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A Time To Run by Nancy Marie

I don’t own them. All original characters belong to their rightful owners, all others belong to me, and may not be used without my permission.

This story is Rated R.

Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Sam Jenkins
Dr. Bob Ridgeway
Ben Thompson – Marshal
Judge Roger Larabee –  father
Beth Larabee – daughter
Woody Calloway

Word count: 13,562

Chapter 1

” I want to talk to the three of you. ” Murdoch said as they sat relaxing after supper. A good friend of mine, Judge Larabee, and his family is coming to visit.

” Visitors……Oh how wonderful. Who Murdoch? ” Teresa asked, all excited.

” Roger Larabee? ” Johnny asked.

” Yes, do you know him son? ”

” I’ve heard the name before. ”

 ” His wife, and daughter will be coming with him. ”

” Where are they coming from? ” Scott asked.

” Denver. They will arrive next month. ”

” Oh it will be so nice having visitors. ” Teresa said with enthusiasm.

” Teresa, calm down sweetheart. ” Murdoch said.

Johnny walked over to the sideboard, and poured a shot of tequila. ” What kind of judge is he? ”

He was a federal court judge, but retired ten years ago. I haven’t seen him in….fifteen years. ”

” How old is his daughter? ” Teresa asked.

” Let’s see, twenty years. I believe Beth is eighteen. ”

” Does he know that me and Scott are here? ” Johnny asked. ” Or about Madrid? ”

” He knows you boys are here, and he is anxious to meet you both. ” he responded. ” As for you being Madrid, no. ”

” You said he’s a judge in Denver. You know if he’s ever been a judge down south?  ” Johnny asked before downing the shot of tequila, and pouring another.

” He may have been. Is something wrong son? ”

Johnny downed the second shot of tequila, and set the glass down. ” I’m going to go check on Barranca and then turn in. ”

” I thought we were going to play chess tonight? ”

” Not tonight Scott. ” he said before walking out.

” I have a feeling your brother knows your judge friend from somewhere down south. ” Scott said.

” So do I son. I think I will go thru the reports I have and see if I can find out anything. ”

” I know this man is your friend, but what will you do if his being here causes problems for Johnny. ”

” I assure you, Roger will cause no problems for your brother while he is here. ”

” Are you willing to bet your son on that sir? ” Scott asked.

Scott, and Johnny climbed down from the wagon at the North Mesa line-shack.

” So talk to me brother. ” Scott said as they started untying the rope holding the tarp over the supplies. ” You know this judge don’t you? ”

Johnny untied the rope ” I stopped in this town in Texas a couple years ago for the night. I was in the saloon having a drink when this man playing poker was caught cheating. ” Johnny said as he handed the axe to his brother to finish cutting the tree down. ” They hung him the next morning. The judge was a man named Roger Larabee. He had the man drug from the jail the next morning, and hung him for cheating at cards Scott. People in that town were to afraid to do anything to stop it. ”

” Will you recognize him if you see him again? ”

” I’m not likely to ever forget that man’s face….or the face of the man he hung. ”

” Murdoch needs to be told this Johnny! ”

” He won’t believe me, and I don’t want you telling him either. You do, and I will never tell you…….”

” Say no more brother. ” Scott cut in. ” Is that why you asked Murdoch if he knew about Madrid? ”

” Yeah. It’s starting to rain, so let’s get this unloaded. ” he said as he carried a box inside.

Scott watched his brother walk away, and knew it was hard for him to tell anything about his past. He also knew his brother hated knowing what he did about a friend of their fathers.

” It will be good to see Murdoch again. ” Martha said.

” Yes it will. It’s been twenty years. ” Roger said.

” I wonder what his sons are like? ” Beth asked.

” I expect Scott is a well-mannered young man. He was raised by his grandfather in Boston, and the youngest son, Johnny……he just came back home last year. ”

” Why did he grow up in Mexico father? ” Ellen asked.

” His mother left Murdoch in the middle of the night. He woke one morning and found her gone, and she took Johnny with her. He just returned home eight or so months ago. ”

” You were only three the last time we were at Lancer. ” Martha said.

” How big is Lancer? ” Ellen asked.

” One hundred thousand acres. ” Roger responded.  ” I want you girls to remember, it’s a working cattle ranch, full of danger.’

” Hello Scott. ” Sam said as he walked over to the Barouche.

” Hello Sam. ” Scott said.

” Are you here to meet the stage? ”

” A good friend of Murdoch’s is coming to visit. ”

” Well, I’ll see you later. ”

Scott walked over to the stage, and watched as a man, and three women stepped off the stage. ” Judge Larabee? ”

” Yes. ”

” I’m Scott Lancer. ”

” Scott, yes. Your father has told me a great deal about you. ” the judge said. ” This is my wife Martha, and my daughter  Beth. ”

” Ladies. I have a Barouche waiting to take you to the ranch. ”

Johnny was cold, soaked to the bone, and tired by the time he got back to the house well after dark. After taking care of Barranca, he headed inside to take a hot bath.

” Johnny! ” Teresa said. ” What happened? You’re soaking wet. ”

” It’s raining, and damn cold. ”

” John, language. ” Murdoch said sharply.

” Go get cleaned up. ”

” Thanks querida. ”

” Just a minute Johnny. ”Murdoch said as he walked over to his youngest. ” I want you to meet Judge Larabee, his wife Martha, and daughter Beth. ”

Johnny looked at the judge. ” Ladies, welcome to Lancer. Please excuse me, but I need to go get cleaned up before supper. ”

” I apologize for my son’s rudeness. I don’t know what’s gotten into him tonight. ”

” That’s alright Murdoch. The young man is cold. I’m sure he didn’t mean to be,” Martha said.

” You can’t expect someone who grows up in Mexico to have manners Martha. ”

” Roger, now you know that’s not true. ” she responded.

Scott decided to see what he could learn about the judge. ” Have you always been a judge in Denver? ”

” No, I was a judge in Texas for a couple years. That’s where I met your father, then we moved to Denver. Why do you ask?”

” No reason really. I think I’ll go check on my brother. Oh, with all due respect judge, my brother does have manners. Being raised in Mexico has no bearing on the matter. In fact I’ve seen more than my share of people raised in the city who lack good manners. ” Scott said firmly before heading upstairs.

” Where’s your brother ? ”

” He’ll be down in a minute. ”

” Good morning Murdoch, Scott, Miss Teresa. ”

” Sleep well judge? ” Scott asked.

” Yes I did. I can’t believe how quiet it is here at night. ”

” Except for the occasional coyote, or owl, it is quiet. ”

” Mister Larabee, is there something special I can fix for you for supper? ” Teresa asked.

” No, just whatever you usually fix will be fine. ”

” Morning son. ”

” Morning Murdoch, judge, Miss Larabee. ”

” Johnny. You look better than last night. ” the judge said.

” Yeah, I was pretty cold from the rain. ”

” You want us to start on the calves this morning? ” Scott asked.

” How many are there? ” Murdoch asked.

” Roughly three hundred. Most of them will need castrated. ” Johnny said. ” I figured we could put half in the corral to get started. ”

” How many hands do you think you will need to help? ”

” With me and Scott, two more should be enough. ”

” Alright. Take Frank and Walt with you. ”

” What is it you are going to be doing? ” Beth asked.

” Branding and castrating the bull calves. ”

” You think I could watch? ”

” It’s dangerous work. What we’re going to be doing is no place for little girls. ” Johnny said.

” I am not a little girl. I’m eighteen. ” Beth snapped back.

” John, she is just wanting to see what work is like on a ranch. ” Murdoch said. ” Perhaps I can take you out there this afternoon. ”

Johnny had an uneasy feeling about the daughter. How she looked at him made him feel very uncomfortable. ” You call the tune. ” he said snidely.

