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 Holiday in a Small Town by moonshadow

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Join date : 2013-10-13

20131027
PostHoliday in a Small Town by moonshadow

Starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy



Dolly     Dolly Parton


Wes Carter    Alan Hale Jr


Harvey Baker     Bob Denver


Sheriff Samuel Tate     Slim Pickens


Steve Wilson      Elijah Wood





Hannibal Heyes rode into the small town of Lone Butte, and cast a casual glance at the Fourth of July decorations prominently on display. There were large banners stretched across the width of the street boasting of festivities that would begin on Friday with an Independence Day Parade in the morning, a potluck supper in the Social Hall in the late afternoon and conclude with a “Fireworks Extravaganza” later that night.

Besides the patriotic red, white and blues of the holiday decorations, he noticed the hustle and bustle of the smiling townspeople as they went about their ordinary activities. He noticed the saloons, all three of them, the mercantile, the bank, the schoolhouse, the church and the sheriff’s office.

Without appearing to do so, he gave extra attention to the sheriff’s office. The name burned into the wood placard which hung above the door, proudly proclaimed in big, bold letters that Lone Butte’s sheriff was Samuel Tate. The outlaw allowed a faint grin of relief to appear as he continued on his way; that name didn’t mean a thing to him.

Despite all his noticing, Heyes failed to see the young boy who, once he spotted the tall, dark stranger ride into town, scurried from establishment to establishment as fast as his legs would carry him.

“He’s here! He’s here!” he eagerly proclaimed, poking his head in the doorway, before going on to the next destination.

The boy shared the news with everyone he could find, including the sheriff. Upon hearing the announcement, Sheriff Samuel Tate checked that his gun was in his holster, grabbed his hat and raced outside in time to watch the man in question disappear around the corner of the mercantile. Realizing that time could be of the essence, the lawman turned around.

“Hey, he went this-a-way!” he hollered before he took off in hot pursuit.

Heyes grimaced as he eased himself out of the saddle and slid to the ground. It had been a long, hot and dusty ride. He looked forward to soaking in a warm tub of water and drinking a few beers.

“Beers first,” he decided as he moistened his dry, cracked lips.

After settling with the liveryman, he stepped outside to find his path blocked. The outlaw was taken aback to discover that he was surrounded by what appeared to be the whole entire population of Lone Butte, the sheriff himself right up front, his badge of tin twinkling in the bright sunlight.

Heyes hesitated, glancing around, warily. “Hiya; right friendly little town you’ve got here.”

“Sure is, Doc,” nodded a large man garbed in blacksmith’s attire. The smile on his face along with the wink he gave Heyes caused the outlaw to blink in surprise as he pondered the man’s words. Then it hit him; the crowd was for someone else, this was a case of mistaken identity, an easy problem to solve.

“Oh, I’m not a doctor,” he protested with a smile, “sure hope nobody’s sick? The best I could do is tell them they need to see a real doctor,” he laughed.

“Why that’s a good one, Doc,” a female voice in the crowd chuckled.

“Sure is, Doc; that’s real funny,” another voice chimed in as laughter erupted from the crowd.

As he realized that his protestations fell on deaf ears, and the townspeople hadn’t altered their opinion one whit, Heyes’ smile faltered.

“Honest, I’m really NOT a doctor; I’m afraid you’ve all got me confused with somebody else,” he protested more firmly.

“Sounds like you’re the one who’s confused, Doc,” teased a man on his left. The laughter was louder this time.

“Yeah, we didn’t know ya had such a good sense of humor, Doc.”

His patience rapidly coming to an end, a frustrated Heyes spoke each word slowly, distinctly and loudly, “I…AM…NOT…A…DOCTOR…AND MY…NAME…IS…NOT…DOC!”

“Guess maybe you’re jus’ takin’ yerself a little ‘holiday’ then, right, Doc?” yet another faceless voice in the crowd called out, his tone teasing as well.

Heyes grit his teeth as he seethed with annoyance. Did the whole entire town have a hearing problem?

Heyes struggled to keep his frustration in check, and counted to ten. About the time he reached five, the cryptic words the last speaker had uttered penetrated his brain, only this time he listened to them more carefully. Holiday…doc? He swallowed as it began to make sense; he wasn’t sure he liked the sense it was making, though. He raised his head to search the crowd.

His eyes scanned the townspeople, and they met and locked with a pair of hazel ones, their owner’s face crinkling with laughter. This beanpole of a man nodded and stepped forward, his face weathered; his skin tanned and leathery from years of working his fields. Heyes found himself the recipient of a toothy smile, a sly look and a conspiratorial wink, the combination of which slightly unnerved the outlaw, although his poker face gave nothing away.

“You, all of you,” he gestured with his hand, “you think I’m Doc Holliday?” He looked around at the sea of smiling faces that surrounded him, seeing the nods of assent and irritating winks only served to confirm his suspicions.

“Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you folks, but I am NOT Doc Holliday. My name is Smith – Joshua Smith,” he announced adamantly.

The sheriff’s smile grew even broader, if that were possible, and he sent Heyes an exaggerated wink. “Course it is,” he smilingly agreed while his tone suggested otherwise. The lawman turned to face the crowd. “We understand, don’t we folks?”

Dumbfounded, Heyes watched as heads bobbed up and down, while murmurs of agreement came from all directions. Every face, young and old, male and female, wore a huge grin plastered on it, too. Heyes groaned under his breath; it was clear they didn’t understand at all!

He drew in a deep breath. “Listen folks, I really AM Joshua Smith; I just stopped in your little town to wait for my friend to arrive.”

The dark-haired outlaw was nonplussed when everyone nodded and voiced their agreement with his words. This was getting ridiculous! Exasperation tinged his tone as he continued, determined to end this lunacy once and for all.

“As I was saying, once my friend arrives, we’ll both be on our way. I don’t know the real Doc Holliday, never met him personally, but I hear tell he’s a real friendly fella.” Heyes pierced the crowd with a look. “You and he ought to get along real well. It’s also rumored that the man’s a bit shorter than me, his hair’s a few shades lighter and of course he’s not half as good- looking as I am.”

Amidst the laughter that greeted his words, Heyes added, “Now, if you’ll all excuse me,” he took a step forward, only to find himself blocked. The close proximity of the crowd prevented him from taking more than one small step in any direction. Letting his head drop to his chest, he released a sigh of resignation. Then, feeling the sheriff’s eyes upon him, Heyes raised his head.

“Looks like ya might be with us a while longer, Doc – uh, I mean, Mister Smith.” Once more, the lawman winked at Heyes, who had started to wonder if the happy citizens of Lone Butte suffered from tics as well as deafness.

“Seein’ as how you’ve made everyone happier than a spring pig takin’ its first mud bath with your arrival, maybe you’d care to join us for some grub?”

“I don’t …” Heyes began only to be cut off.

“We’ve got a real nice welcome dinner all ready over in the Social Hall,” the lawman continued in his best persuasive manner.

“Really, Sheriff …” he tried once more.

“Everyone’s worked real hard,” Tate interrupted, never breaking stride, “ever since we heard ya was a-headin’ our way from Harvey Baker’s cousin, Ida Mae. See, she has an aunt who lives over in Tombstone, an’ she heard from her husband’s brother-in-law’s Uncle Chester that you was on your way to Yuma. That meant you’d have to go through our town to get there, since Lone Butte is the only town between the two. So ya see, it was jus’ a simple matter of time waitin’ to see when you’d be ridin’ in.”

“Sheriff, I’m sure that’s all real exciting news for everyone here; maybe you’ll get the chance to meet the REAL Doc Holliday. When you do, be sure to tell him Mr. Joshua Smith said hello.”

“Okay, Mr. Joshua Smith, but let me ask ya jus’ one question first before ya go. Where’re ya headin’?”

“Yuma,” Heyes answered promptly.

Tate raised a brow and shot Heyes a smug smile. “Yuma, huh?”

“Yes, Yuma.” A beat too late Heyes caught the look. “Oh no, now you wait just a minute, Sheriff; what else is there in that direction?” the outlaw demanded, not bothering to disguise his irritation. “You just said yourself that there isn’t anything else between Lone Butte and Yuma. Everyone has to go through this town to get there, so that doesn’t prove a thing!”

The sheriff smiled, “Uh, huh.” There was a slight pause. “Its real good food, Mister Smith.”

“Oh, I believe you, but just the same, I think I’ll head on over to the saloon.”

“So, you’ve already ate, then?”

“Well, no,” Heyes hedged, “but I AM awful thirsty.”

“We’ve got a real turkey with all the trimmin’s,” the lawman cajoled.

“Thanks anyway, Sheriff, but I believe there’s a beer or two over in the saloon that’s calling my name.” Heyes turned to make his getaway.

Sheriff Tate wasn’t about to give up. He stared at the retreating man’s back. “Say, son,” he called out, “how long has it been since ya had a real turkey?”

Forced to push his way through the milling throng of people, Heyes had only managed a few feet when he found himself once more standing still, listening to the lawman’s persuasive voice.

Tate hurried on, “Not one of those scrawny sage hens runnin’ around these parts callin’ itself a turkey, but a great big bird, roasted golden brown, the juices oozing, drippin’ down the sides. We’ve got biscuits ‘n gravy, mashed taters, corn, green beans, an’ if that ain’t enough to convince ya to stay, to finish it all off, there’s some of the best apple pie you’ve ever sank your teeth into.”

The lawman’s descriptive words had set Heyes’ mouth watering and caused his stomach to rumble with hunger. It had also driven all thoughts of the saloon and beer out of his head.

“Well, son, whaddaya say?”

Heyes turned around to face the lawman, a dimpled grin in full evidence. “I’d say I think you’ve convinced me, Sheriff. There’s just one thing, though; I’ll only accept your offer as long as it’s Joshua Smith you’re inviting to eat with you.”

“Well then, c’mon with me, Doc, uh pardon me, I mean, Mister Smith,” Tate winked, “we’ll have ya fixed up in no time.” The sheriff turned to the citizens of Lone Butte. “You folks go on ahead an’ get a place all set up for our guest. We’ll be with ya in jus’ a few minutes; there’s a couple of things I need to discuss with him first.”

When they were alone, the sheriff turned to look into Heyes’ face. “It’s alright, I know ya must have your reasons, so I won’t pry. I jus’ need to let ya know that ya couldn’t have picked a better time than right now to visit our town. If ya turn around, you’ll see why.”

Obligingly, Heyes turned.

“That’s our bank,” Tate pointed.

Indeed, there sat the Bank of Lone Butte, right smack dab in front of Heyes. He had to suppress a grin at the absurdity of the situation. Here was a sheriff pointing out the town’s bank to an outlaw, oblivious of the irony.

“Uh, it’s a very nice bank, Sheriff; but what’s so special about it? I’ve seen plenty of banks before.”

“Not like this one you haven’t,” Tate declared fervently, “that bank is the livelihood of this whole entire town. Why, Lone Butte would up ‘n disappear, it’d become a ghost town, if somethin’ was to happen to it.”

“Again, I’m not quite sure what your little bank has to do with me?” Heyes raised a brow in question.

“I’m guessin’ that maybe ya haven’t heard about the silver strike around these parts?”

Heyes shrugged, “I’ve heard about them, but I’m still not sure what all this has to do with me.”

“Well, one of the largest silver mines around keeps its payroll right here in our bank. Every Saturday like clockwork, two hundred miners come to Lone Butte. They start arrivin’ late on Friday and stick around until the bank opens on Saturday to collect their wages. That ‘little bank’ you’re lookin’ at keeps around $100,000 in its vault to pay those wages.”

His back still to Tate, Heyes whistled softly in appreciation.

“We have to be on the lookout for any kind of trouble, no matter how small. So, ya see what I mean?”

“Well, Sheriff, I don’t think you have a thing to worry about. Your ‘little bank’ is made of solid brick and rock and it’s got thick iron bars on all the windows. Nobody’d be crazy enough to try and break through all that, even for that much money!”

“Oh, it has more’n that to protect it,” the lawman boasted proudly, “once you’re lucky enough to get inside, you’ll be greeted by two of the biggest, and meanest, guards you’ve even seen, stationed jus’ inside the door. Both of ‘em are armed with great big guns and have orders to shoot to kill.”

Heyes swallowed as he continued to study the bank. Thinking of all that money just waiting inside, Heyes added thoughtfully, “You know, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a bank built under a hotel before, now that might be a problem.”

“Well, it’s not as easy as it looks. Anyone thinkin’ of robbin’ it from the hotel would first have to pry up the floorboards, then saw their way through solid ten inch beams, chop through the thick plaster ceilin’ an’ then they’d havta drill a hole big enough for a man to drop through down into the bank.

“They’d havta smuggle all the equipment they needed up to the room without bein’ seen, besides bein’ awful careful not to make any noise while they was doin’ all that. Once they’d made it that far, their next problem would be our safe; our bank is equipped with the Pierce ‘N Hamilton ’78.”

The dark-haired outlaw shook his head.

