By: Angela B

Rating: G

Archive: Whoever wants it



Disclaimer: Don’t own them and never will

Note: Thanks to NT for beta reading this for me.



This is answer to the First Anniversary Challenge of the Magnificent Seven Challenge that was issued in August of 2002. 
The rules are as followed: Which are quite a few, so this part will be quite long.
The Anniversary Challenge rules are as follows: 
1)           It must contain an anniversary of some kind;  
2)            Someone must face a challenge; 
3)            It must combine two of the challenges that were offered between Sept 2001 and August 2002; 
4) It must contain five of the following words (I worked in all 11!) - blackmail, fishy, lonesome, loathsome, leek (or leak), banter, babbling, pop, fuss, cheese; 
5) One of the following must be important to the story (I chose the unhappy duck) - an unhappy duck, a length of rope that's too short, a   woman's pink nightie, a heap of toe nail clippings, a device for breathing underwater, too much fudge, an abandoned rickshaw, a clock that has been purposefully set to the wrong time, OR a placebo; 
   6) At least one of the guys must sing; and 
   7) None of the guys can be hurt!! (Ouch! That really put a cramp on 
       me...Miss Angst)
Okay, now you know the rules – The two challenges I chose were…
1)       The first challenge used in this story is the April 2002 
Challenge, offered by Meg Tipper, where one or more of the boys are on the edge – not figuratively, literally – and the following words must be included: (I used all, including the extra credit word):: birthday, chocolate, shower and fool – with extra credit for using ‘Cadbury’.
2)       The second challenge used was offered by Heather F. in February 2002. Some of the seven guys are stuck on one side of a water way (river, pool, pond, puddle, bathtub anything with water) and some of the others are on the other side.  For whatever reason, the one group refuses to cross the water and join the others, despite the fact bad guys can be heard bearing down on them. 
 +++ Ok, I know the criminal part doesn’t make a lot of sense… that’s because I had the story and then realized I had left out that part of Heather’s challenge. So, I had to throw in some bad guys, somewhere.




It’s Not Just A Challenge. It’s An Adventure




It was just what Chris Larabee expected. Well, not this specifically, but something along these lines. After all, he thought, why would he think this trip would be any different than any other trip the seven of them had taken together? It never seemed to fail. No matter where they went, or what they did, they always found trouble and at least one of his friends could wind up in trouble. In this case there were two. He knew he shouldn’t be surprised, whenever those two particular men got together something always happened. Those two could create a tornado in Alaska. Chris bent his head over and rubbed his eyes, a heavy sigh heaved out deep from his lungs.


A deep voice sounded in his ear as Josiah asked curiously, “What are we going to do?”


his heart finally slowing back down from its previous thundering action, Chris looked up with a murderous gleam.  “Leave them there. We got other troubles coming,” he replied

 before turning around and walking off


“Chris. We can’t just…,” the rest of JD’s statement was cut off by the placement of Buck’s hand on his back.


“He wasn’t serious, JD. Chris will figure something out,” Buck explained. “He may take his time doing it, but he’ll figure something out,” the ladies’ man said with a smile twitching on his lips.  He’d pay top dollar for a picture of Chris’ face right now, but everyone had better sense than to pull out a camera and start clicking off pictures. Besides they had three idiot criminals coming up right behind them.




Standing on a ledge on the other side of the cavernous chasm separating the two mountains were Vin and Ezra. The undercover agent was looking down at the river that roared by at the bottom of gorge.  Vin yanked him back from the edge, “What are doing, you fool? Don’t you know you could fall doing that?” Vin said harshly.


Ezra stood back up and faced his fellow agent and glared. Blame clearly radiating from his eyes at their current predicament.


“Hey, don’t look at me,” Vin said, holding his hands up in a mock surrender. “I was on that bridge, too,” he said.


“Yes, you were. But you didn’t have to start bouncing on it!” Ezra shot back.