” Oh how cruel. ” Beth said as she watched Johnny rope a calf, dismount, and throw it to the ground. ” Why do you have to castrate them? ”

” I have select bulls for breeding my cows. Expensive bulls for good bloodlines. The steers will be taken to the rail-head, and shipped back east to be slaughtered. ”

” You mean killed? ”

” Yes. All the females will stay here to produce more. ”

” The next time you eat a steak, it could very well be one of Murdoch’s steers. ” the judge said.

Beth watched as Johnny took a metal rod from a small fire, walked over to the calf,and placed it on the calf’s hip. ” What’s he doing now? ”

” Branding it. All ranchers have their own brand design they put on their stock. Mine is the Lancer L in a circle. ”

” But it hurts the calf. ”

” Only for a few seconds. It has to be done. If I didn’t brand them, someone could come along and steal them, put their brand mark on them, and I would be out a lot of money. ”

” Is this all your sons do? ”

” No, they also fix fences, and clear streams of brush. There’s a lot of work to be done to keep a ranch the size of Lancer running. ”

” That the judge and his daughter? ” Walt asked.

” Yeah. She wanted to see us castrate and brand calves. ”

” Is it alright if I walk over to the fence? ” Beth asked.

” I would prefer you stay in the buggy. ” the judge said. ” You don’t need over there were you could get hurt. ”

” Here it is Judge, the only one in the county. Built by the Spaniards back in the late seventeen hundreds. ” Murdoch said when they got back to the ranch late afternoon.

” I just can’t believe there’s no jail or law in any of the towns around here! ”

” We have a jail built in Spanish Wells, but no law yet. I’ve made suggestions to the Cattleman’s Association about hiring someone as a sheriff at our last meeting. ”

” More and more people are coming west. You need lawmen, and justice to get rid of the ruffians, troublemakers…..and gunfighters. ” the judge said. ” In Denver, we don’t tolerate gunfighters of any sort in town. They bring trouble, and death everywhere they go. ”

” Not all gunfighters are bad judge. ”

” By that statement I take it you are talking about your son Johnny? ” he asked. ” Don’t look surprised Murdoch, I know all about him as a gunfighter down in Mexico. I was curious when you said the reason it took so long to locate him was because he was going by another name, but you never said what that name was. ”

” My son is a good person. He’s not wanted by the law anywhere. I didn’t tell you because it was none of your business who he was in his past. ”

” What do you know about the boy Murdoch? ” the judge asked.

” He’s only been home eight months. We are still learning about each other. ”

” Don’t you worry about your ward Teresa being around him? ” he asked. ” I mean, the boy clearly has no manners, and quite frankly, I would be concerned.”

” Johnny knows he’s to treat Teresa as a sister and nothing more. ”

” You never said how you met his mother? ”

” I met Maria twenty one years ago in a cantina in Matamoros. We fell in love, got married, and I brought her back here to live. ” he responded. ” I woke up one morning and found her gone, and Johnny as well. Until eight months ago, I had searched for him for eighteen years. ”

” John is what, twenty? ”

” Yes. He was almost two when Maria took him from me. ”

” So that means you got her pregnant before you were married? ”

” What are you getting at Roger? ”

” Murdoch, you get a Mexican woman with child out of wedlock, marry her, and bring her here to live, only to have her take your bastard child away from you……..”

” Johnny is not a bastard child. We were married when he was born, and that’s all that matters. ” Murdoch said firmly. ” I loved his mother, and I will ask you to show my son the same respect you do Scott while you are a guest in my home. ”

” So what’s this party Lancer is having? ”

” Murdoch does it at the end of the season every year for the hands. They don’t get to have fun as much as we do. ” Teresa explained. ” Other ranchers will come. It’s a lot of fun. ”

” Teresa, do Scott, and Johnny have girlfriends? ” Beth asked as they sat on the veranda doing needlepoint.

” I don’t believe so. They go into town on Saturday nights sometimes to play cards, and drink with the hands. ”

” So what do you do for fun around here? ”

” I’m usually too busy mending clothes for the boys, cooking meals, and cleaning the house. ” she said. ” I do help at the orphanage when they need it. I also help at the school in Green River. ”

” I think Johnny is very handsome.  ” Beth asked.

” Johnny and Scott both are handsome. I think that’s why they don’t have girlfriends. ”

” What do you mean? ”

” Lancer is the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin valley, Scott, and Johnny are third owners. So some of the girls in the valley have the wrong intentions for a relationship. ”

” Does Johnny….he grew up in Mexico, does he know how to act around a lady? ”

” Heavens yes. I know he goes to town to see the saloon girls, but he’s never made anything inappropriate around me. ”

”You’re not related to him. I mean, Murdoch isn’t your father, you think you could ever… know…..have romance with Johnny? ”

” Maybe if we had met under different circumstances. ” Teresa said. ” Murdoch made it very clear he is to treat me as a sister, and nothing more. ”

” He’s so good looking, I don’t think I could do that. ” she said. ” Does he dance? ”

” He does, but not always. Johnny doesn’t like his fun organized. ” Teresa said. She couldn’t help but wonder why Beth was asking so many questions about Johnny.

” Murdoch, Scott, I want you to meet Doctor Bob Ridgeway. ” Sam said.

” Lieutenant Lancer, it’s been a while. ” the surgeon said.

” Yes it has sir. ”

” You two know each other? ” Sam asked.

” We certainly do. Murdoch, this is, was General Sheridan’s personal surgeon. ”

” So this is your father….It’s a pleasure meeting you sir. I have to say, your son was the best lieutenant the general had, and a fine horseman. ” the doctor said as he shook Murdoch’s hand.

” What brings you to California? ” Scott asked.

” I would come out west and see how doctors out here work. ”

” Are you retiring Sam? ” Murdoch asked.

” Not anytime soon. ”

” I heard you were captured, and sent to Libby. ”

” I was. I spent a year in that hell hole. ”

” Well I’m glad to see you made it out alive son. ”

” That makes two of us Doctor Ridgeway……Ah judge, I would like you to meet a very good friend of the family, Sam Jenkins, and his guest  Doctor Bob Ridgeway. This is Judge Roger Larabee, and his wife Martha. ” Murdoch said. ” Sam is the only doctor we have in the valley. He delivered my son Johnny. ”

” Doctors, it’s a pleasure. ”

Beth watched as Johnny headed to the barn away from the party. ” Doesn’t like his fun organized. ” she said as she looked around until she spotted her father, and mother talking with Lancer and two other men. Following Johnny, she was going to see just what kind of fun he liked to have. Walking into the barn, she could see Johnny at the back of the barn with a horse.

” He’s beautiful. ” she said as she walked up to him.

” What are you doing here? ” Johnny asked. ” You need to go back to the party. ”

” Teresa said you don’t like your fun organized. I thought I would come see what kind of fun you like to have? ”

” Go back to your father Beth. You shouldn’t have come out here. ” Johnny said as he came out of the stall

” I’m not afraid of the dark. ” she said as she stepped closer to him.

” Come on, I’ll walk you back. ”

Beth reached out and put her arms around his neck. ” I like to have fun too Johnny. ”

” I’m not into having fun with little girls.” Johnny said as he reached up,and removed her arms from around his neck.

Beth slapped Johnny hard across the face, the sound echoing in the barn.

Johnny grabbed her arms, and shoved her back away from him. ” Leave! ”

Beth glared at Johnny a minute before turning, and running from the barn in tears. Her right shoulder catching on a nail, tearing her dress, and cutting her arm deep.

Johnny stood there shaking his head, shocked at what just happened. Sighing, he headed back to the house.

Beth walked up to her mother.

” What in the world…..Beth, what happened? ” Martha asked. ” Oh my god, your arm, you’re bleeding. ”

” Sam! ” Murdoch called out. ” Let’s get her in the house. ”

” What happened to you? ” her father demanded when they walked into the house.

” I’m sorry father. I thought I could trust him. ” Beth said.

” Who, trust who? ”

” This is deep, but it doesn’t need stitches. ” Sam said.

