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 A Legal Enterprise by Shenango

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Posts : 432
Join date : 2013-10-13

PostA Legal Enterprise by Shenango

Starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy

Louise     Catherine Bell

Mark Jensen     Charles Martin Smith

Sheriff John McKay     Peter Brown

Matt Jensen     Michael J. Pollard

Mr. Hitchcock     Robert Lansing

Mrs. Brown      Sheree J. Wilson

The heat from the midday sun beat down on the two tired horses. Seeing a pool of water up ahead, their riders didn’t try to steer them away from it, rather they dismounted at the edge of the water to take a break themselves.“Where do you reckon we are, Heyes?”

“Still in Colorado. I’m pretty sure we have another couple hours’ ride before we get back to Wyoming. After that, probably about another two or three days ride to Porterville. We’ve got about four days before we planned to surprise Lom, so we can afford to take our time getting there.”

Kid Curry bent down and soaked his red bandana in the water before pulling it out to wipe his brow. “Heyes,” he said, “does this place look familiar to you at all? I get the feeling we’ve been here before.”

Hannibal Heyes looked around the landscape, then at his partner. “Kid, we’ve been traveling so far and for so long, just about everywhere looks familiar.” He paused, and then continued, “But you’re right, this place does seem familiar.”

“Should we make camp for lunch try to push on? We might be close enough to a town to have a real cooked supper and sleep in beds for a change? It’d be real nice, Heyes. Might even be able to get into a poker game and increase our stake.”

Heyes looked at him, “You feeling alright, Kid?”

Curry, startled, looked back at him. “Fine. Why?”

“It ain’t like you to miss a meal on purpose, even if it is to get to town for a better meal.” The look Curry gave him was the very same one that made strong men cringe and slink away rather than even think about confronting him. Heyes just grinned at the look, put his hat back on his head and grabbed the reins to mount up again. “Come on, let’s get moving, then.”

The two munched on jerky and hardtack as they followed the road to the nearest town. Coming to the outskirts, they paused as they read the sign: “Columbine, 2 miles”. When they got to that sign, they pulled up and stopped.

“Heyes, it hasn’t been that long since we robbed that train going to Columbine. Do you think it’s safe to go there?”

“Well, Kid,” Heyes thought out loud, “there could be people in town who recognize us. Maybe if we lay low overnight and plan to leave tomorrow, we’ll get lucky. Sure would be nice to have a hot meal, sleep in a hotel and sleep in a hotel with a real bed for the night. I’m sure the horses could use some grain and a bit of rest, too, don’t you think?”

Curry nodded his agreement.

It was mid afternoon by the time they hit the city limits. Riding slowly, they cautiously sized up the town, noting the saloon, hotel, livery stable, doctor’s office, general store, bank and finally the jail. The sign over the door said “Sheriff” and in smaller letters beneath that was the name.

“Do we know a Sheriff John McKay, Thaddeus?” Heyes asked as they got near the jail.

At that moment, the door opened and a tall, thin man in his thirties wearing a badge on his vest walked out the door. He stood in front of the door with a cup of coffee in his hand and watched the new arrivals, as well as appearing to look casually over the rest of the main street in the town.

Nonchalantly looking around, they met glances with the man wearing the badge. Curry pushed his hat up with one finger, smiling in greeting to the man who was now watching them. Turning to his partner, “No, I don’t recognize him. Do you?”

“No. I think we’re safe for now. Why don’t you take the horses to the stable and I’ll get us a room?”

“Well, since you have more money than me right now, that works out just fine with me.” They pulled up in front of the hotel, where Curry handed his saddlebags and bedroll down to his partner in exchange for the reins of his horse. “Be back here shortly. Hope the beds are soft.”

Checking in, Heyes looked around the lobby. “I notice you don’t have a restaurant here; is there a good place to eat nearby?”

“Two doors down is the Café run by Mrs. Brown. Best food in town, less you like your own cooking. Anything else I can do for you, Mr.,” he turned the register, “Smith?”

Heyes smiled at, “Well, my partner will be coming along after he boards our horses, if you can tell him what room we’re in, I’d be grateful. And is it possible to get a bath sent up?” The answering nod was all he needed as he turned toward the stairs. Pausing at the bottom, he turned, “Thanks.”

Just as he was about to leave the lobby, Curry came in. “Thaddeus, I’ve registered for both of us. They’re going to send up a bath.” Together, they walked up to the room at the front corner of the hotel, with a view of two streets out the window.

In the privacy of their room, Kid put his hat down and looked out the window to the street below. “Heard something interesting at the livery, Heyes.” Heyes looked up at him. “Seems there’s a treasure in the hills near here.” in bed

Curry noticed that Heyes got that same look on his face when Blake told him about the bust of Caesar being kept in a safe. “Treasure?”

“Yeah, Heyes, a treasure.” He stopped, “Seems there’s rumor about a safe buried in the hills nearby that was stolen off a train by Heyes and Curry. Seems the rumor says they never opened the safe so the money is still there. There’s a finder’s fee on the money.”

“Finder’s fee? You mean for the money inside that Brooker 202? Kid there was fifty-thousand dollars inside that safe!”

“I remember, Heyes. You remember, right before we decided to go for our amnesty? Remember how we dropped that safe off the mountain? Twice? Remember how it never busted open, either time?”

Heyes was pacing the room, a faraway look on his face. Curry could see he was hatching another plan, a Hannibal Heyes plan, one he wasn’t sure he wanted to know about. “Doesn’t this remind you of something?”

“What should it remind me of, Heyes?”

“Not exactly what, Kid, more like ‘who’.” At his partner’s puzzled look, he said one thing: “Leslie O’Hara.”

Curry looked at him, the memory dawning on him. “Leslie and her ‘map to get to the fortune in buried currency’? That Leslie?”

Heyes smiled at him.

“Let me remind you, partner, we’ve gone straight. Doesn’t that mean anything to you at all? It was going after that safe and that fifty-thousand that got us started toward our amnesty in the first place. Are you telling me you want to toss all that away and go back after that money, now?”

There was a look of longing on Heyes’s face that Curry could read easily. He could see the desire in his eyes; the desire to beat the Brooker 202, more than to get the money inside it. If they could get the safe out of the water, he knew Heyes would just love to have a crack at breaking it open.

“Put it out of your mind, Heyes,” Curry said sternly. “We went straight. You keep telling me we’re straight now. We can’t have anything to do with that safe without people finding out who we really are.”

Disheartened, Heyes agreed with him. “You’re right, Kid.”

Their discussion was cut short by the knocking on the door announcing the arrival of the bath Heyes had ordered.

A while later, two cleaner cowboys walked into the café recommended to them by the desk clerk and then sat at the nearest empty table. Mrs. Brown was a slender woman who loved cooking and used her skills to support herself. Being a widow and still in her prime, she was always on the lookout for eligible prospects and kept abreast of the goings on in town; all in the name of being able to make polite conversation, you understand.

The two strange cowboys sat at a table near the back wall, but adjacent to the window, to be able to watch the goings on out on the street. Not unusual, Mrs. Brown decided, and she noticed the guns tied down to their legs as well as the casual, self-confident manner with which the two moved. Not suspicious, mind you, just nice-looking, confident young men. Drifters, no doubt. Well, she’d find out what their story was; she was an expert at drawing people out.

Approaching them with a coffee pot and two cups, she gave a friendly greeting. “Afternoon, boys. We have a special today, fried chicken with mashed potatoes, string beans and tomatoes, and blueberry pie for dessert.”

Heyes looked across the table, “Ma’am, that sounds real good to me.” Thaddeus nodded, “And I think my partner will have that, too.”

“Coming right up. Coffee while you wait?”

Curry answered, “Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.”

Pouring the coffee, she looked them over. “You two new around here?”

