The disclaimer is and always will be I dont own em and never made a plug nickel off em. Wish I did. This is a series of stories where Ezras a child and the remaining seven are adults this story taking place prior to Ezras arrival in Four Corners a little AU created by Wyvern. This is a sequel to my story The Road to Calistoga so please do enjoy. This is the fifth and final installment of Life Before Four Corners. This story aint betaed all the mistakes are mine and mine alone. And thanks to Eleanors excerpt from Saloons of the Old West that inspired me.
Ezra Standish walked along the boardwalk kicking along a pebble acting more the boy he was than the con artist his mother had trained him to be. The skinny boy with the too large black low crown hat perched on his head smiled a little as he hummed a childish melody making his way across the busy street. Feeling better after a nights rest he had ventured out for a meal.
His mother Maude hadnt risen yet she was still asleep in their room above the Crystal Palace Saloon, otherwise he wouldnt still be wearing the hat, and she had said he was being childish then forbade him to wear the particular piece of apparel. Maude had been put out after being forced to fetch him from Calistoga a few days earlier and wasnt at all up to tolerating his willful misbehavior she was in the middle of running a con. Ezra knew she needed him or he would still be in the dusty little town. Now all of his dreams were dust, there wasnt a thing he could do to change what was to come.
Under his own auspices he wandered the streets around The Crystal Palace until he reached the small restaurant, a bistro his mother would say to indulge in the mornings repast. The proprietor had welcomed the well-dressed lad in and after giving the man his order Ezra settled down to enjoy another quiet meal. Gratuities went along way and the owner treated him well and he left with his appetite satiated.
The southern lad made his way back to the saloon climbing up the stairs to the third floor bypassing the room he shared with his mother to find solitude on its roof and security well away from prying eyes. Ezra found a secluded perch on the roof and stared ahead not seeing the city that surrounded him. He had gone up there to think. Reflecting on the disastrous evening wrapped his arms tightly around his knees. How quickly his luck had turned sour in the space of an hour, the memory of the evening was still vivid in his mind. .
The evening had gone well for young Ezra Standish.
He had wandered to another part of the city into a gambling hall. Sidling his way through the crowd, he heard the dealer ask.
Are all the bets down gentlemen?
Ezra took a chance and called out.
Hold on a minute!
The people surrounding the turned around and looked at him, the man nearest to him laughed.
Son we dont bet pennies here
But his jaw hung open after the boy threw down a twenty dollar gold piece, the game commenced and the child won the hand. A tense forty minutes later Maudes baby boy walked away a winner while the adults talked about what they had just witnessed he slipped way into the night. Ezra was smiling to himself, the stake that he began the game wasnt his with came from the pocket of the gentlemen that mocked him when he first stepped up to the table. Ordinarily he didnt stoop to steal but as easily as it was removed the coin was returned to its rightful owner who remained unaware of his loan. In the boys mind it wasnt stolen merely borrowed.
Ezra smiled as he deftly counted out the thick wad of bills on the corner of his bed before pealing off several bills to line his pocket and tucking the remainder into his carpetbag. A successful round of games had almost quadrupled his hidden monetary stash. Since his arrival in the city the derringer remained hidden secured in a crude holster under armpit. The boy hadnt felt safe since the incident with his uncle and no one could protect him but himself. The money was another issue, his mother had taken most his winnings but tonight Mr. James Thibodeaux was courting her. He had done the same on previous occasions, on a smaller scale skimming right from under his mothers nose. Big Jim, as he called himself, had taken up with Maude running cons through out the city. The Lummox was six-foot six inches tall weighing in at almost three hundred pounds looking every inch a man to be feared. Ezra thought it was odd that his mother had taken up with a man that stood out especially after impressing on the boy the importance of appearances. Although it had been Maudes idea run the con that had Ezra playing poker with grown men, Thibadeaux took a large percentage of the cash. The boy hadnt liked the man from the start but for some reason unknown to Ezra his mother allowed this man to take over and he was pondering on a way to get the man out of their lives.
The rooms door banged open.
Mr. Thibadeaux stormed in.
You little shit the man screamed as he went after the stunned boy. Ezra bolted off the bed as the large man lunged at him. Big Jim landed on the bed sending it sliding across the room. The man made another attempt to grab on to the boy only catching on to Ezras shirtsleeve, causing the material to tear off at the shoulder. The frightened boy skittered across the backside of the room.
