Main Characters: Seven
Notes: his is just a fluffy piece of nonsense. Nobody’s particularly in character, and they’re not intended to be. I just wrote it to put a little humor in an otherwise gloomy Monday. Hope that you get even a single laugh from it. Enjoy.
Webmaster Note: This story was previously published by Neon Rainbow Press.
No one knew exactly how it had started. The town had been quiet for several days, and they had found time to sit back and relax as a group. So, there they all were, in the saloon, talking about picnics. Vin swore that he had never been on one; he’d eaten a lot of meals on the trail, but no out and out picnics with tablecloths and fried chicken. No one could believe it. Then J.D. said that he had only been on one or two himself. That was too much for Buck. He decided – after another half bottle of whiskey and the loss of half a month’s pay to Ezra – that this was just not acceptable. They would have to take the more deprived members of their little group out on a picnic. He kept talking about it until even Chris and Ezra got caught up in the planning. The fact that they had all been drinking for several hours did much to put all seven men in agreement as well.
Suddenly, as one, they rose and strode purposefully... if unsteadily... through the bat wing doors and into the early morning sun. As a man they groaned; the sun had just been going down when they entered the saloon. Pulling their hats down over their aching eyes, they stumbled along the boardwalk to the restaurant. Nominating Chris to negotiate with the cook, the other six men found convenient chairs to fall into, or simply collapsed onto the wooden walkway. Buck, having for once planned ahead, pulled a full bottle out of his coat pocket and, after taking a long drink, passed it to Josiah. The whiskey made its rounds, with everyone but Ezra partaking. The gambler tipped his silver flask to them, and imbibed the aged scotch that he preferred.
Chris came out of the restaurant some time later, a large, gingham covered basket in tow. Announcing that he had done his job, and the others had by gawd better appreciate it, he grabbed the bottle from Buck and downed a good two inches of alcohol.
Next they went to the livery and woke up the livery man. Staring bleary-eyed at the seven drunken peacekeepers, he balked at the idea of giving any of them the reins... let alone allowing them to take one of his buckboards out on the road. Finally Josiah managed to persuade him that he was sober enough to drive the team, by reciting a rather difficult poem about the virtues of war and women, while standing on one foot. Buck, eager to be on the way, further hurried the man along by handing him his silver pocket watch as collateral against any damage the men might do to the wagon or team.
Yosemite finally agreed to let them rent a rig, but asked them why they had chosen such a miserable day to go on a picnic. Looking at the muddy ground beneath their feet and the heavy black clouds hanging low over their heads, they could only shrug. They again found places to sit, lean or sprawl while the man went inside and readied the rig they would use. Pulling the now half-filled bottle from his pocket, Buck again passed it around to the other men. By the time the liver man reappeared, leading the horses and rig from the barn, they had emptied the bottle.
With Josiah making a valiant attempt at appearing as sober as Orin Travis, they climbed and crawled into the wagon. Chris uprooted Vin from the wagon seat, tipping the already wobbly tracker backwards into the bed. His protests of unfair treatment fell on deaf ears, and Tanner finally slouched in a corner, pouting and breathing into his harmonica. After about five minutes of *_*wheeze*_* in and *_*wheeze*_* out, Buck hit him over the head with his hat and took the alleged musical instrument from the younger man. This caused a struggle to break out; Vin launched himself on the bigger man, and they wrestled for the harmonica. Buck admitted, at least to himself, that the rangy next-to-the-youngest member of their troupe was a lot stronger than he looked. To the other man, he only admitted to being too drunk to wrestle, and besides, they were about to upset the picnic basket. The fact that the basket was sitting up front with Josiah and Chris wasn’t mentioned, and they called a truce.
