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Join date : 2013-10-26
Age : 62
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|"Nun the Wiser"|| |
“NUN THE WISER”A “missing scene” from “The Reformation of Harry Briscoe”
**Originally written as a submission for the April 2013 Story Challenge, “These Foolish Things,” (hence the “foolish quote and references”), but was never submitted.
STORYLINE (Written by Peter Harris)
In the second half of what later became the TV movie "The Gun and the Nun" (shown on CBS Late Night in the late 1970s), Harry Briscoe is hot on the trail of Sister Isabel, née Molly, who used to work as a "typewriter" (the name applies to the job, as well as the instrument, during these early years) in a Kansas City bank. That is, until she allegedly embezzled $30,000 from the cash reserve and took off. Since Molly is Irish Catholic, it was a simple matter for her to join another nun, Sister Julia (who was looking to establish a new mission), posing as having been assigned to the group by another convent.
Harry however, isn't fooled by the disguise, and being that he is also greedy, he has plans to swipe the money and head for Mexico. "Sister Isabel" disappears and evades Smith and Jones’ search for her for a while, but Harry eventually catches up to, and robs, her before he takes off for the hills with the loot.
Heyes and Curry, realizing Harry can be a real friend to them if he's caught and given a lesson on going straight to avoid being shipped off to prison, go after him.
Original Episode Release Date: November 11, 1971
Filming Locations: Stage 36, Universal Studios, CA
HANNIBAL HEYES…………………..……PETE DUEL
JED “KID” CURRY…………………………BEN MURPHY
SISTER JULIA………………………………JANE WYATT
SISTER ISABEL………………………….…JANE MERROW
HARRY BRISCOE…………………….….…J.D. CANNON
After coming to the Sisters’ aid, Heyes and Curry elect to escort the nuns to Pearlman so that the Sisters can catch the stage bound for Kettledrum.
At this point in the story, no one knows anything to the contrary about Sister Isabel's dual identity. It is also well before Harry Briscoe puts in an appearance. This is what might have happened that first night.
To set the stage, the following is a RECAP of what happens in the ASJ TV episode right before my missing scene (you may skip forward to the missing scene if you'd like):
"Sister," Heyes called out as he rode his horse near to the front of the wagon, "hold it up right here; I guess this is as good a place as any to set up camp."
Sister Julia tugged on the reins and brought the wagon to a halt. Securing the leather straps, she and Sister Isabel climbed down.
Curry rode up beside them and dismounted.
After a quick stretch, Sister Julia glanced around and sighed. "I take it this is where we're going to spend the night?"
"Yep," Heyes answered as he slid down off his horse.
Sister Julia took a moment to study the two men. "By any chance are you gentlemen Catholics?"
"No uh, Kansans, ma'am," Curry answered. He turned away to retrieve his saddlebag and almost collided with his partner who, in turn, favored him with a tolerant look. Although his blue eyes narrowed with puzzlement at the expression, Kid continued on his way.
"Kansans?" the nun inquired, turning to Heyes with a quizzical look.
Curry returned to join the group.
Heyes directed a “let me handle this” look at his friend before he turned to face the nuns with a somewhat embarrassed laugh. "Uh, what my friend meant is that we're from Kansas, and uh, not too many Catholics in Kansas." He aimed a disarming smile at the woman.
Sister Julia arched her brow before she gave both men a censorious look. "You DO go to church regularly?" she said, the words more of a statement than a question, but when both men refrained from answering she added, "I mean, to your own church?"
Becoming increasingly uncomfortable under the nun's scrutiny, Heyes and Curry began to fidget like guilty schoolboys; their replies were somewhat mumbled.
"Well, uh, we, uh..." Curry stopped. He turned sideways, his eyes beseeching his partner to intervene.
"Uh, well, uh no. I wouldn't uh, I wouldn't call us regulars..." Heyes swallowed and waved his hands vaguely in the air, "Move around a lot."
If possible, Sister Julia’s stern look became even more disapproving. "DO you go to church?"
"Uh, we did," Kid readily supplied. After a slight pause he added, "Yeah. Uh, yeah…every Sunday.” With added conviction he tacked on, “Back at the Home."
