JD to the Rescue
With special thanks to Shannon and Carolyn whose help was invaluable.
This is a belated birthday story for Phyllis
It was a long trip and the men were tired. The babbling of the river gave the men a feeling of contentment. It was decided that their return to Four Corners would wait until they had a good nights' rest. It was agreed they would camp for the night where the trees offered shelter and the river was bountiful to quench their thirst.
The river flowed with a gentle grace giving off a sound that was like a whisper calling the horses to its shores. While the horses got their fill, the men settled down and made camp. JD and Buck gathered wood and kindling for the fire, while the others set up camp placing saddles around the area that the fire would soon heat with its glorious flame. Bed rolls were laid out and grub made ready to be cooked for the evening's meal. It wasn't long before the rich aroma of coffee filled the air and seven tired men laid back upon their saddles to enjoy the quite and friendship they shared.
While the full moon watched over the sleeping men. Standish kept watch for any trouble that might befall them. Two hours later the watch exchanged hands and this continued until early morning. With the break of day came the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and the stirring of men rising to greet the new day.
The sun was just beginning to trek across the sky as Larabee and his men headed on to Four Corners in comfortable silence. But as they got closer to home the hair on Larabee's neck stood up giving him warning that trouble was awaiting them.
"Something's not right Vin, you and Nathan go check out the town and watch your backs," Chris said.
"Always do," Vin said as he gave a slight nod before heading out.
Nathan and Vin entered the town carefully, making their way to the livery where they left their mounts. Both men could tell that something was wrong, they just couldn't figure out what it was. They stealthily left the livery, checking each building as they went for any thing out of place.
"Vin." Nathan nodded toward the back door of the saloon. Then he eased himself through the door and headed for the bar. He was about to enter the main room when Inez saw him. She shook her head slightly, warning him as one of the gun men was headed in his direction. Inez let a bottle of whiskey fall from her hand, shattering the bottle to create a distraction and giving Nathan time to get away.
As Vin and Nathan were hurrying away from the back of the saloon a shadow appeared behind them. Little did they know that on the roof of the building was a man watching their every move.
The soft crunch of the hard-packed dirt alerted Vin to the men coming around the corner of the building. Immediately, he stopped and started to reverse directions only to find that escape route blocked as well. They were surrounded.
"Well it's real nice of you two to drop by. Now if you'll just hand over your guns and walk this way." One of the men said as he led them to the jail.
Back on the trail where the others waited, Chris was growing anxious with every minute that past until he could wait no longer. He turned to the young sheriff, "Listen JD, I want you to go and see what help you can find. Try the Cartwright's. Tell Ben we need him and his boys to come right away."
"OK Chris, be back soon." JD replied as he hurried over to his horse.
"Buck you and Ezra go try to find Vin and Nathan and bring them back here. If you're not back in a couple of hours Josiah and I will come looking."
"Don't you worry Chris we won't come back without them and we will be back. Mark my words." Buck said.
"Yes, Sir Mister Larabee you can bet the house on it." Ezra said.
Leaving the horses behind, Ezra and Buck made their way in to town and went in search of Nathan and Vin. Agreeing to meet back at the livery, Buck headed to the saloon to check on Inez while Ezra went to the bank to check on the banker. Buck carefully entered the alley intending to enter from the back door when he was trapped by men in red shirts coming from both ends of the passage.
"Well look what we have here boys, another one for our collection. Burt that would make three now wouldn't it."
"Where do you suppose the rest of them are? Here tell there are seven all together." Burt said.
"Who ever told you that lied to you no good dumb ass good for nothings." Buck growled as he was punched in the stomach and his knees folded.
While Buck was being led to the jail as Ezra was checking the bank. As he was looking in the side window a gun appeared next to his head.
"Know all about you Gambler now don't try anything stupid release the gun in your sleeve nice and easy." Release the gun in your sleeve nice and easy," the man said as another man carefully pulled Ezra's gun from the holster on his hip.
Doing as he was told Ezra released his derringer and then he too was marched off to the jail.
