Oh Baby!

Ann Stolfa

 

“Babies are bits of star-dust blown from the hand of God.”

- Larry Barretto

 

 

 

“Look out!”

 

The shout caught Heyes attention a split-second before the runaway horse and wagon almost ran him down.  He got a quick glance of a woman’s pale face and panicked eyes as the wagon rushed past him.  He whirled around to find Kid, knowing his cousin had seen the same thing and what he would do.  It was too late; Kid was already on his horse and chasing the wagon out of town.

 

Heyes sighed to himself.  “He’ll never learn, always has to be the hero.”  He mounted his own horse and sped after Kid.

 

Heyes pulled up short around a bend in the road.  The wagon lay at a crazy angle, an axle busted, the horse lying on its side, its leg broken.  Kid was kneeling by the woman, the stricken look on his face telling Heyes the woman was bad off.

 

Heyes kneeled beside Kid, who was cradling the woman’s head in his arms.  She whispered to them with her last breath.  “My baby, please take care of my baby.”  She went limp in Kid’s arms.

 

“Baby?  Did you see a baby?”  Heyes looked around as Kid gently laid the woman down and pulled her shawl up over her face.  They both heard the soft whimpering at the same time.  Peering in, they saw a small child, maybe two years old, huddled in the back.  Kid reached in and carefully picked the baby up.  It was a boy with black hair and dark, scared eyes.  He wrapped his arms around Kid’s neck and held on like his life depended on it.  Kid looked as scared as the boy did.

 

“Uh Heyes, a little help here?” 

 

“Me?  I don’t know any more about kids than you do.  Besides, he seems to like you.”  Heyes gave Kid an ornery grin.

 

“Gee, thanks.  Maybe we should see if he’s hurt.”  He gently pulled the child away from his chest and looked him over.

 

“Are you ok?”  The boy just stared at him.  “Heyes, do kids talk at this age?” 

 

Heyes was doing his best not to laugh because he knew Kid would clobber him when he got the chance.  “Heck, I don’t know.  Ask him.”

 

“So, what’s your name?”  Kid asked the little boy.  “Name? Do you know your name?”

 

The boy gave him a sideways glance like he was deciding whether or not to trust this strange man.  “Sam.” He finally said.  “Mommy?”

 

“Hey, he thinks you’re his mommy.”  Heyes was enjoying this situation way too much.

 

Kid just glared at him with an “I’ll get you later” look.

 

“No! Want mommy!”  Sam was getting agitated again.

 

“Oh geez, uh, your mommy had to go away.  We’ll take you back to town.  Oh please don’t cry!”  Kid was totally out of his depth here.  He was thinking he would rather be facing a man getting ready to draw on him than this one small crying boy.  “C’mon Heyes, I don’t know what to do here!”

 

Heyes got serious when he saw Kid was really getting upset.  Truth be told, he was totally unsure how to deal with this situation, and he didn’t like not being in control.

 

“Well, I guess we should take him back to town and see if we can find his daddy or something.  We ought to do something about that horse first though; I think it’s leg is broken.”

 

“I’ll take care of it. Here..” Kid thrust Sam at Heyes, glad to have an excuse to hand him off.

 

Heyes held Sam out at arm’s length, not sure what to do.  “Wait a minute, I’ve never even held one of these things.”  The sound of a gunshot as Kid dealt with the injured horse made Heyes instinctively pull Sam to his chest.  The boy settled down and put his thumb in his mouth, feeling safe in Heyes’ arms.  Two pairs of dark eyes met as each of them tried to figure out the other.

 

“Hmm, I think he likes you better than me Heyes.”  Kid just couldn’t resist getting a little revenge.

 

“Yeah, well, I hope he doesn’t get too comfortable.  Let’s get him back to town and find someone to take him quick.” 

 

After they stopped at the undertaker’s office to make arrangements for him to pick up the woman’s body and give her a nice burial, they stopped at the livery stable where the rented wagon and horse had come from hoping to find out the woman’s name.  The owner wasn’t overly friendly to them and was less helpful in finding out any information about Sam.

