The Annoyance in Boxcar #3

Ann Stolfa

(Episode Boxcar # 3 Reversed!)

 

She was whining again.  Heyes cringed and tried to ignore her.  As it was, he only heard about every other word, something about ‘authentic experiences’ and ‘society folk.’ 

 

“Mr. Smith, are you listening to me?”  Her nasally voice made the hair stand up on the back of his neck.

 

“No, not really, in fact, would you just SHUT UP!!”  Heyes had finally had enough and she wasn’t smart enough to read the warning signs.  She stood for a minute with her mouth open, dumbfounded that he had spoken to her that way.

 

“Why I never, I can’t believe you would speak to a lady that way!”  She shook her finger in his face, not realizing she was playing with fire.

 

“Miss, you are no lady.” Heyes growled as he picked her up and threw her off the moving train.

 

Heyes sighed and stretched as he awoke.  The dream made him feel better, especially when he woke up and realized she was indeed still in the boxcar with him, and confound it all, she was still talking!  He didn’t think she’d even noticed he’d dozed off. 

 

Heyes’ mind wandered to the plan he had come up with to get the money to Kingsburg.  It was brilliant if he did say so himself.  He smiled smugly; Kid should have led the posse halfway across the county by now.

 

 

Kid watched the group of men riding hard towards him.  It was pure luck that when his horse tripped and went lame, Kid was near a small outcropping of rocks, and he had just enough time to duck down behind the biggest one before the men saw him.

 

He fired a warning shot as the men got close enough, bringing them up short.  They all jumped off their horses and dove behind whatever cover they could find, looking around for where the shot came from.

 

“Ok, boys, I don’t want to shoot you, let’s talk.”  Kid yelled out from his hiding place.

 

“No talking to be done, just give us the money and we’ll be on our way.”  The man who was obviously in charge eased out from his hiding place.

 

“Afraid I can’t do that; we were paid to do a job.” 

 

“We can’t help it that you made a deal with the devil, it’s our money.”  Kid could see they were getting frustrated and restless. 

 

“Well, I don’t exactly see it that way.  Anyway, I don’t have the money.”  Kid walked out from behind the rock, his gun trained on the men.

 

“And you’re a liar.  We saw you and your partner leave the bank.” 

 

“That is true, but what you didn’t see was my partner and me splitting up.  He has the money and I’m not about to tell you where he is.”

 

“Then you won’t mind if we search your saddlebags.  Forgive me for not trusting you.”  The leader said sarcastically, and at Kid’s nod, motioned a man to go search Kid’s belongings. 

 

“He’s telling the truth; there’s no money here.”

 

“Now boys, face it, you’ve just been out-thought.  Don’t feel bad; my partner has a way of doing that.”  Kid gave them a smug grin.  Just then a train whistled in the distance.

 

“Say, if you weren’t going to leave town by horse, what would be your other choice.” One of the men in the posse whispered to the leader. 

“The train!  Mount up boys, we’ve got a train to catch.”

 

Kid tried to look nonchalant.  “You’re way off, you’ll never catch up to him now.”  He stood there until the men were out of sight and then headed off in the other direction, hoping Heyes made their rendezvous point before the posse caught up to him.

 

 

Shh!  Would you just hush for once when I tell you to?!”  Heyes whispered gruffly to Annabelle, who was trying to see past him out the boxcar door.  She sat down and crossed her arms in frustration.

 

“You are the rudest man!”  She said in a huff.  Unfortunately it was loud enough to attract the attention of the railroad inspector, who headed back towards their boxcar.  Heyes groaned in frustration.

 

“Quick, get out the other door before he gets here.”  Heyes grabbed his saddlebags and her carpetbag and pushed her to the door on the other side of the car.

 

“I’m going; quit pushing me!”

 

Heyes grumbled under his breath, but he managed to get them both hidden in the bushes beside the track before anyone saw them.  He waited until the last possible second as the train was moving out before running for the boxcar again.

 

“C’mon hurry Annabelle!”  Heyes jumped on the train and held out his hand.  She almost made it but her long skirts tripped her up and she fell.  Heyes sighed and for half a second he thought about just leaving her there, but he jumped back off the train and walked to where she was sitting on the ground rubbing her knee and wiping at the tears welling up in her eyes.

