Not as they seem

By Yolande

Story moved to Blackraptor in October 2009


“We’ve got ‘em!” Billy whooped with glee.  “They ain’t gonna get out now.”  He was short, but where he lacked in height, he made up with cunning and adaptability.   Billy was the undisputed leader of the small group of outlaws.  He glanced down from his high perch overlooking the valley to his partners in crime.  

The Tolson brothers, Chad and Dirk, nodded in unison, shaking one another’s hand in congratulation.  Separated by only minutes in age, the twin brothers shared only their birth date and name with each other – otherwise they looked nothing alike.  They looked over to the leader of their group full of admiration.  The simple plan to trap the Magnificent Seven was working like a charm.  Magnificent?  More like the scourges of devil’s spawn.  They’d cornered four of the lawmen from Four Corners and blown up the rocky embankment with dynamite sending the earth and rubble plummeting in a cloud of dust closing off the only exit.  Billy was indeed a worthwhile ally and formidable enemy.  Those lawmen were doomed from the start.  

Jesse, their forth and youngest member of the group appeared grinning broadly, shaking the dust off himself.  “Hey, Billy,” he paused, “we got all four of ‘em, just like you said,” he enthused.  He’d been assigned to check that the rocks had properly sealed off the exit.  “The one in black, he’s rantin’ and ravin’ at the other three, pointing his finger at ‘em and everythin’.”  He chuckled at the expressions on the face of the gambler and the big gunslinger.  The smaller longhaired ruffian ignored the explosive nature of the blond and seemed to be working out how they were gonna get out.  He’d take that one down first, Jesse promised himself. 

The leader clasped his hands together and nodded in approval.  Chad and Dirk had proved their potential to the team.  They had positioned the dynamite and set the fuses when the lawmen entered through the narrow fissure of the canyon.  Billy wasn’t convinced initially that the brothers would be able to carry out the plan, but he was satisfied with the end result.  “Let’s go finish ‘em off,” he ordered gruffly, leading the way. 

The four outlaws stole along the edge of the rim, their rifles primed ready. 

“Like hitting ducks in a barrel,” Jesse stated and aimed immediately for the lanky tracker, who was standing apart from the other three.  “Hey, I want that jacket,” he announced, seconds before he pulled the trigger.   Tanner spun in a circle and collapsed to the ground.  “Damn, I didn’t mean ta put a hole in it…wonder if ma can fix the hole,” he pondered while searching the dirt bowl for his next target.  The dust had yet to completely settle from the explosion so he had to adjust his sights on finding the other three lawmen.  Of course, now they were well aware of the danger they were in and scattered, finding appropriate cover.  Jesse caught sight of the moustached ladies’ man inching toward the downed tracker and an evil grin touched his lips when he sent his second bullet into the fray.  “Yes!” he hollered, punching his fist triumphantly into the air. 

“Hey, Jesse!” Billy whined.  “Look, you already got two of ‘em, ya wanta leave the other ones for us?”  He wanted to get at least one of them. 

Jesse shrugged and sighed.  He was a crack shot, but it seemed like he had all the fun that was allowed.  The younger man sat back on his haunches and watched the proceedings with a sigh of resignation.  Maybe after the others had a few attempts, then his leader would allow him back in the game.  

Billy scanned the area for the missing lawmen, Chris Larabee and Ezra Standish; he knew that they were down there somewhere.  That man in black always had something up his sleeve, but he wasn’t gonna escape Billy’s fury.  He planned on being the one to have his revenge on the gunslinger.  His brow wrinkled in concentration searching for the man in black.  A flurry of red caught in the corner of his eye and a crocked grin plastered on his dial.  If he couldn’t have Larabee, then at least he was gonna get the gambler.  His first shot went wide, but the second made him smile at the yelp that erupted from the cocky Southerner.  “Got ‘im!” he shouted jubilantly. 

“Only winged him,” Jesse corrected.  He wouldn’t have missed. 

Billy shot the younger man a snarl and turned his attention back to the action.  “He was trying ta climb out,” Billy corrected, “won’t be able ta do that now.”  

Chad Tolson slid on his belly, leaning as far over the edge as possible and was completely taken aback by the bullet that flew over his head.  “Hey,” he grumbled, “they’re shooting back.” 

Dirk laughed at his brother’s outburst; he was really obtuse at times.  “What’d ya expect, Chad?”  

