Disclaimer: Boys don't belong to me - shame. Thought I'd have a bit of fun. I was thinking of the scene from Buck Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Butch is riding a bicycle. I wondered how our boys would cope with the new mode of transport.
Ezra strolled along the boardwalk opposite the saloon. He stepped of the edge to cross the street and had to hastily retreat as he heard a yell and caught a blur of movement out the corner of his eye. He stumbled backwards and ended up sprawled in the dirt. He heard his name being called and when he looked up he saw JD astride a two-wheeled machine.
"Mr. Dunne. What in Heaven's name are you doing?" Ezra asked as he stood and brushed down his once immaculate clothes. He tutted as he saw the dirt on his pant leg. "Look at that. Clean on today. It's only 10 o'clock and they're already soiled."
"You will be, Mr. Dunne. You can launder them for me. You still haven't answered my question. What are you doing on that new fangled contraption?"
"I got it yesterday from a travelling salesman. It's called a bicycle and they say it will replace the horse," JD said.
Ezra snorted in disdain. "I hardly think so. Can you imagine a gang of outlaws making their getaway on bicycles? A more ridiculous sight I cannot imagine."
"Well I think it's great. You can get it going quite fast, especially downhill," JD said, unperturbed by Ezra's lack of enthusiasm.
"Go on then. Demonstrate your new found skills. I'm agog with anticipation."
JD pushed the bike a fair distance away to get maximum effect. He mounted and started pedalling for all he was worth. He was going a good speed when the front wheel went sideways, caught in a rut in the street. The bike came to a sudden stop and JD did a nice cartwheel through the air to land in a heap some distance in front of the machine. He sat up slowly and brushed the dirt from his hair.
Ezra ambled over to him smiling. "Glad to see you can do the same acrobatics on it as you can on a horse. Perhaps they will catch on after all." Ezra frowned when he received no reply. "Mr. Dunne? Are you quite alright?"
"My knee hurts," JD said as he put a hand to the injured joint and rubbed it vigorously. Ezra put out a hand and pulled him to his feet but JD couldn't put any weight on his leg.
"Oh well. It doesn't look as though Mr. Jackson will be put out of business by the advent of the bicycle. They're just as dangerous as horses it seems. Come along. I'll take you to see him," Ezra offered.
"What about the bicycle? I can't leave it in the middle of the street. That stage is due in soon."
"I'll see you safely to the boardwalk and go back for it. Never fear, my young friend, it won't be lost," Ezra assured him as he escorted the kid to the side of the street. The gambler then retrieved the bicycle and wheeled it along to the Clarion Office for safety. He noticed the front wheel was slightly bent and it squeaked as he pushed it along. He made a mental note to look at it later. Having offloaded the bicycle, he went back to collect JD and helped him along to the clinic.
They entered Nathan's room and Ezra said, "Mr. Jackson. A customer for you. He fell off a metal horse and hurt his knee."
"Ezra? What are you talking about?" Nathan asked.
"I'll let our Knight Errant explain," Ezra said laughing.
"JD? What happened?"
"I was trying to ride a bicycle and fell off."
"Rider error, I think. You can't blame a bicycle like you can a horse. It's an inanimate object. You should have been looking where you were going. He nearly ran me over earlier you know. He's a menace to society of that machine," Ezra said sourly.
"Are you sure he wasn't aiming at you deliberately?" Nathan asked.
"I'm dying laughing, Mr. Jackson."
Ezra turned and left the two men together. He wandered back to collect the bike from Mary and then went in search of Josiah. He wheeled the bike along to the chapel and found the preacher mending a broken window.
"Ah, Mr. Sanchez. Just the man I was looking for. Can you do anything to mend this bicycle? Mr. Dunne came to grief on it and seems to have bent the front wheel. I can't have him riding round and round in circles because of it."
"I'll just get my hammer. I may be able to straighten it out. Is JD okay?"
"Just his pride and knee hurt."
Josiah found his hammer and set about knocking the wheel back into shape. "There you are. That's the best I can do. Can't get rid of the squeak, I'm afraid. Are you gonna test it out for him?"
