I don’t own them. I’m just borrowing them for some fun. All original characters belong to their rightful owners CBS/FOX or whoever it is now. Any characters that were not in any Lancer episodes are mine.
This story is part 2 to “ The Capture ” This one will have an R- Rating for Language.
Teresa O’Brian Madrid
Jesse Alexander Madrid ( Son )
Allen Martin, Senior Pinkerton Detective.
James Stiles, Sheriff, Dodge City, Kansas.
Charlie Pierce, Deputy Sheriff, Dodge City, Kansas.
Luke Skinner, Deputy Sheriff, Dodge City, Kansas.
Ben Thompson, owner of Rocking ”R” Ranch, Dodge City, Kansas.
Billy Thompson, son and foreman Rocking ”R” Ranch.
Nick Boswell, hand, Rocking ” R ” Ranch, Dodge City, Kansas.
Stan Parker, Doctor, Dodge City, Kansas.
Jack Taylor, Trail Boss, Texas.
Nick Boswell, hand, Rocking ”R” Ranch.
Sam Brown, Hand, Rocking ”R”Ranch.
” Shorty ” Colbert, Gunfighter.
Jim ” Killer ” Miller, Gunfighter.
” Little Bill ” Slade, Gunfighter.
Lawrence Ross, Cattleman’s Association President.
Hardy Runnels, Rancher, San Joaquin Valley.
Ed Clark, Rancher, San Joaquin Valley.
Judge Wright, Dodge City, Kansas.
James H. ” Dog ” Kelley, Mayor, Dodge City, Kansas.
Word count: 66,480
“Just where do you think you are going?” Murdoch demanded.
“ As far away from you as I can get.” Teresa responded. “ You’re an evil, vicious person Murdoch Lancer. You should be ashamed of yourself for what you did to Johnny last night. You the same as tore his heart out.”
“ Do I need to remind you that you are my ward, and I will not permit you to leave here and go after that killer.” Murdoch said firmly as he slammed his coffee cup down on the table.
“ You try and stop me and I will tell every person in this valley what an evil person you were to your own son.” Teresa threatened.
“ Go ahead. Most of the people in this valley will be glad he’s gone.” Murdoch snapped back. “ I forbid you from ever seeing that killer ever again.”
“ You can’t keep me from him. I’m leaving here Murdoch, and I will find Johnny, marry him, and give him children.” Teresa said.
Murdoch stood up and walked over to her, grabbing her arm. “ I will hunt you down if you leave here!”
“ Stop it Murdoch, you’re hurting my arm. Let go of me.” Teresa pleaded.
“ Let go of her arm right now!” Scott ordered from behind them.
Murdoch let go of Teresa’s arm and turned around to face his oldest. “
“ Teresa, I have Rose saddled and waiting with my horse out front. Go ahead and go out. I’ll be along.” Scott said.
“ You take her away from here, I will have you hunted down and arrested for kidnapping.” Murdoch ordered.
“ I believe you will, but you know, after what I heard last night, that’s a risk I’m willing to take if it gets Teresa away from you. All my brother ever wanted was a father to love him, and a woman he could love and be happy with. Both of which he was entitled to have until you took that away from him last night.” Scott said. “ I believe you told me and Johnny once that you love this ground more than anything God ever created. Well, I hope you enjoy it, because I didn’t need you or Lancer before I came here, and I sure as hell don’t need you now. I intend on finding my little brother and doing everything I can to keep him from being killed.” Scott said firmly before turning and walking out, leaving Murdoch standing there alone.
“ What makes you so sure Johnny came here last night?” Teresa asked as they stopped in front of Sam’s office and dismounted.
“ Because he was hurt, and he might have wanted someone to talk too. I have a feeling my little brother has told Sam things he will never tell me, or you.” Scott responded.
“ I should have spoke up last night Scott. I should have told Murdoch how much I love Johnny. Instead I just stood there and said nothing. I said nothing in defense of the man I love.” Teresa said with Tears in her eyes.
“ Hey, you were scared, Johnny knows you love him. I think the only one in that room last night not afraid of Murdoch was Johnny.” Scott responded.
“ If you hadn’t have been there, Johnny would have killed Murdoch last night wouldn’t he?” she asked.
“ I don;t want to believe it, but just between you and me, I believe he would have if Clay hadn’t come in.” Scott responded. “ Let’s go see Sam, and find out how bad he was hurt.” Scott said as he opened the door.
“ Scott, Teresa, what are you doing here?” Sam asked.
“ Has he been here Sam?” Scott asked.
“ Has who been here?”
“ Johnny, did he come see you last night?” Scott asked again.
“ Please Sam!” Teresa said.
“ He did. Would you care to tell me what the hell happened? I have never seen anyone as hurt as that boy was last night!” Sam demanded with anger.
“ Easy Sam, we’re not the enemy.” Scott responded.
“ I take it you and Johnny fell in love, and Murdoch found out about it last night?” Sam asked Teresa.
“ Yes. We don’t know what was said before Johnny fired his shot waking us both up, but yes, Murdoch found out me and Johnny have been seeing each other. We had planned to marry, but last night……..”
“ Sam, how bad were his injuries?” Scott asked.
“ Nothing as serious as his broken heart. What in Gods name would make that man say those awful words to his own son?” Sam responded.
“ I’ve been asking myself that all night Sam. Did he say anything at all about where he might be headed?” Scott asked.
“ No, but he did write a letter to each of you before he left.” Sam said as he went to his desk and opened the top drawer. “ I don;t know what he said in them.” Sam said as he handed them the letters.
Scott unfolded his and read it.
Scott I ain’t much good at writing a letter, ain’t had much cause to until now, never had anyone who cared about me beyond my gun until you came along. I’m sorry brother, but I probably won’t be coming back to Lancer. I can’t, not after hearing those words come from his mouth. Take care of Teresa for me, don’t let her grieve over my absence, I’m not worth it. You have been the best big brother I could ever have, even though we had some bad times, I will always remember the good ones more. Guess what they say is true, a gunfighter is old if he makes it to my age. I’m sure glad I got to with you.
Scott turned to face the wall as tears ran down his cheeks. ‘ Not worth it ‘ ‘ Never coming back ‘ both words he could understand after what happened last night. What was said before he came downstairs he would never know until he found his little brother again.
“ Are you alright Scott?” Sam asked.
Knowing his voice would fail him, Scott nodded his head as he felt a gentle hand on his left shoulder.
Teresa unfolded her letter as she walked over and sat down in chair to read it.
