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 Present Company (Itroducing Wong and Haff)....6,800 words

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Cal

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Join date : 2015-11-11

20160121
PostPresent Company (Itroducing Wong and Haff)....6,800 words

---ooooooOoooooo---

Present Company
(Introducing Haff and Wong)

by Cal

--ooooooOoooooo---

Two exhausted riders, and two horses slick with foam, have to keep moving:


Curry roused gasping from a pain-induced, dream-filled waking sleep.  

"Who's'at?" he gasps, struggling to stay in the saddle.

"Easy kid ...it’s me ...Heyes ...glad to hear you're still with me ...Hang in there, Kid.  I'll think of something soon …promise ...Just have a little faith."

Heyes was desperate, that was the only word for it.  He needed to think, but he hadn't had a drink, nor food for far too long.  The pursuit was relentless, day and night and Kid had caught a bullet the first night.

It had been shocking that the posse hadn't stopped as dark fell. They’d lit torches!  Who has the presence of mind to rouse a posse and think, oh, and don't forget to pack torches.  

Heyes'd tried it all.  

‘Posse evasion? He'd written the damned book! Must be Apaches the lot of them’ he thought.

He’d been so sure, if they could’ve just cross the river, but it was in flood.  He'd headed north.  They would figure he'd go south, surely, but no.  No time now for recriminations, but, it was his fault they were even in Wyoming.  

He’d had to go push his idea onto Lom; couldn't let it rest, wore Kid down till he’d acquiesced.  

Stupid idea, stupid.

The governor didn't care.  Just coz it was election time again.  As if, getting the credit for removing the blight of all the Heyes and Curry robberies, from the banks and railways of the territory, would matter to him.

But Heyes'd had to try.

"Lom, if he wants to take the credit for these last coupla years of no us, then he has to make it public that he's promised us an amnesty.  It’s bound to help getting him re-elected ...and it just might get the posses and bounty hunters off our backs!"

Kid had been right to be cautious.  

They must have been recognised almost as soon as they crossed the border. That damn posse was waiting for them as soon as they left Porterville.   But they'd had fresh horses, good horses and supplies.  It should have been fine.

There'd been the usual panic.  The heart stopping near escape, the thrill, the adrenalin, the comradery of the chase.  

Then came the disbelief that first night.  Kids stoic acceptance of his wound …and his pain …and of course, his absolute faith in Heyes' ability to out-think their pursuers. There had been short-lived delight, in out foxing the posse …time and time again.  

Now there was worry, fear, bone weariness, thirst, hunger …and yes, desperation.  Heyes wasn't thinking clearly, but his mind was well practiced in this particular activity. It could almost take over from the befuddled ex-outlaw leader.  Almost.

They’d covered familiar territory; took banks of loose scree at breakneck speed, dodged into canyons thought impassable in well-practiced manner, slowly but surely, heading closer and closer to Devils Hole.

Kid was shot high up in his right arm.  It’d hung limp in the sleeve of the sheepskin jacket ever since. That side of his coat was now dark and wet.  His head hung low over the big black's neck.  He hadn't spoken a word for a long time.  Even the weird, waking delirium dreams, seemed to have stopped.

Kid was too quiet.

"Kid... Kid.... you still with me?"

"You worry …bout staying ...sheesh! ...your hos ...I'll…"

"I know, l know ...just checking."

"Where're …we at?"

"Close to the hole, North side.  Shame we're not coming in from a job, we'd ‘ve had lookouts up on those cliffs."

A flash of light caught Heyes eye.  He watched.  He wondered if it was just wish fulfilment, but there it was again, top of Lost Point.  Could it be?  Had one of their former gang seen them?

"Kid ...you just stay in that saddle ...I think I just got us a plan."

Heyes almost smiled, but that would have taken too much effort.  He took Kid’s reins, and pushed his near dead chestnut mare to a faster walk towards the cliffs.  No guile now, no tricks, just a hope that their pursuers mounts, were as near dead as theirs.

Heyes new exactly where to go; a blind canyon that twisted into the high cliffs for about two miles, ending in a shear face of rock.  He felt panicked, this could be suicide unless, beyond hope, the plan, a Hannibal Heyes plan no less, was still in operation.

There was a shallow stream halfway into the canyon.  Heyes felt incredibly mean pushing the horses past it, without drinking.  He could feel the resentment in the animals.

"No worse for you than fer me guys.  Just a little ways more, an' you can come drink yourselves stupid."

The relief, when he saw the thick rope nooses hanging against the far wall, was almost too much for Heyes.  Kid remained oblivious.

