My Story
        By Lydia

"I am not affiliated with Trilogy Entertainment, nor do I have any rights to
be.  I understand that all of the Seven are the properties of Trilogy.  I am
just taking them out to play.  They will be returned in better than new
condition (I hope!).  I am not rich at all, so they'd be wasting their time
trying to squeeze cash out of me.  It should also be said that this is my
first fanfic submission, so please don't get angry at me for any discrepancies
in characters.  It is only my creative interpretation.  Please read on."


 

The early morning sun cast golden tones over the four riders as they picked their way along the grassy landscape.  They had been out since early morning searching the landscape for the traces of their quarry.  One of the men dismounted his horse and began to inspect some fresh horse tracks on the ground.  The other three riders took this opportunity to take a drink from their canteens.  The buckskin clad rider got up from stooping to inspect the tracks.  He then walks slowly to his horse and stretches before mounting once again.  They don't talk much because they are tired from their nightly visit to the saloon; and because they got their assignment late that very night.  A rider with a rather thick mustachescratched his rough wiskers and yawned.  Everyone seemed to be stirring, except for the one rider clad in black.  He seemed preoccupied with something in his mind.  Everyone knew he was haunted by images from the past.  But he wasnít thinking about his past, he was concentrating on their quarry, and was otherwise alert.

"Hey Vin, we even close yet?" Buck said yawning. "Iris was mighty upset because I left when it was still dark."

"Yeah, we're close, we're real close," Vin lazily answered back.  Suddenly, Vin spotted a white appaloosa horse near some fairly thick brush. "Look,"  Vin pointed out.

"Is it-" Buck asked with increasing alertness.

"Looks like the horse they described," Chris responded.  "They said that she would be riding a white horse.  Not too smart if she wanted to be inconspicuous."

"Hey," Buck said as he whacked J.D. on the leg with a swift backhand motion.  "Wake up, Kid!"

"Huh," J.D. sputtered.  "I wasnít sleeping!  Just resting my eyes."

"You were sleeping," Buck corrected him.

"Quiet you two!  We've gotta sneak up on her real fast.  Catch her off guard," Vin whispered.  The four riders carefully dismounted and tied their horses to a neighboring tree.  They approached the white horse....
 



 

Well, Becky, It's another day of traveling ahead, yessiree, Rebecca thought.

She was always talking to herself, even if it was only in her head.  She carefully rolled up her sleeping blanket and loaded up her saddle bags.  She hated to be in a hurry.  She always thought better when she had time on her hands.  Rebecca carefully poured some dirt over her fire and stirred the ashes until they only smoked.  She looked at her moist palms and then wiped them on her pant leg, leaving two dark palm marks.  She gathered up her packs, picked up her Winchester, and made her way to her Truth, her beloved horse (and only companion on this trip).  As she proceeded to her equine friend, she heard a snap, like that of a breaking twig.  Before she knew it, she had thrown down her packs and took a firm hold on her rifle.  She heard another snap and whipped herself around only to come face to face with a man dressed in black.  He had both his pistols aimed at her chest.  She held her rifle steady and held her ground.  She stared at him over the sight.  His cold eyes stared back.

Looks like he's played chicken before. I'll hold my ground and see if he gives up. Rebecca thought to herself.

Out of the corners of her eyes, she spotted three other men, whom also had their weapons aimed at her.

Damn!

"It's alright, miss," said one of the sidemen.  "You'll be safer if you come with us.  Please put down the gun."

She held her ground.  I wish there was another way out.  God I wish....

And with that, she carefully put the rifle down on the ground.  A young man who put handcuffs on her thin wrists then seized her.  The other men walked to their horses.  The man in black walked behind her as they proceeded to her horse.  Both men helped her mount her horse.  One of the riders who had a dark mustache picked up her saddlebags and put them on his horse.

Like I'm conspiring with my saddlebags!

The young man grabbed her horse's reins and led her back down the trail.
 



 

Josiah and Nathan walked into the crowed saloon room as the late afternoon rolled in.  Both sauntered up to the counter and ordered bottles of whiskey.  Nathan found a table and sat down, but Josiah took his bottle of whiskey over to another table where a fierce game of Poker was taking place.  Ezra looked up for a moment as he saw the tall preacher walk towards the table.

"Here Ezra, looks like you're getting dry," Josiah said as he plopped the bottle down next to the gambler.

"Thank you, my friend," he said as he spread out his hand of cards.  "I shall repay you as soon as I convoke my winnings.  Royal Flush, gentlemen, I have succeeded in winning another kitty."  His gold tooth glinted as he pulled the chips across the table on to his corner.  As he filled his hat with winnings, Ezra heard the whinny of four horses in the street outside.  Josiah looked up as well.

"Well, look who's back," Nathan said as he approached the two men.  "Didn't take as long this time."

"Gentlemen, shall we?" Ezra said as he rose out of his seat. The three of them weaved their way through the crowds at the counter and out the swinging doors.  They strode out across the street to the jail to see the others, and this new quarry.  They entered the doorway and peered in as J.D. uncuffed the prisoner and closed the cell door.  The prisoner just looked around innocently and then plopped down on the bed.  Buck and Chris left soon after.  Josiah and Nathan followed suit, as they wanted to know the details of their pursuit.  Only Vin, J.D., and Ezra were left in the small jail office.

"So this is the truant?" Ezra asked as he peered into the cell.

