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Eyewitness to a Full Moon by Southernfrau

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 2,400

This is for the ‘write an eyewitness report’ challenge.
Author’s note: Nudity alert. If this offends you don’t read it.
Author’s note 2: This is the expanded version, including Kit’s retort and ending with my reply.


Val Crawford stood, lower half of his face covered by his rumpled and greasy looking bandana, surveying the destruction of what used to be one of the city’s public outhouses.  Despite the piece of cloth, he could still smell the urine and fecal matter and his nose crinkled in disgust.  Kicking at a splintered board, he walked a wide path around the debris until he returned to what had been the front of the small wooden structure. 

Taking off his hat and fanning his face, Val sucked noisily at his teeth, and then turned; his eyes narrowed to slits, dark with accusation as he growled menacingly at Johnny Lancer, “Tell me how you managed to blow up an outhouse!”

Shifting nervously, the chains of the wrist manacles rattled loudly, making Johnny wince.  He wanted to wrap his arms around his torso but the cuffs prevented that habitual bit of self-comfort.  He settled for drawing circles in the dirt with the toe of his boot.  “Val…it’s like this…well…awww….come on, it wasn’t even my dynamite,” Johnny complained, pointing at the ruined building and rolling his eyes at just how whiny the statement had sounded, even to his own ears.

Thumping Johnny on the head with two knuckles, the Sheriff spat, “I don’t give a good hot damn whose dynamite it was…you threw it.”  He finished by poking a dirt smudged index finger into Johnny’s chest.

Gesturing as wildly as he could with his wrists bound by metal, Johnny protested, “The only reason I threw it was to keep it from blowin’ up the saloon.”

Swatting Johnny with his hat, Val pointed out, “You shouldn’t lit it, in the first place, ya dern fool.”

Agitated beyond his endurance, Johnny jumped up and down and shouted over the loud clang and rattle of the chain.  “I didn’t light it!  All I did was catch it and throw it off the balcony of the saloon after the town drunk, Paddy O’Hare, tossed it up there.  WHAT THE HELL DID YOU WANT ME TO DO, LET THE SALOON BLOW UP?”

Scratching at his disheveled hair, Val jammed his hat down on his head, took a deep restorative breath, pulled the bandana off and calmly replied.  “What say we both just calm down…now start from the beginnin’ and tell me what exactly happened.”

“I was upstairs with Cherry,” Johnny began.

“Does your daddy know you’re in town in the middle of the day?” Val inquired, knowing what a short leash Murdoch tried to keep his youngest son on.

Stomping, Johnny snapped, “Damn it, Val do you want me to tell you what happened or not?  For your information he sent me to town for some supplies, I was just bidin’ my time while the order was bein’ filled.”

Smirking evilly at Johnny’s aggravated stance, Val stated, “Well go on then; tell your story.  I can confirm things later with Murdoch.”

“As I was sayin’,” Johnny paused, waiting to see if he would be interrupted again.  “I was upstairs with Cherry when Paddy O’Hare came and stood in the middle of the road shoutin’ at his wife upstairs.  Seems, Luna finally had enough of livin’ off whatever scraps where left after Paddy bought his whiskey every week. So she left him and got herself a job in the saloon.”

“I done heard about that last week,” Val remarked, staring up and down Johnny with an disinterested eye in this bit of information.  “What’s it got to do with you blowin’ up the privy?”

Lifting his manacled wrists and digging at his hair with wild agitation, Johnny barked, “It’s got every damn thing to do with it.  Paddy was out here hollerin’ at her to come home and do the cookin’ and cleanin’ and when she refused he lit the stick of dynamite and threw it up here.  I had just stepped out on the balcony when it came sailin’ over the railin’.  I caught it midair and tossed it up and over the roof, aiming for the field behind the hotel.”

Snorting, Val commented, “Didn’t it occur to you to just pull the fuse out?”

“Jesus Christ, Val.  I had just caught a lit stick of dynamite in my hand…the only damn thing I was thinkin’ of was gettin’ rid of it!”  Johnny paced away from the destroyed outhouse, the smell beginning to get to him.

