It Started Out a Good Idea
by  EJ

Lancer: February Holidays and Observances

*****Library Lovers Month*****


February 2014


Johnny’s morning had been busy checking the fence line but at least he hadn’t found any breaks.  He was relieved he would be able to sit down for a lunch of Maria’s tortillas instead of on the ground eating a sandwich.  Poor ol’ Boston was stuck at the hacienda doing book work, Johnny hated being stuck indoors so he felt he came out better on the deal.  

After he took care of Barranca he headed for the hacienda.  Maybe talk Murdoch into giving Boston a break from the books. 


When Johnny entered the great room he noticed Scott and Murdoch going over some papers spread out on the desk.  “What y’all doing?” Johnny asked as he moved to peek over Scott’s shoulder.

“Well, little brother,” Scott stood up.  “February is Library Month so Murdoch and I decided it was time to expand your knowledge base.”  He raised his hand to stop Johnny’s comment.  “We...” Scott pointed to himself and then Murdoch. “We have selected a list of books for you to read this month.”  Scott nodded toward Murdoch.

“So son, after supper every night this month you will read.  You can read aloud to us or to yourself, but you will read.”  Murdoch stated firmly then stood and walked over to Johnny and patted his son’s shoulder, “And you will be questioned on the content.”

“What?”  Johnny was shocked but it quickly turned to anger, “What do you mean?”  He frowned at Murdoch and then Scott.  Johnny was feeling picked on and he didn’t like it, not one bit.

“It means son, we expect you to read all the books on this list.” Johnny turned back to his father. Murdoch held up the aforementioned list. “We will be asking you questions about what you read…”

Scott interrupted, “The questions are just to see if you…”  Scott fumbled for words.

Johnny scowled and wrapped his arms around his chest and lowered his voice, “I know y’all think I’m stupid ‘cause I don’t have much schooling, but I can read.”  

He turned to leave but Murdoch grabbed his arm. 

Johnny spun around his hand going to his hip, “Let go ol’ man.” 

Murdoch recognized Madrid and released his son’s arm, “I’m sorry Johnny, we don’t think you are stupid but some of the books we selected, I mean the language may be unfamiliar to you...we…” He belatedly realized he had inadvertently hurt his younger son, again.  Frustrated he dropped the list to the desk.

Scott took over hoping to defuse the situation, “Johnny, some of the books are written in a classical style and since we want you to enjoy reading…” Scott hesitated, “If you have any questions we are here to help you.”  Scott saw the hurt in Johnny’s eyes.

“Thank you Scott,” Murdoch nodded to his older son.  Embarrassed he faced his younger son, “I’m sorry Johnny, I didn’t mean for it to seem like we would be questioning you to make sure you read the books.  Like Scott said we want you to enjoy reading and we tried to select books we thought would appeal to you.”

What had started out as a plan to share a love of reading and encouraging Johnny to use the library had turned into a disaster. Murdoch and Scott watched  and waited.  They hoped that their explanation had made up for hurting someone they both dearly loved.  


The great room fell into an uneasy silence.  Johnny had returned to his arms around the chest and head bowed position.  Murdoch and Scott hated that pose and knew they were the reason Johnny was pulling into himself.  They stood quietly side by side and continued waiting, not sure for what but they wouldn’t rush him.   

Finally, Johnny took a deep breath.  He couldn’t blame them for wanting him to be book learned so they didn’t have to explain things to him all the time.  He knew he must be an embarrassment to them and he was sorry he overreacted. 

“Yeah, I’m sorry too.” Johnny kept his head bowed.  “Look, I wish I could be more like Scott, wish I was educated so I’d like reading like you two.”  Johnny raised his head and looked at Murdoch. “Sorry you have to be ashamed of me.”

Murdoch gasped then went to his son and pulled him into a hug, “I am not ashamed of you, I’d never be ashamed of you.  I just want to share something with my younger son.”  He pushed Johnny to arm’s length, “Don’t ever believe I think less of you than I do of Scott.  I love you both.” Johnny lowered his arms and looked into his father’s eyes.

Scott, came out of his shock of Johnny’s confession, moved next to Murdoch and pulled his brother into a hug, “We only wanted to share something other than ranch interests.  Please believe us Johnny.” 

Throughly embarrassed by all the hugging going on, Johnny pulled back, “Okay, y’all can quit the hugging shit, I’ll read the damn books.”  He grinned when he heard Murdoch clear his throat at the cussing.  “Hell,” he aimed his grin at Murdoch, “maybe I’ll learn some cuss words you like in them books.”

Murdoch let the laugh out and shook his head, “I’m sure you will son.”  

“Should you need help finding them I am here to offer my services.”  Scott used his best big brother voice.

Murdoch sighed, “I hope I won’t be sorry about this.”  He went to his desk and picked up the list.  “Here son, I hope you like our choices, if not we can offer some other suggestions.”

Johnny looked at the list and shrugged his shoulders, “Never heard of any of these.”

Scott took the list and pointed to the top entry, “I would suggest starting with the Leatherstocking stories.”

A relieved Murdoch watched his boys go to the bookcase, he went to the drink cart and poured a scotch.  He took a sip, moved to his leather chair, and waited to see which book would be chosen.  

Scott retrieved The Deerslayer and turned to face Johnny, “I prefer chronological order by Natty’s age.”

“Not even gonna ask Boston, just give me the book.”


The End


Here is the list Murdoch and Scott picked for Johnny:  

Leatherstocking Tales: by James Fenimore Cooper (Chronological by Natty Bumppo’s age-youngest to oldest)

            The Deerslayer

            The Pathfinder

            The Prairie

            The Last of the Mohicans

            The Pioneers 

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift-Johnny will like the horses

Les Miserable by Victor Hugo

Murdoch wanted to add Shakespeare but Scott convinced him to wait, Johnny needed to work up to play form.





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