(A Scott/Johnny Relationship Story)
Ten days after Pardee is defeated and Johnny is shot.
The story of the day Scott and Johnny formed their special bond.
. . . .
breakfast dishes had been cleared, but Murdoch Lancer was still seated at the
kitchen table, pondering his youngest son.
angry with him. And worried as hell
about him at the same time.
along with Scott, his oldest son, Teresa, his ward, and Maria, his
housekeeper/friend, had spent the
past ten days taking care of Johnny when he was so ill after bearing the brunt
of Pardee’s madness--a bullet in the back.
The family, but mostly the Lancer patriarch, had sat with Johnny through
his fever, his hallucinations, and most of all, his fears.
But with lots of tender loving care, and the care of Dr. Sam Jenkins,
Johnny had improved by the early part of the week and was up and around,
although a bit on the tired side. But
Murdoch was pleased with his progress.
Jenkins had seen Johnny on Wednesday, a week after being shot, and advised him
that if he continued doing well, his stitches could be removed in a few days. Johnny was elated.
As they were beginning to pull and itch, the young gunfighter couldn’t
wait to have them removed.
downfall began on Thursday, Murdoch remembered.
Johnny was becoming moody and insolent, not only with him and Scott, but
to Teresa and Maria as well, which Murdoch found totally unacceptable.
He wouldn’t eat; it
wasn’t as if he refused to, just said he was full after eating a few bites.
And he slept. All the time. For someone who was so anxious to get out in the spring
sunshine earlier in the week, Murdoch became worried when Johnny insisted he
wanted to be in his room. Alone. And
yesterday, when Murdoch kindly suggested to Johnny that he help instruct Scott
in the fine art of lassoing at the corral, Johnny did so.
Reluctantly. And after 20
minutes of watching the blonde Bostonian try his hardest at the difficult task,
Johnny told Scott to “give it up Boston, go back east to your fancy houses and
easy life. You’ll never make it
out here,” to which Johnny marched to his room and stayed
for the rest of the day. And
looked at his timepiece and was glad that Dr. Jenkins would be here soon.
Johnny’s appointment was scheduled for 10:00, and Dr. Jenkins was very
punctual. As he walked into the
great room, Murdoch was upset at what he saw.
His son laid on the couch, apparently asleep.
He was minus his gun belt, which didn’t bother Murdoch in the least,
but he was also without his regular belt.
His shirt was half in and half out of his pants, and he wore his socks
but no boots. Johnny had told him wearing his boots hurt his back.
Well, that Murdoch could understand.
son’s unkempt appearance, from his three-day old beard to his dark, thick hair
that hadn’t been combed in days, struck Murdoch right in his soul.
If the boy was just acting like a pain in the ass, he was doing a good
job at it. But if he wasn’t, if
there was something wrong that he or Dr. Jenkins hadn’t noticed. . . .
up to the sofa and asked Johnny, “Are
you awake, Son?”
am now,” Johnny mumbled.
Sam will be here soon,” Murdoch advised.
what do you want me to do? Stand up
and dance? Just let me know when he
gets here, I’ll be ready. Now let
me sleep,” Johnny angrily said.
point, Murdoch wanted to bend over and ring his sons neck.
How selfish and uncaring you are, he thought about his son. After
all we’ve done for you. But then he noticed the dark circles around Johnny’s eyes,
and the expression on the young man’s face.
It wasn’t anger he saw. Or
fear. Or even pain. It was a look of. . . .sadness.
Murdoch had to stop the urge he had to bend over and gently rub his son’s
dark, thick hair. . . . .
stepped out to the front of the house, and like clockwork, Sam Jenkin’s buggy
entered under the Lancer arch. Murdoch
watched him ride up, and Sam greeted Murdoch cheerily as he exited his buggy.
morning, Murdoch. It’s a
beautiful morning, isn’t it?”
Sam. Yes, it is a nice day,”
Murdoch responded, the look on his face caught by Sam.
our patient?” Sam asked, becoming concerned.
just don’t know. I’m worried
about him. The last two days have
been awful,” Murdoch stated.
Murdoch?” Sam asked, now very concerned.
it started Thursday. He just. .
.doesn’t seem to care. He’s
insolent, snapping at everybody, including Teresa and Maria.
And he doesn’t want to do anything.
Except sleep. He hasn’t
shaved, and I don’t think he’s combed his hair or washed up since
Wednesday.” After a pause,
Murdoch observed, “I may not know my son very well, but one thing I can bet
on. . . .Johnny isn’t the type to let himself go.
To become so--so uncaring about himself.
Particularly his appearance.”
his eating?” Sam asked,
not. Can’t get him to eat a
thing. I think he wants to, says
he’s hungry, but after a few bites, he just, well, says he’s full.”
puzzled. “He seemed fine on
Wednesday. Any fever?”
that I can tell,” Murdoch informed. “Do
you think he could have an infection somewhere, his stitches maybe?”
considered this. “It’s
possible, Murdoch. Maybe in the
incision itself. I’ll take a look
at him, talk to him. I’ll find
out what his problem is,” the kind doctor reassured.
course,” Murdoch conceded, “he could just be plain selfish.
Being a pain in the. . . .” He
didn’t complete his thought.
and Sam entered the great room. Johnny
sat on the couch, his knees up to his chest, his arms wrapped around his knees,
and his left cheek resting on his knees.
