RATING: G nothing really bad here
CATEGORY: Challenge - OW
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Ezra and a bit of Buck too
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 2002 Magnificent 7 Challenge, offered by Gail Gardner - ShipsCat:  
Judge Travis has set our fellows a task that takes them a long, long, long, way from home.  You can send anyone you want or any number. The only thing is that they have to do is write postcards home telling why they aren't making it home for the holidays.  If you are the clever computer wizard include pictures of the postcards...if you are like me then a short description will suffice.  Okay, I'm afraid I didn't send them very far... but... I had these pictures, you see.
FEEDBACK: Yes please!
comments are greatly appreciated.
DATE: December 1 , 2002

Buena Vista
By NotTasha...who's got a good view on the world.

December 25th

Honorable Judge Travis:

I am happy to report that we have completed the fact-finding mission to Buena Vista and I am submitting our findings.  Our understanding is that nearly one hundred eager settlers, currently under your care and supervision, have chosen  this lovely, newly-formed berg for their home-- enticed by advertisements that were peppered with glowing descriptions.  The name "Buena Vista" certain has a charm to it.

The homesteaders came to you for assurance -- wondering if the words were too good to be true -- and you, in turn, decided that 'someone' should check it out.  That settled, you gave the dirty work to my associate and me.

Yes, it is the holiday season, when one should be with friends and family; a time to stay close to home and hearth;  a time for feasting and gatherings.

Why these travelers choose to move their possessions NOW of all times, is beyond me.  Of course, if one is go into the middle of a desert, perhaps the dead of winter is a fine time  to travel.  Duty calls and we must answer.  Of course, when the call of duty includes the threat of imprisonment if not heeded, well I snap to attention.

According to the information received by you and your office , the town of Buena Vista is prepared for their arrival at the first day of the New Year.  The paperwork sent by Mr. Cage and Mr. Hart, the town's leading men, included descriptions of a newly built town hall, church, general store, emporium, multiple restaurants and hotels, a well-maintained livery, school , jail, plenty of homesteads (ready for habitation), an impressive waterway, and the promise of a coming railroad.

Your information concerning this particular locale is somewhat... how shall I say this diplomatically...wanting.

We arrived on December 23rd.  The journey was excruciating.  Not only was the stagecoach  unbearable -- a hardly acceptable mode of transportation under any conditions -- but the company was insipid at best.  Oh, I speak not of Mr. Wilmington, who is always a charming conversationalist, but rather the gentleman that was foisted upon us -- your photographer, Mr. Roman Riley.  He proved to be an ass, a nincompoop and a chatterbox.  And worst of all, he was a bore  - all other personality foibles can be forgiven if one is at least entertaining.   I know you believe that he is a master of the art of photography, but I believe my horse , Chaucer, may have performed the task with more finesse.  Observe the photogravures enclosed in this parcel. 

The first, labeled 'Figure 1', was taken at the insistence of Mr. Riley while we were delayed at one of the larger towns along our route.  He assured both me and Mr. Wilmington that we would be easily identifiable in the finished product.  Buck was standing beside the horse  -- notice only one hind leg remained in frame  (the horse's hind leg, not Mr. Wilmington's.  His is entirely forsaken), and I am invisible within the vehicle .  I submit this piece of evidence as proof of his incompetence.

fig. 1

Nonetheless, Mr. Wilmington and I persevered -- surviving Mr. Riley's inane nattering and the coach's unforgiving suspension system.  We arrived in Buena Vista only a day behind schedule.  I had hoped for some Christmas cheer -- a sprig of holly here and there, an evergreen swag hung over a doorway, a flagon of buttered rum upon our arrival, a fruitcake even...instead we found this.

Sir, I can find  nothing 'buena' about this particular 'vista'.    Behold!  Figure 2 -- the metropolis that you sent us to investigate!

fig 2

Yes, this is the entire town.  The 'blur' you see in the street consists of myself (on the right), Mr. Wilmington (recognizable by his mustache)  Mr. Cage (wearing spurs), and Mr. Hart (in green).  They are showing us about this fine city, destined to be the home to so many of your friends.

Unfortunately, we  found not one church, school, emporium, town hall, jail (God forbid) and could find no trace of a railroad.  What we did find was a variety of saloons, at least two brothels, a music hall, a somewhat unsavory looking place called "Eats", and one barbershop.  Please enjoy a photogravure of Mr. Wilmington receiving  a Christmas  trimming -Figure 3.

fig. 3

Now, you may think that such a place would be a 'heaven' for such a man as me, and I must confess that I usually have a liking for such environs, but it was rather disappointing honestly.  I'd hoped for some sign of 'holiday feeling'.  The lack of such was somewhat, well... strange.  

But that's not important to this report.  Let me state that this is not a place for women and children.  I would suggest that you inform the settlers in your confidence to revise their plans and settle elsewhere.