"The Home?" repeated Sister Julia.
After giving his partner another look that spoke volumes, Heyes jumped in before Curry could further complicate matters. "Yeah, the Home. For orphans." His usual composure somewhat diminished in the presence of the nuns, Heyes pushed onward, determined to make it through the situation. "Uh, we uh, we both lost our folks in the Border W-Wars." Poker-faced, he cursed his tongue for stumbling over the word and sent the nuns a confident smile.
" 'Bout the only place for orphans back in those days was The Valparaiso School For Waywards," Curry added, only to receive an even more wide-eyed warning glare from Heyes.
Sister Julia smiled and nodded her head in approval. "It's easy to see they did a fine job."
Both men looked ill at ease and mumbled their responses.
"Ah, thanks, ma'am..." The words were accompanied by Kid’s uneasy laughter.
"Yeah, uh, thank you, ma'am..." Heyes echoed, equally uncomfortable.
"They must be very proud."
The two ex-outlaws exchanged another look.
Heyes nodded, relieved to let the matter rest.
"Uh, well, not real proud, no, ma'am,” Curry answered and, despite the increasing intensity of Heyes' glare, which didn’t need to be seen to be felt, he plunged onward. “You see, we ran away when we were fifteen. I guess you might say that we're uh, self-made." After a slight pause he added, "Kinda."
"Well, if either of you would care to join us in the fellowship of evening prayer, please, don't hesitate." Giving them a questioning look, she waited.
Unable to meet her gaze, Heyes and Curry stared downward and remained mute. When the silence stretched out long enough to make the two men feel uncomfortable, they raised their heads. The pair turned to face each other and shared a chagrined look before Heyes finally turned to face the nun.
"Thank you, ma'am - uh, Sister. We have to uh...look after the stock, build a fire...and make camp and... you understand?"
"Not really, Mr. Smith," Sister Julia replied curtly before she turned away to join Sister Isabel. Together the nuns headed in the direction of their wagon.
When the two women were out of earshot, Heyes turned to his partner, an expression of consternation upon his face. "I swear, if you'd talked to her much longer you'd have told her about the prices on our heads!" he snapped. With a skyward roll of his eyes the dark-haired man pivoted about on his heel and walked away, still muttering to himself and shaking his head.
Deciding it might be a more prudent move on his part to give Heyes some time to himself, Curry headed towards the horses. He grabbed the reins of the nearest three and led them in the direction of the water.
“The foolish are like ripples on water, for whatsoever they do is quickly effaced;
But the righteous are like carvings upon stone, for their smallest act is durable.”
~~Horace~~ (Ancient Roman Poet, 65 BC - 8 BC)
Sister Julia stopped and turned around. She studied the man’s movements for a moment before she turned to the nun beside her and put a hand on her arm. "Go on back to the wagon and start preparing for tonight. I have something I need to take care of and Mr. Jones may be able to help; it shouldn't take long and then I'll join you."
Although Sister Isabel sent her a questioning look, she gave a slight nod. "Alright, but you'll be bein’ real careful now, won't you?" she queried, a look of concern upon her face.
Patting the other woman’s arm, Sister Julia smiled. “There’s no need for you to worry, I just need to ask Mr. Jones something. I’ll meet you back at the wagon in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, I promise.”
Sister Isabel returned the smile, but her own expression was filled with doubt and concern. With a frustrated sigh she turned and began to walk away slowly, looking back over her shoulder every so often to check on the other nun until she disappeared from sight.
Sister Julia followed along behind the man ahead of her, keeping her distance while she kept him in her sights. She waited until Curry reached the watering hole and had allowed the animals to lower their heads to drink before she walked briskly forward.
"Mr. Jones,” she called out, “could you -”
Curry whipped around, his right hand flying to his gun. It had cleared leather and was in his hand aimed straight at the woman before she could speak another word.
“…please spare me a moment?" Sister Julia didn’t blink an eye as she calmly finished her request although she did give the weapon he still held in his hand a rather pointed look.
