What's a Coma?
by  Kit

Disclaimers:  Mogen David has a new flavor of wine; Pomegranate.  I also plead guilty to stealing SF’s lovely section markers and slaying her plot bunnies. 


Johnny stood beside his brother’s bed; hat in hand.  Well, actually, his hat was strategically located; was pressed against the front of his pants and held firmly in place with both hands.  He was whispering.  “C’mon, brother.  Just ten bucks until payday.”  God, he hated to beg.

Scott’s eyes narrowed.  He was reclining back against a pair of plump goose-downed pillows; his knees drawn up and a book resting against his thighs.  “Johnny, it’s almost ten-thirty.  It’s the middle of the week, you still owe me twenty dollars from that poker game at Val’s on Saturday, and -- if I remember right -- Murdoch said if he caught you out of your room before breakfast, you were going to spend the rest of your life mucking out the pig sty.”  Johnny had purposely loosened the top of the salt shaker at supper, intending to pass it off to Scott; only to have Murdoch take it from his hand to season his freshly sliced piece of perfectly prepared roast beef.  The mound of salt had been gargantuan.  So had been Murdoch’s verbose and speedy response to the practical joke and Johnny’s unrestrained laughter.  It hadn’t helped that Johnny had offered his father the pepper shaker right after the catastrophe.  “What’s so urgent that you could possibly need ten dollars now?  And why aren’t you in bed?”

The brunet sighed.  As much as he cared about his older brother, the man could be a real pain in the ass at times.  Questions; always questions.  About everything.  And if he wasn’t asking questions, he was analyzing.  Johnny knew he needed a good lie.  He went with his gut.  Gingerly, he pulled his hat away from his crotch.  “I need to go to town.  Now.”

Instantly, Scott bolted upright in his bed.  “Please tell me that’s not what I think it is!” he snorted.  He resisted the urge to smack his brother’s nether regions.

Johnny looked down.  “Not my fault,” he breathed.

“Excuse me?” Scott asked.

The younger man sighed.  His brother was grinning like a jack-ass.  He was also getting up and looking for his boots.  “I was layin’ there on my bed, mindin’ my own business, just gettin’ undressed, and the next thing I know…”  He pointed to his fly.

“Minding your own business,” Scott echoed.  “Are you sure you weren’t taking things in hand, so to speak?” he teased.

“Real funny, brother,” Johnny hissed.  “I need the ten bucks to get this taken care of…”

Scott pretended to be thinking about his brother’s problem.  “You know, you could just see if Teresa’s still awake,” he suggested.

If it wasn’t for the fact it would probably hurt to make any sudden moves, Johnny would have punched his brother.  “Sure,” he drawled.  “Like that’s got a chance in Hell of happening.”  He was frowning now.  “You gonna loan me the ten bucks, or what?”

Scott stood up.  Picking up his boots, the blond crossed the room and was now standing at the door, his right ear pressed to the wood.  He put his forefinger to his lips, and then -- easing the door open -- gestured for his brother to follow.  Shrugging, Johnny trailed behind.  Must be stashin’ his cash in the safe now, the brunet thought, what with the way he’s been winnin’ at poker lately.  Oh, well…

Once in the hallway, they could hear the constant rumble of their father’s snoring.  They stood for a moment; the only light coming from the window at the far end of the hallway, the cold shimmer of a waning full moon.  Both young men were holding their breaths.

Scott pointed to his brother’s stockinged feet and then jabbed the same finger in the direction of Johnny’s room.  Nimbly, the younger man slipped through the open door and back out again; his boots in his left hand. 

Euphoria was the word Scott felt best described what he was feeling as they broke free of the house.  Sure, they were going to have to lead the horses well away from the barn before they mounted up, but at this point, he really didn’t care.  The important thing, he thought -- feeling very noble -- was to help his baby brother.  It was the least he could do.

Johnny still wasn’t sure as to what was going on.  He lengthened his stride to catch up with his long-legged brother; grimacing at the effort.  “You gonna lend me the money, or what?” he groused.

Scott had already saddled his horse and was mounting up.  “No,” he answered.  “Seeing as you’ve gotten yourself in a bit of a predicament, I’m going to give you the money.”  He looked down at his brother, raising his hand to stop the anticipated thanks!  “But, while I’m willing to make the investment, I want to make sure you seek out the proper treatment, and that you spend the money prudently.”  He tsked, shaking his head.  “It shouldn’t cost you any more than five, you know.” 

