"Trouble?" Chris asked, he was headed for the clinic as well, Buck right behind him, when they saw the two men step out from the jail house. "Wilson boys was fightin again," Vin said with ease.
"They're in there!?" Buck asked, not believing that of all people Ezra had allowed it.
"Yup," Vin answered, taking a step away from the jail, the rest following.
"Them boys just lost there Pa not two months ago. Ya gotta give them some time," Buck tried to reason.
"And there mother just lost her husband. You've seen how upset Mrs. Wilson gets when they are bickering and the such. If their behavior is allowed, they will visit a jail cell more often than not, and perhaps the end of a rope," Ezra defended their actions.
"So ya' locked them in jail?" Buck asked, so far Chris hadn't said anything.
"They ain't locked in, doors closed but we didn't lock the door," Vin smiled.
"They know that?" Chris finally asked.
"Nope," Vin answered.
"We told the young 'miscreants' that we would be checking in to inspect there progress," Ezra said, following Vin up the stairs to the clinic.
"Progress? What ya' got them doin? Writin' 'I won't fight with my brother' 100 times?" Buck laughed out, as Vin opened the door.
"Cleaning the cells," Vin smiled.
"Who's cleanin' the cells?" asked a very tired voice from the bed.
"Hey little brother, how ya feelin'?" Vin asked softly, happy to see the color back in JD face, even though there was still a sheen of sweat covering his face.
"Still sore as all can be, but I'm better I guess," he smiled, he slowly began to push himself up to sit, welcoming the hand that helped him.
"Thanks," JD sighed.
"Fever broke a while back, Josiah came and got me when he woke up. He ain't had no spasms," Nathan nodded with a smile.
"You gonna answer me..bout the cells?" JD asked again.
"Wilson boys, they was fightin again," Vin answered.
"Ya' only gave them one bucket, right?" JD asked.
"Yup, and in the same cell, just like we talked about," Vin smiled.
"And that's gonna solve what?" Buck asked, letting the two brothers know that he wasn't at all happy about what had been done to the Wilson brothers.
"So they can learn to work together," Vin said harshly.
"And get along maybe," JD added.
"I think that's a fine idea," Chris gave his opinion.
"And what happens when one of them dumps the water on the other?" Buck questioned.
"Well..I guess they'd be wet..then we separate them," JD said.
"You two got this all figured out huh?" Buck asked sarcastically, "For cryin' out loud their just kids!"
"Kid's who are always fightin Buck. Don't know 'bout you, but I hate to tell their Momma that they done got themselves run over by a wagon cause they was fightin," JD stated.
"I understand that..but it ain't our place to.." Buck began.
"Was it our place to go fix that fence for her two weeks ago?" Chris asked, knowing that Buck had been on patrol and saw the widow trying to fix the fence, and keep the cattle in at the same time. He came back to town, reported his findings and suggested they go out and help, knowing the woman was too proud to ask for it.
"That was just..aw hell, I ain't gonna argue over this..kid, glad you're feelin better. I'm gonna go check on them, make sure they ain't killed each other," Buck sighed, giving up the fight knowing all to well that he was outnumbered.
+ + + + + + +
Two weeks had passed since JD had run out of town to retrieve his brother from three bounty hunters. Chris had received a telegram from Stan, stating he and Morris were in San Fransisco, and were presently looking for jobs, Alexander Sweetser stayed away from Four Corners, he had been spotted in near by Eagle Bend several times by Nathan and Josiah who had gone there for supplies.
JD was a visible presence in town, and had been for 2 days. It had been a frustrating recovery, every day he had gotten stronger and with the new found strength, he would over do; and with over doing came the cramps or a constant unsteady shake, usually when he was trying to eat, which in turn required someone to feed him and change the sheets if it had been soup he had been served.
'One step forward, two steps back' is what Ezra had said of JD's plight once, JD felt more like it was a dozen back. After a week in bed and a move back to his own room, JD felt ready to walk, Nathan had warned him to just stand..but JD being JD knew how he felt better than Nathan, so when all had thought he was asleep and headed off to eat their supper, JD thought it a good time to try out walking.
After he crawled back to his bed, he decided Nathan might have had a good point, and later that night when both legs seized up on him, he knew Nathan had been right.
JD remembered thinking, as he walked down the street, that he thought he was going to be in that bed forever, but that was behind him now, everything was behind him...the cramping, the fevers, the bounty hunters..and camping, he hoped. Ezra had filled him in on the 'pardon' after the sheriff had asked about it, he vaguely remembered something being said, JD could only hope that the news would spread to Tascosa and back..then wondered what the circuit judge would think when he heard about the made up piece of paper, maybe he'd just let it go, or worse, arrest Vin. He had to think that the Judge knew about the charges, after all..he was a judge.
JD walked into the hotel, Vin waved and stood, then walked to meet his brother.
"Ready?" Vin asked.
"Yup. They here yet?" JD asked.
"You're kidding right?" Vin laughed.
JD smiled, then followed his brother out the door, they walked to the bath house, each grabbing the bucket of water they had requested, then headed for their final destination.
"Howdy boys," Vin said, shutting the door after putting the bucket on the floor.
"Ya' two ready?" JD asked, stepping closer to the smiling boys.
"You bet Mr. Vin, Hey..Mr. JD..Matty made ya' somethin'," young Samuel Wilson asked.