” His son…..Johnny. He asked me to go with him to the barn. Said he wanted to show me something……He took me to the back of the barn where it was dark, grabbed me, and threw me down in the straw. When I got up, I slapped him hard across the face, and he cut me with a knife he had. He grabbed me and told me to fight him as he pushed me back against the wall. That he liked girls who fight back. He kissed me, and put a hand around my throat as his other hand went between my legs, pulling my dress up. I got away when he went to undo his pants. ” she said.

” I’ll kill that sonofabitch! ” the judge said with anger.

” Now simmer down judge. ” Murdoch said as Scott walked into the house.

” Simmer down. That bastard tried to rape my daughter. I’ll kill him. ”

” Judge Larabee, my brother wouldn’t do this. It has to be a mistake. ”

” You dare call my daughter a liar? ” the judge asked. 

” Johnny would never try…….She’s lying. ” Teresa said just as Johnny walked into the great room.

” You sonofabitch…..I’ll kill you! ” the judge said as he started toward Johnny, but stopped when he found himself staring at the business end of Johnny’s colt aimed right at him.

” Johnny……..son, put that away. ”

” Not until someone tells me what’s going on? ”

” You filthy bastard, you tried to rape my daughter! ”

” I never touched her except to push her away from me. ”

” Everybody needs to calm down. ” Murdoch ordered. ” John, put that gun away and sit down. ”

” Johnny, what happened in the barn? ” Scott asked.

” I went to check on Barranca’s leg. I didn’t know she followed me out there until she showed up. I told her she shouldn’t be there, and to leave. ” he said.

” What happened to your face? ”

” She slapped me when I told her I don’t like little girls. That’s when I grabbed her arms, and shoved her away from me. She turned and left the barn. ” he responded. ”  I never tried to rape her! ”

” Yes you did. You had your filthy hands all over me. I slapped you when you tried to remove my dress. ”

” Martha, go pack our things, we’re leaving. I’m wiring the marshal in Sacramento to come here and arrest this bastard. You run, and I’ll have you hunted down and shot! ”


Chapter 2

” Morning marshal. ” Deputy  Calloway said. Got a wire from a Judge Larabee. ”

” Judge Larabee. Never heard of him. What’s he want? ”

” Seems we need to go to a town called Morro Coyo. And arrest someone for attempting to rape his daughter last night. ”

” It’s at least a two day ride. ” the deputy said.

” You better go saddle our horses. ” Marshal Ben Thompson said. ” I’ll send a wire back telling him we’re on our way, and will be there in two days. ”

Scott walked into the kitchen the next morning to find his brother, and father sitting at the table. ” Johnny, you need to tell Murdoch what you told me about Judge Larabee. ”

Johnny looked at him a few seconds, and then dropped his head.

” I’m sorry brother, but he needs to know. ” Scott said.

” Know what? ” Murdoch asked as he stood up. ” Son, if you know something about Judge Larabee, tell me…..please. ”

” Your good friend hung a man in Texas for cheating at cards. ” Scott said.

” He did what? ”

Johnny raised his head and leaned back in his chair. ” I stopped in a small town in Texas down by the border. I just wanted a bath, food, and bed to sleep in for the night. I was sitting in the cantina when a man playing poker accused another of cheating. The good judge arrested him, and just after sunrise the next morning, he had the man dragged out of his cell, and hung him. ” Johnny explained. ” When I was saddling my horse to leave, the livery owner told me the people of that town are afraid of him. That he’s hung other innocent people for crimes that should have been a night in jail, or a fine and nothing more. ”

” How long ago did this happen son? ”

” Five years. ”

” I asked him if he had always been a judge in Denver. He said he was in Texas also. ” Scott said.

” Your good judge friend will see to it I hang for this Murdoch. ” Johnny said.

” I’m sorry…..I should have told you. This is all my fault. ”

” What are you talking about? ” Murdoch asked.

” Beth, we were sitting on the veranda the other day, and she started asking me all kinds of questions about you. ”

” What kind of questions? ” Johnny asked.

” How you were with women, did you have a woman, did you like to dance. At the time I thought it was a little odd, but shrugged it off. I’m sorry Johnny. ”

” It’s alright. You had no way of knowing what she was going to do. ” he responded.

” Scott, if I get taken to jail, would you take care of Barranca for me. He needs his foot soaked three times a day in cold brine water. ”

” I’ll take good care of him for you. I just hope he will let me. ” Scott said.

” Cut up an apple and give it to him, and he’ll let you. ” Johnny said.

” The marshal will be here from Sacramento in two days.  I want you to leave son. Go to one of the line-shacks until we get to the bottom of this, and make that girl tell the truth. ”

” No Murdoch, I’m not going to run. I did nothing wrong. Only a guilty man runs. ”

” I had to ask son. I hope you understand? ”

” Yeah…sure. ”

” Beth, I want to know if what you said happened is the truth? ” Martha asked.

” I told you what happened. ”

” Yes, and what Johnny said is different. ” Martha responded. ” Young lady, this young man’s life is in your hands. He could be sent to prison for a very long time. Now I’m going to ask you again….What really happened between you and Johnny in that barn? ”

” Stop it……I told you. He tried to rape me. ”

” How did you get that cut on your arm? ”

” I told you, he tried to rape me. He held a knife to me. ”

” You never said anything about him having a knife. Now I want to know the truth! ”

” Leave me alone! ” Beth screamed before running out of the hotel room in tears.

Martha had a feeling her daughter was lying about what happened, and planned to prove it. Grabbing her shawl, she left the hotel, and headed to the doctor who treated her daughters wound.

” Do you think he did it? ” Doctor Ridgeway asked Sam as they came out of Sam’s office.

” Johnny, certainly not. That boy would never do such a thing. ”

” Looks like Mrs. Larabee is coming to see you. ”

” Pardon me, but are you not the doctor who treated my Beth last night? ”

” Yes ma’am. Is she alright? ” Sam asked.

” Well that depends. Her wound, could you tell if it was caused by a knife, or something else? Martha asked.

”That was no knife wound Mrs. Larabee. A knife wound is even on the edges, were hers was jagged. Like she caught it on something, a nail perhaps and the head of the nail tore her dress and the skin. ”

” Have you known the Lancer’s long? ”

” I have known Murdoch Lancer for over thirty years. I delivered Johnny twenty years ago. ” Sam replied. ” Mrs. Larabee, I know that boy, he didn’t do what your daughter is accusing him of doing. ”

” I believe you doctor. I’m afraid my Beth is a very troubled little girl, anxious to grow up. Roger refused to listen to reason when I tried telling him after a similar incident in Denver happened last year. ”

” Ma’am, you need to take your daughter to the proper doctors who can help her, or perhaps put her in a finishing school? ” Doctor Ridgeway suggested.

” My husband will never allow it. He’s been a judge for many years, and having his daughter committed would ruin his chances of becoming a Supreme Court Judge. ”

” So instead of facing the truth, he is willing to let an innocent man go to prison for something he didn’t do? ” Sam asked.

” I’m afraid…..I’ve taken up too much of your time. Thank you doctor. ” Martha said before walking away.

Scott walked out to the barn to check Barranca’s leg for Johnny. He knew hat the horse meant to his brother, and how worried he was about the horse’s stone bruised foot.  ” Okay Barranca, Johnny isn’t able to come take care of your foot right now. So you have me. ” he said as he took the cut up apple from his pocket. ” He said you fancy these, and I thought you would like some grain while I soak that foot of yours. ”

An hour later Scott closed the gate to Barranca’s stall. ” I wish you could talk, and tell me what happened in here last night buddy. ” he said as he rubbed the horses face. ” I’ll see you later. ”

Opening the door to leave, Scott stopped when he noticed a piece of fabric hanging from a nail. Looking closer, he found the nail head had blood on it. Removing the piece of fabric, he headed to the house to talk to his brother, and father.

” Let’s take care of the horses, and then go to the hotel and meet with Judge Larabee. ” Marshal Thompson said.

