Part 6 of the Stupid collection
Ezra ignored the looks he and his fellow peace keepers, Buck Wilmington and JD Dunne, were receiving while they walked over to an empty table in the dining area of the hotel. Breakfast was being served and there was a fairly big crowd present.
He heard the whispers following them and knew it had to do with the shootout the day before, the shootout where their leader Chris Larabee had been gunned down.
It had been a brave act on Larabees part when he got up and left cover to rescue Gloria Potters daughter, held hostage by two of the miscreants, but why the man hadnt taken cover again after saving her was beyond the Southerner. He didnt mind a gamble with the bad element himself. He still remembered the thrill when hed rushed out of the saloon, right into a gunfight with the Nichols gang to blow up their fortified wagon, but this.
Chris had just walked up towards where the gang members had taken cover and taken them out one by one. He had walked right into the bullets.
It was a miracle only two had hit the man. And now he was laid up in Mister Jacksons small clinic, fighting for his life.
No, Ezra didnt think the gunslinger had made a good gamble on this one.
Soon the three peace keepers were sitting at a table, breakfast before them. Ezra pushed a piece of bread around in the gravy of the sausages and sighed. Looking up, he could see that his companions didnt seem to be hungry either.
That was to be expected, of course. Mister Wilmington and Mister Larabee went back a long way and Mister Dunne had this enormous case of hero worship for their black clad leader.
He hadnt anticipated that the state of Mister Larabees health would affect him like this though, to the point that he couldnt sleep or find delight in food and even had been too distracted to play a decent hand of cards last night.
It was really disconcerting. He didnt like this at all.
With a sigh he pushed the plate aside and leaned back in his chair with his coffee, inhaling the aroma. He saw that the other two shoved their plates away as well and stared ruefully at them. All this made him a bit more part of the group than he had bargained for. It was good and well to have a working relationship with the others and even have some faith that they would all watch each others back as part of the territory so to speak, but this commiserating together truly was getting on his nerves.
Luckily Gloria Potter walked up towards them and proved to be a welcome distraction. Hastily he stood up and dipped his hat at her. Mistress Potter, how are you?
The widow smiled at him nervously. Im doing well, Mister Standish, thank you for asking.
Before she could say anything else, Buck was standing at her side, smiling warmly at her. The woman immediately relaxed. It was a trick Ezra wouldnt mind having up his own sleeve. Unfortunately his smile for some reason seemed to have the opposite effect and made most people wearier. Ah well, everyone played with the hand he was dealt.
Hows Lizzie doing, Miz Potter? Is she still shook up from yesterday?
Yes she is Mister Wilmington. She had some bad dreams last night and she keeps looking at our back door, afraid someone will come and get her again. I had to lock it before she was feeling secure enough to sit down for breakfast.
Aw, thats awful, JD blurted out.
If there is anything we can do? Maybe talk to her? Wilmington asked.
No, no Mister Wilmington. I just hope she will talk a bit about her fears and then she will have to come to terms with it. There is no other way. It isnt what I came for. I... I was wondering how Mister Larabee...
The widows voice faltered. Ezra was sure the sharp woman saw the answer in the way they were standing there with their shoulders slumped and their food hardly touched on their plates. He immediately straightened himself up, not liking it one bit that someone could read him on anything.
He will be okay, Miz Potter. Thanks for asking, Buck tried to reassure the woman. He had also straightened up.
Gloria Potter was no fool though. That bad? she asked sadly. Oh, I had so hoped I would be able to thank him today, maybe take Lizzie to see him. Will he... he is going to be alright again, isnt he?
Oh yeah, he is! Buck Wilmington said with fierce conviction. Ill tell ya the minute Nate will allow visitors. And Ill tell Chris you and your lovely daughter are doing alright. Hell want ta know that.
Can I... is there anything I can do?
That peaked Ezras interest. Now, here were some possibilities! After all, Mistress Potter did have the best stocked store in town and Mister Larabee did save her daughter! It would only be just if some compensation would come their way!
Thank you, good lady. Perhaps some of the items in your store...
Nope, Wilmington cut through whatever he had wanted to say. The rudeness of it was appalling! Nope, were fine.
Still, some more bandages and....
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Ez, Wilmington seemed truly annoyed now. Well, so was he! It was a perfectly legitimate question after all!
Gloria Potter looked at them a bit uncertainly and then she sighed. Please let me know if you need anything, anything at all! I dont care what some of the townsfolk say, I think Mister Larabee and Mister Tanner have done a lot of good for this town. I remember how it was before they saved the judge from Lucas James and decided to help.
Tears now glittered in her eyes and Ezra remembered with some unease that Lucas James had murdered Mistress Potters husband.
I... I better go now. And I will pray for Mister Larabee.
Mam, the peace keepers said, touching the brim of their hats and momentarily at a loss for words. Ezra was suddenly very, very glad that Chris Larabee had saved this brave womans daughter. She had been through enough. He sat back down and looked at his plate. Not that looking at it made the stuff any more appealing.
JD and Buck sat down as well. JD was looking puzzled. Why did she say that about Chris and Vin, Buck? Like some town folks are saying bad things about them? Why would they do that? I thought the town had pretty much accepted us?
Ezra couldnt help it, he had to laugh at that. Mister Dunne, you and Mister Sanchez are accepted. And in a way Mister Jackson is finally getting some acceptance as well as more and more of the residents of this municipality learn to appreciate his healing expertise, but that hardly qualifies for the rest of us. Mister Wilmington and I are merely tolerated, we certainly arent respectable enough for anything more. As for Mister Larabee and Mister Tanner, well, in their case there is no acceptance, there is only fear.
I dont understand, JD said bewildered. Why would they accept us, but not Chris and Vin?
Ezra couldnt believe JD had really asked that question. He couldnt hide a little smirk. Why? That is really very obvious, Mister Dunne. It is due to their daily attire off course!
Their clothes, JD, their clothes! Ya know how Ez likes ta talk bout clothes!
Their clothes? Youre kidding me!
I am most certainly not! The way someone dresses is very, very important! I can not stress that enough! It tells the other person who and what you are.
Yeah. Like that bowler hat says youre a greenhorn, JD.
The black attire Mister Larabee wears makes him look menacing and dangerous. It screams gunslinger to everyone who sees him.
Not to mention the fact he hardly ever smiles when hes walking around like a black thundercloud, Buck grinned, leaning back more comfortably in his chair.
And Mister Tanners outfit of buckskin clearly advertises our friends interest in Indians. Yes, yes, Mister Wilmington, especially with his hair as long as it is. Both are not statements the people of this municipality really appreciate.
JD sat staring with his mouth open. It made Ezra wince and Buck laugh.
Close yer mouth, JD, yer gonna catch flies! Come on, lets go over to the jail and check on the few misfits that survived Chris gunning and then hit the saloon. The two friends rose and walked away.
With a sigh Ezra contemplated his food. He really did not want to eat even a bite of it. His feather bed still didnt appeal to him either. What ever was wrong with him?
Hey Ez, Buck shouted from where he stood at the entrance, holding the door. Come on, move! We aint got all day!
Ezra raised an eyebrow. They didnt really expect him to come along on their little uninteresting escapades, did they? Just so they could wait for word on their leader together? He was in it for the working relationship, nothing more!
They clearly did expect him to come along.
Ah well, it wasnt as if he had anything better to do!
Tipping his hat to the whispering town folks Ezra sauntered to the door and walked out with his two colleagues. Thats all they were after all, colleagues.