Disclaimer: They don't belong to me... Their owners have the rights, not me. I'm using them just for fun. I'm not making money, I swear.
Thanks: To Nancy who archives my stories at her 'magnificent' site. To Winter who read this story when it was unfinished and gave me her opinion and support about it. To Carla and to everybody who encourages me to keep writing. To Judy who beta read this. To Derry who answered my medical questions a long time ago.
Notes: I got the idea about this story, watching Obsession, so I suppose there are references to that episode. I don't have any idea about how to play golf, btw, so I'm sorry if I've written something wrong.
I hope you like the story. Please tell me: email@example.com
Josiah, Vin and Ezra had disappeared from view, and that made JD really suspicious. They hadn't told anybody where they were going to be and he knew that it was something he wanted to discover.
He was sitting outside of the jail, the back of the chair hitting the wall, while he balanced it on the rear legs. He leaned his head backwards after placing the chair on its four legs again. Had he missed something? Probably. If he had paid attention to them, he'd know for sure where those three were. He leaned back on the chair and began rocking it again with his eyes closed.
Suddenly he remembered something.
He had seen Josiah going out of the post office with a big package. Now he remembered, he thought it was something for the church so he even made to join him and ask about it.
He cast aside the idea that the package was something for the church. It must contain something important and different. If it was something for the church he would have told the rest of them. Josiah was always proud when he got something to get the church in better shape. JD imagined it had to be something important like new rifles, or new clothes, or maybe some new books. He knew Josiah loved to read and so did Ezra, even Vin after having finished his sort of secret lessons with Mary.
So his main worry at that moment was to discover what that large package contained and what Josiah needed it for.
He had decided to go to Nathan's. He walked toward the clinic taking off his hat and scratching his black long hair lightly. That was really getting on his nerves. He stood in front of the clinic door for a moment.
When had he become so curious? He bowed his head, knitted his brows and placed a finger to his lips thinking for a moment. He raised his head again, pulling the finger off of his lips. He knew it. It wasn't that he was too meddlesome, it was just that he was sure that the three men were having a good time and hadn't included him. He arrived to the top of Nathan's stairs, and knocked at the door.
JD recognized the dark man's deep voice. The young man obeyed his order. He half-opened the door, walked through the narrow opening and closed the door behind him.
Nathan was cleaning and putting the clinic in order. It was an easy time for him because nobody had gotten hurt or ill in some weeks. He was sure it was some sort of a record.
"Mm, Nate, have you seen Josiah lately?" JD asked trying to make his words casual.
"Nope. I just saw him early this morning. We shared breakfast at the saloon. Then he told me he had business to take care of, so I figured he would be kind of busy at the church. Do you need him for something, JD?"
"No, no, no," the young sheriff's mind was finding an excuse. "Just wondering. I haven't seen him, Ezra or Vin this morning. I figure it might be some problem in town that I didn't know about."
JD was becoming uneasy. He was telling a half-truth to his friend about his reasons and it wasn't even a situation where he needed to lie. It was just that he felt uncomfortable with himself for getting hard feelings because his friends didn't include him in whatever they did in their spare time, and he didn't want the rest to know how he felt about that. In fact he knew it wasn't an important matter. But there was a little voice inside his brain that was telling him, that for him it did matter.
"I'm sorry JD. If I were you I would try at the church." Nathan had seen the brows lightly creased on the kid's face.
"Yeah, maybe. Okay, I let you get back to what you're doing, Nate. Thanks anyway."
Nathan saw JD disappeared in no time behind the door and shook his head in astonishment. What was up with the young sheriff was a mystery for him. Maybe it'd be worth trying to discover what was going on if he wasn't busy with his cleaning.
JD stood at the bottom of Nathan's stairs and placing his hands on his hips, thought for a moment where those three could have gone.
+ + + + + + +
"Okay Mr. Sanchez. I imagine you have acquired good quality golf clubs. After all the time it took for them to be in your hands, I assure you it would be a disgrace if they got broken in our first training session." Ezra had a golf club between his hands and was shaking it from one side to the other with quick and sharp movements.
"You sure you want us using them, Josiah...?" Vin stepped beside the ex preacher, picking up one of the metal sticks and examining it with his brow creased. He didn't want to ruin one of them. It took Josiah quite a long time to save all the money to pay for only three golf clubs, ten balls and a pair of golf books. He had been doing extra jobs to keep giving money to his sister at the same time he earned for this little whim. But Vin was the only one that knew the details about it and of course his lips were sealed.
"Of course Vin. It would be boring to play this alone. I imagined that Ezra and you would like to try. Ezra was with me when I was practicing at Ella Gaines's house and I'm sure he enjoyed himself," Ezra nodded at that statement, "and I believe since you are the best of us in aiming, you would like to try it. It's a sport of marksmanship mainly. Besides, JD, the only other one that would be interested in this, probably already knows how to play, based on what he said at Ella Gaines's house, so I thought it would be better to practice a little before he joins us."
