What About the Lions?
Sequel to What Happened to Johnny
Scott was emotionally drained and stayed on his horse, his hands now resting palms down, on the spot Johnny had vacated. He watched as Murdoch swept his barely conscious brother son up in his arms , then turned and carried him into the house.
Miguel, who had been watching the arrival from the barn, approached him.
“Senor? What has happened to Juanito?” There was no answer, Scott was still sitting quietly, looking down now, at his hands.
Miguel knew Scott needed help, but was uncertain as to how he should go about it. Softly, he spoke.
“Senor, por flavor, I will take your horse for you, go, see to your family.”
Finally , Scott acknowledged him and nodded. He slid off the side of his mount, gathered the reins up and wearily handed them to Miguel.
Miguel didn‘t want to ask, but he had to know just how bad this was going to be. “Barranca? He will return also, no?”
Scott turned back, seeing the worry and concern for his brother so evident on Miguels face, “Yes, Raul should be bringing him along. He’s alright Miguel. Will you take care of him, for Johnny?” Miguel was honoured to be given the privilege. He gave Scotts horse a pat, then turned and headed for the barn.
Scott took off his hat, gloves and gun belt, and laid them on the hall table. He had one foot resting on the bottom stair and his hand on the railing, wondering just how he was going to haul himself up to the second floor. When Teresa entered the hall from the kitchen. Seeing his dishevelled state and obvious exhaustion she asked with concern. “Scott? Are you alright?” She took a step closer to him. “Scott? What’s wrong?” He pulled his hand away from the railing, turned and gave her a confused look. “You, haven’t seen him?” He pointed up the stairs, but before he finished the sentence, “He got hurt…” Teresa tore up the staircase. Scott followed, more slowly.
Scott stood in the doorway to his brothers room, his hands on the framework. Murdoch had placed Johnny in the middle of his bed, and was putting some pillows under his now swollen leg and ankle. Teresa brushed past him, to get some help and gather the needed medical supplies.
Johnny was doing the same thing he had been doing for several hours now. He’d make soft noises, like he was trying to say something. His shoulder was curling up off the bed and there were small movements of this arms and the uninjured leg.
Murdoch bit his lower lip, watching his son with great concern, he placed his hand on Johnnys chest, and leaning down spoke quietly to him. “Johnny, you’re home, every things going to be ok. You just relax, we’re taking care of things. You’re safe, hear me? You’re safe at home son.” Scott watched with amazement as his brother seemed to go still, the tension left his body and he drifted away into a silent still sleep.
Scott stepped inside the room and leaned his back against the wall, he slid to the floor as Maria, Rosa and Teresa came in to minister to his brother. Sam appeared next, striding into the room he took inventory and then issued his orders. “Maria, Rosa stay here with me please, Teresa help Murdoch with Scott.” He immediately held his hand up for silence. “I don’t care what any of you have to say right now!” He looked pointedly at the three of them. “Murdoch, look after Scott, he looks almost as bad as Johnny for Gods sake! Teresa, go, help those two out! I’ll talk to you all as soon as I see what’s what here! Now out, we have work to do!” With that said, he dismissed them all and turned back to his patient.
Sam entered the great room, he was cleaning his glasses on his untucked shirttail. Aware they were all there, watching him. He stood behind a chair resting his arms on its padded high-back. ‘How do I explain this,’ he thought, ‘and not frighten them all half to death?’
Coming to was bad. This had to be the worst headache he’d ever, ever had. Oh, God his head hurt! He just couldn’t get his eyes to open up. His eyelids were unbelievably heavy.
His eyes kept opening to just a slit then closing again. He was making very low soft unintelligible sounds. They could tell he wanted to say something, but just couldn’t seem to make the words come out. It was almost two in the morning, twelve hours since the accident. Murdoch didn’t think he could stand this much longer. He had to admit to himself he was really frightened this time. Johnny had been hurt before, the bullet in his back from the battle with the High-Riders had been bad. Somehow this seemed worse to him. Was it because he knew him better now? Gotten attached to him? Was this love or overwhelming fear? If it wasn’t love, why would he be so frightened? His voice, when he turned to speak to Sam, came out much louder and harsher than he expected.
“Sam! Can’t you do something for him? He’s distressed, even I can see that! There must be something we can do. Help him go to sleep, get some rest! He keeps struggling so…Sam?”
Johnny gave a small but noticeable jump at the sound of his fathers booming voice. ‘Oh, no, not those lions again. Hey, don’t you people know you have to get these lions out of the house? Christ, if Murdoch comes home, he’s going to think I let them in. I get in enough trouble around here. My head hurts so bad, I feel sick. I can’t wake up, don’t know why, I just can’t. Please get them out of here, Scott, can you? Somebody, please help me out ok?’
