Chris walked over and leaned on the bat wing doors. He had been sitting with the others when he decided to stretch his legs. He lit a cheroot and watched the street.
"Staring at the street ain't gonna make them come back faster," Buck said.
"Why are you so worried about them?" JD asked.
"Because those two can get in more trouble than you can," Chris answered.
Buck laughed and smacked JD on the back. He scowled at Buck and denied that he got into trouble. Chris blocked out their bickering and went back to staring out the door. He didn't have to wait long. Vin and Ezra rode back into town and headed for the livery. Chris took a pull on the cheroot, pushed open the doors and walked out. He took a seat outside and waited. Vin and Ezra came out of the livery a short time later. Ezra tipped his hat to Chris as he entered the saloon. Vin took a seat next to Chris.
"Howdy, cowboy," Vin said stretching his feet out.
"Have an interesting mornin?" he asked.
"Nothing goin' on outside of town." Vin said.
"That's good," Chris said, finishing the cheroot and grinding the butt out on the bottom of his boot. "We need a break."
The rest of the day went quickly with everyone behaving themselves. The seven spent the evening playing poker in the saloon. Around 11:00 pm Vin announced he was going to bed. Chris said he was finished for the night and headed out with Vin. As they went out the door they were hit with a gust of wind that blew sand and dust along the boardwalk.
"Storm's brewing," Vin commented.
"Looks like a bad one," Chris agreed.
"See ya in the mornin'," Vin said as he headed for his wagon.
Chris glanced up and down the street and watched as a few tumbleweeds bounced along the street. He turned up the collar on his black duster and walked across the street to the boarding house. The wind whipped the duster around Chris's legs as he walked. He opened the door to the boarding house and went to walk in but stopped and looked back. Lightening flashed, casting eerie shadows along the walls. He entered the boarding house and closed the door.
The house was dark. The wind rattled against the windows and blew down the chimney. A match was struck and a hand guarded it from the wind until the wick on the candle caught. The match was blown out and thrown into the fireplace. A chair was pulled out from the table and someone sat down. On the table next to the candle was a copy of the Clarion. The pages were turned then stopped. The paper was picked up and the clicking of scissors could be heard. The clicking stopped and the scissors were placed on the table. Suddenly the wind howled and the breeze down the fireplace blew out the candle. Thunder crashed and a few seconds later lightening lit up the room. On the table was the headless horseman story cut out with a knife sticking in it holding it to the table.
Vin woke the next morning with rain blowing through the opening in the canvas covering the wagon. Thunder crashed followed by lightening. He cursed and sat up. It was going to be a miserable day. He got up, changed and threw on his hide coat, mare's leg and slouch hat. He jumped down from the wagon and headed for the jail. The streets were empty as he walked along the boardwalk. The wind blew fiercely down the street and Vin leaned into it. He made it to the jail and entered. The wind tried to push the door opened and Vin leaned against it until it closed. He walked over to the stove and started a fire. A short time later the stove began to warm up the jail. Vin walked over to the window and looked out. The rain was beginning to stop but not the wind. The thunder crashed and the lightning lit the streets. It was still early and Vin decided to get some sleep.
Chris had lay in his bed until the rain had stopped. The wind was still blowing fiercely as he walked towards the jail. When he entered he wasn't surprised to find Vin sitting behind one of the desks clean his guns. He walked over to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee then walked over and sat across from Vin. He looked up at Chris and nodded then went back to cleaning his gun. Chris smiled as he sipped his coffee. They didn't have to say anything to each but Chris understood him. He started to lean back and get comfortable when the door crashed open.
"Wooeee!!!" Buck yelled as he walked in the door.
"Close the door!" Vin yelled.
"I'm getting to it Pard," Buck said as he wrestled the door close. "Damn that wind is fierce."
"I have a feeling we're going to be busy today," Chris predicted.
"Want some coffee Buck?" Vin asked.
"Don't mind if I do," said Buck as he took the coffee from Vin.
They three of them sat quietly in the jail when JD crashed in.
"Close the door!" the three yelled.
"I'm getting it!" JD protested. "I can't believe this wind."
They tried to hide their smiles as they watched JD struggle with the door. He finally got it closed and he turned to them, smiling. He sat down at his desk and started looking through the wanted posters. Vin finished cleaning his guns. He placed the mare's leg in its holster and stood up.
"Think I'll go check around town," Vin announced. "Make sure everything's OK."
"Are you nuts," Buck said. "You can hardly even walk out there. Besides if something happens they know where to find us."
"No one's gonna come out in this weather Buck," Vin drawled. "I just have a feeling something's going to happen."