"Okay, Josiah. It's your call. I reckon I can like it." Vin took off his buckskin coat and hat and held the golf club on the air with both hands.
They had gone to a field next to Nettie Wells' home. Vin had asked her and she couldn't deny him anything. Josiah and Ezra knew it also, so it was easy. She was quite an understanding person when they offered to cut the grass on it. It wasn't very green grass, but grass it was.
The quite difficult task was to get the old lady to allow them to dig little holes on it. She couldn't understand why adult men needed to dig little holes all over her field. Finally she acceded only if they covered them again. She thought it was an invitation for the rabbits to become comfortable inside them.
Anyway they had followed the instructions and now they had what would seem to be as a tiny golf area. They didn't have the slightest idea of the game but Josiah was sure it was easy. They had only managed to get some essential vocabulary.
+ + + + + + +
JD walked into the saloon to see Buck, drinking a beer. At that early hour, it meant he was happy. It wasn't like he had conquered any new hearts lately. It was that the sweet Ally had come back from Eagle Bend and her heart was already Buck's.
She was a really beautiful tiny doll. She had ivory skin, curly blonde hair and two huge hazel eyes with long eyelashes that made her face look very delicate. She was Mr. and Mrs. Peterson's niece, a horse breeder and his wife that came from the East about two years ago. She spent some time with her closer relatives at Four Corners and the rest of the year she was in Philadelphia.
"So you got her again, didn't you, Buck?" JD asked with a wicked smiled on his face.
"Did you doubt it by any chance?" Buck answered at the same time, stroking his mustache.
"I don't know what she sees in you. That animal magotism it's a fib." He knew how angry Buck got about that issue but at the same time it was so fun to mock him.
"Animal magnetism, kid. And if it doesn't work... how do you explain my success with the female population?"
"Because you insist on talking too much and they are so desperate to get rid of your chatting that they allow you to kiss them and make love to them so you keep your mouth shut, Buck."
"That's not true, kid. You don't have any idea about courting a lady."
"Whatever you say, Buck, whatever you say... Anyway I was looking for Josiah, have you seen him?"
"No, I haven't seen him in all the day. But now that you're mentioning him, I haven't seen Ezra, Chris or Vin either."
In that moment Chris showed up pushing open the batwing doors. He had woken up late that day and had spent quite a lot of time at the bath- house.
"Boys," he stated simply. "Okay, here you have one of the missing," Buck mumbled near JD's ear.
"Hi Chris," JD's excitement made the man in black tired.
He just looked at the kid and took a seat at the same table where Buck was seated with JD was standing next to him.
The young sheriff kept on with his queries. "Have you seen Josiah, Vin or Ezra today? I'm looking for them since this morning." JD was getting really annoyed.
"No, I'm sorry kid," Chris bowed his head at the same time he shook it and looked at the bottle of whiskey that was there on the table.
He thought it was waiting for him. He was lucky today.
"I know they had something up their sleeves, but I can't figure it out. I'm getting frustrated." He had been standing all the time but he let his body rest limply on a chair. "I think I'm going to stop looking for them."
Buck and Chris just nodded.
+ + + + + + +
"Let's see gentlemen..." Ezra had picked up the book on his hand and was reading the first page, with Vin doing the same over the Southerner's shoulder, pointing at the book.
"I thought you told me once I wasn't a gentleman", Vin loved to mock Ezra's speech from time to time. He took away his finger, leaned, resting all his body's weight on the golf club placed on the ground and picked up a ball.
Ezra rolled his eyes. He didn't understand how Vin could remember sentences he said just to use them against him.
"Let's say I was using that as an effect of the speech, Mr. Tanner. Could we go on with the rules, gentlemen."
Josiah and Vin nodded.
"Well, well, they say 'Golf is a gentleman's game subject to proper etiquette.'"
Vin threw the golf club to the ground, "okay, me and etiquette will never be in the same package, Ez, I quit."
"Come on Vin, I'm sure it's just another effect of the speech from the author." Josiah almost pleaded. "I know you can be an excellent golf player."
"Okay, but nothing about etiquette, you hear me, Ez."
"I must remind you Mr. Tanner, that I'm not the illustrious man that wrote this prècis of knowledge."
"Stop talking Ez, and begin playing," Vin said picking up the golf club and a ball from the ground and walking to the place they had decided would be the first teeing ground.
"But we haven't read the part where the author make a reference about how to grip the club." Ezra walked toward the sharpshooter with a club in one hand and the book in the other one.
Vin just stood there until Ezra joined him. Josiah followed the gambler. "Hey brother Vin, Ezra is right. Let me at least show you how you have to hold the club and how to move the body the moment before you hit the ball."
"Okay Josiah, let's see." Vin stretched and waved his hand pointing the place in front of him.
The ex preacher walked toward it, picked up a ball and put it in front of him. Then he placed his legs half open and the golf club in front of him just in the middle of the space between his legs. He leaned forward, holding the golf club with both hands. Turning his head to look in the distance and again facing the ball at his feet, Josiah put the club head in front of the ball then he swung the club back hit the ball so it traveled through the air till it reached the field.
