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 Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico

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Join date : 2013-10-13

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PostIll Met By Moonlight by Calico

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Hh_kc_10

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry are summoned by Governor Moonlight for yet another 'important meeting'. Their only problem: they have1,089 miles to travel and only two days to get there.


Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Pete_a19
Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry

Guest Stars

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Samuel10
Richard Schiff as Samuel West

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Lom_tr10
James Drury as Lom Trevors

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico First_10
Earl Holliman as First Outlaw

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Second10
Dennis Fimple as Second Outlaw

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Porty10
John Candy as ‘Portly’

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Monty10
Monty Laird as Monty

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Sherif10
Forrest Tucker as the Sherriff

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Bank_m10
John McGiver as the Bank Manager

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Train_10
Steve Martin as the Railway High-Up

Ill Met By Moonlight
Trains, Plains and Oughta Be Miles
by Calico


Two familiar figures lounged opposite a telegram office.  Hannibal Heyes scanned a local newspaper.  Kid Curry watched a motherly-looking woman turn the sign on a small restaurant from closed to open.  A growl sounded from beneath the sheepskin jacket.  He licked his lips.  

“Anything in help wanted?”

“Nuh uh.  Nothing new.  Ranch work.  More ranch work.  Book-keeper.”

“You could do that.”

“What would you do?”

“I could keep your books – y’know, when you get paid.”

Kid Curry received the look.

“It says – must bring excellent references.”  Heyes mused, “You want to write me an excellent reference?”

“Not sure they’d take it from me.”  The Kid’s turn to muse, “Even supposin’ I could think of anything to say.”  

“Fella here hiring for a cattle drive.”  Heyes' eagerness was underwhelming.

“Kinda dusty.  And…” Curry shrugged his distaste.

“Yeah.  Hauling job for the mine?”


“It don’t say.  Just – experience with explosives preferred.”

Blue eyes met brown.  “Nitro,” they decided in unison.

“Escorting a party of archy-ologists…” read Heyes.

Kid Curry shot a suspicious look at his partner’s innocent face.  “D’you make that one up?”  

Heyes grinned.  “Sorry, Kid.  If there’s still nothing from Lom today, it’s eating cattle dust, or hauling nitro.  Take your pick.”

Their eyes met again.  Once again, in unison, but with no enthusiasm whatsoever, “Nitro.”

Heyes looked at the opening time displayed in the door of the telegraph office, then squinted over at a town clock.  “Nearly nine.  He should be…”

A bespectacled gentleman hurried along the street, key in hand.

Heyes tucked the newspaper into his jacket.  “Let’s hope there’s something from Lom, huh?”

The two ex-outlaws strode over to the telegraph office.  



“You boys sure are punctual.”  The clerk adjusted the glasses on his nose.  “Now, let me see…”  To the Kid, “Mr. Smith?”

“I’m Jones – that other fella, he’s Smith.”

“Smith and Jones?”

“There’s a lot of fellas called Smith and Jones.  We just…” Heyes stopped.  He sighed.  “D’you know what?  Skip it.  Same old, same old.  Anything for either of us?”

The clerk checked one pigeonhole after another.  “Nope, nope…”

“Same old, same old…” murmured the Kid.


The partners reacted.

“One for Mr. Smith.”

Heyes took the message.  The boys stepped outside.  On the boardwalk, their eyes met.

“It prob’ly says nothin’ new,” warned Curry.

Heyes nodded.  He opened it.

“Good news from our mutual friend,” he read.  “Meet me at the Nolan Ranch, before the third.”

A pause.  

“We’ve been here before,” said Curry.  “It don’t mean…”

“No, it don’t mean…”  Heyes still stared at the message.  “It sure beats no news, Kid.”

“Dunno.  I can take the disappointment, Heyes.  It’s the hope that gets to ya.”

Heyes gave a rueful grin.  “Don’t it just.”



Heyes and Curry sat spruced up in familiar chocolate brown and light grey-blue suits.  They stared at an imposing door, displaying a helpful brass plaque – Governor Thomas Moonlight.

Heyes brushed an invisible speck from the brown derby resting on his lap.  The Kid shifted in his seat.  Lom cleared his throat.

Kid Curry gazed at the wall opposite.  “Why d’you reckon all the clocks?”  He frowned, “And, why is only one of ‘em right?”

“They’re all right somewhere, Kid.  Just only one of them is right here, right now.”  Heyes pointed.  “Mountain time.”

“I guess the Governor likes to know what time it is back East in the boss’s office,” suggested Lom.  

“And out West where the rest of the money is,” adds Heyes.  

A pause.  A clock ticked.  No, make that five clocks.

“So, what’s this proposition?” asked Kid Curry.

“I already told you all I know,” said Lom.  “Governor Moonlight wants to meet with you; he has a proposition.  It’s good news.”

“Does it involve fetching anyone’s daughter away from – from anywhere?”

“That’d be quite a co-incidence, Heyes.”

“Does it involve fetchin’ a murderess back from Mexico?”

“Kid, which part of – I told you all I know – are you having problems with?”

The door opened.  A prematurely balding, bearded gentleman stepped out.  “Mr. Heyes, Mr. Curry, you can come in now.”

The ex-outlaws stood and shot an enquiring glance at Lom.  He answered their mute question with a shake of his head.  This was NOT the governor.

The threesome trooped into the office.  

“Samuel West,” the gentleman introduced himself.  “Please, have a seat.”

“Where’s Governor Moonlight?” asked Lom.  

“The Governor left for Sacramento Saturday.”

“I thought he wanted to see these two?”

“He does.”

“Wouldn’t that be a mite easier without him putting 1,000 miles in between?” suggested Heyes.

“He’s asked me to meet with you first, Mr. Heyes.  Unless I advise him otherwise, he will meet you in Sacramento.  Then, if everything goes to plan, give you amnesty.”

There was a pause while that sunk in.

“No offence,” said Kid Curry, “but, what’d make the Governor take your say-so?”

“And, what’d make you advise – otherwise?” added Heyes.

“It may be easier if I start at the beginning,” said West.  “I’ve worked for Thomas Moonlight for several years.  When he was appointed Governor, he brought me with him from Kansas as Communications Director.”

A questioning look from Kid Curry.

“I write speeches.  Draft articles.  I advise on how to handle the press.  How to make bad news seem not so bad and good news seem even better.  There are many people always trying to make any politician look bad.  So, they all hire professionals, like myself, to work the other side – make them look better.”

“Meaning,” said Heyes, “every time we’ve been told that our amnesty would make the Governor look bad politically – it’s someone like you pulling the strings.”

“More like explaining when and how to pull the string without it untying the knot holding things together – but, yes.”  

“Is the when, now?” asked Curry.

“It could be tomorrow.  Mr. Trevors raised your case right after Governor Moonlight took office.  We know you’ve had half-promises from one Governor after another, and that the original arrangement of a one-year probation was – well, several years ago…”

“And the rest,” murmured the Kid.

“Governor Moonlight has fellow feelings with you as Kansans…”

“I thought he was Scottish,” said Lom.

“As an adopted Kansan,” amended West.  “Mrs. Moonlight also feels her shared Irish roots with Mr. Curry, here.”

The Kid blinked in surprise.  

“Sure, and don’t we all be having Irish roots,” chipped in Heyes, with just the hint of a brogue.  Curry and Lom glanced at him.  Blue eyes rolled.

“The difficulty has always been that, like his predecessors, Governor Moonlight cannot afford to alienate the railroad lobby.  However, we have put out feelers…”

“And…?” prompted Heyes.

“There is to be an anniversary celebration of the Golden Spike event held at the State Capitol in Sacramento.  It's twenty years since the country was joined by rail east to west.  The original Associates will entertain the great and the good…”

“You’re talkin’ about the big four?” asked Curry.  

“Anyways, the three that are left?” added Heyes.

“They prefer the nomenclature, The Associates,” said West.  “Anyone who is anyone in the railways has an invitation.  The Governor will be there, naturally.  And, there is a window of opportunity as the Lieutenant Governor of California is a fellow Democrat.  As I say, soundings have been taken.  Stanford, Huntington and Crocker have all indicated a willingness to use the occasion to be seen tempering justice with mercy.  Handled correctly, as a magnanimous gesture on their part, your amnesty could enhance their reputations and they will undertake to smooth over any objections from current rail interests.”

There was a short silence.  The ex-outlaws exchanged a glance.  

“I expected more – well, enthusiasm,” said West.  

“The folks running the railways – it kinda sticks in our throats doing them a favour,” said Heyes.

“May I suggest the feeling is mutual, Mr. Heyes.  Hence the importance of choosing a time when they feel able to swallow it.”

Heyes gave a facial shrug, indicating the man did have a point.

“They’re bigger crooks than we ever were,” said Kid Curry.

“May I suggest, IF that is true, their – shall we say – scale of operation is why they are the ones able to offer an amnesty and you are the ones who need it.  If you intend to wait for an offer from the wholly pure of heart, and free of any quid pro quo, you will wait long indeed.”

“Quid pro quo?” repeated the Kid.

“They scratch our backs, we scratch theirs,” translated Heyes.  “I reckon we can live with that.”  

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Pic_110

“So, provided your statements of contrition are acceptable, all that remains is to…”

“Our what?” interrupted Curry.

