Not Much To Do
Moved to Blackraptor in October 2009
closed his book, settled back in his chair and with a long sigh, pulled his hat
down over his eyes. A few feet away, Buck snoozed in another chair, his long
legs stretched out half way across the boardwalk. From the sounds he was making,
one might think the railroad had already established itself in their little
corner of the territory.
The day was warm; the town was quiet and
peaceful, just like it had been for weeks on end, now. There were sounds of
children playing, a dog barking, several women talking and laughing down by Mrs.
Potter's store, but no outlaws had passed through their town, there'd been no
fights, no drunken cowboys, not a single gunshot had been fired in far too
Truth be told, there wasn't much for a peacekeeper to do these days
but sit by and watch the dust settle. It was enough to drive a man
crazy. Vin and JD were half way there already, and Ezra wasn't far behind
them. Just yesterday, he'd caught the three of them dressed up like banditos,
planning to sneak out of town and ride back in firing shots over their heads,
'just to stir things up, and give the folks a little excitement'. When Chris and
Buck had threatened to toss their butts in jail just for having such a stupid
idea, all three of them had looked half ready to take them up the offer. He
shook his head, wondering again whether or not it was possible for a man to go
insane from boredom.
Then he heard footsteps and what sounded like a
chain clanking, followed by a very familiar voice whispering, "Be careful,
"I am being careful!" another familiar voice whispered
Chris opened his eyes, and tilted his head back just enough to be
able to peer out from under the brim of his hat and watch,
surreptitiously. As far as he knew, there was no known proof that boredom
could drive a man insane, but what other excuse could there be for two fairly
intelligent and reasonable young men to completely take leave of their
He ducked his head again, forcing himself not to laugh. He
wondered where they'd gotten their hands on a set of military issue leg irons;
then he remembered the prison wagon that had passed through last week, on its
way to Yuma. One of the prisoners had been in need of medical attention, but by
the time they'd got him up to the clinic he'd already been too far gone.
Nathan managed to convince the guards to unchain him, only to realize that the
blood poisoning caused by the man's festering leg wound was beyond his or anyone
else's ability to heal. The prisoner had died within an hour's time, and
the wagon had immediately resumed its course for Yuma - leaving one dead
prisoner, and one set of leg irons in its wake.
He tilted his head
sideways just in time to catch a glimpse of Vin closing and locking a manacle
around Buck's left ankle, then he tossed the key over to a grinning JD, who
already had 'his' manacle around Buck's right ankle.
JD inserted the key,
fumbling briefly with the lock, then with a frown he shook his head and looked
over at Vin. "It won't turn. It's stuck."
Both men froze, their eyes
going wide when Buck shifted in his chair, a dreamy smile stretching across his
face as he sighed, breathing out some woman's name. When they were sure he
was still asleep, they both visibly relaxed and let out a long, slow breath.
Then Vin leaned closer to JD and whispered, "Try it again."
JD pushed his
hat back and looked at Vin with uncertainty. "I dunno, Vin. Maybe this ain't
such a good idea."
Vin rolled his eyes. "Course it's a good
But JD was shaking his head. "Maybe we should just give these back
to Ezra and go fishing instead."
"We can go fishin' anytime. Besides, why
would we give these back? They're ours. We won 'em fair and
Chris wondered how much money they'd lost to Ezra before he
allowed them to win their prize. He should have known Ezra had something to do
with this lame brain idea.
"Yeah, but," JD glanced guiltily at Chris,
then lowered his voice even more, "I don't think they belonged to Ezra, in the
Vin narrowed his eyes. "What's wrong, JD? You gettin'
"Well, then," Vin nudged JD out of the way, "here,
let me try it."
Vin wiggled the key; he tried twisting it
one way then the other. He let go to wipe his hands on his pant legs, then
started working it again until finally something gave way with a snap. "Uhh . .
. ." Vin slowly lifted his hand, staring mesmerized by what he held. A broken
half of a key. "Oops?"
JD blinked, his eyes going wide with disbelief.
Vin actually blushed, a sheepish grin spread across his face. "I
think I've broken something," he said.
"Aw, come on
JD. You know ol' Bucklin won't kill us." Vin might have been more
convincing if he hadn't then tossed what remained of the key over to JD as if it
were a burning coal.
"Oh no, you keep it! I don't want it!" JD tossed it
back to Vin.
At that moment, Ezra strolled through the batwing doors,
puffing on a cigar. He glanced at Buck's shackled feet and grinned at Vin and
JD. "Gentlemen, I see you've put your recent acquisition to good
The gambler's observation was punctuated by a loud snort from Buck,
which startled both Vin and JD. They quickly got their feet and took a step away
from Buck. Vin glanced down at the broken key in his hand, then grinned and
tossed it in the gambler's direction.
Ezra had always prided himself on
his exceptional hand-eye coordination and thus caught the object easily.
When he realized what it was, he shook his head giving Vin a patiently
benevolent look. "I suppose you think that was terribly clever?"
shrugged. "What's that sayin' again, JD?"
