Scott Lancer had been on his feet for over 24 hours by the time he broke into the locked room in the basement of the Omega Alpha Pi Fraternity house. He had spent the night searching through his grandfather’s properties and vessels for some sign of his brother. Thankfully, there was no sign that his grandfather was directly involved in Johnny’s disappearance. He felt guilty for even suspecting the old man; blaming his over suspicious mind for reading more into the facts than what was there. Physically and emotionally he was more than exhausted by the time Andrea Baldwin had found him. He was running on pure adrenaline. Her words and direction boosted his hopes – but answered no questions. She had steadfastly refused to answer any of the questions that burned within him, but that wasn’t important – any longer.
Now, he found himself staring at his worst nightmare – the body of a dark-haired man lying in the dirt. Scott’s feet flew across the dirt floor to the side of the unconscious man. With trembling hands he placed the lamp on the floor and gently rolled the man to his back. As the body laid flat he sucked in his breath as his eyes opened wide in stunned surprise to view Trevor Hawthorne!
Scott touched Trevor’s neck and felt a weak pulse. Surveying his friend he observed a small trickle of blood coming from Trevor’s mouth – an indication of a possible internal injury. Quickly his hands scanned the rest of the body until his fingers detected a sopping wet tear in the vest. He had been stabbed in the chest - the wound possibly fatal. Gently he tried to rouse the injured man. “Trevor…”
Trevor’s eyes slowly opened as he tried to focus on his rescuer. “Scott?...”
“Shhhh…” Scott tried to soothe his friend. “Who did this…?”
Trevor suddenly began to struggle to sit up – his eyes opening wide in terror. “Where is he?” came the raspy whisper.
“Who?” Scott asked restraining his friend from moving.
“Reggie! You’ve got to get away or he’ll get you too!”
“Why? What’s going on here?”
“Johnny – get to Johnny…” The whispered words died with Trevor.
“Trevor?” Scott shook the now stilled man. His mind was racing with more questions. How could this have happened? He had come looking for his brother – fearing the worst – now his fears were an even darker reality. Scott looked from his friend and expectantly scanned the room – his eyes unable to penetrate the inky darkness of the corners. Was his brother here?
Scott stood and bent to pick up the lamp when he felt a prickling on the back of his neck. Standing erect he put his hand on the grip of the gun he had taken from Johnny’s room the day before. With his back turned to the door he froze when his suspicions were confirmed - he was no longer alone.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Scott.”
Scott’s stomach clenched at the sound of the familiar voice. Slowly he turned to face Reginald Pierce. The former soldier was holding a pistol aimed at Scott’s heart.
“Throw the gun away, Scott.” When there was no response, Reggie pulled back the hammer. “Throw it away now.”
two fingers, Scott pulled the heavy .45 from his belt and tossed it into
“What’s going on here? What happened to Trevor and where is Johnny?”
Pierce’s eyes glanced nervously around the room, unable to peer into the dark corners. “What does it look like?”
Scott surveyed the bloody body of his dead friend, the remains of a rope tied to an overhead beam and the blood-soaked ropes that lay near by. Clearly someone had been tortured. He tried hard to push the image of his brother being tied and tortured to the back of his mind and focus on what he knew. “Why kill Trevor?”
“He didn’t understand…”
“You were a soldier, Scott. You know about the enemy and what has to be done to ensure victory…”
“Enemy?” Scott was clearly puzzled. “What does this have to do with Trevor and Johnny?”
Reggie snorted. “Come on, Scott. You remember in war there are soldiers, prisoners and there are casualties.” He pointed the revolver at Trevor’s body. “Hawthorne is a casualty. He didn’t have the conviction to fight the battle to its inevitable conclusion. Negotiation was his solution. You don’t negotiate with lesser beings. You eliminate them! I am a soldier - upholding the oath I swore to protect this country from foreign invaders – people who threaten our values. You remember the oath you swore when you joined the army – to uphold The Union no matter what the cost? How about the oath you swore when you joined the fraternity – to uphold the principles of Omega Alpha Pi? To be true to the fraternity and your brothers.”
“’Fight the battle?’ What war are you talking about?” Scott’s blue eyes locked on the brown eyes of his former friend. “If you are the soldier and Trevor a casualty – then what is Johnny?”
“The half- breed? Think about it Scott. You came here as his prisoner. You’re free now! Free to stay here – in Boston- where you belong.” Reggie paused, his demented mind reading Scott’s stunned face as one of gratitude for finally being freed. “What was he really to you? He had no education, no breeding. He stole your half of your father’s ranch – took what is rightfully yours! He was a murderer. Hell, he didn’t even use the same last name!” Smiling, he pushed on. “Don’t you see? You were tricked into going out west by the man who sired you. But he is no more your father than I am! He stole your life – keeping you prisoner in California with that half-breed as a guard. Now, you’re free to stay here in Boston with your friends and family – not in the wilds of California where your life means nothing!”
Scott stared at his demented friend. It had not gone unnoticed that Reggie was now referring to Johnny in the past tense. At each word uttered, Scott became all the more anxious for the answer to his question: “Where is Johnny?”
Reggie smiled, lowering the pistol. “I have removed him from your life. You’re free!”
“Free? I asked you a question, where is Johnny? What have you done?” Scott raised his voice and with clenched fists advanced on his friend.
Reggie’s smile faded and the pistol rose again. “You don’t have to be afraid any longer. Madrid has been removed….”
Scott stopped dead in his tracks and repeated his last question his anger building. “What have you done?”
Reggie laughed. “He was my prisoner and I executed him!”
Enraged, Scott took the last steps and grabbed the hand holding the gun. With all of his strength he grappled with the other man until Pierces grasp was loosed, sending the pistol to the ground. With his other hand, Scott made a fist and struck hard at Reggie’s face causing him to fall back. “Scott!” Reggie shrieked. “I did it for you!”
“You killed my brother - for me?” Scott flew at his friend, grabbing the collar of his jacket and throwing him against the stone foundation of the building. He quickly followed Reggie into a dark corner only to be stopped by a fist aimed squarely at his stomach. The blow knocked Scott back into the light and down onto the dirt floor near Trevor’s body. Reggie lunged out of the darkness and landed on top of Scott. The two men rolled, each trying to get the advantage over the other.
Scott was exhausted, but fought on out of anger and desperation while Reggie fought with the fresh strength that comes from the truly insane. They exchanged blows until Scott was thrown against the wooden wall – the breath knocked out of him. Stunned, he slid down until he was lying in a semi-upright position. Pierce recovered his gun and advanced on the exhausted man. “I see that I misjudged you, Lancer. I thought you were one of us. No - you’re like Hawthorne. You’ve gone soft. There is no room for softness in this war…” He pulled back the hammer of his pistol and pointed it at Scott’s head. “Goodbye, Scott.”
Scott watched as Reggie’s finger tightened on the trigger. Scott closed his eyes and flinched at the sound of a gun discharging. After a second he realized that he had not been shot. Opening his eyes he looked up at the stunned features of Reginald Pierce – a dark red stain blooming in the center of his chest where a bullet had exploded through his body. As blood flowed the man dropped to his knees and then to his face. He was dead before he hit the ground.
Johnny had awoken during the night to once again find himself in darkness. He was cold and he hurt all over. Disoriented by pain and blood loss, his mind took him back in time; once again he was a 12 year old boy who had seen his mother killed before his eyes - while she had attempted to protect him from the cruel actions of his stepfather. After she was shot, she had fallen next to him. Badly beaten himself, he had crawled to her and had lain against her, hoping that his presence would save them both until help arrived. It hadn’t helped. She died anyway.
In the darkness of the basement cell, he felt a body near him. In his 12 year old mind he thought it to be his mother. Not wishing to feel her loss again, he crawled away - wanting to die alone, like he knew the fates had determined for him long ago.
Hours later he was brought out of unconsciousness by the sounds of men arguing. He was well hidden in the darkness, but could see two men standing in the light – one of them was Scott! His brother had come to rescue him from hell. Unable to speak he watched as his brother pulled a gun from his belt and unknowingly threw it into the darkness directly at him. He listened as Reggie spouted off his excuses for killing Trevor and for trying to kill him. Pierce was crazy and more dangerous than Scott realized. Knowing that he had to do something, he forced his arm to reach out until his fingers could grasp the warm metal of the discarded weapon.
As his hand clasped the grip, he immediately recognized the weight and balance of his own weapon – the weapon that had served him well for so many years. Like an old friend, the weapon gave him a measure of strength and confidence. He knew that he was dying from blood loss and cold. But with his old friend in his hand, he would make sure that he didn’t go to hell alone.
He watched as the two men fought. Scott battled valiantly, but Pierce was clearly the stronger man. Struggling to maneuver himself into a position from which to fire, Johnny fought the waves of pain that rippled throughout his body and threatened to send him back into darkness. His leg and side were like fire to him. The swelling around his eyes made seeing difficult. With a shaky hand, he pointed the weapon at Pierce after Scott had been knocked clear of his line of fire. Realizing that Pierce now intended to kill his brother, Johnny used both hands to pull back the hammer and fire the heavy pistol. He never saw Pierce fall. The recoil of the weapon had shaken him so badly that his injured body could not cope with the additional pain and darkness claimed him once again.
Scott lay panting for a few brief seconds trying to understand what had happened to save him from certain death. In those seconds, his heart made an immediate connection - Johnny! Leaning heavily against the wall, he struggled to his feet. Stepping over the body of yet another friend, he picked up the lamp and headed into the farthest recess of the room. There, lying still as death - with gun in hand was his brother.
Scott set the lamp down and cautiously reached out to touch the still body. “Johnny?” he whispered placing a hand on his brother’s bloody chest. He was overcome with joy as he saw sapphire eyes half open. “Johnny!” Kneeling closer, he quickly inspected his brother’s condition. Johnny was shivering uncontrollably and there was blood everywhere. “I’d just about given up on finding you, boy.” Scott whispered words that seemed all too familiar.
For the briefest of seconds, Johnny’s eyes locked on the concerned features of his brother. “I knew you would come.” The barely whispered words left bruised lips as the eye lids closed and the body went slack.
“Johnny!” Scott was immediately alarmed. He knew his brother was gravely injured. A quick examination found a deep stab wound to Johnny’s left thigh that was inflamed and oozing blood. There was a long laceration across his chest that had soaked bandages that must have been applied before the reception. He also found a penetrating wound to Johnny’s right side. Surprisingly, there was not a lot of blood from this wound - that both amazed and concerned Scott. If Johnny wasn’t bleeding on the outside, he could be bleeding inside? Scott quickly removed his belt and after placing his handkerchief over the leg wound, tightened the leather to staunch the blood flow. Johnny moaned in his unconsciousness as more pain was added to his nightmare. “I’m sorry, Brother.” Scott whispered laying a cool hand on a fevered brow. Taking off his jacket, he tore his shirt sleeve, wading it up and then applying direct pressure to the wound to Johnny’s side. Scott then tried to lift his brother, but was scared as Johnny began to struggle for breath. Scott was too weak from his fight with Pierce to try to maneuver the injured man through the dark basement maze. In defeat, he admitted to himself that he needed help.
A discarded overcoat lay near by. Scott risked lifting Johnny enough to slip the thick coat around his brother’s shoulders so that his flesh no longer lay directly on the cold dirt floor. He then took his own jacket and laid it over the bruised and bloody chest of his brother.
Johnny’s pallor was a waxy white and his breathing shallow, coming in small pants. Scott knew that time was of the essence. “I’m going to get help,” He said to his unconscious brother. “Now, don’t do anything stupid like die on me. You understand? I’ll be back – I promise.”
Earlier that day, Jim Davis had sent his man over to the Garrett residence for news of the Lancer boys. The man came back within an hour, concern written over his face.
“I spoke with Jennings. Johnny disappeared yesterday morning and Scott has been out looking for him…”
“I knew it!” Murdoch swore. “Did he have any idea on where Scott would be looking or where Johnny may have gone?”
The man looked away for the briefest of seconds before replying. “He said that Scott thought that Mr. Garrett was somehow involved….”
Murdoch began to pace the floor furiously. “I’ve got to get over there!”
Jim caught his friend’s arm. “You just can’t go over there and accuse Harlan Garrett of kidnapping! He’s too powerful. Does Scott have any friends in the Boston area that he may have confided in?”
“The boys had come for a wedding – Joshua Armstrong and Andrea Baldwin…”
“I know them both. They come from good families. Melissa used to be a close friend of Andrea’s before she went west. Let’s go to them and see if they have any news…”
Murdoch considered the calm words of reason and nodded his head in agreement.
Together, the men set out in Jim’s carriage. The beautiful morning had turned into a gray and dismal afternoon further darkening Murdoch’s mood. The Baldwin household was in an uproar when they arrived. Andrea was missing. Apparently she had gotten up early and had left the house without leaving a word or note. Her parents were sick with worry and concern.
Not wishing to further distress them, Murdoch and Jim hastily retreated. “What do you suppose is going on?” Murdoch asked aloud. .
“Let’s try Mr. Armstrong,” Jim suggested. “Perhaps Scott confided in him.
Joshua received them in the sitting room. He was half dressed for the wedding ceremony to be held in a few short hours. He appeared pale and nervous having recently learned of the disappearance of his bride. He paced the room furiously, refusing to look either man in the eye. “…I assure you, Mr. Lancer, that I have not seen Scott since the reception on Friday evening.”
“Have you seen Johnny?”
Joshua blanched at the name of the younger Lancer. “No. The last I saw of Johnny was at the reception. I had slapped his injured shoulder – quite by accident mind you – and he left shortly thereafter. What has happened?”
“Both boys are missing.” Jim Davis answered calmly, cutting his eyes at Murdoch as the Lancer patriarch appeared to want to throttle the young man before them. “If you hear of anything you’ll let us know?”
“You’ll have to excuse me, but my primary concern is for Andrea – she’s gone missing. If I hear from Scott or Johnny I’ll let you know.” As he walked toward the door, he paused by Murdoch and mumbled something about hoping that Scott and Johnny were alright. A houseman stepped forward and ushered the two older men out of the house.
Once out on the street, Murdoch blew up. “He’s lying! You could tell it! We should go back….”
“Go back and do what? We’re not in California, Murdoch. Matters are not settled by violence here like they are in California…”
“Well, you didn’t hesitate to resort to violence to get your daughter back,” Murdoch said bitterly – instantly regretting the tone and choice of words he had used. “Jim…”
Jim Davis remained quiet letting the words roll away. Murdoch was right. He had placed both Scott and Johnny in jeopardy when he had them go and fetch his daughter from the miner who had beguiled her. The boys had been threatened and beaten – but that was the only way to get his daughter back – out west.
“I still say that we should confront Harlan….”
Again, Jim restrained his friend. “He is too powerful. Let’s ride around – perhaps we can find some sign of Scott out on the streets.”
After taking Scott to Harvard, Andrea returned to Beacon Hill, but not to her parent’s house. Emotionally she was drained. It had been a long and difficult ride to Harvard with Scott. He had asked questions that she dared not answer for fear that Reggie would take revenge on her and Joshua. She had rationalized that the best she could do was to point Scott in the correct direction and pray for the best outcome. In her heart, she feared for them all – especially Trevor who had never returned after his own trip to the fraternity house.
the more she pondered, the more her conscience screamed at her for letting
Trevor go alone and for leading Scott to a potentially deadly situation.
It was then that she decided that since they all had started this that
they all should end it. She had the driver of the carriage drop her
near the Common. She had to clear her thoughts and figure out how
she was going to make things right again – as if they ever could.
Joshua and Nathan found her an hour later, quite by accident. They were on their way to the stables to get horses so they could look for the missing bride themselves.
“Andrea!” Joshua shouted running up to her. He was immediately taken by her pale complexion. Her dress was wrinkled and dirty and she appeared to have been crying. “Where have you been? We’ve been worried sick about you!” When she failed to respond to his questions he led her to a nearby bench and gently eased her down. Sitting next to her, he gently took her hands in his own. “Andrea, what is it? What has happened?”
“I couldn’t help it…”
“I took Scott to Johnny…”
Joshua looked at her pale face in shock. “You knew where Johnny was? How?”
“Trevor. He told me yesterday. Somehow he had found out that Johnny was at the fraternity house at Harvard. He swore me to secrecy and said that if he didn’t return by noon today that I was to tell Scott…” The words were uttered in whispers as if she was in shock. Finally she looked up into the anxious face of the man who was to be her husband. “What if Reggie has killed Trevor? What if he kills Scott?” Tears began to brim at the edges of her eyes. “What are we to do?” Andrea looked expectantly at the two men.
“Do? Why should we do anything?” Nathan started only to be cut off by an angry Andrea.
“Cowards! That’s what the two of you are! Cowards! Trevor and Scott could be in grave danger and you stand here thinking of yourselves!”
Joshua looked at his friend, his eyes not daring to look at Andrea. “She’s right; it’s time that we took responsibility for what has happened. We owe it to Trevor and Scott…”
“And what about Pierce?”
From his jacket Joshua pulled out a revolver that he had secreted behind his back. “I believe that this should take care of Reggie Pierce…”
Nathan waved his hands and shook his head. “You’re talking about murder…”
“I’m talking about self defense. We’ll go to the fraternity and …well, I’m not sure what we’ll find, but Reggie may give us no choice.”
“I suppose that you want to leave now?” Nathan asked reluctantly, his heart not in this mission.
Joshua looked at Andrea and held out his hand. They were to have been wed in a few hours. There would be no future until this part of the present was resolved. Slowly she took his hand. “Will you wait for me?”
“Until your return.”
Scott Lancer was exiting the fraternity house as Joshua and Nathan’s open carriage arrived. He stumbled down the stairs and into their arms. “I need help – inside…” Scott’s clothing was torn and tattered compared to the clean tuxedos of his friends.
“What happened?” Joshua asked alarmed by the bruised and disheveled condition of his friend. He tried to ease Scott to sit on the steps and rest, but the man would have none of it.
“I need help, Johnny’s hurt….”
“Is there anyone else here?” Nathan asked cautiously.
Scott looked at his friends suspiciously. For the second time within an hour, his vision of his friends was becoming sharper. Standing on shaky legs, he pushed away their efforts to steady him. “What are you doing here? Who were you expecting?”
Joshua and Nathan looked at each other unsure of how to respond. Finally Joshua stepped forward and spoke up. “Is Reggie here?”
At that moment, Scott knew that Reggie had not been working alone. He lunged at his startled friends and knocking Joshua into Nathan – sending them both to the ground. “Have you come to help or to finish the job?” His hands were clenched in fists of rage – exhausted, he was preparing himself to do battle again.
“How can you ask that?” Nathan asked scrambling away from his enraged friend.
“I have a brother inside who may be dying because of all of you! Before I place him at risk again, I have to know why you are here!” Scott looked from one frightened man to the other.
“We’ve come to help.” Joshua pleaded struggling to his feet – his open palmed hands held out. “Scott – really, we’ve come to help….”
“Help what? Torture my brother some more?” Scott raised his fists in preparation to defend himself. “He’s in there, bleeding to death because of you!”
Nathan and Joshua both paled at the mention of torture. “We came to stop Pierce…”
“Too late, he’s dead.” Scott watched the pair through cold blue eyes waiting for their reaction. For a second, he caught a glimpse of relief and then the fear returned.
“Where’s Trevor?” Nathan whispered, his eyes gone wide.
“Dead.” Scott spat. “You’re too late again!”
Joshua groaned and leaned against the carriage for support. “Oh, God…”
“God had nothing to do with this! This is evil – pure and simple! And what for? What was so damned important that you had to resort to this?” Scott’s eyes flew from one man to the other.
Both men looked down in shame, afraid to give their friend the true answer. Joshua tried again to plead with his friend. “What can we do to help? We know that we were wrong – please – you’ve got to believe us!”
Scott considered his friends and their words. He turned away in disgust, but still in need of their assistance. He was too tired from his battle with Reggie to rescue his brother alone. “In the basement, Johnny is in the basement….” He turned and mounted the steps to the house. Joshua and Nathan followed Scott into the building and through the wrecked kitchen. Stunned by the sight of the demolished basement door they got a sense of the panic that Scott must have felt while searching for his brother. Even more ashamed of their actions, they silently followed him down the stairs into the cellar and to the makeshift prison that Reggie had created.
As they entered the room, Nathan nearly gagged at the sight of the bloody bodies of Trevor and Reggie. “Oh, God…”
Scott paid him no mind and led them to where Johnny lay. “I need help lifting him…”
With fresh strength, Joshua stepped forward and gently picked up the injured man while Nathan stood mesmerized by the sight of the two corpses. Scott checked Johnny; he was still breathing and burning with fever. “Let’s get out of here.” Picking up the lamp, he led the way back through the basement and up into the light.
carriage, Scott climbed in first while the other men gently handed him
his brother. Laying Johnny’s head against his shoulder he held him
tight, all the while praying to God that he would once again see fit to
spare the life of the former gunfighter.
The ride back to Boston was fraught with tension. Scott held onto his brother’s limp body, his hand pressed tightly against the wound to Johnny’s side that had begun to pour blood once Johnny had been moved. He murmured words of encouragement to the unconscious man while laying his cool cheek against a fevered forehead.
Nathan and Joshua took in the sight and were fully aware that they were responsible for the heartbreaking scene. Joshua had the feeling that if Johnny were to survive his ordeal that it would be solely by Scott willing him to live. ‘How could we have been so wrong?’ Joshua kept asking himself. “Scott, is there anything I can do to help?”
Scott looked up, his eyes red rimmed; his face lined with exhaustion and concern. “It comes to mind that you could have prevented this – both of you!”
Joshua looked away at the scathing comment. Nathan turned pale, and became defensive. “We never thought that it would come to this….”
“And just what did you think you were doing? Why do this to my brother? Are you both as mad as Pierce?”
“Believe me; we had no idea that Pierce was insane. We just wanted to….” Nathan stopped and looked away.
“Tell me – just what was so damn important that you had to try to kill Johnny?” Scott was shouting. He stopped as Johnny moaned. “Johnny?” His voice changed from anger to concern.
“Scott?” pain filled eyes fluttered open.
“I’m here,” With one hand he kept pressure on the wound and with the other he grasped his brother’s cool hand.
“C—cold,” Johnny had begun to shiver and closed his eyes again.
“Shhh… We’re almost there.” Scott whispered reassuringly, pulling the overcoat tightly around the injured man. His eyes then cut back to his friends. “We are not done with this!” He whispered fiercely. Now was not the time to sort this out; he had to be focused on his brother.
The remainder of the ride was in silence. The carriage pulled up to the front of Massachusetts General Hospital, the scene reminiscent of events of just 3 days earlier. For a second time, in almost as many days, Scott carried the limp and bleeding body of his brother through the front doors of the building. “Help! We need help!”
Again it was Dr. Johnson who came running forward. “What the devil!” He surveyed the injured man in the arms of his brother. “This way – quickly!” Scott followed him into the same examination room. Scott once again laid his brother on the leather examination table and lifted the topcoat he had been using to keep Johnny warm.
“Good God! What happened this time?” the doctor asked observing the filthy blood soaked bandages.
“I think he was tortured…” Scott held the bloody coat close while he watched the doctor tend to his brother. He was mesmerized by the sight. In the light of the room, he realized that Johnny was in a more dire condition than he had assessed. Blood was now streaming from the side wound. For the first time he noticed the torn and bloody wrists and the deep bruises to Johnny’s face and chest. Johnny appeared to be barely breathing.
“Get the on call surgeon!” Dr Johnson addressed a nurse who quickly left the room. “Tell me what you know.” He demanded while applying pressure to Johnny’s wounded side. He was assessing the now scabbed over laceration that had been drawn across his patient’s chest and the make shift tourniquet that had been applied to the left thigh. The boy had been tortured.
“As far as I can know, he was kept captive in the basement of a building…”
“Was it cold?” The doctor took note of the blue tinge to Johnny’s lips and nails.
“Yes, it was very cold…”
“He was lying on a dirt floor when I found him. His leg was bleeding. I was aware of the side wound, but it didn’t begin to bleed until we put him in the carriage for the ride here…”
“Probably was bleeding internally and began to bleed more as he warmed up.” The doctor said to no one in particular. “Any idea how his wrists were injured?”
“There was a bloody rope on the ground – I think that he had been hung by his wrists from an overhead beam for the first floor.…” Scott groaned and leaned heavily against the wall. It was overwhelming. The thought of his brother bound by a rope, beaten and stabbed – left to die in the dark coldness of the basement. And for what?
Dr. Johnson glanced up at the exhausted man. “Mr. Lancer, why don’t you go and sit outside. I’ll let you know when…”
Scott’s eyes flashed. “He’s not going to die! You’ve got to save him!”
“And we will try,” a new voice belonging to a man about the same age as Scott came into the room. “I’m Dr. Henry Kane. Believe me; we will do everything we can to save your brother. Now go and have a seat outside.”
Scott looked at the new doctor and saw how Dr. Johnson regarded the younger man. If anyone was going to fight for his brother, he had the impression that Dr. Kane was the one he would put his money on. “He isn’t going to die…”
“We’ll do our best.”
Nathan stayed at the hospital to wait for news of Johnny’s condition while Joshua went to tell Andrea what was happening. They had also decided to get Harlan Garrett; someone needed to be there for Scott in case the worst should happen. The banker had been sitting on a hard wooden bench in the dimly lit hallway. His looked up expectantly as Scott exited the examination room, his clothing stained dark red with the blood of his brother, his face bruised from his fight with Pierce. “Well?” He asked standing.
“They don’t know anything yet. The surgeon just arrived.” Scott sat heavily on the bench, leaned back and closed his eyes. “Tell me, what is going on?”
Nathan regarded his friend. Scott deserved the truth, and as much as he didn’t want to be the one to tell him – he was the only one around. “We thought that we were helping…”
“Helping? Helping what?”
“We thought that you were being held prisoner in California and that Johnny was here to make sure that you returned.”
Scott opened his eyes and looked incredulously at Nathan. He was sickened by the thought that his brother had been tortured for him! “Where did you ever that that idea?” Nathan looked away. Scott knew the logical answer, but refused to believe it. “Did my grandfather tell you that?”
Nathan nodded his head in the affirmative. “We only wanted to take Johnny aside and convince him that you were better off here in Boston. Scott, we honestly had no idea that Reggie was going to do what he did.”
“Then why didn’t you try to stop him?”
“He was insane! We just didn’t know it until he threatened to kill us if we attempted to intervene! Scott, you have to believe me – we never wanted it to go this far! ”
“So, you were going to let him get away with murder?” Scott waited impatiently as Nathan tried to gather his words. “I asked you a question! Were you going to let him get away with murder?”
Nathan flushed, offended by the accusation. “It wasn’t going to be murder.”
“No?” Scott stood and faced his friend. “Then tell me, just what is it called when you torture a man and leave him for dead?”
Nathan hung his head having no response. “I’m sorry…”
“Sorry! You’re sorry? My brother could be in there dying and you’re sorry?” A nurse came running up and told the men to either quiet down, or leave the building. Scott immediately quieted and took his seat on the bench.
“What happened to Trevor?” Nathan asked quietly.
“Reggie killed him.”
“He tried to kill me, too, only Johnny stopped him.”
“Shot him in the back as Reggie was going to shoot me.” The words were spoken with a measure of grim satisfaction.
Nathan swallowed hard, keeping the bile down that threatened to leave his stomach. “Scott, I’m…”
“Don’t even try.” Scott interrupted. He closed his eyes thinking of his brother and how afraid he was of loosing the most important person in his life. “Who all was involved?”
“Pierce, myself, Trevor, Joshua and Andrea.”
“And my grandfather?” Scott waited for the answer, his eyes keenly watching his uncomfortable friend.
Nathan looked Scott in the eyes. “I don’t think so. I mean he told us about your situation, but I don’t believe that he was directly involved.”
Scott sighed, relieved that his earlier conclusion was wrong. “Why didn’t you go with Trevor?”
“We had no idea that Trevor was going to try to rescue Johnny. We didn’t even know where Reggie had hidden him until Andrea told us that Trevor had gone looking.”
“How did Trevor know?”
“I’ve been wondering about that myself. He never told any of us.”
“So, there could be another accomplice?”
Nathan’s eyes grew wide. “I don’t know.”
