Scott came down the stairs slowly, savoring the differences between this day, and a year ago. For one it was much earlier in the morning, and the sun remained below the horizon. Christmas it might be, and the chores might be lighter, but there was still a ranch to be run, and work that could not wait a day.
The gas lamps were flickering, and as Scott turned the corner into the great room where the evergreen tree he and Johnny had jointly picked out and brought back to the house was placed, he noticed a golden glow. Quickening his stride, Scott stepped into the room and paused. All the candles on the tree, each in its own tin dish, were lit. The fir was decorated with paper garlands and bows, plain by Eastern standards. His grandfather would probably call it a beggar’s tree.
Next to the tree was Johnny, gazing at the branches, and Murdoch, a box of matches forgotten in his hands. Neither seemed to have noticed him.
Scott gazed at his brother and father. His brother and father. Here was the most important difference between this year and last,the reason he felt such resounding joy. He was home. He was where he belonged. And this Christmas, he would share that joy with his family.
Just A Little Ditty
“Look Scott, just let me take care of Harvey.”
Scott Lancer leaned back in his chair, slowly sipping his drink before answering. “He’s a dangerous man, with at least three friends helping him. Not this time, little brother.”
“Scott.” Johnny frowned at the blond, shooting quick glances between him and the four men laughing at one end of the plank that passed for a bar in the local watering hole. “I just have more experience with trash like this.”
Scott also glanced at the four men who had probably robbed the Peterson ranch and assaulted Jay Peterson’s daughter. He and Johnny had been tracking them since last night. The four looked like they were on their last round. Soon they would be out of the saloon and away from any other friends they might have in this unfamiliar town.
Once more Scott studied his brother. Johnny’s expression was hard, cold; he had taken Sue Ellen to more than one dance, and often talked about her. He had more than enough reason to track down the scum that had hurt her. However, it was the other emotion Scott read in Johnny that concerned him, a look of almost excitement. Johnny was on the hunt. Mentally Scott frowned. His brother was letting his emotion cloud his judgment.
Scott picked his words carefully. “What kind of experience is that?” He pitched his voice as soft as Johnny’s.
“I’ve been handing scum like this most of my life. Now just let me do this. You can be my backup.”
Scott raised his brows. “Johnny, now is not the best time to remind you of this, however I fear I must. I may not have the years of experience you possess dealing with, as you so aptly put it, trash, but I have enough. A reprobate is a reprobate, whether they are a ruthless business man, a guard in a prison camp, or a renegade who steals, or worse from innocent civilians under the guise of war.”
“In other words,” Scott watched the four men walk out of the saloon toward
their horses. “You can be my backup.”
(11/5/2009 – archived September 2022)
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I like your short stories!