JUST GET ME TO THE NEXT TOWN

by Jackie, a.k.a. Phoenix1972

 

Part 4

 

The cacophony of twisting metal, splintering wood, and the screams of terrified passengers rudely yanked Ezra from a deep sleep.  Before he could make sense of the confusion around him his world became weightless for the span of a few heartbeats only to come crashing back to earth with all the pain and finality of hitting a brick wall.

 

Ezra came to awareness with a strangled gasp and the feeling of a solid heavy weight pressing down onto his chest.  When his world came back into focus and the buzzing in his ears transformed into the keening cries of those injured around him he realized something horrific had occurred.  Pre-dawn light and snow filtered in through the shattered windows above where his flight through the air had ended.  Drawing in a ragged breath, Ezra raised his head and looked down at his chest only to find the sightless eyes of a fellow passenger staring back at him.  Yelping in fear he scrambled desperately to rid himself of the lax body pinning him to the side of the train.  Swallowing deeply once he’d freed himself he turned back to look at the poor soul who’d lost his life.  “I hope it was a quick and painless death, my friend,” Ezra whispered quietly as he reached out a shaking hand to close the sightless eyes.

 

He realized he had a shallow gash and blood was running freely from his palm.  Digging into his pocket for his linen handkerchief he gritted his teeth as he secured it over the wound as best he could.  It would have to do.

 

Hissing in pain as glass shards tugged at his clothing he got to his feet and squinted into the semi-darkness.  Where’s Chris?   Ridding his hair of debris as he carefully picked his way through the wreckage he came across a woman sobbing hysterically as she rocked back and forth cradling her mangled arm.  With alarm Ezra realized blood was pooling in her lap.  He spied a carpetbag lying nearby.  Digging through it frantically he found some relatively clean clothing.  As he tore the fabric into strips he tried to calm the woman.  “Ma’am it’s going to be all right.  I’m going to get you out of here.  My name’s Ezra and I’m glad to make your acquaintance Ms.--”

 

The woman quieted as Ezra’s voice penetrated her sobbing.  Sniffling she looked up at him.  “My name’s Anne Thomas.  Do you really think we’re going to get out of here?”

 

With gentle hands he took her battered arm and started binding her wounds.  He plastered on his gold-toothed smile as he realized she was missing two fingers.  Hoping to keep her attention focused on him he replied, “We will be getting out of here because I have an appointment to keep and I don’t plan on missing it.”  Once he tied off the bandage he grabbed a blanket, shook it out, and settled it about her shoulders.  “Have you seen anyone else moving around?”

 

She nodded and wiped at her nose with the blanket.  “Those that could walk went out that way,” she pointed to the other end of the car, “Some said they would bring help.”

 

Looking toward the murky darkness that encompassed the other end of the car Ezra replied, “I shall be right back.  If you should have need of me you only need to call.  I won’t be far.”

 

Ms. Thomas nodded and pulled the blanket tighter about her as she watched him move further down the aisle.

 

Pushing his way past another broken berth he found two men who’d met an unseemly end.  One unfortunate soul had been apparently skewered and appeared to have passed recently, if the warmth of his skin was any indication.  Probably the man who was screaming.  The other man had broken his neck and Ezra counted himself lucky for not having fallen to a similar fate.  “Damn it, Chris!  Where are you?” he shouted as he dropped down to look into a dark corner.

 

Nothing.

 

“Over here,” a voice called weakly from somewhere near.

 

Spinning on his knee and squinting into the darkness Ezra took a step forward.  The car had begun to brighten and he could now make out a shape propped in the corner.  It was not light enough to distinguish any of the person’s features.  Crossing his fingers, Ezra rushed toward the person and praying all the while he’d found his friend.

 

“Chris is that you?  How did you get to this end of the car?” Ezra asked as he dropped to his knees and reached out a trembling hand to figure before him.  Leaning closer Ezra could see blood flowing freely from a gash on Chris’s temple and jumped as a blood slicked hand grasped his wrist in a crushing grip.