Heyes nodded, “Yes, ma’am. Just finished a job for a friend of ours down in Texas, we’re looking for work.”

Excusing herself, she walked back to the kitchen, only to emerge very shortly with two steaming plates and returned to the table. She put the plates on the table and wiped her hands on her apron. “What kind of work you boys looking for?”

“Well, ma’am,” Curry said, “we do a lot of things, long as it ain’t too hard on the back. Know of anything available?”

She smiled at them, “I’ve lived her in this town for a long time. If you’re going to be around for a couple days or so, I’ll ask around; there’s usually someone who can use an extra hand or two this time of year. What are your names?”

The dark one smiled at her and spoke, “I’m Joshua Smith and my partner here is Thaddeus Jones. We’re at the hotel. Appreciate your help, ma’am.”

She blushed slightly, “I’m Rachel Brown. I run this place. Nice to meet you both.” Noting others entering the café, she excused herself and left them with their food.

“Seems like a nice enough town, don’t it, Kid?” Heyes asked.

Curry looked at him, sideways. “You do remember the last time we were around here, don’t you?”

Heyes nodded. “Yeah, Kid, that last train robbery just before we went to see Lom.”

They ate quietly, memories of that failed robbery in mind, evidenced by the few quiet comments that were made. After eating, they decided to check out the saloon. Walking across the street, they took a closer look at the town, familiarizing themselves with the layout. They’d picked up this habit when they took up their outlaw careers and they clung to it for their own safety.

They hadn’t been in the saloon long before an opening at a poker game gave Heyes the opportunity he’d been waiting for to increase their stake. Heyes started slowly, not winning big right off, but waiting until he’d had a chance to size up the players.

Curry, meanwhile, got beer and occupied looking over the room. Since it was still fairly early in the day, there were few women in the room, so no distractions there. A couple copies of the local newspaper were on the bar, so to keep pass the time until a seat at another card game opened up, he took one to a table with a view of both the door and his partner and sat to look it over.

The beer was set before him as he read the top of the page; its delivery startled him out of his thoughts.

Raising his eyes from the cards he held, Heyes, who sensed something was up, looked at him. Curry shook the paper slightly as Heyes raised his eyebrows in question.

After joining the game, Heyes had been dealt a winning hand, and, as the other players were pretty flush, he didn’t want to leave the table without transferring their money to him. The subtle shake of Curry’s head indicated that whatever it was wasn’t urgent, so he played out the hand and raked in the pot.

Curry folded the paper and sat watching the activities around him. A few saloon girls were starting to trickle in, wearing low cut dresses and in a short while, a pianist started playing a lively tune. It wasn’t too long before a shapely brunette in a sky blue satin dress stood before him.

“Like some company, cowboy?”

He stood and pulled out the chair next to him. “Ma’am. I’m Thaddeus Jones. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Well, hello, Mr. Jones, my name is Louise. I think a drink would be real nice, thank you,” she smiled as she sat next to him. He signaled the bartender and pointed to Louise. In a short time, her drink was delivered.

“You’re new around here, Mr. Jones. Passing through or are you planning on staying,” she asked.

Curry took his hat off and laid it down on the table, on top of the newspaper, a reminder to take it with him later. “Well, Louise, my partner and I just got into town today. Call me Thaddeus. Might be we’re going to be around for a bit, depending on if we can find some work available.”

She leaned in toward him, keeping her voice low and giving him a glimpse of her assets. “What is it you and your partner do, Thaddeus? I’ve been here for a while, maybe I can steer you in a direction to help you out.” She smiled coyly and sat back, waiting to see if the attraction was mutual.

He smiled back at her. “We’ve done a lot of different things. Depends on what kind of work is available. How about you Louise, have you lived in town long?”

They talked for a about an hour while Heyes accumulated with an ever-increasing pile of winnings. Louise told him about some of the larger ranches nearby that might have jobs available, as well as openings for a guard at the bank and a temporary deputy, needed until Deputy Leroy would be able to come back to work. Seems the deputy was trying to help one of the locals when he was tripped up in the rigging for a wagon and broke his leg. He’d be off work for about another two weeks or so, and while he was out, Sheriff McKay was doing double duty around town. Not that this was a problem, Louise told him, because nothing exciting seemed to happen in Columbine. Well, of course, except for that train robbery by Heyes and Curry a couple years ago. Seems they blew up a train car trying to get to the money in the safe. Then, when the safe still didn’t open, the gang took it with them. “Rumor has it,” she finished, “That safe is still out there somewhere, and hasn’t ever been opened. So the money is still in there!” She laughed while telling the story, not noticing the discomfort Mr. Jones seemed to be experiencing suddenly.

Taking a sip of his beer, Curry steeled his expression before speaking again. “That a fact?” He asked. “Is that what this story in your paper here’s about?”

“Oh,” she said, “You saw that? Yeah, well, the mining company that was expecting the money got the insurance on it, so now the insurance company is offering a finder’s fee for anyone who can get the money back to them.” She looked at her companion, holding up her glass for another drink. Curry signaled the bartender and ordered another round. Louise smiled and went on, “Now it seems that about half the strangers coming through town these days are looking for that money.”

Louise took her drink from the bartender, and then leaned closer to Curry. “But here I’ve been just gabbing away at you, Thaddeus. Why don’t you tell me about you?”

“Why, Louise,” he smiled at her, “I’ve been enjoying hearing that story. It’s nice of you to fill in some of the details that the paper didn’t print. How do they know where to look? I mean, that Devil’s Hole Gang is supposed to be pretty smart.”

Realizing that she had an interested audience, she went back to the story. “There’s a story that the posse was telling when they got back to town, that the gang dragged that safe away. Made it real easy to follow them,” she laughed again. “Can you imagine?”

“Dragged it away?” He asked, his discomfort growing.

“Sure did. And they took it up into the hills to some place with a lot of rocks. That was where the posse lost the trail on the safe. Funny thing is, they said it looked like they may have done it one other time, cause they said it looked like there was two sets of marks.”
Stoically, Curry took another sip of beer, not commenting, and then smiled at her.

“So, Louise, what do you say we get a little better acquainted?”

“Why Thaddeus, I thought you’d never ask.”

Heyes had been increasing his winnings steadily, but like his partner, was also very aware of the activity in the room around him. He’d been keeping an eye on Kid since they’d exchanged looks earlier and watched him talking to the pretty girl. Heyes wasn’t surprised when he got a glance from Curry, before he stood to follow the girl upstairs. The nod Kid gave him let him know that everything was fine before he left the room, but Heyes couldn’t help but notice that Curry folded up the newspaper he was reading and stuck it in his pocket to take with him.

Sensing no immediate danger, he continued playing.

Conversations around the card game were sparse, but Heyes usually found them informative. Whatever town they were in, he could always count on getting some news of local events from the people whose money he took. The players in this game, however, were mostly cowhands who didn’t spend much time in town. Heyes found he wasn’t able to get much in the way of useful information from them, aside from local gossip.

The game was just beginning to break up when Kid came back downstairs. Heyes got up and wandered to the bar where his partner joined him and they ordered two last drinks. “How’d you do,” Curry asked.

“Not bad. Made enough to cover us for a while, if we’re careful. If we can stay for a couple days, we may be able to add to it.” Looking at his partner he allowed his curiosity to get to him. “What about you? What did you find out in that paper?”

Curry finished his drink and stepped back from the bar. “Why don’t we go back to the hotel and I’ll fill you in?” Heyes nodded and they walked across the street.

Back in the hotel room, Heyes lit the lamp while the Kid pulled the newspaper from his pocket. “Heyes, we may have a problem here,” He said, handing Heyes the newspaper, and waiting while hey scanned the article.

Heyes looked up from the paper after reading it. “Yeah, we may have a problem, that is if someone recognizes us. If we’re lucky, we may have an opportunity, instead.”

