Better Plans and Rousing Endorsements

By Storm Richards



The sun was high in the sky of this quiet, unassuming western town, but the air was cool.  The early morning autumn frost was still visible in some shady spots as two men, one in a brown hat and one in a black hat, sat feet propped on the banister of the hotel porch, smoking cigars.  Lazily the blond haired man took in a long draw of his cigar as he tilted his face towards the sun.  His partner's brown eyes drifted towards the other end of the town as a group of riders came into view.  


With a thud of his feet, the brown haired man stood up and pulled his hat forward.  "Well, Kid," he said, "think we've worn out our welcome.   Time to be moving on."


Confused blue eyes looked at his partner and then seeing the riders, stood up quickly, "Oh."


Heyes gave a half smile, half grimace look towards his friend.


"Yep, I agree, think it's time to be movin' on," Kid sighed.


"Thought you'd see it my way," he stated as he hurriedly walked towards the hotel door, depositing his cigar in a sand bucket along the way.  


The blond was a half a step behind.




Taking the steps by two, they quickly made their way up to their room, grabbed their saddlebags, and dropped the key off at the desk on their way out the back door.  Checking the alley, they skirted through the shadows with little more than an eye glance or a head nod to each other as they made their way to the livery. Mounting their horses, they inched them up to the stable doors, peered out and when it looked as though the coast was clear, quietly cleared the doors and headed as quickly but hopefully unnoticed out of town.  


"That was close."


"I hate to burst your bubble, Kid," Heyes glumly stated, his head motioned towards the town.  


The blond shook his head and kicked his horse into a gallop as his partner kept pace.  


The dust cloud behind them stayed in step.  




The warmth of the sun disappeared as it dipped behind the mountains. Day was beginning to turn into night and the cold autumn air was smacking the partners in the face as they drove their horses to higher grounds.  As the terrain became rocky, they slowed and the pair pulled the collars up on their coats as they pushed their hats down in an attempt to find warmth.  


Entering a small clearing amongst the trees with a vantage point over the valley, they looked at each other and shrugged.


"Horses are spent," Heyes stated.  "This is as good as any for the night."


"Think we lost 'em?"


"Don't know," the partner with the black hat stated as he dismounted.  "Not going to take any chances though.  We thought we lost them last time."


"How'd they find us?"  


"Don't know, Kid.  Maybe they just got lucky and wandered into town."


"You really believe that?"


"Not sure what I believe," Heyes looked at his partner and snickered.  "I wouldn’t be on this mountain if I really thought it was just luck.  Everything can't be foolproof and I'm just trying to keep us out of jail."


"It's what you do best."


Heyes gave an appreciative nod to his partner.  "A small fire's gonna have to do tonight."


"Why'd we have to ride into the mountains, and why can't they chase us when it's warmer!" Kid moaned.


Heyes chuckled.  "Careful what you wish for, Kid.  We've been chased when it's warm too.  And you know as well as I do, it's too easy to track us in the valley; a lot harder up here.  Hopefully, it will only be one night."


Kid walked the area looking for wood. "Never thought goin' straight was gonna have us freezin' and sleepin' on the ground so much."


"Lom never said it was going to be easy."


"Who said anythin' 'bout easy, how 'bout warm!"


Dimples appeared on his partner's face.  "I'm not too fond of the cold either, but I'd rather be cold than in the Wyoming Territorial Prison for twenty years."


"Well," a smirk spread across the blond's face, "since ya put it that way, it feels mighty balmy up here."


"Let's get the fire going."




The sun was just peeking out over the horizon as Heyes stirred.  "You awake, Kid?"


"Frozen, is more like it.  Think we need to visit Lom."


"After we lose this posse," Heyes stated as he sat up and poked the fire.  Picking up the coffee pot that was sitting in the embers, he first poured himself a cup and then one for Kid.  "Here," he held it out towards his partner.  "Have this and then let’s get moving."


"You still think they're out there?"


"Just assuming so we stay safe.  We'll check things out after we've been riding for a while."


"Any idea where?"


"Up and over I guess.  Harder to track us on the rocks.  Got the river below too so we can cover our tracks."


