Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 June 2010

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Penski

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Posts : 119
Join date : 2013-09-26

20170105
PostJune 2010

Bad Thing Happened to Us in Wichita

When guessing who is Harry might be, Heyes asks if they know him from a bad thing that happened to them in Wichita. Kid remembers what happened.



The Kid Remembers Wichita

Me and Heyes should’ve know it was too good to be true. To be honest, I had to talk Heyes into the job, but two pretty gals, especially that Lorraine, on a ranch seemed like a good thing at the time. And we sure enjoyed watchin’ ‘em coolin’ off in the water…so much we let down our guard.

We realized that too late…after the click of the gun and the orders to put our hands up. Couldn’t see nobody, but that voice sounded kinda familiar – whatcha call them men that sing higher…a tenor with kinda a Southern accent. Heyes said a bad thing happened to us in Wichita, tryin’ to guess who the man was. You can say that again, though neither of us got shot at or beatin’ up or even arrested.

We were young and new at outlawin’ with a pocket full of money for the first time. Instead of spendin’ a cold winter at Devil’s Hole, Heyes came up with an idea of goin’ off and meetin’ up with the gang in the spring.

“Where you thinkin’ we should spend the winter, Heyes?” I asked him as we mounted our horses and rode out of the Hole on a chilly November morning.

“Thought we’d check out the poker playing on the Chisholm Trail. Could make extra money and live good for a few months.”

I reined in my sorrel. “Go back to Kansas?” We hadn’t been back since we ran away from the Home.

Heyes stopped and turned around to face me. “NOT Kansas; Dodge City or Wichita.”

“Ain’t they in Kansas?”

“Well, yeah,” Heyes reluctantly agreed, but quickly added, “but we aren’t going near there.”

I knew where there was. Heyes was talking about Pleasant Grove near Lawrence. That’s where we grew up. I didn’t wanna go back there. Relieved, I spurred my horse on. “That’s a long way off.”

“Yeah, I thought we’d trade in our horses and gear for train tickets once we get to Denver.”

So that’s what we did. Took a train into Wichita, a cow town and railroad stoppin’ for the Chisholm Trail. The round-ups were pretty much done when we got there with just a few stray ones comin’ in. Town was full of drovers with money to spend. And people say outlaws are rowdy. Pffttt…they haven’t been in a town swarmin’ with cowboys. Lots of gamblin’ and drinkin’ and saloon gals, especially in a part of Wichita called Delano. ‘Sides saloons, there were plenty of dance halls around. For money, you can dance with a gal and maybe more, if you’re lucky. I’m not much good at dancin’ so I don’t go there.

There was law in the town, a sheriff by the name of Wyatt Earp. He fancied himself as an “experienced gun-toter”, but it seemed to me he was more of a gambler. Heard later he almost ended his own life in a strange shootin’ accident. While sittin’ in the back room of the Custom House saloon, his gun slipped from his holster. He was dumb enough to leave the hammer restin’ on a loaded chamber. When the gun struck his chair, it discharged sendin’ a .45 slug through his coat. Heyes kept me steered away from Earp.

Anyway, me and Heyes stayed for a few weeks with no problems. Got into a routine of wakin’ late, our big meal in the middle of the day and then poker at different saloons in the evening. Blended in best we could with the drovers and avoided the law. Not that we were wanted for much back then. Shoot, I don’t even recall if there were wanted posters on us yet.

One night in the Custom House saloon…yep, the same one Earp had his accident…we was playin’ poker in a room full of cowboys at the same table. Somethin’ we avoid doin’ if we can for this very reason I’m about to tell you. It was a Saturday night and when I say a room full of cowboys, I mean a room FULL of cowboys. There wasn’t much movin’ room. Made me nervous. Started out fine, but around 11…

“You two are cheatin’!” shouted a drunk with at our table. The others around agreein’.

I rolled my eyes and looked at Heyes. He put on his best smile and told ‘em, “Sorry, fellas, but we’re just havin’ a lucky night, that’s all.”

“No, you two’s cheatin’…hafta be to be winnin’ so much.”

“Lady Luck’s just bein’ good to us tonight,” I piped in, hopin’ to calm the drovers at the table.

Heyes offered them a round of drinks, but they refused and started gettin’ others in the room against us. Me and Heyes pocketed our money and tried to stand to leave, but the crowd wouldn’t let us. It was mighty temptin’ to draw my gun, but a look from Heyes and I knew I shouldn’t. Sometimes I hate it when it seems like he can read my mind. Then again, sometimes I’m relieved he knows what I’m thinkin’. I can tell what he’s thinkin’ most times, too.

A large man walked through the crowd to our table. In a voice that I guess would be a tenor and with an accent, he asked what was goin’ on. The way the others respected him, he must’ve been a trail boss. Men told him we were cheatin’.

