Never Let Them See You Cry

By Snicklefritz 

DISCLAIMER:  Although I’ve held these characters in my mind and heart for over 30 years, they are not legally mine.  They belong to the copyright holders of the television western series Lancer.  My story was written purely for entertainment purposes; no monetary payment is intended or received. 


Based on the TV Western Series – LANCER



Johnny was preparing to mount his horse, Barranca, when his father, Murdoch Lancer, came out the kitchen door and called to him. 

“I’m glad I caught you.  When you finish checking that section of fence, ride over to where Scott’s crew will be working and give them a hand,” Murdoch told Johnny.  “That way they can get paid and go into town a little earlier this evening.  You and Scott can go, too, if you like.” 

“Sure,” Johnny responded.  “Anything else?”  He stood relaxed, with Barranca’s reins held loosely in one hand.   

“It’s early.  Did you have your breakfast?”  Murdoch asked, concerned.  He knew Maria watched over them all to make certain they ate well to start out the day.  She was especially fond of Johnny.  Still, it seemed awfully early for Johnny to be leaving already. 

“Yeah,” Johnny replied softly.  “You know Maria.”   

“She is rather fond of you,” Murdoch replied, smiling. 

Johnny smiled back.  “Well, long as I don’t try to steal a biscuit or something.”  Murdoch laughed at that, picturing Maria chastising Johnny on more than one occasion as he tried to grab something from the stove.  “Anything else?”  Johnny asked.  Murdoch shook his head.  “Okay.  See ya.”  Johnny mounted.   

Just then, there was a commotion in the yard from chickens that had escaped the pen when one of the young children had gone in to feed them.  One of the ranch’s feral cats had given chase and the yard was a whirlwind of cat and chickens, feathers and dust flying.  One of the chickens decided to take refuge atop Barranca’s flank, and the stallion took exception, kicking up his back heels and twisting away.  The chicken went flying, squawking loudly, but Barranca continued to twist and kick until he was sure he was free of the pest before finally responding to Johnny’s efforts to bring him under control.  

Murdoch was about to congratulate Johnny on his fine riding when he noticed Johnny was pale.  Without a sound, Johnny fell to the side, landing in a heap at the feet of his astonished father.  

“Scott!” Murdoch shouted, kneeling beside his unconscious son.   

“What happened?” Scott cried, coming at Murdoch’s shout and seeing him kneeling beside an unconscious Johnny.   

“I’m not sure.  The chickens caused Barranca to buck, but Johnny got him under control.  Then, he went pale and fell,” Murdoch related.  “Help me get him inside.  Pedro,” he said to one of the hands who had come at a run.  “Go for the doctor.  Frank, take care of Barranca.  The rest of you, see to your work.  Juan, take charge of Scott’s crew.” Murdoch quickly and efficiently got the men moving, then turned to help Scott with Johnny, who remained motionless.    

Murdoch and Scott got Johnny back to his room and laid him gently on the bed.  He had moaned as though in pain, but had not awakened yet.  They removed his boots and gunbelt and loosened his clothing before covering him with a quilt.  There was no bleeding and he didn’t seem to have a fever.  “He may have a concussion from the fall.  I don’t want to move him too much until Sam gets here,” Murdoch said.  Teresa, Murdoch’s ward, and his housekeeper, Maria, had followed he and Scott into the room.  “I’ve sent for Sam,” Murdoch told them.  “Maria, did he complain about anything this morning at breakfast?”   

“No, senor.  But, he eats little and was quiet,” Maria reported, the worry plain in her voice.   

 “Gracias, Maria.  There’s not much we can do until Sam arrives,” Murdoch said, referring to Dr. Sam Jenkins.  “One of us should sit with him until then.  I don’t want him moving until Sam checks him out.”  Murdoch turned to Scott.  “Scott, I want to finish getting the payroll together for the men.  Why don’t you stay with him now.  Let us know if there’s any change.  We’ll be downstairs,” Murdoch said, ushering Maria and Teresa from the room.  He took one more look at his youngest, then resolutely turned and followed the women from the room.  

