Note: A few words here and there, for “feeling.”
Johnny Madrid Lancer
lay on his bed and stared into the darkness of his room, pondering events
of the last few weeks and the decision he was about to make, and hoped it
would be the right one. The next morning, he was to sign the
partnership agreement that made him 1/3 owner, along with his father and
older brother, in his father’s ranch known as Lancer.
Lancer. Even the name evoked a feeling of strength. And
power. But in the last few weeks, he had felt anything but powerful.
For the first time in a long time, he had felt like a powerless animal as
he recovered from a gunshot wound to the back, inflicted by the leader of
the land pirates that had threatened to steal away his father’s land.
And the people who cared for him, his new family, well, Johnny Lancer wasn’t
sure how he would fit in and whether, when all was said and done, he would
ever, really, be accepted.
There was the girl. The gentle Teresa. A younger sister by proxy,
but still a beautiful young woman that Johnny had noticed immediately after
exiting the stage that day in town, before she had asked for “Mr. Lancer”
and received two responses, one from him. She had been so comforting
to him while he lay ill; her silky voice gave him a cozy feeling inside his
body and her soft, warm hands gave him a feeling, even in sickness, he knew
he shouldn’t have. Not with this girl. He couldn’t be sure, and
he was to embarrassed to ask her, but he thought that once, in his pain and
fever, he imagined her as one of his old flames, and subconsciously
embraced and kissed her the way he would of kissed one of his fiery senoritas:
passionately, with his tongue entwined in hers. Oh, God, he hoped
not. But if he did, he was sure the gentle girl understood and would
not hold it against him.
Then there was
Scott. His older brother. His educated, smart, good-looking blonde-haired
brother from Boston. God, how could he ever compete with him?
And why, Johnny wondered, would Scott even want him for a brother.
But for some reason, Scott had taken over the role of big brother.
He too, had seen Johnny through some rough times during his illness.
When Johnny began to recover and was aware of the people around him, he was
unable to acknowledge them because of all the laudanum he had been given.
He could only listen to them as they spoke to him, not knowing whether he
could hear them or not. But he could hear them, and he heard
a lot of things. Scott had told him a lot about his life in Boston,
about his grandfather, about how he loved him but yet, really always wanted
to be with his father. Johnny learned Scott had been in the war between
the states, which Scott had mixed feelings about, and even learned that growing
up, Scott did a lot of the same mischievous kind of things that Johnny had
done as a child. So maybe, this Scott person wasn’t so bad after all,
and if given a chance, might turn out to be an OK older brother. And
Johnny had even begun to grow a liking to Scott’s calling him “little
brother,” although at first, it didn’t fit too well with him, but he just
didn’t have the energy to ask him to stop. Hmmmm, he needed a nickname
for Scott. He’d have to think about that one.
Then there was
Murdoch Lancer. His father. The Old Man. Johnny definitely
knew how he felt about him. He was scared to death of him. Not
only was he intimidating looking; at 6 foot 5 and well over 200 pounds, he
was a giant to everyone around him. But his gruffness and seemingly
uncaring attitude had taken Johnny off guard. After all, no one intimidated
Johnny. Well, not Johnny Madrid anyway. He was always the intimidator.
Johnny had, at that first meeting, tried to intimidate Murdoch, but his father
had seen right through it. And Murdoch had told both his sons that
if they wanted a part of the ranch, his ranch, they’d have to earn
it. Johnny at the time didn’t really care about the damn ranch or his
father’s hard work or anything else, he just wanted the $1,000 that was offered
to him for coming to talk to his father for an hour. If he only knew
then what he knew now.
But this giant of a man. This father of his, had, at a time when Johnny
was certain his time had finally come, been the one that gave Johnny the
most comfort, the most security, the most love he had ever felt in his life.
His father was the one that had taken the burden of removing the bullet from
his back, ever so carefully, ever so gently, even though it hurt like hell
to Johnny. His father had been the one to whisper, “Don’t worry, son,
it’ll be all right. I’ll try my best not to hurt you, but it’s deep
and it’s gotta come out. Do you understand?” Johnny remembers
nodding that he did, and that he didn’t feel scared anymore. If Murdoch
Lancer said he would be all right, then he would. What Murdoch Lancer
said, Johnny had learned, was gospel.
And when Johnny regained some sense of awareness after his painful ordeal,
it was Murdoch who he saw first, who spoke to him, who gave him water, and
who told him not to worry, just sleep and leave the worrying to him.
