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Heyes and Kid Curry were walking down the boardwalk of Florrisant Colorado, on a bright clear cold day in October. Their stay had been a pleasant one because it had been unremarkable. They had seen no familiar faces, had won a fair amount of money at the card tables, and had otherwise enjoyed an uneventful week. Suddenly the Kid grabbed Heyes’ arm and pulled him back to a side street. “What?” hissed Heyes. “Over there. Look. That’s Wade Sawyer, ain’t it?” Heyes groaned. “Again? Did he see us?” The Kid shook his head. He peered carefully around the corner to keep an eye on the troublesome lawman.“He sure does seem to show up a lot, don’t he,” observed Curry. “Guess that means we gotta leave town—again.” “You guessed right partner.” Heyes shook his head. Sawyer was between them and the train station. “Let’s see what time the next stage leaves.” It turned out the next stage didn’t leave for another week. Florrisant had a train station, and most people took that the stage manager informed them. “It was sure ruining his business,” he added as he stared at the backs of the two men. Next stop was the livery. “Sorry boys, them’s all rented or sold fer now. I don’t keep many horses on hand no more ‘cause Florissant’s got a train station now, and most folks…” “…take the train,” Heyes finished the livery man’s sentence for him. “Yes, we know.” They left the livery still on the alert for Wade Sawyer. The Kid pulled Heyes back one more time when he spied the lawman. Fortunately he was headed for the saloon. “Hopefully that’ll keep him busy for awhile,” Heyes said. “Well, you’re the thinker, Heyes. How do we get out of town this time? You wanna risk the train?” “Well that would seem to be the only way left, unless you wanna walk, Kid.”
“Funny, Heyes. Guess it’ll have to be the train, ‘cause I sure ain’t gonna walk. I just hope we have enough time to get tickets without Sawyer showing up at the station.” He paused. “Heyes, you remember what happened last time we saw Sawyer and took the train?” “Yep, but the odds are that can’t happen twice, and anyway Briscoe’s a ‘friend’ of ours now, and he’s nowhere near.” “True Heyes. Good idea; ‘course it’s really my idea,” and the Kid smiled.
The two friends arrived at the depot, and were slightly surprised and discomforted by what they saw. “Heyes, how come there’s so many people here?” “Well, Kid I guess the best way to find out would be to ask.” “OK, Heyes you’re the talker, go ask.” “You know Kid I’ve heard you talk, and you’re actually pretty good at it.” “Yeah, but I thought up the train, so now it’s your turn.” Heyes shrugged his shoulders, and went to the ticket booth. He returned shortly. “Well?” “Well, it’s a company train.” “A what?” “A company train, Kid. It’s going to Guffey. Only potential employees of the Bradshaw Mining Company can board it. That’s why its so crowded. Most of these people are hoping to get jobs.” “Well, we can be potential employees, can’t we?” Heyes looked the Kid straight in the face. “Married employees only. They want a ‘moral’ town. No single folk allowed.” “Um, well, can’t we…”
“What--be married? Where you gonna find two women to marry so fast?” “Well, what are we gonna do? I don’t wanna walk to Guffey.” As they were talking Wade Sawyer came around the corner, and the Kid yanked Heyes back a third time. “I wish you wouldn’t pull so hard when you do that, Kid.” “What do you want me to do? You never see him. You want me to leave you out in the open?” “No, sorry,” Heyes grumbled. “Maybe you could sort of warn me first, though.” “How?” “I don’t know how, you’re the one who sees him.” The two ‘discussed’ the finer points of warnings as they walked down a street nowhere in Sawyer’s sight. They stopped in front of a milliner’s store. Heyes gazed distractedly at the broad window while the Kid continued talking. There was a green dress on display, and a blue one. The blue one sort of matched Kid’s eyes, he mused. “Kid, I’ve got it,” he broke in. “Got what, Heyes.” “Got an idea. A Hannibal Heyes Plan. How we can get out of town.” Now the Kid groaned. “Heyes your plans haven’t exactly been workin’ out lately.” “What do you mean, not working out?” Heyes asked, looking slightly injured. “Not workin’ out. I think that’s pretty clear, what I mean by not workin’ out.” “Kid this one is different.” “Oh you mean it might actually work?” “Kid, of course it’s gonna work. It’s foolproof.” Kid groaned again.
Heyes continued rapidly before Curry could get another word in. “Look, its perfect. We’ll buy you a dress, and then we can get on the train as a married couple.” “WHAT!?” “I said, we’ll buy you a dress, a wig, a hat, and you can pretend you’re my wife. Perfect,” Heyes finished smugly. “I am not gonna wear a dress! And I ain’t gonna be your wife. You think this idea is so perfect, you wear the dress.” “Kid, one, it’s my idea, and two, who’s gonna believe I’m a woman?” The Kid growled, “me, that’s who. ‘Cause, one, I ain’t gonna wear a dress, and two, who’s gonna believe I’m a woman?” “Tell you what, we’ll toss a coin,” said Heyes grinning. The Kid looked at his partner skeptically. “And that’s supposed to be fair?” “You got a better idea?” The Kid hesitated. Then he finally said, “OK but we use my coin, this time.” Now Heyes hesitated. Then he said, “I guess that’s OK, but I flip it.” “Nope, I toss the coin. Then it’ll be fair.” They both hesitated, each waiting for the other to concede. Heyes eventually realized that the Kid was not going to budge. “OK, your coin, and your toss,” he acquiesced reluctantly. The Kid smiled. He pulled out a quarter and spit on it. He rubbed it until it was shiny. “Will you hurry up, Kid. That train’s not gonna wait, you know, and we’ve got a lot to do to get you ready, that is.” “Just wanna do it right, Heyes. And you know it might be you we gotta get ready.” The Kid held the coin up, and scrutinized both sides with care. He took a step back, and licked a finger, then held it up to check the direction of the wind.
