Lancer sat out under a tree at Lancer. Even though it was late November,
the California weather was perfect with blue skies, a scattering of white
clouds and air perfumed with the wonderful smells of Teresa O'Brien's cooking.
Engrossed in his writing, the blond Lancer didn't notice his brother's
approach until the younger man grabbed the journal and made off with it.
Johnny didn't go far, but remained just out of reach, backing up each time
his older brother moved closer.
could I have my journal, please?" Scott asked impatiently.
Scott, it's Thanksgiving. What're you doing writin' in this musty
I've told you before that I write down memories and observations about
people I've met or things I've done. When it's filled, I'll start
what are you writin' about this time? Anything special?"
a matter of fact, I was just writing about three special people in my life."
moved somewhat closer, holding the book out in front of him. "Am
I. . .am I in it?" he asked hopefully.
you aren't," the blond replied.
eyes shuttered over as Johnny tried to hide his disappointment.
older brother walked up to the other man, taking back his journal.
Grasping his sibling on his shoulder, Scott forced Johnny to look him in
the eye. "You aren't in it because these three people have already
passed on. I just needed to remember them today."
your mother one of them?"
smiled and nodded. "It doesn't seem possible that I never knew her.
Over the years Grandfather has told me so much about her that sometimes
I imagine I can remember her. I wish I could have told my mother
I loved her just once."
stood there silently for a moment. He could see the emotions in Scott's
blue-gray eyes. "Who else did you write about?"
must have been quite a woman if she put up with you while you were growin'
up." Johnny's eyes twinkled as he teased the other Lancer son.
He just couldn't imagine his blond brother as a small boy.
an understatement, Brother. She was the one who wiped away my tears,
listened to my troubles, and most important loved me. I owe
her a debt I could never repay."
"Boston, if she's like you describe her then I'd say she was more than repaid, just bein' with you." Unspoken in his remark was the regret that Johnny had never had the opportunity to know Scott until recently.
"I'd like to think so, but I wasn't there when she needed me." Scott closed his journal and returned to the bench he had been sitting on with Johnny following him.
who's the third person you were writing about?"
I never met, never talked to, but who gave me an important gift."
filled the sapphire eyes. "A girlfriend?"
mother, but you. . . ."
Our mothers are irrevocably linked in my mind. Did you ever think
about the probability that if my mother hadn't died giving me life, you
might never have been born?"
mouth opened but no sound came out.
my mother had lived, she and Murdoch might have had other children besides
me, but they wouldn't have been you. Of course, my parents might
have. . .separated and then Murdoch might have married your mother, but
somehow I just can't imagine it. In fact, if that had happened, you
and I still might not have been together since my mother would probably
have returned to Boston--and might have taken me with her. In some
strange way, my mother's death gave you the chance at life."
never thought about it that way," protested the gunfighter.
please don't think I'm blaming you at all. Life does have its ironies.
I prefer to think that my mother wanted me to have a hot-headed, stubborn
brother so somehow she arranged for Murdoch and your mother to have you!"
eyes narrowed at Scott's little jibe. "I'm not the only
stubborn one around here."
maybe not, but we've lost too many years so I'm glad we'll have a chance
to make up for them in the future."
too, Boston. When I first saw that dandy who said he was my brother,
I wondered how long it would be before I could take off with the $1000;
but you know, now I'm kinda glad I didn't."
goes for me too, Johnny, however, I believe I'm done with my journal for
today. What do you say we go in and see what goodies Teresa has made?
She said she was going to make something special."
special? I'll bet it's one of them seven-layer chocolate cakes like
she made for my birthday!"
I don't know about that, but we can see."
two young men surreptitiously tiptoed in the back door, leading to the
kitchen pantry. There cooling on one shelf was a flaky red pastry.
"Umm, cherry pie!" crowed the blond.
she made a cherry pie for you! What about me?"
Johnny she makes chocolate cake much more often than cherry pie!"
