What’s-His-Name and That Other Fella

By Pony Girl

The two outlaws heard the high-pitched whistle of the train while it was still out of sight. Soon they were able to make out the steam engine's smoky trail from their vantage point on the height above the tracks. It was time. The trap was set. They lit the fuse and ran for cover.

The dynamite exploded with a force that seemed to dislodge half the hillside and send it tumbling into the gorge below. Rocks and dirt filled the narrow passageway, completely blocking the only path possible for the train to travel, confined as it was to its rails.

The two men cheered their handiwork and scrambled down the slope to await the train's arrival.

It approached at its usual pace and seemed at first to aim to plow straight into the barricade. Then a flurry of sparks and a screech of metal on metal gave evidence of the brakes working furiously to slow its speed. It jerked to a halt just short of the newly-made barrier.

The waiting men were ready. They drew their guns and leaped aboard. Obviously experienced at this game, they went about their tasks very efficiently, tying up the crew and disarming the passengers while maintaining order. They appropriated the bank shipment they knew was located in the baggage car and left with a final word to discourage anyone foolhardy enough to consider following them.

"You can tell your friends you was robbed by none other than Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry," one of them said, tipping his hat and smiling as they exited the car, leaving an excited hubbub erupting behind them.

The Kid watched her meander through the meadow, her yellow sunbonnet flopping over her eyes. She paused every now and then, bending over to pluck another flower to add to her bouquet. He smiled as he watched her, luxuriating in each graceful gesture, the musical quality of her delighted laughter as a butterfly alighted for a moment on her posy, the sensual feel of the sun warm on his body. She came to him, kneeling before him to show him what she held. He reached for her to pull her close and their lips barely brushed...

"Kid! Kid, wake up I said!" a familiar voice called as Curry was roughly shaken from his dream.

"Aw, Heyes, go away," he groaned as he rolled over and pulled the sheet over his head to drown out his partner's words. It was yanked right back down again. "This is no time to sleep. We got trouble," came the insistent response. The Kid sat up in bed, blinking the sleep from his eyes as he ran his hand through his tousled curls.

"If I let trouble stop me. I'd never get any sleep," he said through a yawn. "What is it this time?"

A hand thrust a newspaper under his nose. "See for yourself!" Heyes proclaimed.

The Kid took the paper and peered owlishly at it as Heyes began to pace back and forth at the foot of the bed.

"Not again!" Curry lamented as he absorbed the information on the printed page.

"There oughta be a law against usin' other folks' names to rob trains with," Heyes stormed in indignation.

The Kid made a valiant attempt to consider that, but gave it up for a lost cause. "Heyes, don't make me think this early in the morning. It makes my head hurt," he complained. He looked up in resignation, already mentally preparing to hit the road yet again. "So when do we leave?"

"Soon as you're dressed."

Heyes threw himself into a chair and continued to rail at fate while the Kid got ready. "Try to retire, lead a quiet, law-abidin' life and where does it get ya? Half the crooks in the west decide to use our names to pin their crimes on. I tell ya, Kid, I'm getting almighty tired of tracking down these people and setting our record straight. At this rate, I'm going to be too worn out to enjoy it long before we ever get our amnesty. If we ever get it."

"Now, Heyes, simmer down," the Kid said, pulling on his boots. "These fellas have robbed three trains under our names so far, accordin' to that paper, and it don't appear the law's doin' much to stop 'em. Now, I figger we're ahead of the law here since we know they ain't us and they ain't likely hidin' out in Devil's Hole. Still, they ain't half bad at the business. If we're gonna find 'em and put a stop to what they're doin' to us, we're gonna need you ta keep a clear head."

"You're right. Kid," Heyes answered. He thought it over for all of a minute. "We'll head for the location of.the last robbery," he decided. "It's as good a place as any to start. I'll get the horses ready while you go downstairs and check out. Meet me in front of the hotel."

Heyes pushed himself up and stomped out of the room.

"It never fails. When it comes to wakin' me just when my dream's gettin' to the good part, he's got a regular talent, he has," the Kid mused sorrowfully as he finished packing up their gear.

Heyes and Curry rode cautiously into Backwater, Nevada, a bustling little town whose location lived up to its name more than its atmosphere did.

"Lot of activity for a little place out in the middle of nowhere," the Kid remarked. "I was expecting a sleepy kinda dead end town."

