aka A Day in the Life of Johnny
by Fliss & Lacy
We’d like to thank Liette for the story title and dedicate this to everyone who griped about the torture we put you through with our cliffhangers. Your blood lust has forced this upon us.
All the usual disclaimers. Thanks for reading.
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The window was open and a gentle breeze tugged playfully at the curtains. Early morning sunshine crept into the room, moving across Johnny’s bare torso until it reached his eyes. There it settled, gently stroking his face as a woman caresses her lover. Softy, gently, warm and seductive, the touch continued until at long last the man sighed and his eyelids lifted. Vivid blue eyes blinked slowly as awareness flooded in past the inky veil of sleep.
He didn’t jump up immediately, preferring to lie there and ponder the good life he had stumbled upon. Despite the hard work and long days, he could awaken in this soft bed, with the sweet smell of the ranch in his nostrils and the refreshing breeze covering him like a silken blanket. He had never slept in silk, couldn’t even imagine ever touching the fabric, but he was certain it had nothing on this sensation. Yawning widely, his thoughts turned unbidden to old man Jake. He had always advised Johnny to languish in the first few moments of the day, to relish the sensation of wakefulness in the spring. Johnny grinned at the thought of the old man pointing a finger at him and admonishing him to respect the welcome Mother Nature provided as the new day dawned. Never take her display for granted, he had said, because she would be displeased. And no day could bring any good if Mother Nature was angry.
So Johnny lay there, embracing the dawning of the new day, giving Mother Nature the respect she deserved and… the bawling of the cow broke into his morning ritual.
“Damn,” he moaned. Still disturbed, he raised his head and glanced toward the window. The cow had grown silent but the damage was done. His custom interrupted. Hoping it wasn’t an omen, he scooted up in the bed. Still befuddled and clumsy, he managed to bump his head on the headboard.
“Damn,” he murmured.
He reached up to rub the spot and, preoccupied by his irritation, Johnny misjudged the action and poked himself in the eye.
The plaintive cry was barely audible. His hand went alternately from the bump on his head to the aggrieved eye. He wondered idly if it would leave a bruise.
Pushing his legs over the left side of his mattress, Johnny stood up, puzzled to find himself facing the wall instead of the door. He never got up on this side of the bed. He surmised he must have hit his head harder than he thought. Mother Nature sure had a wicked sense of humor. At least he hoped she was merely amused, and not being vindictive. He had seen her at her worst and never wanted to see her that way again. Johnny had the upmost respect for MN, as he called her. Surely she wasn’t going to blame him for the bawling of a damn cow. Sighing in resignation, he padded around the bottom of the bed but suddenly his foot jerked violently off the floor.
More irritated than hurt, Johnny hobbled over to the chair by the window and sat down to pull out the offending splinter. Not much of the sliver of wood was protruding and Johnny worked hard at getting a grasp on it. Leaning right over he finally felt he had a good grip. Johnny yanked for all he was worth. In reaction his right leg shuddered and his knee hit his nose.
He felt for blood and sniffed, certain such pain had to have resulted in trauma. It hadn’t. Sighing heavily, Johnny stood and hobbled to the dresser, his foot still tender from the hurt that had been inflicted. Damn, first his head, his eye, then his foot and now his nose. The day wasn’t starting out well and somehow the sense of foreboding was growing heavier. He entertained the idea of going back to bed and starting over then remembered that Murdoch insisted he be on time for meals. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. He softly chided himself for the thoughts for which he was sure Scott would ridicule him then dipped his hands in the washbasin and rinsed his face. He looked twice at the razor before putting aside his anxiety and picking up the brush and soaping his face. Carefully grasping the razor by the handle, Johnny took a gentle sweep along one cheek. A thin ribbon of blood appeared immediately.
Frustrated by this run of events Johnny threw aside the razor, wiped the soap off his face and made the sensible decision to leave shaving for another day. He moved across the room, tentatively placing weight on his right foot. It occurred to him that putting on his pants was going to be a bit of a challenge, not being able to stand comfortably, so when he managed to hoist his trousers to his waist he was pleasantly surprised. Careless with relief, Johnny fumbled at his fly and somehow managed to button himself into the heavy fabric.
He bit back the violent expletive that pressed against his lips. Knowing Murdoch would not appreciate him going downstairs in such an exposed state, Johnny leaned forward to extricate himself from this unusual predicament. Carefully now, and slower, he rebuttoned his pants and sighed with relief. So far none of the wounds had been serious, minor irritations at most, but the growing sense of unease made him long to go back to the safety and comfort of his bed. Damn cow!
Reaching around to loosen a button he heard a ghastly ripping sound.
“Damn.” His pants were getting him from both ends.
Unfastening the troublesome buttons, Johnny shucked his trousers and flung them on the bed. He hobbled to the chest of drawers and pulled out another pair, almost identical in style. With infinite care and patience Johnny pulled on his pants and buttoned the fly. A sigh of relief crossed his lips. He threw a shirt on, not waiting to button it, and picked up his boots from where he had discarded them the night before. He sat on the chair and examined his socks. He squeezed them. He stretched them. He studied them. Certain no harm would befall him he pulled them on. He then reached for the right boot and took immeasurable care to check it before trying to work it over his sore foot. He pushed his foot in firmly and smiled at the success. Feeling secure, he then pulled on his left boot. He stood and stomped his foot into it - only to discover a sticker had worked its way down inside and was now embedded in his toe.
