A Time to Every Purpose


A Time to Every Purpose

(Ecclesiastes 3)

Sheridan Wyoming – 1888

“What do you think he’ll say when he finds you’ve brought me back with you?”

What could his partner say?  Kid Curry could accept the fact that Hannibal Heyes had found a wife, couldn’t he?  Not just a temporary wife as a means to financial gain, but a ‘to have and to hold ’til death us do part’ kind of wife.

“Good luck?” Heyes’ tone was dubious.

“That doesn’t sound convincing.”

Heyes sighed.  “It’s not that I think he’ll object, Christina, but this marriage thing is just going to take a little getting used to, for all three of us.  The Kid’s been my partner for as long as I can remember.”  Heyes shook his head, trying to recall a time before Curry had been there.  “And now…”

Christina pulled her shoulders back, defensively.  “And now I step in to ruin the perfect partnership?”

“That’s not what I said.  Come here.”  Heyes put his arm around her and she rested her head against his shoulder as the train raced north.  “You know that’s not what I was thinking.  And I don’t mean to be the voice of gloom and doom here, Christina, but we’re all going to have some adjusting to do.”

She nodded against his shoulder.  “I don’t suppose there will be many societal gatherings in Sheridan, will there?”

“Oh, sure there will!” Heyes quickly countered.  “There’s the annual round-up celebration and a big hoop-la every Fourth of July, not to mention the seasonal slaughter-fest.”


“Uh-huh.”  He met her questioning gaze.  “Families from several ranches get together to share in the work of slaughtering a couple hogs.”

“And this is fun?”

Heyes shrugged.  “Not exactly ‘fun’ in itself, but better than having to do it alone, I guess.  See, some of the pork fat is stored for cooking, some of it is used to make soap, hams are smoked, along with slabs of bacon, and then the intestines are emptied so they can be refilled with…”

“Stop!”  Christina’s hand was over her mouth.  “Did I mention I’m a vegetarian?”

“Since when?”

“Since about two seconds ago!”

Heyes chuckled and tightened his grip on her shoulder.  “Anyway, Sheridan’s full of societal gatherings!”

“Sounds lovely,” Christina exaggerated.

“I’m not going to pretend this will be an easy adjustment for me either.”  He continued after a few moments’ pause.  “It’s going to be tough for me to change my ways.”

“You two went straight years ago.  Which ‘ways’ are we talking about?” she wondered, suspicion in her eyes.

“Not those ways.”  The hint of a blush colored Heyes’ cheeks.  “My days of consorting with women of questionable reputation are behind me.”  He raised his right hand in a solemn promise.

“Yes, they are!”   A threatening glare accompanied Christina’s declaration.

Heyes squirmed uncomfortably and moved on quickly.  “Okay, let’s say the Kid and I want to stay out all night playing cards.”

She raised an eyebrow and her finger teased at his collar.  “Are you going to want to play cards every night?”

He cleared his throat and shook his head, bringing his wayward thoughts back to safer ground.  “That’s not the point.  See, I’ve never had to answer to anyone before, Christina, and I have to say, I’m not looking forward to it now.  I’ve always done what I want, when I want.”

“But you and Jed always answered to each other, didn’t you?” she challenged.

“That’s not the same.”  Heyes shook his head.  “When the Kid backed me to a wall, I decked him.  And if I cornered him, he’d flatten me.”  He suddenly faced Christina with playful eyes, filled with mock-surprise.  “You’re not planning to flatten me, are you?”

She chuckled.  “That depends.  Maybe I’ll have Jed flatten you for me!”

They shared laughter and a kiss before his thoughts turned serious again.  “I’m afraid the Kid’s going to have to make the biggest adjustment of all.  He’s the one losing his partner.”

“That is the problem exactly!” Christina exclaimed, sitting upright.  She looked as if she would have begun pacing, if it hadn’t been for the swaying of the car.  “I don’t want Jed to lose his partner.  And I don’t want you to lose him!  In fact, I don’t want to take his place at all.  I just want…”  She stopped short in frustration.

