Warning: implication to rape. This is an emotional continuation.
Cari's patience was wearing thin. She'd been at the hacienda for one week waiting for Johnny's injuries to heal enough to travel.
Pacing outside, her thoughts were preoccupied with her Tío, Sergio, who needed Johnny's help. She couldn't think of any other person who could take his place and help her out.
Her stomach was flipping around with worry.
Johnny was watching her from inside the barn. 'Now or never, so we better let Murdoch know.'
He stepped out and walked over to Cari. "Calm down. After what you've told me, Sergio is still alive. We'll get him."
"How can you be so sure?" She had tears welling up.
He reached out and hugged her. "Come on, it's time we let the family know your story." He led her to the house.
Johnny asked everybody to meet him in the Great room and they all sat round the fireplace listening intensely to Cari's story. When she couldn't continue, Johnny would step in with his version until she was calm enough to continue. Johnny started…
"You all know that I was involved in the Mexican Revolution. Well, there were others, naturally, but one of them was Cari's uncle, Sergio. We became friends and watched each other's back. Before I was captured by the rurales, he and I would managed to create some problematic situations for some of those rurales at their camp sites." He smiled at the memory.
"There was one particular man, who was a bit obsessed with us, more so than the rest of the rurales. He was and still is a sneaky bastard." Now Johnny face became solemn.
He paused a bit then continued. "One evening he found us hunched over by a tree scoping their camp site. Like I said, he was a sneaky bastard. I was the closest to his reach and the one that got the knife in the back." He shook his head and touched his back.
"After that, I don't remember, except waking up in a cot with Sergio watching over me." Smiling he added some more. "My friend managed to get one up on the man, long enough to drag me out, carry me a few miles and find a safe place for me to recup. He did not leave me there. He stayed… and took care of me, until we could move."
Cari calmly started to speak. "My uncle told me all about their friendship and how Johnny was a man of honor with a heart to beat all evil."
Johnny frowned at that last description. "We stayed together for a short while afterwards, until we started to see how much more dangerous it was becoming."
Scott snorted, "How dangerous it WAS becoming, brother, I really don't understand your definition of 'dangerous'. I'd like for you to enlighten me some day." He smiled looking down at the rug.
"I know brother." He laughed. "Anyway, Sergio had a family. I did not." They heard Murdoch clear is throat. "It's ok Murdoch, I have one now." His father walked over and patted his shoulder. "Yes you do son. That you do!"
"Being that I was alone… and Sergio was safe, I continued my fight for the people. Sergio returned to his ranchito on the other side of the Rio Grande near a border town. It was the best decision for him and me. I never saw him again. I prayed for his safety. Sergio was the honorable one Cari, he went to take care of his family." He looked at her.
There was silence for a while then Cari continued the story. "It seemed that the bastard, excuse me Mr. Lancer." She was clearly upset. Murdoch just nodded. "He could not forget the two that got away and made it his business to find them to make them pay for their meddlesome activities. Also, he did not know Madrid was not killed, but he did find out where Tío Sergio lived and that was a start for him." Pausing, she took a deep breath.
"Our family was very united. We all lived close to each other. Our land was enough and everybody worked hard to maintain our livelihood." Taking deep breaths she hesitated for a few seconds. Until she whispered the next sentences, "Enough to share with Tio and his girlfriend, my parents, my… unborn sibling and friends."
Once more there was a stillness in the room as they waited for her to continue.
"My… buelito and buelita were gone. Tío lived in Buelito's house and we had our own little house as well. It was only the four of us. Tío and Julia were to be married. He was building a small addition to Buelos house." She looked up at Johnny watched him nod.
"We were happy, real happy until he came into our lives. Mamá was expecting a child. Guess I wasn't enough trouble for them so they decided on more." She laughed. "We were all so happy. Things were good."
She wiped the tears rolling down her cheek and straighten up to continue. "My Tío was not home. He had gone to town to purchase supplies with my father. My mother and I were making tortillas." She smiled. "She was teaching me how to…" Releasing a sigh, she slouched some.
She broke down crying. "Teresa hon, can you fetch her some water." Murdoch spoke up and sat next to Carí wrapping his arm around her. "There, there dear. You don't have to continue."
Johnny walked went to get a drink keeping his back to his family, obviously very upset.
He walked back to face the fireplace and place his drink on the mantel. Still with his back to the family, he continued the story.
"He found Cari's mother and Julia in the kitchen. Cari was in the small pantry getting more flour, when she heard some screams. Just as she was getting ready to run out to the kitchen, her mother stopped her exit. She pushed Cari back in and quickly told her and told her to stay put. Cari tried to grab her mother, but the rural dragged her back into the kitchen. Luckily, he did not see Cari."
Cari stood next to Johnny remembering her mothers words, 'Quedate quieta! No hagas ruido! No te muevas!' (stay still, do not make any noise, do not move). Her mother had an expression she'd never forget, one of deadly fear.
