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 The Long Road Back - Part Twenty - Who are you... and what have you done with Heyes - 4500 words

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Cal

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PostThe Long Road Back - Part Twenty - Who are you... and what have you done with Heyes - 4500 words

---oooOOOooo---

The Long Road Back
(Haff & Wong seven)
By Cal

---oooOOOooo---
Part Twenty
Who are you… and what have you done with Heyes?
---oooOOOooo---

Haff was frustrated to find that, even his beloved paint pony, couldn’t pick out a path across the top of these high crags.  Spurred on by his wish to re-join Flower of Morning, he abandoned the struggle, and left her to continue on foot.  He leapt over chasms and squeezed between towering rocks.  

Often his path lead him in loops to avoid unpassable climbs.  

He groaned, re-assessing his earlier conviction that he would get ahead of Weaver and Platt this way, and recognised it for the slim hope it had been.

Still he pushed on.  

He had to see what the firing was about and just who was involved.

When he finally arrived at the deep cut, that led to the stream far below, the firing seemed to be over, and the combatants were just emerging from cover.  

He recognised Flower’s elder brother, Red Dawn, and waved.  

Red stood up and waved across to his sister’s position far off to his left.  Haff nodded and began to find his way in that direction. He loosened some rocks that went crashing down the side of the cut.  Loud cursing from below made Haff smile, as he recognised the unmistakable drawl of Wheat Carlson.

“Hey… you clumsy Indian… watch where you’re tramping up there!”

Again, Haff just waved and smiled but continued on to his goal.  

‘Where was Flower?’

He knew she was close.  

Her brother had pointed at a large, jutting outcrop of rock, half way up the cliff wall ahead, but the only way Haff could see to reach it, was from above.  He began to climb, and worry.  

‘Why hadn’t she also stood up and waved? If the other two felt it was safe to break cover, why hadn’t Flower?’

Haff was right to worry.

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes stood by Kid’s black gelding cooing and clucking and pointedly ignoring Sally. Weaver’s flashy grey mare had taken a shine to Kid’s big black gelding and was feeling left out.  He winced, as he lifted his arm to pat the black’s neck.  He was soaked to the skin, the knife wound on his arm was beginning to sting and his shoulder was covered in blood.  

Enough blood to spook both horses.

He was just going to shout over his shoulder to The Kid to get moving, and wondering how best to snag up Sally’s rein again, when he realised his partner hadn’t even left the ground yet.  He was still holding his head and groaning, not grumbling; with Kid, that was a big difference.  

Heyes walked back over and casually offered Kid a hand up.  At the last minute, he switched the hand he was offering, to the one that wasn’t attached to a damaged shoulder.

Kid hadn’t moved.  

That blow had really caught him, even with the metal dome in his hat.  

Kid smiled wistfully as he examined the mangled metal dome that had saved his life meaning to toss it, but he decided better of it and pushed it back under the hat.  He’d have to remember to thank the Bounty Hunter for saving his life as well as Lom’s.  

He rubbed at his sore crown groaning loudly.

It hurt.  And when he looked up at Heyes he was still seeing two of him.  He did a double take, focussing on his partner with screwed up eyes.  When he looked up at Heyes, he noticed he was also soaked to the skin and shivering, and he had a blood all over his shoulder.

Both of them.

“Heyes… your shhhh..oulder… your bleedin’…”

Heyes didn’t miss the shiver and the slur in Kid’s words, or the fact that Kid was apparently talking to someone stood next to him.  He screwed up his face, staring back into Kid’s bleary, unfocussed blue eyes.

“I think you’re in worse shape than me Kid… Think you can ride?”

“Sure…shhhh….sure…”

Kid grabbed at the offered hand, eventually, after grabbing the phantom Heyes’ hand a few times before selecting the real one.  

He pulled himself to his feet and immediately bent double and heaved up his empty stomach, narrowly missing Heyes’ boots.

“You’re bloody…and wet ….Heyes… what yer been doin’” said a drunken sounding Kid between heaves, as he grabbed onto Heyes wet shirt sleeve, just below the knife cut.

