Horsing Around

by Beth Green

Author's Notes: This was written in response to the January Euphemism Challenge offered by Katherine. While I won't say that there isn't any plot, I will acknowledge that attempting to define the plot herein would be pushing the envelope of credibility.

Buck Wilmington, usually the most affable of men, was less than tolerant of his friend's efforts to help. "Now JD, I appreciate your doing the driving and everything, but that's as far as it goes."

JD was not intimidated. He stood staring down at his friend, fisted hands upon his hips. He challenged, "Fine, Buck, then why don't you just get up and walk into the saloon?"

Buck slapped the arm of his wheelchair in frustration. "Dammit!" He closed his eyes as his head lowered, shoulders slumping.

JD immediately felt guilty for responding to Buck's annoying tone of voice with his own ire. It hadn't been easy for Buck, being confined to home for the past few days. Tonight's planned outing had taken a bit of clandestine plotting, as both Buck and JD suspected that Nathan would not endorse the activity. JD muttered, "Sorry," as he bent down to adjust the chair's leg support so that it would elevate Buck's splinted left ankle.

Buck shook his head. "No, I'm the one who's sorry. I couldn't have made it this far without your help. It's just, I'm a grown man. I ought to be able to take care of myself and not have someone tendin' to me like a little baby. I shouldn't be laid up on account of a simple broken ankle."

JD stood up and began to push the wheelchair toward the saloon's handicapped entrance. "Buck, just because the doctor said it was a simple fracture, doesn't mean that you can walk on the thing. There's no way you can use a crutch with a dislocated shoulder, so you're wheelchair-bound until the x-rays show you can be fitted with a walking cast."

Buck winced as he adjusted the sling upon his left arm. He commented, "Yeah, I know all that." He smiled. "That doesn't mean I ain't gonna complain about it from time to time. I'm what you call disgruntled. Sorry for letting my gruntles out on you."

JD returned Buck's smile as he opened the door of the saloon. "Gruntles? Is that even a word?"

Buck admitted, "I don't know." He added, "But if it isn't, it should be." Buck put a hand on the wheelchair's brake, halting their forward progress. "Hold up a minute."

JD questioned the sudden stop. "What is it?"

"I appreciate you getting me this far, but you pushing me through the bar won't help Nathan's impression that I should be home in bed. I can make it from here."

JD nodded and moved out from behind Buck's wheelchair to walk beside his friend. JD had to admit, Buck did a pretty good job of maneuvering the chair with one hand. Fortunately they didn't have to go far to reach the table occupied by the remaining members of Team Seven.

Predictably, Nathan was the first to react. He stood up to confront their injured team member. "Buck, what are you doing here?"

Buck spoke up for himself. "Same as you all. I thought I'd have a little fun winding down from the week's troubles by hanging out with my friends. And before you get all medical on me, I don't need to drink alcohol to have a good time. A soft drink or two 'll do me just fine." Buck added, "Not that I wouldn't mind a little Jack with my coke, but like the song goes, you can't always get what you want."

While Nathan and Buck were chatting, Vin had rearranged the furniture to make room for Buck's wheelchair at the table. He gestured for Buck to occupy the now open space. "Well, come and join us," adding, "As long as you don't plan to start singin'."

Deciding to play nice, Buck stopped himself from doing his Mick Jagger impression.

Team Seven's reunion was interrupted by the arrival of Inez. She clutched a hand to her chest, declaring, "Madre de dios! What has happened?"

Ezra helpfully supplied, "Well, I'd like to tell you that Mr. Wilmington risked life and limb to perform some heroic deed." Unfortunately for Buck, Ezra continued. "But I don't wish to lie, especially to a lady as lovely as yourself."

Buck tried to interrupt. "Now, Ezra . . ."

Ezra spoke over Buck's objection. "It seems that Buck parted company with his mount in a most unexpected and abrupt manner."

Vin clarified, "He fell off his horse."

Buck's, "Thanks, guys," was heavy with sarcasm.

Ezra smiled. "You're welcome."

Buck leaned back, declaring, "It wasn't the fall that was the problem, so much as the unplanned landing."

Chris snorted. "Yeah, right. You sound like you're practicing for a career in politics."

Ezra immediately dismissed the possibility. "There is no way that Mr. Wilmington could begin to approach the level of verbal gymnastics needed to hold political office." He turned to Buck with a nod of his head. "No offense."

Buck replied, "None taken."

