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 4.12 As Safe As Safe Can Be by Sally Wheaton

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Join date : 2013-10-13

20150530
Post4.12 As Safe As Safe Can Be by Sally Wheaton



"Would it be stealing, Heyes?"

Heyes followed him into their hotel room and closed the door behind him. "It's our money," he replied thoughtfully.

"Hmm." Curry was quiet for a few moments. "And what about breaking into the house during the night and breaking into the safe?" he continued finally.

Heyes grinned. "Well Kid, I'm not exactly sure that part's legal."

"Me either." Curry returned the grin. "In fact, I'm downright sure it's not."

"And if it's not illegal, it ought to be."

"And it's not exactly moral in any case, is it? Even if it is our money."

"Kid, what's happening to us?"

"I guess we're just becoming honest, law abiding citizens."

"How did that happen though?"

"Well, if you don't know Heyes, then I'm sure I don't. So, if we're not going to break into the house and the safe to get our pay, do you have any other ideas?"

"We could tell her we could open the safe."



Starring

Pete Duel as Hannibal Heyes
Ben Murphy as Kid Curry


Guest Stars


Wally Cox as Sam

Mary Jackson as Mrs Sutton

James Stewart as Doc Murray

Ronnie Claire Edwards as Mrs Murray

Yul Brynner as Lester Washington



4.12 As Safe As Safe Can Be
by Sally Wheaton



Kid Curry threw his hand down and leaned back in his chair. It had been a long night of poker and he hadn't done too badly. His partner, Hannibal Heyes, who was sitting opposite him, had done better than him, as usual, certainly well enough that they would eat tomorrow. A small stakes poker game in a small town like this though, was never going to bring in more than enough to keep them going for a day or two and they still needed the work which was proving very difficult to find at the moment.

Curry watched as the hand was completed, one of the two cowboys next to him taking the pot. It was getting late now and the two cowboys excused themselves from the table and bid goodnight, leaving Heyes and Curry at the table with the third stranger in town, who had earlier introduced himself as Lester Washington. He was a tall man with little or no hair, it wasn't easy to tell under the black hat he wore. He hadn't said much during the evening, giving little away about his hand or for that matter, about himself. But he played poker fairly, even played it well, and Heyes had enjoyed the challenge, especially as he had eventually come out on top.

"You boys been in town long?" he asked.

"Just a couple of days," answered Curry.

"Staying long?" he asked, looking from one to the other of them.

"No," answered Heyes. "We'll be moving on tomorrow. We were looking for work but there's nothing to be found here."

"Hmm." Washington leaned back in his seat, considering. "You travel a lot?" he asked finally. "You know the West well?"

"I'd say so," smiled Heyes easily. "We've seen a fair bit of it."

"In that case," Washington leaned forward, smiling affably. "I may have a job for you, if you're interested that is?"

"What kind of job?" ventured Curry, trying not to appear too desperate for the work.
"It's a straightforward delivery job actually. Doesn't pay a lot. It is important that some papers get to their destination on time and in fact, I'll pay a healthy bonus if they arrive in time. You boys interested?"

"We're interested, " nodded Heyes. "Tell us more."

* * * * *

The sun beat down relentlessly on the dry, parched earth. The street was deserted, not a sound to be heard, the only movement a small lizard darting from under a small rock towards what had once been the boardwalk. He settled into the shade under the now broken wooden slats and once again the street returned to its familiar stillness. Somewhere in the distance, the rhythmic sounds of horses' hooves signalled the approach of the two riders.

They rode in silence, neither commenting on the town, though it was evident that both were taking in every detail. They rode past what had once been a café, wooden planks from the roof now lay on the street, the glass windows were broken and what remained of a pretty blue and white curtain, now threadbare, had become caught up on the jagged edge of the broken glass. On the ground, near the now open doorway, lay a sign advertising the house specialty of beef stew.

The building next door was in much the same state of disrepair. The doorway was open, the door itself long since gone, and the floor inside was littered with all manner of evidence of its former life as the town's obviously busy general store.

Out of nowhere, the quiet was broken by a loud crashing noise. Both riders turned immediately to look. The dark-haired man had his gun in his hand in an instant. The metal sign declaring 'A. Jackson, Blacksmith' rolled down the rotting wooden steps and came to a standstill on the street. Above it, the hook from which it had fallen was still swinging, the black beady eyes of the cat who had disturbed it, were still staring at it accusingly.

The blond man looked at the gun in his partner's hand, then catching his eye, he raised his eyebrows. There was no need for words and the gaze wasn't accusing, only puzzled.

Hannibal Heyes averted his eyes, holstered his gun and started again down the street. His partner was right, he knew. He had been somewhat jumpy lately. Maybe a little grumpy too, he admitted reluctantly. He didn't really know why, just the effects of being on the run for so long he supposed, but twice in recent weeks his usually quick and nimble mind had let him down. Was he losing his touch he wondered? Maybe he was out of practice? Stubbornly he pushed the negative thoughts from his mind. He was just tired was all. As soon as they'd completed this job and been paid, they could rest up somewhere quiet for a few days and enjoy some good food and easy gambling. Then everything would return to normal, he was sure. In the meantime though, the Kid could be right about one more thing too - it could bring them trouble.

They continued to ride past deserted, rickety buildings, uncared for in years - the doctor's office, the mining supplies office, the telegraph office. It was the same all down the street and still no sign of anyone. It was as if the town was empty.

"Heyes, you sure this is the right town?" Curry asked, puzzled.

Heyes opened his mouth to reply, but, realising the impatient tone he was about to use, managed to stop himself just in time. Curry didn't deserve that. Whatever it was that was getting to Heyes, it wasn't Curry and it wasn't Curry's fault.

He reached into the pocket of the dark blue shirt he wore and pulled out the letter they'd been hired to deliver. He checked the address and the directions they'd been given.

"Kearne Junction. That's what it says."

"That's what I thought," shrugged Curry. "Just don't look likely is all."

"Not your kind of town, Kid?" smiled Heyes.

Curry grinned back. "All those miles on horseback and nights sleeping on the hard ground - I gotta admit, I'd been hoping for a clean, comfortable hotel and a lively saloon."

"Lively saloon?" It was Heyes' turn to raise his eyebrows at Curry. "Plenty of poker games you mean, huh?"

Curry laughed out loud. "And that, Heyes, and that!"

Heyes shook his head, smiling too.

"Well, look at that." Curry pointed to his right to a big sign hanging above yet another dishevelled and apparently unused building. 'Sheriff's Office' it read.

"Our kind of town after all, Kid". Heyes smiled, his mood lifting considerably.

As they drew closer, they could see a white notice pinned to the door and Curry pulled up close enough to read it.

"Well," he grimaced "maybe not."

At Heyes' questioning expression, he continued "Sheriff Eli Barton."

"Eli Barton?" asked Heyes, slightly taken aback. "The Eli Barton who had us in jail back in ….?"

"Gotta be."

"But what would he be doing way back out here?"

"Maybe it's a different Eli Barton?"

"Yeah, maybe." Heyes didn't sound too convinced.

"Anyway," smiled Curry "it says he's out of town til Monday."

Heyes perked up. "Til Monday?"

"That's what it says."

"Oh well," said Heyes, relieved. "I reckon we can have this letter delivered and be long gone before Monday."

It was Curry's turn to sound doubtful as he looked around him.

"Sounds simple enough Heyes, but do you reckon there's anyone in this town to deliver that letter to?"

Heyes frowned a little. "Well, there's only one way to find out."

They drew up outside the hotel. The building didn't actually look too bad, well at least compared to the others in town. There was still no obvious sign of people and the wooden steps onto the porch had fallen away, but it did appear to have a roof at least.

Hopefully, they made their way in.

