To Lethe and Tartarus
Chris mounted his horse outside the saloon and looked down at Buck with a scowl. The ladies' man knew exactly what was going through his friend's mind. The peacekeepers were a man short and there had been a few occasions recently when he would have come in useful. The missing person was Ezra and he'd been out of communication for two weeks since he'd sent a message to Chris to say he was on his way home. The gunfighter was furious at the man's non-arrival and his anger had been growing with each passing day.
Before heading out of town on patrol, Chris picked up his reins loosely and said to Buck, "He'd better not show his face in town again or he'll regret it. He's run out on us once too often."
"We don't know that's what he's done, Chris," Buck said reasonably.
"You reckon? He can't be trusted Bucklin and I'm not taking it any more." The black clad man kicked his horse in irritation and loped out of town.
Buck watched him go and shook his head sadly. Ezra sure knew how to get Chris riled. He hoped that the gambler would tread carefully when, or if, he did return. The con man had gone to sort out some business with his mother and Chris had jumped to conclusions when he hadn't come home. He assumed Ezra would never return but Buck was becoming increasingly concerned about the gambler's welfare. If Ezra said he was coming back it was unlike him not to keep to his word. Why send a message if he had no intention of returning? Buck had even contacted Maude to make sure her son had indeed left her and she replied to say he had departed just after sending his telegram to Chris. So the gambler had been gone from town for a month in total and Buck knew all was not well.
The tall gunman set off back to the jail and saw Bill the telegram operator running toward him from the opposite side of the street. The ladies' man stopped and let the man catch up after hearing his name being called.
"Mr. Wilmington. This telegram came for Mr. Larabee but I see he's just left town. It is important so I thought I'd better give it to you instead."
"Thanks, Bill," Buck said gratefully as he flipped a coin to the man and took the offered note. He stood quietly and read the message before resuming his journey to the jail at pace. Townsfolk in his path parted like the Red Sea when they saw him hurrying toward them with a determined look on his face.
"JD?" he shouted as he crashed through the door and looked round the room anxiously.
The kid was asleep in the chair behind the desk but started awake at the interruption. "What? What's the matter?" he stuttered as he sat up properly and removed his feet from the desk.
"I'm going to Eagle Bend, kid. Ezra's turned up there. Stay here, will ya and tell Chris where I've gone and why? Read this telegram. It'll tell ya all you need to know." Buck put the telegram on the desk and ran back out onto the boardwalk. He headed to the livery to collect his horse and then loped out of town.
He made haste to Eagle Bend and rode along the dusty main street anxiously. He tied his horse outside the jail and hurried inside. The badge-toting individual sitting behind the desk looked up and smiled as the ladies' man. Buck nodded in greeting and said, "Sheriff? I've come about Ezra."
"Glad yer here, Wilmington. He's in the saloon. I'd better come with you." The man reached for his coat and hat and put them on as he walked along the street with Buck.
The two men entered the saloon and stood just inside the batwing doors as the Sheriff sought out his quarry. He pointed Ezra out and they approached the gambler quietly. Buck studied his friend as he walked toward him. As he drew near, the ladies' man could see Ezra looked pale, hollow-cheeked and distinctly sick. He wouldn't have recognized his friend if his back had been facing him. His clothes were totally different and his hair was longer than usual. It was obvious he hadn't shaved for ages and he now sported a very untidy beard and mustache. He looked like any normal cowhand which Ezra would have been mortified to have known.
The Sheriff reached out a hand and patted Ezra's shoulder to get his attention. "Hey there. A friend of yours has come from Four Corners. His name's Buck Wilmington."
Ezra flinched at the touch and raised his head slowly and carefully as if he expected to be hit. He looked warily at the Sheriff first and then moved his eyes to stare at Buck blankly. The ladies' man smiled and sat down at the table after nodding to the Sheriff to say he would deal with his friend.
"Do I know you?" the gambler asked as he frowned uncertainly at the man sitting with him.
"Yeah. We're peacekeepers in Four Corners long with five other men. Do you remember? Can you tell me your name?"
Ezra just stared at him in confusion and shook his head quickly. Buck put out a hand and patted his shoulder comfortingly. Ezra looked at the hand on his shoulder and then followed the arm up until his gaze reached Buck's face.
As the gambler's eyes finally met his again, the ladies' man said, "Your name's Ezra Standish. Look, do ya wanna come back to Four Corners with me? It may help you remember things."
