The Magnificent Seven Save the Day by Kathy M

Main characters: All Seven, narrated by an observer

This town might look like a hundred other small Western towns but every town is diverse, and over the years I learned to wait patiently and observe, to look for not what was the same but instead to discover what was different. I have been employed by Beadle books for almost a decade now, travelling from town to town with samples of their books and the popular smaller story papers, most often called dime novels, although they do range in price from five to fifteen cents. I am excellent at my job, if I do say so myself, and more often than not I set up the town’s general store with an order and payment system which works well for both them and the company, and even though my commission rate is modest it all adds up.

I started my career back east, selling in larger cities where civilized folk were eager for tales of adventure and danger out west. Perhaps inspired by the readers’ eagerness, envy even, and hearing customers’ talk again and again of how they wished they could head out west to see and do everything described in these tales I started venturing further west on my sales trips. My successful sales enabled me to select those routes which I deemed more desirable. Actually they were not considered the most profitable routes but I found myself now curious to seek out these places that I had read about myself, since of course I read my inventory of books and smaller stories myself while in transit from one town to another. I had long suspected, but now actually knew, that most of these stories of daring-do, wild savages, hostile territories, gunfighters and lawmen, and of rescuing damsels in distress from dastardly villains, were exaggerated to say the least. I had the pleasure of meeting several of the authors over my years of employment with the company, and now knew that most stories were more fiction than fact, but although largely exaggerated they were still based on some actual event, or location, or real person and even this was enough to appeal to me. As my sales routes took me through the centre of this vast country and towards the western regions, it seemed that the types of books or stories that I sold most were not the western ones, but rather the new eastern detective type stories. Perhaps it is human nature that we become inured to that around us and seek instead that which we do not have. The easterners read about adventures out west and those in the west wanted to read about life in the big cities.

I found myself keeping a journal and taking notes of what I observed in my travels and after one particularly eventful stay in a small backwater town decided to put the events I had observed onto paper, with of course my own flair for embellishment and I submitted it to the Beadle editor who was pleased with my efforts. With his guidance I became a part-time writer, and quickly learned that by including more real people in my tales that I increased sales, since my stories not only appealed to the back east audience eager to read about things they could only imagine but they also sold well to those in the town written about in my story and to other towns located near it also.

So here I was in the town of Bitter Creek, south of the growing city of Denver, the largest city on my route which I left over two weeks ago. I had successfully concluded my business here but the stage to the next town on my route was not until tomorrow afternoon. When I was just a salesman I hurried from town to town, usually only spending one night in each, but now I took my time, always spending two, sometimes three nights in a place to give me the time I wanted to meet people, learn their names, listen to their stories, observe and yes, wait for such an event to occur. More often than not there was nothing exciting to write about, and actually more of my stories were based on what others told me rather than what I had actually witnessed first hand, but that worked well too. Even though I knew that the tale as told to me was most likely exaggerated that did not stop me from putting my own unique spin on it, just to give the readers more of what they wanted of course.

Last night I stayed at a nice rooming house which proved to be, as usual, a font for the town gossip as well as an opportunity to chat casually with other travelers, most of which did have an interesting story or two to tell, and tonight I would be staying in one of the town’s hotels in an effort to converse with a slightly different class of clientele, many with stories of their own they would be eager to share over dinner or a drink. But today I would spend my time talking with the local populace, in the shops, on the boardwalk or in the local saloon, listening and observing. My notebook was at hand, having already scribed last night’s tales I was now noting other names, both people and businesses, as well as jotting down descriptions and details, along with sketches. Not the best artist in the world I honed what artistic talent I had to capture scenes of town life, people and buildings, and whatever action I observed or imagined, based on other people’s reminisces and ruminations. These I would submit to my editor along with my stories and the publishers would polish my writing and their in-house artists would select from my rough sketches a scene or two and produce a drawing for the front cover of the dime novel to catch the attention of the potential buyer. The cover scene had to promise enough action or adventure or danger to entice the general public to chose my story, or any Beadle’s book or paper over the competitor’s. If sensationalism or exaggeration was necessary then that was the trick we employed to capture their attention, although I liked to think that once purchased, my stories, albeit complete with my added touches, always gave them their money’s worth.

