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DocWard

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Everything posted by DocWard

  1. Heck, I got a few years before Sixty, and I have days like that.
  2. Doc Ward came wide awake. He knew it had to be near dawn, but he was certain something... some sound, had caused him to come awake. Listening in the darkness, he closed his eyes and attempted to still his own breathing. He could hear the soft, even breathing of his wife next to him. He heard sounds that could be coming from the barn, and was immediately on his feet. feeling for his clothes, Doc grabbed and stepped into his trousers and tugged the suspenders over his shoulders before he began shoving his feet into boots. Stirring, Abigail asked "What's wrong?" Doc's reply was soft and calm, "Probably nothing, but I heard some sounds down by the barn. Might as well get up now. Bar the door behind me while I go check." Grabbing his coat and hat, Doc picked up the shotgun, checked it, and headed out the door, waiting for Abigail to put the bar in place before stepping toward the barn in the melting snow. Walking wide of the entrance, Doc saw the light of a lantern in the doorway. Moving to the shelter of a tree, Doc called out, "John Calder, is that you?" After a brief pause, came the reply, "Yes, it's me." Walking the rest of the way into the barn, Doc saw John, checking on the horses stalled in the barn and throwing them some hay. Looking at Doc, Calder saw the shotgun, broken at the breech and draped over the man's arm. "My apologies if I startled you. First night in a new place, and I never sleep well. I decided to get an early start. I thought after breakfast I might scout some, get the lay of the land and work over toward Mr. Keller's place, like you suggested." Doc nodded his approval, and said, "Abby's up, so breakfast should be ready shortly. I'll have her build you a sandwich or two to take along." Knocking on the door, Doc announced himself, an heard Abby lift the bar for the heavy door, and pull it open. "Calder's awake. Already tossing hay. Too bad he's only here temporarily." Doc grinned at the last part. "We should be able to afford to hire a couple of men now, shouldn't we? You'll need some if you're going to buy more cattle." Doc nodded his agreement, before adding, "I think it takes a slightly different breed to want to deal with the cold of winters here, and I want men with smarts, and a willingness to work hard, and fight if they have to. I'm afraid there's going to be some fighting here very soon. Coffee ready yet?"
  3. "Baby clothes!" "This mall has everything!"
  4. After Calder had let his purpose for being in the area be known, and said he would go back to town if his presence would be a worry, Doc's answer was quick. "It might strike people as odd if you come back to town so quickly after being offered a job. Besides, it seems Old Man Hammond is up to something, and I can't figure out what. He seems to be bringing in more hands, and they now seem to have it in for Keller and me. And like it or not, you and Dawkins sort of sided with us back in town. No, you come on out, and I'll give you some work. That way, you might be able to scout around and keep an eye out for this fella." The three arrived at the ranch in the late afternoon, with the sun getting ready to drop below the horizon. Doc tried to give an idea of the lay of the ranch before he pointed to the bunkhouse. "She's built solid, just like the house. There's a potbelly stove, and some wood cut, but we'll need to cut more in short order, considering this cold snap. You'll notice the bunkhouse and the main house are good to cover one another's blind spots. The barn has its doors off to the ends facing away from the houses. I figure if anyone is gonna try to get into one of the buildings for cover, the natural choice would be one unoccupied by people." As they carried in supplies, Doc gestured to his wife and said "Abby's quite the cook, if I do say so myself, and will make sure you're well fed. I got a decent remuda of good stock horses for this country, but I want to get more. One thing that has been bothering me... Keller's not running any extra hands right now that I know of. He doesn't have much reason to at the moment." At Calder's curious look, Doc explained, "A few of us tried to push a herd to the railhead at Laramie. It was my idea, and I planned and ramrodded it. Long story short, it was a disaster. Nearly wiped me out. Keller lost a good chunk of change. Utah Bob still has his ranch, but that's why he took on the job of Town Marshall, not that he doesn't do a fine job..." Gesturing to the West, Doc continued, "Sedalia Dave, who lives over yonder, also lost a good bit of money." Doc stopped short of telling Calder about the money he had, and his plan to pay the two men back for their loss. Doc paused before continuing, "At any rate, I wish Keller had some hands about now. I don't particularly like the idea of him being alone. Any chance you get, you kind of ride that direction to keep an eye out. I'll do the same. Linn's about as sharp as they come, and more careful than most when it comes down to it." Doc chuckled, "I think he might be part fox, or considering him in a fight, part wolverine, but he's only one man. And he's my friend, so do what you can." Calder nodded as he hefted his gear to take to the bunkhouse. "Will do. By the way, do you prefer 'Doc' or 'Ben?'" With a shrug, Doc replied, "Abby's about the only one who calls me Ben anymore. Doc is fine." Calder again nodded before adding, "Since you don't seem to do any doctoring, you'll have to tell me how you came by the moniker at some point." Doc laughed, "Sure, over dinner."
