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 Barber of Sherville (The Fifth Haff and Wong Tale) ... 8,200 words

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Cal

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Join date : 2015-11-11

20160207
PostBarber of Sherville (The Fifth Haff and Wong Tale) ... 8,200 words

---ooooooOoooooo---

The Barber of Sherville
(The Fifth Haff and Wong Tale)

By Cal

---ooooooOoooooo---



Early morning, two riders sit on their horses perusing the small town of Sherville

“Where we going first Heyes?”  The Kid looked at the livery, the hotel and the saloon in that order.  “To buy you a new razor,” was Heyes’ curt reply.  

“I don’t need a new razor.”  Kid cupped his hairy chin, rubbing a straggly, near-red, curly beard with his gloved hand.  He liked the beard and moustache.  Made him look manly, less boyish, less Kid.  

“Kid,” his equally hirsute older cousin turned in his saddle. He could see the look in his partner’s eyes. “You look like a grizzly bear!” Heyes sniffed the sheepskin coat from three feet away and wrinkled up his nose, “And what’s worse, you smell like a grizzly bear.”

“Oh, I look like a grizzly? Hah!  You haven’t been ’round too many mirrors lately Heyes.  You look like a momma bear, needing a nest for the winter.”  Kid was waving his arm at his partner’s jet black full beard, moustache, and side burns.  

With Heyes’ dark eyebrows and shabby black hat pulled down over his eyes, there wasn’t much of his face left on view.  Added to this, Heyes was wearing nearly all the clothes he owned, layered one on top of the other under his blue grey winter coat.  He almost appeared chubby.  

Kid looked his partner up and down and laughed at his own wit, “Momma bear!”

“At least I don’t stink.” Heyes looked put out.  “I took a bath.”  

“Swimming your horse through that flooded river don’t count as having a bath Heyes,” Curry smirked.  “If you’d followed me over instead of going you own way; your horse wouldn’t have lost its footing.” The long-haired curly head shook. “Took us a whole day just to dry you out, and that don’t count as laundry neither, ‘cause we had to get all your clothes back on you to warm you up.”

“Made me smell a whole lot better though.” Heyes scowled. “Didn’t like to mention it back at the claim Kid, but I didn’t just need a drink and a bit of feminine company, mostly I needed a break from being cooped up with your socks.”

“Well I like the beard and the moustache.” Kid looks like he’s trying on his own head, moving it this way and that.   Heyes’ eyebrows go North in disbelief. “Not this again.  You been grumpin' how it’s been itching since you growed it!”  

“Think it makes me look…” Kid searched for the right adjective, one that wouldn’t be too easy to ridicule.

“Ugly,” finished Heyes.  “Well you want a bit of feminine company too, don’t you Kid?  The lovely ladies of Sherville ain’t gonna be able to get near enough to you unless you give them some shears!” Heyes laughed as the realization that he may not be irresistible to women, hidden behind a tangle of red sage brush, dawned in his younger cousin’s face.

Curry’s eyes scanned the main street of the little town again.  At the far end, next to the livery was a bathhouse and barber shop.  He ran his gloved fingers lovingly through the copious growth on his chin once more and sighed heavily, “I know we said we wasn’t gonna cash in any of our dust till we can take it all to Denver, but have we got enough cash on us to get baths and barber shaves?” Kid didn’t sound too convinced. “And, still leave ourselves enough for tonight?” He looked over to his partner. “Don’t want to blunt a new razor on this thatch.”

Heyes smiled at Kid, happy he was getting his own way.  “Sure Kid, just let me drop our dust over at the bank and I’ll join you.  Here, this should cover it.” He handed over a few coins.  

“The bank?” Curry looked surprised.  

“Yeah, well where do you think I’m going to stash maybe a coupla thousand dollars’ worth of dust, Kid, under a rock?” Heyes opened his eyes wide.  “Under a mattress?” Wider still.  “No, I’m going to get us a lock box at the bank, safest place for it.  That’s three months of our lives in them little sacks, Kid.”  

Curry gave it two minutes thought, images of empty holes and bare springs in his head, and nodded agreement.  “Only thing we gotta worry about with a bank is outlaws.” He smirked, “And, two of the most successful outlaws in the West don’t do that anymore.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

Curry had decided that a shave was his first priority.  Get that over with and he could have a relaxing soak in the tub.  This was a really well organised shop. They’d even offered a laundry service for his clothes, including the offensive socks, at a very reasonable rate.  He eased himself into the chair, removed his hat and closed his eyes.  When someone else shaved you, you didn’t need to stare into a mirror, and even Kid had to agree he wasn’t looking his best just now.  

Warm towels were placed over his shoulders, something herbal smelling was puffed into the air around him.  ‘Kinda clean smellin,’ he thought, ‘perhaps this wasn’t going to be too bad.’

A small oriental gentleman busied himself ridding Kid of the untidy beard.  Seeing his client’s eyes closed, he didn’t feel the need to make conversation.  He politely asked if the gentleman would like his hair cut also.  Kid, mindful of their limited funds and big plans for this evening, grunted a negative. He could wash it in the tub later. Anyway, women seemed to like his curls long.  More towels were piled onto his face and left there to sit a while.

Curry heard Heyes come in, order the same services as he had, except Heyes said he’d clear out his saddlebags and hand over his laundry after the bath. Kid smirked.