“Statements of contrition – for publication.  You are, in effect, accepting a joint pardon.  That requires an admission of guilt, and evidence of both regret and reform.”  

A short silence.

“The thing is,” said Lom, glancing at the expressions of the ex-outlaws.  “The boys think they’ve already earned the amnesty, staying straight – mostly – all this time.”

“They think wrong,” West did not raise his voice, but his tone sharpened.  “Not breaking the law – mostly – and doing an honest day's work is, while admirable, not in itself exceptional.  Most citizens manage it every day.”  

“You mean we gotta grovel?” demanded the Kid.

“Mr. Curry, you will be expected to say ‘I’m sorry for my crimes’ and ‘thank you for the pardon’.  In exchange you will be excused your debt to society which is currently set at twenty years hard labour.  I do not think that is unreasonable – and it is not grovelling.”  He met Kid Curry’s eyes, squarely.  “I was brought up to say, please, thank you, and I’m sorry.  How about you?”

Another silence.

“There IS a lotta truth in there,” admitted the Kid.  

“You have quite a way with words,” said Heyes.  

“That is what I’m paid for.”  West stood.  “The plan is I escort you to Sacramento.  You clearly still have reservations.  However, if we do not leave now, we will miss our train.  May I make a suggestion?  During the journey, you promise to be honest with me about – about your reformation.  I promise to use all my skills to help you draft dignified statements that meet the Governor’s needs and that you can put your names to with a clear conscience.  If you decide, after all, to refuse the amnesty, we simply part company.”

“How do we know you won’t double cross us – if we change our minds, we end up in jail?” asked Heyes.

“Firstly, because I give you my word…”

The boys looked sceptical.

“Secondly, because I want all publicity for the Governor to be good news.  The last thing I want are wasted headlines on two Kansan criminals finally getting arrested and articles wondering what’s so wrong with Wyoming law enforcement that it didn’t happen years ago.  Do we have an agreement?”

He held out his hand.  After a moment’s thought, Heyes shook it.



Heyes, Curry sat, side by side, in a plush private car.  Sam West was opposite to them.  Through the window it is seen the train was stationary and, as a sign showed, still at Cheyenne station.  

Heyes reads one of several slim booklets laid out before him.  

The Kid frowns at a station clock out on the platform.  It's ten past nine.  “So, if we don’t make it to Sacramento in time for this fancy event, the deal’s off?”

“It would be – delayed – until another opportunity arose.”

“And it’s 1,000 miles?”

“A little more.”  Heyes’ finger ran down a listing.  “This makes it 1089 miles.  Of track that is.  A little less as the crow flies.  Our first stop to take on coal will be Rawlins.  That’s about 130 miles…”  

“You hadta buy him a set of timetables at the station, huh?”  The Kid eyed Samuel West.  “That’s one honest regret you can put down for me in this contrition statement.  I’m truly sorry for all the hours I spent listenin’ to Heyes readin’ out train times before jobs.”  He sent another glower in the direction of the station clock.  “1,000 miles – that’s a lot of land to cover.”

“Relax, Mr. Curry, we have two full days.  We don’t need to be there until late tomorrow afternoon.  And, we’re hardly the Donner Party.  All we have to do is sit on cushioned seats all the way.  I’ve even booked a hotel for a decent night’s sleep in Elko.”

“It sure is nice to travel in style,” said Heyes.  “Did you know this car has the patented paper wheel layer system, Kid?  To keep the noise down while we’re eating our steak dinner, all served on the finest Pullman bone china.”

“What’s keepin’ the noise down is us not movin’.”  Kid Curry pulled down the window and leaned out.  “We were s’posed to set off at five after nine.  It’s twenty after now.  And, since the driver and fireman are both still standin' on the platform lookin’ glum – somethin’ tells me we aren’t movin’ any time soon.”

Indeed, at that very moment, a very apologetic railway official entered.

To the ex-outlaws, his tone implying he believed them to be VIPs, “Excuse me, Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones.”  Then, “Mr. West, could I have a word, please, sir?”


Heyes, Curry and West were in the same seat positions, but in a much more ordinary train carriage.  Across the walkway two cowboys snored gently.  Further along, a tired-looking woman smacked a child’s hand away from a covered basket.  The train went over a noisy coupling and rocks, gently.  The snores turned into snorts, then reverted to a steady rhythm.

“I do apologise for this,” said West.  

“Not your fault,” shrugged Curry.

“Well, I do feel local government should take responsibility for making the trains run on time.”

“The fella told me it was a freak stress fracture in the piston,” said Heyes.  “These things happen.”

“There’s no dining car, but I can pick us up sandwiches at Rawlins.”  

“Fine with us,” said Curry.  

A pause.  The carriage swayed gently.  “An interesting fact about Rawlins,” said West.  “It’s where the infamous George Parrott was lynched.”

The two ex-outlaws exchanged a glance.

“And turned into a pair of shoes and an ashtray.  We know,” said Curry.  

“Have I been tactless?”  Quietly, after a glance to check the two cowboys were still asleep.  “Was he a friend of yours?”

“Not so much,” said Curry.  “But we’d met.  He was a mean drunk, but he didn’t deserve that.”

“No one deserves that.  I hope it goes without saying, I would never approve of desecrating a body.  Even that of a murderer.”

“We’re not like him, y’know,” said Heyes.  “In all the trains we robbed, we never shot anyone.”

“Neither had Big Nose George, until a robbery went wrong, and those lawmen found his hideout.”  West’s tone sharpened.  “Are you telling me you never shot at a posse?”

“Not to kill,” said Curry.

“The accurate placement of a Colt .45 bullet, fired from a moving horse in the direction of other moving targets at well over 100 yards distance being so legendary.”

A pause.

“We were lucky,” admitted Kid Curry.  

“And, we decided to go straight before our luck ran out,” added Heyes.  “That’s why we’re here.”

“This decision of yours, was it to get you out before a stray bullet turned you into murderers?  Or, so you’d never yourselves be fancy foot-gear for a show-off politician?”

A mute conversation between brown and blue eyes.  

“Mostly to save our own skins, but, a little of both,” said Heyes.  

“Thank you.  That had a ring of truth.  I can work with ‘a little of both’.”



A shrill whistle.  The car shook as the wheels began to turn.  A sign seen through the wisps of steam showed the train about to pull away from Rawlins.  

Kid Curry lifted a grease-proof paper package from the seat and unwrapped it.  He took an appreciative bite.  “Hot beef,” he identified.  “With mustard.”  He chewed.  “This is good.”

“I bought biscuits and pie too,” said West, laying two further packages on the seat between the two ex-outlaws.  “And hard candy.”

Kid Curry gave him a slightly hamster-cheeked nod of thanks and, without glancing down, pocketed the paper bag of candy and, nonchalantly, shifted the other packages a touch closer.  

“We’re right on time.”  Heyes tucked his pocket watch back into his vest pocket.  “Next stop, Rock Springs.”  He pulled a timetable from his jacket.  “We should make our connection in Salt Lake with a good hour to spare.”

“Knock on wood,” said West, suiting the action to the words.  He, in turn, pulled a notebook from his jacket.  “We need to get started on those statements.  About one or two thousand words should be ample.”

“Two thousand words?” protested Kid Curry.  “I thought all we hadta say was Sorry and Thank you.  That’s three words.”  A slightly mustard-smeared finger indicated first himself then the other fella.  “Six if you figure it as three each.”  The finger was licked clean.

“A few specific examples of incidents you regret will not go amiss…”

“Still don’t sound that long.”

“Along with reminiscences of some of your more well-known, and, may I say, ingenious, robberies, which will capture the public interest…”

“You’re not expecting us to name any names – except our own?”  Heyes frowned.

“Incriminate other members of your gangs?  No, no, nothing like that.  Just talk about yourselves.”

“I can do that,” said Heyes.

“He can do that,” concurred Curry.

“And I explain how I’m a genius?”

“INgenious.  Yes.”

“I can do that.”

“Trust me, before Rock Springs, you’ll be beggin’ him to quit.”  Kid Curry received the look.  

“Another thing that will not go amiss,” said West, “is some explanation of why you robbed all those banks and trains.”

“It’s where they kept…”

“…The money.  I can do flippant without any help, thank you, Mr. Heyes.  What I have in mind, as you well know, are any mitigating factors.”

Curry looked a question.

“Any reasons you first got into out-lawing.  Anything that, without being a justification, might yet win some public sympathy.”

“Uh huh?”  The Kid swallowed his last mouthful of beef sandwich and opened the biscuits.  “Mr. West, if all you need is Heyes talkin’ ‘bout how smart he is and comin’ up with excuses for nothin’ that goes wrong ever bein’ his fault – we’re home clear.”  

Heyes blinked in affront.  The Kid grinned.  

“It has to be sincere, Mr. Curry.  It has to be the truth.”

Curry chewed thoughtfully.  “We may have a problem,” he decided.



An establishing shot of a station sign shows our threesome were now leaving Rock Springs.  The train was fuller.  Much fuller.  Heyes was squished against the window by an extremely portly gentleman.

Portly mopped his brow with an already damp handkerchief.  “Sorry to crowd you, son.”

“Not a problem.”

“They make these seats so narrow – and, lord knows, I ain’t been narrow for years.  Good job you’re on the skinny side, son.”

