By Maz McCoy “Damn it if you don’t open this door Heyes, I’M KICKIN’ IT DOWN!

” an angry Kid Curry yelled at the top of his voice. “Kid sure sounds angry,” Kyle Murtry said, as he looked at the blond man standing in front of the leader’s cabin. Kid was covered in wet mud. Kyle scratched his head, as he sat on a boulder watching the man yell. “Yep, he sure does,” Lobo agreed. He scratched his...well it doesn’t really matter what he scratched. The main thing is, the two men were watching, as the mud covered Kid, paced up and down in front of the cabin, his face, what could be seen of it, red with rage. “What did Heyes do?” Kyle asked. He spat a gloop of tobacco juice into the bushes. “Don’t know, but it musta been somethin’ bad to get Kid all riled up like that,” Lobo said, knowledgeably. “I guess.” “DAMN IT! Will you answer me?” Kid yelled. He hammered on the door with his fist, leaving mud splatters on the wood as he did so. They heard a muffled voice from inside the cabin, but could not make out what was said. “WHAT?” snapped Kid. The door to the other cabin opened and Wheat Carlson walked out. He adjusted his hat, and then shot a glance at the leader’s cabin and the enraged man outside. Wheat ambled over to the two watching men. “What’s going on?” he asked. “Don’t rightly know, Wheat,” Kyle told him. “Heyes was workin’ on some plan down by the river. Then he came runnin’ back a few minutes ago. He was laughing hard. Then Kid comes chasin’ after him. Heyes has locked himself in and Kid is real angry about somethin’.” “Why’s Kid covered in mud?” Wheat asked. “Dunno Wheat,” Lobo told him. “COME OUT!” Kid yelled. “NO!” came the reply. “Not until you calm down.”


“I AM CALM!” the blond man yelled. “NO YOU’RE NOT!” “Heyes so help me, I’m kickin’ this door in and then I’M GONNA FLATTEN YA!” “You kick this door in and you’re repairing it!” Heyes called. Kid glared at the door. “Nice to have the boys back though,” Lobo said. “Yeah,” Kyle agreed and another gloop of tobacco juice went flying. “Ain’t the same without ‘em.” “Well it’s a darn sight quieter,” Wheat muttered and he headed over to the cabin. Kyle and Lobo decided it was safer not to follow him. “Everythin’ alright Kid?” Wheat asked. Two ice-blue eyes fixed on him from a mud covered face. “Does it look all right?” Kid asked. “Not really,” Wheat admitted. “He calmed down yet?” Heyes called from inside. “Don’t look like it, Heyes,” Wheat told him. “Wheat d’you want to be leader?” Kid asked, turning to face the man. Wheat looked confused. “If you want to be leader I’ll back ya,” Kid assured him. “Well Kid, I don’t rightly…I mean what about…I mean Heyes…” The cabin door opened. “What do you mean does he want to be leader?” Heyes demanded to know, disgusted with his partner. “Well you can’t run the gang if you’re gonna stay in there,” Kid told him. “I’m not stayin’ in there,” Heyes said, stepping out into the sunshine. At that moment Kid turned towards him, his fists balled and a satisfied smile on his mud covered face.


Heyes looked worried. “Kid…” he warned, holding up his hands in front of him. He stepped backwards. “Kid… don’t…” Kyle and Lobo cringed when the first punch landed.