While Curry’s brain processed the fact that there was no real threat of danger, it was just as quick to warn him of the need to tread with caution because he was all on his own; Heyes was nowhere in sight. Stalling for time, Kid holstered his Colt with deliberation and the fervent wish that his heart wasn’t thumping against his chest so hard. She had to be able to hear it!
“You really shouldn’t sneak up on someone like that,” he growled, “‘specially way out here in the middle of nowhere - it’s a good way to get yourself shot! There’s all kinds of dangerous things that can happen when people get surprised!” When the nun continued to stare at him in silence, Curry blew out a deep sigh through his nostrils. "Uh, sure, ma'am – uh, Sister; what can I do for you?"
"Oh, it's nothing that you can do, Mr. Jones,” the nun answered serenely and clasped her hands together in front of her, “It's more like something you can tell me."
“Tell you?” His defenses already on high alert, Curry took another desperate glance around in the hope that someone - anyone - would come to his aid. With a sinking feeling, he was forced to acknowledge that his hope was in vain. "The thing is, I'm really more of a doer than a talker,” Kid shrugged in resignation, “But I'll try my best, Sister."
"Earlier today you were explaining about being sent to a home for orphans, the Valparaiso School for Waywards, I believe you said. Am I to understand that you and Mr. Smith were both considered to be waywards yourselves, then?"
Curry took a moment as he considered his words. "Back then, we were so young we didn't even know what a wayward was. Like Hey- uh, Joshua said earlier, we had both lost our entire families...we were orphans. The only family we had left was each other."
"But the authorities - they still put you in a place like that? Two young and innocent boys such as yourselves?"
"It was the closest place – actually they told us it was the only place - that had room for both of us. Joshua an' me, well, we'd been through so much already, we didn't really care where we were as long as we got to stay together." He fell silent and then, with a deep sigh added, “Well, at least at first we didn’t mind.”
“Am I to gather from what you’ve said that you and Mr. Smith are related? The two of you are kin to each other?”
Cursing his wayward tongue, Curry hesitated, feeling as if the years had melted away and he was once again eight years old standing in front of one of the Sisters who had frequented Valparaiso. He shifted guiltily and went back to studying the ground at his feet.
“Well?” the nun pressed.
Feeling compelled to lift his head, Curry did so. He looked into Sister Julia’s penetrating eyes and nodded. “Cousins,” he affirmed, albeit with reluctance.
The Sister nodded. “I see.”
Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.
“Thank you for your time and for clearing a few things up, Mr. Jones; you've been a big help. That will be all I need.”
Curry’s face registered relief.
“For now,” Sister Julia favored him with an enigmatic look, gathered her skirt and walked away.
“Sheesh,” Kid muttered, “what was that all about?”
“Ah, there you are, Mr. Smith.”
Heyes halted mid-stride in his pacing and spun around, masking his surprise. “Hiya, Sister – I didn’t hear you sneak- uh I mean you have a very quiet step and I was busy thinking. Nothing’s wrong, I hope?” He quirked a brow, “Or maybe you need something?”
Sister Julia nodded. “Yes, I need you to take a few moments out of your busy schedule to talk with me.”
Although Heyes’ smile never faltered, a look of wariness crept into his eyes. “I’m never too busy to take the time to be of assistance to a lady,” he replied smoothly and inclined his head towards a group of Joshua trees a few yards away. “Shall we get out of the sun?” At her nod he held out his hand indicating that she should lead the way, “After you.”
Once they reached the protection of the shade, the nun didn’t waste any time in stating her business. “I just finished having a very interesting chat with your cousin, Mr. Smith.”
“You mean my friend, Mr. Jones, don’t you?” Heyes corrected her lightly.
“I don’t usually say things I don’t mean; I know what I heard.”
“Maybe you heard wrong?” Heyes suggested with an understanding smile.
“No, your cousin, Mr. Jones, he was very clear with what he said.”
“Thaddeus is my friend as well as my partner, ma’am. We’ve both been out on the trail for quite a while - why, the poor man is exhausted! Sometimes, when a man is that tired, he can get a bit confused and say foolish things that don’t make much sense.”
