Word Count 9,187
I don’t own Lancer or the characters. I just take them out for a gallop around the ranch. This story doesn’t have many adult content scenes, but I thought NC-17 rating was appropriate.
” Okay Johnny, tell me one good reason why you want to go into town today of all days? It’s pouring and everything will be muddy, cold and wet.”
Johnny slowly buttoned his shirt. He was moving very carefully. He had gotten into a fight with one of the new hands, and had ended up with a slice to his side. He was lucky the knife didn’t damage any major organs. It was stitched and when Johnny moved wrong, it pulled and was, as he stated on numerous occasions, damn annoying.
As Johnny wrapped his gun belt around his waist, and tied down the holster on his right thigh. He lifted dark sapphire eyes to look at his brother.
” He’s waiting for me Scott. You know I don’t walk away from a challenge. Besides, I owe him my bullet because of this knife wound. He wants to dance and I’m gonna oblige him. “
Murdoch was walking past the slightly open door to Johnny’s room, and he pushed the door open.
” No way John! You are not going to meet that guy! You aren’t 100% yet.”
Johnny turned frosted sapphire eyes on his old man, as he continued to buckle his gun belt.
” This doesn’t concern you either old man. You aren’t stopping me. I have to do this.”
Scott stood next to their father, his hands on his narrow waist. His silver blue eyes were flashing with anger as he turned on his brother.
” You go anywhere near that door little brother, and I’m gonna knock you clear into next week! Now you unbuckle that belt and get back in that bed!”
Johnny’s eyes turned cold and his voice took on that chilling softness that would cause other men to fear for their lives.
” Scott, if you value your life, you will get out of my way. I can and will go thru you to get out of here.”
Suddenly, Murdoch swung his arm, and caught Johnny on the chin. The force of the blow knocked Johnny to the floor, where he layed, unconscious.
Murdoch picked his youngest son up in his arms and deposited him back on the bed. Together, he and Scott took off his boots and gunbelt, and then stripped him and put a nightshirt on him.
” I don’t think he’s going anywhere now!”
” Damn Murdoch! You didn’t have to hit him so hard. But it got the job done. He’s gonna be furious when he regains consciousness. You know that Sir.”
Murdoch sat on the side of the bed, and gently pushed his shaggy bangs from his face. His fingers gently touched the bruise already forming on Johnny’s jaw.
” Yeah, I know Son. I just couldn’t let him go face someone when he wasn’t healed enough. That guy knifed him only 2 days ago Scott.”
Scott walked to the window and looked out at the rain and cold wet weather that surrounded Lancer.
” I’ll stay with him Sir and try to keep him from leaving, even if I have to sit on him.”
Murdoch stood up and chuckled softly.
” That might be the only way to keep him here I’m afraid Son. Maybe just try and talk him out of going. If anyone can do that, it’s you Scott.”
After Murdoch left, Scott sat in the chair by the bed. He put his elbows on the arms of the chair and steepled his fingers, tapping his lips as he watched his brother.
Murdoch brought up a tray of dinner for Scott. He placed it on the small table and sat on the side of the bed.
He ran his fingers across Johnny’s jaw, frowning at how dark the bruise there was becoming.
” I’ll sit with him in a few hours Son. He should be waking up in a bit and I’ll be the only one to stop him.”
” He’ll be furious Sir. You better take his gunbelt and stash it in your room, just to be on the safe side.”
Murdoch reached for the gunbelt that was hanging off the headboard of Johnny’s bed. He left the room and walked across the hall to his room, where he laid Johnny’s gunbelt on the top of his dresser. Then on second thought, he removed the knife from Johnny’s left boot, and took the bullets from his spare gun in one of his drawers.
It was a few hours later, that Murdoch came in and Scott left to get some sleep. He stopped at the door and looked back at his brother. In his hand, was Johnny’s knife, which he was stashing in his room.
Sleep was elusive for Scott, but he stayed where he was, for now. He eventually did fall asleep.
It was after midnight when Johnny began to moan. The lamp on his stand was not on and Murdoch sat in the darkness.
As Johnny began to wake up, Murdoch reached for the ropes on the floor by his feet. He was not going to allow his Son to be killed because he wasn’t up to 100% ready for a gun fight.
The shaft of moonlight allowed Murdoch to see when Johnny’s eyes opened. As his hand moved to rub his jaw, Murdoch spoke.
” I’m sorry I hit you that hard John. But it was the only way I could keep you from getting yourself killed.”
As Murdoch lit the lamp, he saw the cold ice blue eyes of his youngest Son staring up at him.
” Well, old man, you lost.”
Johnny started to get up off the bed, and Murdoch moved from the chair. He moved very fast for a man of his side.
” I don’t think so John. I said you aren’t going, and if I have to, I’ll tie you to that bed!”
Johnny’s eyes narrowed and this soft deadly voice again came out.
” Tie me to the bed? You are getting that much closer to being shot old man! Now get out of my way!”
Again Johnny tried to get up and Murdoch put his hands on his shoulders. Johnny started to struggle, and Murdoch saw that Johnny was already in pain from the knife wound, and he was beginning to weaken.
Suddenly, the door opened and Scott stood framed in the doorway. He had on just his jeans, as he heard the sounds of struggling coming from his brother’s room.
Scott came into the room, and Johnny’s struggles stopped, for the moment.
” Scott, tell the old man to get off of me!”
