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An Outlaw Tale: Major Reward, Minor Wound

A short tale inspired by this picture

Riding like the wind out of Clinton, after robbing their bank of close on twenty thousand dollars, it took till sunset for Heyes and the gang members with him, to finally shake their pursuers, so they could set a less punishing speed for the final few miles between them and the safety of Devil's Hole.

On arriving at the hideout, Heyes fired the signal shots, expecting to see his partner's head pop out to welcome them home, because he was sure his friend and the men with him, would have been back already. But when it was Preacher who appeared to wave them in, he felt his stomach lurch and his heart was suddenly loud in his ears. Preacher no doubt seeing his expression, wasted no time in hurrying over, as Heyes asked sharply. “Well?”

As Preacher smiled, and patted the horse, looking more amused than worried, Heyes' heart slowed to normal and his frown quickly shifted into a smile as the man said, “Shot in the leg, it ain't bad, but he needs to keep the weight off the wound for a day or two, and seeing as he was insisting on going to look for ya, I stole his clothes. Locked the door too. Here's the key!”

Heyes snorted and slid off his horse, relief coursing through him as he said. “Maybe keep outta his way for a day or two, Preacher.”

“Oh I intend to, Heyes, I trust in God, but I ain't no idiot.”

The man in black grinned as he led Heyes' horse away for a well-deserved rub down, a long drink and as many oats as he could eat.


As Heyes approached the leader's cabin, he could hear his partner's voice loudly even through the solid door. “Preacher, ya gonna pay for this! Where are my damn clothes?”

Heyes laughed softly knowing if his friend was able to make that much noise, he couldn't be too badly hurt. After unlocking the door and pocketing the key, he entered the small cabin with a smile and the Kid noting his arrival, was diverted from yelling to ranting at Heyes. “Tell him I want my clothes back, or, or I'll shoot him...” He paused and added with some disgust. “When I figure out where he's hidden my gun I will anyway.”

Heyes laughed, shook his head, rolled his eyes, and steered round his angry partner, to the small cupboard on the wall. He took a bottle out of it, peering at the label, deciding that the good stuff was probably called for as the Kid continued to complain. “You listenin' to me Heyes? What's the point of bein' leader when folk just steal your clothes.”

Heyes sighed as he poured them both a drink and handed one of them to his friend, who briefly diverted, took a large gulp, before adding in a softer but no less irritated tone. “You tell him, Heyes, ya hear me?”

Clad in only long johns, with even his feet bare, a glass in one hand, flushed red, as he hopped on one leg, his hair stuck out all over the place, the Kid looked more like an angry hedgehog then a fearsome gunfighter and Heyes had to hide a second chuckle behind another a drink as he waved his friend to sit. “C'mon Kid, settle down, you know he's only doing what he thinks is best.” He paused then added. “And ya know you gotta rest up some, or you'll have to miss the next job and I need ya to keep Kyle and those other numbskulls in line so they keep to my perfect plan.”

The Kid slumped down into a chair with a heavy sigh, and took another long drink out of the glass in his hand, clearly expressing his disgruntlement without saying another word, but Heyes could see he'd calmed down some, though he added a little plaintively. “But he took my clothes and hid my gun!”

Heyes laughed. “Well what do ya expect? We lead a bunch of crooks after all.”

After a brief pause, as they both drank, the Kid said “You took your time, Heyes.”

Heyes grimaced, but recognising the worry causing the short tone, patted his friend's hand reassuringly but didn't acknowledge it any other way as he said. “Well I'm real sorry, Kid, but shaking the posse took longer than we figured it would.” He stopped, nodded over at the Kid and added sharply. “And it ain't me who got shot.”

The Kid snorted and rubbed his leg with a grimace. “Lucky bullet, I'm real surprised they managed to hit anything as they were terrible shots. Nearly as bad as you in fact.”

It was a familiar joke between them, because though Heyes was nowhere near as fast as the Kid, he was no slouch, and both of them were well aware of it, but Heyes snorted. “Well some of us ain't as obsessive as you are! Besides I think, you shoot, which seems to work for us, 'cept when you don't get outta the way of a bullet when ya oughta.”

The Kid glared at him, before waving his empty glass in Heyes' direction, and his partner took the hint, pouring them both a refill as the Kid hobbled over to the bed, and lay down with a small grunt of discomfort, which gave Heyes a slight twinge of worry, and he asked softly as he handed over the refilled glass. “You need something for the pain?”

The Kid smiled at him and took an appreciative drink. “Nah, it ain't real bad, so this whisky will do me right enough.” He waved over at his saddlebags hung on the back of the chair. “Money's in there. I'll trust ya to take both our shares 'cos I'm gonna get some shut eye.” Just before he drifted into sleep, the Kid muttered. “You bring my clothes back with ya, and my gun too.”

Heyes grinned, patted his friend's shoulder, took the half full glass gently out of his slack grip and placed it with his on the side, before grabbing the bulging saddlebags and heading out to split it with the gang. He was already planning what he and the Kid would do with their share as he entered the bunkhouse with his face split into a broad, genuine smile, and the main thought in his head was, life is good.

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Oct 22, 2023

That was a great read, sounded just like you'd expect them too. It was smart of Preacher to take his clothes, maybe taking he went a bit far taking the gun, you know Kid feels about being without his gun.

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