Heyes eased the clutching fingers off his sore arm, and took Kid’s weight on his other side.

“Oh …nothin’ much” he said to the top of Kid’s hat as he bent double retching again.  “All I been doin’ is having a knife fight …and a near drownin’.  I haven’t been havin’ near as much fun as you have Kid… Kid?…. Kid? You don’t look so good….”

Heyes watched as Kid pulled himself up to his full height, straightening his gun belt, and checking the colt was in the right place.  

Check.  

Then he straightened his hat, smiled at both Heyes’ in turn, and marched in a straight line, straight to Sally.  He grabbed her reins and took a huge breath before tackling the actual mount.

Sally stood still, shocked.

“Come on…. Heyes…. We should try keep Lom alive… even if we don’t need that amnesty no more… now we’re rich…” he said to the horse’s neck.

Heyes winced at his partner’s words.  

Now wasn’t the time to tell him they were flat broke again.  

He blew out a long breath and followed Kid into the water.  He casually snagged up the black’s reins, and handed them to Kid, who looked confused for just a second, but nodded, swapping horses.

Heyes boosted his groggy partner onto his horse, Kid groaning loudly at the change in altitude, then quickly had a splashy, jumpy par de deux with Sally, till he could haul himself up into her saddle without further opening the cut on his shoulder.

Goodness knows what Kid was actually seeing throughout Heyes and Sally’s water ballet.  He was blinking heavily and trying not to move his head too much so he wouldn’t throw up again.

---oooOOOooo---
Weaver chose one of the positions he’d seen firing.  The one he thought must be Kid Curry because of the accuracy of the rifle fire from such a long distance.  It was also the best position to ambush from above.

‘Curry won’t be expecting ambush,’ he thought.  ‘They all thought they’d seen me leaving, riding that mad mare back towards the stream.’  

He sneaked down the small goat trail to the large jutting out rock and watched incredulous as, not Kid Curry, but a small diminutive Indian sat checking a rifle nearly as tall as she was.

‘The woman! She’s my ticket out of here through the tribal lands North….’ thought Weaver.

A rockslide and some cursing quickly got both of their attention.  

Flower carefully slid the rifle over the rim of the rock and lay on her belly to site down the long barrel again.  She saw her brother standing and waving to the other side of the cut.  She followed the movement and saw Wheat slapping dust out of his coat and hat, still muttering curses at someone above.  Then she caught movement above him and swung the rifle around to re-site it at the new enemy.

Her heart leapt as she got a quick glimpse of her new husband, scrambling across the rocks above Wheat.  She gave a little chuckle and pushed backwards down the rock, pulling at her tunic and wiping her face with a sleeve, grinning happily.  It was at this moment of distraction, that Weaver lunged and caught her around the middle, throwing a hand across her mouth at the same time.

Flower bit down heavily on the hand across her mouth drawing blood.  She screamed out a mass of curses to her captor and began kicking and scratching, gauging and elbowing her opponent for all she was worth.  Years of wrestling older brothers coming in very handy at this point.  

Weaver, of course, was much bigger and stronger, and had lost any inhibition he’d felt about Flower being a female. He shook his bitten hand and grabbed up the pistol with it.  He landed a blow to the back of her head that rendered her unconscious.

Hearing Flower cry out, Red, Wheat and Haff had frozen for just a second, then thrown themselves towards her position as quickly as they could.

Haff was first to arrive, skidding down the goat track to the platform where Weaver stood with his back to the rock, holding Flower’s unconscious form in front of him like a shield, the peacemaker pushed into her ribs.

Haff stood stock still, eyes full of hate and loathing, desperately looking for ways to rescue Flower.  First Wheat, then Red skidded down to flank him, facing Weaver and his hostage, both taking in the hopeless situation and placing a warning hand on one of Haff’s arms just in case he should lose the fragile hold on his restraint.

“Well now… looks like we need to have ourselves a little talk…” began Weaver.

---oooOOOooo---

Crease slowed as he approached the trees leading up to the cave house.  He swung his gaze between the ridge trail and the woods, considering.