Vin shrugged his shoulders in concession. It had started out such a great day. They had decided to use their three-day weekend to come here to the Royal Gorge in Canyon City to do a little sightseeing and some hiking. They had received special permission to do a day hike back in the part of the Gorge regular tourist weren’t allowed in. Mostly, because Chris, Buck and Josiah had training in the Army rangers and it helped that Vin had once worked as Park Ranger while working his way though college. It probably didn’t hurt that they had bought along their own licensed paramedic. They were supposed to start up north of the tourist attraction part of the Gorge and hike their way back to the park. From there they could either take the trolley back across the main bridge or walk across it. That, of course, had been the original plan, until they came upon a group of men; who happened to be trading guns for money.


The seven agents had been taking their time walking along the ridge of the gorge when their path went into a dip. As they rose back up, they could see five men in what was well observed as a dealing of weapons. Taking a deep breath, Chris had his men circled around him in no time and outlying a course of action. It turned out well, and after a brief delay waiting for the sheriff’s department to show up and take the criminals off their hands; the seven went back to their original outing. Not knowing that three men had been running late to that very meeting, and taking exception to the fact that their guns were in the custody of the law, the three decided to make the interferers pay for their indiscretions







Five miles from their intended destination, the seven friends came across an old swinging bridge.  Of course, JD and Vin had wanted to cross the bridge, to the chagrin and uneasiness of both Chris and Ezra. Whining somehow became involved, along with a certain puppy-dog look. Right now Ezra wanted to smack that face so hard those eyes could never get their way again. He also wanted smack a certain Texan that was standing beside him on this ledge.


JD and Vin had convinced the others to give it a try, once they had deemed the ropes on their side to be steadfastly fastened to the mountain. Since the southerner was the least inclined to go, Vin had decided that he and Ezra would go first, much to the chagrin of the undercover agent.  Vin went first and began talking and reassuring his friend that it was completely safe.  Coaxing Ezra out onto the free-swinging bridge had taken a little time and a lot of promises, but finally the agent stepped out onto the bridge and began to slowly make his way across


“See, Ez, nothing to worry about. Safe as can be,” the sharpshooter sang out as he began to lightly bounce on the bridge.


Stopping where he was, Ezra lost his cool and yelled,  “Stop that!”


A second later both men heard the undeniable creaking of rope breaking. It was a scene right out of an Indiana Jones movie. They had traversed three-fourths of the way across when the ropes behind them became untwined and their half of the bridge swung forwards towards the mountain they were just feet within stepped off onto. Hearing the creaking of the ropes both men fell flat onto the bridge and grabbed hold of a board. Swinging through the air gripping the flats, seven distinct screams could be heard.


Slamming back into the mountainside, Vin and Ezra were both relieved to find the other still hanging on. Knowing they didn’t have much time Vin, being at the top of the ‘ladder’, searched for leverage and an escape. A ledge soon came into focus as his eyesight cleared from the bone-jarring stop. Cautiously, Vin climbed up the dangling portion of the bridge hand-over-hand until he was even with the ledge. He looked for any fissures or large cracks that might cause the ledge to give way with any added weight and, not finding any, he carefully, and full of prayer, climbed over onto the ledge. Getting his breath he looked over the side and fought back the vertigo that threatened to overcome him. Yelling several times until he caught Ezra’s attention he was taken aback by the gleam in the older man’s face.


“How did you come to be so lucky, Mr. Tanner, that you managed to land on a ledge while I’m down here hanging on by my fingertips. Literally,” Ezra called up to Vin.


The sharpshooter shook his head and figured Ezra had been too preoccupied to notice his climb upward. “I climbed up here. You’ll have to do the same,” Vin called back.

“You want me to do what?” Ezra asked, slightly dazed from slamming into the rock face of the mountain.


Taking a deep breath Vin called back, “Climb up the ladder, Ezra.”


“Latter? What was the for-mention?” Ezra asked.


“Not latter…ladder. OH for Pete’s sakes, Ezra, just climb up here,” Vin said exasperated.


“Exactly how do you propose I do that, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra’s voice clearly showing agitation.


“Same as me, Ez. Hand-over-hand,” Vin said.