A short time later, Johnny began to return to consciousness.  He lay without moving, his eyes closed, trying to determine the extent of his injuries.  His left shoulder and neck hurt, and he had a tremendous headache.  Other than that, he seemed to be okay.  He opened his eyes and found himself staring at the blurred image of his brother.  “Hey,” he said softly.  

“Hey, yourself,” Scott replied.   

“What happened?” Johnny asked, getting ready to sit up.   

Scott’s hand on Johnny’s left shoulder made Johnny forget all ideas of sitting up.  He barely managed to keep from crying out at the pain.  “I hear tell you fell off your horse,” Scott informed him, noting Johnny’s features were still pale and that perspiration had broken out on his forehead.   

Johnny took a deep breath to steady his voice.  “I didn’t fall.  I…..”  His voice trailed off.   

“Yes?” Scott prompted.   

“I didn’t fall,” Johnny repeated, adamantly.   

“Well, you’ve come up with a new way to dismount, then.  But, I don’t recommend you keep using it,” Scott joked.  “Where does it hurt?”   

“My head hurts some,” Johnny admitted, averting his eyes to look past Scott.   

“That’s not surprising, considering how you landed.  You probably have a concussion, to say the least.  No doubt Sam will want you to spend the rest of the day in bed,” Scott answered.  “What else hurts?”  Scott persisted.  

“Nothin’.  I’m fine,” Johnny responded, still without meeting Scott’s eyes.   

“I worry the most when you say you’re fine, especially when you won’t look me in the eye when you say it,” Scott said.  “Sam will be here any minute, so you may as well tell me.”  But Scott didn’t get to find out if Johnny would have told him anything, as Sam chose that moment to enter the room. 

“Well, son, what did you get yourself into this time?” Sam asked, coming over to the bed and taking Johnny’s wrist to check his pulse.  He indicated with his eyes that Scott should leave the two of them alone.  

About ten minutes went by, then Sam called and asked that Jelly be sent to Johnny’s room.  It was another half hour before Sam came down to see the family.  “He’ll be fine.  He’s resting comfortably now,” he reported.  “Johnny’s left shoulder was dislocated.  From the looks of it, I’d say it was a couple of days old.  He had already slipped it back into place, but jarred it getting Barranca under control and the pain caused him to pass out.  The fall caused another dislocation.  I’ve set and wrapped it.  He’ll need some bed rest for a day or two, then nothing strenuous until that shoulder has a chance to properly heal.  I”ve told him he’ll need to keep it wrapped for a couple of weeks so as not to use it.  He also has a concussion from the fall.  Let him rest, but wake him every couple of hours or so—you know what to do.”   

“Can we see him?” Scott asked.   

Sam saw the look on Scott’s face.  “Yes, but not to yell at, Scott.  He’s had a lot of pain and is feeling a little out of sorts right now.  That goes for you, too, Murdoch.  All of you.  I can see you’re all upset, but whatever the problem is, it will have to wait until he’s able to handle it.  Right now, Jelly is with him, and Maria just took up some broth.  I want him to rest after he’s had a chance to finish it.  Any recriminations can wait until tomorrow when he’ll be better able to face you all, all right?”   

Murdoch, Scott, and Teresa all looked at each other.  “All right, Sam,” Murdoch conceded for them.  Murdoch turned to Scott.  “Son, I want you to go ride that section of fence that Johnny was going to finish this morning.”  He saw the protest rising.  “Scott, Sam wants Johnny to rest.  I think it’s best if you and I wait to see him until he’s had a chance to do so.  That will be easier to do if we’re busy.  Teresa and Maria can spell Jelly today.”  

Scott looked rebellious for a second, then acquiesced.  “Very well, sir.  I’ll see you at dinner.”  He got his things from the rack in the foyer and left, closing the heavy front door none-too-gently. 

“There goes one angry young man.  I hope he cools off some before he sees Johnny,” Sam observed. 

“Yes, me, too,” Murdoch answered.  “Sam, did Johnny say what had happened?”   

