I don’t own them. I’m just borrowing them for a little fun. No money is being made from this, and all original Lancer characters belong to whoever owns them now. Any other characters belong to me, and may not be used without my permission.
This story will be rated R for romance, possible language, and old west violence.
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Santee – rancher
Cheyenne McKenna – female gunfighter
Dallas Stoudenmire – Marshal, Arizona
Sam Sixkiller – Marshal, Indian Territory
Paden Tolbert – Deputy Marshal, Indian Territory
Franklin West – Deputy Marshal, Indian Territory
James Birch – California Stage Company
Apache – gunfighter / outlaw
Lucas Hill –gunfighter / outlaw
Logan Hill – gunfighter outlaw
Sandy Carter – outlaw
Jenny – Madame, and owner of Cheyenne Social Club
Ben O’Hanlan – Montana rancher
D.J. O’Hanlan – Montana rancher
Corey Bannister – Wyoming rancher
Jedediah W. Willoby – Wyoming rancher
Word count: 41,840
Murdoch Lancer sat at his desk lost in thought. Seven months ago his oldest son, Scott had left to return to Boston to handle the affairs of his grandfather, Harlan Garrett, who had passed away. He had promised his younger brother he would not be gone more than a year. That Lancer was his home now, and where he wanted to be more than anything. Johnny, and Murdoch got along until four months ago when a terrible fight had happened between them. Closing his eyes, the Lancer patriarch could still hear the words exchanged between them that night. Words he should never had said to his youngest.
“What happened to you?” Murdoch asked as his youngest walked into the house filthy.
“Had a calf get stuck in a mud bog.” Johnny said.
“ You get it out?” he asked.
“ Yeah he’s out.” Johnny responded as he poured a shot of whiskey, and downed it.
“ Did you get the fence finished?” Murdoch asked as he stood up, and walked over to him.
“ No, I have three post left to sink, and it will be done. I’ll get up early in the morning, ride out, and get it done before we move the herd.” Johnny said.
“ That fence should have been done. You should have stayed and finished it. Why is it you can never finish your chores?” Murdoch demanded. “ It seems something always happens with you to prevent you from finishing the work I give you to do!”
Johnny looked at his father. “ I told you I …”
“ You had to pull a calf from a mud bog. That shouldn’t have taken you so long you couldn’t finish that fence. If you’re going to be a part owner in this ranch, you need to start doing your work, and being more responsible.” Murdoch said with anger. “ I didn’t build this ranch up from nothing to have you cost me money.”
Johnny poured another shot, and downed it. Slamming the shot glass down on the sideboard, he turned to face his father. “ All I am is a hired hand to you. I told you why I didn’t get it finished. There were no other hands around to save that calf, so yeah, I left my job to do it. If that makes me irresponsible in your eyes, then so be it.” Johnny had said calmly. “ I’m going to go clean up.”
Murdoch grabbed his sons left arm, spun him around. “ Don’t you walk away from me when I’m talking to you boy. You’ll leave when I say you can leave.”
“ Let go of my arm……….now!” Johnny ordered.
“ You ungrateful little bastard.” he spat before hitting Johnny hard in the ribs, knocking him to the floor. “ I call the tune on this ranch, and you will do what I say.” he said as he grabbed Johnny, yanked him up, and hit him hard in the jaw, knocking him down again.
Johnny coughed as he got up, and wiped the blood from his mouth. White hot pain shooting thru his jaw when he touched it. “ You know what Murdoch, I don’t need you, or your precious ranch. Scott’s the reason I stayed here, not you. You love this place more than anything god ever created, you can have it.”
“ Get out of my house, and off my land……………now!” Murdoch ordered as he stepped toward his son, but stopped suddenly when he found himself looking at the business end of Johnny’s colt.
“ I swore I would kill anyone who ever beat on me again.” Johnny said as he pulled the hammer back.
“ You don’t scare me boy.” Murdoch spat. He could tell he was now looking at Madrid. “ Go on back to Mexico and be the killer you are. I never should have brought you here.”
Johnny glared at his father a few seconds before slowly lowering his colt, uncocking it, and sliding it back in the holster before he turned, and went upstairs to get what little possessions he had. Coming back downstairs, he started out the door when his father called him.
“ I want you to sign over your third of Lancer.” he ordered.
Johnny walked over to the desk. “ I want a bill of sale for Barranca, before I sign over your precious land you think more of than your own flesh and blood. I broke him, he’s mine.”
Murdoch scribbled out a bill of sale for the horse, and handed it to Johnny. “ I don’t ever want to see you on my land again.”
“ You just made the biggest mistake of your life old man.” Johnny said as he signed the contract.
“ You’re the only mistake I’ve ever made boy.” Murdoch said.
Johnny rode into Green River, and stopped behind Sam’s office. Dismounting, he tied Barranca off, and knocked on the door.
“ People usually come to my front door.” Sam said as he opened the door. “ Johnny! What on earth happened to you?”
“ Hey Sam.” Johnny said. “ I tangled with a mule.”
“ Get in here so I can clean that up.” Sam ordered as he moved aside so Johnny could come in.
“ I came to the back door because I didn’t want anyone seeing me.” Johnny said as he walked in.
“ Does Murdoch know you’re here, and got hurt?” Sam asked.
“ No, he don’t know I’m here, and I don’t want him knowing Sam.” he said.
Sam turned and looked at Johnny, and it dawned on him then who the mule was the boy tangled with. “ For the love of god, why?” he asked as he cleaned the cut up as gently as he could.
Johnny told him what happened, and the words exchanged between them. When he finished, he hung his head, unable to look at Sam, because of the tears in his eyes.
“ That man has gone stark raving mad.” Sam said. “ Does it hurt when you move your jaw?”
“ Only when I tried eating a piece of jerky.”
“ Your jaw is fractured Johnny. That’s why the bruising is so deep. There’s nothing I can do for it I’m afraid.” Sam explained.
“ So how long will it take to heal?” Johnny asked.
“ That depends on the fracture. It only hurts bad when you chew on the right side, or is the pain on both sides?” he asked.
“ Right here.” Johnny said as he touched his jaw to show Sam. “ At the back of my teeth.”
“ Anyplace else hurting John?” Sam asked.
Johnny unbuttoned his shirt, and showed Sam the bruise on his ribs. “ I don’t think he broke them.”
Sam felt his ribs as gently as he could. “ No, just bruised badly.”
“ Have you had anything to eat?” Sam asked.
“ No.” he said.
“ I want you to go upstairs and clean up. When done, come back down here, and I will have some breakfast fixed for you. Then I want you to go back upstairs and get some sleep. You’re about half dead on your feet now.” Sam ordered.
“ I need to write a letter to Scott if I could Sam.”
“ Of course. In at my desk. When is he due back?” Sam asked.
“ Not for eight months yet.” Johnny said.
“ Well you go get cleaned up. You can write him a letter after you clean up, and eat.” Sam said.
An hour later, Johnny started writing a letter to his brother. “ Could you give this letter to Scott when he comes back Sam?”
“ You don’t want me to mail it to him?” Sam asked.
“ No. He has enough to deal with. He don’t need bothered with me right now.” Johnny said as he put the letter in an envelope, sealed it, and handed it to Sam.
“ I want you to keep in touch with me John. Would you do that for me?” Sam asked as he took the letter.
“ I’m not much on writing letters, but yeah, I’ll write letting you know where I’m at.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ You’ve been a good friend tome Sam. I’m proud to know you.”
Sam pulled Johnny into a hug. He could feel the boy shaking. As he hugged him. “ You’re not going back to Mexico are you?”
“ No. I made good money working for Wells Fargo guarding payroll, and the mail. I think I’ll go back down to Maricopa Wells, Arizona, and do that again. I can make real good money doing that. Save me up enough I can maybe start a horse ranch in Wyoming, or Colorado.” Johnny responded. “ What do I owe ya Sam?”
“ Peace of mind son. You take care of your self.” Sam said as he shook Johnny’s hand on the back porch.
Johnny swung up in the saddle. “ Only thing I ever got that means a damn.”
“ I hope he gave you a bill of sale for Barranca.” Sam said.
“ He had no choice. If he wanted me to sign over my part of the ranch, he had to give me my horse.” Johnny said as he turned Barranca. “ He won’t be in town for a while. Not with what I did last night. I’ll see ya Sam.”
Sam stood there with tears in his eyes as he watched Johnny disappear over the hill behind his office as the sun came up. “ Murdoch Lancer, you are going to get a piece of my mind.” he said as he went inside.
Murdoch was madder than he had ever been. Early this morning he found out several sections of fence had been cut during the night all over Lancer. He knew without a doubt who had done it, and why.. When he told told the men Johnny was not allowed on Lancer land ever again, and to shoot him on sight. Several hands came forward, and quite. Saying they could never shoot Johnny, so Murdoch fired them.
“Mister Lancer, every head is gone.” Frank said. “ The fence has been torn down, post pulled out of the ground, wire cut, and the herd is scattered all over the Conway spread, mixed in with her cattle.”
“ Damn him……..Damn that……..Alright, start getting the the men repairing the fences. I’ll ride over to the Conway ranch, and let Agatha know.”
“ There’s more. The South Mesa line-shack, and North Mesa line-shack have both been burned to the ground.” Frank said.
“ Alright, have every inch of Lancer checked for damage, and let me know.” Murdoch said before turning, and going inside. “ I ever see you again, I will kill you myself you little sonofabitch.”
Sam was usually a peaceful, calm man, but not this time as he stopped his buggy at the Lancer ranch, and climbed down. Not bothering to knock, he barged inside, and found Murdoch sitting at his desk looking at a map of Lancer.
“ Have you gone stark raving mad?” Sam demanded.
“ Lower your voice.” Murdoch ordered. “ I know why you are here Sam, and I’m not going to discuss it with you.”
“ Lower my voice!…….You hit your own son, and you hit him so damn hard, you fractured his jaw.” Sam yelled. “ What in gods name is wrong with you Murdoch Lancer?”
“ I told you I am not going to discuss it with you or anyone else!” Murdoch snapped back as he stood up, and walked over to the sideboard to pour a drink.
“ Why did you even bother bringing that boy home? Why did you search for him for all those years if you had no intention of letting him live here?” Sam demanded.
Murdoch downed the shot, walked back over to his desk, and sat down. “ Did he bother telling you what he did last night? That sonofabitch cut fences all over Lancer that will take months to repair, not to mention he scattered about two thousand head of cattle, burned down both the North line-shack, and South Mesa line-shack. He cost me several thousand dollars in damages last night. So don’t come here, and yell at me in my own home about what I did to that ungrateful, lazy, irresponsible bastard.”
“ How about what you cost him Murdoch?” Sam asked. “ How about what he lost?”
“ I don’t give a damn what he lost.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ I’ve known you many years. I delivered that boy in this house, but hear me when I say this Murdoch Lancer, I will never set foot in this house again. I’ll doctor your hands if they need it, but you………you can go to hell,” Sam said before turning, and walking out.
Johnny paid for his breakfast, and headed to the Wells Fargo office. Eight months ago he was run off from the only home he had ever really had by the man supposed to be his father. With really no plans, he rode to Maricopa Wells, Arizona to go back to work guarding payroll shipments. He didn’t want to go back to living by his gun hiring out in range wars, and water disputes. Everything went good for the first five months, then it happened, the stage was robbed of over a hundred thousand dollars, and he was left for dead. It took him a month to heal up from the two bullets he took in that robbery. A month to think about the four men he planned on hunting down. Once cleared to return to work, he walked into the Maricopa station, and knocked on the managers door before opening it.
“ Johnny, it’s good to see you up, and around. How you feeling?” James Birch asked.
“ I’m good.” Johnny said as he closed the door. “ Listen, I need to talk to you about what happened.”
“ I spoke to Marshal Stoudenmire, and will have warrants drawn up for their arrest.” Birch said. “ They’re gone, so I don’t know how you plan to find them.”
“ You have to think like an outlaw.” Johnny responded.
“ Why you doing this? The money was insured. Why you going after them?” Birch asked.
“ Logan lied to you when you hired him to guard the payroll.” Johnny said. “ I hate a liar, and him robbing the stage while I’m guarding it makes it look like I was involved to some.”
“ We know you had nothing to do with it Johnny. The robberies were happening before you were hired. Anyone who knows Johnny Madrid, knows you’re not a thief.” he said.
“ Will you send me a wire letting me know if you got them.” Birch asked.
“ Alright.” Johnny said.
“Johnny, do you know who these men are?” he asked.
“ Logan, and his little brother Lucas Hill. I worked with them on a couple range wars. That’s why I vouched for him when he wanted a job. I didn’t know he had other plans.” Johnny explained. “ Sandy, he’s the youngest of the bunch, and I don’t think he wanted in on it.”
“ Why you say that?” he asked.
“ Apache ordered him to shoot me, and he wouldn’t do it. He didn’t even have his gun drawn until he was ordered to by Logan.” he responded. “ He’s maybe fifteen, sixteen years old.”
“ Okay. What about this Apache?” James asked.
“ Apache, he’s the bad one of the four. His mother was an Apache squaw, and his father a Crow. He carries a big Bowie knife, and is good with it. He enjoys using his knife on people who cross him. He’s also good with a rifle, and pistol. I know he killed a whore once in Chihuahua. Sliced her up when he was done with her. Nobody knows why.” Johnny explained.
“ If he’s part Apache, you going to be able to find him?” Birch asked.
“ He’s good at hiding, but I know where he’s headed.” Johnny responded. “ He’ll head to Indian Territory up north. There’s a Crow reservation in Montana, he’ll go too.”
“ Well, if he does head up there, there’s a marshal of the Indian Territory names Sam Sixkiller, has two deputies named Paden Tolbert, and Franklin West. Good men all three of them.” Birched said
“Alright. I’ll look him up.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny, I just want to say you’re a good man. Most people wouldn’t do what you’re about to do. You take care of yourself, and you will always have a job here.” James said as he shook Johnny’s hand.
Scott walked into the house, glad to be home, but confused why his father, and brother never met the stage. “ Murdoch.”
“ I’m sorry son, I didn’t hear you come in.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ Welcome home son.”
“ Thanks, it’s good to be home. Where’s Johnny, he’s going to love what I brought him from Boston.” Scott said, and asked.
“ He’s gone.” Murdoch said as he walked over to pour a drink.
“ Gone, gone where?” Scott asked.
“ How the hell should I know!” Murdoch responded with anger. “ He’s gone, and I don’t want to discuss the matter again.”
Scott knew something happened between his brother and father. Something serious enough to make him leave the only home he had ever really had. What he couldn’t figure out though is why Johnny never wrote to him, telling him he had left Lancer. “ How long has he been gone?”
“ I said I don’t want to………”
“ I asked you how long my brother has been gone sir?” Scott cut in.
“ Eight months. Knowing him, he’s probably back in Mexico doing what he does best, killing people.” Murdoch snapped back.
Scott turned to head upstairs, but stopped, and turned back around. “ I will find out what happened, and if I learn my brother left because of something you did or said to him.” he said firmly before going upstairs.
Johnny rode into the town of Socorro sixteen days after leaving Maricopa Wells, stopping at the livery cold, wet, and tired. A spring storm had him cold, wet, and in need of a hot bath, hot food, and something to warm his insides up.
“ Anybody here?” he asked.
“ Yeah.” a man responded from the back. “ Sorry, I didn’t think anyone would be out in this storm……..Well I’ll be damned. How the hell are ya kid?”
“ Cold, and wet. Got two horses could use some good feed.” Johnny said.
“ Two stalls on the end are empty. Let me take one of them for ya.” he said.
“ Thanks. You still got that bottle you hide?” Johnny asked as he led Barranca into a stall, and started removing the saddle.
“ Sure do. Bottom drawer of the desk.” he said. “ How long ya here for?” Percy asked.
“ Just the night.” He said as he started rubbing Barranca down.
“ What ya doing up here?” Percy asked as he pulled the pack off the horse.
“ Looking for some men. Four of them. The Hill brothers, a young kid named Sandy about fifteen, sixteen years old. Their riding with a man called Apache.” Johnny responded. “ You had anyone come thru in the last month or so?”
“ Apache was here, had a young fella with him. Could be that one called Sandy. Don’t know about the other two though. Why you want them?” he asked.
“ Robbed the stage I was guarding, and stole the payroll…..There ya go amigo.” Johnny said as he poured grain in the trough for Barranca.
“ He was here about three weeks ago. Spent a couple days gambling, and whoring until he got into a scrape with another man. Cut that man wide open with that damn knife he carries.” Percy said. “ Come on in the office, and have a pull to warm your insides before ya go outside.”
Johnny walked over to the office door, and took the shot Percy poured him. “ Thanks.” he said before downing it.
“ He’s a bad one kid. How come you’re really after him? ” Percy asked.
“ I don’t much care for someone putting a hole in my body.” Johnny said.
Scott dismounted in Green River, and opened the door to Sam’s office.
“ Be right there.” Sam said from the back. “ Scott, It’s good to see you back.”
“ Thanks Sam.” he said. “ Listen, do you know why Johnny left in the middle of the night eight months ago?”
“ Left in the middle of the night? What did Murdoch tell you?” Sam responded.
“ Just that Johnny left in the middle of the night. I asked him why, and he wouldn’t say.” Scott responded. “ What happened?”
Sam went to his desk, and pulled out the letter Johnny had wrote him. “ He wrote this too you the day he left.”
Scott took the letter, and opened it.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there to greet you when you came back home. I wanted to be, but circumstances beyond my doing prevented it. As you probably know by now, I left Lancer. The old man ordered me too get off his land, and out of his house. Made me sign my third of Lancer back to him. Never thought I would hear the old man say what he did to me. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright. I know how to take care of myself. By the time you read this, Sam will know where I’m at, and that I’m still alive. It’s been good knowing you Boston. You were everything I dreamed a big brother would be, and then some. I’ll have the coffee hot if we ever meet again.
Scott let a tear roll down his cheek. “ What the hell happened Sam?”
Sam told him what Johnny had told him happened that night.
Scott looked at Sam in total shock. Hearing the terrible things said to his brother. “ Murdoch did this to Johnny because he saved a calf instead of finishing a section of fence. It makes no sense Sam.”
“ That’s only half of it Scott. Your father decided harsh words were not enough, and beat your brother.” Sam said.
“ He beat him.” Scott said.
“ Hit him so hard, he fractured his jaw, and bruised his ribs.” Sam responded. “ But your brother got the better of him. Before he came here to see me, Johnny did some expensive damage to Lancer. He cut a lot of fence, scattered about two thousand head of cattle, and burned down two line-shacks.”
“ Do you know where he’s ate Sam?” Scott asked.
“ I do. Johnny wrote to me. He’s working for Wells Fargo out of Maricopa Wells, Arizona, guarding payroll, and mail shipments.” Sam said as he went to his desk, and opened a drawer. “ These are the two letters I have received from him.”
Scott took the letters, and sat down to read them. When he finished, he handed them back to Sam. “ He says he’s happy with what he’s doing, but reading between the lines, he’s not.” he said. “ He told me once he had a dream of owning his own ranch.”
“ What are you going to do?” Sam asked.
“ I’m going to go find my brother, and help him make that dream come true.” Scott responded as he stood up. “ But first, I’m going to confront Murdoch.”
“ Be careful Scott.” he said as he walked outside with him.
“ I’ll keep in touch.” Scott said as he shook his hand.
Johnny rode out of Socorro late the next morning. Stopping Barranca on a hill, he looked around at the beauty of the high desert blanketed in a thin layer of snow that fell overnight. The Junipers, Gambel Oak, and Colorado Pinyons, sparkling in the afternoon sun. Before he left Socorro, he bought two canvas’s he could use to stay dry at night. A shot in the distance got his attention. Turning Barranca around he looked, and could see someone in the distance, and two riderless horses galloping away. Riding down from the hill, he approached the rider with caution as he scouted the terrain for anyone else. Only two sets of tracks could be seen in the snow. One set having blood next to them. Pulling his rifle, he chambered a round, and aimed it at the one standing.
“ Keep your hands where I can see them.” he ordered.
“ Ride on mister. This is no business of yours.” the woman said.
Johnny was surprised when he learned the shooter was a female.“ You have a reason for that man laying there dead?” he asked as he rode around to face her., keeping the rifle aimed at her. “ I asked you a question.”
The woman whistled, and a long-legged sorrel came galloping over to her. “ Not that it’s any of your business, but I’ve been hunting him, and two other men for over three years” she said.
“ You a bounty hunter?” Johnny asked.
“ Nope.” she said.
“ He have a name?” he asked.
“ Willie Morgan.” she said.
“ And why are you hunting him, and the other two?” he asked.
“ Like I said, it’s personal.” she said. “ You’re a long way from Mexico Madrid.” she said as she mounted her horse. “Don’t look so surprised that I know who you are. I seen you in Tuscon a few years ago. Who you tracking Madrid?” she asked as she rode over next to him. Her shoulder length blonde hair whipping around to her face.
“ Four men. They robbed the stage some time back, and left me for dead.” he said.
“ I heard you were working for Wells Fargo. Two of those men you’re tracking happen to be Lucas, and Logan Hill?” she asked.
“ I didn’t get your name.” he said.
“ Names McKenna, Cheyenne McKenna.” she said. “ You going to answer my question?”
“ It’s personal.” Johnny said.
“ So you’re not working for the law, or Wells Fargo?” Cheyenne asked.
“ Nope.” he said. “ One of the men is named Apache.”
“ I’ve heard of him. He favors a Bowie knife, but is just as good with a gun.” she said as they started riding.
Scott rode into the yard, and dismounted. Handing his horse off to a hand, he headed inside. All the way home he thought about how to confront his father, and what he was going to do.
“ Where have you been?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I rode into Green River to get the truth.” Scott said. “ You lied to me. Johnny didn’t leave in the middle of the night. You beat him, and ordered him off Lancer.”
“He’s lazy, and irresponsible. He never finished the work he was told to do.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ He knew we were moving the cattle in a few days, and that the fence needed to be done. Instead he goes off claiming to get a calf out of the mud.”
“ And you didn’t believe him?” he demanded.
“ No!” Murdoch snapped back.
“Let me tell you something about my little brother. Johnny doesn’t lie. He never has. You can ask any man working on this ranch. You can also ask any hand on this ranch how much work Johnny has done, work others hadn’t finished.” Scott snapped back with a raised voice.
Murdoch walked over to him. “ That little half-breed bastard cost me a lot of money. He cut fences all over Lancer, stampeded two thousand head of cattle, and burned down the north, and south line-shacks. If I ever see him again, I’ll do more than fracture his damn jaw.”
“ It’s obvious you think more of this ranch than your own flesh and blood. I believe your words were, you love this ground more than anything god ever created. You sir make me ashamed to be your son. I’m done with you, and this ranch. I don’t need you, and I don’t need this ranch, I never did.” Scott said before turning, and going upstairs to pack.
Murdoch grabbed Scott’s right arm, spun him around, and prepared to hit him when he found himself being hit hard in the face, knocking him hard to the floor.
Scott stood over his father, both fist ready. “ That’s for my brother.” he spat before going upstairs.
Murdoch tried to get up, but failed, and sat back down on the floor. Blood ran from his split bottom lip. Trying again, he reached over, and pulled a chair over next to him to use to get up as Scott came back downstairs.
“ I am going to find my little brother, and make sure he’s alright.” Scott said as he opened the front door. “ I don’t ever want to see you again.”
Murdoch staggered over to the veranda doors, and watched his oldest son shake Cipriano’s hand as they spoke, then mount up, and ride away.
Johnny woke to the smell of bacon cooking. Sitting up, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, and stretched.
“ Morning.” Cheyenne said.
“ Morning.” he said as he stood up, and stretched his back.
“ I hope you don’t mind me cooking breakfast?” she said. “ The coffee is ready.”
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he put his coat on. “ I figured we’d stop in Las Vegas, get a hot bath, and more supplies.”
“ That sounds good. I haven’t had a hot bath for a spell. Been bathing in creeks.” Cheyenne said as she poured him a cup of coffee, and handed it to him. “ How long you been tracking them?”
“ Thanks. About twenty days.” Johnny said. “ You don’t mind my asking. How’d you survive three years out here?” Johnny asked as he walked over, and checked the horses.
“ What made you become a gunfighter?” she asked.