Ezra tried to hang his head down and found he couldn’t. After another couple of deep breaths he began the arduous task of climbing up. Finally getting even with the ledge, Vin stuck out his hand and helped Ezra onto the solid ground.


The five men on the other side finally took a deep breath of relief. Three minutes later Chris was walking away, muttering to himself about padded rooms, locked doors and restraints.


Taking off his daypack, Vin turned to help Ezra out of his. “Sorry about this, Ez,” Vin said quietly. “I had no intentions of this happening.”


Vin sounded so pathetic Ezra couldn’t help, but forgive his good friend for getting them into this mess. Truth be told, Ezra figured if he had to be a jam he’d rather be in it with Vin than any of the others. “Its quite alright, Mr. Tanner. Let’s just figure a way out of this, shall we?” Ezra said as he sniffled.


“Ok,” Vin said, thankful everything was alright between the two of them. Ezra was a pretty good friend, Vin thought and a lot more forgiving then he should be expected to. “I’ll check the bags and see what we got,” the sharpshooter said as he began pilfering through the packs.


After a few more sniffles, Vin looked up at friend. The mountain air may be beneficial to some people, but the fauna gave Ezra a bad case of the allergies. Looking through his stuff he came across some tic-tacs. Dealing out a couple into his hand he handed them over his friend. “Got some of these allergy pills, might make ya feel a little better,” Vin said with a smile, fudging on the truth. He knew the candy would do nothing for the sniffling man, but he silently hoped he could con Ezra into think he felt better.


“Thank you, Vin,” Ezra said as he swallowed the two tiny capsules.



Looking around at their current location Vin said, “Well, we either climb up or climb down. Which one do you think is best?” Vin asked. He had briefly considered using the ‘ladder’ and climbing up, but after what just happened he didn’t trust its sturdiness. If the ropes gave way at the top, it would be a long drop to the bottom.


“Vest, no I don’t have a vest, Vin. Why?” Ezra asked confused.


Vin sighed. Ezra stopped-up head had wreaked havoc on the man’s hearing.


“Never mind Ezra. We’re going to climb down to the river, since I don’t think either one us can make the climb up,” the Texan explained in a louder clear voice.


“And pray tell how are we going to get across the river, assuming, of course, we make it to the bottom?” Ezra said snidely, looking back down at he steep incline below.


“We might find some reeds and rig us up something,” Vin said, a plan already formulating in his head.


“Weeds? Why on earth are you searching for weeds, Mr. Tanner?” Ezra asked. He hated not being able to hear everything clearly.


Vin just shook his head and helped Ezra to his feet. After getting their packs back on, Vin took the lead. Stretching his legs over to another platform of sorts he began the hard task of climbing down the rock wall. They would be following what one, with a very over imaginative mind, might call a trail. After a few minutes of working around, trying to find footholds as well as places for fingers Vin started up a conversation, for no other reason than to hear the other man’s voice.


“So, this Chaucer guy, the one your horse is named after, he wrote a book called Canterbury something-or-another?” Vin asked.


Ezra only able to half hear and only half-way listening, since he was too busy watching what his friend was doing and trying to repeat the same actions didn’t hear the question entirely.


“No, Mr. Tanner. Chaucer does not eat Cadbury’s. Chocolate isn’t good for a horse, you should know that,” Ezra said breathlessly. “You think entirely of too much of chocolate,” he muttered, not as softly as he thought.


Vin sighed again and gave up on conversing with the man following him. After an hour of struggling, Vin finally managed to get them down to another ledge. Stepping onto the narrow shelf, he turned to help Ezra secure his footing onto the short outcrop. Not really having the latitude to be able to sit down, they both squatted down on their heels and gazed out at the scenery before them. It would have been truly breathtaking and enjoyable, if they weren’t quite a few hundred feet up in the air with no materials to secure them from falling. Once again, Vin took off his pack and rummaged through it. This time bringing out a bottle of water. They both carried bottles of the liquid, but Vin still figured it was better to ration what they had. Each took a couple of swallows before  Vin put the bottle back and began rummaging in his satchel again.



