Abilene Bound by Nancy Marie

#2 in the Wanted: Dead Or Alive series

I don’t own them. I’m just taking them out for a midnight ride and some fun.

This is the continuation to Wanted: Dead or Alive
This story will have an R-rating for language and the hint of adult content.
There is a character that shows up in chapter 13 named “Anna ” that I did not create. She belongs to Di Watson. Thanks Di, you did an awesome job writing the history of Johnny and Anna’  past relationship that appears in this chapter.
I have researched the route, towns and other things that take place in this story and they were in existence and real at that time. Information pertinent to or mentioned in chapter will be at end of chapter in research notes.

Word Count: 132,020


Chapter 1

“ How far you think we’ve come?”  Scott asked as he set his plate down.

“ We’ve been gone six days. I reckon close to two hundred miles. We’ll cross into Arizona late tomorrow morning.” Jake said as he stood up. “ You getting homesick?”

“ No. I was just wondering.” Scott responded.

“ You really think you’re going to get me back to Abilene to stand trial for murdering some dumb rancher?” Buck asked.

“ Addison, if it’s the last thing I do, you will go back to Abilene and stand trial for murdering that rancher, and I will personally watch you swing from the gallows.”

“ A lot can happen between here and there Marshal, like maybe that half-breed gets himself killed.” Addison stated with a laugh. “ Poor Scott there would have to write home and tell old man Lancer his half-breed pup was dead.”

“ Addison……..I suggest you shut up now, unless you want to be gagged for the night and tied to that tree over there.” Jake said as he stood up.

“ You’re awful quiet tonight Johnny.” Scott stated.

“ You need to go back tomorrow.” Johnny said. “ Your coming along isn’t going to make me change my mind about coming back to Lancer. He doesn’t want me there, never has.”

“ I’m not going back to Lancer tomorrow Johnny. I’m staying with you.” Scott responded. “ You heard what Murdoch said before we rode out. He’s willing to sell that ranch to keep from losing you.”

“ No he won’t Scott. He cared more about that north section of land, than he did me…….I go back there, and I’ll be nothing more than a hired hand to him. He will never accept me for who I really am.”

“ You told me that day on the hill, that your old man will never accept you for who you were……Why don’t you let him see who you are now?” Jake asked. “ You got a way out Johnny, don’t throw it away. You know better than me, how hard it is for a gunfighter to get a second chance at life. Hell I’d probably be dead now if the town hadn’t offered me this badge.”

Scott looked at Jake. “ You were a gunfighter too Marshal?”

“ Yes I was.” Jake answered. “ Look, your my friend Johnny. I love you like a brother. All I’m asking is that you give this some serious thought.” Jake said as he walked over to Addison and cuffed him to the saddle for the night.

Murdoch sat in a chair, staring at the fire. “ Who’s there?” he asked.

“ It’s me.” Teresa said as she walked into the room.

“ Don’t suppose it would do me any good to tell you to go to bed?”

“ I’ll fix the fire.” she said as she walked over to the fireplace and picked up the poker and stirred the logs. “ You’re thinking about Johnny aren’t you?”

“ He’s a stranger to me. He doesn’t want to be here.” Murdoch said.

“ Yes he does. He just doesn’t know you.” Teresa said as she walked over and knelt down next to him.

“ I should have gotten a dog. They don’t talk back.” Murdoch said as he put a hand on her head. “ You miss your father?”

“ Yes…….but I have you.”

“ You surely do.”

“ They’ll come back, you’ll see. Scott and Johnny will come back.”

“ I hope so, but something tells me Johnny won’t.”

“ You’ll see. Four months from now, Johnny and Scott will come home.”

“ You two about ready to go?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny responded as he finished saddling the stallion.

Three hours later they crossed the Colorado river into Arizona, “ The mountain range we have to ride over, I figure we’ll make Prescott by dark. Get a room and bath. Addison can sleep in the jail they got there.” Jake said.

“ A hot bath sounds good to me Marshal.” Scott said.

“ Why don’t you call me Jake instead of Marshal?” Jake suggested

“ How’s that sound to you brother? Sleep in a bed and get a hot bath?” Scott asked.

“ They got women in that town?” Johnny asked.

“ I expect they have soiled doves Johnny.” Jake said with a smile. “ You getting lonesome for some female companionship?”

“ And here I thought he liked our company.” Scott added. “ You recon they got a doctor in that town to take a look at Addison’ leg?”

“ I expect they do.” Jake answered. “ Hell it’s the capital of  Arizona, what I was told when I rode through.”

“ How about a break Marshal?” Buck asked. “ My leg is starting to hurt.”

“ Your leg will keep till we get to Prescott.”

“ I got to admit, this sure is pretty country.” Scott said.

Teresa opened the front door. “ Father Micheal, what a pleasant surprise. Come in.”

“ I’m sorry to come unannounced, but I was worried. I hadn’t seen you in church and thought maybe something was wrong.” Father Micheal said as he walked into the house. “ This is quite the place.”

“ Murdoch, look who’s here.” Teresa said as she stepped down into the great room.

Murdoch was sitting at his desk going over the monthly reports when he looked up. “ Father Micheal, it’s nice to see you again.” he said as he stood up and walked over to shake the Father Micheal’ hand. “ Teresa, why don’t you go get us something cold to drink. Come sit down.”

“ Thank you. I must say, I wasn’t prepared for such an elaborate home.” Father Micheal said as he walked over and sat down on the couch.

“ Thank you. I started Lancer twenty five years ago, when I came out west.” Murdoch said as he sat down in a chair across from Father Micheal. “ So what brings you out here Father?”

“ Well I haven’t seen any of you in church since our last meeting…..So I thought I would ride out and see how everyone was doing….Are your sons out working?”

“ No, my sons left Father.” Murdoch stated, then proceeded to tell Father Micheal about Buck Addison kidnapping Johnny and the Marshal showing up to arrest Addison for murder.

“ I see. And your sons left with this Marshal?”

“ I hope you like lemonade Father. I made it fresh this morning. Maria just made the cookies.” Teresa said as she walked back into the room carrying a tray.

“ Lemonade is fine my child. Thank you.”

“ I’m afraid Addison said some things to Johnny, to make him doubt my wanting him here at Lancer Father.”

“ I see. Why would Johnny believe these things said to him? Especially from a man who hated him so?”

“ Father Micheal, I’ve been asking myself that very thing ever since my boys left here two weeks ago.”

“ Perhaps you should look inside your heart. Maybe you will find your answer there?”

“ Murdoch has a hard time accepting the gunfighter part of Johnny, Father Micheal.” Teresa stated as she handed Father Micheal a glass of lemonade.

“ But from what I gather, you have searched for Johnny since he was taken from here as a baby. What a person does to survive, doesn’t really change them. It may seem like they have, but in gods eyes, they are the same person, just hiding, or afraid to let that person you used to know show.”

“ That’s just it Father, I don’t know either one of my sons, not really. Scott grew up in Boston, he was raised proper.”

“ And Johnny grew up below the border where life was much more hard for him. He did not have what Scott had growing up.”

“ No, I know I should be grateful my son is still alive. It’s just that when I learned he was Johnny Madrid, I was shocked. The first time I seen him, he gunned a man down in the street.”

“ This man your son killed, did he not call your son out with the intention of killing him?”

“ Yes.”

“ And all these other men your son faced, did they also call him out?”

“ That’s what the Pinkerton report says.”

“ Your son was merely protecting himself Mister Lancer.”

“ I’m willing to accept that…….What is hard for me to accept Father, is my son hired his gun hand out and killed men for money.”

“ Maybe I could read this Pinkerton report so I could have a better perspective of what it is you are really feeling?”

“ Father Micheal, I don’t think a priest should be reading something like that.”

“ I assure you Mister Lancer, nothing in that report would be talked about outside these walls.”

“ That’s not what I meant Father.” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to his desk and unlocked the drawer containing the file.

“ Does your son know  you have this file on him?”

“ Yes, I showed it to him the morning he broke into the house for a second time.”

“ A second time? You mean your son entered your home while you were gone?”

“ Yes. He broke into my desk and read the files I have in there on him and Scott.” Murdoch said as he walked back over and handed the latest Pinkerton report on Johnny to Father Micheal.

Mr Lancer
A few weeks ago you requested the help of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to do a thorough background check on one Johnny Madrid. Most of what we learned about him we learned from across the border in Mexico were Madrid is from. What we have been able to learn in some parts is shocking. Madrid, they say came to be at a very young age of ten or so when he killed his first man in Sonora. Before that Madrid spent about a year  in an orphanage . During this time Madrid was picked on by the other children and Padre’s just because he was of mixed heritage. He was a Mexican with blue eyes. Numerous times he would run away from the orphanage, only to be brought back and beaten until one day they couldn’t find him and stopped looking. People say that in most of the gunfights Madrid gave the other person the chance to back out which sadly they almost always opted to not do, so they died by Madrid’ gun. One thing we learned that numerous people told, is that Madrid almost always worked below the border not for money, but for a place to sleep and food. Madrid always stayed within the law, never once breaking it and always hiring out to the less fortunate.
We did some checking on the man that Madrid killed when only ten years old. It would seem that this man was a gambler from California who beat his mother to death one night in a drunken rage in a town called Matamoros. Sadly Madrid witnessed this beating and was nearly beaten to death himself. It was after this that he was sent to the orphanage until the final time of his running away. After that Madrid disappeared  until he showed up in Sonora, where he found the gambler and gunned him down in a fair fight. Witness accounts say Madrid had been looking for this man and found him dealing cards in Sonora. They say he walked into the Cantina and up to the table were the gambler was. It would seem the gambler brushed the kid off as a joke until Madrid reminded him of what he had done a year prior in Matamoros. The gambler started to stand, went for his gun and before he could even half clear leather, Madrid’ bullet found it’s mark right between the mans eyes.
To be thorough in our report we checked out Madrid’ mothers name and learned it wasn’t Madrid. Her name it would seem was Maria Delavega Alvarez who a few years prior to her death was Maria Delavega Alvarez Lancer, making her son Johnny Madrid your missing son Johnny Lancer.
Further investigating we have learned that four months ago, Madrid rode out of Mexico and headed to California, Moro Coyo, Green River area to be precise sir.
On a side note Mr Lancer, we have learned that because of all Madrid has done to help the pen farmers stand up against the Rurales he is wanted by the Rurales dead. That they will hunt him down and kill him if he is ever found south of the border again.


                 Jack Parker
Lead investigator Pinkerton Detective Agency, Southwest Division.

Father Micheal read the report and then set it down on the table in front of the couch. “ It says your son hired his gun out to help the less fortunate and that he did this not for money.”

“ What about killing the man his mother left with?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes, I read that he gunned this man down. Have you tried to talk to your son about his mothers death?”

“ Johnny won’t talk about his past to us Father Micheal.” Teresa stated. “ I think he is ashamed to let us know. All we have is what is in those reports about his past.”

“ Maybe Johnny feels you would judge him harshly for doing what he felt was right. I mean, was it not right for him to kill the man who brutally killed his mother and almost killed him?”

“ How can you sit there and say what my son did was okay? You’re a man of the cloth.” Murdoch asked.

“ I never said it was okay to kill him. If it had been you, would you have not done the same thing?” Father Micheal asked.

Murdoch walked over to the fireplace. “ Yes.” he answered.

Father Micheal stood up and walked over to Murdoch. “ Perhaps when you can find it in your heart to see the good in your son, and forget the bad he has been through, perhaps then, you can accept him into your heart fully. It is getting late. I must be getting back to the mission. I hope to see you in church Sunday.” Father Micheal said as he turned to leave.

“ I’ll walk you out Father.” Teresa said.

Scott noticed how Johnny’ demeanor changed as they rode into Prescott early evening. How he kept his hand down by his gun. How his eyes scanned every movement. Scott watched as his brother hesitated before dismounting when they stopped in front of the sheriffs office. People stopped an watched as they rode into town, all wondering why four strangers rode into their town, one of them in handcuffs.

“ Get down Addison.” Jake ordered.

Scott and Johnny tied off their horses, removed their rifles and stepped up onto the boardwalk.

Addison got down and stepped up onto the boardwalk. “ You’ll pay for this before we get to Abilene half-breed.” Buck said as Jake opened the door and pushed Addison inside.

“ What the hell?” a tall lanky man wearing a sheriffs badge stood up. “ What can I do for you Marshal?” he asked, noticing the badge.

“ Transporting this prisoner back to Abilene for murder. I need to keep him locked up in your cell for the night so we can get some rest.”

“ Names Carson, Ben Carson, just let me see the dodger you have on him.”

Jake pulled out the papers he had on Addison and handed them to the sheriff.

“ These two your deputies?” he asked as he looked at the papers.

“ No, Scott and Johnny Lancer. They’re riding along with me to make sure Addison gets to Abilene alive to pay for what he did.”

“ Lancer huh?……You don’t look like brothers.”

“ You have a doctor in this town?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah. He’s at the end of town. Why?”

“ Addison has a bullet wound in his leg he got a couple weeks ago. Need the doc to take a look at it if he would.”

“ Okay, I’ll go get him while you lock your prisoner up.” the Sheriff said as he removed a set of keys off the wall and went to open a cell.

“ Inside Addison.” Jake ordered after taking the cuffs off the man. “ Am I going to be allowed a bath Marshal?”

“ We’ll see.” Jake said as he closed and locked the door. “ Scott, why don’t you go get us a couple rooms at the hotel across the way?”

“ Alright.” Scott said before turning to leave just as the Sheriff entered, followed by a tall skinny man about Johnny’ age carrying a medical bag.

“ I’m to understand you have a prisoner who needs looked at Marshal?”

“ Yeah, in here doc.” Jake answered as he opened the door to the cell. “ Move back Addison. You try anything at all, you won’t see the sun come up.”

Scott walked came back into the Sheriffs office. I have three rooms for us. The place is actually quite nice looking. The clerk said they will have three hot baths ready for us when we get there.”

“ How’s it look doc?” Jake asked.

“ It’s healing up okay. I see no sign of infection.” The doctor answered as he walked out of the cell. He could use a bath though, to clean the wound area up some.”

“ You have a bathhouse in this town?”

“ Not a public one. Most of the miners don’t take a bath. The only bathhouse is the one at the hotel.”  Sheriff Carson answered. “ I have a tub in the back room I let prisoner use that are a might rank and going to be with me a spell. I can bring it into his cell and he can bath in it.”

“ That will work. Much obliged Sheriff. We’re going to take our horses down to the livery while you get Addison’ bath ready for him. Don’t let him out of that cell until we get back.” Jake ordered.

“ Yes sir Marshal. Your prisoner won’t be let out.” Sheriff Carson responded. “ His bath will be ready in about thirty minutes.” he added before going to get the tub.

“ There’s a cafe down the street that serves good food Marshal. The hotel isn’t bad, but if you want a good steak, then I suggest you eat at the cafe.” the doctor said before walking out.

Johnny sat in the saloon with his back to the wall in a corner with his brother and Jake, watching every person who came and went. Mostly miners looking for a good time. None of the women really looked appealing to him for the price they were asking.

“ You see anyone you like Johnny?” Jake asked.

“ Not for the price they want. Ain’t no woman worth twenty dollars.” Johnny stated.

“ What about that nice looking lady in the cafe? I noticed she kept looking at you brother?” Scott stated.

“ Yeah, I noticed that too.” Jake added. “ She wasn’t bad looking at all.”

Johnny stood up. “ Think I’ll take a walk back to the hotel.” he said as he downed his beer.

“ Stop in and see how our prisoner is doing, would ya?” Jake asked.

“ Sure. I’ll see you two in the morning.” Johnny said as he walked out.

Johnny walked came out of the Sheriffs office and started across the street to the hotel when he heard a woman scream. Looking toward the alley at the side of the hotel, he could see two men keeping a woman from passing. Glancing around, he could see nobody else as he started across the street. Neither man noticed him walk up behind them.

“ I believe the lady would like to pass.”

The two men spun around at the sound of his voice. “ Mind your own business mister. She’s ours.” Zeke Cotter said.

Johnny could see it was the woman from the cafe, fear in her eyes as she covered her shoulders back up with her shawl.

“ I don’t think so. You have two choices and I promise you, you won’t like the one.”

“ Is there a problem here Johnny.” Jake asked as him and Scott walked up.

“ No problem. These here fellas were about to let the lady pass, weren’t you?” Johnny stated and asked.

“ Yeah, no trouble Marshal.”  Ed Cotter said.  “ Let her go Zeke.”

Zeke let go of the lady’s arm.

“ I thought you were dead?” Ed asked.

“ Guess you heard wrong.” Johnny said. “ A bit farther north for the Cotter brothers ain’t ya?”

“ What’s it to you?” Zeke asked harshly.

“ Where’s your other two brothers Jeff and Clay?”

“ Around. Let’s go Zeke.” Ed ordered.

“ Just who the hell are you?” Zeke demanded.

“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid.”

“ You’re lucky our brother Jeff isn’t here.” Ed said as he grabbed Zeke’ arm and yanked him away.

“ Thank you. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t come along mister Madrid.”

“ Where were you headed when those two stopped you ma’am?” Johnny asked.

“ To the hotel to my room. My names Sara Evans.”

“ Well miss Evans, this is my brother Scott  Lancer and the Marshal there is Jake Teague.”

“ Gentlemen, again, thank you.”

“ Let’s get you in out of the night chill.” Johnny suggested.

“ Well little brother, if you think you can stay out of trouble, I think I will turn in now. Miss Evans, it was nice meeting you.” Scott said.

“ I think I will also Johnny. I’ll see you in the morning. Ma’am.” Jake said before following Scott upstairs.

“ Would you care to have a cup of coffee with me?” Sara asked.

“ Sure.” Johnny responded as he followed her into the hotel lobby.

“ So, you just passing through saving damsels in distress Mister Madrid?”

“ Call me Johnny please?”

“ Alright, Johnny.”

“ No, we’re escorting a prisoner back to Abilene, Texas so he can stand trial for murdering a rancher in front of his family. If you don’t mind my asking, how did a lady like yourself end up in a mining town like Prescott?”

“ How horrible. This is as far as I could go with the money I had. I’ve been working at that cafe a couple weeks trying to get enough money saved up so I can continue on to my aunts in Laredo. She said she has a real nice boarding house there. She’s had it for several years now.”

“ What’s the name of this place?”

“ The Chrystal Palace. Have you heard of it?”

Johnny knew of this place. It was far from what Sara was saying her aunt described it to be. “ Yes ma’am I’ve heard of it.” Johnny answered.

“ What’s wrong?” Sara asked.

“ I don’t know how to tell you this, but the Chrystal Palace isn’t a boarding house. It’s a brothel.”

“ A brothel………..You mean my aunt runs a place for men to pay to be with women, like those in the saloon?” Sara asked.

“ Yes ma’am she does.” Johnny answered. “ I’m sorry.”

Sara leaned back in her chair. “ Well that’s it. I guess I’ll go back to San Francisco in the spring.”

“ Do you have any other family you could go to?” Johnny asked.

“ No. My step  mother died last year and my father passed away five years ago.”

Johnny could feel her pain. He could have not said anything, but when she asked, he had to tell her the truth. Laredo was no place for an innocent lady like Sara to be in. “ Listen, I can give you enough money to get back to San Francisco.”

Sara looked up at him and smiled. “ I appreciate the offer Johnny, but…….”

“ Sara, listen to me. Those two men tonight, I know them from down around the border. They’re bad news. We are riding out of here tomorrow. They will be back and they will……..”

“ Have their way with me.” Sara stated.

“ If they can they will.” Johnny said. “ Come on, I’ll walk you to your room.” Johnny said as he stood up and reached for her hand.

Sara took his hand and stood up. “ With mostly miners in this town, it’s nice to find a gentleman.” Sara said as they walked to the room.

“ Are you always this nice to women Johnny?” Sara asked as she stepped into her room.

“ Only way I know how to be to a lady.” Johnny answered.

Sara turned and looked at him. “ Even the saloon ladies?”

Johnny cleared his throat. “ Yes ma’am. Except you’re no saloon lady.”

Sara walked over to him. “ What if I wanted you to stay with me Johnny?” Sara asked as she dropped her shawl to the floor and started unbuttoning her dress.

“ I’d have to say that could be a dangerous.” Johnny said as he turned to leave, but stopped and watched as Sara got undressed in front of him.

“ You don’t look dangerous to me.” Sara said as she stepped toward him.

 Johnny walked over to her and put a hand on each side of her face. “ You don’t have to do this.”

“ I know……. I want to.”” Sara said as her mouth claimed his with passion.

Johnny woke and slipped his pants on and grabbed his shirt, boots and gun and quietly left Sara’ room and went over to his, unlocking the door just as Scott came out of his room.

“ Hey brother. You uh find someplace else to sleep last night?” Scott asked with a grin.

Johnny stepped into his room and sat down on the bed. “ You going down to breakfast?” he asked as he put his boots on.

“ As a matter of fact, I was. Care to join me?”

“ Yeah, give me some time to get dressed and I’ll be right down.” he answered as Scott stepped out of the room and closed the door.

Murdoch stood in the doorway of Johnny’ now empty bedroom. The bed neatly made up by Teresa after he left. Both his boys gone, possibly never coming back, Murdoch never felt as alone as he felt right now. Even though Teresa was there with him, it was his sons he wanted more than anything. Walking into the room he sat down in the chair at the window and looked out at the mountains. Would his boys come home again, and if they did, would he be able to accept Johnny and his past? Would he be able to build a future with both his boys?

“ There you are.” Teresa said as she walked into the room. “ One of the hands is going into town to get some things. Do you need anything?”

“ What…….no sweetheart. I’m fine.”

Teresa knew he was missing Scott and Johnny, and knew only them coming home would make things better. Turning, she walked out of the room to leave him to his thoughts.

“ Those two fellas last night, did you know them Johnny?” Jake asked as they rode southeast.

“ There’s four of ’em. Clay is the oldest, then Jeff and Ed. The one who had a hold of Sara’ arm, that’s Zeke, he’s the trouble maker of the four. They usually run down around the border, the only reason they would be up here is if there’s easy money to be made.”

“ The miners, they get robbed and killed almost every day the saloon keep said last night.” Scott stated.

“ Wanna tell me all of it?” Jake asked.

“ I put a bullet in Jeff a few years ago. He gets around, but has a bad limp cause of the damage the bullet did.”

“ One more person who’s life you ruined, you half-breed bastard.” Addison said coldly.

Johnny reached out and grabbed the reins of Addison’ horse and stopped him. “ I can ruin your life permanently Addison, if you don’t keep your mouth shut.” Johnny said before spurring his horse and galloping off ahead of them.

“ Addison, let me give you a piece of advice. You keep smarting off to my brother like you’ve been, and not me or the Marshal will be able to stop him. Don’t think for one minute he’s forgotten what happened to him.”

“ If you think for one second, I’m afraid of that sonofabitch, you’re wrong.” Buck spat back.

“ Let me tell you something Addison. I rode with Johnny, below the border. He has a dark side you don’t want to see. So if I was you, I would be afraid.” Jake said.

“ Where the hell you two been? You were supposed to be back here three days ago.” Clay Cotter asked.

“ We were in Prescott.” Ed said as he dismounted. “ You’ll never guess who we ran into in town either.”

“ Now how the hell would I know who you ran into.” Clay said.

“ Someone from your past Jeff.” Ed said.

“ Boy, I’m about two seconds from beating the crap out of you if you don’t stop with the guessing games.” Jeff said.

“ Who’s bullet you been carrin’  in your leg the last three years?” Zeke asked.

Jeff walked over to Zeke and grabbed him by his coat. “ You sure it was him?”

“ Yeah, I’m sure. We was fixin’ to have some fun with this sweet little lady and he came up behind us.” Zeke stated.

“ He was with two other guys, One of them was a Marshal.”

“ A Marshal? Now why the hell would Madrid be riding with a Marshal?”

“ We asked the Sheriff that after they left town the next day. He didn’t want to tell us, but we made him.” Zeke said.

“ Yeah. Seems Madrid and this other fella are riding with the Marshal, escorting some prisoner to Abilene, Texas for Murder.”

“ I don’t give a shit about the Marshal, prisoner or that other fella riding with him. Madrid is mine. We leave out in the morning.”

“ We don’t know what way they’re riding Jeff.” Clay stated.

“ Southeast, if they’re going to Abilene. I’ve carried a bullet in my leg for three years from Madrid.” Jeff said with anger. “ I’m going to love putting a bullet in that bastards head.”

Chapter 1 Research Notes


Chapter 2

“ Looks like a storms brewing up.” Jake said.

“ Yeah, it feels like it’s getting colder.” Scott added. “ Let’s find a place to make camp and wait it out.”

“ We stop, and we could get caught in a snow storm.” Johnny stated. “ We need to keep moving and find a town to wait it out in.” he added.

“ There’s a town called Show Low about five miles.” Jake stated.

“ Sounds good.” Scott said as small snowflakes started to fall.

By the time they reached Show Low, darkness descended and the wind was howling.

“ You think they have a jail in this town were we can lock him up?” Johnny asked.

“ Don’t know, but if there isn’t, we’ll either find a place we can lock him up in, or he can stay in a hotel room with one of us.”

“ That’s if they have a hotel.” Scott said as they road up to the livery and dismounted.

“ You got room for four more old timer?” Jake asked.

“ Sure do Marshal. Take your pick. It’ll cost ya four bits each, six if you want them to have grain.”

“ That’s fine. They could use some grain. You have a jail in this town?” Jake asked.

“ Wouldn’t really call it a jail, but it works for keeping troublemakers like drunks locked up in till they sober up.”

“ I’ll take a look at it. Where’s it at?”

“ It’s in the back of the saloon. It’s just a small room with a cot and stove, no window and the door is good and solid. Has a lock that’s good. Barkeep is who you need to talk to about it Marshal.”

“ Johnny, that damn stallion of yours.” Scott said.

“ You know he bites. Stay away from his head.” Johnny said as he led the Modoc stallion into a stall on the end and unsaddled him.

Jake couldn’t help but laugh. “ I remember when you got that damn horse. I’m surprised he hasn’t took your head off yet Johnny.”

“ We have a partnership, me and him. I treat him good, and he treats me good.”

“ Jeff, Clay, we need to stop. This snow is coming down harder. We can barely see where we’re going.” Ed said.

“ We stop when I say we stop.” Jeff responded.

“ I know you want to catch up to Madrid, but we don’t need a horse stepping in a hole or walking off a cliff.” Clay stated.

“ Fine. We’ll head to those trees over there and wait it out.” Jeff said as he turned his horse.

“ Madrid probably had to hole up somewhere too brother.” Clay said as they rode back into the trees until the snow, and  wind eased up a little. “ There’s plenty of dry branches and needles from the tree’s, Zeke, you get a fire started. Me and Clay will get a shelter built and get the horses tethered. Ed, take that small ax you carry and cut some small trees and branches so we can make a lean-to.” Jeff ordered.

“ I don’t care how long it takes me. I’m going to find that sonofabitch and kill him.” Jeff spat.

“ You have a pretty powerful hate for that man brother.” Clay said.

“ It’s not you with a bullet in your leg from him.”

“ No, it’s not. I’m not the one who was drunk and thought they could take him either. Hell….you’re lucky he just shot you in the leg and didn’t kill you.” Clay snapped back. “ Ask me, you got off lucky.”

“ Nobody asked you. In fact, you can ride out any time you want and go back to Mexico……All of you can.”

“ I never said that. Hell Madrid’ the best. It’s gonna take the four of us to kill him.”

“ I heard Madrid gunned down two of the best in Nogales once.” Ed said as he dragged some pine branches over. “ Said they never got to clear leather before Madrid dropped them dead.”

Jake, Johnny, Scott and Addison walked into the saloon. A handful of people were in there standing at the bar drinking a beer. A couple of men were playing a game of poker over in the corner.

“ What can I get you fellas?” the bartender asked.

“ Four beers.” Jake answered. “ Man at the livery said you have a place I could possibly lock my prisoner up in till this storm passes?” he asked.

“ Yeah, I got a room Marshal. It’s out back. I’ll show you.”

“ I’ll be right back. Addison, I suggest you not try anything.” Jake said as he followed the bartender.

“ Just were do you think I could go in this weather Marshal?” Buck asked sarcastically.

Johnny noticed a man sitting at a table alone watched them intently from the moment they walked into the saloon. When the man got up and walked over to the bar, Johnny moved closer to his brother.

“ How come he’s in shackles?” the man asked.

“ For not minding his own business.” Johnny said sarcastically.

“ Boy, you got a smart mouth on you.”

“ Thee a problem here?” Jake asked as he walked up.

“ No problem Marshal. I just asked smart mouth here why that mans in shackles is all.”

“ He’s my prisoner going back to Texas to hang for murdering a rancher in front of his family.” Jake said.

“ Murder huh…..You killed a man in front of his family. Mister, I hope your neck don’t break right away when they hang you…..Have a good day Marshal.”

“ What about that room?” Scott asked as he gave his brother a look of disapproval for his attitude.

“ No good. Guess he’ll have to stay in a room with us.” Jake said as he downed his beer. “ Bartender said the hotel has rooms with two beds. Let’s go Addison.”

Johnny and Scott finished their beers and followed Jake out.

“ Murdoch, I was wondering, since the boys won’t be here for the holidays, if you wanted to still wanted to celebrate?” Teresa asked.

“ I’ll leave that up to you sweetheart. As much as I would love the boys to be here, it’s not right to not have one. When Christmas gets close, I can have Cipriano or one of the hands go cut a tree.”

“ How about instead of Cipriano doing it, me and you go find one? We haven’t done that for a log time.”

“ Alright. We’ll go up to the north section and find a nice tree for you.”

“ For us.” Teresa stated.

“ For us.” Murdoch repeated.

“ Were do you thin they are now?”

“  They should be in Arizona or New Mexico by now.” Murdoch answered.

“ Supper is almost ready. I made a stew and biscuits.”

“ That sounds just fine sweetheart. How about when we go get the tree, we cut some branches and make a nice wreath to put on your fathers grave?”

“ I’d like that.” Teresa said before heading back into the kitchen.

“ Three days we’ve been stuck here. Is this snow ever gonna stop?” Johnny asked.

“ Back in Boston a winter storm could last a week. By the time it stopped, it would be four feet deep.”

Scott said.

“ How the hell did you get around with snow that deep?” Johnny asked.

“ Ski’s.” Scott responded.

“ What the hell are ski’s?”

“ They’re a flat long thin piece of wood you strap to your feet and with the aid of one or two long poles, you can glide right across the snow.”

“ Yeah…….okay…..You…you hear that Jake…..put some sticks on the bottom of your feet, and you can glide right across the snow.” Johnny said laughing.

“ As much as I hate to say this, but your brother is right Madrid. That’s how we got around when working on the train tracks up in the mountains in the winter. We also had what they call snow shoes. It’s a piece of wood bent in a circle with leather strapping weaved from side to side. You tie them to your feet and it helps keep you from sinking into the snow when walking.” Buck added.

“ I’m gonna have to send a wire at the next town we come to and let them know I was delayed because of the snow.” Jake stated as he stood up and walked over to Addison. “ Time to tuck you in, let’s go.” Jake said as he opened the door. “ Maybe this snow will stop by morning and we can get out of here.”

“ Johnny, can I ask you something?” Scott asked as he went over to his bed and sat down.

“ What’s on your mind brother?” Johnny asked.

“ Do you miss them?”

“ If you mean the old man, no. Teresa yeah, but I can’t miss someone who isn’t willing to accept me for who I am Scott.”

“ So you still feel that way?”

Johnny stood up and undid his gun belt and laid it on the table next to his bed. “ Al my life I hated him because of what my mother told me. I come back to Lancer to kill him and he says what she told me was all a lie. After the way he’s treated me, why should I go back there?”

“ You read the reports. That’s all he had on you. Maybe you should stop being so bullheaded and start giving him the benefit of the doubt. He hasn’t had either one of us around him very long. It’s just been him in that big house all alone.” Scott stated firmly.

“ He hasn’t been all alone. He’s had Teresa and his precious ranch.”

“ He became Teresa’ ward after her father was killed. It’s his sons he wants more than anything. He built Lancer for us.”

“ All I ever was to him was a hired hand and nothing more Scott. You…..hell you never did anything wrong in his eyes. He would talk to you and he sure as hell didn’t yell at you if a job didn’t get finished.” Johnny stated. “ I never was good at taking orders, okay. I do what I’m told, but for him to treat me like he did at times, that I won’t stand for. I’ve had enough abuse in my life.”

“ I still think you could meet him halfway Johnny.”

“ Okay Scott, you want me to give him the benefit of the doubt you say. Why the fuck don’t he do the same for me huh? You want to know why? I’ll tell you why. Because he can’t and won’t ever accept a part of me is Johnny Madrid. He still thinks I’m that two year old baby and my past never happened.”

“ I think you’re wrong brother.”

“ Hell, Teresa and you were the only ones who ever treated me right. I couldn’t please him no matter what I did.”

“ So you’re willing to throw away the best thing to ever happen to you, and all because you won’t drop your pride and meet our father halfway.”

“ You didn’t have to come along. I don’t need a babysitter. I’ve been taking care of myself damn near all my life.”

“ True. Maybe it’s time you let someone else start caring about you.”

Murdoch sat at his desk with the Pinkerton reports. Having read and reread all the reports several times, he now understood were he had been so wrong with his youngest. Until Father Micheal had said, he never realized the mistake he had made. Was it a mistake? Or did he just not want to see past the fact his son was a gunfighter? How could a father, who had so desperately searched for so long, be so blind as to just how good a man his son had grown up to be? Rereading that his son had witnessed the brutal killing of his own mother, mad Murdoch angry, not so much how she died, as why she died. Answers he desperately needed, he would now never get. He would never know really what Maria was like. Picking up her picture, Murdoch could see her smile and remembered how it would light up a room when she walked in. Her beauty was like no other.

 Scott’ mother, Catherine’s beauty had also lite up a room when she entered. Not a year off the boat from Inverness when he had first seen her. Her family thought he was daft to marry her and bring her all the way from Boston to California. Having lost her during the birth of Scott, broke his heart so bad. By the time he got to her, she was gone and Harlan Garrett had taken his first born son back to Boston where he would never see him a gain, except for a brief moment on his fifth birthday, until the day he came home. Both his boys had blue eyes. Scott’ a soft almost Grey blue in color with sandy brown hair and Johnny’ as blue as the sky with dark hair just like his mothers. Sadly, Murdoch knew it was those traits that got his youngest son abused for so many years. People just refused to see or accept an innocent child who’s parents were Mexican, American.

“ Senor Lancer.” Cipriano said as he entered the room through the veranda door.

“ Yes Cipriano.” Murdoch answered as he set the picture down.

“ I’m sorry to bother you Patron, but we found two dead cows this morning at south mesa.” Cipriano said.

“ Dead from what?” Murdoch asked.

“ It’ looks like a cat senor. A big one too.”

“ Alright, start moving the cattle from south mesa up to the north section until we can find and kill that cat. Have the men stay alert and be careful. I don’t want anyone getting attacked by that cat.”

“ Very well senor…….May I ask, have you heard from Juanito or senor Scott?”

“ No, nothing yet.”

“ My nephew, he is a little headstrong like his papa I am afraid. He will come back home. He just needs to realize the good he has been offered, and if he wants to give it up.” Cipriano stated before leaving.

“ Snow for four days and now rain.” Scott said as they rode south three days after leaving Show Low.

“ I’m just glad to be out of that town finally.” Jake added.

Johnny’ stallion started getting restless, throwing his head, snorting and sidestepping.

“ Something wrong?” Jake asked.

 Johnny got the stallion stopped and rubbed his neck.“ Maybe. He’s smelling something he don’t like.” Johnny said as his eyes scanned the terrain.

“ You think maybe Apache?” Jake asked.

“ Apache or Comancheros.” Johnny stated.

“ Apache, isn’t that Indians?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, they could be just watching to see what we do” Jake suggested.

“ What or should I ask, are these Comancheros?” Scott asked.

“ Mex Indian mix mostly. They trade with the Apache anything they can to make money. Usually it’s whiskey, slaves or guns.”

“ Half-breeds like you Madrid.” Buck said.

“Mister Addison, I suggest you shut your mouth now.” Scott suggested. “ I won’t have you calling my brother a half-breed again.”

“ The way that stallion is acting, maybe it’s a cat?” Jake suggested.

“ I don’t think so. I’m gonna take a look at our back trail.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t much like the idea of you riding off alone brother. What if we are being followed and they catch you?”

“ Won’t happen as long as I’m riding him. If I haven’t caught up to you by dark, go on without me.” Johnny said before riding off.

The Cotter brothers left Show Low headed southeast. After some persuasion, the bartender told them what they wanted to know.

“ You think they’ll stop in Silver City?” Clay asked.

“ That’s were the bartender said they were headed. Said the Marshal had asked about the nearest telegraph.” Jeff responded.

“ We gonna have some fun with Madrid, before you kill him?” Zeke asked.

“ You can have your fun with them others, Madrid is all mine.’ Jeff answered.

“ You know we’re riding into Apache country?” Ed stated.

“ Yeah. I’m not going to let Indians stop me from killing Madrid.”

“ You’re going to get us all killed with this hate you have for that half-breed brother.” Clay stated.

Jeff stopped his horse. “ You’re free to ride out any time you want. I don’t need any of you to kill him.”

Johnny stopped in a wash and put a hand on the stallions neck to keep him quiet. He could hear talking not far from him. He could make out two voices speaking Spanish.

“ Los ringos de caballos y pistolas nos traerán mucho denero.” ( The gringos horses and guns will bring us much money.)

“ Comancheros. Damn.” Johnny said softly. “Well Modoc, it’s up to me and you buddy.” Johnny said as he let the two men ride right past him before bringing the stallion up out of the wash as he pulled his rifle.

“ ¿Me estás buscando?” ( You looking for me?) Johnny asked as he cocked the rifle.

Both men turned their horses around. “ Johnny Madrid, no tenemos ninguna pelea contigo mestiza.” ( Johnny Madrid, we have no quarrel with you mestizo.)

“ Bueno, ya ves, simplemente no te creo. Escucho lo que dijiste, y esos hombres están montando conmigo.” ( Well, you see, I just don’t believe you. I heard what you said, and those men happen to be riding with me.)

“ Esta vez me paseo con un marisal.” ( This time I ride with a Marshal.) Johnny said as he aimed his rifle at them. “ Puedes dar la vuelta y regresar a dondequiera que saliste, o puedes morir aquí mismo. No me hace ninguna diferencia.” ( You can turn around and go back to wherever you crawled out of, or you can die right here. Makes no difference to me.)

“ Bastardo.” one of the Comancheros yelled as they both went for their gun.

Johnny fired the rifle so fast, it almost sounded as one shot, knocking both men off their horses dead before they hit the ground. Dismounting, Johnny walked over to make sure they were dead before stripping the gear off their horses and setting them free.

 “ He’s alright Scott.” Jake said as they rode along at a steady pace. “ You think pretty high about that brother of yours. How come you don’t feel the same way about him like your old man does?”

“ I do think highly of my brother Marshal. During the war, I learned not to judge someone, because it could very well be you someday in their shoes.”

“ I don’t think so. You are definitely not gunfighter material.” Jake said with a smile.

“ One thing my little brother taught me is to never underestimate the little guy Marshal.” Scott responded back.

“ Okay. Let me ask you this. How did you feel the first time you seen him face down another man that called him out?” Jake asked.

Scott stopped his horse and got down to check his cinch. “ I won’t lie to you Jake, I was shocked. It was in Moro Coyo and I watching how cool, calm and collective he was as he faced this kid, knowing he could be the one dying shocked me. He just stood there and tried to talk the kid out of it, but it did no good. I don’t know how he knew, but he knew that kid was going to draw and………..he was so fast, I didn’t even realize Johnny had drawn his gun and fired until the kid fell to the ground dead.” Scott said.

“ Your brother is nothing but a killer, and always will be.” Buck said.

“ And what are you  Addison?” Scott asked. “ It would seem to me you are the one who is a killer. It’s not my brother being taken all the way back to Abilene, Texas for killing a man in cold blood. Every man my brother has faced, and had to kill, he did in self defense. You killed that rancher because you wanted his land.”  Scott said before mounting back up. “ Johnny has never crossed the line.” he added.

“ I’m curious Addison. What made you cross that line?” Jake asked.

“ What else…….money.” Buck answered. “ I was hired to survey for the railroad and told to acquire the land by any means necessary.”

“ So…..the life of a hard working small rancher meant nothing to you?” Scott asked.

“ Not one damn thing.” Buck responded. “ I offered him a dollar and acre, but he wouldn’t sell.”

“ A dollar an acre. That land he had was worth three times that, and everybody around Abilene knew it.” Jake stated. “ You had your men burn barns, destroy hay fields and threaten several good hard working decent ranchers just to get their land for the railroad.”

“ It’s called eminent domain Marshal. I suggest you learn the law.” Buck retorted.

“  Let’s see now, eminent domain……why Addison, I do believe the eminent domain process begins with a public project.” Jake stated. “ If it is determined that all or a portion of certain property may be necessary for a public project, the agency will begin the appraisal process to determine the property’s fair market value.” Jake responded. “ Am I right so far Addison?”

“ I did that when I offered him a dollar an acre Marshal.” Buck responded.

“ I guess he didn’t hear you say fair market value of the property Jake.” Scott added.

“ I guess not. You have to give the property owner notice of the decision to appraise his land. Something you didn’t bother to legally do.”

“ If it is determined that the property is needed before your so called fair market value appraisal is complete Marshal, the agency can apply to the court for an order of prejudgment possession to allow it to take possession and control of the property prior to resolution of the property’s fair market value.” Addison stated.

“ Again, you did nothing of the sort. You have to go before the court in Abilene and get that order, and you didn’t. If you had done things by the book, you wouldn’t be headed back to Abilene to stand trial for murder.” Jake stated.

“ How many small ranchers did your father force out Lancer?”

“ Mister Addison, I assure you, my father bought Lancer legally and has never forced anyone off their land to acquire it.”

“ A hundred thousand acres is a lot of land, course it would be nothing but Mexicans and half-breeds around when he got it.”

Scott swung his horse around to face Buck. Glancing at Jake, who knew what was coming, Scott swung hard, hitting Addison in the mouth, knocking him off his horse.

“ Nice brother.” Johnny said as he rode up to them.

“ Thanks brother.”

“ Buck, get back on your horse.” Jake ordered. “ How many are following us?”

“ There were two.” Johnny answered.

“ Were Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Comancheros, they were going to take the horses and guns to trade to the Apache.”

“ We’ll check with the army at Fort Cummings and see if there’s been any Apache trouble.” Jake said.

“ Sounds good. Supplies is getting low.” Scott stated.

“ Something’s dead.” Clay said as he pointed to vultures circling ahead.

“ Could be just a cow.” Ed suggested.

“ That ain’t now cow.” Jeff said as they rod up on the two dead Comancheros.

“ Wow, side by side. Somebody either got real lucky, or there was more than one of them to kill those two that close together.” Zeke suggested.

“ Two horses ran off that way after the gear was taken off them and one rider went southeast.” Clay stated as he looked at the ground.

“ Ed, Zeke, check those saddles and see if there’s anything we can use.” Jeff ordered.

“ You think they were killed by Madrid?” Clay asked.

“ Maybe, won’t make no difference though.” Jeff responded. “ Hurry up you two.” he ordered Ed and Zeke.

“ Ain’t nothing on this one we can use brother.” Zeke said.

“ This one’s got a real nice skinning knife and a money pouch.” Ed said.

“ Hand it here.” Jeff ordered.

Ed handed the pouch to his brother before going to his horse and mounting up. “ If Madrid killed these two…….”

“ If Madrid killed these two will make no difference.” Jeff stated firmly.

Hey, I ain’t in no all fired hurry to get shot down by that half-breed.” Ed said.

“ Then leave. I told you before, I don’t need any of you to kill him.” Jeff responded with anger. “ Ride out now, or keep your mouth shut.” he ordered.

Ed looked at Clay and Zeke. “ I ain’t doing it. I’m going back down below the border. You coming with me Zeke?”

“ Yeah. I’m sorry Jeff, but even though Madrid stopped my fun in Show Low, He did nothing to me that warrants me being killed by him.”

“ What about you?” Jeff asked Clay. “ You gonna tuck tail and run too?”

“ If tucking tail and running means staying alive, then yeah, I am. Madrid * will * kill you brother.” Clay said.

“ Go to hell all of you.” Jeff said before kicking his horse and galloping off.

 Silver City was pretty much like Prescott, except somewhat quieter. Riding into town all three noticed how they were being stared at by those walking on the boardwalk that stopped to stare.

“ Excuse me. You have any law in this town?”  he asked a man in front of the general store.

“ About halfway down on the left Marshal.” the man stated.

“ Much obliged.” Jake said as they headed on down the street and stopped in front of a building that had a sign on the front that read Silver City Sheriff Harvey Whitehill.

“ First time I ever seen a sign with a sheriff’s name on it.” Johnny stated.

“ Get down Addison.” Jake ordered.

Buck got down and walked inside with Jake as Scott and Johnny stayed outside with their horses.

“ Sheriff, I’m Marshal Jake Teague out of Abilene. I was wondering if I could lock my prisoner up in your cell for the night, so I could get a nights sleep?”

“ Marshal. You just ride into town with those other two outside?” the sheriff asked as he stood up.

“ Yes I did. They’re riding with me to Abilene.” Jake responded.

Sheriff Whitehill looked out his window and frowned at what he seen. “ I don’t want no trouble in my town Marshal.”

“ Look sheriff, we don’t want no trouble either. All we want is a bath hot meal and a good nights rest.” Jake stated.

“ You cause any trouble in my town and Marshal’ badge or not, I’ll lock all of you up.” Sheriff Whitehill said as he opened the top desk drawer, took out the keys, and tossed them to Jake.

“ How longs this town been here?” Jake asked as he took Addison back to a cell and removed his handcuffs and locked him up.

“ About two years now. Some idiot found silver ore at Chloride Flat’s and everybody came running. Mostly from Prescott.”

“ Well , at least this town has the law. Prescott doesn’t and the miners there are being robbed and murdered every day just about.” Jake stated as he walked back out into the front of the jail and handed the keys to the sheriff.

“ What’d your prisoner do?” Whitehill asked.

“ Murdered a rancher in Abilene a few years ago. I got lucky and caught him in California.” Jake stated.

“ There’s a livery at each end of town.  Three bath houses, but I recommend using the one at the hotel, safer. Several good eatin places in town, just depends on what you want to eat.”

“ You have a telegraph office?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah, just down the street.” Sheriff Whitehill said. “ I can have the cafe fix up a meal for your prisoner.” Sheriff Whitehill suggested.

“Thanks, that would be fine.”

“ We had some trouble with Comancheros about fifteen miles out.”

“ Vasquez’ men. They’ve been robbing miners and anyone they think has money.” Sheriff Whitehill stated.

“ Why don’t you arrest them?” Jake asked.

“ Because they don’t come in my town and when they do do it, they’re usually long gone I’m just one man.”

“ Why don’t you hire a couple deputies to help you out?” Jake asked as he walked over to the door and opened it.

“ Because the people of this town don’t think I need one, and usually I don’t. Every once in a while I’ll have a troublemaker come into town, but I set ’em straight and they either end up in my jail, or run out of town.”

“ Well I appreciate the info Sheriff.” Jake said before walking outside and closing the door.

“ Why don’t you go see if there’s a couple rooms available while I go send a wire?” Jake suggested.

“ Sheriff say anything?” Johnny asked.

“ Those two you killed were members of Vasquez’ gang. Seems they’ve been robbing miners and anyone they think has money.” Jake said.

“ I’ve heard of him. I didn’t think he came this far north of the border though.” Johnny stated.

“ Kinda like you huh?” Jake asked with a smile.

“ Yeah, I guess so.”

“ I think I’ll send a wire to Murdoch to let him and Teresa know we’re okay.” Scott said.

“ Why? He don’t give a shit about me.” Johnny said harshly.

Scott just looked at him hard before walking away with Jake.

“ I don’t think you’re going to have very much luck getting Johnny to go back to Lancer with you.” Jake said as they walked to the telegraph office.

“ Regardless of if he goes back or not, I’m not leaving him.” Scott said.

“ Even if he goes back to Mexico and being Johnny Madrid?” Jake asked.

“ Especially if he does that Jake.” Scott stated firmly.

Chapter 2 Research Notes


Chapter 3

“ I shouldn’t  be too long at the bank. I’ll come back here and pick you up and we can have lunch at the cafe before riding home.” Murdoch stated as he dismounted.

“ Alright. I just need a couple yards of cloth. I’ll go visit with Father Micheal about the fall festival.” Teresa stated as she got down and tied her horse.

“ I’ll meet you at the church then.” Murdoch said before walking away.

“ Ah, miss Teresa, to what do I owe this visit?” Baldanero asked as he walked up to Teresa.

“ Mr Baldanero, I need three yards of white and some thread.” Teresa told him.

“ Bueno, I have just what you need. So how is Murdoch doing? I have not seen him in a very long time.”

“ He’s okay. He misses the boys.”

“ Ah, have you heard anything from senor Scott or Johnny?”

“ No, nothing yet. They’ve been gone over a month now and I think it’s hurting Murdoch because he hasn’t.”

“ It is a shame they will not be here for Christmas.”

“ Yes. It would have been the first Christmas together.” Teresa said as she looked at the fabric.

“ This just came in yesterday. It is all the way from Europe.” Baldanero said as he picked up a bundle of fabric and showed her.

“ Oh, it’s beautiful. I love the blue color. Is it silk?”

“ Yes it is. It is very expensive I’m afraid.”

“ How much is it?” Teresa asked.

“  It is six bits a yard I’m afraid.” Baldanero responded.

“ It is. It would make a lovely dress for Christmas. I would have to ask Murdoch about getting some though.” Teresa said as she felt the cool smoothness of the beautiful fabric. “ I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blue like this. What shade of blue do they call it?”

“ I believe it is called Indigo blue.” Baldanero said.

“ It is very lovely, but I better just get the white and thread.”

“ Very well. I am sure it will still be here if you wish to make a Christmas dress out of it.”

“ Why Murdoch Lancer, it’s good to see you.” Jim Pearson, the bank manager said. “ What can I do for you today?”

“ Jim, I need to talk to you in private.”

“ Sure, come on back in my office.” Jim said as he opened his office door. “ Is one of your sons on a business trip?”

“ A business trip?” Murdoch asked as he sat down in a chair.

“ A withdraw was made in Prescott, Arizona a week ago.” 

“ Why yes. Scott and Johnny both are on their way to Texas.” Murdoch responded.

“ Texas…..You figuring on buying some cattle from Texas?”

“ No. They’re with the Marshal, escorting Buck Addison back to Abilene to stand trial for murder.”

“ Oh…I see. Well, what can I do for you today?” Jim asked.

“ I was wondering if the boys had taken any money out of the Lancer account was all. I haven’t heard from them since they left and was wondering if they were alright.” Murdoch stated.

“ Well as of a week ago, Scott was. He’s the one who withdrew the money.”

“ Alright. I appreciate you telling me.” Murdoch said as he stood up.

“ I imagine telegraph stations are few and far between in Arizona and New Mexico, what with the Apache trouble they’re having.”

“ Apache trouble?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes. An Apache named Victorio. Between him and the Comancheros, the army is being kept busy trying to keep settlers coming west safe.”

“ Thank you Jim. I’ll see you.” Murdoch said as he walked out worried now more than ever for his sons safety.

“ Why miss Teresa, what a lovely surprise.” Father Micheal said.

“ Father Micheal, I was wondering if you had made plans yet for the Christmas festival?” Teresa asked.

“ Why no, I am afraid the funds will not allow for much of one this year.” Father Micheal said.

“ Maybe Lancer could help. The Christmas festival is a tradition in Moro Coyo.”

“ Yes, many people have asked, but I am afraid times are hard right now for a lot of people in the valley. I am grateful for every donation the church receives, but I’m afraid it just won’t be enough.”

“ Well it’s still over a month away. Maybe it can still happen.” Teresa said.

“ Thinking positive is a good thing my child. Have you heard from Johnny or Scott?” Father Micheal asked.

“ No. Murdoch is worried. It’s been over a month and he hasn’t heard anything from them that I know of.”

“ I truly hope he can find it in his heart to forgive his son’s past and see all the good inside of him.”

“ So do I Father Micheal.” Teresa said. “ Sometimes I will find him just sitting and staring at nothing. He doesn’t even hear me walk into the room, he’s so lost in thought.”

“ Something else is troubling you. Would you care to talk about it with me?” Father Micheal asked.

“ I heard some of the vaquero’s talking the other day about a bandit called Victorio, and that the boys could cross paths with him and his men.”

“ I have heard of this man they call Victorio. He is a bandit Indian who has done much bad around Sonora and Chihuahua, but your brothers, they will not be in Mexico.”

“ If anything happens to Johnny or Scott, I don’t think Murdoch could handle it if he lost them.”

“ You should not worry yourself about such things. I am sure Johnny and Scott are fine and they will not cross paths with this bandit Victorio.”

Murdoch walked into the church. “ Is everything alright Teresa?” he asked.

“ Yes. I was just talking with Father Micheal about Scott and Johnny and the Christmas festival.”

“ Is there anything Lancer can do to help with the festival this year Father?” Murdoch asked.

“ He says it may not happen. That hard times in the valley, people haven’t been able to donate to it. Without the festival, the orphanage children won’t have a Christmas.”

“ I think Lancer can cover the cost of the festival this year Father. It’s important to me and Teresa those children have this happen.”

“ Very well. That is most generous of you Mister Lancer. Thank you. Since I am new to this, why don’t you write up a list of what we need to do and bring it in Sunday? We can discuss it then.”

“ Would you care to join us for lunch at the cafe Father?” Murdoch asked.

“ That sounds wonderful, but I’m afraid I have to much to do here.” father Micheal said.

“ Alright, we’ll see you Sunday.”

“ The boys are alright.” Murdoch said as they ate their lunch.

“ They are? Did you get a wire from them?” Teresa asked.

“ Jim at the bank said Scott withdrew some money in Prescott last week.”

“ Prescott. Is that close to Texas?”

“ No sweetheart. Prescott is in Arizona. If they’re in those mountains, they could have been delayed by weather, because they should be in New Mexico by now.” Murdoch stated.

“ Well at least we know they are alright.” Teresa said with a smile.

“ Thank you for telling Father Micheal we would take care of the Christmas festival for the orphanage.”

“ Those children don’t have much. I think it’s the least we can do for them.” Murdoch stated. “ Did you get your fabric you needed?”

“ Yes. Oh mister Baldanero showed me a new fabric he got. It’s all the way from Europe. It’s called Indigo blue. It’s so beautiful. I’ve never seen that color blue before.”

“ And you didn’t get any of it?” he asked.

“ No, I’m afraid it is very expensive.”

“ How expensive?”

“ Six bits a yard.” Teresa answered.

“ How much would you need to make a new dress for the festival?”

“ Six yards, but it’s to expensive Murdoch. I couldn’t ask you to spend that much money on fabric.”

“ Consider it an early birthday gift.” Murdoch stated.

“ Thank you.” Teresa  said with a smile.

Sheriff Whitehill walked into the hotel and found Jake, Scott and Johnny just finishing their breakfast.

“ Morning Sheriff. I was just about to come get my prisoner.” Jake said.

“ I told you I run a peaceful town Marshal, and won’t tolerate trouble makers in my town.”

“ We haven’t caused any trouble Sheriff.” Jake stated.

“ There’s a man rode into town about an hour ago asking around Johnny Madrid. Said he knows he’s here. That he rode into town with a Marshal and two other men.” Sheriff Whitehill said. “ I knew I’d seen you before. You’re not welcome in my town. I want you out of here now.” Whitehill ordered.

“ Just who is the man asking for Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Jeff Cotter. His kind and yours are not welcome here.”

Johnny stood up. “ My kind huh…….Just what kind is that Sheriff?” Johnny asked.

“ That kind.” Whitehill responded as he pointed to Johnny’ gun.

“ Sheriff, that man out there holds a grudge against Johnny for a bullet he got three years ago in his leg when he was drunk and tried to kill Johnny. Don’t you think it’s him you should be running out of town?” Scott asked.

“ He’ll leave if you leave. I don’t care if you kill each other, but you’re not doing it in my town. These are good decent folks living here. We don’t want no gun play. Get your prisoner out of my jail and get the hell out of my town……..NOW.” Sheriff Whitehill ordered.

“ My authority allows me to make you lock that man up Sheriff. I’m not a town Marshal. I’m a Federal U.S. Marshal. All I have to do is send a wire from the next town and you will find yourself out of a job.”

“ Don’t think you can scare me with your threats Marshal. The people of this town elected me as their Sheriff, to keep this town safe and free from troublemakers like him and that one outside looking for him.”

“ Johnny Madrid………come on out. I know you’re in this town somewhere.” Jeff yelled from outside the hotel. “ I know you’re in there. Come on out you bastard.”

Johnny stood up and started toward the door.

“ Johnny wait.” Scott said. “ You can’t face all four of the Cotter brothers alone.”

“ It’s just the one I seen.” the Sheriff stated.

“ Let me and Jake go out so you have backup in case they try to ambush you?” Scott suggested. “ Jake could go across the street with the Sheriff and I can stay on this side watching for them.”

“ If they didn’t ride in with him, then he’s alone Scott. Jake, keep him in here.” Johnny said before walking toward the door.

“ Come on out here and face me.” Jeff ordered.

Johnny stepped out onto the boardwalk. “ I got no beef with you.”

“ The hell you don’t. You put a bullet in my leg three years ago. It’s payback time Madrid.”

“ You were drunk and I could have killed you, but didn’t. You sure you want to die today, right here in front of all these good people and the law?” Johnny asked as he stepped down into the street.

People on both sides of the street scrambled to get safely away from the gunfight. Some went just inside a business and peered out the windows or door, watching and waiting to see who would die. Jake, Scott and Sheriff Whitehill stepped out onto the boardwalk.

“ My beef is with him, not you.” Jeff said, pointing to the Marshal and Scott.

“ Where’s your brothers?” Johnny asked.

“ It’s just me. I don’t need those cowards to kill you.” Jeff responded. “ It was you who killed those two Comancheros wasn’t it?”

“ They got the same fare chance I’m gonna give you. Turn around and ride out. We don’t have to do this.” Johnny said as he slowly walked to the middle of the street and stopped, turning to face Jeff.

“ Sheriff, aren’t you going to stop this?” someone yelled from across the street.

“ Sheriff, you try and stop this now and you’ll get my brother killed.” Scott said.

“ Your brother. Madrid don’t have no brother.” Sheriff Whitehill said.

“ Yes he does Sheriff.” Jake stated.

“ You know I’m not going to be generous this time and not kill you?” Johnny said coldly.

“ Shut up and draw you bastard.” Jeff ordered as he went for his gun.

Johnny seen what he was watching for and drew his gun and fired before Jeff could even clear leather.

Scott and Jake scanned the rooftops just in case the other three Cotter brothers were in town also. When Scott seen his brother fire and shoot, he couldn’t believe how cool and calm he remained every time.

Johnny stood there a few seconds after Jeff fell to the ground dead from a bullet to his heart. Holstering his colt, Johnny walked over to the Sheriff.

“ I doubt his brothers will come get his body. How much to bury him?” Johnny asked.

“ Three dollars will cover it.” Sheriff Whitehill said. “ You’re as deadly as they say you are. I don’t ever want to see you in my town or jurisdiction again Madrid.”

“ Don’t worry Sheriff, I’d rather drink turpentine and piss on a brush fire, than ride into your town again.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ I’ll be taking my prisoner now Sheriff. I’ll also be letting it be known how you refused to do your civic duty and stop this from happening.” Jake said.

“ Get your prisoner and get the hell out of my town now Marshal.” Sheriff Whitehill ordered before walking away.

“ Go get the horses Scott. I’ll get Addison.” Jake said before walking toward the Sheriffs office.

“ Sergeant, were can I find the Fort Captain?” Jake asked as they rode into Ft. Cummings yard.

“ He’s in his office straight ahead next to the dispensary.” the Sergeant answered.

“ Thank you. You got a place I can lock my prisoner up in while we’re here?”

“ Stockade, over there on the end. You need a guard posted on him?” the Sergeant asked.

“ If you have one, I’d be much obliged.”

The Sergeant called for two Corporals to come over. “ Escort the Marshal’ prisoner to the stockade and lock him up. Keep a guard posted until the Marshal is ready to leave.” the Sergeant ordered.“ Corporal Hays, come see to these men’s horses. See that they get some grain and water.”

“ Yes sir.” the Corporal answered as him and a Private came over and took the horses.

“ If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to the Captain.”

“ Pretty good fort you have here Sergeant. Adobe walls with what, ten foot wall outside?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, damn Apache’ get the notion once in a while to try and get in.” the Sergeant said.

“ Apache’ been a problem a lot lately?” Jake asked.

“ You could say that. It seems ever since some damn fool found silver, every white man from a thousand miles around is coming here looking to get rich. Settlers coming to farm land that really can’t be farmed. The more the settlers come, the more the Apache raid and kill.” the Sergeant explained.

“ What about Mescalero or Comancheros?” Johnny asked.

Sergeant Sanders stopped and looked at Johnny. “ Those two are the worse. Robbing and killing settlers and miners. We go out twice a day on excursions trying to stop them. We had a wagon come into the fort last week with two small children in the back and both parents scalped and butchered.”

“ That don’t sound like Comancheros or Mescalero’ work.” Johnny stated.

“ Because it wasn’t. It was the work of one Apache we’ve been trying to capture named Victorio. He’s got about thirty braves with him and they have no mercy on their victims. They take pride in torturing them. How the children escaped is beyond me.”

“ I killed two Comancheros the other day about fifteen miles out of Silver City.” Johnny said as they walked up to the Captains office.

“ Two less to worry about far as I’m concerned boy.” Sergeant Sanders replied as he knocked on the Captains door.

“ Enter.” came a voice from the other side.

Sergeant Sanders opened the door and stepped inside. “ Captain Dresher, sir. These men would like a word with you.”

“ Very well Sergeant. Come in gentlemen. What can I do for you?”

“ Captain Dresher, I’m Marshal Teague and this is Scott Lancer and……..”

“ Johnny Madrid.” the Captain cut in. “ I know you. Seen you once in San Diego. You brought the stage in with the driver badly wounded. Town thought maybe you did it until a woman and her daughter set them straight.” the Captain said as he stood up and extended his hand. “ I’d like to shake the hand of Johnny Madrid, if that’s alright?”

Johnny reached out and shook the Captains hand as he glanced at Scott. “ Just in the right place at the right time Captain.” Johnny stated.

“ That woman and child were my wife and daughter that you saved.” the Captain stated. “ She left me and took our daughter back east. Said she wasn’t living in a country that’s full of violence.”

“ I have a prisoner locked up in your stockade. I’m taking him back to Abilene to stand trial and hang for murder. I was wondering if you could tell me what we can possible expect to the Texas line?” Jake said.

“ Well Marshal, I suggest you have good, fast horses and don’t stop at night for very long. If you do have to stop, don’t do a fire, less chance of them finding you. Victorio has been around, just last week he slaughtered two settlers, but left the children unharmed.”

“ Maybe he just didn’t see the children in the wagon.” Scott suggested.

“ Young man, if you had served in the military, you would know how the enemy acts out here.”

“ With all do respect Captain, I served during the war under Phil Sheridan. I am quite familiar with how enemy can act.” Scott stated.

“ This isn’t a war to free states or slaves. This is a war against someone who has lived their whole life in the desert. Someone who knows every crevice, canyon, gully, cave, hole or anything else out there beyond those gates you rode through.” Captain Dresher said. “ The Apache can run thirty miles without a drop of water. He’s more cunning and smart than the white man will ever be. They taught you in the war to find your enemy, surround them and engage them. Well out here, that don’t apply. You can ride right past an Apache and not know it until it’s to late.”

“ My apologies Captain, I didn’t mean to imply you didn’t know what you were doing.” Scott said.

“ You didn’t. I’m just telling you what we are up against out here. I have four squads, forty men under my command here to try and keep the settlers safe. Washington thinks that’s plenty of men to protect all the damn settlers that keep coming west. The damn Butterfield – overland stage line has a stop right out there. He built the line to get the mail across the southern states to San Diego. Course the settlers are using that route also to come west.”

“ Which would you say would be the best route to take?” Jake asked.

“ I would have to say, staying south of that damn Butterfield route. The Apache has it staked out and hits damn near every stage that comes across.”

“ There anymore forts between here and Texas Captain?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. I’m all there is unless you go north, but I wouldn’t do that, because that will put you right smack dab in the middle of Mescalero and Apache country.”

“ Alright Captain. We appreciate the information.” Jake said.

“ One more thing Marshal. You won’t find a whole lot of water once you leave the Sacramento mountains. Those white sands can get plenty cold at night too this time of year.”

“ Thanks again Captain.” Jake said as they headed outside.

Murdoch walked into the kitchen, were he found Teresa and Maria preparing supper. “  I got a telegram from Scott.” he said as he sat down.

“ Are they alright?” Teresa asked as she wiped her brow with the back of her flour covered left hand.

Murdoch read the wire.


In Silver City, New Mexico. All okay. Will write when reach Abilene. Scott

“ Patrón, mí Johnny, él volverá a casa con su hermano,¿ si?” Maria asked. (Patron, my Johnny, he will come home with his brother si?)

“ I don’t know Maria. Scott is going to try and talk him into coming back to Lancer.” Murdoch responded.

“No deberías haberte escapado. El es tu hijo. Johnny Madrid es tu hijo. Es una buena persona con un corazón amable. Él no es el asesino despiadado que oigo decir a la gente.” Maria said with anger in her eyes. ( You should not have run him off. Johnny Madrid is your son. He is a good person with a kind heart. He is not the ruthless killer I hear people say.)

“ Maria, I did not run Johnny off Lancer. Buck Addison said things to him that are not true. He is the reason Johnny left. Not me.”

“ Si estas cosas que este hombre le dijo a Johnny no son ciertas, entonces ¿ por qué se fueron él y el Scott el mayor?” ( If these things this man said to Johnny are not true, then why did he and senior Scott leave?)

“ Murdoch, I have the list finished for the Christmas orphanage celebration. I thought maybe we could go over it together after supper tonight?” Teresa cut in. Trying to stave any harsh words.

“ That will be fine sweetheart.” Murdoch answered before turning and walking out of the room.

“ Maria, Murdoch misses Johnny and Scott deeply. You shouldn’t say such cruel things to him. I see the hurt in his eyes every day they are not here.” Teresa stated firmly.

“ I am an old lady who knows only to speak from my heart.” Maria responded.

“ Sometimes it is best to not say what is in your heart.” Teresa said.

“ Jake.” Johnny said.

“ I see them.”

Scott turned and looked to his left. Seven riders were following them about a quarter mile away. “ What are they?” he asked.

“ Apache’.” Johnny said.

“ What the hell am I supposed to do with these damn handcuffs on?” Buck asked harshly.

Jake stopped his horse and removed the key. “ Don’t get any ideas about taking off.” he said as he removed the cuffs.

Scott removed his rifle from the scabbard. “ There isn’t much for cover out here.” he stated.

“ Kick them into a trot, and see what they do.” Jake suggested.

“ We may lose the pack horse.” Johnny stated.

“ Looks like this wash on our right will cross in front of us.” Scott stated.

“ Yeah, they may be using that as a way of keeping us going one way.” Johnny responded.

“Probably have used it before.” Scott stated

“ Here they come.” Johnny shouted as he spurred the mustang.

Scott fired his rifle at them as they started yelling and shooting at them. “ Take the horses down into the wash.” he ordered as his horse panicked and tried to bolt.

Addison’ horse went down hard from a bullet, throwing his rider hard to the ground. “ Marshal.” he yelled as he landed in the sand.

Jake, Scott and Johnny’ horses seen the wash and slowed just enough to jump the four feet down into the wash, their riders jumping off as soon as they landed.

“ Addison’ horse went down.” Scott yelled as he started firing, hitting one of the Apaches.

“ Can you see him?”  Jake asked.

“ He’s about three hundred feet out.” Scott stated as he kept firing.

“ Addison, get up and run to us.” Jake yelled.

Addison got up and started running toward the wash when a bullet slammed into his lower back, dropping him to the ground. “ I’m hit. Marshal, help me.” he pleaded as an Apache jumped off his horse near him.

“ Damn it.”  Johnny said as he fired, killing the Apache next to Buck. “He’s hit. There’s nothing we can can do for him now.” he said.

“ Can we get to him?” Jake asked.

“ No, there’s still four of them out there.” Scott answered.

Johnny seen movement to his right and  turned just as an Apache leaped into the wash, with his knife out. “ Jake, look out.” he yelled as he fired.

Jake spun around and fired at the  Apache when Johnny yelled and fired, hitting the Apache in the chest. The knife missing him by inches.

Scott took aim and fired at another Apache as he galloped toward them, dropping him dead as another Apache jumped off his horse and ran to Addison and yelled as he brought his knife out and scalped the man.

Addison tried to get away when he seen the Apache jump off his horse, but it was to late. All he could do was scream when the Indian grabbed his head and scalped him.

Johnny, Scott and Jake knew it was over for Buck. The scream of agony and the yell of triumph from the Apache told them Addison was dead.

“ We need to make a run for it.” Scott said as he moved over by his brother.

“ We do and they could hit the horses. We have a better chance in this wash.” Johnny responded. “ Jake, you alright?” he asked.

“ Yeah, you?” he responded.

“ Yeah. We need to make every shot count, or we’re going to run out of shots.” Johnny stated as he reloaded his pistol.

“ Where the hell are they?” Scott asked as he scanned the area.

“ They’re out there. Apache are real good at hiding in plain sight.” Johnny said just as two Apaches attacked from the back, jumping down into the wash, knifes gleaming in the late afternoon sun.

Scott spun around and fired his rifle, hitting one of the Apache in the side, knocking him backwards. Grabbing his pistol, Scott fired  killing the Apache as he seen his brother fighting with the other one. Not wanting to risk hitting Johnny, Scott could only watch and wait for the right moment to fire as the two fought.

Yelling made Scott and Jake turn just as another Apache galloped toward them, firing his rifle, kicking dirt up as the shots went wild. Scott turned back to his brother just as the Apaches knife sliced into Johnny’ side. Taking aim, Scott fired, hitting the Apache in the head.

“ Johnny.” he yelled as he went to his brothers side.

Jake moved down next to them. “ How bad is that?” he asked.

“ I’ll live.” Johnny responded.

“ Johnny, that knife wound is deep.” Scott said.

“ Had worse.” Johnny responded. “ We need to get the hell out of here before more Apache show up.” Johnny said as he went to the stallion and got up in the saddle.

“ What about Addison?” Scott asked as he looked out at the still form laying in a pool of blood.

“ Nothing we can do for him. We go out there and try to get the body and we could be right next to him.” Johnny stated as he swung up in the saddle.

“ Johnny’ right. He was my prisoner, but there’s nothing any of us can do for him now.” Jake added as he went to his horse. “ Can you ride?” he asked Johnny.

“ Yeah. I can make it.” Johnny responded.

Scott went to his horse and mounted up. He couldn’t believe his brother could be so calm about a deep cut in his side.

“ The next town is sixty miles east. The fort is closer.” Scott suggested.

“ It may be closer, but it’s right back through Apache territory. We ride hard, we can make it to a Caprock that will have an arroyo with grass and water. Only one way into it because of the cliffs.” Johnny stated.

Chapter 3 Research Notes


Chapter 4

“ We’re going to run these horses into the ground, we don’t slow them down.” Jake stated. “ It’ll be dark in a few hours. We need to find someplace to hold up and let the horses rest and take care of that wound Johnny.”

“ It’s not that much farther to that arroyo.” Johnny stated as he handed the pack horses lead to Scott.

Scott could tell his brothers wound was still bleeding. He could tell by the way Johnny was holding his left arm to his side, he was in pain.“ You’re about to fall out of the saddle little brother.” Scott stated.

“ I can make it.” Johnny responded.

“ How do you know there will be water there?” Jake asked.

“ I was there once last year coming down from a job I did in Colorado.”

Thirty minutes later Johnny spotted the big cottonwood tree he was looking for.

“ There, behind that cottonwood.” he said as he guided the stallion behind the tree into an arroyo with lush green grass and a stream coming out of the rocks. Scott stopped his horse getting down, he went to Johnny, who was starting to fall out of the saddle.

“ I got you brother.” Scott said as he grabbed Johnny and helped him out of the saddle and helped him over to a log next to the stream. Going back to his horse, he grabbed his saddlebags and came back. “ Teresa had me pack bandages, thread and needle, just in case.” he said.

“ Let’s get that shirt off and see how deep that wound is.” Jake said as he knelt down next to him.

“ Need to get a fire going Jake.” Johnny said as he leaned forward so Scott could remove his shirt.

“ That’s going to need stitches brother.”

“ After.” Johnny responded.

“ After. After what?” Scott asked.

“ Jake, in my saddlebags you’ll find pliers for removing the lead.”

“ Johnny, you’re not going to do what I think are you?” Scott asked as Jake went and got the pliers from Johnny’ saddlebags and came back over.

“ I’ll get the fire going.” Jake said as he handed the pliers to Johnny.

“ I’m not….you are.” Johnny responded.

“ We can stitch it up. Until we can get to a doctor.” Scott suggested.

“ Look, I’ve done this before Scott. Cauterizing the wound before you stitch it up will stop anymore infection from starting. If you can’t do it, I can or Jake can do it.” Johnny stated as he moved to lay down flat on the ground.

“ No, I’ll do it brother. I just wish there was another way.” Scott said as he pulled a bullet from his holster belt and pulled the lead off the end. “ You want something to bite down on while I do this?”

“ Don’t need it. I’ll probably pass out from the pain before you’re done.”

Jake got a small fire going and moved over next to Johnny. “ You got guts amigo.”

Scott poured the powder on the wound and tossed the shell away, reaching for a small tick in the fire to light the powder he looked at his brother laying there. Touching the powder, it ignited for a few seconds, burning flesh.

Johnny reached deep inside to keep from screaming when his brother lit the powder. Arching his hips upward as he tried to pull free from the hold Jake had on his shoulders. The pain was so bad, Johnny passed out just seconds after Scott lit the powder.

“ He’s out cold. Go ahead and stitch him up. I’ll take care of the horses.” Jake said as he stood up. “ You alright?”

Scott looked up at him. “ I don’t think I would have been able to take what Johnny just did.”

“ Your brother is one tough hombre. I know you’ve seen the scars he has. Most of those scars are from wounds he treated himself. Digging bullets out or cauterizing a wound. You learn to do whatever you have to do to survive out here Scott. Johnny, he was forced into his world of living by a gun. He knows there’s a bullet with his name on it out there. Every day he wakes up, wondering if today will be the day he dies.” Jake stated. “ I know, because I used to wonder that too.”

“ Murdoch, something is wrong.” Teresa said as he walked into the kitchen.

“ What do you mean?” Murdoch asked as he poured a cup of coffee and sat down across from her.

“ I had a dream last night. I dreamed Johnny was attacked by Indians and hurt bad.” she said, almost in tears.

Murdoch stood up and walked over and sat down next to her, putting an arm around her shoulder. “ It was just a dream sweetheart. I’m sure the boys are fine.”

“ It seemed so real. I seen Johnny get attacked by an Indian and Scott couldn’t help him.”

“ Teresa, listen to me. Johnny and Scott are fine. Johnny knows how to take care of himself better than anyone. He’s not going to let himself or his brother get hurt.”

“ I know. It’s just that……Why didn’t you stop him from leaving?”

“ Teresa, I wanted Johnny to stay here. I can’t force him to change. If Johnny thinks that whatever it is out there is more important than a home, I can’t force that on him. Nobody can. He has to find out for himself what he wants.”

“ But you let Scott leave too.”

“ Scott went with Johnny, to try and get him to come back to Lancer.” Murdoch responded.

“ And if he doesn’t, will Scott come back?” she asked.

“ I don’t know. All we can do is pray they both come home.”

Scott checked Johnny’ wound and covered him up.

“ How’s he doing?” Jake asked.

“ No fever. The wound is a little red, but I don’t think there’s any infection.” Scott responded.

“ Bleeding the way it did probably helped.” Jake responded. “ You look like a man with something on his mind. Wanna talk about it?”

“ I was just thinking about Addison.” Scott said. “ I’ve seen a lot of men die in the war, but…….hearing him scream like that.”

