The thunder rolls, And the lightenin’ strikes
Another love grows cold on a sleepless night
As the storm blows on,
Out of control
Deep in his heart the thunder rolls
(From the song The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks – with one slight alteration)
Disturbed by the raised voice from the tirade that was so full of rage and the sound of the door as it slammed heavily into the frame, Murdoch Lancer left what he was doing and walked towards his son. “Where’s who?” he asked, doing his best to diffuse a tense situation. He’d seen his son angry before, but never like this – the fire in his son’s eyes heeded a warning, to approach with caution.
“That half brother of mine!” Murdoch’s son spat, his breathing hard and fast.
“Calm down and tell me what this is all about,” ordered Murdoch.
“I swear I’ll kill him. He can’t leave well enough alone. Why does he have to interfere in everything I do? Sure, I didn’t have the same sort of life as he did – but does he need to remind me of that.” The tirade continued, rising to a crescendo as it progressed.
Teresa, how had heard the raised voices from where she was in the kitchen rushed into the main room to see what was going on. She stopped and observed only advancing when she saw Murdoch leave his son’s side to answer the knock at the door. “What’s going on?” She asked, her voice full of concern for the man before her.
“I’m sorry I asked,” stammered Teresa, and nervously withdrew.
“No, it’s not your fault and I apologize for snapping at you. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
Teresa nodded a quick acknowledgement of understanding and seated herself near the blazing fire. “Well it certainly takes the cold chill off the air, in more ways than one,” she said to herself, her words caught the ears of the one they were intended for.
“What’s all the shoutin’ for? Anyone would think that you’d just lost all your money in a poker game,” Jelly commented as he entered the room where everyone had gathered. He looked at each person in turn, held his gaze momentarily and then picked up the latest edition of the Chronicle.
“I don’t yell when I lose at cards…” he started to say before Jelly interjected.
“It was just a figure a speech. It’s gettin’ so a man caint say a word about anythin’ around here.” He picked up the newspaper, shook it so that the pages straightened and proceeded to read, occasionally moving the paper further away from his eyes so that he could see the words clearly.
“Jelly, have you seen that brother of mine?”
“I did. Saw him not more than ten minutes ago.”
“So he’s here then?”
“Well, unless my eyes are deceiving me – yes, he’s here, he was headed towards the barn. Why?”
“Later. Right now I’ve got some settling up to do.”
Murdoch watched with interest as his son stalked out the door and in the direction of eh barn. He debated with himself whether or not he should follow and intervene if necessary. Teresa’s soft voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Murdoch don’t you think you should go after him. You saw the look in his eyes…”
“I know,” Murdoch sighed and rubbed his right hand over his face. “They’re grown men and should be able to sort out their own problems.”
“That’s just it, they are grown men but sometimes they act like boys. You have to go out there and stop them, before they hurt each other,” Teresa pleaded, her voice making an impassioned plea.
“There you are. I’ve been looking for you, brother,” the word ‘brother’ used as a curse, rather than a friendly greeting. He squinted as he spoke and dropped his hand down to rest on his gun belt,
“Is that so? Well I’ve been out here since getting back with the supplies. Did you and Chad get the fence line finished?” He took an involuntary step backwards when he heard the way his brother addressed him. “You upset at me about something?”
“No. Whatever gave you that idea?” The sarcasm dripped in his voice as he maintained his unfaltering gaze.
“You sure you’re not mad at me? You sound awful mad…” he paused when he saw his brother’s hand resting so easily on his gun, like he’d seen it many times before. “You mind moving your hand away from your gun. You’re beginning to make me a little nervous.” He fervently hoped that Murdoch wouldn’t be too far behind or at the very least that Chad would be nearby to lend a helping hand.
… Since their cousin had come to live at Lancer with them following Callie’s death, he’d been the butt of member of the town folks jokes but had proved his loyalty to his new found family. Chad and Callie Beuford had originally come to California from Cumberland County in Kentucky in search of “Lancree’s” to put an end to the feud between the tow families. The name Lancer had been spelt differently at the time of the feud, having been spelt “L-a-n-c-r-e”, which the hill peoples, had pronounced as Lan-cree.
