Sadly, Southernfrau is no longer with us. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.
Word Count 1,725
Mamacita Maria bustled between the stove and table as she finished up breakfast and set the dishes out. She paused to swipe back a loose tendril of hair as her eyes traveled around the kitchen. It was a large cozy room, especially this time of year when the heat released by the wood-burning stove made the temperature in the room pleasant and not overly hot as it did during the warm months.
As she sat the honey on the table Maria paused to lovingly rub it’s worn and scarred surface. She much preferred this heavy oak farm table to the highly polished cherry wood table in the dining area. The kitchen table was sturdy and durable and suitable for all manner of tasks from food preparations to eating to a work area for two rambunctious boys. Every stain, nick and scar held a memory. Maria’s eyes sparkled as the cherished memories flitted through her mind and heart.
Hearing the noise of booted feet on the back staircase, Maria hurried to dump the biscuits from the pan to the breadbasket. Just as she sat the basket on the table two little boys arrived in the kitchen. Johnny stumbled down the last few steps as his shorter legs had a harder time negotiating the descent than his older taller brother. Scott had a tight grip on his little brother’s hand and managed to keep the headstrong toddler upright.
As soon as Johnny spied the cook he pulled free of Scott, nearly tumbling over as he stumbled to Mamacita. Maria’s heart swelled as her nino greeted her with one of his devastating smiles, while his small arms raised in the well known pick me up gesture.
Mamacita bent and scooped Johnny into her embrace, engulfing him in her arms; she nuzzled his neck and inhaled his sweet baby scent. Feeling another set of arms hugging her ample waist, she freed one arm and included Scott in the morning snuggle.
“Good morning, Maria.”
“Good morning, Senor. Breakfast is ready, just let me get the coffee pot.”
“Well, let me help. I’ll take this little guy off your hands.” Murdoch lifted Johnny and strode towards the end of the table with him.
Scott in a bid to be helpful too had rushed over and pushed Johnny’s high chair up to the table, ready for his Papa to seat the small child. It was the same one Scott had used as a baby, but he had quickly outgrown it and was tall enough by age three to sit at the table in a regular chair. Johnny having just turned three last month in December was small for his age, due to a sickly infancy.
There had been many an early morning tantrum about the high chair because Johnny wanted to sit at the table like the rest of his family. Finally Grandfather Ha had pointed out that the tray of the chair could be flipped to the back and the seat pushed right up to the table. This satisfied the youngest Lancer because it allowed his plate to be on the table like everyone else’s.
“Thank you, Scott,” stated his father as he placed Johnny in the chair and positioned him at the table, as Maria put the coffee pot on a metal trivet and moved back to the sink.
“Papa, we are going to be late if we don’t hurry.”
“Scott, Ha’s stage is suppose to come in at two o’clock. We have more than enough time to eat and get to town, make the rounds ordering supplies and settling accounts before Ha arrives. Now you need to eat plenty of breakfast because we will be having a late lunch in town with your Grandfather.”
Murdoch picked up Scott’s plate and filled it with eggs, bacon, beans and a warm fluffy biscuit. He caught movement from the corner of his eye and groaned, while Scott giggled, at the sight of Johnny.
During the discussion about Ha’s arrival Johnny had helped himself to a biscuit and had decided it needed honey. The sticky amber substance was smeared on Johnny’s face and hands, all over his shirt front and spreading in a slow growing puddle across the table from the turned over honey pot.
“Oh . . . Johnny.”
Hearing the exasperation in the Patron’s voice Maria spun from the sink and immediately began clucking her tongue as she moved swiftly to the table with two soapy dishrags in her hands. She handed one to Murdoch to clean up Johnny while she took care of the spill on the table.
As he wiped at the fidgeting boy’s face and hands Murdoch announced, “His shirt and pants will have to be changed before we leave.”
Scott’s little blond head thumped down on the table. /Johnny, why do you have to be such a brat sometimes./
“Relax son, taking time to change Johnny’s clothes will not make us late picking up Ha.”
Maria scolded Johnny in rapid fire Spanish that had no true ire behind it as she retrieved another plate for him and loaded it the same as Scott’s. Murdoch finished wiping the last of the honey from Johnny’s sticky fingers and then used it on his own hands that had somehow ended up coated too.
“I need my cup of coffee so I can catch up with this day that seems to be getting away from me already.” He muttered as he laid aside the soiled cloth.
Murdoch’s headed snapped up and he bellowed in horror, “ Don’t touch that Johnny!”