By Lana Coombe "You going to be much longer, Heyes?" Kid Curry asked his partner, wearily, "only you've been fiddling with that lock for near to fifteen minutes now and ..." "I know! Shut up! I'm trying to concentrate here!" an irritated Hannibal Heyes replied. "I was just mentioning it, 'cos iffen we don't get in soon, we ain't going to have enough time to open the safe before the bank opens!" Kid sighed, leaning his shoulder against the wall, arms wrapped about his chest, as he continued to watch Heyes' nimble fingers probbing the lock with his pick. Heyes sat back on his heels, taking a break from the task. "I just don't understand it, Kid! I ain't ever come across a lock that I can't pick before," he commented,a perplexed look on his face. "Perhaps you're losing your touch!" replied Kid, amiably. "I mean, you are pushing thirty and ..." Heyes shot such an intense glare up at Kid that it stopped him in mid sentence. I was just trying to make conversation ... to pass the time ... while we wait ..." Another furious stare was directed his way. "Think you can do any better?" Heyes said, irritated by Kid's critically laced remarks. "Well, maybe," his partner replied languidly, a smirk playing on his lips. "Be my guest," was Heyes' response, as he stood up and moved away from the door. Kid eyed the door critically, took a step towards it and with on power laden move, put the heel of his boot just below the lock, landing a well aimed kick.


There was an almighty crack before the door flew open. Heyes looked on in wide eyed amazement. "After you," Kid gestured over dramatically to his partner. One more infuriated look came his way as Heyes entered the bank to set his slender fingers to work on the safe's dial. "Hope you can open it, Heyes, 'cos I'm not sure I could kick this one in!" Kid quipped.

By Ryann Thomas Hannibal Heyes leaned back in the chair, propping his feet up on the table and pushed the brim of his hat back with the barrel of his gun. He glanced at the watch he was holding in his hand and sighed. “Five minutes,” he stated calmly as he shook his head. “Do you have to keep tellin’ me the time Heyes,” Kid snapped. “I’m just doing my job Kid,” Heyes innocently replied, his eyes sparkling. Kid’s blue eyes narrowed as they glared at Heyes. “With all the jabberin’ how am I supposed to concentrate?” “Don’t know,” Heyes shrugged. “Never seemed to bother me.” “You’re enjoyin’ this,” Kid accused. “I’m not the one that suggested we switch jobs,” Heyes said, sitting up letting his feet fall to the floor. “You’re the one that said you could handle my job,” Heyes raised his voice as he stood up. “You’re the one that said let’s switch for the day,” Heyes pointed his finger at Kid. “You said all I had to do was get us into places. All I had to do was to sit there while YOU watched my back. YOU stood guard.” Heyes wanted to run his hand through his hair to show how irritated he was, but instead scowled as both hands were currently occupied. “Six minutes,” Heyes growled, plopping himself back in the chair. “Don’t have to go gettin’ all proddy Heyes,” Kid whined, turning back to the door. “Ya didn’t have to take me serious when I said it,” Kid mumbled under his breath hoping Heyes wouldn’t hear him but he did. With a satisfied grin on his face Heyes announced, “The Sheriffs gonna be makin’ his rounds soon.”


Kid closed his eyes, sighing to himself. If only he hadn’t been in such a fowl mood during the last job, if only he had kept his mouth shut. If only he hadn’t bet Heyes he could pick the lock on the door to get them in. He opened his eyes and with Heyes’ tools once again began trying to unlock the door. Heyes looked around the room. He had never been on this side. He had never stood guard while someone else did the work. He looked at his gun and began to twirl it. This isn’t so bad he thought. No stress at all. Doing nothin’ just waiting, and waiting for someone else to get them in. Just waiting and waiting for the Sheriff to come around on his rounds. Just sitting there waiting and waiting, for someone to come bursting in and maybe take a shot at him or Kid. Heyes sat up straighter in the chair. His eyes darted around the room, checking for any indication that they could be noticed from the outside. His eyes fell on Kid, who was still trying to pick the door lock. He rolled his eyes and sighed, he hated waiting. How could Kid sit there all the time and just wait. “Eight minutes,” Heyes said quietly. Kid continued to play with the lock. Heyes always made it look easy. He watched him; one pick here, the other there, a little twist and the doors always opened. Why wasn’t it working for him? Kid ran the back of his hand across his forehead, wiping the sweat that had begun to form. Concentrate, he told himself. Close the mind and ears off to everything but the lock. That’s what it always looked like Heyes did; he became one with the lock, one with the safe. Damn, he clenched his jaw; how could Heyes do this? “Nine minutes,” Heyes stated. “The Sheriff should be rounding the corner in less than a minute, what do you want to do Kid?” Kid’s head fell forward. He waited a second, sighing he stood up and faced Heyes. He held his hand out towards Heyes. “Open the door,” he said sounding dejected. “It’s about time.” Heyes stood up, holstered his gun and put the watch away. He accepted the tools from Kid, stepping towards the door just as they heard footsteps on the porch outside. Heyes inserted the picks and with one twist smiled. Opening the door he stepped back as Wheat, Kyle, Lobo and Hank rounded the corner. “Supper sure do smell good,” Kyle announced as they strode past Heyes and Kid. “Sure do,” Wheat replied. Heyes stood looking at Kid not saying a word. His smile reached ear to ear. Kid looked defiant for a moment and then shook his head. “Don’t know how you can stand the pressure Heyes?” Heyes chuckled, “Was thinking the same thing of you?” He smiled at his partner. “How about some food?”


