Lady Luck Deals A Hand
Disclaimer: The seven don't belong to me. I'm only saddling them up for a 'ride' or 3. I will return them to MGM, Mirisch, Trilogy and John Watson when I am done. No copyright infringement intended. Written for fun. No profit made.
Category: Gen, some language and violence. Mistreatment of a child.
Summary: Why Ezra P. Standish was in Four Corners before he met the others in the "Ghosts Of The Confederacy."
Author's Notes: Set before and during "GOTC. Some dialogue taken from the actual episode.
Thoughts: denoted by //, dialogue:denoted by \\\ \\\, M7 Trivia: denoted by * *
"Watsonville" belongs to the aforementioned above.
"Magnificent Seven Trivia, A Writer's Guide found at: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~poindexterfamily/MagSevenTrivia.htm
Weapon information provided by Ice Hunter's Mag7 Writer's guide to Firearms. Ice Hunter's Website: http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/7887/Guide/gunguide.html
Thank you to Kristen for naming Ezra's horse.
Feedback: Please, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The big, chestnut gelding rapidly but carefully pranced through the cacti-filled terrain. Chaucer's auburn-haired, emerald-eyed rider controlled the horse's movements with only his sturdily muscled legs. The well-trained gelding had been guided this way numerous times during the war and was used to it. Chaucer was also used to the sound of artillery fire so the gunshots flying about didn't bother him.
Ezra P. Standish's well-defined torso twisted in the saddle as the gambler returned fire on the group following him.
An angry mob of disgruntled cowhands from *Watsonville* were chasing the Southerner because earlier that day Standish had "conned" the townspeople out of committing an injustice against a young black boy scrounging in the alley behind the town's restaurant.
The auburn-haired man had been entering the dining establishment when his sharp ears heard a ruckus in the alley. Ezra had rounded the corner and saw a tableau that had ignited Standish's ire. A thin, barefoot, dirty, hungry-looking, dark-skinned boy clad in faded, torn overalls had been struggling with a big, white heavyset man. Emerald irises narrowed when he noted that the big man's meaty arm had been roughly shaking the boy's slender arm. The boy had cried out that he was just looking through the trash for scraps of food to feed his little brother and sister. The mean man had barked out that he didn't care. The boy and his kind had no right to be around decent folks. Ezra had thought to himself, /Decent folk would help the boy, you big lout not treat him like an animal./
Then the man's free hand backhanded the boy across the face and the boy crashed down into some empty crates. "I'm gonna turn ya in to the sheriff for stealin'." Continued the heavyset man.
Before he knew it, the gambler had stalked further into the alley and his deepened Southern drawl floated across the air. "There you are. Thought you would get away from me so easily did you boy? You were supposed to be taking' care of my horse. Mistah, thank you for catchin' him." The cook had let go of the frightened boy still sitting among the crates and stared at the fancily dressed man. Long, elegant, nimble fingers gently set the boy on his feet and then pretended to drag the lad across the alley. Standish had explained to Charlie, the dazed cook that he, Ezra had come across this boy on the road into the town and hired the kid to brush down his horse when they got into town. 'Peter' had taken off before completing the task, so Ezra had been searching for the 'ungrateful brat' all over town to punish the boy. By now, the Southerner and 'Peter' had reached the mouth of the alley. Ezra's hand had wrapped around the boy's bony shoulder and the boy had quivered under the Southerner's touch. The gambler had nodded to the man in the alley before he had marched 'Peter' off to the livery. The compact man in the red coat had softly told the boy not to be afraid for he; Ezra wouldn't harm the boy. 'Peter' had slumped onto a bale of hay stacked in the big chestnut gelding's stall. Strong hands had rummaged through leather saddlebags, and had finally pulled out some beef jerky, biscuits, a bag of apples plus a canteen of fresh water.
At the same time that he had taken the food out of his saddlebag, Ezra had conversed with the boy finding out the child's real name and the child's history. Samuel was the oldest of three orphaned children. Their parents had died of yellow fever a little over a year ago. A week or so later, a mean-looking man had come and told the children that they couldn't live in their house anymore. The children had been wandering ever since, looking for kinfolk. Samuel thought that there might be some kin of his around the area. Ezra had not had the heart to tell the brave child that the kin, Samuel was searching for might have died or moved away.
Standish spread out the food on an old horse blanket as the lad's stomach growled hungrily. Ezra invited Samuel to share his repast. When the curious boy had asked what repaste was, the Southerner had replied "Would you like to share lunch with me, Samuel?"
