The Long Road
by Storm Richards
Hannibal Heyes rolled over; buried under the covers, he could feel the chill in the air. It was only mid-October, but it felt like a late November morning. He looked to his left; Laurie lay sleeping peacefully. He had heard her get up a couple times in the night; she had been sick since the beginning of the week. He lay there watching her breath and he started to think. This would be the first winter he, Laurie and Kid would spend in the house. Laurie bought it for them last year, but it was in need of repair before they moved in. Staying at the Jansen's hotel, they worked almost non-stop trying to get it ready for last winter, but in the end, decided it would be smarter to wait it out at the hotel. During the winter, Heyes, Kid and Walter kept themselves occupied by beginning planning the saloon they intended to build next to the hotel.
They finally finished the necessary repairs on the house and moved in late spring. There were still plenty of things that needed to be done but they were more of a cosmetic nature that is, except the barn. Before they could get any more horses, it needed major work. Even for the horses they already had the barn's roof needed repairing before the first snow. Heyes watched Laurie for a few more minutes, wanting to reach out and stroke her face but not wanting to disturb her. She looked so cozy and peaceful. He hoped she was getting better. He decided to quietly get up and go downstairs to start breakfast.
"Hrumph," Kid groaned as he walked into the kitchen. "You're cookin' breakfast?" he asked not sounding all too pleased.
"Be my guest," Heyes said as he turned to his partner and stepped away from the stove.
"No offense Heyes," Kid said putting his hands in front of him. "Just got used to Laurie's cooking. How's she feeling today?"
"Don't know," Heyes responded, turning back around as he continued preparing the coffee. "She was still asleep when I got up. I know she was tossing and turning last night, so I thought I would let her sleep in."
"You think she'll go to the doctor today?" Kid asked. "Maybe we should have him come out here."
"Yeah, that went over real well when we tried that at the beginning of the week," Heyes chuckled.
"Doc said it's going around and could last ‘til the end of the week."
Kid looked at Heyes. He didn't look worried so he decided he wouldn't be. "Why don't you hand me the bacon and I'll slice it up?" Kid said as he walked over to the counter next to his partner. "Might as well give ya a hand."
"Why not light the stove first?" Heyes mentioned. "I didn't get to it yet." Heyes paused and shuddered slightly, "There's a bit of a chill in the air."
"Was thinkin' the same thing."
"We should head into town after breakfast. We need to get supplies and we should pick up some lumber to fix up the barn roof. Think winter might be coming in early."
"Maybe Laurie will come with us," Kid said enthusiastically. "You can get her to go see the doc."
Heyes chuckled, "I'd like to stay married. Maybe you could get her to go see the doc."
"Yep, and proud to admit it."
"Proud to admit what, Han?" Laurie said as she walked in still wearing her robe.
Heyes and Kid turned to see Laurie standing in the door, "Um, I was just telling Kid that I think winter might be coming early this year," Heyes stammered. "He said I sounded so sure, so I said yep and proud to admit it!"
Kid rolled his eyes at Heyes making sure not to look in Laurie's direction. "Better get some wood," he quickly said and ran out the side door.
Laurie gave her husband a very skeptical look, "Predicting the weather now Hannibal Heyes," she said as she walked over to him. "Somehow I think something is missing?"
"No," he said as he picked up the bacon Kid had abandoned as he ran out the door and began to slice it.
"We'll see," Laurie said as she wrapped her arms around the back of Heyes and nuzzled in. "In any case, you're nice and warm. Why did you let me sleep so late?"
"You looked so cozy, I didn't want to disturb you. I know you haven't been sleeping well. No reason Kid and I can't get breakfast going."
"Kid must have been thrilled."
Heyes turned around and wrapped his arms around Laurie as she laid her head on his chest. "Doesn't matter what Kid thinks, it matters that you get better."
Laurie's eyes drifted up to Heyes' as she curled up her nose, "I am better."
"Well, it can't hurt to have a little extra sleep," he said, kissing her nose.
Kid walked back into the kitchen with an arm full of wood and went over to light the stove.
"So Kid," Laurie began, "Were you going to have the doctor come out here again or was I supposed to go into town with the two of you?"
Kid dropped the wood on the floor. "I don't know what you're talkin' about, but if you want to see the doctor, I'll go get him," he stuttered as he turned to walk out the door.
"Stop," Laurie said as she let go of Heyes and turned to face the blond haired man. "I didn't say I wanted the doctor. I was just inquiring the plan the two of you were discussing when I came in."
"Wha....I...not....it....no". Kid hemmed and hawed. "Heyes," Kid said pointing his finger, "She did that lip thing again and you told her didn't you!"
"I didn't say anything!" Heyes argued.
"Yes you did," Kid said accusing Heyes, "Laurie did the lip thing and you caved!"
"What lip thing?" Heyes yelled.
"You know, when she bites her bottom lip," Kid said frantically waving his hands. "You know you have no control when she does that! Anything she wants!"
"Ha! I have no control! All Laurie has to do is offer to make you blueberry muffins or pie and you're putty in her hand!" Heyes countered.
"That's not true!"
"I didn't cave, you did!"
"Then how did she know?"
"I don't know!" Heyes said, flustered and then looked at Laurie who was standing there amused at the two of them. "How did you know?"
"Could be that the two of you aren't the quietest when having a conversation you don't want to be overheard," she smiled at them both.
"Oh," they both said then they looked at the floor like they were ten years old and got their hand caught in the cookie jar.
"I will go to town with you. I am not going to waste the doctor's time seeing him. I am fine. Now while you get breakfast, I'm going to go get dressed." She turned to Heyes and gave him a kiss on the cheek and another to Kid as she passed him on her way to the hallway. Laurie then scooted up the stairs as fast as she could to the bedroom and closed the door behind her as she raced to the basin. She proceeded to be sick.
"There you are," Heyes said as he walked out the front door onto the porch and spotted Laurie off to the side. "Been looking for you, breakfast is ready. What are you doing?"
Laurie quickly turned and walked up onto the porch, "Oh just cleaning the basin. With Kid so worried about me being sick, I thought I would rinse it to get all the ‘germs' out," she said trying to sound light. "I'm not that hungry. Why don't you go ahead and eat?" she said as she walked past Heyes and into the house.
As she turned to go up stairs, Heyes lightly grabbed her arm, "No you don't. You need to eat something."
Laurie turned to look at him, "But..."
Heyes put his hand up to stop her, placing his finger on her lips, "None of that lip thing," he said with a smile. "You don't have to eat a lot but you have to eat something. Kid might be the one who said something, but I'm worried too. You need to eat so you don't have a relapse okay?"
Smiling, Laurie nodded her head.
Heyes pulled her into a hug, kissing her forehead.
"Mmmmm," Laurie purred.
Heyes leaned back slightly and looked down at her, "By the way, what's with you calling me Han?"
Laurie looked at him confused.
"When you walked into the kitchen before, you called me Han. I know, you're not mad at me, at least I don't think I did anything wrong. We're not in bed, so why?"
Laurie twisted her face slightly, "I don't know, maybe I wasn't all the way awake. I don't remember doing it, sorry."
"You don't need to be sorry," Heyes looked at her, studying her face to see if he could read it. "Just wanted to make sure everything is okay."
Laurie sighed and leaned into Heyes giving him a hug, "Everything is wonderful." She held on for a few minutes. She knew she had to be more careful or he would know something was wrong.
"Breakfast is getting cold!" Kid shouted from the kitchen.
"Let's go eat before Kid eats it all," Heyes said quietly as he turned them towards the kitchen.
Kid was seated with a full plate in front of him eating, there were two additional plates on the table.
"Um," Kid said with a full mouth, "I made you both plates."
"Thanks Kid," Heyes said taking his usual seat.
"What is that?" Laurie laughed pointing at the plate sitting at her place.
"Your breakfast," Kid said as he continued to eat.
"There is enough on that plate for all three of us!" Laurie laughed.
"You haven't been eatin', you need your energy," Kid stated.
"I would explode if I ate all of that," she stated.
Heyes looked at Kid and nodded his head in agreement.
Walking over to Kid's side, Laurie placed her hand on his shoulder, "How ‘bout if I start with some eggs and toast?"
"And bacon," Kid said looking up at her.
