The Heart of Johnny Madrid
I don't own them, won't make any money off of this, and don't intend to infringe on anyone's rights. So there!
Murdoch and Scott find out about the heart of Johnny Madrid.
Scott dismounted from his horse and tried to brush the dust from his clothes before entering the house. He had ridden nearly 30 miles today. He noticed the strange wagon at the hitch rail. His curiosity won the battle with neatness, so he gave up on the dust and went inside.
"I can assure you, he is alive and well." Murdoch's voice could be heard from the great room.
"Who is alive and well?" Scott asked the natural question as he regarded the strangers standing before his father. The man, woman, and small boy looked as if they had traveled far. The man was tall and lean. The dark-haired woman looked to be a little younger than the man and carried a small boy.
Murdoch looked up and smiled. "Scott! Welcome home."
The strangers turned toward the new arrival. "I'm sorry about the misunderstanding. We'll go now." the man said.
Murdoch stopped the man with a gentle hand. "There's no hurry, Thomas."
"What misunderstanding?" Scott's agitation began to show. "What's going on?"
Murdoch stepped toward his son. "This is Thomas Carson and his lovely wife, Elena. They are friends of Johnny's."
Scott extended his hand immediately. "Nice to meet you Mr. Carson. Ma'am." He then turned to Murdoch. "Did I beat Johnny home?"
Murdoch nodded silently. "The Carson's came to pay their respects to your brother."
"Respects?" Scott was confused.
"It seems Thomas heard a few weeks ago that Johnny had been killed and he wanted to share some things with us in his honor." Murdoch smiled kindly toward the family.
Scott threw his hat on the cow hide chair. "Alright, I'm tired of asking questions. Tell me what this is all about."
Murdoch nodded toward Thomas. "Tell Scott what you told me."
"Well, Mr. Lancer, like I told your father, I heard Johnny had been killed and wanted to pay my respects is all." Thomas ducked his head, seemingly embarrassed by the whole situation.
Scott smiled. "It's Scott. Save the 'Mister' for my father. What was it you wanted to share with us."
"First, I gotta know, is Johnny gonna be home soon?" Thomas asked. "Cause I don't want him to see us here, especially now."
Murdoch gestured toward the large leather sofa. "He isn't due in until tomorrow."
Thomas nodded at his wife and son. After they were all seated, he began. "I don't know where to start. I planned so long what I was gonna say and now I'm so happy he's still alive I don't know what to do!"
"Just tell them about Johnny, honey." Elena smiled tenderly at her husband as she wrestled with the very active three year old in her lap.
Thomas cleared his throat. "Johnny and I rode together several years back. I can't tell ya how many times he saved my hide. We did some hirin' out and some drovin', whatever work we could find. Seems people always found out how handy Johnny was with that gun of his though, and we always wound up in some kind of shootin'. We'd split the money, although I think Johnny always gave me a bigger cut."
"Ya know, Johnny ain't that cold-blooded killer people say he is, don't ya?" Thomas asked. Not waiting on an answer, "He was always givin' his money away and helpin' people out of trouble. Seems he was drawn to the hard luck type. Most of the trouble we got in to was because of Johnny takin' up for some poor, mistreated soul. Dug a couple of bullets out of him because of it, too."
After a pause and a deep breath, Thomas continued. "Well, about four years ago, I met Elena, and we fell in love." Thomas could not contain his smile. "Johnny made me marry her and settle down. Said I'd never be so lucky to find someone like her ever again so I better not let her get away."
"Good advice." Scott interrupted.
"Turns out it was the best advice anybody ever gave me, Scott." Thomas tenderly touched his wife's face. "But that ain't what I came here to say."
"Go on, Thomas." Murdoch said quietly.
"Mr. Lancer, I'm sure you know how hard it is to start a new life."
Murdoch nodded thoughtfully.
Thomas got up quickly and began to pace. "Me and Elena were havin' a hard time. I was workin' on a ranch that didn't pay enough to support me, much less a wife. Then, we found out she was expectin'. We really didn't know what we were gonna do."
Thomas turned his back to the Lancer men and continued. "One day, Johnny rode up, just out of the blue. Hadn't seen him in nearly a year. I knew then that everything would be alright. Always was with Johnny around. Man, he was so happy about the baby. Couldn't get over how lucky I was."
Turning back toward his hosts, he put his hands on his hips. "You know what that rogue did? He up and gave us one thousand dollars! I never seen so much money in my life and I know he never had either. I wasn't gonna take it, but you know how hard it is to tell Johnny Madrid no? He puts that smile on you and talks real soft and sweet and there's no way to get out of it."
Murdoch laughed. "How well we know, Thomas."
"He stayed with us a few days." Thomas continued. "He seemed to be hurtin' but wouldn't tell me anything. I asked him about the money and he just told me he lucked up on it and didn't need it. Told me to go buy a home for Elena and the little one. He told me how you found him and asked him to come home." Thomas faltered before adding, "Mr. Lancer, he swallowed a whole lot of anger toward you. Hell, I hated you myself! You know how hard it is for a mixed breed to make it?"
Elena reached up and put a gentle hand on her husband's arm. Thomas ducked his head.
"This was about three years ago?" Scott asked.
"Yeah, almost exactly." Thomas answered. "I bought us a little spread and we've been settled there ever since. We named the baby 'Johnny'." Thomas smiled at his fractious son. "Acts just like him!"
Murdoch and Scott laughed. "You'll have your hands full!" Scott said.
"Look, we better get goin'. I don't want Johnny to see us here." Thomas helped his wife up from the sofa.
"Why don't you want to see Johnny?" Scott asked.
"Aw, I wanta see him. I just don't want to embarrass him. He told me to never tell anybody about that money. He's like that about everything he does." Thomas explained. "We'll come back one day and let him meet little Johnny, here." Thomas mussed the boy's hair.
"I understand." Scott nodded.
"You can tell him we were here and that we're sorry we missed him, but don't tell him what I told you." Thomas added.
Murdoch and Scott walked the family to their wagon. "Are you sure you won't stay for supper?" Murdoch asked.
Thomas shook his head. "I appreciate the invite but we got a long ride." After helping Elena and Johnny into the wagon, he added, "Johnny sure is lucky to have found a family like you."
Murdoch shook his head. "No, Thomas, I think we're the lucky ones."
"Indeed!" Scott agreed.
"Nobody deserves it any more than Johnny. You go easy on him, Mr. Lancer." Thomas smiled as he clucked the horses into an easy walk and headed home.
Murdoch watched the wagon as it passed under the arches. "You know, Scott, I will never ceased to be amazed by your brother. I always thought he blew that money. He never had anything to show for it."
Scott put an arm around his father's tall shoulders and turned him back to the house. "I believe Johnny will probably have more to show for his life than we will ever know. We are indeed the lucky ones."