Return To Devil’s Hole
Do you believe in magic? That kind of magic that allows anything to happen? Well maybe you should. Cause you never know what might happen.
She looked around at her surroundings and shook her head. When the topic of a trip to Devil’s Hole first came up, it had sounded like fun. To see where the Devil’s Hole Gang had lived and planned their robberies sounded like a wonderful outing. She had read stories of the Gang and it’s leaders since she was just a young kid. But, like other things, dreams often paled when compared to reality. And now, standing in the middle of Devil’s Hole, she was more than disappointed, she was angry. The bunkhouse was barely recognizable with its crumbling roof and collapsed frame. The corral where horses were kept had long ago rotted away. Remnants of a building lay in the dust, a sign no longer readable. She walked around kicking at stones, and wishing she could have seen the area before time and weather had turned it into something less than a ghost town.
The only building still standing, sort of, was in front of her. She paused to survey the wooden structure with it’s windows boarded over, while putting both arms through her backpack and hoisting it into a comfortable position on her back. She knew without consulting her map that this was the leaders cabin. Situated in the center of the camp, this building once was home to fierce men, men who could make people tremble just by the sound of their names. Men who could control one of the most dreaded and hunted bunch of men to ever ride horses in this era. She stopped, searching her mind for the names of these leaders. Lets see, first there was Jim Palmer. He had run the gang for a short while, but had disappeared with $30,000 from a job. History showed that he had changed his name to Sloan and had become a very prominent citizen in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Next there had been Jim Santana, or Big Jim as he was known. Big Jim had been captured and sent to prison, serving seven years before being released. After prison, he had returned to Devil’s Hole for a short time, intending on returning to his criminal ways. But fate had another idea, in the form of a woman. Jim had left Devil’s Hole, never to return. History talks that he married, raised a family, and lived to the ripe old age of 75.
One of the leaders of the Gang was Wheat Carlson. History doesn’t have much to say about Wheat, except that during this time the Gang only did minor jobs, seemingly unable to complete large, complicated robberies, probably due to lack of real leadership.
She glanced around again, turning in a circle to survey the area. So much history in this place, and no one seemed to care anymore. Even the people who sold the maps were only interested in the money and not how much this place mattered to so many. She glanced to see where her companions were, but could not see them anymore. They too probably were walking outside the actual compound, more interested in the area than in the camp. She shook her head. Maybe there was something wrong with her, but she had always felt a connection to this place, even as a child.
She closed her eyes and remembered back to a time when she was young, reading the stories about the gang and their leaders.
“Mommy, can I go there someday?” The little girl glanced up from her storybook, watching her mother for an answer.
“Sure you can honey. Anything is possible if you believe it enough.”
The little girl frowned, thinking about what her mother had said. “So all I have to do is believe and I can go there.”
Her mother walked over to where the little girl was sitting at the table, and reached out her hand to stroke her hair.
“As long as there is magic in the world, you can go any place you want to. Just whatever you do, don’t lose the magic.”
“Why is that Mommy?”
The woman paused, a sad look crossing her eyes. “Cause when you lose the magic, it means the end to your childhood, and that is something that you can never get back again.”
“Do you still believe?” The little girl waited for an answer from her mother.
She shook her head. “No. A long time ago, someone once told me to stop believing in dreams and magic, and I did. Now, it is gone for me.”
She reached out to take her daughter’s hands in hers, and lowered herself to be eye level with the little girl.
“So no matter what happens, don’t forget to believe. Even if that belief is only small, only a tiny bit of belief, it will still remain. And once you start remembering what you believe in, it will grow.”
The little girl looked confused. “But Mommy, you are grown up. Aren’t you suppose to not be a child anymore?”
The woman smiled. “You can be all grown up but still have the magic of childhood, as long as you never totally lose the magic. Promise me you will always hold onto a piece of the magic.”
She shook herself out of her memory. Those years seemed like so long ago now. She had tried to do just that for years. No matter what had happened she had tried to retain a little bit of believing. But it was getting harder and harder to believe, when the real world kept crashing down around her ears. This trip, if she was honest with herself, was a last ditch effort to retain the magic of her childhood. And it looked like it was slipping away very quickly.
She again turned around, and as she did she reflected on the most famous pair of leaders the Gang ever had, shifting the weight of her backpack into a more comfortable position. She really had to stop carrying so much stuff on her outings. She made a mental note of the contents of the backpack…cameras, snacks, pair of shorts and tee-shirt, notepad. And since she had not found anything to take a picture of, she really wished she had left the cameras behind, they were really starting to get heavy.
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. They were legends. They robbed banks and trains, but they never shot anyone while doing their misdeeds.
Kid Curry was known as a gunfighter and was blazing fast with a quick draw. His accuracy was never doubted and luckily was seldom tested. There was that one time, but history recorded that Bilson deserved what happened to him. A few men carried scars to the grave from confrontations with Kid, such as that Briggs fella, but most men just had a story to tell about the time they were almost shot by Kid Curry.
Hannibal Heyes was known for his ability to get into a locked safe, either by running the tumblers or by blasting the safe. No safe was safe, not if Heyes wanted in. Oh, there was the time the Gang got the dynamite wet, but that wasn’t Heyes’ fault. And the Brooker 404 was a real challenge, but Heyes finally managed that one as well. He was also known to have a silver tongue, and could talk his way out of most situations. But his greatest asset was his mind. Heyes was brilliant, especially for someone who didn't complete his formal schooling. He had a mind for numbers, and was especially gifted at poker. He read everything he could, so new ideas were constantly introduced, and often found their way into the planning of jobs.
Both Heyes and Curry did what they could to help others. Be it giving nuns a ride to town, or talking a wayward young girl into going home, this pair of outlaws won the hearts of the public. Many articles were written about this pair, and how they helped the people they came into contact with. Which made it even worse that they never were able to obtain that which was most precious to them, their amnesty.
She shook her head, pulling herself back out of her memories. Amnesty. Like anyone actually would have given them amnesty after what they had done. Guess they had a way of believing a little too much as well.
Stepped carefully stepped onto the porch, remembering the words of her mother from so long ago. She guessed her mother was wrong. That believing even a small bit could make the magic come alive again. Or else she didn’t believe at all anymore.
She tried to open the door, but found it nailed shut. Oh great, like anyone would want to steal anything from inside. She only wanted to look. She pushed again on the door, but it didn’t budge. She looked around for something to pry on the door with, but could not find anything usable.
She stomped her foot, something she had not done since she was a child. If magic existed at all, she would be able to open this door and see what was inside. Was that too much to ask? She pushed on the door, again to no avail. She stomped her foot again, hitting the door with both hands at the same time. And again. And again. She suddenly felt herself falling forward, through a rush of cool air, landing face first on a wooden floor.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. Great, just great. Could this day get any worse? She lifted her head to look at her hands, and in doing so, lifted her eyes to look into the barrel of a gun, pointed straight at her.
Silence filled the room. She continued to look down the barrel of a pistol, pointed at her, and knew not fear but confusion. She remembered pounding on the door of the cabin and falling down, but how did someone else get into the room?
“Oh you guys,” she started, figuring out that her friends had played a trick on her, moving her eyes beyond the gun, to the person holding the pistol. Blue eyes locked with hers, taking her breath away. She had never seen eyes that blue before, definitely not from any of her friends. Pulling her look away from the eyes, she took in the rest of the package. Tall and slender, blonde hair peeking from under the brown hat sitting atop his head, some curls evident. Blue long-sleeved shirt, with a brown vest. Tan jeans encased the long legs with brown boots showing from underneath the pant legs, an empty holster on his hip. She lifted her gaze back to the face and was immediately hit with the feeling of knowing this person. There was something about him that looked familiar, but she was not able to place it right now.