 

“Aw geez,” Heyes rolled his eyes. “are you hurt?”  He offered a hand to her.

 

“No.”  She started sobbing.  Heyes awkwardly patted her on the back.

 

“Hey, now, none of that.  We’ve got a long walk ahead of us, are you up to it?”

 

“I…I guess so.”  She sniffed and picked up her bag.  They walked awhile in silence along the tracks.

 

“I’m cold and I’m hungry and my feet hurt.”  She sounded like a little child.

 

“You should have thought about that when you got us kicked off the train.” Heyes mumbled under his breath.  “Let’s see if we can find someone who can sell us some food and maybe a horse.”  Heyes veered off in the direction of a light in the distance. 

 

The farm didn’t look very welcoming, but it was the only sign of life in any direction so they decided to take a chance.  He was concocting a story to gain admittance with the least amount of suspicion when Annabelle charged past him and pounded on the door.

 

“Hey!  What do you think you’re doing?”  He grabbed Annabelle’s arm as the door opened.

 

“What do you want this time of night?”  The old man scowled at them.

 

“Well sir you see we…”  Heyes started when Annabelle interrupted him.

 

“We’re on our honeymoon and the horse went lame and we’re cold and hungry and please couldn’t we come in for a little while?” 

 

Heyes looked at her for a moment, dumbfounded.  He had to admit the tears in her eyes were a nice touch though.

 

“Oh you poor dears, come in.”  The old lady led them in to the house and proceeded to fix them a meal.  Heyes and Annabelle sat at the table.

 

“Honeymoon?” Heyes mouthed at her, one eyebrow raised.  Annabelle just shrugged and gave him a self-satisfied smile.

 

After a token resistance, Heyes agreed that they could stay overnight in the barn.  Truth be told, he was weary and foot-sore and bedding down for the night, even in a barn, sounded pretty good.

 

As they settled in, Annabelle chattered about how this was all new to her as she was used to staying in fancy hotels and such and how she would have so much to tell her rich fiancé about her “authentic experiences.”

 

Heyes listened as long as he could stand it, and then he rolled over to face her.   “Annabelle, never try to con a con artist.”

 

“Why, I don’t know what you mean.”  She tried to look innocent, but she couldn’t meet his eyes.

 

“You know exactly what I mean.”  He raised up on one elbow.  “There is no fiancé, no fancy hotels, are there?” 

 

“Well, I may have exaggerated a little.  I do have a fiancé though, or at least I did.”

 

“So what’s the real story?”

 

“I…I just couldn’t see being married to a farmer for the rest of my life.  I want to experience things, finer things, like my father has; he’s a real gentleman.”

 

“If he’s such a gentleman, why’s he letting you ride in boxcars instead of passenger cars?”

 

Annabelle looked down.  “He doesn’t know I’m coming.  I know he’ll be happy to see me though.”

 

Heyes looked at her for a minute without saying anything and then he rolled up in his blanket.  “Better get some sleep; we’ve got a long way to go tomorrow, especially with no horse.  I’ll take you as far as Kingsburg and then you’re on your own.”

 

“Kingsburg?  That’s where my father lives!  How wonderful, we can travel the whole way together.”  Thankfully she couldn’t see Heyes cringe.

 

Heyes woke up in the middle of the night to find Annabelle snuggled up against his back.  He sighed and threw his blanket over the two of them and prayed for morning to come soon.

 

The sunlight between the slats of the barn woke Heyes and he rolled over to find Annabelle sitting watching him while she brushed her hair.

 

“I thought you were going to sleep all day.”  She smiled at him.   Heyes shook the cobwebs from his head and then looked around frantically for his saddlebags.  Relief washed over him when he found them a short distance away.  A quick peek assured him that the money was still there.

 

They managed to buy a horse from a neighboring farm and were well on their way to Kingsburg when the posse finally caught up with them.  Heyes thought about trying to outrun them, but he was afraid they might start shooting and Annabelle would get caught in the crossfire.