Chad’s first meeting, by chance of a Lancer had been with Johnny at a small saloon in a town 30 miles away from the Lancer ranch in Morro Coyo. Johnny had intervened and stopped a group of seven men from attacking Chad and his ‘sister’ – Callie. While Chad and Callie had made good their escape; Johnny had been shot in his right calf muscle in his own attempt to flee from the men who pursued. Unhorsed Johnny had traveled as quickly as he could from the town and had taken rest under the shade of a large tree. “Don’t move.” He heard a voice from behind him say. He turned to see Chad with a knife in his hand and offered no resistance. The knife was not intended to end his own life but that of a rattler that had been poised, ready to strike and deliver a debilitating bite to it’s victim.
Chad assisted Johnny back to his and Callie’s campsite, letting Johnny lean on him, using him as a crutch. Together the brother and sister explained that they had traveled a great distance to end a feud that had started fifty years before hand. Intrigued with wanting to know what the feud was about, Johnny listened as the words of the story were imparted through song.
“Mountains too blue, Valleys run red, till the last of the feuding kin lies dead, witch woman said.” The words of the haunting melody filled the night air as brother and sister discussed what it would be like to end the feud.
Under attack from the seven men that had been pursuing them, Johnny had told Chad and Callie to get out while they could. Reluctantly Johnny had accepted Chad’s offer to stay and fight while Callie made her way to the Lancer ranch to get help. It was while Johnny and Chad were alone, waiting for daylight, that Chad vowed that the feud was going to end, either with him or he last of them. Little did he know that his prophecy would come true.
Safely back at Lancer, Callie had professed her undying love for Johnny and insinuated that they were to be married, a surprise to Johnny and his family. After Chad had informed his sister that Johnny had had no intention of marrying her, Callie then revealed her trump card. She had discovered that the name Lancre had now been spelt as Lancer and goaded her brother on to fight for her honor and to end the feud.
Against Murdoch’s wishes Johnny accepted the challenge to end the feud, saying that he had a better chance than both his father and Scott did against Chad.
Chad’s first shot missed his intended target. As his quarry escaped further into the brush, he filled his rifle, reading it for a second chance at shooting Johnny, he turned and aimed by reflex and instinct at the noise he had heard of a person running in the long grass. This time he didn’t miss, but the target was not Johnny. It had been his own sister, Callie.
With Johnny and Chad by her side, Callie told them in her dying breaths that Chad was not a Beuford but a Lancer. That he was her own sister, Ann’s child. She had run off with a Lancer and had born Chad. It was true; she had implored as she made him believe. She was the last of the Beufords and he was a Lancer. The feud had ended that fateful day in the field and Chad had found his new family. …
“Maybe it should make you a little nervous,” he answered, a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he spoke.
“I’d like to know what I’ve done to make you mad, brother.” Again he looked towards the barn door, in hope that someone would intervene.
His brother’s ignorance at not knowing what he had done irked him further.Driven by rage and fury he landed a solid blow to his brother’s jaw knocking him backwards and against the gate to the horse’s stall. As his blows continued to rain down against his brother’s face and unprotected ribs, he was consciously aware that his brother had made no attempt to fight back. His anger spent he stood up and looked down at the prone form of his frustration.
Alerted by the crashing and banging inside the barn Chad entered to find one cousin standing while the other lay unmoving on the floor. “What have you done?” he asked in disbelief, a shocked expression portrayed on his face. As he lowered his lanky frame to the barn floor, he looked up at his cousin. “Go an’ git help fer him. Now!” he ordered. He had to repeat his command once more as his cousin stood still, with his mouth agape, not believing the damage that he had inflicted.