 

“Broken,” was all Chris ground out between clenched teeth as he shivered in pain, his ashen complexion looking all the worse in the pale, early morning light.

 

“Wha-what’s broken Chris?”

 

“My leg.”

 

“Are you sure?  Maybe you just twisted it badly.”

 

Coughing harshly, Chris moaned, “I’m sure.  I don’t think I’ve ever hurt this bad before.”

 

Pulling his wrist from Chris’s grasp Ezra dropped back onto his haunches.  “So much for an uneventful trip.”

 

“Are you all right?” Chris peered blearily at Ezra looking for obvious wounds.  Thankful the man seemed alive and whole.

 

Looking down at himself, Ezra smirked.  “It appears that I have somehow escaped serious injury.  I have some bumps, bruises and I must have cut my hand at some point.  But for the most part I’m unscathed.  It’s a good thing considering the trouble you’ve landed in.  Nathan would have a field day with you.”

 

“Don’t make me laugh.  It hurts too much.”

 

Shaking his head Ezra sighed, “I wish Nathan were here.  He is much better equipped to handle these situations.”

 

“He’s not here.  It’s you and me.”

 

“I realize that but I’m hesitant to try and set your leg.  I should try and find a doctor.”

 

Moving his hand from his side Chris looked down at his blood covered fingers and closed his eyes.  Holding his hand up to show Ezra, he bit out, “I don’t think I have that long.”

 

Watching as the blood ran in rivulets down Chris’s hand to his wrist in morbid fascination Ezra leaned forward to look at the wound.  Biting his lip to keep from cursing Ezra lifted the saturated fabric away from the ugly, seeping gash that was just below Chris’s ribcage.  He was afraid to touch it knowing it would cause his friend even more pain and the almost constant tremors racking the lean frame told him it was excruciating.

 

Standing quickly, Ezra glanced around the immediate area looking for something to use to bind the wounds until they could be taken care of properly.  Seething in frustration when he couldn’t find anything clean enough to use he called out, “Don’t go anywhere.  I’ll be right back.”

 

“Wasn’t plannin’ on it.”

 

As Ezra hurried through the car digging through scattered carpet bags and gathering up the cleanest linens he could find he stumbled across their own possessions.  With a quick thank you sent up to Lady Luck he collected Ms. Thomas and returned to Chris’s side.

 

“Ms. Thomas, this is Chris Larabee.  Chris this is Ms. Thomas,” Ezra made the proper introductions as he carefully set down his finds.

 

Chris nodded at the woman before turning his attention to the carpet bag Ezra had set down near him.  “Is that what I think it is?”

 

“Ah, yes it is and you are in luck because,” Ezra dug around in the bag pulling out a full bottle of Rye, “our spirits have remained intact.  Now take a bracing drink and I’ll set about putting you back together so we may figure a way out of this mess.”

 

Chris reached for the bottle Ezra had opened and took three healthy chugs before Ezra pulled it away.  “Thanks, I needed that.”

 

“Don’t think on it.  I am, of course, keeping tally of all the inconveniences during our little sojourn.”  Ezra crept closer as he soaked a pad of cloth in Rye and placed it over the gash.  Grimacing as Chris jerked and hissed he tuned back to his carpet bag and pulled out a sewing kit.

 

Cleaning the wound as best he could, Ezra threaded the needle and took a quick swig of whiskey, grimacing as it burnt all the way down.

 

Watching as Ezra drizzled the liquor over the needle and thread, Chris asked, “You ever sew someone up before?”

 

“Do you wish to do this yourself?” Ezra asked as pulled the saturated pad from the wound and looked at the ragged tear.  Setting the pad back in place as he stared at the little snow piles growing on anything lying flat, Ezra smiled.  “I may not be as practiced as Nathan but even I know snow will numb the flesh.  Oh!” standing swiftly, he gathered up some snow in his cupped hands, “As luck would have it we appear have an abundance of it.”

 

Shaking his head, Chris sucked in a ragged breath, “Just make it quick.” 

 

Nodding in agreement, Ezra placed snow in a linen square and held it to the wound and after waiting several moments he pulled it away.

