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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 for your help and support and special thanks to  Antoinette for beta reading.

Play the pipe lowly.

Part Two

Main Characters Chris, Ezra

Ezra Standish sat at the poker table, his cards face down, a pile of money in the center, facing the last of the card players, the rest had thrown in their hands, now it was one on one.

The man facing him was younger than him wearing a brace of guns, one of which he kept tapping when he played, it hadn’t taken Ezra long to notice that he did it at a critical point in the game, and just as night followed day, the other player would throw in his hand. Now there was at least $150 in the pot, and just the two of them facing off.

Ezra didn’t have to look at his cards; he just flipped another twenty into the plot, matching the money the younger man had. Things happened pretty fast after that, he had called and laid his cards down; the kid had done the same and then reached for the pot. Ezra brought his left hand down on the money before it could be scooped up.

“I think Sir that you are mistaken four of a kind beats a full house, and Sir that is the rules.”

The kid threw his chair back, sending it skidding across the floor, his hands resting on his guns. “Mister, my name’s Josiah Pike, by brothers Duke Pike, you heard of him.” The younger man gloated “Fastest gun in the territory, so that there full house beats your four of a kind.”

Ezra shook his head, “Son, you could by the King of Siam, and a four of a kind would still beat a full house according to Hoyle.”

There was only a fraction of a second notice, but Ezra saw it, and when the kid drew he beat him too it, one bullet, there was no time to place his shot, he had to shoot to save himself The kid, Josiah Pike, rocked back on his heels as he body dropped to the floor, and his life blood oozed out on the floor.

Sheriff Bill Clarke was there almost before the body was cold, with the witnesses, Ezra found that he didn’t have to spend even an hour in jail, but even as he gave his story, the Sheriff kept shaking his head slowly, finally “This is a bad business, Mister Standish, real bad.”

“Sheriff, he drew first.”

“His brother’s not going to see it that way and Pike is one mean son of a bitch, and he’s going to want blood for this.”

“Then I will leave your town, and….” Ezra never got to finish, the click of the Sheriff’s gun was like a thunder clap, as the man turned.

“Afraid you’re not going anywhere Mr. Standish, you see Pike’s going to want blood, and I don’t aim to see innocent people shot and killed to protect a tinhorn gambler, you shoot him down, all well and good, you get to leave. He kills you and we’ll  give you a right nice burial in Boot Hill, son. But leaving ain’t an option.”

“Sheriff, I have friends.” Ezra trailed off, as he saw the look the lawman gave him, it was almost mocking, the only friends a gambler would have was more of his own kind, and none of them would stand by him.

“We can do it two ways, you can stay at the hotel, but if you try to run, you wait him out in the jail house. Your choice.”

 

Ezra’s choice was the hotel, the telegram had gone off to Pike about this brother, and the man would be there in the next 48 hours, in the time all Ezra could do was wait he had gone to the stables to find that his horse Royal was gone. He ran through the pros and cons of what was going to happen.  He was a fast gun, well able to take care of himself, but Pike had a reputation that was formable, he boasted of being the fastest gun in the territory, he might be for all Ez knew, the man had planted enough people to lay claim to the title.

As for  friends the Sheriff had been correct, none of his so called friends would come to his aid, he was a nothing a gambler and conman, and one more of less wouldn’t change much on the frontier.  A gambler’s life was a lonely one, never knowing if the table you where playing would be your last. In his 29 years he had been beaten unconscious three times and stabbed twice and took a bullet more than once.  Poor losers, cut purses out to rob him of his winnings, it didn’t matter what you called them, they where bottom feeding scum that had gone after him because not town sheriff was going to burst his braces looking for his attacker, because half of them thought he had deserved it.  To them there were no innocent gamblers, just innocent victims, so if a poor loser took a shovel or a knife to one, it was what the gambler deserved, just fair pay back. No one would watch the back of a gambler, or greave when he ended up dead.

Ezra’s mind went back to Four Corners, his argument with Chris bloody high and mighty Larabee had been nothing more than a type of cabin fever had been the last straw, his agreement with the judge was simple 30 days work as a lawman still had another fortnight to run, god was there to be no end to it. But the town had started to close in on him, strange, but true, it was as if he was being starved of the very oxygen he needed to live. Therefore one night he had taken his horse Royal and left, the Judge be damned, and now here he was in this place, but maybe it was his karma, an old Indian woman, the house keeper for an Englishman, had explained it, the bare bones as he remembered it was what went around came around.  You cheated and killed which was bad karma and it would come round on you and bite you in the ass. It seemed he wouldn’t have to wait long for the bad karma to complete its full circle, that started one day 20 years ago in a cotton plantation in Georgia and would end in a dirty street of some godforsaken town.

When Pike came to town, Ezra didn’t have to see him arrive to know he was there, because there were enough excited locals to bring that bad news to his door.

