RATING: PG-13 for rough language -- yeah, someone has a foul mouth.
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Chris -- mostly, but Buck, JD, Vin and Ezra do manage to sneak in.
DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No profit involved. This story is based on the television series "The Magnificent Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that production is intended.
NOTE: October 2002 Magnificent 7 Challenge.  Offered by Nuttiegirl.   Every author has their favorite character. But, on occasion some of the less popular of the seven get left behind. Hence, I challenge you to write a fic featuring one of the seven that you do not normally write as the main character in your fiction.  If you want to add some fun and frivolity to it all, feel free to throw in a missing mummy, a vampiric baddie or a cadre of werewolves carting contraband! After all, it is Halloween! -- okay, so I tried to focus on Chris since he's never been featured in one of my challenge stories, but some of the others snuck in at the end.
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
DATE: October 9, 2002, housekeeping done August 5, 2006

Devil of a Time
By NotTasha... who would never do something like this

Tucking the latest edition of The Clarion under his arm, Chris pressed open the door. He made a quick appraisal of the place, realizing that it was as good as could be expected -- all things considered. He turned and closed the door, shutting out the crisp October air, the tumbled leaves, the laughter of children and the deep voices of men. He set the hasp against the hoof beats and footsteps and jingle-jangle of wagons. He placed himself apart from the golden autumnal light, the bustling of townsfolk, the stores filled with fresh goods-- pumpkins, squash, corn. The world was rich with the fall harvest and filled with the promise of an early winter. It was a beautiful day and a lovely end to October. He shut the door, dropped his drawers and sat down.

The privy was as good a place as any to read.

The light streaming in from the vents above was enough to light his final perusal of the town’s only newspaper. He read again about how Mrs. Potter had just received a shipment of wood stoves -- three in total. Winter would be fierce (if old Ma Lewis’s knee was a proper barometer) and folks would need the heat. He read about how the Bonhams had a couples of hogs for sale and the Stokers had a green mare.

There was a story about some big doings back East, and something else going on in San Francisco, then there was important information about statehood. None of it concerned Larabee.

Front and center was a story about Buck and Vin, and some fool thing they’d done that saved a half dozen lives.

He frowned as he contemplated, bothered by the description of the incident, which made Buck and Vin seem like heroes when they’d acted like idiots who’d almost gotten themselves killed. Some kid with half-a-brain had tried to rob the bank with his buddies, and the would-be gang got scared when they figured it wasn’t going to be as easy as pie. They’d taken hostages, threatened the good people of Four Corners, hidden like tykes when they found the odds were against them, and nearly wet themselves when two lawmen came crashing through the window.

“Could ‘ave gotten themselves killed,” Larabee muttered. Standish hadn’t helped much either, out there in the middle of the street, takin’ bets on the whole thing, but bein’ in exactly the right place when those hooligans tried to run. Any one of them could have gotten shot through.

Still, people had been saved and no one got killed or hurt too badly. Those two had just got cut up a bit. Nothing that couldn’t be quickly rectified by a couple of stitches.

Ezra made money out of the deal -- of course.

Idiots. Gotta watch them every step of the way. Pullin’ fool stunts so often it makes my head spin. Least some of them got some sense. Jackson and Sanchez usually got some smarts to ‘em. Hell, even JD behaves better. Kid’s gonna get a tilted perspective by following the leads of those idiots.

Something moved outside the door. Larabee raised his head and waited, ready to bark out his presence if someone dared try to the door. He waited, but the noise stopped and he went back to his reading.

Chris adjusted his position on the wooden seat, avoiding the ragged front. Mighty inconvenient place to get a splinter, he thought, being careful. At least, he decided, this particular privy didn’t stink as bad as the others. When a man needed to… think…for a while…it was worth the risk. But he kept far from the threat.

He read the announcement about the play that had been planned by some of the town’s children -- something to do with Halloween -- witches, ghosts and other crap like that. It was supposed to have occurred last night, but an incident starting with one of Ezra’s poker games and ending with the sore loser being escorted from the town called an end to the festivities in a hurry. Probably will be reading about all that next week, Chris thought glumly.

Again, he heard footfalls just beyond the door. Something tapped the door. He cleared his throat to make it obvious that the little building was occupied, and the noise stopped.

