The First Train Robbery

The First Train Robbery

By Maz McCoy

“So this is the plan,” Hannibal Heyes announced. Cards and cups were cleared off the table, along with an old apple core. The newly elected leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang unfolded a large piece of paper and spread it out before them. The men gathered round. Kid Curry stood behind his partner, leaning against the wall, arms folded across his chest. “We’re going to rob the Denver train between Cedar Falls and Buffalo Springs,” Heyes declared. He watched the faces of the Gang for their reaction. Kyle Murtry continued chewing on a wad of tobacco, Wheat Carlson looked distinctly unimpressed, Lobo scratched the stubble on his chin and the rest were waiting to hear more. A few looks were exchanged but no one said a word.

“Now boys, I know we haven’t robbed a train before,” Heyes said, unperturbed by their silence. “But we can do this.”

“Didn’t Big Jim always say it was too risky?” Wheat said and Kid pushed off the wall, sensing trouble and ready to back his partner if needed.

“Big Jim’s not in charge anymore, Wheat,” Heyes reminded him. Everyone waited to see if Wheat would challenge their new leader any further. He didn’t. “Kid will jump onto the roof of the train as it passes through this ravine,” Heyes continued and tapped the map. “The train will be heading up hill and it slows around this bend.” He tapped the map again.

“You alright with that Kid?” Wheat asked, concern in his voice, as he looked up at the blond man.

“He’s fine about it,” Heyes answered for his friend, meeting Wheat’s eyes. Kid, remaining loyal to his partner, did not contradict him. They had discussed that part of the plan the night before…

***

“The train will slow about here,” Heyes said, pointing to the map, before scribbling something on a notepad. He sat at the table in the leader’s cabin, railroad timetables were open around him, along with a large map of Wyoming and the notepad he’d been scribbling on all evening. Kid could see calculations and drawings on pages torn from the pad. “You jump onto the roof of the train and make your way to the engine,” Heyes told his partner.

“I jump onto the roof of the train?” Kid asked, sceptically, from his seat by the fire, where he was cleaning his gun.

“Yeah,” Heyes said, not looking up from the map he was now studying intently.

“While it’s moving?” Kid asked, checking he’d heard correctly.

“Uh huh,” came the reply.

“I see,” Kid said, patiently, putting down his gun. “So I jump onto the roof of a moving train and then what?”

Heyes turned to face his friend.

“You run along the top of the train, make your way to the engine and then, drawing your gun, order them to stop the train,” Heyes stated triumphantly, waiting to hear his response.

“I see,” Kid said, thoughtfully. “Why don’t you jump onto the roof of a moving train?” he suggested.

“I can’t Kid, I’m the leader, I’m organising this. I hafta be there to see the others do their job right,” Heyes told him, innocently. “I hafta oversee my plan.”

“And if I fall off?” Kid asked, irritated at his partner’s apparent lack of concern.

“You won’t Kid. I have faith in you,” Heyes said with a smile and returned his attention to the map.

“Oh terrific,” Kid said, sarcastically. “You don’t think it would be better to wait until the train was out in the open? Or maybe stopped?” Kid asked.

“Kid, they’ll expect someone to ride up along side the train, about here,” Heyes tapped the map.

“Sounds good to me,” Kid nodded enthusiastically, but Heyes ignored him.

“They won’t expect someone to board it in the ravine,” Heyes told his friend, with a smug smile.

“And d’you know why they won’t expect that?” Kid asked.

Heyes looked up, curious.

“Because it’s SUICIDAL!” Kid yelled.

“Kid, I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were more courageous than that. You gotta have faith.”

“Courage ain’t got nothin’ to do with it! And if you’ve got so much faith, you jump on the train!”

Heyes looked up, clearly hurt by Kid’s lack of confidence in his plan.

“It’ll work Kid, you’ll be fine, trust me.”

Realising how excited and enthusiastic Heyes was, Kid didn’t have the heart to say no anymore. He also hadn’t been with the Gang that long and still felt he had to show Heyes he would back him, no matter what, even though he suspected he would soon plummet to his death from the Union Pacific Railroad.

