”  Kid Curry chews.  “We can recommend one o’ them.  Kinda.”

“It’ll be easier for you to find him.  You know him.”

Mute conversation.

“We do?” asks Heyes.

“You remember telling me all about that winter you were snowed in, up in the mountains after panning for gold.”

“Uh huh.”

“You groused on and on and ON about how you were robbed – which, when you come to think of it, was nothing more than poetic justice – and how you won your money back…”

“Then got robbed again,” finishes Heyes.  “And, I think ‘groused’ is a touch unfair.  I was only making conversation to pass the time.”

“Conversation is two-way.”  Clementine lays down her knife and fork.  “What you were making was a monologue.”

“Lotta truth in there, Heyes.  You did kinda dwell on it.”

The criticised one frowns.  “Is there a point to this, Clem?”

“The point is, Aunt Martha’s husband is Jason Holloway…”

“Jason?!”  Curry whistles.  “Didn’t see that comin’.”

“And you two know him.  You could find him easily…”

“Dunno about easily,” temporises Heyes.

“But you could do it?”

A shrug indicating ‘maybe’ from Heyes.

“You can send word when you do.  Then, make sure he stays put till me and Aunt Martha join you…”

Reluctance emanates from the ex-outlaws.

“It doesn’t have to be by force,” says Clem, interpreting the cause of some of this lack of enthusiasm.  “You could make him think you’d got a sucker for a game of Montana Red Dog.”

A flicker of interest from Heyes.  “Then what?”

“When Aunt Martha catches up with him, she can apply to a judge for restitution of conjugal rights.”

“Conjugal…With Jason?!”  Curry’s face is a picture of confusion.  “Why?”

“He’s her husband.  It’s his duty to live with her.  Provide for her.”

“Provide – what?  The man’s a thief.  He’s a liar.  He’s a gambler,” says Heyes.

“What is that proverb?  The one about glass houses?”

“I’m not married to your aunt.  And – if I were – she’d be better off without me, too.”

“How long since Jason ran out on her?” asks Curry.

“Eighteen years."

A mute conversation.

“So… Let me put this delicately,” says Heyes.  “If she’s coped on the conjugal front for eighteen years, don’t she think she can see out the decade without – without…?”

“Restitution?” supplies Kid Curry.

“Exactly.”

“You don’t understand,” says Clem.  “Aunt Martha simply must find him.  Let me tell you all about her…”

The dialogue mutes to silence, as Clem leans forward in animated speech.  The boys continue to look doubtful.  Then, a smile appears on first Heyes’ then Curry’s face.


---oooOOOooo---

A LEAFY TRAIL – MEDIUM LONG SHOT.  MUSIC ONLY

Heyes and Curry, relaxed in their saddles, chat amiably.  Heyes points out an – unseen – member of the local bird population.  Then, they rein their horses to a halt at a signpost:

‘Wilksburg – ten miles’

They smile at each other and trot on.


---oooOOOooo---

SALOON

The boys sit with a none-too-natural looking blonde clad in vivid yellow satin and shiny black fringing.  She drains her glass.  Heyes immediately refills it.

“What d’ya want with Jason?  He don’t owe ya money, does he?”

She drains her glass.  The Kid pours.

“No, no, no!” Heyes reassures her.  “Well, yeah – but we’ve kinda written that down to experience.”

She eyes the Kid’s tied-down gun.

“You’re not gonna hurt him?  I ain’t sayin’ he don’t sometimes deserve it – but – you ain’t?”

“Remember last time you helped us…?” Heyes’ voice is soothing.

Drain.  Pour.

“…We didn’t hurt a hair on his head – and if there’s one thing Jason has, it’s a good head of hair – same this time.”

Drain.  Pour.

“We just wanna talk to him, Florence,” says Curry.

“In fact, we want to do him a favor; return some – lost property.”

Drain.  Pour.

“’Cos – I couldn’t let nothin’ happen to him.  He’s…”  Bosom swells proudly.  “He’s my fee-on-say!”

Drain.

“We’re gettin’ married soon as he’s a nest egg saved.”

A glance is exchanged.

“Interesting,” says Heyes.

A drained glass is tapped, impatiently, on the table.

“Sorry!”  Heyes pours.

“If you let us know where your – intended – is,” says Curry, “we can ride out, leave you to…”  He searches.

Drain.

“Plan your trousseau?” suggests Heyes, pouring.

“Ain’t no need to ride out.  He’s upstairs – sleepin’ one off.  Jason owns this place now.”

This information visibly surprises our boys.

Drain.  Pour.

“That crooked Doc didn’t steal all his gold.  He’d hid some tied under his pants.  Some in the toe of his boots.  Not much – but enough to buy a saloon.”

Annoyance – and a touch of admiration – flickers across two faces.

Drain.

“Though – that part is a secret,” admits Florence.

“Our lips are sealed,” soothes Heyes.

“Uh huh,” grunts the Kid.  He pushes back his chair.  “Which room?”

“Number four.”

Kid Curry heads for the stairs.  Heyes heads towards the batwing doors.


---oooOOOooo---

HOTEL ROOM

A tall figure clad in long johns and grey wool socks is stretched out, face-down, on the bed.  A mop of silver-streaked dark hair spills over the pillow.  

Snore.

The door opens and Kid Curry walks in.

Snore.  Otherwise, no response.

Curry pushes the door shut behind him – loudly.

Snort.  Splutter.  Snurt.  Snur – snur…  Hccccghhk.

An open-mouthed, heavy-eyed head lifts – slowly – from the pillow.  It blinks at the square-shouldered figure now leaning, nonchalantly, arms folded, on the closed door.

Confusion.  Bleary eyes are rubbed.  Recognition.  More confusion.  A trickle of drool is sucked in.

The Kid pushes up his hat with one finger.  “Howdy.”


---oooOOOooo---

OUT IN THE STREET

Heyes reads the name above the sheriff’s office: ‘Jedediah Jones’.

His brows narrow.  “Spooky,” he murmurs.  He sets his shoulders, loosens his bandana with a nervous finger, visibly screws up his courage to the sticking place – and runs up the steps.


