Fourth of July
A Matter of Pride
“You don’t need to do this, Kid.” Heyes spoke the words quietly, barely more than a whisper, but he knew his partner heard.
The blue eyes remained fixed, unchanged.
They had ridden into Carson’s Ridge the day before. Hannibal Heyes, Kid Curry and the rest of the Devil’s Hole Gang were celebrating. More than just their recent successful train robbery, but the Fourth of July festivities were in full swing. Men, women, children and a few other drifters like themselves had the small town bursting at its seams.
“I know I can take him, Heyes,” came the cool response.
“Maybe ya can, but you got nothing to prove! Remember what happened last time?”
The Kid remembered.
“That’s not gonna happen again, Heyes. I can feel it.” He finished his beer and pushed the empty mug back toward the bartender. “I can’t leave Kyle and the boys thinkin’ I was too…” he stopped. He didn’t want to say the word.
Kyle joined his two friends in holding up one end of the bar. With a playful slap on Curry’s left shoulder he asked, “So you enterin’ the contest, Kid?”
Heyes shot Kyle a look of warning.
“We was just wonderin’, ’cause if yer not enterin’ then me and Wheat was thinkin’ maybe we’d…”
“He’s not entering!” Heyes cut in, answering for his partner.
“Yes I am, Heyes!” The determined look on Kid Curry’s face assured Heyes and Kyle that the discussion was over.
“Alrighty then!” beamed Kyle. “Looks like me and Wheat’ll just start takin’ bets instead.” A wad of tobacco missed the spittoon, hitting the floor with a splat. “Ain’t no one faster than you, Kid!” he finished with a split-toothed grin.
Heyes emptied his mug and slammed a coin down on bar before he turned to leave. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
The Kid was left standing alone. Heyes was right, he had nothing to prove. He knew he was the fastest. But it was the way Kyle looked at him, with that dad-blamed look of admiration in his eyes. Alright! It was a matter of pride! He could admit that. Stubborn, masculine, PRIDE!
High noon the next day found the Devil’s Hole Gang lining the streets. Heyes found an empty rocking chair on the porch of the general store and chose to watch the contest from a distance.
Two at a time, contestants stepped up. One at a time they were eliminated from the competition. Finally, it was down to only two men, the Kid and a burly-looking man who had been last year’s champion.
“You can do it, Kid!”
“C’mon, Kid! We got alotta money bet on ya!”
Cries of encouragement could be heard from the gang as well as shouts of support for his opponent.
“The final round! Gentlemen, are you ready?” Both Curry and the town champion nodded to the official that they were indeed ready.
“On your marks, get set…”
“Kid?” Heyes knew his friend wasn’t asleep yet.
An irritated grunt was the answer.
“I tried to tell ya you shouldn’t enter that contest. It’s just like the last time.”
The Kid rolled over, holding his aching stomach. Heyes was right it was just like the last time – and the time before that. Kid Curry was definitely the fastest, but the next few days would be a belly full of regret.
“I knew I could beat him, Heyes.” A soft moan escaped his lips.
“Everyone knows you’re the fastest! No one can eat a watermelon faster than you, but Kid, that don’t mean ya have to go provin’ it every time!”
Through his pain, a small grin appeared. “Heyes?”
The smile grew. “I won!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.