As the second hour came to a close, Josiah and Chris couldn't help but wonder what happened to the others. From their vantage point, they could see that no one else had entered or left the town. Chris grew increasingly more agitated as he glared at the cluster of buildings. Finally, he ground his cheroot into the dirt and headed for his horse.
They made it into town without being noticed. Josiah went to Mrs. Potter's store while Chris checked on Mary. Josiah entered the back door of Mrs. Potter's and crept his way toward the front. As he nudged the curtain aside with the barrel of his gun, he saw a man in a red shirt sitting on the counter with a gun aimed at the shopkeeper. Sighing in resignation, he let the heavy gun hang from his finger and stepped into the room.
"Why, hello Preacher. Nice of you to stop by. Your gun please; and just where are the others?" the man asked as he slipped the weapon into his belt.
"Don't know what you're talking about. I just got into town and needed some supplies." Josiah lied.
"I know there are two more of you. Now where are they, Preacher?"
"I travel alone. Sir don't know anybody from this town. Never been here before today." Josiah said.
"Burt take him to the jail. We'll see if they don't know each other. And if they do know you, you won't be able to stand when I get through with you," the man threatened as he motioned with his gun. Josiah gave Gloria a nod to convey that he didn't hold her responsible for what had happened.
Chris watched from the shadows as Josiah was led away. He headed on to Mary's hoping that she was alone. He climbed the side of the building and went in the bedroom window. From there he made his way down to her office. He made eye contact with her only to be warned off as two men in red shirts entered the front door.
"Well ma' am we just need two more and that will complete the set. After all it is seven of them that watch over this town is it not?" the man named Jake asked.
"I don't know who told you that but there are no men who watch over this town." Mary said as she put the box of typeset letters on the shelf to hide her nervous reaction to having Chris so near.
This angered the men. Jake pulled back and slapped her for the bold lie. Hearing the slap Chris' anger grew and he almost came out of hiding to comfort the man. After the man left, Mary sighed and waited until it was safe to find Chris. She explained to him what happen while they were gone and how the group of men had taken control of the town. Assuring Mary that he would free the others and deal with the strangers, Larabee left by the back door and headed to the livery. Unfortunately, Jake and his men laid in wait. Now with the leader of the seven in their grips all they needed was the youngest. Jake and his men did not fear the young sheriff, they were confident that he could do nothing to stop them
JD was headed for the Cartwright's when he spotted a wagon being held up by two men. Not knowing what to expect he took cover in the trees. As they past he noticed Ben Cartwright and his boys being led back to town. Wondering what was going on JD followed the small group and watched as they headed to the grain exchange where they locked them up.
He noticed a third man standing guard in front of the building which got him to wondering just what was going on. The young Sheriff of Four Corners carefully made his way around to Mrs. Potter's store. Out back Amanda was hanging the clothes her mother had just washed when a hand covered her mouth to keep her from screaming. JD Dunne turned her until she could see him then warned her to be quite before removing his hand.
"Amanda, who are these men?"
"Oh, Sheriff I'm so glad to see you. Wait until I tell mother."
"NO, no you can't tell anybody I was here. Now tell me what's going on?"
"There's a gang of them and they rode in not long after you left and took over the town. They locked up all the men and boys only the women and girls are allowed to walk around town and even then they watch us pretty close," the teenager confided.
"I'll be back but remember don't tell anyone you saw me. Promise?"
"Where are you going? Please don't leave," she begged, holding on to his arm.
"I'll be back with help. Now promise you won't tell?'
JD slowly made his way back to his horse behind the grain exchange and headed out for Nettie Wells place. The young sheriff stayed off the road as he worked his way to the Well's ranch. As he was coming over the crest of a hill, he saw two men in red shirts rode riding toward town. JD crept into the barn where he left Milagro with feed and water.
Keeping to the far side of the little ranch house where it was hard to be seen from the road Dunne moved carefully until he was at the back door. As he peeked in the window---- it appeared that the woman was alone, so he quietly opened the door and called out to Nettie.
"Miz Nettie, it's me JD. Are you alone?"
