Where The Buffalo Roam

by Kris Mashburn

OW Virtual Season 2


Corporal Clark knew that the Sarge didn't want too many of the men in town at one time, but with his absence, they weren't sticking by the orders. He hoped they wouldn't get into too much trouble. Clark had Grant ride into town and get a census of the men in the saloon. Figured this was the place that caused the most problems.

Clark looked up and saw the dust cloud draw closer to town. A young man was riding the horse as fast as it would go. He rode straight through town to Nathan's place.

He jumped off his horse yelling for Nathan. "Nathan, Nathan……I need help." Nathan came out of his rooms wiping his hands and looked over the railing.

"What can I be doing for ya?" Nathan asked from above.

"It's my ma, cows stepped on her. She was bleeding and bones were sticking out." He was breathing hard.

"Let me get my bag. Meet me at the livery, hafta saddle my horse." Gabbing his stuff, he rushed down the stairs and over to the livery. As he was saddling his horse, Vin came in from his afternoon patrol. Nathan told him, "going to the Evans farm. His ma is hurt real bad, cow stepped." Vin nodded as Nathan indicated Thomas Evans waiting impatiently. With a wave, Nathan was on his way.

They took the quickest route out of town. They missed the agitated rider coming in, demanding justice. Vin followed him to Chris, standing in front of the sheriff's office.

"I followed a horse thief into town. I want my horse back and I want the fool hung." John Phillips demanded.

Chris shifted position, when Vin broke in with, "Evan's kid from the neighboring farm?"

"Yeah that's who it looked like. A no-good, wild kid," Phillips was heated up. Corporal Clark caught the tail end of the conversation as he came up from behind still seated on his horse.

"We'll hunt him down for ya." He stated firmly. That'll get some of the men out of the saloon.

"Hold on," Vin growled loudly, "Evan's ma got cow stepped, said there was lots of blood. All he could think ‘bout was getting Nathan as quick as possible. They're on their way back now. Yer getting yer horse back." Army tended to ask questions after the fact.

"Make no never no mind, he stole it and I want him punished." Phillips said, talking to the Corporal.

Clark signaled to Grant, standing outside the saloon. Grant then turned to the saloon doors and called out, "Regiment 10, we're to catch a horse thief." Six men got up and followed Grant.

Ezra, also in the saloon, heard the announcement and followed the men out side. He could see Vin was worked up. As that was not a common occurrence, he made his way quickly across the street. He could hear Vin, "They're gonna kill that boy for no reason. We gotta go after em."

"What's the name of the walking corpse?" Ezra asked.

Chris replied as Vin went into the office to get more ammo. "Phillips want to string up the Evan's boy for taking his horse to ride into town to get Nathan. His ma is hurt real bad. Army interfered and offered to do just that." Chris was heading to the livery to get his horse and Ezra was having to endue a bit of pain to keep up. "Ezra, you stay here," Chris smiled at Ezra's expression of ‘obviously', "The rest of us will ride to the Evan's place. Stop this before it starts."

"Mr. Larabee, there is bad blood between Mr. Phillips and the Evans', they refused to sell to him and he's had it in for them since." Chris nodded at the additional information. Ezra tipped his hat to Larabee and Tanner as they headed for the church to get Josiah and JD. The four rode out to stop a hanging. Before they were half way there, they were joined by Buck.

Buck said, "Ezra sent me."

"Glad you're here."

+ + + + + + +

Nathan jumped off his horse and started tending Mrs. Evans right away. All that blood didn't make it look good. But as Nathan cleared the mud away, he realized that she had used the mud as a bandage and it actually helped stem the flow of blood. He yelled over to Thomas to fetch some water and he took to checking her over for any other injuries. He found that her leg was broken in two places, one of those breaks protruded through the skin. This was serious and he was worried. But before he deal with that he had to get her up to the house.

Thomas placed a bucket of water next to Nathan, then he looked worriedly at his mother. "Thomas, do you have a wagon? We need to get yer ma up the house so as I can fix her leg."

Tears welled up in the boy's eyes as he shook his head, "Had to sell it."

Nathan took that in stride and shifted gears, "Okay, bring me two or three blankets." The boy nodded and ran toward the house.

