Monday, April 25, 2011

Evangeline ~ A Hannibal Heyes Love Story Chapter 1

He couldn't believe it. He just couldn't believe it. He, Hannibal Heyes, had just lost a coin toss to Kid Curry. Never in their long years of friendship and outlawing had he ever lost a coin toss to his fast drawing friend. Now, he had used a trick coin on a couple of those occasions but mostly he used a regular coin and relied on his own uncanny good luck to bring about the desired outcome. But today he had lost.

"Well, Heyes, there's a first time for everything! WOO HOOO!!" The Kid was practically dancing a jig in the street of Roswell, New Mexico to celebrate his victory.

Heyes stood there with a confused look on his face, still not able to believe it. He looked back and forth from the coin facing tails up on the back of his hand to his friend, still dancing in the street. "Yeah, it's too bad that Briggs isn't around today, he'd be real happy with that jig your dancing." 

Kid stopped and frowned at the mention of the old foe he'd had to put in his place those few months ago. But then a smile crossed his face and his blue eyes twinkled as he knew his lifelong friend and partner was just a little miffed at having been bested on a coin toss. "Now, Heyes," Kid said as he slapped his partner on the shoulder, "don't let it eat at ya. Maybe you're just losin' your touch in your old age. Or maybe my luck is changin'. Either way, I'm escorting Big Mac's property on the train, while you will have ' a 10 day ride to the middle of nowhere on horseback, through wild and hostile country.' I believe that's how Big Mac put it anyway." 

The Big Mac he spoke of was their old friend Big Mac McCreedy. Mac had purchased several valuable pieces of art in San Francisco that were being delivered here to Roswell and he wanted one of the boys to see that the valuables were placed safely on the train and escorted to his home in Red Rock, while the other delivered the certificates of authenticity and the bills of sale to him personally. He was out in the wilderness of southwest Texas, where trains and stagecoaches didn't go and few people did. Apparently Mac had also purchased land out there for the sole purpose of selling it to the railroad at a ridiculous profit, and he was out there to meet with the railroad company. Heyes was to meet Mac in the small town of Alpine. Why he needed the documents delivered there neither of the boys knew, and they didn't really care. He was offering them $1,000 to complete both tasks. Heyes had been sure he would be the one riding on that train in comfort while the Kid had to ride out and meet Mac. But fate, as it turned out, had other plans.


She couldn't feel anything anymore. Her body had gone numb. Her mind too. She sat in a heap on the ground. Her eyes were open but saw nothing anymore. She could hear the movement around her. Knew they were still there, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered now. Everything she had, everything she knew and loved was gone. What would it feel like when she died? When they killed her? At least she hoped they would kill her. The alternative was to be taken away with them. That would be far worse than death. "Don't worry, no harm will come to you. I need you unblemished," he'd said to her. But she didn't believe it. She knew a fate worse than death awaited her. Somewhere in the distance she heard a shot ring out. This was it. She would feel it slug into her body any second and it would all be over. She closed her eyes and waited but it never came. Instead she felt the breeze of something as it fell swiftly to the ground beside her and then the spray of dust and debris that spattered her face and hair as it hit the ground with a thud. Then there was more gunfire and the sound of horses riding off fast. Then more gun shots. Why wasn't she dead? She would welcome the sweet release of it. But it never came. "God, please just let me die. Send an angel to take me away from here," was her last prayer before she fell into a dead faint.


Heyes had been in the saddle for three days. He had traveled by stage from Roswell to Carlsbad, while the Kid headed southwest on a three day train ride to Red Rock. From Carlsbad Heyes headed southeast toward Pecos, Texas on horseback. It had only taken him two days to reach Pecos, the first of the only two towns on the trail he was taking into southwest Texas. The second was the town of Alpine where he was to meet Mac. The route Heyes was taking into Alpine followed a trail that would move south with the Pecos river on the east and the Davis mountains on the west. Folks in these parts called it the Trans-Pecos. It was a desert caught between lush mountain forests and the rolling rapids of the river. There were plenty of creeks and branches coming out of the Pecos, which stretched all the way to the southwest Texas border where it connected to the Rio Grande. So he planned to follow the course of the river to assure he and his horse had plenty of water for drinking and bathing. And the shade of the trees that grew along its banks would provide shade when the heat of the day got too hot. He was now descending the last part of a small mountain range that marked the beginning of the Davis Mountains. It had taken him a whole day to cross it.
It had been a dangerous trail over that mountain, but he'd gotten a fresh horse back in Pecos and it was a good sturdy chestnut stallion that had handled the trail with ease. He hadn't encountered a single person since he'd left Pecos. That was a good thing. One thing Hannibal Heyes had learned in the last few years, if you were a wanted man, sometimes it was best to be alone. Especially if the word "wanted" was followed by the words "DEAD OR ALIVE." He had another three days ride to get to Alpine and then another two days ride northwest to Buckton where he'd take a stage to Mac's ranch which was near Fort Hancock on the Mexican border. The Kid would be waiting there for him. It would be a long lonely ride, and he wondered what the Kid was doing about now. Enjoying a cigar in the gentlemen's car? Or flirting with a pretty lady that was aboard the train? Probably the latter he decided as he smiled to himself. If there was a pretty lady within 10 miles, Kid always found her, or she seemed to find him. The Kid would be arriving in Red Rock this evening. Heyes had conceded his loss of the coin toss with great sportsmanship and was now sort of glad he'd lost. He was enjoying the beautiful scenery and the absence of sheriffs and marshalls for a while. He'd bought a couple of dime novels back in town and was looking forward to some peaceful nights of reading by the campfire. He was almost to the end of the mountain trail. He could tell by the change in the terrain and the temperature. It was getting warmer, and the ground flatter. Even though it was late September it was still west Texas and that meant hot. When he rounded the last ridge, he saw in front of him a breathtaking valley that stretched out for several miles and was about a quarter of a mile wide, with dense pine forest coming down off the mountain on either side to the north and south. He stopped for a moment to enjoy the beauty of this place. He took in a deep breath. Ah, fresh air, wildflower, pine... and.... what was that other smell.....was it fried chicken? Someone must be camped in the valley. Maybe he was going to meet up with some folks after all. He descended further down and around the last outcropping of rocks very slowly and cautiously. The campsite came into view several hundred yards away. What he saw made him gasp.