They wove their horses through the traffic on the main street. People looked busy and cheerful, calling greetings to one another as they passed. Shops appeared to have plenty of customers. It was a typical small western town, with dirt streets, boardwalks, and the usual one hotel and one saloon. This last caught Heyes' eye.

"Yeah, well, why don't we check out the saloon and see what we can dig up?" he suggested.

They hitched their horses and entered a crowded room, noisy with loud conversations and lively music. They sauntered over to the bar, placed their order, and took a leisurely look around. They saw men drinking, playing cards, and flirting with the pretty waitresses -- nothing out of the ordinary. Their orders arrived.

Whiskeys in hand, they struck up a conversation with the bartender. "Busy place," Heyes opened the small talk.

"Sure enough is," agreed the barkeep. "You wouldn't recognize the place if you'd been in here last week."

"That a fact?" Curry encouraged him to continue.

The man obliged. "Yes indeedy," he said, leaning comfortably on the bar. "Ever since the silver strike, it's been a changed place. This town was dyin'. Yessir, dyin'. Ever'body thought the silver mines were all worked out. That train robbery was the luckiest thing that ever happened to Backwater."

"Yeah, we heard about that," added the Kid. "Kid Curry and that other fella robbed a train somewhere hereabouts."

Heyes shot his partner a calculating look, but the Kid's bland expression didn't change. Heyes turned back to the bartender.

"That's right," said that gentleman. "Their dynamite uncovered a whole new vein, richer than the last. If they hadn't picked that way of stopping the train, no one would ever have known the silver was there." He lowered his voice as if to take them into his confidence. "They do say that Hannibal Heyes is a smart one, though. If you ask me, he suspicioned about the silver and decided to kill two birds with one stone, if you take my meaning."

He tapped his finger significantly on the side of his nose, while Heyes and Curry digested this development. He then disclosed another piece of news. "That's why those two boys are heroes in this town."

"Hannibal Heyes and what's-his-name are heroes?" Heyes asked incredulously. "They're outlaws!"

"Don't matter. They saved this town and nothin's too good for 'em here. That's why we rolled out the red carpet for 'em."

"You mean they're here? In town?" Curry couldn't be sure he'd heard correctly.

"Whoops. Guess I spoke out of turn. Not that it makes any difference, though. It ain't exactly a secret."

"They're wanted by the law," Heyes reminded him.

"That don't matter none here. The sheriff works for the town; he ain't gonna arrest 'em. That silver's worth a lot more than the twenty thousand dollar reward on them, so ain't no one here gonna turn 'em in anyplace else. Most of the law thinks they headed back to Wyomin'. We're pretty outta the way here so word ain't likely to get out. The town'll protect 'em if it does. No, those boys have found themselves a home here."

"That's real nice," Heyes said faintly. He and Curry drank their whiskeys and left the saloon.

"What now?" Curry asked.

"Now I gotta think," Heyes responded. "Let's get settled into the hotel. I got a feeling we're gonna be here awhile."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Smith. We're full up, what with these Russian belly dancers and all."

"Belly dancers?" Mystified, Heyes repeated the hotel desk clerk's words back to him.

"That's right. They were on the train that got held up. You know, by Hannibal Heyes and..."

"Yeah, yeah, what's-his-name. We heard about that," Heyes interrupted impatiently.

"Well, this whole troupe o' fancy dancers from Russia was on the train, headed for Denver. They're stuck here now till they get the tracks cleared. It's takin' a while gettin' all them boulders and such outta that gorge. Them outlaws sure was foxy. Why, I hear tell that Heyes is a genius..."

"You can't believe all the stories you hear," commented the Kid. "Are them dancers takin' up every room in the hotel?"

"I'm afraid so," answered the clerk.

"Can't some of them double up?" suggested Heyes.

"I am the prima ballerina of the Royal Russian Ballet of St. Petersburg. I do not 'double up,'" announced a thickly-accented, regal voice behind them. They turned to see a sylphlike blonde beauty standing very erect with her nose in the air. They removed their hats and turned on the charm.

"Joshua Smith, ma'am, at your service, and this here's my partner, Thaddeus Jones," Heyes introduced them.

"I am Natalya Petrovna Marishkova," the lady declared, extending her hand graciously.

Heyes took it and bowed over it gracefully. "We are honored to be in the presence of such a talented dancer," he said smoothly.