God, that made him feel good. That someone actually cared whether he
lived or died, that this someone was his father.
So why was Johnny
so afraid of him? He had saved his life, twice. The first time
when the Pinkerton agent located Johnny just minutes before his execution.
If Murdoch Lancer hadn’t tried one last time to find his youngest son, he
would only have one son, the good son, with him right now. And the
second time, when removing the bullet.
Johnny had finally been given the OK to ride again. God, how he missed
the freedom he felt by riding. He had spied the palomino when he first
arrived at Lancer, wild and free, seemingly not able to be broken by the
best of the Lancer hands.
The Old Man had told Johnny, in his deep, gruff voice, “If you want him,
earn him. Break him. He’ll be yours. But my best men haven’t
been able to break him.”
Yeah, but your best men aren’t me, Johnny thought wryly, but not having
the nerve to say it to his face.
Well, he had broken the palomino, and, what was that look from Murdoch Lancer?
Utter amazement, maybe even some pride of what his son had done? Well,
whatever it was, Johnny hadn’t ridden the golden horse since he was cut down
and thought dead by his father, and as he rode the horse for the first time
since that day, he could feel the energy, the strength, the excitement coming
back to him.
As he came upon
a field of wild flowers, Johnny Lancer stared at them and marveled at their
beauty. Yes, Johnny Lancer, even Johnny Madrid, had a soft spot for
pretty things, and he thought that something so pretty should be given to
a special, pretty girl at the ranch who had taken such good care of him the
last few weeks. Just a small way to say thank you, he mused.
He had picked the flowers and arranged them in a way he had done many times
before for young ladies he was trying to impress. He returned to the
ranch and gave them to Teresa when she was up to her neck in flour, having
a bad day trying to make a special dessert for the three Lancer men.
When Johnny had given her the flowers and thanked her, she burst into tears,
and gave him a big, sisterly hug and kiss, leaving them both covered in flour.
“Shucks, Teresa, ain’t no big thing. And please, keep this between
us, OK?” Johnny had said.
But at dinnertime, gracing the dining room table, were the wild flowers arranged
in a vase that, unbeknownst to giver and receiver, had been a gift to Johnny’s
mother from his father. Murdoch and Scott both inquired about where
the pretty flowers had come from. Johnny look shyly at Teresa, who
blushed and responded, “A friend.” But both father and brother had
an idea of who the friend was, and no questions or brotherly teasing was
The first trip to town by Murdoch with his newly-found sons was a nervous
one for Johnny. Anyone and everyone who had business with Murdoch Lancer
or were friends or acquaintances of him knew of the sad story of the man
who lost two wives and two sons. Some of the old timers even remembered
the little boy with the big blue eyes who Murdoch would bring into town and
show off so proudly. They were shocked and saddened to learn this sweet
little boy had turned into the notorious Johnny Madrid. What will
people think of me? Johnny wondered. Not that he ever cared before
one way or the other. But that was Johnny Madrid. He was Johnny
Lancer now. Always really was, always knew that Lancer was his real
name. But for reasons not important now, he just didn’t feel up to
using the Lancer name.
But he was pleasantly
surprised. When the townsfolk heard of the battle at Lancer, and that
the famous gunslinger had nearly paid the ultimate price to protect his father’s
land, they readily accepted him into the community. Plus the fact he
was Murdoch Lancer’s son was not missed by anyone. One overzealous
town member was so happy in welcoming Johnny into the town he gave him a
good-natured slap on the back, a hard slap, right on his still sensitive
wound. Johnny’s pained expression told Murdoch and Scott that
the slap hurt his sensitive back, but Johnny laughed it off. “Don’t
worry, I forgot about that little scratch a long time ago,” he had told them,
with a sparkle in his eyes that father and brother had never seen before,
but agreed was a long time coming.
As Johnny pondered these events, he decided, at least for now, that the decision
to join the partnership and remain on the ranch was the right choice.
After all, the agreement was not binding; the Old Man had it written up so
that neither son would feel compelled to remain on the ranch if they were
unhappy there, but could keep possession of their share. Murdoch had
told both Scott and Johnny that the attorney drawing up the agreement had
asked him to reconsider that important detail; but Murdoch did not want it
changed. That way, no matter what either son decided, the Lancer ranch
would remain in Lancer hands even after Murdoch’s death. Another provision
was that neither son could sell his share without the consent of the other.
Besides, Johnny didn’t have anywhere else to go, anywhere that mattered.
