Author's Note: The characters aren't mine. sob They never will be. The folks who really own them never seem to notice when I sneak them out so I'm gonna keep doing it. I don't make any money. I can dream
This is an old west story. It's full of injuries ouch Humor I hope and it's complete
WE REALLY TRIED
Chris Larabee was saddling up to take three prisoners to Eagle Bend for the Judge. This time he had ordered Nathan to accompany him. It had been a truly rough month for the town healer. If he wasn't busy with the aftermath of saloon brawls, it was a small measles outbreak.
Then of course there was the Murphys recent settlers into the area. A stranger bunch of accidents and happenings they had never seen before. Trouble just seemed to follow that family around like the pet dog. Amazingly they were a very light hearted, cheerful crew all 13 of them.
The end result was poor Nathan hadn't had a uninterrupted night's sleep in weeks and was exhausted. Knowing that Jackson wouldn't rest, Chris was determined to get him out of town before he killed himself.
Nathan tossed his saddlebags over his saddle and tied them into place. "Ya'll stay outta trouble. I won't be here to patch up your sorry hides." Nate warned glaring at the three youngest regulators.
"Aw Nate" JD protested.
"Don'tcha aw Nate me" Jackson growled. "You three attract trouble like a stable attracts flies." Nathan snorted.
"That's about right" Buck chuckled, "They're all full a shit".
"Watch your backs" Vin ordered.
"Keep your head down" Chris responded.
Without discussing it Chris and Nathan had pushed to get back to Four Corners. They were worried about the ones they left behind. Nathan looked much better just for the short time away.
Riding into town the two men pulled their horses to a halt and stared in stupefaction. The townsfolk and most of the regulators leaned, sprawled, laughed and giggled at the altercation in the street.
A tall, very thin youngster was dressed in wild west show style clothing ran past them. He wore a gunbelt with an out of date Walker Colt hanging at his hip, in danger of sliding completely off. He had the reddest hair either man had ever seen. He was ducking, flinching, yelping and cursing as Vin Tanner pelted him with rocks. The normally laconic , laid back, almost invisible sharpshooter was pot boiling mad. Chris and Nathan exchanged bewildered looks as they turned to watch the youngster flee town.
"Getchr thcrawny athth outta here for I'th jutht up and thoottha fer tha printhipal" Tanner bellowed as he chased the man scooping up more 'ammunition' as he came. "Get yer fool thelf kilt" Vin fumed.
"Tanner!" Chris roared.
"Aw Hell." Vin dropped the rocks and turned around.
"What in hell are you doing?" Chris hissed.
"What'th it look like. I'th thuthkin' rockth" Vin snarled back fists clinched and his jaw thrust out pugnaciously. "Back off 'fore I pelt you too." Vin growled and gave a high wattage glare from under the shadow cast by his wide brimmed hat. It was easily a match for any Larabee glare ever created. Chris swallowed hard and Nathan gulped at the possibly serious threat. Vin blinked slowly and his tongue crept out to wet his lip. The rage seemed to drop off the lean frame as he dropped into his normal slouch. "Hi Cowboy, Nate yer all back a might quick." Vin mumbled sheepishly.
"What have you gone and done to yourself?" Nate demanded leaning down to peer under the hat. Vin quickly ducked his head.
"Kin it wait juth' a little Nate?" Vin sighed.
"20 minutes in the saloon" Chris ordered starting his big black towards the livery.
Vin was left standing in the street with a rapidly clearing crowd. Glancing around Chris noted the sudden absence of regulators from the area.
Larabee bit down harder on his cheroot as each new sign of damage to the town was noted. There were signs of recent repairs. Most of the windows were boarded over and the remaining seemed to sport new glass. Several of the hitching rails had been replaced. A suspiciously unpainted section of new siding graced the corner of Josiah's church. Chris pulled up and stared as the faint breeze swirled a multitude of feathers across the street in front of him.
"Chris yah best look to yer right. Yuh not gonna believe it." Nathan whispered.
Larabee's eyes widened then he choked badly. He almost swallowed the butt of the cheroot. He had bitten all the way through it dropping the lit end onto his lap. Nathan stared at the bank trying desperately not to laugh out loud. . Knowing it would probably be his death sentence if Chris heard him cut loose. In a sudden flurry of motion Chris cleared the saddle when the still burning cheroot had uncomfortable repercussions. Chris' low curses came to a halt when Nathan was unable to control himself despite the danger.
