This is an AR story and portrays Johnny a bit harder than most. Torture is involved.
Johnny Madrid road into to Tucson by darkness of night. He was more than exhausted He had just finished hiring out his gun for some poor Mexican peasants just across the border against a Don of the Mexican aristocracy who had wanted their land. The Don had been killed and the Rurales were after him. He had had to leave the area in a hurry but they were still hunting him. There had been no money in the last job but thankfully he had been paid well the prior two. He had a sanctuary in Tucson, a little house where he could hold up if he was injured, tired or hunted. A good friend Pedro Montoya lived there even though it belonged to Johnny. Montoya and his sons were loyal to Johnny after Johnny had saved one of his sons from a gringo who did not like Mexicans. It was a little adobe house with a small stable behind it. The only thing different about it was there was a hidden door and stairs that went down into an underground room. Johnny planned to spend a couple of months there to let things cool down and to rest.
Johnny looked up at the sky. It was a quiet night with brilliant stars. Johnny stayed to the back streets and in the shadows. He came to the house and took his horse into the stable. He unsaddled the horse, rubbed him down and fed and watered him. Johnny went to the back door and knocked lightly. It took a bit but soon a small Mexican man of about 65 came to the door. He smiled at seeing Johnny. He drew him into the house and shut and locked the doors. Pedro smiled widely and hugged Johnny and began a stream of Spanish. Johnny looked at him with concern and asked him a few questions which Pedro answered. Johnny shook his head and sunk into a chair.
Pedro had told him his sons had been at a cantina when a gringo had come in asking for Johnny Madrid. The Montoya sons had followed him, ambushed him and had brought him to the house. He was down in the underground room in the jail cell. The Montoya’s thought he was a Pinkerton Agent. He was not the first one asking for him. There had been another Pinkerton agent poking around 9 months ago. Johnny had tortured him until he had admitted he was working for Murdoch Lancer. Johnny snorted. They had dumped him at the edge of town. Now it looked like Lancer had sent another Pinkerton man. Johnny asked Pedro to go downstairs with him and told him what he planned.
Johnny looked at the tall, blond and lean sleeping man. Damn Pinkerton agent, a young one too, stupid gringo. Coming into his domain, asking questions, actually asking for him by name. He had asked the wrong people and now here he was in a cell in the cellar of one of his sanctuaries. He’d been brought in bound and blindfolded. They had dumped him in the cell and cut him loose and he had been there for 2 weeks being cared for by his employee Pedro.
Johnny nodded and Pedro unlocked the cell and went to the gringo and shook him awake as Johnny trained his gun on him.
“On your stomach, gringo” Pedro said. The prisoner looked at Johnny and did as he was told. Pedro bound his hands tightly in front of him and helped him stand. He guided him out of the cell to the middle of the room where a rope was thrown over the rafter. One end was tied to a ring on the wall. The other end came down in the middle of the room. Pedro tied that end to the prisoner’s wrists.
“Gracias Pedro” Johnny said as the old man left the room.
The prisoner gazed at Johnny. “Are you Johnny Madrid?
Johnny smiled, his eyes darkening. Pleasant voice but not from here, East Coast…yep Pinkerton for sure.
“Luis Montoya.” Johnny told the gringo. “I’m a friend of Madrid’s. He sent me to question you. He really hates gringos and the less he has to do with them the happier he is.”
“I see.” The prisoner said slowly. “I’m Scott Lancer. Tying me isn’t necessary. I mean no harm and I’m willing to answer all your questions.”
“What do you want with Madrid?” Johnny asked cynically.
“He’s my half-brother and I want to meet him.” Scott said earnestly. “That’s all.”
Johnny had a hard time keeping his face passive at the mention of the name Lancer. What kind of crap was this gringo trying to pull? Brother!? He was insane.
“Madrid has no brother!” Johnny said in a cold voice.
“He doesn’t know about me. I didn’t know about him until 3 months ago. We have the same father, Murdoch Lancer.” Scott said meeting Johnny’s stare.
Johnny’s temper flared. Murdoch Lancer. He should have known he would be involved in this somehow. He had forced the last Pinkerton man he’d caught following him to admit Lancer had hired him. He would break this gringo too. He was good though, his voice, his eyes; Johnny could find no deception there. He covered it very, very well.
Johnny viciously back-handed Scott. “You’re lying gringo. You’re a Pinkerton agent hired by Murdoch Lancer.”
“No” Scott said evenly. “I don’t even know Murdoch Lancer.”
Johnny laughed coldly. “Are you telling me you’ve never met your own father?”
“Lancer sent my mother away while she was carrying me because he felt it was too dangerous. He was fighting a range war at the time. He sent her to Boston where she was from. My grandfather came to meet her. Unfortunately I came early and she died on the way. Grandfather took me to Boston and I was raised by him.” Scott said in a quiet voice looking down as he spoke.
Johnny sneered. “So how did you find out about Madrid?
“I saw a Pinkerton report on grandfather’s desk titled Johnny Madrid Lancer. I read it. It said 2 years after I was born Lancer married Maria Alvarez and they had a son. A couple years later Maria left Lancer with a gambler and took Johnny Lancer with them. Maria died when he was 10. He was left alone and eventually became Madrid to survive.”
“What a touching story.” Johnny said sarcastically. “Except Maria didn’t leave, she was made to leave because Lancer didn’t want no half-breed son.” With that he back-handed Scott again as hard as he could.
Scott looked at Johnny his eyes questioning, pain filled. “I’m only stating what the report said, Mr. Montoya. I have no first-hand knowledge of anything.” He didn’t understand what was happening here but he knew he was in over his head. The man before him was dangerous and heartless and very, very angry. I am at his mercy Scott thought miserably. It was obvious the man didn’t believe a word Scott said. Scott sighed. That didn’t bode well for him. He knew this man was after the truth but he didn’t believe Scott. He had surmised he was going to be tortured for that truth. Unfortunately Scott had nothing else to say. He swallowed hard. It was going to be a long day.
“Ever been tortured before, gringo?” Johnny asked coldly staring at Scott wanting to see the fear in his eyes.
Scott stared back at Johnny refusing to show him fear. “Actually I have, Mr. Montoya. I spent some time in a Confederate prison camp.”
Johnny had had enough. He hated this gringo with a passion. Trying to say his mama had lied to him about his father, that he was his brother. If he had had an older brother his mama would have told him. The gringo would tell the truth or he would pay. Johnny went to the wall where the rope was tied off.
Scott was jerked out of his thoughts as the rope tied to wrists began to shorten. Scott’s eyes widened as his feet left the floor. His breath came faster as his shoulders and wrists took on the full weight of his body. He was suspended a couple of feet off the ground and totally helpless. Johnny came back in front of him carrying what looked like a long, thin cane. Scott’s pain filled eyes met Johnny’s hate filled ones. Johnny pulled a knife from his boot and cut Scott’s shirt off of him. He pushed a piece of the shirt into Scott’s mouth to gag him and then ripped a strip from it and tied it tightly around Scott’s head to hold the gag in place.
Johnny picked up the stick and smiled a smile that did not reach his eyes. “Now gringo.” Johnny said his voice deadly and cool. “Let’s see how long it takes to break you.
The cane made a deadly hiss as it cut through the air slapping against Scott’s chest. Scott’s body jerked in pain. Johnny brought it down nine more times against Scott’s chest.
Scott resolved not to scream but he couldn’t stop the gasps and little moans of pain he made against his gag with each blow. A sheen of sweat soon covered his body. Johnny took out Scott’s gag and asked the same questions and received the same answers he had before. The gag was shoved back into Scott’s mouth and Johnny proceeded to assault Scott’s flat stomach ten times. Scott’s long fingers clawed the air in pain. Again the gag was removed, questions asked and answered. Johnny slowly used the same pattern giving ten blows to different parts of Scott’s body, his back, shoulders, backside, upper and lower arms and legs and asking and getting the same answers in between.