 

The men pulled Heyes from the back of the horse and grabbed the saddlebags.  Heyes knew he was outnumbered and he didn’t try to resist.  He was as surprised as everyone else when the money turned out to be nothing but stacks of paper.

 

“Where is it?” 

 

“I swear, I thought it was all there.  The lawyer must have switched it on us. I signed a receipt for $50,000 and that’s what I thought I had.”

 

“I don’t believe you, why would you be fool enough not to check before you signed a receipt?”

 

“Believe me mister, I’m asking myself the same thing.”

 

Heyes watched as the men consulted with each other, eventually deciding to believe his story.  He was relieved when they mounted up and left.

 

Annabelle was gathering her things that had been scattered in the search for the money.

 

“C’mon, we’re going back to the farm.”

 

“What?  Why?”

 

Heyes looked every inch the outlaw leader as he gathered up scattered belongings. “Well, there’s only two explanations on where that money went, either you took it or the old couple at the farm did.  Now, since your bag was dumped out, and I really don’t think you could hide that much money on yourself, the only thing left is that they switched it on me while we were sleeping.”

 

“But you said the lawyer did it.”

 

“I lied.  I did count that money before we signed the receipt and it was all there.  Now get on the horse.”  For once Annabelle didn’t argue; the look in his eyes making her uneasy.

 

Heyes stood on the porch of the farmhouse trying to control his fury before he went in.  He still couldn’t comprehend how he had been so easily fooled by the couple.  His knock brought the old man to the door.

 

“You again?  What do you want this time?”

 

“Where is it?”  Heyes’ voice was low and dangerous.

 

“Where is what?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  The old man unsuccessfully tried to bar his entry as Heyes pushed his way inside, an unusually subdued Annabelle following in his wake.

 

“I had 50,000 dollars in my saddlebags when I got here, and it was gone when I left.  I want it back right now.”

 

“Mister, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I want you to leave right now.”  The man ran for a shotgun leaning against the wall but Heyes was faster and he wrestled the gun away.  He motioned the man to sit down on the sofa along with his wife.

 

“You know how to use one of these things?”  He asked Annabelle.

 

“Well, I’ve fired one before.”  She looked hesitant.

 

“Good.  Keep an eye on them while I search the place.”  He handed her the gun.

 

“I don’t know if I can…”  She held it like it was a snake getting ready to bite her.

 

“You can and you will!” Heyes barked the order at her and she snapped to attention like a soldier and pointed the gun at  the couple.

 

Heyes set about searching everything in the house with no luck.  He paused at a locked door and motioned the couple over.

 

“I want the key to this room and I want it now.” 

 

“There’s no key and that’s the truth.  You’re not searching that room!”  The old man stood defiantly.

 

“Oh I’m not?”  Heyes gave him an unpleasant smile and then turned and kicked the door in.  The sight of the child’s room, obviously untouched for years, startled Heyes.  The anger drained out of him when the significance of what he was seeing sunk in.

 

“I’m really sorry.  I…I didn’t know.  I’ll fix the door before I leave.”  He walked slowly out of the house without saying another word and headed towards the barn.

 

As Heyes pulled the door open, he found himself staring down the barrels of several guns. 

 

Could this day get any worse? He thought to himself.  “Hello boys.”  He put his hands up in a gesture of  surrender.

 

“All right, we’ve given you enough time to find it, hand it over.”  The posse leader motioned him in.

 

Heyes sighed as he walked into the barn.  “Didn’t believe the lawyer story huh?  Well, you’re about to be disappointed because I didn’t find the money.”

 

“I don’t believe you.  Maybe a gunshot to the knee would convince you to tell us where it is.”  The sound of a pistol cocking made them all look up.

 

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”  Kid sat nonchalantly in the hayloft.  “Drop your guns.”

 

Heyes gathered the men’s guns as Kid made his way down from the hayloft.  “How long were you planning on waiting before you let me know you were up there?” 

 

“Oh, I think I waited just long enough.”  Kid gave him a grin as Heyes returned an “I’m going to get you later for this” look.

 

They left the posse tied up under the watch of the old couple with the instructions to untie them after Kid and Heyes had enough time to make it to Kingsburg.