Vin was looking the flight path of the ball. "It was damn near to the hole, Josiah. Almost an Ace. That's the word you said, didn't it? No, no..., it's near the hole so it's a Chip Hitting."
Vin stood up grinning, satisfied with his good memory.
Josiah smiled him back. "I've finally learned that this is a game of humility."
Vin wasn't paying attention to what Ezra and Josiah were doing, so he didn't see Ezra getting ready for his shot. The next thing Vin felt was something that hit him in the ribs. He curled up nursing his gut. His voice got caught on his throat sounding strangled. "What the hell..."
"I'm so sorry Mr. Tanner I didn't mean to hit you, in fact my only desire was to get nearer the hole than Mr. Sanchez did."
Vin walked toward the two men holding his ribs yet. His voice was reaching this normal tone. "You could have killed me Ez. I know I've read something about this in the book. Give it to me, let me see." The tracker commanded stretching his other arm in front of the Southerner so he could give him the rule book.
Vin read slowly and carefully, guiding his eyes with the finger through the line, holding the book with one hand. "Okay, here it is: Before striking the ball, be sure nobody will be struck by the club or the ball. And what a surprise Ez, the rule it's included inside of is the Golf Etiquette part." Vin said slamming the open book onto Ezra's chest and raising his brows to emphasize the irony.
"I assure you Mr. Tanner that it wasn't my intention at all to cause you any harm. I don't desire to owe an explanation to Mr. Larabee and Mr. Jackson if I can avoid it." Ezra approached the ex bounty hunter. "Are you sure you're all right Mr. Tanner?"
"Yeah Ez, I'm fine. It's like somebody punched me in the side. After a moment it stopped hurting." He straightened himself showing the Southerner and the ex preacher he was okay and he didn't feel any pain.
In reality, it wasn't so. His ribs didn't hurt like he had received a blow, but a hundred to his side.
"Come on, it's my turn." The tracker stated picking a ball, then placing it on the ground where Josiah and Ezra had struck their balls.
"So you say the position is kind of this...," Vin tried it, looked at the distance where the hole was, turned his attention to the ball at his foot, swung the club lightly, checked the distance again and the next time he twisted his body stroking the ball sending it through the air.
Both Josiah and Ezra placed their hands over their brows stopping the sunrays and allowing them to see where the ball landed. To their surprise the ball stopped near the hole and rolled till it fell into it.
"Jesus Christ" Ezra shouted uncharacteristically.
Josiah smiled to himself and elbowed him in his ribs. "Don't blaspheme."
Ezra looked at him raising a eyebrow in amazement. "I can't believe it. Only your first swing Mr. Tanner and you got the ball into the hole. That certainly is an Ace, isn't it, Mr. Sanchez? That should get the highest score." Josiah picked up the book from the floor and began to glance through the pages. "I don't know. We know the name, but we don't know what score it is," he shrugged.
While both men were busy looking at the book. Vin nursed his ribs a little more. When he stroke the ball, the twisted and stretched movements sent needles of pain to his entire torso. Now he really began to pray the ball hadn't broken one or two of his ribs.
+ + + + + + +
Chris saw JD's face full of frustration and decided to help the young sheriff.
"Okay, JD, let's go try to find those three," he said standing from his chair, "Although Josiah is with them, I don't trust anything Ezra and Vin plan together." He sent the kid a mischievous smile. "Come on."
JD followed his command and both men disappeared behind the batwing doors.
When they stepped on the street walking to the livery, JD suddenly stopped on his tracks.
"Chris, Josiah did get a big package today, I say him coming out of the post office with it."
"Okay, let's check the post office."
JD and Chris walked to the post office and waited in front of the desk till the post officer, Mr. Clements stopped placing letters in order.
"Mr. Larabee, JD, what can I do for you?"
"Well, Luke, JD told me that Josiah came this morning to pick up a big package and I was wondering if you know what it was or where he would have gone with it, because we need to talk to him and we can't find him."
JD was astonished, he wasn't the only one practicing the 'white lies' game.
"It's a package from Scotland that stopped in New York and then in St. Louis and finally arrived here. It was quite heavy I can tell you."
Chris drummed on the border of the desk with his fingers. "Okay, thank you, Luke."
"Mr. Larabee, JD."
Both men left the office and stepped on the street thinking for a while.
Nathan spotted them from the clinic and joined them.
"Hey, who are you waiting for?"
"Nobody Nate," JD said shrugging. "We can't find Josiah, Ezra and Vin."
"Maybe they left town for a ride."
"Maybe," Chris didn't think Ezra had gone for a ride although Vin and Josiah could have gone for one. He decided he needed another drink to think about where those three were. It was JD's fault he was now thinking about their whereabouts. They were adult men for God's sake.
"Hey Chris, don't you want to know where they are?" JD shouted to the gunslinger that headed to the saloon again.
