Never Gamble With An Entire Clan
(Old West)

by Kathi Holmes

Purpose: This is for Lus birthday she wanted Ezra hurt and Ill do my best to do that.
Rating: FRT there may be some violence and few bad words.
Disclaimer: Not mine, if they were theyd still be on the air and there would be a lot more hurt and comfort going on. They belong to the Mirisch, Trilogy, MGM and CBS and never has such a valuable property been treated so shabbily.
Author's Notes: The title and premise of this story come from the episode New Law, and are based on Ezra's quote; "Uh, I neglected to abide by a fundamental tenet in my line of work. Never gamble with an entire clan." I've wondered what would have happened if Ezra had inadvertently gambled with an entire clan, and what would have happened if the others hadn't shown up when they did. This will also deal with the reaction of the others to Ezra's inadvertent blunder.


Ezra sat on Chaucer as he approached the town of Willow Falls, glad that they would soon be free of the miscreants that he, Chris and Buck had been dispatched to deliver by the judge. Within an hour they should have delivered the miscreants to the jail, then he planned to get a room at the hotel, find a saloon and enjoy several hands of poker. If things worked the way he planned then this trip might have a silver lining and prove to be profitable to boot.

As they reached town and rode toward the sheriff's office, Ezra smiled. "Gentlemen, once we deliver these miscreants I will be checking into the hotel and then finding the saloon for a hand or two of poker. I don't necessarily plan to see either of you till the day after tomorrow."

Buck grinned. "May not plan to see me, but if you're in the saloon, imagine you'll be seeing me. Don't worry, Ezra, I won't interfere in your game."

Ezra gave Buck a two-fingered salute and dismounted. "That will be fine."

Chris dismounted and stretched. "I'll be around town, including the saloon; we'll watch your back just in case."

Ezra grinned, as Chris hauled their guests off their horses. "That will not be necessary. I'm sure this sleepy little place won't be a problem."

Ezra left the hotel, after having had a bath and changing into fresh clothes, including his favorite red jacket. It was nearing sundown, and if there was a game to be had, now was the time to get in on the action. He crossed the street and entered the saloon. He made his way across the bar room, taking note of the people in the bar. There was no one who struck him immediately as being a challenge to play. He reached his destination, a table in the back of the saloon in the corner where he could see all that was going on in the saloon. He sat down and removed a pack of cards from his pocket and proceeded to lay out a hand of solitaire. A barmaid came over, and he ordered a meal and a bottle of the best whiskey this burb had to offer.

A short time later Ezra noted that Chris and Buck were seated at a table in the adjoining corner. Chris appeared to be reading a book, but Ezra was sure he was aware of everything that was going on in the saloon. Buck, on the other hand, was propositioning a saloon girl, at least some things never changed.

Ezra glanced up as a man paused beside his table. "May I help you sir?"

The man pointed to a chair and Ezra nodded. The man sat down. "I see you like to play cards, might you be interested in a game of poker?"

Ezra grinned, flashing his gold tooth. "I would be very happy to partake of a game of poker." Ezra picked up the cards in front of him and started to shuffle.

The man shook his head. "My name is Samuel Hutchins. Some friends and I play every Friday night over at the restaurant I own across the street. I believe I saw you there at dinner time."

Ezra rose. "Lead on, Mr. Hutchins, I'd be delighted to meet your friends and play a few hands of poker."

Mr. Hutchins and Ezra entered the restaurant. Ezra saw four other men gathered around on of the tables. Samuel stepped forward. "Ezra Standish, I'd like to introduce you to my poker friends. They are William Garrison, Jeremy Lawson, David Mathews, and Horace Mann."

Ezra nodded to each man. "Gentlemen, I want to thank you for allowing me to play with you tonight." Ezra took one of the two vacant chairs at the table, while Samuel took the other and the cards were dealt.