“Kid, toss it already!” The Kid tossed the coin, and covered it with his hand. He raised his hand slightly and peeked at it. He frowned, and looked sorrowful. Heyes grinned ear to ear. “Too bad Kid, better luck next time,” he said. The Kid took his hand off the coin, and held it out. “It ain’t me I’m feeling sorry for, its you, Heyes,” he said gleefully. Heyes’ grin shrank, hung limply and disappeared.. He stared blankly the coin and then at the Kid. “Did I mention, it was going to be two out of three, Kid?” “Nope, and it ain’t. Now what did you say we needed? A dress, a wig and a hat? What about a lady’s purse Heyes? You’ll want that too, won’t you?” Heyes didn’t reply. The Kid continued. “I mean it’ll look right, won’t it, and you can carry your gun in it. So who’s gonna buy the dress and who’s gonna buy the wig? You wanna toss a coin for that?” “I’ll buy the dress. I’ll say it’s for my twin sister.” The Kid raised his eyebrows. “My tall twin sister.” Heyes gritted out the words between his teeth. “You buy the wig and the purse.” “What color hair you want Heyes, red?” Heyes glared. “Not red,” he growled. “Brown. I’ll try to get a black dress.” “Black, you in mourning, Heyes?” “Black to be inconspicuous. We don’t wanna attract attention.” The Kid’s face openly displayed skepticism at Heyes in a dress being ‘inconspicous.’ Heyes turned on his heel and went into the dress shop. He looked over his shoulder and added, “brown hair, and a plain purse. Don’t you get anything fancy.” “Sure, if that’s what you want, Heyes, but its gonna be kinda boring.” “Meet me behind the undertaker’s.” The Kid walked off shaking his head. “Boy, he really is in mourning.”
Later, behind the undertaker’s, the Kid struggled to tie the corset. He sucked in his cheeks in an almost futile attempt to smother his laughter as he tightened the corset. “Heyes, you gotta suck in your stomach more so you’ll have a figure.” “Kid, I don’t need a figure, just tie the damn strings,” he gasped. “Not so tight.” “But Heyes, you’re gonna be my wife, and no one would believe I’d have a wife without a figure.” “Kid you keep this up and I’m gonna be your widow, not your wife!” “Heyes, I’m only trying to help,” he responded innocently. After fighting with the corset for some time they finally came to the unsettling, for Heyes at least, realization that they would be unable to tie it over the long johns. Rectifying this they hurriedly tied the corset, and threw the dress on. “I thought the dress was gonna be black,” the Kid observed. “They didn’t have a black one this size,” a red-faced Heyes mumbled in response. “Well, that green’s real nice, and it goes with your eyes.” Heyes glared at the Kid who continued happily, “and I didn’t fancy having my ‘wife’ in black anyway. I mean who would believe that my ‘wife’ would be dressed in a dull dress?” “And green will go better with the wig,” the Kid said as he reached into a box and pulled it out. Heyes looked at it in horror. “It’s red! I told you not to get red.” “Heyes, that’s all they had. There’s not exactly a large call for wigs in this town. We were lucky. They had this one shipped in for a play, and then the play closed after one night so it’s still in good shape. They gave me a bargain on it, ‘cause it was used.” Heyes yanked the wig from Curry’s hands and slapped it on his head. The Kid looked at him appraisingly, reached up and turned it around. “It looks better this way I think. And if it makes you feel any better, you don’t look like a hussy,” he added soothingly. He stood back and appraised Heyes. “You know, you don’t look so bad.” He bent over and took another item out of the box. “You know what Heyes? I saved so much money I was able to get this too,” and he held out a small bottle.
“What’s that?” Heyes asked suspiciously. “Face paint. I told the clerk my wife had some scars she liked to keep covered. Pretty smart, huh?” Heyes responded by glaring harder, if that was possible. “Heyes, even if you shave, well, you know…” Heyes grabbed the bottle. “Uh Heyes, maybe I should put that on you. You don’t wanna overdo it you know.” “I think I can manage, Kid.” Heyes’ voice should have been deep with sarcasm, but the stays were so tight it came out high and breathless. The Kid nodded approvingly. “You’re talking just right Heyes.” Curry went back to the box the dress had been packaged in and retrieved the hat. He held it out and studied it with a critical eye. “It matches the dress, but it’s sort of plain. I don’t think it’s what my wife would be wearing.” Heyes stared at the Kid in disbelief, took the hat and put it on.
Soon the Kid was purchasing the tickets while Heyes was looking at the ground trying to remain inconspicuous. A couple passed him to board the train. “Hiram, did you ever see such a tall lady? I can’t remember when I’ve last seen a lady so tall,” the woman whispered in a voice that could only be heard by the nearest twenty or thirty people. “What about your cousin Martha?” “Oh yes, you’re right. I forgot about her. But she wasn’t quite so broad shouldered, I think, and her hair wasn’t quite so bright. I think Martha’s mousy hair was more genteel, don’t you?” “Hmm, I think I rather like red hair,” Hiram answered as his wife gave him a gentle kick. He tore his face from the tall red Amazon in the green dresss as his wife dragged him on board. The Kid returned with the tickets and Heyes snatched one from him. The Kid snatched it back. “I’m the husband, remember,” he hissed. They boarded the train and the Kid handed the tickets to the conductor.
