The Adventures Of A Mid-Life Crisis In The Old West
by Jean Williams and Christy
Sadly Jean is no longer with us, but we're sure her daughter, Jenn, and Christy would love to hear from you if you enjoy this story
Disclaimer: Ah, if only they were mine, but, alas, they're not. Unfortunately, the privilege of ownership of "The Magnificent Seven" characters belongs to the Mirisch Corp., Trilogy, and MGM, and no infringement on the copyrights held by them is intended. I merely wish to dust the boys off and bring them out to play occasionally for the entertainment of those of us who still miss them dearly.
Jean's Notes: This story was co-written with my friend Christy and was born from a series of 'what if' messages that we had sent back and forth. Once we finally thought we had come up with enough ideas for a hopefully humorous look at an episode in the lives of Ezra, his 'dear' mother Maude, and the rest of the Seven, we started writing. I penned about the first two-thirds of the story and then turned it over to Christy so she could finish it up. We hope you have as much fun reading our little tale as we did writing it.
Completed on July 22, 1999
Maude was beginning to think her idea of visiting Ezra right now was a mistake. The stage ride had been hot and uncomfortable and seemed to be taking forever. She didn't remember it as being this long the last time she visited, but then again she hadn't been as miserable and uncomfortable as she was now. She fanned herself continually, trying to forestall the hot flashes that kept washing over her. Her doctor in St. Louis had told her it was all perfectly natural for a woman her age. Humph... a woman her age... she couldn't possibly be old enough for this to be happening. He had warned her about other side effects she would be experiencing, but so far the hot flashes were the only ones she'd noticed... thank goodness... they were bad enough as it was.
She had thought maybe a visit to her son would take her mind off all this change of life nonsense, but so far it had just made it worse. Hopefully, things would be better when she finally arrived in Four Corners. A nice visit with Ezra, a few games of poker, and she'd be right as rain again. Now if they would just hurry up and get there so that she could get out of this miserably hot stagecoach.
Ezra paced back and forth in front of the saloon. Lord, now why was Mother coming to town? Another attempt to get him to go back to St. Louis with her he supposed. She definitely did not approve of his new job as peacekeeper for the town and, she approved of his friends even less. Oh, she was nice enough to them when she was here, but that was only for appearances. She had told him countless times that he could do so much better than living here, risking his life with a bunch of ruffians, which was how she constantly referred to the other six men.
Well, he'd find out soon enough. The stage was due to arrive in town within the hour.
Maude glanced at the nice young couple who were the only other occupants of the coach. My... she hadn't noticed when they'd first gotten on how handsome the young man was... maybe this was the distraction she needed to get her through this interminable ride. She struck up a conversation with the couple, focusing on the husband with an intensity that surprised even herself.
By the time they finally arrived in Four Corners, Maude was leaning forward showing quite an indecent amount of cleavage, patting the young man's leg as she talked. The couple hurried off the stage as soon as it came to a halt, almost knocking Ezra over in their haste to get away from Maude. Ezra stared after them, wondering what could possibly have caused the frantic looks on their faces, then turned and looked suspiciously at his mother as he helped her down from the coach.
"Ezra darlin', how are you?" Maude greeted her son with a hug and a kiss.
"Fine, Mother." He gave her a peck on the cheek and reached up for the first of her many pieces of luggage.
Chris, Vin, and JD were sitting in front of the jail talking when the stage pulled up. It was obvious Maude was on the stage considering the mountain of luggage that was piled on top.
"Poor old Ezra. Two visits from Maude in one month... I don't know if his nerves'll be able to handle another one." Vin laughed, remembering the last time she'd come to town. Ezra'd thought he'd gotten her married off and out of his hair, but she'd run out on the wedding at the last minute.
"You gotta admit one thing though, it's never boring when she's in town," Chris said as he watched Maude come around the end of the stage and head in their direction.
The three men smiled at Maude as she approached, and JD jumped up and offered her his seat.
"Nonsense, JD... sit back down there. I'm sure Mr. Larabee won't mind if I share his." And while Chris froze in shock, she plopped herself in his lap. She put her arms around him and leaned over to delicately sniff his neck. "My you smell good... what kind of aftershave is that you're wearing?"
Chris just stared at her, unable to answer. His mind was trying to come to terms with the fact that Maude Standish... Ezra's mother... was sitting in his lap with her face buried in his neck!
Maude didn't even seem to notice that he hadn't answered her as her focus switched to Vin, who was sitting in the chair next to Chris.
"And how have you been, Vin? Well I hope," Maude asked as she reached over and placed her hand on his leg.
Vin's jaw dropped as he felt her hand squeezing his leg, and it was all he could do to answer her.
"Um... fine, ma'am... just fine."
Maude nodded at him and swivelled her head to look at JD who promptly jumped up, and mumbling some excuse about wanted posters, practically ran down the street and into the telegraph office.
Once Ezra managed to balance all the luggage in his arms, he turned to ask Maude if she was ready, but she was nowhere to be seen. He staggered around the end of the stagecoach, looked across the street to see if his mother had gone on ahead to the hotel, and promptly dropped the luggage. Maude was across the street in front of the jail... sitting in Chris Larabee's lap!
Ezra gathered the luggage back up and carried it over to where Maude was still perched on the gunslinger's lap, her hand still resting on Vin's leg. Ezra took in the stunned looks on his friends' faces, and his own reddened in embarrassment.
