A pleasant surprise, indeed. My father’s ranch does not appear to be the ungodly abode Grandfather led me to anticipate. Primitive, to be sure, but it looks as though he’s done well for himself under what can at best be called inhospitable conditions.
Of course, it all pales in comparison with the far less pleasant surprise my dear father had in store for me in town. A brother. A cowboy, no less, complete with gun and spurs and the aroma of a man who’s never touched cologne. Or for that matter, soap. Sporting an astoundingly garish outfit. This will make quite the story for my friends back home. Or quite the joke if it gets in the wrong hands.
At least he knows his place. He hung back at the door, let me take the lead. I’ll do the talking, make sure my father—our father—understands he’s not dealing with any groveling pushover lured here by his bribe. How offensive. And a pittance, to boot.
As if I need anything from him.
Murdoch Lancer. So we finally meet. Big man, to be sure, but I know your type already. You need your big Lancer ranch, your big Lancer brand, your big Lancer L over that arch. Need to have everything with your name on it.
That’s what I want to know. Your name’s on me. Why didn’t you need this Lancer?
Look at this fucking place. All that land, and now this—like a goddamn palace. Mama coulda lived here, shoulda, been like a queen, but guess she wasn’t good enough. Big place like this, she could have stayed in some other part if he couldn’t stand the sight of her—of me.
And here’s the old bastard himself, Mr. Murdoch fucking Lancer. Dios, no wonder Mama was so scared of him—he’s a goddamn fucking giant. I know I oughta shoot him for her, right now, screw the money. Only, why’s he want to pay all that just to see me? Thousand bucks. She’d understand, just take his money, finally get something from the son of a bitch. It’s not like I’m here to play long lost son, beg him to take me back, nothing like that. He ain’t gonna do that nohow, so don’t even go foolin’ yourself for a second. Gotta have some other reason to want to see me after all this time.
Wonder if he’s paying Mr. Fancy Pants here, too. Dios, I finally got a brother and this is what I get? Shit, I’ll be a laughingstock if this ever gets out. Looks like the old man didn’t bother to raise him up, either. Wonder what was wrong with his mama. Wonder how many more gonna be showin’ up.
Murdoch Lancer. My fucking father. Finally face to face.
Goddamn it! Why didn’t you want me?
Two of them? Johnny? How the hell did that happen? Now that I think of it, those were my exact words the first time he made an unexpected appearance, when Maria told me she was expecting.
I must have been insane. But I need them. Johnny—well, he’ll come in handy with Pardee, I don’t know about afterward. Scott—well, he’ll come in handy afterward, I don’t know about with Pardee. Oh hell, who am I kidding? That’s not why I brought them here, not for Pardee, not for the ranch. For me.
My sons, here after all these years. Have they ever wondered about me, questioned why they didn’t grow up here? Have any idea how much I wanted them, needed them all those years?
No, look at them, they’re grown men. They don’t need my explanations, no sentimental spiel about the past. Don’t want a father. Don’t need me. They’re beyond that.