“ I grew up where you had to be tough, or take the abuse.” Johnny explained.
“ I heard you killed your first man when only twelve?” she asked.
“ Thirteen.” he said. “ How long you been using that pistol?”
“ My father taught me how to shoot when I was real young. He said anyone can shoot a gun, but not everyone can hit what they aim at. He told me once that if you have to fire more than one shot to kill your prey, the enemy will find you easier. So he taught me , one shot, one kill. I’m not anywhere as good as you, but I hit what I aim at.” she said. “You got a woman?”
“ A gunfighter isn’t exactly the best person to have a relationship with.” Johnny said.
“ That stud you’re riding, he’s a damn good looking horse. You going to use him for breeding?” she asked.
“ Barranca, yeah. He’s a Capanero de Palomino from the San Joaquin. Caught him, and broke him myself.” he explained.
“ Barranca, what does that mean?” she asked.
“ It means a narrow, winding river gorge. That’s where he was when I caught him. He’s the only thing I have now that matters to me.” Johnny said.
“ You got no family?” Cheyenne asked.
“ I used too.” he said as he set his plate down, and stood up. “ Excuse me.”
Cheyenne watched Johnny walk off into the junipers. She could see his expression change when she asked if he had any family.
Scott opened the door to the Wells Fargo office in Maricopa Wells, Arizona a month after leaving Lancer.
“ Can I help you sir?” a man asked.
“ I’m looking for the manager.” Scott said.
“ I’m the manager. Names James Birch. What can I do for you?” he asked.
“ Sir, my name is Scott Garrett. Do you have a man working for you named Johnny Madrid?” he asked.
“ I’m sorry, but who works for me is private information.” James responded.
“ Mister Birch, Johnny is my brother. Please, I need to see him. It’s important.” Scott said.
“ Madrid has no brother, and you look nothing like him.” he said.
“ Is there someplace we can talk in private?” Scott asked.
“ We can go in my office.” James said.
Scott followed the man into his office. “ We had different mothers.” he said as the man closed the door.
“ You have any proof he’s your brother?” he asked.
Scott pulled a picture he had taken of them from his coat pocket, and handed it to the man. “ That was taken two years ago. I had to go to Boston for a year to take care of personal business. When I got back home, I learned our father……….that Johnny had left. The only reason I know he’s working for you, is the letters he wrote to a friend of ours in Green River.”
“ Alright, Johnny does work for me, but he’s not here.” James said.
“ When will he be back?” Scott asked.
“ I don’t know. We had a robbery a few months back. Johnny was shot, and left for dead. He left here two months ago tracking the four men responsible.” James responded.
“ Do you have any idea where he went?” Scott asked as he put the picture back in his coat pocket.
“ Indian territory. He has arrest warrants from Marshal Stoudenmire.” James said. “ The one man he’s tracking named Apache, is most likely headed to the Crow reservation, in the southeastern part of the Montana territory.” James said.
“ Thank you for the information sir.” Scott said as he shook the man’s hand.
“ This one fella your tracking, the one called Apache, is he an Apache, or does he just like to be called that?” Cheyenne asked as they sat eating supper in the hotel seven days later.
“ His mother was an Apache, and his father a crow Indian.” Johnny responded as he watched two with badges walk into the hotel lobby, talk to the clerk, and head to their table.
“ Names Frank Alger, I’m the sheriff of Las Vegas.”
“ Sheriff.” Johnny said as he wiped his mouth, and sat back in his chair.
“ Keep your hands on the table where I can see them Madrid.” the sheriff said. “ You too young lady.”
“ What’s the problem sheriff?” Cheyenne asked.
“ I’ll be the one asking the questions, and you will answer them.” he said. “ What’s your business in Las Vegas?”
“ We just stopped to clean up, and rest.” Johnny said.
“ Your kind isn’t welcome in town.” the sheriff said as he looked directly at Cheyenne.
“ My kind? You mean because of the way I’m dressed sheriff?” Cheyenne demanded.
“ I said I’ll ask the questions young lady. What’s your business?”
“ We’re tracking four men sheriff.” Johnny said.
“ Tracking four men? So you two are bounty hunters?” the sheriff asked.
“ Not exactly.” Johnny said. “ I’m working for Wells Fargo in Maricopa Wells, Arizona. A few months back the stage I was guarding was robbed. I was shot, and left for dead. One of the four men also worked for the stage. They’re headed up into Indian territory.”
“ Tell you what, the three of us are going to take a little walk over to my jail. If your story checks out, you can stay the night. If it don’t, it’s going to be a cold night sleeping out in the rain.” the sheriff said.
Johnny, and Cheyenne waited in the sheriff’s office, neither one liking how the deputy kept looking at her.
Sheriff Alger walked into the jail.“ What’s your name?” he asked as he read the telegraph response.
“ Cheyenne McKenna.”
“ Just says Madrid was hired. Don’t say anything about a woman. What’s your part in all this?” Sheriff Alger asked.
“ Two of the men he’s tracking murdered my parents.” Cheyenne responded.
“ You got something against wearing ladies clothes?” the deputy asked.
“ No….I don’t have a problem wearing ladies clothes. I don’t because like I already said deputy….I’m after the remaining two me who murdered my parents, and wearing a dress makes riding a horse a little hard.” Cheyenne said.
“ Why don’t you let the law handle it instead of going around like you do wearing pants, and a gun?” he asked with a smirk.
“ I don’t much care for the way you’re talking to the lady Deputy.” Johnny said.
“ I’m not afraid of you Madrid.” the deputy said as he stepped closer to Johnny. “ And she ain’t no lady.”
“ It’s alright Johnny, he can’t say anything I haven’t heard before.” Cheyenne said. “ Let me tell you something you piece of shit with a tin star. I went to the law, and the only thing they did was laugh at me, and tell me to forget it. I will never forget seeing those men shoot my father down, rape, and murder my mother. The only reason they didn’t kill me, I was hiding under the porch. I watched those bastards kill my father, heard my mothers screams as they raped her, and then shot her. When they were done, they took the stock, and burned the place down. So if my wearing pants offends you, or those fine upstanding women who gossiped about me as we rode in offends you, I don’t really care. I’ll dress however I want.”
“ Knock it off Stan. The woman will probably kick your ass.” Sheriff Alger ordered. “Look, I’m trying to clean this town up. There’s been a lot of troublemakers. I had to make sure you weren’t one of them. I hope you understand Madrid.”
“ Yeah, you’re doing your job. So can we stay the night?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, but I want you to leave in the morning.” he said.
“ Planned too just as soon as we get more supplies.” Johnny said as they walked toward the door.
“ Madrid, one of those warrants is for a man called Apache. You know about him?” the sheriff asked.
“ I do. He favors a Bowie knife, and is good with a gun.”
“ Not just good. He’s fast, and I mean fast.” Sheriff Alger said.
“ Funny thing about using a gun sheriff. There’s always someone out there faster.” Johnny said before walking out.
“ Why we going with him up here?” Lucas asked.
“ Law won’t be hunting us up here.” Logan said.
“ I have a feeling we’re being followed.” Lucas said.
“ Nobody knows us. We ain’t wanted in Colorado.” Logan said.
“ Maybe not us, but they know him.” Lucas said. “ I want away from him brother. We never should have joined up with him.”
“ We joined up with him because of what we did in Ehrenburg. Or have you forgot?” his older brother said, and asked.
“ I ain’t forgot. I also ain’t forgot we were supposed to just kill the man, not rape, and kill the woman too.” Lucas said.
“ It was Willie who decided to rape the woman.” Logan said.
“ Yeah, but you raped her also, and then you brother put a bullet in her. You said we couldn’t leave no witnesses.” Lucas responded. “ But we did. Remember we were told they had a daughter. Well we never found her. What if she seen what we did?”
“ She wasn’t there. We burned the place down, and she wasn’t there.” he said.
“ We need to get away from him before he gets us killed brother.” Lucas said.
“ Why you think we’re being followed?” Logan asked.
“ Willie Morgan. He was supposed to meet up with us in Las Vegas. Remember?” Lucas responded.
“ Don’t mean he’s dead. He could have just changed his mind.” Logan said. “ You’re making something out of nothing little brother. There ain’t nobody following us.”
Johnny stopped Barranca at the top of Raton Pass a week later.
“ We’ll camp over there against that rock bluff. It will help shelter us from this storm.” he said.
“ Sounds good, but what if we get snowed in up here?” Cheyenne asked.
“ We won’t.” Johnny said as he dismounted, and walked Barranca, and the pack-horse over out of the wind.
“ I’ll gather up some wood, and get a fire started while you unsaddle the horses.” Cheyenne said.
Two hours later Johnny watched Cheyenne clean her pistol as he cooked supper. For the past sixteen days they rode together, and made small talk. He couldn’t help but think about what she said in Las Vegas, about seeing her parents murdered, and could understand her bitterness. He himself years ago had that same bitterness until he killed the man who killed his mother.
“ I’m sorry you seen your parents murdered.” he said.
Cheyenne looked across the fire at him, and gave a small smile. “ How long you think this rain will last?”
“ It’s spring, could last all night. You have any other family?” he asked as he poured her a cup of coffee, and handed it to her.
“Thanks. I have an aunt back east. I met her once when I was small. She came out to Arizona to visit.” she said. “ Didn’t really care for her. She didn’t believe in me wearing pants. Said I should be sent away to a school or some bullshit to grow up being a proper lady. My father told her I was just fine, and wearing a dress to do chores in was not practical.”
Johnny chuckled as he envisioned Cheyenne wearing a dress while slopping hogs. “ Have you worn a dress?”
“ Yes, I wore a dress every Sunday when we went to church.” she said.
“ How about now, all grown up?” Johnny asked.
“ I’ve had no reason to wear one.” Cheyenne said.
“ What if I wanted to take you out to a nice place to eat?” he asked.
“ You want to take me to one of those fancy places to eat?” she asked.
“ I’d like to.” he said.
“And what, I let you, and then you want me to go to bed with you as payment?” she asked.
“ No Cheyenne, that’s not why.” he snapped back.
“ Buying a fancy dress to wear for a couple hours seems a waste of money to me.” she responded.
“ Your right. I’m sorry I asked.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ I’m going to check the horses.”
Cheyenne watched him walk into the darkness. She knew she hurt him saying what she did. She wasn’t used to someone being nice to her. Someone doing something without wanting something in return. For eighteen days they have been riding together, and not once had he tried anything with her. Standing up, she removed her clothes, and stood naked waiting for Johnny to come back from the horses.
Johnny made sure the horses were secured good as he thought about what just happened. Why had she thought he would want to bed her as payment for taking her to a nice dinner kept running thru his mind. Though it had been several months since he was with a woman, his intentions with Cheyenne were not of that nature. Walking back to the fire, he stopped when he seen Cheyenne standing there totally naked in the light of the fire.
“ You don’t have to do this.” he said as he stepped under the tarp.
“ I know I don’t.” she said as she stepped over to him, and undid his gun belt. “ I don’t do anything I don’t want to.”
Johnny stood there, and let her undress him. Reaching out, he pulled her to him.
“ Make me feel like a woman tonight Johnny.” Cheyenne said as their mouths came together.
“ Murdoch, there’s a cattleman’s meeting in Cheyenne in the spring. I want you and Santee to go to it to represent the California Cattle Growers Association.” Porter said.
“ Santee is a bit of a hot head. You sure you want him to go?” Murdoch asked.
“ It’s either him or Driscoll. Two ranchers from here have to attend.” Porter responded. “ I chose you to represent us for two reasons Murdoch. One, Lancer is the biggest ranch, and two, you know cattle, and how to negotiate.”
“ Spring is very busy for me at Lancer. Can’t someone else go?” Murdoch asked.
“ No. Look, I’m sure Scott, and Johnny can run the ranch while you’re gone.” Porter suggested.
“ Scott and……..their no longer here.” he said.
“ I’m sorry Murdoch. What happened?” he asked.
“ I don’t want to talk about it.” Murdoch responded gruffly. “ How long is this supposed to last?”
“ You’ll be there three days. The meeting will be held at the Cheyenne Social Club.” Porter responded.
“ The Cheyenne Social Club, Porter, you realize what that place is don’t you?” Murdoch asked.
“ It’s the finest establishment in Cheyenne, and where they hold their meetings.” he responded.
“ It also happens to be a whore house!” Murdoch said with anger.
“ I know that Murdoch. It’s the finest one west of the Mississippi river.” Porter said. “ Look, you don’t have to frequent the ladies while there if you don’t want too. A lot of distinguished citizens of Cheyenne go there to eat, and drink.”
“ California cattleman’s Association doesn’t need Wyoming, Montana, or the Dakota territories to prosper in ranching. I have fifty head to every other rancher in the valleys one.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Now you listen to me Murdoch Lancer. Yes you have fifty head to our one. Yes you have the biggest spread in the San Joaquin, but here me when I say this. If you don’t go, you will be removed from the association.” Porter ordered.
“ Then remove me Porter. Lancer doesn’t need the association, and I don’t need you.” Murdoch said as he tossed his napkin down, and stood up.
“ Now hold on Murdoch, Porter doesn’t speak for all of us ranchers.” Jim Pearson said. “ Fact is Porter, we’re tired of the way you run things. You came here from Wyoming a few years ago, and now you want us to join them in the cattle industry. Why? What’s in it for you?”
“ He has a point.” Santee said.
“ Porter, you’ve been wanting to get rid of me ever since you were elected president last year.” Murdoch said. “ I’ll go to this meeting, and while I’m there, I’m going to do some investigating of you.”
Porter stood up, anger on his face. “ You dare question me. You who brings that killer…….that gunfighter you say is your son to this valley.” he spat. “ I’ve seen good grazing land destroyed by sheep. Wyoming Stock Growers are trying to prevent that, and I’m just trying to keep what happened to me from happening here.”
“ We don’t have a problem with sheep in the San Joaquin valley.” Jim said.
“ Mark my words, sheep will be coming here when they realize just how good our grazing is, and if we don’t organize now to prevent it, every one of you will be wiped out.” Porter said before turning, and leaving.
Scott rode out of Las Vegas, New Mexico as the sun rose over the Los Pinos mountains. He didn’t want to stop, but last nights rain made continuing unbearable. He figured he could catch up to his brother before he reached the Indian territory if the weather allowed. Last night he’d heard talk about his brother being in Las Vegas not ten days ago. Only thing he couldn’t figure out is why Johnny was traveling with what appeared to be a female gunfighter from the way men described her. He had heard him talk about a female gunfighter he knew, and wondered if the woman with him was her. He wrote Sam telling him what he had learned, and where he was now headed. Promising he would write again when he reached Denver.
Johnny, and Cheyenne sat in the Antlers restaurant in Pueblo five days later eating supper. Johnny couldn’t stop his eyes from wandering over her body. Unbeknownst to him while he bathed, Cheyenne went and bought the beautiful blue satin dress she was now wearing. Every night since Raton Pass they made love, sometimes slow, other times with hunger, and passion. Last night, Cheyenne had be very aggressive with him, biting him on his left shoulder when he started to climax, causing him to have the longest, and best one he could ever remember having with a whore. Tonight he decided he would make love to her in a way he liked doing to whores.
“ You look beautiful in that dress.” he said.
“ Thank you. You know, I couldn’t help but notice the size of the bed in our room.” Cheyenne said with a smile.
“ I noticed it too.” Johnny said as he leaned closer to her. “ I’m going to take you in a way tonight that will drive you crazy.”
“ What are we sitting here for. Let’s go.” she said.
Johnny stood up and walked around the table to pull her chair out when she stood up. Smiling when she whispered in his ear that she had nothing on under the dress.
“ Good. Makes taking you easier for me.” he said as they started to their room.
“ Johnny Madrid, well I’ll be damned. I never thought I would see you in Colorado.” the clerk said.
“ Do I know you mister?” he asked.
“ Seven years ago you helped my father with a water dispute.” he said. “ You headed to Cheyenne for the brewing range war between the ranchers, and those stinking sheep herders?”
“ No.” Johnny said.
“ There’s gonna be ranchers from all over at that three day meeting. They even have one from California coming. Newspaper says he has the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin, over one hundred thousand acres. It’s right here in the Gazette if you want to read it.”
Johnny took the paper, and glanced at the article, then set it on the counter. “ I don’t do that anymore.” he said before heading upstairs with Cheyenne, unaware a man behind him was listening.
Johnny closed the door to their room a few minutes later, walked over, and poured a shot of whiskey, downing it.
“ You alright?” Cheyenne asked. She noticed his demeanor change when he glanced at the article.
“ I’m fine.” Johnny said as he started removing his clothes.
“ Whose name did you see in that article that made you angry?” Cheyenne asked the next morning.
“ Someone from my past I’d soon not talk about.” he said.
Murdoch, and Santee boarded the stage in Morro Coyo. It would take them three days to reach Cheyenne, if there were no delays over the mountains.
“ I heard you ran Johnny off Lancer, and he did a lot of damage the night he left?” Santee asked as the stage left Morro Coyo.
“ What happened is of no concern of yours.” Murdoch said.
“ I just find it odd that you spent all that time, and money searching for him, only to run him off five years later.” he said.
“ Santee, my personal life is none of your business.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Why do you think Porter really left Wyoming?” he asked.
“ I don’t know, but I intend on finding out.” Murdoch responded.
“ You know, if sheep come into the valley, it could be a devastating blow to us ranchers.” Santee suggested. “ Sheep eat the grass right down to the ground. They leave nothing but bare ground.”
“ It’s cattle country, and sheep will never be in the San Joaquin valley.” Murdoch said. “ Lancer will never have sheep grazing on the land.”
Johnny walked the horses up to the hotel, and tied them off. Stepping up onto the boardwalk as Cheyenne came outside.
“Johnny Madrid!” a man called out. “ Where ya goin Madrid?”
Johnny let out a sigh as his shoulders dropped. “ Stay out of this.” he told Cheyenne before slowly turning around, and walking out into the street. “ Dan Tucker, I got no quarrel with you.”
“ Yeah ya do Madrid. See, there’s gonna be good money to be made, and I plan on making me some. I don’t need you ruining it.” Dan said as he stepped out into the street.
“ I’m just riding north. I have no interest in what happens in Wyoming Dan.” Johnny said.
“ You do as long as you wear that gun on your hip Madrid.” he said.
“ Madrid is working for Wells Fargo!” Cheyenne said as she stepped down into the street. “ He has no interest in Wyoming, or killing you, which he will do if you don’t back away.”
“ You take to hiding behind a skirt now Madrid?” Dan asked as he started to laugh. “ Big bad Johnny Madrid hides behind a woman.”
“ I’m not hiding behind her. I’m right here, facing you. You want to die, then lets dance!” Johnny said with anger.
“ Alright, that will be enough!” Sheriff Henry Price ordered as he came down the street with a scatter gun. “ There will be no gun play in my town.”
“ Gun-fighting ain’t against the law sheriff!” Dan said. “ I called Madrid out, so stay out of it.”
“ Mister, I wear the badge in this town, and I say there will be no gunfight.” Sheriff Price said. “ Madrid, you and the lady ride on out.” he ordered as he kept his scatter gun aimed at Tucker.
“ You’re only delaying the inevitable lawman. I’ll see you again Madrid. It’s a long ways to Wyoming.” Tucker said.
Johnny shot Cheyenne a hard look as he went to Barranca, swung up in the saddle, and took off out of town, leaving Cheyenne, and the pack-horse.
Cheyenne found Johnny standing next to a small lake two hours later throwing rocks in the water.
“ What the hell were you thinking?” he demanded as she rode up, and dismounted. “ I told you to stay out of it. You could have got me killed.”
“ I was trying to keep that guy from drawing on you!” she yelled back.
“ He called me out. There was no talking him out of it!” he said with anger. “ I can’t be distracted when I’m facing a man who intends on trying to kill me….Jesus… I have to stay focused on that man. If I don’t, he could beat me to the draw. That wasn’t a fucking game back there Cheyenne. That wasn’t one of the men you’re hunting down….That was what I was….What I face every fucking day I’m alive.”
“ Well excuse me for trying to help you!” Cheyenne said with anger.
“ You don’t get it do you?….You don’t get that there are men out there who want what I thought was so fucking important to have all those years ago…..my reputation.” he demanded.
“ Your reputation…..You mean that man was going to try and kill you just because of your reputation?” she asked.
“ Yes my reputation. I know one day someone will come along faster than me. But until that day happens, I can’t be distracted when I’m called out. That sheriff back there was a fool coming in like he did. It could have got him killed, just like you doing what you did could have got you killed, and I don’t want that to happen to you because……..” Johnny said as his voice started to fail him.
“ Why do you care what happens to me?” she asked.
“ I care…….I care because……….” Johnny started to say,but stopped, and spun around. He was angry at her, but more than that, he was afraid for her. Afraid she would get hurt.
“ Look at me Johnny.” Cheyenne ordered. When Johnny wrapped his arms around himself, and just stood there, Cheyenne walked around to face him. “ You care because?”
Johnny looked into her brown eyes, dropped his arms to his side, and let out a sigh. “ I care because I’m in love with you Cheyenne, and I don’t want you hurt.”
“ Johnny, it’s because I love you, I was trying to help you back there. I don’t know how to describe how I feel about you because I’ve never felt this way before. When you touch me, kiss me, and especially when you make love to me, it’s like I don’t even know my own body anymore. The feelings I get are……….I’ve never been in love before Johnny…..Hell I’m twenty years old, and until you, I had never been with a man. Our first time, I didn’t know my body would do that.” Cheyenne said.
Johnny placed his right hand under her chin, and slowly brought his mouth down to hers. “ I’ve only just started with your body.” he said before kissing her gently on the lips. “ We should get going before I make love to you right here.” he said softly.
“ You think he’ll care that we left him?” Sandy asked.
“ No. Truth is, I’m glad to be away from him. There’s nothing for us in Montana on a damn Indian reservation.” Logan said.
“ Except maybe some pretty squaws to share a tee pee with.” Lucas said.
“ There’s some awful pretty women in this saloon.” Sandy said.
“ Sounds like you have your evening planned out.” Logan said.
“ Oh yeah. I’m gonna have me some serious fun tonight.” Sandy responded.
“ So what we gonna do brother?” Lucas asked.
“ Enjoy ourselves. Drink, whore, gamble.” Logan said.
“ I’m gonna get us some more beers.” Sandy said.
“ You see anyone you want to spend the night with little brother?” he asked.
“ Hey fellas, take a look at this.” Sandy said as he sat down with a newspaper.
Logan picked up the paper and read the article. “ That’s gonna mean a lot of money will be in Cheyenne.”
“ Yeah, it also means we can make us some good money running them sheepherders off.” Sandy responded.
“ We’ll head on up to Cheyenne after we do some whoring, drinking, and gambling.” Logan said.
“ You two go ahead. I think I’m going to stay here in Denver a spell, then head west to Nevada. They’re hitting it rich with silver out there.” Sandy said.
“ That’s backbreaking work panning for silver.” Logan said.
“ You mean digging. You pan for gold, and dig for silver.” Sandy said.
“ You can dig for gold too.” Lucas added.
“ I wish ya luck kid.” Logan said.
Johnny and Cheyenne walked into the Brown Palace hotel in Denver, and got a room just as the wind picked up, and the rain started.
“ You two came in just in time. Looks to be a bad one tonight.” the hotel clerk said. “ Sure hope we don’t get no tornadoes from this storm.”
“ Tornadoes, what’s that?” Johnny asked.
“ If you’ve never been in one, you’re lucky mister. Think of them as an overgrown dust devil that destroys everything in it’s path. The wind comes down out of the clouds spinning as it moves across the ground. There ain’t nothing in it’s path safe.” the hotel clerk said.
“ I heard they hit in the middle of the night, and you don’t even know it until it’s too late.” Cheyenne said. “ At least that’s what my aunt said.
“ Sounds like the thunder of god.” Johnny said as he paid for the room, and took the key.
“ The restaurant is open until ten. We just installed plumbing six months ago, so you have hot, and cold water in your room for bathing.” he said.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said before heading upstairs.
