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It Was A Quiet Afternoon 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 1,560


Disclaimer:  They weren’t making use of their resources so I did.  I’ve returned them dinged but spit polished.
Author’s note: It was too quiet in here. Let this be a lesson as to what can happen when it’s too quiet.

~*~ L ~*~ L ~*~ L ~*~ L~*~ L ~*~

Johnny was bored.  It was a quiet Sunday afternoon…too quiet.  Teresa was visiting with Audra Barkley.  Scott was sitting on the sofa reading one of those big old dusty books from their father’s collection.  A big, yawn cracking inducing one that was all ten dollar words and no illustrations…not even pen and ink sketches!  Murdoch was in his oversized leather chair, puffing on his pipe and enjoying the most recent edition of the Sacramento newspaper. Every once in a while his eyes would close and his head would drop to his chest when sleep would over take him, but the crinkling and crackling of the newspaper as his hands would move towards his lap would reawaken him.  It was so quiet you could hear the swish of the clock pendulum as it swung in its arch from side to side slowly ticking off what felt like the extremely sluggish passing of time. 

Johnny prowled about in cat-footed silence.  He had tried to entice his family into joining him in some sort of activity but they were uninterested in anything that required them to move from their comfortable spots.  They had suggested that Johnny take a ride but he didn’t want to do that, unless they came too.  Johnny didn’t know how to explain to them that he didn’t want to be by himself, that whatever he did, he wanted their company. 

Sauntering over to the ottoman Johnny plopped down and glared at his father and brother.   He sighed loudly for dramatic effect, hoping to gain their attention.  All it got him was a soft shush from Scott and a startled grunt from his father as he had dozed off yet again.

“Come on, Scott . It’s just right outside, not too hot, not too windy and not a cloud in the sky.  How about you and me going for a swim?”

“No thank you, Johnny.  You go right ahead.  I prefer a more sedate form of relaxation today. I just want to hang around the house, in the quiet.  I don’t think even wild horses could pull me from this spot today,” Scott replied in an indifferent tone, never even raising his eyes from the printed pages of his book.

If he had bothered to look up Scott would have seen the disgruntled pout on Johnny’s face.  The youngest Lancer twisted around on the ottoman, mindful of lifting and extending his feet so his spurs would not rip the upholstery on the furniture.

“How about you, Murdoch?  Would you like to go fishing, maybe play some horseshoes?  I’ll even let you win,” Johnny bribed.

“No, thank you, son.  I promised myself all week long, that if I could just make it to Sunday,  I would enjoy a day of rest and quiet. I endured all the Mother Nature I could stand while I had to be outside this week, now I’m with your brother, wild horses couldn’t entice me to change my plans today,” Murdoch vowed, as he took another puff of his pipe, sending a circle of smoke to form a wreath around his gray head.

Johnny saw any hopes of getting his sedentary family members up and moving floating away like the smoke from his father’s pipe.  Slapping his hands down on his leather clad thighs, he decided family or not, he would not waste another minute of this beautiful day in the house.  Sighing he got up from the ottoman and with a soft jingle of his spurs slowly made his way to the French doors.  On the way he snatched an apple and orange from the fruit bowl on the sofa table, it was time for an afternoon snack.  He strolled through the doors, which had been left open so the fresh outdoor air could infiltrate the house.  As he made his way to the corral, he munched on the apple.  His strong white teeth bit through the crisp red skin, releasing the succulent juices to dribble down his chin. He didn’t bother to wipe his mouth, figuring he might as well wait until he finished the extra juicy piece of fruit.

Johnny didn’t notice as he strode towards the corral that the sweet nectar seeping from the fruit onto his face was attracting bees.  When nothing but the core was left he chunked it into the corral secure in the knowledge one of the wild horses being housed in the pen awaiting training, would eat the bit of apple, happy to have the treat. 