The brunet sighed.  But what the hell; he needed the money.  He vaulted into the saddle, immediately regretting the move.  “Oh, shit!” he cursed, sucking in a deep breath.

Scott turned to his younger brother.  “What’s wrong, Johnny?”

The younger man lifted a single digit in response and pointed.  “Hurt,” he ground out.

The blond tried hard not to laugh; giving up as he watched his brother start to post.  He dropped back for a better view.  It was like watching a cavalry drill; troopers on review.  Kicking his gelding into a trot, he caught up“It’s a good twenty minutes riding full out, little brother.  You sure you want to do this?”

Silence.  Except for the sounds of shod hooves as Johnny suddenly kicked Barranca into a full run.


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~


Johnny bolted through the door of the Silver Dollar without his customary caution.  For once, it felt good to have someone covering his back; even if his brother was laughing like a fool.

Scott was standing at the batwings, one arm looped over each swinging door.  Except for the bartender, there was no one in the room.  “Uh, Johnny?”

The younger man turned around.  “What?” he snapped.  Conscious of the obvious bulge in his trousers, he swept his hat from his head and covered the family jewels.

The blond was swinging back and forth in the doorway; his upper arms still resting on the top of the batwings.  “It is Wednesday,” he observed drolly.

Johnny was in no mood for calendar lessons.  He was in pain; severe pain.  “I don’t care if it’s Sunday,” he groused.  He turned, facing the bartender.  “Charlie, where the hell is everyone?” he demanded.

“We close at midnight during the week,” the dour man replied.  “New city ordinance and Val’s enforcin’ it.”

“It’s eleven-thirty,” Johnny growled, nodding at the Regulator clock on the wall between the two mirrors.  Charlie just went on wiping out the used glasses and putting them back on the shelves.

Scott had stopped rocking back and forth at the door.  He was leaning back, his head canted.  “Johnny,” he called softly.

Johnny’s face was registering a high degree of discomfort.  He was pretty certain that if he let go of his Stetson, it would not drop to the floor; it would simply hang suspended from his tent pole.  He shot a sorrowful look at his sibling.  “Give me a hand here, brother…”  He regretted the words as soon as he said them.

The blond was shaking his head.  “Not even if we were marooned on a desert island with no hope of rescue,” he joshed.  He stepped back, opening the doors wider as he backed up.  “Red Dog,” he said.  “I can hear music coming from the Red Dog.”  Well, what passed for music.

If there had been a record for crossing the long bar room, Johnny had just broken it.  He stepped out onto the boardwalk, colliding with his brother; almost having a heart attack when Val Crawford suddenly appeared before him.  “Jesus, Val!”

“Where?” the lawman joked, pretending to look.  When he turned back to the younger man, he was still smiling.  “It’s Wednesday, boy.  What are you doing in town?”  Val was well acquainted with Murdoch’s rules regarding his younger son.

Johnny felt himself being tugged at by his elder brother; and obediently fell in behind.  “Scott wanted to come into town,” he fibbed.  “I just came along to make sure he don’t get into trouble!”

Val began following the two young men up the street.  He quickly caught up.  “What’re you hidin’?” he demanded, thumping his forefinger against Johnny’s hat; which was still clutched at the younger man’s waist.

“Nothin’!” the brunet replied too quickly.

Scott had started to walk faster.  He had just passed under a street lantern, his face awash with light.  He was grinning from ear to ear, but volunteering nothing.

Suspicious, the lawman grabbed the Johnny’s arm.  The youngster was always pulling pranks, and if his hat wasn’t on his head, there was a good chance there was a frog or a snake hidden in the inverted crown; anything to get a rise out of the saloon girls.  “Oh, no you don’t, buddy!” he crowed, snatching the hat away from the younger man.  And then, “Holy shit!”  He stared in unabashed awe at what he was seeing.  “You need to loosen up them calzoneras, let that thing breathe,” he laughed. 

The laughter stopped as Val’s right eyebrow climbed up to disappear into his hairline.  He’d seen Johnny in a similar situation once before; a Tuesday night when the Red Dog had hosted a penny beer fest and the boy had steadfastly refused to give up his place at the bar.  When the lawman and Scott had finally pulled the younger man from the saloon, Johnny had decorated the side wall of an adjoining building with a pungent, liquid autograph: managing to complete his entire name and dotting the single “i” in Madrid.

It was that incident that had prompted the unanimous passage of Section 8 of the Green River City Ordinance, which read in part: ‘... any person caught in the act of publically spitting, defecating or urinating in or about communal or private areas or habitats shall be subject to immediate arrest and prosecution.’  The Section also included a subpart mandating the midnight closing of all the bars within the City limits Monday through Friday night. 

