I don’t own them. I’m just taking them out for a little fun. All characters from the TV show Lancer belong to their rightful owner/owners. No money is being made whatsoever from this. Two characters in this story are from the episode The Escape, which motivated me to write this story. This is my first attempt at writing a story where Scott is the primary, and not Johnny.
This story will have an R-Rating due to some strong cursing and adult situations.
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Barbara Lancer ( Scott’s wife )
Sara Lancer ( 6 years old )
Mary Lancer ( 4 years old )
Teresa O’Brian Carter
Jeff Carter ( 3 years old )
Robert Anderson (Captain-Civil War )
The year is 1877. Johnny, and Scott have been at Lancer eight years. Scott is married to a woman from Boston named Barbara. Together they have two beautiful daughters, until one day something terrible happens when the family is headed home from church. The very thing that tears the brothers apart, will forcefully bring them back together.
Word Count: 17,215
“ Can we play with the puppies when we get home?” Sara Lancer asked.
“ Yes, but I want you girls to change your clothes first.” Barbara Lancer said. “ Then you can go play with the puppies in the barn.”
“ Uncle Johnny, you promised you would let me ride Barranca after church.” Mary Lancer said.
“ Yes I did, and I am a man of my word little lady. Stop the buggy Murdoch.” Johnny responded.
Murdoch stopped the buggy as Johnny rode Barranca up next to it, and reached for his youngest niece, settling her in front of him in the saddle right when a bullet slammed into his left shoulder, knocking him off Barranca.
“ Mary……oh my god no. Mary.” Barbara screamed as she watched her youngest daughter fall from Johnny’s grasp to the ground.
“ Barbara stay down!” Scott yelled.
“ Help her Scott!” she yelled.
Scott dismounted and went to his daughter laying motionless on the ground, her head twisted sideways, he knew her neck was broke.
“ Can you see your brother?” Murdoch asked.
Glancing under the buggy, Scott could see his brother laying in the road. A red stain spreading across his back from where the bullet exited.
After several minutes of silence, Scott heard the sound of two horses galloping off. Picking his daughter up, tears in his eyes as he carried her to the buggy. “ Her neck is broke.” he said as tears ran down his face.
Murdoch got down and went to Johnny, rolling him over. “ He’s still alive. Scott, bring Barranca over here and help me get him in the saddle.”
Scott just stared at his dead daughter laying in the buggy in her mothers arms.
“ Scott, help me with your brother!” Murdoch yelled.
Scott went to Barranca and grabbed the reins, bringing the horse over to where his brother lay on the ground. “ You got my daughter killed you sonofabitch.” Scott said as he got Johnny up in the saddle.
“ Son, we don’t know who shot at us. Don’t blame your brother for this tragedy.” Murdoch pleaded as Scott turned, walked to the buggy, got in and slapped rein, headed home.
Sam came downstairs and found Murdoch sitting at his desk. He could tell the man had been crying over the tragic loss of his youngest granddaughter Mary. “ Murdoch.”
“ Sorry Sam. I didn’t hear you come downstairs. How is he?”
“ The bullet tore through muscle only.” Sam said as Scott walked into the room. “ Barring he doesn’t get an infection, he should be alright. It’s going to take some time for that shoulder to heal up. So I wouldn’t expect him to be doing any work for at least two months.”
“ So the child killer will live.” Scott said with sarcasm.
“ That will be enough Scott. As I said before, we don’t know this happened because of your brothers past.” Murdoch snapped.
“ Then you tell me who the hell else would shoot at a buggy with two innocent children and my wife in it. It was Johnny who was shot first………that tells me it was because of him and his damn past.” Scott said with anger.
“ You need to calm down. Until we know who it was, I don’t want you accusing your brother of Mary’s death. Her dying was a accident.” Murdoch ordered.
“ He is not my brother. He should have never come back here. I will never forgive him for this.” Scott said firmly before leaving the room.
Johnny lay unconscious for four days as his body fought a fever. Teresa came from Sacramento with her husband Doug and son for the funeral and to help with Johnny’s care. He heart broke when Murdoch told her what Scott had said. How he blamed his brother for what happened without knowing who the shooter was.
“ His fever has finally broke.” Teresa said as Murdoch walked into the room with Sam.
“ Let;s take a look at his wound.” Sam said as he walked around the bed, and set his bag on the table. “ I’m glad I put that tube to get fluids in him.”
“ I have a feeling Johnny isn’t going to be too happy about having that when he wakes up.” Teresa said as she moved out of Sam’s way.
“ Has he said anything?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, he was mumbling and moaning earlier, but nothing I could understand.” Teresa responded.
“ Alright. Why don’t you go have some breakfast with your family, and get some rest. I’ll stay with him now.” Murdoch suggested.
Sam checked Johnny’s heartbeat as Teresa left the room. “ Has Scott been in here at all?”
“ To my knowledge, no. He’s still blaming his brother for Mary’s death.” Murdoch responded.
“ It’s understandable for him to be upset, but from what you told me, it wasn’t Johnny’s fault.” Sam said as he put his stethoscope away. “ Do you know who the shooter was yet?”
“ No, all we found were rifle casings and tracks from two men.” Murdoch responded. “ To tell you the truth Sam, I think whoever did this scouted around for the perfect place to ambush us. It was just bad luck that we stopped in that spot.”
“ Why did you stop there?” Sam asked.
“ Johnny had promised Mary she could ride Barranca. He had just got her on the horse when he was shot. She fell off Barranca, breaking her neck………..She was just laying there, not moving with her eyes wide open Sam. My youngest granddaughter………..” Murdoch said before turning away so his friend wouldn’t see the tears.
“ Have you given it any thought as to how you are going to tell Johnny what has happened?” Sam asked. “ If he was shot first, and knocked off his horse, he may not know.”
“ No I haven’t Sam. It;s something I am not looking forward to telling him. You know how he gets when someone gets hurt because of him.” Murdoch responded.
“ Well I suggest you do it as gently as you can. See if he remembers anything that happened before you do.” Sam suggested. “ And don’t be surprised if he shuts down and becomes quiet after he learns of her death. Let’s go downstairs. I want to have a discussion with everyone about when Johnny wakes up.”
“ Scott, how is Barbara doing?” Teresa asked.
“ How do you think she’s doing. We buried our youngest daughter yesterday.” Scott snapped back.
“ You got no call talking to my wife like that Scott. All Teresa did was ask you how your wife is doing.” Doug ordered.
“ You’re right. Teresa, I’m sorry. She won’t get out of bed, and I don’t know what I can do for her.” Scott said.
Teresa stood up, and walked over to him, wrapping her arms around him, giving him a hug. “ It will be alright. She just needs time to accept what has happened. Just comfort her any way you can.” she said as Sam and Murdoch came down the back stairs.
“ Sam needs to talk to all of us about Johnny.” Murdoch explained.
“ As you all know, Johnny holds his emotions inside. He’s going to be really hurting once he learns what has happened. I told Murdoch, I think it would be best to ask him what he remembers before you tell him about your daughter dying.” Sam suggested. “ He needs to stay as still as possible so he doesn’t do any damage to his shoulder. He has a lot of stitches, especially in his back. Murdoch, I think you should be the one to tell him.”
“ When will uncle Johnny wake up?” Sara asked as she walked over to her father and sat on his lap.
“ Never, I hope.” Scott responded.
“ Scott, that’s a terrible thing to say to your daughter.” Teresa said. “ Sara, your uncle Johnny was hurt pretty bad. He needs to sleep so his body can heal.”
“ Is my sister in heaven?” she asked.
Scott cleared his throat as he hugged her. “ Yes she is in heaven now.”
“ Is that why mommy is so sad and cries?” she asked.
“ Yes, she still loves you, but she misses your sister like we all do.” Scott responded.
“ I miss her too.” she said with sadness.
Johnny sat in a chair on the veranda three weeks later with his head back, and eyes closed. Teresa and her family had left to go back to Sacramento that morning. So many questions running through his mind. Questions he knew he would possibly never get answers too. The biggest being why, and was he the intended target that tragic Sunday afternoon? He could hear someone walking toward him. “ How come you haven’t talked to me?”
“ I have nothing to say to you right now Johnny.” Scott snapped back.
Johnny stood up and faced his brother. “ Look, I’m sorry this happened Scott. If I could change it I would, but I can’t.”
Scott grabbed Johnny and slammed him back against the wall.“ You sonofabitch, you should have been the one who died, not my daughter. You make me sick to even look at you. You’re nothing but a killer. Leave here, leave Lancer before you get my other daughter or my wife killed.” he spat.
“ Let go of me.” Johnny ordered as he tried to get free with his right arm.
“ Scott, stop it. Let him go.” Murdoch ordered.
Scott shoved Johnny into the wall harder. “ You stay the hell away from me and my family.”
“ You want me gone, fine, I’ll leave the house, but I’m not leaving my home just because you can’t accept it was a tragic accident that killed Mary.” Johnny spat as he ignored the pain in his shoulder. “ You have no fucking idea how bad this is hurting me. We don’t know who the shooter was. For all we know, it could be someone from your fucking past!”
Scott’s anger boiled over. Striking out, he hit Johnny hard in the mouth. “ Don’t you ever speak to me again you sonofabitch.”
“ Enough!”Murdoch yelled as he grabbed Scott by the arm and yanked him around to face him. “ What the hell is wrong with you?”
“ Either he leaves Lancer, or I will take my family and leave.” Scott ordered.
“ I told you, I’m not leaving Lancer. I have every right to stay here. I’ll go live in the South Mesa line-shack so you don’t have to see me. This is a big ranch.” Johnny spat before heading inside and upstairs.
“ Your brother is in no condition to leave this house yet. If whoever the shooter was knows he is still alive, they could go after him again.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ That’s not my concern. He has put everyone in this house in danger. I will not risk losing my wife and other daughter over a worthless piece of shit like him.” Scott vented before walking away toward the corrals.
Murdoch stood there in total disbelief at the words he just heard his oldest say.
Johnny came downstairs with his saddlebags over his shoulder, rifle in his right hand, and his colt strapped on. His left arm was no longer in the sling Sam wanted him to use.