“ It’s not a pretty thing to hear a man scream from being scalped. I have heard of men surviving a scalping, but their life was never the same after.” Jake stated. “ These sage hens are about done.”

“ Pretty lucky, snaring them.” Scott said as he reached for the coffee pot and poured two cups, handing one to Jake. “ What are you going to tell them in Abilene?” he asked.

“ The truth. I’ll have to fill out paperwork and file it, but I think the hardest part will be telling the widow Carter and her son.” Jake stated. “ What are you and Johnny going to do?” he asked.

“ I don’t know. It’s up to him I guess.” Scott responded.

“ You know, with winter coming on, you two can still come with me to Abilene. It gets cold, but we don’t get a lot of snow.” Jake suggested.

“ Like I said, it will be up to where Johnny wants to go. Your offer does sound go though.”

“ What’s it like……..Abilene?” Scott asked.

“ Abilene…..mostly ranchers. We have a big stockyard were the ranchers bring their cattle to ship east. Lot of rowdy cowboys Friday and Saturday nights. Winter is pretty damn boring sometimes. Hands getting drunk and the occasional fist fight happens, but mostly it’s a quiet town.” Jake stated. “ It’s growing now that the railroad has come through. Bringing more settlers west.”

“ What’s around there for work?” Scott asked.

“ Ranches mostly. In town we have saloons, a couple good sized general stores, post office a dry goods store, mercantile, shoe store. Abilene is growing and with more settlers coming west.” Jake said. “ You know, I could use a couple deputies to help me out through the winter. Pays not the greatest, but the building is sturdy and the stove is real good.”

“ Somehow I don’t see my brother being a deputy.” Scott stated.

“ Why not? He was a deputy for me for two months when I was laid up from a bullet.” Jake responded. “ It seems to me Scott, that you have a problem accepting that your brother isn’t the cold blooded killer everyone thinks Johnny Madrid is.”

“ You’re wrong about that. I have never thought of Johnny as a cold blooded killer Jake. Yes I’ve seen him kill, but those men called him out, and he was only defending himself. He gave them all a chance to walk away.”

“ Let me ask you this. If you had to choose right now between living a life with a roof over your head, clothes o your back and food in your stomach every day living at Lancer or a life like he’s had of going to bed cold and hungry, hated by many because of your looks. Which would you choose?”

“ I think I’ve made that pretty clear by leaving Lancer and coming with him haven’t I?”

“ You came with Johnny to try and talk him into going back to Lancer, so no, that’s not the answer.”

“ Look, I can’t help that I grew up not having to worry about the clothes on my back or food in my stomach or a roof over my head like Johnny did. That’s not my fault. I never knew I even had a little brother, because if I had, I guarantee he wouldn’t have grown up below the border, living the life he was forced to live.” Scott said as he stood up. “  Yes I would like him to go back to Lancer, I’m not out here because of that. I’m out here because he’s my brother and like it or not, he needs me as muchas  I need him.”

“ And why do you need him? What’s the one reason you need him Scott?”

“ Because he’s my brother.” Scott answered firmly.

“ Why, just because we share that old mans blood?” Johnny asked.

Scott and Jake both turned and looked. “ Well good morning to you.  How you feeling?” Scott asked as he went to Johnny’ side.

“ Like I’ve been stomped on by my damn horse.” Johnny said.

“ Let me help you sit up.” Scott said.

“ I don’t need your help.” Johnny said as he pushed his brothers hand away and sat up.

“ How much did you hear?” Jake asked.

“ Enough.” Johnny responded. “ Don’t suppose you got anything to eat do you?” he asked.

“ Sage hens I snared.” Jake answered as he cut some meat off one and handed it to Johnny.

“ You think just because we share that old mans blood, we’re brothers…..It takes more than blood to make us brothers.” Johnny stated as he took the plate of meat. “ If I decide to hire my gun out again, in a range war, are you ready to kill a man for what another man believes in?”

Scott looked from Johnny to Jake. “ So you’re ready to go back to living by your gun?”

“ If I have to.” Johnny responded. “ It’s my gun that’s kept food in my belly and clothes on my back.”

“ I asked Scott to be a deputy for me during the winter. He said it was up to you and what you wanted to do.” Jake stated.

“ I don’t see him wearing a badge Jake.”

“ Why not? If you could, so can I.” Scott replied.

“ Drunken cowhands that will resist being arrested for disturbing the peace, when they think all they’re doing is having fun……You really think you can handle doing that…… brother?”

Scott noticed how Johnny  had said * brother * and it irked him. He couldn’t figure out why all the sudden Johnny was treating him like a kid, especially since they had been riding together for almost two months now.

“ I think he has what it takes Johnny.” Jake cut in. “ Hell, I wasn’t so sure about you when you put that badge on remember?”

Scott sighed and shook his head. “ You’re so quick to judge someone when you yourself said everyone deserves a second chance. You don’t know everything about me…..* brother *, so I suggest you shut the hell up, and let it go, because like it or not, you’re stuck with me.”

“ He’s kinda got your temper there Johnny.’ Jake stated.

“ Yeah. I just hope he has the balls to back it up when necessary.” Johnny said.

“ I think he does. He did pretty damn good against those Apache.” Jake stated.

“ A little slow, but…..yeah, he did.”

“ A little slow?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, I got this here knife wound because you were a little slow killing that damn Indian.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ I didn’t really have a good shot, the way you two were fighting.”

“ Yeah, they don’t exactly hold still. Listen Scott, we can spend the winter in Abilene, but come spring, I want you going back.”

“ So you can go and get yourself killed? I don’t think so brother.” Scott responded. “ You’ve been taking care of yourself almost all your life. It’s time you start accepting the help of others and accept the fact that you have a brother who cares about you. I would die for you Johnny.” Scott added before turning and walking over to the stream.

“ You are one stubborn sonofabitch, you know that?” Johnny said as Scott walked away.

“ You know. It’s you who’s being the stubborn sonofabitch Johnny.” Jake said as he stood up. “ You want your old man to accept you for who you are. Yet you can’t accept the fact that you have a brother who loves you.”

For three days they stayed in the Arroyo, so Johnny’ wound could heal up. On the fourth day they headed out.

“ Scott, It’s not you who’s being the stubborn one.” Johnny said as they rode along. “ I am. It’s just that…..I’ve never had anyone but my horse. In my line of work, having friends just wasn’t possible.”

“ I’m more than your friend Johnny. I’m your brother and like it or not, I’m not leaving you.” Scott responded.

“ So, do you want to stay in Abilene for the winter?”

“ The only place we wouldn’t have snow and freezing cold, would be south.” Scott responded.

“ I don’t really want to go south for the winter brother. I got a bounty on my head in Mexico by them Rurales.”

“ Then we could stay the winter and ride up north in the spring.” Scott suggested.

“ And do what for money? There isn’t a whole lot of places up north. Colorado has some mining camps in the mountains, but as far as towns go, there ain’t much of anything Scott.”

“ Johnny’ right about that Scott. I had rode into Cheyenne a couple years ago, just wanting a bed to sleep in. I gotta tell ya, that town is run by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, and they don’t much like people like Johnny or me.” Jake stated.

“ Well then, what way do you suggest we go brother?” Scott asked.

“ Don’t know. That’s a long ways off and I only take one day at a time.” Johnny responded.

“ Something to keep in mind. Colorado has a lot of silver mines. The two of you could probably pick up some serious cash escorting shipments from the mines down to town.” Jake suggested.

“ Sounds like dangerous work.” Scott stated.

“ More dangerous than a range war or fight over water rights. Outlaws are a whole different breed Scott. They’ll kill to get what they want regardless of who has it.”

“ I guess I’m still getting used to the fact that a man can kill another man for what seems like something so minute.”

“ You can be shot in the back talking those fancy words out here brother.”

“ Awful lot of back shooting going on. Whatever happened to the code of the west?” Scott asked.

“ Well that’s just it, you gotta do it to them, before they do it to you.” Johnny stated.

“ I can send a wire, asking if they know of any places needing reliable guards if that’s what you two want to do?” Jake suggested.

“ I’ll think on it.” Scott answered.

“ Murdoch, do you think Father Micheal will like what I’ve come up with for the orphanage festival?” Teresa asked.

“ I’m sure he will sweetheart.” Murdoch answered  from his desk.

“ What are you doing?” she asked as she walked over.

“ There seems to be a silver mine in a town called Aurora, and the miners are will to pay generously for beef.” Murdoch explained. “ I received a letter from the California Cattleman’s Association asking if Lancer would like to add some cattle to the drive next spring.”

“ Aurora. Where’s that?”

“ On the Nevada line it would seem, some eighty miles north of Bishop.” Murdoch stated. “ It seems we could get three times the normal price for a three year old steer than we would at market.”

“ How many head do they want you to put in?”

“ Twenty to twenty five head. They say we could make sixty two dollars a head.”

“ That’s over fifteen hundred dollars.” Teresa stated.

“ It would seem, there are quit a few silver mines showing up and the miners are needing beef, especially through the winter, so this man, Samuel Addison Bishop is willing to pay generously for cattle.”

“ Are you going to do it?”

“ It wouldn’t happen until the spring. The association wants to have a meeting after the new year about it.”

“ Will the meeting be here at Lancer?” Teresa asked.

“ No sweetheart. It says Sacramento.” Murdoch responded.

“You know, being out under the stars like this can get a man to thinking.” Scott stated.

“ Yeah. It is an awful pretty roof.” Johnny said as he set his plate down and reached for the coffee pot.

“ That it is brother. How’s that wound doing?”

“ I’ll live.” he responded.

“ So how long until we reach Abilene Jake?” Scott asked.

“ Three, maybe four days if a storm don’t brew up.”

“ Don’t really want to face a tornado out here.” Johnny said as he leaned back against his saddle.

“ I don’t think we have enough supplies to last that long.” Scott stated.

“ Fort Concho is a little south. We could go there and get some supplies.” Jake suggested. “ They have a store they keep stocked.”

“ Fort Conch. Don’t remember any Fort out here.” Johnny said.

“ Started building it in sixty seven. To protect the settlers, wagon trains and mail. A hard ass Colonel named Mackenzie runs it. He’s got five companies of the fourth cavalry there. He makes sure the Mexican and American traders don’t do any illegal trading. Comancheros and Comanches are his primary concern. They’ve been making it hard on honest traders. Word has it, when I was headed out to California, him and his troop came across a large band of Comanche in Palo Duro canyon north of the fort. He ordered his troops to attack. His men slaughtered a thousand head of horses and livestock.”

“ What the hell for?” Johnny demanded.

“ To keep the Comanche from reclaiming them. Comanches on foot are less likely to attack. He’s got a hundred and twenty seven women and children at the fort being held in the stone corral until spring. Killed twenty three braves on that raid.” Jake told them. “ Man’s a pure animal. They call his outfit Mackenzie’ Raiders.”

“ Sounds like this man has a solid hate for Indians.” Scott stated.

“ Yeah, that he does.” Jake responded.

“ A man like that, has no business in the army.” Johnny said, looking at Scott.

“ Why’s that?” Scott asked.

“ Any man who would just kill horses and cattle that is another mans livelihood, needs dragged through a patch of prickly pear cactus.” Johnny answered.

“ Somehow I don’t think Washington feels that way about him, or his methods.” Jake said.

“ Unless Washington doesn’t know what he does.” Scott added as a coyote yapped in the distance. “ We going to have any trouble from these Comanche Jake?”

“ Could, but I don’t think there’s any around. I think they’re up north mostly this time of year.”

“ What about the Comancheros?”

“ Them I don’t know about. Most of them just want to trade for whatever. We have a few come into Abilene sometimes.”

“ What about Victorio.” Johnny asked. “ Don’t he run in this area?”

“ Yeah, him I pray we don’t run into, because if we do, that attack the other day will be nothing compared to him.”

“ You know, Nevada isn’t that far from Lancer. With mining camps springing up everywhere, they’re going to be needing meat. I bet we could sell beef to them and make a really nice profit.” Scott suggested.

“ Texas and New Mexico has a lot of wild steers running lose that strayed from cattle drives. Forts would buy them.” Jake suggested.

“ Rounding up wild cattle would take an outfit.” Johnny added.

“ We could maybe find a couple men interested in throwing in with us.” Scott said.

“ Us? I don’t remember saying I wanted to go chasing wild cows, especially in Indian territory brother.”

“ You know what your problem is. You have no sense of adventure little brother.” Scott said with a smile.

“ Oh I have a sense of adventure Scott. I just don’t have one that involves getting scalped. I damn near did that already.”

“ What day you recon it is?” Jake asked.

“ November.” Scott answered. “ Why?”

“ Thanksgiving. Your old man ever celebrate it?”

“ Yes he does. Teresa and Maria cook up a big meal, but nothing like at Christmas. Teresa makes all kinds of sweets and cookies.”

“ You ever get to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas Johnny?” Jake asked.

“ Nope. Never did. Just another day to me.” Johnny responded.

“ Not even as a child?” Scott asked.

“ Kinda hard to celebrate something when you’re dirt poor.”

“ So you never got a gift on Christmas morning?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. The only gift I usually got, was a beating.” Johnny stated. “ I do remember this one time, I seen this man and woman celebrating it. I had run away from the orphanage and it was raining and colder than hell. I was hungry, so I seen this pie sitting in a window sill. I was going to open that window and steal that pie, when I looked inside and seen this Mexican family celebrating it with beans and tortillas. I remember seeing the wife, she was sad about something and her husband tried comforting her. Turns out, they had lost their kid a short time before. The pie she made was his favorite, she made him every Christmas.”

“ Did you steal the pie?” Jake asked.

“ Nope. No matter how hungry I was, I just couldn’t bring myself to steal it. I walked away from there in the rain and the more I walked, the angrier I got at the old man. I figured it was his fault my mother was dead and I was………….”

“ But now you know, Murdoch didn’t throw you and your mother out.” Jake stated.

“ Johnny, you made a promise to me, that you would give it a year at Lancer, and you didn’t.” Scott stated.

“ That was before I knew the old man cared more about that damn ranch than he did his own flesh and blood.” Johnny responded as he stood up. “ I’ve had enough of not being wanted around by people just because I wear this gun Scott. I don’t need him or Lancer.” he said before walking away into the darkness.

“ You really got your job cut out for you, in trying to get Johnny to go back.”

Scott stood up. “ I know. I just wish I knew of a way to get him to see the errors of his ways.”

“ The errors of his ways. You mean as Johnny Madrid?”

“ No Jake, I don’t mean that at all. I worked with Johnny, side by side on that ranch. I could see how, even though the work was hard, he was relaxed. Hell he would joke with me. We would ride into town on a Saturday night and play poker.”

“ You ever play chess with him?”

“ Yeah. He’s very good at it…….The first time, I felt like an idiot. I asked him if he wanted to learn, thinking maybe he didn’t know how to play.”

“ And he went along with you, letting you think that for a game or two?”

“ I think it was the third game. He beat me so fast. I still don’t believe it.”

“ Just because Johnny grew up without what you had Scott, doesn’t mean he’s stupid.”

“ I never thought that for a second Jake. I may have went to Harvard, but sometimes I wish I was as smart as my little brother is.”

“ Why’s that?”

“ Because what he knows, you can’t teach at no college……I think I’ll turn in now.” Scott said as he went to his bedroll and laid down.

Jake didn’t know what to think of Scott really. He knew the man cared deeply for Johnny, and wanted him to have what he deserved, what he spent most of his life without. Jake also knew that having those things was what was wrong with his friend. Going your whole life without the comforts so many take for granted, then all the sudden having those comforts, really scared his friend. In a way, Jake could relate to how Johnny was feeling, having himself went through the same thing as a child, only not as bad as it was for Johnny.

“ I think what you have come up with for the festival will be just fine Teresa.” Father Micheal said as they walked outside the church.

“ I hope so. I want everything to be almost perfect.”

“ Almost?” Father Micheal asked.

“ Scott and Johnny being here would make it perfect.” Teresa stated as Murdoch drove up in the buggy.

“ Teresa is quit the planner Mister Lancer.”

“ Yes she is.” Murdoch replied.

“ Father Micheal, do you have someplace you will be Thanksgiving?” Teresa asked.

“ I will be here at the church.”

“ Why don’t you spend it with us?”

“ Your offer is most generous.”

“ We would love to have you Father.” Murdoch stated.

“ Alright. I will come.”

“ Wonderful.” Teresa said as she climbed up in the buggy.

“ Teresa has told me of your possible good fortune.”

“ Good fortune?” Murdoch asked.

“ I told Father Micheal about the cattle drive this spring.” Teresa stated.

“ Well, it’s not definite yet Father, but it would help Lancer out most generously.”

“ The lord does provide in mysterious ways.” Father Micheal said.

“ Yes he does.” Murdoch responded.

“ Have you heard from your sons?”

“ Not since the wire Scott sent from Prescott a few weeks back. He said he would let us know when  they reached Abilene.”

“ Perhaps no news is good news. Well, I must get back to my church.”

“ We’ll see you Thanksgiving Father Micheal.” Murdoch said as he slapped the reins.

“ Colonel Mackenzie, sir, a Marshal Teague and two other men just rode into the fort sir.” Sergeant McMasters said.

“ What does he want?” Colonel Mackenzie asked.

“ He asked if we had a doctor. It seems they were attacked by Apache’s a few days ago and one of them has a wound that needs checked.” the Sergeant stated.

“ Very well. Have him taken to the infirmary to get checked out.” the Colonel ordered.

“ Yes sir.” Sergeant McMasters. “ The one with the wound sir, he looks like he could be a Comanchero.”

Colonel Mackenzie stood up and walked over to the window and looked out at the three men. “ Tell the Marshal and the blonde one, I wish to speak to them in private. Have a couple of men keep an eye on the other one. He’s wearing a gunfighter rig and could be trouble.”

“ Yes sir.” Sergeant McMasters said before walking out.

Scott and Jake waited outside the doctors quarters, watching troops coming and going.

“ Busy Fort.” Scott said.

“ You get a look at those prisoners in the stone corral when we rode in?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah. Not much in the way of protection from the weather for them, that’s for sure.” Scott stated.

“ The Governor of Texas has no sympathy for Indians. He’s busy combating crimes statewide against racially based crimes. He even has black police officers.”

“ Segregationists. How do they feel about it?” Scott said.

“ If you mean former slave owners, they’re not happy about it one bit.” Jake responded.

“ What’s the Governor’s name?”

“ Edmund Jackson Davis. Some say he won’t get elected to a second term because he favors colored.”

“ Every man deserves to be treated as a human being Jake. Including colored.” Scott stated.

“ Well see, that’s a lot of the problem with Texas. This state split in half pretty much during the war. Still is in some parts. Some ranchers have hired what you would call rouge union soldiers as hired guns to force people off their land. They claim taxes are due that weren’t paid during the war. So they’re using soldiers to serve eviction orders on these people.”

“ You have any of that happening around Abilene?”

“ Not that I’m aware of.”

Chapter 4 Research Notes


Chapter 5

“ You mind my asking, who stitched you up after cauterizing the wound?” the post doctor asked Johnny.

“ Scott did. Why?” Johnny responded as he put his shirt back on.

“ He did a remarkable job with the stitches. Close, neat and tight.” The doctor stated. “ I couldn’t help but notice, you have a few scars. Did he also do the stitching on those previous wounds?”

“ Nope, I did. Ole Scott wasn’t to keen on cauterizing this wound, but he did finally.”

“ Young man, if he didn’t stitch these other wounds up, then who did?”

“ Me.” Johnny responded as he tucked his shirt in and put his gun back on.

“ You know, I seen you once down south. You killed a man. The Mexicans like to call you their Patron Saint, but you are nothing more than a mestizo killer.” the doctor said as he washed his hands.

Johnny didn’t much care for being called a Mestizo, by any man. “ Been called a lot of things, but never a Patron saint.” Johnny stated as he walked to the door. “ One more thing doc, you ever call me a Mestizo again, and you’ll find yourself waking up with one hell of a headache.” Johnny added before walking out, leaving the doctor standing there stunned.

“ What’d the doc say Johnny?” Jake asked.

“ Said he was impressed with your stitching abilities brother.” Johnny stated as he stepped down to his horse and checked his cinch as

Sergeant McMasters walked up to them.

“ The Colonel would like a word with you two.”  the Sergeant said as he looked at Johnny.

“ Is something wrong Sergeant?” Jake asked, noticing how the Sergeant looked at Johnny.

“ No, no problem yet. The colonel doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

“ Go ahead, I’ll go buy us some supplies to last us to Abilene.” Johnny said as he pushed past the arrogant Sergeant.

“ Alright brother.” Scott said as he and Jake headed to the Colonels office with the Sergeant.

“ You called that breed, brother. Why?” the Sergeant demanded, more than asked.

“ That’s what you usually say to someone who’s your blood brother Sergeant. Didn’t you learn that in school, or were you to busy learning to be an arrogant asshole toward someone you know nothing about?” Scott asked.

“ We don’t take kindly to half-breeds around here.” the Sergeant responded.

“ Sergeant, since you know nothing about him or who he is, I suggest you not let him hear you calling him a half-breed.” Scott said as they stepped up to the Colonels office and knocked.

“ Enter.” came a voice from the other side of the door.

Scott and Jake opened the door and stepped inside followed by the Sergeant, who closed the door.

“ You wanted to speak to us Colonel?” Jake asked.

“ Yes I do.” the Colonel responded as he stood up. “ I am Colonel Mackenzie. Fort Concho is my post. Sergeant McMasters says you were attacked by Apaches. I would like to know were this attack took place.”

 Colonel, I’m Marshal Teague of Abilene and this is Scott Lancer of Moro Coyo, California. We were attacked in New Mexico sir. Just east of the White Sands.” Jake responded.

“ Are you sure they were Apache and not Mescalero’ or Comancheros?” the Colonel asked.

“ They were Apache Colonel. They killed my prisoner I was transporting back to Abilene to stand trial for murder.”

“ And this other man with you. The one who was injured in the attack. How do you know he wasn’t a part of it?”

“ With all do respect Colonel, Johnny is my brother, and there is no way he was a part of the Apache attacking us.” Scott cut in.

“ Isn’t he a Mescalero?” the Colonel asked.

“ No sir, he is not.” Jake responded.

“ I see he wears a gunfighter rig.”

“ The blonde one says he’s his brother sir.” Sergeant McMasters states.

“ Brother……I’m sorry, but I find that hard to believe. You two look nothing alike.”

“ Our father had two wives sir. Johnny is my younger brother, and a damn good man. Regardless of what others may think of him.” Scott stated firmly as the door opened and the doctor walked in.

“ Excuse me Colonel, but the man injured from an Indian attack sir.” the doctor says as he walks into the office.

“ Yes. What about him?” Colonel Mackenzie asked.

“ I don’t know what these two have told you sir, but that man is Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter.”

Colonel Mackenzie glared at Jake and Scott. “ Are you sure of this?” he demanded from the doctor.

“ Positive sir. I seen him once down south. The Mexicans consider him a Patron Saint.” the doctor stated.

“ I don’t like being lied to Marshal.” Colonel Mackenzie said angrily. “ Marshal, I want you to get the hell off my post now, and take that half-breed with you.” Colonel Mackenzie ordered. “ Sergeant McMasters, see to it these men are escorted off my post now.”

“ Yes Sir. You heard the Colonel, lets go.”Sergeant  McMasters ordered.

Johnny was packing supplies on the pack horse when Jake and Scott walked over, leading their horses, followed by the arrogant Sergeant and a couple of soldiers.

“  What’s up?” he asked as he tied the rope.

“ It would seem we are not welcome here.” Jake said as he mounted his horse.

“ Figured as much, when I seen the doctor go in the office.” Johnny stated as he mounted up.

“ Tell your Colonel, I will be contacting both the Governor of Texas, and Washington about your Colonels treatment of those women and children.” Scott said as he mounted up. “ As a matter of fact, I believe I will also be writing a letter to a couple of Generals, who are friends of mine. Perhaps you’ve heard of Generals Robert Patterson, David Hunter and Phil Sheridan?” Scott asked as he turned his horse to leave.

 “ Have a nice day you arrogant sonofabitch.” Johnny added as he led the pack horse away.

“ Sergeant.” Colonel Mackenzie called.

“ Yes sir.” the Sergeant responded as he hurried over to the man.

“ What did they say?” the Colonel asked.

Sergeant McMasters told the Colonel what Scott had said about writing the letters and the names he mentioned.

“ Makes no difference to me. He can write all the letters he wants. Washington won’t remove me from this post. They know how valuable I am to keeping these savages at bay out here.”

“ Maybe they brought Madrid here to stir up trouble sir.”

“ Let them try. If Madrid shows up around here again, I want him shot on sight. Is that clear Sergeant?”

“ Yes sir.” McMasters responded.

Jake, Scott and Johnny rode into Abilene three days later. People on the streets stopped and watched ans the three men rode to the Marshal’ office and stopped. “ This is it, the end of the line boys.” Jake said as he stepped down from the saddle.

“ Seems you have quit an audience watching.” Scot said as he removed his rifle, dismounted and took the lead rope from Johnny to tie the pack horse to the rail.

“ Yeah. I expect the mayor will be coming to see me soon. Come on in and I’ll get a fire going.” Jake said.

“ You going to get down Johnny?” Scott asked as he stepped up onto the boardwalk.

Johnny removed his rifle, dismounted, and tied his horse off, he stepped up onto the boardwalk and followed Scott and Jake inside.

“ I’m really not looking forward to telling the widow Carter and her son. I imagine someone is on their way out to her ranch to tell her I’m back.” Jake said as he started a fire in the stove. “ I made her a promise I would catch Addison and bring him back here to stand trial for murdering her husband and hang for that murder.” Jake stated as he closed the door to the stove.

“ To me, Addison dying the way he did was better than a hanging.” Johnny stated.

“ I know, but she may not feel that way, and I had a job to do, and like it or not, Addison being killed while in my custody isn’t going to sit well with those at the capital.”

“  That little Mexican cantina still here?” Johnny asked.

“ It was when I left. Why don’t we go take care of the horses, get you two settled in a room, cleaned up and we can have supper there?” Jake suggested.

“ Sounds good to me.” Johnny said.

“ You would miss your spicy food.” Scott stated jokingly as he followed them back outside.

“ So much for a peaceful supper.” Jake said. “ Her comes the mayor.”

“ Marshal Teague, I thought you went to California to bring back that murderer Addison?” the Mayor asked.

“ Mayor, I’d like you to meet Scott Lancer, and I believe you remember Johnny?” Jake said. “ Scott, Johnny, this is the Mayor or Abilene, Mayor Corely.”

“ Lancer. Isn’t that who had sent the wire about Addison?” Mayor Corely asked.

“ Yes  sir. My father sent the wire.” Scott responded.

“ You’re Johnny Madrid, correct?” Mayor Corely asked. “ Why are you here?”

“ Look Mayor, we are trying to eat our supper. It’s been a long trip and we would like to relax.” Jake said.

“ I think you owe me an answer as to why you didn’t bring Addison back to stand trial. I want answers Marshal, and I want them now.”

Jake had had enough of this obnoxious man and his demanding this or that. “ LOOK, I don’t report to you. I report to Austin. Now if you want to know what happened, then you will have to wait until I file my report and then you can ask them. Until then, stay the hell out of my business.” Jake stated angrily.

“ I’m the mayor of this town. Therefore I have every right to know why instead of bringing the prison back, you bring this gunfighter and this man back with you.”

“ You got about one minute to turn around and walk back out those doors, or I’m going to throw you out them. I don’t give a damn if you’re the Mayor or not.” Johnny said coldly as he stood up and walked around to face the Mayor.

Jake and Scott stood up. “ I’m afraid my brother means what he says Mayor. It would be best if you left.” Scott said as he put a hand on Johnny’ left arm.

Mayor Corely looked at each man a few seconds before turning and walking out.

“ Do you think that was wise to do Johnny?” Scott asked as they sat back down to finish their meal.

“ Johnny did what I’ve wanted to do to that arrogant little bastard for a long time. Ever since he was elected Mayor, he’s been trying to throw his weight around. Most of the people of this town don’t like him.”

“ So why did they elect him then?” Scott asked.

“ Hell Scott, I stopped trying to figure people out in this town a long time ago.”

“ Why don’t we get out of here, and show Scott the town?” Johnny suggested.

“ She’s not here.” Jake stated as he stood up.

“ Who’s not here?” Scott asked.

“ A certain young lady Johnny spent an awful lot of time with when he was here last.” Jake answered. “ She went back home to Houston  about six months after you left. She got a wire saying her mother was sick.” Jake stated. “ You know, she stopped working in the saloon after you left. She said you showed her she could be someone else and didn’t have to work in a saloon.”

Scott looked at his brother inquisitively. More and more, he was finding out little things his brother had done to help others in his past. Things not mentioned in the Pinkerton reports. Things he wished his father knew to help him see just what a good, caring person Johnny was.

“ That’s good. I’m glad she got out of here.” Johnny said as he walked past them and headed outside.

“” Your brother is a remarkable person Scott. To bad your old man never gave Johnny a chance to show him that.”

“ I couldn’t agree with you more Jake. Our father is a stubborn man. Maybe with us gone, he will realize his mistake and what he’s put at risk of losing forever.”

“ Maybe that girl, Teresa and that priest can get him to realize it?” Jake suggested.

“ That’s a pretty tall order, but maybe the two of them together can.” Scott stated.“ Teresa. I almost forgot, she has a birthday coming up on the first.”

“ Well, you were going to send a wire letting them know when you got here. Tell her happy birthday then.”

“ I’ll do that tomorrow morning.” Scott said as they walked outside. “ I wonder were Johnny got off to?”

“ Probably to the saloon for a drink.” Jake stated. “ Which is what I could use right about now. Come on, I’ll buy.”

“ My compliments to you Miss Teresa, that was an excellent meal.” Father Micheal said as he dabbed his mouth and sat back in the chair. “ I can honestly say, that is the first time I have ever had Turkey.”

“ You’ve never had Turkey before?” Teresa asked.

“ No, I’m afraid not. Usually I am in a village that is so poor, having anything at all, is a miracle.”

“ I’m sorry. I guess I forget sometimes, not everyone has it easy, especially at holiday time.” Teresa stated.

“ The Turkey was delicious with the cranberry sauce, as well as the sweet potatoes.” Father Micheal said.

“ Well, I do hope you saved room for desert, because I have apple and pumpkin pies, and Indian pudding.”

“ I am afraid I couldn’t eat another bite right now.” Father Micheal stated. “ The wine is quit smooth. The taste is very exquisite. May I ask were you found such a wine?”

“ San Fransisco. It came all the way from Italy. Would you like a little more?” Murdoch answered and asked.

“ Perhaps just a small amount.” Father Micheal said as he held his wine glass up. “ Have you received any word from your sons?”

“ No, not since Scott sent that wire from Prescott some time back.” Murdoch stated. “ Would you care for a fine Cuban cigar with your glass of wine Father?”

“ I” m afraid I cannot, but please, feel free to have one.” he said.

Murdoch stood up and walked over to his desk and opened a wooden box and took out a cigar.

Father Micheal cleared his throat. “ I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”

“ If I can.” Murdoch answered.

“ You will probably think this so little a request, but it would mean so much to the children at the orphanage. Do you think you could find some fruit I could give the children on Christmas morning?”

“ What kind of fruit Father?”

“ I’m afraid I do not know what you would be able to find.”

“ I can’t make any promises, but I’ll see what I can do.” Murdoch stated.

“ Why don’t you two go in the other room while I clean up?” Teresa suggested.

“ Alright. Would you care for a little brandy or a scotch?” Murdoch asked.

“ No, the wine is quit enough for me.” Father Micheal answered.

“ Teresa is really looking forward to the festival.” Murdoch said as he sat down in a chair.

“ Yes she is. The itinerary she has planned should be something special for the children.” Father Micheal said as he sat down in on the couch. “ Is she your daughter?”

“ Teresa, no. Her father was my best friend and foreman. He was killed by land pirates a few years ago and Teresa became my ward. I love her like a daughter though. She’s grown up on Lancer.”

“ I am surprised she does not have gentlemen suitors.” Father Micheal stated. “ She is quit a beautiful young lady.”

“ Yes she is. I don’t know if she has had anyone really interested in her Father. I’ve seen her talking to young men her age sometimes in town, but none have come to the ranch.”

“ Does she have many friends?” Father Micheal asked.

“ If you mean other girls, yes, she has a few I believe.”

“ Please forgive me. I was just concerned. They only time I see her is at church on Sunday or if she comes into town with you.”

“ Teresa seems to like staying here mostly. I have to attend a meeting in Sacramento after the new year on the sale of  cattle to the  miners. I plan on taking Teresa with me and letting her see a big city and maybe do some shopping.”

“ I am sure she will enjoy that.” Father Micheal said as he set his wine glass down on the table. “ It isn’t easy for you not having your sons here?”

“ This would have been our first year together as a family during the holidays.” Murdoch responded.

“ How does that make you feel?”

“ To be honest Father Micheal, I’m angry. Not with my sons. I’m angry at myself for being a foolish stubborn old man who couldn’t see what was right in front of him. I can’t blame Johnny for leaving here. I didn’t make him feel like he was wanted here. What kind of father does that, makes his own son not feel welcomed in his own home?”

“ I don’t think it is so much that you couldn’t see what was right in front of you, as it was, you couldn’t accept what was right in front of you.” Father Micheal said. “ You only had two years with you son Johnny, before his mother took him away from here. Your oldest son Scott, you knew were he was and that he was safe, being raised by his grandfather. I think it scares you with Johnny, because you couldn’t be there when he was growing up. You couldn’t teach him things only a father can teach their son. I think, deep down inside, that you are scared. You have been without both your sons for almost their whole lives, and now that they came back, you didn’t really know how to act with them.”

“ I get along fine with Scott. Granted, he had to learn the ways of ranching, but we got along. I could talk to him.”

“ And because Johnny had no one in his life growing up, you feel like you can’t be a father to him?”

“ I want to be a father to him. I can’t talk to him. He told me, he’s not good at taking orders. This is a working ranch, I call the tune.”

“ So even if something they say or do may be right or better, it is always what you say that goes?”

“ I’ve been such a fool Father Micheal. I alienated my own son.”

“ It is not to late to start over.” Father Micheal said as he stood up. “ It is getting late. I must be heading back.”

“ Father Micheal, I’m afraid you won’t be able to go back to town tonight.” Teresa said as she walked into the room. “ It’s snowing very hard outside.”

“ Oh dear. No, no I cannot go back to town in that.”

“ I’ll make up a guest room for you.” Teresa said before heading upstairs.

“ I’m sorry, I do not mean to be a burden.”

“ Nonsense Father. We have more than enough empty bedrooms. You are more than welcome to stay until it is safe to return to Moro Coyo.” Murdoch stated. “ Do you play checkers?” he asked.

“ I haven’t played checkers since I was a small boy.”

“ You two give my offer any thought?” Jake asked.

“ That’s why we’re here. To help you out.” Scott responded.

“ Good. I know I swore you in Johnny, but it’s been over a year, so I have to do it again.” Jake stated as he stood up and walked around his desk to face them. “ Scott, raise your right hand. I Scott Lancer, do swear that I will faithfully execute all laws  precepts, directed to the Marshal of the United States for the Western District of Texas under the authority of the United States, and true returns make, and in all things well and truly, and without malice or partiality, perform the duties of Deputy Marshal of the Western District of Texas during my continuance in said office, and take only my lawful fees, so help me God. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 29th day of November, 1872.” Jake stated.

“ I do.” Scott answered.

Jake handed him the deputy badge. “ Wear that with pride.” he said.

“ I will.”

“ Raise your right hand. I, Johnny Madrid, do swear that I will faithfully execute all laws precepts, directed to the Marshal of the United States for the Western District of Texas under authority of the United States, and true returns make, and in all things well and truly, without malice or partiality, perform the duties of Deputy Marshal of the Western District of Texas during my continuance in said office, and take only my lawful fees, so help me God. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 29th day of November, 1872.”

“ I do.” Johnny answered as he took the badge and put it on his shirt.

“ Congratulations you two. Johnny, I pretty much still do things the way I did when you were here before. It’ll be a lot easier with you two now though.”

“ How are the people of town going to feel about this Jake?” Scott asked.

“ They won’t care. Most of the people will probably remember Johnny. I think the only one who might have a problem with it will be Mayor Corely.” Jake stated.

“ Yeah, you don’t seem to like him that much. How come?” Scot asked. “ Coffee?”

“ Sure. I haven’t been able to prove it, but I think the good Mayor of Abilene is doing some illegal things.” Jake stated as he took the cup of coffee from Scott, and walked back around his desk and sat down.

“ Like what?” Johnny asked.

“ Well, I’ve been Marshal of Abilene for a while now. The judge has reappointed me. This is my second term here. A Marshal serves a four year tenure. Don’t worry, deputies don’t serve that long. Anyway, When I was just appointed to my second four year tenure when he was elected. He showed up here with hardly any money to his name, and  about a year ago all the sudden has a lot of money. That big fancy house at the end of town we rode past when we came in, that’s his. Bought with cash. Now I ask you, how does a man who shows up here from wherever, become Mayor of Abilene and be able to afford the luxuries he has/ He sure as hell didn’t buy that house or fancy clothes he wears on a Mayors salary.” Jake explained.

“ Have you sent out wires asking about him?” Johnny asked.

“ I was told by Austin, to handle it myself basically.” Jake responded.

“ How about the Pinkerton’? Ask them to check him out.” Scott suggested, looking at his brother. “ They seem to be good at finding out things about people.” he added.

Johnny laughed. “ Yeah, real good.” he said sarcastically.

“ Have you talked to anyone besides Austin about him?” Scott asked as he glared at his brother.

“ No. If he is doing something shady, he could have partners, and I don’t want to alert him, or them.” Jake responded.

“ Well, there’s three of us now. Maybe we can find out some things about him?” Scott suggested.

“ Yeah, maybe. Just be careful how you go about finding it out.” Jake stated.

“ The best place to find out things about people is in the saloon. The girls working there might know something.” Johnny suggested.

“ You might be right about that Johnny, but how do we find out which girl?” Jake asked.

“ Guess you haven’t been visiting lately.” Johnny said with a laugh.

“ No, not really since I became a Marshal. At least not here in town.”

“ From experience, I can tell you that the best one most likely to hear or know something will be the highest girl. The one asked for the most by the so called reputable men in this town. After a while, a repeat customer will start talking about things to a whore because he knows that if she wants to live, she’ll keep her mouth shut. Some even get drunk enough to tell a whore things they won’t remember saying when sober. Now that whore makes her living from men, so she’s not going to risk losing a good paying customer, so she keeps her mouth shut.” Johnny stated.

“ Okay, If she keeps her mouth shut, then how do we find anything out brother?”

“ Simple, by becoming her best highest paying, most satisfying customer. Something I don’t think you would be able to do Scott. No offense.” Johnny said.

“ None taken. I don’t intend on fraternizing with saloon women.” Scott said as he poured another cup of coffee.

“ Best time you’ll ever have.” Johnny stated.

“ That might be, but I do not intend to pay for sex little brother.”

Jake sat at his desk smiling as he listened to Scott and Johnny banter back and forth like two brothers usually did. When the door opened, Jake stood up.

“ Mrs Carter, I was going to ride out to your spread this afternoon Ma’am.” Jake said as he walked around his desk.

“ One of my hands seen you ride into town yesterday. He said you didn’t have Addison with you though.”

“ Johnny, Scott, this is the widow Carter, wife to Ben Carter, the man Addison murdered five years ago. Would you care to sit down ma’am.”

“ Thank you.” Mrs carter said as she sat down. “I want to know why you came back without that killer?” Mrs Carter demanded.

“ Mrs Carter, I was bringing him back to Abilene to stand trial for murdering your husband and hang, but we were attacked in New Mexico by Apaches. They shot his horse out from under him and before we could get to him they……………”

“ They what Marshal?”

“ They scalped him ma’am.”

“ Are you sure they killed him?”

“ Yes ma’am. We all seen it, seen his body.”

“ It’s not what I wanted, but at least that sonofabitch is dead. It’ll be of comfort to the hands and his son knowing his fathers murderer is dead.” Mrs Carter said. “ I really want to thank you for never giving up on finding him Marshal.”

“ I made you a promise that I would ma’am. If it wasn’t for the Lancers, I would never have known he was in California.” Jake stated.

“ Please let the Lancer’ know I appreciate their part in catching that murderer.”

“ It’s the least we could do ma’am.” Scott stated. “ Buck Addison, was an evil man.”

“ You’re Lancer?” Mrs Carter asked. “ Why are you wearing a deputies badge?” she asked as she glanced from Scott to Johnny. “ You, you’ve been a deputy in Abilene before. You helped the Marshal out when he was shot in the back.”

“ Yes ma’am.” Johnny answered, glancing at his brother. “ Jake just swore us in as his deputies again, to help out,”

“ Well, thank you. Now Marshal, I have something else I wish to discuss with you.” Mrs carter said.

“ What can I do for you?” Jake asked.

“ While you were gone, my cattle have been being rustled.” she stated.

“ Have any other ranches in the area been hit?” Jake asked.

“ Not that I’m aware of.” she answered.

“ When did this start?” Jake asked.

“ Oh about a month ago. My foreman says I’ve lost about a thirty calves.” she stated.

“ Where were the cattle when they were took?” Johnny asked.

“ The same place I always have my cows with calves in the fall, Spring Mesa. There’s plenty of good lush grass and water for them to stay until spring roundup.”

“ Spring Mesa, that’s southeast of here.” Jake noted.

“ Yes. About five miles from the main house.”

“ Jake, it sounds like somebody who knows she runs her cattle in that area through winter. Someone who knows the calves haven’t been branded yet.” Johnny stated.

“ Yeah. I take it these calves haven’t been branded yet?”

“ No. We were going to brand them in the spring.” Mrs Carter responded.

“ Have your men bring them up close to the main house.” Jake ordered.

“ Whoever is doing this, might not like them being that close and stop, or give us a better chance of catching whoever it is.” Johnny added.

“ Alright. I’ll tell my foreman when I get back to have the men do that. Thank you.” Mrs Carter said as she stood up.

“ One more thing. Don’t tell anyone else about this. The fewer people who know, the better our chances of catching the ones who are doing this.”

“ Alright Marshal. Gentlemen.” Mrs Carter responded as she opened the door.

“ Ma’am, send a hand in as soon as anymore calves go missing.” Jake ordered.

“ I will.” Mrs Carter responded as she walked out the door.

“ That’s one strong, determined woman there.” Scott stated.

“ Maggie is a good person. She’s done a lot for the town over the years. Her and her husband both. Ben was one of the first ranchers in this area. He worked hard to build what he had. Maggie has doubled the ranch in size since his death five years ago.” Jake said.

“ So how do you want to do this?” Scott asked.

“ Me and Johnny will ride out at first light to Spring Mesa and see what we can find.” Jake stated

“ That many cows would have to leave a trail of some kind.” Scott suggested.

“ Not always Scott.” Jake responded. “ Johnny, you remember that job we did down in Mexico?” Jake asked.

“ The ghost herd one?” Johnny asked.

“ That’s the one.” Jake responded.

“ You think maybe that’s what they’re doing?” Johnny asked.

“ Excuse me, but could one of you be so kind as to explain what you’re talking about?” Scott cut in.

“ Sorry, me and Johnny took this job outside Sonora, Mexico for this rancher who was having his cattle stolen. Turns out, the cattle were right under his nose in a canyon in the Cerro Cibuta mountains that bordered his land. The rustlers took down a section of fence, moved the cattle through and put the fence back up. None of the vaquero’s noticed because the fence was still up.” Jake explained.

“ Who found out how they did it?” Scott asked.

“ Johnny did. He was riding the property line and stumbled upon cow dung outside the fence were it shouldn’t be.”

“ Yeah. I rode back and talked to the vaquero’s and they said that no cows were ever on that side of the fence. That they had checked and all the fences were still up. That none of them had been cut. You don’t have to cut fence to move cattle through it. You loosen enough fence from post and you can prop it up high enough that the cows will walk right under the first two strands and hop over the bottom one.”

“ Okay, but how are these guys making their tracks disappear?”

“ Sage. You tie enough of it together, you can make any tracks disappear in sand. Wind and rain will do the rest.” Johnny said.

“ Well, lets go take a walk. It’s time the citizens of Abilene meet the new deputies.” Jake stated.

Chapter 5 Research Notes


Chapter 6

“ Good morning Father.” Teresa said as Father Micheal walked into the kitchen. “ Did you sleep well?”

“ Very well. I must confess, I don’t think I have ever slept in a bed so comfortable.” Father Micheal answered. “ How is the weather?” he asked as he sat down.

“It was still snowing when I got up about an hour ago.” Teresa stated.

“ Good morning Teresa, Father Micheal.” Murdoch said as he walked into the kitchen. “ I’m afraid it is still snowing very hard Father.”

“ Perhaps it will stop soon.” Father Micheal stated.

“ Would you care for anything special for breakfast Father Micheal?” Teresa asked as she brought them both a cup of coffee.

“ Whatever you fix will be fine.” Father Micheal told Teresa as he took a sip of coffee. “ I’ve been meaning to ask you about the little church you have.”

“ I built that for Maria, Johnny’ mother back in 1855. Johnny was christened there because his mother didn’t want to go to town.”

Murdoch explained.

“ May I ask why she did not wish something so sacred happen in town?”

“ Maria, I’m afraid thought people in Moro Coyo did not like her. That they would say things about Johnny being christened.”

“ Because he was created out of wedlock.” Father Micheal stated, more than asked.

“ How…….?”

“ I have had a few pleasant discussions with your son. He finds it very easy to open up and talk to me.”

“ He can talk to you, a complete stranger, but he won’t talk to his own father.” Murdoch said.

“ Perhaps it is because Johnny knows I do not judge a man by mere appearance alone. I judge a man by what is in his heart. Something you struggle to do.”

“ I wish I knew why Father. He’s my own son, yet I can’t seem to get past the fact he’s killed and lives by his gun.” Murdoch responded.

“ Have you not killed to stay alive?” Father Micheal asked.

“ Yes. But that was because men were trying to take what was mine, not for money.”

“ Is it not the same with Johnny? Doesn’t he only kill men who try to take his life?”

“ Murdoch, didn’t you kill men when you were a lawman?” Teresa asked.

Murdoch glanced at her. “ Yes, but that is totally different Teresa.”

“ Why is it different? You were being paid were you not?” Father Micheal asked.

Murdoch sat there, glancing from Teresa to Father Micheal. “ Oh my………I see what you are saying no, both of you. How could I be so blind?”

“ I do not think it is so much being blind as it is not wanting to see the truth.” Father Micheal stated. “ You and Johnny are very much alike. He may not have grown up here, but in reality, I think it scares you, knowing how much your son is like you.”

“ Murdoch, how is it, you never judged Scott when he was in the war, yet you find it so easy to judge Johnny?” Teresa asked as she brought over two platters full of bacon and scrambled eggs.

“ That was a war Teresa. What Scott did is different.” Murdoch responded.

“ So you have accepted what your oldest son has done, but refuse to accept what your youngest has?”

“ I must say Father Micheal, you’re not anything like the other Padres we’ve had in Moro Coyo.”

“ My heart is pure. I have seen many pass judgment on others, when it is they who should be the one judges. Condemning a man for what he has done in his past is not our place to do.” Father Micheal stated.

“ Even those who break the law?” Murdoch asked.

“ No. Those who break the law, should pay for what they have done. Men like your son are being judged simply because others do not wish to see the good in them.”

“ Me and Scott see the good in Johnny, Father. We see how kind and caring he can be.” Teresa stated. “ Murdoch, did you know that whenever Johnny went to town, he would bring me back some licorice, or in the afternoons he would sometimes bring me a rose from the garden, telling me it was as beautiful as I was?”

“ No I didn’t know that sweetheart.” Murdoch answered.

“ Do you remember that time you chewed Johnny out  during supper for not getting a section of fence done in the south pasture? You accused him of being irresponsible and lazy.” Teresa stated. “ It was Scott who was supposed to finish that job. I know because I heard you ask Scott to do it that afternoon. You had Johnny ride up to Cedar canyon to check the fence there. When Scott tried to tell you, you angrily told him to stop defending his brother. That Johnny would have to start being responsible for his actions. And that’s not the first time you have taken it out on Johnny, for something Scott was supposed to do.”

“  Perhaps you should start searching deep down in your soul to see what others like Teresa and Scott have so easily seen?” Father Micheal suggested.

“ Maybe you should burn those Pinkerton reports you have on Johnny? I noticed you reading them again the other night.” Teresa suggested.

“ I was reading them again, trying to see what I had missed or misconstrued.” Murdoch stated.

“ Mister Lancer, there is a great achievement you can do by letting go of the past. I feel that once you can do that, your heart will be more pure and you will be able to see the errors of your way, and accept Johnny into your heart as your son.”

“ Nothing. Not one damn sign.” Johnny stated. “ It’s like they just vanished into thin air.”

“ We missed something. Let’s check the fence again.” Jake suggested.

“ We’ve checked it twice already.” Johnny stated.

“ Yeah you’re right. Let’s head back to town. Hands are going to be coming in to drink since it’s Saturday.” Jake stated. “ You know, there’s a small house at the edge of town that’s been empty for some time. It’d be better than staying at the hotel.” Jake suggested.

“ Quieter too I bet.” Johnny stated.

“ A lot. It’s at the opposite end of town from the saloon. It’s that little house behind the livery. The one that needs a coat of whitewash on it.”

“ Who owns it?” Johnny asked.

“ The bank. I’m not sure who owned it or had it built there. They would probably let you and Scott rent it for hardly anything since they’re not getting anything for it now.”

“ How come you haven’t rented it?” Johnny asked.

“ To much house for just one person.” Jake responded.

“ Well, that’s why you need to get yourself a woman to look after you and take care of you.” Johnny said with a laugh.

“ I thought about that. Not really anyone around who interest me.” Jake responded.

“ Broaden your search, or do you like being single?” Johnny asked.

“ What I do, is no life for a woman. Gone a lot of times chasing down a fugitive. I can’t ask a woman to marry me and put up with that Johnny.” Jake stated. “ It’s like you being Johnny Madrid, you can’t take a wife either.”

“ The two aren’t the same Jake.” Johnny responded.

“ I hate to break it to you buddy, but yeah they are. We both live by the gun. You get called out because you’re Johnny Madrid, and me because I wear this badge. See what I’m saying?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah, I guess I do.” Johnny answered softly.

“ Have you thought about giving it up?” Jake asked.

“ I thought I had, but you seen how that turned out.” Johnny responded.

“ Maybe you didn’t give it a chance.” Jake suggested.

“ I gave it a chance. I busted my ass every day, six days a week, and for what…….to find out he cares more about that damn land more than he did his own son.”

“ Johnny, are you sure about that?” Jake asked.

Johnny stopped his horse and played with the reins in his left hand. “ Scott told me that night.”

“ Scott, how do you feel about him?”

“ I don’t know. All my life I wanted a big brother. When I was a kid, I would see families together. You know, father, mother and their two sons. I would see them doing things together. Playing, laughing, doing things brothers did together.” Johnny said softly. “ Scott, he’s a good person. The type of person I would want for a big brother. He twas always playing the……..what do you call it………the mediator between me and Murdoch. Hell I could work my ass off sunup to sunup and it wouldn’t be good enough for the old man. I’ve taken ass chewing’ from him for stuff that wasn’t even my fault. You want to know what really hurt Jake?”

“ What?”

“ He never said I was his son with the pride in his voice like he did with Scott. He never once introduced me to others with his arm around my shoulder. Instead he always said this is my other son Johnny.”

“ I can understand how that would hurt, but did you ever ask him why?” Jake asked.

“ What’s the point. I’ll never be anything to him.”

“ So you just walk away from the best thing to ever happen to you. You know, you are a fool Johnny. I would love to have what’s been offered to you.” Jake said before Johnny galloped off.

“ Can I help you?” a lady asked as she walked out of a back room.

“ Yes ma’am. I’m looking for something special to send my sister in California. I was wondering what you have?” Scott asked.

“ Well, I have some very beautiful necklaces and bracelets. What kind of jewelry does your sister like?”

“ Well, I’m not really sure. I do know she has a pearl necklace and earrings.”

“ Do you think she would like something in the way of a necklace?”

“ She might.” Scott responded.

“ I have a beautiful necklace made from silver by the Navajo Indians. It’s called a Squash Blossom necklace. It dates back many, many years and is made from silver.” the lady said as she took out a necklace of plain round silver beads. “ They call the bigger piece at the bottom a Naja. It resembles an upside-down horseshoe.”

Scott picked up the necklace, and though plain looking, he couldn’t help but see the intricate beauty. “ It is quit exquisite. May I ask why you have jewelry made by Indians?”

“ Because their work is so exquisite. They take great pride in what they make. A man trades with them and brings me new pieces every spring.”

“ Trades with them?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. Mister……….”

“ Lancer, Scott Lancer ma’am.”

“ You must be one of the new deputies Marshal Teague hired? My name is Cora Simpson. Not all Indians are bad. Most are actually quit peaceful.”

“ What about this piece here?” Scott said as he pointed to another necklace.

“ Ah, that was also made by the Navajo. You have quit the eye for beauty.”

“ It’s Mother of Pearl isn’t it?” Scott  asked.

“ Why yes it is. It’s quit expensive I’m afraid.” Cora said as she handed Scott the necklace.

“ I believe I will take this one ma’am. Does it come with a box?”

“ Yes it does. A beautiful red velvet one, but don’t you want to know how much it is first?”

“ One thing I learned from growing up in Boston, for a lady, price does not matter.”

“ Boston. My but you’re a long ways from home. My niece went to Harvard and just came back home recently.” Cora stated. “ If you don’t mind my asking, How did such a distinguished gentleman as yourself ever end up here in Abilene, Texas?”

“Me and my brother came here with the Marshal.” Scott stated.

“ I don’t know why Marshal Teague hired that gunfighter Johnny Madrid again. If you ask me, a person like that should not be wearing a badge.”

“ How much do I owe you?” Scott asked, wanting to not hear anymore rubbish talk about his brother.

“ That will be eight dollars.” Cora said as she finished wrapping the beautiful red velvet box the necklace was in and tied a string around it.

“ Thank you.” Scott said as he pulled out some bills to pay for the necklace.

“ So how long are you and your brother going to stay in Abilene?” Cora asked as she handed Scott the package and took the money from him.

“ We haven’t decided yet.” Scott answered.

“ Perhaps you can to come to supper some time, and meet my niece?”

“ I doubt that ma’am. You see, that other deputy happens to be my brother.” Scott said before walking out.

Jake caught up to Johnny about a mile from town. “ Hey, I didn’t mean to step on any toes Johnny. If I crossed the line back there, I’m sorry.” Jake said.

“ You didn’t. Damn it Jake, why am I feeling like I should go back?” Johnny asked.

“ Because he’s your father, and it’s the right thing to do and you know it.”

“ This would have been my first Christmas with a family in ten years.” Johnny stated.

“ You have Scott, so technically it still can be. Just like if you do decide to go back to Lancer in the spring. It can be whatever you want it to be Johnny.”

“ You sound like Scott,you know that?”

“ I don’t know about that, but we do both agree that you should give it a chance.” Jake stated.

“ And if it doesn’t work?” Johnny asked.

“ You can always come back here and be my deputy.” Jake answered. “ You gonna be alright to work tonight?”

“ Yeah why?”

“ It’s the end of the month. Hands will be coming into town.” Jake stated.

“ I’ll be alright Jake. Which ranch causes the most trouble?”

“ That would be the Clemons crew. You remember them? They like to come in to town shooting their guns off, scaring the towns folks half to death. They mean no harm mostly, but a few of them like to start trouble when they get a few drinks in them.”

“ Yeah, I remember that bunch. Had a tussle with the foreman I think it was.” Johnny stated.

“ That be the bunch. How good is Scott? I mean, he handled himself pretty good against those Apaches, but how is he with drunken cowhands?” Jake asked.

“Did pretty good in Green River once against two hands from the Conway ranch. Why?”

“ They got a new foreman, big fella, from back east or something from the way he talks.”

“ How big?” Johnny asked.

“ Bought like your old man big. I’ve dealt with him when he’s sober. He’s an alright guy, but if he gets drunk and decides to start a fight, it’ll take all three of us possibly to corral him.” Jake said as they rode up to the jail.

“ Any luck?” Scott asked as he walked outside the office.

“ Nope. Nothing. Not one damn track.” Jake said as he stepped up onto the boardwalk. “ How’s it been here?”

“ It’s been quiet. I walked around town and introduced myself to a lot of the store owners.”

“ That’s good.” Jake said as the three walked inside the office. “ It won’t be quiet in a couple hours.”

“ A couple of hours?” Scott asked.

“ Saturday night, and end of the month. The cowhands will be coming into town to gamble, drink and have a good time. Most of them are harmless, but a few like to cause trouble.” Jake stated as he removed his hat and hung it on a peg by the door. “ Yeah. There’s one ranch, the Clemons crew, they got themselves a few troublemakers I have to deal with regularly. They got a foreman, big fella, likes to start fights when he’s liquored up good.”

“ Why don’t we go get some dinner before the fun starts then?” Scott suggested.

“ Murdoch, I’m sorry if I spoke out of turn telling Father Micheal what I did last night.” Teresa said as she sat in the blue chair and worked on her needlepoint.

Murdoch looked up from his desk. “ No, you didn’t sweetheart. You pointed something out I wasn’t even aware I had done.” he stated. “ I can see now why my son thinks I don’t want him here.”

Teresa put her needlepoint down.  “ You want him here. It’s just that you’re afraid to have him here. Johnny scares you.”

“ He doesn’t scare me.” Murdoch retorted. “ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get angry at you. Have you thought about what you would like for your birthday?” he asked.

“ You already got me that beautiful fabric.” Teresa responded.

“ Yes I did. How’s the dress coming?” he asked.

“ It’s almost done……..I wish the boys would be here for Christmas.”

“ I know darling. So do I.” Murdoch added.

“ It’s getting late. I think I’ll turn in now.” Teresa said as she put her needlepoint in the basket and set it on the floor next to the chair, and stood up. “ Try not to stay up to late.” Teresa said as she walked over and gave the big man a hug.

Murdoch glanced at the clock and seen it was getting late. “ I will. I just have something I need to do, then I’ll go to bed. It shouldn’t take to long.”

“ Alright. Goodnight.”

“ Goodnight sweetheart.” Murdoch said back as he unlocked the bottom drawer of his desk and took out his journal.

November 22nd, 1872

The boys have been gone four months now. Last word received they were okay was so long ago. Teresa and I miss them so much. I can’t help but wonder if my youngest will come back home, or have I lost him forever. Only time will tell. I see the pain in Teresa’ eyes as Christmas gets closer, knowing that neither Scott, nor Johnny will be here to celebrate it with us. Both my boys have grown up to be fine young men, men I’m very proud of.

Murdoch sat back and reread what he had just written. ‘ Proud of ‘ if he was proud of the man his youngest had become, then why couldn’t he tell him that? Why did it have to be so hard for him to talk to Johnny, like he talked to Scott?

“ That was a fine meal Marcy. Thank you.” Jake said as he leaned back in his chair.

“ Well, I’m glad you liked it Marshal. How about you two, was your meals okay?” she asked.

“ Yes ma’am.” Johnny answered.

“ The steak and potatoes were very good ma’am.” Scott added.

“ Why don’t you two call me Marcy? Calling me ma’am makes me feel old.” Marcy stated as she picked up their plates. “ Can I get you gentlemen anything else? A piece of pie maybe?”

“ No, just some coffee will do Marcy.” Jake answered.

“ Coming right up.” Marcy said before taking the dirty dishes to the back.

“ Pretty gal.” Scott stated. “ I couldn’t help but notice her looking at you mostly every time she came to our table.” stated.

“ Yeah, I noticed that too.” Jake added. “ I think she might like you.”

Marcy came back with coffee and a piece of pie for Johnny. “ I hope you like apple pie. I made it fresh this afternoon.” she said as she set the plate down in front of him.

Johnny glanced at Jake and Scott. “ Thank you, Marcy.” Johnny said.

“ So Jake, where did you find these two deputies?” she asked as she poured coffee.

“ California.” Jake responded.

“ They help you bring the man that killed Maggie’s husband back?” she asked.

“ Some. This is Scott, and Johnny Lancer.” Jake said. “ They’re helping me out through the winter.”

“ Through the winter, and then what, you two going back to California?” Marcy asked.

“ We haven’t decided yet.” Scott stated. “ Have we brother?”

“ Brother. You two don’t look like brothers.”

“ Same father, different mothers.” Jake stated.

“ Our father married twice.” Scott said.

“ I bet you have your mothers eyes.” Marcy said. “ Well, I better get back to work now. Maybe I’ll see you later on, Johnny.” Marcy stated

“ What time do you get off work?” Jake asked.

“ Jake, you know the cafe closes at ten.” she responded, never taking her eyes off Johnny.

“ Maybe the young lady would like you to escort her home Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ I’d like that. That is if you’re not to busy. I don’t want to take you away from your work on a Saturday night.”

“ I think I can spare him long enough to walk you home Marcy.” Jake stated.

“  I’ll see you then.” Marcy said before turning and walking away.

“ Damn Johnny. You realize how many guys in this town have tried to escort her home, or take her out?” Jake asked.

“ No. Look, don’t go trying to fix me up with a nice girl like that Jake. You know as well as I do, the minute she finds out who I am, she’ll want nothing to do with me.” Johnny snapped back.

“ She already does know who you are.” Scott cut in. “ Why don’t you give her a chance? She just might fool you little brother.”

“ And if she finds out I’m Johnny Madrid?”

“ You’ve been in town a couple days now. I bet she already knows that. Look, Marcy is a good person. Her parents were killed on the way here from Arkansas. Army found her and brought her here to Abilene. She stays at the Minot boarding house. She works there helping out in exchange for room and board. and works here Friday and Saturday nights.”

“ Excuse me Marshal, but I asked to give your deputy this note.” the waiter said as he handed the note to Johnny.

“ Thank you.” Johnny said as he opened the note and read it.

You don’t look like a dangerous gunfighter to me.

Johnny smiled a little as he folded the note up and put it in his pocket.

“ Must be from Marcy.” Jake said.

“ Everything alright Johnny?” Scott asked.

“  Yeah, everything’s fine. Let’s get out of here.” he said as he stood up.

“ You gonna tell me what was in the note?” Jake asked as him and Johnny walked toward the saloon later that evening.

“ Said I don’t look like a dangerous gunfighter to her.” Johnny responded.

“ Then she knows who you are, and is still interested in you. I say give her a chance. Escort her back to the boarding house tonight and ask her if she would like to go for a ride tomorrow since it’s Sunday.”

“ I don’t know Jake. I’d hate for her to get hurt.” Johnny responded.

“ Look, you have at least four months, if not five, before you leave here. Make the most of it. Live a little. Marcy is interested in you, so go for it buddy.” Jake said with a slap on the back as they walked up to the saloon doors and looked inside.

“ That’s him. The big one at the table in the corner with his back to us playing poker.” Jake said.

“ Clemons crew foreman?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah. Why don’t go in and have a beer and make your presence known and I’ll finish checking the doors on this side and come back?” Jake suggested.

“ Why don’t you go in and have a beer and I’ll finish checking the doors?” Johnny said with a laugh.

“ Because I’m the boss.” Jake said as he turned to walk away.

“ You’re an asshole Jake.” Johnny said before pushing the bat-winged doors open and walking inside. Some of the customers glanced at him, others paid him no mind as he started slowly walking around the saloon, and stopping at the back poker table. Johnny just stood there, not moving, watching the man dealing the cards.

“ Mister, I don’t like bottom dealers.” Clint said as he stood up.

“ I suggest you let it drop to the floor.” Johnny said, causing Clint to spin around.

“ Just who the hell do you think you are?” Clint demanded.

Johnny moved his coat just enough, so Clint could see the badge. “ You, stand up real slow and walk on around here.” Johnny ordered the dealer.

“ He was cheating us.” Clint said.

“ I know he was. I seen him palm two cards off the bottom of the deck. I figure you fellas can divvy  up that there money amongst yourselves since this here fella was cheating you.” Johnny suggested. “ You, lets go.”

Johnny walked out of the saloon just as Jake and Scott came up. “ What’s going on?” Jake asked.

“ Palming.” Johnny answered.

“ Scott, why don’t you take this man over and lock him up.” Jake suggested.

“ I can lock him up.” Johnny said.

“ I know you can, but it’s almost ten o’clock.” Jake responded.

“ I got it Johnny.” Scott said. “ Lets go you.”

“ Wasn’t he at the table with Clint?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah. I’ll see ya in a bit.” Johnny said as he started to walk away.

“ No hurry. Me and Scott can handle it.” Jake responded.

Marcy walked out of the back of the kitchen area and stopped. “ Right on time.” she said as she removed her shawl from the hook on the wall and wrapped it around her shoulders.

“ You said ten o’clock.” Johnny responded.

“ Yes I did. Shall we.”

Johnny opened the door and let Marcy step outside first.

“ Pretty quiet for a Saturday night.” Marcy stated as she adjusted her shawl.

“ Yes ma’am. Just the way Jake likes it.” Johnny responded.

“ I seen you before you know, when you were here last time helping Jake out when he got shot. That was a very nice thing you did for him.” Marcy said as they walked along.

“ Jake’ a good man. He’s like a brother to me.”

“ Have you known him long?”

“ Since we were kids at an orphanage in Mexico.”

“ The reason I knew who you are is because when you left, I asked Jake about you. Course you didn’t know me.”

“ I don’t remember seeing you in the cafe back then.”

“ That’s because I was only fourteen. I attended school and worked at the boarding house until last year when I could start working at the cafe helping out on Friday and Saturday evenings.” Marcy explained. “ I finally got big enough they said.” she added with a laugh. “ So tell me about you.”

“ Not much to tell really.”

“ You don’t like talking about yourself much do you?” Marcy stated.

“ Let’s just say, there’s some things a lady shouldn’t hear about.” Johnny responded.

“ What about your mother, is she back in California?”

“ My mother was killed when I was seven. She took me away from my old man when I was a baby.”

“ Your brother Scott, did he grow up with your father in California?”

“ No. His mother died giving birth to him. His grandfather raised him back in Boston. He had only been at Lancer a year or so when I showed up.”

“ That’s terrible. She never got to see or hold her son.” Marcy said. “ My parents died on the way here from Arkansas. The union army found me and brought me here to Abilene when I was thirteen. Mr and Mrs Reed were kind enough to take me in and raise me. Personally, I think they did it because they were getting up there in age and needed the help with keeping the place clean for the customers.” Marcy stated. “ I don’t mind though. Mr Reed passed away last year, so it’s just been the two of us running the place. She’s talked about selling it and going back east to live with her sister.”

“ They didn’t have any children of their own?”

“ They had a daughter, but she died when she was a baby.”

“ So why did your family leave Arkansas and come to Texas?”

“ My father wanted to be a rancher. He said Texas had a lot of land and cattle would be needed to feed settlers moving west.” Marcy explained. “ Can I ask you something Johnny?”

“ Sure.”

“ How old are you?”

“ Seventeen. Why?”

“ You’re only a year older than me. When is your birthday?”

“ December twenty third. Yours?”

“ April seventh.” Marcy answered as they reached the boarding house, and stepped up onto the porch.“ Well, this is me. Thank you for escorting me home. I had a lovely time talking to you.”

“ So did I.”

“ Johnny, Sunday is the only day I get off. Would you care to go for a ride with me? I know of a really nice spot along the river that has steep canyon walls. There’s even a cave if the weather turns bad on us. We could have a picnic.”

“ I’d like that. What time should I come by?”

“ Say around eleven.” Marcy suggested.

“ I’ll be here.” Johnny answered. “ Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Marcy could tell Johnny was nervous about something. Stepping closer, she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. “ Till tomorrow.” she said softly before stepping back and opening the door to step inside.

Johnny stood there, relishing in the feel of her kiss on his cheek for several seconds after Marcy had went inside. Wanting to kiss her, he thought better of it, since she was a lady and this was only their first time alone together. Leaving the porch, heading back to the office, Johnny really looked forward to tomorrow.

“ Pretty quiet for a Saturday night.” Scott stated.

“ Yeah. Only four arrest, and three of them drunks. Should make the Mayor happy.” Jake responded.

“ The Mayor?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah. Didn’t I tell you and Johnny, we get two dollars and fifty cents for every arrest we make on Friday and Saturday nights.” Jake said.

“ I thought we were only to take our due pay as deputies?” Scott asked.

“ It’s not extortion money if that’s what you’re thinking Scott. It’s civil servant pay from the town. We only get paid for Friday and Saturday nights arrest.” Jake explained. “ You know, I can’t believe Clint Anderson, backed down from Johnny like he did. From what I was told, he was ready to kill that fella we have locked up for bottom dealing.”

“ What name did you say?” Scott asked.

“ Clint Anderson, he’s the foreman of the Clemons crew. Why?” Jake asked.

“ I knew a Clint Anderson during the war. He was in my unit.” Scott stated.

“ Big fella?” Jake asked.

“ Taller than me.” Scott answered.

“ How well did you and him get along?” Jake asked.

“ Okay. He was a good man in the war. Dependable, would get right into the thick of the fighting without a seconds hesitation. Saved a couple men’s lives.”

“ So I don’t have to worry about any trouble between the two of you then?” Jake asked.

“ Shouldn’t be. He may not even remember me.” Scott said as the door opened and Johnny walked in. “ Hey little brother. Didn’t expect you back so soon. Did you get Marcy home alright?”

“ Yeah. I got tomorrow off Jake?”

“ Yeah. Why?”

“ Marcy  wants to go riding.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a cup of coffee.

“ Fine with me. Tomorrow’s Sunday. Scott and me can handle things around here……It seems your brother here knows Clint.” Jake said.

“ The foreman?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah. Hey listen, how did you keep him from drawing last night?”

“ Was standing behind him. I seen that fella bottom dealing before he did. When he accused him of it and stood up, I let him know it was a bad mistake, besides I already had my gun out. He backed down easy enough once I told him they could divide up the pot.” Johnny told them.

“ He must not have been too drunk, because he usually gives me a fit whenever I try to arrest him or break up a fight he started.”

“ No, he wasn’t drunk. Hell I would be pissed off too if someone I was playing cards with decided to cheat.”

“ So you and Marcy are going riding tomorrow huh?” Scott asked. “ Want some company?”

“ Not from you I don’t. Marcy’ company will be enough.”

“ I believe she’s close to your age Johnny.” Jake chimed in.

“ Look, we’re just going for a ride tomorrow.”

“ Just be careful were you go riding at. Remember this is Indian country.” Jake stated.

“ She said something about a place along the river she knew about that has steep canyon walls with a cave we could go in if the weather turns bad she said.”

“ Yeah, I know that place. Talk about beauty. That spot is out of place in this area. Unless you know about it, you’ll ride right past the entrance and never find it. It looks like a cliff wall and nothing more, but the entrance is there. I think Carl Reed, her stepfather showed her the place. The river never freezes over there. A person could live in that cave all winter it’s so big. Hell you can’t even tell if someone has a fire it’s that big. I don’t know how far back in it goes though, never got brave enough to see.” Jake told them.

“ You afraid of a cave Jake?” Scott asked.

“ No, just what lives in a cave.” Jake responded.

“ He means bats.” Johnny said.

“ Damn right I mean bats. It ain’t normal for a mouse to have wings and fly.”

“ They hibernate in the winter Jake.” Scott stated.

“ I don’t care if they hibernate or not. It ain’t normal for a mouse to have wings.”

“ You want me to take watch tonight?” Johnny asked between laughs.

“ No. You and Scott go get some sleep. You both did good. I’ll see you in the morning.” Jake answered.

“ Alright. See you in the morning.” Johnny responded as he opened the door and walked out with Scott.

“  So were do you know Clint from?” Johnny asked as the brothers entered their hotel room.

“ The war. He was in my unit.” Scott responded. “ I want to show you what I got Teresa for Christmas.”

Scott pulled his saddlebags out from under the bed, and took the red velvet box out, and handed it to Johnny.

Johnny took the box and opened it. “ Wow. Teresa is going to love that.”

“ I hope so.” Scott said as he sat down on his bed and removed his boots. “ Listen Johnny, I wouldn’t go in the store were I bought that if I was you.”

“  I already know all about Cora Simpson, Scott. She made it clear when I was here last time that she don’t like my kind. People like her, I don’t let bother me.” Johnny responded.

“ Well it bothers me little brother. People are so quick to judge a man out here purely on rumors without knowing anything about the person, and that’s not right.’

“ It is what it is Scott. Hell, look at Murdoch, he did it.” Johnny responded as he handed the box back to him. “ I’ve had to deal with hate all my life because I have a Mexican mother and a gringo father.”

“ And you shouldn’t have to Johnny.” Scott stated as he stood up to take his shirt and pants off. “ So, you like Marcy?”

“ I don’t know. She’s different from other women I know.” Johnny answered.

“ She seems like a really nice girl. You know Jake told me that on Friday and Saturday nights we get paid a dollar for every arrest we make.”

“ Did you know that the town of Dodge City, Kansas is paying Chief Deputy Marshal Wyatt Earp two hundred and fifty dollars a month to keep the law in that cow town.”

“ That’s a lot of money. Isn’t Dodge City were most of the trail drives go?” Scott asked as he climbed in bed.

“ Yeah, there and Abilene, Kansas.” Johnny stated as he removed his shirt and pants and climbed in under the covers.”

“ Johnny, can I ask you something?”

“ Sure.”

“ We’re staying here until spring right? Have you given any thought to if this thing between you and Marcy gets serious, what you’re going to do?”

“ Hell Scott, I just met her tonight.” Johnny responded.

“ I know, but say things do get serious. Have you given any thought on what you will do?”

“ I’m not going to marry her if that’s what you mean Scott. Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter takes on a wife and six months later leaves her a widow. That’s no life for someone like Marcy.”

“ What about as Johnny Lancer?”

“ He died the day my mother took me away from Lancer.”

“ Now see, that’s where you’re wrong Johnny. He’s still alive. You just have to want to bring him back.” Scott said before turning onto his side, facing away from his brother.

Chapter 6 Research Notes


Chapter 7

Johnny picked Marcy up at eleven o’clock sharp. The livery man knew Marcy and had quickly saddled the horse she always liked to ride on Sundays, a big flashy palomino mare with a mane and tail as white as a sheet and a coat that shined like gold. Riding along, Johnny couldn’t help but think about what his brother had asked him about his intentions with Marcy in the future.

“ It’s a beautiful day for a ride, don’t you think Johnny?” Marcy asked.

“ Yeah. Clouds to the west get here it wont be though.”

“ That’s okay. Where I’m taking you, we’ll be fine if the weather turns bad. Mrs Reed knows were I went. I always go there to think. I even go swimming there sometimes.” Marcy told him as they rode down into a wash. “ That stallion you’re riding, is he a mustang?”

“ Yeah. He’s a Modoc mustang. I don’t really own him. I saved his life once down in Mexico and we’ve been best friends ever since.” Johnny told her.

“ I just love this mare. I want to buy her, but the man at the livery wants a hundred dollars for her.”

“ That’s a lot of money for a horse. She is a beauty though. Her coat shines like gold in the sun. She got a name?” Johnny asked.

“ Arabella. It’s Latin and means Beautiful Altar.” Marcy stated as she guided the mare around a huge boulder that from a distance looked like it was part of the the cliff wall. “ Does he have a name?”

“ Nope. Never really thought about giving him one.” Johnny said as they rode through the winding narrow canyon. The cliff walls getting taller and taller as they rode along.

“ We’re here.” Marcy said as she stopped her horse. “ Isn’t it beautiful here?” she asked.

Johnny came up beside her and took in the beauty before him. The river flowing past had to be the clearest water he’d ever seen. He could see the rocks out in the middle and fish swimming. The different shades of reds and pinks in the canyon walls alone were like no others he had seen. “ This place is remarkable Marcy.” Johnny said as got down from the stallion and dropped his reins, and went over and helped Marcy down.

“ Thank you.” Marcy said, just mere inches from his face. “ The cave is back behind that small stand of trees over there.” she said as she stared into Johnny’ blue eyes. “ Were would you like to have the picnic at?” she asked.

Johnny stood there, not moving, just staring into Marcy’ brown eyes. “ Wherever you want to have it at is fine with me.” he finally said.

“ Good, you get the saddlebags and I’ll  spread the blanket out over there by that downed cottonwood tree.”

“ Okay.” Johnny said as he got the saddlebags off her horse and walked over.