‘The supplies I need will be in the cave house itself, or that smaller cave out back’ he thought. ‘I should try to find that Bounty Hunter’s pack… get more ammo for this pistol …but for now ….I already got me a rifle…’

He smiled.

Decision made.

He turned the chestnut mare’s wide white blaze to the ridge path that lead around to the high meadow above the cave house.

---oooOOOooo---

Lom had been busy since the boys left at first light.  

He’d moved his patient into the cave house.  It had taken a huge effort, but when the traumatised Bounty Hunter realised that the Sheriff intended moving him inside, away from the animals that roamed Devils Hole at night, he had cooperated as best he could.

Lom had made up the fire and made himself a meal.  

The Bounty Hunter had sipped at water and gulped at whiskey.  

Lom had had a look at the wound… and the hanging scar… cleaned and stitched what he could using the last of the whiskey and some fishing line.  Wasn’t pretty and neither of them thought it would restore the Bounty Hunter’s ruined voice, but it was all that could be done.

The trauma of all that had sent the Bounty Hunter back into comatose sleep, and Lom had laid him out close to the fire while he went to set some snares down in the woods.  He felt he’d be needing more than beans and grains to keep himself going over the next few days, and he knew for sure there were fish in the lake.

----oooOOOooo---


“Give me the money!” insisted Weaver pushing the pistol deeper into Flower’s ribs.

Three unarmed men stood in front of him, two with one hand raised and one hand holding back Flower’s husband.

“What money?” asked Wheat, pulling back on Haff’s arm to keep the small Indian from flying at Weaver.  Wheat knew Haff still had the knife between his shoulder blades and was more than willing to use it.

“Don’t give me that. You know exactly what money I mean, Carlson. The money! The money you tried to buy your scrawny hide with, when Crease was followin’ my orders …and gonna skin yer… OH… you didn’t think he’d tell me? He done told me all about it… How you pleaded…  said you had $50,000 stashed away he could have… well now it’s time to do some crawling for her life boy… Give ME the money …or SHE DIES!”

Red and Haff looked to Wheat expectantly.

“Give it to him!” shouted Red viciously, when he saw, what he thought was reticence, in Wheat’s eyes.  

“Yes …Let him… DIE …a rich man!” spat Haff quietly looking back over his shoulder.  

Haff saw pain in Wheat’s eyes and felt confused.  He felt panic rise again, realising what must be causing Wheat’s inability to comply.  He knew with certainty that Wheat would hand over the money in a heartbeat, if it was at all possible for him to do so.  He closed his eyes.  

His partner and Kyle weren’t here.

Wheat was.

Wong had the money and had gone on East with Kyle.  Wheat must have come back with Flower and Red thinking to repay Lom, Heyes and Curry for his rescue. Haff looked over his other shoulder and tried to communicate some of this to Red.  

Red only saw the panic in Haff’s face and looked at Wheat with loathing.

“I ain’t got it…” started Wheat lamely, shaking his head, seeing the panic rise in both Indian’s faces.

Think.

Think!

“No …I ain’t got it…” he mumbled to fill time.  

Suddenly inspiration hit.

“No…. I ain’t got it…. ‘cause that dirty, sneaky low-life Hannibal Heyes… he done took it from me… Yessir … he robbed it!“

Wheat threw a look over to Weaver and saw the man was eating this up.  He warmed to his subject.  

“Yeah… that no good thief… Hannibal Heyes …well…he got the Kid to distract us see… and he done switched saddlebags on me ….before me and Kyle even left the cave house… Why we was near half way outta here ‘fore we even realised what that stinking rat had done… That’s why I come back  …to get my money ….see… from that no good …ornery ….hooty owl, Hannibal Heyes! Oh ... the way he tells it … he’s reformed… says he isn’t even an outlaw no more …well he’s a filthy stealin’ liar, is what he is …and he’s got my money!”

The two Indians looked at each other, then at Wheat, finally facing Weaver as one, nodding ascent to Wheat’s words.  

Weaver was deep in thought, his eyes squinting almost closed.

