Hannibal Heyes Plans Volume 2 (excerpt)
I dreamed of home again. Not the bad dream—a good one, when me and Jed were little. I could smell my mother’s cooking: cornbread, the best I’ve ever eaten. I was so hungry for it, but she said to go play. I wish I hadn’t, but in the dream it made sense to do that. I must’ve been quite small, because she looked very tall.
I wish I could remember seeing her face. The dream was so oddly clear in some aspects, so clouded in other.
I found Jed by the old woodpile. He was really little, wearing those grown-out-of clothes he used to have, curly headed and blond and serious. We went down to the stream and chucked rocks in, and we were just wading in to catch tadpoles when my mother called, “Jed! Han! Time to eat!” So we ran back to the house.
I could almost taste the cornbread when I woke up, and my face was all wet from crying. Sometimes the happiest memories can just break your heart.
I almost told Jed about the dream, but I couldn’t get the words out. I was afraid he’d get real sad if he started thinking about it. It was a real special dream, but I felt like I was walking around with my heart broke the rest of the day. Because I’d finally had a good dream about home. Because I didn’t see my mother’s face. And because that life is gone forever.
This entry consists of nothing but a hand-drawn, to-scale layout of a bank, with arrows and captions pointing out weak spots.
At the bottom, in bold, satisfied capital letters it says: BANK JOB COMPLETE DECEMBER 1.
I’ve been thinking what to get the Kid for Christmas. I know we’re too old now, but there were quite a few years when he missed out, because we couldn’t afford Christmas. Now we can and I’d like to get him something.
Only thing is, Kid would say he doesn’t need anything. He’s got a good gun, a belt, boots, a nice hat, and clothes that fit him. I guess he’d be right, he doesn’t need anything. But I’d like to get him something anyway.
Whiskey –already have it
Bullets – prosaic
New boots? – hard to buy for someone else
A box of candy –too old for that?
Most of the words were crossed out. ‘Candy’ had been circled several times in a firm hand, with the words, “He ain’t too old!” written near it. “And GOOD whiskey,” was scrawled next to that, with a doodle of a Christmas tree.
This entry contains a diagram of a train with an X for the safe and places marked out for each man of the team. There is part of a railway table copied down next to some calculations. At bottom it says “Dynamite, NOT nitro. Too dangerous on horseback, not to mention a moving train.”
Christmas is in three days. The bandages will be off by then. I got pretty banged up last week, when we were trying to rob the train.
Everybody made it on board but me and Kid. I was last, working on hopping on board when my horse stumbled. I tried to adjust but I leapt wrong—banged against the train and ricocheted off, back to the ground. My horse screamed and the train ratcheted away. I landed hard and felt thorns tearing at me.
“Heyes!” shouted Kid, and I opened my eyes just in time to see his horror-struck face, eyes wide and scared, before the train whisked him away.
He’d reached out to try to haul me aboard, before I fell. Just didn’t work out.
Well, I got some pretty bad bruises and got all ripped up from whatever that prickly tree was I landed in.
Next thing I knew, Kid jumped off the train and ran back to me, helped me get out of the tree. I told him he should’ve gone ahead with the robbery with Wheat and the rest, but I was real glad to see him. Didn’t think I could’ve caught my horse on my own.
When we got back to Devil’s Hole, I rested up. Kid washed out and bandaged my cuts.
I was sore for a while, but the plan went ahead okay without me or Kid. That’s probably not a good thing, because Wheat has been real uppity about it since, saying he’d be just as good a leader, maybe better because he don’t fall off his horse.
Then Kid gives him this mean, squinty-eyed look, and that shuts Wheat up for a while.
Today I broke down and told Kid about my dream.
I’d been thinking about it a lot lately, and I thought about it again when I fell from the train. I almost saw my mother’s face, then. I think maybe if I had seen it, she wouldn’t have looked too happy with me. Maybe it’s better I didn’t.
Kid didn’t say a lot when I told him. He looked real thoughtful and a little sad. “I remember your mother’s cornbread. I remember that stream too. But I can’t remember any of their faces.”
Doesn’t seem fair you can lose your memories of people you loved, after you’ve lost them, too.
Christmas went better than I could’ve hoped. Some of the men got into the spirit of it and cut down a tree.
We made popcorn and drank strong eggnog and ate pies and roast birds we’d paid some women in town to cook for us. There was some real good buttermilk cornbread, too, even if it wasn’t quite like my mother used to make.
It was a great meal, and we passed around some expensive cigars afterwards, and told each other tall tales.
I didn’t give Kid his gifts just yet, because I didn’t get anything for anybody else. It was hard enough picking out something he’d like, never mind Wheat or the rest! But you shouldn’t play favorites if you’re the leader, so I waited till later.
Kid was ready to go to bed, and I said, “You want to come in here a minute, Kid?” He followed me into my room, yawning, scratching at his head. I held out the gifts, and that woke him up.
He didn’t say much, just “Heyes…!” when he saw ‘em—a bunch of striped peppermints he used to like when he was little, a fancy bottle of whiskey, and a pair of silver spurs I found at the last minute. He didn’t say much, but he couldn’t stop grinning.
“Just a minute, I got something for you.” He came back smiling round his eyes and handed me a brown paper package. It was Shakespeare! Can you believe Kid bought me two brand new leather-bound volumes of Shakespeare?
It was a real nice Christmas.