The Magnificent Seven 06
In the background, some men are preparing a gallows. Judge Travis exits a building heading for the jailhouse. Following him is a small man called Jock Steele who writes dimestore novels. The man is very exciting about seeing what he has only written about until now. He asked the Judge what it's like.
Judge: Short rope, long drop.
Steele is even more excited and asks the Judge about the man about to be executed, learning that John Blackfox is a part Indian, drifter and horse thief who got caught one too many times. On arrival at the jail, JD is watching over the prisoner and the Judge asks Blackfox why he wants to speak to him.
Blackfox: I got information. I give it to you, you call off the hanging. I'll sit in a cell but I don't want to be at the end of no rope.
He tells the Judge that he was a witness to a murder that took place out near Eagle Bend around three years ago.
Blackfox: It was two murders, Judge. A woman and a boy.
Judge: How'd they die?
Blackfox: They burned... in a fire. Their name was Larabee.
Chris Larabee storms across the street to the jailhouse. He is wearing a dark blue shirt and black pants, but no hat or gun. He gives JD a look that tells the younger man to make himself scarce. JD takes the hint and leaves. Chris opens the cell and goes in. Blackfox is sitting on the bunk, leaning up against the wall. He approaches Blackfox, asking him if he was a witness to the Larabee killings. Blackfox stands up.
Blackfox: Yeah. Who are you?
Chris: Chris... (throws a punch to the man's face) Chris Larabee.
Blackfox has his hands tied behind his back, he is sopping wet and being held by Chris by the water trough across from the jailhouse. Chris tells him that the woman was his wife, Sarah, and the boy, his son, Adam but Blackfox insists that he didn't kill them, and cannot tell Chris the name of the men who did. Chris ducks Blackfox into the water again, holding him down for a while and then pulling him back up.
Blackfox relates his part in the Larabee murders, that he was hired for $50along with two other cowboys to scare some folks off their land. He says he looked after the horses, and when he saw the flames he got scared and took off. Chris calls him a liar and dunks him again much to the shock of people milling about watching.
Chris: Everybody around here knew about that fire you're telling me nothing but jailhouse lies to save your miserable skin. You're going back to jail!
As Chris marches him back to the jail, Blackfox describes the ranch, where the windmill and corral were situated and remarks that the corral was empty, and a shadow of doubt reaches Chris's eyes that Blackfox might actually be telling the truth rather than just lying to save his neck.
Nathan and Josiah are already saddled up with Blackfox between them, waiting for Chris. Jock Steele is asking them questions about themselves and Chris Larabee. We learn that Chris asked Nathan and Josiah to go with him as backup, and then Steele asks more about them.
Nathan: Josiah's been fixing up that church here in town.
Steele: Well, I've never seen a man of the cloth carrying a gun before.
Nathan: Josiah can get very Old Testament on occasion.
When Chris comes out, Steele introduces himself, saying that he will make Chris famous by chronicling his search for justice calling it, Larabee's Bloody Revenge. Chris tells him he is not coming with them and when Steele complains that he'll miss the story, Chris remarks, "Won't stop you from writing it".
As they ride along, Chris starts to question Blackfox about the men he rode with that night but Blackfox said he'd never met any of them before nor seen any of them since. Chris starts fishing for some kind of description and Blackfox recalls that one of the men had a single spur that he claimed was made of silver and said it was his good luck charm.
Chris questions him about the man who hired him. Blackfox only recalls that the man was odd looking but he remembers the horse the man rode.
Blackfox: 16 hands high. One of the cowboys said it looked a lot like Robert E. Lee's horse, whatever the hell that means.
Chris: Big gray.
Nathan calls their attention to a rider coming up fast and then says it is Buck. Buck draws up alongside Chris who tells Buck that there is no reason for him to come along with them.
Buck: Yes, sir, there is. I'm the man that talked you into staying down in Mexico that night... and I keep thinking if we'd have just rode back...
Chris: I could have come back alone. You didn't keep me there. Let it go.
Buck: Sarah was my friend, too, Chris and I think you know how I felt about that boy of yours. So, if it's all the same I think I'll ride this one out with you.