When Johnny had moved around to the back of Scott his eyes widened in surprise. The gringo had not been lying. Thin white scars covered the man’s back and Johnny knew they had been made by a whip.
Scott hung his head bowed, sweat pouring off him. His hair was completely wet, plastered against his head. His breath came in sharp gasps and the cries of pain he made behind his gag were a bit louder but he still had not screamed.
Johnny was sweating too as he started over bringing ten blows down on Scott’s chest for the third time preparing to keep going through the torture pattern for as long as it took. Damn gringo was tougher than he looked Johnny thought as he took a breather. He pulled the sodden gag from Scott’s mouth and prepared to question him again.
Scott surprised him by raising his head and meeting Johnny’s gaze. “Johnny please.” Scott whispered in agony his voice a mix of pleading and warning. “I swear I am your brother. God, brother please stop. I can’t… take anymore. Johnny….you’re going kill me…you’re going to kill me. With that Scott’s eyes rolled back into his head and his body went limp.
Suddenly all the anger left Johnny. The gringo had figured out he was Johnny Madrid. It almost had seemed like he was not only pleading for his life but warning Johnny against doing something he would later regret. Johnny shook his head.
Johnny cut him down and carried him to the cot and laid him down on his back and cut his wrists loose. He pulled a blanket up to his neck. He regarded the unconscious man for a few moments. He locked the cell and left the room. He trudged up the stairs and came through the hidden door.
“Pedro.” Johnny said to the old man. “Take care of him. See to his wounds and see that he eats well. I am going to sleep for a while.”
“Si Senor Johnny” Pedro said nodding.
Johnny stopped at the door to his room. “Oh and Pedro, he’s a gringo from the east. His food needs to be mild.” He said with a small smile.
Pedro smiled and nodded.
Johnny went into his room. It was a small room but the bed was big and the mattress tick feather filled. He stripped naked and crawled between the sheets. He slowly let himself relax. He thought of the young gringo in the cellar, how he had withstood the beating, answering his questions exactly with the same answers whispered in pain at the end. He thought of his slate blue eyes, pain filled, questioning, not understanding why Johnny was torturing him. Then the gringo’s answer that he had been tortured before. Proof was evident on the pale skin of the gringo’s back but there was something else in the gringo’s eyes. Hurt, not from pain but more from the cruelness Johnny had shown him. But now that Johnny thought about it he realized Scott had shown no anger at the treatment Johnny had doled out, just acceptance. There hadn’t even been any obscenities hurled at him by the eastern man. He had simply taken it with a brave, quiet reserve. Johnny had never seen anything like it and he didn’t understand it either. Johnny sighed and closed his eyes and soon he was asleep.
Scott Lancer moaned as he began to wake up. He opened his eyes. He ached all over. Pedro was in the cell with him. Scott soon realized that his wrists were bound again and tied to the cot. Scott’s eyes widened as Pedro removed the blanket covering him. His clothes had been removed while he was unconscious. The older man sat on a chair beside Scott. There was a basin of very warm water on the small table beside him. He began to bathe Scott with a soft cloth. Scott couldn’t help the color rising in his cheeks. He was uncomfortable and embarrassed with the old man’s ministrations. Pedro took a towel and gently patted Scott’s skin dry. Then he opened a bottle of ointment and applied it to the bruises and welts on the front of Scott’s body. Scott closed his eyes. It was soothing and smelled good.
“Please roll over Senior” Pedro murmured.
Scott sighed and did as he was told. Pedro repeated the same process to the back of Scott’s body. Finally Pedro removed the bathing supplies. He brought in some clothes and placed them on the table. He bent over and cut Scott loose and quickly left the cell and locked it. Scott sat up and covered himself with the blanket.
“Gracias.” Scott said sincerely as Pedro prepared to take the basin and leave the room. Pedro looked hard at Scott and then nodded and left the room.
Scott buried his face in his hands. Well he had certainly made a mess out of this he thought. He smiled ruefully. What had he been thinking? Why in the world had he thought Johnny Madrid would believe they were brothers? They were nothing alike. Scott was tall, blond, fair and slender. Johnny was dark, shorter and muscular. Scott had a cultured Boston accent. He shook his head. Damn Johnny was right; he looked like a Pinkerton agent. Johnny was so angry and hurt. Blast Murdoch Lancer! It was one thing for him to never have come to Boston to claim him but it was quite another to leave Johnny all alone in the world. Scott didn’t know why after the beating Johnny had given him, but he felt oddly protective of the younger man. He had no delusions though – Johnny Madrid was a dangerous man and Scott was his prisoner. He had no idea what Madrid had in mind for him. Scott slowly began to pull on his clothes wincing in pain as they came in contact with his injuries.
Johnny Madrid awoke some 24 hours after he had gone to bed. He stretched lazily and got up. Sighing he looked longingly at his bed. Unbelievably he was still tired. Madrid never got much sleep. He had to be constantly watching his back. This was of one of the few places he felt safe enough to sleep deeply. He thought about the blond gringo downstairs. The thought that the man was trying to pass himself off as his brother brought Johnny’s anger to the surface again. What the man had said about his mother lying to him. He opened his closet and grabbed some rope and some bandanas and went down to the cellar. Scott slowly stood up as Johnny came in to the room.
“Take off your shirt!” Johnny ordered pointing a gun at Scott. Scott nodded and began to unbutton his shirt. He removed it and threw it on the cot. “Now lay on the floor on your stomach.” Scott got down on the cold brick floor. Johnny entered the cell and tied the prisoner’s hands behind his back cinching them tightly. He did the same at Scott’s elbows, knees and ankles. He blindfolded Scott and then tied Scott’s ankles to his wrists in a hog-tie.
“Comfortable?” Johnny asked sarcastically.
“What do you want from me?” Scott asked painfully his cheek against the cold brick floor.
“Who sent you?!” Johnny growled walking around Scott’s bound form on the floor.
“I told you! No one sent me!” Scott spat back at Johnny.
“Why did you lie about my mother?!” Johnny hissed.
“I didn’t….the report said...” Scott began.
Johnny cut him off. “The report? Oh the one on your grandfather’s desk?!! You made a mistake gringo. For me to believe anything you say, I have to believe my mother lied to me, that she deliberately kept me from my father, that she never told me I had a brother! My father kicked us out and I have never had a brother! “ Johnny shouted in anger. Johnny fell to his knees beside Scott and roughly shoved a bandana into Scott’s mouth and tied it in place with another one. He slammed the cell door shut and blew out the lamp as he left the room.
Scott was left alone in the dark bound on the cold floor with his nightmarish thoughts of what Johnny had said. He couldn’t move. The stringent bonds caused exacerbation of the pain from his previous injuries. His upper arms and shoulders were painful due to the fact that his elbows had been pulled together almost touching. Low moans of pain filled his ears. He realized he was making those sounds. It was cold on the floor and it didn’t help he was covered with sweat. The cold seemed to seep through his body. Scott began to shiver. He was in so much pain. He didn’t know if he could find that place in his mind where he’d gone to deal with the pain he had suffered in Libby Prison. His limbs felt like they were on fire. His shoulders ached unbearably from the suspension and now being bound behind his back and tied to his ankles. His stomach hurt from the caning and now his stomach muscles were cruelly stretched and most of the weight of his body was on his stomach. He felt sick but did his best to calm his stomach knowing with the gag he would choke.
Scott wished for unconsciousness but it never came. He lay for 6 hours on the cold floor. His cries of pain were much louder when Johnny returned. Scott was feverish, cold and clammy. He was delirious, moaning in pain into his gag. Johnny removed the gag and cut him loose and as the blood ran painfully back into his limbs Scott cried out in anguish and finally and blessedly lost consciousness. Johnny put him on the cot, covered him and left.