They worked their way to a car with two available seats. The Kid stowed their luggage under the seats, and allowed Heyes to pass him and sit by the window. “Ladies first.” He smiled as he allowed Heyes to sit ahead of him in the window seat. Heyes sat down with some relief. “You tied this thing too tight,” he hissed, “I can barely breathe.” Curry glanced around at the now full car. “You know, I can sure understand why folks want these company jobs,” he whispered ignoring Heyes’ comment, “they’re gonna pay real well. You know maybe when we get to Guffey we should stay on awhile.” Heyes gave him a dirty look. “Now remember, you’re supposed to be my adoring wife,” the Kid added as the train lurched forward. Heyes doubled the dirty look. Twenty minutes later a man walked into the car and both Heyes and Kid recognized him as the company representative. “Welcome folks; hope everyone is settled in and comfortable. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Michael Warren and I am your liaison with the Bradshaw Mining Company. I’ve got a few announcements to make, and then I’ll let you good people enjoy the trip. The town we are locating you all in, Guffey, is well on its way. The Bradshaw Mining Company has built some homes for all of you, and we’ve even built a church and a school. Now most of you don’t need that school yet, but I’m sure you all will soon, and the Bradshaw Mining Company thinks ahead,” he said winking. “Ahem, now to continue: you are all respectable folks or you wouldn’t be here, leastways if you aren’t you won’t be in Guffey long,” Heyes and the Kid exchanged sideways glances, as the representative gave a little laugh. “The Bradshaw Mining Company takes care of its own. And just to make sure we have a law-abiding, moral community, the Bradshaw Mining Company has hired one of our country’s top lawmen to keep the peace, Marshal Wade Sawyer. He’ll be along in a few minutes to greet everyone. Meantime sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Now some of you folks may have noticed this train doesn’t have certain amenities. It’s a short trip, and we’ll be making a few stops along the way to make up for that. Now when we do we’ll direct the ladies and the gentlemen to separate locales. I know you will all behave properly, especially since anyone who doesn’t is going to be left behind.” “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have another car full of future citizens and employees of the Bradshaw Mining Company of Guffey, Colorado to talk to.” Heyes collapsed back into his seat, closed his eyes and moaned. “Sawyer is on the train;
we didn’t even have to leave Florissant. We could have stayed. I didn’t have to dress like this.” “What’d I say about ‘Hannibal Heyes Plans? Anyway, what are you complaining about?” Heyes gave the Kid another incredulous look as he continued. “Well at least you’re in disguise. I’m gonna have to be avoiding Wade Sawyer until we reach Guffey. Maybe you can keep him occupied, or something.” The Kid got up in disgust and hurried toward the rear door. “Wait,” Heyes gasped, “don’t leave me here alone.” As the Kid passed down the aisle several of the ladies who had overheard this last remark of Heyes tsked at the neglectful husband. Heyes sank in his seat, and turned to look dejectedly out the window. Wade Sawyer entered from the front door as the rear door closed behind Kid. The marshal shook hands with the men, and tipped his hat at the ladies as he passed them, exchanging a few innocuous pleasantries. When he reached Heyes he stopped. “Ma’am, you don’t mind if I sit a spell and rest here, do you? It appears to be the only vacant seat I’ve seen left on the train. Heyes grunted, and Sawyer took that for an affirmative response. They sat in an awkward silence. Sawyer glanced sideways at the tall ‘lady’ beside him and looked at her from the top of ‘her’ hat to the bottom of ‘her’ stylish green dress, from which two toes barely protruded. Her red hair complemented the green dress. Her hat matched the dress in color, but it was a sensible hat, not all feathers and frills like some he had seen. He liked red hair. The fact was he had lied to her about being tired. He had seen the red hair when he entered the car, noticed the empty seat, and made the immediate decision to become better acquainted. The west was still short on women, especially red-heads, and this one seemed to be unattached. Now that was a puzzle in itself as he had been informed that only married couples were allowed on the train. He didn’t want to appear to be staring at her so he faced forward and glanced sideways. He wanted to see her face and her hands. She seemed a little shy. Her head was turned to the window, and tilted downward. He tried to get a better glimpse of her features. He soon realized she wore a little face paint, which pained him as it meant she must have been unfortunate to have suffered small pox, and was covering the scars it had left. His own sister did that, and it really wasn’t unusual. Anyway, it wasn’t loud face paint; she was definitely a lady.
