Alias Smith and Jones Stories

Fanfiction for classic television series Alias Smith and Jones

Bank Job



            "This isn't a bank, it's a fortress," said Heyes, and Kid nodded glumly. They gazed at the narrow, barred windows, the door thick with bolts and bars, and the high stone walls. The bank was solid as a brick.


            They walked slowly up the marble steps, looking the entrance over with a professional air. Kid scrutinized the windows, and eyed the nearby buildings; Heyes carefully read the serial numbers on the locks, nodding to himself with pursed lips, while Kid fingered the gun in his holster, and tapped a nervous foot. Finally Heyes turned and gave the door a resounding slap. "There, see, built like a fort, Thaddeus, the latest thing in locks and bolts. What better place to keep our money than in a good safe bank?"


            "Heyes, this has got to be your stupidest idea yet," grumbled Kid. "Whoever heard of bank robbers putting money into a bank?"


            "We're not bank robbers any more, Kid, try to get that through your head." Heyes glanced warily over his shoulder. "Respectable, law-abiding citizens don't go around burying their money under rocks. They put it in the bank."


            "But why? A rock's just as good. Probably safer."


            "Because," said Heyes patiently, "We can telegraph to a bank for funds when we need to, and they'll wire us a cash order. Can't do that with a rock. How many more times do you want to have this conversation?"


            "I still don't like it," growled Kid, but Heyes ignored him, and went back down the steps. "Now where you going?" Kid inquired.


            "I'm just checking the back," Heyes said briskly, striding down the alley along the side of the building.


            "Checking the back?" repeated Kid, following him. "For what, coyotes? I thought we were law-abiding citizens. You didn't tell me we'd have to shoot our way out the back after making the deposit."


            Heyes grinned, and looked a little ashamed. "You're right," he said. "Sorry, habit." He couldn't help throwing a professional glance at the back door before he turned to follow Kid to the entrance.


            Their footsteps echoed on the polished floor, as they gazed at the murals and goldwork, and peered up at the high ceiling that was supported by tall pillars. Heyes had to admit to himself that it did feel a bit odd to be entering such an obviously profitable establishment with strictly peaceable intentions.


            "Well, go on, you're the expert," Kid nudged him. "What do we do next? Pull our guns and shout 'Hands up, we're making a deposit?’"


            "Oh, shut up," said Heyes, and strode over to the teller's cage with a confident step. He hastily prepared a story in case the man behind the counter asked him to account for the five hundred dollars they'd won playing poker, but the bored teller didn't bat an eye, just gave him some forms to sign. He conscientiously read all the fine print on the paperwork, then signed "Joshua Smith" in four or five places, as Kid fidgeted and sighed behind him. Heyes was just opening his mouth to say, "Well, that's that!" when a harsh bellow broke into the genteel hum of voices: "Hands up! This is a hold-up!"


            He couldn't believe his ears. His first thought was to spin around and snarl at Kid to shut up, but Kid was staring at the door of the bank with mouth agape. In the doorway stood five men with drawn guns.


            "No," Kid groaned. "This can't be happening. I don't believe it." The customers raised trembling hands. A woman screamed. The tellers bunched together, sheep-like, as the gang strode through the door.


            Heyes realized his own mouth was open as wide as Kid's, and shut it hastily.      He gave Kid a shove, and they mingled with the pale townsfolk as the outlaws herded them into the center of the room. One of the outlaws, a youngster of eighteen or so, went behind all the men who wore gunbelts and collected their weapons. "Everybody just stand there with their hands up and no one gets hurt!" shouted a heavyset man who appeared to be the leader of the gang. Behind him a tall, bearded outlaw with a huge shotgun waved the weapon back and forth under the noses of the terrified citizens.


            "That guy's an amateur," Kid whispered to Heyes. "He's waving that gun around all over the place, he ought to get the drop on one person and hold it steady. Ought to make every one lie down, too."


            "Well, why don't you offer him a word of helpful advice," Heyes muttered. "I'll bet he doesn't realize he's being watched by a professional." 