It was as the boy was coming out of the house that Phillips and the Army rode up. Phillips hollered that there the thief was and the Corporal's men jumped off their horses and jumped on the boy. He tried to fight them, his ma upper most in his mind but the four men overwhelmed in no time.

They started dragging him to the barn, and as Nathan saw what was happening, he ran full out toward them, yelling and screaming as did. As he drew close enough the Corporal said, "Don't interfere."

One soldier held the boy as another two worked the rope and were fixing to place it around his neck. It was as the rope hovered above the youth's heard that bullets sprayed the ground. The soldiers all went for their guns, but stared up into the faces of five men on horses with their guns fixed right on them. Also, one gun was on them from ground level, Nathan.

Chris kept his eyes on the Corporal as he spoke to the boy, "Thomas, move away from the soldiers." He did as he was told. He picked up the fallen blankets, then looked over at Nathan. Nathan nodded his head, then indicated that he go to his ma.

Nathan spoke aloud, "That boy's ma is lying in that field over there, her leg is broke in two places. He's scared. They don't have no wagon and the only horse is an old one, hooked up to the plow."

Josiah added upon hearing what information Ezra had shared, "The boy probably asked first and you said no……that how it went. Your anger at their not selling, cloud your ability to help, Mr. Phillips?"

Corporal Clark lived by the letter of the law. "Don't change that the boy stole a horse and you hang horse thieves."

"Well, their ain't gonna be no hanging today." Vin said and his voice booked no argument.

Buck and JD finished retrieving all the weapons and Buck looked up to Chris for guidance for the placement of said guns.

Chris indicated the Corporal. Buck furrowed his brows but complied with Chris' silent request. To the Corporal Chris said, "The problems of this town fall under our jurisdiction. Until I receive a letter from the Federal Marshall saying different, our decision stands. You can take those weapons and your men and ride out of here, or we can shoot ya. Your choice." The hard, fierce look from his eyes promised a slow and painful death if they chose wrong.

The Corporal knew when to retreat and signaled his men to mount and leave. Phillips on the other hand was sputtering. Chris turned his savage look on Phillips, "If that boy's ma dies, you'll be up on murder charges. So get yer sorry ass out of here, NOW." Chris' eyes followed Phillips as he nervously backed away, got on his horse and rode away."

JD was staring at Chris with renewed hero worship. Buck laughed, "Hell, Chris I love that feral look you use on unsuspecting folk. Scared the wad out of that one." Pointing to the departing Phillips as he continued laughing.

Nathan, on the other hand looked serious. "I need help getting Mrs. Evans to the house. She's hurt real bad." As Nathan ran back to the woman, five men rode over to lend a hand.

Nathan rolled Mrs. Evans onto the blankets and the six of them carried her slowly to the house. Nathan sent the boy ahead to make a place for her on the kitchen table. He was relieved that she was still out for the move was sure to be even more painful than the accident.

Josiah and Buck took Thomas out back to get the plow, unhook the horse and generally keep him away from the doings in the kitchen. Nathan got the wound clean to the visual eye, but it was the smaller dirt that he was worried about. He looked over at his partners and put out his thoughts for their opinions.

"Most times, folks die when ya stick the bone back in. But I've been reading on some new ways of dealing with this……..Guess what I'm asking is, should I try something like that?"

"She'll die otherwise?" Vin asked quietly.

Nathan nodded sadly.

"Nathan, we've seen you do some amazing things to keep all of us alive." JD said honestly, "I know if it was me, I'd rather have you try something like that, than to just die. I'd trust you."

Chris couldn't help but feel proud of JD. His nodded his head and said aloud, "I agree with JD." The others nodded. JD felt great. Nathan was amazed at the trust his friends put in him. Gave him a renewed energy.

He nodded his head at them, "Okay, this is what we need to do…" He explained that they had to boil all the water and that then they had to use that water to clean the bone. They had to do the same to skin around the opening. He had JD do the ether drip, as both Chris and Vin helped with the washing. Nathan anguished at the burning of the skin but he knew it was her only chance. He was finally ready to place the bone back.