“Mr. Jones did not appear to be exhausted or tired, and he most definitely was not confused. Quite to the contrary, by the lightning speed of his draw I’d say that he was very alert.”
“Sister,” Heyes countered never missing a beat, “I don’t know what you want me to tell you, but -“
“Joshua,” the nun interrupted, “I want you to tell me the plain and simple truth. Would it be so very hard for you to admit that you and Thaddeus are cousins?”
“I AM telling you the truth,” Heyes insisted calmly, “Thaddeus and I are not cousins.”
Sister Julia pinned him with a look. “Joshua and Thaddeus may not be, but Hannibal and Jedediah are – aren’t they?”
Heyes’ adam apple bobbed convulsively. “Are those your words - or Mr. Jones’?”
“A little truth can go a long ways towards making things right, Mr. Smith. Maybe you should think about that and then go find Mr. Jones and the two of you can talk things over and get your stories straight?” Sister Julia suggested before she turned away and went back the way she had come.
A pair of brown eyes followed her thoughtfully. “What just happened?” Heyes muttered aloud once she had completely disappeared and strode off briskly in search of Curry. “Oh yeah, cousin – you and I are going to have a talk alright!”
Sometimes things don't go as they should and when Heyes found Kid he discovered that somewhat contrary to his plans, his partner wasn’t alone.
“Hello again, Sister,” he greeted the Nun. “I was hoping to have a few words with my partner, Mr. Jones, if you don’t mind?” He smiled politely at the woman, but the grim expression on his face didn’t match it. “In private,” he added pointedly.
"Mister Smith? Or shall I call you by your given name…Hannibal?" She raised a brow of inquiry in his direction. "And you, Mister Jones," Sister Julia turned her piercing eyes in Curry's direction, "would you prefer that I call you Jedediah…or Kid?"
"I'd prefer that you keep your voice down, ma'am!” Curry hissed with a furtive look around. “It might be dusk, but that doesn't mean that a voice won't carry out here!" He took a deep breath and added, "An' as far as to who I am, most folks call me Thaddeus." He stared back straight into her eyes.
Heyes cleared his throat.
The nun returned her attention to him. “Yes, Mister…Smith?”
“If you’ll give Thaddeus and I some time alone to talk things over, I’m sure we can get this matter settled to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. Before you leave though, I’d like to clarify your ultimatum, if you don’t mind, Sister.”
“I don’t mind at all; it’s plain and simple, gentlemen. All I’m asking is that you admit who you are. I have already explained that I know and once we have established the truth then we may proceed with the next step in the plan.”
“You…have a plan?” Heyes queried.
“We have a plan,” the Sister corrected him.
Heyes turned to his partner and Curry lifted his shoulders in an “whatever you think best” shrug.
"I will give the two of you until midnight tonight to come to me with your decision."
Brown eyes stared at her. "And if we don't?"
"If you do not meet the deadline, then you leave me with no other choice; I shall be forced to go to a higher authority." She turned on her heel and walked briskly away without another word.
Curry and Heyes exchanged a look of desperate resignation as they watched the Sister until she disappeared from sight behind a boulder. The nun's meaning could not have been any clearer.
"Well, one thing's for sure, we can't tell her she's right - we can't let her know she knows the truth."
Blue eyes bored deep into brown ones. "I don't like lyin' to a nun, Heyes,” Kid protested, “It don't feel right!"
"How about if the nun is blackmailing us – how do you feel about that!?" Heyes snapped and ran a frustrated hand through his hair as he began to pace back and forth like a caged animal. "Does it make you feel any better if you take that into consideration?"
Silence followed his words.
"Look," Heyes continued, "I don't like it any better than you do, but the fact is that she IS a nun – and that means she'll feel honor-bound to tell the sheriff the truth when we get into town. That's something we can't afford to let happen."
Curry maintained a stoic silence, but his eyes never left his partner as he watched him wear a path into the ground.
Heyes continued to pace, muttering out loud as he walked first in one direction, then turned and retraced his steps in the opposite direction. "This is what happens when we try to be good Samaritans and help someone! I knew we should’ve just let Jim ride with them - we should’ve kept our distance! I had a bad feeling right from the very first question out of Sister Julia's mouth!" He stopped mid-stride and pivoted about to face his partner.
