Witness: riffle or dovetail shuffle

By: Wolfa Moon

Disclaimer: I do not own the Magnificent Seven. I only own the idea. I got a lot of help from the wiki website and .net with their scrip trascripts.

1

"Who the hell needs that much stuff?" Hearing Vin's inquiry I raised my head to see the who that attracted his attention.

"No that my friend's is proof there is a god." Standing up, I saw her. Excitement went through me as I saw her. She had come. In reality I had to show surprise.

"Mother?" I began to head to head toward her. Listening to Josiah say as I passed.

"Mother? I always thought Ezra was raised by wolves." Ignoring them I head toward her. Trotting up next to her I see her eyes light up yet her face remain neutral.

"Son. Good to see you. Help me with my bags. Thank you." She twirled her umbrella and headed toward the hotel. Picking up the bags I knew to be lightest, retrieved them and headed after her. Leaving the false ones to the helping hands to carry. She starts the cryptic conversation out in the open. The most important things had to be waylaid.

"Well, this is a sweet little town, Ezra."

You've chosen a nice quite town to hide.

"Wonderful. Just what I want to hear."

Thank you. Next question post hast

"What on earth are you talking about?"

What do you want to hear first?

"Mother, what are you doing here? Did something happen in St. Louis?"

I called for supplies not you. Did something happen in Helena?

"Well, things got a bit complicated."

He is s till in control

"Oh really."

What happened?

"I thought it prudent to disappear for a while. Your letters spoke of this town so highly."

People began to question my motive there. And I heard you finally settled down and needed to make sure you were safe.

"I knew I should have left off my return address."

Thank you for coming. You didn't have to come. She dropped her handkerchief.

"Oh madam." Elliot an elder in the down picked it up and turned to her. "Might this belong to you?" She retrieved the discarded item.

"Thank you kind sir. I hadn't realized I had dropped it."

"Not at all." He walked off. I stepped up closer to her.

"A handkerchief? The oldest ruse in the book."

Planning a con already

"One can always rely on the classics." One of the helping hands bags opened. Bricks began to fall out. "Appearances are everything darling."

I'll do anything for you. She continued into the hotel. I turned to the helping hands.

"Rare masonry from ancient Rome. Very valuable."

"Mm-hmm." The man grunted and followed me inside the door of the hotel dropping them inside. Hefting the more important bags in my hands I follow my mother to her room. Entering her room she slams and locks the door shut behind me. Setting down the suitcases gently. She spins me around and flies into my arms.

"My darling."

"Mother are you alright?" She flips off my hat.

"My poor daughter. You can drop the charade now." I lower my head. Slipping back into my birth self.

"Do you have the supplies?"

"Of course." My hands go to my sideburns and pull the hair from my sides including the prosthesis of a strong jaw line. A wet clothe was exchanged into my hand for the used me. Wiping my face I feel the coolness on my skin, my skin. My mother smiles as she looks upon my now female face. Mine.

"Better?"

"Much." Her accent changed to our once northern homeland. She envelops me into a hug again. "My darling daughter." She steps back appraising me. "The cloths are quite becoming."

"And comfortable." My Montana accent coming out after so long in storage. She runs a hand through my hair. "It will grow back. In time."

"I know. It just. I miss having you able to be who you are. Not this con of a con artist. He is quite good and handsome."

"Why thank you." I let Ezra slip out.

"But a lawman? Eliza I thought I told you to stay low."

"Stay low. Don't you think I tried? When I invented Ezra you came waltzing in and disturbed my balance. You made him into a lime light character. I was fine with the odd con. But you got me arrested got me needing a pardon. I told you to stay away. So technically you are the reason I'm here."

"I'm sorry."

"No I am." I sit on one of the hotel chairs defeated. "Can you do me a favor?"

"Of course.

"I have an itch."

"The usual?"

"Yes."

"Done. I'll send a cryptic telegram." She kneels in front of me. Rubbing her hands over mine. "Eliza? I miss your playing. I miss your singing." I smile at that. Making Ezra sing was a hard enough feat and getting dressed by myself so they wouldn't find out was another. "How much longer do you think he'll hunt?"

"Until I'm dead." I look into her heart filled eyes. They tell me how much she loves me and wishes for my dreams to be true. For me to be true. "Thank you."

"So?" She stands up. "Am I a forgetful mother or a push aside mother who teaches you the true purpose of a con? Am I still the teacher."

"You will always be a teacher." Smiling I remember the school house. Her school house. "Make up stories. you know the drill."