"Great, wet and cold for the day.  Sounds like a plan."  Kid sat up and drank his coffee, relishing the warmth as it slid down his throat.


Heyes stood up and stretched.  Walking over to his horse he teased, "Three squares and a warm bed at the Penitentiary."


Icy blue eyes glared at the back of his partner.   


A dimpled smile spread across his face as he began to saddle his horse.  "Bet it's nice and warm. You'd have a bed..."


"A four by eight cell.  Worse coffee than yours," Kid groused as he stood up, piercing stare never leaving his partner.


"You know you're gonna burn a hole in my back you keep staring at me like that."  Heyes finally turned around to face his partner.  "Awful easy to rile ya this morning."  


The blond stopped and shook his head.  "Sometimes I wonder if I'd be better off without a partner."


Heyes' hands fell to his side as his mouth dropped open.


"Now who's easy to rile?"  Kid smirked as he picked up his saddle and placed it on his horse.


Heyes chuckled.  "Let's get moving."


"Right behind ya, partner."  Kid slapped Heyes on the back.




The two rode up and over the mountain.  On the ride down, they scanned the area; all looked clear.  Reaching the bottom, they edged their mounts closer to the river.  


"Do ya really think we have to cross?"  Kid asked as he stared at the rushing water.  "Haven't seen the posse yet this mornin’."


"True," Heyes replied.  "That could just be because we got some distance between us."


"Or we lost 'em."


"Wanna take that chance?"


"Do ya always have to be right?" the blond groused.


"No, it just happens that I usually am," a smile spread across his face as his eyes lit up.


"Hrpmf," the man in the sheep skin coat nudged his horse into the water.  As the water got deeper, he held his feet up as high as possible to keep them dry.


The partner in the black hat followed suit.


They rode the horses down the river and out along the other side. Stopping, Heyes wiped their tracks away with a branch.  As he mounted his horse he looked at his partner, "Which way?"


"Lom's to the north, I say we head that way."


“Sounds like a plan."




The sun was over the horizon and the cool morning air was beginning to warm up.  The partners rode with some purpose but certainly not with the thought of a posse on their tail.  Neither one spoke to the other; there wasn’t much to say and they were on alert for any possible signs of trouble.


Slowing his horse to a walk, Kid waited for his partner to do the same before he spoke.  “Figure we lost ‘em?”


“Don’t know, Kid.  Just got a feeling about it."   


“You know I really hate when you have feelin’s, Heyes.”


“I’m not thrilled myself, but as I said I would rather be safe than sorry.”


“Yeah…”  Kid started before pulling his horse to a stop as Heyes did the same.  Quickly, they scanned the area.  Groaning in unison, they pulled the reins on their horses hard around and kicked them into a gallop.  “Heyes, I really hate your feelin’s,” Kid gritted out.


“Me too!” His partner yelled over the sound of pounding hooves.  Glancing back, he saw the dust cloud growing as more riders emerged from the trees.  “Are they the same guys?”  


“No idea, but we gotta get some distance between us and them.  They’re only a few yards out of range.”


Sinking lower in their saddles they urged their mounts on, racing across the open field heading for the trees and rocks ahead of them as the rushing river cut off one of their escape routes.  


As they approached the trees, Heyes caught a glimpse of a group of riders exiting the river on the left.  “We’re in real trouble, Kid.”


The blond glanced back at the group that was gaining and groaned. “You better start thinkin’ how we’re gonna get out of this!”


“We got to split up.”


Heyes..." Kid drew out his name, “it never works out well when we do.”


“Yeah, but it ain't gonna work out well if we stay together and I'd rather have you out there if I need help getting out of a jam.”


“Me?  If one of us is gonna get caught, it's gonna be me. Personally I'm not fond of the idea, but I think you're right, we have to split up and see if we can lose the posse,” Kid stated.


“We’ll split, you take the high road over the rocks. I'll go to the right.”


“And right back at ‘em!”  


“Not exactly and I'm better at riding - I’ll get away.”


“There you go thinkin' you’re the genius you think you are and now you think you can outrun a posse when you're ridin’ right at ‘em.”