The chair next to Kid creaked and the same gentleman that had shaved kid was saying, “Shave and Haircut?” Kid smiled when he heard his partner replying that he also only wanted a shave.  ‘With those sideburns, how’s the barber going to know when to stop?’ mused Kid.  

There was something niggling at Kid.  Something, that he couldn’t quite bring into focus, was making him feel a bit unsettled.  They hadn’t got a room or sorted the horses yet, but that wasn’t it.  There was Something familiar about this situation, what was it last time…

Kid pulled the towels from his face, sat up and looked over to where a small Chinese man had a cutthroat razor held to Heyes lathered neck.  “Wong? Is that you?”

The little man’s shoulders moved just a notch in surprise and a squeal came from under the lather. “Very sorry Mr…urm…Smith.” Wong turned an annoyed face to Curry.  “I will be with you very shortly Mr…urm…Jones, please try to stay quiet and relax.”  The word quiet was emphasised.  

Kid’s face broke into a huge smile, which without the beard, we can all appreciate.  Last time Wong had shaved them in a shop like this the sneaky oriental hadn’t let on that he knew who they were.  This time Kid had spotted him and was feeling really smug about it.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Later in the bath house, two ex-outlaws soaking side by side in enamel tubs.  

I’ll let you just take a minute. Wink

Kid still sports a cheesy grin, “I had him this time.  I knew there was something familiar…”  Kid shakes a mane of now clean blond curls, as though he can’t believe how clever he’s been.  “…Wong, I said, is that you? Hah! Did you see the look on his face?”  

“No, I felt it. On my neck!” Heyes scowls over to Curry carefully touching the now staunched nick on his neck. “And I don’t know what you’re so happy for?”  Heyes lets this hang in the air between the tubs.

Curry’s big cheesy grin begins to recede, then a bit more. Worry enters the blue eyes; a slight frown furrows his brow.  He looks at his partner who’s now looking a bit smug.

“What?” asks the confused one.  

Heyes knows what he has to say will put a crimp in his younger cousin’s self-congratulations, so he milks this little gem for a few minutes more, then in a cool flat voice he says, “The last time Wong pulled his invisible barber routine on us he was fixing to rob the bank.  He’s probably fixing to rob the bank I just left three months of our lives in Kid.”

Curry’s lips move but no words are coming.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Later that morning

Two very clean looking ex-outlaws, in newly laundered clothes, leave the town’s only hotel.  

“Can you believe that?  What are the chances? I know there’s a lot of people in the world named Smith and Jones, but in the room next door to us, partners named Smith and Jones?” Kid is wide-eyed with disbelief.  

“Daniel Smith and Matthias Jones,” disparages Heyes.  “Coupla aliases if ever I heard them.  Shows real lack of imagination,” sneered the ex-leader of the Devils Hole gang.

Curry had to laugh at that, “Whitt Rembakker, that’s the best you could come up with?”

Heyes looked a little offended, “Well beats Kyle Hodgkiss!” he snorted.  

“It’s all I could think of, stood there with the pen in my hand staring at what you wrote. Guess I thought Whitt was like Wheat, so I wrote Kyle.” Curry looked apologetic.

“Well Kyle, how about we go get us a drink,” smirked Heyes.

There was a familiar-looking small dun mare at the hitching post.  A mute conversation between the partners.  Heyes takes a peek over the batwings and nods.  Curry smiles ruefully and swings his arm in an after you gesture.

Kyle stood at the bar.  ‘Just the one beer can’t hurt’ he thought, ‘I’m real dry after that ride, I need to cut the dust.’

He’d stayed by the bar, his back to the room, his hat pulled right down over his eyes.  He’d hunched his shoulders in an effort to be invisible.  He’d downed a whiskey and was now nursing a short beer.  He was just thinking how he’d gotten away with it when two fellas came and stood at each side of him, towering over him, and leaning in real close.  ‘Them darn deputies,’ thought Kyle, ‘Always smellin so darn clean. How’d they spot me?’

“Howdy Kyle,” drawled Curry.  

Kyle turned a shocked face up to Kid.  “Ki…. shhhhh!”  Kyle looked mighty relieved to see Kid and Heyes, he pulled them away from the bar towards the back of the saloon.  

“Three beers,” Heyes shouted over his shoulder to the barkeep, holding up three fingers.  

“What in tarnation are you doing here?” whispered Kyle conspiratorially.  

“Well, one thing we ain’t doin' is fixing to rob the bank,” says Heyes.  

“Huh?”  Kyle looks confused, “I thought you were them two deputies, gave me a real scare.” The little outlaw shook his head keeping his face to the wall.

“They know who you are?” asks Kid noticing Kyle’s reluctance to be seen.  

“Yeah, me and Wheat’s not welcome anywhere near Sherville.” Kyle sounds like he’s just realised he’s exactly where he’s just said he can’t be.  

“Well, we got a hotel room cross the street…” began Curry.

Heyes humphed, holding back words by putting his fingers to his lips, rolling his eyes at the Kid.

“… if you need to hole up for a few hours, Kyle,” finished Curry ignoring his partner.  

“No, that’s OK Kid, Wheat’s got us a room …” started Kyle.

“You’re Smith and Jones!” accused Heyes, eyes wide with affront. “Them’s our aliases!”  

“Well gee Heyes, we didn’t know you was gonna be here,” whined Kyle, now looking more uncomfortable than ever.