"Mother, what in heaven's name are you doing?" Ezra asked.
"Just sitting here talking with your friends. And why haven't you taken my luggage to the hotel yet?" Maude frowned at him and slowly removed herself from Chris's lap. "Sorry, gentlemen... I guess I have to take my inconsiderate son and lead him to the hotel. I'll see y'all later, I promise." And with a suggestive wink, turned and headed down the boardwalk, aggressively swinging her hips to and fro.
Ezra stared after her in amazement and then looked at his friends. They were both staring at him as if waiting for some explanation for his mother's bizarre behavior. He opened his mouth... but then just closed it again, and with a confused shake of his head, gathered up the luggage and followed slowly after Maude.
Chris looked at Vin, and after a moment, said, "What the hell just happened?"
Vin stared at Maude's retreating figure and slowly shook his head. "Damned if I know."
Ezra struggled to get all the bags through Maude's door and dropped them on the floor, flexing his cramped fingers as he stared curiously at his mother. She was flinging open the windows and frantically removing her cloak and hat at the same time.
"Mother... are you all right?" he asked as she flung herself on the edge of the bed and began fanning herself.
"Why, of course I am, son... it's just warm in here, that's all." Maude continued to fan herself, desperately trying to cool her overheated body. She patted the bed beside her and said, "Sit down here, Ezra, and tell me how you've been."
Ezra cautiously sat down and looked closely at her, taking in her flushed face and rapid breathing. "Are you sure you're not ill? You look like you might be feverish."
"I'm fine, Ezra... just a little overheated and tired from that long stage ride." She sat beside him for a few minutes, not really saying anything.
Suddenly she jumped up, startling Ezra and grabbed his arm, ushering him to the door and out into the hall. "Why don't you wait for me downstairs while I freshen up, son... and then you can escort me to dinner and we'll have a nice long talk."
And before Ezra could react, she slammed the door in his face. He stood staring at the door in bewilderment, totally confused by Maude's erratic behavior. He reached for the doorknob, hesitated, and then changed his mind and let his hand drop to his side. Ezra decided it might be better to wait and talk to her over dinner. Maybe a hot meal for her and a few good stiff drinks for himself would make it easier to discuss what was troubling her... at least he sincerely hoped so.
Ezra sat in the lobby of the hotel, idly twirling his hat as he waited for Maude to join him. He wished she would hurry, it was getting late and he was getting hungry. He was also anxious to talk to her about her behavior since she'd arrived in town... there was obviously something wrong and he was determined to get her to tell him what it was.
"I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, son. You must be starved by now," Maude said as she descended the stairs.
'Finally' Ezra thought as he placed his hat on his head and moved toward her. "It's about time, I'm..." Ezra's words stuck in his throat as he raised his head and came face to face with Maude's indecently exposed bosom. She was wearing a deep purple dress that was cut so low it left absolutely nothing to the imagination.
Maude watched as Ezra's face slowly began to match the color of her dress and saw the horrified look in his eyes when he looked up at her. "Why whatever's wrong, dear?"
"Mother... you aren't... you can't possibly..." Ezra stammered, as he looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. Then he turned and looked at Maude's face, anything to keep his eyes away from the sight of his mother's abundant cleavage. He couldn't believe it... she had a look of total confusion on her face. "I'll wait while you go change into something more... appropriate."
"More appropriate? What's wrong with what I have on?" Maude looked down and then back at Ezra.
"What's wrong with it?! For heaven's sake, Mother... your... it's..." Ezra sighed in exasperation and leaned forward to whisper, "It's indecent, Mother. Your... um... bosoms are showing."
"Well, of course they are, son," Maude agreed as she took Ezra's arm and began to lead him out of the hotel. "There's nothing wrong with a woman showing a little cleavage. Now come along, I'm really very hungry, and I was hoping to get in a poker game or two after dinner."
"A 'little' cleavage?! I've never..." He stopped suddenly as he realized she was heading for the street. "Where are you going? I thought we were dining here at the hotel?"
"Oh, Ezra... it's too stuffy and quiet. I'd rather go to the saloon where your friends are... maybe they'd like to join us for dinner." And with that statement, she proceeded to drag Ezra out of the hotel and down the street to the saloon.
Ezra was too surprised to offer any resistance, and had to practically run to keep up with her as she hurried down the boardwalk.
Chris, Buck, JD, and Nathan had just ordered their meals when Maude burst through the doors, dragging Ezra behind her. She spotted the four men and releasing her grip on Ezra's arm, rushed over to their table. The men stared, open-mouthed, as she grabbed a chair, squeezed it in between Buck and JD, and planted big, wet kisses on both of their cheeks before she sat down.
"Hello, boys... we thought we'd join you for dinner. Well, sit down Ezra... don't just stand there with your mouth hanging open," Maude said when she noticed he was still standing where she'd left him by the doors. Ezra slowly walked over and sat down next to Nathan, looking sheepishly around the table at the other men. Every one of them was trying to keep their shocked eyes away from the sight of Maude's ample bosom. Chris was scowling at him as if Maude's behavior was his fault... Buck was still smiling at Maude, but his eyes shot a questioning look at Ezra as if to ask him what the heck was going on... and JD just sat and stared desperately around the room, his eyes opened wide in shock and his face red with embarrassment. Finally Ezra turned his gaze on Nathan and saw the healer studying Maude carefully and made a mental note to himself to talk to him later. Maybe he would be able to enlighten him as to the cause of his mother's bizarre behavior. Just then his eyes caught a fleeting glimpse of Vin as he started through the bat-wing doors. The tracker took one look at Maude sitting between Buck and JD, made a quick u-turn, and ran out of the saloon.
