It had been a long day of searching for strays. Rain had drizzled off and on all day. Scott and Johnny Lancer were about to head home. They both were tired, wet and cold. The three hands that had accompanied them had left a half hour ago herding the 20 some head of cattle they had found back towards the ranch.
Scott watched as Johnny and Barranca roped a steer and pulled her from some brambles very near a 100 foot drop sheer cliff. Both Johnny and Scott got off their horses, Scott to pull the steer’s calf from the prickly brush and Johnny to remove the rope from the steer’s horns. They watched as the two animals ran away together. Johnny dropped the lasso and took a few steps closer to the cliff to pick up his hat. As he stood up the land he was standing on fell away beginning to take Johnny with it. Scott saw what was happening out of the corner of his eye.
“Johnny!” Scott shouted in horror jumping and grabbing after his brother. They ended up with Scott lying flat on his stomach in mud grasping his brother’s wrists and Johnny hanging precariously over the edge.
Scott swallowed hard and tried to keep calm. “Can you get a foothold?” He asked his voice desperate.
Johnny tried and then shook his head. “It just breaks away.” Johnny said grimly. Scott locked eyes with his brother. He could feel himself sliding forward just a little. Suddenly Johnny began to struggle trying to pull his wrists away from Scott.
White , hot anger burned through Scott. “Stop it Johnny, stop it right now!!” he growled.
“I’m not taking you with me, Boston.” Johnny retorted.
“Well, I am not letting go!!” Scott shouted angrily. “So shut up and be still Johnny!”
Scott looked back. The lasso attached to Barranca’s saddle horn still lay in the mud but Scott wasn’t sure he could reach it.
“Johnny” Scott said his voice urgent. “Can you grab ahold of my right wrist with both hands for a bit? I am going to try for the lasso.”
Johnny nodded and took a deep breath. He let go and grabbed for Scott’s right wrist and got it. Scott nodded in relief. Slowly he reached for the lasso. He stretched as far as he could but it was out of his reach.
“Damn it” he muttered. He tried to move it forward with his foot and then reached back again. His right shoulder was stretched to the point of disconnection holding the weight of his brother. Scott’s breath came in short pants of distress. His fingers clawed in the mud and then he had it. He sighed in relief and put it under his left arm and over his head. He offered Johnny his left wrist again. Johnny grabbed it again and smiled reassuringly at Scott. He could tell his brother was frightened.
“Okay Johnny.” Scott trying to keep his voice light. “Let’s just see how smart that horse of yours is.”
“Barranca!” Johnny shouted. Barranca’s ears pricked up. “Back boy…back.”
Barranca slowly began to move back with Johnny’s commands. Scott sucked in his breath in pain as the rope tightened at his neck and shoulder but he ignored it. Finally Johnny scrambled up next to Scott and helped him remove the lasso. They both crawled away from the cliff and collapsed on their backs covered in mud panting
. “Thanks Brother.” Johnny said sincerely.
“Anytime, little brother.” Scott murmured tiredly. “Anytime.”
As if on signal lightening streaked across the sky followed by a loud boom of thunder. Then it began to pour a cold rain.
All of a sudden Johnny let out a whoop and scrambled to his feet. He gave Scott a hand up and they stood arms around each other’s shoulders, faces upward letting the pouring rain wash over them.
“Thank God for big brothers!” Johnny shouted to the sky.
“Amen to that!” Scott quipped upward.
Johnny shoved Scott and both of them laughed as they mounted up to head back to the warmth of the Lancer hacienda. Their met each other’s eyes. Suddenly it didn’t matter if they were cold, wet and tired. It was enough to be riding home together.
Deborah - 2013
My e-mail is email@example.com for any comments and such.