What Money Can’t Buy

What Money Can’t Buy

By Maz McCoy

Kid Curry stood at the window of the hotel room, looking out at the empty main street below. Rain lashed the window and the blond curly-haired ex-outlaw could understand why no one wanted to be on the street, in Porterville, this morning. Raising his hand to his face he unconsciously rubbed the bruise that was developing on his left cheekbone. Things were not going well. Turning away from the window he looked at his cousin, who still lay unconscious on the bed. The doctor, who had been tending to Hannibal Heyes, stood up and closed his bag. He looked up at Kid Curry and then at the sheriff who sat in an old arm chair near the door, almost as if keeping guard. Keeping someone out or someone in, the doctor wondered?

“I’ve done what I can for him for now. The head wound is not deep and I’m sure he’ll wake anytime soon.” He turned his attention to Kid. “When he wakes up, send someone for me. I’ll come back and check he’s all right. Make sure he rests if you can.” Kid walked to the door with him. The doctor nodded to the sheriff as he was about to leave.

“Thanks for your help Doc,” Kid said. “I do appreciate it.” The doctor, a young lean man who had arrived in town from a hospital back east, not too many months ago, smiled and departed. Kid turned back to look at Heyes and came face to face with sheriff Lom Trevors. The sheriff pushed him and Kid put up his hands to ward the man off. He made no attempt to defend himself as the sheriff shoved him, hard, against the door and held him there.

“Just what the hell have you done?” Lom asked as he pinned Kid against the door, his anger barely contained. He gave Kid no time to answer. “He hits you in the street and you do what? Wait for him here last night, then hit him over the head? Did you think trashing the room would make it look like a robbery? You nearly killed him Kid!” Kid Curry said nothing in his own defence. He just stood there and took it, as Lom pushed him again.

“I always knew you’d be the hardest one to change. Once a gunslinger, always a gunslinger, right?” This hurt Kid and it was the first thing Lom had said that got a reaction from the blond man. He glared at the sheriff and finally made an attempt to brush the man off.

“Hey, what are you doing to my partner?” a weak voice asked and both men looked towards the bed. Hannibal Heyes was awake at last. He looked a little bleary eyed and was obviously working hard to maintain his focus. “Lom, what are you doing to Kid?” he asked and the sheriff let Kid Curry go. Kid said nothing as he adjusted his rumpled shirt and moved away from the man wearing a star on his chest and stood beside the bed looking down at his partner.

“You alright?” Kid asked, concerned. Heyes smiled at him to reassure him.

“Got a bit of a headache,” he informed his partner and he reached up to feel the lump on the back of his head.

“Well, we know who’s responsible for that don’t we,” Lom said as he moved to the other side of the bed. Kid gave him a tired look but said nothing. “Can you remember what happened?” Lom asked hopefully.

“I came back to the room, opened the door…..” Heyes thought for a moment trying to remember. “I went towards the cabinet to light the lamp….and then a pain in my head and…” He raised his hands to show that he remembered nothing after that.

“So, you didn’t see who did it?” the sheriff asked somewhat disappointed.

“No. No I didn’t.” He looked from his old friend Lom Trevors to his partner and the realisation of what was going on between them, hit him. “You think it was Kid! Lom are you crazy?”

“Heyes, I know what’s been going on between you two. My deputy told me all about the fight you had. How you hit him. I can see that from the bruise you gave him.” He looked directly at Kid as he added. “And I heard about the threats that Kid made. I leave you alone for two days and you’re threatening to kill each other. So yes, I do think Kid did it.” He fixed his eyes on the blond outlaw and his hand moved to rest on the handle of his gun. Kid shifted uneasy at what looked like the real prospect of having to face down his old friend.

“Lom stop…and get your hand away from your gun before Kid shoots you. It’s not what you think.” The sheriff looked down at Heyes but kept his hand where it was.

“So what’s going on?” he asked.

“It’s just an act. Kid and I are not about to kill each other and I know he did not hit me.”

“How?” the sheriff demanded to know.

“Because he’s Kid,” Heyes stated as if nothing else was necessary. Lom still did not look convinced but slowly, he moved his hand away from his gun.

“I’ll go get the doctor,” Kid said and turned to Heyes to explain. “He’s only just left but he wanted to take a look at you again when you woke up.” Kid glanced at Lom and Heyes knew what he was thinking.

“I’ll explain it to him,” he said and Kid nodded to him gratefully.

“You should know it wasn’t me Lom,” Kid said as he reached the door. “After all, I’m a gunslinger. I’d of just shot him.” With that he opened the door and left. Heyes looked long and hard at his lawman friend.

“Just what exactly did you say to him?” he asked and Lom looked a little sheepish.

***

The reply to their regular telegram to Lom had asked them to come to Porterville. There had been no mention of their amnesty but they had ridden to the town as fast as they could, hoping to hear some good news. They arrived at night and found Lom Trevors still at his desk, in the Sheriff’s Office. As they walked in, the sheriff looked up and was obviously glad to see them. He shook their hands and ushered them to nearby chairs. Tired from days on the trail they sank into them gratefully. The jail cells were empty and they could talk freely.

“So what’s this all about Lom?” Heyes asked as he took off his gloves. The lawman thought for a moment. They had ridden to Porterville as he had asked now he hoped they would agree to his next request. He started to explain.

“Boys, I need your help,” the sheriff told them.

“With what?” Heyes asked.

“A man named Derek Madison owns a ranch a few miles to the west of town. In the last month two of his men have turned up dead. Now I know ranch work can be dangerous and these men were new to the ranch so probably a little green, but there’s something about it I don’t like. A couple of the saloon girls tell me these boys had been talking about leaving Madison’s ranch. Said they did not like what was going on out there; they didn’t want any part of it.”

“Any part of what?” Kid asked, tipping his hat back as he leaned back in the chair.

“I don’t know Kid. I’ve heard rumours about a big job being planned. Tales of ammunition arriving in the night but they’re just that, rumours. I need something concrete to go on and I don’t think there’s much time left before this ‘big job’ takes place.”

“And that’s where we come in?”

“Yes Heyes, it is.”

“What do you know about Madison?” Hannibal Heyes asked as he linked his fingers together in thought.

“Not a lot. He bought the ranch about a year ago. He comes into town roughly once a month to do business and then leaves. Keeps very much to himself and I’ve had no call to really get to know him. He doesn’t attend any of the social events either.”

“Lom, if there is something illegal going on Kid and I are the last people that should get involved, you know that,” Heyes reminded him.

“You’re right of course, Heyes but this is something I’m asking you to do and I’ll be sure to let the Governor know you have been helping us.” Heyes looked at his partner who shrugged.

