A New Year’s Tale
Typical Lancer disclaimers apply. I swear this was entirely my muse’s idea - he whispered in my ear his story to be told while I was minding my own business running errands. Here’s my own little Lancer <Johnny> ditty I came up with while shopping: “Pleasure to treasure, happy to hold, I didn’t break him and if he were for sale – I’d be shouting SOLD!”
Summary: New Year’s First Footin’ – Wrong Footin’
Warnings: Forecast calls for occasional showers of cussin’ along with strong gusts of wind…..
~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~
Johnny’s eyes fluttered open when his brain registered that there was bright sunlight shining down upon his face along with a persistent sawing noise that was buzzing in the room. Wondering just exactly where he was, he warily sat up, bringing his hand to his forehead, slowly, ever so slowly shaking his head side to side trying to clear away the cobwebs. His tongue felt three times its normal size and his throat was as parched as a dry well on a hot July afternoon in the Arizona desert.
Johnny traced his tongue across his lower lip, seeking moisture he instead tasted blood in the right corner; he gingerly reached up to touch the spot to find his lip was indeed spilt. He felt the back of his head and grimaced at his discovery of a knot the size of a peafowl egg that hurt like fuckin’ hell. Looking down he noticed that his boots weren’t on his feet, and his left big toe was poking out of it’s white sock, his shirt front was stained with blood, sawdust and dirt clinging to it, while three conchos were hanging loose down his right pants’ leg and there was a jagged tear in the left leg, right above his knee.
“Madre de dios,” Johnny muttered as he swung his legs over the side of the cot he was on, his feet hit the floor with a resounding thud, as he placed his elbows on his knees to cradle his throbbing head in his hands, pressing hard against his forehead. “It must have been some dance…hope I’d had a good time ‘cos I feel like crap,” he said to himself.
“Finally awake are ya?” asked a voice that sounded miles away inside of Johnny’s foggy brain. He raised his head sideways to see where it was coming from, his long black hair falling into his slightly opened bloodshot eyes that he squeezed shut since he wasn’t seeing any too clearly out of them.
That faraway voice continued, “‘Bout damn time boy, bein’ that’s is a quarter ta two in the afternoon and ya’ve been sawin’ logs for some fourteen hours now…should have gotten ya some beauty sleep but it don’t show much on that mug of yours. I know ya can’t see it boy, but ya got a beauty of a shiner on ya left eye to go along with all ya other maladies.”
If finally dawned on Johnny just where the hell he was and who the fuck was talking to him, “Pantalones de infierno (Hell’s bells)! Hijo de perra (Son of a bitch)! What the hell was goin’ on?”
“Ya want coffee?” the voice said patiently. “Might help clear ya head some if it ain’t been too far addled with that knot on it.”
Johnny rotated his head in a circle, flexing his neck to get some circulation going and maybe bring some relief from the god awful drums that were bangin’ around inside his head. He reached up with his hands to rub the back of his neck, slowly exhaling and then deeply inhaling. Suddenly he got a whiff of something that smelled as if it had crawl up inside a horse’s arse, had died and was rottin’ away…..phewwww!
That’s when he realized that his friends, Buck and Rambler, were passed out on cots, snoring loud enough to wake the dead…hell it woke him up…..and to make matters worst the smells were being launched from them as they were both passing loud, rancid bursts of gas from their rumps.
“Let me outta here NOW!” cried Johnny as he waved his hand in front of his face. He pinched his nose tight to block the flow of air and yelled with an odd nasal tone, “This is awful enough ta make a skunk sit down and cry!”
“Come on VAL, GIT ME OUTTA HERE!” To emphasize the state of his urgency to be released from his confinement he reached over to grab the cell’s bars with his hands and shook them hard and fast! The metal bars just rattled with a low metallic sound, not budging so much as an inch.
“Amigo, ya ain’t answer my question yet, ya want some coffee?” drawled Val as he slowly took a sip from his own cup, staring down at his friend through the bars with the trace of amusement turning up the corners of his mouth over his friend’s latest predicament.
“NO…I don’t want any fuckin’ coffee of YOURS! Let me OUTTA here,” he repeated as he jumped to his feet, only to sink back down hard onto his cot from the sudden wooziness to his head. Unfortunately, he quickly discovered that the cot had very little support to stop or cushion his sudden hard fall backwards, his rear end broke the middle cot slat and Johnny sank through the paper thin mattress, jamming his backside between the remaining two slats he hit the floor with resounding “THUMP”.
