The Book of Rules
Not mine; Sam Peeples created the boys, wished he would have written more of the shows. And shame on Fox for not putting the series on DVD’s!
This is a Scott muse, about brother bonding. Some cussing; sexual innuendo, maybe too much information.
01-The Book of Rules - Scott
It’s been two weeks now since Johnny and Murdoch had their little ‘discussion’ up in Johnny’s room. Things have been relatively quiet since then. Not that little brother has completely reformed. He does seem to pay more attention to what Murdoch tells him, he’s managed -- for the most part -- to be on time for meals, and he’s certainly learned the value of a simple ‘no, sir,’ as opposed to his usual ‘no fuckin’ way’. All in all, it has been rather…interesting.
But the strain is beginning to tell. Johnny was fidgety all through breakfast and made the mistake of cursing in front of both Maria and Teresa when he found out there weren’t any more churros. The boy does have a sweet tooth. It is a good thing that Murdoch is away on business: otherwise, I’m afraid little brother would have been treated to yet another lecture about the rules.
Of course, as his older, wiser and better looking brother, I had to bring him to task for his behavior. It’s my job, and I take if very seriously.
That’s where he is now. In the kitchen, making -- I hope -- the appropriate apologies. I gave him more than a sufficient amount of time to reflect upon his behavior, knowing in the end he would do the right thing. His version of the right thing. Although he rarely -- if ever -- admits to any faults, he does have a soft spot for the women in this house. At the slightest hint of tears from either woman, Johnny Madrid simply melts.
I’m waiting for him now, seated at Murdoch’s desk. We are supposed to be finishing up the ledgers; something I hope to accomplish before a quick lunch. He’s coming now; I know because -- in spite of Murdoch’s decree regarding his wearing them in the house -- I can hear his spurs. They have a bell-like quality to them, and I’ve actually learned to tell his mood by not only his stride, but the noise. Right now he’s walking pretty happy; a good sign.
He saunters through the door, in no hurry for the task that lies ahead. His dislike for anything that requires him to sit -- other than on a horse or a chair at the Silver Dollar -- has always been an issue, especially with our father. Not that he isn’t capable. Johnny has a quick mind; I’ve seen him actually tally up a column of figures in less time than it takes for Murdoch or me to write them down.
“Hey,” he greets.
I look up, pretending to be annoyed. I feel my right eyebrow arching; something it does a lot where little brother is concerned. There’s something at the corner of his mouth. “Johnny,” I breathe, “is that a crumb of chocolate cake I see?”
He grins across at me, his tongue flicking out to destroy the evidence. “Yeah,” he drawls. He’s in front of the desk now. “T’resa felt real bad about makin’ me swear.”
I close my eyes, just for a moment. “John.” He at least has the good grace to dip his head in embarrassment over being caught. I, however, know he isn’t feeling one small modicum of remorse.
He reaches out to tap the open ledger. “Done yet?” he asks hopefully.
“No.” I reply, knowing he lingered in the kitchen for just that reason.
A sigh. “Jeez, brother; ya only got two weeks worth of receipts.”
I nod. “Yes. But during those past two weeks…” Making a job of it, I begin laying out the stack of documents. “… it appears we’ve had some extra, unforeseen expenses.”
He’s interested now. “Oh, yeah? Like what?”
Sucker. “Well, there are the damages from the Silver Dollar, Baldemero’s…” I intentionally drag it out, “… the fines. In case you’ve forgotten.” Johnny never likes to be reminded of his transgressions.
“Fat fuckin’ chance,” he mutters. “‘Bout all I heard from the Old Man before he left.” He fiddles with the corner of one of the invoices. “So how much, exactly?”
I grimace. “Five hundred forty three dollars and eight-seven cents. Exactly.” I can see him ciphering.
A low whistle. “Sweet Jesus, Scott. At twenty-five bucks a month, I’ll be workin’ for the Old Man for free for the next fuckin’ three years!”
It’s my turn to dip my head; to hide the smile. Biting the inside of my bottom lip to stop the laughter, I look up into those eyes. Soulful is the best word to describe the blue on this occasion; much preferable to the cold ice I’ve seen when the Johnny Lancer mask slips and Johnny Madrid takes over. “Well, brother, I have been known -- on occasion -- to advance you a loan.” Before he can say anything, I raise my hand. “No!” He actually would have the gall to ask for the entire amount so he could pay Murdoch back; preferring to owe me rather than our father. “I’m talking about a few dollars here and there.”
Coming around the desk, he stands looking over my shoulder. “Here and there, huh?”
I nod and shove the stack of papers at him. “You read and I’ll write,” I offer. Working together, we manage to complete the task in a remarkably timely manner.
Teresa comes through the doors, carrying a tray with fresh milk, sandwiches and two slices of chocolate cake. “I thought since you were working,” she smiles, and puts down the tray.
