Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 August 2010

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Penski

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Join date : 2013-09-26

20170105
PostAugust 2010

Dead Ringer

Kid Curry is dead! Heyes and Lom go to identify the body and, yep, if it's not the Kid, it's a dead ringer for him.



Heyes entered a café for a leisure breakfast in the town of Columbia and sat down. A waitress came over, poured him a cup of coffee and took his order. “Can I see that paper over there?” He pointed to a newspaper on a vacant table.

The young brunette looked in the direction. “Oh sure. Mr. Adams comes in early and reads the paper while he drinks his coffee. Usually leaves it for others to read.” She went to the table, got the paper and handed it to Heyes. “Here you are. Mr. Adams was talking about an outlaw being captured,” she said as she walked out of the dining room into the kitchen.

Heyes took a sip of coffee, set it down and opened the folded newspaper.

Kid Curry Dead

It was a good thing he had already set the cup down as his hands were shaking so badly he probably would have dropped it.

Jedediah “Kid” Curry was captured and killed by the famous bounty hunter, Lou Nelson, on Monday. Nelson said he had been trailing the outlaw outside of Beaverton and finally captured him near Whiskeytown. The outlaw denied being the famed Kid Curry and put up a struggle. He was killed during the fight by Nelson. The bounty hunter brought in his victim to the sheriff of Whiskeytown for the $20,000 reward.

Kid Curry was wanted, dead or alive, for robbing the South Pacific Railroad, the Union Pacific, and numerous small railroads and banks. His partner, Hannibal Heyes, is still at large.

Curry’s body will be on display at the Whiskeytown jail until Friday, when it will be buried after being properly identified by Wyoming authorities for the reward.

Heyes closed his eyes and rested his head in his hands. Beaverton…Kid probably was near that area on Monday on his way to deliver a package in the town of West Bend. “No…it can’t be you!” he whispered. Feeling nauseous and his hunger forgotten, he left the diner to send a telegram.

Walking into the telegraph office, Heyes noticed two clerks behind the counter, an older man training a younger one. “I need to send a telegram…”

The older one nudged the young man to take the message at the counter. Pulling out a piece of paper, the clerk licked the end of his pen, looked up and smiled. “Ready.”

“To Sheriff Lom Trevors, Porterville, Wyoming. Jones dead? Going to Whiskeytown. J Smith.”

The clerk added up the words. “That’ll be 25 cents.”

Heyes nodded and handed the man a quarter. “It’s urgent the message goes out right away.”

The elderly man smiled. “I’ll send it out now.” He took the paper and began tapping on the key.

Heyes checked out of the hotel and went to the livery to get his bay. As he rode past the telegraph office on his way out of town, the young clerk stepped out into the street.

“Mr. Smith…Mr. Smith… you have a reply.”

Heyes reined in his horse and took the proffered message. “Much obliged.” The brief message was from Lom. ‘Meet you in Whiskeytown.’ A sigh of relief escaped as Heyes felt a small measure of comfort that he wasn’t going to face this horrific situation alone.

As he traveled, Heyes’ mind was consumed by memories of his partner.


He smiled at the small blond fishing by his side when they were kids.

He wiped away a tear that escaped as he remembered burying the Curry family and his own.

He shook his head at the memories of Valpraiso Home, running away and trying to survive.

He chuckled thinking about his partner’s appetite and the years at Silky’s house.

He frowned at the fight that separated them.

He grinned as he thought about their reunion a few years later and joining the gang.

He reflected back to the Devil’s Hole days and becoming the famous outlaws.

He marveled at the numerous fast draws…the gun and Kid’s hand seeming as one.

He recalled the day Kid asked what amnesty meant and the quest to achieve it. And now…and now it was all gone.


That night Heyes rested in a grove of trees. His thoughts turned into nightmares. He was burying the Curry family, but this time the Kid lay at the bottom of the grave. “NO!” he screamed and sat up, looking around in the darkness. He shivered in the cool night air; the dream had seemed so real. Throwing off his blanket, he retrieved a bottle of whiskey from his saddlebag and took a sip.

At noon the next day, Heyes rode into Whiskeytown and boarded his horse. A line of people stood in front of the jail gawking at the dead outlaw in a coffin on the boardwalk. The circus atmosphere sickened him, yet the need to know if it was indeed his partner consumed him. He stood in the line waiting his turn. The closer he got to the coffin, the more nauseous he felt. When he got a glimpse of a familiar blue shirt and curly, blond hair, he hurried out of the line and around the corner where he became sick to his stomach. “No, Kid,” he whispered in anguish. “It’s not supposed to end like this.”

Taking a deep breath, Heyes walked to the saloon. He bought a glass of whiskey and downed it. He bought another and sat in a dark corner of the room, not paying attention to anything. He had a few more drinks, trying to forget what was displayed in front of the jail.

A man with a silver badge approached the table. “Smith, you look like hell.”

Heyes looked up, frowning for a moment, trying to place the man. “Lom. Wanna drink?”

“Looks like you had enough. Did you get a room yet?”

Taking a few second to answer, Heyes shook his head. Did you see…did you see the circus outside?”

