Lom's Story would not have been made possible without ALL the encouraging words, suggestions, and comments from my writer friends – THANK YOU!
"So, does that conclude our business today, Sheriff Trevors?" asked Governor Warren, sitting behind his mahogany desk in his office in the mansion. This was his last appointment for the day and he was looking forward to the glass of imported brandy waiting for him.
"Well…" Lom hesitated, "there is one more very important item I would like to talk to you about."
"And what might that be?" he assumed this discussion would be quick as he sorted the papers on his desk.
"It is in regards to Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry."
The mentioning of these particular outlaws' names piqued Governor Warren's interest and he looked up from the task at hand. "Have you arrested them? Do you know where those nemeses are?"
"No…I mean, yes, sir."
"What is it, man; are they or are they not in custody?" Governor Warren dared to hope.
Lom sighed. "No, sir, they are not in custody, but yes, I do know where they are."
"Why, in heaven's name, are they not in custody, Sheriff Trevors?"
"They came to my office the other night; sir, they are interested in your amnesty program. They had an amnesty flyer with them and asked me to see if you would consider them for the program."
"Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry…amnesty?" the governor chuckled. "What nonsense! Why, that program was set up so I could concentrate on capturing notorious outlaws like them and not bother with petty lawbreakers."
"Please, sir, hear me out." Lom took a deep breath; he had to sound persuasive. "Heyes and Curry are offering to turn over a new leaf and become law-abiding citizens. It sure would look good for your administration if they were no longer robbing trains and banks. The railroad barons and bank presidents would be eternally grateful to you and in your debt."
"Do you believe them when they say they will stop robbing the good citizens of Wyoming?"
"I do, sir," Lom confidently answered.
"And why do you believe them?" he asked still skeptical. "They are nothing but lowdown scoundrels!"
"I have found that both are good for their word."
"Good for their word?!? Do you know these two outlaws, Sheriff Trevors?"
"Yes sir, in fact, I know them well." Lom hesitated for a moment. "You see, sir, I used to be a member of their gang."
"WHAT? You were an outlaw? Maybe you better explain yourself, Sheriff."
"It's a long story…"
"I don't care how long of a story it is. This I have to hear--one of my finest sheriffs an outlaw in the Devil's Hole Gang." Governor Warren shook his head in disbelief. "I think I'm going to need a brandy. Pour me a glass and help yourself to one."
Lom walked over to the table with a brandy decanter and glasses. He was about to pour the brandy when the governor stopped him.
"Wait a minute, Sheriff. Let's drink from this instead of that decanter," the governor said as he pulled a bottle of vintage brandy from the bottom desk drawer.
"Yes, sir," Lom smiled as he took the bottle and read the label. He poured two glasses of brandy, handed one to the governor, and got comfortable to tell the story. Lom took a sip and appreciated the quality of the brandy. "Well, it all started about six years ago just after Heyes took over the gang, after Jim Santana was arrested, and…"
* * * * *
Lom Trevors sat in the corner of the saloon feeling sorry for himself and downing a cheap bottle of whiskey. He was bitter and angry having just lost his family homestead to the railroad; they only gave him half the value of the land. Why did their rail line have to go through his land that he worked so hard on? How was he going to make a living for himself? He had a good reputation with a gun, but what good was that skill?
Lom noticed a group of six men enter the saloon looking very pleased with themselves. They ordered several bottles of the best whiskey and commenced in engaging the saloon girls and playing poker with large sums of money. The rumor going around the saloon was that these men were the notorious Devil's Hole Gang, who had just robbed a bank about 50 miles away. The gang did not fear the law in town; the current sheriff was plumb lazy and looked the other way as long as there was no trouble.
Lom watched the men with interest. One of the men was tall with a mustache, probably just a little younger than himself. He was hanging around one who was younger and chewing tobacco. Lom overheard them call each other Wheat and Kyle. Another one--someone just identified him as Hank--was going upstairs with Sally. A dark-haired man with crazy eyes was downing whiskey like there was no tomorrow…Lobo is how the bartender referred to him. The last two men really intrigued Lom. One of them had dark hair and eyes while the other looked very young with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Though they were the youngest in the group, they appeared to be the ones in charge. Lom guessed that these two must be the infamous outlaws Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry that he'd recently heard so much talk about.