Johnny stayed away from Scott for a week. Pedro cared for him. At the end of the week Johnny stopped his friend after he came up from downstairs. “How is he?” Johnny asked
Pedro hesitated “The fever has passed. His body no longer suffers Senor but his spirit is low. For a gringo he is an honorable man. I do not think dishonesty is in his nature.”
Johnny looked at his old friend in disbelief. Pedro never had had anything good to say about any gringo. “Pedro, he is a smooth talker. Pinkerton’s are trained to deceive people.” Johnny said kindly to his old friend. “I will break him this evening and get the truth. Shackle him hand and foot to the cot when you are done rustling up some food.”
”Si Senor Johnny.” Pedro said. He did not agree with Johnny. He believed the gringo was Johnny’s hermano but he knew that was something Johnny would have to learn himself. He just hoped the gringo would survive.
Pedro looked apologetically at Scott as he shackled him to the cot. It was a long cot and Scott’s body was stretched taunt as he was shackled. Scott surmised Johnny was going to try to break him again. He didn’t know how to convince Johnny he was telling the truth. It was impossible. Of course Johnny would believe his mother. How far would Johnny go to break him Scott wondered? Scott closed his eyes. He had read the report on Johnny hadn’t he? Johnny was a killer. Scott knew this could very well end badly for him. He could only hope Johnny wouldn’t kill an unarmed man. Scott looked over as the door opened and Johnny came in. He grabbed the chair and pulled it beside the cot where Scott was shackled. He sat down and pulled out a very sharp looking knife. He smiled at Scott’s sharp intake of breath.
"Now Scott.” Johnny said his voice deadly. “Let’s see if we can get at the truth tonight.”
Scott pulled at his bonds. “Johnny don’t do this, please.” Scott pleaded his voice desperate and afraid.
“Shut-up,” Johnny hissed angrily. “You are a lying coward.”
“No what I am is your brother and you are going to regret this someday.” Scott said sadly. He subconsciously pulled at his bonds. Once again Johnny cut Scott’s shirt open exposing his chest and flat stomach. He blindfolded Scott with a large bandana.
“Pinkerton scum.” Johnny said menacingly. “Who hired you?”
““I am not a Pinkerton agent. No one hired me.” Scott said hoarsely his voice filled with dread as he felt the cold flat edge of the knife against his chest. His body tensed as he felt Johnny slowly turn the blade so the sharp edge was against his skin near his right nipple.
“What is your name?” Johnny asked his voice cold and hard.
“Scott Garret Lancer.” Scott whispered knowing that was not what Johnny wanted to hear. He felt the blade pressed harder against his flesh.
“Why were you looking for me? Were you sent to kill me?” the cold voice asked.
“No! You are my younger brother…and I wanted to meet you.” Scott said brokenly. The pressure on the blade increased. Scott gasped in pain as the knife broke his skin. “Oh God.” Scott breathed. Johnny picked up and moved the knife. This time Scott felt the point of the knife against the side of his neck.
“You are not my brother!!” Johnny said angrily. “Who sent you gringo?! What do you want with me? You bastard!” He increased the pressure on the knife and the point breached Scott’s skin on his neck leaving a superficial wound.
The torture went on for what seemed like hours. Johnny was relentlessly asking the same questions in a cold, hard voice and never getting the answers he wanted. Johnny pulled off the blindfold wanting to see fear in the gringo’s eyes. He was not disappointed, it was there now.
At first the only sounds in the room were Johnny’s low questioning voice and Scott’s hoarse answers and his ragged breath. But now there were quiet cries of pain and low moans from Scott as Johnny inflicted superficial wounds across his chest and stomach. Scott’s body shone with sweat and he could feel blood trickling from his many wounds. His wrists were raw from pulling on his cuffs.
Scott cried out as the knife pierced his skin near his naval. “Johnny, my God, what has happened to you to make you so heartless and angry?” Scott whispered so quietly and sadly Johnny barely heard him. Scott wasn’t even aware he had spoken out loud. Scott’s words made Johnny see red. Was this damn gringo actually pitying him? He was tired and frustrated and in white hot anger brought the knife down towards Scott’s chest. At the last second Johnny realized what he was about to do and changed the trajectory of the knife and buried the knife in the fleshy part of Scott’s side. Scott cried out again as pain seared through him.
“Oh God” Scott panted in pain. “No more… torture, brother. You have the truth. I saw where that…knife was headed. Just go ahead. Kill me now. You’ve won…I’m broken. Please… just no more pain.” With that Scott’s eyes closed and he lost consciousness.
Johnny stood up in shock looking at the man’s abused body. He left the room and ran upstairs and out the back door in to the cool night. Johnny fell to his hands and knees and retched over and over. Pedro came out and touched Johnny’s back not knowing what to do for his young friend.
Johnny could not look at his friend. “Pedro…please help him. He’s losing blood …I hurt him badly. He’ll need stitches…. . Dios qué tipo de hombre he convertido en. Él estaba atado y desvalidos. (God, what kind of man have I become? He was bound and helpless.)
Pedro went quickly into house and gathered medical supplies and set water to boil. The gringo must not die Pedro thought for Johnny’s sake as well as the young man’s in the basement. Pedro was shocked to see Scott lying still shackled with a knife still imbedded in his side. Pedro sat beside Scott and set him free from the shackles and gently removed the knife and held a pad tightly against wound to stop the bleeding. Scott’s blood soaked through the first pad and Pedro added another. At last the bleeding began to slow and Pedro got up to get the water he had started boiling. He was surprised to see Johnny come in with a basin of hot water. He set it upon the small table beside Scott’s bed.
“What can I do?” Johnny asked bitterly.
“Clean his wounds” Pedro said quietly. “You should stitch him, Senor Johnny. My eyes are not what they used to be. I will get clean bedding and a nightshirt for him.”
“Johnny nodded and dipped a clean rag into the water. He cleaned the dried blood off the superficial wounds. Five of them were a bit deeper and would need a stitch or two. He left the stab wound alone and put carbolic on the superficial cuts that did not need stitches. He picked up the needle and thread and carefully stitched Scott’s superficial wounds. He then turned to the stab wound. He slowly pulled the padding away and gently cleaned the wound thoroughly. Scott stirred a little and moaned. He pleadingly spoke Johnny’s name in a low voice but he did not awaken. Pedro was back with linen and a nightshirt. He watched Johnny stitch up the stab wound and place carbolic on it.
Johnny stood back and Pedro removed Scott’s clothes. Then Johnny held Scott in the sitting position while Pedro bandaged his wound. They put the nightshirt on him and Johnny picked Scott up and sat down in the chair cradling him while Pedro quickly put fresh bedding on the cot. Johnny gently laid Scott down and pulled a quilt up to his neck.
Johnny did not go downstairs for two weeks. Pedro gave him reports that Scott was doing well, his injuries had healed. “His spirit seems better, but his eyes are still sad.” Pedro told Johnny. “He enjoys to read. I teach him one word of Spanish a day.”
The next day Johnny decided to go and see Scott. Scott looked up in surprise as Johnny came in. He put his book down and regarded Johnny warily.
“What do you want, Madrid?” Scott asked coldly. “If you want to torture me again, it won’t do any good. My answers will be the same. If you want me dead, just shoot me and get it over with. No one knows where I am so you’ll get away with it. I guess that Pinkerton report was wrong. It said you weren’t a cold blooded killer.”
“I’m not!” Johnny snapped in anger.
“Really? You wanted to kill me Johnny. I saw where that knife was meant to go…my chest. You changed the trajectory at the last second. You might have beaten me to death had I not begged you to stop. I don’t understand why you are so angry with me and why you despise me so much that you want to see me dead.” Scott said his voice anguished.
“I don’t know, Scott.” Johnny replied sadly. “I don’t want to kill you anymore. I never really did. Things got out of control”
“I believe you do know. Tell me.” Scott pleaded.