“No.  I commented on the bruising and he confirmed he’d hurt it a day or so ago.  He sounded as though it was the most normal thing in the world to slip it in place and keep going.  The fact that he knew how to do that tells me it’s happened before,” Sam replied sadly, upset that someone so young should be so well acquainted with pain and taking care of himself.  Then, he smiled.  “At least we didn’t have our usual argument about medication.  With the head injury, I didn’t want to give him anything.”   

Sam got ready to leave.  “You’ll stay for the noon meal, won’t you?” Murdoch offered.   

“I can’t, Murdoch.  The Russell baby is due any day now.  I was on my way to see Sarah when your man caught up with me.  I want to check on her and make sure she’s taking it easy, though I doubt it.  It’s almost as hard to get her to rest as it is Johnny.”  He picked up his bag.  “Make sure Johnny stays in bed today and tomorrow, too, if possible, Murdoch, and gets lots of rest.  He could get dizzy, fall, and reinjure that shoulder.  Threaten him with surgery if you have to.”   

“I will, Sam,” Murdoch promised.  

“Good.  I’ll be out sometime tomorrow on my rounds to check on him.  Don’t let him do too much in the meantime.”  Sam said his goodbyes and left.  Murdoch stood watching his buggy out of the courtyard and under the Lancer arch, then went inside.  He walked over to the staircase and looked up longingly, wanting to go to his son.  He  was feeling torn between wanting to comfort him and wanting to confront him about the injury.  Murdoch closed his eyes for a moment, then sought solace in the ranch ledgers.            

Scott arose from the chair where he’d spent the night watching over his young brother, stretching as he stood looking down at Johnny.  Not for the first time, Scott was in wonder of just how young Johnny could look when he was relaxed in sleep, or unconscious with an injury—the vulnerable child peeking through the façade of the young man.  Scott looked away.  He didn’t want to let any feelings of sympathy for the vulnerable child influence him.  The young man lying there had hidden a serious injury from his family.  Scott wanted answers.  Why had Johnny hidden the injury?  How many other injuries had he hidden in the last few months?  Scott knew if one of the men had suffered such an injury Johnny would have insisted the man take time to heal and would have worked double duty to make up the hand’s work.  Why was he so considerate of others and so careless with his own life?       

“Too early to be working so hard at thinking, Boston.”  The soft drawl of his brother’s voice broke Scott’s reverie and he turned to find the sapphire eyes alert and amused, too. 

“Well, one of us has to do some work around here,” Scott replied evenly.   

Johnny’s eyes lost their playfulness.  “Lo siento.  I’ll make it up,” Johnny said.  His voice was low and he turned his head away from Scott.   

“There’s nothing to be sorry for, Johnny.  You’re hurt,” Scott replied, sitting down again.   

“Must be something.  You’re upset,” Johnny said with certainty, refusing to look at Scott. 

Scott was astounded.  “I wish you would quit doing that!” he said in exasperation.   

Johnny turned and looked at him in bewilderment.  “What?” he asked. 

The one word seemed to ignite the fuel of Scott’s anger.  “I wish you’d quit putting everyone else’s feelings and needs ahead of your own.  You’re hurt and you should have said so.  You should have asked for our help.  Sam said the injury was a couple of days old.  We’re your family, for God’s sake!  Why can’t you trust us enough to let us know when you’re hurt and need help?”   

Johnny looked at Scott, stunned and hurt by the words.  He’d let Scott closer than anyone else in his life.  It hadn’t been easy.  Johnny had learned early in life not to trust anyone too far.  So, ‘trust’ was not a word in his vocabulary—until he’d met Scott.  Now, Johnny realized Scott had never understood just how much he had come to trust him.  Johnny felt drained.  Scott saw it and said, “Maybe now is not the time to discuss this.  I’ll let Maria know you’re awake.  She’ll bring you something.”  Johnny wasn’t even aware when Scott left the room.  

Scott shoved his breakfast away from him, picking up the coffee cup and taking a sip.  “I feel like I kicked a puppy or something,” he said to Murdoch.  “He apologized for being hurt!  Why would he feel the need to do that?” 

“I don’t know, son.  I think it’s time we had a talk with Johnny to find out what’s going on.”  Murdoch arose and left the table to head upstairs to Johnny’s room, with Scott following.  

