By Maz McCoy
“What do you think it is?” Kid asked and shifted in the saddle before leaning an arm on his saddle horn.
Heyes’ eyes narrowed as he focussed on the object glinting in the sun some way below them on the valley floor. “I don’t know.”
Heyes turned to look at his friend who now had one leg hooked over the saddle horn, his manner relaxed for the first time in a week. “If it is, it’ll be the biggest nugget I’ve seen.”
“Could be a whole pile of gold just left there by a forgetful miner.”
“You been leaving your hat off in the sun again?”
Kid smiled. “Just glad to have something else to think about other than watching my back for a posse.”
Heyes sat up straight in the saddle. “How ‘bout we go take a look?”
Kid returned his feet to the stirrups and tightened the reins. “After you.”
“What would you do if it was?” Kid asked as his horse followed Heyes’ through a stand of trees.
“If what was what?” his partner called over his shoulder.
“A pile of gold. Just left there.”
“Well, first I’d have you pinch me to check I wasn’t asleep and dreamin’.”
“Then I’d look around to see if the owner was still about.”
“Let’s assume he isn’t.”
“So, what then?”
“Depends on how much is in the pile.”
“Hmm.” Heyes ducked as the horse led them under the low branches of a tree. “How many is several?”
“Say, twenty.” Kid ducked too as his horse followed.
“Regular size bars?”
“Guess I’d put them in my saddle bags.”
“Would you tell anyone? That you found them?”
“Am I alone when I find them or is my annoying partner with me?”
“Let’s assume that he’s…” Kid shoved a branch out of his face. “…Off somewhere in the arms of a beautiful woman.”
“This really is a fantasy then.”
“Funny, Heyes. So, do you tell anyone?”
“Well, Kid that’s a difficult question.”
“No it ain’t.”
“It is. ‘Cos I have to know, is this me before we decided to try for our amnesty or after?”
“Why’s it make a difference?”
“’Cos before we went straight I was a thief! You leave gold bars lying around and I’m gonna take ‘em.” He pushed a large branch out of the way. “Branch. Look out.” He let it bounce back and Kid waited before following his friend through the gap and down a shallow incline. “But now… Now I’m an honest man and those gold bars don’t belong to me. Now I have a quandary.”
“English. It’s a dilemma. A difficult choice.”
“So do you take ‘em or not?”
“I take ‘em.”
“D’you tell anyone?” Heyes didn’t answer. They immerged into a clearing and Heyes pulled his horse to a stop. Kid drew alongside him. “Heyes?”
“I don’t know. I’d hafta sell the gold. So I’d need a good story as to how I came by them.”
“You tellin’ me you’re worried your silver tongue would let you down?”
“No.” Kid remained quiet. He could see Heyes thinking. “I keep them and I don’t tell anyone. Cash them in as soon as I can ‘cos it’d be difficult carrying that amount of gold around.”
Heyes kicked his horse and they started off again, riding side by side in companionable silence for a while.
“What about me?” Kid asked as they reached a stream and allowed their horses to drink.
“What about you?” Heyes removed his hat and wiped his forehead before replacing his hat.
“Do you tell me?”
“Do I tell you what?”
“That you found the gold.”
“We still on that?”
“Got nothin’ else to talk about.” He leaned forward and gave the animal’s neck a pat.
Heyes looked around. Nothing moved in the trees and the only sounds were the babbling stream and a bird high in a nearby tree.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Kid stared at his partner. “You just found a pile of gold and you don’t know if you’d tell me or not?”
“That’s right.” He pulled on the reins and urged his horse into the water.
Kid kicked his horse and caught up to his friend. “You wouldn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t say that. I said I didn’t know if I’d tell you.”
“Some partner you are!” Kid looked affronted.
“Well, where were you when I found it? Off with some woman. I had to carry them all by myself. Maybe we’re not friends anymore. Maybe we split up; had a fallin’ out. Maybe that’s why you aren’t there.”
“You think that’s gonna happen?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you obviously think it’s possible.”
“Kid, anything is possible.”
“Yeah, well maybe it happened before. Maybe you came into some money another time and didn’t tell me. Maybe that’s why we fell out.”
“I didn’t say we’d fallen out…”
“Well, we soon would when I found out about the gold and you hadn’t told me.”
“All right! I’d tell you!”
“It’s too late now!”
“I’d tell you. As soon as we met up, I’d tell you!”
“Ha!” Kid kicked his horse on leaving Heyes to follow. The dark haired man sighed.
They were on the valley floor by the time Heyes caught up with Kid.
“You’re not seriously mad at me are you?” he asked as he pulled alongside his friend.
The blond man gave his partner a quick glance. “You would tell me right?”
“Yes, I would tell you. You know I would tell you.”
“Cos you know I’d tell you.”
“I know. I know, you’d tell me.”
“Then I’m not mad.”
Heyes smiled. “Glad to hear it.” A flash of light up ahead caught their attention. They quickened the horses pace.
“At least it’s not a pile of gold bars,” Heyes mused.
“Yeah. I’d hate to hafta fall out with you again.”
Heyes smiled. “How far d’you think we are from Twin Rivers?”
Kid thought about it. “Half a day.”
“How much money you got?”
Kid reached into his vest pocket and pulled out some coins. He held his hand out to show Heyes.
“We’ve got enough for a good meal and a room.”
“And they have a saloon.”
The two men exchanged a look.
Kid pointed to his right. Heyes nodded and they set off leaving the battered but shiny copper kettle lying where they’d found it.