Mackinac – Part Two

Note – 11/2013 This story is currently undergoing reconstruction but is posted here in its entirety.

Lilacs 2

Mackinac – Part Two

The tongue of Hannibal Heyes, though silver, proved ineffective.  Kid Curry’s mind was made up.  Heyes resigned himself instead to helping his partner with the whole ridiculous plan to (insert reconstructed paragraph)
It was decided that Madelyn and Amy would be informed of the suspicions against Jonathon.  Madelyn sat stiff and still with Kid next to her on one side and Amy on the other as Heyes began pacing the floor.  The room seemed to be closing in on Madelyn, the air supply running low.

“This is kind of hard to explain Madelyn, so please don’t say anything until I’m finished,” Heyes started.

“Agreed.”  Madelyn sat, eyes fixed on Heyes waiting for him to begin.

“Petersen asked me to have a look at the hotel ledgers a while back.  He was having some trouble making them balance and some interesting discrepancies came to our attention.”

Madelyn bit her lip, wanting to ask any number of questions but remembering her promise, waited until Heyes was through.

“It appears that someone has been stealing money from the hotel accounts.”  He paused, “The money started disappearing a little over year ago.”

Kid noticed the color drain from Maddie’s face and he took her hand in his.  She held it firmly.
“The way things sit right now, it looks like Jonathon stole a significant amount of money,” Heyes watched her face, “or, someone went to a lot of trouble to make it look like Jonathon stole it.”

Madelyn sat for a moment, making sure Heyes was done.  She studied their faces.  Did they all believe her Jonathon was a thief?  Her eyes finally settled on Kid. “He didn’t do it, Jed.”

“I already know that, Maddie.”

Madelyn turned to Heyes and Amy, “Jonathon was an honorable man.” Tears began to well up in her eyes as she spoke.   “He wanted this hotel to succeed more than anything.  It was his dream.  He never would have done it.”  Kid could feel her trembling, fighting for control.

“We know that too, Madelyn,” Heyes answered for both himself and Amy, “and Kid and I think we know who did.”  Without waiting for her to ask, Heyes answered her question, “Edgar Schultz.”

“We need to tell Henrik right away.”

“He already knows too, Maddie. In fact, he has suspected Schultz from the beginning.  Now we just need the proof,” Kid told her.

“Mr. Schultz?  Took money and blamed Jonathon?”  She was standing now, getting angrier by the moment.  “So what can we do about it?” Maddie asked all three of them.

“Heyes and me got a plan all worked out,” Kid answered.  It was almost true.  He and Heyes were working on a plan together.  The details weren’t in place yet, but they’d figure out a way.  They always did.

Suddenly realizing what their “planning” might mean, Madelyn quickly burst in, “You can’t!  You wouldn’t do anything…illegal, would you?  The amnesty…”  Her words trailed off.  She wouldn’t let them risk their freedom for Jonathon’s sake… or hers.

Heyes spoke up quickly.  “Now Maddie, we just got our amnesty and we don’t intend to lose it just yet.  Ya gotta have a little faith!
***
Edgar Schultz’s home office was located on the second floor at the rear of the summer home.  Kid and Heyes waited in the bushes outside until they felt it was safe then, wordlessly, carried out their plan.  Kid watched his partner’s back carefully as Heyes inched his way up the tall tree and through the branches, successfully pushing the window open. Kid followed only a few moments behind and quietly eased the window shut again.

The moon cast enough of a glow into the office that no other light was necessary for them to search for the safe.  It didn’t take long before Heyes found it in a closet.

Kid took up the watch, looking both toward the door of the room and out the window, alert for any sign of trouble.

Heyes set his mind and ears to the task of opening the safe.

He hadn’t been at it too long when his concentration was disturbed by an almost silent commotion in the room.  He opened his eyes and strained his neck around the doorframe of the closet to see…Amy!  Amy, being hauled through the window and dumped to the floor by Kid.

“Amy!  What do ya think you’re doin’?” Kid hissed, at the same time she was “Shhh’shing” him.  “Someone could have seen you come up here!”

“Sorry Kid, I got so worried…”  She scanned the room.  Spotting Heyes’ foot sticking out of the closet, she crossed and whispered to him, “You haven’t gotten it open yet?”

“I’m workin’ on it, Amy.  Maybe if you’d be quiet I could do just that?” He closed his eyes and went back to work.

Kid quietly closed the window…again.  Just then, he heard footsteps in the hallway.  Crossing the room with three quick and quiet strides, Kid shoved Amy into the closet with Heyes and shut the door behind them.  His eyes darted around the room, looking for his own hiding spot.  Just as the door swung open, Kid tucked himself behind the velvet curtain.