Doc,” he said. “You ready for
John. You ready to get those stitches out?”
been ready. Let’s go.”
noticed the look of worry on Murdoch’s face, and gave him a reassuring look. “I’ll get to the bottom of it,” he said as he followed
Johnny up the stairs to his room.
knew the routine. He took off his
shirt and held out his right arm, while Sam checked his pulse.
Then Johnny watched as Sam opened his medical bag, or as Johnny called
it, “his magic bag of tricks,” and removed his stethoscope.
small talk as he questioned Johnny about how he felt.
“You doing all right, John? Sleeping all right?”
Sir,” Johnny answered, truthfully. All
I want to do, he sighed.
your appetite back? You’re eating
okay?” Sam asked.
Johnny lied. How come I’m not
hungry, Doc? Johnny wanted to ask.
Jenkins first checked Johnny’s heartbeat, and his chest and lungs.
He then placed the stethoscope on Johnny’s back and had him breathe
deeply three times. Everything
sounds great. No sign of congestion
or infection there, Dr. Jenkins summarized.
checked Johnny’s throat. A throat
infection earlier in the week had caused Johnny some discomfort, but his throat
looked good today.
Still a little scratchy, but much better,” Johnny answered truthfully.
At least my throat doesn’t hurt like it did, he thought.
good doctor checked his patients’ eyes and ears.
Everything looks great, Sam
headaches or anything?” he asked Johnny.
Johnny answered truthfully, and a bit puzzled.
began to lay on his stomach, assuming Dr. Jenkins would begin removing the
stitches from his back.
to check your stomach next, Johnny, so lay on your back please,” Sam advised.
puzzled. “Why? My stomach’s
fine. I was back shot,
‘member?” he asked in a wondering tone.
but I need to check everything today. I
examined your stomach before, you just slept through those exams,” he lied.
Sam wanted to make sure that nothing was going on with Johnny’s stomach
to cause his lack of appetite.
Johnny responded. You didn’t
look at my stomach the last time you were here, he wanted to say, but
you lower your pants, please, Son, just below your hips?”
so, and closed his eyes as Dr. Jenkins pushed on his lower tummy, around his
appendix, and up each side until he came back to his naval, at which point,
Johnny flinched. “O-o-oh!”
that hurt?” the doctor asked, frowning.
Johnny replied, a bit amused. “That’s
my. . . tickle spot,” he answered, shyly.
Now I know your weakness,” Sam laughed.
“All right, now you can lay on your stomach.”
turned over on his stomach and placed his arms under the pillow, his face almost
buried in it.
will pinch and be a little uncomfortable, but these stitches will be out in a
few minutes,” Sam advised.
know,” came a muffled voice from the pillow.
“I’ve taken stitches out myself, more than once,” Johnny said.
bet you have, Son, Sam sadly thought, having noted
the many scars on Johnny’s young, strong body.
Murdoch Lancer sewed up his son after removing Pardee’s bullet from him ten
days earlier, he ensured that the wound would not be easily ripped open, for Dr.
Jenkins had to tug and pull a little harder than normal, causing some discomfort
for Johnny. But he took his time as
he made sure each suture was removed entirely, that nothing was left in the
wound, and that there was no sign of infection.
Jenkins was pleased at the result. Johnny’s
injury was healing beautifully. The
area of the wound was pink, and in time would heal to Johnny’s natural skin
color. And, for once, would hardly leave a scar on the young man’s back.
some pressure on the area, and Johnny just about went through the roof.
“Ow!” he yelled.
Johnny,” Dr. Jenkins said. “It
will be a bit tender for awhile.”
don’t plan on pokin’ around back there to see if it is,” Johnny shot back.
couldn’t help but laugh.
cleaned up the blood droplets that occurred from the tugging to remove the
stitches, and placed a small piece of gauze over the wound, he considered his
patient. From all accounts, Johnny Madrid was healing beautifully.
While he would still be restricted on any physical exertion, or heavy
ranch work, he could begin to take short walks around the ranch.
But what he needed to do the most was eat.
And get outside, into the sunshine.
And begin to get to know this family of his.
you’re healing nicely. But you
still need to take it easy for a few weeks. You can take short walks, and I
don’t see any problem with starting those exercises on your left arm I showed
you the other day, since the stitches are out.
And be sure to eat, keep up your strength.”
can I ride?” Johnny asked, his voice laced with hope.
sorry, Johnny. It will be at least
another week yet, and then, only at a slow pace,” Sam answered thoughtfully.
He knew how important it was for Johnny to be back in the saddle, but his
wound had a long way to go before it was entirely healed.
stitches are out,” Johnny protested.
John, but your muscles and nerves still need to heal. . . .”
at the despondent face of the young
man in front of him and for the life of him, couldn’t get a handle on what was
wrong with Johnny. He thought
about his exam with him three days earlier.
Although Johnny was hardly a chatterbox, he was pleasant, and laughed at
Sam’s bad jokes.
Johnny was a different story. Murdoch
was right. It was almost as if the
boy had stopped caring.
doctor pondered his patient, Johnny spoke.
“Doc, before you leave, could you please close the drapes?
I’m tired and the sun is hurting my eyes.”
angered Sam. There was absolutely
no physical reason why Johnny should be acting this way.
Maybe Murdoch was right; the young gunfighter was being a pain.
And not in the back, either.
his medical equipment in his bag and angrily closed it.
