by Storm Richards
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were sitting at a poker table in Big Rock. They had just finished a job for Lom Trevors - escorting a mining executive and his wife. Since the wife was traveling with them, the partners decided to bring Laurie along. They thought the job was safe and she could help occupy the wife. Everything had worked as planned and now the three of them were on their way back to Small Falls and the relatively quiet
life they were trying to establish. Heyes and Kid headed to the saloon when they reached Big Rock; Laurie was at the hotel relaxing.
The night was going well. The partners found a couple of empty chairs at a poker table in the back of the saloon facing the front door. They hadn't been there long when Heyes looked up as a group of men walked into the
saloon and quickly shifted his body. Kid noticed the movement and looked towards the door. He, too, became uncomfortable.
"Well boys," Heyes said, standing up and gathering the money in front of him, "I think I'll call it a night."
"Yeah, I'm beat, I think I'll turn in," Kid added, following his partner. While keeping an eye on the front, they quietly walked to the back door of the saloon. As they emerged into the alley Kid asked, "Do you think he
"Don't know," Heyes said. "Spotted him as he walked in. Looks like most of the same guys are still with him."
"Did you see the Apache?" Kid asked as they walked quietly down the back alley.
"Not sure, maybe," Heyes responded, then added, "You get the horses, I'll get Laurie."
The two split directions at the end of the alley, Kid headed to the livery and Heyes towards the hotel.
Laurie’s bath was just filled and she was about to get undressed when Heyes burst into the room. As he closed the door behind him, he instructed, "Get everything, we gotta leave."
"Why?" Laurie said as she started to gather the bags.
"Jack Packer and his crew," Heyes said as he grabbed Kid's saddlebag.
"Did he spot you?" Laurie asked following Heyes to the door then turning, "My book!" She went back and grabbed the book on top of her pillow. As she hurried past the bath full of steaming water she let out a huge sigh.
"I told you this could happen if you were with us," he said as they hurried down the hall.
"I know," she said, sounding annoyed, "I just wish I had taken my bath earlier!"
Heyes turned and gave her a grin and a chuckle.
Kid was waiting for them in the back alley with the horses. "Lots of noise on the front street, I think they know we're here," Kid told Heyes as they mounted the horses.
"Then let's be quiet and get out the back," he replied. "Stay close Laurie."
The three rode out of town and soon after, looked back to see torches in the distance. "Looks like they're trying to pick up our trail," Kid said.
"Yeah," Heyes said anxiously, "If that Apache is still with them, you know they will. Let's go, we got to put distance between us and them." Heyes turned to look at Laurie, "You okay?"
"Told you I would be," she stated. “Wish I had been wearing pants, but I'm doing just fine."
"Good," he said. "I want to get to the top of the mountain before we stop. We can take shifts watching the torches. Kid do you want first or second watch?"
"I'll take first."
"I'm here too, I can watch too!" Laurie stated.
"We're experienced at this, you just rest," Heyes responded.
"How experienced do you have to be to watch torches approach? They're going to have to stop at some point to give their horses a rest. I can tell if they're moving or not. All you have to do it tell me at what point I should
wake you," Laurie said, sounding annoyed.
"She has a point Heyes, it's not like they'll be close. We just have to watch the torches. We'll all get more rest that way," Kid said.
"Alright. Kid you have the first watch, Laurie you take the second and I'll have the third," Heyes grumbled.
They made it to the top of the mountain and the torches appeared to stop at the base. Kid took the first watch then woke Laurie up two hours later for her turn. Heyes woke up at the sound of his partner’s voice, but
quietly lay there, not letting Laurie know he was awake. About a half hour into her watch, he stirred and got up. "Anything moving?"
"No," she responded, "Their fire is real faint, but being as dark and cloudy as it is, I don't think they would risk trying to come up the mountain without any light."
"Yeah, I think you're right," Heyes said, somewhat impressed by Laurie's thinking, "I'm awake so you can get some rest if you want."
"It's my watch, and I'm fine. You should go back to sleep," she said irritated.
"I'm awake…" Heyes started.
"Will the two of you shut up?" Kid said in a loud and disgusted sounding whisper. "I'm glad you're both awake, I would like to sleep for a little bit."
"Sorry," Laurie whispered. Heyes and Laurie sat quietly watching for almost an hour when Laurie noticed something in the valley. "Heyes, I think I can see something moving. I know it's still really dark but something looks
"I was thinking the same thing," he stated, staring into the darkness. "Kid," he gave his partner a little kick, "time to move."
"It's still pitch black," Kid mumbled, "Sun's not comin’ up soon."
"No, but something's going on down there, we better get moving," Heyes stated.
Kid rolled over and got up. The three mounted their horses and started off.
"We better stay single file ‘til we start getting some light." Heyes led, then Laurie and Kid pulled up the rear.
The top of the mountain was extremely rocky and treacherous so they took it slow in the dark. The night turned to morning and as the sun came up they quickened their pace. For the rest of the day, they crossed rivers and
tried everything they knew to throw the posse off their trail; nothing worked. The posse continued to follow pushing them and their horses.
Day turned to night and the three stopped again to rest. Heyes took the first watch, Laurie once again in the middle then Kid. As the sun began to peek over the horizon, they were back in their saddles trying to put distance
between themselves and the posse.
As Heyes changed directions, Kid yelled out, "Heyes do you know where we're headin’?"
"Yeah," he yelled back.
"Is it where I think?"
"That's the plan."
"Okay," Laurie complained, "enough of the private conversation, anyone want to tell me where we're headed?"
"Devil's Hole," Heyes replied.
"Think Wheat and the boys'll mind?" Kid asked.
"Don't have a choice, can't shake the posse. It's been two days and we've tried just about everything. Don't know how much longer the horses are going to last."
"Laurie?" Kid said quietly, looking at Heyes.
"She's with us. No choice," Heyes responded as they kept riding.
"Am I a problem?" Laurie said, over hearing the comments.
"Women aren't usually allowed, but this is different," Heyes responded.
Out of nowhere a shot rang out. It whizzed by Kid and Laurie yelled out as pain shot through her arm.
"Are you okay?" Heyes yelled.
"Just startled," Laurie replied as they urged their horses to move as fast as possible.
A couple more shots were fired in their direction. They rode fast and hard until they reached a steep slope in the mountain. Even with the best and freshest of horses, this slope would have to be taken slow allowing those
sitting at the top to take pot shots at those on the way down.
"Keep as low as you can," Heyes instructed. “We're about half day's ride to Devil's Hole. If we keep pushing, we can make it ahead of them."
Shots rang out as the three of them zig zagged down, trying to make it as difficult as possible for those up top to hit a moving target. As they reached the bottom, they pushed their horses to a gallop. A few minutes later,
Heyes began to slow.
"Heyes," Kid yelled out, "What's wrong?"
He didn't respond.
"Heyes!" Kid yelled louder.
"Keep going," Heyes responded as his horse continued to slow.
Kid pulled his horse up and Laurie fell in behind him "Heyes, you hurt?"
"Go, gotta keep moving," Heyes said sounding weak.
Kid quickly dismounted and went over to his partner. The closer he got, the more he noticed how bad he looked, and then he saw it. "Heyes, you've been hit!"
"Posse, keep going, they'll catch us," he said, trying not to show any pain or weakness.
"They'll be on the slope for a little while, we have a few minutes, let me check," Kid stated.
"No," Heyes responded.
Laurie had gotten down from her horse and was standing next to Kid, "Well," she said stepping towards Heyes and grabbing the back of the saddle, "If you're not coming down for us to look, I'll come up to check!" She
mounted the back of his horse. The blood had saturated the front of his shirt and was beginning to spread down the sleeve; Heyes had been hit in the shoulder. "No exit wound, bullet's still in there," she said looking down
"Posse's almost down, no time, can you bandage it?"
Laurie looked at the blood; Heyes was losing too much. She reached down and grabbed the bottom of her dress and pulled, ripping off a big long piece, and then repeated the process a few more times. Balling up one of
the pieces she said, "This is going to hurt, but I have to stop the bleeding." She pressed the cloth to the wound as hard as she could; Heyes gasped. Handing the strips of cloth to Kid she said, "Hand these to me one at a
time. Heyes, you still with us?"
“We have to move. Kid they down yet?"
"Almost. Laurie, we got to go. Heyes can you ride?" Kid asked.
Looking at Heyes, Kid asked, "Laurie, can you ride with him? Don't know if..."
"Yes," she said before Kid finished the sentence. Tying the bandages she said, "Done for now. Let's go."
"Too hard on the horse," Heyes mumbled.
"Laurie's lighter than me, it shouldn't be too much. We don't have far to go," Kid responded getting on his horse. "Laurie, I'll take your horse and up ahead, we'll split. You'll take Heyes to Devil's Hole. I'll try to lead the
posse away and meet you later." He looked behind him; the posse was just starting to hit the bottom of the slope. "Let's go!" he yelled and went straight to an all out gallop.
Laurie held on as best she could. Heyes was still somewhat alert but she could tell he was having trouble. She hoped they could make it to the hide out. He really needed attention and if he didn't get it soon, it wouldn't
matter if the posse caught them or not.
Kid yelled something at her but she couldn't hear, she looked at him and yelled "WHAT?" back.