The barkeep brought the beer.  Heyes paid and they all drank in silence.  

“You’re Jones?” Curry asked to break the silence. Heyes looked like his temper was about to blow ’cause that meant Wheat was Smith.  

“Yeah Kid, Matt Jones,” said Kyle quietly.  

More noises from Heyes whilst fingers pressed against lips.  

“It isn’t Kid, remember,” said Kid laconically.  

Kyle’s eyebrows raised in question.  “It’s Kyle.” Kid said this like he could hardly believe it himself. “Kyle Hodgkiss,” and then looking over to his near apoplectic older cousin, smiled. “And, Heyes here is Whitt Rembakker!”

“Aw, you called yerselves Kyle an’ Wheat?” Kyle looks like he’s really flattered.

“Whitt Kyle, It’s Whitt Rembakker!” stormed Heyes knocking back his beer.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Back in their hotel room, Kyle is sleeping in his room next door.

“Well that confirms it,” whispers Heyes loudly. “If Wong’s here, so’s Haff. And, if Kyle and Wheat’s here, then the rest of the gang must be laying low outside of town.”

Heyes is shaking his head, “Of all the dumb luck! They’ll be planning another payroll heist.  Do the switchy thing with the mule cart,” Heyes illustrates ‘switchy’ with his hands whilst making faces.  “Wong could get Kyle and Wheat in real trouble if the law already knows them in this town.”

“And, what’s Lom and the governor gonna think when they hear Smith and Jones pulled a bank job?” Curry joined in the head shaking.  

Heyes took his temper up a notch and his voice went up a notch to match.  “Exactly. Exactly! We got to tell Lom we’re not Smith and Jones this time—and quick!”

“And we gotta get our dust outta that bank!” Agreed Curry.  

Curry looked across the street at the offending bank from their hotel window, when his attention was caught by the sight of a couple of familiar looking mules.  One of the mules was laden with packages, the other was being ridden by a very diminutive cowboy with a large black hat and a long tan coat, the collar of which was pulled up against the cold.  The mules paraded down the main street towards the livery.  

“Think I’m going to see if an old friend of ours needs a drink.” Curry jerked his head to the street.

Heyes smiled in agreement. “Might loosen his tongue.  While you entertain our Indian friend, I’ll ask around a bit, see what I can dig up. I’ll send Lom a telegram too, then I’ll head on over to the bank pick up our dust.”

Plans made the boys head back out.

---ooooooOoooooo---

At the livery yard behind the bath house.

“Howdy Haff,” smiles Curry.  

Haff is letting the very tired mules out into a small corral at the back of the livery.  He’s put the supplies onto the flatbed of a mule wagon parked up against the back wall of the bath house. The Indian is nearly covered head to foot in a dusty tan coat, and his hair is plaited and out of sight.  He glances round wary, then his face splits in a big grin. “Kid,” he says quietly, “Why you here?”  

“That anyway to greet an old friend? Come on let me buy you a beer,” grins Kid.

“What? Where?” Haff looks confused.  

“Come on, let me buy my old friend a beer.” Curry thinks Haff hasn’t heard him right, “Sure look like you could use one, you brought half a desert in with you.” Curry slaps Haff on the back raising a dust storm and pushes him towards the street and the saloon.

“I can’t go in the saloon Kid,” whispers Haff. “They see me in there.”

“Who?” asks Curry.  

“Everyone!” Haff’s eyes are wide. “Here,” Haff waves his arms at the street, “they not see me, but in there, everyone sees me.”  Haff is shaking his head looking very worried.

“Oh,” Curry’d forgotten Haff was Apache, well, at least in appearance.  He quickly revised his plan.  “Well, you gotta be hungry, lets go in here and get us a bite to eat.”  He bundled a very reluctant Haff into the cheerful looking little restaurant.  Haff sank into a chair and pulled his hat down further over his eyes.  

Curry smiled at the approaching owner, a friendly looking woman, pulling on a clean apron as she left the kitchen at the back of the room. “We’ll take a couple of house specials please, ma’am.”   He sat down opposite Haff at a table by the window, “Now isn’t this nice?” He beamed indicating the gingham clad surroundings.  

Haff sank lower in the chair dropping his chin to his chest under the enormous hat.

“So,” Curry addressed the top of the hat. “We saw Wong.  Got us a coupla barber shaves and a bath this morning. I recognised him straight off this time!”

Nothing.

Curry tried again.  “He sent you for supplies again, huh, Haff?  Hope you didn’t go get yourself hanged again?  Can’t expect me to be there every time to shoot you down.”

Haff looked up briefly to shake his head.  “Went East not South.” He offered for explanation, rubbing his neck.  Being almost hanged wasn’t something he wanted reminding of.

The cook came and placed a bowl of beef stew in front of each of them, and put a big plate of warm biscuits in the centre of the table.  “House special,” she said, “Beef stew and biscuits. We got some ice-cream made too, if you’d like some after, sonny,” she added kindly to the top of Haff’s hat.

Nothing.  

“Aw, guess he’s shy,” she smiled.

Curry looked at her quizzically, looked across at his cringing companion, and shook his head.  He leaned over and grabbed the hat, “No he ain’t shy ma’am.” Curry laughed, batting Haff with the hat.  

