Word Count 1,990
*I don’t own them. Wish I did
** A/R Johnny is 3 1/2 and Scott is 9
**This story was inspired by the 4th of July Firecracker Challenge for Lancer Fan Fiction
Three-year-old Johnny… no three-and-a-half-years-old, as he would quickly remind anyone who asked, watched and wondered when it was going to make noise.
He’d watched in awe all evening as Scott lit fireworks and threw them into the middle of the courtyard. Some made small pops, while others shot into the air making whistling sounds and filling the sky with the colors of gold and silver and red.
Each time a firecracker or rocket exploded, Johnny clapped his hands and giggled. He loved it when the ones that shot into the air made a loud bang before filling the sky with an umbrella of sparkling colors. He liked it so much that he expected it to go on all night.
That brought Johnny to his current dilemma. He’d watched Scott lite the small firecracker, throw it and then…nothing. Absolutely nothing happened.
Walking around the unexploded fireworks, Johnny frowned. It should have made noise by now.
Cautiously, he toed the unexploded firecracker. Still, nothing happened. Sighing, he looked around. It didn’t seem to concern anyone else that the object of his attention was just lying on the ground, not doing what it was supposed to have done.
One didn’t work. Maybe a lot more would.
Johnny saw his nine-year-old brother talking with some of the older boys.
Johnny sauntered across the courtyard to ask for help. Coming to a halt and planting his feet firmly apart, Johnny looked up before firmly tugging his brother’s pant leg.
Scott ignored him.
Pulling again, this time harder, Scott finally looked down at him.
“More, Brother,” Johnny stated firmly. “Make it go boom!”
“Not now, Johnny.”
Scott turned back to his friends.
Johnny wrapped his small hand in Scott’s pants and tugged as hard as he could.
Scott glared down at his little brother and pushed his hand away.
“Stop it, Johnny. I’m tired right now. We’ll do more fireworks later.”
“No! Now, Scott.”
When that didn’t work, Johnny gave his big brother a smile that usually got him anything he wanted. “Please, Scott. Help me make more noise.”
Scott shook his head and shooed Johnny away. “Later. Now, go play by yourself for a while.”
Pouting, Johnny crossed his arms over his chest. Turning, he stomped away.
Standing alone near the house, Johnny thought hard about his problem. A determined look and a sly smile formed on the boy’s cherub face. Scott told him to go play. He didn’t need his big brother. He’d been watching; he could do it all by himself.
Firmly nodding, Johnny looked around to make sure no one was watching. Walking over to the table with the fireworks, he reached up and plucked five small firecrackers and a match. He started to turn away before turning back and picking up another match.
Might need more than one.
Moving to the edge of the yard, he squatted down, proud of himself for thinking of the second match.
Johnny looked over his shoulder. Papa had told him not to play with the fireworks. Only an adult or his brother Scott was supposed to touch them.
Scott was still talking to the boys, Papa and Mamacita Maria were with the adults. No one was paying him any attention.
With a grin, he struck the match on a rock and put it to the fuses on the firecrackers. He then started wrapping the fuses together, just like he’d seen Scott do earlier.
His tiny hands worked as fast as they could, but the fuses were getting shorter. Two of the fuses were tied together when he knew he was in trouble.
In a panic, Johnny threw his hands in the air, tossing the bundle of firecrackers away, but time ran out.
Scott heard the exploding fireworks and a scream. He knew it was Johnny. As Scott started running, he prayed his little brother was alright.
Murdoch was handing out drinks when the loud bang followed by his son’s shrieks echoed through the courtyard. The glasses flew one way, and the tall rancher ran the other.
On hearing her nino screaming, Maria lost her footing. The chocolate cake she’d been carrying went flying. Not stopping to see where it landed, Maria hurriedly followed the Patron.
Soon everyone at the Lancer 4th of July party was running toward the wails. They found the small boy sitting on the ground, rocking back and forth, holding his right hand against his chest, crying.
Johnny looked up to see his father rushing toward him. Sobbing, the dark-haired boy held out his arms, begging to be picked up.
“Johnny, what happened?” Murdoch asked as he scooped the boy into his arms.
“Papa…,” he cried, tears streaming down his face, “it go boom.”
“Let me see.”
Johnny gingerly raised his hand from his chest and held it out for inspection. Murdoch frowned when he saw the small hand reddening but otherwise unhurt.
“John, what were you doing playing with the fireworks?”
Murdoch’s voice was a mixture of anger and concern. He felt Johnny start to tremble and held him closer to his chest.
Johnny knew he was in trouble, big trouble. His Papa never called John unless he was in trouble. Doing the only thing he knew to do; Johnny buried his face in his father’s neck. Sniffling, he answered in a tiny voice, “Not my fault.”
“Whose fault is it then?” Murdoch asked with a slight grin tugging at his lips. He loved it when his mischievous and wayward son said something wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t wait to see whose fault it was going to be this time.
Looking around, Murdoch nodded to Maria and the others that the boy was alright. Everyone but Scott made their way back to the party.
Scott stood steadfast beside his father, still concerned about his baby brother. The concern turned to astonishment when he heard Johnny’s next words.
“Scott’s fault. Not my fault, all Scott’s fault.”
Murdoch hid his grin. “Is that so?”
Johnny nodded; his head still buried in Murdoch’s neck.
Scott couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “Pa, I didn’t….”
