All In – Part four
Outside the Brown Palace Hotel – Denver
“Are you sure he’s going to run?” Billy Foster gave Donovan a skeptical look. They had been waiting outside the Brown Palace all night and had not seen any sign of Parker. “The sun will be rising soon.”
“I’d bet my life on it,” Donovan said, confidently. “The desk clerk said Parker came down last night and asked him what time the early train leaves this morning.”
Donovan was beginning to have doubts when he saw the first glow of the approaching sun. He stood and was about to stretch, when Foster put an arm on his shoulder and whispered. “Over there, by the side entrance.”
A dark figure was coming out of the building and hurrying toward the street.
“Hold it right there!” Donovan shouted, leveling his rifle and stepping into the street.
“Parker, you’re under arrest!” Deputy Foster shouted.
“What? Why?” Parker stammered.
“Governor Zulick started talking during the night. He said we had it all wrong and he wanted to set the record straight. He said you were the one who shot him.” Donavan looked directly into Parker’s eyes.
Parker’s eyes looked wild and he glanced quickly around at the group surrounding him.
“No, it was Heyes,” he said quickly. “The governor is confused.”
“No he isn’t, Parker, he was very clear. He said you burst into the room with Heyes’ gun and shot him. He said Heyes even ran to him and tried to help.” Donovan told the story Heyes had given over and over during his arrest and walk to the jail.
Parker blinked several times. “I want a deal,” he said finally. “I can tell you who wanted Zulick dead, but you have to protect me.”
Donovan smiled. “Mr. Parker, the best way to protect you is to get the person, or people, who planned this behind bars. You’d better start talking.”
“I want to talk to Marshall Tucker. I want a deal first.”
“Lock him up and call the marshal,” Donovan said. “I’m going to go to my hotel room and get some sleep.”
The abrupt pounding on his door woke Donovan from his deep sleep with a jolt. He opened his eyes and took a moment to orient himself. “What on earth…” he wondered, as he swung his legs over the bed and strode to the door.
Deputy Foster stood outside, white-faced and worried.
“Conrad?” Donovan asked as soon as he saw him.
“Uh, no, sir, it’s Parker. He’s dead.”
“What?! How did that happen? Wasn’t anybody watching him?”
“I went home to get a little sleep—like you,” Foster added quickly. “The marshal found him when he got in this morning.”
“Found him? What happened to him?”
“He, uh, hung himself in his cell,” Foster hung his head and shook it slowly. “I’m sorry, Mr. Donovan; we never got to question him.”
Donovan stared blankly past the deputy into the hallway. “Now we’ll never know who wanted Conrad dead,” he said dully.
“At least Sheriff Trevors captured Heyes and Curry,” Foster said, encouragingly.
“What? Oh, that’s good.”
“Yep, the marshal says at least we still got the shooter.”
Donovan’s eyes widened and he stared at Foster. “Do you mean the marshal still thinks Heyes shot the governor?”
“Well, yeah, he said Heyes was found with the gun and there is no evidence that Parker was ever involved.”
“No evidence? You heard him ask for a deal!” Donavan was shouting now and Foster looked scared.
“Marshal said there’s no evidence now that Parker is dead,” Foster repeated, shakily.
Donovan looked thoughtful for a moment. “Thanks for letting me know about this,” he told Foster, his composure returning. “Has there been any change to Governor Zulick’s condition?”
“Nurse says he’s still the same.”
“Thanks. I have to get dressed. Tell the marshal I’ll be in to see him later,” Donovan closed the door.
Lom Trevors walked out of the telegraph office and surveyed the group of men on horseback occupying the street. The posse had regrouped in Colorado Springs and now all that remained was the two-day ride back to Denver with the two prisoners. Prisoners. Trevors hated the fact that he was the one who had to bring Heyes and Curry in, especially handcuffed as they were, but they’d left him no choice. He was still mad at the Kid for the lump on the back of his head, but he supposed his own anger was mild compared to what Curry probably felt toward him at the moment. “Time to head out, boys,” he told the men, taking the lead and heading toward Denver.
The group had covered several miles when the sound of a gunshot took Trevors completely by surprise. He swung his horse around and quickly took in the situation.
Horses stomped, tossed their heads, and reared in panic.
Heyes hit the ground.
Posse members looked on in confusion. Two of them raised their rifles but seemed unsure who to aim them at.
Curry looked frantic, as two of the men held onto his horse and restrained him from lurching out of the saddle. “Heyes!” he yelled.
One man struggled to get his horse under control. “Out of the way, Leary! I would have had him!” He leveled his gun at Heyes, presumably to finish what his first shot had started.
“Lom!” Curry appealed to Trevors.