“An opportunity? To do what?”

“Kid,” Heyes started, “Think about this for a bit.” He paced around the room, gesticulating in an animated manner as he moved. “This could be a good way for us to show the governor we’re really serious about that amnesty.”

Curry sat in the chair in the room, watching Heyes pace and the idea hatch right before his eyes. As he kept one eye on Heyes, he pulled his colt from its holster and laid it on the table next to him. Then he retrieved his saddlebags and started the familiar daily task of cleaning his gun.

“What do you mean, Heyes,” he asked. “Are you sure that we should go anywhere near where that safe is buried?”

"Well, think about it, Kid. We know about where it dropped into that stream so we have a good place to start looking. If we can get it out…"

Curry interrupted him, "If we can get it out of the water, you want another chance to crack it open. I know that look."

Heyes looked down, grinning, he knew that he couldn't deny it and wasn't even going to try. Pacing again, he looked at Curry. "Yeah, Kid, I would like another chance to crack it open. I ain't denying that. But we could really use this to get closer on our amnesty. If I can open that 202, we could take the money to Lom and have him turn it over to the insurance company for us."

Curry looked over his newly cleaned gun, putting it back into the holster with a spin, and then put away the cleaning supplies. "What about the five-percent finder's fee? I don't know as we'd be able to claim that if we gave the money to Lom to return and we could really use the money. That's twenty-five hundred dollars, Heyes."

"I'm going to need to think on this a while, Kid," he said as he sat on the bed and started to pull off his boots.

Realizing that Heyes probably wouldn't get much sleep that night while he was working out a plan, Curry got ready for bed and finally turned off the light. As he did so, he took one last look at Heyes, fully dressed, laying on top of the quilt with his hands behind his head, staring sightlessly at the ceiling.

When a stream of light slipped through a crack in the curtains and hit his face, Curry rolled over and woke up. Looking over, he noticed that Heyes had managed to get into the bed at some point during the night. Hopeful that this bit of progress would be a sign that he'd thought things through enough to actually have a plan, the Kid rose and started his morning ablutions. Quietly, he dressed, not sure how long Heyes had laid awake thinking. As he was just reaching for his gun belt to buckle it on, Heyes rolled over.

"'Bout time you woke up," Curry greeted him.

"And morning to you, too," Heyes responded. "Been up long?" He sat up in the bed, looking around the room, noticing its details he'd missed when they checked in late in the day before.

"Not too long," he answered as he walked over to look out the window. He noticed the signs of the town slowly coming to life outside, and paused to take it all in. Without turning around, he asked, "Did you come up with any ideas on recovering that money from the Brooker 202?"

Heyes who was now shaving, paused to answer him. "I'm still working on that. I think we need to go take a look in the area where we dropped the safe. Wheat and the boys looked in that water and didn't find it. I'd rather not have to spend a lot of time swimming or looking around for it either." He went back to shaving, continuing, "Then again, I think those boys I played poker with last night mentioned that they'd had a couple dry seasons since that robbery. Could be the water level has gone down some. That might help us find out where it landed."

Curry watched him, thoughtfully. "I guess this means we're going to be staying in town for a couple days or so, that right? Cause if we are, Heyes, I think we need to be real cautious about looking around out there. If we come up with it right away after just riding into town yesterday and hearing about this last night…"

Heyes finished for him, "I know, Kid, it's gonna look real suspicious if we do that. No, what we need is a cover story; some reason to be in town and looking for it. Until then, we just keep doing what we normally do in town to earn money – play poker."

"Well, I hope you got an idea planned for us, because the idea of having to come up with one is making me hungry. You ready for breakfast yet?"

Heyes had finished dressing and was just putting on his gun belt as he turned to answer. "Yeah, I'm ready." Grabbing his hat and handing Curry his, they walked out the door.

Back in Mrs. Brown's restaurant for breakfast, Heyes took advantage of her personable and garrulous nature. He asked about that local legend of the safe buried by the Devil's Hole Gang. Encouraged by her audience, and the restaurant not being particularly busy that morning, she spent a little extra time with the handsome new strangers. She told them what the town learned from the posse that chased after the robbery. It didn't surprise her much when they started asking questions, she told them, that newspaper article had stirred everything all up again.

"Mrs. Brown, we surely do appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to talk to us. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of details in the newspaper about that safe," Mr. Smith told her.

"Yes, ma'am," Mr. Jones added, "and there don't seem to be many jobs around here."

"Well, boys," she responded, "that safe is famous around these parts. So is the robbery for that matter. Why, it seems that right after that robbery, Heyes and Curry just seemed to disappear. Nobody's heard much about them since."

Smith and Jones glanced at each other, carefully, maintaining their best poker faces. "Is that a fact, Mrs. Brown?" asked Smith. "Well, that's real surprising then."

"Yeah, Joshua," Jones replied, "It must've been one really strong safe if even Hannibal Heyes couldn't break into it."

"That's what we heard when the posse got back here," Mrs. Brown added with a nod.

Heyes quickly passed a harsh look to Curry, then turned his attention to Mrs. Brown again. "So, Mrs. Brown, does anyone know whereabouts that safe might be? There was some mention in the paper, but not enough to send a person off to look for it, if they were a mind to be looking that is."

"Well, there are a few stories about that." The boys nodded and she continued. "The posse was able to follow the tracks from when the gang dragged the safe, at least partway up the side of the mountain a few miles north of here. For some reason, though, the posse said it looked like there were two sets of tracks going up that mountain. They figured part of the gang had something else they were dragging to make a diversion. The marshal never did figure out what that was, he just kept talking about how clever that gang was."

Mrs. Brown didn't quite get the reason for the small chuckle her two customers shared; and missed the look of relief that passed between them.

Finally, having finished their meals, Mrs. Brown shooed them from the restaurant, so she could close up and start preparing for the mid-day crowd. They wandered back toward the hotel, planning to sit on a couple chairs on the porch, so they could talk about what they'd learned. It was too early yet to go to the saloon; that would come later. For now, Heyes sat watching the town going about its business.

Curry, meanwhile, had detoured to the general store a few doors down from the restaurant and was on his way back with a pair of cigars for them. They would help to pass the time and he knew from experience, would help Heyes plan whatever it was they were going to do.

They relaxed into the chairs on the porch; it wasn't long before Sheriff McKay wandered toward them. Heyes reached over and nudged Curry when he saw the man with the badge approaching them. Silently, they agreed that the plan was to be calm and not look suspicious at all.

McKay came up on the porch and leaned back on the railing next to where the two were relaxing. He didn't notice any change in demeanor of the two strangers, but being the lawman in town, his duty was to check them out. He pushed his hat back over dark hair and looked at them, suddenly all business.

"Howdy, boys," He greeted them. "I'm Sheriff McKay. I saw you ride into town yesterday. What's your business here?"

Curry pushed his hat up slightly, much like he did when they rode in, while Heyes spoke. "Nice to meet you, Sheriff. I'm Joshua Smith and this is my partner, Thaddeus Jones. We figured to be relaxing here a few days after a job we just finished. Thought Columbine seemed like a nice little town; a good place to rest up. Then we thought we'd look into getting a couple of jobs."

"And what kind of work is it you boys do," McKay asked.

"We just finished a job for a lawyer, delivering some documents for him. Said they were important and he needed to make sure they got there safe, so he hired us."

"What else is it you boys do?" He asked.

"Well, Sheriff," Curry started.

Heyes interrupted him. "We've done a lot of things, Sheriff. We've done trail drives, been cow hands, a while back we helped a rancher rid his place of mountain lions." He paused, smiling that million-dollar smile that had kept them out of trouble countless times.

McKay, looking interested, paused, then spoke, "I notice you boys wear your guns tied down. Does that mean you're any good with them?"