He made quite a picture, what with his white socks, big toe peekin’ out, both knees hangin’ over the edge of the cot in the air, his back end stuck between the slats; Johnny was flayin’ his arms as he tried to gain support to push himself up and out of his own self-induced snare.
“That’ll cost ya, partner,” drawled Val as he continued drinking his coffee. “Ya might want ta pull yourself outta that wood frame real careful like Johnny, so’s ya don’t get any splinters. “Cos I ain’t in the mood ta be pickin’ them outta ya ass for ya, boy!”
Johnny struggled to get up, yelling loudly for Buck or Rambler to wake up and help him, “GIT UP will ya…I’m stuck…help me OUTTA here!” Neither one of his friends stirred, but instead wheezed thunderous snores in objection of their bein’ subjected to all the yellin’ and bangin’ noises in the sub-terrain of their brains. As if in retaliation of their sleep bein’ troubled several lengthy raucous stringers of odorously gas erupted from them that quickly engulfed the small quarters.
“DIOS! BUCK! RAM! Will ya QUIT FARTIN’ long enough ta get me outta this?” he yelled, gasping at the obnoxious odors that were filling his nostrils from his completely dead to the world friends. Johnny spied a tin cup that was under his cot that he could only wish he could reach to toss it hard at the head of one of his comprades.
“Hey, Johnny, I gotta tell ya….ya look pretty foolish sittin’ thar like ya are,” smirked Val. “Hope no one comes is and sees ya like that….it don’t look any too dignified ta me t’all! He began chuckling at his friend’s miseries. He couldn’t help it as Johnny looked dang ridiculous stuck inside the cot, scissoring his feet back and forth, as if that was doin’ him any good to free himself.
“Dammit Val…you’re not much help ta me ya know! Are ya goin’ leave me like this or are ya goin’ ta git me outta here?” said Johnny looking more than pissed at his friends in his current dilemma. If looks could kill…they’d all be deader than dead….yep that’s just what they’d be as the Madrid stare was being tossed in the directions of Val and those snoring, farting cowpokes.
Val grabbed the keys to the cell and opened the door, “Oh hell, give me ya hand,” he ordered. Johnny grabbed his hand with both of his while Val pulled and tugged until he finally released Johnny from the cot’s grasp, breaking the slats that had been tightly wedged alongside Johnny’s butt in the progress. The cot was pretty much useless…only possible use now was for kindling wood….unless a body wanted to lie down on the mattress on the floor underneath the empty shell.
Johnny back on his feet dusted the seat of his pants off, checking closely for any splinters; it would be just his luck to get a big one stuck up his ass he thought. Finding none, he grinned foolishly at Val and said, “So Val what happened? Why am I in here? What did I do?
Val looked sharply at his friend to see if his eyes were focusing, thinking that maybe he had scrambled his brain after all and asked, “Ya mean ta say, boy that ya don’t recollect the drunken bar fight ya was in over at the First Chance saloon with these two?” he indicated the prone figures of Johnny’s friends. “Ya’ll been charged with bein’ drunk and disorderly, destruction of property and public brawlin’…this is a fine way ta start the New Year, amigo. You’re waiting on your pa ta git here….I don’t think he’s goin’ be any too pleased, more than likely I’d imagine he’ll be pissed right good and proper at ya, with good reason.”
“Now Val, hold on a minute….just hold on a minute, ya got it all wrong…..that ain’t what happened, Val,” said Johnny as he rubbed his head. “I was helpin’ these two from gettin’ their brains kicked in…I didn’t start any fight and I wasn’t drunk…..hell, amigo I swear I didn’t even have one beer. Buck and Ram caught a card cheat, double dealin’ aces and kings from the bottom of the deck and called him on it.”
“The cheater had others in on his con ‘cos all I recall is gettin’ hit over the back of my head with a chair when I went ta help ‘em after skinnin’ my knuckles on a couple of ‘em. Musta laid me out flatter than a stiff over yonder at the undertaker’s. Where the hell is that goddamm card cheat or his cronies? Dios! Why ain’t they in here instead of us?” said Johnny looking up at his friend, crinkling his nose in disgust at the next arsenal of gas permeated the cell. “Shit, Val it smells real bad in here, will ya let me out? I reckon they musta had black-eyed peas for their dinner….a lot from the sound of things and the smell. Whewwww!”