Well, the play was cancelled. Apparently the loser had declared bodily injury against the gambler and suddenly it wasn’t a good night to have children running about. The loser had been an obvious blow-hard and had tucked his tail between his legs as he disappeared, but town-mothers tend to look down their noses at such things and wouldn’t listen to reason when told that the streets were as safe as any other night.

Always someone tryin’ to call my boys out, Larabee thought. Good God, I have a devil of a time keepin’ them in line. Always tryin’ to kill themselves in some way or another.

Pity about the kids though, Larabee thought. Halloween can be fun for the young ‘uns. Adam sure liked that kinda stuff. The children will get another chance at the show. Force the boys to watch it, he decided. Put them right up at the front so they don’t have a chance to escape. They’ll have to sit through the whole dumb thing -- jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, black cats and all.

He used to enjoy Halloween. Chris smiled, remembering bobbing for apples at some dull Halloween party with Sarah, recalling how Adam laughed on the hayrides.  Yeah, that was good.

He glanced over advertisement for some patent medicine. He smirked, remembering how annoyed Nate had been when he’d read the far-fetched claims. It had pissed the hell out of Nathan. Kept saying how it undermined his authority as a healer -- or something like that.  Made him look bad.  Yup, the peaceful and rational healer had almost punched a hole in the wall because his anger. Josiah had needed to calm him down.  But, it ended up with Sanchez doing exactly that when Nathan wouldn’t shut up about it. Now, that’s the sort of thing I expect out of Sanchez -- man’s got a temper. Should get better out of Jackson, but Nate’s just as human as the next man.

Larabee recalled Nathan’s voice, crying out against “Dr. Buckland's Scotch Oats Essence” and how it claimed to cure sleeplessness, paralysis, opium habit, insanity, brain softening, drunkenness, neuralgia, sick headache, sciatica, nervous dyspepsia, nervous exhaustion, ovarian neuralgia, epilepsy, St. Vitus's Dance (and etc.). Vin had been calling Buck -- Dr. Buckland ever since then.

Chris chuckled and then straightened. He’d reached the end of the newspaper and the end of his …session. With a sigh, he gave the newspaper one last glance. It was a shame really. Mary Travis put a lot of work into the broadsheet. Pity that so many of them ended their existence in this manner. But, the latest edition of the Sears catalog was a week away and there was only so much paper around.

With a shrug, he put an end to the newspaper, pulled up his trousers, buttoned up, undid the latch, and pressed one hand against the door. 

It wouldn’t open.

He frowned and shoved harder. The door still wouldn’t give. With a snarl, he put his shoulder into it. The door creaked and groaned, but refused to move. Outside, someone shuffled about. He heard the distinct sound of a stifled laugh.

“Damn it!” he growled. “Listen here, you goddamn sons of bitches!” he shouted through the crack. “Let me out of here!”

Something creaked. Something groaned. Chris looked stepped back and up as dust came down on him. The outhouse shuddered.

“I don’t know who the hell you are, but you better get wise real quick.”

Nails shrieked ad the whole building started pitching to one side. Alarmed, Larabee braced himself, but the privy settled back to its meager foundation.

“Damn it!” His Peacemaker came clear of his holster, but he resisted the urge to shoot out wall, not knowing who was tormenting him. “Joke’s over! Now, cut the crap and let me…”

Before he could finish, the building pitched again, more violently than before. Chris threw up his arms as the wall came toward him. He tried to step back, but the narrow room gave him no quarter. He crashed against the other wall.

It was enough to finish off the toppling structure. One second he was standing in the only decent smelling privy available for public use. The next… he was flat on his back, with shattered planks all about him.

Frustrated, flustered, furious and a little frightened, Chris scrambled to his feet, throwing off the littered wood and trying to keep clear of the now exposed hole. The curses flowing from his lips were enough to send anyone in earshot scurrying. As he finally broke free of the wreckage, Larabee shot viscous glances in all direction, but there was no sign of who had attacked him.

Dusting violently at his arms and kicking at the planks that still impeded his path, he swore, “I’ll kill him. I’ll gut Wilmington if it’s him. Wring Standish’s neck. If it’s Tanner…dammit… I’ll drop him down this goddamn hole and drown him. Damn it! Sons of bitches!”