            "Shut up," said Kid. "I just hate to see things being done wrong, that's all."


            "They got the time right," murmured Heyes. "Four o'clock, just before closing time. And it's a Friday, they've got the week's payrolls all together. I should have known to stay out of a bank on a Friday afternoon."


            "You should have known to stay out of a bank, period," Kid growled.


            Two of the outlaws went behind the counter and started grabbing up bills and stacks of coins. The others watched eagerly, their eyes wide as the men stuffed hundred dollar bills by the handfuls into the canvas sacks.


            One of the tellers made a bolt for the door, but the man with the shotgun saw him and immediately swung the big gun in his direction. "Don't, you idiot!" yelled Kid, taking a step forward, but Heyes grabbed his partner's arm and pulled him back. The outlaw took hasty aim, and a deafening roar reverberated around the walls of the bank. The fleeing man fell, his head shattered.


            Bank robbers and civilians both stood frozen, in a moment of horror that seemed to engulf them all. The echoes of the shot died away, and silence filled the room. All eyes were fixed on the blood that spread in an ever-widening circle. 


            The gang leader cursed, and tried to wrest the gun away. All of the women began to scream in unison. A gray-haired woman put her hands over her face, and backed up, trembling, tripped and fell, then scrambled to her feet, and ran screaming for the door. All faces turned towards her, and the  outlaw leader dragged the gun from his holster and took aim at her back. 


            Kid ripped his arm free from Heyes’ grasp, and made a dive for the gun. Heyes' shout of "No!" and the gunshot echoed together. The woman sprawled headlong, a red hole in the back of her calico dress. And the outlaw whirled, panic on his face, and fired another shot. Kid spun around with hands pressed to his side, crashed heavily into the marble counter, and fell to the floor.


            All the townsfolk were shouting now, but Heyes was silent. He ran and bent over his partner, shaking him roughly by the shoulder, but Kid didn’t move. Forgetting the chaos all around him, Heyes started to look for the wound, but suddenly he felt himself pulled violently backwards. He tore himself free and swung a fist at the closest face, but something hard cracked him on the head from behind. Dazed, he felt himself slammed against one of the pillars. His hands were yanked behind his back.


            He shook his head painfully, leaning against the cold stone. When his vision cleared, he saw Kid still lying where he had fallen. Heyes strained at the rope that tied him to the pillar, but he couldn't get free. "Kid!" he shouted, not caring who heard him. "Kid, answer me! Kid!" But there was no answer.


            Desperate, he looked around. The outlaws were engaged in heated argument, yelling at each other. The townsfolk were huddled together, the men with their hands still raised high, the women weeping. Heyes shouted to them, "Help! Somebody come over here, help him! Come on! Damn you, somebody help him!"


            But the townsfolk looked at him with white, pinched faces, then looked away, refusing to meet his eyes. A woman in a silk dress turned her back and sank to the ground in a heap. The others stood shaking. The outlaw leader glanced over and snarled, “You all stay where you are, don't nobody move." Then he went back to arguing with his men, debating whether they should make a break for it now or wait till darkness. Voices from the street outside showed that the shots had been heard, and there was no time to lose. Heyes looked back at Kid and watched as a small pool of red slowly formed on the floor beside his body.


            Heyes twisted and strained at the rope till his hands were numb, and he could feel the sticky wetness of blood on his wrists. Finally he stopped and leaned his head back against the pillar, panting. He tried to see if Kid was breathing, but Kid was lying face down a few feet away, and it was impossible to see if his chest was moving under the heavy sheepskin jacket. He could just glimpse Kid’s face, dead white, eyes closed. Heyes watched him for a long time, then sank down to sit on the floor, his hands still bound to the pillar behind him.


            The noisy argument among the outlaws was still going on, but it was interrupted by three shots fired outside. The robbers fell silent, looking around uneasily. Then a voice from outside shouted, “Hey, you, in the bank! This is the sheriff. What the hell’s going on in there?”