 

Piercing the over sensitized flesh with the needle, Ezra took a steadying breath.  This is nothing close to mending a shirt.  If you were not my friend you would be out of luck. 

 

Breathing slowly through his mouth Ezra fought to control his stomach as he felt the needle and thread tugging at the skin.  Looking up he noticed Chris’s pale complexion.  “Let me know if you feel as if you’re going to be sick.”

 

“I’m not going to be sick,” Chris growled as he opened his eyes to glare at the gambler. 

 

Ezra sighed in relief as he was able to tie off the last stitch.  Carefully inspecting his handiwork he smirked, “It may not be as pretty as Nathan’s but at least the stitches are neat.”

 

Chris bit back a grunt of pain as he sat up so Ezra could wrap the wound in his mid-section properly.  Once Ezra was done Chris sank back against the wall of the train which happened to have been the floor when the train was in its natural position.

 

“Someone’s coming, Mr. Standish,” Anne announced excitedly as she stood to look around the seats.  “I can hear them, they’re right outside.”

 

Pulling his gunbelt from the carpetbag Ezra hastened to strap it on.  “Ms. Thomas, please lower your voice.  We do not yet know if they are friend or foe.”

 

“Who else could it be?  They are probably checking the cars for survivors as we speak.”

 

“You can never be too careful.  We don’t even know why the train derailed.  Someone could have done it deliberately for all we know.  There are nefarious individuals who specialize in this sort of endeavor.”

 

“No.  I refuse to believe that.  I just want to get back home and end this terrible nightmare.”  She stumbled past Ezra and Chris toward the voices.  She called out, “Hello! Hello, we’re here!”

 

“Ms. Thomas!” Ezra hissed as he rose to his full height.  “Please.  Be patient and as soon as I finish tending Mr. Larabee’s wounds I will scout the area.”

 

“You better hope whoever coming is friendly because she’s just let everyone know where we are,” Chris gritted out as he wiped at the blood that trickled from the cut in his scalp.

 

Rolling his eyes at Chris, Ezra huffed, “I am perfectly aware of that.  Did you not hear me tell her?”

 

“Well go on and stop her.”

 

“It wouldn’t do any good.  They’re here.”

 

A man with a scrubby beard and dark unruly hair stuck his head through the window above.  “Howdy there, Miss.  We’ve been checking for survivors.  Is there anyone else with you?”

 

“Yes there are two men, one is injured.  The others are either gone or dead.”

 

“We’ll get you out in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.  I’ll be right back.”

 

Ezra watched in silence as the man disappeared once more and Ms. Thomas haltingly made her way back over to them.

 

“He’s bringing assistance,” she replied as she sank back onto the floor and cradled her injured hand.  “I’m a little dizzy.  I think I’ll sit here until they return.”

 

“Yes.  You do that,” Ezra sighed as he knelt down next to Chris and looked at his scalp.  “If you would stop touching this it would probably stop bleeding on its own.  I’m going to wrap it for now and see what happens.”

 

“Well don’t talk about it.  Wrap it up.”  Chris grabbed the bottle and took another large gulp.

 

Snatching the bottle back Ezra growled, “Don’t drink it all.  I need some of this for the wound.”

 

Ezra soaked another piece of cloth in the whiskey and dabbed at the wound.

 

“Ouch!” Chris snapped pulling away from Ezra’s firm touch.  “You did that on purpose!”

 

“The cut was filthy,” Ezra explained as he prepared the bandage, “and you don’t want it to putrefy.”

 

A loud crash behind them had Ezra jumping and turning around with his gun drawn.  The man he’d seen earlier slowly stood with his hands in the air.

 

“I don’t mean any harm.  I came to help get ya’ll out of the train.  Should be some wagons showing up in a few hours and we’ll take you to town.”

 

Looking the man over and deciding he didn’t appear to be too much of a threat Ezra lowered his gun.  “My friend has a broken leg.  Could you find something I could use as a splint or perhaps find me a doctor?”

 

The man scratched at his beard.  “I can find you some splints but the doctor is out with the injured and dying.”