” You go ahead, I’ll take care of them. ” Deputy Calloway said.

” Alright. I’m sure a judge won’t be too hard to find in this town. ” the marshal said.

” Evening gents. ” the owner said. ” Marshal, names Percy, Judge Larabee said to give you the best care while here. ”

” Just the basic care will be enough. ” the marshal said. ” You know where I can find this Judge Larabee? ”

” At the hotel eating supper I expect. He’s been waiting for you. ” Percy said. ” Damn man thinks cause he’s a judge everyone should bow to him. You ask me, that daughter of his ain’t right in the head, and there ain’t a person in this town who believes Johnny Lancer did what she’s accusing him of doing. ”

” So you know why we are here? ” Calloway asked.

” Sure do. The judge made sure the whole dang town knew he had a marshal coming to arrest Johnny Lancer, and that the Lancer ranch was finished. ”

Thompson looked at his deputy.

” This Lancer, he a prominent citizen in the area? ” Calloway asked.

” Sure is. Murdoch Lancer has the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin. His boys only just came home earlier this year. ” Percy said. ” Scott was raised back in Boston by his grandfather. The youngest boy, Johnny took a while for the Pinkerton’s to find him down in Mexico. Eighteen years I think. ”

” Why’s that? ” the marshal asked.

” His mother ran off with him when he was two. Murdoch searched eighteen years for that boy. ”

” I thought the Pinkerton’s were the best.  Why’d it take so long? ” Calloway asked.

” He changed his name. He wasn’t going by Lancer. ” Percy said. ” He’s known down along the border as Johnny Madrid. ”

” The gunfighter Madrid? ” Calloway asked

” That’s him. You’d never know it though. That boy is nothing like them dime store novels say Madrid is like. You ask anyone in town, and you’ll find out how good he is. ”

” Appreciate the info. Is Lancer in jail? ”

” Nope, we got a jail, but we don’t got a lawman. He’s out at Lancer, confined to the house. ” he said.

” Where’s Johnny? ” Scott asked.

” Upstairs sleeping. Why? ”

” I have proof she’s lying. ” Scott said as he walked into the great room.

” What proof son? ”

” This. ” he said as he showed him the piece of cloth he found. ” I found it on a nail on the door frame to the barn door, and there’s blood on the nail head. ”

” She said Johnny cut her with a knife. ” Murdoch said.

” The wound was jagged. ” Teresa said. ” It wasn’t made by a knife. ”

” Was any other part of her dress tore? ”

” Not that I could see. ” she said.

” You know, for someone who Johnny was supposed to have tried to rape, she wasn’t very shook up by it. ” Murdoch said. ” she walked up to her mother, no tears, or any sign of what was supposed to have happened. ”

” She didn’t seem angry when she told what happened either. ” Scott said. ” A girl I knew back in Boston, a man tried to rape. Her dress was torn, her hair was disheveled, and her make-up was muddled. ”

” She said Johnny threw her down into they straw, yet she had no straw in her hair! ” Teresa said.

” We will get to the bottom of this.” Murdoch said firmly. ” I don’t want either of you telling Johnny about what you found. ”

” When will the Marshal be here? ” Teresa asked.

” Tomorrow. ”

” We have to do something Murdoch! We can’t let him take Johnny! ” she pleaded.

” He’s innocent Teresa. He won’t run. ”

” I’m going to go start lunch. ” Teresa said.

” He knows about Madrid. ” Murdoch said. ” When I wrote to him telling him Johnny had been found, I said he had changed his name. It seems Roger wanted to know what that name was. ”

” So he could possibly use that against my brother? ”

” I never knew it until the other day. Judge Larabee doesn’t like Mexicans. He asked me about Maria, and even knew I got her with child before we were married. In his eyes Johnny is a worthless bastard child. ” Murdoch said with anger. ” Damn that man. He is not the man I knew twenty years ago. ”

” Everybody changes. ” Scott said. ” Do you think his wife knows? ”

” Martha would have to know, and I think she knows something is wrong with their daughter, and he’s refusing to accept it. ”

he responded. ” I think she is a very disturbed young lady, and needs medical treatment. ”

Marshal Thompson and Deputy Calloway walked into the hotel lobby. ” Excuse me. Do you know where I can find a Judge Larabee? ” he asked the clerk.

” That’s the judge over there eating supper with his wife and daughter. ”

” Much obliged. Woody, go head and get us a room for the night while I go talk to the judge. ”

” The judge has already paid for a room for you marshal. ” the clerk said as he retrieved a key, and handed it to him.

The marshal walked over to the table where the judge sat eating dinner. ” Judge Larabee? ”

” Yes. ”

” I’m Marshal Thompson, and this is my Deputy Woody Calloway. ”

” I’ve been expecting you marshal. Please, sit down. ”

” Perhaps you would like to go someplace more private to talk? ” the marshal asked.

” I have nothing to be ashamed of marshal. Johnny Lancer tried to rape my daughter, and I want him arrested, and hung for the crime. ” the judge said.

Several customers got up, and left the dinning room upon hearing what the judge said.

The hotel owner came over to the table. ” I’m sorry Judge Larabee, but  I’m afraid I will have to ask you to leave my establishment. The talk you have been spreading around town, and in here has cost me business. Marshal, you and your deputy can stay, but I must insist this man and his family leave at once. ”

” You can’t throw me out! ”

” He can as the owner judge. ” the marshal said.  ” Is your daughters the one who was…….? ”

” Beth, yes. ”

” I’ll need her to stay. Your wife can go upstairs. ”

” Marshal please! Can’t you do this someplace else? ” the manager asked.

” There’s been a possible crime committed. Therefore I’m afraid the judge and his family will be staying, but I assure you, he won’t be speaking of said crime anymore in public. ” the marshal said. ” Not unless he wants to be arrested for defamation of character? ”

” Now see here marshal. I have said nothing that isn’t true! ” the judge spat. ” I want that bastard hung for what he did. ”

” There’s been no preliminary investigation yet. I’m here to get the facts, and see if the accused is in need of arrest and a trial is needed. ” the marshal said. ” And the law does not hang a man for attempted rape. Even you should know that judge! ”

” A preliminary investigation…….That…..”

” Judge Larabee, I can, and I will arrest you if you don’t calm down. ”

” Maybe we should talk to the young lady alone? ” the deputy suggested.

” No, the judge will sit there and keep his mouth shut. ” the marshal said firmly. ” My deputy is going to write down everything you say, and when we are finished I will have you sign it. ”

Johnny came downstairs late afternoon to find his father sitting at his desk. ” I’m sorry Murdoch. If I hadn’t went to the barn to check on Barranca, none of this would have happened. ”

” It’s not your fault son. Me and your brother have been talking. We both think the young lady has issues that need addressed by a doctor. I think she is sick in the head, and her father knows it, but won’t accept it. ” his father said. ” Scott found a nail protruding from the door frame. It had a piece of her dress on it, and blood on the nail head. She stated that you cut her with a knife. Teresa seen the wound, it was jagged, not smooth like a knife would do. ”

” I never…..Why is she……That judge has his way, he’ll have me hung for this. ”

” I’m by no means saying you did this son, but attempted rape is not a hanging offense. ”

” Vigilante justice comes to mind. ”

” There will be no vigilante justice happening. ”

” Okay, I just need you to sign this affidavit. ” the marshal said.

” What will happen to Johnny? ” Beth asked as she signed the paper.

The marshal made a mental note of the girl asking about the man she was accusing of trying to rape her. ” Why? ”

” I was just wondering. ”

” I’ll ride out to the ranch and talk to Johnny, and anyone else who was witness to what happened before, during, or right after. ”

” You’re not going to arrest him? ” the judge asked with anger.