He considered leaving the drapes open, but decided against it.
exited the darkened room and
stepped out into the bright hallway, Dr. Sam Jenkins closed the door and paused.
He had promised Murdoch Lancer some answers regarding Johnny’s
condition, and he knew the gruff rancher would be waiting for them.
But the good doctor was at a total loss.
thinking about his patient. There’s
no physical reason for him to be acting like this, when suddenly, like a lightning bolt, it hit him.
Well of course, physically Johnny’s doing great.
But what about. . . . .emotionally?
Dr. Jenkins needed a place to think.
He found a chair in Teresa’s sewing room, and pondered his patients
physical, as well as emotional, well being.
minutes later, Sam Jenkins entered the great room, ready to discuss Johnny’s
condition. He had a diagnosis, and
what he hoped would be a solution for Johnny’s emotional
and Scott were anxious when Sam entered the great room.
“Scott,” Sam greeted.
morning, Sir,” the polite Bostonian replied.
interjected. “Well Sam, how is he?”
checked him out thoroughly and everything is fine.
His wound is healing beautifully, there’s no sign of any infections.
He’ll still need to take things moderately, no heavy ranch work
Murdoch. Not yet.”
As an aside, Sam teased Murdoch. “I’ll
tell you what, when you put stitches in a man, you mean them to stay in there
for life. I had a hell of a time removing them.”
didn’t want them to rip open,” Murdoch softly defended.
“So, he’s all right?” he then questioned.
hesitated. “Physically, yes. However. . . . .” After a pause, Sam continued.
“Murdoch, I think Johnny may be suffering from. . . .depression.”
Murdoch bellowed. “What in blazes does that mean?”
Murdoch, calm down and let me explain,” Sam stated.
Johnny. . . .crazy?” Murdoch asked.
course not. But the boy has been
through. . .hell the past several weeks. I
know it’s been tough on all of you, but you have to consider everything
Johnny’s gone through.”
Jenkins got the word he was needed at Lancer the day of the raid, he had another
patient to tend to, so it took him a few hours to get there.
When he finally arrived and tended to Johnny, it was quite late, so he
stayed at Lancer for the night. It
was then that Murdoch had explained to the good doctor what he and his family
had been through the past days, and told him about Johnny as well.
Being rescued from the firing squad, and learning the truth about his
mother. And right now, in order to
help Murdoch Lancer understand his son’s depressed state, Sam relayed the same
information to him, so he could hear it with his own ears, and understand
Johnny’s state of mind.
and Scott listened intently as Sam explained.
“He was rescued from a firing squad within a minute of death and told
his father, whom he believed to be the
bearer of all his misfortune in life, would give him $1,000 for one hour of his
time. So he came,
found out he had a brother, and learned that his father had more wealth
than he could imagine. Then he was,
literally, thrown into the middle of a land war with an old
friend-slash-adversary, and he had to decide where his loyalties lay.
Then he was seriously shot, with a difficult recovery that will last for
several weeks yet.”
noticed that Murdoch was beginning to comprehend what Johnny had actually
Sam continued, “and perhaps the most significant thing, is Johnny finding out
that his life was basically a. . .lie. Realizing
that his mother lied to him about. . .you,” looking at Murdoch, “and I
don’t think he’s quite come to terms with that yet.
And I’m sure,” Sam continued, “that right now, Johnny feels like a
trapped animal. He’s fiercely independent, used to doing what he wants, when
he wants, and, although you all mean well, right now he just feels. . .trapped.
He’s not in control, and he doesn’t like it.”
see the sadness in both Murdoch and Scott’s eyes.
He continued. “Johnny is a
strong young man, both physically and mentally.
But the mind, like the body, can only take so much, and right now, he’s
dealing with things the best way he knows how.
To withdraw from anything and anyone that could cause him. . .hurt.”
doctor paused, and said, almost to himself, “I’ve just about forgotten one
of the most important things they taught us in medical school.
That in order for a person to heal, the body and mind must be as one.
And right now, Johnny’s mind and body are not one.”
sighed heavily. “What can we do,
Sam? How can we help him?”
His tone was one of deep concern.
Johnny needs to feel independent, in control, and he needs to be doing something
he truly enjoys. And from the talks
I’ve had with him, I know how he feels about riding. It’s his
passion. As a matter of fact,
he asked me just today when he could ride again, and when I told him not until
next week, he became more depressed. And
although physically, I don’t think it’s the best thing, I’m going to allow
it anyway. I’m going to allow
Johnny to begin riding, today. But
only at a slow pace, and for no more than 20 minutes, with a stop during that 20
think that’s wise, Sam?” Murdoch inquired.
hesitated. “Yes, if Johnny
behaves and listens to my instructions, and doesn’t do anything foolish, he
should be fine. If he does all
right, he can continue short rides tomorrow, two or three times a day, depending
on how he feels, at 20 minute intervals. This
will get him back in the saddle and allow him to do something he truly loves.
And will get him out in the fresh air and sunshine, so he won’t be so
inclined to withdraw. Does that sound all right to you, Murdoch?”
want him to get better. If you
think this will help, then yes. I’ll
certainly allow it.”
course,” Sam said, eyeing Scott, “he’s going to need someone to ride with
him. Physically, he’s still quite weak, and if something should
happen, well, he’ll need someone with him. . ..”