"Two Forks is up ahead, I'll go to the right you go to the left; the rocks should help hide your trail. Keep ridin’ ‘til you get to a big rock. You can't miss it. Go around it, there is a small narrow path on the other side. That’s
the entrance; start down it then stop. Shoot three shots in the air and wait. They'll see Heyes and come and get you."
"Why three shots?" she asked.
"So they don't shoot you. You're announcin’ your intentions of enterin’. If you go without the three shots, they'll shoot. When you ride up the path, don't turn to look at the guard until he tells you," Kid yelled. They got to
Two Forks; Kid looked at Laurie, "Take care of him. Ride fast and safe. See you soon." He took off down the right side of the path taking her horse with him.
Laurie quickly went to the left. Kid was right; it was very rocky. Hopefully they wouldn’t leavea trail. She also hope she wouldn't have trouble finding the entrance to Devil's Hole. By now, Heyes was drifting in and out of
consciousness. As they continued forward and up a small hill, Laurie could see behind her. Most of the posse had followed Kid, but it looked like four riders were following her.
Heyes looked up, "The rock," he mumbled quietly. "The rock," he took a breath, "don't look," he said faintly and drifted off again.
The posse was riding fast and hard behind them, she could hear the thunder of the horses. She held tight to the reins and kept pushing Heyes’ horse as hard as she could. She couldn't believe it was holding up so well with
the weight of two riders. She knew she would have to take extra special care of Magic when they stopped. That is, after she took care of Heyes. He had lost a lot of blood and she wanted so desperately to check the
bandages she had quickly applied but with the posse so close, she couldn't take the chance. If she stopped and they got caught, Heyes would never forgive her, she would never forgive herself; Kid would never forgive her.
He risked his own life, being captured or killed so Laurie could get Heyes to safety. Most of the posse took off after Kid, but there were still four riders on Laurie's tail.
Up ahead she could see the rock Heyes had mentioned before he passed out. She quickly steered Magic around the rock and started down the narrow path. At the last second she remembered what Kid said, she pulled
Magic to a stop and using Heyes' gun, shot three times in the air. She waited for a moment and then went forward. As she came out of the narrow path and up a small hill she heard the sound of a gun being cocked, she
pulled her horse to a stop.
"Who goes there?" the voice said from behind her.
"I have Hannibal Heyes, he's been shot and needs attention," Laurie said.
"That posse after you?" the voice asked.
"Yes," she said. Then going against what Heyes and Kid told her, she tried turning around to face the voice, "Kyle, Wheat, is that you?" She had heard Heyes and Kid talk about them many times.
"Turn back around," the voice demanded.
"Look," Laurie said impatiently, "I've got to get Heyes off the horse and take care of him. If you're not going to help, I'm going forward to see if anyone else will. If you shoot me in the back, remember you're shooting a
lady and Heyes and Kid will not like that." Laurie slowly coaxed Magic forward into the compound of Devil's Hole. By now, most of the residents had heard the shots and came out to see who was arriving.
"Looky, it's a woman, and she's holdin' someone. Is that Heyes?" one of the men asked.
Laurie stopped Magic as the men started to gather around her. "I have Hannibal Heyes. He's been shot. I need help getting him down."
The men just stared at her; no one moved.
Laurie surveyed the group, "Kyle, Wheat, Lobo, Hank," she asked trying to remember any and all names Heyes and Kid talked about. "Anyone?" She waited half a second, when no one moved she yelled, "Fine!" took a
deep breath and leaned Heyes forward. With one hand on him, she quickly dismounted and then with a little tug she pulled him toward her. He leaned over and slid off the horse onto her as she fell to the ground breaking
The men stood around watching amazed that a woman would even try to take a man off a horse by herself.
Laurie was desperate by this time and knew Heyes couldn't last much longer without the proper attention, she hoped it wasn't already too late. She very carefully moved Heyes off her and onto his back. She looked around
and no one had moved. As she slowly started to stand up, she took Heyes' gun out of his holster and grabbed the gun of the closest outlaw out of his. Laurie pointed the guns at the men, "I have Hannibal Heyes here. He
has been shot and needs attention. I need him carried to the cabin."
"We ain't takin' no orders from no woman!" smirked one of the outlaws.
Laurie cocked both guns and seethed, "I am Hannibal Heyes' woman and if you don't help me NOW, you will not only have to answer to me, you'll answer to him when he is better and Kid Curry when he gets here. Now,
I said, I need you men to carefully pick him up and get him to the cabin."
Four men carefully stepped forward; "Are any of you Wheat, Kyle?" she started.
"I'm Kyle," said one helping pick up Heyes, "This here is Lobo and Hank. Wheat ain’t here." He paused, "where's Kid?"
"Wish I knew Kyle. He took most of the posse with him when he headed to the right after we passed Two Forks. I was to come here. He figured it was the closest safe place for Heyes." Laurie waited a second then
asked, "After we get Heyes in the cabin, could you send some men to see if he needs help?"
"Gee, don't know," Kyle hemmed and hawed, "Wheat ain't here; he's the one that gives the orders."
Going into the cabin they placed Heyes on the bed in the front room.
"Heyes and Kid always talked so highly of you and being your friend. Guess they were wrong," Laurie said quietly as she started to remove the bandages from Heyes' shoulder.
"Well, I guess I could send some of the boys to see what they can see," Kyle responded.
"Thank you. Now I'll need my saddlebag, some whiskey, water and anything I can use as a bandage. Start a fire before you go," Laurie instructed.
"It's awful hot fer a fire," Kyle replied.
"I need it to sterilize the knife, I've got to get the bullet out of his shoulder," Laurie said as she continued to remove the bandages and then Heyes' shirt.
"What's the whiskey for?" Lobo asked handing her a bottle.
Laurie raised the bottle to her lips and took a swig, "For my nerves to start with, then to clean the wound before I cut." Laurie took her hand and caressed Heyes' face for a moment and then got up to get supplies out of her
saddlebag. She took out a knife and placed it directly in the flames of the fire. She slowly turned it so that all sides of the blade turned red-hot and then held it until it cooled. She walked back to Heyes, "Kyle," she said, "I
need you to come hold him down. I don't think he's aware of anything, but I can't take the chance he'll start moving and make things worse. You must hold him completely still."
Kyle walked over and placed his hands on Heyes' good shoulder and chest, Hank moved over to hold his legs.
Laurie leaned over and removed the final bandage, the blood was flowing. She took the bottle of whiskey and poured it into the wound; Heyes moved slightly. Good, Laurie thought as she sighed, he's still enough with us
to feel that. "Hold him down, don't let him move," Laurie instructed as she placed the tip of the knife into the wound and dug down.
Heyes moaned and tried to move but Kyle and Hank kept him still. After a few minutes of digging, cutting and pouring water on the wound, Laurie finally extracted the bullet. She poured some water and then whiskey on
the opened wound to clean it; and then placed a clean cloth on the wound and pressed her palm down on it as hard as possible.
Handing the knife to lobo, who had been watching, she directed, "Get this red hot. I need to stop the bleeding."
Lobo did as she asked and handed the knife back to her.
"Hold him tight!" she yelled as she lifted the cloth and placed the knife blade directly on the wound sealing it.
Heyes screamed out.
Laurie handed the knife back to Lobo, "Again!" she demanded. She repeated the process until she was satisfied the wound was closed. Finally, Laurie said, "You can let go of his feet Hank. I need the salve from the
Laurie applied the salve, dressed the wound then picked up the bottle of whiskey and took a big long swig. She handed the bottle to Kyle and sat down.
Kyle took a swig and smiled, "Heyes sure do get the best women. Not only is she a looker, she doctored him up good and she drinks out of the bottle!"
They all laughed in relief.
About an hour later, the door of the cabin opened and someone walked in with Kid in tow. Kid pushed passed the man, "Laurie," he said as she stood up. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a hug. "How's he
"Holding his own," she said forcing a smile.
"Kid you should have seen her. Did he call you Laurie?" Kyle said looking at her; Laurie nodded. "Kid, Laurie here comes ridin' in. We heard the three shots, but it was a woman. She stopped for a secon' then jest kept
goin'. Then we seen Heyes was with her, but he don't look good. She rode right into camp tellin' Stucky to shoot her in the back cause she weren't gonna stop. She pulled Heyes off her horse right on top of her. We never
seen a woman do that before!"
Kid interrupted, "Laurie had to take Heyes off by herself, you didn't help?"
"We didn't know what to do," Kyle explained. "We didn't know what was goin' on. Then she stood up with Heyes' gun and she grabbed Lobo's and threatened us. She said she was Heyes' woman and we was gonna
answer to her and to Heyes when he got better and to you when you got here. So we helped."
"Smart move Kyle," Kid said sarcastically.
"How'd you get away from the posse?" Hank asked.
"Ran into Wheat and some of the boys. Since the posse was split and they were outnumbered, I think they thought it was better to back off."
"We showed them, didn't we!" Wheat laughed.
"Yeah Wheat," turning back to Heyes, "The bullet?"
"It's out," Laurie said quietly.
"You should'a seen her Kid, she done the whole thing herself. Ain't never seen nobody do it that quick before," Kyle said.
"She stopped the bleedin’ with a hot knife," Lobo interjected.
"Then she drank whiskey from the bottle!" Kyle gushed.
Kid put one arm around Laurie's shoulder and squeezed, she let out a small sound and sagged, as her knees got weak. Kid whipped his head around, "Laurie," he could feel his hand get moist as red shown through her
dress. "Your arm!"