Scott sank back. He was still holding the heavy top coat, the one soaked with his brother’s blood. Looking at it, he realized that it wasn’t Johnny’s. He remembered seeing his brother’s coat in the closet back at the house. Examining the coat more closely, he looked at the label on the inside of the breast pocket. This was Trevor’s coat! He thought of his friend with a mixture of anger and sadness. At least the reporter had tried to fight for Johnny. As he began to fold the coat, he heard the rustle of paper in one of the pockets. Long fingers deftly searched the thick wool garment until he found a crumpled note. Scott began to tremble as he unfolded the paper catching a glimpse of the handwriting here. When the note was completely smooth, Scott caught his breath, and groaned deeply, shutting his eyes tightly as if blinded by what he had seen.
Nathan was stunned by Scott’s reaction to the note that he had let drop from his fingers. Curious, Nathan silently picked up the paper - his heart immediately sank for his friend. As the banker for Garrett Enterprises, he recognized the handwriting immediately. Not only was Scott in jeopardy of loosing his brother, he may have just lost his grandfather.
Johnny drifted in and out of consciousness. He remembered shooting Pierce and feeling some small measure of satisfaction at the death. His next recollection was of being in Scott’s arms – his brother holding him close - trying to keep him warm.
Opening his eyes, he found himself in a brightly lit room, surrounded by strangers. His first instinct was to get away, but his attempt at moving brought intense pain to his leg and side.
“Mr. Lancer?” Henry Kane bent close to his patient, noting the intense blue eyes that now surveyed the room.
“Scott….?” Johnny’s blue lips barely whispered.
Dr. Kane motioned for the nurse to go and get the older Lancer. “You’re in the hospital; you’ve lost a lot of blood…”
“I know. We’re going to give you something to ease the pain…”
“No,” Johnny’s eyes flashed and he tried to shake his head. He had to make them understand, pain was his friend – it meant he was alive. But he was in no condition to fight the needle that was inserted into his arm. He felt a warmth spread throughout his body as the pain receded. Closing his eyes, darkness claimed him once again.
The two doctors continued their ministrations. Dr. Johnson had cleaned and sutured the leg wound and was concerned about the infection that seemed to be spreading there. Dr Kane was concerned about the wounded side and the blood loss. There appeared to be some internal bleeding and surgery was needed to stem the flow – but his patient was not strong enough to endure the procedure.
“There’s not much we can do besides make him comfortable.” Dr Johnson concluded, having completed his task.
“I’m not so sure. If we can get him stabilized, we can do a surgery to repair the internal damage…”
Dr. Johnson shook his head in disagreement. “He’s lost too much blood.”
“We could try a transfusion?”
“With who as a donor? Transfusions are too risky.” The older doctor shook his head vigorously, ruling out the suggestion.
“Then you’re condemning him!”
“He’s my patient. That’s my prognosis.”
Henry Kane considered his colleague and fought within himself to remain calm. Dr. Johnson may be the treating physician, but there was another way…
Harlan Garrett arrived at the Hospital to find Scott sitting quietly on the wooden bench. He was immediately taken by bloody clothes and the pale and bruised face of his grandson. “Scotty? Are you alright? I came as soon as Joshua told me…” He stopped as Scott flinched away from his touch. “Scotty, what is it? Is Johnny….”
“Dead?” Scott finished the question, his back turned to his grandfather. “No, he’s hanging on…”
At that moment, a nurse exited the examination room and came for Scott. “Mr. Lancer? The doctors will see you now.” Scott stood, still clutching the wool coat and followed the white uniformed woman back down the hall.
Harlan had again attempted to reach out to his grandson, only to be rebuffed. Quietly he turned and followed the young man down the hall. They were led to a small whitewashed room. There lying on a single bed was Johnny – his complexion almost as white as the sheets and heavy blankets keeping him warm. The sight took even Harlan’s breath away.
Scott went immediately to his brother’s side and knelt beside the bed. “Johnny?” He looked anxiously for some sign of recognition, but there was none. Gently he picked up Johnny’s right hand. The wrist was now bandaged; hiding the bloody and torn flesh that Scott knew lay beneath. Johnny’s face was a mass of bruises - eyes swollen and lips bruised. Scott could hear him struggling for breath. Anxiously he looked to the doctors.
“How is Mr. Madrid?” Harlan asked attempting to take control of the situation.
“Lancer! His name is Johnny Lancer!” Scott spat not wanting his brother to be further disrespected – especially by his grandfather.
Dr. Johnson silently absorbed the interaction between Harlan and Scott, before proceeding with his assessment. “He’s had an injection of morphine to ease the pain. We’ve cleaned and dressed the wound to his leg and laceration to his chest. He has broken ribs that are pressing against his lungs. We know that he has some internal bleeding from the knife wound to his side and from the beating – but he’s lost a lot of blood and he has a high fever. I’ve assessed his injures and find that the best we can do is to make him comfortable, until…”
“You’re saying that he’s going to die?” Scott looked up at the older man, anguish etched on his handsome pale features.
Dr Johnson could only nod.
“Is that what you think?” Scott turned to the younger surgeon.
Henry Kane glanced at his older colleague and shook his head in disagreement. “I think that your brother can be saved, but it may take extraordinary measures.” Seeing that Scott was definitely interested, he continued. “I believe the reason that your brother did not bleed to death earlier was that he was cold. The basement he was in kept his fever at bay and his heart rate low. When he warmed up… well you saw what happened. He began to bleed and his fever went up. We’ve treated his wounds as best we can, but he needs a surgery to correct whatever is causing the bleeding, but he’s lost too much blood… “
“What do you recommend?” Scott asked anxiously.
“There is a procedure – a blood transfusion. We transfer blood from a healthy individual to the patient. But…”
“Do it!” Scott spoke up without hesitation.
“But it’s not quite that simple.” Dr Johnson protested.
“What do you mean?”
“Blood transfusions are not an exact science.” Dr. Kane patiently explained. “Sometimes they work. Other times the patient goes into immediate shock and dies. The theory is that that there are different types of blood in people and that if your blood does not match – it can result in death for the patient.”
“I’m his brother, my blood should match…”
“You’re his half-brother. I’m told that you had different mothers?” Dr. Kane broached the subject gently.
“But then the chances that the blood will match are slimmer than for full brothers.”
“So what you’re telling me is that without a transfusion my brother will die and that even if he has one there is a chance that he’ll die anyway?” Dr. Kane nodded, affirming Scott’s conclusions. “I’d like to try.”
Harlan spoke up for the first time. “Now just wait a minute! What risk is there to my grandson – is this dangerous?”
“Any medical procedure has its risks…” Dr. Johnson spoke up, enraged that the younger Doctor had usurped his authority.
“Then I forbid it!” Harlan’s voice boomed. “I will not risk Scotty for that half-…”
“My brother!” Scott faced his grandfather, his hands clenched in anger. “He is my brother! You gave up whatever right you had to say about my life when you instigated this!”
“Scotty!” Harlan blanched at the accusation. “You don’t know what you are saying…”
“Don’t I?” In his hand he held up the note he found in Trevor’s coat. “Tell that to Trevor Hawthorne – but he’s dead. So is Reginald Pierce. Johnny killed him before he almost killed me!”
Harlan paled and backed away from his grandson. “Scotty, I…”
“You were only trying to steal something that doesn’t belong to you – my life! And at what cost? The life of my brother!”
Johnny chose that moment to open his eyes. “S..s..Scott?”
“I’m here, Brother.” Scott was at Johnny’s side taking his cold hand in his warm one.
“No… too dangerous,” Johnny had been listening to the discussion and did not want his brother to risk his own life.
“I’m not going to let you go without a fight,” determination showed on Scott’s face. There was no way that he was going to just let his brother quietly die.
Johnny’s half opened eyes considered his brother’s face. “Don’t…do ...it…”
Scott squeezed Johnny’s hand as if to give him the spark he needed to fight. “Johnny, I’m not going to loose you. Not now or ever.” The words were spoken evenly, with a conviction that served to strengthen Scott’s own resolve. Seeing that Johnny understood, he looked to the doctors. “When can we do this?”
“Whenever you’re ready. We’ll prepare one of the operating theatres….” Dr. Kane hurried from the room to make his preparations.
Scott turned back to his brother and smiled. “We’re going to fight this Johnny. You’ll see. You’re going to get through this and then we’re going to go back to Lancer – together.”
Dr. Johnson went to his old friend and motioned for him to follow him from the room. “Harlan – is what he said true?”
“He is wasting his life in California…” Harlan whispered, clearly in shock.
to kill his brother?” Dr. Robert Johnson shook his head and turned
away from the hospital’s largest benefactor and followed his younger colleague
down the hall.
After being found by Joshua Armstrong, Murdoch Lancer and James Davis marched into Massachusetts General Hospital much the same way a herd of cattle tramples through scrub grass. “Who’s in charge here?” The cattleman’s voice boomed down the tiled halls.
A small pasty faced man came running up. “Please, sir. We have patients…”
“I’m looking for my sons – Johnny and Scott Lancer.” He said impatiently, his eyes scanning the hallways.
The man led them back to his desk and began going through the roster of patients. “Ah, here we are – they are….” The man paused looking up at the impatient face of the man leaning over his desk. “I’ll take you to them right away, sir.” Quickly the man led the anxious father through the maze of halls until they approached a waiting room. “You can wait here…”
Murdoch was about to press the man for more information until he caught sight of Harlan Garrett sitting on one of the wooden benches. “Harlan!” Harlan Garrett looked up, startled, and rose to his feet. “What the devil is going on here?”
“Thank God you’re here! You’ve got to stop him!” Harlan, initially startled by the appearance of his old enemy, grabbed Murdoch by his sleeve and began to pull him toward a door marked ‘No Admittance’.
“What is going on? Stop what?” The rancher was concerned that he had asked about his sons and had been led to a small waiting area instead.
“Scotty! You’ve got to stop Scott. It could kill him!”
At the mention of one of his sons in danger, Murdoch opened the door and found himself in a circular room with raised seating going around the perimeter. In the center of the room were two table like beds. Murdoch’s heart stopped as he recognized the still form of his youngest son laying on one of the beds. “Johnny?” Instantly he moved forward and was beside his son. “Oh, God…” He sighed, taking in the bruised and still features of his youngest. Someone had tried to clean him up but the there was still dried blood caked in the corner of his mouth. The rancher was afraid of what lay beneath the white sheet that covered his son’s torso and legs. Tentatively, he reached to touch Johnny, when he was stopped by the sound of a shocked whisper.
“Murdoch?” Scott Lancer stood just a few feet behind his father, stunned by Murdoch’s sudden appearance. Scott’s own bloody clothes had been replaced by a white smock tied in the back.
Murdoch turned and took in the bruised sight of his eldest. Scott was standing next to a man wearing an apron – obviously a surgeon. “Scott?”
Father and son briefly embraced. “I’m sorry,” Scott, whispered as he clung with exhaustion to the strong frame of his father. His heart was torn by all that had happened – the duplicity of his grandfather, the betrayal of his friends – his entire fault. Now, his brother was dying and he alone had decided on the course of treatment. The pent up anger and guilt coupled with enormity of the decision lay heavily on his shoulders.
Murdoch held on to his eldest while his eyes searched for some sign of life from his youngest. “Scott?” He asked anxiously as Scott moved away. He desperately needed an explanation about what had happened.
“Who the devil let you in?” An older man impatiently stepped forward.
“Dr. Johnson, this is my father – Murdoch Lancer. We need a moment…”
“I’m not sure that we have much time.” The doctor snapped.
“Well, you’re going to have to make it…” Murdoch barked back.
“Sir,” Henry Kane stepped forward and spoke in a gentle voice indicating the unconscious Johnny. “No disrespect is intended, but I don’t think that your son has much time.”
“Johnny?” Murdoch went back to his youngest. He had seen Johnny sick and hurt, but he had never seen him quite as bad as he seemed now. “What happened?”
Scott turned away, unable to face his father with the story that needed to be told. “I’ll tell you later. I’m just glad you’re here – in case…”
“You’ve got to stop him!” Harlan Garrett had entered the room and was now standing near the apparatus that was going to be used to transfer the blood.
“What is he talking about? What are you going to do?” Murdoch looked from Scott to Harlan and to Dr. Kane.
“Your son, Johnny, is dying. He’s bleeding internally and he’s lost a lot of blood. In order to perform the surgery, we will need replacement blood. With Scott’s permission, we are going to try a blood transfusion…”
“Give Johnny some of my blood.” Scott had once again composed himself, focusing himself on what lay ahead.
“And the risks?”
“Johnny will die without it…”
“Well, now that you’re here – as his father you could be a better candidate as a donor…” Dr. Kane was quickly reassessing the feasibility of who would be the better donor.
“No!” Scott insisted. “I’m prepared, let me do it.!” He looked from the Doctor to his father. He wanted to be the one; he had to be the one. After all, it was his fault that Johnny was hurt.
“Scott, if it’s better….” Murdoch was trying to figure out what was going on, but obviously, Johnny’s desperate condition didn’t give him the luxury of time for a debate.
“Please,” Scott whispered to the two men. “Let me…”
“But it could kill Scotty!” Harlan insisted. “It could kill them both!”
Murdoch looked to Scott. He knew his eldest would selflessly put himself at risk and wouldn’t do anything to hurt his brother. “Scott?”
“He’s right. They don’t know if my blood will match Johnny’s, but we’ve got to try to save him.” Scott insisted searching out his father’s eyes and finding the understanding and trust he was looking for.
“Mr. Lancer,” the doctor had still been assessing both men as potential donors– a half brother and a father. “I see that you walk with a limp? Why is that?”
“A bullet wound to my leg from over a year ago. Why?”
“Was the bullet removed?”
Murdoch looked hard at the doctor. “No, as a matter of fact it wasn’t. What does this have to do with my son?”
Henry Kane sighed. The father had a lead bullet in his body that ruled him out as a potential blood donor. The guidelines were for young health males to serve as donors. Older men were to be considered as second choice - but only if they were in the peak of health. Mr. Lancer, the father, did not fit the guideline. “I’m afraid that Scott is the better donor…”
it.” Murdoch gave Scott a warm embrace before going to his youngest.
He gently picked up a limp hand taking note of the bandaged wrist.
“Son?” He was immediately rewarded with the briefest of smiles while
blue eyes remained closed. “I’m here. I’ll be waiting...”
Unashamedly he bent and pressed his lips to his son’s forehead and whispered:
“I love you, John.”
Scott watched his father and grandfather leave the room. Taking a deep breath he went to his brother’s side. Johnny had been given morphine for the pain and was lying quietly. “Johnny?”
Johnny tried to respond, but his mouth felt as if it were filled with cotton and his eye lids too heavy to open. A weak smile was all he could muster given the medication and pain. He knew the smile was returned when Scott grasped his hand. “You’ve got to fight this – do you hear me? Fight! And when we’re done, we’ll go back to Lancer.”
With a nod from the doctor, he was directed to the other table where he was told to lay down. He watched as an Ether Cone was placed over Johnny’s face. Dr. Kane explained that they were going to use Ether to keep Johnny unconscious while they preformed the operation. Once they were certain that Johnny was deeply under the influence of the drug, they started the transfusion procedure. With fascination, Scott watched as the doctor pushed a large bore needle into his arm. His hissed at the suddenness of the pain, but was soon taken by the sight of his blood as it flowed through the orange rubber tubing towards his brother. A similar needle had been inserted into Johnny’s arm and then tied in place with a bandage.
Everyone held their breath waiting for a reaction. If Scott’s blood wasn’t compatible, Johnny would show the signs of rejection within a few minutes. Time passed quickly and Dr. Kane smiled reassuringly at Scott. “He’s ok!” He then adjusted the blood flow to be slow and steady and then began the surgery. A nurse was stationed close by to make sure that too much blood was not taken.
Scott had witnessed some impromptu surgeries while he was in the army, but was not prepared for the sight of the doctors cutting into his brother - their comments as they found damage in need of repair – their discussions on the serious nature of the injuries – their speculations on whether Johnny would live or not. With a heart filled with hurt and regret, Scott eventually turned away, praying that the blood that he was giving would somehow prolong the spark of life in his brother. Exhaustion and blood loss finally got the better of him and he fell asleep.
Murdoch Lancer had never been a patient man. He found himself pacing the small waiting room, his heart torn by what he had just seen, his mind whirling with unanswered questions. The sight of Johnny so still and pale scared the big man to death. He hadn’t looked that bad after he had been shot by Pardee. Just a few days ago his son had been fine – healthy, riding about Boston – saving school children from a terrible accident. What happened to him in such a short period of time that could have brought him to the brink of death?
Then, there was Scott. His normally stoic son had apologized - but for what offense? Surely he had nothing to do with what happened his brother. From what Joshua Armstrong had briefly told him, Scott had saved Johnny. But the question remained – from what? Murdoch understood Johnny had gone missing and that Scott had searched high and low for his brother before finally finding him – but the details of what had happened burned at the edges of Murdoch patience.
The doctor’s words had brought no comfort to the worried father. Johnny could die, with or without the operation. The transfusion alone could kill him. And what about the risk to Scott? Could he loose both of his boys in one single event?
“Sit down, Murdoch.” Jim Davis stood and gently stopped his friend’s pacing. “You’ll help no one if you wear yourself out.”
“My boys are in there!” He pointed to the operating theatre. “They could be dying…” The words tore at his heart as he looked to his friend for help. “I can’t loose them – not now…”
“And you won’t” Jim soothed, guiding his friend to the bench.
From his corner seat, Harlan Garrett took in the anguish of his former son-in-law. This was supposed to be his revenge on the man who had taken his daughter. But now, he found himself in the same unenviable position. His grandson was in there – his own beloved Scotty – and he was as much to blame as the man he had commissioned to kill Johnny.
“This is my fault,” The mumbled words escaped his lips without his realizing they had been spoken aloud.
“What did you just say?” Murdoch’s head snapped up, turning to his former father-in-law.
Harlan looked up, startled. “Did I say something?”
“Don’t try to hide from me, Harlan – what have you done?” Murdoch demanded taking long strides towards his old adversary.
Harlan tried to regain his composure, but the enormity of his potential loss overrode his poise. Bowing his head, he confessed. “This is my folly…”
“Your folly?” Murdoch was now standing over the seated man. “Harlan….”
“I never meant it to happen this way….”
“Just what did you mean to happen? What have you done to my sons?”
Harlan’s eyes flashed. “Scotty was my son longer than he’s been your son…”
“That’s not true, and you know it!” Murdoch barked. “He has always been my son, only you kept him here….”
“If you had really wanted him you could have fought for him – but no – you chose to keep company with that Mexican woman and breed with her! What sort of life would that have been for my Scotty! Reared by a foreigner - with a half-breed brother!”
The words struck Murdoch like a slap in the face and he moved closer to the older man his hands now clenched into fists. “How dare you…!” He had let Harlan get away those words once before – for Scott’s sake. Never again!
Jim Davis was once again on his feet and quickly moved to separate the two men. “Mr. Garrett, I suggest that if you can’t keep a civil tongue in your mouth that you keep it shut!”
Harlan considered the suggestion and looked away. It was dark outside - dark and cold, much the same way that Harlan felt inside. When had he become so cold and bitter? Searching his soul he knew that it was on the day that Murdoch Lancer had come and taken his Catherine away. A bit of him died that day and every day afterwards. The only spark of light he had was when he had learned of Catherine’s pregnancy. He had raced across country to be with her - to talk some sense into her and bring her home. She had given birth to Scott in some God forsaken town and died shortly thereafter. From that moment Harlan’s path had been clear: he would steal from Murdoch what had been stolen from him. For 24 years he had been successful in keeping the father and son apart. He was not prepared when Scott chose to go out west to be with his father. Never in his dreams did he think that his grandson would betray him the same as his daughter. He had lost to Murdoch Lancer not once but twice!
The debacle of his visit west was yet another loss in the Garrett score book. The trap that he had so carefully laid for Scott with the Deegan brothers had backfired and had almost gotten his grandson killed. Harlan had admitted that he was sorry for the way he had attempted to get Scott to return to Boston, but not for the thought behind the deed.
By luring Scott to Boston, on the pretext of the wedding, he had hoped to rekindle his relationship with the young man. He knew his grandson, and after the failure out in California, there was no way that Scott would ever choose to stay in Boston unless there was an extreme circumstance. He thought that if something were to happen to Johnny that Scott would choose to stay in Boston rather than to face his father. Pierce should have killed Johnny quickly and have been done with it. But no! Pierce had followed his sick and twisted ways - choosing to keep the half-breed alive and torture him for his own amusement. Pierce had ruined everything! Now Scotty lay beyond his reach, in the operating theatre, risking his life to save the life of the man he chose to call his brother.
Harlan had lost again.
His mind told him that he was too old to continue this fight, but his heart, his cold heart yearned for the warmth that only one person could provide – Scott. There would never be any satisfaction until the young man was with him once again. He was Harlan’s saving grace – his legacy. Staring out into the darkness, he remembered the words that Scott had yelled at him - the accusations of his involvement in Johnny’s disappearance. His mind slowly came to the realization that Scott was right and the time had come for him to admit his defeat.
Harlan looked up at Murdoch with haunted eyes. “I only wanted to have Scott back with me. He belongs here in Boston, not in the wilds of California…”
Murdoch looked at his adversary, his anger just boiling below the surface. “Harlan, what did you do?”
“I never meant to hurt Scott. You must believe me…”
“That I believe.” Murdoch responded in an even voice. “But, what about Johnny?”
Harlan turned away, shaking his head, unable to state what he had instigated.
Nathan Potteiger had been silently sitting in the far corner of the room. He had watched the interaction between the two men. It dawned on him that nothing good was going to come of this situation - both men stood to loose someone they loved. “Mr. Lancer?” He stood and moved toward the angry rancher.
“Who are you?”
“I’m a friend of Scott’s. Nathan Potteiger…”
“Yes, the banker. Do you now something about all of this?”
Nathan looked at Harlan; he felt no compassion for the old man who had manipulated them. He then looked at Murdoch Lancer, Scott’s father, a man who had been kept from his sons for too long, a man who deserved to know why one or both of those sons should die this night. Nathan swallowed hard gathering his courage. “Sir, I am not clear on all of the details, but I just thought that you should know that Scott loves his life at the ranch and that he would never consider living in Boston ever again…”
Murdoch ‘harrumphed’ at the simple statement. “Mr. Potteiger, while I appreciate your sentiments on this topic, it still doesn’t tell me what happened to Johnny!”
“Sir, perhaps it would be best if we sat…” Nathan was just starting to tell his version of recent events when the Chief Deputy of the Boston Police Department entered the room.
“I’m looking for Scott and Johnny Lancer?” His loud voice boomed through the small quiet room.
“Can I be of assistance?” Jim Davis stepped forward – the only person present without a vested interest in what was going on in the room beyond.
“We have a report of a double murder and attempted murder in Cambridge. I’ve been sent by the Mayor to investigate.” The man looked about the room, acknowledged Harlan and Nathan. “And you are?” he asked Murdoch.
“I’m Murdoch Lancer - Scott and Johnny are my sons. Now, just what is all of this about?”
The man glanced nervously about the room before addressing the rancher. “We have discovered the bodies of Reginald Pierce and Trevor Hawthorne in the basement of the Omega Alpha Pi fraternity house at Harvard. From what we understand, Mr. Hawthorne was murdered by Mr. Pierce and Mr. Pierce was murdered by a Mr. Lancer…”
“What!” Murdoch exploded. “Which Lancer are you referring to?”
“Well, on that we’re not sure. Whoever did it, shot Mr. Pierce in the back with a pistol…”
Murdoch sat down with a groan.
“Mr. Lancer,” The deputy sat next to the large man. “From what it appears, one of your sons – we suspect Johnny, was kidnapped by Mr. Pierce and possibly….” The deputy hesitated, not wishing to be the bearer of bad news.
The man looked away uncomfortably. “We did some checking on Mr. Pierce and found that he was dishonorably discharged from the army for torturing - Mexicans…”
Murdoch looked up as if struck by a bolt of lightning. “Harlan!” He stood and again stalked towards the old merchant. “You set that man loose on my son?” It took the combined strength of the deputy and Jim Davis to keep Murdoch from grasping the neck of Scott’s grandfather. “You did this?”
By now, the deputy was confused. Why was Mr. Lancer accusing Mr. Garrett, an upstanding Bostonian and a pillar of the community, of being implicated in this affair? “Mr. Lancer, Mr. Garrett is…”
“My son’s grandfather! Don’t tell me what I already know. Tell me what I don’t!” The elder Lancer was beginning to feel like he was constantly repeating himself in his quest to find out what had happened.
“I’ll tell you.” Nathan stepped forward and for the first time in his life, decided to tell the truth as plain as he could. “Mr. Garrett contacted Reginald Pierce to kill Johnny. He took Johnny to the fraternity house in Cambridge where he did unspeakable things… When Trevor Hawthorne went to rescue Johnny, he was killed by Reggie. Reggie was trying to kill Scott when he was shot in the back by Johnny.”
The room was deathly silent as Nathan told the sordid story. Jim Davis spoke up first after the tale was told. “How do you know all this?”
“Because I was part of the group that Mr. Garrett commissioned to do the deed.”
The spoken words fell on the group like a silent bomb. All eyes then turned to Harlan Garrett who looked calmly away. “You have no proof. Only Mr. Potteiger’s suppositions and innuendos…”
“That’s a lie!” Nathan insisted realizing that the old conniver was trying to get away – free of any of the responsibility. “There is proof! Scott Lancer has it – a note in Mr. Garrett’s own hand!”
“Mr. Garrett?” The Chief Deputy turned to Harlan whose eyes widen at the accusation.
At that moment, Murdoch broke loose from his friend and advanced on the older man. “Why?” He shouted, grabbing Harlan by the shoulders and shaking him as hard as he could – waiting for an answer that couldn’t possibly explain the malevolent acts that had been perpetrated on his son. “Why? In the name of God – how could you do this?”
“I did it for Scott!” Harlan shouted back as Jim Davis and the Deputy desperately tried to pry Murdoch’s steel grip from Harlan’s shoulders. “And, I did it so that you would know the hurt that I have felt all these years for the loss of my Catherine! Johnny’s death would be just a small token compared to what I have gone through!”
“Harlan – I should kill you for this!” Murdoch shouted as he was finally dragged away, leaving Harlan gasping for breath.
It took the combined strength of the two men to keep Murdoch from advancing on the old man again. Jim looked from his friend to where Harlan now sat- a broken man. He had no pity for the old man – only contempt.
The Chief Deputy was completely stunned by the scene that had unfolded. Harlan Garrett held a position of high standing in Boston society – any accusations would have to be handled carefully. “I’m going to call an inquest to handle these accusations. The investigation will continue. Right now I have two dead bodies. And depending upon what happens in there,” the deputy indicated the operating theatre, “there may be an additional charge of murder or attempted murder. Testimony will be needed from Mr. Scott Lancer and Mr. John Lancer before charges can be formally placed. Until such time, Mr. Garrett and Mr. Potteiger will be placed under arrest for attempted murder!”
It was into this tension filled room that Dr. Kane walked - after completing the surgery. Murdoch’s attentions immediately went from anger to anxious concern. “Doctor?”
“The transfusion went without a problem. Scott is sleeping…”
“And Johnny?” The others had let go of the big man, his attentions now focused on thoughts of his youngest.
“I think that you had better come with me.” Dr. Kane held out his hand and firmly grasped Murdoch by the arm, leading him from the tension filled room.
“What about me?” Harlan asked wanting to follow.
Henry Kane turned and considered the man. “Scott told me that he doesn’t want to see you – at least not yet.” He turned back to Murdoch, never seeing Harlan Garrett as he slipped back to his seat, the picture of defeat.
The doctor led Murdoch through the operating theatre where the nurses were beginning to clean up the bloody mess that had been left behind. Murdoch paled at the sight. So much blood had been lost – was it possible that he was being taken to his son’s lifeless body? Swallowing away his fears, he followed the doctor down a short hallway and into another room. There lying in separate beds were his two sons.
“Doctor?” Murdoch stood in the doorway staring at the scene. Scott lay pale as his sheets, his even breathing indicating he was sound asleep. The sight of Johnny took Murdoch’s breath away. Johnny was laid propped up –a sheet covering his legs, his chest swathed in white bandages. His left arm was wrapped to his chest to prevent him from moving the previously injured shoulder, his breaths coming as harsh rasps.