” Judge Larabee, you as a judge know I take affidavits and then it’s up to a prosecuting attorney if charges should be made, and an arrest needed. ” the marshal explained. ” I know you want justice for what supposedly happened to your daughter, but I’m not in the habit of sending innocent men to prison. ”

” I am perfectly aware of the law, and a prosecuting attorney is not needed in this case. ”

” Can I ask how long you have been a judge? ”

” Almost thirty years. ”

” Then you know a  preliminary investigation, is an inquiry to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender that a crime has been committed and the respondent is guilty thereof, and should charged, and held for trial. ” the marshal explained. ” And the only one who can determine that is a prosecuting attorney. ”

” What does that mean father? ” Beth asked.

” It means…….It means Lancer may not be arrested, and charged. ”

” No, he’ll come after me. ”

” He’s being held so he don’t run away. ”

” You know judge, in my twenty nine years as a lawman, I’ve learned there are two reasons a man will run. The obvious being he’s guilty of the crime. The other being he’s running away to not be killed for something he didn’t do. It’s not up to you or me to determine if a man is guilty or innocent. That’s the court, lawyers, and a jury’s job. Our job is to see that the law is upheld. ” the marshal said as he stood up. ” I don’t want you having any contact with any member of the Lancer family. Until then, don’t leave the hotel. Do I make myself clear? ”

” You can’t….”

” Judge Larabee, you have already showed me how arrogant you are with the law. If I find there is not enough evidence to support these allegations, I will have you arrested for defamation of character, and false charges. Now I don’t think you want that on your record. ”

” Now see here, me and my family are not the criminal here! ”

” I never said you were, but you’ve been shooting your mouth off, and defamation of character is against the law. ”

” I’ll have your badge for this when this is over marshal! ”

” Are you Sam Jenkins? ”

” Yes. Come in marshal. ”

” I need you to tell me about the condition of Beth Larabee the night of the alleged attack on her. ”

Sam removed his glasses and cleaned the lenses, then told the marshal everything he observed, and about the wound not being made from a knife.

” In your medical opinion, did she act like someone who was almost raped ? ”

” No. Now I know each woman responds differently, but that young lady had no signs at all. Her hair wasn’t messed up, there certainly wasn’t any straw in her hair, and other than the tear in the sleeve of her dress, she had no visible signs John tried raping her. The only time she showed any emotion was when Johnny told what happened, making her angry. ” Sam said. ” I will say this marshal, I know that boy, and there is no way he did this. I will stake my career on that. ”

” Mister Lancer, I’m Marshal Ben Thompson, and this is my Deputy Woody Calloway. ”

” Yes. We’ve been expecting you. Come in. ”

” Thank you. I must say, you have a nice home. ”

” Thank you. Can I get you some coffee? ”

” Thank you. This is my oldest son Scott, and my ward Teresa. ” Murdoch said. ” Where’s your brother? ”

” Still sleeping. ” Scott said. ” He was up until well after midnight last night. ”

” That’s alright. Let him sleep. I’m going to do what’s called a preliminary investigation about what happened. My deputy will write down what is said, and then I’ll have you sign it. ” the marshal explained.

” I was a lawman a while back marshal. I’m familiar with how this goes. ”

” Alright. I’ll start with you Mister Lancer. If you two wouldn’t mind leaving the room until I’m ready to talk to you. ”

” Teresa, why don’t you come with me to check on Barranca? ” Scott suggested.

The marshal waited until Scott and Teresa left the house. ” You’re Johnny’s father? ”

” Yes.”

”  Did you see the alleged attack happen? ”

” No. I was hosting a party for the hands. I do after the end of summer round-up. ” Murdoch explained.

” So there were more than the Larabees and your family present? ”

” Yes. I have a hundred and fifty vaquero’s working for me. I would say there were about half that at the party, plus a few friends from neighboring ranches, and Sam. ”

” About how long after the party started did the trouble happen? ”

” I would say a couple hours. My son doesn’t like his fun organized. He doesn’t like crowds. ”

” I see. Is that because of who he used to be? ”

Murdoch looked at the marshal and sighed. ” My son left all that behind him. He came home eight months ago to try and live a life as my son, and a brother. ”

” So him being Johnny Madrid had nothing to do with what happened to the girl? ” the deputy asked.

” Absolutely not. ”

” How long have you known Judge Larabee? ”

” About twenty five years. I met him when I was a lawman. It’s been twenty years since I seen him, but we kept in contact thru letters over the years. Last month he wrote saying he was coming to visit. ”

” How long he been here? ”

” Almost two weeks. ”

” What happened the night of the attack? ”

” I was talking to the judge, his wife, Sam and another doctor here visiting Sam when the young lady walked up to us. Her mother is the one who noticed her right arm was bleeding, and her dress sleeve had been torn. ” Murdoch said. ” We brought her into the house, and Sam doctored the wound. It wasn’t deep enough for stitches. She then told us what she said happened. The judge became angry, ordered Martha to go upstairs and pack. He said he was leaving, going to town and send a wire to you. He also said he would see to it that my son was hanged for what he did. ”

” He said the same thing to me yesterday evening. I set him straight that a man accused of attempted rape is not hung for that crime. ” the marshal said. ” How did the young lady’s appearance seem? ”

” She told us that my son was supposed to have thrown her down in the straw, yet she had none in her hair, her make-up wasn’t muddled, and her dress seemed fine except for the tear in the sleeve. She had shed no tears, and became angry when Johnny told us what happened. The judge demanded I lock my son up in the cell I have, when I told him no, he said if Johnny ran, he would hunt him down and kill him. ”

” Alright. I think I have enough from you. I’ll talk to…….”

” Murdoch, I’m sorry I……..”

” Son, this is Marshal Ben Thompson and his Deputy Woody Calloway. ” Murdoch said as he stood up. ” This is my son Johnny Lancer. ”

” Johnny, Mister Lancer, please leave us alone. ”

” Where’s Scott? ” Johnny asked.

” Him and Teresa went out to take care of Barranca for you. I’ll be outside if you need me son. ”

” I want him to stay. ” Johnny said.

” Alright. I’ll ask that you remain quiet Mister Lancer. ” the marshal said. ” This is a preliminary investigation. My deputy will write down what you say. Go ahead and tell me what happened. ”

” I went to the barn to check on Barranca. ”

” Who is Barranca? ”

” My horse. He has a bad stone bruise. I was in his stall when she came into the barn. I told her she shouldn’t be there. That it’s not safe for a young lady to go walking around in the dark alone. She said she’s not afraid of the dark, and that Teresa told her I don’t like my fun organized. I told her I would walk her back to the party, that’s when she put her arms around my neck and said she came out to see what kind of fun I liked to have. ” Johnny said as he fidgeted with a napkin. ” She tried to get me to kiss her, I took hold of her arms and removed them. I told her I don’t like little girls, she slapped me, I grabbed her arms and shoved her away from me. She turned and left the barn. I stood there in I guess you could say a somewhat shock for a few minutes before I headed back to the house. ”

” Marshal, my son Scott found this on a nail sticking out of the door frame to the barn along with dried blood on the nail head. ” Murdoch said as he handed the marshal the piece of fabric. ” That’s from the right sleeve the dress the young lady was wearing. ”

” Can you show me this nail? ”

” I can, and you need to talk to Teresa about a conversation her and Beth had a couple days before the party. ”

” I’m only interested in the day of the incident Mister Lancer. Woody, you stay with Madrid ” the marshal ordered.

” His hoof is looking better. The bruising is getting less. ” Scott said.

” That will make Johnny happy to hear. ” Teresa said.

” It should. This horse is the only thing my little brother has ever owned that meant anything to him. ”

” Scott, I know Johnny didn’t do it. He would never do such a thing. ”

” I know it too. ” Scott said as he came out of the stall.

” Scott, the marshal would like you to show him where you found the piece of fabric and blood. ” Murdoch said from the opened big door.

” Alright. I found it over here on this door marshal. ” Scott said as he walked over to the small door, opened it, and showed the marshal the nail with blood on it.

