Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 July 2011

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PostJuly 2011


Heyes learns there are consequences to his actions... follows Calling the Bluff.

After my bluffing challenge, many asked why the boys left the Browns after Han’s first attempt of robbing. Well, Consequences seemed like a good enough place to finish that story.

“FIRE! FIRE!” Margie Brown shouted as loud as she could when she saw their supply shed burning. “FIRE!” She ran with a bucket of water to the building, took off her apron and soaked it, and hit at the jumping flames.

Jed came out of back mercantile’s back door. “Mr. Brown wants to know… The shed’s on fire, Mrs. Brown!”
“Tell Mr. Brown and then the sheriff, Jed. RUN!” Margie Brown beat the flames with her wet apron, burning her hands.

Jed ran back into the general store. “Mr. Brown, the shed’s on fire! Mrs. Brown told me to tell the sheriff.” He ran out the front door without stopping for a response.

Mr. Brown dropped what he was doing and rushed out the back.

Jed burst into the sheriff’s office and put his hands on his knees as he gasped for air. “Brown’s shed… fire!” Jed couldn’t force out anymore words as he tried to catch his breath.

“On fire!?! Go ring the church bell! I’ll gather help from the men in the saloon.”

Jed nodded and hurried to the church at the end of town. As he entered the building, he saw a thick rope hanging from the ceiling. He grabbed it and pulled as hard as he could. The bell rang and Jed continued pulling for several minutes.

The Reverend came into the church. “What’s the emergency, young man?”

“Fire! Brown’s shed is on fire.”

“Oh dear… We better hurry over there and help put it out. With this dry weather, one spark can set the whole town on fire!” The pastor grabbed Jed’s hand and together they dashed to the Brown’s place.

Already a bucket brigade was working on putting the fire out, but it was slow going. Men from different parts of the town came together to form a line from the well to the fire. Jed looked for Han as he arrived with the Reverend, but couldn’t find him. Mrs. Brown sat on a step by the back door being attended by several women – her hair and dress singed by the fire and her hands burned.

Jed hurried to Mr. Brown as he threw a bucket of water on the flames. “How can I help?”

“Find Han! He was supposed to be working in the shed. I hope…”

Jed felt panic seize him as he backed from the men and the heat. He couldn’t lose another family member; he just couldn’t lose Han.
The young blond teen rushed to the house. “Mrs. Brown, are you okay?” he asked as he saw the angry red burnt hands.

“Yes, Jed,” she winced from the pain. “We have to find Han. He was supposed to be cleaning up the shed and putting items away. I can’t imagine how the fire started…

The doctor arrived and assessed the situation. Seeing the women around Mrs. Brown, he went over there. “Margie, you’re burned!” He looked around at the men and realized the fire was not going to spread, not today. “Let’s get you cleaned up and in bed so I can wrap your hands. We don’t want an infection to start.”

Mrs. Brown nodded and allowed her friends to help her into the house. Before going inside, she turned. “Find Han, Jed.”

“I will, Mrs. Brown.”

Jed followed the women inside and checked the store, the back room and then their bedroom. No Han. He went down the Main Street, looking at the deserted businesses since everyone was at the fire. He checked the alleys and livery, calling out his cousin’s name. Sitting on a bale of hay, he wondered where Han was, praying he hadn’t been caught in the fire. Jed thought of places he and Han would go when they had free time. Maybe he went to the creek to read a book he found in the shed. Getting up, Jed headed out of town towards the grove of trees.

As he approached the trees nestled on both sides of the creek, Jed heard laughing. “Han?” he called out, feeling a wave of relief wash over him.

“That you, Jed?”

“Yeah.” Jed followed the voice to a secluded rock along the banks of the swollen creek. He scowled as he saw who his cousin was with and what they were doing. “Whatcha doin’, Han?”

“Nothing. Just taking a break from work with a friend.”

Jed glared at the older boy smoking a cigarette with a small bottle of whiskey. “Mr. Brown said you ain’t supposed to be spendin’ time with Edgar.”

“You gonna tattle on me?” Han paused for a moment. “Mr. Brown can’t tell me who I can choose for my friends.” He grinned at Edgar.

“Mr. Brown says Edgar ain’t a good influence and it seems he’s right. You smokin’ and drinkin’, too, Han?”

“None of your business, Jed. Now why don’t you run along back to the store. I’ll be back soon enough.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Brown told me to go find you. They’re concerned you was in the shed. That’s where you’re supposed to be. Shed’s on fire - didn’t you hear the bell and smell the smoke?.”

“On fire?” Han stood up.

“Yeah, Mrs. Brown hurt her hands bad tryin’ to fight it. I went and told the sheriff and rang the church bell. Bunch of men came and formed a line puttin’ out the flames with buckets of water.”

