One Night, One Girl, One Rescue
by Storm Richards
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry rode into the town of Salt River. They had been trying to lay low since robbing a train about sixty miles east. This was the last town before they reached Devil's Hole. The rest of the gang went west heading for Rock Bottom before they all met back in the Hole. The partners picked this town to stop at; it was their town to hurrah. Most of the citizens of the town knew who they were including the sheriff. He looked the other way because he knew they would spread the money around, especially in his direction. He also knew that his town was safe as long as no one bothered Heyes, Kid or the rest of the gang. Heyes made sure when they were in town his men towed the line. They could have fun and they could hurrah the town, but they couldn't rob or steal from anyone.
As they road into town they headed directly to the hotel. The desk clerk gave them their usual front corner room, the one with windows facing the main street and the balcony to escape on if necessary and sent up baths.
The pair had been on the run for the last three days, having lost the posse over a day ago, they roamed around making sure they weren't just hanging behind, making sure they didn't follow them into the sanctuary of this small unassuming town. Their adrenaline was still pumping as they entered the room. Kid hung his gun belt next to the tub, emerged himself in the warm water and lit a cigar. Leaning back, he puffed his cigar; this was the life he thought. The only thing else he needed was a woman and then the comfort and security Devil's Hole would give them. He and Heyes would head there tomorrow after enjoying themselves in town tonight; a bath, a good meal, and then to the saloon. Kid leaned his head back closing his eyes.
Heyes took his time before settling in his bath. He walked out on the balcony, scanning the town as he paced back and forth. After a few minutes, he went back into the room and stood looking out the window, hidden from outside view by the curtain.
"Heyes," Kid said, with his eyes closed and the cigar gripped between his teeth. "Your water's gettin' cold. How long ya gonna pace and look out the window?"
"Till I'm satisfied no one's coming for us."
"We lost the posse a day and a half ago. You made us wander all over the place before we came here and you're still not satisfied," Kid grunted.
"Don't really feel like spending twenty years in prison," Heyes responded as he continued to scan the town.
"Why don't you take a bath and relax. This cigar is real good," Kid commented as he continued to try to relax in the tub.
"I'll get in when you get out. Why do you care anyway?"
"Cause I'm tryin' to relax and all this worryin' you're doin' ain't makin' it easy!"
Heyes chuckled lightly, "Ya think all this worrying I'm doing would make it easier for you to relax; means I'm watching out for us." Heyes paused, "You don't want a posse bursting in on you when your eyes are shut and you're sitting in the tub now do you?"
"I can still get to my gun," Kid sighed, sitting up in the tub he huffed. "Guess I ain't gettin' any more relaxin', might as well get out."
"Stay in as long as you'd like," the brown haired partner replied as he continued scanning the town. "I got us covered."
"I can't relax when you're makin' me nervous!"
"I'm looking out the window," Heyes said defensively.
"Yeah, you're lookin’ out the window. You're pacin’ on the balcony. You're jabberin' about posses! How am I supposed to relax with all that goin' on?" Kid stood up and grabbed a towel. Drying off he wrapped it around his waist and walked over to the window. "See anythin’?" he barked.
Heyes' eyes drifted over to Kid's as a small smirk began to form on his face. "Nothing. All's quiet." He looked at Kid with the towel wrapped around his waist and his gun in his hand. "Might want to put your pants on just in case; that is unless you don't mind showing the town a little more of ya if we gotta run."
Kid's eyes turned ice blue as he glared at his partner, huffed, turned around and grabbed his pants.
Heyes turned back to the window as his smile reached his eyes.
"All I wanted to do is have a bath, a cigar, a good meal and," Kid stopped himself as he could see the dimple on the side of Heyes' face. "You're smilin’," Kid said through gritted teeth. "You're not lookin' for the posse. You're just doin’ this to drive me crazy!"
