Fault by Proxy
by  Southernfrau

An Lancer ANC Stand alone story in answer to the July Challenge.


Disclaimer: I had one but I wasn’t concerned enough to use it. 

Thanks to Kit for the quick beta and suggestions.

Author’s Note: I posted a word challenge on the first day of July for people to write a drabble, ficlet or longer story in honor of the day.  The words to use were: stars, stripes, red, white, blue, boom, fire, hot, and lit.

Author's note 2: Pablo Picasso, a great artist, once said, What I have to do is utilize, as best I can, the ideas which objects suggest to me, connect, fuse, and color in my way the shadows they cast within me, illumine them from the inside. And since of necessity, my vision is quite different from that of the next man, my painting will interpret things in an entirely different manner even though it makes use of the same elements.

Writing to me is the ability to paint with words another reality and transport my reader there. This is my vision/reality of the Lancers, it makes me happy to write them this way and I would much rather fail in my attempt to be original, than to succeed in imitation.  


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~

Yawning as he stepped into the kitchen from the back staircase, Scott Lancer shuffled to the refrigerator.  Stopping in front of the stainless steel box, he stretched, extending his hands out in front of him, twining his fingers and raising his arms above his head, arching his back until his spine made a satisfying pop as it aligned.

“AH! That felt good,” he muttered as he pulled the refrigerator door open.

Peering into the chilly interior he spied the object his quest.  Nothing tasted better in the morning than an ice cold glass of orange juice. California sunshine in a bottle.  Grabbing the container a frown marred his handsome features at the lightness of the gallon size jug.  There was perhaps one glass left judging by the weight.  Looks like little brother struck again. While you snooze, you lose and for once I get the last serving.

Turning to the cabinet where the glasses were stored, Scott took a step and stopped.  Smirking, his eyes twinkling as he looked cautiously about, he unscrewed the cap on the jug, raised it, threw back his head, exposing the long column of his neck and chugged down the sweet nectar, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. Snickering in delight, he rinsed the container and tossed it in the recycle bin.  The jug bounced before settling against an apple juice bottle which made him remember.

Smack!  The blond slapped his forehead.  Good grief, how could I forget, Dad restricted Johnny to water or juice only because of his summer cold. 

Rushing to the refrigerator, he confirmed not only were they out of orange juice, but also any of the other flavors the youngest Lancer would consume.  Great, of course we have plenty of milk since Johnny can’t drink it because Sam says it builds mucus.  Moving about some of the items in the double door appliance, Scott grimaced as the only other juice he found was prune juice.  He snorted.  I can just hear Johnny now if I suggest he drink that with his breakfast.  ‘Are you fuckin’ goofy, Boston, you think I want to be in the crapper all day, shittin’ my brains out?’

“Looks like I need to make a quick run to Baldomero’s General Store.”  The little mercantile in Morro Coyo was a favorite of the Lancer family.  It was still housed in a wooden structure erected in the 1850’s and like old time general stores, it carried a little bit of everything from flour to horse shoe nails. 

Reaching into his pocket, jingling his keys to make sure he had them, Scott headed for the pantry.  The kitchen store room had a door at the back that exited right into the garage, making it easy to unload the groceries. The family stored their everyday vehicles in this building, and the rest of the car collection was housed in one of the converted old barns.

Sunlight streamed through the windows of the structure and the blond blinked in discomfort at the brightness, and then in surprise when he noted his father’s Commander wasn’t parked in his spot.  Dad must have gotten lucky last night.

Ha’s black Bentley was in place as was Johnny’s classic pale yellow 1968 Mustang Convertible.  It’s been so long since baby brother has driven his car the gas has probably evaporated. 

Arriving at his own 1969 metallic blue T-top Stingray Corvette, Scott did a quick once over inspection of the prized car.  Deciding all was in order he pulled the handle and settled into the bucket seat.  Checking that all the mirrors were set, he snickered as the pilot in him also briefly glanced at the various gauges on the instrument panel. 