“Murdoch, please,” begged Teresa, who’s doe like eyes implored him to go to the barn and stop anything before it had had a chance to start. She looked from Murdoch to Jelly and back to Murdoch again. “Well if you’re not going to do anything about it I am.” Without looking back she ran from the main room and across to the barn. As she neared the building she heard Chad’s voice, his distinctive accent was hard to misplace. “What have you done?” There was no mistaking what Chad’s words meant. Someone was hurt and hurt bad.
She wanted to go adn see what Chad what so upset about, but a part of her wanted to rush back inside and get Murdoch. ‘Damn you Murdoch, why did you have to be so stubborn. One of your sons is hurt and where are you?’ Her silent tirade finished she pulled her skirts straight and wiped her eyes dry. She inhaled deeply and was about to pull the barn door open when she felt a hand on her right arm. “Murdoch,” she uttered in surprise.
Murdoch nodded and pulled Teresa away from the barn. “Let me handle it. You’re right, I shouldn’t have let him go like that. He can be a force to be reckoned with at the best of times, but in that kind of a mood he’s dangerous.” As he stepped over the bottom door jam he repeated the words that Chad had spoken just moments before. “What have you done?” Shocked by the sight that greeted him. One man still shaking from the ordeal and the other so lifeless on the dirt floor.
“I… I… I don’t know. I didn’t mean for it to go this far. I didn’t think.”
Murdoch looked in disgust at his son. “No! You didn’t think,” he bellowed and knelt down on the floor. “I guess I can be thankful that you didn’t shoot him. Get into town and fetch the doctor!” He watched as his son leapt up on Barranca’s back, with practiced ease and soon had him at a full gallop headed towards town. “Chad, help me get him inside,” directed Murdoch.
Teresa entered the barn with Jelly in tow. “Oh no,” she cried and gripped Jelly’s forearm. “I knew something should have been done sooner. You saw the fire in his eyes, Murdoch.”
“There’s no time for that now,” sighed Murdoch. “Go to the house and get Maria to boil some water. We need fresh bandages and some laudanum.” He turned his attention back to Chad and signaled for him to lift. He grimaced when he heard his son choke back a scream as a bolt of pain shot through his body. “I’m sorry, son.”
With the wounds attended to as best he could, Murdoch pulled a chair close to the bed and kept a vigil over his son. On the dresser near the bed was a photo of his son’s mother, a beautiful woman whom he had only had the privilege of knowing for such a short time. Beside the photo was a leather bound book, simply titled “Boston”. A book that told of the lifestyle in Boston, Harvard College, the people and the culture.
As Murdoch flicked through the pages he reminisced of his time spent in Boston and his first meeting with Catherine. He’d been fresh off the boat from Inverness when he’d first met Scott’s mother and much to her father’s disgust she had been taken with the young Scotsman. He been driven by desire to succeed and had come to the new country to make his fortune. He’d been successful in amassing a vast empire but had paid the price for it -– not in money, but in love, family and great loneliness. Lost in his own thoughts he never heard Teresa enter his son’s room and flinched when he felt a hand brush against his arm.
“How is he?” she asked. She could see from the bruises that ran bone deep and the multitude of cuts that littered his body that he was far from being all right. “The doctor’s here,” she added when she saw his buggy approach. She noted that Barranca’s coat was lathered, evident of being pushed hard.
Murdoch had also noted the arrival of the doctor and the condition of Johnny’s horse Barranca. “I just don’t know what gets into that boy at times,” Murdoch said as he watched his son dismount and lead Barranca to the barn.
“I’ll go and see to the doctor and tell him where you are,” offered Teresa, happy to make an excuse that would allow her to leave the room. Scott and Johnny had become like brothers to her over the years that they had been living at Lancer and she hated to see either one of them hurt. “Doctor Wilkes,” she called to the aging physician, “Murdoch’s upstairs with…” That was all she managed to get out before she finally let the tears fall unchecked and unbidden down her cheeks.
you, Teresa,” replied Wilkes and beckoned for Maria to look after Teresa
while he ascended the ornately carved staircase.******
“Well, Barranca, looks like I really did it this time. Why could I listen before I acted. Was losing a girl that important. Did it really matter that it had to come between us?”