Pike expected him on the street at noon, or he would come gunning for him.

 11.50,  Ezra stood in front of the mirror in his room, and raised a glass  to his refection, he was dressed in his best shirt , and red jacket, his black hat had been brushed of dust, if he was going to go he was going in style. The last thing he did before he left the room was to leave two cheap envelopes on the dressing table, and then he left the room.

The man stood in front of the hotel was an older version of the young man he had been forced to kill, Ezra knew there was no chance of explaining, and the man wanted blood.

Pike grinned showing a mouth full of discolored teeth, and spat on the street, and waited for Ezra to face him, “when I tell you boy, you grab iron and get to shooting.”

Ezra’s whole world now focused just on Pike, his eyes didn’t bother to look at the man’s gun hand, he would see it in his eyes when he went for his gun, and that split second tell might be all that kept him alive.

It was then Ezra heard the sound of spurs, and then the flap of a man’s duster against his legs as he walked.

“You still saying that crap Pike.” The voice was cold and deadly, and Ezra felt a chill run down his spine, at the same time as he saw the color slowly leech from Pike’s face as his  eyes opened wide in shock.

“Butt out of it Larabee, I isn’t got no fight with you.” Pike’s tongue flicked over his lips nervously.

Chris Larabee completely ignored Ezra as he walked past him, so that he stood between the two men, “Can’t do that, Ez here’s a friend.”

That was one hell of a shock to Ezra, he knew Chris and Vin were close, JD and Buck, but he had always thought himself on the edge of the group, then he was brought back to the present, as Pike continued.

“He’s a yellow livered, back shooting cheating whoreson of a gambler.” Pike spat out.

“Ez might be a lot of things Pike, but he’s not yellow, and he don’t back shoot or cheat at cards.”

“Get out the way Larabee,” Pike snarled, looking at the crowds he knew if he back down he would be finished, he rested his hand on his gun, the aggressive stance might have worked with any man other than that man facing him down.

“So Pike,” Chris drawled “you think you feel luckily.” The smile he gave was cold and deadly.

Pike’s hand went for his gun, he cleared leather, but before he could level it at Chris Larabee, there was the sound of a gunshot, and Pike fell backward, in spasm his finger pulled the trigger and the bullet flew into the ground.

Chris’s gun pin wheeled back into his holster, and the blond gun man turned to look at Ezra, took out one of his habitual cheroots there was the splutter of a match as Chris struck it on his gun, and he lit it and then slowly inhaled the smoke all the times his eyes never left Ezra.

“Mr. Larabee.” Ezra started to speak only for Chris to glare at him and he fell silent.

“You’re not alone Ezra, you don’t have to fight your battles on your own, remember that in future.”

“I am beginning to understand that Mr. Larabee, your arrival was well timed,” Ezra said softly, Chris smile, was just a twitch of the lips, and he jerked a thumb up at the store opposite, “Wasn’t just me Standish.”  Ezra followed the direction with his eyes, and there was Vin Tanner stood on the roof, Winchester in hand, another jerk of the thumb, Josiah, and Buck where stood there. “You really think you could walk out on us, for a smart man Ez you got a lot to learn.”

Turning on his heels Chris headed for the saloon, only to pause as Vin Tanner, effortlessly made his way down off the roof, to land onto the ground in front of them, the two men looked at each other then said together, “saloon.”

 Chris halted but didn’t turn as he said loud enough “next time you run Standish, I’ll plant you myself.” 

Then he stalked towards the saloon, leaving Ezra looking confused, Vin grinned at him, “See Ez, Chris likes you.”

“He threatened to kill me.” Ezra pointed out, as he fell into step with the ex-bounty hunter.

“Hell Ez, that’s just old Chris being all warm and fuzzy.”

“You can be replaced Tanner.” Chris warned as he paused on the step of the saloon and looked back at them, his hand brushing the butt of his gun, the locals began to scatter, but Vin just continued walking  towards him.

“Drink cowboy.”  He said as he came level with Chris.

Chris gave a sigh and then  shook his head, “You buying Vin.”

The Texan laughed and walked into the saloon, the black clad gunman following him. But Ezra was thoughtful as he watched the interaction between the two men, who he had begun to think of as his friends, no one outside of the odd bounty hunter or lawman has ever followed him for anything other than a wanted poster, or to get their hands on him because he was a gambler and conman,  this was a totally new experience. Buck Wilmington waited for him at the door of the saloon, and gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder, that had nearly sent him face first onto the boardwalk, “good to have you back Ez,” Buck dropped his voice slightly “don’t do that again, the old dog’s been hell to live with, poor old JD, been scared to get within ten feet of him.” 

Ezra shook his head slowly, as he finally realized his days of being a loner was gone, that he was part of Larabee’s seven. From being an outside he was actually part of something bigger than himself. Interesting, maybe just maybe this could work. And Ezra found he liked the idea.

 

The end

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