When Push Comes to Shove - Teresa's Point of View
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 Teresa muse. Some second hand cussing. No sex; just Teresa venting about how cruelly life treats her adopted brother.
When Push Comes to Shove - Teresa’s point of view.
It’s been a simply horrid day! First, Ty Underwood, Val Crawford’s deputy, comes knocking on the front door demanding to see Murdoch. Some foolishness about Johnny being in trouble, and Val having taken him off to jail. I’ll have a few choice things to say to Sheriff Crawford when I see him next time. Fine friend, actually tossing Johnny in that disgusting place!
Of course, Murdoch was in the middle of doing something incredibly important (isn’t he always!); which did absolutely nothing to improve his mood. He was already mad because of some little thing Johnny had forgotten to do this morning, that and the fact Johnny was what? all of three minutes late getting to the supper table last night? Maria hadn’t even finished serving, for God’s sake!
And just where was Scott, I’d like to know. He and Johnny did go to town together, after all. All that talk all the time about being Johnny’s big brother, and how it’s in that silly “book of rules” that his job is to watch his little brother’s back. Well, he obviously wasn’t watching today! Not if Johnny ended up in jail!!
Maria. Its awful how she just falls apart when there’s bad news about her Juanito. I’ve spent the majority of this morning trying to convince her that we just need to keep calm until we know what’s going on. But Maria is all too aware of Johnny’s past, so there she is, banging around the kitchen muttering under her breath about how unfair the world is and how that “ninguna puta de corazón, negra y buena” (no good black hearted whore) had taken Johnny away from a place where he was loved to a place in “el corazón de la oscuridad” (the heart of darkness).
I suggest to her that maybe we should concentrate on preparing a nice lunch for Johnny. Oh, I know Murdoch is upset with him, but he will bring Johnny home. And then maybe things will get back to normal.
Normal. I shake my head. What passes for normal here at Lancer would try the patience of the Virgin Mary herself; and all those other saints Maria constantly prays to. But I don’t care! This is my family, and I love them.
I hear the front door slam open. That would be Johnny. I don’t think he’s ever opened a door in this house without banging it against a wall. Oh, I hope he didn’t chip the plaster!! Murdoch will have his head!
I sneak a peek through the kitchen door leading into the hallway. I can see Johnny’s back. Scott’s standing in front of him, shaking his finger.
“Johnny, they just put that new window in at the Silver Dollar! I was there when Murphy installed the glass. It’s going to cost a pretty penny to replace it -- he had to special order from Sacramento -- and until it’s here, they’ll have to board up. The lighting in there is bad enough as it is…”
Johnny is shaking his head; his hair sweat damp and curly, long enough it almost hides the collar at his neck. “‘Fraid you might miss seein’ some tit, Scott, on one of them girls? Ain’t like it’s all that light in those upstairs rooms, and I never hear you complainin’ about that! Jesus!”
I step into the hallway, relieved to see through the open door that Murdoch is having a discussion with Cipriano. Reaching out, I tap Johnny’s shoulder, calling out to him just before my fingers make contact. He taught me that when he first got here. “Johnny. We were so worried about you.”
He turns, and even manages to blush a little; thinking I might have heard what he said. And then I see his shirt. I can’t believe it. That was new shirt! There’s a big tear at his right shoulder; not even at the seam, and half the buttons are gone. And another snag just above his belt buckle. “Johnny! I’m never going to be able to mend that!”
He just keeps smiling. “Didn’t like it much anyway, T’resa.” He pulls the material away from his belly. “Not much color…”
Oh, is that right? Just because it’s blue. I stamp my foot. “I made that shirt, Johnny!”
“Oooops.” The smile grows, and I can see it hurts. His face is a mess. There’s a cut at the corner of his mouth; one below his eye, and another one on his forehead. I reach out see how bad it is, but, just then, he spots Murdoch heading toward the house. “Need to change,” he mutters, pulling away.
Scott tries to catch him. “Murdoch told you to wait for him in the Great Room, brother.”
Johnny is already heading up the stairs, two at a time. He yells at Scott over his shoulder. “Murdoch tells me lots of things! No big deal!!”
Scott just shakes his head. I reach out to touch his sleeve. “I yelled at him about his shirt, and his face is all cut up.”
Scott is speechless, just for a brief moment. “Teresa. He was in a fight. He started a fight! Val ended up taking him to jail.”