When Schultz lit a lamp, enough light came under the door for Amy to take in her surroundings.  It was extremely cramped in the closet.  It would have been cramped even without the presence of the heavy safe.  Heyes had been seated on the floor in front of it, ear pressed against the cold metal before Amy so abruptly joined him.

She attempted to situate herself, quietly, into a more comfortable position. Her landing after Kid’s shove had been of the face first variety. Her feet still touched the floor, but her knees were pressed firmly into Heyes’ shoulders, her skirts making a tent over his face.  Her body was bent forward at the waist, her head resting on Heyes’ back.

Amy tried to push herself into an upright position.  At the same time, Heyes was attempting to free his head from the ruffles of Amy’s skirt.  The two actions seemed at odds with each other.  Neither was having much success.

It was Heyes who won out in the end.  With his head free he was able to take stock of their situation.  Surely he and Kid had been in more awkward positions than this together, though he couldn’t think of any right now.  With the goal of ultimate quiet foremost in his mind, Heyes slid his hands toward Amy’s hips, pushing gently up and forward.  Amy joined him, pushing herself up from the floor behind.

Feeling in control once again, Amy fluffed at her hair which had come unpinned during the struggle.  Heyes resumed his work opening the safe.

Amy watched in awe.  His face was a picture of concentration, slender fingers caressing the dial.  She quietly knelt beside him and continued to watch the great Hannibal Heyes perform the act which had made him a legend.   As the moments ticked by, Amy realized she was witnessing an event few others, with the exception of Kid Curry, had ever seen. A smile indicated her appreciation of the privilege.

Silently, Heyes pulled the lever down and opened the safe’s door just a crack.  There was no room to open it further.
The thrill of opening a safe was hard to equal.  Heyes saw his own excitement mirrored in Amy’s eyes, even in the dim light of the closet.  He hadn’t intended to share the art of ‘safe-cracking’ with her, but now that he had, he thought of the many other things he’d like to share with this woman.  He pulled her closer, until she was seated comfortably on his lap.  Then, still being extremely quiet, he did something he’d never done on a bank job with Kid.  His face next to hers, without a word, he began kissing her forehead, her cheeks, his mouth finally finding hers.

Meanwhile Kid, still hidden behind the curtains, looked between the folds of material and saw Schultz unlock a desk drawer and take something out.  He couldn’t tell what it was, but it was something kept way in the back judging by Schultz’s reach.  Schultz then closed the drawer, relocked it, extinguished the lamp and left the room.

Carefully Kid peeked out, making sure the coast was clear.  He quietly moved toward the closet door and opened it.

It appeared his partner had made productive use of his time.  “Heyes!” he whispered.

No response.

“Heyes!” he tried again, a little louder.

Kid gave up and tapped his partner’s hand, which was making its way slowly up Amy’s back.

“Hmmm?” Heyes quickly regained his composure.

Kid glared at him, “This is no time for that!” he chided.

Amy moved off Heyes’ lap and he pushed the door of the safe completely open.  Kid’s scowl was replaced with a wide grin.

Just as they suspected, there was another set of ledgers hidden in the safe.  A quick glance showed Heyes what he needed.  Several deposits had been made to a separate account held by Schultz, along with one large withdrawal.  The withdrawal was dated almost exactly one year ago.

