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 What a Man's Gotta Do (A Fair Day's Work) ... 7,200 words

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Cal

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Posts : 89
Join date : 2015-11-11

20160228
PostWhat a Man's Gotta Do (A Fair Day's Work) ... 7,200 words

This is the full version of a tale I wrote for February 2016 challenge A Fair Days Work, it fills out the details and takes the story on to Kid's challenging day's work.  It isn't however the end of the story.  This tale shows how Heyes needs a plan to get even...that part of the tale is taken up by C D Roberts and can be found here: Grift Graft. study
---oooOooo---

What a Man's Gotta Do
(A Fair Days Work)
By Cal

---oooOOOooo---

“Mornin’ Mam.” Kid tipped his hat to the lady as she exited the mercantile.  He stepped aside to make room for her to pass.  In return, he got a warm smile and an approving nod for his manners.  “This sure is a nice friendly town Heyes.  A man could feel right at home here.”  He smiled over to his cousin, “Why don’t we telegraph Lom and tell him we’ll be staying for a while.”

Heyes looked up and down the street; took in the three saloons, a couple of hotels, one of which was large and quite swanky looking, and the complete lack of a jailhouse and agreed, “Yep.  It’s our kind of town alright; plenty of miners’ eager to be parted from their money, plenty of watering holes and no sheriff’s office.”  

At that moment a private stage swept the length of the street full of brightly feathered lovelies calling out to the passers-by that they were real friendly sorts.  The two handsome partners were singled out for particular attention, as they watched the stages passage appreciatively.  One of the ‘ladies’ leaned out of the stage and tossed a feather boa at Heyes teasing how she must have dropped it.

“This place sure is beautiful ain’t it?” whistled Kid as he watched the ladies disembarking from the stage to fall into the Silver Palace saloon in a waft of feathery giggles. Heyes, wearing the feather boa, is mesmerised by ample curves and swinging hips and doesn’t feel the need to answer.

The boys soon make themselves at home in the bustling little town.  They have a comfortable room, second floor overlooking the street, they have a restaurant which serves good food and they have a veranda to sit out front of their hotel to smoke, digest their food and observe the World as it passes.

Heyes and Kid quickly fall into a routine of quiet days and busy nights.  

Heyes tries not to be too successful at any one of the many poker tables available to him, and tries his luck at different establishments throughout the week.  He’s pleased with his progress.  

Kid has other delights to occupy him, not only has The Silver Palace been blessed with a new crop of delightful company but The Stags Rest and The Gold Dollar are equal to the competition.  He still manages to fit in some gambling of course.  Towards the end of the week a particularly beautiful red-head called Joan has caught his eye and they’ve been spending an awful lot of time together.

The smiles on their faces show us that they’ve definitely been winning more than they’ve been losing and having a fine time doing it.  In fact, Heyes has attracted notice.  Three gentlemen dressed in quite sharp suits, definitely Eastern cut, have developed a particular interest in Heyes.

One of these gentlemen wears a well-used and no doubt well balanced, tied down Peacemaker slung low on his hip. Staying in the shadows he watches Heyes that night as he crosses the street between saloons.  “I think it’s time we reeled in our fish.  He must be packing a sizable wad of cash by now, and Joan’s got that gun he’s hired to watch his back real distracted.”

“I’ve been watching him close,” adds Crimps, the mechanic at his side. “He’s been real clever, rotating tables like that, never making anyone nervous by winning too big at any one table.  I don’t even think he’s cheatin’!”

“Well that’s good, cause when they’re playing a fair game they don’t suspect that their not in an honest game.”  The third gentleman watched as Heyes disappeared through the batwings.  Marsden was the brains behind the ring.   He said who the mark was and he said when they’d stayed long enough in a town.  He turned to look at his companions.  “We’ll get that idiot Hacker to invite him to Saturdays game.  He’s the only mark worth taking in this town.  We’ll work him Saturday then head straight out.  By the time he’s worked it out and set his hired gun to find us, we’ll be long gone. We head on South.”

“Ain’t we heading back East?” Crimps whined.  Crimps was a man of refined tastes and was missing a few creature comforts like indoor plumbing and theatres.  

“Not until the heat dies down. It’s too soon to risk yet.” Marsden fixed Bowyer with a glare.  Bowyer had lost his temper.  Got a little too enthusiastic persuading a mark that they really shouldn’t go to the law for redress.  Bowyer had gone over the line.

Bowyer picked at the front of his vest and looked back across the now empty street.  He’d learned to trust Marsden’s judgement; he could stand a little glaring.

