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 Along Came a Spider (7,500 words) ...an outlaws tale.

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Cal

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Join date : 2015-11-11

20170530
PostAlong Came a Spider (7,500 words) ...an outlaws tale.

---oooOOOooo---

ALONG CAME A SPIDER
by Cal

---oooOOOooo---


“Do you think he saw which way we were headed?” gasped Kid, twisting the raw hide thongs at his wrists and attacking the knots with his teeth.

“I didn’t look back to find out” shot back Heyes, having just a little more luck with his own bonds.  

He grunted, and swore, and gasped till the thin leather fell to the floor with a very satisfying snap. Heyes quickly pushed Kid to the ground and attacked the knots at his partner’s bloody wrists with his pen knife, using his teeth to pull the short blade clear of the sheath.

Kid jumped to his feet, grabbing at the horses reins and with two long strides was aboard pulling Heyes up behind him. He pushed the horse to a gallop knowing Heyes would have no trouble at all, staying with them, as he bounced on the back of the saddle. Kid almost smiled, hearing Heyes hollering on the horse to greater effort.

After a panicked flight across some open ground, Heyes came to his senses.

“Kid… Kid… pull up… pull up will yer… over there… in them rocks…”

“What?” screamed Kid “We’d be sitting ducks… Heyes we gotta get outta here…”

An almost comical battle of wills ensued, where both riders of the one horse, tried to direct the flying animal. Eventually Heyes realised that a battle of brawn with the Kid was beyond him.  He tried a different tack.

“Kid… Kid… I got a plan.”

Kid’s shoulders dropped.  

Kid’s head dropped. He looked back to the rocks where Heyes had been trying to direct the horse. Then he looked out at the next stretch of nondescript, barren emptiness they’d have to cross, on the one horse with no water, and caved.  

Heyes smiled wickedly seeing the change in Kid’s demeanour, and patted one of his shoulders rather patronisingly.

“You’ll see Kid… I got us a plan.”

---oooOOOooo---

“You better know what we’re doing Heyes… ‘Coz some might say this is real stupid” spat Kid, dropping from the horse behind Heyes.

Heyes was already crouched up behind a big rock gazing back the way they’d just ridden.

“Stupid and dangerous…” continued Kid, getting nothing back from the genius.  

“Are you gonna tell me what we’re doing here waiting for that snake to catch up? … You know he’s got our guns… Don’t think he’s gonna oblige us, by standing still long enough for us to get in a lucky shot with a rock… HEYES… WHY AREN'T WE RUNNING?!?”

Hannibal Heyes licked his dry lips and never took his eyes off their back trail.

“Because… he laughed at us, Kid” he growled.

“Laughed… at us!  And he took our boots, and our canteens …and our money...”

“And our guns, Heyes… Don’t forget our guns!” nodded Kid to Heyes’ back, catching the general mood of unabridged disgruntlement, and fingering the empty leather holster at his side.  

Then his sharp eyes picked up a wisp of dust on the horizon a few degrees to the right of where Heyes focused all his attention.  

Kid pulled a sour face. He tapped his rapt partner on the shoulder and pointed.

“Guess there’s no doubt as to who that is, huh? Why couldn’t he have just broke his neck… Horse puts a foot down a gopher hole… least he could have done was break a leg…. ”

Heyes looked around startled for just a second.  With so few features to go by, it was easy to lose a sense of direction out here.  

The dust was rising slowly and drifting to the East.  There was no doubt in Heyes’ mind either, as to who was causing it, Grant Jamerson, Bounty Hunter and agent for the Grand Union Pacific Railroad.

Grant Jamerson had been riding the train they’d robbed two days ago.  He’d had a horse in the freight car, saddled and waiting for just such an occurrence.

He’d followed.  

Waited till Heyes and Kid had split from the rest of the Devils Hole gang, before making his move.  He’d let them think they were clear.  Think they’d gotten away Scot free.  Let them drop their guard, even celebrate a little in Hollins, and then, he’d set a trap ahead of them and just waited for them to spring it.

It had been that simple.

Then he’d made them remove their guns, and their boots, and their water.  He’d taken their haul, and reminded them they were wanted dead or alive… then… he’d laughed at them.

Things were looking grim, till Jamerson’s horse put a foot in a gopher hole.  

They were ahead, saw the opportunity and ran… on just the one horse… that had been another source of mirth for the bounty hunter.

“This way… I can shoot both of you …with just the one bullet.”

Heyes’ anger simmered, as he scowled out at that plume of dust.  He felt his stockinged feet simmering on the hot rocks, also.  

He’d have the last laugh on Grant “Grand Union Pacific” Jamerson.

“Kid… He’s got our money… I spent a lot of time planning that raid… and I’m not crawling back to the Hole without it.  How’d that look?  How long do yer think they’d follow me fer... after that! … Even with you backing me?”

Kid didn’t answer.  Some questions didn’t need answers.

“Reckon we got us thirty minutes, Heyes… What you figering on doing with it?”

---oooOOOooo---




“Well… Did you find anything?” Heyes asked Kid, sourly.

Jamerson was now a black speck in the heat haze, crossing the bare expanse of desert scrub between this rocky outcrop they were trapped in, and the far away, linear horizon.  That big sky reminded Heyes of the wide-open skies over the Kansan fields, where he’d helped his Pa bring in the hay as a boy.

