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 The Hole in the Vault Gang by Shenango

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royannahuggins
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Join date : 2013-10-13

20131028
PostThe Hole in the Vault Gang by Shenango


Starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy



Jack Albertson as Judge Hanley


Angus Duncan as Chester Brubaker


Christian Clemenson as JJ


Dirk Benedict as Sullivan


Roy Huggins as Mr. Huggins


Chris Potter as Sheriff Dave King


Owen Wilson as Fred


Adrian Grenier as George

Kid Curry walked into the hotel in time to see his partner get the key from the desk clerk. Hannibal Heyes looked at him and the piece of paper in his hand and asked, "What you got there, Thaddeus?"

"There was a telegram waitin’ for us, Joshua." His eyes glanced toward the stairs and he was sure he was the only one in the lobby who saw the slight nod of acknowledgement.

The two went to the room and were inside with the door locked behind them before either of them spoke again.

"What is it, Kid?" Heyes asked, pointing to the telegram.

The Kid handed it over to him. As he opened it up and read it, Heyes turned a puzzled glance on his partner. "Lom sent this?" Curry nodded. "Lom wants us to contact Chester Brubaker? That lawyer in Junction City?"

"That's what it says, Heyes."

The puzzled expression on Heyes' face was echoed in Curry's, and he started to ask, "Why would…"

"I don't know, Heyes. Maybe we better check with Lom to see if this is on the level."

Heyes nodded at him, "That’s a good idea, Kid. Let's get settled and we can send a message to Lom."

"And then we go eat, right?"

"Sure, Kid, then we go eat."


~~~~~~ #### ~~~~~~


After they paid for the meal, Heyes and Curry got up to go to the saloon. Walking out of the restaurant, they were almost bowled over by a man with an envelope. "Oh, Mr. Smith, you got an answer to your telegram. I was just going to take it to the hotel for you.”

Heyes accepted the paper and thanked the man who then hurried off in the direction from which he came. Turning to his partner, he opened the paper and read it to him. "It's from Lom.

"TO SMITH AND JONES
PREVIOUS MESSAGE CONFIRMED. STOP. CONTACT BRUBAKER. STOP. MEET JUDGE HANLEY IN DRY ROCK, ARIZONA, NOW. STOP.
LOM TREVORS
SHERIFF, PORTERVILLE, WYO."

"Well, I think that means we only have one night here to play some poker. Let's make the most of it, Kid."

"What's goin’ on, Heyes?" the Kid asked. "Judge Hanley told us to leave town and not come back."

Heyes was thoughtful as they walked toward the saloon. "Maybe the judge needs us to do a job for him, like the ones the Governor asks help with." The Kid shrugged. "Either way, let's go play some poker and try to build up our stake so we can get on our way tomorrow. We got at least a two day ride to get there."

~~~~~~ #### ~~~~~~

The next morning after breakfast, Heyes took care of the hotel bill and went to the general store for provisions while the Kid got the horses saddled and ready to go. In hardly any time, they were on their way. Two days later, they were riding into the town of Dry Rock, checking out the town the way they had countless other towns before them. After stabling their horses, they walked to the hotel to register at the desk.

The desk clerk welcomed them and after they signed, he turned the register book toward himself. "Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Heyes answered him.

"Well, gentlemen, welcome. There's a Mr. Brubaker checked in who's been expecting you. He asked me to let him know when you arrived."

"Hear that, Joshua, Mr. Brubaker is here."

Heyes nodded. "Please let Mr. Brubaker know that we'll meet him in the dining room for supper at," he looked at the Kid, "Six o'clock." Then he said, "We'd like a couple of baths sent up as soon as possible." They turned and went up the stairs to the room.

At six o'clock Heyes and Curry went to the restaurant. Walking through the door, Heyes noticed Brubaker sitting alone near the windows, away from the door. Walking over, he greeted him, "Mr. Brubaker, we see you got our message."

Brubaker looked up. "Gentlemen, it's nice to see you again. Please, join me; we have some things to discuss."

As soon as they sat, the waitress approached them. "Coffee, gentlemen?" At their nods, she poured two more cups and set the pot down. "Our special tonight is beef stew and biscuits and we have fresh cherry pie for dessert."

"Sounds real good, ma'am," Curry said, looking at Heyes. "We'll have that."

“I’ll take the same,” said Brubaker and the waitress left.

"Been a long time, Mr. Brubaker," Heyes said. "We were kinda surprised you contacted us."

"Yes, well, Mr. Heyes," he started and was immediately shushed by them both.

"He's Thaddeus Jones and I'm Joshua Smith, Mr. Brubaker. You should know better than that in public, considering where we met."

"Yes," he apologized, "I'm sorry, boys, I forgot where we were."

"The telegram we got from Lom Trevors said you wanted us to get in touch because Judge Hanley wanted to see us. He's not going to revoke our bail, is he?" Heyes asked.

Brubaker chuckled. "No, Mr. Smith, he's not. Judge Hanley has a proposition for you and would like your help. He's assured me that if you decide not to help him, well, you're certainly free to do that, and he'll let you walk away."

Heyes and the Kid exchanged looks. "What happens if we do decide to help?" the Kid asked.

"Judge Hanley would like to hire you for a job."

"Judge Hanley wants to hire us?" Curry asked.

"What kind of job?" Heyes asked.

"He's in town for a trial here, some land matters in the circuit. He'd like you to meet with him."

"Mr. Brubaker," Heyes said, "That's not much to make a decision on; can you fill in some of the details for us?"