"Land sakes boy were did you come from?" Nettie replied.
Just then Casey walked into the kitchen and before JD could say or do anything she had him in a bear hug.
"JD, I'm so happy to see you" she looked out the window for the others but no one was there. "Where're the others? Don't tell me you're all alone."
"Casey child let the boy talk, JD tell us what is going on."
JD relayed to Casey and Nettie all he knew and how help was to far away. Putting their heads together they came up with a plan for JD to take out some of the bandits in town.
Much to JD's dismay the best plan they could come up with called for him to dress like a woman.
Nettie and Casey looked in their closets for just the right outfit that would fit JD It took the better part of the day to work out details on how he would get back to town as well as mix with the other women. As the day progressed Casey decided that she was going along. It took both Nettie and JD to convince her to stay behind.
"Here ya go, JD, this one should fit ya," Casey said as she laid a blue gingham dress across the back of the chair. "What's that? I'm not wearin' no frilly hat, Casey!" JD exclaimed indignantly. "But it goes with the dress!" Casey protested. "Besides you need something to hide your face".
"JD, if you're going to pass as girl you're going to need a shave." Nettie interjected.
"Oh no, you know how long it took me to grow this beard? Nothin' doing, not going to happen no ma' am." An hour later JD got up from the kitchen chair with a freshly shaved face.
After changing into the dress, JD came out of the back room. Almost immediately, Casey burst out laughing. Following the direction of her gaze, he looked down at his boots, "Aw, hell." Casey rooted around in her closet until she came out with a pair of low heeled ladies boots, with buttons instead of laces.
Struggling to stuff his feet into the too-small boots, JD stood unsteadily, his arms held out widely for balance. "Okay, walk around, I wanna see how you look," Casey urged. Awkwardly, JD clomped around at the foot of the bed, feeling more and more foolish by the second. "No, no, no, you got it all wrong. JD, if you want them to think you're a woman you gotta walk like one. Here, watch me," Casey said. JD sighed in irritation, cocking his hands on his hips as the petite brunette strode back and forth in front of him. "And when you get to flirtin' with 'em you gotta do this," she said, demonstrating. JD watched as Casey bounced her hip, curling her shoulder and dropping her chin suggestively. "Oh hell no!" JD said, disgust clear on his face, "I ain't doing that!"
"JD if you want this to work you have to be able to fool them and this," Casey showed him again, "will help." Reluctantly he agreed and began to walk back and forth until he got the hang of it. It was pretty near supper time when JD headed for town.
As he approached Four Corners he almost ran into one of the red shirt bandits. Deciding the odds would be better if he took the man out Dunne dismounted and lay in the middle of the road as if he were hurt. The rider got closer until he dismounted and came to check on the 'young woman.' Suddenly the man found himself staring into the barrel of a gun. JD carefully got up took the man's guns and marched him into the trees. When they were in far enough he tied and gagged him, leaving him there.
Sneaking into town was easier than he thought. He circled around and came in behind Mary Travis' place. Carefully he made his way to the front of the Clarion and then headed down the boardwalk. Taking a causal walk around the town he took in where his prey was and decided to begin with the two men sitting in front of the saloon. JD headed back to the livery to set up his trap.
Praying that Tiny wouldn't be too upset at him for borrowing his things, JD carefully placed another horseshoe into the burlap sack. It was beastly heavy but it would do the trick, knocking out the bad guy. It took him a while to rig the trap, using a ball of twine he found in the tack room of the livery. While he was working on that, he laid the long, steel bars into the forge, giving the bellows a couple of squeezes to heat up the fire. Finally, everything was ready.
Taking a deep breath and praying he didn't fall on his face, JD sashayed across the boardwalk in front of the saloon. Two of the men were sitting outside of the saloon watching the road and looked up as he stopped a few feet away. Smoothing the front of the gingham dress, JD worked up the nerve to cock his hip and give it a little bounce. "There's simply nothing to do with all the men either locked up or lookin' out," he said in a breathy whisper, "A girl could simply go mad from boredom." Both of the men rose from their chairs, exchanging a glance. "Well I'm sure we could find something to alleviate the boredom," one of them said. Covering his mouth and giving a high-pitched giggle, JD stepped forward, wrapping his hand around the man's bicep and turning him toward the livery. Imitating the way Casey had shown him, he kept his chin down near his shoulder as he called out to the other man, "Aren't you coming along?"