Please don’t grieve for me. You gave me something I never thought I would ever get the chance to have, a person to love who loved me. A person who accepted my past, and wanted a future with me. I never meant to hurt you. I will never love another woman. I can’t because my heart will always belong to you. Take care of Rose and keep up with her training. She’ll be a great horse for you. I love you my querida.
Looking up at Sam and Scott with tears in her eyes. “ We have to find him Scott. I don;t care how long it takes. Please.”
“ We will. Sam, did you notice which way Johnny rode out of town?” Scott asked.
“ South. I told him to keep in touch with me and let me know where he’s at. He trust me enough I think he will.” Sam responded.
“ Alright. We’ll head south. I just hope he’s not going back into Mexico. The Rurales will shoot him on sight.” Scott said.
“ Thank you Sam.” Teresa said as she gave the man a hug.
“ You two deserve to be together. I hope you can find him before it’s too late.” Sam said.
Johnny poured a cup of coffee and set back against his saddle. Having thought about what exactly he would do now. Johnny decided he would go east where he knew he could put his skills to work again. One thing he had learned while at Lancer, is how ranchers from Texas had tripled in the herds they were moving to the rail-yard in Abilene, Kansas. Cow-towns had a reputation for being rowdy, sometimes deadly places to be. A lot of people were expanding west as well as the railroads making shipping beef to slaughter that much easier. He figured he could make Abilene before winter if he rode down around the Rockies through Arizona, and New Mexico, and then back up to Dodge City, Kansas before heading on up to Abilene. Looking up at the stars, Johnny let his mind wander back to that day at the line-shack. How she walked out to him with nothing more than a blanket around her. How he loved the feel of her soft skin beneath him as he made love to her. Never did he imagine the next day all the happiness he had would be shattered by cruel words. Words he never thought he would ever hear his father say to him. ‘ Filthy half-breed bastard ‘ is what he called him. She just stood there. The woman he loved more than anything else just stood there, never once offering to tell the old man how she felt about him. Never once did she declare her love for him to his father. Why? Was she so scared because of the beating she had seen him get already? Could that be why she never proclaimed her love for him like he did for her? At least his brother had tried to defend him. He could hear Scott as he walked to the barn to saddle Barranca that night. Never again would he love another woman. Never again would he let anyone get close to his heart. Then something else entered his mind about Teresa. Could she be with child, his child. Even though they weren’t married yet, both strived for that to happen. What would the old man do to her, to his child if she was. Would he ship her off to some ill-reformed home for unwed mothers, or force her to give their child up after birth. Every question angered him more as he thought about him and the hateful words he said.
“ It’s been three months Scott, and no sign of Johnny. How are we going to find him down here?” Teresa asked softly as they ate supper in El Paso.
“ Short of putting an add in every newspaper west of the Mississippi river, I haven’t got a clue. It’s like he just disappeared.” Scott responded.
“ What do we do if we don’t find him by the time winter comes?” Teresa asked.
“ Find someplace we can stay I guess. I’m not having you out in the cold. I would never be able to forgive myself if you caught pneumonia because we are out here looking for what appears to be a ghost now.” Scott suggested.
“ I tell ya it was him! I seen it happen. He gunned down those two almost as soon as they walked out into the street. He didn’t try talking them out of it or nothin’ like he used to do.” a man said as him and another man walked into the cafe to eat.
“ Had to be someone else, Madrid was gunned down something like four years ago in Mexico by the Rurales.” the other man said.
“ Believe what ya wants. I know what I seen, and I’m telling you Johnny Madrid is alive and gunned down the Parker brothers in Ft. Sumner. Everybody witnessed how they kept goading Madrid on to fight them. That he couldn’t bet the two of them because they were the fastest in the territory. Hell even ole John Chisholm seen it and Sheriff Brady. It was Johnny Madrid, and he’s changed. You can see it in his eyes. That man, anyone gets in his way or calls him out is as good as dead.”
Scott looked at Teresa as he listened to what the one man was saying about Johnny. He could see the relief in her eyes knowing Johnny was still alive, but worry was there also. Worry and fear. “ Let’s go upstairs where we can talk more privately.” Scott suggested.
Johnny rode into Dodge City, Kansas late afternoon. Stopping at the Great Western Hotel and dismounting. Stepping up onto the boardwalk, Johnny looked around and could see a barber shop, several saloons, dance halls, Mercantile and general stores. One business name in particular brought a smile to his face. Frederick Zimmermann’s Guns and and Hardware store. Shaking his head as he turned to go inside and get a room.
“ Your kinds not allowed in here!” the clerk said as Johnny walked up to the counter.
“ Mister, I’m not in the mood. I’ve had a real short temper these last few month’s, so you might want to rethink what you just said to me.” Johnny said. “ Now, I want a room and a hot bath.”
“ It’s alright Steve. He can stay here.” A man said as he walked into the lobby. A shiny silver star pinned on his chest. “ How the hell are you kid?”
“ Been better. What the hell you doing here? I thought you were a lawman down in El Paso?” Johnny asked as he signed the register as J.M.
The clerk looked at the signature, his face turning two shades of gray as he reached for a key. “ Please accept my apologies Mister Madrid. I thought you were one of those drovers who tried to come in yesterday.” Steve explained as he handed the key to Madrid. “ I’ll get your bath started right away for you.”
“ Appreciate it. You have supper with me tonight?” Johnny asked.
“ How about we eat at Karen’s cafe?” the sheriff asked.
“ Let me get my horse stabled, cleaned up, and I’ll meet you there so we can catch up.” Johnny suggested.
“ Sounds good. Say two hours, that long enough for you to clean up?” the sheriff asked.
“ Yeah. Good seeing you again James.” Johnny said as they walked outside.
Murdoch sat in the cafe in Green River, reading the Pinkerton letter he had waited so long to receive. Six months ago his whole world turned upside down, and all because once again he let his temper get the better of him. Instead of handling the situation between Johnny and Teresa like a father should have, he beat his son, and banished him from the only home he had ever known. The words he said to his youngest that night have haunted his dreams every night since.
I am writing to tell you I have located the two people you asked me to find, Scott Lancer, and Teresa O’Brian, they are in Amarillo, Texas, staying at the Wainwright Hotel registered under the name Scott Garrett. They are staying for the winter. It is believed they are headed to Kansas, once winter passes. The other name you asked me to search for, Johnny Madrid, is it would seem, working as a deputy sheriff in Dodge City. I have come across numerous reports of Madrid being in gunfighters across the southwest. Some saying those who called him out where gunned down almost as soon as they walked out into the street. That one man, Madrid shot in his scrotum, just to watch him bleed to death. Another report I heard tells how Madrid cut a man from his privates to his throat for beating a woman. That man died the next day. In all counts, Johnny Madrid is fast building a reputation more dangerous than the one he had before. It seems he is both feared and hated along the border more now than he ever was.
