(11th story in the 'Small Matters' series)
*'Small Matters' Header Design by Doreen Ingerfeld.
*Young Scott photo supplied by Deb Busse.
*Young Johnny photo supplied by Janet VonDeck.
New Fiction: Lancer AR
Note: Scott is thirteen, Johnny is ten. This story takes place soon after Johnny comes home to Lancer.
Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
Before you were here an hour,
I would die for you.
This is the miracle of Mother's Love.
Scott, tell me about your Mama? Johnny looked up at me, expectantly.
We had been sent, rather ordered, upstairs to our rooms.
It had been raining steadily for three days and we were getting fidgety and quarrelsome.
Pa, out of patience, finally exploded.
Both of you, upstairs to your rooms now! I'm tired of your constant squabbling and don't come down until I give you permission.
It wasn't long before Johnny crept into my room and sprawled across my bed on his stomach.
I rolled my eyes and sighed, but truth be told, I was glad to see him.
By now, I was bored with my own company.
When Johnny's question came, though, it took me by surprise.
I rounded on my little brother with such a fierce look, he reared back as if I'd slapped him.
I dropped my head, full of regret for what I'd done.
Johnny didn't know anything about my mother.
He couldn't know she'd died shortly after I was born.
How could I tell him what I didn't know and I knew very little about my mother.
Her name was Catherine Garrett Lancer, she was blonde, beautiful and I had inherited her eyes. These few facts were the sum total of my knowledge of her.
Grandfather told me about her while I was growing up in Boston and a portrait of her had hung in the parlor.
When I was feeling sad or lonely, I would sneak into the room and stand looking up at her image.
It made me feel better and less alone.
Often, I would imagine how it would have been had she lived had I known her.
When I was very young, I wished and hoped she'd come alive, step out of the painting, and come to me and hug me.
She never did, and now I knew it was a silly thing to wish for.
People told me that you can't miss what you never had, but even at a very young age, I felt that was a ridiculous thing to say.
After all, the people who told me this had mothers, and fathers, too.
I had neither in my life due to my mother's untimely death and my father's apparent disinterest in me.
I had Grandfather Garrett and I knew he loved me and I loved him, but I watched my friends with their families: There were mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers and I knew something was missing from my life.
I could stay busy during the day with school and homework, playing with my friends.
But, at night, when things were quiet and I felt so all alone with my thoughts, I would sometimes cry myself to sleep.
Johnny couldn't know that.
I never talked about my mother or my life in Boston...what could I say?
My father never talked to me about her and I was pretty sure he never talked to Johnny about his mother or mine.
I knew no more about Johnny's mother than he knew of mine.
I felt bad for snapping at Johnny.
I'm sorry, Johnny. I shouldn't have gotten so mad at you, but you surprised me. You see, my mother died not long after I was born.
Johnny looked at me with big blue eyes that began to fill with tears.
Oh, Scott-you never knew your mama? I'm so sorry!
I swallowed a lump in my throat.
Don't cry, Johnny, or you'll make me cry. Why don't you tell me about your mama instead?
Johnny sat up with a serious look on his face. Well, my mama's dead, too-but I got to keep her until I was nine.
What happened? I whispered. That is, if you want to talk about it.
It happened after my stepfather left. He was a good man, but Mama ended up running him off. Mama always had to have a man around so pretty soon Roberto moved in. He was mean to me and mean to Mama. One day he came after me and I knew he meant to kill me if he could catch hold of me. Mama stepped between us to stop him and he shoved her hard. She hit her head on the adobe wall and fell to the floor; there was so much blood! I begged her to get up, but she wouldn't. I knew Roberto would kill me so I wouldn't tell anyone what he did. We both ran for his gun and I got to it first. I pointed it at him, squeezed my eyes shut, and shot him in the chest; I watched him fall to the floor. I kissed Mama good-bye, took the gun and ran. I knew if they caught me, they would put me in the Catholic orphanage. I lived on the streets and when I could, I went back and visited her grave.
By now, Johnny was sobbing aloud and I felt the tears roll down my face.
How my little brother had suffered.
It was sad that my mother had died right after I was born, but I never had to see her killed in front of me.
Johnny continued to sob.