            The outlaw leader ran to the window and stood beside it, his back pressed to the wall. “We’ve got hostages in here!” he shouted. “There are ten of us, and we’ve got hostages! You let us go with the money, or we’ll kill’em all!”


            “Well, there’s fifty of us,” shouted the voice. “And you’re not going anywhere! Come out with your hands up! And if every single person in that bank isn’t perfectly fine, we’ll hang the whole lot of you!”


            Heyes listened to all this with horror. At any other time, this dialog might have struck him as hilarious, or annoying. Like Kid, he hated to see a really lucrative bank job hopelessly bungled. Now, with so many lives riding on the outcome of this stand-off, he was terrified. The outlaws, amateurs as Kid had pointed out, were similarly petrified, and stood arguing in furious whispers. “Well?” the sheriff shouted. “What’s your answer? You coming out peaceable? Or are we going to blast our way in?”


            “Blast your way in?” hollered the leader. “Blast your way in here? Take more’n fifty men to do that! This place is built like a fort, and we can hold it for a long time!” Heyes looked around at the dim interior, the narrow windows, the stone walls. Built like a fort, all right. It would take a posse a long time to shoot their way in. A lot of bullets would fly around the room.


            The gang was still debating what to do. The citizens, one by one, sank down to sit on the ground in a miserable huddle. Heyes eyed both groups with hatred.


            The youngest outlaw, a tall, lanky youth with a shock of red hair, was urging that they make a run for it. “I’m the boss here,” snarled the heavyset man.


            “So what?” said the outlaw with the shotgun. “The hell with waiting, Snyder, let’s go now. I’ll blast us a way out.” He brandished the huge weapon.


            “Put that thing down, Anderson, you’ve already got us into enough trouble,” said the thin boy. “Why the hell did you start shooting? You’ll swing for sure.”


            “We’ll all swing, if they catch us,” Snyder said. “That’s why we’re gonna wait till midnight and bust our way out in the dark.”


            Heyes decided it was time to get in the game. “Too bad it’s a full moon tonight, fellas,” he called over. “It’ll be bright as day out there right about midnight.” They turned and stared at him.


            “See?” the youngster said. “I tell you, we gotta go now!”


            “Are you crazy? There’s fifty men out there.” Snyder turned his back.


            “There aren’t fifty men now, they couldn’t possibly be that organized yet,” said Heyes.  “But there will be soon. They’re sending the word out right now. You haven’t got any time to waste, you stupid fools.”


            “Shut up,” said the leader. Heyes watched the man with narrowed eyes, memorizing his face.


            “No, let him talk, Snyder, he’s making sense,” said Anderson.


            “If you shoot that elephant gun out the front door a couple of times as a diversion, and then head out the back, you just might make it,” said Heyes. “But you’ve gotta go now, while it’s dusk, before moonrise.” 


            “Makes sense,” said the youngster. 


            “Shut up!” said Snyder, shoving him aside. He strode over to Heyes, drawing his gun. “You stop shooting off your mouth, you hear? What do you know about posses and bank robbing anyway, you sodbustin’ farmer? Who do you think you are?”


            Heyes struggled to his feet, leaning against the pillar, and gazed Snyder’s low-browed, unshaven face. “I’m Hannibal Heyes,” he said quietly.


            There was a silence. The outlaws as well as the townsfolk stared at him, like an exhibit in a zoo. Snyder blinked uneasily, then laughed. “Oh, sure, Hannibal Heyes, of course. And I’m Billy the Kid.” He jerked his thumb at the floor. “Who’s that, Kid Curry?”


            Heyes looked down at the still figure. “That’s right,” he said.


            “Oh, sure, the fastest gun in the west,” said Snyder, giving Kid a kick in the ribs. Heyes clenched his fists in fury, and shouted, “You stupid bastard! You’re gonna get all your men killed, not just yourself, you hear me?”


