(Kid and Heyes, the Early Years)
By Maz McCoy
“So how did you get the name Kid Curry?” Jimmy Flood, the newest member of the gang asked, looking at the fastest gun in the west. The men around the table paused, cards in their hands.
“It’s on account of him looking so young and pretty,” Preacher said, with a joking smile towards the young blond gunslinger, sitting on the bunk by the door. Saying nothing, Kid gave Preacher a look and continued cleaning his gun.
The rest of the Devil’s Hole Gang smiled and returned their attention to the poker game.
“Oh there’s another reason too,” Hannibal Heyes said, suddenly. The players paused once more. The gun cleaning stopped. Two ice blue eyes focused on his partner. “We were down in New Mexico…” the dark-haired leader of the Gang began.
“Heyes…” Kid cautioned.
“And there was this beautiful senorita,” Heyes continued and he gave a sigh as he remembered.
Two young men, one blond, aged nineteen, one dark-haired, aged twenty-one, both dressed in dusty jeans and works shirts, sat on the boardwalk outside the saloon. Their chairs were tilted back on two legs, their feet up on the rail, each man smoking a fat cigar. The blond man gave a satisfied sigh, as he exhaled a long trail of smoke.
“It don’t get much better than this Heyes, does it?” he said, as his eyes scanned the street.
“It sure don’t,” the dark-haired man agreed. “Although…” His eyes fell on a beautiful young woman making her way across the street towards the hotel. With a double thud, their chairs returned to four legs. Kid had seen her too and decided he was in love…again.
Maria Montoya was eighteen years old, the most beautiful woman in town and she knew it. Her dark hair was piled up on top of her head accentuating her elegant neckline which was adorned with a stunning blue necklace. Her slim figure was squeezed into a long blue dress, pulled in tight at the waist. Maria cast a glance across the street as she mounted the steps to the boardwalk and noticed the two young cowboys looking at her, or perhaps drooling would have been a better word. Maria was used to the stares of men of all ages. She knew the effect she had on them and had used it on more than one occasion to get what she wanted from her father’s employees. She paused and looked at the two gringos. They were dusty and trail worn but, despite that, Maria had to admit they were both handsome. She opened her fan and proceeded to cool herself with it. Maria fluttered her eyelashes at the men.
“I think she likes me,” Heyes stated confidently, not taking his eyes off the dark-haired goddess.
“She’s looking at me,” Kid informed him.
Maria smiled as she watched them. When the dark-haired one smiled at her, even from this distance, she could see dimples in his cheeks. His dark eyes seemed to draw her in. The blond young man was also attractive but he looked so young. However, as they stood up, she noted their tied down guns and scuffed holsters. These were men not boys.
“MARIA!” a man’s voice boomed and Kid and Heyes watched a formidable looking man striding across the street towards her.
“He’s either her father or a very rich man,” Heyes said, thoughtfully.
“Or both,” Kid added, as he watched the portly, dark-haired man with a thick moustache head towards the beautiful woman. The man’s grey suit looked expensive and his shoes were highly polished despite the dusty street. The two young cowboys watched as, reunited, father and daughter engaged in conversation.
“I still say she was looking at me,” Heyes told his partner.
“You keep telling yourself that Heyes,” Kid said, putting a conciliatory hand on his partner’s shoulder. “Tall tales are what you’re good at. C’mon, I’ll buy you a drink,” he offered and with a wistful glance at the pair entering the hotel, Heyes followed his friend into the saloon.
“Do you really think they’ll take us on the trail drive?” Kid asked, as they headed towards the livery stable.
“Sure Kid, you heard what Murray said. They’re signing on anyone who can sit a horse. It means even you have a chance,” Heyes said, reassuring his friend, with a smile.
Kid shot a look in his direction.
“Well I…” but a sudden scream interrupted their conversation and, as one, Heyes and Kid ran towards the corral. As they turned the corner, they saw the beautiful young woman they had spotted earlier, waving her hands in the air and letting fly with a barrage of Spanish. She was berating a small Mexican farmer about something. The man shook his head, clearly unimpressed at being on the receiving end of her feminine wrath, and slunk away, leaving the woman alone and distraught. A dainty foot stamped in frustration.