Vin opened the door and went out. He started to go down the block when he heard a tremendous crash. Vin ran down the boardwalk to the sound. He went into the alley to see that one of the shacks for the 'working girls' had come down. Vin rushed over and started to move the rubble. He saw a hand sticking out from some boards. Vin knew he couldn't leave and decided to shoot off a round on his mare's leg.
Chris, Buck and JD heard the shot in the jail and jumped up and raced out. They couldn't figure out from which direction it had come.
"Split up," Chris suggested.
Chris pulled his duster close around him and leaned into the wind. He headed in the direction of livery. He checked the alleys as he went down the boardwalk. He saw Vin throwing boards off a shack that had collapsed.
"Buck! JD!!" Chris yelled.
Chris ran over to Vin and he saw the hand sticking out from the rubble. Vin glanced up and Chris started helping move the boards. Buck and JD ran down the alley and saw the problem.
"I'll get Nathan," JD yelled as he ran back out of the alley.
Buck helped Vin and Chris and together they moved the larger pieces. JD returned with Nathan just as they finished uncovering Daisy. Buck was just about to move her.
"Hold on, Buck, let me check her out first," Nathan said, moving in to check the girl.
The others stepped back to give Nathan room. Nathan could see she had a cut on her head but couldn't see any other injuries. He was checking her arms and legs to see if they were broken when they all heard another crash. Vin looked up at Chris, then ran out of the alley.
"JD go with Vin!" Chris yelled over the howling wind.
"Right!" he yelled and followed the tracker.
Vin was headed in the direction of the livery. JD came out of the alley in time to see Vin disappear behind it. As he rounded the edge of the building he could see that one of the lean-tos covering the hay had fallen over. It hadn't quite fallen all the way and JD watched as Vin gave it a push. It tumbled down in a heap.
"What'd you do that for?" JD asked.
"It's safer to knock it down all the way in this wind."
"You ever seen it like this before?"
"Couple of times."
They walked back to see if the others needed help. As they got closer they saw Buck carrying Daisy, followed by Nathan. They headed for his clinic. Chris came out of the alley last. Vin moved next to him and leaned in so he wouldn't have to shout.
"We need to cover the windows," Vin suggested gesturing towards the general store and the Clarion.
"Alright!" he agreed. "JD go find Ezra and Josiah. We're going to need some help. Then I think we better make a patrol around town and make sure everyone is secure."
"We can use some of the boards from this," Vin said pointing the shack.
JD ran off to find Josiah and Ezra as Chris and Vin started gathering boards. Buck came back to find them stacking useable pieces.
"How's Daisy?" Vin asked.
"Just has a knock on the head. She came to while Nathan was cleaning it up. What are you up to?"
"We need to cover those windows," Vin said nodding towards the store and Clarion.
"I reckon you're right," Buck said as he picked up some of the boards.
They walked the boards across the street and dropped them in front of the buildings. Chris stayed by the Clarion while Vin and Buck headed for the general store. Chris went inside and found Mary at the press.
"Good morning, Mr.. Larabee," she greeted. "What has you out on a terrible day like this?"
"The shack Daisy was living in blew down. She was hurt. Nathan's looking after her."
"How bad?" she asked in concern.
"Not that bad," he answered. "We decided with this wind howling we needed to board up the windows."
"Not a bad idea," she said. Just then Vin walked in.
"Ma'am" Vin said pulling on his hat. "Mrs.' Potter gave us some nails and a hammer."
"Alright let's get started," Chris said.
The remainder of the morning was spent boarding up the windows. Some of the town folks gave them a hand. Ezra protested the entire time he was outside. Around noontime the rains returned forcing everyone back inside. They had gotten almost all the windows boarded before it started. Vin and Chris were the last to enter the saloon. All the working girls were also there. Vin took off his hide coat and hung it by the stove. Chris took off his duster and hung it on a peg along the wall. The others regulators were there. All except Nathan. He had stayed with Daisy. Buck, JD, Ezra and Josiah were sitting at their table. They walked over and took a seat. Inez came over and placed a bowl of chili in front of them.
"Thanks," Vin said digging in.
Chris ate his and listened as Buck and JD argued about the storm. He shook his head. The two of them could argue about anything. He watched as Vin leaned back in his chair and stretched out his legs. In no time the tracker was asleep.
"How can he sleep in these chairs?" JD wondered.
"Mr.Tanner has the uncanny ability to slumber in anything," Ezra said. "How he slept out in that wagon of his last night I'll never know."
Ezra dealt out a hand of cards and they all played a few hands. After a few hours of loosing to Ezra the others decided they really didn't want to play any more. JD got up and cautiously opened the door. Inez had pulled closed the outer doors since the usual batwinged ones wouldn't keep out the rain. When he opened the door he could see the rain had stopped and the wind had died down a little.
"Looks like it's stopping," he said.
"I reckon it still had awhile to go yet, " Vin predicted as he sat up.
