Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 October 2009

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Posts : 128
Join date : 2013-09-26

October 2009 Empty
PostOctober 2009


Thoughts of Jed haunt Heyes.

Thoughts of Jed

Click. The second tumbler fell into place and Heyes sighed as he made a mental note of what the number was. He could feel Big Jim Santana’s eyes boring into his back. He knew it was taking longer than normal to open this safe and that his time was almost up. He started back to the first number…then to the second number…then slowly around the wheel while listening for the third tumbler to open.

George walked up to the railcar and peered inside. “What’s taking so long? Train’s due into town in 10 minutes.”

“Hannibal, it’s time!” Big Jim stated. “Step aside so we can open it with dynamite.”

“No!” Heyes exclaimed with more authority than he meant. Big Jim glared at him and Heyes realized he had stepped out of line. He sighed. “Sorry. Can you give me two more minutes? I’m almost there.”

“Two more minutes and then we use dynamite.”

Heyes was having difficulty concentrating. It should be an easy safe to open; he cracked a few of this type before, but the safe wasn’t singing as usual. Heyes took a deep breath and held it as he again went back to the first number…then to the second number…then slowly around the wheel…click. Heyes released the breath he was holding and grinned as he pulled down the lever and swung open the door.

Big Jim walked over to the safe with a carpet bag and started stuffing the money into the bag. “It’s about time. We will talk about this when we get back.”

Heyes lost his grin as he jumped down from the railcar and walked to his horse. He was frustrated with himself. Why did he have such a problem concentrating today? He loved nothing more than the challenge of cracking open a safe…hearing the safe’s song as he gently opened her.

Big Jim jumped from the railcar with a loaded carpet bag and walked to the horses. “Mount up and let’s get out of here!” he ordered his gang. The gang members abandoned their positions and mounted their horses. Soon they were on their way back to Devil’s Hole.

As soon as they returned, Big Jim yelled as he entered the leader’s cabin. “Hannibal, now!” Heyes dismounted and handed his reins to George, who offered to take care of his horse. Dragging his feet, Heyes felt like a child about to be scolded as he entered the cabin.

“What happened back there?”

“Well, I opened the safe and…”

“That is not what I’m talking about and you know it! What took you so long this time?”

“I don’t know, Jim.” Heyes took off his hat and ran a hand through his hair. “I had a hard time concentratin’. My mind was wanderin’.”

“I have seen you open safes before much faster. You will not take so long to open it next time. Figure out what is bothering you and fix it so you can concentrate. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You may go.”

Heyes started walking toward the bunkhouse, but changed direction and followed the creek to a clearing. He sat on a boulder and reflected about what could be bothering him to keep him from concentrating.

Jed! Jed immediately popped into his mind. But why now? Heyes pondered as he stared at a leaf floating down the creek. Birthday…it’s Jed’s birthday today. Gosh, he’s already nineteen years old and already has a reputation with his gun. Heyes shook his head. And he didn’t wanna be an outlaw. Outlaw…gunslinger…sheesh, what was the difference? Wonder where he is…what he’s doin’ on his birthday…if he’s still alive to celebrate his birthday. Well, at least he knew why he had a hard time concentrating on the job today. Last he heard, Jed was now called Kid Curry and earning the reputation of Fastest Gun in the West. He was somewhere in Texas. Probably in trouble, knowing Jed. “Happy Birthday, little cousin…wherever you are!”

The sun had set while Heyes sat in the clearing and the night air became chilly. He shivered as he stood up and walked back to the bunkhouse for a cup of coffee.

* * * * *

Jed was in the middle of the street…two men were holding on to him…a gunfight challenge…Jed drew his gun…blood…chest…falling down dead…

Heyes sat up in bed frightened with his heart pounding, sweating and breathing heavily. It was just a nightmare, but the image haunted him. That’s how his cousin would die someday as a gunslinger. Someday the other guy would be faster than Jed and he would die in the middle of a street in some nameless town.

Heyes slowly controlled his breathing as he looked around the bunkhouse, hoping no one had seen him wake up because of a nightmare. Seeing no one awake, Heyes laid back down on his bunk.