"Yes I do." I got over to one of her trunks and open it. my new supplies for Ezra are there. I look at him in this box. To much of me is in a box now. I begin to cry. Maude, Ezra mom, kneels down beside me. but Eliza's mother, Martha, pulls me into her arms and let's her daughter cry her past away. taking a deep breath I control who I am. taking a breath I move away. she is Maude again. I will be Ezra again in a moment

2

Getting the supplies back to my room was an easy feet. Now hiding it was another. The inseam of my mattress was already filled with armament and a few odd bills. Ezra and Eliza hid in the closet. I had put up a makeshift wall in there to hide them. Opening them up I put the parcel with the rest of myself. Dresses hang on hangers. And a box with small shelves lay in wait of new supplies. I categorize them as to which part is what. I hang the new whale bone corset up on one of the hangers. The reason for this is. I have an ample size breast and the only way to keep others from noticing is to strap them down. And this device makes it easier. Although made for an Amazon. It works well for what I need it for. My mother is going to get the usual for me so I pack a bag of Eliza for my upcoming rendezvous. Dress, knickers, shoes, twenty dollars. I'm prepared now for that itch. Securing the door I get presentable. I'm Ezra Standish. Time to put on the show.

3

I hear laughing as I come down the stairs. She's started already. Good mother.

"He takes his little skirt and puts it on the poor dog and makes her dance the cancan." My fellow peacekeepers laughing at Ezra's expense. I smile as I come up. The story is an oldie but a goodie. They are playing cards. Go figure. "Full house-- and I said, "Ezra, honey you better be careful. Elsie's going to bite you," but he keeps dancing around and 'round until she goes... (barks)." I make way up the stairs behind my comrades. She continues the well used story. "And she nips him on the kisser. So he pulls off her skirt, and he says "Well, fine, then, you'll just have to dance naked."" Bad thing is its all true. I hide a smirk as I stand looking at them. She looks up at me. Vin noticed me when I made my first step onto the platform. But he had every intention of hearing the end of my childhood embarrassment. He looked up over at me.

"Ezra... we're just hearing about you and your dog." Everyone looks over at me. I smirk at them all. Whipping a hand over my lip, A signal for my mother for us to talk.

"The naked dancer." JD put in his two bits. I smile at the youngest of our band. If only they knew all the secrets. Would they be laughing or raising a gun?

"If you'll excuse us, gentlemen. My mother needs her rest." She had gone to the telegraph office before coming here. So I know we should have gotten a reply by now.

"My, my." Raking in her winnings, she stands up.

"She looks just fine to me." Oh Josiah, you may try and take me under my wing but mother has more class than to do this at this moment. Maybe next time. She deserves some happiness too.

"She done cleaned us out." Vin took a swig of his beer. I force my self not to stare longingly at the action. Please let him come.

"Well, how about that?" Come on mother.

"Well, I thank you gentlemen for the libations." She finishes her drink. Swinging her purse over her shoulder.

"Uh, you need some help carrying my money?" She laughs at him.

"I think I can handle it." He takes her hand.

"Good night, Maude." He kisses her hand. She blushes. She likes him.

"Good night." I gather her in my arms and we head toward the door. They would make a cute couple. But not yet. But hopefully soon. As we near the door. I still know Mister Tanner can still hear us.

"I've never had a dog named Elsie and I certainly never dressed her up." It is the same line used a hundred times to make argument between our two personas.

"Well, it's still an adorable story." We get out onto the boardwalk and head to the telegraph office. She laces her arms in mine. Outside a way from the show she can drop a little of the charade. She twines her fingers with mine. "I got a hold of him but he had to check his schedule. " Thank god. I shudder next to her. "You were always an unstable one."

"But I was loyal."

"Yes. He was a good man."

"Damn his brother." She slaps me lightly. Not for cursing. But for my slip into Eliza. "Thank you."

"Sorry."

"NO I made a mistake. I could have ruined everything."

"Maybe you can find a confidant here." I have a few in some other towns. Like my itch scratchier.

"Maybe."

"Mr. Sanchez seems to be a nice man?" I knew it. She was smitten.

"Yes he condoles over me." She smiles. A fact I made a permanent part was to sound like I swallowed a thesaurus book. My mother loves it for she taught me all those exotic words. And she also got to put them to good use too.

"That is good." Meaning I need someone to watch my back not just myself. Over the past years we have learned to make everything mean something else. We waltzed into the office.