Inside, it did at least look habitable. There was dust on every surface and the floor was battered and dented, but there were a couple of old, but serviceable chairs, a threadbare carpet on the stairs and a reception desk in the corner, behind which was a board full of keys. On top of the reception desk were a couple of old newspapers and a yellowed hotel register. It looked encouraging Curry decided, maybe he really would be sleeping in a real bed tonight. On the other hand, there was still not a soul in sight.

As they wandered over to the desk, Heyes' attention was taken by the newspapers. Glancing at the date, he was pleased to see that it was only a couple of days old. The front page showed it was from the town of Howardsville. Heyes remembered passing through it a couple of hours ago. It was a decent sized town and fairly lively, but he hadn't realised it was a big enough place to warrant its own newspaper. He shook the paper open and his eyes were drawn to the story towards the bottom of the front page. His smile swiftly disappeared at the headline. He scanned the article and shook his head in disbelief.

"Heyes? You hear me?" Curry's voice broke through his concentration.

Heyes snapped his head up from the paper. "Uh? No, what did you say Kid?"

Curry waved a piece of paper at him. "It says to see Sam at the saloon" he smiled. "Looks like they're not busy enough to keep a 24 hour reception. C'mon."

Heyes nodded, threw the paper down on the floor in disgust and marched out of the hotel. Curry stared after him. What was rattling him? He bent to pick up the paper and put it back on the desk before following after his partner. As he did so, his eye was caught by the name Hannibal Heyes on the front page.

He rolled his eyes, expecting to read about Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry being blamed for yet another bank or train robbery, but as he read the article, a smile grew on his face. He stared out of the door after Heyes. So that was what was rattling him.

Curry hurried out of the door just in time to see Heyes enter the saloon. With another smile, he hurried over the street after him. He joined Heyes at the bar, just as the bartender was pouring two glasses of whisky.

"Busy place" smiled Heyes.

"Well it is now," answered the bartender drily. "We don't exactly get a lot of visitors round these parts and now all of a sudden two at the same time." He looked at Curry accusingly. Clearly, as the most recent stranger in town he was by far the most suspicious in the bartender's eyes.

Curry smiled at him. "You wouldn't happen to know where we could find Sam, would you?"

"Who wants to know?" he snapped.

"My name's Thaddeus Jones - I'm Joshua's partner." He replied, pointing at Heyes.

"Hmph." The bartender replied and then turned to Heyes. "Joshua," he smiled, nodding in acknowledgement.

Heyes gave him his best smile in return, lifted his glass to him and downed the whisky.

"So I guess we're talking to Sam, then?" he asked pleasantly.

"Sure are." Sam replied, refilling Heyes' glass.

As Curry downed his whisky and then pushed his glass towards Sam for a refill himself, Sam glared at him dubiously.

"You got money?" he asked.

"Now would I be asking for whisky if I didn't have money?" Curry replied, trying his best to remain patient.

Sam pulled the bottle quickly back towards him and squinted at Curry. "That don't sound like a yes to me."

Curry rolled his eyes in despair as Heyes chuckled.

"Sam, he's with me. I'll pay for his."

"Oh, well then, why didn't ya say?" smiled Sam, finally pouring Curry a large glass. Curry picked it up and lifted it to Sam in thanks.

"We're also looking for a hotel room" he added.

Sam's glance quickly turned to Heyes, who just about managed to keep a straight face as he assured him "I'll pay for the room too."

Sam seemed satisfied and bent to look under the bar. "You're in luck," he smiled. "We do have a room."

Heyes caught Curry's eye and this time had to stifle a chuckle.

"We did have a previous guest" Sam continued "but he left."

"Uh-huh," nodded Curry, trying his best to ignore Heyes who was now openly laughing. "When did he leave? Recently?"

Sam checked the register which he'd pulled out from under the bar.

"Let me see" he pondered. "Er, that would be …. Ten months ago."

Heyes shook his head, covering his mouth with his hand to hide his grin. Curry glared at him and nodded seriously at Sam.

After more fiddling under the bar, Sam produced a key. "Room 137," he said, handing the key to Curry, who thanked him. "So what brings you boys to town anyway?"

"A job," answered Curry. "We have some papers to deliver to a Mrs Sutton. You wouldn't happen to know where we'd find her would you? Now that you know who we are and why we're here an' all," he added with a grin.

Sam smiled back. "Well right now, no I don't. But I know where you'll find her tomorrow."

"Where would that be?" asked Heyes.

"She's out of town you see, until tomorrow."

"Ah," nodded Heyes. "I see. Then I guess we'll just have to wait until tomorrow."

"She lives at the last house on the right as you head out of town to the south."

"Thanks Sam," replied Curry.

"Say," asked Heyes, looking around the deserted saloon. "You get many people in here later?"

"Well now, generally we do, but tonight, let's see," he considered for a moment. "See now there's usually Bill from the ranch just north of town, and Abe and Frank, his foremen, but they won't be in town tonight, gotta get them fences mended in a big hurry. There's usually Joe who runs the store, but he's out of town visiting folks. The Doc is a regular too, but he's out of town - Mary at the Fraser Farm is due about now so he won't be back til after."

Heyes nodded. He was starting to get the picture - there wouldn't be any poker tonight.

"Jack should be in of course."

Heyes brightened a little - just maybe?

"Oh no," Sam scratched his head. "I just remembered, he's..."

"Out of town." Heyes and Curry finished for him in unison.

"Yeah, right." Sam nodded. "I forgot about that."

"Then, of course, there's the Sheriff but he's out of town too, til Monday." Sam shook his head.

"Not a popular town tonight is it?" smiled Curry.

"Huh?" Sam looked confused.

"I said a lot of people out of town tonight" Curry explained.

"Oh, yes, I guess there are, aren't there?" replied Sam, as if he hadn't realised that until now.

"Sam?" asked Curry. "Is there anyone in this town tonight other than you?"

"Why, yes, of course," said Sam, a little taken aback.

Curry raised his eyebrows as if he was surprised at the answer.

"Well, there's you two for starters," replied Sam defensively.

"Well then, I guess we're in for a quiet night," shrugged Heyes.

"You got any cards with you, Joshua?"

Heyes reached into his pocket and brought out a deck of cards with a grin. "Of course."

"Well then, let's play," smiled Curry. "Sam, you wanna join us?"

"Oh no, you two go ahead. I don't have time to play cards, I got work to do," and with that, he hurried off into a back room.

Heyes and Curry laughed, wondering what on earth could keep Sam so busy in such a quiet place. Picking up their glasses and the whisky bottle which Sam had left on the bar, they moved across to a table in the corner.

"I don't suppose there's any chance that the saloon girls will be along later?" Curry commented as he sat down.

"No," replied Heyes "no chance. Course, there's usually three of 'em, but they're..."

"Yeah, I know" interrupted Curry, laughing. "They're out of town."

As Curry poured more whisky, Heyes dealt the cards for a game of blackjack. "So when was the last time we had a whole saloon to ourselves you reckon, Kid?"

"Gotta be at least three weeks, if ever" Curry replied, picking up his cards.

"It beats looking over our shoulders to see if anyone knows us". Heyes dealt Curry a card.

"That's true. It also means that if I spot anyone cheating and I have to draw on them, then I'm not going to accidentally shoot an innocent bystander as well."

Curry nodded and Heyes obliged and dealt him another card, then looked up at him.

"You still might get shot yourself though."

"You've got a point," laughed Curry, throwing his cards on the table. "Bust."

Heyes turned over the dealer's cards, a seven and an eight, and then dealt the next card to himself, a six. "In any case," he asked innocently, looking up at Curry, "why would I need to cheat?"

Without looking up, Curry shrugged "Oh I dunno, you might be losing your touch."

He felt, rather than saw, Heyes' eyes on him, and realised what he'd just said. His expression became serious as he looked up to meet Heyes' gaze.

"I was joking," he said gently.

"You read it?"

