(A Scott Story for the Scott Girls but with a little Johnny)
It was the second day of making repairs to the North pasture line shack and stable, and the brothers were exhausted. Relieved the stable roof was now repaired, they looked forward to a quiet last night in the shack. With only a few minor repairs in the morning, they would soon be heading home to their soft beds. That relief was short lived, however, when a rumbling sound came from the mountains. When they turned to the West they saw the dark clouds of a storm moving in.
“Looks like rain big brother.”
Scott nodded to Johnny, “Guess we better put the tools away before we get wet.”
“Yep,” Johnny tossed his hammer into the tool box.
They ran for the shack just as the first raindrops fell. At least they had made it to cover on the porch without getting soaked. “Whew, that was close.” Johnny took his hat off and slapped it against his leg, then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin. “Toss for who cooks.”
Scott shook his head, “Only if we use my coin.” He pulled a silver dollar from his pocket.
“Don’t ya trust me?” Johnny tried to look hurt by the remark.
Scott chuckled. “I trust you, just not when it comes to a coin toss.” He smacked his brother’s shoulder, “However I will cook tonight, I don’t think my stomach can take another of your Mexican meals.” Scott dodged Johnny hat as he ran into the shack.
L * A * N * C * E * R
By the time they finished supper and cleaned up the dishes, the gentle rain had turned into a storm.
Johnny added more wood to the fire. “Sure is getting cold in here,” he rubbed his hands together then held them out toward the flames.
“I suggest we turn in, I for one am…” after a jaw cracking yawn. “Exhausted.”
“Sounds good to me, try not to snore, Boston.” Johnny hopped in the bed closest to the fireplace.
Scott shook his head, “I don’t snore.” He enjoyed his little brother’s teasing.
L * A * N * C * E * R
As the storm raged outside, inside Scott tossed and turned on his bunk lost in his dreams. He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked into two blue eyes. He relaxed when he realized it was his brother’s hand on his shoulder.
“You okay, Scott?” Johnny leaned back as Scott rose to a sitting position.
“Yes, just dreaming.” Scott leaned against the wall.
“Didn’t sound like just dreaming to me.” Johnny moved to sit on the cot next to his brother.
They sat quietly for a few minutes. Finally Johnny couldn’t stand it and nudged Scott’s shoulder. “Hey, I’ll listen.”
Another few minutes passed when Scott sighed. He was always telling Johnny the same thing ‘I’ll listen’. He looked at his brother’s face and knew it was time he shared.
“I was dreaming about the time before I came to Lancer.” Scott pulled the blanket over both of them after he felt Johnny shiver. “I guess the unsettling weather brought on unsettling dreams.”
Enjoying the warmth, Johnny leaned into his brother’s shoulder, and in return Scott leaned back accepting the silent support.
“I guess I should start at the beginning.”
“I always wondered way my father didn’t want me, never a letter, and never an acknowledgement of a birthday or holiday. I thought he blamed me for my mother’s death so having me around would have been a painful memory.” Scott stared into the fireplace, somehow the dying embers seemed to fit his mood.
“I wrote to him several times asking permission to visit him, but he never answered.” Scott turned to face Johnny. “Guess I know the truth about that now.”
Johnny nodded but remained silent.
Scott turned back at the fireplace.
“When I started Harvard I felt free. I loved my grandfather but being out of his house and able to do as I wanted…” Scott sighed. “Without his overseeing and trying to control everything, well, it felt wonderful.” He smiled for a second then was serious again. “Some of my oldest friends decided to enlist and go to war.”
“Grandfather was angry when he found out I had enlisted and tried to stop me, but when that failed he tried to make sure I wouldn’t be near the battlefield.” Scott smirked, “That didn’t work either. I told the commander that I wanted no special favors and wanted to fight. However, grandfather did succeed in one thing, I was made an officer.”
When Scott looked back at Johnny he nodded but didn’t say anything.
“You already know I was captured and in a prison camp.”
Johnny nodded again.
“Well, it was really bad. The South was starving and feeding prisoners was not as important as feeding their own soldiers, but still… Anyway, it was really a horrible place and many men died that should have lived.”
“Scott, what’s really bothering you? I don’t think it’s just the storm reminding ya of the war.”
“You are far too observant little brother.” Scott reached out and tousled Johnny’s hair.
“Alright, something has been bothering me.” Scott wasn’t sure how he wanted to proceed.
“I’m waitin’ Boston.” Johnny’s smile was all the reassurance Scott needed.