“ Thank you. Do you always wear that?” Marcy asked, looking at his gun.

“ Unless I’m asleep or in a bath.” Johnny answered. “ I can take it off if you like.”

“ Only if you feel comfortable doing so.” Marcy stated. “ I hope you like fried chicken and biscuits. I made them fresh early this morning.”

“ You did all this early this morning?” Johnny asked as he removed his gun belt and laid it on the downed tree near him.

“ Yes. We couldn’t very well have a picnic with no food.”

“ I’ll be right back.” Johnny said as he went to his horse, and removed his saddlebags, and walked back over. “ I brought a bottle of brandy. I don’t know if you’ve ever had it. Thought it might be good to take the slight chill off.”

“ I’ve never had it, but Mister Reed would drink it sometimes. He said there’s nothing better than a good brandy after eating a good meal.”

“ Can I ask, what your family did back in Arkansas?” Johnny asked as he sat down on the blanket and poured two small  glasses of brandy, and handed her one. “ Just sip it.” he told her as he leaned back against the tree trunk.

“ Thank you. My father ran a feed store and my mother was the school teacher. My father had been saving up for a long time to move us out west.” Marcy told him s she placed some chicken and biscuits on a napkin and handed it to him. “ Sorry I don’t have any plates.”

“ Thank you. That’s alright.”

“ Your brother Scott, he seems like a really nice person.” Marcy said as she moved over next to Johnny.

“This place is beautiful. How come you brought me here?” Johnny asked. He could faintly smell her perfume and couldn’t help but notice how well her trousers fit her, showing off her curves. The blouse not too loose, yet snug enough in all the right places.

“ I knew you wouldn’t feel comfortable someplace else, out in the open, so I had us come here. There’s only one way in and one way out.”

Johnny laughed slightly as he ate the chicken. “ You’re a very good cook.”

“ Thank you. Mrs Reed taught me. She’s such a nice lady.” Marcy responded.

Johnny and Marcy stayed at the cave talking and just enjoying the beautiful November day.

“ I guess we should head back now before it gets dark.” Marcy suggested.

Johnny helped Marcy get on her horse, then swung up on the stallion. Just as the sun was setting behind the hills, Johnny and Marcy rode up to the boarding house.

“ I really enjoyed today Marcy.” Johnny said as he got down.

“ So did I. Maybe we can do this again?” Marcy asked as she got down and handed her reins to Johnny.

“ As long as Jake lets me have Sundays off, I’d sure like to do this again with you.” Johnny said.

“ Well, I better get inside and help Mrs Reed with supper for the boarders.” Marcy said.

Johnny stood there watching her go inside before swinging up in the saddle and taking the horses back to the livery.

“ Morning boys. The Carter ranch got hit again last night. Except this time we got a break. One of the rustlers was shot. He’s at the docs now.” Jake stated.

“ Will he live?” Johnny asked.

“ He’ll live. As soon as the doc says, we can talk to him.” Jake responded.

“ You think he’ll tell us what we want to know?” Scott asked.

“ He will if he doesn’t want to hang. Let’s head down there and see.” Jake suggested.

“ You know who it is?” Johnny asked.

“ No. One of the hands from the Carter ranch came in late last night and told me they caught him and he was at docs.” Jake answered.

“ You seeing Marcy again tonight brother?” Scott asked as the three walked out of the office and headed to the docs.

“ Yeah, why?”

“ No reason. You’ve been seeing a lot of her lately.” Jake stated.

“ That’s what a person does if they like someone Jake, they see them.” Johnny snapped back.

“ Wow, I think someone might be getting a little defensive.” Scott said.

“  I’m not getting defensive. I’m……….”

“ I think they call it love, Johnny. I do believe like it or not, you are in love with Marcy.” Jake said as they reached the doctors office.  

“ She’s a damn nice girl Johnny. I’m happy for you.”

“ So am I little brother. You deserve this.” Scott added.

Jake opened the door and stepped inside. “ Hey doc. I need to talk to your patient.”

“  Alright. He has a shoulder wound. Bullet went clean through. You can take him to jail if you want. His wound isn’t bad enough he needs to stay here.” the doctor said. “ He’s in the back. If you don’t mind, I’m going to go get me some breakfast now.”

“ Sure doc. Thanks.”

“ Doc this is…….”

“ I remember Johnny. It’s been a while.” Doc Williams said as he shook hands with Johnny. “ I know of a certain young lady in town who thinks very highly of you.”

“ Feelings mutual doc.” Johnny responded. “ This is my brother Scott Lancer.”

“ Scott, it’s a pleasure. It seems a lot has happened for you since you were here last. You look good. Come by when you can and catch me up. I’ll see you later Jake.”

Jake walked into the back room and stopped. “ Well, I’ll be damned. Johnny, Scott, come on back here and see who we have.”

Johnny and Scott walked back to the room. Laying on the bed with his right arm in a sling was Clint Anderson, the foreman for the Clemons crew.

“ Well if it isn’t a small world. Let’s go Clint, I’m placing you under arrest for rustling cattle from the Carter ranch. Stand up.”

Clint sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bed. “ Lieutenant Lancer isn’t it?” he asked as he stood up.

“ It was.” Scott responded.

“ You got sent to Andersonville prison I heard. Glad to see you made it out of that hell hole alive.”

“ Let’s go Clint.” Jake ordered.

“ A lot of good men died in that hell hole. Including my brother.” Clint stated as he started walking out of the room.

“ I wasn’t aware you had a brother fighting in the war also. Who’s unit was he in?” Scott asked.

“ 43rd Battalion Virginia Calvary.” Clint responded as they walked outside and headed toward the jail.

“ Mosby’s Raiders.” Scott said.

“ Commander John S. Mosby, That man made it harder than hell to catch. He eluded the Union Army by blending in with the local farmers and townsmen.” Jake stated.

“ That be the one.” Clint said.

“ So what made you start stealing cattle?” Johnny asked.

“ Money. Carter’ ranch was getting bigger and she had all those cows. I didn’t think she would miss a couple hundred calves.” Clint responded. “ Damn woman has no business running a ranch. That’s a mans job.”

Jake grabbed Clint by his left arm and spun him around. “ Let me tell you something, that woman watched her husband be murdered in front of her. She took what he left her and doubled it in size because she knows what she’s doing. Her being a woman has no bearing on the fact that you rustled her cattle and will hang for it.”

“ Where you have the cattle hidden at Clint?” Scott asked as they walked into the jail.

“ I tell you where they’re at, what do I get in return?” Clint asked.

“ That will be up to the judge.”

“ What the hell, my life’s over anyway. They’re in a box canyon on the Clemons ranch at Phantom Hill.” Clint said as he walked into his cell.

“ How many other men from the Clemons crew were in on it and who are they?” Jake asked as he closed the cell door and locked it.

“ Six of us total that did the rustling.” Clint answered.

“ Did old man Clemons know you were doing it?” Jake asked.

“ Hell no. That old man would kill me for sure if he knew I was rustling her cattle.”

“ Who were you rustling them for?”

“ Nobody.”

“ Don’t lie to me. There’s always a big fish at the top. Now who is it?”

“ You, you’re that deputy in the saloon that night?  The one who arrested that man for double dealing?” Clint asked.

“ Yeah I am.” Johnny responded.

“ What’s your name?” Clint asked.

Johnny loved seeing the shock on peoples faces when they didn’t know who he was and asked. “ Madrid, Johnny Madrid.”

“ The gunfighter?” Clint asked.

“ The one and only.” Jake responded. “ Now who the hell were you stealing the cattle for?”

“ Why don’t you ask your good Mayor that?  He’s the one I dealt with. The one who told us when to steal the cattle.”

“ Our Mayor Corley is one of the people behind the rustling of cattle from the Carter ranch?”

“ Hers ain’t the only ranch we’ve rustled from. Before we started hitting her ranch, we were rustling cattle from over by San Angelo. We hit two different ranches over there in one night. Took almost two hundred head of prime beef. Changed the brands and the good Mayor had some men he hired drive them up to to Wichita Falls and sold them.”

“ How do we know you’re telling us the truth?” Scott asked.

“ I may be a lot of things, but a liar I’m not. I got nothing to lose telling you the truth.” Clint snapped back. “ Look,I know I cause trouble when I get drunk, but that’s all in fun Marshal. I ain’t never killed nobody, and  I know stealing those cattle was wrong and I did it anyway.”

“ Mrs Carter said one of her hands was killed a few weeks ago by men stealing her cattle.” Jake stated.

“ That wasn’t me Marshal, honest.” Clint pleaded.

“ The law don’t see it that way. You rode with those others and one of you killed that hand, so you’re just as guilty as the one who did kill him.” Jake stated. “ I’ll have some food brought over for you from the cafe later. Let one of us know if that shoulder gets to hurtin you to much and one of us will fetch the doc.” Jake said before walking out to the office.

“ Scott, you have to believe me. I never murdered anyone. I wouldn’t kill someone over cattle that weren’t even mine to begin with.”

Clint pleaded.

Scott looked at Johnny, just standing there in the door listening. “ The Clint Anderson I knew was a good man. He wouldn’t go stealing cows, but like someone taught me, people can change. Some for the good and others for the bad.” Scott stated before walking out.

“ What about you Madrid? You think putting that badge on will change you?” Clint demanded. “ Well it won’t. Once a gunfighter, always a gunfighter.”

“ That may be, but I never crossed the line and murdered anyone.” Johnny responded.

“ It’s no different if you hire that gun you wear out in a range war.” Clint snapped back. “ You’re just as guilty as I am.”

“ Big difference. See, I only hired my gun out to the man who was in the right, and I never killed anyone unless they left me no choice. You, you killed just so you could steal something that wasn’t yours to take.” Johnny said before walking out and closing the door to the cells.

“ You know I was talking about you Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ I kinda figured that. I learned a long time ago, you never really know someone. Look at Isham, we rode together, yet he tried to kill me.

 You can’t control what a man does Scott. I know he was in your unit and a good man you said during the war, but something changed him after the war. It changed a lot of men.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t know that man in there.” Scott said before walking out.

“  You’re lucky to have a brother like that.” Jake said.

“ Yeah. I am.” Johnny said. “ So, how do you want to handle the Mayor?” he asked.

“ I don’t know. We have no proof. Just the word of a cattle rustler who could be saying that just to save his hide.” Jake answered.

“ I don’t think he’s lying Jake. Like he said, he’s got nothing to lose, but everything to gain telling us the truth.”

“ You mean going to prison instead of hanging?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah. If you were in his place, wouldn’t you?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah, I guess I would. Not much I can do for him though since someone got killed.” Jake responded. “  You plan on breeding that stallion of yours?” Jake asked.

“ No, why?” Johnny asked.

“I was told you bought a real nice palomino  mare from the livery. I know a certain young lady who really likes that mare.”

“ Yeah I did. She’s a Christmas present for Marcy.”

“ You know. If you and Scott leave here in the spring, I got a feeling she’s going to go with you. Have you thought  about that?”

“ Yeah I have Jake. I can’t explain how she makes me feel when I’m with her. She’s different than the other women I’ve been with.”

“ I know it’s none of my business, but have you two been together yet?” Jake asked.

“ If you mean have I slept with her yet? The answer is no.” Johnny answered.

“ No. That don’t sound like you. You’ve been seeing her a month now. What’s wrong?”

“ Nothing’s wrong. I want to, it’s just that I’m not sure she wants to.”

“ So you’re waiting for her to maybe indicate that she does is that it?”

“ Yeah. I mean hell, what am I supposed to do, rent a room at the hotel?”

“ Well actually you could. You can tell Scott you’re tired of his snoring and want your own room. I don’t think Mrs Reed is going to allow the two of you to sleep together in her boarding house unless you’re married.”

“No, I don’t see her letting us either.” Johnny responded as the door opened and Scott walked back in. “ Were’d you go brother?”

“ I was about halfway to the Mayors office when I realized we have no proof he’s involved yet.”

“ Don’t worry. Busting that little bastard is going to be a pleasure.” Jake stated. “ We’ll get the proof we need.”

Johnny and Marcy stole every minute they could to be together. Every Sunday they sat and talked. Johnny found it easier than he ever thought telling her about his past, the abuse he endured in the orphanage, what happened to drive him away from Lancer and how he was realizing what a mistake it was. This Sunday just a few days from Christmas, Johnny had Marcy come to his room to have lunch.

“ Did you hear what happened?” Marcy asked as she walked over to the table and sat down.

“ No, what happened?”

“ Someone bought Arabella yesterday. I asked who and he said he couldn’t tell me. That it was a private sale.”

“ I’m sure she went to a good person.” Johnny said.

“ I know. It’s just that, riding her, I felt so alive.” Marcy explained. “ This is nice Johnny.”

“ It’s nothing like your fried chicken, but we’re out of the weather.” Johnny said.

“ It feels like it could snow.” Marcy stated.

“ So what’s your plans?” Johnny asked as he brought over two plates of roast beef and potatoes with biscuits.

“Smells delicious. Thank you. What do you mean?” Marcy asked.

“ Do you plan on staying in Abilene, or going someplace else to live?”

“ I haven’t really thought about it. I do know, I don’t want to stay here. There’s nothing here for me really. I just haven’t thought about where I want to go.”

“ Why not?”

“ I guess because it takes money I don’t have.”

“ If you had the chance, would you leave here?”

“ And go were?” Marcy asked.

“ Back to California with me and Scott.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over and picked up the bottle of brandy and came back over to the table, sat down, and poured them both some.

“ You know Johnny, I don’t know if I can go all the way to California with a man who hasn’t made one pass at me.” Marcy said with a smile. “ I mean, that’s a huge change for a girl to make.”

Johnny stood up and walked around to Marcy and held out his hand. When she put hers in his, he gently pulled her up and into his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. “ Marcy, I’ve never felt like I do with you before. I’ve wanted to be with you romantically, but didn’t want to scare you away, or have you think that was all I wanted from you.” Johnny explained. “ I’ve never been in love until now, and I guess it scares me a little.”

“ Johnny, I’ve been in love with you ever since that first date we had. You could never do anything to make me think all you wanted from me was that, because I know better. I can tell when you kiss me you’re holding back.” Marcy said as she stepped closer and put her arms around his neck. “ Right now, the only thing that would make me mad at you is if you didn’t kiss me like you really want to.” Marcy said as she brought her lips up to meet his.

Johnny brought his lips down and gently started kissing Marcy as the fire and passion started burning deep down inside. He was glad he had listened to Jake and gotten a room for himself. Scott had a pretty good idea why his brother had wanted a room to himself and grinned when Johnny  removed his belongings from their shared room to across the hall.

Marcy could feel her heart racing as never before feelings started. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she kissed Johnny, tongues intertwined. Moaning, Marcy let her hands roam up and down Johnny’ chest, slipping just inside his shirt enough to feel the hair on his chest.

Johnny could feel the heat starting to build, the hunger to have Marcy as his. He knew he would be her first, and desperately fought to keep himself in check. This wasn’t a saloon girl. No, this was someone he found he loved being with in more ways than one. Someone who understood him, knew who he was, yet didn’t care about that. All she cared about was spending time with him every chance she could. Breaking off the kiss, Johnny stood there, running his hands up and down her arms as he tried to slow his breathing down. “ You’re incredible.” he managed to say as he ran a hand down the left side of her face.

“ You sure know how to take a girls breath away.” Marcy said as she started to unbutton his shirt.

Johnny stood there, not offering to stop her. He wanted this to be her decision and her decision alone on what happened now. “ I’ve wanted to kiss you like that for so long now.” he said as he reached down and pulled his shirt out of his pants.

“ So why didn’t you before now?” Marcy asked as she undid the last button and pushed his shirt off his shoulders to the floor, and ran her hands up and down his chest, flicking at his nipples, smiling at the effect it had on him.

Johnny closed his eyes and relished in the feelings Marcy was causing him to have. Reaching out he let his hands touch her breast, and loved how just touching her caused her breathing to deepen. Carefully he started to undo the buttons on the front of her dress as her hands roamed lower.

“ Can I have you?” he asked as he undid just enough buttons, he could push her dress down off her shoulders, revealing her firm breast. When Marcy reached up and pulled him down into a hot passionate kiss, Johnny knew she was his. Kissing her back as he guided her to the bed and stopped just long enough to take his pants off as Marcy removed her undergarment and climbed in bed, waiting for him.

Johnny climbed in bed with Marcy and cupped her face in his hands. “ I love you.” he said before claiming her mouth with passion.

“ We got a letter from Scott today.” Murdoch said as Teresa walked into the room.

“ We did. How are they?” she asked as she walked over to his desk.

Murdoch and Teresa

We arrived in Abilene. Buck Addison was killed by Apaches in New Mexico. Jake swore us both in as deputies to help out through the winter. Abilene is a nice town. It rains a lot in the winter here. Jake said it does snow, but nothing like I’m used to. Bout like Green River. Main excitement is on Friday and Saturday nights when the cowhands come into town. Nothing serious though. Just the usual drunks. Johnny is doing good. He met a very nice girl, and believe it or not, she accepts that he is a gunfighter, and his past. I must say, I have noticed a change in him since he started seeing this girl. He is more relaxed, and even laughs and jokes with me and Jake a lot. Marcy is a very sweet young lady whom I feel you will get along with quit well Teresa. She is about Johnny’ age I believe. As it stands, Johnny has decided to come back to Lancer. We plan to leave Abilene in late spring when the snow is gone. I believe Marcy may accompany us as well. I have gotten to know a lot about my little brother on this adventure and am very pleased with what I have learned about him both from Jake and Johnny himself. I believe that if Johnny does come back home with me, you sir will have to make some drastic changes in how you perceive your youngest, because if this doesn’t work out this time, Johnny will leave and you will never see him again.

I’m sorry I missed your birthday Teresa. I hope it was good. Me and Johnny wish you both a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. See you next year, early summer I hope.


“ Early summer. Murdoch, that’s almost a year away.” Teresa said with sadness.

“ I know sweetheart. I was hoping they would come back sooner too. They must be going to go north and then west to come back.” Murdoch said.

“ Wouldn’t it be quicker if they stayed south?” Teresa asked.

“ It would, but they must be going to go north to avoid the Apaches and I’m sure Johnny doesn’t want to get to close to the Mexican border.” Murdoch told her.

“  So Johnny met someone who accepts him as a gunfighter. A total stranger, yet you, his own father couldn’t.” Teresa said.

Murdoch looked at her. “ I know I made a mistake with Johnny, Teresa, and I will do everything I can to rectify that mistake young lady. I don’t need you reminding me of it all the time. Is that clear?”

“ I’m sorry Murdoch. It’s just that I miss them so much.” Teresa said with tears in her eyes.

Murdoch stood up and walked around his desk, and pulled her into a hug, letting her cry. “ I know you do. But now you have something to look forward to. Scott said Johnny is going to come home with him, and this young lady, Marcy might be coming with them.

“ She must be quit the lady from what Scott said.” Teresa stated.

“She must be to change Johnny like she has.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny lay in bed holding Marcy in his arms, gently running his left hand up and down her arm. “ You drive me crazy Marcy.” he said.

“ Good.” Marcy said as she raised up and looked into his blue eyes. “ You Johnny Madrid, are an incredible man who I’m in love with very much.” she said before kissing him.

Johnny kissed her back and moaned as he rolled her over onto her back. “ I have a surprise for you.” he said as he pulled the covers back and got out of bed. Walking over to his saddlebags, he pulled out a piece of paper and walked back over to the bed, and handed it to Marcy.

Marcy sat up and took the paper and read it, tears came to her eyes. “ She’s mine?” she asked.

Johnny sat down on the bed. “ All yours. I was going to wait until Christmas morning to give her to you, but seeing how sad you were when you told me someone bought her, I couldn’t wait.” Johnny said.

Marcy wrapped her arms around Johnny’ neck and cried. “ Thank you. I don’t know what to say. How I can ever repay you.”

“ I know how.” Johnny said as he once again claimed her mouth and made love to her.”

“ Did you know Johnny bought that palomino mare Marcy’ been riding?” Jake asked Scott.

“ No I didn’t.” Scott responded.

“ Paid a hundred dollars for her.” Jake said.

“ That’s a lot of money for a horse. I guess my little brother is in love with her.”

“ He deserves happiness you know.” Jake stated.

“ Yes he does. Marcy has brought out a side of Johnny I like.” Scott said.

“ We need to figure out a way of catching the Mayor with his hands dirty.”

“ Why don’t we just confront him about it. Have him come here to the jail and show him who we have locked up?” Scott asked.

“ You know, that just might work. Use Clint against him. Tell him we know all about his involvement and that I have an arrest warrant for him for murder.” Jake suggested.

“ Turn them against each other. I bet the good Mayor will slip up and tell us.” Scott stated.

“ Let’s hope, because if this doesn’t work.”

“ This doesn’t work, we’re right back to where we started.” Scott stated.

“ We’ll talk it over with Johnny, tomorrow and set things in motion.”

“ Where is Johnny? His horse is in the livery.”

“ With Marcy in his room. I don’t expect we’ll be seeing him until tomorrow morning.” Jake said with a laugh.

“ Good morning Cora.” Mrs Reed said as she met Cora Simpson on the street outside the bank.

“ Good morning. I need a word with you about Marcy.” Cora said.

“ Marcy, has she done something wrong Cora?”

“ I should say so. How can you allow that innocent child to be with that half-breed Marshal Teague has working for him?”

“ What are you talking about?” Mrs Reed asked.

“ You mean you don’t know?” Cora asked.

“ Cora. Marcy is old enough to choose her friends. She doesn’t need me choosing them for her.”

“ Oh trust me, they are more than friends. I seen him walk her to the boarding house last night and they way he kissed her and was touching her, only a married couple should be doing behind closed doors. It’s down right disgraceful.”

“ I’m sorry Marcy has upset you so bad, but you know, maybe you shouldn’t be going around spying on other people. Maybe you should start minding your own business.”

“ Well I never.”

“ That’s the problem, you never mind your own business. Now if you will excuse me, I have errands to run.”

“ You mark my words, that girl will be ruined if she continues to see that half-breed.” Cora said as Scott walked out of the bank. “ You, that so called brother of yours is no good for Marcy.”

“ Mrs Simpson, my brother has done nothing wrong and who he sees is really none of your business ma’am.” Scott said politely.

“ It’s shameful the way those two wear behaving last night. It’s obvious he has no proper upbringing, because if he did, he wouldn’t have been doing what he was with that young lady in public last night.”

“ With all do respect Mrs Simpson, but what kind of proper etiquette would you call your behavior of watching them last night?” Scott asked.

“ I wasn’t watching them.” Cora snapped back.

“ If you weren’t watching them, then how do you know what they were doing?”

“ And to think I wanted my niece to meet you.” Cora said before walking off.

Scott couldn’t help but laugh at the woman. “ Little brother, I’m gonna have to have a talk with you about being a little more discreet with Marcy.”

“ I have all the linens changed and fresh water and towels in all the rooms.” Marcy said as she walked into the kitchen.

“ I want to have a word with you young lady.” Mrs Reed said. “ Please sit down.”

Marcy sat down at the small table in the kitchen wondering what could be wrong.

“ I went to take care of some things in town this morning, and was confronted by Cora Simpson.”

“ What’s that old woman complaining about now?” Marcy asked.

“ As a matter of fact, she was complaining about you. She said she seen you and that young deputy last night, and what she seen she said should only happen behind closed doors between a married couple. Not in public.”

“ I don’t know what she is talking about. Johnny walks me home every night so I stay safe.”

“ Is this the same Johnny you have spent every Sunday with for the last month or so?” Mrs Reed asked.

“ Yes ma’am. He bought Arabella for me as an early Christmas present. He gave me the bill of sale on her yesterday.”

“ Marcy, I know you’re a smart young lady, and you would never do anything wrong, but I have to ask you, just how serious is this between you and this Johnny?”

“ I love Johnny, and he loves me. He’s a good person who would never hurt me.” Marcy said.

“ Just what did the two of you do last night that Cora seen?”

“ Johnny walked me to the porch like he always does and gave me a goodnight kiss. It was nothing like she’s making it sound like.”

“ How did he kiss you? What I mean is, were you embraced when he kissed you?”

“ I put my arms around his neck and kissed him, then gave him a hug and came inside.” Marcy explained.

“ I can’t stop you from seeing this young man, but I will ask that the two of you show better judgment when he kisses you goodnight and be more discrete if it’s going to be more than a quick kiss on the cheeks or lips.”

“ Yes ma’am. I’m sorry, really I am. I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble.”

“ You didn’t. I was young once. Why me and Walter were caught in a somewhat similar situation once when we were seeing each other.”

“ Can I ask you something?”

“ Of course child.”

“ How did you know he was the one?”

“ My heart told me I was going to marry that man some day. The first time I seen him, I was helping my mother hang out the wash and he came riding up. His family had just moved to Dallas. He was a charmer, let me tell you. My parents weren’t fooled by him though. My father made it really hard on him seeing me, but it worked out in the end.”

“ Why was he so hard on him?” Marcy asked.

“ My father said that if a man loves a woman enough, he’ll do anything to see her. Love knows no bounds, my father used to say.” Mrs Reed said. “ This young man and his brother, are they not leaving here in the spring to go back to California?”

“ Yes. They have a huge ranch near Moro Coyo. It’s called Lancer. They came here helping Jake, Marshal Teague escort the man who murdered Mrs Carters husband back to stand trial, but he was killed by Apaches in New Mexico.”

“ Will you be going with them when they leave?”

“ If Johnny ask me too, I will.” Marcy answered.

“ Why haven’t you invited this young man here so we can meet him?”

“ I…..I was afraid you would disapprove of me seeing him.”

“ Marcy, you know us better than that. We are not like Cora Simpson and judge someone by appearance alone.”

“ She thinks ever since her niece came back from going to school in Boston, she’s better than anyone else.” Marcy stated.

“ Yes. I’m afraid you’re right there. Tell your beau that we would like him to come to supper next Sunday evening.”

“ Yes ma’am.” Marcy answered. “ I’ll ask Johnny to come here Sunday.”

“ Could you go to the mercantile and get me some asafoetida? I completely forgot to get some.”

“ Sure. Is that all you need?” Marcy asked.

“ Yes dear.”

“ You want to tell him our plan?” Jake asked Scott.

“ Johnny, we think we know how to catch the Mayor. We’re going to have him come here and Jake is going to tell him he has a prison who wishes to talk to him.” Scott stated. “ Jake will take him back, and when he sees Clint, we’re hoping he will spill his guts.”

“ I’m going to tell him I’ve got an arrest warrant for him.” Jake added. “ And when he ask why, I’ll tell him for murder. That we know he’s the one behind the rustling of cattle from the Carter ranch and two other ranches in San Angelo and hiring men to drive those stolen cattle to sell in Wichita Falls.”

“ Sounds like it just might work.” Johnny said.

“ If it doesn’t.” Scott said.

“ If it doesn’t, that little bastard will run and we will never get the proof we need.” Jake stated.

“ Divide and conquer Jake, remember during the war?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, I just hope this works.” Jake responded as the door opened and Marcy walked in.

“ Good morning Jake, Scott.”

Johnny walked over to her and gave her a kiss. “ What are you doing here?” Johnny asked.

“ I had to get something for Mrs Reed and she asked me to  invite you to supper Sunday.” Marcy said.

“ Sunday supper. That sounds good.” Johnny responded.

“ I interrupted something didn’t I?” Marcy asked.

“ No, it’s alright. We were just talking about how to catch a mouse.” Johnny said.

“ Marcy, Jake, she can deliver the message for us.” Scott suggested.

“ No. I don’t want her involved.” Johnny snapped back.

“ She wouldn’t be Johnny. All Marcy has to do is tell the Mayor I want to see him.” Jake explained.

“ I don’t like it.” Johnny said.

“ You need Mayor Corely to come here to the jail. I can do that for you. I go right past his office on my way to the boarding house.” Marcy said.

“ Alright, but I want you to go straight back to the boarding house after.” Johnny ordered.

“ Is there any chance he won’t be in his office?” Scott asked.

“ He’s there. I just seen him enter when I was coming here.” Marcy said. “ Can I see you tonight?” she asked Johnny as he walked her to the door.

“ Unless Jake has me doing something else, you will.” Johnny said. “ Get out of here before I get in trouble.”

“ Okay.” Marcy said as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

“ Looks like two love sick puppies.” Jake said with a laugh.

“ I’d have to agree Jake.” Scott said.

“ Pay no attention to them. They’re just jealous they don’t have a pretty gal of their own.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll see you tonight.” Marcy said as she walked out and headed to the Mayors office.

“ Little brother. I would say that young lady is in love with you.”

“ Knock it off Scott.” Johnny snapped back.

“ Take it easy Johnny. Scott was giving you a compliment.” Jake stated.

“ I know. I’m sorry. I just don’t want anything to happen to her.”

“ Nothing is going to happen to Marcy. She’s just delivering a message.” Jake said.

Mayor Corely was sitting at his desk when Marcy walked in. “ Yes young lady. What can I do for you?” he asked.

“ Mayor Corley, Marshal Teague asked me to give you a message. He said he needs to see you at his office when you get a chance.” Marcy said.

“ The Marshal say what it was about?”

“ No sir, and I didn’t ask. Now if you will excuse me, I need to get back to the boarding house.” Marcy said before walking out.

“ What could he want with me I wonder.” the Mayor said aloud as he stood up and walked to his door.

“ Any sign of him yet?” Jake asked.

“ No, not yet. Marcy just came out of his office and is headed back to the boarding house.” Scott said as he watched out the window.

“ Does he know we have one of the rustlers in jail?” Johnny asked.

“ Not unless doc or someone else said something. It was still dark when he was brought in to docs office, and I know he wasn’t up yet when we brought him to the jail.” Jake stated.

“ He could be wondering why you want to see him.” Johnny suggested.

“ Could be.” Jake answered.

“  Is there a back door to his office?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. Just the one door. There’s a window, but there’s no way he can go out it.” Jake answered.

“ He just came out and is locking his door now.” Scott said.

“ I sure hope this works.” Jake said.

“ Here he comes.” Scott said as he stepped away from the window.

Johnny walked over and poured a cup of coffee as the door opened and Mayor Corely walked in.

“ You wanted to see me Marshal.”

Jake stood up and walked around his desk. “ Yeah I do. I need to ask you some questions.”

“ Questions about what?” the Mayor asked.

“ Well…….you like a cup of coffee?”

“ No………..Look Marshal, I’m a busy man. I have things to do.”

“ I just bet you do.” Johnny said as he walked over and stood by Scott.

“ Well Mayor, have you heard about the carter ranch having cattle stolen?”

“ I may have heard something, but it’s no concern of mine. That’s something for the law to handle.”

“ Well you see now, I think I would have to disagree with you about that.” Jake said.

“ Look, Marshal I have no time for this.” Mayor Corely said as he turned to leave.

“ Hold on Mayor. I have someone in the back that asked to see you.” Jake said.

“ Marshal, I assure you, there is nobody you have locked up that I would know.” Mayor Corely said.

“ Well, why don’t you come on back and see if you know him?” Jake asked as he walked over to the Mayor. “ Right through that door. It’ll only take a minute.”

Johnny walked over and opened the door to the cells. “ After you.” he said as the door opened.

Mayor Corely walked back to the cells and stopped at the cell with a man sitting on the cot. “ I was told you wanted to see me.”

Clint stood up, and walked over to the bars.

“ This the man?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah. That’s him.” Clint answered. “ He’s the one who had us rustle Carter cattle.”

“ That’s absurd. I don’t know this man and have never seen him before in my life.”

“ You lying sonofabitch. I’m not going down for stealing those cattle alone. You don’t believe me, check the bank in Wichita Falls, Marshal. He has the money he got from the stolen cattle in a bank account there.” Clint said.

“ It’s amazing what a man will say when he’s facing a rope.” Scott said.

“ Sure is. Course a murder charge is just as bad.” Johnny stated.

“ Murder…….What murder? I’ve never killed anyone.” Mayor Corely said firmly.

“ Carter ranch had a hand killed a few weeks back by the men stealing their cattle. Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the laws Mayor Corely, but I am, and the law states that any and all parties involved in this malice aforethought act of breaking the law, in this case, stealing cattle, are guilty. If a murder happens during this act, regardless of who pulled the trigger, all parties involved are guilty.” Jake explained.

“ You don’t look so good Mayor.” Scott stated.

“ No he sure don’t.” Jake added. “ I knew something wasn’t right about you when you showed up here in Abilene flat broke and then a year later can afford to buy that big house and all those fancy clothes. I have an arrest warrant issued for you by Judge Whitaker for larceny and murder and am hereby placing you under arrest Mayor Corely. Johnny, would you be so kind?”

“ With pleasure.” Johnny said as he opened the cell next to Clint’ and pushed the Mayor inside, closed and locked the door.

“ The other’s involved in this will be joining you two real soon.” Jake said before turning and walking out, followed by Johnny and Scott.

“ You two stay here and watch the jail. I’m going to go wire to the sheriff and have him find out if they have any record of him having a bank account there. I’ll stop by Judge Whitaker’s on my way back and have him swear out arrest warrants for those others and we can ride out and arrest them.”

“ Sounds good.” Johnny said. “ You want one of us to ride out to the Carter ranch and tell her?”

“ I don’t want to tell her until we have all the rustlers behind bars. I’ll be back later.” Jake stated as he walked out the door.

Two days later Jake and Johnny rode into Abilene with five hands from the Clemons ranch. People in town were shocked to learn the Mayor was behind the rustling of cattle.

“ Marshal Teague, I want to have a word with you.” Cora Simpson demanded as she stormed into the Marshal’ office.

“ Mrs Simpson, I’m going to tell you like I have everyone else, the town has to elect a new Mayor.” Jake stated flatly.

“ I don’t care about that. Everybody knew the man was dirty.” Cora said. “ I want to talk to you about him.” she said, pointing to Johnny.

“ Abilene doesn’t need ruffian  like him in this town. He’s already ruined a good girls reputation.”

Johnny walked over to Cora. “ You got a problem with me, say it to my face. I don’t much care for people who stick their nose where it don’t belong. I’ve dealt with people like you my whole life lady.” Johnny said coldly.

“ Bigots like you are what’s bad for Abilene. Spreading your hate when you know nothing about the person your spreading the hate about.” Jake cut in. “ Johnny is my deputy and he’s done nothing wrong. What he does, and in this case, who he sees is of no concern of mine and it sure as hell is none of your business. So do us all a favor and go back to your store and mind your own damn business.”

“ Well, I never.” Cora said as she opened the door and stormed out.

“ Have a good day.” Johnny said as she stormed past.

“ Jake, It’s widow Carter.” Johnny said.

“ Damn.” Jake said as the widow walked into the office.

“ Marshal, I want to know if you’ve made any progress in finding out who’s been stealing my cows?” Mrs Carter asked.

“ Yes ma’am we have. The man your hands brought in told us who all was involved and we just arrested the whole lot of them today. They’re in back waiting to stand trial.”

“ I want to see who it was.” she demanded.

“ Alright.” Jake said as he removed the keys from the hook and escorted Mrs Carter to the back.

“ What on earth. Why is Mayor Corely in here?” she asked

“ It would seem he’s the one behind the rustling. It wasn’t just your ranch. I guess they hit two ranches outside San Angelo and took the cattle to Wichita to sell after they altered the brands. Clint there says your cattle are in a canyon at the edge of the Clemons ranch.”

“ Will they hang?” she asked

“ Most likely they all will except Clint there. He’s the one who told us who the others were and who was behind it.” Jake explained.

“ I won’t ask why you did it Mayor Corely, because I figure you would just lie to me. I hope when they hang you, you die a slow death.” Widow Carter said before walking out.

Jake followed her out and closed the door.

“ I would like to thank all three of you. There are some in the area that believe a woman has no business running a cattle ranch. I’ve been told several times that I should sale because I would fail. Mayor Corely even tried talking me into selling. I guess when I doubled the size of the ranch and proved them wrong.”

“ You’re a good woman Mrs Carter. You know cattle ranching better than some men. Old man Clemons was fit to be tied when he found out what his men had been doing to you. He said to tell you he would be riding over in the near future to talk to you.”

“ That fool has been trying to get me to marry him for the past two years Marshal. Well I have a ranch to get back to. Again, Thank you Marshal.”

“Young man, I would like to know your intentions with Marcy?” Mrs Reed asked.

“ My intentions ma’am?”

“ Yes. I want to know what your plans are? Marcy is a good girl. I don’t want her getting hurt.”

“ I have no intentions of hurting her ma’am.” Johnny responded.

“ You’re leaving come spring are you not?”

“ Yes ma’am. Marcy knew that from the start.” Johnny said. “ She also knows about my past and is willing to accept that.”

“ Your past? I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about. Have you been in trouble with the law or in prison?”

“ No ma’am. I take it March hasn’t told you?” Johnny asked.

“ Marcy doesn’t tell me much about you. She did tell me you bought that horse she likes riding on Sundays.”

“ Yes ma’am I did.” Johnny answered. “ I have no intentions of hurting Marcy ma’am. I’m in love with her. The way she makes me feel when I’m with her……I can’t explain it.”

“ I think I know what you’re saying. Marcy says you have a big cattle ranch back in California. Is that were you will be going when you leave here in the spring?”

“ I’m not really sure yet. We most likely will.” Johnny answered.

“  I know the two of you have been together, and I can’t do anything about that. All I can ask is that you take responsibility for your actions young man.”

“ Yes ma’am. I plan too.” Johnny answered as Marcy walked into the room. “ You look right nice tonight Marcy.”

“ Thank you Johnny. Have you two been having a good talk?” she asked.

“ Your young man and me have been having a very nice talk.” Mrs  Reed said. “ I can see why you like him Marcy, but I feel there is something your young man wants to tell me, about his past, but feels that if he does I will judge him, and stop you from seeing him.”

“ You didn’t tell her who I am?” Johnny asked Marcy.

“ No. I haven’t told her Johnny, because I don’t want to lose you.” Marcy answered.

“ You’re name is Johnny Lancer.” Mrs Reed said.

“ That’s Johnny’ birth name. He goes by another name.” Marcy stated. “ Johnny Madrid.”

“ Madrid, was that your mothers maiden name?” Mrs Reed asked.

“ No ma’am. It was my stepfathers name. You’ve never heard of Johnny Madrid?” Johnny asked.

“ No, I can’t say that I have.”

“ Not even Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?” Marcy asked.

Mrs Reed sat there with a shocked look on her face. “ You’re that Johnny Madrid?” she asked finally.

“ Yes ma’am I am.” Johnny responded.

“ Johnny isn’t a gunfighter anymore though. He’s a Deputy Marshal.” Marcy cut in.

“ Mrs Reed, I have never crossed the line and murdered anyone. I’ve never broke the law, and I’m not wanted by any law except the Rurales in Mexico.” Johnny told her.

“ The Rurales?” she asked.

“ The Mexican law. They didn’t like me helping out the farmers. I hired out to help them stand up against the rich Dons and Rurales, because what they were doing to them was wrong. Still is.”

“ Hired out, for money?” she asked.

“ Yes ma’am, but in their case it was usually for food and a place to sleep and nothing more. You can check with any Pinkerton in that area. I’ve hired my gun out in range wars, but only to the one who was in the right.”

“ I know Marshal Teague thinks very highly of you. What you did for him two years ago, helping him out, was not a ruthless killer. I just ask that you not hurt Marcy.”

“ As I told you already ma’am, I have no intention of hurting her.” Johnny responded.

“ Well, I expect you’re young man is hungry. Marcy, would you please bring the food into the dining area?”

“ Yes ma’am.” Marcy answered as she stood up and headed to the kitchen.

“ Johnny, I know if you ask, Marcy will leave here with you come springtime. I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve spoken to her about going back east to stay with my sister and her husband. I want you to take her away from here. She can make something of herself out in California, not here in this cow-town.”

“ Yes ma’am. I believe her and Teresa would get along great.” Johnny stated.

“ Teresa?”

“ She’s my……Murdoch’s ward.” Johnny said as they walked into the dining room.

Chapter 7 Research Notes


Chapter 8

“ Mister Lancer, I don’t know how you did it, but the children love the oranges you got. Thank you.” Father Micheal said. “ And the blankets were really needed. The church cannot thank you enough.” Father Micheal added.

“ I’m glad they liked them. The blankets were nothing.” Murdoch responded.

“ Have you heard from your sons?”

“ Yes, Scott sent us a letter letting us know they were in Abilene and would be staying there until late spring when they snow is gone.” Murdoch said. “ It seems that Marshal Teague made them both deputies to help him out during the winter.” Murdoch said as a Teresa walked over to them.

“ The festival is wonderful Miss Teresa. You have done a wonderful job.” Father Micheal said.

“ I’m just glad the weather was good for the day. They children are having such a good time.” Teresa said.

“ Yes they are.”

“ Did Murdoch tell you about Scott and Johnny?” she asked.

“ Yes. He just told me they are deputies and will be staying in Abilene until winter is over. Are they coming back here?” Father Micheal asked.

“ Scott said Johnny decided too. He also said Johnny might bring a young lady with them named Marcy.” Teresa said with enthusiasm. “ Scott didn’t say much about her, just that she’s about Johnny’ age and that she’s his girl.”

“ Scott said this young lady has changed Johnny. That he is happier now and more relaxed.” Murdoch added.

“ Aah love can find us in the most strangest of ways or places.  You yourself know of this from when you met his mother.” Father Micheal stated.

“ Yes it can Father. If that’s what it is.” Murdoch said.

“ You  don’t sound happy for Johnny. Why is that?” Father Micheal asked.

“ Johnny……..Teresa, would you excuse us please?” Murdoch asked his ward.

“ I’ll just go see if we need anything.” she said before walking away.

“ Father Micheal, Johnny has a habit of being with women who, shall we say, are not proper.” Murdoch explained.

“ You mean saloon women?” Father Micheal asked.

“ Yes. My son, having had no proper upbringing, has no idea how to treat a real lady.”

“ And you know this how?”

“ I’ve heard the women talk in the saloon about him.”

“ Maybe this young lady is the one for him. The one to change him, or help him change.” Father Micheal suggested. “ Mister Lancer, I don’t understand your apprehension. You say you want your son home and to be Johnny Lancer, and not Johnny Madrid, and when Scott writes and tells you he has met a young lady who has changed him, you still have your doubts. To me, that is like you don’t want him to come home, or you don’t really want him to change. Maybe by the time they do come back, you will see that Johnny Madrid and Johnny Lancer are both one in the same, and accept them both with open arms.”

“ Between you and Teresa, I don’t think I will be forgetting that.” Murdoch said.

Christmas came and went with the usual cowboys drinking and shooting. Johnny talked Scott into joining him at the boarding house for Christmas dinner with Mrs Reed. The two of them talked for hours, which Johnny liked, because it gave him some alone time with Marcy.

Clint, Mayor Corely, and the other five rustlers were all sent to Huntsville State Penitentiary to hang for their crime. Clint, for his part in naming those involved, was sentenced to twenty five years in prison. Mayor Corely yelled and screamed at the judge when the jury reached a verdict. All prisoners were picked up by a prison wagon the day before New Years, leaving Jake, Scott and Johnny, very glad it was now over and the people of Abilene could elect a new Mayor.

“ You have any plans for tonight Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Watching the fireworks with Marcy at midnight if possible.” Johnny responded as Jake walked into the cafe.

“ Morning.” Jake said as he sat down. “Have you told Scott yet what to expect tonight?” he asked as Marcy walked over. “ My usual Marcy.”

“ Coming right up Marshal.” Marcy said as she set a cup of coffee down for him.

“ No, but I think Scott knows what to expect tonight Jake.” Johnny responded.

“ It’s probably going to be about like New Years back in Boston. Bunch of yelling, firecrackers going off, drinking.” Scott stated.

“ That and guns. Last year several businesses got windows shot out, two got set on fire.” Jake explained. “ There’s gonna be a lot of drunks in town tonight. I figure we should keep up an appearance in the saloons as much as possible to try and deter anyone from starting any.”

“ You think that’s gonna help?” Scott asked.

“ No, but it will show them there is law in the town.” Jake responded as Marcy brought him his food. “ Thanks Marcy. You working tonight?”

“ Until eleven. The owner figures to cash in on the drunks tonight.” she answered.

“ He has you working sixteen hours today?” Scott asked.

“ No, just the morning shift, then I’ll go home and get some sleep and come back at six tonight.” Marcy explained as she smiled at Johnny.

“ Whens the morning shift end?” Johnny asked.

“ Noon…….I gotta go take care of other customers. I’ll see you later I hope.” she said before walking away.

Scott and Jake both noticed how Johnny couldn’t keep his eyes off Marcy whenever she entered the room.

“ Hey Scott, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Did you write those letters you were talking about to the Governor of Texas and those Generals?” Jake asked.

“ If you mean about that arrogant Colonel Mackenzie, yes I did.” Scott responded.

“ Governor Davis, is for the freedom of slaves, but I seriously doubt he will do anything about Colonel Mackenzie.” Jake said.

“ What’d you ask him and those Generals you wrote to Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ I explained the conditions we seen and asked that they investigate Colonel Mackenzie’s actions.” Scott responded.

“ Well, that’s all you can do really. This is a hard land, and sometimes we see things that aren’t right. All anyone can do is try to make it right.” Jake said.

“ You writing those letters might just make it worse on those Indians.” Johnny suggested.

“ He’s got a point. That Colonel might retaliate against those accusations.” Jake suggested.

“ Retaliate how?” Scott asked.

“ By killing them. Nobody is going to say anything if a Colonel massacres a bunch of Indians. They’ll figure it’s for the better of the white man.”

“ And there’s nothing you can do?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. Army I’m afraid outranks me. Hell, that arrogant bastard could ride into town and declare martial law and I could do nothing to stop it.”

“ Martial law?” Johnny asked.

“ President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and imposed martial law in Kentucky on July 5th, 1864. He basically gave the union army the right to declare martial law if they see fit to do so. I don’t think it’s happened though since the war.” Jake stated.

“ Yeah but Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.” Johnny stated.

“ Yes, and now Ulysses S. Grant is our president.” Scott said. “ You don’t follow politics much do you brother?” he asked.

“ Got no need to. Don’t make no never mind to me who’s president and who ain’t. Who did this and who did that.” Johnny responded.

“ You might regret that someday little brother.”

“ Well I guess we better go make an appearance around town.” Jake suggested as he finished his breakfast and stood up.

“ You’re thinking about Scott and Johnny aren’t you?” Teresa asked.

“ Yes. Scott said they were both sworn in as deputies. I was just wondering what they are doing tonight, and  if Abilene gets wild like most cow towns do?”

“ It is New Years eve. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott didn’t have himself a pretty lady to watch the fireworks with, and Johnny, I bet he has Marcy right there with him.” Teresa stated.

“ I’ve been such a fool Teresa. How could I not see all the good Johnny has to offer?” Murdoch asked. “ How could I put the value of this ranch over my own sons life?”

“ Murdoch, you need to put this all behind you. When the boys come home, talk to Johnny, and if you fear you’ll only get in an argument with him, then write down what you are feeling while he’s gone and let him read it when he comes back. There’s no shame in writing your feelings down. Not everybody can say what they feel in words beyond paper.”

Murdoch sighed. “ You know your father would be very proud of you right now if he was still alive. I know I am. You are becoming quit the lady, and smart too.” he told her.

“ That’s because I have a good teacher.” Teresa said as the clock struck midnight. “ Happy New Year, Murdoch.”

“ Happy New Year darling.” Murdoch responded with sadness.

Johnny walked over to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee just as the front door opened and Scott and Jake walked in.

“ How’s our prisoners?” Jake asked.

“ Sleeping it off still.” Johnny responded.

“ You look tired little brother. Have you let the doc check you over yet?” Scott asked.

“ No, I don’t need the doc. I’m fine. Just some sore ribs. So how much damage they do to the saloon?” he asked.

“ Enough that old man Clemons won’t be happy when he comes into town this morning and finds out what he has to pay  for the damage his hands did.”

“ What about the Carter hands, shouldn’t they pay for some of it too since they were in the fight with the Clemons crew?” Scott asked.

“ They didn’t start it. Everybody in the saloon said the Clemons crew started it. Barkeep said the Carter hands tried to avoid a fight, but the Clemons hands wouldn’t stop.” Jake responded. “ The hands from those two ranches have always butted heads. Old man Clemons has a thing for the widow Carter, has ever since her husband was murdered.”

“ She is a strong lady.” Johnny stated.

“ Has to be. Ranching is a mans job. There’s some who still believe she has no business running that ranch.” Jake stated as the door opened and Marcy walked in with tears in her eyes.

“ Hey, what’s wrong?” Johnny asked as he went to her.

“ Marcy, why you crying?” Jake asked.

Marcy buried her face in Johnny’ chest as he wrapped his arms around her, and held her tight. “ What’s wrong?”

“ Sh…..she….she’s………..she’s dead Johnny.”

“ Who’s dead Marcy?” Johnny asked softly as he held her tight.

“ Mrs Reed. I found her on the floor in the kitchen.” Marcy said between sobs. “ There was so much blood.” she said as she buried her face in Johnny’ chest and cried.

“ Scott, go get the doc and bring him to the boarding house. Johnny, take her to your room at the hotel. I’ll have the doc come there when he’s done.” Jake said.

“ Alright.” Johnny said as he held Marcy and guided her out of the office and across the street.

Johnny got Marcy to his room and laid down on the bed. Going to the table, he poured a stiff shot of whiskey, and brought it back over to the bed, and sat down. “ Here, drink some of this.” Johnny ordered as he handed her the glass.

Marcy took the glass and drank about half the amount in it before handing it back to Johnny. “ How could someone do that to her Johnny?” she asked as she lay down on her side and curled up in a fetal position, crying. “ How could someone kill such a sweet person. She never hurt anyone.”

Johnny lay down and spooned his body around her, holding her tight. “ I don’t know, I promise you, we’ll find out who did it, and when we do, they’ll pay.” Johnny promised as Marcy started to shake and cry.

Jake walked into the boarding house drawing his gun as he headed toward the kitchen. Small bloody footprints came toward him, footprints he assumed to be Marcy’, given the size.

“ Marshal.” Doc Williams said as he walked into the boarding house.

“ Hold on doc. Stay right there, until I make sure everything’s safe. Scott, go around to the back door and see what you can see.”

Scott went back out of the house and around to the back, checking all the windows as he did, finding none of them open, he walked around and checked the back door. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  The only tracks led from the back door, to the wood pile and back.

“ You see anything?” Jake asked from the back door.

“ No. The only tracks go from the house, to the wood pile and back to the house.” Scott said. “ Doc still inside?” Scott asked.

“  It seems Mrs Reed fell and hit here head.” Doc Williams said as he walked out the back door.

“ So she wasn’t murdered?” Jake asked.

“ No. My guess is she had either a stroke, or a mild heart attack and fell, hitting her head on the corner of the stove, She has a pretty deep gash on her right temple. I don’t have to tell you how a minor head wound can bleed profusely.” Doc explained.

“ Doc, Marcy is with Johnny at the hotel in his room. She found her. Could you go by there and check on her? She was pretty upset.” Jake asked.

“ Oh lord. I’ll head there right now. What room is it?” Doc asked.

“ Scott, go with him, just in case Johnny needs your help.” Jake ordered. “ I’ll head to the mortuary and have Mrs Reeds body removed and prepared for burial.”

“ All that blood. I doubt Marcy will come back in this house again.” Doc stated. “ At least not the kitchen.”

“ I’ll have the mortician clean it up the best he can. If he can’t, then I’ll have that small section of floor replaced.”  Jake stated.

Johnny woke to a soft knock on the door. Slowly pulling his left arm out from under Marcy, he got up and opened the door.

“ Hey doc, Scott. She finally drifted off to sleep.” Johnny said softly as he let them walk into the room.

“ Johnny, let’s go over by the window and talk.” Scott suggested.

Johnny walked over to the window. “ What’s wrong?” he asked.

“ Mrs Reed wasn’t murdered. She either had a stroke or a heart attack and fell, hitting her head on the corner of the stove. Head wounds tend to bleed profusely, so it’s easy to see why Marcy might have thought she was murdered.” Scott told Johnny.

“ I see you got some whiskey down her.” Doc said.

“ Yeah. I figured she could use it to help calm her down. She was shaking and crying so bad.” Johnny stated.

“ That’s good. I’ll leave some sleeping powder on the nightstand by the bed. Just put a small amount in some water and stir it before having her drink it.” Doc Williams instructed.

“ Is that necessary doc?” Johnny asked.

“ No, but young man, you need to remember, Marcy just seen something very traumatic today. She might have nightmares from what she seen.” Doc Williams explained.

“ I’m all to familiar with seeing traumatic things doc. I just don’t like drugs. I think it would be better for her if she talked about what she seen instead of keeping it inside because of some damn drug.”

“ Well, I can’t force you to give it to her. It’s there if you need it, and I hope young man, that you use good judgment on whether or not Marcy needs help sleeping.” Doc Williams said as he set the small bottle down on the nightstand and opened the door.

“ I’ll walk to out doc.” Scott said as he followed Doc Williams out and closed the door.

“ I know your brother loves Marcy, I’ve seen them together. I just hope that love doesn’t make him blind.” Doc suggested.

“ It won’t doctor. Johnny cares about Marcy very much. He’ll do what’s right for her.” Scott said.

“ Alright. Come get me if Marcy needs me.” Doc Williams said before heading downstairs.

Scott walked back to Johnny’ room and opened the door. “ You want me to stay with her while you go to the boarding house and get her some clothes?”

“ No…I mean…….uh look, Scott, I don’t want to leave her alone. Could you go and get some of her clothes from her room for me?”

“ Yes I just need to know which room is hers.” Scott said.

“  First room on the left at the top of the stairs.” Johnny said as he sat down next to Marcy.

“ Alright. I’ll have some lunch brought up later.” Scott said as he opened the door.

“ Scott…….Thanks.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked to the door. “ I’m glad you’re here with me.”

“ I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else little brother. Ill see you in a bit.” Scott said. Before heading downstairs.

Johnny walked Marcy back to the hotel three days later. Not a lot of people from town came to the funeral. Those who did, gave their condolences and then left. All except Cora Simpson. She waited until everyone was gone before she started demanding that Marcy come stay with her, that it wasn’t proper for her to stay at the boarding house with no mature adult supervision.

“ Mrs Simpson, I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions. I don’t need a busy body like you trying to tell me what I should and should not do. I know how Mrs Reed wanted things done at the boarding house, I know what the gentlemen staying there like to eat.” Marcy stated firmly. “ Perhaps you should be more concerned about your niece and how she has been meeting up with one of the hands from the Carter ranch in the middle of the night. I know several people have seen her with him in a most uncompromising way on New Years eve.”

Cora’ chest started rising up and down as her breathing became deeper, and her eyes got a very angry look to them. Bringing her right hand up, Cora slapped Marcy hard across the face. The sound reverberating  through the room. “ How dare you speak of my niece like that.”

Johnny came over next to Marcy, anger in his eyes. He could see the red spot starting on her left cheek. “ You alright?” he asked as he glared at Cora.

“ I’m fine.” Marcy responded. “ Let me tell you something Cora Simpson, your niece, Rose is not as innocent as you want to believe.  So I suggest you mind your own business, and stay out of mine.” Marcy said before walking away.

“ I want you out of here now.” Johnny ordered. “ Marcy has been through enough, she doesn’t need someone like you around her.”

Cora started to say something, but decided not to, turned and stormed out of the house.

March brought cold winds and rain to Abilene. A week after Mrs Reeds funeral, the two gentlemen who were staying at the boarding house, left and moved into the hotel,  leaving Marcy with no income for the rest of the winter except what she made working at the cafe Friday and Saturday nights. Johnny talked her into boarding up the house and staying with him at the hotel, working more days at the cafe during the week and Friday and Saturday nights.

“ You give any thought on the direction you want to go when we leave here Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.” Johnny responded. “ I guess it depends on when you want to go back to Lancer?”

“ I go where you go little brother.” Scott said.

“ If we go south and then west, that’ll be too close to the Mexican border, and I don’t really feel like taking the chance on running into the Rurales.” Johnny said.

“ We could ride north into Colorado, up to Montana and then back down through Oregon to California?” Scott suggested.

“ If we did that, we wouldn’t be home until late summer or early fall. That’s a long ride through mountains and we could easily get snowed in someplace.” Johnny stated.

“ Hey you two. Jake said you were here.” Marcy said as she walked over to their table.

“ Hi.” Johnny said as he got up and pulled a chair out next to him for Marcy to sit in.

“ Thank you. So what are you two talking about?” she asked.

“ Leaving here in a month, and which direction to take.” Johnny responded.

“ So you really are going to leave here next month?” she asked.

“ Yeah. Why don’t you come with us?” Johnny asked.

“ To California?” Marcy asked. Somewhat shocked.

“ Why not. There’s nothing here for you really.” Johnny responded.

“ It’s about time you got around to asking me Johnny Madrid. I’ll go with you anywhere.” Marcy said.

“ I’m glad to hear that Marcy, because I had a feeling if you didn’t, my little brother would be lousy company.” Scott said with a grin.

“ Johnny Madrid, come on out here you sorry piece of shit.” a mans voice yelled.

“ What’s going on?” Marcy asked as Johnny stood up.

“ Come on out and face me you killer.”

“ Johnny.’” Scott said as he stood up.

“ Keep Marcy in here.” Johnny said as he started toward the door.

“ Johnny, you’re not going out there are you?” Marcy asked as she stood up and walked over to him.

“ I have too. Listen to me Marcy, if you don’t want me to get killed, then stay in here. Please. Scott.”

Scott stepped over and took Marcy by the arm. “ He’ll be alright, but you have to stay in here, and stay quiet. You distract Johnny, and you could get him killed.

“ Scott, he can’t do this.” Marcy pleaded.

Johnny opened the door and stepped outside. Scanning the street, he seen Jake standing just outside the office scanning the rooftops. Stepping out onto the boardwalk, Johnny looked and seen who it was that called him out. “ Damn.” he said as he stepped down into the street.

“ Come on out and face me you sonofabitch.”

“ Wild Bill. Thought you were up in Wyoming hunting gold?” Johnny asked as he stepped out into the street.

“ I was, but now I’m down here. I heard you killed a friend of mine, so I’m going to kill you.”  Bill said.

“ And just who was this friend of yours I was supposed to have killed?” Johnny asked.

“ Marshal Teague, stop this.”  Cora Simpson yelled.

Jake ignored Cora. He couldn’t take his eyes off the rooftops. He knew Wild Bill rode sometimes with his brother-in-law John Wilson, a ruthless killer.

“ That badge you’re wearing don’t mean nothing to me Madrid.” Bill said.

“ It will if you kill him. He’s a Deputy Marshal.” Jake yelled. “ You kill him, and I promise you, I’ll shoot you down where you stand Longley.”

“ Stay here.” Scott ordered Marcy before stepping out onto the boardwalk.

“ You and that deputy there stay out of this. This is between me and Madrid.” Bill ordered. “ I ran into the Cotter brothers, and Clay told me how you gunned his brother Jeff down in cold blood.”

“ Jeff called Johnny out in Silver City, New Mexico. It was a fair fight.” Scott yelled.

People stood watching, wondering which man would walk away, and which man would not. Many knew Johnny Madrid, but not all knew Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter. Today they would see first hand, the deadly accuracy of two fast guns.

“ You shut your mouth boy. I know what happened. This half-breed murdered my friend.” Bill yelled to Scott.

Cora walked down the boardwalk and stopped on Johnny’ left. “ Stop this now.” she demanded as she stepped down into the street and hurried over to Johnny’ side just as Bill drew and fired.

Johnny seen it to late as Cora stepped in front of him as a bullet hit her in the back, knocking her into him as he drew his colt and tried to fire, but couldn’t as her weight knocked him off balance. Bill fired a second shot just as Johnny brought his colt up to fire as a bullet slammed into lower right side, knocking him down with Cora. Two more shots could be heard as women screamed and others panicked.

“ Johnny.”  Marcy yelled as she came out and ran to his side. “ Somebody get the doctor.” she yelled as Scott hurried to his brother.

“ Help him Scott.” she pleaded as Jake came over and check Cora’ body.

“ She’s dead. Where’s he hit at?” Jake asked.

“ I don’t know. I think in his back.” Scott responded.

“ Let’s roll him on his side and see.” Jake suggested.

Scott gently rolled Johnny onto his left side. A  red stain could be seen slowly spreading across his back.

“ We need to get pressure on that wound to try and slow the bleeding down.” Scott said. “ Where the hell is the doctor?” he demanded.

“ Here he comes now.” Jake said. “ He’s been shot in the back doc. It’s bleeding pretty bad.”

“  Pick him up carefully and let’s get him to my office.” Doc Williams said. “ What about Cora?” he asked.

“ She’s dead doc. Took a bullet in her back when she stepped in front of Johnny.” Jake explained.

“ It’s because of her, Johnny got shot.” Scott cut in as him and Jake picked Johnny up and started toward the doctors office.

“ Stan, you and a couple other men take Cora’s body to the morticians. Tell him I’ll be at the docs if he needs to talk to me.” Jake said.

“ Marcy, you stay out here.” Doc Williams ordered.

“ I want to help you.” Marcy pleaded.

“ You can help me by staying out here, out of the way.” Doc said firmly “You, you’re his brother aren’t you?” Doc asked.

“ Yes I am, and I’m not leaving my brother.” Scott said firmly.

“ You had any experience with bullet wounds?” Doc asked.

“ Yes I have. My brother needs me, and I’m not leaving him.” Scott said.

“ Very well. Get that shirt off him so I can se the wound better while I get what I need together.” Doc Williams said.

“ Is he going to be okay Jake?” Marcy asked with tears in her eyes.

“ I don’t know. Johnny’ pretty tough. He’s been through a lot.” Jake responded.

“ The first time I was with him, I couldn’t believe the scars he has. He told me how when he was little, the orphanage would abuse him because he was a mes…..”

“ Mestizo?” Jake said.

“ Yeah. He said some kids ganged up on him once and cut him with a nice because they wanted to see if his blood was red like there’.”

Marcy said.

“ I remember once, me and Johnny took this range war job, and the one ranchers hands got lucky and caught him. I knew something was wrong because Johnny mostly did stuff at night, under darkness…..I found him strung between two trees. They whipped him bad and poured brine on the open wounds, and left him to die. It took Johnny two months to fully recover from that, but when he did, he got his revenge on those hands.”

“ I seen the scars. Just horrible. You said he got his revenge. What do you mean?” Marcy  asked.

“ Usually Johnny can handle three, but when they shoot your horse out from under you, that gives them the edge. Johnny came across those three when me and him rode into this little town. When we walked into the saloon, and they seen him, they all three turned white as a ghost. Johnny seen them as we walked up to the bar, we watched them sweat in the mirror behind the bar. After about an hour or so, Johnny walked over to their table. Now mind you, people in that saloon didn’t know who he was, At least not until one of those hands said his name. That saloon got deathly quiet as Johnny stood there looking at those three a couple minutes before he spoke. Even though he wasn’t fully healed up, Johnny beat all three of them to within an inch of their lives.” Jake said.

“ What did you do during this?” Marcy asked.

“ I watched his back and made sure nobody interfered and those three kept the fight fair.” Jake responded. “ Marcy, I know how you feel about Johnny, but you need to think real hard about something…….What happened out there today, that can happen at any time, anywhere. Are you willing to accept that?” Jake asked.

“ Yes I can. Johnny asked me the same thing Jake. What I seen today was hard. Knowing he’s laying in there with a bullet in his back and could die, I’m willing to accept because every minute I have with him is special. He’s special, and I love him very much. I don’t care about his past. It’s what I have with Johnny right now that matters to me the most.”

“ Even if his past gets him killed?”

“ Yes.” Marcy answered firmly as the door opened and Cora Simpsons niece walked in.

“ Marshal Teague, I want that deputy of yours arrested for murder. He killed my aunt.” Rose demanded.

“ Now Rose, I’m sorry your aunt got killed today, but it was her own fault. She stepped down next to Johnny and tried to stop the gunfight. You yourself seen it was the other man, Wild Bill Longley who shot her in the back. Not Johnny. It’s because of your aunt that Johnny is laying in there with a bullet in his back.” Jake explained.

“ How dare you say such an awful thing about my aunt.” Rose said with anger.

“ It’s true Rose, everybody in town seen it.” Marcy said.

“ Like I’m going to believe you. Everybody in town knows you’re sleeping with that filthy half-breed. You’re a disgrace to this town and the memory of Mrs Reed.”

“ You know Rose, I wouldn’t go talking like that if I were you. Everybody in town knows how you are sleeping with several hands from the Carter ranch. How you get a hotel room on Friday or Saturday nights, yet you would tell your aunt you were staying with a friend.” Marcy said as she stood up and stepped over to Rose. “ One more thing, If I ever……….and I mean ever hear you call Johnny a filthy half-breed again, I will personally blacken both your eyes.”

“ Rose, I think it’s best if you leave now.” Jake said.

“ My aunt is dead because of that man laying in there. I won’t rest until he pays for her death.” Rose said with anger before storming out of the doctors office.

“ Okay, start cleaning up some of that blood so I can see what we have.” Doc Williams told Scott. “ My god. I’ve never seen so many scars on a mans body before. What the hell happened to him?”

“ My brother hasn’t had an easy life doc.” Scott said as he wiped the wound clean as best he could. “ At least the bleeding has slowed down.” Scott said as Johnny started to stir and moan. “ Take it easy Johnny, I’m here brother.” Scott said.

Johnny opened his eyes a little. “ Sc…..ott……h…..urts.” he said.

“ Listen to me, you need to lay still okay. You have a bullet in your back. Doc needs to find out just how deep it is.”

“ I’m going to have to give him something to knock him out.” Doc Williams said.

“ Scott……..No……no drugs.” Johnny pleaded.

“ Johnny, we can’t have you moving around while docs probing around inside you to remove that bullet.” Scott pleaded.

“ No.” Johnny said as he tried to get up.

“ Whoa little brother….Jake, get in here.”

Jake came into the room. “ What’s wrong?”

“ He’s awake.” Scott said.

“ Marshal, I need you to hold his legs, Scott, you hold his arms down. Try to keep him as still as possible.” Doc Williams said as he went to a cabinet and took out a small bottle of chloroform and poured some on a cloth.

“ Doc, he’s going to fight you on this.” Scott said.

“ That may be, but I can’t risk him moving around on me while I’m trying to remove that bullet.” Doc Williams said as he walked over to the table. “ Hold him down.” he ordered as he placed the cloth over Johnny’ nose and mouth.

Johnny smelled the chloroform and tried his best to push the docs hand away, but couldn’t because of Scott holding him down.

“ It’s alright Johnny, don’t fight it. I’m right here. I won’t leave you.” Scott said as he held tight to his brothers arms.

 Struggling as much as he could, Johnny looked hard at his brother as his eyes began to close finally.  “ I’m sorry Johnny.” was the last thing he heard his brother say to him before darkness claimed him.

“ I don’t envy you when he’s better.” Jake said.

“ Alright you two……out so I can try and save this young mans life.” Doc Williams ordered.

“ I’m not leaving him Doc.” Scott said.

“ He won’t know, he’s unconscious.” Doc Williams said.

“ I made him a promise, and I’m not leaving him.” Scott stated firmly.

“ I’ll be outside with Marcy, Scott.” Jake said as he opened the door and stepped out.

Three hours later Scott came out of the back room. “ He’s alive. Doc was able to remove the bullet, but he’s real weak from blood lose. All we can do now is wait and pray he doesn’t get an infection.” Scott told Jake and Marcy.

“ Can I see him?” Marcy asked.

“ He’s unconscious and will be probably through the night.” Scott told her.

“ Please Scott.” Marcy pleaded.

“ Alright.” Scott said as he opened the door so she could go in the room.

Marcy walked in the room and found Johnny laying on the table with a blanket over him, pulled up to his neck. Walking over, she gently touched his face as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“ He has a good chance of surviving Marcy, given he doesn’t get an infection.” Doc Williams said. “ If you want to stay with him a while, I can get you a chair.” he suggested.

“ Thank you.” Marcy said as she reached under the blanket and took Johnny’ right hand in hers. “ Don’t you leave me Johnny. You hear me……I love you, and don’t want to lose you.”

Marcy stayed by Johnny’ side all night. Scott and Jake both tried to get her to go get some sleep, but she wouldn’t leave. When Doc Williams came in early the next morning to check his patient, he found her still holding his hand, sound asleep in the chair. Pulling the blanket back, doc examined the wound for any redness or signs of an infection starting and found none. Feeling his forehead for fever, he was relieved to find his patient was cool to the touch.

“ How is he?” Scott asked as he stepped into the room.

“ He has no fever, and the wound looks good. Just a little redness from the stitches. With the amount of blood he lost, I need him to wake up so we can get some fluids in him.” Doc Williams said.

Voices, but who’s voices? Wound, fever, stitches, slowly Johnny’ mind started to remember as a sharp pain  hit his right side, causing him to moan.

“ He’s waking up.” Scott said. “ Johnny, open your eyes little brother.” Scott said as Marcy woke up. “ Come on Johnny, open your eyes.”

“ Is he alright?” Marcy asked.

“ Yes, we need him to wake up so we can get fluids into him.” Doc Williams said as he went to his cabinet and took out a small blue bottle and walked back over to the table. “ This will wake him up.” Doc said as he removed the lid and waved the small bottle under Johnny’ nose.

Johnny gasped for air and tried to move, only to be held down.

 “ Easy Johnny. I don’t need you tearing those stitches out.” Doc Williams said. “ When he gets more alert, we can move him to the bed I have in the spare room. I know he’s staying at the hotel, but he’s in no shape to climb those stairs yet.”

“ He can stay at the boarding house doc. There’s no stairs for him to climb, and I can take care of him.” Marcy said.

“ Marcy.” Johnny said softly.

“ I’m right here Johnny.” Marcy said as she took his hand in hers again.

“ That will be fine, if you think you can manage.” Doc Williams said.

“ I’ll be there helping her doc.” Scott added.

Doc Williams poured a glass of water. “ I need you to drink as much of this water as you can Johnny. You lost a lot of blood, so your going to be weak. Marcy, you hold this for him while me and Scott get him up enough to drink.”

Johnny ignored the sharp pain in his right side as he  welcomed the cool water on his parched throat. “ Thanks.” he said. “ What happened?” he asked.

“ Don’t you remember?” Scott asked as he gently laid his brother back down.

Johnny closed his eyes for a few minutes, trying to remember what happened. “ Called out………Woman grabbed my arm……..fell into me…..gunshots.”

“ You were called out by a man named Wild Bill Longley.” Scott said.

“ Woman….fell into me……Why was she there with me?” Johnny asked.

Scott motioned for the doctor to step away from his brother. “ He doesn’t seem to remember. I don’t know if I should tell him what happened.” Scott said.

“ Not telling him could have bad consequences.” Doc Williams said. “ Do you think telling him will upset him?” he asked.

“ I don’t know doc. It wasn’t his fault Cora Simpson was killed.” Scott responded.

“ Well, all you can do is tell him, and hope it doesn’t.” Doc Williams suggested.

Scott walked back over to his brother. “ Marcy, why don’t you go freshen up. I want to talk to Johnny alone.”

“ Alright. I’ll go to the boarding house and start getting the room ready for Johnny.” she said as she stood up and walked over to Johnny. “ I love you.” she said before kissing him lightly on the cheek and leaving.

“ Johnny, I want you to listen very carefully to what I am going to say.” Scott said.

Johnny started to get a sick feeling deep down inside. The look on his brothers face told him that what he was about to say wasn’t easy.

“ Someone innocent died didn’t they?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes, but it wasn’t your fault. Longley shot them in the back when he was trying to kill you.”

Johnny closed his eyes and just lay there as he tried desperately to remember. Sudden;y his eyes flew open. “ The woman…….There was a woman who grabbed my left arm and jerked me when I went to draw. That’s who was killed isn’t it?” he asked.

Scott came over and sat down in the chair next to Johnny. “ Yes. Nobody knows why she did it, but Cora Simpson went to you before anyone could stop her, she grabbed your left arm just as Longley fired. His bullet hit her in the back, killing her. He then fired again, hitting you in the side as you tried to draw and fire.”

“ So he was faster than me?” Johnny asked.

“ No. You had your gun out, but because of Cora, you couldn’t bring it up and fire. Her weight caused you to lose your balance and turn just as he fired a second shot and hit you.” Scott explained.

“ Is he dead?” Johnny asked.

“ I sent him to hell with pleasure little brother. I wasn’t fast enough to get him before he shot again. I’m sorry.” Scott said.

“ Guess I’m gonna have to teach you how to be quicker.” Johnny said.

“ I guess so.” Scott responded.

“ Cora Simpson, didn’t she run that general store where you bought Teresa’ Christmas present?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes. She’s also the one who………..She didn’t like you.” Scott answered.

“ She’s not the first, and she won’t be the last to not like me Scott.” Johnny said. “ Did she have any family?” he asked.

“ A niece.” Scott responded.

“ Here?”

“ Yes, she’s here. She came back from attending school in Boston last summer. Johnny, it wasn’t your fault.”

“ Yes it is Scott. Because of Johnny Madrid, that woman is dead. If I hadn’t been called out, she would still be alive.” Johnny snapped back.

“ You didn’t make her step down in front of you. You didn’t shoot her in the back Johnny.” Scott said with anger.

“ Get out…………..get the fuck out of here now.” Johnny yelled.

Doc Williams came into the room. “ Scott, I think you better leave now. Johnny needs rest.”

“ Alright Johnny. Go ahead and blame yourself for something that wasn’t your fault. It was nobody’s fault but hers.” Scott said before walking out.

Chapter 8 Research Notes


Chapter 9

Johnny was moved to the boarding house where Marcy could take care of him and change his bandage when needed. He remained distant and quiet most of the time, plagued by nightmares some nights rambling in his sleep in Spanish, scaring her. One night his dream was so bad, she seen tears roll down his cheek. She could swear he was begging someone for forgiveness. She thought about talking to Scott and Jake about it, but decided not to. She didn’t want to cause any more hardship between the brothers. It was bad enough he was hardly speaking to her,  and refusing to see Scott at all.  Two weeks after the shooting when he got out of bed and walked out to the kitchen, were Marcy was fixing him some breakfast, his demeanor was somewhat better.

“ Smells good.” Johnny said as he walked up to Marcy and put his arms around her.

“ How long are you going to ignore Scott?” she demanded.

“ I’m not ignoring him……I’m” Johnny stopped what he was saying and walked over and sat down at the table. “ A woman died because of me Marcy. How am I supposed to feel about that?” Johnny snapped back.

Marcy poured a cup of coffee and walked over to the table and handed it to him. “ It wasn’t your fault Johnny. I know that’s hard for you to accept, but please, don’t take it out on Scott.”

“ That could have been you.” Johnny said.

“ Johnny, as I told Jake the day you were shot, I accept full responsibility and any and all consequences that come with loving you.” Marcy said as she took hold of his left hand. “ Don’t think for one second you are going to get rid of me. I’m going to California with you or wherever it is you decide to go when you leave here. I love you and if I only have a short time with you, then so be it. I cherish every minute I have with you.”

“ I don’t deserve you.” Johnny said as he stood up and reached for her hand.

Marcy stood up and stepped into Johnny’ open arms.

Johnny put a hand under Marcy’ chin and gently lifted her face to kiss her.

“ What does Ella está muerta por favor mi culpa mean?” Marcy asked just as Johnny was going to kiss her. ( She’s dead because of me.)

Johnny looked at her hard. “ Where did you hear that?”

“ You’ve said it in your sleep several times along with Lo Siento. What does it mean?”

“ Nothing, forget about it.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to the window to look out.

“ Have you been to see Johnny at all since he went to the boarding house Scott?” Jake asked.

“ I haven’t seen Johnny since he ordered me out of the room at the doctors office. I figured I would give him some time to come to terms with what happened in his own way.” Scott answered.

“ Yeah, he does have his own way of dealing with things. Unfortunately, shutting people out it one of those ways. Even those who care about him.” Jake said.

“ I’m slowly finding that out. He’s been alone most of his life. He still doesn’t want to accept the fact that he has people who do care about him.” Scott said.

“ Why don’t you go down to the boarding house and see him now?” Jake asked.

Scott stood up. “ You know, I think I will do just that.”

“ I’ll see you later.” Jake said as Scott walked out the door.

Johnny just stared out the window, silently cursing himself for his nightmares. He was glad Marcy didn’t know Spanish, and prayed she wouldn’t ask Jake what he had said.

“ Are you going to answer me?” she asked.

