Synopsis: Missing scene from Blind Man’s Bluff
A father holds vigil over his son, purported to be an evil and dangerous gunman, but sees nothing of the sort.
Author’s note: I have written several stories in the Magnificent Seven fandom (Vin Tanner) and The Big Valley fandom (Heath Barkley). This is my first attempt at writing fanfiction in the Lancer fandom. I couldn’t quite remember the show, but after recently watching a few episodes, I have fallen in love with the Johnny Lancer character and especially love the father/son dynamic, as well as, the brother dynamic. I was completely captivated by the gentle soul of Johnny Lancer so wonderfully portrayed by James Stacy.
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Murdoch Lancer looked down at his youngest son and his heart clenched. A white bandage covered the boy’s eyes, stark against his hair, the color of raven. He had sent his son out into the night without qualm, never thinking it would ever come to this. Blind. His boy blinded. Life was capricious and often cruel, especially to Johnny Madrid Lancer.
It had been nearly twenty years since he had Johnny in his life, but even so, he could still see the toddler in the young man. The easy, full smile, the eyes, so blue, so expressive, his soul laid bare, for him, Murdoch Lancer, his father. He had turned away from it more times than not, the emotions too raw, too overwhelming. The capacity of love his child had for him and his brother, Scott, astonished Murdoch most days. The stink of border towns, the ugly stories left unsaid, had not tamped down or destroyed Johnny’s goodness and Murdoch gave thanks to God for that each day’s end and morning’s rise.
He moved closer to the sick bed heaped with pillows and quilts and watched as his son slept. Shortly after the return of his two boys, Murdoch had come across Johnny’s favorite blanket and a few toys packed away by the housekeeper, Maria, so many years ago. He had felt foolish, self-conscious with sentiment, but his love for Johnny, the child torn from his heart, had spurred him forward.
Although it had been several days since the clear-cut moment when he had covered Johnny with the blanket, it remained bright and vivid in him as a lightning strike. The long, graceful fingers, at first tentative, had run the length of the small coverlet while a shy smile had played at the corners of his mouth and then growing full-blown, his dark head tilted, questioning. Murdoch had laughed and had sworn he had seen a spark of recognition, a memory, in the slightly furrowed brow, the smile. All Murdoch had known in that moment was he loved this boy, this man-child, this wild son of his. So overwhelmed, he hadn’t been able to speak for a time, only able to grab hold of Johnny’s hand when his boy had reached out to him.
It was still the sweetest voice to his ears, like music, like his mother’s. Maria was beautiful, tempestuous, a whirlwind, wanting far more than he was able to give. He sometimes saw it in Johnny and it worried him often, wondering when the boy might light out, and his heart torn from him again.
“Murdoch?” The voice more plaintive called out to him. He heard fear.
“I’m here, Johnny,” Murdoch soothed, sitting on the edge of the bed. He took Johnny’s searching hand in his, tapping it gently. “I’m here, son.”
“Talk to me, Murdoch,” Johnny said. He spoke barely above a whisper, but Murdoch heard the desperation there as loudly as a shout. “Murdoch?”
“What do you think my chances are?” The boy’s voice shook.
Murdoch took a breath, remembering what the doctor had told them. He was highly optimistic and believed there was a good chance for complete restoration of Johnny’s sight. They had agreed to and had endured the treatment because of the prognosis. Each treatment had been painful, debilitating, and rendered Johnny close to unconscious, sleeping for hours afterward.
Murdoch did not want to repeat what had been said so often over the past week. He realized Johnny wanted more from him. The boy’s faith in him to make it right, to make it all better was staggering. The hurts of a toddler so easily remedied with a kiss and an “all better now”. Murdoch felt a physical ache in the center of him, a wound not fully healed, reopened, bloody and exposed, and Johnny was the core of it all.