“Tell us what you want us to do and then we’ll decide,” the ex-outlaw leader said.

***

Lom had asked them to join Madison’s outfit and see what they could find out. Heyes pointed out that the last two new men to join the ranch were both dead but the sheriff had every confidence that, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, could take care of themselves more than a couple of green cow hands. Neither man was totally convinced by Lom’s confidence in them.

So they rode out to Madison’s ranch posing as a couple of drifters looking for work. Not long after crossing a small stream, that marked the border of Madison’s land, they realised they were being followed.

“You see anyone back there?” Heyes asked as Kid turned casually in his saddle as if just stretching his tired limbs.

“Two men, I think,” his blond partner told him. “Quite a way back but they are definitely following us. Want to say hello?” Heyes smiled.

“Why not?” the dark-haired man said and they pulled their horses off the trail and into the trees.

The men rode unwittingly into their trap. As they rounded a bend, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, rode out in front of them, guns drawn.

“Hold it right there boys,” Heyes said and the men pulled their horses up sharp. They exchanged looks, clearly not sure what to do. “My partner and I were wondering why you were following us,” Heyes told them.

“We weren’t,” the thinner of the two said. He had long blond hair and a gaunt face with a sharp nose. His clothes hung loose on his body as if he had lost a lot of weight in recent months. “We’re riding back to work.”

“Where d’you boys work?” Kid asked.

“We work for Mister Madison,” the stouter man informed him. He had dark brown hair and closely clipped moustache. His eyes shifted nervously between Heyes and Kid.

“Well now that’s a real coincidence,” Heyes said brightly. “Because we are on our way to Madison’s ranch. Ain’t that right Thaddeus?”

“It sure is Joshua,” his partner said neither taking his eyes off the men nor lowering his gun. Heyes holstered his own gun and smiled at the men.

“What do you say we all ride in together? Then you can introduce us to your boss.” Neither man liked the idea of riding in with the men they were supposed to be following and then having to admit to their boss that they had been found out, but what else could they do? Smiling nervously they agreed. “What are your names?” Heyes asked them.

“I’m Sam Collins and this is Buck Brown,” the thin man said.

“I’m Joshua Smith and this here is my partner, Thaddeus Jones,” Heyes said introducing themselves. “Thaddeus, put your gun away I think you’re scaring these boys a little.” Which was precisely, what he intended to do. Slowly Kid holstered his gun and the men noticeably relaxed.

***

Madison’s ranch had once belonged to the Randall family and the house still bore all the elegant splendour, so loved by the previous owner. It was a large house with a long covered porch and four steps up to a grand double door. There was a bunkhouse near the stable and barn, a newly built storage shed and a corral, currently filled with wild horses, one of which was being selected for breaking. A row of ranch hands sat on the fence arguing over whose turn it was to try to ride the next horse.

Sam and Buck led them towards the bunkhouse as a man came out of the main house, trotted down the steps and walked with an air of authority towards them. Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry stayed in their saddles as Sam and Buck dismounted and tied up their horses.

“Sam, Buck,” the man said acknowledging them as he approached. He was a handsome man; over six feet tall of muscular build with short sandy brown hair hidden beneath a dark brown cowboy hat. He looked Heyes and Curry over waiting for an introduction.

“Joe, these men are looking for work,” Sam told his boss. “We met them on the trail coming in.” Joe knew, as well as Heyes and Kid, that Sam and Buck had been watching the trail and ‘meeting’ them was probably the last thing they had expected to do.

“Howdy,” Heyes said brightly and Joe turned to look again at the strangers.

“That right? You looking for work?” he asked them.

“If you’re hiring,” Heyes told him.

“Well, we can always use good men,” Joe replied. “You ever done any ranch work?”

“Oh yeah. We’ve been on cattle drives, roped horses, mended fences, you name it we’ve probably had a go at it,” Heyes told him cheerfully. Joe nodded but also noted that the blond-haired man had kept quiet, his eyes taking in all that went on around him; ever watchful.

“What are your names?” Joe asked.

“I’m Joshua Smith and this here’s Thaddeus Jones.” The blond man looked at Joe and nodded at the mention of his name.

“I’m Joe Reever. I’m the ranch foreman. Get on down boys and I’ll show you where you’ll bunk and where you can stable your horses. Might even tell you about the pay too.” He smiled and they dismounted.

An hour later Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes had their things stowed in the bunkhouse and were helping to load supplies onto a wagon. There were rustlers operating in the area and Joe had sent some of the men out to stay with the herd and keep watch. The supplies were to be taken out to them, later that day.

“You told the sheriff about the rustlers?” Heyes asked conversationally as he hefted a sack onto the wagon.

“No need,” Joe told him. “We handle these sort of things ourselves.”

“I just thought the other ranchers might want to know. I mean …”

“You’re not paid to think Smith,” Joe said cutting him off sharply. “Now get the wagon loaded.” He walked back to the main house. Heyes and Kid exchanged a look.

“Well that told you Joshua,” Kid pointed out unnecessarily.

“Yeah, but just what did it tell me Thaddeus? That’s the interesting point.”

***

The next day Heyes and Kid found themselves assigned to cleaning out the stables, a job neither man was keen on but one which gave them the opportunity to talk to several of the hands including Tom Rawlins who had worked with Derek Madison for some years and Cliff McBean, Joe Reever’s second in command.

Rawlins was in his forties and had worked with cattle and horses all his life. He was a personable man with too much weight around the waistline and too little hair on his head than he would have liked. He also talked almost as much as Heyes, a fact Heyes was grateful for as he pumped Rawlins for information.

“You sure ask a lot of questions Joshua,” Rawlins said as he swung a hay bale into a stall.

“My mother always told me that was the only way a boy would learn anything,” Heyes replied and he soon learnt that Madison once owned a ranch in Arizona and that he had made his money gambling on the riverboats back East.

Cliff McBean on the other hand was a surly character several years older with thinning grey hair. He liked everyone to know that he was Joe’s right hand man and when he gave you an order, he expected you to follow it, no questions asked.

Over the next few days Joe and McBean had them doing all manner of jobs as they assessed them. As well the odd jobs they did around the ranch, they were expected to fix fences, herd cattle and take their turn at breaking the horses. Each night Heyes settled down to the friendly poker game that went on in the bunkhouse, during which he hoped to glean more information about the possible big job. For his part, Kid crawled exhausted into his bunk.