"I'm gonna have ta arrest yah if yah keep holding yahself like that. It's not decent out here in public." Nathan's voice trembled. A wide grin met Larabee's furious glare.
"Chris are you all right?" Mary Travis' voice carried clearly across the street.
Nathan was shaking with suppressed laughter when Chris's hand jerked away from his 'injury and crimson crept up his face. Totally routed Larabee turned to stare at the bank. Most of one wall was missing. The vault sat undisturbed in the opening. Alvie and Lucas the two tellers waved cheerfully and went back to work.
"This is shore gonna be interesting" Nathan mused.
"Three and a half days that's all. Just three and a half days. I saw them all. None of them are dead." Chris smiled evilly. I'll just kill the whole bunch" he muttered as he turned into the livery leading his horse.
Chris and Nate took their customary seats in the saloon and waited. Ezra made the first appearance.
"What did you damage that I need to doctor?" Nathan asked gruffly.
"My solitary injury was a broken finger nail" Ezra responded cooly.
"So what--?" Chris began to demand.
"Mr. Larabee the explanations to the occurrences will be somewhat convoluted and beyond belief at times. It will be much simpler if everyone is present before beginning." Ezra dimpled flashing the gold tooth, his eyes danced with mirth.
Josiah was the next to enter. The huge man limped in and lowered himself stiffly into his seat. Looking over at Nathan he smiled faintly. "Five stitches, it's been cleansed, salved and bandaged." Josiah sighed presenting his bandaged forearm for viewing.
"Who fixed it?" Nathan demanded.
"Vin, he did a neat job of it too." Josiah chuckled.
"He did threaten to embroidery a flower though" Josiah chuckled.
"Embroidery? Vin" Chris chuckled.
"Have you ever seen Vin's Powwow shirt?" Nathan smiled.
"Beautiful work" Josiah agreed. Chris sat speechless at the revelation.
"Mr. Tanner is the creator of that exquisite work?" Ezra looked thoughtful.
Buck sauntered in with JD hiding in his shadow.
"Where are yah hurt?" Nathan demanded. Nate's gaze studied each of them for injury.
"Just some scratches. Vin cleaned 'em with carbolic." Buck muttered looking uneasy.
JD simply held out his hand revealing the blackened thumbnail. "The hammer slipped" JD explained. Both of the men took their seats refusing to meet Chris' eyes.
"Somebody sure has him a hitch in his git-along" Nathan grunted as he watched Vin's tender stride towards the table.
Tanner darted a trapped look towards them, when the saloon girls waylaid him. They were cooing and making over the clearly uncomfortable tracker.
"Ladies perhaps it would be best if our fine healer were to examine the poor boy" Ezra called out securing Vin's release. Once freed Tanner limped over and leaned against the wall by the others.
"How bad are you?" Nathan asked gently.
"Mitherable" Vin lisped.
Chris and Nathan both turned concerned frowns towards the tracker.
"You need me to look you over now?" Nathan asked clearly worried at the atypical Tanner response. Vin shook his head no.
"Sit down so we can eat." Chris pushed Vin's chair towards him.
"Junior ain't doing to much sitting" Buck snickered and ducked his head.
"What's with the women?" Chris indicated the hovering saloon girls. "Their acting like hungry cats and Vin's a bowl of cream." Larabee snorted.
Inez appeared before the others had a chance to answer. Carrying a tray of food the woman smiled nervously.
"Here Senor Vin this may help" Inez quickly slipped a small feather pillow from under her tray and on to Tanner's chair.
"Thank ya Miss 'Nez" Vin flushed brightly.
"Are you certain you should be out of bed? You were shot after all." Inez frowned worriedly.
"SHOT!" Chris bellowed sitting up straight.
"They did not tell you?" Inez scowled at the five men who ducked their heads and wouldn't meet her eyes.
Vin smiled weakly as he carefully lowered himself onto the pillow. Reaching over Chris pushed Tanner's hat back to reveal the tracker's face. Blue eyes squinted through slits. Both eyes were blackened and swollen shut. A bruise covered most of his temple and right cheek. A huge multi-hued goose egg grew from his forehead. There was a large knot on his right jaw and a smaller one on his left giving him a lopsided look. The shallow breathing indicated damaged ribs.
"Damn Tanner" Chris winced as the extent of the damage was revealed.
Vin snarled faintly as he laid the cold rag Inez left him against his jaw. "Ya done put a curth on me wit' all yer damn Vin'th. Cut it out." Tanner huffed.
Chris sat back with an amused look on his face.