For the final part, he had Chris grab the women from behind and around the chest. Vin took one leg and JD helped him with the broken one. "I'm gonna count, 3..2..1, and on one, together we'll pull apart. That will force the bone back in." He looked at his assistants, each one nodded that they were ready. "Okay, 3..2..1." They pulled and the bone slipped back in. Even in her unconscious state she groaned loudly. Nathan fished out the boiled string and sewed up the hole. They carried her to her bed, and Nathan sent JD to get the boy so he could sit with her.

As Nathan exited the bedroom, Chris put his hand on Nathan's shoulder, "Good job."

Vin smiled at him. "Make sure I'm really out before you do that one to me. You gave her a fighting chance."

Nathan couldn't ignore the good feeling their praise gave him. He felt essential.

Chris and Vin went outside to see what was keeping Josiah and Buck. They found them in the field trying to finish the plowing. JD was standing nearby chuckling at how silly they looked.

"You fellas know what you're doing?" Chris asked.

"Thought so, not sure now." Josiah answered ruefully. That had all of them laughing.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan elected to stay, to be with Mrs. Evans through the night. Her husband wasn't expected back for another two weeks. JD promised he'd be out in the morning to see Nathan and bring the list of herbs that he wanted.

The five men reached town just as the sun was setting. Chris could see the relieved look on Ezra's face as they rode in. Chris rode straight over to the saloon, "Problem?"

"Another robbery victim is resting over at Mrs. Potters. And there seen to be a large number of disgruntled soldiers that missed an afternoon fun of a hanging. I do believe that we are in for a rough night." Ezra smiled as he believed that was an understatement. "All went well?"

Chris nodded, "Though Nathan stayed the night. Who was robbed?"

"A guest to this fair town, I was hoping that you would take a few moments to speak with him." Ezra asked.

"What could I ask that you already haven't?" Chris thought highly of Ezra's information gathering abilities.

While gratified at Chris' non-compliment compliment he pushed on, "To confirm a hypothesis I've begun to form."

Chris was tired and wanted a drink, but said, "Lead on." He got off his horse, tied her up and followed Ezra to Mrs. Potter's.

Mrs. Potter was glad to see the men return, "He getting anxious to leave."

"Did the bleeding stop?" Ezra asked of her. She nodded.

"Ah, Mr. Dixon, I hope you are feeling rested after your ordeal. This Mr. Larabee, our lawman. Mr. Larabee, Mr. Dixon. He's on his way to California."

"I'm sorry that you got robbed, did you get a look at who hit you."

"No, sir, I did not. I was hit from behind and all that was taken was my watch and money clip." Mr. Dixon answered. Chris understood what Ezra was suspecting.

"If you leave a description and an address I will forward anything we find." Chris put out his hand and Mr. Dixon accepted it and then shook Ezra's on his way out. Chris turned to Ezra after he left the store. "The accent, he's from the south. You think that's the reason." Both were said as statements, not questions.

"Indeed, I do." Ezra looked disappointed. "I hate to point out the obvious, but….."

Chris finished for him, "That Cavalry unit. Some reacted real strong to your accent. I'll have to speak with Sergeant Lewis." A prospect that did not sit well. He liked the Sergeant. "Round up the boys, we need to meet at the office, saloon'll be too busy."

Ezra nodded as he went in search of his comrades.

+ + + + + + +

Six men gathered in the Sheriff's office, information shared, same conclusion drawn by all.

"So, a few members of the unit is probably responsible for these robberies." Josiah was saddened, but not surprised. Bigotry knows no color boundaries.

"Let's keep more alert to conversions and who's where. They should be leaving in the next day or so. Their Indian situation completed." Chris felt he was stating the obvious.

"I'm gonna ride out with the Kid tomorrow. Think it'd be safer to be in groups." Buck couldn't help worrying about the young'in.

"Now, let's go make sure the saloon stays safe." Vin smiled as everyone jumped up for that duty.

Their table was open for them, Ezra tipped his hat at Inez, he knew it was her doing. They drank beer instead of whiskey, and none of the card games were taken too serious as their attention was fixed in other places about the saloon.

