Why is it that people always want to go back, back to revisit the times in their lives when they wish they could have changed the course of fate.
As Lou sat relaxing in her rocker on the porch of her humble home, she couldn't help but start to reminisce about her life till now and how many twists and turns it had taken, much like those of the harsh river canyons of the mighty Colorado.
As she pondered the past, she considered how different her life might have been had she not been picked to become a pony express rider that day almost twenty two years ago.
What if someone had discovered "he" was in fact a "she" before she'd been accepted? What if Kid and the boys had not been such loyal friends and kept her secret, and what if Teaspoon, when he'd found out her identity had not done the same? What different path may she have journeyed on then?
She thought now how lucky she'd been to have escaped Wicke's clutches and found her way to Sweetwater and the pony express station she fondly remembered as home.
Thinking about all the many happy times during those eighteen months as an express rider, her thoughts couldn't help but wander back to the day that she would remember as the darkest of all, darker than any of the days she'd spent under Wicke's control.
It happened on a sunny day, a day that started out like any other, and after nearly eighteen months of facing danger on a daily basis, who would have thought it wouldn't have ended just like any other. How wrong they would be, as unbeknownst to all this would be the day that changed all of their lives forever……..
Lou could hear the barn doors slowly open and knew straight away it was Kid coming to look for her. As she stood staring at Lightning while distractedly getting him ready for a run, she couldn't quite come to terms with the realization that she was with child.
What was she going to do? How could this have happened, especially now when it seemed she and Kid had finally sorted out their differences and were starting to trust one another again.
"There you are, I've been looking for you everywhere" Kid said as he walked up behind her, "you alright, you didn't come in for breakfast?"
"I'm fine!" Lou snapped.
"I just needed to do a few things before my run later today" she said more calmly.
"Look Lou if there's anything botherin' you, you know you can talk to me"
"I know, just havn' a bad morning I guess. Its o.k. Kid, I'll just finish up in here and be in shortly."
"Well I guess I'll just go back to the bunkhouse and find out what the others are up to". "Thought maybe a few of us could head over to the water hole, looks like its gonna be a hot one today."
As he was about to leave, Kid turned back and gave Lou a quick kiss on the forehead. It was a small gesture, but such a tender one, that it nearly was her undoing. She quickly got her emotions under control and admonished herself sternly "Lou, you have got to pull yourself together!"
Lou decided that a walk might help, and since moving to Rock Creek where they were stationed on the outskirts of town, going for a walk meant a person could get lost in their own thoughts just walking up and down the sidewalks window shopping.
Today Lou's thoughts were on the unborn child growing within her, which is the reason a normally perceptive Lou didn't notice the scene playing out in front of the saloon.
As she distractedly walked passed the saloon doors, a group of drunken cowboys were exchanging verbal insults with each other and on noticing a "scrawny lad" going by decided to turn their attention to him. Unexpectedly she found herself caught in the middle of a very volatile situation, one she just wasn't in the mood for.
"Now what we got here Virgil?" a rather scruffy unkempt character said to one of his companions as Lou walked passed. "Must be one of those uppity lads from the pony express station I've heard all about. What say we have a little fun with the scrawny one" Normally, she'd avoid a situation like this and quickly make a speedy exit, but today, Lou wasn't taking this ribbing from anyone, especially being called a scrawny one!
"Just who do you think you're talking to mister!"
"Oh, a kid with a bit of lip, hey" well maybe we'd just better teach this one a lesson boys".
As the group started to approach her, Lou realized the situation had now become a bit more serious and was quickly trying to think how she was going to get herself out of this one.
Kid hadn't found anyone back at the bunkhouse so he'd headed off toward the sheriff's office to see Teaspoon but found Jimmy minding the "store" instead.
"So Jimmy, what say we head down to the water hole for a bit and cool off".
"Can't Kid, told Teaspoon I'd hold the fort till he got back, think he's gone to check out some horse theivn'".
Just then Tompkins from the supply store charged in, "you boys had better get yourselves over to the saloon if you want to stop Lou getting hisself into a whole lot of trouble!"
Before Tompkins had even finished, Kid and Jimmy were out the door and running toward the saloon.
What they saw and heard as they approached the saloon, turned them cold with rage. Lou was being man handled by at least four of the drunken cowboys and they could hear one yelling out what luck to have found out the scrawny lad was actually a lass and how much more fun they could have.
Lou was repulsed by the vile descriptions of what these low lifes' intended for her and was struggling to get free when she heard Kid's voice above the lewd cackling of the men surrounding her. In a tone she'd never heard him use before, Kid boomed "Get your hands off her now if you know what's good for you!"
The cackling stopped but only while the cowboys stopped to see who had interrupted them. "Why looky here boys, this young gun and his friend with the badge think they're gonna put a stop to our fun". Both Jimmy and Kid were standing braced ready for anything.
They knew they were slightly outnumbered, but were mainly concerned with Lou getting caught up in the crossfire, as one of the low life's had a tight hold of her while she was still struggling to get away.
The cackling started up again, but this time there was menace in their voices as the leader gave a signal and Lou knew in that split second that she had to hit the ground fast.
She threw herself sideways to the ground to try and protect her belly as much as she could and as she hit the dirt could hear the hail of bullets above her.
When she could hear nothing but the eerie silence that always seemed to follow a gunfight, Lou gingerly moved to sit up. What she saw nearly sent her reeling, for not only were the cowboys lying dead on the ground but Kid and Jimmy were also lying lifeless in the dirt. She heard herself scream and then everything went black.
"We're all ready for you now Mum, come and see what Dad's organized for the party?"
As her son's booming voice bought her back to the present, Lou gazed down at her beautiful grandson stirring in her arms. "That's your daddy calling out for us little fella". As she stared with love into those tiny blue eyes, identical larger ones appeared behind her shoulder with the same look of love. Lou smiled as she turned and looked into Kid's loving eyes "who would have thought we'd be here today" she said.
"You reminiscing again Lou" Kid said as he kissed her cheek.
"Just can't believe how lucky I am."
"How lucky we both are", Kid added as he bent down and took his grandson in his arms and held out a hand for Lou.
As they walked down the steps together to meet the guests who were gathered for their grandson's christening, Lou realized how right Kid was.
She could have lost the love of her life that day, all those years ago, if it hadn't been for the greatest sacrifice of all by a friend who had loved her and Kid more than she realized. But for Jimmy's courage and bravery she wouldn't be holding her beautiful grandson in her arms today, and be wrapped in the love of a man who was truly her soul mate.
Written for Reunion 2009