---oooOOOooo---

Later that night

Heyes thought he’d made quite enough for one night and was ready for his bed, well, ready for bed at least.  Pictures of an orange feather boa danced in his head.  As he stood to make his apologies for taking more cash away than he’d arrived with, the well-dressed man to his left also stood and offered to buy him a drink.  As most of Heyes’ new wealth came from this unfortunate it seemed rude not to accept.

Jim Hacker introduced himself as the proprietor of the big swanky hotel across the street called the Eldorado.  Heyes thought he was also the owner of a bad gambling habit with not a lot of skill to back it up.  Hacker flattered Heyes with his successes at the tables, said he’d noticed Heyes through the week and wondered if a higher stakes game would prove more stimulating for such an accomplished player.  Heyes thought if this fellow’s friends wanted to play for higher stakes and they were all as rank amateur as the man stood in front of him, he couldn’t lose.

With full dimpled smile he nods his assent.

---oooOOOooo---

“This town just got a whole lot more interestin’ Kid.” Heyes is telling Curry over breakfast the next morning.  “I got me an invite Saturday night, to The Eldorado over there.”  He waves across the street to the three storied elegance of the swanky hotel with a satisfied smile.  “Seems that’s where the big boys play their cards for high stakes and they want little ol’ me to join ‘em.”  He beams.  

“Saturday night?” Curry don’t look that impressed or enthusiastic.  “Do you need me there to watch your back?” he asks a little sheepishly.  Something tells me there’s something, or should that be someone, he’d rather be doing Saturday night.  

Heyes sees it too and shakes his head grinning ruefully.  “No Kid, It’s just a couple of hotel and ranch owners, maybe a banker, you know the sort. Just a friendly game with lots of money, I think I can manage this once.”
Kid smiles.  Oh yes, he’s made plans.

---oooOOOooo---

Saturday night

Heyes introduces himself to the other players.  Apart from Jim Hacker, no one uses their real names, no one is telling the truth about their life or work and no one is in the least bit bothered to pay attention to anyone else’s story, only to the size of their bill folds.  Heyes makes a particular note of Bowyer’s well used, tied down gun.  He suspects having Kid with him would have been a shrewder move.

Pleasantries over, we can cut to the table, amply supplied with drinks and cigars, later that same evening.

The five men study their cards, the game is well underway.  Heyes is winning some pots but loosing others he thinks he should have won.  Jim Hacker is not a very good player but seems to be holding himself even, maybe even ahead by the amount of the fee he’s negotiated himself with the Marsden ring perhaps.  

Heyes isn’t happy but of course this doesn’t show on his legendary poker face.  

He suspects that one of his fellow players is cheating and starts looking for signs.  As the pots get bigger he loses more often.  He knows there’s a problem with the deck because cards, he knows can’t come up again yet, are turning up in other player’s hands as they need them.  Trouble is none of his opponents are consistently being favoured by this ill deal, so he can’t settle on who is cheating.  

He remembers the tied down gun on Bowyer’s hip and doesn’t like the odds of calling anyone to account.  We see just the slightest sheen of sweat above the dark eyes.

As his funds diminish he concentrates on not losing too heavily, but like the gambler he is, he feels that his luck may return if he stays for just another hand.  He only has a limited success at this and by the early hours of the morning, as he returns to their room in one of the less swanky hotels, he is feeling fleeced but still unable to decide how it’s been done, or by whom.

---oooOOOooo---

Sunday morning…early

Curry wasn’t in their hotel room either.  He was in a small room, bedecked with silk dresses and feather boas, of a side street boarding house, in the arms of Morpheus, with a beautiful red head called Joan.  

He awoke with the first rays of sun through the lace curtains at the small window.  Joan stirred and cuddled in.  Then her eyes flew open and holding back a giggle she slapped Kid’s shoulder her eyes saying ‘that was all your fault’.  “Jones…if she finds you in here I’ll get fined or worse…” she hisses.  “Git, git now!  But I’ll see you again tonight won’t I?”

Joan gives him the coy smile that got him into her bed yesterday. This was the easiest fifty dollars she had ever earned.  When that dude had paid her to keep a hired gun off the street and occupied yesterday, she thought he must look like the back end of a horse…but Jones…was very easy on the eyes.  She was quite happy to do the same today, for free.

Kid is smirking, she’s giving him the come on whilst kicking him out of bed.  He climbs out of bed to pull on his clothes, takes the gun in its holster from the bedpost and buckles it on and ties it down.  He gives Joan a lingering goodbye kiss and we see him disappearing out of the window.  

Popping his head back in for another kiss.  Ground floor then huh Kid? Joan plonks the floppy brown hat down on top of the curls and gives him a little push back through the window, finger to her lips, begging him to keep it quiet.

