Reading, writing and thinking. Just enjoying the drama in Johnny’s life. Read and hope you enjoy. Excuse my mistakes. Tired eyes and old age add to them.
After a grueling workweek, being at the saloon was the only peace he had. Scott had been seeing a young lady and Val had just arrested a couple of ranch hands from Bar X, so the evening turned out to be his alone night. He sat sipping his beer slowly and waiting for the night to become a bit more active, and hoping to enter into a quiet poker game. He then noticed three men that used to work at Lancer. They walked in, spotted him, and waved. He obliged with a slight wave in return. One of the men approached him.
“Hey Johnny, how’ve you been?”
“Fine Will and you?”
“Ah could be better.”
“Yeah, we sure do miss working at Lancer.”
“That so?” Johnny kept his hand low.
“Yeah, you know you were a pretty good boss. Didn’t figure we’d fine us another boss as good as you, but, well, we just had those spurs in our butts and needed to get going.”
“Yeah, that you did.”
Johnny just watched the man and didn’t offer him a seat. He waited to see if there was more the man wanted. Until his curiosity was answered.
“Hey Johnny mine if we join ya’ for a spell?” He looked around. “Mean I don’t see Scott nor Val keeping ya’ company, thought maybe we could just sit a spell and catch up. You know for old time sake.”
He hesitated at first. “Sure for a spell.” Then kicked out a chair, but kept his guard up especially since there were no old times as far as he was concerned.
“So, how’s everyone at Lancer Johnny?” Will sat and turned to his companions. “Hey Jeb, get us a beer will ya’. It’s on us Johnny.”
“Thanks Will, but I’m still nursing this one here, but I appreciate the offer.”
Smiling and tapping Johnny’s knee, Will just tried harder in being right friendly. “Oh, well, iffen’ you feel like drinking another, we got it.” The smile was one Johnny knew well. There was something brewing in that man head.
“Well, Johnny, like I said, you were a great boss. Yup, sure do miss working for ya’.” Chugging his beer, he leaned back.
“Yeah, shouldn’t of let that spur get under you.”
“No we shouldn’t of, but we did and boy let me tell you, we regret it now. Sure do.” He chugged some more beer. “Ain’t that right Jeb? We miss working for the Lancers.”
Jeb was the youngest of the three men. He shyly nodded his head agreeing with Will. Mike on the other hand was very vocal about it. “Hell yeah we miss you boss.” Letting out a huge laugh, he jabbed Jeb on the shoulder. Jeb just smiled and took a sip from his beer.
“Well boys…” Johnny started to stand. Knowing exactly what they were aiming at, he concluded the conversation. “Round up is over and we ain’t hiring none too soon.”
“Johnny, come on. We just need to get back on our feet for a bit and find us a warm bed.” Will was now standing as well.
“See Will, that’s what you should of thought of before taking off. Good night boys.” He started to walk away.
Will rushed in front of him and blocked his path. “Johnny we ain’t as lucky as you. You know to get that second chance and come into good fortune. We jus’ need another chance is all.”
Johnny stopped and looked at the floor. “Now Will, it ain’t about not giving ya’ll a second chance. It’s just that we ain’t hiring. It’s that simple.” He stood waiting for Will to move and slowly lifted his head to stare right at the man.
Mike stood up. “Come on Will. We don’t need to put Johnny in a spot. He’d of hired us iffen they were hiring, ain’t that right Johnny?”
“Sure Mike.” He waited for Will to move out of the way by placing his hand on his gun.
“OK Johnny. I understand. Thought I’d try. Thanks.” Will turned and went back to the table.
The three men sat there as they heard Johnny’ spurs jingle out the door. Will just fumed and stared at the door. “We need to follow through with our plan. Seems like we ain’t gonna get another chance.” Will threw a coin on the table. “Go get our horses Jeb.”
Jeb hesitated. “Will, we cain’t.”
“Do what the hell I tells ya’, NOW!”
Shaking his head, Jeb didn’t like the idea of what was to transpire. Truth be told, he hated it. Jeb really liked the Lancers and he hated his brothers for being such damn fools.
