National Mule Day by Margaret Schmitz Compton

#2 in the Coming Home series

October 26th is Mule day. So this gave me an idea of a story with a mule in it. I remember watching Wyatt Earp with his deputy Shotgun Gibbs. I always liked how Gibbs acted on the show. His real name is Morgan Woodward. I put his pictures here for anyone who doesn’t remember.  He is still alive and 91 years old.

Word count: 5,705

Chapter 1

Johnny and Scott are in Greenriver getting the mail and having a drink at Wiley’s Saloon.

As Scott leaves to get the mail, Johnny goes to the horses. He’s rubbing the neck of a strange mule.

“Johnny what are you doing?” Scott asks.

“Look at these funny neckerchiefs with a mule on them. You know how stubborn a mule is Scott? Why would anyone want to have a thing like that around their neck? I’d be afraid it would choke me. There was this man who bought eight of them, tied them together and put it around his mule’s neck. I asked him why he put them around his mule’s neck. I told him that they are the most useless and dumb animal next to cattle. You know what he told me Scott?”

Johnny stopped as Scott cut him off and said, “Johnny you know mules are useful. A lot of people use them. Why do you question a stranger anyway?”

“I don’t know Scott.  It could be because he went to see Val. I followed him into Val’s office to see why a mule man would want to see him. Scott! You know who was already in Val’s office. I know it was him as I saw him once down in Arizona. I was.” Johnny looked puzzled at Scott.

As Scott cut Johnny off again. “Johnny, how can I know who you saw in Val’s office, if you don’t say his name. And Johnny, will you slow down?”

Johnny steps closer to Scott, “Oh! Yea! Sorry Scott. Anyway, It’s Wyatt Earp. You know what else Scott. Val invited them to stay, at Lancer, while they search for a man named Sly Panther.

I laughed at that name thinking it was made up. Val told me he knows the man and said he’s meaner than anyone he’d ever met. Val wants us to ride with them tomorrow while they go and look for him. Scott, you and I will be helping Wyatt Earp. Only thing is I hope that muleskinner keeps his mule away from Diego. I think he’d give me some problems. Scott let’s go to the ranch. I want you to meet them. I also need you to help me explain this all to Murdoch. I don’t want to go it alone. They might already be there and you know how Murdoch don’t like none of my surprises, even though this time, Val’s to blame.”

They hop on their horses and head home.

“Look at that Scott. That mule is in our horse’s corral. I ain’t likin this. That man is getting his mule out. You go tell him Scott?” Johnny says.

“Why me Johnny? You’re the one who met him, so you have one up on me.” Scott replies.

“Cause he looks mean. You can handle people better than me. You can talk to Murdoch. OK? Scott.” Johnny asks.

Scott replies, “I tell you what Johnny. We go in there together and see what kind of mood Murdoch’s in. Maybe he’ll be just as impressed with Wyatt Earp as you are. Even I had heard of Wyatt Earp. I do think Murdoch will be ok with the two men staying there. I don’t think he’ll be happy with us going with them. You know chasing a dangerous man. Especially with you. You know how protective, Murdoch is. He’s afraid you’ll get hurt.”

“OK! Scott. I guess you’re right.  Let’s go in.” Johnny says.


Chapter 2

The boys go through the front door.

As soon as it was opened, Murdoch says, “Good boys I’m glad you’re back. As you know we have company. Johnny, Val explained what is going on. I may not agree with you two going with them, still I’ll leave it up to you. Johnny, would you like to introduce these two gentlemen to Scott?”

Johnny whispers to Murdoch, “Uh Murdoch can you tell me the mule man’s name?”

“Why Johnny? Val told me you already met them.” A confused Murdoch.

“Uh Murdoch just tell me his name, PLEASE.” Johnny smiles.

Murdoch gets an idea, to embarrass Johnny. “It’s mule man Gibbs shotgun. Just introduce him like that.”

Johnny says, “Good. Uh Scott this is Wyatt Earp and Mule man Gibbs shotgun.”

Right away Shotgun Gibbs says, “What boy you making fun of me riding a mule again. I don’t take kindly to that, so you better rephrase my name to your brother.”

