Hound Dog Days

Helen Chavez

Disclaimer: Sorry, but the fellers ain’t mine, much as I would love it to be so. Just borrowed ‘em for a little while …

My thanks, as always, to Melody and the Jezebelles, who are a wonder and an inspiration.

Thanks also to Mog for her magnificent ATF AU, but Delancey Cowper Morgan and Miss Rosie Sanchez are my own creations, for what it’s worth, as is Beau.

I suppose you could technically call this little tale a ‘Rosie moment’, as Rosie Sanchez is certainly in the story, but that’s about as far as it goes. I’ve had a lot of folks wanting to know about Del and Josiah’s meeting, courting, and all that kind of stuff, and those tales will be told in due course, I promise.

Spoiler: There is a small reference to 2AM.

But I thought a little potted teaser of how it all began wouldn’t come amiss, although it’s being told by a somewhat unlikely witness to the whole shebang …

For Heather F., who loves hounds.

Feedback welcome, but be kind, dear friends, because I cry real easy …

I’m gettin’ pretty damn’ tired of sleepin’ out here on the porch, I can tell you.

Now, I’m not really complainin’ as such, you understand, but – well, when you’re used to sleepin’ on the bottom of the Boss’ bed all stretched out and comfortable, you have to understand it’s a bit of a shock being relegated to the damn’ porch!

Oh, before I go any further, I s’pose I’d better introduce myself. The name’s Beau, short for Beauregard, and I’m a hound. A Plott hound to be precise. Seventy-five pounds of black-brindle, lean, mean, killin’ machine – that’s me. I’m top-dog hereabouts, apart from the Boss, that is, and that means I can whup the tar out of any SOB who cares to cross my path – don’t matter if it’s a human, hound, bear, bobcat or flea, I can whup it. That’s what I’m here for, and that’s what I do.

Now, me and the Boss go ‘way back, since I was but a whelp. She and I came out here to Colorado together, ‘long with that dumb-ass of a horse of hers, Buck. I hate horses. Stupidest critters you ever saw. Well, maybe not as stupid as a sheep, but pretty damn’ dumb. But, she has to have one, or else we wouldn’t get up into these mountains around here, ‘cause even those ‘off-road’ whatevers with all those gears and stuff can’t get into some of the places we get to. So there you go.

We came here not long after she got Buck, after she got mauled by that big ol’ bear that killed her old horse – what was his name? – and took my eye. Thought we needed a change of scene, and I s’pose she was right. Took both of us a while to heal up, but we did - and now we live here, surrounded by all these helluva big mountains and lots and lots of trees. Suits me just fine. We spend our time takin’ folks up into the high places, or huntin’ the occasional bear or mountain lion that makes a nuisance of itself. We don’t kill ‘em though, unless we have to. They just get put someplace else, although who’d have a bear or cougar by choice I ain’t got no idea. But that’s humans for you.

We got a neat little house, and paddocks, and a river close by, and runs for the rest of us hounds, and – sorry. Gettin’ kind of sidetracked, huh?

Anyway, it wasn’t long after that, things started to happen. For the Boss, I mean.

This big feller drives into the compound one day. He gets out of this beat-up ol’ Suburban, and the Boss comes out of the house to meet him. Two other fellers get out behind him – one of ‘em big and dark, with eyes that had a spark of somethin’ fun in ‘em. The other one … well, he wasn’t so big, and he kept brushin’ stuff off his pants leg as though he had a dose of the fleas. But I couldn’t see a speck on the man, he was so clean.

The Boss looked at the big feller with his curly hair and broad shoulders, and, dammit, he looked right back, eyes full of somethin’ I hadn’t seen before.

"You Del Morgan?" He had this deep voice, all soft-rough like a piece of velvet.

"Who’s askin’?" The Boss had that same look in her eyes. That kinda had me worried.

"Name’s Josiah Sanchez. Vin Tanner sent me."

Now the Boss didn’t smile much, not back then, but she sure had a grin on her face when Vin was mentioned. She and Vin were old friends, and if Vin had sent this Josiah Sanchez, then he must be okay.

But it turned out not to be that simple. Vin was shot up, in hospital – the Boss knew all about hospitals. And the man who shot him was a feller called Zachariah Tombs, and he was some crazy SOB who had come after Josiah. Something to do with a place called Vietnam. He was holed up in the mountains, and Josiah needed the Boss to help him get this Tombs feller. The other two were his friends who had tagged along to help out, and I found out later there were seven of ‘em all told.