Heyes chuckled to himself, "Wouldn't be hard." He could hear Kid begin to simmer. "Something doesn't feel right Kid. If I was just trying to make ya crazy, don't you think I would turn around and watch ya squirm?"
Kid looked at the back of Heyes as he tied his gun down. Straightening up he paused, "You really got a feelin' Heyes?"
He shrugged and turned to look at his partner, "Maybe I just need to relax a little."
The blond partner smiled as he moved to the window, studying Heyes' face. "I got the window, your water's gettin' cold."
Kid took up the position at the window; blue eyes scanned the town, nothing. Still Heyes had a feeling and he learned a long time ago that Heyes was right more times then he was wrong. If Heyes thought something wasn't right, something wasn't right.
After a nice hearty meal in the hotel dining room, the two men headed to the saloon. Entering the saloon they paused, scanning the interior, taking note of who was there and if they recognized any faces. Satisfied they continued towards the bar. Kid's head turned as a lady with long red hair appeared at the top of the steps. She wore an off the shoulder bright violet dress that stopped right above her knees. The front was cinched up so tight her breasts were barely held inside. He smiled as their eyes locked on each other. Heyes followed Kid's glance, patting his partner on the back, he turned off to the far end of the bar as Kid continued forward taking the steps by two. Stopping at the top, blue eyes glanced back, his partner gave a small nod. Kid took the girl's hand and disappeared into the upstairs hallway. Heyes positioned himself in front of the steps at the end of the bar where he could see the entire saloon, including the batwing doors and ordered a whiskey.
"We have an opening at the table if you want t’ join," said a man sitting at the closest poker table.
"Gonna enjoy my whiskey for a little bit, and then I'll sit," the brown haired man replied lifting the whiskey in the man's direction and taking a sip. He would sip this one and maybe one more before Kid would be done.
Heyes stood at the bar, finishing up his second drink; taking out his watch, he checked the time. Henry the bartender motioned, asking if he wanted another, Heyes shook him off. He looked at the poker table and then once again, at his watch, contemplating whether or not he felt safe enough to take a seat. A few moments later, Kid emerged from the upstairs hallway. Looking up, eyes met. The blond partner gave a nod as he started down the stairs. Without hesitating, the brown haired one pushed off the bar and walked over to the poker table, "Mind if I join you?" he pulled out the chair and sat down as Kid took his position at the bar, ordering himself a whiskey he would nurse. Dimples appeared as the cards were dealt and the brown eyed partner placed his ante on the table.
Kid finished sipping his first whiskey and ordered another one when Heyes threw his cards down on the table. Shaking his head, he pushed his chair back, "Think I'll call it a night boys." He stood up, tipped his hat and walked over to his partner.
"Done already?" Kid inquired as he waved to the bartender for another whiskey.
"How much ya lose?"
Brown eyes glared at blue. "I didn't loose," he said incredulously. "Just didn't win enough."
His partner chuckled, "You're the only man I know who can have a sour look on his face when they win." He paused and looked at his partner as the bartender placed the glass of whiskey in front of Heyes. "Figure it out yet?"
Heyes shook his head as he stared into the glass, shaking it lightly, swirling the brown liquid inside. "No." He lifted the glass to his lips and drank it in one gulp and once again scanned the saloon. Nothing seemed out of place, no threats that were visible, but still something gnawed at him. He sighed, "Think we should head back to the hotel." Holding his hand up to the bartender, he placed money on the bar, "Thanks Henry."
The bartender nodded.
Kid finished his drink with one last swallow, then pushed off the bar and headed to the back door. Outside in the alley, the two walked in the shadows as they made their way back to the hotel.
As Heyes opened the door to their room, Kid stood to the side with his gun in his hand. Heyes lit a match and their eyes scanned the room. Closing the door behind them, the brown haired partner lit the lantern but turned the flame down low so it only glowed. Blue eyes checked the room, under the bed and in the closet before holstering his gun. Both of them removed their hats and coats but left their gunsbelts on. Kid went and sat in a chair as Heyes moved to the window.