"Yup," J.D. said as he picked up the saddlebags.  "It was no problem catching her.  No exchange whatsoever."  He opened the flap of the first bag and looked inside.  With his right hand, he fished out several paperback books, twelve in all.  "Gee, she's a heavy reader.  Wait a minute-" J.D.  looked at the title, "These are my favorite novels of all time!"

Vin picked up one book, "The Adventures of Jack Mc Cloud?  These are dime novels."

"Yeah, but theyíre pretty exciting.  I read them all." J.D. eagerly answered back.

J.D quickly searched both bags for weapons, but only found a box of rifle shells.  The bags were filled with notebooks, pencils, and drawings,  nothing more.

"So, you like reading action novels too, huh?" J.D. said as he approached the outer jail door.  The young woman nodded.  She then pointed to the book then to herself, and then made a writing motion with one hand on the other.  She repeated the motion a few times, but J.D. only offered her baffled looks.  She became exasperated and mouthed the words "I wrote them".  Only then did the young man show some intelligence.

"What?!"  he exclaimed.  "You wrote them?  That's impossible-"  The young woman pointed at the first saddle bag that sat on his desk.  Vin made a motion to recheck the contents of the bag.  "It's alright, I checked them over," J.D. said as he rushed back to his desk to retrieve the bag.  He set the pack down on the floor next to the bars.  She reached through the slats and sorted the contents until she found a notebook.  She opened to a certain spot where she retrieved an envelope.  Carefully, she removed a folded letter from that envelope and unfolded it.  She handed the letter to J.D., who was baffled at her behavior yet again.  He scanned the first lines and then his eyes widened, "It's a acceptance letter from a publisher for The Adventures of Jack Mc Cloud. I can't beleive it!  A girl wrote these books."

The young woman smiled and pointed at herself.  J.D. looked pale as milk, as he clutched the letter.

"Did you ever get my letters?" J.D. sheepishly asked the girl.  She reached back into her bag once again and pulled out a bound stack of letters and plopped them on the ground.  J.D. gasped as they hit.  "Why didn't you write back?" he quietly inquired.

She shrugged her shoulders, shook her head, and mouthed the word "sorry".  J.D. quietly got up to a standing position after kneeling on the ground.  She reached once again into her pack to retrieve a pencil.  She jotted a quick note down on a clean page, then tore out the page and handed it to J.D. :
 

"I couldn't write because I never got much mail in the institution.  I only recently found them in my files.  Please forgive me for my rudeness."
"I guess that's alright..." J.D. muttered as he walked back to his desk.  "So you penned a man's name.  Wouldn't they accept a woman author?"  The young woman let out a peal of silent laughter and shook her head.  She opened up another page of her notebook and wrote another message.  When finished she crumpled it up and tossed it over to  J.D. :
 
"I sent in a novel with my name (Rebecca Williams), but it was rejected by those chauvinist swine at the publishing firm.  I decided to reapply as "Beck Roberts", and I was accepted.  From then on, I made that my pen name and I kept sending  in manuscripts for new action novels."

"Well, you may be my favorite author, but I can't let you out.  I got orders from the state hospital," J.D. said as he threw out her note.  "They're going to collect you soon-"

"In five days," said Chris as he entered the room.  "They'll come in five days to collect Rebecca."  The young lady peered at the darkly dressed man.  Why did she feel odd when he walked near her.  He seemed so cold and  distant from the others, but then again...

In the mean time, Vin and Ezra had been watching the whole scene from the corner of the office with amusement.  Chris eyed the prisoner, then turned on heel and walked out.  Rebecca shivered at his stare.  Vin walked up to the outer prison doors and half smiled at her, "So, I guess we meet again after all.  How've you been?"  She looked at him and gestured with her hand that she was all right.

"Vin, do you know this kind young lady?" Ezra questioned.

"Yeah," Vin answered.  "I had an assignment to pick her up once.  She ran away from her boarding school when she was, oh, I think about ten.  She and another boy sneaked off in the middle of the night and went down to the river to watch the big paddleboats on the river.  They must have walked for ten miles before they reached the Mississippi River.  I was bringing in another quarry when a frantic schoolmarm and police officer approached me and asked me to find them.  Well, it didn't take me too long to find them sitting under a tree on the bank of the river watchin' the boats go by.  It was near dusk so we camped out.  I was afraid that they'd run away from me as soon as I slept, but they stayed around.  They were pretty cooperative.  Anyway, I returned them to the school and received a small reward, but these kids were pretty strange.  They weren't scared at  ____*all.  This is pretty much deja-vu for me."

"That's a real coincidence for you then," J.D. responded.

"If that's true, then why do they want this young lady impounded?" Ezra asked.

"I don't know, I'm just doing what the instructions are asking me to do," J.D. answered.
 



 

Rebecca laid in her cot for some time just staring up at the ceiling and deep in thought.  When her brain was exhausted from her musing, she fell asleep.  Normally, when she slept, she would have regular dreams.  When she meant regular, she meant that they were fanciful; sometimes she dreamt of swimming beneath the waves of the lake by her old school, or that she was the princess of her own castle and kingdom.  And what was more fanciful was that in her dreams, she had her voice back, and this made sleeping fun for her.  Oh to have my voice back, she would think.  But ever since she was moved to a state asylum, she was plagued by nightmares in which she was drowning under the lake surface or having her castle fall down with cannon fire.