“What the devil do you think you’re doing?” Trevors demanded, training his own weapon at the rider who was taking aim at Heyes. “Put your gun down,” he ordered.
Instead of holstering his weapon, the man fixed his gaze on Heyes with a look that Trevors knew all too well. Trevors fired an instant before the other man and the shooter lurched backward, tumbling from his horse as his own shot went high.
“Everybody settle down,” Trevors shouted, not wanting any of the others to panic or start shooting. A quick look at Heyes confirmed his fear. The man had been hit by the first shot.
“Just grazed me,” Heyes said quickly, through gritted teeth. “The guy wasn’t a very good shot.”
“Looks bad enough to need tending,” Lom observed, noting the blood on Heyes’ shirt sleeve.
“What’s goin’ on, Lom?” Curry demanded, and Trevors was relieved that the Kid was handcuffed and restrained.
“That’s exactly what I want to know,” Trevors addressed the members of the posse. “What made that man take a shot at the prisoner?”
“No idea, Sheriff, we was just ridin’ along and all a sudden Joe there pulls out his gun and fires.”
“His name wasn’t Joe, it was Tom,” one of the other men called out.
“Don’t you all know each other?” Trevors asked, confused.
“Well, sure, most of us do, but that fella just joined up with us when the marshal was puttin’ the posse together.”
“I think the marshal brought him in,” Leary said finally.
“How is he?” Trevors asked the two men who’d dismounted and were checking the fallen posse member.
“Dead, Sheriff,” one of the men reported.
Trevors stared down the road they’d just travelled. “We’re going back to Colorado Springs,” he said finally. “I want to have a doctor look at Heyes’ arm and send another telegram to Denver.”
“Okay boys, this is going to be your accommodation for the night,” Lom told his old friends, as he turned the key in the lock of the Colorado Springs jail cell.
“Are you going to tell us what was in that telegram you got from Denver today? And why you sent the rest of the posse home?” Curry asked, irritation and fatigue evident in his voice.
“I suppose you have a right to know. There’s something not right in Denver and I have reason to think you two are in danger.”
Heyes and Curry exchanged incredulous looks.
“Lom – we’re wanted dead or alive and this morning someone in the posse took a shot at me – I’m pretty sure we are in danger!” Heyes exclaimed.
Trevors ignored the comment and studied Heyes’ bandaged arm. “How’s that feel?” he asked.
“Great, Lom, just great. The doc cleaned it up and said the bullet barely scratched me,” Heyes said, plastering a stiff smile on his face and staring at the lawman.
“It’s a little more than a scratch; there was a lot of blood on your shirt,” Lom persisted.
“Yeah, it was nice of the doc to give me this fresh shirt. Now what the devil are you talking about?” Heyes demanded.
“Well, it’s like this,” Lom began. “Doc Donovan believed your story and tricked Parker into showing his hand. He said the governor was getting his memory back and would be able to tell them the whole story soon, so Parker tried to make a run for it and Donovan caught him. He was locked up in the jail last night, but when the marshal went in to see him this morning—he found him dead. Then with what happened this morning—that man had no reason to take a shot at you! I gave them all specific orders not to shoot.”
“Gee, thanks, Lom,” Curry interjected, half-heartedly.
Lom glared at him briefly before resuming his story. “None of the other men knew this guy; he was new in town and just joined up with the posse.
“I don’t think Parker killed himself. I think somebody is trying to cover his tracks, and I don’t know how many men are involved or how far this thing goes. I think if I take you back to Denver your lives may be in danger.”
“Lom, I think you need our help,” Heyes said, with the first authentic smile he’d shown in days.
Hospital – Denver – Two Days Later
The young nurse smiled warmly as she walked Doc Donovan down the hall toward the hospital exit. “I’m so glad that Governor Zulick has regained his memory. I’m sure that your presence helped him recover,” she said.
“Just be sure he’s not disturbed tonight. Tomorrow morning he is going to give a full statement about the attempt on his life.”
“Don’t you worry; he won’t be disturbed at all,” the nurse assured him. “I’m so glad that the men responsible for harming him have been captured and there is no need to post a guard by his door any longer.”
Donovan nodded and glanced back toward the governor’s room. “Yes, I’m very glad that all of the trouble is over. Are you here all night, ma’am?”
“Oh, no, the night nurse arrives in an hour and then I’m off. Good night, Mr. Donavan,” the young woman said as she closed the door.
The hospital stood dimly lit and quiet. The night nurse sat with a chart in her lap, her head bobbing, first forward, then backward, finally coming to a comfortable rest against the chair’s back. Her mouth fell open and her deep breathing became a gentle snore. She never noticed the creak of the outer door as it opened slowly, or the dark figure that slipped inside, moving stealthily past her toward the room of Conrad Zulick.