” Can’t do that Brother. Murdoch is right. You can’t go to town, you aren’t healed enough.”
Johnny’s struggles ceased and he fixed a very cold icy stare on his brother.
” I won’t forget this Brother.”
Scott picked up the ropes and started to tie Johnny to the bed railings. His hands were tied sort of spread wide apart so he couldn’t untie each hand. His legs were tied to the bottom railing.
” I won’t forget this Brother. I get loose, you’d better watch your back!”
” John! That’s enough! I won’t have you threatening your brother for doing what is in your best interest. “
” I don’t give a rat’s ass what is good for me old man! I’ll get loose somehow, and after I take care of that bastard who knifed me, I’ll be back to deal with you two. And then I’m outta here!”
Murdoch looked down at his son, and you could see the worry beginning in his eyes.
He knew what Johnny said would be enacted on, Johnny never made idle threats.
Murdoch turned and slowly walked out the door, and Scott sat in the chair.
” You’re just upset right now Johnny. You haven’t ever been told you can’t do something. After you calm down and see the logic of why he did this, the ropes will be taken off.”
Johnny turned from his brother and stared out the window. He didn’t say anything to Scott and eventually he got up and left the room.
Johnny stewed and got angrier with each passing hour. When Maria came in with Johnny’s lunch, he turned icy blue eyes on her and said, very low and deadly sounding, ” Get out of my room Maria! I don’t want you here!”
Maria turned and all but ran from Johnny’s room, tears slipping from her eyes.
” Good riddance!”
Johnny’s demeanor began to worsen with every hour, and when Murdoch stormed into the room, the fuse was lit on his temper.
” How dare you yell at Maria and talk to her like you did boy! If you weren’t already restrained in that bed, you and me would be taking a trip to the wood shed!”
Johnny laughed low and throaty, and he said, with a chill to his voice, ” I don’t care what you think old man! I don’t want anyone in here, especially you. The sight of you just makes me angrier! Now get the hell out!”
Murdoch turned and left the room, all but slamming the door behind him.
When Scott was done working, he stopped at Johnny’s door and carefully opened the door. He slowly looked in and saw his brother was sleeping. At least, he looked like he was sleeping, knowing how Johnny liked playing opossum.
He gently shut the door and went to the stairs and then went into the Great Room.
After the door had clicked shut, Johnny opened his eyes. He started to work on the ropes again, wiggling his hands to loosen the ropes. As he felt the ropes beginning to move, he chuckled demonically.
Johnny could hear the ranch hands going to the bunk house to have supper, and his stomach growled at him. He hadn’t had anything to eat for 4 days. Hell, he’d gone longer than that without eating.
When he heard some noises in the hall, Johnny stopped wiggling his hands. Just before the door creaked open, he shut his eyes.
” You can stop faking Amigo.”
Johnny opened his eyes and saw Val Crawford standing in front of him, a stupid grin in his face.
” Well, you really did it this time friend! What did you do that Murdoch would tie you to your bed?”
Johnny smiled, a very evil looking smile, and he said, ” Well Val. I got knifed about a week ago, the guy is hanging around Morro Coyo waiting for me to take him up on his request of a dance. I wasn’t healed enough for Murdoch or Scott, and the old man clocked me one. When I woke up, he and Scott tied me to the bed. “
Val softly whistled and Johnny smiled.
” Wanna get these ropes off me Amigo? I have a killing to do.”
Without hesitation, Val opened the ropes and Johnny jumped from the bed. He quickly got dressed and reached into the bottom of his closet. He pulled out another gunbelt and a Colt similar to his gun that they took.
As Johnny put some bullets into the chambers, Val said, ” How the hell you gonna get out of here? They are in the Great Room.”
” I’ll go down the outside stairs at the end of the hall. I’ll meet you at the barn. It’s dark enough they won’t see anything.”
Val left and told Murdoch and Scott he was heading back to town. Scott walked him to the front door and Val left.
Val mounted his black stallion and he moved very slowly towards the archway. He whistled sharply and the barn doors opened and Johnny came out on Barranca. They took off at a mile eating gallop, heading for Morro Coyo.
Val turned to look at his pal, and he saw the determined look on his face.
They got to town a bit later and as they tied the horses to a railing by the jail, Val walked towards the jail door.
” Hang tight one minute Johnny. Something I need to do.”
A few minutes later, Val came out of the jail. Johnny noticed the absence of the Sheriff’s star from his shirt.
” Been too long in this job. Needed a change.”
Johnny smiled at his Amigo, a slow smile and the sparks lit up his eyes.
” I know what ya mean Val. But I got a stop to make, before I dance with Raymond. Wanna keep an eye on him, he’s got dark brown curly hair. Give me 30 minutes.”
” Gonna be a quickie for you Johnny.”
” Yea, I know. She’d hate me if I didn’t at least give her one last time with me.”
Johnny walked along the walkway, passing the closed and darkened stores, as he got to a small house just on the outskirts of town.
As Johnny softly knocked on the door, he waited for it to open. When he saw her, the smile erupted on his face, and he scooped her into his arms.
” Katie! Man, have I missed you baby! Have a little bit of time, before I leave and thought of you.”
Katie lifted big grey eyes to look at Johnny, and he was once again reminded of a cat.
Her fingers were already busy on his shirt and gunbelt at the same time.
” Leave Johnny? What do you mean leave? Where ya going? Are ya coming back?”
