Who Will Stop The Rain?
By Wendy K.
Scott pressed his forehead up against the cold stone slab as tears streamed down his face, blurring his vision. Without conscious thought, he let his finger trace the delicate etching on its flat surface. The deeply chiseled marks flowed together, forming words that he could not, would not, acknowledge or accept even thought he knew that they were true.
Almost two years had passed since they’d lost Murdoch. The vital, robust man had suddenly taken ill with tuberculosis, leaving his family shocked and stunned. For several months he had tried to prepare them for his passing and for the most part, he had. The event had been sad but everyone knew that it was inevitable. Sometimes people got sick and no one lived forever in this world.
It was what had happened the next year that struck a real blow to Scott’s already battered heart. Teresa, escorted by Johnny, had gone to visit a friend but they’d never reached their destination. When the empty buggy had shown back up at Lancer, Scott had taken some of the men and gone in search of them. He had been too late. The pair had been lying, like macabre rag dolls, in a ditch by the side of the road. They had both been shot. There wasn’t a single sign of who had done this terrible deed. Teresa was already dead and Johnny had died in Scott’s arms a few moments after being found. The blond had never expected something like this – could never have imagined it. Hearing the wet, rattling gasps as his brother slipped away, out of his grasp, had fractured him completely.
Scott shivered as the cool November breeze brushed by him, rustling the leaves of the trees overhead. His father, his brother, his sister - they were all in the ground save for him. There had been many times that the lone remaining Lancer had wanted to kill himself and leave behind all the heartache this world had given him….but every day he found a reason not to. Every day he found a reason to carry on.
There was nothing he missed more than the good natured teasing between him and Johnny or the sound of Teresa humming as she puttered in the kitchen. He missed the long talks about politics with Murdoch or the discussions about the latest book they were both reading. A year and more after their deaths, he was still grieving for them, the pain in his chest throbbing like a smoldering coal.
Scott slowly wiped at the streams of salt water flowing from the corners of his eyes. He had tried so hard to be strong, so very hard. But there was only so much he could do when every waking moment was filled with a burning sorrow and his every dream was filled with the horrific images of their deaths. For almost a month afterwards, he had wandered around the ranch in a complete daze, not really paying attention to the day-to-day workings and trusting that Cipriano could manage for the time being. The former Bostonian simply hadn’t been able to summon up the interest or the energy to deal with any of it himself.
His grandfather had implored him to return to Boston and there were days when Scott had given it serious thought. Days when he’d wanted nothing more than to flee the ranch, never to return. It held too many memories for him.
But then there was the other part of him that clung to this place like a child clinging to a security blanket. They hadn’t been here together very long but what they had forged between them had been strong…..and so he stayed.
Again Scott shivered. He didn’t feel very cold but that didn’t mean anything. Sometimes he forgot to pay attention to those kinds of details, the things that once gave him a rush of pleasure. His shoulders sagged forward as he tenderly brushed a fallen leaf off Johnny’s tombstone. A faint rustling shook the bushes as Jelly joined him in the tiny cemetery. A feeling of warmth settled on Scott’s shoulders as the handyman draped a blanket over his back. Scott yielded to the older man’s gentle tug, pulling him away from the stones.
Once inside the house, Scott tried to block the memories of that horrible day as they again rushed over him. Jelly deposited him, wet and shivering, in his favorite armchair by the fire and disappeared into the kitchen, calling over his shoulder something about hot coffee. Scott smiled fondly after him. The blond sometimes had his mind so wrapped up in the dead that he forgot to appreciate the living.
It was a strange balancing act, trying to walk that line somewhere between the two worlds. He thought about his straight razor laying upstairs on his dresser. How simple it would be to carve out his own heart with a real blade instead of the invisible dagger of grief that was even now slicing into him. He shook his head, trying to clear out the darkness. Though such thoughts were becoming less frequent, when they struck him they were as strong as the day Johnny and Teresa died.
Jelly came bustling out of the kitchen with a grin on his bearded face. He was carrying a tray loaded with a coffee pot, cups, two bowls of beef barley soup and a loaf of crusty bread. A faint smile flitted across Scott’s face as the handyman pressed a hot bowl into his hands and he murmured his thanks. It was with a shock that he realized that he no longer wished to die, but to live, and to make Lancer live. To let the ranch and all that his family had labored for fall into ruin was to do them a disservice.
There was so much he had yet to live for, spread out before him like a glorious sunrise. He was beginning to see hope on the coming horizon. It was faint and far away, but there was hope: hope that he could continue on.