The worst of her nightmares involved the death of her best friend, John.  He was killed when a cylinder head of the steam boat engine blew out during a race on the river.  Most riverboats raced in those days.  Wealthy passengers would bribe the riverboat captains to race another boat on the river.  Usually, these trips ended in chaos as engines exploded and people are blown out the back of the ship into the water.  She didn't fnd out about John until a few months after the incident occurred.  It was after she was moved into the asylum.  She found an old newspaper lying in a hallway with the news of the tragedy emblazoned in the headlines.  She  read the list of the dead and found his name to be on it.  Rebecca fell into a state of depression and was rarely communicative.  The doctors labeled her as "insane" because she was moody and quiet.  But she was grief struck for months because she had lost the only true friend she had ever known.  In her dreams, she saw his face in one of the boat's dining rooms.  As she ran towards him, the engine would blow up and she would then wake up covered in sweat (which she often mistook for blood).

These nightmares made sleeping very light and she hardly slept five hours each night.  She spent most of the sleepless time writing to herself in her journal or looking out the barred window of her room.  It was ten months before she was able to return to her novel writing.  When she had finished her latest novel, she spent three weeks trying to get it out of the asylum.

When she did get it out, she didn't put a return address on the package, because she didn't care to let the publisher know where she was.  She knew that was the last novel that she wanted to write.  Rebecca had better things to think about than writing action novels... Escape. Rebecca was a natural sneak.  She would startle her schoolmarm when she would tiptoe into the classroom when the teacher had her back to the class.  When the teacher turned around, she would jump at the sudden appearance of Rebecca.  Not only was she mute, but she was quiet in every other way.  Her breathing was so quiet, she was virtually undetectable during games of hide-and-sneak; to which she was dubbed "queen".  She could sort through a messy pile of papers on her teacher's desk without changing the appearance of that pile.  She learned palming tricks from other kids at her old school, and her friend John.  All of these skills earned her a bad reputation at the asylum.  She had escaped from the grounds a consecutive twelve times (including this one).  Each time she had been caught, they put her in a cell with no windows for a few days until they moved her back to her old room.  She stole keys, chipped away bars, jumped fences, and even escaped from guards' grasps.  This time, though, everything seemed different.

She wanted to escape completely.  She had stolen her personal belongings from the cabinets in the basement of the building.  All of her books, nice clothes, and old notebooks were confiscated as soon as she set foot in the building.  They even withheld her mail (which were notices from publishers and fan mail).  They even assumed control of her finances by depositing her money in their account.  All of her inheritance had gone to feeding those greedy staff and administrators.  She was prepared to fight back if needed.  They stole her life and dreams, and she wanted to mend them, even if that meant being a fugitive for life...
 



 

Early morning sun streamed through the slated windows of the jailhouse.  J.D. had slept there overnight.  He was committed to his job, and the others could see that as well.  Buck had joked that J.D. was more of a servant to the prisoners than a sheriff.  He had gone to the restaurant and fetched breakfast for himself and the prisoner.  He shoveled down his food, but noticed that the young woman was not eating.

"Waz'matter?  Scrambled eggs are the chef's specialty," J.D. said, with a touch of hurt.

The young woman smelled the eggs, turned up her nose, and then placed the tin plate on the cot beside her.  She did however nibble on the greasy toast that accompanied the abomination.  After finishing what she could stand, she pushed the plate through the food slot under the barred door.  She then sat down on the floor with her back to J.D., with her knees up to her chin.

She reached into her left boot and felt a metal rod that was concealed by her ankle.  She lifted it slightly out of the top of her boot, but was distracted by the sound of footsteps coming towards the office.  Rebecca hastily shoved the rod back into her boot.  Just then, the figure of a well-dressed man appeared in the doorway. J.D.'s hand came to rest on his gun belt, but was soon relaxed when he recognized the familiar figure of Ezra standing in the doorway.

"Salutations, J.D.," Ezra said with a smile.

"Huh,?"

'It means 'howdy'" Ezra explained with sarcasm.  He walked up to the bars of the outer cell door and peered into the cell containing the latest prisoner.  The young woman looked up at his face and stared into his eyes.  Ezra was taken back by the rich brandy color of her eyes and matching bobbed hair.  Her face was an oval shape with perfectly smooth lines.  Her stare was so mesmerizing; he could hardly take his eyes off of her eyes.

He didn't know how long he had been staring, but he was awakened by the sound of J.D.'s pesky voice, "Oh, Ezra, ya in there?  Helloooooooo!  Ezra..."

Ezra blinked a few times, then straightened up.  "Miss Williams, you look most uncomfortable in this establishment," Ezra said with a look of compassion.  "I wish there was some way of ameliorating your situation.  I hate to see a southern belle stuck here."

"Hey, Ezra, how'd you know that she was from the south?  You weren't even there for the briefing," J.D. said puzzled.

Ezra picked up the plate of scrambled eggs and hash off the concrete floor, "No one in their right minds would eat such stuff if they were from the South.".  He sniffed the plate and wrinkled his nose.  "It's practically bred into the populace.  A southern belle would starve to death before eating such cuisine." Ezra put the plate down on the floor again, "Where are you from?"

Rebecca pulled out her notebook and wrote, "New Orleans, but  raised outside of Atlanta, Georgia."

''Really," said Ezra, "I must declare that I am acquainted with the geography of these areas."

Rebecca rolled her eyes.