Katie’s voice was so soft, Johnny felt almost sick that he was leaving her behind.
As Johnny pulled her robe apart and pulled her to him, his lips found and possessed hers’ with an intense fury.
” Oh baby, I wish I knew where I was going. I had a falling out with old man Lancer and Scott. I’m not staying.”
Johnny’s hands found Katie’s warm skin and softly caressed his hands down her skin.
Katie’s hands had taken Johnny’s shirt off and as she worked on the gunbelt, Johnny wrapped his arms around her tiny body, picked her up and carried her to her bedroom.
Johnny had Katie undressed in a matter of seconds. He began to caress and touch her body, feeling the way she arched against his touch.
She started to moan softly as Johnny slid 2 fingers inside of her. He gently moved them in and out, and drove Katie over the edge.
When she had had 2 very intense orgasms with his fingers, Johnny moved his body over her’s. Lifting her legs, Johnny slid into her body and began to move slow and deeply.
Johnny wasn’t even aware of her moans becoming tiny cries as pleasure overtook her. Nor did Johnny feel her long nails as they bit into his shoulders.
All Johnny knew, all he felt, was the woman under him on the bed with the lilac scented sheets. Johnny moved against Katie’s body, implanting the feel of her body on his mind.
” Oh Johnny. I love how you make me feel! I don’t want you to leave me! Please stay here, with me. Please!”
Johnny lifted up his head and looked down at Katie. As he
moved against her faster, his soft words filled Katie’s ears.
” If I come back this way, I will make your little house my first stop baby. I promise!”
Johnny released his own pleasure into Katie’s body. He could feel her trembling and Johnny wrapped his arms around Katie’s body, and rolled to his back.
She squealed in her delight as he went even deeper into her body. Once more, Johnny drove Katie over the top. Finally, she collapsed against him and Johnny gently kissed her face and her lips.
*** END ALERT ***
As Johnny gently rolled Katie off his body, he got up and started to get dressed. Katie watched him, with her eyes beginning to fill with tears.
Before Johnny buttoned his shirt, he leaned over, and as his chest gently caressed Katie’s body, his lips caressed her’s.
” Keep it warm baby. I may come back for you.”
He quickly buttoned his shirt up and wrapped his gunbelt around his waist. Johnny leaned over and kissed her again. Then he was gone from her sight.
He walked out the door, and Val was waiting.
” You okay Amigo?”
” Not really Val. I’m gonna definitely miss that little gal. I started to fall in love with her, but you know, pretty girls and gun fighters don’t mix well.”
Johnny started towards the bar and as he walked, he put on his game face. Johnny Madrid was the one who entered the bar and stared right at the guy who knifed him on Lancer.
He noticed how cold and hard Johnny looked, and he swallowed hard, and already had sweat forming on his forehead.
Johnny walked to the shiny bar and the bartender put a glass of beer in front of him and Val. Johnny took a long satisfying swig of the beer and turned his icy glacial blue eyes on Raymond.
” Well Raymond. Didn’t think you’d see me again, did you? Well, I heard you wanted to dance. Ready when you are!”
Johnny finished his beer and turned and headed to the door. Val was right behind him. As Johnny walked, he pulled that little black glove out of his pocket, and slid it onto his left hand.
Johnny stood in the middle of the street, and waited for Raymond. It was two seconds after Johnny got in the street, that his adversary came out of the bar.
Johnny’s blue eyes were hidden under the brim of his hat, but the smile was still there.
” You called the dance, let’s dance.”
That soft deadly voice caused Raymond to maybe want to rethink the dance. But then, Johnny saw the change in his demeanor, and pulled his Colt a second before Raymond did.
As the roar of Johnny’s gun echoed down the street, Scott and Murdock knew they were too late. They galloped the rest of the way into town. They saw Johnny standing in the middle of the street, gun still smoking.
” Oh Brother, what have you done?”
Johnny saw the two Lancers bearing down on him, and he lifted the gun that was still in his hand.
” I told you old man, you lost. Throw them guns to the ground, and Scott take out that fancy rifle of your’s too.”
Val and Johnny backed up to where their horses were tied. Johnny swung up into the saddle and before he turned to leave, he said, with ice in his voice, ” You ruined everything old man! If you had just let me do what I had to do, you would still have both sons.”
With those chilly words spoken, Johnny and Val turned their horses and started out of Morro Coyo. They started out of Morro Coyo. They started north, and before they left town all together, Johnny saw Katie standing on her porch. Her arms around one of the posts, tears silently falling down her
Johnny sadly smiled, touched his hat and kicked Barranca’s sides. He jumped into a gallop, and together Val and Johnny were eaten up by the encroaching darkness.
Scott jumped down and picked up their guns, and was just going to mount up and take off after his brother. But something in Murdoch’s voice stopped him.
” No Scott, let him go. If he can throw away what he had at the ranch so easily, it’s better we know now.”
Scott looked at his father and he said, a bit harsher than he should have, ” He had help this time Sir. If we had done things differently, I would still have my brother and you would still have your Son.”
Scott peered into the darkening landscape, trying to see his brother or even Barranca, but even the sound of hoofbeats were lost to the silence.
He lowered his head and fought to keep his sadness and his tears at bay. He almost won that battle, even as he felt the warm tears on his cheeks.
Softly, Murdoch said, ” Come on Son, let’s go home.”