Yes, he would miss some of the vagabond life he had led for so long, free
from responsibility, but all Johnny Madrid Lancer ever wanted, his whole
life, was a home, and a family, what every other person in the world seemed
to have but him. Now he was given that chance, and the first step to
making it work was to thank his father for saving his life. He never
really had; it was more or less an understanding between the two of them,
but at this moment, Johnny felt compelled to at least voice the words to
his father, whether or not they would be accepted as intended.
He also wanted to make sure his father knew exactly what he was getting into
with claiming him for a son. If Murdoch Lancer had any doubts
in his mind about having the notorious gunfighter Johnny Madrid for a son,
now was the time to voice those concerns before any agreement was signed
and Johnny’s involvement with these people, his family, got any deeper.
If after their talk, Murdoch decided that Johnny should leave, he would,
and would hold no anger towards him.
sat at the desk in his study and shuffled the papers around on his desk.
How he hated paperwork. It was his least favorite of tasks but a necessary
one. He sipped on his brandy and let his mind wander to the past year.
It was difficult. But then, the past 25 or 26 years had been difficult
as well. Two marriages, one death, an abandonment, and the loss of
two sons. The years of searching, and of loneliness. Of
wondering. Of building a ranch, an empire. Then almost having
that empire crumble, to be lost forever to land pirates.
The only shining light of those years had been his friendship with Paul O’Brien.
They had met shortly after Catherine died and Scott was taken away, and O’Brien
took a job with Murdoch at the then fledging ranch. The two had become
close; almost like brothers. Paul had been best man at Murdoch’s wedding
to Maria, and had been godfather to their son, Johnny. He had seen
Murdoch through the pain of Maria leaving and taking Johnny with her.
He had been there through the searches and the disappointments. And
through it all, O’Brien had become valuable to Murdoch in all stages of the
Murdoch had been there for Paul as well. Through his marriage to a
woman named Angel, and the birth of their beautiful little daughter, Teresa.
When Angel had decided to return to San Francisco to continue her acting
career, she agreed for her daughter to remain with her father and Murdoch
on Lancer. The two men had raised her and Murdoch felt that while he
didn’t have his two sons, he at least knew how it felt to love this little
girl like a daughter. Some of his pain and loneliness, at least, had
been taken away by this wonderful child.
Then last year, Paul had been murdered and Murdoch left for dead by Pardee
and his gang. As Murdoch grieved for his friend and recovered from
his wounds, he knew his empire would be gone. He needed help.
He needed his sons. He wanted his sons. He made
up his mind he would have them. And no one, or nothing, would stop
him from getting them back.
Then, just a few
weeks ago, they came. He had expected only Scott, his oldest.
But through the grace of God he received word his youngest, Johnny, would
be coming as well.
And through another miracle, they arrived. . . .together.
Murdoch had been nervous. He knew how he wanted the long-awaited reunion
to be. In his mind, he could see his two sons reaching out to their
long-lost father, and could see his two boys as accepting each other as brothers
immediately. But he knew, in his heart, it wouldn’t be that way.
And he was right.
When he saw his sons for the first time, Murdoch was taken aback. All
he could see were their mothers. The tall, pale, blonde Scott.
The dark, fiery Johnny. But then, he saw two young men; both handsome
in their own right, both alike but yet, so different. He wanted to
grab them both, to hug them tightly and never let them go, to tell them he
loved them and missed them. But he knew he couldn’t. After all,
they weren’t children. They were adults. And they were confused.
Scott was puzzled as to his father’s lack of communication over the years,
and Johnny was mad . . .mad as hell at his father, his mother, the world,
and mostly, at himself.
Murdoch had slightly feared his youngest son at that first meeting, noting
the coldness in his voice and most particularly, in those eyes. But
he soon ascertained it was anger and misunderstood hatred that Johnny was
possessing, and the need to play the role of ‘Johnny Madrid’ to, at
that point in time to Johnny, an unwanted father. But somewhere, in
the course of those next few days, probably through Teresa’s common sense
approach, Johnny realized things weren’t as he had been told all his life.
And somewhere, Murdoch surmised, he must of felt some loyalty, if not to
him, or to his brother, maybe to the land itself. After all, he could
of sided with Pardee, and with Johnny Madrid on his side, Pardee probably
would of won. But Johnny had chosen the side of his family, whether
out of loyalty to them or selfish reasons on his part, Murdoch wasn’t quite
sure. But whatever the reason, all he knew was his youngest son had
almost died helping him protect their land.