“Ma’am can we help?” Heyes asked, stepping forward.
Maria Montoya turned to see the handsome young men she had smiled at earlier. Recognising them as a possible source of help, she began to explain what had happened and why she was so upset and how her father would never forgive her and how grateful she was to have seen them and if only they could help her she….
Heyes held up his hand to stop her.
“Do you speak English ma’am?” he asked. “And if you do could you say all of that a little slower?”
“I’m sorry,” she said, realising they had not understood a word. “I robbed,” she stated.
“Robbed ma’am?” Kid said, stepping forward, ready to deal with the blackguard who had done such a thing to this beautiful young woman.
“Si, robbed,” she confirmed.
“By him?” Kid asked, pointing to the farmer, disappearing into the distance.
“Maria!” Neither man needed to turn round to know who was approaching. “Maria?” There followed another barrage of Spanish, some hand waving, a few fingers pointed in the direction of Kid and Heyes, a few waves at the air in general, although it seemed to take in the goats chewing nonchalantly in the pen beside them and the distant farmer. Eventually the father and daughter calmed down and Senor Montoya turned his attention to the two young men before him. He smiled. Had Heyes not been so enraptured by Maria Montoya and the beautiful pair of brown eyes focussed on him, he might have recognised the father’s smile as similar to that of a predator welcoming its prey into its lair. However, there were those brown eyes at work and Heyes was still young.
“Senors,” Montoya said. “I am Juan Montoya and this is my daughter Maria.” Kid and Heyes removed their hats and smiled, pleasantly, at the man’s beautiful daughter. Maria fluttered her eyelashes at them.
“Pleased to meet you ma’am,” Kid said, clearly smitten. “I’m…”
“I am in need of help,” Montoya went on, swiftly. “My daughter has been robbed of a valuable ring. A ring given to her by her grandmother, my own mother,” he crossed himself at her memory. “I am in need of someone to help restore this ring to her.” He looked, hopefully, at the two young men.
Kid and Heyes exchanged a glance, which Montoya mistook for indecision.
“I will pay you,” he said quickly. “$100 for the man who returns the ring to my Maria.”
“$100?” Kid asked, incredulously.
Kid and Heyes exchanged another look. $100 for returning the ring? $100 and the gratitude of a wealthy looking man and his beautiful daughter? It was Maria’s gratitude, the two young men were thinking about most.
“We’ll do it!” Heyes stated. “Senor you happen to have here the two finest trackers this side of the Mississippi. Just you point us in the direction of whoever stole that ring and we will be on their trail. We won’t stop day or night until we bring it back to you.”
There was an exchange of Spanish between father and daughter.
“My daughter says you are very brave men,” Montoya informed them. Two sets of shoulders pulled back, two chests puffed out, two heads were held high. A pair of brown eyes and a stunning pair of blue ones focussed on those of young Miss Montoya and flirted outrageously.
“Can your daughter describe who took the ring?” Heyes asked, finally returning his attention to the task at hand.
“I can them point out to you, Senor…?” Maria said in her hesitant English. “I am sorry I do your names, not know.”
“Hannibal Heyes ma’am,” Heyes told her, removing his hat, but resisting the desire to bow.
“Jed Curry,” Kid said, as he took off his hat and dazzled her with a smile.
“I am most pleased to meet you gentlemen,” she said.
“You can point them out, the ones who stole your ring?” Kid asked.
“You think he’s still in town?” Kid asked, removing the safety on his gun.
“They are here,” Maria told him.
“Don’t worry ma’am. I’ll deal with him,” Kid told her, bravely.
“Er, can I talk to you for a minute?” Heyes asked his friend. “Just a minute,” he said to the Montoya’s, as he pulled Kid to one side.
“What is it?” Kid asked, keeping his voice low.
“What are you doing?” Heyes asked. “We don’t know who took her ring. They could be pretty dangerous men Kid. Best not overplay it with the gun, for now.”
“I know, but for $100 and Maria’s gratitude, I’m willing to risk it, aren’t you?” Kid’s blue eyes met his friends. “Besides you just told him we were the best trackers around.”
“Okay. I’ll come up with a plan,” Heyes said, confidently.