"We made it Kid! Come on ...remember the blind canyon trick? We're gonna pull us a disappearing act.  You just hang on ...We can get you all cleaned up ...You can eat …drink …sleep.  For Pete's sake Kid,” Heyes lifted Curry’s floppy head  “You gotta stay with me now!"

Heyes grabbed the first noose and pulled it over his partner’s head and torso.  He stuffed Kids bed roll and saddle bags into the rope loop to protect his face and hands as much as he could on the ascent, before knotting off the rope.  Yelling up the cliff; he watched as Kid was lifted out of the saddle, to scrape and bump his way up the cliff.   Quickly, Heyes un-cinched the black's saddle and pulled the leather bridle clear.

"Wait just a minute girl," he cooed to the chestnut. “Your turn ...let me get the bit passed your teeth…"

The two horses took off to the water with not a backwards glance.

Heyes quickly got as much of the tack, and their belongings, attached to the second noose as he could manage and then, using his own bedroll to protect his hands and face, he grabbed the third noose and yelled at the top of his voice for deliverance.

The ascent wasn't quick or painless.  Heyes rapidly caught up to Kid, and helped to unsnag his near unconscious partner from protruding rocks and vegetation. The upward pull was relentless.

Two scraped and bloody ex-outlaws were unceremoniously dragged away from the edge of the cliff top, in a snarling, cursing tangle.  Kid roused and cried out in pain.  

"Get off my arm ...Oh, just get it done …please someone …just shoot me now!"

Gasping noises came from underneath Curry.

"Can't breathe ...get off me ...Owwww! @#££%!"

The ropes became slack.  Hands grabbed Kid and dragged him clear of Heyes.

"Shut up! ...Shut up both of you! ...And keep down!"

Hands grabbed Colt and Schofield.  Two, confused ex-outlaws fought for their weapons, but were easily rebuffed.

"Here! ...Drink ...and shut up!"

A canteen was thrown at each of them.  

Heyes drank, and helped pour water into Curry's mouth, then he turned to focus on the owner of the commanding voice.  

A diminutive Indian, dressed in a strange combination of odd clothes, looking like the church charity bin rejects but embellished with beads and ornaments, was crawling to the cliff edge, brandishing the two hand guns. Checking both chambers for bullets, the Indian carefully aimed into the canyon and fired off several shots from each pistol.  Ricocheting echoes rang in Heyes ears for several minutes, followed by several answering rifle retorts.  Heyes closed his eyes, that had been too close a call.  

Grinning, the little Indian returned to his prizes.

"Who are you?" asked Heyes.

"As I'm holding the guns, I think you should tell me, who you are.  I know you ain’t Devils Hole, but that's sure a mean posse down there.  They gotta be thinking you're holed up, set to fighting your way out.  Should confuse them for a bit.  They can't follow, and I don't think they'll try getting up here passed Dead man’s point.  Is he hit?"

Kid had groaned and gone very pale, lips blue.  

Heyes tapped his face gently a couple of times.

"Kid ...Kid ...Come on ...We're home safe ...at the Hole ...Well ...only a haff-days ride out ...But we shook that damn posse.  Don't you die on me now!"

This last was said in his deepest leader’s voice, as a command.  The diminutive Indian looked from one, to the other, recognition dawning in his dark eyes.

"Kid?  What the Kid ...Kid Curry? ...so you’re Han'bul Heyes?   No ...no ...oh no ...that's not good ...Wheat's not going to like that ...@#££%%!"

"Yes, I'm Heyes, he's Curry and Wheat's a friend, he'll be fine.  Is Preacher here?  He'll fix up Kids arm ...and just who the hell’re you?"

The small man seemed to be wrestling with an internal conflict.  His brow creased as he considered his options.  He looked at Heyes, trying to assess the threat of this ex-gang leader, then at the infamous gunslinger, who looked near dead.  He pulled the coat from kid’s chest to inspect the wound, but couldn't make out much more than the fact that an impossible amount of blood seemed to be soaked into the coat.  The wound didn't smell too good either…  

Decision made he pushed the guns back into their holsters, and simply said, "Help me hide the ropes and saddles.  Only bring what you need.  Get your partner on that mule ...Cave house is closer, and Wong'll take a look at Curry."

"No! ...We'll take the mules ...But we'll head straight for the hideout, it’s not like we need a guide or anything ...Who are you? ...And who the hell is Wong?"

"Wong's my partner.  Curry might just keep his arm, if you can stop yakking long enough to help me get him there, real quick!  I'm Haff ...and your welcome!"

"Ok well ...thanks Haff ...but Preacher…"

"Will tell you Wong is Curry's best hope!  No more yakkin’ ...move ...now!"