Ebony irises stared suspiciously into emerald green ones for a long minute or two.
Ezra had completely understood Samuel's reaction. The gambler knew what it was like to be wary of strangers. Emerald eyes softened when the boy plopped down on the blanket next to him. The duo had been having a wonderful lunch until Harry the livery stable man had spotted them. Harry's eyebrows had almost disappeared into his thinning hairline when he had seen the black boy laughing at the big gelding nibbling on an apple from the boy's upturned palm. The weasel like man had turned around and had run to the sheriff's office. Charlie had been inside the jail, playing checkers with their friend Albert, the deputy.
The sheriff had left that morning to escort a prisoner to Eagle Bend and had left the deputy in charge.
Harry had come in panting for breath and had asked Charlie to tell him once again about the "nigger boy" and the fancy dressed fellow. The cook had then told his friends again. Harry nodded to himself and had said that the dandy was a liar cause the "darkie" didn't look beat up or nothin'. Charlie, Albert and Harry had all been heading back to the livery and had met up with some of their friends in the street and had repeated the story to them. The eight, furious men had stormed the stables to find them empty.
With his peripheral vision, the Southerner had seen the livery man turn and run. Ezra had bundled up some of the spare jerky, biscuits and apples and had given them to Samuel. The red jacket clad man had then whispered to the boy to hide in the hay with the goodies because the bad men were coming. Dark eyes had filled with dread and worry about his new friend.
Jade green eyes had misted when the gambler heard Samuel's concern over him. /How long has it been since someone besides myself actually cared about my welfare?/ had flashed through the mind of the quickly mounted Standish. The man on horseback had only waited long enough for the boy to conceal himself and then Chaucer loped out of the livery.
Ezra had almost made it out of town when he had been seen and an alarm had been shouted.
The auburn-haired man had urged his gelding to go faster when he heard a child yell "No!" and then the sound of a rifle shot. The shot had gone wide and missed the conman.
Standish had whipped around to see Samuel go limp in the deputy's arms. The emerald-eyed man didn't realize it had been because the boy had fainted with relief. Ezra had thought the boy had been wounded or worse and the man had attempted to return to the boy's side but the mob, which had grown in number, had impeded his effort. The gambler froze as he heard one of the men say, "The boy's dead. Deputy..." A loud shot covered the rest of the man's words. "Dead." muttered the gambler as his emerald orbs hardened into jade-colored stone.
Angry men kept shooting at him and the Southerner knew he could be imprisoned or killed like Samuel if he stayed so he galloped away on Chaucer.
Albert had been shocked at the child's ragged appearance and had taken Samuel to his uncle, old doc Magee. Dr. Magee had gently revived the boy and had verbally lashed Albert for frightening the child so badly. "Doc" had ordered Albert to find Samuel's brother and sister and then bring them to the Doc's home. The young deputy had hung his head in shame at his uncle's harsh words and had done the old man's bidding. Doc Magee had tried to soothe the skittish, fearful child when the white-haired old man had told Samuel that his fancy dressed friend had gotten away. Samuel had not known whether to believe the old man or not but then the deputy had arrived with his family. The "Doc" had fed the little ones and had told the children that they could sleep in a warm room with a bed and blankets.
As Chaucer cleared the prickly patch of land and the Southerner outdistanced his pursuers, Ezra let a single tear drop trek down his cheek. /Samuel was dead. The boy got through my walls. I know better than to permit that. It only leads to heartbreak, usually mine. Mother would be appalled that I have become so soft. / Chased themselves across the russet-haired man's mind. Standish wiped his cheek; and vowed not to let anyone or anything break through his defenses again.
Meanwhile, the men chasing Ezra had reached the cacti and both Charlie and Harry had fallen into the cacti, posterior first to the amusement and laughter of the rest of the group. The two embarrassed men couldn't ride when they were finally able to untangle themselves from the plants and had to walk back to Watsonville.
Chaucer rode on through the afternoon, finally trotting onto the noisy main street in another dusty burg.
Ezra needed to acquire more funds in order to re-supply his ammunition and for other necessities.
He had some emergency monies stashed in his left boot which he would use for a stake if he could find a good game of chance in this quaint town.
/There are two saloons in the town./ noted the sharp-eyed auburn-haired man.