“I know Murdoch thought I was safe in Boston, and I was safe and well cared for… but I felt like a possession instead of a grandson. It was required of me to always be on my best behavior and perish the thought that I should act like a little boy…” Scott frowned, “That was forbidden in the Garrett household. My parties were always social obligations. And Christmas, I wasn’t even allowed to be a part of decorating for the holiday. Grandfather always said, ‘that was the servants duties’. When I was a little older I snuck out of my room and sat on the stairs so I could watch them decorate the library.” Scott hesitated and after a long sigh continued. “Grandfather came home early from one of his parties and caught me out of bed… He grabbed my arm and dragged me to my room where he proceeded to lecture me about acting like a proper young man and knowing my duties as a Garrett. Then as punishment, I was not allowed into the library until Christmas morning.”
The brothers sat in silence for several minutes.
“I’m sorry Scott.”
“Me too, but this last Christmas was the best I ever had. Decorating the tree, doing my own shopping for the gifts, and best of all sharing it with my true family. I had never been so happy as I was that morning.”
“Yep, that was something special.” Johnny smiled at the shared memory. “How about some coffee?” Johnny was getting a little choked up himself.
“That would be good, do you want my help?”
“Nope, I got it.”
Johnny slid out from the blanket, went to the stove, and started making the coffee and while waiting added some more wood to the dying fire. “That should start warming the place up.”
When the brew was ready he poured two cups and joined his brother back under the blanket.
“Thanks, Johnny.” Scott inhaled the steam coming off the coffee and carefully took a sip. After a few minutes he felt he was ready to continue.
“After the war I went back to Harvard and finished my studies; should have taken Spanish instead of French.” He grinned at his brother who grinned back.
“When the Pinkerton agent found me I had just escaped from a ladies’ boudoir. Not one of my more noble moments, but at that time noble was not my intention.” This time Scott’s smile was real.
Johnny chuckled and sipped his coffee.
“I was not impressed when he told me Murdoch wanted to see me and had offered a thousand dollars… Why did the man want me now and why the money… I certainly didn’t need it.”
Scott took another sip of his coffee then chuckled as he thought about the next memory he was going to tell his brother.
“Then I find myself in an overcrowded stagecoach, riding down a dusty road, and what should happen?” He put on a surprised look. “A hooligan runs into the road and stops the coach. Well, imagine my shock when I saw him. There he stood covered in dirt and dust, wearing a bright shirt, silver buttons on his pant legs, and a gun on his hip.” Scott gave his brother a fake sneer.
Johnny grinned and shrugged his shoulders. “I ain’t no hooligan, and besides I’m Mexican and it’s the Mexican style.”
Scott smiled, “You’re only half Mexican, anyway, the next thing I know this ‘hooligan’ is climbing into the stage and promptly drops into my lap.” This time Scott and Johnny both laughed.
“You almost crushed my hat.” Scott gave Johnny an affronted glare.
“That was the silliest hat I ever saw.” Johnny teased back.
“It definitely wasn’t the Western style.”
“I told ya so, but you’re getting better Boston. Course ya could still use some more color in your clothes.”
Scott reached over to playfully snacked the back of Johnny’s head. “I do have that green shirt.”
“Okay, I’ll give ya that one.”
“Thanks. I couldn’t believe it when Teresa informed us that Murdoch had two… wives and two sons.” Scott laughed again. “You, little brother, came as a complete surprise. But one of which I am eternally grateful.” Scott toasted Johnny with his coffee cup.
“Surprised me too; I have a brother?” Johnny shook his head then faked a disappointed expression. “Dios, he’s a gringo, blond, dandy who wears plaid.” Johnny shuddered, “Damn, I have a reputation to protect.”
The both sat quietly for a few moments enjoying their coffee and the warmth of the fire.
“Johnny, are you sorry you stayed?” Scott turned to his brother.
“Not anymore. Are you?”
“No, not at all.” Scott hesitated, “Murdoch and I have been talking.”
“He told me about the letters and gifts he had sent me over the years. He even gave me a present that he had made for me but never sent.”
“Yeah, what was it?” Johnny sat up straighter, surprised and curious.
“It’s a carved bay horse with real mane and tail. It looks like Ulysses.”
“Like the palomino he carved for me?” Johnny grinned.
“Yes, he said he carved them at the same time and decided to hold onto mine for when he brought me home. He wanted us grew up together.”
“Well, we’re together now, Boston.” Johnny put his arm around Scott’s shoulders.
Scott leaned into Johnny, “Yes, we are little brother. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”