"I s'pose," the gambler said uncertainly. "What's your name again?" he asked as he blinked rapidly and frowned. Why can't I remember? I'm sure he told me his name earlier.
"Buck," the ladies' man repeated calmly although he felt less than calm inside. He was becoming increasingly alarmed at his friend's behavior. "Look, I'll be back in a minute. Are you alright on yer own?"
Ezra nodded as he watched the ladies' man rise and approach the Sheriff at the counter. The gambler thought that Buck seemed friendly and kind but he couldn't remember him at all.
Buck rested one elbow on the top of the bar and turned to face the man beside him. "Do ya know what happened to him?" he asked worriedly.
"Na. He was brought into town early this morning by some cowpokes. They'd found him wandering on foot on their range. He couldn't tell them who he was or what had happened to him. They thought it best to bring him into town. Anyway, I saw him arrive and recognized him straight away despite his current appearance and sent a telegram to Larabee."
"Has the Doc looked at him?" Buck asked as he looked back at his friend who was sitting quietly at the table. Ezra sat fiddling with his whiskey glass while looking around the room in puzzlement.
"Yeah. Took him there as soon as he arrived but he can't do nothing for him. He found a head wound that hadn't been treated so we assume that had something to do with his memory loss. The wound was dirty and infected but the Doc has cleaned and stitched it. Don't know what caused it though but he thought it may have been a bullet," the Sheriff explained.
"Is it okay to take him home with me?"
"Yeah sure. No point him staying here."
Buck moved back to Ezra. The gambler looked very uneasy as the ladies' man sat down next to him and Buck wondered if he'd forgotten who he was again. Ezra jumped as another customer bumped into him accidentally. He looked round worriedly and moved his chair nearer to the table as he watched the man walk away from him. The customer was totally oblivious to the fear he had created in the gambler.
Buck tapped the gambler on the shoulder to get his attention. "Are you ready to go home?" he asked patiently as he smiled to try to ease the man's fears.
"Four Corners. I told you earlier. Do you remember?" Buck said gently while watching his friend closely.
Ezra looked at the door and then around the room with darting eyes and a frown. He seemed to be looking for a quick escape but he eventually settled his gaze back on Buck after a minute had passed. He was breathing fast and appeared panicky as he raised a hand to his mouth and chewed a nail apprehensively. "I don't remember. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he said dejectedly.
"It's alright, Ez. Don't fret. Perhaps you'll recall things when you get back to familiar surroundings." He patted Ezra's back and rose slowly. Ezra looked up at him and frowned again but did get up to follow him out of the saloon.
"Let's get you tidied up first." Buck led the man to the bathhouse and then took him to the barber's for a haircut and shave. It took some convincing on Buck's part to get Ezra to allow the barber to approach him with his scissors. The gambler leapt up from the chair and tried to get away when he first saw him.
"Ezra? There's nothin' to be scared of. He's just gonna cut yer hair." The ladies' man put an arm around the gambler's back and tried to usher him toward the chair again. Ezra leaned back against him and dug his heels into the floor to stop the forward motion. Buck could feel the man trembling so he decided to wait until another customer had been dealt with first. When Ezra saw that the client left the chair with all his limbs still attached, he was at last persuaded that the barber intended him no harm.
"He's got a head wound," the ladies' man informed the barber before sitting down to wait.
"Okay. I'll take care not to touch it."
Buck watched nervously as the barber finished with his friend's hair and turned away for his shaving equipment. How's Ezra gonna react to being shaved? Will he freak out again? he wondered. He soon found out. The gambler turned white and whimpered as he stared at the cut-throat razor in the barber's hand.
"Come on, Ez. He ain't gonna hurt ya. Do ya wanna go round all hairy?"
"Please don't make me. I don't want to," Ezra pleaded as he gripped the arms of the chair tightly until his knuckles showed white.
"Don't ya trust my word, pard? I told ya he won't hurt ya, Ez. He'd have gone outta business if he killed off all his customers, wouldn't he?" Buck could see immediately that he'd used the wrong choice of words and he cursed heartily. At the mention of killing, Ezra was off and out the door as if all the hounds of Hell were biting at his heels. Buck flipped the barber some money and ran out after the gambler. Least he's half tidy, Buck thought to himself as he stood on the boardwalk and scanned the street for his frightened friend.
The ladies' man finally caught sight of him hurrying toward the far end of town. Buck broke into a run and drew alongside Ezra and slowed down to walk beside him. He looked across at his friend and saw the desperate look on his face. "Where ya going, pard?" he asked gently.
