A Condemned Man by Nancy Marie

I don’t own them. I’m just taking them out for some western fun, and adventure. No money is being made from this, and all original characters belong to their rightful owners. Any other characters are mine, and may not be used without my permission.

This story will be Rated R for adult language and content.

Murdoch Lancer
Maria Consuela DelaVega Lancer
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott GarrettLancer
Sam Jenkins
Val Crawford
Sam Jenkins
Father Francisco Garcia
Father Enrique Ruhen
Vidal
Domingo
Mission Santa Maria Suamca

Word count: 19,630

Chapter 1

Murdoch woke up, and got dressed. Figuring his wife, Maria was already up, and downstairs with their two year old son Johnny, who seemed to wake at the first signs of light. Heading downstairs, Murdoch walked into the kitchen to find it empty. Walking all thru the downstairs, Murdoch found every room empty. Going back upstairs, he headed to Johnny’s bedroom, opened the door, and found it empty as well. Going back downstairs, he walked over to his desk, and found a note, simple, and to the point.

Murdoch

Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Eyes that will always make him a half-breed. Your half-breed bastard son.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

That was five years ago, five years of loneliness, and heartache. Five years of searching every village or town in Mexico, and along the border. Not a day went by he didn’t wonder if his son was still alive, or what he looked like. Placing the note back in the file, Murdoch opened the letter on his desk, and began reading it.

Mister Lancer

I have searched every town along the Mexican border from San Diego to Laredo, with no luck. Tomorrow I will start searching in and around Matamoros, and work my way back west to Yuma.

Alan Belcher

Murdoch set the letter down, stood up, and walked over to the sideboard, and poured a shot of scotch. Every letter he’s received from the Pinkerton agent said the same thing, and every one broke his heart that much more.


“ Why do I have to leave mother?” Johnny demanded.

“ Stop whining like a little baby. You leave because I say so.” his mother ordered

“ I’m not whining, I’m tired of always having to leave just so you can sleep with a man.” he said.

Maria lashed out, and slapped Johnny hard across the face. “You ungrateful little bastard. If it wasn’t for me, you would have no food in your belly, and roof to sleep under.”

“ I sleep most nights out in the cold because you bring men home to your bed.” Johnny yelled back.

Maria grabbed Johnny, and slapped him several times hard across the face. “ You are as worthless as your gringo father. I should have left you to die with him.”

“ You lie, you said he did not want me. It is you who do not want me.” Johnny yelled.

“ He did not want you because you are a mestizo, the bastard child of a whore. We were not married when he got me pregnant with you, that makes you a bastard, and you always will be one.” Maria snapped back.

Johnny wiped the tears from his face, stunned at the words he heard his mother say. At almost ten years of age, he had seen many strange men come and go in every village, or town his mother settled in. Many nights he spent cold, and hungry, with no shirt, and wore thin white cotton pants, that in the heat of the summer kept him cool, but in the winter, did little, to no good against the cold winds. Numerous times he had been beaten by some of those men, while his mother did nothing to stop it from happening.

“ Get out!” Maria yelled as she shoved him toward the door.

“ I hate you……..I wish you were dead…….You’re nothing but a puta.” Johnny spat from outside the door as his mother slammed it shut. ( whore )


Ten years now since his wife left in the middle of the night, and took his precious son with her. His other son, Scott, he had only seen once per chance when he traveled back to Boston to plead with his father-in-law to let Scott come home where he belonged.

“ Are you prepared? As prepared as I am? Have your lawyers told you how many years it would take to fight my legal guardianship? With Scotty endlessly dragged into court as a key witness. Take a good look at your son Murdoch. This is the happiest time of his life.  His childhood. He’s with his friends, secure in his home. The only home he’s ever known. Now……..what can you give him to replace all this? Years of court battles, and if you’re lucky, a desolate strip of sand and rock to play on instead of grass. A mud hut to live in instead of a comfortable home. Is that what you want for your son? Make up your mind Murdoch. Do you wan Scotty torn apart?”

Scott knocks on the door.

“ Oh Scotty, I want you to meet a friend of mine.” Harlan said.

“ How do you do sir!” Scott said as he shook the mans hand.

“ Hello Scott, glad to meet you.” Murdoch said.

Scott went back in the other room to attend his birthday party.

“ You may call that one decision my moment of weakness. Now it’s your decision. You truly love the boy, I know what you will do.” Harlan said.

That was eight years ago. His youngest, Johnny had been gone a year, and he desperately wanted one of his sons at Lancer. One of them to share in the legacy he wanted to leave them.

Scott’s mother, his first wife Catherine, died while giving birth to their son. Lonely, he became a lawman for a short time, and while in Matamoros, met Johnny’s mother in a cantina. Taken in by her beauty, their courtship, a short whirlwind resulted in them marrying, and him bringing her home to Lancer, where he thought she would be happy, and they could raise their son together. Never once did Maria tell him she wasn’t happy. After their son was born, she was a little depressed, but he never suspected her of ever being unfaithful to him. Several people had seen Maria, and his son with a man leaving McCall’s Crossing, headed south.

Every month he would receive a report from the Pinkerton he hired to find his son, and every month for the past ten years, he received no word of his son being found. Every report made his hope of ever seeing Johnny alive again dwindle that much more. Every December twenty third  he would wonder if his son was even still alive. This year he would turn eleven, and also wondered if he even knew he had an older half brother, and what lies Maria, if any, had told him.


Johnny was cold, and hungry. The sun was just starting to show the first rays of light as he left the cave he spent almost every night in since his mother settled in Hermosillo, almost a year ago, the longest they had ever stayed in a town.  Stopping outside the back door, Johnny listened, but heard no sounds from inside. Opening the door, he stepped inside, and was shocked at what he seen. Laying on the  floor was the bloodied body of his mother. Dropping to his knees next to her head, her eyes open, and blank. Blood covered her chest from a single hole directly to her heart from where she had been shot. Hurrying outside, he ran to the church, and told the padre what he found.

That was four years ago. His mother was buried in the cemetery that afternoon, and that night, Johnny found himself thrown into a place of hell for the next two years. A place called Santa Maria Suamca, a mission for orphans. Being of mixed heritage, Johnny soon found himself being picked on by the other children, and beaten by Father Enrique Ruhen, a strict man of rules, and no tolerance for an orphaned Mexican boy with blue eyes. Every boy in the orphanage made a point of almost every day doing something against the rules, and blaming it on him. Countless times he would be beat with a belt,  shoved into a small closet, and left for days with little to no water, and no food at all. The father would just stand and watch as the other, bigger boys would beat on him, bloodying his nose, and splitting his lip. One rainy day while he was out in the yard, two bigger boys came to him, and the one pulled a small pocket knife out, and slashed his left side. Johnny lunged on the boy, both going down in the mud as the other boy ran inside.

Father Enrique grabbed Johnny, and yanked him off the other boy.

“ That mestizo tried to kill me.” the boy yelled.

“ You lie. It was you who has the knife. It was you who came out here with him and slashed me. All I did was defend myself.” Johnny spat as he tried to get free.

Father Enrique yanked Johnny around in front of him, and slapped him hard across the face. “ You are the son of the devil.” the father said as he yanked Johnny toward the church, stopping at the root cellar door. “ You will stay down here like the animal you are.” he said as he opened the door.

Johnny jerked his arm free, and ran around the church to the front, ignoring the father’s orders to stop, and come back. Heading to the one place he knew Father Enrique would never find him. Learning how to survive off the land, how to build a small unnoticeable fire, and plenty of water, Johnny spent months in the cave above Hermosillo, coming down late at night to steal food, blankets, or even clothing to stay warm at night. Making a promise to himself that one day when older, he would come back to the orphanage, and he would make Father Enrique pay for what he did to him for two years.


Murdoch sat in shock as he read the latest letter from the Pinkerton detective.

Mister Lancer

After twelve long years of searching, I am sad to report I have located your wife Maria Consuela Dela Vega Lancer. I’m sorry to report she was murdered four years ago. Your son, Johnny, who found the body, was taken to the orphanage here in Hermosillo, where he spent three years before running away after he tried to hurt another boy with a knife. He has not been seen since, but residents in town suspect he was hiding out in the hills, and came down late at night to pilfer food, and other things. Being around thirteen years of age now, I expect he will make his way north to the border. I will continue to search until you tell me to stop.

Murdered, he loved Maria more than anything, and to know someone had killed her, angered him. Had his son witnessed the murder of his mother? He hated that his son was sent to an orphanage. He had heard how other children could be to someone like Johnny, how even the people who ran the orphanages could be cruel to the children. He was glad his son had escaped there, but for what? Where could an innocent child go in Mexico, and not be abused?


Johnny sat in the corner of the saloon in El Paso, sipping on a beer when he seen the two men walk in. For the past four years he’d built a reputation as a gunfighter. Every day he practiced whenever he could, and got faster, and more deadly. Two men last week found out the hard way just how deadly he was. Standing in the middle of the street in Nogales, he faced, and gunned down both men with such speed, onlookers couldn’t believe a seventeen year old boy beat two grown men before they could even get their guns out. Hiring out his newly acquired skill as a gunfighter in range wars earned him a fast reputation, and the highest dollar. Good at his trade, good, and deadly. Not once had he called a man out, or killed anyone in cold blood. Picking up a gun at thirteen, he decided he needed a name. One that would stand out like other gunfighters he’d heard about. He remembered an old man once in Hermosillo, talking about a place in Spain, called Madrid, a name that would make him a legend in his profession. A name most would fear, and others would hate. At thirteen years of age he faced down his first of many challenges. Some of those challenges in the beginning came at a price. Seven times he’s felt a bullet tear thru his flesh. Seven times in four years he never once sought the help of a doctor. Having learned how to stitch a wound, stop the bleeding, and even remove a bullet. Something most men would never be able to do, but Madrid wasn’t like most men. Most of his life pain played a part in his growing up. Whether it was from being beaten, cut, or even stabbed, he never once cried out in pain, or shed a tear.

Domingo, and Vidal, both gunfighters from Texas, had no code, or respect for the rules of the game. Most gunfighter, at least the honest ones, had a code they lived by, and followed it. Domingo, like to call a man out just to gut shoot him, and watch him die the worst death a man could from a gun.. Vidal, was the worst of the two. He was a coward when it came to facing a man, he preferred shooting them in the back. He also liked to beat women, something Madrid despised any man doing.

“ You see who’s sitting in the corner when we came in?” Vidal asked.

“  If you mean the long haired brunette…….I seen her.” Domingo responded.

“ No, the back corner.” he said.

Domingo looked, and smiled. “ Well, well, well. It’s our lucky day.”

“ You think we can take him?” Vidal asked.

“ The only way you can take Madrid is shooting him in the back. You’re no match for that gun of his. Let’s finish our beer, and go outside so we can start the fun. You go up on the balcony of the hotel down the street with your rifle, and you won’t miss.” Domingo said.

“ And what will you be doing?” he asked.

“ Facing him. I’ll keep him distracted while you shoot him in the back, but don’t kill him. I want to be the one to do that.” Domingo ordered.

“ Looks like he’s going upstairs with that brunette whore. What do we do now?” Vidal asked.

“ He’ll come back down, and when he does, you’ll be ready, and I’ll call him out.” Domingo responded.


Johnny stood up, and pulled his leather pants with silver conchos down the legs up, before sitting back down to put his boots on. Turning his head, he smiled at the naked brunette laying next to him.

“ How old are you Madrid?” she asked.

Johnny smiled. “ Seventeen. Why?”

The woman sat up, and scooted over to him. “ Because you don’t fuck like no seventeen year old. I’ve never had a man go as long as you, or do what you did.”

“ Guess next time I’m thru here, I’ll have to show you an all night good time.” Johnny said before leaning down, and claiming her mouth.

The brunette’s hand instinctively went down into his pants, and started rubbing him hard again as she moaned.

Johnny felt himself starting to respond to her rubbing him. “ Damn.” he said as he deepened the kiss. Standing up just long enough to slip out of his pants again before climbing back in bed, and between her legs as his hardness stood out, ready for another round.

The brunette reached down, and guided him to her entrance as she wrapped her legs around him. “ Show me.” she said as she arched her back, and dug her fingernails into his back.

Johnny couldn’t help but smile as he started to move in and out of her. She wasn’t the first woman wanting more from him, and he knew she wouldn’t be the last. Since he didn’t know how long it would be before he bedded another whore, tonight he would make sure he was fully satisfied, and she was totally exhausted.


Johnny walked out of the saloon three hours later, and stepped down to his horse.

“ Johnny Madrid!” Domingo yelled.

Johnny sighed. He knew without turning around who was calling him out. “ Domingo.” he said as he stepped out into the street, and faced his adversary.  “ You’re a long way from Texas Domingo.”

“ I heard you were the fastest, so I want to see just how fast you are.” Domingo said. “ Let’s see just how bad a gunfighter you are.”

“ You in that much of a hurry to die?” Johnny asked as he noticed a few people on the street stop dead in their tracks. Watching, and waiting. They knew death was seconds away.

Domingo watched as Vidal positioned himself on the balcony behind Madrid, and took aim. “ Time to die Madrid.”

Johnny drew, and fired one shot, killing Domingo. Standing there, scanning the rooftops, he turned and was spun around when a bullet tore into his right shoulder, causing him to drop his gun. Grabbing the colt again, he seen Vidal on the balcony of the hotel taking aim on him again. Firing one shot, he knew he hit his target when he seen Vidal’s head snap back. Standing up, he looked around seen lights coming on, and people coming out doors. Walking to his horse, he mounted up, and rode out of El Paso.


Val Crawford sat drinking coffee as the sun started to rise over the Organ Mountains on the east side of the Rio Grande. Headed back to Mesilla, a hot bath, and to sleep in a bed, and not on the hard ground. For two months he’d been the temporary sheriff of Mesilla as an attempt to stop the stage-line from being robbed. Now that the men responsible were dead, he was free to start hiring out to range wars again.

“ What in tarnation?” he said aloud as he stood up when a horse walked into his camp, its rider slumped over its neck. Pulling his gun, Val walked over to the horse slowly. He could see the riders right arm was soaked in blood. Reaching up, he pulled him off the horse, and noticed the bullet hole in the boys back.

“I don’t know who the hell you are kid, but somebody sure wanted you dead.” Val said as he dug the bullet out of the boys back an hour later. “ Whoever you are, you’ve had more than yur fair share of lead put in ya from the scars I see.”

Val nursed Johnny for three days before he seen the boy finally showing signs of waking up. “ I was beginnin’ ta wonder if you were ever gonna wake up.”

“ Who the hell are you?” Johnny asked softly.

Val poured some water in a cup, walked over to him, and helped him drink. “ Yur horse straggled into my camp three days ago. I coulda left ya to die. I dug the bullet outa yur back, and stitched that one up in yur arm. I don’t think it hit the bone when it tore thru. You wanna tell me who you are, and who shot you?”

Johnny looked at the man a few minutes before he pushed himself with his right arm to sit up. “ I’m obliged to you mister.”

“ You wanted by the law boy?” Val asked.

“ No, I was set up.” Johnny said as he started to stand up.

“ You go tearing them stitches out, I won’t be so inclined to sew you up again.” Val said.

“ Where’s my gun?” Johnny asked.

“ It’s in my saddlebag. I’ll give it back to ya once I know who you are, and decide yur not a wanted man.” Val said.

“ I’m not wanted by the law. My names Madrid……Johnny Madrid.”

“ If’n yur him, how many men did you face, and gun down in Nogales a short time back?” he asked.

“ Two. They called me out late afternoon. Now give me my damn gun old man.”

“ Watch who yur calling an old man……….boy.” Val ordered as he stood up, and walked over to his saddlebags, removed the gun belt, and handed it to Johnny.

Johnny noticed the badge the man wore when he handed him his gun. “ Yur the law. They must have been desperate to hire you.”

“ Boy, you got a mouth on you. I’m the sheriff of Mesilla, names Val Crawford, and I eat smart ale-ck kids like you for breakfast. So show some damn respect.”

“ You the same Val Crawford who fought with  the Arizona Ranges at Apache Pass?” Johnny asked.

“ I am. Got some Skillet coffee if’n ya want some.” he said.

“ Skillet coffee. What, you got something against a coffee pot?” Johnny asked.

“ No, I travel light, I don’t need ta carry a pot when a skillet does the same dang thing. Now if you want some coffee, and feel like ya could eat, sit yur butt down.” Val said in a grumpy voice.

“ You always this grouchy?” Johnny asked as he carefully sat back down. He couldn’t explain it, but for some reason he liked Crawford. Liked him in a way he felt he could trust him, and trust was something Johnny Madrid did very little of.

“ I ain’t grouchy. I just don’t like staying in one place so long.” Val said as he handed him a plate of food. “ How long till you think you can ride?”

“ Thanks. I can ride. You got someplace you need to go, you can leave.” Johnny said.

“ I ain’t leavin you here so you can go and die.” he responded. “You got somewhere to be kid?”

“ I’m not a kid, and no. I go where I want, when I want.” Johnny responded.

“ Seventeen, and been shot nine times. I’d say you need to get away from the border towns Madrid.” Val said. “ Look, I got a place, it ain’t much, but you can stay there until your healed up. Nobody will know you’re there, and you can practice your draw once that arm heals up.”

“ Why?” he asked as he ate the food.

“ Because with your gun arm injured, yur a sitting duck for someone to kill.” Val responded.

“ I’ve had worse, but thanks anyway. I don’t like being a burden to anyone.” he said.

“ Ya ain’t a burden to me……….Damn kid, ain’t ya ever had someone be kind ta ya before?” he asked.

“ Not from no lawman I ain’t.”


Val stood two years later watching Madrid draw and fire. He’d never seen anyone so fast, especially someone as young as Madrid. The kid was a natural with a gun.

“ Yur one deadly sonofabitch with that gun Madrid.” Val said.

“ You mind if an old man tells you a trick that could save you from being shot?” he asked as he walked over to Madrid.

“ You ever look a man in the eyes when you face him?”

“ No, I watch his hand.”

“ Watch his eyes. When a person is about to do something suddenly, his eyes will change. His pupils will get bigger. That little trick alone will give you a second or two advantage over your opponent.” Val responded. “ I’ve never seen anyone as deadly as you are with that gun kid. Especially someone so young. How long you been using it?”

“ About four years.” Johnny said. “ Stop calling me a kid. I grew up a long time ago.”

“ Your parents let you have that smart mouth?” he asked.

Johnny told Val about his mother being murdered, not knowing who his father was, the two years he spent in the orphanage, and how he was treated.

“ I’ve seen some of them orphanages, they ain’t the best place to be. Look, I’m leaving here in a few days. Why don’t you ride with me. There’s a range war brewing in Arizona. We can make some damn good money hiring our gun hands out.”

“ Sounds good to me as long as they pay good.” Johnny said.

“ Listen, I’ve come to know you pretty good the two years we been riding together. I watch you when you hire out, you always stay on the right side of the law, never ride against it. Once you hit rock bottom, your life is pretty much over.”

“ Rock bottom?”

“ When you cross that fine line between good and bad. Never kill a man who isn’t trying to kill you. Don’t hire that gun arm out just to build your reputation up. Make damn sure you keep your morals right. You do that kid, and you won’t become one of those fallen angels, men beyond redemption that the good book talks about.” Val explained.


“ You hear about that range war in Arizona, Murdoch?” Jim Porter asked.

“ I heard there was one. The Diamond A ranch is having a water, property dispute or something.” Murdoch responded.

“ Yeah, some homesteaders thought they could come in from Nebraska and farm it. Know what, or rather I should say who ended that range war?” Jim asked.

“ I’m too busy worrying about my own ranch to be worrying bout a ranch in Arizona Jim.” Murdoch said with agitation.

“ That half-breed killer Johnny Madrid. I heard he shot and killed that sod-buster down in cold blood, and raped his wife. The daughter came home from school and found them.” Porter said.

“ Porter, you’d do better to not believe everything you hear. One of these days it’s gonna get you in trouble. Now if you will excuse me.” Murdoch said before walking away.

“ You won’t feel that way if that killer comes to the San Joaquin valley Murdoch.” Jim said.

Murdoch shook his head as he walked over to visit Sam, before heading back to Lancer. None of the ranchers in the valley cared for Porter. The man came from Wyoming, where it’s reported he lost his land in a range war over sheep.

“ Sounds like Porter is angry about something.” Sam said.

“ I really wish that man had never come here.” Murdoch said.

“ You and a lot of other people.” Sam said. “ Care to join me for lunch?”

“ That’s the best offer I’ve had in a long time.” Murdoch responded.

“ Any word yet?” Sam asked twenty minutes later as they ate lunch.

“ No. Every time I get a report Sam, and it says the same thing, I begin to wonder if I’m not looking for a ghost.” Murdoch said.

“ He’s still alive, and you have to keep believing you will find him.” Sam said. “ He will come home.”

“ I often wonder what he looks like.” Murdoch said.

“  He’s seventeen now, so I imagine he’s tall like his father, with his mothers………..”

“ Have you ever heard of Johnny Madrid?” Murdoch cut in and asked.

“ The gunfighter………..yes, I’ve heard of him. Why?” Sam said, and asked.

“ Porter was telling me Madrid murdered that homesteader in Arizona, and…………raped his wife before killing her.” Murdoch said.

“ You of all people know second hand talk is no good. I’ve seen him once when I was in Tucson. He was called out. He’s not a cold-blooded killer Murdoch. He tried talking the man out of it. I watched that boy stand in that street, shoot the other man. He got on his horse, and rode away. Murdoch, that boy Porter is calling a killer did everything he could to avoid that gunfight.”

“  Did he kill him?” Murdoch asked.

“ No he didn’t.” Sam responded. “ You know, come to think of it, this Johnny Madrid, is the same age as your Johnny. Maybe he’s…..”

“ My son would have nothing to do with the likes of someone like Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said. “ Maria wouldn’t………”

“  Seven years is a long time for him to be on his own. Maybe a family took him in, or he’s found work on one of those big ranches down there.” Sam suggested. “ Have you heard anything from your other son, Scott?”

“ I wrote another letter, but I expect it will be intercepted by Harlan like all the others. Like Johnny’s mother, I expect Harlan has told Scott lies, and that’s why he doesn’t come home.” Murdoch responded.

“ So you don’t know if he knows about his brother then?” Sam asked.

“ No. The only time I’ve ever seen Scott, was on his fifth birthday. I never said anything to Harlan about remarrying, or about Johnny.” he said.

“ Hire a Pinkerton to tell Scott. Harlan can’t stop that.” Sam suggested.

“ I’ve thought about doing just that very thing Sam, but…..”

“ But what?” Sam cut in.

“ I’m a stranger to them. Neither one of my sons know me, and I don’t know them.” he said.

“ Then you do whatever you have to do to bring both them boys home so you can get to know each other, and become a family.” Sam ordered.


“ Let me ask you something Madrid, you ever think about trying to find your pappy?” Val asked as they rode toward Yuma.

“ I did, but it’d be a little hard to do since I don’t know what his name is. Hell, I don’t even know what my real last name is Val.”

“ It’s not Madrid?” he asked.

“ No, Madrid is a name I chose when I started using a gun. I remembered an old man telling me about Madrid, Spain once in a village.”

“ What was your mothers full name?” Val asked.

“ Maria Consuela Dela Vega is what I seen on a paper once.” Johnny said.

“ Well, that’s a start. Tell me what your mother said about your pappy.”

“ She said he threw us out because of me. Said he didn’t want a half-breed for a son. A son who would be a bastard no matter what. He got my mother pregnant, and that that was why he married her.” Johnny said with anger.

“ That anger you got, is that toward your pappy, or your mother?”

Johnny stopped his horse.  “ I hate her for what she did. It’s because of her I was beaten, and abused. She would just stand there, and do nothing to stop it.” he vented. “ I hate him because he wasn’t there to stop it. He wasn’t there to stop Father Enrique from locking me in a closet, beating me, or starving me, just because I’m a half-breed kid…………His half-breed kid.”

“ So he never came after you after your mother died?” he asked. “ Never came and got you from the orphanage?”

“ No I……………..She moved a lot. It would seem like we just got settled in a town or village, and she would move.” Johnny said as he remounted his horse.

“ Maybe that’s why she moved all the time kid. You ever think of that?”

“ She………she would never tell me why, just order me to do as she said, and beat me if I didn’t.” he said. “ I got this scar by my left eye from her for asking once why I always had to leave whenever she brought a man home. She didn’t care what the weather was like. The night she was murdered…….she beat me because I called her a whore…and…….and said I wish she was dead. That’s when she told me the only reason he married her. I came back the next morning, and found her dead. They buried her that afternoon, and I was taken to Mission Santa Maria Suamca orphanage.”

“ Jesus kid.” Val said with sadness. “ Do you want to find him?”

“ I wouldn’t know where to look Val. California is a big state.”

“ True, but there’s these men called Pinkerton’s, they hire out to find people. We can contact them in Yuma. What ya got ta lose?”

“ I don’t know Val, seems like a long shot. Let me think on it some.” Johnny responded.


Mister Lancer

It has been a long seven years of searching, but I have learned why I could not find you son all this time after his mother died. It would seem he has changed his last name. Mister Lancer, your son is reported to be the infamous gunfighter Johnny Madrid. I have not verified this as of yet, but by all accounts from people I have talked too, the description, and age fits perfectly. I have learned Madrid is riding with another man name Val Crawford, for the past two years. The two of them settled a range war for a ranch in Arizona. What I have learned is though a gunfighter, your son is not like any other. All along the border, Johnny Madrid is considered a Patron Saint. He has helped many being wrongfully done, and asked nothing in return but a place to sleep, and food in his stomach. I will keep you apprised of my findings.

Alan Belcher

Murdoch sat in shock after he read the latest Pinkerton report two months later. His son had been found, or at least in part found. Now he understood why for over seven years after the death of his mother, he couldn’t be located. Three years after running away from the orphanage his son, if it was his son, emerged as Johnny Madrid at the age of thirteen. Standing up, Murdoch walked over to the sideboard,  filled a glass half full of scotch, and walked back over to his desk. A gunfighter, of all the things his son could become, why a gunfighter.


“ It’s pretty obvious what your plans are for the night.” Val said as he stood up. “ I’ll see ya in the morning. Have a good time.”

Johnny stood up. “ I plan too.” he said as he walked over to the woman he’d had his eye on most of the night. “ How much for all night?”

“ All night. Three a poke so……”

“ I asked how much for all night.”

“ Names Heather, thirty dollars, and I’m yours for all night.” she said.

“ You got a room upstairs?” Johnny asked.

“ I do. It even has a lock on it so we won’t be disturbed.” Heather said as she looked him up and down. Taking his hand in hers, she led the way to her room upstairs.

Johnny walked into the room and turned around as Heather closed the door, and locked it. Removing his gun belt, Johnny sat down on the bed to remove his boots as Heather started removing what little clothes she had on. Standing up, he stepped out of his pants, and removed his shirt as Heather walked over to him.

“ So what’s your pleasure?” she asked.

Johnny pulled her to him. “ Pleasure.” he said as his right hand ran down between her legs, and started rubbing her folds, causing her to moan as her hands started massaging him hard.

“ You’re off to a good start.” she said as she raised her right leg up, and brought herself closer.

Johnny picked her up, walked her back to the bed, and laid her down as he slid inside her.

“ Oh my, something tells me I’m in for a night of action.” Heather said before  their mouths came together.


“ Your Scott Lancer?” a man asked.

“ Yes I am.” Scott said.

“ The son of Murdoch Lancer?”

“ So I’ve been told. Never met the gentleman myself.”

“ Morsby’s  the name, Pinkerton office. We find people.”

“ I haven’t lost any. So as much as I’ve enjoyed our little conversation.” Scott said before he started to walk away.

“Your father wants to see you, and he’s willing to pay for it. All expenses to California, and a thousand dollars for one hour of your time.” Morsby said.


“ Did you see your lady friend Barbara today?” Harlan asked later that evening as they ate supper.

“ I did. On the way home, I was approached by a Pinkerton agent.” Scott said.

“ A Pinkerton agent. What in the world did he want?” Harlan asked.

“ When I was growing up, did my father ever write to me, or send me anything at Christmas time?” he asked.

“ Why on earth would you ask me that Scotty?” Harlan asked.

“ Could you answer the question sir?”

“ No, Murdoch never once sent you a letter, or anything at Christmas time. He wanted nothing to do with you.” Harlan said. He never wanted Scott to learn his father had wanted him to come to California, to live. Reading every letter sent to him before burning it, angered the man. Especially after reading about him marrying a Mexican whore, and having a half-breed son with her, only to have her run off in the middle of the night, taking the child with her. What his Catherine ever seen in the man, he would never understand. Taking his only daughter to a godforsaken land like California, he would never forgive Murdoch Lancer for doing.

“ If he wanted nothing to do with me my whole life, then why now did he send a Pinkerton man to find me, and tell me he’s been trying to get in touch with me?” Scott demanded.

“ I don’t think I care for your tone young man.” Harlan said.

“ And I don’t care to learn from a complete stranger that you have kept letters from my father from me for twenty four years. That is not a right you have sir.” Scott snapped back.

“ Not a right………I’m the one who raised you Scotty. I raised you while your father built that mud shack he calls a ranch. It’s because of him that your mother died giving birth to you. I’m the one who raised you, and seen to it you got a proper education.” he said firmly.

“  He’s requested I come to California to see him, and I am. I’m leaving on the train tomorrow.” Scott said as he stood up. “ You have done some things grandfather I have been willing to overlook, but not this. You kept me from knowing my father for twenty one years sir. That’s not something I will forgive you for.” he added before heading upstairs.


Johnny came down the back stairs of the saloon the next morning, and headed to the Butterfield stage office where he seen Val sitting in a rocking chair, waiting.

“ Forget it kid. Seems they hired them a couple men two days ago to guard the stage.” Val said.

“ Excuse me, but I’m looking for a man named Madrid, Johnny Madrid. I was told that person is you.”

“ Who the hell are you?”  Val demanded.

“ My name is Alan Belcher, I’m a Pinkerton agent. Are you Johnny Madrid?”

“ I’m Madrid, what do you want?”

“ I finally found you. I have been searching for you, and you mother for seventeen years now.” Alan said. “ Can I ask what your mothers name is?”

“ Maria Consuela Dela Vega.” Johnny said. “  She was murdered seven years ago. Why you been looking for me?”

“ I know She was murdered in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.” Alan responded. “ Your father hired the Pinkerton’s to find you seventeen years ago. I’ve been searching for you the last eight years, when the other man retired.”

“ My father?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes. Mister Lancer would like to see you. He has a ranch outside Morro Coyo, in the San Joaquin valley. Can I tell your father you will come?” Alan asked.

“ My father threw us out when I was a baby.” Johnny responded.

“ Now hold on a minute Johnny. If’n yur pappy threw you out, then why would he have the Pinkerton’s searching for you for seventeen years kid?” Val asked. “ It won’t hurt for you to ride there, and her what the man has to say.”

“ Alright, tell him I’ll come.” Johnny said.

“ Can I tell him when to expect you?” the Pinkerton asked.

“ No, I’ll get there.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ I’ll see that he goes see his pappy. The boy was led to believe his old man threw them out fifteen years ago. Give him some time. He’ll go.” Val said.

“ Very well. I’ll wire Mister Lancer, and let him know he can stop searching, and that his son will come home.” Alan said.

“ What’s his pappy’s name?” Val asked.

“ Murdoch Lancer.” Alan responded.

.

Chapter 2

Murdoch stood outside the telegraph office reading the wire the second of two wires he received.

Found Johnny in Yuma. Stop
He will come to Morro Coyo. Stop
Alan Belcher. Stop
Pinkerton Detective Agency. Stop

“Murdoch, is everything alright?” Sam asked.

Murdoch handed the wire to Sam to read.

“ They found him. I would think you would be happy?” Sam said as he handed the wire back.

“ You………I learned why they couldn’t find him for so long Sam. He changed his name.” Murdoch said.

“ Changed his name………..to what?” Sam asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” he said softly.

“ Johnny M………..You mean to tell me your Johnny is………….?”

“ Apparently so. I don’t know what to do Sam?” Murdoch said.

“ What do you mean you don’t know what to do Murdoch? You  do what you have waited fifteen years to do, you welcome your son home. I’m sure he had his reasons for becoming Madrid. Give the boy a chance to explain.” Sam said.

“ Scott is coming home Sam. He arrives next week.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, that’s wonderful news. You will have both your sons home.” Sam said.

“ They will be strangers to me Sam.” he said.

“ Yes, but the three of you can take time to get to know each other.” Sam suggested. “ Murdoch, it’s been twenty four years for Scott, and seventeen years for Johnny. Make it work.”


Val found Johnny sipping a beer early afternoon. “ Mind some company?” he asked as he sat down. “ I know what’s on yur mind kid. Go see him. Give him a chance to explain the truth to you.”