Hannibal Heyes had witnessed a lot in his 29 years. Especially when half of those years had been spent among thieves and outlaws of all sorts. But what he witnessed now was gruesome and just plain wrong. Forget what he had said about being glad he was out here alone. If he ever needed the speed and accuracy of his gunslinging partner, it was now. Heyes took in the scene from the cover of some fallen boulders. There was a campsite down there and there was something cooking over the rock enclosed fire. One man was crouched near that fire stuffing the contents of the frying pan into his face. Another man was busy pilfering through the contents of a covered wagon, tossing things out onto the ground. A third man was rutting on top of a screaming fighting woman. Heyes slowly and quietly dismounted and lead his horse into the cover of the dense forest and crept closer to the scene. He was horrified. Two men, one which didn't appear to be more than 12 or 13 years old, not a man then but a boy, were tied to the wheels of the wagon. The boy was unconscious or dead. The man was going in and out of consciousness, both their faces bloody mangled messes. The woman was slowly losing her will to fight as she unsuccessfully struggled with the much stronger man who was having his way with her. Then he saw the girl.

 She was sitting in a heap at the feet of a tall skinny man. He was talking to her but he was too far away to hear what he said. Heyes was struck momentarily by the outlandish clothes the man was wearing. He had on what appeared to be a circus ring master's outfit. Striped pants, ruffled shirt, faded purple top coat and tails, all in bad need of washing. He even sported a tattered top hat. Heyes filed that information in the back of his keen mind and continued with his assessment of the situation. The girl seemed to be in a daze. Shock no doubt. "Well, Kid, if you were here you would have already unloaded two full loads on 'em and been looking for a nice place to burn the bodies," Heyes thought to himself. But he was always the cautious one. Thinking things out before he acted. But what was there to think about? He had two choices. He could wait them out, just stay hidden until they had tired of their "fun," and then go see if there were survivors, or he could start shooting from the cover of the trees and maybe save some body's life. And maybe get himself killed in the process. It looked like only two of them had guns. But still it was four against one and he didn't like those odds. Never bet on a long shot. That was the Hannibal Heyes philosophy. And he didn't have the Kid here to back him up. "What would you do, Kid, if you were in my boots?" he thought to himself. He knew what the Kid would do. But he wasn't Jedediah Curry. He was Hannibal Heyes. He had never killed a man in his life. Didn't believe in killing. But what was he doing to those people down there if he didn't do something. He was killing them wasn't he. And with that in mind he headed back to the outcropping of rocks he'd passed at the base of the mountain. 

From here he could pick them off from above before they could figure out where he was. He was no Kid Curry with a gun, but he darn sure could hit a sitting duck and that's what they all were. They were off guard and he was in close enough range to be accurate. With his Smith and Wesson loaded and ready he climbed onto the top of a flat boulder, lay on his belly, and aimed. He knew he had to take out the two with guns first but he only saw one of them. The other was still in the covered wagon. But he knew he was running out of time or these people were goners. His nimble mind made out the plan and in seconds his body was putting it into action. The first shot plugged the visible gunman, who was stuffing his face with food, in his shooting arm. The one defiling the woman jumped up and turned toward the gunfire. Heyes caught him in the leg. Then the second gunman appeared and jumped out of the wagon, and seeing where the gunfire was coming from, aimed his rifle in Heyes' direction and fired. Heyes kept his head down and waited for the gunman's rifle to empty, reloading while he waited. When the volley of gunfire ended he took aim again and shot the gunman. His aim was too high. He had meant to shoot him in the shoulder but he caught the bandit in the neck. He fell to the ground with a thud and raised a cloud of dust and debris. By now the remaining wounded villains and the tall skinny one were speeding east on horseback. He quickly aimed and squeezed the trigger emptying the last five rounds.