Johnny stopped by the sheriff’s office to see Val before heading out. “Hey Val, did this guys give you any problems?” He chuckled and landed in a chair while swinging his legs up on the desk. “Thought I’d come and see if you needed any help.”
“Since when do you offer ta’ help in arresting two idiots who decided to fight over who’d buy the first drink?” Val just kept writing in this ledger. “What’s da’ matter? Ain’t got Scott to keep ya’ company?”
“Nah, guess I ain’t enough entertainment for him anymore and he needed a different kind.” He winked at Val. “ Did get some company, but they were trying to hit me up for a job. Fools quit before thinking about winter coming up.”
“Ain’t ya’ll done with round up?”
“Yup, so their without a job. Feel bad for them, but I just know Murdoch won’t hire them back, not now.”
“Don’t worry yourself over them boys. Their choice. Their problem.” Val looked at Johnny and could tell it was bothering him. He always liked to help down and out cowboys.
“Yeah, you’re right. Better get going. Ain’t in the mood to stick around anymore. See ya’ Val.” He stood and left Val to his sheriff duties.
Riding slowly, he was thinking about those three brothers, he really wanted to help them out, at least during the winter. He couldn’t think of any ranch that might be hiring. Johnny didn’t need to be distracted that night. His thoughts were suddenly interrupted as a rope was lassoed over his head and held his arms tightly around his body. He struggled to keep his seat on the saddle and a hold of the reigns, but lost the grip.
“Don’t fight it Johnny. We got you good and tight. Jeb here is good at lassoing. Just sit tight. Don’t want ya’ to fall of that horse.”
The three brothers show themselves from behind some brushes.
Johnny was fuming. “Think this is the way to get yourself a job. Cause I gotta tell you. It ain’t doing any good to my mood right now.”
“Course we don’t expect a job from ya’, but we are expecting something a bit more from your pa.” Will stood next to Johnny’s horse. Johnny gave him a firm kick to the jaw throwing him back on his ass.
Mike ran up to Johnny’s horse and grabbed the reigns while Jeb held on to the rope. Will stood up, reached for the rope, and pulled Johnny down. “Now see. If you had cooperated, we wouldn’t need to do what’s coming to ya’ next. Grab him boys.”
Jeb and Mike went to lift Johnny up. Johnny kicked Jeb in the stomach and then turned to kick Mike who managed to maneuver himself away from the kick. He fell down again then struggled to get back on his feet as the rope was becoming loose. On his knees now, Johnny was twisting and turning to get his arms out. Will threw himself at Johnny and yelled at Jeb. “Pull on the damn rope. Pull!” Jeb hesitated, then grabbed the rope and pulled. This caused Johnny to stumble and fall once more. Mike ran up to quickly removed Johnny’s gun and threw it into the bushes. Jeb held the rope and Will swung his fist into Johnny’s face. This blow caused Johnny to whip his head to the side loosing his effort to stand again. Mike grabbed Johnny from under his shoulders as Will held his legs still. “Hurry Jeb, bring that rope over here.” Jeb released his hold and said, “Will, don’t do this.” All he got was a look of death and that made him cooperate with his brothers.
Johnny was angrier than a cornered javalina as he hit them using any part of his body that wasn’t being held down. All three men fought hard to get Johnny still enough to get his feet together and his hands behind his back. Together they managed to get him tied down.
“There. Now maybe we can get this show on the road.” Will dusted himself off then walked over to his younger brother. “Don’t ever argue with me about my plans.” He slapped him across the face.
The two brothers lifted Johnny up, one on each side him. Will was now pissed off. He walked up to Johnny swung his fist into his face several times.
Every time Johnny’s head would turn back towards Will, Johnny would spit his blood at him. “I still ain’t hiring you back.” He’d managed a snarl.
Will held back thinking his next move. He decided to continue his attack by hitting him in the gut as well. “Even if you begged Johnny, I wouldn’t take your damn offer.” He swung a few more blows at him.
Jeb couldn’t stand it. “Will that’s enough. He’s had enough. Stop!”
Will looked at his younger brother and swung at his face. “I’ll tell ya’ when he’s had enough.” Then he turned and continued his abuse on Johnny.
