An episode tag for The High Riders/Homecoming, from the Fear challenge on Lancer Writers
Word count: 1,297
The night after the contract was signed, the moon rose on the quiet Lancer ranch, knowing full well that it was not as quiet as it seemed.
I’m too scared to sleep. It feels like the night daddy and Murdoch went after Pardee’s horse thieves.
I’m afraid of so many things. What will I do if Scott and Johnny don’t like me here and convince Murdoch to send me away? What will I do? Lancer is the only home I’ve ever known and Murdoch is my only family.
What will happen if the boys hate Murdoch or this life? It will destroy Murdoch if they leave. What will happen then?
STOP! Stop now, Teresa O’Brien, don’t think negative thoughts. Think instead that your life is in your hands. Keep calm and do what you’re good at. I have to be positive.
First thing tomorrow, I’ll make a chocolate cake. That first night Johnny loved the cake. He didn’t say anything, but I could see the pleasure in his eyes.
Alright, now that I have a plan, I can sleep. I have to believe tomorrow will no longer be afraid because everything will be alright.
What’s the matter with me?
Everything today went well; the partnership documents were signed and Johnny didn’t run away as I feared. So why should I be afraid now?
Let me think about that: One, I have a father who has certainly not been welcoming or talkative and certainly hasn’t explained why he left me in Boston. Only that cold and hard, ‘I left you in their hands. Period.’ Two, I have a home or, better, a ranch, but here’s the question. What do I know about ranching, roping, branding, and more and more of these new words I never heard before? How can I command men who know more than me?
Last but not least, I found a brother, a legendary brother. While he was laid up, with Pardee’s bullet in his back, all I heard about him is that he’s the best at everything. He appears to best with horses, a horse whisperer or mustangero as the vaqueros call him. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds impressive.
My new brother is a very good cowboy and wrangler if I can trust the old cook. He says he met Johnny when my brother was 10 or 12. The boy was already a hero, stopping a stampede and saving the boss’s life during a cattle drive from Texas to I don’t know where.
And then, but maybe more important, he’s a famous pistolero who goes by the name of Johnny Madrid. Madrid fought and nearly died in a revolution in Mexico. He was fighting the Rurales, a very bad sort of police, for only meals and a roof over his head.
Of course, if I listen to the ranch hands, they know him as a cold-blood killer that sells his gun for money. A lot of money. A killer, maybe, but always the best.
How can I make something good here?
OK. Ok Lieutenant Scott Garrett Lancer, STOP all these stupid lucubrations and began to think clearly. You know the fear, but you know that you’re always the best, too; on the top in Harvard, you excelled in all classes. You were the youngest Lieutenant in your unit in the war, and you survived Libby prison.
Now, I have to do what I’m so good at. Learn what is needed and become the best.
With this purpose, Scott closed his eyes, dreaming a new life.
Dios, I’m so tired I can’t sleep.
Today was a long but good day. The old man took us to the lawyer’s office to sign the contract. He even surprised me by giving me a choice, Madrid or Lancer. I didn’t understand why but it felt really good. I signed Lancer. From the smile on his face, I guess he was happy.
Why do I have this annoying feeling that it won’t let me sleep and what is it? Who am I kidding? I know very well what it is. It is fear, a gripping fear and I know why too.
Nothing good ever lasts for me. I’m scared my father won’t want me here with my dark past and dangerous reputation.
Madre de Dios, how can I blame him? I won’t be able to fit in among all these decent people. I have no manners or education. I’m wild, aggressive, and sure don’t like taking orders.
I‘ve hated the old man for so long that I don’t know how to stop and I know he feels it.
Then I have a brother, a rich gentleman from the east, all full of quality. He’s educated and studied in one of them fancy schools. I can barely read and write.
He’s polite and used to be with people too.
On top of everything, he was a brave Lieutenant in the Civil War. I could bet he also received some medals. I can see him giving orders and being respected by our father’s men. How can they respect me knowing who and what I am? He is el hijo perfecto del jefe y yi el pistolero mestizo. GREAT.
What if he’s ashamed of me?
What if both Murdoch and Scott are ashamed of me?
Detengase aqui! Stop it now! Johnny Madrid Lancer, you’ve fought all your life and you have never run away from a fight. Now you’ve found something important. You have to do what you have done so far, fight! Don’t forget that, how the Indians say, tomorrow will be the first day of the rest of your life.
Let’er buck Johnny Madrid.
And with these thoughts, Johnny slipped under the sheets waiting for a new day.
I’m too excited to sleep.
Today everything went in the way I’d dreamed.
As I hoped, Scott signed without hesitation and with a smile on his face. I wasn’t so sure about Johnny, but I think he understood the opportunity I gave him to sign with the name of Madrid. I was amazed and grateful when he signed with our name, Lancer.
So why can’t I sleep?
I know why. I know that feeling very well. I felt this fear when Katherine died and when Maria ran away, taking johnny with her.
There are so many things that feed my fear. Johnny hates me so deeply I don’t know how to approach him, what to tell him to explain that I didn’t throw him out, that I searched for him.
Scott is calmer, but he must also wonder why he did not grow up here with me but in Boston with his grandfather.
Chances are they don’t stay. Scott has a comfortable life to go back to. Johnny…. Who knows what that boy thinks. I‘m so scared.
And what of Teresa? What if she and the boys don’t get along? The girl is like a daughter to me.
Stop it, Murdoch. Stop it immediately.
If you think about it, you know that it’s not the first time all has gone wrong. There were problems while building the ranch: Indians, land pirates, droughts and floods, and more. Yet, over time you have built the largest estancia in San Joaquin Valley.
Now you need to do what you’re good at, build. That’s all. From nothing, you must build a family. It will be hard work, maybe too hard at times, but with tenacity and perseverance, you can do it. I’m not giving up without a fight.
With this promise made, Murdoch turned the lamp off and said a prayer asking for help for the following day.
The moon went down, taking fears with it and the sun rose on a new day for Lancer.
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