***

“So what’s on the train?” Wheat asked, when Heyes had explained the plan.

“$30,000,” Heyes replied and every man in the room smiled. “That’s a pretty fair amount split between us.” There were nods of agreement and Heyes knew he had won them over. “All right, this is when we hit it,” he said and, eagerly, the men moved closer to hear the final details, although, as Kyle hadn’t taken a bath for a month or two, they wished he hadn’t moved in quite so close.

***

Three days later Kid Curry waited on a rocky ledge above the railway tracks. He checked his watch; not long now. He shifted nervously, as he waited for the train to come into view and enter the ravine. Kid still thought this was a ridiculous thing to be doing; still thought he was about to do himself some serious damage, if not kill himself. But, he had to back Heyes; had to show everyone he had faith in Heyes’ leadership, even though he was probably going to die doing it.

The sound of a distant train whistle caught his ear. Yep, he was about to plummet to his doom any moment now. Kid watched the plume of smoke rise into the air. He watched the train begin its ascent of the hill. Just as Heyes had predicted it began to slow down. Kid edged forward on the ledge, watching the cars pass by, waiting for the right moment.

He was ready …Any…moment….now…!

Kid jumped…

…and landed with a thud on the roof of the train. He couldn’t believe he’d done it. He smiled, relieved. Kid stood up, filled with renewed confidence. Maybe his partner was right after all and, boy, would he let Kid know it. Just then, the train gave a jolt. Kid stumbled, his feet slipped, arms flailing, he found nothing to hold onto and went tumbling over the edge of the roof.

***

Further along the track Kyle, Lobo and a few of the gang were dragging the branches of trees out of a wood that ran along the edge of the railroad and throwing them onto the tracks. Lobo looked at the small pile of branches they had created.

“Kyle, d’you think there’s enough there?” he mused.

Kyle looked at the tracks, thoughtfully. He spat out a gloop of tobacco juice, then hitched up his pants.

“Well, Heyes just said to put some branches across the tracks, Lobo,” he said. “He didn’t say how many to use.”

“That’s true,” Lobo agreed. “So you reckon we’re done here?”

Kyle smiled, revealing tobacco stained teeth.

“Yep, I reckon we are. Let’s go meet the others.”

The men headed for their horses.

***

From his vantage point on the rocks further along the line, Heyes heard the train whistle blow. Pushing his hat back on his head, he studied his watch. If all had gone to plan Kid should be making his way across the train roof by now and heading for the engine. Kyle should have the logs across the track. Wheat and the boys would be waiting. He smiled and headed for his horse.

***

Kid clung, precariously, to the edge of the train roof as it rattled along the track. Bushes, trees, and the ground below were no more than a blur as the train began to pick up speed once more. Kid tried to swing his right leg up onto the roof, but failed. He tried again, but couldn’t quite swing his leg high enough. He stopped on his third attempt when he felt his fingers slipping, losing their fragile grasp. Kid’s knuckles were white. A shrub growing out from the rocks brushed against him, hitting him in the face and scratching his cheek. Another larger branch almost dislodged him. Kid glanced up and groaned. A large, jagged piece of stone protruded up ahead. There was no way, both he and the train, could squeeze through the gap. If he didn’t get back on the roof soon, he’d be knocked off and the only place to go after that was under the wheels. Kid felt around, desperately, with his feet. The wall of stone grew closer, its razor sharp surface all too obvious.

Closer…Closer…

Any moment now Kid Curry was going to be an ex-outlaw, permanently. Finally…thankfully, he found a tentative foothold. Using it to steady himself, Kid swung his right leg up once more and his ankle caught on the edge of the roof.

Closer…Closer…

With one massive effort he pulled himself up, hauling his body onto the roof just as the train passed the outcrop. He’d made it. He was alive. With sweat running down his face, Kid lay panting.

“Heyes, if I survive this, I’m gonna flatten ya!” Kid muttered, as he pulled himself onto his knees. Carefully, he struggled to his feet, taking a moment to get his balance before heading off along the top of the train. Trying not to look down, Kid jumped the gap between the two cars, crash landing on the roof. He was sure anyone below would know someone was walking about up there. He regained his balance and then headed along the roof towards the tender.