"Yeah kid, but I need a drink." And without another word he kept walking.
+ + + + + + +
If he didn't take deep breaths it didn't hurt at all. So he didn't do it, plain and simple. A simple blow to his ribs wasn't going to stop him for enjoying this time. Vin stood beside his two friends looking at the book.
The three men were trying to figure out what the hell playing golf was all about.
"I vote for playing as simple as we can, brothers. And later, we can study the book carefully for our next sport day. But I really think we could use some free play, trying to enjoy our new friends," he said swinging his golf club in the air a smile spreading on his face.
"Fine for me," Vin said, his genuine smile on his face, doing the same with his golf club and then using it as if it was a sword.
Josiah imitated him and in a second they were fighting as if they were medieval knights. The sharpshooter did all he could to avoid -with success- Josiah hitting his hurt side.
Ezra kept the golf club nailed on the ground and he leaned over it resting all his weight on it like if was a cane.
"I really thought we were playing golf, gentlemen." Ezra rolled his eyes when he saw they were still ignoring him and fighting, as they were two of the three Musketeers.
"Come on Aramis, join us, we need our three comrade in arms," Vin shouted from where he and Josiah were.
He couldn't have read my mind, Ezra thought. Next time I'm not going to lend Mr. Tanner any books. Look what happens!!!
"I really prefer not doing that, Mr. Tanner. Don't you think we are unfavorably using these fabulous objects." He said pointing at the clubs.
Vin approached him and launched a direct attack to the side, Ezra avoided it and began to fight with his golf club-sword.
"You see it's funny, Ez... don't tell me you're getting older."
The three men kept fighting until Josiah stopped, leaning his upper body, resting his stretched arms on his thighs trying to catch his breath.
"Okay Vin. Now we know you're tireless. Let an old man rest for a while." Josiah walked to where they had left their jackets and hats, dragging his golf club. He picked up one of the canteens they had and drank heavily. He was so thirsty.
Vin looked at the ex preacher in amusement. He was tired also, but not as much. Although his side hurt yet, he had managed to forget about it. He walked toward him and pulled the canteen from his hands and drank willingly. Ezra was the last one to join them and the third one drinking from the canteen.
While the Southerner was drinking and Vin was wiping his mouth with his sleeve walking to the hole his ball had gone, Josiah took position again, prepared for another swing.
Vin turned his head and making out Josiah's intention ran to reach the hole so he could see if the ex preacher got it, but keeping himself not too close, just in case. Besides he could follow the path with his eyes and move before being hit.
Ezra was still drinking short sips from the canteen showing his back to his two friends.
Josiah was ready to strike the ball.
The following course of things happened in front of Vin like in slow motion. He couldn't believe it.
Josiah stroked the ball making it fly through the air until it hit a trunk that was just at the older man's right and from there come back to where Josiah and Ezra were, and hitting the gambler on one side of this lower back.
"Ouch!!" was all Ezra managed to say holding his back with his bent arm.
"I had two kidneys before coming here with both of you. Now Mr. Jackson will have to extirpate one of them." He said between clenched teeth. He bent his body until he was sat on the floor, holding his back.
Josiah approached him quickly.
"I'm sorry Ezra... You know it wasn't my intention. You okay?"
Ezra closed his eyes and rested his other hand on his forehead, trying to make the pain go away.
"I'm really sorry, Ez." Josiah felt very guilty, and that wasn't the first time those damned balls played tricks on him.
Vin ran toward them.
"Ez, you okay?" concerned marked on his soft drawl.
Ezra answered with quick and short nods, but without saying any words. Now his lips were closed tighter.
He pointed his index finger in the air, like asking for calmness and silent, and opened his eyes. "I'll be perfectly fine in a second."
He closed his eyes again and began to stand up. Josiah helped him grabbing the arm that wasn't holding his back.
After some minutes of silence, Ezra turned to face both men.
"All right, I've decided I'm going to rest from golf for today. Gentlemen, I'll be glad just watching you playing. Besides I have just forgotten why we are here in the middle of nowhere playing with these sticks."
"You know it already, Ez, because," Vin began, "I, I mean, we, don't want Chris discovering us playing golf, you know Josiah discovered it at Ella Gaines's house. I don't want to bring bad memories to his mind if I can avoid it." Vin was really serious after this sentence. Then he showed his famous lop sided grin, "come on Ez, are you feeling so bad that you can't keep playing?"
"No, no, I'm fine, Mr. Tanner, but I don't want to endanger my physical integrity anymore today."
He took a seat near the jackets and hats and waving a hand on the air, he added, "why, please, go on with the play, I'll be quite critical with your game."
Vin rolled his eyes and walked some steps from Ezra.
"Okay, I'll go to the first putting green, that I have already passed, if you remember." The wicked evil grin on the tracker's face brought puzzled expression to Ezra's face and laughs out loud to Josiah.
"I thought you weren't paying attention to the technical names because you weren't interested in learning them, Mr. Tanner," Ezra complained.