Scott sat just inside an abandoned mine shaft entrance, watching the rain come down, and the wind howl. Lightening flashed in the distance, lighting up the sky followed by thunder. He had wanted to make it to Denver before the storm hit, but decided when he seen the mine to make camp for the night so he could stay dry. He knew he’d been pushing his horse hard, and the animal needed a good rest, and grain. Sitting there, he thought back to the day he told his brother, and father his grandfather had passed away, and he needed to go back to Boston to handle the affairs. He could see the hurt in Johnny’s eyes the day he left, even though he had assured him he wouldn’t be gone no longer than a year. Selling off the businesses his grandfather had built up over the years left him a very comfortable amount of money to sustain him a life of luxury the rest of his life. But that life he had before coming home to Lancer just didn’t appeal to him anymore. Wealthy, beautiful women searching for a man to seduce them, especially those whose husbands would work late. While in Boston, he attended a cotillion of a friend from college. He found himself smiling as he thought about what his brother would do if he ever went to one, and seen all the young ladies just coming of age.
“ Damn you Murdoch Lancer!! Damn you to hell for what you did to my little brother!” Scott said with anger as he stood up. For five years he got to be a big brother, and prayed he would get the chance to continue to be one. After checking his horse, Scott laid down on his bedroll, and placed his hands behind his head. “ I’ll find you again little brother.” he said as he closed his eyes, and let the sounds of the storm put him to sleep.
“ Don’t do anything stupid Sandy.” Johnny said as he cocked his pistol, and pushed it into Sandy Carter’s left side. “ The two of us are going to walk out of here, and over to the jail, nice and calm like.”
“ I thought Logan killed you.” Sandy said. “ You won’t get no trouble from me Madrid.”
“ Start walking!” he ordered.
“ How’d ya find me?” Sandy asked as they walked toward the jail.
“ Finding you was luck. I know Apache is headed to the Crow reservation.” he said. “ Where’s the Hill brothers?”
“ They left yesterday headed up to Cheyenne to try and score some money from the range war that’s brewing between the cattle ranchers, and sheep herders.” Sandy said. “ What’s going to happen to me?”
“ You’ll spend a few years in prison for that robbery.” Johnny said. “ How come you didn’t go with them to Cheyenne?”
“ Was going to head to Nevada, and try and make some money in the silver mines. Didn’t much care riding with Apache. He killed a whore in Socorro, and the Hill brothers, they’re almost as bad as him.” he said.
“ Where’s the money you stole?” Johnny asked as they stopped outside the jail.
“ My share is in my saddlebags in my room.” he said as Johnny opened the door. “ Inside.”
Sandy stepped into the jail.
“ What’s this all about?” a man asked as he stood up from behind a desk.
“Sheriff. This is Sandy Carter, he took part in robbing the Wells Fargo stage outside Maricopa Wells, Arizona several months back.” Johnny said.
“ And who are you?” the sheriff asked.
“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid. I was the guard on that stage him and his three friends robbed.” he responded.
“ I read something about that robbery in the Denver post.” the sheriff said as he picked up keys from the desk, and opened the door to the cells. “ You taking him back to Arizona?”
“ Yeah, as soon as I catch the other three. He said two of them, the Hill brothers left here yesterday headed to Cheyenne. The last one, Apache, he won’t be so easy to catch.” Johnny responded.
“ You mean that crazy Apache that’s half Apache, and the other half Crow?” the sheriff asked as he locked Sandy in his cell.
“ Yeah. Listen, this should cover any food expense until I get back.” Johnny said as he took out some money, and gave it to the sheriff. “ He said his share of the money in in his saddlebags in his room. Think I could get that locked up in the bank until I come back?”
“ I don’t see why not. Or you can keep it in the safe right here.” the sheriff suggested.
Scott rode into Denver, stopped at the livery, and dismounted. Not wanting to lose anymore time, he stepped inside, and looked around at the horses.
“ Damn senseless killing.” the livery owner said.
“ What happened?” Scott asked.
“ Just our law showing who’s in charge.” he responded. “ Can I help you?”
“ You have anyone riding a palomino come in in the last day or so?” Scott asked.
“ Can’t say.” the man said.
“ Look mister………sir, My name is Scott Garrett, and I ave been searching t=for the man riding that horse for several months now. He’s my brother. Please, his name is Johnny.” he pleaded.
The man let out a deep sigh as he looked at Scott. “ Him and a woman rode out a few hours headed north after arresting a man, and taking him to the jail for the sheriff to hold.”
“ You say he left a couple hours ago?” he asked.
“ Yeah, headed north.” the man said as he followed Scott out to his horse.
“ Johnny, back in Pueblo, when you looked at that article about the meeting in Cheyenne, I noticed your demeanor change when the hotel clerk mentioned that rancher from California coming to it. Do you know him?” she asked as they ate supper.
Johnny set his plate down, and looked at the woman he fell in love with. “ When I was two, my mother took me away from my father, she left in the middle of the night with a gambler man, and took me with her. I grew up in Mexico, and being a half-breed, I was abused a lot by the other kids. I’ve even had them cut me to see if my blood was red. My mother was working in a saloon where she met my father in Matamoros, he got her pregnant, and married her. She was killed when I was ten, and that set me on the path of becoming Johnny Madrid. I swore I would find the man who killed her, and send him to hell.”
“ The man you killed when you were thirteen?” she asked.
“ Yeah. After that, I kept practicing and became who I am. I even fought in the Revolution of the North war in Mexico trying to make a difference for the people down there. I was captured, and seconds away from a firing squad when a Pinkerton man came up in a wagon and freed me. He said he finally found me, and that my father wanted to see me. Now….my mother told me he had thrown us out. That he said he didn’t want a half-breed for a son. All those years I believed her, had no reason not to.” he said. “ Anyways I went home and became a third owner in the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley, Lancer. I got a second chance at life, or at least I did for five years. While there I learned I have an older brother named Scott, who was raised by his grandfather back in Boston, who passed away last year. Scott had to go back and handle all the affairs of the estate being the only child. He promised me he would be back in a year at most. Everything was okay until one night four months after he left. I was out fixing fence and didn’t get the last thirty feet done because of a bawling calf stuck in the mud. There were no other hands around, so I had to do it. When I got home, I told the old man what happened, and that I would finish the fence first thing in the morning. That wasn’t good enough for him. He got angry, said some things to me I never thought I would hear him say. I turned to walk away when he grabbed my arm, spun me around, and hit me in the ribs, knocking me down, he grabbed me again, pulled me up, and hit me in the jaw, fracturing it. I got up, said something, I don’t remember what, and when he came at me again, I pulled my colt. It was inches from his face. I told him I swore no man would ever beat me again. He ordered me out of his house, and off his land. I went upstairs, grabbed what little I had, and when I came back downstairs, he wanted me to sign my third of the ranch over to him. I did in exchange for a bill of sale for Barranca there.”
“ Jesus Johnny. Your own father.” she said with sadness.
“ I cost him. When I left, I cut damn near all his fences that night, stampeded about two thousand head of cattle, scattered them all over, and burned down two line-shacks.” he added.
“ Why did he do it? I mean, what makes a man search for his missing son for all those years, just to run you off five years later for saving a calf’s life.” she said.
“ I stopped asking myself that question months ago.” Johnny said. “ I rode out of there, and went back to work for Wells Fargo a month later.”
“ If you ask me, he got off easy with what you did to him.” Cheyenne said.
“There’s someone out there!” Johnny said as he stood up, and stepped out of the light of the fire.
“ Hello the camp!” a man yelled.
Johnny stood up, and let his right hand drop to his colt as he watched a man lead his horse into the light. His heart started beating faster, as he shook his head in disbelief. Reaching out to shake Scott’s hand, Johnny found himself pulled into a very much missed brotherly hug.
“ What the hell are you doing here?” he asked as they hugged.
“ Looking for you little brother.” Scott said. “ I’ve been trailing you for the better part of a month now. I missed you by a couple of hours in Denver. The livery owner told me you headed north.”
“ Scott, I want you to meet someone special to me.” Johnny said as Cheyenne walked over to them. “ Scott, this is Cheyenne McKenna, Cheyenne, this is my big brother Scott Lancer.”
“ Ma’am, it’s a pleasure.” Scott said. “ Sam told me what happened Johnny, and I read your letter you left me. That’s how I knew where, and how to find you.”
“ I’m not going back Boston.” Johnny said.
“ I don’t blame you. Fact is. I had words with the old man myself. He tried to hit me, but I was faster, and hit him first, knocking him down before I left to look for you.” Scott said. “ So unless you don’t want me around, you little brother are stuck with me.”
“ I’m still tracking three men that robbed the stage. I caught one in Denver, and put him in jail there until I come back to take him back to Arizona. The Hill brothers, Logan, and Lucas will be in Cheyenne. The third one, Apache is headed to the Crow reservation in Montana.”
“ He’s dead.” Scott said. “ The kid you left in Denver, named Sandy, he was shot down in the street not long after you left. Livery man said he killed a deputy, and tried to escape when he was being taken somewhere.”
Johnny, Scott, and Cheyenne rode into Cheyenne, Wyoming later afternoon three days later, and stopped at the Eagle hotel.
“ All these people, I wonder if they’re here because of the meeting?” Cheyenne asked.
“ Could be.” Johnny said as he dismounted.
“ Johnny.” Cheyenne said as she looked across the street.
“ I don’t want innocent people getting hurt.” Johnny said as he glanced at the Hill brothers.
“ So what do we do?” she asked.
“ We stop them from leaving……”
“ What’s going on?” Scott asked.
“ That’s the Hill brothers across the street.”
“ I have an idea. They shot you right?” she asked.
“ Yeah, left me for dead.” Johnny said.
“ What if I call them out, and then at the right time, you step out.” she suggested.
“ I don’t want you getting shot.” he said.
“ I won’t with you, and Scott backing me up.” she said as she removed her coat, gave Johnny a kiss, and stepped out into the street. “ Logan, and Lucas Hill!”
“ What the hell is that?” Lucas asked.
“ Looks like a woman wearing a gun is calling us out little brother.” Logan said.
“ Logan, and Lucas Hill, step on out, and face me!” Cheyenne ordered. “ Step out and face me you murdering bastards!”
Johnny admired the confidence, and bravery Cheyenne had. Though he’d never called another man out, he admired their courage when they called him out.
Logan, and Lucas stepped out into the street as people stood on the walkways watching.
“ Do we know you little lady?” Logan asked.
“ Maybe, but I know you!” she responded. “ Your friend Willie found out who I was right before I killed him outside Socorro.”
“ I told you something happened to Willie for him to not show up.” Lucas said.
“ Shut up!” Logan ordered as he stared at the woman. “ We meet before?”
“ Not exactly. You, your brother there, and Willie murdered my folks, and I’m here to avenge their murder.” she said.
“ Just when, and where did we do this little lady?” Logan asked.
“ Outside Tucson almost four years ago.” she responded.
“ There’s two of us, and only one of you. You think that’s a downfall?’ he said, and asked.
“ I’m not alone. See I’m not the only one hunting your sorry asses.” she said as she glanced over to Johnny.
“ I don’t see anyone else standing in the street with you.” Lucas said.
“ Stay here Scott, and cover us.” Johnny said before he walked out into the street next to Cheyenne on her left. He could see the brothers go pale white.
“ That’s Madrid!” Lucas said with fear in his voice. “ I thought you killed him?”
“ I shot him twice. How the hell did I not kill him!” Logan said.
“ I don’t believe what I’m seeing.” Rancher Harley Sullivan said.
“ What’s going on?” Corey Bannister asked.
“ There’s a female gunfighter standing in the street with another man. There’s two other men down the street facing them.” Harley said.
“ I know that one standing with her. That’s Johnny Madrid. What the hell is he doing in Cheyenne?” D.J. O’Hanlan said.
Murdoch stood up, and walked to the door to watch. “ Do you have any law in Cheyenne?” he asked.
“ Mayor Carey hasn’t hired anyone yet. The closest law is in Laramie.” Harley said.
“ Madrid’s a cold-blooded killer. Mark my word if he’s here, someone hired him.” Murdoch said.
“ You think the sheepherders hired him?” Corey asked.
“ We’ll find out.” O’Hanlan said.
“ What’s the matter boys? You look like you seen a ghost.” Cheyenne said.
“ I killed you.” Logan said.
Everyone on the street stopped to watch what was happening. Some whispering, and pointing to Cheyenne. None had ever seen a female gunfighter before. All listening when she told how the two men murdered her family.
“ Wells Fargo wants their money back boys.” Johnny said.
“ We ain’t got no money from Wells Fargo, Madrid. Apache has it all.” Logan said.
“ That ain’t what Sandy said when I arrested him in Denver. I have his, now I want yours.”
“ Go to hell Madrid, you two bitch!” Logan said as he went for his gun.
It was over in five seconds. Both brothers lay on the ground dead. Johnny scanned around for any possible trouble, his eyes stopping at the crown standing outside the Cheyenne Social Club.
“ You alright Johnny?” Scott asked as he walked over to his brother.
Johnny got a sick feeling inside as he glared at the man standing there looking at him. “ Sonofabitch.” he said finally before turning, and walking away, unaware he was being watched from down the street.
Apache watched Madrid, and the woman kill the Hill brothers. He knew Madrid wouldn’t stop until they faced each other. Stepping down to his horse, he mounted up, and rode out of Cheyenne, headed north.
Murdoch entered the saloon, and looked around. Spotting who he was looking for, he stormed over to the table. “ I should have shot you down today you little sonofabitch.”
“ You want to keep breathing, you’ll turn around and walk back out that door old man.” Johnny said with coldness.
“ You cost me a lot of money that night. I’d be within my rights shooting you down right now for what you did to me you little bastard.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Consider us even for what you did to me.” Johnny said. “ I could have burned you out.”
“ Stand up!” Murdoch ordered.
“ I do, and I’ll be forced to kill you, and I don’t much feel like killing anyone right now.” Johnny responded. Never once looking up at the man.
“ I think you better leave Murdoch.” Scott said. “ We want nothing to do with you ever again.”
“ I thought you had more sense than you do. You stay with him and he will get you killed.” Murdoch said. “ He’s nothing but a killer.”
“ And what are you?” Cheyenne asked. “ What makes you any different than Johnny?”
“ You young lady should be ashamed of yourself. Dressed the way you are, wearing that gun.” he said. “ Trolloping around with him, and sitting there drinking beer.”
Johnny stood up, pulled his colt, and aimed it right at his fathers face. “ Old man, you better watch what you say to my woman.” Johnny said. “ Just because your blood runs thru my veins, don’t think I won’t kill you.”
Scott stood up. “ Johnny, don’t do it! He’s not worth it.” he pleaded.
“ Johnny, you’re not a cold-blooded killer.” Cheyenne said.
“ You kill him, and they will hang you brother….I don’t want to lose you. Put the gun away.” Scott pleaded.
Johnny cocked the colt as he glared at his father. “ Apologize to Cheyenne now!”
“ You don’t scare me boy. If I ever see you anywhere near my ranch again, I will have you hunted down, and killed.” Murdoch said before turning, and leaving the saloon. Unaware Santee, and members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association watched what just happened.
Johnny slowly holstered the colt, and sat down. “ I’m leaving in the morning for the Indian territory. You can either go with me, or stay Boston.”
“ I already told you little brother, I’m staying with you, unless you tell me to leave.” Scott said.
“ Santee, who is Madrid to Murdoch Lancer?” Harley Sullivan asked.
“ His youngest son.” Santee said. “ The other one is his oldest son Scott. Johnny was born at Lancer. His mother left when he was two, taking him with her. Murdoch searched for twenty years for him. Just over five years ago he found him, and got him to come home. About eight months ago, something happened between them that made Johnny leave.”
“ Johnny Madrid is Murdoch Lancer’s son! We can’t have someone like that in the association.” Sullivan said. “ Porter never mentioned him having a gunfighter for a son.”
“ Not just any gunfighter, Johnny Madrid is the best. You seen that this afternoon.” Corey Bannister said.
“ Tell us everything you know about Lancer.” Harvey said.
“ Young lady, what you done yesterday took a lot of guts.” the livery owner said. “ I never seen a woman as brave as you. That took guts ta stand in that street and face those two men you say murdered your folks.”
“ Thanks. Been four years hunting them, and the other two.” Cheyenne said.
“ Boston, I’ll wait for you two outside.” Johnny said as he led the pack-horse, and Barranca out of the barn.
“ I’m worried about him Scott.” she said. “ He’s been so quiet.”
“ Johnny has his own way of dealing with things that bother him. He’ll talk about it if he wants too.” Scott said. “ One thing I learned in the five years we have known each other, patience. If you crowd him, he will never talk about it.”
“ How come he calls you Boston?” Cheyenne asked.
“ I was raised in Boston by my grandfather. He started calling me Boston I believe the morning after we first met.” Scott explained. “ You care about my brother?”
“ Yes I do. I’m in love with him Scott, and I don’t want to lose him.” she said. “ He’s a damn good man.”
“ Yes he is.” he said. “ It’s none of my business, and you can tell me so, but have you told him how you feel about him?”
“ Yes I have. We’ve been sleeping together, and I want our relationship to go further than it has, but I don’t know how he really feels about me.” she said. “ I mean….he’s told me he loves me, butt o what extent?”
“ If he told you that, then I would say his feelings for you are serious enough he will ask you to marry him.” Scott said.
Johnny led Barranca out of the barn, and stopped.
“ You think you’re pretty smart don’t you boy?” Murdoch said.
“ Only a coward pulls a gun on a man when his back is to him old man.” Johnny said as he dropped his reins. “ You going to shoot me in the back? Would that give you vindication?”
“ Shut up.” Murdoch ordered. “ I’ve been thinking about you all night, and came to realize your mother used me. She learned I had money, who I was, and entrapped me by getting pregnant with you!”
Johnny turned around. “ You got her pregnant with me, and because of your fucking lust, I have been made to suffer my whole life.”
“ She was a whore, and nothing more.” Murdoch spat. “ She never loved me. All she did was use me.”
“ And what did you do to her Murdoch?” Johnny demanded with anger.
“ You’re nothing but a half-breed bastard, who should never have been born.” he said with anger.
“ I may be a half-breed bastard in your eyes, but at least I never let you break me like you did her.” Johnny said.
“ What is going on out there?” Cheyenne asked.
“ Stay here.” Scott ordered as he started toward the barn doors.
Johnny seen in his fathers eyes the sign he seen in every man who ever faced him. Drawing, he fired, his bullet slicing thru flesh on his fathers left cheek.
Murdoch pulled the trigger as a bullet cut thru his left cheek.
“ Drop it now, or the next one kills you!” Johnny ordered as Scott came out of the barn.
Murdoch glared at Johnny. He could feel blood running down his cheek.
“ You got five seconds to drop that gun.” Johnny ordered.
Murdoch finally dropped the gun.
“ I don’t need you…and I never did need you old man.” Johnny said with hurt, and anger before swinging up in the saddle, grabbing the pack-horses lead, and riding out of Cheyenne.
Cheyenne led her, and Scott’ horses out of the barn, and mounted up. “ I feel sorry for you Mister Lancer. I feel sorry because you will never get to know your son, and what a wonderful man he really is.” she said before riding away.
Scott mounted his horse.“ You ever come near my brother again, and I’ll finish what you started here today.”
Scott, and Cheyenne caught up to Johnny about a mile out of town. He knew Johnny wouldn’t want to talk, so they rode in silence for several hours.
“ Are you alright?” Scott asked.
“ I’ll kill him next time.” Johnny said with coldness.
“ We won’t see him ever again little brother.” Scott said. “ He’ll never hurt you, or be able to say those terrible things to you again.”
“ I can’t believe he tried to shoot you.” Cheyenne said.
“ Take the pack-horse. I’ll be along in a few minutes.” Johnny said as he handed the lead to Scott.
Scott knew his brother needed some time alone. Taking the lead, he nodded, and rode on.
“ Johnny.” Cheyenne said.
“ Go on with Scott. I’ll be along.” he said.
Johnny watched as Cheyenne turned her horse, and rode on ahead. Waiting until they were out of sight, he reined Barranca over to some trees, and dismounted. Removing his coat, he looked at his blood soaked side. He never thought his own father would try and kill him. When he seen the look in his eyes, he knew, and it took ever ounce of restraint he had to not shoot to kill. Opening his left saddlebag, he pulled out some bandages he had, and set to wrapping the wound up to stop the bleeding. He knew he should tell his brother, but not knowing if his father would come after him, he wanted to get as far away from Cheyenne as possible. Tying off the bandage, he removed his canteen, and washed the blood from his hands before mounting Barranca, and riding off to catch up.
“ Murdoch, we need to talk to you.” Harley Sullivan said. “ Me and the others feel you misrepresented the California Cattle Growers Association by not being truthful with us.”
“ You never told us you had a son named Johnny Madrid.” Corey Bannister said.
“ He’s not my son. Not anymore.” Murdoch said.
“ Maybe in your eyes, but by blood he is, and we feel we can’t allow you to be a member. We want Wyoming to become a state some day, and that isn’t going to happen if the people back east in Washington feel our state is to wild. Now, we are having trouble with sheep coming in, and grazing all the grass our cattle need, and we will handle that. What we don’t need is people like Johnny Madrid around. We want Cheyenne to be the capital of Wyoming, and we want our territory to be represented as a good, safe place for ranching.” Sullivan said.
“ I sent a telegram to Porter telling him there will be no merger with California ranchers due to your misrepresentation.” Corey said.
“ My misrepresentation? I never came here representing California Cattle Growers. I didn’t want to come here. If you want to decide not to merge, then so be it. But don’t you dare stand there and tell me it’s because I never told you Johnny Madrid was my son.” Murdoch said with anger. “ Santee, you have a big mouth, and had no right telling them anything about me, or who my family is.”
“ I had every right to tell them the truth Murdoch. They witnessed your little show in the saloon the other night. So don’t put the blame on me.” Santee responded. “ You brought this down on yourself when you brought that killer to the valley five years ago.”
“ If you had been truthful with us from the start, we might feel differently, but you weren’t Murdoch. Our decision is final. Your ranch will be excluded from any, and all stock prices in the future.” Harley said before turning to leave.
Murdoch stood there clenching his fist as he watched them walk away. “ I built Lancer up to be the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin. I don’t need Wyoming, or any of you to sell my cattle!” he said, drawing looks from others.
“ Scott, I need to stop.” Johnny said.
Scott looked at his brother, and seen he was sweating. “ How bad is it?’ he asked as he dismounted, and went to his brother to help him down. “ Cheyenne, get a fire going.” Scott ordered.
“ What’s wrong?” she asked as she dismounted.
“ He’s been shot. Let’s get you over here next to this log so I can see how bad it is.” Scott said as he helped Johnny. “ Why didn’t you say something sooner little brother.”
“ I wanted to get as far away from him as possible.” Johnny said. ‘ I didn’t want him knowing he hit me.”
Scott opened Johnny’s shirt, removed the blood soaked bandage, and looked at the wound. “ That needs cleaned, and stitches. You still have……?”
“ In my saddlebag on the left.” Johnny said. “ Bring the bottle I have in the other.”
“ Is he always like that when he gets shot?” Cheyenne asked a couple hours later.
“ Has he told you anything about growing up?” Scott asked as he checked his brother for fever.
“ Some, but nothing about ignoring being shot.” she said.
“ Cheyenne, there are men out there who I’m sure he’s told you, want to kill him….”
“ For his reputation. He told me that, but it doesn’t explain why he didn’t say anything.” she cut in and said.
“ It does if you want to stay alive. Most of his life as Madrid, he’s had nobody to care for him if he got shot. He’s done all the doctoring he could. Removed bullets from his body, cauterized wounds that wouldn’t stop bleeding unless he did. Stitched himself up.” Scott explained. “ He told me once he rode for three days shot up until he passed out, and someone came along and helped him.”
“ Jesus!” she said with shock. “ What about the whip marks he has on his back?”
“ He was in a Mexican prison for six months. The Rurales captured him when he was fighting in a war.” Scott responded. “ You know, most of the time when he hired out, he never got any money for his gun. He did it for a place to sleep, and food in his belly.”
“ He’s definitely not the Johnny Madrid I heard about.” she said.
“ If you don’t mind my asking, how did you two meet?” he asked.
Cheyenne told him how outside Socorro, Johnny had rode up, rifle in hand, and demanded to know why she had just killed Willie Morgan.
“ So the two of you have been riding together ever since?” he asked.
“ The man he’s tracking now. The one called Apache, he’s deadly with a knife, and just as deadly with a gun.” Cheyenne said. “ He can beat Johnny to the draw Scott.”