"Ah, you know my work," she exclaimed with a pleased smile.

"Well, not exactly, ma'am, no," Heyes stumbled.

"But we'd like to," the Kid recovered.

"Then you must come to our performance," the lady commanded.

"Performance? Here?" Heyes was puzzled.

"Yes. It was not of course a scheduled stop on our tour. We have heard in my country from the Grand Duke Alexander of his hunting trip with your remarkable Colonel Buffalo Bill Cody, and so we have decided to see your American west for ourselves. We have performed in San Francisco, and we were on our way to Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, when our train was robbed by your two famous outlaws."

"Yeah, we heard about that," the Kid said. "Sorry you had to be exposed to that unpleasant side of our country, ma'am."

"Sorry? But why? It was so exciting! An authentic American train robbery with real American western outlaws! This is why we have come here, to see the real west --untamed, lawless, adventurous! It is very different from the so-civilized Russian society we are used to. So we are performing for the town in gratitude for meeting two such famous public figures. Also, we need to keep in practice."

"I see," Heyes said, a bit bemused. "Well, we'll be sure not to miss that, ma'am, but we may not be able to stick around if we can't get a room..."

"Oh, there will be no problem about that," she said, dismissing such a minor detail with a wave of her hand. "We will rearrange some of the girls in the corps de ballet. They can squeeze in together. I'm certain we can free up one room for two such charming fans of the ballet."

"Thank you kindly, ma'am. We surely do appreciate this," the Kid thanked her.

"Think nothing of it. I will go to attend to it at once." She nodded her head to them and sailed up the stairs.

"Well, that's settled," said Heyes with satisfaction.

"Uh huh," replied the Kid. "Heyes?" he continued, automatically lowering his voice upon using that name.

"Yeah?"

"What exactly is this ball-ay dancing anyhow?"

"Oh, ladies dance around on their toes."

"On their toes, huh?" The Kid scratched his head, then shrugged. "Well, I guess that's one way to keep 'em from getting stepped on by their fellas."

They got settled in their quickly vacated room and headed right out to see what more they could discover about the two men they sought.

The upstairs hallway was filled with females chattering in Russian as they moved their things from one room to another, trying to decide who was going to stay where. They blushed and giggled as the Kid nodded at them and smiled in frank admiration.

"Put your eyes back in your head, Kid. That ain't what we're here for," Heyes admonished his friend.

"I know, Heyes, but there ain't nuthin' wrong with bein' polite, specially seein' as how they moved around for us an' all," answered the Kid, stepping back against the wall to let a group of them pass by. One dainty damsel dropped her hairbrush at his feet and he picked it up to hand it back. As she took it from him, her fingers lightly brushed his hand and he held onto it a moment longer before releasing it, savoring the feminine touch.

"They don't even speak English," Heyes objected.

"Heyes," explained the Kid as he reluctantly broke the lingering eye contact and the dancer went on her way, "some things mean the same in any language."

"Well, I'll be," suddenly came a new voice, male and in English, from the opposite end of the hallway. "If it ain't..."

Heyes looked up, recognized the man who was speaking, and realized he was about to call them by name. Heyes swiftly interrupted before he could give them away, holding out his hand and striding forward.

"That's right, it's your old friends. Smith and Jones," he said with a significant look, vigorously pumping the man's hand up and down.

"Smith and... Oh sure, I get it," the man said. "Well, come on in and have a drink. We're just having something sent up now."

"We?" Heyes questioned as the Kid followed him into the room. He caught sight of the second occupant. "Oh of course, if Jack Loring's in town, Cavanaugh would be, too. Howdy, Mitch."

"Heyes. Kid," the man so addressed acknowledged. "Fancy runnin' into you two way out here.”

“Now, Mitch, we mighta guessed they’d show up sooner or later,” Loring responded easily. “’Cept we kinda figgered you boys was layin’ low or maybe even left the country, seein’ that we ain’t heard o’ you pullin’ any jobs lately.”

We kinda retired from the business,” Heyes said. “But…”

He was interrupted by a knock on the door and a man’s voice called out, “Mr. Heyes?”

The Kid’s gun was out in a flash and Heyes’ followed an instant behind, both pointed with deadly menace at the door.

“Easy, boys,” Loring said, holding out his empty hands, “it’s just the waiter with our whiskey.”

He opened the door to reveal a waiter with a tray supporting a bottle.