Val tapped the younger man’s shoulder.  “Don’t you even think about it,” he growled.

Johnny’s face radiated nothing but pure innocence; and he actually look hurt.  “All I’m thinkin’ about is findin’ Blue-eyed Becky,” he drawled.  “Like soon.”  Real soon.

Scott was loitering beneath the lamp post; watching the interaction between the lawman and his brother.  Ceremoniously, he pulled out his watch.  “We need to go, Johnny.”  He jerked his head the direction of the Red Dog.

Val purposely ignored the blond.  “You tryin’ to tell me,” he pointed to the younger man’s crotch, “that’s her fault?”

“Damned right!” Johnny declared.  Once again, he clamped his Stetson against the front of his trousers.

Even Scott perked up at that one.  He strolled over to where his brother and Val were standing.  “You spent almost all Saturday night with her,” he said.  “You leave something undone?”  God, he loved having a younger brother!  It made life so damned interesting!

Johnny was fuming.  Christ!  And to think I used to wish Mama’d had another kid!  “I don’t leave things ‘undone’, brother.  Think you’d know that by now.”

Val was shaking his head.  “You got ‘til midnight,” he droned.  “You don’t get things,” he grinned, “banged out by then; you get your sorry ass home.”  Snickering, he turned his back on both young men and headed down the street.

“Real funny, old man,” Johnny muttered, staring hard at his old friend’s back.  He turned to his brother.  “What ya waitin’ for?”

Scott bowed slightly at the waist.  "Après vous, petit frère," (After you, little brother,) he grinned. 


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~


Murdoch Lancer was not a happy man.  The long honed awareness that was so much a part of his being had increased two-fold upon the arrival of his sons.  Once they had returned home, he had immediately fallen back into the full-alert parent mode he had adapted after Johnny’s birth: it was like sleeping with one eye open and incredibly enhanced hearing.  Although the boys didn’t know it, he was keenly aware of their night time wanderings.  They hadn’t been two minutes out of the house, and he was up and checking their rooms.

Ordinarily, he would have overlooked their late night sabbatical, chalking it off to their natural penchant for brotherly mischief.  However, it was a weeknight.  He had also expressly forbidden Johnny to show his face until breakfast.

Determined, the big Scot saddled his bay gelding.  Grateful for the light of a full moon he headed towards town.  If his sons thought they were going to spend the night drinking themselves into a stupor with a full day’s work ahead of them they were sadly mistaken.


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~


Val looked up just as Murdoch Lancer stepped into his office.  Already having made up his mind to bunk in the back cell, he had removed his shirt, and was bare-chested.  He took a quick look at the clock.  “Mornin’,” he greeted, noting the time.  It was well past twelve thirty a.m.

“I found their horses in front of the Silver Dollar.”  Murdoch’s eyes swept the room, settling on the single holding cell in the far corner. 

The lawman saw the look.  “They ain’t here,” he announced.

“But you are,” Murdoch countered.  Val Crawford had a house just outside of town and a night deputy.  He only stayed at the jail if he was expecting trouble. 

Val laughed.  “Well, your boy is in town,” he grinned.  He held up two fingers.  “Both of your boys.”

“An ounce of prevention?” Murdoch asked, only half joking.  “The saloons are closed.  Am I to assume they are occupied elsewhere?”

Crawford wasn’t a tattle tale, but he was kind of bored.  Besides, he was really curious about how Johnny was doing; how much progress he was making resolving his current problem.  “Johnny was looking for Blue-eyed Becky,” he announced.  He reached out to his chair and picked up his shirt and hat.

Together, the two men made the short walk to the Red Dog.  Val wasted no time in rousing the owner, Seth Parker.

Parker was no fool.  If Murdoch Lancer wanted to know where his sons were, he was more than happy to tell the man.  The crews from Lancer spent a lot of money in his place; both at the bar and upstairs.  One word from the Lancer patriarch and that could all change.   “Closed the place at the stroke of midnight,” he said, assuring Val he was abiding by the law.  “Your boys went with Becky to her place.”

“Just Becky and the boys?” Val asked.  “No one else?”  Becky was an ambitious little thing; even doing odd jobs during the day to make extra money.  However, he’d never heard of the little, blue eyed blond playing with two men at the same time; and certainly not in the little house she shared with an older roommate.

Except the roommate was out of town.

Val tipped his hat to Parker.  “Much obliged, Seth.”