The man reached the door of the governor’s room, opened it slowly, and looked around. It was dark but the form of a man could be seen lying still on the bed, covered in a blanket. The intruder reached for the pillow and slid it out from under the sleeping man’s head. The patient’s head jerked up and the intruder immediately stuffed the pillow over the man’s face and began smothering him.
The man on the bed showed more strength than the attacker expected from the recovering patient, and the two began to struggle. The patient pulled his would-be killer onto the bed and rolled over him, pinning him down. The move took the attacker by surprise but he regained his composure and the two continued to wrestle.
A lantern suddenly illuminated the room, and the sound of two pistols being cocked caused both struggling men to freeze.
“Let him go,” Kid Curry commanded, placing the barrel of his gun inches from the attacker’s head.
“Hands up and turn around,” Hannibal Heyes added, stepping from behind the curtains.
Slowly, Marshal Tucker turned and faced the guns. His face showed first surprise, and then slight fear.
“What are you doing here?” he questioned.
“I think that is the question you are going to have to answer,” Lom Trevors said, as he sat up, swung his legs over the side of the bed, and stood up to join Heyes and Curry.
Tucker stared, wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the three men. “Where’s Zulick?” he demanded.
“Safe,” Trevors replied, and then inclined his head toward the two men with guns. “I don’t think you’ve had a chance to meet my two friends. Marshal Tucker, meet Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”
“I know who they are,” Tucker spat. “They are escaped criminals—supposed to be in your custody! What do you think you’re doing?”
“Finding out who was behind the plot to assassinate Governor Zulick. It turns out it’s you, Marshal Tucker.”
“You can’t prove that!” Tucker scoffed.
“Maybe, maybe not, but you did just try to kill a man in this bed—a man you thought was Governor Zulick,” Heyes pointed out.
The door opened and Sheriff Wilson entered, flanked by his two deputies, Leary and Foster. Doc Donavan followed the lawmen into the room.
“You see, a few things just didn’t add up, Marshal,” Trevors began. “You arriving in town right after the attempt on Zulick’s life—you said you just happened to be travelling in this part of Colorado. Then sending Sheriff Wilson away and taking over the investigation— why not let Wilson handle it? But what really got me thinking was when the man you brought in to ride with the posse tried to shoot Heyes—he had no reason to do that. Then, when Doc telegraphed with the message of how Parker had died in his cell—with you guarding him, well, Doc and I knew something was wrong.”
“I believed Conrad’s life was still in danger, but I had no proof, so I took a chance and asked Nurse Henderson to leak the story that he had regained his memory,” Donovan added.
“You mean he hasn’t?” Tucker looked surprised.
“No, he still doesn’t remember the actual shooting. We were hoping if whoever was behind this thought the governor was unguarded, and was planning to give a statement tomorrow, that he would try again,” Donovan explained.
“Don’t you know what that man did?” Tucker became agitated. “He let all those renegades get away with murder! He told the citizens of Arizona that they couldn’t rid their land of those murderers. He’s soft on the unions too, wants to negotiate. Men like him are going to ruin this country. When President Cleveland hears that Governor Zulick has been assassinated by an outlaw, especially an outlaw he had just recommended for amnesty, he’ll know for certain that Zulick’s policies are a failure and he’ll be forced to appoint a new governor—one with backbone.”
“You didn’t succeed in killing the governor and vigilante justice isn’t going to solve the problems with the Apache. As for mine owners, they are going to have to listen to their workers or there is going to be more violence and death,” Donovan defended his friend.
“You’d better believe there will be more violence!” Tucker yelled, his eyes blazing. “Parker showed incredible ingenuity, coming up with his spur-of-the-moment plan to rid Arizona of that albatross, Zulick, and the West of its most notorious outlaw in one fell swoop. But there are many of us, Donovan, patriots like myself and Parker. Men who would stop at nothing to further our cause.”
“I think I’ve heard enough,” Sheriff Wilson announced. “Tucker, you’re under arrest. Bud, Billy, take this man to the jail and lock him up.”
“Sure thing, Sheriff,” Bud Leary replied, and the two deputies escorted Tucker from the room.
“Good to see you again, Mr. Heyes,” Wilson said, giving the former outlaw an appraising look.
“Good to see you too, Sheriff,” Heyes said, with an uneasy smile on his face.
“I suppose what the marshal said here tonight clears you of the charge of attempted murder,” the sheriff admitted.
“Thank you, sir,” Heyes said with a broadening grin.
