Questions To Ponder by Laraine

Word Count 5,155

(a sequel (maybe) to “The Unanswered Question”)

Six months after Scott and Johnny come home; three years after the events in “The Unanswered Question.” If this story sounds familiar, well, maybe it is.  After all, Murdoch and Johnny spent the night together trailside three years ago.  
Or did they?



As Murdoch Lancer and his son, Johnny, rode home after a successful cattle buying trip to Reno, the elder Lancer secretly reminisced about the trips of previous years.  The trips  had become annual events for the Lancer patriarch, and were held at various cities in the mountainous west.  He remembered how he enjoyed them in past years with his best friend and ranch foreman, Paul O’Brien, at his side.  It was a time of fun and camaraderie, mixed in with business, for the hands that accompanied the owner and foreman on the trip.

The last time Murdoch had made the trip was three years before, in October of 1866, when it was held in Carson City.  He remembered that he rode back alone; he seemed to recall that Paul was anxious to get home to his daughter, Teresa, who was at the age when Paul didn’t want to be away from her any longer than necessary. So Murdoch let him ride on ahead with the hands.  He recalled, too, on that particular trip, that he truly enjoyed the ride home.  Alone.  It gave him time to think about things, and to make some important decisions regarding his sons.  Especially his youngest.

Murdoch hadn’t made the trip in 1867; he couldn’t remember why, though.  And last year, in 1868, his 100,000 acre ranch, as well as the other ranches in the area and the entire town of Morro Coyo, was being terrorized by land pirates led by Day Pardee.  There was no way Murdoch Lancer was going to leave his ranch at that dangerous time.  And there was no way he could know that a year later,  O’Brien would be dead, murdered at the hands of Pardee and his gang.   Or that he would have his two sons back with him.  Or that this year, he would be making this trip with his youngest son.  His lost boy that he finally found.  His Johnny.


When Murdoch decided to go on the trip, his first inclination was to take his oldest son, Scott, with him. Scott’s business savvy and knowledge of contracts would be instrumental in the purchases; besides, it would be a good experience for Scott.  Murdoch was pleased at the way Scott was adapting  to the “western” way of life, and he thought that a trip such as this would add to his understanding of the “ways of the wild,” as Scott jokingly referred to life out west.

But it was Scott who suggested that Murdoch take his youngest son along.  Scott explained to his father it would be a learning experience for Johnny; would teach him about contracts and business deals.  But most important, as Murdoch’s wise, older son advised, it would give father and youngest son a chance to be together.  To work together on the trail.  And, on the way back, would give them time to be alone.  To talk.  To get to know one another.  At least, that was Scott’s reasoning.

Murdoch agreed, and decided to take Johnny along.  He knew with Johnny’s experience on the trail he would be a great help to him, especially now that his back and leg gave him problems after being shot by Pardee the year before.  And he secretly conceded that he needed some time alone with Johnny.

For reasons that were unclear to Murdoch, he just couldn’t seem to talk to Johnny.  The relationship he wanted so desperately with his youngest son seemed impossible, due to the fact that both shared the same personality traits:  Stubbornness.  Pride.  And vulnerability.  Neither wanted to hurt the other; nor did they want to be hurt themselves.  But it seemed no matter what was said or done, even in a non-threatening manner, the gruffness of Murdoch Lancer would rub the vulnerability of Johnny Lancer the wrong way.

And Murdoch was secretly saddened when he noticed the bond that Johnny seemed to form with others.  Except  his relationship with Scott; Murdoch was glad they were becoming close.   And he wanted Johnny to have a good relationship with Teresa as well.  But saddened as to his relationship with outsiders.  Johnny seemed to fit in and be accepted by everybody: the household staff, the ranch hands, Sam Jenkins, even Sheriff Val Crawford.  But when it came to Murdoch Lancer, his own father, Johnny Lancer was nervous, easily hurt, and angered.  And Murdoch realized that something needed to be done to help their relationship.  Or it would never work.


Murdoch and Johnny led the way, and the journey to Reno was enjoyed by them and the 10 ranch hands that accompanied them.  The ranch hands, as in the past, would travel back to Lancer with the purchased cattle, while Murdoch and  Johnny would stay behind a few days to tighten up loose ends.

The night time campsites on the way were filled with lots of joking, laughing, and storytelling by the hands.  Murdoch sat back as Johnny and the hands told tall tales, all trying to outdo the other.  Let this time be for the young people, he smiled.