"It’s just grazed, I’m okay, Heyes needed to be taken care of first," she said quietly.
"Let me look at it," Kid said.
Laurie stared at him and shook her head.
"We'll rip the sleeve; you don't have to take it off."
Laurie continued to stare, not moving.
"If I don't, Heyes will kill me when he wakes up, do you want that on your conscious?"
Laurie smiled and allowed Kid to check her arm. She had been grazed by a bullet; he cleaned it, dressed it and then they both took swigs from the whiskey bottle.
"She's my kind of woman!" Kyle exclaimed.
"Lay one hand on her and I'll kill you Kyle," Heyes said very weakly.
Laurie turned around and sat on the bed next to him. For the first time all day, Kyle noticed a tear running down her face as she smiled at him.
"Hey," Heyes said quietly as he reached up with his good hand to wipe the tear from Laurie's face.
"I'm just glad you're okay," Laurie explained.
"I'm fine," Heyes said, forcing a smile as he tried to adjust himself in bed.
"Stay still," Kid scolded as he came over to stand next to Laurie, "You have a big hole in your shoulder."
"Oh," Heyes said still trying to force a smile, "That's what hurts." Noticing Laurie's bandaged arm, "You're hurt."
"I was grazed, it's nothing," Laurie said calmly.
"You were shot!" Heyes exclaimed. "I told you it wasn't safe to be with us."
"I was grazed. They were shooting at Kid, not me! It barely bled. I'm okay. Kid just wanted to make sure, so he put a bandage on it," Laurie said angrily.
"How do you know they were shooting at Kid?" Heyes' voice strained to get louder.
"It was the first or second shot, Kid moved and it grazed me. That's how I know! Why would they be shooting at me anyway?" Laurie yelled.
"They may not have known who it was; maybe they thought you were me or the Kid."
"I'm wearing a dress! Unless there is something I don't knowit’s kind of hard to confuse us!" Laurie stated as she started to become very agitated. "If I hadn't been there, you probably would be dead and Kid would be in
jail or dead right along with you!"
"How do you figure that?" Heyes asked glaring at Laurie.
"Because if I wasn't there, you would have had to ride with Kid. The horse wouldn't have been as fast and there wouldn't have been anyone to lead the posse away." Laurie yelled, "That's how I figure it!" She abruptly
stood up, turned and stormed out the cabin door.
"What just happened?" Heyes yelled at Kid.
"I think that instead of sayin’ thank you to Laurie for savin’ your life, you decided to yell at her," Kid stated.
"Yeah, the great Hannibal Heyes probably just made the woman who saved his life cry," Wheat said sarcastically, "Feelin’ good about yourself?"
"Jeez, Heyes," Kyle said quietly, "You really did treat her bad."
"My head is spinning, Kid, what ‘s going on?" Heyes asked sounding very confused.
"Don't you remember what happened?" Kid asked.
"I remember sitting in the saloon when we saw Jack Packer come in. I got Laurie. You got the horses. We got out of town and they were following us, two days I think. Then out of nowhere we were being shot at. I
remember going down the slope and turning to see if they were following. I had a burning fire in my shoulder. Then we stopped, I'm not sure where and you got up on Magic and checked. Laurie was saying something, I
remember the rock," Heyes spoke trying to put the pieces together in his clouded mind, then realized, "We're in Devil's Hole."
"That's right Heyes, were in Devil's Hole," Kid stated. "Thing is, I didn't check your wound, and I didn't get you here."
"Laurie?" Heyes asked sheepishly.
"Yeah," Kid replied, "You weren't bein’ cooperative, and so she climbed up on Magic and took a look. She ripped her dress for bandages, bandaged you up and stayed with you so you wouldn't fall off."
"Kid, where'd you go?" Heyes questioned.
"We split at Two Forks; I hoped the posse would follow me and Laurie's horse. I told her to bring you here."
"Did they?" Heyes asked.
"Most, but four followed her," Kid told Heyes. "She had to ride fast and hard to beat them here. All while tryin’ to find a place she's never been and keep you on the horse."
"She did?" Heyes said sounding guilty.
"She did, then no one would help her get you off Magic, so she did it herself and had to threaten them with yours and Lobo's gun." Kid kept talking, "They got you in here, she took the bullet out of your shoulder, cauterized
the wound and then you yelled at her."
"I did," Heyes said meekly.
"She drank whiskey out of the bottle too Heyes," Kyle announced.
"She did," Heyes said surprised raising an eyebrow.
"And all you could do is yell at her and tell her how she shouldn't be with you," Wheat interjected. "Don't know why she'd want to be your woman!"
"Kid," Heyes said looking at his partner.
"On my way," Kid replied patting Heyes' good shoulder.
Laurie stormed out of the cabin right into a group of men gathered outside. She quickly turned to the right and kept walking. She was so upset with Heyes and with the way she acted. She needed to get as far away from
him and everyone else as she could. She wasn't going to let them see her break down and she knew any minute she could lose it. She walked down the embankment and ended up on the side of a pond.
Normally she would marvel in the beauty of it, but right now her mind was reeling and all she could do was close her eyes and try to collect herself. She plopped herself down on a log and tried to fight the tears building in
her eyes. Couldn't he see what she had done? All he could do was yell at her. She had done her best, she wasn't whining or crying. She took care of him and bandaged him up, why couldn't he see that. Laurie sat on the
log for what seemed an eternity tossing rocks into the lake but in reality it was only about five minutes
Kid came up behind her and sat down on the log next to her. "You okay?" he asked.
"Fine," Laurie said curtly as she continued to toss rocks into the pond.
"You plannin’ on fillin’ the pond with rocks?" Kid asked trying to get a reaction from Laurie.
"Do you want to change out of those clothes?" Kid asked with compassion in his voice.
"I'm fine," she barked, still being short and curt with her answers.
"Are you sure?" Kid said looking at her.
"I'm fine. Why do you keep asking?" Laurie said sounding very annoyed as she turned to look at him
"I just thought," Kid started quietly, "that you might want to get changed into something that wasn't ripped and covered in blood."
Laurie looked down at her dress. She hadn't even thought of the way she looked! The bottom of the dress was uneven where she tore it to make bandages. One sleeve was missing and the top was covered in blood,
Heyes' blood. Laurie took a deep breath and closed her eyes trying desperately to hold the tears back; she was covered in Heyes' blood.
Kid put his arm around her and pulled her close.
She put her head on his chest and quietly cried. After a few minutes, she took another deep breath and gathered herself. "I'm okay. I didn't mean to cry, I'm just tired. I'm okay," she repeated as she sat up and wiped her
"It's okay to cry. You were strong for Heyes when it mattered. You didn't let him see how upset you were. That's all that matters. You can cry. I have when I'm worried about him but never let him see it," Kid said with
such compassion in his voice.
Laurie looked at him and gave a slight nod and then she forced a giggle as she looked at her reflection in the pond. Not only was the bottom of her dress a mess, her arm was bandaged and her hair looked like she had
been in a tornado, what a sight! She let out a quiet laugh. "Aren't I a sight? I guess I should get cleaned up," she said, "Then I'll clean up Magic and be on my way."
"What!" Kid exclaimed.
"I'll be on my way. I know women aren't allowed in Devil's Hole. I'll get cleaned up so I can ride into town. If I take it slow, Magic should be fine. You stay with Heyes until he's better. I'll make it back to Small Falls and
you can send a telegram letting me know where you'll be," Laurie said stoically.
"You can't leave."
"Yes I can, and I'm going to," she said adamantly.
"No, you can't…" Kid started.
"Yes, I can, he doesn't need me here. He doesn't want me here. You're here to take care of him, women aren't allowed. I know when I'm not welcome, I'm leaving," Laurie argued.
"If you would let me finish," Kid said raising his voice, "You can't leave because we don't know where the posse is. They could be sittin’ out there waitin’ for someone to come along. We can't take that chance."
"Oh," she said quietly trying to figure out what she was going to do now. "Okay, then I'll wait until we know what happened to the posse, then I'll leave."
"I don't think Heyes wants you to leave," Kid said calmly. "He got upset when he saw your arm. He doesn't want anythin’ to happen to you. That's why he yelled."
Laurie closed her eyes tightly, for the first time since all of this had happened; she started to think of exactly what had happened. Up until now, it was about survival and then it was about Heyes. Now for the first time, it
was about her. A tear slowly rolled down her face. "Kid," Laurie said quietly, "I just want to take care of him and he just pushes me away. I don't know what to do."
"I know, it's his way of dealin’," Kid said quietly as he put his arm around her, "How about if you get changed and go see him."
"Do you think he'll want to see me?"
"I know he wants to see you."
Kid retrieved Laurie's saddlebag from the cabin and cleared everyone out of one of the bunkhouses so she could change. She changed andhe was waiting for her when she emerged from the bunkhouse.
"Thought I could escort you," he said with a smile.
Laurie smiled back at him and they walked along silently towards the cabin. The men that had been gathered outside were still milling around, just not as closely. They tried to look as though they were busy as they watched
Kid walk Laurie over to the cabin. Kid opened the door for Laurie and she walked in. Still standing in the doorway, Kid nodded at Wheat and Kyle to leave. Laurie smiled at the men as they left. Heyes was sleeping
again so she went to sit by the side of the bed.
"I'm gonna rustle us up some food. He should eat somethin’ when he wakes up. If you need anythin’, I'll have Kyle on the door. He'll come and get me."