"Going home, going home," Ezra babbled quietly.
"Well, yer heading in the wrong direction and you can't walk there neither, it's too far. Where's yer horse?" Buck asked, although he knew Ezra wouldn't know the answer. He reached out a hand and pulled Ezra to a halt. The gambler leapt away from him and slammed up against the window of the building they were passing. Buck raised his hands and took a step backwards. "Sorry Ez. Didn't mean to startle ya. Are you okay?"
Ezra stood up straight without answering and started walking quickly back the way he'd come. He kept a few steps ahead of Buck and if the ladies' man tried to walk beside him, Ezra hastened his pace to stay in front. Buck realized this eventually and stayed slightly behind the gambler.
"I need a horse," Ezra said as he hurried along the boardwalk.
"Yeah, that's right. Do you have one?"
"Let's ask at the livery. Maybe the cowboys lent you one." The ladies' man pointed in the livery's direction but didn't touch Ezra again.
The gambler lost his urge for speed all of a sudden and started walking at a snail's pace as he looked at each passerby apprehensively. Buck was now at least permitted to walk upsides his friend but he felt as though he was in charge of a child. He had to keep giving constant reassurance when something unsettled the man and it took some time to get to their destination with all the interruptions.
Buck caught the hostler's attention as they entered the barn and asked, "Do you know if this man has a horse boarded here?"
"No, he hasn't. I saw him come into town. The cowboys he came in with took the horse he rode back with them."
"What color horse was it he rode in on?"
Buck shook his head. Not Ezra's own horse then. Seeing as Ezra had been found on foot perhaps his horse had been stolen and he'd gained his head wound then, he thought. He sighed and asked the hostler, "Can we hire one of yours?"
"Better make it something gentle, I s'pose," the ladies' man decided as he studied his companion uncertainly. The hostler showed Buck what he considered a suitable mount and the gunman paid for it. "Here ya go, Ez. Use this horse."
Ezra mounted and waited for Buck patiently enough but he still looked totally confused about what was happening. Buck got on his own horse quickly and he indicated for Ezra to pull in beside him. He looked across at his friend and asked, "You okay, pard?"
"Yeah. Where are we going?"
"We're going home, Ez. We're going home," the ladies' man sighed.
The two men rode silently together back to Four Corners. Buck found the situation difficult to handle because he wasn't used to Ezra being so quiet. It was like riding with a stranger. If he asked a question, Ezra never knew the answer. Buck changed tack and attempted to tell him things that might jog his memory but the gambler just stared blankly at him so he eventually gave up trying.
The two men headed to the livery when they reached their hometown and Buck dismounted. He couldn't see Chris's horse in a stall but he hoped the man was back in town somewhere. He really needed to see him before the gunfighter saw Ezra.
"Yosemite? Can you keep an eye on Ezra for me? He's not quite himself and has lost his memory. Take him to the clinic when he's finished with his horse and stay with him, will ya? I need to find Chris before he sees Ezra but I don't wanna leave Ez alone in the clinic. I can't drag him around town with me and he'd only slow me down anyway. Nate's not back from the Henderson's yet, is he?"
"Neither of them are back as far as I know. I'll watch Standish for ya until you return."
Buck turned his attention back to Ezra. "Ezra? Can you stay here and look after the horses for me? Yosemite will take you to the clinic when you've finished. Can you do that, pard?"
Ezra turned and looked at Yosemite apprehensively. His gaze switched between Buck and Yosemite but he finally nodded his head slowly. "Okay. You will come back, won't you? You won't leave me?" he asked worriedly.
"I'll be back soon. I just need to see someone. I'll meet up with you in the clinic, okay? Yosemite will look after you. He's a friend too."
"Can't I come with you? I wouldn't be no bother. I ain't bad," Ezra said as he looked at Yosemite again and changed his mind about being left with the man.
Buck frowned at Ezra's use of language. "No, Ezra. I need you to stay here."
Yosemite approached the two men and held out some candy to the gambler. Ezra looked into his eyes and lifted a hand as if to take the offered treat but suddenly withdrew it again. Yosemite moved the candy closer and nodded his head with a smile. Ezra bit his lip but did take the sweet and shoved it in his mouth quickly. He chewed and then smiled as he relaxed.
"There you are. I told you he was a friend," Buck said softly. He studied his friend and sighed inwardly. What the hell happened to you, Ezra?