"Somethin's really got you spooked?" Kid said sounding concerned as he watched his partner. Heyes didn't respond and they stayed that way for a few minutes, brown eyes looking out the window, blue eyes watching his partner. "Ya think we should get out of town tonight?" Kid asked finally breaking the silence.
Heyes turned to answer him when they heard a noise in the hall. Kid's head turned to the door as he stood up with his gun already in his hand. Heyes removed his gun from its holster and they both made their way to the door. Standing on the either side of the door, their heads tilted as a quiet knock was heard followed by a whisper, "Kid, Kid it's me, Jessie."
Heyes raised an eyebrow at his partner and grinned. Kid rolled his eyes and motioned with his gun for Heyes to open the door. With his gun still in his hand, Heyes opened the door a crack to see Jessie standing in the hall alone. He holstered his gun, an action Jessie was aware of, and let her in the room. She closed the door quickly behind her. "I'm so glad you're both here," she sighed as she leaned against the door. Kid's and Heyes' eyes widened. She rolled her eyes.
Kid looked down, seeing he still had his gun pointing at Jessie, he quickly holstered it. "Sorry," he said sheepishly. She smiled at him.
"What brings you here, Jessie?" Heyes questioned. "Would you like a seat, can we get you anything?"
"No, I'm fine thank you," she said as she smiled at Heyes. He looked at her, waiting for her to continue. Jessie took a deep breath and looked at the two of them. "Right after the two of you left, he could have even come in the front when you went out the back."
"He?" Heyes interrupted.
"Yeah, he," Jessie continued. "This guy comes in and right away he starts to hang on me. He was getting a little aggressive and Henry was about to throw him out when he mentioned the two of you." She pointed at them; they leaned in as their interest was piqued. Seeing they were listening intently she went on. "Anyway, I shook Henry off and let this guy manhandle me a little so he would keep talking. Seems he's from up north, Shady Grove. Said he got a telegram yesterday saying they caught some of the Devil's Hole gang and they were goin' after Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry."
"Why'd he get the telegram?" Heyes asked.
"He said he rode with this Sheriff before," Jessie replied.
"Did he give a name?" Kid inquired.
"Some strange name, House, something house," she shook her head. "I don't know, Clinthouser?"
"Clitterhouse?" Heyes groaned.
"That's it," Jessie beamed.
Kid's head dropped as he closed his eyes and sighed.
"Go on, Jessie," Heyes said.
"Well he said, he rode with this guy before and they were goin’ to find out where the two of you were. Said that they would torture the guys they caught until they broke. He said the sheriff guy would beat the daylights out of them to get what he wanted." Jessie stopped talking and looked at the two of them.
"Anything else?" Heyes asked.
Jessie shook her head.
"Did he say where he was meeting them?"
"Oh, yes," she replied. "Half a night's ride south of here, where the rocks are?" She shrugged her shoulders. "Sorry that's all he said. Then he started pawing me again, wouldn't come up with any money so Henry threw him out. I came out the back and straight to you. I made sure no one saw."
Kid smiled at her, "You did real good Jessie, real good."
She smiled back at him. "I wouldn't want anything to happen to you." Their eyes locked on each other as he ran his hands through her red hair. "Oh," she blinked and turned her head as she remembered they weren't alone. "You either Heyes."
"Thanks, Jessie," Heyes said as he smiled at her.
"Well, I guess I better get back," she said once again looking into the bluest eyes. "You two will be alright, won't you?"
"We'll be fine," Kid smiled longingly as he placed his hand on her hip.
Heyes coughed, "See Kid, I've always told you to treat the ladies right."
Jessie smiled, "Don't worry Heyes, Kid always treats me right." She leaned in and kissed Kid on the lips, letting her lips linger for a moment when the kiss was done. She sighed and stepped back.
"Thanks Jessie," Heyes said, placing money in her hand as she kissed him on the cheek. She left and he closed the door behind her.