Johnny looked hard at Scott. All of a sudden Johnny realized he did know why Scott made him so angry. “I was so physically and emotionally drained when I came here this time. The Rurales were hunting me. Then you tell me you are my brother, the gringo son of Murdoch Lancer. All my life I’ve wanted an older brother, someone to protect me when I was younger, someone to look up to, just not to be alone anymore, someone I could trust. Then you said you were that brother and I was just so angry, so disillusioned that someone would lie about that. I wanted it to be true Scott, even though you were different from what I imagined. To believe you, I have to believe my mother lied to me. In truth she’d lied to me before but never like that. I got so angry, I almost killed you. I let my anger control me. I hate what I am becoming. I feel like I am losing myself, becoming some sort of monster. I’m not sure I can forgive myself for what I did to you. You were helpless for God’s sake.” Johnny voice was haunted.
“So you still don’t believe me, do you?” Scott asked in a defeated voice.
“I want to but I just can’t. I can’t trust anyone.” Johnny replied honestly. “I won’t hurt you anymore though.” Johnny hung his head. He had lived through the attack on Scott over and over in his dreams, only in his dreams he had stabbed Scott in the chest. In horror he had watched the light go out of Scott’s eyes. Johnny had awakened each time sobbing over Scott’s death. He was so damn confused. He didn’t understand his reaction. Did that mean that somewhere inside he believed Scott? Or was it because he had killed a helpless man if just in his dreams?
Scott was confused too. After what Johnny had done to him, he should hate him. The torture, the danger to his life, he ought to despise him. In truth he wasn’t sure he could forgive Johnny. But this man was his brother and that meant something to Scott. Johnny was so young and life had been so difficult for him. Scott knew that the Pinkerton report was probably not completely accurate but even if 75% was correct well, Johnny had been just a kid and it must have been devastating for him. How could a boy come through that? Scott had been 18 and he’d barely survived the horrors of war. What Johnny had said about wanting a brother and being frightened about what kind of man he was becoming told Scott that his brother was in trouble. Scott looked at Johnny who seemed deep in thought with a sad look on his handsome face. Damn it, I may be a fool he thought, but Johnny needs his big brother and I need him. After his grandfather had kept Johnny’s existence a secret from him, Scott wasn’t sure he could ever go back to Boston. Scott wanted Johnny to have a chance at a different life if he wanted it. Somehow he had to win his brother’s trust. If I fail him he could die in a gunfight before he gets that chance Scott thought. Johnny got up and left the room without a word. Scott looked after Johnny his heart heavy. He put his face in his hands. Scott realized Johnny could leave whenever he wanted and he would probably never see him again.
Scott leaned back on his chair and watched his checkers opponent through the bars. The little man’s brows were furrowed as he considered his next move. Pedro was competitive player and he had Scott on the ropes again. Scott had not played checkers much. His grandfather considered it an inferior game and had insisted he play chess. Scott had played a little while he was in the Calvary. He had only won a handful of games from the little man and swore Pedro had a scenario for every move his opponent made. Scott’s blue eyes twinkled as Pedro’s next move for all purposes ended the game. Pedro smiled at him triumphantly as he put the game away.
Scott grew serious. “How is Johnny?” It had been a couple days since their last meeting.
“He feels that you must despise him.” Pedro answered. “Do you Senor Scott?”
Scott looked down. “I don’t despise him. I’d like to speak to him though.”
Pedro nodded. “I truly believe you are hermanos. He will come to believe this and each of you will find something precious in your young lives. I will tell him you challenge him to a game of chess. And Senor Scott do not underestimate him in the contest.” Pedro reached through the bars and patted Scott’s arm and left.
The next day Johnny came down and set up a chess on the table outside the cell bars. Scott sat down next to the bars. “Pedro tells me you play chess very well.” Scott said grinning.
Johnny grinned back. “Something tells me you know what you’re doing too.” They played in companionable silence for a while. Scott thought Johnny’s level of play was very close to his own but Johnny had an unconventional game that kept Scott on his toes. As it was they played to a draw.
“Scott, I plan to leave here in about 3 weeks. I’m heading north. I’d like you to ride with me a couple days. I’m a little worried about you making it out of town. You kind of stand out, Boston and that ain’t a good thing down here.”
“Yeah I kind of figured that out before I ended up in here.” Scott said dryly.
“You’re lucky that you didn’t end up with a bullet in your back.” Johnny replied. “Did you even have a gun?”
Scott shook his head. “I’m afraid not. It wasn’t necessary in Boston.” Johnny looked at Scott incredulously. The Montoya brothers had no doubt saved Scott’s life by getting him off the street.
Over the next two weeks Johnny spent a lot of time downstairs speaking to Scott. The man’s communication skills amazed Johnny. Scott could describe aspects from his life in Boston such that Johnny could picture them in his mind’s eye. Scott had described a clipper ship in Boston Harbor and Johnny could almost smell the salt air and hear the sails flapping in the wind, seagulls calling to one another. Scott was also very interested in knowing about life in the west. Johnny told Scott most everything he knew about surviving in Western civilization. Scott listened closely and asked very astute questions. Their conversations were always easy, their sense of humors alike even though they were from very different backgrounds.
Pedro watched Johnny as he finished dressing. Pedro had gone out and paid a boy to take a message Johnny had wanted sent but he was not happy about it.
“Johnny you should not go. “ Pedro said once again. The message sent was to a girl at a local brothel who Johnny often spent time with when he was in Tucson.
Johnny smiled. “You worry too much old man. I’m a young man. I have needs you know.”
Pedro sighed as he watched Johnny leave. At least his friend now seemed more like himself. He wondered if the man in the cellar had anything to do with that. Pedro had often heard their laughter when Johnny had left the door to the cellar open.
Johnny tied his horse to a tree a couple of blocks down the alley from the bordello. Carla was expecting him at the back door. As Johnny walked his senses were on alert but nothing told him there was any danger. He knocked quietly at the door and was admitted by a young petite, beautiful Mexican woman. She had long, black hair and soft dark brown eyes. She smiled sweetly. “Juanito” she said in a husky voice. “It is wonderful to see you.”
“Carla, miel se ven muy bonitos (honey you look very beautiful).” Johnny said pulling her into his arms and kissing her. Carla took his hand and led him to her room and closed the door.
“You look well, Juanito.” Carla murmured as Johnny took her into his arms and kissed her deeply his fingers relieving her of her clothes. She in turn unbuttoned his shirt, her hands caressing his chest. Her hands dropped down and undid his belt and trousers. Johnny stopped for a moment and removed his trousers and then followed her down to the bed kissing her again. Carla let her hands run over Johnny body caressing him and touching him until he moaned in pleasure. Carla loved being with Johnny Madrid. He knew how to please a woman and the thought of being with a famous gunfighter was exciting. Johnny had a control over his body that most men did not have. He was never in a hurry to obtain a climax which made things very pleasurable for her.
Later Johnny held Carla against his chest gently stroking her hair. He took a deep breath. He felt really relaxed. He knew he needed to leave soon but he was enjoying the physical contact of cuddling with Carla. Carla stretched against him.
“Oh Juanito” She murmured. “I am going to miss this.”
Johnny’s eyes were half closed but all of a sudden snapped open. Johnny sat up and looked at Carla. “What have you done!!?” he asked in dread. Carla’s hand covered her mouth. He saw the betrayal in her eyes and got up and hurriedly pulled on his clothes. He could hear the sound of boots in the hall. “Puta!” Johnny spat at her before he went out the window. He ran for his horse. He could hear the sound of men shouting coming from the bordello. Just before he got to his horse several men came out the back door of the bordello. They spotted him and began shouting for him to stop. He mounted and sent his horse forward gunshots sounding in his ears.
Scott was awakened with the sound of his cell door being opened. The lamp had already been lit. He squinted at the brightness. Whoever had opened the door had left the room. He stood up eyeing in confusion a large box, a sack and a jug of water on the floor in the outer room. He heard noise on the stairs and then Pedro entered the room half carrying, half dragging Johnny with him.
“Johnny!” Scott said in shock going to help Pedro. “What happened?”