“ My whole life has been a lie Val. She lied to me, and I will never know why.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t have an answer for you on why she would do that kid. Listen, why don’t we ride to Morro Coyo, and you meet with him?” Val suggested.

“ You don’t have to go with me.” Johnny said.

“ I know I don’t. I want to go cuz that’s what friends do for each other.” Val said.

“ Thanks. I guess we can ride out in the morning. Should take us about twenty days to reach Morro Coyo.” he said.

“ Yur pappy’s name in case you was wondering is Murdoch. I asked that Pinkerton man.” Val said as he watched his friends eyes. “ Yur scared ain’t ya?”

“ What……..no…….I…….I don’t remember him. I was two when she took me from him, but I don’t remember anything about him.” Johnny said. “ Now seventeen years later I will finally meet him.”

“ You was just a baby. Maybe some memories will come back with time when yur in that house again.” Val suggested.

“ I need to see someone in the morning before we leave.” Johnny said.


“ I had hoped you would come see me before you left.” Father Garcia said.

“ I couldn’t leave without seeing the man who saved my life.” Johnny said as he walked up to Father Francisco Garcia, and allowed the man to give him a hug. “ How are you father?”

“ I am good, but I sense you are troubled my friend.” the father said.

“ Is there someplace we can go to talk?” Johnny asked.

“ Of course. Sister, please see to the children when they come. I will be in my office, and wish to not be disturbed for a spell.” Father Garcia said.

“ It has been a few years since I last seen you. How have you been my son?” Father Garcia asked as they entered a room in the back, and he closed the door.

“ Good.” Johnny said.

“ Sit, and tell me what is troubling you.” the father said as he poured them both some lemonade.

“ Thanks……..You remember me telling you what my mother said about my father, what he did when I was a baby?” he asked.

“ Yes. You said she told you he threw the two of you out of his home.” Father Garcia responded.

“She lied to me. Yesterday morning I was approached by a Pinkerton man. He said my old man has been looking for me for seventeen years. That’s why she was always moving from village to village, or town to town. Every time the Pinkerton man got too close to finding us, she moved, and it was always in the middle of the night that we left.” Johnny explained.

“ I see, so now that you know the truth, what are you going to do?” Father Garcia asked.

“ He wants to see me. I thought since I have nothing to lose, I would go. Maybe I could get answers to questions I’ve had for a long time.” Johnny responded.

“ Questions your mother can no longer answer, and refused to answer when she was alive?”  he asked.

“ Yeah. She would beat me every time I ever asked about him. The night she was killed……..she told me he did not want me because I’m a mestizo, a bastard child. He got her pregnant before they were married, and that I would always be a bastard. I told her she lied, that it was her he did not want……………I….I was angry, and hurt………..I ran away, but before I left, I called her a……….and wished she was dead. I didn’t know she would be murdered that very night by the man she was going to be with.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice.

“ You have been carrying blame for her death all these years. What you said to your mother that night did not get her killed John. You need to let go of that, and try to move on. Try to start over with your father. Take some time, and get to know him. Let getting to know your father start your healing.” Father Garcia suggested,

“  And what if he can’t accept me for who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ For a man to search seventeen years for his son, I think he will accept you as Johnny Madrid. Maybe over time, you can become Johnny Lancer. Someone * you * can be proud of being.” Father Garcia responded. “ You were forced to grow up before you should have my son. Thru no fault of your own, your mother put you in a situation that forced this to happen.”

“ Did you investigate the orphanage?” Johnny asked.

“ I wrote Father Martinez, and he said Father Ruhen is no longer there. That he has been relocated to a small town somewhere. That is all I know.” he said.

“ So he’s still with the church? Still free to do to other children what he did to me?” Johnny spat.

“ He is no longer allowed to work at an orphanage. His abusing children was observed on several occasions.” Father Garcia responded.

“ Where is he?” Johnny asked.

“ I do not know, and if I did, I could not tell you because of what I see in your eyes right now.” he responded.


Twenty four year old Scott Garrett Lancer, stepped of the stage in the dusty little town of Morro Coyo, and looked around. No green grass could be seen anywhere, just dirt, and dust. On the ride from the train station in Sacramento, he watched as the terrain changed from green to gold colored rolling hills. To the east, he could see mountains, some still covered in snow. It was dark when the train came over them. He couldn’t understand what anyone could see in such a place. What could his mother have seen in wanting to stay in such a barren place, but mostly, what kind of man was his father. All he really knew about the man was what his grandfather had told him when younger. That the man was responsible for the death of his mother, and wanted nothing to do with him.

“ Scott Lancer.” a voice asked.

“ Yes.” Scott responded.

“ I’m Frank, Mister Lancer was unable to meet you here, and asked me to pick you up. I have a buggy across the street to take you to Lancer.” Frank said as he picked up the luggage.

An hour later, Scott rode in the buggy, looking around at what looked like dried up, barren land. “ What a dry, barren place. What my mother seen in this land I will never understand.”

“ It’s the end of summer, the dry season, come January, everything will be different.” Frank said.

“ You worked for my father long?” Scott asked as he removed a kerchief, and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“ About ten years. He’s a good, fair man to work for.” Frank said.

“ I wouldn’t know about that. I was never a part of his life.” Scott said.

“ That wasn’t his doing. I know for a fact he wrote letters to you numerous times. I know because I’ve taken the letters to be mailed.” Frank said as he stopped the buggy on a hill. “ There it is, as far as the eye can see, Lancer.”

Scott stood up, and looked at the valley below. Impressed at what he seen in the valley below.

Murdoch watched as the buggy came into the yard, with a tall blonde haired man sat next to Frank. When the man got out of the buggy, Murdoch smiled at the slenderness, and height of his oldest son as he climbed down from the buggy,  and looked at the house. Looking toward the foyer, Murdoch mentally prepared to meet his oldest son for the second time in his twenty four years as he watched Scott enter the house, remove his hat, and walk into the grand room.

“ Drink?” he asked.

“ No thank you.” Scott said as he removed his gloves.

“ You got your mothers eyes.” Murdoch said as he poured a drink.

“ What do I call you? Under the circumstances father hardly seems…..”

“ Call me anything you like. We’re strangers to each other. Maybe that’s my fault, maybe it isn’t.” Murdoch cut in, and said.

“ No apology necessary.” Scott said.

“ You’ll get no apology from me. If the air needs clearing…….lets clear it.  Your mother’s family thought she was daft to marry me. Not a year off the boat from Inverness, and maybe they were right. You were born, she died. I left you in their hands, period.” Murdoch said gruffly. This isn’t how he wanted their first meeting to go, but the cards had been drawn.

“ I believe you left out the part where you came to Boston on my fifth birthday and seen me sir.” Scott said. “ I believe grandfather introduced you as a friend of his. What I don’t understand is why? Why did you not speak up then, and tell me you were my father?”

“ There’s no reason to dredge up the past. What we got is here and now. That has to be all that counts. You understand that don’t you son?”

“ Yes, I understand that. That means don’t ask questions. Especially why you never came to Boston to claim me.”

“ I wanted to son, but your grandfathers exact words were that it would be a bit premature. That you were only five years old. I told him you were old enough to know your own father. Harlan said he was your father, that you accept him as that. I told him I had come prepared to take you back home with me. He asked me if I was as prepared as he was. That it would take years to fight his legal guardianship with you endlessly dragged in court as a key witness. He asked me what I could give you to replace all that you had living with him. Years of court battles, and if I was lucky, a desolate stop of sand and rock to play on instead of grass. A mud hut to live in instead of a comfortable home. I thought when I went there, I was prepared to win you back, but I wasn’t.” Murdoch explained. “ I wanted to take you with me. There just wasn’t any way.”

“ But you’re my father!” Scott said with a raised voice.

“ Nobody knows that better than I do, and I’m grateful…….”

“ Grateful for what? Because you let somebody else raise your son?” Scott demanded.

“ I understand your being upset with me son. Believe me I do. If I could go back and change everything I would.” Murdoch said as he shook his head. “ I’ve lived twenty four years without you in my life. Twenty four years of heartache. I wrote to you numerous times every year. I sent you gifts for your birthday, and Christmas every year for those twenty four years.”

“ Is that offer of a drink still good?” Scott asked.

“ Of course it is. I have scotch, rye whiskey, brandy, bourbon, rum, and tequila.” Murdoch responded.

“ Brandy will do.” Scott said. “ You said earlier that we are strangers to each other. That you came from Inverness. Why did you come here?”

“ Yes. I came here thirty years ago. I left Scotland, and my family wanting a better life, my ship docked in Boston Harbor four months later. I found a job working the docks in a storage warehouse for your grandfather. That’s how I met your mother. Catherine was a thing of beauty. Her eyes were a soft blue like yours, she had beautiful blonde hair. We seen each other for just over a year. I saved up all the money I could, and we came west. When we topped that hill, and looked down at this place, your mother said she wanted a rose garden out back. I bought Lancer, and with your mother by my side, we made it our home.” Murdoch explained.

“ You left family back in Scotland?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. I have a brother still living there. He has a few sheep and Scottish Highland cattle.” Murdoch said.

“ How many acres is Lancer?” he asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres, twenty  thousand head of beef. The finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch said. “ I love this ground more than anything God ever created. I have a gray hair for every good blade of grass you see out there.”

Scott noticed a map on the wall, and walked over to it. He noticed the letter L in a circle in the bottom left corner. The map consisted of roads, streams, canyons, even a mine. He also noticed seven other ranches on the map that surrounded his fathers property. 

“ I have two line shacks for spring and fall round-up. North Mesa we use in the fall when castrating calves, and South Mesa we use in the spring during round-up, and branding. I keep both well stocked with food for the hands.” Murdoch explained.

“ I see the road the stage came in on crosses Lancer.” Scott said.

“ It does along the border of the property. The Conway ranch sits between Lancer, and where we drive the cattle to market. I’ve known Aggie for a long time. She’s one of my oldest, dearest friend. She knows Lancer drives cattle across her property here.” Murdoch said as he pointed to an area on the map. “ Listen, I’m sure you’re tired from your long journey. Why don’t you go upstairs, freshen up, and rest?”

“ I am a little tired.” Scott said.

“ Let me show you to your room. We can talk more during supper at six.” Murdoch said as he started toward the stairs.


Val sat looking across the fire at his friend. He could tell the boy was troubled about something. He knew Johnny had went to the church before they left. “ You’ve hardly said anything all day. Are you alright?” he asked.

Johnny looked over at him, but didn’t speak.

“ I’m a good listener if you want to talk.” Val said.

“ Thanks, but this is something I have to work out myself Val.” Johnny said.

“ You know, the Indians have a saying I think about sometimes.” he said.

“ Yeah, what’s that?” Madrid asked.

“ Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.” Val responded. “ Just take one day at a time kid. Don’t go fretting over what might happen. Just take what does happen.”

“ Yeah, but does that apply to someone like me?’ Johnny asked softly.

“ Why not. You think just because you made a living by that gun on yur hip for the last six years it doesn’t?” Val demanded.

“ Why not. All a gunfighter is, is a fallen angel sent down from above the good book says. Men beyond redemption.” he replied.

“ Kid, if you believe that, then you might as well let the next fool who calls you out, kill you.” Val snapped back. “ I’ve seen a lot of gunfighters in my time. What I see in you is what they call a kindred spirit. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t care about others. You wouldn’t hire that gun hand out to the right side.”

“ Anyone ever tell you how much of a pain in the ass you can be?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah, but I don’t let what others say about me bother me. It’s just words. Sure words can hurt, but………..Let me ask you this. Does it bother you when someone calls you a half-breed, or mestizo?” Val responded, and asked.

“ Alright Val, you can stop your preaching. I hear what you’re saying.” Johnny said as he stood up, and tossed his coffee.

“ Good. Listen, I’m gonna ride on over into Nevada, but I’ll be back kid. You give yur pappy a chance.” Val said.


Scott came downstairs at five thirty wearing a lounge suit, white shirt, and black string tie. Not seeing his father he walked around the room, looking at all the fine furnishings. The plush couch and chairs, the two high-backed leather chairs in front of his desk. The desk wasn’t as big as the one his grandfather used, but had beautiful carving on the legs. Walking around to look at it closer, Scott notice two pictures on the desk. The one he knew  was his mother, because his grandfather had the same picture. It was the other picture that had him a little puzzled. A what appeared to be Mexican woman wearing a beautiful dress. He could tell the picture was taken in this room of both women, because of the Lancer map on the wall behind them in the pictures. Setting the picture down, he continued to walk around the room. The one wall behind the huge dining table had several shelves full of books, something that always intrigued him. In a corner of the room on his right was a pair of blue chairs with a small table between them. On the wall above the chairs hung a gun rack full of rifles. Winchesters mostly. One rifle in particular caught his attention. On the end of the rack was a rifle he was very familiar with using. Taking the rifle down, he smiled slightly as he looked the rifle over.

“ I see you found my newest rifle.” Murdoch said.

“ 1872 legendary Sharps .52 caliber. I used one during the war.” Scott responded.

“ Do you still have it son?” he asked.

Scott put the rifle back on the rack. “ No sir. I lost it when I was captured during the last year of the war.” Scott said. “ I spent a year in Libby prison.”

“ I heard horrible things about Libby, and Andersonville. I’m glad you made it out alive.”  Murdoch said.

“ Can I ask you who the Mexican woman is in the photo on your desk?” Scott asked, changing the conversation. Though it had been two years since he walked out of Libby prison a free man.

“ That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about tonight son. I want you to keep in mind that what I’m going to tell you, by no means take away how much I loved your mother.” Murdoch said. “ A couple of years after your mother died, I met a woman when in Matamoros, Mexico at a cantina I stopped at. We had a short whirlwind courtship, and got married. We had a son together named Johnny. Two years later I awoke one morning and found her gone. She had packed up in the middle of the night, and left, taking Johnny with her. He was two when she left. For seventeen years I’ve had a Pinkerton man searching for them. He learned a short time ago that Maria was murdered almost nine years ago down in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Your brother, Johnny was placed in an orphanage where he stayed for three years being abused until he was able to run away one day. I have all the Pinkerton letters if you would like to read them?”

“ That won’t be necessary sir. Go on.” Scott said.

“ Belcher searched for Johnny, and finally found him in Yuma. He’s coming home to see me. Now I don’t know if he will stay or not. I’m hoping he does.” Murdoch said.

“ Why did it this man Belcher so long to locate him?” he asked.

“ Because he was going by a different last name. Remember he was a baby when Maria took him from me. She left me a letter, this letter.” he said as he handed the letter to Scott to read.

Murdoch

Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Your first wife, had she lived probably would have left you also. Now you have nothing to hold you back from building your fine estancia you want.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

“ She sounds like a bitter woman who used your son as a pawn.” Scott said.

“ Son, the name your brother goes by is well known along the border, and in Mexico. He’s known as Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said.

“ Letter says her last name is Dela Vega. If yours is Lancer, why does he go by Madrid?” he asked.

“ I don’t know why. Son, your brother is a gunfighter. One of the best, and he’s only seventeen. It would seem he emerged as Johnny Madrid four years after his mother was killed.” he replied.

“ A gunfighter. I’ve heard of the profession.” Scott said. “ Fallen angels brought down to hell the good book says. Men beyond redemption.”

“ I don’t think that’s true of your brother. He’s only nineteen. I doubt he’s hit rock bottom yet.” Murdoch responded.

“ You say he’s coming here, to Lancer?” he asked.

“ Yes. I don’t know when he will be arriving though. It’s at least a twenty day ride from Yuma, so I expect he should be arriving sometime in the next two weeks.” Murdoch said.

“ Should be an interesting meeting.” he said.

“ So you’re not upset?” he asked.

“ Why would I be upset that you found someone to love again after my mother died.” Scott said.

“Can I ask what your plans are?” Murdoch asked.

“ Well, I have been thinking about that. I believe the first thing I should do is buy the proper attire to wear if I am going to be working on this ranch.” Scott responded. “ I’ve never worked on a ranch, but I can learn, and I’m a hard worker.”

“ Alright, we can ride into Spanish Wells, tomorrow and purchase the clothing you will need. You don’t have to start working right away. Take some time, maybe ride around the ranch and get to know it, and the men.” Murdoch suggested.


“ Sam, I would like you to meet my oldest son Scott.” Murdoch said. “ Scott, this is Sam Jenkins.”

“ Well Scott, it’s a long time coming, it’s good to meet you.” Sam said.

“ Sam is the only doctor in the valley.” Murdoch said.

“ It’s good to meet you Mister Jenkins.” Scott said.

“ Call me Sam. Mister Jenkins sounds so formal.” Sam said as they shook hands. “ I must say, you have your mothers eyes.”

“ That’s what I told him.” Murdoch said.

“ We are just on our way to eat lunch, would you like to join us Mister………Sam?” Scott asked.

“ I would like to, but I’m on my way out to the Carter home. Young Timmy decided to fall from that tree, and break his right arm.” Sam said.

“ Martha said he would eventually do just that.” Murdoch said.

“ Any word from Johnny?” Sam asked.

“ No, no word. I guess he’ll show up when he’s ready. Why don’t you come out for supper on Sunday?” Murdoch responded.

“ That sounds good. I just might do that. Maybe Scott can enlighten me on some of the things Boston has?” Sam said. “ I’ll see you.”

“ He seems like a very nice man. You known him long?” Scott asked as they walked to the cafe.

“ I’ve known Sam twenty three years. He delivered your brother.” Murdoch said as they walked into the cafe, and sat down at a table.

“ What was he like?” Scott asked.

“ Your brother? He was very independent. Especially when he started crawling, and then walking. Once he……….once he started walking, there was no stopping him. That boy was so damn fast. My cook, Maria, she spoiled him rotten. She was stern on keeping him in line when in the kitchen. Your brother learned real fast just how much a wooden spoon hurts. Now I don’t mean she beat him with it. She would just tap him on his hand, and that boy thought he was being beat. He would come running to me, and point at Maria as she chased him into the grand room.”

“ He sounds like a handful.” Scott said. “  Putting aside who he is, or became, what do you think he’s like?”

“  I think he’s a caring person. From what Belcher has learned so far, he’s never crossed the line. He’s not wanted by the law for anything that he could find on this side of the border.” Murdoch said.

“  You say that like he might be wanted on the other side of the border in Mexico.” Scott said.

“ He killed six Rurales. Belcher couldn’t learn why, but said he is a wanted man in Mexico. He also learned that Johnny does what he does for nothing more than a place to sleep, and food in his stomach.” Murdoch said.

“ What is a Rurale?” Scott asked.

“ Mexican Army.” he said. “ If Johnny has killed Rurales, he’ll have a bounty on him.”

“ But coming here, won’t he be safe from these Rurales?” he asked.

“ The Rurales yes, but not other gunfighters, or men who know he has a bounty on his head in Mexico.” Murdoch responded.

“Do you think he knows this?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know son.” Murdoch replied.

Scott could hear worry in his father’s voice. “ I know you want him to come home, but with all you now know about who he is, and what could happen, do you still feel that way?”

“  Yes I do. I’ve spent thirty years building Lancer up. It’s all I have to leave you boys. I would like to make you and your brother third owners in Lancer.” Murdoch responded.

“ A third owner. That’s a very generous offer.” Scott said.

“ Would you accept it?” he asked.

“ I have no plans of returning to Boston, but do you think he will accept?” he asked.

“  I’m hoping he does. I want him to live a life not as a gunfighter. I can’t force him to stay. I can only ask him to stay.” Murdoch said. “ Can I ask why since I told you you have a younger brother, you haven’t once called him by name, or referred  him in a sentence as your brother.”

“ I was not aware I had not. I will say, it is a shock to learn I have a little brother. Especially to learn he is a gunfighter.” Scott responded. “ Tell me something sir. Did my grandfather know about your second wife, and that I have a brother?”

“ Only if he read the letters I wrote to you telling you. I talked about Johnny, and how I had still not found him in at least one letter a year to you.” his father said.

“ The letters. I never received any of your letters sir. Grandfather intercepted them I believe. When I asked him about it at dinner after talking to the Pinkerton man, he denied it. He said you never wrote to me, and that you didn’t want me.” Scott said.

“ I wrote to you son. Your grandfather was angry because your mother married me, and then came here with me.” Murdoch said.

“ Your man Frank also said he took your letters to mail.” Scott added. “ I do want you to know I don’t need anything from Grandfather, except the truth, but I highly doubt I will ever get the truth from that man.”

“ I’m sorry son. I never meant to cause trouble between you and your grandfather.” Murdoch said.

“ My grandfather made his own bed. He can sleep in it.” Scott responded.

“  How about tomorrow I take you around the ranch, and let you meet some of the men?” Murdoch asked.

“ Alright. I look forward to it.” Scott said.


Johnny rode up to the big house, and dismounted as the sun set behind the San Benito mountains. All afternoon he rode around the perimeter of the huge ranch, staying out of sight of the hands. Walking up to the door, he stood there trying to decide if he should knock, or just open the door, and walk in. It was after-all, his father’s home. His father, hell he didn’t even know the man, let alone what he would say to him.

“ Can I help you?” Scott asked as he walked up to him.

“ I’m looking for……….is this Lancer?” Johnny stammered.

“ It is, I’m Scott Lancer. If you are here about a job………..” Scott said as he went to open the door.

“ Your father……….Murdoch Lancer is your father?” Johnny cut in.

“ He is. Can I ask what your business is here?” Scott responded, and asked.

Johnny stood there in shock. Clearly this man was older than him by at least five years. Confused, he started for his horse, but stopped when he came almost face to face with an older man.

“ Johnny.” Murdoch said.

Johnny started to his horse, but was stopped when his left arm was grabbed. Frozen in fear, he started to tremble.

Murdoch felt his son start to tremble as he held his arm. “ Son, don’t leave.”

Unable to speak, Johnny glanced at the tall blonde man walking over closer to him. “ Johnny……….I’m your brother. Please………come inside……….Please.”

Murdoch let go of Johnny’s arm. “ I’ve searched for you for so long son. I don’t want to lose you again.” he pleaded.

“ Come inside, have supper with us.” Scott suggested. “ I would like to get to know my little brother, and for him to get to know me too.”

“  Don’t beg him son. I don’t want your brother doing anything he’s not ready to do.” Murdoch said before heading inside.

Scott stood there looking at his little brother a few seconds before heading inside.


“ He’s been standing out there for twenty minutes now.” Scott said.

“ His life hasn’t been an easy one son. You have to remember, Johnny didn’t grow up with luxury, and fine things like you did. He never had security after his mother’s death. He’ll come in when he’s ready. Let’s eat.”

Johnny walked in thru the veranda doors, and stopped. Looking around, he couldn’t believe the size of the room.

“ Are you alright?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny ignored his father, and started walking around the room, looking at everything. All the plush, fine furniture, and tables. The paintings on the walls, a model of a ship behind what he assumed was his father’s desk.

“ You want a drink?” Murdoch asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ Tequila.” Johnny said. Anger burned inside him as he thought about how poor he lived in Mexico, seeing all this. “ You been living in this big fancy house, with all these fancy things in it, food in your belly every day, clothes on your back all these years?”

“ What did your mother tell you?” he asked.

“ I think I will leave you two alone to talk.” Scott said.

“ Why? Does it bother you that I came back? That you’re not the only son he has? Or does it bother you that your half-brother is a half-breed?” Johnny said.

“ Until two weeks ago I didn’t know anything about you.” Scott said. “ I was merely being courteous.”

“ How could you not know anything about me, or my mother being his wife?” he demanded.

“ Scott didn’t grow up here.” Murdoch cut in. “ Catherine died right after she had Scott. He was raised by his grandfather back in Boston.”

“ Why’d you marry her if you were only going to throw us out?” Johnny asked.

“ I never threw Maria out. I awoke one morning and found her gone, you along with her. She ran off in the middle of the night with a man she met, a gambler or something. I searched for you whenever I could for two years, after which I hired a Pinkerton man.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny downed the shot of tequila, set the glass down, and walked over to the fireplace.  “ Did my mother know I had a brother?”

“ Yes. I told her about my first marriage. I kept no secrets from her.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny wrapped his arms around himself, hugging himself tightly as his body trembled. Dropping his head so his chin touched his chest.

Murdoch walked up behind his youngest. He could see the boy was trembling. “ Johnny, I know this is all a shock to you, and for that son, I’m sorry. I don’t know why she left me, or why she lied to you. I want to show you something I’ve kept for seventeen years. It’s the note your mother left me the night she left.” he said as he went to his desk, and opened the bottom drawer. Taking the file out, he walked back over to Johnny, and handed it to him. “ Read this son. I want no secrets between us. This is everything I have on you. All I know, and I would like to know if any of it is inaccurate when you finish. Me and Scott will be out on the portico to give you some privacy, and if you want to talk.”

Johnny took the file, and walked over to the couch to sit down. Opening the file, he seen a note right on top signed by his mother.

Murdoch
Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Eyes that will always make him a half-breed. Your half-breed bastard son.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

A tear ran down his cheek as he read the hateful words his mother wrote. His biggest never to be answered question will always be why did she lie to him?


“ Do you think it was wise letting him read those so soon?”  Scott asked.

“ I want no secrets between us son. Any of us. I figured showing him that note his mother left me all those years ago would help him understand I had nothing to do with her leaving.” Murdoch responded.

“ He seems pretty overwhelmed just from seeing the inside of the house.” Scott said.

“ I noticed that too. I hate that he grew up without all this. That as his father, I couldn’t protect him.” Murdoch said with sadness.

“ This could have repercussions beyond repair sir. He seems the type who doesn’t want to talk, especially about his past.” Scott said.

“ All we can do is listen when he does want to talk son. If he decides to stay, and I hope he does, I want you two to get to know each other.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked out the doors to join them.

“ How long after you met her until the two of you married?” Johnny asked.

“ Not long son. It was a whirlwind courtship.” his father said.

“ So you got her pregnant before the two of you got married. Is that why you married her………..because of me?” he demanded.

“ Absolutely not son. I loved your mother……….I”

“ I asked you how long?”

“ I believe it was four months.” Murdoch responded.

“ Four months  is hardly time enough to know someone. Especially to marry that person.” Johnny said with some agitation to his voice.

“ Son, your mother was a thing of beauty. She took my breath away with her beauty. There’s times when………”

“ Was it the same with his mother? Did you bed her before you were married?” Johnny demanded.

“ What happened between my father, and mother is of no concern of yours!” Scott said firmly as he stepped closer.

“ I’m just wondering if what he considers love was really lust?” he asked.

“  Young man…….I love both my wives with all my heart, and that is all you need to know.” Murdoch responded. “ I’m sorry your mother took you away from your home. I’m sorry you had to live the life you did. I’m sorry you had to start living by that gun on your hip to survive.  I………we both lost something neither of us can ever get back son. All we can do is move forward. What happened in the past is dead and gone. Can we try to be a family now?”

“ You want to be a family knowing who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ Who you are is my son, Johnny Lancer, but if having you here as my son means I have to accept you as  Johnny Madrid also, then I will.  I will accept that, and all the risk that comes with it.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Men will come, maybe not right away, but men will come, and they will call me out. I’m the best old man. I have a reputation men will try and kill me for. You really willing to accept that?” he asked.

“ Yes by god. Lancer takes care of its own.” he said.

“ You want me to stay, then you need to know, both of you need to know……..men will find me, and they will call me out to dance.” Johnny said.

“ To dance?” Scott asked.

“ Gunfight.” Murdoch said.

“ Gunfight. You mean………..”

“ What I mean is men want my reputation, and the only way they can get it, is to kill me.” Johnny said.

“ We may not know each other………….yet, but I will be damned if I’m going to allow any man to try and kill my little brother just so he can have a damn reputation.” Scott said with anger.

“ Where’d you grow up at?” Johnny asked.

“ Boston.”

“ Boston, bet you got yourself one of those fine educations, lived in a rich house with fine clothes and such.” Johnny said. “ Tell me something Boston, how many times you go to bed hungry? How many times did you sleep out in the cold?”

“  I was in the war, so I know about sleeping out in the cold, and being hungry, because I did it fighting for what was right for four years.”  Scott said with a raised voice. “ I also spent just over a year in Libby prison, starving, watching men die of starvation, sickness, or freezing to death, killing themselves to end their suffering…….and all while the guards laughed. I watched as men waited until someone died, or was near dead before they took the dead man’s clothes off him so they could try and stay warm.”

Johnny stared at his brother, unable to speak for a few seconds. “ War isn’t the hell Boston…….prison is.”

“ I would have to concur with you on that little brother.” Scott said.

“ Will you stay?” Murdoch asked.

“ I make no promises……..and have nothing planned…….so yeah, I’ll stay.” Johnny responded. “ But I need to know something. What do you want from me?”

“I want no favors from either of you……….I want your arms, and your legs, and your guts, if you have any.” Murdoch said.

“ Alright, suppose I come up with all these arms, legs, and guts you’re talking about. What do you come up with?” Madrid asked.

“ One third!” he said.

Of what?” Johnny asked.

“ Everything you see out there………one hundred thousand acres, ten thousand head of cattle, and the finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch said.

“ One third…………..Just like that?”

“ Yes, one third to each of you. Only I call the tune.” Murdoch explained.

“ The look in your eyes tells me he already asked you. Did you accept?” he asked.

“  I did. There’s nothing for me back in Boston.” Scott replied.

“ What about the man who raised you back in Boston?” Johnny asked.

“ My grandfather, and I no longer see eye to eye on things.”

“ Listen, it’s getting late, so why don’t we all get a good night’s sleep, and have breakfast in the morning. Then we can ride into Green River, and see my lawyer Randall, and take care of the contract.” Murdoch suggested.


Scott opened his brothers door slowly, and called out softly. Getting no response, he walked in, and seen Johnny sleeping on his right side. Walking around the bed, Scott gasped as he seen the scars on his brothers back. Reaching down, he gently shook his brothers left shoulder, and stumbled backward as he found himself staring at the business end of his brothers colt.

“ Your habit of sneaking around in another man’s room almost got you killed………..brother.” Johnny said.

“ I………I’m sorry. I wanted to make sure you were awake for breakfast is all.” Scott stammered. “ Do you always sleep with that gun?”

“ Only two things share my bed, a good woman next to me, and my colt under my pillow.” Johnny said. “ Now………why don’t you go on downstairs and tell the old man I’ll be along shortly.”

“ Johnny…………your back……What happened to you?”

“ I’m not at liberty to tell someone I just met about my past.” he responded.

“ Alright.” Scott said as he walked to the door, and headed back downstairs.

.

Chapter 3

“ Is your brother awake?” Murdoch asked.

“ He is, and will be down directly.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee, and sat down.

“ Something wrong son?” Murdoch asked. He could tell something was bothering his oldest.

“ Those Pinkerton reports…….did they say anything about him being abused?” Scott asked.

“ No, just that he had been shot. Why?”

“  He…………..Johnny has scars on his back. Scars from being whipped.” Scott said.

“ Are you sure son?” he asked with concern in his voice.

“ As sure as I’m sitting here. I’ve seen scars like that on slaves during the war.” he said.

“ Did you ask him about them?” he asked.

“ I did, and he said he is not at liberty to discuss his past with someone he just met.” Scott responded.

“ I think with Johnny, we are both going to have to go slow, learn what we can, and not press him about what we don’t know about his past son.”

“ I figured I would start doing that tomorrow.” Scott said. “ That section of fence needs fixed along the salt slough.”

“ He may not be to happy about that.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the kitchen.

“ What won’t I be happy about old man?” Johnny asked as he walked into the kitchen.

“ Son…..could you  not call me that please?” Murdoch asked.

“ I could, but given the circumstances, calling you father hardly seems right.” Johnny responded as he sat down.

“ Debes mostrar respeto a tu padre.”( You should show respect to your father.) Maria said as she brought a platter of eggs, bacon, and biscuits to the table.

“ El respeto debe ser ganado por mí, debe ser brindado por mí.”( Respect has to be earned by me, to be given by me.) Johnny responded as he reached for the spoon.

Maria slapped Johnny’s hand away with anger in her eyes.

“ What the hell….You need to teach your hired help.”

“ Son, Maria isn’t hired help. She’s family.” Murdoch said.

“ Family of who?” Johnny asked.

“ Maria has been cooking for me for twenty seven years. She helped Sam deliver you, and raise you. So I expect you to show her respect.” Murdoch responded.

“ Me criaste?” ( You raised me?) he asked.

“ Si. Eras mi angelito de ojos azules. Me rompió el corazón cuando tu madre te alejó de tu padre…y de mí.”( Yes. You were my little blue-eyed angel. It broke my heart when your mother took you away from your father……and me.)

“ ¿Cómoera ella, mi madre?”( What was she like, my mother?)

“ Ella te amaba mucho, pero un año después de que naciste, se volvió distante y triste…he dicho demasiado. Come, estás demasiado flaco.” ( She loved you very much, but a year after you were born, she became distant toward you, and sad…….I have said to much. Eat, you are too skinny.)