“ Son, please don’t leave. Your brother didn’t mean what he said.” Murdoch pleaded.
“ One thing I learned about my brother, he never lies. Scott meant what he said. Send a hand out to tell me what you want me doing every day.” Johnny said as he walked to the barn and started to saddle Barranca.
“ Son, I’m sorry. Please don’t leave Lancer. I can’t bare to lose you, either of you.” Murdoch pleaded as he helped Johnny saddle Barranca.
Johnny led Barranca out of his stall and placed the bridle on him. “ This is the only real home I have ever had. Until Scott can forgive me, and I can forgive me, I can’t stay here Murdoch. I won’t leave Lancer, unless it comes down to that.” he said with a quiver in his voice as a tear ran down his face. “ I never dreamed my own brother would ever hate me this bad over something I have no control over.” he said as he led Barranca outside and mounted up.
“ I don’t want you doing anything until Sam clears you son. Please?” Murdoch said.
“ I’ll be alright. Tell Sara, I love her, and give here her birthday gift I got her. It’s on my dresser.” Johnny said.
“ Son wait, please.” Murdoch said.
“ Scott doesn’t want me here. He wants me dead, so…………I’ll see ya pa.” Johnny cut in before galloping away.
“ You shot the wrong brother you idiot.” Dan Cassidy said. “ Not only that, you killed a four year old girl.”
“ How was I supposed to know he would turn his horse right when I shot.” Jed Lewis said.
“ The brother you did shoot, his name is Johnny Madrid Lancer.” Dan said.
“ So, means nothing to me.” Jed said.
“ It better. He’s the half-breed with blue eyes we seen about ten years ago gun down two of the best in Nogales. They say Madrid is the fastest and best, which is why he is still alive. That little girl was his niece.” Dan explained.
“ Was alive you mean I knocked him clean off his horse. He’s dead.” Jed responded.
“ No he isn’t. He’s very much alive. The only good that’s come from this is what we did it would seem is put the brothers against each other. It would seem Madrid has left Lancer because Scott blames him for his youngest daughters death.” Dan explained.
“ How’s that going to work for us?” Jed asked.
“ We’re going to wait for the right moment and take the other daughter. Having her will guarantee we get at Scott Lancer, and once we have him, we let the kid go. Do you understand?” Dan ordered.
“ I don’t like leaving no witnesses.” Jed said.
“ This is my show, and I say we let her go. By the time anyone finds her, we will be long gone.” Dan said firmly.
“ And just how we going to do this?” Jed demanded.
“ We will leave him a clue, and if he ever wants to see her again, he will do as we say.” Dan explained.
“ Just as long as I get my revenge for my brother’s death.” Jed said. “ So how long we gonna hang around waiting?”
“ Until we get a chance to grab the kid.” Dan responded.
Murdoch rode up to the line-shack and dismounted. He could see Barranca in the corral, so he knew Johnny was here. It had been a month since his youngest left the house to live in the line-shack.
Johnny walked around the corner of the cabin. He seen his father riding up.“ What are you doing here?” Johnny asked as he stepped up onto the porch.
“ Do I have to have a reason to come see my son?” Murdoch asked as he followed him inside.
“ No. Want some coffee?” Johnny asked.
“ Coffee sounds good.” Murdoch said as he removed his hat and sat down at the table. “ How’s the shoulder doing?”
“ It’s okay. I can do some stuff with it.” Johnny responded as he poured two cups of coffee. “ Did Sara like what I got her for her birthday, Or did Scott forbid her from having it?”
“ She loved it. She was a little hurt that you weren’t there.” Murdoch said. “ I would like you to come to Sunday supper.”
“ Thanks, but no thanks. Scott made it pretty clear I’m not welcome there.” Johnny responded.
“ Now you listen to me young man. That is my house and if I want you to come to Sunday supper, your brother has no say in it.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Because you call the tune?” Johnny asked as he leaned back in his chair. “ Would it be alright if I come early so I can take a bath? I’m getting a little tired of bathing in the creek.”
“ Yes. Johnny, you don’t have to have permission to come home son. I miss playing cards with you.” Murdoch said.
“ I took a ride up to Black Mesa yesterday. The fencing needs replaced along that sand trap. You have the supplies taken out there, I can fix it.” Johnny suggested. “ I’ve already laid out a string line.”
“ Alright, just tell me what all you need and I’ll have it taken out there.” Murdoch said. “ Anything else you’ve noticed son?” he asked.
“ No……..Any word on who the shooters might have been?” he asked.
“ No, nothing.” he said. “ What’s on your mind son?”
Johnny stood up and walked over to the door. “ Scott…….I never thought he would turn on me the way he has. I thought we were brothers.”
“ You are brothers. Nothing can change that, the two of you will get through this, and be back to how you were before.” Murdoch said as he stood up.
“ I don’t think we will. What he said the day I left…….I never thought he would……..Guess now I know how he has felt about me all along.” Johnny said with sadness in his voice before stepping out onto the porch, and sitting down on the steps.
Murdoch walked out and joined him. “ These old bones of mine are starting to creek and pop more and more.” he said as he sat down next to him. “ You know, not having either of my sons at Lancer, to grow up, that was hard on me. Every day I would think about how you looked, what you were doing. I knew where your brothers was, but you, worrying about you was the hardest. When I received word that you had finally been located, it took a lot of years of worry off my chest. I say that because I finally knew you were still alive. Every day I prayed you would be, and that you would hopefully some day find your way back home.”
“ I guess it wasn’t easy looking for one wayward boy in Mexico.” Johnny said.
“ No, no it wasn’t son.” Murdoch responded.
“ Especially since I had changed my name.” Johnny said.
“ You’re home now, and that’s all that matters.” Murdoch said as he put his left arm around Johnny’s shoulders.
“Did my mother know about Scott?” he asked.
“ Yes. I told her I was married before and had a son back in Boston with his grandfather.” Murdoch responded.
“ Tell me something, how did you really feel when you learned I was Johnny Madrid?” he asked.
“ Honestly, I was mortified. I thought there had to be a mistake. As the reports kept coming in about you, and I read how you would try and help others, I realized I was wrong about you. That all the things I had heard about Johnny Madrid were nothing more than fabricated lies. That you weren’t a ruthless, coldblooded killer, like so many said you were.” Murdoch responded. “ When you walked into the grand-room that first time, I thought I was dreaming.”
“ You got your mother’s temper, is what you said to me.” Johnny said with a laugh.
“ I had asked Scott if he wanted a drink, and he said No thank you. Then I turned and faced you, and said, you drink don’t you boy, and you said, when I know the man I’m drinking with yeah.” Murdoch said.
“ I guess we’ve come a long way since that first meeting?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes we have son. I better start back. You alright on supplies?” Murdoch asked as he stood up and walked to his horse.
“ Yeah. Figured I would kill a rabbit for my supper tonight. One’s been hanging around out back.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ I’ll have those supplies delivered for you. Tomorrow so you can start working on it Monday.” Murdoch said as he mounted his horse. “ I’ll see you for Sunday supper son.”
Johnny rode up to the house and dismounted s Sara ran outside to see him. “ Uncle Johnny.” she said with excitement as he scooped her up in his arms and hugged her. “ I missed you. Grandpa said you were coming for supper.”
“ I missed you too sweetheart. I’m glad you liked the necklace I got you for your birthday.”Johnny said as he hugged her.
“ Son. I’m glad you came.” Murdoch said.
“ You sure you want me to be here?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes I do. You’re my son, and this is your home.” Murdoch responded.
“ I think I’ll go take that hot bath.” Johnny responded as he set Sara down. “ You go on back inside. I don’t want you to get in trouble or get that pretty dress all dirty.” he said. “ I’m just gonna run upstairs and grab a change of clothes.”
“ Alright son. I’ll see you in a while then.” Murdoch said as they walked inside.
Johnny glanced toward the grand-room and seen his brother glaring at him. “ Guess he’s still mad at me.” he said softly.
“ What’s that son’ Murdoch asked.
“ Nothing.” Johnny said before heading upstairs.
Murdoch hadn’t missed the glare Scott gave Johnny. “ I want no trouble between you two. I asked your brother to join us for Sunday supper. He’s been living at the line-shack, and hasn’t really been eating good meals.”
“ He has no problem allowing a killer in this house.” Scott said sarcastically.
“ Scott Lancer, he is your brother. What happened to your daughter was not his fault. Stop blaming him for her death. It was an accident.” Barbara ordered.
“ It was his fault. If he hadn’t become that damn Johnny Madrid, our daughter would still be alive. I will never forgive him for that.” Scott said with anger.
“ You’re wrong to carry so much hate for Johnny. I suggest you stop it now, before it tears this family apart.” Barbara said.
“ He didn’t see our daughter lying there motionless, her head twisted, and her eyes wide open.” Scott said to her.
“ No he didn’t, just like you didn’t see the horrified look on Sara’s face when she seen her sister fall and break her neck.” Barbara snapped back. “ You haven’t once offered to talk to her about what she seen, or comforted her after she wakes up screaming from the nightmares she’s been having from seeing her sister die. Instead, you find it easier to drown your sorrows in a bottle of whiskey at night. Unless you want to lose our other daughter……..and me, I suggest you start acting like a father to her again, and being there for her when she needs you. Because if you don’t, I will leave you.” she added before heading to the kitchen.
Murdoch looked at his oldest. “ Barbara is right. I’ve let this go on for long enough son. I want you to start healing, and stop with all this anger you have. I want this family to get back together. I want you to stop blaming Johnny for what happened. It wasn’t his fault, and you know it. What you said to him that day he left, crushed him. He looked up to you, admired you, loved you. He still does, now, tomorrow your brother is going to start replacing the fencing by the sand trap. He’s already got a string line done. I want you to go out there and help him. Do I make myself clear?”
“ I am not working with him. Send someone else.” Scott responded.
“ I call the tune, and I say you will do as you’re told when it comes to the work to be done on this ranch.” Murdoch ordered. “ Is that clear?”
“ Yes sir.” Scott responded before walking out the veranda doors.