Ezra, meanwhile, started unsaddling his horse happily enough and now didn't seem to mind being left with someone he considered a stranger. Buck looked at Yosemite anxiously and nodded before leaving to try to find one of his fellow peacekeepers. After a fruitless trip to the church and Vin's wagon, he headed to the jail.
Five minutes after the ladies' man had left the gambler Chris rode back into town and headed to the livery with his horse. He dismounted and narrowed his eyes as he saw Ezra there. The gambler turned his back on Chris as he brushed his hired horse down. He didn't take any notice of Chris whatsoever and was totally oblivious to the coming storm.
The black clad man stalked angrily over to the gambler and shouted, "Standish? Where the hell have you been?" He put out a hand and swung Ezra round to face him when he didn't get an answer. "Ya ignoring me?" Chris asked as he looked at Ezra curiously and finally noticed his unusual attire and unshaven face.
"What?" the con man replied in confusion.
"I asked you a question." Chris put a hand roughly on the gambler's arm as he spoke.
"Let go of me. Please don't hurt me," Ezra yelled as he backed away, stumbling in the straw in his haste to escape.
"What the hell's the matter with you, Standish?" Chris retorted as he furrowed his brow.
"Mr. Larabee?" Yosemite interrupted worriedly as he approached the two men.
"Not now Yosemite. I've got business with Ezra."
"He's not well."
"You'd better find Nathan then 'cause he's gonna be worse off when I've finished with him. Just leave us be." Chris approached Ezra menacingly as he spoke and the gambler flicked out his derringer and held it shakily. Chris acted quickly and drew his own gun and snapped off a shot. He knew he could take no chances with the gambler. The man was a good shot despite his normal fancy appearance. The gunfighter's bullet hit Ezra in the hand and forced him to drop his gun before he could fire it. Chris launched a fist at the gambler's face and connected hard making Ezra fall beneath him and curl up as he tried to protect himself.
Yosemite had meanwhile run to the jail in the hope of finding someone there to help him. He didn't dare intervene in the dispute any further and he wanted to find one of the other peacekeepers. He heard Buck's voice and he entered the jail breathlessly and managed to gasp out, "I'm sorry, Mr. Wilmington. Larabee's back and he's fighting with Standish. I told him he wasn't well but he wouldn't listen."
"Shit. Come on JD," Buck cursed as he rose swiftly. The two men sprinted to the livery and hurried inside. Buck took in the sight of Chris hitting Ezra hard and he shouted, "Chris! Back away and leave Ezra be."
"He ran out on us Buck. I told you I'd teach him a lesson."
"Leave him be or, so help me God, I'll shoot you." Buck drew his gun as he spoke and Chris heard the distinctive click as the ladies' man pulled back the hammer.
The blond stopped hitting the gambler and looked up at his oldest friend angrily. "Why are you defending him? The bastard can't be trusted."
"He doesn't know who you are, Chris."
"What? Of course he does. Don't be stupid," the gunfighter snapped irritably before Buck could continue.
"I'm telling you, Chris, he doesn't know you. Hell, he can't even remember who he is."
Chris frowned and rose slowly as Buck hurried over to Ezra and knelt down next to him. The ladies' man could see the damage done by Chris's fists to the gambler's face. "Ez? You okay, pard?"
"My hand's bleeding. He hurt me. I asked him not to but he hurt me." Ezra raised the injured appendage and Buck took hold of it carefully in both of his hands. Ezra whimpered at the touch and Buck patted his leg in sympathy.
"Let me see how bad it is, pard." Buck inspected the hand gently and pulled out a handkerchief to staunch the blood. "Did you shoot him?" the ladies' man asked as he turned to Chris angrily when he'd finished his examination.
"He drew on me first. I had to defend myself."
"Shit. You don't know what's going on, Chris. He's scared," Buck said sadly as he turned back to the gambler. "It's alright, Ezra. Come on. Let's get you to the clinic. JD? Tell Chris what happened. Show him the telegram." Buck helped Ezra rise and put an arm around his shoulders protectively as he guided his friend out the door. Ezra turned and looked back at Chris warily before Buck persuaded him to move outside.
Chris turned to JD and snapped, "What the hell was all that about? What telegram?"
"The Sheriff at Eagle Bend sent one to say Ezra had turned up there. He said Ezra didn't know his own name or what had happened to him. Buck was just telling me that he was found wandering on the range and was taken into town by some cowhands. He'd had a head injury at some point and they think it triggered his memory loss. Buck's just collected him and brought him home."