Lom nodded. “Is it him? “Is it the Kid?” Lom’s piercing gaze held as he asked, “Did you look?”

Heyes shook his head. “Couldn’t. Why’d you come? Not just for me.”

“Governor asked me to come identify the body.”

“Oh…”

“And I wanted to see how you were doing.” Lom took the full glass in front of Heyes and took a swallow. “Not so good, I see.”

Heyes shrugged and looked down. “Can’t be him.”

“Where was he? Were you two together?”

“No. I just got back from a delivery and was in Columbia waiting for him. He had a package to deliver in West Bend.”

“So he was in the area.”

Heyes nodded.

Lom put down the glass. “Well, let’s get rooms and get cleaned up. I have a job to do.” He took hold of Heyes’ arm and helped him up.

An hour later, Lom knocked on a hotel door. “Smith, open up.”

Heyes got off his bed and answered the door.

“You didn’t clean up. Wash up…you’re coming with me.”

“To the jail?”

“Yep.” Lom poured water from the pitcher into the matching basin. He opened the saddle bags on the table and pulled out a clean shirt and razor. “I said wash up and then put this on.”

“I can’t go, Lom.”

“You have to, Heyes. You have to acknowledge Kid’s death and say good-bye.”

Heyes turned away, eyes brimming with tears, and splashed water on his face. “I can’t.”

“You need to. Maybe it’s not even the Kid. Either way, you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t go and say good-bye.”

Lom sat on the chair and stared out the window as he waited for Heyes to shave and clean up.

Heyes faced Lom as he put on the clean shirt. “And go down to the sheriff’s office…Hi, I’m Hannibal Heyes and I’d like to see if that dead outlaw is my partner and say good-bye?”

Lom stood up and pinned a deputy badge on Heyes. “No. Now you’re my deputy who last saw Kid Curry alive and can best identify whether the body is that of Curry or not. Ready?”

Around the dinner hour, a reluctant Heyes followed Lom down the stairs and out into the street. The crowd of people was gone—the coffin no longer displayed in front of the jail. Lom opened the door and waited for Heyes to enter before walking into the sheriff’s office.

“Sheriff Walker?” After a nod, Lom shook hands with the lawman and continued, “I’m Sheriff Lom Trevors from Porterville. The governor sent me to officially identify the body of Kid Curry. And this is one of my men who was recently in a posse that got a good look at Curry, Deputy Smith. He’ll be helping me.”

Heyes had been glancing around the jail during the introductions, taking in the two familiar wanted posters, when he heard his name. He took off his hat and offered his hand to the sheriff behind the desk. “Sheriff Walker…”

“About time you two showed up. That body’s starting to stink bad.”

Heyes scowled and opened his mouth to retort, but Lom intercepted with an inconspicuous nudge and shake of the head.

“Sorry for the delay…came as soon as the governor asked me to.” Lom looked around the room. “So where is the body? Don’t want to take up anymore of your busy time.”

Walker mumbled. “And it’s dinner time, too.”

Lom gave an understanding smile. “Tell you what…doesn’t look like you have any prisoners here. Why don’t you go get yourself some dinner? We’ll identify the body and stay until you get back. Say in a half an hour?”

The sheriff smiled and grabbed his hat. “Much oblige! There’s hot coffee on the stove. I’ll be back in that half an hour. Oh, and the body is in the far back cell. It’s unlocked. Didn’t figure Curry would go far.” With a chuckle, Walker left the office.

Heyes glared at the man as he left. Lom touched his arm. “Let’s get this over with.”

Taking a deep breath, Heyes followed Lom into the back of the jail into a cell with the closed coffin.

“Ready?” Lom asked as he was about to open the lid.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” came a quiet response.

Lom took off the lid and both men stared aghast. They quickly took off their bandanas and held the cloths to their noses to block the horrid stench of dead. They saw a young man in a blue shirt with curly dark blond hair. Same weight and size of Curry. The face was beaten beyond recognition. Lom put the lid back on.

“Heyes, I’m sorry…”

The younger man closed his eyes and swallowed down the bile threatening to come up. After a moment, he shook his head. “It’s not him.”

“What do you mean it’s not him? Sure looked like it to me.”

More forceful, Heyes insisted. “That’s not the Kid.”

“Well, if it isn’t, it’s a dead ringer for Curry. The weight…the age…the height…the hair…even the blue shirt. They all add up to the Kid.”

“Lom, it’s not him.”

“What makes you so sure?” Trevors asked insistently.

Mutely, Heyes shook his head. He knew it wasn’t his best friend.

“Heyes, I think you’re in denial. I’m sorry, but that’s your partner.”

‘No…that’s not him! It may look like him, but it’s not. Just a feeling I have.”

The two men walked to the front of the office and Lom poured two cups of coffee. He handed one to his friend who gratefully took it. They sat in silence sipping their coffee as they thought about the body in the coffin.

Sheriff Walker walked into the office. “So is it Curry?”

