they made their way from the dusty little town to their father’s ranch, Scott
Lancer caught himself throwing glances at the sturdy young man perched in the
back of the wagon. John Lancer, or Johnny Madrid as he had called himself, sat
with studied indifference and watched the passing landscape. Whatever his
thoughts on finding that he possessed a brother, he was obviously not going to
share them. Nor did he seem overly concerned with what Scott thought of him.
Scott’s side, the young girl, Teresa, kept up a happy chatter, as if by doing
so she could fill the maw of silence that separated the two men. That was fine
with Scott. He was having a hard time sorting his own feelings. A brother, he
had a brother. The words sounded...alien, yet he couldn’t quite keep down the
thrill of expectation they produced. He had come out west to confront a father
he had never known. He’d found a complication he never would have suspected.
had grown up a in a house where formality ruled. Nevertheless, he loved his
grandfather; no matter how strict he had been he had never had reason to
question the old man’s affection. But he had always envied his friends’ less
rigid upbringings, especially those with siblings. That strange
friend-rival-co-conspirator relationship had always intrigued him.
cast another glance at his brother. But what of Johnny? Who had shared this
young man’s past? Not his father it seemed. The man apparently had not seen
fit to raise either of his sons. Had Harlan Garrett been right about Murdoch
Lancer after all?
Muchachos, ay viene!”
mentally shook himself as they passed through a large white archway and toward
the crowd of ranchhands whose shouts had announced their arrival. The way the
men responded to him and Johnny, one would have thought they were heirs to a
kingdom finally returned safely home.
drove the buckboard passed the curious throng and up to the front door. The
large structure had been dwarfed by its surroundings when they’d seen it from
the ridge. Up close, it was as fine a house as any on Beacon Hill. Scott turned
to his brother. Johnny was gazing at the dwelling with the same look of
appreciation...and something else. Scott could read it in his eyes. For this
man, its only worth was monetary.
felt a momentary disappointment but then shrugged it off. Not everyone is
looking for the missing part of their life. Together, they followed their
father’s ward into the small foray. Teresa motioned to the large set of doors
to their right and then disappeared into the house’s interior.
go ahead,” Johnny impatiently prompted.
took a deep breath and resolutely knocked.
the sound of their father’s voice, Scott opened the doors.
long, dark hallway was a well-known one, the intricate pattern of the carpeting
a common template through his friend’s house; a house that for years had been
like a second home. So why was he so afraid? Scott slowed his stepped as he
neared the closed door at the end of the passage, the dark wood a barrier to his
way. His hand trembled slightly as he reached for the brass doorknob.
door drifted open. The room beyond was as dark as the hall behind him. The
filtered light from the opened window was obscured by a dangling figure. He
tried to turn away and run from what waited for him but his legs refused to do
his bidding. Instead, he approached the body hanging from the rafters, the
creaking of the twisting rope the only sound. The corpse swung round. It was
bolted awake with a choked cry. He sat up and rubbed his hands over his face,
trying to dispel the image. God, he wished the dreams would stop. Peter Sinclair
was two weeks in his grave when the nightmares began. Scott remembered the first
one clearly. That time, his best friend had drowned as he stood helplessly by.
Only the privacy of the Pullman car he traveled in had saved him from
embarrassment as he woke screaming.
then, he’d watched Peter die half a dozen different ways; yet oddly, not in
the way he had. It didn’t take a genius to figure out where Scott’s mind had
dredged up this particular scenario. The burned out ranch and its dead owner
were fresh memories, courtesy of the men who had tried to drive Murdoch from his
property and, not incidentally, the reason for Scott’s present situation.
thought about going back to sleep, but decided against it. The dreams had never
haunted him twice in the same night but there was no sense tempting fate.
threw off the covers and sat on the edge of the bed. Light was beginning to
filter through the closed drapes and it shrouded the room in a diffused haze.