Wasn’t a blade of grass out there.

The dust plume, thrown up by the horse’s feet, formed an ominous pointer to the Bounty Hunter’s position.  

Heyes hadn’t taken his eyes off their former captor’s approach.  He scowled out at Jamerson with cold loathing.
 
He’d told Kid that he had a plan, as they’d fought for control of their getaway horse.  Kid had wanted to keep going, put as many miles between them and the bounty hunter as they could.  But he’d acquiesced to Heyes’ insistence, to head for this lone island of rock, in a sea of desert.  

Heyes didn’t have a plan…

Yet.

They needed to muster their resources. See what it was, they did have to work with.  It wasn’t much; a pen knife, some lock picks, the horse, of course, but they’d found nothing useful in Kid’s saddle bags.  You travelled light when you head out to rob a train.  Kid had gone to scout the rocks for… anything… they could find a use for.

Heyes wiped sweat from his brow.  The sun was high and relentless. The shadows pinched up and mean.  He looked out to the horizon, and remembered an old maxim of his Pa's …You make hay when the sun shines.  

Well, the sun was definitely shining now, Heyes thought bitterly, but he didn’t have… many resources… to make hay with!
 
What he did have was a dry mouth, scolded feet, a bad stomach and not much else.  And he was carrying around a huge grudge against Jamerson, the agent from the Grand Union Pacific Railroad.  Jamerson had Heyes’ fastest horse, their take from the train robbery, their guns, their canteens, even their boots.

But more than that, he’d made fools of them.  Letting them think they’d got away.  Think they were in the clear, before bushwhacking them on their way back to the Hole.

It was humiliating.

And he'd taken their boots.

And that snake had laughed at them! Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  That had been too much for Heyes.

“I found the last poor sap, that crawled into these rocks to die” responded Kid, drily.  

“He wasn’t even lucky enough to have a partner to bury him… Looks like a soldier from the war… He had this… not much else… If we make the water tank at Wolfshead Rocks… well …may be …we’ll get to fill it…”

Kid Curry hadn’t liked taking the silver water bottle from the ancient corpse, and his face showed it.  The bony fingers of one hand had still been wrapped around the standard Army issue bottle.  But it would hold water.

Shame there wasn’t a water tank in these rocks, he thought.

“Did he have boots?” asked Heyes over his shoulder, reluctantly pulling his eyes away from Jamerson.

“Show me.”

---oooOOOooo---

“I think you were wrong, Kid” scowled Heyes, stood over the raggedy pile of bones and cloth of the, long ago, deceased soldier.

“I think he was buried …once.  The winds just decided …to unbury him again… and his boots…”

Kid sneered.

“If we get outta this… may be… we can cover him up again.”

“Yeah…” nodded Heyes non-committedly.

“But not right now, huh… We got us a storm blowing in, in the shape of one Grant Jamerson… and this old soldier ain’t gonna be needing his boots anytime soon… so.... I’ll just be taking those.”

Kid grinned knowingly at his older cousin, the outlaw leader, too used to getting his own way.

They were partners.

Heyes wasn’t pulling rank on him, and his feet were protesting just as loudly as Heyes’, at being asked to climb all over this hot outcrop of sharp rocks, with just the protection of thin, holy socks to call on.

“I think you’ll find …Heyes… they’re gonna fit me just fine… after all… Finders Keepers…”

“Finders Keepers!” barked Heyes incredulously.

“What are you? … TEN!”

Kid ignored him and bent down to grasp the first boot.  Heyes quickly grabbed at his arm.

“We’ll toss for it” he said shrewdly.

He slipped a coin out of his vest pocket to show Kid both sides… very quickly.

Kid humphed, shaking his head imperceptibly.  He took the coin out of Heyes hand and checked it carefully for two different faces.

“What?...” asked Heyes incredulously again.

“Don’t you trust me?”

Kid’s eyebrows shot skywards.

“No …Heyes … I don’t…” he said flatly.

“We’ll be using my coin” he said, producing another coin from his own vest pocket.

“I’ve seen you con Wheat and the boys, too many times with that one, Heyes.”

Kid shook his head.

“Call it!”

---oooOOOooo---

Heyes’ mood had visibly darkened.  He silently snatched back his ‘favourite’ silver dollar from his smug younger cousin, and rammed it back into his vest pocket.

Kid smugly, reached for the soldier’s old army boots.  The dry old boots came apart in Kid’s hands.  Seemed, the stitching had perished long ago.

Heyes held back a gleeful grunt of schadenfreude, covering his mouth and trying to look sympathetic to the winner of the toss.

Kid held up the soles, as if he was thinking of tying them on to his feet anyway.  Of course, he’d have to find something to tie them on with, first.  He groaned loudly, cursing their awful luck, empty water bottles and useless foot ware.  He kicked at the dust, around the skeletal feet, and a glint of rusted metal caught his eye.

“A gun” smiled Heyes, astonished.

“A relic…” groaned Kid, poking at it with his toe.

“No…no… Kid… This is it… Our lucks changing” smiled Heyes happily, reaching down to pick up the ancient hardware.

It ran with dust, and he gave it a good shake.  It felt long, wrong and awkward in his hands. But it was a gun. Not one that would ever fire again, or fit any of the bullets in their belt loops. But it was a gun.

