By Nebraska Wildfire

“It’s the most you’ve ever won in a game, right, Heyes?” The Kid glanced back as he and his partner were making their way out of the saloon. The men they were leaving behind did not look very happy, but none looked like they were angry enough to follow them. “How much it is?”

“Shhh.” The Kid’s voice was not very loud, but Heyes shushed him anyway. He smiled broadly at one of the girls as she gave him a kiss before they made their way out of the door. Appearing confident, his cousin could tell he was nervous. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to stop and count it now.”

Curry just nodded as they made their way across the street. He glanced behind them once more before they entered the hotel, but then turned to hurry after his cousin. The brisk wind did not encourage them to linger in the street, even if they had not been worried about their fellow poker players.

Once they were up in their room, the Kid set his hat on the bedside table. It was fairly new, just having received it as a gift from his partner the prior Christmas. He smiled as the lamp reflected on the solid silver band. Heyes on the other hand tossed his disreputable black hat on one of the bedposts before he sat down to count his winnings and check the amount he already had in his head.

“Maybe you can get a new hat.” Curry pulled off his vest and then bent to untie his holster from his leg. “That one is so beat up, I don’t know why you didn’t buy a new one after we got our take from the last haul.” He unbuckled the belt, coiled it carefully, and set it handily on the bedside table by his shiny hat. “Your hat looks as bad as Deke’s.”

“Mine don’t have any holes in it.” Heyes nodded as he finished counting the money and started dividing it up into piles. “‘Sides, I don’t need any flashy hat. It would just attract attention that we don’t need.”

“The way you smiled at that lady during our last bank job, I’m certain she’s gonna remember your face, even with that plain ol’ beat up hat.” Curry pulled off his boots before he settled onto his bed.

“The other boys were scaring the customers.” Heyes shook his head as he settled the biggest bundle of bank notes back into his vest pocket. “That wasn’t gonna end well.” He walked over to the Kid and handed him another big bundle. “Here’s your share.”

“I don’t need this much.” Curry had stretched out and settled onto the soft bed, but held up his hand. “Why don’t you just keep some for when we need to pay for meals and other stuff?”

“I did.” Heyes held out another bundle. He smiled wide enough to engage his dimples.

“Just how much did you win tonight after all?” The Kid smiled back, shaking his head.

“Enough that we don’t have to meet up with Phil and the gang for that next job.” Heyes put the money in his pocket. “We can relax until after Christmas.”

“How’ll we find them then?”

“Maybe we won’t.” Heyes settled his gun belt over the close side of the headboard, looking thoughtful as he started to unbutton his shirt. “I heard of this other gang, north of Casper. Might suit us better. The leader sounds smart enough to avoid violence, if he can.”

“I’d be right happy with that.” Curry shook his head. “I’m kinda tired of having to shoot our way out during some of the jobs.”

“Yeah, me too.” He unbuckled his pants. Slipping them off he settled under the pile of quilts on his bed.

“You ain’t been the one they’ve been depending on.”

“I do my share.” Heyes looked a bit affronted. “I can hit just about anything I aim at.”

The Kid just looked at him.

“Just because I ain’t a perfect shot like you, who never misses, don’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Yeah, Heyes, I know that, but Phil’s starting to expect it from me.”

“Definitely time to move on then.” He settled back into his pillows. “But not before we celebrate Christmas.” He looked over to his partner. “How about I buy you a big steak dinner, with all the fixings, for your present?”

“Sounds great to me, Heyes.” The Kid turned out the lamp, and they settled all snug in their beds, with visions dancing in their heads of something more substantial to eat then sugarplums.

“I gotta admit, this is one of the best dinners I’ve ever had.” Curry’s smile covered his face as he put the last piece of the steak into his mouth. Chewing slowly, his eyes slowly closed as he savored the flavor. That is until he noticed the pretty waitress returning with two pieces of pie and the coffee pot.

“You boys enjoy your meal?” She flirted with both of them, as she filled up their cups. “I ain’t seen his mouth empty since I set down those plates.” She nodded towards the Kid, who just smiled back at her as he started in on the dessert.

“Of course.” Heyes returned her smile. “How could we not with such a pretty view?”

“You talking about the apple pie? Or have you at least noticed something else here besides the food?” She stacked up the empty plates on her free arm as headed back to the kitchen, giving him one more glance.

“You need another piece?” Heyes settled back with the warm cup of coffee in his hand, enjoying watching his partner finish up.

“For once, Heyes, I think I’m full.”

“You certain?”


“Merry Christmas, Kid.”

“Merry Christmas, Heyes.”

As they made their way back to the hotel, snow started drifting down upon them. An occasional gust of wind swirled the glittering flakes around, but otherwise the night was peaceful.

“Pretty as the snow is, am I ever glad we have enough money to have a warm bed tonight.” Heyes hunched his shoulders into his coat as they hurried across the street. “That gonna be your present to me?” He gave a sideways look to his partner as they clattered up the steps into the lobby.

“Just hold your horses, Heyes.” The Kid smiled back at him, with a glint in his eyes. “You never have much patience, do you?”

“Was just wondering.” He shrugged at they opened the door into their room.

The Kid tossed his hat on the table and pulled off his coat, but then still grinning, pulled a package wrapped in brown paper and red string out from under his bed.

“Merry Christmas, Heyes.” He held it out to his partner. Heyes tried not to look too eager, but immediately sat down and pulled on the string to release the paper. As it fell away, the lamp reflected from the silver conchos surrounding a fine black hat.

“Figured if we’re gonna try and join that new gang, you probably shouldn’t look like we’re so desperate. That old hat of your looks like we’ve not pulled a successful job in forever.”

Heyes’ eyes glittered as he slowly turned the black hat in his hands. Looking over at his partner, he brushed the hair off his forehead, and settled the new hat on his head. He rolled his shoulders and then walked over to look in the mirror above the dresser. A smile made its way across his face.

“I’m right, ain't I?” The Kid returned his partner’s smile.

“Maybe.” He turned towards Curry holding out his hand. “Thanks, Kid.”

Jed Curry pulled his cousin in for a quick but fierce hug and then they settled in for a long winter’s sleep.