He carefully placed the ledgers back into the safe and closed the door.
***
Back at the cottage Madelyn nervously paced the floor, crossing to the window for the third time in as many minutes to pull back the curtain and gaze out onto an empty porch.
“I’m sure they’re fine Madelyn, these things take time,” Henrik said.  “Not that I’ve ever robbed a safe before, but I’m sure it must take time to open one without the combination.”
Henrik’s words did nothing to calm Madelyn’s racing thoughts.  Where were they?  What was taking so long?  And, where was Amy?  She should have been back from the theater long ago.
***
Heyes’ feet were the first to hit the ground after they exited the second floor window and climbed their way slowly back down the tree, more difficult in a dress than Amy had anticipated.  Heyes reached up and lifted her the rest of the way down. Kid released his grip on Amy’s hand and swung down just before they heard the noise at the front of the house.
Schultz was leaving!  This was an odd time to be going out for the evening.  Kid and Heyes pressed themselves and Amy against the back of the building, three heads straining forward in an attempt to see what Schultz was up to without being discovered.
“I’m gonna follow him,” Kid whispered.
Heyes held Kid’s arm, “I got a bad feelin’, Kid, I’m comin’ with you.”
Kid’s eyes moved from Heyes to Amy then, back to Heyes.  He shook his head.
Heyes continued to hold Kid’s arm, but spoke to Amy, “Listen to me.  Kid’s gonna follow Schultz and it could be dangerous.  If you insist on followin’ us again, I’m gonna have to take you home, which will leave Kid alone in a dangerous situation.  I don’t think you want that.”
Amy shook her head.
“Good.  We’ll meet you back at the cottage when we can.”
Amy squeezed his hand before he and Kid left.  She hoped the simple gesture conveyed her thoughts. “Be careful… and…I love you.”
***
Madelyn rushed to the door when she heard the squeak of the front porch step.  “Amy, where have you been?”  She was relieved to see her friend, but still very concerned over the long absence of Kid and Heyes.
“I didn’t come directly home from the theater.”
As she began relaying her story to Madelyn and Henrik, she realized how ridiculous giving in to her impulse to join Heyes and Kid had been.  She flushed at her own thoughtlessness.  How selfish!  She had risked putting them all in danger.
“…but they found the second ledger with proof of accounts held in Schultz’s name and also a large withdrawal last year.”
“Where are they now, Amy?  Why didn’t they come back with you?” Henrik asked, growing concern in his voice.
Madelyn sat down, a worried hand on her forehead when Amy told them where Kid and Heyes had gone and what Heyes had said about danger.   A silent plea rose in her heart.  ”Please, keep them safe!”
***
Edgar Schultz hurried through the darkness.  The wind was really beginning to blow.  Could be a storm was headed this way.  He needed to hurry if he was to arrive at the meeting place before Smith and rid himself of the man once and for all.  Smith thought he’d be coming to collect on the money due him.  He’d get his due alright.
Kid and Heyes followed, some distance behind.
“Still got that bad feelin’, Heyes?” Kid asked, sure Schultz couldn’t hear him from this distance.
“Something’s bothering me about that ledger, Kid,” Heyes whispered.  “The deposits into the other accounts were made regularly in small amounts.  Why one big withdrawal?”
“I don’t know.  Bought his house, maybe?” Kid attempted.
“Could be.  Somethin’ just don’t sound right about the whole thing.”
“Maybe somebody figured out he was embezzling those funds.  Maybe it was money to keep somebody quiet.”
Kid barely had the words out when Heyes stopped him, “That’s it, Kid!  You’re a genius!  Musta rubbed off, spendin’ all these years around me.”
Kid gave Heyes a puzzled look and Heyes went on, “Somebody figured out what Schultz was up to alright, Jonathon Kraus!  And Schultz paid somebody to keep him quiet…for good!”
Kid followed Heyes’ thoughts.  “Schultz planned that train robbery to cover up Jonathon’s murder!”
***
Smith arrived at bluffs, the designated meeting spot, well before the allotted time.  Rumbles of thunder could be heard in the distance. He didn’t trust Schultz, didn’t really believe he’d be bringing the money with him tonight.  So, Smith would be waiting for him.
From his place in the bushes he saw Schultz arrive, saw Schultz check for a gun in his jacket pocket.  He was right, Schultz had come here to kill him, not to pay him.  That’s when Smith made his move.
Smith stepped out from his hiding place, gun in hand.  “Yer early Schultz.  Tryin’ to beat me here, I’d guess.  Ya did bring the money?”
“Got it right here,” Schultz lied.
Knowing he had no chance now at surprise, no chance to out-draw the man with a gun already aimed in his direction, Schultz lunged forward.  The two men struggled with each other for only a moment before Smith’s gun fired and one man fell from the bluffs.
Schultz’s body landed with a sickening thud on the rocks below.
Kid and Heyes watched from a distance, hidden in the bushes, shocked at what they’d just seen.  They expected to see Schultz making a payoff of some kind.  They hadn’t expected to witness a murder.
The killer looked over the cliff. Schultz’s lifeless body lay below, the waves crashing around it, slowly pulling him out into the Straits.  He turned and ran back toward town, putting as much distance between himself and the body as he could.  His path took him directly past the bush concealing two former outlaws, close enough for Heyes to recognize him as the man who worked on the stage crew at the theater.  Smith!