The powerful engine rumbled to life as he turned the key, a sound distinctly different from his Porsche.  A satisfied grin lit his face at the sound.  Grabbing the seatbelt he pulled it across his chest and clicked it.  Donning his sun glasses, his foot was drawn to the gas pedal like a magnet to metal. Watch the lead foot, Captain Lancer; you’ve already had one ticket this summer.  Sighing in pleasure, Scott hit the remote on his sun visor to open the garage door.  The mechanical motor whirred to life, the chain clattered as it began to move and the metal doors rattled in their tracks as they rose.

Scott popped the clutch as he aborted his attempt to shift the car into gear when he looked and saw his father’s Commander was parked long ways outside the opening; blocking his exit.  Dad must have been in a hurry to get inside last night he never leaves his car outside.

Killing his engine and removing his seatbelt, Scott decided to just take his father’s car.  The Bentley wasn’t his style at all and Johnny would have a fit if he took his Mustang since he hadn’t been allowed to drive all summer.  Departing his car, he patted the top and promised, “We’ll take a nice spin around the compound here later…where we can go as fast as we want.”

His keys jingling as he searched for the spare to his father’s Commander, the blond whistled as he exited the garage.  Opening the door to the big vehicle, he hopped in.  WOW!  He was so far back from the gas pedal his toe could barely touch the base of it.  Before closing the door, he reached down on the left side of the seat and hit the power controls to position the seat for his comfort.  Shutting the door he pulled on the seatbelt, cranking the SUV, he put it in gear and drove off.


~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~



Scratching his disheveled hair as his ride down the banister ended with a well placed sock footed landing on a worn red tile, Johnny Lancer arrived in the spacious kitchen of the hacienda.  Maria was off today and the always hungry teen planned to scrounge up his breakfast.  A big bonus was the fact all his keepers were still asleep too…which meant not one nutritious morsel would be entering his mouth this morning. 

Sniffling, as his runny nose began to itch, Johnny rushed for a paper towel.  Blowing his nose, he staggered as a temporary feeling of light headedness washed over him and stars swam in his vision.  Damn, I’m tired of this cold.  Stumbling to the trash can to toss the used towel, he grinned as he spied the orange juice container in the recycle bin.  Hot damn that was the last of the OJ…now I have a reason not to drink it for breakfast.  I’ve had all the vitamin C, I can stand!

“Now then what shall I have for breakfast,” Johnny exclaimed, opening a cabinet and rubbing his hands together in hungry anticipation.  “Hello, what have we here…Toastchee crackers.”  Ripping opening the cellophane box that contained eight packs, each with six cheese crackers with peanut butter filling, he removed two packs.  “Perfect, one toast is as good as another.”  Placing his find on the counter, the youngest Lancer continued his rummaging, he fairly crowed in delight as he found the cans of Armour Vienna sausages.  “Ah hah! Here’s my meat.”  The small can was placed next to the crackers. 

Johnny’s scavenger hunt continued, in the third cabinet he found a tin of smoked and roasted Almonds.  “These will make a great after breakfast snack.”  Looking over his selections thus far, Johnny realized he needed something from the dairy group.  He practically drooled when he spied the box of cream cheese Danishes.  “Can’t get much more dairy than cheese.” 

He gathered up his breakfast items and did a strutting canter to the table.  Tossing it all at his normal place at the table, Johnny spun around and executed a running slide to the refrigerator.  Snatching the door open so fast the salad dressing bottles in the door clinked together, he scanned the interior.  A Grinch like grin curled his mouth at the corners when he saw the sixteen ounce bottle of Sunkist Orange soda.  “My my my…I do believe I have the basic food groups covered now,” he spoke out loud as though defending and explaining his choices.