“Sounds like a plan,” Kid replied taking a step inside before stopping. “Just one thing,” Heyes stopped and looked at him. “Why did you lock the door to the kitchen?” “Incentive,” Heyes acknowledged. Kid raised his eyebrow. “Kid there always has to be a reason. For me it’s the challenge of doing it. Proving I’m the best.” Kid stared at Heyes. Heyes shrugged, “Getting the money ain’t so bad either.” Kid smiled. “For you, I figured food was the best incentive.” Heyes patted Kid’s back, “Did you want to try this on a real job so the Sheriff really would be making rounds?” “Next time Heyes,” Kid said as he walked into the kitchen, “I’ll watch your back.” “Good,” Heyes sighed. “All that waiting around was killing me.” Kid chuckled as they grabbed plates of food and joined the boys.

By Shenango The tools sat on the table, well within reach. A series of long, thin metal probes, just waiting to be put to use. Looking them over, he took one in hand, then a second one. Receiving an approving nod, he proceeded to kneel down in front of the locked door. Glancing behind him at his partner, he proceeded to start manipulating the probes into the keyhole. "Heyes?" "Quiet, Kid, I need to concentrate here. You just keep watching to make sure nobody else comes in." As he looked behind him, he got a grin and a silent nod, urging him on. "Just wanted to remind you, we don't have much time before…" "I know," snapped Heyes, "You don't have to keep reminding me. Just keep an eye on things and let me know if anyone is coming. That's your part of the job, okay?" Another silent nod was the reply, then both partners turned back to their tasks. Heyes, who had been holding his breath, exhaled loudly, causing Kid to turn around. He was greeted with a big grin and got to see his partner turning the knob. "Heyes, if he finds out we've got these, we're both going to get a whipping." "Well what do you think he should expect, after trying to pawn us off as apprentices. I can't imagine you working for that gunsmith forever any more than I'd like to be working in that lock shop. Can you really see us there?" Kid shook his head. "So we're both