Chapter Eight
The storm was blowing full force by the time Kid and Heyes arrived back at the cottage.  Madelyn was the first to see them coming from her post at the window.  She had given up her pacing an hour ago and stood waiting, willing them to arrive safely.  She and Amy greeted both men with hugs, almost before they’d made it in the door.
“What happened?” Henrik could stand the waiting no longer.
Heyes told all three of them about the murder he and Kid had just witnessed.  “We need to get word to the sheriff on the mainland right away, before Smith leaves the island.”
“I’m afraid no one’s going anywhere in this storm, gentlemen.  There’s no way off this island tonight, not for us or Smith.”
“Why would Smith just up and kill Schultz like that?  It doesn’t make any sense,” Amy wondered.
Heyes exchanged a look with Kid.  A silent agreement passed between them.  Kid should be the one to tell Madelyn and the others their suspicions.  He took Maddie’s hand and sat.
“We don’t have proof, this is only a suspicion, but me and Heyes don’t see how it can be anything else.”  He took a deep breath and went on, “We think that Jonathon found out what Schultz was up to.  Schultz not only tried to pin the embezzling on him, but also hired someone to rob that train he was on last fall.”  Kid’s eyes held Madelyn’s, “We think he hired someone to murder Jonathon and make it look like part of the robbery.”  Madelyn sat still and silent as Kid finished, “We think Schultz hired Smith.  Maybe they had some kind of disagreement about his payment, but Smith killed him tonight and me and Heyes saw it.”
Madelyn rose and left the room.  Kid followed her to the kitchen.  If he’d expected to pick up the crumbling pieces of the wife of the late Jonathon Kraus, he was mistaken.  As soon as they were alone she wrapped her arms around Kid’s neck.
“Thank God you’re safe!” she clung to him, worry and fear finally giving way to relief.
“Promise me you’ll stay far away from Smith. He’s already killed Jonathon and Schultz.  I want you safe, Jed!”
Kid didn’t know if he could make that promise to Madelyn, though he wished he could.  He also thought now might not be the best time to tell her that, so he simply held her.
He kissed her hair softly and tried to lighten her spirits, “Nice to have you worryin’ about me, Maddie.  If you’re not careful I could get used to it real quick.”
When Kid and Madelyn rejoined the group.  Henrik was pacing the floor.  His voice sounded angry.
“…there’s proof of Schultz’s embezzlement in the ledgers and you two witnessed Smith killing Schultz, but I sure would like to prove that Smith and Schultz acted together in Jonathon’s murder!”
“Maybe there’s a way,” Heyes said, and Kid recognized the familiar gleam of a budding plan in his partner’s eyes.
“What if we encouraged Smith to stay, just long enough to get that proof?”  Heyes’ smile was growing wider.  “But I’ll need your help Henrik and Mr. Edison’s too.”
***
Early the next morning, before the first ferry had left for the mainland, Henrik Petersen arrived at the boarding house where stage hands resided.  He located Smith’s room with minimal assistance.  He knocked and Smith answered, looking tired and sounding irritable.
“I have a business proposition for you Mr. Smith,” Henrik told the man.
“I already got a job at the theater, don’t need no job at no hotel,” Smith responded in a gruff tone.
Henrik stopped the closing door with his foot.  “That’s not the type of job I had in mind.  You did some work a while back for an associate of mine, Edgar Schultz.”
He noticed how Smith tensed at the mention of the name.
“I presume Mr. Schultz must have had some business on the mainland,” Henrik deliberately lied, hoping to lull the murderer into a false sense of security.  “I was hoping we could discuss a matter of business while he is away.”
“What kinda business ya got in mind?” Smith asked, taking the bait.
“Meet me at the stables, today at 3:00.  I’ll give you all the details then.”
Smith agreed.
***
“That’s about it, Mr. Edison.” Albert crawled out from beneath the strange contraption they were putting together. He brushed the dust from his sleeves and got a hand up from Heyes.
“You’ve been more help than you know, my boy!”  Edison told him.  Heyes smiled too and Albert beamed at their praise.

Thomas Edison had enjoyed his time spent at the Grand Hotel.  Enjoyed showing the guests his new creations, enjoyed answering the questions of eager young children.  His unexpected enjoyment had been watching the inner workings of the mind of this man, Hannibal Heyes. His plan was brilliant!  Everything was ready.

Albert returned to his work leaving Heyes and Edison alone.
”Heyes, I’d like you to think about visiting me at my workshop.  The summer is almost over and there are some things I’d like to show you, get your ideas about a few projects.  What do you say?”

Heyes knew he needed to finish the season here on Mackinac while he and Kid completed their assignment.  But as soon as his responsibilities here were finished, there would be nothing to stand in his way.

“I’d say, there’s nothing I’d like better, Mr. Edison!  Thank you!”  He was truly honored at the offer.  An opportunity to learn from the man he’d come to admire was more than he could have hoped for.

