“I’m at a loss for words. Don’t know what to say to that. Really couldn’t give you my opinion just yet!” He stared at him, then down to the ground, smirking a little. “I would have to chew on it for a bit. Just sort o’ let it hang around in my head a bit.”
Frustrated his brother responded. “Ok I get the message. You do not want to get involved.”
Kicking the dirt, he sighed. “No, no, that’s not what I said. I said I would have to chew on it for a bit.” He looked up at him grinning, “Can I get back to ya on it or do ya need an opinion now, right this minute?” He stated not liken’ to be put on the spot.
His brother was upset; it was obvious, but a decision could wait. This was a delicate situation. Unfortunately, the other one did not think and he walked away.
Johnny heard a rider and saw his older brother high-tailing it out; he sighed deeply, “Damn him!”, then decided to ride out after him. Finally catching up to him, he waited and rode in silence for a bit; in a soothing voice and with kind eyes, he spoke up. “Thought I was the spontaneous one in the family?” He reined his horse to a halt and waited.
Scott just looked over his shoulder and swung his horse around. “Well, I thought I’d give spontaneity a try, little brother, see how it felt. Can’t say I knew what I was going to do though.” He laughed at his own reaction and they kept riding, “How do you do it brother, just take off like that and manage to….”
Johnny cut him off. “What get shot or hurt in some sort of accident, why brother… it just comes with my charming disposition.” His grin was a reassuring one as he tilted his head to the right.
“Guess I’d better stop and think. Care to join me?” They made their way to their favorite water hole. Dismounted and let the horses rest. Each sat under the large oak tree and waited to see who would speak first. Finally a soft voice broke the silence.
“Way I see it, you can either ignore the event, which I know you can’t do, or just hit it head on, which you can’t do either, without getting yourself killed.” Johnny threw a rock into the water. “Now I’d be willing to hire myself out to ya’, but don’t think Murdoch would appreciate me offering my services to a family member; anyway, you’d probably expect me to give ya’ some sort of family discount.” Checking out his brothers reaction, he continued, “Now, I could say I wouldn’t charge ya’, but that goes against my nature as a hired out gunslinger.” He stood up and started to skip rocks on the water as he spoke some more.
“Seems that hiring out to you can’t be done either, well… I’d have to just say that… “ He crossed his arms and turned on his heel. “Well, truth be told brother. I’d just wait a bit and see how things unfold, mind ya’, you can’t count yourself out of the equation, yet, ‘specially since you’re the center of the… uh, misunderstanding.” Walking up to and reaching to help his big brother up, he added. “Now, I’d just sort of hang around… like a fly on a wall. Quietly watching and waiting to see who swats first. Do ya’ get my meaning?” He waited for a retort.
Dusting his butt off, Scott nodded. “Little brother, you sure do shoot from the hip because for someone who didn’t have an opinion, you came up with a loaded one!” They both laughed.
“So you want to join this fly and buzz on over to the saloon while I watch things unfold?” They started towards their horses.
“You are buying brother curs’ my advice ain’t for free and quite honestly, I never thought I’d be giving you my advice given the hand at play. I swear that Murdoch might just be blaming me for this mess.”
“I’ve always said you’d be a bad influence on me, little brother!” Both mounted to ride into town. “But don’t worry. Remember when it comes to Murdoch I got your back.”
Johnny shook his head and chuckled. ‘For a bigger brother who’s supposed to be on the straight and narrow, he sure is going to swing for this one.’ Spurring Barranca into a quick gallop, he yelled out, “Come on slow poke; let’s get this dance over with. I’m thirsty.”
The brothers rode in and set their horses right in front of the saloon, dismounted and looked around. Scott was first to step onto the boardwalk and Johnny just stood by his steed, rubbing his mane. He saw Val at a short distance and smiled. Moving a bit behind Barranca, he waved Val over. Val noticed the wicket smile on his friend and frowned. ‘That boy is up to somethin’ and I better get over there before someone gets shot.’ Val hustled over next to Johnny.
“Gonna tell me what you two are doing in town so early. Don’t usually show up till much later.” He looked at Johnny a bit suspicious.
Johnny just bowed his head and smiled. “Now Val, ain’t having a particular reason to come in a bit early. Can’t you see it’s a hot day and we were just thirsty?” He wiggled his eyebrows up and down, then jumped onto the boardwalk.
Val just shuffled two steps behind him. Johnny stood by the doors, swung his arms over them and scoped the place out. “Coast is clear brother. Let’s get you over by that wall where you can wait and watch.” He swung the doors open for Scott.