I don't care. How can I be thankful for a cherry pie when I had my
mouth all set for a big piece of chocolate cake?"
just shook his head. "Sorry about that, Brother, but I'm going to
go tell Teresa thank you. Don't touch my pie!"
Johnny Madrid fidgeted around the sweet smelling pie, grumbling about contrary
bakers and impossible brothers. Still, he had to admit that the pie
did look rather good with its red juice peeking through the lattice crust.
Never a big fruit fan, Johnny decided that maybe he should take one little
taste so that he could get over the shock and then maybe he could force
down one slice for Thanksgiving Dinner. After all, he didn't want
to hurt Teresa's feelings.
off a small bit of crust with just enough filling to get the essence of
the pie, Johnny popped it into his mouth. The tart sweet combination
was delicious. Taking in another blob on one finger, he sucked at
the finger until all the crimson fruit was gone. Looking down at the now
lop-sided pie, Madrid decided to even out the dessert by taking a small
piece from the other side. Just as he scooped it up, he heard a noise
from the great room. It was Teresa humming and she was headed into
the kitchen! Hastily, Johnny tried to stick the handful of filling
into his mouth as flaky bits of crust cascaded to the floor. Then
he dashed out the back door, just in time. Breathing a sigh of relief,
Johnny headed around to enter through the French doors where he found Scott
and Murdoch enjoying a glass of wine before the Thanksgiving feast.
dark-haired Lancer had just stepped inside when he heard a loud crash from
the direction of the kitchen. All three Lancers hurried in to find
a distraught Teresa sitting on the floor, covered with chocolate icing
and the remains of a chocolate cake in her skirt. The tall rancher immediately
went over to help his ward get up, inquiring about what had happened.
In a tearful voice, the young woman admitted, "I. . .I just put the finishing touches on the cake and I walked into the pantry and I. . .I slipped on something. My beautiful cake is ru-ruined!"
at least you weren't hurt." remarked Murdoch.
she wailed, "but it took me hours to get that cake together and my new
dress is a mess." Fleeing the kitchen, she ran into her room and
slammed the door.
and Murdoch began to pick up the sticky debris as well as clean up the
kitchen. Johnny just stood there, stunned, in the middle of the chaos.
Finally, when the kitchen was once more in order, Scott proceeded to Teresa's
room where he knocked on the door. The oldest and the middle Lancers then
persuaded Teresa to come out so that they could all enjoy the dinner together.
a few wine toasts, all set to with a will, striving not to leave any leftovers.
By the end of the meal, no one could even think of
dessert. It wasn't until an hour later that Teresa carried a tray of coffee and the cherry pie into the great room to be shared.
keen eyes immediately noticed the slightly damaged pie, but said nothing
as he watched Teresa cut it into generous slices. Murdoch, Scott,
and Teresa did full justice to their dessert, but Johnny didn't even take
a taste. "Not hungry, Brother? I can take that off your hands
if you like?" Scott suggested.
passed over the slice without a comment.
sorry about your chocolate cake, Johnny. I'll make you one tomorrow."
don't worry about it, Teresa. It's Thanksgiving. I guess it's
time I learn to be thankful for what I do have."
right about that, Son, Lancer had another prosperous year and we're all
together so there is a great deal to be thankful for."
I would be thankful for some help with the dishes. There are still
quite a few left to wash and dry," remarked Teresa.
and I will do them for you, Teresa. You go take it easy."
thank you, Scott, I'll just take you up on that offer. Do a good
job on those dishes!"
worry, we will. Come on, Johnny. You wash, I'll dry."
you say something, Brother?" inquired the blond with a wry smile.
wondered why I had to wash. I don't want Penelope to see me with
red, rough hands on Saturday night."
right, Johnny, I'll wash, but before you start drying, why don't you rub
that cherry pie blob off your cheek first?" The blond took
up the sponge and started to work.