“You better be okay, Jed,” he whispered as he rolled over on his side.

* * * * *

Heyes woke early and took a cup of coffee outside. As he watched the horses in the corral, he pictured the nightmare in vivid detail. Disturbed, he thought back to other times he had envisioned Jed in trouble and it had turned out to be true…times when thoughts of Jed haunted him.

He remembered the day of the raid after he had made the gruesome discovery of his family. Thoughts of Jed at his farm filled his head…he knew Jed needed him.

And then there was that time in the orphanage…

Rarely were Jed and Han apart from each other in the orphanage. They clung to each other after the murdering of their families. This afternoon was an exception to the norm. Jed’s chore was cleaning the classroom and Han’s chore was chopping wood. Jed agreed to come help Han stack the wood as soon as he was finished.

Han had just splintered a log when he thought he heard Jed scream out. He paused and listened while looking towards the path to the classroom. Not hearing anything else or seeing Jed on the path, Han went back to chopping the wood. Thoughts of Jed consumed him. Something was wrong…terribly wrong.

Han dropped the axe and ran to the classroom. He rushed into the door startling the teacher writing tomorrow’s lessons on the board.

“Jed…” he barely got out as he tried to catch his breath. “Have you seen him?”

Mrs. Arndt looked annoyed. “Hannibal, don’t you ever rush in here like that again. Jed finished his chores and left about 15 minutes ago.”

Han ran out of the room and looked around. Where could Jed be? He checked their room, but there was no sign of him. He went to their favorite hideouts. He asked others if they had seen Jed. Han even sneaked a peak in the headmaster’s office to make sure he hadn’t gotten into trouble.

Han sat on a stoop and ran his hands through his hair as he mused. “Jed, where are you?” Images of a hurt Jed came to his mind…Jed under a tree. Han tried to picture where the tree was; it appeared to be in the orchard.

Straightaway, Han ran to the orchard and there, under an apple tree, lay a child’s body curled in a ball.

“Jed!” Heyes ran to the form and knelt down. “Jed? Jed, are you okay?”

A dirty tear-streaked face looked up at Han with pain in the blue eyes. “Han, I knew you’d come.”

“What happened?”

“Don’t be mad…I was hungry and saw a few big apples up high in the tree. I thought I’d get ‘em for us, but I fell.”

Han sighed and gently rolled his cousin onto his back. “I’m not mad. Where you hurtin’?” “

I gotta whompin’ headache and I can’t stand on my ankle.”

“How come you’re holdin’ your left arm?”

“My wrist is hurtin’ too. Hey, think I can get outta doin’ my multiplication table tomorrow?”

Han grinned. “Doubt Mrs. Arndt is gonna let you outta doin’ that. Can you walk back to the room if I help you?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Nope—you’re gettin’ too big to carry.” Han helped Jed stand and they hobbled back to their room.

“You gave me a real scare there, kid.”

“I wasn’t scared…I knew you’d find me.” “

Next time you decide to climb a tree, make sure I’m coverin’ your…”

“Heyes…Heyes!” George shouted as he shook him.

Heyes snapped out of his trance and dropped his coffee cup. “What? Sheesh, George…you could scare a person to death.”

“I’ve been tryin’ to get your attention for awhile now. Where was you?”

“Long time ago and far away.”

“Heyes, something’s botherin’ ya and ya better take care of it. It’s not just affectin’ you, but the whole gang when you’re not at your best. And yesterday, you wasn’t at your best.”

“I know, George. I know.”

“Wanna talk about it? I find that helps some.”

“It’s my cousin…I can’t get him outta my mind.”

“That why you had that nightmare last night?” Heyes looked down embarrassed that George knew. “Dang, Heyes…you sleep just a little more than me and that ain’t much. I know everything that goes on in that bunkhouse and don’t forget it.” George paused. “Nightmares just happen. Ain’t nothin’ we can control. Bad one last night, huh?”



“And he was in a gunfight. There was blood and someone died. I don’t know if it was him or the other guy.”