Slightly disoriented, he stretched and looked around. His new...not home,
exactly. He didn’t know what to call it at this point. But after three days it
was beginning to be familiar. Through the door Scott could hear noises coming
from the rest of the house, even though it couldn’t be much past six in the
such a disturbing dream, the sounds were comforting; kitchen noises as breakfast
was being made. The thought made Scott realize how hungry he was. He had always
been a big eater, though no matter how much he ate he stayed rail-thin. More
than once, his grandfather had despaired of being eaten out of house and home.
grinned sardonically. He didn’t think food would be a problem on a ranch with
so much livestock running around. He certainly hoped not. Although Murdoch
Lancer had decided to wait until Johnny was able to get around on his own before
breaking his two sons into the daily grind of ranch life, Scott could already
tell that his new occupation was invariably going to be a hard one. The events
of the last few days had been an insightful, though extreme, introduction;
beginning with their defeat of the land-pirates trying to run their father off
victory had been swift, but not without casualties. Johnny had almost been one
of them. A bullet he’d taken hadn’t damaged any organs, but he had lost
quite a bit of blood. The doctor had said it would be at least four days before
the youngest Lancer could make the trip into town to sign the papers that would
make them each one-third owner of their father’s vast holdings.
early morning cold brought a sudden shiver to his bare body. He draped a blanket
over his shoulders and got up to find his clothes. He figured he better get
dressed and downstairs. The girl, Teresa, had made it perfectly clear that
privacy was a luxury at Lancer. Like a sister, indeed. He wondered how
long she’d insist on that after the first time she was privileged to walk in
on either him or Johnny without a stitch on. That was one “privilege” Scott
was more than willing to leave to his brother.
Johnny doing?” Late to breakfast, Scott had found everyone already gone and
about their chores. He had wandered into the kitchen looking for something to
eat and had spied the young girl standing at the sink, cleaning the tray she had
been using to take Johnny his food.
turned to him and smiled. “Oh, much better. He even finished all his
breakfast.” Her eyes narrowed in perplexity. “He’s awfully quiet
grinned, her moods swinging like a child’s. “Your father. He’s a terrible
patient. All he does is complain about how much work still needs to be done. But
I suppose that will change now that he has the two of you.”
count on it,” Scott bristled. He hadn’t liked her choice of words.
are staying, aren’t you, Scott?”
look on the girl’s face made him regret his outburst. It wasn’t her fault.
And she genuinely seemed to love Murdoch Lancer. “Yes, I’m staying. I made a
deal with Murdoch and I plan to see it through.”
gave him a troubled look but didn’t reply.
an inward shrug Scott walked over to get his breakfast. No sense trying to
explain it to her. Teresa would have to deal with the situation as best she
could. He didn’t hear her leave, but when he turned away from the stove she
took a seat at the small table and ate in silence. Looking around, he was
surprised at how large the room actually was. He wondered if Murdoch did the
same kind of entertaining Scott’s grandfather had been famous for. Probably.
They’re more alike than they know...or are willing to admit. He had seen a
lot of Harlan Garrett in Murdoch Lancer.
was under no illusions when it came to his father. The man might have a certain
sentimental attachment to his sons; he apparently preferred signing over
two-thirds of his life work to them rather than hire total strangers to do the
job of saving it. But if push came to shove, Scott thought grimly, Murdoch’s
first priority was Lancer...and probably always would be. His father was a hard
man to figure out. Not for the first time, Scott wondered what his mother must
have been like.
softer Harlan Garrett, perhaps? Scott thought not. If Catherine Garrett had been
anything like her father, she and Murdoch would have been as compatible as oil
and water; something like Murdoch’s relationship with his second wife
according to what Johnny had said.
brought his thoughts around to his brother. Johnny was an enigma. His life
couldn’t have been an easy one; he didn’t even have a horse when they first
met. Yet he had been willing to throw away a new and better life over a minor
disagreement with their father.
was so much anger in Johnny. Though held in check most of the time, Scott had
already seen its destructive nature emerge whenever his brother felt emotionally
recalled Teresa’s words. Johnny’s mother had run off while Johnny was still
a baby. If his own history was any indication, Scott could well imagine what
stories his brother must have heard from her. Was she even alive?
was only one way he was going to get any answers. Scott stood up and took his
bowl over to the sink. He tossed his napkin into the hamper that sat next to the
counter and headed for his brother’s room.