Vin turned his face to the Southerner still showing a wide grin and kept walking until he reached the position.
"Hey, what are you doing, boys?" None of them had seen Casey walking toward them.
They were surprised even though it was normal Casey was there because it was her aunt's place.
"Hey Casey," the ex preacher approached her. "We're playing golf."
"What's golf? I don't know that game. Can I play, would you teach me?" Casey had almost the same energy JD showed all the time.
None of the two men who were next to her answered. Vin approached her.
"Hey Case, what's up?"
"Josiah told me you're playing something called golf. Can I play?"
Vin bowed his head and scratched his head, looking for an answer. He didn't know so much about the game to know if girls could play.
"I don't know, I imagine so... Josiah is the one who discovered it, so... "
The Texan, Casey and Ezra, stared at the preacher...
"Hmmmm... I haven't read all the rules, but I imagine so, Casey. The problem is that I could only get three sticks."
"Oh, I see," Casey said with a puppy look on her sweet face.
"My dear darling, don't get upset, I got hurt in Mr. Sanchez's last try, I offer you my golf club."
Casey's face lighted up in happiness. "Are you talking seriously Ezra?" Ezra nodded with a grin on his face.
Casey came close to him, picked up the club and kissed him on the cheek, "thank you." Ezra's face showed how astonished he felt after the girl's gesture and remained speechless. When he recovered his voice, he managed a "more than welcome" that was just a little above a whisper.
She pulled out her hat and threw it where the men's were and rubbed her hands on her pants to dry and prepare them to hold the stick.
"Okay... what do I have to do?" Casey asked innocently.
Josiah and Vin interchanged looks, both of them felt uneasy. Josiah glanced at Vin with a look that was telling the tracker that the older man would prefer it was him who taught the girl.
"Okay Casey. Look, I...I...I ain't the expert, but..."
"It's okay, tell me Vin." Casey was really excited.
Vin stared at that sweet face and he couldn't deny teaching her.
"You have to put your legs this way, place the golf club in front of you and... Okay, the grip it's difficult, so just hold it the more comfortable way you think."
Vin picked up a ball he kept in one of the pockets of his pants and placed it on the ground in front of her.
Casey interrupted him, "Did JD know how to play golf?" her sweet face turned to face the three men staring at her.
"I think so, Casey." Josiah answered her. "He told me something about he learned how to play, or that he knew people that used to play where he lived, there, back to East."
The ex preacher walked closer to Vin and Casey and took a look at how the young woman was trying to play the game.
+ + + + + + +
JD stared at Chris with his two elbows on the table, his hands holding his face. I ain't sure Chris is interested in finding them. He isn't moving a muscle. He prefers to drink another beer. His thoughts didn't leave his mouth. He just sighed deeply.
Buck had left a little while before with good company... Miss Ally had come to rescue him from a boring day at the saloon. He sure is lucky. JD thought, turning to look at Nathan, who sat beside him.
Suddenly JD, Nathan and Chris's attention turned to the batwings doors. Mary had just stepped into the saloon and turning her head to both sides until her eyes discovered them, she walked to their table.
Her greeting was received in different ways by each one of the three men at the table.
"Mrs. Travis", Nathan said in low voice, nodding his head lightly.
"Mary." Chris said, his eyes raising till they met Mary's but remaining in the same position, his back on the back of the chair and his legs resting in the chair next to his.
"Hi, Mrs. Travis." JD said, his face still in his hands.
Mary was surprised for the disenchanted tone JD showed in his voice. This boy was all cheerfulness the entire day. But in fact she had some worries herself.
"Is it something wrong, JD?"
JD reacted and sat up on his chair. "Oh no, Mary... It's nothing... I'm just kind of bored."
Nathan and Chris stared at him.
"Thanks JD, are you saying we aren't a enjoyable company?" The group's leader said amused.
"Oh, no," the kid said turning his head in quick movements from Mary to Chris, to Mary again.
"Damn," he said under his breath, "It's not that Chris... I'm just wondering where the rest of the guys are." He added in a normal tone.
"It's surprising... It seems that all of us are looking for somebody... I came here because I was wondering if you had seen Casey."
The three men shook their heads negatively.
"I don't know where she can be... She told me she would come to the paper early this morning... It's almost lunchtime and I haven't seen her yet. I imagined she could be with you JD."
"No, I'm sorry ma'am. I haven't seen her either." JD said, "it seems everybody's disappearing today..."
"Why do you say that... Are there any problems?" The journalist's instincts were emerging in the blonde woman.
Chris lowered his legs from the chair and raised from his seat.
"No Mary, it isn't any problem... It's just that JD is wondering where the rest of the group is... None of them told us where they were heading this morning... In fact we should go find them and Casey."
"I don't want to worry Nettie with such a silly little thing, maybe she is chatting with somebody and has lost the track of time," Mary offered.
