Word count 715
Thanks to Doc for her suggestions and beta.
Written for the October 2020, Lancer Writers Challenger “Things My Mother Told Me.”
Sitting at his desk, Murdoch’s head snapped up as the front door opened and slammed shut. He watched as his youngest son stormed into the house, spurs jingling.
Johnny made his way across the Great Room, tossing his hat into a chair along the way.
“Murdoch, do you know where Scott’s working today?”
Shrugging, the older man answered, “No. I’m sure Cipriano can tell you.”
Stopping the dark-haired man put both hands on the desk and stared at his father.
“I gotta talk to him.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. Go find Cipriano.”
When Johnny didn’t move, Murdoch sighed, put down the contract he’d been studying, and turned his chair to the side before standing up.
“Alright, why do you want your brother?”
Calming down, Johnny straightened up and took his time in answering. “I said something this morning… and well, he didn’t understand what I said. I think he’s mad at me. I need to explain.”
“What did you say?”
“Something Mama used to say to me. It just came out.”
Murdoch smiled. “Your mother had a lot of sayings, son. Some of which I truly never understood.”
“Yeah, she had a few I remember.”
“So, which one did you repeat to your brother?”
“Scott was ragging on me about getting out there late this morning. I told him to ‘déjame en paz y sigue con tu propia matanza de ratas.”
Murdoch’s brow furrowed. “I know my Spanish isn’t what it should be, but I’m not sure I heard you right. Can you repeat that?”
“Déjame en paz y sigue con tu propia matanza de ratas,” Johnny repeated slowly.
“Son, did you just say ‘leave me alone and go kill a rat?”
Johnny shook his head. “No! I said, leave me alone and go on about your own rat killing.”
Murdoch laughed aloud. “I don’t remember that one. Where did she hear it and what exactly does it mean?”
“She picked it up down around the Texas border. They use it a lot down there and it can mean lots of things.”
“As in ….?”
“It can mean tending to some business that can’t be put off any longer, or go on with what you were doing or…”
“Which did you mean when you said it to your brother?”
“Leave me alone and mind your own business.”
“I see and how did Scott find out what it means?”
“One of the vaqueros translated it for him.”
“What did he do?”
“Gave me a look that would have done justice to any gunhawk I ever faced down and then rode away in a huff.”
“Are you sure it was translated right?”
Now it was Johnny’s turn to furrow his brow. “I don’t know. I didn’t hear.”
“Don’t you think you should find out before finding your brother?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Johnny started to turn when he heard Murdoch clear his throat.
“John, can you explain one your mother used on me more than once that I never understood?”
“Sure, what was it?
“Let me see if I got it right. Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.”
Johnny laughed, “The shrimp that falls asleep is swept away by the current. When did she say that?”
“She’d say it when I was too tired to…,” he cleared his throat again. “Never mind when she said it. What does it mean?”
Johnny laughed all the harder.
“Johnny!” Frustrated, Murdoch sat back down at his desk and picked up the contract. “John, stop laughing and go find your brother. With your luck he thinks you’ve called him a rat that needs killing.”
Johnny sobered and quickly nodded.
“Yeah, I’d better get on with my rat killing.” He stopped and then said, “I mean, I’d better find him.”
As Johnny opened the door and started to step out, Murdoch called out, “The shrimp that falls asleep is swept away by the current – what does it mean?”
“She said it when you were too tired to…”
Still laughing, Johnny answered with a slight blush, “Well, old man, it means you snooze you lose.”
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