"Not today," Laurie said and saw Kid's face drop. "You're right, I do need to eat, but I also need to take it slow, okay."
Kid looked at Heyes who nodded his head ever so slightly, "Okay."
Laurie sat down and took a small portion of eggs and toast off her plate. As she sat staring at them, she willed herself to eat them.
Heyes pulled the wagon up in front of the feed store. "We're going to get what we need here and then go over to get the lumber for the barn," he said. "Are you heading to the General Store?" he asked Laurie who was sitting beside him in the wagon.
"Yep, I'll go give the list to Matt and then I want to go see Doris."
"Okay, when we're done, we'll pick up the order at the General Store and we'll meet at the hotel," Heyes said as he got down and waited to help Laurie down.
"Thank you," she said as she reached the ground and kissed Heyes on the cheek. "See you shortly." Turning to leave she yelled over her shoulder, "Bye Thaddeus."
"Laurie," Kid said tipping his hat at her as he was tying his horse's lead to the hitching post.
Heyes and Kid had just finished filling the wagon with the lumber they needed for the barn roof when Mr. Quimby, the telegraph operator came running. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," he called. "I have an important telegram," he shouted, waiving it in the air. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones..." he said out of breath.
"Thank you, Mr. Quimby," Heyes said taking the telegram.
"So, glad I caught you," Mr. Quimby replied. "It said, urgent and respond immediately."
Kid look at Heyes.
"It's from Lom." Heyes looked at Mr. Quimby, "We'll be right over with a response," he said and tipped his hat.
"What's Lom have to say?" Kid asked.
"Says he has an important job for us. Needs us as soon as we can get there."
"What'd you think he wants?"
"No idea," Heyes said shrugging his shoulders as he continued to stare at the telegram as though it would tell him more.
"Hey," Laurie called out as she approached the wagon. "Heard you got an important telegram."
"From Lom," Heyes said turning to look at her as she approached.
"Well?" Laurie asked.
"Says he has an important job for us and he needs an immediate response," Kid replied.
"So what are you doing standing here?" Laurie asked.
"We haven't discussed it yet," Heyes replied.
"No discussion. It's Lom," Laurie stated. "You're taking the job. Go respond."
"We don't even know what the job is," Heyes argued.
"It doesn't matter, it's Lom," Laurie said sternly placing her hands on her hips. "Go!" she ordered and pointed towards the telegraph office.
Heyes and Kid look at each other and started walking. "So Kid, what do you think?" Heyes asked.
"Think Laurie has a point. Lom doesn't ask very often. He said it was important. I think we take it even though we don't know what it is," Kid replied.
"Yeah," Heyes said. He twisted his face as he looked at the telegram and stopped walking. "He didn't say how much," he said looking at Kid. "I don't think we're getting paid for this."
Kid frowned, "Don't think it matters, Heyes. Lom asked for us and said it was important. We gotta go see what he needs."
Heyes sighed and started to walk again. "I'm just not real happy not knowing what it is and figuring we're not gonna get paid. I was hoping to be able to buy some horses soon."
"We'll get the money soon enough," Kid replied. "Once we open the saloon with Walter we'll have the money."
Doris walked out the back of the hotel and spotting Laurie off to the side she called out, "Laurie, are you alright dear?"
Laurie quickly wiped her mouth and turned around but didn't walk closer to Doris, "I'm fine."
"Why are you all the way over there?"
Laurie didn't know what to say. Finally she said, "Just came out here to think."
Doris looked curiously at her and thought she noticed something on her top. Walking towards Laurie she asked again, "Are you sure you're alright dear?"
"Yes," Laurie said sounding nervous as she started to move away.
"Laurie please wait," Doris called out.
Laurie stopped with her back towards Doris, her body becoming tense as she heard Doris just a few feet away.
"Laurie, dear, please turn around and look at me."
Laurie slowly turned around holding her hands up in front of her blouse trying to hide something but also trying not to look like she was.
Doris put her hands on Laurie's and slowly moved them. She then looked at the ground where Laurie had been standing. "You're still sick, aren't you?"
"You can't tell anyone. Doris, please," Laurie pleaded. "Please! You can't tell anyone."
"But Joshua should know."
"No!" Laurie said with a look of horror on her face and panic in her voice. "You can't tell him. He just got a telegram from Lom. He needs him for a really important job. If Heyes knows, he won't go. It could be for his amnesty. He can't know!"
"Laurie, he's your husband."
"Promise me you won't tell him."
"Laurie, he should know."
"No, he can't...." Laurie's voice trailed off and her lip began to tremble as tears filled her eyes.
"Dear what's the matter? Everything will be alright. We'll get you to the doctor and everything will be fine."
Laurie shook her head.
"Yes it will dear. I promise."
"You can't," Laurie said as her voice trembled.
"I don't understand. The doctor will help you."
"No. He can't," Laurie paused for a moment. "This is how it started with my father before he died. There wasn't a reason. They couldn't figure anything out. The doctor was at our house in the beginning of the week. He said the same things to me that the doctor told my mother. We couldn't do anything. We just watched him slowly die." Tears began to stream down her face.
Doris pulled Laurie into a hug, "Oh dear. Does Joshua know this is what you are thinking?"
Laurie shook her head.
"Well, I think he should."
"No, he needs to take this job. It's for Lom," Laurie said as she took a step back from Doris. "If I just have a stomach illness, I will be better when he gets back. If I don't, he doesn't need another week to worry about me."
Doris shook her head, "Okay dear, you win. I won't say anything to Joshua now, if you promise to go to the doctor."
"After he leaves."
"Okay, after he leaves. Now let's get you cleaned up before he sees you."
Heyes and Kid walked up the hotel steps to the porch. Laurie and Doris were seated off to the side with Sam lying between them chewing on a bone. Laurie looked up at Heyes and smiled.
"We leave in the morning. Should be gone a little over a week," he said as he looked at her. "What happened to your dress?"
"Oh, my fault," Doris jumped in. "I tripped and spilled the lemonade on Laurie." She added patting Laurie's hand, "I told her she should change but she wouldn't listen to me."
"Sweetheart," Heyes said, "it is a little cool out here. Why not change?"
"I'm fine. I don't even feel it. I really forgot it was there." Changing the subject she asked, "Are we ready to go home?"
"Yep," Kid replied, "All set."
Standing up Laurie said, "Well let’s get going. You'll need to unload the wagon and pack. Might as well do it while it's still light out."
Doris stood up, gave Heyes and Kid a kiss on the cheek, "Be safe boys." Turning to Laurie, she said, "I'll see you tomorrow after they leave."
"Tomorrow?" Heyes asked curiously.
"Oh, I told Laurie I would help pick out fabric for the curtains in your den. I have things to do today so we decided tomorrow would be good. I assumed she would wait until after you left," Doris replied.
"Of course," Laurie said looking at Doris.
The next morning, Heyes and Kid got up early. Heyes walked into the kitchen, "You were supposed to sleep in," he said as he walked over to Laurie and wrapped his arms around her and kissed her neck.
"Mmm," she purred not turning around as she continued to work at the stove. "Do you really think I would let you leave for a week and not get up to say good bye? I figured while I was awake I would make you breakfast."
"I just don't want you to push too hard."
"Han, I'm fine," she said, and then added, "Yes, I know I called you Han. You're leaving for a week. I'm allowed."
Heyes chuckled lightly, "Okay. But I've left before and you haven't been this emotional. I could send a telegram to Lom saying I changed my mind."
Laurie whipped around, "No! You'll do no such thing Heyes!" She glared at him, "Sorry I called you Han. I won't do it again." She turned herself back around and continued with breakfast.
"You can always call me that in the bedroom," Heyes leaned down and kissed her neck again pulling Laurie tight against him. "I don't want to leave either. You're right though, it's Lom, we have to go."
Laurie leaned against him and once again purred; she never felt better than when she was in his arms. After a few moments, she said, "Go get the horses ready, I'll finish breakfast."
Heyes walked out the side door towards the barn as Kid walked into the kitchen. "Laurie," Kid said walking over to her and kissing her head. "You're cookin’ breakfast!"
"Morning Kid," she said. "Yes, I'm cooking breakfast. You're leaving soon; I'm not going to let you go without a good breakfast."
