It was a typical Saturday evening in Morro Coyo. The sun was close to setting and the bar was already full of Lancer men. Scott Lancer stood at the bar nursing a beer. He’d been in town anyway and had accepted their invitation to come in for a drink. He stood at the bar conversing with Walt, one of their hands. Johnny was missing from the normal Saturday night group having been sick with a stubborn head cold for several days.
“Lancer!” an unrecognizable voice called from behind him. Scott frowned and slowly turned around leaning on the bar.
“Can I help you?” Scott asked in a cool voice. Of course it was a big man as tall as Murdoch but much more muscular and younger. He wore his gun a bit low and tied to his leg. Scott noticed that the man’s holster was partially cut away and so he was probably a gunfighter. All things schooled to him in the past by his brother Johnny.
“My name is Matt Gallager. I’m calling you out. I’m here to take your life just like your good for nothing brother Johnny Madrid took my brother Buck’s life. Madrid is going to feel the same pain he caused me.”
“Well Sir that might be true if my brother and I gave a damn about each other. As it is killing me will just give him 50% of a ranch.” Scott’s distain was perfect and had the ranch hands not known better they would have believed him. Scott turned back to the bar and took another pull on his beer.
Gallager sneered. “Nice try Lancer but I’ve been in town a few days. The townspeople tell it otherwise. They say you two are real close. Now outside and face my gun!”
Scott didn’t turn. “And if I don’t?”
“Then I shoot you in the back and take out a few of your friends here too.”
Scott laughed, drained his beer and turned around. He smiled grimly and stared at Gallager. “Well I’m no gunfighter friend. But since you have a death wish my only choice is to face your gun.”
Gallager smiled back evilly. “You think you gotta chance to beat me, friend?”
“No not at all. Either way you’ll probably kill me but you’ll be killing yourself with the same bullet. Being close to my brother as I am, I know him pretty well and I know he’ll stop at nothing to kill you.” Scott’s voice tone made his certainness of what would happen absolute. He walked out of the bar waving at Gallager to follow him. Gallager did and so did all the Lancer hands but instead of moving to the side to watch six of the hands stood in front of Scott and the others encircled him. Cipriano came to stand beside Scott.
“Cip what’s going on?” Scott asked in surprise. “I can take care of myself!”
“Si Jefe, I know you can.”
“You Senor Gallager you will leave and never return!” Cipriano shouted. “Senors Scott and Johnny are the sons of our Patron. The Patron gives us work, wages and houses so that we may live in honor. Lancer Rancho is our home. In return we are loyal to the Patron and his heirs. You will go now or we will open fire and the law will never know whose bullet has killed you!”
Gallager strangely didn’t say a word. He just went to his horse, mounted and rode out.
Cipriano looked at Scott. “Senor Scott, I am sorry we interfered but we could not take the chance that man might kill you. Our Patron has become a happy man since his hijos have come. Without you your father and hermano would have been mucho sad and your hermano might have risked his life to avenge you. You all are much loved and we are loyal to you all. Do you understand Jefe?”
Scott nodded. Solemnly he went to each of the men and shook their hands and thanked them. He went into the saloon, ordered a round for everyone and had a few more drinks. When he rode home Cipriano and a few of the older men accompanied him. The hacienda was dark and Scott wearily went to his own room and climbed into bed.
The next morning came bright and clear. It was Sunday so breakfast was served at 9:00. Scott could already smell the appetizing aromas as he shaved and dressed. He came downstairs to find Murdoch and Johnny at the table in the Great Room drinking coffee. He sat down at his place and Maria came and poured him coffee. “Gracias Maria.”
To his surprise she placed her hand on his head. “Gracias al Señor, nuestro Dios, que nuestro hijo está a salvo.” She murmured and went back into the kitchen.
Scott raised his eyebrows in question to his brother. “Thank the Lord our God that our son is safe.” Johnny translated.
“Ah, I take it everyone knows about last night.”
“Are you alright son?”
Scott looked up at the tenderness in Murdoch’s voice. “I’m fine Sir thanks to our men.”
“Damn that bastard! I should hunt him down and kill him!
Scott put his hand on Johnny’s arm. “No Johnny. I learned something last night and this morning. A lot of people around this ranch really care about us. To honor that I think we need to be a little more careful and learn to let things go.”
Johnny bowed his head. Thanks to them his brother was here with him. “I guess we’re pretty lucky huh.”
Scott nodded. “We most definitely are brother.”
Murdoch looked on with satisfaction as both boys broke into smiles that lit up their faces. Somehow his sons were here with him and he had earned the loyalty of the people who worked for him. He could not help but feel grateful.