"Have a nice nap, Brother Vin?" asked Josiah.
"Yup," he answered smiling at the preacher.
JD was still by the doors when he saw Nathan approaching. He opened the door to let him in. After he entered, JD closed the door and followed Nathan over to the table.
"Who's staying with Daisy?" Buck asked.
"One of the other girls," Nathan said. "Can't remember her name."
"Well since the wind stopped I think I'll go check around town," Vin said as he got up and shrugged into his coat and headed out the door.
"They boy can't stay inside even in the worst weather," Nathan commented.
"To tell you the truth I was surprised he lasted this long," Buck laughed.
Vin walked around town and made sure everything was secure. When he came to the Clarion he knocked then entered.
"Howdy, Mary, just checking up on everyone," he said.
"That's awfully sweet Vin but don't you think you've done enough today?"
"To tell you the truth I just couldn't sit inside any more."
"I understand," she said with a smile.
"Well iffen everything's alright I'll head back over to the saloon," he said as he tipped his hat.
"Wait Vin, why don't you take a few copies of the paper with you," she said handing them to him.
"Thank you ma'am," he said, taking the offered papers as he left.
He walked back to the saloon and opened the doors. The others were still siting at the table when he entered. He came over and placed the papers on the table. Ezra picked one up and began to read it. He smiled when he turned the pages to see the next installment of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow". For the rest of the day the seven stayed in the saloon and tried to amuse themselves. Chris had to break up Buck and JD after awhile before he killed them. Around 11:00 pm, Chris decided he'd had enough. The storm had died down somewhat but not completely. He got up and put on his duster and headed for the doors. Nathan and Josiah decided he had the right idea and went with him. Buck grabbed the kid and they went out also. Chris was about to walk out when he turned to Vin.
"I don't want you sleeping out in your wagon tonight," Chris said.
"I'll stay here in the saloon," Vin assured him. Chris nodded and headed out the door.
"I'm sorry Senor Vin, but I have no more rooms," Inez apologized. "I gave them to Violet and Rose."
"That's alright," he said. "I'll just sleep in front of the stove."
"I'll bring you some blankets," she said and went to the back.
"Well I guess I will be heading to bed also," Ezra announced and winked at Vin.
Inez came back and handed Vin some blankets. She wished him good night as she went to her sleeping quarters in back. Vin spread the blankets out then stretched out on them. He put his hands behind his head and listened to the wind outside. Off in the distance he could hear thunder. He stayed there until he was convinced Inez was asleep then headed up to Ezra's room. He knocked softly and Ezra bid him enter.
"I was sure if Mrs. Travis was gonna print a part today," Vin said.
"Well rest assured she did," Ezra said opening to the page. Vin got comfortable on the floor as Ezra began to read.
"How often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on a frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him!- and how often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling amongst the trees, in the idea it was the galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scouring!"
Vin listened and he could imagine the scrawny teacher being afraid of his own shadow. He thought this was a great night to be reading this story. The wind howling outside Ezra's window made every thing seem eerie. Vin laughed outright when Ichobod described his encounter with Katrina Van Tassel.
"Reckon he's got it bad for this Katrina?" Vin asked.
"It would appear so," Ezra answered and continued.
"He was broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short, curly black hair, and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance,. . ."
"Counter what?" Vin asked.
"Countenance," Ezra corrected. "It's the way a person looks."
"So what Irving is trying to say is this fella was handsome?"
"Yes," Ezra answered and continued where he left off.
". . .having a mingled air of fun and arrogance. From his Herculean frame, . . . and before you ask Hercules was a half-mortal half-god from Greece who was very strong."
Vin laughed and Ezra continued.
". . . and great powers of limb, he received the nickname Brom Bones, by which he was universally known."
Ezra read some more before they heard what sounded like a scream. They weren't sure and they both looked at each other thinking it was the wind. Suddenly they heard it again and Vin jumped up. Ezra grabbed his gun and followed the tracker out the door. As they came down the stairs, they saw Inez come from the back. She was about to ask them something when they heard the scream out back. Vin raced out the door to find Violet leaning against the wall white as a ghost. He was about to ask her what was wrong when a flash of lightning revealed a dead body.
"I'll go get Chris," Ezra said and went back inside.
"Inez why don't you take Violet back inside," he suggested.
"All right," she said and led the unresisting girl back in.
Vin was just about to check the body when Ezra returned with Chris. As he turned him over the lightening flashed and they could see something on his chest. Ezra tried to hold up the lantern he had brought, but the light it threw wasn't bright enough. They didn't have long to wait before another flash of lightning revealed a newspaper article pinned to the dead man's body. Vin pulled it off and stood up. He moved it into the light from the lantern. It was a clipping from Mary's newspaper. It was the Sleepy Hollow story covered with blood.
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