 

“All I know is she lived somewhere south of town.  Knew I shouldn’t have rented my wagon to an Indian’s whore.” 

 

Kid turned an icy blue stare on the man.  “What do you mean by that?”

 

He spat a dirty stream of tobacco juice on the ground before he answered.  “She was kidnapped by Indians a few years back.  Had a baby with her when they found her.  She was never right after that, always talked about how much she wanted to go back with ‘her people’ and her husband, like any self-respecting white woman would marry a heathen Indian.  You won’t find anyone to take that dirty half-breed brat off your hands; might as well drown him in the river. ”

 

Heyes laid a hand on Kid’s arm to restrain him from beating the man to a pulp.  “Thank you for your help, we’ll be on our way now.”  Heyes said sarcastically through gritted teeth.  In truth, he wanted to beat the man as badly as Kid did, but he decided a strategic retreat would be better.  He pulled Kid along with him down the street.

 

“Did you hear what he said Heyes?  How could anyone want to harm a little boy, just cause he’s part Indian.  I shoulda’ shot him, that’s what I should have done.  World would be a better place without him in it.”  Kid was so mad he was almost hopping up and down.

 

“Now Kid, there’s a lot of ignorant people in this world, you can’t shoot them all.  Let’s figure out what we’re gonna’ do with Sam here.”  The little boy had been taking all this in from the safety of Heyes’ arms, not understanding the controversy surrounding him. “You know, he might be hungry.  Let’s go over to the café and we can all sit down and have a nice meal.”

 

Kid was still mad and he kept turning and shooting dirty looks at the livery stable, but he went along with Heyes and Sam.  They found a table in the back and ordered coffee for themselves, with a piece of apple pie for Kid, and stew and bread for Sam.  Thankfully there weren’t many other diners besides themselves and they had a chance to talk about what to do while they were waiting on their food.

 

“If he doesn’t have any family, we’ll have to find an orphanage or something.”

 

“An orphanage??  How can we do that to him Heyes?  There’s got to be some other way.”  

 

“What do you suggest Kid?  I know it’s not the best solution, but what else are we going to do?  We’re wanted outlaws; he’s not exactly old enough to ride with the gang.”  Heyes was getting defensive.  He didn’t like the feelings of protectiveness he was starting to feel for the little boy.

 

“I know, but there’s got be a better way.”  Their conversation was interrupted by the waitress bringing their food.

 

“Oh boy.”  Sam’s eyes lit up and he clapped his hands, bringing reluctant smiles to Kid’s and Heyes’ faces.

 

“He likes to eat as much as you do Kid.”  Heyes chuckled.

 

“Ha ha.  Here Sam, let me help you.  Doesn’t that stew look good?”  Kid picked up the spoon and tried to feed Sam.

 

“NO!”  Sam yelled, pushing away the spoon.

 

“Aw c’mon, it’s good.  Just one bite.”

 

“NO!”  Sam hit the spoon with his hand, causing it to end up on Kid.

 

“Uh Kid, you got a potato on your hat.”  Heyes was sitting back with his coffee, enjoying the spectacle.

 

“Oh you think you could do better?”

 

“Can’t do worse.  Here Sam, eat some bread.  I’m sure it’s real good.”  Heyes picked up the bread and tried to hand it to him. 

 

“NO!  Want that!”  Sam was pointing to Kid’s pie.

 

“Now wait a minute, that’s my pie.  Eat your stew.”  Kid pushed his pie out of reach.

 

“No no no no no no no no no!  Pie pie pie pie pie pie!”  Sam was screaming now, attracting the attention of the other people in the restaurant.

 

“Geez Kid, give him the stupid pie.  You eat the stew!”  Heyes yelled over Sam’s outburst.

 

“But Heyes…”

 

“Just give him the pie, we’ll get you another piece!”  Heyes was starting to feel like he had two children at the table.  Kid reluctantly slid his pie over to Sam, who started eating it with both hands, covering himself and anything in the near vicinity with sticky apple pie.

 

Heyes sat back, exhausted.  “I don’t know how people with kids do this day in and day out.  You think we were like that when we were that age?”

 

“Worse.” 