“Ha ha… This is it… this is the break we needed, Kid…” enthused Heyes.

“With this …we can turn the tables on Jamerson.  Come on.  We got a plan to put together… and we haven’t got much time left to do it!”

---oooOOOooo---



Heyes crawled and slid, ran and fell his way from the tracks they’d made earlier, as they’d passed the rocks on the horse, back to the rocky outcrop.

“The tracks look great!” he enthused to his waiting, worrying partner.

“It’s like we planned it… like we knew …we were gonna need them tracks to look like …we were having a fight for the horse.  Did you get the horse hidden …and wipe out all our tracks?”

Kid nodded.  He still held the only bit of thorny brush he could find to do the job with.

Heyes beamed.

Kid looked more worried.

“I don’t know Heyes… is he gonna fall for this?”

Heyes shook his head at his cautious partner, grinning.  Now he had a plan, he was feeling a lot better about their precarious situation. Kid would catch on.

“You just gotta have a little faith, Kid…  You said yourself… without seeing that blunderbuss… Just feeling it… between your shoulder blades… Even you’d believe it was a single shot derringer… if someone told you it was… You wouldn’t bet your life against it, least ways.”

Kid nodded slowly.  He had said that, and it did feel the right size.  And cold steel, even ancient cold steel pressed in your back, focused the mind.

“Yep… it’s the right calibre for the 54… the later model… But if he sees it Heyes…”

“Then …You gotta make sure …he don’t see it…”

Heyes took Kid by the shoulders.

“I’ve seen you stalking a deer Kid… You’re silent… You’re practically Apache! I know you can do this.  You just gotta get close enough … so he can’t see what you’re holding.  I’ll get him so wrapped up …in crowing over finding me … all beat up and helpless… it’ll be easy for you to ambush him… Just you wait and see.”

Heyes smartly slapped Kids shoulders, drawing the look from the gunslinger.  Then, he risked another look out to their approaching quarry.  

Heyes was covered from head to toe, in the bleached-out rock dust of the surrounding desert, so he wasn’t that worried that Jamerson would be able to pick him out amongst the rocks.  

Not yet anyway.  

Not at this distance.

Kid followed his gaze.

Jamerson was distinguishable now, as a horse and rider distorted in the mirage of the high noon heat.  From his line, and his steady pace, they could see he was tracking them from the saddle.  His head lolled forward, studying the ground.  He held his rifle at the ready, pointing it up at the cloudless sky.

“Oww! What you doing Heyes?” protested Kid, loudly.

“Keep it down will yer” spat Heyes.  “I’m supposed to be on my own remember.  You’re supposed to have ridden off …and dumped me…”

“Well …that could still happen…” spat back Kid, pulling his bloody wrist out of Heyes’ hand.

It was bleeding a lot more since Heyes had squeezed it.  

Heyes, was dabbing drops of Kids blood on his face, in an attempt to look more beaten up.

“Hush up will yer…” he said casually. “I wasn’t bleeding anymore… And we need this to look good.”

Kid’s eyes narrowed.

“Oh… Well that’s different… You should have said.”

His voice was dripping sarcasm.

“I didn’t realise …it was all that important... fer your plan…”

And with that, he punched Heyes in the mouth.

Heyes sprawled backwards, looking shocked.

“What did you do that fer?!” he spat through a thick, bleeding lip.

Kid shook his sore hand.  The one with the bleeding wrist.

“Just stepping up …and doing my share… Partner… fer the plan… Which by the way… You told me you already had… before I found the old soldier and this relic of a firearm.” he said, pushing Heyes back into the dust at the foot of the rock and arranging him to look all beaten up and abandoned.

“Your bleeding pretty good now Heyes… and… Your looking authentically beaten up and helpless.”

He walked backwards towards the far rocks, carefully obscuring his tracks as he went.  Heyes watched him go. The dark eyes simmered.  Scores were being counted, and stored up for later.

“Yeah? Well… thank you…” he said, much too politely, rubbing at his sore face and looking anything but grateful.

“You just be sure …to get out here …and stick that rusty canon between Jamerson’s shoulder blades… before …he decides it’s too much trouble…to try and take me in alive…. again.”

Kid smiled, his blue eyes twinkling.  

He could hear Heyes moaning, “Apache boy!” under his breath, all the way back to the rocks. When he reached hard ground he tipped his hat to Heyes, and disappeared between two huge boulders.

---oooOOOooo---



Heyes lay in the dust for what seemed like a very long time.  

How long could it take for Jamerson to find the tracks where the horse had danced, protesting at their struggle for control? Or find the Heyes-shaped hollow, marking his feigned fall from the horse, or the slithering furrow in the dust, that marked his supposed slow painful struggle to these rocks?

'Come on,' thought Heyes. 'I’ve laid it all out for you.  A boy scout could follow that trail. How long could it take?'

The smallest whisper of falling grit, sharpened all of Heyes’ senses in an instant. His heart leapt to his dry mouth.  

Jamerson was here. And, he had Heyes in his sights.

Heyes strained to hear his former captors cautious approach, but all he could make out was the squelching beat of his own overexcited heart.  He was no stranger to coming around from a concussion. He’d have to make this convincing.

He groaned loudly, and dry wretched.