Lom and Heyes stood up. “Well, I’d say it is, but Smith isn’t so sure. How about we give you an answer in the morning?” When Walker frowned, Lom continued, “Of course, no need to hold on to the body anymore. You can bury it anytime.”

Relieved, the sheriff sat behind his desk again. “Good. Got the hole dug ready. Think I’ll call Bob and a few men over to bury it this evening. Still have some daylight.”

“Did Nelson leave any of Curry’s things? His gun? His saddlebags? Might help us in identifying him.” Heyes forced a smile on his face. “And where is Nelson now?”

“Nelson’s waiting for the reward money. Celebrating in the saloon, last I saw. He must have the belongings…didn’t bring any in. Hmm…I’ll have to ask him about that!”

Lom walked over by the door. “Won’t take up any more of your time tonight, Sheriff Walker. I’ll be seeing you in the morning. Thank you for the coffee.”

“My pleasure…and thank you for the dinner break. I appreciate it.”

As they left the jail, Lom put a hand on Heyes. “You’re not going to the saloon looking for Lou Nelson and starting anything! Just going to get you into trouble. If he knew the Kid, he knows you, too. May be watching for you…may think you’ll come when you hear Kid’s dead.”

“I’m not gonna cause trouble with Nelson, and you’re right. He might be watching for me to show.”

“Let’s just go to the cafe and get us some dinner.” Lom started walking towards the diner. “Bet you haven’t eaten in awhile.” He stopped and turned around when no one followed him.

“I can’t eat, Lom. You go ahead. I’m gonna just go to my room.” Trevors gave him a cynical look. “I promise…I’ll stay in my room and won’t go near Nelson.”

“Okay, but you’re eating breakfast.”

Heyes nodded and the two men parted.

Once up in his room, Heyes removed his boots and gun belt. He rummaged in his saddle bags and pulled out a whiskey bottle about a third empty. Looking for a glass, he shrugged his shoulders and took a swallow from the bottle. A beaten face haunted his thoughts and he took another drink. He sat looking out the window as the daylight gave way to dusk. In the distance, he saw men leaving the cemetery, and he lifted the bottle to his lips again.

Hours passed and Heyes had another drink from a bottle only a third full as he stared out into nothingness. Thoughts of his partner crowded his mind.

Tap, tap…tap.

Heyes’ mind registered the soft knock and he grinned. He opened the door and saw a travel-weary Kid Curry. “I was waiting for you. Knew you’d show up.”

Kid entered the room and shut the door behind him. Taking in the room, the bottle and the condition of his partner, he replied, “Heyes, you look like hell!”

“Lom said that too. Wanna a drink?” He offered the bottle to Kid.

“Lom’s here?” Curry took a swallow of whiskey.

“Yep. We had to go identify the body.”

“Both of you? How’d you do that?”

Heyes sat on the bed; his head spinning. “Made me Deputy Smith.” There was a long pause. “Kid, that is you, isn’t it? You’re not dead…not just a ghost.”

The Kid gave over and put a hand on his partner’s shoulder. “Nope, not dead. Well, maybe dead tired.”

Heyes gave a quizzical look.

“Saw the paper on Wednesday as I was about to finish the delivery. Got it to Mr. Evans and then high-tailed it back here. Knew how I’d feel if the headlines said you were dead. Only stopped to rest the horse.”

“But you’re here now…and alive,” Heyes confirmed.

“Yep, can’t get rid of me that easy, partner.” Curry sat on the bed next to Heyes and took off his boots with a sigh. “Looked a lot like me, huh?”

“You could say that…a dead ringer for you. Lom was convinced, but I wasn’t. Nelson didn’t leave much on the face that was recognizable.”

Curry shook his head. “Is Nelson still in town?”

“Yep, same hotel. He’s on the first floor in the back.”

“Need to get outta here then.” Curry stood up and helped Heyes stand. “Come on, pack your stuff.”

“No, you need to sleep. We’ll just stay holed up in this room tomorrow. Lom’s here and can bring us food. Clean up a little and rest.”

Curry looked longingly at the bed and then nodded. “I am pretty tired.” He discarded his shirt and Henley and washed up. He put his gun belt on the bed post and pulled off his pants and socks. “Comin’ to bed? Know you haven’t slept much either.”

“Yep, I’m coming.”

The two men fell asleep moments after lying down.

A knock at the door woke them—the sun streaming into the hotel room. Curry grabbed his gun.

“Smith, open up. You’re eating breakfast.”

Heyes smiled and opened the door. “Morning, Lom. Come in. Look who’s here!”

Lom entered the room. “Well, I’ll be…Kid! You’re not dead!”

“Nope.” The blond man grinned. “Heard the guy looked like me.”

“You can say that again…down to the blue shirt.” Lom pondered. “Looks like Walker and me are gonna have to chat with Lou Nelson about bringing in the wrong man…dead.”

“Speaking of Nelson…” Heyes started.

“Nelson! You two better stay put all day. Well, if you wanna leave while we talk to him, you can. I’ll go bring you up some coffee and breakfast.”

“Thanks, Lom.”

Trevors opened the door and looked back. “Nice to have you back, Kid.”

“Nice to be here.”
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