One Hellava Saturday Night
Johnny glanced to his left and had to force himself not to smile when he saw the expression on his brother’s face.
“Ah…” His normally verbose older brother seemed to be at a loss for words.
Johnny recovered first from the surprise and drawled, “Sure, Murdoch. I’ll go saddle up your horse……or would you rather take the buggy?”
“I’ll ride, John.” Murdoch replied as he threaded his long arms into his corduroy coat.
Scott shrugged on his own coat and waited while Murdoch checked his wallet. “Sir, are you sure about this?”
Murdoch stopped what he was doing to frown at his eldest. “Are you worried about my health son, or would you rather I didn’t join you and your brother on a Saturday night in town?”
Scott felt a slight flush come to his cheeks, “Not at all Murdoch. It’s just that the cantana in Morro Coyo can get a little wild and it might not be what you’re looking for.”
Murdoch faced his son and allowed a smile to turn up the corners of his mouth. “Scott, do you know how many times I’ve been to Morro Coyo on a Saturday night? Paul and I used to close down the saloon.”
“Yeah but how many years ago?” Neither had noticed Johnny come in. Before Murdoch could respond, he added, “Horses are ready.”
The Lancer’s trotted their horses down the middle of the street just as the sun was starting to set. The town was busier than usual as a couple of the neighboring ranches had paid their men. Murdoch’s own men were paid a week ago and it was an arrangement that worked well so the town wasn’t overrun by cowboys one Saturday a month.
“Should we stable them or just leave them?” Scott made a motion toward the livery stable.
“I don’t think we’ll be here that long.” Murdoch replied as he guided his horse to the hitch rail in front of the cantana.
Johnny shrugged his shoulders and guided Barranca to the hitch rail next to his father’s horse and Scott followed.
Johnny and Scott started up the boardwalk to the front door, when their father’s voice called to them. “Boys. Let’s get something to eat first. I’m buying.” Without waiting for an answer Murdoch put his long legs to work and headed toward the small restaurant run by the Santos family.
Johnny shook his head as he followed after his father. “This is gonna be interestin’ ” he muttered.
“Yes it is.” Came the reply from his equally amused brother.
“Gracias Senora Santos. Your tamales hit the spot.” Murdoch thanked the smiling woman.
“Da nada, Senor Lancer. I am so pleased you liked them. My daughter is learning to make them and she made these.”
Scott wiped his mouth with his napkin and leaned back in his chair, “Give the lady my compliments. They were the best I’ve ever had.”
Senora Santos beamed as she bustled back to the kitchen.
Murdoch threw some coins on the table and they started for the door.
Johnny backhanded his brother in the stomach, “Better be careful what you say or Senora Santos will have the Priest postin’ the bans tomorrow.”
Murdoch chucked along with Scott as he took his hat from the hat rack near the door, and handed Scott his.
Johnny relaxed back in his chair and lazily watched as Murdoch shuffled the cards. The noise swirled all around them as the local cowboys got drunker. The game wasn’t exactly what he would have come to town for, but he figured that for one Saturday night he could have a peaceful, if not exactly exciting trip to town.
Their father had bought them rounds of beer and skillfully ordered another round whenever it looked like Johnny was going to order something stronger. As the cards flew across the table to each player, Johnny sighed, resigned to passing up a shot of tequila in favor of family harmony.
He threw out two bits and watched as his brother followed. The action went around the table with Murdoch raising twice. / Damn, the old man can sure play poker! /
Murdoch laid his cards out and began raking in the pile of coins. “Well boys, something tells me the tune caller at the Lancer ranch is going to own your next months wages if you keep playing like this.”
“We’re just giving you a chance to win a few pots, old man. Soon as you got enough there, we’ll start cleanin’ you out.” Johnny drawled as Scott laughed.
“That’s right Murdoch. We just want to make sure you have a good time…..this one time to town on a Saturday night in ten years.” Scott put in.
Murdoch raised an eyebrow at his two grinning sons, “Gentlemen, I think I need to take my two boys outside and teach them some manners.” He started to rise as the other men around the table laughed.
Johnny put his hands up in surrender, “That’s okay. Don’t want to put you out none.”
Murdoch settled back into his chair with a smirk and passed the deck to Scott. “Okay, if you’re sure. Here. It’s your turn.” He raised his mug and took a long swallow of the golden ale.
Scott picked up the deck, and glanced over his shoulder as angry voices and a crash caught his attention. Johnny was on his feet immediately and had his hand resting on the butt of his gun, but before the rest of them could react, a man was thrown in their direction toppling the table.
Chairs were thrust back as the man scrambled to his feet and threw a punch at Murdoch. Murdoch grabbed the drunken cowboy by the arm, and gave him a right hook to the chin.
“Impressive Sir.” Scott got in just before ducking a Rafter G ranch hand’s ill timed blow.
Mayhem broke loose in the cantina as some of the patrons fled for the front door while others joined the fray. Johnny was taking on two men as Scott knocked one down and turned to slug another.
Murdoch had two cowboys by their shirt collars and he expertly propelled them out the door. He kicked aside the broken tables and grabbed hold of a scruffy cowboy who had a bottle aimed at the back of Johnny’s head. With one blow, the man sank bonelessly to the sawdust covered floor.
Everyone froze in mid swing when the bartender fired one barrel of his shot gun into the ceiling. “All right. That’s enough! The next round will pepper all of you!”
Johnny froze mid swing and he looked at his opponent. The cowboy he’d been fighting was Red from the Rocking J. “You had enough Red?”
Red glanced at the smoking shot gun, “Sure thing Johnny. I guess we had all the fun we can tonight. Help me up.”
Johnny gave the man a hand up and slapped him on the back before turning to look for his hat in all the mess. “See ya next week.” He pushed his hair out of his eyes and settled his hat on his head. He watched a moment as his father pulled money from his billfold to pay the owner of the cantina for the damages.
“Come on boys. Let’s go home. Oh….. and your share of the damages is eleven dollars.” Murdoch put his hat square on his head and headed through the swinging doors, leaving his sons to trail along behind.
Johnny stopped next to his brother at the hitching rail. “Ya think he means it?”
Scott looked up at their father as he settled himself in the saddle, “Oh I’d say he means it.”
“But he started it. He threw the first punch!”
Scott chucked as he mounted his own horse leaving his bemused brother to catch up and follow in his wake.
Murdoch turned his horse to head out of town and neither of his sons saw the huge smile on his face, and they never saw him ruefully massaging his bruised knuckles.