The two men sipped their whiskey at the bar keeping an eye on their men as well as the other saloon patrons watching for trouble. Lom made eye contact with the blonde one and quickly averted his gaze, chilled by the ice-cold look in those steel-blue eyes. The two outlaws glanced at each other and then Heyes nodded to Curry, who disappeared upstairs with the lovely Fran. During the hour Curry was gone, Heyes stayed alert at the bar leisurely sipping his whiskey. When Kid came downstairs, he nursed his whiskey while Heyes joined a poker table he had been watching.
Kid noticed Lom in the corner of the room watching the gang and became uneasy. He walked over to Lom's table.
"Gotta problem?" he asked with his hand hovering above his gun's holster.
"Nope; no problem with you unless you're gonna draw on me." Lom had enough alcohol in him to not fear the young gunslinger.
"Why're you watchin' us then? Lookin' to cause trouble?" If looks could kill, Lom should be lying on the floor.
"No trouble. Just happens I lost my homestead to the railroad and I'm drowning my anger with this here bottle."
"Lost your home to the railroad, huh?" Kid asked. He admired the man for not cowering down to him.
"Yep; cheated me out of my land, just payin' half what it's worth."
Kid slightly shook his head. "They're robbin', too, and ya don't see no warrant for their arrest." He held out his hand, "Name's Curry. Mind if I sit and share my bottle with you? Beats that gut-wrenching stuff you're drinkin'; it ain't fit for nothin' but medicinal use."
"Appreciate that. Name's Lom Trevors," said Lom, offering his hand to the Kid.
"So what happened?" Kid asked as he sat down with his back to the wall and poured two glasses of his fine whiskey. He listened to Lom's story about the railroad stealing the land while at the same time keeping an eye on his partner and the rest of the saloon.
A few hours later, Heyes got up from the poker table, stretched, and walked over to the corner table. "Kid?"
"Heyes, this here's Lom Trevors. Railroad just robbed him of his land."
Heyes offered his hand to Lom. "Sorry to hear about that. Damn railroad thinks it can just go where it wants with no thought to the small landowner. They run over those in their way." Heyes took a glass from one of the girls, sat down and poured himself a drink from the bottle. "What are you gonna do now?"
"Don't rightly know. Don't have enough money to buy me more land worth farmin'. I can shoot decent. Maybe I can get a job guarding something."
Heyes and Kid looked at each other. They didn't say a word, but Lom could tell they were communicating just the same. Kid nodded to Heyes.
Heyes leaned in towards Lom. "Interested in a little revenge against the railroad?"
"You bet I am! What are you plannin' on doin'?" Lom eagerly asked.
"Plannin' a little surprise of our own for the railroad and need a few more men than we have right now." Heyes held out his hand to Lom, which he took readily. "Good to have ya!" Heyes added with a dimpled smile.
Lom smiled as he shook Heyes' hand, "Grateful for you taking me in!"
Kid poured another round of drinks and the three men drank a toast to the newest gang member.
* * * * *
"Mind you, Governor, I was in a bad spot and drinking. Revenge on the railroad was mighty tempting at the time."
The governor and Lom were now in the dining room enjoying a delicious meal.
"Continue, Lom," the governor said as he waved his knife and fork in the air. "I can't wait to hear about this train robbery."
Lom swallowed a piece of steak and took a sip of water. "Well, we went to Devil's Hole and started plannin'…"
* * * * *
Heyes spent several weeks pacing and planning in the leader's cabin. Kid seemed to know when to be available for Heyes to bounce ideas off of, but tried to stay invisible for the most part. It took all of his patience with Heyes while he planned and schemed, but Kid knew the end result would be well worth it.
Kid and the rest of the gang spent the time relaxing while waiting for Heyes to finalize his plan. Lom fell into their daily routine, helping out with everyday tasks such as cooking and grooming the horses as well as sitting up into the wee small hours playing poker with them. Kid and Lom developed a mutual respect for each other as they talked about guns while practicing their shooting.
Occasionally, Heyes sent Kid on a reconnaissance trip to obtain additional information for the job. On these trips, Kid invited Lom along for company and to get to know the newest member of the gang better.
Late one afternoon, Kid quietly walked into the cabin, so as not to disturb Heyes, when he noticed the pacing had stopped and Heyes had a smug smile on his face.
"Got it figured out, Heyes?"
