SUMMARY: A dog that Hoss and Joe agree to watch for a week doesn’t act the way they expect.
Word Count: 1732
Ninety pounds of various shades of brown with droopy eyes and a tail that dragged, the dog walked in behind Hoss and immediately dropped to the floor as if exhausted. Looking at him in disgust, Hoss took off his hat and gunbelt as Adam looked over at the two of them.
“Did you make him run all the way from town?”
“Run? I don’t think this dog can run. I had to lift him inta the wagon. At least he jumped down on his own when we got here. Cain’t rightly say why they call him ‘Fury’ ’cause it seems he’s more peaceful than ferocious.”
“He looks more like asleep than peaceful.” Adam had limped over to take a look at the dog they had agreed to watch for a week. Speaking to the dog, he made Hoss smile. “You look tired, boy. You want to come over to the fireplace and rest easy. Must have been exhausting riding in that wagon all the way from town.”
“Lucky for you he cain’t understand what you’re a sayin’ or he might bite you in the ankle.”
“Well, that would require him to move which he doesn’t seem inclined at all to do.”
“You seem to be moving a mite better.”
A few days earlier, Adam had been injured breaking horses when one had slipped and thrown him over its head and into a corral fence. Suffering from a head injury, a sprained left wrist, and a bruised knee, he hadn’t been able to do any work since then. This was the first day he had been able to eat and not retch it all back up which he happily shared with Hoss.
“So your head’s getting better. That’s real good. Doc didn’t know how well you were going to recover from that. He said we all had better get used to takin’ better care of our brains seeing as we only had one each.”
“I recall him saying that and then wondering aloud if we did. I wanted to laugh, but it wasn’t a good idea at the time.”
“Nah, it wouldn’t have been. He was a mite peeved that you got hurt again so soon after the last time he was here.”
“It could have happened to anyone. No one knew the horse would slip when it was bucking, and I’d fly over its head like that.”
“I’m glad the horse wasn’t hurt. It would have been a shame to lose it.”
“Lose what?” Joe had walked in the house after putting the team of horses in the corral.
“The horse that bucked Adam off. It said I’m glad the horse wasn’t hurt.”
“The horse didn’t buck me off. He slipped and that’s when I went flying. It could have happened to anyone.”
Limping back to his chair to sit down, Adam frowned as his brothers laughed. Fury stood and walked behind him lying down next to his chair. Looking down at the dog stretched out on the floor next to his chair, Adam pursed his lips.
“Well, you do have good taste, Fury. Do you do any tricks? How about rolling over? Can you do that?” Pausing for a moment, Adam smiled. “Oh, boy, Fury, that was fast. Next time, roll over a little more slowly so my brothers can see it. You’re faster than lightning, and I doubt they could see what you did. Whoa, you did it again. Fury, I guess you can’t help yourself. You’re just too fast.”
Sitting on the settee, Joe leaned back and shook his head. “You’re lucky that dog doesn’t understand English or especially sarcasm. He’d likely do what many would like to do to you for your smart mouth.”
“Oh, and what’s that, Joe?”
“I think you know.”
“Fury, if you get the urge to chew on someone, feel free to chew on Joe.”
“Hey, I took the afternoon with Hoss to go pick him up and bring him here. He shouldn’t be chewing on me for anything.” Joe had raised his voice and Adam noticed Fury’s ears going back.
“Joe, I don’t think Fury likes loud voices. Why don’t you settle down?”
Seeing Adam looking at Fury, Hoss focused his attention on the dog too. Before Joe could register any more objections, he added support to what Adam had said but did so in a calm voice much like Adam was using. “Joe, he’s right, and ifn ya don’t want him chewing on your leg, you best calm down and talk soft like.”
With a frown, Joe leaned back and stared at the fireplace. Hop Sing had been planning to bring out coffee and cookies for Adam so he brought out some for each of the brothers. Adam drank the coffee but let the cookies sit on the table in front of him as he returned to reading the book he had been reading before his brothers returned. Seeing Adam preoccupied, Joe reached for his cookies. Fury growled menacingly causing Joe to freeze with his hand above the cookies. Looking up from his book at the noise, Adam looked down at Fury.