Marshal Thompson walked over and looked at the nail. ” It’s about the right height. I talked to Sam Jenkins, and he said the wound was not made by a knife. ”

” They say you’re the fastest there is down around the border. ” Deputy Calloway said. ” What I heard is you gunned down your first man at twelve. You’ve made a hell of a reputation for yourself in what…..eight years? ”

Johnny ignored the deputy, stood up, and walked into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.

Calloway followed Johnny into the kitchen. ” What made you become a gunfighter? I mean, you got all this land, a fine home, and money. You just get a taste for killing one day? ”

Johnny turned and looked at the deputy with stone cold blue eyes. ” You know nothing about me. ”

” I’ve seen men like you before. Call a man out or gun him down just to kill someone. ” Calloway said. ” I bet you did try and rape that innocent girl. ”

Johnny set his cup of coffee down just as the marshal walked into the kitchen.

” That’s enough Woody! ” the marshal ordered. ”I’ll turn all the statements I have over to the prosecuting attorney. It will be up to him if he wants to have you arrested, and charged. I’m not going to lock you up. I’m going to trust that you don’t run. ”

” There’s two reasons a man runs marshal. He’s guilty, or he’s running from vigilante justice. ” Johnny said. ” I’m not guilty, and I don’t run from vigilante justice either. ”

” Don’t leave Lancer. Judge Larabee will be staying in Spanish Wells, and I don’t want the two of you tangling. ”

” Do you know how long this could take? ” Johnny asked.

” That will be up to the attorney. ”

” The only attorney in Spanish Wells is Randall, and he’s my attorney. ” Murdoch said.

” That won’t work. If there’s one in Green river,I’ll have him look the statements over, and if he wants to pursue this further, he’ll have to come to Spanish Wells. ”

” When this is over, I’m taking Beth back to Denver. ” Martha said. ” When I get there, I’m having her seen by a doctor. ”

” A doctor for what? ”

” She’s sick in the head and you know it. She lied to us about what happened Roger. You’re ready to kill an innocent boy because you don’t want to accept that our daughter needs medical help. ” Martha said. ” He didn’t do it Roger. I know it in my heart. Stop this madness now, before it’s too late. Before it happens again. ”

” What are you talking about? Before what happens again? ”

” I chose to stay with you after what you did five years ago in Texas. I won’t this time. ”

” I was right in what I did in Texas! ”

” Were you?  Was it right to hang a man just for cheating at cards Roger? I won’t stay married to a man who takes the law into his own hands. ”

” Can I help you? ”

” Are you the prosecuting attorney? ”

” Casey Hayes, what can I do for you……..? ”

” Marshal Ben Thompson. I got a possible attempted rape case I need you to look over the statements, and see if it warrants charges being filed, and an arrest made. ”

” You’ve done the preliminary investigation already? ”

” Yeah. The victim’s father is a Judge Larabee from Denver. His daughter is the victim. ”

” I don’t do work in Denver, Colorado, marshal. ”

” No, sorry. It’s here. Spanish Wells. The incident happened at a ranch called Lancer. ”

” Lancer….That wouldn’t be a Murdoch Lancer would it? ”

” You know him? ”

” Not personally, but in this valley, everybody knows the Lancer name. ”

” The accused is his youngest son….Johnny. Look everything is in my report with the statements. I need to get back to Sacramento. ”

” Alright, Where is the victim? ”

” She’s at the hotel in Spanish Wells. ”

” Alright. I’ll let you know. ”


Chapter 3

” You alright son? ”

” I feel like I’m standing in front of a firing squad waiting for them to pull the trigger. ” Johnny said. ” Why haven’t we heard anything? ”

” It’s only been two days son. ” Murdoch said. ” Why don’t we play some cards? ”

” I don’t want to play cards Murdoch. I want my life back. I want all this to just go away. ” Johnny said with anger. ” I can’t believe that bitch is lying about this! ”

” That will be enough of that kind of language son! I know you’re upset. We all are over this, but getting angry, and using that kind of language will not help. ”

” How can you remain so calm? ”

” Don’t think I’m not angry over this son. I’m the one who invited that man into this house! ”

”I don’t blame you for this Murdoch. ” Johnny said as he wrapped his arms around himself. ” All I want is to live a normal life….A life as your son, and a brother. ”

Murdoch could see his son was shaking, and had a quiver to his voice. Taking a chance, he walked over and pulled his son into a hug. When his son hugged him back, he couldn’t stop a tear from running down his cheek. ” Let it out son, Let it out. ”

Johnny welcomed his father’s strong arms around him as he started shaking more and tears escaped his eyes. After a minute, he pulled away, and turned around to wipe the tears away. ” I’m scared pa. ” he said barely above a whisper. ” Can you believe that ? Me, Johnny Madrid scared. ”

” Can I ask why you’re scared son? ”

” Because I don’t want to lose what I’ve come to love, Lancer, you, Scott, and Teresa. ” he said. ” Until eight months ago, I’ve never had a family to care about. ”

Murdoch’s heart swelled with pride hearing his son say that. ” Johnny, if this does go to trial, I will hire the best damn lawyer in California to defend you. ”

” I’ve been in a prison before. I know what it’s like in one. I don’t think I could survive if they lock me up. ”

” We just have to hope, and pray that doesn’t happen son. ”

” Can I help you? ” Martha asked.

” Ma’am, my name is Casey Hayes. I’m the prosecuting attorney looking at your daughters attempted rape. Is she here? I would like to speak to her. ”

” Yes. Please come in. ” Martha said. ” My husband is out. What is it you need to ask her? ”

” I just have a couple questions I want to ask your daughter. ”

” Mister Hayes, I’m afraid this has all been a mistake. My daughter…….she has a problem in her head, and…..I’m sorry, I tried to tell my husband, but he refuses to listen. The attack never happened. ”

” Mrs. Larabee, why didn’t you tell the marshal this when he was here talking to your daughter ? ”

” My husband wouldn’t let me. I’ve pleaded with him to stop this, but he won’t listen. That young man is innocent, and Roger knows it. ”

” So it’s your husband making the charges against Johnny Lancer, not your daughter? ”

” She said he tried to rape her, and my husband got furious. I know this didn’t happen. Please, if you charge him, an innocent man will be sent to prison. ”

” I did notice a discrepancy in her statement to the marshal. The doctor who treated her injury said it was not caused by a knife. That the wound is jagged, not smooth. ” Casey said. ” Is your daughter here? ”

” She’s at the doctor with my husband getting her arm checked. ”

” I’m sorry, but there just isn’t enough evidence to file charges against Lancer. ” Casey said as he walked to the door, and opened it.

” Thank you. ” Martha said.

” Where’s Johnny? ” Scott asked as he walked into the great room.

” Upstairs. ” Murdoch said as he stood up. ” He’s afraid. ”

” Afraid of what? ” Scott asked.

” Your brother broke down and told me he’s scared he’s going to lose everything he’s come to love, and that if he is sent to prison, he won’t survive being locked up in one again. ”

” I knew it was bothering him. I had no idea it was that bad. ”

” This afternoon I got closer to my son in a way I never thought I would. ” Murdoch said as someone knocked on the door.

” I’ll get it. ” Scott said. ” Can I help you? ”

” Is this the Lancer ranch? ” Casey asked.

” It is. ”

” I’m Casey Hayes. I’m here about the allegations against a Johnny Lancer. ”

” That’s my brother. Come in. ” Scott said. ” Murdoch, this is Casey Hayes, the prosecuting attorney. ”

Murdoch walked over to the man. ” Johnny is my son. What do you want? ”

” I need to speak to him. Is he here? ”

” He’s upstairs sleeping. ”

” I’ll get him sir. ” Scott said before heading upstairs.

” According to your statement to the marshal, Judge Larabee is a longtime friend of yours, and you had invited him to come here to visit ? ”

” We were. I didn’t ask him to come here. He wrote saying he was coming to visit, and he was bringing his wife and daughter with him. ”

” You’ve known the man for twenty five years? ”

” Yes. I thought I knew him……until he came here. ”

” Unfortunately Mister Lancer, people change, and sometimes it’s not for the better. ” Casey said as Johnny came downstairs.

