What the Kid didn't know was Heyes did know what he was doing. He was distancing him as much as he could; trying to anger him and drive him away. Heyes knew there was something terribly wrong with him, but he didn't know what. While he was able to physically control the outwards signs such as the twitching and jerky spasms, he couldn't control his mind. Feelings of extreme anger would wash over him and he would literally go blind with rage. When it passed he would often find, in his fury, he had ripped at bushes or torn branches off of trees, broken whatever he had at hand. So far, it had always started slowly. He would feel the tenseness and then the rage building. These were the times he took off exploring the canyon and disappeared for hours.
Heyes was becoming afraid of himself. He was scared he would do something crazy to the Kid. He'd already pulled a gun on him and beat him unconscious. What was next? He didn't want to be near him at all and he knew the only way to keep him away was to force a break with his lifelong partner. He was pretty sure he could do it.
He was also sure he was going crazy. Curry had told him his brain was injured and by now Heyes had figured it was likely permanent. He'd had concussions before but not like this. This was real different. Sometimes, he would have difficulty pulling his thoughts together and they would become entangled in his mind. He would open his mouth to speak, but nothing would come out. It had happened a few times in front of the Kid, and it had been awful. Heyes had frozen up, afraid his partner would see he was struggling to speak. Heyes would sit silent for long periods waiting for the spell to pass. He saw the way Curry looked at him; as if he were strange; crazy maybe. Heyes couldn't bear the thought of losing his mind.
Heyes knew he had to plan ahead while he could. He knew, too, if he told him his fears his partner would never leave him and that was not what Heyes wanted. He didn't want to saddle him with a burden to care for the rest of his life. Heyes would take care of himself. He had to run the Kid off first and he figured he was well on the way to doing it. He needed money, though, to be able to disappear properly. He'd pull one last job and then he would be gone forever.
Heyes had been busy. He had spent a lot of time planting the seeds of discontentment into Morgan's men. He hated to drag anyone along with him, but he knew he had to get out of the Roost and he would need them with him to do it. Poke kept the hideout well-guarded and controlled all traffic in or out. Heyes had explored the entire canyon and all the side canyons. The only way out was the way he'd come in. Heyes was leaving tonight. The other outlaws were joining up with him as their new leader in the hopes of striking it rich; they would abandon their posts and follow him. It would leave the Roost unguarded but Poke and the Kid would know they had left when they woke in the morning. He knew they would be on his trail in an instant and a large gang would be easy to follow. Heyes had a plan to use to his advantage. He did have a plan for a robbery but it didn't include any partners. He wanted a stake for himself and it needed to be a big one. He was going to leave the country if he lived long enough. The Kid wouldn't be expecting it. In all the times they discussed going to Mexico, it was always Heyes who resisted the idea. He loved the West and had never wanted to leave it; until now. Now it didn't matter anymore where he ended up.
Heyes could feel the tension starting to seep into his muscles. It was another seizure coming on. Dammit! Heyes put down his book and blew out the candle in his cabin. He silently crept out into the night to get well away from the tiny settlement before all hell broke loose.
The first thing Curry was aware of the next morning was Poke Morgan yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs. He couldn't make out what he was saying, but he sounded awful mad. He crawled out of his bedroll and went to the door. He saw Poke in the middle of the dusty pathway turning in circles and screaming like a banshee. The Kid whistled to get his attention.
"Poke, what the hell are you yellin' about this early in the mornin'? You're gonna wake the whole place up."
"There ain't nobody to wake up, 'sides you!" Poke grabbed his hat off his head and threw it down.
It took the Kid a moment before he realized Heyes had pulled a fast one on him. He'd snuck out in the middle of the night and taken the whole gang with him. He'd set him up knowing he'd pump the men for information and had fooled him into thinking the robbery was a ways off. He went back inside and threw his gear together angrily, emerging a few minutes later with his saddlebags over his shoulder and his bedroll under his arm.
Poke watched him, stunned by the desertion of his men. "Where're you going, Jones? Your partner rode off and left you behind. Hell, he took everybody but you."
"He only thinks he left me behind. I'll catch up with him," said the Kid as he headed to his horse. He tacked him up quickly and rode out past Poke never even looking at him.
Poke picked up his hat, threw it down again, and screamed and cursed some more.
Mid-morning, Marley Walker and his men rode up the trail into the Roost. He was surprised to see the guards weren't posted in their usual places. Of course, they'd seen the signs of a large group of riders having come down the trail. Maybe Poke was out on a job. Still, he usually left some guards behind to keep the Roost secure. No matter, this lapse of security suited Marley just fine. He'd been a bit concerned about riding in with a show of force and had spent a good part of the ride down from Green River trying to figure out a way to explain to Poke why the heavily-armed men accompanied him. This would work out well. He'd make himself comfortable and wait for the boys to return.
Jake and Lindy weren't far behind the posse. They too had entered the narrow canyon and were trailing the posse at a distance keeping out of sight. It was a shock to them both when they rounded the last bend and saw Marley and his men surrounding only one outlaw. Pulling up, they backtracked down the trail out of sight, concealed their horses and crept to within earshot.
"Gone? What the hell d'you mean they're gone?" yelled Marley.
"You heard me. Smith took my men during the night and rode out. I knew by looking at him, he was a sneaky, low-down bas….," Poke began only to be interrupted by Marley.
"Damn straight, he is. Don't you know who he is, you idiot?" screamed Marley. "That was Hannibal Heyes who rode off with your gang right under your nose! Jones is Kid Curry."