"Jesus Christ." Chris ran a hand over his face wearily. How the hell was I suppose to know? he asked himself. Strike first, ask questions after, that's me.
"I don't think he likes me," Ezra said to Buck as they walked along the boardwalk slowly. The gambler was again looking at every person who came near him and Buck had a hard time keeping him moving.
"You get along well enough most of the time. You just get on his nerves every so often. Don't worry about it. We'll sort it out later."
"Who was he?"
"Chris Larabee. He's one of the peacekeepers that you work with," Buck explained.
"Oh. Are the others like him? Do they like me?" Ezra asked distractedly as he did an abrupt one-eighty turn while studying a rather rough looking Mexican. Buck got hold of his shoulders and turned him round and started him off in the direction of the clinic once more. Ezra kept his head turned to look back over his shoulder at the man who didn't turn a hair at the intense scrutiny he was receiving.
"Yes, of course they like you. They're not all like Larabee. The kid who was in the livery is one of us and you'll meet the rest later. Here we are, up the stairs. Looks like Nathan's back 'cause his door's open."
Ezra was caught up in his own thoughts and didn't speak. Do I really know these men? The one with the mustache seems nice but I'll have to watch the blond. He's unpredictable and I don't trust him.
Buck helped Ezra negotiate the stairs safely when he noticed that the gambler seemed preoccupied. He pushed the clinic door open wide so he could get Ezra through without hitting his injured hand on the way in. Nathan turned round as the two men entered and he grimaced when he saw who it was. The healer approached them but Buck waved him away quickly.
"Buck? When did he get back? What's happened?" the healer asked as he saw the gambler's bruised face and bleeding hand.
Buck sat Ezra down gently on the bed and took the healer to one side with a flick of his head. "He's lost his memory and Chris just shot him in the hand."
"Chris shot him? Why?"
"He didn't know about Ezra's condition. He saw him in the livery and just reacted. You know Chris." Buck approached Ezra again. "Ezra? This is Nathan. He's a healer and another of the peacekeepers. Show him yer hand, pard. He'll make it better."
Ezra hesitated and looked from one man to the other. "Do you like me?" he finally asked Nathan.
The healer frowned and looked at Buck questioningly. Buck sighed and nodded imperceptibly.
"Of course I do, Ezra. Why would you think I didn't?" Nathan was finding it difficult to equate the Ezra he saw before him with the one he knew so well. What had happened to him to produce such a dramatic change in temperament? Nathan shook his head and looked at Buck again.
"The man who shot me didn't like me. He hit me too." Ezra sounded like a sulky child and he had a look on his face to match. His bottom lip pouted and he had a scowl etched on his features.
Nathan squatted down in front of him and smiled. "Well, Buck and I both like you, Ezra. Can I see your hand? It must be painful."
Ezra backed away slightly but met the healer's eyes and smiled shyly. He held out his hand and flinched when Nathan touched it. The healer took off the handkerchief that was covering the wound and looked at it carefully. He turned the hand over and studied the palm before probing with a gentle finger.
"Bullet went straight through. Few bones broke but it'll mend." Nathan rose and found some bandages and whiskey and he set about taking care of his patient.
Buck looked up as the clinic door opened and he saw Chris beckon him outside. He rose to meet his friend but was stopped by a panicked call from the bed.
"Where are you going? I don't want you to go."
"I'm just going outside. Nathan's here with you but I'll leave the door open so you can see me too, okay?" Buck said.
Ezra looked worried but nodded and watched as Buck walked outside onto the balcony and stood next to Chris. Nathan patted Ezra's knee and smiled when the gambler finally transferred his gaze to him rather than Buck.
"Alright, Ez?" the healer asked. "You look like you could do with a shave."
"No. No shave. I don't want one," Ezra shouted as he stood up and moved away from the healer slightly.
"Why not?" Nathan asked quietly.
"I didn't trust him. He cut my hair but I didn't trust him."
"Who Ezra?" Nathan asked as he shook his head in confusion.
"The man," the gambler said insistently as he continued to back away.
"He's talking about the barber in Eagle Bend, Nate. I took him to get a shave but he bolted. You woulda thought the barber intended to slit his throat the way Ezra acted. I had trouble enough getting his hair cut," Buck said from where he'd heard the conversation.
"I'll do it for ya, Ezra. You can't do it yerself now you've hurt ya hand, can ya? Would you trust me to do it?" the healer asked gently as he moved to stand beside his friend. He put out a hand and rubbed the gambler's upper arm to try to calm him down.