He turned his big roan around and started at a walk towards Lancer, Scott following on Charlie. Before they left the boundary of Morro Coyo, Scott turned in his saddle, praying his brother would come riding up behind him, a huge grin on his face.
But there was nothing but silence, as they started their long lonely ride back to Lancer.
As Scott and Murdock rode in silence to Lancer, Johnny and Val were getting ready to bed down for the night.
They pulled their saddles off their horses and Johnny set up a picket line to which they tied their horses to.
After they threw their saddles and sleeping bags down, Johnny started to search for sticks for a fire. Soon, there was a small fire cheerily burning and a pot of coffee was cooking on the side.
Neither had gotten supplies, but Val did have a good supply of jerky, which would see them to the next town and supplies.
As Johnny leaned on his saddle, drinking coffee and chewing slowly, he was very quiet.
Val, who couldn’t stand Johnny being so quiet, said, ” What’s on your mind Amigo?”
Johnny’s eyes sparkled in the fire light and he very softly said, ” Just thinking of Katie. I hated to leave her Val, ya know. I’ve been with her for almost a year. It was hard to ride away from her.”
Val got very quiet and he studied his best friend. Finally, after a long silence, he said, ” Johnny, did you love her?”
Johnny lifted his eyes a little more and Val saw what he thought was the beginning of tears on his eyes.
” Yea, I did Val. I was thinking of asking her to be my wife. But I guess that wasn’t meant to be either.”
” Johnny, just think for a minute, without your heart in the way. What kind of life would your Katie have now if you went back for her? And you can’t lie to me, I know that’s what you been thinking of doing. We don’t even know where we are going.”
Johnny got up and started pacing and slapping his thigh with a balled up hand.
” Then we won’t head south Val. We’ll find a nice place to start a new life and then I’ll send for her.”
” Johnny boy, you aren’t a Lancer no more. Who’s gonna let Johnny Madrid live in their town? Face it kid, we gotta keep moving.”
Johnny lowered his head and walked to where the horses were tied. He stood in front of Barranca, and he seemed to know Johnny needed comfort. He laid is huge golden head on Johnny’s shoulder.
Johnny slid his hand under his snow white mane and leaned against his strong neck. His other hand reaching into his pocket. As he pulled out what was there, Val walked up to him.
Val’s eyes got huge and then he squinted, as he realized Johnny was holding a ring between his fingers. Val knew then, how serious it had really been for Johnny. He turned and left Johnny to his thoughts.
Val sat against his saddle and waited for Johnny to come back to the fire. When he did, he looked so sad, it broke Val’s heart.
As Johnny just stared at the fire, Val softly said, ” You still got it, right Amigo.”
” Yea, I still got it Val.”
Both men settled in for the night, but it was a long restless night for one of them.
The next morning, as Johnny and Val prepared to take off, at the Lancer Ranch, heated words were being thrown across the table in the kitchen.
” If you had only relented and let Johnny meet that guy, he’d still be here! But no, the almighty powerful Murdoch Lancer had to throw his weight around!”
” Bad enough you damn near broke his jaw, but then to tie your own son to his bed. Jesus Murdoch, what the hell were you thinking! “
Murdoch sat quietly at the table, when he suddenly erupted and threw his coffee cup at the back door.
” Don’t you think I wish I could do it all over! That I wished I could have talked to Johnny and made him see he was too hurt for a gunfight.”
Then he looked up at Scott and he said the words he never thought he’d ever say.
” I’m afraid of him Scott. God, help me, I’m afraid of my own son!”
Scott looked at him and said, ” Is that the reason, after 4 years of Johnny being home, working twice as hard as the other hands, trying to be the son you want! Is that why you always treated him different from me!?”
When Murdoch lifted his eyes to look at his oldest son, Scott saw an old man who could never understand his youngest. Would just barrel and push thru anyone and everything to get things his way.
Scott straightened up and glared at his father, his silver blue eyes were flashing fire, and he said, ” You really are a piece of work Murdoch! You pushed Johnny away at a time when he needed you to understand. Johnny lost everything because you treated him like a criminal and not your son! Damn it Murdoch, Johnny is a proud man, and to hide at Lancer when a challenge is issued, isn’t in his character. You really are a fool Murdoch!”
Scott turned and started to walk up the stairs and Murdoch’s arm snaked out.
” You can’t talk to me like that boy! Who do you think you are?!”
Scott yanked his arm out of that vice like grip.
” I’m the brother who is going to find his baby brother, and try to bring him home. But after hearing you just now Murdoch, maybe I’ll tell Johnny he’s better off without
Scott turned and bolted up the stairs, and a few seconds later, the slamming of his bedroom door could be heard.
When his saddlebags were filled, he went the back stairs into the kitchen. Maria had heard the fight, and she had a huge sack of food for Scott.
” Please bring Juanito home Senior Scott. Please!”
Scott caressed his fingertips to Maria’s cheek and said he’d do his best. He left and went to the front door. He threw his saddlebags onto the horse he was going to ride. He patted Charlie’s sturdy neck. He waited a few minutes more, and still Murdoch doesn’t come out.
” The hell with him and his pride!”
Scott turns his horse and gallops out of the courtyard.
Johnny and Val had headed towards Arizona and the further away from the San Joaquin valley they got, the more Johnny’s thoughts evened out. He was almost able to think of Katie, without the knife to his heart.
As they were nearing Flagstaff, in a small town, Johnny was called out. It did not go the way Johnny or even Val wanted. Johnny was off by less than a half second, and the shot to his upper left chest spun him around and he slowly sank to the ground. He did manage to shoot the man who called him out.
