CATEGORY: Challenge - OW
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Ezra and all the guys
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: December 2004 Magnificent 7 Challenge, offered by offered by Beth B:  I would love to see the guys (all seven), in a desperate situation! All seven are hurt, or it can be anything from blood blisters trapped under fingernails to exhausting every nurse and doctor at the local hospital (they don't have to have the same injury, LOL). Any time of year, any AU (as long as it's open)
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments are greatly appreciated.
DATE: December 28 , 2004

To a Year Less Exciting
By NotTasha...excitement without end

January 1

Dear Mother:

I hope this New Year finds you well and un-incarcerated.  There’s nothing like a jail sentence to end a festive occasion, as you and I are both well aware.  Are you enjoying your stay in Charlotte?  That city has always been a particular favorite of mine, so I’d beg you not to spoil it for me.  I’d prefer to be able to walk the streets without fear of reprisal for your doings.

I hope that your New Year’s Eve was merrily spent.   Such were my plans, but alas, as you well know, the best laid plans of mice and men…

All started easily enough.   Mr. Dunne, that energetic lad with the unfashionable hat, became quite enamored with the idea of a full-blown New Year’s Eve celebration.  And, by “full-blown”… I mean to say that he wanted to see things blow up.  Someone had convinced him that town has been a little too dull lately and we could all “use some excitement.”  The boy loves fireworks, so who was I to deny him that tiny bit of joy? 

Mr. Wilmington (mustache – considers himself a ladies’ man) immediately agreed – and several of us journeyed to visit a nearby Chinese camp, to see what they might have to offer for the occasion.

All went well during our journey, until Mr. Tanner (long hair, atrocious jacket) figured that a damsel we came across was in distress and needed rescuing.   The damsel was a wizened crone in a hovel with a water-pump that refused to give up its bounty, even after a liberal priming.  Mr. Tanner thought himself capable of making that pump sing.  Unfortunately, the pitiable man only managed to wrench his back. He sang rather loudly at the incident.

The poor fellow could hardly move, and could not mount his steed without difficulty.  Since we wished to make our trip to the camp in a reasonable fashion, we departed, leaving Mr. Tanner to the good graces of the old witch, who promised to deliver him safely to town on a buckboard once she finished her chores.

We wished him well and went on our way.

Upon reaching the Chinese camp, it took no time whatsoever to find a man who was willing to sell us his explosive wares – in fact we found several , and a bidding war ensued.  We’d just managed to work out an excellent price for our desired commodity, when Mr. Dunne had some sort of an attack.  Apparently, he’d purchased a ‘strength’ elixir from one of the nefarious curmudgeons that sell snake oil and such to unsuspecting children – yes, I know, Mother, it is a lucrative practice, but I haven’t used that con in years.

The boy must have been allergic to something in the mix because he broke out in the most amazing conglomeration of hives.  Fortunately, the reaction was limited mostly to skin irritation, but the boy suffered.  We received advice from many, but no free samples of an antidote were forthcoming.  Not wanting to test (purchase) any more of their miracle cures, we decided to return post-haste to town.  Of course, I did pause long enough to pick up what we’d bought, and came away with a promising assortment of rockets and colorful noisemakers.

By the time we returned to town, the poor boy was red as a beet and beside himself with irritation – both from his skin ailment and from the ministrations of Mr. Wilmington.  The lothario felt somewhat to blame for Mr. Dunne’s condition – apparently he had switched Mr. Dunne’s ‘strength’ potion with something meant to make the boy sneeze, in an attempt to get back at him for some slight in the past.  Did I mention young Dunne was sneezing as well?  Have you ever heard an elephant trumpet?  Wildlife fled at our approach.  I saw a whole herd of pronghorns in terrified flight.

The repentant Wilmington had attempted to play nursemaid to Dunne, only annoying the usually good-natured lad to near apoplexy.  Upon our return to town, Mr. Wilmington attempted to help Mr. Dunne from his mount.  

Mr. Dunne wanted nothing to do with the assistance.  He dismounted, mid-sneeze, and fell rather spectacularly on top of the obliging Mr. Wilmington.  Crushed beneath the lad, Mr. Wilmington managed to twist his knee dreadfully and bruise his backside.  He could hardly stand in the aftermath.  The sheer creativity of his cursing would have amused you, Mother.  I’m certain you’ve never heard those exact combinations ever uttered in English – German, maybe.  But knowing you, I’m certain that nothing would have astonished.