When the cook’s eyes fell on Haff she near screamed, caught herself and with tight lips addressed Curry, “I’ll be holding you responsible for him then.”  She flounced back to the kitchen with a huff.  

Curry watched her go.  “Sheesh” he whistled, “What did she think you were gonna do?”

Haff raised his eyes, “I didn’t have to do nothin’,” he stated simply.  

Curry looked at how miserable his friend was and felt a bit ashamed to have put him through all this.  “Eat your stew Haff.” Curry took a big mouthful and tore a biscuit in half.  “It’s good.  You know, I’m real sorry. I only brought you in here so I could find out what you and Wong were planning in Sherville.  But it don’t matter, just eat.”  Curry passed the biscuits.

Haff took a biscuit and ate some dry.

It slowly dawned on Curry that he’d never seen the diminutive partners touch meat.  This was turning into another disaster like the first time he met Haff and Wong.  He picked up the offending bowl of beef and placed it next to his own bowl.  Kid’s appetite was legendary.

“Ma’am,” he called to the kitchen “My friend doesn’t like your stew, he’ll be having eggs and beans!”

---ooooooOoooooo---

Later, back at the livery yard

Curry is helping Haff take the supplies from the mule wagon, up the back steps, to the attic above the bath house.  “Sorry,” he says for the umpteenth time.  Haff, who ate all the eggs and beans, and most of the biscuits is laughing and saying “How else was I going to get you to help me with all this?”

One of the sacks slipped in Kid’s hands, opened slightly, and he noticed the word gunpowder on a wooden box within it.  Remembering his mission, he takes a deep breath and asks Haff simply “What are you doing in this town Haff?”

Haff goes very quiet, he looks pained.  He doesn’t have a poker face; even you or I could tell he’s unwilling or unable to tell Kid the truth and is trying to make up something plausible.  

Curry sees it too.  

Not wanting to cause his friend anymore discomfit, Kid flatly asks, “Are you fixing to rob the bank?”

The Indian’s eyes go wide.  “Yes that’s it! Yes, we’re going to rob the bank.”  He grins, as if to say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’

Curry sees the lie and is more confused than ever.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Back on the main street

Hannibal Heyes is feeling pleased with his progress.  

He’d sent a telegram to Lom. *Found D Smith and M Jones in Sherville. Change of plan. W J S Rembakker.* That should let Lom know they weren’t responsible for whatever Smith and Jones had planned for the town.  

The telegraph operator had turned out to be quite a gossip.  You’d think that would be frowned upon.  As he told it, the old fella that owned the bath shop had come in to a small family legacy a couple of months back, from a relative he didn’t even know he had.  A Chinese man had turned up and said he could manage the business for a spell.  He claimed to be a bit of a healer and suggested that the old fella take his poorly wife down to Santa Marta on a holiday, for her health.  

‘So Wong had been set up at the Bath House for nearly two months.’  

The telegraph operator didn’t know either Smith or Jones, and said though he’d seen an Indian now and again, he thought they were all pretty short and couldn’t say if it was the same one each time.

Outside the bank, Heyes straightened himself up and brushed down the shoulders of his vest, the brown one with the embroidery, and his tan pants.  He was glad he’d thought to make a new hole in his belt this morning to keep them in place.  Three months working the claim had left him lean.  He checked the underside of his boots.  Pulling himself up to his full height, he entered the bank.

“Yes,” said the manager’s clerk.  “What can I do for you?”

“I’m Joshua Smith, I’ve come to reclaim the property I left with you this morning…”

Heyes saw the sceptical look on the clerk’s face.  “…in a lock box.” He added to jog the obviously slow clerk’s mind.  

The clerk looked flustered, “Urm, would you wait here a minute please Mr. Re…urm…Smith.” He disappeared into the manager’s office.  

Heyes could make out raised voices but not the words. As the door reopened Heyes caught the phrase; ‘absolutely sure!’

The Bank Manager looked Heyes up and down.

“What is your business here in my bank?” he asked briskly.  

“I’m reclaiming my property.  Property I left in a lock box with this gentleman this morning.” Heyes pointed at the clerk who was cowering behind the manager as though Heyes was pointing a six gun and holding up the bank.

“And, you say your name is?” The manager’s eyebrows were heading skywards.

Ah, Heyes is catching on. There’s just a twitch around the lips before he says, “It’s Joshua Smith.”

“No, no it isn’t, is it. It’s Rembakker.” The manager seems to have just confirmed what he had already suspected.  “This is a very small town Mr. Rembakker.  Mr. Smith left that property in the bank, in good faith that we would keep it safely for his return.  He’s not been seen around town this morning, but then he had the appearance of an outdoors man. He’s probably gone off trapping or something similar.  He was at least a hundred and eighty pounds and sported a fine full set of whiskers.”

The manager swept his hand up and down Heyes’ svelte form, “He could not have looked less like you!”

The clerk was getting up a bit of courage, “Good Day Mr. Rembakker,” he crowed.

Heyes took a couple of seconds to get a grip on this.  He was here, legally, trying to reclaim his own property and they weren’t giving it him back! The dust he and Kid had toiled to collect these last three months. In a cold isolated claim, that they’d found abandoned when they’d headed up into the hills after the last real scare.  Three months of work that was definitely hard on the back!  

Temper flashed on Heyes’ face for just a second, then a wily look came into his dark eyes.  The silver tongue was stretched.  He pulled the Bank Manager to one side.  He looked him in the eye like he was sizing him up, trying to decide whether he could be trusted.  