Curry nodded.

"Who's Rudolph Reilly?" Heyes' tone was annoyed.

"I never heard of him. Just some outlaw who's learned how to open safes by manipulation, I guess."

"Just some outlaw who's learned to open safes the way Hannibal Heyes does. Maybe this guy has learned to open them faster or better than Hannibal Heyes ever did."

"It doesn't say that Heyes, just that he did it the same way as you do."

Heyes narrowed his eyes. "It said the way Hannibal Heyes used to, not the way Hannibal Heyes does."

"Heyes, no jobs have been attributed to us in, what, how long now? They have to know we retired."

"They've written me off Kid. In your words, they think I've lost it. They don't think I can do it anymore."

"Heyes, that's not what it says, and you and I both know that's not true anyway. How long is it since you last opened a safe huh? A few weeks? How could you have lost it?"

Heyes didn't answer, just dealt out the next game and Curry took that as a cue that he'd talked enough. He picked up his cards and smiling, placed them on the table.

"Twenty-one."

Heyes picked up his own cards, drew another, snorted and threw them on the table.

Curry laughed gently. "Not your night tonight, huh?"

Heyes shook his head and looked away, out of the window and across the deserted street. He saw Sam hurry across the street and into the dilapidated telegraph office. He opened his mouth to comment to Curry about it, but Curry spoke first, picking up the cards.

"Maybe you'll do better if I deal."

Always ready for a challenge, Heyes grinned and handed the deck to Curry. "Let's see, shall we?"

* * * * *

The following afternoon, Heyes and Curry made their way to the last house on the right on the way out of town to the south. The house was, of course, not in a good state of repair, but it looked a little better than most of the buildings around it. It looked barely habitable, Heyes thought, but on the other hand, they'd seen worse on their travels.

Curry knocked on the door and they waited … and waited. When no-one answered, Curry knocked again, much louder. This time the door was opened by a small, grey-haired woman who had to be at least sixty guessed Curry.

"Ma'am?" Heyes began, removing his hat. "My name is Joshua Smith and this here is my partner, Thaddeus Jones. We're looking for Mrs Sutton, Mrs Esther Sutton?"

She looked from one to the other, clearly sizing them up before answering. "I'm Esther Sutton. How may I help you gentlemen?"

"We have a letter for you, from a Mr Lester Washington. He hired us to deliver it to you personally."

"Oh yes, of course," she smiled at them warmly. "I've been expecting this. Please, come on in." She stood back and ushered them into the kitchen of the small house. The room was small, but cosy, with a neat line of pots and pans on the dresser. The room smelled of fresh baked bread and had a homely and well lived in feel.

"Mr Smith and Mr Jones?" she repeated, though without any hint of suspicion. "Please sit down."

Heyes handed her the letter which she took immediately and read, nodding every now and then. She unfolded the accompanying sheet of paper and again nodded her approval, seeming happy with the contents.

"Gentlemen," she smiled. "This is excellent news. Just what I've been waiting to hear and you've made it in such good time, well ahead of tomorrow's deadline in fact. I hear you arrived in town last night? I wasn't expecting you so soon." She glanced up at them. They were both looking at her expectantly. She smiled at them. They seemed like two nice young men - neat and clean and very well spoken and polite.

They were both still gazing at her a little wide-eyed - obviously waiting for news of their pay, she realised.

"Yes," she said. "You've done an excellent job, thank you to you both."

They looked quickly at each other. "Ma'am?" Curry began.

She held her hands up in the air to stop him. "On the subject of your pay for the job, I see that Mr Washington has asked me to pay you one hundred dollars each plus a bonus of one hundred dollars for delivering the letter before the deadline." She smiled to herself as they both visibly relaxed. "And I intend to make sure you receive your pay right away - 300 dollars in total, yes?"

"That's what we agreed with Mr Washington," answered Heyes. "Thank you ma'am. We appreciate that."

"If you'll just give me a moment, I'll get it out of the safe." She said as she moved towards the door in the corner of the room.

Heyes stood up and as she passed him, she gently pushed him back down into his chair. "You wait here and I'll be right back." She smiled at him reassuringly.

Heyes nodded and sat down, but watched her go into the other room and then bend to turn the dial on a small safe in the corner. She stood up straight and then bent again and then stood up again, placed her hands on her hips and then tried again. Heyes could clearly see that the safe wasn't open.

A few moments later, she returned to them, looking serious and worried. "Oh dear, oh dear," she shook her heard.

Curry glanced at Heyes and asked "What is it?"

"I don't know how to tell you this, I'm afraid." She looked extremely concerned, a little nervous even.

"Tell us what?" asked Heyes suspiciously.

"Well, you see, I'm terribly sorry about this, but I can't seem to remember the combination for the safe."

"You forgot the combination?" Heyes was astounded.

She nodded apologetically.

"You can't get into the safe?" asked Curry.

She shook her head.

"You're saying you can't pay us?" Curry continued, slightly irritated now.

"Not at the moment." There was a short pause and then she added hurriedly "But I'm sure we can work this out."

"You don't have the money anywhere else? Like the bank maybe?" asked Heyes.

"Oh no, not in the bank." she said. "Not in the bank. I really am terribly sorry about this. I don't know what to do. There must be some way of getting into that safe."

Heyes looked at Curry, who looked straight back at him with a clear No!. Heyes shrugged at him.

Mrs Sutton watched them and then she sighed. "I think we're going to have to wait until the Sheriff gets back to town - he'll know what to do."

"Hmm." Heyes' tone was serious. "The Sheriff's out of town at the moment, I understand?"

She nodded.

"Well, maybe you're right then, we'll just have to wait until he returns. When is he due back?"

"Monday."

"Monday?" repeated Curry. "Oh dear ma'am, that does create a problem then."

"We have another job you see, another delivery, further south, has to be there by Tuesday." Heyes continued the story.

"Oh dear, I am sorry. That does make a problem. I don't want to hold you up from your other job."

She looked devastated and Curry softened a little, it really wasn't her fault and she couldn't have apologised more. "Well, never mind, Ma'am. Maybe if you give it a little time, you'll remember the combination again?"

Heyes glared at Curry, but he continued nonetheless. "We'll call back tomorrow and see if you've had any luck?"

She nodded enthusiastically. "You're right, Mr Jones. That's a good idea. I'm sure you're right and the numbers will suddenly come to me."

Curry glanced back at Heyes, who was obviously not at all happy.

I'm sure the numbers would come to me quicker, was the silent comment. Curry gave him a big grin and nodded slightly, agreeing with him.

"Would it be stealing, Heyes?"

Heyes followed him into their hotel room and closed the door behind him. "It's our money," he replied thoughtfully.

"Hmm." Curry was quiet for a few moments. "And what about breaking into the house during the night and breaking into the safe?" he continued finally.

Heyes grinned. "Well Kid, I'm not exactly sure that part's legal."

"Me either." Curry returned the grin. "In fact, I'm downright sure it's not."

"And if it's not illegal, it ought to be."

"And it's not exactly moral in any case, is it? Even if it is our money."

"Kid, what's happening to us?"

"I guess we're just becoming honest, law abiding citizens."

"How did that happen though?"

"Well, if you don't know Heyes, then I'm sure I don't. So, if we're not going to break into the house and the safe to get our pay, do you have any other ideas?"

"We could tell her we could open the safe."

Curry stopped in his tracks. "Tell her?"

"Kid, did you get the feeling that she knew who we were, or was in any way suspicious of us?"

"No, I didn't."

"Well think about it Kid. We have to leave before Monday when Sheriff Barton gets back because he's sure to recognise us, right?"

"Right."

"Mrs Sutton is an old lady, she wouldn't think anything of it."

Curry looked sceptical at that.

"And even if she did, we'd be long gone before the sheriff got back and she could tell him," Heyes quickly reassured him.