A man I spoke to in El Paso said he witnessed Madrid gun down two brothers in Fort Sumner. Witness accounts filed at the sheriffs office say the brothers goaded Madrid into the fight. A well respected leading citizen, a Mister John Chisholm also witnessed this shooting, and said he had never in all his life seen a man as deadly as Madrid. If you wish me to continue in the spring, you can reach me here at the Amarillo office.
Amarillo, Texas Branch.
“ My god, what have I done?” Murdoch asked aloud. He knew from all the other reports that this behavior his youngest son had was not normal. None of them said anything about him being so cold, uncaring, and so violent. Was it because of him? Did what he said to Johnny that night six months ago cause him to cross that fine line?
Men beyond redemption is what Johnny told his father once. Redemption clearly becoming something he cared nothing about anymore. Now it seemed he was headed straight to Purgatory on a fast horse. Looking out the window, he seen Sam walking back to his office. Paying his bill, Murdoch headed outside.
Sam sat at his desk, a smile on his ace as he read a letter from Johnny. A letter he was happy to receive. Last week he had received a letter from Scott telling him they were fine and in Amarillo until spring. That the winters there were brutally cold due to the relentless howling winds he didn’t feel Teresa should be out there in the weather. That he could never forgive himself if she caught Pneumonia and died.
“ Sam.” Murdoch said as he stepped into the office.
Startled Sam folded the letter up and put it in the top drawer of his desk. “ What do you want?” he asked gruffly as he stood up.
“ I was wondering if you would like to come out to Lancer for supper tomorrow night? It gets lonely having nobody to eat a meal with.” Murdoch asked.
“ And whose fault is that?” Sam demanded. “ I will never understand you Murdoch Lancer. All those years you searched for that boy, only to crush his heart like you did, saying what you did to him that night. I have no intention of eating a meal with you at that ranch you seem to covet more than your own flesh and blood.” Sam responded.
“ Sam, it’s been six months. Do you think I haven’t been punishing myself over that night? My God Sam, every night since I have had those words haunt me in my sleep. Every morning I wake up, exhausted, and praying it was a bad dream, but I know it wasn’t. I know I handled it wrong. If I could go back and change that night I would, but I can’t. Every day I pray my sons will come back home to me. That Teresa will come back home to me so I can tell them just how sorry I am for what I did, for what I said to Johnny.” Murdoch said with a quiver in his voice as tears welled up in his eyes. “ I killed my son Sam. I sent Johnny right back out there to face men who want nothing better than to kill him. I chased him away from the only home he ever had. The only place he ever felt safe at. What kind of man does that to his own son?” Murdoch asked as he finally let the tears fall as he sat down in a chair and put his big hands over his face.
“ If you come here looking for answers, I’m afraid I have none. You’re the only one who can answer those questions Murdoch. You’re the only one who can do something about this. I just hope it’s not too late.” Sam said.
“ It already is too late Sam.” Murdoch said as he wiped away his tears and took out the letter from the Pinkerton agent , handing it to Sam.
“ I know they write to you Sam. Please don’t tell them I am having them watched. I’m begging you, please.”
Sam took the letter, read it, and handed it back to Murdoch. “ I’m not at liberty to discuss who I correspond with. See, a letter from Scott, Teresa, or Johnny would fall under doctor patient privileges. Now if you don’t mind, I have patients I need to check on.”
Johnny walked into the Karen’s cafe, and spotted sheriff Stiles sitting at a table in the corner.
“ You look better.” James said.
“ I probably sell better too.” Johnny added as he sat down.
“ I promise you will love the food here. Karen is one hell of a cook.” James said as a woman started toward them with coffee. “ And she’s not that bad looking either.” he added with a smile. “ Karen, I would like you to meet a very good dear friend of mine.” James said.
“ Johnny Madrid, as I live and breath.” Karen said. “ I hope you’re here to help James tame this damn town down.” she said as she poured their coffee.
“ I’m just passing through ma’am. On my way to Abilene.” Johnny responded.
“ You look like you’ve been eating out of your saddlebags. How about I cook you up a big ole stead and potato’s?” Karen asked.
“ Sounds good. Thank you.” Johnny responded.
“ You want your usual James?” she asked.
“ No, make mine a steak and potato’s too. I have a feeling tonight’s gonna be a rough one.” Sheriff Stiles responded.
“ Friday nights usually are.” Karen said as she walked away.
“ What’s going on?” Johnny asked.
“ This town has a population of seven hundred people. A population that jumps to well over five thousand when the herds start arriving Johnny. I can’t keep deputies. Most of the men in town are married, and want nothing to do with it. Hell most stay off the streets in their homes too afraid.” Sheriff Stiles explained.
“ So what do you want form me?” Johnny asked.
“ I hate to say this, but I need Madrid. I need your gun hand. I think once word gets around that you’re here, the town will calm down. It’s mostly Friday and Saturday nights that are the problem.”
“ When does this trouble start?” Johnny asked.
“ The first herds will start arriving in about two months from Texas.” James responded.
“ Two months huh. Guess that’s enough time for the word to get out. Course you do realize me being here could also bring men calling me out.” Johnny responded.
“ I read an article in the paper about you. About how you gunned down two brothers in Fort Sumner. How John Chisholm, who drives his cattle here also I might add, told the reporter you were the fastest and deadliest he had ever seen in his life.” Sheriff Stiles said as Karen brought their food.
“ Here ya go. I have an apple pie fresh out of the oven for dessert for you two.” she said as she set their plates down.
“ Thank you Karen.” James said.
“ Enjoy.” she said before walking away.
“ Article said they barely got out in the street and you gunned them both down.” the sheriff added.
“ They had their chance before they walked into that saloon and called me out. Look, my gun don’t come cheap. I have plans that are going to require money.” Johnny said.
“ Job pays deputies a hundred dollars a month, all ammunition, meals and lodging.”
“ Seems like a lot of risk for just a hundred dollars a month.” Johnny said as he cut his steak up.
“ Plus it pays two dollars and fifty cents for every arrest made. Kid, I made twenty five hundred dollars or more a month last year when the herds started coming in.” Sheriff Stiles explained. “ Think about it Johnny, twenty five hundred a month for six months work.”
“ What about after the herds are gone, what then?” Johnny asked.