"I sure do, Kid. It's gonna take some precision timin', but this is how it's gonna work. First…"
Kid listened carefully to all of the details and interjected several concerns and comments to make the plan even better. Heyes paid attention to Kid's suggestions and revised his ideas as needed.
"Got a great plan there." Kid patted his partner on the back.
"Thanks. Hey, how's Lom fitting in with the rest of the boys?"
"Lom's fittin' in real well. Shoots fast and straight, too. I like him."
"Good. Why don't you round up the boys so we can tell 'em all about the robbery."
A few weeks later, after timetables had been double-checked, supplies purchased and with every member knowing their role, the gang was on its way to rob their first train under Heyes' leadership.
The robbery went off without a hitch; it was a perfect Hannibal Heyes plan. Lobo and Hank cut down a tree so it fell across the track. As the train slowed down, Kid jumped on the train and made his way to the engine compartment with Lom backing him up. Wheat, Lobo, Hank, and later Lom ushered the passengers off the train to a safe area in the field nearby. Heyes and Kyle went to the railcar with the safe. Heyes picked the lock on the car and carefully opened the door; he smiled at the lack of a guard by the safe. He checked the type of safe, a newer model Brooker, and decided to humor Kyle by using dynamite. He could have opened the safe by listening to the tumblers, but didn't want to take the extra time with this first robbery. The timing was too close and a town was nearby where a posse could be quickly formed. Everything had to go perfectly if he was to prove himself to the gang as their leader.
Kyle and Heyes lit the fuse and ran out of the railcar. "Fire in the hole!"
Everyone got down on the ground waiting for the explosion. KABOOM!
Heyes and Kid peered into the smoking, but still intact, railcar. The safe door was blown wide open exposing stacks upon stacks of money.
"Heyes, we did it!" Kid exclaimed as they climbed into the car. They pulled out two bags and proceeded to fill them with the money.
"How much ya figure we got here?" Kid fanned one of the stacks of money.
"Sheesh, Kid, there has to be maybe $10,000. Quite a haul for our first train job!"
Heyes' adrenaline was flowing as he jumped out of the railcar and ran to his horse. "Split up!" he ordered, as he swung onto his horse. "You all know where to meet up." The gang hurriedly split off into twos and rode off in several different directions, to confuse any posse looking for them.
"Sorry about the delay, ladies and gentlemen." Heyes tipped his hat to the passengers and, spurring his horse, raced off, Kid immediately behind him.
* * * * *
"I can't believe you really robbed a train with the Devil's Hole Gang!" Lom and the governor were now relaxing in leather chairs in front of the den's fireplace in the Warren home smoking fine cigars. They were on their second bottle of brandy and were feeling at ease with each other.
"To be honest, neither can I. I don't know who was more nervous--the train's engineer or me while I held my gun on him," Lom chuckled at the memory.
Lom's face became more sober as he stared into the fireplace. "I sure didn't enjoy pointing that gun at those passengers, though, while getting them off the train. Thank goodness Heyes and Curry had a rule about leaving them alone and didn't rob or hurt them. Don't think I could've done that."
Lom shook the memory out of his head. "So, you wanna hear the rest?"
The governor nodded his head. "Heard this much so may as well hear it all."
Lom continued his story, "Well, this first train robbery set up the pattern how others were robbed with just a few minor changes. We robbed a few banks where my job was a lookout. All seemed to go well until the Hanover job."
"The Hanover job?"
"Yep. That's the job that made me decide I didn't wanna to be an outlaw."
* * * * *
The train robbery near Hanover started out as most of the others, but quickly turned awry. Word of the impending robbery somehow got back to the law and a posse was ready and waiting nearby. The gang stopped the train and were in midst of removing the passengers when Hank yelled out, "POSSE!" and pointed to the horses coming over the distant hill.
"Get going, Heyes! Ask later." Kid pushed Heyes towards the horses.
The outlaws abandoned their jobs and mounted their horses.
Heyes shouted out, "Split up and meet where we planned," as he spurred his horse away from the train with Kid right behind him. The posse pursuing the gang also split up while shooting at their quarry.
Heyes and Kid arrived at the line shack first and watched as the others arrived in pairs. Finally, only one pair had not arrived--Hank and Lom.
"Heyes, I have a bad…" Kid started to say when Hank rode in.
"Hank, where's Lom?" Heyes asked as he grabbed the horse's reins.
