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Category Archives: My writing

The Cousin Heyeses


Being A True History Of How There Came To Be Two Hannibal Heyeses

And What Followed: In Which The Famous Duo Became a Trio,

Then a Duo Once Again, 

And Added Cuba To Their Plans

by Brenda Lee Reed

Chapter the First

Two pairs of eyes watched alertly as the town’s doctor used his stethoscope to commune with lungs and heartbeat. Then they exchanged a quick glance of amusement. Each man knew the other was remembering that long, long winter when they had been snowed in at the gold miner’s cabin.

But the blue eyes quickly returned to anxiety and gleamed slightly with the Kid Curry’s fears. The brown ones faded to the weariness that had captured them for weeks.

It was a deep January night in the Old West. Outside, snow fell and filled the streets of a town that had nothing to boast but a railroad spur. Men made their noise as they walked into the nearby bar or reeled back out. The rooms on either side of this bedroom held snorers of operatic loudness, who almost made the walls rattle. It was a small boarding house without much show, and the wind cut through the badly chinked walls and made the curtains move uneasily. There were four quilts on the bed and three pillows behind the man to raise him up and ease his cough. Money was running out, but he didn’t know it.

Hannibal Heyes watched from the bed as the doctor lifted the scope from his chest. It dangled around his neck like the question mark on the question they hoped he would answer. But Heyes’ interest dissipated into a powerful tiredness. He began to close his eyes, then opened them wide. He had to make the effort to pay attention. The Kid would listen to it all. But could the Kid build a plan on what the doctor said? Heyes thought how his long illness meant they were in desperate need of a good plan. Something that would keep them out of a Wyoming jail and in the running for amnesty from the Governor.

But tonight Heyes was especially tired, and his attention wandered to the quilt on his bed. The pattern seemed familiar, little red and white triangles chasing around. Had his mother had one like it at home before she was killed? The thought made him look away, just in time to hear what the doctor said.

“Tell me what happened.” The doctor was young, the only doc in this small town. He was, however, caring and perhaps competent, and his black leather bag seemed to hold everything in the world that a doctor might need. Now he sat back in his chair and fixed his gaze sympathetically on the man whom he understood was Joshua Smith. It said, You’re a stranger, maybe a drifter with a rough story, but I will doctor you just the same.

Steeler: Mouseketeer! Master of Muricide!

Steeler with mouse In the white hot glare of the Christmas tree, the cat brings his gifts — STEELER – MOUSEKETEER!

Born to make mouse populations tremble. Of whom Mother Mice tell tales to make their kitts wary of the world beyond the nest.

“Oh, he was once a kitten, too,” Mother Mouse begins, “But not like you. Not sweet and dear and destined to harmlessly scamper into people’s pantries and dig holes into their boxes of pancake mix and run across wide rugs and make people jump and shout for joy.

“No.” Mother Mouse lowers her squeaky voice as best she can, “Steeler was born in mystery, he lived on the streets as a kitten, and one day a person took him into her home. She provided him with toys and when she saw he would “play” (here she made admirable air quotes, holding up her nimble paws) – he would play only with the mouse-shaped toys, she bought him more!

“And now he lives with two people in a fine home and hunting down your third cousins forty five times removed.” She cocked her head, as if her shiny black eye saw a family tree on the floorboards above the nest. “At least I think it’s the Chewchewsqueak clan who’s in their house. Let’s see, your great-great uncle moved from barn living into the house when they stopped having horses and he was my mother’s cousin’s uncle’s brother’s cousin ….” And to the soothing sound of her genealogic murmuring, the kits would fall asleep, but dreamt nightmares of Steeler.

It’s all true. Though I have forgotten how I found Steeler, I could never forget him because he was an intelligent little creature from the start. I called him “Blue Tom Longtail” because he was the steel gray that older people here call blue, he was a tom, and he had a tail about an inch and a half longer than any other kitten in the world. When I put out all the cat toys, he played only with those shaped like mice. In fact, he dug out from somewhere an old “mouse” covered with rabbit fur that I hadn’t known was still around.

One day, I saw him carry the knitted mouse toy over to his food dish and lay it down. He sat between the food and the toy and I watched his small head turn from one to the other several times. It was clear he was confused and trying to think through, “This is shaped like a mouse, but it’s not food. This is food, but it’s not a mouse.”

He seems to have straightened out this problem because where he now lives, with two kind humans who rechristened him for his color and their favorite football team, Steeler catches mice before the humans even know there is a mouse in the house. He has come into his own – Steeler, Mouseketeer!