Teaspoon took a long sip of his coffee as he leaned against the corral. The riders were stirring, coming out of the bunkhouse in ones and twos, each callin’ out a greeting. Well, most of them did anyway.

Stretching the corner of his mouth, Teaspoon tried to wrap his lips around words that had been troubling his mind for weeks.

“Mr. Spoon?” Emma appeared at his shoulder, “Something the matter?”

Teaspoon inclined his head in Lou’s direction. The youngest of his riders had emerged from the bunkhouse like the rest, but as soon as he’d noticed Teaspoon lookin’ in his direction, he’d tucked his head down and pulled his jacket closed. “Now normally, I ain’t one to criticize no one for their actions, least ways these boys, but Lou; he’s a strange little one-”

Emma’s shoulders tensed a bit, “Really? Why?”

He shook his head, “Dunno... just a feelin’ I guess.” Lou headed into the barn and Teaspoon turned around, setting his back against the corral. “What do you think, Emma?”

Before she could get a word in edgewise, Teaspoon started in again. "Another thing... those glasses... There's got to be some kind of problem."

"What do you mean?"

"Half the time, he's got 'em pulled so low down on his nose I'm surprised he can see through 'em, or that it does any good 't all."

"Really?"

"We aughta have the doctor take a look. Maybe he needs a new presc... new proscrip... a new pair of glasses."

"That's real nice that you're takin' an interest, Mr. Spoon."

"Yeah, well.. I still don't understand... "

"Really?" Emma moved a step closer. "What is it now?"

"He don't seem to fit in, doesn't really join in with the others. Keeps himself apart. Don't bode well if you ask me."

"Why is that?"

"Lou's gotta learn to open up a bit, share a bit of himself with the others... make friends... brothers really. That's what's gonna keep him alive out here."

Emma looked down at the ground for a minute, then, settin’ her hands on her hips she looked Teaspoon straight in the eye. “Well, as far as I can see, you and the other boys have given him grief over a lot of things, his size for one thing. Can’t blame the boy for bein’ a bit to himself.”

Teaspoon mulled over her words, and draining the rest of the coffee from his cup he looked to the barn. “I guess you’re right, Emma. The boy’s small, but he’s a damn good rider. Fact is.. the other boys are lucky Russell, Majors and Waddell even took them. I mean they wanted light riders and boys like Jimmy, Kid and Buck.. well, they’re kind of tall for this kind of work. So I guess what I’m sayin’ is I aughta support Lou a bit more, show the others that Lou is as good as the rest of them...”

“Really, Mr. Spoon?”

“Well heck, Lou’s probably the fastest we got.”

Emma smiled at the Station Master, he was really tryin’ to piece his thoughts together, “ Mayhaps I aughta tell him that.”

Smilin’ beneath her hat brim, Emma nodded, “Sounds good to me, Mr. Spoon. I’m sure Lou’d appreciate the thought.” Emma paced toward the barn to see if Ike had hitched the team to the buckboard.

Teaspoon didn’t notice that she’d left, “Trouble is... how do I get Lou to stand still long enough to tell him?”

The END

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