Suspicious now, Curry leaned forward, "We know enough about using them to know how to keep them in the holsters, most of the time, Sheriff."

"We don't hold with gunplay, Sheriff," Heyes continued, "But since we travel a lot, it makes sense for us to know how to use them."

McKay nodded. "Yeah, it does make sense at that." Looking around briefly, he continued. "I noticed you and your guns on your way into town yesterday; figured you knew what to do with them. Since I'm the sheriff here, it's my job to check you out."

He paused while Heyes and Curry now gave him their full attention. They were on alert now, wondering if they would have to make a sudden exit from town; hoping not to have the conversation come to that.

"Sheriff, it sounds like you've got something on your mind," Heyes said.

McKay crossed his arms in front of him and leaned back against the railing, trying to be casual and relaxed. He'd briefly noticed the tension that seemed to take hold of these two strangers. "I do have something in mind, fellas. My deputy is down with a broken leg for a few more weeks and, well, it's that time of year when we may get a cattle drive or two coming through town. I would be hard placed to keep things running on my own here with drovers coming in; hell-raising on their minds."

Heyes relaxed some, sensing what was coming.

"Boys, I'd like to offer you temporary jobs as deputies."

Curry suddenly sat forward, both legs of his chair hitting the porch. "Deputies? Joshua, did you hear that, he wants us to be deputies?"

McKay leaned forward, towards them and spoke quietly, "Now, I can offer you two-dollars a day and the city will pick up your hotel and meals, if you're interested. I'll only need you for a couple weeks, though. Doc MacIntyre says that Hutch, that's my deputy, Dave Hutchinson, will be able to come back to work in about two weeks or so." He looked them over, waiting for an answer. "What do you say, fellas? You interested?"

They looked at each other, not saying a word. Finally, Heyes spoke up. "Sheriff McKay, that's really nice of you to offer the jobs to us. Mind if we talk about it a bit before we give you an answer?"

At McKay's puzzled look, Heyes continued, "We were thinking about heading up to Porterville, to visit a friend of ours up there."

"Oh? Who would that be?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Heyes swallowed; he was committed now, and had to keep going. "Sheriff Lom Trevors."

"You boys know this Sheriff Trevors pretty well?"

Curry sat up and fumbled a little before speaking, "We've known Lom, uh, Sheriff Trevors for a while now. He's helped us get some of the jobs we've done recently."

"And we were heading to Porterville to thank him," Heyes continued. "Haven't seen him in a while and wanted to let him know in person, how much we appreciate all the help he's given us with work and all."

"Well," McKay said, "Lom Trevors has a good, solid reputation as an honest lawman. If you're friends of his, I suppose I could use that as a recommendation for you. I don’t suppose I need to send him a telegraph to check on you…"

Heyes interrupted him, "We wouldn't mind sending him a telegraph. We were going to let him know that we're on our way to see him anyway. But we could get back to you if he doesn't have a job lined up for us, Sheriff."

McKay considered this briefly before agreeing. "That sounds to me like you're seriously considering my offer, boys."

Curry looked at his partner, silently wondering what Heyes had on his mind. Thoughtfully, he continued to smoke the cigar he'd started and kept his own counsel, letting the two of them work out the details.

Heyes looked at Curry, reading the questions in his eyes, then back to the sheriff. "Well, to be honest, we've been deputies before and gave it up for reasons of health, so we would want to discuss it. How soon do you need an answer, Sheriff?"

"Well," McKay answered, "The first of the cattle drives coming around here usually don't come through here for about another week or so, but I would like to have time to get you used to the town, introduce you around and let folks know you're working for me. That is, if you decide to take the jobs."

"Yeah, we'll get back to you on that," Curry said and Heyes nodded in agreement.

As McKay walked away, the Kid turned to Heyes. “What do you have in mind, partner?”

Heyes was sitting back, considering the conversation. “I would like to find that safe, Kid,” he said, “and I’m not sure how we can duck the sheriff if we’re in town and don’t appear to be working while we’re looking for it.”

Curry waited for him to continue, almost able to see the wheels turning behind the dark eyes. After a few moments of watching Heyes thinking, he said, “Well, while you’re trying to figure it all out, why don’t we take the horses out for some exercise? We can at least ride on out there and take a better look around, right?”

Heyes came out of his thoughts and looked at his partner, then smiled.

“What?” Curry asked him.

“I think taking the horses out is a good idea. And since we don’t have a posse on our tails, we can spend a little bit of time looking over that spot out there.”

“We didn’t have a lot of time there before.”

“Yeah, Kid, I know. This time we can take a good look; I bet we can find that 202.” Heyes had an almost hungry look in his eyes, and Curry could tell he was just chomping at the bit to get at that safe – the one that got away.

Riding slowly out of town the way they came in, both noticed Sheriff McKay watching them. Noticing that they had no saddlebags, he decided they probably weren't leaving town and turned to go back into his office, closing the door behind him.

After a few miles and a comfortable silence, which Curry figured would allow Heyes to do some additional planning, they started getting close to where they had been the day before, watering their horses. The horses reacted to the smell of the nearby water and pushed to get there. Finding a spot under a tree and near the water, they tied the mounts to allow them to drink and graze in the grass nearby.

Heyes started walking around the area, carefully considering what had happened the day they lost that safe. He looked around at the water, and then looked up to the rocks above them. Walking a bit, he divided his gaze between ground level and above him.

The Kid, meanwhile, was remembering also. He recognized the area where they'd stood to throw the Brooker down and after a short bit of wandering called out, "Heyes! Over here!"

Heyes perked up and hastily moved to where Curry was standing. When he got to his side, he noticed nothing there. "What did you find, Kid?"

"Well, look," he said, pointing to the ground.

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. And in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone.
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Re: A Legal Enterprise by Shenango
Post on Sat 21 Mar 2015, 1:44 am by royannahuggins

His eyes followed where Curry was pointing, and he said, "Look at what? There's nothing there but a hole in the ground."

"That's it!" Kid excitedly answered him. "Don't you remember, Heyes? The first time we threw that Brooker off the cliff up there, it landed in the mud. The boys had to dig it out so we could get it back up there," he pointed to the top of the rocks, "to try Wheat's plan."

"Don't remind me."

"Well, don't you see, Heyes? This is the hole they dug to get the safe out. That means we're in the right area at least." Heyes just looked at him. "Don't that narrow things down a bit as for trying to find it?"

Realizing what the Kid meant, Heyes broke into a smile. "That's good, Kid. I like the way you figure things. Let's get the horses and go back up on those rocks to see things from a different perspective."

"A different what?"

"It's just a different way of looking at things; a different view on things."

Curry nodded and started toward the horses. Both were quiet, thinking and remembering the events of that day, which had ultimately led them to the quest for amnesty.

As they reached the top of the rocks, they wandered a bit, looking for familiar landmarks that might help them remember. Finally finding a place that looked like they'd been there before, they stood at the edge and looked down. From there, they saw the hole where the Brooker landed on its first trip downhill and looked out toward the water and the rocks.

"Heyes, I sorta remember those couple of big rocks out there in the water. Isn't that about where Wheat pulled that old stove out?"

The last couple of seasons had been dryer than previous years, and the water level was indeed lower than the last time they’d been there. Taking a thoughtful look around, he studied the rocks in the water. The level around them was definitely lower than before, and after a few minutes, he grabbed the Kid's arm and pointed. "There!"

Curry looked down at the rocks. "You mean that big one on the edge of the water there?" he asked. "Wasn't it closer to the middle of the water?"

"I think that's the one, Kid. Remember, they haven't had as much rain or snow in the last couple years. The winters have been milder. That would account for the water level dropping."