When it was Johnny’s turn, Murdoch couldn’t help but listen.  His son spoke quietly, so Murdoch couldn’t hear everything.  But it was something about losing a jacket and leaving Mexico in a hurry.  Whatever it was, it had the hands howling with laughter.

As Murdoch placed his hat over his eyes and began to drift off to sleep, he heard Johnny lay down on his bed roll next to him.  “Good night, Son.”

“Thought you were asleep, Old Man,” Johnny responded, with affection.

“How can anyone sleep with you kids making so much noise?” Murdoch laughed.

“Good night, Murdoch,” Johnny teased.  And Murdoch secretly watched as his son quickly fell asleep.


The men continued their journey to Reno and the cattle were purchased.  To Murdoch’s surprise, Johnny showed quite an interest in the negotiation process.  He asked a lot of good questions, and proved quite instrumental in the purchase of some excellent cattle for the Lancer ranch.  After the cattle were purchased, Murdoch and Johnny talked with some horse owners about possible future purchases for the ranch.

On the return trip, it was just Murdoch and Johnny, and for the next three nights, they stayed in hotels in the pleasant little towns that were on their way.  Murdoch had admitted to his son that his back was bothering him, and he really didn’t want to sleep ‘trailside’ any more than necessary.

“Don’t blame you,” Johnny had told him.  “The last few months living at Lancer have spoiled me, too.”

On the next to the last day of their journey, Murdoch informed Johnny of their travel plans.  “We’ll stay in Forest Grove tonight.  It’s a nice little town, good hotel and I know of a place that serves excellent Mexican food.  We should be home by early tomorrow evening.”

“I’m ready to get home,” Johnny said.  “And I could use some tequila about now, anyway,” he laughed.

It was early afternoon and the two Lancers were making good time.  They noticed a rider coming toward them, and were a bit surprised when he sought them out.

“Howdy,” the rider greeted.

“Good afternoon,” Murdoch responded.  Johnny nodded, always on guard.

“You two headed for Forest Grove?”

“Yes, we are,” Murdoch informed.

The rider gave a disapproving look.  “Well, I’d think twice about goin’ there.  Outbreak of measles hit the town, and the doctor and sheriff are trying to keep all outsiders out of the town the next few weeks.  Unless you got any business there, I suggest you stay as far away from town as possible.  Less’n you had the measles before, probably won’t affect you, but still, we’re trying to keep the town quarantined.”

Murdoch frowned.  “Any serious illnesses, or deaths?” he questioned.

“No, and we aim to keep it that way,” the rider answered.

“Thanks for the information.  We’re headed home, to Morro Coyo.  Guess we’ll have to take a detour,” Murdoch informed the rider.

The rider tipped his hat.  “If you run into anyone headed that way, will you let them know?” he asked.

“Certainly,” Murdoch replied.  And the rider was off.

Johnny whistled.  “Murdoch, I sure don’t want to go anywhere near that place.  Can’t be too careful you know.”

“Well, I’ve had the measles,” Murdoch stated.  Then a thought hit him, something he didn’t know about his own son.  “You ever had the measles, Johnny?”


Johnny lowered his head.  “I. . .I don’t know,” he said softly.  “I was sick so much as a kid, always had stomach trouble or something.  I do remember once I had some kind of rash and I was really sick, and mama was beside herself.  Some old senora had some home remedy she used on me and I got better.  But, I don’t know what I had,” he said, sounding regretful.

Murdoch cleared a lump from this throat.  “Well, we’ll stay clear of  Forest Grove, can’t risk your health.  If we detour south, there’s some little towns along the way.  We shouldn’t be too far off track, we’ll get back to Lancer after midnight tomorrow, instead of early evening.”

“Sounds all right to me,” Johnny said at his father’s plan.

So they made a slight detour south, but night began to approach quickly and the two men  realized they would have to spend the night trailside.  But neither seemed to mind.  And Murdoch secretly realized this would be the perfect opportunity to spend with his son.


They came upon a perfect place for their camp.  Nestled in the mountains was a clearing with a stand of trees, a stream, and a view of the setting sun that was absolutely breathtaking.

“Next to Lancer, this is about the prettiest place I’ve ever seen,” Johnny commented.

Father and son prepared their campfire for the night.  Johnny collected some wood and started the fire.  Murdoch opened his saddlebags and brought out an array of supplies, from cooking utensils to canned goods; beef jerky; and even a little whiskey, for medicinal purposes, he told his son.  For the aches and pains one gets from riding a long distance.