‘That does explain what Curry meant by ‘Nobody knows about our ….erm….’ when he nodded to the saddlebags Heyes had been leaning on, back that night, in the clearing where they’d been held prisoner. Heyes didn’t let that saddlebag out of his sight.  Didn’t even trust Curry to touch it.  Heyes must have already switched saddlebags on Wheat. So Heyes has the money.’

“HEYES HAS THE MONEY!”  Weaver’s eyes squinted alarmingly.  

He smiled unpleasantly, seems he wasn’t leaving yet.  He would be a guest at Devils Hole just a little longer.  Seemed the Devil didn’t want him to leave just yet, not without the $30,000 bounties on Heyes, Curry and Carlson, as well as the gangs $50,000.  

Well so be it.

It would be rude to disappoint their host.

“Is that so?” Weaver spat quietly to himself.  “Is that so?” He tightened his grip around the small Indian making her groan.  

All three men opposite inched forwards.  

He’d need to show these people he meant business.  He waved the pistol over at the three men, stopping them in their tracks as he tried to choose a target.  

A show of power.  

A cold-blooded killing had always served him well when it came to showing others whose boss.  He sneered, swinging the pistol between the bodies in front of him.

‘I shouldn’t rile the Indians …by killing one of them just yet …I still gotta get out of here…’ he thought.   ‘…And Carlson might come in useful... give Curry an extra target to shoot at… when I catch up to Heyes...’

He groaned in frustration, returning the pistol to Flowers ribs.

“Start walking!” He barked.  “Back to the horses… and keep your hands where I can see them… one of you Indians better be a good tracker …cause we’re gonna go find us …Hannibal Heyes.”

“They ain’t passed us yet…” Wheat assured him.  “Or I’d have already dealt with our FRIEND HEYES…”  Haff and Red rolled their eyes at Wheat’s lame attempt to tell them Heyes was still their friend.  The Indians were way ahead of him.

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes looked over to his partner and worried.  Kid was quiet, and had retched several times from the saddle since they’d started back towards the cave house. He looked pale and his eyes were still bothering him.  

Heyes suspected that Kid was just letting the Black follow Sally’s tail, and that Kid wasn’t able to focus on the trail ahead himself at all.  So, it was a surprise, when Kid suggested that he would follow the ridge trail up to the meadow above the cave house, and that Heyes, should head off into the trees and make his way back to the grassy canyon at the base of the cliff.

“No!” said Heyes.  “No more splitting up… Kid you can’t even see straight yet.”

Kid looked.

“He has guns Heyes… and he can get the drop on Lom… Lom doesn’t know he’s coming… You know it’s the only thing that makes sense… You go in the front… I got your back… just like always… we ain’t splitting up… you’re never alone …you know that…”

“Huh? What did you say Kid?  No, now come on… You’re not thinking straight either… Look at you…”

Heyes got off his horse, keeping a good grip on her rein and studied the ground.

“Anyway ….we don’t know which way Crease went…”

It was impossible to make out any recent tracks on the hard ground.  

He shook his head.  Kid was right.

Crease could have gone either way.

They’d have to split.

“You through arguin’ with me yet?” Kid said quietly to both his partners as he watched the penny drop in Heyes’ eyes... all four of them.

“Yep” said Heyes equally quietly. “Don’t mean I have to like it.”

“Right.”

Kid walked the Black on up the ridge trail.  

Heyes watched him leave.

“If you see Crease…” he called after Kid, “….shoot both of them!”

Kid grunted, and lifted an arm but didn’t attempt to look back, he just hoped the Black stayed with the trail
                                       …at least while his partner was still watching.

---oooOOOooo---

Lom was stood in the shallow lake, his hands cradled below the speckled bodies of the unsuspecting fish.  He smiled as a second large flapping body, flew through the air, to land on the rocky shore.  If the snares didn’t yield a rabbit or two, they’d still have a good supper tonight.

Time to head back.  

He’d check all the snares on the way.

Lom hadn’t lived like this for some time.  He’d had his meals brought to him at the jailhouse, or eaten at the restaurant, slept in a soft bed, or one of the jailhouse cots, but not outside, not on cold hard ground, not for ages.  

