| “Rider Comin’!”
Teaspoon pushed up the brim of his hat with his pointer finger and gave a nod.
Jesse vaulted off the bunkhouse porch and ran for the incoming rider.
Rachel’s hand flew to her lips. “Jesse! Be careful!”
He waved her off and waited for the Palomino with hands shoved in his pockets.
Jimmy vaulted off Sundancer’s back and lifted the mochilla from the saddle horn, tossing it to the waiting relay rider who took off in a flurry of hooves and dust. Taking a few steps, Jimmy came to a halt and bent over, catching his breath. Sundancer pawed the dirt beside him.
Jesse was at his side, scuffing his shoes in the dirt. “I’ll take her, Jimmy. I’ll get her cooled down and given some oats, if that’s okay with you.”
Nearly out of breath Jimmy managed to nod his head and wave a hand toward the stable.
He didn’t see the way Jesse’s face brightened with a smile, or the way he nearly danced toward the stable, Jimmy’s eyes were fixed on the ground between his feet.
It took quite a bit of doing, but Jimmy straightened his back and slowly made his way to the porch, giving Noah a glare to still his silent laughter as he passed by. After Jimmy’s back was turned Noah’s shoulders started shaking again.
Putting one hand to the wall of the bunkhouse, Jimmy eased himself down onto the bench. It took some effort, but he raised his arm up and swept his hat off his head.
Rachel walked up with a pitcher in one hand and a cup in the other. It seemed that Jimmy could barely reach up his hand so Rachel set it down on the bench for him. “You glad to be back, Jimmy?”
He gave her a smile that came out more like a grimace. “Don’t you know it.”
Teaspoon cracked open an eye and gave Jimmy a sideward glance. “You had some trouble out there on the trail, Jimmy?”
Jimmy set his cup down after a long drink of water and wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. “No trouble, Teaspoon, it was just horrible hot out there.” He leaned back until the line of his shoulders touched the wall behind him.
“Hot? Well you don’t say…”
“Yep,” Jimmy answered back, “Hot as Hades out there.”
“Hades, eh?” Teaspoon sat up an inch or two and gave Jimmy a puzzled look. “Well now, Jimmy, I didn’t know you had much of an interest in the Romans, son.”
“Greeks, Teaspoon.” Jimmy lifted his cup for Rachel to fill.
Teaspoon sat all the way up in his chair. “No, son, Hades is part of them Roman stories.”
“Mythology,” Rachel corrected as she poured a cup of water for Teaspoon as well.
“Yes, well, mytheeology aside… it were the Romans that talked about Hades.”
Noah turned on the stair and looked up at Teaspoon. “It was the Greeks, Teaspoon.”
Crossing his arms, Teaspoon gave it a moment of serious thought. “Hmmm, Greeks you say.”
Jimmy sat bolt upright, slamming the legs of his down onto the porch. “That’s it, Teaspoon!” He shoved his hair from his face with his free hand. “Why is it when I say somethin’ you don’t believe me, but when Noah opens his mouth you think it’s more… more…”
“Believable?” Finished Teaspoon.
Teaspoon opened his mouth and then seemed to think better of it, trying to wave off the question. “It’s nothin’ really…”
“Say it, old man.”
Teaspoon paused in mid-denial and gave Jimmy a curious one eyed look, “What did you just say?”
Leaning forward in his chair, Jimmy made sure to turn his face directly to Teaspoon as he sounded out each word with extra care. “Say it, OLD MAN.”
Giving Jimmy a long drawn-out nod, Teaspoon clamped his lips together and took in a breath.
“Oh, Lord.” Hissed Noah as he looked to Rachel.
She only held up her hands like the dealer at a poker table does to show he’s out of the game. “I’m not getting in the middle.”
Ignoring the distress of his friends, Jimmy pressed on. “Just come out and say it. You think that just ‘cuz I ain’t got as much book learnin’ as some folks that I ain’t gonna know if a body is Greek or Roman.”
“No…” Teaspoon squinted his right eye into almost a glare, “I just thought that you wouldn’t be that interested in stories like that, I didn’t mean that-” He saw Jimmy’s glaring expression and shook his head. ‘That boy is just too hot for his own good.’ “What I meant was sometimes when a boy like yourself gets himself hot under the collar he’s liable to make a mess of things.”
He ignored the angry flush that flooded Jimmy’s face and continued on. “Like today, son… I’d hazard a guess that right now you’re hotter’ n’ a hornet’s nest.”