“Shot in the back” Pedro breathed.
Scott nodded and picked up his brother being careful of his wound and gently laid him on his stomach on the cot.
“I have brought supplies.” Pedro said hurriedly. “Senor Scott, you must remove the bullet. I cannot stay. I must get rid of the horse and clean up. They will be searching for him.”
“I haven’t done that very often, Pedro.” Scott said uncertainly.
“You will succeed” Pedro said patting Scott’s arm. “I will lock the doors behind me.” With that he was gone.
Scott looked at Johnny bleeding on the cot. He went to the supplies and grabbed a clean cloth and the water. He went into the cell, poured water into the basin on the small table and soaked the cloth. “You will succeed.” Scott muttered to himself sarcastically repeating Pedro’s words. Scott wasn’t so sure. He had watched it done many times but had only actually removed bullets from the shoulder, arm and leg, never the back. You can do this Scott he told himself, you have to.
“Boston, just how often is not very often?” Johnny asked in a pain filled voice.
Scott took a deep breath. “Often enough, little brother.” Scott said his voice exuding confidence. “Now let’s get your shirt off.” Scott helped Johnny remove his shirt. Scott gently cleaned and then examined the wound. It was an inch away from Johnny’s spine but the bullet tract looked like it angled away from the spine towards the right clavicle.
“How bad is it?” Johnny whispered.
“It looks like it entered from an angle. It doesn’t look bad but I don’t know where the bullet’s lodged.” Scott answered. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”
Scott went out to the supplies and collected what he thought he would need. He held up the probe the old man had for bullet removal. He had seen the same one used by doctors in the Union army. He put everything he needed in a box and took it in the cell. “There is some whiskey here, do you want some?” Johnny shook his head. Scott used the whiskey to sterilize the probe.
“Try to hold as still as you can. I’m sorry but this is going to hurt.” Scott said his voice apologetic. Scott pushed the probe into the wound gently guiding it along the bullet track. He felt Johnny tense in pain and he tried to ignore his low moans concentrating on passing the probe. It seemed like hours but it was really only minutes before he felt a resistance that could be the bullet. He pushed a bit past the resistance and then slowly began to pull out the probe. It came out of the wound with the bullet intact.
Scott breathed a sigh of relief. “I don’t believe it. I got it! How are you doing Johnny?”
“Glad that you didn’t talk like that before you started.” Johnny said with a hint of humor in his voice.
Scott cleaned the wound with whiskey and placed a few stitches. He put carbolic on and bandaged it. He gently helped Johnny shift on to his side and put some pillows behind him and covered him He sat down beside the cot and gave Johnny a drink of water and wiped Johnny’s face with a cloth soaked in cool water. Johnny sighed at how good it felt. The pain had lessened and mostly what he felt was exhaustion.
“Scott?” Johnny asked drowsily in a wistful tone. “Are you really my brother?”
Scott grew serious as he heard the longing in the younger man’s voice. It tugged at his heart. “I really am your brother.” Scott answered solemnly.
Johnny searched Scott’s face and eyes looking for any sign of deception and found none. “I was betrayed again tonight, Scott. But, I want to believe you.”
Scott took Johnny’s hand and half smiled at him. “If you can’t believe anything on faith Johnny, you’re doomed to a life of doubt. Now try to get some sleep, little brother.”
Johnny looked at his hand encased in Scott’s hands and then met his brother’s unfaltering gaze. He smiled a little and closed his eyes and let sleep overtake him.
Johnny awoke several hours later. At first he did not know where he was but the sharp ache in his back reminded him. The lamp had been turned down low. Scott was sprawled on a blanket on the floor beside the cot fast asleep. Johnny tried to shift his position and gasped as his wound pulled. Scott opened his eyes and got up to help Johnny. He put the pillow back in place to support him. “You doing alright Johnny?” Scott asked in a low voice. Johnny was about to answer when noises of furniture being moved around wafted down from upstairs.
“Get my gun belt, it’s in the box. They’re searching upstairs.” Johnny said in a low voice sitting up. Scott got it and gave it to Johnny. He sat down next to Johnny on the cot and let his brother lean against him. There was another crash.
“They won’t hurt Pedro, will they?” Scott asked in dread.
“I don’t think so. Not unless they find me.” Johnny answered. “We have to get out of here though.”
“You do have a bullet wound, you know.” Scott chided. “When were you thinking about leaving?”
Johnny smiled slightly. “Tomorrow night. I was thinking we could ride double until we can get another horse.”
“Seems like that might be a little soon for you.” Scott replied. “I do have a destination in mind though.”
Johnny looked at Scott with interest. “And where might that be?”
“Lancer Ranch, Morro Coyo, California.” Scott said with a grin. Scott grew more serious. “My grandfather lied to me Johnny, and your mother may have lied to you. It occurs to me Grandfather may have lied to me about Murdoch Lancer too and that our father may have some answers for us, the truth. Besides it’s time we met.”
“Boston, you’re crazy.” Johnny laughed. “I’ll consider it, though. It might be fun to see Murdoch Lancer’s face when the two of us drop in on him.” The noise upstairs had stopped. There were two hard knocks on the floor. “That’s Pedro’s signal for all is well.” Johnny said. The Rurales had left and both brothers settled back to sleep.
The next night Johnny insisted they leave. The house was on the northern edge of Tucson so they didn’t ride through much of town and they stayed off the main road. Johnny was still weak and he slept much of the night against Scott’s shoulder. They kept riding most all day and finally camped the next afternoon. Scott rolled out a bedroll for Johnny in the shade and helped him settle in. He watered the horse and tied it to graze. He brought out the sandwiches and fruit Pedro had packed for them. They sat quietly and ate.
“So what do you think Johnny? Do we head for Morro Coyo?” Scott asked hopefully. “You know I want to.”
Johnny sighed. “Si, hermano. You must like rejection is all I have to say.”
Scott smiled. “Perhaps, but I seem to have won your acceptance.”
Johnny smiled his eyes lighting up. “I could do worse for a brother.”
Scott put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder. “I’m happy with the one I have, also.” Johnny met his brother’s gaze and then bowed his head. He put his hand on Scott’s and an understanding passed between them.
Their next stop was San Diego. Scott found a horse he liked and bought some tack. Scott also bought some new clothes and a western hat. Next they went to a gun shop. Johnny helped his brother pick out a side arm. Scott picked out a rifle he liked. “Well brother am I ready to make it out here?” Scott asked in an amused voice.
Johnny grinned. “Well at least until you open your mouth.”
Scott gave a half laugh. “Very funny, little brother.” Scott said ruffling Johnny’s hair as he walked by him out of the shop. Johnny looked after his brother in surprise, then a slow smile spread across his face as he followed him.
“Scott how about a drink?” Johnny asked. “There’s a saloon right across the street.”
Scott nodded and followed his brother. He remembered everything Johnny had told him about surviving out west. He stopped behind Johnny and scanned the room. He followed Johnny to a back table and sat down. A saloon girl came over and took their order for 2 beers. Johnny pulled his hat down low.
“See someone you recognize?” Scott asked in a curious voice.
“No, I’d like to avoid being recognized is all.” Johnny replied.
“Madrid!” a gruff voice called from behind Scott.
“I guess it can’t be avoided.” Scott said grimly. He sat twirling his beer as a man came up beside him.
“Can I help you?” Johnny asked in cool voice.
“Ya know what I want, Madrid” the man said in a demanding voice.
Scott frowned. The man was older by a few years and he wore his gun like Johnny did. Plus he smelled bad, really bad.
“Whatever it is, I’m not interested.” Johnny said his voice taking a slightly firmer tone.
“My name is Carson Black and I am calling ya out ta dance.” The man said not giving up. He was waving his gun around.
“Well Carson Black, I’ve never heard of you.” Johnny drawled in a slightly amused tone. Then Johnny got more serious. “If you want to see tomorrow, back off.”
