RATING: G - pretty safe
CATEGORY: Challenge - OW
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: September 2002 Magnificent 7 Challenge from Libby: this month’s theme is more a matter of a stylistic challenge…that of the famed dime novel. Broad, sweeping generalizations – and all preconceived expectations held by greenhorns and ladies fanning themselves so as not to swoon in their lavish parlors.  So the boys should follow a stereotype, and the action should be dramatic! heroic! unbelievable! 
FEEDBACK: Yes please! comments are greatly appreciated.
DATE: September 02, 2002

By NotTasha...who could use some

“It’s quiet,” Ezra commented as he leaned against the pommel of his saddle and gazed out across the desert -- its shadows drawn out by the low sun in the evening sky.

“Yeah,” Buck returned.  “Too quiet.”  The two narrowed their eyes then turned to each other and nodded knowingly.  “Too quiet,” Buck repeated.  “Kinda quiet that gets on a man’s nerves, that gnaws on him like a weevil, that bites on him like a handful of fleas, that gets under his skin like a pint of chiggers. That gives him the squirms like a head full of lice.”

Ezra shuddered and tried to blot the images from his mind.  He prayed for a distraction.

Suddenly, his salvation arrived as a collie dog burst out of a thicket of tumbleweeds.  Her coat gleamed like a thousand suns.  Her fur didn't pick up one bit of dust or a shred of debris as she leaped through the underbrush.  She barked erratically and jumped about like a bug on a hot skillet.

“What is it girl?”  Buck demanded.  “Is Timmy down the well again?”

The dog rolled her eyes and woofed.

“Did Old Man Jones get lost in the mine?” Ezra inquired.

The dog shook her head and whined.

“Twister comin’?”  Buck tried.

The dog ran around both the horses, let loose one more disgusted volley of arfs and then disappeared back the way she had come.  Soon, there was nothing but the silence that had surrounded them before.

Buck adjusted his seat in his saddle and Ezra brushed in annoyance at his sleeves.  They remained side by side, staring out at the sun as it sank lower in the sky.  “Quiet,” Buck said again.  “Too damn quiet.”

“Quiet indeed,” Ezra echoed.

"Quiet as a mouse with nowhere to go.  Quiet a nun's bedroom. Quiet as a big ol' slug on a wet tarp. Quiet as a late afternoon in an unnamed part of the desert southwest."  He sucked his teeth and then added in a whisper, "Quiet as a place that's really really quiet."

Ezra grumbled as he noticed a dusty section on his lapel. He pulled a small washboard and a bar of lavender soap from his saddlebag.  Now, if he only had a bucket of water he might try to launder it.

The dog made her return, looking perturbed and prancing around the horses who regarded her with raised eyebrows.

“Why you figure she come back?”  Buck asked, not moving from his saddle.

“Hard to say.  Perhaps she found this activity engaging?”

The dog harrumphed and then leaped toward Buck’s saddle, snagging his loop of rope.  She rolled herself into it and flung herself to the ground, ending up on her back and twiddling her legs in the air.

Both men rubbed their chins and looked askance at each other. “Don’t think I can do anythin’ for her,” Buck commented.

The collie looked disgusted, gave one last yowl as she leapt clear of the rope. One shake was all it took to return her coat to its original luster. She then sprinted off in the direction she had come, yipping energetically over her shoulder.

The two men looked at each other and shrugged.  “That was decidedly odd,” Standish commented.

“Yup,” Buck returned.

“Think she wants us to follow?”  Buck asked.

Ezra shrugged delicately. “One can never be sure about canines.”

The gambler was about to remove his jacket and start the pre-wash when the dog came back, making one last desperate attempt. She found a clear spot in the sand and drew with her paw, making big block letters for the lawmen.

“Left handed,” Buck commented.

“I believe one would say, ‘south pawed’ in the vernacular,” Ezra added in a sophisticated air.

“FOLOW ME,” Buck read aloud.  “She can’t spell.” He smiled.

“The education of our puppy population is deplorable.”  Ezra shook his head in antipathy. “Shall we?” he said, raising an arm in the direction of the dog’s was indicating with her nose and left forepaw, to accompany the large arrow she’d already drawn.  She ran off once more, along the same path as before.

“After you, Ez,” Buck responded magnanimously.

“No, after you, Mr. Wilmington,” Ezra said with a formal bow.

“Ya know, you can call me Buck, Ez,” Wilmington said with a touch of ire in his voice.