“Me?” Scott asked. I’ve
been working on this ranch since the raid, cleaning it up, and riding along side
Murdoch the past four days. I was
hoping to have a day to myself, to read and to write my grandfather, he
thought, a bit annoyed. “Well, I
kind of had plans for today. . . .”
still early Scott,” Dr. Jenkins advised.
“It won’t take more than an hour, if that.
And you’ll be helping your brother.”
glanced over at Murdoch, and the look the older man gave to his blonde-haired
son was all Scott needed. “All
right. When do we leave?”
explained his diagnosis to Johnny, the young gunfighter was not happy.
ain’t crazy!” he emphatically proclaimed.
assured him of course he wasn’t; that he’d been through a lot and his mind
was injured like his body was. Although
Johnny didn’t fully understand, he relented.
If they want to think I’m crazy, then let them, he sighed.
Johnny was informed of Sam’s decision to let him ride, a spark was ignited
inside him and the charming smile and sparkle surfaced on his face for the first
time since he’d been shot.
minutes later, Scott and Johnny were ready to ride.
Scott had packed some sandwiches and filled the canteens, and Johnny
shaved and cleaned up. He looked a
lot better. Murdoch and Sam had
stood by as Johnny got on his horse, slowly, but the young gunfighter wasn’t
about to let two older men help him up.
a slow, short ride. You may want to
stop for a few minutes, enjoy some of the scenery.
Just take it easy,” Dr. Jenkins instructed.
worry, Doc. We’ll be fine. Won’t let nothin’ happen to ol’ Boston, here,” Johnny
and Sam laughed. Scott wasn’t
Doc,” Johnny called. “I take
back everything I thought about you. I
guess you’re a pretty good doctor after all,” Johnny teased.
John,” Sam laughed.
and Johnny rode off, Murdoch looked at them both, and Sam could see a hint of
pride in his face.
good boys, Murdoch. Both of
them,” Sam told his friend.
know,” Murdoch softly replied. “And
you, Sam, are a miracle worker. Did
you see the change in Johnny in just that short of time?”
I think my idea will work. I
think he’ll be fine Murdoch. Just.
. .don’t push too much. Either
one of them,” Sam advised.
just stared at his friend.
FIRST RIDE. . . .
Scott Lancer and Johnny Madrid
began their ride, and each had their own feelings toward the man riding beside
annoyed. In the first place, he
didn’t want to be here. His plans
for the day were interrupted because of. . .Johnny.
Just like they’d been from the beginning, when the conversation he had
planned with his father that first day were put aside because of the presence of
another person in the room. His
Scott had mixed feelings about the young man.
He had been truly concerned and worried for Johnny’s well-being when he
was sick, and prayed he would recover. And
his thoughts turned to when he saw his brother shot before him, and the feeling
of protectiveness that made him endanger himself to rescue Johnny.
past week, as Johnny seemed to be improving, the two had shared some interesting
games of checkers and chess. Johnny
won at checkers, Scott won at chess. But
Johnny blamed his tiredness for that. And
Scott didn’t disagree; Johnny did seem to have a good knowledge of the game.
His problem was he kept falling asleep halfway through.
there was yesterday, at the corral, when Johnny was so miserable at Scott for no
apparent reason. And even now, with
all that Sam had said, Scott wondered if Johnny was really troubled, or just
trying to get attention.
so, Scott felt that with time and patience, he could truly come to understand,
and maybe even like, his younger brother. But
there was still one thing that bothered him.
And he knew that for any kind of relationship to work between he and
Johnny, Scott needed some questions answered.
thought about Scott as well. There
was so much more to the blonde-haired man than he would of thought. Scott could ride and shoot.
And truth be told, it was the Boston dandy who actually shot Pardee, while the great gunfighter had missed
at the top of the hill. But Johnny
knew his efforts had been at shooting Colley instead, and he wondered, deep
down, whether he really wanted Pardee dead, since he had at one time been a
friend. But then the pain in his
back left from the bullet made him realize he was glad that Scott had done
had told Johnny how Scott had run out to him, and helped him back to the house.
Murdoch told Johnny he was ‘helped;’ it wasn’t until later, when
one of the vaqueros told Johnny that Scott ‘carried’ him to the house, that
he knew the truth. Johnny
felt a soft spot for his Old Man for trying to keep his dignity, by not telling
him he was carried home like a sack of potatoes over his brothers’ shoulder.
didn’t matter, because Johnny’s memory of the incident was very fuzzy. His last clear memory of that day was at the top of the hill,
when he told Pardee to get off his land. And
of Barranca hurdling over the
second fence. After that, a sharp
pain. And the distant memory of
seeing Scott above him, saying something. Then,
nothing, until he awoke in his bed, with Murdoch gently
telling him to “drink this, Johnny.
You’ll feel better.”
clearest memory Johnny had of his
brother was the hard right hook Scott placed on his face at the creek the day
before the raid. So it was
understandable that Johnny might not of thought too favorably of his older
brother. At least, not yet.
riders came to the end of the path, with three ways to go.
To the left, the south pasture, to the right, the creek, and straight
ahead, open range. A range that was
calling out Johnny and Barranca’s name.
And Scott knew it.
even think about it,” Scott warned as he eyed his brother.
about what?” Johnny innocently asked.
that horse into that open range. If
you fall, or get hurt, I’ll get the Wrath of Murdoch.
