Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 February 2010

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Penski

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Join date : 2013-09-26

20170105
PostFebruary 2010

"I Fold" Starter Paragraph

What would make Heyes fold with a royal flush in his hands and a $25,000 pot?



From beneath the brim of the silver-trimmed, black hat, dark eyes rested on the $25,000 pot. The player’s shrewd gaze moved to his cards. A royal flush. And, yup, flushes were being played; he’d checked. With a rueful, dimpled smile, he took the only choice he had.

“I fold.”


Jim Plummer grinned as he put his hand on the table. “Three of a kind…I win!” he exclaimed as he raked the large pot towards him.

Heyes sighed and threw down his cards. “I’m done for the night.” He walked over to the bar and ordered a whiskey.

George stood next to him and ordered a beer. “You had a winnin’ hand, didn’t you?”

“Does it matter?” Heyes glanced sideways at the oldest member of the Plummer gang.

“No…but you did the right thing. You’re learnin’.” George sipped his beer. “Bet that wasn’t easy to do.”

“Nope…it sure wasn’t.” Heyes swallowed the rest of the drink and walked outside. He looked up at the full moon hanging low in the sky. “Now if I had someone to back me up – watch my back…”

Few months earlier…

From beneath the brim of an old, beat-up hat, dark eyes rested on the $10,000 pot. The player’s shrewd gaze moved to his cards. A Full House. With a lofty, dimpled smile, he took the best choice he had.

“Full House.” Heyes dramatically laid out his cards on the table. “Read ‘em and weep, fellas!” he exclaimed as he raked the large pot towards him.

Jim Plummer glared at the youngest member of his gang as he slammed his losing hand on the table. He had been so sure he was going to win; he had a reputation of being the best poker player and half of that pot was his money.

“Anyone up for another hand?” asked a smug Heyes.

“I’m out.” Buck got up from the table.

Cresher joined him. “Me, too.”

George noticed the leader of the gang was beside himself with anger. “Think we better all call it a night, don’t you, Jim?”

“Yeah, tomorrow morning we’re going back to the Hole.” Plummer continued to stare angrily at the oblivious winner.

“Tomorrow? But I got money to spend now and I need some stuff and…”

“Don’t matter to me if you stay,” Plummer interrupted Heyes. He swallowed a shot of whiskey and added, “Matter of fact, I don’t care if you come back at all.” He put on his hat and left the saloon.

“Sheesh…what’s wrong with him?”

George patted the young man on the back. “Don’t like to lose, especially to a young cocky kid like yourself. See you back at the Hole.”

Heyes looked around the saloon, seeing who was left to drink with him and celebrate his big win. Jimmy Oswald, who introduced Heyes to Plummer and the gang’s gunslinger, was still at the bar talking to a pretty working girl.

“Hey Jimmy,” Heyes said as he approached him. “You going back with the rest tomorrow?”

Jimmy shrugged his shoulders and tightly hugged his gal for the night. “Guess so.”

“Why don’t you stay in town with me for a few days and we’ll go back later,” Heyes suggested to the man he considered a friend.

“Saw you won that big pot awhile ago. Gonna share it if I stay?”

“Sure…I have more than I know what to do with. Here’s a few hundred.”

“Few hundred? I was the one who introduced you to Plummer, didn’t I? That has to be worth at least a thousand.”

Heyes counted out a thousand dollars and handed it to Jimmy. “There. Now we’re even.”

Jimmy’s gal smiled and motioned over another young pretty saloon girl. “Heyes, is it?” He nodded. “Let me introduce you to my friend, Maggie. She’ll take real good care of you,” she said with a wink. “Maggie, this here is Heyes. We’re gonna enjoy bein’ with these two fellars.”

Maggie gave Heyes a hug and extra squeeze. “We sure are. You men done playin’ with those little old cards and ready to go upstairs and play?”

Heyes blushed as he allowed Maggie to lead him upstairs. “Keep the drinks comin’ up for these two, Joe,” Maggie told the bartender as they disappeared into a room.

The next morning, Heyes woke up in a strange room with a girl next to him in bed. His head throbbed as he tried to remember what happened the night before and what her name was. Sarah? Mary? No…Mar…Maggie! He slowly eased himself out of bed and put his clothes on.

As he strapped his gun belt on, Maggie stirred. “Where ya goin’, hon?”

“Hmm…thought I’d get some coffee and breakfast, Miz…it’s Maggie, ain’t it?

She smiled and nodded. “Sure I can’t interest you in somethin’ else?”

“Ah, no ma’am. I think coffee’s what I need right now. But I thank ya for…for last night.” Heyes felt his face get flush.

“No need to thank me…just show me with a nice big tip how much you appreciated my handiwork.”

