Life Before Lancer Story)
A coming of age story about our
favorite Cowboy. Rated R for sexual
situations, but even Mr. Madrid had to start somewhere. . . . . . . .
TEXAS. JULY, 1864.
Dusk. . . . .
The air was
sultry as The Cowboy slowly rode into town. . . . .
He had been
here before. In Abilene. But this
time was different. He had, for the
first time in a long time, a decent amount of money in his saddlebags.
Blood money. But it would get him a few hot meals, a few nights in a
decent hotel, and some needed sleep.
And it would
give him time to think. And to
sulk. And to try to mend his broken
heart. Over her. . . .
Or Lizzie, as he called her. They
had been together for seven months. And
although they shared love, if two people so young could actually be in love, he
never felt he did her justice. So
he had let her go just seven days ago. For
her own good, he had told her. And
she cried. And he did, too.
But she deserved better.
days later, his profession called
for his services. And he was well
paid. And his already broken heart
was further saddened by the senselessness of what he did for a living.
But it was a living. . . .
He decided he
would check into the hotel. The
last time he was here, he slept in the livery stable,
with the horses and their smells, and the ever-present threat of broken
sleep. But this time, he would
treat himself to a nice room, a hot bath, a decent bed, and a securely locked
He left his
horse in the stable, silently chuckling that this time, the horse would be there
alone. He made his way across the
street into the nicely furnished, pleasant hotel lobby.
He rang the bell at the desk. Then
he noticed the sign. And of course,
as his luck would have it, the sign said “Out to Dinner.
Please Check Back at 8 PM.”
wryly. The one time he was able to
afford himself a luxury, and the hotel people weren’t there to serve him.
Oh well, he would come back later. . . . .
into the hotel dining room. Nice
place, and he was hungry. And it
smelled good, too. He was shown,
reluctantly by the waiter, to a table. In
the middle of the room. The dining
room was not crowded. He asked for
a table in the corner, in the back of the spacious room.
With some help from the bills he pulled out of his jacket, the table he
requested was his.
He asked for
the finest whiskey the place had. And
he got it. Along with a menu, and a
rundown of the night’s specials. But
he knew what he wanted.
With potatoes. And green
beans. And everything that went with it. And, he would even treat himself to a rich, chocolate cake,
with milk, for dessert.
After all, he deserved it.
sickened at the thought of another night of stew, or beans, or rattlesnake meat.
At a campfire. In the middle of
And although he knew water was the lifeblood of every living thing, the
thought of the bland liquid with dinner just didn’t settle with him.
So, when the waiter brought him a glass of water, he kindly declined.
As he waited
for his meal, he savored the whiskey. It was a fine brand; smooth tasting, and strong.
And warm as it made its way to his stomach.
After only a few sips, he felt the warmth in his body, and he could feel
his tired bones and muscles begin to relax.
around the room, admiring its décor and beauty.
He studied the few customers that were eating on this Tuesday evening,
obviously a slow night in the usually bustling town.
two middle-aged gentlemen in a corner table, well dressed.
Probably successful ranchers discussing some important projects that
dealt with their livelihood. Then, near the center of the room, was a family.
A mother, father, and daughter, about 17 or 18 years old. Pretty, sweet,
innocent. Like Lizzie. It was
obviously her birthday, as her parents presented her with gifts, and the
remnants of a cake were at their table.
just a little at the thought of a birthday. And receiving gifts. And
of being taken to a nice place for a special birthday dinner.
He had never had that. Hell,
his last birthday, his 17th, he had spent in jail, sleeping off some
really bad liquor that got him into all kinds of trouble.
And he grimly pondered whether he would see his 18th. . .
spied her. In a far corner table,
under a dim light. What a fine
looking woman, he thought. Very
sophisticated. And older.
Not old, mind you. Just older. Older
than he was, anyway.
She had light
red hair, fixed attractively on the top of her head.