There was a lot of shifting and fidgeting before Ezra broke unable to deal with the silence. "Honestly Gentlemen, We tried to stay out of mischief." Ezra drawled sheepishly.
"Really Chris, we did try." JD assured the man in black.
"We sure did." Buck agreed.
"We strove mightily Brother to avoid temptation" Josiah's eyes twinkled.
"Unfortunately we had no recourse when trouble sought us out." Ezra smirked.
"We did just fine for most of five hours." Buck said.
"All this happened in before noon on Monday?" Chris choked on his beer. Nathan stifled a sound at the shamed faces were turned towards them.
"Nah, that's just when it started." Buck muttered staring at the table top.
"That's when what started?" Chris' eyes narrowed.
"Well Chris it started this way. Mr. Larson and his Missus come to town." Buck moved his beer around on the table top.
"Don't you tell me those folks caused this. They must both be over eighty." Nathan snorted.
"They were loading up at Mrs. Potter's. I was helping them out" JD sighed.
"The Mulholand brothers were accusing each other of cheating at poker." Ezra reminisced with a faint smirk. "They were, all of them and quite ineptly." Ezra sighed.
"Ole Ez tossed 'em out for fighting told 'em to go home." Buck nodded."I kinda trailed 'em to make sure the skedaddled." Buck continued. "Well, Zebulon took a swing at one of the others. I thought it was Zachariah but it coulda been Zondergar. I never can tell those two apart." Buck mused.
"The fight Buck" Chris prodded.
"Oh there wasn't no fight. Which ever one it was fell down first and Zebulon clocked Lazarus a good one." JD explained.
"Which one's Lazarus?" Chris asked trying to remember the brothers' names.
"Lazarus is the Larson's mule" Buck looked up and quickly ducked his head.
"The mule took offense at the uncalled for attack upon his person and bit Mr. Zebulon Mulholand. He grasped his attacker by the shoulder. Then he lifted the gentleman and shook him rather severely." Ezra recounted.
"That's when Zachariah decided to shoot Lazarus." Buck snorted.
"Poor ole mule, he shot a hole clean through his ear." JD sympathized.
"What happened to Vin?" Nathan interrupted.
"We're getting to that" Buck huffed.
"In an amazing turn of speed. Lazarus charged down the thoroughfare escaping the other five bullets fired by Mr. Zachariah Mulholand." Ezra enthused.
"Unfortunately the store fronts and Sam Avery's saddle horse weren't so lucky" Josiah sighed.
"Lazarus was some what disturbed, understandably of course. The wagon was pulled erratically through town damaging several of the hitching rails. His flight ended when he misjudged the turn and the wagon struck the corner of our small sanctuary." Ezra continued.
"So that's what happened to the church" Chris growled. "Where does Vin come in?"
"Josiah was fixing the roof at the time." JD continued the story. "Knocked him clean off too. He fell all spread eagle and landed flat on his back. I thought it had killed him for sure." JD gulped his milk.
"It shoulda killed yah" Nathan looked grayish green.
"Divine intervention Brother. The Larson's had picked up supplies for several of their neighbors." Josiah smiled widely.
"When I ran up I could hear 'siah praying. I had to fight my way through all them damn feathers." Buck chuckled. "There he lay all stretched out on top of three hundred pounds of flour and what was left of the Shelby's new feather bed and pillows. There were a couple of straw ticks in there for the youngest of the Murphy girls too." Buck finished.
Chris simply sat staring at his drink.
"When we went to get Josiah out. The back axle broke and dumped him on to the boardwalk" JD started again while Buck drank beer.
"Mr. Sanchez did not acquire further injuries having once more landed on a softer surface. Mr. Tanner on the other hand was not so fortunate, since he was the softer surface in question." Ezra's eyes danced.
"So that's how Vin got hurt" Nathan sat back with a smile.
"Well one of the black eyes and the ribs" JD doodled in the condensation left by his glass.
"How long does this story take?" Nathan asked softly watching the clearly uncomfortable party.
"'Bout two bottleth and thupper." Vin lisped.
"Aw Junior don't talk it makes my jaw hurt just listening to you." Buck pushed his beer over to Tanner.
"It took most of the day to clean up the mess. The Mulholand boys are working off their debt by working for the Larson's and the Shelby's. Everybody seems happy enough with the deal" JD reported. "Monday was real quiet" he continued.
The others nodded in agreement. Chris stared at the regulators with his beer mug frozen in mid motion.
"Now Tuesday was kinda busy what with the baby and all." JD muttered in concentration.