Jimmy didn’t blink as the station master cracked a self-satisfied grin. “You should know, Teaspoon. Maybe I should share of few of those stories you told me the last time you got into your stash of corn whiskey, like the one where you and Prairie Dog went into that gun runners camp and-’
“Whoa there, son.” Teaspoon waved his hands in mock surrender, “careful where you aim those barbs, you’re likely to hurt a man.”
Rachel filled the cup that Jimmy held aloft and Jimmy finished off another cup. “Don’t worry, Teaspoon, I ain’t never shot a man who didn’t deserve it.”
“Well that is something to say for your eternal soul, now isn’t it, Jimmy.” Teaspoon gave Noah a look under one over arched eyebrow, “I guess men should feel pretty comfortable about you, but I hear there’s several species of trees that have to run and hide when you’re around.”
It seemed like half the cup of water he drank ended up on his shirt, the rest on Noah who unfortunately sat just below Jimmy. “Hey!”
Jimmy sputtered and shook his finger at Teaspoon. “That’s low, Teaspoon... that’s just plain low, even for you.”
The older man gave him an impudent grin and shrugged his shoulders.
“Jimmy!” Rachel was helping Noah dry off his shirt with her apron. “What has you so upset?”
“He… He…” Jimmy wondered if he should get into the whole story. After all Rachel and Noah hadn’t even been around when Sarah had nearly gotten him killed. He was saved as Jesse came back from the stable almost stumbling over his feet.
“I got Sundancer put away, got her extra oats and everything.”
Jimmy gave the boy a smile. “Thanks, Jesse.”
“No problem, Jimmy. Glad to help.”
“You do your other chores, Jesse?” Teaspoon gave the boy a measuring look.
Jesse leaned against one of the porch railings and looked down at the step. “Sorta.”
“It’s hot, Teaspoon.” He looked over at Jimmy. “Don’t you think it’s hot, Jimmy?”
Pausing for a moment, Jimmy gave the station master a satisfied look before turning back to the younger boy. “I’d say it’s hotter ‘n Hades.”
Jesse gave a quick double take and looked at Jimmy like he’d just swallowed a fly. “Where’s that?”
“Never you mind,” Teaspoon groused. He waved Rachel over and held his cup up for some water. He gave her a smile and a quiet thank you before arching a pointed look at Jimmy. “I think it’s a sorry statement indeed that young folks like you just don’t have the respect for your elders that you should.”
Looking back and forth between Jimmy and Teaspoon, Jesse piped up, “You talkin’ to me or Jimmy?”
“Well, son,” Teaspoon, gave him an encouraging smile, “I think you could learn a thing or two, but I was talking to young Hickok over there.”
Noah had the benefit of another dousing of water and he nearly jumped off the stairs into the sunshine, holding his shirt away from his chest.
Rachel didn’t know what to do, except laugh and laugh she did.
Jimmy turned his frustration on Rachel and then Teaspoon. “I don’t think it’s that funny, Teaspoon. It’s not like I’m on my last legs or anything.”
“No, but your horse might be.”
Noah stepped closer, his shirt drier, but tears in the corners of his eyes. “Well, we’ve all been enjoying Rachel’s cooking, Hickok, but you and Cody have been…”
“Are you sayin’ that I’m puttin’ on weight?”
“You know, son, I have been noticin’ that you’ve been a bit slower gettin’ up in the saddle.”
“What?” Jimmy looked over at Rachel who stared back at him in response, her shoulders shaking from her desperate attempt to stifle her laughter. “This is what I get for coming home?”
“I think you’re making too much out of this, Jimmy.” Rachel gave Teaspoon a cautioning look and set her pitcher down. “They’re just poking fun because they know you can take it.”
“About as well as a pitcher can hold water with a hole through its middle.” He grumbled under his breath.
“Are you gettin’ sour on such a beautiful day, Hickok?” If Teaspoon’s smile was any indication he was enjoying himself to the fullest.
“I’m gettin’ sour because y’all are makin’ fun of me, and I don’t deserve it.”
“Then who should we be pickin’ on, Jimmy?” Noah seemed to be considering the thought.
“Well, you could be turnin’ your comments to the man who deserves it. The one that always sticks his big ol’ beak into everyone’s business.”
Teaspoon gave an affronted gasp and gently touched his nose as if checking out its shape. “Now, Jimmy, you ain’t got no cause to be sayin’ things like that. I keep an eye on you boys for your own good. If’n I wasn’t payin’ such good attention all the time, you boys would have been pushin’ up daisies by now.”
