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 Challenge stories for 2016. Four short stand alone pieces.

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Cal

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Join date : 2015-11-11

20161219
PostChallenge stories for 2016. Four short stand alone pieces.

#1.....Sour Grapes...........I might develop this one into a longer tale one day....I think its got scope.

---oooOOOooo---
Fly Fishing
---oooOOOooo---

“Catch anything Heyes?”

“Darn Chill is all…”

“Hah! Thought you said you’d be good at this.”

“I thought I would be.  Proper fishing, I can do …I never tried to fish with a fly before …Whoever thought of this must be twisted.  Fishing’s meant to be relaxing, quiet …give a man time to think …. not flick, flick, flick… takes all the fun out of doing nothing…”

“It’s fun when you get to reel in a big one.  They really put up a fight.”

“Hah! I thought you were gonna give up pulling …and just shoot the darn thing!”

“That wouldn’t have been very sporting now would it.  They call this a sport. I wish Angus would stop calling us gillies! I don’t even know what one of them is. These folks know more about fly fishing than we do anyway.  I think we’re just here to make sure they don’t go getting themselves lost.  Keep them safe from outlaws.”

“Stop asking him about the rivers …in England then …he told you he’s from ‘Scotchland’ …and a gillie’s just someone to carry the fish back to that fancy Hotel for them.  Shooting tomorrow.  That’s more our bag.”

“Our bag? …Heyes, we’ve spent too much time round these British tourists. We’re beginning to sound like them!”

“If you ever see me starting to look like them …wearing them plus four pants …shoot me.”

“Yeah …or one of them flapping hats…. What is a Ma Quis anyway? I keep thinking they’re saying Ma Kriss …remember her …she used to chase us with a rolling pin!”

“Well Ma Quis, is someone who pays us $30 a day to stop him getting lost or attacked by outlaws, while he tries killin’ things, in really weird ways, and calls it sport.”

“Well …any idea what beatin’ is?  ‘Cause he says we’ll be beatin’ tomorrow …and drivin’ onto the guns …whatever that is…”

“Its somethin’ he’s willin’ to pay us $30 a day, apiece fer Kid…”

“OK Heyes …but I think we should try and find out some more from that Watkins fella, before tomorrow …don’t sound right, us being behind whatever it is he wants drivin’ onto guns.  We don’t know if any of these Brits can even shoot straight.  Or what they gonna be shooting at …or with.”

“The Guvnor’s just asked us to keep his party happy and safe till they go home.  Gotta admit Kid, it ain’t hard on the back, and the food a great improvement on beans and jerky... “

“Well I ain’t eatin anything called ‘spotted dick’ …no matter how much of that …custard …they put on it!”

“Never thought I’d see the day you’d turn down food Kid. Think you got a case of sour grapes there.”

“A case of what?  Is that like that wine they made us drink? …Hey Heyes, what do you think our friend Ma Quis would say …if he knew who the Guvnor had sent to keep him safe from outlaws.”

“Yeah! Only he calls ‘em Road agents …or Highwaymen …”

“Road agents …sounds almost respectable, Heyes …like a Bannerman agent….”

JONES!

“I wish he wouldn’t just shout ‘Jones’ like that, the man has no manners at all.  Who does he think he is?”

“Someone …who’s willin’ to pay us $30 a day …”

“Ha-ha … ok, ok.”

“He can shout Smith at me all day long …Come on Kid… it’s not like they’re even our real names.”

“Sure Heyes…. Well come on …the Ma Quis requires our presence… and I think …that’s a gun in his hands …not a rolling pin.”

---oooOOOooo---





#2...........Ghost...................a story for Halloween.


---oooOOOooo---

Ghost…

---oooOOOooo---


“What’s got you so all fired up Baby Jane? I could rest my cup on that bottom lip of yours.”

“It’s not fair Nana” the teen sulked. “Not fair at all.”

“Come give your old Nana a cwtch child.  Tell me what’s eating at yer”

“That’s it! That’s what’s eating at me.  I’m not a child!”

