The Gift: Epilogue


Note: Sequel to The Gift. Best to read that one first, otherwise you won’t have a clue as to what I’m writing about in this one.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, Chris paused a few minutes from chopping wood to grab a drink from his nearby canteen. After taking a swig he squinted in the distance at a figure riding toward him. Recognizing the horse and rider immediately, he lay down his ax and waited for his friend to come up to him.

"Vin," he greeted, with a slight nod.

"Chris," came the reply, as the tracker swung down off his horse.

"Thought you and JD be fishin’ today yet."

Giving his head a shake, Vin said, "JD’s gonna take Casey fishin’ later today, so I thought I’d stop by and see what you were doin’."

"Just tryin’ to get ready for winter," Chris said, as he gestured toward the growing pile of chopped wood.

"Want some help?"

"Kin always use an extra hand," Chris said, picking up the axe.

"I’ll use Peso to pull a few of those timbers over here, won’t have ta carry them then."

"Alright," said Chris, as he turned and went back to splitting logs again.

Working together the men made good time in getting their task accomplished. As the sun neared the mid afternoon point, Vin asked his friend if he’d like to join him in doing some more fishing.

"Since ya weren’t around last night to help us eat all the fish we caught, thought maybe ya’d like to have some for supper tonight."

"Sounds good to me, Vin, long as you don’t mind eating fish two nights in a row."

A shrug of the shoulders and a slight grin told Larabee that it didn’t matter one way or another to the tracker what he ate…as long as it was something.

After a few hours of fishing, they’d caught enough to cook for supper. Chris never minded when Vin came to call for a meal. Most times he brought the food with him, something freshly caught or shot and truth be told, his friend was a great cook. The ex-buffalo hunter knew all about herbs and roots and always made a feast out of whatever they were having. So he was looking forward to sharing this meal with Vin.

Finally, after having sated his appetite, Chris sat back and lit a cheroot.

"Was good Vin, thanks."

"S’kay. Always seems to taste better over an open fire, don’t ya think?"

"Seems to."

Pouring himself a cup of coffee Vin came to sit next to his friend and enjoy the setting sun. "Sure gets dark early this time of the year."

"Fall was always Sarah’s favorite time of the year," Chris said, puffing on his smoke and reminiscing. "She loved the change in color of the leaves, the smell of dampness in the soil and the coolness of the mornings and evenings," he said, with a hint of a smile touching his lips.

"And you?" Vin asked softly, rubbing his thumb back and forth on the rim of his coffee cup, looking out to the horizon, just as Larabee was. It was rare that Chris would tell of his life with Sarah, the memories being too painful, but every once in awhile when they were together, like this, certain elements would be shared.

"I hated it," Chris said, his grin widening. "Still do. Hate that it gets dark so soon, hard for a man to get anything done, but I sure didn’t mind those cold mornings and evenings," he said, looking at Vin with that cocky grin of his and a twinkle in his eye.

Vin ducked his head and grinned along with his friend, taking another sip of coffee.

Sitting in a comfortable silence, Vin thought of something he wanted to say.

"Thanks for playin’ along the other night with that con on Ezra and Buck. Enjoyed doin’ that."

"It was fun, Vin. Think I got as much enjoyment out if it as you did. There was a moment’s hesitation and then Chris asked, "You gonna let me in on how ya did it?"

Vin turned to look at Chris and gave a tilt of his head. "Ya mean ya ain’t figured it out yet, cowboy?" he asked, with a grin.

Removing his hat and running his hand through his hair, Chris said, "Nope, but I do figure that JD was in on it with ya, just haven’t guessed how it was done though."

Getting up to get another cup of coffee the lean tracker sat back down and told his friend how he’d done it.

"Yer right about JD. He was in on it. Him, his glass of beer and his napkin. See, wherever he set his beer on his napkin that’s where the special spot was. Like if’n he set it on the upper right or left hand corner then I knew that’s where the money was that they’d touched. If’n it was in the middle somewhere then he’d put his glass either up or down or in the middle of the napkin."

Chris nodded his head and then grinned at the man. "So that’s why it didn’t even matter that they made JD move to another table? You saw where he set his beer down when you came into the room?"

"Yup, that didn’t matter one bit." Vin gave a laugh and emptied his coffee cup. "You plannin’ on sleepin’ out here or headin’ back?"

"Headin’ back," the gunslinger answered, putting his hat back on and standing up. "I ain’t puttin’ up with this cold when I got a warm place to sleep. You’re welcome ta stay at my place."

Looking up at the full moon rising, Vin took a deep breath and breathed in the cool night air. "Thanks Chris, but I’ll bed down here. Won’t be able to do it much longer, so I’ll enjoy it whilst I can."

"Coffee’ll be on in the mornin’," Chris said, as he mounted his horse. "See ya then."

"Alright," Vin said, with a nod of his head. "Night Chris," he added, as he and his friend grabbed forearms in their usual handshake.

With a final nod, the man in black disappeared into the inky night, the huge moon lighting his way home and Vin got ready to spend his evening out under the stars.

Lying down on his bedroll Vin thought about his favorite time of the year. Like Sarah, he favored the fall of the year, but also decided spring was his favorite too--everything was new then, grass, leaves, newborn critters, it was a tough call as to which was his favorite. He remembered then that he hadn’t asked Chris which was his favorite. Another time perhaps, when they were together, he’d ask.

He smiled one last time before pulling his hat down over his face. His mind wandered back to the con he’d pulled. He knew he told them that he’d had ‘the gift’ but in reality, he figured his friends were really ‘the gift’. It was a special feeling to know that they could laugh together as well as fight together. They were indeed, a special breed of men and he was thankful for them.


Note: If I didn’t explain how the trick was done well enough, just ask and I will be happy to go into more detail. Oh what a fun story to do! I am sorry that this took so long to get out. Sometimes life just throws you a curve and things get put on the back burner for awhile. But I do hope you enjoyed this. Was tough to come up with some way to tell how it was done, but I figured Vin would let Chris in on it at some point. It just seemed like the natural thing to do.

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