Concerned blue eyes met brown eyes as Heyes walked across the room. "So what are we gonna do?" Kid asked.
"Could be a trap," Heyes stated as he continued to walk to the window.
"Could be," Kid said slowly, his eyes never leaving Heyes. "Could also be the truth." He paused and waited for a response as his partner gazed out the window. "We gonna let the boys get beat up over us?" he persisted.
"You don't know they'll get beat up."
"It's Clitterhouse, Heyes. You know he would do just about anything to get us," Kid sternly stated. Heyes didn't move. "Heyes!"
"How do you expect me to think if you keep jabberin'?" Heyes sighed.
"You got a plan?"
"Not yet," Heyes moaned. "And I won't if you keep talkin'!"
"I knew you wouldn't let the boys down."
"You think Wheat would come after us?"
Kid studied Heyes, "I think Wheat would and anyway, we're not Wheat."
Heyes finally turned and looked at Kid, "This could still be a trap."
"Yeah it could, but I got faith that you'll make sure we don't fall into it," he said patting his partner's back.
Heyes shook his head, "I knew something wasn't right." He sighed, "Think I'm getting to old to keep doing this Kid."
Heyes turned his head and looked at his best friend, "I'm serious. All the planning, all the details and what's it get us?"
"We got the money from the train. All your plannin' and attention to detail paid off. What'd we get in those bags, twenty thousand dollars! You don't see every gang haulin' in that kind of money now do ya?" Kid said trying to boost his partner’s ego. "Heyes, we're the best. You don't see other outlaws with ten thousand dollars reward on them now do ya?" He swatted his friend on the arm and puffed out his chest.
Heyes stared at his partner and gave a halfhearted chuckle, "Thanks for reminding me Kid." He exhaled, "All this planning and it still got some of the boys caught and beat up cause of us."
"Heyes ya never forced no one to do nothin' they didn't want to. They all know the risks." He paused and then added. "You'll come up with a plan." Kid stated with confidence, "You always do."
"So now what?"
"I guess we get our horses and ride south."
"You think there at Boulder Creek?"
"What other rocky place is half a night's ride south?" Heyes responded. "Only one way to find out for sure." He put on his coat, pick up his saddlebag and placed his hat on his head. He waited for a moment as Kid did the same and they left the hotel room heading to the livery to get their horses.
The two rode quietly out of town, not wanting to arouse any suspicion as to why they were leaving late at night. They quickened their pace as they reached the outskirts of town in their desire to reach their destination as soon as possible.
Riding mostly in silence through the moonlit night, they didn’t slow their pace until they neared the area they knew as Boulder Creek. Kid turned to Heyes, "Think of what we're gonna do when we get there?"
"Rescue the boys," Heyes stated matter of factly.
Kid chuckled, "Well I didn't think we were gonna turn ourselves in."
Heyes scowled at his partner. "You come up with somethin'?"
"No," Kid shook his head. "You're the one that’s supposed to come up with a plan."
"Well it's hard to come up with a plan when I don't have any of the details. I don't know who or how many of the boys have been caught. Where and how they are being held. And besides Clitterhouse, we don't know how many there are of them," Heyes explained sounding very annoyed.
"You'll come up with something; you always do."
"We still might be walking into a trap."
Before Heyes had a chance to say anything else, his hand shot up motioning to be quiet. Pulling their horses to a stop and listening, they heard the sound of a horse approaching. Using hand signals to communicate, they quickly guided their horses into the cover and darkness of the trees. Heyes was on the left side of the trail with Kid about five feet behind of him on the right. As the rider reached them, Heyes darted out blocking the path; his gun was drawn, pointing at the rider. At the same time, Kid came out from the right, pulling up along side of the now stopped rider with his gun aimed at the rider's head. The rider raised his hands slowly.
"Where ya going in such a hurry?" Heyes asked.