I come in?” Scott waited at the doorway. His brother was propped against
several pillows and was still in a great deal of discomfort.
it’s not like I’m going anywhere,” Johnny drawled. He tried to pull
himself into a more upright position, but a grimace of pain crossed his face and
he fell back.
shouldn’t be trying to get up.” Scott approached the bed and took the chair
at its side. “A wound like that needs time to heal.”
would you know about it?”
was in a war, you know.”
gave a weak grin. “That’s right. Well, I guess you’re made of sterner
stuff than I first gave you credit for.”
can imagine,” Scott answered dryly.
what’s on your mind?”
something have to be on my mind? Can’t I just wonder how you’re doing?”
studied him a moment before answering. “No, I don’t think so. Don’t get me
wrong. I’m grateful to you for risking your own neck to go after me, even if I
do think you’re loco for doing it. But brother or not, we’re still
know. It doesn’t mean we have to stay that way. We’re going to be living
with each other after all.”
The young man appeared to find the view outside suddenly quite interesting.
earned your share of this ranch. Why would you want to leave?”
brother continued to gaze out the window on the adjacent wall. “Like I told
Murdoch, I don’t take orders very well. And that old man, he doesn’t cotton
to anyone who disagrees with him.”
have to learn to pick your battles.”
looked sharply back and scowled. “You trying to tell me what to do, too?”
shook his head in exasperation. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m just suggesting
that you don’t have to butt heads with him over everything. Is it going to
kill you to just go along with him sometimes?”
learned the hard way that you don’t let people see your weaknesses, and that
includes ‘going along’ with them. That’s a good way to get yourself
you’re being absurd,” Scott shot back.
to hell. I don’t need you to tell me how to live my life.” Johnny tensed and
turned away again. “Now get out. I’m tired.”
was instantly contrite. He knew his brother was in pain. “Look, I’m sorry.
It’s just that I don’t see any reason for you to think about leaving.” He
heard the young man sigh in exasperation. “Johnny?”
make it sound like it’s all up to me. Well, it ain’t. Murdoch’s already
made up his mind about how he feels. He might not come right out and say it, but
he’s made it clear he doesn’t trust me.”
doesn’t know you. None of us do. But we never will if you don’t give us the
chuckled. He seemed to think his words over before responding. “He knows me.
Or, at least, he knows what I am.”
what are you?”
was silence for a long time. Just when Scott thought his brother wasn’t going
to acknowledge his question, the young man finally spoke. The answer was laced
with pride, yet Scott could not help but hear the acrid tones of bitterness.
stood outside and watched the sun disappear behind the nearby mountains. The air
was still and all you could hear was an occasional nicker from the nearby corral
as the horses settled in for the night. He closed his eyes for a moment and let
himself relax. This land had an untamed beauty all its own. And he had found
himself drawn to its wildness as the gentle hills of the Appalachians had given
way to wide open spaces and towering peaks. Yet it disturbed him, too. He
wasn’t used to it, and this morning’s revelation had only added to his
brother was a gunhawk, one of those men who lived outside the law Scott had read
about in those awful dime novels so popular back East. Scott chuckled in spite
of himself. Could the situation be any more ludicrous?
turned to see his father standing in the doorway. Murdoch stepped out and joined
him alongside the railing just passed the portico.
in particular.” He returned to his perusal of the land. “It’s beautiful
it is.” Murdoch’s demeanor noticeably softened. “But then, I’m not
stood in comfortable silence. That surprised Scott. He hadn’t thought to have
anything in common with this stern, closed man, much less an easy contentment.
He glanced at his father and was startled to find himself being watched
Scott couldn’t help the slight defensiveness of his tone.
you talked to your brother today?”
he mention his plans?”
do you ask?”
didn’t respond. Instead, he walked to one of the benches placed nearby and
took a seat. “Standing still bothers me.”
didn’t answer my question,” Scott remarked.
didn’t answer mine. Never mind,” Murdoch waved off Scott’s reply. “I was
just hoping the two of you could find some common ground.”
