Chico by MaryB

Word count: 1,040


Scott and Johnny stood in the barn, each brushing down their horse  after a hard day of ranch work. Scott finished and put away his brush, but he could still hear his brother speaking softly to his mount. He leaned over the stall patrician and grinned.

“That has to be the most spoiled horse west of the Mississippi. East of it, as well.”

Johnny patted the palomino’s neck. “Don’t you listen to him, Barranca. He’s just jealous he doesn’t have a friend like you.”

Scott raised a brow. “I have plenty of friends. They just happen to have two legs.”

Johnny looked at him. “You mean to tell me you’ve never had a horse friend?”

Scott gave his own horse a pat. “I have had very good horses. Very capable partners. I don’t know if that qualifies as a friend.”

Johnny shook his head in sympathy as he put away his own grooming tools . ”You’re missing out. Whether you’re a cowboy out on the range alone, or running from…” he shot Scott a bit of an embarrassed look.”…whatever you’re running from, sometimes a good horse is the only friend you have.”

Scott was now intrigued. “Have all your horses been such good friends to you?”

“Naw,” Johnny admitted. “I’ve had a lot of horses, but only one other besides Barranca that I had….an understanding with.”

“And who was that?”

Johnny got kind of a far away look on his face. “Chico. This pinto I had. He was the best.”

Scott had to laugh. “Chico? Boy? Seems rather unimaginative for you, Little Brother.”

Johnny smiled as well. “Yeah, I was younger. About 15 or so. I caught this colt, barely old enough to be ridden. I trained him and taught him all kinds of things. But the thing he was best at…” he trailed off, as if he was suddenly too embarrassed to continue.

“What was he best at?” Scott prodded.

Johnny took a breath. “Listenin’ . Cause sometimes he was the only one I had to talk to.”

“What happened to him?”

Johnny shrugged. “When the ruales caught us and I knew I was facing that firing squad, I got word to some folks in the village and gave him to them. He was a good horse. They deserved him.”

“You didn’t try to get him back when you escaped?”

He gave a little laugh. “That part of Mexico wasn’t a very safe place for me to hang around in, you know. And besides, like I said, those folks could use a good animal. He wouldn’t even remember me. I got Barranca now, and he’s all I could ever want.”

They started walking toward the hacienda and the supper they knew was waiting for them there. As they walked, Scott grew pensive. Then he said, seriously, “I  think I know what you’re talking about.”

Johnny looked at him in surprise. “Oh?”

“Yes. The first lesson horse I had at the stable. A big old dun by the name of Buttercup. She knew it all. She made me look very good.” His tone softened a bit. “As I recall, she may have heard a secret or two of mine.”

Johnny stopped with his hand on the doorknob and looked at his big brother. They shared a smile that spoke of shared experience. It felt good.



Scott came in the French doors, calling his brother’s name. He stopped when he saw his father sitting at his usual spot at the large desk . “Oh, hello, sir. Is Johnny around?”

“Hello to you too!” Murdoch grinned at him. “What’s going on? You get back from being on a three week trip and you’re already yelling for your brother!”

“Yes, well, I have something I need his help with. Is he…”

“Boy, brother, you sure do yell loud!” Johnny came bounding down the stairs and into the room. “Welcome home!” He came over and slapped Scott on the shoulder.

“Thanks. It’s good to be back.” Scott looked back out the door. “Listen, Johnny, I need your help.”

“Sure. What’s up?”

“Come out here with me and I’ll explain what happened.” He headed to the barn. “You remember our little talk about horses?”

Johnny nodded.

“Well, I came across this horse that needs a good home. He’s not real young, and the folks that were watching him said he had a limp…”

Johnny stopped walking. “So why did you bring him here? Doesn’t sound like he’ll be any good for a ranch horse.”

“I know, I know. I just couldn’t leave him.” He opened the barn door. “You see, his owners moved and couldn’t take him and…”

Johnny shook his head as hie pulled the door further open. “Just don’t complain about me and my…” He stopped dead still.

The horse in the stall facing them swung his head over and looked at them with big blue eyes. His nostrils flared and his lip curled up as he caught the scent of the man before him. He gave a little nicker.

“I think you were wrong, Little Brother,” Scott said softly. “I think he remembers you quite well.”

Johnny took a slow step closer. Then another. He opened the stall door and stepped inside. He ran a hand down the strong red neck, and hesitantly touched the white face. “Chico,” he breathed. “How? I don’t understand.”

“It wasn’t hard to locate the right village. It was in the Pinkerton report, after all. I wasn’t that far away doing Murdoch’s business so I thought I would look him up. I thought you might like to know how he was doing. When I got there, the people really had moved on so I told the neighbors that were looking after him who I was, and they were delighted to give him back to you.”

Johnny tore his gaze from his old friend and looked over at Scott. “I don’t know… how can I…” He blinked a few times, and his voice broke.

Scott smiled. “You just did.”

Johnny turned back and buried his face in the pinto’s neck. The horse in turn put his head over his friend’s shoulder  and seemed to pull him in close. And in unison they heaved a great sigh of contentment.






Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email MaryB directly.


4 thoughts on “Chico by MaryB

  1. Awe – Loved this. The simple act of Scott finding what happened to Johnny’s treasured childhood friend. I swear you never disappoint.



  2. Thank you, Mary. Love this. The bond between horse and its human can be so strong. Of course Chico remembered Johnny. What a wonderful, brotherly act of love for Scott to reunite the two.


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