Heyes found himself on a mule, helping Kid stay on his, tramping up a deer track.  Haff had done the work; stowing the ropes, heaving the gunslinger onto a mule.  Pushing canteens back into their hands he’d said.  "The mules know the way ...drink ...go!"

Soon Heyes found himself surrounded by small paint mountain ponies.  Haff rode a slightly larger pony, pushing the mules on in front of him.  Grinning, he called to Heyes, "Can't pick out tracks in this crowd!"

Suddenly, Haff jumped off his mount loosening its rope halter, he sent all the ponies on over the ridge.  Coming to stand next to Heyes, he pointed out to the plain below.  

"Look Heyes ...see how that stack and these two boulders line up." He smirked. "This is where we turn up into the tree line."  

With that, taking Kids weight across his shoulders, he walked the mules into the trees.  When the trees began to thin, they followed a stream bed up into the rocks. The mules found the boulders in the stream bed heavy going, but were soon enthused by nearing their journeys end.  They jumped up a small fall and suddenly dived to the left, down a switchback, that was entirely unseen until you were on it.  Heyes was impressed.  He thought Devils Hole held no surprises for Kid or him, after all, they'd crawled all over this area for years.  

As the mules came to a stop, he could see a small grassy cut in the cliffs, with water, grazing;  ‘A neat set up ...but no visible shelter.’

"Wong ...Wong!" Haff called up the cliff wall, followed by a stream of Chinese-Apache-Mexican mix that Heyes couldn't follow. He looked to their rescuer with incredulity written across his face.

"(Wong, get the cradle down here quick ...we got guests ...I caught me some dangerous fish.  One’s near dead ...others trouble.  Both dry and starved!  Hurry Wong!  Get your old bones moving ...I got to get over to the hideout with the haul ...no more gang left to come back ...they’re caught or dead by now.)"

Heyes watched in wonder, as an even more diminutive Chinese man appeared on a ledge, about twenty feet above his head.  He was lowering a cradle on rope, while keeping up a near constant, unintelligible stream of what sounded like an argument, with Haff.

Very soon Kid was flying skyward again as the mules pulled on ropes below.

Haff made short work of climbing the rope, to assist his partner with Kid, leaving Heyes with mules for what seemed like …a very long time.

"Hey! ...Hey ...Haff! ...Wong! ...What's going on? ...Haff!"

--ooooooOoooooo---

"(Why you bring them here?  Wheat won't like it …that was a big job, the gang just pulled...lotta money ...he won't want no one else here ...should have used your head ...must have known they wasn't Devils Hole ...all the gang will be back or dead by now ...why was you even lookin’? ...and the gang'll be looking for the haul ...they'll be looking to skin you too, if you don't get up there with it soon, so they can share it out!  You just don't think ...what’s brain for? ...wasted on dumb Indian ...and he looks too far gone anyway ...and wound stinks!  Why you bring me a dead fish?  His shouty partner will blame me now when he dies.  Dead Wong!  Is that what you bring me?")

This doesn't end here, but like Haff, we can stop listening.

"(Well you better make sure he lives then...What's a gunslinger, without a right arm?  That's Kid Curry!  Heyes won't like having to do his own killing!)"

They'd got Kid on a cot, his long legs on a table hastily added to the bottom end.  The blood soaked clothing was being pulled and cut off.  The fire was stoked up for heat.  The covers pulled down over doors and windows.  Herbs were added to the fire.  The wound was washed.  The Kid was given opium to drink.  The bullet was pulled.  The puss and blood is flowing.  Wong’s constant barracking of his partner is endless.

Haff, his eyes streaming and red and his head turned away from the offensive smelling wound, has had enough, and heads for the door.

"(I need to see to the mules ...and there’s another one, remember?  That's him hollering.  Sheesh! ...if he can shout like that, can't be much wrong with him ...you’d think he'd ‘ve taken better care of his partner ...not let that wound get as bad as that ...Oh ...and he has no idea who we are ...Let’s keep it that way!")

With that he pushed through the flap over the door, choking a little as fresh air hit his lungs.  He shook his head to clear it, then dropped onto the rope to go quiet the noisy one below.

--ooooooOoooooo---

Eventually, Haff reappeared at the top of the ledge.  He lowered the cradle, climbed down and pointed Heyes into it.  He piled their bedrolls and saddle bags in on top, and without a word, took up the mule’s heads and lead them away, sending Heyes to the ledge above.

‘Sheesh! ...proddy ...what's eating him?’ thought Heyes.

At the top of the ride Heyes found an Indian cave house.  He’d seen these abandoned before, but never in use.  The cave was set back from the ledge, invisible from below.  A cabin like structure had been added to the front, which was covered in hides and just now seemed to be …on fire!?!

"Kid? ...What the..."