Looking further around, the Kid noticed something that looked different. "Yeah, Heyes, I think that might have something to do with it. Then again," he pointed off slightly upstream, "There appears to have been a rock slide that may have diverted the river some. That might account for the water level dropping, too."

"Kid, right now, I'd take either of them or both. If the water level is lower, it's likely we can just find that Brooker and finish what we started."

He stopped when Curry gave him a slightly shocked look. "What do you mean by 'finish what we started', Heyes? You aren't thinking of keeping that money after all this time trying to go straight, are you?"

"No," Heyes admitted. "Although it's mighty tempting. Naw, Kid, what I meant was that I'd finally get a chance to try and open it without having to worry about a posse coming at us and could take my time."

It had become a matter of personal defeat that the Brooker had bested Heyes. Even though Curry knew he wasn't going to keep the money and give up their amnesty, the thought still concerned him. He was, after all, a worrier. "You really want to prove something there, don't you Heyes?"

He looked sheepish. It wasn't often that Heyes admitted that something had trumped him, and the Kid was the only one who ever really heard the admissions when it happened. He realized that it was important to his partner, if only to satisfy himself that he could beat that safe. Curry put an arm on his shoulder, "Okay, Heyes. We'll go after it."

The smile he got in return was one of true joy at being encouraged by the only person he'd needed to support him.

"Let's go look at those rocks again, Kid."

As they rode down the hillside again, they noticed a couple of men wandering the hills. Stopping briefly when the partners hailed them, one of the men approached.

"Howdy, fellas. Nice day, ain't it?" one of them greeted him. He wasn't too tall, but a bit stocky and scruffy in his looks. There was nothing remarkable about his clothes or his hat, or the way his gun was worn.

"Howdy," Curry said. As they reined in and stopped, he carefully removed the loop securing his colt in its holster. Only Heyes noticed the Kid move.

"You boys ain't from around here, are you?" the second man asked. He bore a resemblance to the first; he was slightly taller and thinner, not dressed any better, but looked a bit more dangerous.

"What makes you say that," Heyes asked, instantly cautious.

"Didn't I see you playing poker in the saloon last night?" He looked directly at Heyes.

Heyes returned the look, "Yeah, so?"

"I remember you. You won a fair bit as I recall. Smith, isn't it?" he asked.

The Kid was getting a little tired of the give and take there, especially since they were doing most of the giving. He eased his hand toward his holster as Heyes gave him a slight signal with his eyes, which said, 'Let's keep this light, Kid, unless they push it.' Acknowledging his partner with a return look, he said, "What business is it of yours, friend?"

Curry gave him a hard look from which he immediately backed down, which pleased Heyes to no end. They both knew that any confrontation could be dangerous and generally tried to avoid them. It helped when they ran into folks of an adversarial nature if they could talk them down.

Since they'd begun the quest for amnesty, Heyes had seen his partner change some. The fast temper that was known to be associated with the reputation of Kid Curry, he knew had mellowed considerably. Curry was never anywhere near the hothead he was reputed to be, but then most folks meeting a man named Thaddeus Jones wouldn't expect him to be Kid Curry. Because of their aliases, and due to the lack of the reputation "Jones" had, Jed Curry had been able to relax some. Heyes knew his partner had become more like his true nature as Thaddeus Jones, in part because he didn't have to uphold the reputation of Kid Curry. The aliases had allowed them to both take life less seriously and blend in more with just plain folks.

Heyes was also aware that Curry was generally a levelheaded man who, while he didn't go around starting things, was more than capable of finishing them. So when the two strangers before them behaved as though they were ready to cause trouble, he deferred to his partner, who he knew would handle the situation.

The tension level was raised by Curry's questioning of the two, and they backed down at the challenge. The second man put an arm out to stop his friend from moving and spoke. "We didn't mean nothing, mister. Just making conversation. My name's Matthew Jensen and this is my brother, Mark. We heard that story about the lost safe out here that was left by Heyes and Curry and thought we'd try to find it for ourselves. That finder's fee would be real nice to have."

Relaxing some, Heyes leaned forward. "Yeah, we heard about that when we hit town yesterday. Had any luck so far, boys?"

Mark Jensen leaned forward around his brother. "None so far. But since that safe was brought up into the hills and there ain't no tracks heading down at all, we figured they probably stashed it in a cave hereabouts. There's lots of caves in the hills, here."

Heyes nodded. "Never thought about that. That story in the paper said there were two sets of tracks on that hillside. You sure they didn't drag it back down with them?"

Curry raised an eyebrow and looked over at Heyes. 'Silver tongue, Heyes, and a genius to boot.'

The brothers looked at each other, realizing the logic of what Smith was saying. "We never thought of that," Matthew said. Looking at his brother, "Mark, we should maybe look at some of the caves farther down the mountain here."

Mark nodded. "I know that posse said there was two sets of tracks on that trail but they lost them when they got to the rocks. That's about where the caves are." Looking at them, he nodded, "That gives us a few more places to look." Then, realizing what he'd said, he asked, "Mr. Smith, you and your friend there aren't out here looking to find that money are you? Cause we'd hate to have to compete with you to find it."

Heyes looked over at them, than at his partner. "No, fellas, we're just exercising our horses. We passed this place on the way in and it looked like a good spot to maybe do some fishing." Curry sat stoically allowing Heyes to handle them. "Think we'll be heading back to town; good luck to you, boys," he said. Looking to Curry he said, "Thaddeus," And they moved off toward town again.

After they were safely out of earshot, Curry spoke. "They reminded me of Kyle and Lobo. Did you think so?"

"There sure seemed to be a resemblance there, Kid," he chuckled.

"Do you think those boys ever came back here to try and find that safe again, Heyes? I mean, we split up with them right after that robbery and went to Porterville. After the bank blew there, they left and we haven't seen them much since then. We might not have heard if they were able to get it and blow it open."

Heyes considered this. "I guess it could have happened, Kid, but somehow, I don't think that they'd have come back this way to find that Brooker after that posse chased them out of here."

They rode in silence for a while until they got closer to town again. As they did, they noticed Sheriff McKay going back into his office.


"Yeah, Kid."

"What do we tell Sheriff McKay about those deputy jobs? He's going to ask us again."

"I know, Kid, I know. I'd like to be able to hold him off a while first and I'd still like to get a chance to go after that safe. That was fifty-thousand dollars in there, Kid. Like those Jensen boys said, it's a good amount for a finder's fee. And like we discussed earlier, we could get the money to Lom and it can't help but make us look good to the governor, that we're giving the money back."

"That don't answer what I asked."

"I know, Kid. Let's just go get some supper and play some poker. Poker helps me figure stuff out, especially if I've been winning."

Later on, in the saloon, Smith and Jones settled down to a friendly game of poker. The talk during the game revolved around local gossip, as it had the night before. The difference this night was that the topic was focused on that legendary safe, left behind by Heyes, Curry and the Devil's Hole gang. They listened to it all and even ventured a question or two about what the local folks thought happened. Theories were abundant, and they found themselves covering grins at a couple of them. It seemed the local people were impressed by the reputations of Heyes and Curry and in general gave the gang more credit than they deserved for things that happened.

After several hours of play, their pockets lined a bit more than even they had hoped, and a general notion of being legends that they couldn't share with anyone else, they headed back to their hotel room for the night.

Once inside, they chuckled as they recalled some of the comments they'd heard about themselves. Feeling generally pleased with themselves, they repeated some of the more outrageous ones and wondered how they ever managed to not hear these stories before while Curry cleaned his colt. Heyes congratulated himself for having managed to avoid McKay for the day, thus they were able to avoid having to come up with a reason for not wanting to be deputies; at least for now.

The next morning found them once again in the café being served breakfast by Mrs. Brown. As they sat enjoying their coffee, Sheriff McKay walked in. Seeing them, he, wandered toward their table, and stopped. "Morning, boys," he greeted them. "I hear that poker has been good to you."