Later that night they make camp and Blackfox asks for the cuffs to be removed. Chris relents, promising to hang Blackfox himself if he tries to run. A gunshot rings out and the four draw their guns and shoot back. Chris and Buck go off to see if they hit anything, leaving Josiah and Nathan to watch Blackfox. Josiah puts down his gun and picks up his rifle. When Blackfox goes for the gun, Nathan throws a knife that lands scant inches from Blackfox's hand.
Josiah: Now, that there's divine intervention. Me, I was going to shoot your hand off.
Chris spots Jock Steele in the undergrowth and sneaks up behind him, yelling 'BOO'. Steele is looking all scared and is grateful to see Chris. Buck arrives and asks who this is, to which Chris replies, 'Nobody' and walks off. Steele is all flustered when Buck asks if he can shoot him, and then he shushes Steele, saying he heard something. When Steele looks back round, Buck has disappeared leaving him all alone and lost once more.
They are at the old Larabee ranch but there is hardly anything left standing, just the burned out remains of the house. Chris stands looking into the small, fenced off area holding two graves. Memories from that the last day he saw them alive come back to haunt him as he hears Adam's laughter. He recalls Adam begging Buck to let him have a ride, recalls the food parcel Sarah hands to him, and the kiss he gave her before lifting Adam down from Buck's horse.
Chris: Hey, buddy. Big smile, huh? Come here, you. Buck give you a good ride there? Did he? Listen... I'm going away For a little bit. Take care of your mommy, okay? You promise?
His little boy's last words seemed to drift on the breeze, "Goodbye, papa."
Chris pushes away from the fence and stalks Blackfox, grabbing him and ordering him to tell him everything that happened that night. A shout from Nathan calls at his attention, and he follows them down to the river running alongside the property to where the heavy flooding of recent years has uncovered a body of a cowboy -- wearing a single silver spur. There is another body too, and Josiah believes that these are the two men hired alongside Blackfox that night.
Back at the burned house, Nathan describes how the men were killed, shot in the back of the head, execution style. He then remarks that he believes the killer was left-handed because of the angle and positioning of the wound. He proves this by asking Chris (who is right-handed) to put a gun to the back of his neck and Chris tells him it is positioned slightly right of centre. He tells Chris that Josiah (who is left-handed) had placed the barrel slightly left of centre, precisely where men were shot, but says it is still just a guess.
Chris decides it is enough to take with them to the saloon in Eagle Bend where the killer hired Blackfox and the others.
They enter the Sandpiper saloon and Chris goes up to the barkeep saying he is looking for answers. The bartender replies that he serves whiskey, not talk and tells him to go elsewhere. When Chris carries on regardless, the bartender gets angry but Chris pulls him over the bar. Josiah deals with another man who runs forward to the bartender's assistance by sticking out his leg and tripping the man up.
Chris: Describe him.
Bartender: He's about your size, um, smokes thin, little cheroots had them special gloves.
Chris: Special? How?
Bartender: Well, one was kind of different. I figured 'cause his hand was crippled or withered or something.
Chris also learns that the man he is after is fastidious about cleanliness, but the bartender doesn't know the man's name. Chris tells him they will be staying in the boarding house next door, and that he wants to know if the man shows up. He walks out, leaving Josiah behind who is convinced he'll get better service at the saloon now.
Chris escorts Blackfox over to the jail letting the sheriff know that he has Judge Travis's permission to lock him up there. As he turns to leave, Blackfox tells him that he had no idea what was hapenning that night, only learning about the deaths of Larabee's wife and boy the next morning.
Later, a voice is heard drifting through the cell bars from outside of the jailhouse. Blackfox recognises the voice and insists that Larabee knows nothing. The man is not convinced and makes a veiled threat against Blackfox. It is obvious now that Blackfox had known the person who hired him all along.
In the meanwhile, Chris has returned to his boarding room. He hangs up his hat and drops his saddlebags onto the bed, and then he sees a pool of blood spreading out from beneath the closet door. He opens it to find the bartender hanging inside.
Outside in the street, the body is being carried away and the Sheriff approaches Chris saying that he heard Chris had a dust-up with the bartender over at the saloon earlier. Buck gives a sarcastic response to the thin accusation that Chris might be the murderer and the sheriff grudgingly acknowledges this.
Sheriff: I'm not suggesting that but trouble seems to follow you around like a bad cold. Avoid it for the rest of your stay.