He noticed her hands had long tapered fingers. He tried to look more closely at them without being obvious. She covered them with her dress, her purse and a book, to his exasperation. He had to assume she had a spouse who was currently absent. How could a man leave his wife alone so soon on a journey to a new town and a new life? He tried to think of a reason and came to the conclusion that he was either sick and needed air or a despicable lowlife. He looked sideways at the red hair. If he was ill, she would be with him, so he must not be ill. Perhaps he had some sort of business to attend to. He repeatedly glanced to the side looking at that hair, and tried to see her hands which were still frustratingly hidden. Unable to contain his curiosity he began to speak. “Ma’am, I hope you genuinely don’t mind me sitting here next to you,” he apologized, “I rode into Florissant late last night, and didn’t get much rest. I give you my word, these are the only words I will say to you; I don’t wish to disturb you ma’am, and I will leave as soon as your husband returns.” There, that should elicit some kind of an answer, and he was soon gratified with the result. Heyes, stared out the window, and only half listened. He was preoccupied with hiding his face, breathing, and being peeved with the Kid. “Oh, him. He won’t be returning anytime soon, I’m sure of that.” Heyes pulled his hands out from under the purse, the book, and the fold of dress they had been covered with. There were a few more minutes of silence. Sawyer kept looking at Heyes’ hands. This made Heyes a little edgy, as he couldn’t understand why they would be of so much interest to the lawman. Between that, the worry that Sawyer would recognize him, and his discomfort, Heyes was feeling fairly miserable. Heyes moved his hands covering his left hand with his right. “Ma’am, I am sorry. I hope I am not making you uncomfortable.” Sawyer meant it. He felt truly sorry for staring at her hands after he had confirmed the delightfully unhappy fact that she had no wedding band. That was bound to make any woman feel bad. “I thought you said you weren’t going to disturb me,” Heyes said in a breathy high voice. “I am sorry ma’am, it is just that I couldn’t help but notice…I shouldn’t say anything… I…I…” “Oh what already? And it’s Mrs. Jones, if you’re wondering. You don’t have to keep saying ma’am.” Heyes spoke in an irritated voice. It was bad enough being so uncomfortable. But not knowing what Wade Sawyer was thinking was even worse. How bad was this disguise anyway? What was wrong with his hands? “Ma’am,” Sawyer said in a gentle voice, “I am sorry if I’ve upset you. I couldn’t help but notice you weren’t wearing a wedding band.”
Heyes looked at his hand. He was nonplussed at the unexpected remark. “That is true,” Heyes sighed thinking rapidly. “You see, we, my husband and I, were only married this morning. There was no time to get a ring. We didn’t want to miss the train.” Heyes risked looking a Sawyer full in the face; eyes wide open, hoping he looked innocent enough. “I see ma’am. But ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking another question, and I am sorry if I sound so forward, where is your husband? If you were married this morning, I would imagine he would wish to be here with you, I mean to say, well ma’am I am sorry.” Heyes really wished Sawyer would quit apologizing. It was an annoying habit. Heyes sighed again for what he hoped would be the proper effect. “We, my husband and I that is, were married because he needs the job. We’re friends you see, but not, um, more than friends. So I really don’t expect him to be, well you see, by my side. That’s more than I should say, and I don’t think it is proper for me to continue, but seeing as you are a lawman, I suppose I can confide in you.” There was another long silence. Heyes hoped that financial desperation would explain the situation to the inquisitive lawman. “Ma’am so you are saying this is a marriage of convenience? More of a business agreement than a marriage? I mean that you and your husband aren’t, uh…I am sorry ma’am if I am being too forward,” Sawyer’s face reddened. “You don’t have to be sorry,” Heyes replied, thoroughly fed up with Sawyer’s apologies. Then he realized what Sawyer was asking, and turned red. “You think? No! We aren’t married like that!” Heyes was honestly shocked. This was probably the most embarrassing conversation he had since the Kid had opened ‘his’ bag and found ladies clothing in it. He continued hurriedly and worriedly, “you won’t tell Mr. Warren or anyone else, will you? He really needs the work; we both need the money. You do understand, don’t you?” “I give you my word, ma’am. I won’t tell a soul.” “Perhaps we can talk about something else,” Heyes said in all sincerity. Sawyer readily obliged, vowing inwardly to make amends for his inexcusable rudeness. He glanced at the book in Heyes’ lap, and became inspired with a new subject. The two passed the time in discussing books, politics, and current events. Heyes was pleased. Sawyer hadn’t recognized him, and this allowed him to relax somewhat. If he wasn’t so uncomfortable it would have been an enjoyable conversation. And he took some pleasure in the thought that the Kid was in the next car worrying.
Sawyer was also pleased. Women weren’t usually such interesting conversationalists. Normally they spoke only about babies and dresses to his experience. But Mrs. Jones had a ready wit, and plenty to say. Now that he could see her face he could tell that she wasn’t pretty, her mouth was too broad and her features too angular, but she had an interesting face. She certainly was tall, you couldn’t deny that, but that only made her stand out, he figured, and she exuded good health. He found that more attractive than beauty. Wade Sawyer began to consider his future in Guffey, a town with no single women. That meant that unless he traveled and met someone or wooed a mail-order bride there was little opportunity for the family life he craved. He wouldn’t be traveling much in the near future, and he didn’t like the idea of taking someone sight unseen. He liked children. He liked red hair. He admired strong, healthy, confident women. A strong woman would be able to have and take care of, a large family. He caught and chided himself, for having such thoughts, because those thoughts kept returning to Mrs. Jones. But, he couldn’t help thinking, this wasn’t a real marriage and, from the little Mrs. Jones talked of her husband, she didn’t appear to be happy with him at all. Certainly he could offer as much as this Jones fellow, more even. After all he was a lawman, a man of means and authority. “Mrs. Jones, I wasn’t too certain about my decision to work for Bradshaw in Guffey, but now I think I made a wise choice,” he blurted out. He decided to throw out some bait, and cast his net to see what he could come up with. “Well, I’m sure you made a good decision.” Heyes smiled, puzzled by Sawyer’s sudden change of topic. “It’s certainly a good one financially. The Bradshaw Mining Company pays well, extremely well, and they are gonna give me benefits too. My house is gonna be free, you know the company’s mining employees have to pay some for theirs, and I’ll be getting some paid holidays too. I’ll be earning a substantial income, and I have plans for the future. I think if I play my cards right I could become mayor of Guffey.” “That’s nice,” answered Heyes vaguely. Then he thought about it. That was nice. It would definitely be to his and the Kid’s advantage if Wade Sawyer didn’t keep popping up unexpectedly. “I think you are going to do well in Guffey,” he said more enthusiastically, “you can probably make your career there, and settle down for life.” Now that was more like it, thought Sawyer. It was that last part, the part about becoming mayor, that had perked her up he suspected. Women liked a man with a big future. Someone who would be important and could make them important was always considered ‘a catch.’ He had learned that from his sister. Michael Warren entered the car and walked over to Sawyer interrupting his pleasant musings. “We’re going to make our first stop in a few minutes, Marshal. We’re going to need your help in keeping the ladies and gentlemen separated.”
