Title: Slammed - One
Fandom: The Magnificent Seven
Main Characters: Josiah & Ezra
Disclaimers: The guys are owned by CBS, MGM, Trilogy Entertainment Group, and The Mirisch Corp.
Notes: After writing 50 words for 50 sentences I said I was going to turn 11 of them into short stories; well, here's the second one!
Summary: It had started out as a verbal argument between two men, but soon escalated into an all-out brawl that ended with Josiah being slammed into a wall by a man who was at least three inches shorter than him; it was a story he had no intention of sharing with his friends when he returned to Four Corners.
Word Count: 2,004
The word was:
The Sentence I wrote was:
It had started out as a verbal argument between two men, but soon escalated into an all-out brawl that ended with Josiah being slammed into a wall by a man who was at least three inches shorter than him; it was a story he had no intention of sharing with his friends when he returned to Four Corners.
The story is:
After spending a tiring thirty minutes taking care of his horse, Josiah finally made his way to the Saloon, not knowing, or caring if the place was still open at the late hour of 3am. It had been a slow journey back from Bitter Creek, made all the more difficult by the bruised ribs he’d suffered during a humiliating saloon brawl.
As he stepped into the poorly lit Saloon, he brushed the dust from his clothes, grimacing when he placed too much pressure against his side. He glanced to the left as he made his way toward the bar and froze. He didn’t like what he saw.
Sighing, he shook his head. He didn’t have time for this, not now, not when he had his own problems to deal with. The only thing he did want was a very large drink, a hot bath and a soft bed in which he would sleep for a week.
However, it seemed that the good Lord had no intention of letting him off the hook so easily.
Sitting at the raised poker table was Ezra. Shot glass in hand, a half-empty bottle of cheap whiskey beside him, and an ongoing game of patience on the table in front of him.
The peace and quiet Josiah was looking for was not going to be found here. He turned on his heel and started back out through the saloon doors. A soft voice stopped him before he could leave and seek his solace elsewhere.
“Josiah,” Ezra’s words were slightly slurred. “Is everything alright?”
Josiah stood still, his hands resting high on the saloon doors, and glanced back over his shoulder before speaking, if a little reluctantly, “Everything’s fine, Ezra. Go back to your game.”
“I was losing anyway,” Ezra waved a hand at the cards on the table. “Never could win at this game.”
Josiah raised his eyes towards the heavens and prayed that Ezra’s next words would be a simple, good night, Josiah.
It wasn’t to be.
“We were concerned about you.”
“Is that why you’re drunk?” Josiah spoke before thinking, something he often did with Ezra.
“No, and the reasoning for my inebriated state is of no concern of yours.”
A small bright light in the sky caught Josiah’s attention; it was no doubt intentional. He narrowed his eyes at the star, and cursed the man above for not allowing him to leave. Letting out a deep sigh, he turned around, slowly walked to Ezra’s table and sat down in the chair opposite the Gambler.
“Please, Josiah, by all means, take a seat.”
“You sharing that?”
“This?” Ezra lifted the bottle, filled his glass then placed it back on the table. “No.”
Josiah didn’t really want to know but he asked anyway. “You want to tell me what’s bothering you?”
“What makes you think there’s something bothering me?”
“You only get drunk when you’re upset about something.”
Ezra returned Josiah’s stare for a few moments before turning his eyes away and down toward the cards in front of him. “Have you seen Nathan about your injuries?”
Josiah couldn’t stop the look of surprise from crossing his features. “It’s nothing, bruised some ribs, that’s all.”
“Uh huh,” Ezra emptied his glass, grimacing as the alcohol burned his throat on the way down. “I don’t believe Nathan would consider it to be nothing.”
“You know something I don’t?” Josiah thought if he could get away with it, he would reach over and take the bottle of whisky from the Gambler. But Ezra seemed to be protecting his alcohol; it was now nestled in the curve of his elbow. Josiah had the feeling that if he tried to take it, Ezra would shoot him with the Derringer he kept up his jacket sleeve.
“You left in a hurry.”
“My problems are my own, Ezra.”
“As are mine.”
“Then why are we having this conversation?”
“I didn’t ask you to sit down, Josiah,” Ezra glared at him. “You can leave if you wish.”
Josiah wasn’t in the mood to deal with a self-pitying Standish, so he pushed himself away from the table and stood up. He turned and walked to the bar, feeling Ezra’s eyes following his every step.
“The others left town to look for you, they came back a few hours ago.”
Josiah spoke as he walked. “I didn’t ask them to.”
“No, you didn’t.” Ezra began to play with the rim of his shot glass, his right forefinger tracing the glass’s edge. “They went anyway.”
“And you stayed here?” Josiah reached over the bar, the pain in his side growing, and grabbed the first bottle his fingers found. He smiled; it was Ezra’s favorite single malt. He wondered for a moment why Ezra wasn’t drinking it.
Ezra shrugged, “I had more important things to attend to.”
Josiah knew that if he turned around to look at Ezra, he would see a troubled man. He stayed at the bar with his back to him. “Those important things, are they the reason you’re drunk?”
“Your reasons for leaving, are they why you’re hurt?”
Josiah pulled the cork with his teeth, and drank straight from the bottle. He coughed, spitting some of it back into the whiskey. He didn’t care. He was going to drink the entire thing, saliva and all. After he had satisfied his initial thirst, he put the bottle down on the bar.
“I told you, it’s nothing.”
“Do you wish to talk about it?”