“I don't like the idea much either but hopefully I'll distract them long enough so you can get away.  River’s too high to go back that way; I’d be a sitting duck.”  Heyes rolled his eyes at the irony. “Only choice we got, over the rocks and to the right.”  They rode in silence for a moment and then he continued, “Kid, I need you on the outside.”  


Heyes you're the thinker and planner - you should be on the outside.”


“Yeah, well this time I think Kid Curry and his six shooter are what's gonna be needed to get us out of this jam.”  With that Heyes leaned over and kicked the rump of his partner's horse yelling "Yaw!" and then pulled his reins hard to the right.  


Kid's horse jumped, clambering up the rocky path.  "Heyes!" Kid yelled as he tightened his knees around his horse to steady himself.  


The brown haired man charged to the right; he was in a collision course with the posse coming straight for him.  Quickly he pulled the reins hard to the left and his horse responded as he raced across the open field in front of the posse.  He leaned low into his horse as he gave a swift kick urging his mount to go as fast as it could.  


Bullets whizzed by Heyes’ head then stopped.  Brown eyes saw a group of riders riding parallel to him, lower on the ridge. Obviously the reason the gunfire stopped - they didn't want to hit their own. As the riders started angling up towards him, the group behind him started to gain and there was nowhere left to turn.  Heyes pushed his horse until he could tell it could go no further and started to ease up.  As the riders circled him, he patted the neck of his mount, “Alright girl, take it easy.  Shh,” he stroked her neck as the animal spooked with the others approaching.  As the horse stopped Heyes sat up.  


"Hands up, you're under arrest, Hannibal Heyes."


He signed and put his hands in the air.  "Gonna need your help Kid, I really hope you got away," he said under his breath as he shook his head.


"What?" a man called out.


The brown haired man smiled the best disarming smile he could muster, "I said, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken, I'm not Hannibal Heyes."


"You're not?"  The man accused and laughed.


"No, sir, I'm not.  I am sorry to put you all through this trouble but you are mistaken.


"I don't think so.  You're Hannibal Heyes and your partner," the man looked around, “where's your partner?”  


"I don't have a partner," Heyes said.  "My arms are getting awful tired, mind if I put them down? As I said I'm not Hannibal Heyes."  


"Yes I mind," the man moved closer pointing his gun directly at the ex-outlaw’s face.  "If you ain't Hannibal Heyes who the heck are you?”


“Name's Bob....Bob Jackson.  I'm traveling to get to my wife's family.  She had to go help out her Pa ‘cause her Ma got sick and she has four younger brothers and sisters still living at home.  I'm heading there to give a helping hand.  I don't know why you've mistaken me for the infamous Hannibal Heyes but I can assure you, I'm not him.”


“Then why you tryin’ to get away from us?”


“I thought I was going to be robbed.  Here I am hurrying to my wife and I see this dust cloud with a bunch of riders heading my way.  First I didn't think anything of it, well I did but I tried not to worry but each time I changed course so did you.”  


“You went up to the trees and then came flyin' back - how come?”


“Bear.” Heyes shifted in his saddle, his arms starting to sag. “Yep, momma bear and her cubs.  She reared and I high tailed it out of there.”  


“You keep talking all ya want Heyes, I know it's you and you know I know it's you.”  The man moved his mount from the back of the group towards the ex-outlaw.


Heyes turned towards the voice he recognized and gave a tight smile.


“Nice to see ya again, where's Kid Curry?”


“Can’t say I know.”


“Can’t, or won’t,” the man snarled as he stopped along Heyes' horse.  


“Can’t,” he set his jaw as the man took Heyes’ gun from its holster.  “You have my gun, can I put my hands down.”


“On the horn,” the man with the tin star pinned on his chest instructed.  “Keep ‘em where I can see ‘em.  You know...dead or alive.”


The ex-outlaw gave a half-hearted chuckle/sigh.


The man leaned over and tied the captured man’s hands to the horn of his saddle.  “Awful quiet, Heyes.  Never known you to keep your trap shut.”