Mike enjoyed the physical abuse on both Johnny and his brother and would snort with every blow.
Johnny’s face was now numb from the pain and the blood flowed down his face onto his shirt. He spit out blood and coughed, but he still managed a retort. “Still… ain’t…. hiring… ya’.” His head sagged down.
Will just whacked Johnny’s legs with his boots causing Johnny to bend at the knees and fall forward, but Mike held him up.
Jeb just kept his eyes closed and felt tears starting to form. He hated his brothers more than ever. ‘Please God, make him stop. Please.’ He could only pray for the abuse to stop.
Will stopped to see his work. “Hum, well, I guess that’ll do it for now. Get him up on his horse and cover his face with the sack.” He threw burlap sack to Jeb.
Jeb just took the sack and looked at it then at his brother. The disgust he felt almost made him puke. “What? You feel like hitting me boy?” Will raised his hand, but didn’t hit him. “Keep him tied like I said.” He went to get more rope and they mounted Johnny’s limp body on Barranca.
Jeb rode on one side of Johnny’s horse while Mike rode on the other side of him, each was holding stretch of rope that held Johnny on his saddle. They had tied his legs to the horse’s stirrups. His hands were tied behind him and his head was covered with the sack.
The uncomfortable ride would bring him back and froth from consciousness. He felt pain and the tight rope around his waist would burn as it rubbed against him. On one occasion he managed to mutter ever so slightly, “Jeb… please… why?”
Jeb heard and just bowed his head and whispered. “I am so sorry Johnny.” He wanted to free Johnny bad, but his brother’s scared him to death, so he just kept quiet and sighed every time he heard Johnny moan his name.
The three men and their hostage rode under the Lancer arch, Lancer men started to run up to Johnny, but Will had a rifle pointed at him and this caused them to back off. They lingered behind as the men rode closer to the hacienda. One man ran in shouting for Murdoch and quickly explained the situation. Murdoch grabbed his rifle and ran outside. The men approached him and stayed on their horses.
Murdoch stared at them and then at his son. He noticed the blood on Johnny’s shirt, and then quickly glared at Will. “What the hell did you do to my son?” He grabbed the rifle closer.
Other ranch hands offered a display of their rifles as well.
“Now Mr. Lancer. I’d tell your men to put their rifles away. I know you could kill me and my brothers, but I can also guarantee that’d I’d have enough time to kill your Johnny here.” Will was confident and did not falter.
Murdoch stared at him for a second then gave the command. “Men drop your rifles. He looked back at Johnny who was hunched over now as the ropes were loosened around his body.
“What the hell do you want?” Murdoch tone made Jeb jump.
“We want some of that good fortune our friend Johnny found, nothing else.”
“What the hell does that mean? Speak up man, make sense and let my son go.” Murdoch knew what it meant, but he was hoping to give some time to one of his men whom he had seen out of the corner of his eyes sneaking around to the roof of the hacienda.
“Now Mr. Lancer. Seems we were foolish enough to give up a job here at Lancer and we find ourselves without any means to support us during the winter.”
“So you want your job back?” Murdoch snorted. “Isn’t this a bit drastic?”
“No sir, we don’t want our jobs back. Even if we did try to get them back, but after speaking to your boy here, seems you ain’t hiring just yet, so we decided to do the next best thing.”
“What is that next best thing?”
“Money Mr. Lancer. If you want your son back and safe, you’ll come up with five thousand dollars by tomorrow.” He gave Murdoch a sick smile.
“Let’s say I come up with that amount by tomorrow, how do I know you won’t hurt Johnny more or even kill him.”
“You won’t, but if you don’t, then I will… kill him.” Will reached over and removed the sack from Johnny’s face. “See he’s in no condition to fight us anymore and I can guarantee it could get worse for him if you don’t pay up.”
Murdoch was overwhelmed to see the injuries done to his boys face. “You bastards. Why did you think it necessary to torture him like that?” He stepped up.
“Now Mr. Lancer, I wouldn’t if I were you. Stand back or I will kill him, even if it mean you killing us.”
Murdoch sighed and stepped back while looking at his disheveled son. ‘God, how can I help you son?’