Scott knew from his talks with Johnny he needed to stay out of it. But when Black put his gun to Scott’s temple it became more difficult. “You yellow Madrid? Come out and dance or it’s your friend here who won’t see tomorrow.”
Johnny’s eyes grew narrow and dark. “That tears it. Outside then Black” Johnny said his voice deadly. Black sneered and put his gun back in his holster and walked outside.
Scott looked at his brother. “Is this the way it always is Johnny?” Scott asked his voice tense.
Johnny sighed. “Pretty much, brother.” He made for the door with Scott following. Black was already in the street. A crowd was already starting to form on the boardwalks. Scott hurried across the street as Johnny strolled to face Black. Scott scanned the street and the rooftops. He saw a gunman on the rooftop to the right of Johnny. His brother was looking at Scott and Scott gave a head movement letting him know of the position of the bushwhacker.
Scott had a bad feeling as Johnny got into position. He slipped into the livery and grabbed his rifle. He came out and scanned the rooftops again. That’s when he saw a slight movement on the rooftop directly behind his brother. Scott had no idea if Johnny saw the man. Scott moved to an opening of an alley so he could get a good shot if the bushwhacker showed himself to try to shoot Johnny. Scott figured Johnny would have no problem with Black and the other man. Johnny was facing Black now and waiting for his move. When it came Johnny cleared leather before Black and shot him in the heart and then turned in one fluid movement shot the man to his right. Johnny heard another shot and turned in time to see another man fall off the roof and land dead in the street behind him. Johnny looked at Scott with the still smoking rifle in his hands and slowly smiled. Scott nodded at his brother and went back into the stable. He knew it was self-defense but that Johnny would have to speak to the sheriff. He also knew Johnny would want to get out of town as soon as possible. He was glad Johnny and he had talked about things like this before. Scott had to admit this whole thing had unnerved him. He felt sick as he quickly saddled the horses. He was leading them out as Johnny came up.
Johnny grabbed his horse and mounted. “Let’s get out of here.” He said urgently to Scott.
“Everything settled?” Scott asked as he mounted. Johnny nodded and urged his horse forward and Scott followed. They rode in silence for miles. Johnny stole a glance at his brother. Scott looked unhappy and troubled. Johnny swallowed. Maybe what Scott had witnessed was more than he could accept. Johnny’s gut twisted. Was he going to lose this man too? Somehow this man had gotten under his skin. They were not just brothers but they were friends, weren’t they?
Scott all of a sudden pulled up. Johnny did the same and looked at him quizzically. Scott nodded at a pool just off the trail. “Let’s water the horses while we have some.” Scott said using that as an excuse. He needed to talk to Johnny and he finally had it straight in his mind what he wanted to say. Scott let his horse drink and sat down on a large rock and motioned Johnny to do the same.
Here it comes Johnny thought a wave of sadness washing over him.
Scott looked at his brother his lips in a thin line. “That was a terrible thing we had to do.” Scott said looking down at his boots.
Johnny nodded. “They didn’t leave us much choice.” He replied.
Scott looked up and met Johnny’s eyes. Johnny was surprised at what he saw there. Caring and acceptance.
“I don’t want this kind of life for you anymore, Johnny.” Scott said his voice troubled. “I understand why you turned to the gun and that you are good at it. But you are my family and maybe Murdoch Lancer will be part of that but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you and I stick together and find something we both would like to do.”
“And what if I like being a gunfighter?” Johnny asked not really believing what Scott was saying to him.
Scott shook his head. “I don’t think you do. I saw your face back there.” Scott said earnestly. “But, of course, you have to want to change. It doesn’t matter what occupation you choose, I’m your brother and we need to stick together. Like today, I’ll always have your back.”
“Damn it, Boston.” Johnny said in an angry voice. “You think I can change just like that?”
“Hell no, Johnny. I know for a while people won’t let you and it will be hard. But if you want to hang up your gun and become more like Johnny Lancer, I’m saying I will do everything I can to help.” Scott said meaning it. “But it’s your decision, brother. Whatever you decide I want us to be a family. We’ve missed too much already.”
“Damn it, Scott. I do think you’re crazy sometimes.” Johnny said smiling. “I’ll think on it brother.”
Scott and Johnny rode until past dusk. When they finally were settled in their bedrolls Johnny sighed. Scott and he needed to talk but he was loath to bring up his earlier behavior but he felt he had to clear the air.
“Scott, do you think you’ll ever be able to forgive me for what I did to you?” Johnny asked softly.
Scott frowned. ”You told me your reasons. Why did you think I was a Pinkerton agent?”
“They’ve been dogging me for 2 years. Nine months ago I got ahold of one. I back-handed him, messed him up a little. He admitted Murdoch Lancer hired him to find me. Then 5 months ago another man who I had pegged as a Pinkerton agent tried to shoot me. It doesn’t make sense. Then you showed up Scott and the things you said about my mother and being my brother, I just got real angry.” Johnny said bitterly. “I am sorry Scott. I understand an apology isn’t enough…”. Johnny stopped. He felt wretched.
Scott heard the note of despair in his brother’s voice. “I’ll forgive you brother, but first you have to forgive yourself. We both just have to get past it.” Scott stopped. All of a sudden he felt sick to his stomach. His brother’s words about a Pinkerton agent trying to kill him 5 months ago brought the last line of the last report dated 3 months ago from his grandfather’s desk back to his mind. ‘As of 2 month ago, the problem still has not been eliminated.’ Scott looked at Johnny. Johnny was the problem. His grandfather had sent a Pinkerton or someone hired by them to kill his brother. Scott realized it was conjecture but he knew Harlan Garrett and unfortunately Harlan Garret knew Scott. Had his grandfather been afraid he would find out about Johnny and leave as he did? Is that why he had tried to get rid of Johnny? Scott had a sobering thought. What if they were still trying to kill his brother? Scott looked at his sleeping brother. He looked so young in sleep. Scott shook his head. He wouldn’t sleep tonight and tomorrow he’d have to warn Johnny. Grandfather, just what are you up to, Scott thought.
On the trail the next day Scott told Johnny of his suspicions. Johnny took it well. He’d shrugged his shoulders. At least he knew why some Pinkerton’s were just looking for him and others wanted to kill him. He could tell Scott was angry and felt betrayed. He knew how his brother felt. It was a hard thing to think someone you cared about was not the person you thought they were. Both Scott and he might have to face up to that. He felt closer to his brother for it but with the grim look on his brother’s face he took no joy from it.
They stopped next in Visalia. Scott sent a telegram to his grandfather hoping to stop him.
I’m with my brother Johnny. Call off your henchmen now. I know what you are trying to do. Don’t make me involve the authorities.
“Do you think that will stop him?” Johnny asked quietly noting his brother’s firm resolve.
“I only bluff at cards. He knows I say what I mean. But truthfully I have no idea.” Scott said ruefully. “I’m exhausted, Johnny. I could use a hot bath, a good meal and a soft bed tonight.”
Johnny grinned. “You do look a little rough around the edges big brother. How about a bath, a meal, a little siesta and then sometime in the bordello. They have a real nice place here. I mean we can play some poker, find a nice woman to warm our beds.”
Scott looked down a smile playing on his lips. “Even better” Scott said in an amused voice gently back handing Johnny’s stomach. Scott had to admit after the bath, meal and nap he felt almost human again. That and the straight flush 8 high he held in his hand. Not to mention the brunette who was nuzzling the back of his neck.
Johnny grinned as his brother won the hand. Damn Boston was a pretty good poker player. And once the ladies had gotten a glimpse of his blond good looks and that cultured voice of his, well he’d pretty much had his choice of them. His choice was a bit of a surprise to Johnny. Lucy was a few years older than Scott. She had a beautiful body and she was attractive but not what you would call pretty. His brother had spent time talking to several girls and then had asked Lucy to be his company for the night. Now his brother had cashed in and he was sitting with 2 drinks in front of him and Lucy on his lap. They were talking each laughing now and then over what the other had to say but talking. Johnny had made his choice too, a girl he’d been with before, Jena. She was young, blond, buxom and lots of fun.