“ Was supper good son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Better than my cooking, that’s for sure. Thank you.” Johnny responded.
“ Barbara cooked it.” Murdoch said.
“ Thank you Barbara. It’s been a while since I’ve had beef that tasted so good.” Johnny said.
“ Thank you Johnny. It’s called beef burgundy. I’m glad you liked it.” Barbara said.
“ Uncle Johnny, could you stay the night and tuck me in bed, and read me a bedtime story please?” Sara asked.
“ I would love to do that with you sweetheart.” Johnny said. “ That cot at the line-shack isn’t the best of comfort.”
“ Shall we go out on the veranda and have an after dinner brandy?” Murdoch asked.
“ Johnny, I would like to speak to you in private if I may?” Barbara asked.
Johnny glanced at Scott, and then his father as he stood up.
“ Okay.” Johnny said as he followed her over to the couch and sat down in a chair across from her.
“ I want to tell you first off how sorry I am for the way Scott has been toward you. For what he said to you the day you left.” Barbara said.
“ I…….asked Murdoch to have Scott work with you tomorrow……..Now hear me out before you get upset, please.”
Johnny sat there and threw his head back as he let out a deep sigh.
“ Every night, Scott drinks. He waits usually until Murdoch goes to bed. Every morning I smell the liquor on his breath. Sara is almost afraid of her own father Johnny. I don’t blame you for what happened that horrible day. I don’t know if it was someone out to kill you or not. None of us do. It was just bad luck we stopped there.” Barbara explained. “ I know you would never let anything hurt the girls. I know you love your nieces, you loved Mary.” she said with tears in her eyes. “ I need the two of you to settle this. I miss how the two of you used to laugh together. I know Murdoch misses it too. Scott’s anger toward you is wrong. It won’t bring our daughter back, nothing will.”
“ I admire your tenacity Barbara, but I don’t think me and Scott will ever be like we were before the accident. I know my brother, and what he said to me that day……he meant every word.” Johnny responded.
“ So you won’t at least try?” she asked.
“ Coming here tonight was a try, and Scott made it clear with the go to he…….with the look he gave me when I walked in the house.” Johnny responded.
“ And I addressed that with him when you went upstairs. I told my husband that he either try and fix this between the two of you, and start being my husband, and a father to Sara again, or I will take Sara and leave him.” Barbara explained. “ His grandfather, that man is pure evil. I don’t like him. I feel like he is judging me in everything I do. The way he scowls at me. Did you used to have a Mexican woman cook for you named Maria?” she asked.
“ Yes, Maria was with my father for many years. She had to go back to Mexico just before you came here and help her sister. Why?” Johnny responded.
“ The other morning he started talking about a………he said Murdoch used to have a filthy Mexican woman working for him in the kitchen. He said that none of those people should be allowed to be in California, or in this house. And I’m saying it far nicer than he did to me. That man has no manners around women.”
“ You have to take into consideration he comes from back east.” Johnny responded.
“ I come from Boston also Johnny, and I know a lot of men who are not evil like that man is.” Barbara said.
“ Yes ma’am. I’m sorry. I take it you weren’t around him much when you knew Scott back there?” he asked.
“I met Scott right a couple months after his previous girlfriend was found murdered. Reputable sources say Scott got her with child. Some say his grandfather had her killed because she would be a blemish on the good Garrett name.” Barbara explained. “ I don’t know if it’s true or not about him doing that, but I do know she was carrying his child. I had supper with them a few times, and talked to him at parties or galas. Even then I didn’t care for the man and how he came across.” she said.
“ What was her name?” he asked.
“ Susan, Susan Harper.” Barbara responded. “ I knew her and her family for years. Have you never been to a city John?” she asked.
“ Nope. Have no need to go to one. I’ve never been one to like crowds, and cities have way too many people for me. I’ve seen pictures of them though in books.” Johnny said as Scott walked into the house.
“ Johnny, thank you for talking with me. Maybe we can do it again.” Barbara said. “ I think I will take Sara up to bed now.” she said before heading upstairs.
Johnny walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of tequila. “ A woman like that comes along once in a lifetime…….You’re a damn fool brother if you lose her.” he said before downing the shot and walking outside to join his father.
Scott turned and followed him outside. “ If I want your advice about my marriage I will ask for it!” Scott said firmly.
“ You better wake up and see what you stand lose lose brother.” Johnny responded. “ All I said was a woman like that comes along once in a lifetime, and that you are a damn fool if you lose her.”
“ Given your taste and reputation with the whores in the towns around the valley, you are the last person I need telling me anything about a real woman. You don’t know the first thing about a woman except those you pay to have sex with every Saturday night.” Scott spat back.
Murdoch looked at Scott with shock on his face at the words coming from his mouth. “ That is uncalled for son. Your brother was giving Barbara a compliment. You have no call speaking to him like that.”
“ No…..let him speak Murdoch. Tell me something Scott, since you’re so quick to judge, when you really don’t know a damn thing about me. How many women did you bed back in Boston before you met Barbara?” Johnny said with coldness as he faced his brother.
Scott swung and hit Johnny in the mouth. “ Don’t you ever speak like that to me again.”
Looking at his father, Johnny wiped the blood from his lip. “ How about it brother, you gonna tell Murdoch how many women you took to bed? Or do you not want him to know you’re not as perfect as he thinks you are?”
“ You…..” Scott said as he went after Johnny again only to be slammed in the gut by a fist as strong arms grabbed a hold of him.
“ Stop this……..stop this now.” Murdoch ordered as he held onto Scott’s arms tight.
“ Tell me I’m wrong Scott. Tell me you didn’t bed a woman named Susan Harper back in Boston, and get her pregnant. Tell me you didn’t get a nineteen year old girl with child and your dear old grandfather had her killed because she didn’t meet his standards as a wife for you.” Johnny demanded.
“ How do you know about Susan? Who told you…..Barbara?” Scott demanded.
“She knew her family. She knew Susan. I guess it’s alright for you to do what you did because you grew up with money, not wanting for a damn thing. Not having to seek out comfort wherever you can find it. So you go ahead and judge me, you and your fancy education, all your money, fancy clothes, and proper etiquette. Because if having all that shit makes you think you are better than me, you’re wrong. From what I can see standing right in front of me, all it does is make you ignorant and blind to the truth, makes you think you have the fucking right to spit on the little man.” Johnny said with anger and hurt before going inside.
Murdoch stopped the wagon and looked at his youngest, shirtless, his skin glistening in the morning sun as he set another fence post.
“ Looks good.” Murdoch said.
“ Thank you.” Johnny said as he tamped the dirt around the post.
“ Come on, take a breather.” Murdoch said.
“ Don’t mind, I think I’ll have some water.” Johnny said as he dropped the shovel, and went to the wagon, grabbing the canteen.
“ You alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah, just pushing a little hard to get this done.” Johnny responded as he poured water over his face.
“ Well it shows. You’ll have this gully all fenced in by noon from the looks of it.” Murdoch said. “ Uh, Johnny.”
“ A couple problems have come up. I’m sorry.” Murdoch explained.
“ Like what?” he asked.
“ Well at two o’clock I need you to help Scott with that surveying. That report has to go in by next week, and tonight I would like you to help with the book keeping.” Murdoch explained.
“ Send someone else to help Scott.” Johnny said as he wiped sweat from his brow.
“ There’s nobody else to send. All the hands are out doing other jobs.” Murdoch responded.
“ Other jobs huh. Is that why my dear brother didn’t bother to show up here like you ordered him to do to help me get this fence done?” Johnny asked as he put the canteen back in the wagon.
“ Scott hasn’t been here?” Murdoch asked.
“ Nope. Haven’t seen him since last night., and to tell the truth, I really don’t want to see him either.” Johnny said as he walked over and picked the shovel back up.
“ Son, as a third owner of the ranch, It’s your responsibility, but as your father, I’m asking you to do this.” Murdoch said.
“ What about his responsibility?” Johnny asked.
“ I will be having a discussion with him about not coming out here to help you like I requested.” Murdoch responded. “ What your brother said to you last night, I still can’t believe he said.”
“ Yeah well, guess he never wanted you to know about Susan, or the fact his grandfather had her killed.” Johnny said as he started digging another hole. “ People have been judging me all my life. I know you did, probably still do……I……….I know there’s a lot in my past you want to know, that I don’t want you knowing……I will tell you this, I have never got a whore pregnant, and I have never killed anyone in cold blood.” he added with anger.
“ Son, you have every right to be angry about what he said to you last night. I am.” Murdoch responded. “ I never ask you about your past because I figure if you wanted to talk about it, tell me, you would. Everyone has something in their past they want to forget, move past. That they don’t want others to know about. I’ll tell you what, when you finish up here, go over and help with the foot bridge. Tell Frank to go help your brother, then when you’re finished with that, come to the house to help with the book keeping and have supper.”
Johnny stopped digging, and looked at his father. He could see sadness in his eyes. Sadness over what has come between his two sons. “ Do you blame me for all this?”
“ I most certainly do not. It was an accident son.” Murdoch responded.
“ Barbara said Scott gets drunk every night after you go to bed. She’s worried about him.” Johnny said.
“ I will be addressing that with him also. I was going to this morning, but your brother was already gone. Barbara said he left to come out here and help you.”
“ I guess he lied to her.” Johnny said with sarcasm.
“ Well, I’ll let you finish up here and see you tonight son.” Murdoch said as he climbed back in the wagon.
“ Murdoch, I make no promises about what happens tonight. If Scott lashes out at me again, I’m going to knock him on his ass.” Johnny said firmly.
Johnny walked into the house and removed his gun, hanging it on the rack by the front door before stepping down into the grand-room. His father was sitting at his desk, going over the books.
“ Murdoch.” he said as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila. “ Foot bridge is finished.” he said before downing the shot.
“ Good son. Thank you.” Murdoch responded without looking up.
“ Something wrong?” Johnny asked as he walked over to him.
“ Did you make a purchase of tin plating last week when you were in town getting the mail?” he asked.
“ No. I only purchase what you tell me we need. Why?” Johnny asked.
