'Settled' Missing Moments for "Kitty's Love Affair"

A "Gunsmoke" story

By MarMar 2007

Disclaimer: no profit (pity), not mine (more's the pity). I don't own it, but I should. They own it and don't know what to do with it.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was inspired by the last few minutes of the episode "Kitty's Love Affair". If you are not quite familiar with the episode, it would help greatly to watch it before reading this little piece.

"SETTLED"

It struck her, lying there in the dust, like lightning in a storm. Only this bolt marked the end of the raging twister that had swirled within her during the recent weeks. Dust settled and she saw clearly.

Matt was doing his job, doing something he may not want to be doing, but it was his job and he did not hesitate. He was protecting a man he had known could bring such trouble; a man who had brought him pain. More than once over the years, Matt had expressed his disgust with the job, but still it held him. As Chester had driven home years ago, he had to do it because he could. He could do what so few others were able to do.

There in the dirt of Front Street, she saw the sacrifices Matt made. It hurt that she was often part of those sacrifices, but she realized it did not mean he loved her any less. Perhaps it meant he loved her even more. In spite of how he felt about the job and its demands on him, he was with her; he wanted her. He willingly sacrificed his own personal code, his peace of mind, to be with her.

∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂

He bolted awake, his hand instinctively grasping at his neck, finding no noose. He noticed that his hand still did not tremble, rock steady as always. It was the memory, the vision, that had wakened him. He had accepted that he was going to die. He had long known that someday it would happen, with a rope, or more quickly, with a bullet, before age had a chance to take him. He had struggled and looked for any opportunity to delay the inevitable, but maintained the cool of a gunfighter's nerves.

Time had slowed, he had seen everything, remembered everything: the noise of the crowd, the feel of the coarse rope on his neck, the rough hands that held him. None of this haunted his mind, day or night. No, it was Kitty, that sight of her, rifle at her hip, facing down the lynch mob. His lynch mob. He remembered every detail; the shimmer of her gown, the earrings she wore, the command in her voice, the steel in her eye. She had shone with all the beauty, strength, and grace that she embodied. She had been stunning. It was this that haunted him. Not that a man had surprised her from behind and ended his rescue; not that she lay in the dirt of Front Street, not that the mob nearly succeeded, not that it was his rival, (rival? Ha, conquered even before he'd begun) who had ultimately saved him. It was the vision of her, incongruous with the rifle. He knew that she would have used it. For him, she would have shot a man she knew, perhaps a friend. For him. It was this that made him know that he could not stay. He truly doubted his chances with her anyway, but had they been even, or more sure, he knew he could not live here, could not live with her, could not allow her to be put in that position ever again.

∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂

Matt had felt every part of his being melt into relief. She had come to him, told him how it was. Asked if he still wanted her to stay. She had asked him that. She had doubted it. After Stambridge had explained to him all that had led up to the scene into which he had ridden last night, he still had difficulty thinking about it.

He understood her loss of patience with his job, its constant demands. It was a battle he had fought within himself more than once over the years. It had killed him, but he had held himself back, given her room to find her own answers. He knew he had no right to ask for anything from her. Knew he had already had more years than he had ever hoped for. He knew that someday she would have to leave, if the job didn't demand the ultimate price of him first. He knew she would have to find a way to provide for the needs he could not satisfy. He knew he would die when she did. He also knew that the badge was not finished with him yet and that, until it was, nothing would change.

He pictured Kitty facing the wild mob; imagined in his mind the scene Stambridge had painted for him. He saw clearly the strength in her spine, the spark in her eye, heard the tone of her voice demanding obedience. He also saw clearly all the sacrifices she had paid over all the years with him. His own paled in comparison. He still marveled that she had asked him if he still wanted her to stay. He was determined to do all he could to dispel any lingering doubt. Hearing the stage door close, he knew his incarceration was ended. The storm had passed. Matt stepped out onto the boardwalk. He looked up in time to see his sun turn and begin to walk to meet him.