It was when JD and Ezra went to refill their mugs with the special beer that they overheard a disparaging remark about Nathan. His poor choice in friends made him untrustworthy. They brought over the mugs and sat down again. JD pointing out to the others who had made the bad remarks about Nathan.

"Nathan, out of every one of us seems the most honest, no offense Josiah. It seems a shame that they don't know him better." JD was offended on Nathan's behalf.

"Mr. Dunne, I whole heartedly concur with you." Ezra said to the Kid.

"Really, Ez, you guys seem to fight a lot." JD replied. All eyes were focused on Ezra waiting for his answer.

"Mr. Jackson and I may have our differences in regards to gainful employment, but as far as integrity, Mr. Jackson has more than many a white man I've dealt with."

"Hell, Ezra, you don't always deal with the most honest of people,'' JD said with a roll of his eyes.

"Exactly, Mr. Dunne, so I know what of I speak," Ezra raised his eyes and saluted JD with his glass.

No expression played on Chris' face, but he was thinking that JD wasn't too bad himself in extracting honest information.

+ + + + + + +

They'd almost made it through the evening, but as one patron took exception to another a fight ensued which egged on all the others and another free-for-all brawl erupted. Ezra cringed at the lost chairs and tables. Inez may have been speaking Spanish, but most understood the message loud and clear. Broken glass was everywhere and the Four Corners peacekeepers were having a long night. By two a.m. the jail was full and Sergeant Lewis had been called in to haul his men away.

Again he assured Ezra that the Army would pay for damages. Chris took that opportunity to ask him to come into town in the morning, for a necessary discussion. The evening was finally over.

+ + + + + + +

Morning came early for Buck. JD was anxious to get the herbs and bandages out to Nathan. He had to drag Buck out of bed and he still looked groggy as he mounted his horse. He handed the extra goodies that Mrs. Potter sent along to Buck to put in his saddle bags. The heat wave had broken and the normal spring air was nice for a morning ride. Buck woke somewhere along the ride and became his jovial self. JD was glad he was dying to tell the joke he had just learned.

+ + + + + + +

Morning came too early for Chris, but not because he was tired. He liked Sergeant Lewis and he hoped he wouldn't take the accusation personally. Chris was just finishing his breakfast as Lewis rode up.

Lewis dismounted and walked slowly over to Chris' table. "Shall I return later?" Indicating the food on the table.

"No need, I'm finished." Chris wiped his mouth and drank the last of his coffee.

Inez must have been hovering, for she was there to pick up the dishes immediately. She nodded at the Sergeant and asked, "Would you like some coffee?" He nodded and smiled his thanks.

She was back quickly, refilled Chris' cup and poured a fresh one for the Sergeant.

Chris really didn't go in for fancy speech or the banalities of trivial conversion. He liked to plain speak, "We've had several robberies in the last coupla days." He held up his hand to ward off the obvious questions he saw forming on the Sergeants face. "The only reason suspicion has been thrown on your men, is the fact that only Southern men have been attached, and they've been called Reb while they're down." Chris didn't say anything else. He let the man in front of him think on it.

Lewis wasn't pleased, his men are frequently accused of wrong doings in most towns they travel through. One of the many banes Negroes live with. But Lewis was a fair man, his daddy taught him early on that there is good and bad in all shapes and colors. So he thought on how Mr. Larabee has treated him and his unit since they got here. Seems the only restrictions that had been placed on them, dealt with the Indian issues. Which in itself, said a lot about the caliber of the peacekeepers. He looked Chris directly in the eyes as he asked, "You feel pretty sure bout this?" Though phrased like a question, it sounded more like a statement.

Chris held his lips together as he gave a reluctant nod.

The reluctance of that nod was more confirmation than a passel lode of evidence. "Get me a list of the items stolen, I will look into it. There are some bitter men, ones that can't leave the past alone. I'll speak with you later." The Sergeant finished the coffee, "This is better than the brew made at camp." The two men smiled at each other.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan was tired, but not too tired to enjoy the discomfort of his two companions. They had arrived plenty early with the herbs for the healing teas. Mrs. Evans had done well through the night. She'd complained about the pain, but she was awake and coherent. Looks like he warded off the infection. He was real relieved…trying somethin new is scary.