“You’ll always be Baby Jane to me and your Gran’pa, so no use fightin it.  What’s wrong? What’s HE said now.”

“Nana? …Can you you remember what it felt like the first time you fell in love?”

“Well …yes” Nana chuckled.  “I ain’t senile yet! I wasn’t much older than you.”

“Well then you know I’m old enough to know what love is …. It’s not fair.”

“Oh …you’ve fallen HARD have you?  That can be a mighty terrifying feeling... “

“I knew you’d understand! Is that what it was like for you …terrifying.”

“Oh Lord yes! But what was a girl to do?”

“Tell me Nana.  Tell me what it was like when you first met Gran’pa….”

“Gran’pa? oh…er….well yes. Of course Gran’pa…”

“Was he handsome?”

Nana’s eyes lifted from Jane’s angelic face, as she sat next to her on the porch, to the far horizon.

“Yes child …he was handsome. I remember that first time I saw him like it was yesterday.  I was living in Wyoming then. My Pa was the Mayor of a little town called Benton. Like I said … I wasn’t much  older than you …but I was already set on being a school teacher.  I had a head full of books and arms full of supplies.  Your great Grandma was already sick by then and I was doing all the housekeeping for my Pa and the little ones.  I was just …doing everyday things… Just walking along the street… and there he was… I saw him.”

Nana sighed deeply and tears sprang to her eyes.  She blinked them away quickly and smiled at Jane who was watching the transformation of her old Nana’s face with awe.  Nana almost looked young there for a second.

“Herm… Yes …like I said.  There he was … stood out on the boardwalk …right in front of a SALOON!” laughed Nana. “Just stood there … hitching up his hat and taking in the view.  It was the way he stood there got me.  Like he owned the town.  He was tall …broad shouldered. He had on a white shirt and a leather vest.  In those days a man travelled with a pistol strapped around his waist, but he wore his low on slim hips.  I didn’t need to see his face I was already sunk.  I couldn’t move …thank goodness he wasn’t looking my way … or all he would have seen was a cod fish gawping at him…”

“Gran’pa!?” asked Jane incredulously.

“Gran’pa? Well yes …of course Gran’pa.  Oh he was a real looker in those days.  I came to my senses and realised I could be making a spectacle of myself …so I walked on a bit and looked in the window of the next store …so I could get another peek.” Nana chuckled. “Lord knows what he would have thought of me if he’d realised I was stood there looking at traps and fishing line!”

“Did he see you?”

“Not then. I got my look in first. Oh …and what a look.  He had the bluest eyes and he wore his hair long and in curls… golden curls… curled my stomach up to see them and set my heart a thumpin.  He had the sweetest smile …that set those eyes to twinkling.  When he turned that smile on me… I near melted to my toes…”

Another huge sigh escaped Nana’s lips.

“Did he ask you to marry him Nana?”

“What? Lord child …in those days you didn’t speak to a man less you’d been properly introduced! …No …we just looked at each other.   I looked.   And he looked.   But we both knew.   I saw it straight off …that jump in his eyes …he saw plain as day how it was for me …he saw clear through to my soul … and I knew …Lord did I know …I didn’t even want to know and I knew!”

“What did you know Nana?”

“I knew.  There wasn’t another man on God’s Earth better suited for me to spend the rest of my days with than this man here stood in front of me.  I knew for darn certain.  So certain it took my breath away. Terrified me …like nothing had ever done …. before or since.  I was so God’m sure before that moment that I was the master of my own fate.  I wasn’t no willowy maid looking for a husband, I had plans for myself …and a whole World to see!  And here he was… smiling… My whole World … just came out of a Saloon and knocked all my planning into a cocked hat!”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing.” Nana looked down at her hands for a second and blinked hard.  “Nothing.  I saw that look in his eyes too though.  I saw it plain as day like it was written on stone and handed down from a mountain.  He felt it too.  That jolt…” Nana looked off to the horizon again.  “I wonder if he was terrified too?”

“Why don’t you ask him?”