“Here’s the whiskey you ordered, Mr. Heyes,” the waiter said and presented the tray to Loring.

Heyes and Curry returned their Colts to their holsters. Loring took the bottle and rewarded the waiter with a generous tip. He closed the door and turned to face his guests, holding the bottle aloft.

"Now, how about that drink?" he invited.

"Hold on a minute," said the Kid. "He called you Mr. Heyes."

"I'm beginning to catch on," Heyes said slowly. He nudged the Kid without taking his eyes off Loring. "Doncha see. Kid? Our 'friends' here are the two gents we been lookin' for."

"You mean you two are the ones been usin' our names in your jobs?" The Kid's voice escalated as the realization struck.

Cavanaugh eyed Curry's gun hand nervously.

"Now, Kid," he placated," Jack done explained how we didn't think you were around, or would mind."

"Well, you're wrong. We do mind." The Kid was emphatic.

Loring finished pouring and shoved a glass full of whiskey into Curry's hand, then passed the others around.

"Best whiskey in the hotel," he praised. "Nothing's too good for Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, not in this town."

"But you're not Hannibal Heyes, Jack," the genuine Heyes said silkily, his eyes narrowed to slits.

The Kid snorted. "And Cavanaugh ain't Kid Curry. It's plain no one's seen you shoot, Mitch, or you wouldn't be gettin' away with this."

"But we are gettin' away with it," Cavanaugh pointed out, the whiskey lending him a bit of confidence. "And what are you gonna do about it?"

"I'll show you what I'll do." The Kid started out of his chair, but was held back by Heyes' restraining hand.

"Now, Kid, there's no need for any rough stuff," he said reasonably. “I’m sure Jack and Mitch can be persuaded to come clean."

"You can talk all you want, Heyes, but Mitch and me like things just the way they are," Jack answered defiantly. "We don't see any reason to change 'em."

"Don't you?" Heyes spoke very softly, with a very dangerous glint in his usually warm brown eyes. "Then we'll just have to change 'em for you. We can't allow this deception to continue, Jack. We'll just have to tell folks who you really are and how you've been lying to them all."

"That so?" Loring was pretty cocky. "An' how you gonna prove it? You gonna tell 'em you're the real Heyes and Curry?" He laughed derisively. "No one'll believe you --and even if they do they'll just slap you into jail. We're the hee-roes around here and no one's gonna listen to anything you have to say against us."

"Jack, we run across a few bankers what robbed their own banks and picked us as the handiest crooks to pin their crimes on, but we never thought we'd face the same thing from someone in the business. Someone we know." The Kid felt betrayed.

"Kid, you never did believe that hogwash about honor among thieves, now did you?" Cavanaugh grinned and put back another slug of whiskey.

"Besides, what difference does it make?" Loring asked. "A few more train robberies ain't gonna hurt your records none. It ain't like we botched 'em or nuthin'. We done real good."

"It makes a difference," Heyes contended. "Like we told you, we retired from the business. We're through with outlawin'. We don't want no more crimes tacked onto our records. "

"And like we told you, ya got no choice," Loring reiterated. "We didn't use your name outta no hard feelings, we just figgered the folks we was robbin' would make less trouble if they thought it was you doin' the robbin'. Your reputations made everything a whole lot easier; folks practically acted like it was an honor to get robbed. And it kept the law off our trail. We're sorry you're takin' it hard, but we ain't gonna change our story."

"You fellas should relax and enjoy it, same as us," Cavanaugh added. "Any friends of ours are gonna be treated real well in this town. So whaddya say?"

"What do we say? We say..."

Heyes interrupted his impetuous partner. "We say fine."

"We do?" The Kid looked at Heyes with some misgiving, but his faith in Heyes' abilities was firm and so he waited to be convinced.

"Sure we do. If ya can't beat 'em, join 'em, Kid." Heyes slapped his partner on the back and held up his glass in a toast and drank it down. "Real good whiskey. Jack."

"I told ya. Nuthin' but the best."

"Might as well go along with things, if you're gettin' this kinda treatment," Heyes smiled engagingly. "We'll be gettin' along now, but we'll see you boys around."

"Sure thing, Heyes."

"No, I guess I'll hafta get used to calling you Heyes, Jack. And remember, far as anyone else is concerned. I'm Joshua Smith and the Kid's Thaddeus Jones."