So it was that I happened to be on the boardwalk outside the most popular saloon in Bitter Creek that afternoon. The latest buzz around town was concern because the stagecoach was almost two hours late. Many of the town’s denizens seemed to have gathered outside to either speculate about, or commiserate the situation, when suddenly a roar was heard from the far end of town announcing the long awaited arrival of the morning stage. As one we surged into the street, all of us eager for a glimpse of the conveyance as if one look would assuage not only our curiosity, but provide all the pertinent details as well. Actually once I advanced forward my glance gave me more questions than answers. The stagecoach driver was not the usual hardy older man but a youth wearing eastern clothing and a bowler hat. Although popular in the larger cities back east, that type of headgear was rare out here. The coach itself was flanked by six riders with several horses ponied behind. Were it not for the loud cheer of the assembled crowd I would have been concerned for these riders appeared to be the very type of desperadoes that could have attacked the stagecoach, but the excited voices surrounding me were assuring others that these tough, mounted men that might resemble gunfighters were in actuality what they termed ‘good guys’, none of which were wearing the proverbial white hat. Perhaps these ruffians were from a nearby ranch, or employed in some capacity in the town since they were obviously recognized by some of the local denizens. In the front was what I assumed must be the leader of this diverse crew, dressed all in black, wearing a silver conch belt holstering a silver handled pistol. His long black duster flying behind him he exuded power and authority. Leading on the opposite side of the stagecoach was a younger man who, at first glance I would have identified as an army scout. Dressed in buckskins, with what looked to be a sawed off rifle, which I believe is called a mare’s leg, strapped to his thigh, and with long hair to his shoulders, he looked as though he might be a half-breed, so I was surprised to see the bright blueness of his eyes as he scanned the crowd and the town, ever vigilant for danger, yet appearing calm and relaxed.

From my vantage point several steps above street level, I was able to see the other men as they neared. Slightly behind the black clad man was a tall, strong looking, handsome, dark-haired, mustachioed man, whose broad smile and friendly face did not conceal a hint of danger, giving him a look that I would wager would be quite popular with ladies of all ages. Behind him was an older gray-haired man, perhaps not as tall, but definitely larger. Even the serape he was wearing couldn’t disguise his huge barrel chest, thick thighs and large arms that portrayed immense strength and an attitude that screamed ‘you don’t want to get me angry’.

On the other side of the stagecoach, behind the buckskin clad man was a very tall dark-skinned man, and what set him apart from any average traveler was a series of knives strapped across his back. Beside him rode a fellow of average height whose attire would never have convinced me that he was with this tough looking group if I had not witnessed it for myself. He resembled a Mississippi riverboat gambler, and I have seen my share of those, wearing a flat-topped black hat, peacock red jacket, an emerald coloured brocade vest, fancy cravat and what looked to be very good quality black pants and boots. Perhaps he was not actually with the rest of the outriders, maybe just a fellow traveler who crossed paths somewhere. I had to stop myself from letting my mind wander as it so often did when seeing strangers, trying to imagine their story, who they were, where they were from and what they were doing here. The sound of the stagecoach stopping quickly brought my attention back to the present as I saw Bitter Creek’s deputy, Matthew Webb, come over to stand beside the black-clad man who he seemed to recognize. I heard Webb thank him and his men and explain that the Sheriff and the other deputy were away testifying at a trial in Eagle Bend. The intense looking man-in-black only nodded and then turned to his men telling them, as he dismounted, that they may as well stay here tonight and continue their journey home in the morning.

The young man, who upon closer examination looked only to be in his teens, that been driving the stagecoach climbed down and came forward, and I maneuvered through the throng of bystanders and got close enough to hear him as he identified himself to the deputy as Sheriff J.D. Dunne of the town of Four Corners, here with their other lawmen. That boy did not look old enough to be a sheriff, then it struck me like a lightening bolt, a ‘boy sheriff’ and six other peacekeepers, these men were The Magnificent Seven, led by ex-gunfighter Chris Larabee, that another Beadle Publishing author, Jock Steele had made famous. I recalled that the town of Four Corners was only about a half day’s ride away. Possessing a rather good memory, if I do say so myself, I was able to recall the names from that narrative, and from Jock’s descriptions I was easily able to match those names to the faces now in front of me.