“That’s what I would like to know,” chided Jelly and handed him a clean rag to wipe Barranca down with.
“Jelly, I haven’t thought of anything else but that since riding into town to fetch Doc Wilkes. I know at times we get on each other’s nerves but normally we can settle our differences, but this time I lost it. What’ll I do?”
you can start by taking care of Barranca and makin’ sure he don’t catch
a chill, looks like you darn near rode him to death,” the older man began
to say, his words harsh and biting. When he saw his friend wince
at his tone, he suggested that they take care of the horse together. “If
I were you, I say some prayers that your brother will be okay.”
“What did the doctor say?” Teresa asked when she saw Murdoch in the main room. “Murdoch?” she prompted. She could se that he was lost unto himself and that getting through to him was going to be a hard task. She watched him pick up the framed sepia photo of his sons and heard him sigh. “Why does everything have to be so damn heard?”
“Murdoch?” Teresa prompted once more and placed her hand on his shoulder. When she finally had his attention she repeated her earlier question. “What did the doctor say?” She knew from his look that the news wasn’t good. There was no expression on his face, only a tightness around the eyes.
Finally Murdoch spoke, his words slow and deliberate. “Why didn’t I see the rift coming between them. Was I so tied up in my work that I didn’t take the time to notice? How did it get so out of hand?” No emotions crossed his face while he spoke; his eyes fixed on the silver-framed picture before him. Lost in his own self pity he turned his chair to face out the picturesque window and stared off into the distance transfixed by the growing carpet of light that moved slowly across the pastoral land. “Do you think I did the right thing, by bringing them here?” He asked Teresa and clasped her outstretched hand.
“Oh, Murdoch, don’t you ever doubt yourself. You did the right thing by bringing Scott and Johnny here, to Lancer. They belong here. Just as you do. This land is your home and theirs as well,” she said, her voice catching as she spoke.
“And your home to Teresa.” Murdoch added, his voice barely above a whisper. He saw the merest glimmer of a tear in her eyes. She was hurting too, this whole mess had affected her and it showed. Her brown eyes fringed by her long black lashes showed sadness in them. The same sadness that he had seen when he had to tell he that her father had been killed. “You still miss him, don’t you?” He asked.
Teresa nodded and bit her top lip to stop herself from crying. “I do, but now I have you, Scott, Johnny and Jelly.”
“Did I hear someone mention my name?” Jelly asked.
“I did,” smiled Teresa. “I was saying how lucky I was to have you all for my family. Well if you’ll excuse me I’ll go and see if Maria needs any help in the kitchen.”
Murdoch knew what Teresa was doing and nodded his approval. “See if you can’t get Maria to make a batch of her famous Polvornes.” He turned his chair back to face his foreman and indicated to him to sit down. “I take it you spoke with..”
“I spoke him,” Jelly forestalled Murdoch. “I left him out in the barn to give Barranca a good rub down and think some more about his actions. I don't think he’s ready to face you yet, Boss.” It was a few minutes before either man spoke again the silence only interrupted by the presence of Doctor Wilkes. Jelly automatically rose and offered the kindly doctor his chair. “How is he, Doc?”
“He’s asleep and will be that way for some time, I’ve given him some laudanum to help him sleep easier.” Wilkes replied and seated himself in the vacated chair. “It was quite a beating he took. I’ve taped his ribs and sutured the bigger cuts but the smaller ones I’ve just dressed. In a few days I’ll permit him to be up and around again but in the meantime try and keep him quiet.” He let the news of his patient’s condition sink in before he continued. “I was told his brother did that to him.”
“He did,” answered Murdoch, the disappointment that he felt reflected in his tone. He sadly shook his head and rubbed absently at his temples.
“How are you feeling?” Wilkes asked taking in Murdoch’s harried appearance. “Anything I can help you with?”
“No, you’ve done enough already. I’ll be okay,” Murdoch assured him. “If you could tell me where I went wrong I’d feel a lot better.”