 

“All right, we can wait here until your return.  I’ll assist you with getting Ms. Thomas out of the train and you can come back with the splints.”

 

“Sounds like a good idea to me.”

 

Come along, Ms. Thomas,” Ezra coaxed as he took her good arm and helped her from the floor, “you’re rescue is at hand.”

 

 

Part 5

 

“Be careful!  Can’t you see the man is injured?” Ezra called from his precarious position on top of the upended sleeper car.  Shivering as the frigid wind whipped down the steep slope, Ezra watched in consternation as the gunslinger was settled rather unceremoniously onto an improvised stretcher.  “I’m surrounded by bumbling fools.”  Buttoning his coat he reached for his carpetbag, the other two bags would stay behind for ease of travel.  Though he’d wanted to bring all three it wouldn’t have been a prudent choice in light of their current circumstances.  He’d been able to consolidate the three bags down to one.  They’d just have to buy new when they got to safety.

 

Looking up the tracks he could see several train cars lying about haphazardly, like forgotten children’s toys.  Some passengers were milling around as if in a daze while others appeared to be helping the more grievously injured.  It took a few moments of examining what he was seeing before he realized part of the train was missing.  “Where is the engine?”  Ezra called out to the men who had been assisting them.

 

The scruffy, dark haired man glanced up from where he’d draped a blanket over Chris and called, “Down the hill.  Couple cars went with it!  Be glad you weren’t on one of them!”

 

“What caused the derailment?”  Chris asked pulling the blanket tighter about him.

 

“Something blockin’ the tracks would be my guess.”

 

“Are we going to be stuck out here much longer?” Ezra asked as turned his attention back to the task at hand; getting himself and the carpetbag to the ground safely.

 

“Iffin you weren’t taking so long getting down outta the train maybe you could help.  It’d go faster that way,” the scruffy man growled as he turned toward the wreck to watch Ezra re-check the contents of his carpetbag.

 

Satisfied the bag’s contents were as protected as possible, Ezra leaned over as far as he dared and dropped it to the snow covered ground below.  Carefully making his way down, he failed to notice the dark haired man snatch up the bag and yank it open. 

 

“What’s you got in here that’s got you bein’ all careful?”  Pawing through the contents, he let out a whoop when he found the bottles of Rye and Bourbon.  “Henry!  Henry, come quick!  We got us some high falutin’ spirits!”

 

Dropping the remaining foot or so to the uneven ground Ezra lunged for the bag.  “Leave off!  That’s mine!”  Managing to snag one strap he pulled for all he was worth.  “It’s strictly medicinal.”  Luckily the man had only noticed the liquor and not Chris’s rig stashed in the bottom of the bag.

 

Holding on all the tighter to the carpetbag the man refused to turn loose.  “You owe Henry and me.  Ain’t nothin’ for free and as I see it we saved you from certain death.”

 

Ezra yanked again, pulling “Scruffy” slightly off balance.  “Certain death?” Ezra guffawed.  “I hardly think so.  We would have made our way out with or without your so called help.”

 

Scruffy leered at the gambler as he suddenly released the bag and pushed Ezra backward.

 

Unprepared for the abrupt feeling of freedom, Ezra toppled heavily to the snow packed ground.  Wheezing as he tried to draw a decent breath, he lay there as Scruffy dug out the bottle of Rye and downed a healthy slug.  “You, sir, and I use the term loosely, are a miscreant.”

 

Wiping his mouth on his grubby sleeve, Scruffy squatted next to Ezra.  “Now as I see it you and you’re friend here are in dire straits.”  Glancing over his shoulder at Chris, who was struggling to get up, he continued, “I think you need me and Henry’s help to see that your friend over yonder makes it to one of them wagons.  Train tracks are a dangerous place.  No telling what could happen as he seems pretty stove up to begin with.”

 

Ezra watched as Chris pushed Henry away and in obvious pain managed to struggle to one knee.  “Why offer assistance and then demand payment?  We have nothing.”

 

“Though me and Henry are, what’s the word?” Scruffy scrunched his face, apparently in thought.