"Smith and Jones. Got it. Seems like you coulda come up with something smarter than that, Heyes."

"You mean like your idea, Jack -- borrowing some other outlaws' names? Oh, I never woulda had a brainstorm like that."

Loring puffed up a little at the notion of outthinking Hannibal Heyes. Heyes and Curry headed out the door. The Kid had remained silent all this time, letting Heyes take the lead, but he tossed one parting shot over his shoulder as he left.

"Mitch. Don't let anyone see you draw. You got my reputation to consider now and ruinin' it wouldn't be healthy for either one of us."

"Sure think, Kid. Whatever you say." Mitch's grin faded as he turned the words over in his mind, pondering their meaning. Even if they had the upper hand for now, he did not want to get on Kid Curry's bad side.

"All right, Heyes, you wanta fill me in?" the Kid asked his partner when they got back to their room. He tossed his hat on the bed, sat down in the one chair, stretched out his legs, and crossed his ankles. He folded his arms and waited for an explanation. "Why did we just give in to them back there?"

"Because, Kid, the deck was stacked in their favor. Everything they said was true. They're holdin' all the cards and there's nothing we can do about it, as things stand."

"But we're not gonna let 'em stand, right?" The Kid knew his partner well enough to go along with him blindly and trust him to come up with a solution to any problem they might face. Still, he felt more comfortable when he had just a little more information than he had at present.

"No, we're not," Heyes answered just as the Kid had expected.

"So what's the plan?"

"I don't know yet."

This was not quite the answer the Kid had expected. There was that word 'yet,' however.

"But you're workin' on it, right?" prodded the Kid. "We're not just gonna sit back and let 'em blow our amnesty deal?"

'"Course I'm workin' on it. You ever known me to not come up with a plan? I'll come up with a plan. I just need to think on it some." Heyes could be a bit touchy sometimes when it came to his plans. It was like his honor was on the line and he needed to work everything out just so. Of course he always did. A Hannibal Heyes Plan was a true work of art. Heyes could be excused a shade of artistic temperament now and then.

"Can't we just wire Lom to come and identify them?"

Heyes rejected that option almost before he had time to consider it. "I just don't think that would be enough, Kid."

Heyes leaned back against the door and closed his eyes for a moment while he visualized the circumstances. He rubbed his temples, opened his eyes, and resumed his discussion.

"Those boys are sittin' pretty and they know it. Even if Lom convinced the town they're not us, it wouldn't change their standing here. The townspeople'd find some way to protect their 'heroes' from being arrested and taken away. We could get the story out to the papers, but without an arrest and conviction it would just be unsubstantiated rumors. Plenty of folks would still think we were involved."

"Lom and the governor 'd know it wasn't us."

"You know how important public opinion is to the governor. He's not going to grant us amnesty long as folks think we're still robbin' trains. The railroads'd crucify him."

"Then what 're we gonna do, Heyes?"

"We got to find some way of bringing out the whole truth. We need to make the town change their minds about them bein' heroes."

"That ain't gonna be easy. You seen how they get treated -- put up in the best room, waited on, everythin' they want."

"We need some way to make the town see them for what they are. Once they do that, they won't take long to turn against them."

"After what folks figure they done for this town, it'd take a lot to change their minds."

"What they done for this town," Heyes repeated thoughtfully. "You're right, Kid. But what if..." Heyes walked to the window and surveyed the town, then looked back at the Kid, the light of an idea in his eyes. "What if the town thought they were gonna take all that away? They wouldn't be favorite sons no more then; they'd be snakes in the grass. And you know how folks treat snakes."

"You got a plan." It was a statement, not a question. The Kid didn't have to ask; he'd known it was only a matter of time before Heyes thought of a way out. He always did.

Heyes smiled. "Yeah, I got a plan. We're gonna set 'em up and watch 'em fall."

The Kid smiled back. "I like the sound of that. Tell me all about it."

Heyes and Curry spent most of the day socializing. In addition to the friendly bartender, they spoke with many of the saloon's clientele, buying a drink here, playing a hand of poker there. They dropped in on dance rehearsals and furthered their acquaintance with the redoubtable Talya and the other dancers and met the group's manager, Mr. Dukovsky. They loitered along the street, in the hotel lobby, in the restaurant, around the livery stable and wherever they could listen to the passersby. By day's end, they had picked up enough information to satisfy Heyes. That evening they paid another visit to Loring and Cavanaugh.