Wheres the money?
That money youve been winning at the table. Dont think I didnt hear about it when I walked into the Saloon. That money is mine little man!
Big Jim managed to catch hold of Ezras arm and smack him across the face but the child kicked him as hard as he could in the groin sending the man crashing to his knees. James Thibadeaux was in a world of pain when he heard the cocking of a gun and looked up to see Young Ezra standing there with blood dripping from unimpeded from his nose with a peashooter zeroed in on him.
There was a mixture of anger and fear in the boys eyes. The downed man decided to heed the words and painfully rose to his feet backing out of the room.
Twenty minutes after Big Jim left Maude returned.
My darling boy what has gotten into you?
His mother asked as she stepping into the room still well dressed and groomed from her outing.
He hit me
The boy replied in a quiet voice. He had been sitting on the bed frightened that the man would return.
You shouldnt have taken the money of all the ways to tarnish our name here.
His mother scolded him as if there wasnt a transgression on Big Jims behalf.
I thought he was going to
The boy couldnt look his mother in the eyes he had failed again.
Youve tainted my standing with Mr. Thibadeaux
Oh, why couldnt he keep his mouth shut?
Im deeply regretful for causing
Ezra Darling Its late go to sleep, well resolve this matter in the morning.
Ezra had gone up to the roof to clear his head. Maybe this would work out for the best. Perhaps Mother and he could head back to New Orleans. The boy sighed as he stood up, smoothed out his clothes with his hands before made his way inside. He wouldnt know until he spoke with his mother.
Ezra asked as he watched his mother pack his clothes into the carpetbag.
Yes darling, my old friend Sarah Larabee lives out there with husband Christopher and their boy Adam. Mr. Larabee owns a ranch.
Darling, the train leaves in an hour so we have to hurry. Ive also written a letter for to give to Sarah when you get there.
The boy knew he couldnt change her mind, as he stood there holding on to his prized hat knowing that it was his own fault for being sent away again.
Maude had hired a carriage to escort her son to the station. Along the way his mother told him about the woman she was sending him to. At least his mother had relented this time and sent him to a close family friend.
Ezra, Sara is the kindest person youll ever meet. I knew her long before you were born. Her husband has a ranch just outside of Four Corners. And Im sure youll enjoy spending time with their boy .
Maude had spent the entire carriage ride telling her son about the Larabees. The boy just stared at her doe eyed desperately hoping that she would change her mind. She rested a daintily gloved hand on his face.
My darling boy this is until everything settles down
Forever the fool, the boy silently cursed himself.
The money was gone.
Almost five hundred dollars and it was gone. It had been days since he left San Francisco, it was a long trip and he did his best to go unnoticed by his fellow passengers. After the train had pulled away Ezra convinced the porters to let him help, during this little adventure he managed to steam up the letter to Sara Larabee. The delicate script was his mothers and its content was all too familiar. Maude explained to him long ago that he had to pull his weight in this world, that working for his upkeep, that was the only way he could remain in the good graces of his caretakers.
He had hauled his bag into the rank smelling privy in the pretense of changing his clothing in truth he was running low on funds and wanted to pull of a few small bills to tide him over. It was gone, he didnt know if it was his mother or Big Jim who had taken the money. That mattered little now.
The boy had a few dollars left to last the remainder of the trip. Tomorrow he would be boarding the stage to Four Corners, there was little he could do now he was stuck until either Dame Fortune was kind or his mother came to fetch him. He slid down the wall and cried.
Cast again into the harsh reality that was his life, one devoid of dreams filled with a loneliness and heartache that didnt end. Ezra wiped his eyes sucked in a quivering breath to calm himself, he would survive this too, he thought as he stood up to make his way back to his seat. Clutching his carpetbag close he wove through the other passengers to sit down. The sun was beginning to set as he tried to manhandle the bag over-head a porter took mercy on him and helped him stow the bag.
There was little to do since he was short on funds, he did splurge and buy a sandwich eating it slowly knowing that it might be his last meal for a while watching the scenery go by under the twilight sky until he fell asleep.
This is where Wyverns Childs Play begins