No bullet came.

Heyes sent up a silent prayer of thanks.

'Phew.'

That’s all he needed to know.  

He was right.  Jamerson liked to watch another man suffer.  

He wilfully made himself relax a little, as he rolled over and gasped up at the relentless sun. He’d wiped blood over half his face, and, with just a little help from Kid, was looking authentically battered and worst for wear.
He could use that gratitude he was feeling towards his partner and younger cousin.  Oh yes, he could use that.

He winced away from a supposed skull wound that his exploring fingers found under his dusty black hat.  

He was only able to lift his left arm, apparently, his right arm hanging loose and useless in the sleeve of his shirt.  He cupped the useless arm carefully and cried out in pain as he wriggled himself backwards to prop himself up against the rock behind him.  The effort of it left him speechless for just a moment.  Then his battered features contorted in rage.

“Damn you Curry!” he shouted out at the sky.  

“I hope the horse dies on you… and your scrawny Irish bones ...feed the coyotes!”

Heyes put his ‘wounded’ arm down at his side very carefully, wincing.

“I curse the day I met you…” he grumbled audibly under his breath, but the effort of speaking set off a coughing fit.  

He groaned loudly and closed his eyes on the sun. He started a coherent rant, getting louder and louder in faked delirium.

“If it wasn’t for me… Jamerson would have shot you… You ingrate… Partners four years… and you dump me at the first sign of trouble…”

He tried moving his right foot and let out a pain-filled yowl.

“Jeez! … I didn’t ask to stand on a Skytail… Just my damned bad luck, is all… Could just as easily 've been you! This deserts crawling with them li'l bastards.”

Heyes looked left and right, cowering away from the cracks in the crag behind him.

“These rocks are crawling with the damn things… You said, you’d get me to a doctor… I’D 'VE GOT YOU TO A DOCTOR!... Or ... maybe... I’d ‘ve killed yer… I wouldn’t have left you ...LIKE THIS!…”

The deep rage swelled again, animating the invalid.

“You’re dead Curry… you just don’t know it yet... DEAD! … YOU HEAR ME? … YOU NO GOOD … back stabbing … double crossing…”

Heyes sank forward as his voice seemingly gave out, for all the World as if he were fighting to stay conscious, and losing the fight.

“I’ll find you … I’ll find you … You double crossing Irish bastard…” he whispered to his chest.

Then he was silent.

Unmoving.

Five minutes passed before more grit rolled under a foot, and the quiet crunch of boots entered the ring of buffalo-backed rocks where Heyes sat.

Heyes right foot was unceremoniously kicked.

Heyes squealed like a stuck pig, seemingly roused from oblivion, attempting to grab at his 'stung' foot with his ‘good’ hand.

“Jeez!” he spat out in desperation, apparently only noticing that someone was standing over him.

“That’s the one ...the Skytail hit …Jeez!” He whimpered pathetically, squinting up at Jamerson stood tall against the sun’s glare.

“Kid? … Is that you… Kid? … You come back? … You came back… I ….I knew you would….”

Jamerson’s laugh was long, hollow and mocking. The rifle lifted to point squarely at Heyes chest.  

Jamerson squatted and grabbed Heyes’ chin, moving it to left and right, to get a good look at the extent Heyes’ facial wounds.

“Curry dumped you, huh … Now why would he do that?” said Jamerson more to himself than to the delirious sounding Heyes.

The split lip had opened up again, and Heyes seemingly struggling to come to his senses, batted the offending hand away from his truly sore lip, remembering to favour his left hand.

“Jamerson…” he sneered with a gasp of defeat.

Then he seemed to rally, an almost fated, weak smile played across his lips.

“Your too late, Jamerson… Kid’s …gone… and… a Skytail’s done fer me … I’m as good as gone too…  You might as well shoot me and get it done with… “

Heyes attempted a laugh, but couldn’t pull it off because of the supposed paroxysms of pain convulsing his body.  He regained enough composure to fix his dark eyed loathing on the man enjoying the show.  No pretence was needed there.

“You’re too late, Jamerson… You’re outta luck… I’m gonna rot in this heat …huh… huh… and there won’t be a blame thing left of me … huh …huh… that’s recognisable… huh… you ain’t getting no reward money Jamerson…. huh…”

Heyes eyes rolled back in his head as he fought off another phantom attack of pain.  His face contorted in rage.

“COME ON JAMERSON!” he gasped.

“Shoot me.... and get it done with!”

Heyes’ laugh was low and hollow, in the back of his throat and full of self-pity.  His rant became a harsh whisper between dry lips.

“No? …Well that’s alright… s’all right… You save your bullets… Who knows… If I get real lucky… I just might live long enough …to see you stung by one of them blue-tailed devils… Wouldn’t that be something… We can die together… Hannibal Heyes …and… the Bounty Hunter...”

Another dry laugh gurgled from Heyes’ pain-filled body.

“You know… you’re about the same height as Kid… They’re gonna think you’re him…when they find our bones… they’ll think you’re Kid Curry… “

Heyes’ delirium seemed to take hold again as he raged at the sky.

“That piece of…. He’s gonna get away… Scot free… no one’s gonna be chasing him! …huh huh…”

Heyes seemed lost in his despair for just a second.  

Jamerson watched, fascinated.