Leading them past the livery and around toward where Tiny did his blacksmithing, JD prayed that his trap worked. He wasn't too sure he could run in the boots he was wearing. His appreciation for women and the clothing they wore increased incrementally. Slipping his hand free of the man's arm, JD stepped into the dimly lit room, his hand automatically groping for the twine he had pegged to the inside of the door. He gave the line a pull, ducking as the burlap sack swung past him to connect soundly with the first man's head. Spinning around, JD took a stumbling run at the forge as the second man began to curse at seeing his friend knocked out. He stepped over the prone body, glaring angrily. "You're gonna be sorry when I get my hands on you," he warned as he advanced on JD.
Wrapping his hands around the end of the steel bar, JD lifted it and held it out almost like a medieval sword. The man grinned like a fool, thinking that he would easily overpower the homely-looking girl. JD swung and, just as he expected, the man caught the bar with his bare hand. It took several seconds for the pain receptors in his brain to react; suddenly, the man let go of the bar, his mouth wide open as he gasped and flung the bar away. JD was ready, he swung the heavy tree limb that Tiny kept around to prop something open, taking the other man solidly in the ribs. His attacker's gasp died in his throat as he fell back. JD pounced, quickly tying the man's hands and feet together like in a calf roping contest and stuffing the man's own bandana in his mouth for a gag. The other man was starting to rouse until a quick jab to his jaw sent him into oblivion again.
Dunne rubbed his hands together thinking, 'three down, now whose next?' As he walked down the boardwalk he overheard two of the men talking.
"Think I'll catch a few winks before the gold shipment gets here."
Hearing this JD new knew who his next victim would be. All that was needed now was getting everything set up. Sneaking in the back of the saloon JD grabbed the bucket that Inez used for cleaning the floors and headed for the outhouse.
Holding his breath, JD dropped the bucket into hole in the outhouse. When he pulled it up, he held it well away from his body. His plan was simple, lure the bad guy into the hall, then squeeze out the door without jarring the bucket. He had no doubt that the guy would fling the door open, showering himself with the foul contents.
When the trap was set, JD snuck down to the room where he knew one of the men was taking a nap. He knocked on the door. Easing it open, he stuck one arm in, hoping that the ruffles and lace on the dress sleeve would cause the man to think it was one of the women. "Well, well, come on in here, darlin' and let's have us some fun," the man said as he sat up on the bed. JD's face tightened in a snarl for a moment, until he remembered what he had seen one of the saloon girls do. Grateful that he'd taken Casey advice and worn the lacey bloomers, he tugged up the hem of the dress and stuck his leg through the opening, pointing his toes in the ladies boots. Running his hand up from his knee, he quickly retreated when the man rose and started for the door. "Aww, don't be like that darlin'! Come on back here," the man called as he stepped into the hall, just in time to see his quarry slip into the room at the end of the hall. He tossed the door open, the lecherous smile on his face fading as soon as the foul mess hit the top of his head. An instant later, the condense of the bucket struck him, sending him to the floor in a heap. As he tried to get up JD hit him with a chair.
Wrinkling his nose in distaste at having to handle the man the way he smelled, JD tied the man up and dragged him into the closet. After shaking the pillow out of its case, he used the material for a gag. He turned the key, locking the closet before hurrying away.
Now with four men out of the picture the young sheriff needed another plan. This time what he needed was in Billy's bedroom. So he headed over to Mary's slinking in the back door and up to Billy's room where he found the small bag of marbles on top of a chest of draws.
JD took the marbles down to the Clarion and spilled them on the floor of Mary's office. When he had everything to his liking he went in search of his next victim.