Chad scowled at his twin brother and sent a volley of shots wildly into the basin below.  With no obvious targets, he just wanted to add to the noise and confusion below.  Maybe it would scare them out of hiding.  Cowards, that’s what they were.  Although, that’s not how he’d heard the seven men described.  Hell he didn’t care, just so long as his name was remembered, as one the four men to take down the magnificent seven.  There were only two of them left and he needed to peg at least one of them to be able to claim that distinction.  It was fortunate that he had plenty of ammunition.  

Billy took advantage of the barrage Chad supplied and hoped to find that slippery gambler in amongst the brush.  He had to be hiding somewhere.  And he was bleeding now too.  He’d momentarily forgotten about his pledge to claim the man in black’s life.  “Got cha now…” he aimed his rifle at the smattering of colour and drew back the lever, but the action was halted by someone clearing their throat behind him.  He gulped, wondering why he hadn’t heard anyone sneak up behind him.  Damn, he’d have to practice working on that skill.  “Umm…” he turned a bright shade of red when he looked up.  “Hi ya, Mr. Wilmington, Mr. Standish…” he smiled innocently, hastily hiding the slingshot behind his back. 

The Southerner knelt beside Billy.  “Mr. Travis…” he glanced back to Buck and a sly grin crossed his features.  “You where going to shoot me with your slingshot?”  He pointed at the stick figure with the representative red slice of material.  “I think my jacket could do with some minor repairs,” he grinned at the twins, who both giggled in unison. 

“We cut it outta ma’s dress,” Chad Tolson admitted proudly. 

“I hope your mother was aware of this before you cut my jacket from her attire?” 

“Ummm…not really,” Dirk grimaced.  

Ezra shook his head as Wilmington crouched beside him and pocketed the stick figure of the Southerner.  

“How come Vin’s lying way over there?”  Buck asked curiously, pointing his long finger away from the centre of the action.   “And why am I lying on top of him?” 

“Jesse killed Vin,” Billy proclaimed, “and when you tried ta help him, you were shot too.” 

Standish covered the smile with his hand, but not before Wilmington saw it.  “Hey, we might not be dead,” he elbowed the gambler in the ribs and winked.  “What do you say, kids?  Ole Buck was trying to help Vin, so I ain’t dead right?” 

“But I hit ya dead centre,” Jesse pouted. “Just like I did with Mr. Tanner.”  He held up his slingshot and displayed his weapon. 

“That’s really good, son,” Wilmington praised.  “But wouldn’t ya like to be on our side though?  Ya know the good guys always win…” 

“But we were winning,” Chad interrupted.   “And we were the bad guys.” 

The Southerner picked up the four miniature wooden horses and turned them over in his palm.  One horse was painted white, a second brown and two were black, with one of the black horse’s having a touch of white added on its legs. A horse each for Buck, Ezra, Vin and Chris.  “Is Mr. Larabee here somewhere?” Ezra’s smile widened. 

“Yeah,” Billy nodded.  “But we couldn’t find him.  I think he got lost when we were shooting rocks at yas.” 

“He must have indeed found a good place to conceal himself,” the wily gambler chuckled. 

The Tolson twins whipped the wooden horses from the Southerner’s hand and raced down the alley.  “Mum’s calling us for lunch,” Chad called out over his shoulder. 

“See ya later, Billy, Jesse, Mr. Standish and Mr. Wilmington,” his brother finished. 

“Yeah, I gotta go too,” Billy Travis agreed, taking the youngster Jesse by the hand.  “I promised Mrs. Myers that I’d bring Jesse home.” 

“Good day to you both,” Standish waved. 

“See ya, Billy, Jesse,” Buck laughed.  The ladies’ man nudged the gambler and reached over, picking up the missing man in black, hidden from view under the sidewalk.  “Found Chris.” 

Ezra looked at the stick figure and bit his lip to prevent the choked laugh.  “He seems to have broken his… leg?” 

Wilmington turned the painted black stick man over.  “Dunno, could be his hips…or maybe…which end do ya spose is meant ta be his head?” 

“That would explain why we were doing so badly," Standish drawled.

“What, him having a broken…leg?  Or not knowing which end his head’s at?” 

“Both, I would image,” the Southerner snorted. 

 “Yeah…gotta show Chris this.” 

“I aim to show Mr. Tanner his replica,” Ezra grinned wickedly, pocketing the figure.  The boys had even given Vin hair made of horsehair and an oilcloth coat. 

“Do ya a trade - yours for mine,” Buck bargained. 

“Deal,” the Southerner sighed with relief, swapping the badly made Wilmington for his own figure.  He didn’t want any of the others seeing that.

The End



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