"You", said Abigail, "are one damn smelly man".

John Marston looked up from his bowl of soup that he was devouring at their kitchen table.

"Why, thank you kind lady", he replied sarcastically and continued to slurp away at his broth.

"But really", said Abigail, turning from the wood stove that she was presiding over, "you actually stink like a dead skunk. Didn't you bathe at all in the time you were away?".

"Well", he said matter-of-factly, "I didn't exactly have a whole lot ah' time to spare, between chasin' after old friends and desperately tryin' to win back my beloved family, whom I do love so dearly". He paused from his soup and grinned coyly at his wife. "Whom, obviously, are so very happy that I fought so hard to win em' back".

Abigail tittered in exasperation at the tone of her husband's voice. She stalked towards the little wooden table and plucked the steaming bowl right from beneath his diving spoon. He growled as she strode over to the door and poured it onto the porch.

"Smelly men don't get soup", she said childishly and pranced over to the table and placed the bowl directly in front of him once more. John glared at her.

"If that were so in the real world, there'd be a lot ah' starvin' men out there", he grumbled rising from his chair. He paced over to the work surface that she was using to make dough, and leaned casually on it. "Come on, now, I can't smell that bad" he said mildly, popping a cigarette into his mouth and lighting it.

"Don't smoke 'round my dough", she berated him, "we're gonna eat this stuff, and if I find ashes in my bread it's you who's gonna be ashes". He shrugged and pulled it from his lips, chucking it leisurely into the nearby stove. "Whatever", he said, "but I'm not gonna take a damn bath just 'cause you told me to. This is the scent of a man, Abigail. I woulda thought you'd ah'gotten used to it by now". He grinned devilishly at her and straightened up to walk towards the door.

She coldly ignored him and ploughed on. "Did you that there are many other things that smelly men don't get?" she asked savagely. "Like good jobs and good houses and"-she stared at him pointedly-"sharin' beds with their beautiful, devoted wives".

He flung his arms akimbo, and grinned bemusedly. "Hey, I don't need you to share your bed", he said, "I fell in love with my right hand first anyways".

Her smile was cat-like. "Yeah right. 'Don't need you', my ass. You've been havin' me since you were barely old enough to get it up. You always need me, and you know it."

He shrugged, taking a complacent manner. "That may be, but I think I'll do fine for now".

"You're impossible, Mister Marston. Take me to the river to wash the clothes tomorrow, will ya? I'd like you there, even if you are real smelly".

"O' course, Miss. It'd be my pleasure".

The drive from their homestead to the river was a long, but pleasant one. It was a somewhat chill day for September, and the sun had barely the energy to peek through the thick trees at the horse and wagon that was unhitched beside the rushing river banks. John saw that the horses were tied properly and then lazed comfortably in a sunny patch while his wife busied herself with lugging the baskets of clothing from the cart to the riverside.

"You could help me, y'know", she spluttered as she struggled to heave the giant baskets.

"I could, but then that'd be me doin' a woman's job", he said, the devil winking in his dark eyes, "and then I'd sweat and my sweat'd smell like a woman. Then I wouldn't get to smell as manly as I do right now".

She pursed her lips tightly and gave him a hard look, getting out her soap and washboard and starting the labour-intensive work of cleansing their clothing of dirt and grime. As she worked away, John rose gently from his sunny spot and sauntered over to where she drudged. He kneeled beside her and lit another cigarette.

"Y'know", he said, the tobacco muffling his voice, "you don't smell all that pretty either. Especially after you done a lot ah' work." He picked at her plaid skirt. "Kinda like onions".

Her head spun around, her mouth open in offense. "Excuse me?" she yelled at him, leaping up.

He couldn't help but giggle at her explosive reaction. "Well, I was just sayin' that you can be"-

-"Smelly, John Marston? Smelly? Right, I've had enough ah' you!".

In a flurry of deceiving strength, Abigail shoved him into the river. John went tumbling head over heels like a tumbleweed in the plains, before landing with a colossal splash. Abigail laughed raucously to herself at the image of John Marston, feared ex-gang member and killer bounty hunter looking to all the world like a drowned rat. He had only fallen into the shallowest parts of the river and he sat sorely on his bottom with his dark hair plastered to his face, gasping for breath in surprise. He quickly realized that his hat was slowly floating down river and scrambled to retrieve it, holding it in his sodden grasp. Abigail tossed him a bar of soap, which he struggled to clasp before catching it in his water-logged hat.

"There", she said victoriously, "now that you're wet, you may as well bathe".

"No buts, John. Strip."
He waded out further into the rushing river and peeled his soaked clothing from his skin, cursing his wife as he did it. His clothes bundled in his hands, he turned to the shore and chucked them violently at her. Stubbornly he kept his battered hat firmly on his head. She giggled at him and added his clothes to the basket. He took the bar of soap and continued to mutter under his breath as he roughly scrubbed his armpits.

He didn't take notice when two young girls with their baskets of clothing came lumbering down the hillside towards the river. When they got to the banks, they set their baskets down and noticed him in the river, turning with laughter to each other. Abigail smiled widely at them and said "It's wash day, so I thought I'd get all the washing done" and jerked her thumb towards her bathing husband. The girls burst into uncontrolled giggles, bent over in mirth.

Out in the middle of the river, John watched this all with ill-concealed contempt. "You knew that this was some kinda traditional washin' day, didn't you?" he asked, crossing his arms.

"I may have" she replied lightly and continued scrubbing.

"You", he said, jabbing his finger at her, "are a cruel, cruel woman. I can't exactly get outta the river with those poor girls there, now can I?"

"Sure you could. Then I could make an example of ya to them of what kinda... Man... They shouldn't marry".

"Are you makin' cracks about my"-

"John. There are virgin ears over here".

By then, the two young girls were doubled over in extreme laughter, their cheeks russet with the raunchiness.

"Fine", he said flippantly, "I'll just have to float down the river and never see you again." He leaned back and floated easily along, letting the water take him. "Goodbye, Abigail. I hope ya find a... Man... That can satisfy ya as best as I can".

"Good", she concluded, waving him away, "and when I find your dead body on the riverside in a month's time, naked and bloated, I'll be sure to put you in the coffin that way as a reminder to stupid, smelly men".

For the rest of the afternoon, Abigail worked hard at washing the clothing. John spent the hours letting himself float downstream, swimming back up when he got too far, and then letting himself float again. When she was finished, she stood up and wiped the sweat from her forehead. She dried her hands on her apron and stretched, turning away from the river to gaze a while at the pinkish tinge of the sky in the west. She started to think about her dear son, and her dearly returned husband when she felt a cold, wet hand clamp around her ankle.

Not expecting the clammy touch, she screeched and jumped up. The hand pulled her like a ragdoll from the shore and into the chill waters of the river. The hand pulled her all the way into the deepest part and dunked her underwater. She struggled upwards and gasped for air as she broke the surface. Across from her was John, yelping in loud, triumphant laughter as he gazed at her soaked face.

"You", he said, "are one damn smelly woman".