“Leave it be, Ezra!” Josiah growled through clenched teeth. He wanted to hit the smaller man and hit him hard but he made the mistake of looking into the mirror. Ezra sat with his shoulders slumped, eyes downcast, his face full of pain.
Ignoring the unspoken threat, Ezra said, “You have friends here, men who would help you through your troubles. You don’t have to run, Josiah.”
“And what about you, Ezra? Did you talk to one of our friends about your troubles?”
“They left town to look for you.”
Josiah turned around, and as he did so, Ezra’s poker face returned, giving Josiah the impression that the pain he’d seen only moments earlier had been a figment of his imagination.
“You said they came back a few hours ago,” said Josiah.
“The others, particularly Vin, tend to keep their distance from me when I’ve partaken in too much alcohol.”
Josiah felt all of his anger toward the younger man drain away, leaving him feeling like old fool. Not taking his eyes off Ezra, he walked back to the table, placed the single malt in front of his friend and sat back down.
“You have a way of being . . . insensitive when you’re drunk.”
Ezra nodded, a sad smile crossing the lower half of his face.
“You can talk to me, Ezra.”
“I tried once, remember. My words were thrown back in my face.”
Josiah lowered his head in shame. “Ezra, you know I di--”
“Good night, Josiah.”
“Damn it, Ezra.” Josiah shouted. “I didn’t come in here for an argument.”
“And I assure you,” said Ezra, “that you won’t get one from me.”
In his mind, Josiah counted to ten very slowly. Ezra had a way of infuriating even the most patient of men.
“I got a telegraph that said my sister had taken a bad turn,” Josiah admitted.
Ezra frowned then said, “I didn’t know you had a sister.”
“I don’t like to talk about her, about the way she is . . .”
“That’s why I left in a hurry. I had to go to Vista City,” Josiah nodded to the single malt whiskey. “Are you going to drink that?”
“It would be wasted on me at the moment,” Ezra smiled. “I can’t taste it when I’m drunk.”
Josiah nodded and reached for the bottle, but Ezra beat him to it. “Of course it doesn’t mean I can’t drink it when I’m sober.”
This was not going the way Josiah had expected it to. “Anyway, she refused to see me, I got upset, angry . . . ended up in Bitter Creek where I got into a fight.”
“Is that how you were injured?”
Josiah nodded. “Do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?”
“You should go and see Nathan, let him take a look at your injuries.”
“What’s wrong, Ezra?”
Ezra rubbed his eyes with the fingers of his left hand, while his right kept a tight grip on the single malt whiskey. “I really don’t want to talk about it right now, Josiah . . . so please, leave it be.”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“Do you mind if I sit here a while?”
Ezra lowered his hand, revealing the tears that had threatened to fall. “You give the impression you don’t want to be here.”
Josiah felt the guilt consume him. “I didn’t. I was blinded by own problems . . . Ezra, you need a friend right now.”
“You need Nathan more.”
“Bruised ribs, Ezra,” Josiah repeated. “Nothing more than that.”
“You do know you’re bleeding . . . don’t you?”
Ezra smiled and pointed towards his own forehead, then his left cheek. “Did you win?”
Josiah’s cheeks grew red as he searched his face for the injuries he didn’t know he had. “I don’t want to talk about it, Ezra.” He watched as Ezra’s eyes drifted toward the whiskey. His friend needed a distraction, something to keep his mind off the problem that had left him so unsettled. “A man, almost as short as you, managed to pick me up and throw me against a wall.”
“I’m sorry . . . the alcohol must have gone to my hearing. I thought you said a man shorter than me . . . you lost a fight against a smaller opponent?”
“If you tell any of the others, I’ll--”
“You should go and see Nathan.”
“Will you stop interrupting me when I’m--”
“You really should go and see Nathan, those cuts look like they’re becoming infected.”
Josiah finally realized what Ezra was trying to do. “You want me to leave you alone?”
“Like I said earlier, I didn’t ask you to sit down.” Ezra filled his glass with the cheap whiskey.
The expression on Ezra’s face told Josiah that he wasn’t going to be able to convince Ezra to reveal what was wrong. Josiah nodded once and stood up. “I wanted to help because I’m your friend, Ezra.”
“I know, Josiah . . . just not now, okay.”
Ezra drank from his shot glass then refilled it. “Maybe.”
Josiah watched Ezra for a moment and knowing that there was nothing more he could do, not when Ezra was making it so hard for him, said, “We’ll talk about what’s wrong tomorrow, Ezra. That’s a promise.”
When he didn’t receive an answer, Josiah tapped the table with his fingers then turned away. He walked out of the Saloon without looking back but as he made his way past the window, he stopped and looked at his friend through the glass. He couldn’t see Ezra clearly in the darkened interior but he saw enough to know Ezra’s shoulders were shaking. Something had happened while he was out of town, something so bad it had left the Gambler in tears.
Josiah wanted to put his fist through the window, grab Ezra by the scruff of his neck and shake him until he came to his senses. When would Ezra understand that he had friends now, friends that he could talk to when things became too much for him to deal with on his own?
Maybe he could convince him tomorrow, but Josiah knew he was only kidding himself. Tomorrow, Ezra would be sober, and cheerful. He would con everyone into believing nothing was wrong, that he had no memory of the conversation he’d had with Josiah the night before.
After all, Ezra was a con man, and deceiving people was what he did best.
The End ...
Note – Once Ezra opened his mouth, this story wrote itself. So I apologise for the fact that it doesn’t really relate to the prompt sentence.
Part One | Part Two
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