When the deputy asked what had happened, the youth replied that he and the other peacekeepers from Four Corners were returning from delivering a gang of rustlers to the territorial jail when they heard shots fired. Riding hard to investigate, they stopped at the top of a rise and Tanner, whom I now knew to be the buckskin clad ex-bounty hunter, used his spyglass to assess the situation. He could see the halted stagecoach surrounded by armed gunmen, obviously the result of an ambush. There were two men lying motionless on the ground, which they later learned were the driver and his outrider, and at that point they were unaware if they were wounded or dead. The ambush had taken place where the roadway traverses a narrowing between two overhanging canyon walls, and the ‘stupid bandits’ as Dunne demeaned them, weren’t smart enough to move from there so the peacekeepers were easily able to get the upper hand. With their sharpshooter Vin Tanner, accompanied by Buck Wilmington, another ex-gunfighter, also up high, it didn’t take long to reverse the situation. Although outnumbered, a couple of the ambushers were foolish enough to think they could outgun them, and those were the ones currently enroute to the undertakers. At that point Dunne had snickered and shook his head as if finding it hard to comprehend how anyone could conceivably imagine that they stood a chance against the likes of such guns as those wielded by Larabee and Tanner.

While Dunne and Deputy Webb were conversing, the large older man, who I now knew was the ex-preacher, Josiah Sanchez, led two of the ponied horses towards the jail and I realized that the two men slung over the horses and tied face down were not dead. However the other two that the fancy dressed man, who had to be Ezra Standish, led over to the undertakers obviously were. The dark-skinned man, Nathan Jackson, Four Corner’s healer in addition to being one of their peacekeepers, and the buckskin clad Vin Tanner, renowned tracker and sharpshooter, helped two wounded men out of the stagecoach, who were identified by other bystanders as being the wounded driver and outrider. Bitter Creek’s own local doctor made his way through the crowd to speak with Jackson and directed them to his clinic.

A few more people exited the stagecoach, the last of which, and aided by the charming Buck Wilmington, were two beautiful young women clad in the latest fashion; a redhead wearing a most attractive jade green two-piece travelling outfit of jacket and skirt, and a blonde wearing a royal blue woolen cape over a lighter blue brocade dress. As the smiling, dark-haired, mustached rogue escorted them, one on each arm, over to the hotel I heard them both thank him profusely for rescuing them and saving their lives from what would have apparently been, in their words, the most painful, horrific, terrifying death possible. I definitely needed to interview them as it would be most advantageous to hear their first hand account of the ambush attempt and their rescue by the tall, dark and handsome stranger as I’m sure they would be most likely to term him.

When the deputy headed back to the jail, presumably to lock up his new prisoners, I stepped forward and tried to get more details out of young Sheriff Dunne who only shrugged as if to indicate that it had been no big deal, as if they stopped ambushes on a regular basis and his manner seemed to indicate that this one had been a fairly straightforward, simple task. When I asked him about driving the stagecoach he seemed a bit more animated stating that this was not the first time he’d driven one, and elaborated slightly by saying that one time he’d been a passenger in one during an attempted ambush and ended up ‘taking care of the situation’ by stopping the runaway stagecoach himself, while his friends took care of the ‘miscreants’ as he called them, and that he’d then driven the stagecoach back to town. When I tried to get more details he looked a bit sad and said he didn’t want to talk about it. I thanked him and said perhaps we could talk some more later about other events and he smiled and said ‘it depended’ and then he left to join the others. I thought that with a few libations he might loosen up, as is so often the case with so many other individuals, and I hoped I might be fortunate enough to get him in a more talkative mood. Now that fellow Wilmington looked like a friendly enough chap. He was talking to some other women in the crowd who were looking up at him adoringly, and I assumed he might be giving them his version of how they saved the day. If I was a betting man I would have wagered I would be able to get a longer version of today’s events from him, and if they were somewhat embellished by the time I heard them, well so much the better from my point of view.

