An episode tag for The High Riders
Word count: 1,005
The door closes behind him and I listen as his footsteps grow ever more distant, fading into a reassuring nothingness.
The sigh that now escapes my lips is one of relief, and I start to relax a little; that’s something I just can’t seem to do in his presence, relax I mean.
I can’t help it, he makes me edgy…wary. If I didn’t know better I’d liken it to fear, but Johnny Madrid ain’t afraid of no man, especially Murdoch Lancer!
Now he’s gone I haul myself up the bed, wincing as pain radiates through the tender muscles of my back. The stitches pull, protesting every little movement I make, still I’m told the wound’s healing well.
The old man checked it not an hour since, just after he’d made sure I drank every drop of the mug of broth he’d set in my hands.
I was hoping he’d take himself off somewhere when he’d renewed the bandage; but he mustn’t have had any work to do cause he settled himself back in the chair that stands alongside my bed.
He’s been sat there most of the night; at least it seems he has ‘cause every time I opened my eyes he was there, staring right back at me. He’d ask how I was, if I needed anything. Anyone would think he actually cared about me!
I just wish I knew what he was thinking; he’s a hard man to read. His face don’t give much away and his eyes…well I ain’t sure what I see in them. I ain’t looked too close mind; if I’m honest I’m wary of what I might find. Guess I don’t want to see the disappointment that has to be residing there.
Earlier he had started making small talk and I did try to move the conversation along, but my efforts sounded strained even to my own ears.
Time passed in that way, but I got the feeling he was steering the conversation onto more serious ground…my mother. Well see that threw me good and proper! Laid up like I am I wasn’t prepared to go there, not until I’m back on my feet, not until I can defend her, because if he starts calling her or damning her I’ll…I’ll…well let’s just say he’ll regret it!
Trying to change the direction of the conversation I asked him what Scott was up to. I guess that looked like I was tired of his company and was seeking someone else’s ‘cause he stiffened and what looked a lot like hurt flashed across his face. He got to his feet then and gestured outside telling me he’d find him and send him on up.
“Thanks.” Was the word that left my lips and I regretted it instantly, knowing it would only serve to confirm what he’d been thinking.
But I shouldn’t care what he thinks, I’ve already told him I don’t but… well truth is I do!
I came here hating him, but I…well I guess I let go of that hatred a heartbeat before I decided to give him a chance. It was much easier than it should have been. Dios, a little too easy, and…..and maybe I’ll regret doing so; but…the thing is, he’s not what I expected, nothing like the picture I’d formed of him in my mind.
I’d always imagined him a mean faced gringo, with a cruel mouth and pitiless eyes. But that ain’t what I saw that first day. Nope, wasn’t even close.
Yeah a stern face had greeted me and a deep voice had soared in irritation, but the stranger’s eyes had been unguarded and I witnessed a mix of emotions dancing there. And hate weren’t none of them.
That’s when doubt had first set in.
Then the girl, Teresa, she defended him passionately, her voice ringing with true conviction. I found myself wanting to believe her. I wanted…needed to believe he’d loved my mother. If he had then did that mean he had once…cared for me?
He’s been treating me pretty good the last few days, but maybe he thinks it’s the least he can do, me taking a bullet in defence of his property and all.
If the history between us wasn’t what it was, I think I’d like him, respect him. As it is I’m…I’m what? Confused?
Yeah, that’s it! One minute I want to rip his head off the next I want to get to know him better!
He must be really proud of his other son! I guess any man would be. I still can’t believe that eastern dandy and me share the same blood! He doesn’t seem to mind, but then he doesn’t know much about me except… that I’m a half-breed gunslinger! Hell ain’t that enough to have him turn his nose up at what he sees?
It don’t seem to be! He’s even called me…brother. Brother! Who in their right mind would want me for a brother…or a son for that matter!
Maybe they ain’t as intelligent as they seem? Well I ain’t planning on sticking around to find out, now am I?
I’ll just rest up, heal some and then head out. That’s what I’ll do so I shouldn’t be wasting my time thinking on them anyways. I’ve got more important things to occupy my thoughts…like what I’m gonna be spending that one thousand dollars on!
That’d buy a lot of tamales!
I bet the old man’s housekeeper does a mean tamale! She seems nice…there’s a lot of nice people here and then… there’s me! Not so nice, not nearly so good.
I’m the fly in the ointment.
Yep, it’s best if I leave. They’d soon forget about me, they’d sure be better off without me…but……
Dios, I’m back to thinking about the old man and Boston again!
I don’t like the way they’ve got under my skin, and so quickly too!
Why should that be? Like the old man said, we’re strangers to each other!
But then… maybe blood really is thicker than water!
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