Heyes pushed through the flap into the murky, smoked filled interior.  His eyes watered and he squinted around, desperate to find Kid, to pull him out of danger.  

There. Did they have him tied down?

"Hey!"  

The small china man was crouching over Kid’s prone form with a wicked looking blade.

"Get away from him!"

Heyes threw himself in the direction of the appalling scene.  He tripped, crashed into the table supporting Kids legs landing in a bowl of ...ewwwwww! ...pus, blood …the smell! ...Ewwww!

Wong breathed out slowly.

"Go over by the fire ...Don't move again ...Stay very quiet ...I could have cut an artery you idiot! ...Now ...quiet."

Wong carefully heated the blade in the flame again.  Ignoring Heyes, he gently touched it to Kids arm and succeeded in stopping most of the bleeding.  He washed and dressed the wound and released the arm from the bindings.  He thanked his presence of mind to tie down the limb ...

’That noisy fool!’

He looked up at the annoyance by the fire.  He saw a terrified, trail worn, exhausted young man, surprisingly young in fact.  

‘Didn't Haff say this was the great Hannibal Heyes, once great leader of Devils Hole gang?’  

Then he saw the eyes, almost black, and so deep, fixed on Wong, full of sorrows, worries and threats.  Yes, he could believe this half-starved looking waif was the great Hannibal Heyes. He approached his new guest as he would a cornered lion.  

"Your partner’s wound is grave ...It should have been cleaned properly ...He has lost much blood ...I make no promises ...You understand? ...I do what I can, but I come to this wound late, so no promises.  Are you, yourself hurt?"

Heyes finally let out the breath he'd been holding and slumped back into the corner.  His eyes shut, hands scrubbing into his hair, as recriminations danced in his head.  He should have ...Should have what?  Kid had gone quiet, too quiet.  It was down to him ...He should have...

"No, just Kid ...I'm fine ...Well, will be I guess ...Thanks ...Just tied ...real tied..."

Wong watched, as his second guest, covered in his partner’s blood and worse, succumbed to the fires warmth, and the herbs.

"(Good...Now he'll be quiet...I need to finish up here...)"

--ooooooOoooooo---

Kid fought upwards, through stifling blankets ...deep snow ...black water ...warm honey…  

‘...I need my gun ...bed post ...Must open my eyes ...They're coming ...coming.’

His arm was tied down, his gun hand useless ...Caught ...Tied... ‘Heyes ...Heyes!’

"Heyes ...where? …" he rasped.

He opened sticky eyes to warm darkness.  His head swam.  

‘I must’ve got hit ...hehehe ...’ he giggled. ‘Good job I got a good hard head.’  

"Heyes?" A whisper.

As his eyes adjusted, he first saw the glow of low burning logs on the fire, then a strange, smiling, fat guy that sat above it.

‘Hehehe...fat guards ...hahaha …Little fat Chinese guards!’ he mused.  

Then he saw his partner’s slumped form.  First the battered black hat, then the blood and ...’What?’ …all over his coat.  Heyes wasn't moving ...panic.

"Heyes!" Hoarse rasp, but louder.

Heyes looked up into the blue eyes of the fastest gun in the west.  He saw sheer panic, then laughter, then fear and then confusion, coming in all one after the other.

"'S ok, Kid.  Keep it down.  You're a bit drugged, is all.  You've been hurt pretty bad ...but you're safe now ...No posse ...We're at the Hole ...Well, kinda…"

Heyes had dragged his weary carcass to Kids side.  He patted the unhurt shoulder.

"You're not tied up ...It’s just to keep everything where it should be.  You been wrestling lions in your sleep ...Got to keep that arm still.  Don't want to lose your shooting arm, do you Kid?"

Heyes tried to bite back that last. Fresh panic sprung in Curry’s eyes.  ‘Damn drugs!  Getting to him too ...think!’

"Heyes?" Kid is all smiles again now, “You're all bloody?"

"Aw, don't worry, Kid ...It’s all yours!"

Back to panic.

" I mean, ...@#£%%!  Its stopped now ...You just gotta rest ...You'll see ...Wong'll fix you up good as new ...Just shush down...shhh…"

The blue eyes were shutting under the weight of monotone shushing.  A brief smile crossed Kid’s face, then nothing.  With his pale skin and blue lips, Kid could be dead.  Heyes fought an impulse to shake him back to consciousness.

"I said no promises Mr Heyes." Wong had come to tend his patient.  "Mr Curry could lose his life or his arm ...both maybe."

Wong’s eyes lifted in silent prayer, to the squat little idol that sat, smiling above the fire.