“ Then it’s easy street. Oh sure we get the usual drunk cowboy on Saturday nights, but they’re usually from the nearby ranches.” James responded.
“ Let me think on it and I’ll give you an answer in the morning at breakfast.” Johnny said.
“ Fair enough. Can I ask you a personal question kid?” James asked.
“ Yeah, whether I answer it depends on the question.” Johnny said before taking a bite of his steak.
“ You seem like you got a pretty serious chip on your shoulder about something. I know you don’t like to talk about personal things, Are you okay?” James asked.
“ Had something I thought was good, only to find out it was all a lie.” Johnny responded.
“ You know you’re my friend. Any time you want to talk.” he said.
“ Tell me about Zimmermann’s. He speak with an accent by chance?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, he’s from Sweden I think. Why, you know him?” the sheriff asked.
“ Maybe.” Johnny said.
“ You ready to go?” Scott asked.
“ Yes. So where do we head?” Teresa asked.
“ Dodge City, Kansas. It would seem Johnny took a job there as a deputy sheriff.” Scott explained.
“ A deputy.” Teresa said.
“ From what I could learn, Dodge City has a lot of trouble from the hands that come into town with the herds. Someone like Johnny can help the law, and apparently the sheriff felt that way too.”
“ How far is it to Dodge City?” Teresa asked.
“ About two hundred and fifty miles. If the weather is good, we should make it in ten days of we can ride twenty five miles a day.” Scott responded.
“ What about Indians?” she asked.
“ There’s a herd just outside town headed there. I talked to the foreman, and he said there hasn’t been any trouble from Indians for a few years now. He offered we could ride with them if you like.” Scott explained.
“ I don’t think that would be a good idea. Besides we can make better time than they can.” Teresa responded.
“ That’s what I told him, but I said I would ask you.” Scott said. “ Did you finish your letter to Mrs Conway?”
“ Yes. I imagine she knows whats happened.” Teresa responded.
“ I expect she does. If she’s seen Sam, she knows the truth. Shall we go to Dodge City?” Scott said.
“ That’s far enough boys.” Johnny yelled. “ Hand over your guns.” he ordered.
“ Who the hell are you?” Boswell yelled back.
“ I’m a new deputy. Now since you boys were here last, there’s been some changes. Starting with no firearms allowed in city limits, except those worn by the law.” Johnny explained.
“ I see just one of you, and there’s three of us deputy. Why don’t you come on over here and try and take my gun?” Billy Thompson said.
“ Billy, I know your father won’t be happy if you get thrown in jail again.” Deputy Skinner said from the second floor balcony of the Drovers Cottage as he aimed a scatter gun at them.
“ I don’t think his old man will be as mad as his mother.” Deputy Pierce said as he walked out of the Drovers Cottage with a scatter gun in his hands also.
“ Now would you boys rather spend Saturday night in jail, or with those ladies you like spending your money on?” Sheriff Stiles asked as he walked out of Karen’s cafe with a scatter gun also.
Billy Thompson rode his horse up to Johnny. “ I don’t take orders from nobody except my pa. I especially ain’t taking no orders from a half-breed.”
“ I’d reconsider it Billy. You don;t know who you’re dealing with.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“Who he is makes no difference to me.” Billy said.
“ Sheriff, before Billy here goes and does something stupid. You might want to tell him my name.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny, this here is Billy Thompson. His old man owns the biggest ranch around. Billy here thinks that gives him special privileges, and he can do whatever he wants when in town.” Sheriff Stiles explained. “ Billy, say hello to Madrid, Johnny Madrid.” he added.
Johnny watched as the color drained from all three men’s faces.
“ You’re Johnny Madrid?” Brown asked.
“ Now, why don’t you boys just hand those guns over nice and slow so you can go have a good time?” Johnny ordered.
“ This ain’t the end of it.” Billy said as he handed over his pistol. “ You’ll be hearing from my old man.”
“ Look forward to it. Be sure and tell him and any other hands to leave their guns at home.” Johnny said with a slight smile.
Sheriff Stiles walked over to Johnny after Billy, Boswell, and Brown rode away. “ You got a lot of guts Madrid.”
“ Are you really Johnny Madrid?” Deputy Pierce asked.
“ Charlie Pierce, Luke Skinner, this is Johnny Madrid, our new deputy.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ Holy shit. I heard of you. I never thought I would actually get to meet you.” Deputy Pierce said as he reached to shake Johnny’s hand.
“ What brought you way up here from Mexico?” Deputy Luke Skinner asked as he shook Johnny’s hand.
“ Just wanted a change if scenery. Figured I’d ride up to the Canadian border and back down through Montana. Make me some money when I can.” Johnny responded.
“ If I remember you wanted to start up a horse ranch somewhere. You still have that notion?” James asked.
“ Maybe.” Johnny said.
“ Well, It’s only nine o’clock. We better get back to work Luke. It was good meeting you Johnny.” Charlie said.
“ You know, Ben Thompson comes into town tomorrow, he’s gonna try and chew you a new one for what you did to his kid tonight.” James said.
“ Laws the law. I don’t care who you are. It’s the same for a spoiled rich kid as it is for anyone else in Dodge City.” Johnny said.
“ I wouldn’t say it that way to the old man tomorrow if I were you. That man has a temper.” James said as they walked down the street.
Johnny stopped walking. “ You telling me I should keep my mouth shut James?” he demanded.
“ No, I’m just saying not to say what you just did to the father like that is all Johnny.” James responded.
“ I don’t give a fuck who his father is, or thinks he is. There all alike, rich cattle ranches. Only care about themselves and use anyone they can before they……….”
“ Hey, easy kid. What’s got you so pissed off?” James asked.
Johnny stared at his friend before turning and walking away, leaving James wondering what was wrong. He knew something was hurting Johnny, and with what was just said, and not said, he had a hunch it had something to do with the kids old man. Tomorrow he would try and find out what was eating at his friend.
Ben Thompson dismounted in front of the sheriff’s office. “ You keep your mouth shut, and let me do the talking boy. You hear me?” he ordered as he opened the door.
Sheriff Stiles sat at his desk going over last nights arrest records, making sure everyone who had been arrested was written down. “ Damn.”
“ I want a word with you sheriff, and that no good deputy who took my sons gun from him last night.” Ben Thompson said as he walked into the office, followed by his son.
“ Ben, I don’t know what your boy here told you, but there’s a new law in town about not wearing your firearm within city limits.” James explained. “ My deputy was enforcing that law is all.”
“ A law your son seems he doesn’t have to obey.” Johnny said from the door. “ Law applies to everyone.”