I tense at that. “Yes. And I’m going to have a few things to say to Val about that when I see him Saturday. I don’t care what Johnny did. He doesn’t need to be in jail!”
Murdoch comes into the house, and I can see from his face he’s not particularly happy. He starts through the doors to the Great Room, but pauses when he sees no one is there. Turning to Scott, he asks “Where’s your brother?”
I don’t like his tone, and decide to answer myself. “He went upstairs to change shirts. Did you see his face, Murdoch?”
He frowns. “Yes, Teresa I saw his face. I dare say the entire town of Green River has seen his face.”
Scott now. “Teresa. Johnny started that fight, and punched Howie Jacobs through a plate glass window at the Silver Dollar.” His tone is that same, soft patient voice he uses when he’s talking to Johnny like he’s still ten years old.
Well, I’m not ten! “Oh, Howie Jacobs.” I dismiss him with a wave of my hand. “That idiot has all the social graces of a toad. And he never knows when to shut up. If Johnny hit him, he must have had a good reason.”
Scott swipes his hand across his face, exchanging a look with Murdoch. “It was eight thirty in the morning, Teresa. Johnny was already well on his way to getting drunk when I caught up with him. The only thing Howie Jacobs said was he hoped Johnny had left a few of Murphy’s free pickled eggs for somebody else.”
Some nerve. Like Johnny would have eaten all of the pickled eggs. “Howie should have kept his mouth shut! That was very impolite.”
I see Johnny at the top of the stairs, grinning down at me. He’s wearing another one of the shirts I made for him; the turquoise blue one with the embroidery. I know he likes that one.
For some reason, Scott takes my arm and starts pulling me towards the kitchen door. I’m about to argue with him when I look back and see Johnny coming down the stairs. Murdoch is waiting for him at the bottom.
I’m relieved when Scott lets go of my arm and heads for the coffee pot. He exchanges a few soft words in Spanish with Maria, and pats her arm, telling her not to worry. She pours him a mug of fresh coffee and watches after him as he goes out onto the patio.
That gives me the opportunity to open the hallway door just a bit.
I’m surprised that Murdoch isn’t yelling. He has gotten better about it just lately, but Johnny somehow seems to bring out the worst in him. I lean closer into the door. Some mumbling from Murdoch, and then Johnny shouting “Out!”
Oh, dear. Murdoch’s got his hand wrapped around Johnny’s arm, just below his right shoulder. And he’s frowning. He says something about a fiasco. I make a little room beside myself when Maria moves in close to my shoulder, and risk opening the door just a wee bit more so we can both see. Oh, damn it! Jelly’s chasing Dewdrop by the kitchen window, and I can’t hear a thing.
Wait. Murdoch’s holding up three fingers. Oh, no, now Dewdrop’s heading back in this direction!! One of these days -- Christmas maybe -- I’m going to turn that wretched goose into the main course. All the noise; not to mention all the little ‘surprises’ she leaves by the front door. No one will ever convince me that goose doesn’t know exactly where she’s shitting.
It’s quieter again. I put my finger to my lips, shushing Maria as she makes some promises about “Pájaro de demonio de Jelly de sr. del Infierno” (Mr. Jelly's demon bird from Hell); finding comfort in the fact that she doesn’t like cleaning up after that goose, either.
Oh, this isn’t good! Murdoch just took Johnny by the collar and he is actually dragging him up the stairs! I can hear Johnny shouting at him. “Let go of me, Old Man! Goddammit!! I said let go!”
I feel a tap on my shoulder, and see Maria out of the corner of my eye as she backs away from the door and heads for the stove. Another tap, and then Scott’s voice coming over my shoulder.
“You do know, Teresa, what they say about curiosity and the cat?”
I turn to face him, hands on my hips, relaxing when I see he is smiling. “I was just worried about Johnny.” I return the smile.
“Me, too,” he admits. He changes his mind about the coffee he’s been drinking, and takes the still half full cup over to the sink, rinsing it out.
I stay by the door. For as thick as the walls are in this old house, it’s amazing how sounds travel. When I first moved into the main house, I loved the way the floors and ceilings seems to resonate with a soft jumble of voices; no matter where you were in the house. After Daddy died, I let those voices soothe me to sleep; knowing that as long as I could hear Murdoch and Maria planning the next days schedule, or Cipriano coming by for a nightcap and a talk, or even the rumble of Murdoch’s snoring when it was late and the house was asleep, that I was in a safe place; that I was protected.