---oooOOOooo---

HOTEL ROOM


Jason is now sitting up on the bed.  He continues to stare at Kid Curry.  He scratches at his thick thatch.

“Thaddeus Jones?”

“Got it in one.”

“Didn’t ya use to have a moustache?”

“Uh huh.”

Jason’s squints at him, mulling hard.  “Good call on the shave.”


---oooOOOooo---

SHERIFF’S OFFICE – NO AUDIBLE DIALOGUE – MUSIC ONLY

Heyes walks up to the sheriff’s desk and, raising a hand to his mouth, coughs.

The sheriff, a grizzled individual, pauses in his paperwork and looks up, enquiringly, at the mild-mannered young man with the charming smile.

Heyes speaks.

The sheriff sighs, opens a file – rummages among the documents.


---oooOOOooo---

HOTEL ROOM

Jason now has his pants on, though the suspenders still hang loose by his thighs.  He pours coffee for himself and – after an enquiring look – for the Kid.

“Now, we never said as much…” Jason hands a steaming mug to Curry.  “But, I took it we’d agreed no hard feelings over what happened up at Clarence’s cabin.  Not that I have the foggiest idea what did happen – like I said at the time.”

“Grudges are for folks with bad stomachs,” agrees Curry.  “Especially when all the money’s spent on hospital bricks and mortar anyhow.”

Jason grins, affably, at this, but his eyes flick away.


---oooOOOooo---

SHERIFF’S OFFICE – NO AUDIBLE DIALOGUE – MUSIC ONLY

The sheriff selects a document from his file.  He takes out a pair of reading glasses from his vest pocket, dons them, and holds the paper at arms’ length from himself and Heyes.  The camera zooms in revealing it to be a timetable headed:

‘Circuit judge scheduled visits – Lake County.’

A calloused finger runs down the list of towns – then across the columns of dates.

Heyes nods.  He speaks, shakes the sheriff’s hand and leaves.

The sheriff watches him go.  Then he replaces the timetable in its file, sits and – with another sigh – picks up his pen.


---oooOOOooo---

HOTEL ROOM

“You’ve fallen on your feet, anyhow.  I hear you own this place.”  Curry takes a swallow of coffee.  “How’d that happen?”

“Well, you won’t believe this…”

“Try me.”

“I won the money in a game of Montana Red Dog.”  Jason laughs, affably.  He meets Curry’s eyes, all friendliness.

“That sure is something,” nods Curry.  He laughs too – and there is a certain admiration in the blue gaze.  “You won’t mind me an’ Joshua tryin’ to win a little of that luck back off ya at your tables?”

“Sure – help yourself,” offers Jason.  “Tell you what, room and board is on me.  Least I can do.  ‘Cos, I like you two fellas.  I always did.”

“D’ya know what – despite everything – we kinda like you too.”


---oooOOOooo---

STREET

Hannibal Heyes emerges from the telegraph office with the air and dimpled smile of a job well done.  He rubs his hands together, takes a deep breath of spring air and heads back to the saloon.


---oooOOOooo---

A POKER TABLE

A beaming Heyes lays a full house on the table and pulls a modest pot towards him.  “Seems my luck is in.”

“Seems your luck’s been in two whole days,” grouses a youthful cow poke.

“Must be – what was it? – the luck of the righteous,” joshes Jason.  “I’m beginning to regret my hospitality to you two fellas.”

“It’s not much of your money I’m winning.  Not with you sticking to minimum bets.”

“Must be my cowardly nature when it comes to gambling.”  With a twinkle, “Can’t think where I picked it up.”

The boys exchange a glance.  And a smile.  Their expressions suggest Curry was telling the truth, they can’t help kinda liking him.

“If I get the drinks,” offers Heyes, “will that ease your regrets about the hospitality?”

“Usually does.”  Jason turns to the ever-colorful Florence who sits beside him.  “Will you fetch us all a beer, honey?”

“Hey.  I’m your fee-on-say, not just some saloon gal!”

“You still got legs, don’t ya?”

With a pout she stands.  Heyes drops a few notes on her tray.  “Beers for everyone – and one for yourself, Florence.”  Off she flounces.

“When d’ya plan on marryin’ that fee-on-say of your’n, Jason?” asks a stubbly beard.

Blue and brown eyes flick, momentarily, towards each other, curious.

“Oh – when my ship comes in.”  Jason gives an affable grin.  “Mind, we are a good ways from the sea here.”

“They say a man don’t know what happiness is till he marries,” remarks Stubbly Beard, shuffling the deck.

“An’ by then – it’s too late,” sighs a bald pate, tossing in his stake money.

A ripple of conversation and laughter over by the door attracts the attention of the poker table.  A cluster of ranch hands move aside, some touching their hats, as two women pass.

“Don’t fancy yours much,” Young Cow Poke giggles, under his breath, indicating the elder of the two new arrivals to Kid Curry.

He encounters a disapproving look from a pair of cool blue eyes, clears his throat and studies his cards attentively.

Led by Heyes and Curry, the players rise to their feet as the women approach the poker table.  Both, in their evident respectability, provide a contrast to the painted faces, gaudiness and exposed charms of the saloon gals.  With the younger the contrast is marked, but not exaggerated, as she is fashionably dressed, bustled and be-ribboned, flower trimmed hat at a jaunty angle.  She is, of course, Clementine Hale.

With the elder lady the contrast is – overwhelming.  She is clad in an untrimmed, grey calico dress fastened high at her throat.  Mousey hair is drawn straight back from a tired, pale face into a small bun worn low on her neck.  Her modest bonnet is innocent of any adornment.  Much-darned cotton gloves cover her hands, which wring together, as the men regard her, curiously.  Pink-rimmed eyes search the faces and fasten onto Jason.  She opens her mouth as if about to speak, her lip wobbles – and no sound emerges.  She stares at Jason, blinking nervously.

He stares back, with an expression that suggests genuine brain-racking, but no actual recognition.  “Can I help you, ma’am?”

“Oh, Jason,” she murmurs.  Then, with a catch in her voice, “Don’t you know me?”