"Hey, J.D.," Vin said as he walked through the doorway.

"Hmmm," J.D. said as he turned around.

"I was looking over the instructions for Rebecca, from the hospital, and I found a loophole: It seems that they said that she don't necessarily have to be 'locked away' in a jail cell.  They just want her in protected custody."

"And what are you getting at?" J.D. asked.

"Please, elaborate, friend," Ezra added.

"What I'm sayin' is that she don't have to be in jail.  She only needs to be supervised by a 'guardian of the law'," Vin explained.

"Why do you want to do this?" J.D. asked with question.

"I know this kid.  She won't run away.  Besides, jail is no place for a young lady," Vin explained further.  "We could probably keep her under wraps at the hotel or the boarding house."

"Well, who's gonna watch her, huh?" J.D. added cynically.

"I believe that I could be that qualified individual," Ezra spoke up.  "I'll  tend to her."

"What?  You Ezra?" J.D. spat.

"I don't think Chris would want to do it," Ezra responded.  "Besides, I enjoy good camaraderie."

Rebecca's eyes brightened when she heard this news.   She stepped closer to the bars and nodded her agreement.

"Speaking of which, did you run this idea by Chris?" J.D. nervously asked.

"Not yet," Vin responded.  "I'll get to him later.  All right Ezra, you've got  custody.  Take good care of her, and no funny stuff."

"I do not believe that you are insinuating such behavior as indigenous to my character," Ezra said with an innocent look.  "Now my dear, shall we?"  He picked up her saddlebags and waited patiently as J.D. unlocked the outer door, then unlocked the inner cell door.  The girl stepped out of the cell and shook J.D.'s hand and smiled sweetly.  She then followed Ezra as he put  out an elbow for her to be escorted by.
 



 

The men took their usual spots at the saloon, as was their pass time.  Chris had seated himself at a table and nursed a bottle of whiskey, asusual.  Buck was flirting with the working girls by the counter, as usual.  Vin sauntered in and plopped himself in a chair next to Chris and served himself a shot of whiskey.  The two of them had become an inseparable duo.  Whenever there was the tracking of a criminal, they were the ones who went out and got their quarry, no matter what the circumstances.

Nathan was not present at this gathering, he was looking after some patients that took sick from a bad rabbit dinner at the restaurant.  Josiah was also skipping this meeting, as he was emersed in reparations at the town church.  Josiah was committed to bringing religion and hope to this little dust pile called Four Corners.  A few minutes after Vin arrived in the saloon, J.D. entered.  Chris looked up from his shot glass and saw the young man walk in.  J.D. walked over to his table and sat down.

"J.D., I thought you were watching the prisoner.  What did you do, let her out?" Chris said with a laugh.  When J.D. grimaced, Chris sobered up, "You didn't, did you?"

J.D. swallowed nervously, "Vin, why don't you explain..."
 


Ezra escorted Rebecca across the street and into the hotel lobby.  She squinted in the hot white light of the early noon sun.

The sun is blinding me, she thought to herself. I think I might melt if we don't hurry.

They glided into the cool, dimly lit lobby and waited for the clerk to finish with a customer.  When the man and woman in front of them left, Ezra stepped forward and leaned on the counter, "Sir, if you may.  I would like to rent another room for this fine young lady."

"Of course, Mr. Standish," said the clerk as he opened his guest log book.

"How long?"

"About four days, maybe less," Ezra responded coolly.

"Okay, I have one room and it happens to be across the hall from your rented room.  Is that satisfactory?" asked the clerk.

"More than that," Ezra said with a smile.  The clerk handed Ezra the key to the room, "Shall we, Miss?".

Rebecca followed Ezra once again as they walked up the stairway and into the corridor.  "Twelve A, Thirteen A, Fourteen A..." Ezra said under his breath as he walked past the closed doors.  "Ah, Seventeen A, your humble abode awaits.".  Rebecca picked up the keys from his open palm and opened the door.  The door opened with a slight moan that is characteristic of oil-needy hinges.  Inside, the room was more than a sight for sore eyes.

Rebecca entered the room with wide-eyed wonder.  A flood of memories came back to her.  The room reminded her of her old school days.  She had not set foot in such a nice room since she was sixteen and in boarding school.  Rebecca ran her hand along the bureau and was surprised to find it to be clean and dust free (a small wonder for a town like this).  She then proceeded to the queen-size bed that was by the rear of the room and sat down.  She pressed on the mattress with her hands, then finding it satisfactory, flopped down across its width.

Ezra put her bags down and traced her footsteps to the bed and sat down next to her.

"My, this place is almost better than my room," Ezra said with a laugh.  "Do you like it?".

Rebecca nodded her head in agreement and patted the area next to her.

"Okay," Ezra said as he flopped down beside her.  "Hey, this must be a new mattress.  Mine gave up long ago.".

They lay there for a few moments and looked at the ceiling.  After that, Ezra sat up at the edge of the bed, then got up to his feet and stretched, "If I lay here any longer, I might drowse off for the rest of the day. Come-on, wouldn't you like to get a drink or some early lunch?  I would be most honored if you joined me.".

She smiled then put both her hands up in the air.  "All right, if you insist," Ezra said grasping both hands in his.  With one good tug, he pulled her up out of bed, but he pulled so hard that she ended up in his arms.  She let out a breath of surprise, but then relaxed because his arms were so comfortable to be in.  He looked down at her face and eyes and was taken aback by their repeat brilliance.  Just as the situation could get any lovelier for Rebecca, Ezra pulled away, reached down and snatched a pick  wire from her boot.