“Joe, I suggest you back away slowly and don’t do anything to upset Fury.”
Joe slid back and Fury relaxed. Adam reached for his cookies, and there was no response from the dog. He took one cookie and placed the plate with the other cookie on the floor by Fury.
“Go ahead. You earned it.” Fury hesitated not sure he ought to take a cookie from a plate. Adam reached down and slid the cookie onto the floor. “There, is that better?” Fury gobbled up the cookie, looked up to Adam as if to say thank you, and then rested his head on his paws again.
“Well, older brother, looks like you got a friend. I don’t know how you did it. We tried petting him and being nice to him and such, and he acted like we didn’t exist.”
“Yeah, me and Hoss even tried to throw sticks for him to fetch and all those dog kind of things, but he didn’t want to do any of them.”
“Maybe he doesn’t like being petted or fetching sticks.”
“That’s crazy talk, Adam. All dogs like that stuff.” Joe looked to Hoss for confirmation and his big brother nodded.
“Well, Pa should be back from Carson City soon. I think I’ll wait outside for him. It’s a nice day, and I’m tired of sitting inside.”
“Me and Joe got some work to do. Do you suppose you could watch over ole Fury seeing as how he seems ta like ya best?”
They got a shrug in response. Picking up his book, Adam looked down at Fury. “All right with you if we go outside to wait for Pa?”
Fury stood up. Adam limped toward the front door, and Fury followed. Hoss and Joe looked at each other and raised their hands as if to say they had no idea what was going on. They followed the two out the door and headed to the stable as Adam settled into a chair on the porch and Fury lay down beside him. As Adam read, a passage in the book seemed a bit odd to him. He read it aloud to see if it made more sense. It did, but he noticed that Fury sat up and seemed to be listening. He read more and Fury stayed that way.
“Hmm, you like good books, do you? Well, I like to read, and I like to talk. You make a wonderful audience too. No arguments. No catcalls. Just quiet attention. I like that.”
For the next hour, Adam read softly and Fury listened. When Ben rode into the yard, he saw Adam sitting with a large dog at his side. It surprised him because usually it was Hoss who became the constant companion to any dog that showed up at their place. When he walked into the stable to put Buck away, Hoss and Joe filled him in on the strange dog they had agreed to board for a week. He told them about how things had gone on his trip.
“Unfortunately, we finished after the banks had closed so I’m carrying the money with me. I felt like I had a target on my back the whole ride home. I took a different route than the usual though to make it difficult if anyone tried to follow me. All I want to do now is get this inside and in the safe.”
They heard voices then though and moved to the stable door cautiously because they didn’t sound friendly. Two men had pulled their pistols on Adam and were demanding to know where Ben was with the money. Ben handed his pistol to Joe and told him to get around to one side and told Hoss to get the rifle from his saddle and take the other side. He took off his gunbelt and prepared to walk outside to distract the two men. It never happened. The two men moved closer to Adam threatening him. Fury launched himself at the closest man and slashed at his face and gun hand disarming him and making him grab for his wounded face. Then Fury immediately attacked the other man before he had a chance to fire his pistol at Fury or Adam. Adam quickly got the first man’s pistol and before Fury killed the second man, Adam called him off. Ben and the others ran to them and Hop Sing came from the house.
“I think these two men need some medical care before you bring them to the sheriff.”
Fury walked back to the porch and sat beside the chair where Adam had been. Adam looked at him and walked back to the chair, picked up his book, and sat down.
“I guess you earned this.”
After finding his place, he began reading aloud. Joe looked at him and shook his head.
“Adam, he saved your life. You shouldn’t punish him like that.”
Adam and Fury ignored Joe. Adam kept reading, and Fury sat at his side attentive and alert. Ben and Hoss looked at each other and shrugged. Apparently the two were made for each other.