A Sizzling Short-Short - Part 2 of 3
For Scott and of course, Johnny
Something to Warm Us Up! Back to the Sizzle!
Usual Disclaimers Apply
~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~
Late afternoon, Johnny popped in bringing Scott his hot tea. He was in high spirits at seeing ol’ Boston propped up against a stack of pillows, looking much less like Great Caesar’s Ghost. “Hey! Looky there, brother, don’t ya seem ta be more like yourself. Here, I brought ya your tea...ya know ya really will be dancin’ that jig come mornin’!”
Scott took the tea, sipped it slowly, enjoying the fragrance of the bayberries as he inhaled the steam rising from the mug. He patted the open space alongside him on the bed. “I can’t think of any other thing least likely to occur. Me, dancing a jig in the morning, indeed not! I’ll be collecting on that bet. Come sit little brother. Tell me what you’ve been up too.”
Johnny sat, impishly grinning as he pointed his thumb towards his chest, chortling, “Me? I ain’t been up ta much Boston, just riskin’ my neck ta get ya those Ahwahneechee Indian healing herbs so’s ya get better. Havin’ my ears blistered by our ol’ man ‘cos I took too long ta his way of thinkin’. Got very little thanks for my efforts.”
“Better your ears blistered than your ass Johnny. I, for one appreciate what you did. Now tell your big brother, just exactly what is in here?” he asked draining the cup.
“Bayberries, hot water and ahhh a secret ingredient that only Phoebe knows for sure,” whispered Johnny. “Even Teresa don’t know about that...I was sworn ta secrecy, stashed it away from her. I just drop a pitch of it in after she makes the tea.”
“Stop, hold it right there. First, you’re spiking my tea with you don’t know what? Second, at the risk of repeating myself, just who is this Phoebe?
“Ahhh I’ll go with number two...Phoebe’s a girl I uhhh I ahhh know,” he hedged. “She’s really somethin’ else; knows all kinds of Native American cures and herbs ta fix ya up, almost better than Sam Jenkins. She gave me the very same brew you’ve been drinkin’ and it sure worked wonders for me. I don’t have any complains.”
“Johnny... you’re not giving me much to go on,” said Scott as he pulled his little brother in a head lock. “Are you going to tell me the whole story or do I have to wring it out of you? I suppose this Phoebe is pretty?”
“Ouch...Dios! Let go Scott! You’re supposin’ ta be takin’ it easy, not stranglin’ me! Ya don’t want Murdoch chargin’ in here do ya and blisterin’ us both? Johnny wiggled out of his brother’s grasp, rubbing at his neck. “If ya want ta know any more then ya better be up in the mornin’ dancin’ that jig,” he said grabbing the empty mug from Scott’s bed, back-stepping to the door, watching Scott hit his forehead with the palm of his hand, lightly.
“Blackmail...my own brother is blackmailing me,” muttered Scott, still tapping his forehead.
“Hey, Boston, stop doin’ that. Get some sleep...I’ll bring ya more tea later!” he winked before shutting the door.
In the morning Scott was up, dressed, whistling as he combed his flaxen hair into place, with a decided spring in his steps and new found energy. He was hungry, ready to eat solid foods, as he opened his door; Johnny fell inside, knocked off balance while leaning on Scott’s door as he was haphazardly pulling on his clothes. “Morning, little brother I was just coming to wake you for breakfast. My, this is a fine day isn’t it?”
Johnny finished buttoning his shirt, dropped his boots to the floor so he could back-slap Scott in his belly, “Ya see, I told ya you’d be better! Now don’t start your jig here...Murdoch and Teresa have ta see it!” he said pulling on his boots and tucking his shirt into his pants.
“Hold up a minute, Johnny. Have you figured out what the secret ingredient is you’ve been adding to my tea?”
“No, I’d told ya, only Phoebe knows...why? Nothin’ wrong is there?” he knowingly smirked.
“Noooo...not exactly wrong, just unexpected side affects. After every cup of tea; I wake up with a huge ahhh...”
“Bone? Feelin’ hot ta trot for one of your girlfriends at Miss Laura’s?” Johnny supplied beaming, as he arched his eyebrows, his eyes shifted down below Scott’s belt.
Scott nodded his head up and down, “That’s right little brother. I don’t think that’s from the bayberries but rather your secret ingredient. I know this because Teresa brought me a cup of tea that didn’t have the same consequences."
“Well Scott, I don’t know what makes it happen. I mean I know what causes it...just not what gives ya that special pole rasin’ upshot. It’s kinda like that “Ol Faithful geyser that regularly erupts like clockwork, only here you just need a cup of tea! I didn’t ask Phoebe...we were otherwise ahhh occupied. But hey Boston, ya seem pretty happy this morning so don’t shoot the messenger. Come on, let’s go downstairs, I want ta see ya dance, brother,” he said, pulling on his arm.