So we’d stay?”
said you would stay. That’s good enough for me.”
Johnny? What about him?”
tell me. Did he say he would?”
hedged. “He said a lot of things.”
he? I’m surprised. I haven’t been able to get much out of him. I guess we
got off an the wrong foot.”
not doing all that better,” Scott conceded. “I don’t know how to take a
lot of what he says.”
he tell you something that bothered you?” Murdoch asked, clearly troubled.
told me he’s a gunfighter. But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
I knew. It was part of the Pinkerton report. But that was his place to tell you,
not mine. How did you take it?”
very well. I excused myself with some stupid remark about letting him get some
rest. It...it shocked me.”
did me, too. No man wants to think badly of his own son, even if that son is a
you? Think badly of Johnny, I mean?”
don’t know. I hope not.” Murdoch leaned against the wall and sighed,
stretching his leg and rubbing the sore limb. “But Johnny’s a closed book.
As far as he’s concerned, the less I know the better. He’s not about to let
me in anytime soon. This thing with his mother...” He trailed off and then
turned the question on Scott. “What do you think of him?”
groped for an answer. “He’s my brother. And I guess I feel a certain bond
because of it.” He smiled crookedly
at the doubt written on Murdoch’s face. “I know. It doesn’t make
sense. It’s just what I feel. But what exactly that bond means to me, I’m
just not sure yet. I want him to stay; that much I know.”
it’s up to you to see that he does,” his father quietly responded.
do I go about doing that?” Scott asked, though he really didn’t expect an
answer. Murdoch probably knew less about how to do it than he did.
turned to watched the stars as each became lost in their own thoughts. But the
man inside was a shadow neither could break loose from. They both felt the
connection that was slowly coming to life. Scott could only hope that Johnny
felt it, too.
house was quiet for once. Murdoch and Teresa had left for church right after
breakfast. His father had asked if he wanted to go with them, but Scott had
declined. He was hoping for an opportunity to talk to Johnny. He’d gone to his
brother’s room, but the drapes had been drawn and the room was dark. He could
just make out Johnny’s outline as he slept.
returned to his room, and with the entire morning to himself decided to tackle
the letter he knew his grandfather would be expecting. But sitting at the small
desk, a clean sheet of paper in front of him, he’d drawn a blank. He sat
motionless, pen in hand, and suddenly realized he was being watched.
glanced over to the room’s entrance. His brother stood leaning against the doorjamb,
carefully studying him.
are you doing up?” Scott asked.
strolled into the room and sat on the bed. Scott could tell his wound was still
bothering him from the way his brother slowly lowered himself against the
pillows. “I think if I stayed in that room ten more seconds I’d gone out of
my mind.” Johnny lifted his head slightly. “What are you doing?”
to write a letter.” Gratified that his brother was not upset with him, Scott
was grateful for this unexpected opportunity. “I’ve never been very good at
it though. Grandfather used to complain how few he received whenever I was
other times; mostly while I was at school.”
I’ll bet you were a real scholar, too.”
eyes narrowed. He couldn’t tell if Johnny was kidding or not. “I did
why’d your grandfather pack you off to school, anyway? No good schools in
lowered his head a moment to hide a smile. “I think he was trying to get me
away from what he considered a bad influence.”
Johnny leaned forward and carefully propped himself up on one elbow. “I
can’t imagine you getting into trouble. So who was this bad influence?”
good friend. We grew up together.”
this good friend have a name?” Johnny asked, clearly annoyed that Scott had
not offered the information.
two really close?”
Scott answered, his voice subdued by memory. “Very close; like brothers.” He
swore silently to himself. He hadn’t meant to say that.
huh?” Johnny’s voice was suddenly cool.
just an expression.” He really didn’t want to talk about his friend. It made
him uncomfortable for some reason. He returned to their original conversation.