She wore a pale,
long-sleeved green dress, and her accessories told him she obviously came from
thoughts about her were diminished when his meal arrived.
It sure was good, and he savored every bite, enjoying it with all his
being. And the whiskey.
For the first time in a long time, he felt relaxed.
And with the whiskey and full stomach, his heartache over Lizzie faded,
just a little.
sixth sense kicked in. The
feeling that he was being stared at, looked at, studied. He didn’t like it. He
knew it could only mean trouble. But
who? The ranchers in the corner?
No. They were laughing and
joking, and appeared to be ready to leave.
The birthday family? No,
they had left a few minutes ago, with only a sliver of birthday cake on the
still uncleared table the only sign of their existence.
No one was in the room except. . . .her.
He looked in
her direction. Their eyes met.
He smiled. She nodded, then
looked away. He continued to
stare. She looked up. He winked. She
smiled shyly .
It was the
familiar game he played so often. Pick
and Choose, he secretly called it. He
would walk into a saloon, or cantina, and knew that he could pick and choose any
woman he wanted. For any woman
would have him. Gladly.
He would study each woman, decide what he was in the mood for.
Blonde or brunette. Redhead?
Sometimes. Young or younger.
Or older. Big or small.
Shy or aggressive. Whatever
he was in the mood for, the Cowboy would get.
And he would enjoy it. And
so would his choice of the evening.
being good at his profession, he was good at this, too.
The act of love. Or, lust maybe? Learned
at a young age when his mentor, Reveles, decided it was time a 14-year old boy
experienced the true pleasures of life. That
first time, he was scared. He
didn’t know what the hell he was supposed to do.
But the young boy learned that nature did take over.
But he still had questions, which his mentor gladly answered.
And as he
matured and perfected his talents with a gun, he perfected his other talent as
well. When he joined Pardee’s
gang, his second talent was well underway, and the women, yes women, Pardee
introduced the young 16-year old to added to the legend of the young child/man.
So by the
time he turned 17, his special way with women was almost as well-known as his
abilities with a gun. But he always
felt there was something lacking. Love.
Some of the women he was with he could envision a life with, if
circumstances were different, for both of them.
Others, well, a one-night stand, and thank-you ma’am was all he wanted.
But he had vowed never to get involved with anyone.
For he never knew when he woke up in the morning whether he would be
alive to go to sleep that night.
. . . .
And pretty. . . . .
He had been
sick with a stomach virus for over a month. A virus that wouldn’t go away, and he’d lost so much
weight he had to take his gunbelt in three notches.
She had found the sick cowboy, and hid him in the barn (where else did he
spend half his life) of her parents’ shack, and secretly took care of him.
Gave him soup. And herbs for
his stomach. And he slowly got
well. Well enough to leave.
But wanting to say. Because
wanted to go with him. Her mother
had other children to look after; her father was drunk more than sober.
And he did things to her. Things
a father shouldn’t do. She wanted
away from them. She would be safe
with her Cowboy. Knew he wouldn’t
do anything she didn’t want.
But she was
only 16. And he, barely 17.
He considered himself a man now, but she, well, still a child.
It didn’t seem right. But
neither did the life she had. So he
took her along.
It had been
exciting at first, filled with childish mischief, humorous adventures, and
special secrets. It had been filled
with cozy nights by campfires, where two young, lonely,
people would talk. About their hopes and dreams.
And fears. Where a young
girl would cuddle up to the warmth of her young man. And, sometimes, when two bodies would become one. . . .under
the moon and the stars.
there was danger. For him.
But she was with him. And he
feared for her safety, for her life. And
after she witnessed one of his gunfights, and the fear she felt for his safety,
and the horror of what her Cowboy did for a living, things changed. . . .for
him. They both still loved
one another, but he realized he could not, would not, subject his
precious Lizzie to the lowness of his life.
So he found a Catholic priest, and asked him to please take care of her,
to make sure she had a chance at an education.