That feeling is even strong now that Johnny and Scott have come home.
I love having brothers.
I’m hearing Murdoch’s soft rumble. And no anger, either. Scott comes up to stand beside me again, as guilty of eavesdropping as I am. We are both holding our breaths because we can hear Johnny shouting.
Oh…my…God. Johnny just shouted “FUCK YOU, OLD MAN!” Maria’s dropped a pot, and… Then, “…I don’t care how fuckin’ old I am!”
I feel Scott’s arms around my waist as he catches me. I thought my legs were going to completely fail me, and I turn to him in a quick hug. It’s not that I haven’t heard a fair share of cursing -- this is a working ranch after all -- and even Murdoch and Scott have been known to say and occasional damn or hell. I even heard Scott say shit once when he stepped in a mound of fresh droppings Dewdrop had deposited right at the front door.
I hear a muffled thump now; something hitting the floor in Johnny’s bedroom. A bit of a scuffle to; and the creak of his bed.
Oh, I recognize that sound! My daddy took his belt to me once -- I think I was twelve -- when I stuck my tongue out at Cipriano’s grandson, Paco, and called him, in Spanish, a god-damned son-of-a-bitch. He would have probably used his hand, but I lied about knowing what the words meant.
The sound continues, and I hear something almost like a surprised outcry before it fades. “Scott, Murdoch’s…”
“Using his belt on Johnny’s back side.”
It seems to go on forever. Scott’s face pales, and I can see he doesn’t like this. Maria is at the sink now, and I can hear her grumbling. As much as she loves Johnny, she really doesn’t tolerate his disrespect. She’s muttering again. ¡“Lavaré la boca de chico fuero con jabón! ¡Hablar a su a semejanza de Papá eso!” (I'm going to wash the boy's mouth out with soap! Talking to his Papa like that!) More banging on another pot as she begins preparing lunch. “Como el Sacerdote dice de la Biblia, 'Un palo fuerte para una espalda del tonto'. ¡Encontraré un palo! ¡Yo lo azotaré con mi cuchara!” (Like the Priest says from the Bible, 'A strong stick for a fool's back'. I'll find a stick! I'll whip him with my spoon!)
Still, she looks up towards the ceiling when we all hear another blow.
Scott gives me a reassuring pat on my arm. “Can you please fix some lemonade, Teresa?” He looks around the room a bit, his gaze settling on a large clay bowl. Picking it up, he also grabs a towel. “I’m going to go to the ice-house and get some ice.” But he waits.
Finally, the sound we’ve all heard and hated stops. There is nothing now except the soft rumble of Murdoch’s voice; deliberate, low and -- strangely -- comforting. And then we hear him moving across the floor to Johnny’s bedroom; and the sound of the door being quietly pulled shut.
I turn to Scott and manage a small smile. I’m not sure what I’m feeling now. In spite of Johnny’s cursing -- in spite of what Scott told me about what happened in town -- even in spite of a shirt I’m probably never going to able to mend -- I’m not happy about what I’ve heard coming from the upstairs.
Murdoch is coming down the stairway now. I hear him moving into the Great Room; hear him pause at the table where the decanter of Talisker’s sits; and then hear his footsteps again as he crosses the floor to sit down at his desk. I know he doesn’t like what he’s done.
And yet, somehow, I am angry with him.
Scott heads out to the ice-house. I was angry at Scott, too, for a little bit. Wondering why he didn’t go up stairs and stop his father. Or try. But Scott will do the right thing now. He’ll go up to his brother, and he will talk to him. Scott really cares about Johnny, and he’s not afraid to show it.
Well, I know what I’m going to do for Johnny. He is in all likelihood not going to be having any lunch today; and I don’t think I ready to challenge Murdoch on that one. Johnny is only a little bit older than I am, and if Murdoch has it in his head that Johnny could be spanked, I’m sure he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to me!
No, I’ll deal with Murdoch in other ways. I can always cook something for dinner he doesn’t really like.
As for Johnny, and what I can do? Johnny is going to need a cake. A big, chocolate cake. And I’m going to see that he gets one.
NTBC - Okay this is it. There isn’t enough tequila in the State of Wisconsin to keep me intoxicated enough to write Maria’s first person view!! Or limes, for that matter!