“What about you? I would think you had some interesting experiences in
younger man shrugged. “Not really. Truth is, I never went for very long; not
much good at book-learning. Mainly, I guess, because we moved around so much.”
and why was that?”
brother got that closed looked Scott had seen a few times already and he knew
he’d stepped over the invisible line that divided what Johnny would talk about
from what he wouldn’t. This appeared to be yet another of those off-limit
areas. Instead of answering, Johnny leveled himself up and started walking
around the room.
approached the window and pulled aside the curtain, giving the area outside a
cursory glance before continuing his perusal of Scott’s accommodations. He
rambled leisurely up to the highboy and began scrutinizing the contents
scattered on its surface.
this?” Johnny turned toward Scott, a small wooden box in his hand.
froze except for a slight widening of his eyes. After a moment’s hesitation he
stood and walking deliberately up to his brother. He reached over and tried to
take it from Johnny’s hand. “It belonged to a friend of mine.”
guy Peter?” Instead of letting go, Johnny pulled his arm back, keeping a firm
grip on the box. “What’s so special about it?”
felt his anger flare and took a deep breath to calm himself before answering.
“Nothing. It’s just a box.”
you won’t mind me looking at it.”
eyes locked. He could see that Johnny was trying to push him. What Scott
didn’t understand was why. Trying to remain calm, though not doing a very good
job of it, he relented and let his brother take the small case.
stared at him until Scott moved away. Then he placed the box on the dresser and
carefully opened it. He withdrew one item at a time, turning them over and
examining them closely before setting them aside. He pulled out a faded blue
ribbon and read the lettering emblazoned across it. “‘First place’. This
friend of yours, he must be pretty fast.”
didn’t win the ribbon. I did.”
brother turned and gave Scott a strange look. “So how’d he end up with
gave it to him,” Scott replied, surprised at how self-possessed he sounded. He
certainly didn’t feel that way. With every memento Johnny had pulled from the
box, Scott’s anger had grown.
you’re like brothers.” It wasn’t a question.
to me if he wanted a ribbon that bad, he would have entered the race and got his
hands clenched into fists. “He did enter. He just wasn’t...I won the
wasn’t fast enough, huh?” Johnny twirled the ribbon through his fingers.
“You were first and you gave it away like it didn’t mean anything.”
wouldn’t understand. Sometimes people are more important than things. To me,
eyes darkened even while he smiled. “He’s so important to you, how come you
left him behind? Maybe you should have brought him along.”
Scott saw was red and his words were an accusation. “He couldn’t. He’s
dead. He just wasn’t any good at killing.”
could actually see the chasm open up between them. And at that moment, Scott was
almost glad. Silently, his brother returned the items to their place in the box
and, without a word, left the room.
was several long seconds before Scott was able to approach the bureau, his
progress hampered by legs weak from shaking. He placed the box in the top drawer
and then retraced his steps to the desk. He lowered himself onto the chair,
picked up his pen and returned to his letter.
watched the shadows chase across his room, the wind causing the moon to play
hide-and-seek behind the clouds. Rain threatened. Tired, yet still unable to
relax, he lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. He heard the clock
downstairs strike the hour. Two in the morning, and still his thoughts kept
going round and round, always returning to his brother.
the debacle that morning, Murdoch and Teresa had returned home and the rest of
the day had settled into the dull monotony of nothing to do; nothing to take his
mind off his run-in with his brother. He’d made the mistake of asking Murdoch
if he could go over the books. His father had declined the offer and there had
almost been an argument. Scott’s rage had still been white-hot .
his anger had finally cooled, he realized how much his words to his brother must
have stung. Though the pain of Peter’s death was still an open wound, his
remark had been uncalled for.
wasn’t even sure why he’d said it, or where the disproportionate response
came from. Caught off-guard by the fury that had claimed him, he’d lashed out
at his brother.
Scott couldn’t deny the satisfaction he had felt. Had he hurt Johnny?
He couldn’t tell.
attempt at seeing Johnny again had not gone well, either. Scott snorted in
disgust. It had been a fiasco.