"And YOU," Heyes pointed a finger of accusation in Curry’s direction and shook his head, "you just had to tell her our whole entire life story - didn't you? What happened, Kid? Usually it's like pulling teeth to get you to say more than a few sentences! Couldn't you - just for once – resist the urge and not be the knight in shining armor? Sister Julia is too tough to be a damsel in distress - she sure doesn't look like she needs saving to me! And that other one - Sister Isabel - from what I've seen so far she can take pretty good care of herself, too!
"A simple yes or no to her questions would have been fine, but noooo - you’ve got to go and tell her more than I've ever heard you tell anyone about us the whole time we’ve been riding together! Why? What was that all about? Of all the foolish things you’ve done in the past, this one really tops the list!" The look of consternation was back upon Heyes' face as he turned and began to pace again.
"You're right, Heyes, it is all my fault that we're in this mess!” Curry strove for the right words that would make his partner understand. “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how - I don't know what happened! One minute I was all set to mind my own business an’ the next, it was like I was back at Valparaiso standin’ in front of the headmistress, knowin’ that if I didn't answer truthfully there'd be hell to pay. Only thing different was that this time there was more to tell an’ more at stake than back then.”
Heyes stopped pacing and waited, but kept his back to Curry.
“Sister Julia has the kinda face that makes you want to tell her the truth; she made me feel like somehow she was disappointed in me. It was the strangest thing - I had the feeling that she already knew the answers but wanted to see what I’d say.” Curry took a deep breath. “An’ there was another reason, too. You’re probably not gonna like it any more’n the first one, but, well, it reminded me of the look my ma used to give me.”
Although Heyes’ head raised a fraction and his back stiffened, he remained silent.
“It was like that time when my family came over to your place an’ our mas were doing the bakin’. We snatched a few cookies – remember how we thought we’d got away with it, but then later that day we were out playin’ by the barn an’ both of ‘em came outside an’ called us to come an’ get a surprise? They told us they knew how good we’d been, how proud they were of us an’ wanted to reward us with some cookies. You an’ I both felt so guilty standin’ there that we spilled our guts without either of ‘em havin’ to say another word.
“Remember that look on their faces? Like how they already knew we’d taken the cookies but they wanted us to be honest with ‘em all on our own? Well, that’s how Sister Julia made me feel – an’ I jus’ couldn’t lie to her,” he finished with a deep sigh. He raised penitent blue eyes to stare at his partner’s back. “I’m sorry, Heyes.”
Heyes took a moment before he turned to face his partner with a chagrined grin. “Don’t take it too bad; I got the same feeling, Kid. Sister Julia asked me a lot of questions, and gave me those same looks. I did my best, I tried to stand my ground, but you’re right - she is a hard person to lie to.”
“So…what do we do now?”
“Well, we’ve put all our cards out on the table. She raised the ante, so it’s our turn to either call or raise the stakes.”
“I don’t think we can afford to do either one,” Curry retorted morosely, “Either way we lose!”
“Not necessarily -”
“So we go to her an’ tell her the truth?” Kid interrupted, “You jus’ said she’d have to tell the sheriff an’ -”
“It won’t matter if we’re not around when she does the telling, right?”
“But we can’t just leave – we’ve got a job to finish – we’ve got to get those beeves to Pearlman an’ we told the Sisters we’d take them into town, too! An’ once Sister Julia gets to town, she’ll go visit the sheriff an’ -”
“Would you quit borrowing trouble, Kid - you’re putting the cart before the horse! Listen, all we have to do is get Jim to stay here with the nuns while we get those beeves to town, collect the money we’re owed and then after we’ve left the money for Jim to pick up his share, we head on out and he can bring the Sisters on in. She can tell the sheriff whatever she wants.” His eyes twinkling, Heyes finished, “It won't matter then 'cos we’ll be long gone.”
“Nothin’ foolish ‘bout the way you think, Heyes,” Curry answered with a grin, “C’mon, let’s go find Sister Julia!”