“It was touch and go, and I have to admit that we’re not out of the woods yet.” The doctor looked at the distraught father with compassion. “The knife wound did some internal damage that we repaired as best we could. He has broken ribs from the beatings and another deep wound to his leg. Right now, we’re afraid of infection. He’s been through hell…”
“If you only knew,” Murdoch whispered brushing past the doctor to lay a hand on his son’s head. He was taken by heat. Johnny’s face burned bright with fever; his black hair matted to his forehead. He knew his son was sick, very sick. “His fever is too high…”
“I know,” the doctor acknowledged. “If doesn’t go down soon we’ll have to ice him down. We’re also keeping him sedated so that he won’t pull his stitches or re-injure himself….”
“He doesn’t like medicine…” Murdoch picked up a cloth from a nearby basin and began to dab at his son’s fevered brow.
“I know, Scott told me – but it is for his own good.” Henry pulled up a chair so that the exhausted father could sit. “Mr. Lancer, if he makes it though the next 24 hours, he should survive.”
“He’ll make it.” Murdoch spoke the words with conviction. “He’ll make it and I’ll be taking them both back to Lancer where they belong.” Murdoch settled himself into the hard chair and gently took his son’s hand. “Come on son. You can fight this…”
Scott awoke to find himself lying in an unfamiliar bed. It was still night. A single gas light dimly lit the room. He felt light headed and confused until his eyes focused on the sleeping form of his father. Murdoch had fallen asleep, his head resting on his brother’s bed. “Murdoch?” He whispered trying to catch his father’s attention without disturbing Johnny.
Murdoch awoke with a start. Looking expectantly at Johnny, he sighed thinking it was a dream. Then he heard his name called again - turning around, he faced the blue eyes of his oldest. “Scott!”
“How is he, sir?”
Immediately worried by Scott’s formal tone he went to his side. “He’s sleeping…”
Scott closed his eyes and gave a sigh of relief. “I’m sorry…”
“Son, there is nothing for you to be sorry about…”
“You don’t know the whole story…”
“I don’t need to know. What I know is that you would never do any harm to your brother.”
“But I’m the one responsible for bringing him here. To show him a civilized society…” Scott stopped remembering his own words. His breath hitched as his carefully controlled emotions began to bubble over. “I was supposed to watch over him – keep him safe. I should have listened to what was going on, that they had changed. He tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen. I’m responsible,” Scott turned away no longer able to fight the guilt that burned inside of him, ashamed as tears came.
Murdoch sat on the edge of his son’s bed and gently placed a supportive hand on Scott’s shoulder. He whispered words of comfort and forgiveness – words that came easily - for his son was completely innocent of the recrimination he was feeling. At that moment, Murdoch’s thoughts turned to Harlan Garrett. The man had a lot to answer for. Not only for the physical torture that he had put Johnny through, but the emotional torment that Scott was now suffering.
Scott recomposed himself after a few moments and lay back on the pillow. “What are you doing here? How did you know to come?”
Murdoch smiled and pulled his chair over. “You mean did I finally give in and listen to Jelly and his aching elbows?”
Scott smiled, the first that Murdoch had seen since his arrival in Boston. “His prognostication of doom?”
“Well, that and the dreams I had?”
“Dreams?” Scott asked remembering his own nightmare of just a few nights ago.
“I guess that we’ve been together long enough that I know when one or both of you are in danger…” Seeing that Scott wanted more detail, he continued. “I had dreams of your brother tied up, of blood - and you…”
A chill shivered up Scott’s spine thinking how close to fact his father’s dreams had been. “I’m glad you’re here. Johnny needs you more than he needs me...” Scott’s eyelids were becoming heavy and slowly closed.
Murdoch gently patted his son’s shoulder. “Get some rest. We’ll sort this out in the morning.
awoke again a few hours later; sunlight was now streaming through the window.
Rubbing his eyes he looked over to his brother’s bed and was alarmed to
find it empty! Throwing the covers aside he placed wobbly feet on
the ground and weaved towards the door. “Johnny!”
On weakened legs, Scott made his way into the hallway. “Johnny!”
Within moments, a nurse came running and placed a supportive arm around his midsection. “Mr. Lancer – you must lay down!”
“My brother, where is my brother?” Scott insisted, fighting the nurse’s attempts to turn him around.
“His fever spiked, they had to take him to cool him down. Now, we have to get you back to bed…”
“No! Take me to my brother! I have to be there!”
Sensing that there would be no arguing with this determined patient, the nurse slowly guided him down the hall to his brother. They came to a closed door and the nurse paused. “Mr. Lancer, I don’t think….”
“Take me to him.” His tone of voice indicted that he would brook no more argument.
Reluctantly she opened the door and guided her patient into the room. She felt him tremble as he observed his brother, naked, in a metal tub of iced water. For the first time Scott was able to view the full effect of the torture that his brother had been subjected to. There were bruises evident over the majority of his body in varying degrees of color from deep purple to pale yellow. There was the ugly laceration across his chest as well as the ungodly large incision that the doctors had used to repair the internal damage done by the stab wound. His left thigh was inflamed with infection from the knife wound there. “Oh God,” He moaned, leaning into her more.
“Scott!” Murdoch stood, taking the burden off the small woman, and guided his son to a stool. “What are you doing here? You should be resting.”
“I woke up and you were gone…” his eyes never leaving the pale form of his brother. “What happened?”
Henry Kane was sitting next to Johnny, carefully monitoring his patient’s condition. “You’re brother’s temperature went up, we decided to try to cool him down before he had another seizure…”
“What?” Scott asked anxious for the rest of the news.
“He’s had several seizures. We don’t know…”
“Know what?” Scott demanded of the doctor.
“There could be internal damage. During the surgery we had to repair a small laceration to his liver. He needs to be still to prevent any further tearing or he could hemorrhage. There could be further complications…”
For the first time Scott noticed that there was a bandage on his father’s arm, much like the bandage he had on his own. “He had to have another transfusion?”
“Your father was the only available donor.” Dr. Kane hadn’t wanted to risk a transfusion with Scott again - it was too soon and Johnny’s need was too great to wait. Murdoch was the only viable choice.
“Only a small amount.” Murdoch reassured Scott, rubbing the sore spot on his arm.
Scott leaned closer to his brother – afraid to touch the fevered man. “How’s he doing?”
“His temperature is going down and the seizures have subsided. We re-sutured the incision and have given him more morphine…”
Scott winced, again looking at the large incision on Johnny’s side where they had preformed surgery. The wound was ugly, but was not red or inflamed like his left leg. “You said there could be other complications. What do you mean?”
The doctor was uncomfortable, looking nervously from father and brother. “In cases where there is high fever, seizures or lack of oxygen, there could result in a loss of mental capacity…”
“No!” Scott shouted turning away, focusing on his brother. “There isn’t! He’s going to be alright! You’ll see…”
“Scott,” Murdoch pleaded. He had already had this conversation with the doctor and it had shaken him deeply.
“No!” Scott shouted at Johnny. “Tell them you’re alright! That you’re going to get better!” He waited for a response - there was none. Defeated, he sagged holding tightly onto the sides of the metal tub. “What have I done?”
Murdoch went to Scott, and guided him away from his brother and back down the hall to his bed. The young man collapsed into the soft covers and laid still – his thoughts spiraling out of control. The trip had turned into even more of a nightmare than he ever thought possible.
“Scott, you’ve got to rest and get yourself strong. Your brother is going to need your help.”
“My help?” Scott laughed bitterly. “Don’t you think that I’ve done enough?”
Murdoch sighed. “I think nothing of the sort! I think that your grandfather has a lot to answer for…”
Scott looked sharply at his father. He had never told Murdoch about what had happened. “You know?”
“Nathan told me. There’s a deputy waiting to speak with you about what happened at Harvard when you’re strong enough.” Murdoch hesitated to tell his son the worst, but there was no escaping Scott’s inquisitive eyes. “Your grandfather is in jail. It seems that Reginald Pierce was dishonorably discharged from the army for torturing - Mexicans. Harlan…”
A moan escaped Scott’s lips as he rolled away from his father and curled himself into a ball. His grandfather had done this intentionally! How could he have ever loved such an evil man? He remembered Harlan’s visit to Lancer just a few short months ago and how coldly Harlan had tried to manipulate his life. The man had learned nothing – except to become even more desperate in his pursuit of Scott’s affections.
“Scott, we’ve got to get past this and think about your brother. He’s going to need us now more than ever.” Murdoch stood looking at his tormented son. His heart was broken for the losses – his youngest may have just slipped away from him – never to be the same. And what about Scott? Would he ever recover from the loss of everything he once held as sacred? Could he ever recover from the loss of his brother? Defeated, Murdoch left the room in search of his own solace.
Murdoch exited the hospital, sick of the smell of illness and death; sick of the thought that he had lost his sons - again. It was a cool fall day, the kind of day that the young men would have enjoyed back at the ranch. Taking a deep breath of the crisp air he closed his eyes. In his mind he could picture Johnny and Scott on their horses riding out to check fences or move the herd. What little hope he had of returning home with the same men who had left was evaporating.
Jim Davis found his friend sitting on the Hospital steps facing Cambridge Street. There was a slump in Murdoch’s shoulders that he had only seen on one prior occasion – 19 years ago when Murdoch had come to Boston to reclaim Scott. Harlan Garrett had turned Murdoch away with the threat of a protracted legal battle that would have surely turned child against father. “Murdoch?” He gently tugged at his friend’s arm getting his attention.
“Jim?” Murdoch startled as if he had been in a state of shock. His hair was disheveled and his color pale.
“You look like hell.”
“I feel like it.” Murdoch stared at his feet feeling as low as the cobblestones beneath them.
Seeing that his friend was not forthcoming with information, Jim pursued the conversation. “How are the boys?”
“Boys?” The big man turned to his friend. “Harlan may have killed them both. That’s how they are….”
Jim gripped his friend’s arm. “What happened?”
“Johnny survived the surgery, only now he’s having seizures from the fever…”
“Guilt is killing him.”
“But he’s done nothing wrong! It was all Harlan!”
“Well, tell that to my son! Guilt is eating him alive – he stands to lose so much - his grandfather – his brother…” Murdoch choked and hung his head. “Johnny is dying. They don’t hold out much hope…” Murdoch turned and faced his friend. Bitter words flowed from his broken heart. “Some father I’ve been to Johnny. I have succeeded in being with him for the two most important events of his life – his birth and his death!”
Jim stared at his friend speechless. This was not the Murdoch Lancer that he knew. “You’ve let him win.” He said evenly.
“Harlan Garrett – he’s won and you’ve lost…”
“Yes! What do you call this? Your sons are in there – they need you! As long as Johnny breathes – there’s hope! And what help are you being to Scott, leaving him alone to wallow in his own self pity? He need’s you – now!”
Murdoch turned stunned eyes to his friend. He opened his mouth to argue only to find that his lips were turning up in a grim smile. Jim was very similar to Jelly – speaking his mind when Murdoch least wanted unsolicited advice. Was that why the old wrangler was such a welcome addition to his family? “Thanks, I guess I deserved that.” Murdoch said standing and stretching his tired muscles.
“You’re welcome,” Jim stood and slapped his friend on the back. “Is there anything I can get for you?”
“Can you stop by Harlan’s and bring Scott some clean clothes? I think they threw away the clothes he was wearing yesterday.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be back in an hour or so….” He paused before he left. “You ought to know, Harlan is out on bail. There’s a hearing scheduled in a few days.” Murdoch nodded his understanding. “How is Scott taking this?”
“Not good. A lot of what will happen depends on Johnny…” Murdoch looked away. So much depended upon the recovery of his youngest son; how could he return to the ranch without that boy? Together Johnny and Scott had made the large structure a home - with their laughing, fighting, teasing and shouting. Murdoch didn’t know how much he missed being a father until they were both gone again. He didn’t think that Scott would ever be the same if Johnny made anything less than a full recovery.
His thoughts then turned to Teresa and Jelly - waiting, across country, for some word on what was going on. He hadn’t even sent them a wire to let them know that he had arrived safely. “Jim, can you do me a favor? I need to send a wire to the ranch…”
“Consider it done. I’ll let them know…”
“Don’t tell them about Johnny’s condition – I don’t want them to worry to….”
“I’ll take care of it.”
Johnny had been drifting in and out of consciousness – in and out of pain. He had been aware of his father’s presence while he had been lying in a large room with bright lights. In his drugged state, he had thought he was delirious. There was no way that his father had come across country to be with him – how could he have known? These thoughts were pondered again when he awoke again in a tub of ice cold water. He was shivering so hard that he thought his teeth would shake themselves loose. He was hot and cold at the same time – too weak to open his eyes – but not unable to hear what was going on around him.
He heard his father’s voice again and dully thought he was still delirious until he heard the worried voice of his brother. Scott sounded terrible, arguing with someone that he, Johnny, would be alright. Alright? What was wrong with him? He tried to move, to give a sign that he was alright, but he couldn’t move – couldn’t speak. Pain he could feel – sharp pains in his side and in his leg. It hurt to breathe and after a fashion it hurt to think, so he stopped, falling back into the safe and warm darkness of his mind.
Murdoch re-entered the building, returning to the room where Johnny had been iced down. He was now out of the tub and lay semi-reclined on a rolling table. The wounds were now re-bandaged and heavy blankets covered him. His breathing was coming in short rasps. A black tube had been inserted into his nose, for what, the rancher had no idea. “How is he?” Murdoch asked stepping closer, not wishing to startle the young doctor so intent on his patient.
“He had another seizure after you left.” Henry Kane was exhausted, frustration showing in his demeanor. “We’ve got the fever down – for now. But he’s deeply unconscious…”
“A coma?” Murdoch offered, not unfamiliar with the term. Since having his sons come to live with him, he had brought them - Johnny in particular, through many medical crises.
“I think coma may be too strong a term, but frankly I’m at a loss for what more I can do for him. The tube in his nose goes down to his stomach – we’ll feed him sugar water to keep him nourished and hydrated.” Henry Kane felt defeated. He had tried everything he knew to save his patient, but nothing appeared to be working. He hated himself for not being able to prove his pompous colleague wrong and for placing the young man’s family in such emotional turmoil.
“You’ve given him a chance and for that I am grateful.” Murdoch looked closely at his son. Johnny’s cheeks were sunken and dark circles surrounded his eyes, but his face was no longer flushed with the fever that had gripped him during the early morning hours. He looked like death – a caricature of the robust young man who made his presence known throughout every inch of the ranch. His son - his lost boy - who brought such light into the lives of his family. The ranch was alive when he was there and his family missed him when he was gone. Looking at his son now, Murdoch came to the hard realization that even if Johnny survived, he might not be the same young man he had once been. The high fever and seizures might have left untold internal damage – particularly to his brain. Dr. Kane explained that in some cases, patients with such high fevers lost the ability to think or reason, that they lose memory or their personalities change. There could also be paralysis or ultimately death. “When will we know…?” Murdoch asked looking expectantly at the physician.
“I wish I could tell you. If we can keep his fever down and his wounds free from infection….He was young and healthy before all this happened…” The doctor looked quizzically at Murdoch. “I’m curious – there are a lot of old wounds…”
Murdoch sighed gently fingering his son’s thick black hair. He gave the young doctor a lot of credit for not asking about the old scars before now. “My son has had a very hard life…”
“But I thought you were a man of means…”
“I lived on the ranch while Johnny was raised by his mother in Mexico. Well, to make a long story short – he was a gunfighter. Each one of those scars was another time that Johnny had cheated death. I can only pray that his luck holds.”
Jim Davis went directly to Harlan’s house. Jennings answered the door and ushered him inside. “Mr. Lancer sent me to get a few of Scott’s things…”
“Who is it?” Harlan’s voice boomed from his study.
“It’s a Mr. Davis,” Jennings announced.
Harlan immediately came out of his study to inspect his guest. “How’s Scotty?” He demanded impatiently.
“If you’re asking did he make it through the transfusion – the answer is yes. If you’re asking how he is – that I don’t know….”
“Why – what’s the matter with him?”
“What’s the matter with him?” Jim’s eyes flashed. “He’s just had his world torn apart – that’s what the matter with him! His brother may be dying because of you!” He could scarcely believe that Harlan could stand there and wonder why Scott wouldn’t be alright.
Harlan’s eyes flashed at the stern words. “What is your business here?”
“I came to get Scott some clothes. The ones he was wearing yesterday were ruined…”
“Yes, of course. Jennings will see you get the appropriate clothes…” With a dismissal of his hand, Harlan returned to his study and closed the doors.
Jim turned to Jennings who indicated that he should follow him upstairs. “How is Mr. Scott?” The concern in the gentleman’s gentleman was unmistakable.
“He’s quite upset over everything that has happened. You know that his father is here, don’t you?”
“Mr. Garrett was quite boisterous in his announcement of Mr. Lancer’s presence.” Jennings eyes held a measure of amusement. “I’m glad for Mr. Scott that his father is here. How is Mr. Johnny?” By now they were in Scott’s room. Jennings pulled out a small satchel and filled it with Scott’s personal items and a change of clothes.
“From what his father tells me he is not well – they’re not expecting him to…” Jennings placed a hand on Jim’s arm as his voice began to falter.
“Don’t say those words – lest they come true. Do you think that Mr. Lancer would mind if Alberta and I came by to see Mr. Johnny? We grew quite fond of him during the short time he was here.”
“Not at all. You could do me a favor though,” Jim paused while Jennings indicated that he would try. “I want you to pack up all of Scott’s and Johnny’s belongings and have them delivered to my home. They’ll not be returning here.”
Jennings nodded his understanding. “It’s a shame that it had to come to this – Mr. Garrett has lost so much...”
“And Scott Lancer even more.” Jim finished. “Tell me, did you know about any of this?”
Jennings was horrified at the question. “Certainly not! I’ve known Mr. Scott his entire life. He made it clear when came that it was only for a visit. I also know how much he thinks of his brother. I would never have let this happen if I had known about it!”
Jim smiled at the response. “I had to ask. Listen, if you and your wife ever need a job, come to me. I could use a good man and a good cook.”
A lone rider made his way to the Lancer Ranch. In his pocket was a telegram from Murdoch marked urgent. Jelly saw the horse and rider as it crested the hill a mile away from the ranch house. It wasn’t any of the hands – they were all in the north pasture attending to the branding. From the dust that was being kicked up, he feared that it was bad news.
“Teresa?” He went to the house and called out for the young woman who was now the heart of the Estancia.
“Yes?” Coming from the kitchen, she was wiping her hands on her apron, her eyes looking where Jelly was now pointing. “It must be a note from Murdoch,” she surmised. Turning she went back to the kitchen to get the rider a cool drink and some fresh cookies for his trouble. She was returning with a heavy tray by the time the rider, Jimmy Farlow - a neighbors son - came to the door.
“Miss Teresa?” The breathless rider reached into his pocket and withdrew a folded note. “I got it here as soon as I could.”
“Jelly, tend to his horse. Jimmy, you have a seat on the veranda and cool yourself.” Both Jelly and Jimmy were amazed by the calm the young woman projected. Everyone in town knew that Murdoch had left to go and fetch his sons – it was assumed that something was terribly wrong.
With steady fingers Teresa opened the note and read the contents. With a gasp, she clutched the note to her chest and used the edge of her apron to wipe the tears that were now rolling down her cheeks.
“Teresa?” Jelly asked softly going to her side. She held out the note. Taking it, he quickly scanned the contents swallowing hard to control his own rush of emotions.
ARRIVED IN BOSTON. <STOP> FOUND THE BOYS. <STOP> BOTH IN HOSPITAL <STOP> WILL COME HOME WHEN ABLE <STOP> M.
Turning to her, Jelly gathered her in his arms and held her while she broke down and cried. It had been a long time in coming – ever since Murdoch had gone after the boys. She was left to run the ranch with the help of Jelly and Cipriano. She had done it before, after her father had died and Murdoch was convalescing from his wounds. But this was different. This time Murdoch was across the country – across the world – looking for the two men she had come to think of as brothers. She had put up a brave front, but Jelly knew it for what it was – a front. They had been expecting bad news and it was here. “Shhh,” He soothed. “You know them boys. They’ll be right as rain in no time – an’ back here pestering you…”
“Oh Jelly, I hope so!”
Johnny made it through the remainder of the day and night without any more seizures. His father and brother took turns wiping his forehead and speaking words of encouragement. There was no response. His breathing had settled to a slow and steady rattle that both reassured and scared them. He was fed sugar water through the tube in an effort to get his strength up. It was decided not to give him any more pain medication in the hope that perhaps it was the medicine that was keeping him from regaining consciousness.
Alberta came, having announced that she and Jennings had left Mr. Garrett’s employ. She gently shooed Murdoch from the sick room – sending him back to the Davis residence for some much needed rest. She would look after the boys – her boys now.
It broke her heart to see Scott in such a worried state. He was a kind and gentle soul, with an underlying strength that was hard to break – but break it Harlan Garrett had done. He had ripped the heart right out of the boy, leaving him lost and seemingly alone. She sat with Scott while he stared across the expanse that separated himself from his brother. “This is my fault,” he whispered.
“Now why would you think that?” She gently questioned.
“I brought him here – to Boston…”
“And it was a fine idea. I believe that your brother was enjoying his trip. He came for you – to learn more about you – to make up for all of the times that you were apart.”
“But look what happened to him because of me,” Scott turned away, unable to bear the sight of the still form any longer.
Gently Alberta reached and turned Scott’s face back. “You look at him, Scott Lancer, you look hard. Did you ever think you’d have a brother? Did you ever think of what a blessing you’ve been given? He is your brother and you’ve shown the world what he means to you. Don’t write him off just because times are tough! You fight for him like you fought to survive the war, like you fought to save that ranch of yours, like you fought to become your own man – despite your grandfather!”
Scott’s eyes grew wide at her wise counsel. “So, you’re telling me to stop feeling sorry for myself?”
Alberta smiled and warmed his heart. “You know what you have to do. You fight for it and you don’t ever let anyone tell you different.” She bent over and gave him a kiss on his forehead like she had done so many times when he was a small boy. “You get some rest. I’m going to have a talk with that brother of yours and see if we can’t set things straight.” It didn’t take many minutes before Scott fell into an exhausted sleep. Alberta kept a watch over him until his breathing was even. It was then that she turned her attentions to her other charge.
Pulling the chair close, she sat and picked up Johnny’s right hand. “My, oh, my.” She whispered taking in his battered features. She could understand why everyone was so worried. The young man before her was a mere shell of the man who had been laughing in her kitchen just a few days earlier. “Mr. Johnny,” she picked up the damp cloth and began to dab at his face. “There are so many people who need to see those bright blue eyes of yours. Your father and your brother are both worried sick. But, I can understand that you’re just tired. Well, you take all the time you need. You rest and you get well. Just don’t take too long. Your brother is going to need your help soon, and you’ve got to be here for him. Until then, you rest and let me care for you.”
From the door way, Henry Kane watched as Alberta worked her magic on the Lancer men. She had gotten Murdoch Lancer to take a much needed break before he collapsed. Scott had stubbornly refused to rest, in spite of their efforts to get him to do so, but within a matter of minutes of her arrival she had talked him into taking a nap. Now, as he listened to her speak with his patient, he fully expected to see Johnny Lancer open his eyes and smile.
Sensing that she was not alone, Alberta turned in her chair and beckoned the doctor to join her. “I want to thank you for pulling this boy through.”
Henry gave her a kind smile and then turned his attention to his patient. “I’ve done my best. The rest is up to him.”
don’t you worry.” Alberta smiled and squeezed the doctor’s hand.
“He’s going to be just fine – you’ll see. You’ll all see.
Johnny’s nightmare had only begun. On the few times that he ventured towards consciousness, he was overcome by the pains of his wounds and the seizures that accompanied his fever. He was weak and exhausted – finding no way out of the dark dreamscape that had become his life.
In his dreams, he relived, over and over again the nightmare of his childhood – the taunting by other children and the people in the villages he had lived in with his mother. He was an outcast - a Mestizo. His mother tried to protect him from the harsh words and treatment, but after awhile even she saw it as her punishment for trying to enter the gringo world. As he got older, the taunting changed from verbal abuse to physical abuse. It became a game, he felt like an animal being hunted. His thoughts ventured to the hunting club and Nathan’s attempt to describe fox hunting. He felt for the fox, for once he had been one – until he became Johnny Madrid.
He remembered the men in his mother’s life – the ones who tried to teach him his place. They were the men who would whip him with their belts or beat him with their fists. Many times he dreamed that he was back in the locked cellar where his mother’s last lover had left him trapped for so long. He relived his mother’s death - through the eyes of the 12 year old boy he once had been; reliving the sight of her blood and her lifeless eyes staring at him. He was again engulfed by the helplessness and guilt he felt for being unable to prevent her death. These memories battered his soul.
Recent events swirled into the dreamscape – the trip to San Francisco – his desperate attempt to avoid the confrontation with Henderson’s men. The lash of the whip as it was dragged painfully across his back. The men and how they changed from being the tormentors to the tormented when his bullets found and stopped them.
By far the worst were the nightmares of Reginald Pierce. Like an omnipotent being – his face was foremost in his mind like a grotesque mask. Over and over he heard the unbelievably cruel words spoken by the madman. They taunted Johnny as he once again felt Reggie’s knife cut at his exposed flesh. Helplessly he felt his blood flow from his body as he hung in the unending darkness of his cell. The one prayer he had for salvation was Scott – but in his dreams he wasn’t able to save him. Reggie’s gun fired killing the one good thing in Johnny’s life. Depression filled Johnny as he realized that it was his very existence that had placed his brother at risk. He had been responsible for so many deaths in his lifetime – now he had killed his brother. Reggie, the dead image of Scott and all of the other men he had killed in his lifetime now haunted his dreams. They would come after him with guns blazing – their bullets tearing into him while he lay powerless to defend himself. They laughed and tormented him – damning him to hell for the things that he had done as Johnny Madrid.
For awhile he had attempted to fight the nightmares – desperately trying to remember the good things that he had done, but as he became overwhelmed by the evil that had been perpetrated against him he began to give up.
There was no salvation. No hope. No Scott. No Murdoch. No Lancer.
“We’re losing him,” Henry Kane had just completed his latest examination. It was now 3 days since the surgery. Johnny’s bodily functions were shutting down. His heart rate was dropping, breathing was becoming slower and the fever refused to relinquish its hold on his body. The only good thing was that as long as he remained still his internal organs would have a chance to heal.
Scott and Murdoch were devastated. They had spent every waking moment by his side speaking words of encouragement – only to be spelled by Alberta – who calmly insisted that Johnny was only resting before he decided to return to them.
“What do you recommend?” Murdoch asked defeat etched on his face.
“I don’t know what to try anymore. The wounds are healing – there’s no sign that his liver has been further compromised. The fever has been reduced, but still lingers. I’d have to agree with Alberta – it’s up to him…”
“Then what?” Scott asked desperately. He badly wanted the doctor to come up with some sort of miracle cure. They were loosing his brother - a man unique to him in the entire world – he was of his own flesh and blood – and he wasn’t ready to give him up. Scott looked from his father to his brother. Already the firm muscles were becoming flaccid and loosing definition. The tanned complexion was waxy white compared to the darkness of his black hair. His thoughts turned to home – to Lancer. It was where Johnny belonged and they had to do what ever it took to get him home again.
Murdoch winced at his son’s words. Desperation was not something that Scott easily gave into, but he feared that they were looking at desperate times. As a father, he could only think of one thing that he wanted – he wanted his son home. If Johnny was going to die then it shouldn’t be in the hospital. He too thought that Johnny should be at home, on the land that had given him life.
Murdoch looked at Scott and then at Johnny. He came to a realization that the hospital was surely killing both of his sons. It was a place of sickness and death. Scott wasn’t sick – he was exhausted, but there was no rest in this place. What Johnny needed couldn’t be found in a bottle of pills or potions. They both needed home. Conceding to himself that there was no way that Johnny would survive the trip back to California; he decided to settle on the next best thing. “How soon before he can be discharged out of here?”
“Discharged….?” Henry was troubled by the question. His patient was in no condition to be moved down the hall let alone out of the building.
Murdoch looked at Scott who was clearly puzzled about his father’s question. “I want to get him out of this place – it’s killing him.”
“Take him where?” The doctor asked cautiously.
“We’re staying with Mr. James Davis. He lives on an estate just outside of town, about 2 miles from here. I’d like to take Johnny there”
Henry understood what Murdoch was thinking. Hospitals, provided invaluable medical services – but they could also be breeding grounds for contagious infections. Many of the men injured during the Civil War had died in hospitals due to the spread of infectious diseases. Johnny was certainly at high risk for infection due to his injuries. While he didn’t like the idea of his patient being moved from his immediate care, he couldn’t argue with the logic. “Is there someone there who can care for him?”