Aggravated, he pulled off the boot and removed the sticker. He examined the boot more carefully then proceeded to gingerly replace it. He rose tentatively and stood still in the middle of the room for a moment, taking stock of his situation. Confident nothing more could possibly go wrong he decided it was time for breakfast.
Almost to the door Johnny back tracked to his bedside table and retrieved a letter he had received the day before from an old friend. He had been meaning to share it with Murdoch and Scott and thought to take it downstairs for breakfast. As he picked it up, he felt an excruciating pain shoot through his finger.
He studied his index finger to discover the source of such agony. A paper cut was barely visible. Johnny threw himself into the chair by the table, determined to go no further until confident that his run of bad luck was at an end. He sat there sucking on his finger, only to discover he had developed a hang nail.
He drew a deep breath. Trying to distract himself from his miserable condition, he looked out the window at the ranch hands moving between corral and barn. Thinking to clear his mind of the now overwhelming feeling of impending disaster, he leaned heavily on the open window sill. Watching the work going on without him, he felt guilty about being late to breakfast but he knew he had to wait for this string of bad luck to pass. He wanted to be certain Mother Nature was not holding a grudge just because a stupid cow had inadvertently interrupted his morning ritual. Sadly, it turned out she did. At that moment the gentle morning breeze turned into a wicked gust and the window blew closed, jamming Johnny’s hand.
“Damn.” There was no mistaking the vehemence of this oath.
For some time, in the adjacent bedroom, Scott had been hearing faint noises coming from Johnny’s room. Because the words were indistinct, and though Johnny was not in the habit of talking to himself, Scott dismissed it until he heard this latest oath. It occurred to him now that that curse was precisely what he had been hearing all morning. Intrigued more than bothered, Scott left his room to see what was happening with his brother.
Meanwhile Johnny had come to the conclusion that his bedroom was probably not the best place to spend the day. Sucking on his hand, limping heavily, he made his way to the door. He had some difficulty turning the knob and felt a small inclination to panic creeping into his thinking. He finally gave the doorknob a yank and Scott came stumbling into his room. Having the door suddenly freed resulted in Johnny being hit in the head in the process.
“Damn.” The moan was soft and pitiful.
Scott opened his mouth to speak but Johnny held up a hand and forestalled him. Then, rubbing his head, sucking his thumb, and limping, Johnny led Scott downstairs and on to a desperately needed breakfast.
As they entered the room, Johnny, still limping, lost his balance and lurched into the grandfather clock, both bashing his shoulder and stubbing his toe.
Murdoch looked up at the noise, ready to admonish Johnny for his language despite the plaintive tone. He opened his mouth but before he could speak the look on Johnny’s face, the fierce glare in his eye and the warning finger he raised left Murdoch puzzled enough to hold his tongue. He shot a baffled look at his older son who answered with a slight shake of his head.
Johnny moved to his chair. He stood back a step, scrutinizing it from every viewpoint. He reached out a hand and tentatively shook it. Emboldened by the lack of response he then rocked it back and forward and side to side. He rested a hand on the seat and pushed down before finally, hesitantly, sinking into it. For a moment he didn’t move, as if waiting for something to happen. All the while his father and brother looked on curiously.
Holding very still and moving only his right arm, Johnny reached for the coffee pot. When the handle didn’t break off Johnny carefully tipped the pot ever so slightly until a thin trickle of coffee made its way into his cup. Just as carefully Johnny righted the pot and placed it back on the table - well out of reach. A small smile of victory curved his lips. Reaching for his cup, he stopped, arm hovering in mid-air. The cup was from Teresa’s favorite set. It was a delicate, dainty thing, hardly fitting for a man’s clumsy grasp. The smile faded as he swallowed hard. He took a cleansing breath and summoned up the courage and confidence to take a sip. He picked up the cup, and watched as it clattered back into the saucer, the burn on his finger hurting a little less than the fear he had broken Teresa’s cherished possession.
“Damn.” He was careful to mouth it under his breath, keen to maintain Murdoch’s approbation.
Discarding the idea of coffee, Johnny instead looked to the food on his plate. The bacon was tempting. He wouldn’t even need to risk touching his knife to eat it. Salivating, he picked up one small sliver and placed it in his mouth, moving his tongue gently over it to ensure there were no rough edges that could cause him injury. Once certain it was safe he bit down on the meat - and bit his tongue instead.
“Damn.” The mouth full of food garbled the word enough for Murdoch to overlook it.
Miserable, but now committed to responding to his growling stomach, Johnny swallowed the bacon and looked instead at the scrambled eggs on his plate. He considered the fork at his left side but instead opted for the spoon. He scooped a small mouthful of eggs onto the spoon and tipped it into his mouth. He didn’t chew immediately, just held it there waiting for something to happen. He sucked a little, to get a taste of it, but it went down the wrong way and he found himself choking. Unable to ask for help, unable to breathe even, he felt immense gratitude when Scott started thumping him on the back. With an explosive cough, a small yellow mass landed on the tablecloth and both men stood there panting.
Murdoch leapt up to ensure Johnny was all right - just as Johnny turned to make his way back up to bed, determined to get out on the right side before any further accident befell him. Yet somehow father and son collided and Johnny bounced off Murdoch. He was pleased it had resulted in nothing worse than a bruised ego.
Again holding up one hand to forestall any comment, Johnny turned to go back up the stairs. Half way up the loud footfalls indicated he had tripped and another plaintive cry was heard.
“What was all that about?” Murdoch asked Scott. “What’s wrong with your brother?”
“You don’t want to know,” replied Scott.
With that an almighty crash was heard.
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Ha ha - no cliffhanger this time. It’s really