by Sue Hixon

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. "The Magnificent Seven" belong to MGM and Trilogy Entertainment.

Thanks: To my beta, Debra M for all her help.

Ezra gazed dismally out the window of the saloon. Would it ever stop raining? Even though it had only been raining for three days it seemed like weeks. The street had turned to a four inch deep river of mud. Ezra turned back around and glanced around the inside of the saloon. There was nobody in there except for Buck, JD, Vin, Nathan and Josiah. Chris had gone out to his cabin for a few days and probably wouldn't be back until the rain stopped. The others sat quietly in a corner having a beer and talking amongst themselves. He had asked earlier if they wanted to play a few rounds of poker but no one was interested. Ezra drummed his fingers on the table and wondered what to do, maybe he would head back to the hotel and take a nap. He would come back tonight maybe be then a few brave cowhands will have ventured into town. Ezra stood up the scraping of his chair seem very loud in the quiet saloon and the other peacemakers turned to see what the noise was.

"I shall see you gentlemen later," Ezra said placing his hat on his head and walking towards the door.

"See ya Ezra," JD answered wondering where the gambler was going.

Ezra walked close to the store fronts trying to stay out of the rain, not that it helped much the wind was blowing it in under the awnings. He reached the first alley and paused, it was quicker going down the alley and in the back door of the hotel but it was also quite muddy too. He decided to go down the alley, he would get a little wet and muddy but he would be home a little sooner. The mud oozed up over the toes of Ezra's boots and he instantly regretted the decision to go down the alley, he shrugged, it was too late now he may as well go all the way. Ezra walked as quickly as he dared in the slippery mud and was so intent on watching his step he didn't see the dog until it stepped out from between two old crates baring it's teeth and growling at him.

The dog was big and looked like one of the strays that roamed around town. He froze and looked at the dog. What was he going to do now? Ezra decided that the only thing to do was to run and hope the dog didn't catch him or worse bite him. Ezra slowly backed up a few steps and then turned and ran. It was hard running with the mud sucking at his boots and he could hear the dog chasing after him. The dog started to bark and it got closer and closer.

Just before he reached the safety of the boardwalk Ezra felt the dog's huge paws in the middle of his back and before he could do anything about it he was face down in the mud. The gambler thought that this was the end and expected to feel the dogs teeth sink into his neck at any moment. He held his breath only nothing happened. Then Ezra could feel was the dog's warm wet tongue as it licked his ears and the back of his neck while whining. Ezra rolled onto his back and tried to push the dog out of the way, it just stood on his chest and licked at Ezra's face.

"Get off me you disgusting creature," he shouted pushing at the dog. The dog cocked its head onto the side and looked at Ezra, it gave him one last lick across the face and bounded off back down the alley. Ezra sat up and looked at his clothes, they were ruined. He got to his feet, picked up his hat and tried to brush as much of the mud off his clothes as he could. He sighed and starting walking towards the bathhouse, instead of a nap in a warm bed he would be spending the next few hours in a tub of hot water trying to rid himself of dog drool. What a day it had turned out to be.


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