"So, you're saying we tell her we can open the safe and then open it with her there, we get our pay and leave?"

Heyes nodded, then when Curry didn't reply, he added "There is one other option."

"What's that?"

"We leave now. Without our pay."

Curry pulled a face at that, clearly not impressed.

"There is one other thing in our favour Kid. Remember the newspaper article?" Heyes tried again to persuade him.

Curry nodded.

"It said Hannibal Heyes had lost his touch and that there were now others who could open safes by manipulation, just like Hannibal Heyes. Opening a safe may not identify me in any case."

Curry grinned at that.

"Heyes, you're right. There are probably lots of people who could open a safe like you used to. First thing in the morning, let's go tell her we can do it." With the decision made, Curry removed his gun from his holster, sat down and turned his attention to cleaning it.

Heyes stood still, watching him. "Well, I wouldn't go that far, Kid," he muttered, half to himself, half to Curry. "Not lots."

"What's that?" Curry asked, his full concentration now on the gun.

"And what's with the used to anyway?" he mumbled.

* * * * *

Early the following morning, they made their way back to Mrs Sutton's. She opened the door to them with a smile, which faded very quickly as she admitted that she still hadn't been able to remember the combination to the safe.

"I just don't know what we can do," she concluded. "The sheriff won't be back until Monday and you boys need to leave before then. What can we do?" She shook her head, clearly upset about the situation. "I hate to let you boys down like this. You must be very angry with me."

She looked up at Curry and he noticed she had tears in her eyes, though she seemed to be making a brave attempt to hold them back. He felt sorry for her as he suddenly realised that she must be more than a little afraid of their reaction. He smiled warmly at her and she tried to smile back. She was a gutsy lady, he decided, and in many ways she reminded him of his own grandma. She had her colouring too, he noticed.

"Actually," he began gently "we just might be able to help you."

"You might?" she looked from one to the other, her face brightening immediately.

"Uh-huh," nodded Heyes, smiling too. "Some safes can be opened without knowing the combination."

"They can?" I didn't know that" Her face showed genuine surprise.

Heyes nodded seriously in reply. "Not all of them of course, but some can."

"Do you think mine can be?"

"Well, I don't know ma'am. We'd have to see it first."

"Of course, of course." She said eagerly. "Come with me."

She opened the door to the room where the safe was and indicated for Heyes to go ahead of her. He stepped into the room and almost immediately walked straight into a table. He frowned, rubbing his leg. He didn't remember seeing a table there yesterday.

Curry looked at him, a little puzzled. "You OK Joshua?" he asked, a slight smirk on his face.

Heyes nodded quickly, ignoring the smirk and making his way over to the safe. Curry followed him and they stood looking at the safe, their backs to her, making something of a show of examining the safe and considering it. Mrs Sutton stood a little behind them, watching them, waiting patiently for their assessment.

Finally, Curry turned to her. "I think you're in luck. I think we can open this safe."

"Oh Mr Jones, I'm so relieved. What good news." She clapped her hands together in relief as her face broke into a huge smile.

Yes thought Curry she definitely reminds me of Grandma Curry.

"Do you want us to give it a try?" he asked.

"Yes, yes, of course I do. Yes, please Mr Jones. I'm just so glad you know how to do this."

Curry looked at Heyes and pointed his finger at him and back at himself, a questioning look on his face.

"Do you want to try this one Joshua?" he asked.

Heyes nodded and stepped close to the safe, leaning in and placing his ear to it. Mrs Sutton was still standing behind him, earnestly trying to peer around him to see what he was doing. Heyes worked quickly and it wasn't too long at all before he had the full combination and he smiled triumphantly as he nonchalantly swung the door open.

* * * * *

There was a spring in their step as they made their way back down the street a few minutes later. It had gone well. Mrs Sutton hadn't seemed in the least suspicious and she'd happily handed them their pay for the job. All they had to do now was settle up with Sam for the hotel room and head out of town before that sheriff got back.

Walking into the saloon to find Sam, they noticed that it was much busier than it had been the day before, almost crowded Curry smiled to himself.

"Afternoon, Sam."

"Afternoon boys. How's it going?"

"Very well actually. We saw Mrs Sutton, delivered the letter and we're just about ready to leave town," answered Heyes.

"Not before you've had one for the road, surely?" Sam smiled, filling two glasses from the ever present whisky bottle.

"Now how could we refuse that?" replied Curry, lifting the glass.

"Busy in here today I see," remarked Heyes, looking around. There were three men sitting at a table nearby, though otherwise the saloon was as empty as the previous day.

"Hey boys," Sam called to the three. "This here is Mr Jones and Mr Smith - the two I was telling you about - thought I was the only one in the town." This was greeted by howls of laughter from the three and Heyes and Curry tipped their hats in greeting.

"Howdy fellas," smiled Curry.

Sam made the introductions. "This is Bill Hyde, a local rancher and Frank, his foreman. And this is Doc Murray." The three each nodded in return.

"Glad to meet you gentlemen and glad you all made it safely back to town."

"Yes," replied the Doc. "We heard it was a little quiet around here yesterday. Good job you boys arrived to keep Sam busy."

"We don't generally get a lot of strangers in these parts" added Bill.

"So Sam said."

Just then the door to the saloon burst open and a well-dressed, obviously respectable woman ran in, shouting.

"Walter! Walter!" She was clearly distressed and seemed unaware of the shock her entrance into the saloon had caused the men.

Doc Murray stood and hurried over to her.

"Martha? Martha, what is it?" he asked with concern. As he placed his hands on her shoulders, she broke down and sobbed. Sniffling loudly and with tears rolling down her cheeks, she could barely manage to speak. The men glanced around uncomfortably.

"Mrs Murray? What is it? What's wrong?" asked Sam, approaching the pair who, both Heyes and Curry now surmised, were husband and wife.

"Oh Walter" she wailed. "It's Toby."

"Toby? What about Toby?"

"He's locked in the safe." She broke down once more into great heaving sobs and threw herself against her husband's shoulder.

"Locked in the safe?" asked the Doc, shocked. "What do you mean? How on earth did that happen?"

"I don't know, I don't know. Walter, you have to do something" she begged

"But I don't know what I can do?" he replied, his own voice rising in fear.

"Well you have to get the safe open." It came out as a desperate howl, piercing the air.

"Someone must have the combination to the safe?" asked Curry logically.

Sam nodded. "They do. Joe, the store owner, but like I told you, he's out of town for a few days. Mrs Murray here has been looking after the store for him while he's away."

"SOMEONE DO SOMETHING!" She finally reached a level of panic which stung those around her into action.

"Absolutely, Mrs Murray"

"Of course, Mrs Murray"

"But we don't know what we can possibly do."

"Oh Toby, Toby what shall we do? He'll die in there."

Heyes glanced at Curry, unsure what to do, yet at the same time knowing what he'd see in his partner's eyes.

"Mr Smith could do it," Sam interrupted suddenly. All eyes turned to him expectantly. "Mr Smith can open safes. He opened Mrs Sutton's this morning."

Everyone stopped and turned to look at Heyes, who looked quickly at Curry, puzzled. Curry gave him an imperceptible nod. He had no choice. Given what Sam had just said, he was hardly giving anything away and besides, Curry's eyes assured him, it was the right thing, the only thing, to do. A life was at stake.

"I was just about to say the same," nodded Heyes.

Mrs Murray turned to him, her eyes big, as if she hardly dare believe what she was hearing. "Mr Smith? Are you saying you can open the safe?"

Heyes nodded.

"Oh Mr Smith, please, if there's anything you can do, we would be so grateful. Toby means the world to me." She looked so happy and relieved that Curry thought she might even pull Heyes into a bear hug, right then and there.

"Lead the way," Heyes invited, as a general buzz of surprise and relief echoed around the room.