Curry nodded over his coffee cup. "Morning, Sheriff," Heyes answered him, smiling. "Some fellows never seem to realize the hazards of drawing to an inside straight."

McKay smiled. "I have noticed that from time to time. I also noticed that you boys play an honest game. Long as you keep playing honest, we won't have any problems in my town."

He met eyes, first with Heyes, then with Curry, to show that he meant business. Not seeing any challenge there, he relaxed and then asked them, "Have you boys thought any more about that job offer? I could really use a couple of cool hands over the next couple of weeks."

Silently, and almost imperceptibly, they looked at each other before Heyes spoke. "We talked about it Sheriff, and we decided to accept your offer; but only for a short while. We like to keep moving around. You did say you'd only need us for a week or two, right?"

McKay smiled and sat down with them, "That's right; only a week or two. After that my regular deputy should be able to get back to work," he said. "I should let you boys know, though, we've had a bit of excitement here lately."

Heyes leaned back in his chair, having an idea what was coming. McKay continued, "Ever since that story broke in the newspaper about the reward offered by the insurance company, well, we've had strangers climbing all over the hills outside of town."

"Yeah, Sheriff, we read about that in the newspaper. Did the Devil's Hole Gang really bury that safe in the area?" Heyes asked him.

McKay signaled for a cup of coffee and continued, "Well, that's a bit of a mystery, a local legend, so to speak." Misinterpreting the looks he got, he continued, "I s'pose if you're planning to work for me, I'd better get you caught up on the story.

"A couple of years ago, there was a train coming here to Columbine. There was a big payroll on that train, and somehow word got out about it. Well, the Devil's Hole Gang stopped the train to get that payroll." He leaned back to chuckle a little. "I guess Hannibal Heyes was having himself a bad day or something, because he wasn't able to get into that safe to get the money."

Curry looked over and saw Heyes trying to hide his discomfort. Both remaining poker-faced, they let McKay continue.

"Knowing that there would be a posse on the way, they took the safe out of the train and dragged it up into the hills outside of town a couple miles. There wouldn't have been a posse anywhere in the territory that couldn't have followed that trail; it was real obvious with the marks the safe made." He paused, looking out the window of the restaurant before continuing. "The funny thing is, the marshal who was leading that posse wasn't ever able to find them or the safe."

"Why is that, sheriff?" Heyes asked him.

"Well," McKay continued, "There were two different sets of tracks heading up onto the mountainside. The tracks ended in the rocks, so the marshal wasn't able to figure if they took the safe up and brought it down or just how the other set of tracks got there."

"Well, what did that marshal say about the loot," Curry asked.

McKay sat back. "The marshal never did know what to think about that. All he kept sayin' was that those two, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, were awful smart. The posse caught site of them a while later on, after they followed the tracks up the mountainside and back down again, but by then, well, the marshal and the posse figured they must have hid that safe until the heat died down so they could go back for it later. They chased Heyes and Curry for a while, but they outsmarted the posse and managed to lose them."

Heyes reached for his coffee cup, "That's some story, sheriff. I guess what they say about that Hannibal Heyes is true, he's some kind of a genius." Curry coughed, choking slightly on his coffee. "You okay there, Thaddeus?" His look of innocence was met with a pained glare back at him.

"Went down the wrong way," he coughed out. "I'm fine."

"Well," McKay said, "Now that the insurance company is offering a reward on the payroll, we have all kinds of treasure hunters crawling around in the hills outside of town. There is a pair in particular that I wanted to warn you boys about."

They sat up a little at the comment. "Oh? And who are they?" Curry asked.

"They call themselves the Jensen brothers. Their names are Matthew and Mark. They've been in some trouble recently, and they're none too bright, but they have been known to get into the middle of any kind of excitement that shows up."

"Are they dangerous," Curry asked.

"No, just troublesome. More nuisance than malicious, but it's best to keep an eye on them if you can." Noticing the looks both gave him, McKay continued, "Seems like every time there's some sort of ruckus in town, those two are in the center of it. If you boys are going to be helping out here in town, you need to know who to watch out for."

Finishing their coffee, McKay stood. "So if you boys are ready to start, I can get you badges right now; just come on with me over to the office. I'll let the hotel know that the city will be picking up your room and meal charges for the next two weeks."

After picking up their badges, Heyes and Curry started to walk the town. The sheriff had let several of the town's merchants know that he'd gotten some help till his deputy was back on his feet, for which several of them were grateful. The newspaper story about the missing payroll taken by Heyes and Curry seemed to have a lot of the town on edge. The extra help seemed to calm nerves, especially when they wore their guns low over their hips and tied down.

By dinnertime that day, new deputies Smith and Jones had made the rounds of the town. Overall, Columbine was known to be a quiet town, so McKay told them that they could take turns having evenings off if one or the other of them wanted to play poker in the saloon. McKay made it a point to point out the Jensens to them, and they agreed to keep an eye on them.

After supper, they patrolled the town again as it was getting dark, before heading to the saloon. Winning the toss of the coin, Heyes removed his badge and pocketed it to sit in on a game of poker. "Nothing wrong with winning at poker while we're also collecting pay," he told the Kid. "Besides, I can keep an eye peeled for trouble while I’m there." True to his word, Heyes stuck to drinking coffee, just in case his partner needed him.

While he slowly increased their stake with his winnings, Heyes noted the comings and goings of the locals. Curry came in once or twice during the evening, met eyes with Heyes, and then took leave to watch the town. As the game broke up, Heyes pocketed his winnings and walked over to the sheriff's office with Curry. As they entered, Heyes scanned the walls looking for their wanted posters; luckily not finding them. "Kid," he said, "One of us should probably stay here for the night; the other one can go back to the hotel and get some sleep." Curry looked at him and he continued, "Since you patrolled while I was playing poker, you go get some shut eye. Tomorrow, you can take a turn here."

Curry nodded, and then started for the door. As he opened it, they heard the sounds of glass breaking. The two wasted no time running down the street toward the sound. As they arrived at the mining supply company, they noticed broken glass just inside the window. Looking inside, they noticed a rock on the floor. Working from years of practice, they quickly surveyed the area.

"See anything?" Heyes asked.

"No, nobody around either."

"Whoever it was, they weren't doing such a good job of planning, making so much noise."

"Doesn't look like they got anything either."

"No, Kid," Heyes said, "And that makes me wonder what they're after and when they're going to try to come back to get it."

"That's what I was thinking, too, Heyes," he answered. "I don't guess we're going to be getting much sleep tonight. I'll take the west end of town, you take the other side."

They walked off, both on alert for any activity at all, suspicious or not.

The next morning over breakfast, they filled in Sheriff McKay on the events of the prior night. While he was grateful they let him get a full night's sleep, he was pleased that they had both spent much of the evening keeping an eye on his town.

"Looks like I made a good hiring decision with you two boys," he said. "I'll talk to the owner of the store and make sure nothing was taken. You both go get some sleep and come see me later today. And good work."

After several hours of sleep, Heyes woke to find Curry cleaning his colt. "Morning, Kid," he said. "Been up long?"

"Not long, but I know you were up thinking after I went to sleep. What'd you come up with?"

"Well," he started, "I don't know what's going on with the break in, but I would like to go back out and take another look at the area where we left that safe."

"You come up with something?"

"I'm not exactly sure, Kid, but some of those rocks near that stream look awful familiar and I would like to get a better look."

Curry nodded, "Okay then, let's go eat and then we can head out and take another look."

A short time later, they were back in the area where they'd dropped the safe into the water. Heyes thought long and hard about the area, especially the section with the large rock in the stream before them. As they noticed before, the water level had dropped since they lost the safe, and they figured it was just a question of time before they could find it and pull it out.