Johnny had no idea that Shotgun was teasing. He looked at Murdoch and says to Scott, “Scott this is Mr. Shotgun.”

Murdoch and Shotgun start laughing.

Shotgun and Wyatt go up to Scott and say, “Glad to meet you Scott.”

While they are shaking hands. Wyatt finishes off by saying. “We call him Gibbs.”

Murdoch steps in and says, “Gentlemen I believe we should discuss our plans for tomorrow. Have a seat. First off Wyatt, I believe we would all like to know why you are here. It’s a far way to travel from Arizona.”

Wyatt looks around at every one and says, “Gibbs and I road to a small ranch about 11 miles out of town. One of the neighbors said that something strange over there was happening. There are two houses on the property and he said there were a couple of men in both houses he never seen before. He asks the man where Mary and Laurence was.The man told said they had gone to town. Just coming from town and not seeing them there, he thought he should remain quiet.

He then went home, took another horse and road into town to let me know.

“I put a group of men together and we rode out there. We had a small altercation with the men at the house. A couple were killed and we captured three. Sly and another man escaped. When Val told, me he has been causing trouble in California and was seen in another town around here, I made up my mind to go after him myself.

“You see Laurence and Mary owned a small ranch. They had two small children, still in cribs. One 18 months and the other was just 2 months old. The other house was their help. The husband and wife had 5 children, ages 9,8,7, 4 and 2. oth, entire families were shot in the head. This is my biggest fear is that they would do it again. We have to get this gang, either dead or alive.”

Murdoch was shaking his head, “How can anyone take the lives of little children and their parents. This is the worst thing I have ever heard of. Of course, we will help you. Val, will you like to give us any idea, where this man is hiding.”

Wyatt looks at Val and says, “He likes hiding in abandon homes. Are there any places around here that people have just moved out of?”

“Well there’s the Burton and Johnson place. Can you think of any others Murdoch?” Val says.

Johnny says, “How about the Parks! They seemed happy being at their place but they moved out without letting anybody know. They even left most of their stuff. At least I thought they moved out.”

“That sounds like something Sly would do. He wouldn’t care, if it was a whole family with little children. That is a good place to start. Since it’s evening I would like Gibbs and Johnny go to town and go to the saloons, to see if he’s in one of them. Do you have a town around here that is mostly with the Mexican influence? I notice that there are a lot of vaqueros around here, and they are the kind of people he’d rather hang out with.” Wyatt says.

Murdoch shakes his head, “Yes Moro Coyo. I don’t think it’s a good idea with Johnny going along, not because of his past. It could be a problem I don’t want to chance.”

Wyatt says, “That is why, I’m wanting Johnny to go. I know who Johnny is and what he’s capable of doing. I believe, if Sly has any plans, he may confront Johnny and that will give us a leg into where he is. What do you say Johnny?”

“Sounds good to me but I think I’ll take Jose with us. It’ll give me extra support, if something happens.” Johnny says.

Wyatt looks at Johnny, “That’s fine Johnny but you’ll find out Gibbs is an excellent backup. Even if you don’t like his mule. His mule is as reliable as your horse and I know how well your horses are trained.”

“Well that could be Wyatt but I think it’ll look better if Jose goes, it’ll be more like ranch hands going out to have a good time. I don’t know this Sly Panther and from what you said I don’t want to take any chances.” Johnny says.

“OK Johnny, you should be able to handle it the way that you want. I know you are good at what you do. I’ll leave it at that.” Wyatt says.

“Johnny you and your friend get ready and I’ll get Roscoe ready to ride.” Gibbs says.

“Alright Gibbs, we’ll be ready in 15 minutes. Pa I have to do this. I can’t let killers like this get away. Please understand, this is who I am,” Johnny says.

Murdoch answers, “I understand Johnny, I just don’t like taking a chance with either of my sons’ life. I pray that you all will just be careful. I will be going with you tomorrow and I don’t want any arguments. Be careful son.”

Johnny, Shotgun and Jose head out to Moro Coyo.


