The Shack

My version of what should have been aired instead of Matt's Love Story. Matt and Kitty deserved a better episode for them. I suggest something like this.

As told by Kitty

I always enjoy the time of year when winter turns into spring. Everything comes back to life so fresh and new.

Matt had gone to give evidence in a trial in Hays, and I had followed him about a week later by stage.
We had a few days together there in Hays City enjoying the town and a few stolen moments.

We planned to return to Dodge by stage. The trip was not exactly as I planned. Matt finished up riding shotgun, and I was stuck inside with a preacher and a gambler.

We had got about half way back to Dodge when the skies got very dark and the brush and other debris started lifting off the ground and turning in the wind.

Matt yelled for everyone to get out of the stage and take cover, that something bad was about to happen. Quickly he had jumped down from the box, helped me down and told everyone to go find a hollow in the ground and cover up in it. Then he and the driver had unhitched the horses to give them the best chance of survival.

I felt a weight descend onto my back. I had found a small hollow in the landscape, and was lying face down in it. Matt landed on top of me shielding my body with his own. The driver and other two passengers were hopefully doing the same because in less than a minute there was a noise louder than six trains going by, wind grabbed at our bodies trying to tear them out of the ground. Matt hung on to me for what seemed like hours but was probably minutes. Slowly it subsided and I felt him go limp on top of me.

When the air had become quiet and still once more, great torrents of rain began to fall.

"Matt we have to get up from here or we're going to drown." I got no answer.

Between pushing and wriggling I managed to work my way free to find that my cowboy had protected me from a large tree limb that was now lying across his body, he had a gash on his head from something hitting him there, although I could not see anything else left around. It took all the strength I had to move that limb.

I walked around looking for the other two passengers and the driver. It was difficult to see much through the rain. I did manage to find the stagecoach about 50 feet from where it was last time I saw it. Of the other two passengers and the driver I could see no sign.

The rain was letting up. There was still some occasional thunder and lightning but that was much less now. I returned to see how Matt was doing. He was sitting up, but nursing his head in his hands. I saw a lot of blood on his shirt and figured that somehow he had a wound from all the flying debris that was spinning in the air for those few minutes.

I knelt down beside him.

"Matt, are you all right?"

"Huh, yeh I guess so." His reply seemed distant. I noticed that somehow his badge was missing too – not that he needed it right now, but we would have to look for it later, Matt was very protective of that star.

Something was strange about him. By now he should have been up and figuring out what to do, but he just sat there staring vaguely around.

"Hey Matt, it's me, Kitty," I said looking into his eyes, "what's wrong?"

"Nothing, its just.. where are we? what is going on?"

"We got caught in one of those tornadoes, Matt. Don't you remember?"

He looked at me again questioningly.

"Can you stand up?" I asked him.
Helping him some I got him on his feet.

I could see two of the horses from the stage sheltering in some scrub bush that had been left standing.

He seemed to be better now, looking around he saw the horses too.

He managed to bring them back, there was not much tack left on them, but he had rigged something.

I'm not sure if he knew where we were going but he helped me up on one of the horses and got on the other himself. Not much I could do but follow him.

We rode for about half an hour and I saw an old shack in the distance.

"Matt let's go see if we can get help there." I told him. He was willing enough to go along with that.

When we arrived at the shack it was easy to see that no one lived there now. I opened the front door. It was not too bad inside, but no one had been here in months. There was a small barn behind the shack and a corral that needed some of its fencing repaired. Several chickens were running around, looking at me like I had come to feed them.

"Come on Matt, this will be fine for a while."

There was a woodpile out back, not much left there but I was able to get a fire going. Matt sat there looking at me.

"Kitty, Kitty," he kept repeating like he was trying to get used to the word.

I got him out of his wet clothes and hung them with my outer garments to dry by the fire.

There was not much to eat but I did find some dried beans and the old pump out back seemed to be working fine.

I cleaned up the gash on his head as best I could. There was another on his back from where the tree landed on him.

"Matt can you go take care of the horses? There's not much to eat but I can fix us some beans."

That night we slept in the old bed in the back room. It was not very clean but reasonably comfortable.

By morning he seemed more himself.

Looking around he saw things that needed doing or fixing. Having found a few tools in the old barn he had fixed the corral, and one of the windows on the shack, which was falling off.

Several days passed. Matt seemed oblivious to the fact that he was a US Marshal, and never even spoke of Dodge.

It was like this had always been his life. He had found a stream not too far from the shack and caught some fish. He also set traps for some of the small game on the prairie.

This was a new Matt. No worries or obligations. He became very affectionate towards me. Sometimes bringing me wild flowers home from the walks he took to check his traps.

We held hands, kissed over the dinner table and at night slept in each other's arms. I knew I had to tell him about our real life, but I also remembered that if some one lost their memory like this you were not supposed to bring it back suddenly.

A couple of weeks in this idyllic state went by. I knew I needed to ride back out to the stage. I had a change of clothes out there and so did Matt, we sure could do with them.

Breakfast consisted of meat and some eggs from the chickens and a pot of coffee from some old beans that were left there on the shelf. He left shortly after to go see if the fish were biting.

I took one of the horses and rode back out to the stage. I saw no sign of the other occupants anywhere. I was just gathering up a few of our belongings when I saw something shiny, half buried in trail dust. Yes it was that badge. Against my better judgment I picked it up and put it in a pocket.

I was just about to leave when I heard some one approaching. At first I tried to remain hidden, then I saw a familiar old mule and a welcome scraggy faced man riding it.

"Festus, am I glad to see you?"

"Waal Miss Kitty," he looks around, "where's Mathew?"

I tell him briefly what has happened.

"How far are we from Dodge?"

"About half a days ride."

"I think you'd better get Doc, I'm not sure how to handle this."

I get back to the shack to find Matt cooking up some fish he had caught.

"I missed you Kitty, where were you my love?" He reached for me and gently kissed my lips.

I told him I rode out to the stage to pick up a change of clothes. He didn't ask anything further. Sadly, I knew that in a couple of days this interlude in our lives would be over.

That evening we sat on the small porch on two rocking chairs he had repaired and watched the sun set and the stars appear.

He held my hand and then as the night air grew colder he drew me to him.

"Kitty, I don't remember how you cam in to my life, but I hope you stay forever."

The night that followed was one I will never forget. No hurry or ears half listening for gun shots, just soft gentle hands. I knew it would not last but enjoyed it for the gift that had been given to both of us.

By midday the chores were over. Matt was on the porch trying to fix an old saddle he had found in the barn.

I heard people approaching and looked out the window to see two figures, one on a mule and one in a wagon. Matt was watching them too.

I kept looking as Doc got down and walked towards the porch. I watched as he reached for Matt's wrist. Matt looked at him. I could tell memory was coming back. He held his head a minute.

"Doc?" he said

"Yes its Doc."

Matt looked around at the place that had been our refuge for almost two weeks. I know that like me, he hated to see it evaporate like a dream. He reached up and touched his shirt where the badge should be. I went and got it and handed it to him.

"I found it half buried out by the stage coach." I told him

"Now you just sit there for a few minutes Matt," Doc told him. "Give your head time to adjust."

I made the last of the coffee, and we sat around for an hour or so. Doc kept watching Matt.

Eventually he deemed it safe for us to travel home, insisting that both Matt and I ride in the wagon with him.

For a while we sat close, he had his arm around my waist. Both of us looked back at the little shack. Those two weeks of love and gentleness would always remain in both our hearts.

TBC