"Good evening." Hiram Nechaus greeted us as we entered.

"Did I receive a reply?" My mother gets to the point. She wants us to adjure to her hotel to talk to her daughter more.

"Yes, yes." He turns around and picks up a paper. He hands it to her. She skims it and hands it to me. "Do you have a reply?" He asks getting ready to take it down. I tap her twice.

"Yes." She walks up to him. She grabs the pencil. "I don't want you get it wrong." Hiram looks at me for sympathy and the question she always like this. I just shrug. The taps represented days. So it read: 2 days STOP Baker Pass STOP The Usual STOP She turns to me. I gaze it over and nod. Sounded satisfying. 2 days I can wait. I hope. The usual meant 3pm, Secluded. Bring blankets. Meet as Eliza.

We watch as he sends it off. We know he will be sitting there waiting for us to confirm so we wait for him. Hiram jumped at how quick the reply came. He looked as if he was going to tell us to leave and would get us when he replied. But his jump in surprise confirmed the yes. We nodded and headed out.

2 days.

4

In the morning as I ate breakfast with my mother. Vin came charging in like a Paul Revere calling all the seven in a search and rescue. Young Billy had vacated his domicile sometime during the night. Mary had been frantic. I could sympathize. Thankfully I had finished and began to rise. My mother walked with me as I headed to the livery.

"Since when do you go riding after little runaway boys?"

Does this happen often?

"Well, the kid's mother wields considerable influence around here. It'll be good to have her owing me a favor."

No. Duty calls.

"That's my boy. Always working an angle." She touched my cheek.

Be safe.

Heading over to the group I notice Chaucer already for me to ride. Looking to JD I notice a wrapped finger. I pat Chaucer as I come up beside him. Good boy, you keep up your part of the con as well. Vin handed me the reigns. So it had been Vin to tame my beast. Mm, I look down quickly. Damn it Eliza. I nod my head low as I put my foot in the stirrup.

"Why don't you start at Baker Pass then head south from there." At Vin's suggestion I look at him. I though nobody went there. But it was close and secluded. My mother goes to stand behind Mary.

"Ma'am" Josiah greets her. She nods back to him then to me. I tip my hat.

"Mary? We'll find him." Chris told her. Yes he likes her but is it a ghost of what he once had. He really hadn't showed an interest till the boy arrived. Yup a ghost. And here we go.

5

I had been paired off with Josiah and J.D.

"Billy!" I hollered. It smarted to scream as a man. The two pulled up next to me on both sides. J.D. rode a little more in front and to the side to stay aware of Chaucer's head.

"I hope we find the boy all right. Mrs. Travis looked ready to lose her mind over him." Yes she is worried. J.D. gazed around wildly. Not scanning just viewing. This boy needed to learn to watch. Buck helped him watch the ladies but out here you needed to watch everything. Something is always hiding in the bushes.

"My mother lost her mind long before I was born." Ezra kicked in. Whenever my mother was around I had to remember who I was playing.

"It's a mother's curse to worry over her kids." I scan the horizon again. Not wishing to dwell on what was. I squeeze my legs against Chaucer motivating him to move a little quicker.

"What about Ezra's Ma, Josiah?" I have to look at Josiah to regard his answer about her.

"Charming woman." He liked her. Eliza smiles underneath Ezra.

"She sure is. You know, she told me my fortune the other day, Ezra-- didn't even charge me." He had moved himself in front now. Being the leader. I smirk at his statement. My mother if anything was proficient. And played her part well. And fortune telling was my trick but a good one to have. And when she signed up for this she learned.

"And what did she see from the great beyond?" Was it a true or a false fortune?

"To tell you the truth, it wasn't that good. She told me I was going to be meeting my first and last bullet within six months." False.

"Except..." Josiah added. There always was.

"Except she did this ancient ritual and it lifted the curse and now I'm going to be fine." I look to Josiah for confirmation of her miracle dance. He nods.

"And the cost of said ritual?"

"Usually it's ten dollars." Mother he's a boy.

"But for you...?" Josiah knows our poor J.D. was had by an incredible woman.

"Five." J.D. looked front again. Josiah and I shared a smile and hollered.

"Billy!"

6

I'm tired. I smell of sweat and horse. And I just want to sleep. But no, upon entering my room.

"I understand they found the boy." Mother sits on my bed. I take off my jacket.

"Yeah, scared out of his wits but we found him."