"Just gittin' back to the missus," the rider replied in a shaky voice. "Who are ya?"
"Don't worry about who we are," Kid replied in a cold voice.
The rider whipped his head around in Kid's direction.
"Don't move unless you want to get shot!" Kid stated.
"Kid?" squeaked the rider as his hands started to sag.
Kid's eyes danced around trying to get a look at the man in the moonlight.
"Keep the hands in the air," Heyes said in his leader's voice.
"Heyes?" the rider meekly asked.
The brown haired man reached into his pocket and pulled out a match. Striking it against the saddle, he held it in the direction of the rider. Confusion quickly swept across his face, "Hank?"
Hank let out the breath he was holding and began lowering his hands but seeing Heyes' gun still pointed at him stopped.
"Oh," the leader said sheepishly as he lowered his gun. Nodding to Kid, he did the same. "Hank, what are you doing here?" Heyes asked.
"You two sure are a sight for sore eyes," the outlaw sighed.
"You too, so what are you doing here?"
"When we split, we headed down to Rock Bottom. Well, we was hurrahin' the town when Sheriff Clitterhouse, you know the Sheriff you got thrown out of Stutters Peak cause when you escaped from jail, you stopped and robbed the bank."
Heyes shrugged and smiled.
"Well he came into the saloon. He spotted Wheat and Lobo right away. We high tailed it out of there but he got his men and chased us down." Hank paused. "We spread out, Johnson, Carter and me headed towards the river. Wheat, Kyle and Lobo took the high road up here. Me, Johnson and Carter made it to the cave. When the others didn't show, I sent them back to the hole to tell you. I was goin' to find out what happened."
"Does Clitterhouse have them?" Kid questioned.
"Yeah," Hank answered. "He has them tied up a couple miles back."
"They okay?" Heyes began and then added, "Besides being caught."
"As far as I could see," Hank replied. "I couldn't get that close but it don't look like none of them is bleedin'."
Kid blew out his breath, "That's good. How many besides Clitterhouse?"
"I counted six, but I heard two of ‘em talkin' and they's expectin' more." Hank paused for a second and then added, "Clitterhouse is figurin' to torture ‘em to find out where you and Heyes were at. By the way, what are you two doin' down here?"
"We got tipped that some of the gang was captured," Kid explained. "We came down to see what we could do."
"Who'd tell Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry?" Hank asked sounding confused.
"A friend," Kid assured.
"Well in any case, it's good t' see ya." Hank nodded his head at the leaders of the gang.
"So Hank, how close can we get to the boys?" Heyes asked.
"Not sure," Hank replied.
"But you said you saw six men holding the gang," Heyes stated. "How close were you?" Heyes prodded.
"Oh," Hank replied innocently. "You shoulda asked that in the first place." He paused as he thought. "'Bout fifty feet or so. I was on the ridge lookin' down. Don't know if ya can get closer, that's why I said I weren't sure."
Heyes rolled his eyes. "How are they tied up?"
"Don't reckon I know," Hank replied. "Wasn't here when they were tied up so I didn't see what they used."
Heyes hung his head at the answer.
"Hank," Kid said sternly. "Are the boys tied up together, by themselves, to a tree?"
"Oh sorry," Hank said sounding embarrassed. "Guess I'm still surprised you two are here, my brain ain’t workin'."
"That's okay Hank," Heyes tried to assure. "Just tell us everything you know."
Hank nodded. "Wheat and Lobo are tied together. They're facin' each other with their arms and legs wrapped around a big boulder. They look real uncomfortable. Kyle's feet are tied up and his arms are tied around a tree. Clitterhouse and five other guys are just hangin' around the fire."
"Is there any cover or anyway we can get close to any of them?" Kid asked.
"There are some trees and bushes by Kyle, but Wheat and Lobo are sittin' out in the open," Hank responded.
Heyes thought for moment, "Hank can you take us to them?"
"Sure," Hank shrugged and they turned their horses in the direction of the gang.
