By Maz McCoy
“What are you doing?” Heyes asked, sleepily, his eyes only slightly open.
“Putting my gun on.”
“Why?” Warm beneath the sheets of his hotel bed, Heyes closed his eyes.
“I always put it on.” Kid continued to tie the string around his thigh.
“I mean why are you putting it on now?”
“Because I’m going outside.”
“Can’t you use the…”
“Not for that!”
“Then what?” Kid didn’t reply. Heyes opened his eyes and stared at his partner. “Kid?”
“I’ve been called out.”
“What?” Heyes threw back the covers and swung his legs out of bed.
“I’ve been called out.”
“What do you mean you’ve been called out?” Heyes ran his hand through his hair as he struggled to wake up.
“What I always mean by it.”
“Who called you out?”
“That fella in the saloon.”
“The one whose beer you spilt?”
Heyes watched as Kid shrugged into his vest. “What are you doing?”
“I mean why are you going out to meet him?”
“Because he called me out.”
Heyes rubbed his eyes. He needed to think straight. His bare feet hit the cold floor and he strode towards the door. “You’re not going out there.”
Kid looked at his partner, standing with his back to the door, and sighed. “Not this again.”
Heyes raised his arms, his hands forming into fists as he stood, boxer-style, in front of the door.
Kid picked up his hat and took a step towards his friend. “Well, go on, say your piece.”
“I’m not gonna let you go out there and get involved in a gunfight.”
“Is that it?”
“We’re supposed to stay outta trouble and going out to face a man is trouble.”
“Can’t disagree with that.”
“So if you take one step outside this room, I’m gonna flatten ya.”
Kid gave a heavy sigh as he turned his hat slowly in his hands. “Heyes, I’m not gonna back down when a man calls me out.”
“Then I’m gonna flatten ya.”
“In your underwear?”
Heyes shifted self-consciously from bare foot to bare foot as he stood before the door in Henley and long-johns. “If I hafto yeah.”
“Heyes, what time is it?”
“How should I know?”
“Look at the window.” Heyes did so. “Is it light or dark out?”
“Dark.” Realisation struck Heyes. “It’s dark out! Kid what..?”
“Phillips told me to be outside the hotel at twelve.” Kid removed a watch from his vest pocket and flipped it open. “It’ll be twelve in five minutes. I plan to be outside waiting for him.”
“Twelve? He means…”
“Noon, Heyes, that’s right. ‘Cept he didn’t say noon, he said twelve. So I’ll be out there at midnight waiting for him. Then when he doesn’t show I’ll go into the saloon, let the bartender know I was there and, according to a by-law of this county, which I happened to discover this afternoon while you were taking a bath, Phillips will have forfeited the right to call me out again. If he does, he’ll be the one in trouble.”
Heyes stared at his partner. His mouth opened slightly and he shook his head. “Kid that’s genius. That’s something I’da thought of.”
“Some of it was bound to rub off on me, eventually.” Kid took a step closer. “So can I go now?”
“Sure.” Heyes stepped to one side. “But I’m coming with ya. Even a genius needs someone to watch his back.”