"Why, hello Inez... how is the business going?" Maude asked when the young woman came over to give the men more coffee and take Maude and Ezra's orders.
"Excellent, Mrs..." Inez froze as she looked at the other woman and saw the outrageously indecent dress she was wearing.
"Yow!!! Inez!" Chris yelled as he jumped up, hot coffee running off the table and into his lap.
Inez looked down and saw the coffee spilling everywhere and quickly jerked the pot back up. She'd been so shocked by Maude's appearance, she'd completely overflowed Chris's cup.
"Oh... I am so sorry, Senor Chris..." Inez grabbed a towel off the bar and began to clean up the mess she'd made. She jumped aside when Maude snatched the towel out of her hands and reached across Buck to wipe at the coffee that was soaking into the front of Chris's pants. Buck's face turned bright red, and he shot his gaze quickly to the ceiling to avoid staring at Maude's exposed breasts which were now right under his nose. JD took advantage of the woman's attentions to Chris to make his get away... leaping out of his chair and running out of the saloon. Chris looked down at Maude and then over at Ezra, who plunked his elbows on the table and slowly lowered his head into his hands, totally humiliated by his mother's actions.
Chris backed quickly out of her reach before she embarrassed them both. "That's all right, Maude... I'll just go on home and change. Don't worry about it." And shooting one last glare at Ezra's bowed head, hurried out of the saloon.
Maude sat back in her chair, and Buck breathed a sigh of relief as he looked back down at the others. He saw Ezra staring down at the table, head in his hands and started to smile at the gambler's obvious discomfort, but the smile froze on his face as he felt Maude place her hand on his leg. He shot another quick look at Ezra to see if he was watching, and then glanced over at Maude. She winked at him and squeezed his leg, slid her hand a little farther up and squeezed again. Buck looked at her and smiled, becoming aroused in spite of himself. 'She is a damn fine looking woman' he thought and then glanced back across the table and saw Ezra scowling at him. The thought of the gambler's reaction to him even thinking of doing anything with his mother was enough to make Buck slide out of his chair and out from under Maude's roaming hand. He glanced apologetically at Ezra and mumbled something about going to find JD as he hurried out of the saloon.
"Good bye, Buck!" Maude called after him, waggling her fingers at him when he glanced back at her. "Well, it looks like it'll be just the three of us for dinner."
Nathan had just taken a swallow of coffee when Maude turned and focused her attention on him. His eyes widened in surprise when he saw the strange gleam in hers, and he hurriedly slapped his cup back down on the table and stood up.
"Sorry, ma'am... Ezra... but I've got a... um... patient back in the clinic that I need to see to." He gave Ezra a look of sympathy and left.
Ezra glanced at his mother just in time to see her winking at the elderly gentleman sitting at the next table. "Mother... will you stop!" he whispered as the man smiled widely at Maude.
"Ezra... whatever is wrong with you... you've done nothing but scowl and grumble at me since I got to town. You almost act like you're not glad to see me," Maude complained as she looked at him in confusion. She had no idea why her son was acting this way, but she was definitely getting tired of it.
"Mother... I..." Ezra looked down at the table, trying to think of a way to approach the subject of her lascivious behavior without angering her. "You're behavior since..." He stopped in mid-sentence when he looked up and found Maude gone. Frantically his eyes scanned the saloon. He groaned as he spotted her at a table in the corner, surrounded by men, laughing and dealing out cards. He rose to go get her, but decided maybe it was safer to let her have her poker game and just keep an eye on her. It might at least keep her occupied for the evening, and hopefully she would get so involved in fleecing the men, that she would forget about flirting with them.
Ezra sighed, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a glass from the bar, and settled himself at a table close enough to Maude to be able to hear and see what she was doing. He pulled out his deck of cards and began a game of solitaire, keeping one eye on his mother as he played. 'Lord, will this day never end!' he thought as he slumped in his chair and poured himself a drink.
He'd been sitting there for hours and had given up on solitaire and was just idly shuffling his cards, staring off into space. Suddenly some of what they were saying at the next table began to sink into his subconscious, and he whipped his head around to stare at his mother.
"Well, I'll bet you my silk stockings," Maude said as she laughingly reached under the table and began pulling her dress up.
Ezra leaped out of his chair, overturning it, and hurried over to his mother's table.
"All right, Mother... that's enough! I think it's time you retired for the evening. You must be exhausted after your long stage ride this morning. Come along." And before she could even utter a protest, Ezra had scooped her winnings into her bag, grabbed her arm, and dragged her out of the saloon.
"Ezra Standish... you let go of me this instant!" Maude exclaimed as she struggled to pull her arm out of his grip. But when he turned his face to her, she quickly subsided... she couldn't remember ever having seen him quite that angry.
Ezra led her through the hotel and up to her room and stood in front of the door until she unlocked it and stepped inside. She turned to try to speak to him again, but stopped when she saw his scowling face.