The two outlaws came upon the nun sitting outside her wagon next to the campfire and came to a standstill beside a Joshua Tree that hid them from view. Head bowed, her Bible lay open in her lap.
“You think we should bother her?” Curry whispered, “Looks like she might be prayin’.”
“We don’t have a choice - we have to bother her,” Heyes hissed back. “She gave us a deadline, Kid; a deadline which, I shouldn’t have to remind you, is almost up.”
“Well, I dunno…I don’t like the idea of botherin’ a Nun when she’s talkin’ to God,” Curry muttered, “It jus’ don’t seem right, somehow. He might not take it too kindly – you know, us interruptin’‘em.”
“Well, whether or not it seems right, we’re going to have to do the bothering no matter -”
“You won’t be bothering me - or God – gentlemen; it's alright, you can come on over to the fire.”
Casting his partner a smirking ‘I-told-you-so’ look, Heyes led the way. As the two men approached the campfire, Sister Isabel poked her head out of the wagon.
“G’ evenin’ to ye, Mister Smith; an’ to ye, too, Mister Jones.”
Heyes and Curry removed their hats; they held them in their hands and nodded politely in her direction.
“Same to you, ladies…uh, Sisters,” Heyes said and then gave his full attention to Sister Julia. “Uh, ma’am, we don’t have much time…we have a little matter to discuss with you,” his glance shifted back to the wagon, “In private, if you don’t mind?”
“At this time ‘o night?” Sister Isabel protested. “Oh, no, Sister Julia, I kinna let ya be traipsin’ all o’er the desert wi’ two strange men!”, “It wouldna be right!”
Sister Julia approached the wagon and laid a hand upon the other nun’s arm. “Thank you for your concern, but these men are not strangers and they won’t let any harm come to me,” she turned sideways to look at each of the men in turn. “Will you, Mr. Smith? Mr. Jones?”
“No, Sister, we sure won’t,” Heyes assured the women. “Our business with Sister Julia won’t take long at all.”
“I promise I’ll be right back,” the older woman gave Sister Isabel’s arm a reassuring pat.
As the three of them walked away they could hear the younger nun still muttering to herself behind them.
“Business, he says! In the middle o’ the night, he says! Hmph – if ye ask me, ‘tis more’n likely a bunch of blarney they’ll be a-tellin’ her!”
The fullness of the moon overhead provided more than ample light for the trio to see by and once they reached a clearing not too far away from the watchful eyes of Sister Isabel, they came to a standstill.
“I take it that the two of you have talked things over and reached a decision?”
Heyes nodded, “We have,” he answered and glanced sideways, “Right?”
“We don’t know how you know,” Heyes continued, “but you do. It really doesn’t matter - ”
“Oh, but it does,” Sister Julia interupted. “I was a passenger on a train that was robbed by you and your gang a few years ago. None of you were wearing masks, so I got a real good look at both of you; neither of you have changed very much. I also had a first-hand opportunity to observe your treatment of the passengers on the train. Your consideration left me with a very good impression of your character; I still have that feeling standing here with you now.” A faint smile on her face, the nun added, “There is also the very intriguing fact that your names have not been heard in association with any banks or trains for some time.”
“Oh.” Heyes paused a moment to digest that. “Well, that may all be true, but what it boils down to - given your ultimatum – you forced our hand. We decided to lay all our cards out on the table. We don’t have any other choice but to tell you that you’re right - I'm Hannibal Heyes.” He turned to his partner.
“An’ I’m Kid Curry,” the sandy-haired man confirmed. “We figured it was better to admit the truth than face the consequences.”
His features set, Heyes continued in a determined tone, “We didn’t want to force you to take things to a higher authority. We’ve been trying real hard to mend our ways these last couple of years and can’t afford any kind of trouble.” He shared another look with Curry and then turned his attention back to Sister Julia. “There is one thing we'd like to ask of you; it's not much and it's nothing illegal. We’d appreciate it very much if you could at least let us get enough of a head start that a posse won’t be able to track us down before you say anything.”
Sister Julia's lips twitched. “Just out of curiosity, Hannibal, what higher authority did you think I meant?”