JD took the paper from Matthew, he opened it..and on the paper was a picture of two small figures fishing, on the other side was a crudely drawn picture of two larger figures on horses, one wearing a familiar bowler hat..at least JD hoped that's what it was. Under the picture was written something JD had told Matthew Wilson time and time again.. 'Older brothers ain't so bad'.
"Thanks Matty," JD smiled, lifting his bucket and heading for the empty cell.
"Don't worry Mister, once we get this one clean, we'll move ya so as ya' don't get wet," Samuel offered.
Vin went into the same empty cell, he sat his bucket in the opposite corner as JD had, then made his way to where JD stood, as Matty went to join his brother.
"Say the word Matty," Vin smiled, he and JD grabbing at the brushes.
"On your mark," Matty began, as he and his brother did the same, "get set...GO!"
And the race was on to see who could finish their half of the cell first. It was a close contest until Matty mistakenly splattered water onto Samuel, who screamed and stood. Vin noticed the potential problem so he did the only thing he could do..he splattered JD, JD in turn..splattered Vin, the next thing old Man Morin knew..water was flying everywhere until the water was gone and everyone was soaked.
Chris and Ezra were near the jail house when they heard screams and shrieks, they entered the building quickly with guns drawn and at the ready after hearing Old Man Morin yell in a threatening tone, what exactly either peacekeeper couldn't understand.
"What's going..." Chris began loudly, "on?" he asked, his tone changed as he saw the four occupants of the opened cell, JD, Samuel and Matty holding scrub brushes in their hands..and Vin...standing over Matty and JD, with the bucket upside down over the two.
"Umm..cleanin'," Matty offered tentatively.
"JD-ish Priest..I thought the idea of this was to clean the cell..not each other," Ezra smiled, sitting at the desk, propping his legs up.
"Mr. Vin..did he just say JD-ish?" Samuel whispered.
"I think so," Vin answered, a smile forming making the questionable look on his face disappear.
JD looked to Vin as Vin stood straight, he mouthed the phrase he had just heard Ezra say, Vin just shrugged his shoulders.
"Larabee, let me outta here..I'm soaked to the bone!" Morin demanded from his cell.
"Shut up Darryl..you needed the bath..trust me," Chris responded to the ranch hand.
"You trying to get sick again?" Chris asked, turning his attention the youngest of the 'responsible adults'.
"Water was warm..sides..Vin started it..he splashed me first," JD defended, dropping his brush, resting his hands on his hips. His signature look made worse by the dark wet hair that hung in his eyes and clung to his face.
"Matty started it!" Vin accused, pointing a finger to the two boys.
"Really Mr. Tanner..I am appalled, blaming these two sweet young boys on your irrational behavior, Tsk tsk tsk," Ezra sighed.
"Sammy, Matty..come here," Chris ordered, the two boys dropped their brushes and complied.
"Ezra," Chris said, Ezra stood from where he sat, in a motion faster than JD or Vin could move, the cell door was shut and locked.
"Hey!" the brothers yelped.
"You two go see Josiah, tell him I sent you, he'll have some dry clothes that should fit, I'll be over after and take ya home," Chris said, patting the backs of the two boys as they left the jail house.
"Mr. Larabee?" Ezra said expectantly.
"Vin Tanner, 6 foot..something..age....usually 23..today..13," Chris said, pacing in front of the jail, eyeing his prisoners who sat on the cot, dripping wet.
"JD Dunne, 5 foot..something else...age..usually 19..today..12," he continued.
"Hey!! That ain't fair! You took 10 years off me..ya only took 7 off his!" Vin protested.
"Change that to 10 Ezra," Chris smiled, Morin in the next cell couldn't control his laughter any longer and let out a loud snicker.
"Shut up!" came the chorus of four, the man instantly shut up, and returned to his cot.
"Their sentence?" Ezra asked, after composing himself from the outburst.
"Given the circumstances..and the purpose of cleaning the cells has some how been lost on the you two 'kids', I think I'll sentence you....for one week...with the Wilson brothers.....to camping," Chris said, casting a glance and a nod to Ezra as he spoke, the gambler stood from his desk as the two made their way to the opened door, then bolted as Chris revealed the sentence.
"WHAT!!! YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!! THERE'S NO WAY I'M GOIN CAMPIN' WITH HIM!" the brothers yelled, each pointing a finger in the others direction.
Chris and Ezra exited the jail as the chorus of protest was heard, both shaking there heads and smiling.
Josiah and the Wilson brothers, changed and dry, came to the jail.
"Do you think that was an appropriate punishment, considering that the camping trip between the two 'kids', as you called them, was the start of this whole mess?" Ezra said.
"Yup, besides, Sammy and Matty will keep them from fighting. Right boys?" Chris smiled.
The two boys were wide eyed, smiles on their faces and their heads bobbing up and down enthusiastically as they bounced with excitement.
"Dunnederful, we are trusting the well fare of those two in THERE, to the two out HERE," Ezra sighed.
"Mr. Ezra? What's 'Dunnederful mean?" Matty asked innocently.
"Young Mr. Wilson..you must have wax in you're ears..I clearly said Wonderful..not Dunnederful," Ezra smiled and chuckled.
"No Ezra..you said Dunnederful," Chris laughed out, Josiah smiled and nodded in agreement.
"I beg your pardon, but what I said was Nathan-ing...NOTHing, to what...Aww Hell!" Ezra cursed, his face red he turned to leave, sighing "I need a Larabee-ation..Libation..A DRINK!"
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