(7th story in the Destiny Series)
I think those ten miles were the longest in my life. Not sure I could have hung in there any longer; at least not without killing someone to make more space for myself... Hey, maybe Mr. Frilly right here beside me would have been a good candidate.
Needling him was fun, though. He said he’s from back East... I wonder where from exactly and what he’s doing here. Maybe I should have tried to make polite conversation with him instead of bugging him like I did. Hell, it doesn’t really matter. I won’t be seeing him no more. I’m sure he’s only passing through and won’t stay in this godforsaken town. Who in his right mind would stay in such a place? Not me, that’s for sure.
I step out before the others. Not very polite, I know, but I just can’t stand being stuck inside anymore. I really, really hate travelling by coach... but walking would have been worse, what with a heavy saddle to carry.
Boy, it’s so good to stretch my legs and my back. The driver hands me my gun. I have to admit I felt kinda naked without it. I re-holster it and put my gloves back on before I grab my saddle. Dios! It’s heavy! I put it down on the ground. No sense holding it before I’m ready to go.
I wonder if the Ol’ Man is even expecting me, since I told the Pinkerton fella’ that for a thousand bucks, I’d go to hell. Ol’ Murdoch might not guess that for me, Lancer and Hell are one and the same place. Yep, I’ll stay in town tonight, ask a few questions here and there, and get to know the lay of the land. Wouldn’t be wise to have barely escaped those damn Rurales’ only to fall into something no better.
Tomorrow will be soon enough to head over to Lancer. First, let’s get something to eat and drink. Then find someone who’ll answer some questions and then, find myself a soft bed. Maybe even a little female companionship, like the gal who’s coming this way! Sure is a pretty little thing… might be a bit too young, though. Hmmm, definitely too young! I think I should stay put and stick to my plan – food, drink, questions, bath, bed… and alone. Will be safer that way.
“Uh, Mr. Lancer?” I hear someone say just as I’m about to head over to the saloon to put the first part of my plan into action.
I turn back and seek who spoke. Well, well, well. Will you look at that? Seems it’s the pretty girl, and just as I say, “Yeah”, someone else answers “That’s me.”
Who the heck is that “someone”? The only person still here is the dandy. He turns back and looks at me in a funny way. Dios! It certainly can’t be…
“I am sorry. Which one of you said?” the pretty girl asks again.
“I did.” And this time again, that same other voice joins mine and that voice belongs to the dandy.
He turns to look at me once more and the girl speaks again.
“You’re Johnny,” she says, pointing her finger at me.
“Then… you’re Scott Lancer!” she adds, pointing her finger at him as well.
“No ma’am,” I say as I move near them. The stage’s door is still open and I close it before I let my hand rest on the side. “He’s no Lancer. My mother only had one kid and that was me.”
“Likewise,” the dandy answers and boy, he looks none too happy.
“Uh, well… We didn’t expect you both at the same time but... but, actually, you are right. It’s Mr. Lancer that had two.”
“Two... what?” asks the dandy. Strange, I was about to ask the same thing.
“Wives… and sons. You two,” the girl explains.
The dandy looks at me. I think he’s disgusted so I look at him and I smile. Then, I let my eyes travel to his clothes and I can hardly keep myself from laughing out loud. He looks so ridiculous in those clothes. And then, it hits me… the dandy, “this” dandy is MY brother! MY half-brother! Dios, I have a brother. I wonder if he’s older or younger than me.
I barely have time to digest the news and figure out his age before the girl takes us to a nearby buggy. Scott – that’s what she called the dandy – sits up front with her and I’m in the back, with my saddle and his boxes. I snort. I can’t believe how many of those he’s brought with him. I guess that means I might be seeing him a little more often than I first thought – if I stick around that is.
Shit! If I have a brother then it’s gonna be harder to kill my Ol’ Man. This Scott, he hasn’t done anything to me. And what if he’s not the only brother I have? But no, the girl said Lancer had two wives… and two sons… us. But what if...? Oh shit. I better concentrate on what those two are saying; maybe I’ll get a clue.
“Tell me, Teresa, you work for my father… our father?” Scott glances at me while he says that. I strain my ears to hear what she’s saying.
“I was born on Lancer. My father was a foreman for sixteen years.”
“Was?” Scott asks.
“Well, he was murdered last November, the same time Mr. Lancer was shot.”
Shot! My father’s been shot? I snort. What do I care?
“Murdered by who?” I ask instead. Dios! Her father murdered... I sigh. I can’t help but feel sorry for the girl. Losing her father must have been hard. She can’t be more than fifteen or sixteen. So young... but then, I was younger than she is when I lost my Mama.
I wonder briefly if my newfound “brother” feels sorry for her too. I have no time to reflect further on that, ‘cause the girl – Teresa – continues to speak and I’m real curious to hear what she’s got to say.
“Well, Mr. Lancer will tell you that. What he won’t tell you is how much it means to him that... that you’re both coming.”
Her last comment leaves me puzzled and I can see that Scott, from the way he glances at me, is as much at a loss as I am. The bastard threw us out, Mama and I. Could it be that he also threw Scott and his Mama out?
Once again, just like when the Pinkerton agent rescued me, I wonder why Lancer wants to see me. Why he’s offering me one thousand bucks for one hour of my time. I have the feeling he must need my help but he’s got a surprise coming...
I have no more time to ponder things as Teresa slows down the buggy to finally stop at the top of a crest. Both Scott and I get up and look below... God! The view is impressive.
“There it is... as far as the eye can see. The most beautiful place in the whole wide world – Lancer,” Teresa says, her voice bursting with pride.
And she’s right... I close my eyes for a few seconds. This... this is too much. I sit down, more impressed than I thought I’d ever be. This is what Murdoch Lancer has stolen from me... a home, a place to be safe... family. I’ll make him pay for this.