For a good life. The priest reluctantly agreed.
He had told
Lizzie they were going to town to visit someone.
And when they got to the church, he told her good-bye.
She didn’t understand. “Why
are you leaving me, Johnny? What
did I do to make you hate me?” she cried.
“I love you
too much, Lizzie. You’re too good
for me. Please. . .don’t hate me…”
And the Cowboy walked away. And
took his broken heart with him.
later, his services were requested. This
one time, he didn’t really care if he won the fight or not.
Death, he surmised, would feel better then the sadness he felt in his
heart. But he had won, was nicely
paid, and he found himself in Abilene, at this nice hotel, in this dining room,
looking at her. . . .
cocky stride that was becoming his trademark, the Cowboy walked up to the
pretty, red-haired lady. He nodded,
smiled, and sat down, without being asked.
He had considered calling her “Red,” but when he looked at her, he
noticed her pale white complexion, and he was taken aback by her eyes.
They were the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen.
A light green. And
sparkling. And her light coloring was quite a contrast to the dark,
fiery Mexican senoritas he had so often been with.
small talk. She was “Green
Eyes” to him. He was “Cowboy”
to her. First names were not
needed. Or wanted.
And as he
studied her, he knew she was an older woman. The small creases around her eyes and mouth.
But she was beautiful. And
sophisticated. And he wondered why a woman of her age and obvious social
standing and a down and out, half-breed Mexican gunfighter young enough to be
her son, would be toying with each other’s affections.
where she was from. It didn’t
matter, she told him. Where was he
from? Everywhere, he had smiled.
He bought her
more wine, he ordered more whiskey, and they talked for hours.
About nothing and everything. The
waiter finally told them the place was closed.
It was time to go.
“You got a
room, Cowboy?” she asked, coyly.
a chance to check in. Might as well
try to get a room now. Ain’t too
busy, should be able to,” he answered.
don’t you just stay with me? Room’s
plenty big enough.” He didn’t
have to think twice.
She had the
best room in the hotel. The suite.
With plush carpets and furniture. And
a bed big enough for four people. And
one of those fancy bathtubs with hot water.
How he wanted a bath. “Well,
take one. I won’t mind,” she
stripped off his dusty clothes and boots. “I’ll
take those. I can have the hotel
laundry wash them for you,” she offered.
He happily obliged.
He sank down
into the deep tub, filled with the hot water. He closed his eyes, and
between the heat of the water, the whiskey, and his full stomach, he was
in heaven. He was relaxed, and the hot water went down to his sore bones
and muscles. Better be careful I
don’t fall asleep, sink into the water and drown.
Now wouldn’t that be a way for Johnny Madrid to go, he
chuckled to himself.
He sensed he
was being watched. He opened his
eyes and Green Eyes stood there. In
all her natural beauty. With her
pale red hair no longer pinned up, but down, past her shoulders.
She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
“Mind if I
join you?” she teased. And at
that, she crawled right in the tub with him. Behind him, with her long legs
wrapped around him. And he lay his
body against her breasts. And she
took the sponge and squeezed the water over his chest.
And his back. Then she got
the soap and washed his back. And
his chest. He asked what she wanted
him to do.
She liked to
have her long hair washed, she told him. So he squeezed the sponge over her hair, then lathered the
soap on his hands and spread it in her hair.
And rubbed her head. She
enjoyed it. He rinsed her hair off,
and spread his fingers through her wet hair.
He chuckled as some of it became entwined in his fingers.
he lay back against her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and shoulders, her
legs around his legs.
noticed the silver religious medallion he wore around his neck.
She took it in her hands and looked at it, twirling the chain in her
hands. It looked well-worn, and
small for his chest. She turned the
medallion so she could see the back of it.
There was no engraving or anything, but around the front of the medal
were the words "St. Christopher Protect Us."
Somehow, Green Eyes knew her Cowboy needed protected.
huh?” she queried.
he replied. “You?”