***

As Hannibal Heyes rode out of the hills, he saw the train emerging from the ravine and on top of it was a man in a brown hat; his partner. Heyes felt a swell of pride as he watched Kid leap from one car to the next with apparent ease. It had been a good idea of his to have Kid jump on the train. He knew Kid could do it. Still smiling to himself, for his brilliant idea, Hannibal Heyes headed towards the rendezvous.

***

The engine lay up ahead but first Kid had to get across a wagon loaded with wood, and the tender full of coal. Taking a deep breath, he jumped from the final car, landing on the piles of wood. The logs shifted beneath his feet and, with no firm foothold, Kid went crashing down hard on his knees. He put out a hand to save himself, then cried out in pain. A huge splinter of wood, about three inches long, had buried itself deep in the palm of his left hand. For a moment Kid just stared at it, as he was jostled about amongst the wood. Finally, he took hold of the exposed end and pulled. Kid winced as the splinter came free, tearing his flesh. The wound began to bleed, profusely. Cursing, Kid pulled his bandana free from his neck and wrapped it around his hand, using his teeth to help tie it tight.

“Heyes, this had better be worth it because I am seriously thinkin’ of gettin’ another partner!” he mumbled, hauling himself to his feet once more. He jumped from the wood onto the tender and scrambled over the coal. Finally, his clothes, hands and face blackened with coal dust, Kid scrambled towards the engine.

***

Heyes didn’t know what was keeping his partner; Kid should have stopped the train by now. He saw the rest of the gang waiting up ahead in the shelter of the bushes at the rendezvous point. Each man had his bandana pulled up, covering his mouth and nose. Guns were drawn in readiness. The train approached but did not appear to be slowing down. Heyes hoped Kid was all right. If his partner did not manage to get to the engine in time, the logs on the track, placed as a final warning for the engineer to stop, would derail the train. That was not part of his plan. He didn’t want the passengers and crew hurt. The train should be slowing. He should have heard the squeal of the brakes. It was at that moment that Heyes saw the pile of branches lying across the path of the train. As he watched, in disbelief, the train ploughed through them, scattering twigs and leaves in all directions, and then moving on.

For a moment the usually eloquent Hannibal Heyes was lost for words. Branches and twigs! Kyle had placed branches and twigs on the track! Heyes shook his head in despair as the train disappeared from view. What was he going to do with them? The Devil’s Hole Gang were in danger of turning into a laughing stock. However, their incompetance may have just saved someone’s life.

***

Out of breath, his hand bleeding and in a foul mood, Kid finally reached the engine. He could see the engineer and the fireman standing with their backs to him and both seemed oblivious to his presence, as they focussed on their work. Positioning himself carefully, he peered over the edge of the tender and worked out where he could land on the footplate. At the very moment Kid decided to jump, the train gave another jolt, as it ploughed through some branches on the track. Kid caught his foot on the edge of the tender and tripped. He fell in a heap on the footplate, his foot twisting awkwardly beneath him.

“OW!” Kid cried. The engineer and fireman turned around, startled by the young man’s unconventional arrival. Recovering quickly, Kid drew his gun. “Hold it right there!” he said, trying to sound convincing, as he lay in the dust, his ankle screaming in pain.

The two men stared at him, not moving.

“I need you to stop the train,” Kid told them.

Both men seemed unconcerned by the gun waving at them. The engineer wiped his greasy hands on an equally greasy cloth.

“You’re new at this ain’t ya son?” he said, with a wry smile.

***

“What was that on the track Kyle?” Heyes demanded when he reached the rest of the gang.

“Branches and stuff Heyes, just like you said. Can’t say I know what they was supposed to do though,” the little man told him.

“LOGS, Kyle. I said LOGS! Tree trunks! Great swathes of the forest,” Heyes reminded him.

“Well I knew it was something to do with trees,” Kyle said by way of explanation. “Didn’t see no swathes though.”

“Logs are a darn sight different to twigs and branches!”

