Disclaimers: They are not mine. I dont make profit from this.
Thanks to my beta Laura and to Angela B.
Fourth in the Dinner series, you may want to read the previous parts; Dinner, For Dinner and Mourning Over Dinner before this one.
Feedback is welcome. (Be kind, Im still learning English)
On the road from Eagle Bend, two figures slowly rode toward Four Corners.
Each one deep in thought;
Going back is easy, leaving is what is going to be complicated. I have become used to the town, to the rest of our dissimilar gang. Maybe I shouldnt tell them Im leaving or anybody else in town. Just send a telegram to the Judge. After all the 30 days term has long ago ended.
Should I try to retain him in town? To have his own gambling establishment is his dream. Am I being selfish by wanting him to stay? I dont want to lose my friend but I also dont want him to lose us; his friends, his job, his home.
Sooner than Inez and Ezra realized, they reached the town. In the livery they took care of their mounts in silence then left for the saloon.
From not so far away, three of the seven observed them arriving, one pair of pale blue eyes from the church, a deeper blue pair from outside the jail, and the last one, also a magnificent blue, from the corner of a building.
Breaths halted when the pretty barmaid gave the gambler a peck on the cheek and, looking into his eyes, said some soft words.
At the gambler's answer, with a nod and a smile, Ezra and Inez proceed through the swinging doors, while a sad spectator let out a whisper: My God, Ive lost her.
Ezra went to his room to unpack his purchases, Inez words echoing in his mind; "Dont leave yet, we need to talk."
Really, his plan was to return to Eagle Bend, but not so soon. He would not rush things.
To change definitively his residence, he would need time. He had accumulated a large amount of possessions in the months he had stayed in Four Corners.
Going back to the saloon, he found Inez behind the bar. Cleaning some debris that looked suspiciously a lot like it had been furniture not so long ago.
"How bad is it?" asked Ezra as he approached the small pile of wood.
"Not so bad, if you think enough about it. I am taking deep breaths and trying to remember that I cant just go and kill Buck." Said Inez with a forced smile.
"Why would you want to kill Buck, aside from the usual reasons, that is?"
"Who else do you know who always go for chairs?" huffed Inez.
Ezra chuckled. Yes, he had noted the fighting behavior of his associates too. Bullet holes were the result of Chris, Nathan would use a well placed knife, Josiah normally used his hands and, occasionally furniture of a heavier kind, like tables.
All of the "Seven" were partial to fists and guns when required, but their personalities were reflected in their battles; Impulsive and somewhat innocent for J.D., resourceful for Vin, impressive for Josiah, imposing and almost cold blooded for Chris, determined for Nathan, mischievous and playful for Buck.
Though Buck had the strength to break furniture and tables like Josiah, the rogue always went for lighter objects. As he put it once, waggling his eyebrows, I have a better way to use my energy that its a lot more fun
Ezra, like Buck, would find the way to avoid the exhaustion, but the gambler would always try to talk himself out of the problem first.
In the past, Ezra had just walked away after starting a riot. Lately, as a member of the Four Corners pacemakers, he had found himself joining the fights to contain the damage and arrest the people responsible.
Shaking his head to clear his mind, he returned to the current matter, "So, my dear, about that important discussion we have pending. Im afraid it will have to wait until Ill come back from the evening patrol."
"O.K." shouted Inez from the other side of the room. She had not stopped cleaning and re-positioning all that was out of place.
The gambler went to the swinging doors, but turned back to address his friend,
"Perhaps we could talk over dinner? What do you say if I treat you to a repast at the hotels restaurant?"
With a smile, Inez put down the cleaning rag and walked across the room to get closer to her friend. "Ill say that its a date Mr. Standish."
Ezra left the saloon and with a quick salute to J.D., who was sitting near the doors, went to the livery in search of a fresh mount to patrol the outskirts.
While on his rounds, the Southerner continued to ponder the benefits and disadvantages of staying in Four Corners.
Unfortunately, the benefits were all of sentimental nature while all the disadvantages turned around monetary gain. Their escapades and services to the town usually left his attire in need of reparations. And proper cleaning had a high cost in a town like this.
The payment for their pacemaker role was not enough to cover his expenses and by the lack of leisure time that his responsibilities tolled, the profit he acquired in poker games was seldom of enough importance.
Hence his actual situation, he had not enough money to buy Mr. Dylls place in Eagle Bend.
Nevertheless he was planning to depart.
A short time later, a shape riding toward him caught his attention. By the horse and the body frame Ezra knew it was Buck.
The mustached man got close enough to explain, "Were riding out of town. The others are waiting."
At that, Buck headed south at a gallop.
The gambler let out a sigh, throwing a quick glance toward Four Corners he whispered, "Sorry" and galloped after Buck.
Ezra had planned to return to town early and have dinner at one of the town establishments for this reason he lacked a proper attire, supplies, or his own horse for this ride.
If he was lucky, there would be sufficient water to re-fill his canteen wherever Vin chose to stop, if they stopped Only, he would have to count on the others to share their rations. As he was already tired from the ride back from Eagle Bend and doing his patrol Ezra hoped they would gain enough ground on their enemy that there would be time for them to camp tonight.
Chris might not let a fire be lit if he and Vin believed that they were too close to their prey. If they stopped and had to cold camp he would freeze unless, maybe, one of his compatriots would have a spare blanket that he could use. Ezra was aware that these were a lot of ifs and maybes, but he had no option. He would have to depend on the others, something he didnt want to do. This was his own fault he had failed to fulfill his motto, to "always be prepared".
The already traveling posse didnt stop when both, Ezra and Buck, reached them.
They fell easily in their usual positions. Buck joined the bunch covering the right side. Ezra stayed at the rear to cover their backs, but slightly to the left, after all he was ambidextrous.
The "Magnificent Seven" rode like a live entity, side by side, fanning out and folding in at the same time.
Showing off his riding abilities and without breaking pace, J.D., managed to get level with the gambler.
"Here, these are for you," he said handing Ezra a full canteen and his saddlebags. Before the gambler could thank him, J.D. continued, "Vin got your spare blanket"
Ezra smiled and just nodded, allowing J.D. to go on. "I told Inez we were leaving," informed the young man. "She sent you a bundle." He gestured toward his saddlebags, and then headed toward the middle of the posse again.
The gambler chuckled and gave J.D. his habitual salute.
Maybe Inez is right and the reasons for me to stay in Four Corners are stronger than the ones to leave maybe