The three covered the distance to the gang quickly and quietly. As they approached the area the gang was tied up in, they slowed, looking for a place to tie the horses far enough away so they wouldn't be seen or heard. Finding one they dismounted and then followed Hank up to the top of the ridge. Looking down, they saw the scene Hank had described. Heyes searched for an area closer that they could get to without being seen. Finding one, he pointed to a big boulder and they all quietly crept down the ridge. They moved one at a time, making sure to stay in the cover of the trees that were there; one moving forward, two watching his back. Finally reaching the bottom of the ridge, they were able to get within earshot of Clitterhouse and his men.
"Alright men," Clitterhouse announced. "It's time to get into position."
"Position? Aren't we just waitin' here?" one of the men asked.
"No. We're going to spread out. If Heyes and Curry come and see all of us here, they'll probably leave the gang to be tortured." Clitterhouse paced as he talked. "If only two of us are here, they'll try to rescue the gang."
"Where we gonna go?" another man questioned.
"We're going to split up in twos," Clitterhouse explained. "Bennett and McBride, I want you to go back to the fork in the road and wait for them. Charles and Harley you'll go just out of sight behind the big boulder."
Heyes and Kid looked at each other and the big boulder they were behind.
"You'll take the horses and tie ‘em up off to the east. Heyes and Curry should be comin' in from the west so they shouldn't see them. When they pass the fork in the road, Bennett and McBride will follow them in. Seein’ just Thompson and me, they'll step into our trap. When they get into the clearing, the two of you will come out from behind the big boulder while Bennett and McBride will ride in from the path. We'll have them surrounded!"
“But I thought yous was waitin' on some more help?" McBride asked.
"Yeah, well this is just in case Heyes and Curry come lookin' for ‘em tonight. I don't expect it, but we'll be ready!" Clitterhouse stated. "Okay, let's take our positions."
The men heading for the fork in the road mounted their horses and were off. The two heading for the boulder took their horse's leads and started moving towards Heyes, Kid and Hank. Using just hand signals, they decided their plan of action, as Charles and Harley got closer to them. The three moved swiftly back out of sight, heading to the east. Stopping in a small clearing Heyes and Kid hid on both sides of a large tree with Hank standing directly in the clearing. Surprisingly, Charles and Harley followed the three almost footstep to footstep. As they stepped in the small clearing, Hank stepped forward and waved. Startled, the two never saw Heyes and Kid step out from behind the tree or their fists before they made contact with their jaws. The two fell in a heap. Kid rubbed his knuckles as Heyes shook his hand. They looked at each other and smiled. Hank and Kid quickly relieved the men of their guns then tied and gagged them while Heyes tied their horses to the tree.
"That's two," Heyes whispered. "The other two should be by the fork in the road in a couple of minutes." Kid and Hank listened. "I was watching Clitterhouse, he's pacing over on the other side of the fire and not paying too much attention to Kyle. The other guy is too busy playing with the fire to notice anything. Hank, I think you can get to Kyle and untie him. Kid, you move as far as you can to the left. I'll go back to the boulder so we can cover you." Heyes paused for a moment. "Once he's untied, give him a gun and move around to the other side."
"What if this is already a trap and they're just waitin' for us to step into it?" Kid asked.
Heyes looked at Hank, "Did you see anyone else with Clitterhouse? Here? In the saloon? Or when he was chasing you?"
Hank shook his head, "Nope, we only saw the six leavin' town. We took the road into the hills cause Wheat wanted to see if they was gonna follow. After a few minutes, they did."
Kid thought a minute. "Where and how did he send a telegram askin' for more men and tellin' them he was here?"
"Don't know," Hank replied. "When I first found ‘em, there was only five of ‘em. Then a sixth one rode in. Maybe he went back to town."
"How long were you apart from Wheat and the boys?" Heyes whispered.