Jason leans forward, searching.  Then, “Martha!?  Martha Pudney?  It can’t be.”

Florence arrives back at the table in time to hear this and to see Jason’s astonished expression.  She deposits her tray on the table with a thump which sets Bald-Pate, Stubbly and Youthful-Poke to rapid mopping up.  Hooking her arm, possessively, through Jason’s, she scans the trembling older woman from head to toe.

“What’s going on, Jason?”

Before he can reply Martha half says, half sobs, “Oh, Jason.  Look at you.  Gambling, drinking, consorting with a – with a…”  Martha gulps.  A quivering finger indicates Florence.  “A woman like that.”

“A woman like what?” demands Florence.  “I’ll have you know – I’m his fee-on-say!  Who the Sam Hill are you?”

“I’m his wife!”

The reactions to this statement are various.

Saloon gals, customers, poker players:  Amusement plus avid curiosity.
Heyes and Curry:   Interested, watching for Jason’s reaction.
Florence: Utter disbelief.  Doubt.  Suspicion.  Outrage directed first at Jason, then at Martha.  Confusion.  The need for a drink.  The taking of a drink.

As for Jason, there is a momentary pause, a blink, a visible rechecking of Martha – pitiful in her near tearful state, then: “Come now, Martha.  We may have had a few good times – back in the day – but we were never married.”

“Oh, Jason,” murmurs Martha, “how can you?”

“You – you liar!” storms Clem.  “You abandoned your lawful wife in her hour of need…”

“My dear young lady,” soothes Jason, “whatever this woman has told you…”

“This woman?”  Martha dabs her eyes with a handkerchief.  “Oh, Jason.”

“I ask you…” Jason appeals to the fascinated audience.  “Am I the kind of man who’d abandon his wife?”

A pause.  One or two customers shuffle their feet.  Others fail to meet his eyes.  A be-feathered brunette and her buxom friend stare at their employer, stony-faced.  The tiny, emerald-satined redhead beside them nods vigorously.  Jason scowls at her and she hangs her head.

Clem stamps her foot.  “You DID marry her and you DID abandon her.  And we’ll prove it!”

“Prove it?  My dear young lady, how?”

Clem appears flummoxed.

“Your aunt could apply to a judge,” suggests Heyes.  “For – y’know – restitution of a wife’s rights.”

Jason shoots an annoyed glance at Heyes.

“My aunt will apply to a judge,” echoes Clem.

“’Course,” muses Heyes, ever helpful, “there’s no courthouse in Wilksburg.  You’d have to travel to the county seat.  Maybe hire a lawyer.”

“I don’t know…” wavers Martha.  She bows her head.  “The journey here cost so much.”

“No need for that,” chips in Bald-Pate.  “Judge Haddon will be here tomorrow – his quarterly visit.  Mrs. Hollo…” He glances at Jason and tactfully alters the phrasing.  “This good lady can ask the sheriff to add her case to his schedule.”

“We’ll do that!” triumphs Clem.  “Come along, Aunt Martha.  As for you…!”  Her dark eyes scathe Jason thoroughly.  “We’ll see YOU in court!”

She sweeps out, nose in the air, with Martha trailing in her wake.


---oooOOOooo---

NEXT MORNING

An aproned barkeep pushes around a broom in a half-hearted manner.  Otherwise the place is deserted, save for Jason, Heyes and Curry.  The threesome sit at a small table, consuming ham, eggs and coffee with varying degrees of enthusiasm.



“I haven’t seen Martha for – oh, must be near eighteen years.”  Jason chews, reminiscently.  “She used to be so pretty.  Full of fun, too.”

“Back when you married her?” Heyes’ question is nonchalant.

“Back when I…” Blink.  “Now, Joshua, you know I never married her.  Don’t you?”

Heyes gives a neutral facial shrug.  He sips his coffee.

“You believe me, don’t you, Thaddeus?”

Curry gives him a sceptical look and spears another slice of ham with his fork.

“I see!”  Offended, “You think I’m a liar.”

“Jason, we know you’re a liar,” says Heyes.

“A dang good liar,” Curry adds, not without admiration.

“Don’t mean we don’t still kinda like you.  We like to think there’s a little bad in everyone.”

“I’m not lying ‘bout having married Martha.”

No response.  The continued mastication has an unconvinced quality.

“I’m not.”

“It don’t matter what we think,” remarks Curry.  “It only matters what the judge thinks.”

“Even what he thinks don’t matter,” corrects Heyes.  “All that matters is what Martha can prove.”

“You know, you’re smart fellas…”

“Oh,” responds Heyes, “we know.”

“’Specially him,” chips in Curry.  “He really knows.”

“That trick Joshua came up with, with the listening tube...  The way you both played Doc Beauregard… What Joshua said about proof just now…” Jason regards Heyes thoughtfully.  “You’re real persuasive too.  You could help me -- y’know – put things to the judge in the right way.”

“I guess we could,” admits Curry.  “But why would we?”

“’Cos like you said – you kinda like me.”

The boys exchange a glance.  No enthusiasm.

“And,” Jason tempts.  “I could make it worth your while.”

Heyes’ expression wavers.  He leans forward.  “Jason, how much did you pay for this place?”

“Fifteen hundred dollars – why?”

“Let’s say – Thaddeus and me, we think that’s the sum owing to us.  We’ll help you for fifteen hundred dollars.”

Two sets of dark eyes hold each other.

“Not that I have the foggiest notion of what you’re talking about,” says Jason, “but wouldn’t a straight thousand – two outta three shares – be fairer?  Assuming you’re thinking of any hypothetical money that didn’t end up in a hospital wing.”

“Fifteen hundred,” repeats Heyes.

“IF the judge decides in my favor.”

Heyes thinks for a moment.  “Agreed.”

“NOT agreed,” protests Curry.  To Jason; “D’ya mind if we talk this over?”

“Oh, not at all.”

The partners move aside.  However, from Jason’s reactions – it appears they are not completely out of earshot.

“You’re not sayin’ you believe him?” asks Curry.

