Scent of A Man
Author: The Muse77
Disclaimer: **sigh** You know the drill… some other time, some other place etc…..
It was early Sunday morning. Buck and Vin had spent the weekend at Chris’ ranch riding and just generally having a break from the rigours of work. Chris and Vin were busy cleaning up the stables when Buck came in with some coffee and what smelt like chilli. Handing the cups to the other men, he presented the watery stew to them.
"Oh Chris, I heated up some of that chilli in the fridge." Buck said spooning himself another mouthful.
"What chilli?" asked Larabee.
"The one on the bottom shelf. I’ll tell y’ Chris it wasn’t too bad, a bit crunchy but…."
"Buck! That’s been there for a week!"
Wilmington stared open mouthed at Chris and Vin.
"Ahhhh… I don’t feel so good." He moaned clutching his stomach.
"Well if your weren’t a such a damn garbage disposal unit, this wouldn’t have happened." Smirked Tanner.
Buck spent the rest of the day complaining about his stomach and moaning about the fact that the chilli had been there in the first place. Vin and Chris ignored him the best they could, but were looking forward to getting back to work in the morning away from the complaining man.
Monday morning saw Chris and Vin arrive at the office. They had dropped Buck off at his apartment to ‘freshen up’ before arriving at work. There had been an ominous odour emanating from the man, nothing a good bath and change of clothes couldn’t fix; or could it? Josiah and Nathan arrived a short time later followed by Ezra. Then the youngest of the group opened the door to the office and entered.
"Buck not here yet?" he asked walking to his desk.
"Nope." Replied Jackson without looking.
"That’s strange, he’s usually here before now." Continued Dunne removing his jacket.
Tanner was about to explain the happenings of the weekend when the door opened and the lady’s man entered.
"Sorry I’m late." He announced breathlessly. "I had a little…… ah ……. ‘problem’ ………. with the car.
"You O.K. now?" asked Chris, but before Buck could answer the black clad man, Dunne interrupted.
"Ewww…. I smell…. Chilli." Exclaimed J.D.
"Old chilli." Added Nathan sniffing the air.
"BUCK!" said Tanner and Larabee in unison.
"I can’t help it. It won’t stop." Wilmington said sadly. "It has a mind of it’s own. I had to stop twice on the way in here… to air the car out."
"I’ve found dead animals that smell fresher than that!" exclaimed the sharpshooter.
"Nathan, can’t he take something to stop it?" asked Chris.
"Well… we could get something for him but, I think the best thing for it is to work its way out naturally." Said Nathan.
"Can’t we beat it out of him?" asked Vin.
"No you can’t!" cried Buck, then turning to the man in black asked, "Right Chris??……. Chris??"
There was a long silence before Larabee sighed and said quietly "I suppose not."
"You know," began Josiah. "Patience is a virtue."
"And, overly active bodily functions are NOT!" finished Ezra.
"We’re just gonna have to make the best of it." Said the man in black. "We’ve got to go to that bust at the Floridian warehouse shortly."
"Shit… forgot about that. It’s too damn hard to think when you can’t breathe properly." Dunne glared at Wilmington.
"Alright, let’s go." Stated Larabee. "Vin, Ezra, Nathan, Josiah, J.D., you’re in the Ram with me…. Buck…. uh…. you can take the van."
"You trying to tell me something pard?"
"YOU STINK!!" The six agents said together.
A short time later found all the agents gathered outside the warehouse. The blond leader arranged for himself, J.D. and Nathan to take up positions surrounding the building. He then told the others to take up their positions above the floor of the building.
"Aw hell pard, why do we have to take Buck with us?" moaned Tanner.
"Cause I said." Was the flat reply.
"This is one of the very few times I’m happy I am in charge." Announced Larabee. "Now… get your asses up there."
"Arrrgghhhh" Standish groaned shaking his head. "A very poor choice of words Mr. Larabee."
They headed for the stairs as directed, crouching down low until they reached the metal staircase leading to their designated hiding place. With each step forward there was a sound….a very strange sound.
Every time the agents took a pace upwards there was a distinct ‘thrriiiipppppttt.’ Another step, another ‘thrriiiipppppttt’
"If that’s you Wilmington…" hissed Standish.
"What?" asked Buck innocently.
"Shit!" exclaimed Vin, who had been walking behind the big man. "It is you! Get out of my way… I’m walking ahead of you…. You’re wafting!"
"I’m not wafting!"
"Yep… you’re definitely wafting." Added Sanchez.
There were two further flights of stairs for the agents to negotiate before they were in position. Josiah also quickly pushed past the big man so as not to be in the firing line. Each further step brought with it another ‘thrrriiiiipppppttt’. Each ‘thrrriiiipppppttt’ brought with it a groan and an expletive from the other agents.
"Hey," announced Wilmington proudly. "I think that I can make out a tune."
"I swear…." Growled Vin lunging at Buck.
Josiah quickly jumped in between the two men. "We’re here…. let’s get into position."