So far they had discovered nothing to suggest that any job was planned and with Saturday night approaching, and time off in town already promised to them, Heyes felt they needed something to tell Lom when they saw him. When McBean had them cleaning out the stalls yet again, Heyes saw this as his chance to take a look inside the recently built storage shed. They had watched Joe and McBean go inside after casting furtive glances around them. They had seen some plain boxes carried in but that was all.

“Kid, cover for me and keep an eye out. If anyone comes this way let me know,” Heyes told him.

“I know how to cover your back Heyes,” Kid reminded him. “I’ve been doing it all my life.” Heyes smiled at his partner and he darted towards the storage shed. The wood still had that newly cut smell about it and the padlock was still shiny. Heyes removed a trusty tool from his boot and the lock was soon open. After a quick glance around, to make sure the coast was clear, he opened the door and slipped inside. There were several identical plain boxes piled up near the door, a couple of new saddles, a lot of new saddlebags and that was it. It was strangely empty, as if someone had had the store built but then had no idea what to use it for. Heyes took a closer look at the boxes. There were no markings on any of them. With a little persuasion the lid of one came open to reveal boxes of ammunition. “Enough for an army,” Heyes thought. There were four wooden boxes placed apart from the rest. He moved towards them and saw familiar markings and the word “dynamite” stencilled on their sides. Now why would anyone want four boxes of dynamite and that much ammunition?

The sound of voices caught Heyes ear and he peered through the crack in the doorway. McBean was heading towards the barn, giving orders as he went. When he disappeared inside Heyes slipped out of the store, replaced the padlock and turned…at the very moment McBean re-emerged from the barn.

“Hey Smith, what are you doing?” he demanded to know, striding towards Heyes.

“Nothing,” Heyes told him, trying to sound as casual and innocent as he could.

“Don’t lie to me. Were you trying to get in there?”

“No, I was looking for another pitchfork and I thought maybe you had one in…” but McBean was on him by then and shoved Heyes back against the door.

“What were you up to?”

“Nothing. Look McBean, I told you I was just looking for a pitchfork.”

“I don’t believe you,” the other man snarled. By now Kid had heard the commotion and stood behind them.

“What’s the problem?” Kid asked as other hands appeared around them, drawn by the sound of raised voices.

“This is nothing to do with you,” McBean said.

“When you start pushing my partner about, it has everything to do with me,” Kid told him.

“Thaddeus, it’s fine. I told him I was just looking for a pitchfork but he won’t believe me,” Heyes said to Kid, looking over the large man’s shoulder to do so. His message to his partner was clear. Stay out of it.

“You were snooping about,” McBean stated his hand firmly in Heyes’ chest holding him against the door. Heyes contemplated pushing him off but did not want to start a fight.

“Cliff, this is just a misunderstanding,” Heyes said pleasantly, trying to calm the man down.

“Don’t tell me what I saw. You calling me a liar?” McBean asked angrily and both of the ex-outlaws detected the change in his voice and knew things were not about to calm down.

“McBean, take your hand off him,” Kid said calmly but the other hands moved in closer sensing a dangerous change in the situation. “You hear me McBean?”

Reever’s second in command removed his hand from Heyes chest and Hannibal Heyes shook his head at his partner pleading with him not to do, what he knew he was going to. McBean turned to face Kid who stood in front of him, with his arms folded across his chest.

“You telling me what to do boy?” McBean asked, with a hint of disbelief in his voice.

“I was asking you to let my partner go. Now you have, perhaps we can get back to work?”

“Not so fast.” McBean glared at Kid. “You don’t tell me what to do. In fact you don’t tell me anything do you understand?”

“Yes,” Kid told him.

“That’s some pretty fancy metal you’ve got hanging on your hip there son,” the grey-haired man said, shifting his stance as his hand moved to hang beside the six gun he wore. “I sure hope you know how to use it.”

“I do,” Kid told him and in that moment the man began to wonder if he had misjudged the younger man. Maybe he was not as green as he thought, after all. “But I don’t intend to use it today. Can we get back to work?”

“Not until I’ve finished with you,” Cliff McBean told him. “You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you? Think you’ve got one up on me. Well let’s see how smart you are. You’re fast with that mouth of yours, let’s see how fast you are with that gun.”

“Cliff,” Heyes pleaded. “Please, we didn’t mean any harm. I’m sorry if you thought I was snooping but….”

“Shut up Smith. I’m dealing with your partner now.” He held Kid’s gaze determined to see this through.

“Joshua, move away,” Kid told him calmly as he began to remove the glove from his right hand.

“Thaddeus, don’t,” Heyes pleaded.

“Get moving Smith,” McBean told him and Heyes looked at Kid. No words were needed for Kid to assure him that it was all right. Kid tucked his glove into his belt. Reluctantly Heyes moved from behind McBean and out of Kid’s line of fire but his partner was well aware that Heyes was not happy about it.

“Anytime you feel ready,” McBean told him his hand beginning to twitch.

“I don’t want to draw on you,” Kid said flatly.

“Well, you should have thought about that before you opened your big mouth.” The two men stood facing each other, unaware that Joe Reever had seen them from the ranch house and was heading towards them. McBean reached for his gun but Kid had his in his hand before the older man’s had cleared his holster. McBean was dumbstruck, as around him, some of the hands, whistled in admiration and awe at Kid’s speed.

“What’s going on here?” Reever demanded to know as he reached them. “Put your gun away.” Kid slowly re-holstered his gun, keeping an eye on McBean as he did so. The ranch foreman looked from one man to the other.

“You two get up to the house, now. The rest of you men, get back to work.” Reluctantly the men moved away. Heyes stood a little to one side. “Smith, that includes you,” Reever told him and Kid nodded to his partner as he moved to follow Reever and McBean to the main house.

“I watched you. You handle yourself well,” Joe told Kid as they stood in the parlour of the Madison house. Reever had sent McBean off after a few sharp words. The blond man said nothing. “I could use a man like you.”

“I already work for you,” Kid pointed out.

“I have a different job in mind.” He looked at Kid, clearly weighing him up and trying to decide how much he should trust him. “Would you be bothered by something that wasn’t totally legal?”

“Depends on what you had in mind. Would anyone get hurt?” Kid asked.

“We don’t plan to kill anyone, if that’s what you mean? There could be some shooting and I can’t guarantee everyone’s safety,” Joe told him honestly.

“Sounds like there’d be an element of danger involved,” Kid observed.

“Having seen how fast you are with that gun, I wouldn’t expect that to bother you but you’d be well paid,” Joe told him, realising what Kid was driving at.

“I’d expect to be.” Kid’s bluntness pulled Joe up sharp. “So what’s the job?”

“Are you in or out?”

“I have to decide before you’ll tell me?”

“Yes.”

“What about my partner?” Kid asked.