"Oh Mr Smith, thank you, thank you so much, you can't believe what this means to me."

* * * * *


_________________
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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4.12 As Safe As Safe Can Be by Sally Wheaton :: Comments

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Re: 4.12 As Safe As Safe Can Be by Sally Wheaton
Post on Sat 30 May 2015, 1:29 am by royannahuggins


Mrs Murray quickly grabbed hold of Heyes and almost dragged him out of the saloon, across the street, into the general store and over to the corner where she pushed him behind the counter, as the others followed behind in a rush, doing their best to keep up. As Heyes bent down to the safe, she leaned in and called through the door "Toby, Toby, it's alright, we're going to get you out."

Heyes looked at the safe rather doubtfully, it wasn't as big as he expected. "How old is he?" he asked.

"Five" she replied "and he's going to die" she wailed, becoming panicked once more. "Please Mr Smith, can you help him?"

Heyes looked up to see a row of faces watching him anxiously over the counter, Sam, Bill Hyde, Frank the foreman, the Doc, fear all too evident on his face, Mrs Sutton … Heyes frowned in puzzlement and looked up towards Curry, noticing that he had positioned himself by the door, behind the others. They briefly made eye contact and Curry gave him a slight nod, a reassurance in his eyes that he was doing the right thing. Heyes pursed his lips - it wasn't often his partner misunderstood his concern.

Heyes turned his attention to the safe as Mrs Murray cried "Please Mr Smith, hurry, please". Heyes knelt with his head to the door of the safe. It didn't take long and just a few minutes later, he turned the dial with what he hoped was the last number of the combination. Stealing himself, he turned the handle gently and, feeling no resistance, he pulled the door open slightly and peered inside, suddenly afraid of what he might find.

With a sudden jolt, he pulled back, as a black shadow shot out of the safe, straight towards him.

With an excited "meow" the ball of fur hurled itself towards Heyes, smacking into the side of his head and clambering across his shoulders.

"Toby!" shouted Mrs Murray, grabbing the cat and pulling it away from Heyes as she wrapped it closely in her arms.

Heyes sat back on his legs and glared at Curry.

Mrs Murray was openly crying now and holding on to the cat for dear life. For a brief moment, Heyes closed his eyes in irritation. He looked up towards the door and the clear signal from Curry was "Let's go".

Amongst all the noise and fuss, it was relatively easy for the two to slip out of the door almost un-noticed by the others. They hurried across the street, making their way by unspoken agreement towards where they'd left their horses that morning, both eager to leave town as soon as possible.

"So Toby was a cat," smiled Curry. "I thought he was a child?" Curry's tone was questioning and Heyes nodded vaguely in reply, but seemed distracted.

"I really thought Toby was their son, it was quite a surprise when that cat jumped out of the safe," Curry looked towards Heyes, waiting for a reply, but when he received none, he shrugged to himself and continued. "But I think it's OK Heyes, no-one seems to be at all suspicious."

"Hmm?" mumbled Heyes

Curry frowned slightly at Heyes' reaction but again, continued. "I think we should get out of town right now though, we can get a good distance away by sunset if we leave straight away."

"Hmm."

This time Curry stopped and turned towards Heyes, putting his hand on his shoulder to force him to stop too.

"OK Heyes, what is it?"

"Kid," Heyes looked straight at him, his face serious and concerned, "how did that cat get into the safe?"

Heyes watched Curry's expression change slightly as it dawned on him. "You're right Heyes. If the only person who knows the combination is out of town then …."

Curry was interrupted by a sudden rush of movement to his right, as everyone ran out of the store and across the road towards them, arms waving in the air, voices calling their names. Heyes and Curry exchanged a worried glance and Curry's hand moved instinctively to his side to rest close to his gun.

"Boys! Boys!" called Sam, red-faced and out of breath as he hurtled towards them, finally coming to a standstill in front of them.

"What is it, Sam?" asked Heyes cheerfully, carefully hiding his concern, concern which only increased as he watched the rest of them form a semi circle around the pair, effectively boxing them in.

"I'm glad we caught you. Just in time too. I hope you weren't planning on leaving town?"

"Well, yes," Curry replied. "That's exactly what we were planning to do."

Heyes gave Sam one of his best smiles. "We only came here to deliver the letter, which we've done, so now we'll be on our way. We have another letter to deliver you see."

"I see" Sam sounded a little doubtful and Heyes wasn't sure he'd believed him.

"Like I said, I'm glad," he paused and indicated towards the others "we're glad we caught you. We just may have a better proposition for you."

"What kind of proposition?" It was Heyes' turn to sound doubtful.

"We all saw you open that safe in there and …"

"Sam," Curry interrupted him sternly. "You may have witnessed my partner's skills with a safe in there, but I can assure you we don't use those skills for anything illegal or underhand, just in case that's what you had in mind."

"Oh goodness no, no. No." Sam assured him immediately with a smile. "We realise you wouldn't do anything illegal and we wouldn't ask you to. This is perfectly legal and above board as you'll see, if you'd just give us the chance to explain?" He looked around him at the others who were generally nodding their agreement and looking expectantly at the pair.

"As I said," Sam continued "it is perfectly legal, but it would resolve what has been a very big problem for all of us for a couple of years now. And we would pay you too - a lot more than your delivery job."

Heyes' eyes narrowed. "Now how would you know how much our delivery job paid?"

"Mr Smith? Mr Jones?" Mrs Sutton stepped forward. "If you don't think you can help us, you're free to leave, you're not under any threat here, but I must admit, I was really hoping that you might be the ones who were finally able to help us after all this time. Would you please consider it, Mr Smith? Mr Jones?" She looked at them earnestly.

"How about we discuss it in a little more detail in the saloon?" suggested Sam, smiling good-naturedly. "Surely that can do no harm? And if you don't like the job, you don't have to take it. As Mrs Sutton said, you're free to leave town whenever you want. If you really have to be somewhere else, we understand and we won't bother you any further, but I'll be honest, like Mrs Sutton, I was hoping you'd see your way clear to helping us - in return for a generous payment of course."

Heyes and Curry glanced at each other- it was becoming harder to say no, especially surrounded by these people. Sam saw their look and tried once more.

"Boys, how about if I prove to you that there's no threat in this and if we discuss the job, you're free to say yes or no?" With that, he held up his right hand and with his left hand, reached across into his vest pocket and with two fingers, pulled out the small derringer he had there and dropped it to the ground. He nodded across to Frank who did the same thing with the six shooter strapped to his leg.

Again, Heyes and Curry glanced at each other. There really didn't appear to be any threat and the prospect of being paid well was an attractive one. Silently, they agreed that it could do no harm to listen to the proposition.

Turning back to Sam, Heyes smiled at him. "Lead the way to the saloon, Sam."

* * * * *

Ten minutes later, the group were all settled in the saloon, everyone crowding around one small table as Sam placed beers in front of each of the men. Heyes noted that no-one seemed at all surprised or concerned to see Mrs Sutton and Mrs Murray sitting at the table with them, though neither of them were drinking.

As Sam made one last trip from the bar with two more glasses of beer in his hands, Bill called to him "Sam, bring the newspaper." Nodding, Sam put down the beers and then turned back to the bar and, after rummaging for a few seconds, returned to the table with a newspaper which he placed on the table in front of him.

"This used to be a thriving town," he began. "Back in the days when the mines were big business. There was work for everyone. It was a good sized town too, oh no-where near as big as Howardsville of course, but it was a good place to live back then. We had everything we needed, there was a well-stocked general store, the saloon was busy, there was a café, a hotel …"

"And a bank," stated Mrs Sutton, her tone bitter and angry. Curry looked up at her, a little surprised.

"Ah, yes," nodded Sam. "The bank. And that's where it all went wrong."

Heyes and Curry glanced at each other, once again uncomfortable at this turn in the conversation.