*A well-built saloon sat in the middle of the block of main street with a sturdy wooden porch in front and with an elegant set of black bat wing doors leading into its interior. The other saloon was in the corner of the street. A faded "Digger Dan's" was painted on the top of the dilapidated wooden building. Crooked wooden slat bat wing doors led into *Digger's* bar.*
The fancy dressed man saw all of this as he gigged his gelding into the *"C&D Smith Livery & Feed"* The pampered chestnut horse, Chaucer took an instant liking to *"Tiny" the livery stable man.* The conman inquired what the name of the town was from the stable man. *Tiny* responded that they were in *Four Corners.* Standish nodded and intently observed the large man's interaction with his mount. After several minutes, the gambler was satisfied that his chestnut gelding was in good hands. A gold-toothed grin dimpled his cheeks as the russet-haired man went to find accommodations for himself and then hopefully find a game of chance in either of the saloons this evening.
On his way out of the stables, Ezra sidestepped some cowboys bringing their boss *"Mr. Fallon"* in to see the doctor whose clinic was above the livery.
Emerald orbs glanced longingly at the *Gem hotel* across the street from the elegant looking saloon. Ezra planned on having enough money to reside at the *Gem* tomorrow. Today the compact man' s strides took him to *Virginia's Hotel.* Further up the street.
Once he acquired a room, he deposited the saddlebags in the room and then headed out for the saloons.
Two old men sitting in the chairs on the porch in front of the newer-looking saloon told the fancy dressed man that the saloon was closed for remodeling but that it should open up again by the end of the week. Ezra was disappointed but didn't let it show in either his demeanor or facial expression. Standish's Southern drawl thanked the gentlemen for the information and walked over to the corner saloon. Jade green irises peeked into *Digger Dan's* and was greeted with the sight of a couple of miners and two other men having a drink. The bald-headed barkeep looked up as Ezra entered. The auburn-haired man asked for a whiskey. He sipped it as he took a look around the bar.
One of the older, dust-covered cowboys near the Southerner mentioned that the place would likely be full up tonight and tomorrow since the cattle drivers from Texas would be getting paid shortly.
Ezra's eyes lit up and he lingered over his drink. The astute and observant man studied all the cowhands and other men entering the saloon during the next hour. Standish joined a game of poker that was just beginning. Lady Luck was a fickle companion that evening and Ezra barely broke even by the time he retired from the table in the early morning hours.
It was nearing noon the next day by the time the Southerner awoke. He dressed in his pressed black pants, white shirt with ruffled cuffs, dark burgundy vest to which he attached his gold-chained pocket watch and then he put on his favorite red jacket. The gambler finished his attire by putting on his dark boots and then his stylish, black hat.
Ezra sauntered to *Digger Dan's* which was teeming with humanity. Today's crowd was different from yesterdays and they were all abuzz about what happened this morning. Two men had saved the dark-skinned 'healer' from being lynched by some liquored up cowhands. The cowboys had wanted to hang Nathan Jackson because they had thought that the 'darkie' had let their boss, *Mr. Fallon die. Nathan could not have helped the man. *Mr. Fallon* had gangrene throughout his body but the drunken men didn't believe the healer when Jackson told them that.
"Standish sadly thought of Samuel and how the young boy would never have a chance to become a healer. He shook off his melancholy thoughts and sat down at the table to join the game of chance already in progress. Listening with half an ear to the stories as several hands of poker were played. Drinks had been flowing and the players were still talking about the marksmanship of the black-clad gunslinger and the buffalo hunter.
The conversation led to a wager between an old grizzled cowboy and the gambler. Ezra and the gray-haired man bet on which one of them could shoot the center of a playing card tacked to the middle of the dartboard. The older cowboy shot first and hit the King of Hearts dead center.
*Riding by the saloon as the gunshot rang out were Buck, Chris, Vin and Nathan. Chris and Vin looked at one another. Larabee nodded. The four men dismounted and entered the saloon.