            Snyder approached slowly, murder in his face. He pushed his gun against the side of Heyes’s head. Heyes closed his eyes as he heard the click of the hammer drawn back. Snyder's voice hissed in his ear, and he could feel the man’s breath. “You say one more word, and you’re a dead man.  You got that? One more word.” The gun was withdrawn and Heyes started to breathe again. He opened his eyes and sagged against the pillar as he heard Snyder’s footsteps receding. So much for the silver tongue, he thought.


            The light from the tall windows faded as the afternoon crawled by. Shadows filled the corners and hid the high ceiling. Shouts and hoofbeats sounded outside the windows from time to time, and the red light of torches flickered on the glass. The hostages were a silent huddle in the middle of the big space. The outlaws paced back and forth, occasionally peering out windows and muttering together. Fear filled the room in an almost visible fog.


Heyes stared at the still figure on the floor, seeking any sign of movement, listening for a breath. He found himself murmuring “Please... please...” but had no idea whom he was addressing.  He couldn’t imagine a god who would take enough interest in the affairs of two bank robbers to intervene in this hopeless mess. “Get it through your head, we’re not bank robbers any more,” he said angrily to whoever might be listening. “He didn’t get shot robbing a bank, he was hurt trying to save that stupid woman. Please...” The shadows slowly flowed outward from the corners, filling the room like dark water. Heyes watched as the slow time passed, trying to beat back the feeling that he would lose Kid forever, once the rising tide of blackness washed him away.




            Red glare from lanterns and torches outside gave the bank a fitful light, and Heyes caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. He shifted his position cautiously, sliding the rope around the pillar, to see what it was. A shadowy figure was creeping behind the tellers' cages, head ducked low so as not to be seen from the other side. From the long thin legs, Heyes guessed it was the young bank robber. He couldn't see the face, but the tense figure and stealthy movement made him watch intently. The thick outline of Snyder stood on the other side of the counter, his back turned as he stared towards the door.


            The youngster straightened up silently and raised his gun. Heyes saw him silhouetted sharply against the window, and instinctively opened his mouth to shout a warning, but caught himself and smiled. He reflected with satisfaction that after all it had been Snyder himself who had ordered him not to say another word. Heyes watched quietly as the young man took a deep breath, aimed carefully, and pulled the trigger. He didn't even blink as the bullet crashed through Snyder's head.  One down, Kid, he thought.


            The cluster of townsfolk started shrieking again, men as well as women. Heyes glanced at them with contempt, wishing they would shut up so he could follow the outlaws' conversation.  Outside the sheriff was shouting threats, but his words were drowned by the outcry. When the noise from the citizens finally died down, the outlaws were still hurling abuse at one another. One stormed up to the boy and started to take a swing at him, but Anderson raised his gun and shot the man in the chest. Heyes nodded, his eyes gleaming, as the man crashed to the ground. Two down, he thought.


            "You boys keep this up, you can kill each other off, and that'll be the end of my problems," he called, grinning. The remaining outlaws all turned their guns towards him, but Heyes continued cheerfully. "Too bad you boys didn't plan an alternate escape route."


            "A what?" growled Anderson, lowering the shotgun. "You got anything to say, say it."


            "An alternate route," Heyes repeated, enunciating clearly as though talking to a child. "That means another way out. That alley off the back is perfect, they'll never see you."


            "What alley?" said Anderson sullenly.


            "Didn't you check the back exit?" Heyes demanded, raising his brows. The men looked at each other uneasily as he shook his head. "I can't believe it. It's the mark of a professional to check all the exits." He sighed, and went on breezily. "Well, just go out the back door, it opens onto a sheltered porch, they'll never see you. Then climb over the rail and duck into the alleyway--it's only a few steps to the livery stable, and you can grab horses and ride out the back. But you've got to do it soon, the moon'll be up in an hour." The three eyed him with suspicion, then huddled to whisper together. Heyes observed them in silence, holding his breath.