“This is just between you and me. He’s asking too many questions just now.”

“You can trust him.”

“You trust him if you want to. I don’t and that’s what counts.” Kid thought about this.

“How much do I get paid?” he asked

“One thousand dollars.” It was Kid’s turn to be impressed.

“How many men involved?”

“Twenty.”

“And do we all get paid the same?”

“You do.”

“So this is something pretty big?” Kid was obviously impressed.

“Definitely.” Kid’s mind was racing. What could it be?

“All right I’m in,” he told Joe and they shook hands.

“Be back here at nine o’clock tonight. This stays between us. You don’t talk to your partner about it do you understand?” Kid nodded. “If I find out he knows anything about this you’re out,” Joe told him.

As Kid walked back to the bunkhouse, he wondered what he had just agreed to.

***

“What happened?” Heyes asked later when they were finally alone in the bunkhouse.

“We had a little talk,” his partner said, easing himself onto his bunk.

“And?” Heyes asked eagerly as he sat on the next bunk.

“And I’m not supposed to talk to you about it,” Kid told him. He watched the expression of disbelief form on his partner’s face as for a moment, Heyes believed Kid was not about to share his news with him. Kid could not keep this up for long and a smile broke out on his face.

“Heyes, you should see your face!” he said and Hannibal Heyes tried his best not to look hurt. “I’m in,” Kid Curry told his partner.

“In what?”

“I’m in on the big job. There’s a meeting tonight up at the house.”

“That’s great Kid.”

“There’s just one thing.” Heyes looked concerned. “You’re not wanted. Reever doesn’t trust you. You’ve been asking too many questions. You have to admit he’s got a point.”

“Okay, but at least you’re in.” He saw a concerned look on his younger cousin’s face. “What’s the matter?”

“I think you should leave.” Heyes said nothing. “They don’t trust you. Maybe they didn’t trust the last two guys.” Heyes considered this.

“You’ll need someone watching your back,” he pointed out.

“I also need my mind on the job, not worrying about you; about what they might be planning for you.”

“All right, maybe I could keep a better eye on things from outside but they’ll get suspicious if I leave now.”

“You’ll think of something,” Kid told him confidently.

“I think it might be time you and I had a fight,” Heyes said and Kid knew exactly what he meant.

***

That night, Kid Curry found himself sitting in the parlour of Madison’s house, along with ten other men, as Joe Reever explained the plan. Sitting quietly to one side was a man Kid had not seen before. He was around fifty years old with a thick head of well-groomed grey hair and an equally grey moustache. He was of slim build and wore an expensive looking suit. This was Derek Madison. Joe introduced Mr. Madison who in turn explained that there were certain documents, travelling by train, through Porterville next week; documents he wanted. There also happened to be a large sum of money on the same train. They would be holding up the train, raiding it for the documents kept in the safe on board and the money, which Madison thought of as just an added bonus, would be shared out between the men. Kid wondered what documents would be so valuable that an already wealthy man was willing to risk so much for them. Madison was not about to share that information with him or anyone else for that matter.

At the end of the evening, the men were told to wait for further instructions and not to discuss it with anyone. Joe gave them all an ominous warning.

“If we find out any of you have discussed this outside of this room, we’ll kill you.” Having watched the men leave McBean spoke to Reever alone.

“I don’t like having Jones in on this, I don’t trust him,” he told the foreman.

“Jones is fine. I had a word with him this afternoon. He knows the score and you know how good he is with that gun.”

“What about his partner, Smith?”

“Him, I don’t need. What use would he be to us holding up a train?” Reever had no idea just how useful the man calling himself Joshua Smith could have been. “Take him out of the picture and I don’t think we’ll have any trouble with Mr. Jones.”

***

On Saturday night a group of men from Madison’s ranch, including Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones, rode into Porterville. When they reached town, two of them stopped in at the sheriff’s office, and Lom’s deputy told Smith and Jones that the sheriff had been called out of town to give evidence at a trial. He was due back sometime the next day and had left instructions for them to see him as soon as they could. With time for themselves at last, they joined the rest of the ranch hands in the saloon. Having already organised a room at the hotel, they got a beer, joined a poker game at a corner table and sat back to relax. An hour later Heyes gave Kid an almost indistinguishable nod and Kid excused himself from the next hand and stood up to leave. Heyes caught his arm as he passed him.

“What about my money?” he asked and the other players looked up sensing an edge in the man’s voice. Kid shook off his arm.

“I told you, you’ll have to wait.”

“Well, you’ve just won more than enough to pay me back,” Heyes pointed out but Kid Curry just smiled and walked off. Apologising to the others at the table, Heyes excused himself from the next game and trotted after Kid. The poker players could see the partners exchanging words at the saloon doors before the blond man strode off angrily and the dark-haired man followed him.

“Hey, what does that mean?” Hannibal Heyes asked, his voice raised as they stepped out of the saloon onto the dark street. His voice grew louder, attracting the attention of others in the town square.

“You know what it means,” Kid countered. He was trying hard to sound angrier than he was.

“No, I don’t. Why don’t you spell it out for me?”

“You’re too stupid to understand.” Kid liked that one.

The punch caught Kid by surprise and he staggered backwards. Heyes shook his hand, the punch having hurt his knuckles. Kid felt his face where the blow had landed. He stared at Heyes who waited for the returning blow but Kid just stood there glaring at him as a crowd, which included one or two men from the ranch, gathered around them watching expectantly. Kid’s eyes met Heyes’ and his hand dropped unconsciously to his side. He had not expected the punch and Heyes had not meant it to be so hard.

“What’s the matter Thaddeus? Scared to fight me?” Heyes asked pushing his partner just that little bit more, well aware that Kid’s hand was dangerously close to his gun and not quite sure how angry his partner was now.

“Oh, no,” Kid said, an ominous smile on his face. “I just get my revenge in a different way.” He turned and walked off leaving those around Heyes to ponder on what that meant. Heyes was not sure either. It certainly was not part of their plan. Kid was supposed to hit him back. Damn it Kid, it was only supposed to be an act.

***

When Hannibal Heyes could not find his partner he returned to the hotel room. In the dark room, he fumbled for the lamp and was preparing to light it when he heard a noise, spun around and felt a sharp pain on the back of his head before he lost consciousness.

About ten minutes after the lights went out for Hannibal Heyes, Kid Curry opened the door and also fumbled for the lamp. As he reached the cabinet on which it stood his foot made contact with something on the floor. Kid lit the lamp and looked around. The room was a mess, clothes thrown from drawers, a chair turned on its side and Heyes lay face down near the window.