good students and I say we make off on our own. We've both learned skills to help us in life, just like they wanted us to, right? So, we just use the skills to our advantage. "If you say so, Heyes. I say let's go, we've been here too long already." Closing the door behind them, the two snuck around the side of the building. They had stashed their meager belongings together in a used carpetbag that had been either left behind or donated; neither or them was sure of its origin, but both were glad to have it. Using the cover of nighttime and the shadows from the trees in the courtyard, they ran crouched to the gate. Heyes pulled the two probes out of his pocket where he'd stashed them and went to work on another lock. Kid was ever alert for any sign of light, people or trouble. A muffled "click" had him turn around to see the gate swinging open slightly. "Remember that thing squeaks, Heyes, don't open it too wide." "Yeah, I remember," Heyes said as he sneaked through the gate. Kid handed him the carpet bag and followed him through, only to have the bag handed back to him. Heyes went back and closed the gate behind them and they started off down the road. "Where're we going, Heyes? You got that part figured out yet?" "No, Kid, can't say that I do. But we have to leave town before they start looking for us…" Kid turned his head and looked at him, "You mean IF they start looking for us, don't you?" "Uh, yeah, Kid, 'if" they start looking for us. Way I got it figured though, they got enough mouths to feed there so there won't be any rush to find us. It's not like the Valparaiso Home can send out a posse for two runaways." He grinned at the thought. Up ahead, they waited in the bushes near a train water stop, looking for an easier way to travel. A few hours before dawn, a train with no passenger cars and only a couple freight cars stopped for water. Having heard stories about what you needed to do to hop a train, they lay in wait until the cars were inspected and the man went back to the engine. As the train started to pull out, they made their move, running toward the one car with an open door. They hoisted themselves up one at a time, Curry first, with Heyes holding the carpetbag, then taking the bag and helping his partner inside. Once inside, they noticed a few crates at one end, near a couple bales of hay. Between the crates and the hay, they made a nice barricade to keep them out of sight from inspections and relaxed for some sleep. The slowing of the train and its whistle sounding signaled the arrival at another stop. Heyes rose and looked around before creeping to the door. Opening it slightly, he looked


to see why they were stopping and noticed they were pulling into a small town. Returning to his hiding place, he woke his traveling companion. "Hey, Kid, wake up. We're pulling into a town. I reckon we're far enough away from the home that we can get out here and figure out something." His sleepy companion sat dazed for a bit before moving to join him. "What'll we do now, Heyes? We don't have any money or," he paused, "anything. We need to get jobs or something." Heyes nodded. "But we need to get out of here first, before they find us." Cautiously, the pair slipped out of the freight car and started trying to sneak away before they were stopped. "Whoa there, boys. What do you think you're doing? This is a freight train, not for passengers. You want to get out of town here, you better find other means." The two teenagers looked at him, a combination of fright and surprise, not saying anything. The rail man looked at the bag they were holding, "Now I suggest you two get back on home to your families, you're not using my train to run away from home!" He glared at them sternly, "Go on now, git, before I call the sheriff on you!" Kid looked at Heyes, the surprise and the blushing on both their faces being misinterpreted as embarrassment for the wrong reason, before finding their voices again. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir." "We didn't mean no harm, mister, sorry." The two boys turned away and continued walking toward the town. After they turned a corner, they stopped, looked at each other and started laughing. "That was close, Heyes." "Yeah, it was. Let's go check out this town and see if we can grab us a couple jobs, some food and a place to sleep." Putting his arm around his partner's shoulder, they started down the street. "I wonder if there's a locksmith in this town. I have a feeling I could stand to learn a bit more to help us out. Maybe there's a gunsmith, too, and we can start out on our own a little better off than we would have been at the home." "Sure hope so, Heyes. But first, let's go see if they need any help at the diner over there – maybe we can work for breakfast." "Sounds like a start, Kid, sounds like a real good start."


By moonshadow Curry sat at the window, his Colt 45 in hand, occupying his usual place while Heyes was busy working on the combination. This time however, there was a frown accompanied by a troubled look on the young outlaw's face as he watched the last few townspeople close up their shops for the night; he gave a deep sigh. Heyes paused long enough to give his partner a quick look of concern before returning his full attention to his work. Within moments, there was a smile of satisfaction on his face as the first tumbler fell into place. Kid removed his feet from the window pane and leaned forward to get a better look outside. Using the gun in his hand, he pushed the curtain aside, then after making sure no one was was near enough to be of any real concern, he let the curtain fall back into place. Eyeing the weapon he held in his hand, Curry grimaced then placed it on table beside him, casting it a look of loathing as he laid his hand in his lap. This too did not pass unnoticed by the dark-haired man behind him, even though he never paused in his search for the right combination. He closed his eyes, deep in thought, listening for the familiar sound as he turned that dial. As the second tumbler clicked, signaling his success, Heyes rose and crossed the room to stand next to Curry; he placed a hand on his partner's shoulder. “It wasn't your fault- he drew on you first,” he stated the obvious. Curry remained silent. “He was asking for trouble- if you hadn't stopped him, there would have been more people burying their kinfolk tomorrow.” “And that's supposed to make it alright- to make me feel better?” Curry snapped, his words filled with bitterness and self-recrimination. “No, you're not a killer at heart, so when you use that gun of yours and someone dies, you're gonna have this feeling. You wouldn't be you if you didn't.” “I wouldn't be me...?” he repeated, “Hell, Heyes, I'm not sure who I am anymore!” Curry's frustration was obvious. There were all kinds of locked doors in the world, but none were so challenging to Hannibal Heyes as getting the right combination into his partner's thoughts. He had learned early on in his attempts to gain access, that the secret to unlocking that particular door was patience and understanding, along with knowing the right words to say and when to say them.