The deputy had turned to one of the travelers, a well dressed man who I assumed to be a man of commerce, and asked him for his version of what had happened. I remained silently in the background, eager to obtain the details, and listened as the man, who identified himself as David Thompson from Denver, who was enroute to check up on one of his business holdings, relayed his account of the incident. We learned that after the bandits had shot the driver and outrider and stopped the stagecoach, they had all been threatened. Mr. Thompson stated that they all feared for their lives, and the women for their virtue, and honestly believed that they would not be alive today were it not for the timely arrival of the man in black and his ‘posse’ as Mr. Thompson worded it.

I looked around for these unlikely looking rescuers, but none were at hand. I admit that at first glance I would have been concerned that those men were indeed the criminal element, heroes would definitely not have been my first guess, but as intimidating, and yes, downright fierce looking as they are, I was still determined to get at an interview with at least one more of them, but for now I would endeavor to glean a first hand report from one of the fortunate survivors of what I was now wording as an horrendous ordeal.

I was successful in interviewing several of the set-upon travelers, taking the time to write copious notes in my journal and was still resolute in my determination to speak to as many of the Magnificent Seven as I could. Although I had attempted to converse with several of them, and actually did have pleasant conversations with both Sanchez and Jackson, I had not yet been successful in obtaining an actual first hand account of the morning’s event from any of them, other than what I had gleaned from Dunne earlier. Now having found some of them in the most popular saloon I decided to observe from a distance initially and perhaps make the rounds later. Maybe purchasing them each a beverage might be a good way to initiate a decent discussion.

It was by now mid-afternoon and I was engaged in a most enjoyable game of poker with the Standish fellow and several other men. The man did enjoy talking, although even I, with my own extensive vocabulary and education, did not understand absolutely every word uttered in his southern drawl. It seemed somewhat curious that this accomplished gambler rode with such disparate men, and he admitted that he was previously a professional conman and was indeed a member of the peacekeeping force of the small town of Four Corners where they had all resided for a few years now; but that he also continued to ply his trade as a gambler whenever the opportunity arose. I didn’t expect to win, but considered my losses to be the price of admission as it were, because it certainly was highly entertaining to be involved in a game of this caliber and to hear a few of his stories of life as a riverboat gambler on the Mississippi, which I planned to pen onto paper as soon as I retired to my room for the evening. Actually I didn’t lose as much as I expected, even though it was quite a high level game, both in the intensity of competition and the wagers themselves. One glance I received from the sparkling emerald green eyes of my host held a slight hint of bemusement, causing me to wonder briefly if his dexterous hands had for some unknown reason manipulated the deck occasionally in my favor.

Hearing the batwing doors slam open was a very common occurrence for the busy saloon, but as usual the southern gambler’s gaze shifted to eye the newcomer. Seeing the slight narrowing of his eyes in his poker face I turned to see Dunne enter and pause as he scanned the crowd, his eyes finally finding Larabee and Tanner and whatever look he gave them caused them to rise as one and the crowd parted for them when they strode quickly to the exit. I heard Standish say, ‘excuse me gentlemen, but duty calls’ and turned back to see him fold his probably winning hand, gather his money from the table in front of him, put on his hat, and hurry to catch up with his compatriots. I followed his lead, also folding my cards, gathered my meager pile of cash, and exited the saloon hoping to find more fuel for my growing story. I stood near enough to Standish to hear Dunne tell him that when he left the mercantile and was heading here, he saw several suspicious men enter the bank. Suspecting a possible bank robbery he alerted Josiah, who had been talking to the town pastor nearby, and then he found Nathan in the apothecary shop, and both men were currently in place watching the bank and waiting for word from Larabee. I looked around to realize that in the space of those few moments both Larabee and Tanner had seemingly vanished, but then I heard the youth tell Standish that Tanner was now in place on the roof of the building across the street from the bank, that Jackson and Sanchez would be in place on opposite sides of the street on the far side of the bank and that he and Standish were to cover this side of the bank. Once they were all in place Larabee, with Wilmington covering him, would confront the potential outlaws, or wait for them to exit the bank, depending I supposed on the circumstances. Dunne then turned to me, and the few other people now gathered on the boardwalk, and with a quiet voice of authority, surprising in someone so young, he ordered everyone to stay calm but to quietly get inside and stay out of sight until informed it was safe to return. They all did so, including myself, although I stood just inside the saloon doors, remaining in a position whereby I could see the bank, hoping to witness the event as it unfolded.