"Don't worry Mary... we'll ride to Nettie's in case she had some problems in the morning." Chris headed to the saloon doors. "I was going to wait on those early risers because they are grown enough to take care of themselves... But Casey is another matter... I hope she isn't in any trouble," Chris said to Mary walking out of the place. Nathan and JD followed them some steps behind.
When they were on the street, Mary turned her head to check how far the two other men walking behind Chris and her were. Seeing they were at enough distance, she talked to Chris in low voice.
"I'm going to give Casey a dress for the next ball... She wants to surprise JD."
"I see..." Chris said with a little grin on his face and shook his head lightly. Was I ever that young? I can see Sarah getting dressed for that Christmas ball... She was so beautiful in that dark green velvet dress... Was that ages ago? He thought.
"Chris, Chris..." Mary tried to catch the gunslinger's attention.
"Yeah, I'm sorry Mary... I was somewhere else," Chris apologized.
"Will you tell me when you find her?"
"Yeah, Mary... you will be the first one." Nathan and JD had already joined their leader.
"Okay, then, see you." Mary turned graciously and headed to the newspaper office, her blonde hair and skirt waving with the movement.
The three men headed to the livery.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah and Vin had their hands on their foreheads protecting their eyes from the sun so they could see the flying path of the ball. They were amazed at Casey's swing...
"How did I do?" Casey turned to the tracker and the ex preacher very excited.
"Wow, Case... You've done great." Vin turned to Josiah in disbelief, "don't you think so, Josiah?"
"Yeah, I agree with brother Vin. You are almost as good as he is."
Vin blushed a little, and Casey smiled sweetly at the two men.
"I admit I'm absolutely astonished Casey." Ezra offered from the distance, some steps behind them.
"Thank you Ezra." Casey shouted graciously staring at the place where her ball had landed. "So, can I keep on playing?"
"Yes, of course my dear," Ezra answered in loud voice.
+ + + + + + +
Chris, JD and Nathan rode to Nettie's shortly after having spoken to Mary to tell her the way they were going to go.
"Do you think Nettie and Casey are in any trouble, Chris?" JD asked. The silence they kept while riding was driving him crazy.
"I don't know JD, probably we are worrying for nothing... but better check than be sorry," Chris said keeping his sight in the horizon. He didn't have a ride planned, but he was hired to keep the town and its surroundings safe so if that meant he had to go to Nettie's to find out if everything was okay. That also meant that if he had to go to hell and back to solve a problem or to bring somebody to justice, he would do it.
Chris had realized a little after the seven of them came together they were like a family, that gave him a reason to keep on with his life. Now he had people who cared about him and he felt the same way about them. After his 'affair' with Ella Gaines, he felt he had failed his friends and himself and now he would do everything he needed to mend it, although the memories about what had happened still hurt too much.
Lost in his thoughts, Chris didn't realize Nathan and JD had kept talking about the issue.
"What do you think?" Nathan had asked more than a minute ago and was waiting for an answer he suspected he wasn't going to receive.
"What?" Chris turned to the healer.
"I was saying that probably Casey forgot about her appointment with Mrs. Travis, don't you think?"
+ + + + + + +
"I'm enjoying this so much!" Casey added swinging the club till rested on her shoulder.
Vin was in the same position looking at the horizon where Josiah had sent his last hit.
"I reckon," Vin stated. His ribs still hurt but it wasn't so bad that it made him stop playing. Absently he reached his side with his hand and touching several times checking how bad the pain was.
"I told you. Humility, that's the lesson of this game. I learned it. Don't expect anything and you'll obtain something... Like a good swing." Josiah grinned, shook his head in satisfaction in two quick movements. The preacher was having a good time too.
"Well, well, I see your idea of entertainment is a complete success, Mr. Sanchez. Look at yourselves, you're happier than infants with candies." Ezra's chuckled from where he was. He really thought it was excellent they had found another thing to do together than take care of town, play poker, share a drink and enjoy their company. "We should purchase more golf clubs to allow our comrades to play as well."
"You think so, Ez? Vin inquired from where he was with Casey and Josiah. Everything was very quiet and they could keep with the conversation without any trouble.
"Why, of course, Mr. Tanner. I don't glimpse any problem at all."
A mischievous smile grew in Vin's face. "So you're saying you're gonna pay for them? That's so nice of you!" Vin shook his head in quick movement feigning admiration.
"I didn't make such affirmation, Mr. Tanner... I... I..." In fact it didn't matter to him to spend money for the clubs, in fact he was willing to do it. Something inside encouraged him to make this little gesture for the men he considered friends, although he didn't admit it openly. He tried to think quickly without letting his true intentions surface. "I can surely offer a way of financing to obtain the instruments of entertainment."
Josiah and Vin laughed out loud. They already knew how Ezra played those monetary 'games'.
"Whatever you say, Ez." Vin said grabbing a ball and walking to where he would try his next swing.
+ + + + + + +
JD didn't know if he was surprised, disappointed or relieved when they reached Nettie's house. On one hand it was great that there wasn't any problem, but at the same time, his more than boring mind wished for some kind of excitement that he supposed they would find when they arrived there.