There was one major obstacle that Heyes had to contend with and that was that Curry kept changing the combination. This was neither deliberate nor intentional on the other man's part; it was just that the Kid was his own worst enemy when it came down to using his gun and the guilt that came along with it afterwards- even if it was justified. Just like what had happened yesterday. “You're that same little boy who stood there that day and vowed that you'd protect meboth of us- and that you'd never let anyone ever hurt us again.” Curry ducked his head. “Yeah, well maybe I was wrong- maybe I was just being stupid. Maybe there was another way-” “And maybe if you hadn't stepped in when you did, you'd be burying me, too- did that thought cross your mind yet?” “I keep tryin' to tell myself that...but so far, it's not working.” As Curry looked up into his partner's face, Heyes saw the vulnerability- the raw pain- along with the desperate need to understand in the other man's eyes. “Kid, that boy was like a stick of dynamite ready to explode and you just ended up being the one to stop him. From the very first moment he drew his gun and threatened mealong with everyone else at that table- you were forced to become a part of the picture, whether you wanted to or not. And then when he challenged you- you never stood a chance of talking him outta it. He never even gave you the opportunity to think; you just acted instinctively.” “My instincts didn't have to kill him,” Curry protested. “You didn't make that decision- he did. And because you took the chance- because you used that gun of yours- the people in that saloon are alive- including me.” Heyes paused to let his words soak in, then repeated, “Because of you,” emphasizing the last word and then he waited. Curry was silent as he mulled over everything Heyes had said. It made sense; Heyes was right. Even though he'd always have that feeling afterwards, he realized that there were going to be times when it was the right thing to do. He looked up and offered Heyes a smile. Heyes grinned as he watched his partner's face, the grin growing even broader as he heard that third and last tumbler drop into place. He'd found the right combination once again. The seasoned safe-cracker knew there'd be a next time though, and looked forward to the challenge. There wasn't a locked door of any kind that was safe from Hannibal Heyes!


By CD Roberts The room was empty. It waited for a new inmate. Very little light entered through its small high barred window, and not enough of a breeze to circulate the air. The room was tiny, plastered and painted with a whitewash that had grayed over time. The walls were pitted but clean. The ceiling had small holes in it as well, where the plaster had chipped and fallen. The room was dry and it was clean. When occupied, its floors were swept daily. The walls were washed and the floor mopped weekly by the inmate with lye and water. Since it was nearly always occupied it was scrubbed bare. If it had skin it would have been rubbed raw years ago. There was a metal cot with a thin mattress, a cotton sheet and a rough woolen blanket. The sheet and blanket were folded and tucked under the mattress with precise military corners. When an inmate was present they were changed weekly. The removed linens were washed in near boiling water using strong chemical ingredients that kept them clean to the point of sterility. Under the cot was the obligatory metal pan. The pan was emptied twice daily by the inmate into a bucket for removal, another task, another few moments of mindless physical labor. The floor, the walls, the bedding, and the slop pan were all the room could offer. The occupant was on his own the remainder of the time, left to his own thoughts and meager occupations. The room had witnessed pacing, boredom, some writing when allowed and if the inmate was literate, some shouting, and occasional pounding on its walls and door. If the room had thoughts, and if they were a reflection of its appearance, they could hardly have admitted to any imagination. No, the room was prosaic. It must have been prosaic. It simply existed and provided protection from the elements. It was a substandard living space. But it was a living space. The alternative to it was a smaller space, buried deep in the earth. An abode of an irreversible nature. Footfalls echoed the hallway and neared the room’s iron door. If the room had feelings, it must have experienced some small sense of anticipation, perhaps even pleasure. Keys jangled. The door opened and the new inmate shuffled in. One of the two guards bent down and removed the leg irons from the inmate. The inmate’s partner would not be occupying the adjacent vacant cell or any other vacant small room in the building. He was currently residing in the alternative space previously referred to above. The guard backed out of the room. The metal door swung shut and was locked.