Chapter 3

Gibbs was looking around the town of Moro Coyo. “I see why you guys come here. It’s a nice little town. Where is this saloon? I’m kind’a thirsty.”

“Well I tell ya Shotgun, that’s a funny name. You look more like a mule man to me that a shotgun. You go around the corner straight ahead, on the left side. ” Johnny says.

“Hey boy! Your old man let you drink? If’n you’s mine I wouldn’t. Why he let ya come anyways?” Gibbs says.

“I never asked him if I can drink. I never even thought that maybe he didn’t want me to. I’ve been on my own too long to give up certain things.” Johnny says.

“How long you been on your own boy?” Gibbs asks.

“Don’t call me boy.” Johnny takes off on his horse.

Gibbs looks at Jose and says, “Is that boy always that testy. I noticed he’s kind’a shy.”

“He hasn’t been home but little over two months. His daddy didn’t even know what name he was going by.” Jose says.

“What ya mean his daddy didn’t know. Daddies always know. By golly what kind’a dad is this Murdoch?” Gibbs asks.

“Sorry Mr. Gibbs but as Wyatt told you he knew who Johnny was. Didn’t you hear him?” Jose asks.

“Well, I tell ya I know he’s Johnny Lancer. Who else could he be? Besides a boy with a snotty attitude.” Gibbs asks.

“He’s known as Johnny Lancer now but when he came home he was Johnny Madrid. Now do you understand.” Jose states.

“Oh!” Gibbs says and rides off.

Johnny pulled up to the saloon and looked through the swing doors. He sees an old enemy and thought to himself, ‘Great Wil Edward, wonder what he’s doing here.’

He walks through the doors. He walks up to the bar. “Pete, I need a tequila, make it a double shot.”

“Sure Johnny is your pa in town or Scott? I hope you didn’t come in here alone. You have a couple of men, looking for you, over there.” Pete says.

“Yea, I got Jose and a man called Shotgun Gibbs, with me. Did them two say what they wanted?” Johnny asks.

“No Johnny. They were in here with a couple of guys who worked at the ranch for a while but your pa fired them right after you came here.” Pete says.

“I don’t know who my pa fired, back then. I was kind of out of it. But I do know we got trouble.” Johnny says as Gibbs and Jose walk in. As Johnny finishes his questions. “Do you know them two at the other table Pete?”

“No, Johnny, they came in before those two came in. Do you think there’ll be trouble?” Pete asked.

“Yea I do. You see Wil Edwards works for a guy named Pardee. Pardee works in range wars. Yep I’d say we have trouble around here. You think you can hook Gibbs, Jose, and me with a girl. Wil is a back shooter and I need to go out the back door. Just tell the girls to listen to what I have to say, so we don’t’ have any problems” Johnny says.

“OK, Johnny. I hope you get away.” Pete says.

“Madrid, Boy I heard you were around here. Say boy why don’t ya come and sit with us. I want you to meet Sly Panther. I told him all about you. We got something to talk about. You do remember don’t you boy?” Wil says.

“You know what Wilber,” Johnny says sarcastically, “I don’t have any business with you. I have business with a couple ladies. If you’re here in a couple of hours we can talk.”

Wil replies, “Yea I’ll wait Johnny. Pardee has a message he wants me to give you. If it was left up to me, I’d have my own business over with now. I know how Pardee thinks about you. When he found out you were here, he came up with this idea. So, go have your fun.”

Johnny goes back to the bar and asks Pete, “Can you quietly take the two horses and that mule behind the hotel? We will sneak out in about half hour.” He looks at the girls and turns to Pete then says, “Yea I guess my fun isn’t happening today.” He turns to Gibbs and Jose and tells them to go with him, “Don’t question me just play along. We have problems and I’ll explain when we get upstairs.”

They all go upstairs and he told them his plan of getting out.

“I’ll tell you both what’s happening when we get back to the ranch. I have to tell Pa and Wyatt so I may as well tell it all at once. All I can say we do have problems.” Johnny tells them.

Johnny told the girls to stay upstairs for two hours and not to come down. He paid them for two hours and the girls agreed.

A half hour later Johnny and the others leave town.