“Fine, I’ll get you the money. Where and When?” He glared at Will wanting to jump up and kill him.
“The when is … tomorrow. The where is…”? He paused and thought. “Guess I’ll just have to have one of my brothers come in and tell you that when you’re ready. Let’s say around three tomorrow?”
Just as they were getting ready to turn their horses around, Johnny threw his body over the side with all the strength left in him. He hit Jeb causing the boy to fall off his horse. Mike tried to grab on to the rope, but Johnny’s weight caused him to lose his grip as it slit and burned his hands. Johnny body wobbled between Barranca and Jeb’s horse. Being tied up to the stirrups prevented Johnny from completely falling off the saddle, but he dangled and felt the pain deepen on his torso.
Murdoch took aim and shot Will, getting him on the shoulder. Another shooter got Mike who fell back landing faced up. Jeb didn’t move and spread his legs and arms out hoping he wouldn’t be shot.
The sudden shooting startled Jeb’s horse. Stomping around, the horse moved and pressed Johnny back against Barranca. Murdoch heard the loud grunt his son released. He hurried over to hit the rump of the horse before he could do any more damage. One of the Lancer men untied Johnny’s legs as Murdoch held his body up preventing him from hitting the ground. Placing him carefully on the ground, he wiped some hair from his face. “Johnny, Johnny?” Not getting a response, he yelled for Miguel to go get Sam.
The three brothers were taken and locked up in the guardhouse. Jeb was kept separated from his two brothers who were wounded, but not seriously. One Lancer hand tended to their wounds very roughly, but good enough to stop the bleeding. Jeb was glad they had not placed him in with his brothers and just sat staring at them and grinning as they moaned with pain.
Just as Miguel was riding out to get Sam, he saw Scott riding in. Quickly telling him what had just transpired at the hacienda, Scott rode his horse in like a madman, regardless of Murdoch’s rules.
When he arrived, Murdoch and his men had already carried Johnny up to his room. Scott ran in taking long strides up to the room. Murdoch and Jelly had already removed Johnny’s clothes and were cleaning him up. He saw their worried look then walked up to the bed. Scott was shocked to see Johnny’s face. “My God Murdoch, What the hell happened?”
“Greed Scott, plain old greed.” He shook his head and continued his ministration. “Scott, help me lift him. Jelly let’s clean his side. Most of the injuries were on his face, but I fear at least one of his ribs is broken. His torso is bruised up bad and his legs got beat up some, but his face Scott, his face.” Murdoch bowed.
Scott caressed Johnny’s hair. “He will be fine, won’t he?”
“Yes, yes, I’m sure he will be. I just hope there isn’t any internal injury. Only Sam can tell.” The three men placed their precious bundle in a position they thought would be comfortable and they sat to wait for Sam.
Scott stood up angrily and was leaving when his father stopped him. “Scott, where are you going?”
“I’m going to kill those men Murdoch.” He rushed out. Murdoch jumped out of his seat and ran after his angry son.
“Scott, please. I know your upset…”
“UPSET, UPSET! Sir I am beyond Upset. I am damn angry. I am furious. I want to kill them.” He grabbed a rifle and started loading it.
Murdoch carefully reached for the rifle and held it. “Scott, you know you can’t. You know you won’t.”
Scott bowed his head and a tear started to trickle down his cheek. He leaned into his father’s grip. “He doesn’t deserve this abuse. He’s had enough. All his life, he’s had abuse. Someone has to stop it.”
“We will Scott, but not this way.” Murdoch removed the rifle from his son’s hand. “Let’s go sit with your brother.
They each sat one on each side holding his hand. Every time they’d hear him moan, they’d reassure him they were there with him. He’d just nod his head ever so slightly.
Teresa had already gathered all the supplies Sam would need. She sat in the kitchen crying. She did not want to add any stress to Murdoch or Scott. It was best she stayed waiting for Sam. Maria was there to keep her company and they both just sat and held each other’s hand in comfort.
The ranch hands were pacing up and down worried. They did not know the severity of his injuries and that had them concerned. Some were talking about taking the men out and hanging them. Cipriano managed to control that situation and just told them to wait and pray for Johnny.
