With Friends Like These
March 27, 2011
Missing scene for Achilles
Challenge: Write a story in 1 hour using the word ‘belt’
Ezra cursed. He opened the wardrobe and rifled through the clothes hanging there. It wasn’t on the hook where he normally stored them. He knelt to look under the bed, then stood up straight and cursed again. Where had that damn belt gone?
He sighed, moving back toward the dressing table, he would find it later. It wasn’t the belt that was really bothering him, but the reason that his previous set of clothing had had to be replaced. Ezra ran his hand through his hair in a quick, jerky motion then set about buttoning his fresh shirt.
How had Big Lester beaten him? And just how had he ended up on the street with nothing but a tablecloth, his boots, hat and gunbelt? What on earth had come over him?
Ezra closed his eyes. He needed to control himself. It wasn’t like this was the first time the large gambler had beaten him. But this time Ezra didn’t plan on getting drunk out of his skull and letting his inebriated state hurt a friend. He still had to apologize to Vin.
He opened his eyes and met his green gaze in the mirror. Perhaps…
Ezra quickly strapped on his gunbelt, having to hitch up his pants as the weight of the leather rode them down on his slim hips. He stopped himself just shy of sighing and grabbed his jacket before heading out the door.
Down on the street he looked for Vin and finally saw him coming out of the Clarion. Ezra waited as Vin crossed the street and then nodded when their eyes met.
“Ah, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra started hesitantly. “I was wondering if I might have a word with you?”
“Think we had a word or two too many the other day, Ez,” Vin replied.
Ezra nodded, looking down for a moment before meeting Vin’s eyes. “Yes, and I haven’t yet offered you an apology for that, what with all the… excitement,” he rolled his eyes self-derisively, “earlier today.”
Vin grinned and relaxed his stance a bit.
“For that I’d like to apologize as well, but mainly,” Ezra said sincerely, “I am sorry for making fun of you last night. As you know, I was not… Vin, I was drunk. And I’ve been told I can be quite… unpleasant to be around when my dander’s up and I’m in my cups. I’m sorry.”
Vin watched Ezra closely as he spoke and then nodded. “I accept. Figure I shoulda known better than to ask you something like that anyway.”
Ezra stiffened and shook his head. “No! I… I admit I might have teased you a bit, but I’d be honored to help you write out your poetry. I’m honored that you thought me friend enough to ask.” His shoulders slumped, his eyes dropping away in shame. “I regret that I may have permanently damaged our relationship with my uncouth behavior.”
Vin frowned. Ezra was his friend. He straightened at the thought. Ezra considered him his friend! He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Well, Ez, I ‘spect friends hurt each other some of the time. Look at Buck and Chris.”
Ezra lifted his gaze hopefully.
“They’ve ripped into each other a number of times that I know of, seems to me they’re still friends.”
Ezra nodded. “True.”
“Think I can forgive you for bein’ a mean drunk, at least once,” Vin said with a grin.
Ezra grinned back. “Thank you. And I’d like to offer my services in penning your poetry, if you wish.”
Vin shook his head. “Got help with that already,” he said.
“Well,” Ezra said with an understanding nod, “if anything else comes up, then.”
“In the mean time,” Ezra continued, “would you possibly do me a favor?”
Vin squinted suspiciously. Surely all of this wasn’t just to get something from him.
“As you may recall,” Ezra said a bit nervously. “I had a little trouble earlier.”
Vin nodded slowly, a smile creeping back onto his face against his will. The sight of Ezra parading down the street in nothing but a tablecloth was too funny.
“Yes,” Ezra said, clearing his throat, “well, I can’t seem to find my other belt and I don’t want a repeat of my earlier… state of undress,” he finished, dramatically hitching his pants up a few inches only for them to settle quickly back a bit lower on his hips than was fashionably appropriate.
Vin grinned. “You want to borrow a belt?”
Ezra huffed. “No, I thought perhaps you could lend my one of your neckerchiefs! Of course, I want to borrow a belt, Vin!”
Vin laughed, but waved at Ezra to follow him as he headed for his wagon. He continued to chortle softly as they crossed the street, each of Ezra’s not so soft swears just egging him on.
“Hang on a minute, Ezra,” Vin said, stepping up into the wagon and ducking inside. He came back out a few moments later and eased himself down onto the edge of the wagon bed. “Here you go,” he said, holding out a well worn, but still serviceable brown leather belt. “Ain’t fancy,” he said defiantly.
“It will do superbly, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra assured, removing his gunbelt and exchanging it for the belt Vin offered. Ezra looked around briefly, then shook his head and decided to ignore the townsfolk. They’d already seen more of him than was proper, at least this way his pants wouldn’t fall down.
Vin shook his head, smiling as the gambler slipped the borrowed belt through the loops on his pants. Ezra held out his hand and took his gunbelt back with a nod of thanks, then smoothed his hands down the fine fabrics to straighten any wrinkles. With a final tug of his jacket, he lifted his head with a grin that said everything was right with the world.
“Many thanks, Vin. I will return it as soon as I can find a replacement.”
“No problem, Ez, I wasn’t usin’ it for much, just as a hanger for drying my wet things is all,” he finished with a wicked twinkle in his eye.
Ezra’s eyes widened. He slowly brought his hand up to his nose and sniffed. Musty, wet leather greeted his nose and he blinked fiercely at the smell. Ezra swallowed and forced a smile. “Yes, well, I appreciate the loan, in any case. If you’ll excuse me, Mr. Tanner, I must… I have other… I’ve got to go.” He gave a little salute and turned neatly on his heel.
Vin chuckled as he watched Ezra walk quickly over to the Mercantile. Seemed Mrs. Potter would be making a sale shortly and he would have his dryin’ rack back.
Feedback is appreciated. JudyL