“No,” responds Heyes, carefully.  “I’m not saying that.  I’m not saying either way.”

“So, why would we help him?”

“Did you not hear the part about making it worth our while?”

“The man cheated us.”

“Yeah.  But, did you not hear the part about him making it worth our while?”

“Cheatin’ us is one thing.  But cheatin’ that poor, sweet, innocent little lady.  His own wife.”

“We don’t know she’s his wife.”  A frown.  “Okay, hang on a minute.”

Heyes walks back to the table.  Jason turns his head rapidly away and feigns great interest in a framed portrait of Abraham Lincoln hanging on the opposite wall.  He starts, convincingly, as Heyes addresses him.

“This fifteen hundred dollar payment…”

“Uh huh?”

“Does it hold good so long as only one of us helps you?”

“Sure.  So long as the one is you.”

“Thanks.”  The more persuasive member of the duo rejoins his partner.  “No problem, Thaddeus.  You’re free and clear to stay out of it.”

Curry emanates disapproval at Heyes.  Heyes responds with a dimpled smile.

“Right,” says Curry.  “I will.”  He stomps out of the saloon.


---oooOOOooo---

A CAFÉ

At a table are gathered a collection of ladies.  No, make that women.

Clementine, Martha, the three saloon gals we know work for Jason and an individual whose snowy apron and large serving spoon suggest she owns the place.

“Don’t cry, honey.”  Blonde pats Martha’s hand, comfortingly.  “He ain’t worth it.”

“Men are such pigs,” consoles Redhead.

“Swine, all of ‘em,” concurs Brunette.

“Trouble is,” offers the café owner, “sometimes a woman gets all excited about nothing, then – she marries him.”

A deep cough causes their heads to turn.  It is Kid Curry.

“Hello, Thaddeus,” chirps Petite-Redhead.

Clementine shoots a suspicious glance at first her, then at the ex-outlaw.  He does not meet her eyes, but a faint flush shows on his cheeks.

He sweeps off his hat and, despite the disapproving frowns aimed at him – presumably because he is a man – he approaches the table.

To Martha, “Mrs – er… Ma’am, I just came over to say I was real sorry about… Well, about all this.”

“Thank you, Mister – er…”

“Thaddeus Jones,” supplies Redhead, earning another searching look from Clem.  

“I was wond’rin’ if there’s anything I can do to help?”

“Such as what?”  Blonde – who is noticeably older than her companions –  sounds dubious.

“Have you had breakfast?” asks the café owner.  “Can I get you anything?”

“Er… Ham and eggs would be fine, ma’am,” says the Kid, diplomatically ignoring question one.

“There’s no need to be rude, Madge,” says Petite-Redhead.  “I’m sure there’s something Thaddeus can do.”

“Maybe Jason has let slip somethin’ useful about his past to Florence?” suggests Brunette.  “I dunno what Jason sees in her.”

“I do,” remarks Blonde.  Darkly, “Men are such pigs.”

“They sure are,” agrees Café Owner placing a plate in front of the Kid.  Seeing his face, she adds, “No offense.”

Redhead addresses the ex-outlaw, eagerly.  “You could get Florence drunk, find out all she knows.”

“Get Florence drunk?”  Curry chews on that.  “I don’t think I could.”  Pause.  He dips a little bread in his yolk.  “Not if the hearin’ starts at two, anyhow.”


---oooOOOooo---

THAT AFTERNOON

“…Now, whatever this place is the rest of the week, for the duration of this afternoon, this is not a school house nor is it a church.”

The silver-haired, bushy browed man seated at…

Well, at what is presumably – just at present – neither the teacher’s desk, nor the pulpit.

He frowns sternly at the folk seated on the wooden benches before him.  On one side is Jason, Florence and Heyes – all gussied up in his best, brown suit.

On the other side sit Aunt Martha, Clementine and Kid Curry, also suited up.  Further back sit most of the individuals we have seen so far and assorted townsfolk.

To one side sits the sheriff, seemingly underwhelmed by the proceedings.

“So long as I’m in this chair, this building is a court house and I expect it – and proceedings within it – to be treated with all the respect that implies.  Is that clear?”

If silence equals consent – apparently it is clear.

“Now, this is not a trial – there is no jury.  What this is, is an appeal for a legally binding arbitration by me.  Both parties have to agree they are willing to be bound by my decision.  If either party wants to take their case to a jury – that’s their right, but it’ll have to be scheduled in, and it sure won’t be this month and it won’t be here in this town.  Understand?  And, what neither party can do – is get my decision, then say they want to go to a jury because they didn’t like it.  Understand?”

Again silence.  The Judge – Judge Haddon – sighs heavily.

“Mister Holloway…”

Jason stands up.

“…Are you content to accept my decision following a hearing today?”

“Sure thing, Judge.  Let’s get it over, as the upside-down actress said to the…”  Jason tails off in the face of the basilisk stare from under those beetle brows.  “Yes, sir.”

“And you, ma’am…” Judge Haddon turns to Martha.  She stands, her hands plucking at her skirt.  “Do you agree?”

“Oh, yes, sir.”

His gaze softens a touch at her evident nervousness.  “Nothing to be frightened of, ma’am.”  To the sheriff.  “Swear ‘em in.”

The sheriff approaches Jason carrying a leather-bound Bible.

“Jason Holloway, raise your right hand, put your left on the book.  D’you swear to tell th’truth thowl’truth ‘n’ nothinbud th’truth, sow’help y’God?”

Jason throws out his chest impressively.  “I most surely do!”

The sheriff strides over to Martha.  “Martha Pudney, also known as Martha Holloway, raise your right…”


---oooOOOooo---

A MINUTE OR SO LATER

Judge Haddon consults his notes.

“The case brought by this lady here – born Martha Pudney – is that she is lawfully married to Jason Holloway and has been deserted by the same.  She is applying for restitution of conjugal rights.  Is that right, ma’am?”

“Oh, yes, sir.”

“Mister Holloway, while not denying prior acquaintance with the lady, does deny that any marriage took place.  Is that right?”