“Well I know that Heyes, but you didn’t say what you wanted them for.”

“TO STOP THE TRAIN KYLE! What did you think I wanted them for?”

Kyle looked sheepish.

“Well with a Hannibal Heyes plan, you never can tell.” Around him, others nodded their agreement.

Heyes closed his eyes, praying silently for guidance and the strength not to throttle the man.

***

“Stop the train!” Kid demanded, trying to sound more convincing than he felt, as he waved his gun and hobbled on one foot. “Please.”

“Sure son,” the man said, suddenly surprisingly cooperative. Feeling pleased with himself, Kid stood behind them, watching for any tricks the men might try. The engineer pulled a few levers and the train began to slow. Kid was feeling pretty smug, as the wheels squealed and the train pulled to a halt; that was until he saw the water tower beside the track. The engineer gave Kid a knowing smile, when he saw realisation on the young man’s face.

“We have to stop here anyway, to take on water,” the engineer told him. “You coulda just waited for us here,” he said with a sympathetic smile. “Woulda saved yourself an awful lot of trouble.”

“I’m gonna kill ya Heyes,” Kid muttered to himself and he smiled at the engineer through gritted teeth.

***

The engineer and fireman jumped down from the engine, as Hannibal Heyes and the Devil’s Hole Gang rode into view. They waited patiently beside the train, apparently used to the routine. Heyes had a wide grin on his face when he saw Kid on the footplate. The grin slowly dissolved when he saw the glare his partner was giving him.

“Everything all right?” Heyes asked, cautiously, noting the coal dust on his friend’s clothes and face.

“You didn’t mention the water tower,” Kid stated, jerking his thumb behind him and Heyes shot a glance beyond the train.

“I don’t think that was on the map,” Heyes mused.

“Not…on…the map?” Kid asked, through gritted teeth. “Well who drew the map?”

Heyes cast a look at Wheat, sitting on his horse, further down the track.

“Who came up with the plan?” Kid asked, rhetorically. “Who should have known there was a water tower?”

Kid eased himself down from the footplate and Heyes saw his friend limping.

“What happened? You get hurt?” he asked with concern.

“Dumbest idea you ever had,” Kid muttered, as he hobbled his way past his friend towards the freight car.

Heyes spotted the bloody bandana around Kid’s hand.

“Hey, you’re bleeding!”

Kid turned sharply.

“I KNOW!” he snapped. He stood no more than three inches from his friend’s face. “I am lucky to be alive right now, but I am not gonna say anything about that until we’re back at Devil’s Hole, okay?” he snarled.

“Okay,” Heyes said, patiently, surprised at how angry Kid was and deciding it was best just to humour him for now. As Kid said, they could talk about it once they were back at the Hole. He watched his partner limp off.

***

By the time they reached the freight car, the gang had the door open and Heyes climbed up to take a look at the safe. He smiled fondly, as he saw the name printed on the door and the large dial beckoning, seductively to him. Heyes pushed back his hat, removed his gloves, knelt beside the safe and placed his ear against the metal door. His fingers rested on the dial, caressing its ridges. His eyes closed and he let out a deep sigh of contentment. Kid watched, shook his head and rolled his eyes. That man had to get himself a girl, real soon. Kid rotated his injured ankle, wincing as he did so.

Along the track the rest of the gang had the passengers off the train and were keeping them in check. Kid looked back at Heyes and saw his partner frown.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. Heyes didn’t answer. “Heyes?”

“They’ve changed it,” the dark-haired man announced, sitting back on his heels. “It’s a new model. They’ve changed the mechanism.” He didn’t look pleased.

“Can you open it?”

“Not quickly.” Kid’s face clouded over.

“What do we do?”

“Tell Kyle to bring the dynamite,” his partner told him, reluctantly and Kid went to find Kyle.

***

Kyle Murtry smiled as he placed the fuse inside the bundle of dynamite, attached to the front of the safe.

“Guess it was a good job I brought enough, Heyes,” he said, still chewing on the tobacco. “Kinda makes up for not finding any swathes.”

Standing in the open doorway Kid gave Heyes a puzzled look.