Murdoch pulled a hand free of Johnny and put it on Scott’s shoulder.
“It’s alright, son. I know. Go back to your friends; I’ll take care of your brother.”
Johnny sniffled again. Things weren’t working out as he’d hoped. He never liked it when Papa said ‘I’ll take care of your brother.’
Murdoch looked at the scorched ground where the firecrackers exploded. One burnt and one unburnt match lay close together.
“John, let me ask you a few questions.”
Uh…oh. Papa called him John again.
“John, you said it was Scott’s fault. Did Scott take the firecrackers and matches from the table?”
Johnny shook his head, at the same time wiping his running nose against his Papa’s shirt.
“Did Scott hold your hand and force you to light the match?”
Johnny slowly shook his head again.
“Then what exactly did Scott do to make it his fault?”
Johnny thought for a moment. No, this wasn’t going good at all. He raised his head and looked at his father with blue eyes glistening with tears.
“I’m waiting for an answer, Son.”
Johnny buried his head in Murdoch’s neck again.
“So, it wasn’t Scott’s fault at all, was it?”
Johnny whimpered, “Noooo.” Tears started falling again.
“So, if it wasn’t Scott’s fault, whose was it?”
A double sniffle. “I make it go boom.”
“Do you think you should be punished for disobeying me?”
Johnny shook his head.
“And why not?”
Johnny held out his red hand, still stinging from the firecrackers.
“So, you think hurting your hand is punishment enough?”
Johnny quickly nodded and added another sniffle.
“You don’t think you deserve a spanking?”
Johnny was getting desperate now. If he weren’t careful, his rear-end would be stinging as bad as his hand. Putting his small arms around Papa’s neck, he shook his head.
“Lo Siento, Papa. I not do it again.”
Murdoch chuckled. “I’m sure you won’t, son.”
Murdoch pried Johnny’s arms from around his neck and held him out to get a good look at him. Johnny’s blue eyes were full of tears, his face red and puffy.
“Alright, I think you’ve learned your lesson. I don’t want you ever to play with fireworks again. Do you understand?”
Nodding his head, he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and gave his Papa a weak smile.
Setting Johnny on the ground, Murdoch took out a handkerchief and wiped the boy’s nose.
“There now.” Murdoch looked him over.
Johnny looked up with a smile that now lit up his face. His hand still hurt, but he’d gotten out of a spanking.
Murdoch smiled down at the boy. Relaxing, he let out a breath, knowing they’d averted another disaster and his son was alright.
“Come on, Johnny. We’ll put some salve on that hand and make it all better. Maria made a chocolate cake, and I know she’s saving you a piece.”
“I like cake.”
“I know you do.”
Murdoch started walking toward the house when Scott ran to meet him.
“Is everything alright, sir?” Scott looked at Murdoch and then down at Johnny, relieved to see him smiling.
“Yes, everything is just fine.” Murdoch looked at his sons. “Johnny, you know if you wanted to see more of the fireworks, all you had to do was asked your big brother for help.”
Johnny’s eyes narrowed. Setting his feet apart, he put clenched fists on his hips.
Scott paled, under his younger brother’s glare, remembering Johnny had asked for help.
Johnny relaxed his fists and moved to stand in front of Scott. Knowing their father was still watching them, Johnny tugged Scott’s pant leg.
“Brother, make more noise?”
Scott shook his head. “We’ll do it later. Alright?”
Johnny slowly shook his head, not taking his eyes off of Scott.
Scott glanced at his father. Murdoch crossed his arms over his chest and waited waiting for his oldest son’s response.
Pulling Scott’s sleeve, Johnny made his big brother bend over so he could whisper in his ear.
“Make noise now, brother. Make it go boom, or I tell Papa.”
“Tell Pa what?” Scott whispered with a frown on his face. He didn’t like the sneaky look on his little brother’s face.
Johnny gave Scott a slight smile, and his eyes twinkled.
“I tell Papa why it was your fault.”
Scott straightened up. Nodding and swallowing hard, he said, “Alright, Johnny, come on.”
Johnny grinned and turned to their father. “Brother gonna’ make it go boom, Papa.” Then turning back to Scott, he said softly, “Lots of booms. Right, brother?”
Scott looked at Murdoch and then back to Johnny. Both were smiling.
“Yes, Johnny, lots of booms.”
Johnny gave him a sharp nod and sauntered across the yard towards the fireworks table. Scott shook his head, knowing from the beginning that Johnny would find a way to make it all his fault.
Johnny stopped and turned around, a smirk on his face. “Brother, you make it go boom, and I’ll ask Mamacita to give you a piece of cake, too.”
Scott grinned thinking of the cake. Mamacita Maria was still cleaning the chocolate cake off the walls and floor.
Scott picked up two rockets and set them in the middle of the courtyard. Lighting the fuses, he stepped back to stand next to Johnny.
The rockets went skyward. When they exploded into a kaleidoscope of colors, Scott heard Johnny inhale and then start to laugh.
Scott knelt next to his little brother. Johnny’s eyes widened as he watched the light show. Suddenly, Johnny turned and threw his arms around Scott’s neck.
“Thank you, Brother. I love you.”
“I love you too, Johnny. You like the fireworks?”
Johnny nodded and looked up again. Together they watched the colors spread out overhead.
Johnny’s words said it all, “Look, Brother, you make it go boom.”
Happy 4th of July, 2019
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