“You want what?”

Her eyes held his and when she finally spoke, conviction rang with every word.  “I just want a place of my own.”  Her hand touched his chest.  “In here!  I don’t want to be JUST your partner, Hannibal.  I want to be your wife!”

His eyes softened with an overwhelming love.  “Don’t worry,” reassured Heyes.  “I’ve prepared all my arguments in defense of our marriage, or rather, in defense of our recent decision to make our marriage more than just a temporary business merger.  I’m going to convince the Kid that a Mrs. Heyes is the best asset the Pair-o-dice ranch could have.”

Christina raised a skeptical eyebrow and Heyes saw real worry in her dark eyes.  He took her hand.  “The Kid will be fine, Christina,” he stated, with more confidence than he felt.

She let out a deep breath.  “We’ll find out in a minute, won’t we?”  The train came to a halt and the two stepped onto the platform, only to be greeted by the partner in question.

“Heyes!”  A slap on the back served as Curry’s greeting.  “I brought the wagon, figurin’ Christina’d want all her stuff out to the ranch right away.”

“Huh?” from Heyes.

“She brought all her clothes and stuff, didn’t she?”

“Yeah, but, how’d you…”

“There you are!  Get over here an’ let me congratulate the bride proper!”

Christina was surprised at the exuberant embrace, which lifted both her feet off the ground, and a kiss, which would have been deemed inappropriate in her former social circles, but probably fitting for her new role as ‘almost sister-in-law’ of Kid Curry.

“Don’t see how all this stuff is gonna fit in the house right off, small as it is.”  The Kid waved a hand at the amassed pile of handbags and trunks.  “You’ll prob’ly need to store most of it in the barn, ’til we can build a bigger house for the two ‘a you,” Curry remarked, hoisting trunk after trunk onto the waiting wagon, assisted by a very quiet Hannibal Heyes.

“How did you know?” Heyes finally managed, as the wagon bumped its way out of town following the road leading toward the ranch.

“I didn’t KNOW, Heyes, not everything anyways.  I did know you weren’t stupid enough to let Christina get away, not if there was anything you could do to keep her around.  What I didn’t know for sure was if she would be willin’ to give up the life she’s used to livin’ just to stay married to you.”  An elbow poked Heyes’ side and a pair of eyebrows raised as the Kid glanced toward his partner.  “Guess you got under her skin too, eh, Heyes?  Just like I told ya!”

Heyes simply smiled and locked eyes with his wife.  Kid Curry had been right about Christina Newman Heyes.  And nothing could have made Hannibal Heyes happier!


A long whistle escaped Heyes’ pursed lips as the wagon pulled into the yard.  “Kid!  What did you do, hire a whole team of ranch hands to fix this place up?”

A small, run-down, one room cabin had stood on the property when Heyes and Curry purchased it, a ghost-like reminder of the failure of its previous homesteading occupants.  It was obvious the Kid had been busy with repairs since Heyes had last seen it.  Also, an existing bunkhouse along-side the barn boasted a new roof, and a new corral fence was in the process of being erected, replacing the broken down one that had already been removed.

“I been busy, Heyes.  If we’re takin’ a gamble on this place, I figure it’s gonna take some hard work to make it pay off.”

The three of them stepped onto the porch of the new Heyes homestead.  Two, newly-crafted chairs graced the porch.  Heyes sat in one of them, his long fingers caressing the chair’s arm.  “You built these!”  His eyes met Curry’s in a grateful exchange, his partner’s nod confirming the statement.

“Kind of a weddin’ present for you two.”  A wide smile accompanied Curry’s statement.

“They’re perfect!” Christina beamed her thanks.

“Well?  Ya gonna show her inside, Heyes?” Curry prompted, then, whispered some advice.  “I think a husband’s s’posta carry his new wife across the threshold.”