"Get a good night's rest, Mother... and we'll talk about this in the morning." Ezra stared until she finally backed up and closed the door. He turned and slowly started making his way back to his room over the saloon, praying he didn't run into any of his friends along the way. The thought of facing them after the way Maude had practically attacked them all was more than he was able to handle right then.
Ezra entered his room, closed the door and wearily began to get ready for bed. He removed his coat and hat, unstrapped his various guns and carefully set them on the dresser, and then laid across his bed, simply too tired to finish undressing. It was only 10:30, much too early for the gambler to retire, but the effort of dealing with Maude all day had exhausted him. He was asleep almost immediately.
Ezra awoke suddenly and sat up on the edge of the bed. He pulled his pocket watch out and stared at it, trying to focus his bleary eyes on it. Midnight. He'd only been asleep a little over an hour. He looked around the room, trying to figure out what had woken him. He had a vague recollection of hearing someone yelling "yoooooo hooooo"... Ezra shook his head and decided he must have been having a strange dream. But it had seemed so darn real. Since he was awake anyway, he decided to go check on his mother, just to be on the safe side.
Vin had stayed in his wagon most of the evening trying to avoid any contact with Maude. One glimpse at the scene in the saloon was enough to convince him it was safer to just stay away from her. He had just started to drift off to sleep when he heard her... at least it sounded like her... although he had no idea why Maude would be going around calling "yoooooo hooooo". Vin eased his head over the end of the wagon and peeked out at the street. He didn't see anything at first, but then he saw her come out of the alley by the saloon... headed right for his wagon! "Oh... damn..." he mumbled as he reached up and closed the flap on the wagon, hurrying to get it secured before she got there. He jumped and almost fell when she suddenly knocked on the side of the wagon.
"Mr. Tanner... Vin? Are you awake?" Maude frowned in consternation... she thought sure she'd seen that flap open when she'd first come out of the alley.
Vin froze, not daring to hardly breathe for fear that she would realize he was awake. Finally, he heard her mumble something and move away from the wagon. He waited a few minutes then cautiously raised the flap just enough to look out. Maude was striding back down the street toward the saloon and was almost to the entrance when Vin saw her suddenly dart down the alley beside the building. He couldn't figure out what she was doing until he saw Ezra come walking out of the saloon. Vin watched him look around the street and then head in the direction of the hotel. As soon as he was out of sight, Maude darted back out of the alley and into the saloon. Vin shook his head, feeling sorry for poor Ezra. It would be a miracle if the gambler survived Maude's visit this time.
Ezra hurried up the stairs to Maude's room and knocked on the door. "Mother?" he waited a few minutes and then tried the knob, frowning when it turned easily in his hand. He glanced inside, saw that his mother wasn't in her bed and turned and slammed back out of the room.
"I swear... I'm loading her on the next stage back to St. Louis..." Ezra mumbled as he stomped back down the stairs, ignoring the startled clerk behind the desk.
Meanwhile back in the saloon, Maude had spotted Buck standing at the bar talking to Inez. She walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder, spinning the tall man around effortlessly and locking her lips on his. Inez just stared in shock as Maude ground herself against Buck who was trying desperately to push the woman away.
"Now... easy there, ma'am..." Buck gasped, finally managing to pry Maude off and moving out of her reach. "What if Ezra walked in here?... he'd shoot me for sure."
Maude frowned at the mention of her son. "Oh, he's just an old poop anyway... he can't stand to see me enjoying myself with his friends. Who cares what he thinks."
Buck side-stepped her as she moved in to put her arms around him again. "Well, I do, ma'am... I have to live here and work with him. I sure don't want him thinkin' I was after his mama."
"Don't tell me you're an old poop too, Buck... a big, strong, virile young man like you," Maude purred as she inched closer to him.
Buck looked to Inez for help, saw she was too busy trying not to laugh, and started backing around the bar towards the door leading out into the alley. "No, I'm not and old poop... but there's just some lines you don't cross... and messin' with a friend's mama is sure one of 'em."
Buck saw the glint in her eye and turned and ran out the door, Maude hot on his heels.
Ezra stood on the boardwalk in front of the hotel, his eyes scanning the street for any sign of Maude. Spotting Josiah standing in front of the church, he hurried over.
"Josiah... you haven't seen my mother by any chance, have you?" Ezra asked, as he took in the preacher's disheveled appearance and look of confusion and realized he must have just gotten out of bed.
"Um... no, Ezra... I haven't," Josiah mumbled while looking up and down the street. "Did you hear something a minute ago... a strange noise... kind of sounded like loons calling across a distant lake."
Ezra thought back to the vague memory he'd had upon awakening of someone yelling yoooooo hooooo' and got a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. "No... it must have just been the wind."
Josiah scratched his head and walked back into the church as Ezra hurried down the street in search of his mother, thinking 'what in heaven's name did I do to deserve this'.
Maude had lost sight of Buck as he turned a corner into the darkness and, after some searching, had decided to give up and return to her room. Exhaustion had finally set in from the trip and she blew out the lamp, climbed into bed without even undressing, and was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Nathan had just returned from checking on a young woman who was close to her birthing time, and had seen Maude walk into the hotel. He'd stayed in the shadows of the clinic, hoping she wouldn't turn and spot him and had sighed with relief when she'd entered the hotel without even looking around. Just as he started up the stairs to the clinic, he heard Ezra calling his name and stopped to wait as the gambler hurried down the street toward him.