 

They finished up their meal without further incident and took the sticky little boy back to their hotel room.  After they got him cleaned up, he curled up on the bed and fell asleep.

 

Heyes watched Kid cover him up with a blanket.  “Been a rough day for the little guy.”

 

“Yeah.  We still haven’t decided what to do with him.”  Kid sat down heavily in the chair next to the bed and rubbed his eyes.

 

Heyes sighed.  “I know.  How about we not worry about it any more tonight and we’ll figure it out in the morning.   I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a cold beer right now.”

 

“Yeah, but someone has to stay here with Sam.”

 

“True.  We could flip a coin to see who gets to go get a beer first.”  Heyes reached into his pocket for a coin.

 

“Uh uh Heyes, not with your coin.  I’LL flip the coin.”  Kid pulled a quarter out of his pocket.

 

“Why Kid, I’m hurt you don’t trust me.”  Heyes feigned a look of surprise.

 

“Yeah.  Anyway, call it.”  Kid flipped the coin into the air.

 

“Heads.”

 

“Dang Heyes.  How do you do that?  It’s not even your coin and you won.”  Kid shook his head.

 

“Just lucky I guess.  See you in an hour or so.”  Heyes grabbed his hat and headed out the door before Kid could protest.

 

Kid sighed and sat back down in the chair.   Sam whimpered in his sleep and Kid leaned over and smoothed a black lock of hair from his forehead, giving him a tender look in this unguarded moment.  He vowed silently that he would make sure Sam was safe until they could find a kind, loving family to take him in.

 

Kid hadn’t realized he’d dozed off until the sound of the door banging open startled him out of sleep.  He had his gun half-way out of the holster before he realized it was Heyes rushing into the room.

 

“Get your stuff Kid, we gotta’ get out of here.”  Heyes started stuffing clothing into his saddlebags.

 

“What?  What’s the matter?”

 

“Posse.  They’re in the saloon asking about us.  I managed to slip out past them.  We gotta’ get back to Devil’s Hole before they realize we’re still in town.  I figure if we ride hard tonight, we can be there by morning.  What should we do with him?”  Heyes gestured to Sam sleeping peacefully through the commotion.

 

Kid was brought up short by Heyes’ question.

 

“We’ll have to take him with us until we can figure out what to do.”

 

“Take him to Devil’s Hole?  Kid are you crazy?  I have enough trouble with Kyle bringing stray animals in, much less us bringing in a baby.”

 

“What are our options Heyes?  We can’t stay here, and we can’t leave Sam alone.  Obviously no one else will take him in this town!”  Kid stood between Sam and Heyes in an unconscious gesture of protection.

 

“Ok, ok Kid, I suppose you’re right.  I don’t know how I’m going to explain this to the rest of the gang though.”  Heyes shook his head, not believing he had actually agreed to this plan. 

 

They gathered up their few belongings and snuck down the back stairs of the hotel, Kid carrying Sam carefully so not to wake him.  They managed to slip out of town and were well on their way to Devil’s Hole before the posse realized they were gone.

 

Dawn broke as the two weary riders and one grumpy toddler made it into the hideout.  Heyes and Kid braced themselves for the inevitable reaction to Sam’s presence.

 

“What the heck is that Heyes?  We runnin’ a home for waywards now?”  Wheat said, always trying to goad Heyes into a fight.

Heyes just sighed and rubbed his hand across his eyes.  “Wheat, I am just too tired to fight with you right now, and I’m libel to shoot you instead, so I’m going to forget you said anything and go get some sleep.”  He dismounted and led his horse wearily to the barn leaving Kid to deal with Sam and Wheat by himself.

 

Frustrated in his attempt to rile Heyes, Wheat turned on Kid who was still mounted on his horse with Sam sitting in front of him.

 

“So, maybe this is your kid, that why you brought him here?”  Wheat got right up next to Kid’s horse and looked closely at Sam. 

 

“Wheat, I’m warning you, leave it alone for now.”

 

“Sure is ugly enough to be your kid.”

 

“That’s it, I’m just gonna’ shoot you and get it over with.”  Kid was reaching for his gun, half-way serious about shooting Wheat.