Johnny sat staring at the woman. A woman who knew his mother, and him when he was a baby. A woman who could fill in two years of his life he knew nothing about.

“ Eat up boys. I want to meet with Randall before noon.” Murdoch said.


“ Sign there!” Randall said as he placed the agreement in front of Scott.

Scott signed his name, and laid the pen down.

“  Just above your name!” Randall said as he placed the paper in front of Murdoch.

Johnny stood chewing on the stampede string to his hat as he watched his brother, and father sign a piece of paper that would change his life forever. Once he signed, he would be a third owner of the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin valley, but did he have a right to it? Did he have a right to put lives in possible danger if someone came calling him out? Did he have a right to try and live a life as a son, and brother, and not as a gunfighter anymore? Most of last night he sat up thinking about these three questions, and every time he would come to the same conclusion.

“ And you sir!” Randall said as he offered the pen to Johnny.

“ Oh Mister Randall, I should have told you, that last name should read, John Madrid, not Lancer.” Murdoch said, hoping his son wouldn’t think he had changed his mind, or was ashamed of him.

“ I’ll fix it in a minute.” Randall said.

“No,………let it stand.” Johnny said as he took the pen, and signed his birth name for the very first time, John Lancer.

Scott looked at his father, and smiled. He worried, and prayed his little brother would still agree to this, and give up the only life he ever knew for a better, safer life.

“ Congratulations Murdoch, you now have both of your sons as part owners of Lancer. I’ll get this filed in Sacramento right away.” Randall said.

“ It’s been a long time coming.” Murdoch said.

“ How about a cold beer to celebrate?” Scott suggested.

“ Having a cold beer with both my sons is something I have waited a long time to do.” Murdoch said as the three Lancer men walked out of the lawyers office, and headed to the saloon.

“ So what do you want from us now?” Johnny asked twenty minutes later as they sat sipping a cold beer.

“ Well, you will work six days a week from seven until five. You will be paid a dollar a day like everyone else.  Breakfast and supper are served at six sharp, except Sundays. I attend church in Morro Coyo, and usually eat in town before I come home.” Murdoch explained.

“ I don’t go to church. Got no reason to.” Johnny said. “ So basically all me a Boston are is hired hands to you?”

“ No, you are my sons,  and you will do your share of the work. I expect when I assign a job, that job is finished at days end. If not, I would like an explanation why it wasn’t. Your last name is Lancer, therefore you can ramrod when the need comes up, but I call the tune. Any and all changes, purchases for the ranch, and jobs must be approved by me. All receipts are put in a ledger,and at months end the books have to be balanced for taxes. I will teach the two of you how I do that, and you will spend a day doing the books. You will be rounding up, branding, and castrating cattle in the fall. We usually do that at the North Mesa line-shack. Every three years I drive the steers to market. On occasion I sell beef to the army or miners.” Murdoch responded, and explained.


Johnny and Scott rode into the yard, and dismounted a year later. Both brothers had become close, always bantering, back and forth, getting to know each other better. “ Looks like Murdoch has a visitor..” Scott said as they dismounted.

“ Horse has come a long way.” Johnny said as he looked the horse over.

“ Well, let’s go see who our visitor is.” Scott said as they walked into the house.

“ I’ll be in in a second.” Johnny said.

“ Aah Scott, I’m glad you’re home.” Murdoch said. “ Where’s your brother?”

“ He will be in in a minute.” Scott responded.

“ We have a visitor I want you both to meet.” Murdoch said.

“ We seen the horse. It looks like it’s been rode pretty far.” Scott said.

“ Joe, I want you to meet my oldest son Scott. Scott, this is a dear old friend, Joe Barker.” Murdoch said.

“ Mister Barker.” Scott said as they shook hands.

“ Scott, your father has told me a lot about you. I knew your mother.” Joe said.

“ And this is my other son, Johnny.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the room.

“ Johnny Madrid!” Joe said.

“ You two know each other?’ Murdoch asked.

“ Not personally. I know Madrid from seeing him gun down two men in my town.” Joe said. “ Murdoch, did you say this is your son?” he asked.

“ I did, Maria’s boy, he came home a little over a year ago.” Murdoch said.

“ What brings you here Mister Barker?” Scott asked, hoping to change the direction of conversation.

“ I was headed to Sacramento, and thought I would stop and see an old friend.” Joe said. “ I didn’t know both your sons came home.”

“ They did, and I couldn’t be happier.” Murdoch said. “ They came back a couple weeks apart.”

“ Do you know who your son Johnny is?” he asked.

“ I know who he was, and who he is now, and who he is now is all that matters.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, your so called friend turned me over to a lynch mob. I was seconds away from stretching a rope when I was able to escape. That’s what kind of man your so called friend is.” Johnny said as he walked closer to Barker.

“ Johnny……….”

“ Stay out of this Scott.” Johnny ordered.

“ No….I won’t brother. I know what you are planning, and I’m going with you.” Scott responded firmly. “ You will need someone you can trust with you.”

“ Now wait just one minute.” Joe ordered. “ Murdoch, I don’t……….”

“ I don’t give a damn what you want.” Johnny said as he stepped closer to Barker.

Murdoch stood frozen, unable to move. He’d never seen this side of his son before. For the past year Johnny had been home, they had gotten along, and not once had they had trouble. His gut screamed to stop his son, but he couldn’t move. Instead he stood frozen as his son went from being Johnny Lancer, to being Johnny Madrid in a matter of seconds.

“ Murdoch, you better say something to your son!” Joe ordered.

“ Johnny…….he’s not worth it brother.” Scott said as he stepped closer, and put a hand on his brothers right arm.

“ Is what he said true Joe? Did you turn my son over to be hanged by a lynch mob?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Murdoch, you don’t understand. I did what I had to do to save my town from being burned down. Those two men he gunned down had a lot of friends.” Joe responded. “ Listen, I didn’t know he was your son.”

“ You wear a badge, and represent the law. A gunfighter is just as much entitled to the protection of the law as any other man is. Those two men called him out. They started the trouble, and got what they deserved. You turned him over to be hung. You have no right wearing that badge, and I want you to leave my house.” Murdoch ordered.

Joe stood looking at his friend.” Murdoch, you know nothing about this boy, and he pops back up in your life suddenly.”

“ He’s my son Joe. I know him better than I know you.” Murdoch said.

“  You were asked to leave, since you don’t hear so well. Now you can either walk out those doors, or be carried out those doors.” Scott said firmly.


“ Can I come in?” Murdoch asked his son.

“ I know why you came up here. You want to know the whole story on what I said earlier?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes I would, but that’s not why I came up here son. I came up here to apologize to you for allowing that man in our house. I thought I knew him……….”

“ Murdoch, how well do you ever really know someone?” Johnny asked.

“ I would like to get to know my son better.” Murdoch said. “ I know you don’t like to talk about your past son, and as your father, I can respect that. I don’t want to lose what we’ve built together this past year. I don’t want to lose you. I lost you once, I can’t lose you again.”

“ Your friend was the sheriff of Lordsburg. I stopped for the night to sleep in a bed. I came out of the hotel the next morning, and two men called me out. He locked me up for three days after, and then proceeded to hand me over to a lynch mob to be hanged. I don’t like killing Murdoch. I always believed that when a man gets to a point where they take killing lightly, he needs to find a different profession. It’s not a good thing to kill a man, or cause a man to get killed. It makes you sick inside.” Johnny said. “ You know……………..It’s easy to kill a man……………But it’s impossible to bring him back to life again.”

“ Son, I never once thought you took killing a man lightly. I’ve never seen you called out, and I pray I don’t, but if I’m with you, and you are, I will do ……….”

“ You will do nothing.” Johnny cut in. “ You interfere, and you will get me killed. I can’t be distracted when I’m facing someone fully intent on killing me.”

“ Son……..I can’t………”

“ I mean it Murdoch……….you’ll get me killed, and I don’t really want to die.” Johnny cut in. “ You talk about not wanting to lose me……That goes both ways old man….I don’t want to lose you, Scott, or what I have now.”

“ Let me ask you something son. You’ve been here just over a year, do you still feel someone would?” Murdoch asked.

“ As long as Johnny Madrid is still alive……..yeah I do.” Johnny said.


“ Mister Lancer! We got fifty head of cattle gone.” Frank said.

“ Where?” Murdoch asked.

“ Needle Rock. The fence is down.” Frank said.

“ Down or cut?” Johnny asked.

“ It looks to have been cut.” he responded. “ There were horse tracks following the herd.”

“ How many riders?” Scott asked as he stood up.

“ Six. I tracked them to the canyon.” he said.

“ Boys, I want you to be careful. Take Frank, Walt, with you.” Murdoch requested.


“ This is as far as I tracked them.” Frank said.

Johnny dismounted, and looked at the tracks. “ One of the horses has special shoes on the hind feet. Given the depth of the tracks, the rider is over two hundred pounds. Two of the other horses have no shoes.”

“ There’s several places they could take the cattle in that canyon. It’s all sand, so tracking them isn’t going to be easy Johnny.” Frank said.

“ Only two lead out though. The others are dead ends. A man on foot can get out, but not a horse or cattle.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. “ Frank, I want you and Walt to take the one east. Me and Scott will take the one west that comes out on the Conway ranch. If you see them, don’t try anything. One of you come get us.”

“  Sure thing Johnny, you two be careful.” Walt said as they split up.

“ Can I ask why we are going this way brother? I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense to take cattle you just stole east, away from the ranch.” Scott asked as they started into the canyon.

Johnny stopped his horse. “ Didn’t Murdoch say he would be driving a herd of cattle thru the Conway spread?”

“ Yeah, but that’s not until next month.”  Scott responded.

“ Who’s to say he didn’t decide to move them earlier. Nobody will think otherwise if they see them. It’s perfect.” Johnny said.

“ You’re right little brother.” he said.

“ Look, there’s their tracks. Ride back and get Frank, and Walt.”  Johnny said.

“ I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Scott said.

“ I promise you I won’t do anything until you get back.” Johnny said. “ It shouldn’t take you more than thirty minutes.”

“ Alright.” Scott said as he turned his horse around, and took off at a gallop.

Johnny rode slowly to the end of the canyon, and stopped. He could hear the cattle, and  knew there was a small pond fed by an underground stream where the rustlers probably stopped to water the cattle, and he was right. He could see five of the six riders positioned around the herd as they drank. “ Come on brother. They get much further, and we won’t have any cover.” he said softly as he dismounted, and pulled his rifle. Looking above him, he seen an outcrop of rocks he could position himself on above the herd. Once positioned, Johnny looked down, and seen two of the riders he knew, George, and Charles Miller, both hired four months ago at Lancer. Lee Young, Henry Wilson, and Roy Martin he knew worked for the Conway ranch. Numerous times on a Saturday night he had played poker with them in Spanish Wells. Looking around, Johnny couldn’t find the sixth man, and wondered where he was.


“ You think them Lancer’s know yet?” Charlie asked.

“ Oh I recon they do little brother. Them there rich Lancer’s won’t miss a measly hundred head of cattle.” George said.

“ Yeah, the two of us getting hired was luck.” Charlie said. “ I still don’t understand why we had to have them other fellas. We could’ve stole these cows without them.”

“ You know the two of us couldn’t handle moving this many cows by ourselves. We needed extra help.”” George said.

“ I just don’t like us…………how we know we can trust them?  Especially that Jackson, he’s bad trouble, I don’t like the way he wears his gun, all low on his hip and all.” Charlie said.

“ Lee says he’s a gunfighter from down south. Henry, and Roy, they’re just along to help move them. You know we can’t move that many cows by ourselves.”

“ Were is Jackson?” Roy asked as he rode over to the brothers.

“ Probably off somewhere practicing. I never seen anyone so fast at drawing.” George said.

“ I’ve heard of one faster. In fact I bet Jackson has heard of him too.” Roy said.

“ Yeah, and who would that be?” Charlie asked.

“ Johnny Madrid. He’s a half-breed runs down along the border. He’s one deadly sonofabitch I tell ya.” Roy responded.

“ Who’s a deadly sonofabitch?” Lee asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” he said.

“ Johnny Madrid was killed by the Rurales a few years back.”  Lee said.

“ Let’s get them moving.” George ordered.

“ You sure nobody will stop us?” Henry asked.

“ I’m sure. I told you the Conway ranch lets them drive their cattle across their land to get to the pens. So nobody will stop us.” George said.

“ What about Jackson?”  Charlie asked.

“ Forget him. Let’s go.”  George ordered.


“ Where the hell are you brother? Their moving the……….Sonofabitch!……… Jackson.” Johnny said between clenched teeth. “ I owe you, you bastard.”

Three years ago outside Uvalde, Texas, working for Thomas O’Connor, of the O’Connor ranch, a half a million acre paradise in southern Texas to help guard the  Uvalde County Tax Assessor and Collector from being robbed during the course of his duties. Jackson, the prime suspect in the robberies, had managed to elude capture numerous times. At wits end, O’Connor hired Madrid to guard the man. During his second week of guarding the man, with about thirty thousand dollars collected, Madrid was ambushed at a ranch the two men rode up to to collect the taxes from. Having no way of knowing Jackson and another man waited inside the house, having killed the ranch owner, and his wife, the tax collector walked up to the door, knocked, and was gunned down as the door opened. Seconds later, as he drew his colt to fire, Johnny felt two bullets slice thru flesh as he returned fire. Trying to control his horse, and shoot proved to be a challenge as another bullet tore thru his upper right arm, causing him to drop his pistol. Spurring his horse as a forth bullet pierced his back, Johnny rode out of there. It had taken him two months to be strong enough to ride. The doctor instructed him to get the bullet removed by a younger doctor more advanced in medicine as soon as possible, but that was something he never did bother having done.

The sound of horses brought him back to the present. Picking up a small stone, he tossed it to hit his brother’s right shoulder to stop him.

Scott felt the rock hit is shoulder, and looked up, finding his brother on an outcropping above him. “ How far?” he asked softly.

Johnny held up a hand to let his brother know he was coming down. “ They just started moving the herd again.”

“ You seen them?” Frank asked.

“ Yeah, George and Charlie Miller, both of which were hired a couple weeks ago, Henry Wilson, Roy Martin, and Lee Young, all three of them will probably give up, and take off if any shooting.” Johnny explained.

“ You know them?” Walt asked.

“ I’ve seen them around before. Never knew any of them to come this far from the border though.” he said.

“ What about the sixth man brother?” Scott asked.

“  He’s the one riding the chestnut. He’s mine.” Johnny said firmly.

Scott seen a look in his brothers eyes like he’d never seen before. A look that sent a shiver down his spine.  A look that clearly said that not matter what, his little brother had something from his past with the sixth man.

“ How we going to do this Johnny?” Walt asked.

“ Ride up to them, and give them the option of hanging, or dying from a bullet.” he said.

“ We take them to the law.” Scott said.

“ Stealing cattle is a hanging offense Scott. Them dying from a bullet would save Green River the trouble of a trial.” Frank said.

“ We don’t murder them Frank. If they surrender………”

“ If they surrender brother……..we take them in.” Johnny cut in. “ That code of the west you asked me about once……..that don’t apply when someone steals stock, so you might want to remember that brother.” Johnny said as he mounted up, and started out of the canyon.

“ Scott, there’s something between your brother and that sixth fella.” Walt said. “ He never said his name.”

“ I know. I seen the look in his eyes.” Scott said.


Murdoch came out of the house as four riders rode up to the house.

“ Need to lock these two up until we can take them into Green River to stand trial, and hang.” Johnny said.

“ George and Charlie Miller, I just hired you two a month ago, and this is the thanks I get.” Murdoch said.

“ Only reason they wanted the jobs old man was to steal our cattle.” Johnny said. “ Get down you two.”

“ Frank, and Walt took three others into Morro Coyo to be buried.” Scott said.

“ And the cattle?” he asked.

“ Scattered on the Conway ranch.” Scott replied. “ Mrs Conway will have some of her hands help round them up early tomorrow morning.”

“ Let’s go boys. We got a nice cell just waiting for you two.” Johnny said as he pulled his gun, and shoved  the older brother toward the barn.

“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.

“ There were six of them. The Miller brothers, the three dead, and one other it would seem Johnny knows.” Scott said as they walked into the house.

“ Knows?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir, and I don’t think it’s in a good way.” Scott said. “ I seen a look in his eyes I have never seen before, and quite frankly, it scared me.”

“ You mean he became Madrid?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know for sure, but I believe so.” he said.


Johnny Walked out of the barn and was suddenly slammed to the ground. Rolling onto his left side, he drew his colt and fired, hitting Jackson in the chest, dropping him to his knees as a second bullet tore into his side.. Ignoring the pain, Johnny stood up, and staggered over to Jackson, laying on the ground.

“ Go to hell.” Johnny said before pulling the trigger. Turning, he started walking toward the house, stopped, and dropped to his knees as his father rushed to his side.

“ Oh my god!” Murdoch said as he rushed to Johnny’s side. He could see the blood spreading across his chest.

“ Pa……….I” Johnny said before blackness claimed him.

Scott reached down, scooped his little brother up in his arms, and headed to the house.


Sam came downstairs as the sun started to rise over the San Bonito mountains.

“ Sam?” Murdoch said.

“ He’s alive. I removed both bullets, but he’s lost a lot of blood.  Barring he doesn’t get an infection, he will be okay.” Sam said. “ Can I ask who shot him?”

“ We had a hundred head of cattle stolen. The boys, Walt, and Frank tracked them, Captured two alive that are locked up in the barn, killed three, but the sixth man wasn’t there. Apparently he followed them back here, and ambushed Johnny when he came out of the barn from locking up the two.” Murdoch explained.

“ Johnny knows him. He became real defensive when we asked the Miller brothers about him. He also knew two of the three dead men.” Scott said.

“ Men from his past!” Murdoch said.

“ Just because he knows them, doesn’t mean he knows them sir.” Scott said firmly.


Johnny sat enjoying the morning sun  a month later on the veranda porch when his brother came walking toward him from the barn.

“ Murdoch should be back from Sacramento tomorrow.” Scott said.

“ Should be.” Johnny said as he stood up.  “ Why don’t you do us both a favor, and get it said brother?”

Scott looked at his brother a few seconds before removing his hat, and wiping the sweat from his brow. “ Get what said brother?”

“ Whatever has  been bothering you since that day.” Johnny said before turning to go back inside. “ I’m not a fool Boston. You’ve been distant to me.” he added before walking inside.

Scott sighed, shook his head, and followed his brother inside. He knew there was no way of avoiding this talk. He just wondered how his brother would take it when he told him how he felt about that day they got the cattle back.

Johnny walked over and poured a shot of tequila, downed it, and poured another. “ You’ve had a burr under your saddle ever since we got the cattle back.” he said before downing the second shot. “ Get it said brother.”

“ Alright I will. That day in the canyon, I seen a look in your eyes that quite frankly….sent a shiver down my spin Johnny. How do you know the sixth man?” Scott asked.

Johnny poured another shot, and downed it before walking over to look out the big bay window behind Murdoch’s desk. “ A couple years ago I took a job in Uvalde, Texas guarding the county tax collector. We rode up to this ranch to collect the taxes, and when the man walked up to the door, he was gunned down by two men waiting inside for us. We had about thirty thousand dollars we’d collected so far, and that ranch was the last one for the day. Jackson, we knew was responsible for the robberies, but could never catch him. I was shot four times, one of which was in the back when I was galloping away. I was at deaths door when I was found by a small Comanche tribe. Why they didn’t kill me I will never know. They hated the white man, and with good reason. It took me three months before I was healed up enough to ride out of there. Jackson was a cold blooded killer. I’m a cold blooded killer too Scott. You’d do good to remember that. The only difference between me and him is he killed to steal, or to just kill. I kill to survive. I have never murdered anyone.” Johnny said as he walked over to his brother. “ That’s something you would do good to remember…….brother.”

Scott stared at his brother with both shock, and fear in his eyes. Never before had he felt fear of his brother. Most of the time it was fear for his brother. Fear that one day he would be gunned down,and all because of a stupid reputation he wanted years before.

“ I don’t believe that for a minute Johnny, and if you think I do, then you are a bigger fool than I thought.” Scott said.

“  I haven’t survived this damn long by being a fool.” Johnny said as he stepped to within inches of his brothers face.

“ You are if you expect me to believe you are a cold-blooded killer………….brother.” Scott retorted back. “ What you do with that damn gun, you do merely to stay alive…………brother.” he added before heading upstairs.


“ Is everything alright between you and your brother?” Murdoch asked three days later. “ What happened between the two of you that day you got the cattle back son?” he asked.

“ He seen a side of me that…………….scared him. We had a discussion about it the other day. I expect we are okay now.”

“You know, when Scott’s mother died, I never thought I would find another woman to love,and share Lancer with. When I met your mother down in Matamoros, I was blessed. When you were born, I knew I had found love. The first time I held you in my arms, and looked into your blue eyes, I knew I had a son I could raise, and leave all this too.” Murdoch explained.

“ Even though you had Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ Harlan made sure I would never have Scott son. Granted I’m thrilled he came home after learning the truth, but there was something about you, my little blue-eyed boy I wanted to leave Lancer too.” Murdoch responded. “ Now I have both of you, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel.”

“ A part of me still hates her for taking me away from you. It’s because of her I had to become who I am.” Johnny said.

“ You’ve been here two years now. Can I ask who you are now son?” his father asked.

“ When I came here, I thought I knew who I was, but……….You know, I’ve always believed deep down inside that a man can change if he really wants too. The last two years of my life have been like nothing I ever dreamed. I have a big brother, and a father. Both of which I never thought I would ever have. Maybe some day I can find someone to love,  and share all this with, but until then, Johnny Lancer will live the life he deserves working along side his brother, and bucking against his old man every chance he can. That is if you think you can handle that?” Johnny said.

“ I think I can handle that son.” Murdoch responded with a smile as he put an arm around his youngest, and gave him a gentle hug. “ As long as you remember who calls the tune?”

Johnny laughed as his brother walked into the room.

“ Something funny?” Scott asked.

“ Brother, our father just realized what he became the day we became third owners of Lancer.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ And what would that be little brother?” Scott asked.

“ Why a condemned man.” Johnny said as they all three busted out laughing.

To Research Notes –>

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~end~
Finished  6/14/2021

Chapter 1

Murdoch woke up, and got dressed. Figuring his wife, Maria was already up, and downstairs with their two year old son Johnny, who seemed to wake at the first signs of light. Heading downstairs, Murdoch walked into the kitchen to find it empty. Walking all thru the downstairs, Murdoch found every room empty. Going back upstairs, he headed to Johnny’s bedroom, opened the door, and found it empty as well. Going back downstairs, he walked over to his desk, and found a note, simple, and to the point.

Murdoch

Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Eyes that will always make him a half-breed. Your half-breed bastard son.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

That was five years ago, five years of loneliness, and heartache. Five years of searching every village or town in Mexico, and along the border. Not a day went by he didn’t wonder if his son was still alive, or what he looked like. Placing the note back in the file, Murdoch opened the letter on his desk, and began reading it.

Mister Lancer

I have searched every town along the Mexican border from San Diego to Laredo, with no luck. Tomorrow I will start searching in and around Matamoros, and work my way back west to Yuma.

Alan Belcher

Murdoch set the letter down, stood up, and walked over to the sideboard, and poured a shot of scotch. Every letter he’s received from the Pinkerton agent said the same thing, and every one broke his heart that much more.


“ Why do I have to leave mother?” Johnny demanded.

“ Stop whining like a little baby. You leave because I say so.” his mother ordered

“ I’m not whining, I’m tired of always having to leave just so you can sleep with a man.” he said.

Maria lashed out, and slapped Johnny hard across the face. “You ungrateful little bastard. If it wasn’t for me, you would have no food in your belly, and roof to sleep under.”

“ I sleep most nights out in the cold because you bring men home to your bed.” Johnny yelled back.

Maria grabbed Johnny, and slapped him several times hard across the face. “ You are as worthless as your gringo father. I should have left you to die with him.”

“ You lie, you said he did not want me. It is you who do not want me.” Johnny yelled.

“ He did not want you because you are a mestizo, the bastard child of a whore. We were not married when he got me pregnant with you, that makes you a bastard, and you always will be one.” Maria snapped back.

Johnny wiped the tears from his face, stunned at the words he heard his mother say. At almost ten years of age, he had seen many strange men come and go in every village, or town his mother settled in. Many nights he spent cold, and hungry, with no shirt, and wore thin white cotton pants, that in the heat of the summer kept him cool, but in the winter, did little, to no good against the cold winds. Numerous times he had been beaten by some of those men, while his mother did nothing to stop it from happening.

“ Get out!” Maria yelled as she shoved him toward the door.

“ I hate you……..I wish you were dead…….You’re nothing but a puta.” Johnny spat from outside the door as his mother slammed it shut. ( whore )


Ten years now since his wife left in the middle of the night, and took his precious son with her. His other son, Scott, he had only seen once per chance when he traveled back to Boston to plead with his father-in-law to let Scott come home where he belonged.

“ Are you prepared? As prepared as I am? Have your lawyers told you how many years it would take to fight my legal guardianship? With Scotty endlessly dragged into court as a key witness. Take a good look at your son Murdoch. This is the happiest time of his life.  His childhood. He’s with his friends, secure in his home. The only home he’s ever known. Now……..what can you give him to replace all this? Years of court battles, and if you’re lucky, a desolate strip of sand and rock to play on instead of grass. A mud hut to live in instead of a comfortable home. Is that what you want for your son? Make up your mind Murdoch. Do you wan Scotty torn apart?”

Scott knocks on the door.

“ Oh Scotty, I want you to meet a friend of mine.” Harlan said.

“ How do you do sir!” Scott said as he shook the mans hand.

“ Hello Scott, glad to meet you.” Murdoch said.

Scott went back in the other room to attend his birthday party.

“ You may call that one decision my moment of weakness. Now it’s your decision. You truly love the boy, I know what you will do.” Harlan said.

That was eight years ago. His youngest, Johnny had been gone a year, and he desperately wanted one of his sons at Lancer. One of them to share in the legacy he wanted to leave them.

Scott’s mother, his first wife Catherine, died while giving birth to their son. Lonely, he became a lawman for a short time, and while in Matamoros, met Johnny’s mother in a cantina. Taken in by her beauty, their courtship, a short whirlwind resulted in them marrying, and him bringing her home to Lancer, where he thought she would be happy, and they could raise their son together. Never once did Maria tell him she wasn’t happy. After their son was born, she was a little depressed, but he never suspected her of ever being unfaithful to him. Several people had seen Maria, and his son with a man leaving McCall’s Crossing, headed south.

Every month he would receive a report from the Pinkerton he hired to find his son, and every month for the past ten years, he received no word of his son being found. Every report made his hope of ever seeing Johnny alive again dwindle that much more. Every December twenty third  he would wonder if his son was even still alive. This year he would turn eleven, and also wondered if he even knew he had an older half brother, and what lies Maria, if any, had told him.


Johnny was cold, and hungry. The sun was just starting to show the first rays of light as he left the cave he spent almost every night in since his mother settled in Hermosillo, almost a year ago, the longest they had ever stayed in a town.  Stopping outside the back door, Johnny listened, but heard no sounds from inside. Opening the door, he stepped inside, and was shocked at what he seen. Laying on the  floor was the bloodied body of his mother. Dropping to his knees next to her head, her eyes open, and blank. Blood covered her chest from a single hole directly to her heart from where she had been shot. Hurrying outside, he ran to the church, and told the padre what he found.

That was four years ago. His mother was buried in the cemetery that afternoon, and that night, Johnny found himself thrown into a place of hell for the next two years. A place called Santa Maria Suamca, a mission for orphans. Being of mixed heritage, Johnny soon found himself being picked on by the other children, and beaten by Father Enrique Ruhen, a strict man of rules, and no tolerance for an orphaned Mexican boy with blue eyes. Every boy in the orphanage made a point of almost every day doing something against the rules, and blaming it on him. Countless times he would be beat with a belt,  shoved into a small closet, and left for days with little to no water, and no food at all. The father would just stand and watch as the other, bigger boys would beat on him, bloodying his nose, and splitting his lip. One rainy day while he was out in the yard, two bigger boys came to him, and the one pulled a small pocket knife out, and slashed his left side. Johnny lunged on the boy, both going down in the mud as the other boy ran inside.

Father Enrique grabbed Johnny, and yanked him off the other boy.

“ That mestizo tried to kill me.” the boy yelled.

“ You lie. It was you who has the knife. It was you who came out here with him and slashed me. All I did was defend myself.” Johnny spat as he tried to get free.

Father Enrique yanked Johnny around in front of him, and slapped him hard across the face. “ You are the son of the devil.” the father said as he yanked Johnny toward the church, stopping at the root cellar door. “ You will stay down here like the animal you are.” he said as he opened the door.

Johnny jerked his arm free, and ran around the church to the front, ignoring the father’s orders to stop, and come back. Heading to the one place he knew Father Enrique would never find him. Learning how to survive off the land, how to build a small unnoticeable fire, and plenty of water, Johnny spent months in the cave above Hermosillo, coming down late at night to steal food, blankets, or even clothing to stay warm at night. Making a promise to himself that one day when older, he would come back to the orphanage, and he would make Father Enrique pay for what he did to him for two years.


Murdoch sat in shock as he read the latest letter from the Pinkerton detective.

Mister Lancer

After twelve long years of searching, I am sad to report I have located your wife Maria Consuela Dela Vega Lancer. I’m sorry to report she was murdered four years ago. Your son, Johnny, who found the body, was taken to the orphanage here in Hermosillo, where he spent three years before running away after he tried to hurt another boy with a knife. He has not been seen since, but residents in town suspect he was hiding out in the hills, and came down late at night to pilfer food, and other things. Being around thirteen years of age now, I expect he will make his way north to the border. I will continue to search until you tell me to stop.

Murdered, he loved Maria more than anything, and to know someone had killed her, angered him. Had his son witnessed the murder of his mother? He hated that his son was sent to an orphanage. He had heard how other children could be to someone like Johnny, how even the people who ran the orphanages could be cruel to the children. He was glad his son had escaped there, but for what? Where could an innocent child go in Mexico, and not be abused?


Johnny sat in the corner of the saloon in El Paso, sipping on a beer when he seen the two men walk in. For the past four years he’d built a reputation as a gunfighter. Every day he practiced whenever he could, and got faster, and more deadly. Two men last week found out the hard way just how deadly he was. Standing in the middle of the street in Nogales, he faced, and gunned down both men with such speed, onlookers couldn’t believe a seventeen year old boy beat two grown men before they could even get their guns out. Hiring out his newly acquired skill as a gunfighter in range wars earned him a fast reputation, and the highest dollar. Good at his trade, good, and deadly. Not once had he called a man out, or killed anyone in cold blood. Picking up a gun at thirteen, he decided he needed a name. One that would stand out like other gunfighters he’d heard about. He remembered an old man once in Hermosillo, talking about a place in Spain, called Madrid, a name that would make him a legend in his profession. A name most would fear, and others would hate. At thirteen years of age he faced down his first of many challenges. Some of those challenges in the beginning came at a price. Seven times he’s felt a bullet tear thru his flesh. Seven times in four years he never once sought the help of a doctor. Having learned how to stitch a wound, stop the bleeding, and even remove a bullet. Something most men would never be able to do, but Madrid wasn’t like most men. Most of his life pain played a part in his growing up. Whether it was from being beaten, cut, or even stabbed, he never once cried out in pain, or shed a tear.

Domingo, and Vidal, both gunfighters from Texas, had no code, or respect for the rules of the game. Most gunfighter, at least the honest ones, had a code they lived by, and followed it. Domingo, like to call a man out just to gut shoot him, and watch him die the worst death a man could from a gun.. Vidal, was the worst of the two. He was a coward when it came to facing a man, he preferred shooting them in the back. He also liked to beat women, something Madrid despised any man doing.

“ You see who’s sitting in the corner when we came in?” Vidal asked.

“  If you mean the long haired brunette…….I seen her.” Domingo responded.

“ No, the back corner.” he said.

Domingo looked, and smiled. “ Well, well, well. It’s our lucky day.”

“ You think we can take him?” Vidal asked.

“ The only way you can take Madrid is shooting him in the back. You’re no match for that gun of his. Let’s finish our beer, and go outside so we can start the fun. You go up on the balcony of the hotel down the street with your rifle, and you won’t miss.” Domingo said.

“ And what will you be doing?” he asked.

“ Facing him. I’ll keep him distracted while you shoot him in the back, but don’t kill him. I want to be the one to do that.” Domingo ordered.

“ Looks like he’s going upstairs with that brunette whore. What do we do now?” Vidal asked.

“ He’ll come back down, and when he does, you’ll be ready, and I’ll call him out.” Domingo responded.


Johnny stood up, and pulled his leather pants with silver conchos down the legs up, before sitting back down to put his boots on. Turning his head, he smiled at the naked brunette laying next to him.

“ How old are you Madrid?” she asked.

