Never had he seen such an expression on Johnny’s face. Reflecting mixed emotions, disbelief, confusion, and suspicion that their father was teasing. There was that and the open mouth. That was the funniest part. His little brother, big bad Johnny Madrid, the feared gunfighter, looked like a little boy as their father, Murdoch Lancer explained to his younger son about the Easter Bunny.
“Ol’ Man, you expect me to believe that there’s a giant hare runnin’ ‘round, wearin’ clothes, and leavin’ baskets of eggs and candy for all the good kids?”
“He’s the Easter Bunny, Johnny. It’s magic.”
Johnny looked over at his big brother, that expression still on his face, looking, he knew for confirmation that their father was pulling their leg. He nodded his best ‘he’s right’ nod, leaving his brother to give him an incredulous stare before he pushed back his chair and took a last swig of coffee.
“Where ya goin’ Johnny?” Scott asked.
“Out for a ride, before I turn loco like you all. Don’t worry, I’ll be back for the Easter Sunday feast or whatever it is Teresa’s got planned. Goin’ ta church before dawn, giant hares and eggs, I think you’re all crazy.”
Johnny placed his hat on his head, checked the tightness of his gun belt, and left out the front door, spurs singing steadily.
Scott started snickering before his younger brother was hardly out the door. It caused Murdoch to release a hearty laugh.
“You gotta hand it to him. He’s a secretive one. I bet he doesn’t say one word about finding that Easter basket in his room.” Murdoch grinned.
“I think you’re right, sir. If you could have seen the wild look on his face when he came flying through my door this morning. He was trying to hide it, but he was looking to see if there was one in my room. I almost cut myself with the razor.”
“Did he say anything?”
“I asked him what he was looking for. He asked me if I found anything in my room this morning. It was all I could do not to laugh. I told him ‘no’ and then asked him if the Easter Bunny had left something in his room. If you could have seen his face, it was ALL Johnny Lancer. He looked a little alarmed, but he hid it well. He told me that he thought he’d left a shirt in my room.”
Murdoch’s deep laughter filled the room. “I think putting the tag with the name Johnny Madrid on it was the right move. That way, there’s no denying who it was intended for.”
They each howled with laughter as the thought of Johnny seeing that name on the basket, reassuring him that it was not a mistaken intent.
While they were sharing the mutual bond of playing a prank on Johnny, each also harbored mutual thoughts of how much they had missed by Scott and Johnny not having spent their childhood years with their father.
Of course, they wouldn’t be able to share this moment if they had, and it was one they would never forget. The day the Easter Bunny left Johnny Madrid an Easter Basket.
Hope everyone gets some chocolate!
d. b. brisbin-March 2010