It had been much easier alone, his heart caged, the long nights occupied with good literature and the finest Scotch whiskey. After Catherine’s death and the loss of Scott, it had been difficult, but he had gone on, the land his life’s blood, his life’s reason. When Maria came to him, she roused him, awakening him, as if he had been walking for years in his sleep, halfway living. And then she had left, taking his child, his heart. It had all been too messy; he had been bloodied, though no blood had been physically drawn.
“I’m scared, Murdoch.”
“I know, Johnny. “ Still gripping the boy’s hand, Murdoch ran his thumb softly over Johnny’s knuckles. “Your family will be here for you no matter the outcome. I will be here for you. Believe that.”
“Oh, I do, Murdoch, and I thank you for that.” Johnny smiled. “The sweeter life gets …”
“What was that?” Murdoch grinned.
“Oh, nothin’,” Johnny said, his tone wistful, “just thinkin’ about things.”
Murdoch shifted on the bed, grimacing, unable to contain the small groan. His back ached from keeping one position for too long.
“You all right there, Murdoch?” Johnny asked as his head turned in the direction where he thought Murdoch sat. He lifted his free hand to the bandages and ran his fingers lightly over them.
“I’m fine, Johnny.” Murdoch squeezed the boy’s hand in reassurance. “You know this old back of mine.”
“I do. “ Johnny let go of Murdoch’s hand then. “Go. Sit in the chair. Don’t want you hurting yourself on my account.”
“You’ve got no say in the matter, young man.” Murdoch tried to sound stern. “I’m your father, don’t forget, and that’s what father’s do.”
“Oh, is that what father’s do?” Johnny’s smile spread ear-to-ear. A bit quieter, Johnny said, “I won’t forget.”
“Well, that’s good then.” Murdoch rose from the bed and sat down in the nearby chair.
Johnny was quiet, his breathing even and soft. He seemed to have drifted off, and Murdoch wondered if he had fallen asleep. He was about to call his name, when Johnny turned toward him.
“Hey, Murdoch, would you tell me something? Would you tell me about Mattie?”
“What is it you want to know about Mattie? I’m not sure I can offer you anything more than you all ready know.”
“Tell me what you think of her. Tell me what she looks like.” Johnny grinned. “I can see her in my head. Her hair is the color of sunshine, her nose is small, tiny as a button, and her lips are pink and full …” Johnny rolled his head away from Murdoch, going quiet.
“What is it, Johnny? What’s wrong?” Murdoch leaned forward, pressing a hand to Johnny’s shoulder.
“Oh, nothin’ really, “Johnny said, shrugging. “Reckon I just felt a little sorry for myself thinking how I might not get a chance to see Mattie or you or Scott ever again or Lancer. I got the pictures in my mind, but that’s just not nearly as good as the real deal.”
Murdoch sprung up and sat on the bed. He put his hands alongside Johnny’s face. “I believe you will see again, Johnny.”
“You do?” Johnny asked.
Murdoch lowered his head and sighed. Johnny sounded so young, so trusting, wanting to believe in him so badly. “Yes, I do and you know very well your old man is never wrong.”
Johnny chuffed out a laugh. “Or so you want Scott and me to believe.”
Murdoch lightly tapped Johnny’s cheek. “Show your father a little respect, boy.”
Johnny gave a slow, easy smile and said, “Oh, I do respect you, old man, more than a little.”
Murdoch laughed and tousled Johnny’s mass of black hair. “You need a haircut.” He stood up then and gave a few pats to Johnny’s leg. “Get some rest. Tomorrow’s a big day.”
“If you need anything at all, call me.” Murdoch watched Johnny turn on to his right side and bring his legs up toward his chest, his right hand sliding under his pillow, the left searching around the bed for something. Murdoch saw the small blanket on the floor beside the bed. He walked over to it and bending down, picked it up and placed it on Johnny.
As he rested his hand a moment on Johnny’s dark thatch of hair, Murdoch whispered: “Goodnight, my Johnny boy.”
Murdoch’s heart was close to bursting when he heard Johnny’s soft reply.
Two simple words:
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