"The judge wants to meet with you two after supper. He's staying at a small house on the edge of town with some friends of his and will explain everything to you himself. He's expecting us all at eight o'clock tonight."

“Anyone gonna be there besides the judge?” asked the Kid.

“Only myself and Judge Hanley.”

The Kid and Heyes glanced sideways at each other.

“Can you tell us anything else about this, Brubaker?” asked Heyes.

“Sorry, gentlemen, that is all the judge authorized me to say.”

The two men exchanged another glance.

“On the chance we may need a lawyer, we can count on you to act as our attorney?” asked Heyes.

Brubaker laughed softly. “Gentlemen, you won’t need a lawyer. But, I assure you, if you were to need one, I will do so.”

“Makes me feel better,” mumbled the Kid as he started to eat.

~~~~####~~~~

Brubaker walked them to the outskirts of town, to a moderate-sized house. They were greeted at the door by a man in a suit, who invited them in, showed them to the den and offered cigars and brandy to them. The butler then left the room and Judge Hanley entered.

"Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry!" he greeted them jovially. "I'm so glad you decided to help out."

"Judge," Curry acknowledged.

"Your Honor," Heyes said, offering his hand. "So far, we haven't agreed to help with anything because we don't know what we'd be offering help for."

"Of course, of course. Please, be seated."

They sat near the door by Brubaker, looking relaxed, but close to the edges of their seats while Brubaker sat closer to the fireplace. Hanley looked at the two former outlaws, and smiled.

“Gentlemen, I thought you knew me better than that. You are perfectly safe here.” They responded by sitting back in their chairs, but kept their eyes moving from Hanley to the door.

"Gentlemen, I have a job for you. If you're able to do it, I'll pay you $300 each, plus all your expenses. Whether you're successful or not, you walk away at the end of the job, your identities known only to us in this room."

The pair relaxed slightly as Heyes commented, "Your word is good with us, Judge. After all, we know that Your Honor is a man of honor."

"Well," the Kid asked, "What kind of job did you have in mind, Judge?"

"An old friend of mine is the owner of a bank near here, in Harristown. We would like you to help us find a gambler. This particular gambler is also an expert safecracker."

At that, Heyes stiffened and looked at Curry.

"Boys," said Hanley not missing the looks between them, "I know it's not you and I know you don't have anything to do with it. I thought it would be a good idea to hire you to help out, because, Mr. Heyes, your ability to play poker is only slightly less well-known than your ability to crack a safe. We need your help to catch this particular crook."

Brubaker and the judge waited silently for the two men to respond. Finally, both turned their attention back to the judge and Brubaker.

"We need to know a few things before we can agree, Judge," Heyes started. "For starters, who's the sheriff now in Harristown?"

"Dave King is the sheriff there. Why do you ask?"

"We don't know him," Curry said to Heyes, "Do we?"

Heyes shook his head. "No, we don't. Are you going to tell him we're working for you?"

"I can," the judge answered. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, Your Honor, in case someone recognizes us, we need to have a cover story backing up that we're Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones, not Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. If we get arrested, we can't help you." Hanley nodded his assent. "Next, aside from the money, we'd like you to put in a good word for us with Governor Warren if you can."

Hanley paused before answering, "Boys, if you take care of this for me, I'll be happy to send a letter to the Governor to tell him about how helpful you've been."

Brubaker finally spoke. "Judge, how about if you send them off with a letter identifying them as Smith and Jones and saying that they're working for you? That way if anybody says they recognize them, we can help them out."

Hanley agreed. "Okay, Brubaker, you draft the letter for me and I'll sign it before Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry leave town. If there is any trouble at all," he addressed them, "You are to contact Mr. Brubaker here as your attorney. As long as you haven't done anything illegal to solve this, I'll do what I can to help you out of any scrapes you may find yourselves in.”
That settled, Heyes and Curry spent the next few hours discussing details of the job and finding out who they needed to meet. "The banker in Harristown is a friend of mine, Mr. Huggins. He owns the bank. Sheriff King will be notified that you're working for me and will meet with you to tell you all he knows."

Curry looked a bit nervous at that, and asked, "Brubaker, are you going to be available if we need you?"

"Mr. Brubaker will be going to Harristown with you, gentlemen. He'll stay briefly to make sure you get the proper introductions before he comes back to Junction City. I'll have him advise Sheriff King to notify me directly when the safecracker has been apprehended."

Heyes leaned forward in his chair and raised his brandy glass. "You have a deal, Judge."

They went back to town after the meeting, stopping in the saloon. The action at the poker tables was pretty scarce for the night and there were no open seats at any of the games so after a couple of drinks, they went back to their room.

As had happened every time they planned a job, Heyes paced the room in silent thought while the Kid sat cleaning first his gun and then Heyes'.

"What do you think, Heyes?"

"Well," Heyes said, "We're going to need to see the layout of the bank. And we're going to need to check out the poker games."

The Kid smiled at him. "We already check out the poker players in every town we go to."

"Yes, but we stopped checking out the banks when we started for the amnesty." At his partner's stare, he continued, "But it's not like we're completely out of practice on that."

They both chuckled.

"Let's just get to Harristown and we'll take some time to figure the rest out after we meet everyone," Heyes said. "It'll be easier once we get the lay of things."

The next morning, three riders set out on horseback for Harristown.


~~~~~~ #### ~~~~~~


Arriving in town, Heyes and the Kid took care of the horses while Brubaker got them rooms at the hotel. Brubaker had taken their things with him and had them put in their room while they went to the saloon for a drink to cut the trail dust. A man smiled at them as they crossed the saloon. They sat down at a table in the corner where they could talk and not be overheard.