“Alberta,” Scott volunteered smiling at his father’s idea. “She works for Mr. Davis now. I’m sure she would do it.”
Henry gave the suggestion careful consideration. “I’d like to keep him here for another 24 hours. Let’s get him stabilized and then he can be moved to the Davis Estate – no farther.”
“Agreed,” Murdoch stated looking at his unconscious son. He knew the move was risky – but he had to get Johnny away from this place of death and out among the living. Perhaps then his son would come back to him.
Johnny was aware that things were changing around him. He felt his body being wrapped in warm blankets and moved about. Strong arms lifted him from the bed he had been laying and set him on a stretcher. He tried to listen, but he was so tired and the pain too intense. Later, he remembered being outside – bright sunshine on his face accompanied by cool crisp air. It felt like being alive – something he hadn’t felt for what seemed to be forever. Gentle hands moved him, keeping him safe. The smells were different – fresh and alive. Finally, he was laid once again in a bed, but it was different. He felt his body sink into firm softness and then wrapped in blankets that didn’t smell of antiseptic. It felt like home, but he knew it wasn’t.
With the change came different dreams. They weren’t as dark as the nightmares. They were filled with memories of his short time at the ranch, of the times he was able to find comfort in his mother’s arms and of being with his brother – Scott. Johnny found himself liking this new place. It gave him strength and hope. Every once and a while, Reggie Pierce would come for a visit sending him back into turmoil, but the visits came fewer and far between.
Alberta was there to oversee her patient. She carefully tended to his wounds, feeding him through the tube that the doctor had insisted on leaving intact. There was a change in the young man – she saw it as soon as they brought him to the Davis house, but she dared not speak of it lest he take a turn for the worst. He appeared to be more at peace than he had been in the hospital. She felt that he was resting better now that she was able to give him fresh air and sunlight. He was never alone. She took turns with his father while Scott got the rest he desperately needed.
Murdoch worried continuously for his sons. As Johnny was slipping away, so was Scott. The older son was overcome with guilt and remorse that it was his actions that had brought his brother to this end. As much as he could, Murdoch tried to convince Scott that he had done nothing wrong. But Scott couldn’t forgive himself - not until he heard those words come from Johnny. Johnny wasn’t talking.
Henry Kane was a frequent visitor, coming two times a day to help Alberta tend to Johnny’s healing wounds and to make sure that he wasn’t getting worse. He too noticed a distinct change in his patient after the first 24 hours. Before leaving the hospital, he had worried about Johnny becoming jaundiced – but already his complexion seemed to be changing. He decided to keep his observations to himself until he was certain that the improvement was steady.
Three days after the Lancer brothers left Massachusetts General Hospital, the Chief Deputy came to speak with Scott. He had put off seeing the young man until Johnny’s condition had been determined. The report from the Hospital was that Johnny Lancer was being sent to the Davis home for convalescence but that the prospects for recovery were poor. The mayor was pushing for a resolution. He wanted charges either placed against Harlan Garrett for his role in this heinous crime or he wanted the matter dropped.
A meeting was held at 10AM in the formal drawing room of the Davis residence. Scott, still weak from his own ordeal, had dressed in a proper suit. Alberta made sure he was seated close to the fire lest he catch cold. Scott had not heard from his grandfather since before Johnny’s surgery. There had been no note or inquiry, though he was sure that Harlan was keeping tabs on his health. He also had not seen or heard from Joshua or Nathan. Alberta had told him that Andrea had left to tour Europe shortly after receiving word that Johnny had survived the surgery. Her father, after finding out about the plot, had called off the wedding and had sent her abroad to visit a great Aunt. He easily convinced the authorities that as a woman she had little to do with the affair and had whisked her away. It angered Scott that there had been no attempt to apologize for what had happened, no explanation for why they had plotted behind his back to kill his brother. None of what had happened made any sense to the former military man. He spent every waking moment wondering what he had done to have caused his normally rational friends to try to murder his brother.
“Mr. Lancer,” The Chief Deputy entered the room and immediately addressed Scott. “I’m sorry to be disturbing you at a time like this…”
“Chief Deputy, there is never going to be a good time for this. What can I help you with?” Scott cut the man off, not wishing to prolong the meeting with pleasantries.
The Chief Deputy was not completely stunned by Scott’s clipped response. It was known that Scott had studied at Harvard and had been an officer during the war. “Alright, I’ll get right to it. The Mayor has asked for an inquest into what happened to your brother. We have a statement from Mr. Potteiger that you may have evidence of your grandfather’s involvement. Is that true?”
Murdoch looked to his son. They had not discussed what evidence Scott held and he was curious to know exactly what Scott had to say about this.
“Let’s say there is evidence – hard evidence. What will happen to those involved?” Scott asked cautiously.
“The Mayor has authorized me to tell you that he will recommend to the prosecutor that all means be used to make sure that the guilty are punished to the fullest extent of the law.” The man puffed out his chest, sure of the reassurance that he was giving the Lancer family. His words backfired.
Scott looked away from the man and stared at the fire. Murdoch and Jim Davis exchanged worried glances, unsure of Scott’s reaction. For Scott, this was the final act of a bad play. Whatever he decided now would change the fate of his grandfather – forever. What good would it do to condemn his grandfather if Johnny was gone? Nothing was going to bring back his brother should he succumb to the worst. He wanted his grandfather to be held accountable for what happened, but he was unsure of what to do. He wanted to talk to Johnny. He needed to talk to Johnny. He wanted someone to take this terrible decision from him.
“Scott?” Murdoch laid a hand on his son’s shoulder.
“I don’t know if I can. Please forgive me, but I’m not sure I can do this…” Scott spoke in a hushed whisper not turning to face his father. “I need time…”
Murdoch gave Scott’s shoulder a squeeze in understanding and turned to the Chief Deputy who was anxiously awaiting a response. “My son requires some more time to think about this…”
“Think about what? Either he has the proof or he doesn’t!”
“My son needs time!” Murdoch snapped back. “Come back tomorrow and he’ll give you an answer.”
Scott dismally made his way up stairs and to the room where his brother lay – sleeping. Alberta was there, rocking gently in a chair, knitting something – a blanket Scott supposed. “How is he doing?” He asked acknowledging her presence.
“Fine, just fine. We were having a long chat about snow, weren’t we Johnny?” Jennings had been in earlier and had given the injured man a much needed shave and had helped with a sponge bath.
Scott looked at the still and pale face of his brother. There had been no conversation, only Alberta’s constant chatter to keep the room from being silent. “I need to speak with him – alone.”
Alberta smiled. “He’s been waiting for you to come.” She patted Scott’s hand as he held the door for her. “You have a long chat with him – you’ll see – he needs you.”
Scott waited for her footfalls to descend the stairs before he pulled a chair close to his brother’s bed. Maybe it was the light, or the recent shave, but he thought that there was some color in Johnny’s cheeks that hadn’t been there before. Closing his eyes, he realized that this was, perhaps, a trick of his mind’s eye wanting his brother to be better. Gently he picked up a lifeless hand and held it tight. “Well, Brother. The time has come. The Chief Deputy came today. He wants me to testify against my grandfather for what happened to you. You know, don’t you? It was Harlan who sent Reggie to get you – to torture and kill you – all in a plot to keep me here in Boston. Johnny, if I had known that he had become so sick and twisted – I never would have brought you here!” The emotion was swelling in Scott’s chest and he could scarce contain it any longer. “Oh, God,” he moaned. “I would give anything if it were me laying there and not you. I never meant for this to happen! I wanted to show you where I grew up, for you to meet my friends – to show you another world outside of the ranch. I wanted to show you that there was a place where it doesn’t matter where you come from. “Scott looked anxiously at his brother from some response - there was none.
“Johnny, you can’t leave me! I can’t do it alone. The ranch, Murdoch, Teresa… how can I face them knowing what I let happen to you? I was supposed to protect you and now…” The tears were flowing and Scott felt his heart break. “I can’t go back without you! What am I to do? Tell me! What am I to do?”
Johnny could hear someone calling to him. The voice was familiar and so troubled. He could feel himself moving closer and recognized the voice of his brother. But Scott was dead – wasn’t he? After a bit he realized that it WAS Scott and he was ALIVE, but he was upset about something. Was he saying it was his fault? NO! Responsible? NO! He realized that he HAD saved Scott from that monster, Pierce! He listened and felt Scott’s words of remorse stab at his heart the same as Reggie’s knife had cut at his flesh. He had to let Scott know that it wasn’t his doing!
He pushed hard through the pain and darkness and into the light. He felt a warm hand on his. He held on to that hand and squeezed as hard as he could. When he felt the squeeze returned, he knew he had finally broken through.
“Johnny?” Scott had been holding his brother’s hand when it began to contract in his own. Startled, he looked at Johnny’s face. Gone was the repose of a sleeping man, the brow was now furrowed in concentration and suddenly blues eyes began to blink open. “Murdoch!” Scott yelled holding tight to his awakening brother. Satisfied when he heard heavy feet running up the stairs he focused again the sleepy sapphire blue eyes. “Johnny?”
Johnny gave a sharp gasp as his senses were assaulted by stabbing pains in his side and leg. He wanted to speak, but there was something uncomfortable running down the back of his throat. Swallowing was hard and his mouth felt as dry as the desert. “No…” he forced out through gritted teeth.
“Shhhh, don’t talk…” Scott tried to calm his brother who was now starting to writhe in silent agony.
Johnny refused to be calmed. “Not… your…fault….”
Scott paled, realizing that his brother had been listening to him. Alberta had been right; he was there, just waiting for someone to wake him up. “Johnny, I’m sorry…”
“No!” Johnny repeated more forcefully.
“Scott?” Murdoch huffed into the room and took in a scene that he had given up hope of ever seeing. Johnny’s eyes were open and were now staring steadily at him. “Johnny!” A smile filled the older man’s face as he sat on the edge of the bed, one hand on Scott’s shoulder, the other on Johnny’s right leg. “Son?”
Johnny took in the sight of his father. He was confused to see the old man – thinking he was still dreaming he closed his eyes and then reopened them. “Murdoch…?” The name was spoken slowly in a rough voice. His winced as he again tried to swallow. Suddenly his back arched as an intense pain lanced through his chest. A sweat broke on his lip and forehead concerning his father and brother.
“I’m here, Johnny. You’re going to be fine, just fine….” Murdoch soothed, holding Johnny’s free hand and squeezing it firmly
Scott wrung a wet cloth from the nearby basin and gently wiped Johnny’s face. “Easy there…” he whispered and after a fashion, Johnny settled, opening his eyes again. “You’ve had us very worried.” Johnny tried to lift his left hand to rub his aching temple, but found that he couldn’t move the arm that was once again bound to his side. His eyes flashed in concern. “Johnny you’ve been very sick. Do you remember anything?”
Johnny remembered – he remembered it all. He didn’t want to remember it anymore. He wanted it to go away. He wanted to go home. The pain was intense and he was so tired.
Alberta came in carrying a tray with a pitcher of water and some of the medicines that the doctor had given them before they left the hospital. “I see my patient has woken up.” She went to the far side of the bed and laid a soft hand on his forehead. His temperature was warmer than it had been. “Mr. Lancer, why don’t you have Jennings go fetch Dr. Kane?”
Murdoch reluctantly left the room, but not before he laid a reassuring hand on his son’s chest. “I’ll be right back.”
Scott smiled broadly as Johnny’s eyes caught his. “Welcome back, little brother.”
Johnny tried to nod or smile, but found that he was too exhausted to move. Slowly his eyelids slid shut and his breathing became even.
Alberta smiled at Scott. “I told you he was waiting for just the right moment to wake up…”
“Do you really think that he’ll be alright?” Scott brushed Johnny’s bangs from his pale face noting the new heat emanating from him.
“I think that in time he’ll be just fine.” Her steady reassuring voice warmed Scott like it had when he was a child. “Now, did your brother give you an answer to what you wanted to know?”
Remembering his reason for coming upstairs, Scott recalled what he had been telling his brother and what Johnny had tried to tell him. “He told me that I wasn’t responsible…But, I still don’t know what to do about grandfather.” He looked up at the woman who for so many years had been his surrogate mother. “What should I do?”
Alberta shook her head. “God has given you many great gifts. The greatest of them all is family. You had your grandfather for all those years – he raised you, cared for you and helped to make you the man you are today. This man,” She nodded towards Johnny, “he is your brother – but you’ve only know him for one year. At this moment – who do you know better?”
Scott swallowed hard and considered the words. At this very moment his grandfather was a complete stranger – no longer the man who had fathered him for 24 years. Johnny, the former gunfighter, with the soul of a lost child, was the man that his heart ached for.
Sensing Scott’s increased turmoil, Alberta continued. “Now, what would Johnny want you to do?”
Scott smiled and looked to his friend. “What makes you so wise?”
Alberta laughed and gave her charge a hug. “Child, it’s moments like this that make life worth the living. Now, you go get some rest. The doctor will be here soon and we may need your help.”
Henry Kane arrived a short time later. He assessed Johnny’s condition and determined that the young man was indeed on the mend. “We need to remove the feeding tube so that he can get some proper nourishment. I’d like to give him something to take the edge off the pain….”
At that moment, Johnny’s eyes opened. He took in the people gathered around him- uncomfortable that he was the center of attention. Scott was the first to notice that his brother was awake again. “Johnny?”
Dr. Kane observed the interaction. Johnny was responding to his brother – a sign that his condition was better than he dared hope. “Mr. Lancer?” He went to Johnny’s side, pleased that the young man was able to follow him with his eyes. “I’m Dr. Kane. I’d like to remove the feeding tube.” He went to his bag and pulled out a vial and a syringe. “I’m going to give you some medicine to ease the discomfort….” The doctor stopped when his patient’s head turned away and pleading eyes looked to his father and brother.
“Johnny,” Murdoch spoke calmly. “I think the doctor is afraid of hurting you. The medicine will ease the pain…”
“No…” Johnny shook his head and whispered the word.
“Mr. Lancer – Johnny – this will hurt…”
“Do...it…” Johnny whispered, his eyes locking on the doctor, almost daring him to try to give him the pain medicine.
Henry Kane looked for help from Murdoch and Scott and could tell that they were in full agreement with whatever Johnny wanted. “Alright, then...Johnny this may take awhile. The tube goes down to your stomach….”
Johnny nodded his understanding and closed his eyes, bracing for what was to come. Murdoch held tightly to his right hand while Scott moved out of the way. Slowly and steadily Dr. Kane removed the tube as gently as he could – but it still tore at tender tissues. Johnny fought to remain still, gritting his teeth and holding tightly to his father until at last the dreaded tube was removed.
Alberta handed Murdoch a cup of tepid tea which he gently held to his son’s lips while Dr Kane helped to raise him. The first few sips were excruciating as the fluid flowed past raw and torn tissues. Johnny pushed the cup away. “No more…” he croaked.
“You’ve got to drink,” Dr. Kane insisted.
“Just a bit more, son” Murdoch urged tipping the cup again. Johnny swallowed a few more sips, before clamping his mouth shut and closing his eyes. Murdoch looked at the doctor, who gave a nod to let Johnny rest and laid him back against the pillows.
They all waited a few breathless moments before Johnny opened his eyes again.” How bad?” Blue eyes turned to the doctor demanding a truthful response.
Henry Kane glanced at Murdoch before giving his patient his undivided attention. “You were stabbed in the side and were bleeding internally. We had to do a surgery – your liver was damaged by the knife – but in time you should be alright. There’s another wound to your left leg that was infected. It’s been treated and is doing better. You have several broken ribs and other bruises from a beating….” Henry stopped, watching as his patient took in this information. As the litany of injuries was being laid out, it seemed that Johnny was becoming pale - as if reliving the experience all over again. The doctor hesitated to go into much more detail for fear that Johnny would be overcome by memories. “Your brother and father both gave blood to save you.”
Johnny’s eyes flashed remembering how he had begged his brother not to place himself at risk. “Scott, OK?”
“I’m fine, Brother. You’ll find that you’ll have better fashion sense now!” Scott laughed nervously hoping to break the tension that was mounting in the room.
Johnny snorted before turning to his father. “Murdoch?”
“I’m fine, son, just fine. It was very simple and worth every drop that they took.” Murdoch laid a reassuring hand on Johnny’s right arm and gave it a gentle squeeze.
The next question was no surprise to the Lancers. “Home?”
All eyes were now on the doctor who answered his patient directly. “Johnny, you were badly injured – between the accident on the street and the wounds you received when…. Well, it’s going to be awhile.”
“How long?” Murdoch asked for everyone.
“I’d say at least five weeks – maybe more…”
Johnny groaned and turned his head away. “I think that we had best let him rest,” Alberta shushed the men from the room and closed the door. She watched Johnny for a few moments -waiting until finally he opened his eyes again. “No, you don’t get rid of me like you do those men folk. I’ll have none of that feeling sorry for yourself, no sir. Now, we’re going to work at getting you better – whether you like it or not. There are a lot of people counting on you to make a full recovery and one of them is Scott.” Alberta was pleased when Johnny’s eyes flashed at his brother’s name. “That’s right. Scott needs you. He needs you to get better. So, you’re going to rest now. I’ll be back in a bit and we’ll see about getting you something more to drink.” Gently she smoothed back his hair and tucked in the blankets. She thought about pulling the drapes, but thought better of it. This young man had been kept in darkness for too long – in the basement cell and in the hospital – sunshine was what he needed. Quietly she closed the door and made her way to the drawing room where his family was waiting.
Murdoch and Scott were elated by Johnny’s waking up. It was the best sign that perhaps they could move past this ordeal and get home. Dr. Kane and Alberta were not so optimistic.
“Yes – it’s a very good sign that he’s finally awake – but he is still a very sick young man. The infection in his leg is getting better, but we still have to watch the incision site for infection and his temperature is still not normal. He’s been through a lot and he’s weak. Above all else he needs to be kept still to let the internal damage heal.”
“But he seems to know us and what is happening – that’s good, isn’t it?” Scott was anxious for someone to say that his brother was going to be alright.
Henry gave Scott a small smile. “From what I’ve observed, it appears that he may have escaped any brain damage. But as far as his being alright…”
“Scott,” Alberta laid a hand on his shoulder. “Remember how you were after you came home from Libby Prison?” She had been there when he had returned – gaunt, uncommunicative and bitter. It took months for him to get ‘better’ and move on with his life. “I don’t know that brother of yours, but he has been through a terrible ordeal. He may not be the same….”
“Well, we can work on that once we get him back to Lancer.” Murdoch said confidently. “He’s awake and he’s getting better – that’s what counts.”
While Henry Kane and Alberta shared in Murdoch’s enthusiasm both knew that Johnny had a long way to go before they would consider him ‘better’.
Along with the return to consciousness came the nightmares. Once again, Johnny was back in the dark, dank cell that Reggie created. He awoke with a start just as Reggie’s knife began to pierce his chest.
“Easy, Brother.” Scott was there with a gentle smile and a cool rag. Johnny’s eyes darted around the unfamiliar room, his face a mask of confusion. “We’re at Jim Davis’ house. We brought you here from the hospital three days ago. Do you remember?”
Johnny, who had tensed at the strange surroundings, relaxed responding to his brother’s words. “Murdoch?” He whispered, unsure if he really had seen his father earlier.
“He’s here. He finally got tired of hearing about Jelly’s sore elbows and came to make sure we were alright. Good thing, huh?” Scott smiled trying to convey confidence to his ailing brother.
A frown crossed Johnny’s face and his brow furrowed trying to piece together the events that had led him to this point. “Reggie?”
Scott sucked in his breath unsure whether he should tell his brother everything, but one look at the confused blue eyes and he knew that the truth would be the best. “You killed him just before he tried to kill me.”
“Good.” A hit of amusement sparkled in Johnny’s eyes as he caught Scott off guard with his response. “Trevor?”
“We think that Reggie killed him – is that what happened?”
The amusement fled and Johnny turned his head away from his brother. It was coming back to him – the pain – the aloneness. He remembered Trevor coming for him – thinking it was Scott. He had tried to help Trevor by tripping Pierce – he gasped and his fingers dug into the blankets as he remembered the knife as it entered his side.
“Easy,” again Scott was there trying to reassure him. “Don’t think about it…”
“Pierce killed Trevor…” Johnny squeezed his eyes shut trying to fight away the memory. Finally, with the pain and the memory under control, he turned back to his brother. “Why?”
The simple question cut Scott to the core. How could he tell his brother that it was all because of him that Johnny had suffered? “I’m sorry, Johnny….”
Johnny shook his head. He didn’t want an apology from Scott. He wanted the truth. “Not your fault.” The words came slowly as Johnny’s strength ebbed and his eyes closed.
it is.” Scott watched as his brother fell into a deep sleep.
So much pain and all at the bidding of one man – Harlan Garrett.
Determined that no one should ever suffer as Johnny had, Scott made up
his mind. He would meet with the Chief Deputy in the morning and
give him an answer.
Johnny spent a rough night, refusing to take the medicine that would have eased his pain. Alberta stayed with him, trying to distract him from the discomfort with conversation and lullabies. Finally, at 2AM he fell into an exhausted and restless sleep.
Murdoch came in shortly thereafter to spell her. Alberta was providing comfort to Johnny, a job that was normally relegated to Teresa. Looking at his ailing son he wished for the soothing presence of his ward, but accepted Alberta as the next best thing. He had come to appreciate that Alberta and Jennings had been so much more to Scott than just a butler and a cook. They must have been the positive, caring influences that were reflected in Scott’s behavior as an adult. He couldn’t see Harlan imparting either of those qualities to anyone.
With sad eyes he watched as Johnny lay in tormented sleep. Pain was evident on the young man’s face that was once again flushed with fever. The good news was that he was alive and that he would get better – though it may be a long time in coming.
He cursed Harlan for what he had done to Johnny and for what lay ahead for Scott. He worried that Scott would be further torn by having to testify against his grandfather. There was no way around it. Murdoch understood that Scott had a note written by Harlan. Scott had not shared the note with him, so he didn’t know its content. The anguished father could only suppose that it was damning to the old man and he was glad of it.
Scott crept into his brother’s room shortly after 7AM to spell his father. Murdoch was exhausted. Between the trip, the worry and the transfusion the elder Lancer was not as strong as he wanted to think he was. “How’s he doing?” Scott whispered taking a seat beside his father.
“He’s awake.” Johnny whispered without opening his eyes.
Scott and Murdoch glanced at each other exchanging a smile. Each was remembering Johnny’s recovery from Pardee’s bullet. They had come to realize that Johnny would play possum when he tired of their hovering. The fact that he was reverting to this old habit was comforting to his family. “How are you feeling, son?” Murdoch asked wringing out a cool wet cloth, replacing the warm one on his son’s head.
“I’ve been better, and from what I gather, I’ve been worse.”
“That’s a fact,” Scott snorted at his brother’s dry humor.
Johnny opened his eyes and caught the twinkle in his brother’s eyes. It was good to see Scott smile; it made him want to smile too – almost. He sighed and then winced as his ribs protested the large inhalation. “Anyone want to tell me why this happened to me?”
Murdoch frowned wanting to avoid this conversation until Johnny was stronger. “Why don’t you tell us what you think?”
Johnny rolled his eyes impatiently. If he had wanted to guess, he wouldn’t have asked. “Never mind…” He closed his eyes and turned his head away.
“Johnny….” Scott was concerned and so was Murdoch. When his brother refused to look at him, he went to the other side of the bed leaving the injured man flanked by his father and his brother. “Talk to me Johnny. What’s the matter?”
Johnny’s eyes flashed open. “What’s the matter? I’m trussed up like a Turkey in a strange house, I hurt like hell and I can’t….”” He tried to sit up, but was immediately stopped by the pain in his side and the grating of his broken ribs. Moaning deeply through clenched teeth he fell back and lay still for a moment.
“Johnny you’ve got to lay still,” Murdoch commanded. “If you don’t the doctor will have to come and give you some medicine…”
Johnny’s eyes flashed open, windows of the torment and pain that he was feeling. “No!” he spat. He wouldn’t be threatened. As it was, he felt like a trapped animal - desperately wanting to escape the dreams that tormented his sleep and the pain that racked his waking moments – but drugs were not the answer. How could he make them understand that, for him, taking pain medicine would be like trading one torment for another? A tear of frustration and pain rolled down a pale cheek as he lay still - refusing to look anywhere but at the ceiling.
“Then tell me what we should do?” Murdoch was at a complete loss. He had seen Johnny hurt before, but none of those times prepared him for the feeling of helplessness that he was feeling now. His son was hurting both physically and emotionally. But was he strong enough to know the truth behind what had been done to him?
For a moment Johnny’s eyes met his father’s before he looked away and closed them. He didn’t want sympathy. He didn’t want drugs. He was filled with an anger that he could scarce contain – he wanted, needed to know the ‘why’ of what happened. He wanted the answer so that he could come to terms with it. There had to be an answer – a solution to the puzzle that would give him some peace. In his mind he had already relived the experience over and over again like a scroll of paper on a player piano – but there was no beginning and no ending. He needed to know the ending, but no one was telling him the beginning - the why. “Just leave me alone,” Johnny whispered closing his tired eyes, falling into a miserable, dark, restless sleep.
Johnny was awakened a few hours later by the sound of people arguing. Concentrating, he realized that the voices were coming through the heat register cut in the floor next to the nightstand. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on listening. He recognized the voices of his father and brother. He even recognized the voice of Murdoch’s friend – Jim Davis. The fourth voice was the loudest. The stranger was demanding something – from Scott! A piece of paper? It was all confusing to Johnny until he heard something that at last made sense: Harlan Garrett!
At the mention of Scott’s grandfather’s name, Johnny decided that he had to get closer to the vent so that he could better hear what was being said. Gathering his reserves, he threw off the covers and slowly rolled to his right side. With great effort he pushed himself to a sitting position. The pain was unbearable and he caught his breath as broken ribs grated each other. There was also a pulling of the stitches to his side beneath the bandages. He pressed his right hand over the large wound and swung his legs out of the bed placing his feet on the floor. A moan escaped clenched teeth as he slowly slid to the floor, careful not to alert the people below of his movements. With his left arm still bound to his chest, he crawled the few feet to the vent. Exhaustedly he sat, his back to the wall, beside the vent. Carefully he peered through the vent, looking down into the room below. He observed his father pacing while Scott sat calmly in a chair.
“Mr. Lancer – do you or do you not have evidence against Mr. Garrett?”
“Yes.” Scott spoke calmly.
“Are you prepared to turn it over to me now?”
Murdoch stopped his pacing and faced his son. “Scott, what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I am not turning over the evidence….”
“You’re going to let Harlan get away with what he did to your brother?” Murdoch asked incredulously.
“No!” Scott’s eyes flashed at his father before he looked away. “No one should ever be tortured the way Johnny was. No one is going to get away with this…”
“So, Mr. Lancer,” the Chief Deputy was desperate to get some clarification of Scott’s intentions. He had been told by the Mayor to get this issued resolved – now. “Exactly what are your intentions?”
Scott stood to face the official. “I would like to present the evidence myself…”
“Testify against your grandfather?” Jim Davis could hardly believe that Scott would want to take the stand and speak against his grandfather.
Scott nodded his response. He remembered his stay at Libby Prison and how his silence about the failed prison break had resulted in former friends coming after him for an offence he hadn’t committed. There would be no misunderstanding this time. This time, the guilty would be punished.
“Scott,” Murdoch went to his son. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“My grandfather instigated this entire affair. He arranged for Johnny to be captured and killed like some animal. Like it or not, I have to testify - for Johnny.” Scott said firmly. “When is the hearing?”
The Chief Deputy sighed. “The hearing is scheduled in 4 days – Monday at 9AM.”
“Tell the prosecutor that I will be there with the evidence.”
Johnny sat in stunned silence on the upstairs floor. He could scarcely believe his ears. Harlan Garrett had set up the entire scenario. His blood boiled in anger - that one man could direct that much malice towards him. It wasn’t a new feeling – but it conjured up all of the old offences that his recent nightmares had brought back to his conscious mind. Just as his anger was peaking, he again looked down through the vent. Scott was there alone. He watched as his brother sat heavily in a chair and took a piece of paper from his coat pocket. Suddenly Scott crumpled the note in his hands, lowered his head and began to cry.