“Oh no. Heyes?” Kid dropped to his side and shook him gently. Then he saw the blood in his partner’s hair. “Heyes?”

***

“Are you all right?” Heyes asked his cousin, who stood at the window staring out at nothing in particular.

“Aren’t I supposed to ask you that?” Kid asked in reply, turning to face his partner who was now sitting up in bed.

“I meant about Lom.”

“I know what you meant,” Kid told him, still wounded by the sheriff’s words.

“Lom was angry Kid. He didn’t know what he was saying.”

“He knew,” Kid said. “I’ve been thinking. Maybe Lom’s not the only one who feels that way. Maybe the Governor does too. When this job is over we need to talk. Maybe you really would have a better chance of amnesty on your own.”

“Now don’t you get thinking that way.” Heyes was angry and concerned about his cousin. “If we have to split up then I don’t want the amnesty. You said it yourself once, bad things happen when we split up.”

“Yeah, well they’re not exactly perfect now are they.” He sank down into the armchair. Heyes pulled himself up on the bed.

“Kid, this is just a set back.”

“Oh yeah, you getting cracked over the head and me being arrested by Lom; that’s what I call a set back.”

“You know what I mean. You’re still in on the job, right?”

“As far as I know,” Kid admitted.

“So, I got hit to keep me out of the way but they still want you. So you ride back to the ranch tomorrow and get on with the job and we’ll show Lom and the Governor, what we can do.” Heyes waited for the idea to sink in, watching for a change in Kid’s expression.

“Maybe you’re right Heyes,” his partner finally relented.

“There’s no maybe about it and you know it Kid,” Heyes said pleased that his partner was coming around to his way of thinking.

***

Kid rode back to the ranch the next day. Heyes, who was out of bed and back to his old self, had finally persuaded Lom to let Kid go. They wanted to finish the job they had started. It was agreed that Heyes would ride out later that day, on the pretext of claiming the money they pretended Kid owed him. Kid would see him off and pass on any information he had.

When he reached the ranch everyone seemed to be going about their normal business. When he saw Kid approach, Reever beckoned him over and in full view of the men, though not within hearing distance, he grilled him about what had happened in town. When he was satisfied that Kid was still worth the risk, he sent him back to work.

The news came through that afternoon. The train they were after was due the next day and they would hit it at a spot where it slowed to go up a steep incline. Kid let the information register and went about his work.

Later, when he was sent out with a message to the group watching the herd, Kid spotted a familiar figure on the horizon. Pretending to ignore him, he rode into the camp. Having delivered his message Kid accepted the cup of coffee he was offered and stood chatting to the cook, one eye on the distant hills.

“Hey Jones, isn’t that your friend?” one of the men asked pointing to where Heyes sat on his horse, some distance away. “I saw you two fighting in town. Didn’t someone tell me Reever fired him?”

“Yeah he did. I bet he still thinks I owe him money. I’ll get rid of him,” Kid said feigning annoyance. He rode out to meet Heyes as the others looked on.

“Try to look annoyed with me,” Kid told him after they exchanged a greeting.

“Well that should be easy,” Heyes replied throwing his hands up in the air in a dramatic gesture that he knew the men would see. Kid told him when and where the train was going to be held up.

“Lom’s got a group of men together, ready to board the train further up the line, once I tell him which one it is. I’ll be waiting by the track with Lom and a few others.” Heyes paused for a moment and looked at his partner. “Kid, be careful.”

“You too.” They parted, Heyes riding off first after one final dramatic wave of his hands.

***

The next day everyone was ready. The men sat on their horses waiting for a final word from their boss. Reever called Kid over to him.

“Jones, a word,” he said and Kid rode towards him. Reever took him back to the house and would say nothing until they were in the parlour and the door was shut.

“There’s been a change of plan,” the foreman stated. “You won’t be holding up a train after all.” Kid looked confused because he was.

“If it’s about what happened in town…” he began but Reever cut him off.

“It’s nothing to do with that. I have a different job for you,” Reever explained. “There’s a stage on its way to Porterville right now. McBean is taking a few men to stop it. I want you to be one of them.”

“What’s on the stage? A payroll?” Kid asked, his mind still struggling with the change of plan.

“No. People; two in particular. Mrs. Pamela Dumas and her son Leo. You take them off the stage, you don’t hurt them and you take them to a rendezvous point.”

“What about the train?”

“You let me worry about that. I want you and your gun with McBean. Now get going.” Kid knew there was nothing he could do about the change of plan. Heyes and Lom would be waiting for the train to be attacked. They would have no idea about the stage and he had no way of letting them know. He could do no more than do as he was told, go along with the plan and do whatever he could to see no harm came to the people on the stagecoach.

McBean glared at Kid Curry as he approached his horse. Clearly the man was not happy to have him along. There were just five of them in his group McBean, Jones, Buck, a tall thin man named Ellis who had proved himself to be a natural with horses, and Drury a dark-haired man with little to say for himself but a real master with a rope. With a nod from McBean they rode out.

Reever stood and watched them go. When they disappeared from view he turned to the waiting men.

“Alright men, you can dismount,” he told them. No one moved. A few exchanged confused glances. “There isn’t going to be any train hold up. Don’t worry, you’ll still be paid.” Still not sure what was going on but happy that they would be paid, the men climbed off their horses. Reever smiled to himself; the false trail had been laid. If anyone had passed on information about the hold up, then the law would be watching the train and not the stage. It was too late for them to do anything about it now.

***

The stage moved quickly along the dirt road leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. The driver did not see the riders until it was too late and they were upon him, riding either side of the horses. Drury leapt from his horse to sit beside the driver, a gun swiftly in his hand, pointed at the man holding the reins. The driver pulled the stage to a halt.

“Alright folks, everybody out,” McBean told the passengers and slowly the door opened and nervously the passengers climbed out. There were two men; one an elderly gentleman with the look of a retired clergyman about him, the other younger man was probably a travelling salesman of some sort. The women climbed out next. The elderly lady was clearly the clergyman’s wife. The younger woman was slim and elegant, her brown hair held up with a pin and despite the rigours of stagecoach travel she appeared remarkably well groomed. Mrs. Dumas, for that was clearly who she was, carried herself with an air of confidence. She looked defiantly at the men on horseback. Finally a young boy appeared in the doorway of the stagecoach. He was about nine years old, his black eyes scanning the men with a mixture of fear and excitement.

“You,” McBean pointed at Mrs. Dumas. “Get over there.” He indicated that she should move away from the group to where Kid Curry waited on his horse. Mrs. Dumas stood her ground. “Lady, move or we’ll shoot you.”