"Mr. Jackson, you didn't happen to see my mother tonight, did you?" Ezra asked as he approached the healer.
"Yeah... I just saw her goin' in the hotel a few minutes ago." He stared at the harried expression Ezra had on his face and put his hand on the gambler's arm. "Have you talked to your mama about her... um... problem?"
Ezra stared at him, wondering if he knew what her problem was, but not knowing how to ask. "Um... well... not exactly..." he said and then decided he needed to talk to someone about this whole mess with his mother and asked, "Could you enlighten me as to the... er... nature of her problem?"
Nathan looked at his friend's face, reddened with embarrassment, and knew how hard it was for him to even admit his mother had a problem. "Well... seems to me she's actin' like she might be goin' through her change."
Ezra looked at him curiously. "Her change?" He thought for a minute and then his mouth dropped open in shock. "Her change!? Change of life? Mother?"
"Well, she's at the right age fer it... and an.... um... increased sexual appetite is one of the symptoms of it accordin' to the medical books I've read," Nathan explained to the bewildered man.
"How long does this... er... change... usually last?" Ezra asked, looking down at the ground, totally humiliated to be discussing this kind of thing with the healer.
"Oh, it's different for each woman, I reckon. It could last days, weeks... I guess even months," Nathan answered and had to hold back a chuckle at the horrified expression on Ezra's face.
"Months..." he whispered, aghast at the thought of his mother remaining in her present condition for months. "Oh, good Lord... isn't there anything you could give her?"
"'Fraid not, Ezra... she'll just have to let it run its course... sorry," Nathan told him, wishing he could give him some kind of hope for a quick end to his ordeal.
"Thanks anyway, Mr. Jackson," Ezra answered as he glanced up at his mother's window. Seeing the light go out, he sighed and slowly made his way back toward the saloon.
Nathan watched him walk away, none of the usual swagger in his step... and hoped for his sake that Maude went back to St. Louis soon.
The next morning Ezra made his way slowly down to the saloon, walked over to the table where his friends all sat, and flopped in the chair they had waiting for him.
"Gosh, Ezra... did you get any sleep at all last night? You look terrible!" JD asked as he took in the dark circles under Ezra's eyes and the way the gambler just kind of slumped in his chair.
"Not really, Mr. Dunne... I was up quite late looking for..." Ezra stopped suddenly and groaned when he saw Maude walk through the doors.
The other men looked up to see what was wrong, followed his gaze, and seeing Maude headed in their direction, echoed his groan.
"Good morning, gentlemen... mind if I join you," Maude asked, kissing Ezra lightly on the cheek as he stood to get her a chair.
"Good morning, Mother... did you sleep well?" Ezra asked a bit sarcastically, but he was at least happy to see that she was dressed a little more appropriately this morning.
"Yes, I did, dear... much better than you it seems," Maude answered as she took in his haggard appearance, knowing and regretting that it was probably her fault he looked the way he did.
Ezra frowned, but decided not to mention that she was the reason he hadn't slept. After all, she did seem a bit better this morning. At least she hadn't attacked any of his friends yet, and he was eternally grateful for that. He just wasn't up to dealing with that whole situation this early in the day.
The other six men watched Maude guardedly, ready to run at the first wink or touch of her hand... but she merely sat beside her son and enjoyed her breakfast, contributing occasionally to their quiet conversation with a remark or question.
Josiah watched Maude closely, finding it hard to believe that this was the same woman his friends had described as being on a sexual rampage yesterday. He knew they wouldn't make it all up, and Ezra's trip through the streets last night in search of her and his exhausted appearance led him to believe them. She seemed perfectly normal this morning, and he wondered what had caused the sudden change. But he didn't have to wonder for long. He had just taken a sip of coffee when out of the corner of his eye, he saw Buck jump slightly and stare down into his lap before darting a quick look at Ezra.
Ezra was talking to Chris and thankfully hadn't noticed the look. Buck glanced down in his lap again at the hand that was resting on his crotch and then at Maude who was not even looking at him, but was winking at Vin. Buck and Vin exchanged panicked looks and both jumped up and after muttering excuses about needing to go on patrol... ran out of the saloon. Ezra looked suspiciously at his mother, but she seemed just as bewildered as everyone else at the sudden departure of the two men. JD who had been sitting beside Buck and seen Maude's hand descend on his crotch, decided it was time to make his escape, too.
"Well, I think I'd better get on over to the jail and... uh... finish up some paperwork I've been meanin' to do," he hurriedly announced, and left before she could turn her attentions on him.
Josiah saw Chris and Nathan glance at JD's retreating back and then at Maude, and saw her give them a wink and blow them a kiss. Now he understood what they'd been talking about. Unfortunately for Maude, Ezra also looked up from his breakfast in time to see the wink and kiss and his face began to redden as he spoke to her sharply.
"Mother! What do you think you are doing?" Ezra asked as he rose out of his chair and none-to-gently pulled Maude to her feet.
"Why, Ezra darlin'... what in heaven's name is wrong with you? I'm just trying to be nice to your friends?" Maude tried to convince him she was innocent of whatever he was thinking, but she just couldn't resist one more wink at the men.