He stared us down with what should’ve been an intimidatin’ look and asked, “Are you cheatin’?”

“No sir!” we answered.

“Just having a lucky night,” Heyes added.

Trail boss looked around at the other men. Seemed like all eyes were on me and Heyes. So much for blendin’ with the crowd. “Anyone see them cheating?”

Lookin’ around the room, I was relieved that most were shakin’ their heads no.

A path from the door to the table opened as Sheriff Wyatt Earp made his way to investigate the disturbance. “Any problems here?”

Me and Heyes shook our heads. “No, sir, Sheriff. No problem at all.”

“Just checking out if these men were cheating at poker, Sheriff Earp,” the trail boss added.

“Were you?” the sheriff asked as he studied us. Took all I had not to fidget under his glare.

“No sir!” we said together.

The sheriff turned to the trail boss. “Looks like you have the situation under control. Call me if you need me.”

The boss nodded and waited for the sheriff to leave before looking at his drunken man at the table. “Why are you accusing them of cheating then?”

“Why they’re both winnin’ all the pots!”

“Okay, you two. Pull out your money and let me have it. Eugene, get their guns until we have this matter settled.”

With the crowd on his side, we didn’t have much of a choice. I gave Heyes a look and he shrugged his shoulders. We let a man take our guns and emptied our pockets.

“What’s your names…your real names?”

Like I said, we weren’t famous outlaws, yet, so Heyes didn’t see the need to lie since we were surrounded by a crowd against us. “Hannibal Heyes and this here is Jed Curry.”

He nodded. “Couldn’t make up a name like that. Where are you boys from?”

“No where special; we like traveling around and picking up odd jobs.” I usually let Heyes do most of the talkin’. Even back then we had the agreement he does the talkin’ and I do the gun coverin’.

The trail boss counted our money. “Seems to me, boys, you’ve won enough in Wichita and it’s time to move on. And I think you can afford to buy a round of drinks.” He pulled out a couple hundred dollars and handed the rest back to us.

Heyes made a move for the door while I held out my hand for my gun.

“Where you think you’re going?”

Heyes gave the trail boss a quizzical look. “Thought you said it was time to move on.”

“Oh, we’ll be escorting you out – on the next train, right boys?”

Next thing we knew, we were grabbed and half carried to the train depot. Heyes tried to reason with them the whole way there. A cattle train was fillin’ with water and wood. A door was opened.

“You gotta be kidding!” Heyes said as he was hoisted into the cattle car.

I joined him a moment later. “Our guns!” I shouted as the door was being slammed shut and locked from the outside.

The trail boss nodded. “Give them back their guns.”

Our guns were tossed into the car and landed in a steamin’ pile…of you know what.

I picked up my gun by the butt with two fingers. “Sh**!”

Heyes grinned. “Yep, that’s what it is.” He picked up his gun, too, and we made our way, past the cows, to a fairly clean corner of the car.

“Look on the bright side, Kid.”

I grabbed his arm and jerked him toward me. I pointed to a tail that was raisin’. “What bright side, Heyes?” I glared at the cow makin’ a new steamin’ pile and coughed.

“Least there’s no bulls in here that I can see—just cows.”

“That the bright side?”

“That and it appears we’re heading west. A free ride in the right direction.”

I rolled my eyes at my partner. Sometimes he can be annoyin’ly optimistic.

So we spent the next 24 hours in a car with cattle, puttin’ up with their belchin’ and dodgin’ their steamin’ piles and more.

When the train finally stopped, we shouted and pounded on the door.

Finally someone unlock the latch and opened the door. “What the…”

We jumped out of the car smelly and dirty and thirsty and hungry and tired.

The man chuckled. “Bet you boys got a cowboy send-off in Wichita, huh?”

Heyes scraped the bottom of his boots on the boardwalk. “Guess you can say that. Where are we?”

“Welcome to Dodge City – 150 miles west of Wichita. Have a no gun ordinance here, so you’ll be wanting to turn in your guns at the sheriff’s office.”

I gave Heyes a look.

“We ain’t staying. Where’s the livery where we can buy horses and saddles?”

An hour later, we were riding out of Dodge City, heading west, after a meal and buying supplies.

I spurred my horse to ride next to him. “Not one of your better plans, Heyes.”

Heyes shrugged. “Well, anyone can have an off day, Kid. Guess I was having one when I thought of this plan to play poker on the Chisholm Trail…”

A voice that sounded like the trail boss brought me back to the present. “Never been to Wichita.”

When we turned around and saw it was Harry Wagoner…well, I was wishin’ it had been that trail boss in Wichita. Anyone but Harry. He’s trouble.
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