--ooooooOoooooo---

much later

When Haff returned, the pint sized partners exchanged a brief look that said many things:  Its delivered. No, I didn't tell them.  I have what you requested right here in this sack.  No words needed.

Heyes vaguely noticed.  ‘How long had he been here?’  He felt rested at least.

" Mr Heyes needs air ...Needs clean up ...Needs food.  Take him out back and show him where to sleep, he'll be our guest for some time yet I think."

Haff dropped the sack at Wong’s feet (Did it wriggle?) and put a hand under Heyes' arm, rousing him further.

"Come on ...you stink ...You need to wash."

He pulled Heyes to his feet, and out under more hides to the rear of the cave.  Heyes had to duck, but came out into a smaller rocky gap, with three steep sides, one of which had a trickle of water flowing over it and a deer trail up to the meadow above.  The fourth side was a dead drop to the tops of trees, and a lake was just visible, on the other side of the trees below.

"Nice setup you have here.  Running water out back, huh?  All the comforts of home."

"You need to wash ...and it’s not so comfortable when the water is ice and snow fills the cave.  You should eat ...I'll go get food."  Haff pointed to a smaller cave in the rock face behind them.  "Your stuff is in there...you can sleep in there too ...And leave your gun in there, guns make Wong nervous."

Heyes took several deep breaths of good Wyoming air.  It felt good.

He got busy, stripping, washing, shaving, finding clean pants and shirt.  He looked at his bloody coat, and threw it into the stream, weighted under a couple of big rocks.  His stomach growled.  

Haff came out and handed him a bowl.  It was hot.  Gave him some sticks...

"OK?  Thankyou."

Whatever it was, it was soon gone.  Heyes looked up at Haff, questioningly, proffering the empty bowl.

"There’s plenty more food ...but you better take it slow or your belly will gripe.   There's tea ...but you'll want coffee ...here, give me the bowl. I'll get more ...and coffee."

Feeling much more himself, and stronger, and rested, Heyes reluctantly placed his Scofield on top of his bedroll in the guest accommodation, or store cave, before pulling up the flap over the low opening at the back of the main cave.

His two hosts were leaning over his partner, whispering.  Haff turned his head and jabbed Wong in the arm, jerking his head Heyes-wards, he coughed. Wong quickly covered Kids arm with the sack and turned to Heyes.

"You're looking much better Mr Heyes ...Clean and rested.  Perhaps you would like to go see if you could get some game.  I presume you like to eat meat …like most Westerners?"

Heyes recognised the brush off when he heard it.  ‘Why was he being asked to make himself scarce again?  What were these two hiding?  They looked real shifty.’

"I don't think I'm up to that just yet, Mr Wong.  Think I'll just be sitting with my partner...Keep an eye on him..."

---ooooooOoooooo---

"Mr Wong? ...Haff? ...'S us!" A shout came from the backyard.  

Heyes' face broke into a huge dimpled smile, as he recognised the unmistakable drawl of Kyle Mertry.

"Kyle!  Wheat!  Great to see yer!" He shouted, as he emerged once more from under the hides into the back yard.  

Kyle's mouth dropped open, his voice pitching up an octave.  "Heyes! That you?  What in Tarnation? ...Looky here Wheat, its..."  As he turned to face the current leader of the Devils Hole gang, to share the good news, Kyle read the cussedness writ large on Wheat Carlson's face.  "It’s ...Heyes." he finished trying to sound a little put out and disappointed.

"Heyes." Snarled Carlson.

"Wheat." Chewed Heyes.

"Guess you heard ...huh?  Thought you'd come sniffing around ...crawling back, now you knows the pickins’ good again?" Wheat was trying to find higher ground than the ex-leader of the Devils Hole Gang in front of him.

Heyes' hat was pushed to the back of his head with one long tapered finger, his hands went to his hips, his eyes narrowed and darkened, his lips chewed up into a snarl as he sucked in air ready for a tirade...  

"Where's the Kid, Heyes?" Kyle asked guilelessly.

"Huh?" Heyes was annoyed with the interruption.  He glanced at the short blond outlaw, then indicated the cave entrance with a jerk of his head.  "In there, with Wong.  He took a bullet, nearly a week ago.” He turned the famous dark eyed, temper-fuelled glare back to Carlson.  

“Now see here Wheat! ...”

Kyle took his chance to escape a full on Heyes, Wheat shouting match by ducking under the hides into the cave.  

"Mr Wong ...Sir.  Haff.  That the Kid?  He looks terrible.  Hey Kid it’s me Kyle ...Kid?"

"Hello Mr Kyle” smiled Wong in greeting. “I don't think he's hearing you yet.  He’s very sick.  Would you like tea?  Have you brought our share?  Did you use Nitro or Dynamite this time?  What safe was it?  Come ...sit ...tell me all."