“What? …Oh Gran’pa… Well yes I … I should …but you know how he’s getting forgetful …best not to mention it to him… we don’t want to go getting him all riled up now do we…”

“What happened?  How did he ask you to marry him then?”

“Oh we looked some more.  I could see he wanted to come over and introduce himself… but his friend arrived … come to think on it … he was handsome too… He came out and saw…er… ‘Gran’pa’ looking… and he smiled this crooked, dimpled smile at me… and tipped his hat… funny… I can still see that hat… you know it had a bullet hole right in the crown!  Why would a smartly dressed man wear an old hat like that?  Well he tapped his friend on the shoulder and pulled him ‘round.  They talked some and his friend dragged him towards the livery stables.  Your …erm …’Gran’pa’…. hum…. He gave me one last look… that near broke my heart… it was an apology… a plea for forgiveness… a promise …”

Nana put her hand to her face and this time she couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.  She lowered her hand to her beating heart.

‘How could it still hurt so much after all these years?’ she thought.

“Maybe they needed to be somewhere in a hurry” suggested Jane.  “It was alright though Nana… wasn’t it? He came back and asked you to marry him didn’t he!”

“Yes… yes of course he did.  Of course he did.  That was just the first time I met him …and he had to leave… just like you said.  He left riding up Main Street …next to his friend …and I like to think that the reason he didn’t look over to me …was because he was a little upset himself …that he didn’t have …the time …to come and introduce himself properly.”

Nana’s old eyes followed the ghost of her past as he rode past her and on out of town.

“I saw the way he carried himself in that saddle… I could see it was hard for him to leave like that…”

She whispered more to herself than to Jane.

“When did you see him again?”

“Oh…” Nana shook herself and plonked her hands into her lap, fixing Jane with a teary eyed blue twinkled smile.  “How did we get started on this silly story Baby Jane? Weren’t we talking about your new Beau?”

“Nana! When did you see him again?”

“Not errrr …not for a long time after that… I met your Gran’pa at a Halloween Party in Denver… He was all decked out in a ghostly mask…. Can you believe that? All I could see of him were his broad shoulders and his long golden curls…”

“And it was him! How romantic.  You must have been thrilled…”

“My papa sure was… your Gran’pappy was a fine catch for a Mayors daughter from Benton!”

---oooOOOooo---





#3......A Missing scene....................see how quickly you can identify the episode....



---oooOOOooo---

Tomorrow

---oooOOOooo---

A darkened shabby hotel room.  Kid is lying face down groaning quietly trying to sleep. Heyes is burning the mid-night oil, reading.

Heyes has found a passage in his book he’d like to share…

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!  Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

“If the tale is told by an idiot Heyes …why are you feelin’ the need to share it with me?…It’s late …quit readin’ and go to sleep.”

“Surprised you CAN sleep Kid…under the circumstances…It just seemed fitting…is all…what with Charlie…..and what he faces tomorrow….”

Kid thumps his pillow and turns his head to face Heyes, with a huge sigh.  He fixes his cousin with a sceptical stare.

“You sure …that’s the tale you want to stick with Heyes? It’s Charlie being hung in the morning that’s keeping you awake? It ain’t nothin’ to do with $100,000 in gold bars…you sure you don’t want Charlie to light our way to a dusty desert …to dig up some gold?”

“No! Of course, not…”

Heyes gives Kid a scowl, as he watches Kid thump his pillow and settle the curly head for sleep again.

“Well like Shaky said….” mumbles Kid, “Out, out brief…LAMP…I gotta sleep. I had enough of Shaky when you and Soapy made me sit through BOTH halves of it in Frisco…”

Heyes folds the book in his lap, looking troubled.

“No… no… We discussed it … We decided… No, I just thought it was fitting …what Shakespeare said…about life being full of sound and fury, signifying nothing… It’s such a waste….”

“What is?” Kid’s eyes shoot open again and his eyes roll as he realises Heyes wants to talk about something.  

His head stays firmly on the pillow this time.  