Murdoch Lancer was uncomfortably close to Val’s right shoulder when the lawman turned around.  “That way,” Crawford nodded, jabbing a finger at the alley.  Shoulder to shoulder, they headed out into the night.


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~


There was a light on in the small, single storied house.  It shown though a curtained side window; the flour sack drapes lifting slightly as a spring breeze filtered through the open window. 

Val lifted a finger to his lips; nodding at the pale beacon of light.  Murdoch followed his lead; both men remarkably quiet on their feet in spite of their size and build.  There was no porch on the little cottage, and the path leading to the front door was nothing but packed earth.

There was conversation coming from inside the house.  Val held up his hand, signaling for Murdoch to stop.  Both men stood stock still just outside the open window as they heard the soft baritone of the elder Lancer son.

“You do know, little brother,” Scott was saying.  “No matter how she does this, it is going to hurt.”

Johnny snorted.  “It ain’t as though I don’t know all about pain, Scott,” he announced.  “How bad could it be?”

Scott actually laughed.  “Let me assure you, Johnny, just because you’re laying there flat on your back, this isn’t going to be like being shot and blissfully slipping into a coma,” he warned.

“Could you just once talk English?” the younger Lancer son groused.  “And what the hell is a coma?”  He regretted instantly asking the question.

“A state of deep; often prolonged unconsciousness, usually the result of injury, disease, or poison, in which an individual is incapable of sensing or responding to external stimuli and internal needs,” Scott answered.

“Please…” a soft voice begged.  The woman let out an audible sigh.  “It’s late, I’m tired, and if you two think I’m going to do this for five dollars, you’re crazy!!”

“You agreed to five,” Scott scolded, his Scottish heritage coming to the fore.

Johnny again; sounding impatient.  “Yeah.  Well, that was before you talked her to death!”  He paused.  “Ten,” he said, “we’ll pay you ten.”

Scott scoffed.  “You’re getting pretty generous with my money, little brother!”

“Just shut up!!” Johnny ordered.  “C’mon, Becky,” he pleaded.  “You’re the one who got me in this mess.  Help me out here!”

The girl again, sounding tired.  “All right, all right!”  There was a long moment of silence.  “You could do a little of the work, you know!”  Her voice went up a pitch.  “And you could do something besides just sit there, Scott Lancer!!”  It was clear from her tone she was getting irritated.

“¡Madre santa de Dios!”  (Holy Mother of God!)  Johnny’s normally soft voice tore into the silence.  The next words came in labored pants.  “Jesus!” he croaked, “you ain’t ever heard of takin’ it slow, maybe watchin’ out for those short hairs?”

“Told you,” Scott muttered.

Another brief silence.  “Whoa!!!”  Johnny again, obviously in pain.  “That fuckin’ smarts!”  Two short panting breaths, and then: “blow on it,” he murmured.

Scott roared in unsympathetic laughter.  “In your dreams!  You blow on it!!”

“Oh, for God’s sake!!”  This from the young woman.   There was a rustling of fabric and then the soft phew, phew as she puckered up and blew.  “It’s not like you couldn’t have had Teresa do this!  It’s not like she wouldn’t know how!!”

Outside of the small house, Murdoch was having a near seizure.  Only Val’s hand on his shoulder stopped him from kicking in the door.  But the mention of Teresa’s name had been a deep shock to both men. 

Inside the cottage, the three young people were concentrating on their task.  The bedsprings creaked as the young woman changed position.  Reassessing the situation, Blue-eyed Becky laughed.  Well, giggled.  “Give me some help here, will you, Scott,” she asked.  “Maybe if you put your hand there…?”

A string of curses in both English and Spanish erupted into the air.   “Do you mind, brother!” the youngest Lancer croaked.  “That’s my cajones you just grabbed hold of!”

“Stay still,” the blond ordered.  His next words were for the woman.  “Now pull, Becky.  Hard.”

A blood-curdling scream erupted from the room.

“That’s it!” Murdoch announced.  Bulling his way past the lawman, he threw open the door.

Scott immediately did an about face, quickly scrambling to his feet and instinctively moving to a place directly in front of his brother.  “Murdoch!”

Val Crawford stepped into the room; his eyes busy.  There was old Boston, standing in front of his younger brother like he was protecting him from a charging bull, and behind the blond -- barely visible -- was Johnny.  And straddling Johnny’s thighs…

Sweet Blue-eyed Becky perched, her skirt in disarray.  She stared at the lawman, smiled, and licked her lips.