The shouted warning was barely a fraction of a second too late. A tortured scream rent the air as two tiny hands grasp the body of the coffee pot instead of the handle. Johnny jerked his blistered hands back, his whole body shaking in shocked pained. At first not a sound came from his mouth, the breath had been chased from his lungs by the hurtful experience. With the release of the shriek came the discharge of a flood of tears.
Murdoch’s chair slammed down onto the floor as he lunged for his baby. Scott stared in wide-eyed terror as his father snatched Johnny from his seat and ran to the sink where Maria was frantically working the pump handle to provide a steady stream of cold water.
The concerned father held the reddened hands under the flow of cool liquid as his child continued to kick and holler. Mamacita continued to pumped water, tears streaming down her own face. Scott decided he needed to help, shaking off the feeling of frozen stupor he hurried to grab hold of Johnny’s little booted feet that kept kicking Papa in his struggle to be free.
Finally deciding the water treatment had lasted long enough Murdoch raised Johnny up and clutched him to his chest, letting him cry out his pain and fear. He sat down at the table and rubbed the tiny heaving back and smiled gently at Scott who followed and stood guard, patting his little brother’s leg in sympathy.
Maria rushed from the kitchen, leaving Murdoch to wonder where she was going. She just as quickly returned with several pieces of aloe plant in her hand. Johnny had quietened down to snubbing. The two adults carefully inspected his fingers and palms. They were relieved to see that other than a slight reddening of the skin, there were no blisters or burned skin in evidence.
Johnny sat in his papa’s lap and cuddled into the comfort of the broad chest. He whimpered as Papa and Mamacita checked his hands over. He flinched when his papa held his hands so Maria could rub the soothing gel of the aloe on them. When the ordeal was over Papa kissed the top of his head.
“There now, it’s all better. Everything’s fine now.” Soothed Papa.
But everything wasn’t fine. Now that he had calmed down he remembered what else had happened when he touched that hot pot. Johnny began to wail in earnest, yet again. The sobs racked his body, stealing his voice every time he tried to tell his father why he was crying again. His little face grew to a mottled and pied red, his nose ran as free as the tears, so great was his upset.
Murdoch was stymied. He had no idea what had caused this new round of hysterics, but if he didn’t soon find out the whole house would be having them. Scott was trying his best not to join in the cacophony of strife consuming his little brother and Maria was shedding tears as she stood wringing the tail of her apron in upset hands.
The little blond Lancer moved closer, biting his lip and trying to be brave, he patted Johnny’s little behind and then scrunched his face up in disgust as he pulled back and stared at the moisture glistening on his fingers. In that moment it became clear why the youngest Lancer was upset. Murdoch had been so distraught he had not even felt the urine wicking into his own clothes as he held the child.
Murdoch stifled his chuckle as he asked, “Johnny, did you have a little accident.”
Johnny wailed loudly, “Johnny wetted Johnny’s pants cause Johnny touched the hot pot.”
“It’s alright son. Papa knows you didn’t mean to wet your pants. I guess you learned a very important lesson didn’t you?”
“Un…huh…Johnny needs to go to the potty before Johnny touches the hot pot.”
Murdoch’s shoulders slumped and his tall body seemed to wilt and melt into the chair at the mistaken logic of his youngest. Hearing a giggle he looked up to see Scott biting his own fingers in stifled merriment and Maria appeared to be trying to stuff her entire apron in her mouth to halt her own strangled mirth.
The tall man stood up and declared, “I liked to choke the person that said breakfast is the proper way to start the day, obviously they didn’t have kids. Scott, sit down and eat. Maria, please keep mine and Johnny’s breakfast warm, we’re going to get a bath.”
Maria smiled after the two departing Lancers as she thought life would never be dull with a certain little dark haired cherub around, but my Lord she couldn’t wait until they left for town; she needed a break.
The Brat Pack Series AU
Author’s note on the Brat Pack here
My Brother, The Brat
Another Day in the Life
Breakfast: A Proper Way to Start the Day
Taking the Town by Storm
Home Again Home Again
Itching to Break Out
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Gifts of Love
The Easter Bunny Cometh
Just a Victim of Circus’Stance!
Ask and You Shall Receive
The Gospel According to Johnny
Serving Up Trouble
No More Monsters Under the Bed
Wrinkled Potatoes and Old Tomatoes
O Come Let Us Adore Him
Carving Out Fun
Look Before You Eat
Cover Up (written with Kit)