Wong lead the little outlaw to the mat by the fire, where they sat cross legged with China bowls of tea, talking explosives.  

Haff shook his head.  They'd be there for ages; Wong would have every detail.  Haff could hear the slanging match outside but didn't bother to listen to the words.  

‘Good,’ he thought.   ‘Heyes was fit to blow at someone, better towering Wheat Carlson than Wong or me.’  

He turned to bathe the blond gunslinger’s head with cold water and wondered ‘What trouble will this one be, if he ever comes round.  This is meant to be the violent one of the pair, surely.’  

As if on cue, Kid’s eyes started to open again, and his mouth struggled to form words. Haff looked across to his partner by the fire, Wong moved his eyes to the bottle of laudanum.  Haff picked it up and wet Curry’s lips.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Kid was dreaming again ...He knew that ...but he was getting to the top ...He needed to get back and find Heyes.  He thought he saw a figure, with long black hair ...bathing his brow, with a cool cloth…  

‘Annabel?  That you?  I ate the food Annabel...sorry. Where's the money Annabel?  Where's the saddlebag?  Need to keep the money safe ...Amnesty ...You take it Annabel?  Where's the money!?!?’

"Money!" Mumbled Kid.  Then he was falling ...down ...down ...down.

Kyle looked up from his tea.  Worry creased his brow.  

‘Kid wants the money?  They did come for the money.  Not this time Kid.  You're not the only ones looking to retire, this should just about see old Kyle clear.’  

He looked back to Wong, replaced the worry on his face with a big black toothed smile, and continued his story of daring do.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Wheat Carlson was not going to win any argument with Hannibal Heyes; deep down he knew that, so he changed the subject.

"Well I came to see Mr Wong ...not you ...so I gots business to attends to ...Some of us is still outlaws ...Professional!"

Wheat used all his height to try to regain the upper hand with Heyes, but he had to wait for Heyes to give ground, before he could remove his hat, and practically bend double to enter the cave house.

"Mr Wong" he said respectfully.  "Kyle …make a bit of room."

Wheat folded himself up awkwardly next to Kyle, shifting his empty holster so that his legs would bend and he could sit.

"We made good pay.  This here's your share.  Yes sir, with your planning an’ my leadership, it’s a dream com …bine …nation.  Oh ...Thank you." He balanced the delicate tea bowl on his fingertips.

When Heyes quietly straightened himself up, at the back of the cave, he looked on incredulously at the tea party over by the fire.  

‘So, Wheat’s got himself a new thinker.’  

The wad of notes in the Chinaman's hand, meant it must have been some haul.  Strangely, he himself had several thousand dollars on him; money wasn't a current worry for him and the Kid, but when Heyes looked at the size of that wad, his stash seemed light.

‘Maybe I should get myself into a friendly poker game with some of the gang up at the hideout.   Would that be honest money?’  

He could hear Kid in his head ...

’No Heyes ...no...’

He looked over at the Kid: Came to stand beside him..."I'll take over" he told Haff, indicating that the Indian should leave cooling Curry to him.  

Haff looked to his partner.  Wong looked annoyed, but nodded, so Haff threw the cloth to Heyes.  "Don't move that sack" he grunted.

Heyes sat.  

Kid was a lot hotter than before.  

Heyes got to work cooling him.  

A while later he heard a cough and looked up.  Wheat stood, looking down at him.  

"Don't want you up at the Hole, parting the boys from their hard earned.  We lost two men ...the boys are some rattled ...they'll be off to hurrah Harris town, when they get over the scare.  So you stay away.  Look after the Kid here ...and mind your manners with Mr Wong ...or you'll answer to me!"  

His hand fell to his empty twisted holster, which as he had to straighten it rather spoiled the effect of the implied threat.  Heyes just nodded and turned his attention back to his partner.  Truth was, now he was a little healed himself, the true weight of Kid’s predicament had hit him.

His place was here.

---ooooooOoooooo---

With Heyes sat close to Kid, opportunities to keep the gunslinger high and unconscious on laudanum weren't so frequent. Frustratingly, the ex-outlaw leader seemed to know enough about the drug to push the bottle away, saying he didn't want the Kid used to the stuff.  

"Just enough to keep the edge off."

Haff had managed to distract the watchful one, when dressings were being changed, but trust was a casualty.  Haff and Wong eyed Kid and Heyes like coiled snakes in their home and Heyes couldn't get passed the feeling that, the wool was being pulled over his eyes.  

‘Something doesn't feel right, but what are they hiding?’