            Finally the outlaws nodded to each other, then picked up the money bags and drew their guns. Heyes was professionally interested to see that they had decided to adopt his suggestion of creating a diversion out the front door before ducking out the back. He watched as Anderson approached the heavy door cautiously, and pulled back the bolts. Anderson suddenly kicked the door open, fired both barrels out the front, then all three raced for the back of the building. They vanished in the shadows, and silence filled the room.


            The townsfolk still cowered on the floor, afraid to move, but Heyes was grinning. He couldn't stop. Finally he laughed out loud, the sound ringing through the darkness until a sudden fusillade of shots and screams drowned his laughter.


            It was only a few minutes, though it seemed like years, before the sheriff strode in the open front door, followed by a crowd of men carrying torches and lanterns. They swirled around the bank like an angry swarm of bees, looking for more outlaws. Some helped the bank customers to their feet. A deputy cut the rope that tied Heyes to the pillar, then hurried off to assist the woman in the silk dress who was having hysterics, drumming her heels against the floor. 


            Heyes didn't waste a glance in her direction.  He tried to scramble to his feet, but his legs wouldn't seem to work properly, so he crawled on hands and knees to where Kid still lay motionless.


            “Kid?” Heyes said softly, knowing he wouldn’t answer. He reached out a hand that shook, and gently turned Kid over. Kid gave a low groan and moved his head. His eyes were closed, but he was breathing. 


            Heyes let out the breath he had been holding, and pulled Kid’s coat aside to examine the wound. His blue shirt was soaked with blood on the left side, and when Heyes ripped the cloth away he saw the bullet wound in Kid’s side, just above the belt. A livid bruise along the side of his face showed where the heavy fall into the marble counter had knocked him out. Heyes wasn’t aware that tears were running down his face till they fell on Kid’s bloodstained jacket. He scrubbed his shirt sleeve over his eyes impatiently, and started wiping blood off the wound with his bandanna.


            “Here, let me take a look, son,” said a pleasant voice, and a gray-haired man carrying a black doctor’s bag bent over them. He touched the bruise on Kid’s face, and peered into his eyes.


            “Are you a doctor?” asked Heyes.


            “Yes, I’m Doctor Smith,” said the man, checking Kid’s wrist for a pulse.


            “Smith?" said Heyes, feeling a little confused. "Really?" He sat down on the cold marble floor and leaned back against the counter, his head spinning. "How is he?”


            “He’s out cold, must have given his head a good whack, but I think he’ll be all right,” said the Doctor, probing Kid’s side with his fingers. “Doesn’t look like it’s too bad.”


            Heyes closed his eyes and leaned his head back. “Thank you,” he murmured.


            “Don’t thank me, haven’t done anything yet,” said the doctor, giving him a keen glance.  “You all right there, son?”


            “Sure, fine,” said Heyes. "I wasn't talking to you."         


            The doctor looked at him over gold-rimmed spectacles. “Looks like you got a whack on the head, too, boy. You're lucky to be alive, the way those outlaws were shooting up the place." He pulled a handful of linen from his bag, and bent over Kid again.


            "What a crazy bunch they were," the doctor went on, shaking his head. "Stupidest bank robbers I ever heard of. Shoot up a bunch of people, then hide in the bank just till the full moon rises, and then bust out the back door right into the open street. They were sitting ducks, sheriff and his boys couldn't miss them. Can't imagine what possessed the fools." He poked at the wound with a nasty-looking metal instrument. "That's in there pretty deep, but I think I can get it."


            He called over to the sheriff, who was talking with some of his men. “Give me a hand here, Jim, get some boys to carry this guy across the street to my office.” The doctor looked back at Heyes curiously. “You don’t live in town here, do you? You from one of the ranches down south, or are you just passing through?”


            “Oh, just passing through,” said Heyes casually, suppressing a desire to burst into hysterical laughter. It seemed so peculiar to be sitting on the bloodstained floor chatting politely like this, with dead bodies all around. “We’re not staying, we gotta move on. You see, we’re in search of a good safe rock.” 


            “A what?” said the doctor. “Come on over to the office, boy, I’ll take a look at you.” 