The Kid leaned in and said, "Heyes, isn't that JJ Thomas in the corner?"

Heyes casually looked over and caught the man's eye. "Sure is, Kid," he said. They picked up their drinks and casually wandered over to the gaming table. "JJ, good to see you. Mind if we join you?"

Thomas looked at them and nodded, afraid to say their names aloud. "Pull up a chair, fellas. Nice to see you, too. You boys in town on a job? I'm dealing blackjack here in town, maybe you can come for a game later on."

Before any more could be said, the Kid looked at him. "JJ, I'm Thaddeus Jones and Heyes here is Joshua Smith. We appreciate you not callin' out to us."

Heyes spoke up. "We are on a job, JJ, but not like you think. Me and the Kid have retired from the business and we're trying to go straight."

Thomas' eyes widened. "Retired? Well, that's news. So what's the job that brings you to Harristown?"

At that precise minute, Brubaker came into the saloon and walked up to the table. "Gentlemen, I believe we have a meeting to attend."

Heyes and Curry finished their drinks and stood. "JJ, we'll catch up with you later and talk about it then." JJ saluted them with his drink and they walked out.

"A friend from the old days?" questioned Brubaker.

Curry nodded. "Yeah, but not like you think. He wasn't any good at robbin’, so we convinced him to give it up. Now, he's dealin’ blackjack."

Heyes laughed. "He knows who we are," Heyes continued, "But he won't be a problem for us."

While Heyes and Curry were looking over the town, Brubaker arranged for the meeting with Sheriff King.

He gave them the lowdown on the sheriff of Harristown as they walked over to his office. "You boys asked about the sheriff. Well, Dave King used to work for his father, Sheriff Peter King, until he got killed after a robbery. He's got a strong respect for the law and considers it an honor the town lets him work the same job his pa did."

Heyes cautiously remarked, "Sounds like it's a good thing the judge gave us that letter of introduction then. It will make things easier for us to look into things that way."

"King is a good man," Brubaker told them. "He's about your age, but he's been on the job most of his life." He looked them over and smiled, "Kinda like you two."

When they arrived at their destination, Brubaker reached between the boys to open the door. Heyes and the Kid leaned away, as though heat was coming out from inside. Looking at them hesitating, Brubaker paused, "It's alright, gentlemen. I've got the letter from the judge right here," he said, patting his suit pocket.

He followed them in and they looked around the office. Standing behind the desk was the sheriff and seated next to him was an older, somewhat fidgety man. Finding their wanted posters on the wall, they moved so that King had them at his back. "Ah, Mr. Brubaker," King said. "Good to see you again. How's Judge Hanley?"

Brubaker offered his hand. "He sends his regards and personally recommends these two gentlemen to help you with your current problem. This is Mr. Smith," he nodded to Heyes and then to Curry, "And Mr. Jones."

Sheriff King welcomed them to Harristown. "We have a safecracker on the loose in this part of the territory," he began. "We don't have a description of the man; he travels around a lot and the only thing we know is that every town he seems to be in, there's a gambler there too, who leaves after the bank is robbed."

"How many times has this happened, Sheriff?" Heyes questioned.

King turned to the man next to him, "This is Mr. Roy Huggins, President of the Harristown Bank. As far as we know, it's happened at least four times in different cities in the territory."

"Gentlemen," Huggins said, "I'm concerned that my bank may be next. We have a vault rather than a safe, but we're a territorial center for some of the local miners for their payroll and I'm concerned that my bank will get hit next. So far, the other banks in the territory that handled the mine payrolls have all been robbed."

"And you don't have a description of this man?" Heyes asked.

"No," Huggins answered. "Even the Bannermen agents are looking for him."

"Bannerman men?" Heyes questioned blandly.

Huggins shook his head. "They haven't gotten anywhere."

Curry mumbled to Heyes, "They wouldn't if they're all like Harry Briscoe." Heyes grinned.

Sheriff King spoke. "What we'd like you to do is get to know some of the gamblers in town, see if they've noticed anyone new around, someone who's been winning big enough to get noticed. Let me know what you find out and we'll take it from there."

