AKA Male Bonding ala Poultry
Warning: They use some bad words. The chicken does too, but it doesn't translate well
Disclaimer: Ain't trying to make money, so I ain't stealin 'em. If I did steal 'em, subsequent activity would shoot my reputation as a Sunday school teacher all to heck. I am still deeply in shock that such a good t.v. show could be cancelled.
Author's Note - I got the name of the Potter Children from Errant Deeds by Eleanor Tremayne Ezquire
No chickens were harmed in the making of this story.
I want you to know that our little town is not entirely bereft of the benefits of civilization. Indeed, recently Messrs., Tanner, Wilmington, Dunne and I were baptized by total immersion by no less personage than Mr. Chris Larabee himself.
But you needn't worry, Mother. I promise you that your darlin' boy is still a businessman and a gentleman in the fullest sense of the word. Actually, Mr. Larabee would never have apprehended me if I hadn't been laughing so hard. You see, dear Mother, it happened like this...
Seven men rode back into the little town of Four Corners.
Mary Travis went to the door of the Clarion, her newspaper that she had kept up after the death of her husband. She blinked - they looked like they had been on the trail for weeks, instead of only a few days. Each of the seven peacekeepers and their mounts were covered with dust. Before them, also dusty and even more bedraggled, limped the malefactors that had tried to jump old Jesse Martinez' mining claim.
Mary was tempted to run out and question them but one thing held her back. Beneath the dirt and grime, Chris Larabee's eyes blazed with utter rage.
Mary could see that the other felt their leader's ire for all of the remaining six were quiet, perhaps quieter than mice. None looked injured, only tired.
Vin Tanner saw her there and gave her a cautious wink and took on a poker-faced expression that he must have learned from Ezra.
Mary wiped her hands on her apron and returned to work. They were all safe and alive and that was all that really mattered. As long as Chris didn't end up shooting one of them -she laughed to herself in wry amusement. He certainly looked mad enough.
+ + + + + + +
Seven dusty men stopped at jail where Josiah and Nathan deposited even dustier (and slightly wounded) prisoners, while the rest headed to the livery with Josiah and Nathan's horses in tow. The horses were cared for in complete silence.
"God Damn." Said a soft voice from the stall where Vin was brushing down Nathan's horse.
Ezra looked over the divider between him and Vin. "What?" he asked in a low voice.
"Larabee even has the poor horses scared. They ain't so much as flicked a tail or nickered."
Now Ezra Standish was a careful man. He knew they had twisted Mr. Larabee's own tail in a hell of knot. He knew therefore that it was stupid, perhaps even deadly stupid, to snicker. However, he was growing quite sentimental since joining up with the six men, having friends that watched each other's backs was making him soft. So against his better judgment and a life spent in a specific discipline, he snorted. The air froze and figuring he was probably already dead, he shrugged, and snorted again, allowing a smile to grace his face. . An earnest sound came from the stall on his other side. Buck was starting to snicker, further down by Vin; J.D. was obviously struggling not to giggle.
An expected shadow stretched across Ezra Standish and he recognized the presence of their illustrious and pissed-off leader, Chris Larabee.
The man in black raked both Ezra and Vin with his eyes silently. Vin hadn't actually laughed yet, but Ezra could see that the ex-bounty hunter turned bounty was trembling with suppressed mirth.
Larabee's voice grated, "That's because the horses are smarter than you damn fools. The horses wouldn't have risked their worthless asses using dynamite like that to save old Jesse. You could have blown what teaspoons worth of brains you still have to hell and back."
Then Larabee, his work with the horse complete, turned and stomped out of the livery, leaving four silent men in his wake.
Ezra glanced over at Vin and had a bit of a shock. The bounty hunters eyes were wet with tears. Then he realized that their tracker was having a full-out laugh attack.
J.D.'s voice drifted towards them. "I don't see why Chris is so all fired worked up". He complained, "No one was hurt. No one even got shot and we saved Jesse's life."
Ezra looked at Buck, who was now leaning at the stall door and had a flash of communication with the tall man. He attempted to explain.
"Mr. Larabee is angry because we didn't have an opportunity to inform him of our little idea. He thought we were all dead and blown to hell as he so quaintly put it, and that's why he's so angry, Mr. Dunne."
Ezra grinned. He thought using the dynamite to scare the living daylights out of the bushwhackers had been genius. They had run right into the peacekeepers' welcoming arms.