Johnny was never so happy to see the arch. Relieved he ask Jimmy to take care of the horses while Gibbs, Jose and Johnny go in the house.


Chapter 4

They all go through the door. Murdoch smiles, “It looks like you’re home early Johnny. I thought you’d be gone at least a few hours.”

“Well Pa. When I went in there I seen a guy I know. Him and I have problem.”

Val cuts Johnny off, “Who is it Johnny.”

“It’s Wil Edwards. You were with me, when he shot me in the back. He said he wanted me dead and it looks like he still does. Val! He’s not the main problem that we have. It’s Day Pardee. Wil is here with him and I did meet your Sly Panther, Wyatt. They were together. There were two other men but Pete said they had nothing to do with Wil.” Johnny says.

“Ah yes Day Pardee. I have warrants on him. He’s out of New Mexico, isn’t he Johnny?” Wyatt asked.

“Yea he likes it when his men fight. He usually has 10 to 12 men. He picks men who won’t turn on him.” Johnny says.

Wyatt nods and says “We will check out that house. I have a feeling his men are there. We have to be careful. A man like Pardee will have spots further out.”

Murdoch then speaks up, “I have plenty men, Wyatt. They will help. I don’t want Johnny going. He’s just came home and I don’t want to chance losing him.”

Johnny cuts in, “I am going Pa. I know what I’m doing. Besides Val will be with me. He’s like you. He’s a papa bear.”

“I’m sticking with you to Johnny. Wyatt tells me that the three of us will have a better chance sneaking up to the house.” Gibbs says.

“Wyatt and I will handle the rest of the men and when Johnny comes back, we’ll all go in. They have to get the spotters out. We were making plans when you were gone. We caught a guy trying to sneak in the house. He was upstairs checking out the rooms. We have him in the guardhouse. Boy, did he talk. It was funny, Pa was passing your room as this guy came out and walked right into pa’s chest. The fear on that man’s face showed us he’ll talk.” Scott says.

“Did he have a name.” Johnny looks around for someone to answer him.

“Yes. “Scott says, “He’s Mark Samuels. Why do you know him Johnny?”

“No, Scott. It seems Pardee has new men. Maybe most of his men is gone. That could be why he’s here in California.” Johnny says.

“Well, we have all of our plans settled so who wants a drink?” Murdoch asks.

“I’m going out to check on Diablo. I know he won’t let anyone brush him.” Johnny smiles.

“I think I’ll go with you Johnny if you don’t mind. Roscoe needs a brushing too.” Gibbs says.

“Sure Gibbs, I’ll put him in a stall on the other side of the barn far from  Diablo.” Johnny says.

They go out the door.

Gibbs watching Johnny brush Diablo and questions him, “Johnny, why’d you name your horse Diablo. I know you know it means devil. I mean that is an awful name for anything. He’s a beautiful strawberry roan.  I’d call him Red if’n he was mine. Just askin.”

Johnny answers, “When I caught him he bucked like the devil. I ain’t never had a horse that hard to break. I know when you gentle a horse, you still have to ride them. After he was broke he was real easy to train.”

Gibbs states also, “You know Johnny. Roscoe was easy to train. He isn’t like most stubborn mules. I guess he takes after the horses’ way. He’s smart. You know, he can sense trouble lurking around. If there is anyone hiding, he will let me know. I bet your horse is the same way. It’s just something that not everyone has in common.”

Johnny say, “I agree with you Gibbs. I’m also sorry about what I said about your mule. I can tell he’s different than any mule I ever saw.

Let’s go in the house and have that drink that my pa tried to give us.”

“Alright, Johnny but I still believe, you are two young to drink. I don’t believe your daddy would let you drink. If’n I was your dad I wouldn’t.” Gibbs says.

Johnny smiles, “You know Gibbs. I have not tried to drink, in front of my pa.

This will be my first time. I know I’ll find out as soon as he sees me drinking tequila. But I’ve been on my own too long to care. My pa is good to me, I don’t plan to change for anyone. Let’s go in.”

They go in the house.

Johnny walks up to the bar and pours Gibbs and him a shot of tequila.