"I noticed the extra swagger that you displayed while walking to the hotel," Ezra said as he held the instrument in front of her face, "I figured it wasn't because you were contented, but because you didnít want to get your ankle lacerated by this pick wire.".

Rebecca's eyes lowered from the gaze of his eyes, which seemed to burn a hole in her flesh.  "I guess you were expecting a jail break earlier than this morning." Ezra said quietly.

Rebecca began to sob quietly.  Ezra's stare was convicting and cold.  Before she could break down further, she ran to her bag, pulled out a notebook and began to write furiously on the blank pages.  Ezra stood by the window and looked out as he traced the curved end of the pick wire with his dexterous fingers.  It took her nearly twenty minutes of solid writing to finish her explanation.  She tore the papers out of her notebook and handed them to Ezra's waiting hand.  He read them quietly:
 

My Story: by Rebecca Williams

"Once upon a time, there lived a girl named Rebecca.  She was born into a wealthy family, but both of her parents died of scarlet fever when she was only four years old.  Although she was spared of such a fate, she lost her voice as a result of the disease.  She was taken to her aunt's home, which was located just outside of Atlanta, to live.  As it was believed to be in her best interest, her aunt enrolled her in a special school for handicapped children.  Here, Rebecca learned sign language and found friendship among children her age.  For eleven years, she spent her time learning from her books and friends.  She cooperated with the other children, but her best friend was a boy named John.  He was enrolled at the school free of charge because his father was a blacksmith and stable caretaker at the school.  Even though John's stuttering problem was severe, they always understood each other.  Both children were inseparable friends.  As explained by Vin earlier, they had many the wonderful adventures.  When Rebecca was about twelve years of age, her aunt took sick with a mysterious affliction that was not diagnosed by doctors.  She didn't die right away, but wasted away over a period of a year.  When she did pass on, she left Rebecca a large sum for an inheritance.  The money was to pay for tuition and other needs of a young girl.  All though this was a sad happening, her friend and his father, who became a surrogate father to her, supported Rebecca.

Four years later, financial tragedy hit her boarding school and tuition prices were raised to astronomical levels.  Parents were turned off by the raise and pulled their children out of the school.  Those who did not have legal guardians (other than the state), were to be sent off to the state run asylum.  Among these children were the most handicapped.  Parents left retarded children at this school because they were "unable" to care for them.  The asylum treated them the worst.  Rebecca found herself without a legal guardian and headed for the asylum, even though her handicap was small.  John and his father fought furiously to take custody of her, but lost to the state.  They were going out to California and wanted to start a new life there.  Unfortunately, their plans couldn't include Rebecca.

So off she went to the asylum without any further legal intervention.  When she stepped through the doors, they took away her books, mail privileges, money, fine clothes, and spirit.  They only allowed her a notebook and pen for the time she would spend there.  While in the asylum, she witnessed all the efforts of Dorthea Dix fly south and wondered where she was.  Dorthea fought for rights and fair treatment of handicapped and retarded children, and in several states, won those rights.  The asylum did a great job at treating everyone like animals; most of the time no better than dogs.  Rebecca resisted the urge to knock heads because of the ill treatment of herself and the others.  This is what she endured from day to day.

If things weren't miserable enough, she found a newspaper lying in the hallway infront of the head nurse's office.  It announced the tragedy of The Lady Grace, a steamboat that had blown up while on route to New Orleans. The boats had been racing and the steam engine finally gave out, killing three-quarters of its passengers and maiming the remaining percentage.  Among the list of the dead were the names of John and his father.  Rebecca was overtaken by grief and took on a different persona.  With these changes, the staff at the asylum changed her status to "insane" because of her mood swings and increasing hostility towards guards.  The anger that she felt simmered and churned as she completed her last novel.  When it was finally sent out after three weeks of trying, she decided it was time to break out.  Rebecca managed eleven breaks, but was caught and returned each time.  Every time they brought her back, they locked her in a dark room and cuffed her to her bed post; usually with brutal tightness.  They were even in the habit of starving her for those days that she was locked up in that hellhole.  She feared that they would leave her there to die from starvation or that her hands would fall off because of the tourniquet-tight handcuffs.  But she was never deterred from escaping because she wanted as many chances to do so as possible.

This time, Rebecca has managed to get hundreds of miles away from the asylum and taken her belongings with her.  One and a half years of that torture are enough to drive any one to become self-destructive.  She only wants a second chance to improve her quality of life before she implodes from this tragedy.  This town seems very nice to her.  Nice people, warm sunshine, and rolling plains.  Maybe she might stay a little while longer,  until the danger passes."

The End

Ezra stared at the writing with a blank expression.  He shuttered and stared in disbelief.  Was this her crime?  Ezra squinted his eyes to fight back some tears that began to get loose from the corners of his eyes.  She stood in front of him staring at the hand woven carpet underfoot.  Ezra lowered the pages from his eye level and caught sight of Rebecca starting to weep again.  He folded up the pages and put them into his jacket pocket before he stepped forward and held her as she cried bitter tears of anguish.

For a long time, Ezra held her fragile frame as it shook with grief.  When she had finished crying, he released her from his arms and she sat down on the edge of the bed.  Her eyes were swollen and thoroughly red; her eyes ran out of tears.  She blew her nose on his handkerchief, but didn't meet his eyes.