“What is? Charlie being hung …or $100,000 in gold bars being buried in a desert till Judgement Day?”

“Well… both…” says Heyes, squirming just a little at admitting to himself that he was thinking more of the gold.

“Hah! I knew it…”

Kid shook his curls into his pillow.  

“You can’t sleep thinking about Charlie’s buried gold, can you?  You should ‘ve just let him tell us where he’s buried it.  Don’t mean we have to go dig it up … not ourselves anyway … We could just tell Lom where it’s buried… He could go out there …dig it up …keep us out of it…”

Heyes slowly looks in wonder at the back of Kids red Henley-adorned shoulders, the beginnings of a huge larcenous, gold-fuelled grin starting to play across his face.

“Yes we could…” his eyes sparkle.

Kid smiles, burying his head further into his pillow.  He knows exactly what effect his words are having on his wakeful partner.  

Gold and Heyes:

They went together like steak and potatoes.  He didn’t need to turn and see Heyes. He could practically hear the cogs working in that big brain of his, as he convinced himself that they would only go find out the location of the gold, just so it wouldn’t go to waste.  

He stifled a chuckle.

“Yes… that’s right Kid… That wouldn’t be dishonest… “ argued Heyes, more to himself than Kid.  “Not just knowing where the gold is… That would be like some sort of public service… Saving it from going to waste … From signifying nothing … just like Shakespeare was saying.  And it would make Charlie happy… before…”

Kid had to bite the pillow to stop from laughing and interrupting the genius’ efforts to justify his intentions of saving Charlie’s gold from obscurity just for the public good.  He wondered if he should just get up and get dressed now, or wait and enjoy more of Heyes’ tortured reasoning.

---oooOOOooo---

Out on the street not long after that

“OK Heyes … you go to the window … I’ll keep watch… It’s gonna be dawn real soon … so don’t talk too long…”

Colt drawn, Kid watched the street as Heyes walked up to the window and whispered.

“Charlie… Charlie… It’s Heyes… You awake?”

“Well I am now… Why’d you go have to wake me up… I was dreamin’… about this pretty little chanteusey… why she was …”

“Never mind about that now Charlie…”

Heyes whispered trying to motion to Charlie to keep his voice down.  

“Me and the Kid’s been thinkin’ about your gold going to waste… seems like a shame…”

“Now don’t you worry yourself about that no more Heyes…” says Charlie.  “I been doing some thinking of my own… and what you and the Kid were saying to me about the Governor …and him promising you amnesty…  Weren’t right fer me to tempt you like that… I was like that mean ol’ snake in the Garden of Eden…”

“You weren’t being no snake Charlie…” smiled Heyes.

“You and the Kid came to see me in my hour of need… and how’d I repay you …With temptation! … weren’t right … I see it now… Funny how things get clearer just before the end…”

“No Charlie … Me and the Kid … we talked it over …”

“I really appreciate you and the Kid sticking around for my hanging Heyes… you being on the dodge and all … Its more than I deserve after what I did …”

“But Charlie… the gold’s just sitting out there…”

“HEYES NO MORE TIME FER TALKING!”

Kid grabs Heyes’ arm pulling him from the window, back to the dark alley between the buildings.

“Deputy on his rounds.” He whispers pointing back to the street with his chin. “I sure hope you left Charlie enough room… to fill with directions …to that gold.”

Heyes looked like he may cry.

“Err… Kid….”

---oooOOOooo---

Iwanted to share this bit of feedback I had from cac on this challenge...because it really added to the tale and made me wish I'd thought of it..

Delightful. I would have liked to see something with Alice/Lady Macbeth, but I can’t figure out how I’d work her in that way. Thinking about Charlie and how he ate that watermelon: “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it; he died as one that had been studied in his death to throw away the dearest thing he owed, as ‘t were a careless trifle.”




#4..............A Christmas Tale............



---oooOOOooo---

Under the Tree

---oooOOOooo---

She sat with her back to the tree.  She allowed herself a small tight smile.  She’d beaten him to it.  She was late herself, seemed he was later.  He did have the limp and the stick.  That didn’t help him get around too quick, she supposed.  She’d forgive him.  Who was she kidding, she’d forgive him anything.