Johnny smiled. “ Seventeen. Why?”

The woman sat up, and scooted over to him. “ Because you don’t fuck like no seventeen year old. I’ve never had a man go as long as you, or do what you did.”

“ Guess next time I’m thru here, I’ll have to show you an all night good time.” Johnny said before leaning down, and claiming her mouth.

The brunette’s hand instinctively went down into his pants, and started rubbing him hard again as she moaned.

Johnny felt himself starting to respond to her rubbing him. “ Damn.” he said as he deepened the kiss. Standing up just long enough to slip out of his pants again before climbing back in bed, and between her legs as his hardness stood out, ready for another round.

The brunette reached down, and guided him to her entrance as she wrapped her legs around him. “ Show me.” she said as she arched her back, and dug her fingernails into his back.

Johnny couldn’t help but smile as he started to move in and out of her. She wasn’t the first woman wanting more from him, and he knew she wouldn’t be the last. Since he didn’t know how long it would be before he bedded another whore, tonight he would make sure he was fully satisfied, and she was totally exhausted.


Johnny walked out of the saloon three hours later, and stepped down to his horse.

“ Johnny Madrid!” Domingo yelled.

Johnny sighed. He knew without turning around who was calling him out. “ Domingo.” he said as he stepped out into the street, and faced his adversary.  “ You’re a long way from Texas Domingo.”

“ I heard you were the fastest, so I want to see just how fast you are.” Domingo said. “ Let’s see just how bad a gunfighter you are.”

“ You in that much of a hurry to die?” Johnny asked as he noticed a few people on the street stop dead in their tracks. Watching, and waiting. They knew death was seconds away.

Domingo watched as Vidal positioned himself on the balcony behind Madrid, and took aim. “ Time to die Madrid.”

Johnny drew, and fired one shot, killing Domingo. Standing there, scanning the rooftops, he turned and was spun around when a bullet tore into his right shoulder, causing him to drop his gun. Grabbing the colt again, he seen Vidal on the balcony of the hotel taking aim on him again. Firing one shot, he knew he hit his target when he seen Vidal’s head snap back. Standing up, he looked around seen lights coming on, and people coming out doors. Walking to his horse, he mounted up, and rode out of El Paso.


Val Crawford sat drinking coffee as the sun started to rise over the Organ Mountains on the east side of the Rio Grande. Headed back to Mesilla, a hot bath, and to sleep in a bed, and not on the hard ground. For two months he’d been the temporary sheriff of Mesilla as an attempt to stop the stage-line from being robbed. Now that the men responsible were dead, he was free to start hiring out to range wars again.

“ What in tarnation?” he said aloud as he stood up when a horse walked into his camp, its rider slumped over its neck. Pulling his gun, Val walked over to the horse slowly. He could see the riders right arm was soaked in blood. Reaching up, he pulled him off the horse, and noticed the bullet hole in the boys back.

“I don’t know who the hell you are kid, but somebody sure wanted you dead.” Val said as he dug the bullet out of the boys back an hour later. “ Whoever you are, you’ve had more than yur fair share of lead put in ya from the scars I see.”

Val nursed Johnny for three days before he seen the boy finally showing signs of waking up. “ I was beginnin’ ta wonder if you were ever gonna wake up.”

“ Who the hell are you?” Johnny asked softly.

Val poured some water in a cup, walked over to him, and helped him drink. “ Yur horse straggled into my camp three days ago. I coulda left ya to die. I dug the bullet outa yur back, and stitched that one up in yur arm. I don’t think it hit the bone when it tore thru. You wanna tell me who you are, and who shot you?”

Johnny looked at the man a few minutes before he pushed himself with his right arm to sit up. “ I’m obliged to you mister.”

“ You wanted by the law boy?” Val asked.

“ No, I was set up.” Johnny said as he started to stand up.

“ You go tearing them stitches out, I won’t be so inclined to sew you up again.” Val said.

“ Where’s my gun?” Johnny asked.

“ It’s in my saddlebag. I’ll give it back to ya once I know who you are, and decide yur not a wanted man.” Val said.

“ I’m not wanted by the law. My names Madrid……Johnny Madrid.”

“ If’n yur him, how many men did you face, and gun down in Nogales a short time back?” he asked.

“ Two. They called me out late afternoon. Now give me my damn gun old man.”

“ Watch who yur calling an old man……….boy.” Val ordered as he stood up, and walked over to his saddlebags, removed the gun belt, and handed it to Johnny.

Johnny noticed the badge the man wore when he handed him his gun. “ Yur the law. They must have been desperate to hire you.”

“ Boy, you got a mouth on you. I’m the sheriff of Mesilla, names Val Crawford, and I eat smart ale-ck kids like you for breakfast. So show some damn respect.”

“ You the same Val Crawford who fought with  the Arizona Ranges at Apache Pass?” Johnny asked.

“ I am. Got some Skillet coffee if’n ya want some.” he said.

“ Skillet coffee. What, you got something against a coffee pot?” Johnny asked.

“ No, I travel light, I don’t need ta carry a pot when a skillet does the same dang thing. Now if you want some coffee, and feel like ya could eat, sit yur butt down.” Val said in a grumpy voice.

“ You always this grouchy?” Johnny asked as he carefully sat back down. He couldn’t explain it, but for some reason he liked Crawford. Liked him in a way he felt he could trust him, and trust was something Johnny Madrid did very little of.

“ I ain’t grouchy. I just don’t like staying in one place so long.” Val said as he handed him a plate of food. “ How long till you think you can ride?”

“ Thanks. I can ride. You got someplace you need to go, you can leave.” Johnny said.

“ I ain’t leavin you here so you can go and die.” he responded. “You got somewhere to be kid?”

“ I’m not a kid, and no. I go where I want, when I want.” Johnny responded.

“ Seventeen, and been shot nine times. I’d say you need to get away from the border towns Madrid.” Val said. “ Look, I got a place, it ain’t much, but you can stay there until your healed up. Nobody will know you’re there, and you can practice your draw once that arm heals up.”

“ Why?” he asked as he ate the food.

“ Because with your gun arm injured, yur a sitting duck for someone to kill.” Val responded.

“ I’ve had worse, but thanks anyway. I don’t like being a burden to anyone.” he said.

“ Ya ain’t a burden to me……….Damn kid, ain’t ya ever had someone be kind ta ya before?” he asked.

“ Not from no lawman I ain’t.”


Val stood two years later watching Madrid draw and fire. He’d never seen anyone so fast, especially someone as young as Madrid. The kid was a natural with a gun.

“ Yur one deadly sonofabitch with that gun Madrid.” Val said.

“ You mind if an old man tells you a trick that could save you from being shot?” he asked as he walked over to Madrid.

“ You ever look a man in the eyes when you face him?”

“ No, I watch his hand.”

“ Watch his eyes. When a person is about to do something suddenly, his eyes will change. His pupils will get bigger. That little trick alone will give you a second or two advantage over your opponent.” Val responded. “ I’ve never seen anyone as deadly as you are with that gun kid. Especially someone so young. How long you been using it?”

“ About four years.” Johnny said. “ Stop calling me a kid. I grew up a long time ago.”

“ Your parents let you have that smart mouth?” he asked.

Johnny told Val about his mother being murdered, not knowing who his father was, the two years he spent in the orphanage, and how he was treated.

“ I’ve seen some of them orphanages, they ain’t the best place to be. Look, I’m leaving here in a few days. Why don’t you ride with me. There’s a range war brewing in Arizona. We can make some damn good money hiring our gun hands out.”

“ Sounds good to me as long as they pay good.” Johnny said.

“ Listen, I’ve come to know you pretty good the two years we been riding together. I watch you when you hire out, you always stay on the right side of the law, never ride against it. Once you hit rock bottom, your life is pretty much over.”

“ Rock bottom?”

“ When you cross that fine line between good and bad. Never kill a man who isn’t trying to kill you. Don’t hire that gun arm out just to build your reputation up. Make damn sure you keep your morals right. You do that kid, and you won’t become one of those fallen angels, men beyond redemption that the good book talks about.” Val explained.


“ You hear about that range war in Arizona, Murdoch?” Jim Porter asked.

“ I heard there was one. The Diamond A ranch is having a water, property dispute or something.” Murdoch responded.

“ Yeah, some homesteaders thought they could come in from Nebraska and farm it. Know what, or rather I should say who ended that range war?” Jim asked.

“ I’m too busy worrying about my own ranch to be worrying bout a ranch in Arizona Jim.” Murdoch said with agitation.

“ That half-breed killer Johnny Madrid. I heard he shot and killed that sod-buster down in cold blood, and raped his wife. The daughter came home from school and found them.” Porter said.

“ Porter, you’d do better to not believe everything you hear. One of these days it’s gonna get you in trouble. Now if you will excuse me.” Murdoch said before walking away.

“ You won’t feel that way if that killer comes to the San Joaquin valley Murdoch.” Jim said.

Murdoch shook his head as he walked over to visit Sam, before heading back to Lancer. None of the ranchers in the valley cared for Porter. The man came from Wyoming, where it’s reported he lost his land in a range war over sheep.

“ Sounds like Porter is angry about something.” Sam said.

“ I really wish that man had never come here.” Murdoch said.

“ You and a lot of other people.” Sam said. “ Care to join me for lunch?”

“ That’s the best offer I’ve had in a long time.” Murdoch responded.

“ Any word yet?” Sam asked twenty minutes later as they ate lunch.

“ No. Every time I get a report Sam, and it says the same thing, I begin to wonder if I’m not looking for a ghost.” Murdoch said.

“ He’s still alive, and you have to keep believing you will find him.” Sam said. “ He will come home.”

“ I often wonder what he looks like.” Murdoch said.

“  He’s seventeen now, so I imagine he’s tall like his father, with his mothers………..”

“ Have you ever heard of Johnny Madrid?” Murdoch cut in and asked.

“ The gunfighter………..yes, I’ve heard of him. Why?” Sam said, and asked.

“ Porter was telling me Madrid murdered that homesteader in Arizona, and…………raped his wife before killing her.” Murdoch said.

“ You of all people know second hand talk is no good. I’ve seen him once when I was in Tucson. He was called out. He’s not a cold-blooded killer Murdoch. He tried talking the man out of it. I watched that boy stand in that street, shoot the other man. He got on his horse, and rode away. Murdoch, that boy Porter is calling a killer did everything he could to avoid that gunfight.”

“  Did he kill him?” Murdoch asked.

“ No he didn’t.” Sam responded. “ You know, come to think of it, this Johnny Madrid, is the same age as your Johnny. Maybe he’s…..”

“ My son would have nothing to do with the likes of someone like Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said. “ Maria wouldn’t………”

“  Seven years is a long time for him to be on his own. Maybe a family took him in, or he’s found work on one of those big ranches down there.” Sam suggested. “ Have you heard anything from your other son, Scott?”

“ I wrote another letter, but I expect it will be intercepted by Harlan like all the others. Like Johnny’s mother, I expect Harlan has told Scott lies, and that’s why he doesn’t come home.” Murdoch responded.

“ So you don’t know if he knows about his brother then?” Sam asked.

“ No. The only time I’ve ever seen Scott, was on his fifth birthday. I never said anything to Harlan about remarrying, or about Johnny.” he said.

“ Hire a Pinkerton to tell Scott. Harlan can’t stop that.” Sam suggested.

“ I’ve thought about doing just that very thing Sam, but…..”

“ But what?” Sam cut in.

“ I’m a stranger to them. Neither one of my sons know me, and I don’t know them.” he said.

“ Then you do whatever you have to do to bring both them boys home so you can get to know each other, and become a family.” Sam ordered.


“ Let me ask you something Madrid, you ever think about trying to find your pappy?” Val asked as they rode toward Yuma.

“ I did, but it’d be a little hard to do since I don’t know what his name is. Hell, I don’t even know what my real last name is Val.”

“ It’s not Madrid?” he asked.

“ No, Madrid is a name I chose when I started using a gun. I remembered an old man telling me about Madrid, Spain once in a village.”

“ What was your mothers full name?” Val asked.

“ Maria Consuela Dela Vega is what I seen on a paper once.” Johnny said.

“ Well, that’s a start. Tell me what your mother said about your pappy.”

“ She said he threw us out because of me. Said he didn’t want a half-breed for a son. A son who would be a bastard no matter what. He got my mother pregnant, and that that was why he married her.” Johnny said with anger.

“ That anger you got, is that toward your pappy, or your mother?”

Johnny stopped his horse.  “ I hate her for what she did. It’s because of her I was beaten, and abused. She would just stand there, and do nothing to stop it.” he vented. “ I hate him because he wasn’t there to stop it. He wasn’t there to stop Father Enrique from locking me in a closet, beating me, or starving me, just because I’m a half-breed kid…………His half-breed kid.”

“ So he never came after you after your mother died?” he asked. “ Never came and got you from the orphanage?”

“ No I……………..She moved a lot. It would seem like we just got settled in a town or village, and she would move.” Johnny said as he remounted his horse.

“ Maybe that’s why she moved all the time kid. You ever think of that?”

“ She………she would never tell me why, just order me to do as she said, and beat me if I didn’t.” he said. “ I got this scar by my left eye from her for asking once why I always had to leave whenever she brought a man home. She didn’t care what the weather was like. The night she was murdered…….she beat me because I called her a whore…and…….and said I wish she was dead. That’s when she told me the only reason he married her. I came back the next morning, and found her dead. They buried her that afternoon, and I was taken to Mission Santa Maria Suamca orphanage.”

“ Jesus kid.” Val said with sadness. “ Do you want to find him?”

“ I wouldn’t know where to look Val. California is a big state.”

“ True, but there’s these men called Pinkerton’s, they hire out to find people. We can contact them in Yuma. What ya got ta lose?”

“ I don’t know Val, seems like a long shot. Let me think on it some.” Johnny responded.


Mister Lancer

It has been a long seven years of searching, but I have learned why I could not find you son all this time after his mother died. It would seem he has changed his last name. Mister Lancer, your son is reported to be the infamous gunfighter Johnny Madrid. I have not verified this as of yet, but by all accounts from people I have talked too, the description, and age fits perfectly. I have learned Madrid is riding with another man name Val Crawford, for the past two years. The two of them settled a range war for a ranch in Arizona. What I have learned is though a gunfighter, your son is not like any other. All along the border, Johnny Madrid is considered a Patron Saint. He has helped many being wrongfully done, and asked nothing in return but a place to sleep, and food in his stomach. I will keep you apprised of my findings.

Alan Belcher

Murdoch sat in shock after he read the latest Pinkerton report two months later. His son had been found, or at least in part found. Now he understood why for over seven years after the death of his mother, he couldn’t be located. Three years after running away from the orphanage his son, if it was his son, emerged as Johnny Madrid at the age of thirteen. Standing up, Murdoch walked over to the sideboard,  filled a glass half full of scotch, and walked back over to his desk. A gunfighter, of all the things his son could become, why a gunfighter.


“ It’s pretty obvious what your plans are for the night.” Val said as he stood up. “ I’ll see ya in the morning. Have a good time.”

Johnny stood up. “ I plan too.” he said as he walked over to the woman he’d had his eye on most of the night. “ How much for all night?”

“ All night. Three a poke so……”

“ I asked how much for all night.”

“ Names Heather, thirty dollars, and I’m yours for all night.” she said.

“ You got a room upstairs?” Johnny asked.

“ I do. It even has a lock on it so we won’t be disturbed.” Heather said as she looked him up and down. Taking his hand in hers, she led the way to her room upstairs.

Johnny walked into the room and turned around as Heather closed the door, and locked it. Removing his gun belt, Johnny sat down on the bed to remove his boots as Heather started removing what little clothes she had on. Standing up, he stepped out of his pants, and removed his shirt as Heather walked over to him.

“ So what’s your pleasure?” she asked.

Johnny pulled her to him. “ Pleasure.” he said as his right hand ran down between her legs, and started rubbing her folds, causing her to moan as her hands started massaging him hard.

“ You’re off to a good start.” she said as she raised her right leg up, and brought herself closer.

Johnny picked her up, walked her back to the bed, and laid her down as he slid inside her.

“ Oh my, something tells me I’m in for a night of action.” Heather said before  their mouths came together.


“ Your Scott Lancer?” a man asked.

“ Yes I am.” Scott said.

“ The son of Murdoch Lancer?”

“ So I’ve been told. Never met the gentleman myself.”

“ Morsby’s  the name, Pinkerton office. We find people.”

“ I haven’t lost any. So as much as I’ve enjoyed our little conversation.” Scott said before he started to walk away.

“Your father wants to see you, and he’s willing to pay for it. All expenses to California, and a thousand dollars for one hour of your time.” Morsby said.


“ Did you see your lady friend Barbara today?” Harlan asked later that evening as they ate supper.

“ I did. On the way home, I was approached by a Pinkerton agent.” Scott said.

“ A Pinkerton agent. What in the world did he want?” Harlan asked.

“ When I was growing up, did my father ever write to me, or send me anything at Christmas time?” he asked.

“ Why on earth would you ask me that Scotty?” Harlan asked.

“ Could you answer the question sir?”

“ No, Murdoch never once sent you a letter, or anything at Christmas time. He wanted nothing to do with you.” Harlan said. He never wanted Scott to learn his father had wanted him to come to California, to live. Reading every letter sent to him before burning it, angered the man. Especially after reading about him marrying a Mexican whore, and having a half-breed son with her, only to have her run off in the middle of the night, taking the child with her. What his Catherine ever seen in the man, he would never understand. Taking his only daughter to a godforsaken land like California, he would never forgive Murdoch Lancer for doing.

“ If he wanted nothing to do with me my whole life, then why now did he send a Pinkerton man to find me, and tell me he’s been trying to get in touch with me?” Scott demanded.

“ I don’t think I care for your tone young man.” Harlan said.

“ And I don’t care to learn from a complete stranger that you have kept letters from my father from me for twenty four years. That is not a right you have sir.” Scott snapped back.

“ Not a right………I’m the one who raised you Scotty. I raised you while your father built that mud shack he calls a ranch. It’s because of him that your mother died giving birth to you. I’m the one who raised you, and seen to it you got a proper education.” he said firmly.

“  He’s requested I come to California to see him, and I am. I’m leaving on the train tomorrow.” Scott said as he stood up. “ You have done some things grandfather I have been willing to overlook, but not this. You kept me from knowing my father for twenty one years sir. That’s not something I will forgive you for.” he added before heading upstairs.


Johnny came down the back stairs of the saloon the next morning, and headed to the Butterfield stage office where he seen Val sitting in a rocking chair, waiting.

“ Forget it kid. Seems they hired them a couple men two days ago to guard the stage.” Val said.

“ Excuse me, but I’m looking for a man named Madrid, Johnny Madrid. I was told that person is you.”

“ Who the hell are you?”  Val demanded.

“ My name is Alan Belcher, I’m a Pinkerton agent. Are you Johnny Madrid?”

“ I’m Madrid, what do you want?”

“ I finally found you. I have been searching for you, and you mother for seventeen years now.” Alan said. “ Can I ask what your mothers name is?”

“ Maria Consuela Dela Vega.” Johnny said. “  She was murdered seven years ago. Why you been looking for me?”

“ I know She was murdered in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.” Alan responded. “ Your father hired the Pinkerton’s to find you seventeen years ago. I’ve been searching for you the last eight years, when the other man retired.”

“ My father?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes. Mister Lancer would like to see you. He has a ranch outside Morro Coyo, in the San Joaquin valley. Can I tell your father you will come?” Alan asked.

“ My father threw us out when I was a baby.” Johnny responded.

“ Now hold on a minute Johnny. If’n yur pappy threw you out, then why would he have the Pinkerton’s searching for you for seventeen years kid?” Val asked. “ It won’t hurt for you to ride there, and her what the man has to say.”

“ Alright, tell him I’ll come.” Johnny said.

“ Can I tell him when to expect you?” the Pinkerton asked.

“ No, I’ll get there.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ I’ll see that he goes see his pappy. The boy was led to believe his old man threw them out fifteen years ago. Give him some time. He’ll go.” Val said.

“ Very well. I’ll wire Mister Lancer, and let him know he can stop searching, and that his son will come home.” Alan said.

“ What’s his pappy’s name?” Val asked.

“ Murdoch Lancer.” Alan responded.

.

Chapter 2

Murdoch stood outside the telegraph office reading the wire the second of two wires he received.

Found Johnny in Yuma. Stop
He will come to Morro Coyo. Stop
Alan Belcher. Stop
Pinkerton Detective Agency. Stop

“Murdoch, is everything alright?” Sam asked.

Murdoch handed the wire to Sam to read.

“ They found him. I would think you would be happy?” Sam said as he handed the wire back.

“ You………I learned why they couldn’t find him for so long Sam. He changed his name.” Murdoch said.

“ Changed his name………..to what?” Sam asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” he said softly.

“ Johnny M………..You mean to tell me your Johnny is………….?”

“ Apparently so. I don’t know what to do Sam?” Murdoch said.

“ What do you mean you don’t know what to do Murdoch? You  do what you have waited fifteen years to do, you welcome your son home. I’m sure he had his reasons for becoming Madrid. Give the boy a chance to explain.” Sam said.

“ Scott is coming home Sam. He arrives next week.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, that’s wonderful news. You will have both your sons home.” Sam said.

“ They will be strangers to me Sam.” he said.

“ Yes, but the three of you can take time to get to know each other.” Sam suggested. “ Murdoch, it’s been twenty four years for Scott, and seventeen years for Johnny. Make it work.”


Val found Johnny sipping a beer early afternoon. “ Mind some company?” he asked as he sat down. “ I know what’s on yur mind kid. Go see him. Give him a chance to explain the truth to you.”

“ My whole life has been a lie Val. She lied to me, and I will never know why.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t have an answer for you on why she would do that kid. Listen, why don’t we ride to Morro Coyo, and you meet with him?” Val suggested.

“ You don’t have to go with me.” Johnny said.

“ I know I don’t. I want to go cuz that’s what friends do for each other.” Val said.

“ Thanks. I guess we can ride out in the morning. Should take us about twenty days to reach Morro Coyo.” he said.

“ Yur pappy’s name in case you was wondering is Murdoch. I asked that Pinkerton man.” Val said as he watched his friends eyes. “ Yur scared ain’t ya?”

“ What……..no…….I…….I don’t remember him. I was two when she took me from him, but I don’t remember anything about him.” Johnny said. “ Now seventeen years later I will finally meet him.”

“ You was just a baby. Maybe some memories will come back with time when yur in that house again.” Val suggested.

“ I need to see someone in the morning before we leave.” Johnny said.


“ I had hoped you would come see me before you left.” Father Garcia said.

“ I couldn’t leave without seeing the man who saved my life.” Johnny said as he walked up to Father Francisco Garcia, and allowed the man to give him a hug. “ How are you father?”

“ I am good, but I sense you are troubled my friend.” the father said.

“ Is there someplace we can go to talk?” Johnny asked.

“ Of course. Sister, please see to the children when they come. I will be in my office, and wish to not be disturbed for a spell.” Father Garcia said.

“ It has been a few years since I last seen you. How have you been my son?” Father Garcia asked as they entered a room in the back, and he closed the door.

“ Good.” Johnny said.

“ Sit, and tell me what is troubling you.” the father said as he poured them both some lemonade.

“ Thanks……..You remember me telling you what my mother said about my father, what he did when I was a baby?” he asked.

“ Yes. You said she told you he threw the two of you out of his home.” Father Garcia responded.

“She lied to me. Yesterday morning I was approached by a Pinkerton man. He said my old man has been looking for me for seventeen years. That’s why she was always moving from village to village, or town to town. Every time the Pinkerton man got too close to finding us, she moved, and it was always in the middle of the night that we left.” Johnny explained.

“ I see, so now that you know the truth, what are you going to do?” Father Garcia asked.

“ He wants to see me. I thought since I have nothing to lose, I would go. Maybe I could get answers to questions I’ve had for a long time.” Johnny responded.

“ Questions your mother can no longer answer, and refused to answer when she was alive?”  he asked.

“ Yeah. She would beat me every time I ever asked about him. The night she was killed……..she told me he did not want me because I’m a mestizo, a bastard child. He got her pregnant before they were married, and that I would always be a bastard. I told her she lied, that it was her he did not want……………I….I was angry, and hurt………..I ran away, but before I left, I called her a……….and wished she was dead. I didn’t know she would be murdered that very night by the man she was going to be with.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice.

“ You have been carrying blame for her death all these years. What you said to your mother that night did not get her killed John. You need to let go of that, and try to move on. Try to start over with your father. Take some time, and get to know him. Let getting to know your father start your healing.” Father Garcia suggested,

“  And what if he can’t accept me for who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ For a man to search seventeen years for his son, I think he will accept you as Johnny Madrid. Maybe over time, you can become Johnny Lancer. Someone * you * can be proud of being.” Father Garcia responded. “ You were forced to grow up before you should have my son. Thru no fault of your own, your mother put you in a situation that forced this to happen.”

“ Did you investigate the orphanage?” Johnny asked.

“ I wrote Father Martinez, and he said Father Ruhen is no longer there. That he has been relocated to a small town somewhere. That is all I know.” he said.

“ So he’s still with the church? Still free to do to other children what he did to me?” Johnny spat.

“ He is no longer allowed to work at an orphanage. His abusing children was observed on several occasions.” Father Garcia responded.

“ Where is he?” Johnny asked.

“ I do not know, and if I did, I could not tell you because of what I see in your eyes right now.” he responded.


Twenty four year old Scott Garrett Lancer, stepped of the stage in the dusty little town of Morro Coyo, and looked around. No green grass could be seen anywhere, just dirt, and dust. On the ride from the train station in Sacramento, he watched as the terrain changed from green to gold colored rolling hills. To the east, he could see mountains, some still covered in snow. It was dark when the train came over them. He couldn’t understand what anyone could see in such a place. What could his mother have seen in wanting to stay in such a barren place, but mostly, what kind of man was his father. All he really knew about the man was what his grandfather had told him when younger. That the man was responsible for the death of his mother, and wanted nothing to do with him.

“ Scott Lancer.” a voice asked.

“ Yes.” Scott responded.

“ I’m Frank, Mister Lancer was unable to meet you here, and asked me to pick you up. I have a buggy across the street to take you to Lancer.” Frank said as he picked up the luggage.

An hour later, Scott rode in the buggy, looking around at what looked like dried up, barren land. “ What a dry, barren place. What my mother seen in this land I will never understand.”

“ It’s the end of summer, the dry season, come January, everything will be different.” Frank said.

“ You worked for my father long?” Scott asked as he removed a kerchief, and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“ About ten years. He’s a good, fair man to work for.” Frank said.

“ I wouldn’t know about that. I was never a part of his life.” Scott said.

“ That wasn’t his doing. I know for a fact he wrote letters to you numerous times. I know because I’ve taken the letters to be mailed.” Frank said as he stopped the buggy on a hill. “ There it is, as far as the eye can see, Lancer.”

Scott stood up, and looked at the valley below. Impressed at what he seen in the valley below.

Murdoch watched as the buggy came into the yard, with a tall blonde haired man sat next to Frank. When the man got out of the buggy, Murdoch smiled at the slenderness, and height of his oldest son as he climbed down from the buggy,  and looked at the house. Looking toward the foyer, Murdoch mentally prepared to meet his oldest son for the second time in his twenty four years as he watched Scott enter the house, remove his hat, and walk into the grand room.

“ Drink?” he asked.

“ No thank you.” Scott said as he removed his gloves.

“ You got your mothers eyes.” Murdoch said as he poured a drink.

“ What do I call you? Under the circumstances father hardly seems…..”

“ Call me anything you like. We’re strangers to each other. Maybe that’s my fault, maybe it isn’t.” Murdoch cut in, and said.

“ No apology necessary.” Scott said.

“ You’ll get no apology from me. If the air needs clearing…….lets clear it.  Your mother’s family thought she was daft to marry me. Not a year off the boat from Inverness, and maybe they were right. You were born, she died. I left you in their hands, period.” Murdoch said gruffly. This isn’t how he wanted their first meeting to go, but the cards had been drawn.

“ I believe you left out the part where you came to Boston on my fifth birthday and seen me sir.” Scott said. “ I believe grandfather introduced you as a friend of his. What I don’t understand is why? Why did you not speak up then, and tell me you were my father?”

“ There’s no reason to dredge up the past. What we got is here and now. That has to be all that counts. You understand that don’t you son?”

“ Yes, I understand that. That means don’t ask questions. Especially why you never came to Boston to claim me.”

“ I wanted to son, but your grandfathers exact words were that it would be a bit premature. That you were only five years old. I told him you were old enough to know your own father. Harlan said he was your father, that you accept him as that. I told him I had come prepared to take you back home with me. He asked me if I was as prepared as he was. That it would take years to fight his legal guardianship with you endlessly dragged in court as a key witness. He asked me what I could give you to replace all that you had living with him. Years of court battles, and if I was lucky, a desolate stop of sand and rock to play on instead of grass. A mud hut to live in instead of a comfortable home. I thought when I went there, I was prepared to win you back, but I wasn’t.” Murdoch explained. “ I wanted to take you with me. There just wasn’t any way.”

“ But you’re my father!” Scott said with a raised voice.

“ Nobody knows that better than I do, and I’m grateful…….”

“ Grateful for what? Because you let somebody else raise your son?” Scott demanded.

“ I understand your being upset with me son. Believe me I do. If I could go back and change everything I would.” Murdoch said as he shook his head. “ I’ve lived twenty four years without you in my life. Twenty four years of heartache. I wrote to you numerous times every year. I sent you gifts for your birthday, and Christmas every year for those twenty four years.”

“ Is that offer of a drink still good?” Scott asked.

“ Of course it is. I have scotch, rye whiskey, brandy, bourbon, rum, and tequila.” Murdoch responded.

“ Brandy will do.” Scott said. “ You said earlier that we are strangers to each other. That you came from Inverness. Why did you come here?”

“ Yes. I came here thirty years ago. I left Scotland, and my family wanting a better life, my ship docked in Boston Harbor four months later. I found a job working the docks in a storage warehouse for your grandfather. That’s how I met your mother. Catherine was a thing of beauty. Her eyes were a soft blue like yours, she had beautiful blonde hair. We seen each other for just over a year. I saved up all the money I could, and we came west. When we topped that hill, and looked down at this place, your mother said she wanted a rose garden out back. I bought Lancer, and with your mother by my side, we made it our home.” Murdoch explained.

“ You left family back in Scotland?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. I have a brother still living there. He has a few sheep and Scottish Highland cattle.” Murdoch said.

“ How many acres is Lancer?” he asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres, twenty  thousand head of beef. The finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch said. “ I love this ground more than anything God ever created. I have a gray hair for every good blade of grass you see out there.”

Scott noticed a map on the wall, and walked over to it. He noticed the letter L in a circle in the bottom left corner. The map consisted of roads, streams, canyons, even a mine. He also noticed seven other ranches on the map that surrounded his fathers property. 

“ I have two line shacks for spring and fall round-up. North Mesa we use in the fall when castrating calves, and South Mesa we use in the spring during round-up, and branding. I keep both well stocked with food for the hands.” Murdoch explained.

“ I see the road the stage came in on crosses Lancer.” Scott said.

“ It does along the border of the property. The Conway ranch sits between Lancer, and where we drive the cattle to market. I’ve known Aggie for a long time. She’s one of my oldest, dearest friend. She knows Lancer drives cattle across her property here.” Murdoch said as he pointed to an area on the map. “ Listen, I’m sure you’re tired from your long journey. Why don’t you go upstairs, freshen up, and rest?”

“ I am a little tired.” Scott said.

“ Let me show you to your room. We can talk more during supper at six.” Murdoch said as he started toward the stairs.


Val sat looking across the fire at his friend. He could tell the boy was troubled about something. He knew Johnny had went to the church before they left. “ You’ve hardly said anything all day. Are you alright?” he asked.

Johnny looked over at him, but didn’t speak.

“ I’m a good listener if you want to talk.” Val said.

“ Thanks, but this is something I have to work out myself Val.” Johnny said.

“ You know, the Indians have a saying I think about sometimes.” he said.

“ Yeah, what’s that?” Madrid asked.

“ Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.” Val responded. “ Just take one day at a time kid. Don’t go fretting over what might happen. Just take what does happen.”

“ Yeah, but does that apply to someone like me?’ Johnny asked softly.

“ Why not. You think just because you made a living by that gun on yur hip for the last six years it doesn’t?” Val demanded.

“ Why not. All a gunfighter is, is a fallen angel sent down from above the good book says. Men beyond redemption.” he replied.

“ Kid, if you believe that, then you might as well let the next fool who calls you out, kill you.” Val snapped back. “ I’ve seen a lot of gunfighters in my time. What I see in you is what they call a kindred spirit. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t care about others. You wouldn’t hire that gun hand out to the right side.”