How quickly things changed. How much time had passed since he had been daydreaming about a quiet night of reading by the fireside? Ten, maybe fifteen minutes. And in those few minutes his situation and his life had changed. All his senses were on full alert as he slowly and cautiously rode into the campsite, his reloaded gun drawn and ready. He dismounted to begin the unwanted task of checking the victims for signs of life. First he collected the fallen gunman's rifle, and gave him a quick check, and just as he'd thought... he was dead. His jugular severed by the bullet. He had killed a man. He'd have to process that later. Right now he had other things to worry about. He checked the boy first. He was dead. Blood had run from his ears, nose and mouth and stained his shirt completely red. He'd been beaten to death. The man also was gone. He'd been dealt a crushing blow to the head from the butt of a rifle. He was moving to check the girl when he heard the woman moan. He ran to her and dropped down beside her. He gently held her face in his hands. 

"Ma'am, can you hear me?"

Her eyes opened slightly, "Where are my children?" Her voice was weak and raspy. She had been choked with a strip of rawhide from the look of the marks on her neck. A gurgling noise came up from her throat and then she began to cough and spit up blood. Her wind pipe had been crushed. Her skirts were pushed up around her waist, her bloomers were ripped, tattered and bloody. Heyes could tell from the condition of her lower body she had been repeatedly abused by these ruthless bastards. She was bleeding to death. He pulled her skirts down to cover her.

"They're here ma'am. They're fine," he lied. 

She tried to rise to a sitting position but the task proved too much for her tortured body and she slumped back to the ground. Heyes grabbed a blanket that had been thrown out of the wagon and folded it into a pillow to place under her head. There was fear in her eyes as they darted back and forth in search of something. 

"Don't worry about those cut throats, ma'am. They hightailed it out of here. They won't be back."

 Again she tried to speak only to choke on a mouthful of blood. "Don't try to speak," he said.

But she had to speak, she had to try. With a gurgled sputter she uttered her last words to Hannibal Heyes. "Please take care of my children," she managed to choke out. But it was in her eyes he could see all that she was unable to say. 

"I promise," he told her. 

With a final look from her blue eyes she silently mouthed the words "thank you" and died.

He rose slowly feeling a little numb. Had he saved any of them? Three of them were dead and he was almost afraid to check on the girl. He took a deep breath and walked toward her. He couldn't see her face hidden behind her tangled mass of hair, and he was afraid that maybe he didn't want to. If they had done to her the things they had done to the others.....he didn't even finish that thought. Instead he lowered his head to her breast and listened for a heart beat. And there it was...steady and strong. SHE WAS ALIVE!!! Immediately he began shoving the mass of hair from her face. There wasn't a mark on her face or neck. He pulled up her skirts, checking everywhere for signs of trauma or injury. There was none. She still had on her lily white bloomers. She had fainted. He hadn't realized he was holding his breath until he heard the air escape his own lungs. He had saved one of them. And those heathens hadn't had a chance to take turns with her yet. Now he had some big decisions to make. And a promise to keep. "Well, Kid, I hope you're a patient man, cause I'm gonna be late meetin' ya at Red Rock."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Before I post the first chapter of my story I feel compelled to  say a few things first.   Most importantly I want to thank Peter Deuel for being the wonderful person and the gifted actor that he was.  Without his genius and magnificent character, Hannibal Heyes, I would have no story.  So, thank you, Peter.  You will forever remain the love of my life, even though I was only 4 years old when you left this world.

Second I would just like to say that it is a very difficult thing to share a story you have authored with any one else.  It is such a personal and intimate thing.  It's like putting your deepest secrets and fantasies out there for everyone to read.  I never realized what a hard job novelist have. To have something that your mind and spirit have labored  over and given birth to, be exposed for the world to see and criticize is not an easy thing to do.  But if it is not shared then no one can see its beauty either. 

Third,  I would just like to say that this is my first attempt at writing anything.  I am not a writer.  I am just a fan.  I love these characters and because of the untimely and tragic death of Peter, I (like many other fans I'm sure) feel that I was cheated somehow out of so many more stories.  I want more.  And so it is left to us, the fans, to continue the stories.  My hats off to the many talented fan fiction authors out there whose stories I have read.  You all amaze me.  I hope my story turns out half as good.  I have been working on it for about six months and it is becoming quite long.  But it had to be long in order to tell the complete story and give my characters time to develop.  I just hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it (and am still writing).  Again I would like to say that I am not a writer and this is all new to me.  I am just a fan with a story I want to share. 

And last, I would like to encourage you to listen to the soundtrack music I have picked for the story.  Many of the events in the story bring to mind a song.  And I will add the title of the song and a web address where you can go to YouTube and watch a video of the song.  And please keep in mind that while this is an AS&J fanfic, it is a romance. So the music is somewhat romantic as well.

I look forward to your comments.
 God's blessings and much love to you all,  Karen.

P.S.  Before you read chapter 1, please read the prologue.  You can find it in the March archives.