Mr. Jackson (whom you’ll remember as you briefly hired the gentleman as a doctor for your erstwhile establishment) and Mr. Sanchez (whom you may recall due to his designs on you – on second hand, you may not recollect him at all because he was and is penniless) came to the assistance of Mr. Wilmington, and promptly brought him to Mr. Jackson’s place of business.  Mr. Dunne came along noisily, and I, always enjoying entertainment, followed.

Upon settling Mr. Wilmington, Mr. Jackson made the ill-advised choice of ‘helping’ him.  When Mr. Jackson attempted to manipulate the damaged knee, Mr. Wilmington unintentionally (?) stuck out, catching our esteemed healer in the eye and nose.  Jackson was staggered and came away with a blackened eye and a bloody nose.  He left Wilmington alone after that, telling him that rest would be best for his swollen knee and bruised sit-upon.  I told Mr. Jackson that a shot of whiskey would work wonders for his bruised visage, and promptly served him such, and Mr. Jackson took in the drug immediately.  Wilmington and Dunne received the same.  Miraculously, it appeared to cure the boy’s sneezing, but he itched just the same.  Sanchez decided he required healing as well, and I have never refused a refreshing bracer -- so we all partook.

During all this, Mr. Tanner finally arrived, riding like royalty in Old Crone’s rather rustic conveyance.  He looked worse for the wear.  Since Mr. Sanchez and I were the only manpower currently available, we managed to retrieve a grateful Mr. Tanner from the wagon and delivered him to Mr. Jackson’s abode – displacing Wilmington from the bed.  A cushioned chair and an elevated footrest proved adequate for Wilmington’s malady.

I dosed Mr. Tanner soundly.  Mr. Sanchez required further medication as well.

Mr. Jackson ordered a bath for Mr. Dunne utilizing a soothing powder, so Mr. Sanchez and I were sent on the mission to request such from Mr. Breen at the bathhouse.  It was dark by this hour, so we felt there’d be little problem in securing said bath for our ailing Mr. Dunne.

Upon hearing of the situation, Mr. Breen flat-out refused, stating that anyone with an obvious skin disorder was turned from his door.  Mr. Sanchez became somewhat irate, explaining that Mr. Dunne's situation was brought on by an allergic reaction and wasn’t ‘catching’.  Regrettably, when his ire is up and when he’s well into his cups, Mr. Sanchez isn’t the most levelheaded thinker.  He advanced on Mr. Breen, determined to either get what he wanted or to wring the proprietor’s neck.

Mother, you are aware that the floors of bathhouses are often somewhat moist.  It is unavoidable.  One will sometimes find a residue left from bath oils or soaps.  It happens.  Mr. Sanchez must have forgotten this truth, as he managed to hit a specifically oily spot (lily of the valley scent, I believe).  His foot shot right out from under him and, before anyone could react, he’d come crashing down like a mighty oak.  It was fantastic to witness! Arms flailed.  Legs pumped.  I could have sold tickets for a repeat performance.

I rarely use Lily of the Valley.

Sanchez lay there for a moment or two.  Mr. Breen felt that dousing him with water might be the best solution to get him moving, but I was able to prevail and let Mr. Sanchez come around on his own.  With a little encouragement I up-righted him, though he blinked and looked thoroughly baffled.  Breen helped me leverage Sanchez to his feet, but Breen wanted nothing to do with getting him up those stairs to Mr. Jackson’s abode.  I was left to accomplish this Herculean task on my own.

Mother, remember this, and remember it well -- concussed individuals tend to vomit – sometimes explosively.  I escaped any soiling, due to my quick reflexes, but I believe, in the future, those on the boardwalk will do their best to avoid the walk below Mr. Jackson’s place of business.

By the time I hauled Mr. Sanchez up the stairway and into Jackson’s business, Mr. Larabee had arrived and was looking rather vexed about the recent goings on.  Unlucky for me, I had been away during most of the discussion and the blame for the events was somehow leveled squarely against me.