Val ran to Johnny’s side and lifted him up into his arms and followed the directions to the doctor’s office.
” Don’t do this to me Johnny! You can’t be seriously hurt! Don’t you dare die on me. You’re all the family I have!”
He layed Johnny on the table and told the Doctor what had happened.
” Don’t you let him die Doctor! He’s my best friend, and I ain’t ready to let go of him!”
” You got a telegraph office here?”
” In the feed store, and I’ll try not to lose your pal.”
Val sent a telegram to Scott in care of Sam.
Johnny in gunfight near Flagstaff (stop). Hurt bad (stop). Please come (stop)
Val hoped it would reach Scott in time, and he walked back to the Doctor’s office.
Sam was just leaving his little house, when George ran up.
” Doc, got an urgent message for Scott Lancer!”
Sam took the note from the little boy and thanked George, who positively beamed at the Doctor.
Sam opened the note and then decided he needed to give it to Scott. He knew that Johnny had left Lancer about 2 weeks prior, and he was sure Scott was worried.
When Sam got to Lancer, he knocked. Murdock answered the door, and to Sam, he never looked so old.
” Sam, what can I do for you?”
” Have a message for Scott. Johnny’s hurt and needs Scott.”
Murdoch turned from the door and very slowly walked into the Great Room. He sat heavily on the sofa and softly spoke.
” Scott isn’t here Sam. He left the day after Johnny killed that man in Morro Coyo. I don’t even know where he is.”
As Sam stood there in the archway, Murdoch got up and poured a large glass of whiskey. He drank half of it in one gulp, and kind of staggered to his desk.
” Why did Johnny leave Lancer Murdoch? Did you blow up at that boy again? What the hell could he have done, he was recovering from that knife wound.”
Murdoch lifted blood shot eyes, and he kinda slurred as he said, ” He wanted to go to town and kill that man. I thought he shouldn’t, he wasn’t healed enough. “
” Well, Johnny wouldn’t leave Lancer for that. What else did you do to that boy, Murdoch!?”
Sam’s voice began to get louder and he said, ” Murdoch! What the hell did you do?!”
” I hit him Sam. I knocked my own Son out, so he wouldn’t go to town!”
Sam started to pace the floor in the Great Room.
” Tell me all of it Murdoch!”
Murdoch drank the rest of the whiskey and moved to the bar cart in the corner. He filled the glass again, and again drank most of it down.
Sam’s loud voice caused Murdoch to jump. He held the glass
tighter and walked to the sofa and sat down heavily.
” I’m waiting Murdoch!”
He took a deep breath and said, ” I tied him to the bed. It was the only way I could keep him safe.”
Sam’s brown eyes were dark and shooting sparks of fire as he said, while waving the telegram from Val, ” How safe is he now Murdoch! Johnny is in trouble and his brother is God only knows! Ya know Murdoch, I’ve told you enough times that the way you treat Johnny would have negative ramifications. And it sure has, hasn’t it!?”
Sam turned and started to walk out of the room, and he stopped. Sam turned around and said, with a big touch of anger and even sarcasm.
” I hope Johnny survives this attack and I hope and pray that Scott finds his brother. And what’s more, I hope neither of the boys come back here. I’m done trying to get thru to you Murdoch! You don’t hear, you do just whatever you want. You played God with Johnny’s life and even if you hadn’t hit him or tied him to the bed, he would have left. That boy only wanted to belong and to be loved. You may have looked for him for twenty years, but you threw him away the day he got here.
Hope you can live with what you’ve done.”
Sam turned and went out the door, to his carriage. He put his hands on the seat and lowered his head. The telegram from Val clutched in his hand. And Sam cried. Warm, salty tears slid down his cheeks and he said a silent prayer to keep both boys and even Val safe. He climbed into the seat, wiped his eyes and drove his little mare under the Lancer arch, wiping his eyes as he went.
Scott had left Green River about a week ago, where he’d gotten supplies and a mule to carry them. He turned north and left the little town.
As Scott travelled, he asked anyone in the towns he came to, if they’d seen 2 men, one on a flashy Palomino. No one confirmed seeing them, and Scott kept on.
A couple days later, Scott came to a fairly large town. He stopped Charlie and tied him and the mule to a railing. He went into the nearest store, which happened to be a mercantile. He walked to the back counter, and asked the girl behind it if there was a telegraph office in town.
She smiled and turned to face a curtained off place.
” Uncle George! Someone wants to send a telegram!”
A jolly, roly poly sort of man came out. He was all smiles as he greeted Scott.
” Afternoon Mister. What can I do for you?”
” I’d like to send a telegram please!”
The man walked a bit down the counter, and pulled out a pad and a pencil.
” There you are Mister. I’ll send it out as soon as you write it.”
Scott walked up to the counter and picked up the pencil. And wrote his message.
To Sam Jenkins
Morro Coyo. California
By now you know I’m gone from Lancer (stop) trying to find Johnny (stop) Have you heard from either Johnny or Val (stop). Let me know. I’ll stay in town for a few more days (stop)Need to find Johnny
Scott paid for the telegram and softly said, “If you get a message, I’ll be at that hotel on the corner. It’s urgent.”
As Scott walked out of the store, he heard the tapping of the
telegraph machine going to work.
