This takes place shortly after Johnny recovered from the fight with Pardee, and Johnny and Scott finally get a day off for some brother bonding.
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Scott rode beside Johnny as they headed for Morro Coyo, he remembered the last time he visited the small town and hoped it would be better this time.
He peeked at his brother, but Johnny didn’t seem in the mood to talk. The younger man seemed lost in thought. Choosing not to be put off by Johnny’s silence Scott cleared his throat. “How does it feel to be released from the ranch?”
“Huh?” Johnny shook his head and looked toward Scott. Damn, better start paying attention instead of daydreaming. He too was thinking about the last time he was in Morro Coyo and the fight with Scott and Pardee’s men.
“I asked how it feels to be away from the ranch since you have been cooped up for so long.” Scott grinned at the expression on Johnny’s face.
“Oh yeah, well it’s okay.” Johnny pushed his hat off his head to hang by the strings. “Glad we don’t have the Ol’ Man and Teresa trailing along ‘cause I plan on a good meal and some tequila at this little cantina I found on my first trip here.”
“Ah Johnny, about this meal, am I going to have a hole in my stomach from the spices?” Scott was having second thoughts about agreeing to a meal at a cantina.
“Hell yes, Maria makes it too mild for me. Guess it comes from cooking for those gringo stomachs for so long.” Maybe he should’t have said that, Scott’s face just lost what little color he had gained from working outside.
Scott was worried, if what he had experienced so far was mild then he was in real trouble. “In that case maybe…”
“Nah, they have milk to help ya put out the fire. Don’t worry I’ll order ya something mild.” Johnny chuckled but had a feeling this maybe the one and only time he got Scott to go with him to Lupe’s.
They fell into another companionable silence until finally they arrived at a brightly colored building on the edge of Morro Coyo. The sign, as colorful as the building, indicated Lupe’s Cantina. Johnny pulled up next to the hitch rail and dismounted. “Come on Scott, trust me you’ll like it.” Johnny patted Barranca’s neck and headed into the cantina. Wonder if crossed fingers really work?
Scott wasn’t too sure about the truth of that statement but decided it was worth an upset stomach to get to know his little brother. He tied Ulysses to the rail and followed Johnny into the cantina. Scott was surprised how cool the building was compared to the oppressive heat outside.
As usual Johnny headed to the back corner and took the seat with his back to the wall. Scott smiled and tipped his hat at the older woman near the bar and followed Johnny taking the seat opposite his brother.
“Quaint.” Scott nodded toward the room and placed his hat in an empty chair.
“Yeah, if you say so.” Johnny motioned to the woman who hurried over to take his order.
“Si Senor Madrid.” She smiled and gave a slight bow and placed two glasses on the table.
Scott guessed she could be in her late fifties and obviously based on her size must be a very good cook. She didn’t appear frightened as Scott expected when she addressed him as Madrid but instead he was certain her voice sounded like a proud, doting aunt.
Johnny flashed his ‘charming little boy’ smile and ordered their meal. She smiled back then smiled and winked at Scott. Yes, he thought, she’s charmed. Since Johnny spoke to her in Spanish, Scott had no idea what he would be served. This fact was not at all comforting.
“Her name is Lupe and she owns this place. She’s a real nice lady and a real good cook too.” Johnny chuckled while watching Scott’s expression.
“What did you order for me?” Scott was thinking, I need to learn Spanish, and quickly. He was feeling far to vulnerable at the mercy of his devious brother.
“Let it be a surprise. I swear Boston it won’t burn ya too much and I asked her to bring plenty of milk.”
The smirk on Johnny face added to Scott’s concern for the well-being of his stomach. Yep Johnny Madrid was one devious man.
“How about teaching me some Spanish, Johnny? It would make it easier working with the vaqueros.” Scott could tell Johnny didn’t believe him but it was worth a try.
Johnny grinned, “Sure Boston, so you can work with the vaqueros.”
Before Scott could respond Lupe arrived with their meal, a jug of milk, a tall glass, and a bottle of tequila. “Enjoy.” She patted Scott’s shoulder as she poured milk into the glass.
Scott could’t help but wonder if the pat was for good luck or it’s been nice meeting you. Johnny just sat there with a silly grin on his face. No definitely devious, Scott thought.
“Come on Boston, it won’t kill ya.” Johnny grabbed a tamale and took a big bite savoring the spices.
“Okay.” Scott wasn’t sure about that, but bit into what he recognized as a tamale. Suddenly Scott felt like he had put fire in his mouth. He grabbed for the tall glass of milk and washed it down, realizing too late that now his stomach was on fire.
Lupe rushed over and rubbed circles on Scott’s back and helped him take another drink of milk. “Lo siento Senor, pro favor, drink.”
Scott, his eyes watering, choked out, “Thank you.”
Lupe looked to Johnny and they both shrugged their shoulders, but Johnny did look concerned. So she left them to get more milk.
“Hey Boston, ya gonna make it?” He was amazed how red his brother’s face got after only one bite. “Guess Lupe’s mild ain’t mild enough. Lo se, Boston.”
Johnny really wasn’t trying to hurt Scott and he really had asked Lupe to make it mild. Guess he was gonna have to talk to Lupe about starting Scott off easy. Really he only wanted to share with his big brother. He peeked over to Scott to see how mad he was and if he had just ended any future trips to the cantina with his brother.
“Don’t worry Johnny, I know you didn’t do this on purpose. It’s going to take time to get used to the spicier foods.” Scott didn’t want to hurt Johnny’s feelings, he could see the concern on Johnny’s face and knew he had not been set-up. Then he laughed, “Guess Maria’s food isn’t so spicy after all.”
Lupe watched the two men from the kitchen, she had heard that Johnny Madrid was the missing son of Murdoch Lancer and that the Patron’s two sons were home. She was glad to see the young gunfighter had a chance for a new life and a hermano to share that new life.
The cantina filled with laughter as the men teased, ate, drank, and began forming the bonds that would make them brothers.