“I doubt you’d have the courage to do that,” she told him, drawing some sniggers from the other men.

“Then we’ll shoot your son instead,” he replied. Her resolve faltered as she moved to stand in front of the man’s horse. Seeing a possible stand off developing, Kid slid from his saddle and approached the attractive young woman.

“Ma’am, we need you and your son to move over here,” Kid said and she fixed him with a distasteful stare. “Please,” he added taking hold of her arm. She shrugged him off and, taking her son’s hand in hers, moved to where Kid indicated.

“Throw down the lady’s bags,” McBean ordered and the driver did as he was told. “Alright now the rest of you folks can get back on board.” With concerned looks towards the young woman and her son they turned towards the stage.

“Sir,” the clergyman addressed McBean. “Please let Mrs. Dumas and her son go.”

“I can’t do that sir. I’ve got my orders and they’re coming with us. Now you climb back on board before I forget I was told not to harm anyone else.” His bravery expended the clergyman did as he was asked. Having heard that she was not allowed back on the stagecoach Mrs. Dumas grew angry.

“Just why are you doing this to us? I demand that you let me and my son go.”

“Demand all you want lady but you’re coming with us.”

“No, we are not,” she spat out the words. “Leo, get on the stage.” The boy moved to do as his mother instructed but Kid caught their arms. The boy turned and kicked him hard on the shin. Kid’s cry of pain and attempts to hold the boy still, made the other men laugh.

“Ow! Will you stop that!” Kid said holding the boy at arms length as he continued to kick out at the man holding his arms.

“Leave my son alone,” Mrs. Dumas yelled.

“Ma’am, tell him to stop kicking me and I will.” Leo stopped and Kid released him and the boy was instantly running away from him. Out of the corner of his eye Kid saw Ellis draw his gun and aim it at the boy. Kid’s gun flew from his holster and a bullet knocked the gun from the other man’s hand. Nobody moved. Realising who had fired the shot, Ellis turned to glare at Kid.

“What the hell did you do that for?” he asked.

“No one gets hurt, remember?” Kid reminded him. Mrs. Dumas was frozen to the spot. Leo returned slowly to his mother’s side. Kid turned to face her. “Ma’am, you and your son are to come with us. I promise you, no one will hurt you.”

For some reason she believed him. This kidnapper had just saved her son. Reluctantly she nodded, realising she was outnumbered. Kid led them to the waiting horses. When Mrs. Dumas was safely in the saddle, he put Leo onto his own horse and pulled himself up behind him.

The stage moved off towards Porterville after the riders had disappeared from view taking Mrs. Dumas and her son with them.

***

Sheriff Lom Trevors grew restless; there was no sign of anyone let alone a group of men intent on robbing a train. He shot a look at Hannibal Heyes standing beside him. Heyes could only shrug. The train finally appeared on the horizon and began to slow as it moved up hill. With guns drawn they prepared themselves for a surprise assault. The train reached the top of the incline and then it was gone. No one stopped it. No one tried to stop it and according to Lom’s look outs no one was lying in wait along the track between the hill and Porterville. The train chugged its way, unmolested, towards the town.

“Are you sure Kid told you it was today?” the sheriff asked as the train disappeared from view.

“Lom, one thing Kid and I never make a mistake about is which train is going to be robbed,” Heyes reminded him.

“So where are they?” the sheriff demanded to know.

“I don’t know. More importantly where’s Kid?” Hannibal Heyes did not bother to disguise the anxiety he felt.

***

They took Mrs. Dumas and her son to a campsite near the river. Bed rolls were thrown down and the men unsaddled and tethered their horses, as Buck put a pot of coffee on the fire and began to prepare food for a hot meal.

“Ma’am, I’d settle down if I was you,” Kid advised her. “It’ll be a long cold night if you don’t.”

“I have no intention of sleeping,” she told him defiantly.

“Well they’ll have someone on watch all night so I don’t think you’ll have a chance to escape, if that’s what you’re thinking.” She just glared at him and drew her son closer. Kid could see the fear in her eyes despite her spirited stubbornness. He still had no idea why they had been asked to kidnap this woman and her son nor when someone would come for them. It had to be soon. The stage would have arrived in Porterville by now and Lom would know what had happened and send out a posse. He also did not like putting either Mrs Dumas or her son through this. As if hearing his thoughts Pamela Dumas addressed McBean.

“Why are we here?” she asked as McBean handed her a plate of food.

“My boss, Mr. Madison wants your husband’s money. I guess he figured taking you was the best way to help him get it.”

“Madison? Derek Madison?”

“Yeah,” McBean replied bluntly. “He’ll be joining us in the morning.”

“Then it’s not my husband’s money he’s after,” she informed him.

“So what is it?” the grey-haired man asked settling himself down on a log. Pamela Dumas looked at them; a bunch of dirty, dusty cowhands. She decided they did not need to know her business and turned away. McBean gave her a “suit yourself smile” and started on his food.

***

“Sheriff! Sheriff Trevors!” A man ran towards them as they rode back into town from their wild goose chase with the train. The sheriff pulled his horse to a halt and looked down at the man. It was Tom Johnson from the stagecoach depot.

“Tom, was is it?” Lom asked.

“Someone held up the stage. They’ve kidnapped a woman and her son.” Lom and Heyes exchanged a look.

“I’m not going to say anything yet, Heyes, but I’ve got a lot of thoughts going through my mind you’re not going to like,” Lom told him sometime later as they sat in the sheriff’s office. He had interviewed the other passengers and the driver of the stage, to obtain an accurate account of the events and a detailed description of the men who had attacked them and kidnapped the woman and her child. Heyes had listened to all the interviews and it was soon clear that McBean had led the hold up. The other men could have been any from the ranch. One description sounded much like Buck Brown. Then the driver described how one of the men had almost shot the boy but was stopped by a young blond curly-haired man who:

“…drew his gun faster than any man I ever seen sheriff,” the driver said. “I tell you he saved that boy’s life. Then he put the boy on his own horse and they rode out of there.”

“All right Lom, say what you have to,” Heyes told him when they were alone.

“Your partner has just taken part in the hold up of a stage and the kidnapping of a woman and her child. Previously he told you that there was going to be a train robbery that never took place but, conveniently, had the law out of town and no where near the stage when it was held up. Kid had a motive to hit you on the head the other night. He told us the train was going to be robbed and it wasn’t. He has just helped kidnap two people.” Lom’s voice grew louder. “Now if you know what the hell is going on tell me. If not, I’m getting a posse together to go hunt down Kid Curry and his gang.” Heyes took a moment before he answered his friend.