Heyes wriggled, but managed a smile.

“Hot, ain’t it, crowded like this?  Brings me out in a real muck-sweat.”

Heyes tried in vain to edge himself away.  

“Half of us were waiting on the 9:05 outta Cheyenne, but it got cancelled.”

“Stress fracture on the piston,” said Heyes.  He straightens his hat which has been knocked over one eye.  

“You don’t say?  They told us engine issues…”

“Well, it is in the…”

“Still, I always say – you can’t believe a word the railways tell ya.  Where are you travellin’ to, son?”


“Uh huh?”  Pause.  “Not much of a talker, are you, son?”

A laugh broke from Sam West.  Heyes gave him the look.  

“May I help you with that, ma’am?”  Kid Curry lifted a suitcase onto a rack.  And another.  He was handed an unwieldly parcel by a glum looking youngster.  With difficultly he managed to find a space for it.  He examined his hands and wiped them on his pants.  

“Thank you, sir.”  A different, even more tired-looking mother, shepherded her brood into seats.  To the eldest boy, “Jonny, you need to sit across the aisle – with this kind gentleman.”

Jonny slumped into the seat next to the portly gentleman and began nasal exploration with a grubby finger.

“’Scuse me.  Comin’ through.”  

An entity that appeared to be mostly unkempt beard and mane of hair under an ancient hat, and a collection of stained buckskins, edged into the seat next to Sam West.  

West, Heyes and Portly all drew back.  Heyes visibly switched to mouth breathing.  

A hirsute paw was held out to Sam West.  “Monty Marsh.  Trader in skins, pelts, leather…”

West stared at the paw for a moment, then shook it.  “Samuel West.”

“Glad to meet you, Sam West.”  Cheerfully, “I shoulda been on the 9:05, but I guess those jokers out in Cheyenne City Hall can’t even make the trains run on time, huh?”

“This fella reckons it was a fracture in the piston,” sweated Portly, indicating Heyes with a moist finger.

“That so?”  Monty leaned over to shake hands with Heyes.  “Monty Marsh.”

“Joshua Smith,” supplied a reluctant Heyes.

“What business you in, son?”

“I’m an assistant speech writer.”

West blinked.  Kid Curry rolled his eyes.

“Temporary like,” added Heyes, aiming a smile at West.    

The train began to chug.  

“Oh, dear, oh dear…”  The distress came from the mother opposite.

“Is there a problem, ma’am?”  Kid Curry, who had – gingerly – lowered himself back into his seat next to Monty, rose, and swaying a little, touched his hat.

“Oh yes, now we’re moving – I didn’t realise before… Jonny can’t sit with his back to the engine.  He’ll be sick.  Don’t do that, Jonny.  It’s rude.”

A finger was temporarily extracted from a nostril, examined, and then wiped on the seat.  

“You sick on trains if you ain’t facin’ front, son?” asked Monty.  

“Sick as a dawg,” confirmed Jonny.

“Whaddya know?  So am I!  You fellas – you don’t wanna see what I heave up if’n I ain’t facin’ the right way.”

From the expression on Heyes’ face, Monty was correct.  He didn’t.

The mother looked, pleadingly, at the Kid.  

“Sir, you’ve been so kind – could you possibly?”

“Sure.  Swap with me, Jonny.”

Jonny wiped one more nasal offering onto the seat he was leaving and slumped into the space pre-warmed by the Kid.  Curry, after some hesitation, perched in the abandoned spot.  

“Sorry, I’m crowding you,” sweated Portly.

“Not at all,” said the Kid, polite – if not entirely truthful.  

“Say thank you,” instructed the mother.

“You stink,” Jonny remarked to Monty.

“Jonny!  That’s rude.”  

“It’s only the skins, ma’am,” said Monty.  Conversationally, “This un is skunk.”

“Oh dear,” she sighed.

“It won’t do him no harm, ma’am – it’ll be the heat settin’ it off.”

“Sure is warm,” chipped in Portly.  He searched his pockets, pushing Heyes so his nose flattened against the window and making the Kid struggle sideways to keep his bottom in contact with the seat.  A fresh handkerchief was extracted.  A forehead was mopped.  Portly settled.  Heyes and Curry wriggled back.

“Oh dear!”  Maternal eyes pleaded with Kid Curry.  She had a baby on one knee, a toddler on the other, and four further children crowded into the seats beside her.  Opposite her sat, a very, very frail old gentleman, a forbidding spinster with a ferocious glower and a friendly looking cowboy, who, however, had his ankle in a plaster cast, and his arm in a sling.  

The cowboy met Kid Curry’s eyes.  

“It were one real ornery bull,” he offered.

“Oh dear.”  This was no longer a sigh.  It was too loud for that.  “Oh dear.”  The expression in the mother’s eyes would wring pity from Herod.  

Kid Curry opened his mouth, then visibly, braced his shoulders, pressed his lips shut and turned away.  

“Oh dear!!!”  

“Can I help you, ma’am?”  It was Sam West.

“Oh, sir.  You see – you don’t have to buy a ticket for under-fives, they count as babes in arms.  Usually there is plenty of room – but, what with the 9:05 being cancelled…”

“Stress fracture in the piston according to this fella,” contributed Monty.

West braced himself.  “I can take one on my lap, if it will help, ma’am.”

“That is SO, kind.  This is Annabelle.”

A small girl, who shared her older brother’s nasal investigatory habit, was handed to Monty, who dumped her on West’s lap.  

“Hello Annabelle, my name is Sam.”

He was examined by hostile small eyes.  

“Oh!”  West lifted Annabelle up slightly and felt his trousers.  “Oh dear,” he echoed.

The mother was still struggling.  Kid Curry looked at his partner.  Heyes was feigning deafness and examining the countryside beyond the window with an expression of innocent oblivion that earned a blue-eyed scowl.  

“Oh, dear me,” yearned the mother.

Kid Curry’s head dropped.  His shoulders slumped.  To a second grubby toddler of indeterminate sex, he said, “How’d you like to come sit on my lap, er – son?”  

The toddler stared in utter disbelief at Kid Curry and answered with a howl of anguished protest.  Nevertheless He?  She?  It? was handed over by a grateful mother.

“This is Jess(i)e,” she supplied.  So, that was no help.

The train began to chug.

“He REALLY stinks,” remarked Jonny.  Then, to his sister Annabelle, “So do you.”

“NoooaaaaawwWWWWWW!” howled Jess(i)e.  “SHHHHAAAAAAN’T”

“Never mind,” dimpled Heyes.  “Only 186 miles and a little under three hours to Salt Lake.”  

Stoicism settled on all the passenger faces.  


MILES TRAVELLED:  333         MILES TO GO:  756

The interior of the car was the stuff of nightmares.  Portly was melting, but unbelievably, also snoring, stentoriously, on Heyes’ shoulder.  Monty was visibly steaming – surely those were gnats buzzing round?  The tired mother had abandoned any efforts at discipline and developed a facial tic.  Annabelle and Jess(i)e were howling, mucus-smeared bundles of fury.  Jonny was not merely nostril exploring deeply enough to make one fear his brains would fall out, but was rhythmically swinging his feet in a manner that, every so often, caught Kid Curry a kick on the ankle.  

“Hold on there,” tried Heyes, above the cacophony.  “We’ve passed halfway.  Less than an hour and a half to go.”

Undisguised horror settled on all the passenger faces.



Except that everyone was, if possible, more dishevelled, drool-covered, sweatier, and wild-eyed, the scene was unchanged.  Suddenly, the howls and snores were joined by nerve-jangling squeals from the brakes.  The train juddered, jerked, slowed.  The squealing rose in pitch – as did the toddler and baby bawling.

Portly snorted, spluttered, awoke.  “Are we there?” he drooled into Heyes’ ear canal.  

“You wish!  Unless I’m much mistaken...”  Heyes opened the window and leaned out.

In the far distance, was heard, “SSSTTTAND and deliver!”

“Who sez so?”

The two ex-outlaws exchanged a mute conversation.  

“You have GOT to be kiddin’,” groaned Curry.


MILES TRAVELLED:  ABOUT 360 and a few yards    MILES TO GO:  729

Disgruntled travellers huddled in the meagre shade of a few scrubby trees.  The tired mother sat on Kid Curry’s jacket.  Portly fanned himself on a handy tree stump.

In the distance several outlaws buzzed around one of the freight cars.  

Much closer, two outlaws who might, just possibly, remind one of Wheat and Kyle, kept a desultory eye on the passengers.  There was an untidy scatter of four or five guns – presumably confiscated – behind them.  The atmosphere was one of grumpy, but resigned boredom.  

Heyes, Curry and West moved a little away from the other passengers.

“How long we been stuck here now?” grumbled Kid Curry.

“Ten minutes longer than the last time you asked, so – close on an hour,” said Heyes.

“We’re gonna miss our connection in Salt Lake.”

“It’s almost as if these criminals have no consideration whatsoever for how stopping the train disrupts the plans of ordinary people,” remarked West.

“Yeah, I bet they think it’s only hurtin’ the railways …” started Kid Curry.

“Sam was pulling your chain, Kid,” interposed Heyes.

A moment, then Curry nodded.  “What goes around comes around, huh?”

“Poetic justice,” agreed Heyes.  To West, “In our speeches, I reckon you can put us down as sorry we never thought much on how irritating interrupted journeys can be.”