Tate took two steps forward to stand alongside the other man. “I figured you’d understand. That means they’d have to use dynamite to bust it open. I only know of one man ‘round these parts who can open a P & H ’78 without using dynamite, an’ as strange as this may sound comin’ from a lawman, ya know what?” Tate nudged Heyes in the ribcage with his elbow, “He’s not the one I’m worried about.”

Heyes swallowed again, and then turned sideways to eye the lawman. “At the risk of repeating myself, Sheriff Tate, there’s no way anyone, even that fella you’re not worried about, would be that stupid or crazy enough to try and rob that bank - no one!” he reiterated in a firm tone.

Tate took a careful look around, then heaved a deep sigh and released it slowly. “Well again, jus’ between us law-abidin’ citizens ya understand, what if I was to tell ya that there was someone - actually a few ‘someones’ - who’ve been hangin’ round our small town more’n they should. They’re actin’ kinda strange-like, an’ well, that I jus’ had a real bad feelin’ about ‘em?”

“Strange-like?” Heyes queried.

“Yep. Used to be they jus’ came into town on payday, got liquored up, whooped n’ hollered it up, ya know, hurrahed the place, maybe got thrown in jail overnight, then they’d sober up n’ head on out to their spread, which is about twenty miles outta town. Lately though, they’ve been comin’ in more often, stayin’ sober and sittin’ ‘round not causin’ trouble.”

“Yes, well I can why you’d think they were acting strange-like,” Heyes grinned, “It sounds as if your job got easier, Sheriff. What’s really troubling you?”

Tate sighed, “They’re not actin’ normal; I can feel it in the air, somethin’s not right! I’ve already got my suspicions about ‘em bein’ involved in cattle rustlin’, but so far I haven’t been able to prove anythin’. And another thing, there’s been some new faces mixed in with the old, an’ if they did take it into their heads to try n’ rob our bank, well, I’m not sure I’d be able to stop them - alone,” he admitted almost reluctantly.

Tate hesitated, and then plunged on, his face reflecting his determination and his emotions as he pleaded his case. “Do ya think that if ya stayed ‘round for jus’ a bit longer, that with your reputation to back ya up, an’ them knowin’ that you were in town visitin’ for a spell, then maybe they’d jus’ plumb forget all about it an’ leave us, an’ our bank, alone?”

Heyes mulled over the sheriff’s words. He and the Kid generally made it a rule not to get involved in anyone else’s game if they could avoid it, and this game sounded like it was pretty involved already. Not wanting to commit to anything just yet, he prevaricated.

“So, Sheriff, all these miners that come into Lone Butte to get their wages every week; just what do they do with all their hard-earned money?”

Tate’s face lit up when he realized that the Doc hadn’t said an outright ‘no’ to his proposal. “Well, mostly they like to spend it drinkin’ and gamblin’, all weekend long. The whole town’s pretty lively startin’ Friday afternoon clear on into the wee hours Sunday mornin’. Things kinda quiet down when everyone heads on over to listen to the preacher’s sermon. Guess folks figure they better try to get some kind of salvation after all that sinnin’ they done the nights before,” he concluded with a chuckle.

Heyes grinned as he did some swift calculations. Today was Tuesday. If he and the Kid could help the small town with just their mere presence and relieve some of the miners of their money in the process, it would be of mutual benefit for everyone concerned.

“I’ll need to discuss this with my friend when he arrives, of course, but while we’re waiting, I don’t see why we can’t do it over a meal, especially if it’s as good as you claim.”

“Oh, it’s even better! Well then, what’re we waiting for? C’mon, let’s go get us some of that turkey an’ a slice or two of pie, Doc!”

Not bothering to correct Tate, Heyes trailed along behind the jubilant lawman. What could possibly go wrong?

Heyes was sitting at a table loaded with enough food to feed an army. The sheriff was on his right and there was a vacant space on his left. Both men wasted no time in sampling the food on their plates.

A short time later, Heyes glanced towards his left and was pleasantly surprised to discover that, while he had been busy conversing with the other diners, an extremely attractive, and voluptuous, petite blonde had claimed the empty seat. Since Tate was busy chatting with a neighbor and unable to perform the introductions, Heyes took it upon himself to set matters right. He swallowed his mouthful of food and turned to the lady.

“Good afternoon, ma’am; my name is Joshua Smith.”

“Why, of course it is,” the lovely vision laughed and batted her long lashes at him before she gave the man an exaggerated wink.

Heyes merely smiled, no longer surprised by the gesture.

The musical voice of his dinner companion continued as he picked up his glass. “Allow me to introduce myself, Mr. Smith. My name is Dolly, Dolly Hayes.”

The familiar surname caused the outlaw to suck in his breath. Having just taken a swallow of lemonade, the liquid spewed out of his mouth, as first he choked, then coughed and sputtered.

“Sorry…went down…the wrong way,” he gasped, then covered his mouth with his hand in an effort to curb the prolonged coughing fit.

Dolly jumped to her feet and began thumping him repeatedly between his shoulder blades with her tiny fists.

“I’m awfully sorry, Doc!” She looked up to see the sheriff glaring at her and sent the lawman an apologetic look before she returned her attention to the dark-haired man who was trying to catch his breath.

“Horsefeathers, Doc; Sheriff Tate warned us all to be real careful an’ not to get ya riled up none because of,” Dolly hesitated, then leaned down close to the outlaw’s ear, “well, ya know, because of ‘your condition’;” the last two words were barely audible.

Heyes took a tentative breath and waved his hand dismissively, “No harm done, Miss Hayes,” he answered with a slight grin, his voice still sounding strangled as he spoke her last name.

Reassured that she hadn’t sent Doc Holliday on a premature trip to see his maker, Dolly reseated herself.

“Oh, it’s not Miss, Mister Smith,” she patted his arm and gave him a dazzling smile that showed her pearly whites off to perfection.

“Oh, pardon my mistake; I’m sorry, Mrs. Hayes,” Heyes amended, his tone polite and minus the grin.

“There’s no need to be sorry, Joshua; it’s Widow Hayes,” Dolly hastened to set the record straight, “my husband died over a year ago,” she added in a honeyed tone.

“Now, I’m really sorry to hear that, ma’am,” the outlaw responded, looking anything but as he picked up his fork, a dimpled grin on his face.

Just then, the beanpole man poked his head around the corner of the door. “Uh, s’cuse me, sheriff; but can I see ya for a minute?”

“Now, Harvey?” the annoyed lawman responded, “can’t ya see I’m busy entertainin’ the Doc?” Tate turned to Heyes, “Sorry, Mister Smith.”

“It’s Joshua,” Heyes corrected with a tolerant smile.

“Right; Joshua.”

“Sheriff!” Harvey’s voice was more insistent.

“Can’t it wait?” Tate didn’t bother to hide his exasperation at being disturbed.

“NO!”

The lawman sighed heavily. “Okay, but it’d better be important!” he warned as he rose reluctantly from his seat to join the agitated man at the door. “Alright, Harvey, what’s got ya so daggone all-fired up that ya gotta drag me away from the Doc?” Tate glared at the man.

Harvey pulled the irate lawman outside. “Look!” he pointed to a sandy-haired stranger standing beside the water trough. “Him!”

The sheriff gave the man a cursory glance. “Well, what about ‘him’?”

“Sheriff,” Harvey began in an aggrieved tone, “I think that we might jus’ have us a purty big problem. That man standin’ right there over yonder fits the description I got of Doc Holliday even better’n that other fella we got inside right now; ya know, the one who keeps sayin’ he’s NOT Doc Holliday? Jus’ s’pose the one inside’s really tellin’ the truth? If he is, an’ he’s really not, then this one here has to be the right one; an’ if he is,” he shook his head sadly, “well then, we made an awfully big mistake!” An out-of-breath Harvey fell silent.

“Hmm…” Tate rubbed his whiskered chin as he scrutinized the new arrival more carefully, “maybe; could be this one here’s the real Doc Holliday. Maybe that other fella really is Joshua Smith, jus’ like he claims.” He turned to Harvey, “C’mon, there’s one sure way to find out!”

The lawman marched back inside the social hall. “Mister Smith, I’d like a word with ya outside, RIGHT NOW!” he emphasized the last two words as he pivoted about and exited the hall without waiting for the other man to join him.

Sheriff Tate’s brusqueness puzzled Heyes. Alerted by the sudden shift in the man’s attitude towards him, warning bells began to ring as the outlaw followed Tate with his eyes. As the sheriff disappeared through the door, Heyes wiped his mouth on his napkin, excused himself to the table and made his way outside to join the lawman on the boardwalk.

“Yes, Sheriff?” he arched a brow, “something wrong?” he enquired, keeping his voice pleasant, striving to appear as innocent as possible under the circumstances.

Tate pointed.

Heyes followed the lawman’s finger; his eyes widened and he stepped forward quickly.

‘Hey, Wyatt – uh, I mean, Thaddeus,” Heyes sent Curry a warning look, “it’s about time you got here!”

Hearing the familiar voice, Curry’s head jerked up in surprise. He looked behind him in both directions, and then realized he was the only one standing in the street.

“The Sheriff here and I are real glad to see you. Seems there’s been a little case of mistaken identity; they think I’m Doc Holliday!” Heyes laughed. “I’ve tried telling them my name is Joshua Smith, but I don’t think they quite believe me.” He sent the Kid another significant look. “Sheriff Tate, this is my friend, Thaddeus Jones; Thaddeus, this is Sheriff Sam Tate.”

“Uh, howdy, Sheriff; it’s uh, nice to meet ya,” I think, Curry added to himself as he tipped his hat respectfully to the lawman.

“Seems our reputations have preceded us, my friend. A ‘little bird’ let it out that we’d be heading this direction on our way to Yuma. The whole entire town is pleased as punch to welcome us. Why, they’re so happy to have us with them, they’ve even made us something special to eat.”

“Food?” Curry’s mood lightened considerably.

Sheriff Tate nodded, satisfied by what the dark-haired man had said. As famous as the Doc and Wyatt were, it made perfect sense that they’d have to use aliases to protect their true identities whenever they traveled. He filled with self-importance at the knowledge that they trusted him with their secret. With both men in his small town, trouble should stay on its horse and pass Lone Butte right on by.

“C’mon inside the social hall and get that belly of yours filled up; I’ll get someone to tend to your horse for ya, Mr. Earp.”

“The name’s Jones, Sheriff, Thaddeus Jones,” Curry corrected automatically as he wrapped the reins around the hitching post and warily approached the lawman.

“Anything you say, Mister Jones.”

The Kid’s eyes widened when the sheriff gave him a big wink. His thoughts going a mile a minute, he turned to follow the lawman inside. Somewhere from behind he heard Heyes mutter something that sounded like, “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”

Entering the Social Hall, Curry couldn’t help but stop and stare in wonder at the array of tempting foods. It made him light-headed to see such abundance all in one place.

The sheriff directed him towards an empty chair and Curry found himself standing next to an extremely attractive woman; Heyes was seated on her other side. Great, the sandy-haired outlaw groused silently, that meant they still wouldn’t have the chance to talk privately.

“Hey, Dolly, think ya can manage not to kill this one off, too? He’s a close friend of the Doc’s – uh, I mean, Mister Smith. We wanna make sure he gets what he needs without fearin’ for his life!”

Dolly glared at the lawman, then stood up to put her hands on her hips. “Why Sheriff Samuel Tate, I can’t believe ya jus’ said that to me!” she pouted indignantly, “I’m perfectly capable of givin’ the man what he needs without killin’ him!” Although the woman had done her best to sound angry, she ruined the effect by letting loose with a peal of infectious laughter. “Y’all go on with whatever it is you’re doin’ an’ jus’ leave him to me!”

The other diners joined in the congenial laughter while a bemused Curry grinned, struck with both her good looks and her vivaciousness. She was petite, with long blonde hair that curled about her face. She had a certain charm, along with a distinctive drawl that was packed full of southern warmth and hospitality. In short, the woman was a vision to behold.

Heyes rolled his eyes; the Kid hadn’t been in town ten minutes and already he was smitten!

Curry held the woman’s chair as she reseated herself. “You look plumb tuckered out; why don’t ya sit yourself down right here next to me,” she patted the empty chair with her hand, “Mister…?”

“Uh, Jones, ma’am,” Curry supplied as he belatedly removed his hat and dropped down into the proffered seat, “Thaddeus Jones.” Food was temporarily forgotten as he gazed with undisguised admiration at the woman beside him.

“Thaddeus…Jones,” Dolly repeated, then turned to the man on her right. “Joshua Smith?” When Heyes nodded, she turned back to face Curry, “and Jones?” Curry nodded again. “Boy, you two sure are original, ain’tcha?” she declared and gave Curry a pronounced wink.

The outlaw’s mouth dropped open in surprise. What was with these people, everybody winkin’ all the time? He shot his partner a look, but Heyes just shrugged his shoulders. The confused outlaw barely processed the fact when Dolly pressed a biscuit into his hand. He raised his hand automatically and chomped down on the still warm mound of dough.