And I don’t really want to hear that,” Scott forcefully advised.
blame you. I wouldn’t wish that
on my worst enemy,” Johnny stated in an understanding tone.
“So, which way do we go? You
know this place better than I do. After
all, you’ve been riding with the Old Man all week, while I sat up in that. . .
. prison,” Johnny whined.
back a smile. “Well, that way is
the pasture. Nothing much there,
unless you like cows. That way,
well, that’s the creek. We could
go there, sit if you like.”
creek?” Johnny questioned.
Do you have a problem with that?”
Lead the way,” Johnny answered.
arrived and Scott jumped off his horse and walked it to the creek for a drink. Johnny was much slower getting down. Scott thought about helping, but decided to wait and act only
if Johnny requested help, which he didn’t.
But still, big brother kept a watchful eye over his newly-discovered
horses were tethered and grazing, Johnny walked down to the edge of the creek.
He viewed the beauty of his surroundings, and took it all in—the fresh
air, the warm sun, the total freedom he felt.
Scott stood next to his brother, and could feel the contentment and pure
pleasure radiating from Johnny.
didn’t realize it was this pretty here. Guess
I didn’t notice it the other day,” Johnny said.
we had. . .other things. . .on our minds at the time,” Scott commented.
know,” Johnny said flatly. After
a pause, he said, “Boston, you sure throw a good right hook.
Almost knocked a tooth loose.” After
another pause, he added, “
‘Course, I don’t think I deserved it.”
stared at his brother. “Well,
maybe not, but at the time I thought you did.
But I did apologize, if you remember.”
that a true apology, or was it just because Teresa was there?”
Johnny asked, eyebrows raised.
. .a . . .little of both I guess, but you sure didn’t accept it,” Scott shot
had much of a reason to accept apologies before.
But if it means anything, I accept it, under the circumstances,” Johnny
it means anything else,” Johnny said, slowly, “I wanted to help you that
day, but, well, I guess you know why I didn’t.
‘Sides, you were doin’ pretty good at taking care of yourself anyway,
Boston. But if the need arose,
where I thought you were really in trouble, I would’ve helped you, would’ve
thought of something to tell ol’ Day’s boys,” Johnny said, sincerely.
know,” Scott said quietly. Then
he smiled and said, “Thanks.”
out of the way, a heavy sigh came from both young men.
Scott sat down on the edge of the creek, and Johnny plopped down next to
him. He removed his boots and socks, went to the edge of the creek,
and began wading.
are you doing?” Scott asked.
Johnny answered, flatly.
don’t get too wet,” Scott advised. “You
just got over being sick and you don’t need to get a cold or anything. That water was like ice the other day when I washed off in
stared at his brother, a trace of exasperation on his face.
“Boston,” he drawled, “I got back shot, I didn’t have pneumonia.
‘Sides, this water’s as warm as bath water now.
Here, feel for yourself,” and at that began splashing Scott, a little
at first, but then harder.
not amused. “Stop it, Johnny. I don’t want to be splashed.”
splashed all the harder. “Don’t
be such a stick in the mud, Boston. Have
a little fun!”
don’t want to be splashed, Johnny. Please.
Stop it,” Scott firmly requested.
he wasn’t going to get any reaction from Scott, Johnny stopped the splashing.
“You need to loosen up, Boston. Thought
that’s what I’m supposed to be doin.’
I think you’re the one that’s depressed, not me.”
you keep calling me ‘Boston?’ “ Scott asked, annoyed.
you prefer I call you. . . .’Scotty?’ “ Johnny teasingly asked as he made
his way back to Scott and sat down next to him, a wicked smile on his face .
you know about that?” a surprised Scott asked.
told me,” Johnny answered matter of fact.
told me a lot of things, Boston. You
all did. When you thought I was
asleep,” Johnny informed.
playing possum?” Scott shot back.
Johnny answered slowly and seriously. “Wish
I had been, though. See, I remember
lying there, being able to hear
everybody, but not being able to move. Or
talk. Guess it was all that damn
laudanum y’all gave me. I wanted
to talk to you, but. . .when I went to talk, nothing happened.
And sometimes I would sleep for a few minutes, then wake up and I still
couldn’t move, but y’all were talkin’ to me, tryin’ to get me to react,
and you all seemed so sad. I
thought that’s how I would end up, spend the rest of my life like that. And I remember thinking it was probably my punishment. . .for
things I’ve done. . . .”
remembered how worried he had been when Johnny just stared at him, with pleading
eyes, and didn’t move or speak. He
wondered if he was able to hear him, so he spoke to him.
He told him stories about Boston, about college.
About the war. About how he
hated the nickname “Scotty.” Just
in case his brother could hear him, Scott wanted him to know he cared.
And Johnny had heard. And
I remember waking up one night, and Murdoch was rubbing my legs.
I must of got up real quick, because he grabbed my shoulders and laid me
back down. He told me I had a spasm
in my leg and he was rubbing it for me. I
must of asked him if I could walk, because he told me I’d be fine. . .I’d be
riding that palomino of mine in no time. All
I know is, I wasn’t so scared anymore. . . . “ his voice drifted off.
sorry, Johnny. That must have been
really hard for you,” Scott said, and placed his hand on Johnny’s shoulder
and rubbed it, just a little.
flinched at the show of affection—at first.
But then relaxed as Scott’s hand continued to rub his upper back and
won’t call you that if it bugs you,” Johnny said.
