Bad Influence

by Magnolia Belle

Main Characters: Ezra, JD, Maude

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This is the place where I acknowledge that I don’t own the already copyrighted material and remind folks that the following is a labor of love and involves no monetary benefit.

“JD, unlike good scotch, that joke does not get better with age.” Ezra eyed the young man sitting across the table from him. His gaze shifted to their companion. “Mother, do stop laughing like that; it’s unbecoming.”

The usually refined and dignified women had laughed so intensely that she had actually managed to snort and was now receiving curious glances from the saloon’s other patrons. Maude dabbed at her eyes with a lace handkerchief. “Lordy! That was too atrocious to not be hilarious!”

“See!” JD said, slapping the table for emphasis. “I told you it was funny. Your mother agrees, and you can’t argue with your mother.”

Composing herself, Maude addressed JD. “Since you are such a purveyor of humorous anecdotes, perhaps you would be interested in a certain gem from the collection of my third husband?”

JD smiled blankly at her.

“Do you want to hear a joke?” Ezra translated.

“Yeah, sure,” JD said.

Maude took a sip of whiskey before speaking. “Well, George would ask: What’s the difference between a person who has been to Niagara Falls, a person who hasn’t been to Niagara Falls, and a ham sandwich?”

JD pondered this for a moment.

“I dunno,” he said. “What’s the difference?”

“He would tell you that one of them has seen the mists, and the other has missed the scene,” Maude answered.

JD laughed for a moment, then asked, “And what about the ham sandwich?”

Maude smiled sweetly. “Oh, he just threw that in for you to bite on.”

JD gazed at her for a split-second as the realization hit him, before laughing so hard he almost fell out of his chair.

“That is great!” he said, tamping down on his laughter. “I’ve got to go find Buck!”

Ezra watched JD depart. Leaning over, he spoke quietly into his mother’s ear.

“You are a bad influence on the boy, and I kindly ask that you refrain from doing any more damage to him,” Ezra said.

“Really, Ezra,” Maude said. “How is one little joke doing him any damage?”

“What you are unaware of, Mother,” Ezra said, “is that just yesterday Mr. Wilmington threatened our young compatriot with bodily harm should Mr. Dunne besiege him with any more jokes, anecdotes, or supposedly humorous stories. Unfortunately, JD has the long-term memory of a fruit fly. While he might remember nothing of the conversation, I can assure you that Buck will not have forgotten.”

“Oh, Ezra, I’m sure he was exaggerating,” Maude said, taking another sip of her whiskey.

The sounds of splashing and swearing coming from outside drew their attention. Through the windows, Ezra and Maude could see a sopping wet JD run down the street followed by a irate Buck, who was also becoming damp as water flew from the bucket he was hauling along on the chase.

Ezra’s eyes watched the scene as he stood up from the table. “Excuse me, Mother, but I think it prudent to locate our Mr. Jackson. Someone may be requiring his services shortly.” Ezra hurried from the saloon.

Shuffling a deck of cards, Maude chuckled to herself and began to lay out a game of solitaire. “‘Shot my paw’,” she repeated, with another snicker.


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