They both heard a tiny skit on rock over on the other side of the clearing.  Heyes suddenly sprang back to life screeching up at Jamerson.

“It’s just a matter of time… till one of the little bastards gets you! … This place is crawling with them… You can hear them too ...can’t you?! WELL ...CAN'T YOU!?“

Heyes was wide eyed and looking deranged, staring to left and right at the cracks and fissures in the rock.  

Jamerson looked to left and right too, trying to make out what it was, Heyes was looking for.  The rifle never wavered in it’s aim at Heyes’ chest.

“What is it? … What’re you talking about, Heyes? … I think you’ve had a touch too much Sun… Just how hard did Curry hit you?”

There was a definite strain in the Bounty Hunter’s voice.  Heyes heard it and almost smiled, but cupped his jaw quickly enough to hide it.

“Oh... Curry’s got a kick like a mule…” he said slowly, rubbing his jaw, and feeling his teeth with his tongue.

He wouldn’t let his eyes stray from Jamerson’s face, no matter how much the temptation to glance behind him.

“But that ain’t what’s gonna kill… you... ‘n’ me… “ he said conspiratorially.

He fixed Jamerson with some of his old cockiness, a delighted grin starting to light up his bloody face.

“We got us a special kind of scorpion in these parts… You hardly gets t'see them ...‘cause they’re the same colour as the rocks… Except for their tails… They got these blue tails... with a powerful sting… see …”

Heyes hooked his ‘good’ hand to mimic a scorpion’s tail.  He could tell from the glint in Jamerson’s eye that he’d caught the interest of the bounty hunter’s cold heart.  He gave another virtuoso performance, of ‘man in terrible pain’, before continuing to his rapt audience.

“You know… the Devil …he made this one all on his own …It’s kind ’ve a sour joke up at the Hole… It’s like the Devil’s been laughing at me all this time… I’ve lost more good men to Skytails …than I have to Bounty Hunters or the law… Yeah, he's been laughing at me alright... and I can’t abide anyone laughing at me…”

Heyes slumped back against the rock exhausted, closing his eyes and seeming to give up on goading the Bounty Hunter. He whispered more to himself than Jamerson.

“These rocks are crawling with them… They hide in the crevices … they can lie in wait… take a man when he‘s off his guard… I guess … that makes them Skytails …a bit like you.”

Heyes sounded as if he were fading fast. Jamerson had to lean in, to catch his words.

“One jab ...with that sting… that’s all it takes” Heyes continued wearily.

“One jab ...and it’s a long …lingering … painful death… better… if you shot me…”

Jamerson sneered and lifted the rifle to the sky.

Heyes watched, through his fluttering lashes, as Jamerson’s eyes started to dart between the cracks and crevices around the base of the rock where Heyes was sat slumped.

Heyes sighed and moaned out a death rattle.  

He could clearly see that he was no longer considered much of a threat.  He fought a smile, calling on his poker skills to allow his face to sag.  He let his head loll forward and stilled.  His breathing was so faint now Heyes was actually starting to feel a little light-headed and began inhaling very slowly through his nose hoping his vest would hide his filling lungs.

Jamerson frustrated that the show may be over, kicked out at the ‘stung’ one's foot again. This time there was no reaction.  Jamerson lifted the heavy head. His thumb and forefinger tightening on Heyes’ jaw.  His eyes narrowed with suspicion. The rifle dropped back to point at Heyes’ chest.

“Freeze Jamerson” said Kid, poking the old gun's barrel deep into the Bounty Hunter’s back.  

“Don’t even breath… I got a 54, single shot derringer pointed right at your heart.”

“Huh?” said Jamerson in shock, dropping Heyes’ head and straightening up.

“Curry!” he accused, then sneering added,

“You’re too late.”

“I wouldn’t say that… You brought me a second horse … And all those canteens… And you’re wearing boots… As you can feel ...I already got me a gun… Oh sure… It’s not my usual weapon of choice…” smiled Kid nastily.

“Doesn’t have the accuracy I usually require, or the six bullets… But then again, I don’t think I can hardly miss from this range, do you?"

Kid pushed the barrel deeper.

"I think I got... just about everything I want right now… Except… you have no idea… just how much ...I want to pull this trigger... right now.”

Jamerson froze but the rifle was still pointed at Heyes’ chest.
 
The steel was audible in Kid’s voice.

Heyes hadn’t moved.

“You’re bluffin’,” sneered Jamerson.

“I shook you two down pretty good, Curry… Where would you get a derringer …out here?”

Kid forced a smile onto his worried face.  That cold smile rang clear in his voice.

“Why do you think I wear a heavy buckled hat, Jamerson? … Hides the weight of this little piece of insurance I keep in there... You’re hardly our first Bounty Hunter.”  

Kid barked a dry laugh close to the man’s ear.  He didn’t want to give the man time to think about things too long, so he pushed his position a little further.

“Go ahead Jamerson… Call my bluff… I’ve seen what one of these can do to a man’s chest… It’s just the one little bullet… but then again… these new bullets got explosive caps… I’ve been itching to get a look at the damage she can do ... Heyes said I had to wait for the right time. I’d say… now… is just about the right time… wouldn’t you.”

Kid pushed his point home with the barrel.

There was a moment of standoff. Jamerson running odds of a bluff in his head.  

