Did Murdoch Listen?
by  EJ

(Sequel to Jelly’s Talk)

Murdoch downed his drink as he watched Jelly leave the great room.   He was angry that the older man had dared tell him how to treat Johnny.  He loved his son but he expected him to obey orders and behave as expected of the son of the patron.

Murdoch poured another drink and moved to the sofa to be warmed by the fire.  He needed to think.

The great room was quiet except for the crackling of the fire, he watched the flames and took another sip of his drink.  He leaned back into the softness of the sofa and let the calmness of the night take over his emotions. 

Was Jelly right, did he treat Johnny differently than Scott?  He didn’t think so but maybe he did and just didn’t realize it.  Jelly and Cip seemed to think a lot of Johnny.  Sam had told him numerous times to give Johnny a chance to adapt to his new life.  Maybe he wasn’t being fair to his younger son.

As he gazed into the fire he thought about how his sons were so different from each other.  Scott was educated and disciplined, he didn’t argue, and was accepted by the other ranchers.  Johnny on the other hand was uneducated, lacked discipline, and argued constantly.   Some of the other ranchers had voiced their concerns about Madrid being at Lancer.   

Murdoch knew Johnny wasn’t stupid but admitted he was surprised when Johnny correctly added a column of numbers in his head.  He worked hard, Cip even commented that Johnny worked harder than two men.  When he worked the horses he amazed everyone who watched him.

Was it Madrid that bothered him?  He had to admit having a gunfighter, a famous gunfighter at that, for a son was not easy to accept.  But Scott and Jelly accepted Johnny and Cip and the ranch hands accepted Johnny.  Sam was always telling Murdoch that Johnny was a good man, a son to be proud of.  Was he letting a few ranchers and their petty fears affect his relationship with Johnny?

Murdoch took another sip of his drink.  Since when did he care what others thought, he made Lancer what it was by his own will.  Lancer takes care of it’s own.

No, he decided, he was not going to lose his younger son again.  He would accept Johnny as he was, his son was Lancer and Madrid.  Jelly was right, the gunfighter kept Johnny alive when he couldn’t.  Johnny was an honorable man and Murdoch knew it wasn’t thanks to anything he had done.  He would stop blaming Johnny for his own failures.

He loved both his sons and it was time he let both of them know it.  He was sure Scott knew but he was also sure Johnny didn’t.  Did he make Johnny feel like he wasn’t wanted at Lancer?  Well that was going to change, no more yelling, he was going to talk. 

The grandfather clock chimed the midnight hour.  Murdoch placed the empty glass on the table.  He wished he could talk to Johnny now but it was late and he was sure Johnny would be asleep by now.

Murdoch climbed the stairs and headed for his bedroom when he noticed the light under Johnny’s door.  He wasn’t going to let the moment pass.

He knocked on the door and waited.

Johnny heard his father walking in the hallway and was surprised at the knock at his door.  He really didn’t want to continue the fight with his father.

“Come in.”  Johnny answered, he was still dressed, sitting on his bed leaning against the headboard.  He was exhausted but couldn’t sleep after the latest fight with Murdoch.

Murdoch slowly opened the door and looked at Johnny, “We need to talk, son.  Not yell, talk.”  Murdoch said hopefully.

“Okay.”  Johnny answered hopefully.

EJ 2011





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