"Why I ever let you talk me into the stupid idea, I’ll never know."
"Now wait a minute, Heyes. I think you were the one who agreed to letting Kyle’s cousin help out with the last bank job."
"Whatever." He fumed and then glanced over to his own cousin. "When Carson had to leave because his ma took sick, it put us one man short."
"If you remember, I asked you if you really wanted two Murtrys involved in one job."
"We had to have another man to watch the horses. Kyle promised he’d be fine handling that." He pulled off his hat, ran his fingers through his sweaty hair, and reseated it low on his brow. "How was I to know he’d let go of them when Kyle blasted the safe?"
They were both quiet as they walked towards the bunkhouse. The sun still beat down on their heads, even if the winds were cool. The crisp smell of fall was in the air.
"You know, Kid, I depend on you to keep me from making foolish mistakes like this."
Curry was silent for a moment, taking a deep breath before he answered.
"I tried, Heyes, but when you really get going with an idea, you’re kinda hard to stop, even for me."
"We needed another job before the winter." Heyes huffed. " You knew that as well, as I did."
"There was that guy, Wilson, in the saloon in Sweetwater, that might have worked."
"You said he looked shifty."
"Shifty might have been good." Curry shrugged. "It was an outlaw that we needed after all."
"Why didn’t you say that then?"
"He didn’t feel right."
"But Dale Murtry did?"
"I didn’t suggest Dale."
"Kid, sometimes you’re no help at all."
They walked on, stopping before the door to the bunkhouse.
"You know we have to keep him, what with winter coming along." The Kid rested his gloved hands on his gun belt.
"I know." Heyes settled his hands on his hips, thinking for a moment, before he pulled open the door and entered all smiling. "Howdy, boys." A variety of responses greeted them.
"Howdy, Heyes. Kid." Preacher’s response was friendly.
"Heyes." Wheat’s reply was almost a growl. He just glared at the Kid.
"How you doing, boys?" Kyle smiled at them, but then glanced over to his cousin. Dale just sighed.
"How’s the card game going?"
"Fine." Lobo glanced over towards the Preacher. "If someone would stop cheating."
"Wanna join us, Heyes?" Preacher just smiled.
"Not now, boys. I have an idea I’d like to share." He pulled out a chair to straddle. "You all know we need to pull another job before the snow sets in."
"I hope this idea is better than the last." Wheat scoffed.
"We got away with the money in the drawers before we had to leave." Heyes didn’t continue for a moment, as they all knew why they had to leave before emptying the safe. It was to chase the horses before they got away and they were at the mercy of any posse that would have formed. No one looked at Dale, or even Kyle.
"You’d think all of our horses would be used to hearing Kyle blast a safe, much as he tends to be over generous at times with the dynamite." There was some scattered, but nervous laughing. "Since we bought them new mounts from over at Rocky Creek, though, they’ve been a mite skittish. I got me a plan, so we don’t have a problem with them again." He grinned so wide his dimples showed. "A Hannibal Heyes plan." The men looked suspiciously at each other until he continued. "The plan involves setting off some dynamite."
"Woohee!" Kyle grinned and slapped his cousin on the back. "Now, that’s a plan I like."
There followed an afternoon of setting off blasts of dynamite close enough to the corral to startle the horses as well as Dale, but not too close to really cause any damage. The newest member of the Devil’s Hole Gang learned how to settle and keep ahold of the animals, no matter how skittish they became.
"We’re gonna have to let them horses settle for a while, before we can take them on another job." Curry glanced over at his cousin, as they paused before entering the leaders’ cabin. "You do know that, don’t you?"
"Solved the problem, didn’t it?" Heyes just smiled.
"If you’re saying it kept us from having to kick out Kyle’s cousin, right before winter, yeah, it did that."
"Then what’s wrong?"
"I’m just worried that Kyle will think we’ll need to get out the dynamite anytime we have new horses."
"Or gang members?" Heyes just smiled.
"Speak of the devil." Curry motioned to Kyle, walking up the trail to the cabin.
"Howdy, boys." Kyle scuffed his boot as he stopped before them.
"Something you need, Kyle?" Curry tipped up his hat.
"Just want to thank you all for letting Dale stay." He glanced up at them. "I know what you did."
"Yup." Heyes nodded decisively. "Trained up those new horses, so they won’t cause any more problems."
"And trained up a new gang member too." Kyle smiled. "So he won’t cause no more problems."
"Part of our job as leaders, ain’t it?" Heyes glared at Kyle, as if he didn’t want a different answer.
"Guess tis." Kyle’s smile just grew wider. "Thank yah anyway." He tipped his hat and wandered back down to the bunkhouse.
"You think we’re finally training Kyle?" Curry had a thoughtful look on his face.
"Now, Kid, I might be a genius, but that’s a feat beyond the ability of mortal men, even me."
Laughing, they turned to go into the cabin and settle in with some whiskey laced coffee as the quiet of the cool evening fell over Devil’s Hole.
Family is family.