And Murdoch thought of the young man he watched sleep all through the long
nights and days, not knowing if he would survive his wound. He looked
so very young; maybe 15 or 16. And innocent. Nothing like the
heartless, cold-blooded gunfighter portrayed in the Pinkerton report.
That damn report. Why had Murdoch even read it? And why did he
keep it, even now, hidden away under lock and key in his desk? He couldn’t
rationalize his reasons for the report; all he knew was that this son of
his, while a stranger, had a want and a need to be something more than a
gun-for-hire; somewhere, locked inside this troubled young man, was Johnny
Lancer. And Murdoch Lancer would try, with all his heart and
soul, to help his youngest son find, and become, the kind, sensitive, and
caring young man he knew was inside of him and rid him of the cold, unfeeling,
Johnny had made
just enough noise outside of the study so that his father would hear him.
Murdoch looked up from his paperwork and saw Johnny standing in the doorway;
he knew the noise his son made was to make him aware of his presence.
Murdoch knew if Johnny didn’t want to be noticed, he wouldn’t be.
“What is it, John? Are you all right? Is you back bothering you?”
“No, I’m fine,” Johnny responded softly as he entered the study. “I
couldn’t sleep.. . . .I think I’ve slept so much the last few weeks I’m all
slept out or something. I just wondered what you were doing.”
“Oh, nothing important, nothing that can’t keep. Do you want a drink?”
Murdoch asked as he walked over and poured himself another brandy.
Johnny noticed the Old Man liked to drink, late at night, alone.
Not a good thing to drink alone, Johnny thought. “Nope. .
. I don’t know what it is, I just haven’t felt like drinking lately. . .
.maybe there’s something wrong with me,” Johnny surmised.
Murdoch smiled. “No, there’s not. I don’t think you realize how
badly you were hurt, Johnny, and you’re still recovering, and right now alcohol
probably just doesn’t appeal to you. Give yourself some time.
You’ll feel better each day.” Murdoch chuckled, “Your appetite
seems to be OK, though.”
Johnny smiled and responded dryly, “Yeah, well, I like to eat. When
I’m eating I stay out of trouble.”
Murdoch gave Johnny “the look,” one that he would come to recognize, and
see. . . .a lot.
“Johnny, sit down, please. You’re allowed to sit down without being
asked, you know.”
Or told to sit, Johnny thought. Johnny sat and wondered who would
speak next. Well, you might as well say it now, before you lose
your nerve, Johnny told himself. “Murdoch?”
A long pause, and a puzzled look by the Old Man. “Did you want something,
“No, I just, well, I just wanted to say, to tell you, well, thanks.
For what you did for me, for takin’ the bullet out of me and takin’ care
of me. I just hope I. . . .wasn’t too much trouble.”
Murdoch listened to his son, at the difficulty he was having just saying
‘thanks for taking care of me’ and he realized he probably was never really
taken care of before. And that right now, his youngest son would have
to be handled with kid gloves as to not make him any more ashamed then what
he seemed right now.
Murdoch was thoughtful
in his response to Johnny. “No, Johnny, you were no trouble.
In fact, I don’t know when I’ve been around a more quieter, non-complaining
patient. I know when I’m sick, even with a simple cold, I’m a bear.
Just ask poor Teresa.”
Then Murdoch, continuing his thoughtful manner, responded to Johnny’s verbal
thanks. “Son,” it felt good to Murdoch to say that , “you’ve already
“I did, when? I don’t remember,” Johnny inquired.
“No, I don’t suppose you would. It was after you were moved upstairs.
We got you settled, and Teresa took Scott downstairs to get him something
to eat, he was pretty upset about everything. Anyway, it was just you
and I, and you awoke for a few seconds. It was hard for you to talk,
so I gave you some water, and you thanked me then. In Spanish.
I’ll never forget it,” Murdoch caught the catch in his throat. “The
word ‘gracias’ never sounded so good.”
A small smile appeared on Johnny’s face. “Well, I really don’t remember.
. .I’m sorry. I remember some things, like you bein’ there, but I don’t remember
thankin’ you. But I’m saying it now because, well, because I
know what I’m doing now and I just want you to know. . . .that I’m grateful.
And that even though it hurt, taking the bullet out, I wasn’t afraid.
I do remember you tellin’ me I would be all right, so I knew I would be.”
Johnny shyly looked
at Murdoch. “Were you nervous, I mean, about what you were doin?”
