A Quick Dip and a Lot of Scrub
This was written in response to the Bathtub Party Day challenge. It is the bathtub scene in the Lion and the Lamb from Johnny's pov.
I stink of sheep, my thumb hurts and the idea of drawing and heating the water for a bath isn't appealing . A man shouldn't have to work on a Sunday.
I walk slowly into my bedroom deep in thought. Thought about Lucy. I usually don't think about her much, she just rests easy at the back of my mind. Thats one of the things I like about her. She doesn't ask much from me. I don't think I can give much right now.
I nearly trip over the tub in the middle of the room. It must have been Scott that hauled it up here, before he went to town. It being Sunday all the help have the day off and Teresa's away. I can't really see the Old Man hauling water up here for my bath. The water's lukewarm at best but I'm so cold, tired and damn grateful that I'm stripping off before you can say sheep dip.
This ain't the kinda bath that you lay back in and soak your weary bones, its a quick dip and a lot of scrub kinda bath. I'm just getting right down to it when there's a sharp knock at the door.
“Hi” Its Murdoch and he looks like he's got something on his mind.
“You're back Murdoch.”
“Yeah, waitin' for you.”
That don't sound too good. We haven't really spoken much since the day he was appointed president of the Cattlegrower's Association. He's been off most days since then looking into some timber contracts and I guess I've been kinda busy myself, just perhaps not as busy with the ranch work as I ought to have been. I'm hoping that he doesn't have a job for me to do round the house this evening. With Scott away I'm the obvious target if he wants something lifted or hauled somewhere and he always seems to need something lifted or hauled. Maybe if I lay it on thick about how hard I'm working and the injury to my thumb he'll ease up on me a bit.
“The seventh day shall be the day of rest.” I work my thumb some in the water to try and ease the stiffness.
He sits down. “What happened to the thumb?”
I sigh. “A sheep sat on it.”
He laughs, long and deep. Its a hearty sound. I really like that laugh. Seems like he's been making that sound more and more recently. More often than not it comes from something I've said or done. I can't help but smile back at him even though smiling was the last thing I expected to be doing this evening.
“Uh Johnny, I just wanted you to know that, keeping your word like you have, eating crow. . “
“Yeah. Eating mutton like you have well, I think you're doing the right thing.”
I stop my scrubbing just to look at him. I catch his gaze for a split second and his eyes are warm when he looks at me. I should have known he'd support me. In truth he always supports me even if its not obvious at the time that that's what he's doing.
Scott told me that Murdoch would say I'm doing the right thing and Scott's almost always right about what Murdoch would say. Somehow though with everybody else in town whispering about me, giving me the cold-shoulder, talking about how ashamed Murdoch Lancer must be its not been easy to believe.
“Of course as president of the Cattlegrowers Association I can't officially condone what you've been doing but as a father I'm proud of you.”
I look down into the water and smile.
“I don't think you would have said that if you would have got a whiff of me before my bath.”
He smiles and stands up slappng me hard on the shoulder as he goes to leave.
“Ahh...” I didn't mean to groan but he pounded me hard enough to leave a bruise.
“A sheep sit on you there too?”
I didn't really want to tell him about the the injury to my shoulder from the fight but now he knows I'm hurt there not to tell him the full story would be, whats that word Scott uses all the time, oh yes, deceitful.
Its not that Murdoch's got a real thing against fighting. I've seen him get into a fight or two if thats the only way to solve things. Its just that he seems to think I get into too many fights. Thinks I should try and walk away sometimes. Been saying it for a while now. Last time I got locked up on a Saturday night for fighting he was so riled he left me in jail to cool my heels all of Saturday night and Sunday morning. When I did get home I wished he'd left me there. Still this wasn't a walk away from it kind of fight.
“No. I got into a fight with a coupla guys on Thursday. They were beating up on Gabe. I think they were Porter's men.”
“Porter killed once over sheep. The Johnson County Massacre.”
“Are you saying if he did it once he'll do it again?”
“You saw the fire in his eyes, the hate.”
He's right. He's good at reading men, especially the men round here. Damn Porter to hell. Damn Gabe for that matter and Lucy too. Now where did that come from?
“Have you seen the fire in my eyes lately?”
“Yeah, I know what you've been going through out there. Its even cut into your Sundays.” No mention of the fight, the fact that I'm behind on the ranch work or that Scott's had to take up the slack. He must be feeling sorry for me.
“How's Lucy taking it?” Well thats just what I was trying to think through before you came in. Don't really want any sympathy on that score.
“She's still out there.”
“She got all carried away with the lambs being born you know.”
I look down into the water, still need to figure this one out. On the one hand she's all-fired keen to help, on-the-other she's very distant.
“Yep” he says as he walks away. “I know about women.”
“I don't.” The bath's gotten real cold all of a sudden.
06 December 2008