            “Okay,” said Heyes. He looked across at Kid, who was beginning to stir. “Like I said, thank you.”







 Author's note: This story is a companion-piece to the story called The Cell. In fact, they're really the same story--one of the partners in trouble, maybe dead, and the other one unable to get to him to render practical assistance, and forced to use his wits. I even used some of the same wording, on purpose, for both stories, but Heyes and Kid are such different characters that when their positions are reversed, the plots came out quite differently. 














Jail Break




Heyes clambered up the ladder to the attic, and paused on the top rung to listen. All was still. The attic smelled old and musty, and specks of dust floated in the bars of afternoon sun that slanted through the window.


“Kid?” he inquired in a cautious whisper. “Kid, you there?”




“Come on, Kid, it’s me.”


More silence. Heyes climbed all the way into the dim attic, and stood listening in the dusty air. Then he heard a muffled sob, and a sniff, and knew he had struck paydirt.


“You okay, Kid?” he asked.


“Go away, Heyes,” said Kid’s voice. Heyes looked in the direction of the voice, and located a huddled form behind some old trunks. He walked a few steps closer.


"I mean it," said Kid in a choked voice. "I'll flatten you if you don't go away." Heyes smiled, and sat down on the dusty floor.


From the stairs below he could hear the matron's voice. "Jedidiah! Hannibal!" she bellowed, over and over. "Where are you! I'll skin you alive when I catch you!" He grinned.  Matron was too fat to climb any ladders, so they were safe for a while. 


He listened to her shouting their names, and had the sense that she was calling for two strangers. He had detested his own baptismal name since he could remember, and had long ago extracted an oath from the Kid that he would never call him anything but Heyes.  In return, he had sworn never to call the Kid Jedidiah, which Kid detested equally.


"Minchin asked me where you'd gone," Heyes remarked after a while. "I told him you were in the cellar. He’ll spend a while down there looking for you, he'll get good and dirty."


"I'm not hiding from him, Heyes," Kid announced defiantly. He stood up from behind the trunks. "I'm not hidin' anymore, I God damn hope he finds me. In fact I'm gonna go find him. I'm gonna kill him, Heyes." 

          Heyes felt a chill at the hate in Kid's voice. He got to his feet, not sure how to calm Kid down this time. Kid stepped forward into the light, his face streaked with dirt and tears. Heyes stepped forward, unable for once to think of anything to say. 


Kid wiped a dirty sleeve over his dirty face, and turned his back. Heyes's eyes widened as he saw bloodstains on the back of Kid's thin shirt. Heyes clenched his fists and swore out loud, using all the words forbidden to a thirteen-year-old boy who lived at a Christian orphanage. It didn't make him feel any better. 


He approached Kid and put a tentative hand on his shoulder. He could feel Kid shaking with anger. Kid pulled away and dived back into the shadows, scrubbing at his face again with his sleeve.


Heyes walked over to the window and looked out, to give Kid time to calm down.  The branches of a gnarled oak came right up to the window, almost close enough to touch.  Outside it was getting dark; soon the bell would ring for supper and they would have to go downstairs, although their chances of getting any supper were slim. Old Minchin, hot and dusty from a fruitless trip to the cellar, would undoubtedly thrash them both.


"Come on, Kid," he said resignedly. "Let's go on down and get it over with, the longer we stay up here the harder they're gonna whip us."


"You go ahead, Heyes," Kid said calmly. He emerged from the shadows again, his face as clean of tears as it was possible for an eleven-year-old to make it, using only his shirttail. "I told you. I'm gonna wait for him to come up here and then I'm gonna kill him." Kid held a metal rod, part of an old trunk, and hefted it in a businesslike way that gave Heyes a chill. It certainly looked heavy enough to kill a man.


"Come on, Kid, you can't do that," he said nervously.


"Oh, yes, I can. Every time he beats me it's worse than the time before, Heyes, I ain't gonna wait around to see what the next one’s like."