The two shook hands, Heyes promising to make the arrangements as soon as he could.
***
Amy stood alone with Heyes just outside his office before the men left to carry out their plan. “You know Maddie and I will do anything to help you,” she assured him.
“The best thing you two can do for us is stay here and run this hotel like it needs to be run.  Don’t forget, tonight’s the closing celebration.”
“How could I forget? You’ll save a dance for me?” she teased.
***
Kid and Madelyn stood together near his desk, “I need to do this Maddie.  And I need you to understand why I’m doin’ it.”
He had brought the sheriff back to the island on the first available ferry and was now strapping on his gun, this time, not for a shooting demonstration.  Did he understand how much he meant to her?  Did he understand how much this Smith had already taken from her?
Madelyn and Amy had talked about it last night after the men left the cottage.  A woman didn’t get involved with a man like Hannibal Heyes or Kid Curry without knowing there would be certain risks.  She supposed she’d need to accept the risks, since there was no way she’d be turning her back on the man now that she’d found him.
“I understand,” was her simple answer.
“Me and Heyes have done this kind of thing before.”  A comforting hand pulled her close.  “I promise, Maddie, everything’s gonna turn out just fine.”
She held him, clinging to his words of promise.
***
At precisely ten minutes before three, Smith arrived at the stables.  Things looked quiet enough.  Didn’t look like a trap to him.  He entered the barn and waited.
At exactly 3:00 Henrik entered.
“So what’s this job you got for me?” Smith got right down to business.
“I want to hire you to do the same kind of job for me that you did for Schultz,” Henrik began.  “I’m talking about murder.”
“Schultz tell you that?”
“He did,” Henrik nodded.  “Said he paid you a thousand to rob a train, kill Jonathon Kraus and make it look like part of the robbery.”
“Yeah, he would tell it that way!  The deal was supposed to be a thousand to rob the train, plus anything I stole, then another thousand if I killed Kraus.  It was that second thousand he kinda forgot about.”
Henrik was shaking inside, listening to this man speak so calmly about the killing of his good friend.  Smith was lucky Henrik didn’t carry a gun.  He might have chosen to shoot the man where he stood.
“So this job you got for me.  Who ya wantin’ me to kill?”
“Don’t think that matters now, Smith,” Heyes said, as he and Kid entered the barn.
Smith made a move for his weapon, but the speed of Kid’s draw quickly changed the man’s mind.  He approached Smith now, weapon still pointed at him, holding the man’s gaze.  So this was the man who killed Jonathon.  The man who caused Madelyn so much pain.  Kid shifted his eyes away from Smith’s, pushed the man’s jacket open and removed his weapon for him.
Sheriff Peyton entered the barn now, placing cuffs on Smith.  He would take him to a holding cell here on the island.  Tomorrow a private boat would arrive to transport the man to the mainland to await his trial.
Before he left the barn with Smith he stopped and asked, “Why’d ya set up that special gadget of Edison’s in the stall, Heyes?  I heard the man’s confession. I got you and Kid as eyewitnesses to his murder of Schultz.  It’ll be enough to send him away for a long time.”
Heyes entered the stall and played back the recording on Edison’s phonograph. A recorded confession to the murder of Jonathon Kraus. A recorded admission to the conspiracy with Schultz to commit murder.
“Couldn’t be sure that ferry would really get you back here in time, sheriff.  Wanted to make sure we had all the angles covered.”
The sheriff hauled Smith off to the waiting cell leaving Henrik, Kid and Heyes in the barn.
“I’m not sure I could have done that, Kid.”  Henrik wiped sweat from his forehead as he spoke.
“Anyone can draw fast with enough practice,” Kid responded.
“That’s not what I meant.”  He studied Kid’s face.  “I see what Madelyn means to you.  Smith was drawing on you.  You had a chance to kill the man who killed her husband, but you didn’t.  Why?”
Kid was silent for a moment.  “Whatever Smith might or might not deserve, Madelyn deserves more than a man who would ever think she’d appreciate ‘a life for a life’.  She’s better than that.  Far better.”   He paused, “I hope I can be too.”
Closing Celebration
From the gazebo, Heyes had a view of the entire dance floor.  He watched Kid and Madelyn dancing together, holding each other close, looking as if they belonged together.  He was happy for Kid and wondered what the future would hold for him, wondered what the future would hold for himself as well.

A touch on his arm brought his thoughts back to the present and he turned to greet Amy with a tender kiss. They danced together, one dance after another as they talked quietly.  Occasionally, Heyes leaned forward brushing his lips against her cheek or placing a soft kiss on her hair.  Amy held him close, not wanting to spoil this moment.

“There’s something I need to tell you, Heyes,” Amy began carefully.  “I’ve had an offer from the theater company.  They want me to join them on their tour of Europe.”  She waited.  Would he ask her to stay?  She hoped he would.  She wanted to go with him wherever life took him next.  She would have given up the tour, if only he would ask.

He held her, wishing things were different.  If she weren’t going to Europe, he could ask her to come with him.  But the theater was what she’d wanted all her life.  He wouldn’t ask her to give it up, miss out on realizing her dream.

She felt the soft rumble in his chest when he began to speak, “I’ve been wondering how to tell you something too.”  Her eyes were on his now.  “I’ve had an offer too, from Mr. Edison.”  Heyes continued talking but Amy’s heart sank.  Was he telling her goodbye?  This man she had grown to love.