“Got it in one, Your Honor.”

Again he receives a hard stare.

“Again, this is not a trial – the only lawyer here today is me – I will ask questions of fact.  Either of you may ask additional questions, or, if you have a nominated person to support you, he may do so on your behalf.  Is that clear?  Very well.”  He turns to Martha.  “As claimant, ma’am, it is for you to make your case – please step forward.”

She does step forward.

“When did the – alleged – marriage take place?”

“It was in 1864, sir.  In November.  November the third.”

“And, where did it take place?”

“In Rand, sir.  Rand, Illinois.”

“Did you live in Rand, ma’am?”

“Yes, sir.  I worked in one of the hotels.”

“How had you met Mister Holloway?”

“He had a job at the grist mill.  Of course….” She lowers her eyes.  “He lost that.”

“Who carried out the wedding ceremony?”

“Oh, a proper judge, sir.  Like yourself.  Jason didn’t want a church affair.”

“And, the judge’s name?”

Martha’s hand flutters over her mouth.  “I don’t precisely recall...” Helpfully, “It might have begun with an ‘M’.”

Judge Haddon makes a note of the letter.

More doubtfully; “Or perhaps it was ‘B’.  Or ‘T’.”

The current judge regards Martha from under lowered brows.  “Uh huh?”  He does not make further notes of these letters.  “I take it this wedding had witnesses?”

“Oh, yes, sir.  Two of them.  Just like the law says.” Confidingly, “Jason didn’t want a big wedding – he didn’t want a lot of fuss.”

“Uh huh.”  The judge switches his gaze to Jason.  Jason returns him a cheery smile.  The gaze is not one of approval and the smile gradually fades.  Heyes tugs his collar with one finger and – unobtrusively – shifts an inch or two away from Jason.  “Hmph,” sniffs Judge Haddon.  To Martha, “Do you recall who these witnesses were?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, that’s something.  Tell me their names.”

“Their names?”  Martha’s hand flutters to her mouth again.  “One was the judge’s wife, so she was Mrs – er…”

“M. Or B or T.”

“That’s right, sir.  The other witness was a friend of Jason’s.  Well, I say a friend.  I don’t think he’d known him long…”  She turns to Jason.  “You’d met him the night before, hadn’t you, dear?”

“And his name?” prompts Judge Haddon.

“Let me think,” murmurs Martha.  “It’s on the tip of my tongue.  He was called…”  She searches.  Then, triumphantly; “His name was… Lefty!”  

There is laugher from some of the townsfolk.  Some of the less reputable male townsfolk.

Judge Haddon has begun to note the name before either it or the laugh fully registers.  His brows snap together.  “Silence!  I don’t suppose, ma’am, you have a copy of your marriage license?”

“Oh, no, sir.  Jason took it – to keep it safe.”

“Uh huh.”  Judge Haddon regards Martha, steadily.  His expression suggests sympathy.  “I don’t think I have anything else to ask you, ma’am.”

Clementine nudges Kid Curry, hard.  He gets to his feet.

“And you are…?”

“Jones, sir.  Thaddeus Jones.”

“Are you a relation?”

“No, sir.”  A glance down at Clem.  “I’m a friend of the family.”

“Go ahead.  Keep it short.”

“Your wedding ring, ma’am.  Was it engraved with your initials?  Maybe a date?”

“My ring?” wavers Martha.  “Jason never bought me a ring.”

“He didn’t even buy you a ring?”  The Kid shoots a disgusted look in Jason’s direction.

There is a murmur of disapproval from the feminine contingent in the audience.

“He said we’d be better spending the money on a place to stay.”

“Did he give you any presents at all?”

“He picked me a bunch of bellflowers, to carry as my wedding bouquet.  I kept one pressed in my Bible – but I lost it.”

“Did he write you any letters?”

“Letters – oh, no.  Why would he?”

“Some fellas do write love letters, ma’am, when they’re courtin’.”

“I don’t think Jason would see any sense in that,” says Martha.

Another ripple of censure among the crowd.

“How long were you together?”

“A few months.”

“Was it,” Curry hesitates, then makes his voice very gentle, “a happy marriage?”

“Well,” Martha shoots a look at Jason.  She says nothing.

“Did your husband drink?” asks the Kid.

Martha hangs her head.

“Remember, you’re on oath,” the judge reminds her.

“Did he drink?” repeats Kid Curry.

A nod.

“Did he gamble?”

A nod.

“With the money you earned?”

A nod.

“Did he…”  Very gently.  “Run after other women?”

Martha’s head comes up.  “Well, he always said I was wrong about that.”

There is a hiss from the back of the room.  Heads turn.  From the folded arms and stony expressions of Blonde, Redhead and Brunette, Jason’s employees do not believe his denials.

“Did you try to be a good wife?” asks Curry.

“Oh yes.  I cooked his meals.  I sewed his shirts.  I cleaned up after him.  And as for other wifely obligations…” Martha turns away, bashfully.  “I was dutiful.”

“How come you didn’t stay together?”

“Jason moved – to find work.  Folk were moving a lot back then – what with the war and all.  I went to stay with a friend in Tennessee.   Jason was going to send for me.  But I got this knock on the head…”

“A knock on the head?” interrupts Judge Haddon.

“There was an explosion in the next street, sir.  A box fell on my head and knocked me out.”

“This was during the war?”  The judge is trying to get this clear.

“Yes, sir.  Not a battle nor nothing – just, y’know.  I don’t recall it real well…”

“Because, you were knocked out?”

“Yes, sir.  I was sick for a time and I suffered from…” Martha’s pale eyes blink.  “I think doctors call it amnesia.”

“You lost your memory?” says Kid Curry.

“That’s right.  After I did get my memory back, I looked to find Jason, but...  Then I thought, maybe he didn’t want to be found.  So, I got work in a hotel and just got on with my life.”

“So, what’s changed?” asks Judge Haddon.  “Why seek him out now?”

“Well, sir.  I’m not getting any younger.   My hands…” Martha holds them up.  “I don’t scrub so well, now.  I get so tired.  And my eyes… I don’t sew so well as I used to.  Work is hard to find.”