"Baby?" Chris asked hesitantly.
"Beautiful little girl" Josiah smiled softly "She had a head full of black curls and these bright blue eyes."
"You didn't" Chris snarled looking at Buck.
"The note named Vin Tanner for the father." JD jumped to Buck's defense.
Chris spilt his beer as he swung around to stare at the miserable tracker. "Damn it Tanner" Chris huffed.
"Dontcha say it no more Larabee." Vin snarled.
"It came to light the little one wasn't any of ours" Josiah smiled and winked. Chris stared speechlessly as the story unfolded. "I found her in front of the alter Tuesday morning." Josiah began to explain.
"Vin knew all about feeding her and the other stuff" JD exclaimed in wonder.
"Ole Junior's gonna make a fine Momma one of these days." Buck teased. Vin flashed a hand gesture no one had any trouble interrupting. "Yep that's how baby's start sure enough" Buck chortled in return.
"We began an investigation immediately to ascertain the whereabouts of Vina's mother. It was of utmost concern the situation that prompted her to abandon her child in such a manner. Mr. Tanner was quite distressed when the ladies of our community ostracized him for his reckless behavior." Ezra took up the story with a grin.
"Tracked a hroth from thide the thhurth" Vin garbled out.
"Buck's right Cowboy you better not talk". Chris sighed.
"We quickly located a wagon. The husband was singing low and a highly irate wife was stalking him with a skillet bigger than she was." Josiah grinned.
"He was the one that left the baby." JD explained.
"We returned Vina and everything was calming down. It seems that the husband had met Liam Murphy and discovered that Vin Tanner was a resident of Four Corners." Ezra drawled followed by a suspicious snort.
"Well he took into Vin like a tiger for messing with his woman, after we introduced ourselves." JD's eyes widened in memory.
"Mrs. Saltsaver doggone near tossed Vina at Ez and waded in with that skillet. After the dust settled that itty bitty woman, she couldn't have weighed a hundred pounds was reading her man the riot act. How if he had come home nights instead of hanging out with the Murphys she wouldn't have taken up with Vin Tanner in the first place. How Vina was his baby and no one else's . Beside which that skinny boy wasn't Vin Tanner." JD giggled.
"Buck rode up at that point and asked who killed Vin?" Ezra's lips twitched.
"That's when we realized Vin was missing" Josiah shook his head sorrowfully.
"There our Mr. Tanner lay. Smote down in his prime. The victim of an unintentional blow from Mrs. Saltsaver's skillet. The poor woman was beside herself. Dreadfully upset at having stuck the poor child" Ezra smirked.
Josiah struggled to contain his laughter. "Brother Vin, lay stretched out in the dust with his eye crossed." Josiah recreated the scene.
"Can you cross one eye" JD interrupted.
"Hum, it was directed in a strange direction" Ezra pointed out.
"They'd have been crossed if the other'n hadn't been swole shut." Buck snorted.
"Fellas the story" Chris sighed.
"Oh yeah, Vin's got this goose egg on his forehead all swole up like and turnin' all kinds of colors." JD enthused.
"Everyone was standing there looking down at Vin" Josiah burst out in a guffaw unable to finish.
"At that moment all hell broke loose." Ezra manfully tried to suppress his laughter. "That's Vin Tanner" Mrs. Saltsaver announced pointing at Mr. Wilmington. Mr. Wilmington was now in the act of rapidly mounting to depart the premises in a speedy manner. Mr. Tanner had recovered enough to comprehend the fact that Mr. Wilmington had 'borrowed' his appellation. Fortunately I suppose Mr. Tanner's visual acuity was still affected. His shot missed Mr. Wilmington, when he fired upon him." Ezra gasped out wiping the tears of mirth from his eyes.
"Damn Vin." Chris spluttered.
Wordlessly Vin pointed in Chris' direction and shook his head no.
"MISSED HELL! He shot my hat!" Buck yelped.
"Mr. Wilmington fell from his horse and fled through the brush at considerable speed. Where upon Mr. Tanner mounted his equine and departed after Mr. Wilmington. Uttering the words 'sic'em Peso'. That black demon snuffled the ground and displayed the characteristics of a fine blue tick hound. The pair departed after the fleeing name rustler. Leaving me to wonder if Mr. Tanner's amazing tracking skills are not seriously assisted by the worthy beast." Ezra spoke.
"Two hours later Vin and Buck returned to town." Josiah began.