Ezra hesitated before replying, "Well I suppose so. If JD can attempt to ride it then so can I. It can't be that difficult."
Ezra got on and took a deep breath. He tried to put one foot on a pedal as he'd seen JD do earlier, but he found himself tipping sideways before he'd even moved. He hastily put his foot to the ground to stop himself falling over. He pursed his lips as he tried to decide how best to get moving. He was not going to be beaten by a chunk of metal. He pushed one foot against the ground to get moving and then put his feet on the pedals. He wobbled precariously before catching his balance and setting off in earnest.
"Oh this is easy once you get going," he said delightedly.
He decided to head back to the chapel and tried to turn round. He didn't slow down before attempting to change direction and disaster struck. The wheels skidded out from under him as he turned and he totally lost control. He ended up landing painfully on his side still astride the bike.
Josiah ran over to him to help get him untangled from the bicycle. "Ezra? Are you hurt?"
"Mr. Sanchez. I think I will be sticking to horses from now on. At least they stay upright of their own accord." Ezra put a hand to his back as he lay on the ground. "I think I've done myself a mischief in more ways than one. I shall never live this down. After laughing at JD earlier, I suppose this is God's punishment. You didn't have a word with the Almighty in your capacity as preacher did you?" Ezra asked Josiah suspiciously.
Josiah just smiled and held out a hand to help Ezra up. He got Ezra upright, well as upright as Ezra could get which was almost bent double. Josiah then leant the bike against the side of the chapel before taking Ezra along to the clinic. They went slowly as Ezra groaned at every step he took. They eventually made it to the bottom of the stairs leading to the clinic and Ezra came to a halt, daunted by the climb.
"I can't go any further."
"Come on, Ezra. It's not too much further. You can make it." Josiah started the gambler moving again after a bit of cajoling and they eventually made it to the clinic door. On entering the room, Ezra was glad to see that JD had gone and Nathan was in the clinic on his own. He could do without the kid seeing him in his present state.
Nathan turned and asked, "Ezra. What happened to you?"
"Oh, the ignominy of it. I'm disgusted to say I fell off that damned contraption of JD's. I was only doing him a favour by making sure Mr. Sanchez had mended it adequately. No wonder Maude is always telling me to look after number one. Just look at the strife you get from lending a helping hand."
"I assume you've hurt your back from your ungainly posture." Nathan ambled over and started looking at the injured area.
Ezra jumped at his touch. "God, Mr. Jackson your hands are cold. Can't you preheat them before touching people?"
"Don't be such a baby. Well, yer gonna be confined to bed for a while Ezra. You'd better stay here where I can keep an eye on you."
Josiah smiled and said, "I don't think that's his only problem."
"How did you guess?" Ezra asked, embarrassed.
"Well, the knock-kneed gait is a dead give away," Josiah informed him smiling.
"What are you talking about?" Nathan asked, his patience wearing thin.
"Well, let me put it like this. I don't think I will be able to sire any offspring for a while."
"You can say that again."
"Ouch," Nathan repeated smiling.
"Oh, ha ha. If that's all the succour you can give this injured soul, I shall seek solace elsewhere."
"No, you won't. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make light of your predicament," Nathan said, as he and Josiah helped Ezra over to the bed, undressed him and got him settled.
"You won't tell anyone about this will you? You'll only say I hurt my back. I don't think I could bear the jokes if the others heard about my other indisposition."
"Of course I won't say anything outside these four walls and neither will Josiah," Nathan said as he poked the preacher in the ribs to get his agreement.
Chris came in at that moment and saw Ezra tucked up in bed. "Ez. What's wrong? Are you ill?"
"He's just hurt his back," Nathan said, while winking at the gunman as well. "He also nearly gelded himself."
"Mr. Jackson. You promised!" Ezra protested indignantly.
"I promised I wouldn't say anything outside these four walls. Chris is inside."
"Pedantics. Just you wait until I can raise my leg high enough to kick your butt."
"How long are you gonna be outta commission?" Chris asked, after regaining his composure.