I miss her so much, Scott! Most times she was good to me. I loved her, and I know she loved me!
I didn't know what to say to comfort my brother. He was just a kid and I wasn't much older.
Turning away to gather my thoughts, I noticed that Johnny had left my bedroom door ajar.
I crossed the room to close it so that Pa wouldn't hear Johnny's cries and come to investigate.
As I was closing the door, I heard heavy footsteps pounding up the stairs and Pa burst into my room.
I quickly turned my back to him so he couldn't see my tears. I was thirteen, almost a man.
Johnny was only ten so it was all right for him to cry, but not me.
Only children cry and I needed to set an example for my little brother.
Pa reached my bed in two strides and took Johnny by the shoulders.
Peering at Johnny's tear-streaked face, he asked, What is it, Johnny? What's wrong?
Johnny was crying so hard, Pa couldn't understand him.
Angry, he took me by my shoulders and spun me around to face him.
Scott Garrett Lancer...have you been fighting with your brother? Didn't I tell...
He broke off when he saw my tear-stained face.
Embarrassed to be caught crying, too, I broke free of his grasp and turned away.
It was quiet, except for the sound of Johnny's sobs.
I don't think Pa knew what to do, what to say.
Pa? Why don't you ever talk about our mamas? Didn't you like 'em? quavered Johnny.
Pa gasped, stood frozen for a moment and then I heard him cross over to my bed and sit down.
He must have been comforting Johnny because my brother's sobs grew quieter. Pa was whispering something, but I couldn't catch what he was saying.
Pa drew in a deep breath and called to me, patting the spot beside him.
He was silent for a long while and then he sighed. He tried to look into my eyes, but I turned away.
Scott, I'm sorry for blaming you unjustly. I heard Johnny crying and jumped to conclusions. Please, son, come over here and sit beside me. I'd like to speak to both of you. You must have questions, too.
I rubbed at my eyes, furiously, and sniffled.
After I was sure that I composed myself, I turned to join Pa and Johnny on the bed.
Johnny, I loved your mother and I loved Scott's mother, too. I don't talk about either of them because it still makes me sad. I also wasn't sure if either of you wanted to talk about them.
Pa paused for a second, then continued on.
Johnny, except for the Lancer blue eyes, you look just like your mother. When I met her, it was a sad time in my life. I had gone to Boston to bring Scott home and had to return without him. Your mother was like a breath of fresh air. She loved to dance, sing and laugh. She made me happy again.
He stopped a moment and looked at Johnny who was staring at Pa, unblinkingly.
I met your mother in Mexico. She was beautiful, with long black hair that hung past her waist. I didn't think I was ready to love again, but there was a hole in my heart...a hole that was there with the loss of my wife and child.
Pa looked at me again and this time I looked back, holding my breath.
Pa then turned back to Johnny and continued.
I was lonely and sad and your mother took away the pain. I, we....decided to get married not long after we met and I brought her home to Lancer.
I couldn't help but notice that Pa had paused in the middle of telling his story as if he wasn't sure how much to share with the both of us.
Then the most wonderful thing happened, your Mama told me she was expecting a baby and I was so excited I would get another chance to be a father!
Johnny was searching Pa's face and I'd never seen him sit so still or stay so quiet.
Our Christmas present came early that year....
What was it? breathed Johnny.
I snorted, You silly!
Scott, warned Pa, but he didn't really seem to be mad.
Your brother's right; you were our early Christmas present. A tiny red bundle with lots of black curls, shining blue eyes, and a pair of lungs that wouldn't quit!
Johnny and I both laughed at that, despite the tears that we'd shed earlier.
I counted every tiny toe and every tiny finger...ten of each! You were perfect, from the top of your head to the tips of your toes! I was so proud, I had another boy and a chance at something that I never got with Scott.
I was silent. Johnny stole a look over at me, then looked back at Pa.
Did Mama love me? he asked shyly.
Pa looked surprised.
Of course, she did! She and I were both over the moon with you and we fought over holding you. You were such a cute baby, everybody loved you. Oh, but you were a handful! I don't think you ever walked...you went from crawling to running and led your Mama and me a merry chase!
Was I a good baby? asked Johnny, hopefully.
Pa looked at him, then laughed.