Someone special give you this?”
belonged to my mother. When she
died, I wanted something to remember her by.
Didn't really understand its meaning then, but as I got older, I realized
its significance. Sure glad I
have it, though. Makes me feel like
she’s watchin’ over me. . . “
did she die?” she asked, curiously.
I was twelve.”
a long silence, the Cowboy told her that as far as he was concerned, his father
Eyes realized she was treading on painful ground here, so she said nothing more,
and the two bodies enjoyed the warmth of the bath.
the unlikely couple had concluded their bath, they wrapped themselves in the
large, fluffy towels and retreated to the large, comfortable bed.
They sat in the middle of it and she removed the towel from around her
body and dried her hair with it,
then handed him a brush.
like to have my hair brushed,” she said.
he took the brush and ran it through her damp, soft, hair.
He could feel her body relax as he brushed,
and he softly hummed. He
even took her hair in his fingers and made tiny braids, just like he used to do
with his mother's hair. His
mother's long, beautiful black hair. And
his mother would let him braid it because he liked the feel of
braided hair. And the song
he hummed as he playfully braided the red hair was a Mexican lullaby his mother
used to sing to him. Funny, he
hadn't thought about that song in years. . . . . .
he finished brushing, she turned to him and began to run her fingers through his
dark, shoulder length hair. Green
eyes met sapphire eyes, and he felt his heart race as his lips met hers.
Soft lips, he thought.
as his fluffy towel was hastily dropped to the floor and strong arms and tiny
arms embraced each other, a lonely lady and a child/man lay back on the bed.
the whole world stopped. . . . . .
for the first time since they encountered each other earlier that evening, the
Cowboy felt in control. He knew
what women liked. What women
And softness. And she
responded. And he briefly
wondered if this was the right thing to do.
Sure, he had been with women before.
But not one like this. A
real woman. And so much older. But it felt so right. For
him. And for her, he could tell.
So it must be. . . . .
at that special time in life when two bodies become one, Green Eyes and the
Cowboy were oblivious to everything and everyone in the world, except each
other. And the warm breeze through
the open window was hardly enough to cool the
heat of their bodies, as their passions rose and both were taken to a
place they didn’t know existed. . . .
this be heaven on earth,
when that magical moment was over, when their hearts slowed down and he cooled
her body with his breath, two tired people lay on the bed, she with her
head on his chest, his arms around her. And
they blissfully went to sleep. . . . . .
awoke to her voice talking to someone. He
sat up in bed, and she came toward him carrying a tray.
She was dressed in a pretty, light blue negligee, and as he saw her for
the first time in the light of day, she
was more beautiful then he realized.
as she saw him for the first time in the light of day, sitting in bed with
tussled hair and sleepy eyes, she chuckled to herself that he looked like the
cutest little boy she had ever seen. But
she knew that the naked body under the sheet belonged to a man; a man that knew
how to make a woman happy.
ordered us breakfast. Room
service,” she proudly announced.
smiled. “Good, I’m hungry.”
teased. “Well, after last night,
I can see why. . . . . .”
looked at her, smiled his delicious smile, and blushed.
had expected bacon and eggs for breakfast. With coffee.
And some milk.
he got were strawberries. And
breakfast?!” he asked, a little
Cowboy, obviously don't know anything about champagne and strawberry brunches,
do you?” she teased.
the Cowboy learned. And enjoyed as
he learned. He learned of a new way
to eat strawberries. And drink
champagne. . . . . . .
Eyes got dressed. She put on a
pretty pale yellow dress. Not as fancy as the one she had on at dinner, but
pretty just the same. The Cowboy
asked her to keep her hair long, not to pin it up.
He liked it better that way. She
his clothes were being laundered, he retrieved some clothes from his saddlebags.