He untied Charlie and walked both animals to the livery. He made arrangements for both animals for a couple days. He paid the little whiskered man and took his saddlebags and rifle.
Told the little man if there were any problems, he was at the hotel.
Scott secured a room for a week and as he climbed the stairs, all he wanted was a bed and some sleep, and then some food.
Scott only managed to pull his gunbelt off and kick his boots off, and all but collapsed onto the bed. A soft prayer on his lips for his brother and Val to be safe.
It seemed to Scott he’d only just fallen asleep and he heard a very insistent knocking on the door. He sat up and quickly looked around at the room.
Scott opened the door, and saw the girl from the mercantile. She held in her tiny hand a yellow piece of paper.
” Uncle George said it was very important and I ran as fast as I could.”
Scott took the message and reached into his pocket and pulled out some coins, which he pressed into her small hand. She all but squeaked her thanks and ran from the room, her treasure held tightly in her hand.
Scott slowly sat on the bed and opened the envelope. A huge grin came to his lips as he read.
Heard from Val (stop) Johnny in gunfight (stop) hurt bad (stop)
Near Flagstaff (stop) he needs you (stop)
He started immediately to repack his saddlebags. He grabbed his rifle and turned the key in and then walked to the livery. He saddled Charlie and put the supplies on the mule. Scott mounted up and left the livery.
As he rode, he kept saying to himself, ‘ Please be okay Johnny . Please Brother, don’t leave me!’
3 days later, Scott rode into the town Val and Johnny were in. As he stabbed Charlie and the mule, he saw Barranca and Midnight. Barranca snickered softly at Charlie, who answered with his own nicker.
Grabbing his rifle and saddlebags, he all but ran to the hotel. He tried to get his breathing slowed, and he asked the man behind the desk what room Val and Johnny were in. He was told and Scott bolted up the stairs.
He knocked and the door was opened by Val. He looked like he was crying and for one wild minute, Scott thought he was too late, and his brother was gone.
Val grabbed his arm and pulled him into the room.
” Thank God Sam found you Scott! Johnny’s really bad. That Doctor damn near butchered him, he didn’t know how to take care of a bullet wound this serious. Now, Johnny is feverish and I’m afraid he’s gonna leave!”
Scott put the things he was carrying on the other bed. He walked to the bed which held his little brother. Scott sat on the edge and gently caressed the shaggy bangs back. He could feel how warm Johnny was and he told Val to get some cool water.
They stripped Johnny, and Scott smiled when he saw that Johnny had on a pair of cut down long johns. Between Val and Scott, they kept Johnny as cooled down as possible.
For 3 days, Val and Scott worked tirelessly on Johnny, to keep him cooled down and cleaning the wound to stave off infections. The wound looked okay and Scott breathed a soft sigh of relief.
Later that 3rd day, the Doctor finally came to check on Johnny. Val was rather cold to the man, Scott was reserved in his opinion.
” Well, I see he hasn’t gotten any infections started and his fever seems to be lessening. Whatever you are doing, it seems to be working. I think this young man will make it. “
After the Doctor left, Val and Scott sat in the chairs by a small table that held remnants of coffee and breakfast still on the top.
” I don’t mind telling you Scott, I was plum wore out trying to keep that boy alive. We seemed to do a good job. It’s 3 days after Johnny was shot, he’s still with us.”
Scott wearily sat back in the chair and he said, ” What happened Val? “
” Same old thing Scott. Johnny was called out. The guy didn’t even wait for Johnny to get into position, before he shot. Johnny tried to answer the draw, and he was only off a part of a second. The bullet hit him in the chest and Johnny’s bullet took the other guy out.”
Scott was quiet for awhile and said, softly, ” That Doctor wasn’t what I would like for taking care of Johnny. “
Val got up and walked to the window by the bed Johnny was in, pushed his bangs back and said, ” He didn’t know if he could even take the bullet out Scott. But he musta found the know how, because when I came back from messaging Sam, he was almost pulling the bullet out. It was near his heart Scott, and he told me he wasn’t sure how to do it. I’m just glad he did.”
” Me too.”
Val picked up the cold coffee and took a sip, than said quietly, ” So when did you leave? What’s going on with old man Lancer?”
” Before I left, which was the day after you two did, he was already drinking heavily. I knew he hadn’t gone out to see what the ranch needed. He just would sit at his desk and drink. When I asked him why he always treated Johnny differently than me or even the other ranch hands. Know what he said Val? He said he was afraid of him, because he’s Johnny Madrid! I blew up then Val! I told him I was gonna go find my brother and I was going to make sure that neither of us returned to Lancer.”
Val was very quiet and then he cleared his throat and said,
” Well, he made his bed where you two are concerned. And from the sounds of it, he’s gonna drink himself to an early grave.”
There was a soft moan from the bed. Scott and Val instantly got up and Scott sat on the edge of the bed.
Slowly, they saw the long dark lashes fluttering, and knew Johnny was clawing his way out of his deep sleep.
Scott put his hand on Johnny’s right bicep and said, very softly, ” It’s okay Brother. I’m here. You were shot Johnny, and you need to lie still for a bit. Val is here too. You’re gonna be fine. Open your eyes Brother.”
” Yea, I’m here Brother. Don’t move. You’re gonna be fine.”
Johnny slowly opened his eyes, and both Val and Scott could see the pain he was feeling in those deep blue eyes.
” Want anything for the pain Johnny?”
He slowly shook his head ‘no’.
