The First Bank Job
(Kid and Heyes, the Early Years)
By Maz McCoy
The dark-haired young man studied the bank, thoughtfully. The imposing building stood, on its own, across the street from the saloon. Two brown eyes surveyed the bars on the windows and the large wooden doors. He sat, chair tipped back, on the boardwalk, one foot resting on the railing. He rocked back and forth, back and forth lost in concentration.
The bat wing doors to the saloon swung open and Kid Curry stepped out onto the boardwalk. Spotting his friend, he walked towards him, smiling.
“Whatcha doing Heyes?” he asked, as he eased himself into a neighbouring chair. Kid put both feet up on the rail and tipped the chair back, mirroring his partner.
“I’m studying the bank,” Hannibal Heyes told him, keeping his voice low.
“You still thinking of doing it?” his friend asked him, incredulously.
“Yep,” Heyes told him.
“Just cos’ it’s an initiative test?” Kid asked.
“Initiation test Kid, initiation,” his friend corrected.
“Well whatever it is; why we gotta do it?”
“Because you heard Miller. If we want to join the gang, we’ve gotta prove we’re serious.”
“And robbing a bank on our own, is gonna do that?” Kid asked, clearly not convinced. “Seems to me all it will prove is how easily we can get caught.”
“We’re not gonna get caught,” Heyes told him, returning the chair to all four feet, with a thud. “I have a plan,” he added and, turning to his partner, he smiled.
“A plan, huh?” Kid said, unimpressed. “Would this be like your plan to get us a whole lotta money down in New Mexico? Where the Captain of the army caught me coming out of his wife’s bedroom? He nearly killed me!”
Heyes gave his friend a sheepish smile.
“Or maybe you’ve forgotten the one involving the goat? It took me days to get that smell out of my clothes.”
Heyes stayed calm, as his friend listed a few other recent set backs.
“I’ll admit one or two of my plans have not gone exactly as I expected…” Heyes admitted.
“One or two?” Kid said, his eyes wide in amazement.
“…And on occasions there have been a few unforeseen deviations,” he continued, ignoring Kid’s interruption. Kid rolled his eyes. “However, this time I think I’ve come up with the perfect solution.” Heyes smiled at his friend, revealing two dimples as he did so.
Kid let out a heavy sigh.
“You’ve got lipstick on your face Kid,” the dark-haired man said, changing the subject and pointing to Kid’s cheek. “Marge?”
The young blond man wiped it off, with a grin.
“Marge,” he admitted, as he turned two thoughtful blue eyes on his friend. As much as he wanted to get on his horse and ride away from the town and Miller and his gang, he found himself asking:
“So what’s your plan?”
“Excuse me sir?” the dark-haired man said, as he approached Rupert Snelling, the bank manager. The short chubby man looked up, startled, as he was locking the door to the bank.
“What do you want?” he asked, eyeing the young man nervously.
Hannibal Heyes gave the grey-haired gentleman an innocent smile and the bank manager relaxed slightly.
“I don’t mean to trouble you sir, but my aunt was in the bank earlier and she seems to have left her bag in there,” Heyes told him.
“I wonder if you could go back inside and take a look for me?” the young man asked. “My aunt will be very grateful to you.”
The bank manager looked, but couldn’t see anyone else around, let alone a woman who could be this man’s aunt.
“Where is your aunt?” Snelling asked, his suspicions roused.
“She’s over at the hotel. She had to lie down. The doctor said the shock of losing her bag was too much for her,” the dark-haired man explained, solemnly.
At that moment, a young blond-haired man ran towards them from the direction of the hotel.
“That’s my cousin,” Heyes explained to the bank manager. “He’s been sitting with our aunt.”
“Aunt Emily’s, taken worse,” Kid said, when he reached them. “She’s fretting over the bag. It seems Uncle Wilbur’s photograph was in it.”
“The only one she has of him?” Heyes asked, shocked.
“Yeah,” Kid said, looking at the bank manager. “It’s the only thing she has left after the house fire, that took him.” He cast sad blue eyes on Mr. Snelling. Heyes and Kid removed their hats for a moment of thoughtful respect.
“Sir, could we look inside to see if it’s there? Please?” Heyes asked, appealing to the bank manager’s good nature.
“Well I don’t suppose it will hurt,” the older man said. “Just a quick look mind, because my wife will be expecting me home soon.” He unlocked the door, missing the smile that passed between the two young men and the smug expression on Heyes’ face.
As soon as they were inside the bank, Hannibal Heyes put a finger up to his lips, telling Mr. Snelling to be quiet. Behind them, Kid closed the door and leaned against it.
“Sir, I want you to be real quiet and help us out,” Heyes said.
“Why are we whispering?” Mr. Snelling asked, not yet having realised what the men were up to.
“Because we came here to collect something and it isn’t our aunt’s handbag,” Heyes told him.
“No it isn’t.”
“Then what do you want?” The bank manager looked puzzled.