“Your cousin one to get into gunfights?”

“He wasn’t last I saw him. He’s good with a gun, mind you, best I’ve seen.”

“Hmm…when was last you seen him?”

“While ago when I joined Plummer’s gang. Jed didn’t wanna come.”

“You two close?”

“Were close…very close. Only kin I got left.”

“Know where he is? Sounds like you needta find him again and make sure he’s okay.”

“Last I heard he was in Texas getting a reputation of being fastest gun in the west,” Heyes replied.

“Texas, you don’t say. Fastest gun? Hey, your cousin ain’t Kid Curry, is it?”

Heyes looked up surprised. “You’ve heard of him?”

“Hell yeah. He’s better than good with a gun. I’ve heard he’s the best. Gun just jumps into his hand. Heyes, why don’t you go talk to Big Jim about bringin’ Kid back here. Gang could always use a good gunman. With him here, you wouldn’t hafta wonder about him.”

“Don’t know if he’d join the gang, George.”

“Don’t know if you don’t ask. Now go talk to Big Jim about Curry. Go on.” George pushed Heyes in the direction of the leader’s cabin.

“Okay…okay.” Heyes walked to the cabin and knocked on the door.

“Come in, Hannibal.”

“How’d you know it was me?” Heyes asked as he pushed the door open.

“I make it my business to know everything that goes on in this camp. Have you figured out what it is that’s been bothering you?”

“Yup—I’ve come to talk to you about it.”


“I have a cousin, my only kin left. I think something’s happened to him…I got this feelin’ something bad has happened to him.”

“And this is why you could not concentrate when opening the safe?”

Heyes nodded and looked down.

“And what do you plan to do about this?”

“I was thinkin’ of goin’ to find him and make sure he’s okay.” Heyes looked up. “I’d like to ask him to come back with me, if it’s okay with you.”

“And who is this cousin of yours that you think he might join the gang? Will I want him in my gang?”

“I think so…ever heard of Kid Curry?”

“Kid Curry? He is your cousin?”

Heyes nodded his head. “Yep!”

“Is he as fast as they say?”

“Maybe faster.”

“Hannibal, I think you should go find your cousin, Kid Curry, and make sure he is alright. Invite him to come back with you to Devil’s Hole.”

Heyes smiled. “Then I’ll leave as soon as I get my stuff packed.”

* * * * *

Jed’s nineteenth birthday certainly hadn’t turned out to be something to celebrate. In fact, he had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad birthday. While in town, he had been enjoying a beer in the saloon when a drunk Jed only knew as Donny staggered up to him for the purpose of calling him out for a gunfight. Jed had tried to reason with the man and even suggested a friendly shooting contest behind the saloon. The bartender saw what was happening and threw Donny and his friends out onto the street.

Later, when Jed left the saloon, Donny’s friends were waiting and forced him into the street where Donny was waiting to face him. Jed drew and fired, aiming for Donny’s hand, but the other man moved and the bullet slammed into his chest. The sheriff had seen everything and after talking to the bartender, knew that Jed had done everything he could to avoid the gunfight. The sheriff quietly suggested maybe Jed should ride out of town that afternoon. Feeling sick over the fact that he had killed a man, Jed did as the sheriff suggested.

He hadn’t ridden far when Donny’s friends stopped him on the road and forced him to dismount. They were going to revenge Donny’s murder by killing Jed, who barely escaped the drunken men, but not before they had given him a severe beating.

Jed slowed his horse to a walk after galloping for several miles to get away from Donny’s friends. He reined the horse to a wooded area and dismounted with a gasp. Holding his arm to his stomach, he winced in pain. His insides hurt from the kicking to his ribs, back and abdomen. He walked his horse into the trees so not to be seen from the trail and slumped down to the ground. In the last 24 hours he had killed a man and almost been killed himself. Gosh, he hurt! Jed ran his fingers through his hair and cradled his head, trying to hold back the tears of hurt and frustration. He wasn’t successful and several trailed down his cheeks as he whispered, “God, Heyes, I need you.”
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