“And you can call me Ezra, Mr. Wilmington,” Standish bit back. They both shifted in their saddles, and considered their next move, when a dog barked in the distance, reminding them of the situation at hand.

The two turned at the same time and followed the path blazed by the collie-dog.  It didn’t take long to find her again.  She’d run as far as the railroad tracks and sat on her haunches beside a rather voluptuous young woman who’d found a rather odd place to rest, stretched out across the tracks.

“Ah, ma’am,” Buck said as they approached. “You might want to move yourself to somewhere a bit safer. There’s a train gonna be comin’ through in about an hour or so.”

Ezra pulled a watch from his vest pocket and sighed.  “Actually, Mr. Wilmington, it’ll be a bit sooner than that. Perhaps in the next five minutes.”  As if in answer to his statement, the lonesome wail of the train’s whistle sounded in the distance.  Ezra raised a finger and nodded at his accuracy.

“Oh please!”  The pretty blonde cried, batting her limpid blue eyes. Her hair shown like the sun and her skin was more lovely than porcelain.  “Help me!  Oh please, won't you incredibly handsome men help me!” She was the most beautiful woman either of them had ever seen.  Instantly, they both fell in love with her.

“Good gracious!”  Ezra exclaimed as he noted the unusually large amount of ropes knotted around the woman’s hands and feet, securing her to the rails.  "The damsel is in distress!"

"Think we should do somethin'," Buck said decidedly.  "Something heroic, maybe." And both men dismounted and started to work at the ropes.

"How, exactly, is unbinding a engaging maiden from a iron-based device designed to guide steam-powered apparatus equate to heroics?" Ezra pondered aloud.

"Huh?" Buck responded, and shook his head, watching as Ezra returned a small thesaurus to his saddlebag.  He decided against translation and spoke to the pretty girl. “How did this happen?”

“Awful Tom McMean run my family off the farm and shot my pa.”

“Your paw?”  Buck looked at the lady’s hands as he undid yards of knots, and then glanced at the dog who glared.

“Is your father all right, dear lady?” Ezra asked and he fumbled with the ropes, cursing his lack of skill with that particular form of restraints.

She bit her lip, “Well, Young Doctor Wellbourne was visiting our ranch when it happened.  Surely he’ll help.  He's a renowned frontier doctor, you know.”

Both Ezra and Buck shrugged, having never heard of him before.

Buck frowned as he undid knot after knot that secured her ankles.  The train whistled again, louder and shriller. They could easily see the plume of smoke that signaled the locomotive’s approach. Ezra fumbled uselessly with the bindings, wishing that McMean had thought to use chains and locks.

"It seems," the incredibly good-looking and green-eyed young cardsharp started, "that we are getting nowhere fast."

"We're goin' slower than a couple of pokes goin' slower than slow," the unbearably handsome ladies' man agreed.  “What’s your name, darlin’?” he asked, hoping to keep her from becoming alarmed, but she had the courage of the bravest man.  “Certainly your name as lovely as your pretty little face.”  For indeed, she had the prettiest face he'd ever beheld.  Of course, his gaze had to travel upward somewhat to meet her eyes.  She had something else a little lower that was equally enchanting.

“My name’s Mary Sue,” she replied.  “I can shoot straighter than anyone in this territory, can gamble better than the best card sharp, and can tame wild horsed, too! I can rope, ride, track, heal, preach and woo better than just about anyone and I have a youthful innocence that is only complemented by my worldly wisdom.  And everybody loves me wherever I go.”

“Ahh,” both men sighed, feeling their hearts beat a little faster. Both were deeply love with the darling damsel. As she gazed back at them from her prone position, her eyes were filled with an inner strength that gave Buck and Ezra the will to carry on and continue their work at freeing her.  She seemed to understand both of them instantly, to fill a great void in their lives, and to accept them for exactly who they were.

Buck and Ezra looked up at each other, sighing once more in utter contentment. Buck beamed. Ezra glowed. They felt whole, for the first times in their lives. Both of them considered adding this lovely young woman to their group so that they might become the Magnificent Eight. Sure, it had no legendary ring to it, no magical value, but she sure was pretty. The others would love her, too, no doubt.

The train whistled again.

“Oh dear,” Ezra murmured. “I believe we’re running out of time.” The locomotive was in clear view now, chuffing closer every second.

“Well I got mine mostly done now,” Buck responded.  “Maybe we can save her bottom half if nothing else.”

“It doesn’t work that way, Mr. Wilmington.”

Buck frowned and made a disgusted face.  “Why can’t you ever call me Buck, Ez?  Why you always got to be so formal?”