Kid, complete with satisfied smile, strides to the main street.  He looks up at their hotel room window from below and stops to consider.  If he goes up now he’s sure to wake Heyes, who probably played cards till the small hours.  His hands fall to the gun at his side, his eyes look to the livery.  He decides Sunday morning is absolutely the best time to go practice his fast draw and accuracy, as long as he doesn’t wake anyone up that is.  Somewhere out of town then.  

He strides to the livery to saddle up his big black gelding, whistling.  

On the other side of the livery barn, Flat-nose Walters was just stretching himself awake in the hay loft.  He didn’t see why he should waste his hard earned money on a hotel room when all this lovely soft hay was here for him to sleep in. He heard tuneless whistling from below.  He glanced down at the blond cowboy clucking at his horse as he saddled it, and froze, ducking to keep out of sight.  

As Curry mounts up and heads off, Walters stands just inside the barn door, one hand on his back the other scratching through his long black hair.

“Well I’ll be!” He says.

---oooOOOooo---

An hours ride out of town

Kid has found a gully, not too deep, surrounded with trees that should kill some of the sound.  He’s come off the main trail for the last half hour and is sure he won’t be disturbed.  

He’s set up pine cones on a log.  The Colt in his holster, always clean and oiled, has been inspected, adjusted and filled with bullets.  He decides another pace back is called for and makes it.  Then he’s still, almost meditative.  The draw is swift, the pine cones fly.  Kid’s face twitches, a small head shake and a twist of the lips, he could have done better.  

Kid finds more pine cones and sets them up again.  He adds six more bullets to the chamber and makes the slightest of adjustments to the balance.  He takes the same position as before. Breathing slow and light.  Eyes open and focussed. This time the draw is a blur the pine cones dust.

“Sheesh!” came an appreciative whistle from behind Kid.  

Kid spun round pointing the now empty Colt at Flat-Nose Walters.  

Flat-nose put his hands up with a wary grin, shaking his long straggly black hair, “I think you’re even faster now Curry than you were that time you came by the Roost.  That was a privilege to watch.  You know you’re supposed to slow down with age don’t you.  Guess they don’t call you Kid just fer the way you look huh!”  

Kid flicked the chamber open and began filling it with bullets from his gun belt, never taking his eyes off Walters.  “As I remember it, you weren’t so bad yourself Walters.  You’re a long way from the Roost.  You out here looking for something?” Kid sounds wary but he’s certainly feeling better now his Colt is full of bullets and back in its holster.  

Flat-nose shook his head, “Saw you saddling your horse at the livery this morning, couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  You’re a long way from the Hole too.  Well, I thought, what’s Kid Curry doing in this neck of the woods, so I followed…” Curry looked sceptical.  

“OK,” another grin that didn’t reach Flat-noses eyes.  “I waited for your first shots and came to find you.  Wondered what you were doing here?”

“Practicing.” Curry waved unnecessarily towards the log.  

“No, I mean round here.  Why you here?” Flat-nose also waved about him unnecessarily.  

“Nice quiet spot” opined the Kid flatly.  

Flat-nose took a deep breath and decided to be frank.  He asked “Are you here piping a job Curry, like maybe a nice lucrative payroll heist?”

Kid looked at Walters.  He looked older but still wore his gun low and tied down.  When he’d run with the Rooster outfit he had had quite a reputation as a fast gun, but they’d heard he’d left the gang sometime back, got a girl, and was out of the game.  

Curry suspected maybe old Flat-nose had joined a new gang, one that was planning a payroll heist here abouts, and here he was trying to warn him and Heyes off.  

Curry didn’t like others deciding what he should or shouldn’t do, even if he wasn’t intending to do anything.  He squared up to Flat-nose, thumbs resting on his gun belt.  Flat-nose twitched around the eyes.  

“Walters,” drawled Curry “I’m outta that game now.  I’m not here looking for any trouble but if…”

Walters let out the breath he’d been holding and smiled a real smile that set a twinkle in his dark eyes.  “That’s what I’d heard Kid, but I had to be sure.  You still run with Hannibal Heyes?”

This suddenly friendly turn confused Kid for a minute, he felt wrong footed, he didn’t have cause to suspect Walters of wishing him or Heyes harm, but he didn’t have cause to trust him either.  He wasn’t going to admit that Heyes was around, “No we split up when we decided to get out of the business.  Made sense.  We’re less easy to spot that way” he lied easily.

Walters nodded.  “It’s just I saw your horse with that chestnut mare, I thought it might have been Heyes’.”

“Oh, no.” Curry thought quickly. “That belongs to this gambler I’m working for; seems to think he needs protection.  He’s been winning all over town this week.”