Josiah returns letting Chris know that he has sent word to the others, and then he walks off. When Buck asks Chris where he is going, it is Josiah who answers for him by saying, "Saloon".
They follow Chris inside, not noticing the man with the withered hand, smoking a cheroot, who is watching from the shadows.
Chris is uptight, hating the fact they are sitting around eating breakfast when the killer was close enough to kill a man in Chris's hotel room. Whe Josiah remarks that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Chris slams his fist on the table.
Chris: Think this a joke, preacher man?
They all try to calm Chris down and Buck remarks that their search party is about to get bigger. At that moment, Jock Steele arrives and comes straight up to the table. Chris shoves back his chair in disgust, grabs the bottle of whiskey and goes to the window, drinking from the bottle.
Josiah tells them that he's going to the dry grocery store in case the man had his gloves custom-made, and Nathan states that he's going to check out the livery in case there's a big, gray there. Although Chris is leading as they step out of the saloon, a man entering steps into his path and he is forced to stop. He gives the man an angry glare, but then there is a gunshot, and splinters of wood fly close to Chris's face. He draws and starts to shoot, jumping the railing to seek better cover. It seems that all the bullets are flying towards him but the firing stops as a covered wagon, pulled by a pair of mules, rolls down the main street between the opposing groups. It appears driverless.
Josiah: What in heaven's name is that?
At that moment, the covered top is shoved aside to reveal JD, Ezra and Vin. JD shoots one man in the stomach, Vin gets the gunman on the roof and the rest run off.
Chris: Now that's what I call good timing.
Vin yells at JD and Ezra to get down as he loads his rifle. He aims and shoots, hitting one of the retreating men in the back of his left shoulder as they flee on horseback.
Vin: Let's get after them.
All seven, with Blackfox, ride off. They follow the trail across the Mexican border and stop overlooking a small town.
Vin: Figured your tracks would lead here, back under the rock they crawled out from. Welcome to Purgatory, Boys. Real hellhole.
As they ride into town Buck reminds them that they need to take one of the men alive and Vin tells them that one man was riding a paint (brown and white horse). At that moment, Jock Steele rides up and joins them. Buck is exasperated, having hoped they'd lost him again. Vin looks around, sees Steele and shakes his head whereas Ezra engages Steele in a conversation, tying to se an angle for making money out of Steele.
Chris drags Blackfox from his horse and tells Buck to meet them in the cantina in one hour. Buck indicates for Nathan to keep an eye on Chris. Vin watches them leave and then surveys the town.
Chris spots a horse that looks like the one Vin described. He grabs hold of a man and demands to know who was riding that horse, pulling a gun on the man. Nathan defuses the situation by rushing in and telling Chris that it is not the horse they are after. The one they are seeking would be all hot from a hard ride but this one was fresh. He grabs Chris's gun-hand and forces the barrel up until it is pointing directly at Nathan.
Chris looks shocked, momentarily. He uncocks the gun, glares at Nathan and then walks out.
Buck, JD and Vin come across a coffin. Buck looks a little uncomfortable, most likely thinking about his last time in Purgatory when Chris pretended to kill him in order to save his life (Safecracker). Vin tells JD to go take a look and see if the man has a hole in his left shoulder but JD is reluctant. Buck urges him on with a small shove.
JD: The one on the paint pony? You are one hell of a shot, Vin.
The sound of a gunshot brings them running to the cantina where Vin remarks that he thought someone might have killed the "little fellow" -- referring to Jock Steele -- but Ezra assures them that it is quite the contrary. Steele swaggers over, all excited.
Steele: Dan Barnes. AHA!! THE Dan Barnes.
Vin: Bloody Hand Barnes.
Chris walks into the cantina and goes straight to the bar, and Blackfox follows, leaning onto the bar next to him. Chris glares at the man and Nathan shoves Blackfox aside. JD, Ezra and Josiah sit round a table and Vin stands behind Josiah with his back to the wall, keeping a low profile.
Buck joins Chris and reveals that they found one of the men dead.
Chris: Each time we get close to someone they end up in a pine box.