"That's it!! Come with me... I'm taking you for a nice long ride in the country, and we're going to talk about your little problem." Ezra firmly pushed Maude ahead of him out of the saloon, and Chris and Nathan breathed a sigh of relief as they watched them go.
Josiah rose and left also, headed to the church to light some candles and say some prayers for Maude and for poor Ezra. He didn't know if it would help, but it definitely couldn't hurt.
Ezra kept Maude away from the town for most of the afternoon. He told her he had talked to Nathan and he knew about her 'condition', but she seemed so embarrassed by the whole subject that he let it drop after telling her he was willing to help her in anyway he could. They spent the rest of the day filling each other in on what had been happening since her last visit and actually enjoying each other's company for a change.
Ezra pulled the buggy up in front of the hotel and escorted Maude up to her room so she could rest before dinner.
"I'll be back around six, Mother... that should give you time to rest and freshen up before we go eat." Ezra kissed her lightly on the cheek and left, thankful he had gotten her through the day with no further incident. He returned the buggy to the livery, and then made his way to the saloon for a few well-deserved drinks and hopefully a couple of hands of poker before dinner.
Maude stood by the window in her room fanning herself and watching the people go by in the street. She had tried laying down to rest, but after tossing and turning for an hour had finally given up. She'd felt pretty good all day, but now those damned hot flashes were back with a vengeance. Suddenly she glanced over in front of the jail and saw JD sitting there reading one of his many dime store novels, and she just couldn't resist her urges any longer. He looked so young and handsome tipped back in that chair, his hair ruffling in the slight breeze... Maude was out the door in a flash, hurrying down the stairs and out of the hotel, knocking several startled hotel patrons out of her way in her haste to get to JD.
JD was so engrossed in his book that he didn't even see Maude coming until she was almost to the jail. But suddenly he caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up to see her striding purposefully across the street, heading straight for him. JD threw his book to the ground, grabbed his hat off the back of the chair, and took off running... dodging the people on the crowded boardwalk and looking desperately for somewhere to hide. He glanced back over his shoulder once and increased his speed when he saw Maude coming after him, the people parting around her like the Red Sea as she barreled down the boardwalk like an unstoppable locomotive.
"Hey, Ezra... you better come and get a look at this." Ezra looked up as Nathan called to him, motioning to him to join him at the batwing doors of the saloon. He could see Nathan was trying not to laugh at whatever was going on in the street and a feeling of dread started to build in the pit of his stomach as he rose to find out what was so amusing.
Ezra opened the doors and looked out, and his jaw dropped at the sight of his mother barreling down the street after a fleeing JD. "Oh my God.... not again!" Ezra hurried out and raced after Maude, praying he could reach her before she got her hands on poor JD. He caught a glimpse of the boy ducking down an alley, Maude hot on his heels, just before he collided with two ladies coming out of Mrs. Potter's store. The force of the impact sent their packages flying in all directions and left all three of them sitting on the boardwalk, stunned. Ezra recovered first and, apologizing profusely, helped both ladies to their feet and began gathering up all their scattered parcels. By the time he'd finished, he'd lost sight of Maude and JD completely. He frantically ran down one alley and up another, but finally gave up and returned to the saloon.
"What the hell happened to you, Ezra?!" Buck exclaimed as the gambler staggered in and dropped in the chair next to him. Buck had never seen the man in such a state... his clothes were all dusty, his hair was practically standing on end, and he was gasping for air and sweating profusely.
Ezra grabbed the bottle of whiskey sitting in front of Buck and took several long gulps before trying to answer. "Mother... JD..." was about all he could manage to say as he continually sucked air, trying to get his breath back. He couldn't remember the last time he had done that much running, and he was finding it extremely hard to recover from all the exertion.
But those two names were all Buck needed to hear to understand his current state of exhaustion.
He glanced warily at the saloon doors as he went to the bar to get another bottle of whiskey and a glass for Ezra. He had a feeling the part bottle Ezra was draining wasn't going to be nearly enough to settle the gambler's nerves.
JD had raced through the alleys of the town desperately trying to lose Maude. But no matter which way he went, she was always right there on his heels. Finally, as the sun was beginning to set, he managed to circle back around to the jail and get inside and lock the door before she could get to him. He leaned with his back against the door, trying to catch his breath, and listened as she pounded on the door a few times before giving up and striding away down the boardwalk. 'Thank God' he thought as he moved away from the door to settle on one of the bunks in the empty cells, determined not to leave the jail again until she went home.
Maude frowned when she realized JD wasn't going to open the door. She knocked one last time and then turned to search the street for someone else to focus her attentions on. Her face broke into a huge smile as she saw Chris come out of the Clarion, and she hurried down the boardwalk in his direction. Chris had just stepped into the street when he heard his name called. He looked up and frowned in consternation as he saw Maude practically running in her haste to get to him. He had no urge to deal with her again and turned and sprinted for the saloon, hoping Ezra would be in there and would be able to stop her before she got to him.
Buck and Ezra stared at Chris as he tore into the saloon and came running up to their table. Ezra jumped back nervously as he saw the angry look the gunslinger shot in his direction.
"Um... something wrong, Mr. Larabee?" he asked, but before Chris could answer him the batwing doors crashed open again and Maude charged into the room, stopping just inside the still swinging doors to catch her breath and search the room for her prey. "Larabee!! I know you're in here!"