"Yup," Buck drawled, "We scared the bejesus out of Chris, J.D. That's why he's so mad."
What no one of the four had to mention, what remained unspoken yet known, was that Larabee cared for all of them and had been deathly afraid of losing them.
Vin sat down in the hay next to Pecos, who turned his head and nibbled gently at the tracker's shoulder.
"The cowboy is turning into a mother hen and he figures we ain't smart enough to play with Dynamite," Vin drawled. He needs one of them attitude adjustments. Ez, got any ideas?"
Standish has started to laugh as the idea of Chris Larabee in feathers trying to herd his brook of gunfighters to safety. Now he wiped his eyes delicately and smiled wolfishly at Vin Tanner. Lately he had felt more than part of a mere team. Not only was he trusted, but the other six men actually knew him and still liked him. And now here was Vin asking for a plan. It was terribly heart-warming.
"Well, Mr. Tanner." He drawled, "After we have repaired the damage from our little sojourn, I think we should show some proficiency with lessor explosives."
Buck looked interested. "Fire crackers?" he asked, his eyes gleaming.
Young J.D. started to make snorting noises.
"Ah, no," Said the dapper gambler. His hands kept twitching because he wanted to dust his clothing off, but knew it would only bother the horses now. "I suggest we use an explosive device learned of in my raw youth; one that is entirely suitable for someone who is determined to be our own personal mother hen. A chicken bomb."
Buck and J.D. exchanged glances. Vin sat up.
"Why, Ez. I thought that a gentleman doesn't do no menial labor." He drawled in a pretty good imitation of the gambler's own accent.
Ezra smiled down at his bemused companion. "Mr. Tanner, securing a fowl and using it as a chicken bomb doesn't require use of manual labor." He chided, "It requires knowledge of a chickens psychology, how its brain functions."
He saw that he had the undivided attention of his peers.
"For instance, " he continued in lecturing mode, "if a chicken is put in a small enclosed dark space, like the desk drawer in our jail, it will immediately fall still, fearing predators. While it waits to be free of its incarceration, although silent, said fowl will grow more and more agitated."
Looks of appreciative delight were spreading over the faces of his audience.
"So when someone opens the drawer, the chicken will literally explode out of its little prison. Hence the term, 'chicken bomb'".
Buck was delighted, "Ezra, you're a genius."
Vin stood up and favored the gambler with a laconic gleam.
"Ezra, I think we oughta give our Mama hen some new feathering for the nest."
J.D. grinned, Buck leered wolfishly in appreciation and Ezra hoped they didn't get shot.
+ + + + + + +
All four men then retreated to the bathhouse to join Messrs. Larabee, Sanchez and Jackson in removing the dust of the trail.
While Chris seemed obvious to their presence's, Josiah Sanchez and Nathan Jackson exchanged looks. The four stalwart rascals looked too damn innocent not to be up to something.
+ + + + + + +
When not shooting holes in robbers, thieves, and murdering scum, or rescuing his companions or townspeople from said scum, or tracking down his companions or said scum, Chris Larabee made it a careful habit to read all wanted posters that came by mail on the stage.
He'd noticed both Ezra and Vin doing the same thing. Vin, because he had Tascosa and the bounty on his mind. Ezra probably because he wanted to know who would be an unpleasant choice for a match of cards or as Chris put it, who would be most likely to shoot the gambler when he won.
Chris had decided it was a good idea and so every Wednesday afternoon, when the stagecoach left and Buck was finished sizing up the female passengers, Larabee would take a turn in the jail with a hot cup of coffee, the mail and the wanted posters.
Today the streets had emptied out pretty quickly. The stage had no passengers, just mail and parcels. There was a packet for J.D. of wanted posters that the young Sheriff would put away in the jail office. He would look at them later. He had received a letter from the Judge and was reading that first.
He wondered mildly where the boys were. They hadn't received their monthly pay yet, so Ezra might not e playing poker with them, although he noticed Ezra and the other had been thick as thieves since that damn episode with the dynamite. Not one of the men had confessed about whose idea it was to use dynamite like that. He grinned. He'd been mad as hell, but now it was beginning to look kind of funny. Seeing as they were all still alive and kicking. He took a sip of the fragrant coffee. Inez sure was a good cook, and her coffee made a man sit up and take notice.