*******

The next morning Chris sat in the saloon wondering where Buck was. At this hour of the morning, he wasn't expecting to see Ezra, but by now even if he had found a friendly companion for the evening, Buck was usually up and around. He grinned suddenly as he saw Buck enter the saloon and come over to where he was sitting.

Buck came over and joined Chris at the table. "Imagine we won't see Ezra until this afternoon. Wonder where he went last night?"

Chris shoved a coffee cup toward Buck. "I don't know where he went, one minute he was talking to that man who came in, and the next time I looked over that way he was gone."

Buck shook his head. "Well, that's more than I saw. I was so busy talking to Gerti that I never even saw him after he arrived. Think we should go looking for him?"

Chris shrugged. "I would say we wait till lunchtime. If he hasn't shown up by then, we go looking for him. If he's asleep and we wake him up, it's going to get ugly."

Buck grinned. "And we both know how I hate ugly."

Chris laughed.

A few hours later Chris was seated out in front of the saloon. He kept glancing over at the hotel. He was so intent in glaring at the hotel he didn't hear Buck approach. "Glaring at the hotel ain't gonna answer the question, pard."

Chris glared at Buck. "And what question do you think it is I'm looking for answers to?"

Buck grinned. "Why, where Ezra is? Think the only way you're going to get the answer to that question is to go over there and see for yourself."

Chris nodded. "I know, was just wondering if was late enough to risk going over there and check in with him."

Buck reached out his hand to Chris, pulling him to his feet. "Only one way to find out and that's to go over there and see him."

Buck and Chris strolled across the street and into the hotel at the front desk. After getting Ezra's room number, they went upstairs and knocked on his door. After knocking several times and getting no reply, Chris turned to Buck. "Stay here in case he's just slow waking up. I'm going to go get the key."

Chris turned and went down the stairs. At the desk he confronted the desk clerk. "I need the key to room eight. My friend is not answering the door, and I'm afraid that something might be wrong."

The clerk swallowed. "Sir, I cannot give out the key to another guest's room."

Chris reached forward and grabbed him by the lapels. "You've got three choices. One give me the key, two you go open the door for me. I don't think you want to know what your third choice is." Chris, let go of his lapels and reached for his gun.

The clerk picked up the key and proceeded to go up the stairs. At Ezra's door he inserted the key with shaking hands and turned it. As the door swung open, Chris and Buck stepped into the room, pushing the clerk out of the way.

Chris looked around the room. "He isn't here, and it doesn't look like he's been here since he checked in."

Buck moved to the dresser and opened the drawers. "He unpacked, but it looks like all of his things are still here."

The clerk backed away from the door. Chris turned. "Don't go anywhere. Did you see Mr. Standish come back late last night or early this morning?"

The clerk shook his head. "No one mans the desk after nine. I'm the first one on in the morning, and I don't get here till seven. So if he came in between those times, no one would have seen him. It's a small town without a lot of visitors. I'm real sorry, mister."

Buck looked at the man. "Not your fault. We're just worried about our friend."

Chris turned. "Come on, Buck, we need to find Ezra."

Buck and Chris left the hotel, pausing out front to look up and down the street. Chris looked over at the saloon. "He was at the saloon last night and left. We should check and make sure his horse is still here. If it is then he should still be in town." Buck followed Chris to the livery, where they found Ezra's horse contentedly munching hay in his stall.

Buck turned to Chris. "You search this side of the street. I'll search the other. That way we can cover more ground quickly. We need to find him. I've got a bad feeling about this."

Chris took off up the street as Buck crossed the street and started to search around the buildings on that side. Halfway up the street, Buck heard a noise coming from an alley and entered. At first he could see nothing, then he heard the noise again. He moved a packing crate and saw Ezra laying in the dirt. "Chris!"

Chris came running into the alley and found Buck kneeling next to Ezra.

Part 2

Chris and Buck knelt next to Ezra and rolled him on to his back so that they could check out his injuries. Ezra moaned as they rolled him, but did not open his eyes.