Flat-nose scratched his head, “He that dark fella, ‘bout this tall, wears a scruffy black hat with fancy silver Conchos”

Curry nodded, “Yeah, that’s him.”  

“Well if he’s your employer Kid, you got problems.” Flat-nose shook his head and looked really sorry for this.  “I saw him headed over to that big swanky hotel last night with them three card sharps, I don’t think he’ll have a dime on him this morning, I sure hope he paid you in advance.”

“Card sharps?!” Alarm bells were ringing for Curry.  

“Yeah, Marsden’s crew.” Flat-nose looked in awe.  “Ol’ Crimps, well he’s one of the best mechanics in the business and I wouldn’t want to go up against Bowyer, well not now at least, I’m not that fast anymore.”

Curry had heard of Bowyer, if Heyes had called out a cheat…  Flat-nose watched the worry grow on Kid’s face and assumed it was for the loss of his earnings.  

“Well I just might have the answer for you Kid” he smiled helpfully, patting Kid on the shoulder.

“Huh?” Kid is confused again, he’s not really listening, he’s imagining Heyes slumped in an alley, full of lead.  

“Well, I came East on my own to get us a nest egg.” Walters thinks Kid must be real upset about not getting paid.  “I’m married now to the prettiest woman on God’s Earth.”

Walters stopped for the congratulations he expected to get from Kid, what he got was another “Huh?”  Kid was getting his things together quickly, to leave.

Walters felt Kid had taken this set back in his finances real bad, he’d better be clearer if he was to get the fastest gun in the West on the pay roll with him.  

“I got a real well paid job Kid. $500 a day, and there’s room for another man on the deal, if’n he’s the right man, and your what I call the right man.”

He slapped Kid on the back, eyebrows raised in question.

Kid was gathering his reins.  He looked up at Walters and, seeing the question on his face, asked “What?”  Kid was mounting, his horse already moving.  Walters scrambled for his horse and booted him on to catch up to Curry.

“Payroll guards for the mines Kid.  They pay $500 a day.” Flat-nose practically shouted this at Curry’s back.

Curry turned in his saddle, he studied Walters again.  He didn’t look that desperate.  “Flat-nose, that’s suicide.  You know, you can’t spend the money if you’re dead.”  

Walters looked down at his hands on the reins, “Well, she’s pregnant, and there ain’t too many high paying jobs for ex-outlaws Kid.  You’re gonna find that out.  And soon. It ain’t easy going straight.” He looked up into two very understanding blue eyes.  

“I think she’d rather have you alive than dead.” Kid stated simply.

Flat-nose shook his head again still addressing his own hands. “Oh, she doesn’t know how I’m getting the money.  I just said I had a chance at some well-paid work that was worth being away a coupla months fer.”

He didn’t really want to dwell on how he was planning on earning it himself either, but if he could have another man to watch his back, another man as good with a gun as Kid Curry … “If you’d join up too Kid, there’s not a gang round here would dare go up against us for that pay roll…”

“I can’t take a job as Kid Curry Flat-nose, my names Jones now,” Kid shook his head in disbelief, Flat-nose must be desperate.  “No one would know I was me…Jones wouldn’t be much of a deterrent now would he, besides, I got me a lot of livin’ to do yet.”  

Kid kicked his horse on towards town.  Flat-nose held back, he was going to need to get some practice in himself.

“If you change your mind we ain’t leaving till first light.  You can find me at the livery” he called to Curry’s receding back.

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes was pacing.  

The only explanation that made any sense was that they’d all been in on it, even that idiot Hacker.  That would mean a ring.  Would a ring be working the backwaters of the mining district like this?  Why not? Hadn’t he and the Kid said themselves what a nice quiet spot this was; miners ripe for plucking and no law.  If he, Hannibal Heyes, hadn’t been able to spot the tricks and passes they used then they must have been the best.  The best.

Silky said the best ring was led by a fella called Jim Marsden, which would make those other two guys Bowyer and Crimps.  Could he have just been turned over by the Marsden ring? Crimps himself!   The best mechanic in the business.  

Part of Heyes was in awe of the rings reputation, part of him was mad as hell and sore for his losses.  The pacing continued…

---oooOOOooo---

Curry pulled his horse to a skidding stop outside their hotel.  He took the stairs two at a time, but as he strode up the corridor to their room doubt set in.  He paused with his hand on the door handle. Hesitated, there was a good chance absolutely nothing was wrong.  His cousin was real smart.

Curry listened outside the door, if he heard Heyes safely snoring and asleep he’d go get himself breakfast.  What he heard from inside the room made his eyes roll.  Pacing and mumbling.  Heyes probably hadn’t slept a wink.  He opened the door to see his partner’s drawn face.