He sat in the chair and leaned back. First he read the letter from the Judge, and smiled again when he learned that the Judge had sent more than their monthly pay packet. The last group of banditos they had sent to Yuma Prison had bounties on them and Judge Travis had decided that the money ought to go to the men who had gotten shot up trailing them and capturing them.
+ + + + + + +
Outside the jail, four rascals were waiting.
"Now J.D., you be sure to keep low. There's no telling what's gonna happen when he opens that drawer."
"Ezra," Vin kept sneaking peaks in the window, "did you have any trouble with the chicken?"
"I assure you Mr. Tanner, the chicken was extremely cooperative."
J.D. snuck a quick peak. "Why don't we go look over through the other window?" he complained, anxious to see when the glorious moment struck.
"Now J.D., if Chris happens to shoot the chicken, we'd be right in the line of fire from that window." Buck admonished his younger friend. "This way we get a better view and we can escape faster, too."
"Yup," said the tracker in agreement.
"What's he doing now?" asked J.D.
"Drinking coffee and reading a letter." Vin's voice was very low.
"J.D." Ezra said painfully, "please, could you be so kind as to get the hell off my foot."
+ + + + + + +
Chris was pleased about his friends getting the bounty money. It came to over a thousand dollars. More than two year's pay. He wondered if they should put the money together and give old Ezra the saloon. Maude sure had hurt old Ez bad when she'd taken his dream away from him, though he seemed to be pretty chipper in spite of it. He'd discuss it with Buck and Vin. Didn't mind the idea of them owning the saloon or at least helping Ez to own one.
He sat the letter down idly and without really looking, opened the desk drawer to go over the wanted posters.
BUCKAWWWWKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "GOD DAMN!" "BANG. BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG"
Some kind of devil creature exploded out of the drawer straight into his face, causing him to fall out of the chair as hot coffee spilled over his laps and legs. The instincts that had saved his life in countless gunfights immediately went to work. Heart pounding, Chris Larabee shot the thing from hell six times before he realized that he was covered with feathers and had just murdered a chicken.
Chris put a hand to his heaving chest and wondered if he were going to drop dead, as he gasped in precious air. A goddam feather landed on his nose.
Doors slammed and voices were heard. making anxious inquiry in the distance. . And outside the jail he heard noises. Sounded like a bunch of seals he'd heard once in a traveling circus show. Quickly reloading, he ran to the door and went out, following the noise.
There they were, lying on the ground rolling around in the dust behind the jail, making whooping noises. Ezra Standish was sitting there with tears in his eyes, tears of laughter. J.D. had a hand over his mouth and was trying to be silent, while Buck whooped even louder and rolled. Vin lay there shaking with silent laughter.
His men. His loyal trustworthy friends. They had put a damn chicken in that drawer, probably to get even for the way he'd lit into them for the dynamite.
"Why you dirty low down........" Chris was just getting started when the miscreants jumped up and ran away like bunnies, except they were still laughing themselves sick.
"Come back you no good polecats!!!!!!" he shouted and shot into the air a few times to give them the general idea of his mood.
He heard a noise and turned to see Nathan, Josiah and Mary Travis looking at him. "Chris, what on earth happened?" asked Mary and she boldly walked over to the enraged gunfighter and began brushing feathers off his clothing.
"I think our brothers are getting a little filled with spring energy, Ma'am." Said Josiah in solemn tones, although his eyes were twinkling.
You all right, Chris? " Asked Nathan, seriously "Your face is awful red."
Larabee turned towards him and Nathan flinched slightly. "Just askin', Chris. No offense."
Chris backed up. Nathan didn't mean any harm and that chicken had really given him a nasty turn. "Sorry, Nathan, damn fools stuck a chicken in the desk drawer - nearly gave me a heart attack, but I'm fine."
"I take it the chicken didn't do as well." Asked Josiah mildly.
Larabee blushed, "Thought it was a wildcat for a second, and then it was already shot to hell."
"I think they're riled at you, Chris, what with what you said about the dynamite. Maybe they'll cool down a mite now." Nathan sounded apologetic.
"Dynamite?" asked Mary Travis.
Chris Larabee winced and glared at Josiah and Nathan warningly.
Both men took on poker faces that would have done Ezra credit. The damn gambler was a general bad influence. Chris sighed and ran a hand through his hair and blew a few more chicken feathers away.
"Mrs. Travis, I think I could use your gentle company, today. Would you mind much accompanying me to lunch?"