Sawyer turned to Heyes. “Mrs. Jones, ma’am, if you’ll excuse me, duty must be attended to,” he said in a self-important voice, in an attempt to impress the ‘lady.’ He walked towards the front door following Warren, but turned back to glance at ‘Mrs. Jones’ in what he judged to be a fond but not forward manner. Heyes barely returned the glance. He touched his left cheek, and figured that the train was making a stop none too soon. He only hoped he wouldn’t cut his face shaving; he didn’t know how he would explain that. The train stopped and the riders were directed off. It was apparent why the train had stopped at this point. There was ample forest for privacy here, and running water could be heard. The men and women were separated, and Heyes went a few steps farther separating himself from the women. He found a secluded spot by the stream and took out his razor and a small mirror. He got down to business, taking his time and being as careful as possible. He finished and dabbed on some of the face paint. “Mrs. Jones, may I have a few words with you?” Heyes spun around to see Wade Sawyer. “How long have you been here?” “Mrs. Jones, don’t be alarmed. I just arrived.” He smiled. “It took me awhile to find you.” “Well, that’s alright, then,” Heyes exhaled the words in relief. He walked forward to return to the train. As he passed Sawyer, Sawyer grabbed his wrist. “Mrs. Jones, we need to talk.” “We do?” “On the train, you said that I should make my career in Guffey, and settle down for life.” “You’re right. I did say that.” “You wouldn’t have said that unless you understood my meaning.” “I wouldn’t have?” “No, and I know you are too much of a real lady than to toy with a man.” “You do?” Wade hurried on to get the words out. “I know we only just met, but we have everything
in common. It’s just one of those things that happen. I think we were meant to meet.” Heyes jaw dropped. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” he managed to gasp out. He made an attempt to free himself from Sawyer. He looked up and saw the Kid waving. Oh great, the train must be ready to leave. He tried to pull his hand away. “No listen to me.” Sawyer grabbed Heyes other hand as well now. “We’ll be living in the same town. I’ll be wanting a family, and, and…” he continued more softly now, seeing the look of shock on Heyes’ face and thinking he was frightening Mrs. Jones. “I’m not asking you to promise anything; I know we just met, but you did say it wasn’t a real marriage you have with Mr. Jones. All I’m asking is you keep it that way. I guess I just wanted to know if that’s what you intend. I…I just want a chance to…I want to know you better, properly I mean… and if things turn out…well what I am saying is an annulment is easier than a divorce…I’m sorry…I suppose I shouldn’t have said…I’m sorry…” Sawyer’s voice trailed off. Heyes looked at the Kid. Now the Kid was waving frantically, almost jumping up and down. He got the idea; they had to leave now. “I think I can safely assure you; it isn’t and never will be a real marriage. Now can we go back to the train? It’s going to leave, and if we don’t hurry up we’re going to miss it.” Sawyer relaxed and smiled when he heard the first part of Heyes’ response. The problem was he didn’t seem to hear the part about the train leaving. “That’s a relief ma’am.” Then he corrected himself. “I mean I am sorry, Mrs. Jones, I mean…” “Will you stop apologizing, and let go of my hands. We’re going to miss the train,” Heyes repeated. He pulled himself away and hurried towards the Kid who quickly ducked behind a tree so Sawyer couldn’t see him. After a few steps, Heyes boot caught the hem of the dress and he fell. “Da—darn it all!” The Kid peered around the tree. He looked back at the train. The whistle blew, and he mouthed ‘C’mon.’ Heyes raised his head and mouthed back, ‘oh hell.’ He started to get up and would have managed, but Sawyer hurried over to help the ‘lady in distress.’ His aid only made things worse and Heyes wasted precious time trying to bat the man away. The whistle blew again and the train started off. The Kid ran towards the train, turning to wave Heyes on. It wasn’t going fast, and under normal circumstances this would have been no problem at all, what with their experience in hopping trains. But these weren’t normal circumstances. Heyes ran towards Kid and the train, only to stop, panting. The train was gone. Heyes dropped on his knees, frustrated and dejected. Sawyer crouched beside him. “Damn you, Wade Sawyer,” he muttered, “now I gonna have to walk to Guffey in this!”