"Damn..." Chris muttered as he jumped and began moving toward the door at the back of the saloon. "Ezra! You better do somethin' about her!" he yelled as he ran.
Buck, seeing Maude's eyes settle on him, leaped out of his chair and followed Chris out the door into the alley.
Ezra just stood and stared in horror as his usually demur mother tore through the saloon, hot on the heels of the two men. He grabbed the bottle of whiskey, took another bracing swig, and followed the other three out into the alley.
Josiah couldn't believe what had been going on in this town since Maude arrived. It was like the devil himself was driving her to unseemly acts with at least four of his friends. He knew Ezra was beside himself, but he didn't know how to stop it. That's when Josiah decided that some prayer would help and lit a candle for every indecent act she had been caught doing.
Unfortunately, the woman had been so active and so many candles had to be lit, that with the breeze blowing through the church that day, it knocked over several candles and started a small fire. He was upset that it destroyed some of his hard work in the church.
He had decided to take a break and sit out on the church steps for a little while. Darkness had already begun to settle. It seemed peaceful.... for about five minutes. He wasn't quite sure what he was hearing at first. Then he realized it was running footsteps. Chris, running at breakneck speed went past Josiah with Buck close on his heels, yelling "I'm coming with you, Chris! She can't take down both of us at the same time and the other one can pull her off!"
Then, Maude, both hands holding her skirts up and a very focused look on her face, was running after them. Josiah just stared after this parade, shaking his head and not quite believing it. A few moments later Ezra came along, totally exhausted and breathing heavily. He stopped and put his hand on the banister of the steps to steady himself while looking around the town. When he felt he could speak, he asked Josiah, "Have you seen... ummmmm... anyone go by here recently?"
"Why yes, Ezra... they went that away!" he said, pointing after the runners.
Ezra started to walk off, then backtracked a few steps. "Do I smell smoke?"
"Yes brother, you do. It's taken care of now. The church is a little damaged but I can fix it... again," sighed Josiah.
"Sorry about the church," was all Ezra could think of to tell the man.
"That's okay, Ezra. God will provide. Only I'm not so sure he can help you out!"
Just then, Ezra heard shouting up the street and saw Chris, then Buck, then Maude emerge from one side of town and run into an alley on the other side of town. Ezra looked at Josiah and just sighed. As he turned to go after the trio, Josiah stopped him.
"I never knew your Mother could run so fast." Josiah said flatly.
He looked into Josiah's face, who simply returned his stare. The man looked very serious and never cracked a grin, so Ezra didn't know if he was joking or not. More shouts broke into his thoughts so he turned and took off at a trot, sarcastically saying, but not yelling. "Mother! Oh, Mother!" All the while thinking that the jail cells were empty at the moment.
Maude awoke disheveled, and was groggy so that she almost felt as if she had a hangover. The taste in her mouth was absolutely awful. She managed to sit up, but the headache made her put her head in her hands.
"Good Morning, Mother," Ezra said. She couldn't tell if he was angry or amused. Maude didn't say anything, just lifted her head and glared at her son. Ezra wanted to laugh but kept control of himself.
"Do you suppose you could be gracious enough to get your Mother some coffee?"
That did it, he broke into a wide grin. He was enjoying her discomfort. "Well, of course! How inconsiderate of me!"
"You ungrateful child!" she spit out when she saw the grin.
He handed her the cup, but when she looked at her son, the grin was still there and he had an evil gleam in his eyes.
"EZRA!" she shouted, "YOU LET ME OUT OF HERE! NOW!"
He was about to give her a glib answer, when the door to the jail opened. Chris and Buck walked in with rather sheepish looks on their faces. "Gentlemen. What can I do for you?" said Ezra.
Chris kind of sighed and looked over at Buck. Then Buck said, "Ezra... you just can't lock up your mama for no reason. Ain't right."
"Not right?" Ezra shot back. "I thought you'd appreciate not receiving the amorous advances my Mother has wrought upon all of you!"
"Believe me, Ezra," Chris said "we appreciate the rest, but he's right. You can't keep her locked up. Can't you... talk... to her?"
Ezra just gave them an exasperated look. He glanced over at Maude. She was sitting on the cot in the furthest corner with her back against the wall and her eyes closed. He let out a heavy sigh and said to Chris, "I shall endeavor to speak to her."
"Thanks." Chris said as he turned to leave.
"Yeah, thanks ol' buddy. Try to talk to her... see if it'll do any good," Buck said as he lightly punched Ezra on the arm and gave him a smirk.
Ezra turned to the jail cell -- she was still sitting in the corner. He took the cell keys out of the desk drawer and went to unlock the door. He stepped inside and sat down on the cot next to her.
"Mother, I've had about enough of this. What can I do to help you over this dire time in your life? You are making a spectacle of yourself and this is an embarrassment to me! We must do something."
He was so serious -- and she knew what he said was true -- but she couldn't help herself and burst out laughing. "It's only natural, darlin'! And I'm having so much fun!" He started to get angry, but when he looked up at her and saw the glint in her eye and her hair sticking out in every direction, he couldn't help but laugh, too. "I really don't know what to do, darlin'. I suppose this just has to run it's course," said Maude quietly.
"Well, Mother, if you have to run it here, could you try to exercise a bit more control? This is where I live. I work with those men. Please be on your best behavior and fight this thing!"