Ezra stood by the window and clenched his fists and fidgeted. He looked frantically at Buck who was standing in the doorway and then looked out the window at the street. Buck thought he looked ready to bolt again but Ezra slowly nodded his head and finally looked back at Nathan.
"Alright. It itches," the gambler said as he raised a hand to scratch the offending item to prove his point.
"I bet it does. Come over here and sit tight and I'll do it now." Nathan smiled kindly and patted the gambler's knee when he sat down.
Buck walked back outside and Chris asked, "He okay?"
"His hand will be. Can't say about his mind though. You saw what he was like just then. He needs constant reassurance. He's like a little kid."
"I'm sorry I shot him. He drew on me and I just did what comes naturally. I saw he looked different but I took no notice of Yosemite when he told me he wasn't well. Can Nate do anything to help him?"
"Don't think so. We just have to hope he gets his memory back on his own or he's gonna be like this for the rest of his life. It must be hard for him. He didn't remember his name. Didn't know mine. He's got no past and as far as he can tell he's got no future. He's insecure and doesn't know where the hell he is most of the time." Buck shook his head as he tried to imagine how Ezra must be feeling.
"Do ya think we can jog his memory by taking him back to where he was found? If he was only found today there might be some tracks that Vin could follow," Chris suggested.
"Anything's worth a try, pard. Could you send a telegram to the Sheriff in Eagle Bend and ask which ranch he was found on? We could ask the rancher if he's seen anything strange in the region recently."
"Sure. I'll do that now." The gunfighter blew out a cloud of smoke and stubbed out the cigar he'd been smoking before turning away.
Buck put out a hand and pulled the gunfighter back before he could leave. "Chris? Ezra thinks you hate him. Can you see him at some point to smooth things over? He keeps asking everyone he's introduced to whether they like him or not."
"Yeah alright. I'll come back later." Chris wandered down the stairs and along to the Telegraph Office. He waited for a reply and then ambled to the saloon and sat down next to Vin with a sigh. He took off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair slowly and picked up the whiskey that the sharpshooter put in front of him.
"Hey, cowboy. Heard you had a run in with Ezra." Vin frowned at the look of worry on Chris's face. "Did ya hurt him bad, Chris? Yosemite said you hit his hand but that Ezra drew first."
"Don't remind me about it," Chris said as he swallowed his drink in one go. "Did Yosemite also tell you that Ezra's lost his memory? He didn't know who I was and that's why he drew. I went off the handle as usual and scared him. I saw he was dressed different but I didn't listen to Yosemite when he tried to tell me there was a problem. I just saw red and hit Ezra. He's so unlike the man we know, Vin. He's changed beyond all recognition."
"Yosemite didn't tell me about his mind. Shit. Is he gonna be okay?"
"Buck doesn't think Nate can do anything. He'd had a recent head injury apparently and we think that's what made him forget everything. I've just sent a telegram to Eagle Bend to ask where he was found. Could you come and see whether there are any tracks there that might tell us what happened to him?"
"Sure I'll look but don't get yer hopes up. There's no guarantee, even if we do figure out what happened to him, that he'll remember it," Vin pointed out seriously.
"I know. Well, I've gotta go and see Ez to apologize. See ya later, Vin." The gunfighter rose and walked slowly back to the clinic. He went up the stairs and knocked on the door.
Buck opened it and let Chris in. "Hey Chris. Ezra's asleep at the moment. Nathan doesn't think he's had much to eat recently and he's exhausted. He managed to get him shaved without too much fuss though so at least he looks like he should."
"Nate?" Chris turned to the healer to get more details on the gambler's condition.
"I shouldn't think he's had anything to eat for the past few days and he's very dehydrated too. He just needs to recover some of his strength. He's in pretty poor condition, Chris. I rechecked the head wound too but the Doc in Eagle Bend did a good job with it."
"We were thinking of going out to where he was found. It would be good if he could come with us. It might help his memory. When will he be fit?" Chris asked.
"Look, he needs rest. Tomorrow at the earliest and I'm not overly happy about him going then."
"We need to go as soon as possible before any tracks are destroyed. Get him ready by tomorrow first thing, if ya can, Nate."
"Okay. We're all going are we? If not I wanna go so I can keep an eye on him. It may be a bit of a shock for him if he does suddenly remember what happened to him and he might not be able to handle it. It may be somethin' bad for all we know."
"Sure, Nate. We'll meet at the saloon at first light," the gunfighter smiled and patted the healer's shoulder to placate him.