Yes, I admit that I had started the ‘fireworks’ conversation with Mr. Dunne, and had pointed out where to get the same, and had obliquely suggested that Mr. Tanner should help the crone, and I may have told Mr. Wilmington about an excellent way to get back at Mr. Dunne – but the rest was purely accidental.

The ‘clinic’ was getting rather full, so Mr. Larabee sent me off on a series of errands, beginning with ordering (on my dollar in spite of the fact that the good Judge Travis should cover our expenses) dinner for all (paying dues, as he called it), and ending with taking a ‘patrol’ of the town.  I don’t know if I’ve ever told you what ‘patrol’ entails, Mother.  Mostly, it’s just idling about the town, looking as if you’re interested in goings-on.  I wandered about a bit and then found a game worthy of my devotion.

I should have chosen my location more wisely, because Mr. Larabee promptly discovered me. You know how I abhor being disturbed in the middle of a game, and I told him so.  He didn’t care for my demeanor and tried to haul me out by my collar.

Let me get this straight with you from the start – I did not shoot Mr. Larabee.  Yes, guns were drawn, but as response to the actions of others.  Mr. Pitt, a poor player at best, thought Mr. Larabee and I were in league, and that I was trying to run out on that particular hand (which I would have won, by the way, if I were allowed enough time.  I only had a pair of twos but that was hardly a problem).  Mr. Pitt was the first to go for his gun.  If he were simply trying for Mr. Larabee, I would have kept my weapon soundly holstered, but since he seemed determined to take out his ire on yours-truly, I had no choice but to release my derringer.

Whether I shot first – or if it were Mr. Larabee – is not the issue.  If it were to be argued though, I most certainly was quicker.  Mr. Larabee and perhaps members of the audience would say otherwise.  The observers would automatically assume that Mr. Larabee was the quicker draw and would vote accordingly.  Also, it would probably be in their best interest to not annoy the man-in-black too excessively.

Mr. Pitt was quickly dispatched, but he had friends at the table.  There was some gunplay, the result being two of my competitors dead, three fleeing, Mr. Larabee shot – and the pot was all mine.  Yes, I was glad to have it, but I do count on repeat customers.

After delivering the dead to our local undertaker, a sleep-deprived Mr. Ben Mack, Mr. Larabee needed an escort to Mr. Jackson’s business.  The latter was necessary, not because I was in fear of him expiring, for the wound was far from mortal -- a mere scalping of his forearm – but rather I was in dread of him ignoring the injury, leaving it to fester and to eventually turn gangrene.  I would be blamed.  I figured that my survival depended on his survival – so I saw to it that it was seen to immediately.

Mr. Jackson’s eyes were rather swollen up by this point, but he was able to see well enough to tend the hole in Mr. Larabee’s arm – maybe not as neatly as usual.  His clinic was full-up.  Mr. Tanner was stretched out in the bed, moving in discomfort because of his back.  Mr. Wilmington was seated beside the bed (using the mattress as a footrest), wobbling painfully on his offended derriere.

Mr. Dunne was enjoying his bath in one corner of the room (I suppose Mr. Jackson had gotten Breen to supply the portable tub and water, as Breen felt somewhat responsible for Mr. Sanchez’ injuries).  Mr. Sanchez was sitting in the corner with his head in his hands and a bucket between his feet.  The poor soul was an interesting shade of green, seeing double and not quite with us.  He kept calling me ‘Miguel’ for some unfathomable reason.

A bandaged Mr. Larabee was settled in a chair by the window and was glaring out into the night, possibly looking for those three that had run off after our altercation.  His arm was dressed, but apparently he hadn’t been released yet.   Mr. Jackson was toddling amongst them, making certain that everyone under his roof was receiving adequate care.  His swollen eyes gave him the appearance of a squinting raccoon, and his broken nose had bloated to astounding proportions.

They were all rather surly and out of sorts – in need of some sort of distraction.  I left the place before anyone could find something for me to do.

It was at this point that I recalled the impetus for all of this, and came upon a marvelous plan!  It was New Year’s Eve after all and the hour was nearly midnight.  I pondered, what could be better to uplift the spirits of those poor infirmed men?  Fireworks!

I recovered the crate of explosives from its hiding place and sought out a suitable spot as the witching hour approached.