“ Anyone ever tell you how much of a pain in the ass you can be?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah, but I don’t let what others say about me bother me. It’s just words. Sure words can hurt, but………..Let me ask you this. Does it bother you when someone calls you a half-breed, or mestizo?” Val responded, and asked.

“ Alright Val, you can stop your preaching. I hear what you’re saying.” Johnny said as he stood up, and tossed his coffee.

“ Good. Listen, I’m gonna ride on over into Nevada, but I’ll be back kid. You give yur pappy a chance.” Val said.


Scott came downstairs at five thirty wearing a lounge suit, white shirt, and black string tie. Not seeing his father he walked around the room, looking at all the fine furnishings. The plush couch and chairs, the two high-backed leather chairs in front of his desk. The desk wasn’t as big as the one his grandfather used, but had beautiful carving on the legs. Walking around to look at it closer, Scott notice two pictures on the desk. The one he knew  was his mother, because his grandfather had the same picture. It was the other picture that had him a little puzzled. A what appeared to be Mexican woman wearing a beautiful dress. He could tell the picture was taken in this room of both women, because of the Lancer map on the wall behind them in the pictures. Setting the picture down, he continued to walk around the room. The one wall behind the huge dining table had several shelves full of books, something that always intrigued him. In a corner of the room on his right was a pair of blue chairs with a small table between them. On the wall above the chairs hung a gun rack full of rifles. Winchesters mostly. One rifle in particular caught his attention. On the end of the rack was a rifle he was very familiar with using. Taking the rifle down, he smiled slightly as he looked the rifle over.

“ I see you found my newest rifle.” Murdoch said.

“ 1872 legendary Sharps .52 caliber. I used one during the war.” Scott responded.

“ Do you still have it son?” he asked.

Scott put the rifle back on the rack. “ No sir. I lost it when I was captured during the last year of the war.” Scott said. “ I spent a year in Libby prison.”

“ I heard horrible things about Libby, and Andersonville. I’m glad you made it out alive.”  Murdoch said.

“ Can I ask you who the Mexican woman is in the photo on your desk?” Scott asked, changing the conversation. Though it had been two years since he walked out of Libby prison a free man.

“ That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about tonight son. I want you to keep in mind that what I’m going to tell you, by no means take away how much I loved your mother.” Murdoch said. “ A couple of years after your mother died, I met a woman when in Matamoros, Mexico at a cantina I stopped at. We had a short whirlwind courtship, and got married. We had a son together named Johnny. Two years later I awoke one morning and found her gone. She had packed up in the middle of the night, and left, taking Johnny with her. He was two when she left. For seventeen years I’ve had a Pinkerton man searching for them. He learned a short time ago that Maria was murdered almost nine years ago down in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Your brother, Johnny was placed in an orphanage where he stayed for three years being abused until he was able to run away one day. I have all the Pinkerton letters if you would like to read them?”

“ That won’t be necessary sir. Go on.” Scott said.

“ Belcher searched for Johnny, and finally found him in Yuma. He’s coming home to see me. Now I don’t know if he will stay or not. I’m hoping he does.” Murdoch said.

“ Why did it this man Belcher so long to locate him?” he asked.

“ Because he was going by a different last name. Remember he was a baby when Maria took him from me. She left me a letter, this letter.” he said as he handed the letter to Scott to read.

Murdoch

Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Your first wife, had she lived probably would have left you also. Now you have nothing to hold you back from building your fine estancia you want.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

“ She sounds like a bitter woman who used your son as a pawn.” Scott said.

“ Son, the name your brother goes by is well known along the border, and in Mexico. He’s known as Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said.

“ Letter says her last name is Dela Vega. If yours is Lancer, why does he go by Madrid?” he asked.

“ I don’t know why. Son, your brother is a gunfighter. One of the best, and he’s only seventeen. It would seem he emerged as Johnny Madrid four years after his mother was killed.” he replied.

“ A gunfighter. I’ve heard of the profession.” Scott said. “ Fallen angels brought down to hell the good book says. Men beyond redemption.”

“ I don’t think that’s true of your brother. He’s only nineteen. I doubt he’s hit rock bottom yet.” Murdoch responded.

“ You say he’s coming here, to Lancer?” he asked.

“ Yes. I don’t know when he will be arriving though. It’s at least a twenty day ride from Yuma, so I expect he should be arriving sometime in the next two weeks.” Murdoch said.

“ Should be an interesting meeting.” he said.

“ So you’re not upset?” he asked.

“ Why would I be upset that you found someone to love again after my mother died.” Scott said.

“Can I ask what your plans are?” Murdoch asked.

“ Well, I have been thinking about that. I believe the first thing I should do is buy the proper attire to wear if I am going to be working on this ranch.” Scott responded. “ I’ve never worked on a ranch, but I can learn, and I’m a hard worker.”

“ Alright, we can ride into Spanish Wells, tomorrow and purchase the clothing you will need. You don’t have to start working right away. Take some time, maybe ride around the ranch and get to know it, and the men.” Murdoch suggested.


“ Sam, I would like you to meet my oldest son Scott.” Murdoch said. “ Scott, this is Sam Jenkins.”

“ Well Scott, it’s a long time coming, it’s good to meet you.” Sam said.

“ Sam is the only doctor in the valley.” Murdoch said.

“ It’s good to meet you Mister Jenkins.” Scott said.

“ Call me Sam. Mister Jenkins sounds so formal.” Sam said as they shook hands. “ I must say, you have your mothers eyes.”

“ That’s what I told him.” Murdoch said.

“ We are just on our way to eat lunch, would you like to join us Mister………Sam?” Scott asked.

“ I would like to, but I’m on my way out to the Carter home. Young Timmy decided to fall from that tree, and break his right arm.” Sam said.

“ Martha said he would eventually do just that.” Murdoch said.

“ Any word from Johnny?” Sam asked.

“ No, no word. I guess he’ll show up when he’s ready. Why don’t you come out for supper on Sunday?” Murdoch responded.

“ That sounds good. I just might do that. Maybe Scott can enlighten me on some of the things Boston has?” Sam said. “ I’ll see you.”

“ He seems like a very nice man. You known him long?” Scott asked as they walked to the cafe.

“ I’ve known Sam twenty three years. He delivered your brother.” Murdoch said as they walked into the cafe, and sat down at a table.

“ What was he like?” Scott asked.

“ Your brother? He was very independent. Especially when he started crawling, and then walking. Once he……….once he started walking, there was no stopping him. That boy was so damn fast. My cook, Maria, she spoiled him rotten. She was stern on keeping him in line when in the kitchen. Your brother learned real fast just how much a wooden spoon hurts. Now I don’t mean she beat him with it. She would just tap him on his hand, and that boy thought he was being beat. He would come running to me, and point at Maria as she chased him into the grand room.”

“ He sounds like a handful.” Scott said. “  Putting aside who he is, or became, what do you think he’s like?”

“  I think he’s a caring person. From what Belcher has learned so far, he’s never crossed the line. He’s not wanted by the law for anything that he could find on this side of the border.” Murdoch said.

“  You say that like he might be wanted on the other side of the border in Mexico.” Scott said.

“ He killed six Rurales. Belcher couldn’t learn why, but said he is a wanted man in Mexico. He also learned that Johnny does what he does for nothing more than a place to sleep, and food in his stomach.” Murdoch said.

“ What is a Rurale?” Scott asked.

“ Mexican Army.” he said. “ If Johnny has killed Rurales, he’ll have a bounty on him.”

“ But coming here, won’t he be safe from these Rurales?” he asked.

“ The Rurales yes, but not other gunfighters, or men who know he has a bounty on his head in Mexico.” Murdoch responded.

“Do you think he knows this?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know son.” Murdoch replied.

Scott could hear worry in his father’s voice. “ I know you want him to come home, but with all you now know about who he is, and what could happen, do you still feel that way?”

“  Yes I do. I’ve spent thirty years building Lancer up. It’s all I have to leave you boys. I would like to make you and your brother third owners in Lancer.” Murdoch responded.

“ A third owner. That’s a very generous offer.” Scott said.

“ Would you accept it?” he asked.

“ I have no plans of returning to Boston, but do you think he will accept?” he asked.

“  I’m hoping he does. I want him to live a life not as a gunfighter. I can’t force him to stay. I can only ask him to stay.” Murdoch said. “ Can I ask why since I told you you have a younger brother, you haven’t once called him by name, or referred  him in a sentence as your brother.”

“ I was not aware I had not. I will say, it is a shock to learn I have a little brother. Especially to learn he is a gunfighter.” Scott responded. “ Tell me something sir. Did my grandfather know about your second wife, and that I have a brother?”

“ Only if he read the letters I wrote to you telling you. I talked about Johnny, and how I had still not found him in at least one letter a year to you.” his father said.

“ The letters. I never received any of your letters sir. Grandfather intercepted them I believe. When I asked him about it at dinner after talking to the Pinkerton man, he denied it. He said you never wrote to me, and that you didn’t want me.” Scott said.

“ I wrote to you son. Your grandfather was angry because your mother married me, and then came here with me.” Murdoch said.

“ Your man Frank also said he took your letters to mail.” Scott added. “ I do want you to know I don’t need anything from Grandfather, except the truth, but I highly doubt I will ever get the truth from that man.”

“ I’m sorry son. I never meant to cause trouble between you and your grandfather.” Murdoch said.

“ My grandfather made his own bed. He can sleep in it.” Scott responded.

“  How about tomorrow I take you around the ranch, and let you meet some of the men?” Murdoch asked.

“ Alright. I look forward to it.” Scott said.


Johnny rode up to the big house, and dismounted as the sun set behind the San Benito mountains. All afternoon he rode around the perimeter of the huge ranch, staying out of sight of the hands. Walking up to the door, he stood there trying to decide if he should knock, or just open the door, and walk in. It was after-all, his father’s home. His father, hell he didn’t even know the man, let alone what he would say to him.

“ Can I help you?” Scott asked as he walked up to him.

“ I’m looking for……….is this Lancer?” Johnny stammered.

“ It is, I’m Scott Lancer. If you are here about a job………..” Scott said as he went to open the door.

“ Your father……….Murdoch Lancer is your father?” Johnny cut in.

“ He is. Can I ask what your business is here?” Scott responded, and asked.

Johnny stood there in shock. Clearly this man was older than him by at least five years. Confused, he started for his horse, but stopped when he came almost face to face with an older man.

“ Johnny.” Murdoch said.

Johnny started to his horse, but was stopped when his left arm was grabbed. Frozen in fear, he started to tremble.

Murdoch felt his son start to tremble as he held his arm. “ Son, don’t leave.”

Unable to speak, Johnny glanced at the tall blonde man walking over closer to him. “ Johnny……….I’m your brother. Please………come inside……….Please.”

Murdoch let go of Johnny’s arm. “ I’ve searched for you for so long son. I don’t want to lose you again.” he pleaded.

“ Come inside, have supper with us.” Scott suggested. “ I would like to get to know my little brother, and for him to get to know me too.”

“  Don’t beg him son. I don’t want your brother doing anything he’s not ready to do.” Murdoch said before heading inside.

Scott stood there looking at his little brother a few seconds before heading inside.


“ He’s been standing out there for twenty minutes now.” Scott said.

“ His life hasn’t been an easy one son. You have to remember, Johnny didn’t grow up with luxury, and fine things like you did. He never had security after his mother’s death. He’ll come in when he’s ready. Let’s eat.”

Johnny walked in thru the veranda doors, and stopped. Looking around, he couldn’t believe the size of the room.

“ Are you alright?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny ignored his father, and started walking around the room, looking at everything. All the plush, fine furniture, and tables. The paintings on the walls, a model of a ship behind what he assumed was his father’s desk.

“ You want a drink?” Murdoch asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ Tequila.” Johnny said. Anger burned inside him as he thought about how poor he lived in Mexico, seeing all this. “ You been living in this big fancy house, with all these fancy things in it, food in your belly every day, clothes on your back all these years?”

“ What did your mother tell you?” he asked.

“ I think I will leave you two alone to talk.” Scott said.

“ Why? Does it bother you that I came back? That you’re not the only son he has? Or does it bother you that your half-brother is a half-breed?” Johnny said.

“ Until two weeks ago I didn’t know anything about you.” Scott said. “ I was merely being courteous.”

“ How could you not know anything about me, or my mother being his wife?” he demanded.

“ Scott didn’t grow up here.” Murdoch cut in. “ Catherine died right after she had Scott. He was raised by his grandfather back in Boston.”

“ Why’d you marry her if you were only going to throw us out?” Johnny asked.

“ I never threw Maria out. I awoke one morning and found her gone, you along with her. She ran off in the middle of the night with a man she met, a gambler or something. I searched for you whenever I could for two years, after which I hired a Pinkerton man.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny downed the shot of tequila, set the glass down, and walked over to the fireplace.  “ Did my mother know I had a brother?”

“ Yes. I told her about my first marriage. I kept no secrets from her.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny wrapped his arms around himself, hugging himself tightly as his body trembled. Dropping his head so his chin touched his chest.

Murdoch walked up behind his youngest. He could see the boy was trembling. “ Johnny, I know this is all a shock to you, and for that son, I’m sorry. I don’t know why she left me, or why she lied to you. I want to show you something I’ve kept for seventeen years. It’s the note your mother left me the night she left.” he said as he went to his desk, and opened the bottom drawer. Taking the file out, he walked back over to Johnny, and handed it to him. “ Read this son. I want no secrets between us. This is everything I have on you. All I know, and I would like to know if any of it is inaccurate when you finish. Me and Scott will be out on the portico to give you some privacy, and if you want to talk.”

Johnny took the file, and walked over to the couch to sit down. Opening the file, he seen a note right on top signed by his mother.

Murdoch
Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Eyes that will always make him a half-breed. Your half-breed bastard son.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

A tear ran down his cheek as he read the hateful words his mother wrote. His biggest never to be answered question will always be why did she lie to him?


“ Do you think it was wise letting him read those so soon?”  Scott asked.

“ I want no secrets between us son. Any of us. I figured showing him that note his mother left me all those years ago would help him understand I had nothing to do with her leaving.” Murdoch responded.

“ He seems pretty overwhelmed just from seeing the inside of the house.” Scott said.

“ I noticed that too. I hate that he grew up without all this. That as his father, I couldn’t protect him.” Murdoch said with sadness.

“ This could have repercussions beyond repair sir. He seems the type who doesn’t want to talk, especially about his past.” Scott said.

“ All we can do is listen when he does want to talk son. If he decides to stay, and I hope he does, I want you two to get to know each other.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked out the doors to join them.

“ How long after you met her until the two of you married?” Johnny asked.

“ Not long son. It was a whirlwind courtship.” his father said.

“ So you got her pregnant before the two of you got married. Is that why you married her………..because of me?” he demanded.

“ Absolutely not son. I loved your mother……….I”

“ I asked you how long?”

“ I believe it was four months.” Murdoch responded.

“ Four months  is hardly time enough to know someone. Especially to marry that person.” Johnny said with some agitation to his voice.

“ Son, your mother was a thing of beauty. She took my breath away with her beauty. There’s times when………”

“ Was it the same with his mother? Did you bed her before you were married?” Johnny demanded.

“ What happened between my father, and mother is of no concern of yours!” Scott said firmly as he stepped closer.

“ I’m just wondering if what he considers love was really lust?” he asked.

“  Young man…….I love both my wives with all my heart, and that is all you need to know.” Murdoch responded. “ I’m sorry your mother took you away from your home. I’m sorry you had to live the life you did. I’m sorry you had to start living by that gun on your hip to survive.  I………we both lost something neither of us can ever get back son. All we can do is move forward. What happened in the past is dead and gone. Can we try to be a family now?”

“ You want to be a family knowing who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ Who you are is my son, Johnny Lancer, but if having you here as my son means I have to accept you as  Johnny Madrid also, then I will.  I will accept that, and all the risk that comes with it.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Men will come, maybe not right away, but men will come, and they will call me out. I’m the best old man. I have a reputation men will try and kill me for. You really willing to accept that?” he asked.

“ Yes by god. Lancer takes care of its own.” he said.

“ You want me to stay, then you need to know, both of you need to know……..men will find me, and they will call me out to dance.” Johnny said.

“ To dance?” Scott asked.

“ Gunfight.” Murdoch said.

“ Gunfight. You mean………..”

“ What I mean is men want my reputation, and the only way they can get it, is to kill me.” Johnny said.

“ We may not know each other………….yet, but I will be damned if I’m going to allow any man to try and kill my little brother just so he can have a damn reputation.” Scott said with anger.

“ Where’d you grow up at?” Johnny asked.

“ Boston.”

“ Boston, bet you got yourself one of those fine educations, lived in a rich house with fine clothes and such.” Johnny said. “ Tell me something Boston, how many times you go to bed hungry? How many times did you sleep out in the cold?”

“  I was in the war, so I know about sleeping out in the cold, and being hungry, because I did it fighting for what was right for four years.”  Scott said with a raised voice. “ I also spent just over a year in Libby prison, starving, watching men die of starvation, sickness, or freezing to death, killing themselves to end their suffering…….and all while the guards laughed. I watched as men waited until someone died, or was near dead before they took the dead man’s clothes off him so they could try and stay warm.”

Johnny stared at his brother, unable to speak for a few seconds. “ War isn’t the hell Boston…….prison is.”

“ I would have to concur with you on that little brother.” Scott said.

“ Will you stay?” Murdoch asked.

“ I make no promises……..and have nothing planned…….so yeah, I’ll stay.” Johnny responded. “ But I need to know something. What do you want from me?”

“I want no favors from either of you……….I want your arms, and your legs, and your guts, if you have any.” Murdoch said.

“ Alright, suppose I come up with all these arms, legs, and guts you’re talking about. What do you come up with?” Madrid asked.

“ One third!” he said.

Of what?” Johnny asked.

“ Everything you see out there………one hundred thousand acres, ten thousand head of cattle, and the finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch said.

“ One third…………..Just like that?”

“ Yes, one third to each of you. Only I call the tune.” Murdoch explained.

“ The look in your eyes tells me he already asked you. Did you accept?” he asked.

“  I did. There’s nothing for me back in Boston.” Scott replied.

“ What about the man who raised you back in Boston?” Johnny asked.

“ My grandfather, and I no longer see eye to eye on things.”

“ Listen, it’s getting late, so why don’t we all get a good night’s sleep, and have breakfast in the morning. Then we can ride into Green River, and see my lawyer Randall, and take care of the contract.” Murdoch suggested.


Scott opened his brothers door slowly, and called out softly. Getting no response, he walked in, and seen Johnny sleeping on his right side. Walking around the bed, Scott gasped as he seen the scars on his brothers back. Reaching down, he gently shook his brothers left shoulder, and stumbled backward as he found himself staring at the business end of his brothers colt.

“ Your habit of sneaking around in another man’s room almost got you killed………..brother.” Johnny said.

“ I………I’m sorry. I wanted to make sure you were awake for breakfast is all.” Scott stammered. “ Do you always sleep with that gun?”

“ Only two things share my bed, a good woman next to me, and my colt under my pillow.” Johnny said. “ Now………why don’t you go on downstairs and tell the old man I’ll be along shortly.”

“ Johnny…………your back……What happened to you?”

“ I’m not at liberty to tell someone I just met about my past.” he responded.

“ Alright.” Scott said as he walked to the door, and headed back downstairs.

.

Chapter 3

“ Is your brother awake?” Murdoch asked.

“ He is, and will be down directly.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee, and sat down.

“ Something wrong son?” Murdoch asked. He could tell something was bothering his oldest.

“ Those Pinkerton reports…….did they say anything about him being abused?” Scott asked.

“ No, just that he had been shot. Why?”

“  He…………..Johnny has scars on his back. Scars from being whipped.” Scott said.

“ Are you sure son?” he asked with concern in his voice.

“ As sure as I’m sitting here. I’ve seen scars like that on slaves during the war.” he said.

“ Did you ask him about them?” he asked.

“ I did, and he said he is not at liberty to discuss his past with someone he just met.” Scott responded.

“ I think with Johnny, we are both going to have to go slow, learn what we can, and not press him about what we don’t know about his past son.”

“ I figured I would start doing that tomorrow.” Scott said. “ That section of fence needs fixed along the salt slough.”

“ He may not be to happy about that.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the kitchen.

“ What won’t I be happy about old man?” Johnny asked as he walked into the kitchen.

“ Son…..could you  not call me that please?” Murdoch asked.

“ I could, but given the circumstances, calling you father hardly seems right.” Johnny responded as he sat down.

“ Debes mostrar respeto a tu padre.”( You should show respect to your father.) Maria said as she brought a platter of eggs, bacon, and biscuits to the table.

“ El respeto debe ser ganado por mí, debe ser brindado por mí.”( Respect has to be earned by me, to be given by me.) Johnny responded as he reached for the spoon.

Maria slapped Johnny’s hand away with anger in her eyes.

“ What the hell….You need to teach your hired help.”

“ Son, Maria isn’t hired help. She’s family.” Murdoch said.

“ Family of who?” Johnny asked.

“ Maria has been cooking for me for twenty seven years. She helped Sam deliver you, and raise you. So I expect you to show her respect.” Murdoch responded.

“ Me criaste?” ( You raised me?) he asked.

“ Si. Eras mi angelito de ojos azules. Me rompió el corazón cuando tu madre te alejó de tu padre…y de mí.”( Yes. You were my little blue-eyed angel. It broke my heart when your mother took you away from your father……and me.)

“ ¿Cómoera ella, mi madre?”( What was she like, my mother?)

“ Ella te amaba mucho, pero un año después de que naciste, se volvió distante y triste…he dicho demasiado. Come, estás demasiado flaco.” ( She loved you very much, but a year after you were born, she became distant toward you, and sad…….I have said to much. Eat, you are too skinny.)

Johnny sat staring at the woman. A woman who knew his mother, and him when he was a baby. A woman who could fill in two years of his life he knew nothing about.

“ Eat up boys. I want to meet with Randall before noon.” Murdoch said.


“ Sign there!” Randall said as he placed the agreement in front of Scott.

Scott signed his name, and laid the pen down.

“  Just above your name!” Randall said as he placed the paper in front of Murdoch.

Johnny stood chewing on the stampede string to his hat as he watched his brother, and father sign a piece of paper that would change his life forever. Once he signed, he would be a third owner of the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin valley, but did he have a right to it? Did he have a right to put lives in possible danger if someone came calling him out? Did he have a right to try and live a life as a son, and brother, and not as a gunfighter anymore? Most of last night he sat up thinking about these three questions, and every time he would come to the same conclusion.

“ And you sir!” Randall said as he offered the pen to Johnny.

“ Oh Mister Randall, I should have told you, that last name should read, John Madrid, not Lancer.” Murdoch said, hoping his son wouldn’t think he had changed his mind, or was ashamed of him.

“ I’ll fix it in a minute.” Randall said.

“No,………let it stand.” Johnny said as he took the pen, and signed his birth name for the very first time, John Lancer.

Scott looked at his father, and smiled. He worried, and prayed his little brother would still agree to this, and give up the only life he ever knew for a better, safer life.

“ Congratulations Murdoch, you now have both of your sons as part owners of Lancer. I’ll get this filed in Sacramento right away.” Randall said.

“ It’s been a long time coming.” Murdoch said.

“ How about a cold beer to celebrate?” Scott suggested.

“ Having a cold beer with both my sons is something I have waited a long time to do.” Murdoch said as the three Lancer men walked out of the lawyers office, and headed to the saloon.

“ So what do you want from us now?” Johnny asked twenty minutes later as they sat sipping a cold beer.

“ Well, you will work six days a week from seven until five. You will be paid a dollar a day like everyone else.  Breakfast and supper are served at six sharp, except Sundays. I attend church in Morro Coyo, and usually eat in town before I come home.” Murdoch explained.

“ I don’t go to church. Got no reason to.” Johnny said. “ So basically all me a Boston are is hired hands to you?”

“ No, you are my sons,  and you will do your share of the work. I expect when I assign a job, that job is finished at days end. If not, I would like an explanation why it wasn’t. Your last name is Lancer, therefore you can ramrod when the need comes up, but I call the tune. Any and all changes, purchases for the ranch, and jobs must be approved by me. All receipts are put in a ledger,and at months end the books have to be balanced for taxes. I will teach the two of you how I do that, and you will spend a day doing the books. You will be rounding up, branding, and castrating cattle in the fall. We usually do that at the North Mesa line-shack. Every three years I drive the steers to market. On occasion I sell beef to the army or miners.” Murdoch responded, and explained.


Johnny and Scott rode into the yard, and dismounted a year later. Both brothers had become close, always bantering, back and forth, getting to know each other better. “ Looks like Murdoch has a visitor..” Scott said as they dismounted.

“ Horse has come a long way.” Johnny said as he looked the horse over.

“ Well, let’s go see who our visitor is.” Scott said as they walked into the house.

“ I’ll be in in a second.” Johnny said.

“ Aah Scott, I’m glad you’re home.” Murdoch said. “ Where’s your brother?”

“ He will be in in a minute.” Scott responded.

“ We have a visitor I want you both to meet.” Murdoch said.

“ We seen the horse. It looks like it’s been rode pretty far.” Scott said.

“ Joe, I want you to meet my oldest son Scott. Scott, this is a dear old friend, Joe Barker.” Murdoch said.

“ Mister Barker.” Scott said as they shook hands.

“ Scott, your father has told me a lot about you. I knew your mother.” Joe said.

“ And this is my other son, Johnny.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the room.

“ Johnny Madrid!” Joe said.

“ You two know each other?’ Murdoch asked.

“ Not personally. I know Madrid from seeing him gun down two men in my town.” Joe said. “ Murdoch, did you say this is your son?” he asked.

“ I did, Maria’s boy, he came home a little over a year ago.” Murdoch said.

“ What brings you here Mister Barker?” Scott asked, hoping to change the direction of conversation.

“ I was headed to Sacramento, and thought I would stop and see an old friend.” Joe said. “ I didn’t know both your sons came home.”

“ They did, and I couldn’t be happier.” Murdoch said. “ They came back a couple weeks apart.”

“ Do you know who your son Johnny is?” he asked.

“ I know who he was, and who he is now, and who he is now is all that matters.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, your so called friend turned me over to a lynch mob. I was seconds away from stretching a rope when I was able to escape. That’s what kind of man your so called friend is.” Johnny said as he walked closer to Barker.

“ Johnny……….”

“ Stay out of this Scott.” Johnny ordered.

“ No….I won’t brother. I know what you are planning, and I’m going with you.” Scott responded firmly. “ You will need someone you can trust with you.”

“ Now wait just one minute.” Joe ordered. “ Murdoch, I don’t……….”

“ I don’t give a damn what you want.” Johnny said as he stepped closer to Barker.

Murdoch stood frozen, unable to move. He’d never seen this side of his son before. For the past year Johnny had been home, they had gotten along, and not once had they had trouble. His gut screamed to stop his son, but he couldn’t move. Instead he stood frozen as his son went from being Johnny Lancer, to being Johnny Madrid in a matter of seconds.

“ Murdoch, you better say something to your son!” Joe ordered.

“ Johnny…….he’s not worth it brother.” Scott said as he stepped closer, and put a hand on his brothers right arm.

“ Is what he said true Joe? Did you turn my son over to be hanged by a lynch mob?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Murdoch, you don’t understand. I did what I had to do to save my town from being burned down. Those two men he gunned down had a lot of friends.” Joe responded. “ Listen, I didn’t know he was your son.”

“ You wear a badge, and represent the law. A gunfighter is just as much entitled to the protection of the law as any other man is. Those two men called him out. They started the trouble, and got what they deserved. You turned him over to be hung. You have no right wearing that badge, and I want you to leave my house.” Murdoch ordered.

Joe stood looking at his friend.” Murdoch, you know nothing about this boy, and he pops back up in your life suddenly.”

“ He’s my son Joe. I know him better than I know you.” Murdoch said.

“  You were asked to leave, since you don’t hear so well. Now you can either walk out those doors, or be carried out those doors.” Scott said firmly.


“ Can I come in?” Murdoch asked his son.

“ I know why you came up here. You want to know the whole story on what I said earlier?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes I would, but that’s not why I came up here son. I came up here to apologize to you for allowing that man in our house. I thought I knew him……….”

“ Murdoch, how well do you ever really know someone?” Johnny asked.

“ I would like to get to know my son better.” Murdoch said. “ I know you don’t like to talk about your past son, and as your father, I can respect that. I don’t want to lose what we’ve built together this past year. I don’t want to lose you. I lost you once, I can’t lose you again.”

“ Your friend was the sheriff of Lordsburg. I stopped for the night to sleep in a bed. I came out of the hotel the next morning, and two men called me out. He locked me up for three days after, and then proceeded to hand me over to a lynch mob to be hanged. I don’t like killing Murdoch. I always believed that when a man gets to a point where they take killing lightly, he needs to find a different profession. It’s not a good thing to kill a man, or cause a man to get killed. It makes you sick inside.” Johnny said. “ You know……………..It’s easy to kill a man……………But it’s impossible to bring him back to life again.”

“ Son, I never once thought you took killing a man lightly. I’ve never seen you called out, and I pray I don’t, but if I’m with you, and you are, I will do ……….”

“ You will do nothing.” Johnny cut in. “ You interfere, and you will get me killed. I can’t be distracted when I’m facing someone fully intent on killing me.”

“ Son……..I can’t………”

“ I mean it Murdoch……….you’ll get me killed, and I don’t really want to die.” Johnny cut in. “ You talk about not wanting to lose me……That goes both ways old man….I don’t want to lose you, Scott, or what I have now.”

“ Let me ask you something son. You’ve been here just over a year, do you still feel someone would?” Murdoch asked.

“ As long as Johnny Madrid is still alive……..yeah I do.” Johnny said.


“ Mister Lancer! We got fifty head of cattle gone.” Frank said.

“ Where?” Murdoch asked.

“ Needle Rock. The fence is down.” Frank said.

“ Down or cut?” Johnny asked.

“ It looks to have been cut.” he responded. “ There were horse tracks following the herd.”

“ How many riders?” Scott asked as he stood up.

“ Six. I tracked them to the canyon.” he said.

“ Boys, I want you to be careful. Take Frank, Walt, with you.” Murdoch requested.


“ This is as far as I tracked them.” Frank said.

Johnny dismounted, and looked at the tracks. “ One of the horses has special shoes on the hind feet. Given the depth of the tracks, the rider is over two hundred pounds. Two of the other horses have no shoes.”

“ There’s several places they could take the cattle in that canyon. It’s all sand, so tracking them isn’t going to be easy Johnny.” Frank said.

“ Only two lead out though. The others are dead ends. A man on foot can get out, but not a horse or cattle.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. “ Frank, I want you and Walt to take the one east. Me and Scott will take the one west that comes out on the Conway ranch. If you see them, don’t try anything. One of you come get us.”

“  Sure thing Johnny, you two be careful.” Walt said as they split up.

“ Can I ask why we are going this way brother? I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense to take cattle you just stole east, away from the ranch.” Scott asked as they started into the canyon.

Johnny stopped his horse. “ Didn’t Murdoch say he would be driving a herd of cattle thru the Conway spread?”

“ Yeah, but that’s not until next month.”  Scott responded.

“ Who’s to say he didn’t decide to move them earlier. Nobody will think otherwise if they see them. It’s perfect.” Johnny said.

“ You’re right little brother.” he said.

“ Look, there’s their tracks. Ride back and get Frank, and Walt.”  Johnny said.

“ I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Scott said.

“ I promise you I won’t do anything until you get back.” Johnny said. “ It shouldn’t take you more than thirty minutes.”

“ Alright.” Scott said as he turned his horse around, and took off at a gallop.

Johnny rode slowly to the end of the canyon, and stopped. He could hear the cattle, and  knew there was a small pond fed by an underground stream where the rustlers probably stopped to water the cattle, and he was right. He could see five of the six riders positioned around the herd as they drank. “ Come on brother. They get much further, and we won’t have any cover.” he said softly as he dismounted, and pulled his rifle. Looking above him, he seen an outcrop of rocks he could position himself on above the herd. Once positioned, Johnny looked down, and seen two of the riders he knew, George, and Charles Miller, both hired four months ago at Lancer. Lee Young, Henry Wilson, and Roy Martin he knew worked for the Conway ranch. Numerous times on a Saturday night he had played poker with them in Spanish Wells. Looking around, Johnny couldn’t find the sixth man, and wondered where he was.


“ You think them Lancer’s know yet?” Charlie asked.

“ Oh I recon they do little brother. Them there rich Lancer’s won’t miss a measly hundred head of cattle.” George said.

“ Yeah, the two of us getting hired was luck.” Charlie said. “ I still don’t understand why we had to have them other fellas. We could’ve stole these cows without them.”

“ You know the two of us couldn’t handle moving this many cows by ourselves. We needed extra help.”” George said.

“ I just don’t like us…………how we know we can trust them?  Especially that Jackson, he’s bad trouble, I don’t like the way he wears his gun, all low on his hip and all.” Charlie said.