Sawyer’s hands stopped in mid-space when he heard ‘Mrs. Jones’ language. He grasped at empty air, not certain he had heard correctly. Heyes quickly disillusioned the man. He let out a stream of curses so blue they even shocked the Kid. Curry approached pulling out his gun and cocking it. “Now what are we gonna do?” he asked. “We’re gonna have to **** **** **** walk to Guffey.” “I know that. I mean what are we gonna do about him?” He waved his Colt at Sawyer. Sawyer stared at the Kid goggle-eyed. Kid Curry! He turned slowly and looked at ‘Mrs. Jones.’ If that was Kid Curry…He studied ‘her’ face again. “Oh my god…” The marshal closed his eyes, and his head drooped onto his chest. “You think of something, Kid. It’s your turn. I’m done with thinking for today.” “Heyes, I thought I wasn’t supposed to do the thinking.” Heyes got up in a rage. “Don’t you make jokes about this Kid, and don’t you say the words ‘Hannibal Heyes Plan’. Don’t you dare.” “Heyes, calm down. I ain’t joking. We need to do something about him. We can’t tie him up and leave him here. It’ll get too cold at night. He’ll die.” Sawyer spoke up. “I’m surprised. I didn’t think Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry would be worried about a lawman.” “Don’t get your hopes up Sawyer. I’m all for leaving you out here.” Heyes stomped off. The Kid waved his pistol at Sawyer to follow. “He don’t mean that Sawyer. He’s had a bad day. First we see you and figure we have to get out of town, but the only way out is on the train, and you gotta be married to get on the train. So he came up with this ‘great Hanni…” Heyes turned around looking daggers at the Kid “…with this great plan, but then he lost the coin toss.” “The coin toss?” “Yep, see we tossed to see who had to dress up, and he lost.” “Sounds fair to me.”
Heyes turned around again and gave Sawyer a look that was the twin of the one he gave Curry. “Then we get on the train, and you’re on it. Well, we sure didn’t expect that.” “I imagine not.” Heyes had reached the tracks and began to walk in the direction of Guffey. “Heyes, do you wanna go that way?” “What?” Heyes snapped out, stopping. The Kid turned to Sawyer. “Marshal, which is closer, Guffey or Florissant?” “Florissant. We only made our first stop.” Heyes continued towards Guffey. “Heyes, will you stop? Florissant is closer and it’s the other way.” “Guffey is this way, and my clothes are in Guffey. You two wanna go to Florissant? That’s fine with me. I’m heading to Guffey.” The Kid and Wade Sawyer shrugged their shoulders and followed Heyes. “He isn’t always like this, is he?” “Nope. Guess he’s a little moody today. Like I said earlier, he ain’t having one of his best days.” They continued at a slow pace as Heyes punctuated his steps with curses and kicks at the hem of the dress. “Heyes, that hem’s starting to come undone.” No answer. “Heyes, I’m only sayin’ it, because if you keep catching it when you walk it’s gonna come undone more and be harder to walk in.” “You might trip again,” added Sawyer unhelpfully. Heyes strode forward in purposeful silence. Occasionally he picked at the sides of the dress as if he wanted to remove it, and the tied-too-tightly corset.
Heyes stopped after another hour of walking. “Heyes, you need to rest?” the Kid asked solicitously. Heyes was red-faced and panting. “This ain’t going to work.” He reached around his back and began to search for the buttons. “Whoa there, partner. What are you doin?” “What’s it look like I’m doing?” “You can’t do that Heyes. You’ve only got the corset on underneath. You take that off and you’ll only be in your boots.” “Is that true?” asked Sawyer. “Yep, I couldn’t tie the corset tight enough for him to get the dress on with his long underwear on so he had to remove…” the Kid’s voice trailed off. Wade Sawyer stifled a laugh. “You really can’t take that off then. You can’t walk around in only your boots.” “I’m not asking you for permission Sawyer, and if you were my friend Kid you’d help me get this thing off.” “Nope.” “Kid…” “Sawyer’s right. Someone could come by. You know you can’t walk around nekkid.” Heyes plopped down on the ground in resignation. “In that case I need to rest.” “So Heyes, you thought of what we’re gonna do about Sawyer yet?” “Kid all I am thinking of is breathing. You worry about Sawyer.” Heyes lay back and closed his eyes. “I’m real sorry about him, Sawyer. Usually he would think something up, and everything would be OK. Like I said he’s had a bad day.” “I guess I’m sorry about that too.” “Will you two stop saying ‘I’m sorry,’ and will you stop saying I’ve had a bad day. I
would think that was obvious.” “Sheesh.” The Kid shook his head. “You know,” mused Sawyer, changing the subject, “when I think about it I realize I haven’t heard much about you two boys lately. Having tough times?” Curry looked at Heyes, who made it clear he had no plans to respond. The Kid was going to have to answer this on his own. “Well, I uh, I guess you could say we’re sort of retired.” “Retired,” repeated Sawyer flatly. Heyes was prone on his back, legs akimbo, booted feet protruding past the torn dress. He had removed the wig and hat. The hat was over his face to block out the sun and the wig was under his right hand. He started snoring. “Sorry sight, that,” he said quietly. “I used to think you two boys were pretty sharp. What happened? Did he have some sort of mental breakdown?” “Huh? Heyes? No, he’s OK.” The Kid saw the look on Sawyer’s face. “Really, like I said before he’s really having a bad day. Normally he’s only a little weird.” Curry looked at Heyes, disappointed he was asleep and hadn’t heard the last comment. “It doesn’t make any sense for you two to be ‘retired.’ You’re still wanted. If I took you in you’d still go to prison.” The Kid looked at Sawyer without any expression on his face. “Uh huh,” he said without any emotion. His eyes met Sawyer’s. “Unless…” Sawyer pondered. “Unless,” Curry repeated. “You’re only wanted in Wyoming, right?” “Uh huh.” “If you made a deal with the governor…like Billy Brewster…” “I didn’t say anything,” said the Kid. “Sure.” He sat back to ‘weigh’ this new information. Curry looked past him at Heyes. “Guess he’s had enough of a rest. Suppose we ought to get going.” “Suppose so. Well, he’s your partner, you’d better wake him. I don’t think he’d appreciate me doing that right now.”