Johnny reaches out for the largest piece of cake, and I smack his hand. “You already had a piece,” I grouch. And then, looking up at our little sister, I give her my best smile. “Johnny and I are going to be very busy here for awhile, Teresa.” I’m lying, but I can see she isn’t aware of my deception. “But thank you very much for your thoughtfulness! Oh, and could you close the doors when you leave, please?”
She frowns a bit at that, taking a quick look at the papers that are scattered atop the desk. Reluctantly, she nods. “Well, in that case, I think I’ll see if Maria doesn’t want some help in the garden.” She casts a quick look at Johnny. “Someone has to do the weeding, you know.”
I catch Johnny’s grin out of the corner of my eye. One of Murdoch’s last instructions before he finally left was to tell Johnny it wouldn’t hurt him to do a little yard work. We both watch as Teresa flounces out of the room.
“And what the hell was that all about, brother? You ain’t figurin’ on givin’ me a sermon ‘bout them ‘extra expenses’.”
Johnny has a pout that a two-year old would envy. “No, little brother. Not a sermon, just a talk.” I pick up my cake and glass of milk, nodding toward the couch.
“Sittin’ or standin’,” he growls.
“Whichever you prefer,” I answer, knowing he’s behind me. I decide to sit on the couch. Johnny plops down on Murdoch’s leather ottoman.
“You got something to say, big brother, get ‘er said.”
I laugh at that; remembering Johnny’s words to Murdoch on that first day. I admired his directness, and the sarcasm. “Actually, our father did suggest I have a talk with you,” I begin.
His eyes narrow. The piece of cake in his hand hovers at his mouth. “‘Bout what?”
I lean forward slightly and pat my shirt pocket. “He suggested that, since I am your older, wiser and better looking brother, I should talk to you about…carnal matters.”
A bit of a frown. “What caramels?”
“Not that kind of delicacy, little brother.” I pause for effect, and lean a bit closer. “About another little bit of frippery.”
He loves it -- although he would deny it -- when I throw words at him he hasn’t heard before. He knows I’ll expound on the meaning with more familiar terms; and he will file away the new word away to toss at Murdoch when the proper occasion arises. “Tidbit, treat, luxury, fancy…
“Women,” I finish, seeing his grin.
It’s his turn to laugh. More of a guffaw. “And just what the hell do you think you can tell me about women!?” He pokes my chest.
“Well, for one thing, about responsibility; about being careful.”
“What ya mean careful?” That drawl again.
But I can tell he is interested. Now it is simply a matter of setting the hook and pulling him in. “Murdoch has expressed some genuine concern that you might not consider the risk, Johnny, of populating the county -- the next two counties --” I hold up the appropriate number of fingers to make my point, “with an abundance of little Juanitos and Juanitas.”
Again I bite my bottom lip, drawing it in, to stop the laughter. The shudder I’d seen Murdock make at the thought is a poor second best to the sudden earthquake that courses through Johnny.
“I ain’t ready for no kids, Scott!”
I nod. “I know.” How well I know. I also know -- if at this very moment, Johnny had a girl sitting on his knee -- he would have suffered a sudden withering in his nether region. “However, Johnny, a man does have needs.”
He looks at me as if I’ve just bitten him on the posterior. “Real funny, Scott.”
He hates it when I use his own words to torment him. “It’s been two weeks, little brother.” This, for Johnny, is something akin to fasting during Lent.
“Yeah.” He nods. “Two long, fuckin’ weeks. No-fuckin weeks.” Lifting his head, he grins across at me. “Them cows are beginnin’ to look pretty good about right now.” This time he leans a bit closer, and our heads touch. “Don’t suppose we could talk Ol’ Murdoch into runnin’ some sheep?”
I slap his exposed belly with the back of my hand. “That will be a cold day in Hell, little brother!” I remember the packet in my shirt pocket. “However, since you have brought up the subject of sheep…”
There it is, in the palm of my flat hand; the tinfoil packet.
Johnny reaches out, and fingers the package. “What the hell is that? And what the hell does it have to do with sheep?”
“A condom,” I answer. Carefully, I open the small package.
I display the contents. “It’s made from a sheep’s intestines. It’s something you use to keep a young lady from getting in a family way,” I answer.
His eyebrow cocks. “If she’s a young lady, she’ll keep her knees closed,” he snorts. Reaching out, he touches the lambskin. “ ‘Sides, a man with half a brain would prefer pokin’ a sheep, to wearin’ one.” He jabs at the condom.
“Careful,” I caution. “It won’t work if you poke a hole in it.”
He snorts. “So, how do you get a young lady ta use it?” He’s sitting on his hands now, just in case the urge to touch it hits him again.
“It’s not for the young lady,” I answer.
This, he has to think about. “So.o.o…” It suddenly hits him. “You’re full of shit, Scott!”
