Lone Wolf - Series

Pain in the Butt

By Yolande

Thanks again Mitzi!


The rustic cabin was anything but flash.  Timbers were held together though sheer will and a strong breeze was bound to cause the structure to shake on its aging foundations.  Shingles were scattered around the ground and made one wonder just how many were actually still attached to the roof.  Three steps led to the porch, and the rail that edged the perimeter of the landing was wearily protecting the home.  Thick smoke rose from the chimney and chimes rang melodiously from the corner of the porch. 

There was an old neglected garden that rested against the front.  A few long stalks of long-forgotten lavender were curled and dead, surrounded by clumps of grass and weeds that had crept into the garden and now held the upper hand.  The soil was hard and crusted on top and nothing had been grown successfully for a while. 

There was no barn, only a chicken coop, with wire that enclosed the fowl.  It appeared to only house one or two birds at best.  They scratched in the dirt, content to forage the feed that had not long ago been tossed inside the pen. 

A broken bicycle lay abandoned beyond the house and other toys littered the yard.  A wooden swing hung from a sturdy oak and it still twisted freely on its ropes as though someone had only just left it.  The same tree sported a crude ladder that snaked a path up into the branches, ending at a landing, made from several planks of wood.  It served as an observation tower and would have a clear view of the track that led to the farm. 

Chris Larabee gently brought the black gelding to a stop.  He leisurely checked the surrounds.  “Is this it?” 

Tanner paused his mount alongside, dismounting and nodding his head at the same time.  “Yep.” 

Larabee remained seated on his mount, still scanning the area.  “Seems pretty quiet.” 

Tanner agreed.  “Hello!” he called toward the dilapidated house.  “Anybody home?”  He waited a few minutes, his eyes flicking from the door to the windows on both sides, and back again.  He glanced up to Chris and the gunslinger shrugged.  “Reckon they’re inside?” 

Chris straightened in the saddle.  He glanced over at the swing; it had stopped moving.  “That’d be my guess.”  The small building was smack in the middle of a clearing; they would have seen if anyone had tried to make a break for it. 

Tanner handed Peso’s reins to Chris and carefully approached the house.  “Name’s Vin Tanner,” he stated cordially.  “Ain’t about to cause you no harm.  Just want to talk is all.”  The tracker kept a steady pace toward the building, until he heard the low warning from Larabee that stilled his movements. 


Tanner lifted his hands away from his side.   He’d seen the shadow that flanked the window, a pistol following his movements.  He sucked in a breath as the door flew open and Widow Barker’s portly frame filled the space, brandishing a double barrel shotgun.  He noticed the shadowy form holding the pistol had abruptly disappeared from view.  “Ma’am,” Tanner greeted cautiously.  He held his hands out, palms up, attempting to give the elderly woman the impression that he didn’t pose a threat. 

The grey-headed woman scowled in return, showing stained and yellowed teeth.  “State yer business!” she ordered brusquely. 

“Heard you had a youngun’ out here livin’ with you.” 

The widow snarled and spat contemptuously, raising the weapon a fraction higher.  “You sayin’ I can’t?” she asked defensively. 

“Nope.  Just some folks thought you might need some help is all.”  The widow was in her seventies, after all.  He glanced past her to the building that was all but falling down around her ears.  

“Boy’s my daughter’s son.  She done got herself kilt; hit by a wagon.” 

“I’m real sorry ta hear that Ma’am,” Tanner sympathised. 

“Ain’t askin’ fer yer pity,” she growled, and took a step out onto the porch.  She let one hand drop from the shotgun and scratched at her hip.  The weapon temporarily sagged without direction.   “He’s my kin, and I damn well plan ta look after him.” 

Vin retreated back a step and held his hands up in front of his chest.  He wasn’t scared of the woman, but he didn’t want to risk giving her the notion that she needed to defend herself against him.  He noted that the shadow had once more appeared at the window.  “We ain’t here to take him away,” Vin soothed. 

“Damn right you ain’t!” she shouted. 

“We’ll be on our way then, Ma’am.”  He took another backwards step toward the horses and where Larabee waited. 

The mounts snorted, and the elderly woman snapped up her head.  She startled, causing her to stumble over the long brown skirt.  

Vin instinctively darted forward to help, but instead had to dive to the ground as a gunshot from the house knocked off his hat.  “Hell,” he muttered the curse, rolling in the dirt to cover his head with his arms.  He heard Chris’ own guns clear leather.  “No!”  That kid inside could only be six or seven.  One hell of a damn shot for someone his age, Vin mused.  Or else it was pure luck. 

The widow steadied herself and stood her ground.  “Hold yer fire, boy, unless I give the word,” she spoke to the unseen child.  “Who else you got with you?” She pointed the shotgun at Tanner, but searched the grounds for further intruders. 

Vin glanced over his shoulder to Chris and smiled as the older man was already returning his gun to his holster.  Vin remained sprawled on the ground.  “Ma’am, Chris Larabee,” he introduced. 