"Heyes, I heard a lot about your plans and it's a privilege to finally be a part o' one," grinned Jack Loring when he heard Heyes' proposition. "You got it all laid out so smooth, it's gonna be almost too easy."

"This one didn't need a lot of planning. Jack," Heyes responded. "All that silver's just sitting there, begging to be taken. That chatty bartender hears everything going on in this town and doesn't hesitate to pass it all on. As soon as they clear those tracks, they're gonna send the first shipment off to Denver so I guess they didn't see no reason not to just load it right on the train while they're waiting."

"Only we're gonna save 'em some trouble and unload it," Cavanaugh commented, also grinning. "I almost wish there would be a little trouble so's we could see a little action." He patted the gun on his hip.

"Don't start believing your own stories, Mitch," the Kid said, leaning lazily back in his chair. "You just follow Heyes' instructions and we'll all come out of this rich -- and none of us will need to draw down on anyone." Mitch digested the implied threat in silence.

"I knew you boys couldn't really o' quit the business," Jack put in smugly.

"Naw, we was just bidin' our time till things cooled off some and something big came along. You boys led us to just what we've been waiting for," Heyes agreed.

"This town sure has a surprise in store," said Cavanaugh. "They won't know what hit 'em. Heyes and Curry at it again."

"Oh, Heyes is full of surprises," the Kid drawled and smiled disarmingly at the two crooks.

The Kid watched the pretty Russian dancers dressed in feathers cavorting about the stage.

"Heyes, you were right -- they really do dance on their toes," he said in amazement.

"Mm hmm," Heyes commented absently, squinting at his pocket watch.

"They sure are lookers, especially in those short dresses," Curry said happily. "But there's something I don't get, Heyes."

"What's that?" inquired his partner.

"How come ladies dancing in short skirts and feathers here is supposed to be culture, but the same thing in saloons ain't respectable?"

Heyes mulled it over. "The music. Kid," he finally came up with. "Gotta be that high-falutin' music. I guess that's the culture part. Makes all the difference."

"You must be right, Heyes. Sure is a funny thing, though."

"Look, Kid, it's time for me to hit that safe." Heyes turned his partner's thoughts in another direction. "I should be back in a few minutes."

"I still don't see why the boys stealin' that silver ain't enough. Why do you gotta take a chance on crackin' the Russians' safe?"

"Kid we want to get as many folks mad at those boys as possible so they don't get no support from nobody. Those Russians are still kinda excited over bein' in a real American train robbery. They sure got a peculiar idea o' fun. It won't hurt our cause none to get 'em riled over gettin' robbed themselves."

"You sure you don't want me to act as lockout? It don't feel right just sittin' here while you're on a job," demurred Curry.

"Naw, Kid, it's more important one of us stays here. Folks'll be less likely to notice one of us gone than both of us. And that safe won't take me no time at all. Enjoy the show."

Heyes slipped quietly out of their last row seats and made his way to the box office. He entered the darkened, deserted room and went directly to the back. He had checked everything out during their earlier visit so he knew exactly what he was dealing with. Kneeling in front of the safe, he flexed his fingers, lay his ear against the door, and got to work. The clicking of the tumblers sounded a sweeter symphony to him than the orchestra playing in the hall. His practiced touch made the operation an easy one and the money was soon reposing securely in his jacket pocket. Leaving the safe door wide open, he went back to rejoin the Kid.

"Well?" Curry whispered, his eyebrows raised interrogatively.

For answer, Heyes pulled the cash from his pocket and passed it to his friend with a smile. Curry quickly stowed it away out of sight.

"Now all you got to do is plant it in their room," Heyes advised. "You remember what I told you?"

"Don't worry. Even I can manage that hotel room door," the Kid assured him. It was his turn to slip out as Heyes remained behind, listening to the music swell as Talya's partner lifted her high. He joined in the enthusiastic applause.

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry walked boldly into the sheriff's office. "Sheriff," Heyes said without preamble, "My name's Rembacker. This here's my partner, Mr. Hotchkiss. We're U.S. Treasury agents and we're here to report a robbery in progress being committed by the two men calling themselves Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry."

The sheriff gawked at him.

"What do you mean calling themselves Heyes and Curry?" he asked. "And I thought you two been calling yourselves Smith and Jones."

