(Please take the customary disclaimers regarding the characters depicted here, as read.)
As Scott Lancer trod wearily into the big white hacienda he now reckoned to call home, he heard the sound of raised, angry voices and sighed. He had had a long hard day out in the heat of the sun and was over warm and cross, dirty and exhausted-and had been looking forward to maybe a nice hot tub and maybe a hot meal too. He was not in the mood, he realised, to be dealing, instead, with hot tempers.
Just what it was that they kept finding to bawl and bellow about at each other was baffling enough. It always began in the same way--Murdoch would say something--usually something fairly innocuous. Johnny would take it the wrong way--and away they went-making enough noise to raise the dead and upsetting the entire household until Johnny slammed his way out of the house and the rancher crashed off to some fastnest of his own within.
Scott removed his gunbelt and spurs on the porch and opened the door cautiously. The volume of the the loud voices increased.
------aint some silly kid-so stop treatin' me like one,' he heard Johnny bellow--and then the ranchers even louder response
'Stop behaving like one then'.
It was a well-worn theme and one that would probably only be resolved once Johnny had reached fifty years of age or so.
Hanging up the gun-belt he noticed that Johnny's was not dangling in its proper place. Scott hoped that the altercation didn't escalate to the point where his hot-headed younger brother felt that he had to use it, if he was still wearing it. Scott wondered, wryly whether he was perhaps supposed to fling himself heroically between father and son, if the shooting started--then realised that he was too damned tired for any heroics. Let them blow each other to pieces if it meant some peace for the rest of 'em, he thought angrily.
Theresa met him in the big room that took up most of the ground level floor at the ranchhouse and cast him an anguished pleading glance.
'They been at it for ages--Johnny got back in early and--well-you know how it is' she sighed exasperatedly.
'Yeah' Scott nodded grimly 'I know how it is'
'Can you stop them' the girl asked 'they're getting really mad at each other Scott--I'm scared. Johnnyís got his gun in thereóthatís what started it--he forgot to take it off and------------'
'Don't you worry about that' Scott found a smile 'Johnny won't shoot Murdoch-no matter HOW mad he gets'
'Maybe not' the girls lips twitched responsively 'but do you think that Murdoch might get mad enough to shoot HIM'.
Scott poured himself a generous slug of the good Scotch. The loud rich voices of the protaganists seemed to be getting louder-and the language--in both English and Spanish was certainly getting 'richer'. Scott didn't understand ALL the expletives--but they sounded --well-interesting.
'Reckon I got time to have a hot tub first?' he enquired.
'I'd like to throw a COLD tub over the pair of 'em' Theresa said crossly 'supper will be about an hour' she added rather sourly 'thats if theres any place left to eat it' as there came the unmistakeable crash of breaking furniture from the far side of the door that led into the room Murdoch called his study.
'God Almighty' Scott had something of a temper of his own, but whether by training or by temperament, he certainly had much more control over it than either his father or his brother--but he could feel it now, beginning to bubble. If that fiesty pair in there wanted to throw things around why the hell couldn't they do it outside. There were some valuable objects in Murdochs study--and apart from anything else--this was HIS house too--and he didn't want it all smashed up.
'I'll break what I damn well LIKE' he heard Johnny roar.
'Fine-I'll stop it out of your pay' Murdoch bellowed, entering finely into the spirit of this.
'PAY' Johnny snorted 'you call your lousy dollar a day PAY???'
'I've had a belly-ful of this' Scott growled. He spent half his life trying to keep the peace between these two hot-heads and sometimes he wondered why he bothered. It seemed, sometimes, as if they ENJOYED these earth-shattering rows.
Well--HE didn't. He let his temper rise within him. Why was it always HIM that had to keep the lid on things. He felt much inclined to go in there with a shotgun and pepper the pair of them. Another crash from the 'study' made him feel madder than ever and for once he let it ride.
Why'n't you pair just SHUT-UP' he had a fair old bellow of his own and he let it rip as he bounded into the 'study' without so much as a 'by your leave'--- 'they can hear you in Spanish Wells damn you and I've had enough of it' he swept an infuriated glance around the study and was aware of his father and brother gawping at him in astonishment. (Johnny had half-drawn his big gun-but let it drop back, instantly, into the holster as, even in temper, he recognised the intruder.) Even in his rage Scott noted and acknowledged the younger mans reaction. Odd that Johnny had, at one and the same time, so much and yet so little control over his actions. There was a chair-or the remains of one anyway, in a crumpled heap by one wall and it looked as if someone had cleared the top of the desk with a single sweep of an angry arm. A mess of papers and pens, three heavy ledgers, two inkwells-one on its side with ink dribbling onto the rug-and several other items-some broken, lay on the floor. Murdochs big chair teetered on two legs against the mantel and if it had been thrust there in a hurry and there was a battered looking bronze statue of a horse and rider lying on the hearth beneath. Scotts eyes sparked with fury at the sight. 'clear up this damn mess---' he went on 'and as for you-' he swung round onto Johnny who was staring at him with his jaw all but on the floor 'take off that damned GUNBELT in the house' .
'Uh--' Murdoch began--only to be glared into silence by Scotts scorching glare whilst Johnnys fingers fell to the buckle of his weapon almost of their own volition. Scott held out an imperious hand and Johnny meekly handed the gunbelt into it. Murdochs eyes nearly fell out of his head.
'Thank you' Scott said in icy tones 'now shake hands like adults' oh the scorn he managed to put into that one word 'and apologise' and he stormed away not waiting to see if his orders would be obeyed.
He didn't exactly SLAM the door (Harlan Garrett's well -raised grandson didn't slam doors)-but he felt quite satisfied with the good solid 'thud' that it made behind him--and even MORE satisfied with the stunned and prolonged silence that followed it. He whistled a little tune, softly, to himself as he swung across the room to hang Johnnys gunbelt on the hall stand.