“But you,” Wilson turned to Curry. “You are still wanted for assault and breaking a man out of my jail.”
Curry paled and looked at Trevors, who in turn looked at Donovan.
“Uh, Sheriff, you see, I suspected that the attempt on Conrad’s life was part of a larger plot, and I had no idea who I could trust here in Denver, or how many were involved. Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry helped me rescue Governor Zulick down in Mexico, and I already knew I could trust them,” Donovan explained.
“That’s right, Sheriff,” Trevors embellished. “Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry have been working with us all along, private investigators, you might say. The assault, the jail break, all parts of the plan to expose the plot on the governor’s life and to set a trap to catch everyone involved.”
Wilson blinked and looked at the four men in the room. “Is that how you all say it happened?”
“Yes, sir,” all four men said in unison.
Wilson nodded. “Well, I guess the right man is in custody now because of all of you, so that sounds alright to me. But I want each of you in my office tomorrow morning to give your statement.”
“We’ll be there,” Heyes said quickly. “Won’t we, Kid?”
“Uh, yeah, we’ll be there,” Curry agreed.
“Good. Then I’ll leave you all to go get some rest.” Sheriff Wilson nodded and left the room.
“Lom, I don’t know what to say,” Heyes said, as soon as the sheriff was gone.
“Well, you’d better say what he said,” Trevors inclined his head toward Donovan.
“…And what HE said,” Doc gestured back toward Lom.
Heyes and Curry slapped each other on the back, grinning from ear to ear. “Lom,” Heyes spoke for both of them, “we never knew you were such a good liar!”
Epilogue – A Few Weeks Later
Kid Curry turned his face to the sunny blue sky, and inhaled deeply of fresh, free mountain air. “Sure nice of Governor Zulick and Doc to throw that celebration for us before they went back to Arizona,” he remarked.
His horse plodded on. Heyes’ followed.
“Sure nice of Lom, too,” he went on, “comin’ back to Denver to congratulate us when Governor Moonlight made his public announcement. Lom and Doc took a big risk helpin’ us out. And Della and Mrs. Bertram, sendin’ us that telegram, wishin’ us well. Nice folks.”
They rode over hills, through wooded areas and meadows.
“And I’ve been thinkin’,” Curry continued, “about all the places we can go now, all the things we can do.”
This drew a mmm…” from Heyes.
“We could go see Silky in San Francisco, or Big Mac in Texas. We could even go back to Santa Marta if we wanted to, or China, or Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.”
The two riders stopped at a stream and dismounted, allowing their horses a rest.
“Somethin’ botherin’ you, Heyes?”
“‘Cause we been on the trail since sunup and you haven’t said more than two words.”
Heyes shrugged and shook his head. “Amnesty.”
“Yep,” the Kid agreed. He smiled, took a deep breath and exhaled, “Amnesty.” Curry turned pensive, kicked at a rock with the toe of his boot, and considered it a moment before he squatted down to pick it up. From his crouched position, he finally asked, “So, what should we do with our new-found freedom?”
When Heyes didn’t reply, Curry tossed the rock downstream. “We were always so busy, stayin’ one step ahead of bounty hunters, outrunnin’ posses, lookin’ for work, tryin’ to keep body and soul together, didn’t seem to be much time left for plannin’ our future.” He rose to face his partner. “So… what are you thinkin’? You got somethin’ in mind?”
Heyes turned and walked several paces away, chuckling. The chuckling became laughter.
“Did I say somethin’ funny?”
“Sorry, Kid. I’m not laughing at you, it’s just…”
“Just what?” Curry’s face was serious now. He took his partner’s elbow, turning him around.
Heyes’ expression sobered immediately. “Ever since we got our amnesty…It’s so strange.” He shook his head, “I got this image in my head that just won’t let up.”
“Like your whole life flashin’ right in front of ya, right?”
“No, as a matter of fact, it’s the floor plan to the Bank of Fort Worth.”
Their eyes locked for several moments. Slowly, a grin began to twitch at the corner of Curry’s mouth. The grin grew into a smile. “Heyes,” he laughed.
Heyes continued looking at the Kid, his countenance unchanged.
This time it was Curry’s expression that sobered. “You’re kiddin’,” he said with certainty, then checked. “Right?”
Without a word, Heyes mounted his horse and turned toward his partner.
“Heyes?” The Kid gathered his horse’s reins.
Heyes smiled, a full dimpled smile, his eyes sparkling with excitement. He let out a whoop, and his horse was at a gallop.
“Heyes? You’re kiddin’, right?” Curry called after him, placing his foot in the stirrup and swinging into the saddle. “I sure hope you’re kiddin’! Heyes!”
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.
All historical people and places are used fictitiously.