Val moved over to Johnny and whispered. “Now what the hell is he gonna be watching fer?” Johnny’s smile was filled with anticipation and once again did the eyebrow jig as they followed Scott in. The three men sat and waited and drank.
A screeching voice was heard from upstairs. Johnny noticed his brother sit at attention. Val noticed the shift as well. Johnny had a smile a mile wide. Val had a confused frown and a nagging itch that something was about to happen, good or bad, he didn’t know and that made him weary.
A huskier female voice was heard heading down the stairs. Scott started to fidget and sweat. Johnny’s eyebrows couldn’t stop the dance while he rubbed his hands together. Val rolled up his eyes and swung at Johnny with his hat. “Stop them eyebrows from dancing. You look loco!” Johnny laughed and chugged down his beer. Scott just glared at him.
The show was about to start…. “Why Scott Laaanceerrr, guess ya’ decided, huh?” Scott swallowed a lump. Johnny snorted and Val still looked confused.
“Well, I’m waiting.” She walked and stood a few feet away from Scott and smiled at the two other gentlemen sitting beside him. “Boys… ” They just nodded their salutations to her.
Suddenly, they heard someone running down the stairs. Scott swallowed another lump as he heard the second girl speak. He closed his eye and wished for a California earthquake to swallow him whole, along with his little brother.
“Hum, just you wait Rosa. Go ahead Scott…. “ She looked at him shaking her head up and down, waiting. “Go on… tell her!”
Scott stood up and looked at both girls, then looked back at Johnny. “Fly on the wall huh? More like a rat in the river, drowning.” He walked over to the bar, turned and waited for that earthquake. ‘Nope, ain’t coming.’
“Um, ladies, I might have to… uh, well, the truth is… I uh…” He looked at his brother for help. Johnny sighed, stood up, and rested his hand on his gun. Scott eyes opened wide.
“Oh, hell, ok girls, see the thing is… there was some kind of misunderstanding and I do sincerely apologize to both of you.” He looked at his brother again, who was still standing caressing the handle of his gun smiling at him.
“Oh God… see the necklace you both happened to... uh, well… it’s like this… it ….”
He looked at the girls, who were anxiously waiting to hear which one of them was going to get to keep the beautiful pearl necklace he had dangled in front of them during their interlude.
Now under normal circumstance Scott could handle a well bred northern woman, but two saloon gals, ain’t likely!
Truth is he never should have been entertaining himself with one woman let alone two, but the Lancer Boys had an extra day to spare before reporting to duty after a two week business trip. Logic casted aside, he indulged his little brother’s reasoning regarding the need to tend to their libido.
That being said, well, the necklace was for their sister’s, Teresa, birthday and Scott had forgotten he had it in his coat pocket. So, in the process of becoming more comfortable and drunk with the girls, the necklace fell out. Naturally they were immediately drawn to the shiny string of pearls. Unfortunately, Scott thought nothing ill-fated about flaunting it in front of the girls. It just seemed the right thing to do, at that time, definitely not adhering to any future consequences.
So, there they stood, waiting. Scott turned and grabbed a jigger of tequila that the bartender graciously placed next to him. He drank it down fast, slammed the glass down, and sucked in a deep breath.
He did not have any trouble babbling the next statement. “The necklace was not mine to give away.” The girls looked at him confused then at each other then back at Scott. He spoke sternly. “The necklace belonged to…” He paused, looked at his brother, shifted his shoulder to one side, and quickly added the icing on the cake. “It belonged to Johnny… who was going to give it to one of you!” Ta-ta… there he said it and smiled with relieve. Please with himself he looked at his little brother, who now had the Madrid stance and gun in his hand.
Scott took off running toward the door just as Johnny started to aim his gun. Hearing some snorting noises coming from next to him, Johnny turned his attention to his ‘friend’ who was laughing so hard that he had to cross his legs to avoid peeing in his pants.
Somewhat under control, Val stood up and slapped Johnny on the back. “With a brother like Scott, I’d hate to see what your enemies might have done.” He just kept on laughing as he stepped outside. His laughter could be heard along with the sound of a galloping horse.
With one eye shut and glaring out the other, Johnny shifted his sights on the girls who were still waiting, but now they were batting their eyes at him. He took a deep breath, re-holstered his gun, glided over to them, put an arm around each one while guiding them upstairs.
“Seems I have a decision to make ladies, care to help me out?” He wiggled his eyebrows up and down at both of them while pleasuring them with his famous smile.
TBC or not.