"Aw now. Sheriff, you musta knowed something was up," Heyes said conspiratorially. "You're too sharp to be taken in by such obvious aliases as Smith and Jones. We been trailing those two outlaws for some time now. Their real names are Jack Loring and Mitch Cavanaugh and right now they are stealing the silver shipment from the mine off the train that's waitin' on the track. If you hurry you can catch 'em in the act."

The sheriff wasn't about to hurry over anything on a stranger's say-so. "That's a pretty tall story you're tellin', mister. How do I know there's anythin' to it?"

"I reckon you don't know for sure. Sheriff, but are you willin' to take a chance on losin' all that silver?"

The sheriff rubbed his hand over his stubbled face and looked from Heyes to Curry. The two simply waited for his decision. Heyes was pretty good at judging just how far to push a body before backing off. The sheriff made up his mind.

"I expect it's worth checkin' out. One way or another those boys are train robbers, that's a fact. I s'pose it shouldn't surprise me none if they aim to make off with the silver. As to the rest of your story..."

"Sheriff, those crooks'd lie to their own mothers," Heyes said earnestly. "They just made up that stuff about who they were to throw the law off their trail. Why, they don't even match the descriptions on the wanted posters."

"I noticed that. I figgered Heyes and Curry were smart enough to make sure somehow that those descriptions 'd be wrong."

"Sheriff, you're probably right. Why, we probably fit those descriptions better than Heyes and Curry do," Heyes laughed, inviting the sheriff to share the joke.

The Kid blinked languidly and gave his partner a long look. Heyes did like to play with fire.

"Reckon I'll round up my deputies and go have me a look-see," the sheriff decided. "This better not be no wild goose chase."

"You won't be sorry, sheriff, I promise you," Heyes vowed. "We'll wait right here for your return."

"Mm," answered the sheriff noncommittally. He put on his hat and left the office.

"Heyes," observed the Kid, "you're enjoyin' this too much for my peace o' mind."

"Just keepin' ya on your toes. Kid," Heyes grinned. "Case ya wanna join the ballet."

Heyes lounged against the sheriff's desk while Curry kept watch out the window. "The performance oughtta be gettin' out about now," Heyes observed. "I think it was pretty close to the end there when we ducked out."

"Right on the money," Curry informed him. "Here comes the dance company's manager now, lookin' mad as a peeled rattler."

The Russian burst into the room, deluging them with impassioned speech in his native tongue.

"Whoa there, in English, Mr. Dukovsky. English," Heyes reminded the gentleman.

"I beg your pardon. I am so overwrought I do not know how I am speaking. We have been robbed! The safe in the office the town was kind enough to lend us is standing wide open. All our box office receipts from San Francisco and here, all our traveling money, all gone! What are we to do?" He cast out his arms to them in a heartfelt plea.

"We're real sorry to hear that, Mr. Dukovsky. Real sorry," the Kid commiserated.

"The sheriff -- he is not here?" Mr. Dukovsky asked them.

"No, he had to go after some thieves." The Kid paused as if considering. "I wonder… Joshua, do you suppose...?"

"I wouldn't be at all surprised, Thaddeus," Heyes replied. "Mr. Dukovsky, they may be the same thieves who robbed you!"

"Yes, yes, if there are thieves at large, we must question them. Who are these thieves?" the Russian inquired.

"Why, the train robbers who claimed to be Heyes and Curry," Heyes revealed. "We're federal lawmen investigating them and they're not who they say they are. I recommend we search their room at the hotel."

"Let us do so at once!" Dukovsky proclaimed and bounded out the door. Heyes and Curry hurried to keep up. For a large man, Dukovsky moved with surprising agility.

The three men charged into the hotel and swept the desk clerk up in their quest, in spite of his evident confusion.

"Treasury agents? But, Mr. Smith... I mean, Mr. Hotchkiss..."

"No, he's Hotchkiss, I'm Rembacker," Heyes corrected him. "Never mind that now. We'll straighten everything out later. The important thing is to waste no time solving this crime. You don't want it to get about that the hotel was harboring thieves."

"No, that is, we knew they were thieves, that is... oh dear." He found it easier to simply give in.

The search didn't take long. The Kid hadn't made the hiding place very difficult to find.

"It's all here," Dukovsky announced in relief upon counting the money. "I thank you from my heart for your assistance."

