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.