“ My brother knows there is someone out there that will one day be faster than him.” Scott said. “ I want nothing more than to have him live the life he deserves. To not have to worry about someone calling him out. My greatest fear is that I will lose him, and I don’t want that to happen.”
“ Then I suggest the two of us do everything we can to keep him alive.” she said.
“ I fully intend on doing just that.” Scott said. “ My grandfather passed away, and left me a substantial amount of money. I know Johnny has a dream of owning a horse ranch, and I’m going to help him make that dream come true.”
Apache rode into Lost Springs, Wyoming, and stopped at the livery. His horse needing a shoe replaced, he left the animal with the man, and went to get a drink at the saloon. Three days ago he watched as Madrid, and a woman killed the Logan, and Lucas Hill. Gunned them down in the street. Had they also caught, and killed Sandy Carter in Denver he wondered as he walked into the saloon, and up to the bar.
“ Let me have a beer.” he said.
The bartender just looked at him, and went on with cleaning the glasses.
“ I said let me have a beer.” he repeated.
“ I don’t serve Indians. You want a beer, go someplace else and get it.” the bartender said.
“ Mister, I’m not in a good mood, so I suggest you do what’s smart, and give me a beer…….now!” Apache ordered.
“ Maybe you don’t hear so well chief, your kind ain’t welcome in this saloon.” a man said as he walked up to him.
Apache pulled his knife, spun around, and held it at the mans throat.” Now either I get a beer, or this man’s blood is going to be all over your floor.”
“ For the love of god, give him a beer Stan.” another man ordered.
The bartender poured a beer, and slid it down the bar to Apache. “ Drink it, then get out.”
Apache let the man go, and picked up his beer. “ I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.” he said before walking over to one of the girls, talking to her for a minute, and then going upstairs.
“ What happened to make your father suddenly hate Johnny?” Cheyenne asked three days later as they rode along.
“ Me and Johnny showed up at Lancer at the same time. We were on the same stage, and didn’t know about each other until Teresa asked for Mister Lancer, and we both answered. We went back to Lancer, and became brothers from that day on. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for him. As for our father, He doesn’t give at all. He’s all pride, and Johnny is cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give.” Scott explained. “ I think…no, I know Murdoch has never really accepted the fact that Johnny became a gunfighter to stop the abuse, and stay alive when growing up in Mexico.”
“ The two of you are so different.” she said.
“ Murdoch was a year off the boat from Inverness, Scotland when he married my mother, and moved to California. He bought Lancer, and some men, land pirates tried stealing it from him. He sent my mother away for her own safety when she was pregnant with me. She died giving birth to me, and I was taken back to Boston by my grandfather, and raised. A few years later, he married Johnny’s mother. Two years after that, he awoke one morning and found her, and Johnny gone.” Scott explained. “ I have to say, I didn’t really know what to think of him when I first met him. I was a little intimidated I guess you could say, but as we got to know each other, our friendship, and bond grew stronger.”
Kind of like when I first met him, I was intimidated a little too.” Cheyenne said. “ I’d heard of Johnny Madrid, and even seen him once about a year before my parents were killed. I never thought I would four years later be riding with him, or in love with him.”
“ Make me a promise. Don’t ever hurt him. He wears his heart on his sleeve sometimes, and that can be……..”
Johnny had been listening to his brother, and Cheyenne. Stopping Barranca, he turned him around to face them.“ You talk too much Boston.”
“ Maybe, but I am just answering the ladies question.” Scott said. “ You got any plans after you catch this man, Apache?”
“ Go back to working for Wells Fargo. The money is good, and in a couple years I’ll have enough saved up to buy what I want.” Johnny responded.
“ A horse ranch?” he asked. “ What if I could get that for you now? We could be partners. I would handle the books, and you the horses, and contracts.”
Johnny stared at his brother in disbelief. All he had ever wanted was a place of his own to break, and train horses to sell to the army or anyone wanting a good, sound, well trained horse.
“ All you have to do is find the land.” Scott said.
“ You mean that? Because if you do, I know the perfect place that’s been for sale for a long time.” Johnny said.
“ Are you sure you want it to be there?” he asked.
“ I’m sure Scott. I want to hurt that sonofabitch in the worst way possible without shooting him.” Johnny responded.
“ You already shot him though.” Cheyenne said.
“ There’s more mustangs there than anywhere else.” he said.
“ Okay, I’ll contact my lawyer, and have him make the purchase.” Scott said. “ You know, Jake Mendoza was talking of selling his place as well. I’ll have him see if he still wants to sell it, and if he does, that will give us two places, and a lot of land for the horses.”
“ That would be half the size of Lancer wouldn’t it?” Johnny asked.
“ With the two combined it would indeed be. It would give me a place to live also.” Scott said.
“ You thought of a name for this ranch?” Cheyenne asked.
“ J & S Quarter Horses.” Johnny said.
“Sounds good brother.” Scott said with a smile.
“ Colonel Ambrose, there’s three civilian riders coming in with Captain Rosecrans patrol sir.” Lieutenant Foster said.
“ Three civilians?” the Colonel asked.
“ Yes sir, and one of them is a woman.” the lieutenant responded.
Colonel Ambrose stood up, and walked over to look out his door. “ Well I will be damned.” he said as he stepped outside as the three riders approached. “ You’re the last person I ever expected to see out here. You’re a long way from Boston Garrett.” the colonel said.
Scott stopped his horse, dismounted, and walked up to shake the mans hand. “ Colonel, I could say the same about you sir. How are you?”
“ Good, all things considered.” the colonel said. “Come on inside. What are you doing here at Fort Fetterman?”
“ Looking for a man.” Scott said as he followed the colonel inside.
Johnny looked around the fort before dismounting, and following his brother inside.
“ Who are you looking for.” the colonel asked. “ And who is the young lady?” he asked.
“ Cheyenne McKenna, colonel.” she said.
“ Not too smart a young lady riding in Indian territory.” Lieutenant Foster said.
“ Colonel, I’m tracking a man named Apache. I believe he’s headed to the Crow reservation.” Johnny said.
“ Any issues involving Indians have to be handled by Indian affairs, or Sam Sixkiller, the Indian territorial marshal.” Lieutenant Foster said.
“ I intend on talking to the marshal.” Johnny said. “ I’ve tracked this man all the way from Arizona. He robbed the Wells Fargo stage I was guarding with three other men.” Johnny said.
“ I can’t stop you from continuing on, but you should know, there have been settlers killed crossing the reservation.” the colonel said.
“ Do you know where I can find the marshal?” Johnny asked.
“ Sam Sixkiller, and his two deputies will be up at Fort Kearny.” the colonel said. “ It should take you seven days or so to get there.”
“ You’re welcome to purchase any supplies you’ll need at the store. There’s no towns between here and Fort Kearny. We have just about anything you will need here. Blacksmith if you want to get your horses feet done. Shop with some ladies apparel, a dry goods store, and such.” the lieutenant said.
“ There’s an abandoned weigh station about ten miles after you cross the Platte river where you can stay dry for the night. House roof has collapsed, but the barns roof is still good.” Captain Rosecrans said.
Jim Porter with Santee, Driscoll, Hackett, and Nelson rode up to the Lancer house, and dismounted as Murdoch came out of the house.
“ Murdoch, I think you know why we are here?’ Porter said.
“ I imagine Santee filled you in on what happened.” Murdoch said.
“ Santee hasn’t told us anything. We are here because of the wire I got from Cheyenne.” Porter responded.
“ Murdoch, you cost us money with your actions, and the fact that you have that killer for a son.” Nelson said.
“ You know Wyoming is the primary on cattle prices. What were you thinking?” Hackett asked.
“ Slaughter houses will pay the ranchers in Wyoming more money for their cattle now because they are closer to Chicago. We needed that merger.” Porter said.
“ Lancer doesn’t need them. If they don’t want to buy cattle from California, then so be it.” Murdoch said.
“ Summers are getting hotter, and we are getting less rain. How am I supposed to pay my bills if I can’t sell my cattle?” Driscoll asked. “ Every one of us, you included have bills you pay off when you sell your cattle.”
“ I have ten thousand head of cattle. There are places that will buy them. More people are coming west. More mining camps and towns are springing up, and those people will need beef. We don’t need to ship our cattle to Chicago to sell them.” Murdoch explained.
“ Murdoch, I’m sorry to do this to you, but this is an injunction against you. It prevents you from selling your cattle or using the railway to haul them to market. You will no longer be able to use the stockyards, and are no longer a member of the California Cattle Growers Association.” Porter said as he handed the paper to Murdoch.
“ Get the hell off my land…….now!” Murdoch ordered as he snatched the paper from Porter.
Nelson stayed behind as the others rode off. “ I think you should know, Jake Mendoza sold his place. Someone lawyer from back east is handling the sale for whoever bought it.”
“ I hadn’t heard Jake was going to sell.” Murdoch said.
“ Times are changing Murdoch. Big time eastern money is buying up land out west. Whoever bought his place will control a lot of water to your spread, and others.” Nelson said. “ Jake sold out because his wife is ailing.”
“ Lancer will not be sold ever, and I won’t be intimidated either.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ You said you were going to find out why Porter left Wyoming. Did you?” he asked.
“ I never got the chance too.” Murdoch responded.
“ I expect not with both your sons showing up there. He could have killed you.” he said. “ I’ll see you Murdoch.”
Murdoch stormed back inside. Every day for the rest of his life he would be reminded whenever he looked in the mirror. The scar still fresh, would remind him forever. Whoever bought Jake’s place now controlled how he moved his herd, and three of the five continuous running streams that Lancer needed in the spring to fill the ponds, and lake.
“ Sounds like the wind is picking up out there.” Scott said.
“ Yeah. Could be a wet day for us tomorrow.” Johnny said as he stood up, and walked over to Barranca’ stall.
“ Where’s this place you were talking about buying for this horse ranch?” Cheyenne asked.
“ California.” Scott said as he removed his saddle. “ The property has been for sale for some time, and another rancher has wanted to sell out due to his wife’s health. Only thing is, the property is right next to our estranged fathers.”
“ Do you think that’s wise, given he did try and kill Johnny?” she asked.
“ I think that’s part of the reason he’s doing it.” Scott said.
“ Come again?” Cheyenne said as she started unsaddling Barranca.
“ To show him he doesn’t own Johnny. That he’s not afraid of him.” Scott responded.
“ Okay, let me ask you this. You guys start this ranch, what’s to stop him from doing something? I mean he’s going to know who bought the place when he sees you both back in town, or someone tells him.” she asked.
“ We’re not going to back down. Johnny has a way with a horse I have never seen anyone do before. When he broke Barranca here, he did it in such a way, he didn’t break his spirit. He talks softly to the horse. He watches how they move in the corral, and after about an hour of walking around, Barranca was following him, and letting him touch him. Three hours after he was in the corral, he was riding him.” Scott explained. “ I think if he can get some contracts with the army, he will do good. It’s going to be hard, backbreaking work, but I know together, we can do it.”
“ He really is a remarkable man Scott.” she said as she looked at Johnny in the stall with Barranca.
Sam Sixkiller rode into Fort Kearny with his two deputies, Paden Tolbert, and Frank West. After a week of tracking down two men. He was ready for some rest, and a hot bath.
“ You three look like you’re ready to fall asleep in the saddle.” Captain Weir said.
“ It’s been a long week.” Sam said.
“ I take it they wouldn’t come back alive?” the captain asked.
“ No. We tried, but they were liquored up, and there was no talking them into surrendering.” the marshal responded. “ Is Colonel French in?”
“ He is. He’s been waiting for you to return.” the captain said as he opened the door. “ Colonel, Marshal Sixkiller is back.”
“ Good, send him in captain.” the colonel said as he stood up.
“ Colonel French, the captain said you wanted to see me.” Sam Sixkiller said as he shook the colonels hand.
“ I’ll get straight to the point. Have you heard anything about an uprising?” the colonel asked.
“ Just that Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull have disappeared.” Sam Sixkiller said. “ Sitting Bull, is the spiritual leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota, and they say he reportedly had a vision of “soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky.”
“ I sent a wire to Washington apprising them of the situation out here.” the colonel said. “ I received this response yesterday. They want us to conduct a summer campaign to force the Lakota and the Cheyenne back to their reservations, using infantry and cavalry in a so-called “three-pronged approach”. They are also sending Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, and the 7th Cavalry Regiment out here to help with the situation.”
“ Situation colonel?” Sam asked.
“ Washington feels there is going to be a war, and a bad one sometime soon. Reports are coming in of tribes vanishing overnight. Attacks on settlers, and miners have increased. More and more whites are coming out west after gold, and land. Traveling across Indian land.”
“ I have to go to Crow Agency. A wanted killer named Apache has come back.” the marshal said.
“ Apache, didn’t he kill one of your deputies a couple years ago?” the colonel asked.
“ He did. Had a knife we didn’t know he had. He gutted my man so fast, he never seen it coming.” the marshal said. “ There’s supposed to be a man named Johnny Madrid tracking him.”
“ The gunfighter Madrid?” the colonel asked.
“ That’s what the wire said.” he responded. “ I guess Apache robbed the Wells Fargo stage a few months back with three other men.”
“ I seen Madrid once when I was at Fort Bowie. People say he’s a cold-blooded killer. Not what I seen that day. A man called him out, and Madrid tried talking him out of it. Gave him every chance to walk away.” Colonel French said.
“ I’ve heard of Madrid, but never seen him. What’s he look like?” the marshal asked.
“ A half-breed. Mexican mother, white man father.” the colonel responded. “ He’s the fastest, and deadliest I have ever seen.”
“ I hope he knows how deadly Apache is, both with his knife, and a gun.” Sam said.
“When will you be leaving?” Colonel French asked.
“ Day after tomorrow. Our horses need a rest, and I know my two deputies could too.” he responded.
Cheyenne woke around four to the sound of rain pelting the roof, and the wind howling. Getting up, she seen Scott was sound asleep, but Johnny’s sleeping bag was empty. Standing up, she seen him standing at the door, looking out at the storm. Picking up her blanket, she walked up behind him, she wrapped the blanket around him. “ You okay?” she asked softly.
“ All I ever wanted growing up was to have what I seen the other kids have….I remember this one time when I was five or six, I asked my mother what happened to my father, why he wasn’t with us, You know what she told me?” he asked as he turned around to face her. “ She told me he threw us out in the middle of the night. That he had got drunk, beat her, told her to leave, and to take her bastard son with her.” he said softly before walking over to sit on a bale of hay. “ For five years he made me feel like his son. Oh sure we had our disagreements, and poor Scott was caught in the middle sometimes, but…..he never once made me think what my mother told me that night was true. I came real close to pulling the trigger on him the night he beat me, and again in Cheyenne.”
“ What stopped you?” she asked.
“ I’ve never crossed the line. I’ve never hit rock bottom, and I vowed I never would.” Johnny said.
Marshal Sam Sixkiller, and Colonel French watched as three riders rode thru the fort gate, stopped, and asked a soldier something, then rode toward them.
“ You must be Madrid?” the marshal asked. “ I received a wire that you were tracking a man named Apache.”
“ I am. I’ve been tracking him from Arizona, along with three other men.” Johnny said as they dismounted. “ I caught up to two of them, the Hill brothers in Cheyenne. The other one I left in jail in Denver, but he tried to escape after I left, and was shot down. Apache is the only one left.”
“ He’s up at Crow Agency, Madrid. Getting to him could be dangerous for you.” the marshal said. “ I’m heading up there in the morning with my two deputies. You’re welcome to ride along.”
“ Is there a blacksmith here?” Cheyenne asked. “My horse has a loose shoe.”
“ Over there at the barn.” the marshal responded.
“ About how far is it to Crow Agency marshal?” Scott asked.
“ Hundred miles. We can be there in three days.” he said. “ If you need supplies, the store is open. It will have all you will need.”
“ Why don’t you go with the marshal, and I’ll get what supplies we need.” Scott suggested.
Johnny handed his reins to Scott, and followed the marshal inside.
“ Cup of coffee?” Sam asked.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said. “ What is it you want to talk to me about marshal?”
“ I suggest you leave the matter to the marshal, and Indian affairs.” he said as he handed Johnny a cup of coffee.
“ I can’t do that.” Johnny said.
“ You do realize you have no jurisdiction on Indian land, that me and my deputies are the only law there?” the marshal asked.
“ I do. That’s why I came to you instead of going on marshal.” Johnny said.
“ Is Apache the one who shot you?” he asked.
“ No. Logan Hill shot me … twice, and left me for dead. I spent a month healing up.” Johnny responded.
“ I hear you’re fast with that colt on your hip. It seems the colonel knows you. He seen you kill a man when he was at Fort Bowie.” Marshal Sixkiller said.
“ I’m good.” Johnny said.
“ You know Apache is as fast, maybe even faster than you!” he said. “ Are you willing to be killed over stolen money?”
“ Look, Marshal Sixkiller, I was hired to guard that money, Apache, and the other three stole it, shot me, ad left me for dead. I don;t like people putting holes in my body.”
“ I understand that, but you said Logan Hill shot you, and you killed him in Cheyenne.” he said. “ So if he’s dead, why go after Apache?”
“ Why do you go after men?” Johnny responded back asking.
“ Because it’s my job. I’m going after Apache because he killed one of my deputies a few years ago. I have no jurisdiction outside Indian territory, so when he left the reservation, and went south, I couldn’t go after him.” Sam explained.
Murdoch rode over to see his longtime friend Agatha Conway. Dismounting, he walked up the steps just as she came out onto the porch.
“ Murdoch, what brings you here?” she asked.
“ I haven’t seen you around for some time, so I thought I would ride over, and see if you are okay.” he said.
“ I’m fine.” Agatha said. “ I heard what happened in Cheyenne. I also heard what you did to Johnny. How you ran that boy away from the only real home he has ever had.”
“ He was reckless, irresponsible, and lazy.” Murdoch said. “ I tried numerous times to get it thru that boys head….”
“ By beating him. Oh I heard, and the whole valley knows how you fractured his jaw from beating him. We also know how you tried to kill your own son in Cheyenne. What in gods name is wrong with you?” Aggie said, and demanded.
“ You see this?” Murdoch asked pointing to the scar on his left cheek. “ That bastard shot me.”
“ Yes, I heard. I also heard how you had your gun pointed at him when he walked out of the barn, and the awful things you said to him. I’m surprised he didn’t kill you.” she said.
“ He cost me a lot of money with what he did to Lancer.” he said with anger.
“ What you cost him is a lot more.” she said. “ Murdoch Lancer, we have known each other for many years. Since before my Henry died. You are my oldest, and dearest friend, so it pains me to say this to you. You are no longer welcome at the Conway ranch. I don’t wish to speak to you, see you, or be seen in public with you ever again.” Agatha said before going back inside her house.
“ Sixkiller! How’d you get that name?” Johnny asked two days later as they sat eating supper along the Powder river.
“ According to legend, it came from a fight between the Creeks and the Cherokee where one of my ancestors killed six men before being killed himself, and ever since the name has been passed down.” he explained.
“ Your two deputies, they not like our company?” Cheyenne asked.
“ No ma’am, that’s not why they camp out away from us. It’s better to be spread apart with only one fire.” Sam responded. “ Makes it a little safer in Indian country.”
“ Makes sense.” Scott said. “ That’s what General Sheridan had his men do.”
“ Sheridan, you fought in the war?” the marshal asked.
“ Yes sir I did.” Scott said.
“ So did I. My first year I was eighteen, and fought for the confederacy. When I turned nineteen, I decided to switch sides, and fought with my father, Lieutenant Red Bird Sixkiller. He was a Cherokee man, and my mother was a white woman.” he said.
“ Are you married marshal?” Cheyenne asked.
“ I am married to a beautiful woman three years now, and expecting our first child.” Sam said. “ Fannie Floria Foreman Sixkiller.”
“ I’d like kids some day.” Johnny said as he looked at Cheyenne.
“ How’d you get the name Cheyenne?” the marshal asked.
“ My mother and father met in Cheyenne. My mother said it was love at first sight for them both when he walked into the diner she was working at. He courted her a month, they got married, packed up, and moved to Tucson.” she said.
“ Is that where they’re at now?” he asked.
Cheyenne stood up. “ They’re dead. They were murdered four years ago.” she said before walking away.
“ The Hill brothers, and a man named Sandy Carter killed them. She’s spent the last three years hunting them down.” Johnny said.
“ So she’s not your wife?” he asked.
“ No.” Johnny said as he looked at his brother. “ Not yet.” he added.
“ Don’t see many women wearing a gun. If she did what you say, I wouldn’t let her get away from you Madrid. A strong, determined woman like that don’t come along often.” the marshal said. “ That’s what made me fall in love with my wife. She’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with me if I needed her too.”
“ Like you and Cheyenne did facing the Hill brothers in Cheyenne.” Scott said.
“ Listen, have you two thought about what you’re going to do when this is over? I could use a couple of determined, good men like you.” the marshal said.
“ Sorry but we have something waiting for us marshal.” Johnny said as Cheyenne walked back over to the fire, and sat down. He could tell she had been crying.
Murdoch handed his hat, and coat to the footman. “ Would you please tell the governor Murdoch Lancer is here to see him?”
“ Very well sir. Please wait here, and I will announce you.” the butler said.
Murdoch looked around the room at fine Victorian furniture, and marveled at the beautiful furnishings placed all around the room. The high backed, plush chairs, and the wide, high backed couches.
“ Murdoch, I didn’t know you were coming.” Governor Stoneman said as he walked out, and shook his hand. “ What brings you here?”
“ I have a favor to ask of you George. Can we speak in private?” Murdoch said.
“ Certainly. I have a meeting I must attend in about an hour at the capitol. Step into my office.” the governor said as they walked into his office. “ What can I do for you?”
“ It would seem someone from back east has bought up two ranches that border Lancer. The one ranch provides water to Lancer in the summer when it’s crucial.” Murdoch said.
“ And you want to know who bought the land, and what their intentions are?” he asked.
“ I know you’re a busy man, but yes. Anything you can find out about the person, or persons would be greatly appreciated.” Murdoch said.
“ I make no promises, but I’ll see what I can find out, and let you know.” the governor said. “ How’s your boys doing?”
“ They left Lancer. Wanted nothing to do with it anymore.” Murdoch said. “ They couldn’t handle the hard work, especially Johnny.”
“ I’m sorry to hear. I know how long you searched for Johnny to bring him home. Do you know where he’s at?” the governor said, and asked.
“ He went back to living by his gun in Mexico.” Murdoch said, knowing it was a lie. “ Maybe we can have dinner together before I go back?”
“ I’d love to Murdoch, but I have just way too much I have to take care of.” he said.
“ I understand. Thank you for your time George. It was good seeing you again.” Murdoch said as they walked toward the front door, and the footman handed him his hat, and coat.
Johnny, Scott, and Cheyenne waited outside the Indian affairs office with the two deputies in Crow Agency, as Marshal Sixkiller talked inside with the man in charge. Several Indians stood not far away looking at the three, pointing, and talking amongst themselves.
“ I don’t like this brother.” Scott said.
“ They’re talking about her.” Johnny said. “ They’ve never seen a woman dressed like she is. Let alone wearing a gun.”
“ You understand what they’re saying?” Cheyenne asked.
“ They are wondering if you belong to one of us, and how many ponies it would take to buy you.” Deputy West said before talking to them.
“ Tell them no amount of ponies can buy my woman.” Johnny said.
Deputy West walked over and talked to the men a few minutes.“ They say every white man has a price.” he said as he walked back over.
“ Well see deputy, that’s a problem right there. I’m not a white man, I’m a mestizo.” Johnny said as he stepped over next to Cheyenne.
“ What’s he saying now deputy?” she asked.
“ He’s saying you would be good to keep him warm at night, and give him many sons.” Deputy Tolbert said.
“ Perhaps her riding in here wasn’t such a good idea.” Deputy West said as the marshal, and another man came outside.
“ Something wrong?” the marshal asked.
“ Seems the woman has a buck interested in her.” Tolbert responded.
“ Johnny, this is Eli Parker. He’s in charge of Crow Agency.” the marshal said before walking over to the buck interested in Cheyenne, and talking to him for a minute.
“ Mister Madrid, the man you are looking for rode out yesterday after he sliced a young lady up, and killed three troopers. It seems she turned down his advances toward her. He was drunk on whiskey, and from what I could learn, she laughed at him over something. He came out of the hotel over there where the troopers tried to stop him, and shot them down.” Eli explained.