Sympathy runs around the court.

“But I could cook and sew and clean for one man.  And if he’s my lawful husband…It is his duty.”  Her voice tails off.  The handkerchief comes up to her eyes.  “Please, Jason, I so want a home of my own.”

The judge clears his throat.  It appears even he is a little touched.  

“May Miss Clementine Hale say a few words, Your Honor?” asks Kid Curry.

“Who is Miss Clementine Hale?”

“She’s this lady’s niece, sir.”

“My folks and my sisters are all gone, sir,” quavers Martha.

“Make sure it is a few words,” grunts Judge Haddon.

Clementine steps forward.

“Miss Hale,” begins Curry.  “Did your aunt tell you about her marriage?”

“Yes.  Ever since I was a little girl, she told me about how she was married when she was young – but how her husband abandoned her.  She said he was tall, dark and handsome…”  Clem shoots at scowl at Jason.  “Well, he used to be.  But that he was no good.  She said she never should have married him.  She told me how he let her work her fingers to the bone…” Clem is warming to her tale.

“Ah hem!” Hannibal Heyes has risen to his feet.  “Am I right in thinking Miss Hale is repeating the words of her aunt – she is not claiming to be a witness to the alleged wedding, or even the alleged marriage?”

“So?” challenges Clem.

“Isn’t that hearsay, Your Honor?”  Heyes dimples towards Judge Haddon.

“Of course it is,” huffs Clem.  “I heard my aunt say it.  All of it!”

“I’m afraid, Mister…”

“Smith, your honor,” Heyes responds to the mute question conveyed by the imposing eyebrows.  “Joshua Smith.”



“How come you’re speaking up for the defendant?  You a relative of his?”

“An old acquaintance, your honor.  We have a…” Heyes flickers a glance at Jason.  “A mutual interest in a medical investment.”

Judge Haddon subjects Heyes to a searching, cynical stare, before turning back to Clem.  “Mister Smith is right.  Unless you have solid evidence, Miss Hale, please sit down.”

“Humph!” Glowering hard at the dimpled one, Clem flounces back to her seat.

“May I ask the claimant one or two questions, Your Honor?” asks Heyes.

“Get on with it.”

Despite Heyes donning the full glory of his winning smile, Martha shrinks back as he faces her.

“May I just summarize the testimony you’ve given, ma’am?”

She nods.

“You’ve no marriage license?”

“No.”

“You’ve no witnesses?”

“No.”

“You have nothing that links you to Jason Holloway at all.  Not a scrap of paper with his writing on it.  Not so much as a pressed flower?”

Martha shakes her head.

“You don’t even have a wedding ring.”

She droops, sadly.

“And, by your own admission, you suffered a head injury which caused real problems with your memory.”

“Well, yes…”

“So, you might think you remember going through some kind of ceremony with this man…” A slim finger indicates Jason.  “But all the time be honestly mistaken.  It might be – wishful thinking.”

A disgruntled blonde emits a loud, “Hah!” at the words ‘wishful thinking’.
A discontented redhead offers up, “Pffftttt!”

They are silenced by a glare from the judge.

“Well, the wedding day is a little hazy,” admits Martha.  “But I remember,” she turns away, eyes lowered modestly, her voice drops to a whisper.  “Other things.”

“These other things you remember, ma’am…” Heyes is being tactful.  “Are they things that can, just sometimes, happen between unmarried couples?”

“Oh!”  Martha covers her mouth.  “I’m sure I would never…!  Oh!”

The judge sees she is visibly shaking.  She places a hand on her heart and closes her eyes, swaying.  There are murmurs of sympathy from the crowd.  In a kindly tone Judge Haddon asks, “Would you like a chair, ma’am?”

She nods.

Kid Curry darts from his place and sets a chair for her.  After a glance at the Judge to obtain permission, he pours her a glass of water.

“Boo!” comes a blonde voice from the crowd.  

“Hiss!”

“Pigs!”

“Ladies and gentlemen!”  Judge Haddon bangs his gavel.  I cannot allow this heckling of Mister Smith.  He glowers at the ex-outlaw.  “However well deserved it may be.”  The noise dies down.  “I think it’s time I heard from the defendant.  Come up here, Mister Holloway.”

Jason approaches the judge.

“Did you know this lady back in 1864?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“You were working…” Judge Haddon consults his notes.  “At the grist mill in Rand?”

“Yes, sir.”

The judge’s eyes examine Jason from head to foot.  “You seem a fairly healthy man, Mister Holloway.  Back in ’64 you must have been – what – mid-twenties?”

“Twenty-five, sir.”

“Why weren’t you fighting?”

An utterly sincere gaze, “I couldn’t reconcile taking up arms with my Quaker upbringing, Your Honor.”

Heyes mouth falls open.  He gazes at Jason with something like pure admiration.  Across the aisle, Curry rolls his eyes.

“Your Quaker…” Judge Haddon lowers his brows.  “Don’t you run a saloon?”

“I – lapsed,” offers Jason.

“Humph.  You heard this lady’s account of your marriage – is there any truth in it?”

“Not one word, Your Honor.”

“Oh, Jason – how can you lie to my face so?” moans Martha from her chair.

Murmurs of sympathy for her, and hostility against Jason.

“I assure you, sir…” Jason is addressing the judge.  “I am the only kind of man who never lies to his wife.”

“What kind of man is that?”

“A bachelor, sir.”

Laughter from some of the crowd.

Judge Haddon leans forward.  “You’re telling me – on oath – you’ve never been married?”

“I've sometimes thought of marrying, Your Honor – but I've always thought again.”

Laughter.

“You see, my pa always told me marriage is like a bank account; you put in, you take out, you lose interest.”

More laughter.  Even Heyes awards that one an appreciative grin, but switches to a disapproving frown at a glower from Clem.

“Mister Holloway!”  The gavel bangs.  “This is not a music hall!”

“He isn’t married to her!”  Florence has, to the evident surprise of both Jason and Heyes, swayed to her feet.  “He’s my fee-on-say!  He’s gonna marry me.  If he already had a wife – that’ud be…”  She searches.

