9. Chapters 9 & 10

HENRY BROOKER’S OFFICE

Henry Brooker was having a bad day. He had had to listen to a diatribe from the manager of the Merchants’ National Bank. There had been no compensatory news of safe breaking at the Wells Fargo Building. And, while the original kidnapping of ‘Thaddeus Jones’ had followed Mr. Dawkins’ carefully laid plans – Brooker’s gut told him something had now gone wrong. The efficient and punctual Dawkins had not returned from a supervisory visit to the kidnap locale. To top everything, Henry Brooker would soon have to leave the sanctuary of his office to return to domestic bliss with not only his wife but also, his mother-in-law.

He heard the voice of young Cadogen, manning the outer office in Mr. Dawkins’ absence, rise outside.

“I assure you, Miss – you’ve been misinformed…there are NO vacancies…I’m sorry, Mr. Brooker cannot be disturbed…No, Miss…”

Brooker flung open his office door, about to bellow for quiet. He saw two sets of – entrancing – deeply fringed eyes gazing at him. Two sets of rosy lips smiled. Two fine bosoms heaved under demure snowy white shirtwaists.

“Mr. Brooker?” asked Mary, as if a ‘yes’ would fulfil her girlish dreams.

“Mr. – Henry – Brooker?” chimed in Sue, as if she had waited to see him, all her maidenly life.

“Uh huh?” he grunted, eyes riveted.

“We’ve come to enquire about the vacancies – for lady clerks,” breathed the first absolute peach. “I’m Mary – Darling.” Henry Brooker blinked at the sudden, though pleasant, term of endearment.

“And I’m Sue Darling,” contributed Sue. She fluttered. “We’re the Darling twins,” she clarified.

“You sure are!” murmured the transfixed possessor of a roving eye.

“I told the Miss Darlings, there WERE no vacancies,” chipped in young Mr. Cadogen. “They must be mistaken.”

“Oh, Mr. Brooker,” pleaded Mary, laying a soft hand on his arm, “…surely you can think of SOME position you’d like to see Sue and I take up?”

“We’re very flexible!” Sue assured him. A second, dove soft hand, touched his sleeve. “And…very willing!”

“Everyone who hires us…” fluted Mary, earnestly, “…always reports themselves – fully satisfied.

Two pouting lower lips were moistened by the tips of two pink little tongues. Two beseeching looks were thrown from beneath two sets of curling, quivering lashes.

Henry Brooker ran a finger round the inside of his stiff collar. “I think I WILL interview the young ladies, Cadogen,” he said, gruffly. “You can finish for the day – off you go! Shut the door!”

Two cooing voices murmured grateful thanks, tones warm with feminine appreciation of the commanding masculinity shown.

“What about your 5.30 appointment, Sir?” demurred Mr. Cadogen.

“Get rid of him!” ordered Brooker. “Tell him…” he ushered the girls into his inner office. His roving eye lingered on their – credentials. “Tell him – something’s come up!”

-oooOOOooo-

MEANWHILE – AT THE BROOKER RESIDENCE

“Telegraph, madam,” intoned the Brooker butler, holding out a silver salver.

“Who is it from, dear?” asked Mrs. ffoulkes-Simons.

“It’s from Henry,” answered Mrs. Henry Brooker. She turned puce. “He says – he is unavoidably detained with a business associate and will spend the night at his club! He will see us at the Exhibition on tomorrow’s Public Day. Ooooohhh!” The telegram had not said – ‘ooooohhh’, that part was original Mrs. Henry Brooker. “How DARE he? Business acquaintance – my foot!”

“I never liked him,” soothed Mrs. ffoulkes-Simons.

“I can’t believe Henry had the – the gall to send that!” fumed her daughter, shaking the offending missive as if it were the spousal throat.

She did right to state doubt. It was Hannibal Heyes, not Henry Brooker, who had sent the telegram. However, possibly due to his ever-changing aliases – he appeared to have forgotten his name.

-oooOOOooo-

THEODORE PIERCE’S STUDY

“So, Mr. Psmith…” smiled Theodore Pierce, “…why did you want a word in my study?”

Since Alice was still clinging hard to his arm, possibly to stop him bolting for the door, Kid might have considered Mr. Pierce lacking in deductive ability. He might have. He did not. He was too busy wanting to fulfil his bargain to the ethereal golden one, so he could be safely thrown out of the house in a fit of paternal rage.