"Just," Kid started but stopped himself.
"Just what?" Laurie asked sternly turning to glare at him.
Kid took a breath, "Just Heyes said you were going to sleep in. We could have coffee and then go."
"Well, I'm fixing breakfast. Heyes just left to get the horses ready. Why not go help him? Breakfast should be done by the time you get back."
Kid nodded, "Glad you're feeling better." He kissed her head and headed to the barn.
They ate breakfast and then made final preparations for the trip.
As they were walking arm in arm to the horses Heyes said, "Why don't you stay with Doris and Walter while we're away?"
"Because this is my home," Laurie replied.
"You've been sick," Heyes started.
"I'm fine. How many times do I have to tell you that?" Laurie asked.
"I worry about you."
"I know, but you don't have to. I am better." She stopped and looked into Heyes' eyes. "I promise to take care of myself. Sam is here and someone has to take care of the horses. I'll be fine. Really."
"Okay," Heyes said, leaning down to kiss her. "I'll send a telegram when we get to Porterville." Heyes mounted his horse.
"Be safe. Take care of each other," Laurie said. She looked up at Heyes and smiled, "I love you Hannibal Heyes. Come back soon."
"We will," Heyes replied. "I love you too."
"I'll bring him home safe," Kid said.
Laurie watched the two of them ride down the road a bit then turned and ran to the side of the house and got sick.
Two days later, Heyes and Kid arrived in Porterville. Stopping in front of the telegraph office Heyes said, "I'm going to let Laurie know we're here. You go ahead to Lom."
"Do you want to wait until we find out what Lom wants?" Kid asked.
"No. I'll send her another one after we talk to Lom. Let her know what's going on."
"You're worried about her, aren't you?" Kid asked.
Heyes shrugged his shoulders slightly.
"Okay, I'll tell Lom you're on your way." Kid continued down towards the sheriff's office while Heyes went into the telegraph office.
Lom was just handing Kid a cup of coffee when Heyes walked in. "Fresh pot," he said lifting it in Heyes' direction.
"Sounds good," Heyes replied.
Handing Heyes a cup Lom asked, "Did you send Laurie a telegram?"
"Kid's been telling me she's been sick. You could have told me you couldn't come."
"She's better. Your telegram said urgent and you needed us right away," Heyes said.
"What kind of friends would we be if we didn't help ya out?" Kid asked.
"He's right Lom. You don't ask us often, and when you do, it's important. So it's important for us to be here," Heyes said.
"Well I'm much obliged," Lom said. "I hope Laurie wasn't too upset at you coming."
Heyes and Kid chuckled.
"Told you to come did she?"
"Basically kicked us out of the house," Heyes responded with Kid nodding in agreement.
"Well, I'll have to remember to thank her next time I see her," Lom said.
"You do that Lom," Heyes said. "So, what's so important anyway?"
Lom sat down at his desk. "Well boys, we have a large army payroll coming through town. The army is pretty sure they're being watched and followed. The payroll is going to sit overnight at the Porterville Bank." Lom paused, "It's been rebuilt with all the newest security and a new safe. Anyway, Miss Porter insisted on getting your opinion on the security of the bank before the payroll got here."
"A new safe?" Heyes said lightly, his eyes sparkling. "What kind of safe would that be, Lom?"
"To be honest Heyes, I don't know," Lom stated. "It's supposed to be the best there is."
Heyes looked at Lom incredulously, "You don't know." He sighed, "I see."
Kid looked at Heyes and smiled.
"Anyway," Lom continued, "we need to check the bank out first. Then the captain of the army is going to come by. We are supposed to help with security between here and Lewistown."
"Here and Lewistown?" Kid asked. "How's it gettin’ to Lewistown and why does the army need us?"
"Train," Lom stated looking at Kid and Heyes.
"Okay," Heyes said sitting up in his chair. "Who's guarding the bank?"
"The army detail and the three of us," Lom replied.
"Who's guarding the train?" Heyes asked.
"Same," Lom answered.
Kid looked at Heyes. There was silent communication between the two of them for a couple of minutes and then Kid said, "They aren't gonna hit the bank. They'll go after the train."
Lom continued to look at them, waiting for more information. "If they've done their homework, they'll know the bank is all new. New safe, new security and the security of the town around it," Heyes said. "If it was you, where would you try? In town with lots of army and lots of other people around or out on the rail somewhere when all you got is the army?"
"That's what I thought," Lom sighed. "That's another reason I need you both. I need you to tell me where they're going to hit the train and what we can do about it."
"They're positive they're being watched?" Kid asked.
"Yeah," Lom responded. "They caught a couple of glimpses of the gang and they've heard some rumblings about it." Lom paused again and looked down at his desk.
"What aren't you telling us Lom?" Heyes asked.
Lom looked up at Heyes then at Kid, he swallowed hard, "They shot two guards already. One's dead, the other was hit in the leg."
"Nice of you to tell us that Lom," Heyes said sarcastically. "Why here?"
"They figure," Lom paused and sighed, "it’s closest to Devil's Hole."
"What?" Heyes and Kid exclaimed.
"You think the Devil's Hole Gang is going after the payroll?" Heyes asked as he stood up.
Lom watched him walk across the room, "Well...."
"It's too big," Kid interrupted.
"The two of you would..." Lom started.
"The two of us," Heyes interrupted. "Would have but we wouldn't have shot anyone. And we're not there, so it's not the guys in the Hole now."
"How do you know it's the same guys?" Lom asked.
Heyes and Kid looked at each other. "We don't," Kid said. "But Wheat was running things last time we were there and I don't think any of them would go after it and they certainly wouldn't go killin' anyone."
Lom sighed and shook his head. "Don't know boys. Maybe it's another gang. We'll have to wait and see if the captain has any new information."
The three sat in silence for a few minutes, "Well, might as well check out the bank while we're waitin’ for the captain," Kid stated and stood up.
Heyes nodded in agreement and the three headed to the bank.
Heyes, Kid and Lom walked towards the Porterville bank. The partners took note of the extra steel bars on the windows but didn't really notice anything different on the outside. They walked into the bank and stopped. Standing in the vestibule, Heyes and Kid checked out the inside of the bank. It looked like the inside of a typical bank and not much different from when they were there the first time, almost three and a half years ago, asking Lom for help with their amnesty. It didn't look much different except for the safe. Sitting behind the tellers, along the back wall, was a safe twice the size of most safes. It was big, green and said, "Brooker 808" across the front. Heyes stared at the safe, Kid looked at Heyes as they lightly nodded their heads in silent agreement; they had made the right choice to go for amnesty.
Miss Porter, who had requested their help, stood towards the back of the bank with her back to them. As she turned to see them standing there, she tapped the arm of the large portly man in his late forties she was standing with. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," she said as she quickly walked towards them. "Lom you did it! You brought them to Porterville!"
"Miss Porter," the three responded as they tipped their hats at her.
"Oh, Daddy," Miss Porter turned towards the man who followed her. "These are the experts I told you about!"
"Hmmm," the man responded sounding less than pleased, "Some experts, my bank was blown up."
"But daddy," Miss Porter explained as she stopped in front of the three men, "It wasn't their fault. They stopped the robbers from running off with the money."
"You told me they said the safe was good," the man grumbled.
"We said, no one could crack the safe," Heyes said interrupting the conversation.
The man turned and glared at him.
"We did tell Miss Porter that a good dynamiter could blow it."
Kid choked back a chuckle remembering how well a little too much dynamite blew the safe.
Heyes gave him a quick look then turned back to the man, "Joshua Smith, sir. This here is my partner Thaddeus Jones. I assume you're Miss Porter's father and the owner of the bank?"
"Nathan Porter," he said shaking Heyes' and then Kid's hand. "Sheriff," he said as he shook Lom's hand. Turning back to Heyes and Kid, "So you're the experts?"
"We know our way around banks," Kid replied coyly.
Lom coughed to cover the choking sound he made at Kid's comment.
"So," Mr. Porter asked as he opened his arms showing off his bank. "What do you think of her?"
"Very nice. New, looks like a typical bank," Heyes started but was interrupted.
"Typical!" Mr. Porter bellowed, "My bank is not typical! I have twice the number of double steel bars on the window and," he said puffing out his chest, "I have a Brooker 808. The newest and best safe made! Typical, huh," he grumbled. "Some experts."