  5. I've seen the movie. Mississippi would've most likely hit a sign over his head and just knocked him cold.
  6. We had a saying in my artillery unit. "You can make things idiot proof. You can't make them ______ing idiot proof."
  7. Even as the smoke wafted away, people were emptying from buildings. Hearing his wife and Calamity Kris, Doc glanced in their direction, and at his word, Abby came running. Holding her husband close with one hand, Abigail looked at the men, her other hand covering her mouth. "Who were they?" Before he could respond, the Marshall, Utah Bob, came walking up, surveying the scene. Pushing his hat back on his head, he looked at the men, "What happened?" Bending to retrieve the package he had dropped in the snow, Keller explained. "Doc and I were in the store," he gestured to one of the downed men, "that guy there had been inside, and left. When Doc and I came out, the five of them were coming out of the saloon, and braced us. Seems a couple of their friends were the ones that tried to ambush Doc. Reckon they didn't care much for that and wanted to even things up." Bob looked at Kay and Seamus, both of whom had come out of the store after hearing the gunfire. Both nodded agreement, Kay saying "He's from Hammond's ranch. He was in the store, and started wanting to hurry once Doc and Linn came in and Seamus say hello to them. He got in a rush, gathered his things and left in a hurry." Calder spoke up, "He came in and told these other four that the two men they were looking for were in the store, and they hurried out. I got up to follow, and Slim followed with the shotgun. Five to two didn't seem like fair odds to either of us." Utah Bob absentmindedly stroked his bushy mustache, thinking. Finally he sighed, and spoke, "Well, I guess I'll have a few of the boys get a wagon and take them back to Hammond's place. The four of you might want to lay low for awhile. Hammond probably ain't gonna like his men getting shot up." Pausing, he added, "Again," as he turned. Both Keller and Doc shook their heads, Doc speaking up, "I have too much to do to lay low, Bob. Besides, unless I leave the territory, Hammond knows where I live. Same with Linn. I won't go hunting men, but I don't intend to tuck my tail either." Bob nodded his understanding, then turned to get someone to get the bodies off the street. Looking at his wife who still stood close, Doc said, "It might be best for you to stay in town for a few days, maybe with Kris." Calamity Kris spoke up, "That would be fine with me, I have the room." Abigail's back stiffened, and her eyes flashed with anger, "I will not stay in town. My home and my place is at my home and with you, and we both know I can handle a long gun as good as most men, and a pistol passably well if I have to." Doc opened his mouth to object, but the glare his wife gave left no room for discussion. With a sigh, Doc shook his head as he looked at Calder, "Still want that job? If so, we should probably go buy some ammo."
  8. I wasn't offering any judgment. I'm not a fan of the band, I just know it exists, and so people from college at that time who were into alternative music would know also.