Curious townspeople glanced around the corners of the nearby buildings at the ruckus and, seeing the gunslinger’s dark look -- quickly pivoted and disappeared.

I’ll kill ‘em all.


"You did what?” Buck was incredulous. He leaned forward on the desk, glaring at the man before him. “Do you got any sense whatsoever? You know that man’s a killer, dontcha?” With an irritated look, he glanced to one side. “Shut up, Ezra,” he barked at the conman who was doubled over in a fit of laughter. He threw a ferocious look at Tanner who was jiggling with glee, not making a sound. “You too, Tanner.”

Vin made a motion as if he was buttoning his mouth shut, which only made Ezra laugh harder. Buck decided to turn his back on them and do his best to ignore their antics -- putting his attention back where it belonged-- on JD Dunne. “You got ANY sense at all, boy?” he demanded, his eyes growing large.

JD smiled slyly, looking toward the other two for support. “It’s Halloween,” he explained.

“I know it’s Halloween, kid,” Buck returned sharply. “Just ‘cause it’s a day for ghosts and spooks don’t mean that you gotta rush to become one.” He reached out and smacked JD in the forehead, knocking his bowler to the ground. “Where the hell’s your sense?”

“It was just a little prank,” JD returned, trying to look brave, but feeling the fury of the bigger man. “We done stuff like that all the time back in New England. We were always knocking down outhouses on Halloween.”

“Not with folk still in ‘em!” Buck yelled back.

“Sometimes,” JD’s voice became quieter under Buck’s angry glare. “He had the Clarion with him, so I knew he'd be a while.  I had time to set it up.  Waited ‘til he tried the door so I knew he had his pants up. It’s more fun when someone’s in there still. Didn’t cause no harm.”  

“No harm, huh? Bet you never knocked down any privy with a confirmed killer inside.”

“A black-hearted gunslinger, known for his quick draw and his deadly aim,” Ezra drawled, tittering still. “And ‘aim’ is important in certain circumstances.”

“Yup,” Tanner included, his eyes closing to slits as he tried not to laugh out-loud. “Bet ya scart the crap outta him, JD.” And both Tanner and Standish collapsed in unrestrained hilarity.

The corners of Buck’s mouth turned up, unable to restrain himself any more. He chuckled, “I sure would've liked to ‘ave seen the look on his face when you shoved him over. Lordy! Can you imagine?”

JD, feeling the tide turning, grinned widely. “Figure it gave him a start.”

“Talkin’ ‘bout a ‘start’, you’d best start runnin’, boy,” Buck said, nodding toward the door. “Lookie who’s comin’ and he don’t look too happy.”

JD stiffened as he saw a dark shadow storming toward the jail. “Sure looks mad,” the young sheriff mumbled, feeling the blood leave his face.

“Kinda nice to see ‘im mad at someone else for a change,” Vin commented, giving JD a slug in the arm. “Usually it’s me or Ezra or Dr. Buckland here.”

“Quite true,” Ezra said, giving JD a chuck on the chin. “For once, I will escape Larabee’s ire and get off scott free.”

“Can’t hardly believe it,” Buck added. “Bet Larabee won’t be able to either. Bet he’ll think it was one of us and it’ll take a hell of a time convincing him it was JD who...” Wilmington trailed off.  He paled as he came to a realization. He looked up, meeting first Vin’s and then Ezra’s eyes. “Lordy,” he exhaled.

“Sweet Mother of God,” Ezra added. “The man does tend to shoot first and ask questions later.”

“Crap!” Vin shouted.

As one, the three turned. They flung themselves at the back door in one confused mass. Ezra managed to force the door open, but Buck shoved him down and ran right over him. Standish almost made it to his feet, but was downed by Vin who was hot on Wilmington’s heels. Finally, in a blind panic, the gambler struggled upright and scrambled after them.

JD cautiously moved to the window, noting Larabee as he stopped, squinted, swore and took off at a run after the departing three.

The kid smiled as he bent down to pick up his hat. He laughed, dusting it off and went in search of Josiah and Nathan, dreaming up further trouble for devil’s night.

THE END - By NotTasha

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