First Showdown

Carol Pahl

Disclaimer: Not mine, I just borrowed them. No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with production is intended. No money will be made from this story. Thanks for the short-term loan.

Comments: Josiah and JD were visiting. Thought I'd let you eavesdrop, too. This snippet contains reference to the two episodes "Obsession" and "Achilles" and takes place following the last gun battle in "Obsession". Unfortunately several storylines seemed unresolved at the end of the episode. What happened to JD following his first showdown? Here's what they told me.

Josiah walked around the ranch buildings, searching for friends, enemies, survivors or casualties. Nathan tended Chris Larabee's chest wound, bloody and painful but mercifully not fatal. Vin stayed at the healer's side, offering assistance when needed.

Buck sat in the shade of the kitchen, rocking the lifeless body of the woman, Hilda. The woman broke through the lothario's carefree attitude and touched the man's heart. Her senseless death, coming to his aid, left the normally gregarious man numb, unaware of the situation confronting the others still in the yard.

When Ella Gaines invited the seven peacekeepers to her ranch under the ploy to rid her valley of Handsome Jack Avreall and his gang, she deceived them all. Her only desire was Chris Larabee, her former lover. After the men repelled the outlaws attack the day before, the dark clad gunslinger announced his intent to remain with Ella at her ranch when the rest of the seven returned to town. Her obsession knew no bounds. In cahoots with Jack Avreall, she arranged for his men to ambush the bunkhouse early the next morning. She would share Chris Larabee with no one, not even his six loyal friends.

Josiah looked at the destruction left after the attack on the lawmen. Dead bodies, surrounded by pools of blood, lay in the dirt. Riderless horses roamed freely, searching for their owners. None of the deceased looked familiar. Where were the other two gunslingers, the gambler and the kid?

During the gun battle, the card shark escaped the grim reaper when a bullet struck his chest and hit a diamond broach he won the previous evening in a poker game. Josiah expected to see blood when he saw Ezra's body jerk after being shot. The precious stone deflected the projectile but separated from its filigree finding and flew into the dirt under the wagon. The large man imagined Ezra sifting through the soil searching for the valuable gem.

He turned his search toward finding JD, the youngest of the peacekeepers. He remembered seeing the boy when they all burst from the root cellar ready to take on the cowardly gang attempting to murder them in their beds. JD stayed low and covered the others as they emerged from the earthen passageway.

None of the corpses resembled the easterner. No bowler lay abandoned in the dirt. Where was the boy? Coming around the edge of the barn, Josiah stopped. Sitting the grass, JD sat staring at his pearl-handled pistol. A few feet away lay the unmoving body of another young man, one of the gang members.

"JD, you hurt?" the gentle giant whispered.

"No." The one word response and lack of eye contact worried the former man of God.

Settling his large frame into he grass, Sanchez leaned against the weathered boards. "Wonderin' where you disappeared to. It's all over."

"Why? Why'd they come back?" JD lifted his head and stared at the body laying thirty feet away.

"You and him?" Josiah asked, avoiding the boy's question.

"Yeah." Dunne's gaze returned to the Colt still held in his hands.

"Was it like ya expected?"


The two men sat in silence. Flies and bugs flew around them, oblivious to the tragedy that just transpired.

JD spoke first. "When you sent me around the corner, there he was." He nodded toward the corpse. 'Had both his guns out but when he saw me he holstered them, twirling one. He smiled; waiting for me ta put up mine. You know, that night Chris and Buck and me went ta town to talk to that Handsome Jack fella, this kid challenged me, said I was wearing his hat. I called him stupid before Buck pushed me into the saloon."

Josiah sat back, enjoying the sun's strength warming his stiff joints while listening to the boy's tale. He knew that once JD started talking nothing less than a gun battle would stop his rambling.

"He challenge you again?" Josiah offered, knowing his young friend needed to share.

"Not in so many words, just stood there waiting on me. I holstered my guns and took up the stance, like in the books. All I could hear in my head was Buck, 'Ain't how quick you draw, just how deadly you shoot.' Preacher, it weren't nothin' like them stories. Him and me standin' there, facing each other. Fore I knew it, his gun was in his hand. Damn he was fast, faster than me. Felt the bullet sail past my face; I was still drawing. He missed, I didn't."

In the distance, Vin and Buck called out, looking for them but Josiah didn't answer. When JD first met the others, he bragged he could ride and shoot. He hero-worshipped Chris Larabee and wanted to be just like the seasoned gunslinger. This morning, the young gunslinger took one step closer to that goal.

"It was my bullet took him down. Just him and me. Not in a battle, not in self-defense, just him and me! Each of us wanting to kill the other, ta prove he was better. How'd I get so much hate in me to want ta kill like that?"

Josiah looked at JD's expression. The boy would never make a good gambler as fear, anger, disgust and anguish all was expressed on his youthful face. His hazel eyes offered portals to the man-child's soul, a soul wracked with conflict. A few weeks before the boy accidentally killed an innocent bystander when outlaws attempted to rob the local bank. They almost lost him them. Now he'd stood up to another youth in a face to face showdown. Silently Josiah offered a prayer that John Dunne would not loose all of his innocence to become a hardened killer, that somewhere beneath all the bravado and pride existed a conscious that revealed killing was not the answer to solve the problem.

"Chris is hurt. We've got ta get him back to town. You still riding with us?"

JD turned to Josiah and smiled, "Yeah, just try to stop me." He reached out a hand to help the older man stand.

The preacher put his arm around his young friend's shoulders and gave a gentle squeeze. "Ya done good, son. Ya done good."


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October 2000