They turned back to the Montoyas.
“Where are they ma’am?” Heyes asked.
Maria turned and pointed at the goats. Kid and Heyes were confused.
“I mean where is the one who took your ring?” Heyes told her.
“Yes. It is that one,” Maria said, pointing at a black and white goat, chewing peacefully on some straw.
“That goat stole your ring?” Kid asked, understanding beginning to dawn. Suddenly he didn’t feel so keen to get her jewellery back.
“Yes,” she nodded. “I was standing here.” She helpfully showed them where she was standing, near to the fence. “I was turning the ring on my finger when… off it fell!” Tears welled up in her eyes and she buried her head in her father’s shoulder. Kid felt a tug at his heart.
“He’ll get it,” Heyes said, quickly. “My partner is amazing with goats. Seems to speak their language even. I reckon they think of him as kinda…one o them.” Heyes put a hand around Kid’s shoulders, proudly. Kid shot a glare at Heyes.
“Heyes!” Kid hissed.
“$100 Kid and the gratitude of a beautiful lady,” Heyes whispered. “You said that yourself.” Before Kid could say anything, Maria turned her attention on him.
“Oh, Senor Curry, thank you. I asked the farmer, but he said he had sold the goats and they were no longer his…concern?” They nodded at her correct choice of word. She placed two delicate hands on Kid’s arm. Her tear-filled eyes met his and she smiled, gratefully. Kid felt his heart beating faster. “If you return my ring, how will I ever be able to repay you?” she said. Peering into her gorgeous brown eyes, Kid could think of a few ways, but he thought it best not to voice them, at least not with her father there.
“Just leave it to us,” Heyes said. “We’ll have that ring back by tomorrow,” he added confidently.
“We will be at the Hotel,” Senor Montoya told them. “Bring the ring to us, as soon as you have it. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you.” With that he escorted his daughter away.
Heyes and Kid turned to look at the goats.
“What do we do?” Kid asked.
“Well if that goat ate her ring, at some point it’s going to…” he left the rest unsaid.
“To what?” Kid asked.
“Oh yeah, right,” Kid agreed and then a sudden realisation hit him. “And we’ll hafta…”
“Exactly,” Heyes said.
“How long d’you think it’ll take?”
“I don’t know. You’re the one that’s amazing with goats,” Heyes said with a smile.
“You made that up!” Kid looked at the animals in the pen. “So we may hafta spend the night with them?”
“Well she’s better looking than some of the women you’ve…” A look from his partner silenced Heyes. “I guess so,” he said, sheepishly. “Although, we both don’t have to stay here.” Kid considered this and looked down at the goats.
“I’ll toss you for it,” Kid offered.
“Oh no, Kid. I distinctly heard you volunteer to go after whoever had the ring.”
“That’s when I thought it was a man,” Kid reminded him. “I distinctly heard you say ‘just leave it to us’!”
Heyes met his partner’s gaze.
“Whose coin?” he asked.
“Mine,” Kid stated, reaching into his vest pocket.
Kid Curry sat on the bale of hay, nursing a cup of coffee, his friend had graciously brought him. Six female goats stood, sat, strolled about him; munching on hay, chewing on a rope or…pooping. All around him on the ground were small round black shapes of goat dung. Some were fresh, soft and warm; others dried hard and inevitably flattened by a well-placed hoof. A goat nudged his arm.
“WHAT?” he snapped.
“Maaaaa,” said the black and white goat; the ring thief. She turned her amber eyes on young Jed Curry.
“Oh, howdy, Isobel,” Kid said, handing the goat a piece of hay. She devoured it swiftly. He’d decided to name the animals, first just to pass the time and then to help him focus on who was who. So he sat now with Isobel, the thief, Virginia, Nancy, Amelia, Arabella and Margarita. The latter two being brown twins. Or at least Kid decided they were twins, as he could not tell them apart.
Isobel was now attending to a call of nature in the corner of the pen. When she had finished, Kid carried the lamp over and peered down at the deposit she had made. He pressed on it gently with his boot. Nothing. He could not believe that he was reduced to sifting through a goat’s dung in the hope of earning $100 and the gratitude of a young woman. Ah, but what a woman. Kid allowed himself a moment to remember the beautiful Maria. She had such delicate soft skin, such warm brown eyes, such…poop. Another pile of dung arrived for his attention.