“Joshua has something to ask you, Daddy,” Alice set the ball rolling. “Not that his name is really Joshua Psmith. That’s an alias.” Kid stiffened. “His real name is Fred Graines…”

“Gaines,” corrected Kid, gloomily.

“Whatever,” dismissed Alice. “He’s Mr. Grant’s partner. You know – Mr. Carl Grant, Daddy?” she repeated to drive home the point. “This is HIS partner…and… he’s got something to ask you.”

“Go ahead, Mr. Gaines,” smiled Pierce, genially. It was not often he was one step ahead of his clever, infuriating, daughter. He was looking forward to this.

“Alice and I…” Kid sighed deeply and spat it out, “…would like to be married, Sir.” Duty done, he felt impelled to add, “I realise it’s sudden. And – I’m no catch. No steady job. No assets. You know nothing about me. I’d understand if you threw me out. If you threw me out – right now…” Kid looked hopeful, “…who could blame you? Not me! I’d just leave. Alice’d get over it …OW!” Another finely placed kick to his anklebone shut him up.

“You see, Daddy,” declared Alice, reflecting that if you want a job done well, you have to do it yourself, “…while you and Grace thought I was at the Meredith’s weekend party, REALLY I was with…” she fluttered a worshipful look at the scowling blond ex-outlaw, “…HIM! Fred is so – so desperately in love with me, Daddy! And, I’ve fallen head over heels for his – his air of danger…just look at the way he wears his gun… it’s SO masculine! And …you should see…”

“Well, my dear,” interrupted her father, “…that all sounds very romantic.” He stood up and held out his hand. “You have my blessing, Mr. Gaines.”

“What?” yelped Kid.

“It is useless to refuse us!” carried on the inattentive Alice. “If we cannot marry with your consent, Fred intends to carry me off to a life of scandalous, illicit …” Her father’s words sank in, “WHAT?” she gasped.

“I don’t think you heard Alice, Sir,” pleaded Kid. “I’m CARL GRANT’S– you know who he is, huh? I’m HIS partner. I’m not eligible at all. I’d hardly be – WANTED – if you catch my drift – in a respectable family.”

“You’re too modest,” soothed Mr. Pierce. “There’s no need to CURRY favour with me, Mr. Gaines – if you catch MY drift – I understand perfectly who you are. You love Alice, she loves you…” The pole-axed expressions of the young couple gave no confirmation to this statement. “…that’s good enough for me! Alice has convinced me – love matters most. Isn’t that right, Alice?”

The elfin one was speechless. It was a sweet moment for Theodore Pierce.

“Let’s go tell your stepmother,” he gloated. “Come along…” he gave the two horror-struck youngsters a fatherly smile, “…you lovebirds!”

-oooOOOooo-

HENRY BROOKER’S OFFICE

“Oooh – it feels so – so smooth!” admired Mary.

“And – it’s so big!” marvelled Sue.

“…This is nothing!” dismissed Henry Brooker. “I have a much bigger one!”

“I love safes!” cooed Mary.

“Opening them makes me feel so …so naughty!” giggled Sue.

Henry Brooker felt a – dishevelled – twin, snuggle up on either side.

“Where’s your really, really big safe?” breathed Mary, delicately inserting the tip of a tongue in his ear.

“The demonstration model is over at the Exhibition Hall,” said Brooker, rumpling a no longer modest shirtwaist. “The Hall’s closed now though. All locked up!”

“If we broke in…” cooed Sue, sliding a hand over a balding head and allowing her camisole to slip over one velvety shoulder. “… I would feel SO naughty – I think you’d have to spank me!”

“Me too!” put in Mary, as if she could not bear to be left out.

“I’ve a key!” gulped Brooker. “Will that count as breaking in?”

-oooOOOooo-

THEODORE PIERCE’S DRAWING ROOM

Kid and Alice trailed after Alice’s father back to the drawing room. They saw Grace already had company. Heyes and Jòzef stood up, politely. It was only the second visitor that caused Alice’s scheming – but ever-faithful – heart to sink to her dainty satin evening shoes.

“Jòzef!” gasped Alice, “What are you doing here?” She dropped Kid’s arm like a hot potato and stepped away, guilt flushing her lovely face.