Mary knew that whatever was up wasn't fatal. The peacekeepers were just high-spirited boys, um, rascals, um miscreants. But knowing Chris's temper, he probably partially deserved whatever had happened.
"I'd be delighted to accompany you, Mr. Larabee." She said softly and Chris took her arm in a genteel fashion as he escorted her to the hotel dining room.
"I think the boys had better make themselves scarce. Otherwise I'm afraid they're gonna make Chris ornery." Nathan commented. Josiah nodded agreement.
+ + + + + + +
Unfortunately the "boys" had other ideas. They had adjourned to an out of the way copse of trees and were regaling each other with their impressions of the chicken's inglorious last moments.
Ezra had rarely had so much fun with anyone. While J.D. and Buck's enthusiasm was expected, Vin Tanner's sense of humor was a new revelation to the gambler and he enjoyed the sight of Vin laughing himself into a weakly quivering mass of jelly. He wished he could duplicate his efforts again soon. Mr. Tanner was highly amusing.
The subject man suddenly sat straight up. Ezra checked the perimeter and damn near drew his derringer. Tanner's quick reflexes had saved all of their lives on occasion and he always watched the tracker carefully for signs of danger.
But Vin apparently was only coming up with an idea.
"I just realized, we left that poor chicken's dead body in the jail to fester and rot. Taint fittin'. We should give that chicken a funeral, all right and proper like."
Ezra threw his head back and laughed. Then something occurred to him. Buck Wilmington apparently had the same idea, for the big man piped up, "Nah, he'd shoot us for sure."
J.D. got a giggle fit and Vin looked at Ezra hopefully.
It was really heartwarming to know they looked for him for inspiration in their need. He thought but a second.
"We'll have the children help us. He can't shoot us in front of children. At least not right off."
Buck looked approval on the plan and Vin's face lit up with approbation.
"Ezra, you got an evil, connivin' mind, Pard. Proud to have you with us." the tracker announced.
Ezra Standish felt himself blush. He had the strangest sensation across his heart. This was what it was like to be on the inside of something, instead of always on the outside. He was part of this group. The revelation touched him deeply. He certainly hadn't experienced this kind of good spirits before. And Vin had actually called him pard and said he was proud to have him with them. From anyone else that might be light banter, but not from the tracker.
"I have a cigar box," said J.D. helpfully.
Ezra smiled, "J.D. you go get that box. Let us find a lovely last resting-place for our late lamented befeathered friend. Since Brother Josiah will probably not want to officiate, I would be delighted to run the service."
Buck grinned and Vin started to make low moans of appreciation, "Brother Ezra, I think we all should say some words for our late friend."
Buck and Ezra quickly exited to find some children to help them bury the dear departed.
Vin found a nice copse of trees and wild flowers in blossom for a burial site.
J.D. got the cigar box and carefully gathered what was left of the chicken.
When the four rascals met again, Vin peered into the cigar box.
"Ooooeeeeeeee." He commented dryly, "there ain't enough left of that poor chicken to feed a mouse. Chris put more bullets in the critter than he had feathers."
Ezra looked over Vin's shoulder. Billy and the Potter children were on their way to help with the funeral.
"I think, in light of the delicate sensibilities of some members of the congregation, that we should perform a closed casket service." He pointed at Billy, Joshua and Amelia.
Vin slammed the lid on the cigar box, and nodded at Ezra. "Good thinkin', Ez. Wouldn't want to frazzle the younguns."
Billy Travis came up and took Vin's bigger hand in his. "We gonna play a game?"
"Yup, " answered Buck. "A chicken friend of ours has passed to that giant chicken coop in the sky and we figure that he needs a funeral."
J.D. pointed at the cigar box - "This here is the deceased."
The Potter children looked interested.
Billy frowned, "How did the poor chicken die?"
Buck was pretty good as a sweet talker. "Uncle Chris thought he was a polecat I suspect, and shot him before he had a chance to realize he was an innocent chicken."
Billy looked suspicious. "Is this gonna make Chris mad at us?"
Ezra smiled, "No, Billy, Chris wouldn't be mad at you, but he might get mad at Buck, J.D., Vin and I. However, don't you worry about it."
+ + + + + + +
Mary Travis was having a delightful time with Chris Larabee. The gunman was really putting himself out to be charming. She knew part of it was a way of dealing with the joke the boys had played on him, but she liked it anyway. Especially that warm smile on Chris's face that made him so handsome as he sat across from her in the Hotel dining room.