Heyes scrubbed fingers through his long dark hair as he paced.  His eyes locked onto Kids, he’d missed having his sounding board to help work out his problems.

“Kid,” Heyes pulled Curry into the room, “You’re not going to believe this but…”

“You’ve been turned over by the Marsden ring” stated Curry matter of factly.

“Yes! Yes? How did you know that?” Heyes eyes are wide, his hands shoot up in the air “I’ve only just worked it out myself, and I was there!” Heyes looked at Curry incredulously, his hands go to his hips, and he glares at Kid like it’s all his fault.

“Did you ever meet Flat-nose Walters from the Roosters?” Curry asked.

Heyes shakes his head, he wants to know what the Sam Hill that has to do with anything, he sends his cousin an exasperated look.  He hasn’t had any sleep remember. He shakes his head again to move this along, “I’ve heard of him, never met him, thought he’d left the business.”

“Yeah he has.” Curry nods.   “Got a girl too, got married. Oh, and she’s pregnant.” Curry wants to prove he’s been listening.  

Heyes looks fit to blow, “I got turned over by the Marsden ring, they’ve got all our money…I don’t want to hear the parish news Kid!”

Pacing resumes.  

Curry watches.  

“Well Flat-nose is here,” explains the calm one. “He saw you going into the Hotel last night with Marsden, Bowyer and Crimps, so he told me you’d be flat broke this morning.  He thinks you’re my employer, just some gambler I hooked up with.  I told him you an’ me had split up when we decided to go straight.”

“Well gee Kid…thanks for the warning” Heyes looks anything but grateful, “…but I’d like to point out…YOU’RE A LITTLE LATE!”  

Come on now Heyes, you lost the money, you shouldn’t be taking it out on the Kid.  

Kid agrees with us, but he didn’t move a muscle, dealing with Heyes’ temper was second nature to him.  “What do you want to do about it Heyes?” he asked quietly.  

More pacing, more hair scrubbing.  

Heyes talks to himself, “I don’t know…I don’t know…The Marsden ring can’t be beat.  They’re the best in the business.  Absolutely the best there is at their game…Wait a minute…they’re the best at their own game…Can’t be beat at their own game…” Heyes’ eyes narrow.

Anyone else hearing a Hannibal Heyes plan springing to life…

---oooOOOooo---

“Because we need the money!” shouts Kid. Sheesh, he hadn’t expected to be arguing for the near suicidal job of body guarding the mines payroll, but here he was.  

“That’s not a job Kid, that’s a death sentence.”  Heyes is feeling exhausted.  “Every gang for miles around knows this is the last bank before the mines.  They will have seen the strong box being taken to the bank in broad daylight yesterday, so it don’t take a genius to know it’s got to be taken North to pay the miners sometime this week.  All they got to do is watch and wait.”

Kids eyes narrow, ‘yeah, they’d have to be in town to pipe the job’ he thought.

“It’s $500 a day, and we’re flat broke…” Kid lets this hit home. “You haven’t stopped thinking about the Mardens rolling you and I don’t think you’re getting our money back without a stake.  I reckon $500 a day is real good pay for a fair day’s work.  Works not that easy to come by for us ex-outlaws remember, and Flat-nose was a pretty good with that gun of his when I was up at the Roost that time.  Maybe with the two of us…”

Curry hasn’t even convinced himself yet.  

“You’re gonna get your head blowed off!” Heyes looks frantic. “So I won’t even see the money less you ask for it in advance…” Heyes stops under a Curry glare.

“It’s half in advance, and I’m leaving at daybreak.”  

Kid wants Heyes to stop worrying but knows that’s a lame hope.  Maybe he can give him something else to think about.  “If you want to help me stay alive on that run to the mine then there’s something you can do for me…”

---oooOOOooo---

Not high noon…but wouldn’t that have been fantastic.

“Jones” calls Heyes, standing in the middle of the street, “You know what I’ve come for!”

Kid stops, standing stock still on the boardwalk, “I’ve told you before Smith, I don’t settle my battles on the street where everyone can gawp.  You got something to say to me, let’s take this inside.”

“Oh, you’d like that Jones. Think you can get the drop on me huh…No, here’s just fine by me.  We’re gonna settle this here and now, just the two of us.”  

Quite a crowd had formed.

“Mister you don’t want to go up against…” Flat-nose had joined the crowd “…Him.  Really Mister you should back down now…”

“Shut up! This is between me and Jones” spat Heyes, never taking his eyes off the blond gunslinger who was purposefully striding to the middle of the street to face Heyes, pulling on a snug fitting soft leather glove.