“You do have the guns, Marshal.”


“Good point, but never stopped ya before.”


“Guess I got nothing to say.”   Heyes pondered for a moment then added, “Where’d you come from? You weren’t with the posse chasing us yesterday?”


“Us?  Thought you didn’t know where Curry was.”


“Don’t...split up yesterday.”


“No, we weren’t with that sorry excuse for a posse, but we ran into them after you gave them the slip.  Said you were in the area and they were planning on getting the reward.”  The Marshal chuckled, “They couldn’t find their way out of a bag let alone hunt you down.  Figured I had enough men to split a few off to keep going in the direction they were chasing you and the rest of us would head where you most likely would go.”  He looked at a group of riders coming towards them.  “Where’s Curry?” he called out.


“He should be with you,” a rider called out.


“They split yesterday.”


“We just saw them high tailin’ it across the fields in front of you.”


“Both of them?” the Marshal inquired.


“Yeah,” the man responded.


The Marshal turned to look at the man and shook his head.  “It’s not nice to lie to the law, Heyes.”


Heyes shrugged.


“Guess it’s not the worst thing you’ve done,” the man stated, then glared at the man in the black hat.  “Where’s Curry?”


“Don’t know,” he defiantly responded.  


The Marshal pulled his gun and pointed it directly at Heyes’ face, “I said, where’s Curry?”  


“Threatening me isn’t going to make me tell you what I don’t know.”


“They said they saw the two of you riding.”


Heyes looked at the riders and then back at the man with the tin star.  “We were and then we split up.”


The lawman turned to the riders as his frustration built, “Did you or did you not see Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry riding together.”


“Yep, we saw them,” the men responded.


“When,” he blew his breath out.


“Right 'fore you caught up to ‘em.  Well, actually, right ‘fore he done turned around and raced towards ya.”


The Marshal turned, glared at Heyes and then backhanded him across the face.  “Once again, Heyes,” he gritted out.  “Where is Kid Curry?  And before you answer, just remember the wanted posted says dead or alive and right now I’m thinking dead is the way to go.”


With a defiant smirk on his face he stared back into the lawman’s eyes.  “I am well aware of what the wanted poster states, Marshal Hanshaw.  As I said several times, I don’t know where he is.  We split up.”




He shrugged, “A while ago.”


Hanshaw leaned in and with his face only inches away from the ex-outlaw’s, repeated, “When?” and then he cocked his pistol.


Not flinching Heyes responded, “I thought you were supposed to be fairer than that, Marshal.  Shooting a man without a gun, with his hands tied to his saddle just doesn’t seem like you.”


“A man gets me angry enough,” Hanshaw leaned back, “and I’ll do just about anything.”  He carefully let the lever of the gun go back in place before placing it in its holster.  “So, Heyes, we go back a long time…” He stopped and studied the man in front of him. “Damn,” he cursed as he punched his leg as the realization of what was happening occurred to him.  “Curry’s gettin’ away. Otis, take your men over to the rocks and get him.”


“But the mama bear and her cubs….”  Otis responded with a shaky voice.


“There ain’t no mama bear,” Hanshaw bellowed.  “Heyes here has been playing us to give Curry time to get MOVE!” The Marshal shook his head, “Still as good as you ever was, Heyes. Never figured you’d try to distract while being defiant.  Talking is your game.”  


A small smile crept across the ex-outlaw's face as he lightly shrugged. “Figured you wouldn’t listen to a thing I had to say Marshal.”


The lawman chuckled, “You got that right.  As I said, we go back a long time.  I don’t plan on falling for any of your tricks this time. I’m gonna stay with you until they turn the lock on your cell in Wyoming.”


“All the way back to Wyoming...that’s a long ride.”


“And when the door slams, it will all be worth it.”


Heyes grimaced.


Hanshaw turned to the other men, "Alright, we're gonna wait here until Otis comes back with Curry.  Let's take a break, water the horses.  Get Heyes down but then tie him back to his saddle.  Even if he tries to escape, he won't get far dragging it with him."


Heyes hoped he gave Kid enough time to get away.  He knew he was going to need skill and some luck to get away from Hanshaw.