"I've no idea."
"These things can cure themselves quickly or take days. We'll just have to wait and see. JD's hurt his leg too by the way," Nathan said. "Both of them were trying to ride a bicycle."
"Mr. Dunne tried to show me the delights of cycling. I can't say I'm too impressed. The results were less than satisfactory for both of us," Ezra explained.
"How badly is JD hurt?" Chris asked.
"He's twisted his knee. He should be alright if he keeps his weight of it for a few days."
"So we're down to five men," Chris moaned.
"Make that four," said Vin as he walked into the room, having heard Chris's last sentence.
"What happened to you?" Nathan asked, as he saw the bloody nose and cut elbows.
"Some fool left a bicycle on the ground near the chapel. I walked round the corner and fell over it."
"It was standing against the wall when I left it," Josiah said meekly.
"For an inanimate object it's certainly causing a lot of trouble," Ezra chipped in from the bed.
"Ez? What's the matter with you?" Vin asked. He hadn't seen the gambler behind the three other men in the room.
"I had a disagreement with the same machine as you. JD has also been incapacitated by it."
"We'd better put it out of harms way before it causes any more injuries," Chris said. "Come on Josiah, let's leave Nathan to his patients." The two men left the clinic and headed back to the chapel.
Nathan, meanwhile, studied Vin's nose and elbows. He cleaned and bandaged the cuts. "Your nose is broken. It'll have to mend by itself. You've got a cut on your head too by the look of it. Let's get that bandaged as well."
Vin ended up with a bandage on his head covering the stitches that Nathan had put in the wound. "Sit here next to Ezra where I can keep an eye on you for a while," the healer instructed.
Meanwhile Chris and Josiah had collected the bike from the chapel.
"What shall we do with it?" Chris asked, as he studied the cause of all their problems.
"We'd better ask JD. It is his after all." The two men walked along to JD's room, taking the bike with them.
"Hey JD. We need to put your bicycle somewhere safe. It's caused two other injuries so far today. I want it out of harms way," Chris said.
"Well, I can't have it in here. There's not enough room. Do you think Yosemite would have it in the livery?" JD asked.
"Yes I expect so. He'll probably want payment for storing it though."
"I'll pay whatever he wants. I'm not getting rid of it. Who else is hurt?"
"Ezra and Vin."
"Ezra was trying to ride it and fell off and Vin fell over it when Josiah left it at the chapel while he took Ezra to the clinic."
"Are they hurt bad?"
"Don't know about Vin. He had a bloody nose and cuts on his arms when we saw him. Ezra's hurt is back and is in the clinic for safekeeping."
"I'd better go and apologise. Can you take me?"
"I'll take you. Chris can you deal with the bicycle?" Josiah asked.
Josiah helped JD over to the clinic. They entered and Nathan frowned angrily. "I thought I told you to keep off that leg."
"I heard about Ezra and Vin and I came to apologise. Josiah helped me over anyway so I didn't do any more damage."
"Come and sit on the bed JD," Ezra advised. "Better do as the doctor says. He's getting a bit obstreperous."
Just as JD hobbled over and sat down the door opened to reveal a very sheepish looking Chris. He walked in and they saw he was dripping wet. He was followed in by another bedraggled person who turned out to be Buck. "My God. What is wrong with you lot today? Don't tell me that damned bicycle caused this as well?" Nathan asked. Chris looked down at the floor and didn't answer. "JD, that machine has got to go," the healer ordered.
"It's not in a fit state for riding now anyway," Chris said apologetically. "Sorry JD, I've ruined it."
"I thought I'd teach you young fools a lesson by being the first one of us to be able to ride it properly. Everything was going well until Mary called out to me. I turned my head to speak to her while continuing to ride along, but I discovered you can't ride one way while looking the other. I found myself heading towards the water trough. Buck was in my way and I tried to avoid him but I couldn't stop. I ran into him and we both ended up in the trough. The bicycle is beyond repair, I'm afraid."
Ezra laughed out loud. "Oh, I'd like to have seen that Mr. Larabee. That'll teach you for laughing at me earlier. It must have been a sight to behold. Our fearless gunfighter cycling along the street, poncho flowing behind him in the breeze."