So we went after him.

Me and the Boss, and Josiah and Buck and Ezra. Those are the other two fellers, by the way. That Buck Wilmington ain’t nothin’ like the Buck horse one little bit. He may look kinda amiable and easy-goin’, but he’s fiercer than a cornered grizzly when it comes to the crunch. And Ezra - well, he ain’t so easy to read. Ezra P. Standish, to give him his full pedigree title, though what the hell the ‘P’ stands for I have no idea, but ‘pissant’ kinda comes to mind. He and I have this arrangement. He brings me the occasional milk bone and I don’t piss on his car tires.

So, we went after this piece of manure called Zachariah Tombs, and when the thing was finished and we hauled-ass out of there, things had changed forever. For the Boss and Josiah, that is.

In the middle of all that blood and sweat and fear we went through up there in those high lonesome places, somethin’ happened. I’m none too sure what the hell it was, but those two figured somethin’ out between ‘em. Now Buck, Ez and me figured it out a long time before those two fools, but when they did realise what was goin’ on, it hit ‘em like a bull on loco-weed.

They needed each other. They couldn’t live without each other, and if they were apart they were lost like an abandoned pup.

They finally sorted the whole sorry business out about a week after the Tombs episode was all done and dusted, and Josiah came a-visitin’ in the middle of the night. The Boss hadn’t seen him in a week, and she met him on the porch, and he looked so broke up inside. Whatever this Tombs had done to him all those years back was eatin’ him all up, and he just stood there, on that porch, all cut up and hurtin’.

Then the Boss did somethin’ real weird. She reached up and caught his face in both of her hands and kissed him, real gentle-like. Then she put her arms around him and just held him close, as though she could make all his pain go away.

They didn’t say a word as she took him by the hand and led him into the house, and then … well, let’s just say it was the first time I spent the night on that damn’ porch.

After that, life just kinda went a little crazy.

The next thing you know, they’re gettin’ married. Now we hounds don’t go a whole heap on this ‘luuuuurve’ thing, but humans are different. Life is a whole lot easier for dogs – we just find a lady who takes our fancy, and if she likes you, then … well, nature takes its course and ‘bout nine weeks later, wham-bam, a passel of pups. Now that’s what I call normal. But humans? Nope. They go for all this romantic stuff, and courtin’, and fussin’ and the like.

Because before you know it, the Boss is in whelp. I know, I know – strange, huh? It just seems to be a helluva lot of hassle just to have a young ‘un.

Mind you, a lot happened afterwards. First of all, the Boss didn’t know she was havin’ a baby when she got shot in that bank heist. Then she and Josiah found out and Josiah went kinda crazy, because the docs at the hospital thought she couldn’t have kids, and then gettin’ shot didn’t do her a whole lot of good. It was a dark time, I can tell you.

But thank God he had the rest of ‘em to take care of him, because he was mighty close to losin’ it, until the Boss came out of it. Boy was she glad he had the six of ‘em. She kinda treats ‘em like family, because it’s kind of what they are, to her and to each other.

And when Josiah was hurt just before the little ‘un was born they looked after her and Josiah both, bless ‘em.

So now I got Rosie to look after too. She’s my girl, my darlin’ sweetheart, and I can tell you now she’s the light of my life. I’ve taken care of her since the day she came home, because Josiah was laid up and couldn’t take care of the Boss and Rosie. So I took over the job.

And that’s what I’ve been doin’ ever since.

We have good times and bad times, lazy days and days where all hell breaks loose. And sometimes things are just plain funny – I mean funny ha-ha, not funny peculiar. Like the time Buck and Ez were baby-sittin’. All I can say is that the ceilin’ in the livin’ room ain’t never been the same since. Remind me to tell you about it sometime. Jeez, the Boss was madder than a wet hen – you could tell, because she had that look on her face that said ‘Dead meat’, and all of the fellers know that look and usually high-tail it to the nearest hill.

Ah well – s’pose I’d better get back to work. Rosie an’ me are practisin’ worm-eatin’ this afternoon, and then maybe we’ll get in a session of slidin’ in the mud-pile at the back of the house. Human pups ain’t nowhere near as borin’ as the grown-ups. They’re more like us dogs – give us a patch of somethin’ good and stinky to roll in and we’re happy.

Yup. Life is good, my friends.

Just wish I didn’t have to sleep on that damn’ porch …


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