Heyes lifted Christina, the two of them giggling while Curry stood, proudly looking on.  As Heyes passed through the door to their new home, the shock of the sight which greeted him nearly caused him to drop his beloved bundle.

His memory of the cabin was vivid.  Dust had covered every surface, with cob webs gathered in every corner.  As his eyes adjusted to the light of the indoors, he set Christina down gently, his jaw dropping in awe.  A bed stood in one corner of the room, covered with fresh linens and a colorful, comfortable-looking quilt.  Matching curtains hung at the windows.  The old cook stove had been polished until its black surface shone.  A small table and chairs completed the cabin’s simple decor.

Heyes looked at his partner.  “You did this?”

“I had a little help with this part.”

“Who?” Heyes wondered.

“I’ll tell ya later,” Curry whispered, watching Christina admire each detail of her new home.

“How can I ever thank you, Jed?” Christina cried, turning to Curry with grateful eyes.

“Well, for starters, I’m hopin’ you’ll be cookin’ meals for me, as well as Heyes.”

“Definitely!” Christina promised.

“You know how to cook?” Heyes asked, surprised.

An eye roll accompanied her retort.  “I took first place in my school’s domestics competition.  Just you watch me!”  She moved to a cupboard and removed supplies, enough for a tasty dinner.  Then she studied the ancient stove, hands on hips.  “I guess the coal goes here?”  Christina fiddled with the door handle.  “You know, back in Chicago there were attendants who took care of… I never actually had to…” Christina bit her lip, glancing back at her audience of two.  “Could one of you show me how to get this thing started?”

“In Wyoming, we use wood,” Heyes informed.

“Or buffalo chips,” Curry mumbled.

“What are buffalo chips?”  Christina’s sense of culinary curiosity was peaked.  “Is that a local flavor enhancer, like hickory or mesquite?”

“Oh they got a distinct flavor alright…” the Kid began.

“Never mind!” Heyes cut in.  “We’ll be using wood.”  He bent to demonstrate.

Christina took notes as Heyes lit the fire, paying close attention, admiring her husband’s talents with newlywed awe.  “Guess I have a few things to learn about being the wife of a Wyoming rancher,” she remarked, appreciating a few of her husband’s other varied assets as he stood and pulled her close.  Then, forgetting they were not alone, she thanked him for his gentle instruction, igniting a different kind of fire in the process.

Curry rolled his eyes, “Sheesh!”  He shook his head and made his way to the bunkhouse, muttering, “Somehow I don’t think this supper is gonna be worth the wait!”


Later, the two men stashed Christina’s excess trunks in the loft.  “You sure you’re alright living in the bunkhouse for now, Kid?  I hate to think of you evicted from your own home.”

“It’s not so bad, Heyes.  The roof don’t leak anymore.  It’s clean and the bed’s soft.  I got no complaints.”

“As long as you’re sure.  And it’s just until we can build a bigger house, right?”

The Kid nodded agreement.

When they had lifted the final trunk into place, Heyes pressed Curry for details on his redecorating secret.  “So?  Who’d you get to fix the cabin up so nice?”

“Ya know that little establishment in town?  The one where we celebrated our findin’ of this place?”

“Yeah, Miz Delilah’s Saloon.  I remember.”

“Well, Delilah an’ some ‘a the women she’s got workin’ at her place are real nice, Heyes.”

“I’ll bet they are, Kid,” he replied, with a knowing smile.

“An’ they seemed real anxious to help out, when I told ’em I was lookin’ for a woman’s touch in fixin’ up the cabin.”

“I’ll bet they were!”  Heyes wiped at his grin, imagining Christina’s reaction when she discovered her home had been furnished by the women of the local brothel.

“They did a real nice job, cleanin’, decoratin’ and stockin’ the place, don’t ya think?”

“I’ll bet they’d do a real nice job of just about anything if you paid them enough, Kid.”