Looking to his left, she did the same appraisal of the man standing there. Brown hair instead of blonde, brown eyes filled with wisdom and age, an age far greater than his years. Dark blue shirt, long-sleeved, but the cuffs were turned back to reveal a white long-sleeved shirt underneath. Dark black pants were tucked inside light tan boots. His holster was riding on his right hip, but his gun was still inside. He was holding a black hat, much the worse for wear in his right hand. Even though he was not holding a gun, she knew that this man could be far more dangerous, under the right circumstances. She only hoped that these were not those circumstances.
She leaned to rest back on her knees, while maintaining her gaze on the two men standing before her. No body uttered a word. She decided to take a quick look around her, and was surprised to see the room was bright and airy. Sun shown inside from the windows, now open to allow the air to move inside the room. There was a bookshelf on one side of the room, with a handful of books resting there. Turning her head towards the opposite direction, she saw a table and chairs, coffee cups and empty plates atop. There were several closed doors, apparently leading to other rooms. Behind her, she could see the closed door, apparently the one she fell through just moments ago.
But how could that be? The door was locked, or rather nailed shut. How could she have fallen through it and landed here? And where exactly was here? And who were these men? And why did they look so familiar?
She shook her head, hoping the headache starting to form there would go away. If she had only stayed home and not come on this trip. What did she think she was going to gain by coming all the way up to Devil’s Hole? Devil’s Hole? She glanced again at the two standing in front of her, and finally realized why they looked so familiar. She knew them. Or at least of them. But how was that possible? They lived more than a hundred years ago. Not today.
The two men glanced at each other, than returned their gaze back to the woman sitting rocked back on her knees in front of them. Someone needed to speak, but all were afraid to understand something none of them understood. Who was this woman and were did she come from? They were standing here talking when all of a sudden there she was. From out of nowhere. That they just didn’t understand.
She was trying to remember what she had been thinking about when she had pounded on the door. Something about magic and losing it. Magic? Is that what happened? No, can’t be, that just isn’t possible. Magic belongs in childhood and she had left that a long time ago. Or had she?
She looked back at the men standing in front of her, willing herself to see exactly what was in front of her. This had to be an illusion, a gag done by her friends. But try as she might, the illusion didn’t change. And finally she decided that, somehow, she was inside the leader’s cabin at Devil’s Hole, and in the company of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.
She broke her gaze and shook her head in disbelief. Now what?
Her pondering was brought to an end when the dark headed outlaw spoke to her. “Who are you and how did you get here? And what do you want?”
She looked into his eyes, and saw the same confusion that he had to be seeing in hers. They had no idea of what had happened either. A fine mess this was turning out to be.
“Heyes, I have no answer to that question? Do you?”
The outlaw was brought up short by the use of his name. Had she been on a train they had robbed. He quickly searched his memory, but could not recall ever having seen her face before. And her face he was sure he would remember. Brown hair falling just over her shoulders. Brown eyes, not dark as his but lighter. A delicate neckline which disappeared into a shirt which had no buttons. She was wearing blue jeans and something white on her feet, which didn’t look like any kind of footwear he had ever seen before. He could see a fine necklace surrounding her neck, and something golden around her left arm. She was definitely dressed very peculiar to how they were used to seeing women dressed. No, this one he would have definitely remembered. So how did she know his name?
She smiled and shook her head. “Yeah, that’s right. I know who you are.” And nodding towards the blonde, “And you too Kid Curry.”
Both men stared at the woman who remained down on the floor, now struggling to remove a pack from her back. Risking a quick glance at each other, they once again returned their gaze to this unknown person before them.
She was finally able to remove the backpack, and placed it on the floor to her right. Leaning slightly forward onto her knees, she placed her feet firmly on the floor, and pushed herself into a standing position. She moved slowly, cause the last thing she wanted to do was to get herself shot here, where ever that might be.
“Who are you?” Heyes asked.
She dusted her hands on her jeans, and placing her hands on her hips, looked directly into the eyes of her childhood hero. “Name’s Dianna, but my friends call me Dee.”
“Well Dee, how did you get here?” Heyes waited for an answer.
She shook her head, not sure what to say. “I don’t really know. I was wandering around outside……” and got no further.
“You were outside, and the boys didn’t stop you?” Heyes found this hard to believe.
She shook her head. “No, there isn’t anyone out there.”
Heyes walked around her headed for the door while Kid kept his gun pointed on her. Reaching the door, he turned the handle and pulled the door open wide. She was amazed at what she saw through the doorway, and eased towards the opening.
Stepping out onto the now solid porch, she saw not destruction and decay but a thriving area, men walking around talking, buildings standing proudly in the morning sun. There was smoke coming from the chimney of the cook shake. Many horses were moving around in the corral, waiting to be ridden. She turned her head slowly, trying to take in all the sights, but it only caused her head to pound more.
She slowly shook her head, trying to clear up the confusion. Heyes stepped out onto the porch besides her.
“How did you say you got here again?”
She looked up into the deepest brown eyes she had even in her entire life seen. Strange how she always imagined that they would have a twinkle in the corner, because now they were very dark and dangerous looking.
“I told you, there wasn’t anyone here, I just don’t understand….” Her thoughts trailed off as she realized how bad this was all starting to sound.
Heyes reached out and put his hand on her upper arm, easily pulling her back inside the cabin and shut the door. Enough of the boys had seen her, he didn’t need to compound that right now.
“Sit down,” Heyes said, pointing her towards a chair in the kitchen. He stood over the table, while Kid remained rooted in the same spot, gun still pointed on the strange woman. He watched the woman walk over to the table and sit down, noting once again her clothing and mannerisms. But the thing he noticed most about her was the look of puzzlement that was on her face, and the confusion in her eyes.
Dianna sat down in the chair, shaking her head in amazement. What had happened? How did she get to this place? The last thing she remembered was pounding on the door and remembering what her mother had said about the magic. Could the magic be responsible for this? Could believing just a little bit have caused this to happen? And what exactly was this? And how was she going to get back?
She was pulled back to the present, or was that the past, by the sound of her name.
“Dee.” She glanced back up into the face of Hannibal Heyes. Confusion was in his eyes, and a big dose of wariness. No wonder, she thought.
Heyes walked closer to her, and keeping a safe distance, pulled out another chair and sat down, bringing him more into her view. He glanced at Kid, and motioning with his hand, indicated that he could lower his gun. Heyes knew somehow that this creature was not dangerous, crazy maybe, but not dangerous.
“What happened? How did you get here? And where is home?”
She shook her head. “I told you. I was outside…..”
Heyes slammed his hand down onto the table. “I think we already determined that you were not outside.”
She looked directly into his face, determination apparent. She didn’t let anyone talk to her like that, not even the infamous Hannibal Heyes.
“Look mister, you might think you know everything, but I am here to tell you that you don’t.”
Heyes was jolted back a bit by her words. No one spoke to him that way, except Kid, and even that was seldom.
“Alright, Miss Dee. Tell me your story.”
“Its not Miss Dee, just Dee will do.”
She shook her head once again, than started her story.
“I live in Missouri, but came out this way with some friends on vacation. We talked about coming here to see the place, and drove out here this morning….” She looked at Heyes, who was shaking his head. “What?”
“What? There isn’t a team of horses out in the yard.”
She laughed. “A Jeep.”
Heyes leaned forward. “A what?”
“What is that?”
“A vehicle. Has a motor, four tires, steering wheel.”
Heyes looked up at Kid, shaking his head, clearly he thought she was insane.
“I am not crazy……look, I live in a time where we drive cars and trucks, and ride horses for pleasure, not transportation….” She was getting an even worse headache, trying to explain all of this.
“I know this sounds strange, but I am from the year 2005. I was here looking around, upset about the way this place had been allowed to go to ruin, and fell through the door, back in this time. And that is the truth.” She raised her head and crossed her arms over her chest, daring either of them to dispute what she had said.
Heyes looked for a long time at the woman, but saw nothing to indicate that she wasn’t telling the truth, at least as she saw it. He looked up at Kid, motioning for him to lower the gun, which he had drawn when Heyes had slapped the table. Kid returned the gun to his holster, but left it unsnapped, in case he needed to draw it again in a hurry.