“ Because I found this receipt for a purchase of corrugated tin.” Murdoch responded as he sat back in his chair.
“ Maybe Scott did? He went to town last week also.” Johnny suggested.
“ How do you know he went to town son?” he asked.
“ Frank seen him there. Said he was there about half an hour before he came out, shook Roberts hand, and left. The only reason he told me was because he thought maybe you had forgot something and sent Scott to get it.” Johnny said as Scott walked into the house.
“ Son, I want to speak to you.” Murdoch said as Scott waked into the room.
“ About what?” Scott asked as he walked over and poured a drink, and downed it.
“ I want to know about this.” Murdoch said as he held the receipt out to him.
Scott walked over and took the receipt, and looked at it.“ It’s for the corrugated tin I purchased last week.” he said as he tossed the paper on the desk. “ The order will be here in about a month.”
“ Would you mind explaining to me and your brother why you made such a purchase?” Murdoch asked.
“ I thought using that on the line-shacks would be cost effective. We wouldn’t have to buy roofing every couple years to fix the roofs.” Scott responded.
“ Son, don’t you think you should have discussed this with us first, before you made the purchase?” Murdoch asked.
“ I don’t have to explain anything to him that I do, or you. I own a third of this ranch, therefore I have the right to purchase what I want.” Scott said sarcastically as he walked over to the sideboard and poured a drink.
Johnny walked over and snatched the drink from his hand. “You forget that part of the agreement when we signed the contract was Murdoch calls the tune, and all purchases or changes have to go through him first? We just want to know why you didn’t is all. It’s a good plan, you just went about it wrong.”
“I don’t give a damn what you think about what I did. I don’t need you, or anyone else telling me what to do.” Scott responded.
“ Apparently you do. Getting wasted every night isn’t going to bring Mary back. It won’t do anything but create more problems for you.” Johnny said as Barbara walked into the room with Sara. “ Barbara, please take Sara upstairs.” Johnny requested.
“ Is something wrong?” she asked.
“ Nothing is wrong. My half-breed brother and father think I need to explain a purchase I made last week without talking to them about it first.” Scott responded.
Johnny glared at his brother. “ Barbara, please take my niece upstairs now.”
“ Don’t tell my wife what to do. You have no right doing that.” Scott said as he swung and hit Johnny, knocking him backwards into the back of the couch.
Johnny stood up, and looked at his father as he wiped at the blood trickling down his chin. “ That’s it. I’ve taken all I’m going to take from you brother.” Johnny said right before lunging and head butting Scott in the midsection. His weight propelling the two out through the open veranda doors.
Barbara screamed as Sara started to cry. “ Murdoch, stop them!” she pleaded. “ Stop them before one of them gets hurt.”
Murdoch went outside and found the brothers exchanging blows. Hurrying over to them, the big man grabbed Scott by the arms and pulled him away from Johnny. “ Enough. Stop this foolishness now.” he yelled.
“ Daddy, uncle Johnny stop.” Sara yelled as tears ran down her face.
Scott struggled to get free from his father’s hold. “ It should have been you die that day, not my daughter. It should be you buried on that hill.” Scott spat.
“ I wish it had been me die that day instead of Mary.” Johnny snapped back.
“ Go to hell.” he spat.
“ I’ve already went to hell the day she was killed.” Johnny said with anger. Turning around, he walked over to Barranca and mounted up. “ I’m sorry Murdoch, but until Scott can forgive himself for what happened, I will never set foot in this house again.” he said before riding away.
“ We may have just gotten lucky.” Jed said.
“ How?” Dan asked.
“ His wife and daughter just came into town.” Jed responded.
“ Scott with them?” Dan asked.
“ No, just a couple hands.” Jed said as Dan stood up.
“ Okay, today is the day we start having fun with Scott Lancer.” Dan said as they headed outside to their horses.
“ How far we gonna go after we nab the kid?” Jed asked.
“ Mexico.” Dan said as he mounted up.
Johnny poured a cup of coffee, and walked over to the window to look outside. Lightening flashed in the distance as the rain started coming down hard again. Two hours ago he was fixing fence in the north pasture. When the wind started to pick up, and the temperature dropped, he knew a storm was coming. Hearing the sound of a horse galloping toward the line-shack, he set his cup of coffee down and stepped out onto the porch.
“ What’s wrong?” Johnny asked.
“ Mister Lancer wants you at the house right away?” Walt said.
“ Why?” Johnny demanded.
“ He asked me not to say. Just to make sure you come back right away.” Walt responded.
“ From the way you rode that horse, it must be an emergency?” Johnny said as he went to Barranca and started saddling the horse.
“ I don’t understand this. Why would these men take our daughter? Who are they?” Barbara asked.
“ We’ll find them and get her back.” Murdoch said.
“ How? This storm has wiped out any tracks there would be. How are you going to find my daughter?” Barbara asked. “ Why does this Dan Cassidy hate you so much that he would take our daughter?” Barbara asked as she walked over to her husband. “ Is he the one responsible for killing Mary?”
“ I met Cassidy when I was in Libby prison. I don’t know a Jed Lewis. There was a kid named Stan Lewis, about eighteen or so.” Scott explained.
“ What happened while you were in prison son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Every day I would hear men crying from pain…….fear in their eyes………..Every day men would just lay down and die. Frozen bodies lay all over that winter. They wouldn’t remove them until spring………..Some men were so hungry they………….When someone died, men would fight over the clothes and shoes if they had them, just so they could stay alive a little longer.” Scott explained as he walked over and poured a shot of whiskey and downed it. “ The spring of 1865, we planned an escape, but someone had let the guards know. I warned Cassidy, and the others to not try it. That it was a trap, but they went anyway. Out of thirty five men who tried to escape that morning, Dan Cassidy was the only one left alive. Shortly after, the war ended and those still alive in the prison were let go. I tried to find him after I was released from the infirmary a couple weeks later, but he was already gone.”
“ So, because they got caught trying to escape after you warned them not to go is why my daughter is out there somewhere with those animals?” Barbara said with anger before slapping Scott hard across the face. “ Why Johnny was shot, and Mary is dead?”
“ Mary is dead because of Johnny. He got our daughter killed, not Cassidy or Lewis.” Scott spat as Johnny walked into the room.
Murdoch walked over to Johnny. “ I’m glad you came son.”
“ What’s going on?” Johnny demanded as he removed his rain slicker.
“ This afternoon, Sara was taken by two men. Barbara went to town with Frank and Charlie. On the way back, two men ambushed them, killing Charlie.” Murdoch explained. “ This damn storm has removed any tracks.”
Johnny glared at his brother as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila, and downed it. “ Tell me everything they said Barbara.”
“ She doesn’t need to relive what’s happened. She doesn’t need to tell you what happened.” Scott said firmly.
“ Enough. Your brother is here to help. He is the best tracker we have. You need to cooperate with him, let your brother know everything you know about this Dan Cassidy and Jed Lewis.” Murdoch ordered.
Scott glared at his brother before turning and walking over to the couch to sit down.
Johnny listened as Murdoch explained what Scott told them about being in Libby prison, and the failed escape.
“ Which way did they ride?” Johnny asked.
“ South, away from Lancer.” Frank said. “ I heard one of them say they were heading south to Mexico. Mrs. Lancer, I’m sorry I failed to protect you and your daughter. I’m sorry Mister Lancer, you asked me and Charlie to escort them to town and back. This should have never happened.”
Barbara walked over to him. “ It’s not your fault this happened. Just like it’s not Johnny’s fault Mary died. It seems these two men want revenge against you for something they did. Something you say you tried to stop them from doing.”
“ Are you questioning what I told you? I have no reason to lie to you about what happened. It wasn’t easy for me to tell you that.” Scott snapped back as he stood up.
“ Just like you never talked to me about Susan?” Barbara asked.
“ Susan was in my life before I met you. I don’t have to tell you about my past. What happened in my past is my business, not yours.” Scott responded. Angrily.
“ And there it is.” Johnny said.
Scott glared at his brother as he walked closer. “ Don’t you dare compare my past to yours. I am nothing like you.”
“ I didn’t say that. Fact is, you couldn’t handle what I went through in my past.” Johnny snapped back.
“ Given how you are, you probably brought it on yourself and deserved it.” Scott said sarcastically.
“ Enough. I want this bickering between you two to stop, and I mean stop now.” Murdoch ordered. “ Your brother is going to be tracking these men to get your daughter back. Now that you know it wasn’t his fault Mary was killed, I think you could be man enough to apologize. It has been totally inexcusable the way you have talked to and treated your brother since the accident.”
Johnny stared at his brother with hurt in his eyes. Never would he have ever expected such hateful words to to be said to him from the one person he loved more than anyone else.“ You know, growing up, I had always wished for a big brother to protect me. Someone I could look up too. Someone I could admire, and respect. I never thought the one person I love more than anything would ever turn against me like you have Scott.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice. “ Barbara, I’ll track these bastards and bring my niece back home. I’m going to take care of my horse now. He doesn’t deserve to be standing out in the rain.”
“ What the hell is the matter with you? How could you say that to your brother?” Murdoch asked with anger.
Scott turned and faced his father a minute before heading upstairs.
“I don’t know what to do Murdoch. Ever since Mary’s death, it’s like I don’t even know my husband anymore.” Barbara said with tears rolling down her face.
“ Scott is blaming himself for what happened, and lashing out at the one person closest to him, Johnny.” Murdoch responded.
“ But why?” she asked.
“ He’s scared, and hurt. Scott is blaming himself for what happened to Mary, just like I blamed myself for Maria leaving me. Taking Johnny away from me all those years ago. I think Johnny is seeing that in his brother. Scott feels guilty over what happened because he feels like he failed as a father to protect his children. It could have very well been him instead of Johnny that day when the shots rang out.” Murdoch explained. “ Johnny has had a lot of hurt given to him in his life before he came home. None of that hurt compares to what Scott has done to him though. This tragedy has torn this family apart, and I fear my sons will never be brothers again because of it.”
Johnny came downstairs and found his father sitting at the table drinking coffee as Barbara fixed breakfast.
“ Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes Johnny.” Barbara said. “ I have put together some food for the two of you. There’s hard boiled eggs, roast beef sandwiches, biscuits, and jerky.”
“ I have your horses saddled and waiting out front son.” Murdoch said as Johnny sat down with a cup of coffee. “ I also figured you would need a rifle, so I packed ammunition for both of you.”
“ Thanks.” he said softly.
“ You don’t look like you got any sleep at all. You alright?” Murdoch asked with concern.
“ I’m fine.” Johnny responded as Scott came into the kitchen with his Henry rifle.
“ I figured I better take this along. We get close enough to them, maybe I can take one of them out.” Scott said as he sat down.
“ Maybe.” Johnny said as Barbara put a plate full of eggs, bacon, and potato’s in front of them.
“ I want you two to eat every bite of that food. I don’t want you leaving here on empty stomachs.” she ordered.
“ I never got a chance to eat anything last night.” Johnny said as he glanced at his brother before digging in.
“ Do you want a couple hands to go with you?” Murdoch asked.
“ No. This is something me and Scott have to do.” Johnny responded as he grabbed a biscuit.
“ They have a day’s head start on us thanks to the storm.” Scott said.
“Traveling with a little girl will slow them down. They won’t be able to ride as hard as we can once I find there tracks.” Johnny responded.
“ If they headed south, McCalls Crossing would be the closest place they could hold up and wait out the storm.” Scott suggested.
“ That’s about as far as I figured they would have got too.” Johnny responded. “ If they went south.” he added.
“ What do you mean if?” Murdoch asked.
“ They could have just said that to make us think they’re headed south. To throw us off their trail. There’s a lot of small towns we’ll have to check and see if anyone seen them. That will take time doing.” Johnny said as he finished his food, and stood up.
“ Johnny, I…..about last night……..what I said……..I’m sorry.” Scott said.
Johnny looked at his brother a minute. “ Forget it. I’m gonna go put these saddlebags on our horses.” he said before picking them up with his rifle and walking out.
“ I wouldn’t blame him if he never spoke to me again after what I said last night.” Scott said as he stood up.
“ Your brother is hurting. Give it time. The both of you have a lot you need to work out……..together.” Murdoch responded.
“ I want the three of you to come back home.” Barbara said as Scott gave her a hug.. “ Please be careful.”
“We’ve been searching for a week now and there’s been no sign of them.” Scott said as he handed Johnny a plate of food.
“ Searching all these small towns I told you would take time.” Johnny responded. “ You wanna just head south and possibly miss them?”
“ No………..I want my daughter back. It makes me sick knowing she is with them.” Scott responded.
“ You think I don’t think about that every day? You’ve been a bastard to me ever since this happened. I’ve taken your shit for the last time. No amount of apologizing from you will ever make me forgive you for what you have said to me. The night before we left, you very firmly said I probably deserved all the fucking abuse I got growing up. You have no idea what it’s like to have several kids chase you down, corner you, and cut your fucking hand open just to see what color a half-breeds blood is.” Johnny spat. “ Because Murdoch had a lust, I’ve been paying for it my whole life. The last eight years living at Lancer has given me a chance to know what love and family is like. Your vicious attacks I’ve put up with ever since Mary died are wrong.”
“ I wasn’t in my right mind Johnny. I was hurting. I still am.” Scott said.
“ You selfish bastard………you selfish bastard.” Johnny said with anger as he stood up. “ You never once took into consideration how I feel, how her death has affected me. You’ve only cared about yourself. Mary was my niece, and for over a month now I’ve had to live with the guilt of possibly being the one responsible fr her death. When we catch up to these bastards, I’m going to find out which one shot me, and when I do, I’m going to kill the sonofabitch slowly.” Johnny said before walking off into the darkness.
Three days later Scott and Johnny rode into the small town of Agua Mansa, California, to get supplies and see if anyone had seen Cassidy and Lewis.
“ Excuse me. We were wondering if you have seen two men with a small girl, about six years old come through town?” Scott asked.
“ Sandy blonde hair like yours, wearing a yellow dress?” the store owner asked.
“ Yes. Have you seen them?” Scott responded.
“ Yesterday evening just before I closed. Two men with a small little girl came in and bought her some clothes.” the man said. “ That child looked scared to death of both of them. When I asked her if she was alright, one of the men got a right testy with me, telling me to mind my own business. Said she was his niece, and not happy he was taking her to live with him. Said her folks died, and he was all she had.”
“ Did you happen to notice which way they headed?” Scott asked.
“ They headed south out of town.” the man responded.
“ What did their horses look like?” Johnny asked.
“ The testy one, he was riding a big, long-legged chestnut mare. The other one that the little girl rode with, he was riding a coal black mare. Like I said, they bought her some clothes and some provisions.” the man responded.
“ Thank you. You’ve been a big help.” Johnny said as he grabbed their supplies and headed out the door.
“ Who is the child?” the man asked.
‘ My daughter.” Scott said before turning and walking out.
“ I hope you find them and get her back.” the store owner said.
“ At least we know they’re still headed south.” Scott said as they rode out of town.
“ Why Mexico?” Johnny asked. “ Do you know where this Cassidy is from?”
“ He said before the war started, he had a small ranch in Texas…….down along the border.” Scott responded. “ I totally forgot about that until now.”
“ Maybe because you had no reason until now to remember it.” Johnny suggested. “ So who was the snitch?”
“ What?” Scott asked.
“ Libby, who was the one who told about your plans to try and escape? Or did you not find out?” Johnny asked.
“ I found out. It was Captain Robert Anderson.” Scott responded. “ He was an arrogant, self righteous sonofabitch. He’d been busted down from a major to Captain, because of derelict of duty. I ended up in his group a few days before we were captured. I had heard the man was responsible for getting a whole platoon killed.” he explained.
“ Sounds like the man should have faced a court martial.” Johnny said. “ This Cassidy, did he find out who sold you guys out?”
“ I don’t think so.” Scott responded.
“ What ever happened to Anderson?” Johnny asked.
“ He was killed shortly after the war ended by a southern sympathizer I heard.” Scott responded.
“ Any word?” Barbara asked.
“ No, nothing yet.” Murdoch responded as he removed his hat.
“ Do you think the boys are okay?” she asked.
“ I expect they’re alright.” he responded. “ Why don’t you go try and get some rest.” he suggested.
“ I’ll sleep when my daughter is home safe again.” she said. “ Tell me about Johnny. About why he became a gunfighter.”
“ Scott never told you?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, and I guess until now I never really had an inclination to know.” she responded. “ I always felt a persons past was just that, their past. Given what’s happened in the last month or so, I realize I don’t really know anything about my brother-in-law.”
Murdoch unlocked, and opened his bottom desk drawer, pulling out a thick file. “ I don’t know why I’ve kept these reports. I searched for Johnny and his mother for two years down around the border, but never found them, so I hired a Pinkerton Detective to search for them. Maria managed to stay one step ahead of him, moving around from village to village in Sonora and Chihuahua until she was killed when Johnny was ten.” Murdoch said as he went over to the sideboard and poured two brandy’s, taking one to her. “ It’s not easy to find one lost wayward boy in Mexico. I didn’t know Maria had died until I got a Pinkerton report telling me. Johnny was put on an orphanage and horribly abused by one of the fathers there. Other kids were horrible to him also. He’s been starved, beaten, stabbed. He told me once he was cut by another kid just because that kid wanted to see what color a half-breeds blood was.”
“ Oh my……….You said he was abused while in the orphanage. You mean a man of the cloth abused Johnny?” Barbara asked.
“ Yes. The report say he was starved, beaten and locked away in a dark small closet for days at a time. The abuse got worse when he would run away, get caught, and brought back. Johnny became a gunfighter to stop the abuse he was getting. He hunted down the man who killed his mother, and when only twelve years old, he found that man in a Mexican town and killed him. He has always stayed on the right side of the law. These reports say he used to hire his gun out to help those being done wrong on both sides of the border. Range wars, water rights disputes, everything.” Murdoch responded.
“ Can I ask how you felt when you learned who he had become?” she asked.
“ At first, I was angry. I didn’t want to believe it. As the reports started coming in more, I guess you could say I became somewhat mortified when it sank in. As the reports started telling of the abuse Johnny got, I became very angry. Not at him, as much as those who were hurting my son.”
“ Why did she leave you?” Barbara asked.
“ That is something I have asked myself countless times, and unfortunately, Maria took the answer to that to her grave.” Murdoch responded. “ She left in the middle of the night. I woke and found her and Johnny gone.”
“ How long until he came home?” she asked.
“ Sixteen years……….I met Maria when I was down in Matamoros, Mexico. She was a thing of beauty. It was I guess you could say, a whirlwind romance. When she told me she was with child, I did what was right and married her. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had planned to marry her. It’s just that we had to do it sooner than I wanted. Scott’s mother Catherine, was my first wife. She died giving birth in Porterville. I had sent her away because of land pirates attacking the ranches. I thought I was doing the right thing to protect her. By the time I got to her, she was gone, and Scott’s grandfather had taken him back to Boston with him. He left her there to die in the back of a wagon. It was a little over two years after her death I met Maria.” Murdoch explained.
“ He left his own daughter to die? He never tried to get her some help?” Barbara asked.
“ No. To this day he blames me for her death, and now that Scott has come home to live, he despises me even more.” Murdoch responded.
Scott and Johnny rode into Cerro Colorado, Arizona around mid-day. All morning a relentless rain pelted them.
“ How far are we from the border?” Scott asked.
“ Roughly ten miles.” Johnny responded.
“ What’s between here and the border?” Scott asked.
“ Desert mainly. A few dwellings, but no towns.” Johnny responded.
“ Then why are we stopping here?” Scott demanded.
“ Because I want to see if anyone has seen them.” Johnny responded as he dismounted. “ If you don’t like how I’m handling this, go home.”
“ I will not go home without my daughter. It seems the closer we get to the border, the more you want to stop.” Scott snapped back as he dismounted.