"It looks pretty quiet, don't you think Chris?" Nathan commented when they had reached the entrance to Nettie's and were almost coming to a halt.
"Yep," Chris answered moving his black hat from his shadowed face. He wanted to have as clear a view of the entire place, in case he was missing something.
"Maybe the troubles or who provoked them have already gone." JD suggested. The day was becoming quite a waste of time to him. He needed to do something fun, interesting... he wasn't even asking for something dangerous, just something to keep his adrenaline in high levels, he supposed.
"I don't think so. Everything looks like it's in its place." Chris explained while his eyes were scrutinizing the surroundings.
"Well, well... What a surprise!" Nettie's voice surprised the three men whose hands flied to where their guns were attached to their bodies. Recognizing who it was, they relaxed and turned their heads to greet the old lady.
"Nettie," Chris was the first one.
"Ma'am," Nathan said.
"Miss Nettie," JD added.
"Boys. What in tarnation brings you here this morning, make that afternoon?"
"Is everything fine around here, Nettie?"
"I can bet it is. At least it's what this old lady can say if her senses don't fool her. Why? Should I be worried?" Nettie asked going down the steps until she reach the ground where she walked toward the three lawmen that were dismounting from their horses.
"Not especially," was Chris's concise answer.
It was Nathan who offered a more complete explanation. "Mrs. Travis asked us if we had seen Casey who was supposed to meet her this morning. We hoped to find out what was happening..."
"Because we don't know where Ezra, Vin and Josiah are either," JD finished.
The three men tied their horses in front of the house and met Nettie.
"That 'crazy-head' of Casey's. She probably forgot. She's around here. She told me she was going for a walk to check on those plants that could be useful for you Nathan or in case there are more rabbits menacing my property, thing very probable since I allowed Vin to dig those little holes all over the far field."
"Why would Vin want to dig holes in your field, Nettie?" JD asked. Everything looked so illogical.
"I don't know and I didn't ask. Anyway there's hardly anything in this world I can deny to that shaggy Texan friend of yours." Nettie explained shaking her head and smiling.
Chris grinned. It was true and at least she admitted it. There were times he himself would need to realize that as well and didn't do it. Vin could get whatever he wanted from him, and most of the time the sharpshooter didn't even have to ask.
"Okay, we'll check around until we find Casey. We'll take care of those three later. Have you seen them anyway?"
"Not this morning. I'll be a little busy cooking the apples I've gotten this year. Find my niece and your friends and come here to take for lunch."
"We don't want to be a problem." Chris stated.
"Since when are you seven a problem for this old woman? You know you're always welcome here. Besides the only ones bringing me troubles are Vin and that fancy-dressed gambler of yours. One because can't be out of trouble and would be here working everyday and the other one, the opposite, because he never comes here to help with 'manual labor' as he says."
The three men chuckled and smiled with Nettie. They knew she wasn't talking seriously. She cared for all of them but those two were kind of special to her, more Vin, but Ezra had gotten her attention to the kind of life the Southerner had led to have that façade, so difficult to crack.
"As I've said, come back later to have lunch and to taste my apple pie and stewed apples."
"Yes ma'am." Chris, Nathan and JD said in unison, grabbing the reins of their horses to leave to search for Casey and the missing members of their group.
+ + + + + + +
"What can I say brother Vin? You really amaze me. This hit was even better. I would have liked God to have blessed me with such a good swing."
Vin scratched the back of his head. "I didn't know there was a sport where it was useful to have good sight, Josiah. I should thank you." Vin was trying to restrain himself from blushing again.
"Oh no, please. I'm the one who needs to thank you. I needed partners to share this time... "
Ezra and Casey rolled their eyes. Ezra couldn't believe Josiah and Vin were exchanging praises, like two men from the aristocratic society and Casey couldn't believe they weren't paying attention to the play.
"Hey! Let's get on with the play? Josiah it's your turn..." Casey said, still swinging the golf club from one side to the other trying to avoid the boredom of the waiting.
"Yep. I'm ready, my dear girl. Let's see."
Josiah walked to where he was supposed to try his next shot. He prepared himself and after more time than Casey would have desired, the ex preacher hit the ball that reached its goal and rolled into its hole.
"Wow Josiah! That was great!" Casey said in astonishment.
"That was amazing as well, Mr. Sanchez. Congratulations." Ezra commented from where he was.
"Yeah, well done, Josiah." Vin exclaimed, letting out a soft whistle. "You're catching up to me."
"I think I've learned some humility. I did it and I succeeded." Josiah's grin was the evidence that the man was really satisfied.
"Now, my turn," Casey announced.
+ + + + + + +
"I don't think they're around here. I'm beginning to think they're hunting." JD commented, as they looked everywhere from their high position on their horses. The three men were riding in line, one next to the other, Chris was in the middle.
"Ezra, hunting?" Nathan inquired in disbelief.