“His name ain’t Jones…” Flat-nose sounded frantic “That’s Ki…”

“Keep out of this friend.” Drawled Curry laconically, cutting off the name. “Sometimes a man’s too stupid to listen.”

He stared, he waited, he barely moved.  

A big crowd had gathered now.  The partners could hear the whispering.  

Calling out Kid Curry, the notorious gunslinger was a new experience for Hannibal Heyes, he was actually sweating.  They stood and stared at each other for several minutes.

Tension built.  

Heyes knew he had to make this look good and stupidly, he was consciously trying not to do the twisty thing with his shoulders as he went for his Schofield.

Kid’s Colt was in his hand and Heyes’ gun and belt were on the floor before Heyes had released the breath he shouldn’t have been holding.  He schooled his face to anger, while inside he was congratulating his younger cousin for not shooting him in the leg.  

Gasps went round the crowd followed by another wave of whispering.  

Flat-nose ran to Heyes and grabbed his arm dragging him off the street.  “You don’t know how lucky you are fella, why if he’d a wanted…Well you should be a bit more careful who you employ in future if you’re not fixing on paying them…”

Kid twirled the Colt back into the holster with an extra flourish, stood for just a few seconds while his adversary cleared the street and then walked slowly to the saloon for a whiskey.

---oooOOOooo---

“Don’t ever ask me to do that again,” Heyes looks shaken, “And you owe me the cost of a good repair.  I like that holster, it’s comfortable!”  Kid is hiding a smirk, badly. “I didn’t damage your gun did I.”

Truth be told, Kid was feeling a bit churned up himself, not only was he taking on the dangerous payroll job, but he hadn’t relished using his only kin for shooting practice either.

---oooOOOooo---

Just before sun up …. next day

“I saw Flat-nose at the livery.  They’ve split the pay load; we’re only going up to the Brown Top mine today.  Should get there before nightfall.  He’s given me half the money.  You might as well hold this.” Curry puts the notes into Heyes’ hand.  Heyes eyes it like its thirty pieces of silver.  He’s given up trying to talk Curry out of it.

“Well let’s hope our little floor show made any would be bushwhackers think long and hard before they decide to go up against you and Flat-nose Kid.” Heyes pocketed the money.  He didn’t look at all convinced that their stunt would be enough to stop any planned raid.  

“Be careful.”

A mute conversation between the partners and Curry leaves for the bank.

---oooOOOooo---

Kid found Flat-nose at the front of the bank.  Flat-nose had smiled and simply said “I’m glad you decided to sign up for this with me Kid, I guess that showdown with the gambler yesterday changed your mind …urm it’s Jones, right?”

Kid nodded.

“Well Jones I’m Black.” Kid looked curious, “Black was my mother’s name,” explained Flat-nose. “Hiram Black…and yes, that’s my real name.  I wasn’t christened Flat-nose.”  

They waited outside the bank in silence for a while, till the big door swung open and a dapper, well-dressed man, Curry guessed he be about the same age as Heyes, with a shiny new gun in a shiny new holster came out to join them.  He carried a bulging saddle bag over his shoulder.  He swung the saddlebag up on the neck of a fine looking horse and climbed into the saddle.  “Who’s this Black?”

Kid was inspected, the tied down gun noted.

“This here’s Jones.” Stated Flat-nose.

“Jones? Oh…good…good.” This guy had heard about the showdown yesterday.  

‘Seems their little floor show had helped get him the job at least,’ thought Kid.

“I’m Brown.” A big paw was extended, Kid shook it.

‘Wasn’t anyone using their real names,’ thought Kid, ‘well I guess names aren’t that important if the workforce is expendable.’ He nodded to Brown and mounted up.

The pay roll party left town heading North watched, from his hotel room, by a worried Hannibal Heyes.  

‘Wonder how many others are watching you leave Kid?’ thought Heyes.

---oooOOOooo---

The early part of their journey was over flat terrain with low scrubby vegetation that didn’t give much scope for ambush.  

Conversation had been sparse. Kid had suggested he ride ahead and Black behind.  This was met with a curt negative from Brown, who definitely made it clear to him that he was in charge.  He insisted that, as payroll guards, they should ride either side of said pay roll.  

Curry got the distinct feeling he was there to take a bullet in order to give Brown a chance to get away if they were bushwhacked.  That didn’t make good grounds for further conversation.  Kid concentrated on the trail ahead to try and second guess potential ambush.

They made a short stop for coffee at noon, one on lookout at all times.  Kid got a quiet word with Flat-nose when Brown went off to relieve himself.  “We got to do this smarter Flat-nose, this way is really dumb.”