“ I’m afraid you can’t go after him now Madrid. It’s a matter for Indian affairs, and the army. He committed a murder on Indian land.” the marshal said firmly. “ Colonel John Gibbon’s and the 2nd Company are after him.”
“ So that’s it. I’ve rode all this way for nothing?” Johnny asked with anger.
“ I’m sorry. If you choose to continue after him, you will be arrested by the army, and I don’t think you want that happening.” Marshal Sixkiller said.
Johnny looked at the marshal. “ I understand you have laws. Listen, it’s been a pleasure knowing you Sixkiller. You’re a good man.” he said as he extended his hand. “ Let me know if they catch him, or he’s killed.”
“ And I have to say, it’s been a pleasure meeting you too Madrid, and I will.” he said as they shook hands. “ Scott, Cheyenne, you take care.”
“ Now what?” Cheyenne asked.
“ We ride back to Cheyenne, where I procure us three tickets on the train to California, and before you say it little brother, yes I will secure travel in a car for Barranca.” Scott said.
“ Train ride to California sounds good. Barranca could use the rest.” Johnny said.
Murdoch sat down at his desk, and started going thru the mail. Mostly bills coming due since it was the end of the month. One letter caught his attention though. Picking it up, he recognized the handwriting, and opened it.
Three weeks ago you came to me asking me to see if I could find out who bought land bordering your spread. You were right, a lawyer from back east did make the purchase of the two ranches, the Jake Mendoza spread, and the old Simple place. Upon investigation, this lawyer used to work for a man named Harlan Garrett, who passed away last year. It would seem his grandson, a Scott Garrett is the man who bought the land. I was unable to find out what his intentions are with the land, but knowing you, I expect you will be able to find out soon enough. Just remember my friend, do things the legal way.
Governor George Stoneman
Murdoch set the letter down, stood up, and walked over to the sideboard. The veins in his forehead, and neck clearly showing as his anger built.
“ What the hell are you doing Scott?” Murdoch said with anger. “ If you and that half-breed bastard think you can squeeze me, you have another thing coming. I’ll have my attorney block you from doing anything that affects the running of this ranch.”
Johnny, Scott, and Cheyenne stopped at the train depot in Cheyenne, and dismounted. Scott walked up to the window, talked to the ticket agent, and pointed toward his brother. After a few minutes, he took out his billfold, and removed some money.
“ You having second thoughts?” Johnny asked Cheyenne.
“ If you mean about being with you, and going to California with you, no I’m not.” she said. “ I told you, I love you Johnny. I would have to be a fool to let you get away from me.”
“ You love me enough to marry me while we’re here?” he asked.
“ Yes I do.” she said with a smile.
Johnny stepped closer, smiled, and kissed her gently on the lips as Scott walked back over to them.
“ I hate to interrupted the moment little brother, but I procured our travels. The only problem is, the train we need with a livestock car won’t be leaving for two days.” Scott said.
“ That’s alright.” Johnny said. “ I’m gonna need you to be my best man big brother.”
“ You don’t say. Congratulations. I would be honored. You two want to get married here in Cheyenne?” he asked.
“ You have blue-coats looking for you nephew.” Devaj said.
“ They been here uncle?” Apache asked.
“ Yes, they have been here nephew. I do not want trouble with the blue-coats, so you must leave.” Devaj said.
“ You won’t help me?” Apache asked.
“ No, You killed a woman, and blue-coats. Go now.” he ordered. “ Go before you bring more shame to our people.”
Apache swung back up on his horse, looked at his uncle, sadness in his eyes.
“ Ride west, and don’t stop until you reach the ocean nephew. West of the great Rockies is the only place you will be safe.” his uncle said as he watched his nephew ride away.
“ Johnny Madrid!” Dan Tucker yelled.
“ Not him again.” Cheyenne said.
“ Who is he?” Scott asked.
“ He called me out when we were in Pueblo.” Johnny said. “ Stay here.”
“ The local sheriff there stopped it, and Tucker said he would meet Johnny again.” Cheyenne said. “I made a mistake in interfering. Telling him Johnny wasn’t interested in the possible range war brewing here. Boy did I ever get a chewing out later after we left town. I won’t make that mistake again.”
“ Scott.” Johnny said as he pulled his colt, spun the cylinder, and slid it back in the holster.
“ I got your back brother.” Scott said.
“We both do.” Cheyenne added.
Johnny stepped out into the street. “I’m leaving town tomorrow Dan. We don’t have to do this.”
“ Yeah we do Madrid. You see, I’ve been hearing about how you gunned down two men right here on this street not long ago.” Dan said.
“ Somebody go get Mayor Carey.” someone said.
“ This is why we need law and order in this town.” another man said.
Harley Sullivan, and Corey Bannister walked out of the Cheyenne Social Club, and stopped. “ Isn’t that Murdoch Lancer’s pup?” Harley asked.
“ Yeah. Looks like he’s about to kill another man.” Corey said.
“ We need to get some law in this town.” Harley said as Mayor Carey walked up to them. “ Mayor, we need to get a lawman in this town.”
“ I plan on addressing that very subject at the next meeting.” Corey said.
“ Let’s not do this Dan. I don’t want to kill you, and you don’t want to be dead.” Johnny said.
“ You’re the one going to die Madrid. Maybe after I’ll show that woman your with what a real man is like in a bed.” he said before spitting out his tobacco, and wiping his chin on his sleeve.
Johnny seen the sign he was watching for, and drew his colt, firing one shot, hitting Dan in the chest.
Dan felt a sharp pain as he went for his gun, sure he’d beat Madrid. Looking down, he watched in horror as a red stain started spreading across his chest. Looking at Madrid as he dropped to his knees, and fell forward dead.
Johnny slowly holstered his colt, turned, and walked over to his new bride, and brother.
“ You gave him every chance to walk away brother.” Scott said.
“ Madrid, I want a word with you.” Mayor Carey said.
“ Look little man, I heard what you, and the others were saying. I gave that man every chance to walk away.” Johnny said.
“ I want you to leave our town.” the mayor ordered.
“ We’re doing just that in the morning.” he said.
“ Good. We don’t need any more men killed by you on our streets.” he said.
“ I’ll pay whatever it cost to bury the Hill brothers, and I’ll pay for Dan Tucker’s also.” Johnny said as he took out some money, grabbed the mayors hand, and slapped the money into it. “ I pay my debts.” he said before walking away.
Murdoch dismounted in front of his attorneys office, and walked inside. “ Mister Randall.”
“ Murdoch, what can I do for you?” Randall asked.
“ I need to know my rights toward stopping the new owner of Jake Mendoza’s place, and the old Simple place from blocking the water I desperately need in late summer?” Murdoch asked.
“ I heard someone from back east bought them. That’s quite a bit of land. Half the size of Lancer I believe.” he said.
“ Yes. I know who bought it, and I want to know my legal rights?” he said.
“ Does the water come from the Simple place?” he asked.
“ It does. It comes from Cantua creek that’s fed by the San Joaquin river.” Murdoch responded.
“ I’m afraid there is really nothing you can do if the new owner decides to dam it up. The law is clear on that. As long as the owner has legal right to the water, he can do what he wants on his property.” Randall explained. “ Do you also get water from the Mendoza spread?”
‘ No, I drive my cattle across the property to get them to the pens.” he said.
“ I see. Well maybe you can work something out with the owner. Say maybe pay him to cross his land. But I caution you Murdoch, the new owner can fence off that section of property leaving you no choice but to go around.” Randall responded. “ Do you know who the new owner is?”
“ Scott.” he said with anger.
“ Your son Scott?” he asked.
“ Yes. Why I don’t know, unless his……”
“ What?” Randall asked.
“ Madrid! He had to put him up to it. He did all that damage to Lancer when he left. Burning down my two line-shacks, cutting my fences, and stampeding my cattle.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Murdoch, do you have proof Johnny did this?” Randall asked.
“ Yes, he did it the night he left. He even told Sam what he did.” he said.” I confronted him in Cheyenne about it, and he told me I should be grateful he didn’t burn me out.”
“ You can press charges against him for destruction of private property, and he can be ordered to pay the loss for the cattle. How many did he stampede?” he said, and asked.
“ He stampeded two thousand head. It took over a month to round them up.”
“ How many head did you lose?”
“ About a hundred head.”
“ That’s about two thousand dollars. Do you have the bills for all the fence repair you had to have done? Just the fence he cut, and last years taxes on the two line-shacks?” Randall asked.
“ I have all that in a file at the ranch. Do you really think you can make him pay?” he asked.
“ That depends on how you want him to pay.” he said.
“ What do you mean?” Murdoch asked.
“ Well, do you want compensated for your losses, or do you want him to go to prison. You know by law, he could be hung for the cattle. What he did is the same as rustling them, even though he didn’t keep them.” Randall explained. “ The question I have for you, and it’s an important one. Was Johnny still a third owner of Lancer when he did this?”
“ No. He signed over his third to me before he left that night.” Murdoch responded. “ Why?”
“ You didn’t bring the agreement in to me until after Scott left, eight months later.” Randall said. “ Until it was filed he is no longer a third owner, I’m afraid you won’t be able to do anything to him.”
“ What!” Murdoch demanded.
“ I’m sorry Murdoch. All he did was cost you money. Money that is also his. The law is clear on this. There isn’t a court anywhere that will prosecute him for what he did. All you can do is demand payment for what he cost you.” Randall explained.
Murdoch snatched up his hat, and opened the door. “ I won’t see a dime from that bastard.”
“ You can get a court order making him pay.” Randall said. “ It’s all I can do Murdoch.”
“ Draw up the charges, and whatever you need. I’ll make that sonofabitch pay. One way or another, he will pay.” Murdoch said before leaving.
“ I think I’ll go check on Barranca.” Johnny said as he stood up, and headed to the back of the train.
“ He’s been pretty quiet since Cheyenne. Is he always like that after?” she asked.
“ Pretty much.” Scott said. “ He tries to talk them out of it, but as you seen, it never works.”
“ How many men has he killed?” she asked.
“ That I do not know. One thing I do know, every one of those dead men haunt his dreams at night sometimes.” Scott responded.
“ Can I ask you why he wants to keep Barranca? I mean, would having that horse keep reminding him of what he had, and lost?” she asked.
“ I think Johnny keeps Barranca to remind him mainly of what he had more than what he lost.” Scott said. “ See, I know he would never admit it, but I feel my little brother thinks he is not worthy enough to have a life like I had. You know, a life of not wondering if he will have food to eat, clothes on his back, or a roof over his head. Those three reasons I believe are the main reason he started using a gun. Most of the Pinkerton reports on him state he would hire out most times for just food in his belly.”
“ So what’s California like?” she asked.
“ Green with big tall oak trees, and wildflowers everywhere in the spring, and early summer. Summers can be pretty hot, fall is wet, and winter, damn cold, and the snow can be deep.” Scott responded.
Murdoch sat at his desk going over the receipts from expenses to repair the damage Johnny had done the night he left. The words from his lawyer running thru his mind, building his anger. Pouring another cup of coffee, he leaned back in his chair. “ I’ll fix you….I’ll fix both of you.” he said. “ I’ll teach you what happens when you mess with Murdoch Lancer.” he spat as he put pen to paper, and set about writing two letters. When he was finished, he read what he wrote, folded the papers, and stuck them in an envelope addressed to the Sacramento Union, and Sacramento Bee newspapers. He knew what would happen doing what he was about to do, but he didn’t care anymore. After-all, he called the tune, not them.
Agatha Conway sat on her porch reading the Sacramento Bee. Turning the page she glanced at advertisements looking for the date of the next auction when a small article on the left side caught her attention. Reading it both shocked, and angered her.
To the people of the San Joaquin valley, and beyond, there is a danger living amongst us. As a resident of this valley for almost forty years, I feel the need to tell you that a dangerous man has acquired property in the valley. This man is a known gunfighter, and a cold-blooded killer. His name is Johnny Madrid, and he has purchased the old Simple place, and Jake Mendoza’s spread. A year ago Madrid stampeded two thousand head of my cattle, cut almost all my fences, and burned down two of my line-shacks. If this man is allowed to live in this valley, he will bring nothing but danger, and death to the good citizens of Morro Coyo, Green River, and Spanish Wells. Most of you know my ranch is the biggest in the San Joaquin, and know me, Murdoch Lancer.
“ What in god’s name is wrong with you Murdoch Lancer?” she asked herself. “ Your own son.”
Aggie dismounted, and stormed into the great room at Lancer. “ Have you gone stark raving mad?” she demanded.
“ What are you doing here?” Murdoch demanded as he stood up.
“ How could you do this to your own son?” she asked.
“ He’s not my son. He never was.” he responded as he walked around his desk. “What I said in that is the truth. Look how many men he’s killed in the five years he was here. He comes back here, and more men will die.”
“ Murdoch Lancer, do you want your son dead? Would that make you happy?” Agatha demanded.
“ I want him to pay for what he did to me……to this ranch.”
“ To this ranch. That’s all you have ever cared about isn’t it….your precious ranch. You don’t care who you hurt as long as you have your ranch.” she said. “ Well let me tell you something, there will no longer be Lancer cattle allowed across my land…ever.”
“ Get the hell out of my house!” Murdoch yelled.
“ Oh I’m going. I’m also going to contact both papers, and tell them that what they printed is nothing but lies about that boy.” Agatha said before storming out.
“Johnny Madrid!” a man said from the darkness. “ I can drop you dead where you sit boy. Same with those other two with ya!”
Johnny slowly set his plate of food down. “ Whatever you do, don’t move, or do anything,” he ordered as he slowly stood up, and kept his hands away from his sides.
“ Johnny, who is it?” Scott asked.
“ Don’t move Scott.” Johnny said as the man walked out of the darkness.
“ You’re being a might careless letting a man come up on you like that.” the man said.
“ I heard you coming” Johnny said as he walked closer to the man.
“ How the hell are ya kid?” Red asked as they shook hands.
“ I’m good.” Johnny said. “ Scott, Cheyenne, this is an old range fighting friend of mine, Red Butler.” Johnny said.
“ Your what?” Red said with shock.
“ You heard me. What brings you up this way?” Johnny asked.
“ Coming back from the gold fields up north.” Red said as he sat down. “ I’m sorry about how I announced myself. “ It’s a little thing between me and the kid. I read about you in the paper. Had yourself a gunfight in Cheyenne.”
“ It was nothing.” Johnny said.
“ This happen to be the beautiful lady they wrote about?” he asked.
“ She is. She’s also my wife.” Johnny said.
“ You don’t say. Well, I have a long way to go. I’ll see you kid.” Red said as he walked to his horse.
“ You going back down south?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah. Been away too long.” he responded as he mounted up. “ You take care of yourself kid.”
“ You too Red.” Johnny said as he watched Red ride off into the darkness.
“ What town is this?” Cheyenne asked.
“ Green River. We’ll spend the night here. We have a good friend we want to see.” Johnny said as they stopped outside Sam’s office, and dismounted.
“ Your good friend is a doctor. Most people stay away from doctors.” she asked.
“ Sam is more than a doctor to us. He delivered Johnny.” Scott said.
Johnny walked up to the door, and opened it.
“ I’ll be right there.” Sam said from the back. “ Can’t a man eat his supper without being disturbed?” Sam grumbled as he walked into the room, stopped, and stood there in shock.
“ Hello Sam.” Johnny said.
“ Oh my lord, what are you doing back here?” Sam said.
“ We thought we would stop and see you.” Johnny said as he shook Sam’s hand. “ Is something wrong?”
“ I just wasn’t expecting to see you.” Sam said. “ Come on back into the kitchen. I was about to fix me some supper.”
“ Why don’t you let us buy you supper tonight Sam?” Scott asked.
“ Alright. A lot has happened lately that you need to know about. Especially you Johnny.” Sam said.
“ Sam, I’d like you to meet my wife, Cheyenne, this is Sam Jenkins.” Johnny said.
“ Your wife? Well I’ll be. It’s nice to meet you Cheyenne. Johnny, there’s something you need to read before we leave.” Sam said as he went to his desk, and took out the newspaper. “ This article appeared in the Sacramento Bee yesterday.”
Johnny took the paper. “ What am I looking for Sam?” he asked.
“ Last page on the inside.” Sam said.
“ What the hell!” Johnny said loudly. “ Has he gone mad?”
“ What?” Scott asked.
Johnny handed him the newspaper.
“ Why? What in god’s name is wrong with him?” Scott asked.
“ That’s not the half of it. It would seem because of whatever he did in Cheyenne, it cost him dearly. He has been removed from the California Stock Growers, banned from the pens to ship his cattle. He’s been drinking, and lost a lot of friends in the valley. Now I don’t know if this is true, but word is he went to see his lawyer about making you pay for what you did the night you left.” Sam said. “ And don’t think you have escaped his wrath Scott.”
Cheyenne read the article. “ Johnny, didn’t you tell me you owned a third of Lancer?”
“ Yeah, I signed it back over to him that night in exchange for Barranca.” he said.
“ Scott, when you left, did you also sign over your third of Lancer to him?” she asked.
“ I did. I wanted nothing to do with it.” Scott said.
“ Did you notice if it was the original agreement, or had he had it changed to just you and him as owners?” she asked.
“ I know where you are going with this.” Scott said. “ Yes, I believe it was the original since I wasn’t here at the time to sign it.”
“ This happened to my father. The man who wanted our land slandered him all over Tucson.” Cheyenne said. “ Johnny, your father can be charged with defamation of character.”
“ She’s right brother. Murdoch doing this is against the law.” Scott said.
“ Look, I can’t think right now. Let’s stable the horses, get our rooms for the night, and go have some supper.” Johnny said.
“ You go on with Sam to the diner. We’ll stable the horses, ad get us rooms for the night.” Scott said.
“ So you got married. How on earth did the two of you meet?” Sam asked as they sat drinking coffee in the diner.
Johnny told Sam how he met Cheyenne, and how they found the two men in Cheyenne responsible for her parents murder.
“ What are you not telling me John?” Sam asked after.
“ He was there….in Cheyenne. We were leaving the next morning, and I led Barranca, and the pack horse out of the barn. He pulled his gun on me when I walked out. We argued…he said some pretty horrible things about my mother. Calling her a whore, and saying she used him. Then I seen it in his eyes, I seen he was going to pull the trigger, so I drew, and shot him just before his gun went off. I gave him a reminder of me he will see every time he looks in a mirror for the rest of his life.” Johnny said.
“ He shot you didn’t he?” Sam asked.
“ Left side. You know, it took everything I had to not kill him that day Sam.” Johnny responded.
“ So why have you come back here?” Sam asked as Scott, and Cheyenne walked in, and joined them.
“ Scott bought Jake Mendoza’s spread, and the old Simple place. We’re going to turn it into a horse ranch.” Johnny said.
“ You know, there’s one way you can really anger Murdoch, and there is nothing he can do about it.” Sam said.
“ What?” Scott asked.
“ Use your birthright name of Lancer. Both you boys were born Lancer. Register the property under the Lancer name.” Sam suggested.
“ No, I want nothing to do with him, or that name.” Johnny said.
“ Alright. I can understand that, but what about her? What about your new wife, and any children you two have? You know what the Madrid name means.” Sam said.
“ I married Johnny knowing the risk. I proudly took his last name of Madrid, and our children will also.” Cheyenne said firmly.
“ You are a spunky one. Does she were a dress?” Sam said, and asked.
“ She did for me twice, and I have to say, both times she was beautiful Sam.” Johnny said with a smile.
Johnny stopped outside the house at the Mendoza spread, and dismounted. “ We’ll unload the pack-horses after we take a look around.”
“Why don’t you two go check out the house, while I check the barn, and other buildings out.” Scott suggested.
“ Sounds good.” Johnny said as he tied his pack-horse up, and took Cheyenne’s to tie up also.
“ Care to see the inside of your home Mrs. Madrid?” Johnny asked as he took her hand in his, and kissed the back of it.
“ I would love too Mister Madrid.” Cheyenne responded.
Scott opened the barn door, and found cobwebs starting from the loft floor, down the beams. Looking around the floor, he could tell, and smell the musty, moldy hay, and straw that would have to be raked out, and burned so the stock didn’t eat it. Walking over, he checked the ladder to the loft, and found it was sound. Climbing up, he walked around, looking at the hay that was left. The loose hay seemed good enough to be used. He couldn’t see, or smell any mold. Climbing back down the ladder, he started checking the stalls, and found a couple that would need repaired, along with the hinges on the side door, and back door. Opening the door to the small room, he found it full of tools Jake left for repairing, along with a barrel of nails, and a couple spools of barbed wire. Walking outside, he walked over to the other smaller barn to see what Jake kept in it. When he opened the door, he was shocked to find it full of post, and lumber, enough lumber to build corrals. Feeling something rub against his right leg, he looked down to find an orange tabby cat looking up at him.
“ Why hello. I bet you are hungry. ” he said as he bent down to pet the cat. “ Well, I don’t have anything I can feed you right now.” he said as he watched her go to the wood pile, and four little kittens came out to greet her. “ Oh boy. I’ll see what I can get you to eat.”
Johnny, and Cheyenne walked around the downstairs of the house. Pump still works in the kitchen, so that’s good. Stove is good for heat, and cooking. I’ll get the fireplace cleaned out, and checked before we use it.” Johnny said.
“ This place is so big. The house I lived in in Tucson would fit inside the downstairs.” Cheyenne said. “ How many bedrooms are there?”
“ The one big one downstairs, and I’m not sure about upstairs. Let’s go see.” Johnny said as he took her hand, and started upstairs.
“ Look at the size of these rooms Johnny. I’ve never seen bedrooms so big.” she said as they walked into the first room.
Johnny walked over to the window, and looked out to see his brother walking toward the farthest shed to check. “ Looks like Scott found a friend.” he said.
Cheyenne walked over to look. “ A cat is good to have for mice.” she said.
“ So what do you think of your house?” Johnny asked as they looked at the other upstairs rooms.
“ I love it almost as much as I love you.” Cheyenne said.
Scott walked over and checked the chicken coop out, and found the chicken wire, and some of the pen fence would need totally replaced due to rot. The chicken house roof seemed sound, and with a little cleaning would be good for about a dozen good hens, and a rooster.
Looking around, he seen a wagon had been left under the lean-too off the barn. Walking over, he checked it out, and found it in good condition. He knew the old Simple place would be a whole different matter when they went to check it out. The place has been empty since before him, and Johnny came to the valley.
Tulsa Jack , and Dynamite Dan Clifton sat in the saloon in Green River drinking beer.
“ So how we gonna find out where Madrid’s ranch is at?” Tulsa Jack asked.
“ We’ll play it cool for a while, wait, and watch. Madrid is bound to show himself in town eventually.” Dynamite Dan responded. “ And when he does, I’m going to blow a hole in that sonofabitch, killing him once and for all.”
“ What about the law?” Tulsa Jack asked.
“ Don’t matter if there’s law or not. I’m going to kill him for what he done to our old man in Texas. I swore on his grave I would find Madrid, and make him pay, and that’s exactly what I am going to do!” Dynamite Dan said.
“ We, brother. We will both make him pay for our old man’s death. Madrid may not have put a bullet in him, but it’s because of him he’s dead.” Tulsa Jack said as he stood up. “ I think I’m going to go upstairs and get rid of some of this stress I have.”
“ Just you keep your mouth shut to that whore about why we’re here.” Dynamite ordered. “ Fuck her, and leave. I don’t want word getting to Madrid that we’re gunning for him.”
“ Don’t worry, I won’t say anything to her. Took us too long to find that half-breed killer to spook him now.” Tulsa said before walking away.
“ Real soon Madrid. Real soon you will die, and it won’t be a fast. I’m going to make you bleed a slow death.” Dynamite said.
“ You two going to be alright here?” Scott asked.
“ We’ll be fine. I’ll do the repairs to that chicken coop, and help Cheyenne clean up inside so it’s ready for when you get back tomorrow.” Johnny said.
“” Remember Scott, buy Andalusian chickens. They lay large eggs, are big in size for meat, and won’t stray.” Cheyenne said.
“ The lady knows her chickens.” Scott said as he climbed up in the wagon.
“ Take care of this team. I don’t want to get on Mrs Conway’s bad side.” Johnny said.