Johnny did ask for some water and he took a few sips, enough to wet his lips and throat.
Johnny was focusing on managing his pain. It always fascinated the other two men how Johnny could do that. When he had the pain level situated, Johnny said, ” How long have I been down?”
” About 4 days Amigo. The bullet was way to close to your heart. Was touch and go Johnny. I telegrammed Sam to find Scott, because I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen.”
Scott smiled softly, and said, ” I was already gone from Lancer and telegrammed Sam if he’d heard from you. He sent a message quickly and well, here I am.”
Johnny stared hard at his brother and his eyes held a hint of frost as he said, ” So why are you here Brother?”
Scott looked at Johnny and said, ” Because I wasn’t going to lose my Brother. I left a day after you two did. Murdoch was wrong Johnny and I told him so in a very loud voice. All he did was pick up his whiskey and sat at his desk. “
Johnny’s eyes lost that frosty look and he said, ” Drinking huh? Good, I hope he pickles himself! He say anything more Scott?”
Scott sighed and took a deep breath in. He exhaled slowly and said, ” Yea. I asked him why, after searching for you for all those years, did he treat you worse than even the ranch hands. He told me he was afraid of you. That Johnny Madrid made him afraid of his own son. It was then I decided I’d had enough and I left.”
Johnny closed his eyes and was breathing hard, almost panting. Scott saw and put his hand on Johnny’s arm and softly said,
” Johnny, relax Brother. You’re fine now. Slow your breathing down Brother.”
Johnny opened his eyes and he said, with a bit of anger and resentment laced in his voice, ” So I was forced from a home I felt safe in, because the old man was afraid of me!? I never gave him any inkling of wanting to do harm to him or you Scott. I only wanted him to love me, like he loved you Scott.”
Val turned from the window and he said, ” Amigo, I think you and Scott are better off on your own. You don’t need the added grief of always trying to get old man Lancer’s approval and love. Because I guarantee you, it was never gonna happen.”
Johnny laid back on the pillow and he got very quiet. Val went down to get some food and coffee. Scott stayed by his brother’s side and offered what comfort Johnny would allow.
” Guess we stay here until I heal, huh Boston?”
Scott smiled at his brother. It was so good to hear that nickname.
” Yeah, and by then, we’ll have an idea where we are going.”
Johnny smiled back at his brother and he said, with his emotions making his voice quiver, ” I’m glad you found me Scott. Besides Katie, I missed you the most.”
By the time Val came back to the room, Johnny had fallen asleep. Scott and he ate the sandwiches and the coffee. They took turns sleeping and watching Johnny.
Sam was in his carriage, going to Lancer. He’d gotten a message from Scott that Johnny was awake and healing nicely. As much as Sam hated going to Lancer, the father in him needed to tell Lancer that his youngest was alive. Not that he thought it would matter.
As Sam drove under the arch, he noticed something wrong. The ranch hands weren’t around, horses weren’t in the corrals and there was no cattle.
He stopped in the courtyard and he sat there a few minutes, when the door opened. Sam looked up and saw Aggie Conway walking towards his carriage.
She smiled sort of sadly, at Sam, and said, quietly, ” Hello Sam. What brings you out here?”
Sam got out of the carriage and stood next to his little mare. He pulled his glasses off and wiped them off and then wiped his eyes.
” Got a telegram that Johnny was awake and healing from his gunfight. I thought Murdoch would like to know.”
Aggie got a little sadder and she said, ” I don’t think it will matter Sam. Murdoch has been drinking large amounts of booze and that combined with the boys being gone, he doesn’t even care about Lancer anymore. He sold me everything, all the stock, the ranch hands who wanted to work for me. He’s gonna come to my ranch and I’ll take care of him.”
Sam was shocked. Never would he have thought Murdoch would abandon Lancer. It was his whole life. But with the boys gone, it probably wasn’t as important anymore.
” I wish you luck Agatha. If you need me for anything, send word.
Before he got back in the carriage, he said, ” Do you think you would sell it Agatha? “
” Oh maybe Sam. But to who?”
Sam smiled and said, ” Let me check on something first Aggie. I’ll get back to you.”
Sam got in the carriage and Aggie leaned look over and kissed his cheek, which surprised and shocked Sam, but he smiled at her all the same. He turned his little mare and took off back to town.
Johnny was healing nicely, and was up and sitting in a cushioned chair, looking out the window. Scott was reading and Val was sleeping.
He had been awake, after the gunfight, for almost a month. He liked it in the town, it was quiet, but not too quiet. Which caused him on numerous occasions to think of Katie, and wondering how she was.
Johnny had just sighed and Scott was going to ask if he was okay, when there was a soft knock. Scott got up and opened the door.
It was Mary, the little girl who’s Uncle ran the telegraph office.
Scott smiled and bent down to her level. ” What can I do for you today Miss Mary?”
Mary blushed and giggled a little girl’s giggle. She handed Scott a yellow envelope and said, ” That came in a minute ago and Uncle George said it could be important Scott.”
Scott took the envelope and reached in his pocket, and again pressed a couple coins into her hands. She thanked him and ran down the stairs.
Scott shut the door and walked to the chair he had just left, the telegram envelope in his hand.
Johnny turned and saw his brother hesitating and said, ” You want me to read it Scott?”
That woke Scott up and he smiled and said, ” No, I got this Johnny.”
As Scott read the message, a smile began to develope on his face, but also his frown got deeper.
