Ivy '04: Musings To A Barn Cat

To tell the truth, I don't rightly remember the first time I saw those boys together. You know what I mean? In the purely biblical sense? Eyes popped right open. Wide. Then I got real quiet. Well, hell, didn't want to lose my shot at another twenty years of life. Nope.

Was a rainy night, storm had been kicking up all day. My hacks were restless. The stage teams were running wild in the back corral. Couldn't quiet them down to save my life. The boarders were sucking wind and twitchin' sideways, heads bobbing in and out of their boxes. I just kept on walking up and down the aisles and muttering anything that sounded soothin'. Set the milk cow out in the corral. She's a placid old thing and seemed to ease the nerves on the relay team.

I'd just come back in from out there and let me tell you, it was getting downright chill. Likely to be a long, cold night no matter what the storm did. The lanterns I'd set to glow down the front aisle cast up some mighty weird shadows, but nothing like what I saw now. Mr. Larabee's tall shape with that flat brimmed hat was clear and sharp on the wall. It was the other one I didn't recognize. Could tell it was a man, but he was sitting or somethin' on a bale, couldn't see much, not how tall, nothing like that. Just could tell he was a he. Yep, that's what I said. Man. Two men. Going at it. Kissin'. And such.

Knowing how our lawman acts when he's growly, I had no mind to let 'em know I was there. Just kinda slid back down into my room at the back of the livery. Seemed only thing to do. I gotta say, though, I surely did wish I knew who that was with him.

Wasn't for several days afore I figured it out. See, I never looked before. You know? Never really watched any of the Seven close-like. Good men. Good to their horses, can't ask for more. Leastwise, I don't. I hardly ever have to work those mounts, the boys all take care of their own. Good care.

Now what was I sayin'? Oh, remember now. Getting on, you know. Umm, started watching the fellers. Not just when they came to get their horses or put them up. Nope, I'd watch them around town, at the restaurant, stores, and, especially, at the saloon. They's always nice to me, real respectful, too.

Since I knew it was Chris Larabee was one of the two, figured I'd just watch the others and sooner or later, one of them would give something away. That is if they was more than just bumping boots.

Took some time 'cause I got a business to run, can't be just sitting around watching all the time. Lose my customers fast that way. So, like I was sayin', I watched when I could. And, sure enough, one night at the saloon, I figured it out.

They look good together. And, I figure, likely been going on for a long time. Maybe even years. When they stand tall, side by side, it's fittin' somehow. One dark, one light, one easy-going, one tight as the innards of my pocket watch. Two dangerous fellers. What gave it away was when Mr. Larabee raised an eyebrow at Buck Wilmington. They'd not even been sittin' at the same table. Nope. Old Buck always makes like a real woman's man, always got some girl on his lap.

Well, Mr. Larabee finished off his whiskey and wiped his mouth with the back of his gloved hand. Then he jerked his head back, sudden-like and cocked that brow like a challenge right across the room. I could near follow the throw from my place at the bar. Whack. Buck's head come back, like a snake rearing, and then he smiles gentle and kind at the gal on his knee. Gives her a mighty bold kiss and squeeze and. And let's her go. Most like he pushed her off, said something and she went off real fast.

Then old Buck, he up and come on over to Mr. Larabee's table. Never said a word, just wiped down his mustache and tipped his head. They were out the door within two minutes of each other. Reckon they went to the boarding house that time, not my livery, cause they could see me still in the saloon and figure I might get back when they was right in the middle of something.

Now, when I watch careful, I see things. Lots of things. Like the way they sometimes walk down the middle of the street with their shoulders brushin' and their knuckles knockin'. I've seen old Buck step up close behind Mr. Larabee, lean right up against him. So tight you couldn't hardly see daylight between 'em. Then, give a little wriggle. Damn. That time, I had to go out back right quick and give myself some private relief. And talk about eyes speakin' by theirselves. Mr. Larabee's can burn hot when he's angry, but now I know what they look like when they smolder like a banked campfire. Hot and glowing greeny. Then old Buck's eyes get all smoky and dark, he lets 'em fall almost closed and you know he's getting ready to satisfy that itch. Seen'em do that across the street from each other one day at high noon. Damn, wish I was that young again.

Who would have thought?

I won't be telling anyone but you, Otis, and seeing as yore just an old barn cat, not likely you'll spread the word. And that's s good thing. Too.