“Hey, Thaddeus,” Heyes peered around Dolly in time to observe Curry fill his mouth. If Curry had been looking, he would have seen and recognized the devilish glint in his partner’s brown eyes. “I think it’s time to introduce you to this lovely lady sitting between us.” Heyes grinned. “She may know who you are, but you only know her first name,” he paused, “Mr. Thaddeus Jones, I’d like for you to meet Mrs. Dolly Hayes.”

“Mrs. Heyes?” The uneaten biscuit dropped from Curry’s hand as his eyes darted back and forth between the couple, “you’re married?” he whispered.

“No, Thaddeus, Dolly isn’t married,” Heyes chuckled at his partner’s misunderstanding of the situation, knowing all too well how he felt. “Well, that is she was, but she’s not anymore; now she’s the Widow Hayes; her husband is no longer with us.”

“Oh.” Then, hearing the laughter and catching the look on Heyes’ face, Curry realized that he’d been had; he’d walked right into that one! One of these days,…he shook his head, his own expression rueful.

He turned to Dolly, “I’m sorry, ma’am, sometimes I tend to get things confused,” he began only to be interrupted.

Dolly laid a hand on his arm, “No need to apologize, Thaddeus; in fact, I think you may have helped me solve a little problem I had.”

“I did?”

He received a dazzling smile in response. “Finish eating and then I’ll share it with you; I think you’ll be pleased with what I’ve decided.”

“That’s fine with me, ma’am,” Curry grinned as he sent Heyes, needing no further encouragement to do as she requested.

The rest of the meal progressed without incident; when Curry laid his fork to rest after his last bite of pie, Dolly turned to face him.

She dabbed at her mouth daintily with her napkin and leaned forward, keeping her voice low. “Well, Thaddeus Jones, what if I told ya that what I’ve decided is that I’d like ya to escort me while I show ya around our small town; what would ya say to that?”

Curry grinned like the cat who’d swallowed the canary. “I’d say that sounds like a mighty smart decision, ma’am.”

“I had a feelin’ you’d approve; I think we’d best get started, if you’re ready.”

Curry nodded, then stood up and helped Dolly to her feet. As they passed behind Heyes, Curry put a hand on his partner’s shoulder. “I’ll meet ya over in the saloon later, okay?”

Heyes nodded absently, his attention on the man across the table recounting last week’s poker games, sharing anecdotes about the various players and their eccentricities. As he listened, the outlaw filed the useful information away for future use.

The dark-haired outlaw smiled. From the sound of it, several of the miners enjoyed high-stakes games, but not many of them were fortunate enough to be big winners. If he and the Kid played their cards right, they could both leave Lone Butte a whole lot richer than when they’d rode in.

Outside the Social Hall, Dolly offered her arm to Curry, who obligingly took it. He tucked it inside the crook of his arm and placed a protective hand over it.

Dolly turned to look at her companion. “I hope ya don’t think I’m bein’ too forward by askin’ ya to go for a walk with me alone?

“Oh no, ma’am, I don’t think that at all,” Curry hastened to assure her, “I think you’re jus’ bein’ kind to a stranger, offerin’ to show me the sights, but I have to be honest with you,; I think I’m lookin’ at the most beautiful sight Lone Butte has to offer, right in front of me.”

“Why Thaddeus, I do believe that’s one of the nicest things anybody’s said to me in a long time. I think I’m goin’ to enjoy gettin’ better acquainted with you!”

Curry grinned, “Me too, ma’am.”

Dolly swatted his arm playfully, “Enough with the ‘ma’am’; you’re makin’ me feel like an’ old spinster auntie,” she protested, “call me Dolly, okay?”

“Yes ma’am – uh, I mean, Dolly.”

The woman shook her head and sighed, “Well, let’s get started; Lone Butte can be a pretty interestin’ town, ‘specially if you’ve got the right person to show ya around.”

“I think I’ve got the perfect person right beside me.”

“My, my, my, ya sure know the right words to say to a woman, dontcha? Seems as if I’ve got my work cut out for me, then.” She cast the sandy-haired man a speculative look. “You the adventurous kinda man, Thaddeus?”

“Adventurous, ma’am?” At Dolly’s pointed look he amended, “um, I mean, Dolly;” his own expression quizzical.

“Willin’ to take a chance; go off the main trail, so to speak. I know of a few spots that aren’t very popular with most folks, but they’re worth the trouble it takes to get there.” Dolly started walking, gently tugging Curry along with her. “Of course,” she continued thoughtfully, ‘they’d most likely be completely deserted; that might be a bit ‘too adventurous’…for a man like you.”

“A little peace ‘n quiet sounds like a real nice way to spend the afternoon… with a woman like you,” Curry countered.

“Peace ‘n quiet, hmm? You do have a way with words, Thaddeus,” Dolly gave his arm a squeeze as she stopped walking. “Our tour starts right here; look around, see anythin’ unusual?” she challenged.

After a cursory look around, Curry shrugged his shoulders. “Looks like any other small town I’ve been in.

“Take another look,” Dolly insisted.

“Nope,” Curry shook his head, “still nothin’.”

“Maybe you’re tryin’ too hard; I’ll give ya a clue. Start with the bank.”

With a tolerant smile, Curry did as requested. His eyes traveled the width and the length of the building, and then widened as they went upwards.

Dolly smiled.

“The hotel is sittin’ on top of the bank!” Curry exclaimed.

“Bingo!” she congratulated him, “don’t see that very often, do ya?”

“No, ma’am, ya sure don’t. Is it safe? I mean, don’t people try to break into it from inside the hotel?”

“No, folks say it’s too much work for most bank robbers, so the answer is no; no one’s ever bothered to try.”

“Guess not,” Curry shook his head, “so what other interestin’ things have you got planned to show me?”

“Come this way,” she tugged on his arm, “ there’s an old well back behind an abandoned building, jus’ on the outskirts of town. Hope ya don’t spooked too easy,” Dolly lowered her voice, “ ‘cos some folks claim it’s haunted.”

Curry smiled and allowed Dolly to continue leading him down the boardwalk, pointing out things along the way and fulfilling the duties of a well-informed tour guide.

Heyes was enjoying his second piece of pie, along with another cup of coffee as he continued to swap stories with the townspeople.

Sheriff Tate excused himself. “Sorry folks, a sheriff’s work is never done; I’ve got to go make my rounds an’ check in with the deputy. I won’t be gone long; be sure ‘n save a piece of that pie for me, will ya, Joshua?”

Heyes nodded and leaned back in his chair feeling the most relaxed he had in weeks.

“Hey, the outlaw interjected, “that story reminds me of the time…”

Curry and Dolly were strolling back towards the heart of the town. Their trip to the well had allowed the couple to become better acquainted. Neither of the two had either seen or heard anything to substantiate the well’s claim of legendary ghostly apparitions, which suited them just fine.

“I don’t know about you, but my throat is parched after all the talkin’ I’ve been doin’,” Dolly announced, “how ‘bout if we stop by the saloon for a drink?” she suggested.

Curry stopped to look at her.

Dolly rolled her eyes, “Don’t look at me like that, it’s all perfectly respectable. Mrs. Parker’s establishment is frequented by all the ladies an’ their gentlemen escorts. Besides all the usual drinks, they have fancy liqueurs, an’ sometimes they even have special music, if you’re lucky. C’mon, I’ll show ya.”

Once more Curry found himself pulled along in Dolly’s wake.

After they had found a place to sit, Dolly gave him a calculating look. “If ya had the choice, what would ya pick to drink?”

“Most of the time it’s beer or whiskey.”

“That wasn’t what I asked; I asked what would you choose?”

“Well, in that case, I’d say scotch; what about you?”

“Me?” Dolly laughed, “over the years, I think I’ve acquired a taste for a little bit of everythin.’ But tonight, I think I’ll join ya for for some of the best scotch the house has to offer. Let me go have a word with Jake; he owes me a favor, an’ I think I’ll collect on it right now.”

Curry watched her walk away, knowing that she knew he was watching. He grinned; he’d never met a woman quite like her before, and if the brief sample of her passion at the well was any indication, she was more than a little interested in him, too. He looked up as Dolly returned with a full bottle and two glasses on a tray and set it down on the table. He reached out a hand and picked up the scotch.

“Boy, that must be some big favor Jake owes ya, Dolly,” he whistled in appreciation as he read the label on the bottle, “this is the good stuff!”

“Let’s jus’ say I saved him an’ this place a few thousand dollars. This bottle of scotch is jus’ a drop in the bucket towards what he says he owes me.”

Curry opened the bottle and poured them each a glass.

Dolly raised hers in a toast. “Here’s to fate that brought two strangers together and allowed them to become friends.”

Curry raised his glass, clinking it gently against Dolly’s. “Maybe more than just friends,” he amended, his blue eyes looking deep into the woman’s seated across from him.

Meeting his gaze, Dolly hesitated, and then nodded. “More than friends, Thaddeus,” she agreed softly.

They both tossed back their drinks and set the empty glasses on the table, almost in unison. They laughed together as both drew in a deep breath when the fiery liquid raced down their throats, hit their stomachs and the warmth began to radiate through their bodies as it made its way back up.

“My goodness, that sure hit the spot!” Dolly gasped.

“You can say that again!” Curry agreed as he poured another glass for himself. He looked at Dolly.

“Oh yes, please. It’ll take more’n a little scotch to do me in!” she chuckled as she pushed her glass towards him.

As the afternoon progressed, Dolly made sure that Curry’s glass remained full. She nursed her second glass, sipping it slowly between words of encouragement for her companion to empty his.

She poured another glass of scotch and put it into an unresisting limp hand. “C’mon an’ drink up, darlin’,” she encouraged the outlaw, “the night’s still young.” She curled her fingers around his and guided the drink to his mouth.

“There’s plenty more where that came from,” she promised as she caressed his cheek with her hand. Dolly watched with a gleam of satisfaction as Curry obediently tilted his head back and drained the glass. He set the empty glass down, folded his arms on the table and dropped his head on them.

Dolly glanced away as a man stepped inside and walked towards the bar. After ordering, he turned and nonchalantly surveyed the room. His gaze turned in her direction, and Dolly inclined her head in a subtle nod at his raised eyebrows. He glanced at the man beside her and after a curt nod, he downed his drink and left the saloon.

Dolly ran her fingers through the sandy curls of the man sprawled out on the table beside her.

“It’s too bad, Thaddeus…or whoever you are; really a shame…” she sighed.

Heyes was on his third cup of coffee when the sheriff came bursting through the door.

“Doc! Hey, Doc, ya gotta come quick!”

The outlaw sat up, coffee forgotten.

“It’s Joshua Smith, Sheriff, remember?”

“Never ya mind about all that alias mumbo-jumbo; there’s two fellas waitin’ outside who say they’ve got a score to settle with ya.”

“A score to settle?” Heyes stood up. “With me? Sheriff, didn’t you explain to them that I’m not Doc Holliday?”

“Well, Doc, I tried tellin’ ‘em that you were Joshua Smith, but I guess they didn’t believe me.” The lawman’s voice was apologetic.

“Maybe you didn’t try hard enough,” Heyes muttered in exasperation.

“Please, Doc; you’ve got to go out there,” the lawman pleaded, “they said that ‘lessen you came out in five minutes, they was comin’ in after ya, an’ it don’t matter to them who gets hurt.” Desperation crept into Tate’s voice, “At least go out there an’ talk to ‘em!”

Heyes shook his head, “It’s still Joshua, Sheriff, and I don’t think talkin’ is what they have in mind,” he answered, his tone grim. After a slight hesitation, he removed his gun from his holster and laid it on the table.

Tate looked at the man in shocked surprise. “Just what in the blue blazes do ya think you’re doin’? Are ya crazy? Without a gun…”

“Without a gun, I’m unarmed,” Heyes finished for the Sheriff. “They’re not going to shoot an unarmed man,” he stated firmly.

Pivoting about, Heyes left a gaping sheriff behind as he walked towards the door. Taking a deep breath, he shouldered his way through the batwings, his back ramrod straight, his stride unfaltering and a look of determination on his face.

It was easy enough to identify the two men. One appeared to be middle-aged, while the other looked like a teenager. They stood together side by side in the middle of the street, facing the saloon. Both looked like they were spoiling for a fight.

Heyes hooked his thumbs in his belt and forced a smile to his face. “Evening gentlemen; the sheriff tells me you fellas asked to see me, so here I am. What can I do for you?” his voice was neutral, almost pleasant.

“You can draw, Doc!” the older of the two growled.

“Draw? On the two of you?” Heyes gave a snort of laughter and elevated his brow. “Now why would I want to do that? I’m not that brave or that stupid, but more importantly, I’m not armed.” He patted his empty holster.

The two men looked as if they couldn’t believe what they were hearing and exchanged a glance.

“As you, and all these other witnesses,” Heyes looked around at the crowd, “can plainly see, I’m not wearing a gun.” He slowly opened his coat and patted the pockets one by one, to illustrate his point.

The townspeople smiled and nodded their heads, readily agreeing with ‘Doc’s’ words.

His tone still calm and even, Heyes continued. “And everyone knows that it’s against the law to shoot an unarmed man – like me – I’ll leave, unless there’s something else on your minds?”