Letting the manager see that he’d only just measured up to Heyes’ exacting standards and been accepted as a suitable confidant; he leaned in close to the manager’s ear and said quietly, “I shouldn’t be telling you this,” pause for dramatic effect.  

“I’m an agent for the guvnor of Wyoming.  My name is Joshua Smith and I did leave important property in a lock box this morning.   I’ve been on the trail of a coupla felons for some months now, day and night. That’s why I looked so rustic this morning.  

I’ve had to have a bath and a shave at the bathhouse this morning so they don’t recognize me before I’m ready to make my move.  For the same reason I used an alias, Rembakker, when checking into the hotel this morning.  

That property I put in the lockbox is crucial evidence for the case and I sure wouldn’t want to have to report back to the Governor, that this bank, and its staff, were responsible for impeding one of his agents in the execution of his duty.”

Heyes looked the Manager in the eye to see if he’d made any impression.  

The Manager stared back at Heyes, wary.  He wasn’t entirely convinced, but he had no wish to sully the Bank’s good reputation with the Governor of Wyoming.  He sighed out a long breath.

“Mr Rembakker, or whatever name you’re currently using. I can quite believe that you switch names as often as I switch socks, but as the Manager of this bank, I am bound to uphold the standards of security demanded by our clients.  If what you say has any merit,” the Manager placed both hands on his lapels, rocking forward onto the balls of his feet to glare at Heyes, “Well then, I’m sure you will be able to explain yourself to the sheriff, and if he can back up your story, and only then, we will happily comply with any and all of the Governor’s wishes. Until then, Good Day to you Sir.”  

As far as the Manager was concerned that was an end to it. He was turning on his heels, opening his office door, when he stopped, looked back at Heyes, sighed out another deep breath and added in a more consolatory tone,

“Actually, you may have to take your case to one of the town deputies if you want it dealt with today or I’d be obliged if you could delay that trip to see the sheriff for a day or two? He’s having some personal difficulties at the moment.  It’s a really bad time for him just now. Perhaps by the end of the week his difficulties may have… resolved themselves, and he may be able to find time to see you…”  The Manager had opened his office door and was practically saying this last to himself, closing the door shaking his head.

Heyes had thought the Manager had had a change of mind, when he’d first hesitated, but this change in direction concerning the sheriff had left Heyes feeling wrong footed.  He quickly decided it would be best to go away, and take his time to consider how he could get their gold dust back before The Devils Hole Gang robbed the bank.  Maybe he should just let them get it back for him!  

“Yes, I’ll be going to see the sheriff then, and I’ll be expecting a full apology from the bank.”  He told the room in general.  The manager’s door was already closed and the Clerk had gone back to studying the ledger on his desk.
 
Heyes looked skywards, with a shrug of his shoulders, the Clerk didn’t even look up.  Exasperated, he turned on his heels and walked out through the door, slamming it behind him.  

What was he going to tell Kid?

---ooooooOoooooo---

Evening time, back in the hotel room. the boys are getting ready for their big night out on the town.

Heyes has already shared what he found out about Wong being set up at the bathhouse for a couple of months with Kid.  He hasn’t decided what to do about reclaiming their gold dust yet; whether he’s going to risk asking the Devils Hole Gang to help them get it back or even if he’s going to tell Kid he hasn’t got it back yet, so for now, he’s keeping that to himself.
 
Kid is telling Heyes about his meal with Haff.  “So, after that, I just had to give him a hand with the supplies.  He’d been East, looked like he’d wore those mules o’ his out too, and I saw one of the sacks had a box of gunpowder in in.  There weren’t so many sacks of beans this time.” Curry shook his head with a shrug.  “I didn’t find out what they’re planning, but, there is one thing I do know, they’re definitely not robbing the bank.”

“They’re not!?!”  Heyes sounds truly disappointed, he shakes his head and takes a seat. Hands scrub through his dark hair then fall to wipe his face.  He studies Curry’s face to make absolutely sure that he’s certain of this fact.  Kid nods, no doubt in his mind.

Heyes blows out his breath shaking his head, cradling his chin in his hand, he looks his younger cousin straight in the eyes and says,

“Well, I hate to break this to you Kid, but if they’re not, then we’re gonna have to.”

“Have to what Heyes?” Kid’s eyebrows are set to maximum confusion.

“We’re going to have to rob that bank!”

Heyes throws up his hands and brings them down on to the top of his head to scrub back through his hair, like he can’t believe what he’s just said.

“What!?!” Kid’s face is a picture.

Oh Heyes, …you’ve got some explaining to do.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Later that evening,
A noisy, busy saloon, full of music, lovely girls and a few poker tables. Strange twirling gambling machines…you know the stock footage I’m talking about.  (This, of course, would be after some upstairs action, don’t blame me, I can’t write that stuff, just keep in mind that they’d been on that claim for three months!)

We join our boys enjoying their big night out on the town. They’ve already had quite a lot to drink.  Heyes has managed to double their diminishing cash reserve in a low stakes poker game, and has got bored with it.  He joins Curry at the bar.  Kid is buying two bottles of the good stuff, to take out.

“Where’re you off to Kid?” Heyes smiles, eyeing the lovely lady draped on Kid’s arm.  