“Would you? Look, Murdoch all siblings fight, it’s a part of growing up. Johnny and Scott never got to grow up with each other as most kids do and after treading the waters carefully to establish a relationship, they’re just going through a rough patch. It’ll blow over, you’ll see.”
“You’re a wise man Cliff, when did you get your degree in psychology?”
“It’s a sideline I’ve been looking into,” Wilkes chuckled. When Murdoch laughed he smiled. “Well for that extra service I should charge you.” He turned his head towards the kitchen and sniffed the aromas that had wafted into the main room with interest. “How about instead of charging you, I invite myself to dinner.”
“That sounds like a fine idea,” agreed Murdoch and pushed himself back from his desk. “Jelly, ask Maria to set an extra place. Cliff, will it be all right if I were to go and sit with…”
Wilkes nodded, “it’ll do you both some good. If he wakes up come and get
******“If you go rubbin’ that horse’s coat any more he’s gonna shine so much that the sun will bounce off of his back,” Chad wryly commented.
“It helps to pass the time. After the ride that I gave Barranca, he deserves a good rub down.”
“So you haven’t been in to speak with your father yet then?”
“I honestly don’t know what to say.”
“Caint be that hard, all you gotta do is tell him why you done it.”
I CAN’T! Don’t you understand that? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at
you. It’s just that I don’t know what to think or how to fix things right
now. I need time to think.”
Chad looked down at the barn floor and then back to his cousin. “You mind tellin’ me then what is so hard about tellin’ Murdoch your reasons for hittin’ your brother the way you did?”
“I just can’t – not yet. Can we just leave it at that for now? Haven’t you got some chores that need doing?”
“I know when to take a hint and leave,” Chad mumbled and threw the rag down on the floor. “Ya know where to find me if you wanna talk.”
Murdoch’s son watched Chad walk away and resumed brushing down Barranca. “How did things get so out of hand so fast? Hell, it wasn’t even his fault, well not all of it. I don’t believe this,” he said incredulously, “I’m standing here talking to you when I should be talking with my brother.”
he’d finished attending to Barranca and cleaned the tack before putting
it back where it belonged he looked out towards the corral. Amongst the
horses he saw one in particular that he had been looking for. He led the
sorrel to the fence and looped the lead rope around the wooden rails while
he readied the horse. “May as well give you a run today too,’ he said as
he worked. “Least I can do.”
Two hours passed and still no change. Murdoch took a cool compress form the basin and placed it on his son’s forehead. “You look like you could do with a break.” A voice from behind him said.
“Let me stay with him for a while,” offered Teresa. Her expression told Murdoch that she was not going to take ‘no’ for an answer. “I can manage,” she added and smiled. “I took care of you when you were sick didn’t I?”
Murdoch relented and nodded his head, affirming that Teresa was correct. “Thank you. I could do with a rest. You will call the doctor if you need anything?”
“Murdoch!” Teresa lightly scolded and shooed him out of the darkened room. “Now go and find your other son. He needs you just as much, he’ll be hurting too.”
“When did you get so smart?”
“Oh I think it was about the time that these two sons of yours came to live with us.”
As Murdoch made his way over to the barn he saw Chad in the middle of repairs to a wagon. He marveled at Chad’s outward strength as he lifted the axle and slid the wheel onto it. “Better not let Jelly catch you doing that, he’ll have you repairing all the heavy wagons around here by yourself. Chad, have you seen..”
“In the barn,” Chad grunted forestalling Murdoch’s question. Once the wheel was in place properly he let go the breath that he had been holding. “Has the Doc got any new yet?”
“Not yet, Chad. When you’ve finished here why don’t you get yourself cleaned up and go and see if Teresa needs any help. She’s with him right now.” Murdoch entered the barn and saw that Barranca has been grained and watered. He turned to see the riding tack and saddle for Scott’s horse was missing. A quick look at the corral confirmed that his oldest son’s horse was also gone. ”Damn you,” he cursed loudly.