“Hey Jena,” Johnny asked. “What do ya think Lucy is talkin’ to my brother about.”
Jena laughed. “Well now, Johnny. Lucy is real well educated so she could probably talk to your brother bout anything he wanted.” Johnny watched his brother with interest. Lucy gave Scott a deep kiss and Scott got to his feet. He took Lucy’s hand and followed her upstairs.
Johnny chuckled. “Bout time. I thought he was goin’ to talk to her all night. Jena speakin’ of.” He held out his hand and she led him upstairs.
They rode north again the next day. Both of them were in a much better mood. By the time they reached Morro Coyo it felt almost if they had been raised together. They’d talked extensively about Murdoch Lancer wondering how he would react to meeting them. When they rode into Morro Coyo it seemed like a quiet town. The buildings favored the Mexican Style adobe buildings.
“I’ll get a room if you livery the horses.” Scott said looking around. Johnny nodded. Scott dismounted and gave the reins to Johnny and entered the hotel. He got 1 room with 2 beds, ordered two hot baths. He signed Scott Lancer to the registry. He got the key and told the clerk to watch out for Johnny. Scott trudged up the stairs and sprawled on the bed. He left the bed near the window for his brother. Johnny wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise. It was nearly 4:00. Johnny came in followed by men bringing two tubs in to the room. He sat on the bed.
“Dang, Boston” Johnny said in an amused voice. “I ain’t never been so clean since I met you.”
Scott grinned. “Well that’s good brother. I’ve never been around so many bad smelling people in my life. Well maybe in the war but I didn’t notice it much because I smelled the same.”
Johnny grew more serious. “Someday you’re going to have to tell me about that war Scott.”
“Someday I will, little brother.” Scott said softly. He’d never talked to anyone about the war but he knew Johnny would be the one he would talk to someday soon. As painful as it was Scott knew he needed to talk about it. He had come home sick and weak and once he had gotten well he had taken to drinking, partying and womanizing. It was just as well he’d left Boston before he had found himself on the receiving end of some irate father’s shotgun.
As the Lancer boys bathed, ate and turned in early they had no idea the danger looming for them in the small town of Morro Coyo. A man sat in the Morro Coyo saloon. He was a gunfighter by the name of Day Pardee and he was not a happy man. Another man came and sat down with him.
“Well, what have you found out Coley?” Day asked taking a drink of tequila.
“His name is Scott Lancer. He and Madrid are thick as thieves. They are staying in the same hotel room. The hotel clerk says they are staying one night.” Coley said in a low voice.
“Must be one of Lancer’s kids and they’ve hired Johnny Madrid. They most likely will be heading out to the ranch tomorrow. We have to make sure they don’t arrive.” Day said in a diabolic voice. Coley nodded and they made their plans late into the night. Day had spent too much time trying to take over the Lancer Ranch and he was not going to let the likes of Johnny Madrid stop him now.
Scott got up early and dressed. He let Johnny sleep and went downstairs intending to get coffee. At the bottom of the stairs Coley was waiting with two other men. They attacked him. Scott struggled until Coley hit him over the head with the butt of the gun. They carried Scott out the back of the hotel and walked into the back of the saloon. They put him in the back in a small room and bound his hands behind his back. His ankles were bound too. They threw water on him and he came around. They hauled him off the floor and put him on a chair.
Scott looked up at the three men. “Who in the hell are you supposed to be?” He asked angrily.
Coley laughed. “Did you really think we were going to let you and Madrid ride out to help your father?”
Scott thought hard. He had no idea what the man was talking about but he hoped to get more information. “Are you the boss?” Scott asked looking defeated.
“No, I’m not Day Pardee.” Coley answered derisively. “He’s outside in the bell tower waiting for Madrid to show his face. He’ll cut him down just like he did your daddy and his Segundo. Unfortunately your father made it, but Madrid won’t and neither will you.”
“Murdoch will beat you without us.” Scott sneered.
Coley laughed again. “He’s on his last leg boy.” Coley jeered. “We’ll be living at the Lancer hacienda within a week.”
“Coley!” One of the other men yelled from the saloon. “Madrid just went to the livery.”
Coley grinned at Scott. “When he comes back, Pardee will drop him. Then it will be your turn.” With that Coley left the room to watch from the saloon.
As soon as he left Scott got to the floor and with some difficulty pulled the knife out of his boot with his numb fingers. He dropped it to the floor and picked it up with his hands and cut his wrists and then his ankles free. “Oh God Johnny..stay in the damn livery..please brother give me a few minutes.” Scott whispered. He checked the hall and left the saloon out the back and ran and entered the back door of the hotel. He took the stairs two at a time. Their room door was locked so he forced it open. Thankfully his rifle was still by his bed. He grabbed it and left the hotel the same way he had come in. He ran past the backs of several buildings and then cut between two of them towards Main Street. He stopped before clearing the buildings. He breathed a sigh of relief. He had a shot from here. Pardee stood beside a column in the bell tower. Scott could see him easily from his side of the street but from the other side where the livery was Johnny wouldn’t see him until he got to the middle of the street.
Scott tried to calm himself down. He had to make the shot. Johnny was coming out of livery. Scott took aim at Pardee who was aiming at his brother. Scott slowly squeezed the trigger. Johnny hit the ground at the rifle’s report. “Johnny! The saloon!” Scott shouted in warning not taking his eyes off Pardee. Pardee seemed to stand still but then he fell forward over the ledge and down to the ground. A bullet hit the building close to Scott. He looked up and there was an Indian where Pardee had been. Scott took aim and fired and was pleased to see him fall to the ground too. Gunfire from up the street drew his attention. Coley and the two other men who had accosted Scott lay dead in front of the saloon. Scott took a few steps out on the boardwalk. Johnny was slowly standing up from behind a water trough. Both of them scanned the street, building windows and rooftops for other shooters.
Scott slowly walked down the boardwalk towards Johnny. Two more men came out of a building behind Scott. One of them pulled a gun.
“Scott!” Johnny shouted as he pulled out his gun and fired. Scott dove to the ground. The first man went down as Johnny bullet found its mark. The second man raised his hands and hollered for Johnny not to shoot. Johnny ran over to Scott and gave him a hand up. “You alright brother?” he asked in a tense voice.
“I’m fine, Johnny.” Scott said turning to the man holding his hands up. “Throw down your gun.” Scott ordered pulling his own gun. He walked towards the man and Johnny followed. Scott gave the man a hard look. “What’s your name friend?”
“Bill Phelps.” The man stammered.
“Bill.” Scott said his voice cold. “How many other men does Pardee have and where are they?”
Bill looked at Scott and Johnny uneasily. He had heard a lot of things about Johnny Madrid. “About 15. They’re camped a couple miles out of town at Wolf Creek.”
“Well Bill.” Scott said with a thin smile. “You ride out there and tell them to clear out or Lancer will come gunning for all of you.” He pointed to Pardee’s body “See what happens when you cross us? Now get out of here and don’t let us see you around again.” Bill nodded and left for the livery.
Johnny walked over and turned over Day Pardee’s body. “Scott what in the hell is going on here?!”
Scott haltingly told Johnny what had happened earlier that morning to him. Johnny could tell his brother was shaken. Johnny put his hand on his brother’s arm. “Damn Boston, remind me never to sleep in again. You did good, brother, real good.”
Scott frowned as he watched Bill Phleps ride out of town. Scott looked down at Pardee’s body. “Did you know him?” Scott asked in a hollow voice.
“I knew him. He was a gunfighter. But mostly he was a vicious killing animal. He raped and tortured women for the fun of it. Ain’t nobody going to miss him Scott.” Johnny said firmly. “They would have killed both of us.”