Buck had said that while Nathan was fixin up his teas, he would go help Thomas, out in the field. Well, JD tagged along, and Nathan was sad he missed the first part, but he saw enough for some story mileage. What he had seen was, JD on the back of the plow horse and Buck bouncing on his backside, spewing mud everywhere. Thomas could help but laugh. JD ended up laughing so hard that he fell into the mud also. Seems that Buck couldn't get out of the harness and JD had scared the horse into action, so she ran every which way. When Buck tried to right himself, he ended up falling forwards and eventually ended up with mud everywhere. He was so dang mad that he dumped JD into a huge puddle of mud. Well…when JD's hat got mud on it, he lost it and scooped up a handful and threw it in Buck's face. Buck returned the favor….hence their current discomfort.

Nathan laughed aloud, "Ya know Vin's gonna love this!" Nathan couldn't resist.

As they got real close to town, Nathan was chuckling already. He knew it was Vin's watch and he probably had seen them in his scope by know. And if Ezra were here, Nathan thought he just might take a bet…..he was betting that Vin's got the rest of em outside waiting for them.

Buck started chuckling at Nathan's chuckle, his thoughts were running parallel to Nathan's.

Nathan' smiled grew wider as the rode threw town. Both sides of the street had folks waiting to see the pair of clowns riding in. Buck gave Vin an I'm gonna get even look as he passed him.

Vin just called out, "Hey, Bucklin!"

JD just smiled and waved, riding straight for the bath house. He thought the mud was itchy.

Ezra was waiting there and couldn't resist a spot of teasing. Keeping his voice completely serious, said to JD, "Nice hair, an I mean that." Ezra kept that innocent look on his face. JD's hair was hardened in spikes, shooting out in all directions.

Buck took a bit longer to get to the bath house. As he passed Ezra, he said, "I got four offers to help wash this off. Guess I'm gonna have to try this more often." Smirking he went inside. Leaving Ezra puzzled as to the mental capabilities of those women.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan finished rewrapping Ezra's ribs, "Still shouldn't ride for the next week."

Ezra nodded his head, not giving in to the temptation of replying how obvious that would be due to all the pain he was in. He walked down the stairs slowly and turned to his left when he felt a gun in his back. He was shoved roughly forward, to where three soldiers waited for him. They hit him in the gut and the ribs. Ezra doubled over in pain, but refused to go down, the trio redoubled their efforts to inflict pain.

Ezra was thinking of escape when he heard Nathan call after him, "Wait Ezra you forgot…" whatever he was planning on saying was lost as he saw the Negro soldier holding a gun over Ezra as the other soldiers continued hitting him. Nathan took out his gun and bellowed, "Leave him be." He kept his gun on the soldier holding the gun.

Jessup, the soldier with the gun, turned to Nathan saying, "Don't worry none on this we're jus gittin some of our own back. Here's yer chance….you can hit him too."

Nathan fired a warning shot at the trio. That stopped them hitting on Ezra. As they backed off him, Ezra struggled to stand. Nathan told the soldiers, "Move on away, away from him." He indicated with the gun which direction he wanted them to move.

Jessup was mad, "That's a Johnny Reb. What are you doin, protectin the likes of him? He's jus Southern trash. Your skin's black, jus like mine. Don't be siding with him, what's he gonna do for you? He'll step all over ya if he gets the chance."

Ezra was moving closer to Nathan as Jessup spoke.

Now Jessup made Nathan angry, pointing at Ezra, "That white man has saved my life on several occasions, and puts his life on the line almost daily. Right now, I would trust that Southern white man with my life, the same could not be said about you."

"Why, yer jus a white boy wannabe," he spits at Nathan, "You a dream of bein white? You think dez white folk are gonna treat you like some white man?" The sneer in his voice was evident.

Nathan stood with dignity, looking Jessup straight in the eye, gun still trained on the group as he said, "No, just a Man." Ezra stood frozen to the spot mesmerized by Nathan's words.

Jessup looked at Nathan, then turned his attention to the Southerner, the Reb he hated. But at that moment he felt more betrayed by Nathan, one of his own. Without warning he fired at Nathan.