“ My son isn’t everyone. This town wouldn’t be thriving like it is if it wasn’t for me and my ranch. My men stop coming here. Every one of those businesses out there will lose.” Ben said.
“ Henry J. Sitler started Dodge City Mister Thompson five years ago. Before then it was nothing but Fort Larned and Fort Dodge. You yourself have only been here three years.” Johnny responded. “ The only difference between your son and anyone else’ son in this town is yours thinks he special and deserves special treatment because his daddy is a rich cattle rancher who bullies other people around. The next time your spoiled brat rides into town and he’s wearing his gun, I will personally throw his ass in jail for two days.”
“ You better remember who you’re talking to. The last boy who talked back to me like you just did is buried in boot hill.
“ You don’t scare me Mister Thompson.” Johnny said as he stepped closer to the man. “ Don’t call me boy again.”
“ Ben, I think you should know who it is you’re talking too!” Sheriff Stiles cut in.
“ A dead man if he thinks……….”
“ He’s Johnny Madrid.” James said.
Mister Thompson stood glaring at Johnny a minute, letting the name sink in before he turned and walked out of the jail.
“ Pa, why’d ya walk out? He ain’t nobody.” Billy said.
Ben slapped his son hard across the face. “ You stupid jackass. Did you know who he was last night?”
“ They said his name. So what.” Billy responded.
“ So what. Boy, you have no idea how close you came to getting me killed in there just now. Johnny Madrid happens to be the fastest, and deadliest gunfighter west of the Mississippi river.” Ben explained as he got on his horse.
“ So you’re gonna tuck tail and run from him?” Billy asked as he mounted up.
“ I ain’t running from him. Nobody talks to me like that. Including a half-breed gun-hawk.” Ben said as they rode away.
“ Don’t think we’ve heard the last of this Johnny. You showed old man Thompson up in front of his son. He’s not going to forget that.” James said. “ How about we go get some lunch?”
“ Sounds good.” Johnny said as the two headed out the door.
Murdoch rode up to the Conway house and dismounted.. It had been a long time since he visited his oldest, dearest friend, and figured now would be a good time. His attempt to talk to Sam, before winter had really hurt him. The hands did what they were told each day, but none of them made small talk with him like they did when Johnny and Scott were there. Maria and Cipriano quite and moved back to Mexico to be with their family when winter was over. Lancer was struggling, four hundred head of cattle he had planned on selling, died due to the snow being so deep, they couldn’t get to food. The most Lancer had ever lost in a winter. The only animals who made it through unscathed where the ones with fall calves closest to the ranch house, and the mustangs out by Black Mesa.
“ Murdoch, what are you doing here? I thought you would be busy with getting your herd ready to drive to market?” Aggie asked.
“ There isn’t going to be a drive this year. I lost four hundred head during winter. The snow was too deep. My hands couldn’t get enough feed to them.” Murdoch responded as he walked up the steps.
“ You look like you haven’t slept in a long time. Go sit down while I get us some coffee.” Aggie suggested.
Murdoch removed his hat and sat down at the table Aggie had on her porch.
“ I take it you have heard nothing from any of them?” Aggie asked as she set a tray with coffee down on the table.
“ No, and I can’t blame them. I’ll probably never see or hear from either of my sons or Teresa ever again.” Murdoch said as he picked up his cup of coffee and took a sip.
“ Murdoch, you are my oldest and dearest friend, but sometimes you let your temper get the better of you. Don’t you think you could have handled it a little more mature than you did?” she asked.
“ Johnny and Teresa are the ones who were not mature in this Aggie. Especially Johnny. He took advantage of an innocent girl just to fulfill his wants and needs.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Murdoch Lancer, don’t you dare sit there and say that about Johnny, not when you yourself did the very same thing with his mother down in Matamoros, Mexico, twenty years ago.” Aggie snapped back.
“ That was different. I was much more mature than him, and Maria was not a seventeen year old innocent child. She was a grown woman.” Murdoch responded.
“ A grown woman, and you you say a mature, grown man. All you did was fulfill your wants and needs. The only difference is you got Maria pregnant with Johnny.” Aggie responded.
“ For all I know Teresa could be with child also.” Murdoch said.
“ Well she’s not. So you can stop hating them for that possibility. You should be ashamed of yourself. Teresa told me what happened that night. Why in God’s name would you do something like that, say such cruel words to a son you spent so long looking for? What in God’s name were you thinking?” Aggie demanded.
“ How do you know Teresa isn’t with child?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Because she writes to me. I had a very nice conversation with Teresa about becoming a woman. I talked to her when she was here about things you as a man would not understand.” Aggie responded firmly.
“ How dare you talk to Teresa about such things Agatha.! She’s just a child!” Murdoch said with anger.
“ No she’s not. Teresa was seventeen years old. Murdoch, a girl is supposed to have her coming out party when she is sixteen. Did you even realize how lonely she was? How hurt she was that all her female friends had someone to court them, and she had none?”
“ She didn’t have gentlemen callers because of Johnny. No boy was going to go near Teresa with a killer hanging around.” Murdoch said with anger.
Aggie stood up. “ God help you Murdoch Lancer. I hope that some day you wake up and realize what you have lost.” Aggie said before going inside and closing the door.
“ We should be in Dodge City tomorrow afternoon.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee.
“ We’re that close?” Teresa asked as she turned the bacon. “ How do you think he will act when he sees us?”
“ I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I have a feeling he’s not going to be too happy when he sees you.” Scott responded.
“ Me, why?” she asked.
“ Because I allowed you to go traipsing around out here. He’s especially not going to be happy if he finds out you were in El Paso.” Scott said.
“ I am not a little girl. He goes getting mad I will remind him that if we hadn’t been in El Paso, we would never have known he was up here in Kansas. That we would still be down along the border somewhere looking for him.” Teresa said firmly.
“ You do have a stubborn streak in you. I just hope little brother doesn’t try and push us away.” Scott said.
“ He wouldn’t dare. Not if I have anything to say about it Scott.” she said as she handed him a plate of food. “ Have you wondered about him? Murdoch I mean.”
“ I try not too. Every time I do, I start to get angry over what he said to Johnny that night.” Scott responded.
“ I never thought I would ever hear those words come from him. The whole time he was recovering fro being shot in the back, he asked for Johnny. I know it was the fever, but still.” Teresa said.
“ Sam said once that the mind isn’t capable of lying when a person is unconscious or asleep. That most of the time they won’t remember what they said.” Scott explained.