Laurie smiled at Kid and nodded as he closed the door and left.
The sound of the door closing woke Heyes up. As his eyelids started to close again he spotted Laurie sitting in the chair. "You're back," he said quietly and tried to smile.
Laurie nodded and forced a smile. The day's events, the last three days events and lack of sleep were creeping up on her. She was trying not to allow it all to come crashing down on her. The less she talked for the
moment the better she thought.
"I'm sorry," Heyes said quietly as he lifted his hand to touch her face.
She placed her hand on his and held it to her face as she closed her eyes. Talking in a deep breath, she calmed herself then opened her eyes and smiled, "I know, I'm sorry too. Now rest, you need sleep to get your strength
"I'm okay," Heyes forced out.
"We're not starting this again."
"Okay," Heyes replied managing a grin. "You changed."
"Yes, Kid told me that I really needed to."
"He did?" Heyes said lifting an eyebrow. "Did he also tell you to wear pants?"
"No," Laurie answered, "I thought that is was more appropriate here and anyway, my track record wearing dresses when you're around isn't very good." Laurie smiled and giggled slightly.
Heyes chuckled then moaned, as he moved, "No, I guess it isn't." He reached up and gently touched Laurie's arm; a pained expression came over his face. "I'm sorry."
"No. You can be sorry for yelling at me, you can't be sorry for anything else!" She said sternly, stiffening her body. "I knew what I got into when I fell in love with you, all of it. You will not be sorry for anything but yelling at
me. If I have to deal with you being shot you will have to be able to handle this."
Heyes nodded his head ever so slightly. He knew how hard it must be for her, to live with the fact that at any time he could be captured or killed. He and Kid had lived with the prices on their heads, but it was their own
doing. Laurie was innocent in all of this, yet she had to be strong and live with the fear of them never coming back to her every time they walked out the front door. True to her word, she never complained, cried, or
whined about it.
The door to the cabin opened and Kid walked in carrying a tray. "Took a while," he said, "but I found us some food." He looked at Heyes, "You're awake. How do ya feel?"
"Like I've been shot," he said flippantly then seeing the pained looked on Laurie's face added, "I'm fine, just a little tired." He reached his good arm over and grabbed Laurie's hand and gave it a little squeeze. "How the
boys handling Laurie being here?"
"They don't know what to think except, Kyle," Kid said, setting the tray down on the table.
"Kyle?" Heyes repeated.
"Kyle," Kid replied. "Think he's in love with Laurie. Don't know, somethin’ about her takin’ charge and then drinkin' whiskey out of the bottle."
Turning to Laurie, Heyes remarked, "You drank whiskey out of the bottle."
"Nerves," Laurie said with a smile then added, "I thought the bottle would be cleaner than any glass I could find anyway.
Heyes chuckled then moaned again as he moved.
Kid laughed and stated, "Smart woman you got Heyes, real smart."
"Don't I know it," Heyes said with a smile as he pulled Laurie's hand over to give it a kiss.
Laurie stood up and propped Heyes up as Kid brought over a plate of food. He ate some food but was fading quickly.
"Heyes," Laurie said, putting his plate down, "You lost a lot of blood, you need to rest."
"I'm fine," Heyes said, trying to keep his eyes open.
"Heyes…" Kid started, but was interrupted by Laurie.
"You're not fine," Laurie said sternly as she stood up. "You're going to rest now. Kid can handle anything that needs to be handled. You're in Devil's Hole; nothing is going to happen while you sleep."
Heyes finally gave up the battle and drifted off to sleep.
Kid fixed a bed for Laurie in the side room and one in the back room of the cabin for himself. Then he went to the bunkhouse to play some poker with boys and gauge the boys' reaction to Heyes, Laurie and himself being
there, especially the reaction to Laurie being there. Hank and Lobo reported seeing campfires in the valley around the area. They said they had seen the two posses join together and continue looking for the pair.
Laurie and Heyes were both asleep when Kid got back to the cabin. Laurie was sitting on the floor next to Heyes with her head leaning on the bed touching his good shoulder and her arm resting on his chest. Kid grabbed
a blanket from the back room and placed it on her. He put another log on the fire to make sure the room would stay warm and then turned in for the night.
As usual, Laurie was awake first and was going to make coffee; both Heyes and Kid were still asleep as she quietly left the cabin to retrieve the water. The sun was just peeking up over the hills as she walked outside. She
didn't see the man standing in the shadows watching her as she walked over to the pump. She filled the pot first and then took some water in her hands and rubbed her face. She quietly turned and returned to the cabin as
the eyes watched her.
Heyes was sitting on the bed with his feet on the floor when she walked back in. "Was going to come look for you," he said weakly.
"Oh that would have been a sight, you probably would have passed out before you got to the door," Laurie chuckled as she rolled her eyes. "I only went to get water for coffee. I couldn't have been gone more than a few
"I was worried," Heyes replied, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes.
She put the water on the table and walked over and sat down next to him. "Hannibal Heyes, I can take care of myself," she said looking at him.
"I know, but it's different here," Heyes tried to explain. "These are real outlaws."
"Unlike fake ones, like you and Kid," Laurie said sarcastically as she interrupted him and smiled.
Heyes took a breath and paused, then gave Laurie a faint smile, "Unlike fake ones like Kid and me," he replied then took her hands in his and continued. "I am being serious. There are guys here that weren't here when Kid
and I were. I don't know how they will react to us being here, let alone you. I know things must have been bad for Kid to take the chance and send you by yourself."
"It was, the posse was right on top of us, I don't know how or when they caught up, but they were right there and we couldn't shake them. And then there was you," Laurie said quietly. "We knew it was bad, the bullet
hadn't gone through and you were losing so much blood. Kid knew you needed help fast. He also knew if we stayed together, we probably wouldn't make it. He figured Jack Packer would let you bleed out. He, we
couldn't take the chance so he decided to split and try to take the posse with him. Most followed him. I guess they figured they could catch up with a woman faster than getting Kid Curry. It slowed them enough for me to
make it here."
Heyes placed his hand on Laurie's cheek. "Guess they figured wrong huh?" he said with a smile. "Thank you for everything you did," he said quietly, then kissed her gently on the lips.
Laurie forced a smile and nodded her head. Not wanting to think about yesterday's events anymore, she stood up, "Well, I better make the coffee and start breakfast, Kid will be stirring shortly."
Heyes started to stand up.
She put her hand on his good shoulder, "I don't think so. Rest, you lost a lot of blood and you're too heavy for me to pick up when you pass out!"
He sat back down and nodded in agreement as he slowly lay down. He didn't want Laurie to know that he was still very weak and the room was spinning.
As breakfast was just about ready, Kid rolled over and yelled from his room, "That smells so good. Laurie, have I told you I love you."
"I'm awake Kid, and I can still shoot you if you try anything," Heyes yelled back.
"Oh Heyes, Kid will tell anyone he loves them if there is food involved," Laurie said with a laugh.
Heyes and Kid joined in.
"She has you figured out Kid," Heyes chuckled.
"What can I say, I'm guilty!" Kid said in defense, "It smells so good and it's not your cookin' or coffee, Heyes!"
They all laughed a little more.
Kid came out of the back room and walked over to Heyes, "How ya doin’?"
"Fine," Heyes replied.
"Fine, always fine," Kid almost yelled, "Will you ever tell the truth, I hurt, I feel awful, anythin’ but fine!"
"I'm fine," Heyes replied.
Kid just glared at him.
"Okay, I've felt better, but considering, I feel fine!" Heyes said raising his voice.
"You don't have to yell," Kid yelled back.
Laurie turned around and looked at both of them, "You can both stop yelling. Kid come sit and have breakfast, Heyes I'll bring you a plate."
There was a knock at the door. Kid opened it and Wheat and Kyle walked into the cabin. "Mmmm. Somethin' sure smells gooooood!" Kyle said enthusiastically.
"I made plenty, why don't you sit down and have some breakfast," Laurie said.
"But," Kid started to protest.
"Jed, did they help us out?" Laurie asked using his real name, which she only did when she was mad at him and talking to him like a little boy. "Did they tell us we couldn't stay yesterday?"
Kid shook his head no as Laurie continue, "So I think we can share some breakfast with them. I'll make more. Now eat before it gets cold. Kyle, Wheat, help yourselves."
As the boys ate at the table, Laurie took a plate over to Heyes. With a little of his help, Laurie was able to prop some pillows behind him. She sat down in the chair next to the bed and started to feed him.
"I can do this myself, you don't have to feed me," Heyes argued.
"Let me help you."
"I don't need help," Heyes said almost yelling.
"Fine," Laurie stood up, placed the plate on the bed and turned to walk to the side room. "If you want to wear your breakfast, you're more than welcome to do it yourself Hannibal Heyes."
"I'm sorry," Heyes, said before Laurie took her second step, "I'm sorry, I just..."
"I know it's not easy for you to accept help," she said as she sat down and picked up the plate. "Don't forget, you took care of me for a long time, it's my turn to repay you. I know you can do this; it's just that you don't
have to. I want to help."
Heyes nodded and gave Laurie a small smile.
When he was done eating she said, "Well, I think I'll get cleaned up. I'm sure you boys have things to discuss." She leaned over and gave Heyes a kiss on the head and then went into the side room.
When the door closed behind her, Kid asked, "What's the word?"
"The posse is still hangin’ around. The boys spotted ‘em this mornin’," Wheat replied.