“That’s a pleasant thought.” Jimmy gave Noah a silencing look and the rider backed away hands up in surrender.
“I just don’t see how you pay such ‘close’ attention with your eyes shut so much of the time.”
“Shut? What are you-“
“Sleepin’ Teaspoon, Jimmy says you sleep too much.” Jesse offered up his help. When both men turned on him he shrugged. “What? I was just tryin’ to help.”
Rachel took hold of Jesse’s shoulders and steered him a few feet away, out of grabbing range.
Teaspoon stood up out of his chair and leveled a hard look at Jimmy. “Too much, eh? I don’t sleep no more than an average man.”
Jimmy left the bench teetering as he got up in answer. “That’s true…”
Teaspoon cast a satisfied look at Rachel and Noah who could only stare back in answer as Jimmy continued on.
“…if you were ten ‘average’ men.”
“That’s it, Hickok.” Teaspoon threw his hat down at the boards beneath his feet. “I’m gonna teach you some respect.” He moved a step closer.
“What?” Jimmy laughed. “You’re gonna fight me, Marshal? You gonna knock me to the ground?” Jimmy took another step closer.
“I’m gonna knock some sense into you, that’s right!” Teaspoon leaned in and pushed a finger into Jimmy’s chest.
Jimmy answered back by grabbing the faded red suspenders that Teaspoon was wearing, “You better get your finger outta my chest, Teaspoon or…”
“You got a problem with me teachin’ you manners, Hickok? You suuuure seem to need it.”
“I got a problem with you gettin’ in my face.”
“Then what you gonna do about it, boy?”
“Why tell you, when I can show you, old man?” He pulled on the suspenders and suddenly Teaspoon was a few inches away.
“I doubt you can show me anything I ain’t already seen, Hickok… so go ahead and try-”
Teaspoon and Jimmy jumped apart, water in their eyes and sheeting down their faces. Both of them sputtered out a few choice words before they turned their wrath on the folks gathered at the bottom of the stairs.
“Rachel?” Teaspoon watched as she laid her pitcher down in the grass and folded her arms over her chest. “Why?”
“Why?” She gave him an imperious stare and tilted her head to the side. “I was just tired of the two of you makin’ a ruckus over nothin’ except the heat and your bad manners. Not to mention Jesse here is just eating up the whole fight and I thought the two of you were going to be an example for him.”
“We are, Rachel.”
She nailed Jimmy with a look for the interruption. “Then be a good one.”
Teaspoon sniffed and swiped at a drop of water at the end of his nose. “Point taken.”
“Good.” She settled her arm around Jesse’s shoulders and turned him toward the bunkhouse. “Then get cleaned up, it’s almost time for dinner, and if you intend to eat check your problems at the door and come on in.”
Noah waited for a moment after Rachel left, he looked back and forth between Jimmy and Teaspoon, watching them both vainly try to salvage their dignity. He didn’t have the heart to tell them that at this point it was a lost cause. He flashed them a wide grin and disappeared after Rachel.
It took a moment, okay… a few moments, before Teaspoon and Jimmy would ever look at each other. He would never have admitted it, but Teaspoon was the first to make an effort. Turning toward Jimmy he gave the boy a once over from head to toe.
“I guess we’d better get in there if we want to eat.”
Jimmy nodded, but kept his eyes on the floor. “You hungry?”
“Yep… after all that jawin’ my stomach is about to crawl right out of me and head inside if I don’t. You?”
Shrugging, Jimmy looked over at the bunkhouse. “I could eat.”
“Mmmhmm.” Teaspoon reached out his right hand, his face looking in the other direction. When Jimmy didn’t immediately grasp his hand he cast a quick look over his shoulder. The rider was still looking away. Teaspoon realized he had to bite the bullet if he was going to eat. “Truce?”
Jimmy didn’t miss a beat. “Gonna keep makin’ fun of me?”
“Yep… Seriously, you’re a big boy, son… you can take it.”
“I can give as good as I take, remember that.” It was a long moment later that Teaspoon felt Jimmy’s hand close over his and gave it a firm shake.
“Truce, for now.”
Characters: Jimmy, Noah, Jesse, Rachel, Teaspoon.
Setting : Anywhere, you choose
Situation : A sayings challenge. Jimmy versus Teaspoon to kill time.
Mood : Hilarious/Humor (preferably Jimmy's good ol' snarks)
Reference : the *word* - "Seriously..."
Required : Make the sayings as ridiculous as possible.
Thanks to Nikole for tossing this idea my way and for beta reading it! Mahalo!