RATING: PG... for some swearing
CATEGORY: Challenge - OW
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Kale, Rodriguez and Peterson… oh and some other guys 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: This is in response to the September Magnificent 7 Challenge:  Write a story from a villain's POV.
FEEDBACK: Yes please!
comments are greatly appreciated.
DATE: September 4, 2001

Turn of Luck
By NotTasha...who could use a little luck

Kale sighed, hanging back in the darkness and watching the foot traffic pass the alleyway.  He grimaced and turned to face his partners -- Peterson and Rodriguez. It was dark where they stood, but he could make out their hunched forms in the alley  -- Rodriguez, the big Mexican, and Peterson who had all the connections.  Kale was the brains of the operation -- the man with the big ideas.

Peterson stepped forward, his posture asking a question. Kale shook his head sharply.  Too many folks out there right now, he thought.  Gotta wait for the right moment.

What they needed, was a good turn of luck.  So far tonight, there had been none. Kale had spotted one or two possible marks, but every time he found a target, the street would get suddenly crowded, making an attack unadvisable.  When the street finally emptied enough to allow for a 'snatch', all he'd find were penniless bums or locals.  He wasn't going to take a local. No, that would bring too much trouble.  Someone might miss him.    Besides, he thought, the locals liked him.  Yeah, they all thought he was a big-shot -- someone to look up to -- especially since the money had started rolling in.

What he needed to find was someone with a mess of cash who wouldn't be missed AND who was all alone on the street. They'd been here for well over an hour and the right opportunity hadn't presented itself. All they had to do was grab some unsuspecting traveler, get the loot, and dispose of the body.  Leave no one behind to tell a tale. Then, they'd saunter down the alleys to Ma Peterson's.  She'd claim that her son and his friends had been there all night.  The take would be split between them -- with Ma getting a little something for her troubles.

Ridge City was overrun with travelers  -- the plague of the city -- all coming to meet a train.  Taking out one of these visitors was easy.  They had done it twice before without any trouble -- they were good at it.  Once the deed was done, they'd just pry up the seat off the privy and drop the body down where no one would look.  The shack on the end was dim enough, deep enough and certainly smelly enough to keep anyone from making the unpleasant discovery.  They'd been able to line their pockets nicely, getting enough cash to keep out of trouble.  Ma had some pretty things for her house and everyone had a souvenir or two.

He smiled as the street emptied again.  He was living the high-life with his gang.  It was so easy, he was afraid that other gangs might figure it out and try to muscle in on his territory.  Well, as long as they didn't take away his business he'd put up with that.  They were making a good living and would continue to do so if their luck held.

They were left in dull silence and the street was once again vacant.  Rodriguez scuffed his feet in the dirt and Peterson picked at his sleeves.

Kale drew in a breath and signaled to his partners when he noticed someone coming toward them on that lonely boardwalk -- one man…alone.  He smiled as he recognized the hat.  The runt that they'd seen earlier that day was actually coming toward them.

The young man walked with a confident skip in his step, hands in his pockets, and that ridiculous bowler pushed forward on his head.  Damn, he was actually whistling.

Kale licked his lips.  The kid had money.  Yes, he's seen the boy raking in a pile at the poker tables earlier -- lucky little brat.  Kale couldn't repress the ironic smile that formed on his lips.  Your lucky day has ended, he thought.  This one might be the mother lode they were looking for.  He heard Rodriguez and Peterson come up behind him.

"Ready?" he whispered, glancing to the other two.  They nodded, not taking their eyes off the kid.  The runt stepped off one boardwalk and started across the open space that formed the alley.  He never made it to the next walk.

Six hands closed on him.  One hand wrapped around his mouth, stifling any chance of crying out as he was dragged into the darkness. He dug in his heels, but it did no good against the combined force of three larger men.   He was like a bagged rattlesnake, twisting and turning, trying to fight his way out of their grip.   Damn!  Kale didn't expect the little guy to put up such a fight.  He received an elbow to the gut and Peterson got his foot stomped before Rodriguez went into action.  He grabbed his knife, displayed it for the kid and then held it against the runt's throat.  The kid's eyes grew wide in the dim light of the alley and he stopped his struggles.

Peterson found the kid's guns. He was carrying twin pearl-handled Colt Lightnings -- impressive weapons for such a pup.  Someone might expect sidearms like that on a gunslinger.  Obviously the kid was playing at being a gunman.