Arriving at the gate of the corral, Johnny used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe the sticky residue from around his mouth.  He climbed onto the gate, made his self comfortable and began to peel his orange.  Several horses detecting a hint of sweetness in the air, cautiously approached Johnny.  They could smell the apple, and were curious about the bits of peeling from the orange, lying on the ground near Johnny.  Johnny was so preoccupied with his task he didn’t pay attention to the number of horse investigating the sections of rind.   

The heady scent of citrus attracted more bees.  They swarmed in on the remnants of orange peelings on the dirt first, and then they zeroed in on the tanned fingers, coated in the sticky fluid and pulp.  One second Johnny was quietly minding his own business, enjoying an afternoon snack and the next second he was attacked by a mass of bees.  The first sting made Johnny began to fling his hands about as the angry insects targeted him.  The motion of his wildly flailing arms toppled him from the top rail of the gate, his foot lifted the latch as he fell back and his weight pulled the gate open.   He was trapped hanging upside down with his legs stuck in the gate rails.  He didn’t think things could get any worse until the bees assailed the horses as well and just Johnny’s luck they assaulted the lead stallion. 

The stallion shrieked in wild distress, his eyes rolling until the whites showed.  He reared up on his hind legs, his tail swishing furiously batting at the stinging insects, which only made them more aggressive.  The lead equine shot out of the open gate shoving it, so hard, as he went through it swung all the way back and hit the fence, squeezing Johnny in between the rails on that section of fence and gate.

In his blind panic to avoid any more stings from the bees the horse zigzagged across the yard, his herd loyally following his lead.  They crashed onto the patio still pursued by the madly buzzing insects.  The agitated equine burst through the open French doors, squealed in terror at the clutter of stuff surrounding him, along with his mares close behind him.  He swung his head around and knocked the lamp from Murdoch’s desk.  Swinging around in a flustered circle he toppled the sofa table, fruit rolled around the floor, crushed into the rug by the hooves of several horses as they bumped into and tumbled furniture in a bid to find their way through the maze of household decor.

Murdoch and Scott jumped from their seats like their pants were ablaze when the stallion first exploded through the French doors.  A quick thinking Scott grabbed an afghan and tossed it over the lead horse’s head.  The horse calmed down and Scott gripped the covering firmly and pulled the animal back through the doors.  Murdoch shooed the mares together, and maneuvered them past downed chairs, an overturned drink cart, and a toppled bookshelf, complete with books spilled upon the floor to follow their leader.  The two older Lancers managed to get the stallion back to the corral where they found Johnny still hanging upside down, caught between the gate and fence.

“Johnny, what in the world, are you doing?” questioned Murdoch, shocked to find his youngest in such a peculiar predicament.

“Oh, just hanging around on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  I thought that’s what you and Scott were going to do too,” Johnny stated sarcastically with a frown that looked like a smile as he was still hanging upside down.

Scott laughed, as he removed the afghan from the horses head and slap his rump to get him moving further into the pen, followed by his herd, and then answered his brother, “That was the plan until wild horses practically dragged us from the house.”

Murdoch swung the gate closed, and then helped Scott untangle Johnny.  Johnny thudded down in the dirt, and sat there for a moment taking inventory of his body parts to insure he didn’t have any injuries.  Taking pity on his youngest sitting so dejectedly on the ground, as well as thinking about the mess in the Great room, which needed to be straightened up, Murdoch stated, “How about we go fishing boys, while the house is put back in order?”

Johnny’s good humor was instantly restored, bouncing up off the ground he hollered, “Yee Haw, finally a little excitement and all it took to get it here was wild horses!  I’ll go saddle the horses, Scott you dig some worms and Murdoch you go pack us a food bundle.”

Scott looked at his father and grinned, “It doesn’t take much to make him happy.”

“We could have saved ourselves a lot of drama if we had just gone when he first asked.”

“Well, let’s get this show on the road, wild horses couldn’t keep me from this afternoon’s activity,” Scott declared with a twinkle in his eye.

“Ugh…” groaned Murdoch, “Don’t use that phrase again!”

August 24, 2008

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