A Formula for Everything

“Hmm.”

Kid Curry looked up from the gun he was cleaning and cast a glance across the hotel room.

His partner, Hannibal Heyes, clad only in his long-johns and Henley, sat crossed legged on the double bed staring at a notepad he rested on his left knee. In his right hand he held a pencil with which he now crossed out something on the pad. A brow furrowed above brown eyes. “Hmm,” Heyes repeated.

Kid smiled and returned his attention to the parts of the Colt he had laid out before him on the table along with a cleaning cloth and gun-oil. Using the cloth he attended to the chamber.

“Hmm.”

“Somethin’ troubling ya?” Kid asked without looking up from the Colt.

“I’m not sure,” came the reply followed by the sound of a pencil scribbling on paper.

Kid applied some oil to the cloth and continued his work.

“Nope, nope, nope.” A pencil scratched something out.

Kid shook his head and smiled but said nothing.

A heavy sigh issued from the direction of the bed. A pillow was pummelled into submission. The bedsprings creaked and Heyes settled himself back against the pillow, legs stretched out in front of him and continued to write. “Three plus two more here…no we’d need less if…but then we could use…” Scribble scratch. Tap, tap, tap. The pencil made repeated contact with the paper. “Hmm.”

Slowly the Colt was reassembled. Kid gently squeezed and released the trigger.

Another heavy sigh emanated from his friend.

Placing his gun carefully on the table Kid turned to face the bed. “All right, Heyes what is it?”

The dark haired man gave his friend a puzzled look. “Huh?”

“You’ve been huffin’ and puffin’ over there like an ol’ steam train. What’s wrong?”

Pleased to have an audience, Heyes sat up straight. “You know how I told you there was always a formula for everything?”

“You may have mentioned it a time or two.”

“Well, I hate to admit this but I could be wrong.”

Kid raised an eyebrow. “You?”

“Yes.”

Kid smiled. “Guess you are human after all.”

“That’s not funny and this is serious.” Heyes moved to the edge of the bed and held up the notepad. “I’ve been trying to figure out how we can stop the train between Obsidian Falls and the Fowler Bridge.”

“And?”

“We can’t.”

“We can’t?”

“Nope. Not with the men we’ve got.” Heyes turned the pages of the notepad to reveal a crudely drawn map. Kid leaned forward to get a better view. “We need two on look-out, here and here.” Heyes tapped the map twice. “Three to place the tree across the line, here.” The map was tapped again. “Which means the train will have to be diverted here.” Tap. “You can board the train here.” Tap. “I’m waiting with the rest of the gang here.” Double tap. “You deal with the engineer, we board the box car, I open the safe, then we need two more men to cover our escape, here.” Tap. “Which means…” Heyes looked at his friend. “We need more men.”

“I board the train?”

“Yeah.” Heyes shook his head. “Kyle said he has a friend who might join us but knowing Kyle…”

I board the train?” Kid repeated.

“Yeah. Do you know anyone who could…?”

“What do you mean I board the train?” Kid asked, incredulous. He leaned over the map and tapped it hard. “Here!” He read what Heyes had written. “Narrow gulch?” He met his friend’s gaze. “Just how narrow is it? And why the heck am I boardin’ the train on my own?”

“What’s the matter?” Heyes asked, surprised by his friend’s sudden hostility.

“What’s the matter? You want me to board the train, on my own, in a narrow gulch!”

“That’s the plan, yes.”

“Since when?”

“Since I worked out we don’t have enough men to carry out my original plan. You’re going to have to deal with the engineer if the tree doesn’t cause him to divert the train.”

“And exactly how am I going to board the train in a narrow gulch? And before you answer that, Heyes, remember my gun is freshly cleaned and after you had me leap on a train roof that one time I made you a promise about what I’d do if you ever suggested it again.”

Brown eyes held blue ones. Blue ones did not blink.

After what seemed like at least 10 seconds Heyes picked up his pencil, looked down at his writing and crossed something out. He looked back at his now satisfied friend, “It’s like I said, Kid, it seems there isn’t a formula for everything after all.”

 

 

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