The Deviled Hole Gang
Sunrise – Devil’s Hole
“Heyes?” asked Curry, his feet perched comfortably on the porch rail of the leaders’ cabin.
“Hmm?” Heyes responded, similarly positioned, mug of steaming coffee gripped in his right hand.
“How many outlaws does it take to boil an egg?”
“I don’t know, Kid. How many?”
Curry let the front two legs of his chair drop with a thud and leaned forward, resting both elbows on his knees as he watched the early morning activity at Devil’s Hole. Kyle, wiping sweat from his brow as he raised a bucket of water from the well. Lobo, fetching wood from the shed. Preacher, chasing a hen off her nest to grab at its contents. And Wheat, supervising, sipping his morning coffee, barking out orders to a gang of outlaw misfits, seemingly destined for a life of less-than-mediocre crime.
“Forget it,” the Kid decided. “Just one of them questions that don’t need answerin’. How are we ever gonna lead this bunch of hard-boiled ignoramuses?”
“Is that a rhetorical question too?”
Curry cast a side-ways glance at his leader partner.
“They’re not so bad, Kid.” Heyes pushed his black hat back, revealing a pair of shrewd, dark eyes.
“I don’t know. They look pretty raw to me.”
“Hard outer shells maybe, but on the inside, not one of them is really rotten. The secret is, we gotta coddle ’em.”
“Coddle ’em? I don’t take to coddlin’ outlaws.”
“I mean mold ’em. Work ’em to our way of doing things gently, over-easy-like, so we break ’em in, without breaking their spirits.”
Just then Kyle stumbled, knocking into Wheat and sending the bucket of water he’d been carrying spilling into the dirt, as well as dying the front of Wheat’s white shirt a murky shade of coffee-brown.
“Dang it, Kyle!” Wheat exclaimed, pulling the shirt away from his scalded skin. “What a dip! I oughta beat ya!”
Kyle scrambled to his feet, apologizing profusely and wiping at the front of Wheat, which did nothing more than change the coffee-brown to a shade more mud-like.
Curry turned a doubtful eye Heyes-ward. “Coddle ’em,” he reiterated. “Might be quicker if we fry ’em in a vat of…”
“Kid,” Heyes cut in. “Big Jim entrusted this gang to us, and we’re gonna do our best to whip them into the most successful gang of outlaws in the history of the West!”
Across the yard, Wheat flogged Kyle with his hat.
“Whatever you say,” the Kid conceded, leaning back in his chair and resting both feet again, on the porch rail.
“You just gotta have a little faith, Kid. Look on the sunny-side for once.”
“That bein’…?” he pulled a brown hat forward, over his eyes.
“That being, in order to make a Western omelet, you and me might have to crack a few egg-heads.”
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