Perfectly Safe By Calico “Heyes?” “Uh huh?” “Are you sure that door’s locked?” “Uh huh.” “Heyes!” “What?” “You’re not even lookin’ at the dang thing!” This statement by a jittery Kid Curry was true. Heyes, flat on his back, arms folded behind his head, had not moved a muscle. Not even one of those finely honed muscles where the column of his throat met the first swell of his firm chest, giving rise to a nook of sweet, sweet flesh crying out to be kissed. Nor even one of the long lithe muscles in his inner thigh, where the dusting of fine hair began to thic… Well you get the picture. “You’ve not even opened your eyes,” protested the jittery one. In the interests of fairness, your narrator would like to point out that Kid could not verify this second statement. For all he knew, Heyes was motionless yet squinting sideways at the allegedly locked door. Heyes’ eyes were obscured from his partner’s vision by the trademark black hat with silver trimmings. To be absolutely clear, Heyes’ entire face was covered by his trademark black hat with silver trimmings. The rest of Heyes was not covered. At all. By anything. Unless you count sweat. Which the narrator doesn’t. Count sweat that is. She does sweat. Well, as she is – coy look – a lady, let us rather say she glows. However, she does not count sweat as a covering? Why not? Well, for one very good reason. Sweat is transparent and so, whilst it formed a thin, shimmering layer over Heyes’ tanned skin, it did not obscure a single iota of his tautly muscled torso. Neither the smooth flanks, accentuated by Heyes having one knee slightly drawn up, foot flat against the golden-grained wood. Nor the lean hips … Well, again, you get the picture. The narrator has better things to do than describe nekkid ex-outlaws all day. Rewind. Strike that last sentence. That was just SILLY! The narrator does NOT have BETTER things to do than describe nekkid ex-outlaws all day. Unfortunately she does


have OTHER – less appealing - things to do. Dang it! Don’t her employers understand proper priorities?! Tchah!! Kid was not lying back at his ease. He sat upright. His face was NOT obscured. His hat – floppy, brown, preferred season two number – was in its correct position on the corn coloured curls. That would be about, what …? Four or five inches above the startlingly blue eyes. Startlingly blue eyes, which were fixed, warily, on the door. Mind you – why eyes being blue should startle anyone is a mystery to this Heyes’ girl. I mean, if his eyes were fuchsia or plum, now THAT would be startling. Blue is not out of the way. That is by the by. Kid’s eyes are, by fanfic tradition – startlingly blue. I have no quarrel with that. I’m still looking at the other fella anyhow! On with the plot, such as it is. A beat. Kid wriggled. “Heyes, are you SURE that door is locked.” “Kid,” Heyes said, tolerantly, “…I watched you lock it! Why you had to lock it… Why you had to embarrass me by askin’ for a key…is a mystery to me. But, I watched you lock it. I have faith in you Kid. I think locking a door is well within your capability.” A beat. “…Well, a simple wooden door like this anyhow. I wouldn’t like to leave you to your own devices in the vaults of Fort Worth.” Kid glowered at his partner. Then, nekkid except for the hat and – forgive me Kidettes – a strategically clutched towel, slipped down from the warm wooden seat and padded over to the door. He checked it. Locked. He padded back. “Satisfied?” asked Heyes. “No!” growled Kid. “I’ve not been satisfied since we arrived at this dang hotel! I certainly haven’t been satisfied since that Mizz Cally Coe, out on reception, asked us to test out this new-fangled stor.. smor…” Kid floundered. “Sauna,” supplied Heyes. “It’s the latest thing from Sweden. Just throw more water on the coals Kid an’ …” he demonstrated, “… breath deeply!” A bronzed chest rose and fell. And again. A bead of sweat traced a graceful path over the finely sculpted…Oh! Another rise and fall! Missed that one! Ah, well. Must press on. Nah… one more rise and fall. As the sweat bead coursed its way over the satin flesh … You know what, I reckon if you caught that sweat bead with your tongue, before it hit the pine bench – it’d taste real salty. What? Oh, okay. Once more unto the plot, dear friends.


