Johnny watched Murdoch leave the guardhouse cell. As much as he knew that running was not the right thing – or the thing he wanted to do – it was difficult to sit there and wait for someone to find Evans. He paced for a while. He sat for a while. He paced again. He didn’t have a timepiece, but he knew that not much time had passed by the sunlight that shown into the cell.
He heard sounds from outside his cell. He rushed to the door when he heard Barker’s voice telling the guards to let Johnny go. He was amazed to hear Barker giving this order. He looked through the barred window to see the Deputy looking back at him and hear the sound of keys unlocking the door. With a big smile, he stepped outside the cell. The scene in the guardhouse was not what he expected. No Murdoch. No Scott. And then he watched as Barker took his place in the cell. He looked with confusion at the Deputy.
“You’re brother’s been hurt. You’d better get up to the house,” the Deputy said as he closed the cell door.
Johnny, stunned by the events, wanted to ask questions, but could only nod. The Deputy handed him his gun and gun belt and Johnny left the guardhouse and headed to the hacienda. Scott was hurt. Must be serious – Murdoch hadn’t come to the guardhouse to get him. Johnny began to run.
He took the stairs to the second floor two at a time and nearly knocked over Teresa as she walked down the hallway carrying bandages and a bowl of water. Water slopped on the floor and Teresa turned to give an angry look. “Will you please slow down,” she exclaimed.
“Sorry Teresa, I just heard that Scott was hurt,” Johnny said with concern and apology in his voice.
“Yes, he was shot in the shoulder and took a bad fall from his horse. Murdoch has sent for Sam and Scott is finally coming around,” she answered. “It’s not a serious wound, but he’s got a bullet lodged in his shoulder. We’re trying to make him comfortable until Sam arrives. “
Johnny sighed with some relief. “All the deputy said was that Scott had been shot.”
Teresa smiled. She adored her “brothers” and how they looked out for each other, and her. “Relax. Behave yourself and I’ll let you come into the room.”
Johnny smiled back. “I promise to be good,” and kissed her on the forehead.
He took the basin of water from Teresa and followed her into Scott’s room. Scott was resting on his bed, but he sure didn’t look comfortable. Murdoch was applying pressure with a towel to Scott’s shoulder. Murdoch looked back at Johnny and Teresa and smiled. His family was together. A few hours ago, it had been all in jeopardy. Barker, Frank and he had been not only searching for Evans, but also for Scott. Murdoch had struggled with Scott’s need for medical attention and the need to not let Evans escape from their grasp. His strong feeling about Evans being near was good. Evans was there. What he did not expect was, his friend Barker, not to be the person he remembered. How could he have not seen the change? Both Johnny and Scott had been in danger due to his misjudgment about his long-time friend.
Now that Johnny was out of danger, all of his focus was on Scott. He looked back to Scott and could see the pain in Scott’s eyes. “Sam is on his way, Scott. It won’t be long.”
“Hey brother, how do you keep getting yourself into these messes?” kidded Johnny as he walked to stand beside Scott’s bed.
“Funny, I’ve been asking the same question about you for the last couple of days,” Scott responded and smiled a weak, sarcastic smile. He then winced as Murdoch replaced the bloodied towel with a new clean one brought by Teresa.
“Seriously, brother, I owe you,” Johnny said has he sat down on the edge of Scott’s bed.
“Well, we will talk about that, brother. I’m planning a long recovery and expecting that you will be taking on all my work while I recuperate.”
“Yes, several weeks of bed rest, reading the latest book from back East and the company of several young ladies I met at the dance.”
“I give you a week, Boston.”
“Okay, that’s enough boys,” Sam said with a chuckle in his voice. With his medical bag in hand, Sam walked into the room. “I think there are too many people in this room. Everyone but Scott - out!”
Murdoch took his hand from the towel, got up from the bed and turned to Sam. “Good to see you, Sam. He’s got a bullet in his shoulder and he took a fall from his horse.”
“Yes, and it’s his head we worry about,” finished Johnny. “He appears to have lost it!” Johnny laughed, turned on the heel of his boot and followed Teresa and Murdoch out of the room.
Sam smiled at Scott, put his bag on the dresser next to the bed and said, “Now let’s take a look at the shoulder first.”