Peterson chuckled as he shoved the guns into a gunnysack.  They'd be worth a penny or two.  Kale would have to remind Peterson of that when he went to pawn the stuff.  Sometimes, it seemed, Peterson didn't get enough for what he brought to the broker. Peterson had said that the broker was a good guy, but somehow they always ended up getting screwed.  The weapons would have to be sold, of course. Kale never carried one himself. Let the Mexican get his hands dirty.

With a laugh, Peterson seized the bowler off the kid's head; somehow, the boy had managed it keep it in the struggle.  Always the clown, Peterson put it on his own head for a moment.  He pulled a few silly faces before he tossed it in the bag after the guns.  He ruffled the youngster's hair as Rodriguez held the knife.

"Quiet now, chico," Rodriguez whispered in his ear.  "You be good boy and maybe we don't kill you, yes?" Stefan always sound so sweet and believable when he said that.

"Yeah," Peterson said, knowing it was better if the mark thought he'd live through this. "You behave yourself now and we'll send you back to your mama without a scratch."

The boy's dark eyes narrowed.  He looked as if he would have shot razors at Peterson if he could.

Peterson looked  unnerved by the boy's glare.  "You keep quiet and maybe Stefan'll let go of your mouth."  Rodriguez was the next one to glare at Peterson.  A slip up…Hell, it didn't matter if the kid knew his name.  He'd be dead in a minute or two.

The kid nodded curtly, as much as Stefan could allow, and Rodriguez released the hold he had on the kid's mouth, but kept the knife ready.  "Remember, chico," he murmured.  "You make a peep and I cut out your throat."

The kid was shoved against a wall.  He fought to keep his balance, his eyes shifting from one attacker to the next.  He tensed, as if he planned to jump them, but Rodriguez kept the blade close, ready to slice if necessary.  The knife was a nicely quiet weapon, but messy as all hell.  It would work in a pinch if the boy got antsy, but the Mexican preferred the garrote that curled in his pocket.

"Hand it over, boy," Peterson ordered.  "All of it.  We know you got money.  Seen you takin' it from them gamblers at Yancy's."  The town's high-rollers-- or rather the town's biggest cheats -- had been at that table.  Money had flowed like water and most of it ended up on this boy's side of the table.

Kale moved into a position to block the spectacle from whomever might pass the alley.  They had found that this transaction worked best if they kept their mark alive until they were ready to dispose of him.  It was easier to search the pockets of an upright man, easier to walk a living man to his final destination then to drag a body.  The mark could be kept quiet by a few idle promises.

He could hear Peterson and Rodriguez roughing up the kid a bit as he turned his attention on the street.  If their luck held, no one would pass by their hiding place until after the transaction was completed.

Kale hissed a warning as a man quickly approached.  He slid back into the darkness and Rodriguez again pressed his hand over the kid's mouth. Kale damned his luck, realizing that it was that southern gambler he had seen at the tables earlier -- not one of the local frauds.  The expensive clothing and jewelry would have been reason enough to take on this one...but Kale had seen him lose a stack to the boy.  He smiled to himself as the gambler continued past without stopping.  The brightly dressed popinjay seemed to be looking for something, but never turned their way.  'You got lucky tonight, Reb,' Kale thought.  'Count your blessings that you lost that money , 'cause it probably saved your damned worthless life.'

Once the man had passed, Peterson started shoving at the kid again, demanding he hand over everything.  The kid started emptying his pockets, handing over all sorts of crap: scraps of paper, a stubby pencil, a whistle, a tin type in a frame, a set of keys, a cheap pocket watch, a match case, a handkerchief, half-a-sandwich, one of them dime-store novels.  Ah, Kale thought, that's where he got the idea to carry those big guns.  He's just pretending to be one of his heroes.

Peterson was getting impatient, but Rodriguez was smiling, chuckling softly as he continued to hold the knife on the boy, murmuring softly in that oily-sounding Spanish of his.

"The money!"  Peterson demanded in a whisper.  "Give me the damn money!"  He gave up on waiting for the runt to finish, and started rifling the kid's pockets himself, finding them empty.  "What you do with it?" he demanded, pulling out the pockets in his search.  The kid glared but didn't make a sound.

"Get the cash," Kale hissed, turning toward the group.  "Stop screwing around!"