“Now, now, Alice,” her father patted her hand, kindly, “…I’m sure Mr. Kowalski will understand. Good news, darling!” he said, to Grace, “My little Alice is going to be married to Mr. Gaines, here!” He shot a dramatically sympathetic look at Jòzef. “Don’t take it too hard, Jòzef. Plenty more fish in the sea!”

“True enough,” said Jòzef.

“Jòzef!” protested Alice. She expected a bit more than – that!

“Congratulations, Alice. Congratulation, Gaines,” said Jòzef, shaking Kid’s reluctant hand. “I hope you’ll both be very happy.”

“Jòzef!” Alice stamped her foot. “Don’t you even care?”

“‘Tis better to have loved and lost …” said Jòzef, philosophically, with a nonchalant shrug. A beat. The ethereal golden one swayed from the shock. “Are you planning a long engagement, Mr. Gaines?” asked Jòzef, conversationally.

Heyes forestalled his partner.

“No! No!” he said, cheerfully slapping Kid on the back. “You plan on leavin’ for Bolivia, real soon, huh? You’ll want to take Alice with you?” Kid’s brows snapped together. The whole situation, Pierce and Jòzef’s reactions – not to mention the delighted mischievous look in Heyes’ eyes – was very suspicious. “You and Alice plan to farm pigs down there? Alice having a natural knack with the creatures? Isn’t that right?” went on Heyes.

Kid glowered as hard as he could.

“Just you wait!” he muttered, under his breath.

“Pigs?” checked Jòzef. “…Sounds good.” He turned his back on the still reeling Alice and casually remarked to Heyes, “Mrs. Laplume seems charming. A widow? Would she consider it forward if I called?”

“Jòzef!” howled Alice. “You KNOW! You MUST know! I didn’t MEAN it!” Her bottom lip wobbled. She did her best to stiffen it. “Who’s Mrs. Laplume?” came a plaintive little voice.

-oooOOOooo-

STAND 12 IN THE EXHIBITION HALL

“Oooooh – Mr. Brooker! You are SO wicked!” gasped the industrious Mary, ensuring both Henry Brooker’s and her face were not obscured from the lens of the first oh-so-discrete camera.

“You want me to do WHAT, Mr. Brooker?” giggled the equally hard-working Sue, checking she was not throwing a shadow in the wrong direction. “Bad boy! I think you need to be punished!”

“What have you got there? You naughty, naughty girls!” leched Brooker He heard a purposeful click. “What are you doing?” He tugged at his wrists. “Is – is this some new game?”

-oooOOOooo-

THEODORE PIERCE’S DRAWING ROOM

“Didn’t mean it, Alice?” said Jòzef, blandly. “Didn’t you promise never, never, never to play silly games to make me jealous ever again?”

“I didn’t!” protested Alice, blowing her nose into an inadequate lace handkerchief. Jòzef handed her an adequate, man-size, linen square. The elfin nose was re-blown. “I’d NEVER break a promise to you! NEVER! You weren’t supposed to know! I was only trying to show Daddy that compared to …” she looked at Kid. She searched. She realised she had completely lost track of who knew who was who – and, which alias she was using. “…this fella…” she compromised, ungrammatically, “…you are simply, wonderfully eligible!”

Kid frowned. Was he being insulted? He decided to put it down to young love. As long as Alice was safely off his hands – he did not care if he was described as marital slime!

“It’s ridiculous of Daddy to think you’re not good enough for me…” Alice went on.

“I agree,” said Theodore Pierce. “In fact … don’t you think, Jòzef, you’re far TOO good for this scheming baggage? If you don’t marry her – I’ll still make you a partner. You could do far better!”

“Daddy!” squeaked Alice.

“Theo!” protested Grace.

“I’d think it over,” counselled Kid, semi-seriously. “Plenty more – feminine – fish in the sea!” He shook his head, sadly, at Alice. “Not a fitting helpmeet for a talented man!”

“Well…” teased Jòzef, “…you may have a point.”

“Oh, Jòzef,” gulped Alice, summoning up a brave face, “…I know I’m not good enough for you. If you change your mind – I’ll understand! I just…” the lip wobbled, again, “…I just wish …” wobble, wobble, ” …I just wish I WAS good enough!”

“Hey!” Alice found herself swept up in a tight hug. “Shush! Don’t be silly! I’ll never change my mind. You know that!”

“You weren’t really interested in some – some widow?” bleated a tiny, chastened, voice.