Maria was just closing the door on her way out.  “He eats nothing.”  Her gaze lingered on Scott in silent accusation.   

“I’m sorry, Maria.  It’s my fault he’s upset,” Scott admitted.   

“Si.  You have great power to hurt because he loves and trusts you,” Maria responded.   

“I only wish he did,” Scott replied.   

“He does,” Maria assured him.  “He has been hurt much in life.  It is hard for him.  But, you are his familia.”  Maria’s look now included Murdoch, too.  “For you he tries.  You go to him now.”  Maria re-opened the door to Johnny’s room, shooing them in.   

Teresa was there, trying to get Johnny to drink some water.  “It’s good for you.  Even lying in bed you can become dehydrated.”  Johnny just shook his head.  “All right.  If you won’t drink it, I’ll have to conclude you’re more ill than you’ve told us and be forced to fix you nothing but broth for lunch and dinner.  And, I’ll make it extra salty.  Then you’ll want the water,” she said with certainty.  Johnny just glared at her, then held his hand out for the glass.  Teresa watched in satisfaction as he drank all the water.  “Now, don’t you feel better?”   

“I’ll feel better when I see something besides broth for lunch,” Johnny replied sulkily.   

“My aren’t we grumpy today!  Maybe it’s because you’re hungry.  You really should have tried to eat your breakfast rather than feeling sorry for yourself.  Or, maybe it’s because you’re hurting.  Sam left some laudnaum, if you want it.  He said you could have some today, if your concussion was better,” Teresa offered.   

“Yes, my concussion is better—or it was.  Now, you’re giving me a headache again.  And, no, I don’t want no laudnaum.  You know that.  And, I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, either,” Johnny replied.  “Don’t you have something else to do besides try to drown me?”  Johnny tried to glare at her, but the playfulness in his eyes betrayed him. 

“No.  Since you came home, all my time is spent taking care of you,” Teresa replied brightly, smiling at Johnny.   

Johnny gave her a crooked smile.  “Go on.  Get out of here.  ‘Sides, Scott and Murdoch are here to yell at me.  Best you didn’t hear it.  Don’t want you feeling sorry for me on top of everything else.  I’d never get you out of here.”  

“Would you like me to bring you a couple of biscuits a little later, with some butter and jam?” Teresa asked.   

“Probably won’t be feeling like it, but thanks for asking,” Johnny replied.  He watched as Teresa left the room, giving her a last smile before she closed the door.  Johnny lay quietly as Scott and Murdoch moved over to his bed, one sitting on his left and one on his right, positioning themselves at the foot of his bed, knowing Johnny wouldn’t want to feel hemmed in.  Even so, Johnny did feel hemmed in, as though they’d sat on either side of him to keep him from going anywhere, and he felt a momentary panic.  He fought his panic with the knowledge that this was his family and they cared about him.  After a few seconds, Johnny said, with resignation, “Well, go ahead.  Get it over with.”   

“Get what over with, Johnny?” Murdoch asked.   

“Aw, come on, Murdoch.  You know what I mean.  You’re here to yell at me—both of you.  What are you going to do?  Make me beg for the rope you’re gonna use to hang me?” Johnny answered. 

“No, Johnny.  We’re not here to yell.  We want to understand,” Murdoch replied.   

“Understand what?  Scott, here, he accuses me of not trusting none of you because I didn’t tell you I was hurt.  But that ain’t it.  It was just a dislocation.  You think this hasn’t happened before?  It has, and I didn’t need no help then and I don’t need none now.  I just don’t see why you think I should have to tell everybody here when I hurt something,” Johnny said.  

“Neither do I, if it’s just a bruise.  But a dislocated shoulder is a severe injury.  So, let’s talk about your responsibility when you have a severe injury like that.  Do you think it was responsible of you to try to keep working with a dislocated shoulder?  When I assign work to you, I have a right to expect you’re capable of doing it.  I trust you to let me know if that’s not the case.  You didn’t do that, did you?”  Murdoch was deliberately being tough on his son, even as his heart wanted to comfort him.   