Receiving insolent glares for an answer, the dark-haired man’s appearance underwent a split-second transformation. His eyes darkened, turning cold and hard, the slight smile vanished and was replaced by lips pressed together in a firm line, his expression unyielding. His stance was resolute. Even without a gun, the man looked dangerous. And that was what mattered to the citizens of Lone Butte.

After exchanging another look, the younger man stepped away to stand beside one of the male spectators. With a sudden lunge, he removed the surprised man’s gun from his holster.

“Here, catch!” He tossed the weapon at Heyes.

Instinctively putting his hands up, Heyes caught the gun in mid-air.

“Now you’re armed,” the young man smirked.

“And, in case you’re countin’, Doc, there’s also only one of us now,” the older man pointed out. “Put the gun in your holster,” he ordered as he pulled his own weapon to back up his words.

Heyes deliberated for a few seconds, and then looked down at the weapon in his hand. “Seems a shame for me to have to shoot you, mister, when I don’t even know your name;” he raised his eyes to stare into the stranger’s face.

“You’ve got a point Doc; a man should know the name of the man who’s gonna kill him. My name’s Carter, Wes Carter an’ you’re the man who killed my little brother. His name was Adam, an’ he was jus’ a snot-nosed kid; didn’t know any better, not that it mattered to you, none. He’d been drinkin’ an’ playin’ cards with you that night; said you wuz cheatin’ an’ drew on you. You could’ve jus’ winged him, he was so stinkin’ drunk he could barely stand, let alone hit the side of the barn, but no! You never even gave that boy a chance. At least I’m doin’ that much by you.”

Heyes never took his eyes off the man while he told his tale. “Sometimes there isn’t time enough to think.”

“That don’t matter now; what does, is that Adam’s dead and I’m here to make things right for him.”

“And what’s he here for?” Heyes turned to stare at the younger man. “You have a score to settle with me, too?”

Alarmed to find himself the center of attention, the boy turned to Wes in mute appeal.

“His name’s Steve Wilson,” Wes snapped, “Steve was Adam’s best friend an’ he’s here in case I miss.

The young man nodded vigorously, “Adam didn’t deserve to die like that!”

“I don’t suppose it would do me any good to try and tell you that I’m not Doc Holliday, would it?”

“You guessed right, Doc,” Wes sneered, “so quit stallin’ and let’s get this over with. Now put that gun in your holster or I’ll drop you right where you stand, jus’ like you did Adam!”

Realizing that he was out of aces, Hannibal Heyes slowly holstered the borrowed gun.

With a satisfied smile on his weathered face, Wes put his own weapon back into his holster and took a gunfighter’s stance.

People scattered.

Inside Mrs. Parker’s, Dolly had managed to get Curry to sit almost upright and was trying to coax the man into leaving with her when the excitement started.

“Hey everybody, Doc Holliday’s gonna shoot it out with two gunfighters in front of the saloon right now!” someone yelled through the doors.

Hearing the announcement, everyone rushed out the door, anxious to watch the famous legend in action.

Curry shook his head to clear it, and got to his feet.

Dolly jumped up and grabbed his arm with both of her hands, holding him tight. “No, Thaddeus, you can’t go out there, not like this. Let him handle it by himself, please?”

Curry shook his head again. “Lemme go, I have to, he’s my friend! ” he insisted stubbornly.

“No you don’t, you need to stay right here with me,” Dolly tried to push him back down into his chair.

Yanking his arm free, Curry took a step towards the door. The room began to spin and blur; he swayed and grabbed the table to steady himself.

“See, Thaddeus, ya can’t help him if ya can’t even stand up on your own two feet!”

“He needs me,” Curry said and stumbled off.

“Damn ya, Jones, damn ya all the way to hell!” she cursed the man who was single-handedly ruining her life. Brody wasn’t going to just let this go.

She took off after the drunk, catching up with him as he stood on the top stair of the boardwalk.

Heyes stepped into the middle of the street; the absence of noise created an eerie mood. Then, as the two men faced off against each other, there was a subtle change; the atmosphere shifted once more.

“Trouble?” a quiet voice from somewhere behind and over Heyes’ left shoulder drawled.

“Not really. We’re just having ourselves a friendly little conversation,” Heyes answered smoothly, his brown eyes locked with those of his opponent’s.

“Well then, in that case it shouldn’t be a problem if another ‘friend’ joins in, should it?” Curry said, slurring slightly.

Dolly grabbed his arm in one last attempt to detain him, “Thaddeus, please, listen…”

Curry shrugged her hands off roughly, pushing her away. His voice was ominously quiet. “You can’t stop me,” he growled.

The man’s tone caused Dolly to shiver, despite the afternoon heat. She looked into eyes that had been a warm and friendly blue earlier, and glimpsed the steely coldness of the winter blizzard they now held. She backed away in defeat.

Curry deliberately took his time to navigate painstakingly down the few steps that separated the boardwalk from the street, and then walked over to his partner’s right side.

At the same time, Steve sidled over to join Wes; the look on the young man’s face betrayed his motive. He moved to benefit from the older man’s protection, not to lend Wes support.

The two sets of men stood facing one another in the middle of the street; Curry glanced down at Heyes’ holster and did a double take.

“Now where in tarnation did ya get such a pathetic excuse for a gun?” He gave a sarcastic laugh as he yanked the weapon free to examine it more closely. “Why, this little pea-shooter wouldn’t hurt a flea!” He dismissed it derisively. All eyes were on the sandy-haired man as he bent over to lay the weapon on the ground.

When he straightened up, Curry’s own Colt .45 cleared leather, almost seeming to leap into his hand, the business end pointing directly at Wes and Steve, both of whom had gone slack-jawed at the impressive display.

“Let’s go over things once again, friends. In case you haven’t noticed, my friend here is unarmed; he doesn’t have a gun, he can’t shoot you. Now me, I’m a whole ‘nother matter. I AM armed. I DO have a gun. And I WILL shoot you. Either of you feelin’ lucky today?”

Steve wasted no time in taking a step backwards, shaking his head, while Wes looked as if he was sorry he had ever bothered to get up that morning.

Still holding his gun on them, Curry continued, “You fellas got mighty quiet all of a sudden; anythin’ else you want to say to my friend here?”

Wes and Steve remained mute, making sure their hands never strayed anywhere near their guns.

“Well, guess my friend an’ me will jus’ have to go on back to what we were doin’ before you two walk-offs interrupted us. I don’t ‘spect we’ll be runnin’ into either of ya for the rest of our stay here in Lone Butte.” Curry pinned the two men with a piercing steely-eyed glare, “will we?”

The two men gave vigorous shakes of their heads while Steve added a fervent, “No sir!” for good measure.

“Then git!”

Curry’s words had the effect of dynamite. Steve and Wes tripped over their own two feet, and stumbled over each other in their eagerness to comply. Within minutes, all that remained was a cloud of dust.

Curry spun his Colt on his finger, ending with a flourish as he holstered it, much to the delight of the crowd that had begun to gather again.

There was even a faint smattering of applause at the impressive gunmanship now that the danger was over. The small town was abuzz with excitement.

“Now don’t that beat all?”

“I never seen anything like it?”

“Wasn’t that somethin’? That Wyatt, he sure showed ‘em!”

“Nobody’s THAT fast!”

“Did ya see him draw? I never saw him draw! Just like lightnin’!”

“Neither the Doc or Wyatt ever looked afraid; they was jus’ as cool ‘n calm as if it were nothin’!”

“Boy, wish I could draw like that!”

“That whole time they never shot anyone; never fired their guns, not even once. I don’t know how, sure thought they was gonna have to, though.”

“That Wyatt sure stuck up fer the Doc; now that’s a real friend for ya.”

The comments continued to flow around the town’s two newfound ‘celebrities’. With the threat of danger erased from their little community, the proud townspeople were eager to share their approval of the way the Doc and Wyatt had handled things.

Heyes turned to face Curry just as Curry turned to face Heyes.

“You know I didn’t need your help, don’t you?” Heyes scowled at his partner. “ I was doing fine on my own.”

“Uh, huh, sure Heyes, next time you get in a gunfight, I’ll let you handle it on your own.” His thumbs hooked into his belt, Curry’s blue eyes never blinked. He shrugged, and then looked over Heyes’ shoulder at the lights still shining in the social hall.

“’Course if you insist on interfering, I can’t stop you,” added Heyes.

“C’mon, let’s go see if there’s any of that food left…Doc!” Curry chuckled as he slung an arm across his partner’s shoulders.

Heyes pulled his head away from the Kid. “Sheesh, just how much have you had to drink, anyway? I thought you were a little slow on the draw back there.”

“I’m still faster than you drunk or sober, partner.” Curry turned and promptly tripped on his own feet.

_________________
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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Holiday in a Small Town by moonshadow :: Comments

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Re: Holiday in a Small Town by moonshadow
Post on Sat 21 Mar 2015, 1:30 am by royannahuggins



Doc Mason Sam Elliot


Roy Stuart Margolin


Andy David Canary


Brody Yan Birch


Ed James Marsters


Wolf Jay Tavare


Miguel Jimmy Smits




Continues from after showdown on Main Street. The Kid has tripped on his own feet:


The crowd dispersed. Two men lingered behind, and were now quietly discussing that interesting outcome.

“See, Brody, told you there was gonna be trouble.”

“Yep, Roy, you did.” Brody inhaled on his cigar.

“An’ that dark-haired one, he’s not Doc Holliday, neither.”

“Right again: no, he most certainly is not Doc Holliday. And if he’s not the Doc -”

“Then that other fella, he sure ain’t Wyatt Earp!” Roy finished proudly.

Brody nodded his head absently.

Roy fell silent.

Brody mulled things over. He didn’t buy that dark-haired one’s flimsy excuse of mistaken identity one whit. So what was in it for those two?

Taking another long draw on his cigar, Brody pondered some more. One stranger getting in the way of things was definitely annoying, but two strangers, both of them a smart mouthed, and one a fast-drawing gunslinger, well now, that really complicated things.

If there was one thing he hated, it was complications.

Taking one last puff, Brody dropped the cigar on the ground and stomped on it with the heel of his boot, grinding it into the sod. As he looked down at the pile of ashes, a smile appeared on his face; he had a plan. Like his cigar, all he had to do was crush the man.

Watching Brody’s face, Roy saw him smile. His own face now wore a satisfied expression. “You got an idea what’re we gonna do ‘bout ‘em, boss?” he asked.

“We’re gonna crush ‘em, that’s what we’re gonna do. Dolly didn’t do her job with that gunslinger; she let us all down. Let’s go on over to the saloon and have us a beer or two; I need to work out a couple of details.”

----

Heyes returned to the hotel first leaving the Kid with the crowd at the social hall. He reached the top of the stairs where he was startled by a loud crash, followed by a woman’s muffled scream. He hurried to the source of the noise, and knocked on the door.

“Yes?” a female voice answered hesitantly.

“I thought I heard something and wondered if there was some kind of trouble?”

“Mister Smith?”

“Yes?”

“It’s me, Dolly - Dolly Hayes. You do remember me from dinner, dontcha?”

Heyes smiled, “Yes I do Mrs. Hayes, it’d be kind of hard for a man to forget someone like you. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“No, everything’s alright. I just knocked over the water basin is all, clumsy me; it was an accident. I can take care of it by myself, but thank you very much for askin’.”

“Okay, if you say everything’s alright, then I guess I’ll be saying goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” There was a brief silence. “I can save a seat for you at breakfast, right beside me, if you’d like?”

“I’d like that very much; thank you, ma’am.”

“It’s Dolly, Joshua; I’m lookin’ forward to seein’ you in the mornin’.”

And I’m looking forward to seeing you, Dolly; goodnight.”

He turned to walk away, when another sound from Dolly’s room caught his attention. He stood still to listen, however all he heard was quiet. Heyes shrugged his shoulders, and returned to his room.

----

Curry trudged up the stairs and tried to open the door to their room. Locked; no surprise there. He knocked, but there was no answer. He stood back and looked at the floor; a light shone under the door. He fished around in his pocket for the key and eased the door open. His partner was sprawled out on the bed sound asleep, the book he had been reading face down on his chest.

He tossed his coat and hat carelessly on a chair, unbuckled his gun belt and hung it from the headboard on his side of the bed.

Heyes began mumbling; Curry thought he heard the words bank, floor plan and safe. He grinned; even in his dreams, Heyes was still busy scheming. Reaching across the bed, he grabbed the book and set it on the dresser.

Curry undressed, yawned decided to call it a night. He stretched out beside his partner and closed his eyes; it wasn’t long before he too was sound asleep.

----

The Kid woke a short time later, bright sunlight streaming in. His eyes searched the room, but he found himself alone. He rolled over on his side, he threw his legs over the edge of the bed and sat up; a throbbing headache and roiling stomach served as vivid reminders of the scotch he’d consumed the afternoon before.

The prospect of having to get out of bed elicited a few uncharitable thoughts towards his errant partner. “The least you could’ve done is bring me a cup of coffee,” he grumbled.

After some cautious maneuvering, the hung-over outlaw managed to wobble out the door In search of coffee .