“ I said forget it Marcy. It doesn’t concern you.”

“ Doesn’t concern me. I think it does when I’m nursing you and you break out in a cold sweat, tossing and turning, and crying because of some damn nightmare you’re refusing to talk about.”

“ I’m only going to say this once……Let it go. Don’t ask me again.”

“ Am I interrupting?” Scott asked.

“ No Scott, you’re not. Would you care for a cup of coffee?”

“ Sure. I figured I would come by and see if my brother was still mad at me?” Scott responded. “ You sure I didn’t interrupt something? I can come back another time.”

“ You didn’t interrupt anything Scott. Johnny is just being stubborn.”

“ What makes you think I was mad at you?” Johnny asked harshly.

“ Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because you ordered me out of docs the day after you were shot after I told you what happened.” Scott said. “ So how are you feeling?”

“ How do you think I’m feeling Scott. A woman is dead because of me and I have a damn bullet hole in me.”

“ Well if you two will excuse me. I have some shopping I need to do.” Marcy said. “ I’ll let you deal with mister attitude. Scott, see if you can get him to go outside. He’s been cooped up in here for two weeks. Maybe some fresh air will improve his manners and attitude.”

“ I’ll see what I can do.” Scott said as he sat down across from Johnny.

“ Marcy, wait.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked to the back door were she stood. “ Look, I’m sorry. It’s just that some…ghost from my past won’t go away. Sometimes they come back to haunt me in my dreams.”

“ I just spent two weeks nursing the man I love so he wouldn’t die on me. I can understand you have some things in your past you don’t want me knowing about, and I respect that. What I won’t respect is how you talked to me earlier.”

“ Fair enough. I am sorry.”

“ Go visit with Scott, and please, go for a walk with him or something. It’s a beautiful day. Go see Jake.” Marcy said before giving him a quick kiss and walking away.

Johnny went back inside and closed the door.

“ You okay?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah. Look I need to have a serious talk with you about me and Marcy.”

“ Okay.”

“ You know I asked her to come with us back to California?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes.”

“ Scott, I can’t explain how I feel about her. I’ve never felt this way about one woman before, and trust me, I’ve been with my share of women.” Johnny said.

“ Maybe it’s because Marcy isn’t like those other women Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ No she’s not, and I think that’s what……I think that’s why I’ve been thinking about………..” Johnny stood up and walked over to the stove and grabbed the pot of coffee.

“ You want to ask her to marry you, but you’re scared she’ll say no?” Scott said.

Johnny walked back over to the table and sat down. “ I’ve been seeing her for four months now Scott. I’ve never been with one woman that long.”

“ You didn’t answer my question. Do you want to ask Marcy to marry you?”

“ She’s so damn kind. She doesn’t care about my past. She’s willing to accept the fact that I could be killed at any time. Hell Scott, her parents were murdered, and the army found her and brought her here to Abilene, were she was lucky enough to be taken in by the Reeds and not end up in an orphanage like I did. I want to give her all the things she deserves.”

“ Johnny, do you want to ask Marcy to marry you?” Scott asked again.

“ Yeah I do, but what kind of future can I give her Scott, when I myself don’t have anything but this damn gun and a horse.”

“ You have your share of Lancer Johnny, or did you forget that you are a third owner of the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin valley?” Scott asked.

“ Hell, Murdoch probably tore that agreement up right after we left.”

“ Well, I guess you won’t know that until we go back there will you?” Scott asked.

“ If she says yes, I’d like the wedding to be at Lancer.” Johnny said.

“ I think that would be real nice. I bet Teresa would help Marcy plan it out and everything.” Scott stated.

“ Yeah. I think they would get along great.” Johnny said.

“ You feel like going for a walk? It’s actually a really nice early spring day.” Scott asked.

“ Yeah. I could handle that.” Johnny answered. “ Let me get my coat.”

“ What do you want? You’re not welcome here.” Rose said. “ You go do your shopping someplace else. I don’t want the whore of the man that killed my aunt to ever come in this store again.”

Marcy stood there in shock at the outburst of anger she was receiving from Rose. People in the store just stood there staring at her. Turning around, she opened the door and walked out onto the boardwalk.

“ Since Governor Davis refuses to do anything about it, I will. I’ had a wanted poster made up the day after my aunt was killed and  put out offering a very nice reward for your boyfriend dead.”

Marcy spun around. “ Why are you being like this Rose? Johnny didn’t kill your aunt. You seen what she did. She shouldn’t have interfered. It’s her own fault she was killed, and the other man shot her in the back, Not Johnny. He was damn near killed because of what Cora did. Everybody seen it.”

“ My aunt would still be alive if that gunfighter wasn’t here. How many other innocent people is he going to get killed? He needs to leave Abilene now before some other innocent person are killed because of him.”

“ You’re a spiteful, vindictive person Rose, and it’s because of your hatred for someone you know nothing about, why you can’t see the truth.” Marcy said before turning to walk away.

“ I see the truth whore. Johnny Madrid killed my aunt.” Rose yelled as people on the street stared at her and shook their heads, and whispered amongst themselves. Those in her store left what they were going to purchase and walked out.

“ Shameful.” one woman said as she walked out. “ I believe I will shop elsewhere from now on.”

“ Cora would be ashamed of her niece acting like she is.” another woman said. “ I will no longer be shopping here.”

“ Everybody in town including you seen your aunt get killed Rose. It wasn’t Johnny’ fault.” the livery man said before walking away.

Rose stood there in anger, tears rolling down her cheeks as she listened to what people were saying as they left her store, vowing to never return. “ You’ll pay for this Johnny Madrid. I swear, you’ll pay.”

Jake stood on the boardwalk outside his office, listening to the quarrel across the street between Marcy and Rose. He admired the way Marcy snapped back and defended Johnny. Everybody in town except Rose had accepted  the fact that Cora was killed by her own fault, and that because of her wrong doing, Johnny too was almost killed. Him and Scott had  seen the private wanted poster Rose had made up offering a five hundred dollar bounty on Johnny. Someone putting a private bounty on someone, he could do nothing about. No law prevented a person from having a private bounty wanted poster put out on a person. Jake just prayed nobody was stupid enough to try and collect on that bounty.

“ Don’t you do any work?” Johnny asked as he walked up to Jake.

“ Hey, good to see you out and about amigo.” Jake said.

“ Yeah, doc said it was okay, and Marcy wanted me to get out and get some fresh air.” Johnny responded.

“ Come on in and rest. I got a fresh pot of coffee.” Jake said as he turned and opened the door.

“ So what’s been happening?” Johnny asked as he walked in and sat down in a chair in front of the desk.

“ Did you tell him Scott?” Jake asked as he poured everyone a cup of coffee.

“ No, not yet.” Scott answered.

“ Tell me what?” Johnny asked.

“ Cora Simpsons niece Rose, she had a private wanted poster made up on you a week ago.” Scott said.

“ It seems she wrote to Governor Davis, demanding I be fired and you be arrested for murder. I had already sent my report along with several witness statements about what happened, and when he sent her a letter telling her he refused to do anything, she got very upset and had this made up.” Jake told Johnny as he went to his desk and pulled out the wanted poster, and walked over and handed it to him.

“ Five hundred dollars huh…….Not the first private bounty on my head, probably won’t be the last one either.” Johnny said as he set the poster down on the desk.

“ You just missed quit a show across the street between Rose and Marcy.” Jake said as he picked up the poster and put it back in his desk.

“ Isn’t there a law against her doing that Jake?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. Unfortunately there isn’t Scott.” Jake responded.

“ Even when it’s a lawman the bounty is on?” Scott asked.

“  You know, come to think of it, there is a law against solicitation to commit murder against a peace officer Scott. That law just took affect at the first of the year. I completely forgot about it. I can have her arrested for it.” Jake stated.

“ Leave her be. I don’t want you arresting her Jake. Her aunt is dead because of me. I may not have been the one to shoot her, but it’s my fault she’s dead. Leave her be.” Johnny ordered.

“She witnessed her aunt being killed. Maybe she’ll see the truth some day and realize she was wrong.” Scott said.

“ I doubt it. People like her never see the truth, or they block it out, because they have so much hurt and hate inside.” Johnny cut in. “ So what did Marcy and her do?”

“ Well, Marcy went into the store and came out a minute or so later, only to be followed out by Rose. That little lady of yours spoke up real quick defending you and what happened. To tell the truth, I thought Marcy was going to knocked Rose out.” Jake stated.

“ She definitely cares about you little brother.” Scott added.

“ The day you were shot, Marcy defended you against Rose when she came in demanding I arrest you. I sure wouldn’t want her mad at me. She definitely has a temper.”

Murdoch Lancer came out of the bank and headed to his horse when a voice stopped him.“ Murdoch, hold up a second.”

“ Ben, what’s wrong?” the big man asked.

“ You got a letter here and I thought maybe it might be about your boys. It’s from the Pinkerton’.” Ben said as he handed the letter to Murdoch.

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said as he took the letter. “ How’s Mary doing?” he asked.

“ Sam says any day now. I thin she’s tired of not seeing her feet. I’ll see you later.” Ben said before turning and heading back to the mail office.

Murdoch put the letter in his coat pocket, and mounted up, and headed back to Lancer. He would read the letter there. He hoped it wasn’t bad news since he hadn’t heard from Scott since just before Christmas. The necklace  Scott had sent Teresa, was beautiful. She wore it New Years eve and told everyone who had sent it to her. Lost in thought about his boys, Murdoch soon found himself riding into the Lancer yard, were he was greeted by Teresa.

“ Your back sooner than I expected. Is something wrong?” she asked as Murdoch dismounted and handed his horse off to one of the hands.

“ No. I finished my business at the bank and decided to come on back home. I got a letter from the Pinkerton’.” he said as he gave her a hug.

“ You did. Is it about Scott and Johnny?” she asked.

“ I don’t know. Let’s go inside.” Murdoch responded as he headed into the house.

“ I hope they’re alright. We haven’t heard from them since before Christmas.” Teresa stated as she followed Murdoch over to his desk.

“ I believe Jake would have wrote telling us if something had happened.” Murdoch said as he opened the letter and started reading it.

Mister Lancer
I am writing you to let you know of something I came across pertaining to your youngest son Johnny. It would seem a couple weeks ago he was seriously shot in a gunfight in Abilene. He was called out by a man named Wild Bill Longley. I learned that while your son faced this man, a woman named Cora Simpson, for whatever reasons stepped down to your son just as this Longley fellow drew, and was shot in the back, and killed. In her doing this, your son johnny was unable to draw and was shot. He survived his wound, and will be fine. I have however learned that the niece of this woman killed, has put out a wanted poster on your son for her aunts death. I was in Austin when Governor Davis received a letter from the niece wanting Marshal Teague fired from his job and your son arrested. Marshal Teague had already sent in his report with witness accounts of what happened and your son Johnny was not in any way at fault for this woman’s death. Your son never got to fire a shot, due to the woman falling into him and your older son Scott shot and killed Longley. The Governor of Texas has asked that I send his gratitude on your son Scott killing this man. The state of Texas had a one thousand dollar bounty on this man for a long time. Longley is reported to have been extremely fast with a gun and I feel that had it not been for the woman’s interference, your son, given his deadly speed and accuracy, would have killed this man. I have enclosed a copy of the wanted poster the niece has distributed around Texas. I do not know if she has sent this poster out to surrounding states.

Jack Parker, Pinkerton Detective Agency, Austin, Texas.

“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said aloud.

“ Murdoch, what’s wrong?” Teresa asked.

Murdoch handed her the letter and walked over and poured a shot of scotch and downed it.

“ How terrible.” Teresa said with tears.

“ I can only imagine how this has effected Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ It wasn’t his fault though.” Teresa said.

“ No, but you’ve been around Johnny long enough to know how he gets whenever he has to kill someone, and for an innocent woman to be killed.”

“ And are you going to blame Johnny for this, or throw it back at him the first time you two get in a heated argument when he comes back?” Teresa asked firmly.

“ Young lady, I don’t like your tone.” Murdoch snapped back. “ If he had never picked up that damn gun…….”

“ If he had never picked up that gun, he would have been dead a long time ago and you know it. Murdoch Lancer, you are so blind at times. You’ve been to Mexico, you know how rough it is down there. Stop trying to find faults in Johnny and what he did in his past to stay alive, and start seeing the wonderful person he’s become.”

“ I know perfectly well what kind of person Johnny is young lady. I don’t need you reminding me all the time.”

“ Oh really. Then tell me the last time you ever complimented Johnny for something he did when he was here?” Teresa demanded.

Murdoch stared at Teresa Shamefully he couldn’t remember if he had ever complimented Johnny for anything he had done.

“ You can’t can you? Murdoch Lancer, I love you dearly, and thank you for raising me as your own, but when it comes to your own son, I feel so sorry for you, because you have a blindness that will cost you one of the best things to ever come into your life.” Teresa stated. “ Excuse me, Maria is sick, so I need to go start supper.”

“ You know, I’m gonna hate losing the two best deputies I’ve ever had.” Jake said. “ I don’t know if I can manage this town alone again.”

“ You’ll manage.” Johnny said. “ Course you could quit and come back to California with us.”

“ And do what, work cows for a dollar a day. No thanks.” Jake responded.

“ You could become the sheriff of Moro Coyo. We need a lawman closer than Green River.” Scott added.

“ I don’t know Scott. You all get serious snow out there in the winter. Here, it don’t snow but maybe a couple inches.”

“ He’s getting old Scott, so he don’t want to change. He can’t handle tough weather conditions anymore.” Johnny said with a laugh.

“ I can handle winter weather just fine. See, I like my winters of rain cause I don’t freeze my ass off out trying to pull some damn cow out of a snow bank.” Jake stated. “ Besides, I’m only five years older than you.” Jake added.

“ No, he rather pull them out of a flooding stream.” Johnny joked.

“ Wait a minute. Don’t we do that at Lancer Johnny, pull cows out of swollen streams?” Scott asked.

“ Yep, sure do. Come on Jake, trust me, you’ll love living in California. Besides Teresa will be happy if you come back.”

“ Yeah, she liked you.” Scott added.

“ Teresa is a might young for me don’t you think?” Jake asked.

“ She’s what seventeen this year Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ I believe so.” Scott responded.

“ Alright you two, knock it off.” Jake ordered.

Scott and Johnny both busted out laughing

“ What’s so funny?” Marcy asked as she walked over.

“ These two are trying to talk me into going back to California with you all.” Jake said.

“ I seriously doubt Jake would give up his job here and go to California with you Johnny. He likes it here in Texas.”

“ Hey, who’s side are you on here?” Johnny asked.

“ My own. I learned a long time ago to never take sides. Especially when it involves friends.” Marcy said before walking away laughing.

“ You better marry that girl Johnny.” old man Clemons said.

“ She’s a keeper.” Mrs Carter added.

“ I plan too.” Johnny said.

“ Plan to what?” Jake asked.

“ Ask Marcy to marry me.” Johnny responded.

“ Johnny thinks the wedding would be perfect at Lancer.” Scott said.

“ Wait a minute. You knew about this? Boy some friend you are Johnny. You tell your brother and then you tell me, and that’s just because of Mrs Carter and old man Clemons.” Jake said jokingly.

“ I just told you.” Johnny responded.

“ You’re supposed to tell your best friend before your brother.” Jake joked.

“ Okay, tell ya what. When we expect our first child, I’ll tell you before I tell anyone else.”

“ Smart ass. If you weren’t my friend, I swear I’d kick your butt up and down main street for a week.” Jake said laughing.

“ You got a week to decide Jake.” Johnny said.

“ A week. You three are leaving next week?” Jake asked.

“ That’s what I said.” Johnny responded.

“ Mister Lancer, we have a dead cow in the south pasture. It appears to have been killed by a cat, a big one. Judging from the size of the tracks I’d say a big male.” Hank said.

“ Alright. Have some men move the herd. Cipriano, see if you and a couple of hands can track that cat and kill it. I can’t afford to lose cattle to no cat.” Murdoch stated.

“ Si Patron.” Cipriano said before heading to his horse to follow Hank to the dead cow.

“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked as she walked up.

“ Hank found a cow killed by a cat. Cipriano and some men are going to try and track it.

“ You think it’s the same one from before?” Teresa asked.

“ Don’t know sweetheart. Hank said it looked like a big male from the track size.” Murdoch stated.

“ Who’s that?” Teresa asked, looking at a rider coming under the Lancer arch.

“ I don’t know…It looks like Ben.” Murdoch responded.

“ Hey Murdoch, Teresa.” Ben said as he stopped his horse. “ Got a letter from Scott. I thought I would bring it out and tell you the good news.”

“  Mary had the baby. I have a son.” Ben said with a smile as he handed the letter to Murdoch.

“ Is Mary alright?” Teresa asked.

“ She’s fine. Sam said her and the baby are doing just fine.” Ben answered.

“ Congratulations Ben. You were hoping for a son.” Murdoch said.

“ Yes I was. Well, I better get back.” Ben said.

“ Give Mary our best.” Murdoch said.

“ I will. I’ll see ya.” Ben said before turning his horse and heading back to town.

“ I’ll have to make a blanket or something for the baby.” Teresa said as her and Murdoch walked into the house.

“ I’m sure she would like that very much.” Murdoch said as he walked over to his desk, and sat down to read the letter.

Murdoch and Teresa
We are leaving Abilene, headed back to California next week. Johnny has suggested we ride toward Colorado, into Utah and then into Nevada and across to California. Marcy will be coming with us. Johnny has been thinking about asking Marcy to marry him, but hasn’t mustered the courage to do so yet. If she accepts, he would like the wedding to be at Lancer. Quite frankly sir, I’ve never seen my brother so happy. Marcy is a wonderful person and I feel her and Teresa will get along great. I feel you will like her too. As it looks, we will be back home late June, early July, given we don’t get caught in a late snowstorm. Will write again when we get closer.


“ Johnny is going to marry Marcy, here at Lancer?” Teresa said with happiness.

“ It would seem so. He hasn’t asked her yet. I imagine they’re headed back by now.” Murdoch responded.

“ I’m so happy he found someone to love him. He deserves happiness. Don’t you think?” Teresa asked.

“ Yes he does. I just hope she understands the risk of being with Johnny.” Murdoch stated.

“ Of course she does. Scott said she’s accepted Johnny and his past.” Teresa said.

“ Yes, but realistically, how long will she have with him? How long before someone comes gunning for Johnny, and kills him? Is she really willing to risk being a widow, possibly with a child?” Murdoch asked.

“ Realistically I would think you would be happy for Johnny, and not be thinking so negatively Murdoch.”

“ I am sweetheart. I’m just worried of what could happen.”

“ And I’m sure Marcy knows the risk.” Teresa said.

“ Scott, hold up a second.” Johnny said as he stopped the stallion.

“ What’s wrong?” Marcy asked.

“ We’re being followed. You two go on ahead. I’m gonna hang back and see who it is.” Johnny stated.

“ Okay. We’ll wait for you about a mile up the trail.” Scott said before riding on with Marcy.

“ How does he know we’re being followed?” Marcy asked.

“ The stallion. Last time we were being followed and that stallion knew it. Johnny held back and killed two Comancheros that were following us.” Scott said.

“ What if it’s Indians or he needs help?” Marcy asked

“ He’ll be alright. We’ll wait for him at a spot along this river up ahead.” Scott said.

Johnny moved the stallion off the trail, up into a small gully with plenty of brush to conceal him and the stallion, and waited for the lone rider. He didn’t have to wait long to see who it was.

“ You’re getting sloppy in following someone Jake.” Johnny said as he moved the stallion back down to the trail.

“ I figured you would pick up I was following you eventually.” Jake responded. “ I’m a little shocked it took you this long to realize you were being followed.”

“ That horse looks tired. When did you leave Abilene?” Johnny asked.

“ A week after you left. I thought about your offer, and decided I needed a change, so I wired the Governor and told him I quit. He has someone coming to replace me.”

“ You sure it was my offer and not Teresa?” Johnny asked.

“ Both I guess, even though I doubt she would want anything to do with me.” Jake said. “ Besides, someone has to keep you out of trouble and watch your back.”

“ You might be surprised. Scott and Marcy are waiting up ahead. We can make camp along the river, and let that horse of yours rest.”

“ Sounds good.” Jake responded. “ Johnny, I think you should know, Rose found out you left and she upped the bounty  from five hundred to a thousand dollars. She sent out a passel of posters on the stage to be dropped off in towns west.”

“ Thousand dollars huh. Don’t say anything to Scott or Marcy about it Jake.” Johnny ordered. “ They don’t need to know.”

“ Alright, If that’s what you want,I won’t say anything.” Jake responded. “ But I think it’s a mistake.” he added.

“ Well I’ll be. Look who changed their mind about going to California.” Scott said as Johnny and Jake rode up.

“ Jake, I thought you weren’t going to leave Abilene?” Marcy asked as she walked over to him.

“  Good to see you Marcy.” Jake said as he got down and gave her a hug. “ Like women, men can change their mind too.”

“ Scott, get some grain out of Marcy’ saddlebags. Jake’ horse could use it. He’s been rode pretty hard trying to catch up to us.” Johnny said as he dismounted.

“ So have you decided which way you’re going to go yet?” Jake asked as he leaned back against his saddle.

“ I figured we’d ride into Ft. Sumner and see what’s happening with the Indians.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ I’m gonna check the horses.”

“ Want some company?” Marcy asked.

“ Sure.” Johnny answered as he held at his hand to help her stand up.

“ I think they want a few minutes alone.” Jake said jokingly.

“ You jealous?” Johnny asked with a smile.

“ Maybe.” Jake responded as Johnny and Marcy walked away into the darkness.

Jake sat up and leaned toward Scott. “ Has he asked her yet?”

“ Not that I’m aware of he hasn’t.” Scott responded.

“ Do you know if he bought a ring?” Jake asked.

“ No. I don’t think he wanted to buy one in Abilene, for fear someone would say something.” Scott answered.

“ I’m really happy he’s found someone to accept him and who he is Scott. I’m also happy he has a brother like you by his side. Someone who don’t judge him like your old man seems to do.” Jake stated.

“ I’ve wrote telling Murdoch about Marcy. I just hope he’s has done some serious thinking about his actions toward Johnny, because if he messes it up this time when we get home, he will lose Johnny and me forever.” Scott stated.

“ You know, Johnny needs to meet your old man half way also. I’m not saying it’s his fault, but both of them from what I seen while there, are just alike. Your old man don’t give at all, all pride, and Johnny’ cut from the same mold, not one inch of give.” Jake stated.

“ Unfortunately you’re right Jake.” Scott said.

“ Well, I think I’ll turn in now. See you in the morning Scott.” Jake said as he settled down into his bedroll.

“ I believe I will too.” Scott said as he added some wood to the fire and settled down into his bedroll. He knew his brother and Marcy wouldn’t be back soon.

Johnny checked all the picket lines to make sure none of the horses could get lose.

 “ Let’s take a walk down to the river?” Marcy asked.

Johnny finished check the picket lines and followed Marcy down to the river, just out of the glow of the fire.

“ I’ve waited long enough to be alone with you.” Marcy said as she grabbed Johnny’ arm and puled him to her, claiming his mouth.

Johnny removed his coat as he kissed Marcy, a fire burning inside. “ God I love you.” he said as they lay down in the early spring grass.

“ Looks like Fort Sumner isn’t an army post any longer.” Jake said as the four of them rode into the yard.

“ Can I help you gentlemen?” a mans voice asked.

“ We were looking for Fort Sumner sir.” Scott responded.

“ You found it. The army abandoned the fort four years ago. I bought it from the government and turned it into my estancia. Lucien Maxwell. Why don’t you gentlemen get down and rest a spell.” Lucien suggested. “ Oh my, I do apologize miss. I should have seen by your lovely features that you were by no means a man. Please, won’t you forgive me?”

“ It’s quit alright Mister Maxwell.” Marcy responded as she dismounted.

“ Maria, we have guest.” Lucien yelled. “ My  wife passed away some time back, but Maria will help you freshen up and with anything you need young lady.”

“ That’s very kind of you. Thank you.” Marcy said as she followed Maria into the house.

“ Would you gentlemen care for some cold lemonade, or perhaps something a little stronger?” Lucien asked.

“ Lemonade will be fine.” Jake said as he, Scott and Johnny dismounted and tied their horses off.

“ Come sit in the shade. Your sister will be out shortly.” Lucien suggested.

“ Thank you.” Scott said as the three walked over and sat down.

“ You look familiar.” Lucien said to Jake. “ Aren’t you the Marshal of Abilene?” Lucien said as he poured three glasses of lemonade.

“ I was. I’m not anymore.” Jake responded. “ These are my friends Scott and Johnny Lancer.” Jake said.

“ I know of you.” Lucien said as he handed Johnny a glass of lemonade. “ I seen you a few years ago kill a man, only your name wasn’t Lancer, it was Madrid, Johnny Madrid, and you two don’t look like brothers.” Lucien said.

“ We have different mothers.” Scott said.

“ Well young lady, you look like you feel better.” Lucien said as Marcy walked over.

“ I do. Thank you very much for allowing me to freshen up.”

“ Young man, may I have a word with you in private about your stallion?” Lucien asked as he stood up and started toward the horse, followed by Johnny. “ He is a fine looking animal.”

“ I can’t complain about him. What’s really on your mind?” Johnny asked.

“ The stage came through here the other day. They still stop here to water their horses even though it is no longer a fort. He left some papers with me. Said a woman in Abilene wanted them distributed around. Paid him nicely to do so. It says there is a one thousand dollar reward offered for you dead for killing this woman’ aunt in Abilene.” Lucien said.

“ Mister Maxwell, I didn’t shoot that woman. I was called out and she stepped down in front of me trying to stop it. The other man shot her in the back and caused me to be shot and almost die.”

“ It is a private bounty on you, not one from the law. It is a lot of money, I’m afraid there will be many men who will try to kill you for this much money Madrid, my own men included. I’m afraid I must ask you to leave my estancia when the young lady is done freshening up.” Lucien ordered. “ John Chisum, knows about this also, so do not think you will be welcome on his property either.”

“ Lets go.” Johnny yelled as he untied his horse and swung up in the saddle.

“ You going to tell me why we left Fort Sumner so fast Johnny?” Scott asked as they rode along, headed to Santa Fe.

“ He knew who I was and didn’t want his men to be tempted to try and call me out is all.” Johnny responded.

“ You’re not telling me all of it little brother.” Scott said. “ Out with it.”

“ It seems that woman in Abilene raised the bounty on me when she heard I left.” Johnny said.

“ Raised it, how much?” Scott asked.

“ A thousand dollars.”

Scott stopped his horse. “  Jake told you about this didn’t he?” Scott demanded.

“ Yeah. Look I don’t want Marcy to know.” Johnny said firmly.

“ And you didn’t see it necessary to say anything?”

“ It’s no big deal Scott.”

“ Jake, hold up.” Scott yelled.

“ Scott don’t.” Johnny ordered.

“ She has a right to know Johnny. Jake, since my brother won’t tell me everything, I want you too tell me and Marcy about what happened in Abilene after we left, and I want the truth.”

“ What’s going on?” Marcy asked.

“ Rose raised the bounty on Johnny to a thousand dollars and sent out posters on the stage headed west.” Jake told them.

“ That’s why we had to leave Fort Sumner isn’t it Johnny? He knew about the poster didn’t he?” Marcy asked.

“ Yes. Look, I’ve had bounties on my head before and still do in Mexico. It’s no big deal.”

“ No big deal. Johnny, a thousand dollar bounty will have every man who thinks he can shoot, gunning for you now. It won’t just be those who want your reputation little brother.” Scott said angrily before riding off.

“ They won’t find Johnny at Lancer in California Scott.” Marcy said as he rode off. “ Johnny, in the future, if you want a future with me, you better come clean with me. I had a right to know about this before now.”

“ Look I’m sorry I didn’t say anything to you about it Marcy.  I’m not used to having people who care about me around.”

“ Well I suggest you get used to it.” Marcy said before riding ahead to catch up with Scott.

“ I thought you didn’t want them knowing about the bounty?” Jake asked.

“ I didn’t, but when Scott kept pressing me…….I couldn’t lie to him Jake.” Johnny responded.

“ No, I guess you couldn’t. You might be sleeping cold tonight.”

“ Probably will be for the next few nights.” Johnny responded.

“ So when you gonna ask that girl to marry you?” Jake asked.

“ I figured I would take her out to a nice dinner in Santa Fe and ask her.”

“ I hope it goes right for you Johnny and she says yes.” Jake said.

“ Yeah, me too. Come on, lets catch up with them.” Johnny said as he spurred the stallion into a gallop.

Chapter 9 Research Notes


Chapter 10

Santa Fe was as old as it got for Spanish decor. Sitting at the end of town made from adobe sat an old Spanish mission. It’s bell tower looking out over the town. Most of the building in town were made of adobe, some with poles sticking out just below the roof line, others consisted of nothing but primitive adobe roofs. Some of the building had been white washed, while most were their original adobe red sand color. Only a few buildings in town were made entirely from wood. Every third building had a water trough in front of it and in the center of town stood a huge tub made of adobe with several hand pumps for washing clothes.

“ Some pretty dark clouds to the west. You want to stay here and wait the storm out Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, we could all use a hot bath. Let’s get the horses settled and see about getting a couple rooms and baths.” Johnny suggested.

“ Sounds good to me.” Jake said as they rode up to the livery.

“ Hola viejo temporizador, ¿ cuánto cuesta cuatro caballos por un día? ( Hey old timer, how much for four horses for one day?)

“ Cuatro pedacitos a caballo, de antemano, con heno y grano.” ( Four bits a horse,in advance with hay and grain )

“ Two dollars for all four  with hay and grain.” Johnny told the others.

Scott pulled out some money and paid the man.

“ ¿ Qué tal un buen hotel? Uno con un baño. ( What about a nice hotel? One with a bath.)

“ Lo mejor para la dama sería el hotel La Fondant. Cuesta cinco dólares por noche, pero tendrá todo lo que necesita, y la comida es excelente en el restaurante que se encuentra al lado. ( The best for the lady would be hotel La Fonda. It is five dollars a night, but will have everything you will need, and the food is excellent in the restaurant next to it.)

“ Gracias.” ( Thanks ) Johnny said as he removed his rifle.

“ Something tells me, you have something special planned for tonight with Marcy little brother?” Scott asked as they walked out of the livery.

“  We have enough money?” Johnny asked.

“ I believe we do. I had two hundred dollars when we left Abilene.” Scott responded.

“ Good. I want Marcy to be able to buy a nice dress for dinner tonight.” Johnny said.

“ You still mad at Johnny about not telling you about the bounty?” Jake asked.

“ If he wants to have a future with me Jake, he’s going to have to start talking to me. Sharing things. Especially when it can effect both of us.” Marcy said.

“ Marcy, you two have been together what, four months now?” Jake asked.

“ Almost five.” Marcy responded.

“ You have to remember, Johnny isn’t used to having someone to love, let alone care about him. He’s been alone most of his life. The only women he’s ever had where saloon girls until he met you. I like the change you’ve brought out in him. Just, don’t be to hard on him, because I know he does want a future with you.”

“ Men can sure be stubborn sometimes.” Marcy stated.

“ Yeah we can.” Jake said with a laugh. “ But in the end, what a man and woman have together makes it all worth while.” Jake added.

“ I’m gonna have to have Johnny teach me Spanish.” Marcy said.

“ Well, I’d have to say you look a lot better little brother.” Scott said when Johnny opened the door to his and Marcy’ hotel suite. “ Wow, now this is a nice room.” Scott said as he walked into the room. “  Got your own bathing room, Nice big soft bed, a pool table. I don’t think Murdoch has stayed in a room this plush.” Scott said. “ That huge couch alone could be a bed.”

“ Want a fine Cuban cigar?” Johnny asked as he walked over to a small table, picked up a beautiful wooden box, and opened it as he walked over to his brother.

“ Sure. Are you and Marcy going to join me and Jake for dinner at the restaurant next door?” Scott asked as he took a cigar from the box.

“ Yeah. She’s in getting dressed now.” Johnny said as he set the box of cigars back on the table. “ Man I gotta tell ya Scott, that bath tub is bigger than any horse trough or bath tub I ever took a bath in before.”

“ Yeah, the one’s me and Jake used were pretty big, and deep. Felt good to just sit back and relax.” Scott said as Jake opened the door and came in.

“ Don’t you believe in knocking?” Johnny asked.

“ I knew you wouldn’t be doing anything funny with Marcy.” Jake said with a smile. “ Wow, what a room. This is more like a whole damn house instead of a hotel room. Look at all that fancy furniture.” Jake said as he walked around.

“ Don’t open that door. Marcy is in there getting ready for dinner.” Johnny said as he went and retrieved a cigar and offered it to Jake.

“ Thanks. Our room sure ain’t this fancy. We just got a big room with two big beds, a couch, two big overstuffed chairs, a eatin’ table and two chairs.”

Just then the bedroom door opened and Marcy walked out. “ Hello Scott and Jake.”

“ Wow, you’re beautiful.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll say. That dress……I ain’t never seen you in anything so pretty Marcy.” Jake said.

“ Johnny picked it out for me.” Marcy said as she walked over to Johnny. “ I’ve never had a dress so beautiful before.”

“ The lady at the dress shop sure knew her stuff. I had no idea that would look………I’m the luckiest man in Santa Fe tonight.” Johnny said.

“ I think we’re a little under dressed tonight Jake.” Scott stated.

“ Feels like it.” Jake answered.

“ You know Jake, I think we should go buy a pair of leather pants with silver conchos down the sides. Maybe we would get lucky and find a couple of nice senoritas to join us for dinner.”

“ Sorry big brother, but they just wouldn’t look good on you. Your blonde hair just wouldn’t go with the silver conchos.” Johnny said with a grin. “ Now Jake, he might be able to pull it off if it wasn’t for his brown hair.”

“ So to look good in pants like that, we have to have black hair. Is that it?” Scott asked.

“ That and be Mexican brother. Something neither of you are.” Johnny answered with a laugh.

‘ Speaking of which, Would you teach me Spanish?” Marcy asked Johnny as they headed to the door.

“ Sure. I can teach you anything you want to learn.” Johnny responded.

“ Maybe later tonight.” Marcy said softly, so only Johnny would hear.

Johnny sighed. It was going to be a long evening of tried patience for him he already knew. The minute Marcy walked out of the bedroom, his body ached for her. The way her beautiful brown hair cascaded down over her shoulders, partially covering the exposed part of her breast. Tonight, after he was alone with her, he would make sweet passionate, slow love to her and ask her to be his wife. He would offer her the Lancer name instead of Madrid, so she would have something should he ever get gunned down. All day he had thought about how he was going to propose to her, and now he knew. All he could do was pray she would say yes.

“ I had a wonderful time tonight Johnny.” Marcy said as they entered their hotel room. “ I think Scott, and Jake did also. Did you?” she asked as she walked over to a chair and removed the beautiful knitted white shawl.

Johnny closed the door and locked it. “ Yeah, I did.” he answered as he turned and stopped, just standing there staring at her. “ I can’t believe how gorgeous you are in that dress. I think every man in the restaurant was envying your beauty tonight.” Johnny said as he removed his coat. “ I think some wives were getting jealous even.”

“ Well, there was only one man I was staring at, and he’s standing right here in front of me.” Marcy said as she walked over to Johnny and put her hands on his chest, feeling the heat from his body as she ran her hands up to his shoulders, and around his neck. “ I love you Johnny Madrid.” she said before kissing him.

Johnny could feel his body starting to respond to the way Marcy was kissing him. Wanting he badly, he forced his body to stay in check as he broke off the kiss and stepped away from her.

“ What’s wrong?” Marcy asked. “ Don’t you want me?”

“ I want you so bad, but………I need you to come sit down. I need to talk to you first.” Johnny said as he took her hand and walked her over to the couch and sat down. “ Marcy, I need to ask you something.”

“ Okay.” Marcy said as she sat down on the couch.

Johnny was more nervous right now than he had ever been. Facing a firing squad, was easier than what he was about to do. “ You know I’m Johnny Madrid right?” he asked.

“ Yes, and I told you, I fully accept that.” Marcy responded.

“ Marcy, I’m also Johnny Lancer. I was born Johnny Lancer. I became Johnny Madrid to stay alive. For sixteen years I’ve been Johnny Madrid, I’m tired of living by my gun. I want to live a normal life. A life filled with Murdoch, Scott, my friends, what friends I have, and you.”  Johnny said before standing up, and walking over and pouring two small glasses of brandy. Walking back over to the couch, he handed one to Marcy as he sat down. “ I want to ask you something Marcy, and I want you to think about your answer.”

“ Okay.” Marcy responded before taking a sip of brandy.

“ Which would you like more, me as Johnny Madrid, or me as Johnny Lancer?”

“ I will love you no matter what last name you choose Johnny, because even if you become Johnny Lancer, a part of you will always be Johnny Madrid, and it’s because of Madrid, you can become Johnny Lancer. Is that who you want to be?” Marcy asked

Johnny took her glass of brandy from her and set it on the table with his. “ I want to be Johnny Lancer Marcy, and I want you to be Mrs Marcy Lancer.”

Marcy sat there stunned and speechless at what she just heard.

“ I want to share everything I have with you Marcy. I want us to be together forever. I want to have children with you. I would love it if you would become Mrs Johnny Lancer. Would you marry me?” Johnny asked as his stomach flopped and he swallowed a lump in his throat.

Marcy started to shake as tears welled up in her eyes. Standing up, she walked over to the window and looked out.

Johnny seen the tears in her eyes and feared he’d done wrong asking her to marry him. Standing, he walked over and stood behind her.

“ Is something wrong?” Johnny asked as he put his hands on her shoulders.

“ As I got older, I started having feelings, Mrs Reed said they were part of growing up. That I was becoming a young lady. When you rode into Abilene with Jake and your brother, I couldn’t believe it. I had a crush on you when you were there before, but I was only fourteen. That’s when Mrs Reed sat me down and talked to me about womanhood and the changes I would experience in my heart, mind and body. She said to always listen to my heart above all else. That night in the cafe, when you said you would walk me home, my legs were shaking so bad I could barely stand. I’ve seen what a bad relationship can bring between two people. How a man can hurt a woman, both in her heart and with his fist.”

“ I know you would never do that to me Johnny. The more time we spent together in Abilene, the more in love with you I fell. The only way you could break my heart is if you stopped loving me. It makes no difference to me which name you choose to go by, I will love you all the same.” Marcy said with a quiver in her voice.

Johnny gently turned her around to face him. “ What are you saying?”

Marcy ran her hands up around Johnny’ neck. “ I would be proud to be your wife whether it’s Lancer or Madrid, Johnny. I love you and I will always love you.”

Johnny let out a sigh as he hugged Marcy. “ I’ve never been so nervous about anything in my life as I was about tonight. I was scared you would say no and I don’t think I could have handled that.”

Marcy could feel Johnny trembling. “ I think I have a cure for that nervousness you have.” Marcy said as she took Johnny’ hand and led him to the bedroom.

“ You think Johnny’ awake yet?” Jake asked as him and Scott walked out of their room.

“ I don’t think we’ll see Johnny till late morning.” Scott responded.

“ I hope it went the way he wanted it to last night.” Jake said as they walked downstairs to the lobby.

“ I stand corrected.” Scott said.

“ We were wondering if you two were ever going to wake up.” Johnny said.

“ And here we thought it would be you not up yet.” Jake said. “ You seem to be in a good mood.”

“ You two ready to get out of here?” Johnny asked

“ Yeah, we’re ready.” Scott responded. “ We ate breakfast a little while ago.”

“ We ate in our room.” Johnny said. “ Let’s go.”

“ Sobrino,, ¿ Qué haces aqui?” ( Nephew, what are you doing here?) Ramirez asked.

“ Te traigo buenas noticias tio. Él está vivo.” ( I bring you good news uncle. He is alive.) Ramon said as he got off his horse.

“ Quien esta vivo?” ( Who is alive?) Ramirez asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” Ramon responded.

“ No juegues conmigo. ¿Cómo sabes que el cerdo todavía está vivo.” ( Do not play games with me. How do you know that swine is still alive?) Ramirez demanded.

Ramon pulls a piece of paper out of his coat pocket, and hands it to his cousin Ramirez.

“ ¿Dónde? ( Where?) Ramirez asked.

“ Abilene, Texas. Es una recompensa privada. Madrid mató a una mujer inocente cuando lo llamaron. Le dispararon, pero no murió. La sobrina de la mujer muerta está pagando la recompensa. Ella le pusa la recompensa.”  ( Abilene, Texas. It is a private bounty. Madrid killed an innocent woman when he was called out. He was shot, but did not die.) Ramon responded.

“ ¿Así que ese cerdo está en Abilene, Texas?” ( So that swine is in Abilene, Texas?) Ramirez asked.

“ No tio. Se fue hace un mes yendo a California, de regreso a su padre. Cabalga con dos hombres y una mujer, su mujer.” ( No uncle. He left a month ago going to California, back to his father. He rides with two men and a woman, his woman.) Ramon responded.

“ Sólo me importa Madrid. Ese cerdo me costó mi trabajo, y mató a mi hermano. Los demás pueden verlo morir.” ( It is only Madrid I care about. That swine cost me my job, and killed my brother. The others can watch him die.) Ramirez stated with anger. “ ¿ A dónde en California va?” ( Where in California is he going?) Ramirez demanded.

“ Moro Coyo.” Ramon said.

“ Salimos por la mañana. Quiero estar en Moro Coyo cuando ese credo vulva a casa.” ( We leave in the morning. I want to be in Moro Coyo when that swine comes home.) Ramirez ordered. “ Fue tu padre, mi hermano, el Madrid asesinado. Montarás conmigo, y vengarás la muerte de tus padres.” ( It was your father, my brother, Madrid killed. You will ride with me, and avenge your fathers death.)

“ Si tio. Montaré contigo y vengaré la muerte de mi padre.” ( Yes uncle. I will ride with you and avenge my fathers death.) Ramon responded.

Juan Ramirez was once a captain in the Mexican army, and in charge of the worst prison in all of Mexico. The Rurales used to call him ruthless, but he kept things in order with the prisoners. Peons mostly, that is until one man cost him his career and everything he had ever had. He had heard the talk from others about a boy bandit fighting against the Rurales for justice for the simple farmers of villages being mistreated by Don’s, taking everything they had, leaving barely enough food to survive on. A mestizo, half-breed with blue eyes. This Mexican bandit had soon gained a reputation in and around Sonora as a champion to all the villages. Some called this champion a man, but others would say this man was nothing more than a boy of sixteen when Ramirez first laid eyes on him. For a four months Ramirez would punish this mestizo everyone worshiped. Every day he failed to break him. When the orders came for the Mexican with blue eyes to be executed, Ramirez reveled in the news. Ordering his brother personally to take the blue eyed, dark haired Johnny Madrid out and kill him. When word got back to Ramirez that Madrid had somehow escaped, and killed his brother Jose, Ramirez swore he would not rest until Madrid was caught again, and killed. The Mexican government, angry that Madrid had escaped, needed to blame someone and since Jose was dead, that blame fell on Ramirez, stripping him of everything he had and forcing him to leave the Mexican army, because no prisoner, until Madrid, had ever escaped from a firing squad before. How he had managed to escape, Ramirez could only speculate.  Four guards and his brother, all gunned down, supposedly by Madrid. Only one set of tracks could be found leading away from the place Madrid was to be shot, and those tracks headed straight for the border where he disappeared, never to be heard about again, until now.

“ I made you a promise brother. I shall now keep that promise. Johnny Madrid will pay for killing you. He will die a very slow agonizing death. Your son  Ramon, I will take him with me, and together we will find Madrid in Moro Coyo and avenge your death.” Ramirez said.

Johnny, Scott, Jake, and Marcy rode into Farmington, New Mexico to the livery. Marcy’ horse had a loose shoe, so she had been riding double with Johnny the last ten miles.

“ ¿Tu hablas ingles?” ( You speak English? )  Johnny asked.

“ Si, hablo inglés. What can I do for you senor?”

“ The mare has a loose shoe.” Johnny said as he helped Marcy down.

“ She is a magnificent animal senorita. Would you consider selling her?” the man asked.

“ Thank you, but no, she was a Christmas gift and is very special to me.” Marcy responded.

“ Is it just the mare, or would you like all the horses shoes checked senor Madrid?”

Johnny cringed. Looking at Scott, he wondered how this man knew who he was. He’d never been to Farmington before, not that he could remember. “ You know who I am?” he asked.

“Sí, yo sé de ti. Mi familia está viva gracias a ti. Escribieron contándome cómo Johnny Madrid detuvo a los bandidos Mexicanos de quemar su casa y matarlos.”   ( Yes, I know of you. My family is alive because of you. They wrote telling me how Johnny Madrid stopped Mexican bandits from burning their home, and killing them.)

“ I would prefer you didn’t call me Madrid.” Johnny said.

“ Many people speak of you, especially since the stage came through. They do not believe you would do such a thing. The patron  saint of Mexico would never kill a woman.”

“ Look, we’re kind of on a schedule, so could you just change the mares shoe so we can get going?” Scott asked, sensing his brothers uneasiness.

“ Si. I will have her done in about thirty  minutes.” the man said as he picked up the mares left front foot and pulled the shoe off.

Johnny led his stallion over to the water trough and removed the headset to let him drink.

“ You alright?” Marcy asked as she walked over.

“ Yeah. I guess they know me even in towns I’ve never been in before.” Johnny responded.

“ You’ve never been here before?” Marcy asked.

“ Nope.” Johnny said as he put the bridle back on the stallion. “ We need to get out of here as soon as he’s done with the mare.” Johnny said as he checked his cinch, then walked back over to were Jake and Scott were standing.

“ I’ve seen that look before. Somethings wrong.” Jake said.

“ Check your cinches, I’ll check Marcy’. We need to get out of here as soon as he’s done.” Johnny said.

Three hours later Johnny slowed the stallion down as they entered an area more beautiful than anything any of them had ever seen before.

In the distance stood tall columns of rock, rising out of the red sand floor below.  Sage grew sporadically in places, and the remnants of cedar trees long ago dead could be seen sticking up out of the sand in places.

“ Have you ever seen a place so beautiful?” Marcy asked.

“ Never. I wonder what caused this?” Johnny asked.

“ My guess would be a river ran through here hundreds, if not thousands of years ago and carved this out.” Scott suggested.

“ It’ll be dark soon, so we need to find a place to camp and get a fire going before the sun goes down and the temperature drops.” Johnny said.

“ Let’s ride to the base of those cliffs over there. This time of year there should be water and grass for the horses.” Johnny suggested.

Two hours later Scott added more wood to the fire and set a pot of coffee on a flat stone so it would stay hot. “ You mind telling me what trouble you were expecting to happen back there brother?”

“ You heard him Scott, he knew about the wanted poster on me. I didn’t want to stay around and have someone decide to try and collect on that, and get some innocent person killed.” Johnny answered. “ From now on, you or Jake will ride into town to get our supplies. Me and Marcy will wait outside of town somewhere.”

“ That damn poster. I can’t believe Rose did that.” Jake said. “ You should have let me arrest her for it Johnny.”

“ Why? It wouldn’t change the fact that the wanted poster is out there.” Johnny responded.

“ No, but it would have kept her from raising it to a thousand dollars. Now we have to worry about every gun hawk or idiot who thinks he can draw, trying to collect that reward.”

“ Anyone who’s ever heard my name knows how good I am. If anyone does try to collect on it, they won’t try alone. They’ll ambush me in a town with law so they have a witness to them killing me.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ How far you think the news is about that reward?” Jake asked.

“ Probably all the way to California by now I reckon.” Johnny said before walking off into the darkness.

“ How can he be so calm about this?” Marcy asked.

“ Who says he’s being calm about it?” Jake said. “ You’ll learn what to look for. Trust me, when Johnny says a rider or riders are approaching, believe him. I don’t know how he does it. He may not have a fancy education like you do Scott,but that kid is damn smart, and he knows how to stay alive. What Johnny could teach you, both of you, you can’t learn in no classroom.”

“ I know my brother is smart. I never said he wasn’t. I would give anything to have the knowledge Johnny has.” Scott stated firmly.

“ Is there any Indians in this area we should worry about?” Marcy asked.

“ Don’t know. I expect if there is, we’ll see signs of them.” Jake said.

“ Or be attacked.” Scott added.

“ I don’t really care to be attacked by Apache again.” Jake stated.

“ You were attacked by Apache Jake?” Marcy asked.

“ We all were. It was Apache that killed my prisoner, Addison that I was bringing back to Abilene.” Jake responded.

“ Thank god none of you were hurt.” Marcy said.

“ Johnny was. Got cut real bad fighting one of them before Scott could shoot him.”

“  Johnny fought with an Apache?”

“ Yeah. Had no choice. We were shooting at them coming at us, but a couple snuck round behind us, Johnny turned around just in time to keep the knife from plunging into his back. Got him in his ribs instead. Sliced him open. Scott cauterized it and stitched it up.” Jake explained.

“ Cauterized, what’s that?” Marcy asked.

“ It’s were you take a red hot piece of metal or knife blade and lay it on the wound to stop the bleeding. You can also use gunpowder.” Jake said.

“ I can’t begin to imagine the pain he must have felt.” Marcy said.

“ You usually pass out from the pain while it’s being done.” Johnny said as he walked out of the darkness back to the campfire, and sat down.

“ Something bothering you Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. I’m gonna get some sleep now.” Johnny said as he stretched out on his bedroll and covered up with a blanket.

Jake gave Scott a look that clearly said to let it go for now. He’d known Johnny long enough to know something was bothering him. Something he knew Madrid wouldn’t talk about. He had his suspicions, but wasn’t really sure. He needed to talk to Marcy away from Johnny.

“ This place is incredible. The beauty is unsurpassed.” Marcy said as they rode heading northwest.

“ I’m going to ride ahead and check things out.” Johnny said before spurring the stallion into an easy gallop.

“ Marcy, I need to ask you something and I need you to think real hard about it. I need to know, when Johnny was healing up at the boarding house, did he have any bad dreams, or wake up screaming in a cold sweat?” Jake asked.

“ He tossed and turned a little. One night he was saying something in Spanish and throwing his head from side to side. I tried to wake him up, but he wouldn’t.” Marcy stated.

“ Do you remember what it was he said in Spanish?” Jake asked.

“ Something like…. Ella está muerta por mi culpa. Lo siento mucho.  He kept repeating Lo siento over and over as tears ran down his face.” Marcy said.( she’s dead because of me. I’m so sorry )

“ What is it Jake?” Scott asked. “ What was Johnny saying?”

“ She’s dead because of me. I’m so sorry.” Jake said. “ I don’t think Johnny has accepted it yet Scott.”

“ Is that bad?” Marcy asked.

“ Yes it is. Until Johnny faces that demon, it’s going to keep building up inside, and when he explodes, none of us will be able to stop him.” Jake explained.

“ I don’t understand.” Marcy said.

“ Jake, are you saying Johnny could become dangerous to anyone around him when and if it happens?” Scott asked.

“ Johnny is haunted by every man he has ever killed. A piece of him dies every time some dumb ass calls him out. It makes him sick inside. So sick, I’ve seen him throw up from it. He’s never had an innocent person, especially a woman get killed when he was called out.”

“ You think that because of that damn wanted poster and the man in Farmington knowing about it, that that’s why his attitude has changed?” Scott asked.

“ Mostly. Johnny is sick, and unfortunately, there isn’t any medicine we can give him to make him better. All we can do, is be there when it happens, and pray he doesn’t do something to hurt himself.”

“ Hurt himself?” Marcy asked.

“ Johnny has never called someone out, never. I have a feeling that’s going to happen before we get back to your old mans ranch.”

“ Wait a minute. I remember Johnny said something else. He’s said this several times and just the other night he said it again. It was…..Term…….”

“ Termina mi dolor?” Jake cut in. ( end my pain )

“ That’s it. What does it mean?” Marcy asked.

“ End my pain.” Jake responded.

“ Maybe that doesn’t mean he’s going to call someone out and have them kill him Jake.” Scott suggested.

“ Maybe. I’m just saying we should be ready. When we need supplies, I think only one of us should go into town, and the other stay with Johnny and Marcy.”

“ He may not like that. You said it yourself Jake, Johnny’ smart. He may pick up that we don’t want to leave him alone.”

“ Can I ask you a very personal question Marcy?” Jake asked.

“ I don’t know if I’ll answer it, but yes, you can ask me.”

“ When’s the last time you and Johnny……”

“ Were romantic? In Santa Fe. That night when he asked me to marry him, and I accepted. Why?”

“ He’s distancing himself from you.”

“ Jake, they haven’t exactly had any time alone since Santa Fe.” Scott stated.

“ Hasn’t stopped him before from going off in the dark with me.” Marcy said. “ Here he comes.”

“ Just remember what I said.” Jake said as Johnny galloped up to them and stopped the stallion.

“ Rode that horse pretty hard. Something wrong?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. He needed a good run was all. There’s smoke about ten miles out.”

“ Apache?” Jake asked.

“ I don’t think so. It’s Indian, but not Apache. They don’t like to be known.” Johnny stated as he swung down and loosened his cinch enough he could adjust the saddle. “ You want to let that mare run a bit, this is a good place to do it.” Johnny said as he tightened his cinch and swung back in the saddle.

“ No, I don’t think I will Johnny. She’s pretty special to me. I don’t want to risk her getting hurt running in this red sand.” Marcy responded.

“ Knock it off.” Johnny ordered his stallion. “ That mare is in season Marcy. She gets unmanageable, I want Scott or Jake to ride her.”

“ I can handle her Johnny.” Marcy said firmly.

“ You ever rode a mare that was in season before?” Johnny asked.

“ No, but I can handle Arabella.”

“ Johnny, me and Jake can keep our geldings between them.”

“ You’re right. It’s your horse. I just don’t want you getting hurt is all Marcy.” Johnny said.

“ And I don’t want you getting hurt either Johnny Madrid Lancer.” Marcy said.

Scott looked at Jake and smiled. It was the first time he had ever heard Marcy call Johnny, Lancer. It made him smile.

“ Oh, congratulations little brother. Marcy told us you finally asked her to marry you while in Santa Fe.”

“ Yeah, and she accepted too.” Johnny said with a smile.

Three days later they camped along the Colorado river, letting the horses eat the lush green grass, and rest.

“ Won’t be long and we’ll be in desert where there won’t be any water.” Johnny said as he leaned back against his saddle, and let his cup of coffee rest on his stomach.

“ Yeah. The temps gonna start getting hotter too.” Jake added. “ We might want to pick up a pack horse so we can carry extra supplies and water before we get into the desert.” he suggested.

“ That’s what I was thinking.” Scott said.

“ Why don’t you two ride into Fort Meeks and get some supplies and see about getting a good pack horse?” Johnny asked.

“ I can go alone Johnny.” Scott suggested.

“ I want both of you to go. I would like some time alone with Marcy.”

“ Okay. We’ll leave at first light.” Jake said.

“ I want you two too keep your ears open for any possible trouble.” Johnny said.

“ Trouble as in someone thinking about collecting that reward?” Scott asked.

Johnny never answered Scott. The look he gave him said all he needed to say. A thousand dollars would go a long way for any man foolish enough to try and collect it. He just hoped nobody around Fort Meeks or the ferry crossing were foolish enough to try.

Chapter 10 Research Notes


Chapter 11

Jake and Scott arrived at Fort Meeks mid-morning. Looking around, they spotted what looked like a trading post just outside the Fort with a sign above it saying Lonely Dell settlement. Riding up to the building, they dismounted, and tied their horses off.

“ Looks like this place hasn’t been here all that long.” Scott said as he removed his saddlebags and stepped up onto the plank boardwalk.

“ It sure doesn’t. Some horses in that corral over there. A couple of them look like they’d make a good pack horse.” Jake stated as he also removed his saddlebags, and stepped up onto the plank boardwalk.

“ Yeah. Let’s just hope he has the supplies we need.” Scott said as he opened the door and stepped inside.

“ I tell ya, he’s coming this way.” a man said as Jake and Scott walked in and closed the door.

“ Madrid only goes were there’s money. There ain’t no range wars brewing around here. No shut up you old fool. Can I help you gentlemen?”

“ We need to buy some supplies and a pack horse if ones for sale.” Jake said as the man walked over to them.

“ John Lee, most everyone just calls me JL. I own this place. What sort of supplies you fellas in need of?”

“ Grub and ammunition if you have any?” Scott said.

“ You have a list of what you need?” JL asked.

“ No. We need some hard tack, bacon, beans, coffee, flour., some canned peaches if you have any, and a couple boxes of forty four rounds, oh and a bar os soap.” Jake said.

“ Alright. I can get you all of that. How much you want?”

“ Five pounds of each should do I reckon.” Jake answered.

“ You know of a pack horse for sale?” Scott asked.

“ I have a couple in the corral across the way. Young, good, sound stock.” JL said.

“ How much for one?” Scott asked.

“ Oh I could let you have the big bay gelding for seventy five dollars.”

Scott looked at Jake. “ I settle up here if you want to go take a look at him.”

“ Let’s see, that’s about everything. Oh, your friend comes back and decides he wants that horse, you’re gonna need gear. I can sell that to ya for twenty.” JL said as Jake walked back in the store.

“ Looks like a good sound animal. Seventy five dollars is a good price. We’ll take him.” Jake said.

“ Alright. Let’s see, that will be one hundred and ten dollars.” JL said. “ I got the pack gear out in the back if you want to get that bay and bring him over. Martha, you mind the store while I help these gentlemen.”

Scott paid the man and grabbed his saddlebags from the counter, and headed toward the front door.

“ Hey, you gents heard about the reward?” a man asked.

“ No. What reward is that?” Jake asked as he grabbed his saddlebags and started toward the door with Scott.

“ The thousand dollars offered for Johnny Madrid. He was in Farmington and is headed this way. Four men rode in yesterday, said they were tracking him.”

“ Johnny Madrid, doesn’t he run down below the Mexican border?” Scott asked.

“ He was in Abilene for the winter. I guess one of those fellas seen him there. He was riding with three others. The four of them are going to try and collect on that reward. Said they would kill him, and take his body to the law so they could collect the money.”

“Now that you mention it, I seen that reward poster, it’s a private bounty. The law won’t pay. Whoever kills him, if they’re fast enough, would have to take his body all the way back to Abilene to collect it.” Jake said. “ They mention any names?”

“ I think the one in charge the others called Dirty Steve.” the man said.

“ All those men are going to get, is dead. Madrid is deadly with a gun. I wouldn’t be crazy enough to go up against him.” Scott added.

“ I seen him gun down two of the best in Nogales once. Nope, won’t find me trying to kill him.” Jake added. “ You ready?”

“ Yeah, if you’ll excuse us, we need to get going.” Scott said as he opened the door.

Johnny lay on his blanket, holding Marcy in his arms as the sun shined down on their naked bodies. “ So what kind of wedding do you want to have?” he asked.

Marcy rolled over onto her side so she could look at him. “ Nothing fancy. I’d like a nice wedding dress, but it don’t have to be fancy. I won’t know anyone, so I guess it would be up to you and your family who all is there.”

“ We can have a private wedding, Just Scott, Jake, Murdoch and Teresa if you want? I’ve never been one for big crowds.”

“ That sounds fine to me. What about a preacher to marry us?”

“ Father Michael is a really nice man. I’m sure he would marry us.” Johnny said.

“ Father Michael, he’s a catholic priest isn’t he?” Marcy asked.

“ Yeah, I’m catholic. My whole family is as well as most of the hands that work at Lancer. Is that a problem?”

“ No, no. It’s just that…….I have no………I never attended a church. My parents didn’t either.”

“ That’s okay. Father Micheal won’t judge you on that. He doesn’t even have to know.” Johnny said as he rolled onto his right side to face her. “ Marcy, nobody is going to judge you, or think bad of you just because you don’t have a religion. Look at me, Murdoch talked me into going to church and I met Father Micheal, he accepted me for who I am. He didn’t judge me, and he won’t judge you either.”

“ How many children do you want Johnny?”

“ As many as you can give me.” Johnny said with a smile. “ No, I’d like at least a son and a daughter.”

“ That’s what I’d like too.” Marcy said as she moved closer and brought her right leg up over his, and let her hand start wandering down his chest to his stomach. “ Think we have time before they get back?” she asked.

Johnny rolled over onto his back and pulled Marcy on top of him, to straddle him. “ I think so.” he said as he sat up and pulled her legs around him so he could enter her. “ What’s wrong?” Johnny asked.

“ I’m scared your father won’t like me.” Marcy said.

“ Not a chance.” Johnny said. “ He’s going to love having you as part of the family.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth as he started to move inside her.

“ You going to tell Johnny what we heard?” Jake asked.

“ Yes. He needs to know there are four men out there tracking him.” Scott responded.

“ From the sound of it. They think he’s traveling alone.” Jake said.

“ Yeah, I was thinking that too. So maybe that will give us an edge if we meet up with them.” Scott suggested.

“ The one that seen Johnny in Abilene, he knows what he looks like.” Jake stated.“ He’ll also know what me and you look like, and wonder why we’re with him.”

“ Let’s get back. I don’t like Johnny being alone with those four out there somewhere gunning for him.” Scott said as he kicked his horse into a gallop..

“ I sure hope they have their clothes on when we ride in.” Jake said as he kicked his horse into an easy gallop.

“ Riders coming, three horses. Go over behind those rocks until I know who it is.” Johnny said.

Marcy hurried over behind the rocks as Johnny picked up his rifle and  stood ready at the fire.

“ Johnny, don’t shoot.” Scott yelled.

“ Come on in.” Johnny said as he put the rifle down. “ Marcy, come on out. It’s Jake and Scott.”

Marcy walked out from behind the rocks. “ You got a pack horse I see.” she stated as she walked over to Johnny.

“ Yeah. Got him for a good price.” Jake said.

“ Any trouble?” Johnny asked.

Scott dismounted. “ Possible trouble coming.” he responded. “ It seems four men were there yesterday. A man at the fort said one of the men was in Abilene and knows what you look like. He was riding with three other men. Said they plan on killing you and taking your body to the nearest law to collect the bounty.”

“ Four of them huh?” Johnny asked as he knelt down and poured two cups of coffee. “ Those horses are pretty sweaty, we’ll let them rest and leave at first light.  Why don’t you two unsaddle your horses and stake them out so they can graze? I’ll take care of the pack horse.” Johnny suggested. “ They mention any names?” he asked as he walked over to the pack horse and started undoing the rope holding the tarp over the supplies to keep it dry.

“ He said one of them was called Dirty Steve.” Scott responded as he undid his cinch and pulled his saddle and blanket off and carried them over by the fire.

“ Damn.” Johnny said as he pulled the tarp off the pack.

“ You know them Johnny?” Marcy asked as she walked over to help him unload the supplies.

“ Yeah, I know them. Dirty Steve, got his name because he’s just that, dirty. He’ll shoot you in the back or split you open with a big Bowie knife he carries.” Johnny stated. “ The other three are probably Texas Jack,  a mane called Rube, who likes to rape women, and Dutch Charley.”

“ Texas Jack got his name from killing a man during a poker game. The man had four Jacks and and everybody started calling him that afterwards.” Jake added.

“ Dutch Charley, nobody knows really how he got his name. He’s a dead shot with a rifle and carries a sticker behind his neck he can throw faster than some men can draw.” Johnny added.

“ I doubt he’s faster than you are with that sticker you carry in your right boot.” Jake said.

‘ Sticker, what’s that?” Marcy asked.

“ A well balanced knife. Usually double sided and light. About eight inches in all.” Jake told her.

“ And you carry one of these in your right boot Johnny?” Marcy asked.

“ Yeah I do. Never pays to have a little extra protection. It’s saved my hide a time or two.” Johnny said as he led the pack horse over and staked him out so he could graze and reach the water.

Juan Ramirez and his nephew Ramon rode into San Diego early morning. Having left Nogales only a week ago, he figured in four weeks he could be in Moro Coyo and avenge his brothers death. Here he hoped to find more  men willing to ride with him and help capture Madrid. Three had willing joined him in Yuma, here in San Diego, he hoped to find more.

“ Madrid is good. Do you believe we can take him with these men we found in Yuma, uncle?”

“  These three and we will find more here.” Ramirez responded. “ There will be men. A man like Johnny Madrid always has someone willing to try and take his reputation. We just have to ask around in the right places. We will find a place to bed down for the night and I will ask around.”

Two days later Juan Ramirez and his nephew rode out of San Diego with seven men, all wanting a piece of Madrid. All willing to try and kill him just for his reputation. As long as Madrid was still alive, none of them could make decent money on a range war or any other kind of job that demanded guns. All of them very familiar with Madrid. All of them having  worked either with or against Madrid at some time along the border. Tulsa Jack, Cherokee Bill, Little Dick, Bronco Bill, Sandy King, Red Irving,  and The Apache Kid, all hated Madrid with a vengeance and gladly accepted Ramirez request for guns to kill Johnny Madrid. Their payment would be taking Madrid’ reputation. A price more valuable than money.

“ Are you sure Madrid is going this way?” Texas Jack asked.

“ He was in Farmington and headed west when he left there.” Dirty Steve said.

“ Yeah, but he could have headed north or even south.” Rube cut in. “ And what about those two other men he’s riding with?”

“ Look, any time you two want to leave, you can.” Dutch Charley said firmly.

“We ain’t leaving Dutch. We just want to make sure we haven’t missed Madrid somewhere along the way.” Texas Jack said.

“ Nobody had seen Madrid at Fort Meeks. He could be laying low.” Texas Jack said.

“ Maybe he’s staying out of towns now and those other two are getting the supplies needed?” Dirty Steve suggested.

“ We catch up to him, I get first dibs on that woman if she’s still riding with him.” Rube said.

“ Rube, you even think about raping that woman while I’m around, and I’ll split you open from your belly to your dick.” Dirty Steve said.

“ What if we’re ahead of Madrid,  Dirty Steve? They could have camped out somewhere for a couple days.” Rube asked.

“ Yeah, what if they rode through that red sand valley instead of around it like we did?” Texas Jack asked.

“ We could hold up a few days in a settlement in Kanab, Utah. If we are ahead of Madrid, he would pass right by there. It’s about a days ride north of us.” Texas Jack suggested.

“ They have any women there?” Rube asked.

“ We’re not going to no Mormon settlement. We keep going west.” Dirty Steve said firmly.

“ We’re gonna need to find someplace in the next day or two for supplies.” Texas Jack  said.

“ We’ll get supplies once we cross into Nevada and not before then.” Dirty Steve said with anger.

Murdoch was sitting at his desk going over the books for the month when a knock on the door made him look u.

“ Yes.”

“ Mister Lancer, I was in town getting a few things for Miss Teresa and you had this letter there.” Frank said as he took the letter out of his coat pocket and handed it to him.

“ Thank you Frank. Have some men ride up to the north line shack and see what all repairs  need to be done up there.”

“ Yes sir.” Frank said before turning to leave.. “ Miss Teresa.” he said as he walked past her and out the door.

“ Is that from Scott?” she asked.

“ I don’t know.” Murdoch said as he opened the letter. “ I don’t think so.” he said as he pulled the letter out of the envelope and opened it to read. “ No, it’s from the Pinkerton man I used in San Diego, when I was looking for Johnny.” Murdoch said as he sat down at his desk.

Mister Lancer
I am writing to you to let you know of some disturbing news I have learned. Last week a man named Juan Ramirez rode into San Diego with three men and left with seven headed to California. To Moro Coyo to be precise sir. This Ramirez is the brother of the man ordered to execute your son in a Mexican prison near Nogales, Mexico. Madrid, with the help of another Pinkerton agent, was able to escape and killed the Rurale guards, including Ramirez brother, Jesus. This man I learned was let go from the Mexican army after Madrid escaped. The Mexican government was not happy Madrid had escaped. It would seem no man had ever escaped from that prison before. Since all the guards were dead, they blamed Ramirez for it and banished him to a life of squalor and took everything from him. Jesus’ son, Ramon rides with Ramirez to help avenge his fathers death. All seven of these men riding with him are gunfighters, and every one of them has a score to settle with your son, or want his reputation. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I felt you should know.


Sam Davis, Pinkerton agent
San Diego district.

“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said as he let the letter fall from his hands.

“ Murdoch, what’s wrong?” Teresa asked.

“ I will not lose that boy again. Johnny gets back here, I’m not letting him leave Lancer again. I’ll kill every one of those sonsofbitches.”

Teresa picked up the letter and read it. “ We have to warn him.” she said.

“ How? I don’t even know where he’s at. Scott said he would write when they were closer. He could be anywhere.”

“ There’s got to be something you can do?” Teresa asked. “ Johnny’ going to be riding right into a trap.”

“ I know. I just don’t know how to warn him.” Murdoch said. “ If only Scott would send a wire letting us know the area they are in.”

“ Good morning Scott. I have hot coffee that’s about ready, and some biscuits about done.” Marcy said.

“ Good morning.” Scott said as he sat up and looked around. “ Johnny up?”

“ Yes. He’s checking the horses.” Marcy responded as she poured him a cup of coffee, and handed it to him. “ I figured I would make the coffee this morning. I can only handle that strong stuff we’ve been drinking for so long.”

“ What, you don’t like my coffee?” Johnny said as he walked over. “ Morning brother.”

“ Morning. Marcy, this is very good coffee. It doesn’t taste like my brother put a rusty horseshoe in it.”

“ Hey now. I don’t always put a rusty horseshoe in it. Sometimes I use a new one.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Did I hear someone say they don’t like your horseshoe coffee Johnny?” Jake said as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.

“ It would seem, Marcy and Scott don’t like it.” Johnny said.

“ Hell, Johnny’ coffee will put hair on your chest.” Jake said as he flipped the blanket off him and got up. “ Do I smell biscuits?”

“ Yes you do Jake. I made some and they are almost done.” Marcy said as she lifted the lid off the pot to check the biscuits.

“ Marcy, I have something I want you to carry with you at all times.” Johnny said.

“ Okay. What is it?” Marcy asked.

Johnny pulled out a knife and handed it to her. “ Carry it on the inside of your boot, like I do.”

“ Okay.” Marcy said as she took the knife from him. “ Thank you.”

“ Sun will be up soon. Which way you want to go Johnny, since we have those four ahead of us somewhere?” Jake asked.

“ Same direction we’ve been heading I guess. I’m not going to let those four or anyone else stop me from going home Jake.”

“ We’re in Nevada now. The next settlement we come to, we need to buy plenty of supply to get us to Bishop, California.” Johnny said.

“ Where’s the next settlement going to be?” Marcy asked.

“ Silver Peak, if my memory serves me right. It’s a silver mining settlement, not really a town when I came through. They have tents instead of buildings. We can all use a bath, shave and haircut.” Jake said.

“ I could use a bath, but no shave.” Marcy said with a laugh. “ I know a certain somebody who could use a shave, and a hair cut.” she added.

“ You going to ride into Silver Peak, Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ I’m not going to get a bath and shave unless I do Scott.” Johnny responded.

“ Will these miners be friendly?” Marcy asked.

“ Most mining camps just go about their business. They probably won’t pay us any mind Marcy. We’ll make sure you stay safe.” Jake said.

“ I’ll kill any man who touches you.” Johnny said coldly.

Murdoch rode into Moro Coyo and stopped at the church, and was greeted by Father Micheal.

“ Mister Lancer. To what do I owe this visit?” he asked.

“ Father, I was wondering if you could come out to the ranch after Sunday service? I have something important  I need to discuss with you.” Murdoch asked.

“ From the sound in your voice, I would assume this has to do with Johnny?” he asked.

“ Yes. Can you come?” Murdoch asked.

“ Of course, but if it is urgent, I can come out tomorrow if you’d like instead?” Father Micheal suggested.

“ The sooner I talk to you about this, the better. Tomorrow would be fine.”

“ Then I shall see you tomorrow.” Father Micheal responded.

Murdoch headed back to the ranch. Tomorrow he would talk to Father Micheal about how to talk to his youngest about what happened in Abilene and most importantly, about the man Ramirez coming to Moro Coyo to kill his son. He knew Johnny’ past could and possibly would show up at times, but he figured it would be someone wanting to take his reputation as Johnny had called it. Never had he thought a man would come all the way from Mexico, with so much hate for his son escaping from a Mexican prison. If the man had still been a Rurale, he could have him arrested, but since one man calling out another for a gunfight wasn’t against the law, al he could do was pray and help his son in every possible way. Seven gunfighters were riding with this man. Seven gunfighters from his sons past, Murdoch silently cursed these men as he rode along. Men he didn’t know if his son knew or not. How would these men do this? Would they attack his son together, or would they call him out one by one? So many questions, and not a single answer to any of them. All he could do is pray Scott wrote to them, and soon, so he would know where they were and ride out with some men from the ranch to meet them for added protection.

“ Did you see Father Micheal?” Teresa asked as Murdoch rode into the yard and dismounted.

“ Yes. He’s coming out tomorrow.” Murdoch responded. “ Cipriano, I need to speak to you in the house.” Murdoch said before heading inside. “ Teresa, would you excuse us?”

“ Alright. I’ll go check on lunch.” Teresa said before walking away.

“ You wanted to see me Patron?” Cipriano asked as he walked into the grand room.

“ Yes. Johnny and Scott will be home in a couple weeks I’m hoping. I received a letter from a Pinkerton agent in San Diego, that helped me look for Johnny. He said a week or so ago a man named Juan Ramirez rode into San Diego with three gunfighters, and rode out with seven. He’s coming here, to Moro Coyo, to kill Johnny.” Murdoch explained.

“ I have heard of this man Ramirez. He is brutal. Un hombre sin alma. ( a man with no soul )  My people have feared this man for many years. He is a Rurale, he cannot come here for Juanito.” Cipriano said.

“ He can, and he is. He was fired from the Mexican army after Johnny escaped the prison in Nogales. It seems Johnny killed his brother while escaping, and the Mexican government wasn’t happy about it, so they fired him.” Murdoch explained. “ Also it seems while Johnny was in Abilene, he was called out, and an innocent woman was killed. That woman’s niece, has offered a reward of one thousand dollars for Johnny dead.”

“ Madre de dios. Juanito será perseguido por esto. ( Mother of God. Johnny will be haunted by this ) Cipriano said.

“ Johnny is haunted by a lot of things he’s done. This was clearly not his fault, but from the letter I received, this niece believes he was, and wants him dead for it. I’m not going to let that happen. Now Scott said he would wire when they got close. As soon as I get that wire, and know where they are, I want ten men ready to ride with me to meet up with them. I’m not about to sit by and let that bastard and the gunmen he brought with him, kill my son.”

“ I will speak to the men tonight about this. I will have ten of our best ready to go senor.” Cipriano said.

“ Good. I knew I could count on you. Thank you my old friend.” Murdoch said.

“ Juanito is my nephew. I will be there when he needs me.” Cipriano said before heading out the door.

Silver Peak was just like Jake had described. Sheep tents were set up on both sides of the street. Some big, others small. Signs, crudely made, were nailed to post telling of what business could be found inside. Some miners stopped and stared as the four rode into town, others went about their business, and paid them no more than a glance.

“ Juanito.” a female voice called out from in front of a tent with a sign reading saloon.

Johnny stopped his horse, his hand going to his gun as he looked in the direction the name came. Seeing who had called out his name, Johnny guided the stallion over and dismounted.

“ Belle, what on earth are you doing here in Silver Peak, Nevada?” Johnny asked.

Belle stepped up to Johnny and pulled him into a big hug, before planting her lips on his.

Marcy couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her future husband, right in front of her, kissing a woman wearing scantly any clothes.

“ Marcy, I’m sure she’s nothing more than a friend to Johnny.” Scott said.

“ If she was only a friend, she wouldn’t be kissing him like that.” Marcy said before getting off her horse and walking over to Johnny, and Belle. “ You mind getting your filthy hands off my fiance.” she demanded.

Belle stopped kissing Johnny and looked at Marcy. “ Honey, I’ve known Johnny way longer than you are in age, so relax” Belle said firmly as she once again pulled Johnny into a  kiss.

Johnny always loved the feel of Belle when they were together. The woman knew how to satisfy his every need in one night. At just sixteen years of age, he met Belle in a small Texas border town, and was educated real quick, in one night just about, on the things a woman likes and don’t like.

Marcy grabbed Belle’ arm and yanked her away from Johnny. “ I’m not going to tell you again. Keep your hands off Johnny.”

“ Hey, take it easy Marcy. Belle was just saying hello.” Johnny cut in.

“ Yeah, and I suppose you were just saying hello back with your tongue in her mouth?” Marcy demanded.

“ Wow, I must have the wrong Juanito. The Johnny I knew would never let a woman tell him what he can or cannot do.” Belle said.