“No,” Johnny admitted in a small voice.  “But I’ve done my work—all of it,” he added with more confidence.   

“The work is not the point, Johnny.  Have I ever given you reason to believe I’d be upset with you if you’re injured and can’t work?”  Murdoch let his hurt that Johnny might think such a thing of him come through in his tone of voice.  Johnny shook his head, looking away.  “Or, what would you have done if I’d needed you to break horses the next couple of days?”  He let his words sink in, then said, “How do you think I would have felt if you’d reinjured that shoulder because of something I asked you to do?  Or, would you have told me?”  Johnny lowered his head without answering.  “Why do you feel you have to go it alone?  Why can’t you trust us to help you?  Have we ever given you any reason not to?”  Johnny shook his head without lifting it. 

“We’re your family, Johnny.  We only want to help, brother,” Scott added.   

Johnny sighed.  Why couldn’t they leave it alone?  How could he make them understand it went against every instinct he had for survival to ever let anyone know when he was hurt?  It was a hard lesson and one he had learned early—never let them see you cry.  His  mother had never been moved by his tears of pain.  She had told him pain was a part of life and to learn to deal with it.  And, so he had—alone.  Later, as Johnny Madrid, he had learned the hard way that you never let an enemy know when you’re hurting—and, everyone was a potential enemy.  You had no friends when you were a gunfighter.  Asking for help meant trusting the one you were asking, and Johnny had never trusted anyone.  With Scott’s patience and encouragement, Johnny was just now learning to trust his family.  He wasn’t there yet, though, and he knew they’d be hurt to know that.  He didn’t know what to say.     

Scott and Murdoch had waited patiently for Johnny’s response, but now Scott prompted him.  “Well, brother, are you going to trust us or not?”   

Johnny sighed again, then looked up and said, “Like I said, I ain’t never had no reason to let anybody else know when I got hurt.  Ain’t nothin’ ‘gainst any of you.  It’s just there ain’t a lot of doctors around the border towns, so I learned to take care of myself.  But, if I can’t do my job, I’ll tell you, Murdoch.”    

Murdoch replied,  “Johnny, you’re my son.  I don’t ever want to see you hurt, but when you are, I want to know so you can get proper care.  I’d do as much for an injured ranch hand.  How can you think I’d do less for my own son?” 

Johnny ducked his head again, pleased at his father’s words, but not knowing how to respond to them.  Finally, he said, “It wasn’t that, Murdoch.  It’s just that I had already took care of it.  Before, when it’s happened, I wasn’t punching cows for a living.  Like other times, I fixed it up but didn’t stop and think I should tell you about it ‘cause of work and all.  Like I said, it won’t happen again,” Johnny replied quietly. 

“Johnny, a shoulder separation is a serious injury.  You should have had a doctor.  Sam said you’d had it a couple of days and had set it yourself.  He was surprised you knew how.  What if it had been broken instead?”  Murdoch said.   

“Yeah, well, like I said, I’ve been knocked around a few times and it’s gotten separated before.  I’ve set broken bones and took bullets out before, too, and done my own stitching a few times.  I’ve got a lotta doctorin’ experience.  Thought about opening my own office across from doc,” Johnny replied, looking up to give them a lop-sided smile.  He wanted this conversation over with.    

“What made you change your mind?” Scott smiled back. 

“He has neater stitches, and besides, the saloon’s over there. Figure that’s more important than another doctor in town,” Johnny answered.   

Murdoch and Scott both laughed, then Scott said, “So, why don’t you tell us what happened to your shoulder.”   

Johnny looked from one to the other, then looked down, his right hand tracing the pattern on his blanket as he tried to make up his mind whether to tell them.  He could sense Scott and Murdoch weren’t going to let it go, but he was hesitant.  It was really kind of embarrassing, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to tell it.   

            “I’d like to hear about it,” Murdoch also encouraged Johnny.   

Johnny looked up from one to the other, then looked back down.  “I don’t know.  It’s kind of….”  His voice trailed off.   