“Mr. Tanner, are you planning on bringing out a piece of rope and lassoing something on the other and have us scoot across this wide open space like some bad, macho marine. If so, you are sadly wrong, because no way in the world am I going to swing on a dingy little rope across a ravine with nothing but air between me and that rolling river down there,” Ezra said forcefully.


“Relax, Ez. First, Chris has the rope and besides I got a plan,” Vin said as he stood up.


“Where are you going?” Ezra asked, a slight panic could be heard in his voice.


“I gotta…well you know,” Vin stammered as he tried to gesture his needs. Seeing Ezra watch him like he had lost his mind standing there gesturing wildly with his hands the sharpshooter finally said, “I...I gotta take a leak, ok?” Vin’s face was three shades red by now.


Ezra, deciding to have a little fun at the man’s expense calmly said, “Leeks, you think your going to find leeks up here? Why not, find a little celery and potatoes while you’re at it and we could make soup,” he said with a cocky little grin.


“Ezra, I said I needed to…,” Vin stopped short. He wasn’t going to do this. He simply turned his back on the man and did what he had to.  With his back to him the uncover agent let a silent laugh. A few moment later Vin to his position beside Ezra.


Squatting down on the shelf a loud beeping became apparent, followed by a computer voice stating it was two o’clock Pacific time. Vin, looked over at Ezra and quirked his eyebrows as Ezra pushed a button on his watch and made the recording stop. The Texan noticed the smallest trace of sadness flitter through his friend’s green eyes.


“Ezra?” Vin asked softly.


Seeing Vin’s questioning expression, Ezra sighed.


“The explanation would be a loathsome ordeal,” Ezra said, a sad smile on his face.


Trying to lighten the mood Vin said, “Lonesome? Ahh Ez, you got me.”


Ezra turned to stare at the man squatting beside him, before noticing the broad grin and smirking eyes and saw what his friend was trying to accomplish.


A small smile graced Ezra’s before he began speaking again. “Today is an anniversary of sorts,” ha said. “Today, seventeen years ago Maude divorced her third husband, Ronny.”


Vin could tell that somehow this divorce had been different from the others Maude had. Frankly it surprised the Texan how Ezra could keep up with all the ex’s considering how many times Maude had been married, not to mention the numerous engagements she never followed through.


“He meant a lot, huh?” Vin asked quietly.


Ezra just nodded. “He wasn’t like the others.  He treated me like I was some,” Ezra stopped. “Well, he was just different. That’s all.”


Vin nodded in understanding. “So, you set the alarm to remind you of the time…. because?” Vin prodded.


“Because at two o’clock every year on this day I call him and we catch up,” Ezra said heatedly. Knowing how ridiculous it must sound. “Besides, it also happens to be his birthday.”


Silently the tracker thought what a kick in the gut it must be to have one’s divorce be final on your birthday but, Vin accepted the new information silently and let the subject drop. He could see how much it was bothering his friend to talk about something important in his life. Ezra could talk a blue streak, but when it came to his personal life, especially his past, the man could shut down tighter than anyone he’d ever known.


“So, you gonna give him a call?” Vin asked quietly.


“I was hoping to be at our destination by now. I would have slipped off and gave him a call. As it is I shall wait,” Ezra explained. Vin understood; Ezra wanted to have the conversation in private, so he said nothing more about it.



After the short break, they started making their way slowly down the mountain. Vin took the lead and choose their path carefully. He had planned their route before ever stepping off the first ledge. Making sure it was doable before ever starting the hike. Not sure why, but Vin felt the need to talk. He chalked it up to getting Ezra’s mind off he earlier topic he said, “You think Chris will be mad?”


Ezra smirked to himself. “Oh no, Mr. Tanner. I’m sure Mr. Larabee is just going to be overjoyed at our little foray into the world of daredevil stunts,” Ezra said snidely.


“Yeah, well maybe he’ll just be so glad we’re ok and got out of this mess on our own he’ll let it pass,” Vin said breathlessly, as he made a large stretch across a crevice in the rock face.