Val took Johnny by the elbow and led him to sit on the back steps to the saloon and removed the handcuffs.  “So what happened next?” he asked as he sat down beside him.

“All I can tell you is what I witnessed,” Johnny replied.  He turned to Val and his face seemed to pale as he shook his head.  “What I saw next almost made me want to pluck my eyes out…cause I was so offended.

~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~

Johnny’s eyes widened as he realized why the red stick in his hand was sizzling.  “DYNAMITE!”  He screamed as he reared back and threw the lethal explosive up and over the roof of the saloon, praying it would land in the open field behind the establishment before it detonated.

Rushing to the end of the balcony so he could peer through the alleyway and see where it landed, his stomach roiled with dread when he realized the path to the field was blocked by one of the public facilities.  Not only that, but Mayor Higgins was moving towards that very building at a fast trot.

All of a sudden it felt like world slowed down for a span of a few seconds, the spinning stick of dynamite slowed down and began to drop as it flew over the outhouse. At the backside edge of the roof the fuse ran out and the world exploded back into utter chaos with a loud BOOM!

The roof of the privy shot upward, the four walls exploded outward, revealing the Widow Hargis, her dressed hiked up and her bloomers around her ankles.  The force of the blast knocked her off the wooden seat, and tumbled her down the steps; she rolled in a series of three bare ass over elbows summersaults down the alleyway towards Mayor Higgins.  The Widow collided with the stunned Mayor’s legs.  Her repetitive tumble ended with her head on the ground shrouded by the skirt of her dress, her bare butt pressed against Higgins’ knees.  It was a blessing she had already wiped before her spectacular exit from the outhouse.

~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~

Choked snickering drew Johnny back from the recollection of the horrific incident of terror.

“Oh sure, laugh it up, my amigo.  I thought my eyes were gonna turn around backwards in my head to get away from the sight,” Johnny announced.  “You have to see, none of this is my fault.”

“I agree but when I talked to the Widow Hargis at Doctor Jenkins office, she was  madder than a wet hen and demandin’ everybody involved be arrested,” Val revealed, chuckling, he added, “And the Mayor hasn’t been able to quit throwin’ up long enough to tell me what he wants me to do.”

Deep in conversation, neither Val nor Johnny saw the Widow approaching, her broom held high in the air and ready to strike.  Johnny took several hard whacks to his head as Hargis shrieked about his evilness before Val was able to wrestle the broom away from her.

“Why haven’t you arrested this boy for destroying public property,” the Widow demanded, her chest heaving with righteous indignation as she tried to retrieve her broom.

“It ain’t his fault,” Val growled as he avoided her lunges for the broom.  “If you don’t calm down, you’re gonna be sittin’ in a cell right next to Paddy O”Hare.”

Sputtering and spitting, Mrs. Hargis retorted, “You have nothing to charge me with.”  She harrumphed and smoothed her dress with her gnarled hands and shot him a condescending smirk.

Slapping the manacles Johnny had been wearing on the widow, Val crowed, “Yes ma’am I do, indecent exposure as in public nudity and the assault of Johnny Lancer.”  Turning back towards Johnny as he led the protesting woman away, Val called over her screaming, “Don’t forget to come by my office to sign the report once I get it filled out.”

“Do I have too?” Johnny asked, not looking forward to reliving the terror again.

“Yep, you have too, you were an eyewitness,” Val stated, as he frog marched his prisoner towards the jail.

“Eyewitness to a full moon,” Johnny mumbled, squeezing his eyes shut as the image burned once more.

~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~

Murdoch Lancer’s face was a deep shade of plum; the usual color when he was shouting at his son.  Hand on his chest (he was sure this was going to be the big one that finally did him in) he pinned the boy in place with the look.  “WHAT?” he roared.

Johnny cringed, and then dissolved in a fit of giggles.  The single word his father had just bellowed rhymed with a very foul word he was certain would put the Old Man in his grave.  Wasn’t his fault it came to mind; nope.  It was Scott that had taught him that particular piece of poetry; just like the one about “There was a man from Nantucket”.  Yeah.  It was Scott’s fault he was thinkin’ rhymes.