Johnny watched, incredulously, as his father removed the items from his bags.  “Boy Old Man,” Johnny whistled, “I think you have everything but the kitchen sink with you.  One thing for sure, we won’t starve,” he said, laughing the whole time.

Murdoch pretended not to hear, and in a teasing manner, told his son, “Well, Son, experience has taught me to always travel well prepared.”

Johnny’s ears perked up when he heard those particular words come from his father.  It seemed that somewhere, sometime, in a situation similar to this, he had heard those very words being told to him.  His face apparently showed his bewilderment, because Murdoch looked at him and asked,  “You all right, Son?”

Johnny shook himself out of his reverie.  “Yeah.  So, when do we eat?” the thought forgotten.


The evening spent at the campfire had been enjoyable for Murdoch and Johnny.  Murdoch relayed to his son some of the escapades of past trips that he and Paul had gotten into.  Johnny was very amused; he didn’t think his father had ever done anything mischievous.  And they talked about Paul.  Murdoch informed Johnny that Paul was his godfather, and that if he were alive, he would be almost as happy as Murdoch to have his sons back with him.  They talked about Teresa.  About what a special young woman she was.  And they talked about Scott.  Johnny said he was the luckiest man in the whole world to have Scott for a brother.  And if he could choose anybody in the world for his brother, he would choose Scott.

Murdoch had hoped that during the evening by the fire, Johnny would open up.  Just a little.  And maybe relay a story of his past to his father.  A happy childhood story.  But Murdoch surmised that maybe, Johnny didn’t have any happy stories to tell.


It was decided that Johnny would take the first watch, for three hours.  He wrapped his jacket around him, and brought his knees up to his chest; his gun in his right hand, cocked and ready to shoot.  He shivered slightly, and Murdoch thought the sight looked somewhat familiar.  He didn’t know why, though.  In the six months his sons had been home, he had never seen Johnny sitting like that.   Still, though, the sight seemed familiar. . . . .

“Expecting company, Johnny?” Murdoch asked wryly.

“Why?” Johnny asked.

“Well, you look like you’re poised and ready for an army to come after us,” Murdoch teased.

Johnny was very serious.  “Well, ya just never know, Murdoch.  ‘Sides, it’s not people I’m so afraid of.  It’s crawly things, like snakes.  And rats.  Rats just scare the hell out of me.”

A jolt went through Murdoch at his son’s words.  Why did that sound so familiar, coming from his son?  He didn’t think Johnny had a fear of anything; and something like that just wouldn’t come up in any conversations they had.  But still, those words, and the tone of Johnny’s voice, sounded so. . . familiar.  Somewhere along the line, in the past six months, Johnny must of relayed those fears to Murdoch.  But he couldn’t remember when. . . .

As Johnny sat with his knees to his chest and shivered, he commented, “You know, Murdoch, I’m not used to this mountain air.  I’m used to the warm, gentle breezes of the border.”

“Well, do you want my blanket?  I’m not cold,” Murdoch offered.

“No, I’m okay.  At least I have a jacket.  I remember, this one time, I was cold, and I didn’t have my jacket.  I had to leave it behind.  Pissed me off, too, it was my favorite jacket.”

“What happened to it?” Murdoch asked as he gathered  more wood for the fire.

“Well. . . . . .I had to make a quick escape.  I was with somebody I shouldn’t of been with, and her husband, well, he came looking for me. . . . .” Johnny said, his voice trailing off.

Murdoch gave him a disapproving look.

“Hell, Murdoch, I didn’t know she was hitched.  She didn’t tell me.  And I don’t go around asking the ladies I’m with if they’re married,” Johnny said, defending his actions of years ago.

Murdoch raised a brow, but after a few seconds, couldn’t help but laugh.  “Left your jacket behind, huh?”

“Yeah.  And my saddlebags and supplies.  Left with just the clothes on my back,” Johnny answered, a bit perturbed.

As Murdoch put more wood on the fire, a feeling of ‘déjà vu’ came over him.  That story sure sounds like I’ve heard it before.  But I would of remembered if he told me that.  Must have been the story I half-heard him telling the guys the other night, he surmised.

Murdoch walked over to his horse and took out a knife and a block of wood.  “What’s that for, Murdoch?”  Johnny questioned.

“I’ve found through the years that whittling helps me stay awake during a night time watch.  Thought I’d make something when it’s my shift.  Anything you’d like me to make for you, Johnny?”

Johnny felt a gnawing in his stomach he couldn’t explain.  He didn’t know his father liked to whittle.  But yet, somehow he did know.  They must of talked about it at one time.  Maybe when I was shot, Murdoch was whittling while he sat with me, Johnny surmised.