Steele starts showing off the picture he'd taken that had finally finished developing. Ezra passes it toJosiah who remarks, "Nice lighting". Vin is watching over Josiah's shoulder. He reaches forward and snatches the photo, staring at it hard. He goes over to Chris with Steele following on behind, and points out a figure in the corner, saying he noticed the glove and cheroot. Chris demands to know where this was taken, and Steele responds that it was taken right there in the cantina about an hour earlier. Chris shoves Steele aside and Nathan forces Blackfox over. He points to the man in the photo.
Chris: Okay. That him?
Blackfox: Yeah. That's the man who killed your family.
Chris walks around until he has worked out where the photo was taken and goes up to one of the man who was also in the photo. He shows the man the photo, pointing to the shadowy figure. The man ignores Chris so Buck slides up behind and puts a gun to the man's back. Finally, Chris has a name to go with the face: Cletus Fowler.
Buck: That name mean anything to you?
Chris: Never heard of him.
Chris looks confused, and it is obvious that he had expected to recognise the killer's name from his past.
Back in Eagle Bend:
They have been searching for Fowler for two days without finding a trace of him. Chris rides back in and asks if they have anything. Steele asks him what they plan to do now but Chris dismounts and says he needs a drink and goes into the saloon. Steele is annoyed, stating that everything is going to grind to a halt if Larabee starts wallowing around inside of a bottle. Josiah berates Steele for his words.
Chris is sitting at a table when Vin enters. He tells Chris that the sheriff has offered extra men to help in the search and is about to leave when Chris asks him why he thinks Fowler might be. Vin sits down opposite Chris and says he doesn't know though he believes he is long gone as he had to know he had seven men hunting him down.
Chris tells him a story from his ranching days, when a mountain lion kept coming down at night and killing his stock. He went after the mountain lion, tracking him for days, and on the fifth day he awoke to find his pack horse dead. The cougar had got him during the night.
Chris: I was tracking that cat, all the while he was behind me. Watching me. That's how I feel about Fowler.
Vin: Fine line between hunter and hunted.
When Vin stands, saying that gave them even more reason to find Fowler first, Chris offers Vin a drink. Vin gives Chris an askance look but sits back down.
A little while later, Vin is mounting up. He tells everyone to meet back here in three days, ignoring Steele's remark that he cannot believe Chris was not coming with them.
That night, Chris is alone in the saloon, and apparently drunk. He starts shouting out to Fowler to show himself. He falls back against the bar, raises his gun and starts shooting at -- but missing -- the lights. Chris tosses the gun aside then falls over a chair and lands heavily on the floor.
Four men enter the saloon, and one of them is Fowler. He has a gun trained on Chris. He kicks aside the chair and then the gun lying close by, and then orders Chris to get up. Chris demands to know why he killed his wife and child and Fowler admits that he was paid to go after Chris, and that they were just unlucky. He reveals that he is a professional who guarantees the anonymity of his clients. He accuses Chris of having ran off, but Chris counters saying that he has been searching for him for three years.
When Chris asks about Blackfox, Fowler tells him that he had to eviscerate Blackfox in his cell.
Chris slowly manoeuvres until he can reach beneath a table to where a gun has been secretly hidden, and as Fowler turns away, he grabs the gun and aims at Fowler. JD appears on the balcony overlooking the saloon, Ezra from behind a pillar and Buck from another high spot. Chris shoots and hits Fowler. Vin appears from behind JD and there is a gunfight.
Chris sees Fowler attempting to escape and follows him to the livery, grabbing him from his horse. It's an uneven fight as Fowler is injured, but then he knocks a lamp to the ground and starts a fire. Chris drags Fowler out of the burning livery, demanding to know who hired him. Fowler seems on the verge of telling Chris the name.
Fowler: His name was... No... on second thoughts... Go to hell.
Chris screams "No" as Fowler turns and walks into the burning livery.
Josiah is in the pulpit of the church reading from the dimestore novel.
And so it ended in that the cruel, ironic hand of death encircled the killer in flames as it had done to Chris Larabee's wife and child so many years before. Yet, was it the end or would Chris Larabee ride again with the hard complex men he'd come to know. Gunmen like Buck Wilmington and Vin Tanner, the bounty hunter with a price on his own head; the gambler Ezra or the greenhorn, JD. Nathan, both healer and destroyer, and Josiah placing his faith only in God and his guns.
He places the novel down to reveal the title: Beadle Pocket Library -- The Magnificent Seven by Jock Steele.
End of Episode 06: Nemesis