The lawman decided to let Murdoch handle the situation.

“Just what the Hell is going on here?”  The big Scot’s voice thundered into the room.  Hands knotted and resting against his hips, he waited; but not long.  “Scott, would you care to explain just what you and your brother are doing here?”

Scott answered without any hesitation.  “No, sir.”

The flesh beneath Murdoch’s right eye began to twitch; not a good sign.  “What?”

Johnny peeked out from behind his brother.  His face was flushed and his blue eyes were the size of large marbles.  Now seemed like a good time to pull out his recently discovered ace in the hole.  “Hey, Pa,” he greeted.  He laughed; a strangled sort of sound, as if he suddenly realized it wasn’t such a good idea.

“I thought I told you I didn’t want to see you out of your room before breakfast,” the older man ground out.  His eyes swung to his eldest.  “Scott, move away from your brother.  Now.”

Val was lounging against the frame of the open door.  It was obvious from his expression he was enjoying himself.

Scott considered doing as his father told him, only to feel his brother’s fingers tighten against his legs.  Behind him, he heard the rustling of sheets as Blue-eyed Becky rose up from the bed.  He watched as the young woman sashayed over to where Murdoch Lancer was standing, her fingers drifting across his right forearm as she made a turn and headed into the next room.  “Night, y’all,” she drawled.

The elder Lancer never even gave the younger woman a glance.  Hands dropping to his sides, he strode quickly across the room.  His next move was to grab Scott; one hand on each upper arm as he bodily lifted his elder son away from his youngest. 

Johnny had scrunched deeper into the well-worn mattress, both of his hands firmly locked across his front; just below his waist.  His eyes were screwed shut in the foolish hope that if he couldn’t see his father, his father couldn’t see him.  It wasn’t working.

Curious, Val, sauntered over to the bed.  Unable to help himself, he started to laugh.

The brunet opened one eye.  “This ain’t funny, Val!” he snapped.  Rolling over on to his side, he attempted to sit up, only to feel an all too familiar pinch at his crotch.  Giving up, he slammed back against the pillows.  “Whoa,” he hissed, clenching his teeth.  “Get Becky,” he implored.  “She can fix it.”

“Obviously not,” Murdoch muttered.  Reaching out, he decided to take matters in his own hands.


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~


Johnny was sitting on the edge of Sam Jenkins’ examining table; buck naked from the waist down, looking everywhere but at the doctor.  Scott was leaning against the physician’s filing cabinet, Val was standing right next to him, and Murdoch…

Murdoch was standing at his younger son’s back, shaking his head.

The doctor was applying the last of a cooling salve; his shoulders shaking slightly as he tried to suppress the laughter.  “Tell me, Johnny, just exactly how did this happen?” 

The young man’s lips were compressed in a grim line.  He glanced out the far window, seeing the first gray light of dawn beginning to creep up across the eastern horizon.  “Why don’t we just give it another hour, Doc?” he sniped.  His eyes turned to his brother and the lawman, who were both snickering.  “We could just sell tickets; let the whole fuckin’ town have a peek.”

Thunk!  Murdoch’s right forefinger thumped against his son’s head.  “Answer Sam’s question,” he ordered.  “Or perhaps you’d rather wait until we get home and discuss this in my study.”

Johnny’s shoulders slumped.  Last thing he needed now was an ass-chewing in the Old Man’s dungeon.  He sucked in a deep breath.  “Okay, okay!  Becky’s got this new business goin’,” he started.  He looked up as Scott stifled a guffaw.  “Not that business!” he declared hotly.  “She’s gonna open up a seamstress shop; makin’ dresses for the girls at the saloon.  Dresses with these things,” he picked up his trousers and held them out for Sam’s inspection, “down the back.”

“Conchos?” Sam asked innocently, biting his lip to stop the laughter.

The brunet skewered the doctor with a harsh glare.  “No!  These!” he snapped, shaking the calzoneras again.  He pointed to his fly.  “She calls ‘em zippers.  Said it would make it easier and faster for the girls get in and outta their dresses.”  His face colored.

Scott crossed the room, taking his brothers pants and holding them out at arm’s length.  He cast a long look at his younger sibling.  “And you thought it would work the same for you and your britches?” he asked. 

Val shoved himself away from the wall.  “Sure shot that theory all to Hell,” he snorted.