“Johnny?  You with me, Boy?”

Johnny suddenly looked up, annoyed, and asked a bit harshly, “Why did you call me Boy?”

Murdoch was a bit taken aback.  “I don’t know.  I wanted to get your attention, I guess.  Don’t get mouthy with me, John,” he scolded.

“Sorry Murdoch,” Johnny mumbled.  “I just don’t like to be called that.  Makes me feel like I’m a little kid or something.  ‘Sides, you only called me that once, that first day, when the field was burning.  I didn’t like it then, either.”

Murdoch was still a bit taken aback by his son’s sudden outburst.  “Well, I didn’t mean anything by it.  I’ll try to remember that it annoys you to be called that.  Now I’m gonna get some rest.  Three hours will be here mighty fast.  There’s plenty of coffee to keep you going.”

Johnny felt stupid for his outburst.  They had been getting along so well, he didn’t want this to ruin it.  “I’m really sorry.  I don’t know why I acted like that.”  Johnny’s voice was tinged with regret.

“It’s all right, Johnny.  It’s been a long trip.  We’re both tired.  No further apology needed,” Murdoch advised.

Johnny realized that he just apologized to his old man.  And he accepted it.  Sure is a good feeling to be able to do that, Johnny thought.

Murdoch put his hat over his face and folded his arms over his chest.  He wondered why his son had gotten so ticked over the reference to Boy.  Oh, well, it was over.  Just forget it, Murdoch, he said to himself, as he drifted off to sleep.

Johnny sat and stared at the fire.  What’s your problem, Madrid? he chided himself.  But he was intrigued.  Intrigued at the situation.  He had never been alone with Murdoch for any length of time before, let alone at a campfire, so why did he have this feeling that this wasn’t the first time they’d done this?

Johnny let his father sleep an extra hour, then awakened him.  With hot coffee in hand, Johnny teased.   “Wake up, Murdoch L.  Your turn to watch my butt.”

Murdoch sat up and took the coffee from Johnny, the earlier harsh words forgotten.  “Thank you.  Quiet?”

“Yeah.  How’s the coffee?” he asked his father.

“Good.  Nice and hot,” Murdoch replied.

“Yeah,” Johnny responded, as he took a sip from his cup.  “It feels good on my throat.  It’s been a bit scratchy lately.”

Murdoch just stared at his son.  “What did you say?”

“Said my throat’s been scratchy lately.  Now don’t start to worry, I ain’t getting’ sick or nothin,” Johnny assured.

Murdoch could of swore he heard those words from Johnny.  But when?  Johnny hadn’t been sick in the past six months.  Except when he was shot by Pardee.  But that wasn’t the same as a cold or sore throat.

Murdoch got comfortable by the fire and prepared for his watch, which would last about 2 1/2 hours.  He picked up the block of wood and the knife.  “You never did tell me if you wanted me to make you anything, Johnny,” Murdoch said.

“Oh.  What about a horse?”

“That might be a little hard.  And this is a small piece of wood.”

Murdoch smiled as Johnny’s face showed serious consideration as to what he wanted.  “Well, can you do my initials?  J L?  Then I can paint them and put them on my dresser.  Y’all are always telling me my room needs some personality,” Johnny groaned.

“I think that can be arranged,” Murdoch assured.

Johnny lay down on his bedroll and brought his jacket around him.  “I’m cold,” he complained.

“Well here, take my blanket,” Murdoch offered.

“But what about you?  Won’t you be cold?”  Johnny asked.

“No, I’ll stay close to the fire.  I’ve got my jacket.  And I’ll keep busy making your initials,” Murdoch answered.

Murdoch looked at Johnny.  Johnny looked at Murdoch.  And both thought the same thing.  “We’ve. . .. .never had this conversation before, have we Murdoch?” Johnny asked, a little uneasy.

Murdoch had the same feeling, but dismissed it.  “Not that I can remember.  Although, when you had a fever after being shot and I sat with you, you complained about being cold.  And I put some blankets on you.  Maybe you remember that a little?” Murdoch reasoned.

“Yeah, that must be it,” Johnny said, unconvinced.

A wave of uneasiness overtook father and son.  But Johnny quickly laughed it off.  “Well, I’m gonna get some shut eye.  Keep a good watch.  Don’t want someone cuttin’ my head off while I’m sleepin,” he laughed.  Then cheerfully added, “Good night, Murdoch.”

It took a few seconds for Murdoch to mumble “Good night,” as the last words his son jokingly said reeled through his brain.

