Note: This was another challenge where we took a quote and wrote a story around it. It’s not written to disrespect the actor and the movie from which it was taken from. I want to thank Kit and Southernfrau for their help. A special thanks to Kit for her advice and her tips. The usual disclaimer applies.
Johnny sat looking at the straight column of numbers that had been neatly written; each total being bigger than the last. For several months now, he had been making regular deposits in the Green River Bank; in a savings account that his older brother had talked him into opening. Scott had explained to Johnny if he put his money in the account, the bank would pay a certain amount of interest in return; right now a nickel on every dollar. Well, he thought, if the idiots want to pay me to keep my money in their bank, fine by me.
He was still staring at the book when Scott walked up to the table and sat a cold beer in front of him. It tickled the older man to see his little brother smiling with satisfaction. It hadn’t been easy to convince Johnny his money was better off in a bank than in a sock stuck in the bottom of his dresser drawer.
Scott toed out a chair and sat down. “Feels good doesn’t it Johnny, knowing you have that much money of your own?” He was carefully watching the younger man’s face.
“Yeah, it does.” Johnny drawled. “Every once in awhile, Boston, you do get a good idea.” he teased.
The boys were sitting in the saloon waiting for the afternoon stage to arrive so they could gather the mail and head back to the ranch. As was their usual routine, they were having a cold beer. It was, they knew, just one of many they would be consuming: the mail coach was never on time.
The boys sat in quiet companionship sipping and enjoying the breeze filtering through the open doors and windows. The Green River Trust Bank sat directly across from the Bulls Head Saloon; giving the young men a direct view of the traffic in and out of the establishment.
Johnny was familiar with everyone who entered the bank. He watched them all in a disinterested fashion, concentrating more on his easy banter with his brother. Then, seemingly out of nowhere; two men rode up to the bank’s hitching rail. They took their time dismounting; and then stood fiddling with their tack. Both men were wearing dusters, their Stetsons low on their foreheads, their faces hidden by their collars.
Well honed instincts had Johnny up and running towards the open bat-wings as he observed the two strangers heading up the stairs to the boardwalk leading to the bank’s front door. He knew instinctively his brother was right behind him.
A woman’s scream shattered the afternoon quiet. There was a flurry of sudden activity as two of the bank’s customers stumbled out into the street. “Robbers! They’re robbin’ the bank!”
Johnny was already halfway across the street when Scott saw him drop down to one knee. The young man had already drawn his weapon, and was aiming at the front door of the bank. His first shot was a warning shot; the bullet slamming into the door frame as the two outlaws came through the opening.
The dry wood pulverized, sharp splinters of wood and lead paint exploding above the heads of the two men. A second slug did even more damage, peppering the outlaws’ faces and shoulders with dagger-like slivers of dry pine. Panicked, both men raised their arms to protect their eyes; the bags of paper money and loose coin they had been holding dropping to the plank walkway.
Quickly recovering, the surprised bandits quickly took up a defensive stance. Drawing their weapons, they began to return fire; their shots going wild.
Johnny’s aim was dead sure. By the time he rose to his feet, both men were sprawled on the boardwalk.
The first man that Johnny hit was dead before he hit the ground. The second one was wounded, his pistol spiraling away from his fingers as he went. Holstering his own weapon, Johnny dog-trotted towards the injured man; who vainly tried to reach the weapon that was only a few inches away from his finger tips.
The young pistolero stood over the wounded robber and studied him for a few seconds. He could see the grim determination in the man’s face as shaky fingers reached out towards the butt of his gun. Without thinking and with little effort, in one smooth move, Johnny drew and cocked his colt. The deadly cold click of metal against metal brought a new awareness to the wounded man’s eyes; sweat trickling from his forehead. What he saw in the former gunfighter’s eyes gave him pause and momentarily stayed his fingers.
Johnny recognized the expression on the downed man’s face. He had seen it many times before, and knew the desperado was weighing his odds of getting his gun taking revenge on his captor.
Coldly, Johnny grinned down at the man, seeing the uncertainty; welcoming the fear. “I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I've kinda lost track myself. But being this is a colt 45 and I’m standing this close and can’t help but blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?” He jabbed the barrel of the gun into the hollow behind the man’s ear. “Well, do ya gamberro!”
Johnny watched as a myriad of emotion washed across the bandit’s face. “Fear, first, and then indecision, before the man’s eyes registered a sudden look of relief. From behind his shoulder, Scott spoke up, his voice soft. It’s all over.” He placed his hand on Johnny’s arm. “You did good.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Johnny could see Val standing beside Scott. He nodded to both men, taking his time he thumbed the hammer of his pistol back into the place.
Johnny holstered his gun and allowed Scott to lead him back to the saloon. Although he would never admit it, he enjoyed the feeling of his brother’s arm around his shoulder; the way the closeness of his elder brother calmed the surge of adrenaline that pumped through his veins.
There was something about Scott’s calm demeanor that always soothed away the tension; driving the dark demons from his past into the sunlight of the here and now and making them disappear.
L* A* N* C* E* R
Some time later, Mayor Higgs found Murdoch Lancer’s sons sitting in the saloon sipping on a fresh cold beer courtesy of Charlie. Wiping his face with a handkerchief, he sat down across from Johnny and eyed the young man curiously. “I have to tell you Johnny that I was surprised that you even bothered to try to save the banks money. You mind telling me why.”
Johnny sat and quietly sipped his beer; deliberately taking his time before answering the old blow hard. Murdoch had scolded him more than once about how even if you didn’t like a man you were doing business with you still had to keep a civil tongue in your head; especially if that man was older. Yeah, the old Man had a real thing about respecting your elders. A covert, not so gentle kick to his shin from across the table reminded him to be good. “Well you see, Mayor, I figure I got a vested interest in the bank’s money,” he drawled. So I just did what any other responsible citizen would have done.”
Higgs finally stopped wiping the sweat from his pig-like jowels. “What possible interest could that be?” he asked. “If I’m not mistaken your father is still banking in Morro Coyo is he not?”
“Yep.” Johnny answered. Suddenly, he stood up. “Murdoch’s still bankin’ in Morro Coyo,” he patted the little book that was in his shirt pocket, “but I ain’t.”
Higgs looked puzzled for a second when suddenly realization dawned on him. Looking at Scott he sputtered, “You mean…?”
Scott stood up and made to follow after his brother; tossing a couple of coins on the table he picked up his gloves. He grinned down at the mayor, enjoying the confusion and surprise he saw in the man’s face. “Yep!”
Mayor Higgs sat and thought on that for a moment before quickly making his way back to his store. After he gathered all the cash he could find, he made a dash towards the Green River Bank to open up an account. After all, with Johnny Lancer looking out for his money, he couldn’t think of a safer place to keep his own cash.