"They’re not gonna leave anytime soon," Kid stated. "Guess we'll be stayin’ a while."
"Don't think that's a great idea," Heyes said from his bed.
"Why?" Kid questioned.
"Laurie," Heyes responded.
"She won't complain. She knows you need to get your strength back before we chance leavin’." Kid stood up and walked over to the side of the bed followed by Wheat and Kyle. They grabbed chairs and sat down.
"It's not that," Heyes said then turning to Kyle and Wheat. "How many new boys you got here?"
"New boys?" Wheat repeated not really understanding what Heyes was asking.
"How many weren't here when Kid and I were here?" Heyes said, clarifying his question.
"Oh, we got ‘bout eight," Kyle responded puffing out his chest.
"Eight guys that weren't here when we were here," Heyes replied. "That's eight guys that might not be too happy that we're here. Might not like us here. And might like it even less that Laurie is here."
"Heyes there's still enough guys loyal to ya to watch out for Laurie. No one will bother her as long as Kyle Murtry is here," Kyle stated with pride.
"Thanks Kyle," Heyes said with a smile.
"Heyes, Kyle is right," Kid said. "Even if we just have the four of us, Laurie will be fine. Right Wheat?"
"Well Kid," Wheat started.
"Wheat," Kid said glaring at him.
"I was just gonna say that Heyes has a point. That's all. I heard rumblin’s that some of the boys ain’t exactly happy there’s a lady here," Wheat stated. "I didn't say I agreed, I'm just sayin’ Heyes has a point."
"Wheat," Kyle said in amazement, "I don't think I've ever heard you agree with Heyes!"
"Jeez," Heyes said running his hand through his hair.
Kid, Wheat and Kyle stared at him.
"It's just I was thinking about it, but wasn't really sure it was a problem. Now Wheat agrees with me, I think we might want to take our chances with the posse."
"Heyes," Kid said, "You couldn't out run a normal posse right now and you certainly can't out run a Jack Packer posse. Do you really want Laurie to go through that again? All because Wheat agreed with you?"
"Maybe we should get her out of here," Heyes said even though he knew it wasn't a possibility. Laurie was at Devil's Hole until Heyes and Kid left.
"How? If she goes alone they’ll grab her. Then what?" Kid asked Heyes. "You gonna sit here while they have her? Who knows what they would do to try to draw us out."
"I know Kid," Heyes snapped, "I just don't like it that's all."
"Heyes," Kyle said trying to help, "I promise t’ watch Laurie. I won't let nothin' happen t’ her. I know none of us that rode with ya would do nothin’. She'll be safe."
"Thanks Kyle," Heyes said turning to his loyal friend, "I appreciate your help. Since we really don't have a choice, I'm counting on one of the three of you to be with Laurie any time she is out of the cabin. She goes
"Nowhere?" Wheat asked tilting his head.
"Nowhere!" Heyes reiterated, "You don't have to be on top of her, but you have to be aware of where she is and who's around her."
"Heyes," Kid said drawing out the name and shaking his head, "she's not going to like this."
"She doesn't have to like it," Heyes said tersely. "She just has to deal with it. If she doesn't like it she can stay in the cabin."
"Okay," Kid said still shaking his head. "I think I'll be tendin' to the horses when you tell her."
"You got my help," Kyle announced. "I'll be more than happy t’ stay with Laurie wherever she goes."
"Kyle," Heyes said, "Laurie is my wife. I expect you to respect that, and respect her."
"Your wife!" Kyle and Wheat exclaimed as Laurie opened the door from the side room.
"You and Laurie are married? When?" Wheat asked.
"Three months ago," Heyes responded as he watched Laurie walk into the room.
Kyle got up and ran over to greet her. He put his arms out and with a huge smile on his face asked, "Can I give the bride a kiss?"
Laurie smiled and giggled, "Yes."
Kyle turned to Heyes, "It okay Heyes, can I?"
"Yes Kyle, but remember, I still have one good arm I can shoot you with," he said jokingly.
"No need fer that," Kyle said, "I just want to congratulate Mrs. Heyes." He smiled, leaned in and gave Laurie a soft peck on the cheek. With a huge smile on his face, Kyle turned back to Heyes, and tugged on the front of
his pants, "Heyes you sure are lucky and I will do my part in keepin' your wife safe."
Both Heyes and Kid closed their eyes waiting for Laurie to respond to Kyle's comments. When there was no immediate response, their eyes slowly opened; one eye and then the other. Laurie was still standing where she
had been, with no expression on her face. Heyes looked at Kid and Kid gave an ever so slight shrug of his shoulder.
She walked over to the bed, seeing the two looking at each other, she announced, "I heard what Kyle said. Don't worry; I will do whatever the two of you want while we are here."
Heyes smiled, "Good, you go nowhere without Kid, Kyle, Wheat or myself; understand."
"I understand," Laurie said, as she stopped next to Kid and put her hand on his shoulder, "I don't think it's necessary but I don't want to argue. You need your strength. Anyway, where am I going to want to go here
anyway? I'll be in the cabin taking care of you." Turning to look at Kyle, Wheat and Kid, Laurie continued, "Speaking of which, Heyes needs to get some rest, so if you boys can leave him alone, I would appreciate it."
"I'm fine…" Heyes started.
"If I have to have someone with me at all times," Laurie interrupted, "then you can make me happy and get some rest. Later Kid can help you into the side bedroom so that everyone doesn't have to leave the cabin for you
to rest and you can have some privacy. Boys, before you go, get me some warm water, and clean bandages, I have to check the wound and change the dressing."
"I can do that," Kid stated.
"It's okay,"she said. "I can do it. I need to do something so I don't feel so useless. I mean having three body guards is a bit much."
"It's four!" Heyes corrected. "And no it's not too much. You're dealing with outlaws!"
"Heyes," Wheat said sounding hurt, "I take offense to that!"
"Not you Wheat!" Heyes said sounding annoyed. "The new guys that don't know me or Kid. They may want to prove something and might use Laurie to do it."
"No sir-re," Kyle stated, sounding protective of Laurie. "I promise, I'll take care of Laurie and I'll tell the others that knows ya t’ do the same." He hitched his thumbs in his pants.
"Thanks Kyle," Heyes said sounding tired.
"Thank you Kyle," Laurie said and gave him a peck on the cheek.
"Now, if you could get me the water, I'll change the bandage and Heyes can get some rest."
Kid brought over the water and placed it down on the small night table next to the bed.
Wheat retrieved the bandages and salve. "You sure you don't need help?" Kid asked.
"Positive," she said. "Go, I'll be fine."
The three men left the cabin and Laurie sat down to take the old bandage off the wound. "This might hurt a little," she said as she started to remove the bandage. "I'm going to soak it with some warm water to help it come
off. Let me know if it hurts."
Heyes nodded and Laurie began. As she got to the last part of the bandage she said, "Well, it looks okay. There was a little more bleeding but not too much. It is very raw but I have to clean it. Do you want a shot of
whiskey before I start?"
"No," he replied, "I'll be fine." He looked at her and wondered how many other women there were, that could do what she did, but also do it and not complain about it. He knew he was lucky to have two people in his life
that would take care of him.
"If you're sure," Laurie hesitated, "here goes." She gently put some water on a clean bandage and started to lightly dab the area and then poured the water directly on it, to flush the wound.
Heyes closed his eyes, gritted his teeth and took a deep breath but never made a sound.
"Well, I think that is enough for right now. I should flush it again later, but it's looking pretty good. I'm going to pat it dry, put the salve on and then bandage you up. You okay?"
Heyes opened his eyes and smiled at her, "Fine," he forced out.
Laurie gave a tight smile back.
She bandaged Heyes and let her hand linger right below the wound. As she started to stand up, she leaned down and kissed him gently on the lips, "You're exhausted, rest. I'm going to clean the dishes from breakfast." As
she walked away she continued, "If I am making too much noise, tell me and I'll do it when you wake up." Getting no response from Heyes, she turned around to see him already asleep. A small smile appeared on her face
as she looked at how peaceful he was and then she turned her attention to the dishes.
When she finished cleaning up from breakfast, she looked over at Heyes; he was still sleeping. Looking around the cabin for something to do, she decided to go sit on the porch to get some fresh air. Figuring she could hear
Heyes, she decided to prop open the door. As she opened the door, she was greeted by Kyle's smiling face. He stood up from the chair he was sitting in and tipped his hat, "What can I get for ya Mrs. Heyes?"
"Oh, I just came out to get some fresh air," Laurie responded.
"Well then, have a seat and enjoy the fresh air Mrs. Heyes," Kyle said with a smile across his face.
"Thank you, Kyle," she said. "It’s Laurie."
"You're Heyes' wife, so you got to be Mrs. Heyes," Kyle corrected.
"Well actually," Laurie said, "It would be Mrs. Smith. Hannibal Heyes couldn't get married, but Joshua Smith could."
"That legal?" Kyle asked before he thought about it.
The smile on Laurie's face disappeared and was replaced by a look of embarrassment.
When Kyle realized what he had just said and the hurt he had caused he quickly added, "Well, you'll always be Mrs. Heyes to me, but if you'd rather, I'll call you Laurie. That's if it's okay with Heyes. I don't want him mad
"Heyes couldn't get mad at you. You're such a loyal friend. Thank you for all your help," she said patting Kyle's hand.
