Hannibal Heyes watched as the safe plummeted from high above, bouncing twice off the rocks before it quickly sank to the depths of a frigid mountain lake.
In his mind’s eye, he saw his life, his career, bashing against the rocks, plunging to the depths. Sinking like a rock.
“Heyes?” The Kid sat, quietly fingering some worthless scrap of paper.
Behind them, members of the Devil’s Hole Gang, a band of the most successful outlaws in the history of the West, grumbled.
“Leader, HA!” Wheat groused. “I’d make a better leader than either one of ’em, with both hands tied behind my back!”
“Heyes, what’s amnesty?”
Something in the Kid’s tone sent Heyes back…
“Bet I can beat ya!”
Jed Curry, not one to back down from any dare, stood his ground and assumed a relaxed stance, in silent acceptance of the challenge.
Hannibal Heyes ran his tongue over his lower lip in preparation for verbal warfare. “First one to the fort gets his pick. On the count of three. One, two…” he took off like a shot. “Three!”
Quick as lightning, Jed reacted, overtaking the older boy within seconds.
Ten minutes later, Jed arrived at the base of a sprawling oak, the home of the fort built by both boys the previous summer. Leaning an arm against its rough bark, he caught his breath.
Twenty seconds after that, Hannibal Heyes arrived at base of the same oak, sprawling into the grass, panting. “When’d you…get to…be so…fast?”
Jed shrugged. “Comes natural. Guess you get to be Cap’n Bligh. Which makes me Fletcher Christian.”
“Sure you don’t… wanna be…cap’n this time?”
“Me? I got no desire to lead a band of misfit sailors.”
“But that’s what…Fletcher Christian does, Jed.” He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, pausing to recover from his run. “He leads the band of misfit sailors in a mutiny against their cap’n.”
“Heyes, what’s a mutiny?”
“Remember when we were kids?” Curry began again. “Remember playin’ sailors in that big ol’ oak?”
“Funny you should mention that, Kid.”
“Well, I been thinkin’.” He gestured toward Wheat and the other members of the Devil’s Hole Gang. “I’m thinkin’ we’re ’bout to have us a mutiny. An’ ol’ Wheat there, he’s playin’ the part of Fletcher Christian this time.”
Heyes sighed and ran a hand across his face. He nodded, wearily.
“And you know who that makes us.”
“Yeah,” Heyes muttered. “Captain Bligh.”
“So I been thinkin’. If this amnesty thing is what I think it is, maybe it’s time you and me jumped ship, ‘fore Wheat and the boys make us walk the plank.”
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