“What?” Scott exclaimed, getting exasperated with Johnny’s procrastination.  “It’s kind of what?”  

“Embarrassing, Scott!  That’s what it is, embarrassing!” Johnny replied, his eyes flashing.  “Are you happy now?”   

“No, not really,” Scott replied, smiling broadly.  “But I am intrigued, brother.”   

“Yeah, ain’t we all,” Johnny huffed.   

“Johnny, we’ll understand if you don’t want to tell us,” Murdoch spoke, patting Johnny’s leg sympathetically, even if it was a little heavy-handed.   

“Uh, Murdoch,” Johnny said.  “I wish you wouldn’t do that.  It’s kinda sore.”   

Murdoch immediately stopped, resting his hand in place.  “What?  Sam didn’t say anything about your leg being hurt.”   

“Well, he doesn’t know,” Johnny admitted.  Before Scott or Murdoch could say anything, he added, “It’s just bruised; nothing serious.  I promise.”   

“All right, Johnny, I think you better tell us about this accident—I’m assuming it was an accident—of yours and don’t leave anything out young man,” Murdoch commanded.   

“Yeah, I guess so,” Johnny reluctantly agreed.  He took a deep breath to compose himself.  “Well, ya know how I’m always saying cows are the dumbest critters on earth?”  Scott and Murdoch nodded, and privately agreed with Johnny’s assessment.  “Now, I’m not so sure.  I think maybe I am.  The other day I was riding back from the Talbot place.  I was running late, so I come cross country rather than by the road.  There’s that gully out that way—you know the one.”  Again, both of his listeners nodded.  “Well, on this side, there was a cow stuck in some brush.  Them longhorns are the dumbest of the cows.  They can find the damnedest places to stick them horns.  Anyway, she was good and stuck.  I was hoping that by the time I got around the gully and got to her she’d have made her own way out, but, she was still there.  The only way to get her out was on the gully side of the brush.  I didn’t like that idea, but it was plain she wasn’t going anywhere.  So, I decided I’d have to give her hand.”  

Murdoch asked, ‘Why didn’t you just use Barranca to rustle her out?”   

Johnny answered, “There wasn’t a whole lot of room between that bush and the gully and she was twisting around something awful.  I couldn’t let Barranca get too close ‘cause of them horns, and I couldn’t get a lasso on her to use to pull her out.  I didn’t want use Barranca’s weight to shove her, ‘cause it meant him getting too close and maybe getting cut to pieces on them horns of hers, or losin’ his footin’ and goin’ over the side.”  

Murdoch was astonished.  “You didn’t want to risk your horse, so you risked yourself instead?” he exclaimed in disbelief.  Johnny’s love of his horse was going too far now.   

“I happen to know the value of a good horse, ol’ man.  ‘sides, which, I was on top of him, remember?  If he goes down that gully, I go down with him.  You could have found us both by looking for the buzzards flying over us,” Johnny replied hotly, glaring at Murdoch.  

Murdock got ready to respond in kind when he recognized the validity of what Johnny had said.  “You’re right, son.  I’m sorry.  Go on with your story.” 

Johnny had a momentary look of surprise.  It wasn’t often he got the old man to admit he may have been wrong about something.  Then, he went on with his story.  “Well, way I figured it, there wasn’t any real risk to me, Murdoch—at least I didn’t think so then.  Figured I could side-step that cow easier than Barranca could,” Johnny explained.  “Only thing was, it was so close to the edge, ya see,” he said, his voice sounding chagrined.  Murdoch and Scott both thought they knew where the story was heading now.  “I thought about using my lariat to tie myself to Barranca, only I didn’t know what the cow would do once she was free.  If she spooked Barranca, I might be dragged.  Or, she could get tangled in the rope and we’d all end up at the bottom of that gully.”   

“So you just waded in, didn’t you brother?” Scott surmised.  Johnny nodded.  “What happened?”   