“Oh sure, and I got an eight-by-ten of him in a mini skirt and stilettos, too,” Ezra said sharply as he tried to stretch his legs over the same large crevice Vin had just previously got across.


“Well heck, why didn’t you say so, Ez? We’ll just use the picture as blackmail and he can’t get mad at us,” Vin said with a laugh.  He heard a small chuckle from behind him and knew the dark mood had lifted off his friend’s shoulders.


For the next couple of hours the two kept up the lively banter as they made their way down the steep incline. They were getting close to the bottom, when they took their next break. Vin had noticed some time back that Ezra seemed to feeling better, or at least his hearing had cleared up some.  Figuring it was best not to mention this; since it might unconsciously bring the symptoms back, Vin broached another subject. “Looks like it’s going to get a little harder the rest of the way down.’


Ezra just shot the man sitting next to him a dark look. “And pray tell, just how would you describe the journey so far?” he said sharply. Vin, being longer legged, had the distinct advance in reaching some of those toe holes they had used, while he had really stretch sometimes to be able to reach them. At times he felt like he was going to dislocate a joint or two.


‘Aw come on, Ez, it hasn’t been that bad. And I reckon if we slid on our backside some of the way down and kind of make it a slide, we’ll be ok,” Vin said hopefully, trying to escape the murderous look coming from his partner.


“Yes, and if we found a cardboard box, we could use it as a sled and slide down the mountain, too,” Ezra said heatedly.


 “Well, don’t reckon we’re going to find one of them around here, so we’ll just have to use our backsides,” Vin said, unfazed by Ezra’s sharp tongue.


The undercover agent sighed. “So, first you try to rip some of my joints apart with some of those maneuvers you pulled and now you want to shred my clothing by sliding down a hill?” Ezra asked, the tiredness evident in voice along with contempt.


//Oops// Vin thought, realizing that some of those movements earlier must have been a strain for Ezra. Guilt flooded him as he realized his friend had followed him the whole way down without once complaining about the difficulty it was causing him.


“Sorry, Ez.  I’ll think better in the future. Promise,” Vin said apologetically.


Ezra was just too worn out to argue.  He had made his point. Vin had seen his mistakes and had promised to not to do it again. “I apologize for my outburst, Vin. It was uncalled and certainly most uncouth.  I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness and truly value your expertise at trying to get us out of this jam,” Ezra said sincerely.


“Thanks,” Vin said softly. Then a twinkle came to his eyes. “Hey Ez, you getting hungry?”


“Well,” Ezra slowly said, “Actually I am.” Not surprised in the least that the sharpshooter would think of eating, it seemed to be the younger man’s favorite pastime.


Each digging through their knapsacks they bought out what food they had put in that morning as supplements. Ezra looked carefully at the aerosol can Vin was holding. “What is that?” Ezra asked curiously.


“Cheese,” Vin replied.


“Cheese?” Ezra stated incredulously. “They make cheese in a can?” he asked.


“Yeah and its pretty good, too. Want some?” Vin asked


“Uhhhh,” Ezra looked down at the peanut butter crackers in his hands, that he had stowed away in his pack back this morning. “No thank you, Mr. Tanner. I believe I will dine on my crackers,” he said politely.


The next moment Vin had the can turned upside down spewing the contents of his can straight into his mouth. The simple observation made the southerner shudder. Ezra watched as Vin once more dove into his satchel and began scrounging around in it, taking out half its contents.


“You know, Mr. Tanner if you were a bit more organized, you’d be able to locate whatever you’re looking for,” the southerner offered helpfully.


“Well, we all can’t be super neat like you, Ez. Heck, I bet even your trash is organized,” Vin said sarcastically.


“I’m sorry, I didn’t really my personal habits offended you so much,” Ezra said, quickly looking down at the ground


Vin saw the lightening flash of hurt that raced through his friend’s eyes and realized he had hit a sore spot. “Sorry, Ez, didn’t mean it as a bad thing. I’m just not like you,” Vin said.