“Are you sorry?”

The ex-outlaws exchanged a mute conversation.

“Right this minute I reckon we’re more annoyed we can’t even be mad at these fellas without lookin’ chumps,” said Curry.  “But, we take your point.”

A pause.  

“They’ve chosen a good spot,” remarked Heyes.  “Decent distance from any station.  Round a bend for cover, but still a safe stopping distance for the driver.  Nice.”

Kid Curry stared at him.  

Heyes blinked.  “Just saying.”

They all gazed at the outlaw activity in the middle distance.    

“What d’you reckon they’re after?” asked Curry.  

“Silver from the mines at Rock Springs,” said Heyes.  “About $25,000 worth.  Only two guards.”  

“How do you even know that?” asked West.

“I take an interest in – in my surroundings.  Call it force of habit.”

“Call it plain old larcenous,” muttered Curry.  A pause.  “Acceptin’ this is poetic justice and all, we’re still gonna miss our connection in Salt Lake.”  

“We can get the next one.”  Heyes studied the timetables.  “Not for much longer though.  The one after that, we miss any stopover in Elko.”

“How long until we miss the one after?”

“A while.”  Pause.  Heyes checked his watch.  “Hey, hey…”  He walked away and beckoned the guarding outlaws.  “Hey, you two…”  

After exchanging a mute conversation, the outlaws approached.

“No offence, but, what’s taking your friends so long?”

“They’re – let’s say, liberatin' – a little freight,” said Outlaw One.  “You folks just rest easy; we’ll be on our way soon enough.”

“The safe is only a plain Two-Oh-Two,” said Heyes.

“How the Sam Hill d’you know?” asked Outlaw One.

“He takes an interest in his surroundings,” said Curry.  He received the look.  

“Whoever you have turning tumblers in there,” Heyes nodded in the direction of the freight car.  “With a Two-Oh-Two he should have been done in twenty minutes.  Thirty minutes tops.  If he knows his business, that is.”

“We’re not exactly havin’ our best day,” apologised Outlaw Two.  He received a scowl from his partner and pipes down.

“You could do better, could ya?” scorned Outlaw One to Heyes.

“Modesty forbids, but…” dimpled the self-satisfied one.  He caught the shaking head of Sam West and the utter disbelief stamped on Kid Curry’s face.  He changed tack, without missing a beat.  “Not at all.  All I’m saying is, maybe it’s time you went over and persuaded your friends it’s time to break out the dynamite?”  

Outlaw One folded his arms and glowered at Heyes.  “Maybe you’d like to go over yourself, tell ‘em exactly how much to use?”

“For a Brooker Two-Oh-Two, five ounces, with another two on the hinge side ought to do it.”

Outlaw Two nodded.  “He ain’t wrong, Buck.  That’s pretty much how much I’d…”  A furious glance from his partner shut him up.

“Any more advice, fella?” asked Outlaw One.

“Yes, you should…”

“No!” interrupted West.

“Nope.  He’s done!” decided Kid Curry, in unison, pulling Heyes away.

“Good.  ‘Cos I’m thinkin’ it’s about time I took me a little collection.”  Outlaw One’s gun pointed at West.  “Hand over your wallet.  And the gold watch.  And the cuff-links.  And that fancy tie-pin.”

“You said you weren’t going to rob the passengers!” protested West, unfastening his cuffs.

“We weren’t.  But your smart-mouthed friend here persuaded me.”  Outlaw One grinned as he took West’s well-stuffed wallet.  “This feels real heavy.  I’m doin’ you a favour carryin’ it for ya, huh?”

“Please, don’t rob us…” pleaded the tired mother.  “I need every penny to get back to…”

“Don’t fret, ma’am,” said Outlaw One.  “It’s only these three.”  To Curry, “Call it a lesson in knowin’ when to keep your mouth shut.”

“I never said a word!”

“Call it a lesson in gettin’ HIM to keep his mouth shut.”

The Kid rolled his eyes.  He dug deep into his jacket and handed over two notes and two coins.  

“Two dollars fifty?  That all you got?”

“Unless you want close on six skinny feet of annoyin’ in a brown suit, yeah.”  

“We’ll pass.”  To Heyes, “Your turn – hand over the watch.”

“Please, it’s my last memento from my poor dead wife.”  Brown eyes moistened convincingly.  A manly upper lip was visibly stiffened.

Both Sam and the Kid blinked.  

Outlaw One exchanged a glance with Outlaw Two whose eyes indicated, Give it back.  It was handed back.  

Sam West rolled his eyes.

“What else you got?”

Heyes handed a crumpled note from his left jacket pocket.  

“One dollar?  That it?”

Heyes nodded.  

“Check him, Fred.”  The gun motioned Heyes to raise his arms.  

Outlaw Two frisked the talkative one.  “Two dollars in his pants, three bits in his vest,” he reported, handing them over.

“You stingy old thing!” scoffed Outlaw One.  

A yell went up in the distance.  “We got it!  Time to move out!”  

Outlaw One became business like.  “You three, back over there with the rest.  Move it.”  He raised his voice to address all the passengers.  “This is nearly over folks.  Me and my friend are headin’ back to the train now.  We’ll be leavin’ your guns by the track.  Once we’ve rode off – y’all wait ten minutes then you can go back to the train for shelter.  Where’s the driver?”  

The driver stepped forward.  

“You know the drill, huh?  No one follows us.  It won’t take long to clear the logs from the track, but, when you do, we’ve pulled up a section further on – that’ll need fixin’ before you risk movin’ the engine.  I’m tellin’ you so you don’t risk it.  No need for anyone to get hurt.  The closest town is Wasatch – twelve miles in that direction.”  He pointed.  “Some young fellas should have plenty o’ time to fetch help before dark.  There’s a river close by in that direction,” he pointed again.  “So, you’ve plenty of water.”  His voice rose again to be heard by all.  “Tell your friends – if they ever get robbed by the Gentlemen Hellriders, all they gotta do is follow orders and no-one gets hurt, no one gets robbed.”

“Ahem,” coughed Outlaw Two

“No one who don’t got himself a friend with a real smart mouth gets robbed.”  

Both West and Curry scowled at Heyes.  The outraged innocence in the brown eyes had to be seen to be believed.  


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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Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico :: Comments

Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
Post Thu 25 Mar 2021, 10:37 pm by royannahuggins


“Gentlemen Hellriders?” mused Heyes.  “Can’t say I’ve heard of them, but, good name.”


“The safe-cracking wasn’t first class – otherwise, you gotta admit, a very professional job.”  He caught West’s eye.  “Not that I approve!  Tut!  Shameful.”


“But, if trains ARE going to get robbed, it’s always nice to see folks following good practice.”

“Will you just shut up?” snapped Curry.

The driver clicked shut his pocket watch.  “That’s ten minutes, folks.  I’ll need a couple of volunteers to join Joe…”  He indicated the fireman, a fit-looking fella in his early twenties.  “…Fetching help from Wasatch.”  

Several hands went up, including the Kid and Sam West.  The driver pointed, “You, you … you.”  Three young cowboy types, not in dishevelled and toddler-crumpled suits, strode over to join Joe.  “The rest of you with your hands up.  Thank you – consider yourselves on water fetching duty.  We’ll see what we have in the way of buckets.  Let’s get back to the train.”

“This is interesting,” remarked Heyes.  “We never usually got to see this part.”  He encountered a blue-eyed scowl.  “Just saying.”



A railway platform, late evening.  A sign showed this was now Salt Lake City.  

A conductor walked the length of a train, closing doors bearing the proud stamp of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad.  Two very, and one increasingly, familiar figures sprinted up holding their hats to their heads.  Breathless chests heaved.  Aching sides were clutched.  

Sam West was talking between gasps.  He gestured first at the clock, then at the train.  His hands clasped beseechingly.  The conductor held out his hand palm upward.  Sam reached into his jacket.  Searched.  Then the other side.  Horror on his face.  His shoulders slumped.  

Reaction shot on Heyes and Curry as their faces registered first realisation, then despair.    

Heyes began to talk.  And talk.  Smiles.  Dimples.  Expressive hand gestures.  The conductor shook his head.  Heyes tried to push past.  The conductor blew his whistle.  

A second conductor appeared in the door of the car.  Heyes took in the new opponent, slowly starting at the widely planted size 16 feet, travelling up six foot seven of pure muscle and arriving at a determined face with granite jaw under the peaked railway cap.  Heyes’ Adam’s apple bobbed.  He stepped back.  

Conductor one waved his flag, blew his whistle, stepped inside and the train pulled off.  

Billowing smoke cleared to show three disconsolate figures left behind on the platform.  


The threesome now sat on a platform bench.

“How could you lose our tickets, Sam?” groaned Heyes.  

“He didn’t exactly lose ‘em, Heyes.  They were in his wallet,” said Curry.

“Didn’t you think to take them out?”

“I had a gun pointed at me, Mr. Heyes.  You may take that in your stride.  I find it distracting.”

“You’ll have to telegram the Governor in Sacramento.  Tell him we may be delayed.  Tell him why.”

“If we don’t make the ceremony before six tomorrow evening, the reason why doesn’t matter.  Besides, I have no way of paying for a telegram.”