Sam stood, admonishing Murdoch with a sharp “Shush!” but saw it was too late. Johnny was agitated again. He kept his temper in check, the man was close to panic over this. Yes, he had admitted it was bad. Sam was not sure Johnny hadn’t fractured his skull. Just how bad, only time would tell. He couldn’t give him anything, no drugs. Not with a possible brain injury. Damn it, he’d explained that already.
He looked sympathetically at his old friend. “Talk to him, quietly. He’s upset too Murdoch. He can’t get a hold on his world. Can’t figure out what’s happened. He’s confused, hurting. Say whatever it takes to settle him down!”
Murdoch slumped back into the chair beside his sons bed. Closing his eyes for a moment, he searched for strength. He leaned forward, placing one hand on his sons arm and the other lightly on his forehead, he began to speak softly to him. Sam eased out of the room, to give them some private time. His other motive being to check on Scott and Teresa.
He found them in the kitchen. Scott glanced up briefly from his coffee, seeing it was Sam, he dropped his head. “Sam.”
Doc nodded, sat down and excepted the coffee from Teresa. “Shouldn’t you be getting some sleep? Seems to me that’s what I asked you to do hours ago.”
“I know, I just feel better down here. Not really very inclined to sleeping just now. How’s he doing?”
Doc worried his hands around his hot cup of coffee. The heat felt good. When had he gotten so cold? “Like I said earlier, it’s going to depend on how serious the injury to his head is. It could be anything from a minor concussion to a very sever fracture. I’m sorry, there just is no way to tell.”
“If it’s a sever fracture,” Scott paused, uncertain, yet knowing he had to have an answer. “Will he die?”
“I’m not going to answer that, because I just haven’t got one for you.”
The three sat in silence each with their own thoughts, waiting for the long night to end.
His eyes fluttered, then opened. ‘Whose that? Murdoch? Why was his father sitting there?’ He shifted, then gasped as a sharp pain ran up his leg. His father startled awake. The two of them stared at each other.
Murdoch jumped from the chair, “Sam! Sam! Get up here!”
‘What is Sam here for?’ He wondered.
Johnny sat in the big overstuffed armchair, his injured ankle nestled on a pillow, resting up on the hassock. Teresa was making up his bed, and Scott stood by the window.
Scott sighed, “Johnny, tendons just take longer to mend than bones do. If you start trying to use that leg too soon, you’re just going to make it worse. Now I’ve got errands in town. I’m sorry, but I have to go.” Johnny wouldn’t look at him. He just kept looking out the window at nothing.
Scott stifled a laugh, Johnny was pouting, he decided not to point this out to him right now.
Teresa came over and knelt down next to Johnnys chair. “Hey Johnny, I’ll stay with you. We could play cards, or checkers, I know,” she said just a little too brightly, “chess, I’m not very good yet, but I’m getting better at it!
Do you want me to go get the board?”
Johnny let out a long breath, “Sure, let’s play. I’ll just wait here.” He yelled at her disappearing back.
Scott headed for the door, “Little brother, I shall see you later. And don’t beat the girl, well, too badly anyway.”
Exasperated, Scott turned back. “I have to go.”
His brother looked up at him, he was biting his bottom lip. Scott shook his head. “What?”
“Well, I just…have a question.”
“And it iiiissss?”
“About the lions.”
Scott was perplexed. He looked slowly around the room, then pointedly back at his brother. “Lions? I, I don’t think I quite understand.” He could tell quite clearly, by Johnnys expression, that his brother was not kidding. He cleared his throat. “You do mean lions, as in large, dangerous cats?”
“Yes. The ones that got in the house.” he lowered his voice. “Did Murdoch find out?”
Scott was completely lost. He couldn’t fathom what Johnny could possibly be talking about. Johnny was staring up at him, obviously waiting for an answer.
He knew his brother had suffered a lapse in memory. He’d had his accident several hours after the noon break, his last memory was of an incident that happened prior to that. He never remembered changing horses. This business with the lions though, that was new. Scott searched his mind. ’Lions, what could he have confused with lions? Why was he so certain lions had been in the house. And why lions?”
Johnny hesitated. “You didn’t see any lions?”
“No, I didn’t.”
Johnny seemingly began to study something hugely interesting out his window.
Scott settled on the bed. “You alright? I think you just got confused Johnny. You were quite a mess, it would be easy to think something was happening, well that wasn’t.” Johnny did not respond. “Look, I wouldn’t worry about this. I’m not going to mention it to anyone either, ok?”
Johnny nodded his ok. Scott rose and reluctantly left the room. He walked slowly down the hallway thinking about his brothers lions. ‘Lions, now that’s funny, Murdoch could roar,’ Scott mused, ‘But lion?’ He turned, walking backward down the hall, looking back at his brothers door. No, it couldn’t be, could it?
Johnny watched as his brother rode out. ‘You might not have seen them, but they were here. I heard them, well one anyway. Probably scared away by the ole’ man.’ He would not bring the subject up again. Neither would Scott.