Johnny was taken by this sudden emotional change in his brother. After several moments he realized just how conflicted Scott had to be. Scott had been presented with an impossible task, to testify against someone – right or wrong- that he loved. Johnny leaned back against the wall and tried to imagine what his brother was feeling. At that moment, Johnny forgot about his present emotional turmoil. His thoughts turned back to a time after the death of his mother when he had decided that he would never again be a victim; that was what Harlan and Pierce had turned him into – a victim. But, they had also turned Scott into one as well and for that there was no forgiveness. With a grim smile, he resolved that he would be a victim no more. He had to get himself better and be there for his brother. Now he knew the beginning - the ending was up to him.
Feeling better mentally than he did physically, Johnny attempted to stand. With trembling legs he pushed himself up the wall until he was upright. Slowly he began to ease himself back to the bed, leaning heavily against the nightstand. He almost made it until his left leg gave way. Falling, he gave a sharp cry as the stitches in his side gave with a rip. He was out cold before he hit the floor.
Alberta entered the room in time to see her charge fall to the floor. Dropping her tray of clean bandages and supplies, she let out a scream and ran to his side. What she saw took her breath away. Johnny was lying in a heap on the floor, his night shirt now stained with fresh blood. “Good Lord!” She swore as she knelt on the floor. Grabbing the sheet off the bed, she pressed it tightly against the bleeding wound.
Murdoch, Scott and Jim Davis came running at the commotion. “What happened?” Murdoch asked kneeling beside his son.
“He must have tried to get out of bed…” Alberta supposed. “He’s bleeding again…”
“Damn!” Murdoch swore. “What was that boy thinking? Scott, help me get him back in bed.” Alberta moved out of the way and together the two Lancers picked up the unconscious Johnny and lightly deposited him back in bed.
“I’ll have Jennings go get Dr. Kane,” Jim volunteered leaving the room.
Murdoch and Scott watched helplessly as Alberta took a scissors from her apron pocket and cut away blood soaked bandages. They both sucked in their breath at the sight of the reopened wound. Fortunately not all of the stitches pulled open, but those which had were bleeding. Alberta directed Scott to use a clean cloth and apply direct pressure to the wound while she went to get hot water and more bandages.
“What do you suppose he was up to?” Scott asked, worried about the latest injury to his brother.
“God knows!” Murdoch swore, discouraged at this latest setback. “Whatever it was must have been important…” He paused as Johnny was showing signs of coming around. “Johnny?” He watched anxiously as blue eyes flitted open and then squinted in pain.
“Hurts,” he winced looking at his brother who was pressing a cloth against his injured side.
“It can’t be helped, Brother. Where were you going in such a hurry that you couldn’t wait for help?”
Johnny frowned. He didn’t want Scott to know that he knew about Harlan. Obviously, that was the reason that they had refused to give him a direct answer to the question he had asked earlier in the day. “I must have fallen out of bed…,” he lied closing his eyes. “How bad?”
“You ripped a few of the stitches and you’re bleeding again – trying to purge my blood from your system?”
“Yeah, I don’t want to end up too ‘pretty’ like you.” Johnny attempted humor, realizing that he must have scared his family. Scott smiled at the response, while Murdoch’s frown only became larger.
It became obvious that Murdoch was very upset over this latest event. “Johnny, if you’re not sleeping properly, perhaps you should consider some of the medicine…”
“I don’t need no medicine!” Johnny angrily protested. The sharp retort cost the injured man dearly. He closed his eyes tightly trying to master the growing pain in his side. Finally, with the pain and his breathing under control, he whispered: “I just want to go home...”
Murdoch’s frown deepened, but he had no desire to argue with his son. “Alright, son. Dr. Kane should be here soon.” He ruffled Johnny’s hair, fondly, before leaving the room.
Both brothers watched as their father left the room. Scott studied Johnny briefly, shaking his head. “You can’t fool me, Brother. You didn’t just ‘fall’ out of this bed. What have you got going around in that head of yours?” The bleeding had stopped and Scott moved to sit beside his brother on the bed. Johnny tried to look away, but Scott wouldn’t let him. He turned Johnny’s head and looked him full in the eyes. “You didn’t fall out of bed – did you?” Johnny closed his eyes and remained silent. Seeing that his brother wasn’t going to give him an answer, Scott sighed in frustration. He knew that there was something bothering his brother, but Johnny wasn’t sharing. It hurt the blonde to know that on top of the physical pain Johnny was in, he was now plagued by an emotional hurt that he wasn’t sharing. Scott rose to leave the room. Johnny’s rejection of his efforts to help hurt too much.
Realizing that Scott was upset, Johnny couldn’t let his brother leave without trying to soothe his injured heart. “Scott?”
Scott turned to look at his younger brother. There was something in the pain filled eyes that caught his breath. “What?”
“Don’t go. I don’t want to be alone…please?”
Scott smiled and returned to the seat he had vacated. “You’re not alone Johnny. I’m here and I’m not going to leave you.”
“I know…it’s just that I want you to know that none of this is your fault….”
“You don’t know…” Scott began to protest.
“Scott, you weren’t the one who tied me up. You didn’t give Pierce the knife to do what he did to me and Trevor. You saved me and for that…” Johnny paused as he felt himself reliving the pain of the long hours he spent in the basement of the fraternity house. In spite of his resolve to remain strong, a single tear rolled down his cheek. It stunned and amazed him that he could so easily give in to the emotion of fear that had held him captive as much as Reggie’s ropes. It was something he had not faced for a long time and it shook him to the core. “…I’m grateful.”
Scott took his brother’s hand and held it tight while he used his other thumb to wipe away the tear that had fallen along Johnny’s cheek. Gently he stroked Johnny’s hair until weary eyes closed and Johnny was asleep. Looking at the now peaceful face of his brother, Scott smiled. Johnny had again reassured Scott that he didn’t hold him responsible for what had happened. It went a long way to making Scott feel better, but it still didn’t remove all the guilt or solve the dilemma of his testifying against his grandfather. “It’s alright, Brother,” he whispered. We’re going to get through this together.”
Dr. Kane arrived a short time later and did a quick examination. There did not appear to be a re-injury to the internal organs, just bleeding from the torn stitches. With Alberta’s assistance he re-stitched the wound and gave his patient stern instructions to stay in bed and rest. He also examined Johnny’s left shoulder and after a promise from his patient to behave, he decided not to rewrap the left arm to Johnny’s chest. The arm was placed in a sling to prevent him from moving it too much.
Johnny had remained quiet throughout the entire examination, stoically enduring the pain of the poking and prodding necessary to determine whether he had done himself further injury. As everyone was preparing to leave him for a nap, he held out his hand and snagged the doctor’s wrist.
Startled by this action, and sensing that Johnny had something to ask without the presence of his family, he quietly closed the bedroom door and sat in the chair next to the bed. “Well?”
Johnny looked awkwardly at the ceiling, trying to gather his thoughts before addressing his doctor directly. “Is it true,” he started in a soft whisper. “Is it true that speaking to a doctor is like speaking with a priest – I mean you can’t tell?”
Henry was taken aback by this question. This was not what he had expected. “I have taken an oath to protect my patients and provide them with the best care possible. Is that what you mean?”
Johnny licked his lips and shook his head. “If I tell or ask you something…”
“Yeah, in confidence, do you have to tell my father or brother?”
Sensing that Johnny had something important on his mind, Henry weighed the question heavily. Obviously the young man needed to speak with someone – other than a family member. From the pained look on Johnny’s face, the problem had to be quite serious. “Johnny, you can tell or ask me anything and I give you my solemn promise as your doctor that your words will go no further.”
Johnny’s eyes searched Henry Kane’s dark brown eyes. Satisfied with what he saw he looked away. “The truth – how long before I can get out of this bed?”
“Johnny, we can think about trying to sit you up – maybe tomorrow or the day after. You’re ribs were pretty badly broken. After that, you can sit in a chair for small periods of time…”
“How soon before I can walk?”
“Is that what you were trying to do today – walk?” Johnny didn’t answer; just the briefest of smiles crossed his lips. Henry frowned. “Listen to me, Johnny. You lost a lot of blood from your injuries and the surgery. We did transfusions from your brother and father, but it will take a long time before you’ll be strong enough to stand up without your head spinning.”
“How soon?” Johnny repeated.
Henry sighed, resigning himself to answer the question. “A week, maybe more….”
Johnny closed his eyes. That was not what he wanted to hear. The hearing was scheduled for 4 days. In 4 days he had to be ready to walk into that courtroom to help his brother. “OK. The pain… I need medicine…”
Henry inwardly sighed. Murdoch had suggested giving Johnny some medicine for the pain, but in front of his father, Johnny had stubbornly rejected the idea. He had watched as both Lancers struggled in a battle of wills until Murdoch had backed down. Now, the doctor was puzzled by the sudden change of heart. “But you told your father that you didn’t want any medicine?”
Johnny smiled ruefully. “It’s a game the old man and I play. Him trying to tell me what I need and my refusing to listen…”
“A battle of wills?” Henry suggested.
“Something like that. I won the battle, but he won the war.” Johnny’s tone turned deadly serious. “I need the medicine.”
“Alright, I can leave a bottle of laudanum with Alberta…”
“No!” Johnny’s eyes flashed. “That’s the part I don’t want them to know.”
“I don’t want them to worry about me.” Johnny gave Henry his best pleading look and the doctor felt himself falling into his patient’s trap. From his bag he pulled out a small bottle and handed it to Johnny.
“You only need to take…”
“I know what I need.” Johnny said taking the bottle and secreting it into the sling. “I’ve had it before.”
Remembering the old scars he had seen on Johnny’s body he imagined that Johnny did indeed know all about laudanum. “All right, Johnny. But there is a promise that you have to make me.” Johnny raised his eyebrows in response. “No more attempts to get out of bed. Promise?”
“No more attempts,” Johnny promised, gently patting the bottle under his arm.
Of all the people in the Davis household, Alberta was the least fooled by what had happened that morning. Johnny had charmed and cajoled his way around the direct questions asked by Murdoch, Scott and Henry Kane – about how he ended up out of his bed. She had been standing in the doorway watching him for the briefest of seconds before he fell. She alone knew that he hadn’t ‘fallen out of bed’.
She returned to his room for her nightly duty after both Murdoch and Scott had said their good nights. Quietly she entered the room and made herself comfortable in the rocking chair near the lighted nightstand. With her knitting in hand, she rocked, humming to herself until Johnny could no longer deny her presence. “You gonna say something?” He asked in a soft drawl expecting her to be angry with him.
“Oh, I have nothing to say.” She continued to rock and hum, her needles clicking in rhythm to the tune that came from her throat.
“Alright, then I got something to ask, how come you and Jennings are here and not at Harlan’s house?”
Alberta paused her rocking, caught off guard. No one had told Johnny about Harlan or the coming trial. “Mr. Davis offered us a better job…”
“After 25 years?” Johnny asked softly. Alberta bit her lip, but remained silent. “Was it because Harlan is messed up in all this?”
The older woman caught her breath and began rocking again, her knitting all but forgotten. “What makes you say that?”
“No one wants to talk about why this happened. I figured that there had to be more – enough to make my father and brother want to keep it a secret.”
“Well, you’re wrong.” Alberta said firmly. “I came because Mr. Davis offered me a better job and because Mr. Scott needed me.”
“And me?” Johnny asked trying to ease the woman’s feelings. He had placed her in an awkward position – a position she didn’t deserve.
She smiled and picked up her knitting again. “Well, you may have had something to do with it. I think Mr. Scott promised the doctor that I would help.”
They remained in comfortable silence for a few moments until Alberta cleared her throat. “Where were you trying to go when I came in this morning? I know you didn’t roll out of that bed by accident.”
Johnny couldn’t answer. How could he? How could he tell her what he overheard in the room below – that Harlan Garrett had been at the heart of this entire affair and that Scott was going to testify against his grandfather? How could he tell her that he was making his own plans to help Scott who was just as much a prisoner of his own unfounded guilt as Johnny was of the bed he was laying in.?
“I’m here,” Johnny whispered. “I’m just waiting for someone to tell me the truth – why was this done to me?” He tried to move, but was rewarded by a sharp pain in his side.
Alberta waited until he had worked through the pain and opened his eyes. She hadn’t liked that he had refused the medicine that would have eased his pain. “Mr. Johnny, why didn’t you want the pain medicine?”
“Pain and I are old friends. I can handle it.”
Alberta shook her head wondering how one so young could be used to the intense pain that he was enduring. “You’re worrying your father and brother to death. Do you want them to feel sorry for you?”
“No. I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me.” Johnny gave a short gasp as another pain ran through his injured body. His response came forced and slow. “I don’t feel sorry for me – I need to help… Scott.”
Alberta was taken aback. She had expected him to say several things, but she hadn’t expected him to be thinking of his brother. Putting her knitting down, she moved the chair closer to the bed and wiped his exhausted brow. “You need to help Scott?”
Johnny looked her in the eyes and reached out for her hand. He had to tell someone his plan, realizing that he could not help his brother by himself. “Alberta, I need your help – yours and Jennings…”
“My help, for what?”
“Scott is going to testify against his grandfather…”
Alberta’s eyes grew wide. “How do you know this?”
“It doesn’t matter. We can’t let him testify.”
“But, what can be done? Without his testimony there will be no conviction…”
“He can’t testify!” Johnny argued and then succumbed to a wave of pain. He was pale white and sweating, exhausted from the deep hurt.
Alberta held his hand easing him through the rough part. “Johnny,” she started tenderly, “if Mr. Scott isn’t going to testify against his grandfather, who is?”
Johnny opened his eyes and gave her a weak smile. “That’s why I need your help and your word. Do you promise?” Deep blue eyes captured brown eyes and he knew that he had her word.
“Alright, Mr. Johnny, I promise for myself and for Jennings. We’ll do anything we can to help Mr. Scott. Now, who is going to testify against Mr. Garrett?”
True to his word, Johnny complied with every request made of him. He lay quietly in his bed, coping with the pain, desperately trying to think of a plan that would spare his brother from a confrontation with his grandfather. Murdoch and Scott would come to stay with him, but he resolutely remained silent in response to their requests to discuss what had happened. They would try to ask him how he was, but Johnny knew they didn’t want to know his dark thoughts, filled with a bitter hatred that he could not share. It took all of his reserve to push past it and focus on a solution for his brother.
Scott spent long hours by his brother’s side. The purple bruises were fading to yellow green giving the injured man an even more sickly pallor. He desperately wanted to tell Johnny the ‘why’, but was scared that his brother was not physically up to handling the truth. Johnny’s stubborn refusal to discuss what had happened was also upsetting to him. As much as Johnny wanted to know the ‘who and why’, Scott needed to know the ‘what’. His brother’s silence only fueled the bitter disappointment that Scott had for himself and for his grandfather. The only comfort he had was that the guilty would be punished – even if it included himself.
At times, the injured man would cry out in his sleep, his body contorting while in the throes of a nightmare. Sometimes the cries were in English while other cries were in Spanish. Scott wondered if recent events had brought back other dark memories to haunt his tortured brother.
Scott had been reading a book when he noticed that Johnny was having another nightmare. This one was more intense that some of the others. Johnny was moving as if fighting some unseen foe. “Johnny,” Scott called trying to wake his brother, but the nightmare only seemed to intensify.
“No, No!” Johnny moaned, struggling against the hands that sought to give comfort. “Not Scott, No!” With a start his eyes flew open as he tried to sit up. He cried out as pain from his healing injuries consumed him.
Scott gently held his brother down while Johnny’s chest heaved in short pants trying to regain control of his body. “I’ve got you. You’re safe.” Scott repeated the mantra until the panting eased. Releasing his hold on his brother he reached for the glass of water on the night stand and helped Johnny take several small sips. Satisfied that Johnny had his fill, he put the glass down and turned back to his brother. “You want to talk about it?”
Johnny’s bleary eyes focused on Scott. He desperately wanted to share his pain with his brother – his best friend, but he was afraid. Afraid that by sharing, he would hurt the one person in the world he was resolved never to harm. “It was just a dream…”
“A nightmare is more like it. You called out my name…”
“Did I?” Johnny looked away to the window.
“Talk to me, Johnny. What is it? Maybe I can help.”
Johnny considered the pleading in his brother’s voice and the concern in his eyes. He knew that he had to say something to ease Scott’s worries, but how could he when he could barely ease his own? “I’ve had them before…” he dismissed.
“The same dream?”
“Naw, dreams like it – but they go away in time.”
“But this one was about me. What was it?”
Johnny bit his lip and turned away. When he spoke again, it was in the barest of whispers. “I was back in that basement. Reggie had his gun pointed at you and he fired. He killed you Scott, and there was nothing I could do to stop him. I failed….”
“Johnny, you didn’t fail. I’m here because the good in you was stronger than the evil in Reggie. You never gave up, you fought…”
“But I did give up, don’t you see?” Johnny’s eyes were now closed and tears threatened to escape. “I wanted to die to end the pain. I knew I was going to die – I just didn’t want you to go with me. You being threatened was the only thing that kept me going.”
Scott was speechless. He took his brother’s hand and squeezed it tight. “You feel this Johnny? It’s me. You remember this feeling and hold on to it. No matter where we are – near or far I am with you. Don’t you ever think of giving up again! Do you understand?” Scott was gratified as Johnny opened his eyes and gave him a weak smile.
“Yeah, Boston. I feel it. Now do me a favor. Don’t you go blaming yourself for what happened, promise?”
It was Scott’s turn to look away. “Johnny, you don’t know what you’re asking…”
“Sure I do. I’m asking you to forgive yourself. There was nothing you could have done to have prevented this.”
There it was. Johnny had again spoken the words that Scott desperately wanted to believe and yet he felt no better because his brother had spoken them without knowing the full truth. “Johnny, I don’t think that you would be saying those words if you knew…” Scott stopped when he realized that his brother was asleep once again. Scott pulled the covers closer, tucking Johnny in. With a sigh he stood and went to the door. One day he would have to tell his brother the entire truth, but for now he was thankful for his brother’s blissful ignorance.
Scott went downstairs to sit with his father and Jim Davis. “How is he Son?” Murdoch asked anxiously.
“He had a nightmare, but he’s sleeping again.”
“Scott,” Murdoch looked uncomfortably at his son. “The State’s Attorney was here while you were upstairs. They’ve completed the review of the evidence and….”
“And?” Scott asked expectantly.
“They don’t need your testimony at the evidentiary hearing…The trial is now scheduled to start on Monday.” Murdoch watched as Scott made no outward response to this. “Scott?”
Scott turned and looked out the window. As much as he wanted the criminal proceedings over with it was too soon for him to think about actually testifying against the man who had raised him. “I’ll be alright.”
“Well, there’s more…”
“I got a telegram from the ranch – I need to go back…” He held a note in his hand for his son to read. Jelly had sent the wire. Everything was fine, but he was afraid that Teresa was becoming overburdened by what was happening. She was a strong girl, but even she was having difficulty in running the ranch and worrying about her family being so far away. “I can stay if you need me. Dr. Kane assured me after his visit this morning that Johnny is out of the woods and on the mend. I think that you can manage.…”
Scott read the contents of the note, his stomach becoming queasy. As much as he appreciated his father’s confidence, he desperately wanted Murdoch to stay. He needed him. Johnny needed him. If Murdoch left, it would be up to him to stand against his grandfather – alone. “If you need to go…”
“Son, I wouldn’t think of leaving if I didn’t think you could handle it.” Murdoch placed both of his hands on his son’s shoulders. “Scott, you’re a strong man and I’m proud of you. I want you to bring your brother home as soon as he’s able…”
Scott avoided his father’s eyes. “And Grandfather?”
Murdoch sighed, “I know what you are planning, but maybe you can find another way…”
“No sir. There is no other way. The guilty parties will need to pay for what they did to Johnny.”
“Then I’m sure that you will bring them to justice.” Murdoch squeezed Scott’s shoulders. “I’ll be leaving tomorrow. I guess that I had better go and tell your brother.”
Scott watched as his father left the room. Jim Davis poured two brandies and held one out to the younger man. “Here, take this – you look like you need it.”
“Thanks.” Scott said gratefully, swallowing the contents in one gulp.
Jim laughed and poured two more fingers of the amber liquid into Scott’s glass. “Scott, if there’s anything I can do – just ask.”
“Can you make all of this go away?” Scott asked sarcastically before finishing off the contents of his glass again.
“No, I can’t. But if it means anything, your father doesn’t want to leave. He wants to be here…”
he has to get back to the ranch and to Teresa.” Scott wanted to be
bitter about his father leaving, but he couldn’t. Murdoch had come
and had been there when he and Johnny really needed him – for that he would
be forever grateful. He still marveled that his stubborn Scottish
father would have followed a hunch based on a bad dream, and Jelly’s sore
elbows, to come all the way across country to make sure they were alright.
His leaving now was only Murdoch’s way of telling his eldest that he was
sure everything would be alright and that the boys would find their way
Upstairs, Murdoch found his youngest sleeping peacefully. It warmed his heart to know that in time Johnny would be alright. True to form, the former gunfighter had beaten the odds once again. The worried father could only wonder how many more lives his son had to give before he had no more left. He shook the morose thoughts from his mind as Johnny showed signs of waking up.
Sapphire eyes opened slowly to the sight of his smiling father. “Must have dozed off again, where’s Scott?”
“He’s taking a break. I need to talk to you.”
Johnny frowned not liking the tone of his father’s voice. “I promised that I would listen…”
“No son, it isn’t that – though I’m glad that you’ve decided not to fight your recovery. I got a note from Jelly; I need to go back to the ranch – now.” Murdoch paused as the expression on Johnny’s face changed to deep concern. “Johnny?”
“Is everything alright? Is something wrong with Teresa?”
“No, Son. Everything’s fine. Jelly was just concerned that running the ranch is too much for her.” Murdoch quickly spoke trying to ease his son’s concerns. “I can stay if you need me…”
Johnny smiled at his father’s concern. It still amazed him to think that Murdoch Lancer cared for him. A year ago he never would have thought it, but so much had changed. “It’s fine.” Johnny spoke softly. “You go on back. Scott will be here for me.”
“Are you sure? If you need me…” Murdoch was slightly taken aback by his son’s quick dismissal.
Sensing his father’s disappointment, Johnny made a quick recovery. “Murdoch, you came all the way across country not knowing what you’d find – and I’m damn glad you did. From what I’m told not only do I have some of Scott’s blood floating around in me – but some of yours too.” Johnny smiled, going a long way to soothe his father’s troubled heart. “So, any contrariness you sense is all your fault!”
Murdoch snorted and laughed at his son. “I guess I deserve that. But how do you know that isn’t from the blood you got from your brother?”
“Scott’s blood is going to give me a better sense of fashion – why I just might have to go out and get myself a pair of plaid riding britches before I leave.” Both men laughed at the comment, Johnny – until he had to hold his ribs from the pain. “You can do me one favor before you go.”
“You name it.”
“You sent me a beautiful saddle and I only got to ride it once. Can you see that it makes its way back to the ranch? I can’t wait to see it on Barranca…” Johnny paused, with all of his worries he had forgotten those things that really made him happy- the ranch, his horse, his family - all the things that made him strong and content. In that second he found his strength, his anchor to fight the nightmares that haunted him. His new dream would be to get better and get back to where he really belonged.
Noting the sudden change in Johnny’s mood, Murdoch became concerned. ‘Johnny – is everything alright? Do you need anything?”
Johnny swallowed hard, overcome by the good feeling that had enveloped his heart. “I need to go home.”
Murdoch smiled and gently patted his son’s hand. “And you will, Son. You’ll be home soon. You just take your time. Scott will be here with you and we’ll be there waiting for you.”
The day before the trial, Nathan and Joshua came to the Davis house. Jennings directed them to the drawing room where they waited briefly for Scott.
“I understand that you want to see me?” Scott asked coolly as he entered the room. There was no warm greeting or handshake forthcoming.
Nathan looked to Joshua to do the talking. “We’re going to be testifying against your grandfather at the trial tomorrow. Scott, we just wanted you to know how sorry we are that this happened…”
“Is that a fact?” Scott flippantly responded.
“Scott…” Joshua started and then stopped. “We had no control over Pierce…”
“Tell that to Trevor and Johnny.” Scott said bitterly. “Tell me, why didn’t you try to stop him at City Hall?”
“Johnny fought back…” Joshua started to explain, while Nathan sat on the davenport watching.
“And you thought that he would just let Pierce take him?”
“No, it wasn’t supposed to be that way! We were trying to convince Johnny to leave you here in Boston when Pierce rushed him. Why, it was Johnny who drew first blood!”
“So now this is Johnny’s fault? He was confronted by four men and it’s his fault he had to defend himself?” Scott shook his head not believing that his former friends were here to tell him that Johnny was responsible for his own kidnapping and torture.
“No, no,” Nathan moaned shaking his head. This wasn’t why they had come. “Scott,” he stood from his place of observation and stepped between the arguing men. “We only came to let you know that we’ve already plead guilty. We’re willing to take whatever punishment that the Judge decides. We’re here to tell you that your grandfather isn’t taking this so well…”
“And I should care because…?”
“He’s your grandfather. He would like to see you and explain …”
“He sent you?” Scott shook his head turning his back on his friends. “You tell my grandfather that the time for truth comes tomorrow when I testify.”
Nathan looked at Scott in alarm. “You’re still going to testify against your own grandfather?”
“He deserves to be punished for what he has done. I have Trevor’s note – the one covered with Johnny’s blood. If that’s not evidence enough – I don’t know what is. Now, get out of here.”
Scott could barely contain his anger after his ‘friends’ left. They still hadn’t got it! There still was no apology for what had happened. Sure, they were pleading guilty and throwing themselves on the mercy of the court – but did that mean that they were really remorseful for what had happened? From what Joshua had said it didn’t seem so. It seemed that they were still only concerned for themselves. They had no concern for their victim – Johnny.
Scott didn’t even want to think about his grandfather. His heart wept that the relationship with the older man was all but destroyed. He had thought that his grandfather had understood that he loved him, but that his life and his future were at Lancer - with his father and brother. When Murdoch told Scott what happened in the waiting room he was stunned by the words that his grandfather had said. It was only Mr. Davis’ confirmation that made it believable. The revelation that his grandfather held such hate for Johnny and Murdoch still had Scott reeling. The only hope he had for ever reconciling with Harlan would be if his grandfather confessed his part in the affair and offered an apology to Johnny. But knowing his grandfather – hell would have to freeze over first.
Feeling very alone since his father left the day before, Scott went upstairs to Johnny’s room. He was surprised to find his brother sitting up in bed, several pillows behind his back kept him propped up. He tapped gently on the open door before entering so as not to startle Johnny. The bedridden man was staring out the window, apparently fascinated by the view. “Well, this is a welcome surprise. How do you feel?”
Johnny turned a smiling face to his brother ignoring the question. “I was just watching a carriage leave with two men in it – Joshua and Nathan? What did they want?”
“Oh the usual – they wanted to blame you for your being kidnapped and beaten.”
Johnny raised his eyebrows in mock surprise at the statement. Again, he had heard every word through the vent. “Is that a fact? And what did I do that deserved this punishment?”
“I think they said that you defended yourself.” Scott turned serious and sat on the edge of the bed. “Johnny, what happened that night at City Hall when Pierce took you?”
Johnny turned away from his brother, trying to catch a final glimpse of the carriage. “It’s not important…”
“It is to me.”
It was hard not to mistake the need to know in Scott’s words. With a sigh, Johnny looked at his wrists and began to pick at the bandages that covered the rope damaged skin. “Scott…” He glanced at his brother’s grim face, and decided that there was no avoiding the subject. “Joshua took me outside where they all confronted me. They accused me and Murdoch of keeping you prisoner at the ranch and that the only reason I had come to Boston was to make sure you came back.” He glanced at his brother whose face was now a total blank. “Scott?”
Scott blinked a few times and shook his head. “Where did they ever get that idea?”
“You tell me, Brother, where did they get that idea?” Johnny asked expectantly, looking at Scott.
Startled, Scott stood and began to pace the floor. He and Murdoch had decided that Johnny should be told the truth once he was stronger – but now wasn’t the time. “I don’t know, Johnny. I just don’t know.”
Disappointment showed on Johnny’s face. “Scott, I’m a big boy. I can handle the truth…”
“I wish I could tell you, Johnny…” Scott searched the room desperately trying to change the subject. “You ready for a game of checkers?”
frowned, upset that his brother was still trying to protect him.
But, he too had not come clean to his brother about all that had happened
to him and the nightmares. Games. Their relationship was reduced
to a game – a game that Johnny was determined to win. “Alright, Brother,
set ‘em up and be prepared to get whomped.”
