Word Count 737
Thanks to Debbie Lenart for the beta!
Scott Lancer stood within the doors of the barn and let his eyes adjust to the bright, California sunlight. Taking off his hat, he wiped his brow with his shirt sleeve. From the position of the sun, it still wasn’t quite lunchtime. The sound of metal striking metal caught his attention. To his right, his father, Murdoch, was working on some horseshoes at the forge. Across the way to his left, Johnny was sitting on the fence rail, chewing on a piece of hay.
“Hey, Brother, what are you doing?” Scott called out as he walked to his brother.
“Watching, or as you would say, observing” replied Johnny as he nodded toward Murdoch. Scott arched an eyebrow, crossed his arms and leaned back against the corral. Knowing his brother, Johnny would expound upon his answer in his own time. “Yesterday, Eduardo and I rode in from checking out the creek. His kids swarmed all over him like flies before a rain. He couldn’t brush them off without them sticking back to him.” Johnny looked at Scott. “You know he’s got those two half-pint boys.”
Scott nodded, “Yes, I know.”
“Well, anyway, they were standing on his boot tops and tugging at his belt. Eduardo just laughed, bent down and kissed the top of their heads and then they all headed off to their house.” Johnny leaned over to look Scott in the face. “I guess I was staring or something because Cipriano came up and said the strangest thing. He said that Murdoch came from a cold place and was a proud jefe. Said I should watch what our father does instead of just hearing him talk.”
Scott nodded, “Actions speak louder than words.”
“Yeah, that’s it!” Johnny’s face brightened. “So that’s what I’ve been doing…watching.” “Seen anything yet?” Scott asked.
“No, but I’ve been thinking. Usually Murdoch is the last one to go to bed and some nights I hear him walk past my door then stop. I’ve heard my door open and then close quickly late at night sometimes. You know, I’ve wondered what that was all about. What do you make of that, Scott?” Johnny questioned his brother.
Scott slowly nodded. “That has happened to me, also. When I was younger, I heard some of my friends talking. They said their father checked on them at night to make sure they were okay.”
“Really? You reckon that’s what Murdoch is doing, Boston?”
“And you know, Johnny, Murdoch always makes sure he keeps our preference for liquor on hand.”
“Yep, that’s true. He isn’t too fond of brandy or tequila, but he knows we like it. And what about that fuss he made the other day about wanting his sons with him at the Cattleman’s meeting next month in Stockton?” Johnny started to say more but instead, he nudged Scott’s shoulder with his knee and pointed with his chin toward Murdoch. Their father was walking toward them holding a horse shoe.
“Boys, I want to show you what I’ve been working on today,” the big man’s voice boomed as he held out a horse shoe to each son.
“Well, Sir,” Scott hefted the iron and glanced at it, “it looks and feels pretty good.” “No, son, turn it over, look at what I put there,” Murdoch spoke with pride.
Johnny and Scott turned the shoes over and looked at the horse shoe they were holding. Each shoe had that particular son’s initials forged in the iron; SL and JL.
“Hey, that’s what you’ve been working on all day, Murdoch?” Johnny asked.
“Sure is”, Murdoch, exclaimed. “‘Bout time both of your horses needs shoeing and we’ll put one of these on their front right hoof.”
“That’s very nice, Sir,” Scott replied diplomatically. “But could I ask what made you think of this?”
Murdoch placed a hand on each son’s shoulders. “I always want to be able to find you.” The big man took each shoe and headed back to the forge. He shouted over his shoulder, “You two better go get washed up, it’s about lunch time. Tell Maria I’ll be there in a minute. I just need to clean up a bit.”
Johnny jumped down from the corral and started walking toward the house. Scott slowly followed behind him. Johnny stopped and then turned to Scott.
“Actions,” the young dark-haired man announced.
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