“Yes ma’am.” Heyes pulled out a roll of bills.

“Just place it on the dresser and I’ll see you tonight,” she mumbled as she rolled over to sleep a few more hours.

Heyes left the room and went across the street to the café. After a quick breakfast and coffee, he felt more like himself and headed for the general store.

With a pocket full of money, he shopped for everything he always wanted and, up to now, had been denied. The counter filled with high boots, several pairs of black and tan pants, dark blue and black shirts, a vest, socks and long johns, a warm jacket, sweets and cigars, and a black hat. Looking inside the glass counter, he found a headband of dark brown leather with silver diamond and ‘S’ shaped conchos. “That real silver?”

The elderly storekeeper watched the young man with worn clothes with interest. “Yep. Can I ask how you planning on paying for all of this?”

Heyes smiled. “Won me a big pot o’ money last night playing poker. Figured it’s about time I get some new clothes and boots. You got saddles, too, don’t you?”

“How much money did you win?”

“$10,000!” bragged Heyes.

“Well, in that case, think you need that hatband for this hat. Looks kinda plain without it. And I got saddles over here. This one is mighty comfortable, if you’re on a horse for a long period of time. And you might consider…”

Heyes left the store an hour later with an armload of merchandise and a promise that the rest would be delivered to his hotel room. He walked into the hotel lobby and asked for the biggest and nicest room available. When the desk clerk saw the roll of money, he asked if a bath in his room was needed. “That’d be great! Can you have it up there in an hour? And is there a barber in town?”

“Yep, John cuts hair and shaves customers in the store next to the bank. Can’t miss it. Here, let me carry your things up to your room.”

“Thanks, mister. Oh, and there’s more stuff coming from the store. Can you see it gets to my room?”

“Absolutely, there’s a charge, of course…”

“’Course. Here’s a ten and keep the change.”

An hour later, a clean-cut Heyes soaked in a bath, smoking a cigar. “This is the life. If Jed could only see me now…and Silky, too!”

Later in the afternoon, Heyes sat on the hotel’s porch reading a new book when Jimmy came up. “Well, look at you! What about buyin’ a friend a bath and some new clothes?”

Heyes looked up puzzled. “What happened to the money I gave you last night?”

“Spent it on what’s-her-name and a meal. Lost the rest playin’ poker.”

Shaking his head, Heyes pulled out a bundle of money and gave it to Jimmy. “Better stay away from cards; you don’t seem to be too good at it.”

After a few days of frivolous spending and playing high-stakes poker, Heyes and Jimmy left the town and headed back to the Hole, with new horses and just a couple hundred dollars in Heyes’ pocket.

Plummer watched Jimmy and Heyes ride into camp with fancy horses wearing new saddles and bridles. Plummer also took notice that their riders also sported new clothes. His eyes became dark with jealous rage. “Jimmy, over here, now!”

Jimmy handed his horses reins to Heyes and went over to Plummer. “Whaddaya want?”

“Sending Heyes on a scouting trip for the next job…in Diamond Springs.”

“Diamond Springs!” Jimmy looked shocked. “But that’s where that Sheriff Jackson is. He’s one mean ‘n ornery old coot and mighty suspicious of strangers. No one ever tries jobs in his town.” Pausing, he added, “Why Heyes?”

“Because he’s young and won’t raise too much suspicion. And because I said so.”

Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, you’re the boss.”

“That’s right” Plummer grinned sardonically. “Just send him to check out the town and bank. No need to worry him by warning him about Jackson. Understand?”

“I do now,” Jimmy chuckled.

After a quick meal, Heyes was back on the trail to Diamond Springs, pleased with his assignment of scouting the town. He was going to make sure he did the job right and make Plummer happy he had chosen Heyes to handle this errand.

First thing Heyes noticed as he rode into town was a sheriff watching his every move. Nodding and giving his friendliest smile, he headed to the saloon for a drink and listen to the local gossip. He walked up to the bar and ordered a beer. While taking his first sip, the sheriff came in and stood beside him.

“What business do you have in Diamond Springs, boy?”

Caught off guard, Heyes choked slightly on his drink. He needed a good excuse to stay in the town to check it out so the excuse of ‘passing through’ wouldn’t work. The sheriff noted his brief hesitation. “Looking for a job, sir. Know of any in the area?”

“What kind of work are you looking for?” questioned the sheriff.

“Just about anything…legal that is,” Heyes answered as he took another sip of beer, trying to appear nonchalant.

The sheriff furrowed his eyebrows. “You have money?”

“Oh yes, sir.”

“Where’d you get it?”

“From my last job.”

“Which was?”

Heyes gulped. “Some ranching work and then I added to it a little more playing poker.”

The lawman nodded. “Sheriff Jackson…I pride myself in the fact that outlaws stay away from here. I’ll be watching you, Mr…?”