She thought they didn't do him justice.
man as good-looking as you are deserves fancy clothes,” she told him.
nothin’ wrong with my clothes. I
like ‘em. . .” he protested.
smiled, then announced, “I want to go shopping.”
he thought. Just like a woman.
Green Eyes did not plan on shopping for herself. Some new clothes for her Cowboy were in order, and she was
determined to see that he get them.
bulked at first. “Ain't never had
no complaints about my clothes,” he bellowed.
not complaining, Cowboy. But
everybody needs more than one or two shirts and pants.”
He reluctantly agreed.
don't pick out anythin' to fancy,” he whined.
in so many ways you're still just a child,” she chided.
ain’t no child,” he mumbled. Never
was, really. . . .
the shopping was completed, the Cowboy had three new pairs of pants, four
shirts, new boots, and a new hat. He
liked everything. Except for the shirts. The
shirts were fine; it was the colors Green Eyes chose that he wasn't crazy about.
Salmon. And light pink. And soft blue.
be the laughing stock of the border,” he protested.
he was assured that he wouldn't be. That
the women would love it. And to at least give his new wardrobe a try.
The colors were popular around the border and would be easily available
for future purchases. And she
suggested that someday, he try the pants with the studs up the side.
you're a bit older,” she teased.
looked at her, exasperated. “I’m
old enough now. . . . . .”
spent the day walking the town, she looking in shops, he waiting for her.
At one point, she was taken up with something in one of the shops they
were in. And so was he.
The Cowboy wanted to buy a present for this special lady; after all she
bought for him, it was the least he could do.
He remembered how she loved to brush her pretty red hair, so he bought
her a pretty silver mirror that matched the comb and the brush he had used on
her hair. And he paid for it with
the few dollars he had left from a job working on a ranch a few weeks back.
The money he earned because Lizzie was sick and needed some medicine.
And at that time, the services of his main profession were not needed.
he would never buy anything for someone he cared about with blood money.
Hell, he didn't even like spending it on himself.
Green Eyes had her fill of shopping, the couple wandered to the livery.
The Cowboy needed to check on his horse.
They asked the man who ran the stable if they could borrow one of his
buggies to take a ride. He agreed,
reluctantly, only after the Cowboy had pulled the magic bills from his jacket. Blood money. Oh,
well. . . .
He drove the buggy while she sat back and relaxed. They found a pretty spot outside of town, with some shade trees. And Green Eyes continued to surprise her Cowboy. Out of her pearled satchel came a small flask of some mighty fine whiskey. Just enough to quench one’s thirst on a hot day.
sat on a log in the shade and talked. And
drank. And probably because of
their total ease with each other, and their relaxed state, they bared their
souls to one another.
had gently again questioned him about his father. And he told her the story.
How he had kicked them out of his home and his life when he was only two.
How their lives were ones of poverty.
And he told her what he had never told another living soul. . .how he had
witnessed the murder of his beautiful mother.
he told her about Lizzie. How he
had loved her, but let her go. And
how he hoped he had done the right thing. Leaving
her at the Catholic church. But he
couldn’t send her back to her father; he did things to her.
And she couldn’t stay with him. She
would be the one that ended up dead, he feared.
While death would evade him and he would go on. . . .
assured him he had done the right thing.
Green Eyes silently cried for this young man.
This Cowboy. And wondered
how one young man could still be so gentle, kind, and vulnerable, after all life
had dealt him. And how he deserved
so much more. Maybe, in her own
way, she could help him. She was
older; old enough to be his mother. But
her feelings for him were not that of a mother for her son; but rather, a woman
for an attractive, sensitive
younger man. But still,
maybe, she could give him some words of wisdom that she knew he so desperately
asked him to consider, someday, meeting with his father.
“If just to talk, for an hour,” she told him.
“You may find something good that you don’t know exists. Find out his
side of the story. If you don’t,
you’ll always wonder what could have been.