“ Lee says he’s a gunfighter from down south. Henry, and Roy, they’re just along to help move them. You know we can’t move that many cows by ourselves.”

“ Were is Jackson?” Roy asked as he rode over to the brothers.

“ Probably off somewhere practicing. I never seen anyone so fast at drawing.” George said.

“ I’ve heard of one faster. In fact I bet Jackson has heard of him too.” Roy said.

“ Yeah, and who would that be?” Charlie asked.

“ Johnny Madrid. He’s a half-breed runs down along the border. He’s one deadly sonofabitch I tell ya.” Roy responded.

“ Who’s a deadly sonofabitch?” Lee asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” he said.

“ Johnny Madrid was killed by the Rurales a few years back.”  Lee said.

“ Let’s get them moving.” George ordered.

“ You sure nobody will stop us?” Henry asked.

“ I’m sure. I told you the Conway ranch lets them drive their cattle across their land to get to the pens. So nobody will stop us.” George said.

“ What about Jackson?”  Charlie asked.

“ Forget him. Let’s go.”  George ordered.


“ Where the hell are you brother? Their moving the……….Sonofabitch!……… Jackson.” Johnny said between clenched teeth. “ I owe you, you bastard.”

Three years ago outside Uvalde, Texas, working for Thomas O’Connor, of the O’Connor ranch, a half a million acre paradise in southern Texas to help guard the  Uvalde County Tax Assessor and Collector from being robbed during the course of his duties. Jackson, the prime suspect in the robberies, had managed to elude capture numerous times. At wits end, O’Connor hired Madrid to guard the man. During his second week of guarding the man, with about thirty thousand dollars collected, Madrid was ambushed at a ranch the two men rode up to to collect the taxes from. Having no way of knowing Jackson and another man waited inside the house, having killed the ranch owner, and his wife, the tax collector walked up to the door, knocked, and was gunned down as the door opened. Seconds later, as he drew his colt to fire, Johnny felt two bullets slice thru flesh as he returned fire. Trying to control his horse, and shoot proved to be a challenge as another bullet tore thru his upper right arm, causing him to drop his pistol. Spurring his horse as a forth bullet pierced his back, Johnny rode out of there. It had taken him two months to be strong enough to ride. The doctor instructed him to get the bullet removed by a younger doctor more advanced in medicine as soon as possible, but that was something he never did bother having done.

The sound of horses brought him back to the present. Picking up a small stone, he tossed it to hit his brother’s right shoulder to stop him.

Scott felt the rock hit is shoulder, and looked up, finding his brother on an outcropping above him. “ How far?” he asked softly.

Johnny held up a hand to let his brother know he was coming down. “ They just started moving the herd again.”

“ You seen them?” Frank asked.

“ Yeah, George and Charlie Miller, both of which were hired a couple weeks ago, Henry Wilson, Roy Martin, and Lee Young, all three of them will probably give up, and take off if any shooting.” Johnny explained.

“ You know them?” Walt asked.

“ I’ve seen them around before. Never knew any of them to come this far from the border though.” he said.

“ What about the sixth man brother?” Scott asked.

“  He’s the one riding the chestnut. He’s mine.” Johnny said firmly.

Scott seen a look in his brothers eyes like he’d never seen before. A look that sent a shiver down his spine.  A look that clearly said that not matter what, his little brother had something from his past with the sixth man.

“ How we going to do this Johnny?” Walt asked.

“ Ride up to them, and give them the option of hanging, or dying from a bullet.” he said.

“ We take them to the law.” Scott said.

“ Stealing cattle is a hanging offense Scott. Them dying from a bullet would save Green River the trouble of a trial.” Frank said.

“ We don’t murder them Frank. If they surrender………”

“ If they surrender brother……..we take them in.” Johnny cut in. “ That code of the west you asked me about once……..that don’t apply when someone steals stock, so you might want to remember that brother.” Johnny said as he mounted up, and started out of the canyon.

“ Scott, there’s something between your brother and that sixth fella.” Walt said. “ He never said his name.”

“ I know. I seen the look in his eyes.” Scott said.


Murdoch came out of the house as four riders rode up to the house.

“ Need to lock these two up until we can take them into Green River to stand trial, and hang.” Johnny said.

“ George and Charlie Miller, I just hired you two a month ago, and this is the thanks I get.” Murdoch said.

“ Only reason they wanted the jobs old man was to steal our cattle.” Johnny said. “ Get down you two.”

“ Frank, and Walt took three others into Morro Coyo to be buried.” Scott said.

“ And the cattle?” he asked.

“ Scattered on the Conway ranch.” Scott replied. “ Mrs Conway will have some of her hands help round them up early tomorrow morning.”

“ Let’s go boys. We got a nice cell just waiting for you two.” Johnny said as he pulled his gun, and shoved  the older brother toward the barn.

“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.

“ There were six of them. The Miller brothers, the three dead, and one other it would seem Johnny knows.” Scott said as they walked into the house.

“ Knows?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir, and I don’t think it’s in a good way.” Scott said. “ I seen a look in his eyes I have never seen before, and quite frankly, it scared me.”

“ You mean he became Madrid?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know for sure, but I believe so.” he said.


Johnny Walked out of the barn and was suddenly slammed to the ground. Rolling onto his left side, he drew his colt and fired, hitting Jackson in the chest, dropping him to his knees as a second bullet tore into his side.. Ignoring the pain, Johnny stood up, and staggered over to Jackson, laying on the ground.

“ Go to hell.” Johnny said before pulling the trigger. Turning, he started walking toward the house, stopped, and dropped to his knees as his father rushed to his side.

“ Oh my god!” Murdoch said as he rushed to Johnny’s side. He could see the blood spreading across his chest.

“ Pa……….I” Johnny said before blackness claimed him.

Scott reached down, scooped his little brother up in his arms, and headed to the house.


Sam came downstairs as the sun started to rise over the San Bonito mountains.

“ Sam?” Murdoch said.

“ He’s alive. I removed both bullets, but he’s lost a lot of blood.  Barring he doesn’t get an infection, he will be okay.” Sam said. “ Can I ask who shot him?”

“ We had a hundred head of cattle stolen. The boys, Walt, and Frank tracked them, Captured two alive that are locked up in the barn, killed three, but the sixth man wasn’t there. Apparently he followed them back here, and ambushed Johnny when he came out of the barn from locking up the two.” Murdoch explained.

“ Johnny knows him. He became real defensive when we asked the Miller brothers about him. He also knew two of the three dead men.” Scott said.

“ Men from his past!” Murdoch said.

“ Just because he knows them, doesn’t mean he knows them sir.” Scott said firmly.


Johnny sat enjoying the morning sun  a month later on the veranda porch when his brother came walking toward him from the barn.

“ Murdoch should be back from Sacramento tomorrow.” Scott said.

“ Should be.” Johnny said as he stood up.  “ Why don’t you do us both a favor, and get it said brother?”

Scott looked at his brother a few seconds before removing his hat, and wiping the sweat from his brow. “ Get what said brother?”

“ Whatever has  been bothering you since that day.” Johnny said before turning to go back inside. “ I’m not a fool Boston. You’ve been distant to me.” he added before walking inside.

Scott sighed, shook his head, and followed his brother inside. He knew there was no way of avoiding this talk. He just wondered how his brother would take it when he told him how he felt about that day they got the cattle back.

Johnny walked over and poured a shot of tequila, downed it, and poured another. “ You’ve had a burr under your saddle ever since we got the cattle back.” he said before downing the second shot. “ Get it said brother.”

“ Alright I will. That day in the canyon, I seen a look in your eyes that quite frankly….sent a shiver down my spin Johnny. How do you know the sixth man?” Scott asked.

Johnny poured another shot, and downed it before walking over to look out the big bay window behind Murdoch’s desk. “ A couple years ago I took a job in Uvalde, Texas guarding the county tax collector. We rode up to this ranch to collect the taxes, and when the man walked up to the door, he was gunned down by two men waiting inside for us. We had about thirty thousand dollars we’d collected so far, and that ranch was the last one for the day. Jackson, we knew was responsible for the robberies, but could never catch him. I was shot four times, one of which was in the back when I was galloping away. I was at deaths door when I was found by a small Comanche tribe. Why they didn’t kill me I will never know. They hated the white man, and with good reason. It took me three months before I was healed up enough to ride out of there. Jackson was a cold blooded killer. I’m a cold blooded killer too Scott. You’d do good to remember that. The only difference between me and him is he killed to steal, or to just kill. I kill to survive. I have never murdered anyone.” Johnny said as he walked over to his brother. “ That’s something you would do good to remember…….brother.”

Scott stared at his brother with both shock, and fear in his eyes. Never before had he felt fear of his brother. Most of the time it was fear for his brother. Fear that one day he would be gunned down,and all because of a stupid reputation he wanted years before.

“ I don’t believe that for a minute Johnny, and if you think I do, then you are a bigger fool than I thought.” Scott said.

“  I haven’t survived this damn long by being a fool.” Johnny said as he stepped to within inches of his brothers face.

“ You are if you expect me to believe you are a cold-blooded killer………….brother.” Scott retorted back. “ What you do with that damn gun, you do merely to stay alive…………brother.” he added before heading upstairs.


“ Is everything alright between you and your brother?” Murdoch asked three days later. “ What happened between the two of you that day you got the cattle back son?” he asked.

“ He seen a side of me that…………….scared him. We had a discussion about it the other day. I expect we are okay now.”

“You know, when Scott’s mother died, I never thought I would find another woman to love,and share Lancer with. When I met your mother down in Matamoros, I was blessed. When you were born, I knew I had found love. The first time I held you in my arms, and looked into your blue eyes, I knew I had a son I could raise, and leave all this too.” Murdoch explained.

“ Even though you had Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ Harlan made sure I would never have Scott son. Granted I’m thrilled he came home after learning the truth, but there was something about you, my little blue-eyed boy I wanted to leave Lancer too.” Murdoch responded. “ Now I have both of you, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel.”

“ A part of me still hates her for taking me away from you. It’s because of her I had to become who I am.” Johnny said.

“ You’ve been here two years now. Can I ask who you are now son?” his father asked.

“ When I came here, I thought I knew who I was, but……….You know, I’ve always believed deep down inside that a man can change if he really wants too. The last two years of my life have been like nothing I ever dreamed. I have a big brother, and a father. Both of which I never thought I would ever have. Maybe some day I can find someone to love,  and share all this with, but until then, Johnny Lancer will live the life he deserves working along side his brother, and bucking against his old man every chance he can. That is if you think you can handle that?” Johnny said.

“ I think I can handle that son.” Murdoch responded with a smile as he put an arm around his youngest, and gave him a gentle hug. “ As long as you remember who calls the tune?”

Johnny laughed as his brother walked into the room.

“ Something funny?” Scott asked.

“ Brother, our father just realized what he became the day we became third owners of Lancer.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ And what would that be little brother?” Scott asked.

“ Why a condemned man.” Johnny said as they all three busted out laughing.

.

.

~end~
Finished  6/14/2021


Chapter 1

Murdoch woke up, and got dressed. Figuring his wife, Maria was already up, and downstairs with their two year old son Johnny, who seemed to wake at the first signs of light. Heading downstairs, Murdoch walked into the kitchen to find it empty. Walking all thru the downstairs, Murdoch found every room empty. Going back upstairs, he headed to Johnny’s bedroom, opened the door, and found it empty as well. Going back downstairs, he walked over to his desk, and found a note, simple, and to the point.

Murdoch

Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Eyes that will always make him a half-breed. Your half-breed bastard son.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

That was five years ago, five years of loneliness, and heartache. Five years of searching every village or town in Mexico, and along the border. Not a day went by he didn’t wonder if his son was still alive, or what he looked like. Placing the note back in the file, Murdoch opened the letter on his desk, and began reading it.

Mister Lancer

I have searched every town along the Mexican border from San Diego to Laredo, with no luck. Tomorrow I will start searching in and around Matamoros, and work my way back west to Yuma.

Alan Belcher

Murdoch set the letter down, stood up, and walked over to the sideboard, and poured a shot of scotch. Every letter he’s received from the Pinkerton agent said the same thing, and every one broke his heart that much more.


“ Why do I have to leave mother?” Johnny demanded.

“ Stop whining like a little baby. You leave because I say so.” his mother ordered

“ I’m not whining, I’m tired of always having to leave just so you can sleep with a man.” he said.

Maria lashed out, and slapped Johnny hard across the face. “You ungrateful little bastard. If it wasn’t for me, you would have no food in your belly, and roof to sleep under.”

“ I sleep most nights out in the cold because you bring men home to your bed.” Johnny yelled back.

Maria grabbed Johnny, and slapped him several times hard across the face. “ You are as worthless as your gringo father. I should have left you to die with him.”

“ You lie, you said he did not want me. It is you who do not want me.” Johnny yelled.

“ He did not want you because you are a mestizo, the bastard child of a whore. We were not married when he got me pregnant with you, that makes you a bastard, and you always will be one.” Maria snapped back.

Johnny wiped the tears from his face, stunned at the words he heard his mother say. At almost ten years of age, he had seen many strange men come and go in every village, or town his mother settled in. Many nights he spent cold, and hungry, with no shirt, and wore thin white cotton pants, that in the heat of the summer kept him cool, but in the winter, did little, to no good against the cold winds. Numerous times he had been beaten by some of those men, while his mother did nothing to stop it from happening.

“ Get out!” Maria yelled as she shoved him toward the door.

“ I hate you……..I wish you were dead…….You’re nothing but a puta.” Johnny spat from outside the door as his mother slammed it shut. ( whore )


Ten years now since his wife left in the middle of the night, and took his precious son with her. His other son, Scott, he had only seen once per chance when he traveled back to Boston to plead with his father-in-law to let Scott come home where he belonged.

“ Are you prepared? As prepared as I am? Have your lawyers told you how many years it would take to fight my legal guardianship? With Scotty endlessly dragged into court as a key witness. Take a good look at your son Murdoch. This is the happiest time of his life.  His childhood. He’s with his friends, secure in his home. The only home he’s ever known. Now……..what can you give him to replace all this? Years of court battles, and if you’re lucky, a desolate strip of sand and rock to play on instead of grass. A mud hut to live in instead of a comfortable home. Is that what you want for your son? Make up your mind Murdoch. Do you wan Scotty torn apart?”

Scott knocks on the door.

“ Oh Scotty, I want you to meet a friend of mine.” Harlan said.

“ How do you do sir!” Scott said as he shook the mans hand.

“ Hello Scott, glad to meet you.” Murdoch said.

Scott went back in the other room to attend his birthday party.

“ You may call that one decision my moment of weakness. Now it’s your decision. You truly love the boy, I know what you will do.” Harlan said.

That was eight years ago. His youngest, Johnny had been gone a year, and he desperately wanted one of his sons at Lancer. One of them to share in the legacy he wanted to leave them.

Scott’s mother, his first wife Catherine, died while giving birth to their son. Lonely, he became a lawman for a short time, and while in Matamoros, met Johnny’s mother in a cantina. Taken in by her beauty, their courtship, a short whirlwind resulted in them marrying, and him bringing her home to Lancer, where he thought she would be happy, and they could raise their son together. Never once did Maria tell him she wasn’t happy. After their son was born, she was a little depressed, but he never suspected her of ever being unfaithful to him. Several people had seen Maria, and his son with a man leaving McCall’s Crossing, headed south.

Every month he would receive a report from the Pinkerton he hired to find his son, and every month for the past ten years, he received no word of his son being found. Every report made his hope of ever seeing Johnny alive again dwindle that much more. Every December twenty third  he would wonder if his son was even still alive. This year he would turn eleven, and also wondered if he even knew he had an older half brother, and what lies Maria, if any, had told him.


Johnny was cold, and hungry. The sun was just starting to show the first rays of light as he left the cave he spent almost every night in since his mother settled in Hermosillo, almost a year ago, the longest they had ever stayed in a town.  Stopping outside the back door, Johnny listened, but heard no sounds from inside. Opening the door, he stepped inside, and was shocked at what he seen. Laying on the  floor was the bloodied body of his mother. Dropping to his knees next to her head, her eyes open, and blank. Blood covered her chest from a single hole directly to her heart from where she had been shot. Hurrying outside, he ran to the church, and told the padre what he found.

That was four years ago. His mother was buried in the cemetery that afternoon, and that night, Johnny found himself thrown into a place of hell for the next two years. A place called Santa Maria Suamca, a mission for orphans. Being of mixed heritage, Johnny soon found himself being picked on by the other children, and beaten by Father Enrique Ruhen, a strict man of rules, and no tolerance for an orphaned Mexican boy with blue eyes. Every boy in the orphanage made a point of almost every day doing something against the rules, and blaming it on him. Countless times he would be beat with a belt,  shoved into a small closet, and left for days with little to no water, and no food at all. The father would just stand and watch as the other, bigger boys would beat on him, bloodying his nose, and splitting his lip. One rainy day while he was out in the yard, two bigger boys came to him, and the one pulled a small pocket knife out, and slashed his left side. Johnny lunged on the boy, both going down in the mud as the other boy ran inside.

Father Enrique grabbed Johnny, and yanked him off the other boy.

“ That mestizo tried to kill me.” the boy yelled.

“ You lie. It was you who has the knife. It was you who came out here with him and slashed me. All I did was defend myself.” Johnny spat as he tried to get free.

Father Enrique yanked Johnny around in front of him, and slapped him hard across the face. “ You are the son of the devil.” the father said as he yanked Johnny toward the church, stopping at the root cellar door. “ You will stay down here like the animal you are.” he said as he opened the door.

Johnny jerked his arm free, and ran around the church to the front, ignoring the father’s orders to stop, and come back. Heading to the one place he knew Father Enrique would never find him. Learning how to survive off the land, how to build a small unnoticeable fire, and plenty of water, Johnny spent months in the cave above Hermosillo, coming down late at night to steal food, blankets, or even clothing to stay warm at night. Making a promise to himself that one day when older, he would come back to the orphanage, and he would make Father Enrique pay for what he did to him for two years.


Murdoch sat in shock as he read the latest letter from the Pinkerton detective.

Mister Lancer

After twelve long years of searching, I am sad to report I have located your wife Maria Consuela Dela Vega Lancer. I’m sorry to report she was murdered four years ago. Your son, Johnny, who found the body, was taken to the orphanage here in Hermosillo, where he spent three years before running away after he tried to hurt another boy with a knife. He has not been seen since, but residents in town suspect he was hiding out in the hills, and came down late at night to pilfer food, and other things. Being around thirteen years of age now, I expect he will make his way north to the border. I will continue to search until you tell me to stop.

Murdered, he loved Maria more than anything, and to know someone had killed her, angered him. Had his son witnessed the murder of his mother? He hated that his son was sent to an orphanage. He had heard how other children could be to someone like Johnny, how even the people who ran the orphanages could be cruel to the children. He was glad his son had escaped there, but for what? Where could an innocent child go in Mexico, and not be abused?


Johnny sat in the corner of the saloon in El Paso, sipping on a beer when he seen the two men walk in. For the past four years he’d built a reputation as a gunfighter. Every day he practiced whenever he could, and got faster, and more deadly. Two men last week found out the hard way just how deadly he was. Standing in the middle of the street in Nogales, he faced, and gunned down both men with such speed, onlookers couldn’t believe a seventeen year old boy beat two grown men before they could even get their guns out. Hiring out his newly acquired skill as a gunfighter in range wars earned him a fast reputation, and the highest dollar. Good at his trade, good, and deadly. Not once had he called a man out, or killed anyone in cold blood. Picking up a gun at thirteen, he decided he needed a name. One that would stand out like other gunfighters he’d heard about. He remembered an old man once in Hermosillo, talking about a place in Spain, called Madrid, a name that would make him a legend in his profession. A name most would fear, and others would hate. At thirteen years of age he faced down his first of many challenges. Some of those challenges in the beginning came at a price. Seven times he’s felt a bullet tear thru his flesh. Seven times in four years he never once sought the help of a doctor. Having learned how to stitch a wound, stop the bleeding, and even remove a bullet. Something most men would never be able to do, but Madrid wasn’t like most men. Most of his life pain played a part in his growing up. Whether it was from being beaten, cut, or even stabbed, he never once cried out in pain, or shed a tear.

Domingo, and Vidal, both gunfighters from Texas, had no code, or respect for the rules of the game. Most gunfighter, at least the honest ones, had a code they lived by, and followed it. Domingo, like to call a man out just to gut shoot him, and watch him die the worst death a man could from a gun.. Vidal, was the worst of the two. He was a coward when it came to facing a man, he preferred shooting them in the back. He also liked to beat women, something Madrid despised any man doing.

“ You see who’s sitting in the corner when we came in?” Vidal asked.

“  If you mean the long haired brunette…….I seen her.” Domingo responded.

“ No, the back corner.” he said.

Domingo looked, and smiled. “ Well, well, well. It’s our lucky day.”

“ You think we can take him?” Vidal asked.

“ The only way you can take Madrid is shooting him in the back. You’re no match for that gun of his. Let’s finish our beer, and go outside so we can start the fun. You go up on the balcony of the hotel down the street with your rifle, and you won’t miss.” Domingo said.

“ And what will you be doing?” he asked.

“ Facing him. I’ll keep him distracted while you shoot him in the back, but don’t kill him. I want to be the one to do that.” Domingo ordered.

“ Looks like he’s going upstairs with that brunette whore. What do we do now?” Vidal asked.

“ He’ll come back down, and when he does, you’ll be ready, and I’ll call him out.” Domingo responded.


Johnny stood up, and pulled his leather pants with silver conchos down the legs up, before sitting back down to put his boots on. Turning his head, he smiled at the naked brunette laying next to him.

“ How old are you Madrid?” she asked.

Johnny smiled. “ Seventeen. Why?”

The woman sat up, and scooted over to him. “ Because you don’t fuck like no seventeen year old. I’ve never had a man go as long as you, or do what you did.”

“ Guess next time I’m thru here, I’ll have to show you an all night good time.” Johnny said before leaning down, and claiming her mouth.

The brunette’s hand instinctively went down into his pants, and started rubbing him hard again as she moaned.

Johnny felt himself starting to respond to her rubbing him. “ Damn.” he said as he deepened the kiss. Standing up just long enough to slip out of his pants again before climbing back in bed, and between her legs as his hardness stood out, ready for another round.

The brunette reached down, and guided him to her entrance as she wrapped her legs around him. “ Show me.” she said as she arched her back, and dug her fingernails into his back.

Johnny couldn’t help but smile as he started to move in and out of her. She wasn’t the first woman wanting more from him, and he knew she wouldn’t be the last. Since he didn’t know how long it would be before he bedded another whore, tonight he would make sure he was fully satisfied, and she was totally exhausted.


Johnny walked out of the saloon three hours later, and stepped down to his horse.

“ Johnny Madrid!” Domingo yelled.

Johnny sighed. He knew without turning around who was calling him out. “ Domingo.” he said as he stepped out into the street, and faced his adversary.  “ You’re a long way from Texas Domingo.”

“ I heard you were the fastest, so I want to see just how fast you are.” Domingo said. “ Let’s see just how bad a gunfighter you are.”

“ You in that much of a hurry to die?” Johnny asked as he noticed a few people on the street stop dead in their tracks. Watching, and waiting. They knew death was seconds away.

Domingo watched as Vidal positioned himself on the balcony behind Madrid, and took aim. “ Time to die Madrid.”

Johnny drew, and fired one shot, killing Domingo. Standing there, scanning the rooftops, he turned and was spun around when a bullet tore into his right shoulder, causing him to drop his gun. Grabbing the colt again, he seen Vidal on the balcony of the hotel taking aim on him again. Firing one shot, he knew he hit his target when he seen Vidal’s head snap back. Standing up, he looked around seen lights coming on, and people coming out doors. Walking to his horse, he mounted up, and rode out of El Paso.


Val Crawford sat drinking coffee as the sun started to rise over the Organ Mountains on the east side of the Rio Grande. Headed back to Mesilla, a hot bath, and to sleep in a bed, and not on the hard ground. For two months he’d been the temporary sheriff of Mesilla as an attempt to stop the stage-line from being robbed. Now that the men responsible were dead, he was free to start hiring out to range wars again.

“ What in tarnation?” he said aloud as he stood up when a horse walked into his camp, its rider slumped over its neck. Pulling his gun, Val walked over to the horse slowly. He could see the riders right arm was soaked in blood. Reaching up, he pulled him off the horse, and noticed the bullet hole in the boys back.

“I don’t know who the hell you are kid, but somebody sure wanted you dead.” Val said as he dug the bullet out of the boys back an hour later. “ Whoever you are, you’ve had more than yur fair share of lead put in ya from the scars I see.”

Val nursed Johnny for three days before he seen the boy finally showing signs of waking up. “ I was beginnin’ ta wonder if you were ever gonna wake up.”

“ Who the hell are you?” Johnny asked softly.

Val poured some water in a cup, walked over to him, and helped him drink. “ Yur horse straggled into my camp three days ago. I coulda left ya to die. I dug the bullet outa yur back, and stitched that one up in yur arm. I don’t think it hit the bone when it tore thru. You wanna tell me who you are, and who shot you?”

Johnny looked at the man a few minutes before he pushed himself with his right arm to sit up. “ I’m obliged to you mister.”

“ You wanted by the law boy?” Val asked.

“ No, I was set up.” Johnny said as he started to stand up.

“ You go tearing them stitches out, I won’t be so inclined to sew you up again.” Val said.

“ Where’s my gun?” Johnny asked.

“ It’s in my saddlebag. I’ll give it back to ya once I know who you are, and decide yur not a wanted man.” Val said.

“ I’m not wanted by the law. My names Madrid……Johnny Madrid.”

“ If’n yur him, how many men did you face, and gun down in Nogales a short time back?” he asked.

“ Two. They called me out late afternoon. Now give me my damn gun old man.”

“ Watch who yur calling an old man……….boy.” Val ordered as he stood up, and walked over to his saddlebags, removed the gun belt, and handed it to Johnny.

Johnny noticed the badge the man wore when he handed him his gun. “ Yur the law. They must have been desperate to hire you.”

“ Boy, you got a mouth on you. I’m the sheriff of Mesilla, names Val Crawford, and I eat smart ale-ck kids like you for breakfast. So show some damn respect.”

“ You the same Val Crawford who fought with  the Arizona Ranges at Apache Pass?” Johnny asked.

“ I am. Got some Skillet coffee if’n ya want some.” he said.

“ Skillet coffee. What, you got something against a coffee pot?” Johnny asked.

“ No, I travel light, I don’t need ta carry a pot when a skillet does the same dang thing. Now if you want some coffee, and feel like ya could eat, sit yur butt down.” Val said in a grumpy voice.

“ You always this grouchy?” Johnny asked as he carefully sat back down. He couldn’t explain it, but for some reason he liked Crawford. Liked him in a way he felt he could trust him, and trust was something Johnny Madrid did very little of.

“ I ain’t grouchy. I just don’t like staying in one place so long.” Val said as he handed him a plate of food. “ How long till you think you can ride?”

“ Thanks. I can ride. You got someplace you need to go, you can leave.” Johnny said.

“ I ain’t leavin you here so you can go and die.” he responded. “You got somewhere to be kid?”

“ I’m not a kid, and no. I go where I want, when I want.” Johnny responded.

“ Seventeen, and been shot nine times. I’d say you need to get away from the border towns Madrid.” Val said. “ Look, I got a place, it ain’t much, but you can stay there until your healed up. Nobody will know you’re there, and you can practice your draw once that arm heals up.”

“ Why?” he asked as he ate the food.

“ Because with your gun arm injured, yur a sitting duck for someone to kill.” Val responded.

“ I’ve had worse, but thanks anyway. I don’t like being a burden to anyone.” he said.

“ Ya ain’t a burden to me……….Damn kid, ain’t ya ever had someone be kind ta ya before?” he asked.

“ Not from no lawman I ain’t.”


Val stood two years later watching Madrid draw and fire. He’d never seen anyone so fast, especially someone as young as Madrid. The kid was a natural with a gun.

“ Yur one deadly sonofabitch with that gun Madrid.” Val said.

“ You mind if an old man tells you a trick that could save you from being shot?” he asked as he walked over to Madrid.

“ You ever look a man in the eyes when you face him?”

“ No, I watch his hand.”

“ Watch his eyes. When a person is about to do something suddenly, his eyes will change. His pupils will get bigger. That little trick alone will give you a second or two advantage over your opponent.” Val responded. “ I’ve never seen anyone as deadly as you are with that gun kid. Especially someone so young. How long you been using it?”

“ About four years.” Johnny said. “ Stop calling me a kid. I grew up a long time ago.”

“ Your parents let you have that smart mouth?” he asked.

Johnny told Val about his mother being murdered, not knowing who his father was, the two years he spent in the orphanage, and how he was treated.

“ I’ve seen some of them orphanages, they ain’t the best place to be. Look, I’m leaving here in a few days. Why don’t you ride with me. There’s a range war brewing in Arizona. We can make some damn good money hiring our gun hands out.”

“ Sounds good to me as long as they pay good.” Johnny said.

“ Listen, I’ve come to know you pretty good the two years we been riding together. I watch you when you hire out, you always stay on the right side of the law, never ride against it. Once you hit rock bottom, your life is pretty much over.”

“ Rock bottom?”

“ When you cross that fine line between good and bad. Never kill a man who isn’t trying to kill you. Don’t hire that gun arm out just to build your reputation up. Make damn sure you keep your morals right. You do that kid, and you won’t become one of those fallen angels, men beyond redemption that the good book talks about.” Val explained.


“ You hear about that range war in Arizona, Murdoch?” Jim Porter asked.

“ I heard there was one. The Diamond A ranch is having a water, property dispute or something.” Murdoch responded.

“ Yeah, some homesteaders thought they could come in from Nebraska and farm it. Know what, or rather I should say who ended that range war?” Jim asked.

“ I’m too busy worrying about my own ranch to be worrying bout a ranch in Arizona Jim.” Murdoch said with agitation.

“ That half-breed killer Johnny Madrid. I heard he shot and killed that sod-buster down in cold blood, and raped his wife. The daughter came home from school and found them.” Porter said.

“ Porter, you’d do better to not believe everything you hear. One of these days it’s gonna get you in trouble. Now if you will excuse me.” Murdoch said before walking away.

“ You won’t feel that way if that killer comes to the San Joaquin valley Murdoch.” Jim said.

Murdoch shook his head as he walked over to visit Sam, before heading back to Lancer. None of the ranchers in the valley cared for Porter. The man came from Wyoming, where it’s reported he lost his land in a range war over sheep.

“ Sounds like Porter is angry about something.” Sam said.

“ I really wish that man had never come here.” Murdoch said.

“ You and a lot of other people.” Sam said. “ Care to join me for lunch?”

“ That’s the best offer I’ve had in a long time.” Murdoch responded.

“ Any word yet?” Sam asked twenty minutes later as they ate lunch.

“ No. Every time I get a report Sam, and it says the same thing, I begin to wonder if I’m not looking for a ghost.” Murdoch said.

“ He’s still alive, and you have to keep believing you will find him.” Sam said. “ He will come home.”

“ I often wonder what he looks like.” Murdoch said.

“  He’s seventeen now, so I imagine he’s tall like his father, with his mothers………..”

“ Have you ever heard of Johnny Madrid?” Murdoch cut in and asked.

“ The gunfighter………..yes, I’ve heard of him. Why?” Sam said, and asked.

“ Porter was telling me Madrid murdered that homesteader in Arizona, and…………raped his wife before killing her.” Murdoch said.

“ You of all people know second hand talk is no good. I’ve seen him once when I was in Tucson. He was called out. He’s not a cold-blooded killer Murdoch. He tried talking the man out of it. I watched that boy stand in that street, shoot the other man. He got on his horse, and rode away. Murdoch, that boy Porter is calling a killer did everything he could to avoid that gunfight.”

“  Did he kill him?” Murdoch asked.

“ No he didn’t.” Sam responded. “ You know, come to think of it, this Johnny Madrid, is the same age as your Johnny. Maybe he’s…..”

“ My son would have nothing to do with the likes of someone like Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said. “ Maria wouldn’t………”

“  Seven years is a long time for him to be on his own. Maybe a family took him in, or he’s found work on one of those big ranches down there.” Sam suggested. “ Have you heard anything from your other son, Scott?”

“ I wrote another letter, but I expect it will be intercepted by Harlan like all the others. Like Johnny’s mother, I expect Harlan has told Scott lies, and that’s why he doesn’t come home.” Murdoch responded.

“ So you don’t know if he knows about his brother then?” Sam asked.

“ No. The only time I’ve ever seen Scott, was on his fifth birthday. I never said anything to Harlan about remarrying, or about Johnny.” he said.

“ Hire a Pinkerton to tell Scott. Harlan can’t stop that.” Sam suggested.

“ I’ve thought about doing just that very thing Sam, but…..”

“ But what?” Sam cut in.

“ I’m a stranger to them. Neither one of my sons know me, and I don’t know them.” he said.