“Look, I know you believe what you are saying,” the rest of his statement cut off suddenly as Dee stood up, placing hands on hips, and stared down at the infamous leader of the Devil’s Hole Gang.
“You think you are so smart, but I am here to tell you Mr. Heyes, that you don’t know everything there is to know. I can prove to you that what I am saying is true.” And she marched over to where her backpack lay forgotten on the floor. Picking up the bag, she walked back over to the table, placing it on top. She unzipped the bag and rummaged through until she found items she was looking for.
She picked up her camera and pointed it at Heyes, pushing a button. Heyes jumped up and to the side, drawing his gun in the process. His draw, though fast, was still much slower than that of his partner, who had redrawn his and now she had two guns pointed directly on her. She looked from one than the other, shaking her head in disbelief. How did they ever get so famous? Must have been some very stupid people alive in their day, now, whatever! She moved a lever on the camera until what she was looking for was showing up on the screen, than motioned for Heyes to come see what she had done.
Heyes moved slowly to where Dee stood, trusting Kid to watch his back. He glanced at the object in her hand, than did a double take as he saw himself on the screen. He reached out to her, and she placed the object in his hand, allowing him a better view of it. He stared at the screen, than into her face.
“What is it?”
“It’s called a digital camera. Images are instantly placed on a media card and you can see the picture taken.”
Heyes continued to stare at the image. He was familiar with cameras, but not this kind. The ones he knew about involved big black boxes, curtains, and fire and smoke. Handing the camera back to Dee, he lifted inquisitive eyes to her.
“I told you. And this,” she lifted another object out of the bag, “is my still camera. You can’t see the pictures until they are developed, but I can take pictures from far away with this one.”
Reaching again into the bag, she brought out a small item, which fit in her hand.
“This is a cell phone.”
Heyes frowned and stepped forward. Always someone wanting to experiment and learn, he found he was less scared and more in wonderment at these new discoveries. “What is that?”
“It is a telephone, only one that you carry in your bag, or purse, or in your pocket. It rings, and you can talk.” She flipped the phone open, showing them how to use it by placing it to her ear. Of course there was no signal here, in a time before cell telephones had been invented. She handed the phone to Heyes. Wasn’t like he could call anyone on it.
Heyes turned the cell phone over and over again, looking at the numbers. He pushed buttons and dropped the phone as one of the buttons caused music to come from the phone.
Dee laughed as she bent to pick up the phone. “You can program the phone to play different music with different people who call.”
Heyes looked at her puzzled. “But where are all the wires?”
Dee smiled. Heyes noticed how nice that looked. “You don’t have any, cause it is wireless. Done by satellites and such.”
Dee shook her head. “Yeah, big things circling in outer space. Even I don’t understand most of the technology, but it is fun.”
She reached into her backpack again and pulled out a round object, slightly larger than her hand. “This is called a walkman. It plays music which you listen to through these headphones,” which she placed over her ears. She hit a button and was soon dancing around the room, which received some very strange looks from the gentlemen in the room. When she reached Heyes, she stopped, and removing the headphones, she placed them over his ears. He heard the sounds of music coming from the headphones, and was too surprised to be scared. But these sounds were very different than those he was used to hearing in the saloons they frequented.
Heyes reached up to remove the headphones, handing them back to Dee.
“So, if I believe you about not being from this time, what are you doing here? How did you get here? And most important, how do we get you back?”
Dee looked down at the ground, shaking her head. She too had been thinking about that, but had no ideas at the present time.
“I don’t know. But obviously there is a reason. We just need to figure it out.”
Kid spoke up, surprising both the other two people in the room. “Whatever figuring needs to be done, lets do it later. It is time for supper, and I’m hungry.”
Dee laughed at the same time that Heyes did and together they said, “When aren’t you hungry?” which caused both to laugh even harder.
Supper was a quiet time, with each lost in their own thoughts. Afterwards, it was decided that Dee would take the second bedroom, while Heyes and Curry took the other. As she picked up her things and prepared to enter the room for the night, she was halted by Heyes’ last request.
“Before you go, I need for you to take off your shoes and leave them by the door.”
She frowned. “Why?”
Heyes looked at her, “Because you are not going to get far without shoes, and one of us will hear you if you get up during the night. So its best to leave them there, take away any temptation you might feel about walking around in the dark by yourself. You don’t know this area, and there are wild animals which prowl around. And even wilder men.”
They could see that she was not willing, but she walked over and kicked off her shoes by the door, pivoting quickly and disappeared behind the door.
Kid and Heyes looked at each other. “Heyes, what are we going to do with her?”
Heyes shook his head. “I don’t know Kid. I can’t figure it all out. But I do know this….things are going to get very interesting before we get the answer to that question.”
Heyes woke slowly from sleep the next morning. He and Kid had been on the move so much recently that their sleep had been in short segments, mostly on the hard ground. He was finding himself wondering if their current lifestyle was the way he was going to have to live forever, dodging posses and bullets all the time. Something had to give, and soon, or else neither of them might live to see old age. If only that amnesty would come through, then they could be free, to live the lives they wanted to live, and stop this constant running. But when that would happen, he didn’t have a clue. They had been trying for this amnesty for more than a year now. The governor had said a year in the beginning, but had pushed the time frame back every time they saw him. Now, it was starting to look like they would never see it happen.
Heyes decided he had pondered enough so early in the morning and slowly opened his eyes to see the first rays of morning peeking through the east window. He loved the early morning, when things were calm and making ready for the day. Glancing over to the bed where Kid was still asleep, Heyes eased himself up and off the bed, bending down to pick up his boots and gunbelt, before slipping from the room.
Once in the kitchen, it didn’t take long to rekindle the fire in the cookstove and set coffee to brewing. Heyes glanced around, having the uncanny feeling that something was amiss, but not able to figure just exactly what was wrong. The smell of coffee pulled him back in its direction, and since he was best at thinking after he had had a cup or two, decided to forego any additional thinking at the present time. This was after all Devil’s Hole, and no one get in or out without someone being aware. Lawmen had spent years trying to discover the entrance, but so far none had. Heyes poured a cup of coffee and carefully took the first sip, relishing the taste on his tongue. He just couldn’t understand why Kid complained so much about his coffee.
Heyes continued to sip on his coffee, his thoughts returning once again to the fortress that was Devil’s Hole. It had been the hideout for many men, often welcoming those who had no other place to go. Only those who were on the inside knew exactly how well guarded this place really was. Heyes was slowly making a walk around the cabin as he thought about all the things that made up this refuge, which he still continued to have a nagging sensation that something was amiss. Heyes glanced towards the door to the other bedroom, where Dee had be instructed to sleep last night. He wasn’t exactly sure how what had happened had happened, but did believe that she was not from this time. Those strange objects she pulled out of her pack attested to that. But what it all meant, he had no idea.
Heyes walked over to the chair and started to sit down when his eyes strayed to a spot just beside the cabin entrance. Alarms were sounding in his head, but it took a few more seconds to realize what was causing this to happen. Hie eyes finally located what was wrong, her shoes. Dee’s shoes were not sitting beside the doorway. Heyes glanced towards the bedroom door and noticed for the first time that it was slightly ajar. He walked rapidly towards the bedroom, putting his coffee cup on the table. He mentally shook himself for being so lax in realizing what was wrong, guess it was from too much sleep.
He knocked on the door, and receiving no answer, pushed the door open and surveyed the empty room. The bed was made, the room tidy. Swearing silently Heyes returned to his room and shook Kid from sleep.
“Kid, she’s gone.”
Curry stirred slowly, easing open first one eye that the other.
“Come on Kid, we have to go find her, she’s gone.”
Kid was instantly awake, throwing back the covers and sitting up. Sticking his feet into his boots, he reached to grab his holster which was resting on the head of the bed. He hurried to catch up with Heyes, who had already returned to the living area, mentally checking off where she could have gone.
Kid checked his gun, than reholstered it. “Where do you thing we should start looking?”