Being a clear, warm day, seeing two men going for a swim wouldn't be that unusual a sight, so they tethered their horses nearby and waded in the water. After a few minutes of searching, Curry noticed Heyes breaking the surface of the water, wearing a big grin.

"You find it?" Curry asked, excited.

"I think so, Kid, I really think so!" Heyes answered.

"You sure it's not another cook stove?"

"No, Kid, I'm pretty sure I got it. Wanna come take a look?"

Curry swam the short distance to where Heyes was and they both ducked under the water. Not more than about six feet down, there sat a large, boxy object, covered with algae and silt. Heyes wiped his hand across the front, near where they saw the hinges of the door and found the proud nameplate of the Brooker Safe Company, Model 202.

Both showing happiness in their eyes, they rose to the surface once again and swam to the shore.

"So now what," Curry asked. "What's your plan for getting it out of the water, Heyes?"

"When we got it here, we had three of us dragging it. There's only going to be us this time – we're working against water and it's settled into the ground real good. I'm going to have to think on it for a while Kid, to figure out how to get it out. We can't stay underwater long enough to dig."

Relaxing on the side of the stream, both had stretched out and dozed for a bit, before dressing to go back to town. As they rode back, Heyes was deep in thought, but shared his ideas with his partner as they came to him. On the way, they once again spotted the Jensen brothers doing something near some caves partway up the hill. By the time they got back to town, all Heyes had been able to come up with was that they needed to put a few strong ropes around the safe and try to drag it off the bottom and onto the shore with their horses, like they had done when they stole it so long ago. They knew it would be a couple days before they'd have the time to do this, what with their jobs and all, so they needed to make sure they had enough strong ropes to do the job.

McKay greeted them as they rode back into town. They stopped at the Sheriff's office and tied their horses to the rail before going inside with him. Pouring them each a cup of coffee he told them what he'd found out about the break in.

"According to Mr. Hitchcock, the store owner, there isn't anything missing. But he also told me that the Jensen brothers were in there yesterday looking around and asking a lot of questions about dynamite and how to use it."

Both Heyes and Curry looked concerned at that, and Heyes inquired, "They weren't asking about how to use nitro, were they, Sheriff?"

"No," he answered them. "We got lucky there. Those boys aren't too smart but they do know enough to not mess with nitro. Besides, Hitchcock doesn't keep nitro in the store; he gets it by special order only. And when he gets an order, he usually lets me know, especially if it's someone who doesn't normally use it."

The two deputies seemed to relax visibly, which McKay noticed. "You boys had experience with nitro?"

Curry looked at Heyes before speaking, "Well, we've taken jobs in the past to deliver mining supplies, including nitro and dynamite."

"Yes," Heyes added, "And we've both got a healthy respect for explosives."

McKay nodded his understanding. "I see. Well, since nothing was missing, just keep an eye on the place tonight. And if you see the Jensen brothers, you might keep an eye on them, too. I still got a feeling they're up to something."

Neither Heyes nor Curry mentioned that they'd seen the brothers on their way back into town and that they were still searching for caves. After they left the office, Curry asked, "Should we have told him about seeing the brothers, Heyes?"

"I don't think so," he answered. "If we tell him we saw them, then we'd have to explain why we were out in the area. If he knows we're looking for that safe too, well, let's just say it's dangerous enough us being deputies. If he begins to think we know anything about the safe or are looking for it, he might start looking through his old file of dodgers and find ours."

"Okay, Heyes," he said.

That night, the town was quiet again. Curry took a turn sitting in on the card game for a few hours. He was able to win a bit, but not as much as Heyes had the night before. The big news the town was talking about was the break in at Hitchcock's Mining Supply and Curry noticed that nerves were a bit on edge.

The excitement of the broken window at Hitchcock's Mining Supply seemed to simmer down some, calming the townsfolk. It was about three days after their last trip to the stream before Deputies Smith and Jones had time off together. Sunday morning was slow and quiet in Columbine, just like in most other small towns. Just about everyone in town was at the church for services and those that weren't; well most of them still hadn't risen for the day.

Taking advantage of the local inactivity, the boys took their horses out again for exercise. The trail to their destination was becoming familiar to them and getting there took less time than they remembered. The continuation of the recent dry spell in the area was working in their favor for a change, which they noticed as they arrived by the decrease in the water level where the safe was buried.

They got ready to swim and each took a coil of rope, which they would tie around the safe to dislodge it and use to pull it to dry land, when Curry stopped.


"Yeah, Kid."

"Once we pull that safe up, we're going to need to put it somewhere out of the way till you can get the time to open it. Have you figured that out?"

Looking around, Heyes pointed to a small opening at the bottom of the hillside. "I found it the last time we were here. Large enough for what we need and not real noticeable."

Curry nodded, and then got ready to go into the water. Heyes followed him a few minutes later, and after some splashing around, they managed to get the safe ready to be pulled from the water. Just to be certain, they made sure that it was somewhat dislodged from where it had settled, then they surfaced and took the other ends of the ropes with them as they got out of the water.

Deciding they may need to "help" the safe along a bit, they flipped a coin. Curry stayed by the edge of the water while Heyes fastened the ropes around the saddle horns of both horses and gently urged them forward.

After a couple of false starts and the Kid having to go back and make sure the ropes were secure, they finally managed to get the safe from the water. After more maneuvering, they moved it into the cave and then stopped to make coffee and eat some food they'd remembered to bring with them.

Heyes kept looking over at the wet box, until Curry spoke to him. "Heyes, how soon are you going to try to get into it?" safe2

He paused. "I think it's probably a good idea to let it dry out a bit, Kid. Then we can look at it and find out if it's rusted or not. I'd rather not have to blow it open…"

"I figured you'd want another crack at it," Kid chuckled. Heyes lowered his head, grinning. "Well," he went on, "It's well hidden, and we need to be headed back to town, so how about we come back again, after it's had some time to dry out; you can have a go at it then?"

Looking at his pocket watch, he agreed. "Okay, Kid. We need to be heading back to town anyway."

When they got back to town, things appeared as though they were still as quiet as when they left. Stopping at McKay's office to check in, he invited them to sit down. Pouring them coffee, he sat behind the desk.together

"I wanted you boys to know that I'm real pleased with the job you've been doing." He smiled at them. "Mr. Hitchcock told me that he's expecting another shipment of explosives in this week. His supply level was down when the break in happened last week and he's real grateful to you for being there so quick."

"Well, sheriff, we're real glad to hear that," Heyes said.

McKay caught them up on a few other things and told them he was going to catch up on some paperwork and they left.

With some time on their hands, they wandered into the saloon to check out the action. The talk was about the Jensen brothers; seems the gossip was that they had a big lead on that lost payroll. They'd been doing a lot of scouting around up in the rocky caves halfway up the mountain and believed they were real close to finding it.

Heyes and Curry exchanged glances but remained poker faced at the news. They learned that as much bragging as the Jensen brothers were doing, they were still broke, which meant they hadn't found anything yet.

Heyes took his turn that night at watching the town, and he let Curry stay to play poker. Both were hoping to get more information about the Jensens but had made no progress.

On early Monday afternoon, the train pulled in with some of Mr. Hitchcock's mining supplies. The store was close to the train station, but unloading the supplies required more help than Mr. Hitchcock had on hand. Seeing the Jensen brothers milling around town, he hired them for the day to help. Before they started, Hitchcock went through the list and made sure that the order was complete. They put dynamite, blasting caps and fuses into a wagon and took it the short distance to the store, where they placed it in the supply room to the back. The Jensen brothers acted somewhat nervously, but to anyone watching, seeing the amount of explosives being moved would cause even the bravest man to be nervous.