"Buck was walking out front" JD ducked his head. "Vin made him stand in front of Mrs. Potter's store and tell the whole town that Vina was not a Tanner. And how that Buck had rustled his name." JD choked and coughed.
"Then Vin reported that Vina was now with her mother." Josiah's eyes twinkled. "Mrs. Potter spotted that goose egg on the 'poor boy' and asked him how he got hurt. She lit into Brother Buck with her broom. When Vin said it was all Buck's fault." Josiah reminisced.
"She damn near killed me, Chris." Buck huffed.
"Buck and me done had wordth over him borrowin' mah name. Leave her be, Cowboy." Vin lisped painfully trying not to work his jaw.
"Things were calm the rest of Tuesday" Josiah frowned thoughtfully.
"Nope, don'tcha remember that bounty hunter laying for Vin Tuesday night." Buck grunted.
"That's right he hid in the alley next to Vin's wagon." JD reminded.
Chris scowled looking over at Tanner.
"He miththed, I didn't." Vin lisped then cautiously swallowed a bite of applesauce.
"Damn Cowboy" Chris sighed.
"Ith gonna hate killin' ya Qwith. Don' thay it no more." Vin warned sadly.
"I heard the shot and when I got there ole Vin was laying flat out in the street." Buck's voice held a tremble at the memory. "Scared me almost ugly seeing him like that." Buck whispered. "Junior, why were you laying in the street that way?" Buck asked.
"Fell down" Vin grunted.
"That's not quite the way Mrs. Travis tells it."Josiah grinned.
Vin attempted to glare but only succeeded in looking pitiful. Chris shook his head.
"Our brother was knocked on his scrawny ass by the Potter's puppy." Josiah smirked.
"Puppy, I've seen horses that weren't that big" Chris grimaced.
"Half Irish wolfhound" Ezra remarked. "They often reach 9 hands or more at the withers"
"3 feet!" Nathan blurted.
"Where in hell did they get that monster anyway?" Chris growled.
"The Murphys" everyone except Vin answered him.
"I should have known" Chris muttered.
"Well Sean, did probably save Vin's life." JD protested.
"Reckon your right there." Buck agreed. "Vin stood up he seemed kinda wobbly. Wandered over to the bounty hunter. Damned if he didn't walk flat into a post and knock himself flat on his ass again." Buck chuckled. "'Who put that dang thing there?' He asks me. The boy's eye is peering off to my left. You did after the last bank hold up I reminded him." "Kay he says and passes out. I checked on the bounty hunter. He took one right between his narrow eyes. Josiah carried Vin up to the clinic to check him over . Only hit the banister with him once." Buck stopped talking and smirked at the embarrassed Josiah.
"I doubt he noticed the new bruise." the preacher muttered. "I went over the boy with a fine tooth comb. There wasn't a sign of a bullet wound. Inez gave me some ice for his cheek and jaw. It looks better now that the colors are fading some." Josiah continued with the story. Chris' eyes narrowed as he studied the brilliant colors gracing the tracker's face.
"How did you shoot that fella Vin?" JD demanded seriously.
"Thhot the one in tha middle." Vin tried to swallow without moving his jaw.
"I woke him regular all night. I must have dozed off about dawn. Because when I woke up he was gone." Josiah sighed deeply.
"Patrol" Vin grunted.
"Don't say another word it hurts to watch you." Nathan ordered.
"Tiny's the one that got there first." JD admitted. "Vin was just in the wrong place. A man was trying to steal a horse." JD began.
"Damn" Chris growled.
"The ignoramus fired every round striking numerous store fronts and shattering windows. He nevah came close ta harming Mistah Tannah" Ezra smirked.
"Vin nailed him then dropped his gun." Buck reported.
"It was then in an unprovoked attack Mr. Tannah was assaulted, by a previous ally or so he assumed." Ezra grinned widely his dimples showing prominently.
"What?" Nathan frowned.
"Lady kicked him in the ass." JD translated with a grin. Lady was Buck's big grey mare.
"Damn Tanner" Chris' lips twitched.
Voices stilled when Vin's mare's leg was laid silently on the table. Chis blinked when icy blue slivers showed between swollen eyelids in a furious glare.
"She was mad the way he treated me the day before." Buck crowed proudly. "He leaned over and gave her a perfect target. Tiny and I drug him back into the livery and checked him out. He has a perfect print on each cheek you can count all eight nails in each shoe." Buck laughed and the rest of them winced in sympathy. "The boy turned near to purple when Miss Netty came charging in to see how bad hurt he was." Buck laughed.