---ooooooOoooooo---

Kid was catching on to his surroundings.  He could surface for minutes at a time.  He got flashes ...a dimpled smile ...a snoring black hat ...an Indian? ...a china man!  He might of had a chance to put some of it together but his brain was addled.  The Indian would turn into Caroline, in Apache Springs, accusing him of stealing dust.  The china man, would lead him into Soapy’s scams in Chinatown, in Frisco, running.  Heyes would be whole, then full of holes and falling off his horse in the dark…  Then...

"Hey...you back in the world of the living partner?" Heyes’ face came into blurry focus.

"Yep ...Sure am hungry though ...You got anything t’ eat?  …What?"

Heyes laughed fit to burst.

"You'll make it Kid ...Had me worried there for a while…"

---ooooooOoooooo---

Kid hated being inactive ...but he felt happy ...even though he wasn't ...which was really annoying.  Couldn't seem build himself up for a good moan!

"It's the stuff on the fire.  Wong says he likes you mellow, so you don't go moving that arm.”  Heyes’ eyebrows head skywards in delight. “Gotta say Kid, I like you with no grumbling.  I might ask Wong for some of it when we leave, to keep you from grumping about my coffee."


"I'm bored ...and I’m hungry...hehehe ...and I’m bored" giggled Kid. "My arm feels kinda funny ...hehehe ...Why don't it stop moving? ...Did I say I was bored? ...I need to clean my gun …Where’s my gun? ...and I'm hungry."

And with that he was asleep again.

Heyes fetched Kids Colt from the store cave out back, removed the bullets, took a rag and gun oil, and left it on the side of Kid’s cot.  

Mr Wong shouted at Haff when he saw it.  

Haff shouted at Heyes.  

Heyes shouted at both of them and when Kid woke ...he started trying to take the gun apart lovingly, with his left hand.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Heyes was getting a little stir crazy and fed up of the veggie diet.  He needed meat, so did the Kid.  He took his gun, and went off to kill something ...to eat.

While he was away both Haff ...and then later Wong ...had the bright idea of increasing Kids dose of happy.

Kid was very happy.  

He loved his gun.  He was convinced a beautiful dusky dark-haired maiden stood at the end of his bed, to whom he was plighting even more arduous love.  He was convinced something was eating his right arm, and that an army of fat smiling Chinese guards were trying to keep his true love away from him.

("If he calls me that one more time ...I’m gonna …$@£%&!)"

Haff’s dignity was in danger of crumbling.  Curry had already grabbed him in an embrace, that he would never, ever again think on.  "(We got to get that gun off him ...you do it ...he doesn't ...like you)"

"(There's no bullets in it anyway ...don't worry ...It’s said he's quite a lady’s man...)"  Wong couldn't resist teasing his younger partner.  "(Let's get that wound cleared out, while his nosey partners out.")

"(I'm not going near him)" stated Haff. "(You'll have to do it.)"

"(Takes two!)" shouted Wong.

Curry watched intently, but couldn't understand a word. He laughed inappropriately, then took aim, left handed with his trusty Colt, at the shouty guard’s head.  ..."boom!"... He giggled and laughed maniacally, as the hammer clicked into place.

Haff looked at Wong, his eyes wide in alarm.  "(See ...he's a killer! ...Give him more opium!)" He threw himself between Curry and Wong, stealing himself to grab the weapon.

"Heyes ...you're not gonna like this ...hehehe...” Curry called to the room, “I'm saving damsels in distress again ...hahaha ...I guess I just can't help myself …hahaha   …Wait a minute!  …She's a he!  He's an Indian! ...Damn! …Boom! ...boom! ...hahaha!"  Two more clicks.

Heyes could hear Kid laughing as he pulled himself up on to the ledge at the front of the cave house, laughing like a mad man.  

‘What have that crazy pair given him now?  I’m not having an addict for a partner.’  

He dropped the small deer and the rifle and stomped to the door flap...

Bang!  

A gunshot rang out, then a stream of loud cussing in Chinese Apache, crashing pottery followed by more maniacal laughter. Heyes moved.  He threw himself at his partner and wrestled the gun from his hand.

"What the Sam Hill!"  

He looked about.  Haff was on the floor clutching his bleeding head.  The Chinaman was sitting in the debris of his tea set, on the rug, and the little smiling idol was in pieces, all over the floor.  

Curry was still giggling.  

Heyes glared back at him till his face straightened just a little and he tried to look contrite.  "Oops," he smirked, then seeing shock on Heyes’ face, asked...

"What?"

Heyes' eyes had gone big as plates.  In all the commotion, the sacking had dropped from Kid’s arm, and Heyes could see a seething, mass of maggots wriggling in the wound.  Nearly vomiting, he turned and grabbed Wong up from the rug.  