The four agents positioned themselves in the rafters above the warehouse floor. It was a small cramped area; each man relatively close to the other. Suddenly, there was another ‘THRRRIIIIPPPPPTTT’ ; this one louder than any of the others.
The sharpshooter leant into Wilmington and hissed "I swear Buck, you fart again and I…WILL…SHOOT….YOU!"
"Just shoot him Vin," agreed Josiah screwing up his nose. "If another one like that gets out we’ll all die anyway."
"You can’t shoot him." Whispered Ezra holding his red handkerchief to his nose. "They’ll hear the gun."
"No they won’t." replied Tanner quietly reaching into his pocket, "I’ve got a silencer here. I’ll just pop it on and…."
They were interrupted by a voice in their ear pieces.
"Vin, they’re coming your way." Crackled the voice of their leader. "Pick your targets and tell us when you’re ready."
"Everyone ready?" asked the Texan.
"Yep." Answered Josiah.
"Ready." Announced Ezra.
‘‘thrrriiiipppppttt’ was Buck’s only reply.
The agents quieted. All that could be heard was the breathing …….. in and out; the pulling back of the triggers and a muffled ‘thrrriiipppppttt’
"Josiah" whispered Vin, not taking his eye away from the sight on his rifle. "Stick your can a mace up his…..."
Suddenly the Baker gang appeared on the warehouse floor below them. The voice of Chris Larabee could be heard through the loud speakers. "Throw down your weapons. No-one has to get hurt."
The Sharpshooter fired off a round that landed at the feet of the leader Bob Baker.
"Go to Hell!" he screamed back and took off running toward the doors.
Vin let off a round which took down one of the men, Ezra took down another, but two of the men had been able to avoid the same fate.
"Shit." Yelled Tanner. "Let’s git after ‘em."
Ezra, Josiah and Vin took off toward the stairs and raced down toward the exits. Behind them Buck took off a little more tentatively. The unmistakable ‘thrrriiipppppttt’, ‘thrrriiiipppppttt’ and hiss of gas could be heard as the lady’s man struggled to keep up with the others.
"Oh good Lord!" cried Standish, "I think he’s playing the ‘Star Spangled Banner!"
"See," gasped Wilmington "I ……. can ….. play …… a ……. tune."
"We’ll be sure to put that on your epitaph ." Huffed Josiah as they continued to chase the two men.
"It’s still not too late." Yelled Tanner, "we could say he got killed in the cross-fire."
Just then, there was the sound of a gun blast and the four agents hit the ground with a thud… well… except Buck…. his was more of a whoosh; kind of like a car wheel going flat but with odour.
"You boys out for some exercise?" the smiling face of Chris Larabee looked down at his fellow agents.
"No. Actually we were trying to get away from Mr. Wilmington." Explained Standish as he brushed away the dust from his jacket. "But he had some sort of jet propulsion."
"Well, when you’ve finished examining the concrete floor for finger prints, J.D. and Nathan have the other two suspects out the front." The blond agent said as he returned his gun to it’s holster under his jacket.
The man in black turned and left the building leaving the others behind. Mumbled ‘still reckon we could make it look like an accident’ and ‘You stay down wind from me’ could be heard as they made their way out into the afternoon sun.
Baker and his fellow crony were cuffed and searched. Chris began questioning both men.
"Who’s running the organisation Baker?" growled the black clad man.
"Go to Hell Larabee!"
"Last chance." Chris offered.
"I aint gonna talk."
"O.K. tough guy," Chris answered casually. Then, turning to Josiah continued, "put them in the car with Buck… J.D. you drive."
"Me! I aint getting in there with him." Dunne cried pointing to Wilmington.
The blond agent picked up a gas mask from the back of the black van and threw it to the young agent.
"Here, use this." Larabee smiled mischievously.
"You don’t scare me Larabee!" screamed Baker as he was thrown in the back of the A.T.F. car. "I know me rights!" His head was pushed in and the door slammed shut. Buck went to the other side and climbed in. The other criminal was taken away by the Denver Police.
"Hey J.D." called Ezra, "you drive nice and slow now, you hear?"
"Sure thing Ezra." Winked Dunne.
The young agent fastened his mask then climbed into the driver’s seat.
Vin wandered over to Chris as the car slowly moved away. Nudging the older man he said "He’ll tell us everything he knows by the time they get half way down the street."
Larabee looked to the Texan and smiled deviously.
"Anyone care for a little wager?" asked Ezra. The other four agents groaned.
As the car drove away the windows began to fog. All of a sudden a reddened face with wide eyes wedged up against the rear window. The man seemed to be screaming… fear clearly evident on his face. Suddenly the word HELP appeared etched into the misty glass.
"Reckon we should go save him?" asked the sharpshooter leaning casually against the van now.
"Nah, we’ll catch up with them back at the office." Replied the man in black.
"Ooooh, Mr. Larabee you are a cruel man indeed sir." Smiled Standish.
"The Good Lord said, " interrupted Josiah. "An eye for an eye…. A fart for a fart."
The five agents all burst into laughter and headed for their cars.