Scott rolled his eyes at his over-zealous little brother, followed him downstairs to the kitchen, where breakfast was being prepared. Murdoch was drinking his morning coffee, looked surprised to see his eldest son. “Scott, how are you feeling? Are you sure you should be out of bed?”
“He’s fine, Murdoch, just like I’d told ya. Ain’t ya Scott? I even heard him whistling this mornin’, practicin’ his jig! Well, go on...show us!” Johnny grinned wickedly.
“I am fine sir. I’ve had a miraculously uplifting recovery thanks to Johnny and his tea, and am well enough to uphold my end of the bet,” said Scott as he picked up his heels, performing a lively jig around Johnny not once but twice!
“Dios! That’s just great, Boston,” smirked Johnny. “Ya see I’d told ya ol’ Scott would be hot ta trot this mornin’!”
Murdoch, Teresa and Maria had watched with their mouths dropping open, wondering just what the heck was in those herbs. “Well, son I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to do that jig around your brother. Now sit down, don’t overdo it.”
Teresa came over to put her hands on Scott’s forehead, “Murdoch, his fever is completely gone, his eyes are clear and his color has returned. I just don’t understand it...bayberries?”
Johnny leaned back on the rear legs of his chair, drinking his coffee, smiling like the barn cat did after running off with one of Teresa’s prized egg-laying chickens. “Yep, bayberries. Boston’s a cured man, which is good since he now owes me a month’s wages. Eat up brother, ya got work ta do!”
Scott gave Johnny his best big brother look leaned over to whisper in his ear, “I want to talk with you after breakfast, in private.”
“Murdoch, if you don’t mind Johnny and I need some private time when we’ve finished. I’ll be happy to tend to the book-keeping and deploy Johnny to his assigned chores afterwards,” Scott said.
“Is there something I need to know? Or is this just between brothers?” Murdoch raised his eyes over his coffee cup, looking at each son with a lingering glaze, trying to ascertain what unspoken dialogue was going on between them. He knew something was afoot but neither boy revealed any clues as they dove into their breakfasts with relish.
“Nah, Murdoch, no worries, just ‘tween ol’ Scott and me, ain’t that right brother?
"Yes, Johnny, no offence Murdoch, it’s a brother thing, that’s all.”
Murdoch continued looking at each son, “None taken boys. I understand how it is between brothers. Take all the time you need...within reason, of course. You both are well aware that we still have a mighty big ranch to run that doesn’t run by its self. Scott, don’t push too hard today, you don’t need a relapse. Johnny, I want you to muck-out all the stalls when you two are done.”
“Yes Sir,” replied the brothers in unison.
The brothers headed to the bath house, far enough away from the inquisitive eyes and big ears of Teresa and Maria. After closing, latching and locking the door, Johnny decided the most obvious place to recline was in one of the two empty bath tubs, grabbing a towel; he climbed in, placed the towel behind his head, crossed his arms to cradle his head and crossed his legs at the ankles raised over the side of the tub.
“Boston, ya might want ta get comfortable, this will take awhile.”
“Of course it will, Johnny, your stories are neither short nor dull. Don’t you dare leave out a single part either! Just because Murdoch doesn’t always know what’s running amuck inside that head of yours, you know that I know when you’re not telling everything. Technically I know you’re not lying but factually you’re not the spilling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Come clean, little brother or you might find yourself needing to use that tub for a bath when I get done wrangling the story out of your hide!
“Ya know, ya can be sneakier than me sometimes Boston,” grumbled Johnny. “Like that time...”
“JOHNNY, now brother before I use my renewed energy to....”
“Okay...okay...I’ll tell ya....jees keep ya shirt and pants on, Scott!” he smirked.
Johnny told Scott all there was to know about Phoebe, her rescue of him, how she nursed him back to health, which was why he hadn’t arrived home sooner. He told Scott about the hot springs, how they had spent time there while Scott leaned his head back against the tub listening to his adventures in Yosemite.
“Johnny, first chance we get, we’re going to see this Phoebe of yours. Find out precisely what the secret ingredient is that you’re adding to my tea. I’m not complaining mind you, we just need to know, that’s all. I mean, what if you put this in a drink that Murdoch has by mistake? Or Teresa? Or anyone else?”
Johnny snorted, laughing so hard, his boot heels thumping against the side of the tub, tears welling in his eyes began streaming down his face, “What’s the matter Scott, don’t ya think the ol’ man would like ta wake up happy with a smile plastered on his face for a change? Might be he’d ease off of us.”
“But Johnny, there’s no one even close to his age around to ahhh trot with him, now that Aggies’s planning on marrying Buck Addison. Don’t even think about the Widow Hargis! Not to mention that it just doesn’t seem an appropriate thing to give our father. A man his age it might harm him, cause a heart attack. God only knows what effect this has on women. Johnny, we must go see Phoebe as soon as possible. Get to the bottom of this.”
“Hot dang, brother I already know what effect it has on Phoebe!” he smiled mischievously.
Teaser Alert! Coming Next: “HOT TIME IN THE OL’ PARK TONIGHT!”
Patti H. – February 10, 2009