“ Let me tell you something, things down here are done differently. You go off half cocked and you’ll get a bullet in the back. I want my niece back……alive, so I suggest you shut up, and accept how I’m doing things, or I’ll leave your ass behind.” Johnny responded firmly before stepping up on the walkway.
Scott stepped up and grabbed Johnny’s left arm, spinning him around to face him. “ I’m getting really tired of your attitude toward me.”
“ You need to change your attitude brother. You don’t, and it will get you killed. You’re not thinking clearly.” Johnny ordered.
“ I’m thinking just fine……….brother.” Scott responded.
“ You sure about that?” Johnny asked as he walked over and leaned against the wall. “ What did the store keeper tell us about the horses they were riding?”
“ He said one was a long-legged chestnut mare, the other a coal black mare, smaller. Why?” Scott responded.
“ Because if you had been paying attention when we rode in, you would see that chestnut mare tied across the street.” Johnny responded.
Scott looked and seen the mare tied outside the general store. “ How do we know that’s the horse?”
“ We don’t, that’s why we are going to wait and watch.” Johnny said. “ If it is, we follow him to were Sara is. He knows you, so lets go inside the saloon and have a beer while we watch from the window.”
“ Let me ask you something, if they get across the border, you gonna have a problem crossing into Mexico?” Scott asked as they sat down at a table by the window.
“ I got no problem crossing back into Mexico. The Rurales might if they find out I’m there, but to save my nieces life, I’ll risk my life. I’ll die for her.” Johnny responded.
“ How many men have you murdered?” Scott asked suddenly.
Johnny looked at his brother through cold blue eyes. “ I have never murdered anyone. They only men I have ever killed, are those foolish enough to call me out.” Johnny responded with anger. “ That what you think of me? You think because I made a living by my gun, that I’m a cold-blooded killer? That I’ve committed murder?”
“ I don’t know what to think of you anymore.” Scott responded.
Johnny stood up. “ Think what you like.” he said with anger before walking out.
Scott mentally kicked himself as he stood up for asking his brother such a question as he walked outside. “ Cassidy!”
“ Stay put. We don’t know which way he’s riding out of town.” Johnny ordered as he watched Cassidy mount up, and ride past them.
“ He appears t be alone.” Scott said.
“ Let’s give him a few minutes before we start following him.
“ I want to go home.” Sara said. “ I want my mommy.”
“ Shut up kid. I’m sick of hearing your whining.” Lewis ordered.
“ I want my mommy. I want to go home!” Sara said as she cried louder.
“ I said to shut up.” Lewis ordered as he stood up and walked over to her. “ Stop your sniveling now or I’ll give you a reason to cry.” he said as he grabbed the girl and shook her.
“ Let her go.” Cassidy ordered as he rode up. “ Get her on your horse. We need to get going.”
“ Why? We took this sniveling little brat so we could get Scott Lancer. All we’ve done is run, and I’m sick of it.” Lewis responded with anger.
“We hold up and wait when I say. This is my show, so don’t you forget it.” Cassidy ordered.
“ It was my little brother who got killed because of him, so I have more at stake in this than you being betrayed.” Lewis snapped back as he grabbed the girl, and went to his horse.
“ Don’t miss.” Johnny said as he watched his brother aim at Cassidy.
“ I won’t.” Scott said as he pulled the trigger and dropped Cassidy, but didn’t kill him.
Cassidy’s horse reared and bolted as his rider fell from the saddle. “ Get out of here.” he yelled.
Lewis held onto the girl and kicked his horse, galloping away.
“ Get Cassidy, I’m going after Sara.” Johnny yelled as he swung up on Barranca and took off.
Scott mounted up and rode down to Cassidy laying on the ground with a hole in his chest.
“ You never gave me a chance.” Cassidy said.
“ Why should I. You never gave my brother a chance when you shot him, and caused my youngest daughters death.” Scott said as he drew his pistol and cocked it.
“ It was Lewis who shot your brother. He was supposed to shoot you.” Cassidy spat.
“ You the same as pulled the trigger. This is for what you’ve done to me and my family you sonofabitch.” Scott said before pulling the trigger.
Lewis stopped his horse long enough to drop Sara to the ground. Hearing a horse approaching, he drew his pistol and started firing as the rider came into view before taking off again.
“ Uncle Johnny!” Sara said as she ran to him.
Johnny reined Barranca in, and reached down for her hand.“ Come on, lets get you out of here.” Johnny said as he pulled her up into the saddle as a white hot pain shot through his left side.
Scott walked over to his horse and grabbed the reins as his brother rode up to him. “ Take Sara and get her out of here.” Johnny ordered as Scott reached up and pulled his daughter into his arms. “ Johnny wait.”
“ Take her back to Cerro Colorado, and wait for me. Send a wire so they know we got her back. I’m going after Lewis.” Johnny said.
“ Lewis is the one who shot you. It’s because of him Mary is dead. Send that bastard to hell.” Scott said.
“ I plan too.” Johnny said before reining Barranca around and going after Lewis.
Scott walked over to Sara, and knelt down, wrapping his arms around her.
“ Papa, I was so scared.” Sara said.
Scott hugged his daughter, feeling something wet on her back. “ You’re hurt?” Scott said as he looked at the blood on his hand.
“ It’s not mine.” Sara said. “ It’s Uncle Johnny’s blood.”
“ Come on. Let’s get you back to town.” Scott said as he walked over and grabbed the reins to his horse.
“ No papa, we have to go after Uncle Johnny. He’s hurt and will need our help.” Sara said. “ He could die……….Please papa!”
“ I can’t take you, and go after him.” Scott said as he got on his horse.
“ I’m not going unless you go after him. He’s going to need our help.” Sara said firmly.
Chapter 3 ( Final )
Johnny could see Lewis now as he pulled his colt and fired, hitting the man’s horse, dropping it. Dismounting before Barranca came to a full stop as a shot rang out, and sand kicked up near him. He could see Lewis crawl over to hide behind his dead horse. Ignoring the searing pain in his left side.
“ Come on out Lancer. Let me see you face to face.” Lewis yelled as he fired another shot where he last seen the rider.“ What’s the matter Lancer, you only shoot horses and then cower like a chicken? You got my little brother killed you sonofabitch.”
Johnny worked his way around behind Lewis. “ Drop it.” he ordered.
Lewis let his hand rest on the horse, but didn’t let go of the pistol. “ Big, bad Scott Lancer, I never had you figured for a coward.”Lewis said as he cocked the pistol, spun and fired as a bullet seared off the top portion of his left ear. Cocking the gun again, he fired on a spent cylinder.
“ You killed my niece.” Johnny said as he fired, hitting Lewis in his right knee, causing the man to scream in pain. Cocking his gun, Johnny shot Lewis in his other knee cap.
“ You fucking sonofabitch. I’m going to kill you.” Lewis screamed.
“ I don’t think so.” Johnny responded as he took aim and fired, shattering Lewis’s left elbow. Cocking the pistol again, Johnny fired and shattered the right elbow also. “ You killed my youngest niece, killed a good friend of mine, and took my other niece. Johnny said as he put his colt way, and walked over to the man. Reaching inside his left boot, Johnny pulled out the knife he carried there.
“ He got my little brother killed.” Lewis said softly.
“ My brother didn’t get your little brother killed. The men responsible for his death are a Captain Robert Anderson, he told the guards about the escape. Scott tried to warn them not to try it, but they wouldn’t listen. They wouldn’t listen because of Cassidy. He’s the one who led the attempted escape. The man you rode all this way with is the one who got your brother killed. He lied to you all this time.” Johnny said.
“ Who are you?” Lewis asked.
“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid, the man sending you straight to hell for hurting my family.” Johnny responded as he slowly plunged his knife into Lewis’s gut and twisted the blade before thrusting upward, cutting the man wide open as the man screamed until he fell silent, and the life left his body. Pulling the knife out, Johnny wiped the blood off, and put the knife back in his boot. Standing up, he placed his left hand on his blood soaked side as he walked over to Barranca and mounted up.
Scott found Barranca standing still, Johnny slumped forward.
“ Johnny!” Scott called out as they rode up next to Barranca.
“ Hey brother.” Johnny said softly. “ I told you to take Sara home.”
“I would have, except you got shot, and she was insistent we come find you. Can you stay in the saddle? I need to get you away from the border. I can here Rurales, and they’re not that far away.” Scott asked.
“ I can make it.” Johnny responded as he sat up in the saddle. “ I’m really tired of getting shot.”
“ Then maybe we should work on a plan so that doesn’t happen little brother.” Scott said as he took Barranca’s reins.
“ Go north. There’s a river about five miles with a place and plenty of wood, and fish for food.” Johnny said.
“ You need a doctor, and the closest one is back in that town.” Scott said.
“ Never make it to there. You’re gonna have to be the doctor.” Johnny said.
“ Is he going to be alright papa?” Sara asked.
“ He will, but I have to dig the bullet out. Can you be brave and help me?” Scott asked as he heated Johnny’s knife in the fire.
“ I can be brave.” Sara responded.
“ I need you to take that shirt and this pocket knife of mine, and cut some strips for me to use as a bandage.” Scott instructed.
“ Uncle Johnny showed me how once when he was doctoring a horse in the barn. He showed me how to hold the knife and cut away from me so I don;t cut myself.” Sara explained.
“ Well I guess it’s a good thing he did that huh?” Scott asked.
“ Uncle Johnny said there are a lot of things he can teach me that a woman should know to survive. He said it’s alright to be afraid sometimes. Especially when helping like this. He said the sight of blood can be scary, but I’m not afraid.” she said.
“ Okay, you get those bandages ready while I go dig that bullet out.” Scott said.
“ Barbara, they got her.” Murdoch said as he walked into the house.
“ What, they got Sara back. Oh thank god. Is she alright?” Barbara asked.
“ In Phoenix, headed home. Sara is fine, is all he says.” Murdoch read.
“ You think everything is okay between Johnny and Scott?” she asked.
“ All I can do is hope.” Murdoch responded.
“ She’s out like a light.” Scott said as he closed the bedroom door, and walked over to the table where Johnny sat sipping on a shot of tequila. “ You want me to have the doctor come and check your wound?”