Twenty minutes later the debris from his junk food feast lay before the youngest Lancer on the table.  Swigging back the last of the orange drink, Johnny’s cheeks puffed out, as the burp building in his belly worked its way up.  Opening his mouth wide, his lips stretched taut as the loud rumble rolled out, echoing in the early morning quiet.  Patting his stomach in satisfaction, Johnny rose from the table, gathered the evidence of his gluttony and disposed of it in the trash.

Another belly deep burp roared from his mouth like flames from a fire breathing dragon causing him to snicker as he declared to no one in particular, “Now I have room for my snack.”  Crossing back to the table he picked up the Almond tin, removed the plastic lid, lifted the pull tab and yanked.  The metal top opened with a poof of air and the scent of spicy smoke. 

Tossing the metal top in the trash, Johnny decided to take his roasted nuts outside and enjoy them in the fresh air.  He walked through the pantry to take the shortcut through the garage which would take him to courtyard with the fruit trees.  Just as he exited the house into the garage, his father’s Commander pulled in. 

Frowning, Johnny thought, Great, the old man is just getting’ in from a fuckin’ booty call. All questions about why he was just getting in died in his throat when Johnny’s saw the passenger side of the expensive SUV. His mouth dropped open and the can of nuts clattered from his hand and scattered on the concrete floor.  There was a major dented area just under the side mirror followed by deep gouges running the entire length of the car like stripes and ending in a broken tail light.  His shock doubled when his brother Scott exited the vehicle instead of his father.

Oh snap!  It’s your turn under the big gun, brother.  Dancing a jig, Johnny teased, “Dad is gonna kill you, he’s gonna stomp you flat and then blow you back up and stomp you again!”

Scott tossed a quizzical look at his kid brother.  Coming around the front of the vehicle, he questioned, “Are you high on cold medicine?  What in the world are you talking about?”

Strutting over to the Commander, Johnny pointed, “I’m talkin’ about you fubarrin’ Dad’s ride.”

“I didn’t,” Scott gasped in horror, the gallon jug of Tropicana orange juice slipping from his suddenly nerveless fingers, exploding with a muffled boom as it hit the concrete.  A shower of sticky orange liquid rose in the air like a geyser and then splashed down to join the almonds Johnny had dropped.  The blond’s mouth gaped open and shut as he moved closer to inspect the damage.  “I…I…I…I didn’t do it,” he finally stammered out.

“Sure you didn’t,” Johnny snorted.  Tsking and shaking his head, Johnny poked his lips out in a sad pout, not one mote of genuine sympathy in his expression. “I can understand you’re gonna hate for Dad to find out…but I’m sure gonna love bein’ the one to tell him.”  His eyes twinkled in delight.

Preparing to rocket off, Johnny was drawn up short, grimacing in disgust as his brother pulled him to a stop in the spilled juice, the sticky liquid seeping into his white socks.  Once again he had neglected to put on his shoes; but that was a minor infraction of the old man’s rules when compared to mangling his car. 

With an iron tight grip on his brother’s arm, Scott pulled him up closed and leaned down until they were face to face, noses touching.  Through clenched teeth, he repeated his denial.  “I…did…not…do…this.”   Sighing heavily and swiping at the sweat that trickled down his brow with his free hand, he speculated on what might have occurred, and where. “The only place I went was Baldomeros…and I was the only one in the parking lot.”

Studying the car, Johnny shrugged.  “Maybe when you got there, you were the only one.  How do you know someone didn’t hit it while you were in the store?”  Any way you slice it big brother it’s your ass in the sling this time.  Some of his glee over the reverse situation faded as he saw the truly concerned expression on Scott’s face as he continued to examine the car.

Scott’s logical mind was working overtime.  “With the extent of the damage there is, and no bigger than Baldomeros’ parking lot, I’m sure we would have heard the collision inside.”

Johnny tapped the car’s door with the flat of his hand.  “I can’t believe you drove all the way home without noticin’,” he grimaced.  “And if I don’t believe it, you can bet your ass the old man sure as hell ain’t gonna believe it.”  As hard as he tried, he couldn’t keep the smug self-satisfaction out of his voice.

