Word Count 2,972
Part 1 of the Fight Series
Murdoch slammed into the great room – damn them, damn everyone! What the hell was going on around here now? Not home 10 minutes and most of the immediate ranch is apparently angry with ….ME! I have apparently transgressed……AGAIN! Lord, but dealing with these boys…MEN… was difficult at best…enough to kill a man!
Scott entered shortly, pausing and giving his father a long heated stare. “ How could you do that?” He’d demanded.
“What….what have I done! I just got here. I haven’t had time to do anything!“
Scott dropped into a chair opposite his father, weary frustration written all over his face. Pulling his hat off, he placed it on the floor beside the chair. Sighing, he dropped his head back and stared at the ceiling.
“Murdoch, he tries so hard….why….why can’t you…see him, what he does…. How he cares so much about what you think of him, his work?”
“What are you talking about? I was perfectly pleasant with him, I said hello, I asked him about the horses…he was busy, I’d see him at dinner…why all this fuss?“
Scott snapped upright “Fuss, is that what you really said?? Fuss?”
Murdoch was still firmly planted in his chair behind the desk, “Confound it, Scott, what is all this about?”
Scott leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees, staring intently at his father “Your horse Murdoch….,” it was just a whisper, “Your horse.”
Murdoch pushed himself straighter in his chair behind the desk.
“What about him? I saw him… he’s fine.” This time he spoke softly. “What about the horse?”
Slowly shaking his head, Scott rose and moved toward the desk, placing his hands on it “He’s sound…Johnny has him sound again, and you never said a word to him. You looked at your horse, noted how well he seemed to be walking…and what good care he’d gotten since you left, and then patted little Raphael on the head and told HIM nice job……SON!”
Murdoch settled back in his chair. “Well,” he paused…for a while, “you can’t be serious. Why John is a grown man….he couldn’t get upset about a little thing like that…I just assumed that Raphael had done a good job taking care of him, that nature had taken its course, and that his hoof was healing.”
“No, nature did not take its course…not without a persistent hand from Johnny anyway.”
Scott stood, blowing out air in an exasperated breath. Quietly he spoke, “You have no idea how hard he’s worked. He soaked that hoof EVERY day. He’s ponied him and taken him out every NIGHT so that he’d be in the wet grass come morning, mixed him a special feed to help that hoof heal. THEN….” Scott began to pace….”THEN, he reshod him….built special shoes, shoes he thought up on his own, that might help a horse with his kind of problem. Murdoch….it took him 2 days to get it RIGHT!”
Murdoch was looking properly contrite….he studied his hands, the desk, the floor. “I’ll have a word with him, Scott. I’ll go out there now…ask him all about it…I had no idea….”
“He isn’t there…he left….just gone for another ride…out…away from here, you, God, how much do you think he can take?”
“That’s just it, you never…never say thank you, never act interested in anything he does….unless, of course, you aren’t happy with it!“
“No, no, you don’t.” Scott raised a hand to silence his father. ”You say he never talks much….he speaks volumes….with what he DOES for us.”
“One day Murdoch, he’s not going to come back….and I gotta tell you…if you can’t keep him here… or if I can’t…well, this partnership of yours will fail.”
Murdoch had never seen his oldest so vehement, “Scott.”
Scott’s emotions were getting the better of him.
“No, you listen…. I know this is just a business partnership for you….you’ve certainly said it enough times! Unfortunately for us, Johnny and I, it isn’t just business. We love this ranch; both of us truly do. But, more important to us both Murdoch is….this sense of family….belonging somewhere to somebody….to you.”
Scott stood, picked his hat up from the floor, and began turning it over in his hands. “I don’t mind so much that you seem to think of us as partners instead of sons…maybe I can even understand it….somewhat…..however Johnny needs more and you’d better start seeing that. Somehow, you…need to find a way to do both, be a partner in the business end of things, and a father too ….Don’t you get it? No one has ever given a damn about him! Not even Maria! She chose her lovers over him! His biggest achievement in life is his damn GUN and how good he is with it! Not him….the man…just him with his gun!
“You HATE his gun and you ignore him.” He paused then, his anger getting the best of him; he couldn‘t stop himself. “Tell me, did Maria hurt you so badly that you must take it out on her son?”
“NOW THAT WAS UNCALLED FOR! AND IT ISN’T TRUE!”
“Murdoch, we’re your sons. Will that ever take precedence over this ‘business arrangement’ of yours?”
“Scott, what do you want me to do? He’s a grown man…..he makes his own decisions. There is nothing I can do to stop him…..short of tying him up and I……”
“Well, at least that’d be a start!” And with that, Scott stormed out.
Johnny did not appear at dinner that night nor breakfast the next morning. Inquiries were made, and it appeared he had dinner in the bunkhouse, slept in his own room but left after a hurried breakfast well before dawn, headed north to the branding camp.