“It’s just, I tend to tease people when I like them. . . .”
the words just flowing out of his mouth.
all right. I only let people I like
tease me,” Scott offered back.
could feel the tenseness in Johnny diminish as he continued to rub down his back
that feels really good. I’ll say
one thing, you and the Old Man give great backrubs,” Johnny laughed.
had a lot of practice,” Scott said wryly, with a wink.
looked at him, a bit surprised, and laughed.
finished rubbing Johnny’s shoulders, Johnny laid down on his stomach and
placed his arms under his head and sighed contentedly.
Scott relaxed as well, taking in the beauty that was Lancer.
After a few minutes, Scott looked at Johnny and wondered whether he was
asleep, or just resting.
Scott asked in a teasing voice.
came the mumbled reply. “The sun
feels good on my back. It’s just
so nice to be away from that house. It
gives me the creeps,” Johnny remarked.
does? Why, it’s a beautiful home.
Nothing like I’ve seen before, not even in Boston,” Scott commented,
a bit surprised at Johnny’s feeling about the beautiful hacienda.
didn’t say it wasn’t pretty. It’s.
. . .it’s just that, there’s too many ghosts there,” Johnny stated
quietly. “If those walls could
talk. . . . .” Johnny sat up and faced his brother.
her there, Scott. Her
presence. From the minute I walked in that house, I’ve thought about
my. . .mother. Haven’t thought
about her this much in years, except when I thought. . .just before the firing
squad. . . .” His voice went
her presence is there. She lived
there. She ate there, slept there,
cooked there. Made love there.
Hell, she had me there. And
I lived there, too. But I can’t
remember. . . .I try to, keep thinkin’ maybe I’ll see something that sparks
my memory. But nothin’. . . .And
when some of the hands, like Cipriano, and people like Maria, that knew her, and
knew me when I lived there before, as a baby, well, it’s just hard, Scott,”
and Johnny’s voice broke, just a little.
wanted to comfort Johnny, but he wasn’t sure how.
Didn’t know what to say. Or
what to do.
Johnny asked, “Do you feel it too, Scott?
Do you feel your mother’s presence? I mean, she lived there too” . .
. . . .
taken aback by Johnny’s questions. Honestly,
no, he didn’t feel the presence of his mother in Murdoch Lancer’s home. He didn’t even feel it in Harlan Garrett’s home, and she
had grown up there.
Johnny, I don’t,” Scott answered, slowly and quietly.
“I never knew my mother. You
can’t miss someone you didn’t know.. . . . .”
saying you don’t love your mother?” Johnny asked, a bit angered.
hesitated, as he tried to put into words the feelings he had for his mother. The gentle woman he never knew.
the physical sense, Johnny, like you love your mother.
But more in the spiritual sense. I
love the woman I’m told she was. . .beautiful and kind.
Smart. . . talented. And I
love the mother I think she would have been, had she been given the chance.
But I never felt her, Johnny. Never
felt her soft hands wipe my tears, or her sweet lips kiss me.
Never heard her voice, which I’m told was beautiful.
So I can’t love her that way, I can only love. . . .her spirit.”
Scott’s voice broke too, just a little.
considered what Scott had said, and understood better Scott’s feelings. And he thought to himself that with all the advantages Scott
had growing up, he missed out on the most important: a mother’s love.
And for all his disadvantages, Johnny did know the most important: the
love of a mother. And I thought
I was the deprived one, Johnny sadly thought.
sorry she died, Scott. I’m sure
she was a wonderful, beautiful lady,” was all Johnny could offer.
Scott replied, gratefully.
pause, Johnny asked, “Do you ever feel. . . .guilty?” and could of kicked
himself at the words that came out of his mouth.
about what?” Scott frowned.
. . .” Scott persisted.
ever feel guilty that she died. . .. having you?
I mean, I’ve always
wondered how someone felt, knowing their mother died, giving them life. . . .”
trickled down Scott’ face, then he looked at Johnny and smiled a small smile.
never have. I just accepted it as a
part of my life. I’ve always
heard that a mother would die for her child because she loves them more than
life itself. So, I guess in a way,
she died because of her love for me.”
nodded in understanding.
pause, Scott commented, “Besides,
there were circumstances. . . . .”
. . .Murdoch?” Johnny questioned.
shook his head yes. “I know what
my Grandfather told me all these years. But
I’d like to hear what Murdoch has to say.
That’s one reason why I came here.
But well, with all that’s happened, the time hasn’t been right.”
maybe he’ll tell you soon. Maybe
you should ask him,” Johnny suggested.
brothers looked at each other. And
asked Johnny, “Do you think you can come to terms with things?”
things?” Johnny asked, but knowing what Scott meant.
your mother. . . .leaving. . .Murdoch”. . . . .
his voice regretful.
don’t know if I can, Scott,” Johnny said, slowly.
“I suppose in a way I want to, accept it, ‘cause that would mean that
that he did care and that it wasn’t his fault.
But then, it would mean that she betrayed me.
She lied to me, Scott. My
own mother, who drilled into my head my whole life the sinfulness of lying.
And what the hell did she do to me?”
silently and stared at the creek, and let Johnny compose himself.
“I. .I love her. I can’t
help it, but right now. . . .I’m just so confused.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel.
Murdoch, well, he ain’t the awful man I thought he was my whole life.
He’s a bit tall, maybe,” Johnny chuckled.