  9. It was covered for my generation.
  10. Doc Ward couldn't say what made him react, he just did. One moment he was standing, the realization striking him that the rider he had patched up had survived, only long enough to give names. The next, he felt his knees bending, his body leaning far back as his hand found the smooth walnut of the revolver at his hip. He was hearing the thunder of guns, seeing in his peripheral vision the flame from Calder's own revolver, the flame and billowing smoke from the shotgun Dawkins held. He saw the angry look of the cowhand who had been speaking change to surprise, then fear before he fell into the slush and mud of the street. Others twisting as he heard the zip of bullets close by. Then it was over. Five men lay dead on the ground. Blackpowder smoke wafted slowly away in the cold air. Doc's ears rang as he scanned, his eyes wide, intense, looking for threats. Glancing down, he was almost surprised to see the pistol in his hand. Everything seemed to have happened slowly before his eyes, and he knew he had fired, but still, the revolver was there when seemingly only a moment before it hadn't been. As he replied to Linn's question, Doc methodically began emptying spent cartridges to replace them, not believing he had fired three times.
  11. But see, it says "retired curmudgeon," which means you're a former curmudgeon. Where's the fun in that? As for the original question, I'll have to think about that and get back to you.
  12. As Doc Ward sat listening to Keller, he kept track of the cowhand in the store, glancing his way occasionally. It seemed the man had tried to hurry Kay along after the pair walked in, despite not seeming outwardly anxious or nervous. Doc sat, contemplating the information about Burcher, even as he wondered about the cowhand. “Sounds like your friend has the financial resources, and by the sound of it, he has—or had—the backbone to stand up to a fight. If Hammond is wanting to push onto that land, he may have one. Is he in the territory?” Before Linn could answer, Seamus called Doc’s name, and with a sigh, Doc got out of the comfortable rocker, walking over to the counter where his items were packaged. Setting the leather bag on the counter, Doc looked over the items while Seamus finished up the tally, adding the money already owed to it, before sliding it across the counter for Doc to see. Nodding, Doc glanced around, seeing the cowhand down the counter as he pulled out some banknotes and gold coins. Seamus kept a poker face, saying nothing as he counted out the money and getting change for Doc. As he handed it to Doc, Seamus said quietly, “I’m glad things are looking up.” Doc smiled his appreciation, “It’s thanks to friends like you and Kay. I truly appreciate it. As Doc was finishing up, he noticed Kay had the cowhand’s things packaged, and he hefted them and walked quickly out the door after paying. Gesturing toward the door with his head, Doc asked “Who’s that gent? I don’t recognize him.” Seamus shrugged, “I think he’s a new Hammond rider.” At the word, Doc gave Keller a look, knowing he had heard. Keller walked over to help with the packages, and with a quick “be seein’ ya,” they headed for the door. The two had no sooner put the packages in the back of Doc’s surrey when five men, one of them the cowhand that had been in the store, came barreling out of Whiskey’s Saloon into the street. Spreading out, the men approached Doc and Keller, who turned to face them. The cowhand from the store pointed, almost shouting, “You! You killed three of our friends.” Doc shrugged, “Possibly. I’ve killed my share, and so has my friend here. We’re not opposed to adding to the number.” As he spoke, Doc noticed John Calder stroll out of the saloon, standing to the group's left and slightly behind them. Taking in the situation with a glance, Calder spoke up, startling the five men. “So, about that job, Doc? I’m still interested, and I ride for the brand.”
  13. Doc and Linn paused inside the General Store, letting their eyes grow accustomed to the somewhat dimmer light inside. Seeing Seamus bent over the counter, pencil in hand, and Kay working with a rough looking cowhand, The pair scanned, seeing nobody else in the store. Adjusting the bags he was carrying, Doc nodded toward Seamus behind the counter, “Be right back, then we can go eat and you can tell me about Calder and Burcher.” Seamus looked up with a smile as Doc approached. “Howdy, Doc, I’m a bit surprised to see you with all this snow on the ground. Figured you’d be hunkered down out at your place with your missus. How is she doing, and what can I get for you today?” Doc gestured with his head, “She’s doing fine, thank you. Over at Calamity Kris’s place right now, getting fitted for a couple of new dresses. I’ve got quite the grocery list for you, and when we figure up the tally for that, figure out what that tab is, I'd be happy settle up.” As Doc smiled, Seamus drew his head back in a bit of surprise, but his grin broadened, “Why, of course, Doc. Do you have a list?” Doc handed over the list and Seamus gestured toward the stove. “Why don’t you and Linn sit down and have some crackers. This’ll only take a few minutes.” Tugging his coat opened, Doc walked over and sat down near enough to the stove to enjoy the warmth, as Keller did the same. Both men were aware that the cowhand was paying more attention to them since they walked in than he was to Kay as she tried to assist him. When the cowhand caught Doc’s eye, he gave a glare. Doc gave a short appraising look, then looked up into his eyes before giving a dismissive look and looking over at Keller, who seemed to be unimpressed as well. “So, about this Burcher, why do I know that name?”