"I could certainly try, darlin'." She paused for a moment and then said, "But it has been fun!"
She smiled at her son and patted his knee. "It's such a comfort having family around in tryin' times."
While Ezra was trying to decide whether to reprehend her or not, she got up and started to leave. She turned at the cell door and he said to her with a slight smile, "I must admit, seeing my fellow compadres running scared all over town has held a certain amount of amusement."
Maude smiled and headed back to her hotel to spend a lot of time pulling herself back together... emotionally and fashionably. Ezra still sat on the cot, trying to decide if he should have simply run her out of town or strangled her on the spot.
Evening fell and surprisingly, Maude had pretty much behaved herself most of the day. Probably because she'd involved herself in a few games of poker to keep her mind occupied.
It had worked most of the afternoon, but as the sun went down so did her resolve. She was getting antsy and her concentration was failing. Seeing all of those wonderful looking men filing into the Saloon after a hard days work wasn't helping.
Ezra had been keeping a close eye on his Mother. She seemed to be controlling herself very well... except for a few pinches and winks, she hadn't really bothered anyone in awhile. So he went out to the boardwalk to talk to the others -- Chris, Buck, JD and Vin. They knew Maude was inside and so they wouldn't step foot in there. Inez had even been bringing their drinks outside to them.
"Looks like you took care of our little problem pretty well, Ezra," said Buck.
"Thank God," mumbled JD, who was still skittish from his earlier experience with Maude.
"Think she's over it?" asked Chris.
Ezra looked doubtful and answered, "I have no idea, but I certainly hope she has it under control for now. Although it has brought some amusement," he teased.
They all sat in silence for a few moments. Then Ezra decided to glance in and check on Maude. He walked through the swinging doors and into the saloon. One moment later, the other men all tensed when they heard him yell, "Awww, HELL!"
The men all ran into the saloon and Ezra told them Maude had disappeared. The fact that she hadn't come out the front where they would've seen her, told him that something was up. The other four men gave each other panicked looks and, all at once, ran out the door, scattering in three different directions. Ezra glared after them, rather perturbed that no one was going to help him track her down.
Ezra was exhausted. She must be out of control again with a vengeance because he covered every inch of the town -- twice -- and hadn't caught a glimpse of her. He thought he had heard her voice once, but it couldn't have been her... she'd never actually wail "yoooo hoooo"... would she? And he must've been close once because he saw Buck and JD disappearing around a corner rather quickly. Chris had simply vanished. He was about to take a break and get a quick drink in the saloon when he saw Vin running like a bat out of hell, up the street and rounding the shop on the corner. Thinking Maude couldn't be far behind from his panicked actions, he took off in Vin's direction hoping to run across Maude. Maude had seen Vin's very lovely behind rounding the corner but lost him down an alleyway.
She stood for a moment in the middle of the street, listening. She heard something. She couldn't tell where it was coming from at first. She quietly crept along the boardwalk toward the saloon. A noise. It was coming from the darkened alley next to the building. She was only half a block away. She could catch the delicious young man, she was certain of it. Maude lifted her skirts and took off running. She barreled into the very dark alley at full speed and ran into a man's chest. She had been running so fast that she plowed into him and knocked him against the wall. She smiled. She had him pinned. Before he could make a move, she slammed her mouth onto where she thought his was -- right on target -- and went to work with the most passionate kiss she could give him. After several moments, she felt him relax a bit. My, my... he was actually getting into it. She breathed in a slight hint of after shave and realized it smelled somewhat familiar.
Then, it hit her. She immediately and roughly pulled back out of the embrace and once she caught her breath, whispered... "Ezra?"
There was about five seconds of dead silence, and then a booming voice yelled "MOTHER?!?"
Both of them sucked in their breath and then gasped audibly. Maude slowly started backing out of the alley, then turned and ran back to her hotel room. Ezra stood in shock for awhile, then slowly slid down the wall until he plunked down on the ground. He stayed there for quite some time, trembling with the memory of what had just happened.
The next morning, the other six men were out on the boardwalk having coffee. Ezra suddenly appeared at the door, squinting at the sun. It was extremely early for the gambler to be up and about.
"Why, Ezra! What brings you out in the middle of the night?" Buck teased.
None of them knew he'd been up all night -- he certainly couldn't sleep after what happened in the alley. When he had finally gotten to his room last night, he sat in a chair thinking and worrying about having to confront his mother the next day. Ezra tiredly said to Buck, "I do sometimes like to recall what mornings feel like, Mr. Wilmington."
"Well, it's too bad you weren't up about an hour ago," Buck said back to him, "you could've said goodbye to your Mother."
Ezra's jaw dropped and he quickly turned to face Buck, "She's gone?"
"Yep," Buck retorted, grinning -- actually, they were ALL grinning.
Ezra was shocked and relieved at the same time. He was worried about facing her and apparently she was equally terrified and embarrassed. Maybe this was the best thing for awhile -- just to forget about the whole incident. He noticed that Chris was studying his face. "Yes, Mr. Larabee? You have a question?"
"What did you finally do, Ezra? What did you say to make her leave?"
With an unreadable look on his face, Ezra told him, "I simply brought her to her senses, Mr. Larabee."
Which was very true, indeed.
Sadly Jean is no longer with us, but we're sure her daughter, Jenn, and Christy would love to hear from you if you enjoyed this story.
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