“Somethin’ wrong, boss?”
“No, nothing really,” Murdoch sighed. “I’m going to need my horse saddled, would you mind doing it for me?”
It didn’t take Murdoch long to pick up his son’s trail. The sorrel had a wide stride and Murdoch could tell by the length of the scuff marks left on the hard ground that he was on the right track. It was near the small stream that Murdoch located his son. He heard the rhythmic splash of the stones as they hit the water and sounds of exertion as each stone was thrown. “Thought I might find you here.”
“You come to chew me out, Murdoch?”
“Nope. I figure you’ve been doing that enough to yourself. You don’t need me adding to it.” Murdoch tried to keep his tone light and non-threatening. “Mind if I join you?”
“Suit yourself,” his son replied as he cast another stone into the dark pool of water.
Murdoch picked up couple of smaller stones and skimmed them across the water’s surface. “It’s no use blaming yourself for what happened. What’s done is done,” he said while the stone bounced five times across the water. “It’s as much my fault as it is yours.” He added.
“And how exactly do you work that one out?”
“I had the opportunity to stop you and I didn’t. I could tell that you were angry and hurting. You weren’t in any kind of a mood to reason or listen with your brother.”
As another stone splashed into the water he looked at his father. “Murdoch, I should’ve known better. I acted before thinking and let my anger get the better of me.”
“Son, we all make stupid mistakes when we’re in love or when we think we are in love. I’ve got a few of my own battle scars to show for the things that I did. Before I met your mother a good friend was also vying for her attentions. We fought, had a pair of matching black eyes between us,” Murdoch chuckled as he recalled the fight, “but in the end we called a truce and let your mother decide who she was going to marry. Naturally I won out.”
“Naturally,” his son replied, a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he spoke.
“What I’m trying to say is don’t let this eat at you, work through it with your brother.”
Together father and son sat with their backs against the rock face that had been warmed by the sun’s rays. A light wind blew and rustled the dark green foliage of the trees that stood tall against the ink blue sky. High above them birds warbled their songs I harmony with the water as it playfully made its way downstream over the rocks that jutted out of the water like outstretched fingers.
“It’s peaceful isn’t it? Could almost lose yourself out here,” Murdoch sighed contentedly.
“We could stay here all day, but I can’t. I have a brother that I need to apologize to.” Without waiting for Murdoch he picked the sorrel’s reins up off the ground and swung into the saddle.
“Want some company?” Murdoch called after his son. To his delight his son nodded in the affirmative. He made a kissing sound and moved his own mount on. On the crest of the ridge that overlooked ‘Lancer’, the saddle creaked as Murdoch stood in the stirrups and arched his back. “I never get tired of looking at this land of ours,” he commented.
what you mean. I don't think I've ever seen any grass greener or the sky
any bluer,” the younger man said and moved the horse on. His mount
carefully picked its way down the slope, surefooted and unhurried.
That was the last of their conversation until both men had reined their horses to a halt inside the corral. Murdoch was the first one to speak when he offered his son some moral support. “Do you want me to go and see your brother with you.” There was no verbal reply as his son shook his head. “You go on up then, I’ll take care of the horses.” Murdoch added and watched with pride as his son walked towards the house.
“How did the ride go?” Jelly asked when he saw Murdoch brushing his horse down.
it achieved the desired effect. He’s gone up to talk with his brother.
You want to pass me that curry comb over there.”
He rapped softly on the door before opening it and entered the room to see Teresa exchange a cold compress for the warmed one. “How is he?”
“There’s been some improvement,” Teresa sniffed. “He’s been waking off and on. His ribs have been bothering him some but his temperature is starting to come down. Do you want to stay with him for a while?” She could see that the man before her was hurting and shocked at the damage that he had inflicted in his moment of rage.
“Teresa, I didn’t mean to do this to him. I still don’t know why he didn’t bother to fight back, but that’s no excuse for what I did.” His voice drifted away to barely a whisper as he inhaled deeply through his nose trying to retain his composure.
him,” Teresa said, indicating at the man who lay so still on the bed. “He
needs you.” She left the room, leaving the brothers by themselves to work
through their problems.