"Poor boy." She moved a little more to watch me. Her face full Maude mode. "You've ingratiated yourself quite well with this town."

You blend in well.

"I've made a few acquaintances, nothing more." Oh gods. She had paid somebody again to overhear us. I'm tired. I really don't want to play. But I am always playing.

"A position rife with opportunity Wouldn't you say? I found the perfect mark-- a Mr. Wheeler owns the hotel. In fact he and I are spending this very evening together."

"Really?" Oh, no.

"We'll use the same con we pulled in Chicago. You know, the cotton gin investment."

"No." Please not this argument.

"Excuse me?"

"I said no. Is that clear? The answer is no." If it wasn't here I would have said yes to get away. But I had a place for once. She was just confirming it. So we played our lines. With the alternate script.

"Now, now..." I sit beside her taking her hands. I'm safe here. The floor creaked. Mr. Tanner had a room next to mine. He only used it rarely. His back must be hurting. So I had to play it up more. So what he heard would not think sour of me. And hopefully not my mother.

"Listen, mother, I've got this town believing that they can trust me to protect it from people like you... hell, from people like me." She humphs.

"I thought that protection job was just a front." So did I, once.

"Well, of course it is." She looks into my eyes, seeing the blatant lie.

"Now, you haven't gone and joined the ranks of the employed, have you? Now, that would be undignified. Ezra... Ezra... What a waste of your god-given gifts. I raised you better than that." She is laying it on thick. I guess she noticed my interest in my long haired friend. Playing the sympathy card.

"R-raised me? Did you say raised me? Come on, now, mother. You didn't raise me as well as, uh... as a stray cat raises a litter. You-you dumped me. Remember? At every aunt and uncle's house you could find. Unless, of course, you needed me... for a con." I nodded to the wall opposite and mimicked long hair. She understood the tracker was next store listening as well. I tapped my lips. Code for good night. She stood up kissed me. Backing away as if slapped.

"I taught you a trade. I did the best I could. I'm sorry if it wasn't good enough." She exited my room with a slam. I flop on my bed. I hate this.

KNOCK! KNOCK!

"Go away!" I yell my voice muffled by the feather bed. The door opens. I engage my derringer.

"Easy Ez." I pop my head up. Vin is standing there. No jacket and his suspenders hanging off. Noticing his arms raised I lower my gun.

"Habit." I grumble.

"More like instinct" I sit up on my bed.

"Is there something wrong?" I pull back the rigging to reset it.

"I could ask you the same thing." He looks worried.

"I'm fine. How's you back?" He looks taken back then smiles. He knows as well as me that we notice everything.

"It's a mite sore." He closes the door. "How'd you know?"

"I had a friend with a similar problem." I pat the bed. He crosses over and sits down. I stand and watch his reaction. "First feather bed?" He nods. He runs his hand over the bed. I pick up the bottle on my dresser and pour him a drink. Handing it to him. "Have you talked to Mr. Jackson about it?"

"No." He drinks. "He doesn't need to be bothered."

"Ah." He's embarrassed about it.

"So your friend how did he deal?" Well normally I was on top for sex. Eliza! He is Ezra's friend. I shake my head.

"Long hot baths, and.." I step toward him. "Turn to the door." I kneel on the bed. He looks over at me with speculate eyes. "Don't worry Mister Tanner I have no intention of stealing your virtue." I place my hands on his shoulders. He tenses. I shake my head. I get up. Still gazing he watches me move my shaving mirror to in front of him. I aim it over his shoulder. I go around and kneel on the bed again. He is gazing at me. I place my hands on his shoulders. He tenses a little. I look into his eyes. Letting him read no harm there. He closes his eyes. I feel his shoulders slump. Feeling his spin I can feel the slight curvature. Ok. I rub my thumbs in small circles up and down his neck. The shoulders slump more. Good. I move down little by little. Digging hard into the hard knots in the muscles, loosening under my touch. I feel eyes on me. I got so into my work I forgot who I am. I look up.

"How does your back feel?" He rotates his shoulders and stretches his spine. I hear it crack in a few places. He is smiling. I smile back.

"Thank you."

"Anytime." He gets up. I slump back onto my heels. My head is lowered in thoughts. You can't have him. He's wanted. You're wanted. Maybe we could run away and be wanted together. Walking dreams. He taps me on the shoulder.

"Ezra?" I look up at him. He stares into my window eyes. I shut them quickly before he sees to much. Looking back the poker face is back. He nods. "Thank you." I nod back. He exits my room. I crumple onto my bed. Eliza you got it bad.