Agreeing, Heyes, Curry and Brubaker left.

~~~~####~~~~

Heyes and the Kid went back to the saloon to see JJ. He joined them at the bar and they shared a round of drinks. "So, what, you're a dealer now, JJ? One run of someone having good luck and you get put out of business."

JJ leaned in to talk to them. "I can't get wiped out because I have an unlimited stake backing me."

"You have what?" Curry asked him. "You managed to get a financial backer with unlimited funds? Who do you know that's rich enough to do that?"

Before JJ could answer, Heyes said, "Then maybe you can help us, JJ. We're looking for a gambler here in town. Don't know who he is, but he's supposed to be good. We also heard he's a safecracker."

JJ put down the drink he was holding, coughed a little bit, then keeled over. Seeing JJ hit the floor, the bartender walked over. "What happened here? Is JJ okay?"

"We don't know; he just sorta passed out. Has he been sick lately?" Curry asked.

The bartender shook his head. "No, he hasn't been that I know of. He hasn't been in here a lot lately." Looking at the two, he suggested, "You two seem to know him. Do you think you can get him back to his rooms? He usually keeps his key in his vest pocket."

"Sure thing," Heyes answered. They picked him up and, getting directions from the bartender, they carried him down a couple doors and around a corner to a building behind the bank. Letting themselves in, they settled JJ in his bed. Looking around, they noticed he had a private blackjack table in the living room.

A few minutes after they'd put him in his bed, JJ woke up. "What happened?"

"JJ, you passed out. You need us to get a doctor for you?" Heyes asked.

"No, I don't need one."

"You passed out when we mentioned we were looking for a gambler."

JJ started to pass out again, but they grabbed him and kept him alert. "JJ," Heyes asked, "What's going on? When we told you we were looking for a gambler, you keeled over."

"That's a bit of a story, fellas. Pour me a drink, will you? And pour yourselves one, while you're at it."

Sitting down with them, JJ started his tale. "After working for a while at a store, I did some barbering. Then I got a mason's job here in Harristown. They were building the bank and I was hired to do the brick walls for the bank vault. When they built this bank, the plans called for the vault to be extra strong, six layers of brick thick in the walls. I worked building that vault and had an idea."

“An idea?" the Kid asked him.

Nodding his head, JJ invited them to follow him. In his bedroom, he walked up to a built-in bookshelf along one wall. Pulling out a book, he reached inside and pulled what appeared to be a handle and the shelves began to open a hidden door.

Watching closely, Heyes went over to the opening. "Kid! This is the bank vault!" he said, excited. Taking a lamp from the room, he walked inside. "JJ how did you find this?"

Whistling, Curry walked in, followed by JJ. Walking behind the door, they found themselves in a room with no windows, lined with shelves and on the shelves, bags of coins and gold and stacks of currency.

JJ looked sheepish. "I built the vault," he told them. Confusion in their eyes, he explained. "When I built the vault, I was living next door. I knew the wall to the vault was on the other side of my rooms, so I put this secret door in. If I have a bad run of luck when I'm dealing, I just make myself a loan to pay off the gambling debts. I keep records of what I use, and I started feeling guilty, so I opened a savings account at the bank."

"That means that the bank is paying you interest on their own money," Heyes said, amazed.

JJ looked at his two friends. "Please, fellas, I need your help. If you're here to find out what's going on, then I know I gotta stop using the bank's money."

Heyes sighed, looking at the Kid, and then answered him. "JJ, you have to give up dealing blackjack. Find something else to do. Then you're going to have to brick up this wall the way it's supposed to be so you don't get tempted to use the bank's money again."

As they were talking, a sudden noise caused the Kid to turn. His gun was instantly in his hand, and he looked behind him. On the door was a series of metal rods with a round plate in the center. The rods started to move and Heyes whispered loudly, "The bank is being robbed!"

JJ panicked. "What do we do? We'll all get caught!"

Thinking quickly, Heyes handed the lamp to JJ. "We're going to take the money out of the vault so the bank can't get robbed!"

"Heyes, you're crazy! How do we do that?"

"Kid, you and JJ start moving the money out of here, put it in JJ's room on the other side of the wall. I'll make sure they don't crack that combination and buy us some time."

Quickly and quietly, they started removing the money until the shelves on the walls were all bare. Heyes manipulated the tumblers from inside the vault, a first for him, long enough to buy them time to work. As they finished getting the last of the money out of the vault, they escaped into JJ's rooms and started to close the door behind them.

Not sure where to put it, JJ and the Kid started piling the money on JJ's bed. As the door was closing, they heard the last of the tumblers click loudly and they stood silently, listening to the robbers enter the vault. Looking around, JJ walked over and sat on top of the money. Grinning, the Kid followed him and also sat.

Heyes, watching them, asked, "Kid, what are you doing?"

Chuckling quietly, the Kid answered him. "Heyes, I've never sat on this much money before."

Heyes looked at them. "Move over, make room for me," he said, before joining them.

~~~~###~~~~

The three robbers walked into the bank vault from the front door. Entering with a lamp of their own, they let out exclamations of surprise and a whistle, and finally one said, "This bank is broke! There's no money in here!"

A few minutes passed before the robbers left and the door to the vault could be heard closing.

Heyes, Curry and JJ stayed in the bedroom, quiet for a few extra minutes to make sure the robbers were gone, then JJ opened the secret door again. Working quickly and quietly from years of practice and coordinated effort, JJ handed them the bags and stacks of money and they put everything back into the vault. Putting the last of it on the shelves, they turned and looked around them, then at each other.

"Heyes," Curry said, looking at the money on the shelves.

"Now Kid, you know we're going straight," Heyes answered him. "And…” he paused, swallowing, “I… Kid, we need to put it all back here."

Curry looked at him, then at the money. "Aw, Heyes."

"I know, Kid, I know," he responded. "Let's just get out of here. It's only going to get us in trouble with Judge Hanley and Lom and the Governor."