Johnny hung his head in embarrassment.  “Just as I had her free she crowded forward and twisted her head again.  I stepped back away from the horns, but her head caught me in the ribs.  I grabbed for the bush or her horns—anything—tryin’ to steady myself, but couldn’t reach nothing.  So, I lost my balance and went backwards down the side of the gully rolling all the way to the bottom.  There was nothing to grab hold of going down, but there were plenty of rocks on the way.  I must of hit ‘em all.  My shoulder struck a pretty good sized one.  Thought I’d broke it at first.  Otherwise, I got mostly scrapes and bruises.  Had a concussion, too.”  

Scott and Murdock both looked grim, realizing how close Johnny had come to even a more serious injury. Scott asked, “How’d you get out of the gully with your shoulder hurt?” 

Johnny gave Murdoch a sly look.  “Well, that horse that Murdoch thinks I’ve lost my mind over—he got me out.  I tried climbing out but it was too steep.   With my shoulder out and nothing to use to put it back, I couldn’t steady myself enough on the slope to climb out.  Almost fell again.  So, I whistled to Barranca and he worked his way down and held steady while I hauled myself into the saddle.”  

“Well, I can see where it’s amusing in places, but what’s so embarrassing about it?” Scott asked.    

“Nothing, I guess,” Johnny admitted.  “It’s just that Johnny Madrid never would have got himself into such a situation in the first place.”   

“You said there was only one way to help the cow.  How could he have handled it any differently?” Murdoch asked.   

“Well, he probably wouldn’t have been punching cows in the first place.  But, if he had, he’d have shot the cow and had steak for dinner,” Johnny replied.  Murdoch and Scott laughed at the image.  

After a moment, Murdoch said, “Johnny, I want you to understand that our only concern is your welfare.  I don’t want my sons falling off their horse and unconscious at my feet only to find out they were hurt days ago and I knew nothing about it.  Understood?”   

“Look, I didn’t fall off my horse,” Johnny took exception.   

Murdoch shook his head in exasperation.  “Call it what you want to, son.  One minute you were on Barranca’s back and the next you were unconscious at my feet—after a superb effort to get him under control, I might add.  It looked to me like you fell, but if you have a better explanation, go ahead.”   

“I only know I didn’t fall.  Johnny Madrid never fell off no horse, and neither will Johnny Lancer,” Johnny persisted.  He saw the look on their faces.  “Look, I didn’t….”   

“….fall off your horse,” Scott and Murdoch said in unison before Johnny could finish.  

“We know,” said Scott, smiling at his brother, and they all laughed, even as, inwardly, Johnny gave a sigh of relief.  His relief was shortlived, though.   

“You’re staying in bed today, young man, and I don’t want to hear one word about it,” Murdoch ordered.  “I didn’t miss the fact that you said you had a concussion the other day, too.  I’m sure Sam will be happy with that news when he gets here later today.  I promised him you’d spend today in bed and you will.  You’ll also stay in bed until Sam says its okay to be up.  Maybe next time you’ll think twice about hiding injuries from us.  Understood?”  

Johnny’s inherent restless nature, as well as Johnny Madrid’s need to be constantly on the move, silently rebelled at the order.  But, love and trust of his family caused him to reason it was a small price to pay when they only had his best welfare at heart.  “Yeah, ol’ man.”   

“Good!” Murdoch exclaimed.  He looked Johnny in the eye.  “Never be too embarrassed to let us know when you’re hurting, son.”  Scott nodded his agreement.   

“I know, and thanks,” Johnny acknowledged.   

Murdoch and Scott decided Johnny could use some rest.  “Would you like to play some checkers later?” Scott asked, and Johnny nodded in agreement, settling down to rest as they closed the door after them.  

Johnny reflected it had gone well.  He wasn’t fooled; both Scott and Murdoch knew there was something more to the story than what he was telling.  They also knew enough not to push.  But Johnny saw no reason to tell them the rest of it.  No one—not even Scott and Murdoch—needed to know how painful the injury had been and about the tears he’d shed that day.  Maybe, someday, Johnny Madrid Lancer could tell them if he was in pain, or cry tears for his family to see.  But not today; not yet.  For now, Johnny decided he’d let Scott and Murdoch believe his reason for keeping his injury to himself was his embarrassment regarding the circumstances leading to it.   

Because you can never let them see you cry.   



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