Every one stood in a file as they watched Sam’s buggy ride in. The look on their faces brought him deep concern. ‘God, just how bad is it?’ Jumping off his buggy, he ran inside. Teresa ran up to him and hugged him. He gently moved her to the side and told her to follow and to bring the supplies with her. He then called out for Maria.
Opening Johnny’s door, he saw the three men sitting there watching over him. Turning to assess the situation, he looked at his patience’s body and then focused on his face. “Get out and let me do my job. Maria, come in and help me out. Jelly, do you think you can help as well?”
“Yes sir. I know I can. What you want me to do doc?”
Murdoch and Scott were frozen in place. Sam looked at them and spoke even more sternly. “I said to leave, now! Teresa, go with them.” He turned and started his work.
They walked out without wanting to leave Johnny, but knew that they’d just be in the way.
Teresa hated it when Doc would not allow her to assist. It usually meant he needed to examine parts of Johnny’s body that he did not want her to see. ‘It’s not like I haven’t seen him naked before. He’s my brother and he needs me.’ But she went straight to the kitchen and started to make coffee. It was far better than sitting and watching Scott and Murdoch worrying.
Sam walked into the kitchen and found Teresa just sitting there staring at the floor. He cleared his throat and she immediately jumped up and ran to him. “Tell me Sam, please.”
He gently placed hand on her face. “He’ll be fine, sore and black and blue, but fine.” He turned and went to the great room. “Now can you bring us some coffee?” He smiled when he saw her sigh with relief.
Murdoch and Scott were doing the same as Teresa. They sat and stared at nothing. Once more Sam cleared his throat and smiled at them. They both stood and waited. “WELL?” Murdoch couldn’t believe Sam was taking so long to inform them about his son’s condition.
“Murdoch, he is going to be fine. There aren’t any major injuries. He’ll be sore as hell and he’ll be sporting some nasty bruises, but I am relieved to inform you that he did not suffer any broken bones or internal injuries. “ He turned to get his coffee from Teresa. “Now, tell me what happened?”
They sat and Murdoch gave him the load down. “Guess I might as well go check on their injuries.” Sam stood and Scott busted out.
“How can you even consider looking at them after what they did to my brother?” Scott stood up appalled at the indication that Sam we going to tend to those idiots.
“Scott, I know how you feel, but I am a doctor and it’s my oath to help the injured.” He walked to the door and turned. “Now I didn’t say I was going to be gentle or nice to them, just check on them and don’t forget young man.” He looked at him sternly. “I love that brother of yours too.”
Scott felt ashamed, “I know Sam. Sorry and thanks.”
Murdoch and Scott looked at each other and smiled, then quickly shuffled to the stairs racing to see who would get to Johnny’s room first. The arrived at the door chuckling nervously and with relieve stopping when they saw Johnny’s eye open. Murdoch felt his heart sink and went to his son’s side. “Hey son. Don’t try to move. You’re home and safe.”
Johnny nodded a bit and mumbled. “Who won?” Scott looked him confused. “Huh?”
Johnny attempted a smile. “Race…. here. Who won?”
Murdoch laughed. “I did.”
“Oh no sir, I beg to differ. I gave you a lead start.” Scott patted his father on the shoulder.
Johnny coughed as he stifled a laugh. “Sam said I was going to be OK. Just sore.”
“Yeah, real sore brother. So don’t go off doing things to get you in trouble.”
“Can’t. Hurts to move.” He grinned through his swollen mouth.
“Johnny, do you need anything?” Murdoch held his hand.
Murdoch poured the water into a cup and thought how he was going to get it into his mouth as it was so swollen. “Here, let me help you up.” He placed the tip on his lip so carefully and hesitated when he saw Johnny hiss from the touch. “Son?”
“So K.” Johnny opened his mouth more. “I’m thirsty.”
“Sir, maybe if we give it to him with a spoon.”
“Yes, yes of course. Scott go get a spoon. Is that all right Johnny?”
Johnny just nodded.
Jelly was downstairs when Scott went to get the spoon. “Hey Scott. Think I can go up to see my buddy?”