"I can't find it!"  Peterson whined, roughing patting at the young man.  It had to be there!  Kale paced in a tight circle. How the hell could Peterson miss it? The wad had to be huge!  Even an idiot like Rodriguez could find it.

Kale frowned severely.  Damn it all!  Did the kid leave the money somewhere?  Maybe it was back in the hotel.  DAMN!  He gave the sign to Rodriguez.  Time to cut their losses, take the kid on a little walk.  Rodriguez ran his tongue over his lips and fingered the bit of wire in his pocket.

"Well, well, well," a voice drawled from behind him.  "What have we here?"  Kale spun around and looked in disbelief at the form leaning in the entrance to the alley.  How the hell did someone sneak up on him?  It was that gambler again, his idiotic grin discernable in spite of the low light.

The boy got stupid and started to struggle forward, but Rodriguez wasn't so easily distracted.  The knife was shoved to the boy's throat, drawing a thin line of blood.  The kid gasped as he pressed himself back into the wall behind him.

"Silencio, chiquito!"  Rodriguez growled at the boy.

The gambler strode into the alleyway, not a concern in the world.  He wasn't an obvious threat.  Dressed in foppery, he would be easy to take down.  Kale was about to grab hold of him when the southerner spoke. "Saints be praised, you caught that arrogant juvenile."

The three men looked at him in disbelief as he continued speaking, "The little bastard tried to take me at the tables.  Dame Fortune sat beside him during the game, but it seems to me that she has now fled him for better prospects.  His luck has definitely turned."

The three men exchanged suspicious glances as the southerner sidled closer to Kale and gave him a conspiratorial glance.  "He keeps his money in his boot," he said smoothly.

Peterson gave the gambler an appraising look and Rodriguez laughed merrily, keeping his eyes on the boy.  The kid looked dumbfounded, staring at the gambler with wide eyes.  He was about ready to speak, but he seemed to come to a realization and slammed his mouth shut.

"Your boot, eh?" Peterson asked.  He shoved the kid to the ground, Rodriguez keeping the knife ready as the kid fell.

Kale watched the gambler, who smiled widely as the boy uttered an "oof!"  This was ridiculous.  They didn't need a spectator!  But the gambler seemed to be tickled pink to see the kid roughed-up.

"The overconfident little kit thought he could best me," the gambler muttered.  "Well, we'll see what comes of that.  I'm certain that the injustice will be rectified and all parties will get what they deserve.  Perhaps someone will learn a little lesson today?"

Peterson cried with joy as he yanked loose one of the kid's boot and a bundle of cash dropped out.  The gambler looked speculative as Peterson snatched up the cash.  "Check the other as well," the Reb instructed.  "That isn't nearly enough.  I'm thinking that he won twice that amount at the table.  Seems the child doesn't trust the inhabitants of this town and thought his holdings would be safer if hidden."  He smiled ironically at Kale, then nodded as if he came to a conclusion. "I will be receiving a cut for this information, won't I?"  The southerner raised an eyebrow.

Kale spat.  He never would have thought to check the boots.  If this Reb hadn't happened by, the money would have ended up rotting in all that crap.  "Sure, Johnny," Kale replied.  "You'll get a reward."  The gambler could be killed just as easily as the boy.  He certainly didn't seem like much.  Gamblers were all alike in that regard -- too much time sitting around a poker table and not enough time spent in menial labor.   He'd have less fight than the little fish that Rodriguez held under his knife.

The southerner nodded eagerly.  "I do believe that a good portion of that money came from my pockets.  I'm only asking for what that lad took from me."

"There was three other men at that table," Kale replied.  Watching Peterson pull off the other boot and find more money.  Peterson hooted softly, and Rodriguez grinned, showing his broken teeth.  "Seems that those other gamblers put in an awful lot, too -- maybe even more than you." He tried to remember the game he had witnessed.  The gambler had folded early in most of the hands, depleting his stake quickly nonetheless.

The man in the bright jacket shrugged.  "Then I ask only for one fourth.  It seems like a reasonable amount.  I believe the information I provided would be worth that much.  Without that necessary tidbit, you may have rolled him for pocket change."  The kid kept throwing anxious glances at the southerner, as if he was the true concern.  Rodriguez's knife seemed only an annoyance to him now, a distraction that kept him from looking at the gambler who would be dead as well in a few minutes.