"Like I said," continued Sam "it was a busy town. Many of us made money and we put it in the bank. Under the shrewd management of one Mr Jacob Hammond."

"Shrewd?" Mrs Sutton interrupted again, almost spitting the word in disgust.

"Yes, well," Sam placed his hand on her forearm in a calming gesture. "We weren't to know my dear."

"Know what?" asked Curry.

It was Mrs Sutton who took up the story. "Mr Hammond was the one who persuaded us all to put our money into his bank. He explained how safe it would be, he told us he had the newest, most modern safe - the best there was and that he would look after our money for us. Like fools we believed him, we trusted him. But how were we to know?"

"Know what, Mrs Sutton?" Heyes was becoming more intrigued and more than a little impatient to know the full details.

"The first we knew that anything was wrong, was when two gentlemen arrived and spent two days at the bank with Hammond. We still don't know who they were or why there were here, but Hammond sure acted strange around them, seemed a little nervous."

"There were rumours, of course," the Doc put in. "The story was that they were investigating some dogdy business dealings at the bank, that they were accusing Hammond of corrupt dealings."

"We didn't believe the stories though," Mrs Sutton added. "We had no reason to. Mr Hammond seemed like a nice man and, like I said, we trusted him."

"Until," explained Sam "that day more than a year ago now, when we woke one morning to find the bank all locked up and no sign of Jacob Hammond. We assumed he'd be back, of course, and we waited and waited."

"And waited and waited. Like fools." Mrs. Sutton's tone became harsh once again.

Sam nodded, patted her arm and continued the story. "It seems he was in some kind of trouble and one night he just ran out on the bank and never returned. We've been trying to trace him ever since, the law was involved and we even hired a private investigator."

"Private investigator?" asked Curry, a little confused.

"Our money you see," explained the Doc.

"He took your money?" asked Curry.

"Oh no, he didn't take it," replied Mrs Sutton. "He left it right here for us, in a nice safe place where no-one can get at it. Including us."

"In the safe," stated Heyes, suddenly understanding their dilemma.

"Exactly Mr Smith. And that's why we need your help. It's our money you see, but it's stuck in that safe and we can't get the safe open to get to it." Mrs Sutton continued. "Show him the newspaper, Sam."

Sam pushed the newspaper across the table for the two of them to see and there it was, in black and white, confirming how the townspeople had lost everything they had when the bank manager had made a run for it in the night, leaving the townsfolk's money locked in a safe they couldn't get into. The article went on to describe how most had eventually upped and left the area, looking for work elsewhere, though a few hardy souls had remained, trying to eke a living out of what was left of the once prosperous town. The article also told of their various attempts to trace Jacob Hammond and to recover their money.

Curry looked up at them, puzzled. "Why didn't you just blow it up with dynamite?" he asked.

"Oh we tried," laughed Sam. "Several times. You probably won't believe this, but for some reason, we couldn't blow it up, just didn't work"

"And don't suggest we should have used more dynamite," smiled Doc Murray. "If what we used that last time didn't blow it, nothing will."

They all laughed out loud, obviously at some private memory and Curry could picture these people who knew nothing about dynamite struggling to use it to open the safe.

"So, Mr Smith? Mr Jones?" Mrs Sutton suddenly turned very serious, looking from one to the other. "Will you help us?"

"Well now, that depends" Heyes replied easily. "How much does the job pay?"

They all shifted a little uncomfortably and looked at Sam.

Heyes eyed them suspiciously. "You said you'd pay us?"

"Yes, yes," nodded Sam, a little nervously. "There is a small problem though."

"What small problem?" Curry's voice was hard, not threatening, but enough for them to know he wasn't going to be messed around.

"Well," Sam glanced around him quickly at the others before continuing. "If you manage to get that safe open, then we can pay you - we'll have the money you see. If you can't open it though, we'll have nothing to pay you with. As it is right now, we're struggling just to survive."

Heyes pursed his lips, considering. "That sounds reasonable" he replied after a moment. "How much does the job pay if we get the safe open?"

"A thousand dollars,"

Heyes raised his eyebrows and leaned forward in his seat. "A thousand dollars? Sam, how much money is in that safe?"

"Well, I… I don't …don't know," he stammered.

"And it's only worth a thousand dollars to you all to retrieve it?" asked Heyes, considering. "Sam, you said we were free to accept the job or not?

"That's right.” Sam nodded. "We really do want you to do this though."

Slowly, Bill leaned forward in his seat opposite them and rested his elbows on the table, the chair creeking loudly as he did so. He cupped his hands underneath his chin. There was a long pause, the air suddenly filling with tension at his slow and exaggerated movements. "Now," he began eventually, "You boys have some reason for not helping us here? We know you can open safes, and we know you've got the time to do it. Like Sam said, we're serious about wanting you to do this - I can't see no reason why you wouldn't help us?" He looked from one to the other, his eyes momentarily cold and hard. Very slowly, he reached under the table, and when his hand reappeared, it held a gun, which he turned over gently, almost reverently in his hands, before placing it very carefully and very deliberately on the table in front of him. "There wouldn't be any reason we don't know about, now would there?" he asked.

Heyes and Curry looked at each other for only a brief second and came to a decision.

Curry smiled broadly, raising his hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Now gentlemen, we didn't say we weren't going to help you. It’s going to cost you more than a thousand dollars, is all."

"How much?" asked the Doc.

"Five thousand dollars," replied Heyes instantly.

"Deal," the Doc replied, just as quickly.

"Gentlemen," smiled Curry, nodding in agreement.

Smiles of relief broke out around the table and there was a general buzz as everyone thanked them profusely and shook their hands across the table. As the hubbub died down, Mrs Sutton was left standing. She shrugged as everyone looked at her. "Might as well do it now," she said.

Heyes nodded in agreement and stood up quickly. "I know you don't believe us," he said, looking at Sam "but we really do have another delivery job and I figure that we can open this safe for you and then be on our way to our delivery job without too much delay."

Sam looked him straight in the eye, nodded and then smiled at him. Heyes decided that Sam still didn't believe him.

As everyone stood and made to leave, Heyes held back until he found himself alone with Sam, the last two in the saloon.

"Sam?" he asked casually as they walked towards the door. "You know where the mining supplies office used to be in this town?"

"No, I'm sorry, I don't." replied Sam absently, opening the door and hurrying down the street to catch up with the others.

Heyes paused in the doorway, watching him and frowning. "You don't know?" he repeated to himself under his breath, surprised.

His train of thought was interrupted by Curry's laughing voice just outside the door. "The mining supplies office, Heyes?"

Heyes smiled at him, a genuine smile which reached his eyes, the smile he reserved for Curry alone. "The only safe I know of Kid that can't be blown with dynamite!"

* * * * *

Five minutes later they were all standing in what was just about recognisable as the bank. Curry looked around him and smiled to himself. The wooden counter was in pieces all around the room and the floor was littered with debris, clearly, decided Curry, the results of a series of larger and larger explosions as these people tried to blow the safe with dynamite.

Curry looked towards where Heyes was standing next to the safe, patting it, almost lovingly. Another smile crossed Curry's features, he knew how Heyes felt about a legal safebreak. Heyes had been right, of course, it was indeed a Pierce and Hamilton 1878.

"Well?" asked Sam, moving to stand next to Heyes. "How long do you think it will take?"

"Longer than I thought actually Sam. This is a Pierce and Hamilton 78. The manufacturers made the tumblers so quiet you can't open them by manipulation. It also explains why you couldn't blow it with dynamite, you can't open them that way either."

"But I don't understand," started Mrs Sutton, her voice raised a little. "What about the one you opened in… " she stopped abruptly and looked nervously at Sam who glared back at her. "What about… what about the ones… the ones you opened here in town? Aren't they all the same?" she filled in, suddenly and quickly.