“Well, why must you insist on calling me Ez, Mr. Wilmington?  My name is Ezra.”

Buck glowered and Ezra glared back at him. Both stood and shifted their stances, preparing to do battle over the tracks and Sweet Mary Sue.

“Buck?  Ezra?” Mary Sue called, using their first names because already she felt as if she was one with each of them.  “I understand you have your differences and if we had the time, I’m certain I could solve all your issues, but there seems to be a grave emergency here.”  Little pearl-like tears appeared in her sea-blue eyes.  “I do hope you forgive me, because I know your personal problems are more important than me.  I’ve had a hard life, you see.”

Buck and Ezra gasped when they noticed how close the train had come.

“Dear Lord!” Ezra cried.

“That's a fine how d'ya do!”  Buck yelled and both returned to frantically flailing at the unyielding ropes.

“If we don’t hurry, there may be a derailment!” Ezra shouted, glancing up at the quickly approaching train.

“Think of all that lost luggage,” Buck muttered, biting his lip and tasting bile at the back of his throat.

“Save yourselves!”  Sweet Mary Sue cried, as the chugging of the train grew louder. The locomotive came toward them at full speed. “Forget me!  You must go on without me. Be strong!”

The dog hid her head under her paws (one of which was only recently healed after it had been shot by Awful Tom McMean’s cousin, Bad Beanie Brown).

Seeing that the men refused to leave her to die, Mary Sue did the only thing she could in that situation -- she solved all their problems.  "Excuse me, I don't mean to impose -- but maybe if you had a knife, you could cut me loose."

"A knife!" Buck exclaimed, slapping himself in the forehead as the approaching train belched.

“Miss Mary Sue, you are a genius!” Ezra declared as he pulled his knife from its sheath.  “Why is it I never think of that?”

“’Cause you always gotta go about things the hard way, Ez,” Buck responded as he pulled his own knife and started cutting through the cords.

“Stop calling me Ez, Mr. Wilmington.”

“Stop calling me Mr. Wilmington, Ez!”

The ropes finally fell away and Sweet Mary Sue sprung free just as Buck launched himself at Ezra and the two started wrestling and pummeling each other.

The train rushed past, separating Mary Sue from her rescuers. It was a long train. The loveliest woman the whole darn West sat beside her dog and petted the faithful animal as car after car rumbled past. She hoped they weren’t killing each other. She yawned and rubbed her sore wrist and then looked to the nearby shrubbery because she really had to pee after being tied down for so long.

Finally the last car rumbled past, revealing the two men on the opposite side. They were smiling and thumping each other on the backs. Their horses were playing poker nearby. Apparently the men had worked out their differences with a little brawl. The chestnut horse was obviously cheating.

She stood and dusted off her skirts before approaching them with a pretty smile on her pretty face.  She was about to tell the men that they both had certain "mother" issues and that a moment or two by her side would make them whole,  when a second train came down the line, hard on the tail of the first.

If Young Doctor Wellbourne -- frontier doctor and a hell of a good looker -- hadn’t appeared at that very moment, Sweet Mary Sue would have been flattened flatter than an extra-flat flatbread. He swooped past on his white horse and slung her into the saddle, whispering sweet nothings and kissing her wetly. The collie dog followed, yipping and yapping and making a nuisance of herself, but looking gorgeous.

Mary Sue had hardly time to shout her thanks to the two men who had rescued her the first time.  They rode off, groping each other extensively.  Sue and Welbourne wouldn’t be able to go too far before she had to tap the Young Doctor on the shoulder and ask to powder her nose – but that doesn’t matter anymore because she’s left our story.

Buck and Ezra frowned, watching the beautiful couple, on the beautiful horse with the beautiful dog disappear into the beautiful approaching sunset.

“Huh,” Buck said, scratching his head.  “I really thought I made a connection with that pretty thing.”

Ezra nodded.  “I as well.  Pity really.  I felt as if Miss Mary Sue and I were made for each other.”

“Yup.  Me too.”  Buck scratched his armpit.

Ezra polished his boots.

The two continued to sit where they’d been left.  Their horses continued their game.  The grey snorted from time to time but never caught on to the chestnut's cheats.  The sun grew lower in the sky, turning the desert all pink and rose.

“It’s quiet,” Ezra said softly.

“Yeah,” Buck replied, his voice lowered to a gravelly whisper.  “Too quiet.”

THE END - By NotTasha

Sorry about this one....

Hope you enjoyed the story...comments and suggestions

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