What happened next is not my fault.  At seconds-to-midnight, I lit the first fuse.  I was at a location away from the livery and the horses – knowing not to spook the animals.  I had SAFELY aimed the rocket to the sky, where the others could clearly see the resulting explosions from their cell.  It would have been perfect.  It should have been perfect.

It wasn’t my fault that the rocket went a little astray.

Again, I must state, indisputably, the result was not my fault.  I was merely trying to cheer up my disheartened compatriots, doing what I could to instill a small amount of ‘excitement’ in their discomfort.  The rocket was aimed at the sky.  As you know, I have some familiarity with explosive devices.  There was no good explanation for what happened next, except that the rocket was faulty.  Remember, Mother, never buy fireworks from the cheapest source.  I’ve learned my lesson well.

Still, it wasn’t my fault that the rocket went directly for the clinic's window.

Glass shattered.  Men shouted.  I understand that someone shrieked like a girl (no one owned up).  From what was related to me, the rocket barely missed taking out Mr. Larabee’s head.  Wilmington tells me that Mr. Larabee’s look of shock and horror was something he would never forget, as he watched our ‘boss’ jerk his head away from the window at the last moment.  I’m sorry I missed that.  Wilmington laughs about it still.

The missile streaked into the room, sending un-mended men diving.  It slammed into the far -wall and promptly exploded, illuminating the room as it has never been lit before.  Stunned, shaken and singed, I understand that the men quickly moved into action.   A conflagration was avoided by the already present bathwater.  Mr. Dunne was left shivering and naked in the window-free room while the contents of his bath doused the room.   The fire was out in a matter of seconds – leaving a charred wall, a few burnt linens and the smell of sulfur and camphor.

They managed to collect their wits and their weapons rather quickly (and for JD – a blanket),  and assessed what was going on.  Misters Wilmington and Tanner suspected what had happened, and I believe my name was soundly cursed.  Those that were ambulatory, went out in search of my blood.

I should be glad for that, because I was losing a fair amount of it by that time.  The rocket, I fear, had set off the remainder of the fireworks in its wake and I was caught up in a Mardi Gras the likes of which you’ve never seen before.  I wish I could recall more of it.

The resulting fire led them straight to me.  I am unsure of what they found, exactly, except that it caused Nathan and the others some worry.  This is all that they have told me.

In any case, they decided that I’d received what punishment I deserved, because instead of leaving me to my fate, I was brought, forthwith, to the remains of Nathan’s room, where I remain.

The worst of the destruction has been cleaned away.  A new window has replaced the old.  The place still smells rather burnt, but that could be me.

Mr. Dunne is still an impressive shade of red, but the worst of his malady seems to have passed.  Regrettably, his elephantine sneezing has returned.  Mr. Sanchez has mostly recovered, but he keeps running into things.  Mr. Larabee lingers, although is arm is hardly a hindrance.  Mr. Tanner can’t move.  Mr. Wilmington’s leg keeps him confined, and we all keep Mr. Jackson confined by our mere presence.  I don’t know why those capable of movement haven’t left.

The bed avoided the soaking.  I am currently sharing it with Mr. Tanner.  He asks me to say, “Hey” to you.  He’s been patiently holding the paper as I write, but you can trust his discretion.  He has kept these pages from prying eyes when I am unable to protect them myself.

It has taken me a full day to complete this letter, as I am rather tired and am finding it difficult to move.  I’ve been capable of composing little more than a paragraph at a time.  But fear not, Mr. Jackson tells me that the burns are superficial and what wounds I received from the flying shrapnel will heal.  The eyebrows, he tells me, will return, and mentions that I look perpetually astonished.  He also mentions that if I stop behaving so recklessly, I should survive this.  You should be laughing now.

We will all be healthy – eventually – so the year will only improve from now on.

I will end this letter with a wish of prosperity for you in the New Year.  I hope your New Year’s was a little less exciting than mine.  Let us raise a toast to a year less exciting.  Considering how this last one ended, I am glad it's over – I can only hope for improvement in the new one.

Hang it.  I suppose I wouldn’t want it any other way.  It was somewhat enjoyable up until the last part.

Best of everything to you.  With much affection, your son,


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