“Uh-huh.”  A smile tugged at one corner of Kid Curry’s mouth.


A low rumble of thunder seemed to announce the arrival of a stranger in Sheridan.  The lone rider stepped out of the livery, after paying the owner to see to the needs of his horse.  His footfalls landed in a steady beat down the boardwalk toward the local saloon–Miz Delilah’s.

Just before the sky opened up, he pushed through the bat-wing doors and bellied up to the bar.  “Whiskey!” he demanded.

The bartender complied, waiting for payment before he turned away.

The stranger leaned back against the bar, resting one dirty boot against the brass foot rail and surveyed the room.  A small-stakes poker game commenced in one corner.  Several other tables were occupied with men he presumed were local ranch hands.  A handful of working women floated from table to table, serving drinks.

One of them sauntered his way.  “I’m Alona,” she purred.  “Somethin’ I can do for you, stranger?”

“Could be.”  He raked his eyes over her, from head to toe and back again.

“What you got in mind?”  Her dark eyes measured the character of the man.

“I’m lookin’ for someone.  Kid Curry.  Know where I can find him?”

“Nothin’ I can do for you, mister,” Alona stated flatly, pushing away from the man’s side.

He grabbed her.  “You’re lyin’ to me!”

“Let go of me!” she hissed, pulling her arm from his grip.

“This fella causin’ you a problem, Alona?”  Delilah moved between them.

“Ain’t nothin’ here for him, Delilah.”  She rubbed at the five red fingerprints marking her skin, that would probably be bruises by morning.

“Just lookin’ for someone an’ this lady…”  The look of disgust he shot Alona’s way assured her that he didn’t consider her a lady of any sort.  “Don’t wanna help me.”

“Who ya lookin’ for, stranger?”

“Kid Curry,” he repeated.

It was Delilah’s turn to look the man up and down, taking in his dangerous demeanor.  “Nope.  Alona was right.  Nothin’ here for you.”

The man raised his voice, so everyone in the saloon could hear.  “Listen up!  I’m lookin’ for Kid Curry.  Any ‘a you folk know where to find him, I want ya to deliver him a message.  The name’s Drake Colton.  Known as ‘Colt’ to some.”  He gestured to the weapon strapped to his own hip.  “For obvious reasons.  Ya can tell Curry I’m waitin’ for him in town.  He’ll know why I’m here.”  His finger traced lightly across Alona’s cheek and she pushed it away.  “Don’t ya forget ta tell him for me, honey.”  He pushed past the women and made his way out door.


“Hello!” Christina called to the woman who drove a carriage into the yard.

“You must be Mrs. Heyes.”

“That’s right.  And you are?”

“Most folks just know me as Delilah,” she answered, her eyes dropping.

“Miz Delilah!  A pleasure to meet you!  Welcome to Pair-o-dice.”

Both Heyes and Curry stopped their work on the corral fence and moved toward the carriage which had stopped near the cabin.  As they drew closer, each man heard Christina’s cheerful voice.

“I understand you and your friends were instrumental in the decorating of my home.  I can’t thank you enough.”

Curry delivered a questioning glance toward Heyes.  “You told Christina ’bout Delilah and the gals fixin’ up the cabin?”

Heyes shrugged his apology.  “She’s got a knack for getting the truth out of me, Kid.”

“It was our pleasure, ma’am,” Delilah responded, taken aback at the warm welcome from Mrs. Heyes.  As a saloon woman, Delilah didn’t have much experience in paying calls at the homes of customers.  Correction.  Delilah had NEVER before visited the home of a customer, but she certainly hadn’t expected the cordial greeting she received here.

“Delilah!” Curry welcomed her with a smile.  “What brings you all the way out here?”

“A man showed up at the saloon last night.  Thought you’d want to know.”

“Drake Colton?”  Heyes repeated the name after Delilah relayed the reason for her visit to the ranch.

“That’s what he said.”

“Don’t remember you ever having a grudge with anyone by that name, Kid.”

