by Karen Shannon
Disclaimer: This story is a piece of fanfiction/evaluation containing characters which are the property of MGM, Trilogy, and CBS. I do not make any claims to these characters.
As I walked into the saloon, I saw them, two men so different, yet so much alike. They were two members of the peacekeeping team that was hired to protect this town. Both were gunfighters with questionable pasts. Each had a special place in his heart for children. They were two men who were so different but who were looking for same thing, and over time, found it in each other.
The first one, Chris, was a tall man, about 6 feet, with blonde hair and green eyes that were so light in color that they almost appeared transparent. He was about 40 years old, with a leather-tough tanned complexion from years of hard work out in the sun. It was obvious that it had been several days since he had last picked up his razor as he had a scruffy beard. Chris always wore black: black duster, black shirt, black hat, tight black jeans and even a black gunbelt; the other man, Ezra, was a shorter man, about 5'7" with chestnut brown hair, a gold tooth, and a devilish smile that said, "Trust me if you dare." His eyes were also green, but not transparent like Chris'; Ezra's eyes were the shade of emeralds and sparkled when he smiled. Ezra was younger than Chris by about 10 years and unlike Chris, his complexion was smoother and more ivory-looking because his line of work allowed him to stay indoors most of the time. He was always particular about his appearance. He shaved every morning, put on black slacks, a white shirt with ruffles, a vest, and one of his famous tailcoats. This morning, he was wearing his red one.
Both men preferred to keep their pasts in the past and neither liked to talk about them. But I had heard the rumors and I wondered how true they were. I was told that Chris had a fairly normal childhood. He was born in Indiana, to parents who taught him and his siblings (a brother and two sisters) the value of hard work. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union Army and worked his way up to Captain. After the war, he married a woman named Sarah and became a successful horse breeder. They had a child, a boy, and they named him Adam. But about three years ago, both Sarah and Adam were killed in a fire meant to kill Chris, but he wasn't home. And what makes Chris so angry is that he doesn't even know who was trying to kill him. Now he sits alone in the saloon, nursing a whisky bottle, blaming himself for the death of his wife and son. Strangers were afraid of Chris; they took one look at the quiet man sitting in the in corner, with one hand resting on his gun and backed away. He didn't see this little gesture as a threat; he considered it being cautious. Being the leader of the peacekeepers he was always on the lookout for the bad elements of society (outlaws, drunks, and just plain mean people). "You never know who's gonna walk through those batwing doors and I want to be ready for trouble," he would say.
Ezra's past was much different from Chris'. He was born in South Carolina; his father had died very early in life and was gone before Ezra was born. So Maude, Ezra's mother, not wanting to be "saddled" with a child, dropped poor Ezra off at the homes of relatives for weeks, months, and sometimes years at time, only coming back to get Ezra if she needed him for a con job. He grew up to be a con-artist and a gambler. During the Civil War, Ezra joined the Confederate Army and was one of the best blockade runners they had, due to his excellent abilities as a con-artist. Ezra had no brothers, sisters, wife, or children; however, his love for children was unquestionable. Folks told me about the time the peacekeepers had been hired to protect the local Seminole Indian tribe from a group of renegade Confederate soldiers that had threatened to destroy the village. Ezra surrounded himself with the children and taught them how to make people out of hay. For each task that the children did right, Ezra would show them a card trick. He played with the children and taught them how to laugh during difficult times.
I had seen Chris with little Billy Travis, the son of the widow Mary Travis. Chris tried to act so hard and callous, but when he was around Billy, everyone could see the gentle side of him. Whenever time permitted, he took Billy fishing, camping, hunting, or just out for a ride. Right after Chris had arrived in town, little Billy ran into the street right in front of an on-coming wagon. Without taking his own life into account, Chris ran into the street after Billy, tackling him, as they rolled out the way of the wagon. All you had to do was look in his eyes and see the affection he had for this child. On some level, I believe Chris saw a lot of his deceased son, Adam, in little Billy.
As I studied these two men, I realized that as different as these two men were, they were also alike in so many ways. Both were gunfighters, hired to protect this dusty little town. Both men had become hardened through the years; they could stand up against anyone in a gunfight, yet their hearts would become like putty in the hands of any child. Both men were honest, loyal, and lonely. In short, both men desired the same things, a place to belong, and someone to "watch their backs." In the end what they really wanted was a friend they could count on.
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