 

Kid and Heyes waited on the train platform where they were supposed to meet the lawyer and hand over the money.  Heyes looked at his pocket watch for what seemed like the thousandth time.

 

“He’s three hours late.  I think he double-crossed us Kid.”  Heyes was getting extremely angry.

 

Kid pushed his hat back and sighed.  Patience wasn’t one of Heyes’ strong points.  “He’ll be here Heyes; maybe he decided to take a tour of the town or something.” Kid said jokingly.

 

“A three-hour tour?  Of this little town?”  Heyes realized Kid was laughing at him; he was a little slow on the uptake when he was frustrated.  “Ha ha, very funny.  Well, finally here he is.” 

 

The lawyer walked up and gave them a big smile.  “Hello boys, I see you made it without any trouble.” 

 

“Without any… Mister, you don’t know the half of it.  We don’t have the money, but I think you already know that.”  Heyes glared at him, making the man shift uncomfortably.

 

“Well, yes.  I had a choice you see, it was either trust you with the money, or use you as decoys and deliver it myself.  Seems like it was a great plan to me.”  He gave them a grin, looking very pleased with himself.  That only lasted until Heyes flattened him with one punch.

 

“Yep, it was a great plan, right up until this ending, huh?”  He stomped off the train platform, leaving Annabelle and Kid to follow in his wake.

 

At the hotel, Annabelle asked the clerk if he knew her father.

 

The clerk rubbed his chin in thought.  Decoursy Considine.  Nope, I can’t say that I know anyone by that name.  Oh wait, you mean Deke?  Oh yeah, Deke would be over at the saloon right now.  In fact, I just saw him there this morning, dealing blackjack for the house.”

 

Annabelle seemed to deflate at the news.  Kid and Heyes followed her over as she sat down.

 

“I’m real sorry Annabelle.  Why don’t you go to your room and take a bath and change your clothes and maybe all of this will seem better.”  Kid tried to console her.

 

“No, there’s a train heading east in two hours.  I plan to be on it.”

 

“Well, you still have two whole hours before it leaves.  Here’s the key to your room and your bath should be ready shortly.  Why don’t you take advantage of that while you can.  Kid led her towards the stairs as he talked to her.

 

Heyes caught his eye over the top of her head.  “I got some business to take care of, I’ll meet up with you later.” 

 

At the saloon, Heyes had the bartender point out Deke.  Heyes waited until the hand he dealt was done and then motioned him over.

 

“What do you want mister, I’m working.”  Deke’s ratty clothing looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks, and he smelled like he hadn’t bathed in at least that long.

 

“Mr. Considine, I just wanted to let you know that your daughter is in town, and you have a real small window of opportunity to see her.  I suggest that you take advantage of it.”  Heyes expression allowed no argument.

 

“My Annie, she’s here?”  Deke’s face lit up for a moment, and then fell.  “No, I don’t want her to see me like this.  What’s she doin’ here anyway?”

 

“She said she was looking for ‘authentic experience,’ but I think she was really looking for her daddy.  Look, take this and have a bath and get some new clothes.  She’s in room 204 at the hotel.  You have about two hours before she gets on a train and leaves.”  Heyes handed him some money.

 

“I just don’t know.”  Deke just stood there, not sure what he should do.

 

Heyes sighed.  This was the most frustrating family he’d ever come across.  “Do what you want.  I’ve done all I could  Heyes didn’t look back as he left Deke standing in the saloon.

 

Heyes was reading the local newspaper as he and Kid sat on the hotel porch about a half-hour later.  The sound of a man clearing his voice caused Heyes to look up.  A much cleaned up Deke stood with his new hat in his hand.

 

“I want to thank you mister. I’d have never forgiven myself if I didn’t see my little girl before she left.  I’m hoping I can convince her to stay awhile.” 

 

Heyes smiled to himself and went back to reading the paper as Deke went into the hotel.

 

“What was that all about?”  Kid peered over the top of Heyes’ paper.

 

“Hmm?  Oh, not much.  I was just making sure Annabelle had that ‘authentic experience’ she was really looking for.  That was her father.” 

 

Kid sat back in his chair and grinned.  “Heyes, you never cease to surprise me.”