A poker game hadn’t drawn this much attention since Ezra had had such a bad losing streak he’d played a gentleman in the nude.
The gambler’s opponent today was a man with long blond curls – whom Ezra had introduced as “my old friend Roger” – and who was clearly not local.
They had agreed to not cheat, and had started to play. This was the fifth game. Ezra had won two, and Roger had won two. Clearly, Roger was as skilled as Ezra at cards.
It was poetry in motion to watch.
As they’d played, old nicknames had emerged in conversation – proving they really did know each other well.
“Deal from the top of the deck, London,” Ezra had teased as this hand began.
“Why, Atlanta, I’m hurt,” Roger had shot back, one hand pressing to his chest over the bolo tie with the silver tips. “I don’t bottom-deal, and you know it!” A beat later, he smiled a dimpled, toothy grin. “I prefer to use sleeve rigs.” And both men laughed.
Their hand was interrupted by screams and a commotion in the street. Without a word, Ezra dropped his cards and bolted out of the saloon.
Roger followed, his eyes widening as he saw Ezra take a protector’s position against a gang of ruffians on horseback. Six men stood with him.
Roger recognised Chris Larabee, and his jaw unhinged. He’d heard of the Four Corners Seven – lawmen of extraordinary skill because they were all so different.
He was shocked to see Ezra standing among them! Shocked, but incredibly proud.
But the Seven were outnumbered. Roger’s sky-blue eyes narrowed as his fingers undid the clasp the held the bolo tie on.
Time to even the odds.
Moments later, the gun battle was underway. Ezra looked in horror as Roger walked calmly off the boardwalk. “London!” he bellowed “Get under cover!”
Roger slid the bolo tie off and wrapped his hand around one end of it. He snapped the other hand out, and the bolo extended with a hiss of leather. He stepped forward again, his wrist beginning to move, setting the bolo into a circular motion. Slow at first, but going faster and faster until the leather hummed as it moved at his side.
Ezra frowned. “What the hell…” he whispered.
Then Roger threw his arm up and forward.
The bolo shot out like a striking snake – and bit like one. The weighted end smashed into an aiming gun hand, breaking it instantly.
A movement of the arm that held the other end, and the bolo sailed gracefully back into Roger’s outstretched free hand. He wound up and struck again, disarming a second man.
Ezra pulled his jaw up off the ground and lay down cover fire for his old friend.
Across the street, the Seven's youngest member's large brown eyes grew even larger. "Bloody hell...." he whispered in an unfamiliar accent, a dimpled grin beginning to spread. "It don’t just look like him… it's him..."
The lawmen were victorious. Ezra walked over to where Roger was coiling the leather strap into a tight spiral. “….London….” he breathed, his eyes huge.
“Don’t ask, Atlanta,” Roger said softly. “It’s a skill…. From a lifetime ago. I’ve kept my hand in – and I’m glad I did.”
“Who taught you—“
“Taught myself.” And his eyes unfocused as he thought of a time decades in the future and the three men of life and laughter who were still out there somewhere. They’d find one another again, separated by the force that had blown them into the past – and he had no doubts that they’d find each other again.
Perhaps that was why they no longer aged.
Roger pulled himself out of his reverie and smiled at Ezra. “I’m sorry, I missed what you said.”
“I asked if you could teach me.”
He laughed. “I might be able to.”
“He can,” JD walked up, a grin on his face. “He can teach anybody.”
Roger whirled. He frowned. “Have we met?”
The grin grew and JD tilted his face upward, removing the hat and showing all of his face and hair… and widening his large brown eyes. “Been awhile, Blondie,” he said, cleaning the Boston out of his voice and showing his real accent.
“Omig-d! Keith!” Roger laughed, lunging and hugging him very tight.
Ezra blinked, rubbing his mouth and chin. “Okay, someone please explain what is going on here?”
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