“Well now I’m real glad you asked,” Heyes said, placing a companionable arm around the shorter man’s shoulders. Kid watched his partner at work. “We want you to open the safe for us and take out some money,” Heyes explained.
“I’m afraid the bank itself is closed, but I’ll happily help you look for your aunt’s bag.”
“There isn’t any bag,” Kid said from behind them.
“There isn’t?” Mr. Snelling asked, confused.
“No,” Kid said, watching as the man began to realise what was happening.
“Oh,” Mr. Snelling said.
“So if you’ll come over here with me…” Heyes said, steering the man towards the safe. “You can get right to it.”
“I can’t open the safe until morning,” the man said.
“Course you can,” Heyes told him, firmly.
“I mean I won’t. It’s against bank policy,” the bank manager said, equally as firmly. He shrugged Heyes’ arm off his shoulders and headed back towards the door. Heyes looked heavenward for help. He didn’t receive any. As the bank manager stormed towards him, Kid drew his gun, lightning fast.
Heyes heard a thud and spun around. Mr. Snelling was lying on the floor at Kid’s feet.
“WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?” Heyes yelled. Kid looked aghast.
“NOTHIN’!” he yelled back.
“SHHH!” his partner cautioned and Kid glared at his friend. “He’s unconscious, Kid, on the floor, at your feet. Don’t tell me you didn’t do anything!”
“Well I didn’t,” Kid protested. “He just passed out!”
“People don’t just pass out!”
“Well he did!”
“You did something,” Heyes stated. “He was fine when he was with me.”
“Well he was about to walk outta here,” Kid said. “I don’t call that fine.”
“So you hit him?”
“Then why’s he down there?”
“I guess he saw my gun,” Kid suggested, waving the Colt in his right hand.
“You drew on him?” Heyes asked, exasperated. “Oh terrific, now it’s armed robbery!”
“Well it always was!” Kid snapped. “We’re armed and we’re robbing the bank!”
Heyes just glared at his friend, as he dropped to his knees beside the bank manager. He began to pat the man’s face.
“Mr. Snelling? Sir, wake up!”
“I guess he was scared and fainted,” Kid surmised, kneeling on the other side of the man. “He ain’t dead is he?”
“No!” Heyes scoffed and then having second thoughts, he leaned closer, watching for a breath from the older man. They saw Snelling’s chest rise and fall and exchanged a relieved glance.
“So what do we do now?” Kid asked. The two men sat back on their heels, thinking.
“We open the safe,” Heyes stated, confidently.
“How?” Kid asked.
“I’ll open it,” the dark-haired man told his friend.
“How?” Kid asked again.
“I can turn the dials and listen to the tumblers.”
“Heyes…” but Kid left the rest unsaid.
“I can do it, for real this time,” Heyes assured his friend, as he got to his feet. “I know I’ve only done this with old safes before, but I can do this Kid, really I can.”
Kid watched his partner walk towards the large metal safe, standing by the back wall. Heyes examined the metal door, ran his hand lovingly down the side and across the painted words.
“Alright Sweetheart, I’ll be real gentle with you,” he said. “You just give me what I want in return, okay?”
Kid rolled his eyes. Why didn’t Heyes just find himself a nice saloon girl, like everyone else? His partner knelt down and pressed his right ear to the metal door. Hannibal Heyes placed his fingers gently on the dial, closed his eyes and listened. He took a deep breath and began to turn the dial.
As his partner worked, Kid wandered from window to window. He stood far enough back, so as not to be seen, as he peered out into the street, watching for anyone approaching. He wondered if anyone had seen them enter the bank, or would they raise the alarm when the bank manager didn’t arrive home when expected. He didn’t know what he could do to help Heyes. Kid placed a chair in front of the large oak doors, to prevent anyone opening them without him knowing, and then he settled himself in a chair behind a nearby desk. It gave him an all round view of the doors, the windows and Heyes kneeling by the safe. After a few minutes, he put his feet up on the desk. Kid removed his gun from his holster and casually twirled it, as he waited.
Heyes heard a click and smiled. He turned the dial and there was another click. If he was correct, he was almost there. Just one more tumbler to go. He took a deep breath, enjoying the thrill of the challenge.
“Heyes!” his partner hissed. The dark-haired man ignored him. “HEYES!” Kid hissed louder.
“WHAT?” his friend asked, as his head snapped round.
“We’ve been here a long time.”
“I don’t know.”
“Well next time bring a watch!”
“There ain’t gonna be a next time,” Kid protested.
“Let me finish,” Heyes told him.
“I just thought you should know, the bank manager’s beginning to come round.”
“WHAT?” Heyes looked round, shocked.
“D’you think I should hit him?” Kid asked, clearly not relishing the task.
“NO!” Heyes considered what to do next. “Shut up and let me finish, but keep an eye on him,” Heyes instructed his friend. Kid did as he was told. He shut up and kept an eye on the man lying near the door, although he had no idea what he was going to do should the man wake up. Heyes rested his ear back against the metal door of the safe.