He was quietly enjoying his day out hunting for food, gathering wood for the fire and the prospect of sleeping under the stars, well… in the cave house, now he’d moved their camp.

Sometimes, he quite envied Heyes and Kid’s nomadic lifestyle, free from responsibility and ties. He let out a small laugh and wondered what the boys would make of that.

Gathering up his fish he began the long trek back through the trees, towards the cave house cliffs.

---oooOOOooo---

Crease left his horse, and sneaked down the deer trail from the meadow.  He listened outside the hides at the back of the cave house, and heard nothing but the cracking of the logs on the fire.  The smell of the fire was the only indication that the cave was occupied.  

He grabbed a few supplies from the store cave and felt disappointed to only find grains and beans, no dry meats or spare ammo.

He carefully lifted one hide and listened again.  

Nothing.

But an aroma of bacon hung in the air of the dark interior.  Creases stomach growled loudly.  

He waited.  

No movement from within.  

Whoever was using the cave was out and they may have left the side of bacon by the fire.  

‘Worth the risk’ decided Crease and his stomach, moving carefully through the narrow opening.

He blinked at the dark smoky interior, at first seeing nothing but the glowing logs.  Slowly he crept towards the fire.  He nearly tripped over a pair of boots, his eyes widening as he followed the boots up long legs to a blood soaked Indian blanket.

He gasped out his shock at finding the Bounty Hunters body laid out in the cave.  Then guessed wrongly that someone had given the man the closest thing to a burial possible in Devils Hole.

“Huh!” he snorted. “Waste of effort …and the waste of a good cave!”

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes arrived at the cliff face at the front of the cave house, having found no evidence of Crease, or Lom, or the Bounty Hunter.  He looked up the rope and sighed out his resignation.  He was going to have to climb that rope again.  But this time he had a very sore shoulder.

‘Kid could be up there already …needing my back up…’ he thought as he grabbed the rope and started pulling himself skywards

---oooOOOooo---

Kid patted the big Blacks neck. The horse had found his own way to the meadow.  He carefully fell to the floor, leaning against the saddle for just a minute or two, before pushing off and stumbling down the deer track.  

The chestnut mare was already grazing above.  

Crease had chosen this way too.  

He was below in the cave.

Kid eased the wet Colt out of the holster and wondered whether it would fire.  His gun was always ready to fire…
                well maybe not this time
                                     … he stumbled on.

---oooOOOooo---

Crease leaned over the body as his eyes became accustomed to the dim interior of the cave.  He had the saddlebag of Heyes’ money over one shoulder, and the Bounty Hunter’s long pistol in his hand.  He sneered at the coverings around the Bounty Hunter’s neck, covering his handywork.  He noticed a few bullets in the Bounty Hunter’s gun belt and broke the pistol to expose the two empty chambers.  

He reached down to push the bullets out of the leather thongs.  

“Don’t think you’re going to be needing these…” he said, pushing the first one into the pistol’s chamber.

“Freeze!” shouted Heyes from the door, pointing the wet schofield at Crease.  

Crease took in the dripping, bloody, exhausted, ex-gang leader at the door and snarled, lifting the pistol and snapping the chamber back in place, ensuring the only empty chamber wasn’t in line.  Hannibal Heyes wasn’t a cold-blooded killer like him.  He’d hesitate.

Crease pointed the pistol.

Heyes saw the intent, and pulled the trigger.

The wet gun mis-fired.

Heyes dropped the treacherous weapon, and fell to the floor with a gasp, shaking his stinging hand.

“Hah!” shouted Crease seeing he now had all the advantage.

He stood and deliberately aimed the pistol at Heyes’ head.

Heyes stared down the barrel, hoping against hope, that Kid would appear behind Crease at any minute.  He saw the trigger finger begin the squeeze, and narrowed his eyes, expecting oblivion.

But Crease screamed.  

The Bounty Hunter, stood behind him in the blood-stained blanket.  He pushed the pistol up to the ceiling, snarling into Creases face with soundless terror. He grabbed the front of Crease’s shirt and pulled him round, closer, groaning into his face.