Heyes returned to the hotel just as Kid was examining his first pile of goat dung. The dark-haired young man felt just a brief twinge of guilt before he ate dinner in the hotel restaurant. The guilt didn’t last long. He enjoyed a glass of wine and decided to treat himself to a fine cigar to follow the meal. Sitting back in his chair, he patted his full stomach and flirted with a young lady at the next table, before heading over to the saloon in search of a game of poker.
The saloon girls smiled at the handsome young cowboy when he walked through the bat wing doors. One sauntered over to him as he approached the bar. Heyes smiled, as she slipped her arm through his. It was going to be a good night.
Having won several hands of poker, enjoyed some time with a pretty girl named Susanna and drank more than his fair share of beer, Heyes headed back to the hotel. He gave a quick glance down the street towards the stables and contemplated going to check on his friend, as he mounted the steps to the hotel. Heyes really was considering taking his partner a bottle of whiskey, as he climbed the steps to his room. As Hannibal Heyes unlocked the door to his room, he did wonder if Jed was warm enough and whether or not he should take him a blanket. Unfortunately, for Kid Curry, those thoughts lasted about as long as Heyes’ guilt had.
Hannibal Heyes was soon lying in a soft bed, drifting off to sleep. It wasn’t long before he found himself wrapped in the arms of a beautiful dark-haired young woman who, coincidently, appeared to be a combination of the delectable Maria Montoya and a buxom saloon gal he had once known, named Maxine.
As Kid Curry sat on the ground, waiting for a goat to perform its bodily functions, he thought about Heyes, asleep in a nice warm bed. It just didn’t seem fair. For the first time in several weeks, they had actually been able to afford a room with two beds. The sheets were clean and the mattress soft.
“It just ain’t right, Isobel,” Kid complained, as the goat approached him.
“Maaaa,” Isobel agreed.
Nope, it just didn’t seem right for him to be sitting in a draughty goat pen when he could be lying in a soft warm bed too. Why had he allowed his partner to talk him into this? Kid let out a long sigh and watched Isobel raise her tail yet again.
The beautiful dark-haired woman leaned close to Hannibal Heyes and nibbled on his ear lobe. He moaned with pleasure. He liked the way she did that. She whispered something soft and inviting in his ear.
“Maxine,” he whispered back. “Ah, Sweetheart.” Heyes smiled and pulled her closer, caressing her soft cheek. He breathed in the sweet smell of hay on her breath, ran his hand over her wet nose and stroked her beard. HER BEARD? Heyes eyes shot open and he stared into two soft amber eyes.
“Maxine?” Heyes said, confused.
“Maaaaaaaaa,” came the reply.
“WHAT THE HECK?” Heyes sat bolt upright and stared at the goat, chewing on his pillow. Kid opened his eyes at the sound of his partner’s voice. Heyes looked across at Kid lying in the other bed. “What are you doing here? What is THAT doing here?” he demanded to know, pointing at the goat.
“I’m sleeping in a bed, just like you,” Kid told his friend.
“There’s a goat in the room,” Heyes stated, as he dragged his brain from sleep. “There’s a goat in the room!”
“Yeah, well I couldn’t leave her in the pen could I?” Kid told him.
“You brought a goat into our room?” Heyes could hardly believe what he was seeing.
“Well I figured if Isobel was here too, I wouldn’t need to stay awake because anything goat-like on the floor could only belong to her.” Kid smiled, as he finished his explanation. It sounded like a pretty good idea to him.
Heyes looked down; sure enough there were several small, round black objects on the floorboards and the carpet.
“Get that goat outta here!” Heyes said through gritted teeth.
“NOW!” Heyes snapped, throwing back the bedclothes and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. “Kid sometimes you do the dumbest things. I can’t believe you brought a goat into the room!”
He thought for a moment.
“How did you get it in here anyway?”