To Buck's disappointment, Inez wandered off when Ezra began his political discourse.

Ezra expounded, "For example, one need only to recall the words of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He is the man famous for uttering the remarks: 'Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known unknowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.'"

Chris shook his head. "Ezra, the mere fact that you can recall that nonsense makes me think you're looking at a career in politics for yourself."

Ezra waved a hand in negation. "Oh, no, I am far too honest for that particular pursuit."

Josiah raised his mug in salute. "Here, here!"

JD grabbed a mug and quickly poured himself a drink from one of the pitchers at their table, chanting, "Beer, beer!"

Buck sighed. "Have one for me, kid." Buck spied Inez across the room. He waved a hand to attract her attention. She failed to notice the unspoken plea. Buck resigned himself to going without so much as a drink of water.

JD took pity on his friend. He rose from the table, stating, "Buck, I'll go get you a coke. Anybody else need anything?" His friends declined the offer and JD headed off to forage.

He returned with a pitcher of coke and a tray loaded down with nachos. His friends greedily dug in, offering their thanks amid mouthfuls of food. Once everyone had eaten their fill, conversation resumed.

JD asked, "Anyone got plans for the weekend?"

Chris nodded. "If the weather holds, everyone's invited out to my place to go riding."

Only half-listening to the discussion, Buck asked, "Horseback?"

JD quipped, "Sure. It came back after you fell off it."

Buck scolded, "Now is that nice, to hit a man when he's down?"

Vin spoke up. "Can't help it if you're the only one of us who's fallen off a horse lately."

Buck adamantly defended himself. Hand to his chest, he declared, "It wasn't my fault. There shouldn't 'a been a dead tree in the middle of the path anyways. It's not my fault I thought my horse could jump it and he disagreed."

Chris nodded. "Buck jumped when the horse didn't."

Buck, knowing he couldn't argue with that statement, continued. "What happened was all on account of my horse bein' the most polite animal you'll ever meet. When we came to the jump, he just stopped to let me go first." Buck smiled at the chorus of groans that greeted his remarks.

JD decided he could do one better. "I got a joke for you." The fact that his statement started another round of groans did not deter JD.

"A riding stable owner was meeting with a group of folks who'd organized a riding trip. He went through the usual orientation, you know, 'Anyone ever ridden a horse before? No? Anyone ever seen a horse before?'"

"Anyway, he starts instructing the greenhorns. 'It's simple. The horses are all neck rein trained. Hold the reins in one hand. To turn left, move the reins left. To turn right, move the reins right. If you pull back on the reins, the horse will slow down, then back up. To make the horse go, kick gently.'"

"At this point, someone speaks up: "Oh, I get it, it's a point and kick user interface.'"

JD smiled at the conclusion, not bothered in the least by the boos, hisses, moans and groans he received instead of applause.

Buck stated, "Kid, you gotta learn to tell a proper joke. While we're on the subject of horses, let me tell you a story about a man, a woman, and a horse tale."

"A man was sitting quietly reading his paper one morning, peacefully enjoying himself, when his wife sneaks up behind him and whacks him on the back of his head with a huge black frying pan. Bam!"

"The man asks, 'What was that for?!'"

"The wife answers, 'What was that piece of paper in your pants pocket with the name Marylou written on it?!'"

"The man explains, 'Darlin', don't you remember two weeks ago when I went to the horse races? Marylou was the name of one of the horses I bet on.'"

"The wife seemed satisfied and headed on to do some work around the house, feeling regret for the hasty way she jumped to the wrong conclusion."

"Three days later, the man's once again sitting in his chair reading and she repeats the frying pan swatting. Bam!"

"The man asks, 'What's that for this time?'"

"The wife says, 'Your horse called.'"

Unlike JD's tale, Buck's joke was actually greeted with a few chuckles and appreciative laughter.

Buck then announced, "If you all will excuse me, I've got to go see a man about a horse."

Without a word needing to be said, JD quietly followed Buck to the men's room. JD assisted his friend with a minimum of fuss and bother. When he'd finished his business, Buck stated, "It's a hell of a thing, when a man can't stand to take a piss by himself."

JD patted Buck's shoulder as they headed back to the main barroom. "Hang in there for just another week or two, Buck." During their absence, someone had fed a few coins into the jukebox. They had to detour around a group of people who were dancing in front of a small area by the main bar.