Hank took a breath and blew it out. "A good ten hours. We split and rode around makin' sure the posse weren't followin' us. Then we double backed to the cave and waited. When the sun started comin' up, I sent Johnson and Carter back to the hole to find you and I came lookin' for ‘em."
"Enough time to send someone to Rock Bottom to send a telegram," Heyes stated.
"Still could be a trap. Make it look like there's only six," Kid countered.
"Yep, it could be," Heyes agreed. "That's why you'll be over to the left. You can cover more ground from there."
Kid tilted his head at Heyes.
"You know we aint gonna let the boys get beat up over us.”
Kid sighed, "Might as well do it now."
Heyes nodded and they moved into position.
Hank slowly moved towards Kyle. Kyle heard a branch snap and looked up to see Hank in the bushes. Hearing the noise, Clitterhouse's head jerked in the direction it came from. Taking his gun from his holster, he moved towards Kyle. Kyle's eyes bulged slightly and a boyish grin formed on his face as he looked at Clitterhouse. "Sorry Sheriff, I was jes tryin' to git comfortable." The lawman continued to walk towards him as he scanned the area. Hank shrunk as low as he could into the bushes. The man by the fire was on his feet with his gun in his hand watching Clitterhouse. Kid and Heyes looked on with interest. "The stick is stickin' in my side and kinda hurts," Kyle whined. "Can ya give me a hand?"
"Pfftt," Clitterhouse waved his hand dismissively at Kyle and stopped. "If you think I'm helpin' an outlaw, you're crazy. Serves you right for moving when I told you to stay still!" Clitterhouse turned back towards the fire.
Kid, Heyes and Hank relaxed a little.
"Thompson, do a quick perimeter check," Clitterhouse ordered.
Heyes rolled his eyes, couldn't anything be easy. The partners moved back into the darkness of the shrubs. Thompson walked around the clearing poking the few shrubs outside of the glow of the fire with his gun. He walked within a couple feet of Heyes but was more going through the motions than looking. Satisfied with his efforts he announced, "All clear" and went back to playin' with the fire.
Clitterhouse went back to pacing, once again not paying attention to the tied up men. He paced and stared out into the darkness down the path, anticipating the arrival he was positive was going to happen. His eyes searched, looking for any movement. As his back was turned, Hank inched on his belly, making sure to clear all the debris with his hands before he moved forward. Finally reaching Kyle, he quickly untied him and they shrunk back into the shrubs.
Turning back around, Clitterhouse watched Thompson poke the fire, "We're gonna need some more wood for the night. Since you like playin' with it so much, you can go get it."
Thompson didn't move.
"Now!" Clitterhouse blasted
Thompson grumbled and then got to his feet. He slowly wandered around the clearing picking up twigs.
“We need logs, not twigs!" Clitterhouse barked.
Thompson mumbled under his breath, walking out of the light of the fire, he headed straight towards Kid. Taking two or three steps into the brush, he froze upon hearing the distinct sound of the hammer being pulled back on a gun.
"Slowly put your hands in the air," Kid instructed in a voice just above a whisper. "Be quiet, don't try anythin’ and you'll be just fine."
Thompson did as he was told.
Stepping forward, Kid removed Thompson's gun, placing it in his waistband. "Okay now slowly, take off your bandana and tie it around your mouth."
The man’s head started to turn towards the voice.
"Ah-ah," Kid said quietly. "You want to get out of this alive; you do as I say, quickly and quietly."
Thompson removed his bandana and put the gag on. Just as he finished tying it around the back of his head, Kid knocked him out with the butt end of his gun.
Clitterhouse stopped pacing when he heard a muffled thud. Holding his gun in his hand he took a step towards the last spot he saw Thompson. "Thompson," he called out. "Thompson," he repeated himself louder. Becoming nervous, his head and eyes moved all around the clearing and past the tree with the ropes lying on the ground. His head jerked back to the tree that Kyle had once been tied to. His eyes bulged as they darted back and forth finally falling on Wheat and Lobo. He pointed his gun at Wheat and walked towards him. "All right," he called out loudly. "Who ever is out there, you better show yourself or I'll shoot your friends."