Sadly, he followed the Kid out of the vault, and re-entering JJ's rooms, closed and latched the secret door and sat down for another drink.

~~~~####~~~~

The next morning, one man in a suit entered the bank and demanded to see the bank's owner. Shown into the office of Mr. Huggins, the man introduced himself as Sullivan, and proceeded to sit. “Mr. Huggins, I came tell you that I know your bank is about to go broke. I suppose your depositors don't have any clue yet. You look like an honest man, which makes for a good cover, sir."

Huggins roared, "What! How dare you, sir! My bank is nowhere near broke."

"Now, Mr. Huggins," Sullivan replied, "I have it on good authority that you don't have any money in your vault at all." Huggins continued to sputter as Sullivan continued, "And for the sum of $50,000, well, I may be persuaded to keep this information quiet from all of your depositors and the town."

"Are you a bank examiner, Mr. Sullivan?" Huggins asked him.

"No, sir," he answered.

Huggins called for his manager and head teller. "Have you opened the vault this morning?" he questioned them.

"No, sir, not yet," the manager replied.

"Well then," Huggins said, "Open it now!" He followed the manager out to the door of the vault. Stepping back, Huggins watched his manager. As the door swung open, Huggins looked in and then turned to Sullivan. "You were saying, sir?"

Looking inside, Sullivan saw shelf after shelf of money. Bags of coins, stacks of currency and bags of gold lined the shelves from top to bottom.

Sullivan's smug expression at knowing the vault was empty became instantly stricken from his face as he saw the full shelves.

Huggins looked at him. "As you can see, Mr. Sullivan, our vault is intact and the depositors’ money is safe." Turning to his security guard and the manager he ordered, "Throw him out of here!”

"But," sputtered Sullivan, "But… I..."

Huggins waved at his two employees who each grabbed an arm and threw Sullivan out of the bank onto the street.

Watching the commotion at the bank from across the street, Heyes and Curry followed Sullivan as he picked himself up and walked away. A few doors down from the bank, he was joined by his two companions from the previous night's work as they went into a nearby saloon. Heyes followed them in while Curry waited outside.

Sullivan and the two others sat at a table drinking, not paying attention to how loud they were. Sullivan's two cohorts, George and Fred, were shifty-looking men in tired suits, drinking as they lamented the loss of the money they'd tried so hard to steal. "Now, boys," Sullivan tried to quiet them, "We're going back in tonight. I've already opened that vault once and it shouldn't take as long to get it open again. Now, I've decided that I'm going to get into a poker game and wait until later tonight to go back in there." The two nodded. "George, you and Fred make yourselves scarce and stay out of trouble. I'll see you later on."

Heyes snickered to himself. Leaving the bar, he nodded to where Curry stood across the street and started toward him.

Curry walked into the restaurant where they’d had breakfast. Seating himself at a table near the window, he ordered a cup of coffee while he waited for Heyes to join him.

The Kid noticed Mr. Huggins coming out of the bank, looking disgruntled. Huggins started toward the sheriff's office, but when he saw Heyes he turned to him instead.

"Mr. Smith," he greeted Heyes loudly, "I need to speak with you and your partner, sir!"

As Heyes turned toward him, he motioned to Curry sitting in the restaurant. "Mr. Huggins, I don't think you want to attract any attention to yourself out here. My partner is having coffee; why don't we join him?" he suggested in a quiet voice.

Huggins kept fuming as they sat down, his face beet red and his hands shaking. Curry waved to the waitress for coffee for his friends. After the coffee was delivered and Huggins sputtered, trying to force down a few sips, he controlled his voice and told them what happened. "That Mr. Sullivan, who just left the bank, he claimed that my vault was empty! My bank, broke!" Heyes and Curry shushed him and he lowered his voice as he went on, "Of all the nerve! Why, there’s over a million dollars in gold and currency in there!”

Over coffee, they reassured him they would look into the matter, then sent him back to the bank with his word that he’d allow them time to follow up on something without involving the sheriff or the Bannermans.

They walked back to the hotel to the privacy of their room, where Heyes paced and the Kid watched him.

“What’d you find out, Heyes?”

“Well, I found out those three are about the most unprofessional crooks I’ve ever seen. Kid,” and here Heyes sounded offended, “I can’t understand how they’ve managed to rob as many banks as they have without getting caught. I don't know what's happened to the business since we retired. I mean, they don't take any pride in their work at all. It's a disgrace!”

“Don’t get proddy over it, Heyes. Not everyone can be as good as we were.”

Heyes sighed. “Kid, things just aren’t up to the same standards anymore.”

While the Kid sat, watching Heyes and trying to control himself from laughing, Heyes continued to pace the room. When he finally stopped and looked out the window, Curry asked him, “You got it figured out yet?”

“Uh huh. We know that Sullivan is planning to get into a card game tonight to kill some time before he tries the bank again. I’m going to get into that game with him. If they split up, you watch his two cohorts; take JJ with you if you need to. He’s going to try and break into the bank again and we need to stop him.”

Heyes and Curry spent the day with JJ discreetly following Sullivan and his two partners. By late in the evening, Sullivan was in the saloon at a table and Heyes was poised to join him when Sullivan suddenly looked at his watch and excused himself. Heyes quickly finished his drink and discreetly followed as Sullivan went outside and met up with George and Fred.

Heyes and Curry followed them as the three made their way back to the bank and broke in.

Quickly, Heyes and Curry went to JJ's house. As he let them in, they told him that they'd need to get the money out of the vault again. Quickly and quietly they worked, hearing Sullivan and his men outside the vault door. With the three of them, they were able to once again empty the vault but it wasn't long before they heard a sound and Heyes noticed the mechanism on the inside of the vault door moving.