“ Then you do whatever you have to do to bring both them boys home so you can get to know each other, and become a family.” Sam ordered.


“ Let me ask you something Madrid, you ever think about trying to find your pappy?” Val asked as they rode toward Yuma.

“ I did, but it’d be a little hard to do since I don’t know what his name is. Hell, I don’t even know what my real last name is Val.”

“ It’s not Madrid?” he asked.

“ No, Madrid is a name I chose when I started using a gun. I remembered an old man telling me about Madrid, Spain once in a village.”

“ What was your mothers full name?” Val asked.

“ Maria Consuela Dela Vega is what I seen on a paper once.” Johnny said.

“ Well, that’s a start. Tell me what your mother said about your pappy.”

“ She said he threw us out because of me. Said he didn’t want a half-breed for a son. A son who would be a bastard no matter what. He got my mother pregnant, and that that was why he married her.” Johnny said with anger.

“ That anger you got, is that toward your pappy, or your mother?”

Johnny stopped his horse.  “ I hate her for what she did. It’s because of her I was beaten, and abused. She would just stand there, and do nothing to stop it.” he vented. “ I hate him because he wasn’t there to stop it. He wasn’t there to stop Father Enrique from locking me in a closet, beating me, or starving me, just because I’m a half-breed kid…………His half-breed kid.”

“ So he never came after you after your mother died?” he asked. “ Never came and got you from the orphanage?”

“ No I……………..She moved a lot. It would seem like we just got settled in a town or village, and she would move.” Johnny said as he remounted his horse.

“ Maybe that’s why she moved all the time kid. You ever think of that?”

“ She………she would never tell me why, just order me to do as she said, and beat me if I didn’t.” he said. “ I got this scar by my left eye from her for asking once why I always had to leave whenever she brought a man home. She didn’t care what the weather was like. The night she was murdered…….she beat me because I called her a whore…and…….and said I wish she was dead. That’s when she told me the only reason he married her. I came back the next morning, and found her dead. They buried her that afternoon, and I was taken to Mission Santa Maria Suamca orphanage.”

“ Jesus kid.” Val said with sadness. “ Do you want to find him?”

“ I wouldn’t know where to look Val. California is a big state.”

“ True, but there’s these men called Pinkerton’s, they hire out to find people. We can contact them in Yuma. What ya got ta lose?”

“ I don’t know Val, seems like a long shot. Let me think on it some.” Johnny responded.


Mister Lancer

It has been a long seven years of searching, but I have learned why I could not find you son all this time after his mother died. It would seem he has changed his last name. Mister Lancer, your son is reported to be the infamous gunfighter Johnny Madrid. I have not verified this as of yet, but by all accounts from people I have talked too, the description, and age fits perfectly. I have learned Madrid is riding with another man name Val Crawford, for the past two years. The two of them settled a range war for a ranch in Arizona. What I have learned is though a gunfighter, your son is not like any other. All along the border, Johnny Madrid is considered a Patron Saint. He has helped many being wrongfully done, and asked nothing in return but a place to sleep, and food in his stomach. I will keep you apprised of my findings.

Alan Belcher

Murdoch sat in shock after he read the latest Pinkerton report two months later. His son had been found, or at least in part found. Now he understood why for over seven years after the death of his mother, he couldn’t be located. Three years after running away from the orphanage his son, if it was his son, emerged as Johnny Madrid at the age of thirteen. Standing up, Murdoch walked over to the sideboard,  filled a glass half full of scotch, and walked back over to his desk. A gunfighter, of all the things his son could become, why a gunfighter.


“ It’s pretty obvious what your plans are for the night.” Val said as he stood up. “ I’ll see ya in the morning. Have a good time.”

Johnny stood up. “ I plan too.” he said as he walked over to the woman he’d had his eye on most of the night. “ How much for all night?”

“ All night. Three a poke so……”

“ I asked how much for all night.”

“ Names Heather, thirty dollars, and I’m yours for all night.” she said.

“ You got a room upstairs?” Johnny asked.

“ I do. It even has a lock on it so we won’t be disturbed.” Heather said as she looked him up and down. Taking his hand in hers, she led the way to her room upstairs.

Johnny walked into the room and turned around as Heather closed the door, and locked it. Removing his gun belt, Johnny sat down on the bed to remove his boots as Heather started removing what little clothes she had on. Standing up, he stepped out of his pants, and removed his shirt as Heather walked over to him.

“ So what’s your pleasure?” she asked.

Johnny pulled her to him. “ Pleasure.” he said as his right hand ran down between her legs, and started rubbing her folds, causing her to moan as her hands started massaging him hard.

“ You’re off to a good start.” she said as she raised her right leg up, and brought herself closer.

Johnny picked her up, walked her back to the bed, and laid her down as he slid inside her.

“ Oh my, something tells me I’m in for a night of action.” Heather said before  their mouths came together.


“ Your Scott Lancer?” a man asked.

“ Yes I am.” Scott said.

“ The son of Murdoch Lancer?”

“ So I’ve been told. Never met the gentleman myself.”

“ Morsby’s  the name, Pinkerton office. We find people.”

“ I haven’t lost any. So as much as I’ve enjoyed our little conversation.” Scott said before he started to walk away.

“Your father wants to see you, and he’s willing to pay for it. All expenses to California, and a thousand dollars for one hour of your time.” Morsby said.


“ Did you see your lady friend Barbara today?” Harlan asked later that evening as they ate supper.

“ I did. On the way home, I was approached by a Pinkerton agent.” Scott said.

“ A Pinkerton agent. What in the world did he want?” Harlan asked.

“ When I was growing up, did my father ever write to me, or send me anything at Christmas time?” he asked.

“ Why on earth would you ask me that Scotty?” Harlan asked.

“ Could you answer the question sir?”

“ No, Murdoch never once sent you a letter, or anything at Christmas time. He wanted nothing to do with you.” Harlan said. He never wanted Scott to learn his father had wanted him to come to California, to live. Reading every letter sent to him before burning it, angered the man. Especially after reading about him marrying a Mexican whore, and having a half-breed son with her, only to have her run off in the middle of the night, taking the child with her. What his Catherine ever seen in the man, he would never understand. Taking his only daughter to a godforsaken land like California, he would never forgive Murdoch Lancer for doing.

“ If he wanted nothing to do with me my whole life, then why now did he send a Pinkerton man to find me, and tell me he’s been trying to get in touch with me?” Scott demanded.

“ I don’t think I care for your tone young man.” Harlan said.

“ And I don’t care to learn from a complete stranger that you have kept letters from my father from me for twenty four years. That is not a right you have sir.” Scott snapped back.

“ Not a right………I’m the one who raised you Scotty. I raised you while your father built that mud shack he calls a ranch. It’s because of him that your mother died giving birth to you. I’m the one who raised you, and seen to it you got a proper education.” he said firmly.

“  He’s requested I come to California to see him, and I am. I’m leaving on the train tomorrow.” Scott said as he stood up. “ You have done some things grandfather I have been willing to overlook, but not this. You kept me from knowing my father for twenty one years sir. That’s not something I will forgive you for.” he added before heading upstairs.


Johnny came down the back stairs of the saloon the next morning, and headed to the Butterfield stage office where he seen Val sitting in a rocking chair, waiting.

“ Forget it kid. Seems they hired them a couple men two days ago to guard the stage.” Val said.

“ Excuse me, but I’m looking for a man named Madrid, Johnny Madrid. I was told that person is you.”

“ Who the hell are you?”  Val demanded.

“ My name is Alan Belcher, I’m a Pinkerton agent. Are you Johnny Madrid?”

“ I’m Madrid, what do you want?”

“ I finally found you. I have been searching for you, and you mother for seventeen years now.” Alan said. “ Can I ask what your mothers name is?”

“ Maria Consuela Dela Vega.” Johnny said. “  She was murdered seven years ago. Why you been looking for me?”

“ I know She was murdered in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.” Alan responded. “ Your father hired the Pinkerton’s to find you seventeen years ago. I’ve been searching for you the last eight years, when the other man retired.”

“ My father?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes. Mister Lancer would like to see you. He has a ranch outside Morro Coyo, in the San Joaquin valley. Can I tell your father you will come?” Alan asked.

“ My father threw us out when I was a baby.” Johnny responded.

“ Now hold on a minute Johnny. If’n yur pappy threw you out, then why would he have the Pinkerton’s searching for you for seventeen years kid?” Val asked. “ It won’t hurt for you to ride there, and her what the man has to say.”

“ Alright, tell him I’ll come.” Johnny said.

“ Can I tell him when to expect you?” the Pinkerton asked.

“ No, I’ll get there.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ I’ll see that he goes see his pappy. The boy was led to believe his old man threw them out fifteen years ago. Give him some time. He’ll go.” Val said.

“ Very well. I’ll wire Mister Lancer, and let him know he can stop searching, and that his son will come home.” Alan said.

“ What’s his pappy’s name?” Val asked.

“ Murdoch Lancer.” Alan responded.

.

Chapter 2

Murdoch stood outside the telegraph office reading the wire the second of two wires he received.

Found Johnny in Yuma. Stop
He will come to Morro Coyo. Stop
Alan Belcher. Stop
Pinkerton Detective Agency. Stop

“Murdoch, is everything alright?” Sam asked.

Murdoch handed the wire to Sam to read.

“ They found him. I would think you would be happy?” Sam said as he handed the wire back.

“ You………I learned why they couldn’t find him for so long Sam. He changed his name.” Murdoch said.

“ Changed his name………..to what?” Sam asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” he said softly.

“ Johnny M………..You mean to tell me your Johnny is………….?”

“ Apparently so. I don’t know what to do Sam?” Murdoch said.

“ What do you mean you don’t know what to do Murdoch? You  do what you have waited fifteen years to do, you welcome your son home. I’m sure he had his reasons for becoming Madrid. Give the boy a chance to explain.” Sam said.

“ Scott is coming home Sam. He arrives next week.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, that’s wonderful news. You will have both your sons home.” Sam said.

“ They will be strangers to me Sam.” he said.

“ Yes, but the three of you can take time to get to know each other.” Sam suggested. “ Murdoch, it’s been twenty four years for Scott, and seventeen years for Johnny. Make it work.”


Val found Johnny sipping a beer early afternoon. “ Mind some company?” he asked as he sat down. “ I know what’s on yur mind kid. Go see him. Give him a chance to explain the truth to you.”

“ My whole life has been a lie Val. She lied to me, and I will never know why.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t have an answer for you on why she would do that kid. Listen, why don’t we ride to Morro Coyo, and you meet with him?” Val suggested.

“ You don’t have to go with me.” Johnny said.

“ I know I don’t. I want to go cuz that’s what friends do for each other.” Val said.

“ Thanks. I guess we can ride out in the morning. Should take us about twenty days to reach Morro Coyo.” he said.

“ Yur pappy’s name in case you was wondering is Murdoch. I asked that Pinkerton man.” Val said as he watched his friends eyes. “ Yur scared ain’t ya?”

“ What……..no…….I…….I don’t remember him. I was two when she took me from him, but I don’t remember anything about him.” Johnny said. “ Now seventeen years later I will finally meet him.”

“ You was just a baby. Maybe some memories will come back with time when yur in that house again.” Val suggested.

“ I need to see someone in the morning before we leave.” Johnny said.


“ I had hoped you would come see me before you left.” Father Garcia said.

“ I couldn’t leave without seeing the man who saved my life.” Johnny said as he walked up to Father Francisco Garcia, and allowed the man to give him a hug. “ How are you father?”

“ I am good, but I sense you are troubled my friend.” the father said.

“ Is there someplace we can go to talk?” Johnny asked.

“ Of course. Sister, please see to the children when they come. I will be in my office, and wish to not be disturbed for a spell.” Father Garcia said.

“ It has been a few years since I last seen you. How have you been my son?” Father Garcia asked as they entered a room in the back, and he closed the door.

“ Good.” Johnny said.

“ Sit, and tell me what is troubling you.” the father said as he poured them both some lemonade.

“ Thanks……..You remember me telling you what my mother said about my father, what he did when I was a baby?” he asked.

“ Yes. You said she told you he threw the two of you out of his home.” Father Garcia responded.

“She lied to me. Yesterday morning I was approached by a Pinkerton man. He said my old man has been looking for me for seventeen years. That’s why she was always moving from village to village, or town to town. Every time the Pinkerton man got too close to finding us, she moved, and it was always in the middle of the night that we left.” Johnny explained.

“ I see, so now that you know the truth, what are you going to do?” Father Garcia asked.

“ He wants to see me. I thought since I have nothing to lose, I would go. Maybe I could get answers to questions I’ve had for a long time.” Johnny responded.

“ Questions your mother can no longer answer, and refused to answer when she was alive?”  he asked.

“ Yeah. She would beat me every time I ever asked about him. The night she was killed……..she told me he did not want me because I’m a mestizo, a bastard child. He got her pregnant before they were married, and that I would always be a bastard. I told her she lied, that it was her he did not want……………I….I was angry, and hurt………..I ran away, but before I left, I called her a……….and wished she was dead. I didn’t know she would be murdered that very night by the man she was going to be with.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice.

“ You have been carrying blame for her death all these years. What you said to your mother that night did not get her killed John. You need to let go of that, and try to move on. Try to start over with your father. Take some time, and get to know him. Let getting to know your father start your healing.” Father Garcia suggested,

“  And what if he can’t accept me for who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ For a man to search seventeen years for his son, I think he will accept you as Johnny Madrid. Maybe over time, you can become Johnny Lancer. Someone * you * can be proud of being.” Father Garcia responded. “ You were forced to grow up before you should have my son. Thru no fault of your own, your mother put you in a situation that forced this to happen.”

“ Did you investigate the orphanage?” Johnny asked.

“ I wrote Father Martinez, and he said Father Ruhen is no longer there. That he has been relocated to a small town somewhere. That is all I know.” he said.

“ So he’s still with the church? Still free to do to other children what he did to me?” Johnny spat.

“ He is no longer allowed to work at an orphanage. His abusing children was observed on several occasions.” Father Garcia responded.

“ Where is he?” Johnny asked.

“ I do not know, and if I did, I could not tell you because of what I see in your eyes right now.” he responded.


Twenty four year old Scott Garrett Lancer, stepped of the stage in the dusty little town of Morro Coyo, and looked around. No green grass could be seen anywhere, just dirt, and dust. On the ride from the train station in Sacramento, he watched as the terrain changed from green to gold colored rolling hills. To the east, he could see mountains, some still covered in snow. It was dark when the train came over them. He couldn’t understand what anyone could see in such a place. What could his mother have seen in wanting to stay in such a barren place, but mostly, what kind of man was his father. All he really knew about the man was what his grandfather had told him when younger. That the man was responsible for the death of his mother, and wanted nothing to do with him.

“ Scott Lancer.” a voice asked.

“ Yes.” Scott responded.

“ I’m Frank, Mister Lancer was unable to meet you here, and asked me to pick you up. I have a buggy across the street to take you to Lancer.” Frank said as he picked up the luggage.

An hour later, Scott rode in the buggy, looking around at what looked like dried up, barren land. “ What a dry, barren place. What my mother seen in this land I will never understand.”

“ It’s the end of summer, the dry season, come January, everything will be different.” Frank said.

“ You worked for my father long?” Scott asked as he removed a kerchief, and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“ About ten years. He’s a good, fair man to work for.” Frank said.

“ I wouldn’t know about that. I was never a part of his life.” Scott said.

“ That wasn’t his doing. I know for a fact he wrote letters to you numerous times. I know because I’ve taken the letters to be mailed.” Frank said as he stopped the buggy on a hill. “ There it is, as far as the eye can see, Lancer.”

Scott stood up, and looked at the valley below. Impressed at what he seen in the valley below.

Murdoch watched as the buggy came into the yard, with a tall blonde haired man sat next to Frank. When the man got out of the buggy, Murdoch smiled at the slenderness, and height of his oldest son as he climbed down from the buggy,  and looked at the house. Looking toward the foyer, Murdoch mentally prepared to meet his oldest son for the second time in his twenty four years as he watched Scott enter the house, remove his hat, and walk into the grand room.

“ Drink?” he asked.

“ No thank you.” Scott said as he removed his gloves.

“ You got your mothers eyes.” Murdoch said as he poured a drink.

“ What do I call you? Under the circumstances father hardly seems…..”

“ Call me anything you like. We’re strangers to each other. Maybe that’s my fault, maybe it isn’t.” Murdoch cut in, and said.

“ No apology necessary.” Scott said.

“ You’ll get no apology from me. If the air needs clearing…….lets clear it.  Your mother’s family thought she was daft to marry me. Not a year off the boat from Inverness, and maybe they were right. You were born, she died. I left you in their hands, period.” Murdoch said gruffly. This isn’t how he wanted their first meeting to go, but the cards had been drawn.

“ I believe you left out the part where you came to Boston on my fifth birthday and seen me sir.” Scott said. “ I believe grandfather introduced you as a friend of his. What I don’t understand is why? Why did you not speak up then, and tell me you were my father?”

“ There’s no reason to dredge up the past. What we got is here and now. That has to be all that counts. You understand that don’t you son?”

“ Yes, I understand that. That means don’t ask questions. Especially why you never came to Boston to claim me.”

“ I wanted to son, but your grandfathers exact words were that it would be a bit premature. That you were only five years old. I told him you were old enough to know your own father. Harlan said he was your father, that you accept him as that. I told him I had come prepared to take you back home with me. He asked me if I was as prepared as he was. That it would take years to fight his legal guardianship with you endlessly dragged in court as a key witness. He asked me what I could give you to replace all that you had living with him. Years of court battles, and if I was lucky, a desolate stop of sand and rock to play on instead of grass. A mud hut to live in instead of a comfortable home. I thought when I went there, I was prepared to win you back, but I wasn’t.” Murdoch explained. “ I wanted to take you with me. There just wasn’t any way.”

“ But you’re my father!” Scott said with a raised voice.

“ Nobody knows that better than I do, and I’m grateful…….”

“ Grateful for what? Because you let somebody else raise your son?” Scott demanded.

“ I understand your being upset with me son. Believe me I do. If I could go back and change everything I would.” Murdoch said as he shook his head. “ I’ve lived twenty four years without you in my life. Twenty four years of heartache. I wrote to you numerous times every year. I sent you gifts for your birthday, and Christmas every year for those twenty four years.”

“ Is that offer of a drink still good?” Scott asked.

“ Of course it is. I have scotch, rye whiskey, brandy, bourbon, rum, and tequila.” Murdoch responded.

“ Brandy will do.” Scott said. “ You said earlier that we are strangers to each other. That you came from Inverness. Why did you come here?”

“ Yes. I came here thirty years ago. I left Scotland, and my family wanting a better life, my ship docked in Boston Harbor four months later. I found a job working the docks in a storage warehouse for your grandfather. That’s how I met your mother. Catherine was a thing of beauty. Her eyes were a soft blue like yours, she had beautiful blonde hair. We seen each other for just over a year. I saved up all the money I could, and we came west. When we topped that hill, and looked down at this place, your mother said she wanted a rose garden out back. I bought Lancer, and with your mother by my side, we made it our home.” Murdoch explained.

“ You left family back in Scotland?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. I have a brother still living there. He has a few sheep and Scottish Highland cattle.” Murdoch said.

“ How many acres is Lancer?” he asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres, twenty  thousand head of beef. The finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch said. “ I love this ground more than anything God ever created. I have a gray hair for every good blade of grass you see out there.”

Scott noticed a map on the wall, and walked over to it. He noticed the letter L in a circle in the bottom left corner. The map consisted of roads, streams, canyons, even a mine. He also noticed seven other ranches on the map that surrounded his fathers property. 

“ I have two line shacks for spring and fall round-up. North Mesa we use in the fall when castrating calves, and South Mesa we use in the spring during round-up, and branding. I keep both well stocked with food for the hands.” Murdoch explained.

“ I see the road the stage came in on crosses Lancer.” Scott said.

“ It does along the border of the property. The Conway ranch sits between Lancer, and where we drive the cattle to market. I’ve known Aggie for a long time. She’s one of my oldest, dearest friend. She knows Lancer drives cattle across her property here.” Murdoch said as he pointed to an area on the map. “ Listen, I’m sure you’re tired from your long journey. Why don’t you go upstairs, freshen up, and rest?”

“ I am a little tired.” Scott said.

“ Let me show you to your room. We can talk more during supper at six.” Murdoch said as he started toward the stairs.


Val sat looking across the fire at his friend. He could tell the boy was troubled about something. He knew Johnny had went to the church before they left. “ You’ve hardly said anything all day. Are you alright?” he asked.

Johnny looked over at him, but didn’t speak.

“ I’m a good listener if you want to talk.” Val said.

“ Thanks, but this is something I have to work out myself Val.” Johnny said.

“ You know, the Indians have a saying I think about sometimes.” he said.

“ Yeah, what’s that?” Madrid asked.

“ Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.” Val responded. “ Just take one day at a time kid. Don’t go fretting over what might happen. Just take what does happen.”

“ Yeah, but does that apply to someone like me?’ Johnny asked softly.

“ Why not. You think just because you made a living by that gun on yur hip for the last six years it doesn’t?” Val demanded.

“ Why not. All a gunfighter is, is a fallen angel sent down from above the good book says. Men beyond redemption.” he replied.

“ Kid, if you believe that, then you might as well let the next fool who calls you out, kill you.” Val snapped back. “ I’ve seen a lot of gunfighters in my time. What I see in you is what they call a kindred spirit. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t care about others. You wouldn’t hire that gun hand out to the right side.”

“ Anyone ever tell you how much of a pain in the ass you can be?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah, but I don’t let what others say about me bother me. It’s just words. Sure words can hurt, but………..Let me ask you this. Does it bother you when someone calls you a half-breed, or mestizo?” Val responded, and asked.

“ Alright Val, you can stop your preaching. I hear what you’re saying.” Johnny said as he stood up, and tossed his coffee.

“ Good. Listen, I’m gonna ride on over into Nevada, but I’ll be back kid. You give yur pappy a chance.” Val said.


Scott came downstairs at five thirty wearing a lounge suit, white shirt, and black string tie. Not seeing his father he walked around the room, looking at all the fine furnishings. The plush couch and chairs, the two high-backed leather chairs in front of his desk. The desk wasn’t as big as the one his grandfather used, but had beautiful carving on the legs. Walking around to look at it closer, Scott notice two pictures on the desk. The one he knew  was his mother, because his grandfather had the same picture. It was the other picture that had him a little puzzled. A what appeared to be Mexican woman wearing a beautiful dress. He could tell the picture was taken in this room of both women, because of the Lancer map on the wall behind them in the pictures. Setting the picture down, he continued to walk around the room. The one wall behind the huge dining table had several shelves full of books, something that always intrigued him. In a corner of the room on his right was a pair of blue chairs with a small table between them. On the wall above the chairs hung a gun rack full of rifles. Winchesters mostly. One rifle in particular caught his attention. On the end of the rack was a rifle he was very familiar with using. Taking the rifle down, he smiled slightly as he looked the rifle over.

“ I see you found my newest rifle.” Murdoch said.

“ 1872 legendary Sharps .52 caliber. I used one during the war.” Scott responded.

“ Do you still have it son?” he asked.

Scott put the rifle back on the rack. “ No sir. I lost it when I was captured during the last year of the war.” Scott said. “ I spent a year in Libby prison.”

“ I heard horrible things about Libby, and Andersonville. I’m glad you made it out alive.”  Murdoch said.

“ Can I ask you who the Mexican woman is in the photo on your desk?” Scott asked, changing the conversation. Though it had been two years since he walked out of Libby prison a free man.

“ That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about tonight son. I want you to keep in mind that what I’m going to tell you, by no means take away how much I loved your mother.” Murdoch said. “ A couple of years after your mother died, I met a woman when in Matamoros, Mexico at a cantina I stopped at. We had a short whirlwind courtship, and got married. We had a son together named Johnny. Two years later I awoke one morning and found her gone. She had packed up in the middle of the night, and left, taking Johnny with her. He was two when she left. For seventeen years I’ve had a Pinkerton man searching for them. He learned a short time ago that Maria was murdered almost nine years ago down in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Your brother, Johnny was placed in an orphanage where he stayed for three years being abused until he was able to run away one day. I have all the Pinkerton letters if you would like to read them?”

“ That won’t be necessary sir. Go on.” Scott said.

“ Belcher searched for Johnny, and finally found him in Yuma. He’s coming home to see me. Now I don’t know if he will stay or not. I’m hoping he does.” Murdoch said.

“ Why did it this man Belcher so long to locate him?” he asked.

“ Because he was going by a different last name. Remember he was a baby when Maria took him from me. She left me a letter, this letter.” he said as he handed the letter to Scott to read.

Murdoch

Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Your first wife, had she lived probably would have left you also. Now you have nothing to hold you back from building your fine estancia you want.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

“ She sounds like a bitter woman who used your son as a pawn.” Scott said.

“ Son, the name your brother goes by is well known along the border, and in Mexico. He’s known as Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said.

“ Letter says her last name is Dela Vega. If yours is Lancer, why does he go by Madrid?” he asked.

“ I don’t know why. Son, your brother is a gunfighter. One of the best, and he’s only seventeen. It would seem he emerged as Johnny Madrid four years after his mother was killed.” he replied.

“ A gunfighter. I’ve heard of the profession.” Scott said. “ Fallen angels brought down to hell the good book says. Men beyond redemption.”

“ I don’t think that’s true of your brother. He’s only nineteen. I doubt he’s hit rock bottom yet.” Murdoch responded.

“ You say he’s coming here, to Lancer?” he asked.

“ Yes. I don’t know when he will be arriving though. It’s at least a twenty day ride from Yuma, so I expect he should be arriving sometime in the next two weeks.” Murdoch said.

“ Should be an interesting meeting.” he said.

“ So you’re not upset?” he asked.

“ Why would I be upset that you found someone to love again after my mother died.” Scott said.

“Can I ask what your plans are?” Murdoch asked.

“ Well, I have been thinking about that. I believe the first thing I should do is buy the proper attire to wear if I am going to be working on this ranch.” Scott responded. “ I’ve never worked on a ranch, but I can learn, and I’m a hard worker.”

“ Alright, we can ride into Spanish Wells, tomorrow and purchase the clothing you will need. You don’t have to start working right away. Take some time, maybe ride around the ranch and get to know it, and the men.” Murdoch suggested.


“ Sam, I would like you to meet my oldest son Scott.” Murdoch said. “ Scott, this is Sam Jenkins.”

“ Well Scott, it’s a long time coming, it’s good to meet you.” Sam said.

“ Sam is the only doctor in the valley.” Murdoch said.

“ It’s good to meet you Mister Jenkins.” Scott said.

“ Call me Sam. Mister Jenkins sounds so formal.” Sam said as they shook hands. “ I must say, you have your mothers eyes.”

“ That’s what I told him.” Murdoch said.

“ We are just on our way to eat lunch, would you like to join us Mister………Sam?” Scott asked.

“ I would like to, but I’m on my way out to the Carter home. Young Timmy decided to fall from that tree, and break his right arm.” Sam said.

“ Martha said he would eventually do just that.” Murdoch said.

“ Any word from Johnny?” Sam asked.

“ No, no word. I guess he’ll show up when he’s ready. Why don’t you come out for supper on Sunday?” Murdoch responded.

“ That sounds good. I just might do that. Maybe Scott can enlighten me on some of the things Boston has?” Sam said. “ I’ll see you.”

“ He seems like a very nice man. You known him long?” Scott asked as they walked to the cafe.

“ I’ve known Sam twenty three years. He delivered your brother.” Murdoch said as they walked into the cafe, and sat down at a table.

“ What was he like?” Scott asked.

“ Your brother? He was very independent. Especially when he started crawling, and then walking. Once he……….once he started walking, there was no stopping him. That boy was so damn fast. My cook, Maria, she spoiled him rotten. She was stern on keeping him in line when in the kitchen. Your brother learned real fast just how much a wooden spoon hurts. Now I don’t mean she beat him with it. She would just tap him on his hand, and that boy thought he was being beat. He would come running to me, and point at Maria as she chased him into the grand room.”

“ He sounds like a handful.” Scott said. “  Putting aside who he is, or became, what do you think he’s like?”

“  I think he’s a caring person. From what Belcher has learned so far, he’s never crossed the line. He’s not wanted by the law for anything that he could find on this side of the border.” Murdoch said.

“  You say that like he might be wanted on the other side of the border in Mexico.” Scott said.

“ He killed six Rurales. Belcher couldn’t learn why, but said he is a wanted man in Mexico. He also learned that Johnny does what he does for nothing more than a place to sleep, and food in his stomach.” Murdoch said.

“ What is a Rurale?” Scott asked.

“ Mexican Army.” he said. “ If Johnny has killed Rurales, he’ll have a bounty on him.”

“ But coming here, won’t he be safe from these Rurales?” he asked.

“ The Rurales yes, but not other gunfighters, or men who know he has a bounty on his head in Mexico.” Murdoch responded.

“Do you think he knows this?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know son.” Murdoch replied.

Scott could hear worry in his father’s voice. “ I know you want him to come home, but with all you now know about who he is, and what could happen, do you still feel that way?”

“  Yes I do. I’ve spent thirty years building Lancer up. It’s all I have to leave you boys. I would like to make you and your brother third owners in Lancer.” Murdoch responded.

“ A third owner. That’s a very generous offer.” Scott said.

“ Would you accept it?” he asked.

“ I have no plans of returning to Boston, but do you think he will accept?” he asked.

“  I’m hoping he does. I want him to live a life not as a gunfighter. I can’t force him to stay. I can only ask him to stay.” Murdoch said. “ Can I ask why since I told you you have a younger brother, you haven’t once called him by name, or referred  him in a sentence as your brother.”

“ I was not aware I had not. I will say, it is a shock to learn I have a little brother. Especially to learn he is a gunfighter.” Scott responded. “ Tell me something sir. Did my grandfather know about your second wife, and that I have a brother?”

“ Only if he read the letters I wrote to you telling you. I talked about Johnny, and how I had still not found him in at least one letter a year to you.” his father said.

“ The letters. I never received any of your letters sir. Grandfather intercepted them I believe. When I asked him about it at dinner after talking to the Pinkerton man, he denied it. He said you never wrote to me, and that you didn’t want me.” Scott said.

“ I wrote to you son. Your grandfather was angry because your mother married me, and then came here with me.” Murdoch said.

“ Your man Frank also said he took your letters to mail.” Scott added. “ I do want you to know I don’t need anything from Grandfather, except the truth, but I highly doubt I will ever get the truth from that man.”

“ I’m sorry son. I never meant to cause trouble between you and your grandfather.” Murdoch said.

“ My grandfather made his own bed. He can sleep in it.” Scott responded.

“  How about tomorrow I take you around the ranch, and let you meet some of the men?” Murdoch asked.

“ Alright. I look forward to it.” Scott said.


Johnny rode up to the big house, and dismounted as the sun set behind the San Benito mountains. All afternoon he rode around the perimeter of the huge ranch, staying out of sight of the hands. Walking up to the door, he stood there trying to decide if he should knock, or just open the door, and walk in. It was after-all, his father’s home. His father, hell he didn’t even know the man, let alone what he would say to him.

“ Can I help you?” Scott asked as he walked up to him.

“ I’m looking for……….is this Lancer?” Johnny stammered.

“ It is, I’m Scott Lancer. If you are here about a job………..” Scott said as he went to open the door.

“ Your father……….Murdoch Lancer is your father?” Johnny cut in.

“ He is. Can I ask what your business is here?” Scott responded, and asked.

Johnny stood there in shock. Clearly this man was older than him by at least five years. Confused, he started for his horse, but stopped when he came almost face to face with an older man.

“ Johnny.” Murdoch said.

Johnny started to his horse, but was stopped when his left arm was grabbed. Frozen in fear, he started to tremble.

Murdoch felt his son start to tremble as he held his arm. “ Son, don’t leave.”

Unable to speak, Johnny glanced at the tall blonde man walking over closer to him. “ Johnny……….I’m your brother. Please………come inside……….Please.”

Murdoch let go of Johnny’s arm. “ I’ve searched for you for so long son. I don’t want to lose you again.” he pleaded.

“ Come inside, have supper with us.” Scott suggested. “ I would like to get to know my little brother, and for him to get to know me too.”

“  Don’t beg him son. I don’t want your brother doing anything he’s not ready to do.” Murdoch said before heading inside.

Scott stood there looking at his little brother a few seconds before heading inside.


“ He’s been standing out there for twenty minutes now.” Scott said.

“ His life hasn’t been an easy one son. You have to remember, Johnny didn’t grow up with luxury, and fine things like you did. He never had security after his mother’s death. He’ll come in when he’s ready. Let’s eat.”

Johnny walked in thru the veranda doors, and stopped. Looking around, he couldn’t believe the size of the room.