“Bigamy,” supplies Jason.

“I dunno it’ud be big of ya, honey.  It’ud be all wrong.  This ain’t Utah.”

“Mister Holloway, are you proposing to marry this…” Judge Haddon searches for an appropriate word.  “Individual?”

“He ain’t exactly proposed yet,” admits Florence.  “But I’m workin’ on it.”

“The thing is, Your Honor,” explains Jason, in a confidential tone.  “Marriage means commitment.  A bit like – insanity.”

Judge Haddon stares, with distaste, at Jason.  He turns to Heyes.  “I take it, being acquainted with him, you’re supporting Mister Holloway as some kind of character witness?”

“You could say that,” replies Heyes, carefully.

“Are you prepared to vouch for his honesty?”

A touch of anxiety flickers across Kid Curry’s eyes.

“Your honor,” declares Heyes, sincerity etched on every line of his face, one hand placed over his heart.  “I can vouch for Jason Holloway’s truthfulness, with the same confidence with which I vouch for my own.”

The Kid lowers his head to hide a wry smile.

The judge’s shrewd expression suggests the cautious phrasing has not escaped him.  “Uh huh.  I’ve heard enough.”  To Martha, “Ma’am, it is the opinion of this court that there is no legal proof that a marriage between yourself ever took place.  Your case is dismissed.”

Martha slumps and buries her face in her hands.

“Is that what you call justice?!” protests Clem, springing to her feet.

“No, it is not what I call justice.  It is what I call the law.  Now, sit down, young woman!”

Kid Curry places his hands on Clementine’s shoulders and gently pushes her back onto the bench.  She subsides, her dark eyes shooting daggers at Heyes.

Judge Haddon turns to Jason.  “It is further the opinion of this court that you, Jason Holloway, are a weasel.”

“A single weasel, Your Honor?” double checks Heyes.

The judge nods.  Jason beams and pats Heyes on the back.

“Unfortunately, there’s no law against being a weasel.”  The gavel bangs.


---oooOOOooo---

NEXT MORNING – STREET SCENE

Heyes and Curry lounge on a rail in front of what is clearly the fanciest hotel in town.  They are watching – with lazy indifference – a fancy private carriage being led down the street by a liveried servant.

“Joshua!  Hey!”

Brown and blue eyes flick away from the high stepping chestnuts.  Jason is striding toward them.  He nods, a shade cautiously, at the Kid.  “No hard feelings about yesterday, Thaddeus?  You and Joshua – you’re good?”

“Like I always say, grudges are for folk with bad stomachs.”

Jason turns to Heyes.  “Where did you disappear to last night, Joshua?  I thought you were gonna let me win back some of my $1500.”

“My $1500,” corrects Heyes.  “Nah.  You know how cowardly I am when it comes to gambling.”

“You spent some of it hiring fancier rooms than at the saloon, huh?”  Jason eyes the hotel.

“Nope.  I spent none of it yet.”

Jason is all curiosity.  “Where’d ya stay then?

“Here.  I didn’t pay – that’s all.”

“Someone picked up our bill,” chips in Curry.

“Here she is now,” says Heyes, turning and touching his hat.  “Morning, ma’am.  Good morning, Clem.”

Clementine walks out of the hotel.  Beside her is…

Jason’s mouth falls open.  It is Martha – but transformed.

She is expensively gowned.  Her well-tailored bodice clings to an enviable figure.  Her hair is dressed high beneath a daring tip-tilted hat.  Gleaming curls cluster around her neck.  What appear to be genuine pearls hang from her ears and are clasped around her neck.  Her skin glows.  Her lips and cheeks are rosy.  Her eyes sparkle a brighter blue – possibly because her lashes and brows are subtly darkened.  As she lifts her skirts to descend the steps she reveals not only a froth of lace petticoat, but a trim silk-clad ankle.

“Martha?!” gasps Jason.  “What have you done to yourself?”

“Done to myself?  Well…” A gloved hand primps a curl.  “I did wash my hair.”  Her voice is warm and teasing – completely unlike the cringing tones of yesterday.  She turns to direct two sweating hotel employees carrying a heavy trunk between them.  “That is to go on my carriage, thank you.”

The trunk is loaded onto the fancy carriage.  Martha withdraws a fat roll of bills from her reticule, peels off and hands over two generous tips watched by a still gawping Jason.

“Joshua, Thaddeus,” says Martha, “I can see why Clementine recommended you so highly.  You were both marvelous.  You’ve earned every penny of your fee.”

“Don’t mention it, ma’am,” says Curry, with his best blue-eyed smile.

“Our pleasure,” dimples Heyes, kissing her hand.

“Of course, I know you’re both rogues…” Martha twinkles as two ex-outlaws adopt expressions of surprised offence.  “Oh, yes you are!  Don’t deny it.  That’s why Clementine likes you so much.  She’s like me.  I never could resist a rogue…”  She bestows a kindly smile on Jason.  “Especially a handsome one, with a persuasive silver tongue.”  She turns back to the boys, “Clementine and I must be on our way.  I need to get back to my husband.”

“Your – husband?” echoes Jason.

“Yes, my husband, George.  We’ve been married sixteen years next month.”  Reminiscently, “He’s a bit of a rogue too, but so clever.  He preferred gambling with railway stocks to gambling with cards – but I always knew he’d fall on his feet and make a fortune.  And the children are just like him…”

“Children…” Jason gapes like a fish.  “But when you married this George you were already… And your children, they’re b…”

“Boys,” interrupts Martha, firmly.  “Three fine boys.”

“So, all that stuff about a head injury – and forgetting you were married, that was all lies.”

“Certainly not!” protests Martha, indignantly.  “I did get a knock on the head and was out for – ooh, seconds.”  She smiles, mischievously.  “And I’m sure I forgot about you, Jason, for days at a time.  Of course, I didn’t need to be hit by a box for that to happen.  It came quite naturally.   And, I may have told the judge I looked for you – but I never said how hard or how far afield.”

“You committed bigamy,” accuses Jason.

