Missing Scene: Vendetta

by Helen Adams

(500 Words)

(Moved to Blackraptor November 2009)

“I suppose you thought that was cute, climbing up on that wagon and blowing it up with a bottle of whiskey.”

Ezra blinked, startled by the comment.  It had been two days since the battle with the Nichols family.  Mrs. Nichols and her remaining sons had left town yesterday, and Chris’s former father-in-law had been buried this morning.  Chris had hardly said a word to anyone in all that time.  To Ezra, not at all.


“You didn’t even know Hank Connelly.  He wasn’t your responsibility, any of yours, but you all stood by and damn near got yourselves shot because of him.”

Because of me.   Ezra could hear the unspoken words clearly.  Attempting to mollify the gunslinger, he said in his most reasonable tone, “While it was a shame that Josiah, Buck and JD were injured due to the Nichols obsession with Connelly, we could hardly leave you to deal with the situation alone.  Turning our backs on y’all simply because we had no personal stake in your battle would have been the worst form of cowardice.”

Roughly, Chris grabbed the gambler’s left hand and held it up to the light, displaying the discoloration of his fingertips where they had been burned pulling open the smokestack on the armored wagon.  “You’re lucky this is all the injury you got.  You could’ve been killed, you stupid son of a bitch!  You all could!  Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

Ezra snatched his hand back.  “Of course it does.  I have no wish to hasten my departure from this earthly plane any more than you, or the rest of our comrades do, but shooting at that armored contraption wasn’t doing anything but wasting bullets.”  Seeing that Chris was unconvinced, he pressed his point.  “We could have waited them out, hoped they would run out of ammunition before we did, but for all we knew they had enough extra boxes of bullets stores in that wagon to fire at us all day and night, picking us off until there was none left to oppose them.  Something had to be done, I saw an opportunity and I took it.”

Chris stared at him with hard eyes, but was met with an equally challenging glare from the gambler.  With a growl of frustration, Chris stood, snatching his whiskey bottle from the table as he moved toward the exit.

“That went well,” Ezra murmured, assuming the last word had been spoken and he had been condemned by his own defense.

To his surprise, Chris paused and looked at him again, the anger having given way to something that looked suspiciously like gratitude.  “I may not be able to keep any of you from taking stupid chances, especially if that’s the only choice available, but do me a favor and be careful.  I ain’t got so many friends left in this world that I can afford to lose any.”

Ezra stared open-mouthed at the swinging batwing doors.  Then, thoughtfully rubbing his injured fingertips together, he smiled.