“ You better get your priorities straightened out right now Johnny. Your past with these whores had better stop, and I mean stop now.” Marcy ordered as she stood there glaring at Johnny.

“ It’s you I love okay? It’s you I’m marrying. You accepted my past, all of my past, when you got involved with me. Some of that past is with women Marcy. I owe my life to Belle. So I suggest before you go passing judgment on someone you don’t know, you start trusting me, because if you can’t, then we will have no future together.” Johnny said firmly. “ It was good seeing you Belle.” Johnny said as he went to his horse and swung up in the saddle.

Marcy walked over and got back on her horse. “ I have no problem with you having women friends as you call them Johnny, but don’t you ever kiss one of those so called friends in front of me like that ever again.” Marcy ordered. “ Jake, Scott, lets go find a bath house.”

Scott looked at his brother, shook his head, and sighed.

That night about ten miles out of Silver Peak, Johnny tried talking to Marcy.

“ You still mad at me?” he asked.

“ What do you think?” she snapped back. “ How would you feel if that was me Johnny? How would you like it if I went up to Jake over there, and kissed him the way you kissed that……that whore?”

“ I told you, she saved my life. Yeah kissing her like I did was wrong. I apologized to you for that. You didn’t have to make a scene the way you did. You could have talked to me about it later in private, instead of treating a friend of mine like you did.”

“ A friend of yours. A friend is someone like Jake, Johnny, not a whore you openly and blatantly stick your tongue in the mouth of.” Marcy snapped back.

“ Hey, I think you two need to calm down.” Jake cut in.

“ Marcy’ right Johnny.  You were wrong in kissing Belle like you did.” Scott added.

“ It was a natural response. Jesus Christ, it’s not like I went off and fucked her Marcy. ” Johnny said angrily “ If you want to kiss Jake like that, fine. I don’t own you. Not until we’re married.” Johnny  said before standing up and walking off into the darkness.

“ You ever do that again, and there won’t be no wedding.” Marcy said angrily.

“ Marcy, can I talk to you as a friend?” Jake asked.

“ Don’t tell me I accepted his past showing up when I got involved with him Jake. I will accept his past, but what he did today in Silver Peak was wrong.” Marcy said with a shaky voice.

“ Johnny loves you. I’m not saying what he did today was right, because it wasn’t, but you have to remember this, It’s you he asked to marry him, just like it’s you he asked to come two thousand miles back to California with. It’s also you Johnny wants to share everything he has with.” Jake said.

“ Marcy, Johnny is hurting inside right now. He’s hurting from that woman in Abilene being killed, and now he’s hurting from this morning, and possibly what you just said to him out of anger. All that hurt is going to build up until he explodes, or gives up. Now I for one don’t want my little brother giving up and going back to a life of living by his damn gun. Both of you handled that situation childishly this morning, especially you.” Scott added

“ Actually Scott, I don’t think Marcy has or ever will accept Johnny’ past, not if  she acts like that when a woman from his past shows up.” Jake suggested.

“ You do seem a little insecure about my brother Marcy.” Scott said.

Johnny slept at the edge of the camp last night, barely keeping warm. Up early, he had all the horses saddled and the pack horse ready to be loaded when Scott walked over with a cup of coffee.

“ Figured you could use this.” he said as he handed Johnny the steaming cup of coffee.

“ Thanks. Figured I wasn’t really wanted around camp, so I slept out here near the horses.” Johnny said as he took the cup of coffee.

“ Can I give you a little brotherly advice?” Scott asked.

“ Sure.”

“ Tell Marcy. Yesterday she showed me and Jake that she’s not ready to accept your past and who you were. Tell her about these women from your past especially the ones who helped you like Belle. I think if Marcy had known she helped you, she wouldn’t have gotten so upset with you.” Scott suggested.

“ I kissed her Scott, that’s why Marcy is so mad at me. I kissed Belle in a way I shouldn’t have.”

“ Yes you did, but you were caught up in the moment. You had something with this woman in your past and Marcy, even Jake and me didn’t know about it. You keep so much of your life a secret, and I think it’s because you think me and Murdoch would be ashamed of you. Johnny, I love you. Nothing you tell me will make me not love you little brother.”

“ You know, you really can be a pain in the ass sometimes Scott, but I hear what you’re saying, and I agree with you, but how do I know she doesn’t act that way if we’re in Moro Coyo and one of the girls there sees me?”

“ You let them know you’re married, and no longer need their services.” Scott suggested. “ Now, stop spoiling that stallion, and come get some breakfast.”

Marcy had been standing just out of view, listening to Scott talk to Johnny. She knew what happened yesterday shouldn’t, at least not the way it did. Stepping out of the brush she walked over to them.

“ Can I have a moment alone with Johnny, Scott?” she asked.

“ Sure, as long as you two don’t fight.” Scott said before walking away.

“ Hi, I heard what Scott said to you…….Listen Johnny, I was wrong yesterday, and I’m sorry. I should have known you would have female friends of a different nature from your past. I was just shocked I guess. I mean, you get off your horse and kiss this woman like your going to take her to bed. It angered me, and I shouldn’t have let it. I’m sorry. Can you ever forgive me?”

Johnny stood there listening to her, watching her eyes. He could always tell if someone was telling the truth by watching their eyes. Marcy was.

“ Most of the women I’ve ever been with are whores Marcy, down along the border towns. I’ve been with a few in Moro Coyo at the brothel there a few times. Also in Green River. That’s in my past, my future is with you, not them. I was stabbed and beaten when Belle found me in an alley. She dragged me inside and nursed me back to health. I was sixteen years old. If she hadn’t helped me, I would have died. I will always be grateful to her for saving my life.”

Marcy stepped closer to Johnny. I don’t want to fight with you ever again. Especially about another woman.” she said.

Johnny put his arms around her, and pulled her to his chest. “ I didn’t sleep much last night, worried I had lost you.”

“ Not a chance. People say things they don’t mean when they quarrel. We both did last night.”

“ Marcy, last night you said something that’s been bothering me, and I need an honest answer about.”

“ Okay, what?”

“ Do you have feelings for Jake?” Johnny asked.

“ Jake, hell no. I’ve known Jake for a long time, but we are just friends and always will be. I just said that to try and make a point with you last night about how I felt when you kissed Belle in front of me. That’s all Johnny.”

“ Good, because I would really hate to have to hurt my best friend.” Johnny said as he took her hand in his and pulled her with him to his bedroll and claimed her mouth as he started to undo her pants.

“ I don’t hear no fighting. You think they’re okay?” Jake asked.

“ I’m sure they are.” Scott said.

“ Yeah, probably making up right now.” Jake said with a grin.

Father Micheal stopped his buggy in the Lancer yard and climbed down. Walking over to the big oak front door, he knocked.

“ Father Micheal, it’s so good to see you.” Teresa said upon opening the door. “ Murdoch said you would be out today. We were about to have some lunch. Would you care to join us?”

“ That would be fine Miss Teresa.” Father Micheal responded as he stepped into the big house and followed Teresa to the kitchen.

“ Father Micheal, please sit down.” Murdoch said. “ Teresa, would you set another plate for Father Micheal?”

“ Of course. I hope stew and cornbread is alright?” she asked as she set a plate and  bowl down in front of him.

“ Stew sounds fine. I’m afraid you might be spoiling me on your good cooking Miss Teresa.”

“ Why thank you Father. I’m glad you like it.”

“ So, what is it you wished to talk to me about Mister Lancer?”

“ It’s about Johnny. If you will excuse me for a minute, I will go get the letters, so you can read them.” Murdoch said as he stood up.

“ I take it, you know what is in the letters?”

“ Yes. Murdoch let me read them. They’re from the Pinkerton’. I’m scared Father Micheal.” Teresa said as Murdoch walked back into the kitchen.

“ This happened in Abilene.” Murdoch said as he handed the letter to Father Micheal to read.

Father Micheal took the letter and began reading it. When he was finished, he set the letter down on the table. “ This was a most unfortunate accident. From what I read there, it was not your sons fault.”

“ No, no it wasn’t Johnny’ fault, but I’m worried he will blame himself for it since it happened when he was called out.” Murdoch responded.

“ Yes, are you asking me how to address this with your son when he comes home?”

“ Johnny doesn’t talk about his past with us Father Micheal. Me and Murdoch think he hasn’t talked about it at all.” Teresa said.

“ You cannot force someone to talk about something they wish not to talk about. Perhaps it will be to painful for him to talk about. May I suggest that, when Johnny gets home, after a few days, you make the suggestion to him. Tell him that if he wants to talk to you about anything that happened while he was in Abilene, you are more than willing to listen, and you will not judge him on what he says.”

“ I received this just the other day.” Murdoch said as he handed Father Micheal the other letter.

Taking the second letter, Father Micheal began reading it. Concern clearly visible on his face when he finished. “ So nine men are coming to Moro Coyo to kill your son. Does Johnny know about this?”

“ No, not yet. Until I hear from Scott, I have no way of knowing were they’re at, or which way they are coming.” Murdoch responded.

“ When do you expect to hear from him?”

“ He said in his last telegram, that he would wire us when they got closer.”

“ What are you going to do?”

“ As soon as I know, I will be riding out to meet them with ten of my best. If I get my son back this time. I’m not losing him to someone just for a damn reputation.” Murdoch said with anger. “ I’m sorry. Please forgive me for my anger.”

“ That is quit alright. I would expect nothing less than a father to be angry. I know I would if it were my son.”

“ Murdoch, tell Father Micheal the good news.”

“ Good news?” Father Micheal asked.

“ It would seem my son has fallen in love with a young lady while in Abilene, and she is coming here to Lancer with him. Scott wrote in his letter that Johnny would be asking Marcy to marry him, and that they want the wedding here at Lancer.” Murdoch told Father Micheal.

“ That is wonderful news. Your son more than deserves to have someone to love in his life. Perhaps they will give you grandchildren.”

“ Father Micheal, would you marry them?” Teresa asked.

“ I would love to, but I think that decision is up to Johnny and his fiance to decide.” Father Micheal responded.

“ I believe Johnny will want you to perform the ceremony.” Murdoch said.

“ Do you plan on warning the town of this Ramirez and the men coming with him?” Father Micheal asked.

“ Would you care for a glass of cold milk Father, or some coffee?” Teresa asked.

“ Milk will be fine child. Thank you.”

“ I’ve been thinking about that Father, and I think that the town should be put on alert to what is coming.” Murdoch responded.

“ You do realize, this could be bad for you and your son. Some people in the town still do not like him and were happy when he left. Unfortunately, I have heard some talk of this, hoping he does not come back, while others have asked if I have heard anything about him.”

“ Johnny has had people hate him his whole life. I myself am guilty of hating my own son.”

“ We all make mistakes, but I think that what is important is that you realize your mistakes and correct them while there is still time to do so. God sees the good in all. If a person truly want s to change for the better, he will do so regardless of the consequences. Your son has a good heart. He will come home and with time he will be Johnny Lancer more than Johnny Madrid.” Father Micheal said.

“ I know a part of him will always be Madrid. I just wish he could have a chance to be Johnny Lancer only.”

“ His coming back here should tell you that that is what he is willing to try and be. Do not be to surprised if he has some conditions in his staying here.”

“ Father Micheal, I am and will do whatever I have to do to keep both my sons from leaving Lancer ever again. I built this ranch for them, and I want them to be part of it.”

“ Murdoch, you say that, but are you willing to be more open to there suggestions, especially Johnny’?” Teresa asked.

“ As long as it’s for the better of the ranch and it’s future, yes.” Murdoch answered.

“ But don’t we all learn from our mistakes Mister Lancer?”

“ Yes, I for one can attest to that Father.”

“ And have you learned from that?” Father Micheal asked.

“ In more ways than you know.” Murdoch responded. “ You know, talking to you has really helped me since the boys have been gone.”

“ Well I must say, it is a pleasure, and I’m glad you find solace in our conversations. Sadly, I must go. I promised I would visit with Ben and his wife and see their newborn baby. Miss Teresa, thank you for a wonderful lunch.”

“ Your welcome. I enjoy your visits Father Micheal.” Teresa said as she stood up and started clearing the dishes.

“ I’ll walk you out.” Murdoch said.

“ Miss Teresa is a very good cook. She will make someone a very good wife.” Father Micheal said as he climbed up in his buggy.

“ Yes she will. I don’t think any of the boys around here have caught her eye though.” Murdoch said.

“ Perhaps she feels that any of the young men around here will only be courting her because of what you have?”

“ Perhaps I should have a talk with her? She is seventeen now.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Well, I will see you on Sunday.”

“ Give Ben my best.”

“ I will.” Father Micheal said before slapping the reins to get the horse moving.

Chapter 11 Research Notes


Chapter 12


Juan Ramirez rode into Los Angeles a week after leaving San Diego. The closer he got to Moro Coyo, the stronger his hatred for Madrid burned. Never had he been to a town so big, with so many people hustling about. Construction of new buildings seemed to be happening everywhere. Having rode hard, their horses needed  rest and grain. Finding a livery stable finally the men dismounted and left their horses with instructions on hay and grain, that they would be leaving early morning.

“ Man, I’ve never seen so damn many people in one place.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ All I care about is a bath, something to eat and a good whore.” Cherokee Bill said.

“ I’m for that.” Bronco Bill added. “ How about the rest of you?”

“ As long as I don’t have to eat with no chili bean, I’m in.” Sandy said.

“ You might want to watch your mouth Sandy. That chili bean is taking us to Madrid.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ I wonder why he has such a hate for Madrid?” Cherokee Bill asked.

“ Remember when Madrid escaped from that prison in Nogales, well he killed that mans brother. Hell you all know how Madrid toyed with the Rurales.” Bronco Bill said.

“ Hell we did our fair share of toying with them greaser bastards, at least I did on more than one occasion.” Sandy said. “ I hate Mexicans and I especially hate half-breed Mexicans.”

“ That why you want to try and kill Madrid, because you hate Mexicans?” Tulsa Jack asked.

“ Why not. A gringo father, and a Mexican whore mother, Killing Madrid is going to be a pleasure.” Sandy responded.

“ Lets get a bottle, I need to talk to you fellas away from Ramirez.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ Can’t it wait until after we have a bath?” Cherokee Bill asked.

“ Alright, we’ll all meet in two hours here at that eating place across the street. So I suggest you get that bath and get to fucking that whore you want pronto.” Tulsa Jack ordered.

“ You sound serious. A bath and whore can wait for me Tulsa Jack.” Cherokee Bill said.

“ Red, you’ve been pretty quiet. You want to hear what I have to say now, or wait till after?” Tulsa Jack asked.

“ I can wait. How about you Bronco and Apache Kid?”

“ We can wait. Let’s go get something to eat and hear what you got to say.” Bronco Bill said.

All seven men walked across the street and entered the cafe. A few minutes later they were seated at a big table in the back so nobody could hear them.

“ Okay Tulsa, let’s hear it.” Cherokee Bill said.

“ Sandy hit on it with what he said outside. Madrid has a gringo father. We all know, or at least some of us know, Madrid’ mother died when he was ten. Hell he hunted the man down that killed his mother, and killed him when he was eleven or so.”

“ Yeah, that’s no big news.” Bronco said.

“ I did a job with Madrid a few years ago, and he told me he had a gringo father that lived in California, the San Joaquin valley. Said he has a big ranch there and that one day he was going to go there and kill the man for throwing him and his mother out when he was just a baby.” Tulsa Jack stated.

“ So. Ramirez is going to Moro Coyo to find Madrid and kill him.” Sandy said.

“ Ramirez only knows Madrid is around Moro Coyo somewhere. He doesn’t know where Madrid’ old man lives. Where that ranch is, or the name of it.”

“ I don’t get what you’re saying Tulsa.” Red said.

“ Madrid isn’t his last name. It’s Lancer.” Tulsa responded.

“ Lancer…….holy shit, that’s the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin valley. They say it’s over a hundred thousand acres.” Little Dick said.

“ Wait a minute. Isn’t that the ranch that Day Pardee and about twenty five men tried to take possession of a couple years back?” Red asked.

“ Yeah, that’s the one.” Tulsa responded.

“ I’m out.” Apache kid said as he stood up. “ You fellas go on ahead and try to kill Madrid, me, I’m going back to my people.”

“ I’m out too.” Bronco Bill said as he too stood up.

 “ Madrid is still alive because he’s the best. I’m not going to risk my life trying to kill him for no greaser.” Little Dick said as he stood up also. I wish you fellas the best. Maybe I’ll see you all again in hell someday.”

Cherokee Bill, Red , Sandy and Tulsa Jack, sat watching as Bronco Bill, Little Dick, and Apache Kid walked out of the cafe.

“ That leaves just us.” Tulsa Jack  said.

“ Only the best, to kill the best.” Sandy said.

Ramirez was pissed when he learned that three of the men decided not to ride with him last night.

“ What do we do now uncle?” Ramon asked.

“ We continue on to Moro Coyo. Those men that left last night are cowards. We do not need men like that with us.” Ramirez said.

“ But we only have six men now.” Ramon said.

“ Madrid is good, but he cannot kill six men before he is killed.” Ramirez stated.

“ So this is Bishop, California?” Texas Jack asked as they rode into the mining town.

“ Yeah, they say it sprung up almost overnight. Ranchers are making good money selling beef to feed all these miners.” Dirty Steve said

“ You sure Madrid will ride through here?” Rube asked.

“ He’ll come through. He’s headed back to the San Joaquin valley. He’s gotta pass right through here.”  Dirty Steve said.

“ How can you be so sure?” Rube asked.

“ Because, he’s been riding in this direction ever since he left Farmington. That pass we just crossed is the only one with access to California, unless he want’s to ride way down south.” Dirty Steve explained.  “ Let’s get something to  drink and eat.”

“ Sounds good to me. I’m tired of just having water to drink this past week.”  Dutch Charley said as the four rode up to the small saloon and dismounted.

“ I wonder if they have any whores here?” Rube asked.

“ Boy, you keep thinking about taking care of your dick, and you’re gonna wake up dead one of these days.” Texas jack said.

“ Everybody’s gotta die sometime Texas Jack. At least I’ll die a happy man.” Rube responded.

“ We’ll cross Walker’s Pass in the morning and be in California. We can rest the horses in Bishop a day before we head home.” Johnny said.

“ How far is Lancer from there?” Marcy asked.

“ Two days ride.” Johnny responded.

“ I’ll send a wire from Modesto, letting Murdoch know.” Scott said.

“ You know, I sure don’t like not knowing were those four are at. Makes me uneasy.” Jake said.

“ Yeah. They’re close I can feel it.” Johnny responded.

“ You think maybe we should stand watch?” Scott asked.

‘ No. It’s to dark tonight and they won’t be stupid enough to try anything in the dark.”

“ What if they’re in Bishop Johnny?” Marcy asked.

“ If they are, I’ll deal with them then. I’m not going to run from a fight Marcy. If those men think they can kill me because some dumb woman won’t accept the fact that her aunt got herself fucking killed interfering, then you are sorely mistaken. Madrid don’t run from no fight.”

“ I never said you did. All I asked was a simple question. Your rude response wasn’t needed.” Marcy said as she stood up. “ Excuse me. I need to take a walk.”

Johnny sat there watching Marcy walk away into the darkness.

“ Marcy, don’t go to far. There’s grizzly bear up here.” Scott said.

“ Johnny, you were out of line speaking to her like that.” Jake stated.

“ What the hell am I supposed to do Jake, huh. A woman is dead because of me. Every night I’m haunted by the faces of every fucking man, and now woman I’ve killed.”

“ You’re supposed to forgive yourself Johnny, and let the past go. Jesus Christ kid, stop punishing yourself. You didn’t force those men to call you out. You didn’t force Cora Simpson to step down in front of you right when Wild Bill drew his gun.” Jake said with anger.

“ If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have been called out, and she wouldn’t be dead.” Johnny snapped back.

“ Kid, you need to let it go. Let it go now before it kills you.” Jake said.

“ The only way I’ll be able to let it go Jake, is if I end my pain.” Johnny said before walking off into the darkness just as Marcy came back.

“ I’ve had about enough of this.” Jake said as he stood up.

“ Jake wait. Let me go to him.” Marcy said.

“ He’s not in the best of moods right now Marcy.” Scott said.

“ I’ll be alright. Johnny won’t hurt me.” she said as she walked off into the dark to find Johnny.

Johnny dropped to his knees and hung his head, his chin touching his chest. So many years all he cared about was being the best at his trade. So many men who now wanted what he had. Tears welled up in his eyes, and he let them fall, no longer caring.

“ Termina mi dolor.”  ( end my pain ) he started saying over and over again as his body started to shake.

Marcy found Johnny not far from camp, down on his knees. She could faintly hear what he was saying and remembered what Jake said it meant. “ Oh Johnny.’ she said as she started to walk toward him, but stopped suddenly when she seen what Johnny did next. Panicked she hurried back to Scott and Jake.

“ I think Johnny is going to end his pain.” she said.

Scott stood up fast. “ Where is he?” he asked.

“ Just over there about fifty feet.” she responded just as shots could be heard.

“ Stay here Marcy.” Jake ordered as him and Scott took off running.

“ Oh my god no.” Marcy said.

Scott and Jake found Johnny still on his knees, his colt laying in his lap. Smoke coming from the barrel.

“ Johnny……….You alright?” Jake asked as he held out his right arm to stop Scott.

“ Termina mi dolor.” Johnny said.

Jake walked up to Johnny slowly. “ Hey amigo. You okay?”

“ Termina mi dolor.”

“ I wish I could buddy, but only you can do that. Johnny, you have got to let this go. Please.” Jake said as he knelt down next to him.

“ Scott, go let Marcy know he’s okay. We’ll be along in a bit.” Jake said.

“ Okay.” Scott said before turning and walking back to camp.

“ Is he alright?” Marcy asked when Scott got back.

“ He’s okay. Jake is with him. I don’t think you should see him right now Marcy. I don’t think Johnny would want that.” Scott said.

“ I’m going to be his wife Scott. I need to start helping him deal with these damn ghost he has.” Marcy said before walking past him to go to Johnny.

Scott stood there watching Marcy walk away and couldn’t help but smile. “ Maybe you will make a good wife for Johnny after all.

Marcy walked over to were she could hear Jake talking to Johnny. She could see him down on his knees next to Johnny, with his right hand rubbing Johnny’ back.

“ Let it out amigo. I’m right here. Let all those damn ghost go boy.” Jake said softly.

Johnny suddenly crawled away from Jake a few feet and  let everything in his stomach go. Shaking he raised up and wrapped his arms around his chest.  “ Why Jake? Why can’t I get them to go away?” Johnny asked with a shaky voice.

Jake moved over next to him and handed him his kerchief. I don’t know buddy. I wish to god I did.

“ Angel is the worst of them.” Johnny said after wiping his mouth.

“ Who’s Angel?” Jake asked.

“ A ghost from my past, from when I was just building a name and reputation for myself.” Johnny explained.

“ Johnny.” Marcy said as she walked over to them.

Johnny sighed and stood up, but wouldn’t turn around and face her. He couldn’t just yet.

“ Give him a minute Marcy.” Jake said. “ You okay now amigo?” he asked.

“ Yeah, okay as I’m gonna be I guess.” Johnny answered.

Jake walked over to Marcy. “ Don’t let him push you away.” he whispered.

“ I won’t.” Marcy said.

Johnny took several deep breaths and turned around. The shaking had finally stopped, and his stomach was finally calming down.

“ I’m sorry for how I talked to you back there. I…….”

Marcy walked up to him. “ It’s okay Johnny.” she said as she put her arms around him. “ I will always be here for you no matter what. You just have to start trusting me, and talk to me. I can’t help the man I love more than anything if he won’t tell me what’s wrong.”

“ I know. I’ve been alone most of my life. Jake has been the only one as family to me since I was in the orphanage. I just can’t get them out of my head at night. When I close my eyes sometimes to sleep, their faces are all I see, over and over again.”

“ We need to figure out a way of getting those faces to stop haunting you.” Marcy said. “ Why don’t you come on back to camp with me and let me hold you?”

“ I’d like that.” Johnny replied.

“ Oh, you do realize you scared the hell out of me when I heard those shots?” Marcy asked.

“ Sorry. I was releasing some anger. I would never do that Marcy. I already have a bullet with my name on it out there waiting for me. I don’t need to give myself one.” Johnny said as he wrapped an arm around her and they walked back to camp.

He’ll be okay Scott.” Jake said. He just has to let his past go.” Jake said as he walked back to camp, and sat down.

“ What if we have Johnny start talking about his past? You think that might help him deal with these ghost?” Scott asked.

“ Trouble is, getting him to talk about them. He did mention someone named Angel, said he or she is a ghost from his past, from when he was making a name and reputation for himself.”

“ You know, just between you and me Jake. There’s a side of Johnny that scares the hell out of me.”

“ What’s that?” Jake asked.

“ Madrid. Just how far will he go.” Scott said.

“ I seen how far Johnny will go as Madrid once Scott. Trust me, you don’t want to see what he’s capable of doing.” Jake said as Johnny and Marcy walked back into camp.

 No words were said as Johnny lay down on his bedroll and Marcy lay down next to him, holding him tight.

Jake motioned for Scott to follow him away from camp a little ways.

“ Remember Johnny saying he carries a knife inside his right boot?” Jake asked softly.

Scott nodded.

“ I seen him use that knife once Scott. I have never seen anyone be so fast at cutting another man wide open as Johnny did that day. He was faster with that damn sticker, than he is with his colt. The man he killed had murdered a woman and her daughter, but not before he brutally raped them both. Johnny won’t stand for no man harming a woman. That goes for whores to.” Jake said.

“ My little brother is one big mystery that’s for sure.” Scott said as he looked over at Johnny sleeping in the arms of Marcy.

“ You know, we do this and our reputation won’t be worth shit Cherokee Bill.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ Yeah I been thinking about that. We may be just gunfighters, but we have a code we live by. Ramirez is wanting to gun Madrid down in cold blood, and I don’t stand by that.” Cherokee Bill said.

“ Red, Sandy, how do you feel about it?” Tulsa Jack asked.

“ Now that you mention it. I’ve never gunned someone down in cold blood. I’ve always stayed within the law.” Red said.

“ So have I.” Sandy added. “ I want Madrid dead as much as you fellas, but gunning him down in cold blood, that don’t sit to well with me.”

“ So what do we do?” Red asked softly so Ramirez wouldn’t hear him.

“ We take care of our own, and that includes Madrid. When the time is right, we kill that greaser sonofabitch.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ Sounds good. He has it coming from all the shit he did while in the Mexican Army.” Cherokee Bill said.

Johnny woke to the smell of coffee brewing. He could feel someone at his back, but didn’t know who until he seen Jake was with Scott at the fire.

“ Good morning.” Marcy said softly.

Johnny sat up. “ Good morning.”

Marcy sat up also. “ You okay?” she asked.

Johnny pulled her to him and kissed her. “ I am now.” he said.

“ Morning you two.” Scott said.

“ Coffee is about done.” Jake said. “ You two can have a cup if you can get your butts out of bed.” he said jokingly.

“  I never was good at taking orders.” Johnny said before kissing Marcy again as he fell back onto his bedroll, taking her with him.

“ Alright you two, that’s enough of that.” Jake ordered with a laugh. He was worried Johnny would wake up in a not to pleasant mood this morning after last nights ordeal.

Four hours later they rode to the top of Walker’s Pass and enjoyed the view. “ You know, if it didn’t snow so much up here, I could build a cabin, and be right happy.” Jake said.

“ Yeah. It is a beautiful view.” Johnny said.

“ How far to Bishop from here?” Marcy asked.

“ We’ll get in there just about sundown. Going down this pass is a lot slower than riding up it.” Johnny responded.

“ A hot bath, and a bed to sleep in that isn’t hard ground, I’m all for that.” Scott said.

“ We’re not staying.” Johnny cut in.

“ Not staying, why?” Scott asked.

“ Because it’s a four day ride to Lancer from here Scott. I would rather sleep in a bed were I know when I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to worry about someone shooting me.”

“ Then why don’t we just forget about going into Bishop all together Johnny. We could make camp somewhere past there tonight.” Jake suggested.

“ Because Marcy would like a bath.” Johnny said.

“ I’m alright. If you don’t want to go into Bishop, we can go past, and camp out. It’s only for a few more nights.” Marcy said.

“  Steve, I smell smoke.” Dutch said.

“ Yeah, somebody must be camped out. Let’s check it out.” Dirty Steve said.

“ What you plan to do?” Rube asked.

“ Robe them, what else.” Dutch Charley cut in.

Dirty Steve stopped his horse and dismounted. Walking quietly toward the smoke. Texas Jack, Rube and Dutch Charley came up behind him.

“ Well I’ll be damned. Take a look down there Dutch.” Dirty Steve whispered.

“ I see three men and a woman.” Dutch responded.

“ You see that one kneeling by the fire?” Steve asked.

“ Yeah. What about him?”

“ That’s Madrid. Today’s going to be a good day. Let’s work our way down closer.” Dirty Steve said. “ Rube, you and Dutch go around to the right. Me and Texas Jack will circle around to the left.”

Johnny poured out his coffee and stood up slowly. His hand going to his colt and pulling it out. “ Jake, Scott, we got company.” Johnny said softly. “ Four of them. They split up. Two are coming around on the left, the other two on our right.”

Scott and Jake grabbed their rifles. “ You think it’s them?” Scott asked.

“ Marcy, I need you to take my rifle and crawl toward that hill. There’s a wash, I want you to  get in that wash and head back toward Bishop. Stay below the sage brush and don’t stand up until you’re in that wash.”

“ Okay Johnny. Please be careful.” Marcy said as she took the rifle.

“ I will. One of us will come get you. If you see anyone else coming toward you, you shoot, and shoot to kill.” Johnny said before giving her a quick kiss. “ Go.”

Marcy hurried over to the sage and dropped to her knees and started crawling, silently praying that Johnny, Scott, and Jake would be alright.

“ Johnny Madrid.” Steve yelled before bringing his rifle up and firing.

Johnny, Jake, and Scott dove to the ground. “ You’re getting soft Dirty Steve. You like shooting people in the back.” Johnny yelled.

“ I thought about doing that when I seen you back up on the hill, but I think  I’m gonna cut you wide open instead, so I can hear you scream.”

Scott watched as Johnny started crawling in the direction the voice was coming from.

Rube seen Marcy crawling through the sage. “ Hey.” he said to Dutch. “ That’s the woman.”

“ Forget about her. It’s Madrid we want.” Dutch ordered.

“ You get Madrid. I’m gonna have his woman.” Rube said as he started off toward Marcy.

“ Dirty Steve will kill you he finds you with her.” Dutch yelled.

Rube ignored Dutch and crouched down, took off after Marcy, catching her just as she reached the wash.

Scott seen movement just to his right, taking aim with his rifle, he fired, hitting Dutch, but not killing him. Crouched down, moving cautiously toward his victim, Scott glanced toward his brother, and could see Johnny was almost upon the one they called Dirty Steve. A shot and burning pain in his upper left arm brought his attention back to the one he shot, Dutch Charley, taking aim at him again. Bringing his rifle up, Scott put two rounds in the mans chest.

“ That’s for my brother you sonofabitch.” Scott said.

Jake seen Texas Jack to Johnny’ right, just laying there waiting with a rifle. Moving to his right as he glanced at Scott. Seeing blood on his arm, as Scott fired two rounds into his intended target.

“ That’s one.” Jake said as he crawled closer to Texas Jack. When he could see he was to Texas Jacks left with the sun behind him, Jake rose up and fired three rounds, hitting Texas Jack in the head. “ That’s two.” he said.

Scott glanced at his arm, and seen it was only grazed, leaving a deep gouge. Glancing around, he couldn’t see Rube had gone after Marcy.

Johnny knew he was close to Dirty Steve. Moving to his left, he crawled around behind him and removed the knife from his right boot. Standing up, Johnny lunged at Steve just as the man rolled over and fired. He felt the red hot pain in his right side as he landed on Steve and plunged his knife deep in the mans chest just below his ribs.

Dirty Steve heard a noise behind him, and rolled over, bringing his pistol up, he fired as Madrid landed on him, plunging his knife deep in his gut. Dropping his gun, Dirty Steve grabbed Madrid’ arms and tried to stop the knife as Madrid started to twist it. Screaming out in pain, Steve knew he was dead as his strength started to falter.

Johnny twisted the knife and then pulled it out as he glared into the eyes of Dirty Steve. Bringing the knife down. Johnny slowly drove it into Steve’ gut again. “ You lose.” Johnny said before pulling the knife toward him, slicing Dirty Steve’ gut wide open.

“ Johnny.” Scott yelled. “ Johnny, you alright?”

Johnny pulled his knife out of Dirty Steve’ gut, and stood up. Breathing hard, he looked at his brother then at Jake.

“ There’s one more.” Scott yelled.

Johnny’ heart sank. He knew Jake had killed the one that was with Dirty Steve. Hurrying over to his brother, Johnny seen it was Dutch Charley, Scott had killed.

“ Shit, Rube is still out there.” Johnny said as he headed in the direction Marcy had went, his knife still in his hand, dripping with blood.

Marcy reached the wash, and started down into it, when she heard a sound behind her. Turning she seen it was one of the men. Standing up, she brought the rifle up and fired, missing Rube as he ran at her, knocking her down into the wash, the rifle falling away from her.

“  I’m going to enjoy fucking you.” Rube said as he straddled Marcy, and ripped her shirt open.

Marcy landed hard in the wash on her back, knocking the wind out of her. Dazed and struggling to breath, she tried to fight Rube off, but couldn’t when he straddled her chest. Panicked, she started clawing and punching as her shirt was ripped open. Hearing what Rube said, Marcy screamed as she tried desperately to get the man off her.

Rube slapped Marcy hard, knocking her unconscious as he ripped her shirt off and rose up to remove her pants. “ I’ve thought about doing this to you every day bitch. Ain’t nobody going to stop me.” he said as he started to pull her pants down.

“ Wrong.” Johnny said as he lunged at Rube from above, knocking the man off Marcy. Rolling, and getting to his feet, Johnny glanced at Marcy laying on the ground, her shirt ripped open, and her pants partially down around her hips. Anger surged inside Johnny as he dropped his knife and lunged at Rube, hitting him in the left side, knocking him backward into the sand.

Rube went for his pistol, but found the holster empty. Looking around, he seen it laying on the ground to his right. Lunging for it, he felt himself slammed back into the sand as Madrid hit him hard in his left side. Rolling onto his back, Rube brought his knees up against Madrid’ chest. He seen the blood on Madrid’ right side, and hit him hard in his ribs, giving him just enough time to push with his knees and shove Madrid off him. Rolling quickly to his side. Rube stood up and glared at Madrid.

Johnny tried desperately to ignore the white hot pain he felt when Rube hit him in his wound, Falling back into the sand, he rolled and stood up, glaring at Rube. The sound of a rifle shot caused him to spin around. Slowly walking toward him was Marcy with his rifle aimed right at Rube.

 “ I’m going to kill you Madrid.” Rube said right before a rifle sounded and he felt a bullet slam into his chest, then another, and finally a third bullet hit him as he struggled to stand on wobbly legs. Dropping to his knees, Rube glared at the person shooting him.

Marcy kept firing until the rifle was empty. Every bullet hitting Rube in the chest. Walking  calmly up to Rube, still pulling the trigger on an empty rifle Marcy glared into his eyes before he fell over dead.

Johnny walked slowly over to Marcy, and took the rifle from her with his left hand and put his right arm around her, and guided her away from Rube’ body.

Scott and Jake came to the wash and seen Rube fall over dead. His chest covered in blood. Jake jumped down in the wash to help Johnny get her back to camp. Removing his coat, he wrapped it around her shoulders so she could cover up.

“ Thanks Jake.” Marcy said softly.

“ Let me help you Marcy.” Scott said as he reached a hand down so he could pull her up.

Jake noticed the blood on Johnny’ right side, but said nothing. He knew it would be futile to say anything about it. Johnny wouldn’t worry about his own wounds until he knew Marcy would be okay.

“ Sit her down here by the fire.” Jake suggested.

“ I’m fine guys.” Marcy said as she sat down. “ Are they dead?” she asked.

“ Yes.” Scott answered. “ Marcy, I’m sorry. I never seen him go after you.”

“ It’s alright Scott. I took care of him. Could you get me a clean shirt from my saddlebags?” she asked.

Scott glanced at Johnny, before going and grabbing a shirt from Marcy’ saddlebags.

“ How bad is that?” Jake asked as Scott came back and handed the shirt to Marcy.

“ Just a deep graze.” Scott said.

Jake stood up. “ We need to get a bandage on that, to stop the bleeding.” Jake said as he went and grabbed his saddlebags and came back over. “ Johnny, you need to get that shirt off, and let Marcy take a look at that wound.”

It was then that Scott noticed the blood on his brothers right side as he stood up so Jake could look at his arm.

“ Johnny?” Scott said.

“ I’m fine. It’s just a scratch.” Johnny responded as he helped Marcy put her shirt on.

“ Sit down and let me look at your wound Johnny.” Marcy ordered firmly after buttoning her shirt.

Johnny could see a bruise starting to form were Rube had slapped her. Her left eye was starting to swell some. “ We need to put a cold compress on that eye, to help with the swelling.” he said as he sat down.

“ It’ll keep. No, lets get that shirt off so I can take care of you.” Marcy said.

“ Jake, hows his arm?” Johnny asked as he removed his shirt.

“ He has a deep gouge from were the bullet grazed him. It’s not bad, but it’ll need stitches.” Jake responded.

“ I have fishing line and a needle in my saddlebags. It’s in a small leather pouch at the bottom, in the right saddlebag.” Johnny said.

Jake went to Johnny’ stallion and removed the small leather pouch containing the needle and fishing line. “ Sorry we don’t have anything for the pain Scott, but this has to be done.” Jake said as he walked back over. “ How bad is Johnny’?” he asked as he sat down to start sewing Scott’ wound up.

“ It’s going to need stitches Jake, it’s deep. Looks like it didn’t hit a rib.” Marcy responded.

“ Okay, put some pressure on it until I get done sewing Scott’s arm up.”

“ How the hell did you manage to come out of this unscathed?” Johnny asked Jake as Marcy pressed her torn shirt on the wound.

“ Lucky I guess.” Jake responded as he finished sewing Scott’ arm up. “ Let me get a bandage and wrap that up to keep dirt out of it.”

“ It’ll wait. Go take care of Johnny.” Scott said.

Jake stood up and walked over to Johnny.

“ Let me do it Jake.” Marcy said as she reached for the needle in Jake.

“ You ever sew a wound up before?” Johnny asked.

“ No, but I’m real good with a needle and thread.” Marcy responded. “ Besides, if I’m going to be your wife, I better start learning too.” she added with a smile.

“ You want we should bury them Johnny?” Jake asked as he went back over to Scott to bandage his arm up.

“ Let them rot. Varmints got to eat.” Johnny said coldly.

Marcy couldn’t believe the control Johnny had as she started to sew his wound up. Never once did he show any signs of pain as she forced the needle through his skin.

Jake finished wrapping Scott’ arm up. “ You want a sling?” he asked.

“ No. I’ll be alright.” Scott responded as he stood up.

“ Okay.” Jake said as he stood up and walked over to Johnny. “ She is definitely  good with a needle and thread amigo. Those are real nice stitches Marcy. Better than I did on Scott.”

“ Gee, thanks Jake.” Scott said. “ Marcy, maybe you could give him sewing lessons.” Scott said jokingly.

“ Maybe.” Marcy said as she wrapped a bandage around Johnny’ ribs.

“ Next town with a doctor is Modesto. We can get those wounds checked there.” Jake said.

Marcy stood up and handed the needle back to Jake as she started to tremble.

“ Johnny.” Jake said just as her eyes rolled back in her head, and she fainted.

Johnny stood up fast and caught Marcy, keeping her from falling to the ground. Her weight pulling on his stitches.

“ Let me have her.” Jake said as he took Marcy from Johnny and laid her down on a blanket.

“ We need to loosen her clothes. She’s fainted. We need to let her body get air.” Scott said.

Johnny went to Marcy’ side and started unbuttoning her shirt.

“ That bastard slapped her pretty hard.” Johnny said with anger as he pulled her shirt open. “ Scott, get me some water.” Johnny ordered as he tried to wake Marcy up. “ Hey, come on, open your eyes. Open your eyes Marcy.” Johnny said as he wiped her hair back out of her face.

“ Pour some cool water on her face. It’ll help bring her around.” Scott instructed as he handed his canteen to Johnny.

Johnny removed the cap and poured a little water on Marcy’ face and forehead. “ Come on Marcy, wake up novio. Abre los ojos por favor.” Johnny said softly as he wiped her face.

Marcy felt something cold and wet on her face as she started to open her eyes. “ Johnny.” she said softly as her eyes opened. “ What happened?” she asked.

“ You fainted.” Johnny said. He could feel her body trembling. “ Come here.” he said as he pulled her up into his chest.

Marcy couldn’t stop it. Once she was against Johnny’ chest, feeling the warmth of his body against her face, the tears started falling as he body started to shake.

“ It’s okay. Let it out.” Johnny said. “ I got you.” he said as he rubbed her back. “ Let it out.”

Scott and Jake stepped away, so she could have some privacy. Both men knew she wasn’t raped all the way, but what Rube had done to her, was enough. Scott walked over to Dirty Steve’ body. What he seen made his stomach flip.

“ See what I mean about Johnny and a knife?” Jake asked.

“ It takes a lot of rage for a man to do that.” Scott said.

“ I think some of that rage was from Abilene, Scott.” Jake stated.

“ I think you’re right.” Scott responded.

“ Johnny.” Marcy said softly. “ Please don’t leave me.” she begged as she held him tighter.

“ Not a chance miel.” Johnny responded. “ I love you too much to leave you. Only a bullet can take me away from you.” he added as he kissed the top of her head.

“ I’m sorry. I tried to shoot him, but I missed. He hit me, and knocked me down. I couldn’t breath. I tried to stop him, but he slaped me so hard.” Marcy said as the tears fell.

“ It’s okay. It’s over now. I’m proud of you for what you did.” Johnny said.

Marcy looked up at him. “ You’re proud of me for killing a man?” she asked.

“ He wasn’t a man Marcy. Rube wasn’t even an animal. What you did to him, I would have done much worse.” Johnny responded.

“ I ran out of bullets.” she said with a smile. “ Who……how did my shirt get unbuttoned?” she asked.

You fainted, and Scott said when a lady faints, you have to loosen their clothing so the body can breath.” Johnny told her.

“ Oh right. Sorry, I forgot.” Marcy said.

Johnny looked over and seen Scott, and Jake looking at Dirty Steve’ body. He knew Jake had seen just how deadly he was with a knife before, but his brother, Scott never had. At least not until now. Another, more dark and sinister side of Johnny Madrid was reveled this morning. A side he hope Scott would never see come out.

“ Stay here.” Johnny said.

“ Don’t leave me.” Marcy pleaded.

“ I’m just going over to Scott, and Jake.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll go with you.” Marcy responded.

“ No, you stay here. You don’t need to see what’s over there.” Johnny said. “ Please Marcy?” he pleaded.

“ Okay.” she said as she sat back down.

Johnny poured her a cup of coffee. “ Here, drink this. I’ll be right over there.” Johnny said as he handed her the cup of coffee.

He needed to get away from Marcy for a few minutes to let his emotions calm down. Walking over to Scott, and Jake, he looked down at Dirty Steve’ body.

“ We need to flip him over. I don’t want Marcy seeing or knowing what I did.” Johnny said firmly. “ Is that understood?” he demanded.

“ Understood.” Jake said as he went to the body and flipped him over, so Marcy couldn’t see his gut was cut open, and his entrails spewed out.

“ Remind me to never piss you off little brother.” Scott said.

“ That would never happen between us Scott.” Johnny said. “ That’s a part of me I never wanted you to see.” he added.

“ Was that Madrid?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said. “ I did to him, what he would have done to me. Only difference is, I enjoyed killing him like that. He would do it just for the fun of it.”

“ There’s a difference?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah there is Scott. Maybe some day you’ll realize it.” Johnny said before turning and walking back to Marcy. “ We need to ride. I want to get Marcy out of here.” he said over his shoulder.


Chapter 13

Johnny, Jake, Scott, and Marcy rode into Modesto an stopped in front of the doctors office. Dismounting, Jake walked up and knocked on the door. An older man, in his forties opened the door. “ Can I help you?”

“ Got a couple friends need checked.” Jake said.

“ Alright, get down and come inside.” the doctor said before turning and walking into another room.

Scott, Johnny and Marcy dismounted, and walked inside.

“ Now, what is it you need checked.” Doc said, noticing the bruise on Marcy’ face.

“ Not me doc. I’m alright. It’s them. They both got grazed by a bullet yesterday morning.” Marcy said.

“ I see. I have some salve you can put on that bruise to help with the swelling and make it go away young lady.” Doc suggested.

“ Thank you.. “ Marcy said.

“ Okay, why don’t you two come on back and I can check you out?”

Scott and Johnny walked back into the exam room.

“ Okay, let’s see what we have.” Doc said.

Scott unbuttoned his shirt, and removed it so the doctor could check his arm.

“ That looks good. Stitches could have been tighter, and closer, but it appears to be healing up god young man. I see no problems with it. I’ll give you a salve you can put on it if it starts pulling or hurting.”

“ Thank you.” Scott said.

“ You’re welcome. Just keep it covered another week, and it should be fine. It will leave a scar I’m afraid.” Doc said. “ Now, how about yours young man?”

Johnny removed his shirt, and laid it on the table.

“ Okay. I need you up on the table so I can unwrap this and see what we have.”

Johnny hopped up on the table and kept his right arm out so the doctor could remove the bandage.

“ Well, whoever sewed this up did a real nice job. Small stitches, close together. I see a little redness, but nothing to be concerned about.” Doc said.  “ How’s it feel when you breath?”

“ It didn’t hit a rib if that’s what you’re askin’ Doc. It pulls some, but I can handle it.” Johnny said.

“ Okay, I’ll put some salve on it and wrap it back up. I’d keep it dry for another week, so it can close up all the way. It looks good, but it’s still not healed up enough to leave a bandage off it.” Doc said as he went to his cabinet and removed a small jar of salve. “ Now I want you to put this on your wound at least once a day for the next week. You can do the same for your arm.” Doc said as he dabbed some salve on Johnny’ wound and covered it up with a new, clean bandage. “ You fellas want to tell me how you got these wounds?” Doc asked as he wrapped Johnny’ wound up again.

“ Not particularly Doc.” Johnny said.

“ Fair enough. I believe in doctor, patient confidentiality, but if you don’t want to tell, I respect that.” Doc said. “ I suspect your wounds have something to do with that young lady’ bruised face.”

“ Thanks for all you’ve done doc.” Johnny said firmly, not wanting to discuss what happened to a complete stranger.

“ I better go send a wire to Murdoch, letting him know we made it to Modesto.” Scott said.

“ That wouldn’t happen to be  Murdoch Lancer would it?” Doc asked.

“ Yes it would.” Scott responded.

“ You know him?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes I do. He has a huge ranch in the San Joaquin valley.” Doc responded.

“ He’s our father. I’m Scott Lancer, and this is my brother Johnny Lancer.”

“ Well, I never. It’s a pleasure to meet you two. You be the youngest one. The one Murdoch searched for for all those years.”

Johnny ignored the docs question, and hoped off the table, and put his shirt back on.

“ You’ll have to excuse my brother. He forgets his manners sometimes.” Scott said. “ How much do we owe you?”

“ Six bits should cover it.” Doc said. “ You know, it’s a little uncanny, don’t you think?” Doc asked as he took the money from Scott.

“ What’s that?” Scott asked.

“ That Johnny Madrid, would be Johnny Lancer.” Doc said.

Johnny’ head snapped up, and his hand dropped instinctively to his colt.

“ Relax young man. I knew who you were the minute you walked into my office. You don’t remember me do you?”

Johnny didn’t answer. Usually he could remember everyone’s face he dealt with.

“ Four years ago. Down along the border in San Diego. I removed a bullet from your back and stitched up two deep knife wounds. You lost so much blood, I didn’t think you would make it. A week later, you insisted on riding out of San Diego, against a doctors advice.”

“ You remember Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, I remember. How come you’re way up here now Doc?” Johnny asked.

“ Got to be too dangerous, even for a doctor down there. So I packed up, and came up here, were I could do some good.”

“ Thank you for saving my little brothers life that day Doc.” Scott said.

Ramirez, his nephew Ramon, and the four gunmen rode into Moro Coyo late afternoon and stopped at the cantina.

“ So this is where Madrid lives?” Ramon asked.

“ Not here, but close. We will find him, and when we do, he will die like the swine that he is.”  Ramirez said as he dismounted. “ You men can arrange your own place to sleep. I will get a room for me and my nephew. I do not want you getting drunk and not able to fight Madrid when he comes.” Ramirez ordered as he tied his horse up, and walked away with his nephew.

“ I don’t much like that greaser telling me I can’t have me a good time while I’m waiting on Madrid to show up.” Red said.

“ Putting a bullet in that greaser is going to be so much fun.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ Come on, lets get a drink.” Cherokee Bill suggested.

“ Jake, do you think that what happened back there…………..Do you think it will change how Johnny feels about me?” Marcy asked.

“ No. Johnny loves you.” Jake responded. “ Marcy, you’ve been around Johnny long enough to know, his past is dangerous. Now, you said you could handle it. Do you feel the same way about it now? Can you handle all the danger of Johnny’ past, and the danger of his future to be with him?”

“ To be honest Jake, I don’t know now. I thought I could, but……I don’t know.” Marcy said.

“ You showed that back in Silver Peak. Johnny’ been to a lot of whore houses Marcy. The women love him. I’ve seen them squabble over him one time at a whore house in El Paso. Johnny solved the trouble by taking both those women to bed at the same time.” Jake said. “ Marcy, I’m telling you this, so you know, because I don’t think you fully understand just who Johnny Madrid really is. Scott found out back there when we were attacked. He seen just what Johnny is capable of doing, and to tell you the truth, it scares the hell out of me.”

“ I wish Johnny could be more like Scott is. When I’m with him in bed, he makes me feel so good, so alive, but outside a bed, he’s so much different. Ever since Abilene, he’s changed. He doesn’t laugh hardly, the sparkle isn’t in his eyes anymore when I look in them.”

“ What do you mean, be more like Scott?” Jake asked.

“ Good nature, polite. I mean, Johnny’ polite, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, I don’t think Scott would have ever cussed at me the way Johnny did those two times.”

“ Marcy, Johnny’ not Scott. He didn’t have the luxurious upbringing Scott did. He didn’t have someone around to teach him the manners Scott has.” Jake said.

“ I know. It’s just that……..”

“ You’re falling in love with Scott, aren’t you?” Jake cut in.

Marcy spun and  looked at Jake. “ No. I love Johnny. It’s him I’m marrying, not Scott.” she replied.

“ Are you sure?” Jake asked just as Scott and Johnny came out of the doctors office.

“ How are they?” Jake asked.

“ Fine. He wasn’t to impressed with your stitches like he was with Marcy’.” Scott said.

“ Hey, you alright?” Johnny asked Marcy.

“ Yeah, me and Jake were just talking.” she responded.

“ Let’s go check in to the hotel, get cleaned up and eat a decent meal.” Johnny suggested as he stepped down to his horse and stopped, staring across the street.

“ You alright Johnny? You look like you seen a ghost.” Scott said as he looked in the direction Johnny was looking.

“ What, yeah. I’m fine.” Johnny said as he untied the stallion and swung up in the saddle.

Later that evening all four sat in the hotel diner relaxing.

“ I think I’m going to turn in now. I’m pretty tired.” Marcy said as she stood up.

Johnny stood up also. “ You want me to go with you?”

“ No, no. You fellas go have a drink and some fun. I’ll be alright.” Marcy said before kissing Johnny. “ I’ll see you in the morning.” she added as she glanced at Jake, before walking away.

Johnny noticed the look she gave Jake. “ What did you two talk about while we were in the doctors office today?” he asked Jake as he sat back down.

“ Insecurities.” Jake responded. “ Let’s go have that drink, shall we?” he said as he stood up.

Johnny knew Jake well enough to know his friend wouldn’t tell him what was said exactly, but saying what he did told him enough.

Marcy entered her room and sat down on the bed after closing the door. Could she be insecure about her feelings toward Johnny now? Could what Jake said have any truth to it? Could she be falling in love with Scott? He was so much older than her, but out west, that didn’t seem to matter. A woman, or a girl barely in womanhood, could marry a man a few years, or even several years older than her. Could what she’s feeling be what she heard some call, pre wedding jitters? Having no other women around to talk to, Marcy could only assume that that is what was wrong. She knew, or thought she knew about Johnny’ past as a gunfighter, but the more she was with him, the more she was realizing she didn’t know about his past. What Jake told her today about Johnny and whorehouses angered her. Even though they were engaged, she knew she didn’t really have any claim to Johnny. She knew she couldn’t stop him from being with a so called woman from his past. Why was it she could talk to Jake so easy about Johnny’ past, but not Johnny himself? Could it be a part of her feared asking him, or could it be, she wouldn’t be able to handle and accept his answer? When Johnny asked her to marry him Christmas eve, she was so happy to have someone to love, but looking back on the time they spent in Abilene, could it have been something else, and not love? Could she have just been desperate to get away from Abilene, that she accepted his proposal for that reason only?

Standing up to undress, Marcy wiped the tears from her face, and walked over to the vanity, and looked at the bruise she had. Checking in to the hotel, she seen the looks the clerk gave her. The woman clearly displeased with the fact that a young woman with a bruised face, checks into the hotel with three men, and stays in a room with one of those men. Walking back over to the bed, Marcy turned down the covers, and crawled in, wondering how long before Johnny would come back, or if he would be with her when she woke up the next morning?

Anna couldn’t believe what she was seeing, who she was seeing come out of the doctors office across the street from her dress shop. Anger started as she stood there talking to one of her customers as she watched the man talk to the other three with him before swinging up on his horse and riding on into town, followed by the others. The way he acted with the woman with them, it was clear they had a relationship. A relationship she once had with that man. That is until that horrible day a few years ago. She knew he seen her. He looked right at her. She could see the shock on his face until the blonde one walked up to him and said something. How long would she have, Anna found herself wondering. The last time she seen him, she swore she would kill him for what he had done.

Walking over to the doctors office after they left, Anna opened the door and walked in.

“ Anna,do  what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? Your not ill are you?” Doc asked.

“ No. I need to ask you something about the  man that was just in here doc.” Anna said.

“ Which man would that be?” Doc asked.

“ The dark haired one.” Anna responded.

“ You know him do you?”

“ Maybe. If he’s the man I’m thinking about.” Anna said. “ Goes by the name of Johnny Madrid.” she added. Anna could tell by docs reaction, it was Madrid. “ It was him wasn’t it?” she asked.

“ Yes, yes it was Madrid, only he goes by Lancer now. The blonde fella with him was his brother Scott Lancer. I don’t know who the other fella was.” Doc explained.

“ What about the woman? Who was she?” Anna asked.

“ It would seem she is with Johnny. It seems they ran into some trouble a couple days ago, and Madrid and his brother both got grazed by a bullet. Nothing serious, but they did require stitches.” Doc explained. “ Anna, I’ve know you a long time. You care to share with an old sawbones how you know Johnny Madrid?”

Anna sat down in a chair next to the wall, and looked at the floor as she rubbed her hands on her pants. “ What I’m going to tell you stays between us only Doc.” Anna said.

“ Alright.” Doc responded.

“ You know I was alone when I rode into Modesto, that I had no family?”

“ Yes. You have come a long way since that day.” Doc responded.

“ I’ve never told anybody what happened to my family. I’ve never talked about it.” Anna said as she stood up. “My father was having some trouble with a neighbor. Things got out of hand and my father hired guns. My brother was good with a gun but my father wanted him to stay in the back ground. I wasn’t afraid and got my brother to teach me how to shoot. My father didn’t approve but didn’t say anything. I met Johnny one day in town and he was everything I thought I ever wanted. He was so nice when I met him not anything that I was told he would be like. But my brother wasn’t about to let us be together. I didn’t see Johnny again until I was riding one day. I don’t know how it happened but we began to sneak around and see each other. I fell in love with him and he made promises and we made love but neither one was forever! The only one that never lied to me or hurt me Johnny killed! My brother, he died that day and so did I! The person I was, wasn’t there anymore! Johnny stood there when my brother died in my arms and never said a word! I don’t remember much after that until Johnny rode up later that day. I pointed a gun at him and told him that this was his only warning that the next time I saw him that his Angel , his name for me, would be gunning for him. That he would be seeing the Angel of Death looking to take him to hell-and I’m here!”

“ Anna, do you still have that anger toward him?” Doc asked.

“  I thought he was dead. I heard he was killed down in Mexico a couple years ago, not that long after he killed my family. Seeing him this afternoon has brought all that anger back.” Anna said.

“ Anna, I have a feeling there’s a side of you that nobody knows about except you. That something you don’t want anyone in this town to know, because your afraid they would think badly of you maybe. Am I right?” Doc asked.

Anna shook her head, and turned around to face the doctor. “ You know how good Madrid is with a gun?” she asked.

“ Yes. He’s the best they say. Why?” Doc asked.

“ Because I too am good with a gun Doc. After he killed my family and left, I practiced real hard every day and got faster and better with both my draw, and my aim.” Anna explained.

“ Are you saying you’re going to call Madrid out for what he did to your family?” Doc asked.

“ I have to Doc. I can’t let him get away with murdering my family. My brother was my world to me.” Anna said with a quiver to her voice.

Doc walked over and placed his hands on her shoulders. “ The bible says that vengeance is mine. Anna, I want you to reach deep down in your heart, and see if calling Madrid out is the right thing to do? You could go to the sheriff and report what happened to him. Let him handle it.”

“ It was a range war Doc. The sheriff isn’t going to do anything about it, and you know it. Gunfighters like Madrid get away with murder and they use a range war to commit that murder.” Anna said as tears ran down her face.

Doc pulled Anna into a hug and let her cry tears she should have shed a long time ago as he gently rubbed her back. “ Are you willing to give up everything you have here for this revenge you seek?” Doc asked.

Anna pushed away from him, and wiped away her tears. “ Everything I have means nothing to me as long as Madrid is still alive.” she said with hatred.

“ What if he won’t face you? What if you call him out, and he refuses to face you because you’re a woman? Have you thought about that?” Doc asked.

“ I’ll force him to face me Doc. I’ll put a bullet in him until he does.” Anna said sharply. “ I have to go. Please don’t tell anyone what I told you?” she asked.

Doc put a hand up. “ You don’t need to worry about me saying anything Anna. I consider this to be a doctor, patient confidentiality  visit.” Doc responded.

“ Thanks.” Anna said as she opened the door and left. Talking to the doctor helped a little, but not enough to abate her hatred for Madrid. Only a bullet could do that. Walking back over to her dress shop, Anna unlocked the door and went inside, closing and re-locking the door behind her. Walking to the back were she lived, she sat down and started putting a plan together to carry out her justice. All she needed was to get Madrid alone, something she hoped would happen tomorrow. Tonight however, Anna knew Johnny would go to one of the saloons in town after being on the trail, she would just wait until dark and see which saloon he went to.

Anna walked into the saloon and looked around. She couldn’t believe her luck. Sitting in a corner with his chair leaned back against the wall on two legs as usual. Walking over to his table, she checked her composure. “ Hello Johnny.” she said as she glanced at the other two men with him. “ Fancy meeting you here.”

Johnny seen her walk in. His heart started beating so hard, he thought it would jump right out of his chest. When she walked over to his table, a lump formed in his throat.

“ Anna.” he managed to say.

Scott noticed it was the same woman his brother stared at across the street from the doctors office that afternoon. He also noticed how Johnny was now all Madrid. He could see a coldness in his brothers eyes he had never seen before. A coldness, and something else. Something he couldn’t quit put a finger on.

“ You going to introduce me to your friends?” Anna asked.

Johnny set his chair back down on all four legs. Picking up his beer, Johnny took a drink, and set it down on the table.  “ Scott, Jake, this is an old friend, from my past, Anna, Anna James.” Johnny said.

Scott couldn’t help but notice how Johnny said ‘ old friend from his past ‘. Standing up, Scott offered her his chair.

“ Thank you, but no thanks. My other customers might get jealous if I sit at a table with three men.” Anna said.

“ Your other customers?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah, I own the place. Have now for three years.” Anna said, never taking her eyes off Johnny. “ Imagine my shock when I seen you come out of the doctors office today. I heard you got killed down in Mexico not long after our last meeting.” she added.

“ Guess you heard wrong.” Johnny said coldly.

“ Guess I did. Lucky for me huh. I’ll see you around Madrid.” Anna said.

“ You care to explain?” Scott asked his brother after Anna walked away.

“ Well, if you two will excuse me, I’m going to call it a night.” Jake said as he stood up. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“ Jake.” Scott said as he waited for his brother to answer him. Once Jake was gone. Scott asked again. “ You care to tell me how you two know each other?”

“ There’s nothing to tell.” Johnny said.

“ Bullshit Johnny. I seen how when she walked over to our table, you became Madrid. I seen your eyes Johnny. Don’t tell me there’s nothing to tell little brother. I know you well enough to know when you’re not telling me all of it. Now who is she and why did she say your name with such hatred in her voice?” Scott demanded.

“ Go get us a couple fresh beers and I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell Marcy anything. You do and it’s over between us. Understand?” Johnny said with enough firmness, he knew his brother understood.

Scott got up and walked to the bar to order two beers. Turning he watched as  the woman walked back over to their table and said something to Johnny before walking away again.

Anna watched Scott go to the bar. Walking over to Johnny, she put her hands on the table, letting her cleavage show. “ I want to see alone. Can you stay until I close up?” she asked.

“ Yeah. I’m a big boy. I don’t have a curfew.” Johnny said.

Anna stood up. “ Like what you seen?” she asked, noticing Johnny’ eyes fell on her breast. “ I close up at midnight.” she said before walking away. “ Tonight will be for old times sack.” she said softly as she walked back to the bar.

Scott walked back over to their table and sat down, and handed Johnny his beer, and waited.

“ I’ve never told anyone, not even Jake what I’m about to tell you. You repeat it to anyone, and it’s over between us as brothers. Understood?” Johnny said firmly.

Scott nodded.

“  When I started out I did whatever I could to get to the top. I didn’t care who I hurt, or what I did to get there. The other gunfighters wanted to be the top dog, but I was going to get there first, and I did. Somethings I regret, and others I just have to try to forget. Anna falls into both. Her father was the rancher that I was working against. He was a stubborn man, but was determined to win. He was probably right in the end, but I couldn’t let him win. After all I was on the other side. I was in town one day, and ran into Anna and her brother, who she loved more than anyone. She was so beautiful! I hadn’t seen anyone that looked like her, ever, in my life! But her brother wasn’t about to let me get close. We had to sneak around to see each other, but we did and she was my first love and I was hers. Her brother started to teach her how to shoot, and I thought it was cute so I helped teach her too. I didn’t know that her brother found out about us, and I heard he was going to call me out but we attacked their ranch before he could. The fight was taken to her ranch and all hell broke out. Her family was killed, and I was the one who killed her brother, right in front of her, I killed him! He died in her arms with me standing right there. I couldn’t say anything, her parents, her brother, and her whole world was gone! I couldn’t protect her or stop it. The fight was over and we were over! I left and reported to the rancher I was working for about our victory, and then returned to Anna. She met me on the porch with a gun pointed directly at me, and said that she hated me! She said that one day when I thought that my life was turning out wonderful, that I would look up, and see her, and the Angel of Death would be looking back at me! And now she’s right!” Johnny said before picking up his beer and taking a drink.

“ Angel of death. Care to explain that to me little brother?” Scott asked as he picked up his beer and took a drink.

Johnny leaned in closer to his brother. “ She’s called that because she kills after dark. I heard about a gunfighter who did that after I escaped the firing squad in Mexico, but never imagined it was her until now.” Johnny said.

“ Maybe it’s not her. Maybe it’s someone else Johnny. What are the odds of a female gunfighter?” Scott asked.

“ Slim. I’m not saying there isn’t any, because there are. I can name a few right now that could shoot you dead with no problem.” Johnny responded.

“  Let me ask you this Johnny. If she called you out, could you face her?”

“ No Scott. I’m not shooting no woman. Besides, she knows she could never beat me.” Johnny responded.

“ You sure about that?” Scott asked with concern in his voice.

“ Scott, no woman will ever beat me in a gunfight.” Johnny said before picking up his beer, and taking a drink of it.

“ I hope you’re right. I think I’m going to call it a night, you going to be alright?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny responded.

“ Okay then. I’ll see you in the morning.” Scott said as he stood up and left.

Johnny leaned back in his chair again and watched Anna a she interacted with the other customers. At midnight, Johnny watched as Anna escorted the last customer from her saloon and closed the doors. Standing up, he walked over to the bar and set his empty glass on the counter for the bartender.

Anna walked over to him. “ That will be all tonight Jack. I can clean up in the morning. Go ahead and go on home to your wife. I’m sure she would like you in her bed.”

Jack glanced at Johnny, then at his boss. “ You be alright Miss James?” he asked.

“ I’ll be fine. Go ahead and lock the door when you leave.” Anna said as she walked around behind the bar and removed a bottle of tequila, and grabbed two shot glasses, and walked back around the bar. “ I assume you still like your tequila?” she asked as she opened the bottle and poured two shots.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he removed his hat.

“ So you own this huh?” he asked.

“ Yeah. Bought it with money I had. I also own that dress shop across from the doctors office.” Anna said as she handed him his shot of tequila. “ To old times.” she said as she held out her shot.

“ To old times.” Johnny said as he tapped her glass with his before downing the gold liquid. Relishing the taste as it went down.

Anna downed her shot, set her glass on the bar and stepped up to Johnny, wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him down and delved her tongue into his mouth with passion as she pressed against him.

Johnny dropped his glass and wrapped his arms around Anna, pulling her into him as their tongues battled. Breathing hard, he reached up and forced his hands inside her dress, to her breast and started squeezing, moaning as a fire started deep down inside. A fire he knew he could only put out one way. Removing his hands, Johnny undid his gun belt and set it on the bar.

Anna wanted Johnny, but had no idea how bad until he started touching her. When he unbuckled his gun, she knew there was no going back. She knew he was hers, that tonight they would become one. Tomorrow she would start her plan. Tonight was just icing on the cake for her. Tonight she would go back to those shared sexual experiences they had in secrecy. The two of them becoming one as their bodies melted together, each one more hungry for more than the other.

Scott heard his brother come down the hall and unlock his door. Picking up his pocket watch, Scott seen it was almost four in the morning. He knew the saloon they were in closed at midnight. Anger filled him as he knew were Johnny had been, and what he had been doing. Tomorrow he would be having a little talk with his brother about getting his priorities straight. It wasn’t fair to Marcy, if he wasn’t going to be true to her. Granted they weren’t married yet, and she had no legal claim to him, but principles were something he believed strong in, and Tonight, what Johnny did, was wrong in more ways than one, and would be paying the ultimate price in the end.

Marcy woke and found Johnny laying next to her in just his pants on top of the covers. Smelling the liquor on his breath, she knew he got drunk last night. After all he had been through in the last week, he was entitled. Getting up she quietly got dressed and left the room so he could sleep. Going downstairs, she found Scott and Jake in the hotel diner eating breakfast.

“ Well you two look good this morning.” she said as she sat down. “ Didn’t you two get drunk with Johnny last night?” she asked.

“ No. I didn’t. I turned in about nine or so.” Jake said.

 “ How about you Scott?” Marcy asked. 

“ About ten thirty I guess.” Scott said.

“ Did Johnny come back with you?” Marcy asked.

“ No. He stayed at the saloon. I believe I heard him come back early this morning.” Scott answered.

Jake looked hard at Scott. What he had just told Marcy, wasn’t right. It wasn’t his place to tell her, brother or no brother. “ Scott, I don’t think you need to be telling Marcy what time Johnny came back to his room. That’s between them.” Jake said firmly.

“ I am not in the habit of lying. Marcy asked me a question, and I answered it.” Scott said back.

“ If you will excuse me. I have business I need to tend to if I’m going to be a sheriff in Moro Coyo.” Jake said as he stood up and gave Scott a hard look before walking away.

“ Marcy, would you care to take a walk with me this morning? I need to send that wire to Murdoch and it’s a beautiful morning.” Scott said.

“ I would love too. I’ll just go up and leave Johnny a note letting him know in case he wakes up before we get back.” Marcy said.

Anna seen Jake come out of the hotel. When she seen Scott and Marcy walk out a short time later, she waited until they went into the telegraph office before walking across the street and entering the hotel. Asking the clerk what room he was in, telling him they were old friends. Walking up to the door, she put an ear to it, and listened for any sound coming from the other side. Hearing nothing, she knocked on the door and waited.

Johnny woke to the sound of someone, or something knocking. Rubbing his face, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up, removing his pistol from the holster where it hung on the end of the bed. Opening the door, he found Anna standing there.

“ Can I come in?” she asked.

Johnny moved aside and let her step into the room. “ What are you doing here?” Johnny asked as he yawned.

“ I wanted to see you again, alone.” Anna said as she stepped up to him, and put her arms around his neck. Today she would start her execution plan. If she had it timed right, the other woman would be walking in, catching them together. Johnny in just his pants and socks sweetened it for her. Anna figured she had only a few minutes to try and seduce Johnny one last time before she killed him. One last sweet memory to add to her bitter ones. “ I thought I would come and thank you for last night, and see if your wound was okay.”

“ It’s fine.” he responded as he walked over to the table and seen a note. Picking it up he read it.

Gone to send wire with Scott. Back in a few.

Wrinkling up the note, Johnny threw it on the floor.

“ Something wrong?” Anna asked.

“ You knew she was gone!” Johnny said.

“ Excuse me?”

“ You watched and knew I was alone. That’s why you’re here now.” Johnny said as he turned around.

“ What if I did. I don’t think you would want me coming up here with your girlfriend here!” Anna responded.

“ What kind of game are you playing with me Anna?” Johnny demanded as he walked over to her.

“ You didn’t seem to care about that last night in my saloon.” Anna snapped back.

“ Last night was a mistake. It should have never happened. I should have left.” Johnny said.

“ You stayed because you wanted to. You stayed because you wanted to fuck me.” Anna said with anger.

“ Why didn’t you talk to me?” Johnny asked. “ Why the fuck didn’t you talk to me that day I rode back to you?”

“ Talk to you…..Talk to you about what? You murdered my family.” Anna said with anger. “ You fucking killed my brother. You shot him down in cold blood. It’s because of you, that my whole family was murdered that day. I should have shot you dead when you came back.”

“ Why didn’t you?” Johnny demanded. “ I’ll tell you why……… It was a range war…………….Falling in love with you wasn’t part of it.”

“ You didn’t fall in love with me…….You took advantage of me, and took my innocence.”

“ You sure as hell didn’t refuse, as a matter of fact. It was you who wanted me to be your first, but I guess you don’t remember that.” Johnny snapped back.

“ You sonofabitch. I hate you.” Anna said right before slapping Johnny hard across the face just as the door opened.

Johnny looked and seen Marcy and Scott standing there.

“ Who the hell is she, and what the hell is she doing in our room?” Marcy demanded.

“ A mistake.” Johnny said.

“ Funny, you didn’t think I was a mistake last night when you were with me in my saloon after closing.” Anna said with a laugh.

Marcy glared at Johnny and shook her head. “ She another part of your past?”

“ Past, hell honey, me and Johnny were together.” Anna responded.

“ Get out.” Marcy ordered. “ Get out of my room now.”

“ Don’t worry, I’m going. I just stopped by to tell Johnny that our unfinished business isn’t finished yet.” Anna said before walking out.

Johnny stood there bare chested, looking at Marcy. It was Scott who broke the deafening silence.

“ I believe you have some explaining to do brother!” Scott said as he closed the door.

Johnny turned away from them as memories from last night, and years ago came back to him. Wrapping his arms around his chest, he sighed. Last night was wrong, and he knew it.  Turning around facing Marcy, Johnny could only stare at he. No words would come.

“ You going to answer me?” Marcy demanded.

Johnny walked over and grabbed his shirt, and put it on. “ What do you want me to say Marcy?” he asked softly as he buttoned his shirt up and tucked it in.

“ What do I want you to say? I want you to tell me the truth Johnny. You asked me to marry you. You tell me you love me, yet last night you apparently didn’t, because if you did, you wouldn’t have been with her.”  Marcy said with anger.

“ You said you could handle my past. That you accept it. Anna is part of my past Marcy. I didn’t mean for last night to happen, but it did.” Johnny said as he grabbed his boots and put them on.

“ Tell me something little brother. If you were married to Marcy, would last night have still happened?” Scott demanded.

“ No damn it, it wouldn’t have Scott. I know I screwed up Marcy, but you don’t own me. Nobody owns me.” Johnny said with anger.

“ Nobody owns you huh? She seems to be doing a pretty good job of it.” Marcy said.

Johnny walked over to her. “ You know, I don’t think you can handle my past.” he said.

Marcy slapped Johnny hard across the face. “ You sonofabitch. How many other women have you been with since asking me to marry you?” she demanded.

“ None.” Johnny said before going to the door to leave.

Scott grabbed Johnny’ arm and stopped him. “ Wait a minute Johnny. She said unfinished business. What did she mean by that?” he asked.

“ Let go of my arm Scott….now.”

“ Answer me first.”

“ I told you already, now let go.”

Scott let go of Johnny’ arm and stood there shocked as what Johnny told him in the saloon about Anna came back to him. “ Angel of death.” he said.

“ What?” Marcy asked.

“ It’s nothing. I’m going to go get some breakfast.” Johnny said before walking out.

“ Scott, what do you mean, Angel of death?” Marcy asked.

Scott looked at her. He wanted to tell her, but promised his brother he wouldn’t.

“ Scott.”

“ I can’t Marcy. I promised Johnny I wouldn’t say anything. I can’t break what little trust he has in me. I’m sorry.” Scott said.

Murdoch rode into Moro Coyo, and stopped in front of the bank, and dismounted.

“ Murdoch.” Ben yelled as he hurried across the street to him. “ I just got this a few minutes ago. I knew you were waiting to hear from the boys.” Ben said as he handed the wire to Murdoch.

“ Thank you Ben. How’s that baby doing?” Murdoch asked as he took the wire and opened it to read.

“ Growing. Well I’ll see you later.” Ben said as he headed back across the street.

In Modesto. Stop Had trouble. Stop Staying overnight. Stop Will be home in a few days. Stop

Murdoch folded the paper and put it in his pocket as he headed across the street to the telegraph office.

“ Murdoch, is something wrong?” Ben asked.

“ I need to send a wire right back to Scott.” he responded.

“ Okay, what do you want to say?”

“ Stay in Modesto. I’m coming to you. Will explain when I get there.” Murdoch said.

Ben sent the wire. “ Murdoch, you know I don’t get in other peoples business, but does this have anything to do with those men who rode into town late yesterday afternoon?”

“ What men?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know. Never seen them before. Was two Mexicans and four what looked like gunfighters with them.” Ben answered. “ Are they here for your son Johnny?” he asked.

“ Ben, I would appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to anyone about any of this. It could get my boys killed if you do.” Murdoch said.

“ You know I won’t say anything Murdoch. I’m just concerned is all. I have a new baby and wife to worry about.” Ben responded.

“ They will be fine. I’ll see you.” Murdoch said before walking out and heading back over to his horse. Business at the bank would just have to wait. He needed to get home, pack and head to Modesto at first light with some hands.

“ I don’t know what to do Scott.” Marcy said as she sat down on the bed. “ I don’t understand why he’s doing this to me.”

Scott sat down next to her. “ Marcy, mt brother has been alone for so long. I think he’s doing this partially because he’s afraid, even though he would never admit it.”

“ Is she going to try and kill Johnny?” Marcy asked.

“ I don’t know. I don’t know what Anna plans, or what she meant by unfinished business.” Scott answered.

“ A part of me wishes Johnny was like you or Jake.” Marcy said as she turned to face him. “ I just don’t know if I can love Johnny anymore. If I can marry him.”

Scott knew Marcy loved his brother. He knew she did want to marry him. She just needed reassuring or proof of her love for Johnny.

“ Marcy, What Johnny did last night was wrong, but I think you are having doubts about your love for my brother. I think you need reassurance that you do love him to make your doubts go away.” Scott said as he placed his right hand on the left side of her face and slowly brought his lips to hers.