"No, they're not," answered Heyes. "And I'm not saying I can't open it, only that I can't open it using that method."

"We'll need to do a little preparation," explained Curry. "It means we can't open it right now, but we will do later."

"Later today?" asked Sam.

Curry glanced at Heyes. "Maybe, it depends. But we do need to be on our way with the delivery by Monday so we'll do it before then.

"Oh yes, of course" smiled Sam, a little too sweetly. "I keep forgetting about your other delivery."

"Well," Heyes began, pushing his hat back on his head. "We'll need to gather some equipment but I don't see why we can't do that quickly." He pursed his lips in thought. "How about we meet back here later?"

"Sounds good to me," smiled Sam, looking around at the others who were all nodding and generally agreeing with him. "Later it is."

* * * * *

The doors of the almost empty saloon burst open and the Doc almost flew in, he was in such a hurry.

"Sam?" he called. "He left town. Five minutes ago, headed towards Howardsville."

"Thanks Doc," replied Sam, following the Doc towards the door. As he was about to leave, the door swung inwards and he nearly bumped into Curry as he came into the saloon. Sam was a little flustered and mumbled an apology before returning back behind the bar.

"I'll have a beer please, Sam."

Sam seemed to calm a little, but eyed Curry suspiciously as he set his beer down in front of him.

"You worried about my partner leaving town?" asked Curry, casually but knowingly.

"No. Yes, No. No, I'm not" Curry raised an eyebrow at him and Sam laughed. "No, I'm not."

"He's not run out on you. He's gone to Howardsville to get the equipment we need. He'll be back soon."

"I didn't think he'd run out on us."

"Uh-huh." Curry nodded dubiously.

"Not once I saw you here anyway." Sam was beginning to relax a little.

"That's what we figured, and that's why I stayed here, so's you wouldn't worry," smiled Curry, taking a swig of the beer.

Again the saloon door burst open and the Doc ran back in calling "Sam? Sam? You ready?" His momentum took him halfway across the room before he spotted Curry and came to a standstill. Curry turned around, smiled at him and held up his beer to him in a gesture of greeting.

"You wanna beer Doc?" he asked.

The Doc glanced at Sam before nervously answering. "Oh yes, er, yes…" he started and paused, again looking at Sam. "Actually," he added suddenly "No. I'd better go and… and …" He didn't finish the sentence, just turned abruptly and left the saloon.

Curry turned back to the bar, a smile on his face. Heyes had been right, seeing him leave town had sure made them all nervous.

Only a few moments later, the Doc returned again, this time with Bill and Frank and they all joined Curry at the bar. Curry couldn't help but smile to himself. They were obviously here to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn't go anywhere before Heyes returned. He settled down to enjoy the beer and the company, and to await Heyes' return.

* * * * *

As Heyes rode into the town of Howardsville, he noted the contrast with Kearne Junction. Howardsville was a busy, bustling place, people rushing around in the street, on foot, on horseback and in wagons. To the right he spotted the sheriff's office and mentally sighed in relief that the sheriff's name wasn't familiar to him. Almost opposite was the mining supplies office and just a block away was the saloon. For a moment he gazed at the saloon, tempted to make it his first stop, it had been a hot and dusty ride. But he also knew that the time was crucial. They had to open the safe and be out of town before the sheriff returned some time tomorrow and so he had little time to waste. Better to set to and find the supplies he needed and then, he allowed himself, then he could have a beer before leaving.

Wearily, he climbed down and stretched, arching his back a little. He tethered his horse and then made his way into the mining supplies office.

Only ten minutes later, he walked back out into the sunshine, a smile on his face, having almost secured what he needed. The Bryant pump had been no problem and he stashed it into his saddlebag. He'd expected the nitro to be the biggest problem but the kindly and not-too-bright old man in the office hadn't thought it would be too much of a problem. He'd suggested that Heyes go back in half an hour and was sure he'd have the nitro for him by then.

Deciding the saloon was as good a place to wait as any, he headed down the street. The saloon was extremely busy and the bartender clearly had no time for idle chatter. Having ordered a beer, Heyes turned around and leant back against the bar. There were four games of poker in progress, with empty seats at two of them. After watching for a few minutes, he turned back to face the bar, shaking his head in frustration that he didn't have time to join one of the games. He took a long swig of beer and as he placed it back down on the bar, his attention was taken by a newspaper. The Wheeler City Gazette it said. Heyes skimmed through it briefly.

"You seem mighty interested in what's going on over at Wheeler City," came a voice from his right. Heyes looked up to see a rough, rather grimy old cowboy smiling at him, revealing just a few crooked and blackened teeth. "Most folks here don't bother," he added.

Heyes smiled back. "It just happened to be here," he said. "I guess most folks just read the local paper huh?"

The old man snorted, which brought on a loud, hacking cough. Finally recovering, he replied "That is the local paper. I meant most folks don't bother cos most folks don't read."

"Oh, I see," smiled Heyes. "What about the Howardsville Tribune though? I thought that was the local paper?"

"Well then you know more'n me boy. I've lived here most my life and I never heard of no such thing as the Howardsville Tribune."

"No such thing?" asked Heyes, surprised and suddenly very interested.

"No such thing," the old timer replied, before being overcome with another coughing fit.

Heyes waited until he'd stopped coughing, before asking "You sure about that? I don't mean to be disrespecting, but you couldn't be mistaken on that could you?"

"I aint mistaken boy. I'm tellin' ya, there aint no newspaper in this town. Never has been, most likely never will be."

"Oh well," Heyes shrugged. "I must have remembered wrong then."

The old timer laughed and, lifting his beer glass, pointed to it with his other hand. "This stuff can do that to ya!"

Heyes smiled back. "You're right. Thanks." He lifted his own glass and swallowed the last of the beer before taking his leave of the old timer.

Back out on the street, he stood still for a few moments, watching the people milling around, thinking. After a few moments, he hurried across the road to the general store and then returned to where he'd tethered his horse, mounted and headed out of town. As he cleared the town limits, he urged his horse into a gallop as everything fell into place.

* * * * *

Curry raised an eyebrow as Mrs Sutton opened the saloon door and stepped inside. The womenfolk around here sure had no qualms about walking into a saloon.

"He's back," she announced simply, before turning and leaving.

The men put down their beers and eagerly followed her out of the door. Curry smiled and drained his glass before following them.

Heyes was just dismounting as Curry approached. "Get everything you need?" he asked.

"Yep," smiled Heyes easily. "Everything I need."

"Any problems?" asked Curry.

"No, no problems," replied Heyes seriously, knowing that Curry was asking about the law in Howardsville. Looking beyond Curry, he could see that the others were already too close for him to say anything more, so he slapped Curry enthusiastically on the back several times in a reassuring gesture as they all started down the street towards the bank.

* * * * *

Heyes had set the bag down next to the safe and he and Curry set to work, pressing putty carefully around the edge of the door. The others stood in a semi-circle around them, watching intently, not uttering a word between them. When they'd created a thorough seal with the putty, they sat back on their heels and Heyes checked his pocket watch.

"All we do now is wait," he said.

"For what?" asked the Doc, fascinated.

"For the putty to set," answered Mrs Sutton from behind him. "I assume he has to create a vacuum, to get the nitro inside the safe. When the putty has hardened, it will seal the door and he'll use the pump to pump out the air. The resulting vacuum will then suck in the nitro which will blow the safe from inside. It's ingenuis. It must have been how he did it in Denver."

Curry froze on the spot. It was a matter of public record that Hannibal Heyes was the only person to ever have opened a Pierce and Hamilton '78, back in Denver, before their amnesty quest began. The law knew that. He glanced up at Heyes but he didn't seem to be reacting to the comment at all. In fact, he had that self-satisfied, almost smug glint in his eyes as he continued to calmly check the putty around the edge of the door.