“ Johnny talked a lot about his mother when he was asleep. I would lay next him at the line-shack and listen to him.” Teresa said.
“ What would he say? Or am I not allowed to know.”
Mostly he was pleading with her to help him. To stop the beatings. Oh Scott, it was so horrible to lay there and hear him begging whoever it was beating him to stop.” Teresa said with a quiver in her voice.
“ Did he ever mention any names?” he asked.
“ Just once. He was mumbling in Spanish. He said he swore he would kill someone named Vaca. Do you know who he is?” she asked.
“ He’s a captain with the Rurales. Johnny mentioned his name once from when he was fighting in the Mexican Revolution.” Scott explained. “ Teresa, the look Johnny had in his eyes that day. He wants to kill that man.”
“ You realize we could get hung for this Billy. I’m out. I’m sorry Billy, but I’m not going to be part of murdering a deputy sheriff just because he took your gun from you.” Nick Boswell said. “ You had any smarts Sam, you’d come with me. He’s the one who wants him dead. Let him do it.”
“ You walk away from here, you keep right on going. I don’t want to ever see your coward face again around Dodge City.” Billy ordered as he watched Madrid check the doors of the businesses across the street.
Johnny tried the banks front door, finding it locked he walked around to the side delivery door to check it, never noticing the figure lurking in the shadows across the street pointing a pistol, just waiting for him to step back into the light of the street lanterns.
“ For gods sake Sam, think about this.” Nick pleaded.
“ Shut the hell up, and leave.” Billy ordered as he watched Madrid step back onto main street and start checking doors again. When Madrid got in front of John Mueller’s Boot Shop, Billy opened fire.
Sam took aim and fired his Army Colt .44 caliber, seeing it tear thru Madrid’s right side as he turned. “ Billy, we need to get out of here. People are going to be coming.”
Johnny felt white hot pain as a bullet slammed into the back of his left shoulder. Turning as he drew his colt, he felt another bullet hit him in the right thigh, dropping him to the boardwalk, another tearing thru his right side. Johnny fired a couple rounds, hearing at least one of his shots hit it’s target as lights started coming on and people could be heard shouting, as footsteps started running toward him.
“ Stay back!” Sheriff Stiles yelled. “ Johnny, it’s me, don’t shoot.”
Johnny could feel his colt slipping from his hand as he slowly started to fall to his side as the sheriff came up to him.
“ Charlie, Luke, look across the street. A couple of you others help me get him to a room in the hotel.” Sheriff Stiles ordered. “ Damn it Johnny, don’t you die on me kid.” James ordered as they carried him to the hotel.
“ Excuse me, are you the sheriff?” Scott asked.
“ Yes I am. What can I do for you mister?” the sheriff asked.
“ Sheriff, my name is Scott Garrett Lancer, and this is Teresa O’Brian. We are looking for my brother. We wondered if you could tell us where he is at?” Scott said.
“ And just what makes you think your brother is in Dodge City?” the sheriff asked.
“ A trail boss bringing a herd here from Texas told us he was a deputy here.” Scott said.
“ Well, you see right there is the problem. I have three deputies and none of them have family.” Sheriff Stiles said as he started to the door. “ I’m a bit busy, so you’ll have to excuse me.”
“ His name is Johnny Madrid.” Scott said.
Sheriff Stiles spun around and grabbed Scott by his shirt. “ Why? Are you here to finish the job?” he demanded.
“ Sheriff please. Let go of him. We’ve done nothing wrong.” Teresa pleaded.
“ I’m only here to see my brother. We’ve been looking for him since early last summer.” Scott said.
“ You said your name is Scott Garrett Lancer, not Madrid. I’ve known Johnny since he was a kid, and mister, you don’t look nothing like him.”
“ We have the same father, but different mothers. Sheriff, I swear I am telling you the truth.” Scott said.
“ Who’s she?” the sheriff demanded.
“ Johnny’s fiance. Look sheriff, if you would just take us to see Johnny, he will straighten this all out with you.” Scott said.
“ He can’t straighten this all out as you so claim.” James said with anger.
“ Why did you ask if I was here to finish the job? Finish what job sheriff? Where’s Johnny?”
“ Johnny was ambushed last night.” James snapped back.
Teresa covered her mouth as she went to a chair and sat down. “ Oh no.” she sobbed.
“ Sheriff, is my brother……”
“ He’s still alive. Someone ambushed him last night when he was making rounds. Doc don’t know if he’s going to make it or not.” Sheriff Stiles responded.
“ Please, can we see him?” Teresa pleaded.
“ I’ll take you too him, but if either of you try anything, it will be the last thing you ever do! Do I make myself clear?” he asked.
“ Yes. I promise you sheriff, we have no intention of hurting Johnny. He’s been hurt enough by our father.” Scott said as he helped Teresa stand and followed the sheriff.
“ I told you I would handle it, but no, you had to go and ambush him.” Ben Thompson said to his son with anger.
“ He’s dead Pa. Nobody knows it was me that shot him.” Billy said.
“ If you weren’t so damn stupid………… you would be my son. He’s not dead. He’s at the hotel under guard.” Ben said.
“ He can’t be still alive. Pa I put four bullets in him last night. Two of them in his back.” Billy said.
“ That may be, but I have it on good word he is still alive. Now who the hell do you think they are going to go blaming for this huh?” he demanded.
“ They ain’t gonna know it was me pa.” Billy responded.
“ Where are Sam and Nick?”
“ I fired their worthless asses last night. They didn’t have the guts to help. If they had, he would be dead for sure.” Billy said.
“ If only you had done as I said and left it alone. You better pray Madrid don’t live, because if he does and he seen who shot him, I’ll not lose a nights sleep letting him have you to keep from losing everything I’ve built up in this ranch. I’ll turn your worthless ass over to him. Probably should anyways. The only reason I don’t is your mother. Hell you’re about as worthless as a jackass. Get the hell out of my sight.” Bob ordered.
Sheriff Stiles walked down the hall to the end room on the right. “ Why don’t you go take a break and get something to eat Charlie.” he suggested before knocking on the door. “ Open up Luke, it’s me.” he said.
“ You sure sheriff.” Charlie asked as he looked at Scott and Teresa.
“ I’m sure. Go ahead.” the sheriff responded.
“ Why are they here?” Charlie asked as Luke unlocked the door and opened it.
“ I’ll explain later. Luke, go with Charlie and get something to eat. You two can come back this evening.” James said.
“ James, Doc will be back later to change the bandages.” Karen said as she walked out of the bedroom. “ Oh, I didn’t know someone was with you.” she said.