“It ain’t a grudge.”  Curry’s eyes had darkened, his words were cold and flat as he spoke them.  “Colt Colton’s a gunfighter, lookin’ to make a name for himself.”  He tipped his head toward Delilah.  “‘Preciate you lettin’ me know.”

The Kid turned without another word, leaving Heyes and Christina to say goodbye to their visitor as he walked toward the barn.  Delilah flicked at the reins, turning her carriage back toward town.

Heyes followed the Kid, only a few steps behind his partner.  Christina followed Heyes, only a few steps behind her husband.  Curry was already leading his horse from its stall, preparing to saddle her.

“What are you doing?” Heyes asked.

“Goin’ for a ride.”

“Not into town, you’re not!” Heyes insisted.

Wordlessly, Curry continued saddling his mount.

“Oh, please, Jed!  Please don’t go looking for trouble!”

“I’m not lookin’ for trouble, Christina!  Trouble just seems to have a way of findin’ me.”

“Don’t go,” she pleaded.  “Stay here!  Surely he won’t seek you out at your home!”

Curry’s eyes met Heyes’, then moved to Christina.  “I’m not gonna  hide from him, if that’s what you’re suggestin’.”

“Kid.”  Heyes’ voice was low, his eyes begging his partner to reconsider.

“And I’m not ridin’ into town, Heyes.  Not yet anyways.  I’m just lookin’ for a quiet place to think.   ‘Cause it’s plain to see, a man’s not free to do his thinkin’ here!”


Christina had fallen into a restless sleep, but Heyes lay wide awake, listening for the sound of the Kid’s horse, returning from his ride.  Finally, well after midnight, his wait was over.  He joined Curry in the barn.

“I was getting worried, Kid.”

“Thought you knew better than to worry about me.”

“Wanna talk about it?”

“What do you want me to say, Heyes?  You want me to hide from this guy?  You want me to tell you that I’m still fast enough to take him?  Or maybe that I’m scared I’ve lost my nerve after what happened last time?”  The Kid’s voice grew louder with each question.

“I just want you to talk to me, Kid.  Like you’ve always done before.”

“Things are different now, Heyes.  With Danny Bilson, with Joe Briggs, and all the others, things were different.”

“Not so different, Kid!  I’m still here!  We’re still partners!”

“But you got another partner to think about now, Heyes!” Curry exploded.  “What if this Colton decides to come out here, to the ranch?  Or what about the next gunman who comes lookin’ for me, or the one after that?”  Anger still seethed, but the Kid’s volume softened.  “What if one of ’em finds Christina, before he finds you or me?  What then?”  The blue eyes closed in a painful memory.  “That’s somethin’ I can’t live with, Heyes.  I made that mistake once before and I’m NOT gonna let it happen again!”

The fire in Kid’s eyes reminded Heyes of the more desperate days of  Curry’s youth.  In the past, that fire had kept them both alive.  Now, Heyes feared it would consume his partner.

“So you’re planning to call him out.”

“I’m not callin’ him out!”  When the Kid’s anger subsided, he continued, but his voice carried a chill, even more frightening than the fire.  “I’m goin’ into town tomorrow.  If Colton chooses to call me out…”  He shrugged.  “You know what the Good Book says, Heyes.  There’s a time for everything.  A time to be born and a time to…”

“I know what it says!” Heyes snapped, frustration or fear getting the better of him.

From the dark place Curry had entered, no more words were spoken.  The answer had come to him, long after the sun set, in the stillness, whispered on the winds of the night.  Whispered in Madelyn’s voice from beyond her grave, deep in the cold Mackinac earth.  He saw her face, her fear.  He saw the gunman, the man he could have killed, should have killed, the man who took her life.  He saw Madelyn’s blood–on his hands.

“I’m not gonna let it happen again!”  It was his vow, his resolve.  This was Heyes’ chance for a future, a future with Christina and any children they might have together.  A future, free from fear, free from the threat of danger lurking behind the arrival of every stranger.