Heyes shook his head, “I’m not sure. I guess….” He was brought up short when the door opened and in walked Dee herself. The next thing that Heyes noticed was that she was only half dressed. He grabbed the blanket from the couch and threw it around her, disregarding her protests.
“What are you doing?” Dee was struggling to get out from under the blanket as hard as Heyes was trying to keep it around her.
“What do you think you are doing, outside dressed like that?” Heyes was having a hard time keeping the blanket secured over the struggling form.
“There’s nothing wrong with the way I am dressed, now let me go.” Her ending statement was reinforced by a hard push, which caught Heyes in the chest. This caused him to stumble backwards, and tangling his feet in the blanket, he fell, landing on his backside, the blanket settling over his head.
Dee’s anger was quickly gone when she took one look at the outlaw trying to get out from beneath the blanket. Her laughter rang out, triggering a responding laugh from Kid, who had up until this time been a silent observer. Heyes could not find anything funny to laugh about, and finally managing to rid himself of the blanket, shifted his blazing brown eyes from first Dee to Kid, than back to Dee. Kid, having seen that look before, instantly sobered. But Dee had missed the meaning of the look, and continued to laugh.
Heyes got to his feet and tried to stare Dee down. He only managed to cause her to laugh even harder.
“Just what is so funny?”
Dee pointed to Heyes and continued to fight a losing battle with laughter.
“What about me?” Heyes asked, putting his hands on his hips.
“The picture of the great Hannibal Heyes, on the floor, hidden beneath a blanket. That is too funny.”
Heyes glared at Dee. “Well, you don’t look so good yourself, standing there half naked. And where have you been?”
Dee looked down at herself, and frowning, looked back up, making eye content with Heyes.
“What’s wrong with the way I’m dressed?”
Heyes dropped his hands and took a half step forward. Dee stood her ground.
“What’s wrong?” He shook his head. “your arms and legs are bare, and you are exposing more than, than, than the saloon girls in town,” Heyes ended his tirade, stuttering.
Dee found herself mimicking Heyes previous stance by putting her hands on her hips. “This way is acceptable in my world. In fact, I am dressed conservatively. You should see how some of the girls dress when they go to the beach.”
“How’s that?” Kid asked, stepping eagerly forward, to return to his original position by one look from Heyes. Geez, couldn’t a guy have any fun?
“Well Missy, you aren’t in your world, you are in mine. So you will need to conduct yourself much more conservatively than you have been doing this morning. By the way,” Heyes asked frowning, “just what were you doing out so early this morning?”
“Well, if you must know, I went for a run.”
“From what?” Heyes asked confused. Did she have something chasing her too, and stepped to the window, looking outside for any signs of danger.
Dee shook her head. “Not from anything. In my world we run for fun and exercise.”
Heyes pulled back away from the window, and looked towards Dee for the first time taking in more than her bare legs. Her hair was pulled back behind her head, with those things she called headphones draped around her neck. Her face was flushed, but how much was due to the confrontation with Heyes he didn’t know. She had an open necked, sleeveless shirt, which he noticed for the first time was drenched, as if she had been caught in a rainstorm. Black, loose fitting material covered her waist and hips, but ended well above her knees. White socks disappeared into the shoes she was wearing, the same ones missing from beside the door. Heyes pulled his gaze back up, pausing slightly to take in her shapely calfs. When his eyes met hers, he looked away quickly, embarrassed at being caught looking. And that slight smile upon her face spoke volumes.
Heyes stepped away from the window and glanced at Kid, wishing he hadn’t as he saw Dee’s smile reflected in Kid’s face. He just couldn’t win today.
Pivoting back towards her, he stood there silently waiting for an answer.
“Oh, for crying out loud. These are shorts,” she said pointing to the black material. “They are made to wear when it is hot outside, as they keep you cooler. Also when you exercise, you find your legs are not encumbered and much more free to move around. There is nothing wrong with showing some skin,” she ended, pleased with herself.
“Maybe not,” said Heyes, “But you have to remember, those boys out there are lonely and not used to seeing a woman, let alone one half-dressed. So remember that the next time you are out for a run.”
Dee started to speak, but the impact of what Heyes was saying finally hit home, and she closed her mouth, swallowing the comment she had planned to make. Both waited, not moving, not speaking, just waiting. Kid’s “Don’t ya think it is time to go get cleaned up for breakfast?” was the perfect escape route, and Dee didn’t hesitate, spinning away from Heyes and moving back to her room, where she firmly closed the door.
Heyes looked at Kid, than shook his head. Somehow he didn’t think this was anywhere near to being over with. And he was so right.
An hour later found all three sitting at the table, quietly eating breakfast. Heyes was making sure to keep his head down, the last thing he wanted to do was get involved in another conversation with her until he had at least figured out some of what was happening here. Heyes never liked not knowing.
Dee found herself looking at her plate as well. She was feeling sticky and dirty, even though she had used water and a wash cloth, or a sponge bath as her Grandmother would have called it, to clean up after her run. She would have liked to have gone down to the stream for a real bath, but didn’t want to push her luck right now, she had a feeling she had already pushed it too far.
Kid was spending his time looking from one to the other, both trying really hard to not look at each other. A smile formed on his lips. This could be quite interesting before it was finished.
Mid-morning found Dee in her room and the boys at the table, talking over a job they had been planning for a week now. They hadn’t been able to get work for a while, and their money was quickly going. So they were working on something which hopefully would allow them to make enough money to help stock the place for winter. Having been on the run for so long, each was looking forward to staying in Devil’s Hole for the winter, regaining some needed rest and hopefully convincing the boys to try to go straight. Not that going straight had done much for them so far, but they were not giving up hope just yet. Breakfast had ended as a silent affair, with Dee leaving the table as soon as she was done, and Heyes not saying a word as they did the dishes and put things away. Now, looking down at the stack of papers, he was trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle, and they were not fitting. But for the life of him, he couldn’t decide what wasn’t right. He shook his head, frustrated at himself, but not exactly sure what about.
Kid watched the play of emotions that crossed Heyes’ face. He wondered if Heyes realized how much showed in his face at times, but mentally shook his head. Heyes had the best poker face that he had ever seen, but he still was not able to hide his feelings from Kid. They had been through too much and had had too many close calls. He knew that Heyes was troubled, and knew that troubled him even more. But what he could do about it, he had no idea.
Dee paced around her room, trying to understand the reason she was here. And it didn’t make any sense. The only reason to come to a previous time was to affect some change in the events, to change something that occurred, thereby changing history. But what in history had gone wrong? She knew from reading science fiction books that changing even a small detail of the past will have a ripple effect on the future. So was she now causing a tidal wave in her own time? She continued to pace, her shoulders slumped even lower from the added burden she had unknowingly placed upon herself.
By noon, she had decided that she had to get out of the room or risk going crazy. But if she left the room she risked the wraith of Heyes. It was a toss-up, but decided better wraith than insanity, so she pushed opened the door and stepped into the living room. She knew she had interrupted the conversation when the room became deathly quiet and all eyes were directed at her. She cleared her throat, and with courage she didn’t have, started to speak.
“I need to get out of here and take a walk. Are you coming with me or am I going alone?”
Heyes and Kid exchanged looks, than Heyes slowly stood and walked towards the door. With nary a word, he opened the door and indicated to Dee that she was to exit. She quickly walked outside, before he changed his mind. With a last look at Kid, Heyes stepped through the door, closing it behind him.
They had walked for about thirty minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, when a noise from in front of them brought them out of their own world and back into the present one. Not moving they waited, and was rewarded with the agile grace of a white tail deer, bouncing through the trees. Both marveled at the grace and beauty of this amazing creature, as it leaped over fallen trees, not missing a stride. After it had left, through unspoken agreement, they started to walk again, each feeling much calmer, for whatever reason.
Dee spoke first. “Heyes, I am sorry that my coming here has bothered you. You can believe that I never meant for this to happen, and would much rather be back in my own world right now.”