“Yep, probably not.” The Kid paused. “Wanna flip a coin?” Sawyer laughed. “Nope. You’re too lucky with the coin toss. Look what happened to him.” The Kid stood and walked over to Heyes. He prodded him with his foot. Not getting a response the prod became a slight kick. Heyes snored louder. Kid kicked harder. That did the trick. “Ow. What the…why’d you kick me? You could have just tapped my shoulder or something.” “Sorry, Heyes. I’ll remember that for next time we’re in this situation.” Heyes got up grumbling something about ‘there ain’t going to be a next time, and if there were it’d be you instead of me,’ punctuated with a few choice adjectives. The Kid and Sawyer rolled their eyes. The Kid started off, and Sawyer followed. Heyes stared after them. He trudged after them kicking at the offending hem, muttering “whatever happened to ‘ladies first?’ The three men walked on the railroad tracks single file. Kid led, followed by Sawyer and Heyes trailed behind; hat on to protect himself from the sun, but the wig in his left hand looking something like a dead fox without the pointed nose. He didn’t want the wig, but figured if he discarded it that would be when they’d run into people, so he’d better keep it for now. Sawyer and the Kid were chatting to pass the time. The Kid wasn’t as witty as Heyes, and he didn’t talk books or politics, but Sawyer couldn’t remember the last time he’d met someone who knew so much about guns. This was an extremely interesting subject to the lawman. Heyes could hear snatches of their conversation as he lagged behind. “So have you seen that new Colt, Kid? It’s going to make that .45 you’re wearing obsolete.” “I wouldn’t be so sure, Wade, you see…” The Kid continued ‘prattling’ about guns. Unbelievable. Kid, Wade. They were now on a first name basis. Here he was trailing behind, barely able to breathe, gasping for air, and they were having a real good time talking weapons. And when they weren’t talking weapons, they were talking past robberies, and when they weren’t talking that, they were talking food. They were so occupied they had stopped looking back to see if he was anywhere near.
They reached a bridge spanning a gorge. Wade and the Kid began to cross. Heyes sighed and began to follow. He was still grumbling mentally to himself when he felt the track gently vibrate. He hadn’t even reached the halfway point when the vibrations increased. A train was on its way, and it was getting closer. The Kid and Wade realized this too and automatically quickened their pace. Heyes sped up as well, but being distracted by his discomfort and his anger, forgot about the torn hem, that is, until the dress got caught in the tracks. “Oh great.” He bent over and began to tug to loosen it. The Kid finally remembered that Heyes might be having some trouble walking across the bridge in that ‘get-up’. He turned and saw to his horror that Heyes was more than having trouble-he was stuck. “Heyes!” Wade Sawyer turned as well. He started working his way back. Heyes looked up. “Oh no,” he moaned, “please don’t try to help me. Not you. You’ll only make it worse.” He tugged harder on the dress. The track was shaking now. Wade reached him and sure enough, blocked his view by trying to help him pull on the hem. “I don’t need your help. I can’t see the damn thing. Let go.” “I can’t leave you like this.” Wade looked up. “I can see the smoke. It’s getting close.” “I don’t need you to tell me that. I can feel it coming.” Heyes and Sawyer both grabbed at the dress. It suddenly ripped, and Heyes’ hands snapped up hitting Sawyer square in the jaw. The lawman lost his balance. He wobbled precariously sideways on his right foot. Heyes looked in the man’s face. It was one of those moments where all motion seemed suspended and unreal. Sawyer couldn’t right himself, Heyes couldn’t grab him, and the Kid had reached Sawyer but wasn’t able to seize the man by his collar before he went over the side of the tracks. Sawyer flailed at the air and managed to clutch the track. Now he was hanging from the side. Heyes and the Kid grabbed his wrists and began to tug. “There isn’t enough time, drop me,” ordered Sawyer. “We’re not going to leave you,” Heyes snapped back. Now they could hear the train. The two men dragged Sawyer over the rail. They could see it.