“Scott, Teresa, Karen has been helping doc with Johnny. Karen, this is Johnny’s older brother Scott, and the young lady is Johnny’s fiance Teresa.” Sheriff Stiles explained. “ You were saying.”
“ He’s running a fever. Doc want’s him watched closely.”
“ Johnny always runs a fever when he gets hurt or sick.” Teresa cut in.
“ He was shot three times. One bullet is still in him.” Karen explained.
“ How long ago was he shot?” Scott asked
Karen looked at the clock on the mantle. “ About two thirty in the morning. Doc removed one bullet, another one tore a hole in his right side that will take considerable time to heal.”
“ And the bullet that is still in him?” Teresa asked.
“ It’s in his back.” Karen responded. She could tell this young girl cared about Johnny deeply. It showed in her eyes.
“ If Doc Parker had tried to remove the bullet in his back last night, Johnny would be dead.” Sheriff Stiles added.
“ May we see him?” Teresa asked with tears in her eyes.
“ Of course. He’s in there.” Karen said.
“ Hold up a second Charlie. I want to take a look again. Make sure we didn’t miss anything.” Luke said. “ Let’s look at it from the shooters point of view.”
“ Charlie, Luke, how’s Johnny doing?” Frederick Zimmermann asked.
“ He’s hanging in there. Most men shot that many times would be dead by now.” Charlie responded.
“ Johnny Madrid isn’t like most men though.” Luke added.
“ A lot of people in town are praying for him. Whoever the coward was who ambushed him, I hope you send him straight to hell.” Zimmermann said before walking away.
“ Okay, Johnny checked the bank side door and barely stepped back out onto the street from the alley when he was ambushed from here.” Luke said.
“ I think I know where you’re going with this Luke. Whoever ambushed him had a more direct, straight on shot at him as he checked the front door to the bank. Better lighting too.” Charlie said.
“ Yeah. Whoever did it wasn’t alone.” Luke responded. “ I think there were that at least two, if not three of them.”
“ That many shooters, Johnny would have been dead for sure. Are you thinking that maybe two of the shooters backed out?” Charlie asked.
“ Got scared and backed out, or decided the risk of being caught, hung, and or sent to prison for life changed their mind.”Luke suggested.
“ You know, one of Johnny’s wounds has been bothering me. Doc had to cauterize the one in his right side to stop the bleeding. That bullet tore thru his side. I’ve only known a gunshot wound from a pistol to do damage like to be from a cap and ball. Seen it in the war.” Charlie said.
“ You thinking .44 caliber maybe?” Luke asked.
“ Yeah I am. If we’re right about this. There’s only a couple people around who carry a pistol of that size.” Charlie responded as they walked across the street to where Johnny was shot. Blood soaked into the boards and splattered on the window could be seen.
“ Well that wound was made as Johnny was already down from the bullet to his right leg, or right after he turned to face the shooter.” Luke suggested. “ Let’s see. Johnny was standing right about here, when he was shot the first time in the back of his left shoulder. He turns and is most likely shot again in the right leg, dropping him before the bigger pistol tears open his side. That bullet should be right about……..here. Let me have that pig sticker you carry Charlie.” Luke asked.
Charlie handed him the knife and watched as he carefully dug the bullet out of the wood.
“ There it is. Looks like you were right. That’s a .44 cap and ball slug. Johnny is damn lucky to still be alive from this one.” Luke said.
“ He’s damn lucky. I seen men lose an arm or leg from a slug that size.” Charlie responded.
“ Let’s go show the sheriff what we found.” Luke suggested.
Teresa walked into the bedroom and immediately went to Johnny’s right side and gently picked up his hand to hold and caress.
“ Johnny, I’m here.” she said with tears as Scott walked over and looked down at the still form of his brother.
“ I can’t leave you alone for one second can I little brother. Look at you, all shot up.” Scott said as a tear ran down his cheek. “ You have to fight. From what we’ve been told, you’re in the biggest fight ever little brother. Me and Teresa are here now, and we’re not going anywhere.” Scott said as he noticed how his brothers hair was now down to his shoulders and though he needed a shave, Scott could tell his brother had grown a mustache. “ I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with hair that long, or a mustache little brother.”
“ Excuse me, this is Doctor Parker, he needs to check Johnny’s wounds.” Karen said.
“ He can check them. I’m not leaving this room if that’s what you are wanting. I’ve tended to Johnny before back at Lancer when he was shot in the back by land pirates four years ago.” Teresa said.
“ Teresa, I think we need to be a little more hospitable towards these folks. They are Johnny’s friends, and we wouldn’t act this way if we were back at Lancer.” Scott said.
“ You’re right. I’m sorry.” Teresa said.
“ So you have some medical knowledge?” Doctor Stan Parker asked Teresa as he walked over to set his bag on the table.
“ Yes.” Teresa responded.
“ Good, Karen could use a break.” the doc said.
“ I’ll wait outside.” Scott said.
Murdoch Lancer sat eating supper in the Cattleman’s hotel in Stockton. The cattleman’s president sat with two other ranchers across from him. He couldn’t help but notice how ever since he walked in and sat down, they would glance at him, and then back at a newspaper.
“ Looks like that half-breed son of yours finally got what he deserved.” Ed Clark said finally.
“ The best thing you ever did was run that killer out of the valley.” Hardy Runnels added.
“ Everybody knows it was a matter of time before he brought serious trouble to the valley. Killers like him always do.” Lawrence Ross added.
Murdoch stood up and walked over to the three men’s table. “ You care to explain what it is you three are talking about?”
Lawrence handed him the newspaper. On the front page was an article about an ambush in Dodge City, Kansas.
AMBUSH IN DODGE CITY, KANSAS
Shootings happen all the time. This is the untamed wild west after-all. A town plagued by gunfights,and killings on a nightly, and sometimes daily basis. A town with a deputy working to help tame down the town for the decent citizens, a name many are familiar with in the south gunned down in the most cowardly of ways. The person I am speaking of, was working in Dodge City a couple nights ago, doing his rounds checking the doors of the local businesses in town when he was ambushed. Reports say the deputy, Johnny Madrid, was shot multiple times by someone from across the street who waited in the shadows to gun him down at about two thirty in the morning. Nobody knows if it was another gunfighter, not brave enough to face Madrid in the street like so many others have done and died, or if perhaps the shooter was someone who didn’t like the law Dodge City has, and was enforcing of no carrying of firearms within town limits. One can only wonder as the sheriff, a James Stiles, and his two deputies try to find out who did the cowardly deed.