Kid Curry held on tight as he urged his horse up the rocky path into the trees.  He realized there was no sense turning around to see what was happening.  He knew Heyes would be caught and his partner’s only hope was not to get caught himself.  His job was to get away so he could figure a way to free Heyes.  He hoped the posse wasn't trigger happy and wanted to take Heyes in alive.


As he got to the top of the mountain he looked down to see a group of riders in a circle with two men in the middle.  He wasn't positive, but it looked like Heyes was one of the ones in the middle.  "Heyes, I sure hope you know what you're doin'?" he quietly stated.  With that, he saw a group of men break off and head towards the rocks his horse just climbed.  "Guess they figured it out.  “Sorry girl," Kid patted his horse's neck.  "Rest is over."  He nudged his mount forward.  




An hour or so later, Otis and his men emerged from the trees and headed towards the rest of the group.


Marshal Hanshaw watched the group of men cross the field towards him. As Otis pulled his horse's reins to stop, the lawman shouted, "Where's Curry?"


Heyes' eyes smiled...he had a chance.


"Didn't see him."




"Didn't see him," Otis repeated.  "Not him, not a trail, nothin'.  I don't think Curry went that way."


His nostrils flared as he turned towards Heyes.  "Where is Kid Curry!" Hanshaw bellowed.  


"As I have stated over and over again, Marshal, I do not know," the brown haired outlaw replied.


"I don't believe you!"


"Marshal, even if I knew where he was when you captured me...and I didn't, he would have had plenty of time to go anywhere he wanted.  I can't tell you something I don't know."


Hanshaw shook his head.  "Well, I got you and I have a feeling Curry will try to come free you.  So maybe it's a good thing you don't know where he is.  I'll use you as bait, and let your partner come to us."


Heyes closed his eyes and sighed lightly.  He hoped his plan wouldn't backfire and get both of them caught.


"Well, let's set up camp for the night," the Marshal barked.


"We're not headin' into town?" one of the men questioned.


"Nope, gonna wait for Kid Curry to come rescue Hannibal Heyes."  He smiled, happy with his plan on getting both men.




Kid lay on a rock high above the group of men.  Looking through his binoculars, he could see Heyes tied up by the fire and a man with a star sitting catty-corner to him.  The rest of the men busied themselves setting up camp - Kid counted a total of eleven men plus the one with the star pinned to his chest.  Squinting, he looked through the glasses trying to get a look at the man's face. As though the lawman could hear his thoughts, he looked up into the hills and right at Kid.  Damn, the blond thought as he lowered the binoculars.  To make sure, he raised them again and with confirmation, he shook his head.  "Think your brains would be better used out here, Heyes.  I don't want to get into a fight with Marshal Hanshaw."  He sighed and continued to talk to himself, "Well, looks like they're settlin' in for the night. Might as well do the same.  Maybe some sleep will help me come up with a plan."  




Night turned into day and day turned into night as there was no movement from either camp.  Hanshaw dug in his heels figuring Curry would try to free Heyes. Kid sat quietly at the top of the mountain, staring at the group trying to figure out a way to get to his partner without getting himself captured or worse, killed.   


The Marshal sat on the rock next to the fire observing his prisoner.  "Guess your partner don't care much about ya."


"Or, as I stated, I don't know where he is," Heyes responded.


"Might be," the lawman sighed.  "Got rain clouds off the horizon. Probably be rolling in tomorrow.  Since I'm not too fond of being wet, especially if you're the cause, I think it's time to move to town.  Getting one of ya is better than nothing and I think I would rather have you then him.  I still think Curry will try to come save your sorry ass.  Guns a blazing and all but we'll take him out.


Heyes slowly closed his eyes hoping the Marshal was wrong.


"We'll be moving out first thing in the morning," Hanshaw bellowed to the men.




Stretched across a rock on his stomach, Kid stared through the binoculars watching the camp below.  He watched their movement in, out and around camp, making note as to where they gathered and where he thought was the best chance of getting to his partner.  As he watched, he saw Hanshaw stand up and then the men begin to scurry about.  He noticed the clouds coming over the horizon and assumed the lawman did too.  The increased activity was probably the signal they would be moving out in the morning.  