“AHHHHH!” screamed Crease.  “Get off me… you’re dead…. YOU’RE DEAD!”

He was backing away from the walking dead, towards the back of the cave, eyes as big as saucers, hand holding the pistol shaking alarmingly.

“This place has a way of lifting the veil between life and death Platt! Devil’s Hole! The Indian’s Sacred Lands! You’re gonna meet plenty of your victims here!” shouted Heyes from the door.

He was remembering the shock of finding out that the Bounty Hunter was alive, and could only imagine how much greater the shock would be, if you were the erstwhile murderer! Couldn’t hurt to fan the flames a little.

“You see that farmer’s wife yet? …. Or her children?… Plenty want revenge on you… Platt!”

Heyes’ mocking voice followed Crease as he fought his way out of the cave, through the hides at the back. He was screaming something about the money. How Heyes could have it all, if he stopped the haunting.  He dropped the pistol and dug in the saddlebag to wave a huge wad of cash.

“You can have it all!” he screamed at the hides as they fell back into place.  He walked backwards, never taking his eyes off those hides.

“Won’t bring back that young farmer’s wife or her children though …will it?” snarled Kid Curry, stood on the far side of the stream pointing his Colt.

“YOU!” screamed Crease.  “YOU’RE DEAD TOO! YOU STAY AWAY FROM ME!”

Kid looked kinda green, his glaring eyes unfocussed as he started walking across the stream.  Crease backed up towards the cliff edge muttering.

“NO… no… stay away …all of you…”

Kid was a bit confused.  There was only him.  

He tried to move fast as he could across the slippery stream bed.  Crease was getting awfully close to both the cliff edges Kid could see.  

Crease took one too many steps backwards and lost his footing.

Kid lunged towards the nearest Crease he could see, resulting in at least half his own body hanging over the precipice as he watched two Crease’s decent to the trees below, surrounded by a halo of fluttering currency.

“Aw %$£&!” he swore.  “That was our freedom!”

Heyes had hold of his boots.  He pulled, grabbing at Kids sheepskin coat and pulling him back away from the edge.

“Don’t worry Kid... It was only money…” he said, jerking his head back over the edge.

“Only money?!?” said an incredulous Kid.  “Who are you?… And what have you done with Heyes?!?”

Heyes laughed.

---oooOOOooo---

Lom heard the crash and the thump as something heavy hit first the trees, then the woodland floor.  He stood up, rabbit in one hand, snare in the other as all around him green bank notes fluttered like a ticker tape parade.

He stared in wonder.

---oooOOOooo---

“Just money Kid…” said a bone weary Heyes.  

“Easy come… easy go…”

Kid snored, loudly.  His head was on Heyes’ chest, his boots still hanging off the cliff.  He lay, a dead weight in Heyes’ arms.

“Just money… and it’s all gone… all gone…”

Heyes’ own eyes were shutting; he couldn’t fight exhaustion any more.

“Who needs money … ? …. mmmmmm…. Not us….norus…”

He joined in with the snoring, keeping one arm locked firmly under Kid’s arms so neither of them could slip back to the precipice.

---oooOOOooo---

And that’s how Lom found them, when he returned to the cave house a few hours later.  

At first he thought they were dead, and could hardly catch his breath with the weight of the emotion that hit him.  

Then Kid snored.

Lom, closed his eyes and shook his head releasing his held breath, in both annoyance and relief as he stared down at the Kansas cousins.

---oooOOOooo---

Next part HERE - http://asjbuckshot.forumotion.com/t409-the-long-road-back-part-twenty-one-the-revenant-3000words


Last edited by Cal on Thu 17 Nov 2016, 11:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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The Long Road Back - Part Twenty - Who are you... and what have you done with Heyes - 4500 words :: Comments

You got our boys hurt and now trying to fight Crease. Weaver is after them again, too. How are they gonna manage this one? headscratch
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The Long Road Back - Part Twenty - Who are you... and what have you done with Heyes - 4500 words

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