“’Bout time there’s some excitement in that town.” Edgar offered Han a drink, but when his friend shook his head, he finished the last of the liquor and threw the bottle away.

“Mrs. Brown got hurt?” Han asked. “Sheesh…”

Jed nodded. “They’re worried you might’ve been burned in the shed. You better come now.”

“You ain’t really goin’ back there already, are you?” Edgar asked.

“Yeah, I gotta. They took me and Jed in – gave us food, clothes and a place to sleep.” Han walked over by Jed. “Come on, let’s go back.”

As Jed and Han walked back into town, Jed glanced sideways at his cousin. “You was smokin’ and drinkin’, too, weren’t ya.”

Han remained silent.

“Where’d ya get that stuff? From the Brown’s supply shed? Did ya steal it, Han?”

“Shut up, Jed,” Han replied.

“Shouldn’t be hangin’ around Edgar – bad influence,” Jed mumbled.

“I said shut up. Don’t need you preaching to me.”

As they approached town, they observed men going back to their businesses and the saloon. A crisis had been adverted and life was becoming normal again. Taking a deep breath, Han opened the store’s door and walked in.

“Where have you been?” bellowed Mr. Brown, angry and relieved at the same time.

“I… I was just by the creek taking a break after I finished cleaning up the shed.” Han glanced at Jed, warning him not to tell.

Mr. Brown stared at the older of the boys. “Shed burned down. All the supplies are gone. Do you know what might have started the fire?”

Han slowly shook his head. “No idea, sir.”

“You weren’t doing nothing you weren’t supposed to be doing?”


“LIAR! Mrs. Taylor says she saw you with Edgar Bogue heading toward the creek before the fire started. Said you and Edgar were smoking.”

Han’s head dropped. “Old busy body,” he mumbled under his breath.
“I told you not to be around Edgar. He’s bad news and a bad influence on you. You disobeyed me and now I lost all my supplies and Mrs. Brown is burned. Because of you not obeying me.” Mr. Brown shook with rage. “There are consequences, Han. Get into the back room. NOW!”

As Han slowly entered the back room, Mr. Brown grabbed a belt from the shelf and followed him. Jed’s eyes became big and then he shut them tight as he heard the belt whipping his cousin. Just like at the Home. Maybe Han done wrong this time, but…

Mr. Brown left the room and put the belt back on the shelf. “Now get outta here – both of you!”

Han wiped a tear that escaped and started up the stairs with Jed following. Once in their bedroom, Han began to pack.

“Whatcha doin’?”

“What’s it look like I’m doing? You heard him. Told us to get outta here.”

Jed began packing up his few belongings. “Gonna hate leavin’ here. Got a warm bed and always good meals. Where we gonna go?”

Han sighed. “I don’t know.” He sat on the edge of the bed and put his head down with his hands covering his eyes. “I was the one who done wrong. Maybe if I talk to ‘em, they’ll let you stay.”

“No. We ain’t separatin’! If you go, I’m goin’, too.”

“Jed, you’ll be better off staying here with the Browns.”

“No. We’re family and I’m comin’ with you.”

With their belongings packed, the two boys walked down the stairs, through the back door, and out of town.

Several of Mrs. Brown’s friends had brought supper for them, knowing that Margie would have a hard time cooking with her burned hands. As they sat down at the table, she looked at her husband. “Did you call the boys?”

“I did, but they didn’t answer. Maybe they’re just trying to stay out of our way for a day or two.”

After dinner, Mr. Brown cleaned up the kitchen and made some coffee. He carried it into the parlor and handed a cup to his wife. She gave him a nod of thanks and then asked, “Why don’t you go check on them – I’d hate to think of them not wanting to face us and missing a meal.”

“All right, if it’ll make you feel better.” John went into the room that Han and Jed shared and took in a deep breath as he saw that the room was completely bare of their belongings. A piece of paper lay on the bed with one single word written on it.


He came back into the parlor and Margie knew by the look on his face that the boys hadn’t been in their room. He handed her the paper and she looked at him, her eyes filled with tears. “Oh, John, why? What happened? Why did they leave?”

“Oh no,” Mr. Brown winced as he held his wife. “I was angry with Han and told them both to leave. I meant for them to just get away from me for awhile until I calmed down. They must’ve thought I meant for them to leave altogether.”

“Oh, John!” Margie pulled away from her husband and looked at him. “You shouldn’t have said that. Now they’re gone. I loved having them around.”

“I’m sorry, darling; I’m so sorry.” They embraced again, giving each other comfort. “I surely didn’t mean for them to leave. I guess there are consequences for my words said in anger as well as Han’s actions.
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