Hanging over the side of the wagon, J.D. tried to see where they were going. The passing ground below began to do strange things to the young man. He moaned softly as his liquid dinner mixed with his liquid breakfast and threatened to reverse its course through his system. He didn’t want to throw up. Not in front of the others. It would be yet another sign that he was a kid... The Kid. Pulled from his musings by a strange but familiar sound, he gingerly turned his head. Across the wagon bed, Buck was hanging over the other side. Dunne identified the sounds then... Buck was throwing up. The sound began to trigger a sympathetic response and, carefully securing his bowler on the wagon floor, J.D. joined Buck in expelling the alcohol they had taken in.
Vin, slouched once again in the corner, exchanged long-suffering looks with Nathan and Ezra. Rescuing his harmonica from the occupied gunman’s pocket, he began his tuneless playing once again, in a vain attempt at blocking out the sounds of retching men. Up front, Chris and Josiah exchanged looks as well. With a shake of his head, Chris reached down and took out a piece of chicken. He chewed on it as he ignored the fetid concert behind them and discussed the location for their picnic with the preacher.
A short time later the men in the wagon bed had resumed drinking, thanks to the bottle that Vin had brought along, and were finding ways to entertain themselves. After a five minute spitting contest between Buck, J.D. and Vin, during which they were plagued by shifting winds and besieged by the threats of the other occupants of the wagon as to what would happen to the trio if they found themselves in the line of fire one more time, they called it a draw.
Falling back against the side of the wagon, Buck called up to Josiah, “we there yet?”
“Nearly, son,” Josiah answered.
“Boy, I hope so, ‘cause Mother Nature is sure ‘nuff callin’ my name!”
“Yeah, me too, “ J.D. admitted. “Hey, Josiah, could we stop for a minute?”
“You boys should’ve thought of that before we left.”
“But I didn’t need to before we left!” J.D. whined.
“Well, we’ll be there in about 10 minutes. You can go then.” Josiah said evenly as he clucked to the horses.
“But JOSIAH!” The young sheriff cried.
“J.D.,” Chris shot firmly over his shoulder, “Knock it off. We’ll be there in a few minutes. Whining isn’t going to help anything.”
Flopping angrily to the floor of the wagon, muttering something to the effect that he “was not whining”, J.D. folded his arms across his chest and pouted.
Grinning impishly, Buck motioned to the young man. Dropping to the ground behind the wagon, the two men scurried to a nearby clump of trees. Vin watched them with interest, wondering if they would be returning any time soon. After a few minutes he saw both Buck and J.D., now several yards behind them, reappear. With a whoop, Buck started after them, his long legs covering the distance quickly. Young Dunne, smaller and drunker, had a more difficult time in catching up. Finally realizing that he was alone, Buck turned and saw that he was leaving his partner in mischief behind.
“Aw, damn it J.D., c’mon!” Hustling back across the muddy ground, Buck came abreast of the boy. With a single motion, he gathered the sheriff up and threw him across his shoulder. With a mad grin, he began to retrace his steps.
“Shit! Buck, put me down!” J.D. cried out.
Ahead, on the wagon bed, the three passengers watched with open amusement. On the wagon seat, Chris turned to see what all of the ruckus was about. Shaking his head, he simply turned back around and pulled another piece of chicken out of the basket.
“Somethin’ goin’ on back there?” Josiah asked.
“Nothin’ to worry about, “ Chris assured him.
Behind them, Buck had finally caught the wagon. Tossing the younger man over the gate and into the bed like so much flour, the big man caught the wagon and quickly pulled himself up and over. Laying flat on his back, his breath coming in gasps, he smiled at the other men. “I feel a whole lot better, now!”
Pulling up at the top of a small, tree-dotted rise a short time later, Josiah nodded to Chris, “looks like a good place.”
“Yep,” Chris agreed enthusiastically. Turning in his seat, he looked at the men in the wagon bed. Turning to the preacher, he said, “sure do look cute and innocent when they’re sleepin’, don’t they?”
“Yep,” Josiah agreed. With a shrug he turned the team and pointed them back toward town. Larabee handed him a piece of chicken and the older man nodded his thanks.
“Maybe we’ll try it again tomorrow.”
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