Because, my Cowboy, you deserve so much in life.”
told her he’d think about it. But
he knew he wouldn’t. If the man
that sired him really wanted to meet with him, he would have to seek him out
first. Then maybe, he would consider it. Stubbornness.
. . . .
it was her turn. What was her
story? Why was such a fine lady as
Green Eyes traveling alone, in Abilene, of all places.
she told him her husband of 20 years had died.
Senselessly. Tried to break
up a fight between two drunken cowboys, and was shot through the heart.
She was returning from back east, where she spent some time with her
sister, and stopped off in Abilene because the town brought back fond memories
of her youth.
had been young, 18, when she married him, and he was 10 years older than she.
And she had a baby early on, but things went wrong.
The baby died, and she could have no other.
So it was just the two of them. For
twenty years. . . .
when he died, just six months ago, she realized, at 38 years old, she was
completely alone. She had depended
on him for everything. And
she realized she had never been with any other man except for him. Until. . . . last night. . . . . . .
she saw him. She told the Cowboy
how she felt when she caught her first glimpse of him. So young, so serious, but yet, a maturity and cockiness that
she found appealing. And innocence. And
she noticed his eyes, even from across the room. And she realized how she never really felt the love of a man.
And even though she had been married for 20 years, she discovered last
night, in a hot hotel room in Abilene, how it really felt to be loved.
And to love back. She felt
like . . . .it was her first time. . . . .
they rode back into town, they were silent.
Alone with their thoughts. He
was confused; he didn’t quite know what to think about this woman.
Did he love her? Yes. And no.
If only she were younger, he thought.
But God, last night was the most wonderful night of his life, and age
meant nothing. She was so different
from his past women. Women who only wanted him for his body. And he for theirs. Who
meant nothing to him really, except a good time. And a few hours of pleasure from the horrors of his life.
she definitely wasn’t like Lizzie. His
Lizzie. So young and sweet.
The love they shared between them had been innocent and child like.
The love that the Cowboy had with this woman last night was, well,
indescribable. But he had
loved it. . . . and loved her.
she was just as confused. Did she
have the right to make love to, to love someone, so damn young.
Young in some ways, but mature beyond his years in others.
She knew what he did for a living. He
didn’t tell her; didn’t have to. She
just knew. But she didn’t care.
And God help her, she loved him. .
returned to the hotel and prepared for dinner.
She wore her pale red hair down over her shoulders, the way he liked it.
And tonight, she wore an off-white dress with blue earrings, necklace, and
bracelet.. And he wore the soft
blue shirt she had bought him to compliment her jewelry.
again dined in the hotel dining room, where they had first encountered one
another only 24 hours before. The
place was a bit more crowded then the night before, but they hardly noticed.
Cowboy and Green Eyes were in their own world.
A world where a lonely,
middle-aged woman and a lonely, young gunfighter somehow found each other and
gave one another the strength, courage, and the love to see each other through
although the Cowboy didn’t realize it, their time together was short.
For Green Eyes knew they would have one last night together.
That’s all she would allow. Because if she should allow herself to spend another day with
this man, this child, this boy, she would never be able to leave him.
For her feelings for him were already too deep, and in her heart, she
knew it wouldn’t be fair. To her. And
especially, not fair to him.
presented her with the silver mirror after dinner. She was truly touched. And
she knew that every time she used it, she would think of the young cowboy who
had put some magic back into her lonely
returned to her suite and a silence came upon them. They knew what they wanted.
Each other. Just like last
night. And she tried to resist. And
so did he. But there are certain
feelings that cannot, and should not, be denied.
Like Passion. Like Fire.
Burning in one’s soul.
they embraced. And they kissed.
And before they realized it, their clothes were on the floor, and they
were on the bed. As one.
And when that special time between a man and a woman again came to them,
the Cowboy knew how it felt to love. To
really love. To really love...a
woman. Not a young girl, not some
whore from the saloon, but a real woman. And
it felt good. . . . . .
she realized the feelings she had for the Cowboy were feelings she had never
felt before, had never knew existed. Passion.
she said the words that, in 20 years of marriage, she had never, ever spoken to
her husband, even when they were in the very throngs of passion.