” Son, this is…..”

” Casey Hayes, I’m the lawyer handling the investigation. I’m sorry to wake you John. May I call you John? ”

” That’s fine. ”

” I had an interesting talk with a Martha Larabee this morning. Now granted I had come to my conclusion before I talked to her, but what she had to say confirmed what I already knew. ”

Johnny wasn’t in the mood for fancy lawyer talk. ” Which is what? ”

” I’m not going to file charges against you. I came to that conclusion based on what a doctor Sam Jenkins said about the wound, the young lady’s lack of emotion right after the incident, and her account of what was supposed to have happened. ”

” So I’m not going to be arrested ? ”

” No. the young lady’s mother feels her daughter is sick, and needs help. ” Casey replied. ” I’m inclined to go along with the mother. ”

” I think I should warn you Mister Hayes, Judge Larabee is determined to punish my son for this. He may try and persuade you to change your mind. He may even threaten you. ”

” He can threaten me all he wants Mister Lancer. I have already sent a wire to Sacramento letting the marshal know my decision. ” he responded. ” I’m afraid I am due in court tomorrow, so I need to get back to Green River. ”

” You did what ? ”

” I told him it was all a big mistake. That Johnny Lancer never tried to rape our daughter. ” Martha responded.

” You let that Mexican bastard disgrace our daughter! ”

” Nobody would have known what happened if you hadn’t shot your mouth off and told all around town what happened. ”

” Don’t you dare stand there and put this on me woman. You need to remember your place woman, and keep your damn mouth shut! ”

” Oh I know where  my place is. Me and Beth are leaving on the morning stage. ”

” Go then. Make sure you’re gone when I get there. I don’t want to see either one of you ever again. ” the judge said before storming out of the room.

Martha stood there in shock as tears started to run down her cheeks. Thirty years ago she married Roger, and tonight that marriage ended.

” Morning Johnny. ”

” Morning. ” Johnny said as he walked over behind Teresa, wrapped his arms around her, and gave her a hug, and kiss on the cheek.

” What was that for? ” she asked.

” Just felt like giving my little sister a hug to say thank you for standing by me thru this. ”

Teresa turned to face him. ” There is no way you would ever do what she said you did. ”

Johnny wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into another hug as Murdoch walked into the room.

” Alright you two, what’s going on? ”

” Just giving my little sister a hug. ” Johnny said as he sat down across from his father. ” Murdoch….about the other day, thanks. ”

” That’s what a father does son. Give support to his son when he needs it. ”

” Morning. ” Scott said as he came into the room and sat down.

” Morning son. John, do you feel like going back to work today? ”

” Yeah, it’s been three days since I was…..what’s that word you used Scott? ”

” Exonerated. ”

” Yeah, exonerated. I’m ready to start pulling my weight around here again. ”

Murdoch looked at his oldest and laughed. ” Good. I want you boys to ride out and check the fence along the salt flats this morning. Make sure none of the post are rotting off at the ground. ”

” Murdoch, we can save a lot of money if we move the fence back fifty feet. ” Johnny suggested.

” That would take a whole summer to do son. ”

” Yeah, but look at the money it will save, and the time in the long run. ”

” He makes a good point sir. ”

” Alright, see how many post it would take, check the ground out, and let me know tonight. ”

Judge Larabee rode up behind the Lancer house three days after the lawyer said he would not charge Johnny Lancer with the attempted rape of his daughter. Dismounting before the sun came up, he pulled a rifle from the scabbard, and walked around to the front veranda where he knew Johnny would be coming out to go to the barn.

” I’ll go saddle the horses. ” Johnny said as he stood up, walked over, and removed his gunbelt from the rack by the front door. ” Thanks for breakfast Teresa. I’ll see you outside Boston. ” he said as he strapped on his gunbelt.

Johnny opened the front door, walked outside, and started toward the barn when he was stopped.

” Johnny Lancer! ” Judge Larabee said as he stepped out of the darkness of the veranda and aimed the rifle at Johnny.

” What are you doing here? ” Johnny asked.

” The law won’t do anything to you for what you tried to do to my daughter. ” the judge spat. ” I’m here to make you pay. ” he said before pulling the trigger.

Johnny felt the bullet slam into his upper left leg, and knock him hard to the ground. Reaching for his colt, he fired a shot as he felt another bullet slam into his shoulder, knocking him onto his back as two more bullets sliced thru his flesh.

Murdoch and Scott ran from the house, horrified when they seen Judge Larabee standing over Johnny laying on the ground bleeding.

Murdoch, and Scott both fired, hitting the judge, causing him to drop the rifle and slowly dropped to his knees as blood started to spread across his chest.

” Johnny……..oh my god…..Don’t you die on me little brother. ” he said as he picked his brother up, and carried him inside.

” Go get Sam! ” Murdoch yelled.

Murdoch seen the judge was still alive. ” My son dies……Frank, take this sonofabitch, and lock him up. I don’t care if he bleeds to death. ”

Scott carried Johnny upstairs and placed him on the bed.  ” Teresa, get me all the bandages we have. ” he ordered as he  started to remove Johnny’s bloody shirt.

” Do….n’t…..let……me…..die! ” Johnny said as he grabbed his brothers hand.

” We won’t brother. You stay still. Sam will be here soon. ” Scott said as a tear ran down his cheek.

” Got….me…good! ” he said before blackness claimed him, and his hand went limp in Scott’s hand.

” Teresa hurry up with those bandages! ” Scott yelled.

” Murdoch, what do we have? ” Sam asked as he hurried into the room, followed by Doctor Ridgeway.

” He’s been shot up Sam. He has at least four bullets in him. ” Murdoch said. ” One in his upper left leg, and at least three in his body. ”

” Alright, Teresa can stay and help us. I want you and Scott to go downstairs. ” Sam ordered. ” My god! ”

” Judge Larabee ambushed him when he came out of the house. ” Scott said.

” Out now! ” Sam ordered. ” Scott, bring up more hot water, and see what you can find to use for bandages. ”

” Teresa, I need you to stay strong for John. This is not the time to shed tears. We need your help. ” Sam said.

” I understand Sam. ” she said. 

” Help Doctor Ridgeway with that leg wound. ”

” Let’s get his pants off. ” Ridgeway said as he took some scissors from his bag.

” What kind of scissors are those? ” she asked.

” Surgical. ”

” Doctor Ridgeway is a surgeon. ” Sam said. ” These other two wounds have stopped bleeding for now. ”

” They’ve been up there almost five hours now. ” Scott said.

” Mister Lancer. ” Frank said from the veranda door.

” Yes. What is it Frank? ”

” I thought you should know the judge died shortly after we put him in the cell sir. ”

” Have some men take his body to the undertaker in Spanish Wells. ”

” How’s Johnny? ”

” We don’t know. Neither doctor has come down yet. ”

” The men are all wanting to know. ”

” As soon as we know something, we’ll let you know. ” Scott said. ” Thank you Frank. ”

Sam, and Ridgeway came downstairs seven hours later.  Both men exhausted. ” Please, sit down. ” Sam said as he wiped his glasses off.

” Johnny is in very bad shape. He was shot four times. Three in his upper body, and one in his upper left leg. ” Sam said.

” I removed the bullet in the leg. ” Doctor Ridgeway said. ” He won’t be able to walk on the leg for a while, and may have a permanent limp because of it. The bullet to his shoulder was deep, but I don’t believe it caused any permanent damage

” Was he shot with a rifle? ” Sam asked.

” A Winchester 44 – 40.” Scott said. ” Why ? ”

” He has a very deep furrow in his right side where the bullet grazed him.. ” Sam said.

” The forth bullet went in his chest, just below his ribs. He’s lost a lot of blood, and he’s going to need to be watched constantly the next few days for signs of infection. ” Doctor Ridgeway explained.