“I feel kinda vulnerable sitting here – without a stitch on,” complained Kid. His sun kissed cheeks flushed. Gosh – he did look sweet. “You’ve got your hat! And – your gun! And a towel,” pointed out Heyes. “Towel!” protested Kid. A grumble, “…Face cloth more like!” Kid did have right on his side there. While delightfully soft and fluffy, the small piece of flannel Kid was clutching would only cover a small part of the blond gunslinger at a time. A hand, for instance. Or – most of a foot. “…You can’t sit and sweat into your clothes in a sauna,” soothed Heyes. He settled himself still more comfortably on the sweet smelling pine. “…Have a little finesse, Kid!” “The way Mizz Cally Coe was lookin’ at you, Heyes…AND me…” “Me most,” smugged Heyes. “…I reckon she knows who we are!” finished Kid. Another wriggle. Kid positioned his ‘towel’ more strategically. “She could be looking through the keyhole right now!” “If you’re worried about bein’ recognised, Kid,” said Heyes, with a sidelong glance at his partner’s modest efforts, “…I’d cover your face. It’s generally considered to be the area with the most distinguishin’ features.” Kid gave him another of ‘the looks’. Then, once again, he slid down to check the door. “Kid!” exploded Heyes. He sat up. The black hat moved to the back of the silky – and tousled – and silky – did I mention tousled - dark hair. The deep brown eyes… Well, they did whatever deep brown eyes do. “Mizz Cally is a respectable middle-aged lady! Do you really expect that sweet, grey-haired, English-accented woman has nothing better to do than trick men young enough – well nearly - to be her sons into stripping nekkid, so she can watch ‘em get all steamy and then take a dip in a cold plunge pool? Huh?” Kid hung his head. Put like that, it did sound unlikely. “…For Pete’s sake,” continued Heyes, aptly, “…get over yourself, Kid!” “Guess you’re right,” agreed Kid, reluctantly. “Sure I’m right,” confirmed Heyes. “…Besides, she told us she had the other ladies on the appreciation board comin’ round this afternoon. They’ll all be far too busy to think about us.”


“Yeah,” said Kid. A beat. “What do reckon these ladies appreciate, Heyes?” His partner stretched himself back out on the bench, on his front this time. His cheeks displayed an enchanting set of dimples. The cheeks of his face! Sheesh! Talk about reading things into the simplest sentence. Prone – and delightfully undulating – as he was, Heyes managed a shrug. “What do middle-aged ladies generally like? They probably get together to appreciate – patchwork, or tatting, or – or poetry.” “Yeah,” said Kid, again. He thought for a moment. He gradually relaxed. After all, the door WAS fastened tight. The blond ex-outlaw abandoned his ‘towel’ and, having thrown a little more water on the coals to make things steamier – stretched out his full length on the bench. He nestled his curly head on his arms and – drifted. Contented silence. Except - very, very faint from the other sound of the door - the sound of a dozen or so respectable ladies being very, very, very quiet. The sound of – was that lips being licked? The sound of – could that be a hairpin being inserted – oh so quietly – into a lock?


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