The gambler regarded the bootless boy and his face darkened.  For several seconds the two men stared at each other, and in the quiet Rodriguez tucked the knife under his arm to retrieve the second wad of cash.

"How dare you look at me that way," the Reb declared suddenly.  "Did you honestly believe you could get away with depriving me of all my money?"  He approached the kid slowly, maliciously.  "Did you feel you were somehow better than me?  You made me look like a fool today, boy.  You'll pay for that."

The kid pressed his back against the wall as the southerner came closer.  "Weren't nothin' I could do about that," the boy whispered, glancing to Rodriguez and then back to the gambler.  His captors had stepped back enough to give the gambler room.  Kale smiled, enjoying the entertainment.  "Seems you made yourself a fool all by yourself," the boy stated boldly.

Enraged, the gambler grabbed the kid by the lapels and jerked him to his feet.  "What did you say?"

The boy swallowed.  "Seems to me that you're the one that made an ass of yourself.  Weren't nothin' that I did.  You just couldn't play worth spit."

The gambler's face contorted in rage as he shoved the kid against the wall.  "You'll pay for that, boy!"

Rodriguez chuckled.  Peterson looked nervous, throwing glances toward the open alleyway and to Kale.

Kale shrugged at Peterson and smiled.  Let the southerner have a little fun.  If things worked out right, maybe the gambler would kill the boy.  They'd kill that gambler in 'self-defense'.  Might not have to worry about prying up the seats of the outhouse this time to dump in the bodies.  Hell, they might come out as heroes when all was said and done.  Visions of parades and grateful festivals danced in Kale's head.  Nobody would mind a bit if Rodriguez gutted the gambler after the gambler shot the boy.

Kale watched, intrigued, as the gambler shoved the kid against the wall again.  Yeah, maybe someone would learn a lesson today.  He grinned, as he watched the kid struggle in the gambler's grip.  More than one person would learn a lesson today, he thought.  The kid and the gambler were both too trusting and they'd lose more than a little money over this fact.

In the dim light, Kale thought he saw the gambler nod.  The boy's loose hands reached inside the Reb’s jacket.  The gambler dropped his hold on the kid and spun around.  Peterson gasped and Rodriguez growled as three guns came into view.

Kale looked in disbelief as the boy trained a pistol at Rodriguez.  His eyes opened even wider as he realized that the gambler held a weapon in each of his hands, easily covering both him and Peterson.  The gambler and the kid stood shoulder to shoulder against the wall, formidable and dangerous.

"I would suggest," the Reb said, "That you drop that knife immediately."

The knife thudded to the ground as Rodriguez held up his hands.  The big Mexican looked about as scared as a little girl.

"Mr. Dunne," the gambler said in a disinterested voice, "perhaps you'll see fit to search them for any further weaponry?"

The kid grinned.  "Sure, Ez."  I got no problem with that."  He hitched up his gun belt and stepped toward Rodriguez, keeping a bead on him.  "Hey there, Steve," the boy said.  "Let's see if you know how to behave." The gambler guarded the other two men with his weapons.

Rodriguez trembled in fear as the kid searched him.  He held his hands high, letting the kid take his guns without any trouble  "Lo siento, Señor," he muttered to the kid.  "I didn't do you no harm, no?  We are friends, yes?"

Peterson was babbling, "It was all Kale's idea.  He made me do it!  He's the one that come up with the idea.  Stefan's the one that killed those other folks.  They done it, not me!  I was just tryin' to help my Ma keep her house.  That's all.  I was just helpin' Ma!"

"Other folks?" the southerner drawled.  "Please tell me more."

Kale glared at Peterson.  "Shut up!  You idiot!  These little shits don't know nothing!"  He looked in alarm at the gambler.  "Look," he pleaded.   "We'll give ya back the money.  Give you a cut of what we got before.  Okay?  Let's just forget about this."

The Reb seemed to be contemplating this.  "Mr. Dunne," he called as the kid shoved Rodriguez's guns into his own holsters. "Do you think you'll be able to forget this incident?"

The kid found the garrote and he puzzled over it before a look of comprehension crossed his face. He shoved the wire into his pocket as he stared into Stefan's dark eyes.  "Don't think so, Ez," the kid replied.  "I got a mighty good picture of what went on.  In fact, I think I'll be able to tell the judge all about it when it comes to that."