It was later in the day, when Hitchcock was getting ready to close that he noticed the missing dynamite. There wasn't much gone, just part of one crate; and a small coil of fuse missing, too. The delivery of new supplies brought customers into the store, but not so many that he wouldn't have known who had been there. At first, he thought it was a simple case of miscalculation on his part, but soon Hitchcock realized he'd been robbed.lawmen

McKay, Smith and Jones went to the store to investigate and got the names of everyone who'd been in the store. As an afterthought, Hitchcock mentioned the Jensen brothers. "Why, I've used them before," he said, "and I never had any problems. I don't want to believe that they'd steal from me."

"Well," McKay said, "I'll take the list of names and check with the local ranchers. There aren't too many mines close by, but then there weren't any strangers wandering in town today."

"Sheriff," Smith said, "Where is it that the Jensens live?"

McKay looked down and took a breath before answering. "They have a place outside of town, near the stream. From what that posse following Heyes and Curry said, it would be in the same area."

Jones looked at his partner. "Joshua, do you suppose they're out…" He didn't get to finish before Smith answered.

"I think we should take a ride out there and find out, Thaddeus," he said. "Sheriff, do you mind if we go check out the area while you're talking to the other customers?"

"How would you know where to look?"

"Well," Jones answered, "Shortly after we got here, we took our horses out for some exercise and we ran into them. They were acting strangely, like they were hiding something; something; like maybe they found that payroll and didn't want to share a finder's fee."

"Or maybe not turn it in at all," Smith added.

"You boys think you can find the area again?"

They nodded.

"Well, then, let's go get saddled," he told them.

"Sheriff," Smith said, "Do they spook easy? Because if we all go riding out there and they do have some explosives, we could be riding into some danger."

"What do you have in mind? If they think a posse's coming after them, they'll start shooting first."

"Well, they've seen us in town, but only in the saloon. They may not realize we're working with you. If we can get near them and check them out, maybe we can get to the bottom of things without anybody getting hurt." At McKay's nod, he said, "Besides, like we told you, we've had experience with mining supplies before. We wouldn't want anything to trigger them."

"All right," he agreed. "I'll see you when you get back. But if they start to run, you come back here and we form a posse to go after them. I don't want you going after them alone."

As they left town, Curry spoke silently. "Heyes, what've you got in mind? They probably have the dynamite."

"I know, Kid, but maybe they don't know where the safe is."

"And you're just itching to get in that cave and try cracking it, aren't you?" he chuckled.

Heyes grinned but didn't answer.

As they got closer to the mountain again, they decided to approach carefully. Knowing about where the Jensens had been working, they decided to get as close as they could without showing themselves so they could watch them. "We can figure out what's going on first from up the road a ways. If they think we don't have any reason to suspect them, it's probably going to be easier to get the drop on them."

"I'll go in," the Kid said. "That way, if they come out shooting, I have a better chance of not blowing us all up."

"No, Kid, let's go in together. They're a strange pair and I don't like the idea of having to break in a new partner."riding2

Finally, they got to a point above where there were a number of caves. It was about a third of the way up the mountain, almost on the side facing the stream. They saw the two men and watched as they moved around, setting charges, then moving away.

Before they had a chance to set anything off, the two deputies surprised them. "Hands up!" Heyes said. "Drop the hardware and step away from the dynamite."

Matt stood stock still while Mark dropped his colt. Mark moved away, leaving his brother close to the charge. "What's going on?" Matt asked. "We ain't done nothing here."

Curry stepped in, all business. "My partner told you to drop the gun," he said. "Left hand, fingers only." As he watched it, he continued, "Okay now just move away from there. Keep your hands up."

"If you haven't done anything, then we need to see the receipt for the dynamite." Heyes said, still covering them.

Matt and Mark looked at each other uncomfortably, Matt trying to think of something. "Uh, we ain't got one," he stammered, "It fell into the fire when we made coffee," he pointed to the fire nearby. "'Sides, we didn't know we'd need to keep it. Why'd you need it?"

"Well, Mr. Hitchcock's shipment came up a little light after he checked everything at the depot. We're just trying to help him get to the bottom of it."

Matt moved away from his brother and cautiously reached into his vest pocket to pull out a cheroot. Taking a stick from the fire, he held the flame up to light it, and then looked down by his feet. Before Curry could stop him, Matt had dropped the lit stick onto the fuse that was trailing behind them, into the side of the mountain.

The fuse flickered rapidly, as Matt pushed his brother aside. Jumping out of the way, they hit the ground on the side of the fire closest to Heyes and Curry, who also backed up to take cover.

Heyes saw the length of the fuse and yelled at them, “What the devil do you think you’re you doing laying such a short fuse into those rocks?

Matt Jensen turned around suddenly, “Well, we’re trying to bust open the mouth of the cave”

“Now why would you do a stupid thing like that?” Heyes asked him.

Mark Jensen spoke, “We think the safe is in that cave, and we need to open it up more.”

The next sound they all heard was the blast, which, when it came set off its own rockslide. Most of the impact caused the looser rocks and small boulders to crash down to the area by the stream. After the smoke cleared, Curry was the first one to speak. "You alright there, Joshua?" He asked. Hearing a grunted 'yes', he moved over to the Jensens.

"You two, just hold it right there." Pointing to Mark, Heyes tossed him a length of rope. "You get to tie up your brother, then I'm going to tie you up. Then we're all going into town together."

"You arresting us? What the charge?" Mark yelled.

"For starters, attempted murder. Then there's theft of mining supplies. Got any other suggestions, Thaddeus?"

"I'd say resisting arrest after that blast, Joshua."

Matt stood there, dumbfounded. "You mean to tell me that after all that, you ain't even going to let us see if we even found that hidden payroll? If it's in there, we're entitled to a reward on it."

"We'll check it out for you," Heyes told him. "Now move."

They tied up the prisoners and then broke the camp before heading back into town. When they arrived at the jail, they marched the prisoners inside and put them into the nearest cell. The sheriff waited until the two failed safe hunters were locked in a cell, before he and his two “lawmen” sat down, and he asked to hear the story. "Did they really try to kill you?" He asked.

"Not really," Smith answered, "But it was a good way to get them to behave when we arrested them for theft."

They all chuckled at that. Smith and Jones told the tale about the caves, the explosion and subsequent rockslide. Mr. Hitchcock would accept restitution; payment for the missing inventory instead of pressing charges, so the Jensens would be the guests of the city until the circuit judge visited town. "For their own good," McKay told them.

The next morning, the regular deputy was well enough that the doctor allowed him to go back to work, but only to mind the jail. Freed from the responsibility of being lawmen, Smith and Jones again decided to take a ride out to where the explosion was; to 'exercise their horses.' Without the others crawling around the area, they were free to go straight to the cave where they'd put the safe.

Curry stopped his horse and sat still. Heyes came up behind him, "What's wrong, Kid."

"Heyes, I hate to tell you this, but I don't think you're going to get another chance at that Brooker 202."

"What? Why not, Kid?"

Curry pointed to a new pile of boulders that weren't there when they'd put the safe into the cave. The blast had sealed the cave completely. "Short of another blast, Heyes, I think that safe is in a real safe place; one that nobody's going to find."

Heyes pulled up and stopped. The disappointment on his face was obvious, even to Curry. "Think of it this way, Heyes. Nobody can ever say you didn't try. And it will save us having to explain to Lom where we got the money."

"I know, Kid. I’m disappointed that I didn't get another shot at the safe. But more than that, I would have liked to get the money to Lom. I think it would have been a good move for the governor to see; that we were really going straight."

"Lom knows we're serious."

"Yeah, I know, Kid. It just might have made things go a little faster is all." Turning to look at his partner he said, "But we have a decent stake for that poker game. We still have time to make it."

They turned and headed back to town.

A Legal Enterprise by Shenango

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