"Huh?" JD's dark eyebrows drew
together. "You mean the one about sowin' wild oats?"
"No . . ." Vin
rubbed his chin, a thoughtful look on his face. "Not that one. The one about
possession bein' nine tenths of the law, or some such."
"Oh, yeah," JD
glanced at the key in Ezra's hand and his face brightened. "I remember that
Ezra chuckled, his green eyes twinkling with amusement. "Nice try,
but I have no intention of taking the blame for your misdeeds."
JD put his hands on his hips and squinted at Ezra. "It's just as much your fault
as it is ours."
"Yeah," Vin agreed. "Them were your cuffs to begin
Ezra's eyebrows shot up. "Just because that offensive object was,
at some point in history, in my possession, does not make me an accomplice in
your ridiculous scheme."
"Well, I think it does." Vin said resolutely,
nodding to JD. "What d'you think, JD?"
"I think so, too."
please. That is the most ludicrous notion I have ever heard." Ezra's voice was
getting louder; he obviously wasn't so sure that he would be presumed innocent.
"I simply lost a round of poker. I don't see how that makes me in any way
responsible for what you endeavor to do with your gains." Ezra scowled in
Chris' direction. He'd probably known Chris had been awake the whole time.
"Mr. Larabee, a little help here would be appreciated."
"Don't look at
me," Chris replied, without looking up.
"Guess we'll just have to wait
'til Buck wakes up and see what he thinks about it."
As soon as the words
were out of JD's mouth, Buck let out a loud yawn, stretched his arms above his
head, then pushed his hat back. "Howdy boys," he said with a smile that
lasted about three seconds.
JD and Vin looked at each other and
automatically started backing away.
"Gentlemen, if I were you, I--" Ezra
started to advise them, but was cut off by Chris, "I'd ride hard, don't look
Buck stood up, looking puzzled, then tried to take a step forward
and tripped over the chain. "Hey! Who did this?"
Chris pulled his hat
down lower. "Don't look at me."
"JD! Vin! Did you do this to me?" They
didn't answer; instead, they turned at the same time and raced off in the
direction of the livery. "Hey, you two! Git back here!" When they didn't
slow down, Buck snatched the hat off his head and slapped it to the ground.
"Hell!" After a few deep breaths, he seemed to calm himself down a little, even
forced a smile. "Okay," he said to Ezra, since Chris didn't seem to be paying
attention, "any idea where the key is?"
"You mean this key?" Ezra held up
the broken half.
Buck smacked his thigh, letting loose a string of curses
and nearly tripped over the chain again. Then he squeezed his eyelids shut,
taking several more deep breaths. When he seemed to have himself under control,
he put his hands on his hips, looked up at the heavens. "Okay, okay," he
said through clenched teeth. "This is a real good joke. Ha, ha. Now," he turned
a glare on Ezra, "get these damned things off me, Ezra!"
I feel that first I must assure you I had nothing whatsoever to do with the
unfortunate predicament you have found yourself in."
"Right." Buck gave
him a bitter smile. "I suppose you're gonna try and blame it all on those two,"
he waved in the direction of the livery, "since they ain't here to defend
Ezra's mouth fell open. "They're not here to defend
themselves because," he turned his head and shouted toward the livery, "they
have run away like the cowards that they are! Tell him, Mr. Lar . . ." Ezra
paused, tactfully changing his demand to a polite request. "Please . . . Chris,
tell him I had absolutely nothing to do with this."
Chris pretended to
"I should have known you'd take their side."
listen to me," Buck practically growled, "I don't really care whose fault it is.
I just want you to tell me that you can get them off."
"Well, I suppose I
could figure it out, if I must."
"What d'you mean if you must?" Buck
straightened to his full height and took a threatening step toward the
"Never mind, I know what I must do." Ezra handed the broken key
to Buck then began searching his pockets for who knows what; whatever it was,
he didn't find it. "It's just . . . " he glanced up at Buck's
menacing expression, cleared his throat and gave him a patronizing smile, "I'm
afraid to do it." With that, he bolted in the same direction Vin and JD had
gone. Buck tried to grab him, but missed. A few moments later, three
horses shot out of the livery stable, kicking up dust as they headed out of town
at a rapid pace.
"It was nice of the boys to have Ezra's horse ready for
him," Chris said fondly as the three figures disappeared from sight. He heard
Buck mutter a curse then turned to watch him stumble down the road toward the
livery, probably hoping Tiny'd be able to set him free.
Buck wouldn't go
after them now; he'd wait 'til they got back, wait 'til they were least
expecting it and then he'd get 'em . . . with a little inside help. Chris
stood up, with a grin, and ambled through the batwing doors, sure that Buck
would be joining him soon.
Maybe he'd finally lost his mind, too, 'cause
he was actually looking forward to the next few days. At the very least, it
would be a nice change from sitting by and watching the dust
~ end? ~