His brother was polite...well, sort of. But it would have taken a stick
of dynamite to blow away the blithe facade Johnny used as a shield. Scott tried
to put their argument behind them with a stream of small-talk, though he
realized now without apologizing, but finally gave up. He’d saddled his horse
and spent the rest of the day exploring the ranch.
the nagging problems couldn’t be put to rest by a few hour’s ride. His
uncharacteristic reaction still bothered him, especially since it seemed to be interfering
with the rapport he was trying to build with his brother. Scott thought about
their relationship so far. It certainly wasn’t anything to brag about. Yet,
there was something about Johnny, a need that he probably wasn’t even aware
of, that struck a chord in Scott, and had from the very beginning.
could just hear his grandfather’s admonitions. He had heard them often enough
over the years; every time Peter had been kicked out of another school or had
failed at another endeavor. Was that what this was? Was he seeing Johnny as some
sort of substitute for Peter?
mentally shook his head. No, there was a strength in his brother that his friend
had never possessed. Johnny’s toughness and strong will were undeniable. The
two weren’t anything alike.
don’t give anyone too much credit.” He remembered Johnny’s words to him
that first morning. It had distressed him even then. And Scott had only been
half kidding when he’d said he might feel left out after his brother’s
“one-man deal” remark.
along the way, Johnny had limited himself to dealing with everything alone,
distancing himself from anyone who threatened to get too close. He didn’t know
what it was to trust, and was too scared to try; even to the point of taking on
the whole band of land-pirates by himself and almost getting himself killed in
where did that leave them? One man too afraid to trust, the other refusing not
to. It occurred to Scott that, in some crazy way, they fit. And he knew in that
instant that given half a chance, they could truly be brothers. He’d probably
spend the rest of his life pulling Johnny out of one scrape or another, but
Scott had a hunch he’d end up being more than happy to do it.
turned and straightened his pillows before lying back and drawing the covers up.
He knew it wouldn’t be easy. Nothing worthwhile ever was. He and his brother
had both inherited their fair share of stubbornness; and both had things in
their pasts that needed to be exorcised. He could only hope that Johnny would
stick around long enough to make it happen.
corridor was dark. Scott’s eyes strayed to the wall on his right. A stylized
“L” was branded into its surface. He blinked. Nothing like that had ever
graced the hall of Peter’s home. He continued, his steps slow and hesitant as
he approached the wooden door. His hand came up and he grazed the surface with
his fingertips. It was rough, not the smooth, elegantly tooled portal that had
hid Peter’s torment.
turned the knob and the door opened. Inside, shadows obscured the furnishings,
turning them into little more than phantoms along his path. A man sat next to
the only window. His white shirt glowed like a beacon and Scott found himself
moving forward, toward the figure that came around at his approach.
was Peter, alive and looking as he had the day they left for war. He reached out
his hand. As Scott went to grasp it, he heard a sound to his left. He looked
over. His brother stood gun in hand, the barrel pointed at Peter.
was like trying to walk through water as Scott moved toward his brother. Johnny
smiled at him and then cocked the weapon. The discharge echoed through the room
and Scott saw only a spray of red.
Scott cried out and came fully awake. He brought up his shaking hands and
pressed his palms against his eyelids, the images only slowly fading as he tried
to get his shattered emotions under control.
hadn’t known, hadn’t realized just how angry he was at Peter until now;
until he felt that momentary surge of satisfaction as he watched his friend die
again at the hands of his brother, a brother whose way of life was threatening
to take even more from Scott. No wonder he had reacted the way he had to
dropped his hands and sat up. It was bright in the room. The storm had blown
away during the night. He picked up his watch; fifteen minutes after seven. With
a curse, he jumped out of bed and threw on his clothes. A quick wash-up was all
he allowed himself before he was out the door and on his way to his brother’s
he found it empty, he hurried downstairs to the great room. It was unoccupied,
though the table still showed signs of a recent meal being served. He heard
someone in the kitchen and, glancing inside, saw Maria, Murdoch’s cook and
housekeeper, busy at the stove.