"If you had allowed me to finish Mr. Porter," Heyes began sounding not so nice, "I was going to say it looked typical to the average person. I was then going to say I noticed you had twice as many bars on the window and they looked thicker than most. Then, I was going to add that the Brooker 808 was extremely impressive looking, but I would need to get a closer look at it to make a final determination on it."
"Oh," Mr. Porter replied looking a little less insulted. "Alright then. Let's go look at her."
Walking over to the safe, the first thing Heyes and Kid noticed was large steel plate it sat on. "How thick is the steel plate?" Kid asked.
"One inch," Mr. Porter replied. "Strong enough to with stand any dynamite. We're not going to let that happen again!"
"What about the ceiling?" Heyes inquired.
"The ceiling," Mr. Porter repeated incredulously. "No one is going to try to dynamite the ceiling."
"Really?" Heyes asked looking at Kid with a twinkle in his eye. "You don't think anyone would try getting to the safe from the roof?"
"Of course not," Mr. Porter said sounding somewhat annoyed. "How are they going to figure out where the safe is?"
"Oh, you would be surprised what a good outlaw can figure out," Heyes said with a hint of pride in his voice.
Lom glanced at Heyes and Kid. Rolling his eyes, he tried changing the subject. "Mr. Porter, are there internal safeguards with the safe?"
"Yes sheriff, as a matter of fact there are," he stated. "The 808 is actually a safe within a safe. It is this big because there are double walls. Even if they can blow the outside of the safe, it shouldn't penetrate the inside walls."
"Sounds impressive," Lom said.
"It is," Mr. Porter puffed his chest and boasted.
"What about the tumblers?" Heyes asked.
"What?" Mr. Porter replied.
"The tumblers," Heyes repeated himself. "How many are there? What type of sequencing do they use?"
Mr. Porter stared blankly at him.
"I'm just asking how good it is at preventing someone from cracking it."
"Oh, daddy," Miss Porter jumped in. "You should have seen Mr. Smith try to break into the 404. It was very impressive."
Heyes smiled and gave a slight nod of the head indicating thank you to her.
"Did he get in?" Mr. Porter asked.
"Why no, but..." Miss Porter started before being cut off by her father.
"Well then, how is that impressive?" He turned and looked at Heyes, "Well, Mr. Smith, go ahead. Try to break into the safe."
Heyes stared at him.
Kid could see Heyes' body language change and said, "It's a little too noisy in here for my partner to work Mr. Porter."
"I'll make everyone be quiet," he stated, dismissing the idea.
"Don't think that's going to work..." Kid started.
"He couldn't get into the 404. What kind of expert is that anyway? I can't get into it, so I guess I'm an expert too," Mr. Porter said pretentiously.
Heyes' stare intensified. Tapping Kid's arm he said, "Come on Thaddeus. I don't need to be insulted." He turned to leave. "Miss Porter," he said, tipping his hat. "Lom, we're done here."
"No," Miss Porter cried out, "Daddy they have to check the safe."
"Mr. Porter," Lom said. "Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones are experts in their field. I brought them here at your request. You really should listen to them."
"Alright," Mr. Porter grumbled. "You can check the safe."
Heyes and Kid continued walking towards the door.
"Please," Mr. Porter said louder. "I would be indebted to you if you could check the security of my bank."
Heyes and Kid stopped and looked at each other. Heyes nodded at Kid. Turning around Kid said, "Fine. We'll be back after the bank closes to check the safe and the rest of the bank." Looking at Lom, "Don't we have another meeting to attend to?"
Lom nodded his head and joined the two by the door.
"See you after closing," Kid said and the three left the bank."
"Make it at eight, my wife has dinner at six and I can't be late," Mr. Porter yelled after them.
Walking back to the sheriff's office Lom said, "When the safe and bank were blown up last time, the tunnel to the saloon was discovered. I don't want to know anything about the roof do I?"
Heyes and Kid continued to look forward trying unsuccessfully to hide the glint in their eyes and the smirk on their faces.
"That's what I thought," Lom groaned.
Heyes tried to suppress his spreading grin.
Lom just shook his head.
"What time is the army captain due?" Heyes asked.
"Not for a couple of hours," Lom replied.
"Good," Heyes said. "It'll give us a chance to check into the hotel and send another telegram to Laurie."
"And eat!" Kid exclaimed.
"And eat," Heyes chuckled. "We'll meet you back in your office."
"Lom," Kid tipped his hat as the two headed to the hotel as Lom went back to his office.
Heyes stopped, "I might as well send Laurie the telegram before we check in."
"See you in the room." Heyes turned off heading to the telegraph office.
To: Laurie Smith, Small Falls
Working with Lom.May be out of touch for a few days. Weather is good.
Laurie crossed the street on her way to the hotel. It had taken her most of the morning to feel strong enough for the short trip from their house into town. Walking up the stairs to the hotel with Sam at her feet, she grabbed the banister as a sudden wave of dizziness overtook her. She steadied herself and sat down on the stairs. Doris walked out the screen door, "Laurie, are you alright?"
"Yes," she replied taking a deep breath and hoping to regain her equilibrium. "Sam was being a pain. He's been under my feet all day. Think he just wanted to be petted or is being overprotective because Joshua and Thaddeus left."
"Oh," Doris said as Sam tossed his head and barked.
Laurie looked at Doris and rolled her eyes, "See what I've had to deal with all morning! He's driving me crazy. Took forever to get anything done." Feeling better she decided to try to stand up.
"Well, you're here, let's go see the doctor," Doris said.
"He's out of town," Laurie replied, grateful that the doctor had been called out of town early in the morning.
"He got back a little while ago so now we can finally go see him like you promised," Doris explained.
"I'm really fine," Laurie began to protest.
"Good, then it will only take a few minutes at the doctor's and we can look at some material for the curtains," Doris stated.
From across the street, Mr. Quimby yelled, "Laurie, Laurie. I have a telegram from Joshua for you."
Laurie smiled and walked over and met him. "Thank you, Mr. Quimby."
"You're smiling, good news?" Doris asked as she reached Laurie.
"They're working for Sheriff Trevors for a few days."
"Oh that's nice," Doris replied. "Doing what?"
"Don't know. Joshua never tells me. His telegrams are always to the point." Laurie looked at her friend, "He counts the letters."
"Oh," Doris laughed.
"He did say the weather was good, so it means everything is fine," Laurie said.
"I'm glad. Now, let's get you to the doctors," Doris stated placing her arm in Laurie's and guiding her to the doctor's office. "Maybe he'll tell you you're carrying Joshua's child."
Laurie stopped dead in her tracks as her eyes filled with tears. She shook her head as she fought to control the tears.
"What's the matter dear?" Doris said as she turned, pulling Laurie into a hug.
Laurie stood holding on to Doris for a few minutes and then took a step back. She wiped off the tears that were falling down her face and gave Doris a sad smile. "When Joshua came back to marry me we went to see the doctor." Laurie paused, wiping the tears off again. "He told us I wouldn't be able to have children. There was too much scarring from...the...attack..." Laurie's voice trailed off as tears flowed down her face.
"Oh honey," Doris gasped and pulled Laurie back into a hug.
Two hours later, Heyes and Kid walked into Lom's office. "Lom," they said as they entered the room.
"Joshua, Thaddeus," Lom responded as he stood up behind his desk. "Like you to meet Captain Turner of the United States Army."
Heyes and Kid walked over to the man seated on the left side of the desk. "Captain," Heyes said shaking the man's hand. "I'm Joshua Smith, this is my partner Thaddeus Jones."
"Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," the Captain said, "Thank you for coming so quickly."
"Lom said it was important," Kid replied.
"It is," replied the Captain. "I already have one man dead and one man fighting for his life. We need to get this payroll to Lewistown and Sheriff Trevors says you two are the best chance we have of doing that."
"Well," Heyes smiled a ‘that must have killed you' smile at Lom, "Thanks for the compliment Lom. We'll certainly do anything we can to help out."
Lom reluctantly said, "You're welcome."
Kid smiled, chuckling at the pained expression on Lom's face.
Lom rolled his eyes at Kid.