“And nothing I say is going to stop you?”

The Kid pushed past Heyes and walked to the bunkhouse to clean his gun, perhaps for the final time.


“You lookin’ for me, Colton?”

“‘Bout time you showed your face.”

The two men stood on the main street of Sheridan.  A small crowd began to gather, sensing trouble looming like a storm cloud.

“Say what you got to say, Colton.  I’m listenin’.”  Curry tucked both thumbs comfortably into his gun belt.

“I didn’t come to say nothin’.  I come to claim somethin’.  Somethin’ you got.  Somethin’ I want.”

“And what’s that?”

“Your title!  Fastest gun in the west!  Prove it!  Now!”

The Kid laughed.  “It’s not a title I ever laid claim to, Colton.  Just a legend one ‘a them dime novel writers saddled me with.  You want a title?  Get one of ’em to write a novel about you.”

“They will!  When I done what I come to do, they will!”

“Don’t know if ya heard, Colton, but I’m retired, amnestied for about a year now.  Both me and my partner.”  He nodded toward Heyes and Christina who stood on the boardwalk with a small group of people in front of a sign that read, ‘Sheridan Tidings’.  “We’re not lookin’ for trouble.  We’re ranchin’ now.  Just a couple ‘a peaceable men.”

As Kid Curry spoke, he slowly moved his left hand, raising his right hand into the air.  He unbuckled the belt, letting it slip from his hips and tossed it away from him, into the dirt.  “Lotta people watchin’, Colton.  You gonna shoot an unarmed man?  Not much glory in that.”

“Pick it up!” Colton ordered, his hand shaking near his own gun.  “Put that belt on and draw!”

“I got no quarrel with you, Colton, and I’m not gonna draw.  You want me dead?  You’re gonna hafta shoot.”

“I said, pick it up!”

There was no verbal response from the Kid, but he took one step toward the sweating gunman.  A shot rang out, causing Curry to stagger backward a step as the bullet ripped into his left shoulder.

Heyes started to make a move into the street, but Curry’s stony glare riveted him to the place he stood–beside his wife, as it should be.

“Don’t think you really wanna kill me, Colton.  Not like this,” he insisted, once again taking a step toward his opponent.

“Stop!  Don’t come no closer!” the man cried, his confidence, as well as his voice, beginning to falter.  His shaking hand still pointed the weapon at Curry.

“I’m not a gunfighter any more, Colton.  Laid down my gun.  How about you layin’ down yours?”  He continued, slowly approaching the frightened man until he stopped about an arm’s length in front of him.

“You’re crazy!  I could kill you!”

“You’re right,” Curry admitted.  “But I don’t think you’re gonna.”

Colt Colton raised his weapon higher, toward Curry’s head.  Kid Curry stood fast, surrendered to his fate.  He pictured Heyes and Christina, free of his gunman reputation.  Free to pursue their life and raise a family.

The street was so still, so silent that Jed Curry could hear the beating of his own heart, as it thumped a slow, steady rhythm.  He felt no fear, only an inner peace with whatever the next moment might bring.

Drake Colton stood in front of him, sweating, shaking.  Then, the man’s hand dropped, still holding the gun.  Jed reached for the weapon and tossed it away, into the dirt.

Placing his right hand on the former gunman’s shoulder, Jed moved both of them toward the small group in front of the ‘Sheridan Tidings’.

“Heyes, Christina, Mr. Editor of the newspaper, I want ya all to meet someone.  This here’s Drake Colton.  The two of us did some decidin’ today.  Buried a couple ‘a gunman reputations, along with a name I won’t be usin’ any more.  As of today, ‘Kid’ Curry don’t live here in Sheridan.  He’s gone.  Only man left is a man ‘a peace, Jed Curry, Rancher.  I hope you’ll see fit to be publishin’ that in your paper, sir.”