 

“NO!  Bad!”  Sam yelled suddenly and reached out and knocked Wheat’s hat off his head, much to the delight of the other gang members who didn’t even try to disguise their laughter.

 

“Why you little…”  Wheat reached for Sam, only to find himself staring down the barrel of Kid’s gun.

 

“I told you once, we’re too tired to deal with you right now Wheat, so would suggest letting this drop for the moment.”  Kid’s quiet yet deadly voice seemed to get through to Wheat, and he backed off mumbling something about just wait until he got that brat alone.   Kid sighed and dismounted with Sam, hoping that was the last of the trouble for now.

 

“Uh Kid?” 

 

“Yeah, what Kyle?”  Kid answered sharply, not up for any more problems from the gang.

 

“Could I, I mean, do you think he would let me hold him?”  Kyle asked sheepishly.

 

Kid was taken aback.  “Well, I don’t know Kyle.  You could try.”  Kid put Sam on the ground and Kyle crouched down eye level with him.

 

“Hi there.  I’m Kyle.  Do you like pancakes?  We got some in the bunkhouse.”

 

Sam gave Kyle a big grin and clapped his hands.  “’Cakes! Yea!”

 

“Pancakes?”  Kid perked up at the mention of breakfast.

 

Sam put one little hand in Kyle’s and one in Kid’s and they went to the bunkhouse to have some breakfast.  They didn’t notice one of the gang members eyeing Sam with a peculiar expression on his face.

 

Sam ate almost as many pancakes as Kid and when they were finally full, Kid brought him to the leader’s cabin.

 

“You missed out on some good breakfast Heyes.  Lobo sure knows how to make some good pancakes.”  Kid rubbed his stomach for emphasis, not seeing Sam standing behind him mimicking his every move.

 

“Coffee’s good enough for me this morning Kid.  What kind of mood you pick up from the gang about Sam?”

 

“Seemed to be pretty accepting.  I think Kyle has finally found someone he can relate to.”  Kid laughed.

 

“Say Kid, do you smell something?  Check your boots, I think you stepped in something in the barn.”  Heyes wrinkled up his nose at the smell.

 

“Nope, not me, sure it’s not your boots?”

 

“Shooey.”  Sam tugged on Kid’s shirt.  “Me shooey.”

 

“You’re what…oh geez.  Heyes, um, I think it’s him.”  Kid started backing away from Sam, who just followed, laughing at this new game.

 

“You mean he’s…well I’m not changing him.”  Heyes crossed his arms over his chest.

 

“What make you think I know anything about changing diapers??  Do we even have anything to use as a diaper?”

 

 They both looked around the cabin frantically.  Kid came out of Heyes’ room with a clean bandanna.

 

“Oh now wait just a minute Kid.  You’re not thinking of using that are you?”

 

“You got a better idea?”

 

“Yeah, use your own bandanna!”  Heyes tried to pull the bandanna out of Kid’s hand and they ended up in a tug-of-war.

 

“Me me!” Sam jumped in grabbing the other corner, delighted at this new game.

 

“All right, enough.  Fine, take the bandanna, just change him; I can’t stand the smell any more.”  Heyes let go and retreated across the room.

 

Kid grumbled about being stuck with the dirty work as he picked Sam up and laid him on the table.  He soon found out that changing an active two-year old was easier said then done, and Heyes trying not to laugh in the corner wasn’t helping matters any.

 

“Heyes, I’m about two seconds from flattening you.  You think you could give me a little help here?”  Kid realized he needed more than two hands for this job.

 

Heyes reluctantly came over and Kid handed him the dirty diaper.

 

“What do you expect me to do with this???”  Heyes held it with two fingers as far away from himself as he could.

 

“I don’t really care, wash it, burn it, just get it out of here.  I’m having enough trouble figuring out how to get the clean one on!”  Kid had one hand on Sam and was trying to figure out how to tie the bandanna on, but it kept falling off.

 

A knock on the door made them both growl in frustration.

 

“What!?”  Heyes yelled.

 

Kyle peeked his head in.  “Heyes I just needed to ask you…say, Kid, you need some help with that?”

