Scott had known he was going to California almost as soon as the shock at receiving the invitation in the first place had worn off. His life had become stale of late and that added to a growing curiosity about the man he guessed he should call “Father”, stirred a nagging need in him to start afresh. He had no idea if moving across the country was the answer but it was definitely worth a try.
The journey was long and tedious but by turning his attention to the ever-changing landscape, Scott had been able to push the apprehension he was feeling to the back of his mind. He had seen the lush green fields and rolling hills change first to flat plains and then to the ruggedness of the Colorado Rockies as he watched and marveled at the country of his birth.
During this time, Scott had pushed his apprehension and many questions to the back of his mind. He had been determined to simply enjoy this new adventure, as there would be plenty of time to address his anxieties later. So that was exactly what the young Bostonian had done as he traveled closer and closer to the answers he sought from the man he had waited so long to confront.
~*~*~*~*~*~ L ~*~*~*~*~*~
The past few days, however, had been anything but exciting or comfortable, for that matter. Traveling by stage held no romance or excitement what so ever. Passengers were wedged into the narrow coach with little room to maneuver around in hopes of achieving some relief to aching muscles. There were no plush seats, only hard benches that tortured ones backsides while the coach bounced along rough roads; sometimes creating a path where one didn’t exist.
After only a few hours aboard the coach, Scott found himself covered in layers of dust. No amount of brushing would keep it at bay. The heat was oppressive and friendly conversation was soon abandoned as they tried to simply concentrate on staying in their seats, while trying to keep the dust from coating the inside of their mouths.
It was only on this last leg of the journey that the young man had finally allowed himself to ponder the many questions he had pushed to the back of his mind at the beginning of his travels. The one question that was foremost in his mind was why? Why had his father abandoned him all those years ago? Scott’s emotions had been competing with each throughout the trip. Ever since the letter from his father had arrived, anger, hurt, fear, and curiosity had all been vying for first position.
As a young boy Scott had made up stories to fill the void that his absent parent had left. He wanted to tell the same kind of stories that his friends were always sharing. His favorite was that his father was a famous lawman out west and he lived a dangerous life. Therefore, he had Scott living with his grandfather in order to keep him safe from the outlaws who wanted revenge. These stories usually materialized after Scott had watched his friends with their fathers, spending time together doing all the things Scott wished he could do with his own.
As the years had gone by it became harder to tell the stories as he could no longer believe them himself. And so with each year that passed, his grandfather’s opinion of his only surviving parent seemed to be more realistic than what he had wanted to believe as a child.
Finally, after Scott had grown into a young man he had begun to think less and less about the infamous Murdoch Lancer. The only exception had been the year he had spent in Libby Prison. There, escape had been a constant thought-the how and the why, filled his dreams. And so when things would get unbearable for the young lieutenant, he would let himself escape into a world where his father would ride in and spirit him away from his living hell.
In his dream he would often be riding in an open field with no barriers to keep him prisoner. His grandfather had once told him that Murdoch Lancer lived in a hacienda, as if that alone, made the man unfit to raise a child. Scott had looked up this Spanish type of home and found it to be a pleasant style of architecture. So in his dream he would imagine his room in a large hacienda with lots of windows that would be kept open all the time allowing clean fresh air to fill the place continuously. In the room there was always clear sweet water to bathe with as well as drink. He could almost see it sparkle in the light feel the soft ripples against his skin. At every meal there would be piles of fresh vegetables and fruits. Meat of all varieties would be offered. The bread was always fresh and hot with creamy butter to spread lavishly on each slice.
Then something would happen to make him aware of his deplorable surroundings and he would realize it had been nothing more than a disappointing dream: a dream he’d been certain would never come true. However, as pleasant as the dream was, it seemed that each time he went to that special place of escape it became harder and harder to return to the harsh realities of his imprisonment. Instead of the luxury’s he indulged in during his dreams Scott found himself having to face the rancid water and maggot-infested food. The prisoners were housed in a large one room dwelling that boasted of only two windows making the air stale and harsh for the men to breath.
