Varmints

Varmints

By Maz McCoy

“Kid! This way!”

Kid watched as Heyes disappeared around the corner of a building. He followed as fast as he could but with a full belly, from a meal taken at the porch table outside the town cafeteria, he had trouble keeping up. Maybe that last mouthful hadn’t been the best idea but that chicken sure had tasted good and it was worth a little loss of speed.

It had been a while since they’d both had a full stomach but it was as they gobbled down the final few slivers of chicken that the men had spotted them. Recognising them for the outlaws they were they instantly gave chase. Dishes and cups fell from the table and clattered to the ground as they made their getaway. They men gave chase, across Main Street, along the boardwalk and around the corner of the General Store. Fortunately, at that time of night, there was no one else around to form a posse.

When Kid finally caught up to Heyes he was halfway up a drainpipe on the outside of the Hotel.

“Heyes! Where the heck are you going?” Kid asked.

“I can see a gap big enough for us to squeeze through,” his friend replied. “We can hide in the attic.”

Not wanting to doubt his partner and having no better plan of his own, Kid grabbed hold of the drainpipe and followed his friend up the wall. He got a good grip between the wall and the downpipe and was soon squeezing himself into the gap just below the roof’s eaves. It was a tight squeeze; another reason to regret that last piece of chicken. He’d put on a few pounds lately and couldn’t blame the notion of ‘fattening up for winter’ as it was still the height of summer.

Once inside the attic it took Kid a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He heard a movement up ahead. “Heyes?” he asked, in a whisper.

“Over here,” came the reply.

As Kid felt his way carefully along the main beam, the sound of men’s voices drifted up to them from the alley below.

“We lost those varmints!” one man growled.

“Darn thieves. I reckon it was them broke into my hen house last week and I swear someone stole the fish from Aunt Ada’s pond.”

“You reckon it was them?”

“Who else? I tell ya, I’m keepin’ my shotgun by the back door and if I see them again I’m usin’ it and to Hell with the sheriff’s new law about discharging a firearm within the city limits.”

“Maybe once he knows who we’re after he’ll look the other way?”

“I blame those do-gooder women folk always thinkin’ they can change their varmint ways with a little kindness. Offerin’ ‘em food all the time.”

“A thief’s a thief in my book!”

“You’re right, Horace.” The man gave a heavy sigh of resignation. “Well, I guess we lost them this time.”

“Reckon so.”

Kid waited until the sound of the men’s footsteps faded into the distance before moving deeper into the attic. He found Heyes tucked in a far corner and to his surprise there was another outlaw sitting beside him.

“Who’s this?” Kid asked, twitching his fingers together, his eyes narrowing behind his black mask.

“Say’s his name’s Kyle,” Heyes informed him as he brushed dust from his fur. “He wants to join us.”

“I didn’t know we were startin’ a gang,” Kid grumbled as he settled onto a beam.

“Maybe we should. We could use another pair of eyes keeping a look-out.”

“I can show you some good feedin’ places,” Kyle offered. He was a scruffy looking racoon and after he finished speaking he spat out a gloop of berry juice.

“I don’t know…” Kid hesitated.

The smaller racoon reached behind him and pulled out a goldfish. “I brought fish,” he announced and smiled, revealing berry stained teeth. “I always bring fish.”

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