Truth, Trust and a Handshake
Note: Dedicated to Jo
"What does that mean? That forearm thing that Chris and Vin do?"
The ex-preacher turned from where he was pounding nails to shore up the sagging front door frame of his church, to glance at where his helper, JD, was looking. The objects of Dunne's questioning were just finishing letting go of one another's arms as Vin was ready to ride, heading out to do his rounds.
"I mean, why don't they just shake hands like most people do?"
"Well," Josiah began after removing the extra nails from between his lips. "A handshake can have different meanings," he paused as Vin touched the brim of his hat to him and JD as he rode past and they, in turn, acknowledged him.
"See," the big man continued, " it can be a simple greeting between two friends or those that are just meeting for the first time or it can be a binding contract between two men doing business."
"So then, what's the meaning of what they do?" JD wanted to understand more. There were many things he didn't know about the West, and although he had asked Buck about it, all he said was that "it's their thing," whatever that meant. He figured his friend didn't know either.
"Well, Chris and Vin met under adverse conditions," Josiah explained, sitting down on the top step, inviting JD to do the same. "And that first meeting, saving Nathan, going up against all odds, sort of bonded them, like warriors going to battle. They had no idea when they stepped forward to save Nathan if they'd live or die, but they had that common bond of doing what they thought was right."
"Like all of us then, when we fought together against Anderson and his men," JD reasoned.
"Sort of. But there's more to it. Vin, having lived with the Indians, learned this type of handshake is one of mutual friendship. It's more than just shaking hands, of palm to palm. It involves more contact, more of a kinship-type thing. It's done with those they feel equal with, those they feel they can trust..."
"We can be trusted," JD interrupted, not quite following Josiah's train of thoughts. "We've watched each other's backs more than once."
"Yes, son, you're right... but it goes deeper. It's hard to explain," Josiah felt he was floundering. How to explain different kinds of friendships to someone who was learning how to make friends in a whole different world than what he was used to was hard to do.
"Truth breeds trust," he started once again, saying the words slowly, not wanting to give up having the young man understand what was most important to some men. Not only important, but imperative. To men like Chris and Vin, truth meant everything. It was their lifeline, for without truth from one another, there couldn't, wouldn't, be trust.
"The minute those two stepped into the street to save a man they didn't know, a man of color, there was truth in what they both believed in and they knew it. Then Vin came clean with Chris, telling him about the bounty long before any of us knew about it. That's the kind of truth that breeds trust and that kind of trust is what Chris and Vin have... it goes much deeper than just a regular handshake like most men do. They aren't like most men," Josiah finished with, eyes gazing over to where the man in black stood talking to Mary Travis in front of the Clarion.
JD nodded his head, figuring he understood more now than he did before. He loved learning. "Truth breeds trust," he mumbled under his breath. "Wonder if Buck and I'll have have a friendship like that?" he asked absentmindedly.
"Oh, I think you already do," Josiah told him truthfully, for he knew exactly how Wilmington felt about this young man sitting beside him. A man didn't put himself in front of a raging madman with a sword to protect another if there wasn't some kind of friendship there. JD just didn't realize all that yet, but Sanchez hoped somewhere along the line, the Bostonian would appreciate what he did have in Buck. "It's just different with Buck," he smiled when JD's face lit up with a smile.
"Yeah, he's a hugger," JD shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "Guess there are different ways to show how much people mean to each other."
"Yep," Josiah agreed as he sucked in a deep breath and stood up. "Let's get this doorway finished shall we?" He put the extra nails back between his lips and reached for the board JD handed him.