Editorial Comment

by Pat

Karen McGowen must receive credit and praise for this idea

Eleanor Treymayne must receive credit for giving us Chaucer’s personality.

DC Priestess must receive honor, worship and glory for Beta work beyond the call of duty.

No one can exactly remember what Larabee first got so riled about. Everyone was sure it was something that the rest of his men had done, perhaps something stupid, as that was the usual gist of most of his complaints with the rest of the Seven.

The fact that they were walking back to Four Corners instead of being mounted had something to do with it. The horses actually met them later. Chaucer, the big horse belonging to Ezra Standish, had taken all their leads (except Peso’s) and was bringing them back. Peso was following them and nipping at their heels as though herding them in the correct direction.

It could have been the explosion that had caused the horses to panic and leave. Larabee usually got pretty irate when dynamite came into play, especially when he wasn’t expecting it. For once none of the Seven had actually touched or been carrying dynamite, and were just as surprised as Larabee to shoot at a bear and blow up both said bear and half a cliff, sending the whole lot of them for a spring bath they hadn’t planned on.

It might have been the two-mile walk from the stream that had irritated him so badly. While they could and would walk many miles, having to walk in wet clothing and leather boots is somewhat chaffing. Perhaps he was annoyed because Ezra Standish had managed somehow to grab onto a tree branch on the way down the new hillside and had managed to keep himself dry and clean. Ezra’s insistence on being fashionable at all times was usually a source of amusement for his comrades, but perhaps his pristine appearance was galling to the gunslinger.

By the time they reached the Forkbush Farm, however, it was immediately apparent that Larabee was mad. Mrs. Forkbush grabbed the youngins and sent them inside to protect their tender personalities from the profanity that was building up like a twister on her land. She and the children peeked through hand knit lace curtains at the grand entertainment.

Mr. Forkbush stood at the door and watched carefully, with some professional interest, since Larabee, generally a silent man who let his actions speak on his behalf, had reached a level of poetic phraseology that was stunning in both verbiage and capacity.

A wind started to rise, and Forkbush, who had spent two years at sea, was certain the building rainstorm was being called by the strength of Larabee’s wrath. However, it had been a dry year, so he didn’t hold it against the town protector.

His men had stopped when the haranguing started and now stood staring at him. Vin Tanner his best friend reached inside his shirt and touched his medicine bag carefully. Chris was sure was on a tear, but his Indian father had told Vin long ago that swearing aloud could invite disaster from evil spirits. Vin figured any evil spirit in a 3-mile radius was getting an earful, so he touched his bag and said a few silent protective prayers in Kiowa.

While there is no truth to the supposition that birds flying overhead dropped dead from the trauma of Larabee’s anger, it is true that one of the chickens in the immediate vicinity suddenly died. It still could be coincidence, but it was a perfectly healthy chicken. Considering Larabee's track record with chickens, it could have been just reputation, but no one will ever know. The Forkbush family had the chicken for Sunday supper with no ill results.

Given their fascination with events, no one really paid much attention when Flossie, the Forkbush family milk cow, made her way up to where the man dressed in black was calling down the wrath of the gods. Flossie probably didn’t notice much either. Cows aren’t known for philosophical bents or even much in the way of intelligence. Buck Wilmington had once confided to JD he had tossed a large rock off the top of a barn onto a cow’s head when he was a youngin’ playing around. The cow had mooed softly and went on its way, completely unharmed.

And now, Flossie, with even less brain mass, meandered past Larabee and started to crop the grass. Larabee and his men also ignored the cow, although Ezra Standish, did move away from the cow’s person. Ezra instinctively kept clear of things that might damage his appearance or unintentionally stand on his foot.

Larabee’s voice had been low pitched at first, but steadily built up in volume and tone.

Josiah Sanchez considered a few cases of demon possession that had come to his attention during his unfortunate short sojourn in the priesthood and surreptitiously took out his large wooden cross. Larabee appeared unaffected and he gave a sigh of relief. He wasn’t sure he was in the proper spiritual condition to perform an exorcism.

Finally Chris Larabee, having dissected the whole lot of them, the town of Four Corners, their miserable horses and somehow managed to blame the hidden cache of dynamite on his men, paused, to take a breath. He then let loose with a final, explosive invective that made the men around him blanch, and had Mrs. Forkbush clapping her hands over the ears of her children.

Flossie coughed.

It was not a discreet cough. It was a singularly loud noise, but what made it so remarkable at the time was the fact that Flossie also sprayed a large evil smelling green source of bovine corruption out of her nether regions and hit Larabee dead on, in mid breath. He froze, utterly covered with liquid cow fecal matter.

“Oh Shit,” said Buck Wilmington.

“Good Lawd,” exclaimed Ezra Standish.

“Mercy!” prayed Josiah Sanchez

“Ulp,” said young Sheriff JD Dunne.

“Lord, that cow is sick,” exclaimed Nathan Jackson.

Larabee, still frozen in shock, glanced over at his friend, Vin Tanner. “I reckon you done insulted her delicate sensibilities, Cowboy,” drawled the Texan, “After all, she’s a lady cow.”

There was a moment of complete and utter silence, as if the entire world held its breath.

Until Buck Wilmington proceeded to howl in laughter, and was joined by J.D. Dunne.

Ezra Standish put a scented silk handkerchief to his nostrils to shield him from the odor and to hide the tears of merriment leaking from his amused eyes.

Nathan Jackson and Josiah Sanchez, both known as steady dependable men, starting whooping and laughing so hard that they had to hold each other up.

Farmer Forkbush rushed forth from his home. “Thanks be to the Lord,” he beamed, “Flossies been bound up for weeks.”

Vin Tanner, who had remained laconic, though amused, started to twitch.

Farmer Forkbush beamed, and patted Flossie on the rump. “I’ve been in a straight on conniption trying to find a cure.” .” This was actually a bald faced lie, but wise Farmer Forkbush had learned that people tended to be kinder to those they had done favors to, and Flossie was a valuable milk cow.

“Cowboy’s a miracle worker, all right. Nathan, ya got competition now.” With that, Tanner started snorting and laughing and actually fell on his backside on the ground, chortling merrily. “You scared the stuffin out of poor Flossie, Cowboy. Just think, you got a new career.”

“I now understand the extreme practicality of the black ensemble, Mr. Larabee. Good choice,” ventured Ezra Standish in a sly voice.

Nathan Jackson and Josiah Sanchez, both pointed at their leader and laughed even harder.

Larabee watched all this, still frozen in horror at all the clumps of cow poo decorating his apparel.

Then his eyes glinted.

Tanner, who was a very wise young man, immediately jumped to his feet and lit off like a jack rabbit with a burned backside.

Larabee started to scoop the horrible stuff off his shirt.

Ezra Standish screamed in utter horror, “Not the VELVET,” and took off after Tanner.

The others realized their danger, and took off as if the demons of hell were after them.

Farmer Forkbush hid behind Flossie, petted her consolingly and then lit off for the house. After all, Larabee was armed.

Larabee, unmindful of this, chased his whooping friends and fellow protectors of the innocent the entire way back to Four Corners. It’s not known what retribution he served upon his fellow peacekeepers, but legends say that it was dark and terrible.

Serene, Flossie stood in the yard, alone. She quietly ate a buttercup and then rendered her own opinion of cowboys and loud noises, “MOOOO.”

Cowboys may win fame, fortune and friends, but every cow has her day.

PS – no cows were harmed in the making of this story.