Heyes walked for a few steps before replying. “I believe that. What I don’t understand is why you are here….for what purpose? I have never had this happen before so have no idea how to deal with this.”
Dee shook her head. “I don’t either. I just have a feeling that I am meant to change something, but what I don’t know.”
Heyes smiled and gave a half-laugh. “Maybe you can make it possible for me and Kid to have a normal life, instead of this outlaw way of living. You don’t know how much I don’t like this, and how much I want a normal life.”
“But if you had only received your amnesty.”
Heyes stopped and turned towards Dee. “What do you mean?”
Dee stopped as well, turning towards Heyes, but not quite able to meet his gaze. “If you had been able to get your amnesty from the Governor you would have been able to live a normal life….” She stopped, drawn to the pale look that crossed his face. “Heyes, what’s wrong?”
“We never get it? Never get the amnesty? After all that trying, all those good deeds we did…..we never get it?”
She shook her head. “No Heyes, you didn’t. You made the mistake of trying to do one more job, and you got caught….spent the next 15 years in prison.” She moved quickly to help Heyes as he started to walk backwards, stumbling on a tree root. She grabbed his arm quick enough to lessen his fall, but not quick enough to prevent it. And she fell on top of him.
She glanced down at him to see if he was hurt, and was rewarded by a pair of big brown eyes, looking at her. She would never again understand how he could be such a good poker player, when every emotion he had was reflected in his eyes. And now the look was of pain and sorrow. And she didn’t think it was from the fall. She pushed herself up and off, allowing him to sit. Heyes pulled his knees in towards his body, and wrapped his arms around them.
“What happens after that?”
Dee shook her head. Not much else is written. It is like you kinda faded from history. No mention of a family, a home. No one even really knows when you…..” she hesitated, which caused Heyes to look up.
She swallowed and continued. “When you died. You just were never seen again. No one knows what happened or when. One of those great unknowns.”
“What happens to Kid?”
She repositioned herself on the ground, leaning back against a nearby tree. “He went back, err came back here to Devil’s Hole. He was shot up pretty bad in the gunfight, but he lived. He ran with the Gang for a while, but rumor has it that he left, was reported to have said that the place just wasn’t the same without you. Some say he went to Mexico to live. Just kinda faded out of history as well. Guess neither of you were the same without the other.”
Heyes spent several minutes reflecting on this new information. He had always promised to watch over Kid, and to keep him safe. Well, it seems that he wasn’t able to do that in the end. How could life have gone so wrong?
“Heyes, I want you to think about something……”
He lifted his gaze to meet hers. “What?”
“To me, this time has already occurred, history has been written in my time. But for you, it hasn’t been.”
“I don’t understand.”
She pushed herself away from the tree, moving over to rest on her knees in front of him.
“For you, today in now, and tomorrow hasn’t occurred. Your history only lies in the yesterdays. If you change things now, you will be forming a new history in my time.”
Heyes shook his head, trying to clear the mess her words had made.
She took a deep breath and continued.
“Look, it is simple. In my time, these years have already happened. They have been recorded for all to read. Understand?”
“That part I have.”
“OK, but now we are in your time. My time is in the future, it hasn’t happened yet. The history books for this year are not completed, because they haven’t happened yet.”
Understanding was starting to dawn in Heyes’ face, and she continued.
“So if you change events of today in your time, you will change the past in mine, thereby changing history. You can undo the events in your future in my time by changing the events now in yours.”
Heyes smiled, for the first time in hours. “How do we do that?”
Dee frowned, looking down at the ground for answers. “Well, I am not so sure. I guess we need to see what happened, and try to change that event. And that, hopefully will change history as well.”
She thought for a while, than looked up to find Heyes looking at her. “What?”
“I was just wondering why you knew so much about Kid and I, about this place.”
She smiled, “Oh, that’s easy. I grew up on the story of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, about the Devil’s Hole Gang, and about the exploits of the two. I read everything I could get my hands on about this place, and you guys.”
She looked away, an easing in her eyes. “I always wanted to meet you, to see this place. To ride with the Devil’s Hole Gang,” she laughed. “There was just something about the place that I was always attracted to, it represented, I don’t know, freedom.”
“And you needed freedom?”
“Well, maybe not freedom exactly. Maybe a more simpler time, before the rat race took over.”
“Rat race? You raced rats?”
She laughed. “No, it is a term that means, how can I explain it, when everyone is in such a hurry to get somewhere, that they don’t stop to see what is in front of them. Kinda like rats, when they are running from something, the entire bunch scurries along, not caring about each other, just wanting to get to where they are headed.”
“And people are like that?”
She nodded her head. “Oh yeah, everyday. We have become a society of hurry up. Rush, rush, rush. Fast food this, instant that. We have prepackaged foods for every meal. And all the conveniences you can imagine, and all to give us more time. Which we take and race around even more.”
She looked towards Heyes, trying to gauge his understanding, and saw that, while he might not understand everything, he was trying.
“We live in a time when most parents are single. Either by divorce or by never marrying. The parents that are married, a lot of them are in second marriages bringing with that a lot of new problems. In most households, both parents need to work to support the family, so kids are left to their own devices after school a lot of the time, another set of problems.”
“You can do all of your meals in a day and never ever once go home to do so. You can buy everything ready to eat, and ready to wear, and ready to throw away. Like I said, we run because society has become lazy in exercise because we can be. We have TV, moving pictures on a screen, which we can change to any of a hundred different channels by never getting out of a chair, called a remote control. We can use a remote control to change the TV, the radio, the temperature gauge, even lift and lower the curtains on the windows.”
“I know this sounds way too crazy, but it is true. People don’t seem to care anymore. And to me, this place and you and Kid, always reminds me of a time when people cared.”
Heyes looked at her. “You must have had someone care at some time.”
She looked back down at the ground. “I did. My mother.”
“So what happened?”
“She died. When I was thirteen. And afterwards, it seems like I was just in the way. My father remarried, I became one of those ‘problems’ in a second marriage. I left when I was sixteen. Have been on my own every since.”
“So what about the magic you have spoken about?”
She smiled again. “That was from my mother. She told me to never forget the magic, because when it was gone, you never got it back again.”
She looked around at the woods, enjoying the stillness.
“So that is why I wanted to come here, to see this place. To see if I could remember those times. I wanted to keep the magic alive, but it is so hard to anymore. I wanted to see if there really was such a place where dreams come true.”
“And I was so upset when I got here. The place, no one seems to care anymore. I was wanting to see a special place from my childhood, and instead all I saw was a decaying spot that no one cares about. I guess, when I couldn’t get in the door, I knew that the magic was gone, and that hurt even more.”
“So you beat your way through the door and into my time?”
She grinned, “Yeah, something like that.”
“So now that you are here, what do you think?”
She looked around again. “I think it is everything I imagined as a kid. I would have liked to live here in your time, it would have been great.”
“Well, we can’t do anything about that, but I can show you around the place more. Maybe give you some memories to store for your future.”
Heyes stood up and reached down towards Dee. She only waited a few seconds before grabbing his hand, and letting him pull her to her feet. Together they walked back towards the camp, neither realizing that they were still holding hands.
Heyes found that he was enjoying showing Dee around. He walked her to every spot inside the compound, including the corral. He introduced her to his horse and marveled at the way she stroked the gelding’s head and talked to him softly. What would it be like to have her talk to him that way? Heyes shook his head as if to clear the thought away. Nothing good would ever come of this, so there was no reason to think about such things.
Dee didn’t miss the frowns and head shakes she was noticing from the corner of her eye. Could he be thinking of her she wondered. She mentally shook her head, nothing good could come of this, so she needed to think about a way to get back home.
Kid was sitting at the table when they returned, many hours after their departure. They came through the door laughing, a far cry from the way they had left. Kid was going to have to remember to ask Heyes about what had happened while they were gone. But for now, he was content to know that the shouting matches would be reduced, if even for a little while.