Scott was furious, Teresa was saddened, and Murdoch felt properly chastised and privately determined to straighten out this latest mess with his youngest, though he had no earthly idea how.
Day two dragged on interminably. Scott was not speaking…to anyone…no one was talking to Murdoch unless they absolutely had to….and Murdoch was terrified as to what he should do or say when….well…when and if Johnny returned.
Noon showed itself with Murdoch being served a solitary lunch at his desk. Scott had not returned, choosing instead to eat with the hands. Teresa and the other ranch women were having lunch together in the cool shade of the courtyard.
Suddenly, he found himself decidedly not alone. Johnny had arrived, leaving his horse out front. He’d come in the hall entryway and headed up the stairs.
“Hey, hold on there. What’s the big rush?”
He’d turned, indecision clearly showing on his face. He looked down, then around, unbuckled his gun belt, and placed it on the hall table. He’d removed his hat, twirling it slowly in his hands. “Nothing, just getting a few….something…upstairs is all.”
“Something or everything?”
He’d waited, taken a step closer to the great room doors. ”Do you need something?”
“Just wanted a word or two with you. I missed you these last few days.” He paused and tried again. “I …I’m …I noticed my horse, Johnny. He seemed so much better…when I came home.” he spoke quicker now, “but I really looked at him just yesterday, and it seems he’s had a bite of help getting so much better. Do you know anything about that?”
Johnny half turned, looking down and smiling that small half smile, “What do you want, Murdoch?”
“I just want to know what you’ve been up to….”
“Oh, you mean have I been keeping busy…here…working?” his face was unreadable.
This was not going well, “No, Johnny, I just want to talk…”
Murdoch was lost. I want to talk to you, John, about everything….anything…I want to say I’m sorry for being so insensitive….not noticing…for god’s sake…how do I talk to you???
“That’s what I thought.” Johnny turned to leave.
“Where are you going?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes, it does. Please, John, come here. Let’s talk about this”
“Will you quit pushing me? I don’t want to do this now, and I don’t know if I want to do this ever. Just let me go.”
Exasperation reined, “I don’t know….out…”
“You heard me.”
“I won’t stay here if I don’t want to, understand?”
“Oh, yes, you will!”
“Oh, no, I won’t!”
John spit out air, turned on his heel, and headed into the hall. And then it happened. It came sailing over his head and landed around his upper body. THE ROPE.
He’d jumped and spun around, looking stunned, at his father. “Are you crazy? Get this thing off me!”
“No.” before he could really assess the situation (it was pretty absurd), Murdoch had slammed one of the dining room chairs, one with arms, behind him and pulled him into it, neatly wrapping the rope around him and the chair back.
“Hey, let me go, stop this now and let me up!”
Murdoch hadn’t answered since he’d never tied anyone to a chair before, and knowing John to be rather resourceful, he was trying to quickly determine how else he might bind him to the chair so that he was sure not to escape.
Johnny was beginning to swear rather loudly, “Damn it, Murdoch, let me up. Stop this, now! Damn it! I said let me go! What is the matter with you? Are you going crazy?”
Murdoch was not answering; he was too busy.
Murdoch was finding himself actually enjoying this. What had he thought was so hard about stopping John? This was easy…he only had one problem…what would he do with an enraged John now?
Murdoch continued to tie John down to the chair. His arms were behind him, with the knots lower than his hands, so he couldn’t reach them, “You’d better stop this now, ole man…I mean it…let ME UP!“
Then Murdoch had to tie Johnny’s legs to the chair legs because he started to kick.
“I swear if I ever get my hands on you!!!!”
Then Johnny started rocking the chair from side to side so Murdoch had to lash him to the arms, crisscrossing the rope from the left side to the right of the chair and front to back so he couldn’t get any momentum up, and tip himself over.
“John, I don’t want you to hurt yourself, and if you’d just calm down for a minute and listen to me….”
“CALM DOWN, YOU WANT ME….TO CALM DOWN!! YOU’VE TIED ME TO THE DAMN CHAIR OLE MAN. I AM NOT GOING TO CALM DOWN!!!
They’d been in the great room alone now for about 2 hours. Johnny was refusing to talk, staring fixedly at the floor. His breathing had not regulated itself, and was obviously still furious. Maria had come in to pick up the lunch plates, froze in the doorway and quickly fled without saying a word. She must have told pretty much everyone what she’d seen because no one had come near them. Murdoch had decided against a one-sided conversation and had picked up some paperwork.
“Anytime you’d like to have a reasonable conversation, I’m right over here….son.”
If Johnny could have exploded into flames, he would have.
Two and a half hours later
Scott rode up to the barn and was pleasantly surprised to see Barranca in his stall.
“Raphael, when did Johnny get back?”
“Uh, well, Senor, maybe a while now…. if he is looking for his horse….we brought him in here. We didn’t think he was going anywhere else ….today…Senor.”