A half hour later, Scott carefully tucked a sleeping Johnny back under the covers. He was surprised that Johnny had actually won the game of checkers, but was concerned when his strength seemed to give out all of a sudden. Jim Davis was walking by as Scott was gently closing the door. “How’s he doing?” Jim asked following Scott downstairs.
“I think he’s getting better, Sir. He was sitting up and managed to beat me at checkers.”
“Did he? Well then, he must be getting better. Did you tell him about tomorrow?”
“No, I didn’t want to worry him…”
“You don’t think that he’ll notice that you’re not around?”
“I’ve given that some thought. I suppose that I’ll tell him the truth after the Trial.”
“And will you tell him about your grandfather?”
Scott shook his head. “I don’t want him to know – at least not yet. I’m not sure how to deal with that information myself.”
“Scott,” Jim pointed to a chair in the drawing room and indicated that the young man should sit. “I’ve contacted my attorney, Peter Ayres Wimbrow, III. He’s going to be at the courthouse tomorrow – just in case you need him…”
“I don’t understand?” Scott had never considered that he may need a lawyer.
“I’ve seen how these things go. Now, don’t take me wrong, but sometimes the best defense is a good offence. I just don’t want you blind sided by your grandfather’s attorney…”
“My grandfather wouldn’t….”
“Harlan Garrett is in for the fight of his life and he knows it. Wake up, Scott! It could very well turn out that you or your brother will be the one on trial and not your grandfather. You just have to be prepared for it.”
Scott considered the warning. “You’ve heard something?”
Jim Davis turned his back and pondered the question. He had only gotten the information after Murdoch had left. Had he known before, he would have made sure his friend remained to support his son. “I heard that your grandfather hired Benjamin Emche. He’s a well known defense attorney here in town…”
“I’ve heard of him. He was a few years ahead of me at Harvard. I heard that he was good…”
“He’s very good. He has a nasty reputation for turning tables. I just don’t want to see you torn apart…” Jim laid a hand on Scott’s shoulder before leaving him to think about this new information.
Scott knew that Jim was right. Harlan was in for the fight of his life. He knew his grandfather and losing was never an option. Bitterly he berated himself for ever responding to the wedding invitation and bringing Johnny to Boston.
Alberta had been in Johnny’s room while Scott and Jim Davis were having their discussion. She discovered her patient listening to their conversation through the vent and joined him. A frown crossed her face as she listened. The trial was not what either Lancer needed. She looked at Johnny, his face grim. She thought of Scott and the prospect of his grandfather’s lawyer tearing him apart on the stand. “What are we to do?” She whispered moving closer to the injured man.
“We’re going to make sure that Scott is not alone in that courtroom. Can you and Jennings arrange for transportation to the courthouse tomorrow?”
“But you can barely walk!”
Johnny laughed and laid a reassuring hand on hers. “Alberta, this is nothing more than a scratch compared to some of the other fixes I’ve been in. Don’t worry about me. We just have to be ready after Scott and Mr. Davis leave.”
“I’m going to need a cane to walk with his leg.” He paused sensing her hesitation. “Alberta, Scott cannot face this alone. We’re going to be there for him. Right?”
The older woman smiled weakly. “Right, I’ll send Jennings up so that you can discuss what you need.” She hurried from the room almost afraid to hear more of Johnny’s plans. She had some plans of her own to make.
After the door had been securely closed, Johnny felt for the bottle of Laudanum hidden in his sling. He had been taking small amounts for the past two days, testing himself in preparation for the trial. With the small doses, he had been able to sit up in bed and even walk about the room a bit. He would need all of what remained to get himself through the trial in the morning.
Now, as he lay back in his bed, all of the hurts and pains were returning to him. He breathed slow and steady, trying to re-master control over his body. Physically, he was not even close to being ready for the trial, but he knew that he couldn’t just lie in bed while his brother faced Harlan Garrett.
At the sound of the door knob turning, Johnny quickly secreted the brown bottle back in his sling and closed his eyes. He was aware that someone had entered the room and laid a hand on his forehead. Recognizing Scott’s the touch he opened his eyes as if from sleep. “Scott?”
“Did I wake you?”
“No. I was just laying here wondering.”
“If my horse will still know me by the time I get back,” Johnny looked to his brother, his eyes twinkling.
Scott smiled in spite of the gloom that had come over him. “I’m sure that Jelly is spoiling Barranca rotten…”
“That’s what I’m afraid of!”
“Well, time will go by quickly. I’m thinking that if all goes well, and you behave, we should be home by Thanksgiving.” Scott sincerely hoped so. He didn’t like the prospect of getting caught somewhere in the Midwest by an early snow.
“Well, it would certainly give me something to be thankful for.” Johnny had never been keen on holidays. There weren’t many things to celebrate along the border towns where he grew up. “Scott?” Johnny had been watching his brother closely and could feel the sadness that emanated from him. “Is there something you want to talk about?”
a shake of his head, Scott went to stand by the window. The sun was
fading into the west, illuminating the fall sky with brilliant colors.
He wished to be where the sun set – anywhere but in Boston tomorrow.
Monday morning came with bright sunshine. Johnny, who had not slept the entire night, watched with fascination as the first rays of the sun filtered into his room. The view from his window was a far cry from the view from his room at Lancer. At Lancer, the sun had to fight its way past the San Benitos Mountains to cast its gentle warming rays on the ranch. There was nothing warm and gentle about the sun in Boston. Here the sun seemed cold and harsh as it shone through the barren branches of the tree outside the window.
The night had been spent fighting a sleep that would bring nightmares. Instead, he laid in heavy thought, trying to plan the details of the day to come. It would be hard and painful, but pain he could handle. Pain was an old friend to Johnny Madrid – and that was just were he was going to have to draw his strength to get through the day. He chuckled to himself thinking that he had a split personality – Johnny Lancer/Johnny Madrid. But the two weren’t so far removed from each other. The difference to him was that as Johnny Madrid, he never let any one close enough to let them know that he cared. As Johnny Lancer, he had opened his heart and was surprised when hearts were opened in kind. His strength as Madrid was the mask of cold indifference that he was able to put on. He liked to think that Johnny Lancer had no such mask.
He was lost in thought when Scott stuck his head into the room. “Johnny, you awake?”
“Yeah, Boston, I’m awake,” came the tired response.
Scott winced at the use of the old nickname. It no longer held the amusement that it once had. Entering the room Scott surveyed its lone occupant closely. Johnny looked paler than he had the day before. “You alright?”
“I didn’t sleep much last night…”
“Nightmares again?” When Johnny didn’t answer Scott assumed that was the answer. “Well, it shows. You look terrible.”
“Is that your professional opinion, Dr. Lancer?”
Scott gave his brother a relieved smiled. If Johnny was up to sarcasm, then he wasn’t too bad off. “Something bothering you that you want to talk about?”
A sad smiled crossed Johnny’s handsome features. “How come you haven’t seen your grandfather since I got out of the hospital?”
Scott blinked as if struck, wondering why his brother would ask that question today of all days. “I….I just haven’t had time…”
“Yeah,” Johnny sighed. “I guess I’ve kept you pretty busy…”
“Why are you asking?” Scott asked suspiciously.
“No reason – I was just wondering. After all we came all the way from California to see him, but I don’t think he’s even been by….
“He’s been busy,” Scott lied looking away.
‘I’ll bet he has’ Johnny thought closing his eyes tiredly. He opened them a second later and looked at his brother noting that he was wearing a dark gray suit rather than his normal clothes. “Where are you off to all smarted up?”
“This? Mr. Davis asked if I wanted to go to the office with him this morning – you know, get out of here for a while…”
“Away from me?” Johnny cast his eyes away.
“It’s not like that Johnny…” Scott was completely taken aback by his brother’s sullen demeanor. Things were not going as he had planned. “The truth is that I have something I have to tend to. I’ll be back as soon as I’m done. I promise.”
“I know you will.” Johnny looked away and out the window as if the barren trees were more interesting than his own brother.
At a loss for what to say or do next, Scott went to his brother. “Johnny…?”
Johnny turned back to Scott and caught his eyes. “Don’t go. Stay here today.”
Scott’s heart skipped a beat at the plea from his brother. In that moment, his resolve almost slipped – almost. “I can’t. I have to go.” There was something in Johnny’s eyes, a knowing, but that was impossible. “I’ll see you later. Get some rest – you look like you could use it.”
Johnny watched as Scott left. He had tried to keep Scott from going, but he really hadn’t counted on keeping his determined brother from leaving – that would have been too easy. The one thing he knew for certain in life was that nothing was ever easy.
Within a few moments, Jennings slipped into the room with a breakfast tray. “Alberta says that you have to eat if you’re going to go through with this madness.” Placing the tray on the night stand, he helped Johnny sit up. Satisfied that the young man was safely propped up, he removed the cover from the tray to reveal a bowl of oatmeal, toast and a cup of coffee.
Johnny wasn’t hungry. He hadn’t had any appetite since he woke up several days ago. But, he had been forcing himself to eat to get the strength he knew he’d need to go to the trial. As he looked at the tray of food his stomach turned a somersault. He figured that there was no way Alberta would let him out of the house unless he ate something. He picked up the cup of coffee and took a long sip of the bitter hot liquid. It was his first cup since before the horse incident. Initially it burned his tongue, but he took a second sip reveling in the daily ritual that he had so missed. “Did you find me a cane?”
“Mr. Davis had one in the front closet. I’ll bring it up after your shave, and then I’ll get your suit ready…”
“I ain’t wearing no suit.” Johnny said resolutely.
Jennings responded by raising his eyebrows. “What are you planning on wearing?”
“I think you know…”
“Not the pants with the buttons…?”
“The very same,” Johnny smiled. He was going in something he was comfortable in – something that reflected who he was – not some citified version of himself.
“Just get my clothes ready. What time does the trial start?”
“I think it starts at nine o’clock.”
“Then we had best get moving.”
Johnny ate as much of the breakfast as his stomach could handle, which was very little, before Jennings brought in the implements to give him a shave. He again offered to trim Johnny’s hair, but the cowboy politely refused. He wasn’t the one on trial – Harlan Garrett was. The things that people were going to see and hear weren’t pretty and he refused to dress them up. Fresh bandages were wrapped around his ribs and wounds before he started to dress.
He was amazed at how much weight he had lost over the past two weeks. The once comfortably snug pants now hung off his slender hips. He had to tighten his belt a few notches before they stayed up. The salmon colored shirt and bolero jacket were also a size too big for his shrunken frame.
Alberta came up after Jennings had returned the half eaten breakfast tray. She was startled at the sight of Johnny tottering on weakened legs leaning heavily on a cane. He was dressed and ready to go. With a frown she noted that he had discarded the sling and that his complexion was whiter than it had been in days. Dark circles now framed tired blue eyes. “Are you sure that you can go through with this Mr. Johnny?”
“There ain’t no turning back now. Go get Jennings and tell him that I need help getting down the stairs.” After making sure that she was gone, he made his way to the nightstand and to his secret bottle of laudanum. Carefully he considered the contents of the bottle and his needs for the day. He figured that there was barely enough to get him through, but once he was done, he wouldn’t need the medicine any longer. After today, he would be content to stay in his bed for as long as it took. Raising the bottle to his lips he took two sips of the bitter liquid and waited a few moments as the potion worked its magic on his body – easing the agonizing pain that had started once he had taken to his feet. It was going to be a long day but he was now properly armed, he thought, patting the bottle now hidden in his coat pocket.
Scott and Jim Davis arrived at the courthouse a half hour before the start of the trial. Waiting for them, among a throng of reporters and spectators, was a tall gentleman with thinning reddish blond hair. Peter Ayres Wimbrow grasped the handle of the carriage, opening the door for the two men to disembark.
“Peter!” Jim Davis greeted stepping out of the carriage. “Let me introduce you to your client – Scott Lancer.”
Scott was now out of the carriage. A large hand grasped his in a firm shake. “Mr. Wimbrow…”
“Mr. Lancer.” The voice was deep and pleasant sounding. “Let’s get out of this mob…” Pushing his way through the crowd he led the two men into the warm building and down the hall to a small room designed for private meetings between attorneys and their clients. After Scott and Jim had removed their coats, Peter opened his case and removed some papers. “As you know, the evidentiary hearing was completed last week and today is the start of the trial. I have taken the liberty of discussing this case with the State’s Attorney. His plan is to try your grandfather on conspiracy to commit murder and accessory to murder for the death of Trevor Hawthorne.” Peter looked sharply at Scott who maintained a cold mask of indifference. Satisfied that Scott knew what he was talking about, he continued. “As you know, Joshua Armstrong and Nathan Potteiger have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap…”
“It should have been attempted murder too.” Scott muttered looking away.
“There was no evidence that they had any intention to actually kill your brother. In exchange for their pleas and their agreement to testify against your grandfather, they will receive lenient sentences…”
“From what I’m told, they will each serve a year in jail and have a fine of $5,000 each. Joshua has been disbarred and Nathan removed from his position at the bank.”
Scott rolled his eyes thinking that out west, the punishment would have been so much more swift and sure. It hardly seemed fair that the two men received such light punishments while his brother would have to bear the scars for the rest of his life.
“I’m afraid that it’s your physical evidence that may be the key to this case. You did bring the note, didn’t you?”
Scott patted the breast pocket of his jacket. “I have it here.”
Peter nodded and then sat down across the table from Scott. “Mr. Lancer, This could get ugly…”
“I can handle it…”
Scott looked at the attorney with some alarm. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that things could turn ugly – very quickly. This trial could quickly turn into the trial of Johnny Madrid.”
Scott’s face became flushed with anger. “How can they place my brother on trial for being tortured?”
“Your grandfather has a lot to lose. I don’t want you to be startled or upset if Mr. Emche should try to vindicate your grandfather based on your brother’s prior history.”
“But there are no outstanding warrants for Johnny…”
“No, not in the United States, but there are some places in Mexico where he is not welcome.” Scott’s eyes flashed at this news. “You didn’t know?”
Scott turned away. “There is a lot about my brother that I don’t know. Johnny never discusses his past.”
“Well, it could come up and you need to be prepared to handle it.” Peter stopped when a tap was heard at the door. He rose and answered it.
There, dressed in his most impressive dark suit was Harlan Garrett. “I’d like to speak with my grandson before all of this starts…” Harlan stuck his head into the room looking for Scott.
Peter turned to his client. “Scott?”
Scott gave a silent nod and remained seated, his back to the door. Peter and Jim gathered their belongings and left the grandson and grandfather alone. Harlan entered the room and immediately became upset that Scott chose to ignore him. With a cough, he made his way around the table to face his grandson. “Scotty, I see that you have forgotten your manners…”
“My manners?” Scott stood quickly knocking his chair back in anger. “I lost my manners when someone tried to have by brother killed.” He looked at his grandfather with glaring eyes.
Harlan sighed, “Scotty, can’t we just sit and talk about this?”
“Talk? Why I don’t have anything to say to someone who would plot murder…”
“Is that what you think?”
“Sir, that is what I know.” Scott stated resolutely, his eyes now firmly set on his grandfather.
Harlan’s eyes narrowed. “And just who told you that – your ‘brothers’?”
Scott shook his head. “You forget I have the note you wrote to Trevor.”
“That note proves nothing!” Harlan came around the table and attempted to put his hands on Scott’s shoulders. “Scotty…” He was startled when his grandson turned and flinched away.
“Don’t touch me!”
Harlan moved closer wanting to take advantage of Scott’s discomfort. “Scotty, you aren’t really going to testify against me are you? I raised you. I cared for you. I’m your grandfather. I love...”
“Don’t say that!” Scott spun on his heel and faced his grandfather. “Don’t ever say that again. How can you possibly say that after what you did?”
“And just what is it that you think that I’ve done…”
“You tried to have Johnny killed…”
“Scotty, that’s what I want to tell you – I had nothing to do with Johnny being hurt…” Harlan began to plead with Scott. “Pierce was out of control…”
“Don’t try lie about it!” Scott responded sharply. Murdoch had told him all about Pierce being discharged from the army for torturing Mexicans. In his mind he could imagine Harlan seeking out Pierce to help him get rid of Johnny. “Grandfather, plead guilty like the others and ask the judge for mercy…
“I can’t do that, Scotty. I’m not guilty of anything…”
Scott considered the words, his hopes of getting out of testifying all but dashed. “Then we have nothing more to say to each other.” Scott picked up his coat and turned to leave.
“Scott.” Harlan’s voice had turned cold and threatening. “I’m telling you right now that you are not to testify…”
“Or else what?”
“How is that ‘brother’ of yours, Scott? Is he healing well? I wonder how he’ll do in a New England jail…”
Scott’s face hardened as he clenched his jaw and stepped up to face his grandfather. “What are you saying?”
“Who shot Reginald Pierce in the back?” An evil smile crossed Harlan’s face. “Don’t testify today Scott, or you’ll find yourself testifying at your brother’s trial for murder.” With that said, Harlan pushed past his grandson and out of the room, leaving a devastated Scott in his wake.
Jim Davis and Peter Wimbrow returned to the room after Harlan left. “What did he want?” Jim asked, concerned that Scott was now smoldering in anger.
“He told me not to testify…”
“Or what?” Peter pushed.
“Or else he’ll have his attorney turn this case into a murder trial against Johnny!” Scott looked at his friends. “I can’t let him do that…”
“Scott,” Peter placed his large hands on the shoulders of the younger man. “This is your choice. The State’s Attorney may have enough evidence with the testimony of Nathan and Joshua…”
“But you don’t think he can get a conviction against my grandfather without the note?”
Peter shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“What are you going to do?” Jim asked finally.
“I don’t know. I can’t risk having this case turn against Johnny. Thank God he’s not here to see this.”
Ironically, the carriage that came to take Johnny and Jennings to the courthouse was the same one that had picked the Lancer brothers up at the train station. “Well, cowboy, you sure look worse for the wear,” the driver commented, as he and Jennings helped the injured man into the open carriage.
Alberta came out and carefully covered Johnny’s legs with a warm woolen blanket. “Good luck, Mr. Johnny. You watch over Mr. Scott.” She gave his hand a strong squeeze before she scurried back into the house.
Johnny had reluctantly conceded to wearing the thick wool overcoat that Scott insisted he purchase for the trip. It was a lot colder outside the Davis house than he had figured and he was now thankful for the thick layers that provided insulation for his weakened body. He paid little attention to the route the carriage took; he had to focus his will on not passing out each time the wheels went over some small rut in the road - sending waves of pain right through him. More than once he berated himself for his foolhardy plan, but it was the promise that he made to himself to protect Scott that kept him from turning back.
What in fact took only a half hour seemed like hours to the injured man. He was thankful when the carriage finally came to a stop. The court house was a massive three story brick structure located in the heart of the city. “You don’t suppose that the hearing will be held on the first floor, do you?” He muttered as he got out of the carriage leaning heavily on Jennings and the driver. “What will it take for you to stay here until we’re ready to leave?”
The man smiled remembering the generous tip that Johnny had given him when he first arrived in town. “For you, sir, it will be my pleasure to stay right here ‘til you need me.”
Johnny gave the man a smile and then, leaning on Jennings and the cane, made his way into the courthouse. The building seemed to be all but deserted. They slowly walked up to the front desk, asking for directions to the courtroom where the hearing was now being held. Thankfully, the room in question was just down the hall.
Slowly, the odd pair made their way to the courtroom. Jennings pulled open the heavy door for Johnny to slip through. What he observed was a large room that was now filled with people. The judge sat high on a podium behind a large desk and was using a gavel to bring the court into session. On the left side of the room near the judge was the jury already seated.
Adequately disguised by the heavy coat, Johnny and Jennings found seats at the back of the room. Johnny sat heavily on the hard wooden bench and leaned back, closing his eyes to catch his breath and control the pain that was creeping back. “You alright Mr. Johnny?” Jennings asked thinking that Johnny may have passed out.
“I’m just fine. Do you see Scott anywhere?”
Jennings scanned the room until he spotted his former charge. “He’s up front with Mr. Davis at the table on the left. Mr. Garrett – he’s here sitting at the table on the right.”
Johnny opened his eyes and surveyed the room. It was a far cry from the make shift courtrooms that he was used to. He supposed that city folk just had to make more of a spectacle out of what should have been a simple procedure. He saw Scott near the front speaking with one of the men seated behind a table. His brother didn’t look very happy. In fact, he appeared to be down right angry over something. Turning his head, he took a look at Harlan Garrett who was seated beside his lawyer with a smug grin on his face, like he knew something that no one else did. The old man’s smugness made Johnny’s heart stop cold. Instinctively he knew that his brother had already had a run in with the old man and that Harlan must have threatened Scott – making Johnny angrier than the thought of Scott testifying.
The Judged rapped his gavel on his bench and brought the court into session. “Mr. State’s Attorney, are you ready to proceed?”
The State’s Attorney was a small dark haired man named Randall Coates. He rose and addressed the Judge, indicating he was ready.
The Judged then called to the Defense Attorney – Benjamin Emche – who also indicated that he was ready.
The judge turn turned to the jury of 12 men advising them of their responsibility to be fair an impartial in judging the evidence. He then motioned for the State’s Attorney to begin his opening argument.
Mr. Coates stood and addressed the twelve men. “Gentlemen, this is a case of deception and betrayal. The State intends to prove that Mr. Harlan Garrett did conspire with four young men to kidnap John Lancer – the half-brother of his grandson Scott Lancer. He then did conspire to commit the murder of John Lancer with his now deceased accomplice – Reginald Pierce. Mr. Garrett left Mr. Pierce to his own devices to kill John Lancer in a most heinous manner. Mr. Garrett also conspired, and was an accomplice to the murder of Trevor Hawthorne – a conspirator to the kidnapping of John Lancer. Mr. Hawthorne was murdered after he learned of the duplicitous actions of Mr. Garrett and Mr. Pierce and attempted to rescue John Lancer. Mr. Hawthorne was murdered by the now deceased Reginald Pierce at the direction of Mr. Garrett. The State will prove that Mr. Garrett was cold and calculated in his actions and remains unremorseful for his part in these loathsome crimes.” Satisfied that he had inflamed the jury as much as he could Mr. Coates returned to his table and sat.
During the presentation, it was Harlan Garrett who became enraged. He turned to his attorney fiercely whispering his objections to the State’s Attorney’s statements. Mr. Emche only responded by shaking his head -objecting to the direction being given by his client.. Finally, when it became apparent that it was now his turn to speak, the attorney closed his eyes and nodded his agreement to change his opening remarks and his defense strategy to one of offence.
Benjamin Emche went to stand before the jury. Smoothing his coat, he began his remarks. “Gentlemen, I will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no physical evidence that would bind my client to either of the crimes of which he has been accused. I will submit evidence to the court that no crime has been committed other than the cold blooded murder of Reginald Pierce by Mr. Johnny Madrid Lancer!”
There was a collective gasp from the gallery and the noise level in the room rose to such a volume that the judge had to bang his gavel repeatedly before the crowd settled down. Scott a shot venomous look at his grandfather, who sat passively in his chair, letting his attorney do all of the talking. Scott was grateful to think that his brother was not present to witness this shameful sham of justice.
Once the courtroom was quieted the attorney proceeded with his opening statement. “Mr. Garrett has been a benevolent member of our community for the past 60 years. He has supported many of our finer institutions such as the University, the hospital, the library and our political system. His generous donations speak well for his civic mindedness. 25 years ago, Mr. Garrett rescued his infant grandson from the hardships of life out in the wilds of California. He raised and nurtured that grandson, Scott Lancer, like his own child. He made sure that Scott Lancer had the best things and education that money could buy. Then, last year, his grandson ventured west to see his biological father and has held captive against his will…”
“That is preposterous!” Scott shouted rising to his feet. “You can’t possibly believe such fiction!”
“You will remain seated!” The judge ordered banging his gavel at Scott.
Jim Davis and Peter Wimbrow pulled Scott back to his seat. “I warned you that this could get ugly!” Peter whispered to his client.
“But he is telling bald face lies!” Scott insisted.
“I know. But you’ll have your opportunity to speak later. For now, take notes and be prepared.”
Harlan glanced over at his grandson. His attorney’s words were meant to agitate Scott and obviously they had the desired effect. He hated to do this, but it would be for Scott’s own good. When this case was finished, and he was found not guilty on all charges, he was going to request a hearing to have Scott placed in protective custody and returned to his household. Harlan rationalized to himself that Scott was not fully recovered from the time he had spent in Libby Prison. Harlan told his attorney that Scott was unduly influenced by his half-breed brother and was being kept a virtual prisoner in California. No proper Bostonian would ever to submit to the indignities that Scott had been subjected to at Lancer – manual labor for a man of refinement and breeding? NO! Therefore, Scott had to be of diminished mental capacity and was in need of protection from himself and from his brother.
“Your honor, if I may continue, my client never made any arrangements with the admitted kidnappers Joshua Armstrong and Nathan Potteiger. These gentlemen have given false testimony in exchange for lenient punishments for their part in this alleged crime. While my client did relay to these gentlemen the conditions in which Scott Lancer was living, he in no way encouraged them to kidnap or kill anyone. I would submit to the court that it is Reginald Pierce who is the victim here. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army where he bravely served in Texas protecting the border with Mexico. He alone recognized the threat that Johnny Madrid Lancer presented and he took the necessary steps to protect Scott Lancer.” Mr. Emche went to the evidence table and picked up the empty revolver that laid there. “It was this gun that was used to brutally shoot Mr. Pierce in the back. And whose gun do you suppose this is?”
In the few seconds he paused for dramatic effect, Johnny Lancer stood and spoke up in a soft slow drawl. “That’s my gun and I intend on having it back.”
Murdoch Lancer was in St. Louis boarding a train for Denver at the time the trial started in Boston. He thought of his sons and was worried for them. It had been a hard decision to leave, but he left knowing that the bond that bound them all together was stronger than ever. He had arrived in Boston in time to help both sons. A smile came to his lips thinking of Johnny’s comment about his blood flowing in his veins. Little did the young man know how much that comment had meant to his father. Murdoch saw so much of his wife’s stubborn independence in his youngest son and so little of himself. Now, there could never be any denying that his blood flowed in Johnny as well. He prayed that his youngest would listen to the advice of his doctor and cooperate in his recovery. Lord knew that they had enough trouble keeping Johnny down when he was sick or injured while at home. Alberta had impressed him as being more than a match for his stubborn offspring and left reassured that she would watch over him.
His thoughts then turned to Scott. Scott was in as much pain as his brother. Where much of Johnny’s pain was physical - Scott’s was purely emotional. Murdoch had always been careful in not expressing his contempt of Harlan Garrett to his eldest son – not wishing to put a wedge between grandfather and grandson like Harlan had done to him. There was no forgiveness or forgetting the 25 years that Harlan had kept him separated from Scott. Harlan had made it clear that if he attempted to take Scott away that he would make sure that Scott would forever hate his father. Now, after 25 years the tables had been turned – and purely of Harlan’s own doing. The old fox had out foxed himself. Murdoch knew the terrible price that Johnny had paid at the treacherous hands of Harlan Garrett, but what was the price to Scott?
The only bright thing Murdoch could think of was that as terrible as the situation was, the boys had come to think of themselves as just brothers. There was nothing ‘half’ about them anymore. They were Lancers – through and through.
As the train pulled away from the station, his thoughts turned to his other child - Teresa. He had written to her, briefly describing the trouble the boys had encountered – careful not to include all the details, circumstances and the injuries inflicted on Johnny. Even though he wrote in broad terms he knew that she would read between the lines and figure the worst. She knew the boys well enough to know that when they got in trouble, they did it right – there was never any half measures when trouble found the Lancer brothers.
The steady rocking of the train car began to lull the tired man to sleep. Closing his eyes he pictured Johnny safe in his bed at Jim’s house. He also saw Scott on the witness stand, stoically giving the testimony that would forever change his relationship with his grandfather. It was not a pretty picture to dream of, but it was the reality that he prayed for.
Henry Kane arrived at the Davis residence for his daily visit shortly after Johnny left with Jennings. Instead of finding his patient resting in bed he found a distraught Alberta pacing the foyer. “He did what?” Henry exploded after Alberta told him what had happened. “Doesn’t he know that it’s too soon for him to be on his feet? He could begin to bleed again…”
“There was no keeping him home. He insisted that he has to be with his brother,” Alberta tried to explain. “He knows there will be a cost to himself, but he wants to be at the trial for Scott.”
Henry regarded the older and wiser woman. “Those two are a lot closer than a lot of full brothers I know. I guess that we had best be going if we’re going to help him.”