“So what’s up?” Kid asked, continuing to peel his apple.
“Heyes was kind enough to show me around the place. It is wonderful here.” Dee took the seat opposite of Kid, glancing towards the interior of the room. She had a feeling that the answer to her problem could be found here, but for the life of her, she couldn’t figure it out. Glancing back at Kid, she asked. “What did you do while we were gone.” She reached over and picked up one of the apples sitting in front of Kid, at which he glared somewhat, the look of anger never reaching his eyes.
“Just did some figuring on something. A, ah, project that Heyes and I have.”
Dee stopped biting into the apple to look at Heyes, than returned her eyes to make contact with Kid.
“The job you are planning?”
Kid looked at Heyes, than back to Dee, refusing to make any answer.
“But you can’t pull that job, you just can’t.”
Kid slowly looked at Heyes, who had not moved from the doorway. He noticed that Heyes was looking down at the floor, not able to meet Kid’s eyes. Kid shook his head before looking back at Dee, noticing the hint of moisture in the brown eyes. Kid looked down towards the table, and placed the apple down, no longer hungry.
“What’s going on?” Kid asked, looking in the direction of Heyes. But Heyes had walked into the living area of the cabin, and was sitting on the couch, his back to Kid. Something was terribly wrong, but what it was Kid had no idea. Standing, he walked to the chair opposite of Heyes and sat down. He knew that Heyes would speak in his own time, that was just his way.
Several minutes passed before Heyes could make any comments to Kid. How did you tell your best friend that you were about to let them down? That all the dreams they had talked about while riding along would never come true? Heyes wasn’t sure, but he was sure of one thing. Kid deserved to know. And he lifted his head and started to speak.
Heyes sentence was halted by a yell coming from the table, and he turned around to see Dee not only standing at the table, but jumping up and down. He stood and turned towards her, not sure of this strange event.
“That’s it, that’s it…..” She danced around the room, clapping her hands at intervals.
“What’s it?” Heyes asked.
“The answer. The reason.”
“The answer and reason for what?” Kid asked.
“How to change things.”
Kid frowned and closed his eyes, hoping that things would look differently when he opened them again. Unfortunately, things didn’t change.
“Change what things? Will you please talk in a language I can understand?”
Dee walked to where the boys were sitting, standing between them, in front of the fireplace.
“It is simple. I was sent back in time to help correct something which went wrong, and I think I have figured it out.” She paused, glancing at each man in turn. Neither seemed to understand what she was talking about. Frustrated, she slapped her hands onto her thighs. This got their attention.
“The job you pulled, which caused things to go bad. All you have to do is not do it, and everything will be fine.”
She turned towards Kid. “Yes, the job you have planned which will keep you from getting your amnesty.”
Kid sat up straighter, eyes boring into Dee. “What do you mean, not get the amnesty?”
“Kid,” she sighed, “Something went wrong in this time, and you never received your amnesty. You pulled a job, one last one, and it was a fatal one. So what we have to do is figure out when that happens, and stop it.”
Heyes was listening to this, and now was shaking his head. “But we don’t have any job planned. We haven’t even thought about doing that.”
Dee was silent. Slowly shaking her head, “You are not now planning a job?”
Heyes nodded, “Yeah. But it is a job to make money. Winter is coming and we don’t have enough to help get these guys through the winter. We have been trying to figure out a way to make money, legally make money, to stock up for winter. What with all these mouths to feed, not to mention the stock, that takes a lot.”
All were quiet as each thought about these developments.
“Heyes, what day is this?” Dee asked.
“I dunno, October, mid.”
Dee thought a little longer. “Heyes, the job you pulled was the beginning of November, 1889.”
Heyes jumped to his feet. “Well, I am here to tell you, we are not now nor have we thought about planning a job. Amnesty is too important to us.”
Heyes was pacing the room, Kid was sitting quietly in his chair. Dee was searching her mind, trying to figure out what was happening, or was going to happen.
“Well, something you are planning to do, legally do, must have gone wrong, terribly wrong.”
“I don’t see how.” Heyes had stopped pacing and turned towards Dee.
“What is the job you are planning now?”
Heyes drew himself to his full height. “I told you, we aren’t…”
Dee threw up her hands. “OK, I believe you. Tell me about the plan you have to make money for the winter.”
Heyes hesitated, than walked over to the shelf where all the paper were located. Picking up the stack, he walked over to the table, spreading the papers out. Kid and Dee walked over to the table, and waited for Heyes to explain.
“The boys have rounded up some 100 head of wild horses, which they have corralled in this canyon,” pointing to a location on the map. “What we are going to do is to drive those horses to this town here, Red Bluff, and sell the horses there. I figure what we get from the horses can be used to buy supplies for the winter, which we will bring back here.”
“Who is going to drive them there?”
“We all are. The boys aren’t really likin’ it, but that is the way it has to be.”
Dee thought for a few minutes. “Aren’t you afraid someone will recognize you?”
Heyes smiled. “The great Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, and the Devil’s Hole gang driving a herd of horses to market? Never happen. Besides, we have never been to Red Bluff, let alone pulled a job there.”
“How long will it take to get there?”
“Well, we figure to leave in the morning.” Heyes looked at Dee and tried to see what was behind those eyes of hers. But he had trouble getting past the brown color, rich and warm. Mentally shaking himself, he returned his glance to the papers on the table.
“I figure we can take the wagon with us, use it for supplies to get us there, and reload it with supplies to get us back here. Should make it in plenty of time to beat the first snow.”
Dee waited as Heyes explained the plan, only interrupting to ask a few questions. When Heyes was finished, she continued to look at the papers, shaking her head.
“It sounds fine. But something must have gone wrong. But I can’t see where it would have.” She lifted her eyes to Heyes. “Somehow we have to figure out what went astray and fix it. If we don’t, you can kiss your amnesty goodbye.”
“Well, if you don’t have any other ideas, we have to get ready to leave in the morning. So if you will excuse us,” and with that Heyes and Kid walked back into the bedroom, leaving Dee looking at the closed door, more confused than ever.
She slowly rose and entered her bedroom, quietly shutting the door behind her. Walking over to her backpack, she picked it up and carried it to the bed, sitting down. She thought for a few moments before unzipping the backpack, and reaching inside, removed some folded papers. She knew what they said by heart, but opened the papers anyway, rereading the headlines.
The Bank of Red Bluff was robbed yesterday, apparently by the Devil’s Hole Gang. Witnesses said the gang entered the bank shortly before noon, demanding money from the tellers. One bank teller was killed in the robbery when he refused to turn over his money. Witnesses conflict to the number of members of the gang, and also to some of the descriptions of the robbers. One member of the gang was captured, but his identity has not been released yet. Another member of the gang was shot, as a large amount of blood was found on the floor of the bank. This gang is known to be run by Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. This is the first crime linked to these known criminals for more than a year now. Rumors had been circulated that these outlaws were trying to live a life free of criminal activity, but apparently that was only a rumor.
Dee looked at the date on the newspaper article, November 2. How to get the boys to understand without showing them the article? She couldn’t figure it out. But somehow she needed to keep them from robbing that bank. And she guessed there was only one way to do that. One which she knew they were not going to like.
Kid was packing his saddlebags, thinking over the previous conversation. Looking at Heyes he asked, “So do you believe her?”
“About what? About everything.”
Heyes looked up from his packing to met Kid’s eyes.
“Yeah I do. But I am not sure why. There is just something about her which rings true.”
Kid smiled. “Couldn’t be those brown eyes, could it?”
Heyes laughed. “Might be. But no, there is more.” Heyes started to pace again. “She knows too much. So I have to believe what she is saying. I just don’t see what could go wrong.”
He stopped and turned towards Kid. “What should we do?”
“What else can we do Heyes. We have to push those horses to Red Bluff. And hope for the best.”
“OK. And Kid, I am glad you are with me.”
Kid smiled. “Me too Heyes, me too.”
The next morning found them late getting left, due to an argument with a certain time traveler who was having words with Heyes.