have you seen Johnny?” Scott inquired.
portly woman turned to him. “Si, Senor Scott. He was here earlier.”
where he went?”
think he was going to see to his horse.” She laughed. “He’s already given
the animal a name.”
grinned. Naming ones horse was a tradition he had never practiced. Though his
grandfather had owned several, none had ever belonged exclusively to Scott. If
you needed the use of a horse, you took whatever animal was available. And
during the War, the threat of having your horse shot out from under you kept him
from doing anything that might create an attachment to the poor beast. He would
be interested in hearing what name Johnny had picked.
thanked the woman and headed for the corral. He passed several of his father’s
hands, our hands, he corrected himself, on his way to his destination.
They were all busy and gave him only a cursory glance.
entered the barn and headed to where he knew Johnny’s horse was stalled. The
animal was gone. “Damn it!”
looked up as one of the men, Eduardo, he thought, approached him. “Johnny’s
horse, it’s gone.”
Senor. He left just minutes ago.”
you see what direction he headed in?”
toward the stream.”
than ten minutes later, Scott rode through the archway that gated the Lancer
home and started across the open grasslands.
saw the horse first. The golden palomino Johnny had claimed as his own stood
grazing along the banks of the stream. On closer inspection, Scott could just
make out his brother sitting under a tree, his back resting against its trunk.
He looked to be asleep.
slowed his horse and quietly advanced. He dismounted and tied his animal next to
Johnny’s and approached his brother.
can’t get away from you, can I?” Johnny tipped his hat back. A blade of
grass hung lazily from the side of his mouth.
sat down a good six feet away. He knew he was pushing and that was okay. But he
didn’t want to push so hard his brother would bolt. “We need to talk.”
cleared his throat. Johnny wasn’t going to make this any easier. “First of
all, I want to apologize. I had no right saying what I did to you yesterday.”
you say it then?” Johnny leaned forward and rested his arms on his updrawn
gathered his thoughts. He owed his brother the full truth. “Something happened
right before I left Boston. My friend, Peter,” he stumbled over the words,
“committed suicide three days before I was contacted by Murdoch’s agent.”
looked down as he digested the words and their was real sympathy in his
response. “I’m sorry to hear that. Good friends are hard to come by. But
what’s that got to do with me?”
the surface of things, nothing at all. I just didn’t realize how angry I was
at him. Isn’t that odd? I know he didn’t kill himself to hurt me, but I
can’t help feeling cheated. He took something from me, something very
precious. I,” Scott stammered, “I think I feel that you’re doing the same
stared at him in disbelief. “You hardly know me. How can I be taking anything
know it doesn’t make sense to you. Hell, it barely makes sense to me. But
we’re brothers. That’s got to count for something.”
can’t take his place, Boston.” His brother spoke almost gently.
know that. I don’t want you to. Whatever we build between us will be our own.
But in order to do that, you’ve got to stick around.”
looked out across the water. He didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally
he began to speak. “I’ve never had a friend like yours; never stayed in one
place long enough to make one. And trust, it doesn’t come easy for me. In my
line of work, it could get you killed. But,” his face colored slightly, “I
can’t deny that I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a
as long as I’m able.” He raised his hand when Scott began to protest.
“That’s all I can promise, Scott. I’ll do the best I can. Then, we’ll
wasn’t all Scott would have wished for, but he’d take what he could get. He
rose to his feet. “I think we’d better be getting back. You look tired and
we’ve got that ride into town tomorrow to sign the papers.”
I’ll be all right. I’ve been hurt worse than this.”
gave a mock scowl. “I don’t think I want to hear about it.”
squinted up at him. “Think you can stand being Johnny Madrid’s brother?”
think it would be an honor being Johnny Madrid’s brother, though I’d prefer
being Johnny Lancer’s. By the way, where did ‘Madrid’ come from?”
a long story.”
like to hear it someday.”
maybe, someday, I’ll tell it to you.”
smiled and helped his brother to his feet. They still had a long way to go. But
they’d taken the first steps of the journey.