Then he looked at his brother. “I
don’t know what to do. . .” Tears
flowed freely from Johnny’s eyes.
take your time. You’ve been
through a lot, and you’re still recovering.
Just let each day take care of itself.
But, you do realize you’re going to have to come to terms sometime, if
you want things to work with Murdoch?” Scott’s offer of advice as his hand
rubbed Johnny’s arm.
know,” Johnny whispered. “Believe
me, I know. . . .”
be there for you. If you ever want
to talk. Or vent. . . .” Scott
wiped his cheeks with the back of his hand, and accepted the handkerchief
offered to him by his proper brother. “I
know. . .and thanks. For this,
too,” motioning to the handkerchief.
pleasure,” came the understanding reply.
enjoyed the sandwiches that Scott had packed, and he was glad to see Johnny
eating. Johnny commented he would
have to apologize to Teresa and Maria, that he felt terrible for how he had
treated them the last few days. He
told Scott he’d apologize to Murdoch as well.
“Y’all didn’t deserve the treatment I gave you,” Johnny moaned.
all right, Brother. We understand. A man gets shot in the back, he’s allowed to be grumpy for
a few days.”
from both young men filled the air.
was done with his sandwich, Johnny began putting on his socks and boots.
“Best we get goin, Boston. Don’t
want Murdoch sending your cavalry out after us,” he laughed.
hesitated, then spoke.
there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.
And this is about as good a time as any, I guess.”
noted the seriousness in his brother’s voice.
“What is it?”
Scott paused. “It’s this. . . .gunfighting
thing,” Scott replied.
laughed. “Never quite heard it
referred to that way.” He saw the
nervousness in his brother and became puzzled.
“What do you mean?”
Scott said, “I don’t want to sound harsh. . . . .”
pause, Johnny became irritated. He
spoke, and the voice was that of Johnny Madrid.
“I don’t like people who beat around the bush, Brother. You got something to say, say it,” echoing the words he
spoke to his father at that first meeting.
the goosebumps on his arms and back as he recognized the voice of Madrid, and
wondered whether this was such a good idea.
But it was now or never; if he didn’t speak of it now, he doubted he
ever would again.
wonder how you can. . .live with yourself.
Knowing you. . .killed. . . .men. For
money.” Scott’s voice was low and sorrowful.
a long silence, as Scott pondered whether he had just ruined the bond that the
two were beginning to form.
voice was soft and low. “It’s a
profession, Scott. And I’m good
at it. And respected as well.
Never shot an unarmed man, never will.
Never backshot anyone, neither. Pardee,
he’s the kind that give gunfighter’s a bad name.”
more silence, then Johnny continued. “Every
man I’ve killed has left a mark on my soul.
Not a night goes by, just before I fall asleep, that one of them don’t
come visitin.’ But all I can tell
myself is that each fight was fair. It
was them or me. And I guess I’m
just too damn stubborn to die.”
turned to Scott, who continued to stare at the creek.
“You’ve killed before. In the war.
And the other day, killed more then me.
How do you feel?” Johnny asked coldly.
different, Johnny,” Scott stated flatly.
“I didn’t get paid for killing in the war.
And I didn’t get paid for killing Pardee.”
the war you got decorated, got a fancy title, and got your picture taken with
that Sheridan fella. And for Pardee
and his boys, well, you got 1/3 of this. . . .” and spread his arms out toward
was thick between the two men, as Scott pondered what Johnny had said, and
Johnny felt hurt by the man he was beginning to trust and like.
spoke again. “If it means
anything, I never bought anything for me with blood money.
If I wanted new boots or a new hat, or clothes, I’d earn it.
I’d get odd jobs when I could. Even
worked at a couple of ranches, til I earned enough.
But I never used blood money.”
did you do with the. . . .money?” Scott asked.
away mostly. To people that needed
it more than me. Orphanages,
churches. Course I had to leave it
in secret. I knew they would never
accept it if they knew where it came from.
And sometimes, I’d use it to spend the night in one of them fancy
hotels, and get myself a good meal. Or
I’d treat a lady real fine. But
hotels and dinners aren’t physical things.
But a man’s boots, well, I could never wear them knowing a man’s
blood is what bought them. . . .”
hesitated, then asked, “Well, if you didn’t spend the money, why did you
keep. . .doing it? I mean, why
didn’t you just stop? Just walk
doesn’t understand at all, Johnny sadly thought.
an uncomfortable silence as Johnny tried to explain to his brother exactly what
being Johnny Madrid was all about.
Johnny Madrid means that everybody thinks they own you, everybody wants
something from you,” Johnny softly, and sadly, explained.
“I’d go into a town, or sit down to have a drink, with killin’ the
furthest thing on my mind, when
suddenly, someone would challenge me. I’d
try to talk them out of it, to leave me alone, but hey, I was Johnny Madrid.
Can’t just walk away. Well,
I’d try, and I would know, just know, that someone was pullin’ out their
gun, to back shoot me. Well, I’m
fast and I’m good, and that someone, well. . .he never knew what hit him.”
afraid as Johnny spoke. But the
fear was not for himself. It was
fear for his. . . .brother.
Johnny continued, staring out at the beauty that was Lancer, “when I did hire
out to someone, I always said it would be the last time. . if I was the one left
standin.’ But it never was. The feeling it gave me, the feeling of power maybe, I’m not
sure, the feeling of respect I got from people who would otherwise look down on
me, and yeah, even the fear that people had of me, well, all those feelings made
me go on. Besides, I had nothing,
or no one, that gave me any reason to stop.”