We decided to explore the surrounding area, in the off chance that the promised homesteads were actually in existence.  Perhaps villas existed in the vistas.  Mr. Wilmington and I set off on the Eve of Christmas.  This is what we found.

fig. 4.

Yes, Figure 4 is the mansion meant to house the Paterson family of eight souls.  Lovely, don't you think?  Won't it look splendid all done up for Christmas next year?  I can imagine the wreath on the door.  

And lest you think this was the sole occurrence -- another:

fig. 5

The building  displayed in Figure 5 was slated for the McAllister family - man and wife, three children, two dogs, a pig.  There's plenty of room for a huge spruce in the front room.

The following, in Figure 6 was destined to become the household of Mike and Mavis Anderson:

fig. 6

Not a pretty sight.

Remember the 'waterway' mentioned in Mr. Hart and Mr. Cage's advertisement?  We discovered it late in the day.  Please study Figure 7.

fig. 7

I am informed that the man on the 'dam' is named Lewis and that one must never, never speak to him.  We  moved on.

Mr. Riley insisted on documenting (per your instruction) unfathomably nonsensical scenes (not your instructions.)  Figure 8 is concerned with a cow.

How much are you paying this man?

fig. 8

And here, honorable sir, in Figure 9 are ducks at Mr. Hart's home and shack (I could never find out for certain which building was the 'home' and which was the 'shack'). 

fig. 9

This was the extent of the town of Buena Vista, one short line of saloons and a scattering of sheds.  

Mr. Wilmington, Mr. Riley and I returned to town for the night, where we  toasted the season before retiring to bed.  Today is Christmas Day.  Mr. Wilmington and I sip coffee as we await the experienced and expert photographer's entrance.  We've packed our bags, providing for a veritable feast on our return journey.  The expense report will be sent separately.  Please note, everything purchased was essential.

If you are reading this report, then Mr. Riley has reached your office.  I hope that his journey has been safe and uneventful.  If he mentions a snake in his luggage -- it was only a snake skin and should have caused no harm  (barring accident).  Mr. Wilmington thought it might help to 'loosen up' the poor clod.

If he mentions an unfortunate dousing, my side of the story is that he slipped -- I tried to catch him and regretfully he ended up in a water trough.  Any talk about 'flying cow-pies' is best ignored.  We believe he imagined the entire incident (and he was never actually 'struck' on any account -- but there were a few near-misses).  Oh, and if  Mr. Riley speaks of a certain dalliance  with a fair creature, Mr. Wilmington hired the woman for the 'evening' -- only the 'evening'.  For her to spend the night would have cost him another two-bits, and Mr. Wilmington wasn't certain of Mr. Riley deserved the extra amount.  If the gentleman's claims exceed the truth, please understand that his imagination has gotten the best of him.

We cannot be held responsible for the fact that his flash powder became exceptionally volatile at one point.  It must have been a bad mix.

I have come to the end of my report.  It's Christmas Day and we  are relaxing at The Gem, in downtown Buena Vista (please note Figure 10, taken yesterday morning).  Yes, every town in this area seems to have a "Gem".  True to form, Mr. Riley has managed to lop off Buck's head, in this image  I am standing in the doorway and unseen.  Apparently I am not photographable.  Curious. I've been told that I am quite photogenic.

fig. 10

Mr. Wilmington would like me to add, "This Boo-enna Vesta ain't half bad onest ye get ta tastin' a bit o' the hootch ,and the lay-dees iz tasty too, whooo-eeee!  Hey!  Write it better, Ez! I don't talk like...!  Stop it! Stop it!  Stop writin' everythin' I say.  I mean it!  Dang nab it!  I'll wring your..."

Forgive the wrinkled papers, Honorable Judge.  An unforeseen breeze took hold of the pages - a veritable windbag.

In any case, we are enjoying our last day in town .  I must finish this report so that we may part ways with Mr. Riley, as his transportation is imminent.  Apparently he found a seat on the back of a buckboard.  He must rush to you, of course ,with this report and his photographic evidence, and the stagecoach isn't headed in your direction.   Roman Riley is not a bad sort really, just a little dull.

Ah, he is entering the establishment as we speak, I must end this letter so that we can toast him and wish him a good journey.  Ah!  He's brought a bottle of bourbon.  Like I said, not a bad sort.

Mr. Wilmington and I will await that wayward coach.  We  hope to return home in time to celebrate the New Year among friends.  So, I bid you adieu, honorable sir.  If you hear that we are delayed in reaching Four Corners, please inform Mr. Larabee that we are on our way.  We do miss that strange group.

We wish you health and prosperity in the New Year, and hope your Christmas was merry.

At your Service,
Mr. Ezra P. Standish

Hope you enjoyed the story/letter...comments

Picture Credits:  Figure 1- Library of Congress;  Figure 2-Joseph E. Smith from the collection of David R Phillips; Figure 3 & 10- the Nevada Historical Society;  Figures 4-9 Courtesy of an odd photo album I saved from the dumpster. They were taken in the early 1900's, so they don't really fit, but I like them anyway.

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