“Oh come on Val, just try it.” Johnny groused.
“Nope. I won’t like it.”
“How do you know you won’t like it until you’ve tried it?” Johnny retorted.
“Just know, that’s all.”
“Val, you know a person can’t determines his likes or dislikes until the person experiences . . .”
“Shut up Scott.” Val grumbled. “All your fancy talk ain’t gonna do you no good so you might as well save your breath.”
Scott exchanged a look with his little brother. They had been standing there in the hot sun for some time in an attempt to get Val to just make one small concession. Scott, always a patient man, was willing to stand there and attempt to persuade Sheriff Crawford for as long as it took but Johnny – well Johnny didn’t know the word patient. He had walked away a couple times already griping loudly in Spanish and waving his arms around. Scott had to do some fast talking of his own – in English – to get his brother to come back after his last tirade. He finally agreed, mumbling under his breath as he walked.“Nunca vi a un hombre tan terco en toda mi vida. No lo intentes! Maldito tonto, no sabe lo que se está perdiendo.” (I never saw such a stubborn man in all my born days. Won't even try! Darn fool, he doesn't know what he's missing.)
“I know what you said Mr. John Elias Lancer.” Val taunted sarcastically.
Johnny gave his old friend the ‘Madrid’ look but it seemed to have no effect. Val just leaned back against the stucco wall, crossed his boots at the ankle and crossed his arms over his chest, turning his head to look out toward the pasture.
“Come on Scott. Obviously Sheriff Crawford is to chicken to play this game. Let’s leave him here and go do something else.” Scott shrugged his shoulders and followed his little brother toward the house.
“No one calls me chicken and gets away with it. Get back here.” Their backs to Val, the boys exchanged grins and a wink. Turning around they walked back to where their friend stood. Johnny had his hands on his hips and Scott had his arms crossed over his chest. Johnny squinted as he looked Val directly in the eye. “I’ll try . . . once . . . but I want you to swear that if I mess up you won’t laugh and you’ll never speak of this here ‘incident’ again.” Each of the Lancer boys crossed their hearts and then all extended their right arm to place their hand over the right hand of another. Val turned his head and spit into Maria’s flowerpot.
The men all resumed their positions. “Val, ain’t you gonna take off your gun belt and your hat?” Johnny asked.
“Nope. What you see is what you get and if that ain’t good enough I’ll just turn around and go right back to Green River. At least folks there respect me and don’t make me do nothin’ I don’t want to.”
Johnny exchanged a look with Scott, who was fighting hard to suppress his laughter. Val yanked up his pants, tighten his gun belt a notch and pulled his hat down more firmly over his forehead.
“You ready now?” Groused Johnny.
“Course I’m ready. It’s me who’s waitin’ on you two. If we’re
gonna to do this, let’s get the show on the road.”
The boys carefully synchronized their movements but kept their eyes on their friend as he spit in his hands and then rubbed them together. He began to bob his head and suddenly leapt in between them.
“V my name is Val, my sweetie’s name is Viv, we come from Virginnie and brung ya’ll some venison.” Skittering out from between the brothers, Val turned, pulled off his hat and – swinging it in front of himself – bowed deeply at the waist. Standing up and replacing his hat he turned his head toward Johnny. Closing his eyes he stuck out his tongue. “Well Mr. Smarty-pants, you happy now?”
Johnny smiled as a chuckle escaped his mouth. “Yah Val, I’m happy now. You were pretty good, even with that heavy gun belt on. Come on, let’s go play somethin’ else. I’m tired of jump rope.