Across the street two of the men were just coming out of the restaurant as approached letting his hips sway form side to side JD leaned against one of the porch posts. Smiling demurely, he called out to them, "would one of you big strong fellows be so kind as to lend me a hand?" To JD's irritation both men crossed the street. He had planned for only one. Turning quickly he hurried toward the Clarion office wracking his brain for another plan. Looking in the window of the Clarion office he saw Mary Travis looking at him with a large frying pan clutched in her hands. Drawing a deep breath JD opened the door and carefully set his foot between the marbles. He and Mary exchanged a glance and held up two fingers. Mary nodded.
The first man entered the Clarion and put his foot squarely on top of the marbles. Immediately, he began to slip, reaching for JD as he fell. The silence of the room was filled with the of cloth tearing. JD gasped as Casey dress ripped along a seam. Recovering quickly, JD landed a solid blow to the man's jaw sending him to the floor. The second man, startled at his partner's demise opened his mouth to shout an alarm. Mary swung the skillet, striking the man a glancing blow to the side of his head. He stumbled, reaching for the blonde women. Mary swung again, this time catching the back of his head and knocking him senseless.
Together, they quickly hog-tied the men. They worked together to drag the unconscious bodies to the door that led to the root cellar below Mary's kitchen. They rolled the bodies down the steps and left them where they landed. Mary closed the cellar door.
JD looked down in dismay at the tattered remains of Casey's dress. "Oh man, she's gonna kill me. This was her best dress. "Mary offered him an alternate solution.
Thirty minutes late, JD left the Clarion dressed in one of Mary's dresses. He still wore the bonnet Casey had given him to cover his hair.
Six men down. And now he was back on the street heading for his next target. With a wiggle here a wiggle there Dunne attracted another of the men in red. Carefully he led the man to the ice house he entered the building and quickly stepped to the side as the man followed him in. Dunne surprised him with an upper cut right to the jaw. He fell like a ton of bricks. Taking the rope that he placed on a block of ice earlier he tied him up.
The odds were getting better and better all the time as JD Dunne kept taking out the bad guys; but it was time to draw things to an end. Since there were only five men left as far as he was able to tell.
JD stood on the edge of the loft, licking his lips nervously as he waited. It hadn't taken much to set Peso to kicking and neighing, bringing some of the men to check on the livery. He wasn't disappointed, the door opened and the men peered in, looking for whatever had the black gelding kicking the walls of his stall. Guns drawn, they crept along the wide aisle, looking into each stall as they passed. When JD gauged that they were in position, he took a deep breath and prepared to swing.
The man in the red shirt looked up, his eyes widening in surprise at the sight of the comely girl standing in the loft. At first, he started to smile at her, he had seen her wandering up and down the boardwalk earlier but he was watching the men in the grain exchange and couldn't go out to talk to her. The rest of the women in town had avoided his gaze and generally stayed indoors after the men were gathered up. The smile slid from his face as the girl gripped the rope and began to sail toward him.
With his sweaty hands clenched so tightly that they hurt, JD waited for the jerk that he knew was coming. He saw the smile change to a look of horror on the man's face as he swooped down on him. JD had one foot in the loop at the end of the rope; he lashed out with the other foot, knocking the man backwards. The second man stepped out of the way an instant faster and avoided JD's attack. Spinning slowly on the rope, JD came back toward the man, who had drawn his weapon and was getting ready to shoot. As he was bracing for the pain he knew was coming, the man with the gun suddenly cried out. When JD dropped from the rope, the man was holding his shoulder, cursing. Peso had reached over the gate and latched on to the man's body with his big yellow teeth, biting hard enough to draw blood and forcing the man to drop the gun. JD dove for it, managing to catch hold of the barrel before the man recovered enough to try for it himself. The man raised his hands slowly, realizing that he'd been caught. After tying the second man up, JD looked for the first man. To his horror, the man with the red shirt had fallen against the hay rake, its tines protruding obscenely from the man's bloody chest. JD shuddered as he pulled the body free. He shoved it toward the pile of used straw and manure that the livery hands had only that morning removed from the stalls. Using the bloody fork, he covered the body.