Alberta got her coat and some blankets before following the young doctor to his carriage. Henry took the supplies and stashed them under the seat. “I’ve got my medical bag here too. I guess that we’ll be prepared for whatever happens.” He assisted the woman into the carriage before he climbed in and whipped the reins sending the horse off at brisk trot.
Since meeting the Lancers Henry Kane’s life had changed dramatically. He found himself caught up in their lives. He had grown up a child of the city. Looking at Scott, he admired how the young man had the courage to breakaway from the safe confines of Boston life and embark on a new life out west. Johnny both scared and intrigued him. Someday he would like to hear the stories of the young man’s life as the famed gunfighter – Johnny Madrid. As he urged the horse to go faster he could only hope that he would arrive in time to prevent his patient from doing irreparable damage to himself.
Scott stood, stunned at the sight of his brother slowly making his way down the main aisle amidst the chaos that his simple remark had caused. The Judge used his gavel repeatedly, trying to bring order to his courtroom. Johnny continued to walk slowly; his posture straight and proud in spite of the presence of a cane – giving no outward sign of the pain that he was feeling inside. The young man was aware that all eyes were on him – a stranger in strange clothes. He could hear their whispered comments and snickered remarks. He didn’t care. He was there for one reason – for Scott.
“Johnny?” Scott watched as his pale brother reached the small gate that separated the gallery from the proceedings. Johnny turned to Scott as the cane slipped from his hand. He then seemed to stumble a bit, his hands grasping Scott’s coat for balance. It took a moment before Scott had him steadied again. “Easy there,” He whispered, first stooping to retrieve the cane and then noting the beads of perspiration that were now forming on Johnny’s pale brow and lip. “Johnny why are you here?”
“And just who are you?” The judge demanded interrupting the brothers.
Johnny gave his brother a brief smile before turning to address the judge. “I’m Johnny Lancer and I would like to testify….”
The Judge was obviously stunned by the appearance of one of the ‘victims’ in this case. “Mr. Lancer, it was my understanding that you were near death…”
“Yeah, well that was my understanding too.”
A soft laugh filtered through the room as everyone present heard the wry words of the man now standing before them.
“Your Honor…!” Mr. Emche stood to object.
“Mr. Emche, were you done with your opening statement?”
“Then be seated!” Reluctantly the lawyer sat only to have his client once again buzz whispers of instructions into his ear. “Mr. Coates, do you have any questions for this witness?”
Randall Coates licked his lips. He had not planned on having Johnny present, but this was an opportunity not to be missed. “Your honor, I call my first witness – Mr. John Lancer.”
Johnny gave a wink to his brother before pushing through the swinging gate and up to the witness stand. There were 3 steep steps that led to the chair where he was to sit. “Judge, I don’t think that I can climb up into that box…”
“Bailiff….” The judge instructed a burly man to move the chair from the box to the floor. The judge then took the time to take note of the sickly pallor of the witness. “Mr. Lancer, are you sure that you are up to this?”
“Well, the way I see it – this may be my only chance to speak and since I’m here…”
The Judge gave Johnny a nod of approval and had the Bailiff swear him in. A large Bible was placed in front of Johnny. He placed his left hand on the book and raised his right hand. “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – so help you God?”
“And for the record, state your name and where you’re from.”
“Johnny Lancer of Moro Coyo, California.”
“You may be seated.”
Slowly Johnny lowered himself into the hard wooden chair. As he sat, he felt something give in his chest and an involuntary groan escaped his lips. It was a sound that immediately alarmed Scott whose eyes were now glued to his brother along with everyone else in the room.
Randall Coates stood and approached the witness. “Mr. Lancer – you were not originally scheduled to testify, but I am pleased to see that you were able to come and attend.” Johnny nodded and waited for the questions to start. “Mr. Lancer, can you tell us what you know about what happened to you?”
Johnny turned his gaze from the lawyer to Harlan Garrett. Clear, bright sapphire eyes locked on the gray eyes of the older man. Harlan stiffened and stared back at the injured man. “I was kidnapped and nearly killed because I have something that someone wanted.” Johnny smiled knowing that his soft spoken answer was not what they all were expecting to hear.
The State’s Attorney was also puzzled by this response. “And who was it that wanted to take what you have?”
“That old fox sitting right there – Harlan Garrett. This ain’t the first time that he’s tried to take what’s mine – but it will be the last.”
“Objection!” Mr. Emche stood.
“Over ruled – you may continue Mr. Lancer.”
Pleased that the judge was giving him the go ahead to speak his mind, Johnny proceeded to do just that. “A few months back Mr. Garrett came to the ranch where I live with my father and brother – Scott. First he tried to have Scott seduced into coming back to Boston by his old fiancée – Julie Prescott. When that didn’t work - he tried to blackmail Scott into returning to Boston by telling Scott lies about our old man and threatening to have him arrested. Well, he damn near got himself and Scott killed in the process. He came back here to Boston empty handed.
You have to understand that in his own way, Harlan loves Scott. It’s just that he don’t know that Scott loves him too. He figures that the only way for my brother to love him is to be here in Boston – but it just don’t work that way. This time, old Harlan figured that by having me killed that Scott wouldn’t return to the ranch - that he would stay here in Boston. So, he talked a group of ‘Fraternity Brothers’ into doing the dirty work for him.”
“And just what was done to you Mr. Lancer?”
Johnny swallowed hard and remained silent for a long time before answering. His eyes hardened to steel and he spoke in a firm voice. “I was told that I damn near bled to death from having my ribs broke and from being stabbed a couple of times like a piece of beef being hung in a barn.”
Again the gallery gasped at the image that Johnny’s words had evoked. The Judge had to pound his gavel several times before they calmed and the room was brought back to order.
Scott closed his eyes knowing that Johnny had skimmed over the exact details of the tortures that he had endured. When he opened them, he felt Johnny’s eyes on him and he gave his brother a reassuring smile. Johnny nodded and turned back to face the lawyer. He prayed that his part would be over soon as the pain in his chest was intensifying. He felt a flush run through his body and his hands became cold as ice.
“Mr. Lancer, can you tell us what you have that anyone would kill to take away from you?”
Johnny looked directly at Scott and smiled. “My brother, Scott.”
“Mr. Lancer, what do you know about the death of Trevor Hawthorne?”
“Trevor came to rescue me from Pierce. I tried to help him get away but…. I was hurt bad. Pierce stabbed him too and left him to die with me.”
Satisfied with the answer and sensing that Johnny was just about done in - Mr. Coates sat down and turned the witness over to the defense attorney.
Mr. Emche stood and approached the seated witness. “John Lancer – is that your true name?”
“The name is Johnny Lancer.”
“And do you ever go by any other name?”
Johnny smiled shaking his head. “I am Johnny Lancer.”
“Are you familiar with the name – Johnny Madrid?”
“And can you tell us who Johnny Madrid is?”
“There is no Johnny Madrid.” Johnny was mincing words, but until the lawyer asked a proper question he wasn’t going to give him the answer he was looking for.
Frustrated, Mr. Emche looked to his client for direction. Harlan waved him over and after a few brief words a flushed lawyer returned to the witness. “Did you ever go by the name of Johnny Madrid?”
“And what did you do as Johnny Madrid?”
“I was a gunfighter – hiring out for the likes of Harlan Garrett…”
Your honor!” Mr. Emche interrupted. “Please instruct the witness to answer the questions asked.”
“Mr. Emche, the witness is doing just that. He is answering the questions that you have put to him. Proceed.”
Mr. Emche went to the evidence table and picked up the gun he had held during opening statements. “Mr. Lancer – whose gun is this?”
Johnny held out his hand for the gun. Once placed in his grasp his fingers curled around the grip like a glove. Almost lovingly he held the gun that had seen him through so much of his life and near deaths. “This is my gun.”
“And when was the last time that you fired it?”
“When I stopped Reginald Pierce from killing my brother….”
“By shooting him in the back?” The attorney accused.
“Better him that Scott.” Johnny turned again to look at Harlan. “You cut your dog loose old man and what did it get you? He almost killed Scott!” Johnny aimed the sharp words directly at Harlan, his voice becoming stronger and louder in spite of the growing weakness he was beginning to feel. Intentionally he was baiting the older man and was succeeding.
“I would never hurt Scott!” Harlan yelled as he stood – his hands pounding the table.
“Yeah? What about the Deegan brothers – they almost killed him, and now Pierce! That’s two times you almost killed my brother!”
“He is not your brother you filthy half- breed!” The words came out of Harlan’s mouth before he had a chance to think about what he was saying.
The judge again was banging his gavel in an attempt to bring order to his courtroom. “That is enough Mr. Garrett – be seated and be quiet!”
Ben Emche regarded the interaction and knew that his cross examination of this witness was going nowhere fast. “Your honor, Mr. Lancer has no proof to support these allegations. I move that his statements be stricken from the record….”
Johnny reached into his pocket and took out the folded crumpled note that he had lifted from Scott’s coat pocket. He hadn’t stumbled out of weakness earlier, he had stumbled deliberately – taking the one piece of evidence that would put Garrett away for good.
Harlan’s eyes widened at the sight of the piece of paper in Johnny’s hand. He then cut his eyes to Scott who was searching the breast pocket of his coat - shaking his head in disbelief that Johnny had taken the note from him. “No!” Harlan shouted again standing and moving towards the injured man. He had counted on Scott’s obedience in not testifying against him. He had no control over Johnny.
“Mr. Garrett…!” The judge warned banging his gavel again.
There was no stopping Harlan who was now directly in front of Johnny. “Let me have that…”
Johnny simply smiled as he began to unfold the document. “You out foxed yourself…”
“I should have killed you myself when I had the chance!” Harlan lunged at Johnny knocking him off the chair and striking him several times before his lawyer and the bailiffs could pull him away.
“That is enough! Order!” The judge was pounding his desk as pandemonium reigned. “Clear this room now!”
Scott had stood in alarm, watching as his grandfather attacked his brother. He moved as fast as he could to try to stop it, but was too late. By the time he got to Johnny, Harlan was being physically restrained.
“Scotty! Help me!” Harlan pleaded as his grandson ignored him and went to his brother now seemingly unconscious on the floor.
Johnny’s lips were now tinged red with blood and each breath came as a quick gasp. Scott quickly straightened his brother’s folded form and raised him up, supporting Johnny against his chest to help him breathe easier. “Johnny?” He whispered hoping for a reaction. He was rewarded as his brother’s eye lids fluttered open. “Why did you do it?”
Johnny’s eyes were dazed with pain and he gasped as he struggled for breath. “Had…..to….” The lids closed and his body went slack.
“Johnny!” Scott looked from his brother to the angry red face of his grandfather. “You just had to do it – didn’t you? You may have killed him!”
“I did it for you – don’t you see? I had to do it for you!” Harlan pleaded to his grandson for understanding.
“You did this for me? How dare you presume to think that killing my brother is for me!” Scott turned his attention back to his brother, gently holding him - willing him to live. “Stay with me, Johnny. Please, stay with me.” He begged the unconscious man with a whispered voice.
By now, the courtroom gallery was empty leaving the brothers surrounded by the lawyers, bailiffs and court reporters on one side and Jury on the other. Everyone had seen and heard what had happened. There was little doubt in their minds who was guilty and who was innocent. The judge came down from his bench to kneel beside the brothers picking up the now discarded note. “Mr. Lancer, what can we do?”
“We need help….” As Scott looked up, he saw Henry Kane, Alberta and Jennings fighting their way through the on lookers.
“Good, God…” Henry whispered kneeling, taking the spot quickly vacated by the judge. What he saw he didn’t like. Johnny was as white as a sheet, his breaths were harsh rasps and his lips were tinged red from fresh blood. “What happened?”
“He was thrown from the chair and hit…”
Henry reached into his bag and pulled out his stethoscope. Raising his hand for quiet he listened to Johnny’s lungs. “I think one of his ribs may have punctured a lung. We need to get him back to the hospital….”
“No hospital….” Johnny rasped, his left hand digging into his brother’s arm. “Take me home…”
Scott looked up to the doctor for guidance. Henry shook his head an adamant NO. “Johnny, we have to take you to the hospital first - then back to Mr. Davis’ house…”
“No. The trial…..” Johnny looked bleary-eyed at the people surrounding him. He was relieved to see Harlan secured between two burly bailiffs.
The Judge took his cue and sent another bailiff to arrange transportation to take Johnny to the hospital. He then waved everyone back into their places, leaving Scott and Henry to attend to Johnny.
After taking a seat behind the bench the Judge took a moment to read the note Johnny had been holding before he was attacked. The Judge’s face was a mask of anger by the time he finished reading. “Mr. Garrett – this court has heard and seen enough to be outraged. Your own words and actions do you a disservice, sir, and this note cannot be ignored. Do you now wish to change your plea?”
Without looking at his client, Benjamin Emche stood. “Yes, your honor. The plea is changed to Guilty on both counts.” He sat back down to the sputtering protests of his client. Without turning, he raised his hand towards his Harlan, daring him to say another word.
“It is so ordered!” The judge banged his gavel. “Harlan Garrett, you are remanded to the city jail while I give some consideration to a suitable punishment!”
The two bailiffs had to physically lift Harlan from his seat and practically drag him from the room. “Scotty! Don’t let them take me away, Scotty…!” Were the pleas Scott heard as his grandfather was taken to jail.
Two men came in with a stretcher and gently eased Johnny from his brother to the canvas device. Scott observed that Johnny still had his gun clutched tightly in his right hand. Gently he pried his brother’s fingers from the grip and placed the weapon in the pocket of his own coat. With a nod from Henry, they all began to move from the room.
“Mr. Lancer – a moment, please.” The judge called for Scott to stay.
“There will be a sentencing hearing as soon as your brother’s condition is known. If he should pass…”
“He won’t,” Scott said resolutely meeting the Judge’s eyes with his cool blue ones.
“Alright. The hearing will be held on Thursday. I will be entertaining any thoughts that you or your brother might have on an appropriate punishment.” As Scott turned to go, the Judge couldn’t help but add: “On behalf of the city of Boston, I want to extend my best wishes for the recovery of your brother.”
you, sir…” any further words that Scott may have said stopped when Jennings
came up to him and whispered in his ear. “I have to go!” Together,
he and the older man rushed from the room and to a waiting carriage.
This chapter is dedicated to the Princess of Pain - (and you know who you are)who begged for an early posting (remember this the next time I beg) and a certain beta reader who has earned a part in this story
Johnny, Henry and Alberta were gone by the time Scott and Jennings emerged from the courthouse. Waiting for them was the carriage that Johnny had hired earlier that morning. “Well, come on!” The driver urged as both men bounded into the carriage. The driver whipped the horses into motion before the men were seated. The hospital was a few blocks from the courthouse and they made it in record time.
Scott and Jennings raced from the carriage, up the stairs and through the doors of the hospital. Scott had never been to a hospital so many times in such a short period of time and was personally getting very tired of it. Alberta was waiting for them in the lobby. “They have taken him to a room…’ She explained as she led them down the now all too familiar halls. Thankfully, this time they went past the examination room that Johnny had been taken to the last two times – Scott hadn’t been looking forward to confronting Dr. Johnson again.
The room that Alberta took them to was identical to the room that Scott and Johnny had shared after the surgery. Quietly they entered and watched as the doctor tended to his patient. Henry Kane was bent over Johnny’s naked chest listening carefully to his breathing with a stethoscope. He glanced up as they entered and then refocused his attention on his patient. When he was done, he removed the earpieces and let the instrument hang from his neck.
“Well?” Scott asked anxiously.
Henry waved for them to follow him into a corner of the room. “I just gave him a small dose of morphine to take the edge off the pain. He’s sleeping. He displaced some of the fractured ribs and they were pressing against his right lung. I was able to manipulate the ribs back into place and he’s breathing better now…”
“But, there was blood in his mouth…” Having seen many lung injuries during the war, Scott was concerned that nothing be missed.
“I saw it, but I think that he only bruised the lung and didn’t puncture it. If he had, there would have been a more frothy blood in his mouth. The blood we saw was thick…No, I’m convinced that he didn’t puncture a lung.”
“Then we can take him back to the Davis house?” Scott asked hopefully.
Henry shook his head. “I’d like to keep him here for observation – there’s always the possibility for pneumonia to set in. He’s exhausted as are all of you. Leave him here, and I’ll see that he is properly cared for.”
Scott didn’t like the idea of leaving his brother with strangers and was about to say so until Alberta stepped forward. “Mr. Scott – listen to the doctor. It’s been a terrible rough day on all of us. Mr. Johnny will be fine here for the night. Let’s go home and get some rest.”
Scott considered the words and nodded his agreement. Slowly he approached his brother, who was lying with several pillows behind his back and neck – almost to the point where he seemed to be sitting up. As concerned as he was for Johnny’s health he couldn’t contain the anger and bitterness he felt at seeing the younger man in the hospital again. “I’ll be back first thing in the morning, Brother. Then we can have a long talk about how pigheaded and foolish you are.” Jennings and Alberta were stunned by the bitter words that Scott had spat at his brother. Taking hold of his arms, they led him from the room, leaving Johnny behind.
Once they were gone from the room, Johnny opened his eyes and sighed.
Henry was surprised to see that Johnny was now awake and had been playing possum in front of his brother. “Johnny…?” He went to his patient, concerned that the young man had just laid there and let his brother vent his anger. “Is this what you really want – to be left alone?” Henry asked pulling a chair up next to his patient. The doctor then began the painful process of wrapping the injured ribs.
Johnny winced and sucked in his breath while the doctor tended to his injuries. When the doctor had finished his ministrations, Johnny finally responded to the question. “Doc, there are times when a man just needs to be alone and this is one of them.” Johnny whispered licking his lips. Henry filled a glass from a small nearby pitcher and helped Johnny take few sips. Lying back, Johnny smiled. “Scott’s mad at me for what I did…”
“Well, so am I. You had no business going to the trial and testifying…”
“Didn’t I? Aren’t I the one who got hurt? Didn’t I deserve a say in what was to happen?”
“But you baited Mr. Garrett into incriminating himself and he damn near killed you.”
Johnny grinned and blushed slightly. “I didn’t plan on the old man attacking me. But, at least Scott didn’t have to testify against him.”
Henry looked at his patient thunderstruck. “You did all of this to prevent your brother from testifying against his grandfather? Why?”
“It’s better for him to be mad at me than mad at himself. Me - he’ll eventually forgive. But, if he sent that old man to prison – well he’d never forgive himself.” Johnny was barely whispering by the time he finished. As his blue eyes closed, Henry knew that his patient was in a deep exhausted sleep.
Stepping out into the hall, Henry signaled to a petite dark haired nurse. “Linda Rae, I want you stay with this patient. I don’t want him to be alone…”
“Doctor, I have other patients…”
“I’ll clear it with your supervisor. I don’t want this man to be alone. If you have to take a break you have someone come and relieve you. Otherwise he is in your care until I have someone assigned to relieve you. Do you understand?”
Linda Rae Hastings nodded her understanding and followed the doctor into the room. She caught her breath at the sight of the handsome man laying in a deep sleep. “Why don’t you want him left alone?”
“Because, if I know my patient, he might just try to walk out of here. Your job is to keep him in that bed. He needs to drink as much water as you can get into him.” As Henry turned to leave he gave one more word of caution. “If he asks you to get him something, go to the door and call for help – don’t leave him alone for a second. And, don’t tell him where his clothes are.”
“You make him sound like he might try to escape…”
“He just might.”
Jim Davis and Peter Wimbrow were anxiously waiting for Scott and the others to return from the hospital with news of Johnny’s condition. Both men had stayed after the trial was over to have discussions with the State’s Attorney regarding the appropriate punishment for Harlan Garrett. Harlan had been a pillar of Boston society for many years. Picturing him in prison was not a pleasant sight. The State’s Attorney indicated that the Judge would be hearing testimony from various people on what type of punishment would be proper. He felt that the Judge would be looking to the Lancers and the Hawthornes for their thoughts and would be considering them heavily – after all – they had suffered the most.
Scott came into the house followed closely by Jennings and Alberta. There had been little conversation during the ride back to the Davis house. The older couple sensed that Scott was upset with them for helping Johnny. As much as they felt they had done the right thing, Scott had made it clear that he was very displeased by what had happened in the courtroom. It scared them to see Scott lash out at Johnny. As devoted as he seemed to be to his brother, they were shocked when he vented his anger on the injured man. So much had happened since Scott had arrived in Boston - they feared that perhaps he was losing his grasp of the situation.
When Scott veered into the sitting room to speak with Jim and Peter, the older couple continued on to their room to pack their belongings – afraid that Mr. Davis would be displeased with them as well. Quietly they made their way down the hall, only to be stopped by Jim Davis, calling to them to join him in the sitting room.
Jennings took Alberta’s hand and together they walked into the room. Scott stood by the fireplace – his back to them, while Jim indicated that they should have a seat. “I just want to thank you both for looking out for Johnny. I know what a hard headed, independent young man he can be. I’m sure that you both tried to keep him here, but when you realized it was impossible, you did everything you could to keep him from harm and for that I am grateful.”
Alberta took the edge of her apron and gently dabbed at her eyes. This was not what she expected – it wasn’t what Harlan Garrett would have said to them if the situation had been different. “Mr. Davis – Mr. Johnny just wanted to make sure that his brother wouldn’t be hurt any more. He had to be there….”
“How did he know?” Scott asked quietly without turning around.
“Why – you told him,” Alberta responded innocently.
Scott turned around, his face a mask of confusion. “I told him? I thought that I was very careful in not saying anything to him.”
Jennings stood and went to the young man that he had helped to raise. “Mr. Scott, where is your brother’s room?”
Scott looked up and for the first time saw the heat vent that was cut into the ceiling. “He heard?”
“He heard everything that you would never tell him – the things that he desperately needed to know.” Jennings placed a hand on Scott’s arm. “He loves you and couldn’t bare the thought of you being hurt…”
“So he nearly kills himself?” Scott spat angrily. “What gave him the right to presume that I couldn’t handle testifying? My grandfather presumed to think that my life would be better off without Johnny. I am not a child who needs to be protected!” With his anger overtaking his better sense, Scott stormed out of the room and up the stairs.
Alberta looked after him shaking her head. “He is a man and yet so much like a child. When he has a chance to think it through I hope he’ll understand that what Johnny did was out of love.” She then turned to her employer testing the sincerity of his words. “You aren’t angry at us?”
Jim Davis smiled and took her hand. “No, I’m not. I’ve heard enough stories about Johnny’s stubborn ways to know that you were just caught up by him. Rest easy, you’re a welcome addition to this house and I hope that you and your husband will be here for a long time. In fact, my daughter Melissa will be home soon and she could definitely use your guidance. If you think that Johnny Lancer is stubborn, wait until you meet my daughter!” Alberta and Jennings both breathed a sigh of relief as they made their way to their way back to work.
Upstairs, Scott tore off his coat and threw it into the closet with a loud thud. Puzzled by the sound, he retrieved the coat and the object that caused the noise – his brother’s gun. Dropping the coat he held the metal object in his hands. This gun was just as much a part of his brother as breathing. It had been used to kill and protect; the last time to protect Scott from Pierce. Closing his eyes, he could only think of his anger at his brother. Johnny, in his foolishness to protect him, had nearly gotten himself killed – again. The older brother didn’t think that he could stand much more of that sort of protection. He was already over burdened by the sense of guilt he had over his grandfather’s actions – now he felt responsible for what happened to Johnny today.
Throwing himself on the bed, he lay on his stomach thinking about what had transpired in the courtroom - worrying about what was going to happen to his grandfather. As relieved as he was that he didn’t have to testify, he was still deeply troubled. What was he going to do about his grandfather? What was going to happen to the man who had raised him? It was with those thoughts on his mind that he fell into an exhausted sleep.
“Don’t even think about it,” a disembodied voice came from near the window. Stepping into the light was a mere slip of a girl with a friendly smile on her face.
“Who are you?” Johnny asked as he lay back on the bed.
“I’m your keeper.” She went to him and tucked the covers back around him. Placing a cool hand on his forehead, she shook her head. He was too warm. “Dr. Kane seems to think that you just might try to escape…”
Johnny smiled and closed his eyes. The teasing tone of her voice was like music to his ears – so much like Teresa. “Escape…me?”
“And don’t even think about pulling any tricks!” The girl warned.
“What’s your name?”
“Linda Rae.” She answered going about her business of getting him a glass of water. She had to get fluids in him to help fight the fever that was building.
“Linda Rae.” Johnny repeated before she helped him to take several sips from a glass. When he was done, he laid back - his energy spent. “I guess ‘ole Doc Kane thinks that he has me all figured out.”
“He seems to think that you could talk a lobster out of his shell.” The nurse gave her patient a gentle smile and took his hand. “Mr. Lancer…”
“Johnny,” the young man smiled, his blue eyes meeting hers.
She smiled in return. “You need to rest.”
“Will you be here when I wake up again?”
She only smiled and gently placed her hand over his eyes. In seconds, he was once again fast asleep. Watching as his breaths came slower and more evenly, Linda Rae took her seat in the nearby chair. She had already sent her replacement home; this one was hers until it was time for him to leave.
Scott awoke the next morning still dressed in his now wrinkled suit, his brother’s gun lay on the bed next to him. Remembering what had happened the day before he stood, stretched and placed the gun in his bag for safe keeping. There would be no forgiveness if he lost Johnny’s gun.
Thoughts of the trial and how his Grandfather had been all but dragged from the courtroom assailed his conscious thoughts. So much was said the day before – words that could never be taken back or explained. In his desperation to have Scott remain in Boston, his grandfather had tried to kill Johnny. The fact that his normally rational grandfather had gone to such lengths worried the young man. Had his grandfather gone over the edge? He didn’t want to think so, but what else could explain the irrational behavior? He was caught between the anger he had at Harlan Garrett for presuming that his life would be better without Johnny and pity for the older man’s desperate delusional actions born out of loneliness.
Looking out the window, he remembered his thoughts of the days before – how he wished to be anywhere but in Boston testifying against his grandfather. Johnny, in his own way, had made that wish come true. It further angered Scott that his brother had not thought him strong enough to testify against his grandfather. He had been treated like a child by two of the most important men in his life and it infuriated him.
His angry thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock at the door. “Mr. Scott?” Jennings called.
Scott’s anger faded briefly, thinking how refreshing it was to be in a house where people didn’t just barge into his bedroom – unlike a certain young woman halfway around the world. “It’s open,” he called starting to remove the ruined clothes.
Jennings came over and helped him out of the shirt and stood by patiently for Scott to remove the pants. “Alberta has breakfast ready. Do you want a bathe first or eat?”
“Is the tub deep enough to drown in?” Scott mumbled sarcastically.
“No…” Jennings answered uncertainly.
Scott sighed. “Well, then I had better eat first.”
Jennings went to the closet and pulled out Scott’s robe and slippers. “Mr. Davis is already downstairs waiting.”
Scott took the offered apparel, and quickly put them on before heading downstairs to breakfast.
Jim Davis was also relaxing in a robe. “Scott,” he greeted the young man, carefully placing the paper on the table, the headline down. “How do you feel?”
“Still angry, sir,” Scott responded taking the seat next to his host. Ever observant, he realized that Jim was hiding the headline from him. “May I see that?” He asked extending his hand towards the paper.
Reluctantly, Jim handed over the paper. He watched in silence as Scott read the banner and the companion story. The paper reported that ‘…Harlan Garrett, a pillar of Boston Society had to be carried out of the courtroom yesterday after physically attacking a witness….’ The reporter drew the conclusion that Harlan Garrett must have gone insane to have behaved in such a manner. It upset Scott that the Boston Herald, which had been supported by his grandfather, was now turning on him. “Is this what people really think – that my grandfather has gone insane?” Scott asked finally, placing the paper down.
Jim sadly shook his head. “How else would you explain it?”
Scott looked away, toying with his coffee cup. “I think that he was dying of loneliness and that the idea that he could keep me here was the only cure he could find.”
“So, you understand it?”
Shaking his head, Scott sighed. “I understand it a little – but I don’t forgive it.”
“And what about Johnny – do you forgive him?”
Scott again turned to his cup and considered his words. “He took the stand and spoke about what Grandfather had tried to take from him – but did he take the time to think about what had been taken from me?”
“I think that he knows better than anyone,” Jim advised in a gentle manner. “I think that he knew that your grandfather was no longer the man that he had been and didn’t want to see your relationship with Harlan further destroyed…”
“So, he nearly gets himself killed!” Scott was now standing and pacing the room. “Why couldn’t he just let me do what I had to do? I was prepared!”
