Nothing Good . . .
ďWhat are you doing out of bed?Ē
The voice startles me, booming as it does so unexpectedly from the doorway. It makes me lose concentration on what Iím doing; and thatís trying to keep myself upright, as I cautiously make my way from my bed over to the chair by the open window.
I needed to see the outside world, to reassure myself that it was still there! Fool idea I know. But life right now ainít making much sense.
Iím weak from blood loss, dizzy from the remnants of a fever, and so I stumble. My legs betraying me just when I needed them most.
The floor rises to meet me and I close my eyes against the impact. Iím falling like a lead balloon and I know itís gonna hurt!
Just like the voice, the huge hands take me by surprise, catching me, lifting me, easing me back onto the bed; but not before the strong arms tighten around me. Holding me...holding me close like IímÖlike Iím something precious!
For the briefest moment I feel safe, safer than I ever remember feeling before.
Then suddenly I donít
I can hear him talking to me, but he seems so far away! Still, I hear concern in his voice, real concern and itís for me!
Heís calling my name. No ones ever called me John before and I like the way it sounds, the way he makes it sound. Thereís a familiarity about it, as if he knows me, really knows me!
Something cool and damp glides over my face; itís a pleasant and welcome sensation. It helps chase away the darkness thatís been hovering around me. But Iím not ready to open my eyes, not yet; I donít want to break the spell.
I feel his hand on my forehead; it lingers there a little before moving to rest on my cheek. Whoíd a thought this giant of a man would have so gentle a touch!
His tone changes then; becoming firm and authoritative as he eases me onto my side. I struggle against him simply because I hate being told what to do; but Iím no match for his strength or determination.
Insistent fingers seek out the wound caused by Dayís gun. Their painful probing initiating an angry hiss from my lips. Heís not pleased either. He tells me itís bleeding again and seconds later I feel the pressure needed to stop the flow.
Shards of agony tear through my back and I curse him out loud, calling him a few choice names as the torture continues. Theyíre met with a sharp and to the point reprimand. ďWatch your mouth young man!Ē
Anyone else and Iím damn sure Iíd a spat back more of the same. But for some reason, because itís him, I hold my tongue. Still I force my eyes open and glare up at him.
He ignores the icy stare, efficiently renewing the dressing and bandage. Once done he breaks the uncomfortable silence ďYouíre lucky you didnít break those stitches!Ē
I look away suitably chastised. ĎDamn him! Why does he make me feel like some foolish kid?
He holds a glass of water out to me and I snatch it from him, unable to hide the anger I again feel towards him. I hear him sigh, thereís a sadness about it and I know Iím responsible for that.
ďThanks.Ē I force out awkwardly, trying to make some kind of amends.
I can tell itís appreciated, because he eases himself down to sit beside me on the bed. I slowly meet his gaze, hating the tension thatís once more built up between us.
ďYou know if you want anything, need anything you only have to ask. Scott or I would have helped youÖĒ
ďYeah I know.Ē I snap back at him, Iím having difficulty accepting their willingness to help. I ainít used to folk fussing over me. Not like theyíve been doing and I donít want to get used to it neither!
He stares at me thoughtfully; I hate it when he does that and he does it a lot! Iím left wondering what heís thinkingÖwhat he thinks about me! He has to be wondering just what sort of man I am. I look away again suddenly feeling so very unworthy of him and everything Lancer is, even the name.
The short time Iíve been here, the time I spent in town weighing things up, well itís been made clear that Murdoch Lancer is a much respected man, honourable and law abiding! So how the hell did he manage to sire a no hoper like me? I guess itís a question he must ask himself time and time again.
ďThisÖĒ He begins a little hesitantly ďusÖyou Scott and IÖwell itís difficult I know butÖĒ The long pause that follows forces my eyes to meet his. He looks as uncomfortable as I feel but he continues ďI believe itís something worth striving for.Ē
I donít know what to say to that. Heís talking about family now and I know nothing at all about that! All I know is that itís something Iíve never had. Iíve been on the outside looking in a few times, and Iíve liked what Iíve seen; envied what Iíve seen at times.
But presented with the possibility of sharing in it, well Iím left wanting to run and hide! The thought of it all going wrong terrifies me. Isnít it better I remain ignorant of it all than get a taste for it, and have it up and turn sour?
He seems to want it, Scott too; but the biggest surprise of all is that I do too!
The moment I first set eyes on this place something stirred inside of me. A need. A yearning to belong somewhere, to something and to someone.
Iíd sensed something up on that rise, I felt like Iíd found something once lost to me. But I quickly pushed that feeling aside; it scared the hell out of me and still does! I fear waking up one morning and finding it all just a dream!
Right now itís so real it hurts! Itís within my grasp, but should I reach for it will I be able to keep a hold?
If I stay, if I sign those papers, part of all this will be mine, Iíll be a part of something good. I guess the old manís trying to tell me that nothing good comes easy. ďYeah.Ē I finally answer him, but I mustnít sound too sure about it because he looks searchingly at me. I bet heís wondering if Iím really worth the effort.
His expression softens into a smile; he seems prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt. Most men wouldnít. But then he isnít just any man is he? And what he is to me is the very crux of the matter!
My father is no longer the faceless spectre whoís haunted me my whole life; a heart beats in his chest and...well... I guess he ainít the monster I thought he was!
Heís struggling with things too; and so weíve been pussyfooting around each other the last few days.
That ainít gonna help demolish the wall that stands between us. But right now I think weíre both scared of pushing the other away.
No, nothing good comes easy...