"What have you done?" he screamed, shaking the much smaller man, dark eyes ablaze with unfettered temper.  Then he crumpled to the floor, unconscious, as a stool came crashing down on the back of his head.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Heyes came to and found his hands tied in his lap, his feet were bound too.  A bandage had been roughly wound round his temple.

Across from him sat a shaken Wong, stitching Haff’s head wound.  Haff swung the remaining leg of a stool aimlessly to and fro.  

Heyes was now sitting in the broken crockery; his erstwhile rescuers, kept up an endless stream of unintelligible jabber.  A curly blond head peered around them, from the bed.

Kid smiled and mouthed "Sorry." He was looking much better, if a little hung over.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Later

"Just promise not to be mad again and they'll untie you" reasoned Kid. "You frightened them, is all, with your temper..."

"I frightened them!  Who was doing the shooting! And where'd you get a bullet?"

Heyes hadn’t calmed down yet then.

Kid held up his brown floppy hat.  "You're not the only one keeps secrets in your hat Heyes." He looked suitably shame faced though.

Heyes suddenly remembered the maggots.  His temper rocketed skywards again in seconds.  He was screaming at the chattering pair in front of him, how he'd trusted them, how he’d let them talk him out of going to Preacher, how if Kid lost his shooting arm ...he'd ...he'd ...he'd ...

Well you get the picture.

---ooooooOoooooo---

A while later

"Heyes ...calm down ...Calm down will you."  

Kid spoke softly.

"Mr Wong explained it all to me.  It’s a little weird ...not to say disgusting ...but, it don't hurt, and it was the only way to stop the rot ...It’s well known in China apparently ...But, they knew we wouldn't understand ...you know? ...We’d think they was ...well ...look ...You just hit the roof again ...so they was right!  But my arm’s looking a lot better now ...See …And sewn up ...Still stings like hell ...But no smell …See ...And now I know all about it, there's no need to tie it down ...or drug me."

---ooooooOoooooo---

A week or so later

A healing Kid, and an apologetic Heyes, take their leave of Wong and Haff.  A familiar black gelding, and chestnut mare, stand in the meadow above the backyard of the cave house.  

Don't ask.  

Heyes is giving Wong money to pay for their keep.  Wong is patiently giving it back to him; a painful smile plastered on his lips, explaining how it’s an insult to be paid for hospitality.

Kid is apologising, again to Haff, for the head wound.  

Haff isn't fooling anybody when he says “It’s just a scratch, no problem.” His hand goes to the bandage.

As the two ex-outlaws ride off across Devils Hole country, a running Chinese- Apache-Mexican argument starts up.  Wong first.

"(Next time...you don't have to always try to save everyone...Just think!)"

Haff looks at the backs of the retreating partners, then back at his own partner and shakes his head.

Next time?!?!

---ooooooOoooooo---

Months Later

"This is it Kid ...This is where we turn off into the woods ...I remember ...It's up here.  Be careful with that package!"

"You sure about this Heyes?"

"Yep ...It's right up here."

You can see that the blond ex-outlaw under the brown floppy hat, has been brow beaten again, by the silver tongued one...

"You know what I mean Heyes ...You sure this is a good idea?"

"Sure Kid ...Soapy said it’s the very best there is ...real China ...fine China ...from China!" smiled the dimpled one.

"Heyes!"

"What?" Innocence itself.

"What!" Incredulous blue eyed stare.  "Last time we were here, we wrecked their home ...Shot them ...Broke ...everything!  What makes you so sure they ain't gonna just shoot us on sight?  They're known outlaws, you know? ...You saw those wanted posters!"

Kid’s just dripping sarcasm.

"Yeah? ...Guess you did get a little rowdy last time Kid ...but ...they fixed you up real good ...A near miracle that doc in Porterville said.  I just wanted to try and set things right.  I don't think we made a very good impression the first time Kid."  

Heyes shakes his head in contemplation.  

Kid’s eyes roll.

They travelled on in silence, watched by two sets of wide, disbelieving eyes.  A mute conversation is had between two diminutive partners.

(You dare! ...Who me? ... Never! ...Keep your head down ...They have to leave eventually.)

"Shame Kid.“  

Heyes stands, looking up the cliff in front of the cave house.  

“Still, we'll just leave these presents here ...They'll be fine, no one will see them ...Safe enough ...Shame though, they'd probably have enjoyed a bit a company ...Maybe they’re out on a job? ...They’re sure to know they’re from us."

"Sure Heyes."

As two riders leave the woods and take the ridge trail down, the one in the floppy brown hat falls behind a step or two, he turns in the saddle and waves, lifting a rather stiff looking right arm.

The end
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