7

The plan was simple. Ride out of town with a big production of good byes. Simple. But they needed a coachman they trusted. And what better to get one then to make one. And I volunteered. After all I am an actress. I pull out some of Buck's hair. He yelps and I smile. Holding it up to my lips. They all smile.

The ride was simple and pulled off well within safety limits.

The flair of dramatic added when ripping off the offending hair. Vin smiled at the shock when they realized the had.

8

Trying to hear the interrogation going on but my muscles were beginning to scream in protest. Yes I had built them up a little for the part but I was still no man. Closing my eyes I let my thoughts become liquid. Then the twinge.

"Gentlemen, if I may, this sack of manure is getting heavy." I get the nod. Thank god. I let go stepping back so the rope doesn't recoil in my face. They laugh and I join in. J.D. pulls him back up to their eye level on horse.

"Whoo, that was lucky! You ready to start talking now?"

"Whatever you want to know. What he looked like... What he wore, drank... I swear. Just let me down. Please, let me down." Plan succeeded. Vin cuts him down. I go over to stage pulling off my gloves. My palms are raw. I grab some ointment from my bag and apply it to my hands.

"Ezra you ok?" Mary is staring at my hands.

"Yes. Just not use to such meaning full labor." She smiles as if seeing beyond the conman for the first time. She steps over and takes my hands.

"Not to bad. Just a bit of rope burn." I know I had it before. She smells them. "Chamomile?"

"Yes, to sooth." I take back my hands. "I think I know how to get our man to run out in the open." The smile reappears. I put my gloves on as I remount the stage. Buck is glaring at me. I shrug. Then he pulls a Larabee stare. Ah, she's Larabee's. I hold up my hands innocently. He grabs the bounty's horse and heads off toward town. I extend my hand to be a gentleman to Mary. She smiles and grabs a hold for herself and lifts herself up. I pick up the reigns. She snatches them form my hands. I smile back at her. God I hurt.

"Thank you." She cracks the reigns. And off we go.

9

Getting my mother to help out was easy. She hated innocent people hurt. Even though Maude is suppose to be a tough bird. So I watch through the batwing doors as mother sets up Mr. Wheeler. I wait for her cue. The others go around back as I nod. Mother makes a play for his hands. My signal.

"Bartender! A whiskey, if you please. Well, we saved him. He's safe and sound."

"Saved who?" I take the shot and signal for another.

"The Travis boy." She turns to me and my eyes roam to the back door. She understands the game is set.

"Well, bully for you, Ezra. Now you can return him to the mother who cares." I laugh. The man she paid to listen is sitting with some others and watching with great interest. I laugh.

"Oh, my, my, how foolish of me. I actually thought you might take some maternal pride in all this but I forgot, you are bereft of such instincts."

"Perhaps... I should be going." We both look at him as if we forgotten him. But sir this is all for you.

"No, no. Don't bother. I'm the one who's going." I swallow the last shot of courage.

"Where? To protect some little lost kitten?" She laughs the laugh of get me out of here.

"Touché. As a matter of fact, I'm going back to the jail to find out who hired those men. Then I'm going to hunt the bastard down..." I slam the glass back down. I hear our hearing man grunt at the statement. "...and rip his throat out."

"How pleasant." She turns from me a little.

"Well, then... I won't invite you to watch." I head to the door.

"Good idea. They shouldn't be doing that." Our hearing man putting in his two cents and getting everyone to go out the front so that only left option B for Mr. Wheeler.

I watch through the window as he makes his exit. When he does I go back beside my mother take her hands and lead her out the option B door. He looks at us as we exit.

"It was all an act in there, wasn't it?" I nod. Not paying attention as I watch Mary and her emotions storm over her features.

She gets the information and we head off on our already haltered horses.

10

The shoot out went well. Chris had a minor shot to his arm. And all is well.

The stage leaves tomorrow.

Going to my room I find mother sitting there when I return.

"Is everyone alright?"
"Mr. Larabee was shot in the arm but it is just a scratch." She grabs my hands. I wince a little. She doesn't notice she is just staring at my hands.

"I miss your playing." The piano. I use to play with orchestras and to local plays that traveled. Our house was the liveliness on Christmas. We had live music. And I loved to play. I almost forgot. "Play for me." She pleads with me. I look around.

"On what?" She grabs me and pulls me out of my room down the stares. Mister Larabee, Tanner, and Wilmington are sitting at the seven's normal table. Time to play.