"I am truely sorry," Ezra said with deep compassion.  "I never knew what your conditions were.  I'm sorry that I upset you so deeply."  He stroked her arm.  "Maybe I should leave you alone for a little while; unless you need someone to stay with you.  Will you be all right, darlin'?" he asked again.

She nodded a yes and she touched the hand that was resting on her shoulder.  Ezra was reluctant about leaving her in such a condition, but she wanted to be alone.  He was going to come back in an hour or two to check in on her.  He slowly made his way to the door and outside into the hallway.

After closing the door, he put his hat back on top of his head and wiped his open palms over his eyes and face.  The story was too much for him; "Better get a drink," he thought as he headed out to the saloon.

When he arrived inside the crowded bar room, Ezra immediately swiped a bottle of whiskey off the counter and sat down with a shot glass with intent to forget what he just learned.  As he poured the amber liquid into the tiny shot glass, he felt a pang deep in his chest.  Somehow he didn't want to drink; something was telling him "no".  He corked the bottle and pushed the glass away.  J.D. spotted the forlorn gambler from across the  way.  He had a concerned look on his face as he sprinted across the floor.

"What happened?  Weren't you supposed to be watchin' Rebecca?" J.D. sputtered.  Before Ezra could open his mouth, Chris came into the saloon with a look of urgency on his hardened face.

"This just came in," Chris said as he held up a couple of handwritten pages.  "It's from the state asylum.  It says that Rebecca is more than just a runaway.  She stole a few hundred dollars from their safe, stole important files, and assaulted a guard of the asylum when she escaped.  Apparently,  this isn't her first time."

"Well, how many times has she done this before?" J.D. asked.

"Try twelve, including this one," Chris answered.

Vin, who was lying low in a back corner of the saloon, sauntered up to Chris.  Without a word, Chris handed the sheets over to the bounty hunter.  Vin read them over with a few quick glances.  Chris then looked down at Ezra and his eyes widened, "Ezra, what the hell are you doing here?  Aren't you supposed to  be watching her?  You heard what-"

"Yes, Mr. Larabee, I heard your comments quite clearly.  I am just giving  her some time alone." Ezra said as he stared at the papers in Vin's hands.

"I should have shot you when I had the chance," Chris spat.  "She's probably ten miles from here by now."

Vin and Chris hastily left the saloon, nearly knocking the swinging doors off of their hinges.  They both ran across the street to the hotel to see if she had gone already.  Chris ran up to the clerk at the front desk.  "Where is she?" he growled.

"Who?" the clerk said nervously.

"The girl!  Rebecca Williams.  She was with Ezra!" Chris shouted back.

"Room seventeen A," the clerk squeaked back.

"Let's go," Chris said as Vin followed.  Both men took the stairs three at a time as they made their way into the main hallway.  Chris ran ahead as Vin covered the back.  They soon came upon the room "seventeen A".  Vin pulled got a hold of his gun, then opened the door.  The knob slammed into the wall making a rather large dent in the plaster.  When they hurried in, they found Rebecca seated at the room's desk with pencil in hand.  She didn't look perturbed, but rather thoughtful.  Both men jumped in surprise.  She was still here?  Vin and Chris stared at each other in amazement.  Both men were unable to conjure up proper words for their mistake.

Vin finally spoke up, "Sorry, Rebecca, I guess we shouldn't have done this."  Chris walked over to the desk where she was seated and spoke, "I don't want you to pull any escape plans, 'cause I promise that they won't work out well."

She stared back at his blue eyes with defiance, the same look she had when they stared at each other back at her camp.  He turned and walked out the door without further words.  Vin looked at her, then turned and followed suit, and closed the door.  Rebecca looked back down at her notebook and shook her head.

These men aren't the least bit trusting, especially that man dressed in black, Rebecca thought.  I think he's just waiting to see me behind bars.

She sighed and pushed her pencil lead along the smooth white pages of her notebook.  When her creative output had uncomfortably cramped her hand, she put down her pencil and pushed her chair back.  The feet of the chair made a quiet scuff along the hardwood floor that seemed deafening in the silent room.

Although, that man had the saddest eyes that I have ever seen.  It's like he's lost something... know that feeling.  In fact, I thought I was looking in a mirror when we locked eyes.  Maybe Iíll ask...

Her thoughts were broken off by a knock at her door.  She lifted herself off of her chair and smoothed the lines of her dress before she reached the door.  Rebecca pushed some of the hair out of her face and placed those rogue strands behind her ears.  With a swift motion, she turned the knob and looked out into the hallway.  There, waiting in the hall was Ezra.  He had a weak smile on his face, but his eyes still held a friendly gaze.  "Miss Williams, it is getting to be late afternoon.  Do you have an envie for lunch?" Ezra asked with concern.  Rebecca looked at his watch chain and nodded.

My, he's always so fashionable Rebecca thought.  I've spent too much time in the South to know what his profession is.

She put her hand out and took his waiting arm.

What the hell, I'll go for it.

 They walked slowly down the dim hallway and into the hotel lobby.  The clerk eyed the couple with a weary expression.

I guess those two made quite the impression on this guy, smiled Rebecca.

They walked past the front desk and into the dining room.  To her surprise, she saw the moustached man that took her saddlebags, and two others that she hadnít met before.  As they approached the table where the men were seated, all three stood up and tipped their hats.

