The Lie

The Lie

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the West, posed for a portrait along with Sheriff Lom Trevors, of Porterville, Wyoming, and Governor, Francis E. Warren.  It had been a long road, one filled with setbacks and doubts, but finally the long-awaited amnesty had arrived!  There had been rousing cheers from the assembled crowd that morning, when the governor took pen in hand, signing the document that would give both men a clean slate, a fresh start, a second chance.

A photographer from a fancy New York newspaper ordered them all to stand still, and the moment was forever captured by the wonder of cutting edge 1890’s technology.

“Mr. Heyes!  Mr. Curry!” a young, starry-eyed reporter from the same fancy newspaper heralded them.  He ran toward Heyes and the Kid, trying to hold his awkward-looking derby in place, and held out his hand.  “I’m Henry Greer.  Reporter with The News.  I’d like an interview with both of you, if you don’t mind?”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a look, then shrugged.  It couldn’t hurt.

Seated in the saloon, all three men sharing a celebratory drink, the reporter began.  “I’d like to know, from both of you, your feelings about today, some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to this point, if you ever thought of abandoning your pursuit of amnesty, your most fearful hour, your most successful robbery, your…”

“Hold on, boy!”  Heyes was chuckling, finding the obviously admiring young man entertaining.

“Sorry,” Henry blushed, “I guess I’ve never interviewed anyone of your…” he paused, searching for the right descriptor, “your ‘legendary status’ before,” he finished, smiling at having chosen just the right words.

“Legendary status, huh?”  Heyes liked this young man better every minute.  “How about you start again.  And this time, one question at a time.”

“Alright.”  He took a deep breath.  “Tell me about the biggest lie you ever told.”

Kid Curry leaned back in his chair, balancing it on two legs.  He crossed both arms in front of him.  “I think I’ll let my partner, the one with the ‘Silver Tongue’ answer this one.”  He propped a foot on an empty chair and waited for Heyes’ answer with as much anticipation as Henry.

Heyes thought long about his answer.  He considered several options.

There was the elaborate ‘sting’ they had concocted, tricking Grace Turner into wagering enough so they could return the reward money she had collected for turning in the Kid.  But maybe he ought to hold onto that one.  It made a great story and someday, someone with one of those new-fangled motion picture machines might want to buy that story.  It would make a great film.

Maybe the land hoax, where August Binford invested loads of money, not his, in a diamond field that turned out to be nothing but a bunch of dirt.

Or maybe the ‘coin flip’.  But he couldn’t very well admit to that lie here and now, not with Curry sitting right here next to him, gun strapped to his leg and all.

“Mr. Greer, I believe the biggest lie I, WE…” he motioned with a gloved hand, including his partner, “ever told was the lie we told ourselves.”

Curry’s chair landed back on all fours with a thud.  He leaned forward with both elbows on the table.  He raised a skeptical eyebrow toward his partner.

Henry was already scribbling frantically on his tablet.  “…Lie we told ourselves, go on Mr. Heyes.”

“Ya see, Henry, me and the Kid here have been struggling since we were kids.   A couple of poor orphans, trying to look out for one another.  Trying to keep body and soul together, trying to make our way the best we could.  Growing up during the war years, we just didn’t see much different between what we were doing and what had been done to us most of our lives.”

Heyes went on to include every heart-wrenching incident, every trial of monumental proportion the two had suffered together over the years, embellishing to utter perfection of course, and expressing just the proper amount of regret over their lives of crime.

“…And I guess that’s about it, Henry.”

The interview concluded with a smiling Henry Greer being walked back to his hotel with enough information to write a book.

After the young man was out of sight and earshot, the Kid slung an arm around Heyes’ shoulder.   “Lie we told ourselves?”  He couldn’t contain his laughter any longer.  “Heyes, where’d you come up with that bucket’a hogwash?”

Heyes looked at his partner.  The grin tugging at the corners of his mouth belied his innocent look.  “Hogwash?  That’s what you call that sincere, insightful, remorseful, apologetic…”  He couldn’t think of any more words so he stopped there.  “Kid, I’m highly insulted that you would think for one moment…”

“Heyes.  It’s me!  The Kid!  That’s got to be the biggest shovel full’a…”

“Kid!  That reporter seemed to like us plenty.  No reason to make the boy think we’re a couple of criminals, is there?  Besides, I think he just heard it.”

“Heard what?”

Heyes’ smile grew wider.  “The biggest lie I ever told!”

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.

September 2008

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