She continued talking. "He had immediately killed Julia. I managed to peek out and saw her lying on the floor. There was blood spilling from her body." She got closer to Johnny and he to her.
"All I heard was my mothers crying pleads. I put my hands on my ears and my face up to my knees. God I prayed, over and over in my head for my father to arrive with my Tío." She felt lightheaded and Johnny wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Cari, that's enough. You need to rest now." He sat her down.
"No, I need to finish. I need to release this demon from my mind!" She stood strong now.
"Time was moving so slow. He was relentless with my mother. When I'd got brave enough, I listened wanting to hear my mama. After a while, I couldn't hear anymore. I knew she was in heaven with our baby."
"I thought my prayers had been answered when I heard my father and Tio arrive. That was not so, my prayers were heard, but by the devil himself. My father arrived only to get killed by that demon." She was adamant to finish and shook Johnny's hand away from her shoulder.
"I heard my father yell. I peeked again and saw my Tío kneeling next to Julia's body. I hid once more and heard things being broken along with loud thud noises. They were fighting. I did not move. I stayed there for what seemed like forever. I just rocked back and forth." She had her arms wrapped around herself.
"It finally got quiet for a long time. At one point I heard some shuffling noises. Things were being moved and kicked around. I could tell that person was angry. Then I heard someone cry out my name. I did not move. I thought he knew my name and now wanted me. My name was frantically shouted louder, again. It was then that I recognized my Tío's voice." No one moved as she spoke.
"I couldn't answer him. I tried, but nothing came out. My knees were wet with my tears, I could not speak up, and I could not move. I could hear him looking for me, but I could not run to him. Eventually, I felt his arms lifting me up, holding me tight and placing my face into his neck so that I could not see the blood shed as he carried me out of the house. Once outside, he put me in the wagon. He did not release his hold on me.
It wasn't until he carried me into the neighbors' place that I noticed he had been injured. He caressed my face and reassured me that all was going to be fine. The neighbors took me in and cared for me until Tíos' returned…." She looked up at everyone.
Teresa and Jelly had tears in their eyes. Scott was now next to his little brother, touching him ever so slightly. Cip and Murdoch were by the large picture window staring outside. No body said one word.
After a few minutes, the family decided to take a break of sorts to recollect themselves emotionally and give Cari some time alone. They each went to their own area of comfort. Closer to dinner-time, they gathered again.
Trying to lessen some burdensome tension, Cari added some lighthearted words, "We shared our strength, Tío and I. We loved and learned to console each other. Tío sold the land and we moved closer to town where we started over. We became happy again.
Johnny just walked over to Murdoch and looked at him. "He found Sergio, Murdoch. He thought he had killed him, but discovered he and Cari were still alive." He hesitated with this next comment. "He also found out that I… wasn't dead. The man is crazy mean."
Cari spoke up once more. "He had us both tight up, but let me go to find Johnny. He told me if I didn't show up with Madrid, he'd kill Tío slowly and painfully and then he'd find and kill me in the same manner. He gave me three weeks! I spend one week looking for you and one week here. Time is running out Madrid!" She was exasperated.
"Wait a minute, wait… just how did you find Johnny, Cari?" asked Scott.
"When my Tío and I would sit on the porch at nights, he'd tell me stories of Johnny Madrid, which included… " She was embarrassed to say the rest. "…Well, he told me about Mr. Lancer and how Johnny… wanted to kill him, then. Not now obviously." She nervously giggled.
"Obviously, and thank God." Murdoch chuckled.
"Well, I figured, he might have found you or someone knew something about either of you; I asked around about Lancer ranch and I also followed stories about Madrid and that led me here. I really did not know I'd fine him here. Just in time, huh, Johnny?" She elbowed him.
"Oh yeah, in time to save my ass!" He laughed. "Which brings me to how you developed your ability to shot so well." Tilting his head in a question.
"Well, after… um… Tío taught me to defend myself, just in case I needed to. Didn't figure I'd be defending Madrid, though." She clutched her stomach with a laugh.
"And we thank you with all our hearts for that." Scott jabbed Johnny playfully on the stomach. "Well, Cari, I know this was hard for you, but now we know what we are dealing with. We need to come up with a plan little brother." Scott rested his hands on his waist giving a pensive look then spoke up.
"Teresa how about you prepare some first aid supplies for us. Cip, can you go fetch five of your best men? Jelly how about you check out some supplies for a two-week trip? Murdoch, where's that map you have of California?" Lt. Lancer was now in charge.
Johnny was amused and proud at his brother. "What about me brother? What orders do you have for me?" He saluted Scott.
"You John, will have dinner and then go rest. You still have some more healing to do." He saluted back. "At ease, now march."
"In your dreams big brother, I say we put our heads together on this one." So the plan began, after dinner of course.