For she never really felt the desire to whisper them, until now. . ..
love you,” she said, breathlessly, through tears.
for the first time in his young, difficult life, the Cowboy felt real love, real
desire, but most of all, a genuine affection and caring for someone.
His Green Eyes.
love you too,” he cried to her, and tightened his embrace on her body and her
laid in bed for the rest of the day. Sulking.
After all, that’s what he had come to Abilene to do in the first place. But over Lizzie. But
now, the sweet girl was just another memory to him, and he sulked over what he
now considered to be. . . .his first love.
Green Eyes. .
it supposed to hurt this much?
considered tearing up the letter and leaving the box behind.
But he couldn’t. He wanted to read her words, hear her words, feel her words.
To help him understand why she had left.
Where she had gone, and maybe, who she was. . . . .
tear-filled eyes, he opened the envelope. Her
handwriting was pretty, feminine, just like her.
And he could feel her presence as he read her words of love. . . .
Cowboy. . . .
you. Thank you for the feeling of
life you have given to me. After meeting you, after talking and laughing and
being with you, and loving you, I
realize now that my life was just a shell of what it could have been.
made me feel young again. And
foolish. And happy.
And all those wonderful emotions one feels when they realize, for the
first time, they are truly in love. Which
I am with you. I have never known
anyone like you. And I don’t
think I ever will.
will always remember your voice, your soft drawl.
Your self-assuredness. And
your youthful awkwardness. And your
eyes. You told me you got them from your father.
Well, if you’re any indication, he must be a very good-looking man.
are so young, and have so much to live for.
I hope that someday, you find who, and what, you’re looking for.
A family, perhaps?
also deserve a young, beautiful woman who can share your life with you.
She’s out there, you just need to find her.
for me, well, I can now go on with my life, thanks to you.
And the love I have for you, and always will have for you, deep in my
heart, will sustain me. And get me through whatever
my future holds.
I will always remember our two nights together.
Never in my life. . .need I say more?
so, my precious Johnny Madrid. Yes,
I know. I’ve known all along.
But it doesn’t matter. For
I know the real Johnny Madrid. Not
the legend, not the boy. But the
man. And he’s a good one. Always
remember that. . . .
I must leave you, I’m sorry. But
I leave you a gift. To go with
something you already have. From
you wear it close to your heart. And
know that through it, I will always be with you.
Watching over you. Protecting you. Along
with your mother.
Love You. My Child.
My Man. My……Love.
Keep Safe, and Be Happy.
Green Eyes (Annie)
Annie was her name. And she knew
who, and what, he was. And it
hadn’t mattered. For she had
loved him. He made her
feel….whole. And young.
And fulfilled. That he could
do that, that he could actually make another person feel good about themselves,
just by being himself, well, wasn’t that something. Maybe, there was hope for him after all.
he knew she truly loved him. . . .
picked up the box and opened up her gift. A
medal. Of St. Christopher.
A beautiful, new, shiny, silver medal.
And larger than the one he already had.
She was right, he would take his mother’s medal and place it on the
chain with the new one she had given him. And the two women he loved most in the world would be with
him. Always and forever.
looked at the back of the medal and she had it engraved.
To Johnny. Love Annie. Forever.
mystery of Annie became even greater to him.
But he decided it would remain that.
A mystery. For to try to
unravel the reasoning of the last few days, of the encounter, of the attraction,
of the love, would probably just drive him crazy.
like everything else in the Cowboy’s life, he decided to let it be.
It had happened. It was a part of his life.
And he had to accept it. And
he had to move on. . . . . .
was early evening, and the Cowboy couldn’t stay in that room.
Alone. Not with the memories
of the good things that had happened there.
So he decided to leave. He
would eat at the local saloon, and get a room there.