Heyes continued as if Sam had not spoken.  “Then telegram to Cheyenne, get more money wired over.”  A timetable was checked.  “If we catch the 6:10 in the morning, so long as nothing else goes wrong, we can still make it.  With time to spare.”

“Which part of Sam havin’ no money for telegrams are you not hearin’, Heyes?”

“You’ll need about ten dollars for the both.” Heyes' eyes scanned his surroundings.  They lit on a group of rough-clad men on the opposite platform.  A grin dimpled the Heyesian cheeks.  “Miners, heading back to Rock Springs.  Miners ripe for mining.  Wait here.”

“I can’t accept stolen money, Mr. Heyes.”

“Sam, I’m hurt.  We don’t do that anymore!”  Heyes strode off in the direction of the bridge between the platforms.

Kid Curry was watching activity around a freight train some platforms away.  “Wait here, Sam.  I’m just gonna check if maybe there’s an earlier train after all.”

“There isn’t.  The first passenger train west is the 6:10.”

“No harm in stretchin’ my legs.”  Off he strode.


We follow Sam West’s point of view as he watched:

On platform two, Heyes greeted a group of seated miners, eating sandwiches and drinking bottled beer.  They reacted cautiously.  Heyes, all smiles, produced a pack of cards and shuffled, talking non-stop.  He held out a fanned deck.  Laughter, head shaking – no takers.  

Back on platform one, a disappointed Sam, sighed.  He turned to watch Kid Curry on platform three.  

Curry was striding the length of a freight train.  He nodded at workman loading boxes.  Smiling, he offered the now crumpled bag of hard candy and fell into conversation.  

Sam shrugged.

Back on platform two, Heyes had singled out one miner about to peel a hard-boiled egg.  His mouth engaged in rapid silver-tonguing he reached out a hand, the very picture of friendly innocence.  Butter would not melt in that persuasive mouth.  The egg was handed over.  Heyes, licking it for luck, stepped over to a bench.  Several interested miners gathered around.  Laughter.  

Sam blinked.

Back to platform three.  Sam scanned – and ...  Nothing.  Kid Curry was no longer there.

Over to platform two.  Oh!  Nothing there either.  Only miners scratching their heads as they took turns trying and failing to balance an egg.  No Heyes.

“There you go, Sam.”  Heyes materialised on West’s left.  “Ten dollars.  Go send those telegrams.”

“Send ‘em quick,” said Curry appearing on the right.  “Get them to wire the money to Elko.  I got us an earlier train.  Leaves in fifteen minutes.”


Heyes, Curry and West were belly-down on a dusty patch of waste ground.

“Once the engine passes under the bridge, the driver can’t see the cars even if he looks back,” said Kid Curry.  “And the cars hide us from the station.”

“You want me to hop a train?” protested Sam.

“Relax, it’ll be doin’ less than two miles an hour.  Easy.”

“That’s not the point.  I can’t be caught in a criminal act.”

“You won’t be caught,” said Heyes.

“Sez you!  And, that’s not quite the point.”

“C’mon, Sam,” urged the Kid.  “We’re not askin’ you to rob it.  Just, ride on it.”

“Well, strictly speaking, I’m not sure it even IS criminal.  Certainly in Wyoming, it is categorised as a civil misdemeanour.”

“That’s the spirit,” smiled Heyes.

“It does seem to be – almost – a victimless crime.”

“Victimless misdemeanour,” corrected Heyes.

“Sure.  Nobody gets hurt,” said the Kid.

“Not quite nobody.  We’re defrauding the railways of their legitimate fare.”

“You already paid our fares.  We just parted company with the evidence.”

“That’s true.”  West brightened.  “I always wondered what it’s like to hop a train.”

“You’re about to find out,” said Heyes.  The train was chugging past, very slowly.  The engine entered the tunnel.  “Off you go, Kid.”

“It’s your turn!”

“Yeah, but I want Sam to see the master at work.”

Rolling his eyes, Kid Curry stood, ran up to the train, leaps, grabbed a handle, yanked open a sliding door, heaved himself in, lay on his belly and reached a hand to West who was running in front of an encouraging Heyes.  

“Gimme your hand… UP you come.  Nearly!”  A prone West’s waistband was grabbed and his flailing legs joined the rest of him in the train.  “There you go.  Well done!”

The Kid reached again for Heyes.  There was a well-practised locking of arms.  A leap.  A pull and…  Kid Curry slid the door back almost shut.  “And, we leave a gap, just for air and enough to see our hands in front of our faces.”

“I’m getting too old for this,” groaned Heyes.

The three men sat beside each other in the dimly lit car.  

“This way,” Kid Curry explained, “we get into Elko tonight.  Sam picks up his money.  Change of clothes for you two…”  

“If anywhere is open,” said Sam.

“We wake ‘em up.  You talk ‘em into openin’!  We can catch the 6:15 out of Elko.  Even if we don’t get the money in time for that, we’ll still be on the 8:02.  That’ll gain us a good three hours on waitin’ for the 6:10 outta Salt Lake…”

“Kid,” smiled Heyes.  “All that time you pretended not to care.  You WERE listening.”

A sound of – at best – flatulence echoed in the car.

Pause.  Heyes wrinkled his nose.  “Sam, was that you?”

“Certainly not.”

Oink.  Snort.

“Kid.  Have you got us sharing a ride with pigs?”

“No.  I have done this before, y’know.  We’re in car three – feed sacks.  Wait… There’s an oil lamp here.”

The sound of a match striking.  A lamp flickered, then was turned up to cast a rosy glow on the face of Kid Curry.  He raised it and …

A pair of liquid black eyes gazed at him.  A friendly wet snout nudged his hat.  

“I mighta counted from the wrong end,” admitted Curry.  

A long pink tongue licked his ear.  

“I think she likes you, Kid.  D’you need me and Sam to turn our backs?”  

Heyes received the look.  

Again, the sound of flatulence.  At best.  

“Sorry,” Curry told Sam.

“Not a problem,” said Sam.  Pause.  “You shouldn’t have apologised, I assumed it was the pigs.”

“I meant sorry for mistakin’ the…”  Realisation dawned on Curry’s face.  He grinned.  “You’re yankin’ my chain again.”

“Anyhow,” said Sam.  “This doesn’t smell half as bad as Annabelle, Jess(i)e and Monty the Skunk Skinner.”

“Give it an hour,” said Heyes.  “Mind you, since Annabelle and Jess(i)e pretty much soaked you two, it’s the pigs I feel sorry for.”


“I still have my pen,” said Sam.  “I might as well make some progress on that speech.”

“And, I’ve still got a pencil,” nodded Heyes.  “I’ll make a few notes on mitigating factors.”  Pause.  “What are you gonna do, Kid?”

In response, the Kid made himself comfortable, folded his arms, tipped his hat over his eyes and closed his eyes.    



Heyes had joined Kid Curry in the arms of Morpheus.  Sam was still occasionally making a note or a crossing out.  

The train shuddered.  A whistle.  One ex-outlaw awoke.  Stretching.  Blue eyes were rubbed.  

“Are we there?” asked Curry.

“I don’t think it can be far now,” said Sam.  He felt for his missing pocket watch.  His mouth pursed in mild frustration.  

He nudged Heyes, gently.  Nothing.

The Kid poked Heyes, a lot less gently.  

Sleepy brown eyes opened.  

“What time is it?” asked Sam.  

“Did you hafta wake me just to ask that?”

Sam gave him a pretty good version of the look.  “I’m only a bachelor, not a grieving widower, remember?”

“Sorry,” recalled Heyes.  He pulled out the memento from his poor dead wife.  “It’s a little after midnight.”  He stretched.  “How’s the speech coming?”

“It’s coming.  I put in about there being many kinds of men who came into the west, most having a little bad in them, but some having, nonetheless, good hearts.  Good-hearted bad men.  Do you like?”  

“I guess,” said Kid Curry, doubtfully.

“I am citing the evidence of my own eyes, for your good hearts, Mr. Curry.”


“Helping a tired mother with her luggage.  Holding a toddler.”

“It’s nothin’ you didn’t do, Sam.”

“But, more than that.  We could have been on the first wagon that arrived from Wasatch.  We could have made our train.  With everything you had at stake, you let that poor woman and her children go first.  You let that gentleman who was trying to make his granddaughter’s wedding go first.  You let that young cowboy who was going to miss out on a job he was counting on, and trying not to cry about it, go first.”

“It wasn’t just up to us...”

“It was.  You knew I could have pulled rank and got us on first.  The driver knew who I was.  You saw him come over.  You heard him offer me first seat.”  Sam turned.  “You knew, Mr. Heyes.  I saw the temptation on your face.  You both knew.”

A mute conversation.  

“Maybe we worked out you were watching – watching for us to do the right thing.”

“Maybe.  And maybe you said that just now, Mr. Heyes, in case I’d already considered it – which, I had.  You’re a clever man.  And, I still believe – one with a good heart.”    


“However…”  Pencil notes were fished from a pocket and handed back to Heyes.  “These almost changed my mind.  I’m sorry, I can’t use your Valparaiso section.”

“Why not?”

“You recall what I said about needing to be truthful and sincere?”

“We were at Valparaiso.  Straight up.” said the Kid.