+ + + + + + +
The warm smile in question suddenly froze. She could tell that Chris saw something on the street. His lips parted like he might say something, and iciness settled over his countenance that would have sent a lesser woman stumbling for help. Mary Travis, however, was made of sterner stuff
"What are they doing now?" she asked casually as she sipped her coffee
A vein in Chris's forehead bulged every so slightly and trembled. He spoke through gritted teeth. "They're holding a funeral procession for that goddam chicken."
Mary was a woman of poise and discipline. She did not snort coffee out of her nose, but it was extremely close. She turned, along with the rest of the customers in the restaurant.
There was her son, Billy, the Potter children and nearly every other child in town, walking single file. Billy solemnly was holding a cigar box, containing, she assumed, the pitiful remains of the chicken. Marching silently behind the children were the four bigger children. J.D., Buck and Ezra walked with their hats off to show traditional respect for the departed. Behind them walked Vin Tanner playing taps rather badly on his harmonica.
Buck had a red bandana out, which he used to sneeze into loudly with great sentimental embellishment. J.D. was struggling mightily to look solemn and failing miserable.
She could hear Chris muttering behind her. "Shoulda shot 'em when they blew off the damn dynamite. Would have nipped it in the bud."
Mary frowned. There were certain unwritten codes of conduct here in the west, and she was sure shooting the four rascals out there playing funeral in front of impressionable children was one of them.
"No shooting," she warned and Chris shot her a jaundiced glance.
"You too?" he asked in a much put-upon voice.
She smiled at him and he gave her a very slight smile in return.
From a nearby table, the banker was heard muttering too. "Heathen, absolutely heathen."
A slight grimace or irritation crossed over the face of one black dressed gunfighter. Mary knew that it was all right for Chris to criticise his friends, but that Larabee was rather fierce about anyone else doing so. Then Larabee's face grew thoughtful and quiet. Mary knew he had thought of something.
"Come on," she said, "Let's go see what they do next."
She took his hand and they followed the little funeral party to a lovely copse of trees outside town near a pond. Mary took note that this would be a delightful place for a picnic.
Apparently a hole was already dug for the cigar box. Ezra Standish solemnly placed the dearly departed's remains in said pathetic hole. Some of the children rushed to place flowers around the grave.
Marry struggled not to laugh aloud. The gambler looked so serious. The others had drawn together, and stood there, with hats off, looking so innocent, she wondered if she ruptured anything containing her merriment.
"Dearly Beloved," said a softly drawling Southern voice, "We come together to mourn the demise of a beloved member of our little community, tragically shot down in the bloom of youth. Mrs. Bea Fowler provided this community with many of the fixing for bounteous repasts, especially breakfast, as well as cakes and other delicacies. As we bid farewell to our poor friend, I would like some of the members of the congregation to say a few words."
Buck cleared his throat and came up closer to the graveside.
Mary glanced over at Chris. His lips were trembling in a heroic effort not to smile.
Buck's face assumed mournful features.
"Bea Fowler will be missed. Course, Chris didn't miss her. Nope, he shot sunlight through that poor thing through and through."
Mary couldn't help it. She started to shake.
Chris was trying hard not to look at her. She could tell. She just knew if they let their eyes meet, they'd start howling with laughter.
Buck cleared his throat severely, and continued. "She left behind her a whole mess of chicks and sister chickens, who are filled with sorrow at this terrible loss." Herein he paused to sneeze pointedly into the red bandana. Ezra surreptitiously moved out of range.
"Yes, it's gonna be lonesome in the henhouse tonight. Her sister hens will wonder where their dear sister has gone. Her little empty nest will be pathetically quiet..."
At this J.D. lost all sense of propriety and began to whoop worse than a coyote in a mood. Bending over, Mary struggled not to see the tears pouring down his face. Buck, apparently losing his nerve, stepped aside.
Ezra's face assumed a momentarily stunned expression and Mary watched the gambler struggling mightily to keep his usual poker face. Quickly, he moved to Buck's last position.
"Our Brother Dunne is overcome with emotion." Ezra finally spat out with a reproachful glance in the young man's direction. "Brother Vin, do you think you could say a few words?"
Vin assumed his own laconic version of a poker face and came forth. He looked down silently at the little cigar box.