Marcy froze when Scott touched her face, feeling his lips touch hers caused her to sigh as she responded to his kiss.

Scott reached around Marcy and pulled her to him as he deepened his kiss, sliding his tongue in her mouth, and moaning softly as she responded to him. When he heard Marcy moan, and felt her hands reach behind his neck, Scott gently coaxed her down onto the bed, his lips never leaving hers.

Marcy could feel the heat starting to build inside as she kissed Scott. Suddenly stopping and pushing Scott away. “ I can’t do this Scott.” Marcy said as she stood up and walked over to the vanity. “ I’m sorry. Oh my god, what have I done?” she asked.

Scott stood up and walked over to her. “ What you did was show me just how much you love my brother.”

“ Thank you Scott. You sure know how to make a lady’s head swim.” Marcy said.

“ If my little brother ever gets his priorities straightened out, he is going to be one lucky man to have you as his wife.” Scott said.

“ You think maybe last night, Johnny maybe did that to see if he does love me?” Marcy asked.

“ I can’t say. That woman and Johnny had a past together a few years ago. Maybe he had to see if he was over her.” Scott suggested.

“ Clearly he isn’t. Otherwise he wouldn’t have slept with her.” Marcy said. “ God I’m so embarrassed.”

“ Why? You have nothing to be embarrassed about.” Scott said.

“ I kissed you back Scott. I almost let you make love to me.”

“ Marcy, though I’m flattered, I’m afraid I like my women a little older. I did what I did only so you could see if you love Johnny. Stopping me proves you do.” Scott responded. “ I have to tell you, if you were a little older, I don’t think I would have been able to stop.”

Scott said as someone knocked on the door.

Marcy went and opened the door. “ Yes.”

“ I have a telegram for  you in response to the one you sent.”

“ Thank you.” Marcy said as she took the wire and handed it to Scott and closed the door.

Scott took the wire and opened it. “ It’s from Murdoch. He says to stay in Modesto. That he’s coming here and will explain when he gets here.”  Scott said as he went and grabbed his hat.

“ You think something is wrong?” Marcy asked.

“ Yes I do. He doesn’t want us coming home for some reason. I need to find Johnny.” Scott said as he opened the door and walked out

Marcy stood there wondering what could be wrong. Why was their father coming to Modesto to meet them? Did this have something to do with Johnny’ past, again?  Walking over to the window, she looked out at the gorgeous blue sky, and wondered if later this afternoon, if Scott would go for a ride with her. She doubted asking Johnny, that he would. No, she wanted to talk to Scott about what to expect from his father when he got there. She would ask him when he came back from talking to Johnny.

Scott found Johnny downstairs, just finishing his breakfast. Walking over, he sat down.

“ I don’t need to hear anymore lectures from you brother.” Johnny said as he dropped his fork onto his plate, and picked up his cup of coffee.

“ I’m not here to lecture you Johnny. I sent a wire to Murdoch this morning telling him we were in Modesto, and  letting him know we would be home in a few days.”

“ Yeah, so.” Johnny said.

“ He sent a wire back telling us to stay put here. That he is coming here and would explain when he arrives.” Scott said as he handed Johnny the wire.

“ Wonder why he wants us to stay put?” Johnny asked.

“ You think maybe there’s some trouble brewing and he doesn’t want us riding into it with Marcy?” Scott asked.

“ Maybe. The last time you wired him was when we left Abilene right?”

Scott nodded.

“ You and Marcy have a good time?” Johnny asked calmly.

“ A good time?” Scott said.

“ Yeah, you stayed up there with her after I left. Is she okay?”

“ She’s more than okay Johnny.” Scott responded. “ we talked some. She asked me about Anna, and I told her I couldn’t say anything. That I wouldn’t break your trust saying anything.” Scott said. “ She asked me if I thought Anna was going to try and kill you, and if so, why.”

“What’d you tell her?”

“ I said I don’t know. Johnny, is there a chance Anna will call you out? Is that what she meant by unfinished business?” Scott asked.

“ Don’t know.” Johnny said as he finished his breakfast, and set his fork down. “ I don’t really think Marcy can handle my past Scott.” Johnny said.

“ I think she can. You just need to control what you do when your past does show up brother. You need to control how you handle.”

“ You think we still have a chance together Scott?” Johnny asked as he took a sip of coffee.

“ Yes I do. She loves you Johnny. You just have to control those sudden urges you get, especially after you and Marcy are married. You have to learn to say no to those ladies you like to be with in the saloons.”

“ Only had whores for that since I was fourteen after me and Anna.” Johnny said. “ Listen, I need to be alone Scott. I have to do some thinking.” Johnny said.

“ Alright brother.” Scott said as he stood up. “ For what it’s worth Johnny, I won’t say anything to Murdoch about what happened last night. It stays between us. I think I’ll go let the clerk know we are staying a couple days longer and pay for the rooms, and have her hold one for Murdoch when he gets here.” Scott said.

Johnny sighed as he watched his brother walk over to the counter and tell the clerk they would be staying longer. Seeing the unhappy look on woman’s face as she accepted Scott’ money.

Murdoch rode into the Lancer yard and dismounted, and called Cipriano over to him. “ I want you to have Frank and Walt ready to leave at first light.” Murdoch instructed.

“ You have heard from Senor Scott?” the Segundo asked.

“ Yes. I sent a wire back telling them to stay put. Scott said in his wire that they had some trouble and would be staying there overnight.”

“ We will be ready.”

“ I need you to stay here and watch the ranch. Ramirez rode into Moro Coyo yesterday with his nephew and four gunmen.” Murdoch said. “ I need you to stay here and protect Teresa and the ranch. Can you do that?”

“ Si patron. I will stay and protect the ranch until you come back.” 

“ I want guards posted in the tower at all times. Anyone rides in that you don’t know, fire a warning shot at them. If they don’t stop……You know what to do.”

“ Si, I will post guards and tell them what you said. I will also make sure you, Frank, and Walt have good fast mounts to get you to Modesto.” Cipriano said before walking away.

Murdoch went in the house.

“ Murdoch, your back so soon.” Teresa said as she came into the grand room wiping her hands on her apron.

“ I need you to put together some supplies for me, Walt, and Hank to leave at first light.”

“ You got a wire from Scott. Where are they? Are they alright?” she asked.

“ Yes. They’re in Modesto. Scott said they had some trouble. I sent a wire back telling them to stay put until I get there. Teresa, I need you to listen to me closely. Some men rode into Moro Coyo yesterday. It’s Ramirez. Now I’ve instructed Cipriano on what I want done.”

“ I thought Cipriano was going with you?”

“ No, I want him to stay here and protect you and the ranch while I’m gone. I don’t know if those men will come here or not. I don’t want you leaving this house. If you do, you are to have two men with you at all times. Understand?”

“ Yes. Do you think they would come here after Johnny?” she asked.

“ I don’t know sweetheart. I’ve instructed Cipriano to post a guard in the tower, and fire a warning shot at anyone who approaches that they don’t know. I know you know how to use a rifle. I want you to keep one loaded, and close at all times.” Murdoch said.

“ I will. Do you think the trouble they had meant one of them was hurt?” Teresa asked.

“ I don’t know. It probably has something to do with Johnny’ past, or that damn reward that woman put out.” Murdoch said.


Chapter 14

“ You doin’ alright amigo?” Jake asked as he walked up to Johnny in the barn brushing the stallion.

“ Yeah, you?” Johnny asked.

“ Seems I have to take a ride to Sacramento and talk to some people there about becoming sheriff. Want to come along?” Jake said and asked.

“ Naw. Murdoch wired Scott back. Seems he wants us to stay put until he gets here.” Johnny said.

“ When will he be here?”

“ Leaves in the morning, I guess he’ll be here day after tomorrow. Depends on how hard he rides. Johnny said.

“ You got something bothering you Johnny. I can tell. Why don’t you talk to me about it.” Jake suggested.

“ You have to leave.” Johnny responded.

“ Sacramento will wait. Talk to me.” Jake said.

“ I screwed up Jake. Big time, and I don’t think I can fix it this time.” Johnny said as he walked around the stallion and started brushing the right side.

“ Marcy?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said. “ You remember me telling you about that ghost named Angel?”

“ Yeah.”

“ She’s here. I seen her when we came out of the docs office. I just wasn’t sure it was her.”

“ Isn’t she the one who walked up to our table last night?”

“ Yeah, that’s her.” Johnny said as he walked over to stand next to Jake, and tell him about his past with Anna, and what he did.

“ Wow. There was a range war Johnny. You didn’t plan on falling in love with her. You can’t blame yourself for killing her brother.”

“ I slept with her last night Jake. I didn’t get back to my room until four this morning. I got woke up later to someone knocking on the door. I opened it, and she was standing there. She came in, and we got in a fight, and she slapped me right when Scott and Marcy came back. Jake, she had been watching for her chance to be alone with me. He watched you leave, and she watched Scott and Marcy leave to send a wire to Murdoch.”

“ Watching, why?” Jake asked.

“ You ever hear of a gunfighter called the Angel of Death?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah, said to prefer to call their victim out at night. Wears all black and and a black stetson so nobody can see their face. Nobody knows for sure who the hell they are. Why do you ask?”

“ Anna is the Angel of Death Jake, and she’s going to call me out.” Johnny said as he tossed the brush back in the bin outside the stall.

“ And Marcy knows you were with her?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah, she made it a point to tell her I was this morning.” Johnny answered. “ She said that when I thought that my life was turning out good, I would look up, and she would be there to destroy it.”

“ Johnny, have you ever been called out by a woman gunfighter before?” Jake asked.

“ No. Hell I don’t know any women gunfighters Jake. I never thought my help in teaching Anna to shoot would turn into this.”

“ Wait, you taught her how to shoot?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah, her brother was also teaching her.” Johnny said

“ Jesus Johnny, please tell me you didn’t tell her your secret to winning a gunfight?” Jake asked.

“ No Jake, I didn’t. You’re the only one who knows that.” Johnny responded.

“ I think I’ll just stay around here. I can go to Sacramento after we get back to Lancer. You need someone you can trust to watch your back.” Jake said. “ Let’s go get a beer.” he suggested.

“ As long as it’s not in her saloon.” Johnny suggested.

“ Tell you what. Instead of going to a saloon, why don’t I go buy a bottle and we drink it in your room?”

“ Sounds good. I think I could use a good drink.” Johnny said as he walked out of the stallions stall and closed the gate.

“ I think you need to get drunk.” Jake suggested.

“ Maybe I will, If you stick around to watch my back.” Johnny said.

“ You talk to your old man about me seeing Teresa, and I’ll watch your back.” Jake said with a laugh.

“ You’re on your own there amigo. My old man is protective of her.”

Marcy unlocked the door to her room and walked in, Scott right behind her. “ Jake, what are you doing here?”

“ Rescuing a friend.” Jake said softly.

Marcy looked at the bed, and seen Johnny covered up, sleeping like a baby. “ What happened?” she asked

“ I got him drunk. He needed it.” Jake said. “ Scott, we need to talk. Marcy, can you stay with Johnny a few minutes?”

“ Yes.” Marcy responded.

Jake walked with Scott out and over to his room. Once inside, Jake turned around and faced Scott. “ You’re lucky I don’t take your head off. What the hell is the matter with you? Do you realize he could have been killed last night?” Jake asked.

“ Wait a minute. I had no idea Johnny was going to do what he did last night. I’m not my brothers keeper Jake.” Scott shot back. “ He told you what happened?”

“ Yeah. I found him at the livery with that stallion. He’s pretty torn up over what he did.” Jake said.

“ I just bet he is.” Scott said.

That was it, Jake swung and hit Scott hard, right in the mouth. “ You’re supposed to be his brother, he needed you this morning, and where were you, gone with Marcy doing whatever.”

“ I went for a harmless ride with Marcy. She asked me to go with her. What was I supposed to do, let her go alone?” Scott snapped back as he wiped blood from his mouth.

“ Did he tell you about Anna?” Jake asked as he went over and dabbed a towel in the wash basin, and handed it to Scott.

“ If you mean about their past, yes, Johnny told me.” Scott responded as he snatched the towel and held it to his mouth. “ What the hell did you hit me for?” he demanded.

“ Because you weren’t there when Johnny needed you. That’s why. I’ll do it again too if you ever fuck up like that again.” Jake snapped back. ‘ You want to know your brother. Well you could have learned a lot about him this morning, but no, you left him alone.”

“ I left him alone because he said he needed to be alone for a while. How the hell was I supposed to know he didn’t really want to be alone?”

“ Listen, and listen good. When something bad happens in Johnny’ life, he’ll say he needs time to be alone. He doesn’t. He needs someone who cares, someone who will just stay with him and listen if he talks. Someone who will have his damn back whenever he needs it.”

“  Yeah well Johnny is going to have to start trusting me more if he wants me to watch his back. Hell he talks more to you than he does me. How do you think that makes me feel?”

“ I don’t give a shit how it makes you feel. That’s my friend asleep across the hall, your brother. Stop feeling sorry for yourself like some little kid and start acting like his big brother. Stop him when he’s going to do something stupid. Talk to him. You didn’t once ask him if he was alright on the way here after we killed those men did you? No, you didn’t. Just like when we were  Abilene, after Cora got killed, you stayed away from him for two weeks. Oh you asked Marcy how he was doing, but not once did you go see him.”

“ He told me to get the fuck out, and stay away, so I did. I figured I would give him time to cool down…..to think about what happened.”

“ Boy, I can see I’m gonna have to chaperon you when you’re with him. Teach you how to be a brother to him.” Jake said.

“ Look, you think it’s easy on me having a gunfighter for a brother?  Not just any gunfighter mind you, no, I have the deadliest gunfighter there is for a little brother. I have a little brother that every sonofabitch out there would like nothing better to do than kill just so they can have his damn reputation. So you tell me Jake, how do I be a big  brother to that?”

“ You suck it up, and grow up. That’s how.” Jake responded. “ Did he tell you about Anna being the Angel of Death?”

“ Yes, he said he thinks she’s the one. Why?”

“ Because, I need to know who I can count on to have my back, and Johnny’ if she calls him out. That’s why.”

“ So you think she will call him out too?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know, but I’m not taking any chances. I don’t want him left alone. Not even in his room.” Jake said.

“ What if we went to the sheriff, and told him?” Scott suggested.

“ He wouldn’t believe us. Anna owns two successful businesses in this town. Do you really think the sheriff, or townspeople will believe us if we told them she was the Angel of Death?”

“ Couldn’t hurt. Might make them get suspicious.”

“ Yeah, of us. No, Johnny doesn’t want anything said to the law, so we don’t say anything. That includes his old man when he gets here. Understood.”

“ I gave Johnny my word I wouldn’t say anything to Murdoch about what happened, and I won’t.”

“ Good, now I made Johnny a promise and I intend on keeping it. So would you mind going downstairs and getting me something to eat?”

“ What do you want?” Scott asked as he walked over and looked in the mirror at his swollen lip. “ Oh, by the way, nice right.”

“ Steak and potatoes will be fine. I didn’t even hit you as hard as I could have.” Jake said.

“ Remind me to never get in a fight with you.”

Jake walked back to Johnny’ room, and opened the door, and stepped inside. “ He still asleep?” he asked softly.

“ Yes. He was mumbling something, but I couldn’t make it all out. He kept saying Lo Siento, my name and something else.” Marcy said.

“ Lo Siento means I’m sorry in Spanish.” Jake told her as he sat down.

“ Where’s Scott?” Marcy asked.

“ He went to get me something to eat. I haven’t ate all day and I’m hungry.” Jake said. “ You know, Johnny’ real messed up inside right now Marcy. He’s an easy target right now because of you and that other woman Anna.”

“ I didn’t force him to sleep with her Jake.”

“ Never said you did. All I said was, Johnny is real messed up inside right now. He’s never had someone to love. Hell let alone marry. A gunfighter never gets the chance he’s getting to walk away from it and live a normal life Marcy.”

“ Walk away from it? You mean walk away from his past don’t you?”

“ That, and walk away from living by his gun. Hiring his gun arm out to the highest bidder. All the while watching over his back for someone to come along and kill him for his damn reputation.”

“ I know you think I can’t handle Johnny’ past, and maybe you’re right, but I’m not going to give him up because of it. What he did, sleeping with that….with Anna, was wrong, and I think that’s part of what his dreams been about.”

“ I’m sorry Marcy, but from what Johnny said today and how you have acted lately, like in Silver Peak, I don’t believe you. I don’t think you can handle his past. I think that every time Johnny runs into someone from his past that is a female, you’re going to think he’s going to make the mistake he did last night. Johnny would love nothing but to be able to put his past behind him, and live a normal life, but he can’t, not until others allow him to do that, and that isn’t going to happen real soon. Not with him just now getting out of the game.”

“ So he will have to wear his gun until he feels safe not too?” Marcy asked.

“ He’ll never be able to  not wear his gun. Once a gunfighter, always a gunfighter. Even me. I was a Marshal for all those years, but even though I wore a badge, I was still a gunfighter, and I still am, and will be until I die. Just like Johnny will be.” Jake said.

Scott opened the door and walked in carrying a tray of food. “ Am I interrupting?” he asked.

“ Nope. Me and Marcy were just having a conversation like we did.” Jake said. “ That smells good.”

“ I hope your conversation went better than mine.” Scott said as he set the tray of food down on the table. “ I got something for all of us, including Johnny, just in case he woke up.”

“ Thank you Scott. What happened?” Marcy asked, noticing Scott’ mouth.

“ A hard right hook.” Scott said.

Marcy turned to Jake. “ You hit him?” she asked

“ Yes I did, and I’ll do it again, and he knows why.” Jake responded.

“ Men. I don’t think I will ever understand you.” Marcy said with a laugh.

Murdoch, Frank, and Walt left Lancer just as the sun was starting to show it’s first hints of light in the eastern sky. A quick briefing with the men and orders to not go into Moro Coyo for anything, and Murdoch said his goodbyes. If all went well, they would be back in five days. All he could do was pray nothing happened while he was gone. He left strict orders with his segundo on who to go to if help was needed. Having Teresa go reluctantly  stay at the Conway ranch until he returned gave him some peace knowing she would be safe and not alone in the big house. Aggie promised him she would keep Teresa busy to keep her mind off his being gone, but it wasn’t so much his being gone as it was worrying about Johnny, and if he would be gunned down upon coming home.

“ Mister Lancer, how do you think your son Johnny will take the news when you tell him?” Walt asked.

“ I don’t know Walt. Johnny doesn’t like to talk about his past, and he has a bad habit of keeping his emotions all penned up inside.” Murdoch responded.

“ This Ramirez fella. He must have an awful hate for Johnny, to ride all the way to Moro Coyo, from Mexico.” Frank stated.

“ I’m afraid so Frank. Men like Ramirez, think they have a right to have superior power over those less fortunate than them.” Murdoch stated. “ The few times I went below the border, both when I was a lawman, and when I was looking for Johnny, I witnessed the cruelty the Rurales would inflict on those people, and I have to tell you, once you see it Frank, you never forget.”

“ I know about scars. I have some of my own from being a slave.  I seen Johnny’ scars once, when we were doing fence. You recon he got some of those scars from Ramirez when he was in prison, before he escaped?” Frank asked.

“ I don’t know. Being in a Mexican prison is hard. They’re brutal, especially to someone like Johnny, who defied them and their authority.” Murdoch said. “ I want to thank both of you for volunteering to come with me to Modesto.” he added.

“ Mister Lancer, Johnny is a good person. I think I can speak for Walt as well when I say  if we judged a person by what they did in their past, and not what we see in that person in the present, then we are no better than those who come to try and kill Johnny. He’s a kind, caring person, who would do anything to help his fellow man, and he’s more than proved that to both of us a time or two.” Frank said. “ It wasn’t easy for me, and still isn’t sometimes, but Johnny never judged me because I’m black. He’s always treated me as an equal, and for that, riding with you to Modesto to make sure he makes it home safe is the least I can do.”Frank added.

“ My son has taught me, that everyone deserves a second chance. I haven’t been easy on him and I think that’s due to his past as a gunfighter.” Murdoch stated.

“ When you found out who he was, how’d you take the news?” Walt asked.

“ I was angry.” Murdoch answered. “ I didn’t want to accept that my Johnny, could be a gunfighter. A part of me still can’t believe it.” he added.

“ But isn’t it because Johnny Lancer became Johnny Madrid, that he’s still alive, and you get a second chance to be a father to him?” Frank asked.

“ Yes. I guess a part of him will always be Johnny Madrid, and it’s that, that I am finding hard to accept Frank.” Murdoch stated.

“ Why you recon that is?” Walt asked.

“ Well Walt, as someone has told me numerous times, Johnny isn’t the Johnny I remember when Maria took him away from me. He’s a grown man now, and I missed out on his growing up. He came back here with nothing but hate for me because of the lies Maria told him. I think that if it wasn’t for learning he had a brother, Johnny would have killed me, because he believed those lies.” Murdoch said.

“ You mean, Johnny didn’t know he had an older brother all that time growing up?” Frank asked.

“ No he didn’t. It seems his mother felt no need to tell him that. Why I don’t know. Johnny doesn’t talk about her. At least not to me he hasn’t.”

“ This fella that left with Johnny, the Marshal, he coming back with them?” Frank asked.

“ Yes. Scott said he quit his job as Marshal of Abilene, and is coming back here to be the sheriff of Moro Coyo.”

“ Spanish Wells is bigger, I bet they could use a lawman more than Moro Coyo could?” Walt asked.

“ We only have that lazy sheriff in Green River, and he hardly does anything unless it happens right in town.” Frank said. “ Always saying it’s out of his jurisdiction.” he added.

“ Well I for one am glad Jake Teague is coming back with the boys. He’s a good man, and I don’t think the cattlemen’ association will be unhappy with him if he gets the job.”

“ So all the cattle ranchers and you  have the final say on if he gets the job?”

“ Yes. We can’t confirm until we get word from Sacramento. Once we do, we hold a meeting at one of the ranches and vote on it.” Murdoch explained.

“ You’d think with Lancer being the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin, that it would be up to you only.” Walt said.”

“ I couldn’t do that to the other ranchers Walt. They have just as much say in it as I do.” Murdoch responded.

“ It goes back to what we just talked about Walt.” Frank said.

“ What’s that?” Walt asked.

“ Everybody deserves a chance. Mister Lancer, as long as I’ve worked for him, he’s never once used his power to ride roughshod over the other ranchers.” Frank responded.

“ And I never will Frank. Thank you.” Murdoch said.

“ How far you think we’ll get today?” Walt asked.

“  It’s a two day ride from Lancer, so about half way or more. The moon will be out, so we can ride after dark. Unless you two want to stop before and make camp?” Murdoch said.

“ No sir. The sooner we get to your boys, the better it will be, I say.” Frank said.

“ That’s right. We’ll ride as far as you want to Mister Lancer.” Walt added.

“ Good enough.” Murdoch said as the three continued east.

Johnny jerked awake to a sound his mind couldn’t register. ‘ Crack ‘ and then a flash of bright light outside his window told him he was hearing a thunderstorm. Sitting up in bed, he threw his legs over the side and stood up. His head felt like shit “ Damn you Jake.” he said softly as he walked over to the window and looked out at the thunderstorm.

“ Good morning.” Marcy said “ Are you okay?” she asked.

Johnny turned and stood there, staring at her a few seconds. “ Yeah, damn thunderstorm woke me up.” Johnny said.

“ Come back to bed, it’s still dark out.” Marcy suggested.

Johnny walked back over to the bed. “ You sure you want me in the same bed as you?” Johnny asked.

“ You were last night.” Marcy responded.

“ I don’t remember to much from last night. I do remember Jake being here.” Johnny said as he sat down on the bed.

Marcy raised up and wrapped her arms around his bare shoulders. “ Jake got you drunk last night. He said you needed it.”

“ Like hell I did.” Johnny said as he scooted around to face her. Gently putting his hand to the bruise. “ I’m sorry.”

“ It wasn’t your fault.” Marcy said. “ Johnny, I know that even though we’re not married yet, that I don’t have any real claim to you,  Mrs Reed told me that once a man and woman are engaged, they are supposed to be loyal to each other. Do you know what that means?”

“ You’re asking me if I know about loyalty! Marcy I know more about being loyal than you will ever know. I know I screwed up sleeping with Anna, It happened, and I wish it hadn’t. Anna and me…….she was my first when I was making a name for myself. Something happened between us that ended our relationship. That’s all I can tell you.”

“ Answer me this. Did you go looking for her the other night?” Marcy asked.

“ No. She owns the saloon we went to. I didn’t know it until she walked in, and came over to our table, and told us. She also owns the dress shop across from the doctors office. That’s where I first seen her.” Johnny answered.

“ So, that night, Jake leaves, and then Scott. How come you stayed?”

“ I was enjoying a few beers.” Johnny responded. “ I’ve never had to answer to anyone before. I’ve never been good at taking orders.”

“ I don’t order you around.” Marcy stated.

“ I know you don’t.” Johnny said. “ Let me ask you something. How come you spend so much time with my brother? It seems like you’re always with Scott since we got here.”

“ Are you implying me and Scott……….?”

“ Aren’t you? I know something happened between you two. I could tell when I asked you just now. Marcy, I got real good at reading people. I had to in my line of work. A persons eyes say a lot when you ask them a question. Just now when I asked you, yours told me something happened between you two. Did you sleep with him?”

“ Jesus Johnny, he’s your brother.” Marcy snapped back as she moved away from him, and got out of bed, and walked over to the window, watching the lightening.

“ You did, didn’t you?” Johnny asked, keeping his voice low.

“ No…….okay? No I didn’t sleep with Scott. After you left the room yesterday morning, Scott talked to me about my feelings toward you. He asked me if I could really handle your past. I told him yes, but he didn’t believe me. He didn’t believe I loved you because of the way I acted in Silver Peak, and here. He kissed me and that was all. Nothing else happened between us Johnny.” Marcy responded.

“ He kissed you, and did you kiss him back?” Johnny asked as he got out of bed and walked over to her.

“ At first, yes, but then I realized the mistake I was making. I realized I was really in love with you. I pushed away from him, and told him I love you, and that it was wrong kissing him.”

“ And what did he say?”

“ He was glad I realized my love for you. He told me he only kissed me to see if I had any doubts about how I felt about you.” Marcy responded.

Johnny put his hands on Marcy’ shoulders and turned her around to face him. “ I don’t really know what to say to that. You got mad at me for kissing Belle, yet it’s okay for you to be kissing my brother because you want to see if you have doubts about loving me.” Johnny said.

“ At least I didn’t sleep with him.” Marcy said as she walked back over to the bed.

Johnny sighed and followed her back over to the bed, and turned her around. “ Would you have if he tried?” he asked.

“ I don’t know……..I wasn’t expecting him to kiss me.” Marcy said as a tear ran down her face.

Johnny knew she was telling the truth. Wiping the tear away with his thumb, Johnny pulled her to his chest, and wrapped his arms around her. He wanted to make love to her, but knew it would be wrong so soon after her being attacked by Rube. Kissing the top of her head, he laid back, pulling her with him, and fell asleep holding her in his arms.

“ Morning Scott.” Jake said as the older Lancer walked over to the table, and sat down. “ Have some coffee. You look tired.”

“ I was sleeping good until that storm started.” Scott said as he sat down.

“ Yeah, it’s really coming down out there. Winds pretty strong.” Jake responded.

“ Johnny and Marcy not up yet?” Scott asked as a waitress brought him a cup of coffee and took his order.

“ I haven’t seen them come down yet.” Jake responded. “ I expect they’ll be down soon though. Johnny never has liked thunderstorms.” he added.

“ Why’s that?” Scott asked.

“ Survival.” Jake said.

“ Survival?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, he has no control over the weather, hell none of us do, but with Johnny, he likes to be in control, and a thunderstorm, especially one like this one, he feels he’s not.” Jake explained.

“ You mean he feels vulnerable?” Scott asked.

“ Now you’re catching on. There may be hope for you yet Scott.” Jake replied.

“ Thanks, I think.” Scott said as he took a sip of his coffee.

“ I expect your old man will be slowed down by this storm.”

“ Yeah, it looks like it might be here all day.” Scott responded as his breakfast was delivered. “ You got Johnny pretty drunk yesterday afternoon. He going to be mad at you for that?” he asked as he picked up his knife, and started cutting up his slice of ham.

“ Done it before. See, you need to learn the signs Scott.” Jake responded.

“ The signs? I’m sorry, I didn’t know there were signs to look for when someone wants to get passed out drunk.” Scott said. “ That’s good ham.”

“ There are with Johnny. When he’s hurting, and I don’t mean from a wound type of hurting, but an insecure type. As long as he has someone, meaning me, to watch his back, Johnny wants to drink a bottle of whiskey or tequila and pass out. Sometimes that’s the only way he can make the ghost go away, and he gets some sleep.” Jake stated. “ Scott, the biggest thing you have got to remember about Johnny is, when he has to kill someone, it makes him sick inside. It’s easy for someone to kill another, but it’s impossible to bring them back to life, and that haunts him. Haunts Johnny bad.”

“ So he crawls inside a bottle to find solace?” Scott asked.

“ No Scott. Didn’t you hear a damn word I just said? Johnny crawls inside a bottle because it makes the ghost go away.” Jake replied. “ You were in the war. Can you sit there and tell me you’re not haunted by the faces of men you killed in the war?”

“ No. I guess I’ve never thought of it that way.” Scott responded.

“ You’ve never thought of it that way because you were a soldier in the army, and Johnny is a gunfighter.” Jake stated. “ Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll shut up.”

Scott sighed as he set his fork down, picked up his napkin, and dabbed at the corners of his mouth. “ You’re not wrong. I just never thought of it like that.”

“ Uh huh. Why don’t you tell me what your first impression was of Johnny when you first learned he was your brother?”

Scott took a sip of coffee,and leaned back in his chair. “ The first time I seen Johnny, he was in the saloon in Green River. He was sitting in the corner watching us. I nodded slightly at him as I noticed his blue eyes. He smiled at me before putting his head down, and something inside me made my gut go tight. He was called out by this kid. I watched him try to talk the kid out of it, but failed. He killed the kid, walked over to us, and told us it isn’t not always possible to walk away. He was saying it to Murdoch mostly.  Then he turned to me and told me he’s not a cold blooded killer. That every man he’s ever killed, he killed in a fair fight. The way he looked at me, and how he said it, sent a chill through my bones. It wasn’t long after that, I learned he was my long lost little brother.” Scott responded.

“ You find out from a Pinkerton report?” Jake asked.

“  Yes. A few days later, Murdoch received a report from them telling us. It was a few days after we received the report that Johnny walked into the house. The look in his eyes was one I have never seen before. I walked up to him, and said we were just talking about you brother, and he asked me what made me think I was his brother. I told him, my gut from that time he walked up to me in Green River.”

“ Interesting. I can almost bet how your old man felt, learning his long lost son was Johnny Madrid.”

“ Our father has his faults just like you and me Jake. This hasn’t been easy on him.” Scott responded.

“ Never said it was. Just making a point from what I observed between them when I was there.”

“ A professor once told me, never judge a book…….”

“ By it’s cover.” Jake cut in and finished saying. “ I’ve heard that saying too Scott. Well, look who finally got out of bed.”

Johnny and Marcy walked into the hotel dining area, and over to Jake, and Scott’ table. “ Can we join you?” Johnny asked.

“ Of course.” Jake responded.

“ Morning brother.” Scott said.

Johnny shot Scott a hard look before turning back to Jake. “ Thanks for yesterday. I owe you one.”

“ Denada. You don’t owe me anything amigo. Glad I could help. Did it work?”

“ It was until that damn storm outside woke me up.” Johnny responded as he once again glared at Scott.

“ Is something wrong Johnny?” Scott asked, noticing how his brother glared at him.

“ Why would you think something is wrong…….brother?” Johnny asked coldly. “ I see you met Jake’ right.” he said without sympathy.

Scott didn’t answer. Their father would be arriving sometime this afternoon or evening, unless the storm slowed him down, which he doubted. Telling them to stay put in Modesto, instead of coming on home, Scott knew something was seriously wrong. He could also tell that for some reason, his brother was upset with him. Something he would address later when they were alone.

“ How long until you think Madrid shows up uncle?” Ramon asked.

“ I do not know. He is coming back from Texas, I heard someone say in the cantina last night. We will wait.” Ramirez said.

“ Those men that rode here with us, they were very drunk last night.” Ramon said.

“ Those men will be useless to me I think.” Ramirez stated. “ Come. Let us take a ride to this Lancer estancia. I want to see what Madrid calls home now before I kill him.”

“ Seen that greaser ride out with his nephew this morning.” Red told the others.

“ Which way did they ride?” Tulsa Jack asked.

“ Southeast.” Red said. “ The only thing southeast of Moro Coyo, is that lancer spread. You think maybe he rode out there to confront Madrid?”

“ No. He’ll wait until Madrid is off Lancer land, or at least away from the house.” Cherokee Bill responded.

“ Madrid is around somewhere. We just have to wait for him to show up is all.” Tulsa Jack stated.

“ Why don’t we ask around? Somebody is bound to know where he’s at.” Sandy suggested.

“ Because we don’t want to be drawing attention to ourselves that’s why.” Red said.

“ And you think four gunfighters riding into town with a greaser and kid isn’t going to make people take notice Red?” Sandy asked. “ Hell, the whole town knows we’re here to call Madrid out.” he added.

“He’s right Red. They all know why we’re here.” Tulsa Jack said. “ Keep an eye out for when that greaser and the kid get back.” Tulsa Jack said before turning and heading toward the cantina.

“ Who put him in charge?” Sandy asked.

“ He did. Tulsa Jack has a history with Madrid.” Red said.

“ History. What they do a job together or something?” Sandy asked.

“ You being so young, I’ll tell you. Tulsa Jack, he  and Madrid, they hired on to this rancher in Arizona once. He was losing cattle across the border, and wanted it stopped. The rancher put Tulsa in charge, and that didn’t set to well with Madrid.” Red said.

“ See, Madrid don’t like taking orders from nobody.” Cherokee Bill added.

“ Anyhow, about the third day was the breaking point for Madrid. Tulsa wanted him to be bait for those rustlers since he was wanted by just about anyone who could shoot below the border. You see, those damn rustlers would come across, steal the cattle and disappear like ghost right after crossing the river. No tracks, nothing. Ghost riders is what we started calling them. Tulsa ordered Madrid to do what he said or he could leave. Well Madrid left, he went across the border and watched those cattle rustlers, and were they took the cattle and took them out all by himself. Now that rancher, he was offering a really nice reward if he got all his cattle back that had been stolen, Madrid brought every one of those beeves back and collected that reward. Tulsa was beyond angry. He swore he would make Madrid pay for double crossing him like he did.”

“ Yeah, but you said Tulsa ordered Madrid to leave, and he did.” Sandy said.

“ You don’t get it do you kid? Madrid double crossed Tulsa, by bringing all those cows in alone, instead of cutting him in on the deal.”

“ Well there’s that, and the bullet Madrid put in Jack’ back.” Red said.

“ Bullet. Madrid shot Tulsa Jack in the back?” Sandy asked.

“ Tulsa never seen who it was, but he swore it was Madrid, and he’s hated the man ever since.” Red said. “ Nobody knows for sure who shot Tulsa.”

“ Shooting someone in the back don’t sound like Madrid’ style to me. He’s always faced his challengers.” Sandy responded.

“ Try telling Tulsa Jack that, and you could end up with a bullet in you kid.” Cherokee Bill said. “ Let’s go get a drink.”

“ How far you recon we are from Modesto?” Frank asked as he adjusted his slicker collar to stop the rain from going down his back.

“ A couple hours, unless this rain gets to bad.” Murdoch answered.

“ Sure is dark off to the north of us.” Walt stated.

“ Yeah, I’ve been watching that. We should make it to Modesto about sundown, before that hits.” Murdoch said.

“ A hot bath and a soft bed sure will feel good.” Frank said.

“ So will some hot coffee, and  food.” Walt added.

“ I bet you’re anxious to see them boys of yours?” Frank asked.

“ It’s been almost a year since they left.” Murdoch responded. “ I guess you could say I’ve missed them.” he added.

“ Will Johnny’ Marshal friend Jake be coming back with them?” Aggie asked.

“ Scott said he is. I guess he quit his job in Abilene, and is going to be our new sheriff in Moro Coyo or Spanish Wells.” Teresa answered.

“ Lord knows we could use a sheriff in Spanish Wells.” Aggie stated as the two sat cleaning corn. “ You wouldn’t be fond of him now would you?” Aggie asked.

“ Fond of him?” Teresa asked.

“ Yes, fond of him. He seemed like a really nice fella when he was here. He sure didn’t back down from Murdoch, when Johnny was hurt.” Aggie responded. “ Teresa, there is nothing wrong with liking a man. You’ll be eighteen this year won’t you?”

“ Yes. Mrs Conway, Murdoch isn’t going to let me see Jake.” Teresa replied.

“ Why do you think that?” Aggie asked.

“ Because Jake used to be like Johnny.” Teresa answered.

“ Like Johnny, you mean a gunfighter?” Aggie asked.

“ Yes. Mrs Conway, Murdoch is still having a hard time accepting that Johnny is a gunfighter. Even with his talks with Father Micheal. Jake isn’t a gunfighter anymore, but he was, and because of that, Murdoch will never allow me to see him. Besides I doubt he would be interested in me anyway.” Teresa said.

“ Oh you’re wrong about that. I seen how he would glance at you, or watch you from a distance. Trust me Teresa, Jake Teague is interested in you, and I will bet you my best cutting horse, he will ask Murdoch permission to court you.”

“ Do you really think so?”

“ Yes I do, Teresa, you will be quit a catch for the man who catches your fancy, and I think Jake is that man. Am I wrong?”

“ No.” Teresa said with a blush. “ You’ve known Murdoch for a long time?”

“ Yes, Murdoch is my oldest, living friend. Why?”

“ How come the two of you never got married?” she asked.

“ I don’t know really. I guess maybe it’s because we’ve been friends for so many years, we never went past that.” Aggie responded.

“ I wish you had been my mother.”

“ Well I’m flattered that you feel that way Teresa. I think of you like a daughter I never had. Your father, and Murdoch have done an excellent job raising you.”

“ It gets lonely sometimes not having a woman around to talk women things with. I talk to Maria, but not about certain things a daughter would talk to her mother about.”

Aggie put down the corn she was cleaning and wiped her hands on the apron she was wearing. “ Teresa, any time you want to talk, you can come over here. You are welcome here any time.”

“ I hope the boys are okay.” Teresa said.

“ I’m sure they are just fine. Murdoch left two days ago. He should be in Modest by now.”

“ I now. It’s just that Scott said they had some trouble when he wired from Modesto.” Teresa responded.

“ He didn’t say what kind of trouble?” Aggie asked.

“ No, but it had to be bad for him to say anything about it.” Teresa responded.

“ I’m sure they’re okay. Let’s take this corn inside and start supper.” Aggie said as she stood up.

Johnny went to his brothers room and opened the door without knocking. What Marcy had told him Scott had done, had to be addressed. Even though he hadn’t really known Scott all that long, he never thought his brother would betray him like he had, and kiss his woman.

Scott sat by the window in his room, reading a book, listening to the storm outside, when he heard his door open. Putting the book down, Scott stood up, and took a couple steps toward him. “ Please, come on in.” Scott said. He could see this wasn’t a friendly visit, by the look in Johnny’ eyes. “ Is something wrong?”

Johnny walked over to Scott and hit him hard in the gut, knocking the wind out of him. “ You sonofabitch. I never thought you of all people would betray me like you did.” Johnny said with anger. “ Tell me something……..brother………would you have took her to bed too?”

Scott knew then why Johnny was so mad at him. Why he looked at him the way he had at breakfast that morning, and why he had avoided him almost all day. The only way he could have found out, was if Marcy had told him. “ She told you?” Scott asked between breaths.

“ Don’t sound so surprised…….brother.” Johnny said right before he hit Scott again.

“ Johnny, would you stop. I have no interest in Marcy. What I did, I did for you.”

“ You kiss my fiance for me……..bullshit Scott.” Johnny said as he stepped up closer to him. “ I don’t need a brother like you if that’s how you’re going to be.”

“ Johnny, I did what I did so Marcy could realize just how much she loves you. I didn’t want to see you get hurt. You damn near lost her because of your own foolishness the other night. Marcy is confused Johnny.” Scott said as he pushed past Johnny and went to his vanity and poured two shots of whiskey for them, and handed him one. “ Ask Jake. He’s been talking to her also. Johnny, marriage is a serious commitment. It’s the sealing of a bond between a man and woman who love each other. Marcy says she can handle your past, but look how she reacted in Silver Peak. She had every right here to be mad at you, hell I’m still mad at you for the other night. What you did almost cost you the second best thing to ever happen to you. I did what I did out of my love for you Johnny, and I would do it again if I had too because I don’t want to see you get hurt. Now if it makes you feel better coming into my room, and hitting me, fine, hit away brother, because like it or not, you’re stuck with me trying to protect you, because that’s what brothers do. They watch out for each other.”

Johnny stood there listening to what his brother was saying. Watching his eyes, listening to his voice, he could tell Scott was telling the truth. “ You alright?” he asked finally.

“ Yeah. I’m getting tired of being hit lately, but yeah, I’m fine.” Scott responded. “ You?” he asked.

Johnny sighed before downing his shot of whiskey. “ Is it supposed to be this complicated?” he asked as he sat down on the bed.

“ Love is never simple little brother. I’d be lying to you if I said it was.” Scott responded.

“ I need to get out of this town. Away from Anna.” Johnny said.

“ She has you pretty mixed up doesn’t she?” Scott asked as he went over and sat down next to him.

“ She’s going to get me killed Scott, I’m so mixed up inside.”

“ Me and Jake won’t let that happen Johnny.”

“ If she calls me out Scott, you and Jake can’t stop it. I can’t face her. I can’t shoot a woman.” Johnny stated.

“ Even if that woman calls you out and fully intends on killing you?” Scott asked.

Johnny stood up, and walked over to the door. “ Ill see you downstairs for supper Boston.” he said as he opened the door.

“ Johnny, wait a minute.” Scott said as he walked over to his brother. Before Johnny could react, Scott jerked him away from the door, and hit him as hard as he could, knocking him down to the floor hard. “  I owed you that one…… brother.” Scott said as he reached down to help Johnny up.

Johnny reached out and took Scott’ offered hand and found himself back on the floor.

“ That’s for what you did to Marcy. You ever do something that stupid again, and I’ll finish this.” Scott said as he again reached for his brothers hand to help him up.

Johnny sat on the floor, glaring at Scott as he wiped at the blood on his mouth. “ You done?” he asked.

“ Yeah, I’m done.” Scott answered.

Johnny grabbed his hand and let Scott pull him up. “ You know, the old man is bound to ask how we got these.” Johnny said as he walked to the vanity, and picked up a towel, and dabbed it in the basin.

“ What do you suggest we tell him?” Scott asked.

“ How the hell should I know.” Johnny said.

“ How about the truth? We had a brotherly disagreement.” Scott suggested.

“ You tell him that, I’m not.” Johnny said as he walked to the door again. “ I can leave now?”

“ Yes brother. I’ll see you downstairs later.” Scott responded.

Scott knew they would be alright. Johnny calling him Boston confirmed they would be. Walking back over to the chair by the window, he sat down and picked his book back up, and resumed reading.


Chapter 15

Murdoch rode into Modesto just after dark. The rains had finally stopped about three miles from town. Riding up to the hotel, he dismounted and stretched his sore back muscles.

“ You want us to take the horses to the livery?” Frank asked.

“ Yeah, then come on back. I’ll get us checked in and see where the boys are.” Murdoch said as he stepped up onto the boardwalk, and walked inside.

Scott was just starting down the stairs when he seen his father walk in. “ Murdoch.” he said as he came down the stairs and extended a hand. “ It’s good to see you sir.”

“ Scott.” Murdoch said with excitement as he shock his sons hand with enthusiasm.  “ It’s good to see you too son. Ten months has been a long time.” he added.

“ Yes sir, it has. I took the liberty of holding a room for you.” Scott said.

“ I’ll need another one if he has one available. Frank, and Walt are with me.” Murdoch said as he stepped up to the counter and signed the ledger. “ Do you have another room?” he asked the clerk.

“ Unfortunately yes. With Johnny Madrid staying here, all my customers left. Nobody wants to stay here with that filthy half-breed around.” the woman said with disgust.

“ Ma’am, I just spent two days riding here, most off it in pouring rain to see my sons. I’ll take it kindly if you wouldn’t speak of my youngest son that way.”

Disgusted, the woman handed Murdoch two keys “ Rooms seven and nine.” she said before turning and walking to the back.

“ Some things never change sir.” Scott said.

“ No, they don’t. Where’s your brother?” Murdoch asked.

“ Right behind you old man.” Johnny said softly.

Murdoch turned around. “ Son, it’s good to see you.” he said as he extended his hand.

Son, not Johnny. He had never been greeted like this before. Maybe he had changed Johnny thought as he shook his fathers hand.

“ So where is my future daughter-in-law?” Murdoch asked.

“ Marcy is upstairs resting before supper.” Johnny said as he glanced at Scott.

“ Sir, why don’t you, Frank and Walt when they get here, get cleaned up and we can meet in the dining room at eight?” Scott suggested.

“ That sounds good son. We’ve been riding in rain since early this morning.”

“ Johnny, Scott, it sure is good to see you.” Frank said as he walked into the hotel lobby.

“ Frank, how are you?” Scott asked as he shook the mans hand. “ Walt.”

“ We got the horses settled sir.” Walt said. “ Johnny, Scott, it’s good to see you.”

“ Frank, Walt.” Johnny said as he shook their hand.

Murdoch handed Frank, and Walt their room key. “ I’m afraid you two will have to share a room.” Murdoch said.

“ That’s fine sir. They got a place we can get a hot bath?” Frank asked as he took the key.

“ There’s a bath house just down the street. Real nice.” Scott said.

“ Sounds good to me.” Walt said.

“ You going tell us why you wanted us to stay here, instead of coming on home sir?” Scott asked as he looked at Johnny.

“ After we get cleaned up and eat. We can meet in one of our rooms.” Murdoch responded.

“ Johnny has the biggest room. We can meet there after supper.” Scott suggested. He noticed Johnny was watching someone, turning he seen Anna had walked into the hotel.

“ Hello Johnny. Introduce me to your friends?” she asked.

“ We should go so you can get cleaned up.” Johnny suggested, ignoring Anna.

Murdoch knew his son had to have a reason for being rude to the lady, something he had never witnessed his son do before. He would address the matter at a later time. “ Well I for one want a hot bath and some dry clothes. Johnny, why don’t you show us were that bath house is?” Murdoch asked.

“ Scott can show you.” Johnny responded as he glared at Anna.

“ Hello, Mister Lancer. I see you made it.” Jake said as he walked into the hotel lobby, and past Anna, and extended his hand.

“ Jake, Scott said you were with them.” Murdoch said as he shook the mans hand.

“ Yeah, they talked me into coming with them and being a lawman in Moro Coyo.” Jake said.

“ Well I don’t know about Moro Coyo, but I do know the Cattleman’s Association has been wanting to get some kind of law in Spanish Wells.” Murdoch responded.

“ Well, shall we?” Scott said.

“ Join us at eight for supper Jake?” Murdoch asked.

“ I’ll be there Mister Lancer.” Jake replied before heading on up to his room.

Scott took Murdoch, Frank, and Walt to the bath house.

“ So that’s your father huh?” Anna asked Johnny when he turned to head upstairs.

“ Who he is is of no concern of yours Anna.” Johnny said coldly.

“ Now Johnny, is that any way to be?” Anna asked.

 Johnny grabbed Anna’ right arm.“ You stay the hell away from me, understand?”

“ That’s going to be hard to do in this town Johnny. You know, all I have to do is send a wire and this town would have thirty guns here in a week. All ready to kill you.” Anna threatened. “ Especially since I know where you are going.” she added.

 Johnny tightened his grip on her arm.“ You won’t do that. It’s not your style. You’re going to push me too far.” Johnny said as he let go of her arm and went upstairs.

“  I’ll see you again Madrid, and you won’t have any choice but to fight me.” Anna said before walking out of the hotel lobby.

Murdoch sat talking with Jake, Scott, Frank, and Walt in the dinning room. All of them waiting on Johnny and Marcy.

“ There he is sir.” Scott said.

Murdoch turned and seen a beautiful young lady, wearing a beautiful dark blue dress with white lace trim on his youngest sons left. Her right arm looped through his left.

“ Murdoch, Frank, Walt, this is Marcy , my fiance.” Johnny said.

Murdoch, Frank, and Walt stood up and removed their hats. “ Ma’am.” Frank, and Walt said.

Murdoch walked over and took Marcy’ left hand and kissed the back of it. “ I’m Murdoch Lancer. It’s a pleasure to meet you finally.”

“ Sit down please. Johnny has told me a lot about you.” Marcy said as Johnny pulled out a chair so she could sit down between him and Scott. “ I’m sorry I was taking a nap when you arrived.” she said.

“ Oh that’s quit alright. We were pretty wet from riding all day in the rain ma’am.” Frank said.

Marcy smiled. “ Please, call me Marcy. Ma’am makes me feel old.”

“ Marcy. Johnny, there’s gonna be a lot of jealous men back in Moro Coyo.” Walt said.

“ I’m sure they will get over it.” Murdoch said.

Supper  went pleasant, as Frank, and Walt, told Johnny, and Scott, what had been happening at Lancer while they were gone. Marcy told them how she met Johnny and about Mrs Reed raising her after her family was killed. Johnny held her hand when she told about finding Mrs Reed dead. Murdoch didn’t  mention the reward poster put out on Johnny, during the evening talk. He would wait until he was alone with his youngest to address the issue.

“ Well, shall we head upstairs?” Murdoch asked. “ I want to talk to you boys in a more private place than down here.” he added.

“ I have a bottle of brandy in my room.” Scott said. “ I’ll just go grab it and meet you there.” Scott added as he stood up.

Johnny helped Marcy up from her chair.

“ Son, if you don’t mind, may I escort my future daughter-in-law to your room?” Murdoch asked.

“ Sure. “ Johnny said.

Murdoch extended his arm and let Marcy wrap her right arm around his as they walked to the room.. Scott met them at the door with a bottle of brandy in his left hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. “ I thought maybe Frank, and Walt would like something a little stronger.” Scott said.

“ That’s fine son.” Murdoch said.

Everyone entered Johnny’ room and took a seat in the chairs. Murdoch elected to stand to tell his son what he had to say. He wished he didn’t, but for Johnny’ sake, he had to know what was waiting for him at home.

“ Johnny, is Marcy aware of your past?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah. She knows who I am.” Johnny said.

“ Mister Lancer. I know Johnny is a gunfighter, and I fully accept that. I know he could be called out at any time and killed. I seen him called out in Abilene. I am willing to take that chance, because every minute I have with Johnny, makes me happy. I love him, and nothing is going to change that.” Marcy said as she glanced from Scott to Johnny.

“ Johnny, do you remember being in a prison in Nogales?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny looked at Jake. “ Yeah. I was there.” Johnny answered as the memory of that nightmare place came back to him. “ It’s not something I care to remember.”

“ Can I ask, how you escaped there?” Murdoch asked.

“ I was taken out to be executed. The main guard, Jesus got to close, and I grabbed his gun. I was seconds away from being shot, when he came over to make me stand up, I grabbed his gun and shot him.” Johnny explained.

“ Johnny, how did you get your hands free?” Scott asked.

“ Small hands. They didn’t tie the rope tight enough and on the way out there, I worked it loose enough, I got free.”

“ Son, do you remember the man who ran that prison?”

Johnny closed his eyes and sighed. He knew the man, hated him like no other for the scars he put on his back. “ What about him?” Johnny asked.

“ He’s in Moro Coyo son. He rode in a few days ago with his nephew.” Murdoch said.

“ Juan Ramirez is in Moro Coyo?”

“ Yes.”

“ What are you not telling me old man?”

“ He had four men with him. All wearing their gun like you do.”Murdoch explained. “ A Pinkerton sent me a letter telling me about him. It seems he rode into San Diego with three men and his nephew, but when he left there were seven men with him.”

“ But you said he rode into Moro Coyo with only four men with him besides his nephew.” Scott stated.

“ Yes. We don’t know where the other three men are at, or if they came to town with him.”

“ Do you know who they are?” Johnny asked.

“ No, I’m sorry son, we don’t.”

“ How would he know Johnny is in Moro Coyo?” Marcy asked.

“ The wanted poster.” Johnny said.

“ Or somebody seen you in Abilene and found out where you were going.” Jake suggested.

“ Why does this man want Johnny?” Marcy asked.

“ It would seem, from what the Pinkerton agent was able to find out, Johnny was the first person to escape from that prison, and since you killed the guards that were with you, the Mexican government needed to blame someone, so they blamed Ramirez. They removed him from the Mexican Army, took all his possessions away, and left him with nothing.”

“ So because of that, he has a hate for Johnny. I don’t understand.” Marcy said.

“ In Mexico, you’re basically nothing if you have nothing. Like the people I helped. That’s why I’m wanted in Mexico Marcy.” Johnny explained.

“ So why did you come here?” Johnny asked.

“ Because I want to make sure my son makes it home alive.” Murdoch responded. “ So he has a chance to live the life he wants.” he added.

“ What about Teresa, where’s she at?” Jake asked.

“ Teresa is staying with my good friend Agatha Conway, at her ranch until this is over.” Murdoch said. “ Son, I think it would be best if Marcy stayed there too.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Wait a minute. I have a say in this since I am going to be Johnny’ wife. I know how to shoot, and I’m not going to hide when he needs help just because I’m a woman.” Marcy cut in.

Jake smiled and shook his head. “ I’m afraid Marcy sets her mind to something Mister Lancer, there’s no changing it.”

“ Damn right. I’m not going to stand by and do nothing. If you think I will, you’re sorely mistaken. All of you.” Marcy said.

“ Marcy, this will be no place for a woman.” Murdoch said.

“ Mister Lancer, I know all about you, and how you like to call the tune, but let me tell you something, not with me. My place is with Johnny, and that is were I will be.” Marcy said firmly.

“ I have to say son, I admire her determination.” Murdoch said. “ You remind me of Johnny’ mother. She could be just as stubborn.”

Johnny stood up and walked over, and poured himself a shot of whiskey, and downed it. Wrapping his arms around himself, he dropped his head to his chest as the painful memories came back of those months spent in that Mexican prison.

“ Are you alright son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Ghost.” Jake said softly as he glanced at Scott, before walking over to Johnny. “ This is a lot to take in. You want to go for a walk buddy?”

Johnny sighed. “ Yeah. I need some air.” Johnny responded as he grabbed his hat and headed to the door.

“ Johnny.”

“ Let him go sir. He needs to think.” Scott cut in.

“ He’ll be alright. I’ll be with him.” Jake said before following Johnny out the door and closing it.

“ Son, would you care to fill me in on what is going on?” Murdoch asked.

“ What do you want to know?” Scott asked.

“ For starters, who was that woman your brother was so rude to in the lobby this evening?”

“ A ghost from Johnny’ past.” Scott responded.

“ That’s pretty vague. I noticed how your brothers demeanor changed when she walked up to us.” Murdoch stated.

“ Yes sir, but out of respect of my brother, and not wanting to break his trust, I can’t tell you anymore than what I already did sir. Johnny knew her in his past.” Scott responded.

“ She was his first love Mister Lancer.” Marcy cut in. “ It would seem they knew each other in an intimate way a few years ago.” she added.

Murdoch could tell by the way Marcy talked, that something had happened between Johnny, and this woman here in Modesto. “ Frank, Walt, why don’t you two go ahead and turn in.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Are you sure Mister Lancer? We can stay if you need us too.” Frank said.

“ No, you two go get some sleep.”

Frank, and Walt bid goodnight and left the room. “ Marcy, would you mind going to my room, so I may talk to my father in private?” Scott asked.

“ Why don’t the two of us go to your room, that way if she wants, Marcy can turn in. It is pretty late.”

“ Very well. Will you be alright?” Scott asked her.

“ I’ll be fine. I know Johnny’ okay, Jake’ with him.” Marcy answered. “ It was a pleasure meeting you Mister Lancer.”

“ Likewise young lady. I shall see you in the morning.” Murdoch said as he followed Scott to the door, and walked out, closing it behind him.

Marcy walked over to the window and pulled the curtain back, looking at the muddy street below. The rain had finally stopped, and stars were now out. She knew Johnny was with Jake, and would be alright, but she still worried. Meeting Johnny’ father, she could understand better, why Johnny had told her what he did about the man. He was taller than his boys, and had a definite demand to ‘ call the tune ‘ as Johnny had said. He was sorely mistaken if he thought he could order her around. Johnny hadn’t said anything to support his fathers request. In fact, she swore she seen him smile at her determination, and for standing up against the big man.

Johnny , and Jake walked to the livery, and stood at the corral, looking up at the night sky. Jake knew Johnny well enough to know his friend would  try and keep his emotions all bottled up inside. “ It never ends does it amigo?”  Jake asked. “ Every time a man thinks he’s put something behind him, it shows up again some time later.”

“ My ghost will never go away Jake. We’re a fallen angel, sent down from above the good book says. I made my bed a long time ago when I picked up a gun and killed the man that murdered my mother.” Johnny said softly. He knew Jake would be the only one to understand what he was going through right now, what he was feeling.

Anna came out of her saloon, and seen Johnny come out of the hotel with Jake, and walk toward the livery.  Crossing the street, she walked down s close as she could get, and listened.

“ Ramirez hurt you pretty bad while you were in prison?” Jake asked.

“ You seen the scars. Some days he would have his men beat me with their fist. Other days he would whip me. He tried to get me to scream, but when he couldn’t get me to do that from a whip, he started using a knife, cutting across my back slowly. I remember one day, he whipped me, then poured brine on my back. I almost screamed, but passed out instead from the pain. When I came too, I was back in my dark, damp cell covered in blood and mud. About a week later, Ramirez gave the order for his guards to take me out and execute me.” Johnny told him.

Anna swallowed hard, and wiped away tears as she listened to what Johnny said was done to him in a Mexican prison. She had heard horror stories of how men went insane while locked up, or where tortured before being executed. She never knew Johnny had been one of those unfortunate ones to experience it.

“ Ghost of my past.” Johnny said softly. “ Ramirez, Anna, Cora Simpson being killed because of me in Abilene. My past will never go away Jake. All I ever wanted was to be good at my trade. Be the best, because only the best gets the most money. I was tired of people treating me like they did because I’m a mestizo. Hell they still do. That woman at the hotel hates my guts, and she don’t even know me. All she knows is I’m Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter.”

“ Johnny, you have got to stop letting what others think of you, bother you so much amigo. It’s tearing you up inside. You have a brother, and father now, and part owner of the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin valley.” Jake said. “ You know how many gunfighters would kill to have what you have now? To be able to walk away from the game?” he asked.

“ I can never walk away Jake. As long as I’m alive, I can never walk away.”

“ We leave here tomorrow morning, I’d say that’s a start. You going back to Lancer is a good start to leaving your those ghost behind. To starting your life over, and Marcy is a good person to start over with.” Jake responded.

Anna had heard enough. Stepping out of the shadows. “ Do you really think you can walk away from what you did to me Madrid?” she demanded.

Johnny, and Jake spun around, guns in hand. “ Stay the hell away from me Anna.” Johnny said with anger.

“ Poor Johnny Madrid, haunted by the ghost from his past. I’m touched to be one of those ghost, you sonofabitch.”

 “ Don’t flatter yourself Bitch. Stay away from me.” Johnny ordered.

Jake walked over to Anna. “You so much as try to hurt Johnny, and you’ll answer to me.”

“ Oh I’m touched Jake. What’s the matter, Johnny not able to fight his own fights anymore huh?” Anna asked. “ Does he need you to hold his hand, or maybe he needs his brother, or father to do it?”

Johnny walked over to Anna, his colt still in his hand. “ Go to hell Anna.” he said coldly before shoving her away, and leaving.

“ It’s you who will be going to hell Madrid. Real soon.” Anna said to his back. “ And your family and friend won’t be able to stop it.”

“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked as he entered Scott’ hotel room.

“ The wanted poster. Are you aware of it?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. A Pinkerton agent I hired once was in Austin when a letter came for the governor. He told me what happened. It wasn’t your brothers fault. He had no way of knowing that woman would do that. I thank god he wasn’t killed.” Murdoch responded.

“ While Jake was still a Marshal, he could have arrested Rose, the woman who put out the poster, for conspiracy to commit murder against a lawman, but Johnny wouldn’t let him. He said she had suffered enough with losing her aunt because of him.” Scott said. “ Four men followed us from New Mexico, We came across them outside Bishop. What I seen that morning when they attacked us and tried to kill Johnny, I think will haunt me for the rest of my life. I’m not to ashamed to say, it scared me to see. What Johnny did to one of the men with his knife…….An Apache Indian has nothing on him.  Johnny cut that mans gut wide open, and he showed no remorse in doing it.”

“ My god.” Murdoch said as he sat down.

“ Marcy was attacked by one of the men…….. He tried to rape her……. By the time me and Jake got to them, Johnny was fighting with Rube, when Marcy shot him dead. She emptied Johnny’ rifle in the mans chest.” Scott told him.

“ I seen she had a bruise. I had hoped Johnny hadn’t hit her.” Murdoch stated.

“ I would think you wouldn’t think Johnny would do such a thing.” Scott responded.

“ After what you just told me he did outside Bishop son.”

“ Johnny is more dangerous than you could ever imagine sir. I’ve seen it first hand.

“ Would you care to elaborate on the bruises on you and your brothers face?” Murdoch asked.

“ Brotherly disagreement and Jake.” Scott responded.

“ Jake hit you?”

“ Yes sir he did. And I have to say, the man throws a powerful right.” Scott stated.

“ All this time you two have been gone, I’ve been talking to Father Micheal, trying to forget who Johnny is, the gunfighter part. To see the good in my son, and then you tell me this.”

“ There are some things I know about Johnny, things that happened both in his past, and here in Modesto, that I cannot tell you. I promised my brother I wouldn’t say anything to you about sir, but what I can tell you is, Johnny wants to be your son, my brother. He doesn’t want to live by his gun anymore. He wants to marry Marcy, and raise a family at Lancer. The only thing Johnny wants more than that, is for you to accept him as both Johnny Madrid, and Johnny Lancer.” Scott said.

“ I want nothing more than to have both my boys home. If Johnny can walk away from his past, I will support him all the way.” Murdoch responded.

“ What about the times his past comes back to haunt him? What about when someone shows up and calls him out? What about then sir?” Scott demanded.

“ I will be right there by his side backing him up.” Murdoch said. “ Lancer takes care of it’s own.” he added.

“ With all due respect sir, when Johnny is called out, we can’t interfere. If we do, it will get him killed for sure. All we can do is make sure it’s fair. That nobody tries to ambush him.” Scott said. “ You may not like it, but that’s all we can do. I’ve seen Johnny as Madrid. I’ve witnessed how easy it is for him to become Madrid. He’s all business, and worrying about us is the last thing he needs when called out.” Scott said with firmness.

“  Alright son. I may not like it, but I see your point.” Murdoch stated. “ It seems the two of you have gotten to know each other quit well since leaving home last year.” Murdoch said.

“ Yes sir, we have.” Scott responded.

“ Well, it’s late. I think I will turn in now son. I’ll see you in the morning for breakfast.” Murdoch said as he stood up and started toward the door.

“ Alright sir.” Scott said as he watched his father leave his room. Walking over to the window, he looked out and seen Johnny, and Jake coming back to the hotel. He also seen Anna standing down by the livery watching them. A sick feeling started in his gut. Would this woman be foolish enough to call his brother out? Could she beat Johnny? Could Johnny face her? But more than that, could he kill her. After the way his little brother was torn up inside emotion wise when Cora was accidentally killed, if he had to kill Anna, how would that affect him?

Murdoch entered his room and closed the door, and just stood there a moment, letting what he had just been told sink in. Thinking back, he couldn’t remember any of the Pinkerton reports ever saying anything about his youngest being brutal, especially with a knife. Yet Scott had witnessed it. Could what has happened to his youngest over the years have been so bad, that it drove him to be like that? What could cause a man to have so much anger inside them, that they would turn into a vicious killer? Scott had said Marcy was almost raped by one of the men. Could that have been what caused his anger? Would Johnny ever show that side of himself again? Scott had said, seeing his brother brutally kill the man with his knife, had scared him. That it would haunt him for the rest of his life. Walking over to his bed, Murdoch sat down, and removed his boots, and clothes, and crawled in bed. Two days riding, the last day in pouring rain, had taken a toll on his back, and the events of the night made the Lancer patriarch exhausted.

Johnny, and Jake walked back to the hotel in silence. Jake knew no words of comfort would help his friend right now. He knew now more than ever, Anna fully intended on trying to kill his friend, the only real friend he ever had, and that was something he wouldn’t let happen. If she did call Johnny out, Jake would be right there to back him up, if Johnny couldn’t draw on a woman. Let alone kill one, especially one he was in love with at one time. Ever since they first met at the orphanage that day, he had done his best to protect Johnny from the cruelty of the other boys. Remembering one time he found Johnny beaten and bleeding from a deep cut in his left hand from were the boys had cut him just to see if his blood was red. It seemed now that they were both grown men, that cruelty was still happening to his friend, only in different ways sometimes. When they were apart, he would hear stories about something Madrid did below the border.

When Jake had heard that Madrid was captured by the Rurales, and put in prison, a small part of him died inside that day. Even thought they weren’t actually blood brothers, Jake and Johnny had become brothers, each one watching out for the other when growing up.  The love Jake had for Johnny, could never be broken by any one person or thing.

Murdoch, Scott, Frank, and Walt sat at their table having coffee the next morning. Johnny, Jake, and Marcy had not been seen since last night.

“ You think Johnny is alright?” Frank asked.

“  He didn’t look to good when you told him about Ramirez.” Walt stated.

“ He’ll be fine.” Murdoch said.

“  Johnny has to work some things out on his own Frank.” Scott added.

“ What’s this Jake fellas game? I mean, he shows up at Lancer as a Marshal, and now he isn’t. What’s his connection to Johnny?” Frank asked.

“ Jake has known my brother since they were together in an orphanage in Mexico, after Johnny’ mother died.” Scott said. “ Jake became a big brother to Johnny, and they have been good friends ever since.”

“ So is he a gunfighter also?” Walt asked.

“ Yes……..” Murdoch started, but was cut off by Scott.

“ He was once. He told me he was until one day he was offered a job as a Marshal.” Scott said

“ How long was he, you know, a gunfighter?” Walt asked.

“ I imagine he’s been one about as long as Johnny has been. I never really asked him about that. I do know, he was the Marshal of Abilene for almost eight years.” Scott said.

“ So did anything exciting happen while you were away?” Frank asked.

“ Not really. I think the only real excitement was when we busted a cattle rustling operation. It seems the Mayor was behind that. Had himself a nice little thing going until one of his men got caught.” Scott said, leaving out the part about Clint from his old unit in the army being involved in it.

“ Boy, I would have liked to have been there for that.” Walt said.

“  It would seem Mrs Carter knows you.” Scott said.

“ Carter, Beth Carter?” Murdoch asked.

Scott raised an eyebrow. “ So you know her?” he asked.

“ I’ve know Beth and Ben Carter for a long time. Why?” Murdoch said.

“ It was her husband that Addison murdered.” Scott said.

“ Oh my god. I never knew. When Jake said, it didn’t dawn on me at the time that it was them. How is she?”

“ She’s a strong willed woman. She definitely knows cattle. She has a spread almost as big as Lancer.”

“ Beth and Ben met in Boston. We ended up riding the train together as far as Amarillo, were they got off. Real good people.”

“ Yes sir she is. She asked me to give you her best.” Scott said as Johnny, Jake and Marcy came downstairs to join them.

“ Well, we were beginning to think you three were going to sleep all day.” Frank said jokingly.

Scott could tell his brother got very little if any sleep last night.

“ Johnny, we need to stop by the doctors office before we leave and get our stitches removed.” Scott said as Johnny sat down.

 “ Yeah. I guess we can.” Johnny responded.

“ Stitches? What stitches son?” Murdoch asked.

“ From the trouble we had outside Bishop.” Scott answered. “ Just scratches really. Nothing major.” he added.

Murdoch looked from Scott to Johnny, and started to say something, but decided not to. The look his youngest gave him clearly said he didn’t want to discuss it.

“ Are you boys ready to head home?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir. I am more than ready to go home and eat some of Teresa’ good cooking.” Scott replied.

“ What about you son?”

Johnny looked at him. “ I guess so. Been a while since I had me some good tamales.”

“ What are tamales?” Marcy asked.

“ A Mexican dish that if cooked right, is out of this world.” Jake said.

“ They are very hot Marcy. Don’t let these two fool you any.” Scott said.

“ The hotter, the better. Right Johnny?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah. Only know of two people who can make them right, and one of them is dead, the other is Maria.”

“ Johnny tells me that Teresa is your ward.” Marcy said.

“ Yes. She’s like a daughter to me. Her father was my foreman for many years. She was born at Lancer.” Murdoch replied.

“ Paul was a good man.” Frank added.

“ How old is Teresa?” Jake asked.

Murdoch looked at him. “ Can I ask why you are wanting to know how old she is?”

“  Was just asking.” Jake responded.

“ She’s a year younger than Johnny is Jake. Seventeen. She will be eighteen this December.”  Scott cut in.

“ She have anyone?” Jake asked.

“ I really don’t see that’s any of your business young man. I have no intention of letting you court Teresa, if that’s what you’re getting at?” Murdoch said firmly.

“ I see what you mean Johnny, he is protective.” Jake said. “ Tell me something Mister Lancer, is it because of my past history that you don’t want me asking your permission to court Teresa?” Jake asked.

Murdoch set his fork down. “ Teresa is an innocent young girl, I will not allow her to…………..”

“ Forget it Jake, you ain’t good enough in my old mans eyes to court Teresa.” Johnny cut in.

“ Now listen here young man, I will not sit here and allow you to talk that way to me. I’m still your father, and I deserve some respect. Jake’ past has no bearing on why I will not allow him to court her. None what so ever.”

“ But it sure as hell would if it was me right?” Johnny snapped back.

“ Johnny, why don’t we go get these stitches out?” Scott cut in and asked.

“ Yeah sure.” Johnny answered as he dropped his fork on his plate, and pushed his chair back from the table, and stood up. “ As far as respect, that has to be earned. Just because we share the same blood don’t mean you’ve earned my respect.” Johnny added as he picked up his and Marcy’ saddlebags.

“ I think I will go start saddling our horses Johnny.” Jake said as he stood up.

“ You want me to come with you?” Marcy asked.

“ No. I’ll meet you at the livery.” Johnny said before walking out with Scott, and Jake.

Murdoch leaned back in his chair and shook his head. “ That boy is going to learn to respect me or else.”

“ He sure does have a burr under his saddle this morning.” Walt said.

“ Wouldn’t you if, if you knew there were men waiting to kill you at home?” Frank asked.

“ Marcy, are you sure you want to marry my son?”

“ I have never been more sure than I am right now. Mister Lancer, I have only known you a day, but Johnny has told me how you treated him, and why he left Lancer last year. Hearing you talk to him the way you did just now, I can see why he left.” Marcy said as she stood up. “ If you will excuse me.”

“ Johnny’ gonna have his hands full with her. She’s got spunk.” Frank said.

“ Why don’t you two go help Jake saddle the horses? I’ll pay for the meal and be along shortly.”

Frank, and Walt stood up and headed toward the door. “ I don’t think Mister Lancer is ever going to cut that boy some slack.” Frank said

“ I know what you mean. Johnny’ a good person, but those two are sure alike.” Walt said as they walked out of the hotel.

Marcy came back downstairs and stopped as Murdoch walked up to her. “ I’m sorry. I was out of line speaking to you that way.”

“ No you weren’t young lady. The way you defended my son a few minutes ago, I can tell you love him very much. I’m glad he found someone to accept who he is and all that comes with him.”

“ All that comes with him Mister Lancer? If you mean his past, I accept that fully. It’s a shame his father can’t.” Marcy said.

“ I’m having trouble accepting my son had to become a gunfighter yes. Any father would, but it does not mean I don’t love him. I spent a lot of money and time looking for Johnny over the years Marcy. If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t have done that.”

“ Money and time doesn’t mean you love him. It means you missed him. Mister Lancer, do you think that maybe, just maybe Johnny would like to hear you say you love him, or that you would talk to him like you do Scott?”

“ Scott is educated, and easy to talk to Marcy. I never know how to talk to Johnny. We disagree so much. All I ask of him is to show me some respect, like any father would.”

“ It’s how you asked him. You didn’t really ask, you demanded him to respect you. There’s a big difference between the two.”

“ You know, I think Johnny won’t be the only one I butt heads with. You young lady are a very stubborn, outspoken lady. I admire that.”

“ Thank you. Now, I know Jake, and he would never do anything to hurt Teresa. He’s a good man, and I think he would be good for her.”

“ That, young lady is not open for discussion. I said my peace to him about it.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Don’t be so quick to judge a book by its cover Mister Lancer. You might be surprised by what you actually find on the inside.”

Anna watched as Johnny and his brother came out of the hotel and walked down to the doctors office. Crossing the street, she walked closer. People watched as the gunfighter walked across the street, and stopped, never looking but in one direction. Wearing all black pants, and a black snug fitting blouse, and a black stetson hat pulled down low enough nobody could see her face, Anna pulled her colt out,  and spun the cylinder before setting it back lightly in the holster. This morning she would do something she had waited three years to do. This morning she would kill the man who murdered her brother. Seeing Johnny come out of the doctors office, Anna stepped down into the street, and walked to the middle and stopped. People walking past, hurried to find a safe place to watch. They had all known Johnny Madrid was in town, and had been for a few days. Riders hurried past the lone figure, not wanting to be in the middle of what was about to happen.

“ I’ll be with you in a minute.” Doc yelled from the back room.

Johnny pushed his hat back off his head, and let it hang by it’s stampede sting. “ Nice to know the old man hasn’t changed in how he feels about me.”

“ He does seem determined to push you it seems.” Scott said.

“ Maybe if he’d have asked me, instead of ordering me, I wouldn’t have walked out like I did.” Johnny said as the doctor walked into the front room.

“ Now what can I……….Oh, it’s you two again.” Doc said directly to Johnny.

“ We came to get our stitches removed.” Scot said.

“ Fine. Come in the back and I will remove them. You first.” Doc said to Scott.

Johnny stood there watching as his brother followed the doctor to the back. He had a bad feeling about this morning. His little disagreement with Murdoch wasn’t it though. Something was going to happen before he got out of Modesto, he could feel it.

“ Okay brother, your turn.” Scott said as he walked out of the back room.

“ I’m afraid he will have to get someone else to remove his stitches. I don’t treat people who murder friends of mines family.” Doc said firmly.

“ Now wait a minute………You…….”

“ Forget it Scott. It’s pretty clear he talked to Anna.” Johnny said as he stepped closer to the doctor. “ You might want to know the whole story before you go passing judgment on someone.” Johnny said coldly.

“ Leave now, before I have the sheriff arrest you.” Doc ordered.

“ Let’s go Johnny.” Scott said as he grabbed Johnny’ left arm. “ He’s not worth it.”

Johnny glared at the doctor a few seconds more, before turning and walking out of the office with Scott.

“ He was out of line Johnny. He had no right refusing to remove your stitches.

“ Forget it Scott. I’ll remove them myself or get you or Marcy to do it.”

“ Lets go home.” Scott said as he walked past Johnny toward the livery were Frank and Walt were leading their horses out.

“ You get them out Scott?” Frank asked.

“ Yeah.” Scott answered as he walked past him, and into the barn to get his horse.

“ JOHNNY MADRID, I’M CALLING YOU OUT MADRID.” Anna yelled from where she stood in the middle of the street.

“ Damn it.” Jake said as he grabbed his rifle and went to the barn door and stepped out.

“ Who the hell is calling your brother out now?” Murdoch demanded as he dropped his horse’ reins and started toward the door, only to be stopped by Scott.

“ Sir don’t, you do and Johnny will be killed for sure.” Scott ordered.

Jake walked outside the barn. “ Johnny.”

Johnny stood there, his back to Anna. His worst fear was now in play. Looking at Jake he dropped his shoulders. “ Keep them out of this.” he asked his friend.

“ I will. I have your back if you need me.” Jake said as Scott and Murdoch came outside and stopped next to him.