Murdoch looks at him hard and says, “Johnny you can have a drink tonight but later you and I will have a talk.”

“Alright Pa. But I’ll tell you right now, I’ve been on my own too long to change my ways.”

Murdoch cuts him off, “I said we will talk later. We are still learning about each other. Still son you will learn that there are rules in this house.”

“Ok, Pa. I’m sorry. I can see that you are a private person.” Johnny says.”

Murdoch looks around and says, “Well I believe I’ll turn in for the night. It be and early start for me in the morning. Good night all.”

They all say good night and decide to turn in also.


Chapter 5

Bright and early the next morning, Murdoch was up and headed out the front door. He wanted to talk to the men before they were ready to ride out. He had given them their orders last night but decided he needs some of them to ride with the posse.

“Boys I would like some volunteers to go with us to the Parks place. We believe there is a group of murderers there. They have killed two families and their small children. This will be dangerous, so I will only take volunteers. The rest of you can go on ahead and work at the time scheduled. The ones who will be going meet us in the front ready to go at 7:30. Seen you then.” Murdoch walks away.

“Hey Chuck, what you think of riding with Wyatt Earp and Johnny Madrid. To me that’s something.” A hand named Al.

Chuck answers, “I don’t know. It might be worth it if we live. I’m thinking these people need to die. How can anyone kill little kids?”

The two men go back to the bunkhouse.

Murdoch walks in to the dining room seeing Scott and Johnny at the table. “Morning boys.”

“Morning Pa.” Scott and Johnny at the same time.

Gibbs comes in the front door. “Johnny, why you put all of them horse kerchiefs around Roscoe’s neck, ears and tail.  Where’d you put my mule kerchiefs?”

Johnny answers, “He told me he likes his horse side but the only time he’s a stubborn mule is when you’re around.”

“Oh, great we’re ridin with a boy who talks to mules. I thought you didn’t like em.  Did you also paint the hooves pink?”

“That’s red like my shirt.” Johnny says.

“Like I said pink. Morning everyone.” Gibbs says.

“Morning,” Everyone says back. As Wyatt comes to the table. “Morning Wyatt.” They all say.

“Morning. Say Gibbs, you talk to Roscoe all the time. Are you angry because now Roscoe has another friend?” Wyatt says.

“Alright you two can stop teasing me now. We need to get movin, so why don’t you eat as everyone else is done.” Gibbs says.

They all finish eating and head out towards the Parks home. About two miles from the house they all regroup, while talking about what everyone is to do.

“We will go in first to get the spotters out of commission. Johnny will come back and let you know when to ride in. Now I want you to ride in at two different times. Murdoch, you bring the first 7 men with you and Frank bring the other 10 with you. If this is the right place you will hear shooting. That will be the signal to move. Give us at least 20 minutes before moving forward. That way there will be enough time, to find the spotters and you’ll still be too far to be heard. Alright let’s go.” Val says.

Val, Wyatt, Scott Johnny and Gibbs move forward.

Val found the first man and stabbed him.

Johnny found one a little further to the right.

They keep moving forward. Scott then gets a man.

Val gets another as well as Johnny.

There’s a guy sneaking up on Scott but Gibbs gets him.

Wyatt gets a young boy about Johnny’s age.

Johnny gets the last one.

“You think we have them all.” Johnny asks Gibbs.

“I sure hope so. This wasn’t as easy as I thought.” Gibbs says.

They move forward as Murdoch and his men move in.

“You in the house, this is the sheriff. Come out or we will come in.”

Val says.

They start shooting from the house.

Val and the rest circle the house.

The shooting is starting to die down as three men come running toward Johnny at the side of the barn.

One comes up and grabs him from the back while another one takes a knife to him in the side. Gibbs jumps in and shoots two as Scott shoots the one holding Johnny.

The last set of Murdoch’s men comes in.

The fighting only last only 45 minutes.

Johnny sees Pardee lying on the ground as he was one of the men trying to get him. “Day, sorry about this buddy. We couldn’t let you do what you all did to that family in Arizona. How could you do something like that?”

“Johnny, it’s just business.” Day says.