“No, it’s alright. You did good.” Johnny said. “ So tell me……How’d it feel milling an unarmed man?” he asked as he poured his brother a shot.
Scott sat down. “ Thanks. To be honest, It made me sick to my stomach even though I knew he deserved it. He pleaded with me not to, said I never gave him a chance.” Scott explained. “ I said why should I. You never gave my brother a chance when you shot him, and caused my youngest daughter’s death. That’s when he told me it was Lewis who shot you. He was supposed to shoot me. I told him he the same as pulled the trigger. Then I told him, this is for what you’ve done to me and my family you sonofabitch, before I put a bullet between his eyes.” Scott said.
“ Now that you’ve had time to reflect on what you did, do you have any regrets about killing him?” Johnny asked.
“ No.” Scott said. “ I couldn’t help but notice you had blood on your knife. How did Lewis die?”
“ I shot his horse, got the drop on him when I went around behind him. I shot him in both knees and then shattered his elbows.” Johnny explained.
“ Okay, you said you were going to make him suffer. That’s a good way to do that, but it doesn’t explain the blood on your knife.” Scott said.
“ I walked up to him, told him what you said about Anderson and that Cassidy lied to him. That it was him who led the escape attempt after you warned them. He asked me who I was. I told him, I’m the man who is going to send him to hell, then stuck my knife in his gut, twisted it, and gutted him.” Johnny said. “ He deserved everything I did to him. It’s because of that sonofabitch Sara doesn’t have a little sister.” he added.
“ She told me what you said to her about using a knife. How you taught her how to use it, how to always cut away from you so you don;t cut yourself.” Scott said. “ Thank you.”
“ It’s nothing. I’m only teaching her things she needs to know to survive. Even if she is a girl.” Johnny said.
“ I wish I’d had your wisdom when I was in Libby. If I had, maybe I could have done something differently to save those men’s lives.” Scott said.
“ You did all you could Scott. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s water under the bridge.” Johnny said. “ One thing I’ve learned in my life is, you can’t make others see reason. Sometimes they have to learn their lessons the hard way. Even if it means paying with their life.”
“ You think we will ever be like we were before this nightmare started?” he asked.
“ I doubt it.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ I’m gonna turn in. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“ Johnny……….thank you………..for everything………I wouldn’t have Sara back if it wasn’t for you.” Scott said as he held his hand out to shake.
Johnny stopped and looked at his brother, ignoring his hand. “ Funny how when you need a killer, everything is okay.” he said before heading to bed.
Scott sat there looking at the spot his brother was standing at seconds ago, as his mind remembered the harsh words he had said to him. How he had blatantly asked him how many men he had murdered. Reaching for the bottle of tequila, Scott poured a shot and downed it. Pouring another, he sat back and thought about everything that had happened since Mary’s death. How he had treated his brother so badly. The horrible accusations and words he spat at him. “ I’m sorry Johnny.” he said softly as tears ran down his face. Irreparable damage between the brothers. Damage he did himself to the relationship he had with his brother. Damage he felt would never be repaired.
“ After we get a room for the night, I’m going to go send a wire letting them know we are in Barstow.” Scott said.
“ When will we be home?” Sara asked.
“ In about a week.” Johnny responded. “ If the weather holds.”
“ I don’t like sleeping out on the ground in the rain.” Sara said.
“ You need a bath young lady. We all do.” Scott said as he dismounted and pulled her down.
“ Uncle Johnny, can I ride with you tomorrow?” Sara pleaded.
“ Sure.” Johnny said.
“ I don’t want you riding Barranca.” Scott cut in.
“ Why? I’ve rode him before.” she asked.
“ I’m your father, therefore you will do as I say young lady.” Scott said firmly. “ Do I make myself clear?”
“ Ease up Scott. She’s been through enough. She can ride with me if she wants. The last thing she needs is for you to be a hard ass to her.” Johnny said.
“ I said no, and that will be the end of it.” Scott said.
“ You check us in, I’m going to go take care of the horses.” Johnny said as he reached down and took Scott’s horse’s reins and started away.
“ They’re in Barstow. They should be home in a week if the weather holds.” Murdoch said.
“ A week. It already feels like they’ve been gone a year.” Barbara said.
“ They have been gone a long time.” Murdoch said.
“ I wonder how far they had to go before they caught up to them?” she asked.
“ With the storms, I expect it took some time to find their tracks or before someone seen them.” Murdoch responded.
“ Do you think they killed them?” she asked.
“ I don’t know. A part of me hopes the boys didn’t let their anger over what those two did get the better of them. I’m sure Scott used good judgment.” he said.
“ Do you say Scott, and not Johnny, because he’s a gunfighter?” she asked. “ Do you think it’s easier for Johnny to kill someone than Scott?”
“ Yes. I’ve seen Johnny kill several men. The look in his eyes when he’s Madrid, is a look you will never forget Barbara. His eyes become cold as ice. He has no remorse over killing another man.” Murdoch responded.
“ Are you sure about that? Scott told me that Johnny has tried to talk every man out of facing him down. Those Pinkerton reports you have say he has never committed murder. That every man he’s killed, he killed in a fare fight.” she said.
“ Yes, but how many men he’s killed are not in those reports? How many men has he killed in a senseless range war?” he asked.
“ Didn’t Johnny and Scott help you in a range war? Didn’t he kill men who were trying to take Lancer from you? Or is that alright because it was to save your ranch, but not alright when helping someone else?” Barbara asked.
“ I wish not to discuss this matter any longer. I have book work to do before supper.” Murdoch said firmly as he sat down at his desk.
“ It seems to me, you need to get your feelings and facts about your son under control Murdoch Lancer. Perhaps reread those reports. I would really hate for you to lose someone as special as Johnny, because of your stubborn Scottish pride.” Barbara said before walking away.
Johnny, Scott and Sara walked out of the hotel the next morning. “ At least the sun is shining this morning.” Scott said as he stepped down to his horse.
“ Yeah. We should be able to get about forty miles or more in today.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny Madrid……..Where ya going Madrid?” a man yelled.
“ Scott, take Sara back inside. Don’t let her see this.” Johnny ordered.
“ Who is he?” Scott asked.
“ I don’t know, now do as I said and take her back inside.” Johnny ordered.
“ Come on out in the street so I can kill you, you half-breed sonofabitch!” Buford yelled as people scrambled to get out of the way.
Johnny calmly walked out into the street. He knew there would be no talking this man out of doing this.
“ I’ve looked for you for twelve years Madrid. I couldn’t believe my luck when I seen you walk out of that there hotel. For twelve years I have vowed I would kill you for killing my brother.” Buford said.
“ I don’t know you mister.” Johnny said calmly.
“ Names John Buford. You killed my big brother Steve down in Laredo, twelve years ago. I’m here to get my revenge for that killing.”
“ Your brother was drunk. He called me out. I gave him a chance to walk away.” Johnny said.
“ That’s not how I heard it.” Buford responded.
Sheriff William Davies walked out of his office to see what the yelling was about. Seeing two men facing off in his street told him.
“ Sheriff, aren’t you going to stop this?” a woman asked.
“ Nope, gun fighting’s not against the law. I suggest you get inside until this is over ma’am.” the sheriff said.
Johnny seen the sheriff walk out of his office, stop, and say something to a woman.
“ I don’t want this. Walk away. Don’t be the fool your brother was. You can’t beat me.”Johnny pleaded.
“ Like hell I will.” Buford yelled as he went for his gun, but never cleared leather as a bullet slammed into his chest, knocking him backwards.
Johnny stood there looking at the man laying feet away dead in the street. Holstering his colt as the sheriff walked over to him.
“ Madrid, I want you out of my town now.” the sheriff ordered. “ I don’t ever want to see you here again. Not while I’m sheriff.”
“ He called me out sheriff. I was only defending myself. You heard and seen it. He called me out and drew first.” Johnny said.
“ I don’t care who called who or who drew first. I want you out of Barstow now.” the sheriff said firmly. “ If I had known you were in my town last night, I would have run you out then.”
Johnny walked over to Barranca and mounted up. Glancing at Scott and Sara before turning and riding out of town.
“ Why did Uncle Johnny, just leave without is papa?” Sara asked.
“ We’ll catch up to him out of town.” Scott responded as he swung her up in the saddle.
“ But he was going to let me ride with him.” Sara said as Scott got in the saddle behind her.
“ Not now Sara.” Scott said firmly as he started out of town.
Johnny stopped Barranca about a mile out of town and waited for his brother. It had been five years since he was called out and forced into killing another man.
“ You alright?” Scot asked as he rode up.
“ Let’s go home.” Johnny responded.
One week later, Johnny stopped Barranca, and looked down at Lancer.
“ Seeing home from up here does something to you inside.” Scott said.
“ Sara, from here as far as the eye can see.” Johnny said. “ The most beautiful place in the whole wide world.”
“ Do you remember the day Teresa stopped up here, and said that to us?” Scott asked.
“ Eight years ago.” Johnny said as they started down the hill.
“ Hard to believe our little sister is all grown up, married, and living in Sacramento.” Scott said.
“ Pedro said Aunt Teresa isn’t really your sister, and not my aunt.” Sara said.
“ She’s not by blood, no. He father used to be the foreman and knew your grandpa a long time. He was killed when Teresa was fourteen. She became Murdoch’s ward, so she is like a sister to us.” Scott explained.
“ What does ward mean?” she asked.
“ It’s kind of like adopted. Teresa was born on Lancer. She was always like a daughter to Murdoch.” Scott responded.
“ Where is her mommy?” Sara asked.
“ Her mother left her when she was very little. Murdoch and her father, Paul, raised her.” Scott responded as they rode into the yard.
“ Sara, oh my baby is home.” Barbara said as she hurried over to them.
“ Welcome home boys.” Murdoch said.
“ It’s good to be home sir.” Scott said as he dismounted and helped Sara down.
“ Mommy, I missed you so much.” she said as she ran to her mother’s open arms.
“ I thought I would never see you again.” Barbara said as tears ran down her face. “ Thank you, thank you for bringing our daughter back home.”