Son, I can never admit to you that I was absolutely terrified, not of
removing the bullet, but that you might die, Murdoch thought to
himself. “Well, Johnny, I’ve taken bullets out of the backs of men before,
and it’s always a difficult thing to do. But when it’s your own. .
. .flesh and blood. . . .let’s just say, don’t put me in that position again,
Johnny knew what the Old Man was trying to say. He was scared to
death I would die. “Don’t worry, I don’t plan on gettin’ back shot
again by anybody.”
After a pause,
Johnny got up the nerve to again speak to his father. “Murdoch?”
“Yes, Johnny? You want to say something else?” Murdoch inquired,
thoughtfully, but curiously.
“Yeah, but I don’t want you to get mad at me.”
Murdoch chuckled. “Johnny, I’m not mad at you. Now what is it?”
Johnny sighed. “Well, I just wanna make sure you know what claimin’
me as your son will be like. . . .I want you to be sure you now what you’re
Murdoch listened, with some amusement as his son relayed his attributes which
Murdoch was already keenly aware of.
“I’m not the easiest person to get along with, you know. I’m stubborn,
and independent. I don’t like to be ordered around. And, it used
to be, if I didn’t like you, I’d just walk away from you,” and quietly added
“or shoot you.”
At that, Murdoch gave Johnny “the look.”
Johnny went on, “And I’m not an early riser, my days usually start around
noon. And you know I have. . . . . a past. There’s people
that would rather see me six feet under then walkin’ around.
And I’m not sure if I can let it go. I want to, sort of, but I just
don’t want anyone to get hurt because of me. . Not
Teresa, or Scott. Or you. So, I’ll understand if you ask me to
leave, and this time I’ll know why, and I won’t hate you like when I thought.
. . . well, when my mother left. All I ask is that I can keep the horse.
After all, I earned him.”
A long silence overtook the room, and Johnny wanted to crawl under the nearest
table. He couldn’t quite read the gaze his father was giving him.
Johnny was so sure Murdoch would agree that he should leave, he was already
figuring in his head how to spend the $1,000 promised to him by Murdoch.
But fathers, as it turn out, are strange and wonderful people, who can surprise
a child when said child is at a low moment.
Murdoch sighed, and slowly searched for the words to let his son know that,
although he knew it would not be easy, he wanted him to remain on Lancer.
“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. . . do you think, for one minute, if I didn’t
want you here I would of spent an hour removing that bullet from your back?
Or spent all these weeks taking care of you and worrying about you?
Not only me, but Teresa, and Scott, who was absolutely terrified of losing
you. When you were shot and I saw you fall from your horse, I thought
you were . . .gone, forever. And a part of me, well, I still have nightmares
over that. And as far as your stubbornness and independence is
concerned, I wouldn’t want you any other way. I like a person whose
not afraid to stick up for themselves or their family or friends, to say
what’s on their mind. I’m like that too, you know. I think maybe
you should consider whether you want to stay here and deal with me.
Because I’m just like you. Like father, like son.”
then turned serious. “I just always thought. . . .” Johnny’s
voice quietly trailed off in thought.
“What did you always think, son?”
“Well, she always told me that you didn’t want us anymore, and I thought
it was because I did something bad to make you hate us. I always thought
it was because. . I was. .”
Murdoch gently prodded his son to tell him what was bothering him so.
“You were what, Johnny?”
Johnny choked and held back tears as he said the word he had heard so much
throughout his life and learned to hate. “Because I was a. . .half-breed
Murdoch’s eyes began to well with tears, but he held them back as he tried
to think of the right words to say to his son. “I hope you realize
that’s not true.”
“Yeah, I do now, but try telling that to a seven-year old. I didn’t
even know what that meant, but then some older kid told me, in a not so nice
way. But he got his though, my fist in his face.” Johnny smirked
at the memory.
Murdoch tensed and his words were a little more deliberate. “Son, I
can’t tell you why your mother was so unhappy that she left. Perhaps
I wasn’t as affectionate towards her as I should have been, maybe I was preoccupied
with building the ranch, and with. . .you. I don’t think you’ll
ever understand the guilt I feel for your past, and that it’s something I’ll
always regret. I sometimes think, if I would have tried a little harder,
or searched a little longer, I might have been able to reach you before things
got out of hand for you. But you did what, I guess, you feel you needed
to do, to survive in a hostile environment. I don’t like it, and I’ll
never quite understand it. But you’re my son, my flesh and blood, and
to turn my back on you now, well, I never would. And as for your heritage,
be proud of it. I wasn’t always proud of my Scottish heritage, after
I came to this country I tried to deny it to everybody. But for good
or bad, my sons have it in them. And as for your Mexican side,
well, it will be up to you whether to use it to your advantage or not.”