“ I’ll see you in two days brother.” Scott said as he slapped the reins, and the team pulled out.
Johnny, and Cheyenne stood there watching Scott disappear down the road.
“ I better go get started on that chicken coop.” Johnny said.
Murdoch rode into Green River, and could feel the people on the street staring at him as he rode past. He knew it was because of the article in the paper.
“ Murdoch Lancer, I need a word with you.” Randall said.
Murdoch turned his horse, and rode over to the man.
“ Come inside.” Randall said before turning to open his door.
“ You’re a cold-hearted bastard Murdoch Lancer!” someone yelled as he dismounted.
Jim Pierpoint walked out of the bank, and over toward him. “ Murdoch, I need a word with you.”
“ I was on my way to see you, when Randall stopped me. I’ll be to the bank when I’m finished here.” Murdoch said before walking into Randall’s office, and closing the door.
“ Have you gone mad?” Randall demanded. “ I told you by law there was nothing that could be done.”
“ I take it you are talking about the article in the paper?” Murdoch asked.
“ That is exactly what I am talking about Murdoch.” he said as he sat down at his desk. “ Do you want to lose Lancer?”
“ I’m not going to lose Lancer.” Murdoch responded. “ Lancer is a sound, financial investment, and always has been.”
“ No longer.” Randall said. “ Are those your exact words in that article?”
“ Yes. I think the good people of this valley have a right to know about Madrid, and the danger they are in with him living here.” he said.
“ Murdoch, do you even realize what you have done by writing that letter, and having it printed?” he asked. “ Do you know what defamation of character is? Because that is exactly what you have done against your son.”
“ He’s not my son!” Murdoch said with anger.
“ You may say he’s not, but it’s your blood that runs thru his veins. Scott’s too. By writing that letter, you opened yourself up to be sued by Johnny for defamation of character.” Randall said.
“ He’s a gunfighter…a cold-blooded killer, and we don’t need him here.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ It doesn’t matter. The law clearly states that a person cannot, and I repeat, they cannot slander another person. I told you all the legal pertaining to your situation last week. Johnny has grounds now to sue you, and it could all come out in court about how you beat him, fractured his jaw. How you were even going to beat your other son Scott.” Randall explained. “ I’ve been your attorney for a long time, and it pains me to say this, but I cannot represent you, or Lancer any longer. There are a lot of angry people in this town, People angry at you, and it’s your own fault.”
Murdoch jerked the door open. “ Send me a bill.” he said before storming out. Mounting his horse, he rode out of town without going to see what Jim at the bank wanted.
Cheyenne sat on the porch watching the kittens playing when she heard a rider approaching. Standing up, she walked over to the door, and picked up the scatter gun Johnny had her keep there.
“ You’re not welcome here.” she said. “ Get off our land.”
“ Where is he? ” Murdoch demanded.
“ You think I’m going to tell you where my husband’s at so you can shoot him again, you’re wrong.” Cheyenne said. “ Get off our land now!”
“ You tell Madrid that If he does anything to stop the flow of water onto Lancer land, It will be the biggest mistake he ever makes.” Murdoch ordered.
“ The biggest mistake Johnny ever made was thinking you would love him like a father is supposed to do. You do anything to him, and you will answer to me old man.” Cheyenne said firmly as she brought the scatter gun barrel up. “As for what he does on his own land…..that is of no concern of yours.”
“ Young lady, that scatter gun does not scare me.” Murdoch said.
Cheyenne raised it higher, and fired off one barrel. “ I told you to get off our land. Next one goes in you….Your choice.”
“ When did you want to start building corrals? ” Scott asked a month after they got settled in.
“ I was just sitting here thinking about that. I figure we could build one big corral at the back to run them into, and then a couple smaller ones off it.” Johnny responded. “ We also need to ride over and see what the old Simple place needs in the way of repairs.”
“ Johnny!” Scott said.
“ I see him.” he said. “ You think he’s rode over to welcome us to the valley?”
“ That little brother I highly doubt.” Scott said as Murdoch rode up to the house.
“ Most people have the decency to respond when told someone wants to see them boy!” Murdoch said snidely.
“ I’m not most people, and I sure as hell didn’t want to see you again old man.” Johnny responded. “ State your business, or get off our land.”
“ I told her I wanted to talk to you.” Murdoch snapped.
Johnny turned and looked at Cheyenne, and then back at his father. “Been busy. State your business.”
“ I’m here with a warning. If you damn up any streams that flow from your property onto Lancer land, it will be a big mistake.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ You got a lot of nerve old man. You come over here uninvited, and have the audacity to tell me what I can, or can’t do on my own property. Let me tell you something old man. This horse ranch is me and Scott’s land, therefore we will do whatever we want, or need to do for the horses we will be running here.”
“ Horse ranch. You set one foot on Lancer land rounding up mustangs, I will be within my rights to have you shot for trespassing.” Murdoch said. “ This sis cattle country boy, you won’t make a dime selling horses.”
“ And we are within our rights to press slander charges against you for that article you put in the paper sir.” Scott said.
“ What I said in that article was nothing but the truth.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Like I said in Cheyenne, you should be grateful I didn’t burn you out.” Johnny said as he stood up slowly, and stepped to the edge of the porch. “ The only thing we have in common is the blood that flows thru my veins. You mean nothing to me old man….So turn that horse around, get off this land, and make sure you tell every hand to make sure your fences along our property line stay up. “
“ I should have killed you that night.” Murdoch said.
“ Mister Lancer, you need to leave…..now!” Cheyenne ordered.
Johnny stared at his father a few seconds before turning, and going inside.
“ You did kill him that night.” Scott said before turning, and going inside.
Cheyenne stood up, and shook her head. “ I feel sorry for you Mister Lancer. You have no idea what a remarkable man Johnny is. All you have is a heart full of hate because of what your son did to stay alive, and because of that hate, you will never know your grandchildren.”
“ Are you sure it’s him?” the bartender asked.
“ I’m as sure as that glass of beer sitting there. It said Johnny Madrid.” the other man said.
“ Just what did the article say about Madrid?” he asked.
“ It was wrote, and sent in by some man named Murdoch Lancer. He went on saying the people of the San Joaquin valley are in danger, and need to know that Johnny Madrid has bought himself property there, and will bring nothing but death to the valley.” he said. “ It also told how Madrid cut this Lancer fellas fences, ran off two thousand head of cattle, and burned down two line-shacks.”
“ Sounds like Madrid was hired by someone to do that to Lancer.” the bartender said.
“ I bet he wasn’t.” another man said.
“ And why ya say that?” the bartender asked.
“ Because Madrid’s last name at birth wasn’t Madrid, it was Lancer. His old man had been searching for him for twenty years. Finally got him home only to beat the boy bad one night, and order him out of the only home Johnny Madrid has ever known.” the man said. “ And that’s not the best of it. Old man Lancer did it all because Johnny saved a calf instead of finishing twenty feet of fence. His old man fractured his jaw, and bruised his ribs.”
“ How do we know what you’re saying is true?” the bartender asked.
“ Names Frank, and I used to work for the Lancer spread for seven years until the day after when old man Lancer ordered us hands to shoot to kill his own son. There was no way in hell I was going to do that. Johnny is a damn good, decent, hardworking man. He did right by saving that calf that night, and he done right by what he did to his old man too.”
Apache sat in the saloon in Colorado City, Nevada listening to the conversation. Having heard enough, he stood up, walked out, mounted his horse, and headed west.
Johnny, and Scott sat on the porch relaxing after a long day of repairing fence-line. It had been two months since the altercation with their father.
“ You going to bring Julie over for supper anytime soon big brother?” he asked.
“ Actually Julie is coming to Sunday dinner.” Scott said.
“ You know, you don’t have to be here working all the time Scott. You can spend more time with her, get to know her better.”
“ Why do I have a sneaky feeling you are wanting me to get married?” Scott asked with a smile.
“ Because me, and Cheyenne are trying to start a family, and your nieces, and nephews will need someone to play with.” Johnny said with a playful slap to Scott’s stomach. “ Besides, you have the Simple place you could live at if you got married.”
“ You know, this place is really coming along.” Scott said.
“ One thing I never thought Johnny Madrid would never get to be is a father, but meeting Cheyenne, falling in love with, and marrying her has given me that chance. Having you as my big brother has given me a chance to make my dream come true. I want a son more than anything.” Johnny responded.
“ And you shall have a son little brother.” Scott said. “ When are you going to go to the forts?”
“ Well, I figure they won’t be interested unless they have something to look at. So if we get these corrals done. We can start rounding some up to start breaking.” he said.
“ How many head you figure to have for them to look at?” he asked.
“ Hundred head if we can.” Johnny responded. “ I figure they will want a hundred remounts a year. It’s roughly a thousand miles to Fort Bowie. It would take us about a month to deliver them. I’m going to send them a letter when we are ready.”
“ What if they already have someone providing them remounts?” Scott asked.
“ They don’t. I know Arizona, and the ranches there have a hard time keeping their own stock.” he responded.
“ Looks like Sam and Cheyenne.” Scott said. “ I thought she went over to the Conway ranch today?”
“ That’s where she said she was going.” Johnny said as he stood up, and walked over to the steps.
“ Hey Sam.” Scott said.” What brings you out here?”
“ I thought I would come and see how your place is coming along.” Sam said
“ I ran into him on the road, so I asked Sam to join us for supper tonight.” Cheyenne said as she dismounted.
“ You’re more than welcome to have supper with us.” Johnny said right before a bullet slammed into him, knocking him back against the wall.
“ Johnny!” Cheyenne screamed as she dropped to his side. A red stain spreading across his back.
Scott went to his brother, gun in hand. “ The shot came from up there!” he yelled as he started firing shots. “ Get him inside!”
Sam, and Cheyenne dragged Johnny inside the front door. “ Scott, get in here!” Sam yelled.
Scott could hear the faint sound of a horse galloping away before Sam yelled for him. Going inside, he scooped his brother up, and took him into the bedroom.
“Cheyenne, get some water boiling, and bandages.” Sam ordered. “ Scott help me get his shirt off.”
“ I can’t lose him Scott.” Cheyenne said with tears running down her cheeks.
Scott stood up, walked over to her, wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her into a hug. “ Now you listen to me, Johnny has been shot before, and pulled thru.” Scott said. “ Do you really think he would leave us?”
“ No, but…..” she said as she wiped her tears away.
“ Cheyenne, listen to me right now…….I want you to stop this negative worrying. It’s not healthy for you, or that baby you’re carrying.” Scott said firmly.
“ Who could have done such a thing, and why?” she asked.
“ I have my suspicions, and when I know Johnny will be alright, I will be confronting that suspicion.” Scott said.
“ You think your father did this?” she asked.
“ It’s a possibility. He’s already shot Johnny once, and made it no secret he wants him dead.” Scott said as the bedroom door opened, and Sam came out.
“ Is there any coffee?” Sam asked
“ I’ll get you a cup Sam.” Scott said.
“ Thank you. How are you doing young lady?” Sam asked.
“I’m alright. How is he?” she responded.
“ Lucky I was here.” Sam said as he took the cup of coffee from Scott. “ The bullet tore thru his trapezius muscle. It wasn’t deep due to the shooter being so far away. He’s lucky he was turning when the bullet hit him.”
“ Will it take long to heal?” Scott asked.
“ Normally I would say yes, but we both know how your brother is when it comes to healing.” Sam said. “ Aggie is cleaning up, and dressing the wound, but you can go in and see him.”
“ Thank you Sam.” Cheyenne said before giving him a hug.
“ You just try and not worry.” Sam said as he hugged her back.
“ That’s what he said to me too Sam.” Cheyenne said before heading into the bedroom.
“ Scott….I know what’s going thru your mind, and I want you to give it a few days before you confront him.” Sam said.
“ Are you asking me to just forget what just happened?”
“ No I’m not. I know you have a good head on your shoulders son, but we don’t know it was him, and you going over there accusing him could make things much worse.” Sam said.
Scott ran his right hand thru his hair. ‘ Alright Sam, I’ll wait two days, and then I’m riding over there.”
“ I just heard something interesting.” Tulsa Jack said.
“ Yeah, what’s that?” Dynamite Dan asked.
“ Someone ambushed Madrid. Shot him in the back.” he explained.
“ They know who it was shot him?” he asked.
“ Nope. People in town are saying it was his old man. Said he had tried killing his son before while in Cheyenne.” Tulsa Jack said.
“ Don’t matter none. Just means we’ll have to wait our turn if he lives.” Dynamite Dan responded. “ Let’s ride over to Spanish Wells, and have a go at the women there.”
Scott rode under the Lancer arch with mixed emotions. For two days he did nothing but think about what Sam said about making things worse. Nothing could be worse than trying to kill you own son in his mind.
“ What do you want?” Murdoch demanded as Scott rode up.
“ I want to know why you did it?” Scott snapped back.
“ Did what?” Murdoch asked.
“ You know damn well what I’m talking about.” Scott said with anger. “ You ambushed Johnny at the house, and shot him in the back.”
“ I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” Murdoch responded.
“ Three days ago you put a bullet in his back with a rifle.” Scott spat.
“ I haven’t left this ranch for the past week.” Murdoch said firmly. “ Ask any of the hands, or Maria.”
“ You are one sick, sorry sonofabitch Murdoch Lancer. You come near me or Johnny ever again………”
“ Get the hell off my land……now!” Murdoch ordered before going back inside.
“ You are one lucky young man John.” Sam said a week later as he re-wrapped the wound.
Johnny sat up in bed not saying anything as Sam bandaged his wound.
“ You’re awful quiet John. Something on your mind?” Sam asked as he sat down on the bed next to him.
“ Whoever shot me is still out there Sam.” Johnny said finally.
“ Yes they are, unless they think they killed you.” Sam said.
“ I have a ranch to build up, and contracts to get from the army for horses. How am I supposed to do all that now Sam?” he asked.
“ I understand your frustration John. Maybe you could hire a couple of men to help Scott.” Sam suggested.
“ And run the risk of them finding out who I am, I don’t think so Sam.” he said.
“ Listen John, everyone in the valley knows what happened, and they are not happy about it. A lot of them think it was Murdoch who done it.” Sam said as he stood up, and closed his bag.
“ Thanks Sam.” Johnny said as he threw his feet over the side of the bed.
“ You’re welcome. You’re like a son to me John, Scott too. I love you both like you were my own. I’ll see you in a couple days.” Sam said before walking out.
“ He’s gonna recognize us Dan.” Jack said.
“ We were younger, and he only seen us once, maybe twice.” Dan said.
“ Yeah, but if he ask our names he’s gonna know.” he said.
“ Stop worrying. I’ll give him a false last name. He won’t know us. Now shut up, and let me do the talking.” Dan ordered.
“ Can I help you?” Scott asked.
“ Heard in Spanish Wells you might be needing some help for a few months around here.” Dynamite Dan said. “ Names Dan Jones, and this is my brother Jack. We’re young, strong, and not afraid of work.”
“ My brother is the one who would make the decision on hiring you or not. Wait here while I go get him.” Scott said before heading inside the house. It had been almost two months since Johnny had been shot, and a lot of work still needed to be done.
“ Just remember what I said. Let me do the talking.” Dan ordered.
Johnny walked out on the porch with his brother, and looked at the two men standing next to their horses. Looking at their guns, he could tell by the way they wore them, they were anything but gunfighters. He also noticed they had no rope on their saddle, and only one of them, he assumed the oldest, had a rifle. A bedroll with a rain slicker was secured on the back of both animals, and a canteen.
“ Where you two from?” Johnny asked.
“ Texas.” Dan said.
“ Texas is a big state. Where?” he asked.
“ Brownsville area.” Dan said.
“ Brownsville is two thousand miles from here. Why’d you leave Texas?” Johnny asked as he stepped down to look at their horses closer.
“ Our folks died a few years back, so we been drifting west. Little brother wanted to see the ocean, so we rode out here, and was drifting back toward Texas when we heard you might be needing some temporary help.” Dan said.
“ There’s a lot of cattle ranches in Texas, how come you didn’t go to work for one of them?” he asked as he noticed the brand on the two horses.
“ We tried ta get hired at some, but they had full crews. A couple others we worked a short time at.” Dan said.
Johnny walked back around and faced Jack. “ Where did you get them horses?”
“ We bought them. Why?” Dan asked.
“ I’m talking to him. Those are Likely Land and Livestock brands, now I’m going to ask you again, where did you get them horses?” Johnny said firmly.
“ Dan bought them mister. I ain’t no horse thief. He has the bill of sale in his saddlebags for them both.” Jack said.
“ Scott!” Johnny said as he stepped back.
“ I got you brother.” Scott said as he brought the shotgun up they kept inside the front door.
“ Hey now, what the hell mister? We came here looking for work.” Dan said.
“ I hate a liar. I know Billy Flournoy, and his brothers. They took over running the ranch when the old man died a couple years ago. They sell their stock, and two saddle-bums like you two wouldn’t be able to afford horses like them.” Johnny said. “ I also know your last name isn’t Jones….It’s Clifton. I worked a water rights dispute against your old man. I guess you two figured I wouldn’t remember seeing you.”
“ Why you really here?” Scott demanded.
“ You killed our pa.” Jack said.
“ I never killed anyone in that water dispute. The law showed who was in the right, and your old man wasn’t.” Johnny said.
“ It’s because of you he died.” Dan said.
“ What do you want to do with them Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Let them go.” he said.
“ They have a rifle. What if it was……” Scott started to say.
“ It wasn’t them. Let ’em go.” Johnny ordered.
“ I suggest you two leave the valley, and forget about any notion you have of trying to kill my brother.” Scott ordered. “ Mount up, and get off our land.”
Dynamite Dan, and Tulsa Jack mounted up, turned their horses, and started for the gate.
“ Like hell I will!” Dan said as he spun his horse around, and went for his gun.
Johnny drew, and fired, hitting Dan , knocking him off his horse.
“ Dan!” Tulsa Jack yelled as he jumped off his horse, and went to his dead brother. “ Dan…..You bastard, you killed my brother.”
“ He gave me no choice.” Johnny said. “ Get him on his horse, and leave!”
“ You sonofabitch, you killed my brother!” Jack said with anger as he went for his gun.
Johnny fired again, hitting Jack in his right wrist. “ The next one I will kill you. Now get your brother, and get off my land.”
Sam stopped his buggy, and climbed down. Seeing the brothers working by the barn, he walked over to them.
“ Hey Sam. What brings you here?” Johnny asked as he noticed the marshals badge the man with him was wearing.
“ This is Marshal Ben Thompson from Matamoros, Texas.” Sam said. “ He was in Green River yesterday looking for two men. Brothers from Brownsville.”
“ Two men came into Green River yesterday. One of them was dead, shot thru the heart. The other one had been shot in his right wrist, crippling him for life. Do you know anything about that?” the marshal said, and asked.
“ They came here to kill me marshal. I gave them every chance to ride away.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny gave them every opportunity to leave marshal, and they were until the dead one decided to try and draw on Johnny.” Scott explained.
“ Those two are wanted for stealing the two horses they were riding, and raping a sixteen year old girl back in Brownsville.. There’s a reward of five hundred dollars each for them.” Marshal Thompson said.
“ No thanks marshal. I have no use for blood money.” Johnny said.
“ Not what I expected to hear Johnny Madrid say.” the marshal said.
Johnny stepped closer to the marshal. “ Let me tell you something marshal. I have never crossed the line. I’ve gave every man the chance to walk away. I’m not wanted for anything. So if you have a problem with me, and who I am, that’s your problem.” he said firmly.
“ I think you better leave now.” Scott said.
“ I’ve seen your kind before Madrid. Hiring that gun hand out in a range war is no different than a bounty hunter. You took money for what you did.” the marshal said as he mounted his horse. “ You’re a killer, and will always be a killer until someone comes along, and kills you.” he added before riding away.
“ John, I’m sorry.” Sam said. “ I didn’t know he was…..”
“ Forget it Sam.” Johnny said before heading to the house.
Murdoch walked into the saloon in Spanish Wells.
“ Hey Lancer, haven’t seen you around much.” Mac the bartender said. ‘ How ya been?”
“ Good. Let me have a beer Mac.” Murdoch responded.
“ You hear about the army?” Mac asked.
“ No. What about the army?” he asked.
“ Your two boys brought them here.” Mac said.
“ I have no boys.” Murdoch said before taking a drink of his beer.
“ Your b……Johnny is going to get him a contract selling horses to the army at Fort Bowie. He’s at the diner now with two of them having a meeting.” Mac said.
“ Rounding up, breaking, and selling horses is no way to make a living. Having to wait four or five years before you can even break one, while all that time you’re putting money into the animal in feed, and getting nothing back. This valley is for cattle, not a damn horse ranch.” Murdoch spat.
“ How come you’re so bitter toward your son?” Mac asked. “ You spent twenty years searchin’ for him, he comes home, and then five years later you run him off. Why?”
“ What happened is none of you, or anyone else in this towns business.” Murdoch snapped back before downing his beer, and slamming the glass down on the bar. “ The people of Spanish Wells and this valley are fools to allow that killer to live in this valley. He needs to be run out before innocent lives are lost.”
“ Well mister high and mighty Lancer, you can just go somewhere else for a cold beer. The people of this town happen to like Johnny, his brother Scott too.” Mac said firmly as he snatched up the empty glass, and walked away.
Murdoch left the saloon as several of the men inside scowled at him. Looking down the street toward the hotel, he seen two army men come out of the hotel with Madrid. Recognizing one of the men, he headed down to them.
“ I sure never thought I would see you here, Johnny. Let alone be making a contract with you for army horses.” Major Hood said. “ But when I read the name, I had to come, and see for myself if it was you.”
“ It has been a long time major. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed when you see what I have.” Johnny said.
“ Major Bell Hood!” Murdoch yelled as he rode up, and dismounted.
“ Murdoch Lancer, why you old retro-bait. What are you doing here?” Major Hood asked as they shook hands.
Captain Cooper noticed the change in Johnny when Murdoch Lancer rode up, how he became tense, and his hand dropped to his gun. “ Mister Madrid, can I have a word with you in private?” he asked.
Johnny glared at his father before stepping away to speak with the captain.
“ I couldn’t help but notice your demeanor changed when that man rode up. Is there a problem between the two of you that will affect signing a contract with the army?” the captain asked.
“ No Captain Cooper, no problem. No problem except that I’m his son, and he wants me dead.” Johnny said.
“ Mister Madrid, would you come over here please?” Major Hood asked.
Johnny sighed, and walked over to the major.
“ Mister Lancer says it would be a mistake signing a contract with you.” the major said. “ He says you never finish what you start, and would leave the army without remounts. Is that true?
“ You never stop do you old man?” Johnny said as he stepped closer to Murdoch. “ Spreading lies about me in the paper wasn’t enough for you, you have to tell the major lies too.”
“ The major has a right to know just how unreliable you are, and any contract the army makes with you would be a mistake.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Defamation of character old man. That’s what you did with that article in the paper, and just did with the major. You will be hearing from my lawyer about it.” Johnny spat. “ Major Hood, Captain Cooper, I am a man of my word, and what we discussed inside I will carry out for the army. If you chose to believe a man who would stab his own son in the back, not to mention try and shoot me in the back in Cheyenne, that’s your right. If you want good, sound horses, then show up at my place 9am in the morning to see what I have.” Johnny said before turning to leave.
“ Johnny, I didn’t know you were his son. I’ll be there in the morning to see what you have.” the major said.
Johnny glared at his father as he shook his head. “I really feel sorry for you old man.” he said before walking away.
“Mister Lancer, I don’t like to get involved in personal business, but you were out of line. I don’t know what is between you, and Johnny, but I’m sure I could find out the truth real fast. I’ve known Johnny for ten years. He’s a good person, and what you said about him I know is furthest from the truth.” Major Hood said before walking away.
Murdoch stood there watching the major and captain walk away. Mounting up, he came up with a plan that would stop Johnny for good, and get him out of the valley forever.
“ They look real good Johnny.” Major Hood said.
“ These are all broke to ride?” Captain Cooper asked.
“ Yes sir. Every one of them.” Johnny said.
“ How many can you guarantee every year?” the major asked.
“ A hundred head, sound, and broke to bridle, and saddle.” Johnny said.
“ No stallions or mares. They have to all be geldings, dark in color at least four years old.” Major Hood said. “ If you can guarantee me that, the army will pay you a very good price for them.”