“No,” she shook her head.
“No?” Heyes echoed, his brow arching in question.
“It has to be a lawman of some kind - a Marshall?” Curry guessed.
Another shake of the nun's head.
Heyes frowned. “You surely can’t mean the Governor?”
“The authority I was referring to is much higher than that, gentlemen.”
“You mean…?” Kid gulped and raised his wide blue eyes to look skywards.
“I do,” Sister Julia affirmed. “I have it on very good authority that you two are really not as bad as some people think you are. But, you can do better. You can stop living the kind of life that could very well be the end of your lives – permanently. I was given the task of delivering this message to you personally and if you do not heed the warning, both of you will be answering to Someone who is very unhappy with the way you have chosen to waste the special gifts He has given you.” After allowing her words a few moments to soak in, Sister Julia continued.
“What happens next is up to you, Hannibal, and you as well, Jedediah. What will the history books be filled with? Stories of two thieving bank and train-robbing outlaws named Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, who lived on the run, every day a fight to survive and stay alive? Will they end with an account of how they spent the rest of their days rotting in prison cells or perhaps met their death killed by some reward-hungry bounty hunter? Or, will they tell the tale of two ex-outlaws who mended their ways and became law-abiding citizens that lived until a ripe old age with their families around them?”
Sister Julia didn’t wait for their answer but pressed on. “Well, gentlemen, I’m glad we had the chance to get things straightened out. I have complete faith that you will think things over and make the right choice.” She paused to give her words a moment to sink in. “By the way, in case either of you are wondering, neither Sister Isabel nor Jim have any clue whatsoever to your real identities; your secret is safe with me. I do not intend to share that information with them, trust me.
“As far as I am concerned, from this point on you will be Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones.” Gathering her skirts about her, she smiled serenely at the men before continuing, “Well, the hour is late; it’s time for me to be getting back to the wagon before Sister Isabel’s concern gets the best of her and she comes searching for me. Enjoy the rest of your evening…Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. Good evening gentlemen, I’ll see you in the morning.”
“G’night, Sister,” both men chorused.
Once they were alone, the pair turned to look at each other with matching grins.
“See, Kid, what did I tell you? All that worrying for nothing!”
“Right, Heyes,” Curry cocked his head to eye his partner. “Hey - I thought you liked it when I worried?”
“Never said I didn’t – keeps me on my toes.”
“Yeah, an’ all that tip-toein’ keeps me awake at nights!” Curry yawned, “C’mon, let’s go find our bedrolls an’ hit the hay; we’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“Right behind you, Kid,” Heyes yawned in reply and fell in behind his partner, “just like always.”
THE NEXT DAY, JUST AFTER BREAKFAST
“Guess this means we don’t havta leave Jim out here with the Sisters an’ the beeves,” Curry mused aloud.
“It also means we can add one more name to that list of people who know who we are and what we look like!” Heyes retorted wryly as he mounted up to ride.
“You think we can trust her to keep our secret?”
Heyes nodded. “I do.”
“So we don’t need to be worried ‘bout the sheriff when we ride into Pearlman?”
A short silence followed his answer.
“Heyes,” Kid tossed out casually as he cinched up his saddle, “you really believe all that stuff Sister Julia said - you know, about God? Like the part where He’s watchin’ us, or that He cares about what happens to us an’ wants us to live better lives?”
Heyes took a moment to consider Curry’s words before he answered. “Let’s just say there’s no way I’m going to be foolish enough to call the good Sister a liar, Kid; they have their job to do and we have ours. If she says that her Boss chose her to give us a message, well, she’s done her part. She’s delivered it and now it’s up to us what we do with the information. We’ve already stopped doing the things that got us into trouble in the first place and we’re trying to go straight, so maybe this was just a little ‘nudge’ to make sure we keep on the right path while we do it. That’s all we can do, Kid, is to keep on trying.”
“Like I said before, Heyes, I like the way you think!” Curry grinned as the two ex-outlaws began to herd the cattle together for the drive into Pearlman.
_________________ "My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel -- it is, before all, to make you see..." ~~ Joseph Conrad ~~