As Heyes’ eyes adjusted to the gloom, he scanned the barn, “Well,” he told his partner, “It’s dry and there’s plenty of straw to make a warm bed.”
“Only one entrance.”
“If you don’t count the loft doors”, his partner growled.
“I don’t! Folks aren’t gonna climb up the outside!”
“It’s a fine place to rest up for a few days, maybe longer if we’re lucky and the food is good!”
Heyes adjusted some of the straw, into a comfortable bed, stretched out and yawned.
Kid Curry glared at him. “I’ll go see if I can find any of that food, shall I?”
Most shrank back when faced with that look, Heyes blinked his eyes lazily. “If you want to. My guess is that it will come to us.”
“You always think we’ll be welcomed.”
“Did you see how she looked at us?”
“Yeah. And what about her pa?”
“We do our job, he’ll come around.”
“If we have time.”
“Have faith, Kid.”
“I prefer to have caution.” Kid Curry began to prowl around the barn, checking it out. He felt a prickle in the back of his neck and turned to see a young girl enter, carrying plates of food.
“I thought you might be hungry. Would you like some dinner?”
After long days and cold nights on the trail, neither Heyes nor Curry needed a second invitation. They settled down to eat, listening to the girl’s chatter. When she left, their bellies full, they settled down to sleep.
The next morning, they woke early and went to work. Curry was a good hunter and Heyes was passable, so it didn’t take long before Heyes was satisfied that they had done more than enough to justify their pay. They stretched out and enjoyed the warm sun for a few hours.
Curry sat up suddenly, his eyes narrowing as his sharp ears caught someone approaching. The young girl reappeared, again carrying plates loaded with food. She grimaced a little at their morning’s work but agreed that her father would likely be pleased with their efforts.
“I have chores for Ma to do, so I’ll leave these with you”. Heyes and Curry thanked her and then enjoyed their meal in peace. Once again with full bellies, they had little energy except to lie in the sun and then, when it grew dark, to retire to the barn for a good night’s sleep.
The following day, Heyes and Curry continued clearing the farm of pesky vermin. By mid afternoon, they were pleased enough with their work to again decide to enjoy the sunshine. Once more, the young girl brought them an evening meal. This time, however, she was followed by her father.
Heyes and Curry bristled slightly as he approached. “Rebecca! What are you doing?” he roared.
Rebecca looked up at him. “They’re hungry, Pa. I was just giving them a little something to eat!”
“Two worthless, scrawny critters!”
Heyes frowned. Sure, they didn’t have much and they could be called critters, but scrawny? Both he and Curry took great care with their appearance; it was of great help in wooing the women and he was quite pleased with his dark, shiny hair! He approached the man.
“Heyes!” hissed the Kid, “What do you think you’re doing?”
Heyes looked back, “Trying to win the guy over! This could be a good place…”
“Heyes, folks like that are never “won over”. Leave it alone. We should hightail it out of here.”
“But Pa,” Rebecca wheedled, “Look what they did! You’re always saying how we need to get rid of the vermin! And they are so pretty! They aren’t mean either!” Rebecca bent down and picked Kid Curry up, holding him tightly in her arms to show just how nice the two were.
“PUT IT DOWN!” Her father pulled at Rebecca’s arms and tugged Curry out. Curry hissed and a paw, claws extended, flashed out. He caught Rebecca’s Pa on his hand and drew blood.
“Yeow!” The man grabbed his rifle and fired. Rebecca grabbed his arm and pulled as hard as she could, crying out, “Don’t hurt the nice kitty!”
Pa’s aim was deflected and the bullet whizzed past Curry. Neither Heyes nor Curry decided to stay and wait for an apology for their treatment, after all their hard work, deeming the meals they’d had to be sufficient payment. Discretion being the better part of valour, both cats ran as fast as they could, their sleek bodies stretching and curving and their legs a blur. Several bullets zinged past them but they weaved as they ran and were soon out of range.
Panting, they sat down. Curry began to clean his paws, while Heyes smoothed down his slightly ruffled fur.
Kid Curry looked up and over at his partner, “One day, Heyes, I swear..”
“We got a couple of good meals, why gripe? It was worth a try. If you hadn’t drawn…”
“Next time, you get pawed at, see how you feel about it!”
“Next time, don’t get so close. You’re supposed to watch my back, not get all snugglely with the womenfolk!” Heyes replied, swiftly ducking to avoid the paw aimed at his head.
Curry grimaced. “I suppose we’d better be making tracks. Find someplace to make bed for the night.” He turned and, tail straight up, stalked off.
Heyes gave a little shake and followed. He soon caught up. He bumped the Kid’s shoulder. “Cheer up. Maybe we’ll have more luck at the next farm. Can’t be too far away neither.”
The Cheshire Cat couldn’t have matched the glint in Heyes’ eyes!