Ezra shifted his attention from Nathan to Jessup, as he still held a gun. Ezra could feel that Jessup truly wanted to use it. He watched the man's eyes, could almost see the discussion he was having with himself reflected there. His eyes told Ezra the tale, he was going to shoot Nathan. Ezra jumped in front of Nathan as Jessup pulled the trigger.

Lewis had just come back into town. He dismounted and approached Chris Larabee, but before words were exchanged they heard a shot coming from the other end of town. The two men ran down the street and were joined by Vin as he yelled, "Came from Nathan's. They entered the alley way cautiously with guns drawn.

Lewis saw his own man facing Nathan, weapon drawn, before he could say a word, he saw Jessup make the decision to shoot Nathan. Lewis fired his weapon, hitting Jessup in the heart, but not before the bullet had already left his gun.

As if in slow motion, Lewis, Chris and Vin watched as the Southern gambler threw his body into Nathan and took the bullet for him.

The bullet entered Ezra's back as he knocked Nathan over with the force of the shove and bullet impact. The yelp of pain galvanized everyone into action.

Josiah and JD had Jessup's partners disarmed as Vin collected the weapons. Lewis called for one of his men to get their doctor from camp. Buck helped Nathan up and collect himself, while making sure he wasn't hit.

Chris had rushed to Ezra and gathered him in his arms as he lay face down on the ground. He turned him around and applied pressure to the profusely bleeding wound, as he whispered loudly into the gambler's ear, "Don't you die on me, you son of a bitch."

A weak voice answered back, "Not exactly my first choice of the last endearment I hear before I die."

Chris looked down into green eyes filled with pain and whispered intently, "You can't die Ezra, I need you here." Green eyes search hazel ones for the lie and found none. Only the truth lay there, uncovered for him to see. Chris cared more deeply than the conman would have ever believed. Chris didn't break eye contact, "There is no team without you…..take your biggest gamble…Ezra live." Chris kept the eye contact, willing him to live, until Ezra's eyes closed and his head lulled to the side. Chris' anguished, "NO," had Nathan up and rushing to his side.

Nathan immediately felt for Ezra's pulse, "Chris, he's still alive." Nathan tried to get Chris' attention, "We gotta get Ezra upstairs, take out the bullet. Stop the bleeding."

But his words weren't reaching Chris. He was lost in trying to hold on to Ezra's life force, one of his fellow peacekeepers, willing him to live. Josiah gently gathered Ezra up as he untangled him from Chris' arms. "Let's go save our friend." Chris unquestionably released Ezra to Josiah's arms and followed him as they went to Nathan's office.

The army medics arrived just after Nathan cleaned the wound. They watched and guided Nathan through it. He didn't need them, he was doing fine on his own. That reaction from trained medics gave Nathan that extra boost of confidence to skillfully remove the bullet. Before he closed, one Medic suggested, "Cut in a bit further and check for a nic in the lung." Sure enough a small hole could be seen.

"Use horse hair, sew it closed but not too tight. He'll have a fighting chance to live." The black medic, Thomas Bunch, looked back up at Nathan. "The Serge said that he jumped in front of a bullet meant for you?""

"Yes, he did. He's done it before, and I'd do it for him. Color isn't always the issue."

Washington, the other medic said, "Now he sounds just like the Serge." He smiled at Nathan.

Nathan finished stitching Ezra up. He retaped his ribs, cleaning the abrasions and took account of the bruises. He said to the medics, "Thanks, but you'd better make room, this office is gonna get mighty full in a minute here. My partners never can stay outta here for long." Nathan turned to put his tools away and the first knock came. Washington opened the door and five men piled into the small office.

Buck asked first, "How's he doing?"

Nathan smiled, "Looks good." Relieved sighs spread about the room.

The Army medics, feeling superfluous, took their leave. That left the seven men together.

Nathan smiled at the odd assortment of men and knew they balanced each other. He also knew what his answer to Lewis would be. To his friends he said, "Y'all can't stay here."

"Well, we're not leaving Ez alone." JD stated simply.

"Take turns, …" The words barely out of Nathan's mouth and Buck and JD are arguing order. Nathan shooed them out and Josiah suggested that they go get some food. He thought Nathan looked beat.