He’s said that to me before.  I know he has.  That’s just like him, his sense of humor,  Murdoch realized.  But when in the world would a conversation like that have come up? he wondered.


Murdoch kept busy whittling Johnny’s J and L.  He thought they would look really nice after his son painted them.

Because of his aching back, Murdoch moved around a lot.  He checked the horses, got coffee, kept the fire going.  And when he was finally still he watched his son sleep.  And some instinct inside him made him slowly make his way to Johnny, and pull the covers up over his shoulders.  He took his right arm, which was somehow wrapped around Johnny’s head and looked very uncomfortable, and brought it down and placed it under the blanket.  And he realized how young Johnny really looked, and studied his handsome face, his long eyelashes.  And thought how much he really did look like Maria.  The exquisite Maria. . . . . .

As Johnny began to stir, Murdoch backed away.  I’ve done this before.  I know I have, the old man thought.  Well of course you have, he chided himself.  Johnny was flat on his back unconscious for a week after he was shot.   You took care of him.  Of course you placed blankets on him, and made him comfortable.  But a voice kept telling him that wasn’t it.  It wasn’t in Johnny’s room at Lancer.  It was by a fire.  And he wasn’t sure it was even his son.

A night time watch at a campfire gives a man a lot of time to think.   Murdoch thought about the many times he had traveled, and his mind wandered back to the last cattle buying trip he made.  Was it really three years ago?  He remembered his horse was slightly injured, and he couldn’t make it to his destination.  Forest Grove.  Why is it I can never make it to that town? he wondered. 

Then he remembered the young man who allowed him to share his camp.  And the unexplained bond that was formed between the two of them.   Murdoch remembered how he thought about the young man in the following months; wondered if he was all right, if he ever found who, or what, he was looking for.  And the thought that crossed his mind more than once:  if the young stranger was his lost son.  His Johnny.

He watched his son sleep, and remembered the young stranger that he watched sleep that night.  But he rationalized they weren’t the same person.  True, they would be about the same age, but that young boy was thin, with shoulder length hair and a stubbly beard.  And he needed a bath.


But Johnny was well-groomed.  And although not as tall as he or Scott, Johnny was well-built, muscular.  Can someone so young change that much in three years? Murdoch wondered.

But he put that thought aside.  The young man was just a distant memory now; besides, he had one of the two young men he yearned for sleeping in front of him.  Still, though, the young man had been very nice, and he hoped that wherever he was, he was all right. . . .


Johnny slept, but not soundly.  His old man’s wanderings kept him awake.  I wish he’d sit down and make my J and L.  He’s buggin’ me with his up and down, up and down. . . Johnny silently groaned.  But then he remembered Murdoch’s back had been giving him a lot of trouble this trip, and he regretted his thoughts.  Think I’ll rub down his back when we get back home.  Pay him back for how he rubbed my back after I was shot, he warmly thought.

As the warmth of his father’s blanket engulfed him, Johnny remembered the times he had spent at campfires.  Alone.  And scared.  And how he wished he had a home, a family; hell, a warm bed, to call his own.  But he had that now.  He thought about how sometimes he had to pinch himself so he would know it was real.  And how sometimes he would awaken, at night, scared and cold, thinking he was at some god-for-saken campfire, being attacked by animals, or people.  Or his worst fear. . . .rats.  But then he would come to his senses, and remember where he was.  In his house.  In his room.  In his bed.  At Lancer.  And he would cuddle up in the warm blankets and fall back to sleep, secure in the thought he was safe for another night, anyway.

As he finally drifted toward sleep, Johnny felt his father’s presence beside him, gently bringing the covers up around him and moving his arm to a more comfortable position.  He sighed slightly, and relished in the warmth he felt from his father’s actions.  And he suddenly realized that he’d felt like this before.  That he was safe and warm as he felt his father by him.

Well, of course you have, Johnny Boy, he thought to himself.  Murdoch took care of you when you were practically dead after being shot by Pardee.  And you know he still sneaks in your room at night  and covers you up, he chuckled to himself.

But still, Johnny realized that wasn’t it.  He had felt like this before, at a campfire.  A long time ago.

As Johnny lay in the peaceful world between wakefulness and sleep, he remembered the nice man he let share his campfire, a long time ago.  Who made him feel safe.  And warm.

The man’s voice suddenly came back to Johnny’s memory.  It was deep, and gruff, but soothing when he wanted it to be.  And the man’s face.  Old, probably older then the man actually was.  Care worn, Johnny thought.  Probably sad because he said he had a son that died at an early age, Johnny suddenly remembered.