"Yeah, right. Seeing it that way, they can't be hunting. But I can't believe they are playing poker in another town... It's Ezra, the only gambler. Don't you think Chris?"
"Yep. I can't explain why, but I can feel they are near."
JD cast Chris with a puzzled look. That damn connection with Vin, again.
"And where in hell is Casey?" JD's frustration was getting the best of him. He could feel he was exasperated.
"Close, also." Chris's two words at a time weren't getting things better.
JD maneuvered his mount until he was in front of Chris and Nathan, facing them.
"Look Chris I can't believe... better said, I can't understand that... Ouch!"
Suddenly something coming from nowhere had hit JD on the back of the head, sending him to the ground.
Both Chris and Nathan didn't have time to react. They reached for their guns and ducked their heads while dismounting and running to get the youngest who lied face down in the ground.
When the two men reached him and crouched next to JD, Chris found a tiny ball resting next to JD's unconscious form.
"What it's this?" Chris asked holding the ball between his thumb and index finger.
"I don't know. Where did it come from?" Nathan asked checking on JD. "Is he okay?" Chris brought his attention back to the young sheriff.
"I think so. I can't find any injury from the fall and his head it's too hard. He should be back to consciousness soon, although he's going to be dizzy and confused. I can say I ain't gonna envy the headache and lump he is going to have later."
"Neither do I," Chris added.
In that moment they heard several running steps. They stood up and saw Casey running toward them, followed by Vin and Josiah. The three of them had long sticks on their hands.
Casey recognized the man lying on the ground and stopped dead. Vin had already reached her. He and Chris exchanged looks that sent all the information each one of them needed.
"Oh my God what have I done?" She panicked. "JD!, JD!" Vin grabbed her by the arm. JD was coming around.
"Aw, what hit me?" He said sitting on the ground, assisted by Chris and Nathan. He reached the back of his head.
"Let it be, JD. A ball hit you in the head." Nathan explained.
Chris saw the confused look in JD's face.
"It seems you've finally found where Vin, Ezra, Josiah and Casey were and what they were doing?" Chris added trying to hide a smile.
Vin let Casey go who ran to JD's side and knelt next to him.
"Are you okay? I'm sorry. I didn't know you were coming." She tried to justify herself.
"What were you doing? Trying to hunt birds?"
"No," Casey answered a hint of exasperation in his voice. "We were playing golf." She said it like that sentence gave complete meaning to everything.
Ezra had already joined them worried because his three golf partners didn't come back where he was waiting for them.
"Good Lord." He muttered seeing JD on the ground. "I hope you haven't been too incapacitated, Mr. Dunne."
"I'm just fine, Ez." JD began to stand up and was assisted by Nathan and Casey who took Chris's place next to JD.
Chris walked next to Vin. "I imagine all of this has an explanation..." He said showing Vin the ball that hit JD.
"Yep. It has. Want to hear it now?" Vin said resting his golf club over his shoulder.
"You can begin now and keep on while we take lunch at Nettie's."
Everybody heard that and smiled. Getting JD and Casey on two of the horses, the six lawmen walked toward to the golf field and then toward Nettie's.
Nathan and Chris noticed how Vin and Ezra hissed in pain when they mounted, one holding his ribs, the other one his back.
Nathan approached his horse near to the two men. "You two... Can't you do anything without getting hurt? I can't believe it." The healer told them a hint of complaint in his voice.
"I'm fine, Nate." Vin snapped.
"Don't you worry for my physical integrity, Mr. Jackson. I'm in perfectly health." Ezra explained almost at the same time.
"Like if I was going to believe you. I don't want to hear any excuse. I'll take a look when we arrive at Nettie's." Nathan finished the conversation riding his horse a little faster so the two men couldn't say a word.
Chris chuckled. Those two were incorrigible, but it couldn't be very serious when they had spent the morning playing golf.
"So... " Chris said looking at the ball resting on the ground in front of his feet and the gold club next to it. When he was ready he hit the ball which made a perfect path in the air until it landed very close to a hole. "This is golf, huh?" He finished taking between his two fingers the cheroot he had in his mouth and exhaled the smoke.
"Yep. What do you think, cowboy?" Vin was leaning on his golf club next to Chris.
"Interesting," Chris offered.
Both men looked at the horizon without saying anything else for a long time.
"And you say Ezra is going to buy the rest of us clubs so we can play together?"
"Yep. He didn't use those words exactly, but he'll do it."
Although Chris wasn't looking at Vin, he didn't miss the mischievous smile on the ex bounty hunter's face.
"Yeah." Chris added.
Both men decided to sit on the ground for a while.
"And you say Josiah felt uncomfortable asking me to play because he learned about it at Ella's house?"
"Yep. We all know it isn't the best situation to remind you of."
"I reckon, but we had to get something good from that situation. Don't you think so?
"Yep, you're right cowboy."
Author's note: It isn't that Buck was in an unsociable mood. It's just, he had more important things to do, if you know what I mean. =) Btw, he likes play golf too.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org