"Mother I'm tired."

"No now." Wilmington sits up.

"Looks like Ezra is in trouble." I hear the comment as the batwing doors hit my tired body as we exit. She pulls me across the street to the liquidators. She bangs on the door. Mrs. Potter answers the door.

"I thought you weren't coming." She said backing up.

"I had to get my pianist before I decided." She hulled me inside. Across the street I noticed my fellow gunman watch me pulled inside. Mrs. Potter closed the door.

"You play Mr. Standish?"

"Passing." Mother pushes me onto a piano stool. I look at her. Lifting the lid I can just stare at the keys. I delicately run my hands over the keys. Stretching my hands I do some scales to see where the pitch is wrong and how well tuned the piano is. The piano is a nice English, Collard & Collard. I pressed down on the keys. Something easy to warm up. But I'm tired. Something to relax to start.

Quasi una fantasia.

My mother watchs as I begin to let it flow through me. I never notice when my three comrades come in and watch me play. The place is quiet. The music resonates ok for a store. I look around at all the things here. In the mirror I see my colleages watch in amazement as I play. Mrs. Potter goes to the door as some more people pile into her secnondary investment store. Mary comes over beside Chris. Josiah has entered and takes a place next to my mother. I close my eyes. Blocking them out. Blocking out this life. Near the end of Adagio Sostenuto, 1st movement, I let Eliza play with all that I am. I don't stop that long after that first piece. I hear applause as I jump right into Allegretto, second movement, preparing myself for Presto agitato, finale. My true self began to flow and I realished in it. Here it comes. People I can feel are watching my hands trying to keep up. And wonder at this display. This is the most I ever shown talent outside the saloon. My hands I can feel straining. The ointment did little job on them but I feel the burn take hold and blood begins to seep a little from the tiny cuts. It doesn't matter. I playing. I can play. I put all myself into playing. Screw everything else. Screw him. I am still me. And he can never touch that. Never in any life. I am Eliza Stands. Falsely accused of killing her husband and framed by his brother of jealousy over her. I am free in my mind and there is where I can be anything I was am and will be. The music flows like my blood. Boiled in outrage at him for taking what is not his and calming to rest in this falshood. I will get him back and he will pay. And by then hopefully I will have friends to stand behind me. Real friends. I close my eyes, here we go. Big finish. I lean forward head resting on the piano my hands dead on my lap. I know they are applauding behind me. I know I should rise and take a bow. Opening my eyes I see the small specks of blood. My blood.

One final piece just for me.

Années de pèlerinage, deuxième année, S 161 "Italie": no 1, Sposalizio

For Tomorrow will be good bye.

11

The Next Morning.

My hands stung as my gloved hands held my mothers. The stage had arrived.

"Listen, Mother... about some of the things that were said the other night, I..." I had to make sure she knew I didn't mean it. It was all part of the game. We passed Buck and he sat up quickly.

"Good-bye, Buck." He stood up and took her hand.

"Oh! Now, Ma'am, you have yourself a good trip." She smiled. Something was up.

"Thank you." She smells him. "What's that smell?"

"Smell?" She wipes her nose.

"Like animal, or something. (sniffs) P.U.! Well, it was nice meeting you." She grabs me again and we walk.

"What on earth was all that about?"

"Nothing. Now, what were you saying?"

Don't worry, nothing to mess with this life

"Well, I just wanted to say with all that's going on I just didn't want you to feel as though I feel..."

"Thank you, ma'am." J.D. handed her a dollar bill. She took it and pocketed it.

"Don't mention it. Yes?" She is good.

"Well, although harsh words were spoken I want you to know that, uh... in my heart..." Josiah stepped into our path. Damn.

"Uh, ma'am. I do believe I'll die if you leave."

"Penniless." Be nice I know you like him.

"So nice to meet you." We walked more before she faced me. "I'm sorry, darling." I looked to her chariot.

"Well, I... I just want you to... Take care of yourself."

"I always do, Son. Good-bye." She jumped up. No sentiment, yet there is a world of it in the action.

"Good-bye." I step away.

"Extraordinary woman." I smile at Josiah.

"Oh, yes, indeed." I turn to the saloon.

"Let me buy you a drink."

"I am never one to turn down a libation but the question why?"

"For last night." I nod. Ezra doesn't take comments well. He thinks they are always playing him. But Eliza knows he is genuine. And could use a drink with her friends.

TBC..

Nemesis: Stripping or Overhand