How long does a bank robbery usually take I found myself idly wondering while waiting crouched down inside the saloon peering under the batwing doors. I knew the bank in this town employed only a bank manager and one clerk and presumably the robbers, if they were smart, if that were such a possibility, might have waited until there were no customers to make their withdrawal as it were; unless they preferred extra hostages should the need arise? I was certain that the Tanner fellow and probably at least one other lawman was able to see into the bank through its large front window and that if there was immediate danger to any innocent people that they would make their move. I made a mental note to myself to ask the bank manager, and hopefully at least one member of the Four Corner’s peacekeepers about previous robberies, thinking already about future stories I might be able to write. All of this waiting and my ruminating was in reality only a few minutes before the action began. My senses were intensified and there seemed to be an unnatural stillness over the town so I even heard the bank door swing open. I assumed it was the leader that slowly walked out, looking right then left, and must not have seen anything amiss for he turned to speak to those behind him. Once all five men, three of which were carrying satchels containing most likely their ill-gotten gains, were on the boardwalk, walking towards their horses tied in front of the bank Larabee strode into the middle of the street and when he was facing them he called out, telling them to drop the money and give up while they still had their lives.

“You’re not the law here, find your own bank to rob,” was the leader’s reply; accompanied by laughter from his cohorts in crime, while one of the men commented how there was only one of him and five of them. I’ll never forget the smirk on Larabee’s face, or the sound of his voice as he informed them that they were outnumbered by lawmen working for the territorial judge. I was in a position where I could actually see Larabee and the bank robbers, but what happened next was so fast it wasn’t even a blur. The head desperado’s hand moved towards the holster on his hip, but his gun didn’t even clear leather. I’m not sure he even touched it, before Larabee’s gun had fired. I glimpsed blood pouring out of a chest wound as the dead man, for I was certain it was a straight shot to the heart, fell backwards.

Almost simultaneously another shot rang out, obviously from the sharpshooter up high, and a blossoming red circle in the forehead of the man who had been standing to the right of the now dead leader, was visible for a mere moment before he fell face down, his unfired gun falling with him. The other three villains dashed for cover. Only a few more shots were fired before Larabee gave them one last chance to surrender and they did. I had never actually seen a gunfight and even as horrific as it was I couldn’t help being somehow excited by having been right there, a first hand witness to that which up until now I had only ever read about or heard others speak of. I was determined to remember every detail and commit it to paper as soon as possible, as well as interview as many witnesses as I could to flesh out all the details, and for the second time in one day hoped that I could persuade some of the Magnificent Seven themselves to talk to me.

Sanchez, Dunne, and Wilmington led the three felons to the jail to meet the deputy who was now on his way to meet the heroes, also for the second time that day. I contemplated checking out the jail, wondering how crowded the cells were, and decided that might be worth doing later. Perhaps I could get interviews with some of the miscreants of both of today’s incidents. I felt it would certainly add something extra to my writings to hear the events from the other point of view, so once I again I sharpened my pencil, both literally and figuratively, and set out to gather as much information as was readily available and get it all written down.

Early evening, having enjoyed a sumptuous repast in the hotel’s dining room with both Mr. Carter, the bank manager and Mr. Thompson, the visiting businessman, I was once again ensconced in Bitter Creek’s most popular saloon, presumably quite aptly named ‘Up the Creek’. This time all seven peacekeepers were also there. I was still determined to get quotes from as many of them as I could, whether about today’s events, or if still reluctant, even when plied with alcoholic beverages, then perhaps of previous encounters with those practicing outside the law, others that they had either brought in to face justice, or dealt their own form of frontier justice to.