Ezra shrugged apologetically.  "Sorry, I tried."

Peterson was babbling, telling them all about the salesman they rolled last week, and the fool businessman from the week before, and told all about where the two unlucky travelers had ended up.

The gambler grimaced in disgust.  Rodriguez looked like he was going to faint.  Peterson couldn't shut up and the kid kept at his task of searching them, finding the fold of money in Rodriguez's pocket before moving on to Peterson.  Kale took his chance, and bolted.

He heard the southerner swear and take off after him.  The kid shouted that he'd take care of the other two, yelling for the Reb to ‘be careful.'  It made no matter to Kale.  Rodriguez, Peterson and even Peterson's ever-lovin' Ma could swing, but not Rupert Kale.  He was going to get the hell out of there.

He fled out of the alleyway and down the street, hearing the too-quick footfalls that followed him.

"Stop!"  the Reb shouted.  Not likely.  He'd only need to outrun this gambler, get on a horse and get the hell away from Ridge City.

He spotted a saddled pinto outside the saloon.  This was going to be too easy.  He'd just need to reach the horse, kick the gambler to the ground, and go.  He started to sprint across the street, but was hardly able to go three feet before something huge hit him from behind.  The heavy blow threw him immediately to the ground.

"I said, 'stop'!" a voice breathlessly chided into his ear. The gambler was on top of him, holding him still.

Kale struggled, but the weight didn't shift and he felt the cold muzzle of a gun against his head.  The sound of a pistol being cocked gets awful loud when it's right up against your ear.  "When I say, 'stop', I mean 'stop'."

Kale stopped.

He sighed, watching as a crowd gathered. Where did they all come from?  It seemed that half the town was awake now and staring at him.  These were people he knew -- locals.  Someone would help him out of this mess.  These were his friends… they looked up to him.

"Get him off me!"  Kale demanded.  "Can't you see I've been attacked by a madman?"  Mrs. Lander from the bakery was near his head, looking at him in disbelief and disgust.  Mr. LaRue from the station frowned severely.  The blacksmith crossed his arms over his chest and watched mutely.  Why wasn't anyone going to help him?

The gambler tsked.  "Sir, it would appear that you're on your own."  He directed his next statement to the crowd as he asked pleasantly, "Would one of you fine citizens see fit to fetch the local law?"  LaRue took off toward the jail.

The kid strode out of the alleyway with Rodriguez and Peterson before him, holding them captive with those pearl-handled Colts that they'd relived him of a few moments ago.  The two gang members looked defeated, holding their hands high and their heads low.  The boy was still bootless, but he walked with a certain confidence.  That stupid hat was on his head again, set at a rakish angle.

"You okay, Ez?" the kid asked as he continued urging his prisoners forward.

"Right as rain, Mr. Dunne," was the reply.  "The short burst of exercise did me a world of good.  And you, my friend, have you come through this incident unscathed?"

The kid rubbed his neck with the back of his hand , wiping away the blood.  The Colt was still clutched menacingly in his grip.  "Ain't bad.  Just banged me around a bit.  Guess I should count myself lucky that you come by when you did."

"Luck had nothing to do with it, Mr. Dunne.  I was looking for you to discus the results of the night's earlier venture."

The kid smiled.  "Well, it was good that you decided to do it when you did.  Might not have turned out so good if you hadn't."

The gambler on top of Kale sighed theatrically.  "I can't leave you alone for five minutes without…"

Kale stopped listening.  He watched as LaRue entered the jail and then came back at a trot with the sheriff beside him.  He buried his head in his hands as the gambler continued to sit on him and press the gun against his head, as the two continued to chatter.

It was supposed to be so simple, he thought.  Take down an easy mark, make some money, everything would have been perfect.

He sighed, because there was nothing else he could do.  It was just a bad turn of luck.  Who would have suspected that the kid and gambler were in league? It wasn't natural.  It was nothing he could have predicted when he picked out their mark.  He looked up at Rodriguez and Peterson, who fearfully watched the approaching sheriff.  They couldn't blame him.  It was just bad luck.

The southerner was talking to the sheriff now, but Kale's mind was drifting.  It should have turned out much better than this.  He thought he heard the kid declare that he was sheriff in Four Corners and this fop was some sort of a lawman, too.

Who would have believed it?  Yeah, a turn of luck, he thought, and a damn nasty one at that.

THE END - by NotTasha

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