“ When would you want them delivered?” Johnny asked.
“ The ranch we are getting them from for now has a contract with us until the end of the year.” the major said. “ Can you deliver them in January?”
“ Yes sir. That gives us two months to finish, and two months to deliver them to you.” Johnny said.
Murdoch opened the back door to the barn, and led the two prized stallions inside. Securing each one in a stall.
“ Let’s see you get out of this.” he said as he closed the door, and left.
“ Anoche volvista a levantarte demasiado tarde. No es saludable para ti trabajar tan duro.” ( You were up too late again last night. It is not healthy for you to work so hard.) Maria said as she handed Murdoch a cup of coffee.
“ How late I stay up is of no concern of yours Maria.” Murdoch said firmly.
“Te has puesto el diablo sobre ti mismo por lo que le has hecho a mi Johnny, y ya no trabajaré para un hombre tan malvado.” ( You have put the devil on yourself for what you have done to my Johnny, and I will no longer work for such an evil man.) Maria said as she removed her apron, and tossed it at him before walking out of the house.
Murdoch stood up, grabbed a couple biscuits off the stove, and went into the grand room to his desk.
“ Senor Lancer, they are gone!” Cipriano said as he walked into the grand room.
“ What’s gone?” he asked.
“ The two stallions. Someone came in during the night, and took them both.” Cipriano said.
(WARNING, GRAPHIC DEATHS )
Apache rode into Mariposa, California, and stopped at the cantina. Three things he wanted, and needed, A drink, a whore, and the want to kill that whore when done. Two days ago he stumbled on a man and woman camped along a stream. After having supper with them, he pulled his pistol, and made the wife tie her husband to the front left wagon wheel, then viciously raped the woman several times in front of him before slicing her wide open from between her legs to her throat. Ransacking thru their wagon, he found a small metal box with eight hundred dollars in gold coins. Hoping down from the wagon, he pulled his knife out again, walked over to the man, and in one swift move, sliced his throat clean to the man’s spine. Mounting up, he headed toward Mariposa. Walking into the cantina, he looked around, and seen his latest victim, a beautiful, young girl, not more than twenty standing at the end of the bar wearing only bloomers with the crotch wide open. Walking up to the bar, he ordered a beer, then walked up to her. After a few minutes of conversation, the girl took him upstairs.
An hour later, Apache came back downstairs, and walked out of the cantina satisfied. Twice he had taken the girl, and when finished, he stood up, and started getting dressed. The girl, Amelia, sat on the side of the bed fixing her top when Apache walked over, and stood in front of her. Smiling up at him she became horrified when she seen the huge knife in his hand, then felt a sharp pain as the knife sliced her throat open. Placing her hands to her throat as her life seeped between her fingers, and she fell back on the bed, forever stilled as the blood started soaking the sheet, and mattress.
( END WARNING )
Murdoch, Cipriano, and Carl stopped at the sheriff’s office in Green River. “ You two stay out here.” Murdoch ordered as he dismounted, and went inside.
“ I just can’t believe Johnny would steal those stallions Cipriano.” Carl said.
“ He did not steal them.” Cipriano responded.
“ How do you know?” Carl asked.
“ It does not matter.” he said.
“ It seems Mister Lancer has had a hate for his own son ever since that night he run Johnny off Lancer. Frank and Walt quit when he ordered them to shoot to kill if he was ever seen. Most of the hands are ready to quit Lancer, and go work some place else.” Carl said.
“ I know. I have heard the talk.” Cipriano said.
“ Mister Lancer, what can I do for you?” Gabe asked.
“ I had two prized stallions stolen last night, and I want the sonofabitch who stole them arrested, and hung for horse stealing!” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Do you know who stole them?” Gabe asked.
“ There is only one person who would do it, Johnny Madrid.” he said firmly.
“ Did you or anyone else see him do it?” Gabe asked as he took out a piece of paper to write down what happened. “I need to know when the last time anyone seen the stallions, and where they were when stolen?”
“ It was in the middle of the night, nobody seen anything, and they were in the barn. I’m not going to keep to expensive animals like that outside at night.” Murdoch explained.
“ How do you know it was Johnny who took them?” he asked.
“ Because he’s the only one who would gain from taking them.” Murdoch responded.
“ Look Mister Lancer, everyone in this town knows how you have it in for your son. How you threw him off Lancer, and why. They also know what happened in Cheyenne.” Gabe said. “ Johnny has a contract with the army to sell horses to them at Fort Bowie. I don’t think he would go stealing prized horses, when the army wants mustangs.”
“ You go out there, and you will find my two stallions in his barn.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ I’ll ride out there and check, but how do you know they would be in his barn?” Gabe asked as he strapped on his holster.
“ To keep them out of sight.” Murdoch said as he opened the door.
“ Breakfast was good.” Scott said.
“ Thank you.” Cheyenne said as she sat down.
“ I want to ride out and take a look at the north fence.” Johnny said as someone knocked on the front door.
“ I’ll get it.” Scott said.
Scott opened the front door, surprised to find Gabe standing there.
“ Scott, is Johnny here?”
“ He’s in the kitchen, we just finished eating breakfast. What’s this all about Gabe?” Scott responded, and asked.
“ Would you ask him to come outside please?” Gabe requested.
Scott left the front door open, and went into the kitchen.
“ Who is it this early?” Johnny asked.
“ It’s Gabe. He wants to talk to you.” Scott said.
Johnny stood up, and started to walk past his brother.
“ Johnny, Murdoch, Cipriano, and Carl are with him.” Scott said.
“ Now what’s that old man going to try and do to you?” Cheyenne asked as she stood up, and followed them to the front door.
“ Sheriff, that man is not allowed on this property.” Cheyenne said as she pointed at Murdoch.
“ I’m afraid he’s here with me on official business.” Gabe said. “ Johnny where were you last night?” Gabe asked.
“ Right here all night with my wife.” he said. “ What’s he saying I did now Gabe?”
“ His two prized stallions were stole last night from his barn. He says you have them in your barn.” the sheriff said.
“ He’s a liar!” Cheyenne said.
Johnny turned to face his wife. “ Cheyenne, go back inside.” he ordered.
“ I will not. My place is beside you.” Cheyenne said firmly.
“ I said go inside….. now!” Johnny said firmly.
“ Cheyenne….please.” Scott said.
Cheyenne glared at Johnny a few seconds before turning, and going back inside, slamming the door behind her.
Johnny closed his eyes, and summoned all he had to remain calm before he turned back around to face his accuser.
“ Why you doing this sir?” Scott asked. “ You know Johnny would never steal your horses.”
“ He stole two thousand head of Lancer cattle, stealing two prized stallions is no different.” Murdoch said.
“ I never stole a thing from you old man!” Johnny said with anger.
“ Cipriano, go check all of our barns. You will not find those stallions in any of them.” Scott ordered.
“ That will not be necessary. The stallions are not here. I seen señor Murdoch go to the barn, and lead the stallions away with his horse around midnight. I followed him here last night and knew what he was doing when he took them in the back door to the barn, and came out without them. I waited until he left, and took them back to Lancer. They are both in the barn. I have worked for you for many years, but I will no longer work for a man who would try and frame his own son for stealing horses.” Cipriano said.
“ You’re the one who came into the house and told me they were gone this morning.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Yes, I am the one. I did it because I knew that what you were trying to do to your own son was wrong, and you needed to be stopped.” Cipriano said.
Johnny walked up to his father, and hit him as hard as he could in the face, knocking him down. “ You sonofabitch!” he spat. “ I could have went to prison, or been hung for this! You fucking bastard!”
Scott, and Gabe just stood there. Cipriano walked over to help Murdoch up.
“ Gabe, is there a law against making false accusations against another?” Scott asked.
“ Yes there is. Especially when those accusations intend to do harm to the accused. In Murdoch’s case, he faces both slander, and libel charges because he told me in my office before we came here that he knew you were the one who stole the horses.” Gabe said.
“ Can he serve jail time for it?” Johnny asked with coldness in his voice.
“ He could be sued, or spend year in prison for each offense.” Gabe said.
“ How long would I have to press charges against him for this?” Johnny asked.
Gabe knew where Johnny was going with his questions. “ A year I reckon.”
Johnny walked back over to his father, and glared at the man a few seconds before once again hitting him as hard as he could in the face, knocking him back into his horse. “ That’s for trying to kill me in Cheyenne, you sonofabitch. I could have you sent to prison for all the shit you have done to me…..So you better think real hard the next time you try anything against me, my family, or this ranch.” Johnny spat. “ Get off my land, and don’t you ever set foot on it again.”
Scott stood just behind his brother as they watched them leave. “ You alright?” he asked.
Johnny turned to face his brother, and placed a hand on his right shoulder. His eyes showed the hurt. “ Yeah. Thanks.”
“ I think I’ll leave the two of you alone for a bit, and go feed the stock now.” Scott said. “ Johnny, her intentions were right.”
“ I know, but she’s pregnant now. I won’t have her risking her life, or our child’s life.”
Johnny went back in the house, and shut the door. Walking into the kitchen, he found Cheyenne standing at the sink.
“ I know you’re angry with me, but I was only thinking of your safety.” he said.
Cheyenne spun around. “ Am I your wife?” she demanded.
Johnny sighed. He knew this wasn’t going to be a simple discussion. “ Yes,”
“ Then how dare you tell me to go back in the house! I had every right to be out there with you, ready to defend you.” she said with anger as she walked over to him. “ Don’t you ever…..ever send me away from you again!”
Johnny remained calm as he looked into her eyes.“ Look, you didn’t need to be out there. Gabe was there. Nothing was going to happen.” he said.
“ You’re not alone anymore. You don’t have to face men like that alone anymore Johnny. I love you, but I will not stand for being sent away when you need me.” she said firmly.
“ I will if I think you could be in danger.” he responded.
“ You just said………”
“ I know what I just said Cheyenne. I also know my father. He tried killing me remember? You, and Scott are all I have. I don’t want to lose you.” he said as he put his hands on her shoulders. “ I can’t handle that happening.”
“ Don’t touch me!” she said as she moved away from him. “ You just made me feel like all I am to you is someone to share your bed!”
“ That’s not true, and you know it!” he said with anger.
“ Do I?” she asked as she spun back around to face him. “ How come you won’t let me go with you, and Scott to round up mustangs.”
“ Cheyenne, I don’t want to fight with you. I did what I thought was right. I understand you wanting to stay out there, but you better understand when I tell you to do something, I do it for your safety, and I won’t have you defy me again. As my wife, you will do as I say.” Johnny said firmly.
Cheyenne walked over to him, and glared at him a few seconds before the sound of a slap echoed in the house. “ Go to hell!” she said before storming out of the kitchen. The bedroom door heard slamming shut a few seconds later.
Johnny stood there in shock a few seconds before walking to the bedroom door. “ Until you come to your senses, I’ll not stay in this house.”
“ Good.” Cheyenne said.
Johnny fought to keep the tears from falling as he walked out of the house, headed to the barn.
“ Everything alright?” Scott asked.
“ If you like being slapped, and told to go to hell by your wife, yeah, everything is fine Scott.” Johnny said as he saddled Barranca. “ All I ever wanted growing up was a father who loved, and wanted me. Guess he proved that will never happen. Guess I’m not meant to have a wife who loves me either.”
“ Give her some time to cool off Johnny.” Scott said. “ Where you going?”
“ Stockton to see if I can find some men to help drive the herd.” he said. “ A hundred head is too much for the two of us to do. I’ll be back in a couple days.” he said as he brought Barranca out of the stall, and led him outside.
“ Johnny, don’t do anything foolish.” Scott said as he held the reins.
“ Foolish seems to be what I’m good at brother.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. “ I’ll see you in three days.”
Cheyenne came out on the porch, and watched as Johnny galloped thru the gate, and headed northwest.
“ Johnny went to Stockton to try and find some men to help with the drive.” Scott said. “ He’ll be back in three days.”
“ I don’t care if he ever comes back.” Cheyenne said before turning, and going back inside.
Scott knew she was still upset, but he couldn’t remain quiet. Not after her saying that.
“ Cheyenne, you’re out of line treating Johnny like you did.” Scott said. “ He loves you, and didn’t want to risk you getting hurt….Why can’t you understand that?”
“ I understand perfectly Scott. I understand Johnny loves me for sex only.” she snapped back. “ Now if you don’t mind, I want to be alone right now.”
“ You want to be alone…fine.” Scott said before turning to leave, then spun back around. “ Let me tell you something, Johnny’s whole life he has been alone with nobody to care about except the horse he rode. Our father lied to him, and betrayed him in the worst way possible, and now you want to act like a selfish little kid because you got your feelings hurt because he asked you to come inside so you wouldn’t get hurt. I hope by the time he comes back, you realize what a fool you are being.” he said before turning, and walking out.
Johnny rode up to the barn, and dismounted as Scott came over from the corral.
“ How did it go?” he asked.
“ Couldn’t find anyone to help.” Johnny said as he led Barranca into the barn. “ How’s things been here?”
“ Quiet. I found us two hands to help with the roundup, and drive.” Scott said.
“ Who?” he asked.
“ Cipriano, and Carl.” Scott said.
“ Where they at?” he asked as he unsaddled Barranca.
“ They are out checking fences. Learning the lay of the property.” Scott explained. “ I want to talk to you about something.”
“ Okay, go ahead.” Johnny said as he led Barranca into his stall.
“ Well, you know how Murdoch has been toward you. Hell bent on trying to destroy you….To kill you…. I was thinking that since we need to get this ranch registered, especially now that you have contracts. Why don’t we register it under the name J&S Lancer, Quarter Horses?” Scott suggested. “ Lancer is both our birthright last names, and I know there isn’t a thing he can do about it.”
“ I don’t want any more trouble from him Scott.” Johnny said. “ I’ve had enough trouble the last two years to last me a lifetime.”
“ I know you have brother.” he said. “ But this is your right, both our rights, and that’s something he is trying to take away from you. Don’t let him win Johnny. Don’t let Murdoch take away from you what is rightfully yours by law.”
“ I’ll think about it.” he said. “ Has she said anything?”
“ Not since the day you left. I did confront her though.” Scott responded, and then told his brother what was said.
“ Thanks brother.” Johnny said. “ Guess I better go inside, and see what kind of mood she’s in.”
Murdoch stopped outside the mercantile, and read a notice the clerk just put up. His anger boiling when he read the names. “ How dare he!” he said as he tore it down, and headed to see Randall.
“ Stop right there Murdoch Lancer. I am no longer your lawyer, so whatever business you have, you will have to take elsewhere.” Randall said.
“ Did you tell them they could do this?” Murdoch demanded as he held the notice out.
“ Oh, I seen that. It has a nice ring to it I think. And no I did not.” Randall said. “ Look, I will give you this for free, but after, we speak no more. Scott, and Johnny are within the law, and their rights to use Lancer as a last name. It is the name on both of their birth certificates. Therefore, unless you file a petition, and can get a judge to change both their last names from Lancer, there is nothing you can do.”
“ A petition?” Murdoch said.
“ Yes, a petition with reason for the change.” Randall said. “ I doubt you will get it though because both the boys are legal age, and would have to be notified of said petition.”
“ Just passing thru?” the bartender asked as he gave the man his beer. “ If you’re headed west, there’s a ranch outside Morro Coyo looking for men to drive a herd of horses to Fort Bowie. Pay’s real good I hear.”
“ Drive horses from Morro Coyo to Fort Bowie, that’s almost a thousand miles would take over a month to do.” Frank said.
“ Yeah, figure water rest breaks, food for the animals, forty, fifty days travel.” a man said. “ Whose doing it?”
“ Johnny Madrid. Seems he’s in the horse business now, and got himself a nice contract selling broke mustangs to the army.” the bartender said.
“ Johnny Madrid the gunfighter. Well I will be damned. I heard the kid got out of the game. Good for him. Maybe I’ll take me a ride that way, and see if I can get hired.” Frank said. “ Thanks for the information friend.”
Apache couldn’t believe what he just heard. Twice shot, and left for dead, and twice survived. This time he would make sure Madrid was dead. This time he would call the man out, and shoot him down in the street.
Murdoch left Randall’s fuming. Walking over to the bank, he went inside, and knocked on Jim Pierpoint’s office door. He knew today was just going to get worse.
Opening the door, he stepped inside the office.
“ Lancer. I was hoping to see you this week.” Jim said. “ Come sit down.”
Murdoch noticed Lancer loan papers on Jim’s desk. “ Can I ask what you are doing?”
“ There’s a new chairman of the board man named Buck Addison they brought in to improve the banks business. They feel he can make us grow, to become bigger, and better for our customers. Why next week we have a bigger, safer safe being installed from back east.”
“ Jim, why don’t you just get to the point?” Murdoch said.
“ Alright. I attended a board meet last week, and well, the members feel that Lancer is no longer a sound investment.” Jim said. “ They feel there isn’t enough collateral to warrant doing business with you any longer as far as loans.”
“ You’re sitting there telling me that ten thousand head of cattle, and a ranch that is one hundred thousand acres is not enough collateral?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Yes, that is what I am telling you.” Jim said. “ The board knows you have no way of shipping your cattle to market anymore, and that you are two years behind in paying back the loan. I’m sorry, but my hands are tied on this Murdoch. I have to answer to the board, and do what they say. Now, they have told me to give you thirty days to pay back in full the loan, plus interest or they will by any, and all legal means possible, do what they have to do to get their money back. A man will be coming out to take inventory on Lancer tomorrow. What that means is, until he is done with inventory, you cannot sell any cattle, horses, or possessions inside the house.”
“ And if I can’t get the money?” he asked.
“ There will be a public auction held to sell Lancer, and all its possessions.” Jim explained.
Murdoch stood up. “ I will not allow this bank, or anyone to take what I have sweated over thirty years to build up.”
“ Then I hope you get the money. You have thirty days.” Jim said. “ Murdoch, do you even know just how much you owe this bank now?”
“ The loan was for five thousand dollars.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes, but with interest building every month on that loan, it is almost double that now. You didn’t make a full payment when you sold your cattle last year, and I have been gracious enough to continue to carry you. You’re mad, and I understand that, but you have no idea what it takes to run a bank, and the humiliation I had at that meeting because I carried you.” Jim said.
“ I won’t allow you to take Lancer from me.” Murdoch said as he jerked the door open, and walked out.
Jim stood up, and went after him. “ Murdoch! If you do anything foolish, I will have you arrested, and sent to jail. Gabe is already aware of what is going on, so don’t be a fool. It’s just a ranch.”
“ Just a ranch. I sweated for thirty years building that ranch up.” Murdoch said with anger before storming out.
Murdoch couldn’t understand how all his friends, people he had known for years, suddenly turned their back on him. Ready to lose everything he had worked years to build both saddened, and angered him. Hands who had worked for him for years where now gone. Maria, and Cipriano, he never thought would leave him. Two years ago he had a hundred and fifty vaquero’s, now he had only sixty. Most of them the only reason they haven’t left is because they have families living on, or close to Lancer. In one week he would lose part of Lancer, something he desperately didn’t want to happen, couldn’t let happen. There was one hope left, one person he knew he could possible get the money from.
“ Johnny, Scott, your ranch and business are now registered under the name J and S Lancer Quarter Horses.” Randall said. “Have you thought of a brand design yet?”
“ Haven’t thought about a brand yet.” Johnny said.
“ I think I should warn you, your father is upset about the two of you using the Lancer name. He’s planning on a petition to get it stopped. I told him he would have to notify the two of you, and I highly doubt the courts would side with him on it.” Randall said.
“ The man never quits.” Scott said.
“ Also, you didn’t hear this from me, but he’s about to lose Lancer.” Randall said, then told them what he had heard the bank board is doing.
“ He brought it on himself.” Johnny said.
“ I wonder how much he owes?’ Scott asked.
“ I don’t know, and I don’t care Scott.” Johnny said.
“ Shall we have a cold beer to celebrate before we head back?” Scott asked as he opened the door.
“ Sounds good. Mister Randall, thank you.” Johnny said as he shook the man’s hand before walking out.
“ Johnny Madrid!” Apache yelled from down the street as Johnny crossed the street. “ Where you going Madrid?”
“ Apache……Sonofabitch. I was hoping he was dead, or captured.” Johnny said softly.
“ The man you tracked to Montana?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah.” Johnny said. “ Step away.”
“ Can you beat him?” he asked.
“ I don’t know. Step away.” Johnny said, and ordered.
“ Imagine the shock when I heard you were still alive. When I shot you, it should have killed you.” Apache said. “ I seen you fall on the porch, heard that woman scream.”
Gabe, and Sam came out of the cafe, and seen what was happening. Spotting Scott, they crossed the street, and walked up to him.
“ Scott, who is that man?” Gabe asked.
“ He’s called Apache. He’s the one who shot Johnny at the ranch.” Scott said.
“ Apache! I just got a dodger on him the other day. He’s wanted for the brutal murder of several saloon girls, and a couple of army soldiers.” Gabe said.
“ Scott, can Johnny beat him?” Sam asked.
“ I don’t know. When Johnny was tracking him, he told me he’s fast. Maybe faster than him.” Scott said as he watched his brother walk toward Apache. Something he had never seen him do before.
“ What is he doing?” Sam asked.
“ I don’t know Sam. I’ve never seen him walk toward someone who called him out.” he said.
Johnny reached way down deep inside to summon the darker side of Madrid. He knew facing this man, he would need him. Walking to within fifty feet of the man, he stopped, and prayed his instincts were right.
“ I have a wanted poster on that man. I’m stopping this.” Gabe said as he stepped down into the street. “ Apache! You’re under arrest for murder.” he said as he drew his gun, and aimed it at him.
Seeing what he was waiting for, Johnny drew, and fanned his colt twice as Apache drew, and fired. Feeling the bullet slice thru his flesh as he watched Apache slowly drop to his knees, looked down at the two red stains spreading across his chest before he fell forward, dead. Standing there, he holstered his colt as his brother walked over to him.
“ You alright?” Scott asked.
“ He beat me brother.” Johnny said as he moved his bolero jacket, and looked at the blood seeping from his side.
“ Sam!” Scott yelled as he put an arm around Johnny.
Murdoch watched as Madrid, and the Indian faced off. Hearing his oldest call for Sam, he knew Johnny had been shot. Stepping down into the street, he went over to them. “ Let me help you.”
“ I don’t need your help old man.” Johnny said. “ Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m still alive.”
Murdoch stood there, and watched as they walked to Sam’s office, and went inside.
“ Did you really expect them to let you help?” Randall asked.
Murdoch looked at him a few seconds before walking away.
“ I don’t want you doing any heavy lifting, or breaking of horses until this is closed up John.” Sam instructed as he wrapped the wound.
“ We have a herd of horses to drive to Fort Bowie in two weeks. Will it be healed up enough he can go Sam?” Scott asked.
“ It should, but like I said, only if he does what I say, and doesn’t do any heavy lifting, or breaking horses.” Sam said.
“ You need to work on your bedside manner Sam.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ My bedside manner is just fine young man. What I need is for my patients to do as I instruct them to do when healing.” Sam responded.
“ I’ll be good Sam.” Johnny said as he stood up, and let Scott help him put a clean shirt on his brother got from his saddlebags.
“ You take care of yourself John.” Sam said as they walked to the front door.
“ I’m not looking forward to going home.” Johnny said. “ Cheyenne isn’t going to be happy.”
“ I’m sure she will understand.” Sam said.
“ Yeah, understand enough to slap me again.” he said.
“ You have to remember John, a woman’s body changes when she’s pregnant. It affects her emotions.” he explained.
“ Thanks Sam. I’ll see ya.” Johnny said before they left.
“ Scott, can I have a word with you….alone?” Murdoch asked as Johnny, and Scott walked to their horses. “ I mean no trouble. Please, I want to talk to you about a business proposition.”
“ Any business you want to discuss, you can say in front of my brother too.” Scott said.
“ I’m glad you’re alright.” he said as he looked at Johnny.
“ Get it said old man.” Johnny said.
“ Alright. I’m sure you two have heard about my trouble.” Murdoch said.
“ If you mean that you’re about to lose Lancer, yeah, we heard you’re two years behind. What do you want?” Johnny said.
“ I want to borrow the money from you to pay off the loan?” Murdoch asked. “ I can pay you back when I sell my cattle. Or I can give you cattle in exchange for the money.”