How thoughtful!  Chivalry didnt die on route to the West, she grinned at the men.

"Afternoon miss," the moustached man said as he reached out to kiss her hand.  "I'm mighty sorry we didn't get aquainted under better conditions.  My name's Buck Wilmington."  She nodded her head in recognition of his name.  "This here's Josiah Sanchez," Buck said pointing to a tall man who was wearing a tan duster.  He tipped his hat again, "Miss,"  "And this is our town's finest healer, Nathan Jackson," Buck said as he pointed to a rather handsome black man.  He also tipped his hat, "Miss.".  In the mean while, Ezra had pulled out her chair and waited for her to sit down.  When she sat down, he pushed the chair under her until she was sitting comfortably close to the table edge.  She mouthed the words "thank you" as he sat down on a chair next to her.   A waiter glided up to the table and plopped menus in the hands of all of the men.

"We didn't order any food just yet," Nathan said as he smiled. "We had a  feeling that we were going to be joined soon."

Rebecca looked at all of the choices of food on the menu.

Let's see, there's roast beef with mashed potatoes, meat loaf, pork chops with baked beans, ugh!  What does a lady have to do to get a decent salad around here?  I bet these ruffians don't even know what a vegetable looks like!  she growled in her head.

"I would highly recommend the fried chicken and baked potato.  It's about the only decent item on the menu," Ezra whispered in her ear.  She nodded in agreement.  The waiter returned and listened to the orders.

I"I'll have a double order of the roast beef," Buck said with a wide grin.

"I think I'll have the meat loaf," Nathan said handing back his menu.

"I'll have the roast beef as well," Josiah replied in a stern voice.

"The lady and I will be having your fried chicken dishes," Ezra said as he handed back both Rebecca and his menus.  The waiter collected the menus and scurried into the kitchen area.  For a while, all five occupants were silent.  Then, Rebecca pulled out her notebook and began writing some conversation on the pages.  After she finished her note, she passed the book to the three sitting across the table.  The note read:
 

"This is a lovely town.  It must be quite peaceful at times."

Buck started to laugh, "Miss Williams, you haven't been here long enough. There's been lots of disturbances since we've been here."  He went in to the escapades that they rode on.  Josiah and Nathan added to the story, but Buck was determined to entertain.

Gee, this is getting a little bit repetitive.  Don't they do anything other than ride out after lost children, shoot other people, and risk their lives when out numbered.

She watched the mustached man as he went on about how close J.D. was to being killed the first time they all assembled to help a Seminal village.

They've got guts, I'll give them that; they seem to enjoy helping people who are victimized.  Perhaps they'll keep me safe from the asylum.

He started in on a story about an Indian that supposedly "kidnapped" a preacher's daughter when the food arrived hot from the kitchen.  To be friendly, Rebecca picked up her glass from the table and held it out to toast. "Cheers." the men said in unison.  She smiled and put her napkin in her lap, smoothing it out over her skirt.  She then took a bite out of the fried chicken from her plate and was astonished at the wonderful flavor that it possessed.

Ezra wasn't kidding when he said the chicken was good.  Mmmmmmm!  This is the best food I've had in months, and months, she thought.  She happily ate her entire dinner, leaving nothing else edible except the bones.  She gingerly polished off the baked potato, then picked  up the napkin from her lap and neatly wiped her lips with the edge.

"Well, well, I guess we were hungrier than I had originally devined?" Ezra said with a laugh.  Rebecca smiled and tried to supress a hiccup that was forming in the back of her throat.  The waiter came again shortly after they were finished with dinner and swooped down on their dishes like an eagle, collecting them to be washed in the back kitchen.  They ordered coffee afterwards and Buck (unfortunately) continued with his story about that girl and Indian incident.  She nodded at all the major points of the story while she was screaming out loud in her head.  Just as he was about to move on to another story about a wagon full of working girls, Josiah interjected, "Uh, Buck, I think the little lady has heard enough about this town to fill the Grand Canyon.".

Now that's divine intervention!  Amen to that!

"So, Rebecca, where are you from?" Nathan asked then sipped his coffee.

"From New Orleans, but raised outside of Atlanta," Ezra answered for her.

"Ezra, let the Miss Williams speak for herself," Buck said.  Everyone stared at the mustached man in awe at his tasteless comment.  When he saw the stares, he immediately appologized, "I'm real sorry for that comment.  You can hardly trust any thing that comes out of my mouth these days.  Heh, heh, heh," he laughed nervously.

Oh, Mr. Wilmington, you've shot your mouth off this time, but I think you're a very nice person.  Now, if I could only tell him that in person....

"Perhaps we can converse if we inquired only questions in "yes" or "no" format.  Snap twice for "yes" and once for "no'".  Can you handle that?" Ezra asked.  Rebecca looked at him with a look of escaped amusement then clapped her hands twice.  "Well, I didn't mean to offend-" Ezra started in apology.  She waved a wrist at him to show him that it was no big deal. This should be an amusing show as they dance around the subject of the asylum.

"So, Rebecca," Josiah started off, "You're about eighteen?"  She clapped twice for confirmation.  "Do you have any plans for higher education?".

She thought for a minute and clapped once, then added another clap and shrugged her shoulders.  Josiah let out a sigh and took another sip of his coffee.  The conversation was starting to get pretty awkward.
 

