Mule Tales
by  S.

// = Flashbacks


Murdoch Lancer watched as his youngest son, Johnny, (Haggis, the middle boy was never seen since he was always with Eugene Barkley) rode off.  Shaking his big head as the tears flew from his cheeks, a flashback entered his mind.

//Harlan Garret, with horns and a tail and ugly leering fangs pounced on Johnny, screaming, "I've always hated you.  That's why I came all this way—just to destroy you!" A maniacal laugh rang out.//

Murdoch hit himself in the head with his calloused hand.  Wrong episode.  Suddenly the images of his scathing words to his dear sweet boy popped up to haunt him, but he manfully stayed to his course.  If the boy didn't care about Lancer's fences then he couldn't possibly stay at the ranch, despite his pearly white teeth and fast draw.

Sniffs were heard in the background.  "Is it my part yet?"

Murdo turned to see his eldest son standing in the sunshine.  Voice filled with emotion the big man replied, "Yes."

Scott mounted his horse and rode towards town.  Once again he had been called on to save the day, just as he had when Pardee had tried to take the ranch.  Sighing deeply, the handsome blond knew that his coming talk with his brother would be to no avail, but being a war hero he would never shirk his duty.

In town, just as expected, beers at 10 paces did not soften the heart of the man with the chip on his shoulder.  After all, the chip was made of coal and besides, Johnny had been abused and affronted by his own father.  Even Murdoch's watch wasn't enough to get him back to Lancer, maybe another $1000, but not some watch that only ticked once every 30 seconds.




Some days later, Johnny did return to Lancer, his chin resting on his chest.  The days away from the empire had been harsh indeed.

//Wes lay bloody in a corral and the watch wasn't in too good a shape either.//   Death is always ugly to a gunfighter.  He sees so much of it.

"Son, you're home!"

Johnny looked up to the see the tears in his cher papa's eyes.  The man had really missed him.  How could he have not known?  A beam of sunlight reflected off Johnny's head.

"Son, you're a changed man!  I can see it in your face!  From now on you'll be brave, thrifty, hard-working, self-sacrificing, and good at knitting."

Johnny frowned, "Thought I was already perfect!  I'm the star of this here show, ain't I?"

"Oh you are, you are and the star of a thousand fanfics, but I have a surprise for you!" he announced as he slapped the young man on the back.

"Watch that, I've still got a sunburn from when I had my shirt off t'other day."

"That's the price of being an idol to the ladies, but about the surprise. . . ."

Johnny simpered, "Told you my mother didn't run away with no gambler!"

Murdoch blinked in confusion; that wasn't in the script.  "It's not that.  While you were gone, I decided to chase the wild horses myself—you know how virile I am.  Anyway, I caught one for you."  Turning to whistle loudly, he called out, "Tio Cipriano, bring out my present for Johnny!"

Johnny was very excited.  Up to now and because of his horrible past, his favorite present had been a handful of dirt with a worm in it.  Still, he had the presence of mind to nudge his father and ask, "Why do I call him Tio when he was only in that one episode?"

"Because it was his plan that saved the ranch!"  Murdo explained.

"What?  I thought it was mine!"

"We've let you think that since you're the star!"

"Oh."  Then Johnny's eyes opened wide.  In front of him was a magnificent beast.  Mouth open, he uttered, "I can't ride him!"

The tall rancher's eyes popped out, "Surely, you can't be prejudiced against a half-breed!"

"He's a mule!  Johnny Madrid can't be seen ridin' a mule!"

"Hey, the Union Army couldn't have won the war without its mules."

Both men turned to face Scott.  "Where'd you come from?"

"The background as usual.  Say look, he's got an army brand on his butt."

"Hmm, what would an army mule be doing all the way out here?" the accentless Scotsman mused.  "Oh well, it doesn't matter because he's yours now, Johnny.  Now that we've kissed and made up, I'm going inside to eat all the angel food cake.  C'mon, what's-your-name, we'll let your brother get to know his new friend."

The oldest and middle Lancer (not Haggis) walked into the great room of the hacienda where the clock was endlessly chiming.

"Psst, they gone yet?"

Johnny turned around and then rubbed his ears.  "Who. . .who said that?"

"Me—you can just call me Francis," his 4-legged companion informed him.

"But you're a. . .mule!"

"Bright boy and I've come to Lancer to help you out of your scrapes."

"Why me?"

"'Cause I figure you 'n me got a lot in common 'n I don't fancy belongin' to that cousin of yours!"

"Cousin?  What are you talkin' about?"

"You just follow me, boy, 'n I'll tell you all about him."

Muttering away, Johnny followed the mule's tail as it flicked away flies.



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