Pick a Card, Any Card

By JudyL


February 13, 2011


Summary – Finish this story challenge Feb 2010 – theme words: Snow, cards

Length:  831 words

Challenge: to write a story starting with a provided paragraph (in italics below)



Winter still had a tight hold on the countryside.  The howl of the wind could be heard as it buffeted the building causing the structure to creak and groan while the windows rattled.   However, the noise was all but forgotten as Vin Tanner studied the cards in his hands.  He knew the others were watching and awaiting his next move.  

 He fanned them out and looked up, meeting five pairs of eyes. “High card wins,” Vin said.

“I’d say ‘loses’ was the more appropriate word, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra drawled.

“Shut up, Ezra,” Buck said sourly. “Who’s idea was this anyway?” he asked glaring at the gambler.

“I believe the inspiration to throw a party celebrating the birth of our esteemed leader was yours, Mr. Wilmington,” he finished with a glare of his own.

Buck snorted and waved his hand. “I mean bringing it out here to Chris’ place in the middle of a snow storm?”

Josiah raised an eyebrow. “I don’t believe it was snowing when we started out. And we couldn’t get him to come to us. What I want to know who’s going to tell Chris…”

Vin waved the cards in his hand, “That’s what the cards are for,” he said, exasperated. “Hurry up before he gets back.” Vin thrust the cards at JD who was closest to him.

“Uh uh!” the youngest said, backing away. “Weren't my fault, not entirely,” he said.

Nathan rolled his eyes. “We have food. Even brought his favorite pie courtesy of Mrs. Potter,” he said, eyeing the cards suspiciously. “Can’t see why it’s such a big deal.”

Ezra guffawed while Buck and Vin just stared at Nathan in disbelief.

Josiah shook his head, chuckling a bit nervously.

“Are you kidding?!” JD asked incredulously. “Who knows how long we’ll be trapped out here? That snow is falling fast and furious. Can’t hardly see your hand in front of your face.” He continued without taking a breath. “Only reason I let Chris go out there is ‘cause he already had a blizzard line strung up ‘tween here and the barn. There’s no way we’re getting out of here for at least a week and you don’t see what the problem is?!”

Nathan blinked as the silence after JD’s tirade left his ears ringing. He shrugged. “No, not really. Man doesn’t need it to live. We have plenty of food, wood for fire and snow for making water. This place is pretty well insulated. We’ll be all right.”

“But we’re stuck here,” JD countered, “six of us, with Chris Larabee and no…”

He came to a halt as the door slammed open, cold wind and snow swirling in and around a black-clad form.

Chris Larabee pushed the door shut with his shoulder, the strong wind blowing more snow through until the door closed and he swung the lever down to lock it in place.

Chris turned, settling the bags that had hung over his shoulders to the floor, then dusting the snow off his hair. “The horses are all set and I got the last of the stuff you guys brought,” he said, removing his coat and hanging it on a hook behind the door. Chris looked up, frowning slightly at the guilty faces around him.

“Hope you have more whiskey in one of those other bags, had to leave the other ones in the barn, they were all busted up,” Chris finished expectantly.

“Um,” JD said suavely.

“Well, you see, Chris,” Buck said at the same time.

“Funny you should ask, Cowboy,” Vin cajoled.

“Therein lies the story, Mr. Larabee,” Ezra stalled.

“Perhaps we should consider all that we have…” Josiah started only to be interrupted by Nathan.

“Just tell him,” the healer said, shaking his head in disgust at the gutlessness of his supposedly fearless friends.

“Tell me what?” Chris asked. “And what are the cards for?”

Vin looked down guiltily and hid the cards behind his back. “Nothing, we were just…”

“Just about to make a wager…”

“Trying to figure out who…”

“There ain’t no whiskey, Chris,” Nathan said. “Buck and JD were goofing around, Peso got spooked as Ezra was lifting the bag off Chaucer, Chaucer reared up, pushing Ezra into Josiah’s back. Josiah thought they were funnin’ him so he shoved back, Ezra tripped over Vin who had gotten knocked down by Peso and the bag with the whiskey flew out of his hands. I just happened to turn around and catch it, but it was upside down and all the bottles fell out.” Nathan took a deep breath and stared defiantly around at his cowardly friends.

Chris blinked, then started to laugh. He laughed so hard he had to sit down and wipe the tears out of his eyes.

The others stared at him for a long moment and then started to laugh as well. Perhaps being caught in a snow storm with Chris and no whiskey wasn’t going to be as bad as they’d thought after all.

The end

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