Chris and Vin remained in the room, finding comfort in the silence that allowed them to hear the steady breathing from their friend. They sat together for an hour before they were disturbed.

JD stuck his head in, "Vin they can't find the keys to your handcuffs. How's Ezra?"

Vin answered as he stood, "Sleeping. I'll go unlock the cuffs." Shaking his head as he left.

Chris continued to sit next to Ezra, contented that this group had made it together through another day. Caring about others was not an easy thing. Ezra moaned a few times and Chris put water drops on his lips that were licked readily off. When his head moved, causing his hair to fall into his eyes, Chris would gently brush it off.

"I thought you only did that for Vin?" A soft whisper said aloud.

Chris looked rueful at being caught in such a caring gesture. But he answered the gambler honestly, "I do it for all my guys."

In a voice of wonder, that he'd expect from JD, Ezra asked, "Am I one of your guys?"

Chris smiled, Ezra was gonna hate it later on that he had been so open. "Yes Ezra, you are. And just as you are."

Ezra sighed as he said sleepily, " ‘K.." He smiled as he drifted off. Chris patted his hand as he thought to himself again, caring about others was not an easy thing.

+ + + + + + +

Next morning, Ezra was back to his regular, ‘hate to be infirmed and told what to do' self. But he did experience a bright moment when Sergeant Lewis paid a visit to check on him.

Handing Ezra an envelope, he said, "I hope that will cover that damages to the saloon." Ezra looked in the envelope and thumbed the money and nodded. "I'm sorry that one of my men shot you. He was also the one who had committed the robberies." From his pocket he pulled out Ezra's watch. Lewis received a genuine smile from the Southerner. "I wanted to tell you, that in all my years, that was the first time I'd seen a Southern white man take a bullet for a colored man."

Ezra wasn't sure what to say, so he opted for the truth, "He is my friend."

Nathan heard those last words as he entered his office. He smiled at Ezra and at Sergeant Lewis.

Sergeant Lewis put out his hand and shook Ezra's and turned to Nathan, "Won't change your mind about coming with us?"

Nathan smiled, complimented, "No, my friends are here, and I make a difference here." Nathan shook Lewis' hand and nodded good bye. Nathan turned to Ezra, face completely serious, "Thank you Ezra, you saved my life."

"My pleasure, Mr. Jackson." Ezra said, as he moved in obvious pain.

Nathan reached into a drawer and pulled out some folded money. He handed it to Ezra.

Ezra held it, turning his head to the side and asked, "Patients now get paid for their injuries?"

Nathan smiled, that man, "I owe you seven dollars and an apology."

Recognition dawned in Ezra's eyes, and for a moment Nathan received a look of genuine gratitude. It was replaced by Ezra's usual look as he said, "Thank you, Nathan."

+ + + + + + +

Lewis made his last stop in the town. Mr. Larabee. "I am sorry for any trouble my unit caused you and your town."

Larabee smiled, "No different that any other large group of men hitting town."

Lewis shook his head, "I've said it before, you are an unusual town, and a unusual group of men."

Vin smiled now, "That we are."

Lewis shook both their hands and then with a circular motion of his arm, the Buffalo Soldiers Unit turned in synchronized motion and headed out of town.


Comments to: BatsRGr8@aol.com


The following names were actual Buffalo Soldiers serving in the 9th and 10th Cavalry Units. All actions by them in this story are fictional. These men did serve their country with honor and dignity. Perry Shaw 10th, George Grant 10th, Charley Murman, Ernest Washington, Thomas Bunch, Jonas Williams (trumpeter) 9th Corpl Cornelius Clark 9th, and Serg. Frazer Lewis. For more than 20 years, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments served on the frontier from Montana to Texas, along the Rio Grande in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and the Dakotas. They built forts and roads, strung telegraph lines, protected railroad crews, escorted stages and trains, protected settlers and cattle drives, and fought Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache warriors. Ironically, dangers such as cholera and rabid wolves sometimes took more lives than Indian warfare. The story Josiah told of how they got their name is true, they felt it was an honor and wore it with pride.