“But Day you never harmed women and children. Why, Why did you get so mean?” Johnny asks.

Pardee coughs, “The money was more than I could ever imagine. Johnny why fight with these people. I know you wouldn’t fight with us, but these people?”

“Day, I was fighting with my old man. Mom told me who he was. He saved my life. I had to after what I heard about those two families. I have a feeling you killed the Parks family here too.” Johnny says.

“Sorry Johnny.” Day coughs and then dies.

There were 11 men of Day’s. Nine of them died. The two captured were bound. One of them was Sly Panther.

Wil Edwards was not found. “Val! Wil’s not around here. We have to go find him.”

“You’re right Johnny. He’ll for sure shoot you in the back. Murdoch, can you and your men take care of these bodies. Cip will you and three men take these two and put them in my jail.” 

“If Johnny is going with you, so are Scott and me. Johnny we’ll have your back also.” Murdoch says.

“I have an idea I’ll ride with Murdoch and Scott and head for home. You and Gibbs ride as back up. I know that Wil is watching for an opportunity.”

They are ride about 10 miles until a shot is heard, Johnny springs forward but doesn’t fall out of the saddle.

Two more shots sounds is heard.

Out of the trees comes Gibbs with the body of Wil Edwards.

“Thank You Gibbs.” says Murdoch. “Johnny, how are you hurt?”

“I’m fine, Pa. I just have a graze on my arm and a small slice on my side that probably need stitching. Nothing new for me. Let’s just go home. OK!” Johnny says.

Murdoch smiles and they all go home.


“Doc. Stop that.” Johnny whined.


“Johnny if you don’t stop scratching, while I’m trying to remove these stitches, I’ll smack something else besides your hand.” Doc Jenkins said.


Murdoch walked into Johnny’s room as Doc yelled once more at Johnny, “Glad you’re here Murdoch. This boy won’t keep his hands out of my way, I’m about to roll him to his side and swat that bottom of his. I know it will hurt, he only has those thin long johns on. Murdoch take this boy’s hands and make sure he doesn’t move them.”


“Johnny, now that’s enough.”  Murdoch grabbed Johnny’s hands. “You want those stitches out, don’t you?  We can leave them in if you enjoy scratching them that much.”

Johnny finally calmed down, “They just itch so bad pa, I can’t help it.”

“Johnny, I only have four more. You are worse than two-year-old Don Nino, who had 8 stitches out. That’s one more than yours.” Doc. Jenkins said.

Johnny settle down and let Doc. take out the rest of his stitches.

As he moved to walk away from Doc Jenkins, there was a real loud Smack.

“Why’d you do that Doc.” Johnny rubbed his behind.

“I couldn’t resist it. All the trouble you just gave me.” Doc answered.

Murdoch smiled at Johnny, “Well son, you did deserve that one. Wyatt and Gibbs are ready to leave. They’re just waiting for you to say bye.”

“Ok! Pa.” Johnny heads downstairs.

“Johnny, it was nice working with you.  You too, Murdoch and Scott. I have never been this far west. I was thinking about Alaska. Just thinking on it though.” Wyatt put his hand out and shook hands with them.

Gibbs did the same. “I am thinking of coming out this way again, if’n Wyatt goes to Alaska. It’s just too cold for me, so’s California, I’m game.”

“That’s fine by me Gibbs. We’ll go hunting in the mountains. Wyatt told me you’re a good hunter.” Johnny said.

“That’s not what Johnny called you when you came here. He called you a muleman, worthless for nothin.” Scott finished off with “And I quoted my little brother.”

“Oh! I see how it is. I’ll be sure to bring Roscoe with me. He’ll outlast that nag of yours in the mountains. Specially if’n yours is painted pink.” Gibbs told Johnny.

“Ya! Maybe I’ll buy me a better mule. At least we’ll have a real contest as Diego can out maneuver your mule, any day. While yours was pink, I’ll change it to yellow, when I have mine,” laughingly Johnny said.

Wyatt walked up and tapped Gibbs on the head, “Will you two boys quit arguing. We need to get a move on. You know we can’t miss the train.”