"Thhee laughed Qwith" Vin lisped sadly. Chris shook his head.
"What happened to the horse thief?" Larabee scowled.
"Oh him" JD coughed.
"The bold thief managed to spook the mount upon which he had acquired. The animal then threw the miscreant into the hitching post in front of the grain exchange where upon he broke his neck." Ezra studied his glass a moment.
"I took Liam Murphy's horse back. They didn't even know it was missing. What with the milk cow deciding to deliver her calf in Mrs. Murphy's kitchen." JD shook his head in disbelief. "They said she did it last time too." JD looked bewildered.
"JD hadn't been back in town long enough to unsaddle yet when Alvie Smith, Lucas Snyder and Banker Morton came racing down the street. It seems five fellas were bound and determined to rob the bank." Buck snorted the rest of the men laughed or grinned.
"We all took up positions. When I looked up Brother Vin was sitting up on the roof with his mouth open just staring at the bank. I yelled over at him and he yelled back. It seems the damn fools had managed to lock three of their gang in the vault. Vin was rolling around on the roof giggling like a kid. All of a sudden he sat up and let out a yell that would curl your hair. The other two idiots decided to blow the safe to get 'em out." Josiah snorted. "We went to ground and when the dust settled. Most of the glass in town was missing along with a good portion of the bank. Vin had been knocked from the roof and landed in a water trough. Some how he blackened the other eye in the process." Josiah stopped his discourse and sipped his beer.
"I have never seen Mr. Tanner quite so volatile before." Ezra continued the story. "We took the erstwhile robbers of monetary depositories into custody. One of the gentlemen proved to be as conversant with weapons as with explosives. Some how he managed to fire his weapon while tendering it to Mr. Dunne. Where upon the undirected round creased Mr. Tanner's posterior before lodging in the wall. It was at that point Mr. Sanchez disarmed our sharpshooter." Ezra reported with a suspicious catch in his voice.
"Damn Vin" Nathan breathed.
"Brother reconsider with your recent run of ill fortune you shouldn't shoot our only healer." Josiah rested a huge hand on the tracker's weapon.
"I'm truly sorry brother, I was concerned about the extent of the injury." Josiah apologized.
"Ole 'siah stripped Vin's britches right then and there." Buck snorted.
"In the process forgetting about the missing part of the structure . Thereby exposing Mr. Tanner's ass–ets to the community at large as it were." Ezra explained struggling to maintain his poker face during his recital.
Chris made a peculiar sound and Nathan choked a moment.
"While the townsfolk was checking out Vin's scrawny butt. We gathered in them bank robbers." Buck continued the tale. "It seems like the two out of the safe were having trouble hearing. When ole Morton opened the vault them other three was purely miserable."
"How bad did the concussion get them?" Nathan frowned a moment.
"Stone deaf, sicker than dogs. We had to put them in a separate cell from the other two. Reckon they'll kill 'em if they can get to 'em" Buck grinned. "It's a might entertaining to listen to 'em fight when neither bunch can hear the other'n".
"How bad was Vin hurt?" Nathan asked cautiously watching the tracker for signs of violence.
"Just a graze Nathan it got both sides. It's been cleaned and dressed. Miss Netty and Inez made certain of it." Josiah roared with laughter.
"Brays like a Jackass" Vin signed huffily. When Nathan had translated the hand signs Chris grinned.
"Pard you should know all about asses." Chris snickered.
"Now Josiah you know Miss Netty told you when a fella has as little butt as Vin. He can't afford to loose none." Buck laughed.
"I must admit we were unsympathetic to Mr. Tanner's plight." Ezra squirmed slightly.
"When we came for our noon meal. Miss Inez was kinda mad at us." JD flinched at the memory.
"If it wasn't burnt it was raw." Buck grimaced.
"Vin's was just fine." Josiah grumble.
"Everyone except Vin received greens with their meal." Ezra recounted.
"I quote 'Miss 'Nez knows I ain't eatin' no green shit'." Buck glared at the unrepentant tracker.
"Dutifully we cleaned our plates of the unappetizing mess." Josiah grimaced rubbing his stomach.
"Then we proceeded to take up residence in the privy for the next five hours." Ezra reported in disgust.
"Ma called 'em privy weed." Vin lisped happily.