Stepping outside the hotel, the smell of food assailed his nostrils, and his stomach churned again.

Watching from across the street, Roy tugged on Brody’s sleeve. “Would ya lookee there,” he whispered with child-like glee as he pointed to Curry, “he’s all alone!”

Brody looked, a calculating smile forming on his face as he eyed the man.

“That’s good, ain’t it, Brody?” a zealous Roy crowed with delight.

“Oh, it’s better than good; take a closer look at our boy.”

Curious, the man crossed behind his boss to get a better look. He stared hard at Curry and slowly a look of satisfaction replaced his puzzled look. He whistled softly.

“He ain’t wearin’ a gun!”

“Bingo; he just made our job incredibly easy. You know what you’re supposed to do?”

“Yep, sure do, Boss,” Roy patted his holster, “you can count on me.”

“Good; get going.”

Roy scurried off. Brody smiled. Satisfied that things were in order, he sauntered across the street and stopped a few feet away from the hotel.

Eyes closed, Curry was leaning against a post doing his best to remain upright.

“Hey, you!” Brody called out.

Hearing the familiar challenge in the voice, Curry opened his eyes and turned in the direction of the speaker. “You talkin’ to me, mister?”

Instinctively he reached towards his holster. He frowned as his fingers searched for, but didn’t find, leather strapped to his thigh, or encounter the cold steel of his Colt .45.

“Mister I don’t know you, and I don’t have a gun…”

Brody cut him off. “There are a couple of men here who are real anxious to talk to you; I’ll let you explain to them about your gun.” He turned as his compatriots, Miguel and Andy walked up behind him.

“I’ll let you two handle it from here,” Brody inclined his head in Curry’s direction, “don’t mess this up!”

“Look, I was just tellin’ that stranger that I don’t have a gun…”

“That does not matter, senor,” Miguel cut Curry’s protest short, “we are here to tell you to tell your friend, Doc Holliday, to stay away from my brother’s woman. My brother, he does not much like strangers getting so, shall we say, friendly with her, as you two are doing, unless he first gives you permission. In your case, I do not think he will be doing that; in fact, you are making him very angry.”

Curry groaned silently, “I think there’s been some kinda mistake; I don’t know your brother or his woman, and my friend don’t neither.”

“Shut up ya lyin’ snake in the grass!” Andy snarled, interrupting Curry, “you’re jus’ as bad as that lily-livered, low-down, no-account coward of a friend of yours. If the Doc don’t wanna fight his own fights, then I guess we’ll jus’ have to settle up with you!”

“Mister, I don’t even know what you are talking about.”

“Senor Earp, your time is almost up; do you have any last words?”

“I am not Wyatt Earp. Go shoot him if you have a score to settle.”

“Everyone knows who you are,” Miguel insisted, “you and your amigo, Holliday, have caused us much trouble already. ”

“Look, mister,” Curry took a step forward. Two shots rang out simultaneously.

Clutching a hand to his chest, the sandy-haired outlaw staggered backwards, falling against a pile of wooden barrels stacked four high. They teetered precariously for a few seconds before tumbling to the ground, the wounded man along with them.

Miguel nodded to Roy, who had been hiding in the shadows off to Curry’s right. Jumping out of the way of a rolling barrel, he tossed the still-smoking gun beside the fallen man and turned quickly as curious townspeople gathered.

“What happened?”

“We heard gunshots; who was doin’ the shootin’?”

“Why, that’s Wyatt Earp! What’s he doin’ on the ground?”

Roy spoke up. “I saw it all; it happened so quick I never got the chance to run for nobody. It was jus’ like what happened yesterday only Wyatt Earp tried to gun down that man over there,” he pointed to Miguel, “in cold blood! Why, he wasn’t doin’ nothin’ wrong, jus’ mindin’ his own business, when Wyatt called him out. Told him iffen he didn’t draw he’d drop him where he stood. I ain’t never seen anyone that mad; he skairt me plumb near half to death! Mig– I mean that stranger, he had to kill Wyatt, tweren’t nothin’ else he could do; why he’d a been deader’n a doornail if -”

“Thank you very much, senor,” Miguel interrupted Roy’s verbose testimonial with a quelling look at the man, “but I think it would be best if we wait for the sheriff, no?”

Roy clamped his mouth shut and nodded, then melted into the crowd as the excited townspeople began talking amongst themselves. He slunk off to the hotel.

Brody watched from his vantage point across the street. Where was that confounded excuse for a lawman? They were on a tight-enough schedule already and didn’t need any more delays.

Finally, Sheriff Tate shoved his way through the milling throng of people and came to an abrupt halt in front of Miguel.

“Someone said ya shot Wyatt Earp – that ya killed him. Is that true, Miguel? Did ya? What happened?” The lawman eyed the man with suspicion.

“Si, it is sad, but verdad…it is true, Sheriff. As all these people here will tell you,” he waved a hand, “I was defending myself. Earp, he drew on me, first. Yo no se…” Miguel shrugged eloquently, “maybe the senor, he was having a bad morning; perhaps he got up on the wrong side of the bed or something; who knows? Until he called me out, I had no reason to talk to him. I think it is very strange that he picked me to fight.”

Tate frowned. “So what you’re tellin’ me is that you never said, or did, anything to provoke Wyatt? That he jus’ took a dislike to ya for no good reason at all?”

“Si, Sheriff; I admit I did say, ‘Buenos dias’ to the man; that is when he told me to draw. I did not even know who he was, until just now. If I had known it was Senor Wyatt Earp who was picking a gunfight with me, do you think I would have been so loco as to put my hand near my gun? I still am not quite sure why I am standing here and Senor Earp is,” Miguel gave a sideways jerk of his head towards the motionless body, “laying dead over there. It is muy mal…very bad,” he shook his head, a sorrowful expression on his face.

The sheriff, along with every other man present, removed his hat and bowed his head respectfully. It was a real shame Wyatt Earp had to meet his end this way here in Lone Butte. It would give the town a bad name. Tate rubbed his jaw thoughtfully.

“Sheriff! Hey, Sheriff Tate! Wyatt’s not dead – least not yet!”

The lawman hurried over and knelt beside the wounded man. He missed the look of angry disappointment that marred Miguel’s features.

Miguel stalked off with Andy trailing along behind him. They made themselves scarce
and headed for the hotel.

----

Miguel rapped on the door of room number seven. The door was unlocked, and he and Andy entered hastily. The door was locked after them. Miguel stormed into the room and threw his gun belt on the bed. He went to the window, gesturing with his hands and speaking rapidly in Spanish.

Dolly crossed the room and laid her hand on his arm. “Its okay, Miguel, you…” The man jerked away in anger.

Another knock on the door interrupted them. Dolly moved away and unlocked the door to admit an equally furious Brody.

“Damn Earp, or whoever he is, he’s not dead!” he snarled bitterly. “You know what that means? I don’t like him being here. He’s too fast on the draw, and he gets along too well with the sheriff. He and his friend, the one calling himself Doc Holliday, could ruin my plan. I swear, if they mess this up for us, I’ll shoot them so full of holes they’ll leak like sieves!”

They’re not Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp; I’m certain of that. I’ve seen Earp and Holliday. So what are these two up to? Ed, what’s going on out there?”

“Well, they’re all still standin’ around starin’ at him,” the man standing watch at the window answered. “Wait a minute, looks like the doc jus’ arrived.”

“Holliday?” Brody asked quickly.

“Nope, jus’old Doc Mason; don’t see Holliday anywhere.”

“Good. Okay, Roy, Andy, Ed and Miguel, your four get to work and remember, we’ve got to get into the bank by Friday night so the fireworks show will cover the explosion. We’ve only got one chance, so you can’t afford to mess up anything else. Those miners will be showing up bright ‘n early Saturday morning for their money and I aim for us to be long gone by then.

“Dolly, you keep close to those two. I need to know if they have guessed what we’re up to.”

The woman checked herself in the mirror, tucking in a few loose tendrils and straightening her bodice. He signaled for quiet, opened the door a crack and checked the hall. Once Dolly had exited, he scanned the hallway again before locking the door and pocketing the key; he gave the sign for the men to start working.

The muffled sounds of wood splintering and metal against metal resumed as the outlaws got back to ripping up the floorboards, tearing them out of the room that was directly above the bank below.

----

Meanwhile on the street, the Doc began his examination.

The physician looked up, a somber look in his eyes. “He’s one lucky man, to even be alive; let’s get him on over to my office.”

The townspeople crowded around to help.

Shanghaied by Harvey Baker Heyes had spent the morning out at the beanpole’s farm. Now he sat on his horse and stared at the procession heading down the street, and wondered what was going on.

An agitated man greeted him. “Now, don’t get riled up, and don’t worry none, Doc Mason says Wyatt will be just fine. I know we’re supposed to be real careful of your ‘condition’ and all, but someone’s got to tell you. The doc’s over in his office right now working on him.”

“Someone’s got to tell me what? What’s wrong with the Ki- with Wy- aw, hell, what’s wrong my friend?!”

“Take it easy now, just calm down, Doc,” the man held up a placating hand, “Doc Mason sure don’t need another patient on top of the one he’s already got. He’s pretty sure he can get the bleeding stopped-”

“Bleeding? What bleeding?”

“Why, from the bullet. Did I forget to mention that? Wyatt got shot and Doc Mason says he won’t know if the barrels any permanent damage until he wakes up.”

“Barrels? What barrels?”

“The barrels that fell on top of Wyatt when he got shot.”

Heyes didn’t wait to hear any more. He threw the reins at the man and hurried across the street. The townspeople saw him approach, and they made room for him to squeeze into the small office.

“Don’t be fooled by the amount of blood you see,” the physician assured him, “it looks worse than it really is. As I told the sheriff earlier, he’s a lucky man; a lucky man, indeed. The bullet went clean through, didn’t hit any bones and managed to miss all his vital organs. I can have him patched up in no time, but we’ll have to wait and see whether or not there are any injuries to his head.”

“Head injuries? From being shot in the chest?”

“Well, from what I understand, when your friend was shot he fell backwards into a stack of empty barrels, knocking them down. There was a lot of confusion, and I can’t get a straight story as to wheter they rolled on him or not. Overall, I think he is going to be fine. I don’t see any bruising around the head. You’re welcome to stay as long as you like.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

The physician smiled, “You know, Doc, it could be a mite confusing, each of us calling the other one ‘Doc’.”

Heyes returned the smile, “It could at that; why don’t you call me Joshua instead?”

“Sounds like a plan, Joshua.”


----

A frustrated Dolly went to her own room. She needed some time to think. Doc Mason had chased her away from his patient, admonishing her that the invalid needed his rest. Brody wanted information, and she had none to supply.

She plucked up her courage, and went to share her scant information with Brody. He was furious with her, demanding more and reminding her that unless she brought them something they could use, she’d be left behind.

It was only money; okay, so it was more money than she’d ever seen at one time in her whole life.

Pulling on her shawl, Dolly made her way across town, a large basket filled with food and drinks on her arm.
----

Heyes had drifted off into an uneasy doze, when something caused him to jerk wide-awake.

He saw a pair of drowsy blue eyes doing their best to focus on him.

“What’s…oh, ow…my shoulder!” Curry groaned, “and my head!” He reached up to feel the strip of cloth that encircled his forehead and winced. “What happened?”

Heyes chuckled, “You knocked some barrels over when you were shot.”

“I was shot?”

“That’s the rumor, partner.”

“Where? When?” Curry tried to sit up.

“In your shoulder,” Heyes answered. He put a restraining hand on his friend’s arm and eased the agitated man back down.

Curry shot Heyes an annoyed look. “I know where; I meant where, ya know as in where I was!”

“Outside the hotel, on the boardwalk.”

“Who shot me, an’ why?” the sandy-haired outlaw looked at his partner with genuine confusion. “How long have I been out?”

“Well, let’s see; it happened yesterday, about mid-morning,” Heyes yawned deeply, then took out his pocket watch and held it up to the lamp. “It’s four o’clock in the morning, so you’ve been asleep for almost eighteen hours.” He looked into Curry’s face. “As for the who and why, don’t you remember what happened?”

Curry closed his eyes. After a few moments, he opened them and shrugged, “Nothing.” His face clouded over and frustration roughened his voice, “You’d think a fella could remember somethin’ as important as bein’ shot, right?”

“It’s okay, Kid. The doc said that one of those barrels might have hit you on the head a little too hard and your memory might be a little off. But he did say you were lucky; that bullet went straight through and it won’t be long before you’re up and causing trouble again,” Heyes teased.

Curry stared into his partner’s face, a grimace his own. “Yeah, I’m real lucky, alright,” he said sarcastically. After a slight hesitation he continued, “Heyes, why would someone want to shoot me?”

“You mean besides being worth $10,000 – dead or alive? I don’t know, Kid. Maybe you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or maybe someone took offense because you didn’t shave?” Heyes shrugged, “I’m working on it. Right now, the best thing is for you to quit worrying and see if you can get some rest.”

“Don’t guess I have much choice,” Curry grumbled. Glimpsing the tired look on Heyes’ face he added, “go on to bed, we can talk about it in the mornin’.”