“ Anything for a pretty lady.” Johnny said as he dismounted.
“ Welcome home Johnny, Scott.” Frank said. “ I’ll take your horses.”
“ I got him Frank. Thanks.” Johnny said as he started toward the barn.
“ You look tired.” Murdoch said. “ Let Frank take care of him son. Come inside and relax.”
“ I’m fine.” Johnny said before leading Barranca to the barn.
Murdoch watched his youngest walk away.
“ Let me look at you.” Barbara said as she sat down on the couch. “ They didn’t hurt you did they?” she asked.
“ No. I’m alright mommy. It was Uncle Johnny who was hurt. One of the bad men shot him.” Sara said.
“ Your brother was shot?” Murdoch asked.
“ He’s fine.” Scott said as he sat down on the couch. “ I had to dig the bullet out. If he hadn’t been shot, we would have been home two weeks ago.”
“ Why do I get the feeling you’re not telling me everything son. What happened?” Murdoch asked.
“ I think I will take Sara and give her a bath.” Barbara said.
“ Not before she gives her grandpa a hug.” Murdoch said as he held out his arms.
“ I missed you Grandpa Lancer.” Sara said as she hugged him.
“ What happened son?” Murdoch asked after Barbara left the room.
Scott stood up and walked over to the sideboard and poured two brandy’s. “ We had just come out of the hotel, when a man called him out. After it was over, the sheriff of Barstow, a William Davies ordered Johnny out of his town. Said his kind isn’t welcome there, and to never come back.”
“ Someone from his past?” Murdoch asked.
“ From twelve years ago. He said Johnny had killed his brother, and he had been searching for him all these years to have revenge.” Scott explained.
“ Damn. Will that boy ever get a break and be able to relax?” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Not as long as he’s Johnny Madrid, and trust me, he was all Madrid when we caught up to those two. What he did to Lewis…………”
“ What about Cassidy?” Murdoch asked.
“ I killed him.” Scott responded.
“ What about you two? Are things better between you and your brother?” he asked.
“ Not really sir. I’m afraid the irreparable damage I have done, it will never be the same between us again.” Scott responded. “ I’m trying, but it seems that no matter how hard I try, he shuts me out that much more. Especially after I asked him how many men he had murdered. I don’t know where it came from. We were talking, getting along, when all the sudden I asked. He hasn’t been the same since.”
“ Son, it sounds to me like the two of you are right back to square one. Right back to how you were to each other eight years ago when you first came here.” Murdoch said. “ Maybe you two need to just start over, with a fresh slate.” he suggested.
“ I don’t think he will let that happen sir.” Scott said. “ If you don’t mind, I think I will go join my wife and daughter now.”
“ Alright son. I’ll see you at supper.” Murdoch said as he watched Scott head upstairs.
Johnny was rubbing Barranca’s face when he seen his father walk into the barn. “ Feels good to be home doesn’t it boy?” he asked as the stallion pressed his head into his chest.
“ He alright son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. He’ has a good rest coming to him.” Johnny said as he walked out of the stall. “ He’s the best horse I’ve ever had.”
“How bad is it?” Murdoch asked.
“ How bad is what?” Johnny asked as he forked hay into the stall.
“ Sara said you were shot. That your brother had to dig the bullet out.” he responded.
“ It was nothing. Just another scar.” Johnny said as he walked over to him. “ Won’t be the last time I’m shot.”
“ I would hope it is son.” Murdoch said softly.
“ He told you what happened in Barstow didn’t he?” Johnny asked.
“ He said you were called out.” Murdoch responded.
“ Just another man I murdered in his eyes.” Johnny said with coldness.
“ Hey, this is your father you are speaking too. You are not a murderer. He told me he had asked you how many men you had killed.” Murdoch said. “ He also said he tried to apologize to you for it.”
“ Murdered, not killed. There’s a big difference Murdoch. Even you should know that.” Johnny responded.
“ What happened when you caught up to them son?” he asked.
“ Scott killed Cassidy, I went after Lewis, after I took Sara back to him.” Johnny said.
“ How did they die?” he asked.
“ Why’s it matter? They’re both dead.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down on a bale of straw.
“ It doesn’t. I just would like to know is all son.” Murdoch responded as he walked over and sat down next to him.
“ Why, you want to know how your Bostonian good son shot Cassidy in the head after the man was down with a bullet in his chest? Or do you want to know how I sent Lewis to hell in an inhumane way for what he cost me?” Johnny asked with anger.
“ Yes damn it. I never got the chance to raise either of you, but I would like to think you both have enough common sense to not commit murder Son.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ I shot his horse out from under him, and then I shot him in both knees, and shattered both his elbows. Right before I stuck my knife in his gut, twisted it until he screamed in agony, and then gutted him, I made sure he knew who was sending him to hell, and who was really responsible for his brother’s death.” Johnny spat as he stood up. “ I’ve only murdered two men Murdoch. Two men I have killed in cold blood. The man who killed my mother, and Lewis for killing my niece. Every other man I killed in a fair fight, so think what you like.”
Murdoch stood up, and ran a hand through his hair. “ I don’t know what to think of you.” he said.
“ Why does how I killed him shock you, yet Scott walking up to a man already wounded and shooting him in the head not bother you?” Johnny demanded. “ Or maybe you feel like Scott does and think I’m nothing but a cold-blooded killer. Maybe you wish I was dead too?”
“ I most certainly do not wish that of you son.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Look, I’m tired, and I’m hungry. You got any more questions you want answered, ask your perfect son.” Johnny said before walking out of the barn.
Johnny distanced himself from Scott as much as possible over the following months. Speaking to him only when it pertained to the ranch, and something needing done. He could feel the tension in the air building between them even more than it was before they got Sara back.
“ I’m going to leave Lancer.” Johnny said as they all sat at the table eating supper.
“ What, why son? Lancer is your home.” Murdoch said.
Johnny glanced at Scott. “ I think you know why old man. I’ve given it a lot of thought since we came home. My kind don’t belong here.” he responded. “ It’s best for everyone if I leave.”
“ Better for who? Johnny, this is your home. Please, I know you and Scott can work things out between you.” Barbara pleaded.
“ I don’t want you leaving Uncle Johnny.” Sara said.
“ It’s either I leave, or I go back to living at the South Mesa line-shack.” he said.
“ Scott, say something. Stop this now. This has gone on long enough. Tell him he’s wrong. Tell him it wasn’t his fault Mary died.” Barbara pleaded.
“ I will not permit this.” Murdoch said firmly. “ I don’t care what it takes, I want you two to settle this now.” he ordered.
“ Nothing left to settle old man. I’m leaving in the morning.” Johnny said as he placed his napkin on his plate, and stood up. “ You have your good son.” he added before heading outside.
“ Papa, grandpa, stop him. I don’t want Uncle Johnny leaving. If he gets shot again, he won’t have anyone to take care of him.” Sara said with tears in her eyes.
“ Excuse me.” Scott said as he wiped his mouth and stood up.
“ Son, I don’t care what it takes.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ I’ll do what I can sir.” Scott said before heading outside.
Johnny walked up the hill and stopped at the headstone of his niece. Sitting down as tears ran down his face. For eight years he called Lancer his home. A home he never thought he would ever have with a family he never dreamed of having. That is until that day the whole families life got turned upside down.
“ I’m so sorry Mary. I never meant for you to get hurt. If I could change places with you I would.” he said. “ I made the man that took you from us pay. I thought killing him would make me feel better, but it doesn’t. Maybe your father is right. Maybe all I am or ever will be is a cold-blooded killer.” Johnny said as he placed the rose he cut on her grave.
Scott stood off in the shadows listening to what his little brother said. How he felt the same way after killing Cassidy, but couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone. How doing what he did made him sick to his stomach. When he seen his brother pull his legs up to his chest, and wrap his arms around then, sobbing, he too let the tears go as he walked down to join him.
“ It wasn’t your fault Johnny. I was so hurt, so…………..I lashed out at everyone I care about. Especially you.” Scott said. “ I know I hurt you with the words I said to you. I know we can never be like we were before this nightmare happened. All I can do is say I’m sorry, and beg your forgiveness. I was lost in grief. I seen her fall to the ground, and laying there with her neck broke. Her eyes wide open looking at me. I can’t get that image out of my head.”
Johnny turned his head away from Scott, unable to speak as the tears came harder, and he started to tremble.
“ I don’t want you to leave. This is your home. You leave here and you’ll be dead by the time you’re thirty from some bastard looking to take your reputation away from you. I can’t protect you out there like I can here. Like a big brother is supposed to do. I can deal with the nightmares from the war, and being in prison. I don’t know how to deal with the one I keep having of how I killed Cassidy. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing I shot an unarmed wounded man. Johnny, I need you to help me, please brother.” Scott pleaded.
“ She shouldn’t be buried here. Mary should be down there with her sister, laughing, and playing.” Johnny finally said.
“ Yes she should.” Scott said. “ Johnny, do you think Mary would want us acting the way we have been toward each other?” he asked.
“ No, probably not. She would probably threaten to beat both our butts if she could.” Johnny said as he wiped away his tears.
“ You remember when we first came here?” Scott asked. “ Me having grown up in Boston, not knowing a thing about ranching. You taught me. I don’t think I would still be here if it wasn’t for you. The other hands, they got a good laugh, but not you. You took the time to teach me.”
“ Everybody needs someone to teach them something at some time in their life Boston.” Johnny said.
“ Please don’t break Sara’s heart and leave. She’s lost so much these past five months.” Scott pleaded. “ I know I don’t deserve it, but I would like us to start over. I would like you to give me a second chance Johnny. Can we do that?”
Johnny lay back in the grass, and looked up at the stars as a coyote yapped in the distance. “ This is the only home I’ve ever had. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve it, or my family. I think if we take it one day at a time, we can move forward Scott.”
“ You think they’re alright?” Barbara asked.
“ I think they will be. I expect they are doing some long lost brother to brother talking.” Murdoch responded.
“ About what?” she asked
“ I expect about a scorned past.” Murdoch responded.
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