Then slowly and quietly, he looked at his brother, with tears welling in
his eyes. “Until now.”
listened to Johnny’s words, thought about everything he had just said, and
realized just what a kind, decent man his brother really was.
And he wanted to cry for the circumstances that took Johnny away from
Lancer, and into the life he had.
didn’t cry; Johnny was not to be pitied.
But rather, respected for
the fact he was able to carry on, to possess the humor and wit he did.
And that he was willing to try at the second chance he had been given.
reverie was broken when he heard Johnny coldly ask, “Does that disgust you,
Brother? To know that you have a
half-breed gunfighter for a brother? Because
if it does, and if you want me to leave, I will.
I told Murdoch I wouldn’t stay unless everyone wanted me to.
He said it was up to him and I was staying.
But I won’t stay here if there’s any doubt.”. . . . . . .
Scott abruptly cut him off. “I. .
. .I don’t want you to leave. I
just realized how much I really care about you.
I understand better now, and I’ll never doubt you, or your past life,
again. I’m actually glad we had
this talk, because it opened my eyes. And,
if you feel like you don’t want me here, after what I thought, then I will
leave. For I will not stay unless
our family is united.”
tears, Johnny whispered, “I want you to stay.
I need you. I. . .trust
you. I know you’ll never betray
me, Scott. And that’s the most
important thing in the world to me. . . .”
out his arms to his brother in a show of acceptance, and Johnny accepted with
his arms. And for the first time,
Scott Lancer and Johnny Madrid embraced each other.
And it was good.
was formed. . . . . .
embraced, Scott gently held Johnny by the shoulders and looked into his teary,
sapphire eyes. “It feels good,
doesn’t it, Brother? To accept
somebody into your life?”
just shook his head yes. Then, in
an uneasy voice, said “It’s been so long since I’ve had anybody to care
for me. . . if ever. . .”
embraced his brother again, and gently rocked him as soft sobs came from Johnny.
“It’s all right. . . .it’s all right,” Scott soothed.
regained his composure, Johnny spoke.
“It won’t be easy, Scott. People
will find out I wasn’t killed in Mexico.
They’ll come lookin’ for me. And
if you’re with me, or Murdoch, or God forbid, Teresa.. . .” Johnny suddenly
said, sadness in his voice.
watch your back, Johnny. After all,
you watched mine,” Scott gently said.
looked at him questioningly.
don’t remember, do you? You
called out to me to look out, when Pardee was aiming at me.
I didn’t see him, if you wouldn’t of called out, I think he would of
shot me. . . .”
“No, I don’t remember that,” Johnny stated quietly.
a long time, Scott Lancer and Johnny Madrid looked out over the creek, and at
the land that was Lancer. Their
home. They didn’t speak, but
somehow, each knew that something special had occurred.
Something that both had wanted all their lives.
A friendship had been formed. A
friendship that would, in time, strengthen through hard work, laughter, tears,
and yes, disagreements. And the
friendship that was born between the blonde Bostonian and the half-Mexican
gunfighter would grow into the special bond known as Brotherhood.
know, I think I made a new friend today,” Scott smiled at Johnny.
sure you want this friend?” Johnny asked.
sure,” Scott answered confidently.
much good at havin’ friends,” Johnny mumbled.
“But, I think I might be good at havin’ you for one,” he laughed.
a few minutes, Scott spoke.
“You look tired, Brother. Think
we should head back?”
I am kind of tired,” Johnny replied. “Maybe
old Doc Jenkins was right. Maybe
I'm not quite ready to ride.. . . yet.”
made their way to their horses, and Scott paused as he watched Johnny
contemplate getting on Barranca.
some help?” he asked, gently.
thanks,” Johnny replied. Scott
gently took a hold of Johnny’s waist and gave him a gentle boost into the
saddle. Johnny winced as he
positioned himself on the golden horse.
take it slow,” Scott advised, knowing that Johnny was hurting, and knowing his
stubborn younger brother wouldn't admit it.
Brother,” Johnny laughed. And
winked. Then tipped his hat low
over his eyes.
time, Little Brother,” Scott laughed back.
they began to ride, Johnny asked, “Boston, do you think that, well, maybe in a
few days, when I'm not so tired, you might want to ride with me again?
I mean, if you don't have other plans.. . .”
chuckled. “I'd love to, Johnny. And
I was wondering if tomorrow, you could instruct me in that lasso thing.”
time Johnny chuckled. “Boston,
you sure do have a way of describin' things.
And yeah, I would love to help you.
It takes a lot of practice, and you were doing pretty good the other day.
Might of done better if I hadn't spouted out at you. . .”
Johnny’s voice was regretful.
forgotten, Johnny. I know you
didn’t feel good,” Scott
Brother,” Johnny gratefully
the two rode back to Lancer in a companionable silence, they realized that today
was the first day of the beginning of their lives.
For Scott Lancer found the kid brother he always dreamed of.
And Johnny Madrid found the big brother he so desperately wanted. . .
there would be many more rides taken by the two brothers in the years to come.
But the short ride to the creek on that warm spring day would be the one
they would cherish the most. Because
they had done it together. After
all, it was. . . .
. . . . . . .
For James and Wayne. . . .