----

The next morning Heyes strolled on the town’s main street. Sheriff Tate saw him and ran over.

“G’mornin’, Doc, uh, I mean, Joshua. How’s Wyatt, uh, I mean, Thaddeus, doin’ today?” he inquired solicitously.

“He’s still pretty sore. He woke up this morning and doesn’t remember anything about what happened at all; says he doesn’t know why anyone here would want to shoot him.”

“Well, mebbe he’ll remember something later. I’m glad we run into each other like this. I wanted to talk with ya alone, first, then I’d like to speak with Thaddeus.”

“This have something to do with the shooting?”

The lawman nodded, “I’d like for ya to come on over to my office, if ya don’t mind.”

Tate led the way to the jail. Inside, he reached into the bottom drawer of his desk, removed a gun and handed it to Heyes.

“I wanted to return Wy- I mean Thaddeus’ Colt. It’s only been fired once, so that backs up the story that Miguel gave me that morning.”

Heyes was still looking at the weapon he held in his hand. “Where’d you get this, Sheriff?”

The lawman gave him a funny look. “It’s Wyatt’s. That’s the gun we found layin’ next to him after he shot at Miguel. Why, somethin’ wrong?”

Heyes frowned. Something was very wrong. He looked at the sheriff. “Can I have his gun belt, too?”

“He wasn’t wearin’ none,” the lawman replied. “All we found was the gun, with one bullet fired, jus’ like I said. Maybe the belt’s upstairs in your room?”

“That’s a good idea, Sheriff; think I’ll head up there right now and see if you’re right.”

“Sorry it took so long to get it back to ya,” Tate apologized, “but I had to look it over first. You understand that I had to make sure things were on the up ‘n up, right? You’ll make sure Thaddeus gets it back, won’t ya?”

“Sure will, Sheriff,” Heyes nodded. “Say, could you wait for awhile before going over to see Thaddeus? I’ve got a few things I need to take care of and I’d like to be around when you talk to him; I sure would appreciate it.”

“There’s no hurry; I’ll see ya sometime after lunch. I’m sure glad to hear your friend’s gonna be alright.”

“Me too, Sheriff; see you later.”

Heyes tucked the gun under his arm and turned to leave.

“Oh, Mister Smith,” Tate called out.

His hand on the doorknob, Heyes turned. “Yes?”

“You as good as your friend is, with a gun? As good as they claim?”

The dark-haired outlaw looked down at the weapon he held in his hand. “Well, sheriff, I’m not that good, but I like to think whoever I’m up against is a little worse,” Heyes grinned and continued on his way.

----

Heyes put the key into the lock of their room, and was ready to turn the knob when he heard strange noises from down the hall. He walked towards the sounds and stopped to listen. Room #7, again. He cocked his head to the left, his right ear towards the door and waited.

“Why Mister Smith, how nice of ya to come callin’ on me; I do hope this means that Mister Jones is doin’ better?” an abnormally loud voice asked from behind him. Startled, Heyes pivoted and confronted Dolly.

Heyes nodded as he removed his hat, “He’s awake, but in bad shape, I’m sorry to say. Seems he can’t recall much about the shooting,” Heyes frowned, “poor man, doesn’t remember a thing.” Heyes shook his head sadly.

“Well, in that case, maybe he’d enjoy some company this afternoon?” she prattled on, her voice sounding unnaturally loud in the narrow hall.

“I think he’d enjoy that, Dolly. The doc will be seeing him this morning and the sheriff is paying a call this afternoon, so maybe it would be best if you waited until after he’s finished with Thaddeus.”

“Sheriff Tate is going to see Mister Jones? Whatever for?” she frowned. “Surely he doesn’t blame him for what happened, does he?” Dolly inquired in a voice so loud it set Heyes to thinking.

“Uh, no, not at all,” Heyes hastened to explain, “the sheriff just wants to make sure Thaddeus is okay. He kinda feels responsible for what happened; you know, it being his town and all. Since my friend doesn’t remember any of the details,” Heyes shook his head, a sorrowful expression on his face, “I’m afraid there won’t be much for them to talk about.”

“Do ya think he’ll remember me?” Dolly bit down on her bottom lip. “I mean, if he can’t remember getting shot or who shot him…”

“Well, I can’t say for sure, ma’am, but if the man’s going to do any remembering, you’d be at the top of his list for sure!” Heyes favored her with a reassuring smile…

Dolly found herself blushing at the sincere compliment, something she didn’t do very often. “That’s very kind of you, Joshua,” she said softly, “I’ll come by to see you two later this afternoon.”

Heyes nodded and reached out a hand towards the basket. “Allow me to help you inside with that; it looks rather heavy.”

Dolly quickly stepped back out of reach. “Oh no, really it’s not!” she protested loudly as she clutched it protectively against her, “I can manage by myself. But, thank you anyway,” she softened her rebuff with a smile.

Although her actions had aroused his curiosity, Heyes merely smiled in return, put his hat back on his head and turned towards his own room.

Dolly waited until he had disappeared inside his room. Then she put her own key into the lock of room #7 and ducked quickly inside and stood eyes closed, with her back pressed against the door.

She opened them, and found herself facing six unsmiling men with guns drawn and pointing straight at her. She gulped and raised a nervous hand to her throat. “It’s alright, he’s gone. You heard what he said?” Dolly breathed a silent sigh of relief as they all holstered their weapons and returned to work, with the exception of Brody.

“Well, we sure didn’t have any trouble hearin’ you! I had to stand by the door to hear him, but if what he’s sayin’ about Jones is true, then we can all breathe a little easier. What was he doin’ outside our room anyway? Maybe he heard something?”

“I don’t think so.”

“He heard us - he knows!” Brody insisted.

“No he doesn’t!” Dolly protested just as vehemently. “Anyway, what would it mean if he did?”

Brody glared at her. “It would mean that he just became a complication; a complication we can’t afford to have right now.”

“You mean that ya’d kill him?”

“Listen to me, woman; there’s $100,000 sitting right below us in that bank and if he comes between it and us – what’s more important, the money or the man?”

“If I thought he’d really heard somethin’, I’d pick up a gun and use it on him myself!” Dolly hissed angrily. “I think he’s tellin’ the truth.”

Brody turned from her to take action. “Okay boys, after what just happened, from now on we keep someone on watch at the door at all times. We’ll have to keep the door cracked to see who’s coming and going. Wolf, you’re first up. Roy ‘n Andy, you two get first break with me; come and get some of the food Dolly brought. When we’re done, us three will spell Miguel, Ed and Wolf.”

He bit down hungrily into a sandwich. “Andy, you’ll take over watch at the window; Roy, you’ll be at the door.” Poking around in the basket again, he withdrew a jug and held it up for inspection.

Brody glanced up and caught Dolly watching him; he raised the jug in a mock salute. Besides looking mighty fetching, the woman sure could cook.

----

Heyes entered their hotel room, and saw the Kid’s gun belt still hanging from the bedpost. Inside the holster was his Colt .45.

He took the belt, grabbed Curry’s saddlebag and stuffed everything inside, including the mystery gun. Heyes slung the bag over his shoulder and let himself quietly out of the room. Standing in the silent hallway, he cocked his head to listen intently, heard nothing, and made his way down the stairs and over to the doc’s office.

He found Curry sleeping and set the saddlebag on the table. He stepped closer and reached out a hand to feel the patient’s forehead. Heyes grinned as Curry’s hand snaked out from under the blanket to grab his wrist.

“I thought you were asleep, Kid; sorry to bother you.”

“You’re not sorry; you found out somethin’ and you wanna have someone listen to you talk about it.” His smile was smug but weary as he yawned.

“I’m out trying to find out who tried to kill you and why,” Heyes said calmly.

Heyes shot the Kid a look. I want you to look at something.” He brought the saddlebag over to the bed and sat down beside the Kid. “Open it and take out what’s on top,” he instructed his partner.

Untying the leather strip and lifting the flap, Curry reached inside and pulled out a gun. He turned it over in his hand, examined it and gave the weapon a quick spin on his trigger finger, then looked up.

“Well?” Heyes asked.

“Well, what?”

“Does it mean anything to you?”

“This gun?” Curry wrinkled his brow, “No, should it?”

Heyes didn’t comment; instead, he reached inside the bag and withdrew a gun belt and laid it next to his partner. “What about these?” he kept a close watch on the other man’s face.

“Of course I recognize ‘em,” Curry snapped in annoyance, “this is MY gun belt and this,” he pulled the gun free, “is MY gun in MY holster! Why wouldn’t I recognize ‘em?” His eyes darted back and forth between the two weapons he now held in his hands. “Heyes, what’s goin’ on?” he demanded.

“The gun you’re holding in your left hand is the gun they found beside you the day you were shot.” Heyes paused while his words soaked in. “Sheriff Tate says it was on the ground next to your right hand, and he says you weren’t wearing your gun belt.”

“Heyes, you know I never go out without my gun belt- ever!”

Heyes’ steady gaze never strayed from the Kid’s face. “But you didn’t take it that morning.” Curry opened his mouth, but Heyes held up a hand. “I know, Kid; as hard as it is to believe, it’s true. I found your gun belt hanging on the bedpost with your gun inside the holster, upstairs in our hotel room. You still having trouble remembering what happened?”

Curry’s face clouded over. “Yeah.” Frustrated, he tossed the mystery gun down towards the end of the bed.

Heyes reached down, grabbed the gun and stuffed it back inside the bag. “Give it some time, Kid; I’m sure it’ll come back to you.”

A knock on the door interrupted them. Heyes opened it to admit an attractive woman holding a tray loaded with enough food to feed three invalids.

He stepped back with a wink as the woman carried the tray into the room. “I’ll just let you rest for awhile while you enjoy your breakfast, Thaddeus; I’ll see you later.”

----

Heyes returned later in the day to check in on the Kid.

“’Bout time you got back; so what did you find out?” Curry demanded impatiently.

“Nothing important. What did Doc Mason have to say?”

“Said I havta stay in bed at least another day or two,” Curry grumbled, a scowl still firmly in place. “That means I’ll miss the show tonight,” he added glumly.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Heyes grinned, “maybe he’ll let you at least sit outside for awhile, okay?”

Curry shrugged.

“Remember anything yet?” Heyes asked.

“Nope. You tell me what you found out, even if it isn’t ‘important.’” Curry yawned.

“Seems a man named Miguel is the one who shot you. That name mean anything?”

“Nope,” another deep yawn interrupted him. “Should it?”

“Claims you started the fight. Says that you called him out, for no reason.”

“That’s not important?” Curry yawned once more, “well, what do the other witnesses say?”

“That’s the problem, Kid. A man named Andy is the only other witness who saw the gunfight. He claims you started it too. He backs up Miguel’s story almost word for word.”

“Kinda strange, I thought there were other people there,” another yawn cutting off his words again, this one even longer and deeper. His eyes drifted shut.

Heyes leaned forward and shook Curry’s arm. “Hey!”

Curry’s eyes popped open. “What?”

“You’re falling asleep.”

Curry tried to keep his eyes open long enough to give his partner a strange look. “You sure?” he yawned.

Heyes rolled his eyes. “Positive. What about the other witnesses?”

“What other witnesses?”

“The ones who didn’t see the gunfight!” Heyes snapped.

Curry eyed his friend with concern, “Heyes, you feelin’ alright?” Receiving only a silent glare he added, “Uh, if they didn’t see it, they couldn’t really be witnesses,” he yawned, “right?”

“Kid, were there any other witnesses?”

Curry yawned, and responded with a silly grin.

“Kid, I don’t think you understand that this is important; Andy and Miguel both say you started the fight!” Heyes persisted.

“Maybe I did,” Curry mumbled as yet another yawn escaped him. He settled down more comfortably into the pillows and closed his eyes with a sigh of contentment.

“Maybe you did, what?”

“Start the fight.” In a reflective voice, the outlaw continued, “I woke up feelin’ so bad that mornin’, maybe I did.” Curry yawned deeply, and continued, “after drinkin’ all that scotch the night before, I was still feelin’ pretty lousy. I could barely stand up, let alone walk.” He stopped and closed his eyes.

Heyes waited, but Curry remained silent. “What happened next?”

“Huh? Oh there was a man who didn’t make sense who disappeared.”

“Disappeared?”

“Yep. Jus’ up ‘n disappeared; walked off,” Curry laughed at his own joke.

“Kid, Kid.” Heyes shook the Kid awake. “What happened next?”

“Yep,” the sandy-haired man nodded happily, a silly grin on his face.

“Kid, did Doc Mason give you some medicine for the pain?”

“Yep,” he nodded again, “don’t feel a thing.”

“That’s real nice, Kid.” Heyes took the Kid’s face in his hands and turned it to face his own. “After that stranger disappeared, what happened?”

Curry laughed, “Two more men showed up. They don’t like us; I mean us Holliday and Earp. They were angry.”

“They say why they were mad?”