“Kid doesn’t have a gang. I don’t know what’s going on Lom, but if Kid says there was a train robbery planned, then there was. He never mentioned a stagecoach and I doubt he knew about it. I have no idea who this woman is they’ve kidnapped but I know it has nothing to do with Kid.” He held up his hand as he could see the sheriff was about to interrupt him. “Although I have to admit it sure sounds like he was there.”

“And helped kidnap two people,” the sheriff reminded him. “Maybe Madison offered him a lot of money?”

“My partner’s not for sale,” Heyes said with conviction but he could see Lom still needed some convincing. “Maybe he was set up; told things knowing he would pass them on to me or even to you?” The sheriff considered this.

“If that’s the case and they know he’s connected to me and they were using him…well that would put him in considerable danger.”

“We have to find him Lom.” Heyes got to his feet and began to pace. “Who is this woman they’ve kidnapped? How is she connected to Derek Madison?”

A few telegrams later and Lom Trevors had the information he needed. Pamela Dumas was the wife of Chester Dumas a wealthy businessman and landowner who had recently moved to San Francisco to open a casino. He had sent for his wife and son but his wife was afraid to travel on a train, having been in a train crash as a child. For this reason she and her son Leo were travelling by stagecoach. Chester Dumas had once been a partner of Derek Madison. Mr. Madison had lost a considerable sum of money in a land deal with Mr. Dumas. His sudden drop in income had also lost him his fiancé, the daughter of a wealthy banker, who had been more keen to keep his good name and position in society back east, than he had been in his daughter’s happiness. Madison was said to have threatened to get even with Chester Dumas one day.

“Kidnapping his wife and son would certainly do that,” Heyes pointed out.

“We have no proof,” Lom reminded him.

“Find Kid and I think we will,” Heyes stated.

***

Kid Curry carefully placed his hand over the woman’s mouth. Her eyes flew open and she tried to scream and found herself unable to do so. She focussed on Kid who had one finger placed to his lips telling her to keep quiet.

“Don’t scream. I’m getting you out of here,” he whispered. “Don’t scream. Okay?” he repeated; she nodded and slowly he removed his hand from her mouth. Mrs. Dumas remained silent.

“Get up slowly and quietly,” Kid instructed. “I’ll wake your son.” He turned to the boy and woke him in the same way he had his mother but the boy began to struggle as the man held him down. Pamela Dumas appeared quickly at Kid’s side and soothed the child. A few moments later Kid was leading them away from the fireside, passed the unconscious form of Ellis who had been on guard, towards the horses Kid had already saddled.

Kid had just helped Mrs. Dumas onto her horse when Leo ran back to the camp to get a book he had been reading earlier. Kid hissed “no” at the boy but he was already gone. As he ran back to them he tripped and fell the book hitting the ground with a loud thud, rousing one of the sleeping men. It took a moment for Buck to realise what he was seeing and then he yelled and that woke the others too.

“Come on!” Kid grabbed the boy and threw him up onto his horse then climbed up behind him. He released the rope that held the rest of the horses and they went galloping off as Kid and Mrs. Dumas spurred their horses away from the camp.

Kid shielded Leo with his body, as shots were fired at them. He weaved his horse from side to side trying to avoid the bullets that flew about them and then cried out in pain as one hit him in the left thigh. There was no time to stop and they rode on into the night confident that, for a while, no one would be on their trail, at least not until they had caught the horses.

When Kid felt it was safe, he pulled his horse to a halt and Pamela Dumas did the same. Kid lowered Leo to the ground, then examined the bullet wound in his leg. It hurt like hell and the leg of his jeans was soaked with blood; too much blood. He was already feeling dizzy; he had to try to stop the bleeding. Kid unbuckled his belt, placed his bandana as a pad over the wound and then held it in place with his belt. He grimaced in pain as he pulled the belt tight around his leg, fumbling with the buckle. Mrs. Dumas appeared beside him.

“Can I help?” she asked.

“Thank you but I’ve done what I can for now,” he replied.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry you’ve been hurt. How bad is it?”

“Bad enough,” Kid told her.

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Not really.”

“Thank you, for getting us away from them Mister…?”

“Jones. Thaddeus Jones,” he told her.

“Thank you, Thaddeus,” she said placing a hand on his knee and met his gaze. The gratitude she felt was clear in her dark eyes. She was a beautiful woman and he could see why Madison might want her but was that really all there was too it? One man wanting another man’s wife? Kid doubted it was as simple as that.

“Ma’am, it’s not over yet. We have to get you to the sheriff in Porterville. Hey Leo,” he turned to look at the boy as he called him. “Climb on back up.” The boy did as he was told taking care not to catch Kid’s leg as he did so.

It was getting late by the time they reached the edge of town. Kid led them to the alley that ran beside the sheriff’s office. Mrs. Dumas followed Kid’s instructions and, dismounting, knocked on the side door. Moments later Lom Trevors appeared. It required only the briefest of explanations before he was ushering the woman and her son inside. Not having the energy to dismount Kid stayed on his horse and a familiar figure appeared in the doorway, his arms folded as he leant against the frame.

“You getting down?” Hannibal Heyes asked casually, deliberately hiding how pleased he was to know his partner was safe, and then, seeing his partner’s face, he moved quickly to his side. “You hurt?”

“Yeah, my leg.” Heyes saw the makeshift tourniquet and bloody bandana around Kid’s leg.

“Bullet?” he asked and Kid nodded. “How bad?”

“Lost a lot of blood,” Kid told him.

“Let’s get you down.” Kid stumbled when his feet hit the floor. Heyes caught him and supporting his partner, he led him into the sheriff’s office. “Hey Lom,” he called and soon their friend was supporting Kid’s other side. They ushered him to a bunk in the nearest cell and Kid did not complain when they got him to lie down. Lom headed off to get the doctor.

“How come we always end up in jail?” Kid asked and Heyes smiled as he undid the buckle of the belt around Kid’s leg. It had done its job and the bleeding had slowed. Mrs. Dumas and Leo appeared in the doorway.

“How is he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’ll be fine,” Heyes assured her as he looked Kid in the eye. “It takes more than a bullet in the leg to stop Thaddeus.”

“I’m glad you’ve got such faith in me,” his partner told him as he rested his head back on the pillow then cried out in pain as Heyes removed the belt and lifted up the bandana. Kid glared at his partner who smiled pleasantly at him in return.

“That hurt?” Heyes asked.

“Yes,” Kid told him through gritted teeth.

Kid’s breathing was faster and shallower than Heyes liked the sound of; he was relieved when the front door opened and Lom reappeared with the young doctor. The doctor was soon busying himself, tending to Kid’s leg wound, asking for a bowl of clean water and shooing the others out of the cell to give him room and Mr. Jones some peace and quiet.

