Who The Hell!
(Death fic—with a twist to the tale)
It had been a lovely funeral. A double funeral in fact. Half the San Joaquin Valley had turned out to pay their final respects to Murdoch and John Lancer and to offer their very sincere condolences to the grieving survivor of the family. It had all been very moving—to the point where, sometimes, the tears in his eyes had been quite genuine.
The tall blond man that everyone believed to be Scott Lancer now stood alone, on the side of the hill where the two new graves had just been filled. All the other mourners had gradually trailed away until there was only himself and Theresa O’Brien left at the gravesides and then she too had left him with his ‘family’ to mourn in private.
She was sitting in the buggy now, her face still streaked with tears, waiting patiently for him.
He wasn’t quite sure what to DO about Theresa O’Brien. She certainly had no suspicions of him and she wasn’t a bad little house keeper. No doubt the good people of the Valley would expect him to marry her—but that had never been a part of the plan and he saw no reason to go along with ‘public opinion’. It wasn’t a major problem. He didn’t think that it would ever occur to her that he was not the ‘Scott Lancer’ she (and everyone else) had always wanted him to be.
It had all worked out rather well really.
It had given him a bit of a ‘start’ when that grubby cowhand on the stage had popped into the plot and turned into his half-brother—and he had been even more alarmed to discover that his ‘half-brother’ was in fact quite a notorious and dangerous gunfighter.
But there was no need to worry after all. Johnny Madrid had been as much a trusting fool as had been Murdoch Lancer. In fact they had all fallen OVER themselves to make his plan work for him. It was a trifle ironic really that it had been Madrid that they had all been so suspicious off, what with his surly pretensions and his pretending to have gone over to the ‘enemy’. Quite how he had managed to earn and retain such a reputation as he had was a bit of a mystery really. There had been several opportunities to kill him off—but the man had intrigued him and as long as he had not been suspicious---------------.
Johnny had oblingly taken out the only two members of Day Pardee’s gang who were in on the plan and HE himself had managed to take out Pardee without arousing the least of suspicions. Poor old Day! He had thought he was so clever and so tough. Really these western ‘hard-cases’ were the simplest of men. No brains at all.
Even Murdoch Lancer himself (who surely cannot have been such a fool) had played his part quite nicely, offering him that ‘partnership’ with no prompting at all.
He had been a little worried about the ranching side—but it seemed that the real Scott Lancer (another trusting fool--trailing across the continent with his entire life and a usefully large sum of money in his luggage) had not been familiar with any of it either and anyway—it wasn’t really all that difficult and he had managed to avoid the real ‘rough and tumble’ of it all, leaving that to the ever eager Johnny.
And then the final ‘show-down’. Right until the very end both Murdoch Lancer and Johnny Madrid had believed him to be ‘Scott Lancer’.
‘Nice bluff.’ Johnny had congratulated him enthusiastically, when Peters and Lennon had threatened to shoot them if he ‘Scott’ had not opened the safe for them and he had said his piece.
What had it been now?
‘Go right ahead and kill them. They mean nothing to me’ and then he had kicked Johnny’s fallen gun towards him, knowing that his arrogant ‘brother’ would think he could out-shoot the two men.
Actually—to do him justice—he HAD out shot them. Both of them. But of course he had NOT been expecting that his ‘brother’ was going to snatch up Lennon’s fallen gun and then shoot HIM with it. And when Murdoch Lancer had finally realised HIS danger, it had been too late and he had been dead even as the word ‘Scott!’ had burst from his lips.
And he—‘Scott Lancer’—hadn’t even gotten off a shot. His gun still lay where he had dropped it, on the rug.
Ah—here they were—back at the ranch. He had been thinking so hard he had scarcely noticed the journey.
HIS ranch. Mechanically he handed down the girl from the wagon then followed her inside the house.
The mess left by the shootings had all been cleared away. Even if someone had been suspicious there was not a shred of evidence left. He crossed over to the big desk where Murdoch Lancer had reigned supreme and settled himself comfortably into the big chair.
There was just one more small detail to deal with—one more person to get rid off—and then HE was going to be the richest and most powerful man in two states. Not bad for a two-bit gambler who knew how to do his ‘homework’. The Pinkerton Agency had helped too of course. They really were very, very good at what they did.
He pulled a sheet of writing paper from a drawer and selected a pen.
Dipping the nib into the ink he began to write.
The paragraph about needing his support in his grief and of course his advice on business matters should smoke the man out of his Boston stronghold alright—and who knows what might happen to an elderly city gent on the long, dangerous journey to California.