Ezra kept his head down and winced at the thought of being so readable. Raising his head back up he said with a half smile, “Well, maybe it’s good thing you’re not like me. Don’t think Chris could take two of me.”


Vin wasn’t sure if it was a straight apology or a double-meaning one but, left it alone and grinned. “Yeah, old Chris couldn’t take two of either one of us,” Vin agreed, glad to see his brother smiling again.


 After a spell, Vin once again took the lead and led them down the rest of the mountain. Part of the time scrambling, part sliding and part climbing, they at last made it down to the rolling river.


Finally getting to the bottom, the two men sat down on the river’s edge and took long relaxing breaths. A few minutes later, they were jarred out of their quiet reverie by shouting. Looking across the span of separation, which was considerably less down at the bottom than up at the top, they spotted three of their teammates. Josiah and Nathan merely waved, looking not-to-happy and JD was jumping up and down waving his arms.


“Hey!” JD shouted, “You finally made it. We were wondering if you guys were going to be able make it down that steep incline or not.”


“Yeah. No problem!” Vin shouted back, ignoring Ezra’s long suffering sigh and his rolling eyes, as he noticed the simple trail leading from the top right to the bottom on his friend’s side of the mountain.


“Looks, like you guys had an easy time of it?” Vin yelled back.


JD shouted back over the roaring river, “Once we saw where you were headed, we doubled back and guess what? We ran right into three of those guy’s friends.” Leaving out the part that the guy’s had been following the group for some time and had planned on taking them out.


Taking a deep breath JD continued to yell, “Chris was so mad at you two he took it all out on those guys. They never stood a chance.”


Vin and Ezra could see JD’s smile from where they were standing. JD began yelling again. “Chris and Buck took them and have gone up to the river rafting place upstream. He’s going to get someone to float down here and get us. Just wait there.”


Vin nodded his head in concordance and yelled back, “Okay.”


The two men sat in silence for a little while. Ezra kept yawning largely, finally hearing a pop in his ears. He smiled in relief at finally being able to hear everything again.  Sitting there a minute longer, he began wriggling his nose. “It smells…smells...fishy, sitting here,” he finally said.


Vin turned towards his friend with a strange look on his face. “Well, duh! We’re sitting by a river, how do expect it to smell?”


“I was merely making conversation, Mr. Tanner,” Ezra snapped back. He was tired, sore and really irritable.


Just at that moment a duck came flying straight at them, his call sounding rather angry. The mallard setting down right at Vin’s boot continued to flap his wings and raise his calling.


“Seems a tad upset, don’t he?” Vin said, scooting back from the menacing bird.


“It does seem that he is rather irate. Perhaps we are sitting in his normal nesting position.” Ezra said, as he too, scooted away from the raucous bird.


Just then both men were startled by a loud thunderous noise above their heads. Neither one had paid much attention to the sky since arriving at their current location and was surprised at the dark, ominous cloud that had settled right above them.


“Oh wonderful,” Ezra muttered.


“Guess we better be seeking shelter and quick,” advised Vin.


“And where, Mr. Tanner, would just a location be found,” Ezra questioned testily.


“Hey! Where the duck go?” Vin said suddenly.


“Why are you asking me? And why aren’t you seeking us shelter from that rain that is bound to be falling any minute?” Ezra asked, his temper rising.


Vin ignored his friend’s ranting and scouted the area for the duck. He soon spotted the enraged feathered animal. “Hey, look! He’s disappearing into the wall,” Vin claimed as he headed in the direction of he bird.


“Oh joy! Let’s call Ripley’s Believe It or Not and have them come film the incredible skills of a psychotic bird. And while they’re at it they can rescue us off this hillside,” Ezra shouted as he continued to look for shelter.


“Shut up and come on,” Vin commanded, before he too disappeared into the wall.


Walking up to where his friend had disappeared, Ezra saw for the first time the small cave that had been dug out eons ago by the raging river. He squatted down and crawled into the cave.


After a few minutes of silence, Vin started humming before softly beginning to sing.