“Oh, good night darling,” Kid smiles, kissing said lovely strumpet on the cheek.  “I’m going to find Haff.  He says he can’t drink in here.  He says, they see him.”  Kid makes a ‘no, I don’t understand that either’ face.  “Don’t mean he don’t need a drink though does it? Look, I got the good stuff!” He holds the bottles up for Heyes to see the labels.

Heyes’ whole head moves with the proffered bottles, like a kitten watching a ball of wool.
“Good idea!” He gives us the full dimpled smile of glee.

“I think I’ll come with you.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

Later still, in the store attic over the bathhouse which Heyes and Kid have had to get to by climbing the back steps from the livery yard and when you’ve had as much to drink as these two, two stories of wooden steps is quite an achievement.

There is no furniture in the attic.

Kid, Heyes, Kyle, Haff and Wong are all sitting on sacks and boxes under the low shingles, wrapped in blankets, passing two bottles of the good stuff and several more bottles of Wong’s rice wine round, whilst telling each other silly stories, and jokes and playing daft drinking games.  You wouldn’t be able to follow much though, because most of it was just laughing and snorted giggles which you can only truly appreciate when you’ve also been partaking of the good stuff.

It’s a game.  Heyes is trying to keep a poker face, staring nose to nose with his cousin, who’s been laughing so much he’s got tears in his eyes. “See Haff,” Kid’s explaining the rules, “I got to say something te Heyes, an he got te keep a poker face …no matter what I say” More laughing. Kid gets himself ready. Wait for it. He’s trying really hard. Snirt!

Kid puts his face straight with a huge effort but, there’s still a touch of laughter round his eyes.  “OK, Heyes, when we pulled the Hantson job, an you was doing the safe… I fell asleep…”

The boys stare at each other waiting for one to crack.  Heyes’ face is stone.  Kid is cracking…. cracking…. Cracked! Mad laughter bursts round the room.  Lots of slapping and rolling round and more drinking.

Haff’s turn. “This’ll help you be a real good liar.” Kid tells him, like that’s a good thing.  Haff, also with tears in his eyes, fights a fit of giggles to get nose to nose with Kid and find his inscrutable Indian face.

“Right. Say something you think will shock me, an I’ll show you how it’s done,” instructs Kid.  “And don’t say you’re wanted fer murder in Mexico ‘cause I know that already.”  

Wong is rather taken aback by the revelation that Haff has shared this gem with Heyes and Curry and shoots Haff a look; I wouldn’t want to be that Indian tomorrow morning.

The gunslinger concentrates hard and finds sort of ‘the glare’.   Silence, almost. Sniggering.  They’re really giving this their fullest attention.  

Haff’s face shows us he’s thinking hard, inebriated as he is.  There’s a ‘got it’ glint in his eye.

“Curry,” a big breath, “When you were in the cave house, after you got shot, you kept calling me, ...Michelle…” Snirts all round but Curry is holding it together.

Haff throws caution to the wind “…And you tried to kiss me!”

Kid explodes with laughter, they all slap Haff on the back and scream in fits and snirts, they dissolve into silly giggles and schoolboy sniggers.  

“Not fair. Not fair,” protests Kid holding his sides. “It’s gotta be true!”  

The look Haff gives Wong makes Heyes explode with laughter and sets them all off again.

Heyes sends the bottle round again, “Did you really fall asleep Kid, when I was working on that Brooker 202?”   Kid can’t talk, but he nods vigorously.  “Well you better stay awake when we rob the bank tomorrow.”  Heyes laughs, slapping his cousin’s head.  

Kyle fights for control and manages “You and the Kid back in business, Heyes?”

Heyes grins maniacally and goes into top story telling mode, complete with actions, using Haff’s hair to make himself a beard as he regales the boys with the tale of his visit to the bank and the hundred and eighty-pound bear of an outdoorsman named Joshua Smith.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Next morning…late morning that is.

The attic inhabitants empty out into the livery yard, nursing heads, and taking several steps at a time, Kid, Kyle and Heyes squint at the sun as if it only exists to torture them.  

Haff hails them, grinning from the other side of the yard looking fresh as a daisy.  

Heyes, squinting up his eyes, looks about and spots the two deputies heading their way.  He nods to Kid.  They grab one of Kyle’s arms each, push the little outlaw’s hat down over his eyes, and quickly make their way past the two lawmen and up the main street to the hotel, taking what appears to be their near unconscious friend with them.  

“Thanks,” grins Kyle rubbing his forehead.  “I’d better get me some more rest ‘cause I gotta do a job fer Wheat later, and I gotta do it right.  Didn’t want them two to see me just yet.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

Back in the boy’s hotel room.
Afternoon.

“You got any idea what they’re here for Heyes?” Kid is shaking his sore head in his hands, very slowly.  

Heyes looks ‘thoughtful’ as though he’s about to explain it all to his younger cousin, though I guess it could just be ‘pain’.  Then he shakes his head, wishes he hadn’t, and admits, “Not a clue.” He looks like he can’t believe this himself.  “Never mind, Kid.  We’ll pick up our dust tonight and light outta here.  We’ll head on up to Denver.”  

Kid nods slowly, laying back on the bed with a groan, needing a bit more shut eye.