” Oh my God! You aren’t gonna believe this Brother!”
Scott’s loud words startled Val awake. He grumbled about people being so loud, that no one could sleep.
Scott and Johnny chuckled softly and Scott lifted the message again.
” It’s from Sam. He said that the old man has sold Lancer, the stock, the ranch hands, everything to Aggie Conway. He is also going to her ranch, so she can take care of him. Sam is afraid that due to the massive drinking and us leaving, he had a small stroke. He couldn’t run the ranch any longer.”
Johnny’s eyes got huge and very dark, and his breathing began to border on panting. Val saw the color wash out of Johnny’s face, and he moved to the bed, reaching for the small pot under his bed. He knelt down by Johnny and softly said,
” You’re okay Pal. Breathe slow Johnny. Come on, slow your breathing. That’s right. Relax Johnny.”
Johnny got his emotions and his breathing under control, and quietly said, ” He sold Lancer? And he’s going to let Aggie take care of him? What the hell is going on Scott? This has to be a joke!”
Scott locked his silver blue eyes on his brother and said, ” I don’t think it is a joke Brother. Sam also asked if we wanted to buy it from Aggie, as our ranch.”
Johnny and Val, both, sat there stunned for a few minutes.
” I think we should do just that Johnny. Make the horse ranch you always thought would be profitable for us. And we would have something to leave our children. The old man abandoned Lancer, when he drank himself stupid, and sold to Aggie! I think we can do this Brother.”
Johnny sat in the chair and rubbed his cheek. There was a run away stage coach in his mind of what buying the ranch would be like.
” Scott we’d have to change the name. I don’t think I could go back if it was still called Lancer. I’m not taking the Lancer name Scott. I will always be Johnny Madrid.”
Scott agreed with his brother and said he’d take the last name of Garrett, instead of being a Lancer again.
” I’ll contact my lawyer friend in San Francisco and have him deal directly with Aggie. Keep our names out of it. Don’t want the old man to know it’s us buying his precious ranch.”
Johnny looked out the window again and very softly speaks, “Doesn’t seem like he’ll know anything, Brother. According to Sam’s message, he’s not coherent enough to know anything.”
Scott stood up and said he’d go send the telegram to his friend and have him get a hold of Aggie and get started.
Before Scott left, he turned to his brother and said, ” What name you wanna call our ranch Brother?”
Johnny sat quietly and he said, ” Why not just use our initials Scott? Val, you think you want to be part of a horse ranch!?”
When Val said he’d like to be in on it, Johnny said, ” JSV Horse Ranch.” Both men readily agreed, and Scott left the room.
After Scott left, Johnny and Val began to gather their things. Scott came back a bit later, and said his friend would do it for him. He also said he’d sent a message to Sam.
Before they left to head back to Morro Coyo, Scott sold the livery man the mule and the rest of their supplies.
They saddled up their horses, and Scott watched Johnny like a hawk, as he mounted up onto Barranca’s back. He saw the squint to Johnny’s eyes as he checked the pain level.
” Johnny, you okay Brother?”
” Yea, it just pulled a bit. I’m fine Scott. Let’s go.”
The boys took their time on the way back to Morro Coyo. They stopped in most of the towns along the route. They would get rooms in hotels, because Scott didn’t think it was such a hot idea for Johnny to sleep on the ground. They’d go to cantinas to eat meals and then go to the local bar for just a few drinks, and then back to their rooms.
In one bar, a pretty barmaid slid up to Johnny. She attached herself to his left hip, and began her ploy to get the handsome dark haired man to take her upstairs.
Softly, Johnny said, ” I’m sorry sweetheart, I’m not interested. Maybe my Brother or friend would be happy to oblige. “
Before Johnny left, he leaned over and kissed her cheek softly.
It took the 3 men almost a month to get back to Morro Coyo. As they came into the town limits, Johnny stopped Barranca. They were in front of Katie’s house.
It was early in the morning, dawn not for another hour. Johnny knew Katie was just waking up. He dismounted and handed Scott the reins. ” I’ll meet you both at Sam’s later.”
As he walked to the front door, he reached into his pocket and pulled the ring out.
After Johnny had knocked, he slid to one knee, and his heart stopped beating as Katie opened the door.
Before she could say anything, he softly said, as he lifted the ring up to her, ” Marry me Katie. Please! “
She was now crying, as she said ‘ yes’, and Johnny slid the ring onto her finger.
Johnny stood up and walked into the small house kicking the door shut.
*** ALERT ***
” I have so much to tell you Katie. But first, I need you so much.” And he steered Katie to the bedroom.
As he began to take her clothes off, very slowly, Katie softly said ” I knew you’d come back Johnny Lancer.”
Johnny’s lips found her’s, and in between his soft kisses, he said, ” Not Johnny Lancer, Querida. I’m Johnny Madrid. Johnny Lancer has gone away and won’t ever be back again.”
As Johnny began to work on his clothes, Katie laid on the bed. She reached for him and pulled his naked hard body over hers, noting the new array of stitches.
Johnny slowly worked his hands down Katie’s body, touching her everywhere at the same time.
His touches were tickling, and Katie giggled softly. She touched Johnny’s body and felt his excitement. She moved under him, and Johnny slowly entered her body.
As Johnny made slow and deep love to Katie, her mind
thought, ‘Goodbye Johnny Lancer, Welcome home Johnny Madrid.’
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