Buck looked at Chris. "I'll go find a doctor."

Chris nodded and turned his attention to Ezra, taking out a bandana and wiping the blood and dirt from Ezra's face.

Buck ran into the hotel and approached the desk clerk. "Where can I find a doctor around here?"

The clerk swallowed nervously. This man and his companion made him nervous. They were obviously dangerous. "There hasn't been a doctor in town for about six months not since old Doc Howard died."

Buck groaned. "Our friend's been hurt, he needs help."

The clerk shrugged. "Wish I could help. Everyone here goes to Eagle Bend or makes do."

Buck turned on his heel and left the hotel. He made his way back to where Chris was with Ezra.

Chris looked up when Buck entered the alley. "Doctor on his way?"

Buck shook his head. "This town doesn't have one. Guess we're on our own here."

Chris glared at Buck. "Let's get some help to get him to the hotel, but first find something to use as a splint. I think his leg is broken."

Buck stood staring at Chris. "Awh pard, have you looked at his hand?" Buck pointed to Ezra's left hand.

Chris looked where Buck was pointing and paled. "Hadn't noticed that yet. Soon as we get him to the hotel, we need to send a telegram to Nathan. Think we're going to need his skills."

Buck nodded, as he searched the alley for something to make a splint. "Going to need the others to help track down whoever did this to Ezra."

Chris did not glance up from where he was using a bandana to secure Ezra's hand to his chest so they could move him. "Need to let the sheriff know what happened when we get the chance."

Buck broke up a packing case and handed Chris two pieces of wood, which they used to splint Ezra's leg.

Ezra knew he should be doing something, but couldn't figure out what. As he was drawn toward the voices speaking his name, he felt pain and moaned, then went back to the darkness where the pain could not find him.

Chris and Buck moved Ezra as carefully as they could to the hotel and up the stairs to his room. The nervous desk clerk let them into Ezra's room and then went in search of bandages and hot water at Chris' barked commands.

Buck and Chris worked together to ease Ezra out of his boots, and then removed his clothes tucking him into the feather bed. Buck glanced at Chris. "Whoever did this to him took his money. He doesn't have a cent on him, and it's not like Ezra to ever be without funds. They even got the money from his boot."

Chris glared out the window. "Soon as we get him cleaned up, we need to send for Nathan and talk with the sheriff. I want whoever did this to him to pay."

Buck looked up from Ezra. "They will, no one deserves to be treated like this, least of all Ezra he wouldn't do anything to hurt anyone. He doesn't even cheat at cards. He doesn't need to. Only time I've ever seen him cheat is when he does it to lose to us."

Chris chuckled. "That's true, man doesn't have to cheat he's that good. Where is that clerk?"

Just then there was a knock on the door. Chris jerked the door open with his gun in his hand. He holstered his gun as the clerk entered the room carrying two pitchers of hot water, followed by an older woman with a pile of bandages. Chris stepped out of the way to let them in. The clerk deposited his water and made for the door. The woman made her way to the bed. "You need to bring up more hot water, going to need to take care of these wounds."

Buck and Chris exchanged a look. The woman glared at both of them. "My name is Rachel Wallace. I'm the closet thing this town has to a doctor. I'm a midwife, but I know a thing or two about taking care of someone who's been hurt, hopefully enough to make your friend here comfortable. I'm going to need you boys to help me."

Rachel took one of the pitchers of water and poured hot water into the bowl on the dresser. She then washed the blood and dirt from Ezra's face. "What can you two tell me about his injuries?"

Chris moved into her line of sight. "We found him in the alley down the street. Last we saw him was last night in the saloon. Have no idea exactly what happened to him. From the looks of him, he was worked over by more than one person. I know his left leg is broken, suspect that he's got some broken ribs from the amount of bruising there. His left hand is pretty mangled. Looks like someone stepped on it. And you can see the assortment of cuts and bruises he has. Not sure what other injuries there are."