“Let me tell you a secret about safe engineers,” whispered Jòzef, tenderly, “…despite appearances, in one way – we’re like swans.” A pair of cornflower blue eyes blinked up, enquiringly. “We mate for life,” he confided, into a shell-like ear.

-oooOOOooo-

CHAPTER 10

STAND 12 IN THE EXHIBITION HALL Saturday – Public Day.

“Just wait till I get my hands on Henry!” fumed Mrs. Brooker, sotto voice. “As if it wasn’t bad enough to send some feeble excuse why he didn’t come home last night – now he keeps us waiting!” She shot an anxious glance at a distinguished looking man, standing with a distinctly subdued looking Mr. Dawkins. “Not just us!” she hissed to her mother. “That gentleman is from Barings. Henry should be here – showing him the features of the 808.”

Mrs. ffoulkes-Simons clicked her tongue in disapproval.

“Men!” she scathed, comprehensively.

“Look who’s coming over,” sneered Mrs. Brooker, still keeping her tones low, “…The three men that vulgar Pierce girl lunched with yesterday.” She gave an ill-natured snigger. “It looks as if her latest suitor has already strayed!”

Her mother stared at the approaching Kid, Heyes and Harry. Kid and Harry each had a smiling ‘Darling’ twin hanging onto an arm. Heyes escorted the fascinating, though admittedly mercenary, ‘Aunt Beatrice’.

Mrs. ffoulkes-Simons’ face creased in contempt.

“Men!” It was one of her favourite expressions.

The ex-outlaws touched their hats, politely. They were rewarded with frosty stares and what is known in the higher social circles as – the cut direct.

“Good morning, Mr. Dawkins,” smiled Heyes, his cheerfulness not impaired in the slightest by the chill welcome at the Brooker stand.

Mr. Dawkins eyes widened at seeing the man he increasingly believed to be the leader of the notorious Devil’s Hole Gang. He noted the physical characteristics of the blond, blue-eyed, even-featured, five foot eleven, one hundred and sixty pound man accompanying the possible Hannibal Heyes. Was this – ‘Thaddeus Jones’? Mr. Dawkins had never seen the man held briefly in the notorious Barracuda Inn. Since he never mentioned the tempting name – ‘Kid Curry’ – to his hirelings, they had not mentioned the brunette colouring of their temporary captive. Mr. Dawkins felt a tremor of mixed apprehension and excitement. When informed of ‘Thaddeus Jones’ rescue, he assumed the walking twenty thousand dollar reward coveted by his employer had left the city. Now, it stood before him. BUT, it stood before him wearing an assured confident smile. Dawkins’ grey brows snapped together in suspicion. He was far too wily to let his thoughts show in his manner or voice.

“Good morning,” he replied, dryly, waiting developments.

Heyes summed up the elegant man beside Mr. Dawkins, clearly being treated as a VIP. Potential customer, he thought.

“Are we about to hear the features of this new safe?” he asked, as if making polite conversation.

“That’s why I’m here,” replied the representative from Barings, with the hint of an impatient glance first at Mr. Dawkins and, secondly, at the clock.

Mrs. Brooker made an imperious gesture at Mr. Dawkins.

“Carry on, Dawkins,” she ordered. “Mr. Brooker must be detained. Open the safe.”

“Looks open already,” said Heyes, blandly, as Mr. Dawkins laid a hand on the dial. Dawkins frowned and glanced at the edge of the door. Looking closely, he saw this was true. A sliver of a gap showed. “Seems to be fastened ajar with something,” remarked Heyes.

“You know,” responded Kid, conversationally, “…I reckon that’s a blob of quick dry putty.”

Dawkins pulled open the door of the safe. A gasp went up from the spectators. The safe was not empty. It was filled with the plump and sweating form of Henry Brooker. His hands were firmly cuffed behind his back. His legs were firmly tethered with what appeared to be – ladies stockings. Another stocking acted as a serviceable gag. None of this accounted, completely, for the mixture of shock and laughter amongst the gasps. To appreciate the full effect it must be reported that Henry Brooker was…Not to put too fine a point upon it…In plain terms…

He was butt nekkid.

“Henry!” barked his wife.

“Henry!” yapped his mother-in-law.

“Mr. Brooker!” yelped Dawkins, making haste to remove the gag and free Brooker’s legs.

Behind Mr. Dawkins strategically held jacket, Henry Brooker, purple with rage and embarrassment, heaved himself out of the safe and onto his feet.