They both hop on their horses and said, “Bye.” and ride off.

Murdoch, Scott and Johnny went into the house, to have a last cup of coffee to begin their day.

Jelly came in and said. “How’s it going. I’d bet you’ll miss Gibbs, Johnny. You’s two seems ta get along. I like him myself. He said when he comes back maybe we’d go huntin cause he said your horse goin ta be to pink ta ride. Says you’d know what he means.”

“I guess I do Jelly. He does have a smart mule. I’m going to look around and see if I can find me one. That way we’ll have a real contest.

You going to town with us today Jelly?” Johnny asked. Jelly changed the subject to Murdoch, “Say Murdoch, did ya still want me ta get that pipe tabacky if’n it’s in. Or ya want ta go with ya boy. I got a feelin that Johnny might want ya ta go.”

Murdoch answered, “Why? Jelly is there a reason you want me to go?”

“No boss I guess there ain’t,” said a frowning Jelly.”

Scott walked in. “I guess Johnny you don’t have to ride into town as Val just road under the arch.”

Johnny replied, “It must be important, he’s coming in fast.”

They all headed out towards Val. Jelly looked like he’s in an all-out laughing mood.

Val pulled up, “Did that old coot leave yet?  Ya all know what that old goat did? Ah! Where is he, Johnny?”

“What’s up Val? Did you forget something? I thought the case was all closed. That them others being hung ended it.” Johnny said.

Val stared and looked funny at Johnny, “I guess it all is closed. I jest wanted to thank him for what he done. But I guess I don’t have too. I got a feeln he ain’t finished yet. Is he Jelly?”

“What ya mean ain’t finished yet? You know somethin’ we don’t, Val?” Jelly smiled.

“Ya. I think I do. How about you Jelly?” Val asked.

“Alls I know is Johnny and me’s goin ta town. But since ya’s here we don’t need ta. Right Johnny?” Jelly said.

“I’m going to town anyway, Jelly. I’ll ride back with you Val. If you don’t mind?” Johnny asked.

“Well boy? I’d say if’n you are goin ta get ready you best saddle that pretty horse of yours.” Val said with a big smile on his face.

Johnny looked real strange at Val, “Is something funny Val. You and Jelly both seem like something, is laughingly wrong.”

Scott came out of the barn, “Johnny, Jose has your horse saddled. He said he’d bring it out, as soon as he stops laughing.”

“Everyone this morning just thinks this is a laughing day. I guess I’ll go to the barn and relieve Jose of his laughter.” Johnny began to get angry.

Jose came out of the barn laughing, “Johnny, here’s your pretty horse.”

“Is that what Gibbs did to your horse Val?” Johnny smiled.

Val laughed, “No sir. He did mine in green not pink. I say Diego looks good in pink.”

“That’s red Val. Like my shirt.” Johnny said.  “Like Gibbs says pink.” Val replied.

Johnny laughingly said, “I guess he’s out done me. I used colored chalk, he used paint. How did he find pink mule handkerchiefs?  Jose will you saddle another horse for me? Jelly can you take that paint off the hooves? I’m going to town. It’s my night out and I’m having a drink on Gibbs. The man got the last laugh after all.”

Murdoch looked at Val. “Val will you keep an eye on Johnny. I don’t like him drinking but like he says the Doctor set him free. Johnny, be safe and don’t stay out too late.”

“Nope Pa. I’m going to have my fun and I’ll be back when I’m all done.” Johnny replied.

“Don’t worry pa. I’m going with him. He’ll come back with me.” Scott said.

“Great! Both my sons gone all day and most of the night. You’re supposed to be a good example for Johnny, not teaching him about them girls at River Run Saloon. You know He’s too young.” Murdoch said.

Johnny replied, “Scott can’t teach me something I already know. I know cards and I know women, so I will take care of Scott. Don’t worry pa. We’ll both have fun and be home early. I have a good thing here and I don’t plan on messing it up.”

Johnny hopped on his horse and they all rode off. As Johnny yelled to Val, “I’m having my first toast to that muleman. He sure pulled the last joke on me.”

The four men rode off.


To My Father’s House —–>


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