 

“Charlatans,” Ezra huffed in frustration.

 

“Ha! No.” Scruffy laughed as he slapped Ezra on the cheek.  “We’re good Samaritans.”

 

Ezra burst out laughing.  “I’m sorry but good Samaritans don’t demand payment for helping people.  That’s why they’re called good Samaritans.”

 

“Don’t give them anything,” Chris’s growl ended in a grunt of pain as Henry kicked him in the back, knocking him back to the ground.

 

“Shut your trap or I’ll break the other one,” Henry snapped as Chris glared up at him.

 

“Try it and see what happens,” Chris bit out loudly enough that no one mistook its meaning.

 

Ezra watched Henry back off at the heated glare the gunslinger sent his way.  Turning his attention back to Scruffy he tried to discern what the man’s intentions were.  He did not relish the thought of being left dying in the snow to be feasted upon by the local wildlife and he was sure Chris would fight them as long as he was able.

 

Grinning down at the gambler as he took another long pull from the bottle, Scruffy stared off into the distance before glowering back down at Ezra.  “Nothing?  Really?” and At Ezra’s headshake, he continued. “Well you sure were riding in comfort for someone who ain’t got nothin’.  I guess you two yahoos will just have to stay here then.  Permanently.”

 

Scruffy slid a large Bowie knife from the scabbard tucked inside his boot, made sure Ezra saw how large it was, and calmly went about cleaning the grit from beneath his nails.

 

“W-Wait!  There’s no need for such drastic measures,” Ezra choked out as he tried to sit up.  The cold glint in Scruffy’s eyes stopped him.  “I’m sure we could come to some type of accord.”  He should never have let his guard down.  Now he and Chris were at a disadvantage and he was stuck on his back like a damn turtle.  If he tried to shoot Scruffy, Henry would take Chris out and if he took Henry out then Scruffy would shoot him and then Chris.  This whole situation was heading south quick like and he needed another plan of action.

 

“I’m listenin’.”  Scruffy huffed and moved the blade closer to Ezra’s face.

 

Enthralled by the sun glinting off the deadly blade Ezra almost forgot where he was.  Shaking himself mentally he replied, “You get me and my associate to town, unharmed mind you, and I’ll make it worth your while.”

 

“How are you gonna do that?  You just said you didn’t have nothing,” Scruffy sneered as he pointed the blade at the gambler.  “You tryin’ to trick me?” 

 

Cringing as the blade was placed beneath his chin, Ezra slowly raised his hands in supplication and croaked, “Now why would I do such a thing?  You hold all the cards and I vow on my poor, sweet mother’s grave that I won’t try to dupe you.”

 

“On your mama’s grave.”  Setting the bottle of Rye carefully on the ground Scruffy quickly slid Ezra’s Remington from its holster and stuffed it into his coat pocket.

 

Cautiously sitting up as Scruffy backed off, Ezra raised his right hand in oath, “I swear on my mother’s grave.  May she rest in peace.”

 

“I’m holdin’ you to it.”  Scruffy stood up and handed Ezra his carpetbag.  Holding the bottle of Rye up for all present to see, he smirked, “I’ll take this as a down payment.”

 

Tucking the bag under his arm Ezra wiped at the blood that dripped from beneath his chin, “You do that.”

 

~o~

 

“He has your gun,” Chris sighed in disbelief as he settled back onto the stretcher and closed his eyes.

 

Touching his empty holster Ezra agreed.  “Yes, and he has the Rye.”  Setting the carpetbag next to the stretcher Ezra patted its side and smiled secretively as he knelt down next to the wounded gunslinger.  “He doesn’t have the bourbon or your weapon.  Fortunately for us he was blinded to the rest once he found the Rye.  Maybe we’ll be lucky and he’ll pickle his brains before long.”

 

“Small miracles.  You been thinkin’ of how we’re going to get ourselves out of this one?”  Chris asked gritting his teeth as he adjusted his broken leg on the stretcher.