"Oh, no!" JJ cried out. "Look!" He pointed to the back of the vault door. They noticed the inside of the lock on the vault door starting to move around.

"Sullivan must be manipulatin’ the tumblers again,” observed the Kid.

“Uh huh. You two keep going, I'm going to slow them down," Heyes told them. Manipulating the lock from the inside, he managed to stop the door from opening.

On the other side, Sullivan was just about to open the door, thinking that he'd used the correct combination. As he pulled on the handle, nothing happened.

"You don't think they changed the combination, do you boss?" one of the men asked.

Sullivan turned to them, "No, I don't think so. Quiet boys, I'm going to try again." He put his ear to the door and started over.

By the time he'd gotten the third number, Heyes had grabbed the lamp they were using and closed the door, hearing it make a "click" just in time to hear the vault door opening on the other side.

Quietly, JJ fretted while Heyes and the Kid shushed him and listened to Sullivan and his men.

“It ain’t here! Again!”

“What the…!”

“Boss, how can the money just up and disappear?”

"You two men go on out of here; make yourselves visible in town. I'm going to wait and see how they bring the money back here in the morning. Someone's got to be taking it out of here every night!"

"Boss, are you sure there's really money in here? Maybe we should just leave town and try somewhere else," George said.

Fred added, "Yeah, boss, if we stay here too long, we could get caught."

"There is money in this vault!" Sullivan boomed at them. "And we're not leaving this town without it. Now go!"

Back in JJ's room, the Kid turned to Heyes. "What're we goin’ to do, Heyes? How do we get the money back in? If we take it in now, they'll hear us."

Heyes paused before answering them. "You and I will go around the front of the bank and see where Sullivan is. Let's see if we can catch him red-handed inside the bank. If we do, we can turn him over to Huggins and the sheriff and we're done here."

"But what about the money?" JJ asked. "How do we get it back inside the vault?"

"Once we get the drop on Sullivan, we can tie him up and keep him in the front of the bank." Heyes looked at JJ. "You stay here with the money and we'll signal you from inside the vault so you can open the door and put it back."

Heyes and Curry walked to the front of the bank and looked around the empty street. With Curry standing behind him, Heyes quickly opened the door to the bank and they started to go inside.

Just as Heyes opened the door, George and Fred came out from the alley on the far side of the bank. The sound of a gun being cocked stopped the two of them in their tracks. Knowing that he couldn't outdraw them, Curry looked at Heyes and gave in.

"What do we have here?" Fred asked.

"Well, looks like someone's trying to rob the bank."

Heyes turned to look at them as they were joined by Sullivan, who opened the door from the inside. "Bring them in here, boys," he told them. "I was watching you from inside and wondering how long it was going to take you to come in. You're pretty good at that, Mr.…."

"Smith," Heyes answered him. "We thought it might be a good idea to stop you from robbing the bank."

"Me robbing the bank?" Sullivan asked. "Gentlemen, I think you have things backwards here. YOU just broke in here. You are obviously the ones robbing this bank!" With George and Fred standing behind them with guns drawn, Heyes and Curry gave up and raised their hands. Fred reached over to take their guns and George covered them.

"What do we do with 'em, boss?" Fred asked.

Sullivan thought briefly and turned to them, smiling. "Lock the two of them in the vault. We'll just wait till morning when the bank opens and report that they broke in to rob the bank, took all the money out and then came back in to make sure they had it all. Being upstanding citizens ourselves, why, we just captured them and held them where they couldn't get away."

Heyes looked at Sullivan. "You can't lock us up in there! We'll run out of air! We could die in there!"

Urging them inside with his Colt, Sullivan sneered, "You should've thought of that before you decided to start your life of crime, boys. Now, get inside!"

Poker-faced, Heyes and Curry walked into the vault and turned back to the door to watch as Sullivan closed it and locked them in. They waited another couple of minutes before Heyes went to the back door of the vault and knocked. Not hearing anything, Heyes called to him, "JJ, it's us. Open up!"

JJ opened the door, surprised to see his friends there. "How did you get in there? What happened to Sullivan and his men?"

"Sullivan is holdin’ us prisoner, JJ," the Kid told him. Confused, JJ looked them over. "It's like this, JJ. Sullivan is going to claim we're bank robbers and he caught us red-handed. While he's on guard at the door of the bank, let's put all this money back."

In a shorter time than it took to remove the money, it was replaced once again. As they had before, they exited the vault into JJ's room and closed the door.

"Now what?" JJ asked them.

"Now," Heyes said, "Kid and I are going to find George and Fred."

"Yeah," the Kid said, "I've got a little payback to give them. I'm not walkin’ around this town nekkid; I want my Colt back."

JJ poured each of them a drink.

"You stay here, JJ. We'll be back as soon as we take care of those two friends of Sullivan's."

Heyes and Curry left JJ's house and walked cautiously to the street to look around at the bank. They found George and Fred coming out of a small saloon across the street. They stepped into the same alley they were caught in earlier and waited. It didn't take long before they were rewarded and were able to grab the two henchmen and get the drop on them. Knocking them unconscious, the Kid wasted no time relieving them of his Colt and Heyes' gun.

With JJ's help, they moved the two unconscious men into the vault. Curry and JJ made sure they were tied securely while Heyes checked to make sure everything was back where it belonged.

Sullivan kept watch outside the vault. He stretched and yawned. His head sagged onto his chest and he shook it. It sagged down again, and he began to snore. Undecipherable yells came from the vault and startled him. He sat up and then laughed at Smith and Jones. Unable to make out what they were saying, he sat, keeping watch and trying to stay awake until morning came.

