Disclaimer: Alias Smith and Jones and all characters belong to Glen A. Larson and Universal TV.
Wheat's mouth curved in a self-congratulatory smile as he dropped his pencil. He'd been scratching on the paper so long there were holes where the lead had gone through, but it sounded good. "Ain't just Hannibal Heyes got a way with words," he said, under his breath. He couldn't wait to slide this across the counter of the next bank. Course, they were laying low right now, after the marshal in Rose Creek recognized them and they had to ride right out again in a hurry, but he had ambitions.
The poker game had broken up early, most of the boys turning in. It wasn't as if there was much to do; nothing but mountains, sky and birch trees from Devil's Hole to the next cattle-splat of a town. Wheat hadn't noticed 'til he came west how much bigger and blacker the sky got over the mountains. Like it wanted to come down and swallow you up. Didn't make much difference what you did under a sky like that; couldn't nobody see who cared.
Kyle's boots scraped noisily as he joined him next to the kerosene light. He geared up to aim a mouthful of tobacco juice at the floorboards, then, noticing Wheat eyeing him, holed it up in the other cheek instead.
"You writin' another one of them notes, sayin' to put the money in the bag?"
"An' a lot more besides!"
"But, Wheat, you only got five words down there..." Kyle craned forward curiously, an injured look dropping over his face as the paper was snatched away. "Least that's how it looked. Never did learn t'read." His grin reappeared. "You're smart. Nearly as smart as Heyes, even."
Draining his mug of what passed for coffee, Wheat huffed. "If Heyes is smart, how come he and the Kid think they can stay out of trouble with twenty thousand dollars on their heads? Lot of men could think a sheriff might look kindly on 'em for handin' him two notorious outlaws."
The smaller man considered this, jaw working on his tobacco. "Would you do it?"
Wheat ducked his head. "Family, ain't they?" he muttered.
Kyle's grin widened, mouthful of crooked teeth taking over his face. "Will you teach me my letters someday, Wheat?"
Wheat coughed. "Someday," he acknowledged. They'd have to keep some whiskey here, kind Preacher used to make. Stuff'd take the skin off your mouth if you didn't swallow fast, but with luck, it'd distract Kyle, and he wouldn't start asking Wheat to read more than wanted posters, either.
Kyle seemed satisfied. "You want t'bunk in here tonight?"
"Don't hog all them blankets," Wheat said, in warning. "And strip down," he added, although Kyle wasn't going to be much better under his clothes. He was none too clean himself. Didn't matter. It got cold at night, and they understood each other. Man didn't have to write anything down to speak the same language as you. Heyes could chew that over, Wheat thought, as he turned down the lamp.