Kid held his nerve.  His right hand fell to the Bounty Hunter’s side, ready to snatch at the pearl handled pistol there, at the first sign of surrender.

Jamerson’s shoulders fell a hair’s breadth, and the barrel of the rifle slowly lifted from Heyes’ chest. The pistol was snatched all in one movement.

Kid breathed a little easier feeling the weight of a familiar Colt in his hand.  With the rifle pointed at Heyes like that he couldn’t risk just braining the Bounty Hunter with a rock as soon as he was close enough.  He’d been forced to risk Heyes’ hair brain scheme with the soldier’s old canon.  

That could have gone badly wrong.

“You came back too late Curry…” spat Jamerson, already feeling uneasy about his decision to surrender.

The old pistol had fallen to the floor with a thud, far too heavily for a derringer, as Kid snatched the rifle out of his hands and his own cocked pistol was pushed into his ribs.

“Heyes is dead… That Skytail sting has already taken him… And I got to watch him die… Just like I’m gonna watch you hang… Curry… real soon.”

“Is that so…” said an ice-cold gunslinger, up very close and personal.

“What about it... Heyes… Is the partnership over?”

Lazarus lifted his head, and beamed up at Jamerson in triumph. That smile held all the warmth of a Wyoming Winter.

“Oh, I think the Partnership’s pretty solid Kid don’t you? Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes … got a nice ring to it.  The fastest gun in the West and the Best safe cracker this World has ever known… I’d say that was a partnership worth hanging on to… wouldn’t you? I couldn’t let a little thing like death come between us.”

Heyes stood and used his good right arm to straighten his hat.

“Sorry to disappoint you Jamerson… I lied about being stung… When you’ve lived out here as long as Kid ‘n’ me have… Well… let’s just say… you learn real quick how to avoid them Skytails. Of course, I seen plenty of grown men beg fer death after being stung by one … So... it wasn’t a real stretch fer me to remember how it goes…”

Heyes’ face had turned to ice.

“Take off your boots!”

Jamerson’s eyes opened just a fraction in alarm.  Heyes saw it with satisfaction but he kept his poker face, dark eyes hard as flint.  Jamerson leaned down to pull off the first boot.

Kid fired the pistol, just to gauge its wait and accuracy, sending a spurt of rock dust into the air just a few feet away from where they stood.

“Damn,” swore Kid.

“I thought I had it… Them skytails …can sure move.  Think this Colt’s aim is a might off… but I got it now.”

He pursed up his lips and shook his head, lining up the sites of the pistol at Jamerson’s head.

“Want me to shoot him Heyes?”

Jamerson pulled off the other boot, staring between the gunslinger and the place the bullet had hit.  His eyes twitched involuntarily.

“Guess that would be the right thing to do, Kid…” said Heyes conversationally.

“But ...we’re outlaws… Heck… where’s the fun in being outlaws if we go around doing the right thing.”

“You sure Heyes? … You remember Harrison… right? I mean… he screamed for three days straight… “

Heyes lazily pointed the rifle at Jamerson’s chest and kicked the boots over to Kid.
 
Kid’s eyebrows shot skywards in real surprise.

“You won them fair and square Kid… by the legal toss of a coin.”

Heyes smiled genuinely at his partner.

“I may let you shoot him …once you got your boots on … but first you better go fetch the other horse.”

---oooOOOooo---



“What?” smirked Heyes as they rode away, towards the Wolfshead rock.

“Skytails? You’re still telling that one? … You used to tell that one to the bullies at the home fer Waywards… Remember? I can’t believe he fell for that.”

Heyes sniggered.

“I remember. He deserved it.  Why should he get a night’s sleep tonight?”

Kid didn’t feel that needed answering, he just grinned at his overly dramatic cousin.

“You nearly had me fooled back there… with your dying act… and I’ve heard it before!” he laughed.

Heyes beamed.

“Well you were making so much noise creeping up on us… I had to do as much groaning as I could.”

Heyes held a hand to his chest and hammed a heart attack accompanied by dramatic moaning.  Kid's eyebrows shot up under the brim of his hat. He sighed heavily.

“We’ll get water at the tank … Then get back to the Hole ...as soon as these horses have drunk their fill” he said, looking serious again, but he couldn’t hold a straight face.

“When you said, I could shoot him …if I wanted to… You didn’t care either way… For a minute, back there… I thought part of him looked disappointed when I said he wasn’t worth the bullet ... hehehehe.”

Heyes suddenly looked serious too.

“I think, for a minute back there, I ...was disappointed you didn’t just shoot him ...too… Huh… As it was… you were right, Kid… He wasn’t worth the bullet!”

Kid looked deep into Heyes’ deep dark eyes, a flicker of worry crossed his own blue gaze for just the briefest second.  He held the gaze for a second more then, narrowed his eyes with a shrewd purse of his lips.

“You left him water in that old soldier’s bottle …didn’t you? … And you’ll get one of the boys to just happen by with a spare horse in a day or two right?”

Heyes scowled.

“Would a renowned outlaw leader …and the West’s fastest gunslinger …do such a thing, Kid?”

Kid smiled broadly.

“Hah!” he barked, “Never, Heyes… That’s what I like about you … You always do what they least expect.”

Kid shook his head.

“Still don’t know if you should have told him him laugh like that though.”