It was a rowdy diverse group gathered in the crowded, very loud and smoky tavern, seemingly composed mainly of a bunch of large dirty miners and groups of obnoxious cowboys who, from what I could gather, were from two competing ranches. The noise level, not to mention of smell of that many unwashed bodies in not enough space, resulted in some shoving and angry voices. Expecting the usual level of competitive rivalry between ranches I was surprised at the level of animosity I was overhearing, not to mention a few other batches of dissatisfied individuals. I even heard some disconcerting remarks concerning the admissibility of the ‘darky’ and the ‘indian lover’ into what they obviously felt was their territory, not that this public saloon could in any way be thought of as some sort of private club. Glancing at Larabee, Tanner, and the rest of the Four Corner’s peacekeepers, I could tell from the serious looks on their faces, and the way they quietly kept scanning the other occupants of this fair establishment, that they were all aware of the potential unruly situation. Five of them were seated around a large table; Wilmington was leaning on the bar chatting amiably with not one, but two of the saloon girls, with his arms around both girls’ shoulders. I could tell the rumors that he was quite a hit with the ladies was actually true, and Standish was engaged in yet another poker game, and if the money pile in front of him was any indication, was winning by a fair bit.

One loud voice seemed to boom above the incessant volume and that somehow seemed to catch all of our attention. The din lessened and we turned to see a large man, which I judged to be one of the miners according to his attire, standing at Standish’s table, glaring down at him, and shouting libelously about how Standish must have cheated him. The southern gambler did not stand, nor did he raise his voice overly much, yet I was easily able to hear him calmly defend himself, and with vocabulary not readily understood by the common bystander he also managed to insult his challenger’s intelligence and lack of gaming skills. With a roar the large man leaned over the table and reached across to grab Standish, who stood gracefully and deftly sidestepped him. Further enraged, the furious man started to reach for his gun to find himself facing a large Remington and a small derringer both aimed with deadly accuracy. This standoff might have ended peacefully enough were it not for the immediate bystanders yelling ‘fight, fight’ which seemed to incense the rest of the rowdy bunch who swarmed enmasse towards the poker table, a large proportion of which, based on their loud chanting of ‘hit him, Dutch‘ seemed to be backing Standish’s large opponent.

Unfortunately this rush to view the evening’s entertainment resulted in a minor stampede of too many people vying for the best ‘front row seats’ so to speak. As Dutch turned to see his cheering fans, Standish took advantage of the distraction to nimbly gather not only his winnings but that of the pot as well before he aimed a quick powerful uppercut to Dutch’s jaw that rocked him backwards. He then agilely leapt over the banister behind him onto a staircase leading presumably to upper rooms; the Remington still aimed on the miner and his associates, all the while maintaining his balance when necessary as he used one foot to return anyone attempting to mount the steps to the melee below.

Wilmington had scooped up both girls, easily lifting them over the bar where they disappeared into the room behind. He scanned the crowd then lunged through them to assist young Dunne who appeared to be trying to control the mayhem by attempting to prevent any more proponents from diving into the skirmish on the other side of the saloon.

I, myself was caught up in the crowd moving forward in a crush of arms and elbows, quickly discovering that drunken cowboys and miners are not the most polite of company, most of which took exception to the jostling and soon fists were flying in an out and out brawl. I considered it fortunate, under the circumstances, to find myself shoved backwards into the wall and decided it might be safest to observe from the sidelines.

I glanced around to see Larabee and Tanner literally fighting back to back, small smiles of satisfaction on both faces. Sanchez had his large, meaty hands held tightly in the collars of two ruffians as he swung them off their feet and tossed them one after the other out the saloon’s batwing doors as if they weighed no more than a sack of flour each, while Jackson caught a chair swung in his direction and deftly returned the favor catching his target neatly over the head, causing him to collapse onto the floor where he promptly became a doormat for rapidly fleeing ex-saloon-clientele.

