“Here's to Many More Lively Conversations"

Author: Tipper

Disclaimer: a-wop-babaloobop-a-wop-bam-BOOM (yep, I don't own them)
Note 1: Answer to Beth's poem challenge.  Again.  Numero Three.  Can't seem to keep me down this month.
Note 2: I wanted to use a woman poet, and I wanted to use Josiah and Ezra…this is what I came up with.

Description:  a conversation that takes place sometime near the end of the first year.


Ezra walked into the church, drawn there by something he couldn't quite express.  He wasn't looking for salvation or redemption; he wasn't seeking solace or comfort; he was only looking for….

Okay, he was looking for answers.

Thing is, he was also having trouble with the questions.

Josiah's actions…were beginning to bother him.  The time at the Seminole village…then his actions with Poplar….Ezra didn't want to admit that it bothered him, but it did.  So…he was looking for…for…

Yeah, okay, his mind didn't even want to formulate the right words in his own thoughts.  Great. This was going to be as easy as pie, wasn't it.


Easy as pie…what the heck did that mean, anyway?  He’d watched Inez makes pies…it didn’t look that easy to him.  In fact….

Maybe he should go?

With a sigh, he plopped onto a pew and looked around the dusty, half-finished church.  He secretly believed that Josiah would rip out half of the wood and stonework he put in at night just so he could rebuild it again the next day.  Why else did it never seem like the older man was getting anywhere?

"Hey," the deep bass tones drifted across the cool air, turning Ezra's head in the direction of the side door.  Josiah held coils of ropes in his arms for some mysterious purpose.  The preacher smiled, dumping the heavy coils on the ground near the dais.

"To what do I owe this pleasure?" Josiah asked, stretching his corded arms and brushing off bits of rope thread.  Eventually, he ambled over to Ezra's pew and sat down next to him.

The gambler, of course, answered with his usual fluid vocabulary: 


Josiah grinned, then laughed as Ezra's face flushed.

"Don't tell me you're speechless, son," the preacher rumbled, patting Ezra on the arm.  "That'd be like the Nile going dry in the middle of flood season!"

"The Nile," Ezra smiled, his eyes now on his hands, as if inspecting his nails, "Tell me, preacher, have you ever seen the Nile?"

"I've stood in the Nile, Ezra, but that's not what you came to ask me."  Josiah continued to smile, though concern for the gambler's state of mind began to creep into his gaze.

"Well, actually, yes, that is why I came here," Ezra insisted, standing up suddenly.  "That’s exactly what I wanted to ask.  Thank you for clearing that up.  I had a bet going with, uh, Mr. Wilmington and…."

Without once losing the smile on his face, Josiah grabbed the tails of Ezra's red jacket and yanked downwards, forcing the younger man to sit again.  Ezra landed with a whump, and his face went from slightly pink to bright red.  The embarrassment surged into anger and he glared at the preacher.

"Was that necessary?"

Josiah's smile disappeared, and his eyes took on the heaviness of the world. "What's wrong?" he asked quietly.

The color drained from Ezra's face, and he sighed, lowering his eyes again.  Man was as changeable as a cat, Josiah mused.

"I'm not sure," Ezra finally admitted.  "I guess…I was thinking about…."  He paused, and glanced at Josiah.  "Would it be a terrible imposition, Mr. Sanchez, if I asked you a personal question about something you might potentially blacken my eye for asking?"

Josiah blinked, he had no idea what he'd just been asked.  "I'm sorry? Could you repeat...."

"If you were considering killing yourself, how might you go about it?"

Josiah's eyes widened.  Ezra had asked the question rapidly, and, the moment the words left his lips, the gambler instantly regretted them.  Where the hell had that come from?  Why had he even asked it?

"Why?" the preacher asked, his voice soft.

Ezra shrugged, resuming his focus on his nails.  It wasn't the question he'd wanted to ask, but maybe it might get him the answer he wanted.

"Ezra," Josiah was frowning deeply now, "are you thinking of killing yourself?"

The gambler's head snapped up, and he looked at Josiah like he was an idiot. "No! Of course not!"  Ezra shook his head; what a ridiculous thought.

"Oh," Josiah looked puzzled, "then...are you asking if I have ever tried to kill myself?"

"Oh No," Ezra frowned, and his eyes abruptly took on a very somber quality, "Fact is, I know you have tried to kill yourself." The seriousness of the tone, with the stress Ezra placed on the word "know," was not lost on the preacher.

"Ah," Josiah breathed through his teeth, and sat back. Licking his lips, he nodded slowly. "Ezra, what exactly are you asking me?" he asked. 

Ezra shrugged, "Just what I asked.  Could you please answer the question?"

Josiah gritted his teeth, trying to get beyond the seemingly placid face of the man next to him.  Eventually, he sighed.

"Ezra…there are myriads of ways a man might try to kill himself.  He might cut his wrists or put a gun to his head; he might drown himself in a river or try to hang himself; he might take too many pills or stick a knife in his gut; he might throw himself into a fire….but I wouldn't recommend any of those."

"Oh…why not?" Ezra's eyes never lifted from his hands.

"Because they're all too much trouble to follow through on.  Rivers are too wet, and besides, it's too hard to breathe underwater.  Knives and razors are painful, and don’t get me started on the risk of gangrene.  Some of the things I’ve seen would curl your toes.   Fire…well…Fire is too hot, and, frankly, leaves ugly scars.  Pills taste horrible, nooses don't always work, and pointing a gun at your head is against the law…."  An involuntary smile crossed his face as he noticed that Ezra was beginning to smirk.  "So…does that answer your question, Ezra?"

"Yes," the gambler replied.  "You have answered my question." Standing, Ezra put his hat back on his head and tipped it in farewell to the older man,  "And let me say, Mr. Sanchez, that I continue to look forward to many, many more lively conversations." 

His echo of the first words he ever said to the preacher seemed like a promise to the older man, and the preacher was thankful for the gift.  He nodded back, and, standing, backed up so that Ezra could leave the pew.  The gambler put his hands behind his back and strolled out of the church, definitely more at ease than when he had arrived.

Josiah watched the doors shut behind him, then shook his head, the small smile on his face growing.

Inspired by:

Resume by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.



The End


Email (can always use more inspiration!)