Tongue-tied, I see.  Can't think of anything to say to me that wouldn't "hurt" my feelings?  Maybe I should excuse myself and take a walk around town so they don't feel so bad.

She picked up the napkin from her lap and set it down on the table.  As she moved to stand, Ezra pulled the chair out to help her.  She nodded a thank you to him, then proceeded to open her purse.  She pulled out a two-dollar bill and put it on the table.

"Oh, no, miss," said Buck as he picked up the bill from across the table.  "Weíll pick up the tab.".  He got up and put the money into her fist and smiled sweetly.  Rebecca couldn't contain her blush as her face lit up like a candle.  He nodded and wished her a good afternoon.  The others wished the same for her.   She was delirious with embarrassment because her face had turned the color of a ripe apple.  When she turned to walk out of the restaurant, she bumped into Ezra's chest with a thud and almost fell back on the floor with the recoil.  He steadied her by her arm and smiled.

"Forgetting something," he said as he held out his arm for an escort.  She sheepishly took his arm and waved nervously at the three men still finishing their coffee at the table.  They tipped their hats in recognition,  and Ezra helped her out the door.
 



 

Rebecca and Ezra walked out of the dim resteraunt and into the fading afternoon sun.  They walked quietly together, arm in arm, without uttering a single sylabul to each other.  When they passed in front of the general store, she suddenly stopped Ezra from walking.  She stepped closer to some of the vegetable bins.  With nimble hands, she picked out a bunch of carrots and with the other free hand retreived two bits.  She handed the money to the store clerk who was outside sweeping the board walk.  He thanked her and she bowed her head in recognition.  She then rejoined Ezra  with one arm around his and another full of carrots.

"Hungry, are we?" he said with a laugh.  She smiled and shook her head.  Rebecca steered him to the town livery.

"Oh, your horse," Ezra said with a gentle murmur.

The inside of the stable smelled of alfalfa hay and manure, both of which caused both become slightly light headed.  Those effects quickly receded as time passed by.  Rebecca walked along the row of stalls until she recognized her horse, Truth.  Truth let out a whinny of happiness.  Rebecca rushed up to the stall and threw her arm around Truth's neck.  The horse snorted a reply and pawed the ground.  Rebecca produced a carrot from the bunch in her other hand and placed it before Truth's mouth.  The horse happily crunched on the carrot until, in a matter of a few seconds, it was gone.  Truth whinnied again and Rebecca produced another carrot from the bunch.  The horse again hungrily munched the carrot down.  After three consecutive carrots, Rebecca pushed Truth's muzzle away gently and showed the horse her empty palm, which was her sign for "no more food".  Truth calmed down and allowed Rebecca to pet her head.

Ezra leaned up against a support column a few stalls away and watched the whole scene.  He smiled at her and wondered at her kind spirit.  She caressed the horse's head and the horse snorted in reply.

"She must really like carrots, but I think she likes you better," he said with a laugh.  "Mighty fine horse, if I might say so myself."

Rebecca nodded in agreement.  She loved her horse and she knew it loved her back. He walked up and stood beside her.  Ezra extended a hand out to the horse's  muzzle and then proceded to pet Truth's head.  It snorted in appreciation.

"Of what breed is she?" Ezra asked.  Rebecca shrugged her shoulders and absent-mindedly started signing a response.  She stopped herself and dropped her hands at her sides.  Ezra knew it must have been hard to communicate while in the asylum.  At that moment, he wished that his plethora of skills included this silent language.  His guilt trip was interrupted by the sound of the stall door opening.

Rebecca knelt beside her horse and inspected her horse's bandaged leg.  She partially unwrapped the bandage, winced, and reached into her purse to retrieve a clean, white bandage.  She unwrapped the old bandage and carefully inspected the wound.  Ezra took out his silver flask from his jacket pocket.  Rebecca  spotted the flask and plucked it from his hand.

"I had no idea that you had preference for rot-gut," Ezra said as a smile played upon his face.  She ignored this comment, and she unscrewed the top.  She stood facing in the same direction as the horse's head, and she poured the entire content of the flask over the wound.  The horse began to frantically raise and drop it's head.  Ezra, afraid for the welfare of the young lady, grabbed the horse's harness in order to steady it.  Truth ground her big teeth and whinnied in agony.  Rebecca grabbed the clean drinking bucket from beside her horse and poured some water over the wound.  Truth began to quiet down.  Rebecca fetched a small tube of ointment from her purse and began to apply the medicine to the horse's leg.  She then wrapped the clean bandage around the wound. When all was finished, Rebecca stood up and wearliy patted Truth's neck.  She stepped outside of  the stall and let out a sigh.

"What happened to your horse?" Ezra said with concern.  She started to sign again, but she remembered that he would have no clue as to what she was trying to say.  She felt her pockets for a notebook and pencil, but to no avail.  She looked at Ezra.

"I didn't take one of your notebooks.  You must have left it at the resteraunt," he murmerd.  She shook her head and slid to the ground.  She placed her head in her hands and began to cry.  Ezra tried to comprehend her actions, but he was at a complete loss.  He slowly sat down beside her.  Even though he was squeamish about sitting on a dirt floor, Ezra made the extra effort to look comfortable.  He took her hand in his, but Rebecca pushed him away.  He tried once again, and she did the same, again.  Finally, she turned towards him and threw her arms around his neck and cried on his shoulder.  He didn't know what to say.  Neither did  she....
 

Part 2

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