"Horse went lame and threw him with the posse on our tail. Sorry, Heyes; they got 'im. Don't know if he's hurt or not."
Heyes got on his horse. "Where?"
"Now where ya think you're goin'?" Kid grabbed Heyes' horse bridle preventing him from leaving.
"Never leave a man behind, Kid; you know that."
"Well, you ain't goin' alone!" Kid let go of Heyes' horse and mounted his horse. "Thinkin' he might say something or lead that posse here?"
"Don't rightly know, but ain't gonna wait to see. Wheat, you and the boys get back to the Hole."
"But I wanted to go to Coleville…"
Kid backed Heyes up. "Wheat, we ain't hurrahing a town when there's nothin' to celebrate and a man's been caught. Now get back to the Hole where it's safe!"
Heyes and Kid headed down the path following Hank's directions. Dusk arrived when they were five miles down the trail. Kid pulled up his horse and Heyes stopped near him.
"What is it, Kid?"
"I smell smoke. Could be the posse is camping nearby." Kid checked his gun making sure the chamber was full of bullets.
Heyes and Kid cautiously made their way to where the smoke was drifting up into the sky. They left their horses in the woods and crept up to the camp.
Heyes peered over the rock cropping. "It's the posse alright; there's Lom tied up by the trees. Looks like there are four of them. What d'ya wanna do, Kid?"
"Let's wait till they settle in for the evenin'. I'll take out Lom's guards and you cover the ones sleepin'. Then I'll cover the sleepin' ones while you get Lom."
Around midnight, Kid made his presence known to the deputy on guard. The deputy heard a click and felt the cold metal of a gun on his neck.
"Don't say a word and you'll see another day," the Kid quietly spoke as he disarmed the man. Kid gagged and tied him up while Heyes kept a gun on the three sleeping posse members. Once the guard was removed, Kid covered the sleeping men while Heyes went to work.
Heyes silently untied Lom's horse, walked it away from the other horses and saddled it so it was ready to go. He crept over to the tree where Lom slept. "Lom, wake up!" Heyes whispered as he untied his fallen comrade.
"Heyes, what are…?"
"Shhh!" Heyes pointed to the Kid, who tipped his hat as he watched the three men continue to snore.
"Let's go!" Heyes quietly said.
"Can't walk; got shot in the leg."
Heyes offered him a hand up. "Can't stay here; lean on me until we get you on a horse."
Lom put his arm about Heyes' shoulders and limped out of the camp. Kid quietly joined them and helped support Lom's weight with his left arm while keeping his gun in his right hand. Together, they helped Lom mount his horse and then led the horse into the woods where they left their horses.
"You okay to ride, Lom? Kid asked concerned.
"Not really--hit my head hard when I fell and my leg is startin' to bleed again. Let's just get outta here."
"Is the bullet still in your leg?" Heyes asked as he checked Lom's bandage and saw the blood seeping through.
"Yep. Posse was gonna take me to a doc in the morning."
Heyes thought for a moment, "There's a small canyon nearby. We can hide there and get the bullet out."
Lom was amazed when Heyes led them into the small canyon. He would never have seen the entrance; it was that well hidden.
Heyes started a small fire while Kid helped Lom get comfortable on a bedroll.
"Heads or tails?" Heyes asked as he reached into his pocket for a coin.
"What are you tossin' a coin for?" Lom looked back and forth between the two outlaws.
"Who gets to dig the bullet outta your leg," Heyes replied as he tossed the coin into the air.
Heyes heated the knife in the fire to sterilize it and wondered how he could have lost with the coin toss. He always won. Kid smiled as he prepared Lom so Heyes could remove the bullet.
"This is gonna hurt; there's no whiskey to help with the pain," Heyes needlessly informed Lom. Lom knew it already hurt and the pain was going to be more intense.
"Bite down on this bandana, Lom; it'll help." Kid rolled up a bandana and offered it to Lom. "Heyes has done this before; don't you worry."
Heyes took a deep breath and began to dig for the bullet. Kid let Lom grab his arm and hold tight against the pain. Minutes later, Heyes offered the bloody bullet to Lom, "Want a souvenir?"
Heyes bandaged up the leg tight to stop the bleeding and offered Lom a drink of water.
"Rest up, Lom; we're in no hurry. Kid, I'll take the first shift and wake you in a few hours."
