Synopsis: What happened next for The Night of the Executioner.
Category: The Big Valley
Word Count: 1,220
Nick patted Heath on the back. “So you ready to leave?”
“Sure Nick,” Heath smiled, “I sure could go for a nice quiet train ride.”
“You all right, Heath? Never known you to like train rides.” The rancher tilted his head
“I’m fine. Let’s get going. Jarrod’s waiting for us too, right?” Heath stared into his brother’s eyes.
“Heath, are you all right? Of course, Jarrod’s there and we’re staying in his townhouse, now you remember?”
“Sure, Nick.” The blonde’s eyebrow shot up. “I’m just a little preoccupied. Now can we git?”
“All ready, little brother, all right.”
They both headed for the waiting train. Finding seats, Nick and Heath made themselves comfortable. Heath quickly fell asleep, pushing his hat down over his face. Nick looked over Heath and noticed some bruising on his face.
The train was on schedule and they disembarked.
“Ah, there’s the conquering hero.” Jarrod came over and patted Heath on the shoulder.
“Hero? Now what have you been drinking, Jarrod? I know we were late but a joke’s a joke,” said Nick.
Heath blushed. “It’s nothing, Jarrod. You’d a done it too. Can we get going now, Jarrod? Sign them papers, and I’m looking for a good meal and a nice long rest.”
“All right, Jarrod. Let me in on the joke,” Nick growled.
Jarrod shoved a newspaper into Nick’s hands. “Here, Nick. Read it. I’m buying Heath a drink,” Jarrod took Heath by the arm and led him to a carriage. “Well, come on, Nick.”
Nick grumbled, tucked the newspaper under his arm, and climbed into the carriage.
“Well, Heath, it won’t take long to sign papers. Where do you want to eat dinner? My treat. Don’t often I get to take a hero to dinner.” The lawyer smiled broadly and chuckled.
“Hero? Heath, you told me it was a woman,” Nick said disgustedly.
“Well, it was, sorta, Nick. But you were all so fired up to get here I kinda shortened it a bit.”
“Well, so far, what I read is you let Jimmy Sweetwater tell all about the dirty dealings and a Senator getting killed. Can’t you go any where without getting into trouble?”
“Nick, I didn’t have no choice, Pinewood didn’t have any rooms left so I spent the night out of town and headed to Hazelton. Not my fault I picked the wrong spot and, well, the rest is in the newspaper article.”
“And what about the woman?”
“Oh that was his daughter; she kinda thought I was crazy getting myself involved. So did some other people; wanted to warn me off.”
“The bruises?” Jarrod looked at his face.
“Yeah, bruised a few ribs maybe, stomach, nothing I can’t handle. And don’t even mention going to a doctor. I swear, you break a darn fingernail and you rush to the doctor.” Heath smiled.
“Heath, you realize you won’t have to buy a drink for months. How does that feel?” asked Jarrod.
“Like I said, Jarrod, you or Nick would have done the same thing. Ain’t no different.”
“Harrumph, hero. Well, little brother, if you get a big head, I’ll be more than willing to knock it off.”
“I’m sure you will, Nick, I’m sure you will. Well, here we are.”
The men walked into the lawyer’s office and found the other parties to the contract. “So is this the hero?” one asked.
“Yes this is my brother Heath. Hero.”
“Aw, Jarrod. You’ll have to forgive my brother; ain’t nothing.” Heath rubbed his hands together. “So where do I sign?”
After the paperwork was signed, the men offered to buy dinner and drinks.
“Sorry, fellas, I prefer the company of my brothers. Maybe next time.” Heath half smiled. “Besides, my brother offered me to take me to dinner any place I want. Can’t refuse an offer like that, now can I?”
They shook hands and the other men left the office.
“All right Heath, where do you want to eat?” asked Jarrod.
“You know, Jarrod, I been thinking about it. Since it’s just us, seeing as the womenfolk aren’t here…”
Jarrod started to squirm. “All right Heath. I’m going to buy you dinner; dessert is on you.”
Heath laughed. “Now Jarrod, do you think I don’t know it. I was thinking the Palace Hotel dining room…if you have a spare suit, a hot bath and whiskey, not necessarily in that order.”
“Heath, you passed a perfectly opportunity to have Jarrod take us to Madame Henri’s,” complained Nick.
“On no, Nick. I’m a hero now, at least until it dies down. Knowing how them bottom-feeders are and seeing Mother and Audra would hear right quick. I really don’t want to trust my luck.” Heath winked.
“All right, Heath. Yes, I have a few suits for our dinner and hot baths,” Jarrod advised.
Getting another cab, the men headed to Jarrod’s townhouse and freshened up. Nick was feeling Heath took a little too long in the tub until he saw the bruising on his ribs.
“Don’t say nothing, Nick. Don’t want no liniment or anything. Mother’s gong to find out soon enough and she’ll send me bed or fuss all over me.”
“Now Heath, this is what you get for being a hero.” Nick laughed.
The cab ride to the restaurant was quiet, until they climbed out. Word had gotten out and a few people shook Heath’s hand on the way in.
Heath looked at the luxurious hotel lobby and restaurant. Whistling, he felt underdressed in his suit. Apparently word traveled fast and a prominent table was arranged. Even before they ordered, Jarrod’s friends and acquaintances came over to meet the hero. The blonde felt heat rise to his face and his tie seeming to choke him.
“Well, here’s to the hero,” Jarrod rose a glass of champagne to Heath.
Their glasses clinked and Heath dove into his food. Luckily, the well wishers and glad-handers dissipated, so he was able to enjoy his meal.
Heath yawned on the cab ride back to the lawyer’s home.
Dinner over, the men enjoyed brandy and cigars at Jarrod’s townhouse, recalling the long, expensive meal.
“Ah Jarrod, best meal I think I had in my life,” observed Heath.
“Well how could you eat, seeing as all those people congratulating you and shaking your hand? Surprised you tasted anything,” Nick said.
“Jarrod, I do think Nick’s jealous.” Heath took a long drag on his cigar. “Besides, not often I get to meet such pretty ladies. Looks like if I come up here, I might be right busy.”
“But I’m sure Heath forgot one thing,” Nick chuckled.
“Now what could that be, Nick?” Heath now worried.
“You realize when we get home, not only Mother but also Audra and the whole town’s going to know about. Think about Marianne Stabley.”
Heath took another long drag on his cigar. “Boy howdy, I forgot about her. Jarrod, any chance you looking for a new law clerk?”
All the men laughed and took a long drag on their cigars.