Scott gave him a rather quizzical look. That was a strange way to explain things. What is going on? He headed for the house with not a little trepidation.
He’d entered through the hall entrance and noticed Johnny’s gun belt laying on the table, huh, no hat.. he hung his hat and gun belt. No one seemed to be around and it was quiet. He moved up the hall, headed into the great room, and STOPPED. What in the hell????
He moved ahead into the room. Stepping around Johnny’s hat still on the floor by the door, curiosity got the better of him. He put his anger at his father aside.
“Murdoch, something you’d like to tell me?”
Still at his desk, Murdoch replied rather casually, “No, ….oh that.” He nodded and waved a hand in Johnny’s direction, “Well, I am trying to have a little chat with your brother, only he seems not to be interested right now. Perhaps later.” He’d smiled patiently.
Scott continued, moving apprehensively toward the desk, though not taking his eyes off his brother. Huh, fit to be tied, yes, that described it alright.
Johnny did not move.
“How was your day, anything I need to know about, or should we discuss it over dinner?”
Having passed his brother, Scott turned to look at him as he spoke. “Maybe I should wash up, we can talk at dinner, I suppose…..uh, what about…” he waved vaguely in Johnny’s direction.
He watched Johnny for a moment longer. He could tell by the way he was breathing, slowly taking in a long breath, then the shaky way he exhaled it…..Johnny was beyond furious. He was livid.
“Your brother?” Murdoch gave a small smile. “Well, I think we can get him to the table from there.”
“Oh, well, sure….I’ll be back shortly.” Scott retreated to the hallway. I didn’t tell him TO tie him up, literally anyway, Jesus. Had his father gone crazy?
His father called out to him,
“Son, could you please tell Maria or Teresa they should go ahead and set the table in here. They may feel …they shouldn’t…or something.” He waved Scott off then and went back to his papers.
Johnny didn’t move.
Maria and Teresa set the dinner table and put out the main dishes. Neither of them knew what to make of things. Small talk was just that…small…Scott came back down.
Johnny didn’t move.
Having risen from his desk, Murdoch nodded toward Scott. “Let’s get your brother to the table….in case he decides he can at least eat….even if he can’t talk…right now.” They’d each picked up a side of the chair and moved it the few feet to the table, into Teresa’s usual place next to Murdoch and across from Scott. Teresa took Johnny’s place.
Johnny didn’t move or acknowledge them as they slid his chair toward Teresa’s place at the table.
His father placed several different helping onto John’s plate, sat back for a moment then decided to release his son’s arms. Not all the way just so he could move them forward a little and handle the tableware and feed himself.
“Do you think that’s wise, sir?”
“It’ll be fine. The knots are all under the rungs at the bottom; he can’t reach them,” Murdoch smiled pleasantly.
Resting his arms on the table, Murdoch leaned toward his youngest. “Anything I can get you?”
Johnny slowly exhaled, flexed his arms, then calmly picked up a tortilla. After dipping it in the salsa, the really hot salsa, he began to eat it.
Johnny lifted his eyes slowly until he was staring coldly and directly at his father.
“Yes,” he replied icily, “I could use a gun.” He’d said it very quietly, evenly, calmly, politely.
Murdoch observed him calmly back…he rose….and walked to the gun case. Scott and Teresa exchanged nervous looks, but neither said a word.
“This colt is nice, handles well, anyway I always thought so…ever handle it, John?”
Johnny said nothing.
“Well, anyway, if it’s a gun you want, a gun you shall have.”
“Murdoch, I think…”
“Now, Scott, your brother is perfectly capable of handling a gun, don’t you think?”
“Perhaps, sir…… just not at this time?”
As Murdoch passed by his desk, he paused, lifting the chamber. He deposited five bullets onto the desk, strolled across the room, and placed the gun just above and to the left of Johnny’s plate.
Johnny just stared at it. He’s lost his mind. This is just too crazy. He has me tied to this damn chair…I’ve got a gun….no bullets…..my dinner…what the hell…all because he wants to TALK to me?
Scott was staring straight down at his plate. He knew if he looked up, he’d not be able to keep from exploding into laughter…this was not funny he kept repeating that to himself, fighting for control. He dared a glance up through his lashes at Teresa, it looked like she had the same problem. Murdoch had begun calmly eating his dinner.
Johnny was not moving. Just staring at the gun. His head began to move side to side just a little, his chin jutting slightly out, and a smile started to play around his mouth, he was fighting it, but he was losing. Suddenly his shoulders began to shake.
Johnny bit his lip; no good. A gasp, a laughing gasp, escaped him. That was all it took, Scott and Teresa could hold back no longer, and they began to laugh uncontrollably. Murdoch looked up just in time to see Johnny join them and completely lose himself in laughter. All three of them were beside themselves….and then….. Murdoch joined them.
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2 thoughts on “No I Won’t, Yes You Will by Seminole”
Well this was indeed a funny way to talk to Johnny !