  14. Abigail stood as Calamity Kris started taking measurements. It had been such a long time since she had been able to visit with her friend and catch up. As they chatted, Abby let out a sigh and said “It will be so good to have the bank paid off, it will be like a weight off our shoulders.” Kris paused and looked up, “Is that why Doc was going over to the bank? That’s wonderful news! How… I mean, it’s none of my business, but I am so happy for the two of you!” Abby decided to stick with the story she and her husband had agreed upon, which while not exactly the truth, wasn’t a lie, “He went and did some work in Mormon territory, and it was lucrative enough to pay the loan, and also our tab with Seamus and Kay. They’ve been so generous, it will be a pleasure to do that!” Abby could tell from the look on her friend’s face that she was happy and relieved for her as she stood to give her a hug. “That’ll be one less thing that terrible Mrs. Cushman can gossip about!” As Abigail arched an eyebrow, Kris realized Abby might be unaware of the things Mrs. Cushman said. Smiling, Abby replied “Why, what has Mrs. Cushman had to say about me and my husband?” Fretting over her measuring, Kris shook her head disapprovingly, “That you and Doc are broke, that pretty soon Mr. Cushman would have to call the note, and they would own your place, that the two of you could go back East with your tails between your legs. I so dislike that woman.” Abby smiled and responded, “Well, bless her heart.” With that, both women laughed. For her part, Abby knew that if there were a social function soon, she would ask Kris to make her the nicest dress she could, to please Ben and maybe make Mrs. Cushman a little envious.
  15. I'm gonna guess he played more than a little bit of catch with his dad, who played first base for Yale.
  16. Better than I could do, especially wearing a protective vest!
  17. Agreed. Here's my personal favorite:
  18. I love the flavor of their breakfast stuff, but not the texture. I did find if I slice them small and toss them in with scrambled eggs, it does well. The seasonings for me are spot on.
  19. Man, you have to be really angry at someone for that!
  20. Doc had driven his surrey, with Abigail next to him, Keller joining them riding his mule. Dropping his wife off at Calamity Kris’s dress shop, Doc drove on, with Keller climbing in the surrey, leaving the mule standing sleepily in front of the shop. After bumping into Slim Dawkins and being introduced to John Calder, Doc and Linn moved on toward the bank. Keller glanced over at Doc after they were out of earshot. “Notice anything about John Calder?” Doc kept his eyes straight ahead as he replied, “You mean the tan and the crows feet around the eyes that suggest he’s been somewhere like Texas or Arizona and the sun for a long time, and recently? Or do you mean the gun rig that appears a little too nice but a little too well used for a cowhand chasing jobs? Or maybe the boots that were a little too nice and not at all worn at the heel for one either?” Keller just nodded and said, “Yep. I’m guessing law man. Just a guess though.” Doc nodded his agreement. “Seems nice enough, though. I appreciate he didn’t want to upset Abby. Course, being married to her, I don’t particularly blame him. Get her angry, and there ain’t no back-up in her.” Linn chuckled and shrugged, “You say that, and I have no doubt. I don’t think I’d want those eyes staring at me in anger.” Keller’s voice became just the least bit wistful as he continued, “But I think you also know how lucky a man you are.” Doc smiled, “Indeed I do, my friend. Indeed I do.” Pulling up to the bank, Doc climbed down and reached for the bags that had been put in the back of the surrey. Looking at Keller, Doc asked, “Coming in?” Keller sat thoughtfully for a moment, then climbed down to join his friend, replying, “Sure, and I’ll try to keep a straight face.” Walking up the steps and through the glass paned doors with the slightly fading green shades, Doc lifted his hand in greeting to the teller. “Good morning, Constance. Is Mr. Cushman in?” Before Constance could step around to knock on his door, the banker came out of his office at the sound of his name. A