Poke stared at him in disbelief and then he remembered. He remembered where he'd seen Jones before. It was in Abilene. In a saloon. There had been dispute at a card table. Some stupid cowboy saying he'd been cheated. The cowboy had drawn on the cardsharp across from him only to have the gun shot out of his hand by the fastest shootist Poke had ever seen. It had been Jones and, now he remembered, Smith had been the cardsharp. Damn his drinking. He should've figured it out. He knew he had pickled his brain, but not this bad. Heyes and Curry were worth a mint and he'd let them slip right through his fingers. Good thing, his ol' buddy Marley had been smart enough to show up with a few good men. Poke was catching those two if it was the last thing he did.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Let's go after them," roared Poke as he ran for his horse.
Lindy and Jake watched the angry mob gallop down the trail past them. Once the sound of hoof beats died down, they too, ran to their horses, mounted, and followed in the posse's wake.
"What are we going to do, Jake? There are too many of them. What's our plan?"
"We don't have a plan. We're gonna follow them. We're gonna let them round up Heyes and Curry for us and then we're gonna wait for them to make a mistake."
Heyes led his new gang out of the mouth of the Dirty Devil and cut due east towards Moab. There was some grumbling from the men who were hesitant to follow him into the rugged territory. They had thought they would be heading north to the town of Green River and then south again along the banks of the actual Green River. None of them had been this route before but had heard it was deadly country. There were dry, winding canyons with hoodoos and strange rock formations. Places where a man could be lost forever. Misgivings about their new leader's decision were already being felt. Heyes had planned it that way. He had been through this country and knew it was dangerous, but he had a perfect recall of trails which always served him well. Once he'd ridden a trail he never forgot it. Of course, his mind was causing him fits right now, but Heyes wasn't worried. He didn't plan on the men accompanying him the whole way and, if he got lost…..well, it was another way of disappearing, wasn't it? He was more concerned with shaking the Kid.
Heyes' pursuers were shocked when they discovered he was leading his men east towards the mazes of the canyon country between Robber's Roost and Moab. The Kid, of course, knew of his uncanny ability to remember long ago traveled trails, but Heyes was sick and his mind was not functioning correctly. The others had no idea Heyes was capable of surviving such a shortcut and thought the man was leading his gang to a mass suicide. The pursuers ruefully continued trailing the gang.
Curry was a few hours behind the gang, but he had no trouble following the churned up tracks of the large group of men. Heyes had seven men with him. That worried Kid. How could he convince him to quit this mad plan if he had seven with him who were hankering for a big payday? Well, if he couldn't get him to quit, he'd join him. He decided a long time ago he would stick with his partner no matter what and watch his back. He wasn't about to stop now when Heyes needed him more than ever. He was angry he'd been fooled. He'd known Heyes was up to something and it was never his style to simply double-cross someone. Nope. Nothing was ever simple with him. He should've known he was being played, but Heyes was so foreign to him now; he hadn't seen it. Kid had chalked his odd behavior up to his injuries. He'd be more careful when he caught up with him.
The sheriff and Poke trailed the Kid by only an hour but they were falling further and further behind which also held up Jake's and Lindy's progress as they didn't want their presence revealed until it served their plans.
About a day past the banks of the Green River, the outlaws had had enough. Heyes laid awake that night and listened to the whisperings of his men. He'd known they'd lose heart right about here. It was an easy ride for them back to the banks of the Green where trails cut both north and south to civilization, but Heyes had led them to the mouth of the maze of canyons before them. He had wanted to throw a scare into them. They were camped six hundred feet above the valley floor and were to make the descent tomorrow morning into the hellish landscape spread out before them as far as the eye could see. Heyes had watched all evening as the men, one by one, would stop what they were doing to gaze out across the barren expanse beneath them.
The men drank whiskey and talked in hushed whispers late into the night. Smith was crazy if he thought they'd follow him out there, they'd die for sure. They'd all heard enough of Smith's plan to try for the Moab Bank on their own. What'd they need him for? Any fool could dynamite a safe. The decision was made. They would leave Smith here. It was obvious to them he was still a very sick man. He tried to hide it, but they saw how shaky and tired he was. He wouldn't last long on his own.
The outlaws rode out in the early hours of the morning. Heyes heard them go despite their best efforts to be quiet. He had stayed awake listening to them talk in case they had decided they were better off killing him. Heyes knew these men weren't killers, but he wasn't taking any chances. He had his pistol and another he'd lifted from Poke's storeroom tucked into his bedroll, loaded and ready for use. It was ironic to think on. Here he was likely dying, but he was still trying hard to live. Heyes smiled into the darkness as he sprang out of his bedroll and made his own preparations to leave. The gang, in their haste to be away, rode abreast tearing up their own back trail. It was impossible to untangle the prints leading in from the prints leading out.
Heyes took a heavy wool blanket he'd brought and cut it into four squares. He folded each square several times until he had the thickness he wanted and tied each square onto a hoof of his horse securing it with the bits of latigo he always carried for a quick tack repair. Tucking the rest of the leather into his saddlebag, he was ready to go. The gang had camped last night on a big stretch of flat rock and tied the horses to the Pinyon and Juniper trees scattered at the far edges. Heyes now carefully led his muffled horse onto the rock face and using a branch he'd torn off, he swept away the animal's prints from the base of the trees. He mounted his gelding, and rode him on padded hooves across the rock face and down the rocky trail leaving no trace of their passing.