Fresh gasps of laughter arose behind him, as this exposed an unappealing back view to the Saturday crowds. Looking over his shoulder, Brooker was horrified to see two grinning men wearing ‘Press’ tags. One scribbled furiously in his notebook. The other hastened to turn his camera tripod away from a dull display of the latest telephone equipment and…”

“DAWKINS!” squealed the handcuffed and helpless Henry Brooker.

FLASH!

A split second too late, the loyal Mr. Dawkins flourished the concealing jacket – like a matador’s cape – to conceal the ample rear end. This, of course, uncovered Brooker’s – hem, hem – frontal aspect.

“OLÉ!” giggled Mary, before pretending to hide her eyes behind her fan.

Sue’s heels beat a rapid flamenco rhythm, before she joined her sister in mock coyness and giggles.

“Mary! Sue!” reproved ‘Aunt Beatrice’, as Mr. Dawkins swung the jacket back, in an agony of indecision. She handed the clerk her shawl, to wrap around the sweating and scarlet banker. “I DO apologise, ma-am,” she said, politely, to Mrs. Brooker. “You know how foolish young girls are.” An arched eyebrow rose. “They laugh at the silliest little thing!”

Heyes clicked his tongue in mock sympathy with Brooker.

“Shame the press were here,” he commiserated, “…Newspapers can be so – so cutting with their headlines, huh?” He drew a mock banner in the air. “‘Prominent businessman makes Exhibition of himself’?” he guessed. “Or…’Crack exposed in Brooker security arrangements’?”

“Brooker family jewels spend night in safe?” contributed Kid, deadpan.

“HENRY!” exploded Mrs Brooker, by now puce with fury, “…What happened?”

“HENRY!” yapped his mother-in-law, red with rage, “…Tell us!”

“I was… I was…” gasped Henry Brooker. “It was…”

“Oh, please… Mr. Brooker,” interrupted the clear voice of ‘Aunt Beatrice’, “…Tell us EXACTLY what happened to you last night!”

Henry Brooker’s gaze spun round to the source of the voice. Next to ‘Aunt Beatrice’, on Harry Briscoe’s arm, stood Mary. Or, perhaps, Sue. His eyes moved left. On Kid’s arm, there was Sue. Or, perhaps, Mary. Both – ‘Darlings’ – smiled at him, pityingly.

“HENRY!”

The sympathetic smiles of the – ‘Darlings’ – widened. Their dark eyes laughed.

“Er…” gulped Henry Brooker. “Er…”

“Can’t you remember?” asked Mary, compassionately.

“Perhaps he was hit on the head?” chimed in Sue.

“Or maybe – he’s just absentminded?” conjectured Mary.

“We’re absent minded – aren’t we, Mary?” empathised Sue.

“Sure are,” agreed Mary. “I can’t even remember what I was doing last night! Can you, Sue?”

“Let me think,” puzzled Sue.

Henry Brooker’s eyes swivelled from one perfect face to the other. He glanced at his suspicious wife. Were the – ‘Darlings’ – going to consign him to the doghouse for the rest of his life?

“I remember what you two girls were doing last night,” smiled ‘Aunt Beatrice’. Henry Brooker stared at her like a rabbit staring at a snake. “You were having your photographs taken!” The delightful woman on Heyes’ arm opened her bag. “Here they are,” she beamed. “One for you, Mary. One for you, Sue.”

“Oh, we’d like Joshua and Thaddeus to have them!” cooed Mary.

“As a keepsake!” agreed Sue.

Both ex-outlaws admired the photographs. Heyes stepped over to Henry Brooker and Mr. Dawkins and showed them.

“Isn’t that clear?” he asked, appreciatively.

Henry Brooker gawped at the picture. It was not only clear. It brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘compromising position’. Heyes tucked the photograph into his inside pocket.

“I’ll treasure that,” he remarked. “I can’t imagine parting with it.” He cast an enquiring look at his partner. “Can you imagine parting with yours?”

“Nope,” said Kid. “Not unless…” he grinned, “…something ridiculous happened. Like – being arrested and having to hand over all my personal effects.”

“That WOULD be ridiculous!” laughed Heyes. He turned innocent wide brown eyes onto Henry Brooker and Mr. Dawkins. “Wouldn’t it?” The eyes took on just a spark of danger.

“Uh huh!” gulped Brooker.

“Indubitably,” intoned Mr. Dawkins.

