Note: I don’t know where the photo came from or who posted it on Goggle but thank you, I think it fits my story.
L * A * N * C * E * R
It was the end of a long day and the Patrón of Lancer was relaxing in his leather chair and sipping his favorite Scotch. The cattle had been moved to the North pasture, three new horses were green-broke, and the army contract had been signed and posted to the fort’s commander. Now he could enjoy this evening in peace and quiet. His sons were safe at home and asleep in their own beds.
L * A * N * C * E * R
When the mantle clock chimed he cocked his head and smiled; his thoughts going to his beautiful Catherine. It had been her mother’s clock and she planned to pass it down to their children. They had been so excited about the expected baby and that their heir would be born at Lancer. Catherine had been so sure that she was carrying a son that she had insisted the only name they needed was Scott. He unconsciously rubbed his arms, in an action meant to ease the ache that he had never held his baby. At the same time his heart ached that he hadn’t been with Catherine at the end. The pain was so deep it almost choked him when he took another sip of the Scotch that burned it’s way down. A tear slid down his cheek, he never had a chance to say good bye to the love of his life.
Never had the chance to hold Scott when he was born, never saw his son grow into a man, and never got to be a father. The lost opportunities of teaching his boy to ride, fish, but most importantly to tell Scott about how much his mother loved him and her life at Lancer. That Scott turned into a remarkable man was none of his doing.
Setting the class on the table next to his chair he leaned back and closed his eyes. He wondered, how different would his life have been if Catherine had survived and Scott had grown up on Lancer.
Leaning forward and running his hands through his hair, he knew one thing for sure. Maria would never had been part of his life. There would be no betrayal, no lies, and no… Angry with himself he shook his head trying to erase the last thought. He picked up his glass and looked toward the drink’s cart then down to the empty glass. No, he needed a drink but that was no reason to have another one.
Rolling the glass in his palm, he faced the fact that without Maria there would be no Johnny, and he loved his younger son. Johnny was the son he held, the son he watched take his first step, and heard his first word. Now, in the quiet, he could almost hear the excited laughter while they rode together.
Then the laughter died, his world was destroyed for a second time; not by death but by desertion. Two sons lost to him and two sons brought up on lies.
Murdoch looked to the mantle clock again. Sunrise would be in a few hours and as he often told his boys, mornings come early here. He smiled, his boys, it felt so good knowing they were home where they belonged. Home and learning to be a family. Scott learning his father always wanted him. Johnny that he wasn’t a hated mistake.
His older son was a fine young man, well educated, army disciplined, and so like himself in many ways. He had known Scott was safe but it still didn’t make the separation bearable.
Then there was Johnny, his wild son. Always wondering where his boy was and if he was safe. When the letter from the Pinkerton Agent arrived with the devastating news about Madrid… he felt his heart break. The precious little boy had grown into a dangerous and famous gunfighter.
Bringing Scott to Lancer didn’t raise much concern. After all he was an experienced Army officer during the war and would be a definite asset in the fight with Pardee.
The unknown was Johnny. Would he come to help or would he fight against his Lancer? Did he know Pardee as a fellow gunfighter?
There had been many sleepless nights at Lancer waiting for two unknowns to come home. Did they consider it home? Did they hate him? These troubling thoughts only made healing from his wounds more unbearable.
Unexpectedly, Scott and Johnny arrived at the same time and he felt completely unprepared to face then together. The planned father-son talk, the one explaining the past, telling them what it meant to him to have them home, all those carefully chosen words now escaped him.
There was so much tension and anger in the room that his emotions took over and the words of reconciliation turned into what came across as orders. He tried to ease the situation with, ‘you have your mother’s eyes’. That failed and was made worse by his gaff to Johnny about ‘your mother’s temper’.
Scott, much to his surprise, had agreed to stay and fight. Johnny on the other hand seemed to only care about the money. Gunfighters always ride away when the job is done.
The following days were nothing less than one emotional upheaval after another, ending with Pardee’s death. As bad as it was seeing his son shot from his horse, and then Scott running into the gun fire to save his brother, he felt hope bloom in his heart.
Even with his mistaken ‘the past is in the past’ speech, his sons had stayed and fought for Lancer. Lies and half-truths were brought out into the open and trust was building between father and sons. Though not completely there yet, they were working toward becoming a family.
The clock chime pulled him from his thoughts, slowly he rose from the chair and stretched his aching back. Before heading to bed he leaned on the mantle and lightly touched the crystal face of the clock…
“Good night Catherine.”