“ Are you alright?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny ignored his father, and started walking around the room, looking at everything. All the plush, fine furniture, and tables. The paintings on the walls, a model of a ship behind what he assumed was his father’s desk.

“ You want a drink?” Murdoch asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ Tequila.” Johnny said. Anger burned inside him as he thought about how poor he lived in Mexico, seeing all this. “ You been living in this big fancy house, with all these fancy things in it, food in your belly every day, clothes on your back all these years?”

“ What did your mother tell you?” he asked.

“ I think I will leave you two alone to talk.” Scott said.

“ Why? Does it bother you that I came back? That you’re not the only son he has? Or does it bother you that your half-brother is a half-breed?” Johnny said.

“ Until two weeks ago I didn’t know anything about you.” Scott said. “ I was merely being courteous.”

“ How could you not know anything about me, or my mother being his wife?” he demanded.

“ Scott didn’t grow up here.” Murdoch cut in. “ Catherine died right after she had Scott. He was raised by his grandfather back in Boston.”

“ Why’d you marry her if you were only going to throw us out?” Johnny asked.

“ I never threw Maria out. I awoke one morning and found her gone, you along with her. She ran off in the middle of the night with a man she met, a gambler or something. I searched for you whenever I could for two years, after which I hired a Pinkerton man.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny downed the shot of tequila, set the glass down, and walked over to the fireplace.  “ Did my mother know I had a brother?”

“ Yes. I told her about my first marriage. I kept no secrets from her.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny wrapped his arms around himself, hugging himself tightly as his body trembled. Dropping his head so his chin touched his chest.

Murdoch walked up behind his youngest. He could see the boy was trembling. “ Johnny, I know this is all a shock to you, and for that son, I’m sorry. I don’t know why she left me, or why she lied to you. I want to show you something I’ve kept for seventeen years. It’s the note your mother left me the night she left.” he said as he went to his desk, and opened the bottom drawer. Taking the file out, he walked back over to Johnny, and handed it to him. “ Read this son. I want no secrets between us. This is everything I have on you. All I know, and I would like to know if any of it is inaccurate when you finish. Me and Scott will be out on the portico to give you some privacy, and if you want to talk.”

Johnny took the file, and walked over to the couch to sit down. Opening the file, he seen a note right on top signed by his mother.

Murdoch
Do not look for me, because you will never find me.. I will  no longer live a lie with you. I took Johnny with me, just to spite you. I only married you so my son wouldn’t be a bastard, but then I realized it made no difference since he has blue eyes. Eyes that will always make him a half-breed. Your half-breed bastard son.

Maria Consuela Dela Vega.

A tear ran down his cheek as he read the hateful words his mother wrote. His biggest never to be answered question will always be why did she lie to him?


“ Do you think it was wise letting him read those so soon?”  Scott asked.

“ I want no secrets between us son. Any of us. I figured showing him that note his mother left me all those years ago would help him understand I had nothing to do with her leaving.” Murdoch responded.

“ He seems pretty overwhelmed just from seeing the inside of the house.” Scott said.

“ I noticed that too. I hate that he grew up without all this. That as his father, I couldn’t protect him.” Murdoch said with sadness.

“ This could have repercussions beyond repair sir. He seems the type who doesn’t want to talk, especially about his past.” Scott said.

“ All we can do is listen when he does want to talk son. If he decides to stay, and I hope he does, I want you two to get to know each other.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked out the doors to join them.

“ How long after you met her until the two of you married?” Johnny asked.

“ Not long son. It was a whirlwind courtship.” his father said.

“ So you got her pregnant before the two of you got married. Is that why you married her………..because of me?” he demanded.

“ Absolutely not son. I loved your mother……….I”

“ I asked you how long?”

“ I believe it was four months.” Murdoch responded.

“ Four months  is hardly time enough to know someone. Especially to marry that person.” Johnny said with some agitation to his voice.

“ Son, your mother was a thing of beauty. She took my breath away with her beauty. There’s times when………”

“ Was it the same with his mother? Did you bed her before you were married?” Johnny demanded.

“ What happened between my father, and mother is of no concern of yours!” Scott said firmly as he stepped closer.

“ I’m just wondering if what he considers love was really lust?” he asked.

“  Young man…….I love both my wives with all my heart, and that is all you need to know.” Murdoch responded. “ I’m sorry your mother took you away from your home. I’m sorry you had to live the life you did. I’m sorry you had to start living by that gun on your hip to survive.  I………we both lost something neither of us can ever get back son. All we can do is move forward. What happened in the past is dead and gone. Can we try to be a family now?”

“ You want to be a family knowing who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ Who you are is my son, Johnny Lancer, but if having you here as my son means I have to accept you as  Johnny Madrid also, then I will.  I will accept that, and all the risk that comes with it.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Men will come, maybe not right away, but men will come, and they will call me out. I’m the best old man. I have a reputation men will try and kill me for. You really willing to accept that?” he asked.

“ Yes by god. Lancer takes care of its own.” he said.

“ You want me to stay, then you need to know, both of you need to know……..men will find me, and they will call me out to dance.” Johnny said.

“ To dance?” Scott asked.

“ Gunfight.” Murdoch said.

“ Gunfight. You mean………..”

“ What I mean is men want my reputation, and the only way they can get it, is to kill me.” Johnny said.

“ We may not know each other………….yet, but I will be damned if I’m going to allow any man to try and kill my little brother just so he can have a damn reputation.” Scott said with anger.

“ Where’d you grow up at?” Johnny asked.

“ Boston.”

“ Boston, bet you got yourself one of those fine educations, lived in a rich house with fine clothes and such.” Johnny said. “ Tell me something Boston, how many times you go to bed hungry? How many times did you sleep out in the cold?”

“  I was in the war, so I know about sleeping out in the cold, and being hungry, because I did it fighting for what was right for four years.”  Scott said with a raised voice. “ I also spent just over a year in Libby prison, starving, watching men die of starvation, sickness, or freezing to death, killing themselves to end their suffering…….and all while the guards laughed. I watched as men waited until someone died, or was near dead before they took the dead man’s clothes off him so they could try and stay warm.”

Johnny stared at his brother, unable to speak for a few seconds. “ War isn’t the hell Boston…….prison is.”

“ I would have to concur with you on that little brother.” Scott said.

“ Will you stay?” Murdoch asked.

“ I make no promises……..and have nothing planned…….so yeah, I’ll stay.” Johnny responded. “ But I need to know something. What do you want from me?”

“I want no favors from either of you……….I want your arms, and your legs, and your guts, if you have any.” Murdoch said.

“ Alright, suppose I come up with all these arms, legs, and guts you’re talking about. What do you come up with?” Madrid asked.

“ One third!” he said.

Of what?” Johnny asked.

“ Everything you see out there………one hundred thousand acres, ten thousand head of cattle, and the finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch said.

“ One third…………..Just like that?”

“ Yes, one third to each of you. Only I call the tune.” Murdoch explained.

“ The look in your eyes tells me he already asked you. Did you accept?” he asked.

“  I did. There’s nothing for me back in Boston.” Scott replied.

“ What about the man who raised you back in Boston?” Johnny asked.

“ My grandfather, and I no longer see eye to eye on things.”

“ Listen, it’s getting late, so why don’t we all get a good night’s sleep, and have breakfast in the morning. Then we can ride into Green River, and see my lawyer Randall, and take care of the contract.” Murdoch suggested.


Scott opened his brothers door slowly, and called out softly. Getting no response, he walked in, and seen Johnny sleeping on his right side. Walking around the bed, Scott gasped as he seen the scars on his brothers back. Reaching down, he gently shook his brothers left shoulder, and stumbled backward as he found himself staring at the business end of his brothers colt.

“ Your habit of sneaking around in another man’s room almost got you killed………..brother.” Johnny said.

“ I………I’m sorry. I wanted to make sure you were awake for breakfast is all.” Scott stammered. “ Do you always sleep with that gun?”

“ Only two things share my bed, a good woman next to me, and my colt under my pillow.” Johnny said. “ Now………why don’t you go on downstairs and tell the old man I’ll be along shortly.”

“ Johnny…………your back……What happened to you?”

“ I’m not at liberty to tell someone I just met about my past.” he responded.

“ Alright.” Scott said as he walked to the door, and headed back downstairs.

.

Chapter 3

“ Is your brother awake?” Murdoch asked.

“ He is, and will be down directly.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee, and sat down.

“ Something wrong son?” Murdoch asked. He could tell something was bothering his oldest.

“ Those Pinkerton reports…….did they say anything about him being abused?” Scott asked.

“ No, just that he had been shot. Why?”

“  He…………..Johnny has scars on his back. Scars from being whipped.” Scott said.

“ Are you sure son?” he asked with concern in his voice.

“ As sure as I’m sitting here. I’ve seen scars like that on slaves during the war.” he said.

“ Did you ask him about them?” he asked.

“ I did, and he said he is not at liberty to discuss his past with someone he just met.” Scott responded.

“ I think with Johnny, we are both going to have to go slow, learn what we can, and not press him about what we don’t know about his past son.”

“ I figured I would start doing that tomorrow.” Scott said. “ That section of fence needs fixed along the salt slough.”

“ He may not be to happy about that.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the kitchen.

“ What won’t I be happy about old man?” Johnny asked as he walked into the kitchen.

“ Son…..could you  not call me that please?” Murdoch asked.

“ I could, but given the circumstances, calling you father hardly seems right.” Johnny responded as he sat down.

“ Debes mostrar respeto a tu padre.”( You should show respect to your father.) Maria said as she brought a platter of eggs, bacon, and biscuits to the table.

“ El respeto debe ser ganado por mí, debe ser brindado por mí.”( Respect has to be earned by me, to be given by me.) Johnny responded as he reached for the spoon.

Maria slapped Johnny’s hand away with anger in her eyes.

“ What the hell….You need to teach your hired help.”

“ Son, Maria isn’t hired help. She’s family.” Murdoch said.

“ Family of who?” Johnny asked.

“ Maria has been cooking for me for twenty seven years. She helped Sam deliver you, and raise you. So I expect you to show her respect.” Murdoch responded.

“ Me criaste?” ( You raised me?) he asked.

“ Si. Eras mi angelito de ojos azules. Me rompió el corazón cuando tu madre te alejó de tu padre…y de mí.”( Yes. You were my little blue-eyed angel. It broke my heart when your mother took you away from your father……and me.)

“ ¿Cómoera ella, mi madre?”( What was she like, my mother?)

“ Ella te amaba mucho, pero un año después de que naciste, se volvió distante y triste…he dicho demasiado. Come, estás demasiado flaco.” ( She loved you very much, but a year after you were born, she became distant toward you, and sad…….I have said to much. Eat, you are too skinny.)

Johnny sat staring at the woman. A woman who knew his mother, and him when he was a baby. A woman who could fill in two years of his life he knew nothing about.

“ Eat up boys. I want to meet with Randall before noon.” Murdoch said.


“ Sign there!” Randall said as he placed the agreement in front of Scott.

Scott signed his name, and laid the pen down.

“  Just above your name!” Randall said as he placed the paper in front of Murdoch.

Johnny stood chewing on the stampede string to his hat as he watched his brother, and father sign a piece of paper that would change his life forever. Once he signed, he would be a third owner of the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin valley, but did he have a right to it? Did he have a right to put lives in possible danger if someone came calling him out? Did he have a right to try and live a life as a son, and brother, and not as a gunfighter anymore? Most of last night he sat up thinking about these three questions, and every time he would come to the same conclusion.

“ And you sir!” Randall said as he offered the pen to Johnny.

“ Oh Mister Randall, I should have told you, that last name should read, John Madrid, not Lancer.” Murdoch said, hoping his son wouldn’t think he had changed his mind, or was ashamed of him.

“ I’ll fix it in a minute.” Randall said.

“No,………let it stand.” Johnny said as he took the pen, and signed his birth name for the very first time, John Lancer.

Scott looked at his father, and smiled. He worried, and prayed his little brother would still agree to this, and give up the only life he ever knew for a better, safer life.

“ Congratulations Murdoch, you now have both of your sons as part owners of Lancer. I’ll get this filed in Sacramento right away.” Randall said.

“ It’s been a long time coming.” Murdoch said.

“ How about a cold beer to celebrate?” Scott suggested.

“ Having a cold beer with both my sons is something I have waited a long time to do.” Murdoch said as the three Lancer men walked out of the lawyers office, and headed to the saloon.

“ So what do you want from us now?” Johnny asked twenty minutes later as they sat sipping a cold beer.

“ Well, you will work six days a week from seven until five. You will be paid a dollar a day like everyone else.  Breakfast and supper are served at six sharp, except Sundays. I attend church in Morro Coyo, and usually eat in town before I come home.” Murdoch explained.

“ I don’t go to church. Got no reason to.” Johnny said. “ So basically all me a Boston are is hired hands to you?”

“ No, you are my sons,  and you will do your share of the work. I expect when I assign a job, that job is finished at days end. If not, I would like an explanation why it wasn’t. Your last name is Lancer, therefore you can ramrod when the need comes up, but I call the tune. Any and all changes, purchases for the ranch, and jobs must be approved by me. All receipts are put in a ledger,and at months end the books have to be balanced for taxes. I will teach the two of you how I do that, and you will spend a day doing the books. You will be rounding up, branding, and castrating cattle in the fall. We usually do that at the North Mesa line-shack. Every three years I drive the steers to market. On occasion I sell beef to the army or miners.” Murdoch responded, and explained.


Johnny and Scott rode into the yard, and dismounted a year later. Both brothers had become close, always bantering, back and forth, getting to know each other better. “ Looks like Murdoch has a visitor..” Scott said as they dismounted.

“ Horse has come a long way.” Johnny said as he looked the horse over.

“ Well, let’s go see who our visitor is.” Scott said as they walked into the house.

“ I’ll be in in a second.” Johnny said.

“ Aah Scott, I’m glad you’re home.” Murdoch said. “ Where’s your brother?”

“ He will be in in a minute.” Scott responded.

“ We have a visitor I want you both to meet.” Murdoch said.

“ We seen the horse. It looks like it’s been rode pretty far.” Scott said.

“ Joe, I want you to meet my oldest son Scott. Scott, this is a dear old friend, Joe Barker.” Murdoch said.

“ Mister Barker.” Scott said as they shook hands.

“ Scott, your father has told me a lot about you. I knew your mother.” Joe said.

“ And this is my other son, Johnny.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the room.

“ Johnny Madrid!” Joe said.

“ You two know each other?’ Murdoch asked.

“ Not personally. I know Madrid from seeing him gun down two men in my town.” Joe said. “ Murdoch, did you say this is your son?” he asked.

“ I did, Maria’s boy, he came home a little over a year ago.” Murdoch said.

“ What brings you here Mister Barker?” Scott asked, hoping to change the direction of conversation.

“ I was headed to Sacramento, and thought I would stop and see an old friend.” Joe said. “ I didn’t know both your sons came home.”

“ They did, and I couldn’t be happier.” Murdoch said. “ They came back a couple weeks apart.”

“ Do you know who your son Johnny is?” he asked.

“ I know who he was, and who he is now, and who he is now is all that matters.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, your so called friend turned me over to a lynch mob. I was seconds away from stretching a rope when I was able to escape. That’s what kind of man your so called friend is.” Johnny said as he walked closer to Barker.

“ Johnny……….”

“ Stay out of this Scott.” Johnny ordered.

“ No….I won’t brother. I know what you are planning, and I’m going with you.” Scott responded firmly. “ You will need someone you can trust with you.”

“ Now wait just one minute.” Joe ordered. “ Murdoch, I don’t……….”

“ I don’t give a damn what you want.” Johnny said as he stepped closer to Barker.

Murdoch stood frozen, unable to move. He’d never seen this side of his son before. For the past year Johnny had been home, they had gotten along, and not once had they had trouble. His gut screamed to stop his son, but he couldn’t move. Instead he stood frozen as his son went from being Johnny Lancer, to being Johnny Madrid in a matter of seconds.

“ Murdoch, you better say something to your son!” Joe ordered.

“ Johnny…….he’s not worth it brother.” Scott said as he stepped closer, and put a hand on his brothers right arm.

“ Is what he said true Joe? Did you turn my son over to be hanged by a lynch mob?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Murdoch, you don’t understand. I did what I had to do to save my town from being burned down. Those two men he gunned down had a lot of friends.” Joe responded. “ Listen, I didn’t know he was your son.”

“ You wear a badge, and represent the law. A gunfighter is just as much entitled to the protection of the law as any other man is. Those two men called him out. They started the trouble, and got what they deserved. You turned him over to be hung. You have no right wearing that badge, and I want you to leave my house.” Murdoch ordered.

Joe stood looking at his friend.” Murdoch, you know nothing about this boy, and he pops back up in your life suddenly.”

“ He’s my son Joe. I know him better than I know you.” Murdoch said.

“  You were asked to leave, since you don’t hear so well. Now you can either walk out those doors, or be carried out those doors.” Scott said firmly.


“ Can I come in?” Murdoch asked his son.

“ I know why you came up here. You want to know the whole story on what I said earlier?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes I would, but that’s not why I came up here son. I came up here to apologize to you for allowing that man in our house. I thought I knew him……….”

“ Murdoch, how well do you ever really know someone?” Johnny asked.

“ I would like to get to know my son better.” Murdoch said. “ I know you don’t like to talk about your past son, and as your father, I can respect that. I don’t want to lose what we’ve built together this past year. I don’t want to lose you. I lost you once, I can’t lose you again.”

“ Your friend was the sheriff of Lordsburg. I stopped for the night to sleep in a bed. I came out of the hotel the next morning, and two men called me out. He locked me up for three days after, and then proceeded to hand me over to a lynch mob to be hanged. I don’t like killing Murdoch. I always believed that when a man gets to a point where they take killing lightly, he needs to find a different profession. It’s not a good thing to kill a man, or cause a man to get killed. It makes you sick inside.” Johnny said. “ You know……………..It’s easy to kill a man……………But it’s impossible to bring him back to life again.”

“ Son, I never once thought you took killing a man lightly. I’ve never seen you called out, and I pray I don’t, but if I’m with you, and you are, I will do ……….”

“ You will do nothing.” Johnny cut in. “ You interfere, and you will get me killed. I can’t be distracted when I’m facing someone fully intent on killing me.”

“ Son……..I can’t………”

“ I mean it Murdoch……….you’ll get me killed, and I don’t really want to die.” Johnny cut in. “ You talk about not wanting to lose me……That goes both ways old man….I don’t want to lose you, Scott, or what I have now.”

“ Let me ask you something son. You’ve been here just over a year, do you still feel someone would?” Murdoch asked.

“ As long as Johnny Madrid is still alive……..yeah I do.” Johnny said.


“ Mister Lancer! We got fifty head of cattle gone.” Frank said.

“ Where?” Murdoch asked.

“ Needle Rock. The fence is down.” Frank said.

“ Down or cut?” Johnny asked.

“ It looks to have been cut.” he responded. “ There were horse tracks following the herd.”

“ How many riders?” Scott asked as he stood up.

“ Six. I tracked them to the canyon.” he said.

“ Boys, I want you to be careful. Take Frank, Walt, with you.” Murdoch requested.


“ This is as far as I tracked them.” Frank said.

Johnny dismounted, and looked at the tracks. “ One of the horses has special shoes on the hind feet. Given the depth of the tracks, the rider is over two hundred pounds. Two of the other horses have no shoes.”

“ There’s several places they could take the cattle in that canyon. It’s all sand, so tracking them isn’t going to be easy Johnny.” Frank said.

“ Only two lead out though. The others are dead ends. A man on foot can get out, but not a horse or cattle.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. “ Frank, I want you and Walt to take the one east. Me and Scott will take the one west that comes out on the Conway ranch. If you see them, don’t try anything. One of you come get us.”

“  Sure thing Johnny, you two be careful.” Walt said as they split up.

“ Can I ask why we are going this way brother? I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense to take cattle you just stole east, away from the ranch.” Scott asked as they started into the canyon.

Johnny stopped his horse. “ Didn’t Murdoch say he would be driving a herd of cattle thru the Conway spread?”

“ Yeah, but that’s not until next month.”  Scott responded.

“ Who’s to say he didn’t decide to move them earlier. Nobody will think otherwise if they see them. It’s perfect.” Johnny said.

“ You’re right little brother.” he said.

“ Look, there’s their tracks. Ride back and get Frank, and Walt.”  Johnny said.

“ I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” Scott said.

“ I promise you I won’t do anything until you get back.” Johnny said. “ It shouldn’t take you more than thirty minutes.”

“ Alright.” Scott said as he turned his horse around, and took off at a gallop.

Johnny rode slowly to the end of the canyon, and stopped. He could hear the cattle, and  knew there was a small pond fed by an underground stream where the rustlers probably stopped to water the cattle, and he was right. He could see five of the six riders positioned around the herd as they drank. “ Come on brother. They get much further, and we won’t have any cover.” he said softly as he dismounted, and pulled his rifle. Looking above him, he seen an outcrop of rocks he could position himself on above the herd. Once positioned, Johnny looked down, and seen two of the riders he knew, George, and Charles Miller, both hired four months ago at Lancer. Lee Young, Henry Wilson, and Roy Martin he knew worked for the Conway ranch. Numerous times on a Saturday night he had played poker with them in Spanish Wells. Looking around, Johnny couldn’t find the sixth man, and wondered where he was.


“ You think them Lancer’s know yet?” Charlie asked.

“ Oh I recon they do little brother. Them there rich Lancer’s won’t miss a measly hundred head of cattle.” George said.

“ Yeah, the two of us getting hired was luck.” Charlie said. “ I still don’t understand why we had to have them other fellas. We could’ve stole these cows without them.”

“ You know the two of us couldn’t handle moving this many cows by ourselves. We needed extra help.”” George said.

“ I just don’t like us…………how we know we can trust them?  Especially that Jackson, he’s bad trouble, I don’t like the way he wears his gun, all low on his hip and all.” Charlie said.

“ Lee says he’s a gunfighter from down south. Henry, and Roy, they’re just along to help move them. You know we can’t move that many cows by ourselves.”

“ Were is Jackson?” Roy asked as he rode over to the brothers.

“ Probably off somewhere practicing. I never seen anyone so fast at drawing.” George said.

“ I’ve heard of one faster. In fact I bet Jackson has heard of him too.” Roy said.

“ Yeah, and who would that be?” Charlie asked.

“ Johnny Madrid. He’s a half-breed runs down along the border. He’s one deadly sonofabitch I tell ya.” Roy responded.

“ Who’s a deadly sonofabitch?” Lee asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” he said.

“ Johnny Madrid was killed by the Rurales a few years back.”  Lee said.

“ Let’s get them moving.” George ordered.

“ You sure nobody will stop us?” Henry asked.

“ I’m sure. I told you the Conway ranch lets them drive their cattle across their land to get to the pens. So nobody will stop us.” George said.

“ What about Jackson?”  Charlie asked.

“ Forget him. Let’s go.”  George ordered.


“ Where the hell are you brother? Their moving the……….Sonofabitch!……… Jackson.” Johnny said between clenched teeth. “ I owe you, you bastard.”

Three years ago outside Uvalde, Texas, working for Thomas O’Connor, of the O’Connor ranch, a half a million acre paradise in southern Texas to help guard the  Uvalde County Tax Assessor and Collector from being robbed during the course of his duties. Jackson, the prime suspect in the robberies, had managed to elude capture numerous times. At wits end, O’Connor hired Madrid to guard the man. During his second week of guarding the man, with about thirty thousand dollars collected, Madrid was ambushed at a ranch the two men rode up to to collect the taxes from. Having no way of knowing Jackson and another man waited inside the house, having killed the ranch owner, and his wife, the tax collector walked up to the door, knocked, and was gunned down as the door opened. Seconds later, as he drew his colt to fire, Johnny felt two bullets slice thru flesh as he returned fire. Trying to control his horse, and shoot proved to be a challenge as another bullet tore thru his upper right arm, causing him to drop his pistol. Spurring his horse as a forth bullet pierced his back, Johnny rode out of there. It had taken him two months to be strong enough to ride. The doctor instructed him to get the bullet removed by a younger doctor more advanced in medicine as soon as possible, but that was something he never did bother having done.

The sound of horses brought him back to the present. Picking up a small stone, he tossed it to hit his brother’s right shoulder to stop him.

Scott felt the rock hit is shoulder, and looked up, finding his brother on an outcropping above him. “ How far?” he asked softly.

Johnny held up a hand to let his brother know he was coming down. “ They just started moving the herd again.”

“ You seen them?” Frank asked.

“ Yeah, George and Charlie Miller, both of which were hired a couple weeks ago, Henry Wilson, Roy Martin, and Lee Young, all three of them will probably give up, and take off if any shooting.” Johnny explained.

“ You know them?” Walt asked.

“ I’ve seen them around before. Never knew any of them to come this far from the border though.” he said.

“ What about the sixth man brother?” Scott asked.

“  He’s the one riding the chestnut. He’s mine.” Johnny said firmly.

Scott seen a look in his brothers eyes like he’d never seen before. A look that sent a shiver down his spine.  A look that clearly said that not matter what, his little brother had something from his past with the sixth man.

“ How we going to do this Johnny?” Walt asked.

“ Ride up to them, and give them the option of hanging, or dying from a bullet.” he said.

“ We take them to the law.” Scott said.

“ Stealing cattle is a hanging offense Scott. Them dying from a bullet would save Green River the trouble of a trial.” Frank said.

“ We don’t murder them Frank. If they surrender………”

“ If they surrender brother……..we take them in.” Johnny cut in. “ That code of the west you asked me about once……..that don’t apply when someone steals stock, so you might want to remember that brother.” Johnny said as he mounted up, and started out of the canyon.

“ Scott, there’s something between your brother and that sixth fella.” Walt said. “ He never said his name.”

“ I know. I seen the look in his eyes.” Scott said.


Murdoch came out of the house as four riders rode up to the house.

“ Need to lock these two up until we can take them into Green River to stand trial, and hang.” Johnny said.

“ George and Charlie Miller, I just hired you two a month ago, and this is the thanks I get.” Murdoch said.

“ Only reason they wanted the jobs old man was to steal our cattle.” Johnny said. “ Get down you two.”

“ Frank, and Walt took three others into Morro Coyo to be buried.” Scott said.

“ And the cattle?” he asked.

“ Scattered on the Conway ranch.” Scott replied. “ Mrs Conway will have some of her hands help round them up early tomorrow morning.”

“ Let’s go boys. We got a nice cell just waiting for you two.” Johnny said as he pulled his gun, and shoved  the older brother toward the barn.

“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.

“ There were six of them. The Miller brothers, the three dead, and one other it would seem Johnny knows.” Scott said as they walked into the house.

“ Knows?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir, and I don’t think it’s in a good way.” Scott said. “ I seen a look in his eyes I have never seen before, and quite frankly, it scared me.”

“ You mean he became Madrid?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know for sure, but I believe so.” he said.


Johnny Walked out of the barn and was suddenly slammed to the ground. Rolling onto his left side, he drew his colt and fired, hitting Jackson in the chest, dropping him to his knees as a second bullet tore into his side.. Ignoring the pain, Johnny stood up, and staggered over to Jackson, laying on the ground.

“ Go to hell.” Johnny said before pulling the trigger. Turning, he started walking toward the house, stopped, and dropped to his knees as his father rushed to his side.

“ Oh my god!” Murdoch said as he rushed to Johnny’s side. He could see the blood spreading across his chest.

“ Pa……….I” Johnny said before blackness claimed him.

Scott reached down, scooped his little brother up in his arms, and headed to the house.


Sam came downstairs as the sun started to rise over the San Bonito mountains.

“ Sam?” Murdoch said.

“ He’s alive. I removed both bullets, but he’s lost a lot of blood.  Barring he doesn’t get an infection, he will be okay.” Sam said. “ Can I ask who shot him?”

“ We had a hundred head of cattle stolen. The boys, Walt, and Frank tracked them, Captured two alive that are locked up in the barn, killed three, but the sixth man wasn’t there. Apparently he followed them back here, and ambushed Johnny when he came out of the barn from locking up the two.” Murdoch explained.

“ Johnny knows him. He became real defensive when we asked the Miller brothers about him. He also knew two of the three dead men.” Scott said.

“ Men from his past!” Murdoch said.

“ Just because he knows them, doesn’t mean he knows them sir.” Scott said firmly.


Johnny sat enjoying the morning sun  a month later on the veranda porch when his brother came walking toward him from the barn.

“ Murdoch should be back from Sacramento tomorrow.” Scott said.

“ Should be.” Johnny said as he stood up.  “ Why don’t you do us both a favor, and get it said brother?”

Scott looked at his brother a few seconds before removing his hat, and wiping the sweat from his brow. “ Get what said brother?”

“ Whatever has  been bothering you since that day.” Johnny said before turning to go back inside. “ I’m not a fool Boston. You’ve been distant to me.” he added before walking inside.

Scott sighed, shook his head, and followed his brother inside. He knew there was no way of avoiding this talk. He just wondered how his brother would take it when he told him how he felt about that day they got the cattle back.

Johnny walked over and poured a shot of tequila, downed it, and poured another. “ You’ve had a burr under your saddle ever since we got the cattle back.” he said before downing the second shot. “ Get it said brother.”

“ Alright I will. That day in the canyon, I seen a look in your eyes that quite frankly….sent a shiver down my spin Johnny. How do you know the sixth man?” Scott asked.

Johnny poured another shot, and downed it before walking over to look out the big bay window behind Murdoch’s desk. “ A couple years ago I took a job in Uvalde, Texas guarding the county tax collector. We rode up to this ranch to collect the taxes, and when the man walked up to the door, he was gunned down by two men waiting inside for us. We had about thirty thousand dollars we’d collected so far, and that ranch was the last one for the day. Jackson, we knew was responsible for the robberies, but could never catch him. I was shot four times, one of which was in the back when I was galloping away. I was at deaths door when I was found by a small Comanche tribe. Why they didn’t kill me I will never know. They hated the white man, and with good reason. It took me three months before I was healed up enough to ride out of there. Jackson was a cold blooded killer. I’m a cold blooded killer too Scott. You’d do good to remember that. The only difference between me and him is he killed to steal, or to just kill. I kill to survive. I have never murdered anyone.” Johnny said as he walked over to his brother. “ That’s something you would do good to remember…….brother.”

Scott stared at his brother with both shock, and fear in his eyes. Never before had he felt fear of his brother. Most of the time it was fear for his brother. Fear that one day he would be gunned down,and all because of a stupid reputation he wanted years before.

“ I don’t believe that for a minute Johnny, and if you think I do, then you are a bigger fool than I thought.” Scott said.

“  I haven’t survived this damn long by being a fool.” Johnny said as he stepped to within inches of his brothers face.

“ You are if you expect me to believe you are a cold-blooded killer………….brother.” Scott retorted back. “ What you do with that damn gun, you do merely to stay alive…………brother.” he added before heading upstairs.


“ Is everything alright between you and your brother?” Murdoch asked three days later. “ What happened between the two of you that day you got the cattle back son?” he asked.

“ He seen a side of me that…………….scared him. We had a discussion about it the other day. I expect we are okay now.”

“You know, when Scott’s mother died, I never thought I would find another woman to love,and share Lancer with. When I met your mother down in Matamoros, I was blessed. When you were born, I knew I had found love. The first time I held you in my arms, and looked into your blue eyes, I knew I had a son I could raise, and leave all this too.” Murdoch explained.

“ Even though you had Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ Harlan made sure I would never have Scott son. Granted I’m thrilled he came home after learning the truth, but there was something about you, my little blue-eyed boy I wanted to leave Lancer too.” Murdoch responded. “ Now I have both of you, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel.”

“ A part of me still hates her for taking me away from you. It’s because of her I had to become who I am.” Johnny said.

“ You’ve been here two years now. Can I ask who you are now, son?” his father asked.

“ When I came here, I thought I knew who I was, but……….You know, I’ve always believed deep down inside that a man can change if he really wants too. The last two years of my life have been like nothing I ever dreamed. I have a big brother, and a father. Both of which I never thought I would ever have. Maybe some day I can find someone to love,  and share all this with, but until then, Johnny Lancer will live the life he deserves working along side his brother, and bucking against his old man every chance he can. That is if you think you can handle that?” Johnny said.

“ I think I can handle that son.” Murdoch responded with a smile as he put an arm around his youngest, and gave him a gentle hug. “ As long as you remember who calls the tune?”

Johnny laughed as his brother walked into the room.

“ Something funny?” Scott asked.

“ Brother, our father just realized what he became the day we became third owners of Lancer.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ And what would that be little brother?” Scott asked.

“ Why a condemned man.” Johnny said as they all three busted out laughing.

To Research Notes –>

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~end~
Finished  6/14/2021

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
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 Nancy Marie directly.

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One thought on “A Condemned Man by Nancy Marie

  1. A great reworking of the homecoming. I liked the addition of joe barker too. Btw, I think the story was printed twice by mistake. You should check it.

    Like

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