The morning found Heyes and Curry at the restaurant across from the bank once again. They took a table with a view of the window, in order to keep an eye on Sullivan.

As they had their breakfast, Mr. Huggins entered. Seeing them, he walked to their table. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," he greeted them, "Have you had any progress finding out who's trying to rob my bank?"

"Why, Mr. Huggins," Heyes said, "We think we've got some news for you."

Excited, Huggins asked them, "How soon can we wrap this up? Shall I call the sheriff?"

Finishing his coffee, the Kid looked at Huggins. "We just might be able to tie things up today."

Looking at his watch, Huggins stood. "Gentlemen, it's time for me to open for the day; now if you'll excuse me."

"Mr. Huggins," Heyes said, "We'll be around, sir."

Huggins walked to the bank and met his manager and head of security outside. He allowed the manager to unlock the door and they stepped inside. Seeing Sullivan in a chair outside the vault, Huggins wasted no time in sounding the alarm. "What are you doing here? You're trying to rob my bank again!" Turning to his manager, he shouted an order, "Get Sheriff King in here right now!" And to his security man, he yelled, "You have a gun! Cover him! Hold him for the sheriff! I want him arrested!"

Meanwhile, as they were leaving the restaurant, Heyes and Curry saw JJ coming across the street. "What's going on?" he asked them. "Why, those two in the vault were making an awful racket. It's about time the bank opened."

"We know," Heyes said. They walked a short distance to the hotel where they took seats in chairs on the porch watching the excitement. They lit cigars and offered one to JJ.

In short order, the bank manager passed them as he ran to the sheriff's office and then Sheriff King went rushing back to the bank with him. "Hurry, Sheriff, there was someone in the bank when we unlocked the door. The security guard has him covered."

As Sheriff King entered the bank, he found Mr. Huggins frantic at the sight of Sullivan, who was being held by the security guard. "What's going on here, Mr. Huggins?" he asked.

"This man here was in my bank when I opened this morning! Sheriff, I insist that you take him to jail immediately! Breaking and entering, that's what it was, plain and simple."

King looked at Sullivan. "I think you'd better come up with an explanation, Mr…"

"Sullivan," he answered. "And, Sheriff, I think you'll be happy to know that while there was an attempt on the bank, I've got the two culprits locked up inside the vault!"

"I think you'd better explain all that, Sullivan," King told him.

Sullivan proceeded to spin his tale about seeing two men breaking into the bank and how he followed them in. "I saw them as they finished and came back in to make sure the vault was empty. That's when I followed them in and I locked them up. I claim the reward for catching them," he said as he smugly grabbed his jacket lapels and rocked on his feet.

Huggins looked to the manager and the sheriff. "Open the vault!" he ordered. "Let's see what he's talking about!"

The manager spun the tumblers and pulled the door open. Sullivan’s smug look dropped. Piles of money were neatly arranged on the shelves, gold bars in lines. The coins were exactly as they were the previous workday. George and Fred came out, blinking in the light, and walked over to Sullivan. Before he could say anything, they started talking.

"Boss," George said, "how'd we get in there? I don't remember us going in there at all."

"Hey, boss, the money's back in there. All of it!"

King pulled his sidearm and turned to Sullivan, George and Fred. "Mr. Huggins, I presume you're going to want to press charges against these men?"

Huggins answered him, "Of course!"

"Let's go," King ordered, and took the three to jail.

"I remember when you two used to cause that kind of excitement," JJ said. They all chuckled and nodded. "So do you miss it?"

"It's like this, JJ," Curry said. "We'll be real happy if that amnesty comes through so we don't have to worry about excitement like that happenin’ while we're in some town. It will be nice not to have to worry about dodgin’ the sheriff in every town."

“We sure don’t miss being shot at and chased by posses, JJ.” Heyes added.

Pausing, JJ said, “Good point.”

"Speaking of sheriffs," JJ said just as Sheriff King ran past, "How did you two manage to not get recognized by ours? And how’d you manage to get a banker to hire you, you being who you are and all?”

"We have friends, JJ," Heyes said. At the puzzled look, Heyes continued, "We told you the amnesty is a secret; well, we're doing this job as a favor to a judge we know."

"There's a judge that knows who you are?" he asked, excited.

"We helped him out one other time and it sort of 'came out' who we are. He knows about our deal with the governor, so he asked us to come here. That reminds me, Kid, we need to let Brubaker know that we've got this about wrapped up." Turning to JJ, he said, "That brings us to you, JJ."

"Me? What have I got to do with…" he stopped in mid-sentence as Heyes interrupted him.

"JJ, you're going to need to close up that back door out of the vault. Now, we can find a way to keep you out of this whole thing, but it can't happen again," Heyes told him.

The Kid looked at him. "We don't want you to have to fight the temptation like we do."

"And," Heyes continued, "You never were cut out for being an outlaw." The Kid nodded his agreement.

"I promise, fellas, just as soon as this thing with Sullivan is over, you needn't worry. I'll put in the originally-required number of bricks and close the door forever."

JJ got up and went back to his house as Heyes and Curry went over to the sheriff's office. They arrived just in time to meet Mr. Huggins at the door. As the three walked in, Sullivan, George and Fred were standing behind the bars.

"Boss, it's them!" George said, excitedly.

"How'd they get out?" asked Fred.

Sullivan stood aghast as Heyes and Curry looked straight at him.

Sheriff King greeted them by yelling at the prisoners. "Pipe down back there! I don't want to hear any more from you three!" Turning back, he greeted them. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, we have Sullivan here in custody; is this the gambler who can open a safe?"