“That is part of the public record, Mr. Curry.  I have no problem mentioning the loss of your parents and their continued guidance as a mitigating factor.  The problem is… Well, listen.”  West read from Heyes’ notes.  “Picture for yourselves two tiny orphans, shivering with cold, bereft and alone in a harsh, cruel world.  After eating their meagre portion of thin gruel, they gaze at their empty bowls.  Straws are gathered.  One trembling hand after another makes a choice.  The innocent waif that is Hannibal Heyes draws the short straw.  Bravely, he braces his thin shoulders.  Lip quivering, he limps to the front of the bleak hall.  Please Sir, he gasps, eyes huge in his angelic face, Please Sir, I’d like some more.”  

The sound of flatulence.  At best.  Snort.  

“She took the words outta my mouth,” said Curry.  “Sheesh, Heyes!”

Sam West lowered the notes and raised an eyebrow at Heyes.  “This is pure fiction, Mr. Heyes.  No, make that IMpure fiction.”

“It's artistic license,” amended Heyes.

“For Pete’s sake!  It’s Oliver Twist.  Mr. Heyes, I’ve visited Valparaiso.  It’s strict, but no one froze, no one starved and no one was offered gruel.  Most former Valparaiso boys learned useful trades, some entered the professions...”

“But, you see…” Heyes tried to interrupt.

“One even works in my own office.  Like me, he accompanied the Governor from Kansas.  He remembers you two.”

Heyes wriggled.  “What’s he said?”

“That you were both lazy, greedy, occasionally light-fingered, prone to lying to the authorities – but, on the whole, kind enough to the younger boys, not snitches and not bullies.”

The ex-outlaws exchanged a mute conversation.  

“Sounds about right,” said Curry.

“We’ll go with your version,” accepted Heyes.  “Good-hearted bad men.  That’s us.”

The juddering of the train increased.  A sound of braking.  Kid Curry pulled open the sliding door an inch or so wider.  “We’re comin’ into Elko.  Get ready to hop out.”  Over his shoulder, “Bye ladies!”



The threesome were now in a sheriff’s office.  A grizzled sheriff and his deputy scanned them.  

A set of cornflower-blue and a set of dark-brown eyes moved from the two silver stars, to two familiar wanted posters amongst the many on the wall.  An uneasy glance was exchanged.

Meanwhile, a plump gentleman in unfastened trousers pulled over a nightshirt, a dressing-gown and slippers was complaining, vociferously.

“They dragged me from my bed, Sheriff.  Demanded I open the bank and hand over money…”

“We did NOT drag you…” protested Sam.

“You kept hammering at the door and shouting until I had to come down…”

“We may have metaphorically dragged you from your bed…”

“Demanding money…”

“These two with the guns, did they threaten you?” asked the sheriff.  


“No!” protested the Kid.  

“The dark-haired one said if I didn’t open the bank, I’d be sorry.”

“All I said was, there’d be a telegram waiting for you from Cheyenne, and if you didn’t read it quick, you’d regret it,” said Heyes.

“And I told you to go away…”

“And then I said…” This was Sam.  “Fetch the sheriff.”

“That was him,” said the Kid.  “Not us.”

“We would never want to disturb a lawman from taking his well-earned rest,” agreed Heyes.

“Is there a telegram from Cheyenne?”

“I sent Frank to wake up Albert,” said the deputy.  To Heyes, “Albert runs the telegraph office.  He’ll know.”

“Listen,” said Sam.  “As I’ve explained, I am in the employ of Governor Moonlight…”

“Who?” asked the deputy.

“He’s the one from Wyoming,” said the sheriff.

“He’s meeting with the Lieutenant Governor of California – they will both be extremely grateful to anyone who renders us assistance…”

“So what?  We’re in Nevada,” said the deputy.

“The point is, I’m escorting these two gentlemen to keep a very important, VERY important appointment with the Governor.  My office has wired the Incorporated Bank of Cheyenne to instruct the bank here to advance me funds…”

“If you’re so dang important,” asked the deputy, “how come you ain’t got no funds?”

“They were robbed,” said the sheriff.  “They said.”

“By the Gentlemen Hellraisers…”

“The Gentlemen Hellraisers don’t rob passengers.”

“They made an exception.  It’s a long story.  Look, I do not like to pull rank, but, I’m a very influential man…”

The sheriff and his deputy examined the sorry figure of Sam West from head to foot.  

“Have you wet yourself?” asked the sheriff.


“You smell like you have.”

“Well, yes.  It IS human urine, but it’s not mine.”

“You borrowed it, huh?  Is that manure on your butt?”  

“It’s not been his best day,” said Heyes.

“Ours neither,” added Curry.

“As well as funds, we need a change of clothes, train tickets on to Sacramento…”

“Breakfast,” put in Kid Curry.

“Breakfast…” agreed Sam.  “Baths…”

“Sandwiches for the train.  And pie.”

“A packed lunch,” concurred Sam.  “Barber shaves…”

“How about a night in the cells?” suggested the sheriff.  

“A night in the… No!”

The office door opened.  An elderly gentleman, also evidently hastily dressed, entered.

“Howdy, Albert,” greeted the sheriff.  “Was there an urgent telegram for the bank?”

“Sure was.  There’s one for you too, Sheriff.”  

Both lawmen reacted with mild surprise as a telegram was handed over to the dressing-gowned bank manager.  

“It says I’m to hand over funds and any assistance required to Samuel West, Communications Director to the Office of the Governor of Wyoming.  Funds plus a handling fee will be reimbursed by that office.”  To Sam: “How do I know you’re this Samuel West?”

“Mine’s the same,” said the Sheriff.  “Leastways, the any assistance required part.  It gives descriptions of Samuel West and his two travelling companions – Smith and Jones.”  He looked at Kid Curry.  “Are you Smith?”

“No, that’s the other fella.”

“Five eleven, dark brown hair, brown eyes, even features, moderate build – no distinguishing marks.”  He scanned Heyes.  The brown eyes flickered to the identically worded poster.  An Adam’s apple bobbed.  “Fair enough.”  Turning back, “So you’re Jones?”  A nod.  “Five eleven, dark blond hair, blue eyes…”  Those same blue eyes flickered to their own poster.  A second Adam’s apple bobbed.  “Samuel West.  Dark hair and beard.  Balding…”

“I have a high forehead!”

“Uses too many long words…”

“It does NOT say that!”

“It ought to.  Okay, Mr. West.  The assistance of the bank and elected sheriff of Elko are at your disposal.  Let’s get you three cleaned up, out of my town, and back on your way to Sacramento…”



Our favourite two ex-outlaws were now in deep baths of modesty foam.  Kid Curry reached for a flannel with puckered pink toes.

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Pic_2_12


A barber finished shaving a glowing Hannibal Heyes with a final flourish of his razor.  He moved along to unwrap hot towels from Sam West, did a double take at the full beard, fluffed it, and moved along to unwrap Kid Curry.  


A tailor displayed a beautifully discrete grey suit to Kid Curry, who sported a gleaming white shirt over fresh long johns.  The Kid shook his head and pointed at an egregiously pale blue monstrosity with braid edging.  The tailor winced.  Sam West and Heyes, already freshly suited, exchanged a shrug.



The threesome now sat in a small café.  A yawning waitress, shawl wrapped around her nightdress, leaned on the counter.  Her face was a picture of boredom as the bank manager counted notes into her palm.  Heyes was studying timetables.  He glanced at a clock on the wall.  It was 5:20.  Sam West drummed his fingers and shifted in his seat.  Kid Curry reached for more bacon.  And biscuits.  And another egg.  The waitress held out her hand.  She was handed another dollar.  



The bank manager stood with Sam, Heyes and Curry at the ticket counter.  

“Three tickets to Sacramento, stopping at Winnemucca, Reno, Michigan Bluff.  Change at Roseville Junction.  Three return tickets Sacramento to Cheyenne, change at…”  The clerk grinned.  “Well, I guess you fellas know the way back?”

The bank manager paid the clerk.  He turned to Sam West, handed him a slim bundle of notes.  “Are you sure that’s enough?”  

“More than enough,” said Sam.

“More would be better,” said Heyes.

“I have a responsibility not to be wasteful with public funds, Mr. Smith.”  Sam checked a long receipt laid in front of him by the banker.  He signed.

“You fellas catching the first train?” asked the clerk.

“Uh huh.  The 6:15,” said Heyes.

A whistle sounds.

“She’s right on time!” beamed the clerk.



All three men were seated with room to spare in an otherwise empty car.  A vista of sage brush, dust and distant mountains rolled steadily past the windows.  

Clickety-clack, clickety clack.

“All we have to do is sit tight for seven hours and change at Roseville,” said Sam.  

“Don’t jinx it, Sam,” warned Curry.    

“You said our speech needed a few reminiscences,” said Heyes.

“Ye-es.”  Sam’s tone was wary.

“Let me share a few selfless deeds the Kid and I have done during the honest, hard-working years spent waiting on our amnesty.  Deeds done out of the goodness of our hearts…”

Sam rolled his eyes, but fetched out his notebook.

“I’ll begin with how we saved two little girls, and their mother, from being hanged…”

Kid Curry stretched out long legs, folded his arms and tipped his hat over his eyes.  



The train chugged away from a platform displaying a Winnemucca sign.  

