The following is a work of fan fiction based on the CBS television series, The Magnificent Seven. It is in no way intended to infringe on the copyrights of CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp., or anyone else who may have legal rights to the characters and settings. This story is strictly for entertainment. 

With thanks to MAC and  Antoinette for all your help and support.

 

Banner designed and created by Susan

Beat the drum slowly

Ezra Standish, gambler and gunman, was sat slumped in his chair, his hands cupped round a tin mug, sipping the tar like coffee; he winced at the bitter taste. Looking up at the hands of the clock as they turned, clicking loudly and relentlessly towards high noon.

High noon, and the time of the execution, when one more cheating murdering gambler would ride the rope to his death was slowly coming closer. Looking through the bars, Ezra looked beyond the jail and into the past.

The town was like any other, it was living on the edge; it was wide open, with money to be made from the cowhands and the passing trade, the stagecoach bringing in new victims every few days. Victims that would fall prey to a card game, which would part them of their money.

Arriving in town the first thing any self respecting gambler would do would be to look at the lay of the land, which saloon was the best to work out of. Digger Davis was all sawdust floors and working girls, it catered to the cowboys just fresh off the range who wanted to do was drink themselves drunk and fuck the saloon girls. The poker games in those sorts of places were usually medium size stakes, since poker came third in line of what the cowboys wanted to do. But the games where more dangerous, as the liquored up cowboys would see insults in every word, and cheating in every hand they lost. After the second day the poker games would become low stake games, as the cowboys lost their money into the pockets of the saloon owner and pimps.

The Golden Nugget had better class whiskey; you could usually still see after drinking a bottle, the girls were younger and cleaner, and the tables high stake. It was the place the business menand  the whiskey drummers went to for a drink and game. It was the place any self respecting gambler would start out at if he had a stake. There was always a delicate dance to be had with the owner, the man would have his own dealers, and the visiting gambler would have to offer the owner a cut of his winnings in turn for being allowed to work from one of the tables. The percentage was usually 45/55, but could be as low as 70/30 if the gambler was down on his leathers and heaven helps the gambler that tried to cut the owner out of the game. One more gambler laying face down in a back alley wouldn’t bother the local sheriff.

Ezra came back to the present as he heard the clock chime, he waited until had finished eleven strikes of the hammer, eleven strikes making the prisoner one hour closer to his death.

The card game in the Golden Nugget had been normal in every respect; three marks each with enough money in their purses to make them viable as targets for fleecing. There had been no hiding what he was; the gamblers coat had marked him clearly as a gaming man. He had shared the drink, but knew his limit knew how to look as if he was drinking more than they had. Violence when it came had come fast and from and unexpected source, a local shoe and saddle maker, his gun hadn’t even cleared its holster when the bullet had ended the man’s life.

The clock chimed the half hour, only half an hour left for the gambler to live. Getting up with the cup still in his hand, Ezra walked to the window and looked out at the somber site of the gallows, and the gathering crowd, men, women, and children playing hooky from school, all there for one reason to watch a man getting his neck stretched in the name of justice.  Ezra shivered and his hand closed on the tin mug, subconsciously trying to leach what heat was possible from the cooling metal. Anything to thaw the ice that was forming in his stomach at what was going to happen.

He remembered it clearly, smells of blood, hot and metallic in the air, as the life blood of the saddle maker had pumped out of his body, each beat of his heart speeding him to his death.

JD had arrived on the scene quickly with Buck dogging his heels guns at the ready, Ezra could remember the way they had looked at him, and then the body. Everyone had started to talk at once, fingers pointed, accusations flying, each man trying to get his story in first.

Billy Kelly, the owner of the Gold Nugget was keen to have the body removed so he could return to the business of making money, and if you won a gunfight and the other person was a well loved local, or even a well hated local, it was easy money who was going to be blamed for it.

Ezra remembered back to the trial, it had been quick, the Judge had lived up to his name as a hanging Judge, and 30 minutes after the trial has started the guilty verdict was being read out. No one had offered up a word of support, friends turned their backs, as the talk began how the world would improve with the loss of one more tin horn, murdering gambler.

The clock chimed twelve, the door the cell was opened, Vin and Chris were stood there, “It’s time,” Chris his all black clothing making him looking like the grim reaper in  persona.

Now it was time, Ezra exhaled slowly, he knew that justice must be done.

Draining the last of his coffee he put the tin mug down, tugged his cuffs into place, brushed the brim of his hat, and then ran a hand through his hair as he put his hat on. For once his habitual red coat was replaced by a dark green coat with black on the lapels. It was then he felt Vin’ hand drop onto his shoulder, usually he would have shrugged the former bounty hunter’s hand off, joking about his dirtying his beloved jacket, but it was too late for that now and he felt comforted by his friend’s  hand.

The young gambler walked past him and Vin, and out into the harsh light of the New Mexico sun, with Chris behind him and Buck and JD falling into place in front of him.

Vin’s voice was soft, “there was nothing you could do Ez, the moment he gunned the man down he was dead.”

“That could have been me.” Ez remembered back to all the times he had been alone in a strange saloon room, surrounded by people ready to call him a cheat if he won too well regardless of him playing straight.

“Never.”

“What makes you so sure Mr. Tanner?”

“Because you wouldn’t have killed him, that kid, lost control of the game, hell Ez he lost control of his life long before he reached Four Corners.” Digging in the pocket of his buckskinned jacket, Vin pulled out a wanted poster, “he’s already crossed the line, and you never did that.”

The two of them now alone in the jail together, Ez reached up his hand and covered Vin’s squeezing the Texan’s hand. “It could have been, he got too desperate he needed the money, and went for the Montana Cut Back Deal. If I had called him out first, Mr. Phillips would still be alive, and he wouldn’t be going to hang. But I had to show boat, I was going to win the money off him, and then give it back to them, but Philips had to,” Ezra shook his head “now they both die……...”

He was interrupted by a loud crack, silence then cheering?  Ezra closed his eyes, strong hands turned him and he smelt the scent that was unique to Vin Tanner, as he was held close.

“There for the grace God goes I,” Ezra said softly.

“Grace be damned Ez, you’ve got six friends that will make sure that,” Ez didn’t have to see to know that Vin had nodded towards the street. “Trust me on that, you’re never going to swing, even if we have to save you from yourself.”

The End

Origin Of the quote used by Ezra “There for the grace of God goes I.”

In recent times, this proverbial saying is often used without the literal belief in the Christian God's control of all things and is used by believers and nonbelievers alike.  The story that is widely circulated is that the phrase was first spoken by the English evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford (circa 1510–1555). He is said to have uttered the variant of the expression - "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", when seeing criminals being led to the scaffold. He didn't enjoy that grace for long, however. He was burned at the stake in 1555.

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