"So Captain," Heyes said looking at the man, "Why do you think it's the Devil's Hole Gang?"
"Actually," Captain Turner replied, "We don't any more."
"Really," Heyes said giving an ‘I told you so' look to Lom. "Why not?"
"We caught one of their scouts last night, he'd been following us all day," the Captain said. "We got him to talk this morning."
The three men looked on with interest.
"Turns out, the man running the gang is an army officer who was dishonorably discharged for acts unbecoming an officer. He thinks the army owes him money and he plans on taking it."
"This man have a name?" Kid asked.
"Yes," the Captain said. "Andrew Murdock, but they call him 'Mad Dog'."
"Mad Dog?" Kid repeated. "What'd he do to get that name?"
"Lots of things," the Captain responded. "That's why he was dishonorably discharged and that's why we need help."
"Why don't you fill the boys in on the plans, Captain?" Lom asked.
"Okay. The payroll is due in town tomorrow afternoon. We have eighteen men guarding it, but eight will have to split off when they arrive here. The payroll will sit in the bank safe overnight and then we'll take a private train to Freightown. We'll switch lines to Lewistown. The train won't stop. There'll be three conductors onboard so they can rotate. It's a one day trip to Freightown and a one day trip to Lewistown."
"What happens in Lewistown?" Kid asked.
"We turn the payroll over to another army division," the Captain responded.
Heyes leaned back in his chair and ran his hand through his hair. He stood up and started to pace. Kid, Lom and the Captain watched. After a few minutes Heyes turned to look at the three faces staring at him, "They're not going to hit the bank. That would just be plain stupid. They'll hit the train, most likely on the uphill before the train gets to Freightown."
"How do you prevent it?" the Captain asked.
"You don't," Kid replied. "Nothin' you can do to stop them from stoppin' the train. Well unless you have enough men to ride ahead of the train. You don't. You can have a show of force on the train and hope for the best." Kid paused then added, "Most likely it will end up in a shoot out."
"We'll lose the payroll," the Captain said sounding defeated.
"Not necessarily," Heyes said with a twinkle in his eye. "We may not be able to stop them from stopping the train, but it doesn't mean the payroll will be on it." Heyes smiled and lifted his eyebrow.
Kid smiled and sat on the corner of Lom's desk.
"We're listening," Lom said.
"Who says the payroll has to go on the train?" Heyes said.
"It has to get to Lewistown," the Captain responded. "It's the easiest way to get there."
"Maybe easiest, but not the safest," Heyes said. "As my partner said, you don't have the men to stop them. The only way to protect the payroll then is a shoot out. Personally, I don't want to get shot protecting the payroll."
"So it's hopeless," the Captain said, putting his face in his hands.
"Nothings ever hopeless Captain," Heyes said. "You just need a good plan." Heyes smiled.
"Thaddeus, how long on horseback?"
"Through the mountains?" Kid asked.
"Three days. Can push it to two and a half with a little less sleep."
"Through the mountains!" Captain Turner exclaimed. "Are you crazy! No one knows how to get through those mountains. That's where Devil's Hole is. If Murdock's men don't get the payroll, the Devil's Hole gang will!" The Captain turned to Lom, "These are your experts?"
"Don't actually go through Devil's Hole," Kid said. "Actually, we aren't even that close."
Heyes nodded in agreement.
"Don't even think we'll be spotted by their look outs."
"Don't think!" Captain Turner squawked. "I don't think you're thinking!"
"Now Captain," Lom said in a very even tone, "Smith and Jones here know those mountains."
"Like the back of our hands," Heyes interjected.
Lom rolled his eyes. "Anyway, as I was saying, they know the mountains and I would listen to what they have to say."
The Captain took a deep breath and looked at the two men. After a few moments he nodded.
"Good," Heyes said. "Lom, you, me and K-Thaddeus," Heyes caught himself, "will take the payroll up through the mountains to Lewistown." Captain Turner opened his mouth to speak but Heyes put his hand up to stop him. "Captain, you and your men will get on the train as planned. I would have the men standing outside and at the windows in a show of force. Hopefully, it will discourage Murdock's men. If not, you should have the upper hand on them. They won't be able to get to you without you seeing them first. You only need to take the train to Freightown, by then, even if they've figure it out, no one will be able to catch us."
"I'm going with you," the Captain stated. "I have to stay with the payroll at all times."
"Exactly," Heyes explained. "That's why you are taking the train. Murdock will know you have to stay with the payroll. If you come with us, he'll know the payroll is with us, and we're dead."
Kid and Lom nodded in agreement.
"But my orders..." Turner started to protest.
"Are to get the payroll to Lewistown," Kid finished the sentence. "As long as you're aware of the plan, you're following orders."
Captain Turner stood there looking confused.
"Look," Heyes said quietly as he walked over to the Captain. "You asked for help. We are giving you that help. This is the safest way to get the payroll to Lewistown."
"He's right Captain," Lom stated. "Joshua and Thaddeus know what they are talking about."
Captain Turner finally nodded his head.
"Good," Heyes said patting the Captain’s back. "You stay on schedule with everything just as though you were taking the payroll."
Captain Turner looked at Lom, "I was told to trust you and your judgment. I hope for your sake and mine, it's the right decision."
"I agree with Smith and Jones. You're sitting ducks on the train. The payroll will never make it to Lewistown and you would probably lose some good men," Lom stated.
The Captain nodded his head.
"Well, we have a couple of hours before we go to the bank, anybody care to get some food?"
"I'm kind of hungry," the Captain responded.
Looking at his watch Heyes said, "Well, think I'll take a rest before we meet at the bank."
Kid looked at Heyes for a minute then said, "Yeah, we just ate. I think I'd like some rest too."
"Well I'll be," Lom exclaimed. "Never thought I'd hear a time when Mr. Jones would pass up food!"
Heyes chuckled softly.
"Well, if we didn't just eat, Lom, I would be there," Kid said. "Right now, I think I'm a little more tired than hungry. Been on the trail for two days, be nice to lie down on a bed instead of the ground."
Lom nodded, "Well then, I guess we'll meet you at the bank at eight."
Heyes nodded and smiled, "We'll be there."
Lom did a double take at the smile, and then nodded.
Once out of earshot, Kid turned to Heyes, "Better be a good reason I'm missing eatin'!"
"Thought you weren't hungry," Heyes replied as he swiftly walked towards the back alley.
"Didn't say that," Kid stated. "Just that we just ate."
Heyes looked at Kid and chuckled. He quickly stepped into the side alley and out of view of those on the street. "Well," Heyes said with devilish grin on his face, "I think we owe it to Mr. Porter to show him how secure his bank is." Heyes smiled and raised an eyebrow.
Kid looked at his partner as a small smile appeared on his face and then stretched ear to ear. "Heyes!" he said with a twinkle in his eye. "You really think that's such a good idea?"
"We were hired as experts weren't we?" he deadpanned. "What kind of experts would we be if we didn't show Mr. Porter what a good outlaw can do?" Heyes smiled mischievously.
"What are ya thinkin’?"
"Well, what do you think, Kid?" Heyes asked. "Should we start with the roof or should we get inside first?"
Kid looked at Heyes, "You're serious."
Kid searched his partner's face, "I know Mr. Porter was..."
"Kid it's our job to show Mr. Porter the bank's weaknesses," Heyes interrupted before he could finish his sentence. "I intend to show him ALL the weaknesses." Heyes returned Kid's look with one of his own.
Kid recognized the look. Mr. Porter had stepped over the line. Hannibal Heyes was NOT going to allow such a pompous man to get the better of him. "We aren't gonna take anything are we?"
Heyes shook his head.
"We're just gonna show them the weaknesses?"
"Okay then," Kid said. "Where do you wanna start?"
Heyes took out his pocket watch and looked at the time. "Still have fifteen minutes before the bank closes. Think we should get a few supplies and start on the roof."
Fifteen minutes later, they were back behind the bank with a small saw and two ropes they had acquired on their rounds of the town. Heyes took out his pocket watch and checked the time. He walked to the side of the bank, taking cover behind some crates as he watched Mr. Porter come out of the bank and lock the door. He turned to Kid and smiled, "It's time."