Rolling over, he stood up, "Well, Heyes, I think it's time I got closer."  Kid rode and then walked his horse down the mountain. When he got to the larger rocks, he tied his mount to a tree and continued on foot, making his way down to the near side of the camp.  Hiding behind the trees at the edge of the clearing, he could see Heyes sitting on a rock directly across from him.  


Kid whispered to himself, "I hope you're listening."  Cupping his hand near his mouth, Curry whistled like a bird.  He stopped and then let go with two more quick whistles.  He looked at his partner but didn't see any acknowledgement.  Taking a deep breath, he repeated the same three bird calls.


Sitting on a boulder, Hannibal Heyes gazed into the fire.  He was trying to figure out what Kid might do; anticipate any move to better their odds of both of them getting out of this alive and free. Deep in thought, he imagined he heard the signal, when it began to repeat, Heyes looked up, searching the area for the location of the sound.


Kid smiled as he watched brown eyes scanning the area.  He slowly, carefully and as inconspicuously as possible, moved the tree branch hanging out into the clearing trying to show his location to his partner, but unobtrusive enough that no one else would take notice.


Heyes caught the movement and focused on the area.  He couldn't see Kid, but he knew he was there.  


"What's with you?"  Hanshaw barked.


"Me, nothing," the ex-outlaw stated as he quickly looked away from the spot he had been staring at.


"First you look like you got ants in your pants - moving all over the place.  Your head looked like it was on a swivel.  And now, ya look like a statue, staring out into space."


"Oh," Heyes half smiled, half chuckled.  "Think those beans you fed me, weren't good."


"Tasted fine to me."


"Yeah, but they aren't sitting in my stomach so well," the ex-outlaw emphasized with a groan.  "Think I need myself."


"Well go ahead."


"Marshal, being tied up kind of makes it impossible and...a little privacy would be nice."  Heyes grimaced and shifted on the rock. "The beans really aren't agreeing with me."


"Fine," the lawman gruffed as he stood up.  "I'll give you a little privacy but I ain't letting you go by yourself."  He stepped towards the man.  "Stand up and give me your hands.  I'll untie them but I'm gonna tie this rope to one wrist.  I'll hold it and stand up wind of ya."  


"Much appreciated," Hannibal Heyes shifted his feet trying to look uncomfortable and impatient as possible, hoping Hanshaw would rush and perhaps be a little sloppy tying the rope.  As soon as his hands were untied and the rope was fastened to his wrist, Heyes headed into the direction he hoped he would find his partner.  If he wasn't there, he figured he would just have to bluff himself out of the situation.  Perhaps, since it would just be himself and the lawman, get the upper hand on Hanshaw and be able to overtake him.  All in all, he bet when he walked into the wooded area, Kid would be waiting for him.


Curry watched as the men approached the woods.  He stepped into the shade behind a tree and out of sight. He figured if Heyes stayed on the same course, he would be able to step behind the Marshal before he knew he was there.  


Heyes walked into the trees and continued ahead.  


After a few paces  into the woods himself, the Marshal pulled the rope attached to Heyes.  "That's far enough."


With gun drawn, Kid quietly stepped out from behind the tree and placed the barrel in the Marshal's side.  "Yeah, I agree.  That's far enough Heyes.  I would be real quiet and not move if I were you Marshal.  Don't want my gun to go off accidentally."


With a smile on his face, Heyes turned around, tipping his hat at his partner.  "Good to see you, Kid." He walked over to Hanshaw and removed his gun from its holster, placing it in his own waistband and then started to pull and untie the rope from his wrist.  "Where're the horses?"  


"Horse," Kid corrected.


"Only one?" Heyes asked.


"Only one."


Hanshaw tried to slowly turn his body but Curry jabbed the barrel of his gun into the side of the lawman.  "As I said Marshal, stay still.  You don't want any accidents to happen."


"Didn't think you shot people in cold blood."