“Don’t ask,” his partner told him.

“Alright it’s set,” Kyle announced.

“Okay, light the fuse. Kid make sure the passengers are clear.” Kid gave a nod, jumped down from the car, winced, as his injured foot hit the ground and hobbled off along the track. Heyes turned to Kyle and saw the fuse was not lit. “What’s the hold up?”

“I ain’t got no matches Heyes,” the small man stated.

“WHAT?”

“I ain’t got no…”

“I heard!” Heyes told him. “Why didn’t you bring any?”

“Well you was gonna open the safe, we didn’t need the dynamite, so I didn’t bring any matches.”

“Then why did you bring the dynamite?” Heyes asked, as he searched his own pockets to no avail.

“I always bring dynamite,” Kyle told him with a smile.

Heyes took a deep breath, looked along the train. He spotted Kid standing back from the rest of the gang, his eyes on the passengers, smiling. Heyes followed the blond man’s gaze and saw a pretty, young woman smiling back at him. Kid touched the brim of his hat to her and she blushed and looked down, but then quickly looked back at the handsome young outlaw. Heyes jumped down from the train and strode towards his friend just as Kid removed his gun from his holster and twirled it a couple of times. The young woman, a school teacher on her way to her first teaching post, out west, smiled again, as Kid dropped the gun back into its holster.

“Will you cut it out!” Heyes snapped, punching Kid on the arm. “Concentrate will ya!”

Kid looked sheepish.

“I need you back there,” Heyes told him. Kid shot the young woman a parting glance and winked at her; then followed his partner back to the freight car.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Got any matches?” Heyes asked. Kid looked up at Kyle who grinned back. Kid searched his pockets.

“Nope,” he announced.

“Why not?” Heyes asked.

“Well sheesh Heyes, between jumping onto a moving train, clambering over a pile of logs and coal, and waving my gun at the engineer, I guess it slipped my mind!” his partner told him angrily. “Why ain’t you got any?”

“Maybe Wheat has some,” Heyes suggested, ignoring the question. Kid glared at him and then headed back to the Gang. Heyes watched as, in turn, each member of the Devil’s Hole Gang began to search his pockets and then shook his head.

It was at this moment that the passengers began to murmur. It was clear they were not happy about the train being stopped, or the way in which they had been hauled out of their comfortable carriage and made to stand at the side of the track by these uncouth men. Some of the women appeared scared, others were indignant at their treatment. With their attention on the search for matches, the train robbers failed to see a small group of passengers, slip away and head towards the freight car.

“Are you in charge here?” a tall man, with a neatly trimmed moustache, demanded, as they surrounded the dark-haired young man, who appeared to be the leader of this sorry band of outlaws.

“Yes,” Heyes said, surprised to see the passengers and clearly concerned that they had been allowed to approach him.

“How long is this going to take?” the man wanted to know. “When will we be allowed back on the train?”

“When we’ve finished robbin’ it!” Heyes snapped.

“There’s no need to take that tone young man,” a motherly woman scolded. “We have a wedding to get to in Buffalo Springs.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” Heyes apologised, holding his hand up to placate them. “But I’m kinda busy at the moment, trying to get the safe open!”

“Well you’re not doing a very good job of it, as far as I can see,” she told him.

“Yeah,” agreed a small man, standing at the back of the group. “I was on a train the Grayson brother’s robbed about four months back and they had the safe open and were gone by now.”

Heyes glared at the man.

“We’ve run into a little problem. If we hadn’t we’d of been outta here too!” Heyes told him.

“Don’t let ‘em get to you Heyes,” Kid said, sympathetically, as he approached the group. He gave the young woman he’d seen earlier his most charming smile, then placed a hand on his partner’s shoulder and steered him back towards the box car.

“You got the matches?” Heyes asked, his eyes still on the passengers. “I just don’t want them to think we can’t do this.”

“I’m sure they don’t think that,” Kid said with a smile, although he wasn’t so sure that was true.

“Hmph. Matches?” Heyes asked, holding out his hand.

“We don’t have any,” Kid said, still smiling at the passengers.