She sighed out her anxiety.  So much humanity in one place was unnerving.  How did this many people even exist, let alone descend on this city square on a cold December evening.  All around her people hustled.  They hustled so much, their bustle could barely keep up.  They had broad optimistic smiles on their faces, and looked like they were rushing to launch themselves into the next century, like they couldn’t wait for this one to be over.  She wanted to hang on to every second given to her.  Savour every passing heartbeat.

She’d never been so happy.

Behind her, the tree was lit and dressed with every bright confection that could be crammed onto its branches.  It soared into the indigo sky, topped by a beatific angel.  The angel smiled at the crowds below. It glowed a little brighter at the sight of a tall, limping Adonis, apologising his way through the crowd, with a touch to his hat for every passing lady.

She looked at the boxes of delight piled at her feet.  Her feet.  She wriggled her toes in the tight shoes, and dreamed of stretching them into warm earth.  Bliss.  Would he understand the gift?  It had been expensive and probably had cost them the price of a meal or two.  He valued food.  Would he think her foolish? She glanced into the bag and the gift smiled back at her.  

No, he’d see it.

The crowd parted just a little, and he got a glance of her.  His heart leapt and tears sprang to his eyes.  He blinked hard and smiled, touching his hat as he ‘Merry Christmas-ed’ the nearest passing family.  His hurt and his emotions were too close to the surface still.  If he took his eye off them for a second, they would flood forward and drown him.  

He swallowed them down.

He filled his heart with the sight of her.  He felt guilty to be this happy, but joy too, was welling deep within him.  The combination of secret grief and present joy, was a cocktail for confusion.  He let himself only exist in the moment.  The turn of the century, the beginning of a new era, the cusp of a great future, these things were nothing to him.  She was everything now.

She looked up and there he was.

“You’re late.”

He stood in front of her and smiled, drinking her in.

“What?”

A small adorable crease appeared above her nose.

“Oh …just lookin’.  Don’t get to see an angel …under the tree too often …I can look, can’t I?”

He folded himself onto the bench at her side and looked back at the crowds.  Neither of them were crowd people, but there was a reassuring anonymity in crowds for him.  The mass of humanity lent him cover, space and time to heal up, his body at least, but what did she get from this sea of humanity he’d dragged her to.  This must be overwhelming for her, frightening.  He wrapped a protective arm over her shoulder.

“You find everything you wanted?” he asked.

She nodded.

“You were late.”

“Well I had a little shopping to do myself” he smiled.  “What‘d you get?”

She reached into the nearest package, brought out his gift and placed it in his hands.

“Ohhh…” he chuckled, returning the ursine smile.

He let his hands explore the long articulated limbs of the bear, fingers running through its silky, dark fur.  He held the smiling glass eyed face close to his own, and said hello, letting his thumb and trigger finger play with the silver stud button in the bears ear.  

He laughed again.

“You don’t think it’s stupid, do you? I mean I could take it back….”

“No … its perfect. It's perfect... Just like you...”

They sat together in quiet thought, her head resting on his shoulder, the bear cradled in his arms.

The bear.

The bear had a story all of its own.

---oooOOOooo---

He’d crawled into that cabin, leaking blood fast, despite the cold.  He didn’t remember much about that black day.  The ambush. Heyes. The bullets.  The blood.  The pain. The flight.  All one terrible tangle of heart stopping emotion. No clarity. No true memories, just images and smells, screaming and gun fire, horses galloping, first two, then one, then…. No… he couldn’t face that yet.

Then he’d crawled to the cabin.  

When had she found him? Was she there at the beginning?  Or was it really at the end?

She was there when that melt bear came calling, looking for food, needing to feed her young.  She was there.  She was waving a fiery torch at the window.  She was Smoking the door to fright the bear.  She was stood with his rifle at her shoulder, defying the terrible howling and the scraping of claws at the oak planking.  