"She never reached her full potential." He drawled in a true Texas accent, "Pot Pie!"
This last shot was too much for the remaining assembled so-called adults. Chris Larabee fell forward like he had been shot and commenced to howl in merriment. Mary lifted her apron and used it to hide her own weeping spheres. She looked up and could see that Buck and Ezra had joined the ranks of the fallen and were rolling on the ground laughing. Billy stood there, hands on his hips, looked disgustedly at the cavorting grownups, while the rest of the children started to giggle.
Chris rose to his feet and touched her shoulder, "Mary, could you take the children back to town with you? The boys and me are gonna talk."
Mary wiped her eyes and nodded, sure he wouldn't actually shoot any of them.
She gathered Bill and the others and herded the curious children home.
"Is Mr. Larabee mad at us, Mama?" Billy asked.
"Oh, no. Dear." She responded automatically, "He's not mad at you at all. He just needs to talk to the boys."
"Oh," Billy exchanged meaningful glances with the other children. They obviously were not quite oblivious to the situation. Once she had them all back in town, where they began playing again, Mary saw Josiah and Nathan and beckoned to the two men.
"Mr. Larabee is 'talking' to the boys." She announced and without further conversation, the two men followed her back to the side of the little pond. As they quietly made their way down the path, the sound of high-pitched laughter and splashes (?) came to their ears. Then Mary picked up her skirts and ran.
Chris was dunking four laughing gunslingers in the pond. The rascals were all too amused to protect themselves.
"Nope," Chris said as he dunked J.D., hat and all, under water and then brought him up spluttering and still laughing.
"It's time you men got religion. Can't have the townspeople thinking we've got heathen as peacekeepers." Chris sounded deadly serious, but she could see the twinkle in his eyes. An already thoroughly sodden Buck was still in the water, making whooping noises and cheering Larabee on.
"Better do it a few more times, Chris, to make sure it takes."
Chris nodded agreement pleasantly and proceeded to grab Buck and plunge him under the water a few more times, in rapid succession.
"Good idea, Buck." He stated mildly, sending his audience on shore into fresh gales of laughter. Vin started to roll, while Ezra shakily kept trying to remove his jacket and vest, to protect the fine fabric from the coming deluge.
Chris plucked the rolling Tanner up and plunged the lanky bounty hunter into the pond. As he was hauled, Mary could hell that distinctive drawl praying, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to..." Splash.
Arising from the waters, the tracker proved himself game, "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to TAKE!" as Chris evidently decided Vin was also in need of multiple dunkings.
Chris paused for a moment and observed the three watching his religious activity.
He tipped his hat and said, "No offense, Josiah."
"None taken, Chris, I reckon that someone in danger of death can be baptized by anyone. And I figure that if they don't cool off some, you'd have to shoot 'em."
Chris nodded, "Yup." And proceeded to busily haul a struggling heap of hysterically laughing gambler out into the water.
Mary wondered aloud, "I think I should write an article about the latest religious revival among gunslingers."
Josiah started to laugh, "Don't do it, Mrs. Travis, you're the last adult influence we have."
J.D. and Buck now were attempting to perform baptism on Larabee, who proceeded to again baptize the entire lot, start with Buck. The large man was beginning to look a bit like a drowned rat. Vin tried to escape his second sacrament and was drug back into the water. Ezra used this opportunity to try to make his way from the back of the pond, but Larabee wasn't finished yet.
"I assure you, Mr. Larabee, I have already been baptized." The gambler pleaded as he again went under water.
"Evidently didn't take." Rejoined the gunslinger.
"If you decide to take up preaching, Chris, you got real potential," said Josiah, "The sinners will never see you coming."
"Oh, I don't know," drawled the gunslinger, "Ezra did a pretty fine funeral service. It was the eulogies that did me in."
He turned and smiled pleasantly at the new converts. "No more chickens?" he asked, reasonable.
Vin spat water, "Nope, no more chickens, Cowboy. I'm going on a beef only diet."
The rest of the congregation solemnly nodded their agreement.
Chris walked out of the pond and made his way back to the boarding house. As he walked he mused. Things had been fairly quiet lately 'ceptin' for the episode with old Jesse. He and the rest of the boys had gone through hell and high water this year and survived damn near everything thrown at them. He sighed. Nope, they could survive hard times and dangerous time. It was the down times that were going to kill him off. That and the damn chickens.