Johnny turned around and walked out into the street to face Anna. “ Don’t do this Anna. Please.” Johnny said as he walked to the middle of the street and stopped. “ This doesn’t have to happen.”

“ Oh it’s happening alright. I’ve waited three years to kill you………..You murdered my brother……..my whole family you sonofabitch.”  Anna yelled as more people gathered to watch.

Doc Williams came out of his office. “ Oh my god. Anna, don’t do this, please. He’ll kill you.” he pleaded.

“ I have to doc. I told you what he did……It’s time he pays for it.” Anna said.

“ I’m not drawing on you Anna.” Johnny said.

“ You know what they call me Madrid? She asked. “ They call me the Angel of Death. I haven’t lost a fight yet, and I’m not going to lose this one.” Anna yelled.

Johnny couldn’t do it. He knew the risk involved, Turning around, he started to walk away.

“ That’s that woman from the hotel lobby. What is going on?” Murdoch demanded.

Jake watched in shock as Johnny turned his back to Anna, something he had never know his friend to do when called out.

“ Don’t you turn your back on me Madrid!”  Anna yelled as she drew her pistol and fired, hitting the ground next to Johnny’ feet. “ Turn around and face me.”

Johnny ignored Anna’ demand and started walking toward the barn.

“ You sonofabitch, turn around.” Anna yelled as she once again fired, this time hitting Johnny in his upper left arm. “ The next one goes in your back if you don’t turn around and face me!”

“ Johnny, don’t do this.” Scott pleaded. “ Turn around and face her. She’ll kill you.”

Johnny ignored the white hot pain in his upper left arm. Stopping, he turned around and faced Anna again. “ Don’t make me do this Anna.” he pleaded.

Anna ignored his plea and took aim and fired again, hitting Johnny in his side, knocking him to the ground.

“ Damn it. Help him Jake. Stop her.” Murdoch pleaded.

“ No, stay out of it…………All of you.” Johnny ordered as he stood up and faced her again. This time he was Madrid. This time he would face her. This time the next shot fired would be one of them dying. Ignoring the pain in his side and arm, Johnny walked back out to the middle of the street, and looked at the woman he had once loved. Madrid now in full play, Johnny blocked out everything around him, and focused on the one standing not a hundred feet away from him.

“ You want this, You got it.” he said with more coldness than a winters night.

“ Jake stop this. That’s a woman. He can’t kill her.” Murdoch said.

“ That woman fully intends on trying to kill Johnny.” Jake responded. “ Unless you want to get him killed, I suggest you shut up, and stay back.” Jake ordered.

Murdoch tried to go past Jake and stop what was happening. The sound of a rifle being cocked stopped him.

“ Mister Lancer, Johnny asked me to keep you out of this, and that’s what I intend to do. You take one more step, and you’ll regret it. I don’t want to shoot you, but I will.” Jake said with firmness.

“ Don’t threaten me. If you’re his friend, then you wouldn’t let him do this. Stop it now before it’s to late.”

“ It’s already to late. She drew first blood.” Jake said.

Johnny could feel the blood running down his side from the wound. Standing there, he reached deep down inside, deeper than he had ever reached before for Madrid. No longer was Anna the woman he once loved. Now she was just another fool person who called him out. Hating who was watching, and hearing what his father was saying got pushed to the back of his mind. He couldn’t worry about that now. He knew that if he killed Anna, it would be just one more notch on his gun, and cause more strain between him and his father. More than that, it would be one more ghost to haunt him.

“ You murdered my brother. James  was everything to me, and you took that away. You shot him down right in front of me.”

People on the street watched as Madrid tried not to face the woman. Some whispering amongst themselves that Madrid had never been called out by a woman before. Others saying he wouldn’t draw on her. Some in total shock hearing that the woman so many of them knew, was in reality, the Angel of Death, a cold blooded killer, who only killed at night. Watching Anna stand in the street now, in broad daylight, and show everybody who she really was, a cold blooded killer shocked them.

Marcy stood just inside the barn doors watching Johnny refuse to draw on Anna. When the second bullet dropped him to the ground, she feared the worst until she see him stand back up, turn and face Anna. Helpless all she could do was watch, wait, and pray Johnny lived through this.

Frank and Walt had never in the short time they were around Johnny at Lancer, seen the Madrid side of him. Both men watched, each one scarcely breathing, neither one moving.

“ I want all of you to know the reason I’m doing this. That bastard murdered my older brother. He shot him down in cold blood. There was dispute between my father and a neighboring rancher, and Madrid hired out to the other man. He played me, Told me he loved me, and it was all to get to my family.” Anna told the towns people.

“ You can’t beat me Anna. It’s not to late to walk away and forget about this.” Johnny said. Pleading one last time.

“ You forget, my brother, even you taught me how to shoot, how to draw. All I did after you left, was keep practicing. Hell I even practiced right here, just outside of town. These people are so stupid, they didn’t even know who I really am, but they do now.”

Scott stepped over next to Jake and watched helplessly as a pool of blood started forming on the ground next to his brothers left foot.

“ He’s losing a lot of blood from that wound.” Scott whispered.

“ I know. His arm is bleeding pretty good too.” Jake whispered back.

Johnny could feel himself starting to get weak as the blood from his arm dripped off his fingers. The smell of copper strong as he swayed a little. When he seen the sign he was waiting for, Johnny drew his colt, squatted and fanned the hammer.

Anna seen Madrid sway, and went for her gun as a bullet slammed into her chest. Staggering, she brought her gun up level and pulled the hammer back.

“ Anna Don’t.” Johnny yelled as he fired again, knocking Anna to the ground. Hurrying to her side, he dropped to his knees and picked her up. “ Why, why’d you do it?” Johnny asked.

“ Ha….d to…..for….my………for my…..for James.” Anna said before she closed her eyes, and her body went limp.

Johnny stayed there holding Anna in his arms as people gathered around. His colt still in his hand, dropped to the ground.

“ Get back all of you.” Jake ordered. “ Get that doctor over here now.” he ordered. “ She’s gone Johnny. You need to let her go so we can get those wounds took care of. Scott, help me get him up.”

“ Don’t want to see him. Can’t right now.” Johnny said weakly.

“ Don’t worry amigo. He’ll stay away.” Jake said as he glanced hard at Murdoch coming their way.

Scott knelt down and helped Jake get his brother up. “ The doctor refused to remove his stitches earlier. I doubt he’s going to help him now.”

Marcy came running over to them. “ How bad is it?” she asked.

“ He’ll help him if he wants to keep breathing.” Jake said. “ Come on amigo. We got ya.”

“ Let me take him.” Murdoch ordered as he came over.

“ Leave him be. He doesn’t want to see you right now.”  Jake said firmly. “ He’ll be alright Marcy.”

“ Now see here. I’m his father.”

“ Are you, because he heard what you said, he told me he doesn’t want to see you, so stay the hell away from him.” Jake ordered as him and Scott helped Johnny into the doctors office.

“ If you think I’m going to help that man, your wrong.” Doc said.

“ You got two choices doc. Help my brother, or answer to us.” Scott said firmly as he adjusted his arm to hold Johnny up.

Jake pulled his pistol, and aimed it at the doctor, and cocked it. “ I suggest you make the smart decision.”

“ Fine. Take him into the next room.” Doc Williams said.

Scott, and Jake helped Johnny to the next room, and helped him up on the table.

“ Alright, you two, out.” Doc Williams ordered.

“ Sorry doc, but I’m staying. I’m not about to leave my brother with a man who refused to remove his stitches earlier when we were here.” Scott said.

“ I’m staying too. I’m not about to leave you alone with my friend. And doc, if he dies…….” Jake added.

“ If you’re going to stay. Make yourself useful and get his shirt off him.”

Murdoch stood outside the room his sons were in furious at the way Jake had talked to him. When he knew Johnny was going to be alright, he would be having a serious discussion with the man about his actions.

“ He’s……I can’t believe this happened.” Marcy said as she sat down.

“ Who was that woman?” Murdoch asked.

Marcy looked up at him with tears in her eyes. “ Her and Johnny were……….She was his first. That’s all I know.” Marcy said as she started to cry.

Murdoch sat down next to her, and put his right arm around her. “ He’ll be alright.” he said.

“ No he won’t.” Marcy replied.

“ His wounds are not that bad.” Murdoch said.

“ I’m not talking about his wounds Mister Lancer. I’m talking about Johnny. He was just forced to kill a woman he once loved. You really don’t know your son do you?” Marcy asked.

Murdoch looked at her. “ I’m afraid I haven’t been able to be around my son as much as you have.” Murdoch said. “ You and Scott seem to know him better than me.”

“ He was with you at Lancer wasn’t he, before he left with Jake?” she asked.

“ Yes. Johnny doesn’t talk about his past. I knew nothing about this woman or his involvement with her.”

“ None of us did until we came to Modesto, and he seen her.”

“ So he told you about his involvement with her?”

“ No, but he told Scott.”

Doc Williams came out of the exam room three hours later. “ I just finished removing the bullet from his side. He can’t ride for at least a week. The amount of blood he lost from both wounds, he’s weak.” Doc Williams said. “ The bullet missed the bone in his arm., but he won’t be able to use that arm for quit some time.”

“ I would like to see my son now doctor.”

“ Madrid is your son?” Doc Williams asked.

“ His name is Lancer, and yes he’s my son.”

“ Nope, Johnny said he doesn’t want to see you. So…….”

“ Look, I don’t know what’s going on between you two, but if he’s my patients father, he has every right to see him. Especially if he is under aged.”

“ I said no Doc. Johnny said he didn’t want to see his old man, so he’s not going in there.” Jake said firmly.

“ I don’t know who you think you are Jake, but I am going in there, and seeing my son.” Murdoch said with anger.

“Murdoch, I think you better wait sir.” Scott said. “ At least until things cool down. I’ll be with him.”

“ Mister Lancer, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that Johnny said he didn’t want to see you right now, and I intend on honoring that request.” Jake said.

“ Why?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Because he’s been hurt enough today, and I know what is coming.” Jake responded before turning around and going back into the room with his friend.

Murdoch glared at Jake. Deep down inside he admired the mans loyalty for his son.

“ Can I see Johnny?” Marcy asked.

“ He’s unconscious.” Scott said.

“ I know, but I need to see him.”

Jake was wiping sweat from Johnny’ forehead when Scott came into the room with Marcy.

“ This is going to be bad isn’t it Jake?” Marcy asked.

“ Doc said he needs plenty of rest, but he’ll be okay.” Jake responded.

“ I mean what he did. How it’s going to affect him.”

“ I don’t know. All we can do is be there for him.” Jake responded.

Johnny drifted in and out of consciousness for three days. Two days after he was shot, he was moved to the hotel, much to the dislike of the hotel clerk. Murdoch stayed away as much as possible, not wanting to get into another argument with Jake, or Scott. Being told his own son didn’t want to see him didn’t set well with Murdoch. Why kept running through his mind. Could he think his father was ashamed of him, or angry because he had witnessed him kill a woman? Granted seeing it was a shock to him, but he also seen Johnny give this woman, Anna ample opportunity to walk away. A shiver ran down Murdoch spine as he replayed seeing his son turn his back and try to walk away from a person with full intent on killing him. He thought for sure Johnny would turn and kill the woman when she shot him in the arm. Instead he continued to walk away, until she shot him a second time. Seeing his son fall to the ground, Murdoch would have sworn he stopped breathing until he seen Johnny move. When he stood up, turned and faced the woman, It wasn’t his son Johnny Lancer her was seeing, It was Johnny Madrid, and the look in his eyes was cold, and empty, like nothing he had ever seen before. The woman, Anna said he had murdered her brother. Shot him down in cold blood. Could his son do something as cold as a winters night? Had Johnny crossed the line and committed murder? None of the Pinkerton reports ever said he had committed murder. Killing another man in self defense is one thing, but killing another man without a reason, could Johnny have done just that?

“ Sir, are you alright?” Scott asked as he walked over to the table his father was sitting at drinking coffee.

“ I’m sorry, did you say something son?”

“ I asked if you were alright.” Scott responded.

“ I was just sitting here thinking about your brother, and everything that’s happened.” Murdoch responded.

“ I came over here to ask you if you have sent a wire to Teresa, letting her know we will be delayed?” Scott asked.

“ No I haven’t. I completely forgot son.” Murdoch said.

“ Would you like me to do it?” Scott asked.

“ No, I’ll go do it right now.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ How’s your brother doing?” he asked.

“ He was still asleep when I last seen him. Marcy and Jake are with him.” Scott responded.

“ I don’t know what to think of Johnny’ friend.”

“ Why, because he honored what Johnny requested?” Scott asked.

“ He refused to let me see my own son.”

“ At Johnny’ request. Murdoch, Jake is a good person. He’s been a good, dear friend to Johnny. The only real friend my brother has had. Jake would give his life to protect Johnny, as would I. We have only known Johnny a short time, he’s known him most of his life. Don’t you think he deserve some of that respect you so adamantly  demand Johnny gives to you?”

“ I see what you’re saying son, and I suppose you’re right. I better go send that wire so Aggie and Teresa know what’s happened.

“ There’s a rider coming.” Teresa said as she and Aggie sat on the front porch enjoying the early evening.

“ Mrs Conway, I have a telegram for you from Modesto.” Ben said as he stopped his horse and dismounted as Aggie and Teresa stood up, and walked down the steps to meet him.

Aggie took the wire from Ben. “ Thank you. Would you care for some fresh lemonade Ben?”

“ No thank you ma’am. I need to get on home.” Ben responded as he remounted his horse and rode away.

“ They should have been home two days ago. Something has happened.” Teresa said.

Aggie opened the wire and told Teresa what it said.

Trouble in Modesto. Stop.

 Johnny shot. Stop.

 Will be home when he can travel. Stop.


“Oh no.” Teresa said as she sat down.

“ I’m sure it’s not that bad. You know how Murdoch is. They probably just want to make sure Johnny is strong enough to ride.” Aggie said.

“ I had a feeling something had happened when they didn’t come home.” Teresa said.

“ Listen to me. Johnny will be fine. He’s a strong person.” Aggie told her.

“ I know. It’s just that……..I don’t understand why people want to try and kill him. Johnny is such a kind and gentle person.”

“ Yes he is. I remember the first time I seen him after he came back last year. I couldn’t believe he had grown up, and had to become a gunfighter just to survive.”

“ I’ve read stories about Johnny Madrid. Mr Baldanero sells them. What that person wrote about him in those dime novels is so wrong. He wrote Johnny as a cold blooded killer. He’s not anything like they say.”

“ Teresa, those dime novels are pure fiction. Made up stories to sell. People here in the San Joaquin valley, they know what’s in those books is not true about Johnny.” Aggie stated firmly.

“ Those men in Moro Coyo, want to kill him. It’s not fair. Johnny’ life has been so rough. He deserves to be happy. He deserves to not have to worry about someone coming here and trying to kill him.”

“ Yes he does Teresa, and I think he will get that chance too, but it may not happen right away. It will take time for people to forget Johnny Madrid. Someone faster will come along.” Aggie said.

“ But it’s those who think they are faster, that try to kill Johnny, because they can’t get the high paying jobs hiring their gun out as long as Johnny is alive. They want his reputation.” Teresa said.

“ Look, why don’t we go inside and start supper?” Aggie asked. She knew Teresa loved both Scott and Johnny dearly like brothers. Seeing her hurting over something she had no control over, even bothered her. Johnny’ life had been rough. She only hoped that now, after the men in Moro Coyo were gone, Johnny could relax and live the life he so deserves.

“ He’s holed up in Modesto.” Red said as he walked into the saloon, and over to the table Cherokee Bill, Sandy, and Tulsa Jack were sitting.

“ Who’s in Modesto?” Sandy asked.

“ Madrid. Seems he was called out, and shot, and get this, the one who called him out was that gunfighter we heard about, the one called the Angel of Death.” Red said.

“ So Madrid’ wounded huh. That means he’ll be real easy to kill.” Tulsa Jack said.

“ He killed the Angel of Death Tulsa Jack. Shot her down dead.” Red told him.

“ Her. You telling me Madrid was called out by a woman?” Sandy asked.

“ Not just any woman Sandy, the Angel of Death. Nobody knew until the other day who it was. It seems Madrid murdered her brother a few years ago during a range war between her father and another rancher. Shot him down right in front of her. She ws known to only kill at night.” Red explained.

“ And nobody knew it was a woman?” Sandy demanded.

“ Nope. Nobody could ever get a good look at her to tell. And get this Tulsa Jack, it seems Madrid refused to face her. He was shot twice before he finally did. He even turned his back on her and started to walk away when she shot him.”

“ You going to tell that greaser what  we know?” Cherokee Bill asked.

“ No. I don’t give a shit what that greaser knows. He isn’t running this show, I am.” Tulsa Jack said with firmness.

Johnny could feel someone watching him. Someone was in the room. Opening his eyes, he looked left, and found Jake sitting in a chair.

“ Bought time you opened those eyes.” Jake said as he sat up. “ Want some water?” he asked.

Yeah. As long as there’s no laudanum in it.” Johnny responded as he tried to sit up.

“ Here, let me help you buddy.” Jake said as he stood up, and reached behind Johnny, and helped him raise up, and scoot back against the pillows. “ That okay?”

“ Yeah. Thanks.” Johnny responded as Jake poured him a glass of water and handed it to him. Johnny welcomed the cool feeling on his parched, dry throat. “ How long?” he asked as he handed the glass back to Jake.

“ Since you were shot, four days.” Jake responded. “ You had me worried there for a while. You kept fading in and out. You ran a good fever for a day.”

“ Where’s Marcy, and Scott?”

“ Scott, I believe is downstairs talking to your father. Marcy is in another room getting some sleep. Between the three of us, you haven’t been left alone.”

“ He say anything?” Johnny asked as he pushed up with his arms to sit up better.

“ If you mean your old man. Nope. Scott lets him know how you’re doing, but I won’t let him see you. That really pissed him off. I think I can forget about courting Teresa.”

Johnny smiled. “ Think I could get something to eat?” Johnny asked.

“ As soon as Scott comes back, I’ll have him get you something.” Jake responded.

“ I have to get out of here Jake. I can’t stay in this town much longer. I can’t.”

“ I know. As soon as you’re able to ride, we’ll head to Lancer.” Jake said.

“ If Ramirez finds out I’m laid up, he’ll come here and a lot of innocent people will be killed because of me. I can’t risk that happening.”

“ We’re taking you back to Lancer. You can heal up there and nobody can get to you.” Jake said as the door opened and Scott walked in.

“ Hey brother. Good to see you awake and more alert.” Scott said.

“ He’s hungry. You think you could get him something?” Jake asked.

“ I’ll see if they have any broth.” Scott responded.

“ And some biscuits to crumble up in the broth.” Jake suggested.

“ Alright. I’ll be back with something to eat shortly.” Scott said as he headed to the door. “ Johnny, Murdoch would really like to see you. I keep telling him how you’re doing, but I think he needs to see for himself.”

“ It’s up to you amigo. I’ll be right here with you if you want to see him.” Jake said.

Johnny knew he needed to see his father, to look into his eyes and see if he now had disgust for what he witnessed.  “ I can’t Scott, not yet.” Johnny responded.

“ Johnny.” Jake said in a way, Johnny knew what was coming. “ I think you owe it to him to let him see for himself that you’re okay.”

“ Fine, but not alone.” Johnny said.

“ You won’t be alone brother. Me and Jake will be right here with you.” Scott said. “ I’ll get you something to eat, and have Murdoch come back with me.” Scott said before walking out and closing the door.

Jake sat back down in the chair next to the bed. “ Johnny, you know, your old man seeing what happened out there had to not be an easy thing to see. Try to give him the benefit of the doubt when he comes here.” Jake suggested.

“  I  have a man who rode all the way from Mexico to Moro Coyo, to kill me. Killing Anna, was just one more good reason for him to hate me.”  Johnny responded as he sat up and flipped the covers off him.

“ Whoa, were do you think you’re going?” Jake asked.

“ To take care of some business.” Johnny said as he brought his legs around so he could sit on the edge of the bed.

“ There’s a chamber pot under the bed. I’ll get it for you and step out so you can have some privacy.” Jake said as he reached under the bed and pulled the chamber pot out. “ I’ll just be outside if you need me.”

Scott came downstairs just as his father walked back into the hotel lobby. “ Johnny’ awake, and would like something to eat. Thought I would get him some broth and a couple biscuits.”

“ That sounds good. It will be easy on his stomach. How is he doing?” Murdoch asked.

“ Good. When I went back up after we spoke, he was sitting up in bed talking to Jake. I told him you would like to see him.”

“ Let me guess, he still doesn’t want to see me?”

“ On the contrary, Johnny said he would see, but not alone. You can go up with me when I take his food to him.” Scott responded.

“ Alright son.”

“ Sir, may I make a suggestion to you?” Scott asked. “ Watch your temper, and don’t say anything about what happened, unless Johnny brings it up. If he asks you a question, control your temper, and think about how you respond. Johnny is really vulnerable right now. He had to gun down a woman he once loved.”

“ I’ve been doing a lot of serious thinking about what I witnessed Scott, and in no way do I hold your brother responsible. I don’t know what happened when that woman’s brother was killed by Johnny, but I do know, he’s not a murderer. Murdoch said. “ I’ve been doing a lot of talking with Father Micheal, and he has been helping me see were I have went so wrong with Johnny.”

“ What about how you spoke out there, when Johnny was facing Anna?” Scott asked.

“ I will deal with that when the time is right with your brother. Hopefully Jake will allow me to have some time alone with him.”

“ Jake is a damn good man. He’s loyal, and would do anything to protect Johnny.”

“ Yes. I’m learning that. I may have misjudged him.” Murdoch responded.

“ Does this mean you’ve changed your mind about him courting Teresa?”

“ Lets take this one step at a time son. The only thing I care about right now is making things right with your brother.”

Johnny started to stand up, and sat right back down. Trying again, he stood up, and slowly started walking over to the chair just as Jake opened the door and came back into the room.

“ Here, let me help you.” Jake said as he went to Johnny’ side.

“ I can make it.” Johnny responded as he slowly walked over to the chair, turned around, and sat down.

“ Boy, you sure can be a stubborn sonofabitch sometimes.” Jake said. “ You know, there’s no shame in asking for a little help sometimes Johnny.”

“Shut up and give me my pants would ya?” Johnny said back.

“ Why? You ain’t going outside this room yet.”

“ Maybe because I don’t want the old man seeing me in my long johns. “ Johnny responded.

Jake walked over and grabbed Johnny’ pants, and came back over. “ You gonna let me help you?” Jake asked. “ Or do I get to watch you fall on your face trying to put these on?”

“ Shut up and help me stand back up.”

“ Let’s get your legs in these first. Then we just have to pull them up.” Jake suggested.

“ When was the last time the doc was here?” Johnny asked as he put his pants on.

“ Lets see. I do believe he was going to stop by and check on you today. He hasn’t been here yet though.” Jake answered as he helped Johnny stand up, and pull his pants up. “ Better?”

“ Yeah. Thanks.” Johnny responded as he sat back down.

“ You need some laudanum?” Jake asked.

“ No. Don’t like that stuff clouding my mind.” Johnny responded.

“ I hear ya there buddy, but you need something. I can tell you’re in pain.”

“ Maybe a shot of whiskey?” Johnny asked.

“ I don’t really think that’s such a good idea with your stomach empty.” Jake suggested.

“ Just give me the shot, or I’ll get up, and get it myself.” Johnny snapped back.

“ Drop the attitude Johnny. I’m not the enemy here.” Jake snapped right back as he went and grabbed the bottle of whiskey off the table, and poured a shot, and handed it to Johnny. “ You can sure try a mans patience at times.” Jake said as he set the bottle down.

“ Lo Siento amigo.” Johnny said before downing the shot.

“ Forget it. I guess you have a right to be cranky.” Jake said as the door opened, and Scott walked in carrying a tray of food, followed by Murdoch.

Johnny looked and let out a big sigh. “ Let er buck.” he said so only Jake could hear.

“ It’ll be alright.” Jake responded.

“ Should you be out of bed yet brother?” Scott asked as he set the tray down on the table. “ I don’t think the doctor wants you up yet.” he added.

“ Don’t care.” Johnny responded. “ Don’t care what others think.” he added as he glared at his father.

“ Hey.” Jake said with just enough emotion that told Johnny to be nice.

Murdoch walked over and sat down on the bed. “ How you feeling son?” he asked.

“ I’m fine.” Johnny responded.

“ Son, I didn’t come up here to fight with you.

“You get me something to eat Boston?” Johnny asked, ignoring his father.

“ Yes I did. They didn’t have any soup or broth, so I got you some stew and biscuits.” Scott responded. “  You want some help coming over to the table to eat?”  he asked.

“ I can make it.” Johnny said as he stood up, and started walking over to the table, Jake right by his side.

Murdoch couldn’t help but admire his sons stubbornness. Growing up alone, having no one to help him. Being proud, and independent. Something he was glad both his sons were. A knock at the door made all of them turn and look.

“ That would be either Marcy, or the doc coming to see you brother.” Scott said as he walked to the door, and opened it, finding Doc Williams standing there. “ Won’t you come in and join us Doctor. Johnny was just about to eat some stew.” Scott said

“ Doc Williams entered the room. “ I believe I said I wanted you staying in bed for at least a week young man.” Doc said as he walked over to Johnny.

“ Not one for laying around much Doc.” Johnny responded.

“ So I see. Well, let me take a look at that arm first.” Doc said.

“ I think you can leave it unwrapped now. It’s healing up good. Now can I take a look your other wound?” Doc asked.

Johnny put down his fork and stood up so the doctor could unwrap the wound.

“ Well it looks like it’s healing up good. Not as much redness now. Tell me when it hurts.” Doc asked as he started to gently feel around the wound.

Johnny hitched his breath when the doctor touched on the right side of the wound.

“ That hurt?” Doc asked.

“ A little.” Johnny responded.

“ Okay, you can sit back down now.” Doc said. “ You can move around, but only if someone is with you. I don’t want you falling and tearing that wound open. It’s healing up nicely, but still needs time.”

“ How long until he can ride Doc?” Jake asked.

“ Oh, I wouldn’t think about riding for at least another week. Like I said, the wound is healing up, but it wouldn’t take much to tear them stitches out, or get an infection in there.”

“ Not a good enough answer Doc.” Johnny said. “ I’m leaving here in a day or two, and that’s final.”

“ Well, I can’t stop you from leaving. You asked me, and I gave you my answer. You want to go out and do damage to that wound, that’s your business.” Doc said as he finished re-wrapping the wound.

“ Son, maybe you should wait until the doctor says it’s alright to ride?” Murdoch asked. “ I don’t think you should be getting on a horse just yet.”

“ Don’t care what you think old man. I’m riding out of here in two days, with or without you.”

“ Alright son. I’ll make sure we have plenty of bandages and anything else you might need for your wounds.”

“ Not riding back to Lancer with you. I’m riding back with Scott and Jake.” Johnny said as he finished eating the bowl of stew.

“ Well if you all will excuse me. I have other patients to see.” Doc Williams said as he walked to the door, opened it and left.

 Johnny finished his stew and stood up. “ You got something to say old man, say it.”

Scott and Jake both looked at Johnny.

“ I came here to see how you were doing Johnny. I didn’t come here to fight, and I sure as hell didn’t come here to be treated like this by you.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ You want to ride back with Jake and your brother that’s fine. I can see how my being concerned about your well-being is a waste of my time.”

“ Concerned about me? Hell old man, you weren’t to concerned that day Addison had me.” Johnny snapped back.

“ Johnny, that will be enough. Either you change the way you speak to your father, or I’m going to knock you on your ass, and you know I can do it. This being disrespectful to your old man ends right now or else. Now what’s it going to be?” Jake demanded.

“ Johnny, if you think I came here not caring about you, you’re wrong son. What happened before with Addison was a mistake. One I don’t intend on making again.” Murdoch stated. “ Also. If you think my watching what you did out there on that street makes me think anything bad about you, you’re wrong. You have no idea what it was like for me to watch you turn your back on that woman, knowing full well she could have shot and killed you.” Murdoch said with anger. “ I promised Scott I wouldn’t get upset when I came up here to see you, but since you want to be disrespectful to me like you are, I’m going to say this and then I will leave. Since you came back to Lancer, every time you were called out, a piece of me died. Every time because I thought it would be the last time I would see my long lost son. Whether you want to believe me or not, I love you, and I don’t want to lose you again. I can’t go through that again. The heartache and pain is too much to bare.” Murdoch stated firmly before heading to the door to leave.

“ Just a minute Mister Lancer. Johnny, I think you and your father need to have a talk in private.” Jake suggested.

“ No, that’s alright Jake. It’s clear my son has no wish to speak to me.” Murdoch cut in.

“ I have something to say.” Scott stated. “ Johnny, you said you would like nothing better than to give it up. To walk away from being Johnny Madrid, that you wanted to be Johnny Lancer, that you didn’t want to be the prodigal son any longer. I think you better make up your mind just who the hell you want to be brother, because quit frankly, I’m getting tired of the way you are disrespecting our father.”

Johnny looked at Scott, and then Jake. “ That how you see it too?” he asked.

“ You know I’m your friend Johnny. We’ve been through to much together, but yeah….it is. Buddy, you need to make up your mind which one you want to be more, Madrid or Lancer?” Jake said.

“ Leave us.” Johnny said as he walked over to the table and sat down. “ I want to talk to Murdoch alone.”

Scott and Jake walked over to the door. “ You gonna be alright?” Jake asked.

“ I’ll be fine.” Johnny responded.

Scott opened the door, and stepped out of the room followed by Jake.

Johnny sat at the table, his left arm in his lap. “ It’s not easy for me to talk about my past to anyone……especially you.”

Murdoch walked over and sat down across from Johnny, and put his hands on the table. He said nothing.

“ The woman you seen me kill, her name was Anna. I met her during a job I took. I hired out to the other rancher. We met in town one day, and she was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. I was fourteen, and had quit a reputation as the best. We would sneak away and see each other, because we knew that if her father found out………She was my first and I was hers. Her brother started teaching her how to shoot, so I thought I would also. I didn’t think anything of it at the time.” Johnny explained, never looking up at his father. “ Some how her brother  James found out we were seeing each other, and he threatened to kill me. Anna told me about it. Said he was going to hunt me down the next day. The rancher I was working for, decided to attack her fathers ranch the next day, and James came out of the house, seen me and took aim, Anna had just come out of the house with her parents when I shot him dead. The men who went with me killed her parents, not me. I rode back and told the rancher it was over, and went back to Anna. She met me on her porch with a double barreled shotgun and told me that she would kill me if she ever seen me again. I rode away and never seen her again until we came here.”

Murdoch looked at his son, tears welled up in his eyes as he sat there shocked at what he just heard. He understood now why Johnny didn’t want to kill her. Why he turned his back on her, something no gunfighter does, unless they want to die. What his youngest had just told him made him understand why he didn’t want to talk about his past, especially to him.

Johnny raised his head up, and sat back in his chair, looking at his father. He wasn’t prepared for what he seen. A single tear ran down his fathers cheek. No anger showed at all, just sadness.

“ Thank you son. I know telling me that wasn’t easy for you, but it helped me to understand better why you don’t want to tell me about your past. Johnny, after you left, I’ve been talking to Father Micheal a lot, and he has been helping me see the errors of my way, I guess you could say. He has pointed a lot of things out to me. Things I had right in front of me son, but didn’t see them because I was so damn mad that you had become  a gunfighter. I fully understand now that if you hadn’t picked up that gun, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you right now. I know that Johnny Madrid, and Johnny Lancer are both my son.” Murdoch explained.

“ Look, Murdoch, me and you are gonna butt heads……a lot. I was never good at taking orders from someone else. I can’t promise you it will e easy between us, all I ask is that you hear me out like you do Scott when he suggest something. When I come in late, instead of demanding to know why, ask me how the day went, don’t yell at me because I tell you I didn’t get a job done all the way. I’m not lazy, I’m not smart like Scott, and I’m no quitter either. You want me back and Lancer, and to stay, then you’re gonna have to accept the fact that men will come, and call me out. You can’t change that. You also can’t try to interfere like you did with Anna.” Johnny said.

“ You can’t blame a father for wanting to protect his son.” Murdoch said.

“ Look, I’m pretty tired. Maybe we could eat supper here tonight?” Johnny asked as he stood up, and grabbed the chair.

“ Let me help you to the bed son?” Murdoch said as he got up, and hurried around the table to help Johnny.

“ I can make it.” Johnny said.

“ I know you can, but could you just this once humor the old man?” Murdoch asked as he helped Johnny to the bed, and got his pants off, and under the covers.


Chapter 17

“ Where’s Johnny?” Scott asked as he led his horse out of the livery.

“ Him and Jake are in the cemetery son. He’ll be along in a bit.” Murdoch said.

Scott knew it would be hard for his brother to get over being forced into killing someone he once loved, but with his family and friends help, Scott felt his little brother would be alright.

“ Jake is quit a friend.” Scott said as he slipped his rifle into the scabbard.

“ Yes he is son. I think he’s the only one who could get away with threatening Johnny the way he did the other day in the room.” Murdoch  replied.

“ Jake threatened Johnny, and he’s still alive. Wow.” Frank said with a smile. “ That’s a pretty strong friendship.” he added.

“ Yes it is.” Murdoch answered.

“ Mister Lancer, I’m glad I caught you before you left.” Doc Williams said as he walked over. “ I put together some things for your sons wounds if he needs them. There’s a small bottle of laudanum, some salve and bandages. He can take a bath when he gets home. Just make sure he doesn’t slip and tear it open.” Doc said as he handed the burlap bag to Murdoch.

“ Thank you. I know how you feel about my son, but…………”

 Doc held up his hand to stop Murdoch from speaking.“ Mister Lancer, I’m not to old or proud to admit when I am wrong. I was wrong about your son. Anna was a good friend, but I never really knew her I guess you could say. Your son Johnny gave her every chance to walk away. It’s nobody’s fault but her own she’s dead.” Doc Williams said before walking away.

“ Frank, Walt, I want no mention of what happened here to any of the hands back at Lancer. Is that understood?” Murdoch asked.

“ You don’t need to worry about us Mister Lancer. Me an Walt like Johnny. It’s nobody’s business what happened here.” Frank said.

“ That’s right. If Johnny wants to tell them, then he can. We won’t say a word.” Walt added just as Jake and Johnny rode up.

“ Let’s go home.” Johnny said.

Murdoch, and Scott both smiled hearing Johnny say that. “ Let’s do.” Scott said as he mounted his horse.

“ Son.” Murdoch said as he got on his horse. “ Promise me you will tell us if you start hurting. There’s no rush getting back. Teresa knows we were delayed and I sent a wire this morning telling her and Aggie we are leaving today.”

“ You want a lot old man.” Johnny said with a smile before heading out. Seven riders rode out of Modesto going home.

“ That’s a fine looking horse you’re riding Marcy.” Murdoch said.

“ Thank you. Johnny bought her for me for Christmas. Her name is Arabella.” Marcy responded.

“ That was nice of him to do. An animal as fine as that probably cost quit a bit?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny paid a hundred dollars for her.” Marcy answered.

“ Arabella, that’s Latin and Italian I believe, isn’t it?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes it is. It means beautiful.” Marcy said as she patted the mares neck.

“ We have the finest Capanero De palominos in the San Joaquin valley running loose on Lancer.” Murdoch stated.

“ Johnny told me he had seen some beautiful palominos on your land.” Marcy responded.

“ Out by black mesa. We have more wild horses running loose on Lancer land than Johnny could break in a lifetime.” Murdoch responded.

“ His mustang is like none I had ever seen before. Johnny says he doesn’t own him. That they are just partners.” Marcy stated.

“ Yes. John, told me how he came to have the stallion. I offered to let him breed  him to some mares last year.”

“ Does that offer still stand Mister Lancer?”

“ Yes it does. Lancer is a working cattle ranch, but there is also a demand for horses from the army. I think if Johnny rounded up some of those mustangs and broke them, the army would give him good money for them.”

“ Tell me about Johnny’ mother.” Marcy asked.

“ Maria. I met Maria down in Matamoros. I was a lawman then, and was  down there looking for a man. When I seen her walk out of this little cantina, her beauty was like no other. Now mind you, I loved Scott’ mother Catherine very much, and still mourned losing her when Scott was born. It was a whirl wind courtship. We fell in love and got married two months after I met her. I brought her back to Lancer, where Johnny was born. I woke one morning to find Maria gone, and she took Johnny with her. Until last year, I never stopped looking for him.”

“ Johnny said you got her pregnant, and that was the reason you married her.” Marcy stated.

“ I would have married Maria even if she wasn’t with child. I don’t know why she told Johnny the lies she did about me, about us. All I can do is try and know my son now. I will never get back what Maria took from me. The years I lost watching Johnny grow up.” Murdoch explained.

Johnny rode alongside Jake, listening to what his father was telling Marcy.

“ You doing okay?” Jake asked.

Johnny looked t him. Sweat on his brow. I’m fine.”

“ You look like you could use a rest.” Jake responded. “ Mister Lancer.” Jake yelled.

“ I said I’m fine.” Johnny cut in.

“ We need to stop. Johnny needs a rest.” Jake said as he stopped his horse.

Murdoch and Marcy stopped their horses, and turned them around. “ Alright. We can make camp for the night over next to those trees.”

Ramirez watched as an older woman came out of the house with a younger one.

“ I shouldn’t be but a couple of hours.” Aggie said. “ You have a rifle, and there are a couple of hands working on the corral by the barn if you need anything.”

“ I’ll be fine.” Teresa responded. “ I was thinking that maybe we could have a celebration party for Scott and Johnny when they come home.” Teresa  suggested.

“ I think they might like that. I’m sure Murdoch wouldn’t mind.” Aggie said as she mounted her horse, and rode away.

Teresa went back inside the house, unaware of the two pairs of eyes watching her.

“ We should be home late morning tomorrow.” Murdoch said from across the fire as he watched his youngest.

Johnny looked over at his father. “ Should have kept going.”

“ You need the rest son. That bandage wasn’t changed all day.” Murdoch replied.

“ I could have made it. I’m not a little kid Murdoch. I’ve had worse and rode.” Johnny said.

“ I know you have son. A nights rest won’t hurt you.”

“ You’re only delaying the inevitable. Ramirez isn’t going to go away. He’ll stay there until I show up and face him.”

“ Johnny.” Jake cut in. “ You remember for gunfighters that always worked together out of San Diego?” Jake asked.

Johnny moved to sit up and lean back against his saddle. “ Yeah I remember. You think that’s who he got to come with him to Moro Coyo?”

“ Could be. You know if they’re the ones.”

“ Yeah, I know.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ My damn past again.”

“ Son, do you know who the four men are?”

“ Not for sure, but it could be Cherokee Bill, a two bit gunfighter. He’s mostly in it for the thrill and what ever money he can make. Sandy King, he’s just a kid, about twenty. Then there’s Red, he likes to shoot you from ambush. A lot of men have met their fate from a bullet in the back from him.” Johnny said.

“ And the fourth one Johnny?” Scott asked.

Johnny looked at Jake before walking off into the darkness.

“ The fourth man is called Tulsa Jack. He’s had it in for Johnny ever since they worked a job together. It seems him and Johnny had a dispute, and Tulsa fired Johnny. Well the rancher they were working for was losing a lot of cattle across the border. Tulsa couldn’t figure out where they went after they crossed. It was like they just vanished. Anyways, Johnny came into the ranch the next morning leading several horses with dead men across the saddles. The rancher was grateful Johnny found his stolen cattle and paid him what he said he would pay. That pissed Red off. About a week later, Red was shot in the back, and ever since he swears it was Johnny who did it even though nobody seen who it was.” Jake explained. “ See, I know Johnny didn’t do it because he was with me in Abilene.”

“ Jake, just how good is this Tulsa Jack?” Murdoch asked.

“ He’s good Mister Lancer. About as fast as Johnny is I’d say, If not as fast.” Jake responded.

Marcy got up and went to find Johnny. She found him were she knew he would be, grooming his stallion. “ You okay?” she asked.

“ You still want to marry me?” Johnny asked bluntly.

“ Yes. Nothing will ever change my mind about how much I love you Johnny.” Marcy responded as she walked over to him. “ I never thanked you for giving me time after………..”

“ What happened to you was my fault. The last thing you needed was me thinking about my needs.” Johnny said as he walked over to her.   “ I love you Marcy, and I want us to have a future together, but here lately it seems like everything is against me giving it up.”

“ Whatever happens, we will face it together.” Marcy said as she put her arms around his neck and kissed him.

Murdoch was worried about his son. “ I’m going to go check on Johnny.” he said.

“ He’s probably spoiling that damn stallion of his more.” Jake said.

Murdoch walked over to the picket line and found his son and Marcy together. Turning around, he walked back to camp, and sat down.

“ Everything alright sir?” Scott asked.

“ I think maybe he found Johnny and Marcy……….” Jake said with a smile.

“ Everything is fine son. Your brother and Marcy were talking.” Murdoch responded.

Scott looked at Jake and laughed.

“ Something funny?” Johnny asked as he walked back into camp with Marcy.

“ No son.” Murdoch said quickly.

“ You get embarrassed old man when you walked over to me?” Johnny asked as he sat down holding his left side.

“ How did you know I was there?” Murdoch asked.

“ You have heavy footsteps.” Johnny replied. “ I could here you walking a mile away.” he added.

“ Johnny, maybe you should teach your father how to walk quietly up on someone?” Jake suggested.

Aggie Conway walked into her house. “ Teresa, I’m back.” she said as she removed her gloves, and set them on the table by the front door. “ Teresa.” Aggie called again as she headed to the kitchen, finding it empty. The back door to the house was open. Walking over , Aggie stepped out on the back porch and looked around, not seeing Teresa anywhere, she turned and quickly went  back through the house, checking all the rooms, and calling for Teresa.

“ Oh dear god.” Aggie said as she headed out the front door and stopped on the porch. “ Teresa.” she yelled as two of her hands came out of the barn. “Have either of you seen Teresa?” she asked.

“ No ma’am. We’ve been working on the corral fence all afternoon. She’s not inside?”  Stan asked.

“ No. The back door was open.” Aggie said.

“ You want I should ride over to Lancer and let them know she’s missing ?” Joe asked.

“ Yes. Murdoch is supposed to back sometime tomorrow with Scott and Johnny. Tell Cipriano only what’s happened. It will be dark by the time you get there, so be careful, Murdoch left orders for a guard in the tower to fire a warning shot at anyone they don’t know. Make sure you yell out so they don’t shoot you.” Aggie instructed.

“ We didn’t hear anything boss. I just figured she was inside fixing supper or something. I should have checked on her ma’am. I’m sorry.” Stan said.

“ I never should have left her alone for that long. I didn’t think someone would come here and take her. How am I going to tell Murdoch?” Aggie said.

“ You think she was taken by those men in Moro Coyo, the ones wanting to kill Mister Lancer’ son?” Stan asked.

“ I don’t know. Most likely they took Teresa to use to get to Johnny, so they  can kill him.” Aggie responded as she turned to go back inside the house.

“ Ever since that boy first came back here, he’s caused nothing but trouble. Now an innocent girl might die because of him.” Stan stated.

Aggie spun around. “ Johnny is a good, decent person. He has every right to live in peace in this valley with his family. I don’t ever want to hear you talk about him like that again. Do I make myself clear Stan?”

“ Yes ma’am. It’s just that, there are four gunfighters in Moro Coyo and it’s because of him.” Stan replied.

“ There is so much you don’t know about those men, or the man who brought them here. I want four guards posted around the house.” Aggie ordered before turning and walking inside, closing the door.

“ You guys go on ahead. I want to show Marcy something.” Johnny said as the six of them approached Lancer.

They all knew what Johnny was going to show Marcy, a view like no other. A view of the most beautifulest place on earth.

“ Alright son. We’ll see you at the house.” Murdoch responded.

Jake didn’t like Johnny riding off alone with Marcy, with no one to watch his back.

“ Mister lancer, I’m gonna stick close to Johnny. Those men are out there somewhere, and I sure as hell don’t want them getting a chance at killing him.” Jake said as he stopped his horse.

“ Johnny will be fine up on the hill Jake. He will be able to see if anyone is around.” Murdoch responded.

“ A rifle can shoot a lot farther than a pistol.” Jake said before turning his horse and riding off toward the hill overlooking the valley below.

“ When it comes to keeping my little brother safe, I don’t think you will be able to stop Jake, sir.” Scott said as they rode into the Lancer yard and were greeted by Cipriano.

“ It is good that you are back, I am afraid I have bad news senor.” Cipriano said.

“ What’s wrong?” Murdoch asked as he dismounted.

“ The senora, Teresa, she has been taken.” Cipriano said.

“ Taken. Taken by who?” Scott demanded as he dismounted.

“ We do not know senor Scott. A hand from the Conway ranch rode here last night and said she was taken late yesterday afternoon. Senora Conway had to leave for a few hours and when she returned Teresa was gone. The back door was open is why none of the hands seen anything.”

“ Saddle some fresh horses.” Murdoch ordered.

“ Men have been out looking most of the night and all morning. They have found no tracks. “ Cipriano said.

“ Johnny and Jake can track them.” Scott said.

“ Your brother is in no shape to be riding anymore today.” Murdoch responded.

“ With all due respect sir, you underestimate my brother.”

Johnny stopped the stallion on top of the hill overlooking Lancer below. “ There it is, as far as the eyes can see, Lancer.” he said as he dismounted and seen they weren’t alone. He knew who it was, and smiled as he walked over and helped Marcy down.

“ Oh Johnny, it’s more beautiful than I imagined.” Marcy said.

“ One hundred thousand acres.” Johnny said  as he moved behind her and  wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on the top of her head. “ That’s the estancia down there. Some day I’d like to have more corrals and barns over there for horses.”

Marcy turned around and wrapped her arms around his neck. “ I love you.”

“ We’re not alone.” Johnny said before kissing her. “ Come on. I want to show you the house.” johnny said as he walked her to her horse.

Johnny knew something was wrong the minute he rode into the yard with Marcy. “ Cipriano, what’s wrong?”

“ You should talk to senor Murdoch, him and your brother are inside.” Cipriano responded.

“ Jake.” Johnny said as he started toward the front door.

Jake jumped off his horse and followed Johnny and Marcy inside.

Johnny walked into the grand room. “ What’s wrong?” he asked.

“ Someone took Teresa from the Conway ranch late yesterday afternoon.” Scott responded. “ Cipriano has had men out all night and this morning looking for tracks, but they’ve found none.”

“ Where you going old man?” Johnny asked.

“ To the Conway ranch and look for tracks.” Murdoch responded.

“ No you’re not. Me and Jake will. I want you to stay here and protect Marcy for me.” Johnny ordered.

“  Cipriano and some hands can watch her. I’m going over there.”

“ I said you’re not. Look, Jake and me are the best trackers you’ll ever find. Stay here. Scott, you come with us.”

“ Teresa is my responsibility.” Murdoch  said.

“ Look, we can stand here all day and argue about this, or you can do what I asked and let me and Jake handle this.” Johnny said.

“She’s out there somewhere with those four men who came here to kill you.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ No she’s not. I know those men. Tulsa Jack would never use a woman to get to me. Ramirez has her.” Johnny said before turning and walking out.

“ Jake, take care of him please.” Marcy pleaded.

“ I will.” Jake responded as he walked out the door.

“ We’ll bring her back sir.” Scott said before turning and walking out the door.

Marcy walked over to the door and watched Johnny, Scott and Jake ride out at full gallop. “ He’s not healed up.” she said as tears fell.

Murdoch walked over and put an arm around her shoulders. “ I’m sorry this happened Marcy. This isn’t the kind of welcome I wanted you to receive.”

“ Patron.” Maria said as she walked into the grand room.

“ Maria, this is Marcy. My future daughter-in-law. Johnny’ girl.” Murdoch said

“ My Juanito, he will find senora Teresa and bring her back safe.”

“ I hope so Maria. Could you show Marcy to a room so she can freshen up and maybe rest. I need to go speak with Cipriano.”

“ Si Patron.” Maria responded.

“ Maria is our cook. She can show you were everything is you’ll need. I’ll be down at the barn” Murdoch said before going out the veranda doors.

Maria showed Marcy to her room down the hall from the kitchen, next to Teresa’ room.

“ Is this Johnny’ room?” Marcy asked.

“ No, senor Johnny, he sleeps upstairs. Senor Lancer did not say for you to stay in his room. He would not permit that until you are married.” Maria said. “ Supper will be served at six.” Maria said before heading back to the kitchen.

Marcy thanked the woman and closed the bedroom door after she left. The bed was bigger than any bed she had seen before. A huge oak headboard beautifully carved graced the head of the bed with a smaller foot board carved the same at the foot of the bed. A big dresser stood next to the wall with a beautiful mirror with the same carving around it as the bed had. At the foot of the bed she found a huge trunk with extra blankets and a quilt. Setting her saddlebags on the bed, Marcy walked over and looked out the window. She could see the hill were Johnny had shown her the home she would share. Just below it stood a lone tree with a headstone next to it. She wondered if that is were Teresa’ father is buried. She had been told he was Murdoch’ foreman and good friend, killed by land pirates. Turning away from the window, Marcy walked over to the door and opened it. She could hear who she assumed was Maria, moving about in the kitchen. Walking down the hall, back to the grand room, Marcy looked around at the grandeur  of the room. The beautiful furniture, the wall full of books from floor to ceiling. The Lancer L above the huge fireplace. The furniture was beautiful. A huge leather chair sat behind a huge oak desk in front of a huge window. Beautiful red drapes pulled back to let the light into the room. Walking around the room, Marcy spotted a beautifully carved wooden ship sitting on a table behind the couch. Along the wall by the doors leading out to the veranda stood a huge grandfather clock. Next to it stood a sideboard with crystal glasses and just as beautiful decanters. Walking over to the desk, Marcy noticed two pictures, one was of a beautiful blonde woman, she assumed would be Scott’ mother. The other was a picture of a beautiful woman with dark hair.

Murdoch walked back into the grand room and found Marcy standing at his desk. “ That’s Johnny’ mother Maria.”

“ She’s beautiful. They both are.” Marcy responded. “ Your home is beautiful Mister Lancer.”

“ Thank you. It’s taken me thirty years to build Lancer up to what it is now. I have a Grey hair for every good blade of grass you see out there.”

“ I can’t imagine why his mother would take him away from all of this to live a life of uncertainty in Mexico.”

“ I’ve asked myself that for the past sixteen years. Drink?” Murdoch said and asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ Yes please. When Johnny described Lancer, I had no idea just how grand a place it would be. When I looked down from on top of that hill, and Johnny told me just how far it goes.”

“ Lancer is the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley. One hundred thousand acres, a thousand head of cattle and like I told you yesterday some of the finest Capanero De Palominos in the San Joaquin.”

“ I’m worried about Johnny. He isn’t healed up yet. He could tear his wound open.” Marcy said as she walked over and sat down on the couch.

Murdoch walked over and sat down next to her. “ Scott will make sure he stays safe. He won’t let anything happen to him. They will bring Teresa home.”

“ I know you haven’t had that much time with Johnny, but is he always so damn stubborn?” Marcy asked.

“ I’m afraid he is. When Johnny was a baby, me and Maria had a hard time keeping him corralled. Once he started walking, there was no stopping him.” Murdoch said with a laugh. “ That boy would be out that door so fast. It was an all day job just trying to keep up with him. I remember the first time I gave him a ride, that was it, there was no stopping him. We couldn’t keep him away from horses.”

“ He does have a way with them.” Marcy said.

“ Listen, I need to lay down some rules. Until you and Johnny are married, you will be sleeping in separate beds in separate rooms. I will not tolerate any sneaking around in this house. Now, I can’t do anything about you and Johnny having already……..I expect you to conduct yourself in a proper manner, especially around Teresa.”

“ I gathered we would be sleeping in separate rooms when Maria showed me my room downstairs and Johnny’ is upstairs.” Marcy responded. “ I have no problem following your wishes. It is your house Mister Lancer, but just so you know, outside this house what me and Johnny do is our own business.” Marcy said firmly.

“ Sonofabitch.” Johnny yelled. “ Not one damn track we can follow thanks to all the Conway hands horses.

“ They couldn’t have just disappeared Johnny.” Scott said.

“ Don’t you think I know that.” Johnny said with anger.

“ Take it easy brother. We’ll find her.”

“ I’m going to gut that sonofabitch. If he’s so much as touched Teresa, he’ll die a slow agonizing death.”

“ Look, it’s getting dark and there’s a storm coming in. We need to go back.” Scott said.

“ You go back.” Johnny said.

“ Johnny, he’s right. We can’t stay out here searching in a storm. We can start again after the storm.” Jake said. “ Hey, listen to me, I want to find her just as bad as you do, but you’re not going to be any help to her if you break your damn neck out here in the dark during a storm.”

“ It’s my fault she was taken.” Johnny said.

“ It’s not your fault Johnny. You didn’t make Ramirez come here to try and kill you. You didn’t make him kidnap Teresa. Stop blaming yourself for every damn thing that happens.” Jake snapped back.

“ It’s because of Madrid, why he’s here.”

“ Alright then.,why don’t you start acting like Madrid, and think about where he would go were nobody would see them.”

“ Let’s go back to Lancer and talk to Murdoch. He knows this land better than we do Johnny. We can look at the maps. Ramirez couldn’t have gotten that far with Teresa.  He might even be hold up on Lancer somewhere.” Scott suggested.

Murdoch sat at his desk going over the months expense ledger, while Marcy sat on the couch reading a book. Lightening flashed and lit up the grand room as the front door opened and Johnny, Scott and Jake walked in.

Murdoch stood up. “ You have any luck?”

“ No.” Johnny said as he walked over to the fireplace to warm up.

“ I’m afraid not Mister Lancer. Any tracks Ramirez left we couldn’t find. The hands from the Conway ranch pretty much ruined any signs around there.” Jake said.

“ This storm passes, I’m going back out.” Johnny said.

Marcy walked over to him. “ You okay?” she asked.

Johnny looked at her. “ Not exactly the welcome I had planned for you.”

“ It’s alright.” Marcy said as she put her arms around him, and gave him a gentle hug. “ Your home is so beautiful.”

“ John, you need to go upstairs and get out of those wet clothes and let me check that wound.” Murdoch cut in.

“ Marcy can do it.” Johnny responded.

“ Young man.”

“ It would seem, I am not to go upstairs to your bedroom until we are properly married.” Marcy said.

Johnny glared at his father. “ You call the tune huh, not this time.” Johnny said as he took Marcy’ hand and started toward the stairs.

“ John, I will not have the two of you upstairs together in your room until you are married.”

“ Let’s get something straight right now old man,  Marcy stays with me at night, in my room.”

“ Johnny, it’s alright. I can sleep down here. I don’t want to cause trouble between you and your father.

“ You’re not. No matter what I do, we’re going to disagree and he knows it.”

“ Johnny, It’s your first night home. Go upstairs and get out of those wet clothes and me or Scott will come check your wound.” Jake cut in as he walked over to Johnny. “ Now is not the time for this amigo.” he added.

Johnny looked at Jake, then back at his father before giving Marcy a kiss and grabbing his saddlebags, and heading upstairs.

“ He’s blaming himself for this I’m afraid.” Scott said as he walked over to the sideboard and poured two shots of whiskey.

“ Scott, you remember what Johnny did outside Bishop?” Jake asked.

Scott walked over and handed Jake one of the shots. “ I don’t think I will ever forget what I seen.” Scott replied.

“ I think if Johnny finds Ramirez, what he does will be much worse, and I don’t think anyone will be able to stop him.” Jake said.

Murdoch closed his eyes as he remembered what Scott told him happened. “ Marcy, would you mind going in the kitchen and warming up the stew while I talk to Scott and Jake?”

“ Of course.” Marcy responded before leaving the room.

Murdoch waited until he was sure Marcy was gone before turning to Jake. “ You know more about my son than I do. I’m going to ask you something, and I would appreciate an honest answer.”

Jake walked over to the fire to warm up. “ I know what you’re going to ask me Mister Lancer. You want to know just how deadly Johnny can be.” Jake replied. “ What you seen in Modesto, that was nothing, the same with you Scott. Every man has a dark side to them, it’s just that most keep it hidden. Johnny does, but when his dark side is forced out, he’s deadlier than a pit full of rattlesnakes. When he uses his knife especially. He’s fast, and he’s damn accurate with that sticker he carries inside his right boot. Mister Lancer, those Pinkerton reports you have on Johnny, they don’t tell you anything really about your son. Johnny has had things done to him that would make you sick. He’s been hurt in more ways than you could ever imagine. He has more scars on the inside than those on the outside. Scott, you spent a year in Andersonville prison right?”

“ Yes. A year I would care to forget about.” Scott replied.

“ A Mexican prison is much worse. He didn’t tell you everything Ramirez did to him while he was in there. Sometimes Johnny’ ghost drive him to a point were he wants to end it all. That’s why he turned his back on Anna in Modesto. He was ready to die.”

“  But he faced Anna, and killed her.” Scott said.

“ Yes he did, but she killed him too. Every time Johnny is called out, and kills someone, a small part of him dies inside. Scott, you seen and heard him at night. The nightmares he has. Hell Marcy even heard them in Abilene.”

“ So what do you suggest we do?” Murdoch asked.

“ Stay the hell out of his way, because if the dark side of Madrid surfaces, the only way anyone can stop him is to kill him.” Jake replied. “ Now if you will excuse me, I think I will go see how he’s doing.”

“ You can stay in the room across from Johnny’.” Murdoch said.

“ Thank you sir. I’ll have Johnny come down and eat something when we’re done.” Jake said before heading upstairs.

“ Something tells me that man can be just as deadly as your brother.” Murdoch said as he walked over and poured a shot of scotch.

“ Does that bother you, That Johnny could be that dangerous?”

“ I really don’t know son. Being a gunfighter is one thing.” Murdoch responded.

“ He’s still your son, and my brother. Nothing Johnny does can ever change that.”

“ Don’t you think I know that. You think I like what my son could become, has become. He should have grown up here…..at Lancer, not down there damn it.” Murdoch said just as Marcy walked into the room.

“ I’m sorry to interrupt you, but the stew  is ready.”

“ Thank you Marcy, we’ll be in in a minute.” Murdoch said.

Marcy turned and walked back into the kitchen.

“ That innocent young lady has no idea what she is getting into marrying your brother.”

“ I wouldn’t be so sure about that sir. She has more than once proved how much she loves Johnny. She doesn’t back down from him. Believe me I know because me and Jake have witnessed it. Marcy is just what Johnny needs in his life.”

“ She is very headstrong.” Murdoch added with a smile. “ Let’s go eat some stew.”

Jake didn’t bother knocking on Johnny’ door. Opening it, he found Johnny standing in front of his window wearing dry pants but no shirt.

“ Lets take a look at that wound.” Jake said as he walked over to him.

“ Were is she Jake?” Johnny asked softly.

“ We’ll find her and send Ramirez straight to hell buddy.”

“ I knew he was in Moro Coyo, but I never thought he would do something like this.” Johnny said as he walked over to his bed and sat down. His bandage already removed.

“ Lay back and on your right side so I can get a good look at that wound.” Jake ordered.

“ It’s never easy is it. Men like us Johnny, we always have to look over our back because of what we became.” Jake said as he started feeling around the wound. “ That salve in your saddlebags?”

“ Yeah. You got out of the game by becoming a Marshal.”

Jake walked over and removed the salve from Johnny’ saddlebags, walking back over to put some on the wound. “ This looks good Johnny. .” Jake said as he dabbed some salve on the wound. “ You know, we have another problem.” Jake said as he finished up and put the lid back on the salve. “ We find Ramirez, what you going to do about Scott? I don’t think you want him to see the dark side of Madrid do you?” Jake asked as he put the salve back in the saddlebags.

“ Teresa means just as much to him too Jake. I don’t think we’ll be able to keep him from going with us.” Johnny said as he stood up and picked up his olive green shirt and put it on.

“ Marcy would like you to come downstairs and eat something.” Jake said. “ Oh, one more thing Johnny. Since this is your fathers house, I think you might want to rethink disrespecting him in it. Regardless of what’s happened between the two of you in the past. You came back here to start your life over, start acting like it. Once we get Teresa back, and we will get her back, you disrespect your father like you have been, and you’ll answer to me. Clear?” Jake ordered.

“ Anyone else talks to me like you do, and they would be swallowing their teeth.” Johnny said as he walked up to Jake. “ Any time you think you can I’m ready.” Johnny said before turning and heading downstairs.

Jake stood there staring at the open door. “ Never show all your cards boy. Guess you forgot that lesson.” he said before walking out of the room.


Chapter 18

Teresa was cold, and hungry. Laying on the cold damp ground of what she could only assume was a cave hearing Spanish being spoke somewhere close. Did she dare move, or continue to lay still. Her arms hurt from  being tied behind her back. When the man entered the kitchen through the back door, she had just walked out of the pantry to start supper when the sound of a gun being cocked froze her in her tracks. She knew from the Spanish accent that this was Ramirez, the man who wanted to kill Johnny.

“ Cuando pase la tormenta, irás a Lancer y enviarás un mensaje. Díganles que Madrid va a venir sola o que mataré a la niña. Dígales que están siend vigilados y que no intenten nada. Madrid sola, la niña sale libre. ( When the storm passes, you will ride to Lancer and deliver a message. Tell them that Madrid is to come alone, or I will kill the girl. Tell them they are being watched and to try nothing. Madrid comes alone, the girl goes free.)

“ Pero ¿ y si no me dejan irme? ¿Y si intentan obligarme a traerlosaquí? ( But what if they don’t let me leave? What if they try to force me to bring them here?)

“ Si los dejas, te mataré yo mismo. No arriesgarán, la vida de las chicas. Madrid vendrá sola. ( If you let them, I will kill you myself. They will not risk the girls life. Madrid will come alone.)

Ramirez walked over to Teresa, and nudged her with his boot. Getting no response he kicked her in the side. “ Wake up.” he ordered.

Teresa heard the footsteps coming closer, feeling the boot touch her, she froze in fear. When she was kicked, she cried out in pain as she tried to roll away from him.

Ramirez reached down and grabbed Teresa by her arm and jerked her up off the ground. “ I’m going to untie you. You can go to the back of the cave and do what you need to do. When you come back, you will cook the rabbits I have caught.” Ramirez ordered. “ And don’t think about trying to escape. There is no way out back there. No go.” Ramirez said as he shoved Teresa.

Johnny woke the next morning and got out of bed, he walked over to the dresser, and looked in the mirror. The wound looked better than it did a week ago. Deciding not to wrap it, Johnny went back to his bed and got dressed. He was just putting his boots on when his door opened and Scott walked in.

“ Jake said your wound was looking good. Want me to wrap it before we head downstairs?” Scott asked.

“ Nope. It’s fine. I already took care of it.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ Let’s go.”

Scott knew something wasn’t right, his gut instinct was telling him his brother was gone. That until this mess was over, they would be dealing with Johnny Madrid and not Johnny Lancer.

Johnny walked down the back stairs into the kitchen and found Jake,and Murdoch talking. Maria was at the stove cooking breakfast. Walking over, he put his arms around her, and gave her a hug as he kissed her cheek.

“ Oh Juanito, es bueno tenerte en casa otra vez. Estás para adelgazar. Siéntate, te alimentaré.” 9 Oh Juanito, it is good to have you home again. You are to thin. Sit down and I will feed you.) Maria said.

“ Eso es porque nadie puede cocinar como tú.” ( That’s because nobody can cook like you.) Johnny responded as he went over and sat down next to Marcy, and gave her a kiss.

Marcy sat at the table watching Johnny with the older Mexican woman. Murdoch had told her how Maria helped to deliver Johnny and was like he own son. How when Maria took Johnny away, it had broke her heart.

“ Ella va a ser tu esposa?”  ( She is going to be your wife?) Maria asked as she brought a plate of bacon over and set it down on the table.

“ Si, ella no sabe nada mejor.” ( Yeah, she don’t know no better.) Johnny said with a smile.

Johnny, I think it’s pretty rude of you and Maria to have a conversation in Spanish when not everyone here can understand what you’re saying.” Murdoch interjected.

“ Lo siento, sorry. I guess I forgot Marcy doesn’t understand Spanish.” Johnny responded then told Marcy what was said between them.

“ After breakfast sir. I was thinking we could pull out the maps of Lancer, and see if we can figure out where Ramirez might have taken Teresa?” Scott suggested as he sat down next to Jake.

“ I already have them out in the other room on the big table. Me and Jake have been looking at them already son.” Murdoch said as he picked up his cup of coffee. “ Are you alright Johnny? You look a little pale son.”

“ I’m fine.” Johnny responded as he grabbed some bacon and a biscuit as Maria brought over a platter full of scrambled eggs.

“ Maria, these biscuits are very good. Perhaps you could teach me how to make them for Johnny?”

“ Maria don’t like teaching people how to cook. She won’t give up her recipes.” Johnny said.

“ I will teach your woman when I can. I want my Juanito fed well.” Maria responded as he brought the coffee pot over and filled everyone’s cup.

Thirty minutes later Scott, Jake, Johnny, and Murdoch were in the grand room studying the maps of Lancer.

“ You know, there’s cave big enough he could hide in located in both South Mesa and up in that north section.” Murdoch said.

“ The north section is to far from the Conway ranch. He’s be risking being seen by  hand up there. South Mesa , he wouldn’t be able to get in and out of without leaving tracks. Besides it floods when we get downpours like last night.” Murdoch said.

“ There’s caves around Black Mesa.” Scott added. “ I came across a couple of them last year looking for strays.”

“  What about up around Bone Mountain?” Johnny asked.

“ Could be. It does border Lancer, and it’s also close to the Conway ranch.” Murdoch responded. “ I’ll send some men to check out Black Mesa and South Mesa. You three go check out Bone Mountain.”

“ Not Scott.” Johnny cut in.

“ Now wait a minute, I have just as much at stake in this Johnny. Teresa is my sister too.” Scott snapped back.

“ I said you’re not going. Me and Jake will check out Bone Mountain.” Johnny said.

“ Johnny, I think Scott should go with you.” Murdoch suggested.

“ You’re not calling the tune on this one old man. This is my show. I say who does what, and I say Scott’ not going with us.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Little brother………..You’re going to need all the help you can get if you’re going to get Teresa back alive.”

“ I’ll get her back alive with bait.” Johnny responded.

“ Bait……..What bait?” Scott asked.

“ What else……..Me.” Johnny said as he turned to walk away from the table. “ Jake, you ready to go?”

Jake looked at Scott, then Murdoch, “ You know I am.” Jake responded.

Johnny walked over to the gun cabinet and removed to rifles and a couple boxes of ammunition. “ Scott, go back to the Conway ranch and ride a two mile perimeter around the house and see if you can pick up any tracks we could have missed. Take Cipriano with you.” Johnny ordered as he handed Jake a rifle and box  of shells. “ Ramirez is no fool. He’ll kill you, so stay alert brother. Jake, lets go.” Johnny said as he headed to the door.

“ Son, be careful.” Murdoch said to Johnny as he walked out the door.

“ Ride to Lancer and do what I asked.” Ramirez ordered his nephew. “ Do not tell them about where we are taking Madrid once we have that filthy swine.”

“ Si. I will tell them only what you said.” Ramon said as he mounted his horse. “ I think it is a mistake letting her go once we have Madrid.”

“ You just let me do the thinking nephew. She is of no use to us. It is Madrid we want. Now go.” Ramirez ordered before turning and walking back into the cave.

“ Johnny will kill you.” Teresa said as Ramirez walked back inside the cave.

“ Shut up and clean this mess up.” Ramirez ordered as he kicked at the dirty dishes next to the fire. “ You spout off like that again and I will hit you harder.” he spat.

Johnny told Frank and Walt to take some men and check out  Black Mesa and South Mesa while he and Jake rode to Bone Mountain to check. Walking to his horse he stopped when he heard a rider approaching. Murdoch and Scott had walked outside.

“ Do you know him?” Jake asked.

“ Yeah, I know him…… It’s Ramon.” Johnny said.

“ Ramirez nephew?” Jake asked.

Ramon rode into the Lancer yard and stopped his horse. He had never seen Johnny Madrid, so he spoke directly to Murdoch.

“ I bring you a message. You are to have Johnny Madrid meet my uncle, he is to come alone or we will kill the girl.” Ramon said.

Murdoch’ anger started to boil as he walked over to the boy. “ Where is she?” he demanded.

“ If Madrid comes alone, she will be released unharmed. If Madrid does not come alone, my uncle will kill her and send her body back to you.”

Scott walked over and yanked the boy off his horse. “ You little bastard….where’s Teresa?”

“ Scott…..let him go.” Johnny ordered. “ Where’s Madrid supposed to meet Ramirez at?” Johnny asked.

“ Is Madrid here?” Ramon asked.

Johnny smiled. “ Yeah…..he’s here.” Johnny said s he walked up to the boy. “ He’s here, and he’s about to take your head off if you don’t tell him where Teresa is at.”

“ You are Madrid?” Ramon asked.

“ Guess you should know what the person looks like you’re hunting boy before you go making demands.”

Ramon spit in Johnny’ face. “ Usted sonofabitch. Eso es por asesinar a mi padre.” ( You sonofabitch. That’s for murdering my father.)

Johnny grabbed the kid and hit him hard in the mouth, knocking him to the ground. “ Where is she?” Johnny demanded as he pulled his colt out and cocked it. “ I’m not going to ask you again.” he said as he fired a shot, hitting right next to Ramon’ left leg. “ The next one will be in that leg, so I suggest you start talking.” Johnny ordered.

Murdoch and Scott stood shocked at what they were seeing. No longer was Johnny Lancer standing there with them, Now it was Madrid, and the only person who could tell them were Teresa was, was staring at the business end of his colt.

“ There’s a big oak tree just off the road to Spanish Wells, where it forks. You will find instructions there on where to go located in a hole about ten feet off the ground..” Ramon said as he stood up and walked to his horse. “ You will be watched so come alone.” Ramon ordered as he mounted up. “ My uncle is going to make you pay for killing my father, you filthy mestizo bastard.”

Johnny walked over to Ramon. “ You tell your uncle, I’ll come alone. You tell him that hell is coming for him.” Johnny said with coldness before turning and going inside the house, and upstairs to his room.

“ We can’t let him go alone. Ramirez will kill him.” Scott said as Johnny came back out of the house.

“ You’re not going alone Johnny.” Scott said.

“ You heard what he said. I’m to come alone.” Johnny responded.

“ Yeah I heard, and I know that that man will kill you. You have no guarantee he will let Teresa go once he has you.”

“ I’m going alone so don’t try and stop me.” Johnny said as he went to his horse.

“ Did you deliver the message?” Ramirez asked as he walked out of the cave.

“ Si, I delivered it. I delivered it to Madrid himself.”

Ramirez turned his nephew around and seen the bruise. “ He do that to you?”

“ Si, this gringo man grabbed me and pulled me off my horse. Madrid, he hit me and then shot at me while I was on the ground.” Ramon said. “ He said he would come alone, and he told me to tell you that hell is coming for you.”

Ramirez laughed. “ Hell is coming for me huh. It’ll be Madrid who goes to hell.” Ramirez spat.

“ Uncle, he’s good……..real fast. Maybe we should just let the girl go and forget this?” Ramon asked.

Ramirez stepped over to his nephew and grabbed him by his shirt. “ That swine murdered my brother…..your father.  I don’t care how good he is. I’m going to kill him.”

“ But it is only us. He  has went up against more men than two and is still alive.” Ramon replied. “ Those men are not here. How do we kill him with just the two of us?”

“ He will ride in here, and not do anything as long as we have the girl. Once we have him unarmed………the girl will be let go, and I can start having my fun. I’m going to make him hurt so bad, he will beg me to kill him.” Ramirez said with anger as he walked over and picked up the whip he carried with him. “ He will feel my hate with every strike. His blood will spill onto the ground as he begs me to end his suffering, and he will suffer.” Ramirez said with evil in his eyes.

“ The greaser kidnapped a girl from some ranch.” Sandy said as he walked into the cantina, and up to the table Tulsa Jack sat at.

“ It seems Madrid is real fond of this girl. She’s like a sister to him.” Red added.

“ He’s going to use her as bait to bring Madrid to him. His nephew rode out to Lancer after the storm and told them.” Sandy stated.

“ Was Madrid there?” Tulsa Jack asked.

“ Oh yeah. He was there. Damn near killed the kid. I seen the kid ride away.” Sandy responded.

“ You know where the greaser has the girl at?” Red asked.

“ I followed the nephew to a cave up in Cedar Canyon. It’s about ten miles from the Lancer spread. There’s a lot of places he could hide and not be seen.” Sandy replied. “ The kid wasn’t too good at covering his back trail. I followed him so far in before I turned around and left. I didn’t want him knowing I was following.” he added.

“ Any chance we could get close to where they’re holed up?” Tulsa Jack asked.

“Not a chance Tulsa. There’s only one  way in and one way out of there.”

“ We could keep an eye on the doc. If he leaves in a hurry we’ll know Madrid is still alive.” Red suggested.

“ Cherokee Bill, you and Sandy go keep an eye on that doctor. If he leaves town and heads toward Lancer, I want to know.” Tulsa Jack ordered.

Jake stood listening to what Johnny said. “ Johnny, I can’t let you do this alone. He’ll shoot you down in cold blood.”

Johnny turned to face Jake. “ You going soft on me?”

“ No. I’m being practical. Think about it Johnny. The man wants you dead. The minute you ride into wherever he has Teresa held, he will gun you down.” Jake responded.

Johnny started to put his foot in the stirrup when he was grabbed from behind and spun around.

“ Johnny don’t…….” Jake started before he was hit in the mouth.

Murdoch went to Jake and helped him up. “ You alright?” he asked. “ Johnny, have you gone mad son………listen to what he’s saying.” Murdoch pleaded.

“ Amigo, you’ve had this coming for some time now.” Jake said as he lunged at Johnny, hitting him in the chest with his body knocking him back into the stallion. “ I’m not going to let you go off and get yourself killed.” Jake said right before he hit Johnny in the face.

Johnny swung and hit Jake in the gut causing him to loosen his grip just enough he could push him away. “ Go to hell.” Johnny said as he turned and grabbed the stallions reins and started to mount up.

“ Johnny.” Jake yelled.

Johnny spun around and went for his colt at the same time Jake drew his.

“ Don’t.” Jake said as he cocked his colt. “ We’ve been friends a long time. Don’t let it end like this.” Jake pleaded.

Murdoch and Scott stood silent, shocked that Jake had beaten Johnny to the draw. They both knew someone could come along and be faster than Johnny someday, but to see his own friend be the one to do it they never thought would happen.

“ Listen to him brother.” Scott pleaded.

“ Son please.” Murdoch begged.

“ You haven’t been yourself ever since what happened in Abilene. The Johnny Madrid I know would have never turned his back on someone who called him out like you did in Modesto. Regardless of who it was.” Jake said. “ The Johnny Madrid I know wouldn’t want to go off half cocked into a battle. The Johnny Madrid I know wouldn’t forget the most valuable lesson of all.” Jake said as he slowly holstered his gun and walked over to Johnny. “ Never show all your cards. Especially when you’re holding the winning hand.”

Johnny lowered his colt and just stood there staring at Jake. He couldn’t believe his own friend, someone he thought of as a brother would be the one to beat him to the draw. Turning around, Johnny walked into the house and went upstairs to his room, slamming the door behind him.

“ I’m sorry Mister Lancer, Scott, but he needed to be taken down a notch.” Jake said.

“ You beat my son to the draw. How long have you known you could beat him?” Murdoch asked.

“ To be honest, I didn’t until just then. I think I was lucky. Johnny’ not been himself lately as I said. I wouldn’t want to do that again. I don’t think I would have beat him.” Jake replied. “ If you two will excuse me. This isn’t over yet.” Jake said as he headed toward the house, stopping and turning back to them. “ Don’t worry. I won’t kill him. Beat his ass maybe, but I would never kill him.”

Johnny stood staring out his window when he heard his door open. “ How long?” he asked, never turning around. “ How long have you been that fast?”

“ A long time. Like you, I keep up with practicing.” Jake responded as he walked into the room. “  I got lucky was all Johnny. You’re all mixed up inside. I never would have cleared leather if you had been a hundred percent. Look, let me and Scott go with you. Once we know where he has Teresa, we can split up and you can ride in there to get Teresa away.”

Johnny turned and faced Jake. “ Teresa is the only reason I didn’t kill you out there Jake. You ever draw on me again, you better be ready to shoot.” Johnny said as he started toward the door.