Kid’s feigned concern barely hid his urge to laugh again.  Heyes’ own smile was barely containable.

“I was kinda getting to like the way he laughed… And like I told him… It's the only way we know of… to keep them Skytails from sneaking up on you... they don't like the sound of a man's laughter.”

There laughter drifted out over the desert as they rode towards the setting sun.

---oooOOOooo---



Wolfshead Rocks

“Well… will you look at that… Clever horse.”

Kid smiled at the chestnut mare, Heyes’ favourite mare, as she stood beside the tank munching on the sparse grass that grew there.

“What did I tell you …She’s special… Jamerson must ‘ve cut her lose when we made a run for it…”

Heyes’ face lit with pride for his horse.  

“You knew where to find water …and grass …didn’t you girl…. Hey, look Kid… She’s got our guns too!”

Kid’s face lit up with relief to see his much-missed, beloved Colt and rig, hanging from the saddle horn of Heyes’ fastest horse.  Then he frowned.

“Can’t see our boots anywhere” he said wistfully.

Heyes hefted the heavy saddle bag of loot reclaimed from the Bounty Hunter with glee.

“Don’t matter none… I think we’ll be able to afford to buy new boots Kid” he smiled happily, dismounting the Bounty Hunter's blocky gelding to go rub his beautiful mares neck.

Kid's horse had dived for the water almost as soon as he left the saddle.

“Not too much… stupid…” admonished Kid, trying to pull the guzzler's head up by the rein.

“There’s no rush ...now… We’re in the clear… Remember?”

A rifle bolt was pulled back and Kid froze, eyes wide finding Heyes’.

Heyes almost laughed at the Kid’s reaction.

“Howdy Kyle” he said without turning.

“Jeez! It’s The Kid…. And Heyes! … and the money!” shouted Kyle excitedly.

Six trail darkened outlaws came out of the surrounding rocks one by one to join the leaders at the water hole.

“About time you two showed up…” sneered Wheat.

“Wheat” said Kid regaining his gunslinger swagger.

“It’s alright… its alright” said Heyes, putting a hand on Kid’s shoulder.

“Wheat’s right.  We’re late.  We had us a little trouble getting here.  Nothing we couldn’t handle…”

“Where’re your boots Heyes?” asked Kyle shocked, looking down at Heyes’ holy, bloody socks.

“Well… that’s what I was telling you” replied Heyes, matter of factly.

“We got jumped… by a bounty hunter… coming out of Hollins…”

“You got jumped!” said Lobo, incredulously.

“By a Bounty Hunter!” added Hank, disbelievingly.

“Coming outta Hollins!” said Red, in amazement.

“That’s what Heyes said.” stated Kid, rather annoyed at all the scepticism, stepping up in front of Heyes.

“Well where was the Kid in all this… and where was our money?” asked Wheat suspiciously, wondering if this was going to be some half-baked excuse for the rest of the gang to get a smaller share of the loot.

“You always have the Kid watching your back Heyes?... How come you got jumped?”

Heyes stepped up in front of Kid to look Wheat straight in the eyes.

“I was getting to that part too…” he said quietly, snugging up the leather glove on his right hand.

He turned and landed a punch on Kid’s jaw that sent him backwards into the water under his horse’s hooves.

“He was busy …with a lady… ‘n’ got distracted” finished Heyes, turning back to Wheat.

Kid sat up rubbing his jaw and looking poleaxed for just a second.  His eyes narrowed as he gazed back to where Heyes stood facing their gang. Guess he owed Heyes that one.

“She weren’t no lady” he muttered sourly.  

He chose to say nothing else.  Standing slowly, and dragging his reluctant horse further up the cut, away from the gathered outlaws.  Heyes ignored him and got busy with Wheat counting out the haul. Heyes pocketed their share and picked up the reins of his mare.

“See you all back at the Hole… soon ...may be…” he said slowly, looking over to where his cousin was throwing stones with venom at the water.

“Ain’t you coming back to the Hole with us Heyes?” asked an awed sounding Kyle, still hoping a real fight might break out amongst the two leaders.

“No.  I got to straighten The Kid out on a few things first” said a distracted sounding Heyes.

“We’ll head on over to Harris town … rest up for a few days.  Then we got some business to take care of …over in Hollins. Till we get back … Wheat's in charge.”

Wheat grew about two inches taller.  He’d been staring at the spot Kid had landed and was also wondering if Heyes had bitten off more than he could chew with the disgruntled gunslinger. He hooked his thumbs in his rig and stood tall at Heyes’ side.

“Sure thing Heyes… er… We’ll be waiting… ‘Course we might go spend just a little money ...over in Browns Depot… first.”

Wheat looked for acceptance of this plan.

Heyes nodded his considered consent.

“Oh … I’m going to be needing a pair of boots…” he said casually, lifting his eyebrows in expectation that his wishes were going to be fulfilled.

“Oh …and there’s a little job I need you to take care of … in a day or two… there’s no rush…”

---oooOOOooo---




“Did you have to hit me so hard?” complained Kid rubbing his jaw, as they sat by their camp fire that night.

The rest of the Devils Hole Gang had long departed. One with stockinged feet.  Heyes smiled at his feet, now snuggly covered by Lobo’s boots, and flexed the fingers of his right hand carefully.