"That's him, Sheriff," Curry answered.

"Wait," Sullivan protested. "You two were locked into the vault! I did that myself! And I sat outside it all night long. You couldn't get out. How did you do it? Who are you?"

The Kid and Heyes walked back to where the cells were, out of earshot of the sheriff and Huggins. "Are you sure it was us, Sullivan?" Kid Curry asked him.

Sullivan grabbed the bars with his hands and stared at Heyes and Curry. "There are very few people who could open a safe like I did that vault, by manipulating the tumblers." He stopped and looked from one to the other. Slowly, it began to dawn on him who he might be dealing with. "Sheriff!" he shouted, "Sheriff, I need to talk to you right now! Do you know who these men are?"

Sheriff King came toward the cell. "What are you yelling about now, Sullivan?"

"I just figured out who these two are; they're Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry! There's a big reward on them, King! Arrest them!"

"You're crazy, Sullivan. These men were sent here by Judge Hanley over in Junction City. Now why on earth do you suppose Heyes and Curry would be working for an honest judge like Judge Hanley? Why, he sent them with a lawyer, Mr. Brubaker, to find out who you were. Do you really think Heyes and Curry would be helping to stop a bank robbery, especially in a bank that has as much money as ours does here?"

Sullivan sputtered, trying to answer him, while George and Fred watched behind him.

Smith and Jones exchanged glances with each other before Sheriff King turned toward them. "Sorry you gents had to hear that. Some crooks will claim anything at all to get out of jail." He chuckled, "Heyes and Curry. Why I never heard the likes of that." Walking to the front office again, he said, "By the way, Mr. Brubaker is on his way back here. I got a telegraph from Judge Hanley, he's got some legal papers that needed to be delivered and he wanted me to let you boys know. I guess he's got something for you, too."

"Why, thank you for telling us that, Sheriff," Heyes said. "Do you need us for anything else right now? We were going to go visit our friend JJ."

"Mr. Huggins?" King asked him. "Do you need these gents to stay here?"

Turning to them he extended his hand to shake with them. "Why, no Sheriff, not at all. If you two are available later, I'd like you to join me for drinks. I'm so glad you were able to clear this up. I owe you, fellas."

Heyes and Curry graciously stood shaking hands with Sheriff King and Mr. Huggins before finally being able to get away from them.

"I'm glad Brubaker is on his way back here," Curry said. "That way we can get paid and move on."

"You mean you don't want to stick around in this town for a while, Kid?" At the look he received, Heyes snickered. "You know, this is one of the few towns where we can walk into the sheriff's office like a pair of Texas Rangers."

Curry gave him an icy look that would have frozen a lesser man in his tracks. As they were walking, JJ approached them again. Quietly he said, "Heyes, Kid, I've got bricks on order. I'm going to start on that wall as soon as I can get them delivered. I want to thank you for helping me out with this."

"We're not going to be in town much longer," Heyes told him. "Mr. Brubaker is on his way here to pay us for the job; after that we'll be moving on again."

"Well," JJ said, "If you've got some time, how about playing a little blackjack?"


Fin


Dedicated to Roy Huggins, whose writing was the inspiration for this story.

_________________
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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The Hole in the Vault Gang by Shenango :: Comments

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Re: The Hole in the Vault Gang by Shenango
Post on Sat 01 Mar 2014, 6:21 pm by royannahuggins
his story
Dec 7 2009, 10:41 PM EST
What an ingenious and enjoyable story. Hope yo write more.

GhislaineEmrys
Comments
Dec 5 2009, 5:42 PM EST
I enjoyed the story and it was very clever to have the boys break into a bank! And it's always fun to see Judge Hanley.




1. RE: Comments
Dec 6 2009, 4:49 AM EST
Sorry - I forgot to log in - Allegra - loved the story and the side-entrance to the bank. Very useful when the pursestrings are feeling a bit tight. And I loved the way it dawned on them at the end and from behind bars, just who they were dealing with. Great stuff.



Kwiltn
2. RE: Comments
Dec 6 2009, 12:05 PM EST
Ha! Loved it! I'm glad you found a way for the boys to repay the huge favor that Hanley did for them.


Penski
3. RE: Comments
Dec 7 2009, 5:26 PM EST
Love the title and the recurring characters from other episodes. Cute story about emptying and filling the vault. Especially loved how Heyes and Kid watched the final scene unfold while smoking cigars on the hotel's porch.


4. RE: Comments
Dec 10 2009, 10:06 PM EST
(Max here)
Hey Shenango, it’s got Roy Huggins in it - I like it already. (Cleverclogs).
Ooohh – plot clue, JJ has an unlimited backer. I smell a rat!! (Maybe.) OH! He hit the deck (pun intended) – strike out the maybe. I love them all sitting on the money. Ah, good old villain – he observes the conventions and briefs his henchmen so we can overhear. Bless him. Bless HH too, chuntering over robber standards not being like the good old days. Oh, yes, I like this!! Like the boys keeping up the pretence with a little yelling from ‘inside’ the vault just to keep the villain smirking. Ahhh- I love ‘em watching from the porch too! That was fun!! Would have been nice to see Pete and Ben doing that and the double-takes from the villains.


nm131
5. RE: Comments
Dec 20 2009, 5:45 AM EST
Catching up. The premise was funny in itself, they way you fleshed the story out and the casting made it more so. Add me to the line of readers who would have loved to see the final scene on film. Thanks for an entertaining episode.


LanaCoombe
6. RE: Comments
Dec 31 2009, 12:56 AM EST
Finally got a chance to sit down and read this one. I do love the image of the boys sitting on top of all that money and grinning! A great comic episode. Applause ....


7. RE: Comments
Mar 16 2010, 1:45 PM EDT
As always a wonderful read and great fun getting to see Heyes and Curry catching the crooks. - Cattle Annie
 

The Hole in the Vault Gang by Shenango

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