 

“Oh, why yes I have been.  I was also able to get you patched up, gather our belongings, and lift your crippled carcass out through the window,” Ezra groused as he wiped at tired eyes.  “I then had to climb out on my own where I was brutally manhandled and disarmed.  I’ve had plenty of time to form a plan of escape.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“That’s all you have to say?”

 

“Uh, thank you?”  Chris asked with a questioning look.

 

Shaking his head in frustration Ezra made a show of straightening Chris’s blanket as he glanced quickly to his left where Scruffy and Henry were gulping down the Rye.  “It appears as if these two take to liquor as if it’s mother’s milk.  We may be in for a long wait, a wait that I, and most especially you, can ill afford to take.”

 

Pushing himself up, Chris hissed quietly, “Then give my gun and we’ll go.  The Rye’s not going to last long.”

 

“You are in no condition to handle a gun.  You can’t even stand on your own two feet without pitching face first into the snow.”  Ezra pointed out as he took in the peaked look that had suddenly come over the gunslinger.

 

“Give me my gun.  I don’t have to stand to shoot.”

 

“Ssh.  They’re coming over here.  Lie back down and act helpless.”

 

“It may not be an act.”

 

 

Part 6

 

Ezra sat down on the edge of the blanket next to Chris and looked up in apprehension at the afternoon sky.  “Hopefully the wagons are on their way.  I don’t relish the idea of spending the night in the snow and the way the clouds look there may be some weather on the way.”  Jamming his hands under his arms and hunching his shoulders against the cold, Ezra shivered violently.

 

“Here take the blanket, my coat’s thicker than yours.”  Chris started to pull the blanket off but Ezra stilled his hands.

 

“You need it more than I.  Just remember the next time you’re vexed with me, I let you keep the blanket.”  Ezra grinned and rubbed at his arms in an effort to generate some heat.  “I wonder how long it will take us to get to town?”

 

“Don’t know.  Right now I’m more concerned with our friends over there.  They’ve just finished off the bottle,” Chris whispered as he pulled the blanket up over his shoulders, “and they know you’ve still got the bourbon and we’re unarmed.”

 

Settling the carpet bag between his knees and opening it, Ezra carefully dug down through the supplies and gripped Chris’s rig.  Keeping a cautious watch on their two antagonists, he slowly pulled it from the bag and lifted the edge of the blanket.

 

Chris snaked a hand out to pull the rig to his side.  Ezra watched Chris grimace as he tried to slip the belt beneath his lean hips without jostling his broken leg.

 

“If I were you I’d just hold it.  There’s absolutely no need for you to aggravate your injuries.”

 

“Just keep an eye on them and I’ll put it on.” Chris took several steadying breaths before continuing.  “Don’t worry I can do it in my sleep,”

 

“I know.  I wasn’t sure you’d be able to do it in light of your current situation.”

 

“Ez, the day I can’t strap my gun on is the day I’m dead.”

 

Sighing dramatically, Ezra looked on as Chris hissed in pain while strapping on his gun belt and if possible the man paled further.  It makes me hurt just watching you.  “Apparently, I have underestimated your determination.”

 

“Yup.  Now let’s get the hell out of here.”  The gunslinger flipped back the blanket with a shaky hand and made to get up.

 

Pushing Chris back down Ezra snapped, “How exactly do you plan on accomplishing that.  Lest you forget you’ve got a gash in your side, a cut on your head, and oh yes, a broken leg!”

 

“Get me something to use as a crutch.”

 

Patting down his coat pockets Ezra shot a frosty glare at his companion.  “Sorry, fresh out.  Now relax and close your eyes.  You should rest while you have the chance.”

 

“Don’t make me shoot you,” Chris quipped as he propped himself up on his elbows to stare at the gambler.

 

“Don’t waste your bullets.  You may need them for these two.”

 

You should have shot him when you had the chance.  For all we know these two caused the derailment.”  Chris threw a quick glance over at Henry and Scruffy.  “By the way, if you haven’t noticed, your damsel in distress is not here.”

 

With a perplexed look Ezra stood and took in the area around them.  “Wha…?  No, unfortunately I have been preoccupied with helping you and keeping us alive.”  Laughter drew his attention to the two men sitting several feet away.  “I hope they wouldn’t have taken advantage of that poor woman.”