Kid shook his head. He wasn't sure this was the smartest thing in the world, but he knew he couldn't convince Heyes of that. He took the rope and flung it up towards a metal pole jutting out of the side of the bank near the roof. After a few tries, he finally lassoed it. Pulling on it to make sure it was secure; he stepped to the side and offered the rope to Heyes. Kid stood on guard as his partner made his way to the roof and then followed.
"You do realize it is still light out, don't you?" he said.
"Nice of you to realize it now," Heyes replied. He looked at Kid and saw the tension in his face, "Relax, remember, we're the experts."
"Yeah, but does everyone know that?" Kid asked. "What if someone sees us and decides to shoot first before asking questions?"
Heyes' smile grew on his face, "I like it when you're worried Kid, means you're watching my back." He smiled and patted Kid's shoulder. He walked to the edge of the roof and started counting steps. "Here," he said as he stopped and pointed to the roof.
Kid smiled, shaking his head, "It always amazed me how you could figure out how many steps just by lookin' at the inside of the bank." Kid knelt down and was about to saw the roof. He glanced up at Heyes.
"Just a small hole," Heyes answering the question that was never verbalized. "We'll let this rope hang in to show them where the dynamite would be."
Kid smiled at Heyes.
"He really got to ya didn't he?"
"Who?" Heyes snapped, eyes becoming slightly dark.
Heyes' eyes lightened and he grinned. "Nope," he raised his eyebrows, "just showing him who the experts are."
Kid made a small hole where they fed the second rope through and then tied it off. Completing the first task, they climbed the rope back down to the alley. "So," Kid asked, "How do you expect to get into the bank?"
Heyes smiled and walked to the side of the bank. He placed his hand on the thick bars covering the window. "These do make it tough to get into the window." Heyes turned to Kid, "It's a shame they didn't update the front door."
Kid stared at Heyes, "You mean..."
"Yep, through the front door."
"It's still light out."
"Yep. They won't be expecting it now would they?" Heyes smiled. "I mean who would break into a bank through the front door when it's light out?" He paused as he looked at the shocked look on his partner’s face. "I'd say only an expert could do that."
Kid shook his head and held out his hand motioning to Heyes to go first.
Before they walked out of the alley Heyes stopped and bent down, taking something out of his boot. Standing up he said, "Stay here until it's unlocked." He stepped out of the alley and walked up to the front door, looked around to see who was on the street and then tried the door to make sure it was locked. Turning so that his back wasn't facing the street but was blocking what he was doing, Heyes picked the lock and opened the door. Kid quickly stepped up and into the bank behind Heyes closing the door behind him.
"Lock it," Heyes said as he walked towards the safe.
Kid locked the door and turned to see Heyes approach the safe. He watched him remove his hat and place it on the counter. Heyes stood gazing at the safe. Kid walked over and stood next to him. Heyes looked at the safe in awe. He shook his head slightly and sighed.
"It's six twenty five," Kid said. "Everyone will be here at eight. That gives you an hour and thirty-five minutes, less someone decides to come in early. What'd ya have planned?"
"I'm gonna crack her," Heyes said quietly as he continued to stare at the safe. He walked over and touched it with one hand. He let his hand glide over the ‘Brooker 808’ caressing the front of the safe.
Kid watched his partner set up as he first played with the combination lock, twisting it back and forth. Heyes finally settled down with his ear pressed against the safe. Kid took up his normal position, watching the front of the bank, holding his gun in his hand.
Heyes leaned his ear against the safe and closed his eyes concentrating on the sounds. He listened to the tumblers as he slowly turned the dial. Hearing the tumblers quietly click as he rotated the dial first to the left. Pressing his ear as hard as he could to the safe, he blocked out the rest of the world knowing Kid was taking care of him. As he turned the dial, Kid watched in awe as his partner became one with the safe. Muttering to himself but loud enough for Kid to hear, "Perfection, pure perfection," Heyes quietly said. "Six sequential tumblers, muffled by the thick walls of the safe." Heyes sighed in complete ecstasy as he continued to work; first to the left, and then to the right.
As he went back to the left for the next number Kid pulled out his pocket watch one more time. This time Kid looked at the watch and then at Heyes, "Heyes, you have fifteen minutes before everyone shows up."
"Can't rush this Kid," Heyes said opening his eyes and looking at Kid. "She's a beauty," and he once again leaned his ear against the safe, closing his eyes in complete concentration.
Ten minutes later Kid said, "Five minutes."
Heyes held his hand up and continued to work.
Exactly at eight o'clock Kid heard the lock on the front door of the bank unlock. He stood up from where he had been sitting and walked with his gun in hand over to the front door. As the door opened, he pointed his gun at Mr. Porter, placed a finger in front of his mouth telling them to be quiet and motioned them to come into the bank.
"What the..." Mr. Porter began to bellow seeing Kid with the gun and Heyes at the safe.
"Sshhh," Kid said. "My partner is working. Everyone stay quiet a little longer." Mr. Porter tried to walk past Kid, "No, can't let you go over there. My partner needs his space and he needs quiet."
"Sheriff, arrest these men," Mr. Porter bellowed.
"If you keep making noises," Kid said quietly, "he's going to have to start all over. You asked for our expertise. You asked for my partner to crack the safe. So I suggest you have a seat and be quiet." Kid paused for a moment while Mr. Porter, Miss Porter, Lom and Captain Turner took seats. Turning to Heyes he said, "Joshua, how much longer?"
He held up his hand to be quiet.
The five sat patiently watching Heyes manipulate the dial. Then he stopped.
Kid stood up.
A look of complete satisfaction spread across Heyes' face. He opened his eyes, placed both hands on the lever and pushed it away from him; Heyes' smile spread ear to ear as he turned to look at Kid.
Blue eyes widened as he heard the click of the lock.
Heyes pulled the lever and with a swishing sound, the door opened. Brown eyes sparkled as he looked at Kid and presented the open safe.
"Joshua," Kid beamed as he walked over to his partner.
"Daddy he did it! See I told you they were experts," gushed Miss Porter.
"Will someone please explain what is going on?" bellowed Mr. Porter. "Sheriff, arrest these men for breaking into my bank and my safe!"
The smile dropped off Heyes' face, "Excuse me Mr. Porter, you asked me to crack the safe. You also asked me and my partner to check the security of your bank. We did."
"You broke in!" Mr. Porter shouted.
"Exactly and in broad daylight, nonetheless," Heyes said. "Came right through the front door.Cracked the safe. Granted," Heyes paused, took out his bandana and wiped his brow, "it took me..." he looked at Kid.
"Just under two hours," Kid replied.
"Almost two hours," Heyes stated, "but I did it. I cracked the safe. Most crooks aren't going to take that time but that safe isn't infallible. Neither is your ceiling." He pointed up to the rope. "As you will notice, we only made a small hole so it will be easier to be repaired, but we did figure out where the safe is from the top of the roof. A good dynamiter can still blow the safe. They'll need extra dynamite, but it can be done."
Heyes picked up his hat and placed it on his head. Walking towards the door he smiled at Lom who gave a slight nod and a tip of his hat but tried to conceal his smile. Heyes then tipped his hat at Miss Porter. Kid followed in step as Heyes continued to walk towards the door. "You need to put steel on the ceiling to prevent someone from doing what we did. The safe is excellent. I got in, but I highly doubt anyone else could. Even if there was a chance," he said, "they aren't going to take the time." Turning around to look at the stunned faces Heyes said, "Oh, you need a better lock on the front door. A kid could pick it!" Heyes turned and he and Kid walked out of the bank. The smile grew on Heyes' faces as his eyes danced with excitement.
Kid slapped the back of Heyes, "You did it," he beamed. "I can't believe you cracked an eight o eight."
Heyes stopped dead in his tracks as his face became completely serious he turned to face Kid. "Don't ever challenge Hannibal Heyes and tell me I can't get in a safe!" Heyes said sternly.
"Heyes," Kid started to apologize.
Heyes' eyes lit up as the smile reappeared, "I still got it Kid, I still got it!" Heyes' smile got bigger and he raised his eyebrows.
"Never had a doubt Heyes," Kid said as he looked at his partner. "Let's get a drink and celebrate!"
Heyes nodded, Kid patted him on the back and they headed to the saloon.