She’d laid that mess of wilderness, in a twist of twigs on his chest, and started that chant of life and hope, that had filled her with the courage to face down that grisly.

She was there.  Like some miracle sent from heaven.  

When the raging had stopped and the snow had fallen so deep, she’d stayed, and they’d found some consolation in each other’s arms.

Death and life.  

The raw stuff that you only see at the edges.  

They’d seen that together and here they were on Christmas eve…

---oooOOOooo---

He reached into his jacket pocket and took out a small tooled leather box, coloured in light blue.  He opened it and showed her the chip of ancient crystal, cut and shaped to a multi-faceted gemstone, supported on a band of gold, sat on a deep blue velvet cushion.

“A gift?”

“Yeah …It means I never want to let you go …It means you’re gonna have to get used to having me around…”

She looked at the gift, and back to the bear.  She wasn’t entirely sure, but guessed that he’d spent quite a bit more than she had.  He couldn’t complain if they didn’t have enough to buy food for a while.  She smiled up at him.

“I like it.”

“Good …I’m glad… And … I like …erm …her” he said, trying to poke the bear back down into one of the bags.

She laughed, pulling the bear back into his arms.  

“I knew you’d understand” she smiled into his slightly embarrassed face. “After all, your son will be named for the bear …that was there at his beginning.”

She smiled enigmatically, her dark eyes twinkling above her dimpled cheeks, as she watched the penny fall in the blue sapphires she come to call home.

“You mean you’re…?”

He looked at her belly and opened those azure pools in wonder.

“You’re…?”

“Yes. It is a wonderful gift we have been given this Christmas, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is… It is…”

He pulled her into his arms, squashing the bear between their bellies.

“It’s the best gift I ever had…” he squeaked at the top of her head, tears flowing unchecked down his cheeks.

---oooOOOooo----

“Awww … I knew you’d like it” beamed Heyes.  “And, you’re welcome partner…”

“Huh??????”

Kid stared at his partner sat on the other end of the bench.  Heyes was in his trail gear, but the shabby be-concho-ed hat, the blue grey winter coat, the tan pants, the heeled riding boots, even the spurs… all had a white glow about them, and there was no tied down gun.

Heyes sat cross-legged, looking at Kid from behind the girl, beaming with angelic smugness.

“You liked my first Heaven-side Hannibal Heyes plan then, did you? I always knew you had faith in me Kid … You didn’t think the bear was too much?  I had to get you two together somehow …and quickly …if little Hannibal…ooops....”

Heyes held a gloved hand to his lips with glee.

“The bear? That was you???”

Kids face contorted into a mass of confusion.

“You really like it, don't you?” questioned the girl.

“Erm …. yes, yes …of course I do….” reassured Kid, cuddling the girl to his chest. “Little Hannibal????” he whispered to his beaming partner over her head.

“Mmmmm?” she sighed, breathing in her man and cuddling in.

“Erm … Kid. You may want to keep it down a bit.”

Heyes pointed to the crowd around them.  He raised his eyebrows and pursed up his lips.

“Oh …They can’t see me …”

Heyes waved in the face of a passing lady, that had stopped to share a disapproving look for the lovers on the bench under the Christmas tree.

“Can't see … or hear me… CAN YOU!” laughed Heyes, shouting at the lady.

The lady jumped a little as if she'd been goosed. Heyes smiled in wonder and shrugged at Kid.

“Well ...None of them has up to now. Only you Kid …only you…”

He folded his arms and nodded his head towards Kid’s fiancée.  Kid had gone slightly rigid.

“You may want to give her a bit more air Kid.  Pregnant ladies need to breath…”

---oooOOOooo---


I really liked Randal and Hopkirk (deceased) and I think it would be fun to explore a few more stories based on this set up.....Heyes, as a married Kid's, ghost partner... lots of scope for fun there.



cowboy?

Well that's my 2016 output up to date.  Who knows what 2017 will bring but I hope I get to write some more AS&J fanfic.....its so much fun!


cowboy?
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