"But..." Heyes stopped before he got started. He knew from experience that argument was useless when Kid got that mulish look in his eyes. His active imagination could envision the scene that was sure to follow once Minchin made his way up the ladder. And he would be coming up the ladder soon, Heyes was sure; Minchin hated all boys, but he especially detested Kid, and would hunt him down for another beating if it took all night.


Heyes wondered if Kid would really make good his threat. Something about the way the scrawny eleven-year-old held the weapon made Heyes pretty sure that if Minchin climbed up the ladder, he would never again climb down. He took a deep breath.   

            "All right," he said. "I guess you've got a point. He certainly needs killing." Looking around, he spotted a heavy wooden chair leg. He picked it up and hefted it as Kid had done.  "This'll do," he said.


Kid looked startled. "I told you, Heyes, go on down, I can take care of myself. Old Minchin likes you, as much as he likes anybody, he don't never hit you a lick, hardly. You stay out of trouble. This is between him and me."


"Nope," said Heyes. Their eyes met. Heyes wasn't sure where this was going to end up, but he knew he wasn't going to go down that ladder and leave Kid up here. 


They stared at each other, caught in a dead end. Stay upstairs or go down the ladder? Either way seemed sure to end in disaster.


Suddenly a thought came to him. What if they didn't do either one? What if they climbed out the window, jumped over to the tree, climbed down and never came back? He measured the distance with his eye; he was pretty sure they could do it. They frequently escaped out their second-story window for nocturnal trips to the swimming hole or the orchard, but this was five stories up. Still, it was worth a try. 


He grabbed Kid's arm and dragged him over to the window as he explained his plan.  Kid listened wide-eyed, then stared out the window as Heyes watched him soberly. Finally Kid said, "We always talked about running away from here, but not now. What are we gonna do? Who's gonna give two kids like us a job? How'll we eat? No, I like my idea better."


"What idea?"


"You go on downstairs, and I'll kill old Minchin."


Heyes grinned. "I suppose we could both kill him, and then climb out the window."


"Okay," said Kid. But he was starting to grin, too.


Heyes punched him lightly on the shoulder. "Come on, let's go," he said. "Minchin's not worth it."


"Okay," Kid said again.


The window was nailed and bolted shut, but they used Kid’s metal rod to pry it open.  Finally, after much heaving and banging, they got the bolts loose, and shoved the heavy window up in a rain of dust and dead spiders. They both stuck their heads out. The ground below seemed very far away.


“If we fall from up here, it’s no joke,” observed Kid.


Heyes nodded. “So who’s gonna go first?” he asked. 


“I dunno,” said Kid. 


“Maybe we should flip a coin or something.”


Kid snorted. “Who’s got a coin?”


“Good point,” Heyes admitted. They studied the tree, their eyes tracing possible routes.


“That branch-- the twisted one,” said Heyes. “One good jump and grab the branch¼


“No, the straight one on the other side--that one,” said Kid, pointing. “Better footing.” They argued about it for a while. 


“Tell you what,” said Heyes finally. “You take your branch and I’ll try mine, we’ll go at the same time. That’ll solve the coin problem.” 


“All right,” said Kid, taking a deep breath. “On three, then. One, two¼


“No, wait,” said Heyes.


“Now what?”


“We can’t just vanish like this. We gotta leave Old Minchin something to remember us by.” His eyes swept over the attic in search of raw material. Several old cans of paint, some rope, a broom...


They spent almost half an hour debating fine points of design. Finally their creation was ready. They stood back and looked it over with pride.


“Minchin’ll wish he never heard of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry,” said Kid with satisfaction, surveying the most thorough and impressive boobytrap they had ever engineered. 


“He’ll remember us,” agreed Heyes, grinning. “I almost wish we could stay to see it work.” 


“I don’t,” said Kid, his smile fading.  He looked at Heyes. “You sure you want to do this, Heyes? Once we do, there’s no goin’ back.”


“Shut up,” said Heyes. “Let’s go. Unless you want to chicken out.”


“Shut up,” Kid said.

            Heyes nodded. They turned to the open window.