An hour later, the bullet had been removed from Scott’s shoulder and Johnny returned, with Sam’s approval, back to Scott’s room. He sat on the chair near Scott’s bed and watched him sleep. Thinking back on the last couple of days, he was still rather amazed how both of them had the same suspicions about Barker at the same time. Few words have had been spoken between them about Barker, outside their conversation with Murdoch, but they had both sensed the same thing. Such different backgrounds…how did they think the same? Johnny had good connections with a few others in range wars, but nothing like his relationship with this tall guy from the East. Not only had Scott and he connected on their assessment of Barker, but Scott had been harmed in his pursuit of Evans to prove Johnny’s innocence.
Scott opened his eyes. He moved slightly and the twinge he felt in his shoulder reminded him of the bullet wound he had suffered. He looked around the room and then met his brother’s eyes. “You been sitting there long,” he asked.
“A while. How are you feeling?” Johnny asked.
“Stiff. Sore. I’ll live,” Scott said. “I could use a drink.”
“I’m not surprised. I could use one, too.” Johnny got up and walked over to Scott and put his hand on Scott’s forehead. “No fever. I’ll check with Sam to see if I can get you some “medicinal brandy”. Teresa won’t like it, but Sam will probably approve,” and Johnny walked out of the room.
Scott slowly moved into a sitting position. Looking up at the ceiling his thoughts turned from his brother to his father. He remembered little since he heard a rifle shot, felt a bullet penetrate his shoulder and then the fall from his horse. His most recent memory was a brief conversation with his family and then Sam’s arrival. Laundum muddled his thinking. He needed to know what had happened. Johnny was out of his cell, but other than that, he didn’t know much. At that moment, he heard Murdoch’s footsteps. He looked to the door and smiled at Murdoch’s entrance.
“Seems like you’re feeling better – Johnny’s has talked Sam into letting you have some brandy,” Murdoch said with a smile and pulled the chair by Scott’s bed closer to his son.
“I’m stiff, sore, but alright. What I don’t know is what happened.”
Murdoch looked down at the floor. Scott sensed sadness in his father. He could see that Murdoch was struggling a bit.
“Barker isn’t the man you knew and remembered, is he?” Scott said asked softly.
Murdoch looked up to face his son. “No, Scott, he isn’t.” The subject made Murdoch nervous and he got up from the chair and began to pace and then settled on standing at the window staring out onto Lancer. He could see the guardhouse from Scott’s window.
“I still don’t want to believe it. He was a good man – and lawman. It didn’t have to end this way.” He heard Johnny’s footsteps and turned to see his son with an unopened bottle of brandy and three glasses. “Good Johnny, I can use a drink.”
“I think we all can use a drink. Have a seat, Murdoch and I’ll pour you one,” said Johnny. He put the glasses on the dresser, opened the bottle and poured a glass of brandy for each man. He handed Murdoch the first glass and then carried the other two glasses over to the other side of Scott’s bed and sat down on the edge. “Here you go, Boston” and handed Scott a glass.
It certainly wasn’t a moment for a toast, so each man quietly took a sip.
“I’m sorry sons,” Murdoch said. Both Scott and Johnny recognized the sadness in Murdoch’s voice.
“Not your fault, Murdoch,” said Scott. “People change; sometimes we don’t see it or want to believe it. We’ve all experienced it.”
“Not seeing it nearly cost me my sons,” returned Murdoch. “To have lost you because of a misjudgment on my part would be more than I could bear.”
“But it didn’t happen, Murdoch,” Johnny said with strength.
“You can’t blame yourself for Barker’s actions,” Scott added.
“Hard not to. All my life I have wanted you in my life and I nearly lost you. I didn’t want to see the change.”
“Murdoch, both Johnny and I are fine. You need to understand why he changed. Take the brandy and talk with Barker.”
“Yes, I suppose so. Hopefully, he will share with me so I have some way to help him.” Murdoch stood, picked up the bottle and headed out of Scott’s room.
Scott and Johnny slowly sipped their drinks. The old man cared – and he was hurt. Both of them were on the mend, but it was actually Murdoch’s wound they now worried about.