Yes, most of the time, you were good as gold and a very sunny child. But, if you were unhappy, everyone knew about it!
Pa chuckled, ruefully.
You have your mother's temper, but I know you're working on that.
Johnny smiled slightly, then looked hard at Pa.
Pa, do you hate my mama for what she did?
No, Johnny, I could never hate her. I hated what she did, but I never hated her or stopped loving her.
Johnny nodded. What about Scott's mama?
Pa then turned to me.
I'll tell you about her. First though, Scott, please look at me.
When I couldn't, he took my chin in his hand and made me look into his eyes.
Scott, never be ashamed of your tears. They're not a sign of weakness. I've cried, you know and I'm not ashamed of it. Look at me, do you think me weak?
Johnny and I both gaped at him, our father had cried?
He was so big and strong, we thought he was invincible.
I can tell you about a couple of times I cried. Scott, I cried when your mother died and your grandfather whisked you away to Boston before I could even lay eyes on you, my firstborn son.
He turned back to Johnny.
Johnny, I cried when your mother took you away in the middle of the night and I didn't know where you were or if you were being cared for.
Pa continued on.
And, I cried tears of happiness when you both came home although neither of you knew about it.
Pa then turned back to me.
Scott, your mother was my first love. She was beautiful, too, but the complete opposite of Johnny's mother in looks and temperament. Everyone loved her; she was kind-hearted and courageous.
Now both Johnny and I couldn't tear our eyes away from Pa.
Scott, the biggest disappointment in my life was not having with you what I had with Johnny. You were taken from me before I could even set eyes on you. I never got to count your little toes and fingers and I vowed to do everything with Johnny that I'd never gotten the chance to do with you.
Pa looked down for a bit, then lifted his head to look at me again.
Scott, don't ever think that Johnny was a replacement for you. I was delighted with him, but I never forgot my first baby in Boston. After Johnny was born, I wanted you more than ever, if that was possible. Of course, I tried to bring you home when you were five and I've already told you what happened.
Pa shook his head and smiled at me.
When you showed up at my doorstep in the middle of the night and I found out how you got to Lancer on your own, I was truly terrified and torn between hugging you to death and wanting to paddle your skinny little backside!
I looked at him and felt my face grow warm while Johnny snickered.
Never, never try a thing like that again, Scott! I know I shouldn't tell you this but if you hadn't, you would probably still be in Boston because you did what I never could have. Your brought yourself to Lancer, then Johnny followed a few months later.
Pa looked at the both of us for a long minute, then said, I can't get over how much the both of you look like your mothers.
He thought a minute, Wait, I have something to show you both.
Pulling a watch from his pocket, he opened it to reveal two portraits.
One I recognized as my mother, blond and beautiful.
The other was of a pretty, dark-eyed, dark-haired lady who looked like Johnny.
Leaning over, I asked. Is that Johnny's mother? Johnny, she was beautiful! You look like her!
Johnny leaned over to look closer.
Ooh, Scott...your mama was real pretty. You look like her, too!
Pa smiled at the both of us, put his arms around our shoulders, and gave us an affectionate squeeze.
I want both of you boys to know that I truly loved your mothers, both your mothers. They gave me the two most precious things in my life.
He turned to Johnny and dropped a kiss on top of his head.
Turning to me, he did the same thing.
I'm usually embarrassed when Pa kisses me, but this time I didn't mind.
He cleared his throat.
We sat quietly for a short while, just the three of us, then Pa broke the spell.
Boys, I know I haven't told you everything you want and need to know about your mothers, but I promise to soon. Right now, it's dinnertime and whatever Mia is cooking, it smells delicious. I'm hungry; what about you two?
Pa stretched, then gave us both a light slap on our knees.
We stood up and Pa draped his arms over both of our shoulders as he escorted us downstairs.
Just before we left my room, I turned to look out the window. The rain had finally stopped, the sun had come out, and in the distance I glimpsed a rainbow.
I thought to myself, 'There's nothing like a mother's love, but a father's love is a pretty good thing, too.'
Note: This story takes place after Patience Is A Virtue (Until It Wears Thin)
Note: Scott learns all about his mother, Catherine, in the story My Wandering Boy.
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