“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doin’?” Kid Curry answered with a snarl. He sat at the kitchen table in the leaders’ cabin at Devil’s Hole with his gun laid out before him, a box of bullets within easy reach.
“We-eeell…” Hannibal Heyes drew the word out slowly while he closed the door behind him. He tossed his hat haphazardly toward a peg on the wall and missed. “It looks like you’re loading your gun. You’re not planning on using it, are you?”
“You better believe I plan on usin’ it!” the Kid replied, his anger causing the words to come out as more of a growl than a statement. He stood and twirled his Colt expertly into its holster. “I’m gonna kill ‘im,” he said, flatly.
Heyes stepped in front of his partner, blocking his path. “Whatever the problem is, Kid, I’m sure we can take care of it.”
“Oh, I’m gonna take care of it, alright. I’m gonna kill the little son of a…”
“Whoa there!” Heyes placed both hands on Curry’s shoulders. “There’ll be no killing here at The Hole. That’s a rule we’ve lived by since the day you and I teamed up and we’re NOT,” he emphasized his point with a poke to the chest of his irate partner, “going to start now!”
“Get out of my way, Heyes,” the Kid insisted, stone-faced.
“No.” Heyes stood his ground. “You need to calm down and tell me what’s got you so riled.”
Curry shoved Heyes’ poking finger away from his chest. “I’ll tell you what’s got me so riled!” he yelled. “All that money, wasted!”
Heyes pulled out a chair and gestured for Curry to sit. “You’re going to need to do better than that, Kid. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Just take a look for yourself.” The Kid ignored the chair and instead led his partner up a ladder, into the loft. Dejectedly, he waved his hand. “All that money, layin’ in supplies for the winter, all that time we spent, plannin’, and savin’, and haulin’. And for what?”
Heyes looked around the loft. Sacks of flour lay torn, with their contents spilling onto the wooden floor, grain seemed to be scattered everywhere. “It’s a mess,” he declared.
Curry grabbed Heyes’ arm. “Shhh!” Lifting his Colt, he took aim at a dark corner of the loft. “C’mon out of there!” he demanded.
Although Heyes strained his eyes, following the barrel of Curry’s weapon, he didn’t see anyone.
“I got you now you little….” Curry prepared to squeeze the trigger.
“Wait!” yelled Heyes.
A skittering noise was heard coming from the corner and then silence.
“You spoiled my shot.” Curry glared.
“You were going to shoot a mouse?” Heyes rolled his eyes.
“What, you think I’m not fast enough?” Curry moved toward the ladder and descended.
“Oh, I have no doubt your fast enough.” Heyes followed his friend down the ladder. “Accurate enough too. But it’s just a mouse, Kid, doing exactly what we’re doing–laying in supplies for the winter.”
“You’re takin’ this awful easy, Heyes. You do know we’re gonna have to replace everything that critter’s eaten, not to mention makin’ sure he’s got no friends and relatives takin’ up residence.”
“All part of the planning that goes along with being a leader here at The Hole.”
Curry sighed and crossed the room to where Heyes’ hat lay.
When Curry laughed, Heyes turned toward him with a questioning look.
“Did you say hole?” the Kid asked, picking up his partner’s hat from the floor. “We-eeell,” he drew the word out, mimicking his partner, and poked his finger through a hole on the hat’s crown.
Heyes’ eyes grew wide, and then his laughter joined Curry’s.
Acknowledgements to Robert Burns and John Steinbeck.
With very special thanks to Lana Coombe and Ghislaine Emrys. 😉