Missing Scenes: Musings from a Stagecoach

by Sue M

Characters: JD, Vin, Buck 

Summary: A prequel to the series of 'missing scenes' for the original OW series from the author's and JD's POV

All comments welcome.

Inside the rumbling stagecoach, the youth raising his bowler, just enough to swipe back damp, unruly, raven hair, coughed lightly to clear gritty particles from his throat. Damn this thick dust, it was settling on clothes, hats, hair and lashes…so thick, he could taste it. The air inside the coach was heavy with it, adding to the humidity within.
Soft gasps and wide, awe-filled, hazel orbs were the windows to his inner exhilaration, while he constantly fought the lulling effect the bouncing of the coach he traveled in was having on his weary frame. His senses tingled when passing scenery changed hues and structures the further west he traveled; from lush greens and tree line, to russet browns, and sculpted landscapes that often fell away to sandy desert. Mildly aware his fellow travelers were occasionally noting his excitement was of little consequence to him. This was his adventure…his time to find a new life. JD Dunne was going west.
A new town, not his stop, but his cramping muscles eased with each departing passenger, and he stretched. More room, thank God. As unfolding kinks relieved his discomfort, JD was already regretting the light conversations during the trip failed to reveal other passengers plans. He watched them walk away, luggage in hand, and pondered on what they might do next. Did they have a home here; was that their aim…to settle? Maybe family were meeting them, perhaps they were travelers, like him, discovering new places.
He sighed; maybe he should have just asked them before they alighted. But as time passed, conversation during the long journey had rolled to a stop from exhaustion. The coach lurched after a familiar call of `All board!' Ah well, too late to dwell on it now, they were moving again. His hand passed over his weary features, illustrating an unspoken question. Who knew modern day travel could be so tiring?
As the view from his window held his attention, he marveled at the continuous, clear, cerulean sky, intermittently dotted with birds. An occasional screech drew his attention, before his gaze lowered to view the sporadic scurry along the parched, sandy ground, of a small animal or lizard. He inhaled arid air. The heat was drier the further west they ventured, the open windows offering little respite from the hot breeze flowing through them. Another town, this time less populated, its buildings fewer and sparsely sited. A quiet place. He wondered if his destination would be as calm. He hoped not.
Having dozed for a while, a jolt when the carriage traversed a rocky trail stirred JD from his slumber. Now, small expanses of green, intertwined with craggy backdrops, cacti, gnarled, sandblasted trees and occasional shrubbery, rolled by. Interest peaked and lingered, when a new town came into sight. His head tilted and eyes flashed at the warning from the coachman to stay inside while passing through. Heart racing for the first time in a long while, his curiosity held no bounds and he peeked out through the pane-free aperture, inhaling sharply at the view.
Gunfire assaulted JD's ears, while he noted hostile men baying for blood, and townsfolk fearful, yet unable to stop themselves from following the action. In the center of it all was two men, dangerous, brooding, armed, and striding purposefully.
He called to the coachman. "Hey mister, where are we?"
The coach still moving, JD snatched up his saddlebags. Hoisting the saddle at his feet to his chest, he opened the carriage door. An exasperated voice called from above him and he looked up before he exited.
"You'll get your damn head back in there if you know what's good for you!" The stagecoach driver gaped in disbelief as the youth leapt out while they were still in motion. "Hey! This ain't your stop!"
On landing, JD Dunne looked around, his smile wide as he nodded. He liked what he had seen and nothing would stop him now. This was his dream; this was what he had been searching for. He glanced back at the driver. "Oh it is now! This is why I came out west!" he called.
The coach rumbled away behind him. JD tightened his hold on all his worldly possessions and tore off across the street to follow the crowd. Excited and hopeful, he raced toward a new adventure, and maybe a new beginning. And with any luck, would learn more of the two mysterious strangers he was following; men that appeared to embody all he had learned about the west…and the main reason he had ended his journey this day.
The End