” We can work in five hour shifts. Scott you go on up and relieve Teresa. One of us will be up to spell you around ten o’clock. ” Murdoch said.

” I have other patients I need to go see. ” Sam said.

” I can’t thank you enough  for all you have done for Johnny. ” Murdoch said. ” Both of you. ”

” Mister Lancer, when John wakes up, it’s imperative that he remain as still as possible. Both for the broken ribs,and to keep from tearing the stitches out. ” Doctor Ridgeway said.

” I’ll stop by tomorrow afternoon and check on him. Teresa knows what to do for his wounds. and changing the bandages. ”

” It’s been a pleasure meeting all of you. ” Ridgeway said.

” You are always welcome here doctor. ” Murdoch said as he shook the mans hand.

Marshal Thompson dismounted and walked up to the door of the Lancer house, and knocked.

” Marshal. ” Scott said from behind him. ” What brings you back here? ”

”I think you know why I’m here. ” he said. ” I need to speak to Johnny, you, and your father about what happened. ”

” Murdoch is upstairs with Johnny. ” Scott said as he opened the front door.

Marshal Thompson followed Scott upstairs to the second door. Walking into the room, he found Murdoch, and Teresa changing bandages. ” What happened to him? ”

” Why are you here? ” Murdoch asked.

” I received a telegram from the undertaker in Spanish Wells telling me Judge Larabee had been murdered. ”

” Murdered, why that! ”

” Marshal, four days ago that man ambushed my son when he walked out of the house. He shot him down, and would have killed him had I not stopped him. ”

” The judge was shot in the back Mister Lancer, and then left to bleed to death according to the undertaker. ” he said. ” Did he receive any medical care? ”

” He died before Sam got here. ” Scott said.

” Wasn’t there two doctors here? ”

” My son was shot four times marshal. He was bleeding to death, and required both doctors to remove the bullets. ” Murdoch said with anger.

” Mister Lancer, the undertaker says the judge’s wound was survivable had he gotten help. ”

” The undertaker is not a doctor. ” Murdoch said.

” Did you tell the doctor about him needing help? ”

” No, they were with my son for seven hours, and the judge was already dead when they got here. I told Frank to have his body taken to Spanish Wells! ”

” He was shot twice. Did Johnny shoot him, or did you put both bullets in him? ”

” My son never got a chance to defend himself marshal. He was about to shoot my son for the fifth time when I came out of the house and shot him. ”

” How long after Johnny came out of the house until you heard the first shot? ”

” Maybe thirty seconds. ” Scott said.

” Will he live? ”

” Yes. ”

” It seems the judge’s wife took their daughter and went back to Denver. I guess from what the hotel manager said, he threw her out because of what she told the lawyer. ”

” I’ll write her a letter telling her what happened. ”

” I’m staying in town a few days. Let me know when he wakes up. ” the marshal said before leaving the room, and heading downstairs.

” Johnny, stop moving. ” Teresa ordered.

” Then hurry up querida. ” he snapped back. ” I’m sick of this already. ”

” Don’t you take an attitude with me Johnny Lancer. ” Teresa said with anger. ” You have no idea what I have been thru taking care of you every day, and night. Wiping the sweat from your body, trying to keep you cool as your body fought a fever. I stood here helping Sam and Doctor Ridgeway for seven hours saving your life. You know what Johnny, do what you want. I’m done caring about you! ” Teresa said as tears ran down her cheeks.

Johnny stared at her, unable to speak, or move. Never once had he thought about how his being almost killed had affected his family. ” I’m sorry querida. ” he said softly. ” I…I’m not used to having people care about me. Whenever I was shot before I came here, it was just me to take care of me. ”

” Well it’s not just you anymore Johnny. So stop being so damn bullheaded! ” she ordered.

” Wow, you got a mouth on you little sister. ” he said as he reached up, and wiped her tears away. ” Come here. ” he said as he pulled her head down onto his chest. ” I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you, any of you. ”

” I know you wouldn’t Johnny. ” she said as she raised up, and wiped her face. ” It’s just that, you have to remember you’re not alone anymore. You have a family that loves, and cares about you. ”

” And I love, and care about them too Teresa. Who is Ridgeway ? ”

” Doctor Ridgeway, a surgeon from Boston. ” she explained. ” He helped Sam save your life. ”

” From Boston? ”

” Is everything alright in here? ” Scott asked.

” Everything’s fine. Teresa was just telling me about a doctor who helped Sam save my life. ”

” Aah Ridgeway. I can personally say he is a very good surgeon. ”

” Teresa said he’s from Boston, do you know him? ” Johnny asked.

” He was General Phil Sheridan’s personal surgeon during the war. ” Scott said.

” So you knew him in the war. Guess I owe him a thank you for helping Sam save my sorry ass. ”

” Little brother, stop putting yourself down. You didn’t cause any of this to happen. Judge Larabee’ daughter  is a sick in the head young lady, who I’m sure like a lot of young ladies have done, had fantasies about being with my charming little brother. ”

” Johnny, Marshal Thompson is here. He needs to speak to you about what happened. ”

” I was ambushed, and almost killed. What more does he need to know? ” Johnny asked sarcastically.

” He’s doing his job son. I’m afraid the undertaker is why he is here this time. ”

” What the…I have no idea what you are talking about old man. ” Johnny said as the marshal walked into his room.

” I’m sorry we have to meet again under these circumstances John, but I need to know what happened? What led up to the judge’s death. ”

Johnny closed his eyes and tried to remember what happened.

” Could you three wait downstairs while I talk to Johnny? ”

Johnny could see his father was not happy about being told to leave the room. ” Scott stays. ” he said as he tried to push himself to sit up.

” Let me help you brother. ”

Marshal Thompson watched as Johnny was helped to sit up. Sweat running down his face told him the kid was in pain. ” You need some laudanum for the pain. ” he said.

” He does, but unfortunately my little brother won’t take laudanum marshal. ” Scott said as he put a pillow under his left leg.

” Don’t like how it makes me feel in my head. ” Johnny said.

” I can understand that, but you’re not alone anymore in some town. You’re in your home, safe. ”

” Safe……..Now that’s a real hoot. I was gunned down outside my front door marshal. That sonofabitch came here in the dark, and waited for me to come outside to gun me down. ” Johnny spat. ” I went outside to saddle our horses. I barely got off the veranda porch when he called out to me, and said that since the law wouldn’t do anything about me, and what I tried to do to his daughter…..he was going to make me pay, and then he opened fire on me. ”

” So he had the rifle aimed at you when he called out to you? ”

” Yes, he had it cocked and aimed right at me. The first bullet slammed into my thigh, making me fall to the ground. I felt three more bullets tear into my flesh before Scott picked me up, and carried me inside. ” Johnny said. ” After that, I don’t know what happened. ”

” That completes the string line. ” Scott said.

” I’m surprised Murdoch wanted to do this still. ” Johnny said.

” Just been waiting on you brother. This is your suggestion, and project. ”

” So why you out here helping me then? ”

” Is it a crime for a big brother to want to work with his little brother ? ”

” When there’s other work needs doing, yeah it is Boston. ” Johnny responded. ” I’m going to be alright. ”

” I know you are. You’re a strong person. You’ve more than proved that surviving being all shot up. ”

” You’re the reason I’m still alive brother. ” he said. ” When I took hold of your hand, I seen the fear in your eyes, and heard it in your voice. There’s no way I was going to quite on you….I know there’s a bullet with my name on it out there someday, but not that day. ”

” Let’s hope never brother. ”

” You know I’ve come to a conclusion that the next time one of Murdoch’s friends come visiting with a daughter, That’s going to be a time to run. ” Johnny said with a laugh.


1 – 14 – 23.



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.


One thought on “A Time To Run by Nancy Marie

  1. Wow, this was a very intriguing story. And I must say that I enjoyed reading every single word. Great job and thanks for sharing your talent with us Lancer lovers. JML always ♥️


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