Scott nodded and looked up at the livery owner walking toward them. “You boys had quite a morning.” He said with a smile on his face. “Like to thank ya for riddin’ the town of these desperados. They’ve been terrorizin’ the town for months. I’m Jonah Ryan.”
Scott held out his hand. “Scott Lancer. This is my brother Johnny Lancer.”
Jonah shook Scott’s and then Johnny’s hand. “You boys wouldn’t be any relation to Murdoch Lancer?”
“He’s other father.” Johnny said giving Jonah 2 $20 gold pieces. “Sorry for the mess. Give this to the undertaker would you? My brother and I were just leaving.”
“Be glad to.” Jonah said. “Your father’s a good man. He’s been the last man standing up against these land grabbers”
“Thanks Mr. Ryan.” Johnny said without any emotion. “Come on Scott. I got the horses saddled.” Scott nodded to Mr. Ryan and followed Johnny to the livery.
The brother’s rode in companionable silence out to the Lancer Ranch. When they came to the Lancer Arch they stopped for a moment and regarded it. “I’m not sure the Old Man is going to be happy to see us.” Johnny said doubtfully.
Scott grinned at his brother. “Time will tell, little brother.”
The brothers rode at a trot towards the ranch only to have four vaqueros come out of cover with rifles pointed at them. They were ordered to throw down their guns and to get of their horses. Scott winced as his hands were bound behind his back for the second time in a day. Johnny looked really angry as the same was done to him.
“Let’s go meet our father..find out the truth…I want to Johnny.” Johnny muttered sarcastically under his breath so only Scott could hear as they were forced to walk around the bend to in front of the hacienda.
Scott could not help but laugh a little. They were forced to their knees. “Now take it easy, Johnny. It’s just a little misunderstanding.” Scott said unable to keep a little amusement out of his voice. Both of them grew silent as a grey haired mountain of a man with a limp and a cane came out of the hacienda and conversed with one of the vaqueros.
Teresa O’Brien looked closely through the window at the two bound young men kneeling in the dirt as Murdoch talked to his Segundo, Cipriano. There was something about them. Her eyes widened as suddenly she knew what it was. She opened and ran through the French doors of the hacienda. “Murdoch!”
Murdoch turned around. “Teresa, you shouldn’t be out here.” Teresa pulled Murdoch down and whispered in his ear. Murdoch slowly turned and stared at the two young men. His mouth opened and then shut. “Cipriano, cut them loose. Boys, please come inside” Murdoch said his voice gruff and headed for the hacienda.
Teresa waited for them to be freed. “You’re Johnny” She said pointing at Johnny. “And you’re Scott Lancer.”
“You’re very astute, Miss ?” Scott said rubbing his wrists.
“O’Brien. I’m Murdoch’s ward. My father used to be Segundo here.” Teresa explained as she led them inside. “You both look like the pictures Mr. Lancer has of your mothers.”
Scott and Johnny walked into a large room with lots of furniture and a huge book shelf. Their father stood beside a large desk and large window with a beautiful view. Murdoch Lancer turned toward them. “I’m sorry. We didn’t think you were coming. The Pinkerton’s lost track of you Johnny and they reported you Scott had left Boston. We have not had word they found you two.” Murdoch threw two fat envelopes on the desk. “Come and get your money.”
“Money?” Scott asked in a confused voice.
“The $1000 for listening money.” Murdoch said.
Scott could not help but smile as Johnny went over and picked up his envelope. He handed Scott his. “Well we are listening old man.” Johnny said in a hard voice.
Murdoch looked hard at his younger son. “You’ve got your mother’s temper” he said to Johnny and then turned to his eldest son. “ You’ve got your mother’s eyes.”
Scott winced. He felt a bit of anger well up. He already knew he had his mother’s eyes. In fact he knew he looked very much like her. He’d grown up in her father’s house, hadn’t he. Her pictures were everywhere not to mention the huge portrait his grandfather had had painted of her when she was 17 that hung over the great room fireplace.
“I’m well aware I look like my mother, Sir.” Scott said his voice cool. “I find it a bit odd that I know what my deceased parent looked like but now at age 24 I finally lay eyes on my living parent.”
Murdoch looked hard at Scott. “If the air needs clearing, lets clear it. Your mother’s family thought she was daft to marry me, not a year off the boat from Inverness and maybe they were right. You were born, she died, I left you in their hands. Period. He turned toward Johnny. A couple of years later I met your mother down at Metamoros. She…we got married. Two years after that I awoke one morning and found her gone and you along with her.”
“That ain’t the way I heard it!” Johnny said angrily. Murdoch Lancer went on a rant about not caring about what he’d heard, that the past was dead and gone and what they were talking about now was his ranch. Johnny was watching his brother who had a sad look on his face. Johnny felt for his brother. At least he had had his mother for a while. Scott hadn’t had either of his parents. And now for Scott to meet this bastard who summed up Scott’s whole life in a few sentences, well Johnny wanted to hit the old man for hurting Scott.
“You’ve been having some trouble, Sir?” Scott asked.
Murdoch Lancer told them what had been happening, his Segundo killed, himself wounded, raids, fields burned, workers scared off.
“Well then it’s the ranch you’re worried about, huh?” Johnny said with a bit of a smirk on his face.
Murdoch was looking out of the window. “I love this ground more than anything God has ever created. I’ve got a grey hair for every good blade of grass you see out there. They’re trying to drive me off this place.”
“Who is?” Scott asked.
“A land pirate by the name of Day Pardee.” Murdoch said. “I have 18 good men left, you two make 20.”
“Hold on. Now you’re talking gun money. That don’t come on a lunch.” Johnny said his tone almost mocking. Scott had a wry grin on his face.
“I don’t want your guns. I want your arms, legs, and your guts, if you got any.” Murdoch said looking at Scott.
Johnny sneered. You’ll see what kind of guts your sons have old man Johnny thought. “If we come up with these arms, legs and guts what do you come up with?”
“One-third.” Murdoch answered.
“Of what?” Johnny shot back.
“Everything you see out there.” Murdoch said. “100,000 acres, 20,000 of beef and the finest Carbonara de palominos in the San Joaquin.
Scott and Johnny both gazed out the window. Johnny saw the look of longing in Scott’s eyes. Damn, his brother wanted this. Johnny sucked in his breath. “You wouldn’t mind putting it in writing would you? No offense.”
Murdoch pulled out his billfold and pulled out a piece of paper. “This do?”
Johnny took the paper and looked at it and handed it to Scott. “You didn’t sign it.” Johnny said.
“Nothing for nothing” Murdoch said firmly. “You’ll get your share when you get the man who put this bullet in my back. Day Pardee. Each one third share but I call the tune.
Johnny laughed and looked at Scott. He guessed that both of them wanted to try ranching. “I guess we each own one third of a ranch Boston.”
Scott smiled that smile that lighted up his slate blue eyes. He turned towards Murdoch who had a confused look on his face. “I’m sorry, sir. We weren’t exactly forthcoming on our arrival. You see we’ve already killed Pardee and several of his top men. They tried to ambush us in Morro Coyo.” Scott said seriously holding out his hand to his father. “Partners?”
Murdoch shook Scott’s hand and then Johnny’s. They all smiled guarded smiles at each other. They all knew it would take time and work to become a family.
“Ah, Scott?” Johnny asked in quizzical voice. “We still get to keep the thousand dollar listening money, don’t we.”
Scott threw his arm around Johnny’s shoulder. “Of course Johnny…we listened, didn’t we.” He said with a smirk. Johnny gave a half laugh and backhanded Scott softly on his abdomen.
Murdoch watched his two sons feeling it was all surreal. He realized that somewhere, somehow his sons had met each other. That would be a story for a different time. Right now he was ecstatic that they were home and he would finally get the chance to know them. He felt happy, something he had not felt in many, many years. This huge hacienda and ranch he had spent his life building up finally had the two young men he had done it for living inside its four walls. His sons were home and for that he was grateful.