So, now as he sat on this disgustingly uncomfortable stagecoach, he thought about the past twenty-four years of his life. In all the years that had passed there had never been any contact that he was aware of from his father: nothing, not one single word. On more than one occasion Scott had wondered why it was that even with no contact during all those years that in his dreams it was always his father who came to his rescue. Was it because he possessed a deep held desire to have a father who cared and loved him? In the back of his mind Scott knew he still had that little boy need to be accepted by the man who had been absent all of his life; to be wanted, loved and cherished like any son should, by their parent. Scott knew his grandfather loved him in his own way, but never had there been any open display of affection or show of pride in the young boy. Maybe it was these things that Scott was hoping to find by answering Murdoch Lancer’s summons.
Thinking back to shortly after he had been released from prison, he remembered that as much as he relied on those dreams as a sort of release from the horrors surrounding him it had not taken him long after returning to Boston to once again push any thoughts of his father out of his mind. Days had been filled with trying to make a place for himself in his grandfather’s business. Unfortunately, Scott had possessed none of the ruthless and unscrupulous qualities his grandfather felt were a requirement to be of any use to the company.
Scott had known he was a disappointment and that old Harlan had only tolerated him because he was his grandson. But Scott would not apologize for lacking those qualities. He believed that you needed to work hard and fairly for your gains in life and not obtain success at the expense of others. The old skinflint had given the young man only tedious, mind numbing work just to give him a place. It had quickly become crystal clear that his future was going to be dull and unfulfilling as far as a life’s work was concerned.
So Scott had pursued more amorous activities at night with various young ladies of Boston Society. Though it filled a void temporarily, it had failed to give him any sense of purpose. Therefore when the invitation came from his father, Scott had grabbed at the chance to escape from his life of drudgery and pointless pursuits.
Now here he was on his way to a new life. One he hoped would be more fulfilling than the one he had left behind.
For the last several hours, Scott had clung to the window trying to avoid colliding with the Padre’, who shared the seat with him. It seemed that the road was riddled with potholes and ruts, with the driver having an uncanny talent for finding each and every one.
With every mile the stage rolled past, Scott found himself becoming more apprehensive about what lay ahead. He was also tired and sore from the coach lurching from one side of the road to the other. Yet, the closer he got to his final destination the more he could feel how wild and untamed this country was. It excited him and also left him a little daunted as to the unknown.
His mind continued to be a jumble of thoughts, but he did try to concentrate on reading the book he held in his hand. It was proving difficult with all the thrashing about, but still it help pass the time as they drove nearer their destination.
Suddenly the stage began to slow down and he stuck his head out the window to see what was causing the delay. There on the side of the road stood a young cowboy with his gear, but no horse. When the stage came to a stop beside the young man, Scott noticed he appeared to be little more than a boy. He was dressed in a flamboyant Mexican style of clothing and wore his gun belt low on his slim hips.
“You going into Morro Coyo?” The young man asked.
“Unless I’m lost.” Replied the driver.
“Mind if I catch a lift?”
“Sure climb aboard. We’ll take care of that gun of yours.” The driver informed the young man.
Scott saw the hesitation on his face but with a simple “Sure,” the cowboy handed up the gun and went to the door. Scott had to wonder at just what kind of life a man so young had led to make him feel so vulnerable without his gun.
As the new passenger opened the door, Scott got a much better look at him. He was indeed quite young but there was also something about him that made him seem older and worldly.
The boy seemed pleasant enough and he had one of the most charming smiles Scott had ever seen. Yet his eyes told a different story. They were cold and skeptical. Scott got the impression that this was a man who trusted no one and kept himself removed from others.