 

Squinting up at the gambler Chris asked, “Where have you been?  You sure you didn’t hit your head?”

 

“I’ve been right here.”  Scratching at his head Ezra looked around once more.  “Damn it!  Stay right here and don’t move.”  Straightening his coat, Ezra stalked off in the direction of Scruffy and Henry.

 

“Be careful.”

 

Ezra waved him off and stopped a few feet from the two inebriated men.  Shaking his head in displeasure Ezra growled, “Where is Ms. Thomas?”  When he only received confused looks he asked, “And how exactly are you going to assist my friend and I in your current condition?”

 

“Tom who?” Scruffy slurred as he tried to push himself to a more upright position.

 

Lord save me from fools.  Sighing in frustration Ezra explained, “Ms. Thomas is the woman you pulled out of the train wreck.”

 

“Oh.  The lady.”  Scruffy belched loudly and laughed.  “She didn’t have money neither.  Funny y’ all sitting in the best car and no money.”

 

Squatting down in front of Scruffy, Ezra grabbed him by the lapels of his coat.  “I will not ask again.  Where is Ms. Thomas?”  In his anger Ezra did not see Henry crawling to his knees.

 

Henry reached over and grabbed Ezra’s arm in a surprisingly firm grip.  “Turn loose, Mister.”

 

“What have you done with that woman?”  Ezra growled, ignoring Henry’s grip.  Shaking Scruffy only made his head loll and laugh drunkenly.  “You better not have hurt her.”

 

“I warned you!” Henry shouted and clumsily pulled Ezra’s gun, aiming at the gambler.

 

Ezra turned loose Scruffy and held his hands up.  Men with guns were dangerous and inebriated men with guns were more so.  “There’s no need to shoot.  Just tell me where the woman is.”

 

Henry squinted at the gambler.  “Over yonder.  Don’t worry none cause you and your friend will be joining her directly.”  With shaking hands Henry cocked the gun.  “Now stand up, slowly, and move over that way.  Don’t want to drag you further than I have too.”

 

Ezra noticed the trembling in Henry’s hands had increased and, praying to fickle Lady Luck, he threw a quick jab knocking the man to the ground.  Ha! See what happens when you tangle with Ezra P. Standish. 

 

As Ezra squinted down at the motionless man he noticed a small hole, which had somehow mysteriously appeared, just below Henry’s left eye.  Leaning down to get a closer look he gasped when the snow beneath Henry’s head quickly turned red.  What in the world?  His right bicep flared with pain and he reached up to grasp the arm.

 

“Jesus, Ez.  He almost killed you!”  Chris huffed out as he collapsed at Ezra’s feet.  “Tie the other one up before I pass out.”

 

Pulling his shaking hand away from his arm he looked at the blood coating his palm.  “You shot me!” he complained glaring icily at the gunslinger lying at his feet.

 

“Just tie him up,” Chris wheezed as he gestured at the other man who had apparently already passed out.

 

“I’m standing here bleeding and you want me to tie him up?  You tie him up, you shot me.”

 

Pushing himself to a sitting position Chris wiped at the cold sweat that had broken out across his upper lip.  “You moved and besides, I can’t tie him up.”

 

“Why ever not?  You managed to limp your way over here.”  Ezra cut the rope Henry had been using to hold his pants up and stomped over to where Scruffy lay.  Turning the man over Ezra tied his hands behind him.

 

“Not feeling too well,” Chris mumbled before falling back into the snow, his eyes fluttering closed.

 

Jumping to his feet Ezra rushed over to Chris and dropped to his knees.  Tapping the gunslinger on the cheek and calling his name didn’t get him any response.  “I should have stayed in bed!”  Ezra yelled up into the gray skies.  Throwing his arms up in exasperation he flinched in pain.  “Ow,” he moaned clutching his arm.

 

 

PARTS 1-3 / PARTS 7-10 / PARTS 11-13 / PARTS 14-15

 

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Jackie  2011