“Sure Jelly. I need to get this spoon to Murdoch to give him some water. It hurts to drink from the cup.” Scott grabbed the spoon and motioned for Jelly to follow.
Jelly stood there and then started to walk out the door. “Hey Jelly. Thought you wanted to see Johnny?”
“Yeah, but I needs to get something first. I’ll be there in a few.” He ran out.
Scott handed the spoon to Murdoch. “Ok son, let’s lift your head up a bit and I’ll pour some water in for you. Ready?”
Jelly skidded into the room. “Wait a minute there gentlemen. I have something that might help my friend there. He put a long thin cigarette holder into the cup.”
All three of the men looked at him a bit confused. Well Johnny sort of looked through a tiny bit of an opening in his eye.
“Lookie here. You know how them calf suck the milk out of their mama. Well Johnny here can suck the water up throw this here thing and not have to move his head or touch his lip, much anyway.”
“Damn Jelly. That’s good. Let’s give it a try.” Scott went over to his brother side and nodded at him.
“Can you open your mouth a bit? Good there. I’ll just…. slip this in… there. Now try and suck it up.”
Once more Johnny coughed as the snorted a laugh with Scott’s choice of words. “Ow, that hurt. I’ll try.”
They watched as the water disappeared up the contraption. Jelly was busting with pride. Murdoch slapped him a congratulations acknowledgement on the back. Sam walked in on them and noticed their happy demeanor. “What’d I miss?”
He looked at Johnny who had a thin object sticking out of his mouth. “OK, gentlemen, care to tell me what you are doing to my patient?”
“He’s drinking Sam. My brother is drinking water with little pain thanks to Jelly.”
Sam got closer to Johnny and smiled. “Well I’ll be damned. Good idea Jelly. Good idea. Now do you all think we can give this boy some time to sleep.” He looked down to Johnny whose eye was now shut.
“Guess we can since he’s already sleeping.” Murdoch brushed his sons hair back out of his face. “I’ll sit here first. You all go and rest up. Sam you are welcomed to stay. It’s late and I really don’t want you going back so late at night.”
“I will take you up on it. Good night. Come on you two.” They walked out and heard Johnny release a deep sigh as he slept soundly now.
Morning came and Johnny had slept well all night. Sam slipped a bit of sleeping powder in the water, which helped. Scott was sitting by the window reading when he heard his brother move. Putting the book down, he went to Johnny’s side. “Good morning. Any pain?”
Johnny tried to open his one good eye, but they were both swollen shut. He felt himself panic and Scott noticed. “Calm down brother. Sam said it would get better later today. We’ll be placing cold wraps on your face to help with the swelling and Teresa’s poultries. Just relax. Jelly’s getting things ready. OK?”
Johnny sighed and nodded. “Hurts more.”
“I’m sorry brother. Wish I could do some more. How about some water?”
Johnny nodded and spoke through clinched teeth. “Prefer coffee, but waters fine.”
Sam left after checking his patient and left instructions for treating the swelling. Johnny was very sore, but thankful for everyone’s help. He was just about to fall back to sleep when he heard a loud thunderous voice coming from downstairs followed by big heavy footsteps coming up the stairs. ‘Val.’
“God Damn Johnny. And there you were all worried about them idiots. Look at what they done to ya.’” He dragged a chair and sat next to his friend. “Glad it ain’t worse amigo. I’ll tell ya’. They’ll pay.”
Johnny reached for his hand. “Go easy on Jeb Val. He didn’t want to… Will hit him too.”
Val lowered his head. “It’s not up to me Johnny, but I can put in a word for ‘em. I got to take them all in.”
Johnny patted Val’s hand. “He needs a chance Val. He’s young. Too young to pay for his brothers stupidity.”
“I hear ya’. Like I said. I’ll try. Can’t believe after all this and you still want to help ‘em.” Val patted his hand as well.
Johnny was getting tired. “Please try, real hard. Ain’t his fault Val. Dealt bad hand.”
“Yeah, a bad hand… get some sleep amigo. I’ll be back to check on ya’.” Val stood, shook his head in amazement, and looked at his friend. ‘Can’t save them all amigo. You just can’t.’
The End, for now.