He blushed, "You're welcome."
"Where's Kid and Wheat?" Laurie asked looking around the compound.
"They went up top to check on the posse," Kyle responded pointing to the top of the mountains surrounding the compound. "Theys be back soon and I’m in charge ‘til they come back. I’m t’stay with you.”
They sat there for a few minutes in silence when Laurie asked, "Whose cabin is this anyway?"
"It's Wheat's cabin," Kyle replied, "Well it's the leader's cabin and since that's Wheat right now, it’s Wheat's."
"Oh," Laurie said sounding surprised, "I guess I owe an apology to Wheat for taking over his cabin and a thank you."
"Nah," Kyle said, "It's for Heyes and Kid. If theys here, it's their cabin."
"But Wheat's the leader," Laurie said looking confused.
"Wheat's the leader cause Heyes and Kid don't want it no more. It wasn't like they got replaced, they gave it up," Kyle said as he turned his head and spit some tobacco into the spittoon.
"So, this was their cabin when they ran things?" Laurie asked curiously.
"Yep," Kyle replied adding more tobacco to his mouth. "Kid’s stayin’ in Wheat's room, but it was Kid's room."
"Who stays in Heyes' old room?" Laurie questioned.
A stunned look came over Kyle's face as he shook his head, "No one stays in Heyes' room. That's Heyes' room."
"But, he's not here anymore," Laurie said being very confused.
"Don't matter," Kyle replied. "Heyes was the best leader we ever had. Wheat and him argued ‘bout it, but even Wheat'll tell ya, Heyes is the best. That was Heyes' room then and it's Heyes' room now."
"What about Kid?" Laurie asked.
"He'd tell ya it's Heyes' room too."
"No, I mean, wasn't he a leader too?" Laurie said trying to understand.
"Yeah," Kyle replied wondering what Laurie was confused about, "He and Heyes ran everythin' together."
"Then why does Wheat stay in Kid's room and not Heyes?" Laurie finally asked.
"Oh," Kyle nodded as he finally understood her question, "Kid was there but it's Heyes who has the plans. Kid backed Heyes up. Theys partners, but it's Heyes who done the thinkin' and plannin'."
"Who sleeps in the bed that Heyes is in now, the one in the front room?" Laurie asked.
"No one. Wheat had the bed put there last winter so he could be right next to the fire. He jes ain't moved it yet," Kyle explained.
Two men approached the cabin, "Ma'am," they said, as the tipped their hats. "Kyle do ya need anythin’?"
"Nope," Kyle said turning and spitting his tobacco. "Jes enjoyin' some fresh air."
"You both helped carry Heyes into the cabin, didn't you?" Laurie asked, looking at the two men.
"Yes ma'am. I'm Lobo and this here is Hank," Lobo said, introducing the two.
"I'm sorry, I'm sure you told me your names before, I just forgot. It was a little confusing and I don't think I thanked you for your help. Thank you," Laurie said with a smile.
"Heck," Hank stated, "Anything for Heyes and the Kid."
From the cabin a faint call was heard, "Hello."
Laurie got up and excused herself as she walked into the cabin. "You're awake," she said as she walked over to the side of Heyes' bed.
"How long have I been out?" Heyes asked groggily.
"Couple hours," Laurie said as she carefully sat on the bed next to him. She felt his forehead for any signs of fever; it was cool. "Can I get you some water or food?"
"Water be good," Heyes said still trying to focus his eyes.
"Relax and don't strain yourself. You'll get better, it's just going to take time," Laurie said and she got up to get Heyes a glass of water.
"He and Wheat went to ‘look up top' I think Kyle said."
Heyes nodded as he took the water as he tried sitting up. The room began to spin and he laid his head back down.
"Take it slow," Laurie said quietly. "You lost a lot of blood, if you move too quickly you'll pass out."
Kid walked into the cabin followed by Wheat and Kyle, "She's right Heyes, it's gonna take a while for you to get your strength back.” Kid walked over, pulled out the whiskey bottle and poured three glasses and then
jokingly went to hand the bottle to Laurie. "I understand you don't need a glass," he said with a smirk on his face.
"Very funny," Laurie said playfully swatting him.
"Where's mine?" Heyes asked.
"None, for you. You lost too much blood. Can't have any for a few days," Kid replied.
"Since you're back, I think I'll go take a walk," Laurie stated.
"Kyle," Heyes, Kid and Wheat called as Kyle was already standing up to go with Laurie.
"I know, I know," Kyle assured as downed his glass of whiskey in one gulp.
"This really isn't necessary…" Laurie started.
"Yes it is," Heyes insisted.
Kid walked over to Laurie and gave her a kiss on the head, "Just humor us, okay."
"Fine. Kyle, why don't you show me around the place?" Laurie said as she grabbed Kyle's arm and wrapped hers around it.
"Why certainly," Kyle said with a smile that went ear to ear as he puffed out his chest and walked towards the door. Kyle showed Laurie around the compound. As they walked most of the men were friendly. They didn't
notice the eyes of one lone occupant standing on the porch of the bunkhouse watching every move they made.
After a long walk around the compound, they made their way back to the cabin. Walking into the cabin they saw Kid and Wheat sitting on one side of Heyes with Lobo and Hank on the other side.Heyes was propped up
with pillows and his lap was the table for the poker game they were playing.
Laurie smiled as she and Kyle walked over, "Feeling better?"
Heyes put his cards down and reached up and grabbed Laurie's hand, "Yes, how was your walk?"
"Fine, it was nice to get out and walk around a little," she replied as she stared into Heyes' eyes.
He returned the gaze, as the rest of the room got quiet.
Wheat, Kyle, Lobo and Hank watched in amazement, as they had never seen anyone have the effect on Heyes that it appeared Laurie did. They wondered how this person could have gotten to him when no one except
Kid ever got close to him.
After a few moments, Laurie asked, "How about I make something to eat?" She broke her gaze from Heyes and turned to the rest of the boys, "Hungry?"
"Yes ma'am," they eagerly responded.
"Great. Kyle, can you help me get a few supplies? I'll cook something for everyone?" Laurie said as she walked over to the kitchen area in the cabin. She looked in the cabinet and turned to Wheat, "Guess you don't do
much cooking in here."
"Naw," Wheat replied, "I go to the bunkhouse to eat."
"Lobo, Hank, Kyle might need some help gathering supplies. Do you mind?" she asked.
Hank and Lobo put their cards down and stood up.
After writing a few things down on a piece of paper, Laurie handed it to Kyle, "See if you can get anything on the list. If not, bring back whatever you can find and I'll make something."
Kyle took the list and he, Hank and Lobo left to get the supplies.
"Man," Wheat said shaking his head, "They never jumped so quickly for me when I ask them to get supplies."
"Laurie has that affect on people," Kid said smiling.
She shook her head and rolled her eyes, "Did you ever think it could be because someone offered to cook for them?"
"True," Heyes interjected and then added, "Could be your cooking Wheat."
"Could be the fact that they think a woman's cooking is better than what they usually get," Laurie stated. "Of course, it is blind faith. They have no idea how good of a cook I am, or what I'm going to make."
Wheat turned to Heyes, "Smart woman you got there," and then added sarcastically, "What she see in you?"
"Wheat," Kid said with caution in his voice.
"Wheat," Laurie said with force, "I need some water. Will you please get some?"
Wheat looked at Laurie, then he looked at Heyes and Kid, he really didn't know how to respond to being told what to do by a woman. Yes, she did it in the form of a question, but no, a response of no would not be
accepted. He stood up, took the pail from Laurie's hand and left the cabin.
"Kid," Heyes chuckled, "I think I was wrong."
"Wrong?" Kid answered amused.
"Yeah," Heyes continued, "I don't think I have to worry about Laurie."
"Nope," Kid agreed, "Don't think WE do. In fact, I think if we decided to stay, she would be the leader."
"Good," Laurie said with a smile, "Guess I don't need a body guard anymore?"
"Wrong!" Heyes and Kid yelled in unison.
Heyes continued, "You still don't go anywhere without one of us. Just because you can get Kyle, Hank, Lobo and Wheat to do what you want, doesn't mean you can get everyone else. I'm not worried about you getting
them to do what you want; I'm worried about what they want to do with you. You don't leave this cabin without one of us, understand?"
Laurie didn't respond.
Heyes said with more force, "Understand!"
"Yes," Laurie said meekly, "I understand."
Kyle, Lobo and Hank came back with the supplies, some on the list, some not and Wheat brought the water. They went back to playing poker while Laurie cooked. She made a big pot of stew and biscuits. As the aroma
began to permeate the cabin, the boys began stirring in their seats, turning to look at the simmering pot. The game was getting very sloppy as their concentration was broken by the smell.
Finally Kid threw his cards in and stood up, "I can't play anymore; it smells so darn good, I’m starvin’! Laurie, how about a biscuit to hold me over?" he asked with a puppy dog look on his face; a look that usually gother
to hand over something before the rest of the food was ready.
"No." Laurie scolded, "It will be done in a few minutes, go get washed up. If I give you a biscuit then I have to give everyone a biscuit." The boys' faces all lit up at the prospect, as Laurie continued, "Then we would have
nothing for dinner. Go get cleaned up and I'll serve when everyone's cleaned up and sitting at the table."
They all jumped up, chairs flying backwards as they jostled with each other trying to get out of the cabin door. Laurie stood there, shaking her head. Heyes chuckled and Laurie laughed as she turned to look at Heyes, "The
power of food."