Curry nodded again. “Said we’d caused them a whole lotta trouble.” Another deep yawn. “Don’t know,” he yawned deeply, “warned us…to stay away…from…some woman.” Curry’s eyes closed, the rest of his words were lost as they slurred together.

Heyes stood up and walked towards the door.

“Heyes?”

Heyes crossed to stand beside the bed and touched his partner’s arm. “Right here, Kid.”

“Told him…didn’t have a gun…” Curry took a deep breath, “he shot me…anyway…

Heyes picked up his hat and the mystery gun, and headed for the jail.

----

“So Thaddeus couldn’t have started the fight? He didn’t even have a gun? What about the one we found lyin’ next to him?”

“The gun you found beside him belongs to somebody else, Thaddeus left his gun in the room. This is his gun.” He held out the Kid’s weapon for the sheriff to see.

Tate looked at Heyes skeptically.

“He’d had a little too much to drink the night before, remember?”

“Uh huh, but I can’t jus’ call Miguel a liar though. He ‘n Andy backed each other up and nobody else denied what they said. They’re two of Brody’s boys. You remember when I told you about some troublemakers I was worried about? Well, that’s them. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of either Miguel or Andy since the shootin’; they’re stayin’ clear of Lone Butte, that’s for sure.”

Tate frowned. “Now that I come to think of it, so’s everyone else that was causin’ me problems. The only thing is, I still have that funny feelin’ somethin’ ain’t right.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “So now, the question is, what’re we gonna do about this? We don’t have no real proof, only Thaddeus’ statement. It’d be his word against the two of them; so where does that leave us?”

Heyes snatched the mystery gun off Tate’s desk. Removing his own gun from his holster, he put the other weapon into it and looked at the sheriff. “Let’s see what happens when I walk around town wearing this gun.” He grinned at Tate.

“Ya wouldn’t be thinkin’ of doin’ anythin’ stupid now, would ya?”

“Stupid? Sheriff, I never do anything stupid. I leave that for other people, like maybe the owner of this gun.” His grin broadened.

Sheriff Tate watched the dark-haired man as he strode out the door, with a puzzled look on his face.

Heyes passed Harvey Baker. The look on the man’s face caused him to stop. “Hiya, Harvey; something wrong?”

“I’m not sure, Doc. Maybe.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Well, see all them horses tied up over yonder?”

Heyes smiled tolerantly, “Yes, what about them?”

“They belong to Brody and his men. Matter of fact, all six of ‘em belong to that crowd.”

“Brody?” Heyes’ brow furrowed.

“Yep. Miguel’s the man who shot Wyatt, an’ he works for Brody; he’s the foreman out at the Circle Bar B. That buckskin down at the far end belongs to him.”

“Well, it’s certainly not against the law to tie up your horse outside the saloon, is it?”

“Nope, Doc, it isn’t,” Harvey glanced towards the horses, “but it sure is peculiar.”

Heyes shot the man a look. “Peculiar? In what way?”

“Well, they don’t usually tie ‘em up outside. Most of the time they stable ‘em when they’re in town.”

“You’re right; that is peculiar. Looks like they might want to get to them in a hurry.”

“That’s jus’ what I got ‘round to thinkin’ when you walked up, Doc. But ya know what’s even more peculiar? I’ve only seen two of ‘em; not sure where the rest are. Our town ain’t that big, so they must be hidin’. If ya ask me, that sorry bunch is up to no good; yessiree, no good at all.” He caught sight of the gun in Heyes’ holster. “Say, Doc, whatcha doin’ with Roy’s gun?”

“Roy’s gun? Don’t you mean Miguel’s?” Heyes pulled the gun free from the holster.

“Nope,” Harvey shook his head, “I’d know that gun anywhere; that’s Roy’s Colt alright. See that there handle with the two R’s back-to-back inside the circle? Kinda looks like a tied-up ribbon, don’t it? Well, a few months back, Roy had Bart- he’s the blacksmith, burn ‘em into the wood, right after he bought himself that gun. The two R’s are his initials; R.R., for Roy Rollins.”

“And this Roy, you say he’s one of Brody’s men?”

“Yep, sure is. Follows his boss around like a big puppy-dog; does whatever Brody tells him to.”

“This Brody fella, he have any women out at his place?”

“Women? Out at his place?” Harvey shook his head and laughed. “Lordy, no; iffen the men want female company, they make the trip into town. Can’t say as I’ve ever heard tell of a woman desperate enough to wanna go anywhere near that ranch of his.”

Harvey scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Brody does have quite a reputation with the ladies, though. Some of ‘em like his looks, but I think it’s the money he throws around, ‘cos it sure ain’t his manners!” he chortled. “But, if ya wanna see for yourself, Doc, both Brody and Roy are sittin’ over at The Last Chance right now,” he pointed to a building down at the end of the street. He gave a short description of the two men to Heyes.

Heyes pursed his lips, and the dark-haired man strode thoughtfully towards the saloon.

The two men were seated at a table off to the far side of the bar.

Roy moved his chair closer to Brody on seeing Heyes. “Smith’s wearin’ my gun!” he hissed, pulling his hat down to shield his face.

“I noticed,” Brody replied calmly, “now sit back and relax,” he ordered brusquely, “no need to draw attention to ourselves. Let’s wait and see what he does next.”

Despite his boss’s warning, Roy slouched down even further in his chair; sinking as low as he could when Heyes turned, drink in hand, to survey the room.

“You don’t have anything to worry about; he doesn’t know your name or what you look like. He’s looking for Miguel; Smith thinks he’s wearin’ his gun,” Brody snickered.

Still uneasy, Roy reluctantly settled back in his chair. “Boss, I got a real bad feelin’ there’s gonna be more trouble,” he dared to whisper, for once not caring if he invoked Brody’s wrath.

Raising his glass to, Brody smiled mirthlessly. “If anyone gives us trouble, I hope it’s him; remember, a bullet can stop Smith as easy as the next man.”

At the mention of bullets, Roy gulped down his beer in one swallow. “I think I need a whiskey!” he announced, still watching Smith covertly.

“You’re lucky you got a beer!” Brody snapped, “as soon as he leaves, I’m going back upstairs until this job is finished. You’re going to take care of the horses. Make sure they’re tied up tight and ready to go; got it?”

Roy nodded silently. Smith’s eyes lighted on them, causing the anxious man to tuck his head down and stare at the floor. Beside him, Brody never even flinched.

“We can’t have them getting spooked by the fireworks,” Brody continued smoothly as if nothing were wrong, “ and we don’t have much time left before they start the show.” He stopped speaking suddenly. Roy tensed when his boss hissed, “Don’t do anything stupid; Smith’s headin’ this way!”

“You Brody?”

“If you are addressing me, sir, then yes, that’s my name. I don’t believe we’ve met?” Brody smiled and held out his hand, then slowly lowered it when it was pointedly ignored. He lost his smile. “And you are?”

“Smith - Joshua Smith. I’m looking for one of your men; goes by the name of Miguel.”

“Miguel?” Brody paused, “hmm, can’t say as I’ve seen him for a few days. He may have decided to take himself a little ‘holiday’, Mister Smith. Right now, he’s probably down south somewhere,” he shrugged indifferently, “who knows?”

“If either of you see the man, tell him Joshua Smith is looking for him.”

Brody rose languidly to his feet and stared back insolently into the eyes of the man glaring across the table at him. “Will do, Mister Smith.”

Brody was the first to break eye contact; with a nod, Heyes turned and walked away.

His eyes glittering with his anger, Brody turned to Roy. “Go out the back door, check those horses and then high-tail it upstairs,” he growled and left the room.

Roy nodded, then watched Smith uneasily from under the brim of his hat as the dark-haired man left the saloon still wearing his gun. When he had disappeared from sight, Roy couldn’t get out of the room fast enough.

Heyes stepped outside and noticed the lengthening shadows as the sun began to set. He glanced upwards and noticed Dolly’s room was dark.

“Whatcha lookin’ up that-a-way for, Doc?” Harvey’s puzzled voice inquired from behind him.

“I was wondering if Widow Hayes was going to the fireworks show tonight?”

“Why you lookin’ up thar? Mizz Hayes lives over thar,” he pointed in the opposite direction, “where it’s quieter.”

“Does she now?” Heyes arched a brow and turned to look at the man.

Harvey grinned, “Those rooms up there may be over the bank, but the hotel’s surrounded by them three saloons; the noise can be pretty bothersome some nights.”

“Oh, well I guess I was mistaken, then; I thought I saw her up there once.”

“Maybe she was visitin’ a friend?” Harvey gave an indifferent shrug of his shoulders.

Heyes stared at the gun he held in his hand. “Maybe. Say, could you do me a favor? If you see Sheriff Tate around, would you tell him I’m thinking about making a late deposit.” Heyes turned and left.

“But Doc,” a confused Harvey protested, “the bank’s closed!” He clamped his mouth shut as he realized he was talking to himself.

Heyes hurried back to Doc Mason’s office, opened the door and found Dolly hovering over the Kid, a pillow between her hands.

“Joshua!” the startled woman cried out as she pivoted around, “I do declare, ya nearly skairt me outta my skin!” Dolly placed a hand over her heaving bosom. “Why, I nearly jumped onto poor Thaddeus! As you can see, I was jus’ tryin’ to make him a bit more comfortable.”

She turned around and made a great show of raising the invalid’s head, solicitously tucking the pillow underneath. “I was hopin’ he’d be awake so we could talk,” her voice was practically a purr.

“Uh, huh.” Eyes narrowed, Heyes closed the door and stepped forward to stand between her and the Kid. “I’m sure Thaddeus will be real sorry he missed you, Dolly. Maybe he’ll be awake when you come back tomorrow afternoon.”

“Oh, well, if you say so. If he does wake, you will tell him I came visiting, won’t you? she requested in her sweetest voice.

“I don’t suppose he’ll be awake before tomorrow, Dolly,” Heyes replied smoothly, “Doc Mason gave him something earlier to help with the pain, and it looks like he’s out for the night.” Heyes shook his head, “Poor fella, still doesn’t remember anything; it’s really kind of pitiful,” he heaved a dramatic sigh.

“I’ll jus’ say good-bye to you than, Joshua,” Dolly drawled, advancing towards Heyes.

She stopped in front of the dark-haired man and looked up into his brown eyes. Standing on tiptoe, she placed a hand behind his head and pulled the unresisting man closer for a kiss.

Heyes looked towards the bed seeing movement. The Kid’s eyes were closed and he was still. Dolly had claimed his mouth for another kiss. He pulled away as though reluctant for it to end. “As much as I’d like for this to continue, this isn’t the time or the place, Dolly.” He led her to the door.

Heyes shut the door behind her, and leaned against it. “She’s gone; how long you been awake?”

“I was asleep until you closed the door and started talking,” he grinned.

Heyes crossed to sit on the end of the bed, facing his partner, “I think our lady friend might be a black widow in disguise.”

“A spider? What are you talkin’ about?”

“You’re still groggy from that medicine, aren’t you? I think she may be a part of what’s going on around here and I think she’s dangerous. I caught her holding a pillow just over your face, partner.”

“Dolly?” asked the Kid, shocked. Heyes nodded, and Curry caught sight of the gun in his partner’s holster. “Hey, wait a minute; why’re ya wearin’ that gun?”

“Oh, just an experiment I was testing out,” Heyes grinned.

“You’re beginnin’ to worry me, Heyes.” Curry frowned, “Spiders and a gun experiment?”

Heyes gave the Kid a pat on his shoulder. He left the Kid his gun.“I’m alright, Kid, you’re the one lying here.” He got up and went to the door. “Oh, by the way, Kid; female black widow spiders eat the males when they’re finished with them.”

____

Upstairs in room #7, the men had successfully pried up the floorboards and sawed their way through the thick wooden beams. They leaned back to survey their work when Wolf, the lookout at the door, stepped back to admit Dolly. A few minutes later, Brody joined them; Roy soon followed. Wolf gave the all-clear signal, and Brody addressed the group.

“The good news is we’re almost finished and soon that money will be ours! The fireworks are about to start, so everybody should be busy watching that. Dolly, you take the window; the rest of us will be working on that plaster. Any noise we make should be covered by the fireworks, so don’t be afraid to put your back into it, men. Now, let’s get back to work!” Soon the sounds of hammering against concrete filled the room. The men began sweating in earnest from their exertions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Across the street, Heyes stepped out of the shadows and looked at the nearly deserted town, then up at the brightly lit room above the bank. Everyone seemed to be at the fireworks show; except the occupants of room #7.

He crossed the street and entered the deserted lobby of the hotel, nodding at the night clerk as he passed him on the boardwalk. The man acknowledged the nod and returned his attention to the colorful display starting in the nighttime sky. Heyes walked up the stairs and went to room #3. He unlocked the door, stepped quickly inside and stood still, listening to the sounds coming from down the hall.

Ed, now at the door, waved for silence. “Somebody just went into one of the rooms,” he whispered, looking at Brody. The leader held a finger to his lips and motioned for everyone to be quiet.

Ed opened the door a crack and peered out. “Someone’s comin’; looks like that Smith fella!” He eased the door shut and pulled the gun from his holster. Brody motioned Dolly away from the window and signaled for her to go to the door; he followed close behind.