Nathan, Vin, Chris and Buck strolled up to the bar and angled their bodies to face the gaming tables. The older man strode to the dartboard, took the card down and then returned to the table telling the fancy dressed man, \\\"Dead Center. He, he, he... let's see you beat that."\\\ Ezra had one boot-clad foot on the table and he sprawled drunkenly in his chair. The gambler finished his glass of whiskey and set it down. Standish swayed slightly as he gained his feet, knocking a bottle off of the table. A red clad arm shooed the cowboy to one side and said \\\"Stand aside sir; you are obstructing my view."\\\
Emerald green eyes seemed unfocused and Standish sighed. \\\This should be a piece of cake. \\\ when the russet-haired man took aim at the dartboard his boot rolled on the discarded bottle on the floor and the gambler's shot hit a stuffed bird mounted on the wall behind the bar. The bird fell into the barkeep's hands. The cowboy at the gambler's side ducked. The Southerner re-holstered the Remington into the "handsome, carved, light- russet-brown gunbelt worn slung low to gun side" around his hips. Ezra's opponent said \\\Pay up.\\\ Standish then replied \\\"Nonsense. I was encumbered by the debris on the floor."\\\ and then downed another shot of whiskey before taking out another gun from his shoulder rig. The cowboy told the fancy dressed man to try again. \\\"With pleasure. Double or nothing."\\\ Commented the Southerner. The old cowboy thought he had nothing to lose so he grabbed some money off of the table and placed it on the bar as he said \\\"Its your money. Get ready to duck boys.\\\ The chestnut-haired man raised his arm. With a steady aim and eye, Ezra shot the Ace of Spades dead center six times.
Chris cocked his head slightly while he and the others watched from the bar. The bartender stared at the playing card then exclaimed, \\\"He put all six in the same hole."\\\
\\\"My, my... how astonishing. I've never done that before."\\\ grinned Ezra as he put up his weapon. A few strides took the fancy dressed man to the bar where the cowboy had placed the money. Standish was going to pick up the monies when a large bowie knife pierced the currency. Ezra's opponent suspected that he had been conned. \\\"You sure sobered up quickly, Mister.\\\ drawled the cowboy. As the bowie was pressed to his chest, Ezra said, \\\Must be the desert air.\\\ The older man backed Ezra up, brandishing the knife by Ezra's emerald orbs. \\\"We don't take kindly to being hustled. Let's see how good you can shoot with one eye."\\\ threatened the loser of the bet.
Ezra glanced at the man and then around the saloon. He was not going to let what happened in *Watsonville* happen here. He would stand his ground and defend himself.
Meanwhile at the bar, Vin pulled back his tan coat, Chris's hand moved restlessly by his duster pocket and Buck tensed by Chris's shoulder.
The gambler let fly a punch to the man's stomach then using the cowboy's bowie knife the gambler cut the rope supporting a beam from the ceiling causing the beam to swing down and scatter some of the hostile crowd.
Turning his back on his opponent, Ezra walked over to the bar to gather the money and told the barkeep, \\\Sorry for the mess.\\\ There was no reply from the bartender. The bartender ducked behind the bar when the cowboy behind Ezra drew a gun to shoot the gambler in the back. Ezra saw the man's movement in the cracked mirror behind the bar when the barkeep moved. Standish palmed his derringer. His gun hand whipped underneath his other arm and fired behind his back. Jade green eyes used the mirror to aim and shot the gun out of the other man's hand. One of Ezra's hands picked up the money on the bar while the other hand kept the crowd at bay with the derringer. The cowhand growled, \\\"You only got one shot left in that popgun."\\\ \\\"Well, then... you best discuss amongst yourselves which one of you is going to die."\\\drawled Ezra as he stepped past Vin.
Vin's raspy, \\\"Nice shot, pard"\\\ had the Southern answering without taking his eyes off of the riled up cowhands. \\\"Dreadful. I was aiming to kill him but the... mirror was cracked."\\\ Ezra backpedaled a few more steps when Chris's quiet \\\"First shot was louder than the other five."\\\ Stopped Ezra. Emerald green eyes briefly met hazel eyes then Ezra looked away while he asked, \\\"What are you attempting to suggest?"\\\ Larabee's response was a straightforward; \\\"First bullet was real. The rest were blanks."\\\ The Southerner gazed at the blond gunslinger then looked away and said, \\\"Well, sir... I abhor gambling and as such, leave nothing to chance."\\\ Chris made the offer of \\\"We're looking for guns to protect an Indian village. You interested?"\\\ \\\"Who's financing?"\\\ Questioned Ezra. The gunslinger's long fingers pulled out a nugget of gold and rested it on his upturned palm while he replied \\\"The village. Five dollars a man."\\\ Jade irises glanced incredulously at the nugget then up at the blond. The fancy-dressed man smiled a bit mockingly when he responded,\\\"Five dollars... wouldn't even pay for my bullets."\\\ Standish had noted Nathan next to Vin and asked the black-clad blond \\\"Would, uh... would he be riding with you?\\\ Nathan stiffened up and bristled slightly. At Chris's nod, the Southerner continued, \\\"Not interested."\\\ Vin Tanner spoke up again, \\\"Reckon you should be leaving town anyway." \\\ Standish stared at the buffalo hunter for a moment then stared at the other hostile cowhands in the saloon. /Perhaps I have outstayed my welcome. / Thought the gambler. Standish looked again at the gold in Chris's hand while he said, \\\"I'll sleep on it."\\\ The lean, blond man smiled a knowing half smile, pocketed the gold and told the gambler, \\\"Meet us at the livery at dawn if you live that long."\\\ Then the gunslinger turned his back away from Ezra and Standish continued to backpedal to the saloon's bat wing doors.