"Who said anything about cold blood?"  Heyes glared at the man.  "As my friend said, you don't want to accidently bump him and have his gun go off.  It wouldn't be good for us. Your men would hear and let's face it; it would be really bad for you. So, stay still and keep quiet."  Heyes reached up, untied Hanshaw's bandana, then tied it around his mouth and used the rope that was once tied around his hands to tie the man's hands behind his back.  


"Heyes, we gotta get movin'.  What do we do with Hanshaw?"


Heyes thought for a moment, "More chance they find him and us quicker if we leave him here.  Better if we take him with us."  He looked around, "We need to get horses."  He quickly studied the area.  "No way we can all make it around to the other side of camp unnoticed.  Where's the horse?"


"Tied up the hill a little ways."


Heyes blew a breath out as he shook his head.  "I hate to say this because it only gets us in trouble, but we gotta split up again."




"Kid, if we all go for the horses, someone is gonna see us. Hanshaw isn't gonna be all cooperative and all it takes is for him to stumble or kick a rock to get the other guys looking for us."


His partner listened.


"You take the Marshal to the horse.  I'll work my way around to the other side of the camp and try to get a couple of horses."


"Horses are pretty close to the men."


"I'm hoping to grab the last two horses off the string."


"If they see you?"


"Well, that's why you're heading out with the Marshal.  I'm hoping if things don't work out for me, you can use him in a trade."


"And if the men think ten thousand dollars is worth more than gettin' the Marshal back?"


"Thanks for being so positive," Hannibal Heyes sarcastically stated.  


"Just givin' all sides like I always do."


"Well this time, you could at least be positive.  Encouraging even as opposed to...."


"Bein' realistic?"


Heyes scowled.


"We better get movin' before Hanshaw's men realize the two of you aren't back yet.  I got faith in ya Heyes."  Then jabbing his gun into the Marshal's side added, "If not, we'll work a deal out."


Heyes half smiled as he nodded.  "Thanks, Kid.  I'll grab the horses and meet you on top of the ridge."


"Sounds like a plan."




Ten minutes later, Kid had Hanshaw on the horse and was headed up the hill with him.  Heyes was creeping closer to the horses.  He was crouched down behind some brush, waiting for a couple of the Marshal's men to move further from the horses.  As he waited, he heard one of the men in camp ask where Hanshaw and Heyes were.  "Time's up," he quietly said to himself as he did a quick look around.  Hanshaw's men were starting to move around.  Heyes reached up and grabbed the reins of the last two horses in the string.  "Sshh," he hushed as he quickly moved into the trees with the mounts.  As he disappeared into the brush, he heard the men start calling the Marshal's name.  As soon as he could, Heyes mounted the one horse and took off to the top of the hill as fast as the horses could maneuver up the steep incline.   


Kid Curry waited impatiently for his partner to catch up to him.  As he looked down at the campsite, he could see the men hustling around.  "You better be on your way, Heyes, ‘cause I got a feelin' they know you're gone."  With a crack of a branch, Kid's revolver was in his hand pointing in the direction as Heyes came through the brush.


"Whoa!" Heyes exclaimed, stopping dead in his tracks.


The Marshal grunted wide eyed.  He had heard about the quickness of the man, but until that moment, never saw Kid draw his gun.  He was glad he wasn't at the other end of that barrel.


As quickly as he drew, Kid twirled his gun and replaced it in his holster when he saw his partner.  


"Think they know I'm gone."


"Yeah, got that impression," Curry motioned with his head.


"Best we get moving."  Heyes handed the reins of the second horse to Kid and waited for his partner to mount it.  


"Which way?"


"Over the top and down the other side.  Hopefully, we can make some time while they figure out which way we went."


"What about him?"  Kid motioned towards the Marshal.


"He's coming with us until we know we've put distance between us.  Then we'll find a place to leave him."  Heyes shrugged and with a slight kick to the side of his horse, he headed over the top of the mountain.  


"Hold on," Kid instructed as he pulled the reins of the Marshal's horse and nudged his horse forward.




The partners and their captive made their way up, over and down the other side of the mountain with relative ease without any signs of the posse following.  With the sun beginning its descent, Kid turned to Heyes, "Think we lost 'em?"