"No," Heyes said and smiled as he held his hand out towards her, "The power of Laurie! Even taming hardnosed outlaws." Heyes laughed as Laurie walked over to him, she grabbed his hand and sat on the bed next to him.
He reached up with his good arm and cupped her chin, pulling her close and kissing her.
"They’re not hardnosed," Laurie mumbled as she stared into Heyes' eyes.
"No, but they like to think they are," Heyes responded, pulling Laurie into another kiss, this one more passionate than the first.
The door to the cabin burst open as the boys came pushing in, tripping over each other to get to the table. They all came to an abrupt stop when they saw Heyes and Laurie kissing. "It's not on the table!" Kid cried out; you
could almost hear his heart drop as he spoke.
Laurie pulled away from Heyes smiling at him as she stood up and turned around, "Have a seat, I just have to serve it." They jumped into seats and picked up their forks; she shook her head. As she started to serve, she
asked, "Did any of the cooks ever lose a hand while serving?"
There was no answer as the boys dug into the stew and biscuits.
Laurie made a plate for Heyes and brought it over to him. "Do you need help or can you handle it today?" she asked.
"I think I can handle it today." Heyes responded and took the plate from Laurie before asking, "Where's yours? I haven't seen you eat since we got here."
"If there is any left, I'll get some when everyone else is done," she replied.
"No, you will eat now, or I won’t eat," Heyes stated firmly.
"You have to eat," Laurie responded, just as firmly.
Kid stood up, made a plate and walked it over to Laurie. "Here, eat!" Kid demanded. "Heyes is right, you haven't been eatin’ and you have to keep up your strength too."
"You don't have to go getting proddy Kid," Laurie said sheepishly.
Kid shook his head and went back to the table to eat.
"Are they always like that?" Wheat asked.
"Like what?" Kid asked.
"Arguin’ all the time," Wheat said.
"Pretty much," Kid mumbled as he continued eating.
"Jeez, Laurie's just like Heyes," Kyle announced and smiled as he inhaled his food.
"Another Heyes." Wheat sighed and rolled his eyes, "When's he gonna be strong enough to leave?"
"Not soon enough!" Heyes called out.
They finished dinner and as the dishes were being cleaned Laurie turned to Heyes,"Let's move you into the side bedroom."
"I'm fine, I don't want to bother you at night if I not sleeping," he responded.
"You're not going to bother me," Laurie stated, "I'm staying with you in here or in the bedroom."
"There's no bed in here for you," Heyes stated.
"Didn't matter last night, not going to matter tonight."
"You slept in here last night?"
"Slept in the same room as a woman and didn't even know it," Wheat snickered.
"I was shot yesterday, Wheat!" Heyes yelled. Turning to Laurie, he asked quietly, "Where’dyou sleep?"
Laurie walked over to the side of Heyes' bed and sat carefully on the side. "I sat on the floor," she said, then taking her hand and touching his good shoulder, she continued "and I rested my head here." She looked into his
eyes and smiled.
"I don't want you sitting on the floor all night," Heyes said softly as he returned her gaze.
"It's only until you have your strength. I recall someone not leaving the side of my bed for four or five days," Laurie said as she let her hand glide over his shoulder.
The boys all looked at each other; Kid nodded, indicating he would explain later. He stepped towards Heyes, "How ‘bout if I help Heyes into the bedroom. Then the boys can move this bed in there too. That way, Laurie
won't be sittin’ on the floor and everyone doesn't have to leave or be quiet when Heyes is sleepin’."
"Sounds like a plan," Heyes said starting to sound tired, "Except I don't need help, I can do it myself." He sat up and swung his feet to the floor. His face turned white as the whole room seemed to spin rapidly around him.
"Okay, maybe I could use a little help."
Kid walked over placed his arm around Heyes' waist and helped him up and into the bedroom. Once he was in bed, the others moved the bed from the front room. They placed it next to Heyes'.
"Thank you. Now, if you'll excuse us, I think I should give Heyes a shave and he should get to bed. So run along to the bunkhouse. Oh, and I'll be staying in so there is no need to post a guard," Laurie stated.
The next few days were fairly quiet. Laurie mostly stayed in the cabin with Heyes. Whenever she ventured out, one of the boys went with her. Heyes was regaining his strength and was sleeping less. With Kid’s help, he
would even venture out into the big room of the cabin. Laurie's cooking was the talk of the compound as they all tried to get an invitation to dinner. Kid kept watch over the pair and an eye on the rest of the occupants of
From all indications, the remaining men of the posse were clearing out. With any luck, Kid thought, Heyes would have enough of his strength back in a week to get out of there. Nothing had happened, but even Kid felt an
uneasiness; a feeling that he had never before felt in the compound. He had made it a point to meet most of the new boys but there were still one or two that were never around when he was.
The fourth morning started the same as the past few; water had been brought in the night before so Laurie could start coffee and breakfast before anyone else was awake. As it was almost done, Wheat and Kyle showed
up at the door. Kid would protest and Laurie would invite them for breakfast. At this point, Heyes had enough strength to get himself slowly out of bed and sit at the table with the others.
After breakfast, most of the occupants of the Hole would leave to get supplies or do chores in the area. Others would be on look out duty which left only a few men remaining in the compound.
Wheat and Kid were set to ride up top again to check the area out. Jack Packer had been known to make it look like the posse had left, only to come back in a day or two when he figured his intended target would have
relaxed a little. He had captured many unsuspecting outlaws that way and Kid was going to make sure he and Heyes didn't fall into the same trap. The men going for supplies also looked for any indication Packer and his
men were still in the area.
After breakfast the men left the compound. Kyle stayed with Laurie and Heyes. He had been appointed Laurie's bodyguard; which was okay with Laurie as she really did like Kyle and could see how much Kyle liked
Heyes and Kid. It was okay with Kyle because he liked Laurie and as long as he was her bodyguard, he was eating Laurie's cooking.
Since the compound was going to basically be empty, it was agreed that Kyle could help move some heavy debris and branches on the other side of the compound as long as Laurie stayed in the cabin. If she wanted to
leave the cabin, Laurie was supposed to call for him from the porch.
As the morning became afternoon and Heyes had gone back to sleep, Laurie was feeling a little stir crazy. This was the fourth day she had stayed in the cabin with Heyes. She stayed initially because he needed her and she
needed to be there for him. But as he gained his strength back, she thought it would be nice to be outside for a while. She checked on Heyes and saw he was resting peacefully. She opened the door of the cabin and
stepped onto the porch. She was about to call for Kyle when she looked around the compound and there wasn't a soul in it. It was perfectly quiet. She didn't see the eyes watching her from the clump of trees near the
Wouldn't it be wonderful just to take a short walk without someone watching every step you took? She thought and decided to go get water by herself. If she felt she needed to go further, she would call for Kyle. Laurie
grabbed a bucket and went to get the water. She stood there for a moment looking around. It was so quiet in the compound it sent a shiver up her spine. She quickly looked around to see if anyone was there and was
about to yell for Kyle when she decided she was imagining things. As she turned and started back to the cabin she saw him for the first time.
He stepped out from behind a tree about five feet in front of her. When he saw her, he acted as startled as she was. "Excuse me ma'am," the man said, "I almost drew on you. I thought everyone was gone."
"You certainly scared me," Laurie stated. "Were did you come from?"
"Over by the pond," the man answered. "Well have a good day," he said as he tipped his hat.
Heyes rolled over and opened his eyes. He called out "Laurie" but there was no response. He could feel a breeze coming into the cabin and decided she must be sitting on the porch. Slowly, he got up and started towards
the open front door. He stopped for a second and went back and put his gun belt on. He didn't know why; it just seemed like the thing to do. He continued slowly to the door of the cabin.
Kyle, Hank, Lobo, and a few other men were done moving the large branches that had come down in the last storm and were blocking one of the trails. They started to head back to the main part of the compound.
Kid and Wheat were finished checking in with the lookouts. They had seen the riders ride out for supplies without any indication Jack Packer was still in the area. They were on their way back to the compound and
hopefully some of Laurie's cooking.
Laurie sighed quietly and took a step forward as the man moved across her path. She smiled put her head down, moving with determination.She knew Heyes would be mad if he found out that she had been off the porch
by herself. She decided he was right and there were men there that could possibly be trouble. This man in particular gave Laurie the creeps.
Just as she was about to pass his back, he abruptly turned around and grabbed her arm. "I don't take kindly to no woman ignoring me or a woman who gives orders," he barked.
"I don't know what you mean sir, but you are hurting me. Kindly remove your hand," Laurie said, trying to stay calm while looking to see if anyone else was around.
"I told you to stop when you got here and you told me you had to get your precious Hannibal Heyes off the horse. Then you start barking orders. You have no right to tell us what to do." Noticing that Laurie was looking
around the compound, "keep lookin'," he seethed, "there's no one here to protect you. Should’ve listened to your wonderful Hannibal Heyes and not left the cabin by yourself."
Laurie realized this meeting was not an accident. "Please let go of me," she said."Heyes and Kid are going to be really mad when they find out you hurt me."
The man laughed, "It will be too late when Heyes and Curry get here." He laughed and shook his head, "They're gonna to pay for what they did to me and my boys."
"They haven't done anything to you," Laurie said as she struggled with the man.
Kyle and the others were just entering the compound from the far side. "Who's that with Laurie?" Lobo asked pointing in the distance.