 

Heyes and Kid stared at him openmouthed.  “Kyle, you know how to change diapers?”

 

Kyle looked kind of sheepish.  “Yeah, I had little brothers and mom needed help when they were babies.  Here, let me show you.”  They watched, amazed, as Kyle took the bandanna from Kid’s hand and expertly put it on Sam.   Sam held out his arms for Kyle to pick him up and contentedly settled in against Kyle’s chest, fingers in his mouth. 

 

“Why Kyle, you’re great with kids.  Ever think about having one of your own?”  Heyes looked at him with new respect.

 

Naw, ain’t never found a woman who would have me yet.  I do like kids though, and they seem to like me.”  He tickled Sam under the chin, earning him a grin.

 

“Well maybe you’d like to take him out to play for awhile; I got some stuff I need to discuss with Kid here.” 

 

Kyle looked more than happy to take charge of Sam for awhile.  Heyes shut the door behind him and leaned against it.

 

Kid shook his head.  “Kyle.  Imagine that.  Who’d of ever guessed.”  They took advantage of the quiet time while Sam was with Kyle to discuss what to do with Sam.

 

Meanwhile, Kyle was showing Sam around outside.

 

“See that’s a horse.”  Kyle put him up on the back of one of the horses in the corral.

 

Horsey.  Whee!”  Sam was having a great time.  Occasionally some of the other gang members would find an excuse to come around and play with him a little.  Everyone except Wheat that is,  and a new gang member named Lewis who had ridden in a couple of weeks before.  He didn’t come near Sam, but he seemed to be constantly watching him from the shadows of the barn or the trees. 

 

Kid and Heyes were trying to discuss their next job, but they kept getting interrupted all day long by different people.  First it was Lobo wanting to know what they thought Sam would like for lunch, and then Hank came in asking if they knew when Sam’s birthday was because he wanted to give him a party.  The final straw was Preacher coming in wanting to know how they planned to provide for Sam’s spiritual upbringing.  Finally Heyes had enough and called them all together.

 

“Look at you all, acting like a bunch of mother hens.  I don’t care what Sam eats for lunch or dinner, I don’t care if you want to throw him a party, and he’s not going to be here long enough for us to bring him up with religion or anything else for that matter!  Just leave me out of it!  You boys don’t get too attached to him; he’s leaving as soon as we can find a place for him.”  Heyes looked down where Sam was tugging at his pant leg. 

 

“What now?  Don’t tell me you’ve got another dirty diaper??”  Heyes was about at the end of his rope.

 

“Hug.”  Sam held out his arms for Heyes to pick him up.

 

“What??  Oh fine.”  Heyes sighed disgustedly and picked him up.  Sam wrapped his arms around Heyes’ neck and snuggled in.  Heyes stood like that for a second, not quite sure what to do.  He finally gently pulled him away and handed him to Kid and turned to go back into the leader’s cabin.  He stopped and whispered something just for Kid to hear.

 

“If they give him a party, make sure there’s cake.  Kids love cake.” 

 

Kid grinned and nodded, knowing better than to tease Heyes at this moment.

 

Over the next couple of days, several of the gang members got involved in planning a party for Sam, having decided that since they didn’t know when his birthday was, they’d just make one up.  All of them were busy with helping except Wheat, Lewis, and Heyes, who was trying to pretend not to be interested, but he would ask Kid about the preparations every evening.

 

The day of the party dawned bright and sunny, a perfect day.  Heyes was amazed at the decorations and the food the gang managed to come up with, and there was even a stack of presents.  Sam had the best time running from person to person and participating in the games Kyle had come up with.  The gang had as much fun as Sam, including Kid who was trying to teach Sam how to shoot a slingshot.  Heyes had to laugh in spite of himself, and even jumped in and got into a discussion with Kid on the best way to hold the slingshot. 

 

Wheat sat off to the side, grumbling about them all acting like children.  He looked down to see Sam staring up at him with his big brown eyes.

 

“What do you want?”  Wheat glared at him.

 

“’Cake?”  Sam offered him a plate with a large piece of cake on it.