With only three men left to capture JD set his last plan into motion...
Dropping pebbles on the roof, JD baited the men in the jail. Finally, the one in charge sent his men out to see what was going on. Shifting the edge of the net in his hands, JD waited patiently but it was hard. He kept glancing down to where he had left his horse, loosely tethered. If he timed it right, he could get the rope tied to the saddle horn and send the animal down the street while he took out the boss. Closer and closer, the men stood on the steps, glancing around for the source of the strange noises. JD grinned, he knew just how to get them into position. Drawing a deep breath, he blew a wad of spit. The wind caught it, bringing it right back to strike one of the men in the face. "What the hell?" The man said as he wiped his face. Both men stepped off of the boardwalk and right into position. With a rebel yell, JD leapt, dropping the net over them. Scrambling to his feet, he grabbed the rope and ran for his mount. He looped the rope around the horn, giving the reins a quick tug. Giving the gelding an open-handed slap on the rump, he sent the horse off at a run. The men were still struggling with the net when it jerked them off of their feet. Neither of them had even cried out.
With the two men being dragged down the street and out of town JD was left with only the boss to take out. Going back to where he stashed his guns behind the rain barrel earlier, he hastily buckled his belt loosely around his hips and headed for the jail. He gathered his skirt in his hands and crept quietly onto the boardwalk.
Hearing a horse galloping down the road Jake came out of the jail to see what is going on. When he steps out the door he walked right into the barrel of a gun. "Raise them high, Mister." Dunne says as he sticks the gun in the man's stomach. Larabee and the others are watching in disbelief as JD takes the man's guns, then leads him to a jail cell.
Snagging the keys to the cells, JD unlocks the outer door. He gives Jake a shove as he reaches out to unlock one of the inner doors. Buck takes JD's gun and covers him while the others step out of the cell. Motioning with the gun, Buck forces Jake into the cell. JD opens the other door, releasing the others.
"Hey Chris, doesn't that dress look familiar?" Buck asked.
"He sure do look purty, don't he?" Vin added as JD began to blush.
Nathan crossed the jail, reaching out his palm toward JD's head, "You ain't runnin' a fever are ya, JD?"
"My, my, my, aren't you a sight, Mr. Dunne. And to think, I embarrassed myself wearing that shameful purple monstrosity. Why, we could have sent you in there and rescued Mrs. Travis in a fraction of the time," Ezra teased.
"Pearls before swine, Ezra," Josiah intoned.
"JD," Chris glared "Go change your clothes. Folks will talk."
Just then Casey burst into the jail, JD drew his remaining gun, "Dang it, Casey! You trying to get yourself killed?" JD reached up and pushed his bonnet farther back on his head. Just then all six of the other men burst out laughing.
A few days later, the red shirt gang was gathered up and safely behind bars, JD rode out to the Well's ranch. He was carrying a package wrapped in heavy brown paper and tied with a string. He knocked on the door, and Nettie answered, "Why JD it looks like your beard is grown back."
"Thank you Miz. Nettie is Casey around?"
"Yeah she's down at the barn mucking out the stalls. You can go down and talk to her."
JD entered and silently watched as Casey struggled with the over loaded wheel barrel. When it looked like the load was about to fall over he hurried to help her. "I'll get that for you Casey," He said as he shoved the package into her chest. She caught it by reflex and stepped back. JD pushed the wheel barrel out of the barn and dumped it on the pile, turning back to see what Casey's reaction was," Well? Ain't ya gonna open it" he asked.
Casey untied the string and carefully peeled back the brown paper. Taking hold of lacy collar of the dress she shook it free of its wrapping.
"Well, what do you think" JD asked.
"It's ...It's...dress!" She stammered.
"It was the prettiest one in Potters store. Do you like it?" JD was stunned by the small fist that connected with his nose.
JD walked into the saloon and dropped heavily into a chair. Buck glanced over and raised his eyebrows in question. "What happened there Kid?"
"Women~ I'll never understand what you see in them."