Rachel nodded as she finished cleaning Ezra. "We need to set that leg or he'll have a limp." She undid the splint, handing the boards to Buck. "Wrap those with bandages to pad them while your friend helps me set his leg."

Buck took the boards and started to wrap them in soft cotton. "Name's Buck Wilmington, ma'am. Your patient is Ezra Standish."

Chris nodded. "I'm Chris Larabee. What do you need me to do to help?"

Rachel moved to the foot of the bed. "I need you to grab his ankle and pull on it steadily while I make sure that bone slips back into place. If we don't do that, it won't heal right and this leg will be shorter than the other."

Chris did as he was told, though it hurt him to hear Ezra moan as they manipulated his leg. As soon as the bone slipped back in place, Rachel took the boards from Buck and splinted his leg. Rachel continued to bandage Ezra's cuts. "One of you sit him up so I can tie up these ribs. It will help his breathing."

Buck moved forward and sat on the edge of the bed and pulled Ezra forward so he was leaning on Buck's chest. Chris handed Rachel strips of cloth that she wrapped around Ezra's chest. When she was done, Buck lay Ezra back on the pillows.

Rachel looked at Ezra's left hand. "I'm going to clean this, but I'll be honest I'm not sure what to do with it beyond that. My suggestion is that you get him to a doctor. I can tell some of these fingers are broken and I'm sure there is other damage. I don't have the skills to fix this."

Buck frowned. "We have another friend who's a healer. I'm going to telegraph him soon as we're done here. We're hoping he'll be able to help Ezra. I don't think he's going to feel up to being moved anytime soon."

Rachel nodded, as she cleaned and wrapped Ezra's hand. "I hope he'll know what to do with this hand. If its not taken care of properly he could lose the use of it. I take it he's a gambler and not having the use of his hand would certainly be a handicap to him."

Chris nodded. "I trust Nathan he's pulled all of us out of one scrape or another for awhile now. If he doesn't know how to fix it, he'll have an idea of who we can get to fix it."

Rachel finished with Ezra's hand. "I need to go now, watch him for signs of a fever and if one develops try to keep it down. I have some laudanum I'll leave with you for the pain. Don't give him too much. If you need me, tell Marcus, the clerk, and he'll tell you how to find me. Now I have to go. I have a family to tend to."

Chris tried to hand her some money. Rachel shook her head. "No, someone in this town hurt your friend. The least I can do is help him out. I don't want you to think badly of this town." With that, Rachel left the room.

Chris turned to Buck. You want to stay with Ezra or shall I? We need to telegraph the boys and talk to the sheriff about what happened to Ezra.

Buck looked at Chris. "I'll go telegraph the others and let them know what is going on. And then I'll ask the sheriff to come over here and meet with us."

Chris nodded and Buck made his way out of the room. He stopped at the front desk on his way out to speak to the desk clerk. "Marcus, can you arrange to have a pot of coffee sent up to Mr. Standish's room? We're going to be needing it. Also, please arrange for supper to be sent up. I'll let you know later about other meals."

Marcus gulped. "I'll see to that right away, sir. If there's anything else I can do to be of assistance, please let me know."

Buck moved toward the door, speaking over his shoulder. "We'll let you know. I'm sending for some friends of ours to help with Mr. Standish. We'll be needing a couple of more rooms in a few days. I expect that won't be a problem."

Marcus stammered. "Certainly, sir, I'll make sure that they are ready when you need them." Marcus sat back in a chair, as Buck made his way out the door. His grandfather was not going to be happy about this at all. He would not be happy that more people were showing up to help Standish.

Buck left the telegraph office and made his way to the sheriff's office. Upon entering he went over to the sheriff. "Could you come over to the hotel to talk with Larabee and me about what happened to our friend?"

The sheriff looked up. "My deputy should be back in about half an hour I'll be over as soon as he's here to watch the prisoners."

TO BE CONTINUED

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