A sudden cry of triumph drew Kid’s attention and he turned to watch as Heyes opened the safe door. Kid was quickly at his partner’s side.
“I knew you could do it,” he said, proudly, slapping his friend on the back with delight.
They peered into the interior. The shelves were piled high with stacks of money. Their eyes opened wide in wonder, neither man having seen so much cash before in his life.
“Wow!” Kid said.
Heyes pulled a pile out and flicked through the bills, breathing in all those dollars. He grinned at his friend.
“Where’s the bag?” he asked.
“What bag?” Kid wanted to know.
“I told you to bring a bag,” Heyes reminded him.
“No you didn’t!”
“Yes I did. I said you…” He let out a sigh, took a bag from a shelf in the safe and began to stuff the notes inside, but it was small and would not hold much.
“How much should we take?” Kid asked, but a sudden groan stopped them in their tracks.
“Oh my head! What happened?” Mr. Snelling asked.
Heyes grabbed several more piles of notes, stuffed them into the bag and then, reaching forward, he shoved the moneybag inside Kid’s shirt.
“What are you…?” Kid protested, as Heyes stuffed a few more piles of notes inside Kid’s shirt. He placed a finger to his lips, silencing his friend, then quietly closed the safe door and turned the handle. The two men got slowly to their feet and walked, casually, to the bank manager’s side.
“Mr. Snelling?” Heyes said, as he knelt beside the man once more. “Sir, are you alright?” Heyes’ voice was filled with concern.
Snelling’s eyes opened and fell on Kid Curry. He was instantly frightened.
“Get away from me!” he cried, pushing himself backwards.
“Whoa sir, what’s wrong?” Heyes asked, innocently. “My friend won’t harm you.”
“He drew his gun on me!” Snelling told him, as he sat up.
“No he didn’t sir,” Heyes said and the bank manager looked confused.
“He didn’t?” Snelling looked at Kid, not remembering the young man being quite so portly.
“Sir, you fell,” Heyes told him.
“Yes sir,” Kid said. “Outside the bank. Hit your head too I think.”
“We brought you inside,” Heyes said, running with Kid’s story.
“I fell?” the bank manager asked again, clearly confused.
“You fell,” Heyes assured him.
“But what about your aunt’s handbag?” Mr. Snelling asked.
“I don’t have an aunt,” Heyes told him truthfully, feigning confusion of his own. “Are you feeling dizzy sir?”
“Should we get a doctor for you?” Kid asked and Heyes shook his head at his partner, warning him not to get carried away. They didn’t need anyone else knowing they were in the bank.
Mr. Snelling looked even more confused. He started to get to his feet, allowing Kid and Heyes to help him. The bank manager glanced around.
“Oh my, we’re in the bank!” he exclaimed. “You shouldn’t be here.”
“Well it was the closest place to take you,” Heyes explained. The bank manager ushered them to the door.
“I’m grateful to you both for your help but…” he shot a glance at the safe and was relieved to see the door closed. “But I really must lock up.” He gave them both a firm shove and all three men stepped out into the early evening light.
“Are you sure you’ll be alright to get home?” Heyes asked.
“We could always escort you,” Kid offered.
“No, no, I’ll be fine,” the bank manager assured them, as he locked the door to the bank. What had happened to him he wondered? These men seemed nice enough. If they did want him to open the safe why were they letting him go now? Perhaps they were right, he must have hit his head, but he’d never passed out before. He should get home to his wife, Louisa. Maybe he’d speak to the doctor about it in the morning. He had been working long hours lately, since the letter of complaint had arrived from their head office in Denver. Embarrassed, he bid the two men good evening and scurried off along the boardwalk.
Kid looked at Heyes. Heyes smiled at his friend.
“Did we just rob the bank?” Kid asked, patting his stuffed shirt.
“Yes, Kid we did,” Heyes assured him.
“And was the bank manager in there with us, when we did it?”
“He was,” Heyes said, his grin widening.
“Does the town know their bank’s been robbed?” Kid asked, smiling broadly at his partner.
“And was any of that part of your plan?” Kid asked.
Heyes brown eyes met his partner’s blue ones. He gave him a smug smile and turned towards his horse.
“Aw c’mon Heyes!” Kid called after him. “Heyes! Don’t try and tell me that was part of your plan!”
Unfortunately for Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry no one knew the bank had been robbed that night and Rupert Snelling wasn’t about to admit to anyone what he believed had happened. He found a way, over several months, to hide the losses the bank had somehow made on that fateful day.
Miller and his gang waited to see a report, in the newspaper, about the bank robbery. When no report appeared, they called Heyes and Curry liars. Despite their protestations to the contrary, Miller did not believe them. Even the money they showed him was not enough to convince the gang leader that they had robbed a bank. Surely they would have got more if they had? The two young desperados were not invited to join the Miller gang.
THE END…Until the next bank.