“And so, the Kid and I had selflessly and bravely rescued and restored the post – without so much as a thought of any reward.  Sam, you’ve stopped writing…”

“Half hour since.  Have you only just noticed?”

“Have you had enough?”

More than enough, Mr. Heyes.”

There was a crack of laughter from under the brown hat.  Heyes gave the hat a look.  Slim legs were stretched out.  A black hat was tilted forward.    

Clickety clack.  



The train pulled into Reno station.  Car doors were opened.  Boot heels sounded on steps.  Porters called.  Conductors whistled.

There was the sound of feminine giggling.  A tan-gloved finger pushed up a brown brim.  The Kid smiled at a delightful red-head with curls bobbing under a blue beribboned hat.  She smiled back.  More feminine giggling.  A slim finger pushed up a black brim.  A dark-eyed lovely with raven ringlets under scarlet trimmings fluttered at Heyes.  She received the dimples.  

The ladies took seats across the walkway.  Giggling.  Two ex-outlaws straightened up and edged their butts towards the walkway.  

Sam rolled his eyes.  



Heyes and Curry now sat with the ladies.  Giggling.  Blue ribbons offered Kid Curry a cookie from a covered basket.  Scarlet trim listened, fascinated, to whatever Heyes was silver-tonguing in her ear.  

Sam was still in his original seat.  He watched sage brush flash past with a lack-lustre eye.  He winced as the giggling reached a particularly annoying pitch.  



We saw the scene from Sam’s point of view

Heyes and Curry were on the platform saying farewell to Blue Ribbons and Scarlet Trim.  Fluttering.  A kiss on the cheek was sneaked.  Giggling.  

Sam rolled his eyes.  Then… He frowned.  We follow his gaze.  A suited gentleman, clutching a piece of paper and flanked by two railway employees ran toward the front of the train.  Sam leaned to see more.  The driver and fireman were stretching their legs on the platform.  They read the paper.  Talking by the suited gentleman, with much urgent nodding from his two side-kicks.  The driver removed his hat and scratched his head.  He shrugged.  Nodded.  

A whistle blew.  The driver and fireman climbed back into the engine.  Sam returned his attention to two ex-outlaws.  He tapped the window.  

On the platform hands are pressed.  Regretful waves.  Another sneaked kiss.  The two ex-outlaws climbed back aboard.  They remained on the step, waving.  Slowly, with many coy glances over shoulders, the ladies walked away.  The train began to chug.   Still waving.  The train crawled out of the station.  Around a bend.  Still slow.

The masculine halves of two interrupted budding romances re-joined Sam, resuming their original seats.  

“Nice girls,” remarked Curry.  

“Do you think it right to toy with a lady’s affections in that manner?” asked Sam.

“Hey, Sam,” smiled Heyes.  “It was only two hours.  By now you know no one has a better opinion of how wonderful I am than me – but, even I assume Rosy might just about learn to love again.”

The chugging of the train remained very slow.  Juddering.  The car swayed.  Braking.  Slow became stationary.  

Three heads poked out of the window.  

Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico Pic_310

“We’re in a dang siding only fifty yards from the station!” said Heyes.


The threesome were no longer fifty yards from the station.  They were back on the platform at Michigan’s Bluff.  Sam, one of several disgruntled passengers, was arguing with the suited railway High-Up we saw deliver a message to the driver.  

The driver and fireman were listening, but their interest level was minimal at best.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen…”  The High-Up gestured everyone to calm down.  “I understand it’s annoying, and you can take it up with the authorities of the California Central Railroad with respect to compensation, but my orders are clear.  I’m to free the track for a through special from Cheyenne that was delayed yesterday.  It’s carrying guests of the Governor of Wyoming and is to be given priority passage by the order of none other than Leland Stanford.  I can only advise you all to wait back in the train with the other passengers.”

“It’s the way of the world,” chipped in the driver.  “It ain’t fair, but money talks.  Ordinary folk like you, you hafta wait.”

“But we’re not ordinary folks!  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  THEY…”  Sam indicated the hopeful ex-outlaws beside him.  “They ARE the guests of the Governor.  They’re the ones Mr. Stanford is pulling strings for.”

“This is the Communications Director of the Governor,” Heyes filled his voice with as much awe as he could muster.  “He’s a very, very influential man.  You should listen to him.  He’s the reason they stopped the train.  Tell him who you are, Sam.”

“I think you covered it, Mr. Smith,” said Sam, ungratefully, as he received hostile glances from several of the other passengers, who now took High-Up’s advice and started to troop back to the train, grumbling as they went.

“They’re the VIPs?”  The High-Up examined Heyes and Curry.  They put on their best smiles.  His eyes lingered on the braiding on Kid’s suit.  “They don’t look it.”

The sound of a train approaching at top speed.  Louder.  Louder.  Everyone stepped back from the edge of the platform as it barrelled through at an impressive speed, whistle shrilling.

Heyes and Curry stared, wistfully, after it as the steam cleared.

It was the turn of the fireman to chip in.  “Seems to me, if’n you fellas are this Governor’s guests, you’re on the wrong train.  You shoulda waited for the through special.”

“You reckon?” deadpanned Curry.

Heyes turned to the driver.  “Now that’s through, you can get us all back on our way, huh?”  

“Nope,” the driver returned his pocket watch to his vest.  “Mine and Jim’s shift officially ended five minutes ago, and since we’re not …” He was clearly quoting. ‘Currently in the course of a journey’… That’s us done.  C’mon, Jim.  I have a sister here in Bluff.  She’s a real good cook.”    

“Are you gonna let him just leave?”  Heyes asked High-Up.  

“He’s in his rights.  Besides, he doesn’t work for California Central.  He’s a Central Pacific employee.”

Heyes laid a friendly arm around the driver’s shoulders.  “My friend Sam will give you $200 if you climb back on your platform and drive us all to Roseville.”

“I haven’t got $200,” demurred Sam.

“How much you got?”  


“That bank manager offered you anything you needed!  Why have you only got $25?”

“I told you, I have a responsibility not to be wasteful with public funds.”

Heyes rolled his eyes.  He switched back to friendly and smiled at the driver.  “My friend will give you $25 to climb back on your…”

“Are you bribing a railway employee?” asked High-Up.

“Not one of yours.  Besides, you can’t call $25 a bribe,” said Heyes.  “I mean, who’d take it?”

“Not me, for one,” said the driver, trying to shake off Heyes’ arm.

“D’you want me to try?” Curry asked Sam, his hand tapping his holster.

“No!  Definitely not.  Mr. Smith.  MISTER SMITH!”

“Huh?”  A still silver-tonguing Heyes turned.  

“Cease talking that poor man’s ear off and let him go.”  

Released at last, the driver and fireman strode away.

“We’ll get a California Central driver out to you as soon as possible,” said High-Up.  “Meanwhile, I strongly advise you to wait with everyone else in the train.”

One of the uniformed railway workers flanking High-Up leaned in.  “D’you want me to shift over the driver from the Grider Freight run, Sir.”

“No, no.  That’s one of our most lucrative customers.  Get that out on schedule and fetch another driver for the passenger train.”

This conversation was low-toned but all three of our protagonists caught it.  Looks were exchanged.  



The platform was now deserted except for a couple of fellas loading boxes onto a freight train on another siding.  The front of the train, the engine, was over to the left.  No activity up there.  Heyes, Curry and Sam went over to the fellas loading.  

“Is this the Griders’ Freight,” asked Sam.

“Uh huh.  Mine equipment.”

“When is it due to leave?”

“About ten minutes.”

“Listen, we were on the delayed train to Roseville, and we’d be very grateful if you’d let us ride with the freight.”

“Ride on THIS wagon train?  Nah, you don’t want to do that.”

“We do,” said Curry.

“No, you don’t.  Y’see…”

Heyes interrupted.  “We’ll give you $25 to let us ride this train…”

“No, listen, you don’t wanna do that…”

“We know it won’t be a comfortable ride, and we know offering you money is wrong,” said Sam.  “However, we’re running out of options.”


“No!  No more buts!” snapped Heyes.  He took a deep breath.  “No offence, but if we hafta listen to one more annoying railway fella run his mouth at us – we’ll…  I don’t know what we’ll do, but you sure don’t want to find out.  So, here’s the plan.  You stop talking.  We climb in here.  We hand you $25.  You stay not talking…”


“You’re not getting the no more buts, no more talking bit.  You walk away.  You do it STILL not talking.  Understand?”

The fella stared at Heyes.  He shrugged.  He is handed $25.  As Heyes, Curry and Sam climbed into the freight wagon and sat themselves upon boxes, their heads disappeared below the top of the wagon sides.  The loading fella walked away.  “Don’t say I didn’t try and warn ya,” he grinned.  He signaled with a wave to other railway employees.  Over on the left an engine was uncoupled.  Over on the right an engine was shunted backwards.  


Heyes threw an apologetic glance at Sam.  “I guess I took it out on the wrong fella there.”

“You’re only human,” said Sam.  

There was a cry of, “Clear Away!  Move her out!”  The wagon sides juddered.

Sam pointed.  “Nearly there.  Sacramento is only sixty miles west…”

The train moved.  The camera pulled back.  Three faces, each one a picture of utter frustration, rose above the edge of the wagon sides as the train moved in the opposite direction to Sam’s pointing arm.  East.  