"It did not injure them Senor Chris." Inez stated defiantly thumping a new pitcher down on the table. "It just how you say gave them the 'trots'" the spunky woman glared. "Embarrassing poor Senor Vin so. He had a serious injury for shame." Inez glared at Buck. Vin's eyes widened as much as possible. He flushed brightly and gulped when the Mexican woman's fingers played with his loose curls. "Senor Buck do not make fun of Senor Vin's wounds again. Senor Vin has a very fine ass and it is a crime to damage it so" Inez's mouth snapped close and she blushed as brightly as the scarlet tracker.
"I'm sorry Senor Vin I did not know what else to do." Inez apologized sweetly. Leaning over she whispered. "When they asked I told them, yes." she wave at the barmaids. "How bueno you are si" she grinned wickedly. "Such soft skin yes".
Vin glanced around nervously catching speculative looks cast his way by the 'Ladies'. Chris chortled at the shy tracker's predicament.
"Looks like their aiming to find out for themselves don't it." Buck teased unmercifully. Vin signed sharply for a moment. "What did he say?" Buck demanded turning to Nathan.
"Says you've got your knickers in a twist. Just because Inez was rubbing her hand all over his 'fine' ass and not yours." Nathan chuckled as Vin nodded his thanks.
"Buck looks like a fish. The way his mouth keeps flopping open that way." JD said with a grin.
"A remarkable resemblance" Ezra agreed studying the flummoxed Wilmington.
"It was about 5 or 6 Wednesday evening when that greenhorn wanting to make a name for himself rode in looking for you." JD looked over at Chris. Larabee snorted remembering the pitiful man.
"Vin was in the saloon so I slipped in to warn him."JD continued.
"You could see the steam rising as Brother Vin came to a slow boil." Josiah sighed.
"I told him it might be a good idea to ride out for a while." Buck grunted.
"Folks hadn't even had a chance to clean up the glass from the last trouble." JD grumbled. "Vin just fidgeted in his chair and didn't say anything." JD scowled.
"It was just about then that the 'Gunslinger' stomped in" Buck looked over at Chris. "You saw him he couldn't have been much more than twenty. Greener than grass. He came west 2 months ago from Vermont. Had one of them Penny Dreadfuls in his pocket." Buck fumed.
"He was even skinner than Vin." JD seemed amazed by the fact.
"He was going to make a name for himself. Carrying that old Walker Colt. The damn thing weighed more than he did. He needed suspenders on his gunbelt to keep the thing up. Always hitching it up. Damn near shot him twice before I realized he wasn't drawing that museum piece." Buck chuckled softly.
"I tried to reason with the poor sinner" Josiah snorted in disgust. "He was bound and determined to call you out" the preacher sighed. "Since you were in hiding. He decided to take Vin in for the bounty on his head like Jock Steele told about."Josiah snickered.
"Mr. Tanner then declared he was 'a might tired a all this shit.' Mr. Sanchez then reminded him of the young man's obvious youth." Ezra smirked devilishly revealing his dimples. "It was at that point Vin Tanner began his campaign of terror.".
Laugher erupted around the table. Nathan and Chris exchanged looks and shrugged waiting for the others to enlighten them.
"When Sydney 'the gunslinger' turned around and spotted Vin pointing that Mare's leg at his spine he was some shook up. Then Vin holstered it and waved at him. Gave this big ole Buck kinda grin." JD laughed trying to recreate the incident.
Ezra then took up the tale. "Mr. Tanner then began a most insidious game of hide and seek. He allowed free rein to a most remarkable streak of deviousness. Mr. Tanner then led that pitiful creature on an epic journey. It was truly awe inspiring." Ezra gave Vin a two fingered salute.
"All of Wednesday evening and most of the night Vin led poop Sydney through every hen house, privy and stable in town." JD smirked.
"You arrived in time to see the Grand Finale" Josiah laughed.
"Every time old Sydney'd loose him Vin would show up and scare the shit outta him by swiping his hat. Musta give him back that old colt a dozen times. I figured he was dead fer sure when he chased Vin into the bath house." Buck chortled.
At the confused looks on Chris and Nathan's faces Buck grinned. "Did ya forget Wednesday night is when the ladies take over, Pard?" Buck's eyes danced.
"Damn" both men blurted looking over at the blushing Tanner.
"It sounded like a fox in the hen house." Josiah grimaced at the memory.
"How ole Vin scampered through without being seen I'll never figure." Buck admired.
"Sydney was about as graceful as a hog on ice. He was spotted right off by them ladies. Hell, we had to arrest the boy for his own safety" Buck snickered.
