Synopsis: It’s New Year’s Eve in Four Corner.
Category: The Magnificent Seven
Word Count: 1,030
It was New Year’s Eve and here he was in the little town of Four Corners. He looked back over the year and marveled at the changes it had wrought in his life.
Usually this time of year, he was just coming out of the depression that gripped him during the holiday season, which he barely endured. Unlike others, he did not celebrate. Three years ago, he’d laid the charred remains of his family in the ground along with his dreams. His best friend had helped him bury them after the devastating fire.
He’d then buried himself and in a bottle. The bottle was symbolic in that by doing so, he bottled up his tender emotions leaving out on display, rage, despair and if people looked loneliness.
He’d never run from a fight in his life. After the death of his family, he ran towards it. Maybe this time, he’d lose. Maybe this time, the nameless face in the street in front of him would put him out of his misery and send him to his death. He deserved it, or so he thought. He hadn’t protected his family. It was his fault they were dead.
Somehow this year was different. While he hadn’t actually celebrated, he’d gone through the motions during the holidays. He’d sat down to Thanksgiving dinner at Nettie’s. He’d given gifts to the men he worked with at Christmas, but you couldn’t call it celebrating. It was progress, a not so deep despair, this year. Maybe he was learning to deal with it all.
The man clad all in black, raised his green eyes to the darkening skies, wondering what had caused the changes. He was momentarily distracted by the dark clouds which threatened snow. ‘Snowstorm here in Four Corners?’ he thought. That’s certainly what it looked like. As a freezing wind blew, he pulled his black duster closer around his chilled form and watched the clouds move in. ‘It’s certainly cold enough,’ he thought. ‘I’ll have to drag Tanner in out of that damn wagon. He’s got a paid for room. I don’t know why that scruffy tracker can’t use it like normal folks,’ he mentally groused.
Thinking about Tanner brought his mind back to the changes that had occurred during the past twelve months and Tanner was a major source of those changes. He’d actually made friends with six men, most of whom wouldn’t normally give each other the time of day, let alone form a lasting bond. ‘A bond of brotherhood,’ he realized. ‘I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a brother. ‘Adam, oh how I miss you. I named my boy after you. Take care of them for me,’ he thought at his elder brother lost in the war.
His mind returned to the six men. The diversity in their backgrounds and characters made for interesting and sometimes challenging differences in opinions.
There was JD Dunne, Easterner, fast gun, lawman, kid brother. He chuckled when he thought of their first meeting. JD, the kid in the suit, with that bowler hat and matching pearl-handled colts strapped to his hips — no luggage, just a saddle. He threw that saddle on a horse and was promptly thrown into the water trough.
His thoughts turned to Ezra: gambler, conman, saloon owner, dandy — the only one to dress in fancy, bright-colored tailored suits. He’d run out on them at the Seminole village. Thinking back, was he running out, or just looking for the gold the tribe was supposed to have? Sure, he’d left his lookout post, but, was he actually running away or towards something he was taught was more important?’
Nathan — now here was diversity personified. He was raised as a slave, ran away, became a stretcher bearer for the North during the war and now he was a healer. Not many folks would go to a dark-skinned healer. He was someone most people would ignore, deeming him to be beneath their notice, but here in Four Corners, he was a respected part of the team that protected the town.
Josiah — tall, proud, haunted. Josiah seemed to have as many demons as he did. He’d been some kind of a preacher or priest like his father. Somehow he’d managed to get himself thrown out. Now he spent his days fixing up the forlorn church at the edge of town and sharing his hard-gained wisdom with the men he rode with.
Buck — rogue, ladies’ man, gunfighter, friend. He had been there for him when his family perished. He’d tried to keep him out of the bottle. He’d followed him from town to town, picked him up out of the dirt and cared for him when he was injured in a gunfight. He’d sobered him up and dried him out more times than he could count. Then one day he was gone. Buck had given up on Chris, like Chris had on life. Now they were together again. He was still Buck’s best friend, but the scruffy tracker had become Chris’ best friend. That didn’t seem to bother Buck; matter of fact, he seemed quite happy with it most of the time.
Vin had done something in a few weeks Buck had never been able to do; he rescued Chris from his demons. The battle still raged, but Tanner was winning. Just the fact that he was planning to drag Tanner’s sorry ass into the boarding house out of the cold was proof enough of that. Before Vin, Chris wouldn’t have dragged himself out of the cold, let alone a long-haired, scruffy young man clad in buckskin.
So yes, things had changed for the better. Chris took another look at the sky and made a resolution to be the friend each of his friends thought him to be deep inside.
All his friends were different, but they shared equality in friendship and a commitment to making Four Corners a safer place to be. He’d make a fresh start and with the help of his friends, one day he’d be the man they believed him to be.