"Oh, jeez!" Kyle yelled and started to run towards Laurie; the others followed.
Heyes finally got to the front door and leaned on it for a moment to catch his breath. He looked up and saw Laurie struggling with someone. He knew the person but it took a second for it to click who he was, "Ribs, let
her go!" he yelled.
Ribs held tight but was surprised by Heyes' voice, "Well, well, look what the cat dragged in. You finally got yourself out of bed now didn't you."
"Ribs," Heyes responded in a stern voice, his eyes were black and his lips were thin, "Let go of her!"
"Not on your life," Ribs said and laughed, "well actually, not on her life! No one else is around; you can't even stand by yourself Heyes. Watcha gonna do to me?" Ribs drew his gun and fired towards Heyes.
Heyes responded as soon as he saw Ribs flinch.
Kid and Wheat heard the shots as they were coming around the corner and rode fast with guns drawn towards Laurie.
"Wow!" Kyle exclaimed, "Heyes, you're as fast as Kid! Did you see that Lobo? Heyes jes beat Stuckey? He's as fast as Kid!"
Laurie pulled away from Ribs when he was hit and ran to Heyes. "Are you okay?" she asked. "Did he hit you?" Her voice shaky as her eyes searched his body.
He reached out and pulled her into a tight hug. “I'm fine," Heyes said, "He missed." He stood holding Laurie as tight as he could.
Kyle was still yakking away when Kid and Wheat rode in. "Kid, Wheat," Kyle exclaimed, "You shoulda seen it!" Kyle turned to Kid, "Heyes was as fast as you!"
"Almost," Heyes called out from the porch where he held Laurie who was shaking uncontrollably.
"Always has been," Kid stated as fact. He looked over towards the man lying face down in the dirt. "What happened?"
"Stuckey was grabbing Laurie and Heyes told him to let go, but he wouldn't," Kyle said. "‘Cept Heyes kept callin’ him somethin’ different." Turning to Heyes, "What ja call him?"
"Ribs," Heyes replied, "Kid, it's Ribs from Junction City."
Kid rolled the man over and shook his head. "Guess that's why Stuckey was never around when I was lookin’ for him. He knew I would recognize him."
"How'd you know him?" Wheat asked.
"Shot a Sheriff in Junction City a while back. We helped catch him and put him away," Kid stated. "He wasn't exactly happy with us. Must have broken out of jail again."
Three shots and the sound of horses running were heard. The group of men coming back with the supplies came flying into the compound. One of them yelled out, "Posse's still out there. Almost caught us by the big tree."
Heyes stepped forward on the porch, "Kid," he called out, "Tie Ribs to the saddle and send him out. Put a note on him saying who he is, maybe they'll be happy with one reward and get out of here." Heyes turned, walked
Laurie into the cabin and shut the door behind him.
"Wheat," Kid said.
"Got it," Wheat replied, "Go! Man, can the two of you ever be separated for five minutes?"
Kid smiled, patted Wheat on the back and walked to the cabin.
Heyes was standing holding Laurie close when Kid walked into the cabin. "Everyone okay?" Kid asked.
"Yeah," Heyes said quietly.
Laurie lifted her head off of Heyes' chest, "I'm sorry, I really am."
"Shhh," Heyes said rubbing Laurie's back, "I know."
"I didn't think anyone was around. I looked, I checked. There was no one. I was only getting water and coming right back. That's why the door was open," her voice trembled as she explained, "If I would have seen him,
I would have called for Kyle or waited for Kyle to come back. I really did check. He said he wanted to make you pay."
"I believe you," Heyes said, "I don't think it was an accident. I think he planned it. Kid met all the other new guys and they all seemed fine. Never met Ribs because he knew Kid would recognize him."
Kid walked over and poured three glasses of whiskey. He brought them over to Heyes and Laurie, "Here," he said as he handed them each a glass. Heyes and Kid drank theirs in one gulp; Laurie just stared at her glass.
"Heyes," she said so quietly they could barely hear her, "You were right. I don't belong in your world. I didn't listen to you and because I didn't, I got a man killed. Worse, he could have killed you. I'm sorry." Laurie
walked over to the table and set the drink down. "I think I need to be alone for a little while." She walked into the bedroom and closed the door.
Kid looked at Heyes; he was extremely pale, "Heyes sit down. She'll be okay, just give her a few minutes. Sit down now before you pass out. You need to take it easy
Heyes sat down in the chair and handed Kid his glass indicating he wanted another one.
"I don't know if that's a good idea. Remember, you lost a lot of blood a couple days ago."
"Kid," Heyes said calmly, "I just killed a man. Granted he was supposed to hang, but my bullet killed him. I need another drink."
The events that had just happened came flooding back into Kid's mind. He was always the one who protected Heyes. Heyes rarely ever had to pull his gun let alone use it. It was always Kid's job to use his gun. Heyes
had killed for the first time. It was just, and the man would have hanged if he was caught, but still, it was Heyes' bullet that killed him. Kid walked over, picked up the bottle poured Heyes another drink then sat down in the
chair next to him and had another too.
"You okay Heyes?" Kid asked.
"Yeah Kid," his partner said quietly, "I'm okay. Did what I had to do. I would do it for you too." He turned and looked at his cousin, "You know that don't you. I would only do that for you and Laurie.”
There was a knock on the door and Wheat and Kyle walked in. "All taken care of," Wheat said. "Tied him to his horse, put a note on him and sent him out. I have the lookouts reporting back to me as soon as they see
anything. We'll find out if the posse takes him and runs or stays around." Wheat looked around the room, "Where's Laurie?"
"She's in the bedroom," Kid replied.
"Heyes," Kyle said as he took a step forward but continued to look at the ground, "I'm real sorry I weren't there. I didn't hear her call me."
"She didn't call you Kyle," Heyes said.
Kyle looked up at him.
"It's not your fault," Heyes assured. "We all agreed that you should go move the debris. Laurie was supposed to stay inside."
"Thanks Heyes, but I still think I should have been with her," Kyle replied.
"Kyle, Ribs wanted to get us back for gettin’ him and his boys caught. If it wasn't now, I'm sure he would have tried somethin’ before we left. Even if you were here, with everyone else gone, I think he would have liked the
odds. He could have killed you to get to Laurie," Kid stated. "She said she looked around and didn't see anyone. He was hidin’ and waitin’. What happened, happened, but now it's over. Everyone is alright."
They sat there for a few minutes in silence when Kyle spoke up, "Heyes, can I ask ya a question?"
"What Kyle?" Heyes responded.
"If you've always been as fast as Kid, how come you never done that before?"
"Almost as fast," Heyes corrected then added, "Never had to, Kid's always been there." He finished his drink and stood up, "I'm going to go check on Laurie." He gave a pat to Kid's shoulder and went into the bedroom.
Laurie was standing in the middle of the room facing the back wall when Heyes walked in. He walked over to her and put his hands around her waist and pulled her close to him. He kissed her neck and leaned his head
against hers as they stood looking at the back wall. "Whatcha looking at?" Heyes whispered in her ear.
A small smile appeared on Laurie's face, "Nothing," she quietly responded.
"Good," Heyes whispered back. "I thought the whiskey was affecting my eyesight ‘cause I didn't see anything." He could feel a little shudder in Laurie and feel a smile form on her cheeks. "I love you," he whispered.
"I know," she responded, "I love you too."
Heyes could feel the side of his face getting wet as he heard quiet whimpers from Laurie. He took his good arm and pulled her around so she was facing him. He wiped the tears from her face and leaned in to kiss her. "I
need you," he said as he lightly kissed her lips.
She trembled, "I need you too." Laurie looked at him and saw how pale he was. "Heyes, you need to lie down. You're over exerting yourself."
"I'll lie down if you lie down with me."
"You need to rest," Laurie pleaded.
"I will. With you," Heyes stated weakly.
"Okay, lie down. I'll lie down in my bed."
"No, together," he said and pulled her down with him as he sat on the bed. "I need you next to me."
The two of them lay down together with Heyes holding Laurie. Before he drifted off to sleep, he whispered into her ear, "You do belong in my world."
Heyes, Kid and Laurie stayed in Devil's Hole for another week. The posse had taken Ribs and left. There were no other signs of them. Heyes got stronger every day. Kyle told everyone over and over again how fast
Heyes really was. Laurie became everyone's little sister and could barely have a second let alone a minute by herself. She began cooking all the meals in the bunkhouse for everyone.
Finally, Heyes was strong enough to ride and they decided they would leave in the morning. When Kid asked Heyes, "Before breakfast?" the rest of the occupants of the compound looked as crushed as he did.
Heyes replied, "After breakfast."
Laurie cooked breakfast for everyone then went around and received hugs from all of the boys. When she got to Kyle, he took off his hat, kissed Laurie's cheek and gave her a hug. "I'll miss you Mrs. Heyes," he said with
a smile and kissed her cheek again.
Laurie smiled and placed her hand on Kyle's cheek, "I'll miss you too Kyle." Then she gave him a kiss on the cheek that made him blush.
As they mounted their horses Wheat said, "You're welcome here anytime. That includes you Laurie."
"Thanks Wheat," Heyes said with a smile.
"Wheat," Kid said tipping his hat.
They rode out of Devil's Hole firing three shots in the air. The rest of the journey back to Small Falls was quiet and uneventful. Just the way they liked it.