A Bit of Blah

by Mary Ann

In the Year AU

Main Characters - the Seven

Author's Note: In answer to prompt word - Quarantine

"Stay still JD. You are sick and we're trying to figure out what it is that is causing your fever and not being able to keep food down. Just stay put and rest for now." Nathan placed the cool cloth over the youngsters forehead. He wasn't sure what it was that the youngest peacekeeper had, but hoped they could figure it out soon.

Nathan's wife, Rain, his nurse, was in the peacekeepers jail office using the powerful radio, calling medical doctors she knew who were well versed in fevers while she skimmed through a medical book looking for symptoms like JD was displaying.      

Buck stood near Rain, making minute adjustments to the radio so they wouldn't lose calls coming in from the doctors.

In chairs leaning back against the outside wall, Chris and Josiah watched the townspeople on this lazy morning. Though they were worried over how JD got sick last night, they also had duty to the town. Their gazes often turned across and down the road a bit to the medical clinic. A commotion at the far end of town had their gaze turn that way. They rose, watching the oncoming dust cloud.

In front of the brown cloud of dus,t a rubber wheeled wagon pulled by two galloping horned horses raced down the road. The man hauled back on the reins as the horses approached the jail. People on the boardwalk stopped to see what was going on or ducked into doorways to get out of the dust.

The team of horses came to a sliding halt a couple of yards beyond the jail, closer to the medical clinic.

"Do you know where Dr. Jackson is? I need him." The man yelled as he jumped down and tied the horses off.

Chris stepped forward. "What's wrong Mr. Harrison?"

"My wife and son are sick, fever and throwing up. I can't get their fevers down." Jake Harrison said as he rushed to the back of the wagon.

Josiah opened the back and saw Careen Harrison lying on a mattress wrapped in a blanket, she held their ten year old son in her arms. "Josiah, please help Jimmy, he's too hot," she begged as Josiah reached for her.

Rain came out of the jail and moved to Josiah's side. "Take them to the clinic. I'll go ahead and prepare beds." She turned and raced across the road.

Within minutes Careen and Jimmy were being carried into the clinic by Josiah and Chris. Jake followed them anxiously wringing his hands together. The two were placed on the ready beds. Rain ordered the men out of the room. She and Nathan set to work stripping the two and getting them into clean night shirts and under blankets. Josiah go a large container of cold water and more cloths and was ready to carry them into the room when Rain called for them.

While they worked, Chris led Jake out of the clinic and helped him get his wagon to the livery and care for the horses. As he unharnessed one of the horses, Chris worried that whatever it was, it was starting to spread.

Rain, speaking in a low voice, filled in Nathan as to what she'd learned from the doctors she'd talked to. They were advised to quarantine the sick for a few days, get the fever down and keep them hydrated. She also needed to find out what they'd eaten in the last day or two, as it could be food poisoning. One doctor was sending some medicine that would help, it would take a couple of days to get to them. Rain felt it might be a bad case of food poisoning. It seemed different than what they'd studied in school.

Once the Harrison's were as comfortable as the two doctors could get them, Nathan moved to JD. He asked him about what he'd been eating lately.

JD frowned at Nathan as he tried to remember what all he'd eaten.

"Maybe, where, or if you ate with someone out of town? I know you eat most of your meals at Ezra's place, but the Harrisons haven't been there for a long time." Nathan said as he ran the cool cloth over JD's face.

"Oh! I ate at Jim Barrow's, I was coming in from Ms Nettie's yesterday. He was walking along the road, so I gave him a ride to his place. He asked me to stay and have lunch with him. So I did. Other than that I've eaten at Ezra's restaurant." JD looked up at Nathan.

"Glad you remembered. I'll talk to Mrs. Harrison now. Drink this and see if you can keep it down." Nathan handed JD a cup.

"What's it?" JD asked sitting up.

"Chicken broth. The cure all for everything that's wrong with everyone." Nathan smiled and rose.

Crinkling his nose JD drank the mug of broth then laid back on the pillow, hoping it would stay down.

Nathan sat in a chair between Mrs. Harrison and her son, both had cool cloths on their heads. He asked her the same question he'd asked JD.

"We had dinner yesterday with Jim Barrow. He's kind of out of sorts since his wife died last month. He cooked. Why?"

"We suspect this might be food poisoning. We're trying to track down foods you've eaten lately." Nathan told her.

"We've had Jim over a few times, he wanted to repay us and invited us to his place. The food tasted all right. He's not as good a cook as Marilyn was but it was filling."

"Thanks Mrs. Harrison. We might have solved the problem. Just rest and we'll get you through this."

Nathan caught up with Rain in the kitchen filling mugs with chicken broth. "I think its food poison. They all ate with Jim Barrow yesterday. I don't think we need to quarantine anyone, just find out what he fed them and see if anyone else ate at his place. We should have some medicine in our supplies. If you check I'll go and check on Jim. He might be sick at home."

"Go, I've got this under control. I know just what we need, we do have it, I put it away." Rain shooed him out of the kitchen and picking up the mugs headed for their new patients.

Nathan, coming out of the clinic saw Vin pull his horse up at the livery and hurried over to him. "Did you see Jim Barrow on your rounds?"

Vin looked at Nathan, noting instantly that the man had been frowning and forming words he didn't say out loud. "Yeah, didn't talk to him though, just saw him out working on a fence. We waved and I kept going. What's wrong?"

"JD and two of the Harrisons ate with him yesterday and they are sick today. I suspect food poisoning. Have to get out there and check on him and find out what he fed them."

"Lets go, I know where he was working. I'll go with you."

Several minutes later the two men rode out of town, pausing long enough at the jail to let the others know where they were going. Ezra had joined the others and they were talking over what to do if this problem got worse.

They rode steadily for forty-five minutes before Vin pointed and led the way over a rise. As they went down the other side they could see a man working on a fence. Barrow's paused when he spotted the two riders, taking off his hat and wiping sweat off his forehead before returning it to his head.

"Hey, Vin, Nathan, what brings you out here?" Jim, a tall, thin but muscular, grey haired man with a short beard asked as they pulled their horned horses to a halt.

Nathan eased himself in his saddle and looking down at the man spoke, "Hi Jim. Got a little problem. I hope you can help me with it. Have three people who ate with you yesterday in the clinic sick with something. The only thing we can figure out is they all ate with you. Would you mind if I checked what you fed them?"

"Sick! Damn.. Sure come to the house, I have some leftovers. Lordy, I am sorry if they ate something bad at my place." He moved to where his horse grazed a little farther down the fence line. Mounting he kicked his horse into a canter and headed for his house a half mile away.

Once in the house Nathan followed Barrows to the kitchen and right away spotted the problem. There was a pan that looked as if it had never been washed. A large pot in the same condition sat beside it.

"Jim, when was the last time you washed these?" Nathan asked pointing to the heavy pan and pot.

"Umm, well wife told me they were some sort of iron pots and should never be washed. So I don't."

"They need to be though. They are bad. You need to scrub them real good and season them with oil, they need to be cleaned. At least wiped out after using them. Right now they are bad and cooking with them could cause problems. Itís a wonder you aren't sick." Nathan put the two pans in the sink and ran hot water in them. "You need to scrub them 'til they shine, then put some oil in and heat them for at least a half hour. They should be all right to use after that. But clean them at least twice a month if you use them all the time. Or you are going to get sick too."

"Thanks Nathan. I never knew that. Marilyn always took care of the cooking. I'll do that right now."

After a few more words, the two peacekeepers headed back to town. They were relieved it wasn't some sort of pandemic. Food poisoning could be bad but they knew how to treat it and everyone would be better soon.


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