“I know Kid, but he’s paying my wages and I need that money, so he calls the shots.” Flat-nose looked apologetic.  

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” said Kid, looking up their chosen trail to the hills.  “When we get up there we’ll be sitting ducks if one of us doesn’t go scout ahead.”

“He thinks if he lets one of us out of his sight, we’ll settle for half the money and just keep on riding.” Flat-nose said this like he was thinking what a good idea that would be.  Kid could see it too and sighed.  

Would his instincts be enough to tell him when they were being watched, that wasn’t a lot to gamble his life on?  They continued into the afternoon, gaining higher ground.  The vegetation was joined by rocky outcrops that were getting higher and more frequent.  

The trail became narrower.  

Kid felt the prickles between his shoulder blades. He froze, straining his ears.  The other two watched him curiously.  Without lifting his head, Kid caught the slightest glint of the suns reflection on something metal high up to the left. “Ambush.” He breathed “Break right...” But he got no further, as he slipped from the saddle, on the right side of his horse, the first bullet flew over his horse’s back and pinged off the rock just above his head.  

The Colt was in his hand, returning fire as he used the horse for cover for the few strides it took to dive behind an outcrop of rock.  He sent a hail of bullets back up the slope opposite towards two positions he’d seen shots coming from.   It was enough to cover Flat-nose and Brown, as they scrambled through the screaming horses and the raised dust, to join him in the small rock cleft at the edge of the trail.

Flat-nose immediately took over the firing as Curry reloaded.  Brown sat with his back to the rock, grasping the overstuffed saddlebag to his chest.  

“Should’ve left that with your horse,” opined Curry annoyed.  “Maybe they’d have took off after the horses and left us to walk out.”  

Gun loaded Curry took up the firing as Flat-nose started loading.  “You just gonna sit there Brown or are you gonna fire that fancy piece of yours.”  Walters looked at the white knuckles on the bag.  “Ain’t like it’s your money.  Kids right you should’ve left it.”

“May I remind you gentlemen that you’re both being paid very well to see that this money gets to Brown’s mine.” Said the dude holding the bag.  Kid and Flat-nose exchange a look,

“Brown? You mean you’re Brown.  It’s your money?” Kid shook his head.

“Brown’s my father” stated the dude.  

If he were going to say more he didn’t get the chance. A hail of bullets came their way.  They all crouched low arms over their heads then, as the bullets thinned out Kid and Flat-nose sent a reply, full of lead.

“Your father don’t think much of you if he let you do this” Curry looked at the young man again. He didn’t seem to be scared, ‘must think he’s bulletproof’ thought Curry.  

“He doesn’t know I’m here,” said young Brown looking at his hands “Thought I’d show a bit of initiative.  

“Well try keep your head down, or your ‘initiative’ will be staining your nice expensive suit Mr Brown” Kid said sending more bullets at sniper positions.  “I make it four Flat-nose,” Kid called.

“Yeah,” agreed Walters.  “We got to keep ‘em pinned down Kid, can’t risk any of them getting up the courage to move over there.” Flat-nose waved up to the ridge to their right.

Kid had his back to the rock, a shallow overhang protected them from above, but he hadn’t heard or seen any shots coming from this side of the gully.  ‘Well at least we know they’re stupid’ he thought ‘only set the ambush from one side of the trail.  Real stupid.’  

“Cover me Flat-nose while I see if I can wing one of them.” Kid called to Walters.

A hand grabbed Kids arm. “Wing one?  I’m paying you to kill them Mr… Jones.” Kid looked round into young Browns sharp eyes, he shook his gun arm free and spat “Then you should of employed killers Mr Brown.”  

A cry came down to the trapped from above.  

“Curry? Kid Curry, if you bring up the money, we’ll cut you in.” Kids eyes closed for just a second.  Browns face set in a sneer. “Seems I did Mr Curry.”  

There was a moment.

Flat-nose looked at the other two and jumped in “No, Mr Brown, we just made them think Jones here was Curry, so they might think twice before attacking us.  Don’t look like it worked though hey Kid…that’s Jones the Kid, on account of his face Mr Brown, and I’m Flat-nose Black on account of mine.”  Flat-nose spared a second to meet Kid’s eyes before sending another bullet storm across the gully.

Kid looked grateful; though being recognised was the least of his troubles just now.  He was loading again, and thinking.  If he took the money up there to the ambushers, these two below might just be able to escape, but the chances of them letting him live passed the top of the ridge were minimal.  

Kid was still thinking on it, waiting for Flat-nose to drop back to load when a rifle fired a volley of shots from above, from their side of the gully, swiftly followed by a cry of pain from one of the ambushers high on the far side.  All three of the trapped looked up.  Someone up there was on their side.  A second round of firing was, to Kids ears, unmistakably from a Scofield pistol.