“Mornin’ Ma’am,” Chris greeted. 

Widow Barker squinted at the dark speck beyond her aged vision.  “You better come closer so I can see you, Mister.” 

Larabee dismounted and strolled over to where Vin now stood.  “Yes, Ma’am,” he grinned. 

“You got horses, too?”  The widow looked past the two lawmen, a speculative look crossed her face. 

Tanner answered for them both.  “Yes, Ma’am.” 

“We just wanted to check that the boy was okay.  Didn’t intend causing you no grief,” Chris spoke. 

“Well he’s fine, so you can best be on yer way,” she added tartly.  “You can tell those busybodies in town to stay outta my affairs, if they know what’s good for them.” 

“We’ll be goin’ then, Ma’am.”  Larabee and Vin turned to find their horses.  They’d done all they could do - this time. 

The older woman sighed, glancing through the open door to the cubby face of her only grandchild.  She smiled at the boy and whispered that he was safe now.  She fired a warning shot to the right and over their heads.  It collected in the branches of the oak tree and a shower of leaves fluttered to the ground.  It was always a good point to prove that she’d not been afraid to use the weapon.  “The other barrel’s still loaded,” she hollered after the departing horses.  “And don’t come back!” 


Larabee couldn’t remove the grin that came to his lips.  “She was a bit of a hellfire…” 

Tanner snorted.  “Hey, thanks for helping out, cowboy,” he drawled sarcastically. 

Larabee burst with laughter.  “You seemed to be doing fine.” 

“Next time, you can be the one to talk to her.”  And he knew there were going to be other occasions where they’d have to visit the elderly widow.  She would be in desperate need once the cooler weather claimed the land.  The house aside could do with some repairs, and someone had to do it.  He wondered how she intended supporting the child.  He was a growing boy and would require clothing as he grew.  Not to mention his schooling. 

“Reckon we can send one of the others, next time,” Chris winked.  He turned in his saddle and wondered why Tanner had stopped.  “Something wrong?” his smile thinned to a line as he saw the grimace that flashed across Vin’s face.  “What the hell…how…you okay?” 

Vin chuckled lightly and climbed from his horse.  He looked over his shoulder, lifting the corner of his coat and down at the smallish patch of blood.  “Yeah,” he groaned.  “Hell, she’s practically blind as a bat, but she somehow winds up slugging my ass with buckshot,” he grossed, pushing a cloth against the wound. 

Larabee dismounted and circled behind the tracker, barely restraining the laughter.  

“Shut-up, Larabee.” 

Chris rubbed at his jaw.  “Is it only the one?”  

Tanner nodded.  One was enough.  

“Reckon Nathan’ll be able to dig it out.” 

 “Hell, Nate’s as likely to want ta look at it ‘afore I even make it to the clinic…and I ain’t baring my ass in the middle of the street!  ‘Sides I ain’t going back into town, ‘til it’s out,” he squawked.  It was awkward enough riding with a piece of lead in his backside without going the whole distance. 

Chris folded his arms and leaned back against the trunk of a tree.  “You plannin’ on walkin’ back?” 

“Nope.  You’re gonna remove it.” 

Chris raised a sceptical eyebrow.  “It’s gonna hurt like hell…” He’d dug a few bullets out before, but that certainly didn’t encourage him to seek it out, especially when Nathan was more adept at it. 

“Already does,” Tanner winced.  And riding certainly didn’t help the tender area. 

They prepared a fire and set Chris’ blade in the blaze.  “You might want to expose the area,” he chuckled. 

Vin rolled his eyes, but did as he was told; unbuckling his belt he let the holster fall to the ground. 

“You need something to bite down on?” 

“Just get on with it,” Vin growled impatient to have the procedure finished and to have his britches back covering his backside. 

Larabee cooled the blade with a little water from his canteen and poured the remainder over the wound.  “Hold still, it won’t hurt…” 

Tanner screamed, kicking out his heels.  He buried his head in the dirt for a minute to catch his breath.  “Says it won’t hurt,” Vin mimicked.  “Hell, Larabee,” Vin tugged his trousers back up around his waist.  The firm fit of his pants enough to hold the wadded cloth in place over the fresh wound. 

Chris wiped the blade in the grass; he’d clean it when they returned.  “Didn’t let me finish,” he laughed.  “Was gonna say that it won’t hurt much.” 

Vin groaned, walking stiffly over to his horse.  “You ain’t gonna tell Nathan are you?” 

“Depends,” the gunslinger smirked as he threw his leg over the saddle. 

“On what?”  Vin followed more slowly. 

Chris clicked his tongue and spurred his mount into action.  “Whether I have to explain why you can’t sit in yer saddle or why you can’t get down from Peso,” he called over his back. 

Tanner cautiously planted his backside into the shaped seat, wincing as it rubbed the new wound.  “Ain’t gonna happen,” he hissed, and urged Peso into a steady gait intent on catching up with Larabee. 

The End

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Lone Wolf Series