When they returned to their table, Buck began to tap his hand along the top of the table. "Damn, I love this song." Buck began to sing along with the words of the Clarence Carter tune. "I be strokin', yeah, I be strokin'. I stroke it to the north, I stroke it to the south, I stroke it everywhere, I even stroke it with my . . . Woo!"

In an effort to stop Buck's singing, Nathan commented, "You ain't gonna be doing no strokin' for a while. You'd best keep that in mind."

Buck was undeterred. "Just 'cause you're keepin' company with Rosie Palmer and her five sisters, don't expect me to be doing the same."

Nathan chose not to take offense. He commented, "Unlike you, I'm not in the habit of giving myself a helping hand. With my steady lady, I got no worries about keepin' the equipment maintained stormin' the pearly gates."

Buck leaned forward and in a low, sultry voice, husked, "Oh, Nathan, talk dirty to me."

JD was a little uncomfortable whenever Buck got going on the subject of sex. In an effort to change the subject, he asked, "So, Josiah, how's your golf game?"

Josiah smiled. "I'm sorry you asked. No, not really. It's just that the way I play, I'll never be a candidate for the pro tour. Not that I'll let that discourage me from having a bit of fun. Like they say, golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at; which is not to say that I'm not good at the latter." His smile broadened as he added, "Very good."

Buck entered into the conversation. "You know, golf has a lot in common with sex. Golfers play a round while they're trying to get a good score."

Chris interrupted, stating, "Buck, you know what they say about all talk and no action."

Buck failed to take the hint. "Hell, Chris, talking is part of the action. Haven't you ever heard of aural sex?"

At JD's confused look, Ezra clarified, "That's aural a-u-r-a-l, as in 'pertaining to the sense of hearing.' The large number of phone sex services is a testament to the power of aural sex."

Buck nudged JD. "You ought to try it some time. It's a lot of fun if someone you know is on the other end of the line." He added, "Of course, oral sex is a hell of a lot of fun, too."

JD frowned. "Geez, Buck, the way you talk, you make it seem like all you think about is sex."

"Hey, you relax your way, I'll relax mine."

Nathan added, "Different strokes for different folks."

Buck raised his hand in a 'high five' gesture. "Good one, Nathan."

JD continued, "You could talk about. . ." he cast his eyes around the room, lighting up at the sight of the couples near the bar as he found a new subject, "dancing."

Buck nodded. "I like to dance."

Ezra agreed. "Of course you do. Dancing can be considered a sexual surrogate. It is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire."

Buck raised an eyebrow at that comment. "Huh. I guess that's where the expression 'mattress dancing' comes from."

Ezra went on, "It may interest you to know that your favorite form of music, rock and roll, was a term in use by Americans of African descent long before Elvis shook his pelvis. You have one guess as to what the term 'rock and roll' referred to. If you guessed the act of sexual intercourse, you are correct."

Finally, JD came right out and asked, "Can't we find anything else to talk about?"

Vin decided to help out his friend. "Well, we already talked about sex and politics. How about religion?"

Chris shook his head. "Oh, no. We do not need to sit here and listen to Josiah and Ezra go on about whether or not religion is another word for cult."

Ezra spoke up. "I said that religion is a euphemism for cult. When you get a group of people together with a leader who tries to indoctrinate his followers into a shared mind set, when there is chanting and the burning of incense, and statuary representative of religious icons, you are describing the cult of Catholicism."

Josiah began to verbalize his opposing viewpoint. "That statement just shows your ignorance on the subject of religion. Religion is one of the basic fundamentals . . ."

Chris turned to Vin, glaring at his friend while Josiah and Ezra traded verbal blows. "See what you started? Hope you're happy now."

Vin raised his hands at his sides, exclaiming, "I was just tryin' to help out JD. Maybe if you'd come up with something else to talk about . . ."

Chris grumbled, "Usually you don't say more than two words. Tonight, you decide to get all chatty. . ."

Buck looked around the table as his friends bantered back and forth. He was feeling less pain than he had all week, thanks to the distraction provided by the familiar sights and sounds. Hell, they were better than any pain medicine. He couldn't think of anywhere else he'd rather be. Buck quickly amended that thought. Miss Katy's bed would be a nicer place to be, but you can't always get what you want.

He began humming, then singing. "You can't. Always. Get. What you wa-a-ant." When the sound of his voice registered in his friends' ears, they stopped their conversation to toss a chorus of, "Shut up, Buck!" his way. The injured man's smile grew. Yep, Buck Wilmington reflected, he was one happy man.