“WHAT?” Heyes cried and the passengers looked up at him.

“We don’t have any matches,” Kid repeated.

Heyes turned away, taking a deep breath to control his temper.

“When can we get going?” the motherly woman asked behind him. “If we don’t get to Buffalo Springs by twelve thirty we’ll miss the wedding. I’ve come all the way from New York to see my nephew get married and if I don’t get there on time you’ll answer to me,” she tapped Heyes on the shoulder with her finger. The dark-haired man spun round and two brown eyes fixed on hers.

“You’ll get to your wedding!” he told her, through gritted teeth.

“Hmph, so you say,” she scoffed.

“Yeah, we need to get moving now!” a man called.

“C’mon if your train robbers rob the train so we can get going!”

“I don’t think they can do it!”

“Call themselves train robbers, I ain’t seen ‘em rob anything yet!”

As other passengers approached them, Heyes felt the situation was beginning to get out of hand. Passengers began to loom closer, crowding around the dark-haired man. A sudden gun shot startled everyone and they turned to see Kid Curry standing to one side, his gun pointed skywards, having just shot a bullet into the air. Silence returned.

“Step back folks. Let’s give my partner some room to think,” Kid stated and the passengers began to move away from Heyes.

“There’s no need for violence,” a man said.

“It’s a train robbery, what did you expect?” Kid snapped. The man glared at Kid. “Should I shoot him?” Kid asked Heyes, flippantly.

“I don’t know, you’re the one with the gun, you figure it out,” Heyes said, clearly dejected that his well-planned robbery was not going…to plan. Kid gave the man an ominous smile and he stepped quickly back into the crowd.

“Even a train robber can show some manners,” the motherly woman reminded him. Kid looked aghast and Heyes stepped in before things took a turn for the worse.

“All right. Now I want everyone to turn out their pockets,” he commanded.

“I thought you said we weren’t robbin’ the passengers,” Wheat reminded him, from in the crowd.

“Wheat, what the heck are you doing in there with ‘em?” Heyes demanded. “Will you get on this side!” Wheat made his way to the front of the crowd, moving to stand beside Heyes.

“And we’re not robbin’ em,” Heyes told him. “But I reckon one of them’s gotta have some matches.”

“All right boys, search the passengers!” Wheat commanded and the Devil’s Hole Gang moved towards the group. “It’s all right folks,” Wheat assured them. “We ain’t gonna rob ya. We just want to see if any of you has any matches. And you don’t need to search the ladies Lobo!” Lobo’s face dropped but he moved away from the young women.

“I have some matches,” the tall man stated, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out the matches and held them up.

“Now that’s real good of ya,” Wheat said, taking them from him.

“We’ll give the ones we don’t need back,” Kyle said, as he passed by.

“Thank you,” the man said, trying not to breathe in the smell of the little man.

Climbing back into the freight car, Kyle knelt beside the safe, struck the match and lit the fuse.

“EVERYBODY HIT THE DIRT!” Kid yelled and passengers and train robbers alike scrambled for safety.

***

Hidden behind tree stumps and rocks, they waited, outlaws and passengers, hands over ears or covering their heads for protection. Kid found himself, nestled behind a large boulder, beside a certain, pretty young woman. He held her trembling hand, to reassure her. Time ticked slowly by and then there was a loud BOOM! Heyes gave Kid a triumphant smile and then frowned, in disbelief, when he saw who was beside his partner. The two men, followed by Wheat and Kyle set off towards the freight car. Heyes clambered up inside and over to the safe. Opening the door he reached in, pushing aside papers and envelopes. Heyes pulled out a large money bag, opened it, and looked inside. The bag contained several bundles of notes.

“Let’s go,” he said, as he closed the bag and jumped down from the train. The Devil’s Hole Gang headed for their horses. Kid swung himself into the saddle and cast a glance at the passengers, searching amongst the faces for the young woman. He touched the brim of his hat to her, as the motherly woman shot him a glare and pulled the woman away.

The Devil’s Hole Gang spurred their horses and rode away, leaving the passengers to reboard the train and head off, once more, for the wedding in Buffalo Springs.