 

“For me?  You brought me some cake?  Now why’d you go and do a thing like that?”  Wheat took the cake and looked at Sam, confused.

 

“Yummy!”  Sam smiled at Wheat and rubbed his stomach.

 

“Well, I don’t know what to say.  Thanks.”   Sam ran off back to the party, leaving Wheat to eat his cake.  “I guess maybe he’s not such a bad kid after all.” 

 

Later that afternoon, everyone was sitting around, tired from the games, most napping in the warm sun.  It wasn’t until a couple hours later that Kid realized they hadn’t seen Kyle or Sam for quite awhile.

 

“Heyes, you seen Sam?” 

 

Heyes had his hat pulled over his eyes and was laying back against a tree.  “I think Kyle took him in for a nap a while back.  I wouldn’t be too worried.”

 

“I think I’ll go check on them anyway.  You never know what kind of trouble they might get into.”

 

“Suit yourself.”

 

Kid wandered to the leader’s cabin, and finding it empty, he went to the bunkhouse.  He was starting to get concerned when he heard a thumping noise coming from the barn.  He ran over and found Kyle tied up and gagged, kicking the wall to get someone’s attention.  Kid quickly untied him and helped him up.

 

“Kyle what happened?  Where’s Sam?” 

 

“That new guy, Lewis.  He jumped me from behind, tied me up and grabbed Sam.  He rode out a couple of hours ago.  I’m so sorry Kid.  You know I wouldn’t let anything happen to that little boy on purpose.”  Kyle rubbed his hands trying to get some feeling back into them.

 

“I know Kyle.  The important thing now is that we find them fast.”

 

Kid got everyone rounded up and Heyes had a search plan in short order.  They were all willing to help find Sam, even Wheat, who volunteered to lead one of the search parties. 

 

Heyes, Kid and Kyle followed the tracks of Lewis’ horse until they lost them on a rocky patch of ground.

 

“Where to now?”  Kid was frustrated and worried.

 

Heyes thought for a moment.  “There’s some caves about a half-mile to the north.  We could try there.  Other than that, I just don’t know Kid.”  Heyes looked as worried as Kid. 

 

They found Lewis’ horse at the opening to the caves.  As they quietly snuck in, they could see the flickering light of a fire reflected from around a bend in the cave.  Heyes had to physically restrain both Kid and Kyle when they heard the sound of Sam screaming.

 

“Just wait, we have to see what we’re walking into.”  They crept around the bend and saw Sam backing up against the wall while Lewis slowly stalked him.

 

“Such a pretty little boy.  You an me gonna’ have some fun.” 

 

Heyes felt sick when he heard this, and he could feel Kid slowly sliding the gun from his holster and he knew Kid was feeling the same way.  Lewis’ back was to them as Kid stepped into the firelight.

 

“I don’t think so Lewis. Let him go.”  It was an effort for Kid to keep from shooting him in the back right there.

 

Lewis froze for an instant and then before anyone could react, he grabbed Sam and held a knife to his throat.

 

“Put down the gun or I’ll slit his throat, I swear.”  Lewis looked like he meant every word he said.  Sam’s eyes were huge and dark in the firelight and they could see the tracks of tears on his cheeks. 

 

Heyes stepped up next to Kid.  “Now come on Lewis, let him go.  You haven’t done anything wrong yet, just let him go and you can walk out of here.” 

 

“I don’t know why you all care about some half-breed kid anyway.  Just let me have him and you won’t have to worry about what to do with him.”  They could see the crazed look in Lewis’ eyes and it turned their blood to ice.  They could see pure evil in his eyes.

 

Sam’s frightened sobs were getting louder during this whole exchange until finally he let out a loud yell.

 

“NO!  Bad man!”  He bit Lewis on the arm, startling him and taking his attention off Kid.  As Sam dropped to the ground, Heyes and Kid moved simultaneously, Kid shooting Lewis in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground as Heyes dove for Sam covering him with his body.

 

When the dust settled, Heyes was comforting Sam, who had a death grip on his neck and was sobbing for his mommy, and Kid was standing over Lewis pointing the gun at his head.