Kid was asleep by the time the doctor left and Mrs. Dumas, with Leo’s exaggerated help, had told them the story of their escape. Both mother and son were clearly very tired and Lom suggested the safest place for them, although not the most comfortable, was in the other cell. Here at least he and Heyes could protect them. Pamela Dumas agreed; she was too tired to care where she slept and had to agree it was the last place anyone would expect to find them. She soon settled down on one bunk as her son curled up beneath a blanket on the other.

Hannibal Heyes and Lom Trevors sat at the sheriff’s desk, each nursing a cup of coffee and wondering what to do next.

“Did you really believe it Lom, when we first came here, about Kid I mean?” Heyes asked, his voice little more than a whisper, in case Mrs. Dumas or Leo were still awake. Lom said nothing although Heyes could see he knew what he meant.

“At first I did. I didn’t believe either of you could keep out of trouble, then I thought you could but I couldn’t see Kid keeping that gun in his holster for long. I think the Governor felt that way too.”

“And do you still feel that way?” Heyes could not hide the worry in his voice.

“No. No I’ve seen how hard you’ve both been trying; seen how difficult it’s been too. The Governor knows that too. Kid wants you to get that amnesty so much; he’s trying so hard. When I heard what had happened to you, I was so angry to think he’d thrown it all away.” Heyes looked through the bars at his partner asleep on the bunk. He knew just what Kid would do to help him get that amnesty; to get it for both of them.

“He wants it too, Lom,” Heyes told the lawman.

“I know, and I’ll do anything I can to help you both get it.”

Heyes entered the cell. Kid was sleeping but the blanket lay half on the floor. The bandage around his leg was only a little blood stained. The doctor had done a good job. Heyes pulled the blanket over Kid and sat down on the other bunk. Lom had suggested he get some sleep but there was too much to think about for that.

***

Kid Curry opened his eyes and saw the all too familiar bars, of a jail cell. Trying to remember what had happened he moved to sit up and cried out as a pain shot through his left leg. He clamped a hand over the bullet wound at the same time as he noticed Lom Trevors looking at him, through the bars of the cell door.

“I’d take it easy with that leg if I were you,” the sheriff advised him. Then Kid remembered; the stage hold up; the woman and her son; arriving at the sheriff’s office late last night. Kid looked around. They were alone.

“Where’s Heyes?” he asked wary of this lawman he had once called his friend.

“He took Mrs. Dumas and her son over to the hotel for breakfast,” Lom informed him. Kid considered this. Heyes was out having breakfast and he was locked up in jail. Lom pulled the unlocked cell door open and stepped inside. Kid looked confused as Lom sat on the opposite bunk.

“Kid, I owe you an apology. I got it all wrong. I misjudged you and I shouldn’t have,” the sheriff began and Kid said nothing, he was not sure what he wanted to say so he just listened. “I doubted your commitment to getting the amnesty. Heyes told me I shouldn’t but when I saw him unconscious and heard you’d had a fight and you were so….stubborn about it….Well I….and then there was the stage hold up.” Kid held up a hand to stop him.

“Lom, it’s alright. I know how it must have looked.”

“That’s just it Kid, it only looked that way. I should have known it wouldn’t be you. I’m sorry I doubted you.”

“Thank you,” the young blond ex-outlaw said leaning back against the wall. “Now can I get some breakfast too?”

The sheriff smiled and stood up. Kid was going to be alright.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he told his friend. He left the office heading for the hotel where he was sure he could persuade Maria, the cook, to make up a plate for his friend. Kid spotted his hat beside the bunk and picking it up placed it over his face as he lay back and closed his eyes. Not long afterwards he heard the front door open and close, and footsteps approached the cell. Heyes and the others, returning perhaps? He did not recognise the footsteps.

“Well, well Mr. Jones, what are you doing in jail?” Kid threw off his hat, sat bolt upright and stared into the face of Joe Reever. The foreman leant against the cell door pointing his gun at the blond man. “McBean told me what you did. I figured you might head towards town. Mr. Madison is real mad at you.”

As Reever leant against the door Kid realised he had no idea it was unlocked which was a point in Kid’s favour, as his gun and gun belt, lay on Lom’s desk. Kid eased himself up and swung his legs onto the floor. He could not hide the pain it caused him.

“Well, you can tell Mr. Madison, I got caught. And I got shot.” He gave a dejected shrug. “I was hoping to make a little money for myself but it didn’t work out. The sheriff isn’t gonna let me out of here, for a long time.”

“I’m not sure that will be enough for him. You see Mr. Madison spent a long time planning this. He really wanted Mrs. Dumas brought to him, at the ranch.”

“I guess I’ve spoilt that for him,” Kid observed.

“I guess you have.” The foreman pointed his gun at Kid. “But if I was to tell him you were dead, that might make up for it a little.”

“I didn’t have you down as a cold blooded murderer Joe,” Kid told him.

“You didn’t get a lot right did you?” He pulled back the hammer and Kid threw himself at the door which swung open, much to Reever’s surprise, and sent him stumbling backwards. Reever’s gun went off; Kid collapsed on the floor then dragged himself to his feet and wrestled the gun from Reever’s hand. The front door of the office flew open and Heyes and Lom burst in, guns in their hands. Kid looked up, Reever’s gun in his hand and gave them a relieved smile before grabbing hold of his leg in pain.

“Can’t you stay out of trouble for five minutes?” Heyes asked his partner, relieved to see him alive.

***

“There they go Kid, bound for their new life in San Francisco,” Hannibal Heyes said, three days later, as he and Kid Curry stood outside the sheriff’s office watching as Pamela Dumas and her son rode off on the stage. It was escorted by several well armed deputies. Leo waved to them from the window and the two ex-outlaws waved back.

“Did Lom say where he thinks Madison might have gone?” the blond man asked his partner. He leant against the railings to take the weight off his injured leg.

“No, he just said the ranch was deserted. I’m not sure Lom’s that bothered.”

“Do you really think this was all because he wanted to get even with Dumas?” Kid asked him.

“Having seen Mrs. Dumas, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wanted more than that,” Heyes told his partner. Mrs. Dumas was indeed a beautiful woman.

“That lady was not about to let Madison have anything,” Kid observed.

“Yeah, I guess he wanted the one thing money couldn’t buy.” Heyes looked at his cousin and smiled.

“What?”

“Just something I told Lom.”

“What?”

“That you weren’t for sale either.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Heyes smiled and walked towards the saloon. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Kid asked limping after his partner.

THE END

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