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 February 2011

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Penski

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Posts : 119
Join date : 2013-09-26

20170105
PostFebruary 2011

Invitation

Heyes gets an invitation to join Big Jim Santana and his gang.



Joining the Devil’s Hole Gang

A young Hannibal Heyes watched the poker tables in the saloon waiting for a chance to play. He only had a few dollars left and was hungry. His horse was tied to the hitching rail outside instead of stabled at the livery because Heyes only had a few dollars left. Since Jim Plummer took off with all the money in the last robbery—money Heyes had gotten out of the safe by manipulating the tumblers—Heyes left that gang and was wandering alone.

As he watched the tables and the people in the saloon, he realized there was another gang celebrating in the town. An important-looking Mexican sat off in the back observing his men and the other patrons. The man made eye contact with Heyes and the two nodded before looking elsewhere.

A seat opened at a poker table so Heyes quickly grabbed the glass of beer he was nursing off the counter and headed towards it. “Mind if I join you?”

A man, wearing a black jacket and a fancy shirt, shuffled the deck of cards. “Have any money, kid?”

Heyes winced at the word ‘kid’; it reminded him of his younger cousin. Quickly composing himself, he replied, “Sure do.” He pulled out the last of his money. “Have almost four-dollars.”

The gambler man kicked the vacant chair out from under the table. “Sit down.”

The man at the back table kept an eye on the poker table with the gambler as several men from his gang were playing with him.

An hour went by and Heyes was down to his last dollar. He had been watching the gambler carefully and finally figured out how the man was cheating.

Another grumbling player quickly stood up. “You’re cheatin’!” He pointed to the gambler.

The gambler grinned. “Oh, really? Prove it!”

Heyes gave a dazzling smile. “Well, besides the deck being marked, I’ve noticed an extra ace of spades. May I?” Heyes reached out for the deck and deftly fingered through it pulling out all the face cards and aces. He glanced under the table. “Ah, there it is! On the floor under your boot. Not too clever, if you ask me.”

The gambler glared at the young, dark-haired man. “That’s not my ace; don’t know how it got on the floor and under my boot.”

Several of the gang members playing at the table stood up and pulled out their guns. “Seems more than just a coincidence to me,” said one of them.

“I say we take him out back and shoot him,” said another.

Heyes stood and waved his arms downward. “Just calm down. I think if he leaves that pile in front of him and rides out of town, there’s enough to pay us back and a little more.” Eyeing the gambler, he continued, “Sound fair to you? Your life for that pile of money?”

The nervous gambler glanced at the guns aimed at him and glimpsed at the winnings in front of him. Sweat ran down his face as he nodded in agreement. “That sounds good to me.”

Heyes grinned. “Sound okay to the rest of you?”

The rest of the players mumbled their agreement.

Heyes smiled at the gambler. “Sounds like you can go then, but I’d make it quick if I were you. These boys might change their minds. Oh, and leave that marked deck of cards on the table.”

The fancy dressed gambler rushed out of the saloon without looking back.

“Now…” Heyes pulled the winnings towards himself. “How much did each of you lose to him? REALLY lose to him.” Heyes divided the money among the players according to how much each had lost and then gave a five dollar bonus to each. Ten dollars remained. “I keep that, if you don’t mind, for talking him into leaving and for dividing the money.”

“Sounds fair to me,” said one of the players who now had his money back in front of him.

Heyes grabbed the money and went to the bar to order a beer.

The bartender handed him a cold glass of ale. “It’s on the house. Like how you handled that gambler, son.”

Heyes smiled, gave him an appreciative nod and took a long drink.

The man in the back of the room nodded to one of his men and then motioned towards Heyes.

“Hey, mister?” A short, blond, a fewer years older than Heyes with a cheek full of chaw stood next to him at the bar. “My boss, over there, wants ta see ya.”

Heyes turned and saw the important Mexican gentleman in the corner nod at him. “That’s your boss?”

“Uh huh.”

“What’s his name?”

“Now why don’t you mosey on over there and ask ‘im?”

Heyes took a deep breath, grabbed his beer, and walked over to the table. “Heard you wanted to see me?”

The man smiled. “I do. Sit down.” He indicated towards a chair across from him. “Sit. I want to thank you for handling that situation so well. Some of my men were at that table. I see you have a drink. I am having food brought. Would you care to have some?”

Heyes’ stomach rumbled at the mention of food. “Maybe. What do you want?”

“Just to talk. My name is Jim Santana. And yours?”

“Heyes.”

“What is your Christian name?”

The young man looked slightly puzzled. “Heyes.”

“Heyes? That is what your mother named you? That is your Christian name?”

“Oh…” Heyes gazed down and quietly said. “Hannibal.” In a louder voice, he continued, “but nobody calls me that. I go by Heyes.”

“Hannibal Heyes…” A pause and a nod from the man across him. “I have heard your name before.” Santana leaned forward and in a quieter voice, “You rode with a gang, no?”

Heyes’ silence said what he did not verbalize.

“But you are not in a gang now…ahhh.” His face brightened as the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. “You rode with the Plummer gang, but your leader disappeared with a large payroll. What was it, $25,000?”

“$30,000.”

Santana stared at the young man in front of him, taking in every detail and making Heyes squirm. “Hannibal…”

“Heyes,” he interrupted.

“That safe was not opened with dynamite. I heard Plummer had a young man who could open safes.” He paused. “Are you that man?”

Pausing for a moment, Heyes’ eyes narrowed as he said, “Who wants to know?”

“You do not know my name? Maybe you know the name I am called and that of my gang—Big Jim and the Devil’s Hole Gang.”

Heyes raised an eyebrow. “I’ve heard of you. Heard you’re fair with your men and always plan your jobs real carefully so no one gets hurt.”

“So, Hannibal…”

“Heyes.”

“Are you the man I have heard about?”

“I’ve been known to open a few safes by listening to the tumblers fall into place.”

“We have recently lost a member of the gang.” Seeing Heyes’ concern, Jim quickly added, “He decided being an outlaw was not for him and wanted to settle down. After seeing how you handled yourself with the gambler and knowing you are this man from Plummer’s gang, I would like to invite you to join my gang.”

“Join the Devil’s Hole Gang?” Heyes’ eyes brightened for a moment and went back to being unreadable. “When do you need to know my decision?”

“The men are enjoying themselves and behaving. We will spend the night. You may let me know in the morning. And perfect timing, here comes the food. Join me, will you?”


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


The next morning, Heyes was packed and saddling his horse outside the livery when Big Jim and the Devil’s Hole Gang members came in for their animals.

“Hannibal…”

“Heyes.”

“You decided to join us. Men, we have a new member. Han…”

“Just call me Heyes.”


(Happy Anniversary to me ... 2 years ago I wrote my first fanfic ever - the Feb 2009 challenge on No Love Lost. Can't believe it's been already 2 years! Thanks to all for the encouragement, support, help, comments, and suggestions. Without you, I wouldn't be writing.)
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