Heyes, seized by a sudden inspiration, surprised her when he asked, “Amy, what would you think if I joined you in Europe?  After I’m through at Mr. Edison’s?”

Amy’s smile and tight hug was answer enough.
***
Kid and Maddie were aware of no one else as they moved across the dance floor.  This time, Maddie had no reservations about being held by Jed, no reason to flee from his embrace. The storm of emotion stirred within her, but his time she welcomed it, like rain on thirsty desert sand.

“You don’t have to serve Lady Fingers tonight, do you?” Kid whispered, a playful tone in his voice.

“Lady Fingers?  Why…?” she let the question fade, laughing as she realized he was teasing her.

”If your duties are done here, why don’t we leave?  I’ll walk you home.”  His lips were delightfully close to her ear, sending tingling sensations though her when he spoke.  His smile was mischievous, his eyes dancing.

She took him up on his offer, grabbing her wrap.  They strolled together past the harbor and on until they arrived at the cottage.

Kid tugged a finger at his collar, an unconscious attempt to relieve the discomfort of his now-familiar, formal suit.  Maddie’s hand met his.

“Allow me, please,” she playfully pulled at one end of his tie, releasing the bow, freeing him from the gentlemanly noose.  Her hands proceeded to unfasten one…then another button of the too tight collar.

“You’re undoin’ all my hard work.”  His words disguised the pleasure he felt with her fingers on his skin.

“Your hard work?  I’m the one who gave you all those lessons in tying this thing!”

“What do you mean, ‘all those lessons’?”  His voice held a tone of mock insult.  “There were only…”

“Five!  There were at least five lessons!”  She started to recount them, but his finger on her lips stopped her.

“I have a confession to make,” his voice turned serious.  “I figured it out after lesson number two.”

Her voice became just as serious,” I have a confession to make too.” She paused. “So did I.”

The kiss that followed began tenderly but quickly grew more intense.  Kid was aware of the slightest touch of her hands as they moved gently over his back, across his shoulders.  Her kisses traced a path down his neck, soothing away any remaining irritation left by the offending collar, at the same time, extending an unspoken invitation.  His hand at the small of her back pressed her closer, wanting to accept, wanting to be sure.

“Maddie?” It was a question.
Her answer, a soft, whispered breath in his ear, “Stay!”
***
As the first rays of sun began to break, Kid lay in bed, his head propped up on one hand watching Maddie, taking in her every feature. Her strawberry blonde hair was pushed carelessly to the side revealing one soft, bare shoulder as she slept.  His mind replayed the scene again, the mostly sleepless night they’d just shared.  In a few short hours his fingers had memorized every inch of her skin, every curve of her body.
He smiled now with the memory of it.  Somewhere in the night, or maybe it was the morning, he had told her.  The three words he’d never before spoken to a woman. He breathed the words into her as he held her and she had breathed the same back into him.   She was a part of him.

Leaning forward, Kid placed a soft kiss on the exposed shoulder.  Not fully awake yet, a small chuckle bubbled up inside her.  A few more kisses on her shoulder, her neck, then his voice was low, close to her ear,   “Marry me, Maddie.”

Her eyes flew open in surprise, certain she must be dreaming.  But he was there, face next to hers, blue eyes serious as he waited. This amazing man!  This amazing night!  Maddie parted her lips to answer but before she had a chance, a hand clapped down over her mouth.

“NO!  Wait!  Don’t answer that! Forget I asked.”

Maddie raised an eyebrow at his strange request.

“No, no!  I don’t mean forget it.  I mean, think about it, but don’t answer right now.”  His eyes looked like a little boy’s, pleading, “I want to ask you better than that.”

Maddie laughed under his hand, nodding her agreement.

“Meet me.  Tonight, at sunset.  On the porch of the Grand.”

Another nod.

“OK, I’m gonna take my hand away now, but no answering, promise?”

She nodded again.

When he removed his hand, Jed Curry found his own mouth covered…with Maddie’s.

Chapter Nine
Kid was grinning from ear to ear when he arrived, quite late that morning, at their shared office.  Heyes was already waiting for him, coffee in hand.

”Where ya been, Kid?  We got problems.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Heyes and today, I don’t think I care.”

“It’s important, Kid.”

Kid stopped, his shoulders drooping.  “Not today Heyes.  Pleeeease!  Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”

“I’m glad you’re happy this mornin’, Kid, but this can’t wait.”

“OK, but first I got somethin’ I wanna tell ya.”

Petersen opened the door.  “Good.  You’re both here. Sheriff Peyton needs us to start an immediate search of the entire island.”
Kid gave Heyes a questioning look.
“Kid, Smith escaped last night.  The sheriff thinks he’s still here on the island.”
***
Back at the cottage an impatient Madelyn, dressed and ready to begin this glorious day, barged into Amy’s room.