Heyes and Kid found a seat at a table near the back of the bar and began enjoying a beer. About a half hour later, Kid, who had a full view of the front doors, noticed Lom walk in. He paused as the batwing doors swung behind him.
Kid made a motion with his head towards the doors.
Heyes turned his head to see what Kid was looking at then turned back and took a sip of his beer.
Spotting Heyes and Kid, Lom walked back towards them motioning to the bartender to get him a beer. He pulled up a chair and sat down next to Heyes looking extremely serious.
"Lom," Heyes said not turning his head to look at the man.
"Lom," Kid said as he picked up his beer.
The lawman sighed and shook his head, "Gotta tell ya boys..." he started in a stern voice before being interrupted by Heyes.
"Lom," Heyes said as he sat up and turned to look at the man, "I'm sorry, but he was asking for it."
"Heyes is right, Lom," Kid said as he leaned in. "He was just so...."
"Irritating," Heyes snorted. "We were hired as experts," Heyes paused, "Were we hired? I mean are we getting paid or do we just get insulted?"
"No, you're getting paid," Lom groaned. "You're deputies on special assignment. You'll be getting deputies wages, and free room and food."
Heyes rolled his eyes at Kid, who nodded and then turned back to Lom. "Well at least it's something. Anyway, Nathan Porter is a..."
"Pompous man," Lom finished the sentence.
Heyes put his beer down and stared at Lom.
Kid coughed as he was just taking a sip of beer and was stunned by Lom's statement.
"What?" Lom said, looking at the two men with a frown on his face.
"You're not mad?" Heyes asked studying the man's face.
"Lom?" Kid said as he raised an eyebrow.
Lom tried to keep a straight face but just couldn't do it any more, as his frown slowly became a grin. "Gotta hand it to you Heyes," Lom chuckled quietly, "in broad daylight!" The three of them laughed.
"Lom," Kid said, "You didn't look surprised when you walked into the bank."
Lom looked at Kid and then at Heyes, "Had a feeling."
"Oh?" Heyes said, looking for more.
"When I saw your face when you said you would be at the bank, I knew you were up to something," Lom said.
"What face?" Heyes asked in defense.
"Oh, I'm sure most people wouldn't have noticed, but being on the receiving end a couple of times, I could see in your eyes you were planning something," Lom said. "Had no idea what you were planning but the way he treated you, I knew you wouldn't just let it go. I knew you couldn't."
Heyes gave a low guttural chuckle, "I guess he finally found out who the experts were." Heyes chuckled again, shook his head as his eyes lit up and a grin spread ear to ear.
"Hope we didn't cause you too much trouble Lom," Kid said seriously.
"Naw," Lom said, "He deserved to be knocked down a few pegs." Lom paused, "In broad daylight," he chuckled again. "Think the governor will be real happy you've gone straight. The eight o eight ain't supposed to be able to be cracked."
Heyes smile grew as his eyes sparkled and then his face became serious as he looked at Lom. "Lom, are you going to tell the governor? I mean, that I cracked..."
Lom put his hand up to stop Heyes, "Yes, after the job is done, I'm going to let the governor know that you can still break into any bank you want to."
"Lom," Heyes and Kid blurted out.
Lom put his hand up again, "Wait ‘til I finish, boys." He paused as Heyes and Kid leaned back in their chairs and then continued, "I'm going to tell the governor that you can break into even the most up to date banks if you wanted to. The fact is that you don't want to. I want him to understand you still have the ability, and the amnesty isn't just because you can't do it anymore. It means more if you've walked away because you decided to go straight."
"Sounds good sayin’ it that way," Kid stated.
Heyes nodded in agreement.
"You've earned it boys," Lom paused, rolling his eyes; he finally took a sip of his beer.
"What?" Heyes said lightly.
"The look on Nathan Porter's face when the safe opened was priceless. Then seeing the rope hanging from the ceiling," Lom got serious. "Guess Mr. Porter didn't realize he was challenging the best." Lom said as he raised his beer towards Heyes and Kid.
After a few more beers they headed back to the hotel and a well deserved good night's rest. In the morning when Kid and Heyes were leaving the hotel to go to the café for breakfast, they noticed men still working on the bank and smiled at each other. "Think we went too far Heyes?" Kid asked as he chuckled.
Heyes shook his head as he grinned ear to ear, "He asked us to check the security of the bank. We did just that."
"But the payroll is due in this afternoon; will the repairs be done in time?"
"Should be," Heyes said. "It doesn't matter anyway. They're not going to hit the bank. They're gonna go after it when the train is on the incline before Freightown."
"How are you so sure?" Kid asked.
Heyes stopped and turned to Kid.
Kid stop dead when he saw the incredulous look Heyes had on his face. He put his hands up, "Sorry," he paused as brown eyes stared at him. "I know it's what we'd do, but we wouldn't be shootin' people to get the money."
Heyes turned and started to walk again, "Just a feeling." He walked a little more and shook his head.
Kid chuckled, "Sure easy to get you riled these days."
Heyes turned and looked at Kid, then shook his head and chuckled. He reached up; patting Kid's shoulder, "Let's get some breakfast."
Having finished breakfast, Kid and Heyes headed over to Lom's office, once again having to pass by the bank. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," a voice bellowed from behind them. The partners stopped but didn't turn around. "Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," the voice bellowed again. "I need to speak with you."
Heyes looked at Kid and sighed then slowly turned around. Plastering a half smile on his face he said, "Morning Mr. Porter."
Kid nodded at the man.
"Good Morning Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," Mr. Porter said. "You left so quickly last night," he paused. Heyes and Kid waited for the tirade they were sure would be coming their way. Mr. Porter continued, "I didn't get a chance to say," his voice softened, "Thank you." Heyes took a second and then was about to open his mouth to speak when Mr. Porter put his hand up to stop him. "I also owe you an apology. I now know you are the experts."
Heyes and Kid straightened up as smiles spread on their faces. "Thank you Mr. Porter," Heyes began.
"Nathan," Mr. Porter interrupted.
"Nathan," Heyes said with a very smug look on his face. "We were just doing our job."
"Yes you were," Mr. Porter said as he looked back at the men working on the front door of the bank.
"You did it so well," he shook his head. "Glad you're on the law's side. I'd hate to think if you two were outlaws! No bank would be safe."
Heyes' eyes lit up and his smile grew. "Well thank you, Mr., I mean Nathan. Thaddeus and I are just law abiding citizens trying to do a good job."
"That's right," Kid chimed in, "Law abidin’. Been made special deputies for this assignment."
"Well I wanted to apologize and say thank you," Mr. Porter said presenting his hand to shake. "Now I have to get back and make sure everything is ready for the bank to open."
Heyes and Kid walked into Lom's office. Captain Turner was already there. "Mornin' boys," Lom said.
"Lom, Captain," they said in unison.
"Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones," Captain Turner said. "It was quite a show the two of you put on last night."
"Just doin' our job," Kid responded.
"Or sabotaging it," the Captain stated not sounding all together happy. "If the bank isn't ready for the payroll, we'll be sitting ducks here in town!"
"We were hired to test the bank," Heyes stated coldly as he glared at the Captain. "It failed. The repairs are almost done and the payroll will make it to the bank." Heyes continued to stare at the Captain.
"Yes, I know, I'm sorry," Captain Turner said in a conciliatory tone. "It's just this payroll is making me a little crazy, it could mean a big promotion and then last night." He paused for a moment and then smiled, "It was really impressive."
"Just doing our job," Heyes smiled. Changing the subject he asked, "When is the payroll due in?"
"I'm to ride out and meet them shortly. We're due back here in about six hours," he said.
Heyes checked his watch. "Good," he said. "This is how the plan is going to work," Heyes paused, and then continued. "The four of us will be the only ones allowed in the bank when the payroll arrives." Heyes began to pace. "Your men will deposit it on the steps of the bank and Thaddeus and I will carry it in. You will instruct your men to surround the bank and then you and Lom will follow us in closing and locking the doors. The switch will be made then."
"What?" the Captain asked.
"We'll switch the payroll then," Heyes repeated. "Thaddeus and I will walk into the bank a short time before you get here with our saddle bags and we'll leave them in the bank. When you bring the lockbox in, we will remove the payroll and put it in the saddlebags. When the lockbox is in the safe, you will dismiss us."