Heyes goes on more to himself than to Curry, “And, Wong was being real friendly last night.  Even said he’d lend us a bar spreader for tonight.”  He mimics Wong’s voice, wagging his head back and forth. “Just leave it in th’ alley an’ Haff will collec’ it later.”

Heyes shakes his head ruefully.  He may have got Kid convinced it doesn’t matter that they’re clueless why half the Devil’s Hole gang is in Sherville, but curiosity is eating into Heyes.  He lays back on the second bed.  

His eyes don’t close.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Early that evening

Heyes and Kid have got everything packed.  I’m not going to even mention ‘the saddlebags of infinite capacity’. They’ve told the hotel that they intend to make a very early start in the morning, so have settled their bill.  A commotion in the street below takes them both to the window of their room.

“What is he up to now?” Heyes wonders, as he twitches the curtain aside.  

Kyle is mounted on his mare, in the middle of the street.

Wong runs out of the Bath House shouting about someone trying to rob his place.  

Kyle kicks his horse to the gallop.  

The deputies run for their horses as Kyle raises dust, galloping his little mare out of town.  

“They were awful close.” Curry is shaking his head looking down into the street. “I hope Kyle knows what he’s doing.  She’s a real fine mare, but she’s gonna have to go some if Kyle’s going to get away from them deputies.”

“Well he’s doing us a favour if he keeps those deputies tied up on a wild goose chase for a while; it’ll make cracking the bank a lot safer,” Heyes says, looking puzzled, also staring at the dust cloud on the street.  “You don’t think they’re trying to help us do you?” Heyes looks incredulous.

“Nah!” Curry doesn’t look entirely convinced though.  He’s been thinking, “We haven’t actually seen the sheriff, Heyes. Have we?”

Heyes shakes his head, then remembers the bank manager’s words, “Oh that’s right, the banker said the sheriff’s got troubles of his own keeping him outta town.”

“Well it’s nothing to do with us, don’t need to cause him any more trouble.  We’ll just break into the bank, all nice and peaceable, collect our dust and get on our way up to Denver,” nods Curry, like he’s just suggested they attend the church picnic.

---ooooooOoooooo---

After dark in the bank, lit by a single shuttered lamp.

“Here you go Mr. Bank Manager, don’t think old Joshua Smith’s going to be too pleased to find you been holding a brick for him in your lockbox.” Heyes drops the brick into the now empty metal box, gets it locked and replaces it in the bank clerk’s safe, sending the dial spinning.  

The boys take a few moments to heft their gold dust in their hands with glee.

“I’m going to guard this with my life. Like I said, only safe place for this is with an outlaw.” Curry smirked, threading himself back through the distorted bars outside the window.  He stood facing Heyes as he too snaked through the bars.  

Behind Kid, Heyes got a glimpse of someone just pulling themselves out of sight.  “Kid,” he said, “I think we’ve had company.  Something doesn’t smell right.  You know, no one’s going to be looking for bank robbers till they discover these bars, right? Even then they won’t find anything missing.  Let’s just go see who’s being so nosey about us making an unscheduled withdrawal.”

Heyes and Kid keep to shadows and see two small mule riders leaving town at quite a pace.  Heyes jerks his head back to their own horses and without words, the partners agree to trail Haff and Wong.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Half hour up the trail out of town, a small house set by the trail in some scrubby woodland.

The boys stay back and out of sight as they watch the diminutive partners having a brief conversation. They’ve come to a halt just down the road from the house. Haff quietly walks his mule into the trees on the far side of the house and disappears from view. Wong then kicks his mule to a fast trot, heading straight for the house, and starts shouting for the sheriff.  He jumps off the mule and starts banging on the door of the house.

“Sheriff, sheriff come quickly! The bank’s being robbed!”

Heyes and Curry stare at each other incredulous.

A tall man, silhouetted in the door frame answers Wong’s insistent banging.  The boys can’t make out the words, but it’s obvious the sheriff is very reluctant to leave the house.  They suppose that when the sheriff learns that his deputies are in pursuit of a known outlaw, and that he’s the only one left to deal with a break in at the bank, he reluctantly saddles his horse and sets out.  The boys fade back into shadow as he passes them.  

Kid starts to move towards the trail, jaw set to go confront Wong, but Heyes holds him back, shaking his head indicating that he’d rather just watch the play.

Wong goes straight into the house with a bag he’s taken from his mule.  

Haff guides a tall, mustachioed man out of the trees and into the house. The door closes for a little while. Then Haff reappears and seems to be standing on watch at the front of the house.

“I was wondering where Wheat was?” says Curry quietly.  “What are they up to at the sheriff’s house Heyes?”

Heyes has seen Wheat too, got a real good look at the tall outlaw’s face.  “I think I can guess Kid.  You go back up the trail aways and keep watch.  If you see that sheriff coming back, you make sure the folks up at the house get fair warning and time to clear out.”  Heyes voice is flat, almost sad, like he’s carrying around a lot of bad news.  He puts a hand on his younger cousin’s shoulder and pushes him back towards the horses. He conveys, ‘don’t worry I’ll explain it all to you later’ with his eyes.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Heyes peeks in at the door of the house:  He’s quietly greeted Haff, and Haff, seeing in his face and demeanor that Heyes has caught the mood, has let him pass.  

Wheat and Wong are at the bed side of a dying woman.  To Heyes, her family resemblance to Wheat is uncanny.  

Wong is giving something to Wheat in a china cup.