Johnny was jolted out of his sleep when a thought occurred to him. Was that man my. . .father? Was that man Murdoch?  He remembered the impression the man had left on him; how he thought about him for a long time after the encounter. He remembered how he wanted to go home with him.  But he didn’t.  Because he was afraid of caring for him, and afraid of losing someone he cared about.

But then the revolution and his capture by the Rurales came, and he forgot about everything, except how much he didn’t want to die.. . . . .


Murdoch saw Johnny stirring and suddenly come awake, and ran to his side.  Johnny began to fight him, but Murdoch calmed him down with his soothing voice.  When Johnny’s eyes opened, blue eyes met blue eyes.  And a strange feeling overtook both Murdoch and Johnny as they felt like they had done this before.  But not as father and son.  But when?

“Are you all right, Son?” Murdoch asked, a little concerned.

“Yeah, I think so, Murdoch,” Johnny responded, a little confused.

“Here.  Have some coffee.  Warm you up a bit,” Murdoch spoiled, just a little.  “Hope you weren’t having a bad dream?” Murdoch asked.

“No,” Johnny answered slowly, as he caressed the hot cup of coffee and reveled in its warmth.  “Just remembered someone from a long time ago that I shared my campfire with.  An older man who was nice to me.  And made me feel. . . .safe.  And wanted.  ‘Course, that was before I knew you.” Johnny sighed, and searched for the right words to explain his feelings.  “I guess bein’ with you tonight, at the campfire, by ourselves, well, guess it just brought the memory back to me. . .”

Murdoch understood what his son was feeling, and quietly, slowly, spoke to his son.  “You know, Johnny,  I’ve been at a lot of campfires in my day.  Sometimes alone, or with friends, like Paul, or Cipriano.  But sometimes, one runs across a stranger; someone that will ask him to share his campfire with him.  And sometimes, that stranger makes an impression.  Maybe because of the situation.  A young, cold, lonely boy, who relishes in the kindness and companionship of someone older.  Wiser.  Sort of a father figure. . . . . .” Murdoch’s voice trailed off.  

“Yeah,” Johnny quietly replied.  “Sometimes. . .strangers can turn out to be a good friend.”

“Yes.  And sometimes, maybe they can turn out to be a little more,” Murdoch lovingly responded.

A silence came upon father and son as they pondered their separate memories.  Johnny lay back down, and fell asleep.  Murdoch kept watch over his son.


When morning came, Johnny could smell the breakfast his father was cooking.  And as he awoke, Murdoch approached him with a hot cup of coffee.  “Here Johnny.  Drink this, we need to get movin’ soon, after a good breakfast.”

Johnny looked at his father with sleepy eyes, and smiled.  A companionable silence fell upon them as they ate their breakfast, cleaned up their camp, and headed for home.  To Lancer.

“Shall we go home, Son?” Murdoch asked. 

“Home sweet home.  Sounds good to me, Murdoch,” Johnny responded quietly.

Murdoch winked.  And smiled.  

As they rode home, Murdoch pondered the events of the previous night, and a feeling of contentment went through him.  He had been with Johnny.  And it had been good.  And he thought about that night three years ago.  He knew what he wanted to believe, but yet, he knew it wasn’t.

Johnny as well thought about the night before—thought about how wonderful it had been for him. He had been with his father.  And it had been good.   And he remembered that night a  long time ago.  He knew what he wanted to believe, but yet, he knew it wasn’t.

As they quietly moved along, Murdoch considered his son for a long while, then finally  spoke.


“Hmmmm?” Johnny murmured, in response to his name.

“Was. . . . .” Murdoch stopped.

“Was what?” Johnny asked, puzzled.

“Oh, nothing.  Nothing at all,” Murdoch stated.

“Oh, okay,” Johnny quietly replied.

And together,  Father and Son quietly continued their journey home.


And the question remained that neither one would ask the other.  Perhaps out of fear.  Or perhaps because sometimes, it was better not knowing.  Sometimes, the mysteries of life are better off left just that.  A mystery.

Was that my son?  Murdoch continued to ponder.

Was that my father?  Johnny wondered.

But it really didn’t matter.  For they were together now.  Murdoch had found his lost son.  And Johnny had found his father.

And the Unanswered Question would remain just that.  For now, anyway. . .

March 2004

Thanks to everyone who provided such positive feedback on the first story, and who suggested a sequel should be in order. So, did they, or didn’t they?



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