“ We run a horse ranch. Have no need, nor want for cattle.” Johnny said.
“ And what’s the market price of three year old steers right now?” Scott asked.
“ I haven’t checked.” Murdoch said.
“ I’ll tell ya. A three year old steer is fetching about sixty two dollars a head right now. Two year old’s sell for twenty two fifty, Cows, twenty six, and bulls are selling for ninety dollars a head.” Johnny said.
“ If you sell horses, can I ask how it is you know the price of cattle?” his father asked.
“ I make it my business to know. Cattle prices can affect the price I sell my horses at.” Johnny said. “ I may not have went to a college, or have an education like Scott, and I mean no disrespect, brother.”
“ None taken.”
“ I never said……….I never meant to imply you weren’t smart John. I guess I never really thought of cattle prices affecting the price of other things too.” Murdoch said. “ I’m sorry if I ever did.”
Johnny looked at his father a few seconds before mounting up. “ If you want to do it brother, go ahead, it’s your money.”
“ Hold on Johnny. If I agree to do this, it will cost you.”
“ I already said…”
“ We don’t want your cattle. Like Johnny said, we have no use, nor want cattle.” Scott cut in, and said.
“ Alright then what?”
“ Do you even realize how much you have hurt him? Do you even care? His whole life he has been without until he came home to Lancer, and you took all that away from him that night, and just because he chose to save a calf, instead of finish the fence. You have doubted everything he has ever done. You condemned him for becoming a gunfighter to stay alive. You’ve tried to kill him. Your own son, you have publicly humiliated him, and me with what you put in the paper. Johnny could have you locked up for all the shit you have done to him sir, but he hasn’t. You want to know why? I’ll tell you why. Because it’s your blood that runs thru his veins. You don’t give at all do you? All pride, and Johnny’s cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give.” Scott said. “ A third of Lancer is his. It’s his birthright, and you know it. Just like it’s mine. We don’t want Lancer, or any part of it. Therefore sir, we don’t care if you do lose Lancer. You will never get a dime from us.” Scott said before he mounted up, and rode out of town with his brother.
Murdoch stood there in total shock at what his oldest son just said to him. If Lancer was, and is their birthright, then why are they going to allow him to lose it? Turning, he walked to his horse, mounted up, and rode back to Lancer a totally defeated man.
Johnny, and Scott rode up to the house just as Cheyenne came out on the porch.
“ I’ll take care of the horses. You go inside and rest.” Scott said as he took the reins, and started toward the barn.
“ Rest? What happened?” Cheyenne asked.
“ Apache was in town. He called me out.” Johnny said as he walked past her, and entered the house.
“ He shot you?” she asked as she followed him inside.
“ It’s just a graze. Sam cleaned it up, and bandaged it for me.” he responded.
“ I can’t take this.” she said. “ I can’t wonder if you are going to be gunned down in the street, and I’m left raising our child alone.”
“ I didn’t plan on this happening Cheyenne.” Johnny said. “ It’s not my fault.”
“ No, it’s never your fault is it?” she snapped back. “ Maybe if you hadn’t went after him in the first place, or been a guard on that stage, none of this would have happened.”
“ That’s funny coming from a woman who spent three, four years tracking the men who killed her parents.” he said.
“ At least I had a good reason.” she said before turning to go in the kitchen.
Johnny grabbed her arm, and spun her around to face him. “ Why are you treating me like this. Haven’t I proved to you how much I love you?”
“ Let go of my arm!” she demanded.
Johnny let go of her arm, and stood there waiting for her to answer him.
“ I stay here alone all day while you and Scott are out working. I have nobody to talk too. You come home, tired. You bath, eat supper, and go to bed seven days a week. What kind of life is that for me?” she asked.
“ What do you want from me Cheyenne? I’m trying to build a future for us here. I’m trying to build something so I don’t have to live by my gun anymore.” he said.
“ A lot of good that does.” she snapped back.
“ What’s that mean?” he asked.
“ You ride to town, and get called out, and shot. There’s someone out there still who ambushed you right here, and I’m supposed to accept that, and act like everything is alright?” she said with tears in her eyes.
“ I’ll ask you again….what do you want from me? Because it’s pretty clear you don’t love me anymore.” he said. “ And as far as someone being out there still, it was Apache who shot me.”
“ I never said I didn’t love you anymore Johnny.” she said as the tears ran down her face. “ I want to be your wife, and the mother of your children, but I also don’t want to be alone so much. You’re fixing to leave me in two weeks to deliver horses. I won’t see you again for three months.”
Johnny put his hands on her shoulders. “ If I could get someone to stay here with you. Someone I trust to help you with the house, cooking, and the baby when it comes, would that be alright?”
“ Who?” she asked.
“ Maria. She quit Lancer. She helped Sam deliver me, and is a very nice lady.” he said.
“ Maria….I don’t know Spanish.” she said.
“ She speaks English too.” he said.
“ I’m sorry my love. I….sometimes I just want to stay in bed, and cry. I don’t mean to be so angry at you.” Cheyenne said.
“ Sam said being with child would affect your moods, and for me to be patient.” Johnny said.
“ Come in the bedroom and show me your wound.” Cheyenne said before she turned, and headed to the bedroom.
“ If I go in the bedroom, I’m going to do more than show you my wound.” he said.
“ I hope so.” she said as she entered their bedroom.
Johnny smiled, and hoped his brother wouldn’t need him for the next hour or so as he followed his wife into the room, and closed the door. Ten minutes later he climbed in bed next to his wife, and came up between her legs.
“ Can you with the wound?” she asked.
“ I’d have to be on my death bed to not be able to make love to you.” he said.
“ I want you back here when our child is born.” Cheyenne said as she lay in his arms a couple hours later.
“ I will be.” Johnny said. “ Seen Murdoch in town.”
“ What did he want?” she asked.
Johnny told her what happened, and what was said.
“ So he’s going to lose Lancer?” she asked.
“ Looks that way.” he said.
“ How do you feel about that? I mean, you were born there.” she asked.
“ Lancer isn’t my home. This is my home. He has a few days still to come up with the money.” Johnny said.
“ If that was your stomach I just heard, I better get up, and feed you and Scott.” she said as she got out of bed, and got dressed.
Murdoch stood watching a rider, and buggy go under the Lancer arch. He could tell who it was in the buggy, and see the shiny silver badge on the riders shirt. He knew Jim would be coming out with yesterday being the deadline for him to pay the loan off in full.
Jim stopped his buggy, and climbed down. “I’m sorry Murdoch, but you leave me no choice, but to foreclose on Lancer for default of payment on your loan.” he said. “ The sheriff has an eviction order for you to vacate the premises immediately.”
“ Vacate?” Murdoch said as he snatched the paper from Gabe’s hand. “ By law you can’t evict me from this land. Not unless you give me a thirty day notice of eviction Jim.”
“ I’m afraid he’s right Mister Pierpoint. He has thirty days from the time I serve him the notice, to vacate the property.” Gabe explained.
“ I’m perfectly aware of the laws in this matter sheriff.” Jim said. “ Murdoch, stalling like you are is only making things harder.”
“ Lancer is still mine for the next thirty days correct Gabe?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes and no.” Gabe said.
“ Mister Lancer! Even if you were to get the money you owe the bank in the next thirty days, it will do you no good. Lancer now belongs to the bank, and will in three months’ time be up for auction. I will allow you to take your personal belongings such as clothes, and pictures, and I will allow you to take one horse , saddle, and bridle. Anything else is bank property, and cannot be removed from the premises. If it is, you will be arrested. Do you understand?” Jim said.
“ Oh I understand perfectly. Get the hell off my property…..Now!” Murdoch ordered before turning, and going inside.
“ You made good time!” Major Hood said as he walked over to the corrals, and greeted Johnny, and Scott.
“ Yeah, they did real good.” Johnny said as he dismounted, and shook the majors hand.
“ I guess Major Hood let’s just anyone come into his fort!” a familiar voice from behind them said.
Johnny turned around, and smiled when he seen who it was. “ Dallas Stoudenmire. What the hell you doing here?” he asked as they shook hands.
“ Helping me.” another familiar voice said.
“ Sam Sixkiller. I thought you were a marshal for the Indian territory?” Johnny asked.
“ I am. I’m here with Dallas tracking two outlaws named Dick Vann, and Alf Cunningham.” Sam said. “ Scott.”
“ Marshal, it’s good to see you again.” Scott said.
“ Listen, the army never found Apache.” Sam said.
“ He’s dead. Little over a month ago he called me out in Green River, and lost.” Johnny said.
“ Well that’s one killing I’m glad happened, kid.” Dallas said. “ You know he’s responsible for at least the murder of ten whores. He also killed a husband and wife. I’ll spare you both what he did to them.”
“ Where’s that pretty little lady you had with you last time I seen ya?” Sam asked.
“ Cheyenne, she’s back home at the ranch. We go married on the way to California, and she is now expecting our first child.” Johnny said.
“ Well congratulations kid. I’m real happy for you. Not many gunfighters get a second chance at a better life. I’m glad you got out of the game Johnny.”
“ When’s the baby due?” Sam asked.
“ February.” Scott said.
“ You know, I was real leery of you that day. I’m glad I was wrong.” Dallas said to Scott.
“ That’s alright. I’m just glad you seen the right, and told me where my little brother was headed.” Scott said.
“ Listen, I’m sure you and your men are tired. The private will show you where you can clean up, and rest. Me and my wife would like you two too join us for supper tonight.” Major Hood said.
“ I want to hear all about how shocked you were when your brother found you.” Dallas said. “ And this horse ranch you now have.”
Murdoch stopped at the French doors, turned, and looked at the grand room for the last time.
“ I’m really sorry this happened Mister Lancer.”
“ I just don’t know where I went wrong at, Gabe. How did it come to this? How could I lose something that took me thirty years to build up?” Murdoch said.
“ I think you should be asking yourself how you could spend twenty years searching for a son, only to destroy him and take away everything he loved in one night?” Gabe asked.
Murdoch untied his horse, and turned to face him. “ I wasted twenty years, and a fortune in money searching for who I thought was my son, but in reality is nothing but a cold-blooded killer.”
“ After him living here five years, and almost dying defending this ranch from land pirates, and rustlers, you can say that about him? If you believe that about Johnny, then you, Murdoch, are the biggest fool in this valley.” Gabe said. “ Everybody in this valley loved Johnny. You brought this on yourself, and have only you to blame.”
Murdoch mounted up, took one last look around, and rode away from Lancer for the last time.
“ You know, when you think about it kid, Apache gave you the chance to get out of the business.” Dallas said.
“ How do you figure?” Scott asked.
“ Well, if he hadn’t robbed that stage with the Hill brothers, and left Johnny shot, your brother wouldn’t have went after him, and met his wife.” Dallas said. “ The money was insured, so that wasn’t why he went after him.”
“ Can I ask how you beat him?” Sam Sixkiller asked. “ The man was deadly fast with a gun.”
“ He was, but of the men I’ve faced, there’s one thing I’ve learned that’s obvious with them.” Johnny said.
“ What’s that?” h asked.
“ Most men when they face off in a gunfight don’t like their opponent close to them. Harder for a man to hit another if he’s close. He feels he has the advantage at a distance.” Johnny explained.
“ That’s why you walked closer to him?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, It changes his aim totally, and puts him at a disadvantage.” Johnny said. “ It gave me just enough edge to throw his shot off.”
“ So if you had not walked closer, he would have hit you in the chest instead of grazing you?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. I gambled, and it paid off.” he said.
“ How’s it been up in your neck of the woods since Custer?” Scott asked.
“ Still unsettling. The Lakota, and Cheyenne are still fighting.” Sam said.
“ Two hundred and sixty eight soldiers murdered in two days.” Major Hood said.
“ There was one survivor though. Captain Keogh’s horse Comanche was found by General Terry’s troop. Wounded, they took him back to the fort where he is now retired with full military honors.” Captain Cooper added.
“ I read about him in the paper.” Scott said.
“ Speaking of papers, I seen something about you that has me a little puzzled kid.” Dallas said. “ Who’s this Murdoch Lancer, and why’d he write about you like he did?”
Johnny stood up. “ If you will excuse me, I think I’m going to turn in now. Thank you for the fine supper Major.”
“ I’m sorry Scott. I didn’t mean to upset him. It’s just that what I read sounded like Johnny was in a range war, and this Lancer character lost.” Dallas said.
“ Murdoch Lancer is our father.” Scott said, and then told them what happened.
“ Sweet Jesus. I’m glad he has you.” Dallas said.
Scott stood up. “Actually marshal, it’s me who is the lucky one. I’m lucky to have a brother like Johnny, and I will die to protect him. Thank you for a fine dinner, and evening sir.”
Major Hood stood up. “ Who did you serve under?” he asked.
“ I was cavalry, and served with General Phil Sheridan sir.” Scott responded.
“ Thought so. You speak military.” the major said as they walked outside, and shook hands. “ Have a safe trip home.”
Agatha was in the corral with her foreman, Jim checking on a horse she had just purchased when she heard a rider approaching. “ What does he want?” she said.
“ Want me to handle it Mrs. Conway?” Jim asked.
“ No, but I want you to stay close. He’s changed, and I don’t trust him anymore.” Agatha said before walking out of the corral.
Murdoch stopped his horse. “ Aggie, how are you?”
“ I’m a little busy at the moment Murdoch. What can I do for you?” she said.
“ I’m sure you heard what’s happened to me.” Murdoch said. “ The whole valley seems to know.”
“ If you mean about losing Lancer, yes I heard. That doesn’t tell me what you are doing here now?” Aggie said.
“ I need a job Agatha. I’ve been to the other ranches, and none of them will hire me. You’re my last hope.” Murdoch responded.
“Get down, and come up on the porch.” Aggie said. “ I’ll be back in a minute.”
Murdoch walked up on the porch, and sat down in a chair.
“ I want you to eat this sandwich.” Aggie said as she came out with a sandwich. She couldn’t believe how he had changed. “ You look terrible, Murdoch.”
“ Thank you.” Murdoch said as he started to eat the sandwich.
“ What’s happened to you?’ My god Murdoch, you used to be so alive. Now look at you.” she said. “ Was it worth it? That night, what happened between you and Johnny, was it worth everything you’ve lost?”
Murdoch sat back in the chair, tears welled up in his eyes. The big strong man she had known for years was now broken. “ No, it wasn’t Aggie. But there’s nothing I can do about that now. What’s done, is done.”
“ You know you are going to be a grandfather in a couple of months.”
“ No I didn’t know that.” he said.
“ Cheyenne is a very nice lady. Her and Johnny are very much in love.” she said.
“ At least he didn’t do like his old man did, and get her with child before married.” he said.
“ Johnny never held that against you.” she said. “ Murdoch, all he ever wanted was for you to love him, and treat him as your son the way you treated Scott.”
“ I did…..I could never get past him being a gunfighter. No matter how hard I tried, every day I would see him wearing that gun and…..”
“ Murdoch, almost every hand wears a gun on a ranch. Why should that have bothered you so much with Johnny? Scott wore one. Yet it didn’t bother you.” she said.
“ I don’t know.” he said.
“Well, let me ask you this. What happened that day to set you on the path of anger when Johnny came home, and told you he didn’t get the fence done because he was busy saving a calf?” she asked.
“ It was the anniversary of the day Maria left me. I hadn’t planned on it being the way it was.” he said with sadness. “ I had planned on me and John having a night of talking maybe, or………I don’t know. He never talked about her to me. I have so many questions, and he would always say he didn’t know, or not answer me.”
“ Have you ever known Johnny to lie to you?” she asked.
“ About his mother, I don’t know. It’s clear she lied to him about me. Telling him I threw them out.” he said.
“ Yet that’s exactly what you did. You threw him out of the only place he ever felt safe at.” Agatha said. “ Your grandchild will be coming in about two months. I suggest you try and make amends with your son before that child is born so it has a grandfather.”
“ I tried. Johnny wants nothing to do with me ever again, and I don’t blame him.” Murdoch said as a tear rolled down his face. “ I’m a monster Aggie. I’ve tried to kill my own son, and get him arrested for horse stealing. I’ve beat him, fractured his jaw. Had the newspaper print a horrible letter I wrote them about him. I said terrible things to him…… I’m a monster.”
Agatha stood up. “ All you can do is try. Maybe for your grandchild’s sake things will get better. As for a job here, I’m sorry Murdoch, but I can’t hire you. You’re a stubborn man, and I know you wouldn’t be able to take orders from my foreman. I really am sorry.”
Murdoch stood up, and looked at her. “ I guess I can’t blame you any. I’ve set my path, and I’m the only one who can change it.” he said before stepping down to his horse. “ Thank you for the sandwich. I’ll see you Aggie.”
“ Murdoch, I want you to take this. It’s not much, but it will help.” she said as she took his hand, and placed the money in it.
“ I don’t want charity.” he said.
“ Take it, I insist.” she ordered.
Johnny, and Scott rode into the yard around midnight, and dismounted.“ I’ll take care of Barranca. Go see your wife.” Scott said. “ I’ll see you in the morning.”
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he handed him the reins before heading to the house. Upon entering the house, he headed to the bedroom. Opening the door, he smiled as he looked at his wife sleeping on her right side, her back to the door. Closing the door, he quietly walked over to the chair, removed his gun-belt, and clothes. Walking over to the side of the bed, he knelt down, and brushed her hair back off her face so he could give her a kiss on the cheek. Hearing her moan, he smiled before he started nibbling on her ear as his hands roamed over her belly. When Cheyenne finally opened her eyes to look at him, he smiled before he gently claimed her mouth, moaning as their tongues met, and danced. “ Hello beautiful.” he said softly as he started to unbutton her shirt so he could touch her belly.
“ Johnny, you’re home.” Cheyenne said as she rolled onto her back, and enjoyed his hands caressing her. “ I missed you so much my love. Your son has been kicking me like a mule these past few days, and nights.”
“ Maybe it’s a little girl, proud, and strong like her mother.” he said as he climbed in bed next to her, and pulled her to him to hold. “ The closer we got, all I could think about is holding you, touching you, and making love to you again.”
“ I have been waiting for you to come home, and do that very thing.” Cheyenne said as she climbed on top of him.
“ I don’t…..of god Cheyenne…….I don’t want to hurt you.” he said as he found himself pushing up against her wetness.
“ You won’t.” she said as she took hold if him, and guided him into her.
“ You sleep half the day away.” Maria said as she prepared lunch. “ Your hermano said you would not be joining him for breakfast.”
“ Lo siento mamacita.” Johnny said as he gave her a hug, and kiss on the cheek.
“ Estás muy flaco. Te haré engordar.” Maria said. ( You are too skinny. I will fatten you up.)
“ Oye, me he estado comiendo la cocina de mis hermanos durante casi tres meses.” Johnny responded with a laugh. ( Hey, I’ve been eating my brothers cooking for almost three months.)
“ I’ll remember that next trip brother.” Scott said.
“ So how did it go?” Cheyenne asked.
“ It went good. We only lost one horse.” Johnny said.
“ What happened?’ she asked.
“ Split his hoof clean thru, so I had to shoot him.” he responded.
“ Major Hood was very pleased with the horses, and a bit surprised we made such good time.” Scott said.
“ So who bought Lancer?” Johnny asked.
“ Nobody. The bank sold off the stock, and got their money back. It’s been sitting empty since your father was forced to leave it a month after you left.” Cheyenne said.
“ How much does the bank want for it?” Scott asked.
Johnny looked at his brother. “ You’re not seriously thinking of buying Lancer are you?”
“ If the price is right. Look Johnny, regardless of what happened with us and our father, Lancer will always be where you were born.” Scott said. “ Look, if I bought Lancer, it would be for the land for this ranch. It would be to expand into the biggest, and best quarter horse ranch in California. We know every inch of Lancer. It would work, but only if you give it a try.” Scott suggested. “ We could grow our own feed, and grain. I know it would work. With Lancer’s one hundred thousand acres, and our land, we would be able to have a nice set up.”
“ And what happens when the army doesn’t want to purchase horses from us anymore, Boston?” he asked.
“ I don’t think this ranch is going to go off just what you sell the army. Johnny, you are one hell of a horse breaker, and trainer. I see people bringing their horses here to be trained.” Scott said. “ Just think about it, that’s all I’m asking.”
“ John, would you like to hold your daughter?” Sam asked as he walked out of the bedroom.
Johnny walked over to Sam, and took the small bundle he had in his arms wrapped in a blanket. “ Is Cheyenne alright?” he asked.
“ She’s fine.” Sam said. “ This little lady came into this world as fast as her father did twenty seven years ago.”
Johnny looked down at his daughter, a tear ran down his face, and he didn’t care who seen it. “ I can’t believe she is finally here. I can’t believe I am holding my daughter.”
“ Believe it brother.” Scott said. “ Congratulations.”
A month later, Johnny, and Scott sat on the porch relaxing, when a rider approached. Johnny knew who it was, and let out a sigh.
“ I know you don’t want to see me again. I’m leaving the valley, but before I leave, there’s some things I needed to tell you.” Murdoch said.
“ Wade, take Murdoch’s horse to the barn, and unsaddle him..” Johnny ordered. “ See that he gets a good ration of food and grain.”
Murdoch dismounted, and stepped up onto the porch. “ I hear congratulations are in order.” he said.
Johnny opened the front door. “ Before you step inside this house, there’s something you need to know old man. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past few months. I’ve always believed in second chances, this ranch is giving me just that. A way out of the game, a chance to be a brother, husband, father, and that’s what I am going to offer you, a second chance at being a father, but only because I don’t want my daughter growing up not knowing her grandfather. What happened in the past, stays in the past from the moment you step inside this house. Understand?”
Murdoch tried to swallow a lump that just wouldn’t go down. Clearing his throat he shook his head as he fought back the tears. Stepping inside he found Cheyenne coming out of the bedroom holding a baby.
“ Mister Lancer, would you like to hold your granddaughter?” she asked.
“ I would be honored too.” Murdoch said with a quiver in his voice.
Cheyenne handed the baby to Murdoch. “Meet Alejandra Josephine Lancer.” she said as she handed the baby to him.
“ Lancer?” Murdoch said.
“ It’s my birthright last name.” Johnny said. “ Alejandra means protector of humankind.”
“ Like her father.” Murdoch said.
“ Look, I know it will take time for things to mend over between us. I want you in my children’s lives as they grow up. I don’t want them going thru what I did without you in my life. A grandfather is just as important in a child’s life as a father is. Are you up to that challenge?” Johnny said, and asked.
“ You bet I am.” Murdoch said. “ I can never express, or say how sorry I am John. Thank you for giving a foolish old man a second chance.”
“ You’re welcome.” Johnny said. “ Scott has something to tell you, and I think you might want to be sitting down for it.”
“ The bank made it’s money from selling the stock, and as I’m sure you are aware, Lancer is still for sale. I talked to the bank yesterday, and we now own Lancer.” Scott said.
“ There are considerable changes though.” Johnny said. “ Lancer is no longer a cattle ranch. It’s primarily a quarter horse ranch. I sell a hundred head of green broke horses to the army every year at roughly two hundred dollars a head. My contract is for ten years, plus I will be breaking, and training horses for others.”
“ Mister Lancer, what the boys want to know is, would you like to live with us, and help raise your grandchildren?” Cheyenne asked.
“ And maybe Boston will ask Julie to marry him, and give you grandchildren too.” Johnny said.
“ Live at Lancer again?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes.” Johnny, and Scott said simultaneously.
Johnny stood on the hill above Lancer fifteen years later. His horse ranch became the best in the valley. His training abilities renown, his horses sold all over. His ability to train cutting horses became his best money maker. Some called him a horse whisperer, and all said they never seen a man with such a light hand on the rein, command so much from a horse, doing so little.
“ We’ve come a long way old man.” he said as he stood in the Lancer cemetery.
“ I know he’s proud of you brother. Of what you have built up.” Scott said.
“ I’m glad he got to know his grandchildren, and went peacefully in his sleep.” Johnny said.
“ So am I brother. I hate to ruin the moment, but you have a meeting in an hour.” Scott said.
“ No rest for the weary.” Johnny said as he mounted up. “ You know, I always thought that night I left Lancer changed my life forever. It didn’t. My life changed the day I met Cheyenne.”
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment. Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here. You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Nancy Marie directly.