“Are you coming with me?”

Maddie’s voice was excited.  Amy could tell that much even through the fog of her sleepiness.  She and Heyes had been out late last night, quite late. She smiled, remembering. Then he had walked her home.

“With you where?”  Amy pulled the sheet up over her head in an attempt to shut out any rays of sunlight.

“I’m walking into town.  I have some errands.  Well, just one really fun errand to be precise.”  She was sitting on Amy’s bed now, hands tugging on the sheet.

“Come with me, Amy!”

Although Amy would have liked to stay in bed, she could see her friend was happy, happier than she’d seen her in a long time.

“Give me thirty minutes,” she consented.

“OK, fifteen minutes it is!”

The walk toward town was filled with excited chatter, mostly Maddie’s. Amy stifled a yawn as her friend talked on.  Something must have happened to put her friend in such a delightful mood.
They stopped first for an early lunch (late breakfast for Amy). Madelyn finished her meal and waited, impatiently drumming her fingers while Amy lingered over her coffee.  When she was finally finished Maddie rushed Amy down the street to the jeweler.

“I know exactly what I want!” Madelyn exclaimed, to the jeweler’s delight.

She pointed, Miss Michaels raised an eyebrow.  “Are you sure, Mrs. Kraus?”

“Certain sure!” she declared, using a phrase she’d heard Heyes use on more than one occasion.

Amy nodded and smiled.  She approved of her friend’s choice.

As they left the jeweler’s, Miss Michaels handed Madelyn a receipt, “It should be ready soon, Mrs. Kraus.”

Madelyn tucked the receipt in her bag, anxious to continue the lovely day with her best friend.
The two women stepped out onto the main street just as the commotion broke loose.  A man running toward the docks barreled into Madelyn and Amy, knocking both women to the ground.
Kid, Heyes, Petersen, Sheriff Peyton and just about everyone else in town seemed to appear from nowhere.
Smith, seeing no other way out grabbed the person closest to him, who happened to be Madelyn.  Pulling a stolen weapon from inside his jacket, he held it to her chest.

The crowd immediately seemed to part and Kid now stood, gun in hand, facing a very confused and frightened looking Maddie and a desperate killer looking for a way out.

“Put the gun down, Curry,” Smith commanded.  “They’re already plannin’ to hang me for killin’ her husband and Schultz.  Don’t see as they can hang me a third time if I kill her too.”

Kid slowly bent and placed his gun on the ground, lifting his hands where Smith could see them.  “Let her go, Smith.  You want a hostage take me instead.”

Maddie’s heart protested Kid’s idea for an exchange, but she found herself unable to speak.

“Don’t think I’ll be doin’ that.  This one here seems like a good insurance policy to me.  We’ll just be leavin’ now if you’ll move out’a my way.”  He waved his gun the direction he wanted Kid to move, but quickly returned it to the place he had it before, pressed to Madelyn’s ribs.

Smith moved slowly, using Madelyn as a shield and headed toward the docks.  As soon as they felt it was safe to move, Kid retrieved his gun and he and Heyes followed.  They caught up to Smith on the dock, just as he was about to board a ferry with Madelyn.

“Hold it right there!” called out Sheriff Peyton.

Smith turned, still holding the gun on Madelyn.  Although inexperienced in the handling of crisis situations, Sheriff Peyton was an excellent marksman and had a clear shot at Smith’s head at the moment.

Seeing the mistake the sheriff was about to make, Heyes cried out, “No!”

It was too late.  Smith’s body stiffened.  There was the sound of a second shot before Smith tumbled backward into the water.
Kid ran, without taking his eyes off Maddie. Her legs buckled beneath her, refusing to hold her any longer. She fell forward just before he gathered her into his arms.  She was so pale, looked so confused, her blouse turning a deep shade of red.

Kid heard Heyes’ voice yelling for a doctor, heard Amy’s muffled cry next to him. Moments passed like a slow-moving nightmare.  He cradled Maddie’s head in one arm while he pushed the other hand hard to her chest, trying, desperately, to stop the blood that pumped between his fingers.

“Jed?”  Her voice came out in a ragged whisper as she fought for breath.  She tried to lift her head to find the source of the pain in her chest, but the movement proved too difficult.

“Don’t try to talk now, Maddie.  The doctor’s comin’.”  There was too much blood!  This couldn’t be happening!  Hadn’t he promised her everything would turn out alright?

“What you asked me,” she tried again.

“I know Maddie.  I’ll ask you again, only you gotta rest now.”

Her eyes held his, “You asked good enough.”  She tried to smile, her green eyes beginning to grow dim.  “I would’a said yes.”

