THE LUNCH MOB by C.V. Puerro

Bullets filled the air as the cowhands ran roughshod through the town. The smart people ran for cover; everyone else peered from windows, filled doorways, or stood on the boardwalk, watching to see how much worse things would become.

Chris was outside the saloon, watching. He knew why he wasn't ducking the hail of bullets, but why the old man next to him wasn't either remained a mystery, even after he began commenting on the scene before them. "Trail herd up from Mexico, all liquored up." The sheriff and his deputy were making dust out of town — "Ain't even their horses," the old man continued to remark.

A group of men were on the stairs across the way, struggling with a pie they were all trying to carry. At the bottom, they piled into a wagon and headed down the middle of town, toward the cemetery.

A blonde woman toting a rifle almost bigger than herself stepped into the street, bodily blocking the wagon's progress.

"Stop right there!" she ordered, and Chris was impressed by her boldness.

"Step aside, lady. This don't concern you," the cowpoke warned her. "He killed a good man and now he's gonna pay." The man gestured back toward the wagon, at the apple pie that had been placed there.

"Nathan didn't kill your boss; high cholesterol did!" the blonde retorted, still pointing the rifle at his heart.

But the cowhand obviously didn't know what high cholesterol was. "We're doin' you a favor! There ain't no apple pie doctors and there never will be."

Nathan knew he'd never said anything about being a doctor. An apple a day keeps the doctor away was the closest thing he could even think of. He wished he could help Mary for trying to help him, but there was nothing he could do.

The cowboy then kicked the rifle out of Mary's hands and the wagon moved on toward the cemetery, as the men continued to shoot up the sky.

Chris watched the scene, assessing the situation, and waiting. Across the wide, dusty street, in front of the dry goods store, was someone mirroring Chris's own actions. There was something about him ... though Chris couldn't tell just what. Maybe it was the way he just stood there, so still, so intent, or maybe it was simply the curled crimping of his golden crust. Whatever it was, Chris knew, deep in his filling, that this one could be trusted. Together they'd find some way to help Nathan.

As the hungry cowboys continued on down the street, the crowd of townsfolk — curious enough to gawk, but not brave enough to interfere, even though one day it might be them instead of a mere apple pie in danger — carried Chris along with them. He found himself side by side with the stranger, the one he'd seen outside the dry goods store. They suddenly found themselves at the head of the crowd, at the gate to the cemetery. Before them was the herd of cowhands, one held a knife and fork, preparing to finish off Nathan.

Chris stared them down. He'd watched them shoot holes in the clouds, but he hadn't seen a single man reload. The cowhands suddenly noticed the presence of the two pies. Their hands inched toward their guns, and then nervously hovered above the butts, waiting.

Suddenly, guns were pulled and shots were fired. The townsfolk dove for cover behind the stone fence surrounding the cemetery. But Chris and his new friend stood their ground.

It was over in moments. The cowhands lay dead. Chris noticed first that he was still in one piece, and then he noticed that Nathan was as well, but the man lying dead next to the apple pie had a knife in his back. One wounded man at the far end of the cemetery scrambled to his feet and began to run for his life.

Suddenly, Chris noticed a new pastry on the scene. This one was small, but eager; a tart wanting to play with the deep dish pies. But a single custardy glare from Chris put this young cherry in his place and the fleeing cowboy was allowed to just keep running.

It was then that Chris turned his attention to the stranger who'd stood next to him during the battle. Vin Tanner, he discovered was the pie's name, had been partnered with some buffalo wings at one time, though those were scarce outside of Texas. Chris could work with a berry pie, he knew, even a wild one like Vin. It looked to be the start of a beautiful friendship. Now, if only they could somehow get back to the saloon....


May 2002

Please do NOT repost this recipe anywhere outside of the Blackraptor website and cookbook.

Characters from "The Magnificent Seven," were used without permission and this recipe in no way signifies support of, or affiliation with, The Mirisch Group, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment, CBS Worldwide, Inc., or Betty Crocker.  This recipe belongs to the chef and will not be sold for any reason.