Elbowing his baby brother in the gut -- Johnny was enjoying this far too much -- Scott’s voice lowered.  “Why would I notice? I got in on the driver’s side; I never went around to the passenger side.”

Rubbing his belly, Johnny turned and pointed to the entrance to the pantry.  He was feeling vindictive.  “Yeah; but the passenger side is the first thing you saw when you came through that door and decided to take Dad’s SUV.”

Au contraire, little brother.  The first thing I saw when I came through the door was my Corvette.  I didn’t see Dad’s car until I hit the remote to open the garage doors and saw it parked outside.  It was blocking the exit so I decided to take the Jeep; and since it was parked long ways all I saw was the driver’s side.”  Throwing his hands up in the air the blond showed his frustration.

Both boys jumped, startled when their father’s voice sounded behind them.

“That would be why you didn’t see the damage,” Murdoch stated, frowning as he moved towards his sons.

“You already know about this,” Scott asked, his voice curiously several octaves higher.

“Yes.  It happened last night,” Murdoch replied, reaching out to steady Scott as he seemed to be wilting.

Scott’s relief was so great, the tension left his body and all of a sudden he felt like his bones were jello and that he was going to sink into the puddle of orange juice on the floor. “What happened?” he asked, grateful when his father’s strong hand supported him.

Scowling as he reviewed the mishap, Murdoch proceeded to explain.  “Late last night, as I was approaching the security gate, I pressed the remote to roll the gate back; right at the red marker post.  As I drew near the gate it was just wide enough to drive through, so I knew by the time I was right up on it I would have more than enough clearance.”  Pausing, his eyes narrowed and he snorted; reaching out to finger the big dent. “It turns out the gate wasn’t in the process of opening, it was closing and I realized it too late.  It banged into the door here,” he pointed under the mirror, “and by the time I was able to stop it had scratched down the entire side.”

Scott was nodding his head; the picture of what had happened playing across his mind.  He could almost hear the grating of metal against metal.  “You think the gate control malfunctioned.”  Whew! You dodged the bullet this time.

“No, I do not!”  Turning to glare at his youngest, Murdoch revealed his own theory of what had happened.  “I think someone went through that gate and neglected to close it. That wouldn’t cause a problem in the day light, but a person arriving after dark in a light fog wouldn’t see the gate was open back at the marker post, and therefore wouldn’t realize pressing the remote would close it.”

“Who do you think did it?” Scott asked, oblivious to the fact his baby brother was trying to make a strategic retreat through the spilled juice.

“I’ll tell you that when I review the tape from the security camera at that location.”  Both of Murdoch’s eye brows arched, his forehead furrowed with four ridges.

The deer in the headlight look and the twitch of Johnny’s body told the two older Lancers exactly who they would see on the tape.      

Johnny felt like a bug under a magnifying glass at the harsh stare his father was directing his way.  His junk food breakfast began to gurgle in his nervous stomach.  He swallowed the food and fear down.  He already knew what the old man would see on that tape; him on his four wheeler, no helmet, no shirt, no shoes.  His eyes darted desperately about.  Fuck!  Scott’s ass is out of the sling and mine is back in it.  Common sense and logic be damned, Johnny skidded backwards through the spilled juice and streaked from the garage with lightning quick speed. 

The two older men took off after the youth, their longer legs swiftly closing the gap.  Johnny’s flight was hampered by his socks, as he ran the juice soaked material picked up dirt, stretching the knit socks until they flapped on his feet as they worked their way off.  The rocky ground also caused the teen trouble, the sharp edges of stone and gravel digging into his tender feet.  Approaching the old corral fence, Johnny planned to hurdle it, but tripped when he stepped on the toe of one sock and slammed, head first, into the rails instead. 

Johnny sunk slowly to the ground, like a snowman melting in the mid-day sun.  “I give up!  Even when it looks like Scott’s fault, it ends up being mine.” 


The End


July 2011






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