Jed turned to walk away, supported by Heyes on one side and Christina on the other.  As they passed the weapon ‘Kid’ Curry had left behind, forgotten in the street, Heyes bent to retrieve it.

“I’m not gonna be needin’ that anymore, Heyes.”  Curry’s simple words carried with them a tremendous feeling of release, liberation.  Freedom.

“Whatever you say, Jed.  But for now, let’s get that shoulder looked at and get you home!”


Jed and Christina sat on the porch, sipping lemonade and watching Heyes make his third trip from the wagon to the storeroom, carrying supplies.

“How long you think, ‘fore he figures I milked this injury far as it’ll go?”

“I’d say you got a week or so of easy living yet, Jed, before he puts a stop to it.”

Curry only smiled and slouched back in his chair, adjusting the sling on his left arm and resting both feet on the porch rail.

“So, Hannibal tells me you two decided we’re raising horses here at Pair-o-dice.”

“Yup.  Gonna raise us a few horses.  Not too many to start with.  Gonna build the business up, slow but steady.”

“I still think the safer money would be in cattle.”

“Safer?”  Curry’s tone was incredulous.  “How do you figure, Christina?  Got range wars ragin’, on all sides of us!”

“True.  There are the range disputes to consider.”

“Once things settle down some, once cattle are bein’ shipped regular outta Sheridan by rail, then, maybe.  But for now, I’m content to raise a few horses, train ’em, maybe do a little wood-workin’ on the side.”

“Do you think he is?”  Christina’s gaze took in her husband, hard at work.

Jed shifted his eyes to look directly at Christina.  “Content?”

Christina’s eyes dropped and she shrugged.  “On the ranch I mean.  Raising a few horses…”  Finally, she lifted her head, voicing her real concern.  “Being married.”

Jed leaned toward her and placed a hand of understanding on her shoulder.  “He’s content enough, don’t you worry about that.  And Christina, if he ever gets that urge to roam, he’s gonna be takin’ you with him.”  He gave her a wink and a smile.  “No question.”

Christina fell into contemplative thought.  “He’s a tough man to know,” she mumbled, more to herself than to the man who sat at her side, but he heard and answered.

“Sure is.  Though once ya get the hang of it, he ain’t near as mysterious as he likes to think he is.”

“You mean there’s still hope I’ll learn to understand him?”

“Understand him?  Never.  Just gotta learn to read when it’s time to speak up, or when it’s better to keep quiet.  With a little luck it should only take… Well, it took me the better part of thirty years.  But you, you’re a quick learner, Christina, and you have one advantage I never had.”

“What’s that?”

“You got me here to help you!”

She smiled her thanks.  “And what about you?”

“Me what?”

“Are you really content to be alone?  Don’t you think you’ll ever decide to settle down, find yourself a wife, have a few children?”

A loud laugh from Curry caused Heyes’ head to turn in their direction before resuming his work.

Curry shook his head, in answer to her question.  “Christina, you and Heyes are some kind ‘a once in a lifetime fluke.”

As his laughter faded, his expression grew somber.  Without conscious thought, he fingered the gold band hanging from a chain around his neck, hidden beneath the fabric of his blue shirt.  Maybe one day he would find the words to tell Christina about the once in a lifetime fluke he had found with Madelyn.  About the dreams of family and future that he had buried along with her.  For now, he held her memory, safe, next to his heart, carefully guarded by his silence.

“We’ll see,” Christina pledged.  “I’m telling you now, one day, some special woman’s going to come along and you’re going to feel like you’ve been struck by a bolt of lightning!  And then… Just you wait and see, Jed Curry!  Just you wait and see!”

Struck by a bolt of lightning.  The fact that it had happened once in his crazy life was a miracle in itself.  The chances of him finding someone like Madelyn a second time?  Impossible.  Everyone knows, lightning never strikes twice.

Another story in The Sheridan Collection:  Alias ‘Kid Curry’

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.

February 2010

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