"Do you want me to tell everyone why I was laughing at you earlier?" Chris asked threateningly.
Ezra shut his mouth quickly. "Er....no maybe not."
"Are either of you hurt?" Nathan asked in exasperation.
"Just bruised and wet," Buck replied disgustedly.
"Let me check you over to be sure. Josiah can you get them some dry clothes?"
Both casualties ended up with bandages on various cuts they hadn't realized they'd acquired. Nathan washed his hands after seeing to his patients. "Right everyone but Ezra can go. I don't want to see you again until tomorrow when I expect you all back here for a checkup."
The four released men rose from their various chairs and made their way solemnly to the door. They walked along to the saloon trying to ignore the sniggers from the citizens of Four Corners who had heard about the Seven's escapades. One furious look from Chris had the desired effect and their hecklers quickly dispersed. The men took seats outside the saloon on the boardwalk. JD put his injured leg on another chair to rest it. Vin sat with his head in his hands and Chris and Buck fidgeted non stop as their bodies protested at the hard chairs they were sitting on. Josiah joined them after helping Nathan clear up the clinic after his influx of patients.
"How's Ezra?" Chris asked.
"Threatening all sorts of dire retribution for JD. I suppose you could all do with a drink after today's events?"
"Thought you'd never offer Josiah," Buck said smiling.
After drinking and comparing injuries the men split up to head back to their own rooms to sleep and recover. They met up the next morning at the saloon again after they had visited the clinic as instructed. Ezra was allowed out as his back had improved enough for him to move although he still walked carefully and required Buck's help to negotiate the stairs. Sitting outside on the boardwalk as they ate their breakfast, Buck suddenly gasped and poked Chris in the ribs. Chris looked up and was just about to say something rude when he saw what Buck had seen and the words never left his mouth. Coming along the street were Josiah and Nathan on bicycles. They looked across at the five men who were sitting staring at them with mouths open in awe. The two cyclists turned together in perfect synchronization and came to a halt in front of their friends.
"Well I'll be damned," Buck finally managed to say. "Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks. That was pretty impressive. How long have you been able to ride like that?"
"Oh we've been practising for the past week in the early morning before anyone else is up. After yesterday's events we thought we'd show you our skills and prove that bicycles are safe in the right hands."
"I bet you were laughing up yer sleeves when we kept trooping into the clinic," Chris said sourly.
"Well I think I will be sticking to my trusty steed in the future thank-you all the same gentlemen. I've had enough of new methods of transport to last me a lifetime," Ezra said.
"Well I'm gonna have another go," JD stated firmly. "There's not much difference between a horse and a bicycle. They've both got saddles."
"There the similarities end my friend. At least you don't have to pedal to keep a horse moving," Ezra said.
Buck burst out laughing at the image Ezra's comment conjured up. "You crack me up Ez. I'm not gonna be able to look at you on a horse again without expecting you to start pedalling with yer stirrups."
At that moment the bicycle salesman came along and stopped in front of the group of men. "Ah gentlemen. Can I interest you in a bicycle like these two fine men? I see you have suffered injuries recently. I bet they were caused by falling off your horses. They're recalcitrant beasts at the beast of times. Bicycles are the future my friends. They don't require feeding or shoeing and they do what you want them to. Much safer all round I think you'll agree."
Josiah and Nathan were hiding their smiles as the salesman made his pitch. Chris's face clouded and his hand moved to his holster and began fingering his gun. The other men looked similarly unhappy.
"Can I interest you in a test run on this fine machine?" the salesman persisted unaware of the animosity he was fuelling.
"No," all five men answered in unison. The salesman suddenly found himself looking down the barrels of five guns. He made a hasty retreat not understanding where he had gone wrong. Josiah and Nathan collapsed laughing but they were soon fleeing too as the five guns turned in their direction. As the two men cycled away, their friends put the ends of the gun barrels up to their mouths and blew away imaginary smoke before twirling the guns back into their holsters as one.
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