I found myself no longer able to remain an innocent bystander when push came to shove as it were, namely when I found myself shoved roughly into the person next to me I decided, actually more of an instinctual behavior rather than conscious thought, to shove roughly back, and was startled to find myself not only smiling at my small act of aggression, but that it seemed to enervate me. I sought to involve myself more in this brawl as it were, aligning myself of course with the side of the law, specifically the lawmen of Four Corners, as they continued their valiant efforts to curtail the rampant destruction and increasing violence. The sheer volume of the ruckus, or perhaps an uninvolved townsperson, may have alerted Deputy Webb, who’d obviously deserted his post of guarding the jail’s incarcerated inhabitants to push himself against the tide of humanity exiting this once fine establishment as he now entered it. Scanning the crowd he met Larabee’s eyes who nodded and mere seconds later a shot rang out, momentarily suppressing not only the sound, but all movement. As the scene seemed to pause all eyes riveted on the man in black holding his smoking pistol. ‘Everyone out’ was all he said but that was more than enough for most of us to immediately heed his unspoken warning and head quickly, pushing and shoving, through the batwing doors, pouring out into the night, onto the boardwalk and into the street beyond. Larabee, Sanchez, Tanner and Wilmington quickly quashed anyone entertaining any thoughts of continuing the fracas by simply overpowering them and literally throwing them outside. I was one of the last to leave and took a visual survey of the damage, surprised to realize that there were no broken windows, only upturned tables and chairs, of which only a few were broken, although there were lots of broken beer mugs, bottles and copious amounts of spilled alcohol. Rather a waste really, but since there appeared to be only minor injuries I realized that Larabee would have interceded earlier should the need have arisen.

Once outside I saw Jackson helping those few individuals whose injuries may have been more than minor, while Dunne, Sanchez, Deputy Webb and the rest of the seven as I found myself now thinking of them, managed to keep the different factions apart, literally herding groups of them to wherever they were destined to be that night. I caught the back of Wilmington as he disappeared into a small group that included a few women and suspected we wouldn’t be seeing him again this evening.

Caught up in the action and excitement of the adrenaline laden moments, I remained milling with the remaining crowd, most of us battered and bruised if not bleeding. Unable, or unwilling to simply disperse, we chatted animatedly amongst ourselves of the brief but intense brawl we’d found ourselves mainly unwilling participants of, and also of the other two memorable day’s events, until finally, one by one, or in small groups we all headed off to bed, myself to capture all of this latest event; to somehow conjure up all the necessary words in the hope of being able to recapture the scenes; how could mere words produce mental images in the minds of readers to even come close to recreating a possible likeness of today’s events? But I would endeavor to achieve my ambitious goal.

I awoke earlier than usual hoping to perhaps breakfast with one or more members of the eclectic group of lawmen before they left and was dismayed to discover that they had already departed. Although disappointed I decided to stay in this small burg another day to interview witnesses from yesterday’s various events, absolutely determined to amass every possible detail. Combining those with my own observations and adding my own unique flair of course, I’m certain I will be able to provide my publishers with a best seller, larger than the average so called dime novel, perhaps my tale of these exploits could fetch as much as twenty cents per issue.

As is the nature of my current profession I long suspected that Jock Steele, like so many of my compatriots, had vastly exaggerated his narratives. However, having met the Magnificent Seven myself, I regret having cast aspirations on the veracity of his claims. Although our styles differ vastly, Steele preferring to manipulate himself into actually participating in the events as they occur, and myself having been content to be an observer, oftentimes Steele having been more active than would be considered prudent, I now appreciated the appeal of being involved in events as they unfold rather than just being a reporter on the sidelines, or merely hearing about someone else’s exploits and adventures after the fact. After finishing and submitting my new manuscript to my editor I will most certainly adjust my sales route so that my travels will take me through this legendary town of Four Corners where I might be so fortuitous as to witness for myself more of the Magnificent Seven’s adventures as those understated heroes once again save the day.

The End


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