“He had no way of knowing…”
“He could have asked!”
“I believe he did.” Jim watched as Scott turned to leave the room. “Scott, where are you going?”
a brother to see.” Scott spat striding from the room.
Scott Lancer arrived at Massachusetts General Hospital at 10 AM. Once again, he made his way through the marbled halls to his brother’s room. Quietly opening the door he observed his brother sleeping peacefully on the bed while a young nurse was sleeping awkwardly in a hard chair. As he approached, the girl awoke. Startled, Linda Rae glanced nervously from the visitor to her patient. Seeing that Johnny had finally settled into a restful sleep, she placed her finger on her lips warning Scott to remain silent. Slowly she stood, smoothing the wrinkles from her uniform skirt and went to the visitor guiding him towards the door. “Who are you?” She whispered.
“I’m his brother, Scott. How is he doing?”
The nurse looked from her dark-haired patient to the blond-haired visitor. They certainly didn’t look much like brothers. “He had a rough night. Between the pain and the nightmares we practically had to use force to give him an injection of morphine so that he could get some rest.” She looked again at the sleeping man, noting the slight flush to his face. “He’s also fighting a fever…”
Scott closed his eyes and shook his head – it sounded like Johnny – fighting his own recovery. This relapse could have been avoided if his brother had just trusted him to have the strength to handle testifying against his grandfather. “I’ll sit with him if you’d like to take a break,” Scott offered to the exhausted nurse.
Linda Rae smiled, tempted by the offer. “You’re sure that you wouldn’t mind? I was given strict orders not to leave him alone.”
“Not at all, I’m an old hand at watching over him.” Scott opened the door and gently shut it behind her.
Returning to the bed, he sat in her vacated chair. Johnny looked terrible. The dark circles under his eyes seemed to have sunk some more and his complexion was a waxy white. What price had his brother paid for the foolishness of the day before? He wanted to take Johnny’s hand in his own, but his anger was holding him back. Standing, he went to the window to look out at the cold crisp early November morning. He was deep in thought when he heard a cough coming from the bed. Turning, his eyes met his brother’s. He tried to smile, but failed miserably. “How are you feeling?”
“Better. It still hurts to breathe, but that’s to be expected…” Johnny paused sensing that his brother didn’t really want to hear how he was doing. He watched as Scott came close and sat on the edge of the bed.
Scott sat staring at his hands for several long moments before he spoke. “You know, they all think that he’s insane now…” Johnny had to strain to hear his brother’s whispered words. Suddenly Scott turned on Johnny, his face a mask of anger and his voice raised to match. “I could have prevented that if you had just let me testify! But no! You had to be the hero and rush in – stealing the evidence – baiting him into attacking you! What were you thinking?”
Johnny had expected a certain amount of anger, but was not prepared for a full fledged attack. “Scott, I didn’t want you to testify…”
“You didn’t want me to testify?” Scott stood, his strong legs propelling him around the room. “Johnny, this isn’t about what YOU want – this is about what happened and how I am responsible for making it right!”
“Responsible? But, you didn’t do nothin’ wrong.” Johnny responded puzzled by his brother’s reaction.
“You just don’t get it, do you? It was my job to testify against my grandfather – not yours!”
“Scott…” Johnny hadn’t counted on Scott reacting like he was. His brother had come itching for a fight and Johnny saw himself as being obliged to give him one. He had to talk some sense in to that thick Bostonian head that he wasn’t the enemy here. No one was. Clenching his teeth against the pain, he threw off the covers and slowly made himself stand on shaky legs.
Scott paced quickly in front of the window before coming to a stop with his back to his brother. In a quiet calm voice, he continued to vent his anger and frustration at Johnny. “You just don’t get it, do you? When my grandfather did what he did – he thought that he was protecting me – from you! What you did was just as bad. You were trying to shield me from him! I am not some child in need of protection, or is that how you see me?”
Scott turned to look at Johnny, who was now out of bed and was walking towards him, his arms wrapped protectively around his heaving chest. Immediately Scott stopped his shouting and went to his brother. Before he had a chance to steady him, Johnny seemed to melt to the floor in a heap. “Johnny…!”
Henry Kane and the nurse had entered the room just as Scott had accused Johnny of treating him like a child. “What is going on here? I could hear shouting down the hall…” He stopped when he saw his patient on the floor. “Good God!” He swore. “Help me get him back in bed.”
Together the two men lifted the unconscious man and gently laid him back in his bed. Scott backed away, his eyes never leaving Johnny’s face. “I’m sorry, I just…”
“You were just what - acting like a child?” The doctor’s eyes flashed in undisguised disgust at Scott’s behavior.
Scott looked away, ashamed by his actions. “I just wanted him to know how I felt...”
“Well, I think he knows now.” Henry was once again listening to the breath sounds of his patient. “If he doesn’t stay in bed, he’ll never get better.” He turned to the nurse. “Linda Rae, go get the morphine…”
“No.” Scott interrupted. “Please, he doesn’t like medicine like that…”
Henry looked at Scott, still angry at what had just happened. “And just why is that?”
“I don’t know – something in his past.” Scott looked from the doctor to his brother, his anger abating. “Doctor, you’ve got to trust me on this. Don’t give him any more morphine or laudanum unless he asks for it…”
Henry looked at Scott, this time it was the doctor who shook his head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea either. That’s how he got the laudanum to take so that he could go to the trial. He asked for it after he fell at the Davis house the other day.” Henry watched as his words stunned Scott. Both men now looked at the unconscious Johnny. He had duped both of them. “When you think of it, he is quite remarkable,” Henry quietly observed, his annoyance at Scott quickly dwindling. “He manipulated all of us so that he could be there – just for you.”
“He should have trusted me,” Scott murmured tentatively fingering a lock of Johnny’s thick black hair.
“I think he does. He trusted you to find him - and you did. He was just returning the favor. No man should testify against someone they love – so Johnny did it for you.”
“There are no ‘buts’ here, Scott. What is done is done. What we have to do now is to get your brother well again so you both can go home.”
Scott considered the words. It was all so overwhelming. So much had happened and still there was no viable conclusion in sight. He felt like a mouse in a maze. He was running fast and going no where. He realized that he had to stop and think about what had happened and try to figure out what the future held for them all. Looking at his brother he recognized that Johnny wasn’t the only one fighting for his life. “I have to go to my grandfather…” Scott gave the doctor a brief smile. “You think you can keep an eye on him for me?”
“Don’t worry; I’ll keep a close watch on this one…”
you.” Scott gave Johnny’s hand a brief squeeze before leaving and
heading over to the City Jail.
Harlan Garrett’s new home was a tiny cell in the basement of the Boston City Jail. His uneaten breakfast lay in a spattered mess on the floor. Yesterday he had awakened in the familiar softness of his own bed. Today he was relegated to a tiny hard mattress on a disgustingly filthy cot. How had this happened? What had he done to deserve such treatment? Turning his thoughts to the events of the day before all he could picture was the smug face of the half-breed holding that damned note!
Standing, he began to pace the confined space. He had to get out. He had a business to run, people to see… He paused, hearing footsteps sounding on the cold stone floor. Looking down the hallway, he saw his jailer followed by another person. His heart leapt when he recognized his own beloved Scotty!
“You’ve got a visitor, Garrett.” The jailer pulled a stool up to the bars for Scott to sit on. “Just let me know when you’re ready to leave, Mr. Lancer.”
Scott took note of the remnants of what appeared to be breakfast on the floor as he waited for the jailer to move out of hearing range before greeting his grandfather. “How are you Sir?”
Harlan regarded his grandson; his heart swelled knowing that Scott had come for him. “Fine, now that you are here! Sit, sit!” He directed pulling his own stool up close to the bars that separated them. “Scotty, this is an outrage! I’ve done nothing wrong and look where I am! I just knew that you would come to get me out.”
Scott listened as his grandfather prattled on, repeating a litany of how he was innocent of any crimes. Slowly, a realization came to Scott that his grandfather was indeed insane. After a bit, the prattling stopped and Scott looked at his grandfather with mournful eyes. “What is it, Scotty?” Harlan asked, concerned that his grandson looked so profoundly unhappy.
“Grandfather, do you know where you are?”
“Of course I do! I’m in jail!”
“And why are you in jail?”
Harlan frowned and his eyes looked away from his grandson. “I did a terrible thing, Scotty. I got caught planning to kill a filthy Mexican half-breed….”
“That ‘Mexican half-breed’ is my brother.” Scott said the words simply waiting for a response.
Harlan’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know who’s been telling you that lie, but you have no brother. My daughter, Catherine – God rest her soul, only had one child – you.”
The response shook Scott’s soul. This was not the man he knew. He pushed on, trying to establish how deeply the denial ran. “Do you remember Murdoch Lancer?”
Harlan’s eyes flashed. “That bastard stole my daughter away. He took her and he killed her. She was meant for a finer life - here in Boston. Her beauty was known throughout the town. Why she decided to squander herself on him I just never understood….” The words began to run together as tears began to stream down his face. “…and then he tried to take you away from me. But I was prepared that time. I made it so that he could never see you again…”
“What did you do?” Scott asked leaning closer hoping that finally he was going to get a straight answer to a question that had been nagging him for most of his life. Why hadn’t his father come for him?
“He came on your fifth birthday, of all days. We were having a party at the house. He said that he was going to take you back to California – that you deserved to be with him. Well, I told him that I had more money than he did and that I would fight him with all of my resources – to my very last penny to keep you here where you belonged. I told him that I was the only father that you had known and would know.” Harlan paused and began to giggle. “You know what I did? I introduced him to you like he was a visitor. He shook your tiny hand for the briefest of seconds and then you asked if you could cut your birthday cake! I didn’t even invite him for a piece….” Harlan was now laughing out loud.
Scott felt as though his heart had been stabbed. His father had come for him! He had been wanted! Scott thought of his father and the heartache that Harlan had inflicted. He marveled that his father had never mentioned the event, never tried to put a wedge between himself and Harlan. Murdoch had let Harlan have his way in the hope that ultimately Scott would want to find out his heritage on his own. The frown deepened on the blonde’s handsome face as he realized that his grandfather’s response indicated that the seeds for Harlan’s present condition had been sown all those years ago. Looking at his grandfather now, Scott could only wonder why he hadn’t noticed the irrational behavior before. “Grandfather…” He spoke, gently interrupting the ramblings of the older man. “I have to go, but I’m going to be back with help…” Scott stood and reached out to the man who had raised him. “I love you...”
“Don’t leave me Scott!” Harlan grasped the offered hand and began to plead realizing that his grandson was leaving without him.
Scott struggled to be free from the strong grasp until the jailer came close and gave his grandfather a menacing look. Cowering, Harlan released his grandson and retreated to the far corner of his cell. “I’ll be back soon.” Scott promised again before he practically ran from the hell that his grandfather was now confined to.
From the corner of his cell, Harlan Garrett smiled.
Once outside, Scott felt like running. With long strides, he made his way to the Common, and his own secret spot. Taking deep breaths he tried to make sense of all that had happened since his arrival. The cold air helped to crystallize his thoughts. His grandfather was ill. Something had happened – perhaps even before Scott’s birth - that had set the older man down a path of self destruction that threatened to destroy everything and everyone he loved. Scott continued to walk faster and faster until he was practically running. The more his mind whirled the faster he went – until he reached the pond near the center of the Common. There, the water was calm and as smooth as a looking glass. His strong legs propelled him up a mound of rocks until he was standing on a ledge that hung over the water. Leaning over, he stared at his reflection - he looked to be the same Scott Lancer he had always been – maybe there were lines of fatigue near his eyes, but all in all – he looked the same. This both relieved and bothered him. Relieved that he still could look like the man he was before he came to Boston for this visit. Bothered - that somewhere deep inside, he could have the same illness that now seemed to consume his grandfather.
Exhausted, he sat on the ledge and looked out over the still water. Scott realized that he was drowning in an ocean of guilt. Guilt, that his grandfather and friends had conspired to kill his brother; that Johnny had been injured, that he hadn’t done more to protect his brother. On more than one occasion, Johnny had absolved him of any part in the kidnapping, but it hadn’t helped. If he had been paying better attention, he would have noticed the change in his friends and in his grandfather. If he had been paying attention, he would have realized that Johnny’s testimony had not been done to hurt Harlan. If he had been paying attention, he would have stopped Johnny from getting out of bed that last time. Even now, as he sat on the ledge, he felt shamed for not going back to his brother to let him know that he was sorry for yelling at him. He knew that he had to go back to face Johnny – but not yet. Not until he had an idea of what he was facing with his grandfather. Scott had too much on his mind. Just the thought of his brother’s new pains added to the burden that seemed to be piling on his shoulders.
Picking up several small pebbles - he began to throw them into the tranquil water one by one. He watched as the water rippled and thought that each ripple was like his life. When the successive ripples collided, they changed course with varied unpredictability. With each discarded stone, he began to think of what he had to do to make things right again – to make the ripples flow in the directions he wanted them to go. Watching as the ripples dissipated and the water became smooth, he began to appreciate the gift that Johnny had given him. Johnny hadn’t tried to be a hero at the trial - he had tried to protect Scott. It still angered Scott that his brother thought so little of his own health that he would place himself in jeopardy. Someday, he would share that concern with him. For now, Scott decided that it would be best to leave his brother’s care in the capable hands Henry Kane and Alberta. He had to take time to come to terms with what would have to be done to help his grandfather. He had to come to terms with his own emotions and regain control of himself and his life so that he could be focused for the sentencing hearing to be held in a few short days. Scott needed to find help for Harlan – something other than jail.
Alberta was sitting next to Johnny when he awoke again. His eyes felt heavy and every square inch of his body was screaming in pain. Slowly he turned his head and observed the older woman as she sat quietly knitting whatever it was she was working on. Too tired to speak, he watched her and listened to her gentle humming. His mother liked to hum to herself when she was deep in thought or when she knew he was hurting. Closing his eyes, he imagined his mother sitting next to him, like she had when he was a child. Just hearing the sound would calm his restlessness and ease his pain. God, how he missed her! It had been 10 years since her death and he still missed her. A new pain lanced through his heart at just the thought of her.
A tear must have escaped his eye and he was startled from his thoughts by the gentle brush of a cloth against his cheek. “Are you alright Mr. Johnny?”
It took the injured man several seconds to collect himself and get a grip on where he was. “Sure,” He whispered, hurt and disappointment clear in his voice. He was back in the hospital and he was hurt – again.
“The doctor is sure mad at you…”
“Not half as mad as I am at myself.”
Alberta smiled and used a damp cloth to wipe the beads of perspiration that were forming on his fevered brow. “Now, why are you mad?”
“I’m back here for one and I hurt like hel...” Johnny paused realizing that she didn’t deserve to hear foul language. “I hurt like heck.”
“And just what made you think that you wouldn’t end up back here after you walked into that courtroom?” Johnny had no response so he remained stubbornly quiet. Not one to take such a quick dismissal, Alberta pressed on. “I understand that Scott came to see you this morning. The doctor said that he was angry…”
Johnny snorted and looked away. He had expected Scott to be angry, but he hadn’t expected the verbal lashing he received. The former gunfighter’s patience was gone. He had been trampled by horses, kidnapped, tortured, stabbed, operated on and now he was supposed to let his brother use him like a ‘whipping boy’. The physical pain he could handle. The emotional pain – he was trying to deal with. An attack from Scott completely shattered his world.
“You mustn’t be angry at him…”
“No? And just who should I be angry at? Tell me that – because I’d like to know!” Johnny spat the sarcastic words, closing his eyes tight to fight off the wave of pain that rippled through this chest.
“You’ve got a right to be angry…”
“But not at your brother.”
“Well, you had best tell him that too, because I’m not sure how much more of this I can take…” Johnny had finally reached a wall that he couldn’t breach and he found himself falling into a pit of depression and despair. He wanted this ordeal to be over. He wanted to be home. He wanted things to be the way they were before Harlan Garrett ever showed his face at the ranch. He didn’t have the strength to fight the pain, nightmares and memories that consumed his soul– and fight his brother too.
Alberta regarded her charge with concern. She had been wondering if the strong and stoic Johnny Lancer would crack and he just had; only it wasn’t a crack that had formed, but a large fissure. The wounds to the young man ran deeper than the scars that his body bore. They ran straight to his soul. She hadn’t been present when Scott had come, but she had heard that he had been very cold to his brother. Had he gone too far in venting his anger at the injured man? “Johnny, I don’t know what to tell you except that your brother loves you…”
“Yeah, well he sure has an odd way of showing it.” Johnny looked at Alberta and frowned, his hands clenching the covers. “I can’t go through that again. I won’t.”
“Shhh,” She whispered, again dabbing at his sweaty forehead as his eyes closed again. “You rest. No one is going to hurt you again. No one.”
While Alberta was lending comfort to Johnny, Jennings had gone in search of Scott. He and the young man had been very close during his youth. Whenever Scott became angry or cross, he would always run to his secret spot in the Common. As Jennings trudged his way through the thick fall grasses, he wondered if he was getting too old to chase down young men who wanted to lose themselves. As he neared his destination he was gratified to find his charge seated in the same old familiar spot. Slowly, and with caution, he climbed up the rock formation until he was next to Scott. “You’re getting too old for this, Mr. Scott.” He admonished the younger man, clearly startling Scott from his thoughts.
‘I wanted to be alone,” Scott pouted without turning his head.
“I see, and a fine job you’ve done of it too. Now, just what is it that you want to be alone from?”
Scott threw another pebble into the pond before replying. “I hurt Johnny. I yelled at him and he fell…”
“Did you apologize?”
“I can’t…” Scott looked down, shamefaced. “I know that he testified to help, but it doesn’t make it any less forgivable. He put himself at risk – he nearly got killed….”
“He knows that. He did it for you…”
“Don’t say that!” Scott stood and brushed the dirt off his pants. “I’m tired of people doing things for me.” Jennings only nodded his response and stood watching as Scott began throwing pebbles into the pond. “Tell me, when did Grandfather begin to go mad?”
The question stunned the older man. “What do you mean?”
“The newspapers are right – I think he’s gone insane. When did that happen?”
Jennings sank down to sit on a large rock. “Alberta and I were beginning to wonder about that too. His behavior has always been unpredictable at best. Why your grandmother had to practically keep him on a leash!” Jennings flashed a smile, but it quickly left his face when he saw that Scott found no humor in the comment. Clearing his voice, he continued. “The best that we can figure is that it was sometime when your mother was in her teens – before she even met your father. He was always very possessive of her. When she left with your father, well, he never quite recovered.”
Scott looked at the older man, a bewildered expression on his face. Scott had figured that the illness may have manifested after he left for Lancer, but now he was being told that it had started even before his birth! This news lessened the feeling of responsibility that he held for himself. “What am I supposed to do?” He finally whispered.
“Do you love your grandfather?”
“Yes, God help me, after all that he has done I still love him.”
“Then you need to get him help before he hurts himself or anyone else - again.”
Scott considered the words and took them to heart. He had heard of places where people could get help – perhaps that is what his grandfather needed. “I guess that I have some work cut out for me…” Scott extended his hand and pulled the older man up. “Thank you for coming to find me – again.”
“You’re very welcome, sir.” Arm in arm, the two men made their way back down to the flatland and back onto the streets of Boston.
After securing a carriage to take Jennings back to the Davis Residence, Scott made his way to the State’s Attorney’s office. Randall Coates saw him immediately. “How is your brother doing?” Randall asked shaking Scott’s hand.
Scott winced at the question, embarrassed by his own part in the deteriorating health of his brother. “He’s still in the hospital… I’ve come about my grandfather…”
“Good! I’ve been working up my argument for sentencing. There is a strong case for life imprisonment….”
“No.” Scott interrupted causing the attorney to look at him with questioning eyes.
“I assumed that you would want a severe punishment for what he did to your brother…”
Scott raised his left hand and rubbed his tired eyes. “Lord knows he deserves it – but I don’t think that life in prison is where a sick man belongs…”
“Sick? Is your grandfather ill?”
Shaking his head, Scott tried again. “I believe that my grandfather may be mentally deranged and not responsible for his actions… I think that he may be insane.”
Randall Coates stared at the young man in front of him unsure of how to respond. “Mr. Lancer, everything that we found reveals that your grandfather is a very cold and calculating man both in business and in his personal life. To say that he is insane….”
“I know, but after I spoke with him this morning, I can’t help but believe that it’s true.”
“And how does your brother feel about this?”
“I don’t know.” Scott looked away from the stare he was receiving. “We had words this morning. I haven’t been back to speak to him. I wanted to talk with you first.”
Randall stood and sat on the edge of his desk immediately in front of Scott, his arms now folded across his chest. “What is it that you’re asking?”
“I want him to be committed to an institution so that he can get help.”
“He could be there for the rest of his life.”
“I know, but if he has a mental illness, he needs help and not prison.” Scott knew this was a terrible decision to be making. Previously, he had been trying to put his grandfather behind bars – to be punished for what he had done to Johnny. Now he was hoping that his grandfather could be institutionalized. What would Johnny and Murdoch think of this outcome?
Randall shook his head. “I’ll go ahead and have him evaluated by a psychiatrist. I’m also going to speak with your brother and the Hawthorne family. I can’t even consider a recommendation of a Commitment without the consent of the victims.” He paused as Scott nodded his understanding. “Do you want to discuss this with your brother or should I?”
It took several seconds for Scott to consider this request. “You had better ask him directly. I don’t think that he wants to see me.” Scott hung his head thinking of his brother. He was sure that his bitter words had hurt Johnny, but he wasn’t ready to face him again. He had to be focused on his grandfather. There would be time later for him to apologize to his brother.
Randall Coates uncrossed his arms and moved back behind his desk. “Alright, I’ll see him in the morning.”
“Thank you,” Scott whispered standing.
Scott left the State’s Attorneys office and headed to his grandfather’s house. He hoped that there he might be able to find a clue to the madness that was now driving the older man. It was mid-afternoon, the sun was bright and the air still crisp. Quickly he made his way through the residential streets to his grandfather’s house. Realizing that Harlan may not have yet hired a replacement for Jennings, he went to the rear of the house to use a key that was secreted under a rock near the steps. He smiled thinking of how he and Jennings had worked hard to hollow out the stone so that there would be enough room for the key. His grandfather had been very proud and appreciative of the effort.
Swallowing hard, he entered the dwelling. The house seemed cold and vacant – as though someone had died. With a slight shiver, he made his way to his grandfather’s study. Opening the door slowly, he halfway expected to be yelled at for entering the older man’s private sanctum. When he was a child, the room was off limits. As he grew older – going to the study meant that he was in trouble. When he was in college, he would use the room for his studies, but the desk was always kept locked.
Entering the room, he felt like a thief, much like he had when he broke into his grandfather’s office. Quickly he rifled through the papers sitting out on the desk. There was nothing there other than the normal papers associated with the running of the house. Sitting in the chair, he tried the draws only to find them locked. Picking up the letter opener, he forced the lock on the top drawer – tripping the locks on the side drawers. “God forgive me,” Scott muttered to himself as he began his search.
In the large drawer to the right he found several folders – one on himself, Murdoch, Alberta, Jennings and even Johnny. Since the reason for his grandfather being in jail was for what he had done to his brother – he started with Johnny’s folder. The folder was thick and was tied shut. Opening the strings, he gasped when he saw a duplicate copy of the Pinkerton Report that Murdoch had in his own desk. Scott had seen the report once, but had never read it. This copy was well worn and dog eared. “Oh, grandfather….” Scott closed his eyes, envisioning his grandfather gloating over the painful events that had formed his brother’s life. Not wishing to betray his brother’s trust, he closed the file and resealed it. Opening his own file, he found old report cards, awards and reports that Scott had accumulated over his academic life from Primary School to the University. There were articles about the time he spent in the Army and of his confinement in Libby Prison. The young man had wondered what had become of the trophies from his past. His grandfather had kept every single one of them. Closing that file, he opened the file marked Murdoch Lancer. There he found another Pinkerton report – this one was not as thick as his brother’s. This report was a chronology of his father’s life from the time he left Inverness, Scotland to just a few months ago! Scott was awed at the information that his grandfather had gathered about his father. Written in the margins were little notes that Harlan had written to himself about investing in concerns that were adverse to the interests to Lancer. This went a long way to explain some of the business setbacks that had happened over the past year. It made Scott think that his grandfather had been manipulating them all just by sitting at his desk in Boston. Scott gathered up the folders and made his way to the foyer. He would take the folders with him for safe keeping. He didn’t like the idea that a stranger could come into the house and find information so personal to himself and his family.
Before leaving, he remembered that his grandfather had kept a journal for as long as he could remember. Leaving the folders on the table in the foyer, he went upstairs to his grandfather’s bedroom. The room was neat as a pin – the bed made and the dressers neatly shut – waiting for the return of the owner. Scott went to the night stand and opened the drawer. There was a small, well worn, leather bound book. Picking up the volume, he opened it to find it almost completely filled in his grandfather’s neat handwriting. Glancing out the window, he saw that it was getting dark. He decided to take the journal and the folders back to the Davis residence where he could study them properly.
Scott returned to the Davis residence well after dark. His clothing was disheveled and his face beet red from the bitter November weather.
Jim Davis met him in the foyer noting Scott’s appearance and the materials that he had clutched in his arms. “Good God! Come in – you look terrible.” Taking the young man by the arm he led him into the drawing room and to a seat near the fire. Going to the bar he poured a snifter of brandy and directed the young man to drink it down.
Scott, numb from the cold, obeyed the instruction downing the liquor – feeling it burn a path to his stomach. When he was done, he held the snifter out for more. This time, he would take small sips.
“Where have you been?” Jim asked taking a seat beside Scott. “Jennings said that he found you in the Common, but we expected you back hours ago.”
“I had to see the State’s Attorney. I think my grandfather is insane and may not be responsible for what he has done.”
Jim Davis sucked in his breath. Jennings had told him a little of the conversation he had with Scott so he wasn’t completely surprised by the statement. “Are you sure?”
“What do you mean?” Scott, who had thought of nothing but his grandfather for the entire day was unprepared for the question.
“Scott, your grandfather has been a manipulative old goat for as long as I’ve known him. Are you positive that he is ill?”
Scott shook his head in disagreement remembering the pathetic expression on his grandfather’s face as he left him in his cell. “My grandfather has been manipulative, but he’s never knowingly hurt anyone- until this time with Johnny.” Scott paused, his mind still reeling with the knowledge that his grandfather had knowingly attempted to have his brother killed. Composing himself, he continued. “When I met him this morning, he was clearly unbalanced and emotionally unstable. He had no grasp that he had done anything wrong. He told me of things he had done in the past to keep my father away from me…: Scott sighed and hung his head. “Sorry. It’s been a long day…” He looked at his father’s friend. “Yes, I’m positive that he is ill. He needs help and I’m going to see that he gets it.” Scott picked up the folders and journal and headed to the stairs.
“What have you got there?”
Scott looked at the material. “I went to my grandfather’s house to see if I could find any more clues to his behavior. I found his journal and these folders on myself, Murdoch and Johnny. I think they may provide some answers….”
Jim smiled and patted Scott’s shoulder. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“The State’s Attorney is going to meet with Johnny tomorrow. Can you be there with him?”
“Shouldn’t you be there for your brother?”
Scott shook his head sadly. “I treated him badly this morning…”
“So I heard.”
Scott’s eyes flashed. “How is he doing?”
Jim shook his head. “Alberta spent the day with him. The attack in the courtroom and the fall this morning has set his recovery back. Thank God that he didn’t tear any of the stitches, but he’s in a lot of pain and he’s angry – at you.”
“I know,” Scott admitted.
“So, what are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing for the moment – right now I’ve got to focus myself on my grandfather and get him the help he needs. Johnny will just have to understand. Goodnight, Sir.”
Jim Davis watched in stunned silence as Scott left the room and made his way upstairs. This was not the same young man who had devoted every waking moment to his brother for the past week. Something had happened to change Scott and it wasn’t for the better. Thinking of Harlan Garrett, he could only hope that Scott’s efforts were well founded. Having known the man in business, Jim certainly had his doubts.
The tiny basement cell was illuminated by the glow of a single candle. Harlan Garrett thought back on his conversation with Scott. It had been a masterful performance. He could tell that he had the young man totally convinced of his mental instability. Subsequent visitors had told him of the argument that had transpired between Scott and the half-breed. His new plan was now coming together masterfully. The half-breed would be alive, only this time, he and Scott would be divided!