“Wilson…John Wilson.” Heyes made a quick mental note--he was now John Wilson while in this town.

“Mr Wilson, you step one foot out of place and you’ll be in jail. Understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

The sheriff turned and walked out of the saloon. The bartender came over to refill the beer.

“Sheesh, does he greet all strangers like that?” Heyes inquired.

“Yep, and the town likes it that way. Don’t have no crime since Sheriff Jackson came to town.”

Heyes finished his beer and went over to the hotel, asking for a front room to watch the town and note any patterns he observed.

The next morning when the bank opened, Heyes went inside to watch the tellers and observe the routine while exchanging a large bill for smaller ones. When he turned around to leave, Sheriff Jackson walked into the building. Heyes quickly left and went back to his room. No wonder no crime happened under Sheriff Jackson’s watch, he thought. He couldn’t go back to the Hole with a ‘not possible’ report to Plummer. He had to come up with a flaw or a way around the sheriff.

Throughout the day, Heyes went to the different establishments in town--store, café, saloon and livery--to hear gossip or news that would help with Plummer’s planning of a job. Frequently, he saw the sheriff observing him. In the evening, he went into the saloon and sat down to play poker. Heyes made sure to not win too many hands; he certainly didn’t need to draw anymore attention to himself. Sheriff Jackson was suspicious enough already.

Late in the evening, a drunk called Heyes a cheat. Heyes tried to pacify the man, but he became belligerent and the bartender called for the sheriff.

Sheriff Jackson walked up to Heyes. “Are you a cheat?”

“No sir. I haven’t even won that much.”

The other poker players would not take sides so the sheriff took both men to jail.

“But why me?” Heyes tried to shake off the firm grasp on his arm. “I didn’t do…”

The lawman grabbed tighter. “Now I have you for resisting arrest. Care to add to the charges?”

“No sir,” Heyes mumbled as they walked into the jail

Jackson opened a cell and forcefully shoved him inside. “You better watch yourself, boy.” He put the drunk in another cell and glared at the young man before leaving the office.

Heyes sat down on the bunk, rubbing his arm where a bruise was forming. “Sheesh…” He looked around and remembered back of when his cousin Jed was thrown in jail covering for him in a con job gone wrong. He considered the lock pick in his boot, but thought against using it not knowing when the sheriff would come back.

An hour later, Sheriff Jackson returned and unlocked the cell. He grabbed Heyes by the back of his neck and led him outside to a dark alley.

“Oww…dang it! That hurts!”

The sheriff slammed him into the side of a building. “You got a mouth on you, boy! I don’t like you and I don’t like you in MY town. Here’s your horse and your gear. You’re leaving now.”

“But I…”

Sheriff Jackson hit him in the jaw with his fist sending Heyes to the ground. Heyes felt himself being lifted up and put on his horse. Jackson slapped the horse’s rump and yelled, “Don’t let me see you in my town again!” The horse galloped out of town with Heyes barely hanging on.

A day later, Heyes shot his gun three times into the air at the entrance of the Hole. As he rode to the buildings, he noticed Plummer standing on the porch of his cabin smirking.

“Heyes, come here when you’re done with your horse.”

Dismounting, Heyes acknowledged the gang’s leader with a nod, wondering why he had an insolent smile on his face.

Few minutes later, Heyes walked over to the leader’s camp. Others had come out of the bunkhouse to watch. “About Diamond Springs, I don’t…”

Plummer chuckled. “Had a run in with Sheriff Jackson, I see.”

Heyes looked puzzled. “You know about Jackson? Then why…?”

“I don’t take too kindly to some know-it-all young pup making me look like a fool in front of the gang. You needed to be taught a lesson.”

“A fool in front…this ‘cause I beat you at poker?”

Plummer grinned. “You’re catching on.”

Heyes turned and walked away, following the creek for a while. He sat on a boulder and threw pebbles into the water.

George came down the path and coughed.

“Hey, George,” Heyes responded. “Did you know?”

“We all know to stay outta Diamond Springs. Sheriff Jackson is one ornery lawman.”

"Seemed like he knew...was watching me the whole time."

George joined Heyes by sitting on the boulder. “You stayin’?”

Heyes shrugged his shoulders. “Got no place else to go.” He paused for a moment. “I can stay, can’t I?”

George smiled. “Sure, I’d stay outta Plummer’s way for awhile. Just gotta always make the leader look good; even if it makes you look bad."

A few months later…

After a successful job, the Plummer gang was celebrating in town. Heyes found himself in a poker gang with a growing pot. Eventually, everyone folded, but Heyes and Plummer. The pot grew to $25,000. Heyes glanced at his hand—a royal flush.
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