"Just doing our job," Heyes said modestly. "I think we should go wait for the sheriff to return so we can make a full report."

They all trooped back over to the office where they didn't have long to wait. The sheriff and his deputies arrived with a very disgruntled Loring and Cavanaugh in tow. Upon seeing their erstwhile 'partners' in crime, they began to protest loudly.

"Them's the ones you really want, Sheriff," Loring insisted. "That's the real Curry and Heyes."

"Now, if I had to choose which pair of you's been giving me information that paid off and which has been handing me a pack of lies, I know who I'd believe. These men ain't outlaws, they're federal agents."

The sheriff had found everything going exactly as Heyes had described it to him, and so had no reason to doubt the rest of his story.

One of the deputies pointed out, "Judging by that one's shootin', he ain't Kid Curry nohow, so we know that much is a lie."

Cavanaugh just scowled. Curry smiled at him grimly.

"Now shut up and get in that cell before we make you sorrier than you already are you tried to pull your jobs in my town."

The sheriff closed the cell door with a satisfying clang and turned the key. The ballet company manager and the desk clerk now vied with each other in telling their story to the sheriff. He impatiently drew the facts from the hodgepodge they were giving him.

"We'll leave it to the court to settle it all," he commented, shaking his head over the fuss this whole mess was going to cause. "There'll be a whole string of charges and they'll likely verify their identities at the same time. I'm afraid it may take awhile to do all that. If you want to add your charges to the list, you'll need to wait around and testify at the trial."

"Wait here? Impossible," objected the Russian. "We have tour dates to keep. We've already been delayed as long as we can afford. We must leave on the train when it is ready."

"Well, like I said, they'll have plenty of charges to face. There's at least three train robberies we know of besides tonight's attempt. If you're willin', I expect we can drop your charges without any harm done," the sheriff said.

"We have our money back. That is acceptable," Dukovsky agreed, "as long as I know they will be punished."

"Oh, I can guarantee they'll get put away for a long, long time,” the sheriff prophesied.

While the sheriff and Dukovsky were working all this out, Heyes and Curry stepped closer to the cell to have a last word with Loring and Cavanaugh.

"You were warned about stealin' those names. You shoulda listened," Curry informed them.

"You boys know your Shakespeare?" Heyes asked the despondent crooks.

"Huh?" They knitted their brows as if they'd never heard the name.

“‘Who steals my purse, steals trash. But he who filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed,’” Heyes quoted.

Their blank looks didn't change.

"Never mind," Heyes comforted them. “I expect you’ll have plenty of time to study up on it in prison."

It took just another day's time to finish clearing the tracks so the train could resume its interrupted journey. The ballet company and the silver were both headed safely for Denver. At least as safely as they could be with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry also on board. The real Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry this time.

They had disposed of their horses and bought train tickets, deciding to treat themselves to traveling in some comfort after all their trouble. The presence of the dancers was an added incentive. The Kid in particular did not object to carrying on his flirtations for a while longer.

"To think the so romantic and famous western outlaws were no more than common criminals!" Miss Marishkova was vastly disappointed. "Our experience here is not a match for the Grand Duke's."

"But you still had the adventure of the train robbery," the Kid pointed out to her. "And you've got a lot of the west yet to cover. Who knows what might still happen?"

"That is true." She brightened considerably. "It is even possible we may yet meet the real Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry."

"I wouldn't count on it," said the Kid. "Desperadoes like that probably stick pretty close to their hideout."

"Oh, I don't know. Remember, Talya, this is the American west," Heyes renewed her hope. "Where anything can happen."

"Even meeting famous American outlaws?"

"Who knows? Anything is possible." Heyes smiled. "But you may have to settle for getting to know ordinary American citizens like me and Thaddeus."

"That would not be so very bad," Talya admitted. "Still I confess it would be so much more exciting if you were outlaws."

"I hate to disappoint a lady," the Kid said. "Shall we hold up the train for you?"

Talya laughed. "You are such a one for teasing. As if you would even know how to begin. "

"She's got you there, Thaddeus. Guess we'll just have to stick to locking up the outlaws instead of joining them."

Talya patted Heyes' hand. "Do not feel bad. You would not make good outlaws. You do not look desperate enough. You are much too handsome."

Heyes and Curry happily abandoned all thoughts of outlawing and settled down to the much more serious business of flirting.

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