Three dusty figures trooped across the deserted platform of Michigan Bluff station.   All the way across.  Heyes pointed.  The delayed train was still there, fifty yards ahead in the original siding.  Heyes punched the air in relief.  

A new driver was striding towards the engine.  

Our threesome broke into a run.    

The driver had reached the engine.  

The run became a sprint.  

The driver mounted the platform.  

Heads were thrown back.  Hats were clutched.  

The train juddered.  

The sprint became desperate.  No.  No.  YES.

Heyes and Curry were on board.  One ex-outlaw grip grabbed Sam’s hand.  A second grasped the back of his collar.  He was pulled inside.  



They were back in their seats.  Dustier.  Sweatier.  But safe and sound.

“We’re pretty lucky the train was still here…” started Heyes.

“Heyes…” grunted Curry.

“Uh huh?”

“Stop talkin’.”



“We missed it?” despaired Heyes to yet another railway worker, this time on the Roseville platform.  “We missed the connecting train?”

“It left absolutely bang on time.”  A uniformed chest swelled.  “There ain’t nothing like the California Central railway for being bang on time!”

“Don’t,” breathed Heyes.  “Just – Don’t.”

“There’s another in five hours…”

“That’ll be too late.”

“Well,” the proud employee scratched his chin.  “It’s less’n twenty miles.  The Sacramento livery has a branch here, out on Main Street.  You could hire horses.”


MILES TRAVELLED:  1070 and a half      MILES TO GO:  18 and a half.

Kid Curry studied hire rates posted outside a livery office.  Heyes was surveying the street.  Some yards away was a building from which respectable females emerged in twos and threes, gathering to talk.  A poster announced ‘Roseville Ladies’ Benevolent Society – Weekly Meeting’.  

“How much do we need?” he asked the Kid.  

“Horse hire is $15 dollars a day – each.”

“Not that it matters since we’ve cleaned ourselves out,” said Sam.  He sighed.  

“Don’t beat yourself up,” said Heyes.  “It’s not all your fault.”

Both Curry and Sam double-taked at Heyes, then exchanged a mute conversation.

“Where are we going to find $45?  I haven’t even enough to telegraph my office again.”  

Kid Curry’s gaze shifted to linger, hungrily, on the bank.  

“I hope you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, Mr. Curry.”

“Nuh uh.  Just lookin’.  Call it, old times sake.”

“So I should hope.  There is no point to this journey if you are not truly reformed.”

“That’s it,” breathed Heyes.  “We’re reformed.  Kid, come with me.  I have a plan.”

Off they strode, a confused Sam following.


Heyes stood on an upturned soapbox. His collar was rotated through 180 degrees, transforming him into a minister.  He had already gathered a small crowd of mostly middle-aged ladies.

“Doesn’t the Good Book say: there is more rejoicing over one lost sheep returned, than over 99 who never stray?  Is it not the duty of us all – once a man has reformed – to support his efforts to stay on the narrow path?  Indeed it is, brothers and sisters!  Look at this youth…”  A sweeping gesture indicated the blond fella, hat humbly rotating in his fingers, who stood before Heyes.  “…Tell them, brother – how you were lost and then found!”

“I was a sinner!” declared Kid Curry.  “I drank.  I gambled.  I…”  He dropped his gaze, “I let myself be led astray by scarlet women…”

Tuts from several of the ladies.

“I was even…” the Kid was the picture of shame, his feet shuffled.  “A thief!  Yes!  I broke the Eighth Commandment for many years.  But, THIS man…” his voice swelled in joy, his hand lifted to indicate Heyes, his face shone with veneration.  “The fine, fine man you see here, HE persuaded me there was another way!  And – whenever I faltered – THIS man was always there, reminding me of my good resolve!”

Respectful murmurs.

Heyes gave a simper of modest self-deprecation before he carried on the plea, “All I ask is for any money you can spare – out of your generous hearts – to keep lost sheep like this…”

Curry smiled entreatingly at two particularly rapt-looking ladies.

“…Safe in the fold.  Look at him, ladies!  Still so young!”

Curry gave them the classic big, blue-eyed look.

“I can swear to you, with my hand on my heart, every penny you good folk give today will go to help reformed sinners.  Every penny will help prevent young men – like him – being once again tempted to turn to crime!”

The ladies opened their purses.


Kid Curry and Sam West were already in the saddles of two placid looking paints.  Sam’s lips were pursed.  “Aren’t you two even a little bit ashamed?”

“It’s not against the law,” said Curry.

“Not even a misdemeanour.”  Heyes tightened his girth.  “Think about it, Sam.  Every word I said was nothing but the honest truth!”

Sam’s forehead puckered as he mused on this.  Then, he nodded in acknowledgement.  He glanced at the church clock across the street.  “We’d better get going.”

Heyes swung himself into the saddle.  The three men trotted off and, at the end of the street, broke into a canter.”



Heyes reined in and checked his watch.  “Sheesh!  It can’t have taken us that long.”  He showed Kid Curry.

“Never say die, Heyes…”

The horses were urged on.


MILES TRAVELLED:  more than 1088    MILES TO GO:  less than 1

The three men were on foot running, their hats clutched to their heads.  

“How far from the livery to the Capitol?” gasped Curry.  

“There!  It’s there!  I can see the dome.”  A wheezing Sam pointed.  

“It looks near on half a mile.”  Heyes stopped, clutching his side, and checked his watch.  His shoulders drooped.  He dropped onto the nearest doorstep.  “Give it up.  It’s hopeless.  We can’t make it …”  

The Kid sank down beside him.  Then Sam.  

Heyes sank his head into his hands.  “Why do we even bother hoping, Kid?”

Kid Curry stared bleakly ahead.  “Beats me, Heyes.”

“There’ll be another chance,” wheezed Sam.  “You have my word.  I won’t let the Governor hold this against you.  I’ll get you that amnesty…”

“Nah.  No offence, Sam.  But, knowin’ our luck, the Governor will be outta office first.”

“Or, he’ll die of old age ‘cos the train journey back to Cheyenne takes so long.”

Nearby a clock tower bell chimed.  Dong.  

“There it is,” said Heyes.  “Six o' clock.  It’s over.”

Dong.  Dong.  Dong.  Dong.


Three foreheads puckered – waiting.  

Still silence.

Three heads turned in the direction of the bell.  Heyes checked his watch.  He looked again in the direction of the chimes.

“Heyes,” said the Kid.  “When we left Utah – did you ever reset your watch to Pacific Time?”

Sam and the Kid observed Heyes’ expressive face visibly ponder that question and mutely respond in the negative.  

A pause.  The camera pulled back.  In unison, three men jumped to their feet and started running.



• Thomas Moonlight served as Governor of Wyoming Territory from 1887 to 1889.  He was born in Forfarshire, Scotland.  His wife, Elizabeth, was born in Ireland.  He settled in Leavenworth County, Kansas in 1860 and served as the Kansas Secretary of State, and also as State Senator.  From January 1883 to January 1885 he was Adjutant General of Kansas.

• "The Big Four" was the name popularly given to the famous and influential businessmen, philanthropists and railroad tycoons who funded the Central Pacific Railroad.  Composed of Leland Stanford, Collis Potter Huntington, Mark Hopkins (died 1878, before this story), and Charles Crocker, the four themselves, personally preferred to be known as "The Associates."

• A system of one-hour standard time zones for American railroads was first implemented November 18, 1883.

• I suspect I have some of the trains going a little fast for the 1880s.  I looked it up and trains had a typical maximum speed of 75mh.  I have them doing less than that maximum, but possibly not quite enough less.  Still, it’s hardly a story which depends on strict historical accuracy, huh?

• Likewise, I downloaded myself a map and a ‘how to get from Cheyenne to Sacramento’ listing, and I looked up a few towns to check they had stations back in the 1880s.  BUT, I am not claiming the route the boys took is based on hard fact.  If they wobble off track, put it down to the fact that I live over the pond.

(Writers love feedback!  You can comment on Calico’s story by clicking the "post reply" button, found at the bottom left side of your screen.  You don't have to be a member of this site and you can be anonymous.  You can type any name in the box.)
Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
Post Sat 27 Mar 2021, 10:51 am by Penski
Bravo... Bravo... What a wonderful way to end the 2020 VS Season!  This story is full of great lines and visuals.  Heyes commenting on the train robbery was hilarious.  Thank you for contributing an "episode" this year!  


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Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
Post Sat 27 Mar 2021, 12:25 pm by Uk_rachel74
That was so good. Loved it.

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Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
Post Sat 27 Mar 2021, 7:58 pm by Laura
I enjoyed this immensely. Heyes just could not keep his mouth shut during the train robbery, I can understand Kids' frustration and Sams'. What a trip, they had so much too overcome. All of the other characters, the mother, the wet children, the smelly hunter, the portly man. Then there is the issue of the time change, how timely, What a hoot! Thank you for the laughs.

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Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
Post Tue 30 Mar 2021, 2:33 pm by Nightwalker
Wonderful story. Loved the boys suffering from the collateral damage they caused over the years, but never realised it. Heyes criticizing the train robbers was just great.

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Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
Post Sun 04 Apr 2021, 6:15 pm by Gemhenry
A very funny and amusing story, so many wonderful lines. Congratulations, a superb end to the 50th anniversary season.

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Re: Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico
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Ill Met By Moonlight by Calico

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