By Maz McCoy
He wasKid Curry slumped over his whisky in yet another shabby saloon, in yet another small town, in the middle of nowhere much.
A saloon gal wandered over to try her luck at getting a little business on a dreary midweek afternoon. One look at the hostility born of utter misery in those blue eyes, scowling out from under a rain-splattered brown brim changed her mind. This was a man who didn’t want to talk. Not yet anyhow. Maybe not for a long time.
Kid tapped his glass to order a refill of the whiskey so far removed from being the ‘good stuff’ he reckoned they oughta pay him to drink it. He didn’t care. He just wanted to get drunk and do it quick. He wanted to forget. Forget about what had happened. Forget about Heyes. Forget about their years together. Forget he’d ever had a partner. Forget he was alone. Alone forever. Heyes was the past. Gone. Done with.
A WEEK EARLIER…
They had been fine; poor, a bit dusty and saddle sore but fine. Then they had ridden into the town of Fictionville. It looked like any other town. There was a hotel, saloon and general store. Dust blew along the main street and a tangle of tumbleweed rolled by, but there was no one on the street. They pulled their horses to a halt in front of the saloon, anxious to get a drink to cut the dust in their throats.
That’s when they began to appear. The bat wing doors of the saloon swung open, the door of the general store creaked and, slowly, the occupants of Fictionville came out onto the street and boardwalks. No one said a word. Eyes focussed on the two men on their horses. Kid and Heyes looked around. Kid shifted nervously in his saddle. He leaned closer to his friend.
“They’re all women,” he whispered.
“Yeah, I noticed.”
One woman stepped forward, stopping when she stood in front of the horses.
“I’m Bee,” she announced. “I’m the chief moderator in these parts.”
“Is that like a sheriff?” Kid asked.
“Well, I try to keep the peace.” She studied their faces. “We’ve been waiting for you boys.”
“For us?” Heyes asked, somewhat surprised.
“Yes. Why don’t you join us for a drink?” As she spoke the other women began to draw closer. Kid and Heyes climbed from their saddles and followed Bee into the saloon. As they stood leaning on the bar, they felt a dozen or more pairs of eyes watching their backs.
“Heyes, this sure is weird,” Kid whispered as the bartender approached. “I’ve never heard of a town without any men in it.”
“What’ll it be boys?” Maxine, the bartender, asked.
“Whiskey please, ma’am” Kid stated but Maxine’s eyes were on Heyes.
“What about you? What can I place in those tapered fingers?”
“Whiskey will be fine,” Heyes told her.
Maxine kept her eyes on him as she poured the drinks.
“What’s a moderator anyway?” Kid wanted to know.
“A moderator is someone who keeps an eye on us all,” a dark haired woman named Francine, informed him. She fluttered her eyelashes at the blond man.
“Why does she need to keep an eye on you?” Heyes asked, amused by Francine’s flirting with his partner.
“She has to make sure we behave ourselves,” Gislina told him.
“She makes sure we don’t do anything too naughty,” Penny explained, as she gave Heyes a seductive smile. Gislina and Penny linked an arm through Heyes’.
“We can be very naughty,” Maxine informed him, as she poured another whiskey.
“Is that a fact?” Heyes gave her a dimpled smile and the whiskey began to cover the bar. “Er…ma’am…I think you’d better stop pouring.”
“Oh, silly me.” Her eyes did not leave Heyes. “I seem to have overflowed.”
“Will you be staying in town long?” a voice asked. Kid looked up to find himself face to face with the stunningly beautiful Mazarina Coy. (Hey it’s my story, what d’you expect?). She looked familiar, reminding Kid of a schoolteacher he had once met. He smiled.
“Oh, do say you can stay,” gushed Debby.
“I have a room free,” Margarita told him, as she stepped into view. “I run the hotel.”
And that was how it started. Heyes and Kid were constantly surrounded by admiring women. Their every need was catered for and despite Bee’s continued surveillance; the women proved that they could be very naughty indeed.
“We have to leave, Heyes,” Kid whispered, as they made their way to the hotel after another fun evening in the saloon.
“I can’t do that partner.”
“I promised Bee that I’d go riding with her tomorrow. I have a book to discuss with Gislina and Penny wants me to…”
“We agreed to meet Lom in two days time.”
“I know but it doesn’t need the two of us to go.”
“You want to split up?”
“Kid, you could have fun here too. I heard Francine wanted to paint your portrait.”
“It was how she wanted to paint me that was the problem!”
“And Debby wanted to teach you to sing or was it to dance? Sheesh you could do with lessons for both of those.”
“And Margarita wanted you to shift some soil in her garden.”
“No Heyes, she said she wanted me to make the Earth move!”
“Well, I knew it was something like that. You’ve got things to do so why do you want to leave?”
“To see Lom.”
“We can send him a telegram.” Heyes studied his friend. “It’s Mazarina isn’t it? I know she had to leave, but I’m sure she’ll be back, one day. I know you miss her.”
And that was how it had happened. It was unbelievable, shocking, but it was true. Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes had split up. Kid rode out of Fictionville, leaving his partner at the mercy of women…women with plans. Kid looked into his empty glass.
“Buy you a drink, cowboy?” a woman asked.
“Like I told the other one, I’m not in the mood,” Kid replied, gruffly.
“Not yet, perhaps.”
He looked up. A tall woman in a blue dress, stood before him. Kid smiled.