But he would remain alone this night.
For the thought of one of the local girls wanting him just didn’t
appeal to him right now. He knew
that he deserved so much more. . . . .
checked out of the pleasant hotel and checked in at the saloon.
He ate and went up to his room. But
he didn’t sleep. He just
remembered. And smiled at the
memories. Of her. And cried as well. But
the tears were for things that could have been.
Maybe. If he had grown up
with his father. He had heard about
the Lancer Ranch. Heard it was
really something. And he had
considered, from time to time, just riding up to northern California and getting
a job as a ranch hand, just to meet the old bastard.
And to see if the old man would know who he was.
And maybe, someday. . . . .
dawn came, the Cowboy walked over to the livery, retrieved his horse, and left
Abilene. He could never go back
there. Too many memories.
But for once, happy memories. But
he learned even happy memories can hurt.
he came to the crossroads a few miles out of town, he pondered which way to go.
He decided south. To Mexico.
He felt at home there. And,
a range war was brewing, and he was always ready to fight
a good fight, for a good cause. To
fight for the underdog.
one thing he knew for sure. He
didn’t want to get involved any more. At
least, not now. Maybe when he was
older. Like 18.
Because between Lizzie and Green Eyes, or Annie, he just couldn’t
handle it right now.
what he had learned from her during their brief encounter—the friendship, the
happiness, would remain with him always.
he realized that if he were to die tomorrow, he would at least have known what
it really felt like to be in love. For
that had been her greatest gift to him. The
Gift of Love. And he would be forever grateful.
it would sustain him through his darkest hours. . . . .
sat on the train headed east. To
Boston. Her final destination.
had been headed there from her home in Nevada, where she had lived the past 20
years with her husband. A husband
she was trapped with. Didn’t
really love, never did. But
circumstances in her youth had forced her into marriage; only to have that
circumstance die at birth. But
divorce was not an option, so the young woman was forced to live a life with a
man, an old man at that, that she didn’t really love.
had always wondered what it felt like to be in love. To be physically attracted to a young man.
To feel giddy. To blush when he spoke to you.
Or to have your insides turn upside down when he looked at you and
smiled. Or winked.
To wonder what he was doing when you weren’t with them.
To feel all the things you should feel when in love.
had never known. She had lived her
life with him. It had been a
financially comfortable life, but unhappy none the less.
His drinking, his affairs, his temper, his roughness during times of
passion, had taken their toll on her. And
when he died, the result of a drunken brawl with another woman’s husband, she
had been secretly relieved.
then, two months after his death, she discovered her time was short as well.
A blood disease, she was told. That
couldn’t be cured. She was
advised to go to Boston, where the doctors there were the best, and where her
life could be prolonged a few more months, anyway.
And she would be made comfortable and looked after there as well.
since the thought of visiting Boston had always been a dream of hers, she
decided she would go. After all,
she had no other family . . . .
stop in Abilene had been an accident. She
became ill and needed to rest for a few days.
So she treated herself to the best suite in the hotel.
And pampered herself. She
was feeling better and had planned an early dinner that night so she could leave
on the early train.
then, she saw him. The Cowboy.
His youth. His good looks.
Hell, his sensuality, just by the way he was.
And for the first time in her life, she felt the things that one feels
when they realize they have found their soul mate.
The butterflies. The
shyness. The rapid heartbeat.
didn’t think he would notice her; after all, he was so young.
But he had. And although she
couldn’t of known it, he was just as lonely as she was.
And, for whatever reasons, he felt those things, too.
she had fallen in love. And
would take that feeling with her to her grave.
she had lied to him about her life. For
she didn’t want his pity. Or his
tears. For the Cowboy would never
know that he had given a dying woman his greatest gift. The Gift of Love. And
she would be forever grateful.
it would sustain her through her darkest hours. . . . . . . . .
LIFE BEFORE LANCER STORY—JOHNNY’S LIFE