***

The cabins at Devil’s Hole were a welcome sight for the Gang as they rode in late that night. There had been no posse following them and spirits were high, as they climbed, dusty and tired, from their horses. The men headed to the main cabin.

“Break out the whisky boys we got something to celebrate!” Wheat cried, as he followed them in.

“I can’t wait to see that money,” Lobo stated. “I’m going into town and get me a girl and bath.”

“Best make it the bath first or you ain’t gonna get anything,” Wheat told him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“You did it Heyes,” Kid said, proudly, as they stood together beside their horses.

“Yeah,” Heyes said, quietly, as he pulled the money bag from inside his jacket. “Our first train robbery. Although for a moment there…”

“For a moment there I was ready to kill ya,” Kid told him. “Jumping onto the roof of a moving train. Whatever were you thinkin’?”

“It worked didn’t it?” Heyes protested.

“Yeah, and I nearly got killed doin’ it.” Heyes looked shocked. “I fell off, Heyes. I was clinging on for my life!”

“I’m sorry Kid. If I’d known about that water tower…”

“Hey, you boys coming in with the money or what?” Wheat called from the doorway.

“We’re on our way,” Heyes called in reply, slapping Kid, affectionately, on the back.

***

The men gathered around the table. Once again, cups and cards were cleared away. Heyes rested the money bag on the table and began to untie it. Anxious faces peered closer. They held their breath, wondering just how much their share would be, some already planning on what to do with the cash. Their leader tipped the money onto the table.

“Whooweee!” Kyle exclaimed, as he saw bundles and bundles of notes and the number one hundred loomed out at him, over and over again. Wheat picked up a bundle and flicked through it, breathing in the smell of thirty thousand dollars.

Heyes smiled smugly at a job well done, enjoying the enthusiasm of the gang; their smiling faces; their confidence in his leadership. He looked up at Kid, but Kid wasn’t smiling.

“What’s wrong?” Heyes asked, quietly, hoping his friend wasn’t going to say something to spoil the occasion.

“What’s the writing say?” Kid asked.

“What?”

“On the notes,” Kid said.

“Huh?” Heyes picked up a bundle and looked closer. His face clouded over. The room fell silent. Wheat took a closer look at the notes.

“This ain’t American,” Wheat stated. The others looked closer, the bundles were examined. All eyes fell on Heyes, expectantly.

“It’s French Francs,” Heyes said. He looked crest fallen, as he flicked through the bundles of notes.

“French what?” Kyle asked.

“Francs, like American dollars only French,” Kid explained.

“It’s French money?” Lobo asked.

“Yep,” Wheat stated.

“Can we spend it?” Kyle asked.

“Nope,” Wheat said, throwing the bundle onto the table and giving Heyes a knowing look.

“There’s still $30,000 worth,” Heyes reminded them.

“Yeah, but what good’s $30,000 worth of something, if we can’t spend it?” Wheat demanded.

“You tellin’ me we just robbed a train for nothin’?” Lobo asked.

“That’s right Lobo,” Wheat said, smugly. “Our new leader just risked our necks for nothin’.”

“I guess we could exchange it for American currency somewhere,” Kid suggested.

“Oh sure, Kid,” Heyes said, flippantly. “Just walk into a bank and ask them to change it for us. And when they ask where we got it from, what exactly are we supposed to say? That we’ve just come back from a trip to Paris, France?”

Kid shrugged.

“Just a thought,” he stated.

“I know,” Heyes told him. He looked at the Gang. “I’m sorry boys. I guess our information was a little…inaccurate.”

No one said a word; they all just looked at Heyes.

“Still it’s not a complete waste of time,” the leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang said. “I mean, I’m sure we all learned something that will help us next time. Right?”

“Yeah, we learnt something all right,” Wheat stated, sinking down onto a chair.

“Kyle, you learnt something?” Heyes asked.

“I learnt I don’t know what swathes are,” the little man stated.

“Kid?” Heyes, asked hopefully.

“Heyes,” Kid said kindly, placing a hand on his partner’s shoulder. “You really don’t want to know.”

THE END…until the next train.

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