I shake my head. For some reason, I can feel perspiration on my forehead. Inspired, I try to explain. “It’s called a sheath, Johnny.”
He perks up. Sheath he can understand. “And…?”
“Yes.” I feel a grin tugging at the corner of my mouth. “It’s for your weapon.” Pause. “Your other weapon.”
Another snort. “Your tryin’ to tell me that if I put my …weapon…in that sheath, I don’t gotta worry about getting’ some young lady…” he’s beginning to love that particular phrase, “knocked up?”
I nod. “That’s right.”
He eases his right hand from beneath his butt. “So, I’m with some young lady,” and we’re ‘bout to transact some business, and right in the middle of everything….” This time, he just points.
“Actually, the idea is to put it on before you get in the middle of something,” I say in my best big brother voice.
He is still not convinced. “Maybe you and your weapon, Scott,” he snickers. “Kinda small, ain’t it?”
“It will do the job,” I answer, ignoring the dig.
“That’s just it, Scott. It ain’t the way I picture doing the job.” He leans back slightly. “Wouldn’t it kinda be like takin’ a bath in my slicker?”
Leave to Johnny; never at the loss when it comes to drawing an excellent analogy. “Think of all those potential little Juanitos and Juanitas,” I remind him.
The shudder again. “Seems a hell of lot of trouble to go to for a piece of ass,” he mumbles.
“Well, there’s always withdrawal,” I suggest.
“We ain’t talkin’ about bankin’ here, Scott,” he growls. “What the hell’s the use of lettin’ ‘er buck, if you don’t stay for the ride!?” Then, a wicked grin on his face, “Ya gonna demonstrate?” he challenges. “I mean, you bein’ the big brother and all, ain’t you goin’ show me how to use it?”
I shake my head. “It’s for you, little brother,” emphasis on little.
Outright laughter this time. “Ain’t had any complaints in that department!”
“You’re paying the ladies, Johnny. It’s not like they’re going to risk losing business by complaining.” I smile. Smirk, actually. “You need to think about this.”
He’s shaking his head. “No fuckin’ way, brother!”
I lean back, just a bit. “You know, in the proper establishment, with the proper young lady; there’s always the chance you’ll have some help.” I nod at the packet.
“Well, that ain’t the Silver Dollar.” He stands up and stretches. “‘Sides, you heard Val tell me he don’t have any plans for seein’ me in Green River for a month of Sundays. He wasn’t kiddin’, ya know.” He’s rubbing his cheek now. The fact our father said the same thing doesn’t seem to trouble him one mote.
It’s my turn to smile. “So who said anything about Green River, or the Silver Dollar, for that matter?”
He eyes me for a heartbeat. “You got a plan,” he accuses.
I nod. “And if we hurry, little brother, we can make it work.” I take a quick look at the clock.
Always observant, Johnny sees me looking at the clock. “How?” he asks, his voice whisper quiet.
“Well, as your older, wiser and much better looking brother, I propose we make a quick ride to the spur track. And then I suggest we get on a train and go to Sacramento.” I hesitate for effect. “To a proper establishment with a proper young lady.”
“A whorehouse? In Sacramento!?”
It’s getting harder to suppress the smile. “Actually, Johnny, a first class bordello. It’s called Le Manoir (The Mansion). We do this right, we’ll be just in time for a late supper.”
“A train,” he ponders. “You ain’t figurin’ on hijackin’ a train?”
I smile. “No.” And then, “Trust me.” No point in telling my little brother everything.
“But Murdoch?” he asks.
I’m beginning to lose patience. “Murdoch is in Stockton until the middle of next week. He won’t know a thing.”
At that, his face brightens, and just as quickly clouds. “Teresa will tell.”
God, this new, more cautious brother can be frustrating. “Teresa won’t know. Nor Maria, or Jelly, or -- for that matter -- Cipriano.”
He gives me a look, his eyes narrowing again. “And that?” He points at the packet I’m still holding in my hand.
“When it’s all over and done with, you will be properly enlightened on the correct use and application of your weapon and that sheath,” I promise, “and in the art of being careful. Just as Murdoch wants.”
Tenuously, he reaches out, and the tinfoil pouch disappears into his waistband.
“I’ve already packed a bag.” I hold up my hand before he can protest. “No suit!” Part of the thrill of this adventure will be seeing the faces of the other patrons in the establishment when they see Johnny Madrid fully turned out.
I watch as he turns on his heel and heads for the door. “Well, what ya standin’ around for, brother?” Once he’s in the hallway, he yells for Teresa. “Don’t hold supper!!”
Scrambling, I hurry to catch up with him; pausing just long enough to shove the paperwork into the right hand drawer of the desk.
Johnny Madrid may be the fastest gun in the west, but Johnny Lancer can rope, saddle and mount a horse quicker than any man I know.