"Vin had jail duty from midnight until dawn and sat with him." JD giggled faintly. Chris snorted his lips twitched as he considered the paradox. "I released Sydney this morning about the time Vin finished rounds" JD growled. "Chris he promised me he wouldn't do anything stupid" JD complained. "The next thing I know he's chasing Vin again. This time Vin led him through Miss Sally's. Those ladies were really upset. Sydney was rousting the paying customers. Buck got rousted out when Vin led him through Miss Blossom's room. Buck ran Sydney out but he couldn't find Vin." JD took a deep breath and drank some milk.
Speculative looks were directed towards the silent tracker.
"It seems Mr. Tanner was taken captive by the north. Escaping from his captivity he was secured in the arms of the south. His honorable wounds were tended with care." Ezra nodded towards Vin with a smile. "He made his reappearance at the eleventh hour. Miss Savannah was rather disheveled, yet invited him to 'Come back anytime.' While New York Annie seemed to have custody of several familiar bandanas." Ezra smirked at the tracker's blush.
Buck stared "Huh, how'd a scrawny little fella like him manage"" Buck huffed.
"Mr. Wilmington the south will rise again." Ezra smirked.
"And again and again if the ladies are to be believed." Josiah laughed.
Buck's jaw dropped and the stared from one man to another.
"Sure surprised me first time I had to strip him down." Nathan admitted. "Never figured a skinny white boy was --." Nathan snapped his mouth closed as Vin cocked the Mare's leg. "Now Vin I didn't mean nothing wrong" Nathan calmed the fuming tracker. "Yah, just really need to wear the loose pants is all" Jackson snorted.
Buck blinked and stared hard at the tense plainsman. "A man has to know how to use the tools though" Buck smirked.
Ignoring Buck, Vin turned to Ezra. "What'h Treth Magnifique mean any how?"
"It's French and I have no doubt you understand it's meaning completely Mr. Tanner" Ezra drawled.
"Not Frenchy too" Buck moaned. "Why you scrawny little banty rooster" Buck scowled.
Chris chuckled then abruptly stopped when Vin signed rapidly. "Nate?" he demanded.
"Something about how your little fellas might do fine all squashed up like that but the twins need to breath" Nathan held his breath waiting for and explosion.
"Smart Ass" Chris grinned.
"Anyway Vin finally had enough when Sydney tried to shoot him. That's when you two rode in." JD ignored the others to finish the story.
"Let me get this right" Chris then recounted the highlights of the story while Nathan ticked off the injuries. "Noon Monday-Josiah, a wagon and a mule"
"Bruised ribs and a black-eye." Nathan held up a finger.
"Tuesday morning-a baby and a skillet." Larabee continued.
"That was the goose egg and the concussion." Nathan listed as a second finger joined the first.
"Tuesday night- a dog , post and bounty hunter." Chris looked at the rest of his men and received nods in agreement.
"Got the bruised jaw, cheek and passed out." Nathan held up a third finger.
"Wednesday morning-gunman and Lady" Chris grinned.
"That was when he got kicked in the ass." Nate held up a fourth finger.
"Late Wednesday morning-bank robbers, dynamite," Chris chuckled.
"Got him the other black-eye, fell offen the roof and was shot in the ass" Nathan held up all four fingers and a thumb grinning widely.
"Wednesday evening-no injuries" Chris looked around the table just to be sure.
"Nope didn't get hurt after he was shot in the ass" Buck nodded thoughtfully.
"Thursday the great rock fight," Chris said.
"Still no injuries" Nathan scowled looking at his fingers and glaring at Vin. "So how'd yah get the other side a yer jaw all swole up?" He demanded.
"Hell I never noticed the extra lump." Buck stared. Looks were exchanged as Vin ducked his head.
"Mith 'Nez" Vin slurred.
"What?" Voices demanded.
"Si" the Mexican woman wrung her hands looking miserable. "He would not hold still so Mrs. Wells could tend to the gunshot wound She was most distressed. Vin was upset. I was upset, Si." She looked at the regulators wide eyed. "So I hit him, just a little yes. Then he lays still. Senor Nathan I owe you a cooking pot. I broke the handle." Inez said shamefaced.
"When you hit him just a little," Chris choked.
"Damn Vin," Chris blurted before falling from his chair. Mouths fell open as the shot split the air.
"Don' yah be curthin' me no more," Vin growled glaring at his companions before limping from the saloon.
"Chris did he really shoot yah?" JD looked under the table.
Larabee lay curled up in a ball, laughing so hard he couldn't catch his breath. Shaking his head he simply collapsed back onto the floor.