“I asked you a question,” Murdoch snapped.  “I expect an answer.”

Johnny considered his options.  He sure wished the Old Man would quit hollerin’.  He had one hell of a headache; damned near as bad as the one he’d had after he and the Simmons’ twins had gone fishing up at the pond.  There had been dynamite there, too.  Not that he was going to bring that up.  He sucked in a breath.  “I kinda blew up an outhouse,” he confessed.  No point in avoiding the issue when it looked like there might actually be a trial.  More giggles.  He could see it now; the Widow Hargiss up there in front of God and everybody, explaining her indecent exposure.

Murdoch’s eyes narrowed.  “Kind of?” he echoed.

“Not my fault,” Johnny answered, raising his right hand.  “Honest.”  Well, maybe the part where he couldn’t keep a straight face when he was telling Val what had happened.  He bit his lip to stop the laughter.  “Look, Pa,” always good to slip that in there sometimes, “Val’s got it all down.  Everything.  Even the part about seein’…” he shuddered, “well, seein’ the Widow Hargiss’…”  He couldn’t continue.  That damned word that rhymed with what assaulted his brain again.    Giving up, he threw up his hands.  “Val will explain it.  He’s comin’ to supper.”

Murdoch debated pursuing the matter and then decided quite simply he really didn’t want to know.  “Well, as long as you brought home all the supplies,” he muttered.  Sometimes it was just better to be thankful for small blessings.

Johnny was already headed for the kitchen when he stopped dead in his tracks.  “Pa, about the supplies?”

~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~

Murdoch clenched his jaw, pressing his lips together so tight his eyes narrowed to mere slits.  He was well aware his youngest had taken to calling him Pa when he thought he might be in trouble.  A ploy he was reluctant to do anything about because it thrilled his heart every time he heard the appellation.  “What about the supplies,” he paused, grinding his teeth with enamel cracking intensity, “Son?” he finished, breathing deeply as he fought the urge to throttle the boy.

Shrugging and biting his lip to stop the grin itching to pull across his mouth, and then raising a hand to scratch nervously at his neckline, Johnny rushed to admit on a huffed breath, “I ain’t got them.”

Slamming the desk drawer he had been rummaging in when Johnny returned, Murdoch dropped back down into his chair.  He was aggravated beyond words and could feel the headache pounding on the back of his eyes, struggling to get out.  Cognizant of the fact Scott was in Stockton and therefore not available to play diplomat, he kept his response to Johnny, succinct but terse.  “You get right back in that wagon and go buy those supplies like I instructed you this morning.”

Swallowing the apprehension tainting his mouth, Johnny shrugged again, wincing as he recalled the action was one of his father’s pet peeves.  The tip of his tongue appeared at the right side corner of his mouth and quickly moistened his lips before darting back inside.  He shifted his weight from his left to his right leg, shuffling his feet as he confessed. “I bought the supplies…I ah…I just don’t have them with me.  I…I need to get another wagon and team of horses,” he stalled as he stared at his father’s head which was not only turning an incredible shade of blue but also seemed to be expanding in size.  His eyes widened as drool leaked out onto his father’s chin, he wondered if perhaps Murdoch’s anger had truly reached boiling point and the spittle might turn to steam.

Baring his teeth in a grotesque facsimile of a smile, Murdoch braced his hands on the polished desk top and leaned towards his youngest, and enunciated his words slowly, “What happened to the wagon?”  I don’t know why I’m even asking, there’s no way in Hell I’m going to like the answer.

Going as still as a marble statue, Johnny studied his father’s face.  I think I better explain this faster than I can draw my gun, and then get the Hell out of here.  Taking a deep breath and sucking in enough air to power his explanation, Johnny said, “The noise from the dynamite scared a family of skunks under the porch of Baldamero’s, they sprayed our horses, the horses bolted, the tongue of the wagon broke and it crashed into the town fountain, the horses are gone, the wagon is destroyed, the supplies are wet and stinky.”

Murdoch blinked when he opened his eyes Johnny was gone.  He sat back down in his chair, the rage he expected never came…instead he caught the case of giggles Johnny had earlier.


Southernfrau, with Kit retort
May 2010 

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