 

“Kid, don’t.”  Heyes said softly.

 

“He’s just a predator Heyes.  I’d be doing the world a favor by getting rid of him.”  Kid was gritting his teeth trying to retain control.  “You know what he would have done to Sam if he’d gotten the chance.”

 

“I know, and he’s evil and sick.  But it still doesn’t make it right to kill him in cold blood.  Let him go Kid.  We’ll deal with him another way.” 

 

Kyle stepped up, momentarily forgotten in the chaos.  “Let me deal with him Heyes, please?  I owe that much to Sam for losing him in the first place.” 

 

Heyes gave him a measuring look.  “I can’t let you kill him either Kyle.”

 

“Oh I’m not gonna’ kill him Heyes, but he’ll wish he was dead by the time I’m through with him.” 

 

This was a different Kyle than Kid or Heyes had ever seen.  He was so angry his face was purple.  Kid looked at him and then looked at Heyes, who nodded.  Kid slowly put his gun back in the holster and backed up as Kyle stepped up.

 

“Ah Kyle, we’re gonna’ head back.  Clean up when you’re finished, ok?”  Heyes and Kid took Sam and started out of the cave.  They could hear Lewis screaming as they left.

 

“Don’t leave me with him, he’s crazy!!”

 

They never looked back.

 

Back at the cabin, they got Sam cleaned up and settled into bed where he fell asleep immediately, exhausted from his ordeal. 

 

“That was quite a scare we had today.”  Heyes sat down heavily in the chair next to Kid in front of the fire.  “Ended up ok, but it could have been worse.  We really need to find him a place where he’s safe, and it isn’t with us, you know that.”

 

Kid sighed.  “I know.  And I know it’s got to be soon.  I wish he had some family that we knew about somewhere.”

 

 Heyes leaned his head back and closed his eyes.  “Let’s not think about it any more tonight Kid.  Maybe we can come up with something in the morning.”  They sat in companionable silence for awhile until their peace was interrupted by screams from outside.

 

“What now??” Heyes asked as he and Kid jumped up from their chairs.  The door slammed open against the wall and two Indians burst into the room, grabbed Heyes and Kid and dragged them outside. 

 

They were shocked to find a  war party of about 10 braves outside holding the members of the gang at gunpoint.  The man who seemed to be leading them stepped up in front of Kid and Heyes.

 

“Where is my son?  I got word that my wife was dead and the people in the town said you were the last ones to have my son.  I tracked you here, now where is he?”  The brave spoke perfect English, much to the surprise of Heyes and Kid.

 

“Your son?  You mean Sam?” 

 

“Daddy?”  Sam stood on the porch of the cabin, rubbing his sleepy eyes.  “Daddy!”  He jumped off the porch and ran into the arms of the man talking to Kid and Heyes.

 

“Little Bird, I’ve been looking for you.  I’m so happy to see you.”  They hugged, obviously overjoyed to see each other.

 

The Indian turned back to Kid and Heyes.  “You have been taking care of him these past days?”  At their nods, he gestured for them to be released.  “It seems I owe you thanks.  He looks well and happy.  I am grateful to you.”  He shook both their hands and turned to mount his horse along with the other braves.

 

“NO!”  Sam yelled, startling all of them.  He struggled out of his father’s arms and ran to Kid and then Heyes, giving them each a big hug around their legs before going back to his father. 

 

“Bye-bye!”  He waved happily from atop the pony as they left.  Kid and Heyes watched them go and then turned wearily back to the cabin.

 

“Gonna’ seem kind of quiet around here.”  Kid said when they were finally back in their chairs in front of the fire.

 

“Yeah, thank goodness.”  Heyes gave a small chuckle.  “Part of me is going to miss him though.”

 

Kid looked over at him.  “Why Heyes, I didn’t think you cared.”

 

Heyes gave him a sideways look.  “Well, we finally found something Kyle was really good at.  Gonna’ be hard to find something to replace that.  Maybe we should get him a puppy.”

 

“Or a wife and kids.”

 

Heyes groaned.  “I think we’d have better luck finding him a puppy.”