The gang was sending a hail of bullets over their heads.  ‘You better of found good cover Heyes’ thought Kid.  He aimed his Colt at the top a large rock on the opposite side of the trail, sending dust spurting up from the impact. An answering spurt sprang up next to it.

“My partners up there and he’s going to give me cover Flat-nose” shouted Curry, “I’ll break for that rock over there.  I should be able to flush at least two of them from there.  You keep the other two’s heads down. …Ready… now!”

Kid ran, the rifle up top began rapid fire.  Flat-nose sent bullets at the two positions higher up.  As Kid threw himself behind the rock the two lower positions began to return fire at Heyes.  Kid broke again, just long enough to put a bullet in each of them.  

“I been hit, cover me while I climb out,” came a cry.  

“Me too…I need a doctor, Curry got my shoulder.”  

Kid crouched protecting his head as the two higher positions fired up a storm his way.  Heyes’ answering shots were above the heads of the wounded as they climbed back over the ridge and throwing up dust around those still firing.  Flat-nose kept up the firing from below.

Soon the only shots were from Heyes’ rifle.

Quiet fell in the gully.  

Kid looked up to see a familiar figure wave the all clear.  He stood and walked to Flat-nose and Brown, offered a hand to the young dude and pulled him to his feet.  

“Think you’ve got another guard on the pay roll Mr Brown.”  he stated simply.

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes had their horses back, and introduced himself to Brown.  

“Smith.” Was all Brown said.  But Kid informed Heyes that he was now on the pay roll and from now on, to the mine, things were going to be done his way.  Brown didn’t argue.  Flat-nose looked at the gambler and marvelled that he hadn’t realised till now, that this was Hannibal Heyes.

Heyes and Kid fanned out ahead one either side of the trail, Flat-nose dropped back behind Brown all acutely aware that they still had a few hours to go with all that money.  When the mine came into view they were all relieved for a chance to eat and rest up for a few hours before starting out again.

The three Pay roll guards were paid their due; Brown decided Heyes would get a half day’s pay, as he’d joined half way along the trail.  They all noted that thanks were not forthcoming, neither was an invite to work for the mine again.  Guess young Brown might have been a bit sceptical about Jones the Kid, Flat-nose Black and Smith then.

They stayed only long enough to have a meal in a mine-owned restaurant and give the horses a couple of hours’ rest while they played a few hands of poker in a mine-owned saloon.  Then they climbed back into their saddles and headed back South.

Flat-nose stayed with them for a few hours, till he could light out West, back to his girl with his pay.  He said he’d tell his son or daughter about the time he rode with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, but he’d had enough excitement for one lifetime.  

Before he left he apologised to Heyes about not warning him earlier about the Marsden Ring.  He’d watched them operate in other towns as he’d made his way East for this job.  He figured they must be working their way back to their old stomping grounds, not stopping more than a week anywhere.  

Heyes said not to think on it and that he was just grateful that his partner had had Flat-nose to watch his back in that gully.

---oooOOOooo---

Later down the trail

“Well I can’t go back to that town Heyes; they think they know who I am there.” Kid wished Flat-nose hadn’t reminded Heyes about the Marsden ring.  He’d gone real quiet.  Kid could almost hear the torture his partner was surely putting himself through up in that big brain of his.  “Ain’t another decent trail West for days, so do we keep going South, skirt around that town, or light out East?”

“Huh?” Heyes was pulled from his reverie. “Flat-nose thought the Marsden ring was working their way East …but we got good pay in our pockets.  No sense to go looking for trouble…” Heyes mused.  

Kid heard it but that didn’t mean he believed it, and it was no means certain that Marsden had gone East either.  

Kid decided.  “We’ll toss a coin then.  Heads East, tails South.” Heyes nodded.

Kid held the coin on his thumb for just a second and tossed it.

The partners look up as the coin spins at the top of the toss…

The End


This tale shows how Heyes needs a plan to get even...that part of the tale is taken up by C D Roberts and can be found here: Grift Graft. study I can't wait to find out if it all works out! cliffhanger


Last edited by Cal on Sat 21 May 2016, 12:52 pm; edited 4 times in total
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What a Man's Gotta Do (A Fair Day's Work) ... 7,200 words :: Comments

Re: What a Man's Gotta Do (A Fair Day's Work) ... 7,200 words
Post on Sat 05 Mar 2016, 11:43 pm by fluffyone
Enjoyed reading.
 

What a Man's Gotta Do (A Fair Day's Work) ... 7,200 words

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