“Well, how the Hell was I ‘sposed to know the damned thing’d get stuck!?” Johnny fumed.  Becky sure hadn’t mentioned that possibility when he handed her five bucks to put one on in his pants.  “It was sure workin’ fine Monday night when I…”

“…Snuck into town?” Murdoch rasped, realizing now that whatever he had seen in Johnny’s bed late Monday night had probably been nothing but a stack of carefully placed pillows.  Well, that wouldn’t be happening again any time soon.

Sam was still smiling when he straightened up.  “It would probably work better if you actually wore under garments,” he observed.  “That,” he pointed to the younger man’s scraped and still slightly swollen member, “is definitely a much tenderer portion of your anatomy than your back.”  He turned away, this time unable to stop the laughter.

“No shit!” Johnny declared.  He resisted the urge to touch himself; sucking in his already flat belly for a better look at the pinch marks.  There was a bumpy line from just below his navel that extended a long way down.  He shook his head.  There hadn’t seemed to be any problem with the damned zipper when he was pulling the apparatus up.  It was when -- in his hurry to get undressed for bed -- that the damned thing had snagged.  He shuddered.  Hurt like all holy hell when he’d try to work it free, and he had ended up just making things worse.  Before he knew it, he had been stuck in his pants (they had just sort of hung there when he unbuttoned the side conchos); and his favorite weapon was irritated and more than slightly swollen.

Hurt a hell of  a lot more later right here in town when his big brother had told Becky to pull.  Hard.

Scott was still holding his brother’s pants.  He handed them off to his sibling.  “You need to put these on so we can go home,” he said softly.  He jerked his head in the direction of the door.  “And you now owe me thirty dollars,” he said, leaning in closer.  “Becky charged me ten dollar extra to keep her mouth shut.”

“Figures,” Johnny took his trousers, frowning a bit as he looked over to where Murdoch was standing, wallet open, at Sam’s desk.  “Get in line.”  Gingerly, he stood up and slipped into the leather pants, taking a great deal of care to tuck his shirt in just right.  He was making damned sure there was a lot of fabric between himself and the metal teeth -- and that’s what they were -- of that damned zipper.

Murdoch had just finished counting out a stack of bills.  “So, Sam,” he said, the fatigue beginning to show in voice.  “Where are you going to record this one in your journal?”

Sam was writing out a receipt.  “Right under the squirrel bites,” he snorted.

Murdoch frowned at the memory.  He turned to look at his younger son, who returned his scrutiny with a particularly petulant pout.  “John.”  He pointed a long finger at the front door to the doctor’s office.  “Don’t pull that face on me, boy,” he ordered.  “We are far from done discussing your behavior!”

Reluctantly, Johnny headed towards the door.  Val was grinning at him like a jackass as he passed, and Scott…  Behind him, he heard his father.  “And don’t you think for one minute, Scott, I don’t have a few choice words for you also...”

Scott moved forward to join his younger brother as they trudged through the door and out into the street; Murdoch’s voice prodding them along.  “I told you we should have asked Teresa for help,” the blond ventured.

Johnny shot his sibling a look and saw that his big brother was grinning.  “Yeah, right!” he snorted.  “Bad enough she don’t ever knock.  No way in hell I’d let her fumble around with the family jewels.”

“…and there will be no more sneaking out at night,” Murdoch was grousing.  “In fact, in your foreseeable future, I don’t see…”

The brunet rolled his eyes.

Scott nudged his brother’s shoulder with his elbow.  “So what do you think it would cost?” he whispered.  They were heading for the Silver Dollar now; Barranca and Cheval turning their heads to face their long-absent owners.

“What?” Johnny whispered, reaching out a hand to pat Barranca’s neck.  The Old Man was still ranting fully bore.

“For our sweet Blue-eyed Becky to do a little more seamstress work?” Scott answered.

The brunet’s brow furrowed, his eyes suddenly lighting.  “Like more zippers?” he snickered.  Pictures began forming in his mind.

Scott held up a single digit.  “Well, one anyway,” he replied, mounting up.

“For the Old Man’s mouth!” Johnny snorted gleefully.  Forgetting the pain, he swung aboard the palomino.

Murdoch had mounted his own horse and was following after his sons, determined to catch up.  “Boys!” he bellowed.

Johnny shared a look with his elder brother, his eyes widening as Scott made a zipping motion across his own mouth.  Unable to help himself, he dissolved into a boisterous laughter.  Zip, unzip, zip, unzip; right across Murdoch’ mouth.  He was laughing harder now.

Hell, he thought.  With any luck, maybe the zipper might even get stuck!!   


Author’s Notes:

The zipper was patented by Elias Howe, Jr. in November, 1851.





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