A knock sounded on the door. “Who is it?” Dolly called out.

“It’s your neighbor, Joshua Smith.”

“Why Mister Smith, whatever are ya doin’ up here. Shouldn’t ya be over watchin’ the fireworks?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing.” There was a pause. “Are you alone, Dolly?”

As Brody pulled his gun, Dolly quickly placed a hand on it and shook her head. “Why, yes I am. Why do you ask, Mister Smith?”

“Well, if we’re both alone and we both should be at the show, maybe we could solve the problem and go together.”

“Why, I think that’s a splendid idea, Joshua. Jus’ give me a minute to get my shawl and a blanket, alright?”

“I’ll be waiting right here.”

Brody pulled Dolly to the other side of the room. “He heard us,” he whispered.

“How could he have heard us? Ed signaled us to stop. And even if he heard something, what would it mean to him?” Dolly whispered back.

“If he gives it two seconds thought, he’ll figure out what it is. I better take care of him now.”

“You take care of him now, and you’ll be wanted for murder. The clerk is below in the street; he may not hear us now, but he’ll hear a gunshot. Roy honey, it’s not worth the risk. You leave him to me. I’ll keep him away from here.”

Brody stared at her a moment, then holstered his gun and followed her back to the door.

Dolly opened the door far enough to allow her to exit and locked it behind her. She smiled as she put the key in her purse and took the arm of her handsome escort. After a few moments, the door cautiously opened a crack and the work resumed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heyes and Dolly found a place to spread the blanket far enough away from the bandstand to enjoy the music but still hear each other. After a while, Heyes turned to the woman beside him.

“I don’t know about you, but I sure could use something to drink. Shall I see what I can find for us?”

“I believe they have lemonade back at the hall, Joshua. And yes, I’d love a glass,” Dolly waved her fan back and forth in front of her, “my throat does feel a bit parched!”

“Alright, then. I’ll be back before you have time to miss me,” he promised with a wink.

He stood as a spectacular display went off in the sky above, and Dolly’s attention was drawn to it; she barely noticed when her escort left.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In room #7, the men were beginning to get excited. Using the corkscrew drill, they had almost completed the job, and were about to lift the final piece of concrete out. Then the real work could begin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heyes walked to a tree, stopped, and reached into the bag he’d hidden beneath his vest. He fished out a key, and smiled. Dropping the bag, he headed towards the hotel.

“Hey, Doc!” Harvey greeted him warmly as he passed, “enjoyin’ the show?”

“Sure am, Harvey. Say, have you seen Brody or any of his men around since we last spoke?”

“Can’t say that I have, but their horses are still tied up outside the hotel; all six of ‘em.”

“Thanks, Harvey. You folks have a good evening.”

“You too, Doc. Say, did the sheriff ever catch up with ya? I gave him your message just a bit ago and he tore outta the office like a tornado! I never seen the man move that fast in the whole time I knowed him!”

“I’ll keep my eyes open for him, Harvey. Listen, if you run into Tate, tell him I could use some help up in room #7, okay?”

“If ya say so, Doc; maybe we’ll see ya later. There’s an ice cream social after the fireworks, ya know,” Harvey called out after Heyes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brody, Miguel, Wolf and Ed’s raised the heavy concrete slab out of the hole in the floor. All four men were breathing hard by the time they pulled their crowbars loose and stood staring down at the gaping hole. The thick layer of plaster was all that remained of the bank’s ceiling, and all that stood between them and $100,000.

“Andy, you get those ropes ready while we finish over here,” Brody ordered as he wiped the sweat out of his eyes. “Wolf, you take the door.”

The men took turns knocking the plaster out with hammers. Brody secured the rope ladder they would use to lower themselves down into the bank.

“I’ll go first, then Roy, Ed, Wolf and Miguel, you last. Andy, you stay up here; your job is takin’ care of the dynamite. This is it boys,” Brody rubbed his hands together gleefully, “this is what we’ve been waitin’ for; let’s get this show on the road!”

Andy was engrossed watching the others go down the ladder; he never heard the key turn in the lock or the door open behind him.

“Send down the dynamite,” Brody called out.

Andy picked up the stack, wrapped the rope around it and started lowering it. It had only gone a few feet when he heard a noise behind him and turned, reaching for his gun. He stopped when he found himself looking into the business end of a Colt .45. His eyes traveled further upward to see Heyes standing with a finger to his lips.

The dark-haired man motioned for the dynamite to come back up. Andy hesitated, and then complied. As the explosives neared the top, Andy suddenly lunged towards Heyes. The handle of Heyes’ gun caught him on the side of the head and knocked him out cold.

“What’s wrong?” Brody hissed impatiently.

“Nothing,” Heyes whispered back.

“Where’s that dynamite?”

Heyes stuffed the fuse between the sticks, lit it and started lowering it down the hole.

“It’s right here,” he whispered.

“What are you doing, you idiot!? There’s enough explosives here to blow us clear to Timbuktu!”

“That’s right, Brody,” Heyes leaned forward to peer down into the hole. “Throw your guns over in that corner where I can see them. Then, if you all lay down on the floor, maybe I might pull the fuse.”

The men looked to their boss. “Do what he says,” Brody ordered, his expression thunderous. He threw his gun into the corner Heyes had indicated. “Now!” Reluctantly, the others followed suit.

When all five outlaws were face down on the floor, Heyes pulled the dynamite back up and extinguished the fuse. “As long as you stay nice and quiet, nobody will get hurt.”

He climbed down the ladder into the darkened bank, keeping his gun trained on the men below. When his feet hit bottom, he began to untangle himself from the rope.

Ed lurched forward.

“Stop right there!” Heyes fired a warning shot.

Ed ignored the warning and kept on going. He dove towards his gun.

Heyes fired once more, this time hitting the outlaw in the shoulder. Ed slumped against the wall, a hand to the bleeding wound and groaning in agony.

“Any of the rest of you feel like trying?” No one moved. “I didn’t think so. As long as the rest of you don’t try anything stupid, you won’t end up like your friend. The sheriff will be along in a few minutes, to take you to a nice, comfy jail cell,” Heyes lied in confidence. “Well Brody, looks like your little plan failed.”

Brody glowered back insolently.

“It’s okay; you don’t have to say a word; Sheriff Tate knows all about you and your boys.” His gun on the would-be robbers, Heyes turned slightly to unlock the door. His movement allowed Wolf time to pull a knife from his belt and throw it with deadly accuracy towards the dark-haired man.

“Look out, Doc!” yelled the sheriff’s from the shadows.

A figure from the shadows plowed into his mid-section, and knocked the wind out of him. Heyes found himself flat on his back watching a knife whoosh through the air where he had just been standing a few seconds ago. He gulped as the blade lodged itself into the wood of the bank door a few feet above his head.

“You okay?”

Heyes nodded as the Kid ducked behind a counter and began exchanging gunfire with the outlaws. He rolled over quickly found cover beside a crate and joined in the gunfire. Another man emerged from the shadows to his left and Heyes recognized the familiar face of Sheriff Tate. He nodded in recognition.

Taking advantage of the confusion, the desperate bank robbers had successfully retrieved their weapons, with the exception of Roy, who cowered miserably on the floor in a corner where he had crawled in hopes of avoiding any bullets.

In the melee that followed, it was hard to tell who was shooting at whom. The would-be bank robbers had the slight advantage of taking shelter behind the bank tellers’ station, but quickly realized that the other three men stood between them and freedom. They forgot the money as they fought to make their way towards the door.

Miguel made a last ditch effort and ended up between Heyes and the Sheriff. Both men pointed their guns at him; he dropped his weapon and raised his hands in the air. Tate pulled Miguel towards him and shoved him to the ground. Kneeling next to the man, he pulled a leather strip out of his pocket and began tying the struggling outlaw’s hands behind him.

“Go ahead, Miguel, give me a reason to put a hole in ya; after what ya did to Wyatt, nobody’d blame me!”

The robber put his head down and quit resisting.

Wolf helped Ed to his feet. They decided to make a break together while Tate tied up Miguel. Firing their guns and running towards the door, they had almost reached their goal when Heyes stuck his foot out neatly tripping the first man, and tackled the second one. He sent Ed sprawling towards Curry, who stepped forward and pointed his gun at the man.

“Stay right there and don’t even blink; my trigger finger’s not very steady right now and I might accidentally shoot ya.” He turned his attention to his partner and smiled as the man looked up. Heyes had already subdued Wolf and was waiting for a piece of rope to tie up his prisoner’s hands.

Curry transferred his gaze over to the sheriff and saw the stranger that had first called him out the day he was shot. Almost hidden from view, the man was pointing his gun straight at Heyes, who had his back to him.

“Heyes – watch out!” Curry dove for his partner, once again knocking him backwards to the ground. He raised his arm and fired a shot towards the stranger, rolled off Heyes, then sent a bullet flying towards Wolf, who was trying to make it to the door.

“I thought I told ya not to move!” he shouted and fired another shot above the Indian’s head.

Wolf threw himself to the ground. “Okay, okay, I’ll stay put; don’t shoot me!”


Tate had gone over to check on Brody. Kneeling beside the gang leader, he looked up as Heyes picked himself up and dusted himself off.

“He’ll live,” his voice held a hint of disappointment; “it’s only a flesh wound.” The lawman glanced over at Roy. “I don’t s’pose I have to tell ya not to move, do I?”

Roy shook his head and shrank even further into ‘his’ corner of the room.

Tate rose and stared down at Brody. “He’s not goin’ anywhere. Well, thanks to you two, these fellas are gonna be spendin’ a whole lotta time behind bars, ain’t that right, Thaddeus?” The sheriff looked around. “Thaddeus?”

“Over here,” came a weary voice.

Heyes left the lawman with Brody and walked towards the voice. He found the owner stretched out, face down on the floor, behind some boxes.

Heyes crouched down beside his partner and touched his arm. “You okay?”

Curry rolled over to his back and looked up. “Don’t ask,” he groaned. “You?”

“Me? Oh, I’ve never felt better. It’s not everyday a man gets knocked out flat on his back by his partner- twice. I thought you were in bed – asleep.”

“I was - for a while. I thought you were watching the fireworks.”

“I was - for a while. Then everything all fell into place. So, how’d you and the Sheriff figure it out?”

“It’s a long story; some other time.”

Heyes reached down and helped his partner to his feet. Curry leaned against a pole for support.

“Go ahead; we’ve got the time. It’s going to be a while before Tate and the deputy get things settled here.”

“We thought it’d be a good idea to wait inside the bank and catch ‘em in the act.”

“We?” Heyes arched a brow.

“Tate ‘n me. He came lookin’ for you. He was happy to have some help.”

“Well, you’ve helped. Maybe you ought to just sit for a while now. I’ll find Tate.” Curry nodded tiredly.

Heyes found Tate finishing up outside with his deputy who led a wounded but still furious Brody and a very subdued Roy, both in handcuffs, away.

“That’s the last of ‘em. There was seven in all, countin’ Dolly and Andy, the one you knocked out upstairs.” The Sheriff shook his head. “It’s too bad about Dolly, but woman or not, she’s as guilty as the rest of ‘em.”

Heyes nodded, “Well, Sheriff, if you don’t need us anymore, I’m going to get my partner back over to the doc’s so he can get those stitches taken care of.”

Tate reached out to shake Heyes’ hand. “I’ll never be able to thank you two enough, Joshua. I never could’ve done this without your help, yours and Thaddeus’.” The sheriff stared into Heyes’ eyes as he emphasized the names.

Heyes tipped his hat and turned away. He could still feel the lawman’s eyes following him as he walked back to his partner. He helped Curry across the street and into bed without any problems.

“Never did get to see the fireworks,” Curry mumbled before he closed his eyes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few days later, Doc Mason pronounced Curry fit to travel, by either stagecoach or train. After consulting the timetables for each in the direction of Yuma, Heyes determined the train to be their best bet.

Sheriff Tate accompanied the two to the station. Heyes went to purchase the tickets and Curry eased himself down on a bench. Tate propped a foot up on the bench next to Jones and cleared his throat.

“I guess this didn’t turn out to be much of a holiday for you two, did it?”

Curry shook his head, “Sure didn’t, sheriff,” he looked down at the sling that supported his left arm, “guess I’ll always have a little reminder to help me remember the time I spent here in Lone Butte.”

“I want ya to know, you two sure did our small town a really big favor by stoppin’ Brody and his gang from robbin’ our bank. You’ll never know how much we appreciate it.”

“We jus’ happened to be in the right place at the right time, Sheriff,” Curry shrugged, uncomfortable with the lawman’s words of praise.

“Well now, that might work for the real Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, but you two took an awful big risk, ‘specially when you take into consideration who you really are,” he said as Heyes walked over.

Curry stared straight ahead.

“And just who are we -- really?” asked Heyes with a bemused smile.

The lawman took a cautious look around, and then whispered, “Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”
 

Holiday in a Small Town by moonshadow

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Stories: Alias Smith and Jones  :: Virtual Season :: Virtual Season 2008/2009-
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