“ Then don’t put me in that position again buddy.” Jake responded as Johnny walked past him and out the door.

“ Do you think we can trust him?” Scott asked as Johnny came back out of the house.

“ I trust him with my life Scott. Mount up.” Johnny ordered as he went to the stallion and mounted up and rode out of the yard.

Jake came out right behind Johnny, and mounted up. “ Mister Lancer, I’ll make sure all three of them make it back alive.” he said before kicking his horse and taking off after Johnny.

“ Be careful son. Please, take care of Johnny.” Murdoch said as Scott swung up in the saddle.

“ I will sir.” Scott responded before taking off to catch up with Jake and Johnny.

Johnny rode up to the tree and stopped the stallion. Kicking his feet out of the stirrups he stood up on the horses back so he could pull the paper out of the hole. Sitting back down in the saddle, he opened the paper.

“ What’s it say?” Scott asked as he and Jake rode up.

Johnny handed the paper to Scott before dismounting and checking his cinch.

“ Cedar Canyon…….That’s ten miles from Lancer.” Scott stated. “ There’s plenty of places to ambush someone riding in there.”

Johnny got back on the stallion. “ There’s only one place he can have Teresa though Scott.” Johnny said as he turned the stallion around to face them. “ Remember when we had to look for strays up there, remember we found that big cave?”

“  I remember. You think that’s were they have Teresa?”

“ A person could hide up there for years and not be found.” Johnny responded.

“ This cave, is it hard to get near?” Jake asked.

“ On horseback there’s only one way to it, but a man on foot, now he could come right up on that cave if’n he was real quiet and get the drop on them.” Johnny replied.

“ Then let’s get going.” Scott said.

Three hours later, after hard riding Johnny stopped his horse. “ Follow this game trail and you will come to a big wash There  might be water in it still from the storm, follow that south as far as you can on horse and then you’ll have to go the rest of the  way on foot Jake.” Johnny said.

“ Alright.” Jake responded.

Johnny and Scott went on into the Cedar Canyon at least a half mile before Johnny stopped.

“ I have a bad feeling about this brother.”

“ Scott, I want you to promise me you will get Teresa out of here. Promise me that brother.”

“ Only if you promise not to get killed brother.” Scott responded.

“ Won’t happen. Getting killed isn’t part of my plans. I’ll see ya Boston.” Johnny said before riding on up the ravine, every sense on high alert. His mouth so dry all he tasted was dirt. Seeing the cave entrance ahead, Johnny stopped the stallion and silently prayed Jake would make it in time. That the storm didn’t block the wash so bad he couldn’t get through. Moving the stallion until the sun was directly behind him, Johnny called out.


Ramirez stood up and walked toward the front of the cave, unable to see his adversary, Ramirez called out.


“ NOT UNTIL I SEE THE GIRL FIRST.” Johnny ordered.

“ Bring her to me.” he ordered Ramon.

Ramon went over and jerked Teresa up and shoved her toward his uncle.

Ramirez grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head back. “ Walk out there until I say stop.”

Teresa, on shaky legs started walking out of the cave, shielding her eyes from the setting sun, trying to see Johnny. She knew he would have the sun behind him for protection. Spotting him, it took everything she had to not run to him.


Johnny dismounted and stepped to his left so Ramirez could see him better.  “ LET HER GO. IT’S ME YOU WANTED. SHE’S NOT A PART OF THIS.”


Johnny started slowly walking closer to Teresa as his eyes scanned the hill behind Ramirez for any sign of Jake. When he was about ten feet from her he stopped. “ I want you to get on this horse and ride out of here. I don’t want you stopping or looking back. Understand?” Johnny ordered.

Teresa nodded her head as she walked over to him.

Johnny hugged her back, then pushed her away. “ Get on this horse and don’t stop until you see Scott.” Johnny said as he untied her wrist. “ He’s waiting at the entrance and will take you home.” Johnny said as he helped Teresa onto the stallion. Looking up, he seen the dark bruise on the left side of her face, and bruises on her arms. “ Go.” Johnny ordered as he slapped the stallion on the butt, causing the animal to bolt. Turning to face Ramirez, Johnny knew his time was short. All he could do was stall the man long enough for Jake to get into position above the cave.

Ramon walked up to Johnny and hit him as hard as he could in the gut“ That’s for murdering my father you bastard.” Ramon spat as he swung and hit Johnny again, knocking him to the ground.

“ Give me that and go get some rope to tie him up. NOW.” Ramirez ordered.

Ramon walked closer to Johnny and kicked him hard in his left side causing him to curl up. When Ramirez grabbed Ramon and turned his back on him, Johnny, pushing the pain aside, reached inside his right boot and pulled out the knife and brought it back against him so Ramirez wouldn’t see it.

“ Go do as you’re told now.” Ramirez ordered as he shoved Ramon toward the cave.

Scott heard a horse coming toward him and seen it was Teresa, stepping out from where he had been waiting “ Teresa.” he called out.

Teresa stopped the stallion. “ Scott.” she said as she got down from the horse and ran to him.

Scott wrapped his arms around Teresa and held her tight. “ It’s alright. You’re safe now.”

“ Oh Scott, you have to help Johnny.” Teresa sobbed.

“ I will, but I need to make sure you are safe first.” Scott replied.

“ I’m going back there with you. Johnny will need me.” Teresa replied

Jake found the wash Johnny told him about and followed it for almost a mile when he heard a shot sound real close to him. Jumping off his horse, Jake climbed up and cautiously walked toward the edge, crouching down so he wouldn’t be seen he got as close as he could before laying down and crawling on his belly the rest of the way. Looking over the edge he seen Johnny on the ground curled up. Seeing Ramirez walk over to Johnny, Jake brought his rifle up and took aim just as Ramon came into view below him. Little rocks cascaded down the side, causing Ramon to turn around.

“ UNCLE……”  Ramon yells as a bullet slams into his chest, knocking him backwards.

Johnny lay motionless as Ramirez walked closer. He needed him as close as possible for the knife to do any good.

“ Get up swine.” Ramirez ordered. Getting no response, he brought his left leg back to kick Johnny when a shot rang out. Spinning around Ramirez watched as his nephew fell backwards to the ground dead. A red stain spreading across his chest.

Johnny knew it was now or never. Springing up, he grabbed Ramirez around the throat with his left arm and buried the knife deep in his chest.

Ramirez grabbed Johnny’ left arm and started to pull away when he felt the knife go deep in his chest. Reaching down, he pulled his pistol and brought it up trying to fire over his shoulder when the knife again entered his chest again causing him to drop the gun.

Johnny let go of Ramirez and stepped around to face the man. “ This is for hitting Teresa.” Johnny said as he sliced the mans throat wide open, blood splattering his shirt when he cut the jugular. Standing there as Ramirez slowly fell to the ground, his eyes wide open as he tried to gasp for air as blood started to pool around him. Turning around, Johnny looked up at Jake on the hill above the cave. Walking over to pick up his gun, Johnny dropped to his knees as a sharp pain wracked his body, causing him to grab his side.

“ JOHNNY.”  Jake yelled when he seen Johnny drop to his knees. Looking around, Jake seen where he could get down to Johnny.

By the time Jake reached Johnny, he could hear horses approaching. When Scott and Teresa came into view, he dropped the rifle and rolled Johnny onto his back. Grabbing Johnny’ shirt, he ripped it open. It was then they seen blood coming from the  wound in his side.

“ Damn it. He tore the wound in his side open.” Jake said. “ Teresa. Is there any hot water inside the cave?”

“ Yes. Bring him inside.” Teresa said.

“ We need you to stand up for us Johnny, so we can get that wound cleaned and stitched up again.” Jake said.

Johnny rolled over and came up n his knees, standing when he felt an arm under each of his. “ Kid kicked me.” he said.

“ It’ll be alright. We’ll get you fixed up and back home in your bed were you are going to stay until Sam says you can get up.” Scott said firmly.

“ Her, sit down here by the fire.” Jake suggested.

Johnny’ side hurt to much to argue as he sat down. “ Teresa?”

“ I’m right here Johnny.” Teresa responded. “ I’m going to take care of you.” she said as she started to wipe away the blood.

“ I’m sorry.” Johnny said as he looked at her bruised face.

“ It’s not your fault this happened Johnny. Just stay still so I can clean this up and stop the bleeding.”

“ I made him pay for hurting you.” Johnny said softly.

“ Hush. Jake was his wound this deep the first time?” Teresa asked.

Jake went around and looked at the wound. “ No it wasn’t.

“ I’ll go get his saddlebags. I know he has what you will need in them to stitch that wound closed.”.” Scott said as he headed outside the cave.

“ It’s getting dark and he should rest. We should leave in the morning.” Jake suggested.

“ I’ll go take care of the horses. Where’s yours?” Scott asked Jake.

“ In the wash back behind. When I seen Johnny go down, I didn’t have time to go get him.” Jake responded.

“ I’ll go bring him in.” Scott said before walking outside.

“ Mister Lancer.” Frank yelled from the lower corral.

Murdoch looked and seen three riders coming toward them. Walking toward them he could see one of the horses  carrying two riders. Seeing Teresa riding Johnny’ stallion, a lump came to his throat.

“ Frank, send someone for Sam.” Murdoch yelled.

“ Right away.” Frank answered.

“ Teresa.” Murdoch said as they rode into the yard.

Teresa got down and ran to Murdoch, wrapping her arms around him as tears flowed.

“ Thank god you’re safe.” Murdoch said

Marcy came running out of the house, stopping when she seen Johnny riding in front of Jake, she knew he was injured.

“ What happened?” she asked.

“ He got kicked in the side by the kid. It opened his wound open.” Scott said as he dismounted and went to help get Johnny down.

“ Hey Murdoch.” Johnny said as he slid down off Jake’ horse. “ I got her.”

“ I know son. Let’s get him inside and up to his room.” Murdoch responded.

Marcy stood watching with tears in her eyes as Johnny sat up on the side of his bed while Scott and Jake removed his shirt.

“ What can I do to help?” she asked.

“ There’s nothing we can do except keep him still until Sam gets here.” Murdoch responded. “ Let’s get his pants off and get him in bed. Marcy, why don’t you go on downstairs and wait? There’s nothing you can do here.”

“ I am not leaving him Mister Lancer. Johnny needs me, and I am staying.” Marcy snapped back.

“ She has a right to be here Murdoch. She is going to marry Johnny.” Scott cut in.

“ I don’t like the looks of that bruise. It’s worse than it was last night.” Jake said as he helped Scott remove Johnny’ shirt.

“ Johnny…….Johnny does it hurt when you breath?” Scott asked.

“ Huh…..some.” Johnny answered as he lay back on his bed, his head sinking into the pillows. “ Teresa.”

“ Teresa is fine brother. She’s safe.” Scott said as he removed Johnny’ boots.

“ I’m right here Johnny.” Teresa said as she walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. “ Sam will be here soon, you just rest.”

“ Lo siento miel.” Johnny said softly as he drifted off to sleep. ( I’m sorry honey)

“ He’s blaming himself for what’s happened.” Scott said.

“ Why don’t the three of you go get cleaned up. I’ll stay with Johnny.” Murdoch suggested.

“ I’m staying too.” Marcy cut in.

“ Why don’t all of you get out of here so I can take care of my patient?” Sam ordered as he walked into the room.

“ You got here fast.” Murdoch said.

“ I was almost here when one of your hands stopped me. What happened to him?” Sam asked.

“ He got kicked real hard in the side. It opened a wound he got in Modesto two weeks ago doc.” Jake responded.

“ Alright. I thought I said for everyone to leave…Out, now. All except you Jake.” Sam said.

Scott, Murdoch, and Teresa started toward the door.

“ Marcy, we can wait downstairs.” Murdoch said.

“ I’m not leaving him.” Marcy responded.

“ Young lady……”

“ Sam, that’s Marcy. She’s Johnny’ fiance.” Jake cut in.

“ Fiances huh. Alright, you can stay and assist me.”

“ That’s Johnny’ fiance, Marcy?” Teresa asked as her, Murdoch and Scott walked into the grand room.

“ Yes. She is a very headstrong young lady who loves Johnny very much.” Scott responded. “ You need to let Sam take a look at your wrist when he’s done with Johnny.” Scott suggested.

“ They’re fine. It’s just a little rope burn.” Teresa replied.

Two hours later Sam came downstairs with Jake. “ Would one of you mind telling me why that boy has been allowed to ride a horse, let alone be out of bed with an injury like that?”

“ Is he alright Sam?” Scott asked.

“ I had to reopen that wound and clean it out with carbolic acid. What the hell was he shot with to make a wound that size?” Sam demanded.

“ It wasn’t that big at first doc. Johnny got kicked there hard yesterday by one of the men who took Teresa. It reopened the wound.” Jake replied.

“ How long ago did he receive the original wound?”

“ About two weeks ago Sam. In Modesto.” Murdoch responded. “ We left there about a week after to come back here.”

“ You let that boy ride a week after he was shot. You’re lucky he’s still alive.” Sam said with anger.

“ Look Sam, we had to leave Modesto, for Johnny’ safety.” Murdoch snapped.

“ Sam, would you take a look at Teresa’ wrist? She has some pretty deep rope burns.” Scott cut in and asked.

“ Yes, of course. I didn’t know you were injured Teresa. Come over here and sit down so I can take a look.” Sam said as he set his bag on the dining table.

“ Sam, when you finish with Teresa, come into the kitchen and I will try to make things a little clearer for you on Johnny.” Murdoch suggested as he headed toward the kitchen. “ You young lady, I want you to get some rest when Sam is done.” Murdoch ordered Teresa before leaving the room.

“ So that young lady upstairs with Johnny is his fiance huh?” Sam asked as he unwrapped Teresa’ wrist. “ I expect that bruise is from one of them hitting you?”

“ Yes.” Teresa responded as she looked at Jake and smiled. “ I’m glad you came back with them Jake. Thank you.”

“ Couldn’t think of anyplace else to go.” Jake responded.

“ I want you to keep these dry and covered for a week. I have some salve I want you to apply to them twice a day, understand?”

“ She will doc.” Jake cut in.

“ I didn’t expect to see you back here.” Sam said as he applied salve to Teresa’ wrist.

“ Figured I’d come back and try and keep Johnny out of trouble for starters Doc.” Jake replied as he smiled at Teresa.

“ Well, I’m afraid that will be a full time job. Now if you will excuse me,.” Sam said as he closed his bag and headed to the kitchen.

Two weeks confined to his room, Johnny had had enough. Opening his door he headed down the back stairs to the kitchen. Stopping when he heard talking.

“ Jake, you’ve talked to Johnny?” Teresa asked

“ Yeah. I’ve been busy, but we’ve talked some. Why?”

“ I think he’s still blaming himself for what happened.” Teresa responded.

“ Johnny has a soft heart, and to those who wouldn’t know any better, they wouldn’t understand that when someone Johnny cares about gets hurt, It angers him. Teresa, Johnny is always going to blame himself for what happened to you. Nobody will be able to make him not. Believe me I know because I’ve tried. That boy can be so damn stubborn sometimes.”

“ Yes he can, but I love him…..and Scott, they’re like brothers to me.” Teresa said.

“ I asked Mister Lancer permission to court you when we were in Modesto. He said he would never allow it.”

“ Never allow it. Why?” Teresa asked.

“ It’s because I’m like Johnny in his eyes. He knows I was a gunfighter before I was a Marshal. He won’t permit us to see each other.” Jake said.

“ But you weren’t a gunfighter, you were a Marshal.” Teresa responded.

“ I was a gunfighter before I became a Marshal, Teresa. Me and Johnny worked jobs together. Granted I wasn’t with him when he was building up his reputation, but it wasn’t hard to keep track of that boy. Seems every time I turned around, I would hear some second hand talk about how he was supposed to have faced ten men at once in the street, and gunned them all down before they could clear leather.”

“ I’m scared for him Jake. I’m scared Johnny will be killed by those four that have been hanging around Moro Coyo.” Teresa said. “ Murdoch is trying so hard to change, he really is. I know it would kill him if he lost Johnny again.” Teresa said as she sprinkled some flour on the table so she could roll out the pie crust.

Jake seen a lone tear roll down her cheek, and slowly walked over to her.

“ Hey, come here.” Jake said as he gently pulled Teresa to him and hugged her. “ Let it out girl. Like I tell Johnny, it’s not good to keep your feelings all bottled up inside.”

Teresa let the tears flow as she wrapped her arms around Jake. “ I was so scared when I was with those men. The way Ramirez talked about how he was going to kill Johnny. It was horrible. I’m glad Johnny killed him”

Jake put his hands on her shoulders and gently pushed her away just enough so he could lift her chin up and look in her eyes. Taking his thumb, he wiped at a tear that rolled down her cheek.  He couldn’t help but notice her face flush when he touched her.

“ You know the real reason I came back here with Johnny?” Jake asked.

“ For that job as a sheriff.” Teresa responded.

Jake shook his head. “ No.” he said as he looked into her eyes. “ You. I came back here because of you Teresa.”

“ Me?”

“ Yes you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you after I left here last year. I finally talked to Johnny about you, and he thinks it’s okay. Only problem is convincing Mister Lancer.”

“ I think we will be able to do that with time and patience.” Teresa said.

“ You know, a man could get lost looking into those beautiful eyes of yours.” Jake said as he placed his hands on either side of her face and slowly brought his mouth down to hers. Hearing a soft moan escape her lips, Jake ran his tongue over her bottom lip before slowly sliding it into her mouth as he put his arms around her and pulled her into his chest.

Johnny slowly walked down the last steps into the kitchen and stopped, smiling at what he was seeing.  He was glad to see his friend finally got up the nerve to show Teresa how he felt about her.

“ You know. It’s a good thing I’m not Murdoch.” Johnny said.

Jake and Teresa separated with a start. “ Johnny Lancer, what’s the big idea sneaking up on a person like that?” Teresa demanded.

“ I wasn’t sneaking. You two were just to busy to hear me is all.” Johnny replied.

“ You won’t tell Murdoch will you?” Teresa asked.

“ Nope. Only thing I’m gonna say is, you ever hurt her Jake, and I’ll forget we’re friends.”

“ I have no intention of hurting her Johnny.” Jake responded.

“ You two, out of my kitchen now.” Teresa ordered.

“ Yes ma’am. I need to talk to Johnny anyway.” Jake said. “ Let’s take a walk.”

Teresa stood and watched them walk out the back door. She could still feel his lips touching hers, the warmth of his hands on her face. “ Murdoch Lancer, you better let Jake court me.” she said as she started rolling the dough out again.

“ What’s up?” Johnny asked as they walked out to the rose garden.

“ I went to Moro Coyo yesterday.” Jake responded. “ Cherokee Bill is dead. Tulsa Jack gunned him down a week ago. Seems they got into a heated argument about you, and Bill came out of the cantina with Sandy. Seems he told Tulsa to go to hell and Tulsa responded with telling him ‘ You first ‘ pulled his gun and shot him dead.”

Johnny walked over and sat down on a bench. “ So that leaves Sandy, Red and Tulsa Jack?

“ Tulsa said to tell you that he’ll be waiting because he’s not leaving until he kills you.”

“ How’d he know you were with me?” Johnny asked.

“ Not hard. You’re the talk of the town. People are wondering when you’re going to face them, if you’ll face them. Some even have a bet going that you won’t show. That Johnny Madrid is a coward since Modesto.”

Johnny looked at Jake with cold hard eyes. “ How the hell would they know about what happened in Modesto?” he demanded.

“ Newspaper. Hell Johnny, you’re front page news. Did you really think Johnny Madrid facing a female gunfighter, and killing her wouldn’t make the newspapers? Hell, they even wrote saying you were a coward facing that woman because you turned your back on her. Something Madrid never does when he’s called out.” Jake responded. He could see the anger in his friends eyes. “ Johnny, that wanted poster is all over Moro Coyo.”

“ It’s never going to end is it?” Johnny asked.

“ Price of fame buddy.” Jake responded. “ Rose putting that poster out on you I’m afraid won’t let it end. So how do you want to handle this?” 

“ Like we did in Chihuahua.” Johnny responded.  “ Remember?”

“ Yeah I remember. Jesus Johnny, I took a bullet getting out of that place. What we did down there won’t work against Tulsa Jack.”

“ Yeah it will. He won’t be expecting it Jake.” Johnny responded. “ Just like those damn Rurales didn’t that day.”

“ You’re nuts if you think I’m going to let you try that against Tulsa Jack. These ain’t Rurales we’re talking about Johnny, they’re gunfighters. You go into Morro Coyo and call them out, they’ll have the advantage. There’s a hundred different places they could ambush you from.”

“ Not if I get the upper hand and call them out Jake.”

“ Johnny……..”

“ Are you okay Johnny?” Marcy asked as she walked over. “ It sounded like you two were having an argument.”

“ Yeah, we’re fine.” Johnny said.

“ Just a slight disagreement Marcy. Think about what I said Johnny. I’ll talk to you later.” Jake said before walking away.

“ Come with me.” Johnny said as he took Marcy’ hand and walked toward the bath house. Looking around to make sure nobody noticed, he opened the door and stepped inside, pulling her in with him.

“ Johnny, what are you doing?” Marcy asked as Johnny closed and locked the door.

“ I haven’t been with you since we came back to Lancer.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth with hunger.

“ I’m getting tired of this waiting for Madrid to ride in here Tulsa.” Red said.

“ Yeah. You didn’t say anything about it taking this long to kill Madrid.” Sandy added.

“ You two are free to ride out at any time.” Tulsa Jack said as he picked up his beer.

“ And get shot like Bill did, no thanks.” Sandy responded.

“ Look Tulsa, we need to do something to draw Madrid out. To bring him to us.” Red suggested.

“ He killed the greaser and kid. He had help from that man that came in here yesterday.” Sandy stated.

“ That man  yesterday he’s a Marshal.” Red said.

“ He was in Abilene, he’s not anymore.” Tulsa responded.

“ Jake Teague is a gunfighter. Some say he’s as fast, if not faster than Madrid. If he comes, we won’t be able to beat him Tulsa.” Red said

“ Like I said, you can ride out at any time. He comes with Madrid, he’ll die with Madrid.” Tulsa said.

Murdoch stood at the corrals with Johnny, and Jake, looking at some new horses brought in.

“ Mister Lancer, there’s a church dance next month. I was wondering if you would allow me to escort Teresa to it?” Jake asked.

“ I told you in Modesto, I will not permit you to see Teresa.” Murdoch responded.

“ Can I ask why?” Jake asked.

“ You know why.” Murdoch replied.

“ It’s just a dance old man.” Johnny cut in.

“ Teresa is an innocent child. I will not allow him to see her.”

“ Because I used to be a gunfighter like Johnny. You know, people change Mister Lancer. Johnny, I’ll be riding to Sacramento to see about that job as sheriff.” Jake said before walking away.

“ What the hells the matter with you?” Johnny demanded.

“ Don’t speak to me in that manner. Teresa is an innocent child, and I will not let him…….”

“ She’s not a child. Teresa will be eighteen this year. She has a right to see whoever she chooses.” Johnny snapped back.

“ Young man, I am her guardian, and I will decide who she sees, and that’s final. You might want to think about being responsible and think about those four………gunfighters who have come here to kill you. Or have you forgot about them?” Murdoch demanded.

“ I ain’t forgot nothing Murdoch. I’ve been responsible my whole life……..Just like I haven’t forgotten what you told me in Modesto. To bad a man can’t pick who his family is like he can his friends.” Johnny said before turning to walk away.

“ Don’t you walk away from me.” Murdoch ordered.

Johnny stopped and spun around. “ What do you want from me Murdoch?” Johnny demanded. “ You think I like having people come here to kill me? You think I liked having Teresa taken because of me? I should have let that firing squad kill me, at least then I wouldn’t be an embarrassment to you.”

“ You are not an embarrassment to me. When are you going to get it through your thick skull I care about you damn it? I was awake the whole time you where gone because I didn’t know if Ramirez had killed you. Every day I have a fear that someone will ride in here and gun you down. Every time you get called out, I pray they’re not faster than you. When Jake beat you, I thanked god he is your friend.  I don’t want you living by that damn gun any more. You’re my son and I want you to be able to live the life you deserve as my son here at Lancer.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ No you don’t. I’ll always be a killer in your eyes.” Johnny responded. “ You have your perfect son in Scott. You don’t need me. Coming back here was a mistake.” Johnny said before turning and walking away.

Chapter 18 Research Notes


Chapter 19

“ Morning son. Where’s your brother?” Murdoch asked.

“ Good morning. He’s not down here yet?” Scott asked.

“ No.” Murdoch replied.

“ I haven’t seen him this morning either.” Marcy said.

“ Maybe he went outside to do something before breakfast.” Teresa suggested.

“ Would you go see if he’s still asleep son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir.” Scott replied as he stood up and headed upstairs. Opening Johnny’s bedroom door he found his bed hadn’t been slept in, and the room was empty. Turning to leave the room, something caught Scott’s attention. Walking over to the bed, he picked up a note and read it.

Jake,  the way my old man talked to me, I decided to take care of that problem. Remember Chihuahua amigo. JM.

“ What the hell are you doing brother?” Scott asked aloud as he turned and left the room.

“ What the hell does this mean?” Scott demanded as he handed the note to Jake.

Jake took the note and read it.“ Oh my god. Johnny, you fool.” Jake said loud.

“ What is he talking about, Chihuahua?” Scott demanded.

“ We did a job together down there. The Rurales were being pretty bad to the peasants.” Jake responded. “ I should have known.”

“ Should have known what?” Scott asked.

“ Yesterday Johnny mentioned Chihuahua, and taking care of those men in Morro Coyo by doing to them what we did in Chihuahua.” Jake explained.

“ And just what did you do in Chihuahua?” Murdoch demanded.

“ The Rurales,he faced all ten of them head on. He walked out into the middle of the street and stood there watching them before they noticed him. He stood there so calm and……when it was over, all ten of them Rurales were dead. Johnny didn’t get hit, but I did..” Jake said. “ I think Johnny is going to do the same damn thing in Morro Coyo.”

“ Jake, are you saying Johnny went to Morro Coyo to call Tulsa Jack out?” Marcy asked.

“ Yes.” Jake replied.

“ His bed wasn’t slept in so he left sometime in the night.” Scott said.

“ That’s because he went someplace to be alone, to think, to become Madrid without anyone around to stop him.” Jake said.

“ I’ll saddle our horses.” Scott said as he headed to the door.

“ Scott wait. This isn’t something you can help with. These men are gunfighters just like Johnny. You can’t go up against them. You’ll get killed.” Jake said.

“ If you think I’m going to stay here while my brother faces those men, then you don’t know me Jake.” Scott said firmly before walking out the door.

“ That damn boy. When is he going to start being responsible?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny’ been responsible for himself and everything he’s done his whole life. When are you going to start being a father and stop judging him?” Jake said before walking out.

Marcy followed Jake outside. “ Jake, please….I…”

Jake walked over to her. “ When this is all over,  I’m going to have a serious talk with him about his actions, even if I have to knock some sense into him.” Jake said before turning and heading to the barn.

Johnny saddled the stallion as the first rays of light started to show in the eastern sky. “ Well ole buddy, I expect they found my note by now. If I don’t come out of this alive……I know Jake will take real good care of you.” Johnny said as he rubbed the stallions face. “ The old man wants me to be responsible for my actions. I’ll be responsible.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle and started toward Morro Coyo. His fathers words kept running through his mind. Could he be wrong. Could his father really mean it when he said he wanted him to live his life like he deserved at Lancer, free from the fear of being called out. Could he be happy enough to live with a wife and children. Something he had often thought about, but never dared try to have in his profession. What right did a gunfighter have even wanting to have those things. Jake had said he was the talk of the newspapers. That everything he did regardless if it was true or not, it made the newspapers. Anything to make money regardless of who it hurt in the end. “ I should never have come back here.” Johnny said aloud. That was the last things he said to his father before storming off. And what of Marcy, she said she loves him, accepts him, and wants to marry him, but does she really? What right does Johnny Madrid have having a wife? What right did he have putting her life in danger as long as she was with him? And what about Jake? Never had he thought that his lifetime friend could ever beat him to the draw, yet he did. Was Jake right, was he becoming forgetful, showing all his cards knowing it was something a gunfighter never did. Never show someone just how fast you really are. Never show someone just how dangerous you can be, yet here he was, Johnny Madrid, good at his trade had done just that. Scott had witnessed it, not once but twice how deadly he was. Did his brother now have a fear for him? Is that why he seemed to be distant from him since getting Teresa back, or could it be because of the bond between him and Jake? Trusting someone with your life isn’t something a gunfighter can do, but with Jake, Johnny knew he could. He’s never really gotten to know Scott, even though they rode to Abilene and back together. Riding along Johnny couldn’t remember if he knew what Scott’ favorite book was, or his favorite color. Hell, he didn’t even know what his brothers favorite dish was. So many things he didn’t know about his family. So many unanswered questions. Johnny realized the stallion had stopped just outside Morro Coyo. “ Guess it’s now or never buddy.” Johnny said to the stallion as he patted the horses neck. “ Let’s go boy.”

“ You’ll never guess who just rode into town?” Sandy asked as he hurried into the cantina.

“ Now how the hell would I know who rode into town when I’m in here?” Tulsa asked

“ Madrid. Plain as day.” Sandy responded.

Tulsa sat up in his chair. “ He alone?”

“ As far as I could see he was. I didn’t see anyone else with him.” Sandy said.

“ Go out the back and get around behind him.” Tulsa ordered. “ Don’t let him see you. Take that rifle and get up on a rooftop if you can.”

Johnny stopped the stallion across from the cantina and got down, tying the horse to a post. Pulling his colt, and spinning the cylinder before letting it slip back into the holster.

“ TULSA JACK, COME ON OUT.” Johnny yelled as people on the street scrambled to get inside a building to watch what they all knew was coming. “ TULSA JACK.”

“ That’s not Madrid’ style. I don’t like this Tulsa, he don’t do the calling.” Red said.

“ Just shows how soft he’s gotten.” Tulsa said as he stood up and started toward the door. Looking out the swinging bat doors, he seen Madrid standing in the middle of the street to his left. Pushing the bat wing doors open, Tulsa stepped out, followed by Red.

“ COME ON OUT AND FACE ME TULSA.” Johnny ordered.

Father Micheal came out of his church and stopped. What he seen made his heart leap. He had heard how Johnny had come back, and how he had rescued Teresa. Some in his parish had said Madrid had changed, that he was now more deadly than before. Father Micheal himself had read the newspaper article about how Madrid had gunned down an innocent woman in Abilene, knowing it was written lies about the young man. It was what he had heard happened in Modesto, that pulled at his heart. Having talked to Johnny’ friend Jake, hearing the truth of what really happened that awful morning. How Johnny had tried everything to not kill the woman he had once loved. Father Micheal so desperately wanted to stop this, but knew it was too late. All he could do now was watch and pray his friends son would come out of this deadly showdown alive.


Red could see Sandy had made it behind Madrid, and was on a rooftop with his rifle aimed at his back.



Johnny knew then that one of them, Sandy was somewhere behind him. Listening, he couldn’t hear any movement other that a horse swishing it’s tail, or and occasional whisper amongst those watching.







Tulsa glanced at Red. “ You never did say if anyone else seen it. People said you said it was Madrid, that he shot me in the back, took  my money and ran.” Tulsa said.



Johnny watched Red. He knew Red would be the first one to draw, Tulsa had always been  cautious. Never one to hurry into something.

“ You lied to me didn’t you Red? It wasn’t Madrid who shot me in the back that night. It was you wasn’t it?” Tulsa asked.

“ What the hell are you talking about. Madrid shot you in the back and stole that four hundred dollars you had.” Red responded.

“ Now how the hell would you know how much money I had on me? I don’t remember telling you how much I had.” Tulsa asked.

“ You told me.” Red responded. “ From that job we worked.”

“ Nope. I worked that job alone. You didn’t want in on it, so I did that job without you. . I had only been in town an hour when I ran into you. I never told you how much money I made on that job.” Tulsa said.

Red heard the sound of approaching horses and went for his gun, bringing it up just as two bullets slammed into his chest.

Father Micheal seen a glint on the rooftop to his right. Looking he seen a rifle barrel aimed at Johnny.

“ JOHNNY, BEHIND YOU ON THE ROOF.” Father Micheal yelled just as Johnny fired, killing Red.

Tulsa Jack went for his gun and cleared leather, bringing it up as Madrid shot and killed Red.

Johnny turned his gun on Tulsa and fired when he heard Father Micheal yell. Hitting Tulsa in the upper chest as a bullet slammed into his back, causing him to drop his colt.

Jake and Scott galloped into Morro Coyo just as the first shots rang out. Seeing Johnny hit in the back and drop his gun, Jake jumped off his horse and went running to him. “  Johnny.” he yelled as he reached him. Unaware of Sandy still on the roof.

Sandy took aim and shot Jake, hitting him in his left side.

Scott pulled his rifle from the scabbard and took aim at Sandy, and fired, hitting him in the head. Seeing his brother on the ground, Scott ran to his side, and seen Jake was shot also.

“ SOMEONE GET SAM.”  Scott yelled as Father Micheal came running over to help.

“ Johnny was shot in the back Scott.” Father Micheal said.

Sam came hurrying over. He had watched in horror when Johnny was hit in the back and knew it was bad when he seen Johnny drop his gun.

“ Lets get him over to my office.” Sam said.

“ I’m being responsible.” Johnny murmured.

“ Don’t talk little brother. We’ll get you fixed up.”

Jake tried to speak, but fell back on his back unconscious. It was then Scott and Sam seen blood on his left side.

“ Scott, we need help getting them both over to my office.”

“ Father Micheal can you send someone to the ranch and tell my father what’s happened?” Scott asked.

“ Of course. As soon as we get them off the street.”

Murdoch rode into Morro Coyo and stopped at Sam’ office.  Having met a rider headed to the ranch telling him he was needed at Sam’, Murdoch prepared for the worst as he dismounted and went inside.

“ Scott, how bad is it?” he asked, finding his oldest safe and sitting in a chair waiting.

“ You got here fast.” Scott stated as he stood up.

“ I was half way here when I met the rider you sent to the ranch. How bad is he hurt?” Murdoch responded.

“ I don’t know yet on Johnny, Sam’ removing a bullet from Jake.” Scott replied.

“ Jake. So your brothers wound isn’t that bad then?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir it is. Sam has the widow Hargessy  and Father Micheal in there helping him. He wouldn’t let me stay with Johnny. He was shot in the back sir.”

“ The back. My god. How the hell did Jake get shot?” Murdoch asked.

“ He took a bullet for Johnny. The man on the roof shot Johnny and was going to finish him had it not been for Jake putting his body between them. I really don’t know much more than that. Father Micheal seen the whole thing. So you will have to ask him what happened sir.” Scott responded.

“ Where’s your brother?”

“ They’re both in there.” Scott said, pointing to the closed door.

Murdoch walked over and opened the door. Johnny was laying on the table, his upped chest wrapped in a bandage that came up and over his right shoulder. “ I’ll tell you like I did Scott, wait outside Murdoch.” Sam said firmly as he dug for the bullet in Jake’ left side.

“ How bad is it Sam?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know yet. I’m one doctor with two men shot. I’ll get to Johnny just as soon as I’m done with Jake. Now go wait outside.” Sam ordered.

“ I’m staying Sam.” Murdoch responded.

“ No you’re not. You tell me why in gods name you let that boy ride into town alone and face those three men?” Sam demanded.

“ He left sometime in the night Sam. I didn’t let him ride in here alone. How bad is Jake?”

“ I just removed a bullet from his lower left side. He’s damn lucky it didn’t hit his spleen, now get out of here so I can finish up and take care of Johnny.”

Murdoch brushed the hair from Johnny’ sweat covered forehead. He could feel the start of a fever. His son laying there, pale and injured, god only knows how bad.

“ Father Micheal, why don’t you go ahead and go out with Murdoch? I can finish up here and take care of Johnny with widow Hargessy’ help.” Sam suggested.

“ Come on Mister Lancer. Johnny is strong, he’ll pull through this.” Father Micheal said as he put a hand on Murdoch’ arm.

“ Scott said you witnessed what happened. I want to know everything.” Murdoch said as they walked out of the room.

“ Sit down. I’ll tell you all I know.” Father Micheal said. “ I had just come out of the church when I heard, then seen Johnny standing in the street. He called those men out. It would seem from what I could hear, the one called Tulsa Jack thought Johnny had shot him in the back and robbed him a few years ago. After some exchanged words, this man realized it was the other man, the one called Red who shot him and stole four hundred dollars. Your son was in Abilene when it happened. This man Red went for his gun and Johnny shot him. The man, Tulsa Jack also went for his gun and Johnny was able to shoot him as well before the third man on a roof shot him in the back. I seen the man and warned Johnny too late. Jake and Scott rode in, Jake went to Johnny’ side, and I warned him about the man on the roof just as he raised up to fire again. Johnny’ friend took a bullet that would have killed your son. Scott seen the man on the roof and killed him.” Father Micheal explained.

“ My god. Johnny called them out. Why?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny said something before he passed out sir. He said he was being responsible. When you had your fight yesterday, did you tell him he’s not responsible?” Scott demanded.

“ Yes. He doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions. He thinks that damn gun is the answer to everything, and it’s not.” Murdoch responded harshly.

“ With all do respect sir, my little brother is more responsible than you or I could ever be. He’s had nobody in his life except Jake and his gun to keep him alive.” Scott responded with anger.

“ I don’t think now is the time to discuss this gentlemen. The last thing Johnny needs right now is you two fighting. He’s probably not even aware his friend Jake was shot also.”

Sam came out of the room four hours later wiping the sweat from his face.

“ Sam, how are they?” Scott asked.

“ Jake lost a lot of blood and is weak, but with plenty of bed rest he should be alright. The bullet missed any vital organs. I was able to stop any internal bleeding.” Sam responded.

“ And my son, Johnny?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny was shot in the back. The bullet went clean through just under the clavicle. He has some muscle damage. I repaired it the best I can. All we can do is wait.” Sam said.

“ His arm. Will he be able to use his arm again Sam?” Murdoch asked.

“ I won’t know the answer to that for a while Murdoch. He’s damn lucky the bullet didn’t shatter the bone.” Sam replied. “ Johnny’ going to need a long time to heal from this. That arm has to stay immobile. He tries to use it at all, and he could do significant damage.”

“ Which arm is it Sam?” Scott asked.

“ His right arm.” Sam replied.

“ Can we see him?” Murdoch asked.

“ He’s unconscious, they both are, but you can see them.” Sam said. “ Neither one of them will be able to be moved out to the ranch for a couple days. I want to make sure they don’t start and infection. Johnny is running a fever and I want to keep an eye on that.” Sam instructed.

“ I’ll send word to the ranch and get a room at the hotel.” Scott said.

“ I’m staying also son.” Murdoch replied.

“ With all due respect sir. I don’t think Johnny is going to want to see you when he wakes up. Not after what you have said to him.”

For three days Sam kept Johnny and Jake as drugged as possible to keep them from moving around. Johnny his main concern. His fever worsened, and at times Sam thought he would have to tie Johnny to the bed to keep him from thrashing around. On the fourth morning, Sam checked his patient to find his skin cool to the touch finally. Letting out a sigh of relief as he shook his head. Murdoch had gone back to the ranch. Teresa and Marcy rode into town wanting to see Johnny and Jake. Murdoch made Teresa go back to the ranch with him, but couldn’t make Marcy. She stood her ground and remained with Johnny, something Sam was very grateful for. Having two patients in his office, neither of which could be moved for a couple days was exhausting. He had rounds to make, and couldn’t for fear one or both men would have something happen.

“ I don’t think I will ever understand this young man.” Sam said to Marcy.

“ He had a fight with Murdoch the day before. He wouldn’t tell me what was said, but I could tell whatever it was hurt him by the look in his eyes.” Marcy said.

“ Young lady, you really care about this young man don’t you?” Sam asked.

“ Yes I do. He wants to get along with his father so bad Sam, he’s willing to give up living by his gun to do it. That’s why he came home. To try and be the son his father would be proud of.” Marcy responded.

“ Murdoch hasn’t told me where you met Johnny?”

“ Abilene. He was having supper with Jake and Scott. I got him to walk me home and everything just sorta fell in place between us after that, but that’s not the first time I seen him. He didn’t remember me from when he was a deputy helping Jake, but I remembered him. I could never forget his eyes.”

“ And how do you feel about him being Johnny Madrid?” Sam asked.

“ I knew who he was when I decided to fall in love with him. I just wish his father could see what I do in Johnny, and stop thinking about him as Johnny Madrid.”

“ Murdoch is set in his ways. He can be a stubborn old fool, but when it comes to his boys, both his boys, he loves them dearly. I seen the hurt that man went through when Maria left him in the middle of the night, taking Johnny with her. He searched and searched for years. He was still searching when Johnny showed up here to kill him two years ago. All those lies that woman told him. I still can’t believe a mother would be that cruel to their own child, telling the lies she told Johnny.”

“  It’s not just Johnny Mister Lancer has a problem with.  Jake  he fancies Teresa, but Mister Lancer won’t let him see her because he used to be like Johnny.” Marcy said.

“ I’ve only met Jake a few times, but like Johnny, he seems to be a nice enough fella. I don’t think Murdoch wants to accept that Teresa is growing up.”

“ They’re like brothers, Jake and Johnny.”

“ Maybe Jake getting shot saving Johnny’ life will change how he feels about him.” Sam suggested.

Johnny lay on the bed listening to the voices. Once he could get his foggy mind to focus, he knew who was talking, Sam and Marcy.

“ Jake was shot?” Johnny asked softly.

“ Well, good morning young man.” Sam said as he walked over to the bed.

“ Jake?”

“ Just lay still Johnny.”

“ You said Jake was shot……..How bad?” Johnny asked as he tried to move.

“ Lay still Johnny. You were shot in the back. You go moving around wrong and you’ll tear those stitches out.” Sam ordered.

“ How bad damn it?” Johnny demanded.

“ He’ll be alright. He was hit in his lower left side. He’s in the other room resting.” Sam responded. “ Johnny, I need you to listen to me, and listen closely. You were shot in the back from a rooftop. The bullet passed under your clavicle. That’s why I have your arm bound up like it is. I don’t want you moving it.”

It was then Johnny realized his arm. Looking down at it, he realized also, he couldn’t feel it, or move his fingers. Shutting his eyes he took a couple deep breaths. “ Give it to me straight. How bad Sam?” he asked.

“ Marcy, would you go check on Jake while I talk to Johnny please?” Sam asked.

“ Okay. I’ll go let Scott know you’re awake. He’s been staying at the hotel.” Marcy said before leaving the room and closing the door.

“ Johnny, you know I always tell you like it is son. That’s the only way I know to be with my patients. Right now you have no feeling in your arm or hand. The bullet passed clean through just under the clavicle. It’s not paralyzed, but it will take some time to heal up. Now I know how important your right arm is to you, if you do as I say, you will get full use of it back.” Sam explained. “ Johnny, I’ve done everything I can. All we can do now is keep that arm as still as possible for at least a month and then see how it’s doing.”

“ Guess the old man is happy. He doesn’t have to worry about his son being a killer at least for a little while. Don’t have to worry about me being irresponsible in his eyes.”

“ You know, sometimes I just don’t understand you. I know it’s not easy changing your life. Especially from the life you’ve lived, but how about for once thinking about how hard it is on Murdoch?” Sam demanded. “ Now you rest. I don’t want you trying to get out of this bed alone. Understand?”

Johnny nodded. “ When can I see Jake?”

“ Maybe this afternoon I’ll let Scott help me get you up out of bed and take you to him, but for now, I want you to drink this water and rest.” Sam instructed.

“ I want you to let me and Scott help you sit up. Understand?” Sam instructed Johnny.

“ Yeah. Don’t think I could do to good on my own the way you got me wrapped up.” Johnny responded.

“ Reach around behind his back and just below his shoulder blade provide support. Johnny, I want you to roll over onto your left side and bring your legs over the edge of the bed. Me and Scott will support you. Now I want you to tell me if you feel nauseous or dizzy okay?” Sam asked.

Johnny nodded his head as he sucked in some air and tried to roll his body over onto his left side, feeling his brothers hands on his back as he brought his right leg over his left to help him. Once he was finally on his side, he brought his legs forward and used the edge of the bed to help pull him to sit up. Sam and Scott both supporting him.

“ You alright?” Sam asked.

“ Little dizzy.” Johnny said.

“ Just sit there. It will pass. Your legs might be a little wobbly once you stand up. Me and Scott will be on each side of you to help you stay balanced if you need it.”

Ten minutes later Johnny sat in a chair in Jake’ room next to his bed. Jake’ eyes were closed.

“ I have a couple patients I need to see here in town. I’ll be back later. Scott, can you manage while I’m gone?”

“ I think so Sam.” Scott replied.

“ Marcy is going to bring you some broth to drink later Johnny. I don’t want you eating anything solid just yet. I’ll be back later.” Sam instructed as he picked up his bag and left.

“ You want to be left alone to talk brother?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said softly.

Jake kept his eyes closed until he heard the door close. Opening them he found Johnny  shirtless with a bandage wrapped around his chest, up over his right shoulder, and around his right arm keeping it bound to his chest.

“ You look like hell buddy.” Jake said.

“ Feel like it too.” Johnny responded. “ You mind telling me why?” he asked.

“ Why what? Why did I take a bullet for you? If you have to ask that Johnny.” Jake responded.

“ It wasn’t your fight. You should have stayed out of it.” Johnny said.

“ If I had, you would be dead right now. Look, I’m not going to get into this with you right now Johnny. I don’t know what the hell is going on in that head of yours, but I do know, if you don’t come to terms with whatever it is, you might not be so lucky next time.”

Johnny sat there staring at Jake. He knew he was right in what he was saying. Riding in and calling those men out was foolish. Something Madrid never did. He had the chance most gunfighters could only dream of having, walking away from the game. Hanging up his gun and living the life he deserved.

“ You going to tell me how bad that is?” Jake asked.

“ Ban enough.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to the window. “ Sam says I’ll ever be able to use my arm again.” Johnny said before turning around to face him. “ Looks like I lucked out.”

 “ Jesus kid. You act like you want to be gunned down ?” Jake asked.

“ Maybe I do.” Johnny snapped back. “ Maybe a bullet is the only way I can get out?”

“ Word gets out that Johnny Madrid is out of the game permanently, nobody will come looking for you.” Jake explained.

“ That won’t happen and you know it.” Johnny responded.

“ Boy, why the hell do you have to be so negative about things all the time?” Jake asked.

“ Don’t you mean responsible?” Johnny asked.

“ No……….Is that why you did it? Your old man, he told you you weren’t responsible didn’t he?” Jake demanded.

“ I’ve been responsible my whole life. I’ve answered to no one but myself. Hell, you’re the only one I could ever trust with my life….and now.”

“ Now you have an actual blood brother who cares about you, a place you can call home, a woman who loves and wants to marry you.”

“ That ain’t happening.”

“ What ain’t happening?”

“ Marcy, I’m no good to her now. Hell I can’t take care of her like this Jake.”

“ Why don’t you let her be the judge of that. Marcy is a good woman Johnny.”

“ Who don’t need the likes of me.” Johnny said softly.

“ Boy, you sure are being hard on yourself. The Johnny Madrid I know sure as hell wouldn’t be like this.” Jake said with anger.

“ What the hell am I supposed to do Jake? I want to get out of the game. I came back here to try and live a normal life and you see how that’s going. So you tell me, what the hell am I supposed to do?” Johnny demanded.

“You’re supposed to forgive yourself and move on. Let the past go. Live for the future damn it. Why is that so hard for you to do?”

“ I don’t want to lose them, you. I can’t handle that.” Johnny responded softly.

“ Johnny, you’re not going to lose me, and the only way you will lose them is if you push them away, and that’s exactly what you are doing.” Jake responded.

Scott opened the door. “ Is everything alright in here?” he asked.

“ Yeah, everything is just fine Scott.” Jake replied.

“ Johnny, I think you should go back to bed and rest. Sam said we can take you two home tomorrow.” Scott suggested.


Chapter 20

“ It’s  been two months since Johnny and Jake were brought back to Lancer so they could heal. Johnny did like Sam asked, and when he was told he could start using the arm again, Johnny could be found back of the house practicing his draw every day. Every day he got his speed and deadly accuracy back.  Jake was more than happy Murdoch allowed Teresa to see to his needs. Every day they talked and got to know each other better, growing closer. Murdoch finally gave in and allowed him to court her as long as he remained a gentleman about it and respected her.

“ You know, I got used to having such a pretty gal look after me every day while I was mending.” Jake said as he walked over to the window behind Murdoch’ desk, and looked outside. “ So where’ Mister Lancer?”

“ He left this morning on the stage. He had to go to Modesto, and won’t be back until day after tomorrow.” Teresa replied.

“ Modesto huh?” Jake repeated as he walked over to Teresa. “ And he left you here all alone with me and Johnny to take care of?”

“ Scott is out fixing a bridge. He won’t be back until late this evening.” Teresa responded as butterflies started fluttering in her stomach.

Jake stepped closer to Teresa. “What about Johnny?” Jake asked.

“ Him and Marcy went for a ride. I don’t expect them back until supper time.” Teresa responded.

“ You know why I haven’t taken that job yet as Sheriff of Spanish Wells?” Jake asked.

“ You only just got healed up. I expect you’ll be leaving soon too.” Teresa said.

“ You afraid of me Teresa?” he asked as he gently touched her face with his left hand.

“ No.” Teresa responded.

“ You want to be alone with me?” Jake asked.

“ We are alone.” Teresa said.

“ I think you know what I mean. Why don’t we go upstairs to my room.” Jake suggested.

“ Upstairs to your room?” Teresa asked.

“ Yeah, we could get to know each other a lot better.” Jake said as he took her hand and led her upstairs to his room and stopped outside the door. “ You sure about this?” he asked as he opened the door and stepped inside.

“ Yes.” she responded as she followed him inside and shut the door, turned around and faced him.

Jake put his hands on each side of her face and lowered his mouth to hers. Stopping after a minute. “ You know I have feelings for you, and I don’t just mean the kind a man and woman share in a bed.” he said.

“ So do I.” Teresa responded as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.

 beautiful afternoon. I’m glad you decided to go for a ride.” Marcy said. “ So where are we going?” she asked.

“ Just up here. There’s a stand of old oak trees and a stream where we can be alone. Murdoch leave this morning for Modesto?” he asked.

“ Yes.” Marcy replied.

“ Awful funny he didn’t say anything about going to Modesto before last night.” Johnny said.

“ Maybe it has something to do with a letter he got yesterday.” Marcy suggested.

“ Letter, what letter?” Johnny asked.

“ I don’t know. He read it and got a funny look on his face.” Marcy replied.

“ Where’s that letter now?” Johnny asked as he stopped the stallion and got down.

“ He burned it. Why?”

“ Why, because it probably has something to do with me that’s why.” Johnny responded.

“ He said it was a business trip Johnny. Something about selling cattle to miners over by Bishop.”

“ Then why didn’t he say anything to me or Scott before last night?” Johnny asked.

“ I don’t know.”

“ Why are you still with me?” Johnny asked out of the blue.

Marcy got off her horse. She couldn’t believe what Johnny just asked her. “ Because I love you.” Marcy replied as she walked around her horse to stand by him.

“ I’m no good for you.” Johnny said.

“ Stop it Johnny. You’re not going to get me to leave you.” Marcy snapped back. “ Nobody is going to come here and try and kill you. We are going to be married and live a life full of love. I’m going to give you children and anything else I can. So stop trying to run me off.”

“ You should find someone better than me. Someone who’s whole. Who doesn’t have people wanting to kill them because of who they are.”

“ Johnny, if I wanted someone else, I wouldn’t have come all the way from Abilene with you.” Marcy replied.

“ You’re a fool.” Johnny said as he put his hands on her shoulders.

“ True, but I’m the fool in love with you Johnny Madrid Lancer.” Marcy responded before she kissed him. “ Make love to me Johnny.”

“ I plan to.” Johnny responded.

Johnny woke early the next morning and quietly got out of bed as Marcy slept next to him. Slipping on his pants and shirt, he picked up his boots and headed downstairs. The sun would be up in about two hours. Sitting in the dark in the grand room, Johnny watched as Teresa slowly came down the stairs. He could see her shirt wasn’t tucked in, and her hair was a mess. Johnny wasn’t a fool. He knew what had happened, and he would be addressing it later, because if the old man found out Teresa had spent the night in Jake’ room, there would be hell to pay, and Johnny would be on the receiving end.

“ Gonna have to make this right.” Johnny said as he stood up and headed to the kitchen.

Scott came downstairs and found Johnny sitting at the table talking with Maria. “ Good morning little brother.”

“ Morning.” Johnny said somewhat coldly.

“ Something wrong?” Scott asked as he poured a cup of coffee and sat down across from him. “ Johnny, I asked you a question.”

“ I heard you Scott.” Johnny said as Jake came downstairs.

“ Morning. You and Marcy have a nice ride yesterday?” Jake asked.

“ Not as good as yours.” Johnny said coldly.

“ What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Jake asked.

“ Did something happen yesterday I should know about Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ Ask him.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked out of the kitchen.

“Somebody sure woke up grouchy this morning.”” Jake said.

“ Good morning.” Teresa said as she walked into the kitchen. “ Let me guess, Johnny’ grouchy again?”

“ Yeah. All I did was ask him if he and Marcy had a nice ride yesterday and he bites my head off.” Jake said.

“ What did he mean saying not as good as yours Jake?” Scott asked.

“ You got me. I did the work you asked me to do.” Jake responded.

“ Jake finished early so he sat and had some lemonade with me and we played some checkers.” Teresa said.

Johnny walked back into the kitchen wearing his hat and gun. “ Scott, me and Jake are going to take a ride up north and check the water holes up there.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Alright. Murdoch asked me to do it, but if you’re sure you feel up to it, I can finish with the bridge and check the fencing around south mesa.”

“ Let’s go Jake.” Johnny ordered. “ Teresa. I don’t want you leaving the house today. Understood.” Johnny ordered.

“ Why, what did I do wrong?” she asked.

“ You know what you did.” Johnny said before walking out.

“ I’d like to eat some breakfast first Johnny. It’s going to be a long day riding up there and I’m not doing it on an empty stomach.” Jake said firmly.

“ Grab a couple biscuits and lets go……now.” Johnny ordered.

“ What is your problem Johnny? You got no call ordering me around like that.” Jake responded.

Johnny walked over and stood across from Jake. “ I don’t think you really want me to say what I gotta say here. So I suggest you grab some biscuits and come with me.”

“ Johnny, Murdoch put me in charge. I’m going to have Jake check the south mesa line shack. You go check the ponds up north.” Scott cut in and ordered.

“ I don’t think so brother. Not this time.” Johnny said.

Scott stood up. “ Johnny, I told you what I want you doing, now are we going to have a problem with you following orders?” Scott asked.

Johnny glared at Jake a minute before walking out. The front door slamming a few seconds later.

Scott shook his head. “ I don’t know what happened yesterday to make him that angry at you, but I suggest the two of you work it out before Murdoch gets back.” Scott suggested.

Jake looked at Teresa. How could Johnny know what happened between them? He was gone all afternoon with Marcy and Teresa left his room before the sun came up. That had to be it. Johnny was up when Teresa came downstairs and he seen her. He knew now, there would be no avoiding Johnny.

“ I’m going to go give the men their orders for the day. Go ahead and eat some breakfast before you go.” Scott said as he picked up his coffee and took a sip.

“ He knows about last night.” Jake said softly so Maria wouldn’t hear.

“ How.” Teresa asked.

“ He must have seen you come downstairs this morning. Its the only way.” Jake responded.

“ He must have been sitting in the dark. Oh Jake I’m so sorry.”

“ I’m not. Last night was wonderful. Johnny has another thing coming if he thinks he’s going to keep us apart.” Jake said.

 Scott walked into the barn were he found Johnny saddling the stallion. “ You mind telling me what that was all about?” he asked.

“ What time did you get back last night Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ Around ten I think. Why?” Scott responded.

“ Was Teresa up when you came home?”

“ No, the house was dark except for the lamp by the foyer. I was so tired I went straight upstairs to bed so if she was still up, I didn’t see her. Why?”

“ Because she slept with Jake that’s why.” Johnny said with anger.

“ She what? Johnny, are you absolutely sure about this?”

“ Why else would Teresa be sneaking downstairs at four o’clock in the morning with her hair all a mess Scott?”

“ Murdoch won’t be happy about this. Do you realize the trouble we have now?”

“ Oh I know, and I’ll handle it. Look, I don’t want you saying anything to Jake or Teresa about it okay.”

“ Okay. Johnny, be careful. I know Jake’ your friend and all. Just be careful.” Scott said before turning and walking out of the barn.

Johnny had no intention of riding up north and checking the water levels today. Leading the stallion out of the barn, he swung up in the saddle and headed south to wait for Jake to show up.

Jake led his horse out of the barn and mounted up. The wound in his side still tender. His time spent in bed with Teresa gave him very little sleep. The girls body was so soft to touch. Feeling her in his arms, looking into her brown eyes as he coveted her body. The feel of her wanting more from him, something no woman had ever wanted. Usually on occasion he would spend time with a saloon girl, but that was never an all night thing. Last night, what he had, what they shared, what they did was real. It wasn’t bought, it wasn’t fake. It was real. His gut instinct told him that after the way Johnny had talked to him this morning, he would have to find ways to secretly be with Teresa more, and he wanted her more. She was like a craving, a hunger that just wouldn’t abate.

Johnny waited along the stream in a stand of trees for Jake to ride past. He knew this was the only trail to the south mesa line shack and he made the ride in no time, letting the stallion have his head.  Hearing a rider approaching, Johnny waited to make sure it wasn’t a hand, and it wasn’t. Kicking the stallion, making him lunge out of the trees in front of Jake’ horse.

“ JESUS CHRIST JOHNNY……………THAT’S A GOOD WAY TO GET YOURSELF SHOT.”Jake said angrily as he calmed his horse.

Johnny jumped off the stallion. “ GET DOWN.” he ordered.

Jake got down. “ Look, we can…………”

Johnny swung and hit Jake as hard as he could, knocking him hard to the ground. “ YOU SONOFABITCH…….I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS……….WHAT THE HELLS WRONG WITH YOU

“ WE ARE FRIENDS JOHNNY.”Jake said as he stood up.


Jake knew then were he screwed up. “ Look……..Johnny, I didn’t plan on it happening yesterday, but it did. Teresa was a willing participant. I didn’t force myself on her. She was with me willingly all the way.”

“ Teresa isn’t old enough to know what she wants……….YOU ARE.” Johnny said angrily before swinging and hitting Jake again.

That was it, Jake had had enough. Getting up this time he body slammed Johnny, both of them going down. “ You little bastard.” Jake said as he pinned Johnny to the ground. “You think you can push me around, you got another thing coming. I took a bullet for you. I should have let Sandy kill you.” Jake said with anger before hitting Johnny in his left cheek.

Johnny brought his right knee up and hit Jake in his left side. He knew it was a low blow, but he needed to get him off his chest. Pushing with his left arm as he rolled with Jake’ body till he could stand up.

Jake grabbed his side as a sharp pain shot through his chest. Getting up onto his knees as he rocked forward and back, holding his side.

“ GET UP JAKE.” Johnny ordered.

“ GO TO HELL.” Jake spat.

Johnny stepped over to Jake and reached out to grab him when he found himself the one being grabbed as Jake stood up and put him in a choke hold that happened so fast, he had no time to stop it.

“ Now……..you are going to listen to me.” Jake said as he tightened his hold around Johnny’ neck. “ Yes I made love to Teresa, and I have no regrets about it. I want to be with her for the rest of my life. Hell you took Marcy to your bed in your fathers house, so what the hells the difference?”

“ Teresa ain’t no saloon girl whore Jake.” Johnny said as he tried to get Jake’ arm loose from around his neck.

“ You think I don’t know that……….Hold still damn it or I’ll choke you down more…….. I asked her repeatedly if she was sure she wanted it. I told her what was going to happen. That once it did….. there was no going back…..I have never thought of Teresa as a whore.”

“ You did last night when you took her to bed.” Johnny responded.

“ Yeah, then I guess the same can be said about you and Marcy huh? You’ve fucked her plenty of times, and the two of you aren’t married yet. Seems to me, it’s alright for you to do it, but not anyone else.” Jake said as he let go of Johnny and shoved him away. “ I’m going to marry Teresa, and not you, Scott or your old man are going to keep us apart.”

“ I never wanted to keep you apart. I just didn’t think you would be so damn stupid, you would screw everything up last night because you didn’t want to wait.”

“ You think I’m going to wait until she’s twenty one to marry her, forget it Johnny. Me and Teresa talked about that last night. Even if we have to leave here together, she will be my wife. I will have her again.”

Johnny walked up to Jake, rubbing his throat. “ Try it and I promise you, I will forget we are friends……..I warned you to never hurt her. What you’ve done has hurt Teresa in the worst way……….I know because my old man did the same thing with my mother.”

“ What the hell are you talking about?” Jake demanded.

“ I’m talking about Teresa being pregnant you stupid sonofabitch.” Johnny said.

Jake swung and hit Johnny hard, knocking him down. “ The next time you threaten me boy, you better be ready to back it up.” Jake said before walking to his horse, and mounting up. “ I hope it never comes down to it, but just remember, you can’t beat me, and you never will.” Jake said before riding away.

Scott came out of the house and seen Jake riding in. When he got closer, it was clear his brother hadn’t went to check the water levels up north.

“ Why are you back here so soon?” Scott asked.

Jake dismounted. “ I’m done. I’m not taking shit from you or Johnny any more.” Jake said as he started to walk past Scott to the house.

Scot reached out and grabbed Jake by the arm, spinning him around. “ Johnny told me what happened between you and Teresa. You have some explaining to do.”

“ Unless you want the same thing I gave Johnny, I suggest you let go of my arm now Scott.” Jake ordered.

“ Not until I get some answers.” Scott demanded. “ Our father welcomed you into his home, and you betrayed that doing what you did. If you think leaving here will get you out of this mess you caused, you are sorely mistaken.” Scott said as he heard the sound of a hammer being pulled back.

“ Let go now Scott, before I forget we’re friends.” Jake ordered as he brought his colt up.

“ LET HIM GO JAKE.” Johnny ordered as he galloped into the yard and jumped off his horse.

“ You go to hell.” Jake spat.

Johnny stood, hand by his colt. “ I’m not going to tell you again. Put the gun down.”

Jake holstered his gun. “ You can’t beat me.”

“ Step away Scott.” Johnny ordered.

Scott knew he was looking at Johnny Madrid, and knew this would only end one way if he didn’t stop it now. “ Johnny, don’t do this. You two have been friends for too long to let it end like this.”

“ We could have talked about this like rational men Johnny, but you didn’t want to. I’m getting my stuff and leaving here.” Jake said.

“ And what about Teresa? What about the damage you’ve done to her?” Johnny asked.

“ I’m taking that job as sheriff of Spanish Wells. Teresa can come with me if she wants. I told you I’m going to marry her, and you can’t stop me.”

“Teresa is going nowhere with you. Get your things and get out.” Scott ordered.

Jake glared at Johnny, before turning and going inside to grab his saddlebags and clothes.

“ Where’s Teresa?” Johnny asked.

“ She’s in her room were she’s been all morning. I’ve tried talking to her, but she told me to go away and has her door locked.” Scott replied as Jake came back outside followed by Marcy.

“  Ten years we’ve been friends Johnny. Ten years is a long time for you to want to throw away like it was nothing. My taking a bullet for you I guess meant nothing to you. I will be back for Teresa.” Jake said as he mounted his horse. “ Don’t cross me again Madrid.” Jake said coldly before riding out.

“ What happened? Why is Jake leaving?” Marcy asked as she walked over to Johnny. “ What happened to your face?” she asked as she reached up to touch it.

“ Nothing.” Johnny said as he pushed her hand away and went to the house.

“ Scott, what happened?” Marcy asked.

“ The end of a friendship.” Scott responded before walking away.

Marcy stood there watching Scott walk away. She knew it had to be something bad for Johnny to end his friendship with Jake. She suspected it had something to do with Teresa and why she had remained locked in her room all morning. Heading to the house, Marcy would try and get some answers from Johnny.

“ Teresa, you can either unlock your door and let me in, or I’ll bust it down.” Johnny ordered as he banged on the door.

“ Go away.” Teresa said loud enough for him to hear.

Johnny stepped back and kicked the door open.

“ Get out of here.” Teresa yelled.

“ Not until I get some answers.” Johnny said. “ I just lost the only real friend I ever had because of you. I want to know why you did it? Why Teresa?” Johnny demanded.

“ Because I love him, that’s why.” Teresa snapped back.

“ You don’t know the first thing about love. Do you realize what you’ve done………..DO YOU?” Johnny demanded as he walked over and grabbed her by the arms. “ You just ruined any chance I had of living here once Murdoch gets back tomorrow.”

“ Johnny stop it. You’re hurting me.” Teresa pleaded.

“ Johnny, what’s gotten into you?” Marcy demanded as she walked into the room.

“ Stay out of this Marcy. It don’t concern you.” Johnny ordered.

“ I’m not going to allow you to stand there and hurt Teresa. Let her go.” Marcy demanded.

“I said stay out of it…………Did you ever stop to think of what can happen after?”

“ I don’t care. I love Jake and I’m going to be his wife.” Teresa responded.

“ Murdoch won’t allow it……….not until you’re twenty one. If he got you with child…..what then?” Johnny demanded.

“ Johnny, what are you talking about?” Marcy asked.

“ She slept with Jake last night, that’s what I’m talking about. He betrayed Murdoch’ trust.”

“ He didn’t do anything I didn’t want him to do.” Teresa said.

“ You didn’t once stop and think of how this would affect anyone else.”

“ What we did was no different than you and Marcy sleeping together, and she’s not twenty one, neither are you.”

“ You just split this family right in half, and you cost me something I can never get back. I hope it was worth it.” Johnny said before heading to the door and stopping. “ Next time I tell you to do something, do it.” he said coldly to Marcy before walking out.

Murdoch rode into the yard and was greeted by Scott. “ Son. Where’s Johnny and Teresa?”

“ I’m afraid we’ve had some trouble sir.” Scott responded.

“ Trouble, what kind of trouble?” Murdoch asked. “ Are they alright?”

“ Teresa is in her room and Johnny is down at the corrals looking at some new horses.”

“ Maybe you better explain. Let’s go inside.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Perhaps you would like to clean up and rest before supper? We can talk after.” Scott suggested. He hated being the one to tell his father what happened. Especially since he was the one left in charge. Failing to protect Teresa hurt him more than anyone would ever know. He now had an idea how his brother would feel when he was a failure at something his father had him do.

“ I think you better just tell me son. The look on your face says it’s pretty serious.” Murdoch said as he walked over and poured them both a glass of brandy. “ Let’s go sit down.” Murdoch said as he handed Scott one of the drinks.

“ I need you to promise me you won’t yell or get upset. I’ve had enough of that lately” Scott requested.

Murdoch sighed as he sat down on the couch. “ Much better than that stage……Now, tell me, what happened?”

“ It would seem that the afternoon you left……………Teresa and Jake…………Johnny I guess was up real early the morning after you left. He was sitting here in the dark when he seen Teresa come down the stairs. Johnny said her hair was a mess.”

“ Maybe she went upstairs to use the water closet.”

“ At four in the morning……..Teresa spent the night with Jake, in his room.” Scott said.

Murdoch stood up fast. “ SHE DID WHAT.” Murdoch yelled. “ TERESA…………..TERESA COME OUT HERE NOW.”

“ Sir, yelling is not going to make this situation go away. Teresa is already upset with what Johnny said to her.”

“ What Johnny said to her…..Damn that boy. He brought him here.”

“ With all due respect sir. This is not Johnny’ fault. If anyone is to blame, it should be me sir.” Scott cut in as Teresa walked into the room.

Murdoch walked over to her. He could see her trembling, and that she had been crying. “ Is what he said true?”

Teresa just nodded her head.

“ Where is he?” Murdoch demanded.

“ If you mean Jake, he left. He and Johnny got into a heated fight, so heated in fact they were ready to kill each other sir.” Scott said.

“ I should have never allowed that man in this house…….He’s just like Johnny, irresponsible and he betrayed my trust when I said he could court you.”

“ My little brother is just as much a victim here, if not more so than Teresa.” Scott responded. “ He was ready to try and kill Jake, and you know he can’t out draw him. You seen that yourself. Johnny is hurting over this, and quit frankly sir, you saying he’s irresponsible is out of line.”

“ That man came here with your brother. It was your brother who asked him to stay in this house……….”

“ And you allowed him to. It was you who allowed him to court Teresa, after he took a bullet for Johnny, saving his life. How do you think my brother feels…………..because of her actions, Johnny lost the only friend he ever had. The only person he felt he could trust his life with.”

“ Teresa is the victim here……….NOT your brother.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ Why, because she’s a woman…..or is it because of Johnny and Jake’ past as gunfighters?” Scott demanded.“ They were both willing participants sir. Jake didn’t force her to his room. He didn’t force her to stay with him all night.”

“ Why is it alright for Johnny, but not alright for me?” Teresa asked. “ He sleeps with Marcy, and they’re not married. Neither one of them is of age.”

“ I told Johnny he was not to……….not in this house until they were married.” Murdoch responded.

“ She was in his bed, and I’ve heard him come downstairs after everyone’s asleep. He’s woke me up several times.” Teresa spat.

“ This isn’t about Johnny. Its about you, and the fact that you did what you did Teresa.” Scott cut in.

“  I love Jake, and he loves me. I’m going to marry him.” Teresa responded.

“ May I remind you, I am your legal guardian, and as long as I am, you will do as I say. I will not permit you to marry a man like him. His kind will only get themselves killed.”

“ Jake’ not a gunfighter. He’s nothing like Johnny is.” Teresa said.

“ He’s just like Johnny. He makes his living with his gun. He’s irresponsible, he took an innocent girl to bed.”

“ And what’s that make you old man?” Johnny asked from the foyer. “ You took my mother to bed….so what’s that make you?”

“ Don’t you dare speak to me like that. I loved your mother. If I didn’t, I never would have married her.”

“ You didn’t love her.” Johnny said as he walked over to Murdoch. “ The only reason you married her was because you got her pregnant with me. You didn’t want a bastard kid running around.”

“ Don’t you dare speak to me like that about your mother and why I married her. You know nothing about the love we had for each other.”

“ Love……don’t you mean lust old man. If you loved her, you wouldn’t have took her to bed before you were married.”

“  And what about you disobeying my orders and having Marcy in your room, or sneaking downstairs to her room, waking Teresa?  I specifically told both of you I would not have that behavior in this house until you were married.”

“ Guess that says a lot about me then don’t it…….Shows just how much alike we are.”  Johnny said just before he felt the burning sting from his fathers right hand slapping him hard across his already bruised face.

Johnny stood there, just glaring at his father. He knew he’d crossed the line saying what he did. Turning to head upstairs, Johnny stopped and faced Teresa. “ I told you what you did would split this family in two. You cost me more than you will ever know.” he said before heading upstairs, slamming his bedroom door.

Scott turned and glare at Teresa. “ I suggest you stay away from my brother. I don’t think he will ever forgive you for what you’ve cost him.”

“ She didn’t cost him anything Scott. I’m not happy this happened, but don’t you dare stand there and tell Teresa what she has to do. That boy brought this trouble into my house. I will be the one to say who does what. I call the tune.”

“ You call the tune. Tell me something, where you calling the tune a few minutes ago when you slapped Johnny for speaking his mind?” Scott demanded.

“ Your brother was out of line speaking to me like that. I won’t have him talk about his mother like that.” Murdoch responded.

“ It seems to me sir, it’s you who has a problem, not Johnny. It seems to me, you can’t handle the truth. You got his mother pregnant, would you have still married her if she wasn’t?” Scott demanded.

“ What happened between me and his mother is of no concern of yours. The matter is no longer open for discussion.”

“ I guess I was the lucky one then. You married my mother before you got her pregnant.” Scott responded before walking out of the room.

Johnny worked from sunup to well past dark every day since his fathers return from Modesto. He became cold and bitter to anyone  that tried to talk to him. Cipriano was the only one he would talk to, and that was just to get his orders in the mornings for his daily jobs. None of the hands wanted to work with him. He repeatedly told Marcy to leave him alone whenever she would try and talk to him. When she confronted him in the barn about his behavior, that became the final mistake. Brushing the stallion down well after dark, Johnny seen her walking toward him wearing a dress.

“ Maria has a plate of food on the stove for you.” Marcy said as she walked into the barn.

“ You didn’t come out here to tell me what I already know.” Johnny replied.

“ No…..I guess I didn’t.” Marcy said as she walked over and started rubbing the stallions forehead. “ Johnny, with all that’s happened in the last month, where does it leave us?”

“ Nowhere.” Johnny responded.

“ So it’s over between us then?” Marcy asked.

Johnny stopped brushing the stallion and walked past her, tossing the brush in the bin before walking over to the grain bin and putting some in the bucket for the horse. Walking back over and hanging the bucket. “ I’ll get you some hay buddy.” Johnny said as he ignored Marcy and walked over into the darkness and started picking up some hay.

Marcy walked over to him. “ Can you just stop and talk to me please?” she pleaded.

“ Nothing to talk about.” Johnny replied.

Marcy stepped up to him and grabbed his arm and spun him around to face her. “ I’m not the enemy here Johnny.”

Johnny glared at her before grabbing her roughly and pulling her back into the darkness more.

Marcy was caught off guard when Johnny grabbed her arm and pulled her into the darkness of the barn. A short time later Marcy took a deep breath and started toward the door, stopping and turning to face him. “ That’s the last time you will ever do that to me. I’m not some saloon girl whore you can rough house with.” she said before turning and walking away crying.

Murdoch walked out of the house the next morning and seen Johnny talking to Cipriano. “ Johnny, I need to speak to you and your brother in the house before you leave.”

Johnny sighed and handed the reins to Cipriano before heading to the house. Walking in through the veranda doors, he found Scott and Marcy both standing in the room, waiting. His father stood looking out the big bay window behind his desk.

“ I’ve given this a lot of thought and my decision is final.” Murdoch said as he turned around to face them. “ In light of everything that has happened around here in the last month, and watching how you have been treating others, especially Marcy. I feel I need to ask Marcy to leave Lancer. I will pay for her a hotel room in Spanish Wells or Green River where she can find work.” Murdoch said. “ I think it’s pretty clear it’s over between the two of you, and I see no need for this young lady to be subject to your rudeness any longer Johnny. The three of us have already discussed this at breakfast this morning, and Scott has agreed to take Marcy into town and help her get settled.”

Marcy walked over to Johnny. “ I’m sorry, but after what you did to me in the barn last night…….how you disrespected me, I won’t stay here any longer.” Marcy said.

“ Nobody made you come here.” Johnny said.

“ I came here to marry the man I loved, but it’s become clear to me that that man no longer exist. The man I loved in Abilene is full of so much anger and hurt, he’s pushing everyone who cares about him away.”

Johnny turned to face Scott. “ Guess you don’t have to test her love for me anymore………….brother.”  Johnny said before turning and walking out of the house.

“ What the devil was he talking about Scott?” Murdoch demanded. “ What did you do?”

“ Scott hasn’t done anything Mister Lancer. Johnny was talking about something that happened in Abilene. It was nothing really.” Marcy cut in.

“ Maybe you better stay clear of your brother for a few days son. You can take Marcy into town in the morning.”

Johnny watched from atop the hill the next morning as Scott drove the buggy to town with Marcy sitting beside him.

Teresa listened from the hallway. She knew with Marcy leaving Lancer, she would be alone, except for Maria, and she hardly spoke to her at all. She knew what she planned would be dangerous, but she had to do it. She couldn’t stand to be away from Jake any longer.

Continued in Betrayed Trust



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6 thoughts on “Abilene Bound by Nancy Marie

    1. As a girl from Abilene, TX I loved this section. I know all about Fort Phantom. Before that I live in Alamogordo, NM which is 15 miles from the White Sands. It was a great trip down memory lane. I love your characters. You write very well, I am ready for the next portion.


  1. I have never been to the US but the picture you paintwork your words brings it so to life. I can’t wait for the next part. Thank you. LYN.


    1. Thank you Lyn. I want and strive for the reader to feel what the character feels, or sees. My western mentor LOUIS L’AMOUR got me hooked on westerns when I was a kid about 40 years ago with his Sacketts series. I really enjoy writing Lancer stories, Johnny being my main Lancer.


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