* * * * *
"So that was the end of your outlawin' days? How many jobs did you do?" the governor stifled a yawn as he asked Lom. The night was late and both were very tired.
"Yup; that was the end of outlawing for me! I was involved in about four bank jobs as a lookout and three train jobs. Later, when I felt better, the Kid, Heyes and me had a talk. I told them how I hated pulling a gun on folks and being shot at by a posse. Decided among us that I wasn't cut out to be an outlaw. Hell, only motive to even join the gang was revenge on the railroads. Heyes and Kid gave me some money and I rode out. Hadn't seen them until they came to my office the other night."
"And what about this revenge on the railroads for taking your land? As one of my sheriffs, I trust you are fair, impartial and not looking to settle a score with one of my major campaign contributors?"
"Absolutely! Funny thing, I didn't think about my motive of revenge during the robberies--just concentrated on what I was supposed to do."
"Well, that's sure an interesting story, Lom. Let me sleep on this amnesty for Heyes and Curry and I'll give you my answer in the morning. Come by the office around ten."
Lom was hopeful. He telegraphed his deputy to tell Smith and Jones that it looked good.
* * * * *
The next morning, Lom was waiting outside the governor's office at ten sharp. A few minutes later he was escorted into the office.
"That was quite a story you told me last night. How did you go from outlawing to becoming a sheriff?"
"Since I lost my homestead and didn't have anyplace to go, I just wandered for a few weeks. Made my way to Porterville living off the loot from jobs and feeling guilty spending each and every ill-earned dollar. I didn't know what kinda honest job to pursue until old Sheriff Ramsey talked me into being his deputy over a beer in the saloon. Ramsey asked me about my past so I told him about losing the land and being good with a gun, but failed to mention running with the gang. When Sheriff Ramsey retired few years ago, the town asked me to be the sheriff." Lom paused for a moment. "So, as you can see for yourself, an outlaw can go straight, if he wants to. I believe Heyes and Kid do want to go straight."
"Well, Lom, I've been thinking about Heyes and Curry wanting amnesty. You made an excellent point; the railroads and banks would be grateful to my administration, not to mention in my debt, if the boys were to retire from outlawing. But Heyes and Curry must realize I can't just immediately give them amnesty without it being political suicide. No, if they really want this amnesty, they're going to have to earn it. Are you willing to be a middle-man, Lom, between myself and these outlaws?"
"I am, sir."
"Then I'm willing to offer them a provisional amnesty."
"A provisional amnesty?"
"You can go back and tell them that IF they can be law-abiding citizens for one year, I will grant them amnesty. In the meantime, they will still be wanted outlaws. I can't just take away the reward that the railroads and banks are offering without upsetting my major campaign donors."
"So that's the deal? They have to stay outta trouble and stay ahead of the law? They'll still be wanted dead or alive with a $10,000 reward on each of them? That's going to be awful hard to do, Governor. How are they going to survive?"
"I didn't say it would be easy and I don't want it to be effortless. That's what they have to do if they want amnesty. Oh, and I don't want anyone else to know about this deal, especially the banks and railroads – only you, me and Heyes and Curry will know about it. It'll be our secret. Do I make myself clear?"
The governor frowned. "Who knows you were an outlaw?"
"Well, just you, me, and the Devil's Hole Gang. Told the posse that caught me that my name was Frank Harris instead of my real name."
"I don't want anyone else knowing that one of my finest sheriffs was an outlaw, Sheriff Trevors, and ran with the Devil's Hole Gang. That'll be our secret. That's all the time I have for you now. I'll be looking forward to occasionally hearing how our 'mutual friends' are doing. Hope you have a good trip back to Porterville."
"Thank you, Governor Warren," Lom said as they stood up and shook hands.
Lom left the office and headed to the telegraph office to send a telegram to his deputy to arrest the transients Smith and Jones. He wanted to tell Heyes and Kid about the provisional amnesty and its conditions; putting them in jail guaranteed they would stay in Porterville until he returned and could explain. Lom realized they were not going to take the news well. He'd just have to convince them this was the best offer they were going to get. It was not going to be an easy year for any of them.
As he settled in his seat on the train for the return trip, Lom closed his eyes and relaxed. He was looking forward to getting back home to Porterville. Peaceful Porterville, where even a former outlaw like himself could lead a model life. A life of temperance, moderation and tranquility.