“I’m so sorry brother. I never mean t for any of this to happen.” He picked up the photograph of his brother’s mother and looked at it. “She sure was a beautiful woman. I can see how she would’ve made Murdoch so happy.” He returned the photo back to the dresser and picked up the leather bound book. As he leafed through the pages he saw pictures of Harvard, the museum and photos of people dressed in their finery. “Someday we will go to these places together,” he said allowed.
“I’d like that, brother,” replied a weak voice. The injured man looked at his brother through half opened eyes. “I’m sorry,” he added.
“You’re sorry? What have you got to be sorry for? It’s my fault that you’re lying in your bed like this.”
“If you give me a minute to explain, I’ll tell you.” As he spoke coughing interrupted his words.
“Brother, you have nothing to explain. I lost my temper and I shouldn’t have. I didn’t mean to hurt you so badly.”
“So you did mean to hurt me then?”
“Would you shut up for five minutes and let me say what I have to?” He pushed his brother back down onto his pillow as he spoke. “I know that I should’ve spoken to you first before my emotions took over and I let my actions speak for me. I was angry that Raquel wouldn’t give me an honest answer of which one of us she wanted to go out with and when I saw you with her down by the lake I let jealousy get in my way.” He stopped speaking for a moment and stood up to look out across the hills and the sun that had painted them with it rays of gold. He sighed heavily and sat down in the padded chair with his head in his hands. “I’m ashamed of what I’ve done. I don’t know how to make it up to you.”
“Well you could start by doing my chores for few weeks. Doc says I’m going to be laid up for a while.”
“Would you try and be serious for once.”
“I thought I was. Can you pass me that photo of my mother?” When he held the photo in his hands he ran his fingers over the glass. When he held the photo he felt as though his mother was around him. “Do you often wonder what it would have been like?” he asked and looked up at his brother.
“What do you mean?”
“Well if we’d been raised together? Do you think we would have been this close? Or would our lives have taken a different path. I’ll never forget the first day that we met, will you?”
“No, I doubt that I ever will. Sure was one hell of a way to meet each other wasn’t it? Do you remember the look on Murdoch’s face when we both showed up at the same time?”
“How can I forget, he was like a bear with a sore head.” At that comment both brothers laughed and only stopped when the door opened.
“Well I guess it’s safe to come in. I didn’t hear my name mentioned by any chance did I?” Murdoch asked. He was pleased to see that both of his sons were happy to be in each others company and it looked like their differences were on the way to being settled. “What were you so deep in discussion about?”
“Life,” his injured son answered. “Would you mind putting this back for me now?” he asked and held up the photograph.
“All right if I come in for a while?” Chad asked.
“Sure.” Murdoch beckoned him in. “Well I must say you are looking rather dashing? Special occasion?”
“Yeah, Chad you sure do look pretty,” agreed Johnny.
“Yup. That’s because I’ve got a date tonight?”
“You do?” Scott looked from his father to Johnny and back to Chad.
“Who with?” both brothers asked in unison
“Raquel.” He grinned and said his good-byes.
“Well how do you like that? We fight over a girl and then she decides to go out with Chad,” remarked Scott in total disbelief.
“Scott? Do you think one day you’d mind showing me those places in the book you gave me?” Johnny asked, “would that be all right with you, Murdoch?”
Murdoch smiled and nodded. “If it’s okay with your brother, it’s okay with me.”
Scott looked at Murdoch and then at his brother. “It’s okay with me, brother. But on one condition?”
“Sure. What’s that?”
“That you get better first.”
“Deal,” grinned Johnny.
“Well, how about we let Johnny get started on his part of the deal,” suggested Murdoch as he pulled the feather filled quilt up around Johnny’s shoulders. He could see that Johnny was struggling to stay awake and was in need of sleep. “You can talk about your plans later on.”
I hope that you enjoyed the story and thanks for reading.
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