“Run,” shouted the Kid as the train whistled a warning. The three sprinted on the tracks. This time Heyes remembered to lift the dress as he hurried. They reached the end of the bridge and dived to the sides as the train passed. The Kid and Sawyer rolled to the left. The men lay on the ground catching their breath. The Kid gazed up at the blue sky in relief and laughed. “We made it.” He rolled on his side. “Hey Wade, we made it.” Then he and Wade sat up and looked around. “Where’s Heyes?” asked the Kid. “Heyes!” he shouted. He dragged himself to Wade, and then stood turning in circles looking for his partner. Wade returned his look. “He was right behind me. I know he was.” “Well where is he? Was he behind you when we rolled over here?” “I don’t know. Like I said, I thought he was behind me.” Wade shielded his eyes and scanned the horizon. “Kid, I’m sorry. I don’t know.” The Kid dropped his arms. “Wade,” he said quietly, “he did make it, didn’t he?” The two men walked slowly to the rim of the gorge afraid of what they would find. “Can you see him?” Wade asked. “It’s a long drop…I…there’s lots of trees and stuff…I…there is something…” The Kid walked stiffly to the ledge and looked down. The drop to the river below was lined with sharp rocks, trees, and branches. On one branch something red hung limply. It was the wig. The Kid was in shock. He stared down. He blinked and took a second look. He looked up at the sky and around him and then down again. “Oh damn you Heyes,” he said softly, “why the hell weren’t you faster?” Wade rubbed one arm across his moist eyes. “He was right there behind me,” he repeated, “he must have tripped again.” They stood beside each other in quiet respect. Wade placed one hand on the Kid’s shoulder in a vague attempt to provide some comfort. After some few moments the Kid spoke. “I, oh, geez, all those things I said, the jokes about the dress and everything. I wish I hadn’t of said them now.” Wade squeezed the Kid’s shoulder gently. “You didn’t know this would happen. It’s true,
you were kinda hard on him, I mean your own partner and all, and he did make a big sacrifice wearing that dang outfit, and you certainly ribbed him about it.” Wade paused, realizing this was a bit harsh on his new friend, and tried to soften his words by adding, “I guess I was kinda hard on him too; ‘course he wasn’t my partner.” “Wade, you aren’t exactly making me feel any better.” “Sorry.” “Heyes was right. You apologize too much.” “Guess he was right about a lot of things.” The Kid rambled on, struggling for words, not really comprehending what had happened. He spoke in a daze the words that came to his mind. “Yep he was. He knew a lot and was real smart. He read a lot too. I guess he was sorta a genius. I didn’t like to tell him that, ‘cause he was already sort of big–headed, and I didn’t want to make him more prideful. Wish I had told him though, ‘cause it was true, well almost true.” “We, I mean we lawmen always respected him, Kid, if that’s any consolation. He was the best.” Wade gave the Kid another comforting squeeze on the shoulder. He had become fond of the Kid and figured that anyone the Kid liked must have been pretty good too. “He sure was.” “He could out-think us all. I remember back in Seventy-five, you know, when I first saw you two, boy, the way he planned that job in Cheyanne, there was no way anyone else coulda done it. He sure fooled us. For a crook, he was the tops.” Wade searched his mind for more words of comfort. “And everyone knew he had a silver-tongue, and could talk his way out of almost anything. That’s a real talent, being able to lie so well.” “Thanks Wade, he would appreciate you sayin’ that. But that’s only the half of it, Wade. You didn’t really get the chance to see him back at Devil’s Hole. The boys used to say he would never make a man do anything dangerous he wouldn’t do first himself. He always took care of the gang. If you had been one of us, you would’ve admired him the way we did. You saw how he stopped to save you. That’s how he was. He wouldn’t a let you hang there and just let you drop and gone on.” “That’s true. I suppose underneath it all he was a good man. I do remember that time he turned around for one of you boys who was hurt when our posse was chasing you. I guess I didn’t think much of it at the time ‘cept that we didn’t catch that fella. I shoulda realized then what he really was…” “When you two get done with all your remembering and eulogizing of me, not that I mind it, would you mind coming over here and helping me out of this.”
“Heyes!” The men turned towards the voice. It came from the other side of the tracks. “Heyes, you’re alive!” The Kid started over. “Where are you?” “Down here.” The Kid crossed the tracks with Wade running up behind him. As they neared they realized the ground sloped downward, and Heyes had hit bottom. Not only had he hit bottom, he was entangled in the brambles. “That’s sure another sorry sight,” observed Wade. “Yep,” answered Kid, and they walked down to free Heyes. “Boy, you sure get stuck in things a lot, don’t you,” said Wade. “Well, this isn’t exactly what I usually wear, you know.” He watched the Kid attempting to pick the dress out of the thorns. “Just tear it, Kid.” “Heyes, if I tear it, it’s gonna be kinda short.” Heyes closed his eyes and counted to ten. “I. Don’t. Care. Tear. It.” Curry and Sawyer ripped out the dress, and Heyes stood up. The Kid bent down and started tearing at it some more. “What the hell are you doing now, Kid?” “It’s not even, Heyes. It don’t look good.” Heyes glared. “He’s right, Heyes,” said Wade bending down to help Kid. “And you two think I’m a sorry sight? Let go,” and Heyes stalked off. Wade turned to the Kid. “Guess he doesn’t appreciate our help.” “Nope, guess he don’t.” The Kid watched Heyes walking on ahead. “He looks like he’s wearing a riding skirt now, or one of those things they say the men wear in, where is it, Scotland?”
“You mean a kilt. Yep, I think you’re right. It sorta does look like that.” Heyes rolled his eyes and wearily trudged on ignoring their ‘conversation.’
They finally reached the outskirts of Guffey by midmorning the next day. After some discussion it was decided that Wade and the Kid would go into town. They would retrieve Heyes’ and Curry’s luggage, purchase two horses, and some supplies. Wade would collaborate the Kid’s story that, after being left behind at the first stop, the Jones had decided not to resettle in Guffey. If anyone asked where Mrs. Jones was they would say they had left her in safety at the first stop after finding a nearby cabin. By afternoon the Kid returned. Heyes was finally able to remove the hated corset, change into his own clothes, and the two men could ride away from Guffey. “I guess we can be thankful that Wade isn’t turning us in,” observed Heyes. “I have to admit I was getting a little worried when it took you so long to return.” “It took awhile because one of the horses needed shoeing. As for turning us in, well, he sorta guessed about the amnesty deal when you were resting Heyes. But he did say he don’t want us anywhere near Guffey. He said if we ever returned to Guffey he would spill our secret.” “About the amnesty? Wade Sawyer said that? I don’t believe it. We saved his life. I can’t believe he’d do that to us.” “Not the deal about the amnesty, Heyes. He said if we ever returned to Guffey he’d tell everyone about you in the dress. That secret.” Curry spurred his horse. “What?! Of all the ungrateful, despicable, low-down dirty tricks a fellow could do…”
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