Daylight caught us riding… be dark before our day is through

Bob and me, we got cows to feed…we got a job to do

Well, I’m tired…and I’m dirty…and now it’s beginning to rain

Bob gives a grin as the wind kicks in...and this is what he said…


If you knew… the days would be so long…

If you knew… that the winds could blow so strong…

If you knew… you’d trust your horse more than you’d trust your closest friend.

If you knew then what you know now…would you be a cowboy again?


Vin stopped feeling a hard stare coming from his right. Blushing, the sharpshooter felt suddenly unsure of himself at being caught singing. He didn’t think he had the best voice.


Ezra smiled, easing his friend’s stress a little. “Bob?….Horse?…Cowboy?” he asked jokingly.


“Well heck, Ez, if it makes you feel better just substitute some of the words,” Vin said, with a smile. Seeing the questioning look on his pal’s face he stated, “Buck…for Bob. Gun…for horse. Agent….for cowboy.”


Vin turned back to stare out into the open, wishing to be outside even if he did get wet but, knew Nathan and Chris would both have his hide.


After a moment he started singing again, catching Ezra humming along with him.


Well, my pocketbook is empty…and my saddle sure getting old

My back creaks since Red throwed me… about a year ago

And every day seems longer than the days that came before

The fences tear me and the winters scare me …I ask myself what for?


If you knew the days would be so long…

If you knew that the winds could blow so strong…

If you knew you’d trust your horse more than you’d trust your closest friend

If you knew then what you know now…would you be a cowboy again?


I see my lord in every sunrise...I know the pride of a job well done.

I’d look any guy right in the eye…my handshake still my bond

I seen life beginning all over with every calf born in the spring

Through all this mess, I’ve sure been blessed…I wouldn’t change a thing


Yes, it’s true the days can be so long

And, it’s true that the winds can blow so strong

And it true I trust my horse more than I trust my closest friend

If I knew then what I know now… you bet I’d be… a cowboy again.


Ezra waited for a while and finally said softly, “I like it, but I don’t recall ever hearing it before.”


Vin shrugged his shoulders. Written by a guy named, James Hobbs. He’s from New Mexico. Plays with an outfit called the Flying J Wranglers. They do cowboy suppers and entertainment during the summer on weekends, and then do a few gigs throughout the rest of the year in the surrounding region.


Ezra nodded. They spent the rest of the time quietly conversing, waiting for the rain to stop so Chris could come rescue them.


It was getting late afternoon when a raft showed up carrying Chris and Buck. The guide maneuvered the large raft over to the side of the river and threw a rope to a waiting Vin. Catching the rope, Vin pulled the raft closer to the edge. Ezra climbed in, followed by the sharpshooter.


After giving each man an appraising look the blond asked, “You boys alright?”


“I assure you, Mr. Larabee, there’s nothing that a shower and some descent food won’t fix,” Ezra said.


Buck sat back silently as the guide maneuvered the craft over the other side of the river, allowing the other three to climb aboard.


Chris tried his best to keep a rein on his anger and anxiety over almost losing his two friends until they were out of earshot of a witness but, couldn’t. Letting go of his ire, Chris gave a chewing out worthy of an award. The guide tried his best to keep his eyes focused on the job he had to do and remain as invisible as possible. He also, became quite happy about the job he held and the boss he had, whereby previously he had thought he had worked for a crotchety old man, he suddenly realized he worked for a saint compared to the blond man sitting in the back.


When it appeared Chris had finished, Vin spoke up quietly and said, “Don’t know what all the fuss is about, pard. Ez and me came out just fine.”


Ezra cringed for a moment thinking Vin had surely just set their boss off again but, Chris just sat there silently fuming, the vein in his throbbing a magnificent beat. As the raft floated out of the roaring water and into a more settled, babbling, soothing rhythm Ezra thought again of the song Vin had sang. Yeah, if he had to do it all over again, he’d definitely get mixed up these guys. He might even trust them a much as he did, himself, and his gun. Ezra sank back against the side of the raft and enjoyed the rest of the ride, softly humming.





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