“Well I had to make it look …authentic… didn’t I? They gotta know I don’t take slacking in duty lightly.”

“Hmmmm” said Kid, not sounding convinced.

“Were you telling Wheat the truth? Are we headed over to Harris Town… then to Hollins? And… it was you Heyes... who sorted out security in Hollins… not me.”

Heyes smirked, stifling a snigger.

“I could hardly hit myself Kid…now could I… You’d already covered that one anyway…. Figured I owed you…”

Kids eyebrows told Heyes he could see the point.

“No… Kid… We’re headed straight back to Hollins… I don’t want to believe it was one of our boys that gave us up… But I gotta be sure.  I paid good money to have our backs watched … while we… entertained ourselves in Hollins… and I can’t afford to let a thing like that slip by... We got a reputation to keep up.”

Again, Kid’s eyebrows acquiesced.

“We gotta go find out who gave us up ...to that Bounty Hunter… and we gotta make darn sure it never happens again.”

Heyes threw the remains of his food into the fire with a determined flick of his wrist. The flare of orange flame the fire threw back, reflected in his brooding dark eyes.  Kid got a glance of the mercurial temper his cousin struggled to keep a lid on.  He sat quiet for a moment, staring at his own ill-fitting boots.  Then he snorted out a resigned sigh, and fixed Heyes with his intense blue gaze.

“Yeah… guess so… But not before we buy us some new boots… right?”

Heyes smiled coldly.

“There’s a tailor in Hollins… Right? … and we us got plenty of money.  We’ll have new boots… New Derby hats… We’ll even get us some new suits made up… We’ll show that town how good we are to them… And why they should be taking better care of us while we’re there spending our money.  We could get you a blue stripe to match your eyes Kid … the ladies would like that.”

Kids face broke into a hundred Watt smile… he liked spending money. And he loved ladies... as long as they weren't too ladylike.

“Yeah… and we’ll get you a coal black suit to match yours!” he smirked.

Heyes looked offended.

“I don’t want a funeral suit Kid! … My eyes are brown… LOOK…they’re brown… I’ll get me a brown suit…”

"Brown!?" teased Kid.

---oooOOOooo---



Next day passing some familiar looking rocks … at some distance.

“You told the Boys …to drop that Bounty Hunter’s horse… back near them rocks …right… Heyes?” called Kid from the front.

“Funny thing … I don’t hear him laughing no more…”

“Me neither, Kid” said Heyes, a bit too darkly.

“Huh?” asked Kid, pulling up his horse and looking back over his shoulder to get a good look at his older cousin's face.

“You did … didn’t you Heyes… Right after you hit me… Heyes … ?”

There was a long pause in which Kid’s stomach tightened.

Heyes pulled his eyes away from the rocks, where they'd left Grant Jamerson, and found a small, cold smile for Kid.

“Sure… Kid” he said, rather unconvincingly.

“Sure did.”

Kid's eyes narrowed just a fraction then he chose to look forward to their horizon.  He swallowed down the bile of his discomfit, and kicked his horse on without another word.

Heyes was beginning to worry him.

---oooOOOooo---
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Along Came a Spider (7,500 words) ...an outlaws tale. :: Comments

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Re: Along Came a Spider (7,500 words) ...an outlaws tale.
Post on Thu 01 Jun 2017, 4:38 pm by Penski
Wonderful tale of getting back at that bounty hunter. Heyes sure is a great actor. Good read!
Re: Along Came a Spider (7,500 words) ...an outlaws tale.
Post on Mon 05 Jun 2017, 12:40 am by cac
Such a great line, after such a fun set-up: ““What about it... Heyes… Is the partnership over?” Lazarus lifted his head….”

After the first few mentions of the Skytail, I googled it to no avail (for anything helpful where it could plausibly fit in the Old West!). Ha! Got me too!

Love the dramatic tension of Kid wondering just how hard/vengeful Heyes is getting. I like that the story wrapped up neatly but not this.

You also kept me convinced that it’s an equal partnership in this story, even though Heyes feels he must treat Kid as an underling in front of Wheat and the others. That’s a tricky balance, but you did it. I think it’s because both at the beginning when they are struggling over the horse and at the end with Kid’s eyebrows acquiescing, it’s clear that these things are done only with Kid’s eventual approval. And all the “we” statements by Heyes do help!
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Thanks both... much appreciated

I think the dramatic acting skills called on here for Heyes would have been wonderfully portrayed by Pete, Penski... I love giving him scenes that will satisfy his need to exercise his acting muscles, lol. I'd never write a scene like that for Kid... way too dramatic.

You fell for Skytails cac? That just goes to show how good Heyes' (Pete's) acting is!

I think, in the same way Frankie owes a lot to Christopher from "the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime", Skytails probably owe a lot to my love of Louis Sachar's "Holes" cac.  There's some lizards in there that have a fearsome reputation.... luckily they can't abide onions! I've always loved Louis Sachar's take on the World.  I sneaked some of "the Alchemist" (Paulo Coelho), another one of my favourite authors, into my tale, "the Long Road Back." I'm happy to use all my favourite books for inspiration.  No author is safe... and that includes fanfic authors!

I'm glad you picked up on the tension, and the partnership dynamics, cac.... that's the bit I find really interesting.

Thanks for reading
Calx
 

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