Madelyn closed her eyes and Kid felt her body relax, her head resting peacefully against him.  He watched her chest rise and fall twice more.  Then it ceased.  The blood began to flow more slowly through Kid’s fingers until it finally stopped altogether.

Kid’s eyes searched Heyes’ face.  Heyes sadly shook his head.
***
The rest of the day seemed to pass in a haze.  Kid looked down at his clothes with a vague recollection of Heyes handing him something else to wear and disposing of his blood-soaked clothing.  Kid studied his hands and regretted having so thoroughly washed away any last traces of…her.

He watched the sun set from the porch of the Grand, wishing this evening could have been the way he’d planned it.  Then, he retreated to his room.  Not bothering with a glass, he tipped a bottle to his lips several times in an attempt to dull the pain that threatened to crush his chest.   He collapsed on his bed exhausted, closed his eyes and prayed for the blessed respite of sleep, if only for a few hours.
***
Several days later, Amy was packed and ready to leave the island. Kid was just about to leave his shared office for the last time when she found him.  Everything was in place, ready to be closed for the long winter, ready for a new assistant manager next season.
“I came to say goodbye, Kid.”  He looked up when he heard her voice.  “I’ll be leaving early tomorrow, on the first ferry.”

Kid nodded and smiled, though it didn’t reach his eyes. “Good luck with your dream, Amy.  I hope it’s everything you want it to be.”

“Thanks.”  She hugged him, lingering for several moments, wanting to be sure of her voice before she went on.

“The other day, Maddie and I went shopping,” she began.

The other day. Had it really been just the other day she’d laughed with Maddie, shared a day of carefree enjoyment with her lifelong friend?

Amy held a small package in her hand.  “Maddie picked this out.”

Kid looked confused.

“It’s for you.  She would have given it to you…well, when the time was right.”

She held it out to him.  He hesitated.

“Please, take it.”

Kid accepted the gift, nodding his thanks to her.

She gave him another hug, “Good bye, Kid.”

“Good bye, Amy.”

When she was gone, Kid opened the package.  Inside, he found a box, lined in blue velvet, containing one, simple gold band.  A man’s wedding band.  He removed it, running his fingers over its smooth surface.  As he studied it closely, he noticed what appeared to be something engraved on the inside.  He read the inscription, only one word,
Always

***
The sun was quickly rising, the seagulls calling a mournful cry as Amy looked back over the island the next morning.  It would never be the same here without Maddie.
The ferry blew its whistle.  “It’s time,” Heyes said, breaking into her thoughts. “Don’t forget, I should be with you in Europe before Christmas.”

“You know I won’t forget.”
So much each one wanted to say, yet both stood, unable to find the right words.  He smiled at her, the smile that melted her heart.  Softly running his fingers across her cheek, he kissed her once more.

“Goodbye, Amy.”

With his lips near hers, she whispered, “Goodbye.”

He waved to her, tipping his worn black hat as the ferry slowly began its seven mile trip across the Straits of Mackinac to the mainland.
***
Heyes found Kid later that day on the porch.  He watched his partner as he stood facing the setting sun, arms crossed in front of him, ready for travel, gun belt low on his hip.  He didn’t look too much different than he’d looked when they first arrived on Mackinac, with the exception of the pounds he’d lost over the last few days and, the presence of a gold band on the third finger of his right hand.

Heyes climbed the steps two at a time and joined his friend, placing a supportive hand on his shoulder.  After a while Heyes spoke, “Kid?  You ready to go?”

Ready to go?  He hadn’t wanted to come here, yet part of him, part of him would always remain.  He looked up at the hotel.  Maddie’s dream.  He was glad he helped her make it come true. Kid turned, facing his partner of so many years.

“Let’s go home, Heyes.”

 

Wonder what happened after Heyes and Curry left Mackinac Island?  I did, so a couple of years after finishing Mackinac, I decided to follow the boys and find out by writing – The Merger.

Author’s Notes:
Mackinac Island, Michigan is truly a magical and unique place where time has stood still.  With no cars allowed on the island, visitors are transported by horse-drawn carriages or ride bicycles. The Grand Hotel was opened in the summer of 1887 by two railroad companies and a steamship company who hoped to create a destination resort to increase travel to the area.  It has been visited by many famous names, including Samuel Clemens and Thomas Edison.  To this author’s knowledge, Mackinac Island was never visited by either Hannibal Heyes or Kid Curry, but it (and they) would have been the better for it.  The Grand Hotel is considered by some, to be one of the most romantic places on earth.  It was here that the movie “Somewhere In Time” was filmed.

By coincidence, the first manager of the Grand Hotel was a man by the name of “Hayes.” 

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.
July 2008

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