“HENRY!” shrilled his wife, bursting with impatience at all this apparent nonsense. “WHAT HAPPENED?”

“Er…” panicked Henry Brooker.

“Mr. Briscoe,” said ‘Aunt Beatrice’, “…you’re a Bannerman detective… I’ll wager you can deduce what happened.” Her lashes batted encouragingly at Harry.

“Well, ma-am…” started Harry, once again making use of his serious scowl, “…I think I can.”

Henry Brooker began to shake his head. Once again, despite his considerable – and perspiring – bulk, the resemblance to a bunny facing a rattler was pronounced.

“I’ll wager Mr. Brooker was here in the hall – alone,” Harry made use of one sharply pointing finger – indicative of the master-sleuth. “He was working late – conscientious, dedicated – despite wishing he was home, warm in the bosom of his family…”

Henry Brooker stopped shaking his head.

“…Suddenly, he was set upon by three or four men – who appeared from nowhere…”

“…Or maybe five or six?” chipped in Heyes, helpfully.

Henry Brooker began to nod eagerly.

“Men!” he bleated. “It was …men!”

“Despite his brave struggles,” went on Harry, on a roll, “…the ruffians overpowered him. Not satisfied with robbing him of his wallet and his watch… they tied him up and gagged him. You see, ma-am,” he said to an incredulous, but increasingly confused Mrs. Brooker, “…they couldn’t risk him going for the law until they’d made their get away! I reckon they stripped him and put him in the safe just to make extra sure! In fact – it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t tell him – that’s why they did it!”

“They did!” yelped Brooker, “…That’s exactly what they told me! All seven of ’em!”

“They tied you up with…these?” came his mother-in-law’s sceptical voice, plucking one of the gossamer stockings from the floor.

“A refined lady like you won’t know this, ma-am,” explained Harry, “…but criminals have begun to use these extra fine…”

“… Pure silk. Twenty-five gauge. Direct from Paris,” clarified ‘Aunt Beatrice’.

“…Gauzy silk stockings…” went on Harry, “…to conceal their features.” He saw his listeners frowning in confusion. “They wear them over their faces,” he elucidated.

“They DID!” nodded Brooker, frantically. “They wore these over their…” he caught two identical sets of laughing brown eyes. He flushed. “…faces,” he finished with a whimper.

“Are you…” Mrs. Henry Brooker’s gaze disdained Harry for a moment, “…really a Bannerman?”

“Certainly, ma-am!” assured Harry. He withdrew something from his inner pocket. “Here’s my badge. I’m a Bannerman man – through and through!”

“At the moment,” came a distinctly malicious interjection from Mr. Dawkins.

“Mr. Briscoe,” glowed ‘Aunt Beatrice’, “…how rude of me! I never gave you a picture of Mary and Sue here – as a keepsake.” She handed over a photograph.

Harry goggled at an entrancing study of eight lissom, long, lovely Darling limbs, spoilt only by the presence of Henry Brooker. Finally, Harry managed to speak. “Thank you, ma-am. I’m goin’ to keep that safe – right next to my badge. The only way anyone will get that from me is if…” he cast a look at the sour-faced Mr. Dawkins, “…if something ridiculous happens like – like George Bannerman askin’ for my badge back.”

“That’d be another ridiculous thing!” shot back Heyes. Again the laughing eyes darkened just a shade as he turned to Henry Brooker and Mr. Dawkins. “Wouldn’t it?”

“Uh huh!” nodded the nekkid one.

“Risible,” contributed the right hand man.

-oooOOOooo-

WE SEE OUR BOYS…
ON THE SAN FRANCISCO CHOO-CHOO…
AND IT IS TIME …
TO HEAR THE LAST LINE

“Kid…” said Heyes, as their train pulled away from the big – wicked – city, “…I’ve been goin’ over the way you got me outta those cellars under the Barracuda Inn.”

“With the fiendish …?” checked his partner.

“Uh huh.”

“And the unbelievable …?” clarified Kid.

“Uh huh.” A beat. “Know what I think, Kid?” went on Heyes.

“Nope,” responded Kid. “But, I reckon I’m about to.”

“The story of that escape – oughta be written down!” said the dark-haired ex-outlaw, firmly. “Folk’d wanna read some’n as exciting and just plain astounding as that!”

Kid threw him a questioning glance.

“What kinda folk are gonna want to read stories about us, Heyes?”

-oooOOOooo-

THE END.

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