little heavy and a little pink from spending most of his time inside polishing a chair with his trousers, Cushman had the look of a man who had a high opinion of himself. Moving behind the counter himself, Cushman smiled a saccharine sort of smile “Good morning Mr. Keller, Mr. Ward, how may I be of help to you gentlemen?” Knowing Linn had no business with the banker, both men had little doubt that greeting Linn first was intentional, a subtle way of diminishing Doc’s standing among the three. Doc chose to ignore the slight, instead speaking up, “I’m here to discuss my debt.” Frowning and shaking his head, Cushman replied, “I know you’ve experienced some tough times on your ranch, but I can’t extend the loan further than I have, and I must insist that you make some payment, and soon.” Lifting the bags and setting them on the counter, Doc stared into Cushman’s eyes as he opened one of the flaps without looking down. Only after it was open did Doc glance down as he pulled out a sheaf of bank notes. “Could you get the note for the loan and calculate the exact amount for the payoff?” Cushman’s mouth fell agape, and his eyes got wide as he stared at the bills, sure there was more money inside the bags. Stammering, Cushman stepped backward and toward his office, his eyes on the money until he had to glance at where he was walking. He was back in a moment, and stood, trying to concentrate as he kept glancing at the money before him. Finally, Cushman cleared his throat, Eight Thousand and Twelve Dollars, Mr. Ward.” Doc began counting, pausing only to say, “I would have brought a check drawn on a bank in Utah, but I didn’t want to wait. I wish to be done today.” Sliding the bills to Cushman and watching as he carefully recounted the money, Doc closed the bag and lifted it to his shoulder. Cushman glanced over to his teller, “Constance, could you hand me Eight Dollars from your till?” When she brought it to him, Cushman slid the coins to Doc, saying, “Your change, Mr. Ward, and I will destroy the note. Would you like to start an account for… Uhmmm… Any remainder?” Doc’s look was cold as he produced his copy of the loan paper work. “You will not destroy the note. I want to watch you write ‘Paid in Full’ on both it, along with my copy, and the amount paid. Then you will stamp both with the bank stamp and add your signature. Finally, I want a receipt for the payment, stating the same.” Cushman’s face went a shade of red that pushed toward purple as he began to stammer again, “Ahh… Well… That’s not how we… Don’t you trust…” Before he could finish the question, Doc, his voice soft yet matter-of-fact, interrupted, “No, I do not trust you. Particularly when my home, my ranch, and my livelihood are at stake. Now, if you don’t do as I just instructed, and now, we are going to have a problem on our hands. I’m quite confident you don’t want to have a problem, now do you?” Shaking his head at the subtle threat, Cushman, his voice getting a little higher pitched, replied, “No, of course not.” Getting the stamp, his hands shaking, Cushman did as instructed, handing Doc’s copy of the paperwork back to Doc, along with a receipt. Trying to recover some of his dignity, Cushman, smiled weakly, “So, about that account? I’d be happy to…” Turning even as Cushman spoke, Doc said over his shoulder, “Good day Mr. Cushman… Constance, have a good day.” Once outside, Keller, keeping a deadpan expression, observed, “You don’t seem to trust our friendly banker.” Doc, his face also impassive, replied, “Why ever would you say that? I trust the man implicitly… To do whatever might gain him a dollar, no matter how shady. Shall we go to the General Store?”
  21. I grabbed the binoculars as I went out to walk the dogs. It was visible from my driveway with my porch light on through binoculars. I doubt you'll be able to see it with the naked eye. If you face the big dipper, and look at the two stars that make up the "front" of the cup, judge the distance between the two stars as you see them. Follow the line between them to the West, about twice that distance, and once it is dark enough you should be able to spot a fuzzy blob with a tail going upward.
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