didn't know how long he had been there. He held his head in his hands and
listened to the sound of Theresa moving around the room.
the swishing of her skirt stopped and she spoke to him. " Do you think
he'll be back?"
couldn't respond. He didn't even know whether she expected him to respond. All
he knew for certain at that moment was that his father was dead and his brother
had ridden away.
father lay at the undertakers in town, awaiting his instructions. He was the
elder son, the only one who could make the decision of what to do next.
lifting his head from his hands he shook it. Theresa moved away, closing the
door behind her. He knew then that he should have gone after her, that she
needed to be held, that he needed to hold her. At the moment it was as much as
he could do to stop himself being violently sick again.
replayed the last day in his mind over again. Trying to tell himself there was
no point. It didn't resolve anything, nothing changed. Murdoch was still dead,
and he was still there, feeling more alone than ever.
fought the nausea awhile longer, pressing his hand against his throat to try and
keep the retching at bay. He passed his hands across his face, placed them
firmly onto his knees and finally found the strength to move. He stood and
walked across to his father's old desk. Sitting down he surveyed the piles of
paper, the notes, bills, all those items he would have to familiarise himself
with in the next few days. It didn't seem possible that he had been placed in
such a position. He sat and strained to hear what Murdoch might say to him, what
would he want him to do now? Sometimes thinking you can hear someone is as good
as them being there, but just now there were too many interferences and he
didn't think what he could hear now was what Murdoch truly wanted.
picked up a book, it was one Murdoch had been reading, and finding comfort in.
Maybe, just maybe if he read it now he could find that same warmth.
was late when Johnny finally came in through the door. Scott could tell
immediately that his younger brother was the worse for drink. The clumsy way his
hand wrestled with the door handle, the way he reached down to try and remove
glad you made it back. We were getting worried." Scott put the book down.
He rose and moved toward the smaller man.
just needed some time." Johnny eyed his elder brother. So composed, so
relaxed. He envied him his ease and his lack of emotion. His own emotions were
on the surface and there was little he could do, or was trying to do, to contain
them. He had been unable to stop bloodshed today, the infamous gunslinger had
not saved his father and now he wished he was dead, he wanted it to be him lying
in that undertakers on the table. It should have been him, at least then he
wouldn’t have to fight this pain. This feeling of senseless loss.
sank down into the soft leather sofa. His legs giving way and his head spinning
from the alcohol. He tried to fight the dizziness and focus on his brother. When
he finally spoke his voice little more than a whisper." Scott I don't know
what to do."
moved across to the sofa and sat down on the arm. He lay his hand on Johnny's
shoulder and patted it gently. " It will be alright. Given time we'll all
be alright. It isn't your fault Johnny, there was nothing you could have done to
kept his hand there. Johnny stiffened momentarily and then his whole body
sagged. He felt Scott’s arms embrace him and though he wanted to break free
there was no fight left. Scott breathed in and caught the smell of smoke,
alcohol and sweat. He increased the hold he had on his brother, listening to the
hard rasping breaths. Would Johnny
ever forgive himself for not being there?
nothing we can do tonight. In the morning we’ll go into town, sort things out
for.. for Murdoch, then we’ll ride after them.”
broke free from Scott and raised himself up from the sofa. They were barely
inches apart and the whisky on Johnny’s breath caught Scott off guard.
“We’re wasting valuable time Boston.“ Johnny sank down onto his
knees. His voice barely audible, “If
I hadn’t gone back to pick up candy, can you believe that’s what I was
doing, whilst my old man was being gunned down, I was buying candy. I should
have been there, I could’a stopped it. But I will get them. I will have my
looked down at the man he knew as a fighter, a gunhawk who never took life
seriously for long, no matter what it had thrown at him. The toughness had gone
to be replaced by a little boy who had lost everything. His hope, his future and
his guidance - all blown away in less than a minute. A life time of wanting and
needing to be loved had dissipated with the smoking of a gun. He knelt down next
to Johnny and embraced him.
opened the bedroom door. Scott was lying outstretched on the bed. He was still
fully clothed, apart from his boots. His head rested on his arms and his face
was tuned up towards the light. Curled up next to him was Johnny. He was also
fully dressed, right down to his spurs. Unlike Scott he was breathing heavily,
his knees curled up in front of him, his fists clenched and his breathing hard
and fast. He’d had just enough to drink, just enough to deaden his senses.
Theresa approached the bed. Scott turned slightly as she approached.
don’t want to be alone.” She faltered for a moment. Scott understood
straight away. He patted the space on the bed next to him and Theresa eased
herself alongside of him. She lay on her side. Aware of Scott’s stillness and
Johnny’s breathing. “ Do you think he’ll stay.”
think he’ll think he owes Murdoch that much. He also loves this place far more
than he’ll ever admit.”
won’t ever leave will you Scott.” He
shook his head, and then spoke for her benefit. “ No, I won’t leave you.”
He wrapped a free arm around her body, feeling the strain in her body and
holding her slender waist. The other arm he placed around Johnny’s shoulder.
He needed to feel them there. To know that they were all safe.
wrestled to sleep but when he finally opened his eyes daylight was
filtering into the room. His body
felt numb and he tried to free himself but to no avail. To one side he felt the
light pressure of Theresa, pressing on him like a fragile doll. The rest of his
body was stiff and heavy and he realised it
was due to the dead weight of his brother, whose body now lay entwined with his
own. Johnny’s head was on his chest, his arm on his stomach and a leg was
entwined with his own. Scott reached out and touched his brother’s lank dark
hair that fell over his collar. He caught the ends of the hair and twisted and
curled them between his fingers, something he would never dared do if his
brother had been awake. The thought of Johnny Madrid Lancer letting a grown man
stroke his hair in such a way amused Scott. Johnny sighed in his sleep and
shifted his body weight further onto Scott. Scott continued to play with the
dark silky hair.
He thought about what the day was going to bring them. The arrangements he was going to have to make and how they were going to live their lives, The three of them, four if you counted Jelly. How were they going to live their lives without Murdoch to guide them and keep them all in check. How could they live without knowing they had done what was right. Because until they had satisfied that need there was no way of moving on. He whispered the words he knew he’d heard Johnny utter the night before and knew he was right. “Vengeance.”