Heyes stepped out from behind the boulder with his gun pointed at Clitterhouse. At the same time Kid, Hank and Kyle emerged from their hiding places. "I don't think that's such a good idea Clitterhouse," Heyes said in his leader voice. "See I have plenty of other gang members, but there is only one you."
"Thompson," Clitterhouse called again.
Heyes chuckled. "You can call them all, they're all tied up right now and can't help you."
Clitterhouse's eyes darted around, looking for his men.
Heyes continued walking slowly and deliberately forward. "So back to us...if you're lucky enough to get a shot off before Kid shoots you," Heyes nodded in his parnter’s direction, "the four of us will empty our guns in you." Heyes took another step forward. "See I think Kid is still angry you arrested us in the first place. And then you come up with this plan and you really made him mad. I don't think you have a chance pulling that trigger back before he shoots you. Then, you'll die and all the gang will be fine." Heyes stopped about ten feet from Clitterhouse with Kid, Hank and Kyle following his lead.
"You're forgetting one thing," Clitterhouse stammered. "Kid doesn't kill in cold blood."
"That's where you're wrong," Kid stated coldly. "See I don't consider this cold blood. I consider this protectin' my family."
"Got yourself a problem now, don't ya, Kurt?" Heyes said sarcastically. Heyes waited a beat and then continued. "This is how this is all going to work out. You're gonna put your gun down. Kyle's gonna come in and tie ya up. Then we're gonna get the two guys behind the boulder and the one I think Kid knocked out and tie them up around the fire too. Then we'll take you're horse's and leave ‘em down the rode a bit when we leave. Don't want to make it too easy for ya to come after us when the two guys you sent out to the fork in the road show back up here in the morning."
Clitterhouse stared at Heyes.
"Now don't worry, we'll put some logs on the fire to keep ya warm and hopefully keep any animals away." Heyes smiled at Clitterhouse. "So what do you think Kurt, you want to live to chase us down another day or do you want to end up dead." Heyes' eyes turned dark as he suddenly turned serious, glaring at the man.
Clitterhouse looked at the four men with their guns points at him. He took a nervous breath. "If I put my gun down, you give me your word none of you will shoot me?"
"You got my word," Heyes snarled.
Clitterhouse lowered his gun; dropping it, he kicked it towards Heyes.
"Well, you're smarter than I thought you were Kurt." Heyes' voice cut like a knife. "Kyle, get the ropes he tied ya up with and use them on him."
"Hank help Kid untie Wheat and Lobo."
Wheat and Lobo stood up, flexing their limbs to get the feeling back in them. "Good to see ya Heyes, Kid," Lobo said.
"Much obliged for gittin' us out of this mess."
"Anytime," Kid stated.
Going to help corral the other men, Wheat walked by Heyes and tipped his hat at him. "Heyes."
They gathered Clitterhouse, Thompson, Charles and Harley, tying them up and gagging them near the fire, adding a few logs as Heyes promised. Mounting their horses, they took the reins of Clitterhouse's and his men's horses.
"There still two men waitin’ at the fork in the road," Hank stated.
"Yeah," Heyes agreed. "That's why we're riding out the other way." Heyes smiled and looked at Kid. "Ready?"
Kid nodded and they were off.
As the sun began to peek over the horizon, the gang rode up the ridge towards dead line point and Devil's Hole. Down below in the distance they could see a dust cloud. Stopping momentarily they watched and counted the ten men riding quickly towards Boulder Creek.
"Looks like the reinforcements are arrivin’," Wheat said.
"A little late," Kid chuckled and then sighed. "Guess I'll have to thank Jessie." He smiled looking into the distance.
Heyes patted his partners back. "See, it pays to treat the ladies right." Kid nodded. "Now let’s go home."