Val grinned and started ticking off items on his fingers as he said, “Sure partner…just as soon as ya see the circuit judge later today and tell him ya story – then pay for the damages over at the First Chance - pay for bustin’ up my cot too – and ya pa collects ya and takes ya on home, back where ya belong. As for a card cheat or others….ya three were the only ones lyin’ on the floor, which makes yas the ones holdin’ the bag. Everyone else but old Burt, who was cleanin’ up ya mess, had long since high-tailed it out of there. I ain’t in the mood ta go chasin’ after card sharps when I got me a jail full of uninvited guests already….someone’s got ta baby-sit yas.”
Johnny looked crestfallen as he thought of what Murdoch would have to say, “Ahhhh hell, Val, ya did said it was New Year’s?”
“Yeah Johnny, today’s the 1st of January….a brand spankin’ new year and you start it off with a trip ta the pokey.”
“Have ya already sent for Murdoch?” asked Johnny suddenly turning green, almost falling back down into his broken cot before Val grabbed him to steady him.
“Ya brother, ya remember Scott don’t ya, your sensible brother went back ta fetch him when I wouldn’t release ya ta his custody this mornin’ after he came alookin’ fer ya. Come ta think about it – he wasn’t too pleased ta see ya in here. Why….something the matter?” questioned Val.
Johnny said, “Ohhhhhh nooooo nothin’ much….say ahhhh Val, can ya maybe charge me with a few other misdemeanors ta keep me locked away from Murdoch for at least a month? It’s gonna take that long for him ta settle down and not want ta wring my neck.”
“John Lancer, can’t ya ever just say what the problem is without a body havin’ ta drag things outta ya boy…what’s wrong that ya be willin’ ta spent extra time locked in here, with me out there and ya bein’ in here with these two stinkos?”
“Val…..this just might be the safest place for me ta be. Last night I was supposed ta be the first-footer crossin’ the Lancer threshold with gifts, bringing good luck for the New Year, accordin’ ta Murdoch’s Scottish traditions, at his New Year’s gatherin’, that’s all. Ohhhh dios…..Murdoch’s gonna have my head mounted above the fireplace,” said Johnny shaking that very same head in agony.
“He told me not ta be late and well…I’ve missed my deadline again…. Mierda! Dios!” said Johnny as he slapped his hand to his forehead, grimacin’ at the pain. “Scott just had ta be born with blonde hair….it’s suppose ta be bad luck for a fair-headed person ta cross the threshold first….don’t know who Murdoch could have use for his old tradition since I wasn’t there and it’s gotta ta be a blood relative. Dios! He’s gonna kill me!”
Val grinned and said, “Well, it sure don’t sound any too lucky for ya. Maybe he’d settle for one of his father-son talks in the barn instead of your head. Cheer up Johnny, if it will make ya feel any better, think of yourself as my “first-footer” right here in this cell. Don’t see that it’s brought ya any too much luck though what with “stinky” and “smelly” fartin’ up the place, ya wouldn’t be thinkin’ of ‘em as gifts now would ya?”
“Hell no….uhhhhh…..Val, ya ain’t just goin’ ta leave me in here with ‘em are ya?” Johnny asked.
“Phewwww! Amigo, how do ya git yourself roped into helpin’ out these friends of yours? Sounds ta me like ya should take ta heart the words of that song….”, pointed out Val as he backed out of the cell, shutting the door with a resounding CLANK, he turned the key to lock the door then stepped far away from the smell, he began fanning the office front door to draw fresh air inside.
“Song….what song are ya jabberin’ about?” asked Johnny as he held his nose with one hand and furiously waving his other hand to clear the air after the next round of disgusting thunder rolled out of the peacefully slumbering cowpokes who had shifted to their sides, allowing for their backsides to shoot off their putrid stink bombs louder and with deadlier assault to Johnny’s nostrils.
“That one about old acquaintances should be forgot and never brought ta mind,” quipped Val. “Seems ta me that every time ya get together with ‘em two, ya get yourself into a pucker! I reckon….them ain’t no bunch of roses they’re greeting ya with! Phewwwwww!
Patti H. – December 28, 2008
Happy New Year Ya’ll!!
Texas tradition for New Year’s Day: The more black-eyed peas you eat – the more good luck you’ll have in the New Year!! Maybe there’s something to be said about Buck and Rambler “gifts” to Johnny.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”