"How are you going to get out of the bank with the money?" the Captain asked.
"It will be in the saddlebags and we'll just walk out, get on our horses and ride out of town," Kid stated.
"But they'll know," Turner said.
"No they won't. By the time the payroll arrives, Mad Dog or his men will be watching the town. They will see us walk into the bank with our saddlebags," Heyes said.
"How do you know?" the Captain asked.
"We'll make sure they see us. Make it known that we're leaving town as soon as the money is in the bank," Heyes said. "Once we're out of town, you'll dismiss Lom."
Lom raised an eyebrow at Heyes.
"Why else would the Sheriff leave town when there is a large payroll in the bank?"
"Anyway, Captain, you will be in front of the bank when you tell Lom he's dismissed." Turning to Lom, "Lom you'll argue that this is your town. Captain you will respond that until the payroll has left Porterville, the army is in charge and if he doesn't abide by the laws, you will have him thrown in jail. Lom," Heyes continued, "you will grumble and groan and then leave. Thaddeus and I will meet you at your house."
"That's it?" the Captain asked.
"That's it," Kid responded. "We will meet you in Lewistown in two and a half days."
"Captain," Heyes said, "You are to go on as scheduled. You leave with the lock box on schedule. We don't want Mad Dog to get any idea. You also won't discuss this with anyone just in case he has a man on the inside. The only ones that will know about the switch will be the four of us."
"And Mad Dog when he stops the train," Lom stated.
Heyes grimaced, “Hopefully he won’t open the lockbox until he’s far away from the train."
"Captain," Kid said, "I wish we had an answer about the train. If this plan is to work, Mad Dog is going to have to think the money is on the train."
The captain nodded his head.
"I've been runnin’ it through my mind and can't decide what works best. If you all hang on the outside of the train, in a show of force, it might keep him at bay. You are also out there and can be picked off. I think you might want to all sit in the train and relax. When they board the train, you tell him the payroll was left back at the bank. He might get real angry and shoot or he could turn and walk away." Kid paused and looked at the Captain, "I think we both know what will probably happen. I think if you hid men, and camouflaged the guns you'll have your best opportunity to survive. Only so many men can fit in a train car and the aisles are narrow. You might be able to get a jump on Mad Dog and his men. You will have the element of surprise."
The Captain nodded, "Thank you, Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones. I appreciate the help and the advice. I better get moving. Lom," he said as he turned to leave, "I'll see you in about six hours."
Heyes and Kid kept themselves busy playing poker most of the day and relaxing on the porch. Lom went about his usual duties as Sheriff. As the time for Captain Turner and the payroll to arrive in Porterville drew near, Heyes and Kid walked towards the bank with their saddlebags draped over their shoulders. Lom and Mr. Porter were standing in front of the bank. "Lom, Mr. Porter," Kid said as they approached.
Lom tipped his hat at them.
Heyes and Kid scanned the town as they walked. Kid motioned with a slight movement of his head to two men standing near the saloon.
"Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith," Mr. Porter said. "Going somewhere?"
Heyes motioned towards the bank.
"No," Mr. Porter explained, "the saddlebags." He said pointing to their shoulders.
"Oh," Heyes said as he approached the steps. "Leaving as soon as the army gets here. Our job will be done."
"Time to move on to the next job," Kid said loud enough to be heard by the men.
"Is the safe ready?" Heyes asked.
"Yes, all you have to do is pull the lever and it will open. Of course," Mr. Porter continued "it's a shame you're leaving so quickly, I did so want to talk to you more about the security of the bank."
"I think we about covered that the last night," Heyes said with a smile as he walked up the steps. "Your bank is real secure now and besides, it sits right next to the sheriff's office." Heyes gave Lom a sly grin.
Lom rolled his eyes and was about to say something when the sound of approaching horses could be heard. "Looks like the army is here. Places everyone."
They all turned to watch the approaching army men. Captain Turner was leading. At the front of the bank the Captain held up his hand and dismounted with his men following suit. Two men picked up a lock box that was secured to a wagon and carried it to the steps.
Heyes stepped forward, "You can put the box down at the top of the stairs." The men looked at him. Heyes reiterated, "Put the box down at the top of the stairs. We will take it from there."
"Mr. Smith," Turner said, "this is an army matter. We will handle the lockbox."
"Excuse me Captain but we were hired to help," Heyes stated. "My partner and I will take the box into the bank and place it securely in the safe. Then we will turn it over to you and your men. Until then, it is in our hands."
Captain Turner opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by Lom, "Captain, I'm sure Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones would not object to you staying with the lockbox and watching them. Do you boys?"
"No, he can watch," Kid replied. "You too sheriff. It's just our job to make sure the bank is secure and until we do and the box is locked up, we're the only ones handling it."
"Sounds fair," Lom stated.
Turner nodded his head.
Heyes and Kid picked up the box and headed towards the bank doors. Mr. Porter followed.
"I'm sorry Mr. Porter," Kid said. "As I said this part is our job. We will let the sheriff and captain come in but that's it until the money is secured."
"Men," Captain Turner yelled as he turned to face them. "Surround the bank. Don't let anyone near."
The four men walked into the bank closing and locking the door behind them. They quickly made the transfer of the money to the saddlebags filling the lockbox with some old papers and books. Heyes opened the safe and they placed the box into it. Swinging the door closed Heyes turned the tumblers then took a moment to marvel at the safe as he ran his hand across the front of it.
"Smith," Lom said in a demanding tone.
Heyes turned, giving him a sheepish grin.
"I believe it's time to move boys."
Heyes nodded. "Captain, are ya set?"
"Remember, do everything you would do if the money was still here. Keep on schedule."
"Will do," the Captain replied.
"Any ideas how you're gonna handle the train?" Kid asked.
"Think I'll go with your advice and just be casual. No guns or anything in sight. I have a few good men I can count on to tell them what is happening."
Heyes raised on eyebrow.
"Don't worry, I won't do it until we're on the train and moving."
"Anyway, we'll hide some guns and men. Try to cut them off from all getting on the train and hope for the best."
Heyes' eyes lit up and a grin formed on his face. Kid and Lom took immediate notice of the change in Heyes.
Kid smiled, "You have a plan?"
Heyes smiled and raised his eyebrows.
"Are you gonna tell us or do we have to guess?" Kid asked in a serious tone.
"Don't be getting all proddy Thaddeus," Heyes stated. "I was just working it out in my head." He paused and then continued, "Thaddeus, how difficult would it be to loosen the couplings between the cars so that when it went up the incline, the car would disconnect?"
"Joshua, you're almost the genius you think you are," Kid said grinning. "The line is flat before hand, shouldn't be difficult at all." Kid turned to Turner, "You'll need to loosen the tension on the couplin’. That way when the train hits the incline, it won't be able to hold the weight of the car. The car will disconnect and the rest of the train will keep goin’."
"Have the lockbox in the last train," Heyes said. "Then wait for a few minutes before you realize it has come off the train. Have one of your men start yelling to stop the train, which we know the conductor will be hesitant to do on the incline. If I'm right, Mad Dog's men will be on top of that car in a second. I'm sure they'll grab the box and be on their way before looking in it."
"It will give you the distance to keep you and your men safe and keep it believable," Kid stated.
"Better get moving Thaddeus," Heyes said. "Lom, we'll meet you at your place. Captain, see you in Lewistown in a couple of days."
The four walked out the door. Heyes and Kid said goodbye and left for their horses. Captain Turner turned to his men, "Okay men, this is our jurisdiction now. Sergeant, I want the men on detail in the bank and the rest surrounding it." Turning to Lom, "Sheriff, thank you for your assistance, we have it from here."
"Excuse me Captain," Lom said firmly. "This is still my town."
"Not any more," Turner replied in a very business like tone. "The army is in charge of the town until we leave. You have been relieved."
"I don't think," was all Lom got out before he was cut off.
"If you don't abide by the rules, I don't care if you are the sheriff, I will have you arrested and thrown in jail. Cooperate and make this easy. We'll be out of your town soon enough," the captain stated.
Lom opened his mouth to say something and then closed it and stormed off away from the bank. If anyone was watching, he thought, that should have been a believable exchange. Lom got to his horse and headed out to meet up with Heyes and Kid.