Murdoch gently continued. “I don’t know how things will go between
you and I, but I would like you to try to build a relationship with your
brother, I know he wants one with you. And no matter what happens between
you and I, you should have some sort of relationship with your older brother.”
He watched as Johnny fidgeted in his chair, not really knowing what he thought
of his words. Murdoch concluded his thoughts. “For 20 years I’ve
waited for you to be back here, in this house, where you were born, where
you belong. I think both of us. . .deserve this chance
There was a silence as Johnny pondered the words, the speech, his father
had just spoken. He wasn’t sure, but somewhere in those words he thought
Johnny I love you and I’m sorry for your life and let me make it up to you
and please stay and don’t leave.
slowly, “Well, Murdoch, I guess if you’re willing, then so am I.” Then after
a short, thoughtful pause, Johnny considered his Mexican heritage.
“I guess being able to talk both Spanish and English does have its advantages.”
He relayed a story, more to himself then to Murdoch, but the Old Man listened
curiously. “I remember once, I was in a cantina and these two pretty
Mexican senoritas were talking about some good-looking ‘gringo’ and
what they would like to do with him. Then I realized they were talking
about me, in Spanish of course. They were really embarrassed when I
went up to them and in Spanish told them they could do whatever they wanted
with me.” Johnny chuckled at the memory; Murdoch, well, he gave Johnny
“the look,” again.
the subject, quickly. “And as for Scott, well, I think he’s OK,
for a dandy, anyway. ‘Sides, I let him tease me, want him to feel important
you know.” As he rose from his chair, Johnny shyly looked at
his father, his Old Man, and for the first time a little bit of ‘Johnny Lancer’
made himself known. “Murdoch, remember when we first met, and I told
you I didn’t need anybody? To look after me, I mean?”
Murdoch, hiding a small smile, simply replied, “Yes, I do.”
“Well, maybe I do need somebody. . . sometimes. I’ve been known to
be a bit . . . .reckless,. . . . at least that’s what my mother used to tell
me.” The look on Johnny’s face let Murdoch know that while Johnny was
still his own person, he, like everyone, needed guidance, and understanding,
and love. Murdoch smiled, and nodded approvingly.
Then, as an afterthought, Johnny asked, “What time is the judge coming
with the paperwork for us to sign?”
“He’ll be here at 9:00 in the morning,” Murdoch responded.
Johnny wryly said, “Good. That means I don’t have to be up at the crack
Murdoch laughed. “Well, it’s a good thing you’ve done so much sleeping
lately. Come Monday, you and Scott will have a rude awakening. . .
.like at 5:00. . . .a.m. Are you still sure you want to stay?”
Murdoch asked, laughing.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Johnny replied, a little more serious then Murdoch
Having said what he had to say, and hearing what he wanted to hear, Johnny
felt it was time to end this meeting with this man, his father. “Well,
I’m goin’ on up to bed. I’ll see you in the mornin. Good
“Good night, son. Rest well,” Murdoch replied.
As Johnny left his fathers study, Murdoch could only hope Johnny knew how
much he wanted him here—at Lancer. And Murdoch knew he would always
be a little more protective of Johnny, though he would try not to let it
show. As he himself rose from his desk and walked to his bedroom, Murdoch
Lancer worried for his youngest son. And prayed for him. And
Johnny entered his room and removed
his boots and shirt. He kept on his jeans and laid on his bed, thinking
again about what was to happen in the morning. Yeah, he was sure now.
He was doing the right thing, signing the partnership agreement. A
chill went through his body and he grabbed the quilt at the edge of his bed
and brought it up around him, covering him completely. It sure did
feel safe and warm, totally engulfed by the soft, warm quilt. As his
body relaxed and Johnny drifted toward sleep, many thoughts went through
his mind. And they were good thoughts. For the first time in
a long time, Johnny Madrid, no, Johnny Lancer, knew he could fall asleep
and sleep deeply and peacefully, without the thoughts of being awoken
to, well, who knows what, or who, might want to do him harm. And as
his last thoughts before sleep, he said a silent goodnight to his brother,
“Sleep well, Scott. . .you’ve earned it too.” And to his father.
“Good night, Papa, you’ve paid your dues as well.” And at that, Johnny
And, for that one night anyway, all was well at the Lancer empire.