“I smuggled her in under a horse blanket,” Kid explained. “There was no one on the reception desk and Isobel was real quiet. You’d left the door unlocked again Heyes, I’ve warned you about that,” Kid scolded. It should be remembered that these were in the days before our boys had a price on their heads; days when an unlocked hotel room door, was no more than an invitation to have your possessions stolen; days when Hannibal Heyes actually slept deeply and sometimes right through the night.
Heyes shook his head in disbelief and got up. He stood on something warm and soft. His expression changed to one of disgust as he looked down. “GET…IT…OUTTA…HERE…NOW!” he yelled.
“Shhh!” Kid hissed.
“Maaaa,” said the goat.
It is probably best not to record here all the things Heyes said in reply, in the heat of the moment. Suffice to say, Hannibal Heyes was not a happy man.
Kid was smart enough to know when he was beaten. Reluctantly, he got up and dressed quickly, not daring to look his friend in the eye.
“C’mon Isobel,” he said, as he wrapped the goat in the blanket once more.
“You named her?” Heyes asked, incredulously, as he realised what Kid had called the animal.
“Well it didn’t seem right to spend the night with a lady and not know her name,” Kid told his friend, with a smile. Heyes shook his head once more and Kid left the room with Isobel.
Heyes looked at his foot and the dung attached to it.
“I’m gonna kill him,” he muttered, as he limped towards the washstand.
Kid sat in the goat pen, his eyes growing heavy, as he struggled to stay awake. Isobel was back with her friends, chewing, munching, sitting in the hay. There was a sudden movement, the raising of a tail and, carrying the lamp, Kid walked over to examine the new deposits in the hay. Nothing. With a sigh, he returned to his position in the corner of the pen. Goats sure did seem to produce a lot of poop.
Kid had just settled down again, pulling some straw behind him to make a soft pillow, when Isobel’s tail rose again.
“Sheesh Isobel, so soon?” Kid muttered, as he got to his feet once more. He stood behind the goat, waiting for her to finish. Kid looked at the hay. A smile formed on his face. Three new black blobs lay at his feet. One of them sparkled in the lamplight. “Thank you Sweetheart,” he said, picking up the ring.
“Maaaaaaa,” replied Isobel.
As the sun rose the next morning, Hannibal Heyes found his partner asleep in the goat pen. There was a goat asleep across his legs. Another lay at his side, a third nestled against Kid’s left leg and the young blond man had his arm around Isobel. It was a scene of rural tranquillity. Two familiar amber eyes looked up at Heyes, as he approached. Heyes gave a cough and two sleepy blue eyes opened.
“Surrounded by an admiring group of females again huh, Jed?” Heyes said with a smile. Kid Curry looked around at his new ovine friends and then up at his partner. Heyes was smiling and that was a good sign. However, Kid was wary. The last time he’d seen his friend he had not been in the best of moods. Kid stood up and stretched, scattering the goats as he did so. He waited to see what Heyes did next.
“Did you find it?” the dark-haired man asked, his mood refreshed by a night’s sleep.
Kid reached into his vest pocket and pulled out the diamond ring. He held it up triumphantly, the diamond glistening in the sunlight. Kid smiled. Hannibal Heyes drew closer.
“You need a bath. You’ve got the smell of that animal all over you,” he said.
“Yeah I know,” Kid replied, grumpily.
“I was talking to Isobel,” his partner replied, with a smile.
“So that’s why they call you Kid Curry?” Kyle asked, when Heyes had finished.
“No, it’s not,” Kid stated, firmly.
“He wanted to take Isobel with us, when we left town,” Heyes told the men, listening intently, at the table. “But the next day she ran off with Billy the Kid!” Howls of laughter echoed around the cabin.
Kid got to his feet.
“Could I see you outside?” he said, addressing Heyes.
“What are you gonna do, head butt me?” Heyes asked, with a grin. Kid gave his partner a look that told him it would be better not to tempt him.
“Now,” Kid said, jerking a thumb at the door.
Heyes gave a sigh.
“Better deal me out boys,” he said to the men at the table and pushed his chair back. Getting to his feet, Heyes followed his friend to the door, before turning back to face Wheat and the others and adding, “When they say Billy’s the fastest gun in the west, it really gets Kid’s goat.” There was more laughter. Kid grabbed Heyes’ arm and yanked him outside.