"Just want to make sure."  He paused and then continued, "We have some open ground in front of us.  If we make it through without seeing them, I think..."


"Heyes...let's wait before we jinx anythin’."


They rode in silence across the open plain as the horizon turned red and orange; the stars began to pop out.  The partners, eyes and ears on alert, searching for any pursuers.  


"Looks like there's a town up ahead," Kid stated as he could see the outline of buildings in the distance.


"Yep," Heyes replied as he did a once over the area with his eyes.  "Think we can find a place to drop the Marshal off."


"You think that's a good idea, close to town?  They find him and we'll have another posse on our tail."


"We can't leave him out here tied up.  If an animal gets him, they'll add murder to our charges.  We'll find a place they'll find him, but not too soon."


"I hope you know what you're doin' Heyes."


"You got a better plan?"


"No, but I still hope you know what you're doin',"


"Thanks for the rousing endorsement, Kid."  


"Anytime," he chuckled.


As they approached town, they could see a ranch on the outskirts. There were a few structures; a house, a barn and what they assumed was a bunkhouse.


Heyes pointed towards the barn, the furthest building from the house.  Dismounting in the rear, he motioned to his partner to stay put with the Marshal.  Heyes quietly crept around to the door on the side.  After a few minutes he returned.  "Barns full of cows. The farmer or farm hands will certainly be in there in the morning. I say we leave Hanshaw tied up in there, it'll keep him safe from the coyotes.  We keep moving and we'll put distance between him and us."


Kid nodded, dismounted and walked to the lawman's horse.  "This is where you get off."


The Marshal looked down at him and held his tied hands up.


"Just swing your leg over; I'll be here to catch ya if you can't hold onto the horn."


Hanshaw nodded and with less grace than a bull in a china shop, swung his leg over and proceeded to basically fall off the horse. Had Kid not been ready, the lawman would have knocked him off his feet.  Instead, Curry was able to steady the two of them while still in control of the horse.  


Heyes led Hanshaw into the barn, and tied him to a rail.  "If you promise not to make a sound, I'll give you a drink of water."


The Marshal nodded.


Heyes unscrewed the top of the canteen, "I have your word, not a peep?"


Hanshaw nodded.  


Heyes slowly removed the bandana from the lawman's mouth. Hanshaw opened his mouth widely and stretched his jaw. Looking at the ex-outlaw, he nodded.  Heyes lowered the canteen to the lawman's mouth.  After a few gulps, Hanshaw nodded again and Heyes lifted the canteen. "Much obliged."  He studied the man in the black hat standing in front of him.  "You really aren't like any outlaw I've ever dealt with before."


Heyes tilted his head.


"Anyone else, I'd be tied up out of town where no one would find me except the coyotes, that is if I wasn't already shot."


"Kid and I don't kill people."


"Have your standards?"


Heyes shrugged.


"You're still worth ten thousand dollars apiece, dead or alive."


Kid walked into the barn.  "Horse is in the corral with the others."


Heyes offered another drink from the canteen, Hanshaw shook his head.  The lawman looked between the partners.  "You two baffle me."


"Well you'll have some time to think about us.  Looks like everyone has turned in for the night - house and bunkhouse are dark," Kid stated.


"Have a good night, Marshal," Heyes stated as he re-tied the bandana around the lawman's mouth.


"Which way?"  Kid asked as he stepped out of the barn.


"Same way we were heading...west," his partner replied.


Blue eyes looked curiously at brown.  In a glance he knew to keep quiet as they headed away from the barn.  Mounting their horses, Heyes pulled the reins of his horse towards the west without saying anything.  


They rode in silence for a few minutes before Curry spoke, "Heyes..."


"Hoping Hanshaw heard and it will give us more space between them and us if he decides to look for us.  We'll head this way to the stream up ahead then work our way back."


"Still headin' to Lom?"


"After all this, I really think Lom needs a visit."


"Sounds like a plan," Kid stated.  "Now let's put some distance between the Marshal and us."  He nudged his horse faster and his partner followed in suit.