Relatively Speaking

By Helen Adams

Challenge: May '06 Challenge by Bern: Take your favorite cartoon character/s and make them human, then include them in a story with our fabulous guys - The Magnificent Seven.

(Moved to Blackraptor November 2009)

"You got some right interesting relations, Ezra, you know that?" Josiah said with a chuckle, flinging a friendly arm around the gambler's shoulders as the two men went to the bar to obtain more whiskey for the crowd gathered around their usual table.

Ezra shrugged the arm off, casting a sour glance behind him. Five of his fellow peacekeepers, and a good many other interested listeners, sat around the table, alternately laughing and exchanging disbelieving eye rolls over the stories of his visiting great-uncle. "Interesting. Yes, I suppose that is one word for him. Do you know I once had to spend three entire months with that man, listening to his preposterous stories night after night? Had I not been able to escape to school by day, I surely would have gone mad."

"He doesn't seem that bad to me," Josiah told him, watching with a smile as Chris Larabee manfully attempted a glare at the tall, white-haired southern gentleman who had just slapped him across the chest with a loud admonition to 'Pay attention, boy! only to find himself grinning instead as Buck and Vin both dissolved into laughter at the assault. "Everyone seems to be having a good time."

A disgusted 'hmmph' met this opinion. "I'm sure that they are. Seems like everyone in South Carolina used to drop by the house to hear his tall tales, which, I may reassure you, grow taller and more absurd with every retelling. In fact, I would appreciate it if you take anything he happens to say about me with a grain of salt. His tales of my youth bear little resemblance to actual living events. In fact, they tend to be even more absurdly unlikely than Mother's."

"Oh, come on now. Some of his stories must be true, at least a little bit," Josiah coaxed, trying to draw his friend out of the grumpy mood he had been in ever since his great-uncle had unexpectedly alighted from the stage-coach that morning with a huge suitcase and a booming declaration of his intention to roost in Four Corners awhile to spend some time with his "favorite" nephew.

Ezra thought for a moment. "I suppose the ones about his feud with the neighbors are factual enough. In fact, just about any story involving battle probably has a grain of truth in it."

"He can fight, huh?"

"He has a temper," Ezra agreed. "And a tougher old bird you never saw. I witnessed him getting into arguments with various opponents on a number of occasions, but cannot recall ever seeing him completely lose such an argument. You see, he has a way of provoking people whom he should have the sense to leave well enough alone, and exacerbating the situation by interjecting untimely sarcasm. Luckily for him, ninety-nine times out of a hundred he can talk his way out of a confrontation, confusing his enemy with rhetoric until the poor fellow is convinced that up is down, left is right, and that the entire situation is his own fault. Occasionally, though, the matter will go beyond verbal sparring and come to a head. Fortunately, in a physical fight my dear old uncle can more than hold his own."

Josiah laughed. "Sounds like you might've picked up a thing or two from the old man, 'cause you just described yourself perfectly."

For a moment, Ezra looked highly insulted, but then he gave a rueful smile. "Perhaps I did. I must admit that I rather admired the ability as a child. I didn't do so consciously, but looking back, I suppose that I must have tried my best to learn and emulate his technique. I'm just grateful that I never picked up on his peculiar verbal cadences while absorbing those lessons."

Puffing his chest out and rearing back with an exaggerated swagger, Josiah replied in his best imitation of a broad southern drawl, "Why, I don't, I say, I don't rightly know what you're talkin' about there, boy!"

In spite of himself, Ezra chuckled. "Add about triple the volume there and you'd have it."

"The old man's a little hard of hearing, I take it?" Josiah asked, having edged his chair back a ways in self-defense when their guest had first started telling his tales.

"Not so I've ever noticed," Ezra disagreed, nodding his thanks as the bartender finished attending other customers and filled their order for more whiskey. Gathering a bottle, he told Josiah, "He's kept hens for as long as I've known him and I swear the man can hear a chicken-hawk approaching his coop from a half-mile away. He's simply possessed of an abnormally powerful volume when speaking. Why do you think he bears such a peculiar nickname?"

Suddenly, the object of their discussion gave them a personal display of the answer, booming clearly across the length of the saloon, "Ezra! What's takin' you so long to get them drinks, boy? I could, I say, I could've walked all the way to Kentucky and got a drink faster! Get a move on there, son!"

With a knowing smile at his friend, Ezra raised the bottle in his hand and called back, "Comin' Uncle Foghorn."

The End