Interlude: Tied To The Tracks
Part of the Magnificent Little Britches series
"Bang!" Vin scrambled over the boardwalk, dragging his hostages with him. He dived behind a barrel and lay there listening, waiting for just the right moment. He knew it wouldn't be long; the sheriff of this little town was never as good at laying in wait as he was. A few seconds later, he heard the sound of footsteps -- someone trying unsuccessfully to sneak up on him. He launched himself from behind the barrel, landed in a crouch with his gun aimed to kill. "Drop your gun, sheriff!"
"Never!" JD declared, then aimed his stick . . .er . . . gun at the outlaw and pulled the trigger. "Bang! Bang! Bang!"
The deadly outlaw's eyes went wide, he clutched his chest and fell to the ground, deader than a beaver hat.
"Oh, JD!" the damsel in d'dress cried, clutching her little baby tightly. "You saved us! You're our he-ro!"
Sheriff JD blew on the barrel of his gun and tucked it into his belt. "All in a day's work, Ma'am."
She ran to him and hugged him, then kissed his cheek. "Stop it, Casey!" he complained, wiping the girl germs off of his cheek in disgust.
She giggled, then tried to force him to hold her doll . . . er . . . baby. "Okay, JD, it's my turn to be the hero!"
JD's mouth fell open. "Girls can't be heroes!"
The helpless damsel in d'dress became a lot less helpless and stomped her foot down, right on the sheriff's toes. "They can, too!"
"No, they can't!"
"Yes, they can!"
"Vi-in!" JD demanded. "Tell her!"
The baddest, meanest outlaw in the west, Vin Tanner, rose from the dead and wiped off his pants. "Uh . . . I gotta go . . . see what Chris is doing."
JD watched him hightail it over to the sheriff's office then turned back to find Casey glaring at him. "What?"
She stomped her foot again.
"I wanna be the hero!" she demanded. "Now, come on, so I can tie you to the tracks!"
"The railroad tracks, dummy!"
"Casey!" He looked at her as if she'd lost her mind. "There ain't no railroad tracks around here!"
Now Casey looked at him as if he were crazy. "We can pretend, can't we?"
JD shook his head, not knowing what more to say. Casey had the dumbest ideas, sometimes. Girl heroes? Pretend railroad tracks? As if he'd ever let her tie him to anything, anyway! But, Casey never seemed to want to listen to him when he told her how things should be. So, instead of arguing with her, now, he just said, "We can't play anymore, anyway. Not without Vin." There, that made perfect sense. Besides, there was no way he was gonna be the damsel in d'dress! It was bad enough that Vin had seen him holding her stupid doll a few days ago. Vin would never be caught dead in a dress, or holding on to a stupid doll.
"Fine," she said, more agreeably than he'd expected, "then we'll play something else."
"Well," he shrugged, "okay."
Casey looked thoughtful for a few second, then she turned to JD and smiled sweetly. "Come along, darling."
JD scrunched his nose. "Darling?"
"Yes, if I can't be the hero, then I guess we can just play . . . house."
No, anything but that! "Um, Casey . . ."
But she ignored him and yanked him along by the arm. "I said, Come On!"
"Oh, boy," he muttered as she dragged him down the boardwalk. He felt his cheeks grow hot when they walked past Vin. He tried pleading for rescue with his eyes, but his so-called brother just smirked at him.
They continued down the walk until they came to a bench, then Casey pushed him down on it and sat beside him. "Hold Penelope," she instructed, thrusting the doll into his arms.
He looked up and down the street in dismay, praying nobody could see what he was doing. Unfortunately, Vin was still sitting outside the sheriff's office, looking right at him, grinning and shaking his head. At that moment, JD would have preferred being tied to the railroad tracks. He figured being ran over by train couldn't be much worse than sitting on this bench holding a doll -- like a girl!
Casey was digging in her pocket, then she smiled and pulled out a handkerchief. "Here," she said, unfolding the cloth and handing him one of the candy sticks that had been wrapped inside.
"Thanks!" Well, maybe this wouldn't be so bad. He was about to put the candy in his mouth, but Casey stopped him.
"JD, first you gotta feed the baby!"
No, she couldn't be serious. "What are you talking about?"
"Like this," she said, and put her candy stick to the doll's mouth. Then she smiled at him. "See?"
He just sat there, stunned. What did she think he was? He thrust the doll at her. "I ain't playin' dolls with you, Casey!"
She pushed the doll back at him, her eyes narrowed. "Oh, yeah?"
"Well, you just listen to me, JD Dunne! I'm your wife and I say it's time to feed the baby!"
"It ain't even a real baby! Besides, wifes are s'posed to do what their husbands say! Husbands are the bosses!"
"Now look what you did!" She held the baby . . .er, doll . . . to her shoulder, and patted its back. "Hush, baby, hush. It's okay." She glared accusingly at JD. "You made her cry!"
JD glanced in desperation toward the sheriff's office, but Vin was no longer there. He'd been hoping that Vin would come and rescue him, but now he knew he'd been betrayed.
"I don't want to play no more," he informed Casey, folding his arms across his chest and thrusting out his lower lip. "Casey, did ya hear me?"
She gave him a mean look, still patting the baby. Then she cradled it in her arms and smiled down at it. "Everything's okay. Your papa still loves you. He didn't mean to make you cry."
JD just shook his head in bewilderment. He wasn't that dumb doll's papa and he sure didn't love it! He didn't even care if it cried or not! But before he could make his feelings known or think up a way to escape he found himself looking into a pair of lifeless, brown button eyes.
"Kiss your baby and tell her you love her, JD."
"Ya heard me, JD!"
"No sir, Casey! I ain't kissing no doll!"
"Oh, yes, you are!"
"Oh, no, I ain't!"
And then she did it - that thing JD hated, the thing he could never bear: Casey burst into tears.
"Casey! Don't cry!"
"You're being mean!" she sobbed.
"No, I ain't! "
"You won't play with us!"
Us? "I just don't wanna play dolls!"
"You don't wanna be married to me, anymore!"
He was pretty sure he'd never wanted to be married in the first place, but instead of saying that, he found himself saying, "'Course I do!"
She suddenly stopped crying, and gave him a hopeful look. "Really?"
What was wrong with him? This was his chance to tell her he didn't want to be married no more, but instead, he told her, "I said so, didn't I?"
"Oh, JD." And before he could do anything she leaned toward him and kissed him - ON THE LIPS!
"Hey, you two."
"Buck!" JD pushed away from her and jumped from the bench. He wiped his shirt sleeve across his lips, then clung to his papa for dear life.
"Me and Vin, here," Buck winked at Vin, "we were thinkin' it's about time for lunch."
JD hadn't even realized Vin was there, but now that he saw him, he gave him a look of immense gratitude. Vin hadn't betrayed him, after all.
"Y'hungy, JD?" his brother asked with a smirk.
"I sure am!"
"I'm hungry, too!" Casey announced, wrapping her doll up, ready to join them.
JD was about to protest, but before he could say anything, Buck crouched in front of her and tweaked her nose. "Your aunt Nettie's lookin' for you, darlin'. You best run along and find her, now. JD'll see you later."
Her face fell, but she stood and clutched her doll to her, then headed for the mercantile. "Bye, JD!"
JD waved at her, then let out a harsh breath and frowned. Being married, he thought, felt a lot like being tied to railroad tracks. "Women," he said with exasperation as they headed for the restaurant.
Vin nodded agreement, but Buck only smiled with that dreamy, silly look on his face and sighed, "Yeah."