Wheat helps, what surely must be his sister, to drink.  

Heyes catches the glint of tears in the big outlaw’s eyes and withdraws to the porch closing the door very quietly.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Barely more than an hour later back up the trail towards town, but still within hearing distance of the house.

Kid hears approaching hoof beats, and recognising the sheriff by his badge, he pulls his horse out onto the trail and shouts, “Sheriff, Sheriff, rustlers—over at the …” He waves his arm westwards feigning exhaustion.  

The sheriff pulls up as he can’t really get past Curry without leaving the trail.  “What?” he shouts, “Tell Sam I’ll send a deputy in the morning, now if you don’t mind, I need to get back to my wife!”  He’s understandably very put out.  

Curry moves aside hoping he’s given sufficient warning to clear the house up ahead.  

When the sheriff is out of sight, Curry follows slowly back up the trail towards the house.  There’s no sign of the sheriff but his horse stands at the rail by the door.  Curry moves on past the house for a short time till he hears a call from Haff.  

“Kid, this way.”

---ooooooOoooooo---

Wheat, Heyes and Wong are seated around a small campfire in a well-trampled clearing.  Wheat has a calm quiet demeanor. No one’s talking.  Curry and Haff join the circle and help themselves to coffee.  

Heyes looks up at Kid, blows out his cheeks and quietly he explains, “Wheat’s sister has been gravely ill for months.  She’s near gone. The old doctor round here…well,” he shakes his head. “Wong here’s been doing what he can, easing her pain, making it easier for her to bare.”

Wheat’s head has dropped.

Kid feels he should say something. “I’m sorry to hear that, Wheat, I didn’t even know you had kin.” Curry shakes his head not sure if he’s said the right thing; he doesn’t want to say any more.  

Wheat looks over at him and nearly smiles.  “She weren’t much more than a baby when I left Kid, but I left her with…” he coughed away a croak in his voice, shaking his head.  That was for another time.  “Well, she had a fine husband.” A pause, “He didn’t… take to me much of course.” He kind of smiled again but couldn’t say any more either.

“She has made a very brave, and courageous journey through illness Wheat, and she will be at peace before this night is through,” Wong comforted. “No more pain.”

“Apache people say death is a freedom.” Haff’s voice is firm and hopeful. “To be granted it, is lucky.  She will join your ancestors now and roam with them in the Land of Ever Summer.” His eyes shine.

Heyes has nothing to say but he puts an arm across Wheat’s big shoulders.

They all sit there and stare into the fire for a while longer.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Back on the trail; several days of camping in the woods later.

“I knew Kyle had family, but I never figured Wheat to hold family close like that,” said Kid.  

He was glad to be back on his horse and travelling again.  They’d stayed just outside of town, until they could pay their respects at the graveside with Wheat, Haff and Wong.  Of course that was after all the official mourners had left.  Heyes even said a few words, which earned him a thank-you from Wheat.  

But, now they were on their way again.

“Well wasn’t much talk of family up at Devil’s Hole, was there Kid?” It was a rhetorical question.  Heyes thought some more, “I guess if you have a decent family you don’t turn outlaw.” He stated simply.

“Unless you lose your folks young like we did,” qualified Curry.

They travelled on without talking for some time, lost in their own thoughts.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Sensing it was time to lighten the mood, Heyes turned to Kid with some devilment in his dark eyes and said, “You know, there’s still one question bugging me about all this.” He let the fishing hook dangle.

“Huh?” Kid looked up, big blue eyes guileless. “Yes, I been thinking about that too.  What did they need the gunpowder for?”

Heyes screwed up his face with chagrin, that wasn’t the response he was hoping for.  That was, however, a very good question.  One he’d asked Wong about.  Well at least he could look clever.

“No, that’s not what I was wondering about, but the answer to that one’s easy.  They use gun powder to brew up medicines in China. Well known fact.”  

Kid’s eyebrows raised with a ‘I did not know that’ nod.  

Heyes threw the bait a second time. “No, what I was wondering was, why were you trying to kiss the lovely American French chanteuse, Michelle Monet?”

“I wasn’t trying to kiss Michelle Monet,” stormed Kid, “it was just Haff!”

Oh, Heyes is beside himself with glee. He’s just letting this hang in the air till Kid realises what he’s just said.  

           Wait for it…

“Well, ‘course—not Haff,” Curry looked like he has a bad taste in his mouth. “No!  I thought he was,” Curry looked to Heyes for a bit of understanding. “That doesn’t mean I’m still hankering after Michelle Monet.”  

Heyes set his features to ‘you don’t say’.

Kid searched for justification,

“I was drugged!” he snarled.

---ooooooOoooooo---

Several hours later …Heyes, you’re wicked.

“Of course that’s one good looking Indian.” Heyes is muttering with a silly smile on his face.  

Kid is reaching the end of his patience, he can’t take much more of this, he’s let the black gelding fall back a bit but he can still hear his dimpled tormentor.

“Give it a rest Heyes or I’m coming over there, and I’m going to flatten you!”

Heyesian chuckling.


The End


Last edited by Cal on Sat 21 May 2016, 12:49 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Barber of Sherville (The Fifth Haff and Wong Tale) ... 8,200 words :: Comments

Fun tale with a sad part to it. Enjoyed reading! study
 

Barber of Sherville (The Fifth Haff and Wong Tale) ... 8,200 words

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