“No, she didn’t,” says Kid Curry, very firmly.

“And, she has a legal document from a judge proving she didn’t,” smiles Heyes.  “Signed and sealed.  It’s in the official record; the woman born as Martha Pudney was NOT married to anyone before 1867.”

“You see, I always knew George would make his fortune,” explains Martha.  “But it’s only recently he’s decided to run for office.  His picture will be getting into the newspapers more and more often.  Mine too – as his wife.”

“So, it was important no one seeing a photograph of Aunt Martha – the candidate’s loving, supportive wife - got the wrong idea,” Clementine tells Jason kindly.

“A wrong idea ‘bout her havin’ a skeleton in her cupboard,” says Curry.

“A skeleton who might think he could swindle hush money outta her,” clarifies Heyes.

“We all know, you can’t be too careful – with photographs,” twinkles Clem, with a sidelong glance at her two old friends.

“It’s been wonderful to see you after all these years, Jason,” smiles Martha.  “No hard feelings I hope.  Clementine, my dear, let’s go.”

The ladies kiss the cheeks of both ex-outlaws and are handed into the carriage.  Kid Curry closes the door, the coachman flicks the reins and the showy chestnuts trot away.

“You conned me,” Jason tells Heyes, not without admiration.  “Rolled me out like a mat!”

“Conned you?” protests Heyes.  “This would never have worked if it weren’t for the fact you’re more twisted than a cork screw!  We simply let you do what you do best.”

“Let’s say, we figured we owed ya one,” says Curry.

“No hard feelings?” checks Heyes.

A moment of annoyed fuming.  Then, “Nah,” decides Jason.  “I agree with you two, grudges are for folks with bad stomachs.  But, I do want you to give me a chance to win back some of that money I paid ya, Joshua.”

“Poker?” asks Heyes.

“Nope.  I’m bored with poker.”  Moving between the ex-outlaws, Jason lays a confiding arm across each boy’s shoulders.  “Have you two fellas ever played – Baltimore Black Cat?”

The threesome begins to walk down the street – away from the camera - towards the saloon.  Heyes and Curry exchange a glance as Jason’s convincingly smooth voice runs on:

“You might not be too familiar with the rules.  Each player gets six cards, except for the player on the dealer's right, who gets seven.  The second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays…”

“It is Tuesday,” says Heyes.

“Two jacks are a black cat.  But, if you get a third jack – that’s a dead cat.  You don’t want that.”

His voice grows fainter as they walk further away.  “

“What you really want is a king and a deuce, except in the morning…”

“You sure this is a real game?” checks Curry.

“Sure!  Would I lie to you?  In the morning, then you need a queen and a four…”


---oooOOOooo---

THE END



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_________________
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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Conjugal Bliss by Calico :: Comments

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Re: Conjugal Bliss by Calico
Post on Sat 02 May 2015, 6:20 pm by Penski
What a wonderful story, Calico!  Love how you have Sally Field playing a young Clem and an older aunt - very clever!  You had me not sure what was going on until the very end, which I loved!  Jason wasn't portrayed in the best light and I like how he got coming what he deserved.  
Another wonderful Virtual Season!  clap
Blissfully good!
Post on Mon 04 May 2015, 1:58 am by littlebluestem
What a fun story! I was as much in the dark as Jason was all along -- but I imagine I appreciated the twist much more than he did! This con turned out much better for our boys than that previous one involving Clem -- paid by Martha AND redress from Jason. Nice.

As ever, your writing style is glib and breezy -- such a pleasure to read! I can always picture HH and KC saying the lines -- and so many great ones! Just a few of my favorites:

“I’m not married to your aunt. And – if I were – she’d be better off without me, too.”

“Good call on the shave.” ( I agree!!)

“Get Florence drunk?” Curry chews on that. “I don’t think I could.” Pause. He dips a little bread in his yolk. “Not if the hearin’ starts at two, anyhow.”

“Your honor,” declares Heyes, sincerity etched on every line of his face, one hand placed over his heart. “I can vouch for Jason Holloway’s truthfulness, with the same confidence with which I vouch for my own.”

Thanks for a great episode! clap

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Re: Conjugal Bliss by Calico
Post on Mon 04 May 2015, 4:16 am by Lana Coombe
study genius goodjob thumbsup clap goodone
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Re: Conjugal Bliss by Calico
Post on Fri 08 May 2015, 12:54 am by CD Roberts
Oh, very funny story! Lots of laugh lines and set-ups all the way through and a great twist at the end.

I love the conversation between the boys about Jason:

"You’re not sayin’ you believe him?” asks Curry.

“No,” responds Heyes, carefully. “I’m not saying that. I’m not saying either way.”

“So, why would we help him?”

“Did you not hear the part about making it worth our while?”

“The man cheated us.”

“Yeah. But, did you not hear the part about him making it worth our while?”

That dialog sounds exactly like them. And, Jason, just in earshot. Wonderful! I giggled reading most of it; the spots where I wasn't giggling I was laughing out loud. Definitely a goodone
The only thing that puzzled me was that the Kid wasn't hurt or in jail. Isn't there some sort of rule about that this season?

Conjugal Bliss
Post on Fri 08 May 2015, 10:17 pm by Kid4ever
clap What a fun episode packed full of bantering, great characters (as well as the actors portraying those characters) and a plot that kept most of us in the dark until the end.

I think this would have played out as an awesome episode back in the day smile  It was easy to visualize as I read through it.

I'm pretty sure I had a grin on my face through most of it. biggrin
Brilliant story
Post on Mon 18 May 2015, 5:43 pm by Maz McCoy
Did I mention how much I like this? I mean I love this!
What's not to like? Calico brought back Jason..I mean it's Jason! Everyone loves the rogue.
Then we have Clem..and you can't go wrong with Clem..it's always gonna be fun if Clem is around.
Then there's another Clem..and a court room scene..well Heyes is bound to love that.
Ooh and a clever twist.
And another weird sounding game that no one is sure exists.
Bravo my little furrball!
Brilliant story.
 

Conjugal Bliss by Calico

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