“I am going and that is final.”
“You are not leaving here. You will stay here until we get back and that is final.”
Dee put her hands on her hips and faced Heyes. “Final is it. We will see.” And picking up her backpack, walked out the door.
“What???” yelled Heyes, turning towards Kid.
“I think you have finally met your match.”
When Heyes and Curry made it to the corral, it was to see Dee saddled and mounted, backpack secured behind her saddle. No amount of talking was able to convince her to stay behind, so early morning found the motley crew miles away from Devil’s Hole, herding one hundred horses towards Red Bluff. Dee just hoped it wasn’t also towards the end of the famous Devil’s Hole Gang. And worse, the loss of the greatest pair the west every produced.
Evening found the gang bedding down besides a small lake, horses secured in a rope corral. Several member of the gang was standing guard, protecting the horses from wild creatures, and helping to settle the horses down to reduce the chance of them spooking and bolting. Supper was a quiet affair, as each member of the gang found a reason to head to bed early, exhausted from the day spent riding.
Dee found herself sitting next to Heyes, not sure what to say. Try as she might, she could find nothing to be mad at him about, and so it was harder to keep away from him. She found herself wondering what was going on in his mind right now.
Heyes looked into his coffee cup, hoping for an answer to his unspoken questions. But knowing there really wasn’t any answers. He turned to Dee.
“Tell me more about your world.”
Dee looked up to meet his eyes, finding herself drowning in pools of liquid chocolate, which is what the color of his eyes reminded her. Shaking her self slightly, she thought about his statement. She knew giving him too much information wasn’t good, but thought she could tell him some things without causing problems. Lets face it, if they didn’t correct the current problem, him knowing too much about the future wouldn’t matter at all.
“Lets see. People travel by cars and trucks, trains are fast. Oh, we can now fly.”
“Yeah, in a plane. You can fly to other countries in the matter of hours, as well as fly across the country in just a few hours.”
“A few hours? Not possible.”
“Yes it is. People take crusies, travel in huge boats to other countries for vacations. And man has traveled to the moon.”
Heyes looked at Dee. “If you don’t want to tell me, that is fine.”
She smiled. “It is true. People have traveled to the moon. Granted, they didn’t find much there, but they did go there. And they travel into outer space all the time.”
Heyes smiled. “Really?”
“You said that society has become, what did you call it, a throw away society. What does that mean?”
She looked down to the ground before looking back into his eyes. “So many people are only interested in what they can use and throw away. Containers, jars, cans, kids, families. So much tossed away without regards to tomorrow.”
“So what does that make the future look like?”
“In some ways, terrible. But there are people who do care, and they do what they can to help clean up the place. Environmental groups are working to help save the planet, to make it possible to be there for our kids and grandkids.”
“So what is so great about your world? Why not stay here?”
She thought about this. What would it be like to stay here forever? Who would miss her back in her time? But she knew that was not possible.
“My world is not necessarily better than this one, but it is mine. I don’t fit in here. And I can’t stay. I have to go back, just as soon as I figure out how to do that. But I will be taking one thing with me that no one can take away from me.”
She reached out to stroke the side of his face. “My memory of you, of Kid, and of this place. It will stay with me forever. And for that, I will always be grateful. You have made my dearest wishes come true.” And she reached over and softly kissed his lips, savoring the feel of his mouth on hers. And than he was kissing her back, his arms wrapping themselves around her and pulling her into him. She had never know sensations like this before, and knew she would never know them again. What it would be like to be forever held in his arms….that was a dream which she knew she would always have.
He eased away from her, hating to break the contact, but knowing that it was necessary. He looked into her eyes, and found that which he knew he had been missing most of his life, someone who looked at him with a look of love. He felt a mixture of happiness and sadness, because that look would be all he would ever have. Not saying anything further, they each rose, and turned, walking in separate directions. Heyes went to find Kid, to discuss tomorrow, Dee to find a private place to express her tears in silence.
Each day followed the one before. Heyes and Dee made sure to not be alone again, as much as each wanted to be with the other. But they also knew their time together was limited, and to limit contact would help limit the pain of them separating. At least this was the story they told themselves. They knew, deep down, that that pain would be there for a long time to come.
Ten days after leaving Devil’s Hole, the gang pushed into the town of Red Bluff, herding their horses into corrals at the end of town. Heyes was able to negotiate a deal with the trader, and they showed a nice profit for the drive. Heyes gave to each man a share of the money, and instructions to get what they needed for the winter, and of more importance, to stay out of trouble. They didn’t expect to see any of the gang back at the hideout for at least a week. Kid, Heyes, and Dee walked into the mercantile, purchasing supplies to take back to Devil’s Hole. Dee was nervous, that was obvious, but neither Kid nor Heyes understood the reason. Dee still had not managed to tell them about the newspaper article inside her backpack. Or the fact that the bank robbery was happening today. And she still didn’t have a way to prevent history from repeating itself. Her only hope was to get the boys out of town as quickly as possible. Maybe by doing that, things would change.
Dee had just managed to get the last of the supplies out to the wagon for the boys to load when she heard it, the gun fire. Heyes looked in the direction of the shots, and both boys stepped around the wagon, looking in that direction. They saw a man running towards the store, and reached out to stop him in his path.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Heyes asked.
Out of breathe, the man answered. “Someone’s robbing the bank. Got to go tell the sheriff.” And with that, he sprinted towards the sheriff’s office.
Heyes and Curry looked at each other, deciding what to do. What if it was Wheat and the boys? They had to stop them, and get them out of town. Kid drew his gun, checking the cylinder, snapping it closed. With a look at Heyes, they started in the direction of the bank.
Dee did all she could do, she jumped in front of the boys, grabbing onto each ones arms, trying to hold them back. “No, you HAVE to stay here.”
“Let go Dee, we have to make sure the boys are alright.” Heyes looked at Dee, meeting her eyes with regrets.
“No Heyes, don’t go. This is it. You have to stay here, no matter what happens. Today is the day things go wrong, don’t you see it. If you go there, they will think you had something to do with the robbery. You will go to jail.”
Heyes looked at Dee, than at Kid, who had not progressed any further towards the bank, waiting for the word from Heyes.
“But if the boys….”
“If the boys are in trouble, that is their doing. You have to stay.”
She maintained her hold on their arms, pushing back again as they started to step towards the bank.
“Heyes, if you really love me, DON”T GO!”
Heyes looked at Dee, than down at the ground. “That’s not fair.”
“Fair or not, if you really love me you will stay here with me.”
“Heyes,” said Kid, “You said you believed her. Guess now’s the chance to prove it.”
Heyes looked at Kid, than back at Dee. “I hope you know what you are doing.”
She smiled at him, “I do.” Than releasing her grip on Kid’s arms, stepped in front of Heyes, wrapping her arms around him, holding him close. He in turn encircled his arms around her, pulling her to him, praying he was making the right decision.
How long they stood there, they had no idea. When they at last parted, no words were said. They turned to the wagon, finished securing the load, and headed down the street, having tied the horses behind the wagon.
Their path out of town led them directly past the bank. A crowd had gathered outside the bank, each straining to see inside. No bodies were visible in the street, but there was a booted foot caught in the window of the bank.Turning their eyes away from the site, the trio rode in silence out of town.
The return trip to Devil’s Hole was accomplished in a much faster time than they made driving the horses to Red Bluff. Little was spoken during the entire time. The air had turned much colder, and a hint of snow was in the air. Each waited to see who would be at the hide out, each afraid they had left friends dead back in a bank in Red Bluff.
The supplies were stowed away, the horses brushed and turned loose in the corral, and the cabin aired out after being closed for so long. The men who had been left behind had received their share of the money, with a promise of heading to town just as soon as other members made it back, if they ever did. No word of the hold up had reached the Hole, so they had no more information then they had had before. Dee, who still hadn’t told the boys about the article, had not had the nerve to read it again, just in case she had been wrong. As much as she hoped she hadn’t been, she was afraid that she had let men go to their deaths, men who were friends of the man she loved. Because she now was able to admit to herself that she did love this silver tongued devil. And at least she would have that love to keep her company during the long years to come.