Just as the young man climbed inside the coach the drive started up the team and the stage lurched causing him to lose his balance. He unceremoniously landed on Scott, apologizing and quickly squeezed in between the young Bostonian and the Padre’. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to mess up your outfit.”
“Can’t be helped.”
Nothing more was said between them.
As the coach once again rolled on toward Morro Coyo, the passengers fell silent, anticipating the end of their long journey and the relief of being able to disembark from the incredibly uncomfortable stage coach. With each mile they clung to their seats trying to avoid being flung about, all except the young man. Once he had settled himself, he pulled his hat low on his head and rode the rest of the way with his arms folded across his chest as if to be asleep. Scott doubted this was the case as he got the impression the stranger next to him was aware of everything and everybody around him.
Scott also had misgivings that anyone could rest while traveling by stage, but this man seemingly appeared to defy the odds as his only movement came from his body reacting to the bumping and the swaying. He seemed quite comfortable, not displaying any of the normal discomforts of stage travel like the others. For some reason this seemed to irritate Scott. Not only did the boy seem cocky, but aloof to everyone else.
It was apparent to Scott that the man seemed to blend in naturally with this wild and untamed country. Dangerous, cautious, and self-assured, were words that he felt best described their new passenger.
How different life was here compared to Boston. Back home, boys grew up according to their age, enjoying all the things that appealed to their youthful appetites. Here apparently youth was something that was short lived. Boys became men long before their time and learning to deal with hardships and dangers was a necessary way of life.
After what seemed more like days but in fact was only a few hours the stage began to slow down and Scott could see the outskirts of a community. As the coach slowed more building came into view and then the ride was finally over. The stage stopped and the driver yelled that the passengers could disembark. Scott scooted up and opened the door lighting down stiffly but then turning to extend a hand to the ladies who had been passengers. The blond noticed that the brunet also had extended a hand to help steady the ladies as they exited the stage. Scott smiled to himself. This young man might be dangerous and a little rough around the edges, but he had manners and knew how to be cordial.
Once all the passengers were safely on the ground Scott began to gather his few belongings and wait for the driver to throw down his luggage. He noticed the young cowboy standing off to the front of the stage reaching for his gun and other gear. It was obvious that he was much happier with his weapon back in his holster.
Scott turned towards a young lady who was looking rather puzzled and answered. “That’s me.”
At the same time a slow drawl also answered. “Yeah?”
Scott turned to the cowboy confused. What he saw was suspicion in the young man’s eyes as he also regarded Scott.
“I’m sorry; which one of you said?”
Once again both the blond and the brunet answered together.
“You’re Johnny.” The young lady said pointing to him.
“That’s right.” The boy answered.
“Then you must be Scott Lancer.” Once again the young lady pointed only this time at Scott.
“No ma’am. He’s no Lancer. My mother only had one kid and that’s me.” This coming from the young cowboy.
Scott retorted “Likewise.
“Oh, well we didn’t expect you both at the same time, but actually your right. It’s Mr. Lancer who had two.” The girl informed the two young men before her.
“Two what? Asked Scott
“Wives, … and sons. You two.”
To say that Scott was shocked at this new revelation would have been an understatement. How could he have gone all of his life without knowing he had a brother? A whole new flood of questions invaded his already taxed mind and with a calm that he didn’t know he possessed, Scott Garret Lancer loaded his belongings into the back of the wagon and climbed next to the young woman, who had introduced herself as Teresa.
As she flicked the reins, he looked straight ahead and embraced his future. While not sure what that future would hold, he, however, accepted that maybe he just might have found the purpose he so needed for his life.
With a cautious glance back at the young man sitting behind him he quietly embraced the excitement and wonder of finding out that his little family was now bigger by one. ‘Perhaps’, he thought as they rode along, ‘the desire for a sibling he had secretly once hoped for might come true.’ How this would all work was still a wonder to him but somehow deep down he felt that maybe, just maybe, it would and hopefully this new life would fill the void that only having a family could. A life at Lancer.