Curry looked towards Sam. He had an enormous smile on his face and in his hand was a gun, pointing directly at Curry.

"Don't try anything clever," Sam threatened. Curry looked at the others and wasn't surprised to see them all holding guns on them. Dejected, he raised his hands in the air.

"Mr Heyes," the Doc addressed him. "Would you turn around please."

"You mean me?" asked Heyes easily, turning with a smile on his face. "Only my name is Smith."

"Yes, I mean you, Mr Heyes."

He too raised his hands and returned Sam's smile as the bartender removed both his and Curry's guns. "It doesn't need to be this way Sam - and the name's Smith."

"I'm afraid it does, Mr Heyes. I'm sorry to say it's not quite how we described it to you, you see."

"It's not?" Heyes feigned innocent surprise, then paused before adding. "And Sam? It's Smith."

"Frankly, the name don't matter, that's not what this is about."

"Then what is it about?" asked Heyes, his voice taking on a harder edge and his eyes narrowing slightly.

"If this is about us not getting paid again," grumbled Curry, exasperated. Heyes rolled his eyes at him.

"It's about what's in that safe. We want it and we have no intention of letting you interfere with that. Not after we've come this far."

"Ah. And just how far have you come Sam? Is your name even Sam?" asked Heyes.

Sam stepped forward, his expression changing in that moment, as he raised his gun towards Heyes and walked around him, his tone threatening, menacing.

"You talk too much Mr Heyes. My name isn't important. And like I said before, yours isn't either, at least not to us. Twenty thousand dollars is child's play compared with what's in that safe. When they closed those mines so suddenly after the accident, they had to leave all that cash behind. Oh there's been quite a few attempts to get it over the years. And now you, you are going to open it for us and the law will be looking for you, not us. Everything has worked out perfectly. You walked right into our little trap didn't you? Just too keen to prove to yourself that you could still open a safe." He came to a stop at Heyes' side and looked him in the eye, taunting him. "You just couldn't resist could you?"

Heyes didn't flinch. He looked him right back in the eye and when he spoke, his own voice was also tinged with threat. "This whole thing was a set up wasn't it? A con. This isn't your town, you've never lived here. And there's none of your money in that safe is there."

The tone in Heyes' voice shook Sam a little. He was the one who held the gun, so how could this man be so intimidating when he had a gun in his face? Sam mentally shook himself, but backed off a little, returning to where he'd been standing before, next to the others.

"You're exactly right, Mr Heyes," he smiled proudly. "You've been set up. One of the easiest cons we've ever pulled too." Even as he said the words though, the look in Heyes' eyes sent a shiver down his spine.

From the shadows at the back of the room, emerged another figure. "Enough time wasting," came the familiar voice of Lester Washington, the man who had originally offered them the delivery job. "Get that safe open," he barked.

Heyes glanced briefly at Curry as they turned back towards the safe. He checked his pocket watch and nodded to Curry, who picked up the pump and began to pump the air out of the safe. The hard physical effort was almost a relief as his mind whirled around these latest developments. He wished he knew what Heyes was thinking, but for once he hadn't been able to read his partner. Before he knew it, Heyes was putting his hand on his shoulder to tell him that it was enough.

Curry stood up and stretched slightly, but then tensed again as Heyes reached for the nitro. He'd never liked this part. His eyes cautiously followed every move as Heyes' fingers gently lifted the bottle. He sucked in a breath and held it as Heyes turned the bottle, ever so slowly. He marvelled at how steady Heyes' hands were as they moved the nitro towards the funnel and the tube …

Somehow, Curry had always known that it would happen one day. And suddenly, here it was.

The last time that Hannibal Heyes handled nitro.

It seemed to happen in slow motion, but Curry could only stare in horror as the bottle seemed to slip right through Heyes' fingers and out of his grasp. Heyes made a gallant attempt to catch it, and very nearly did, but he fumbled it and it began its long, slow descent to the floor, almost as if it was floating thought Curry.

He remembered Heyes once mentioned the floor plan of a bank and so he wasn't surprised when for him it was the gunfights, one after another, playing out in front of him - a saloon in Wickenburg, the bully in South Bend, a dispute over the winner of a horse race, an even sillier one about who would ride atop the stagecoach, Danny Bilson, the one he'd killed, the one to protect Alex Harrington just because he looked like Heyes and finally the one that had been setup, where he'd drawn on his own partner.

Heyes' face came into his mind as the bottle neared the floor and he thought he saw a flicker of a smile on his friend's face. He tried to smile back, but he seemed to be frozen in place. Behind him he heard everyone else scurrying for cover, but he didn't care what happened to them. He watched as the bottle approached the floor, slowly, gently, finally making contact. He heard the sound of shattering glass and instinctively squeezed his eyes tightly shut, bracing himself and then …

Nothing.

* * * * *

He heard a slight rustling sound and then Heyes' voice piercing confidently as always through the silence. It seemed so right to hear the familiar voice next to him and Curry found it calming. They'd so long been partners in life that it seemed fitting that they were still together now. And yet, somehow, Heyes' words didn't seem to make any sense.

"Stay right where you are and keep your hands up."

Gingerly, Curry opened his eyes and looked around him, finally letting out the breath he realised he'd been holding. He was still standing in the same place, next to the safe. But why wasn't he dead? He looked down at the liquid pooling on the floor and then up at Heyes, who was standing there with a gun in his hand, pointing it somewhere to the left. Curry pointed at the liquid.

"It didn't...? Why?" he asked, confused and in shock.

"Didn't what?" asked Heyes, keeping his eyes focussed across the room. "Blow up? I guess I must have lost my touch." He looked at Curry intently and then very slowly, the side of his mouth twitched upwards slightly as a glint appeared in his eyes and the dimple on his cheek deepened. His lips started to curl into a smile which broadened and widened until his whole face lit up and his eyes danced as finally he laughed out loud.

* * * * *

"You thought the lamp oil was gonna blow up when it hit the floor?"

Slowly it dawned on Curry. Heyes had known - he'd known. But how?

"You gonna stand there gaping or you gonna help me tie them up?" sighed Heyes with mock exasperation.

* * * * *

Heyes and Curry stood on the vantage point halfway up the small hill, a few miles outside of town. From here they had a clear view of the road into Kearne Junction but could also remain out of sight of anyone on the road amongst the trees. A short time ago, they'd seen the sheriff of Howardsville ride into the abandoned town with a bunch of deputies. Pleased that their anonymous note had brought the response they wanted, they now watched as the group came once more into view, this time with the seven people they'd left tied up at the bank obviously under arrest.

"OK Heyes, I admit it seemed a little odd that there was no-one in town except Sam that first night. I guess we arrived a little too early for them, but how did you figure it all out?"

"I didn't really Kid, not until I got to Howardsville and discovered there was no such thing as the Howardsville Tribune."

"I guess we know how that cat got into the safe then?" Curry laughed and Heyes grinned back.

"And it explains why Sam didn't know where the mining supplies office had been in the town. And how he knew we'd opened Mrs Sutton's safe when she couldn't possibly have had time to tell him."

"When you think about it Heyes, we must have been blind not to see it."

"That was the clever part though …."

"Uh-huh," agreed Curry, nodding. "They certainly were clever …"

Heyes glanced at him but continued "… they moved everything so fast that we didn't have time to think or put anything together."

Curry looked at him. "That wasn't the clever part though was it?" he asked.

Heyes gave him a questioning look.

"The clever part," continued Curry "was that they set you up from the beginning to want to open those safes."

"Hmm." Heyes narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. "You may have a point there, Kid." Then suddenly, he grinned. "I suppose we should count ourselves lucky then that there was no nitro to be had anywhere in Howardsville."

With that, he turned, mounted his horse and moved towards the rocky path which lead back down to the road, leaving Curry staring after him.
 

4.12 As Safe As Safe Can Be by Sally Wheaton

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