They were sitting at the table eating lunch when they heard the shots, the password fired in the hopes of being granted passage into the hideout. The answering password was fired, and the trio sat waiting for the sound of horses riding into the yard. They didn’t have long to wait before they heard the arrival of many horses. Standing as one, they walked to the door, with Kid reaching out for the doorknob, pulling it open with more force than necessary.
Dee stepped out onto the porch, followed quickly by Heyes and Kid. They could hear the horses coming, but as yet had not made it up where they could actually see the riders. Each was tense, scared of what they would see. Heyes, without thinking, reached out and took Dee’s hand in his, squeezing it as much for himself as for her. Dee returned the gesture. And they all waited.
Before them they could see several horses, six to be exact, and mounted on the horses were Kyle, Wheat, Lobo, and the rest of the gang which had ridden out with them for Red Bluff. Smiles erupted on the faces of the trio, and they stepped off the porch towards the group of riders.
“Boys,” Heyes started, “Where have you been?”
“Well Heyes,” Kyle replied, “I hate to admit it, but we, uh, we got lost coming back. Tried to ride in the dark and missed a turn. And didn’t realize it until a day later. Had to ride back, so that took longer too.”
“And you didn’t get into any trouble?” asked Kid.
“Why, geez, no Kid. You and Heyes told us to stay out of trouble, and that is what we did.”
“But you heard about the bank robbery?”
Kyle shook his head. “Yeah, I did. And we saw them boys riding in. But we didn’t know them, didn’t know what they were up to. Heck, didn’t know what happened until the next day…”
Kyle looked from Heyes to Kid. “Ya didn’t think we had anything to do with that, did you?”
Heyes shook his head. “No, we were hoping you didn’t. Get your horses put away, than some of you need to relieve the other boys. They want to head to town to celebrate now.”
The trio stood and watched as the gang rode towards the corral, and dismounted, leading their horses inside. Then they turned and walked back into the cabin, each with a smile on their face.
Once inside, Dee walked into her room, bringing back out with her her backpack. She reached inside, and withdrew the article she had been afraid to look at since they arrived back here. The headline had changed.
The Bank of Red Bluff was robbed yesterday, apparently by the Jackson Gang. Witnesses said the gang entered the bank shortly before noon, demanding money from the tellers. One bank teller was killed in the robbery when he refused to turn over his money. Witnesses conflict to the number of members of the gang, and also to some of the descriptions of the robbers. One member of the gang was captured, but his identity has not been released yet. Another member of the gang was shot, as a large amount of blood was found on the floor of the bank. This gang is known to be run by Red Dog Jackson, known to have killed at least a dozen men. Other details are sketchy at this time, but it is suspected that the bank robbery was the last in a long line of crimes for this gang.
She turned the paper around so Kid and Heyes could see the headlines. “This is how I knew when things would happen. But I have been afraid to read it, for fear of what it would say.”
Heyes took the paper from her hands, reading the article. “What DID it say?”
“That you were
responsible for the robbery.”
“So what happened?” asked Kid.
She thought for a minute. “I think that, had you actually gone to the bank that day, they would have suspected you of being involved. But as you didn’t go there, you didn’t get involved.”
“So you think we will get our amnesty now?” asked Kid.
She shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t know. But at least you now have a chance again.”
Heyes hugged her, saying in the action all the things he hadn’t been able to say all these days.
“So now what Dee?” Heyes asked.
“I’m not sure. But I do know that I will always remember you and my time here. In fact, I want a picture to take back with me. Can you do that?”
Both boys nodded. “Sure.”
And Dee started out the door, carrying her backpack. She looked down as she crossed the threshhold, squinting in the bright sunlight. When she raised her eyes, what she saw caused her to stop in her tracks. Where before there had been dirt, now there was gravel. Looking towards the corrals, she no longer saw horses, but a large sign stating that this was the corral used by the Devil’s Hole Gang. She stepped off the porch, slowing surveying the area in front of her. Everything had changed. And she thought she knew the reason.
Turing slowly around, she saw before her, not the decaying leader’s cabin, but the cabin as it was when the boys were there. There was a plaque on the side of the door. The windows were open, glass intact. The way it should have been.
Dee hung her head, tears running down her face. She hadn’t had the chance to say good-bye.
She looked up as she heard her named called. Coming towards her were her friends. They had no idea how her life had changed.
“Hi guys.” She
called out. “See anything interesting?”
“Just things like you said they would be. I am so glad you talked us into coming here,” one of her friends said.
“Are we ready to go now?” Dee wanted to get going as soon as possible.
“Yeah, lets go.”
And they started walking towards their vehicle. They passed a shop, where the bunkhouse used to stand. Dee felt a pull to go inside the shop, and knew it was something she needed to do. So telling her friends she would be with them shortly, she walked inside the shop, looking around as she did.
She picked up a pamphlet, scanning it for details about the compound. One word caught her eye, Amnesty. She smiled to herself. So they did get it after all. Tucking the pamphlet into her backpack, she turned to leave the shop. She once again was stopped by the sound of her name. And something else.
She glanced in the direction of the voice, and found herself looking into the eyes the color of liquid chocolate. Unable to speak, she nodded and stepped in the direction of the voice.
“Are you Dee?”
“Than I have something for you. My great-great grandfather wrote this,” showing her an old envelope, “And passed down through the generations that on this day in this year, a girl matching your description would be here in the compound. We were to guard it and to present it to you.” He handed her the envelope.
She took the envelope from the young man, who looked so very much like his great-great grandfather. “Thank you.”
Turning, she walked out of the store, and to the area where she and Heyes had had that talk, years ago for him, just days ago for her. Sitting on the grass, she opened the envelope carefully and read the contents.
My dearest Dee.
I knew you would be here on this date in 2005, so knew you would be able to get this. When you left, walking out the door, out of my time and back into yours, I felt like, like my heart had left with you. And in a way it did. I knew we couldn’t be together, but had hoped it would happen anyway. But my biggest regret was that I didn’t get the chance to say good-bye.
Thanks to you, Kid and I were able to get out amnesty, but I am sure you will read all about that. Hopefully the money we saved and willed towards making the compound a historical center has worked, and the place has been preserved for generations to come. Kid married, had a bunch of kids, and never had to draw his gun again. He died a very old man, forever grateful to you.
I did marry, several years later. I loved her very much, and we have had a good life together. I told her about you, about how you made our lives possible. And she forgives me the fact that she has never had all my love. There has been a part reserved only for you.
Life has been good to Kid and me, thanks to you. I visit him every day, talk to him all the time, and swear he talks back. I know that I will be joining him soon, but that’s ok. I miss him something fierce.
It was fun watching some of the things you told me about happen. I only wish I could have been there for some of the other things. But mostly, I wish I had had the chance to see you one last time. To let you know how much I love you. And to thank you.
So let this serve as that. To be forever grateful that one day someone from the future fell into the past. I hope that you will go on to find love, as you deserve it. He will be one very lucky man. And think of me from time to time. The one man who will love you forever.
Tears ran down her cheeks as she finished the letter. Tears for what had been and for what she had lost. But also tears of happiness. Because of the events of the past weeks, she had managed to recapture the magic she thought she had lost. And now knew she would always retain.
She heard a noise and glanced up to a vision. It was not solid, she could see the trees behind. But the face was all his. And he was smiling at her. She smiled back. He mouthed two sentences….Thank you. I love you. And blowing her a kiss, he faded away.
She sat there for a while longer before folding the letter and placing it carefully inside her backpack. Standing, she started walking back to the center of the compound, feeling like a new happiness was settled over her. Because she had the magic, and she would never lose it again. But mostly was the memory that, one day, she might see him again. Heck, anything was possible.
And laughing, she ran to meet her friends, and to look forward to the rest of her life.