Ezra overheard the dark-skinned man's question to the man in black and it stung. \Would he always be thought of as a cheater? He didn't cheat often... He didn't have to. Ezra lived as he had been taught. Was that so wrong? /sped through the russet-haired man's mind as he backed out of the bar. *
He ate a quiet supper at the restaurant and then the gambler had repacked his saddlebags and stuffed his boot with his emergency rations. By mid-evening, he had rented a room at the *Gem Hotel. * Once in his new room, Ezra pulled out a dog-eared deck of playing cards from his vest pocket and expertly shuffled the deck for a game of Solitaire. As he played, Ezra wrestled with his conscious all night. \Should he go with the gunslinger and the others? How would he work among? What would he do? Could they respect him for it? His own mother didn't respect him, so how could he expect four strangers to do so? Five dollars to defend an Indian village? Should he use his talents to help others instead of using them to defraud others? His mother would scoff at the very notion of he, Ezra helping others. He had tried to help Samuel and look what happened. / Chided the green-eyed man's thoughts. Earlier in the saloon, Nathan had reminded Standish of how Samuel would never have the opportunity to grow up and become a 'healer.' That thought had saddened and angered the gambler and was part of the reason why he had refused the gunslinger earlier. Another part of the reason was that he was exhausted from the war. The Southerner carried physical, emotional and mental scars as many men did but the auburn-haired man didn't know if he was willing to charge into battle again so soon.
Ezra slept fitfully, dreaming of the past...dreaming of Samuel, hearing the young boy's plea to help defend the Indian children...to change their lives as the Southerner had changed his. Samuel's Mr. Ezra...You're a good man." Ringing in his ears when the gambler woke up before dawn.
Ezra was still ambivalent about whether he should join the gunslinger and the others. He decided to get a decent cup of coffee and the newspaper. It was always wise to be knowledgeable about the world around you.
The red jacketed gambler drank his coffee and then collected a paper from the *Clarion Newspaper Office. * He read the front page and his steps led him to the livery.
/The gunslinger was Chris Larabee? The gambler had heard of the lethal gunman and how the blond had become so proficient. The man who had lost his family in a fire? The blond had some serious demons to deal with and he was still willing to help the Indian village? If the blond could help, somehow so can I. I can also atone for Samuel's death. / Whirled through the russet-haired man's head.
Ezra quickly mounted his gelding and trotted over to join the group behind the livery. He saw a young ebony-haired boy pitch head first into a water trough after announcing that he could shoot. Standish laughingly added, \\\"And he can fly.\\\ The boy chased his run away horse as a mounted Chris Larabee stated, \\\"You made it."\\\ Holding Chaucer's reins with one hand, Ezra replied, \\\"Hell, I couldn't stay away not once I saw I'd be riding with a genuine celebrity... \\\ The gambler read from the newspaper headline, \\\"The streets ran red with the blood of 20 men yesterday as new resident and notorious gunslinger Chris Larabee turned our quiet town into a shooting gallery."\\\ Larabee's black gelding nudged Ezra's chestnut horse as the Southerner handed over the paper to the black-clad man. After a brief delay when the blond gunslinger spoke to the newspaper owner/editor, Ezra, Vin, Chris, Buck and Nathan rode out of town. They rode by the ruins of the church to find the ex-preacher Josiah Sanchez waiting for them. When Nathan asked Sanchez why he'd changed his mind and was riding out with them, the big man answered because of the omen of crows he had seen. When asked what the crows symbolized, Josiah responded with \\\"Death...Probably mine."\\\ Ezra tipped his hat and said, \\\"Well, well, a sense of humor. I look forward to many lively conversations."\\\ Josiah tipped his own hat in return and mounted up. JD Dunne, the eastern young man who wanted to join Chris Larabee and the others followed the group at a distance.
Lady Luck smiled as seven men rode into Destiny.
If you enjoyed this story, we're sure that GemsPegasus would love to hear from you.
HOME | GEMSPEGASUS' FIC | TITLES | AUTHORS | UNIVERSES
This website is maintained by Donna and Barb
with corrections and additions