Murdoch tried to swallow a lump that came to his throat.
“ What’s the matter Lancer, you brought that killer to the San Joaquin valley. That very well could have happened here.” Ed Clark said.
“ You know, I heard the reason your other son, Scott left Lancer was because of that killer.” Hardy suggested.
“ Don’t forget about his ward, Teresa O’Brian. I heard she’s the reason Madrid is gone. A Lancer hand was talking in a saloon a while back. He said he seen Madrid with that girl at one of the line-shacks. Said he seen them together.” Ed added.
“ I think you should know Lancer, several of us ranchers are going to propose you be removed from the Cattleman’s Association because of Johnny Madrid being your son.” Lawrence said.
“ When Johnny here helping get rid of Day Pardee and his men everything was okay. Not one of you, myself included bothered to get to know him. Instead we held what he had to do to stay alive in Mexico against him. All he ever wanted was live a life as Johnny Lancer.” Murdoch responded with anger. “ Go ahead and remove me from the association. Lancer doesn’t need you, any of you.” he added before turning and walking away.
“ Sheriff, we found something we need to speak to you about.” Luke said.
“ It’s about the shooting.” Charlie added.
“ Charlie, Luke, this is Johnny’s brother Scott. The young lady in there with doc and Karen is Teresa, his fiance.”
“ Didn’t know he had a brother. Sorry we have to meet under these circumstances.” Charlie said.
“ What is it you wanted to show me?” the sheriff asked.
“ Johnny’s one wound. The one in his side.” Charlie said.
“ Yeah, what about it?” the sheriff asked.
“ There were two shooters sheriff. I’ve seen a wound like that before many times during the Civil War.” Charlie said.
“ Are you saying one of the shooters was using a .44 cap and ball?” Scott cut in asking.
Luke pulled the ball out of his pocket and handed it to the sheriff. “ There’s only a couple people around Dodge City who still use that type of gun sheriff.” he said.
“ And one of them we all know was with Billy Thompson the other night when Johnny took their guns.” the sheriff added.
“ Sam Brown.” Luke said.
“ You know the men who ambushed my brother?” Scott asked.
“ We might know. Until Johnny wakes up and can tell us what he knows.” Sheriff Stiles responded.
“ Why don’t you show me where it happened at deputy?” Scott requested.
Luke looked from Scott to the sheriff. “ Uh, okay. I’ll show you.”
“ Sheriff, would you let Teresa know where I went please?” Scott asked as he walked to the door with Luke.
“ How long until you try and remove the bullet in his back Doctor Parker?” Teresa asked as she re-wrapped the wound in Johnny’s right thigh.
“ Young lady, you definitely know how to wrap a bandage and tie it off. My compliments.” Doc Parker said. “ It needs to come out soon, but I don’t know if he can take it. This wound here in his lower right side, it’s like he was shot with a cap and ball gun the way the flesh was torn away. From the scars on his body, I would say this is not the first time this boy has faced life or death. Can you enlighten me on some of these scars this boy has?” he asked.
“ Johnny was in a Mexican Prison for over a year. They tortured him. The day he was found by the Pinkerton Agent his father hired, he was in front of a firing squad, about to be executed by the Rurales.” Teresa explained. “ Others he has gotten as a child after his mother died, and some after he became Johnny Madrid. He doesn’t like to talk about his past to much. He’s ashamed of what he had to do to survive in Mexico.”
“ Can I ask how well you know him?” Doc Parker asked. “ The reason I ask you that is, I want to wake him up before I try removing the bullet in his back.”
“ When?” Teresa asked as she rung out a cloth and placed it on Johnny’s forehead.
“ Tomorrow. The sheriff needs to know if Johnny seen who shot him.” the doc said.
“ This is where Johnny was shot.” Luke said. “ He checked the bank side delivery door and walked back out here, barely stepping back up onto the walkway when he was shot in the back. Me and Charlie figure he turned and drew his gun when he was shot in his right leg, dropping him to the ground. The shot to his right side we believe he got right before he went down from the bullet to his leg.” Luke explained.
Scott looked down at the blood on the boards and wall below the window. “ Jesus little brother.” he said softly.
“ Me and Charlie think that whoever ambushed him wasn’t alone. There’s more light in front of the bank. Why wait until he’s here to open fire. I think whoever was with the shooter changed their mind. One of them at least.” Luke explained.
“ How do you figure that?” Scott asked.
“ Missed window of opportunity. Whoever it was, did this to kill Johnny. Why else would they use a cap and ball when a bullet would do the job also?” Luke asked.
“ You care to share your possible answer?” Scott asked.
“ I think whoever shot him with that .44 didn’t really want to do it. I think they were pressured into pulling the trigger. Why else would they only shoot it once?” Luke suggested.
“ Or maybe they were threatened.” Scott added.
“ Billy Thompson is the son of Ben Thompson. He owns the Rocking ”R” Ranch fifteen miles out of town. He feels his son and crew are above the law because he has so much money.”
“ Nobody knows where he got all his money from either.” Sheriff Stiles added as he walked up. “ I did some checking. He showed up here after the war with a lot of money those who were around then said.”
“ Bought like Texas and other states after the war.” Luke added.
“ I came down here because Doc Parker wants to talk to all of us about Johnny.” the sheriff said.
“ Okay, as I told the young lady, Tomorrow morning I am going to wake Johnny up. I want to remove that bullet in his back tomorrow afternoon. Now you two, I need to know, is he going to be upset that you are here?” Doc asked.
“ To be honest Doctor Parker, we don’t know.” Scott responded.
“ Okay then I want him to wake up to faces he will know. Sheriff, you can tell him after he’s awake about them being here.”
“ Let me ask you something Doctor Parker. Will my brother have any problems from this bullet in his back?” Scott asked.
“ You mean will he be paralyzed in his left arm? I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. I’ll be able to tell better when he wakes up in the morning.” Doc Parker explained.“ Why don’t you two go get something to eat, and some rest.” he suggested.
“ Karen’s cafe is a really good place to eat.” the sheriff said.
“ Are you ever going to ask that poor woman to marry you James?”Doc Parker asked.
“ Now that you mention it, me and Teresa haven’t eaten anything since breakfast.” Scott said.
“ Charlie and Luke will be here. You have my word, Johnny will be alright.” Sheriff Stiles said.
Nick Boswell sat in the saloon in Larned, Kansas drinking a beer, listening to some locals playing poker at the table next to him.
“ They find out who ambushed that deputy in Dodge City yet?” one asked.
“ Not that I’ve heard. That’s one wild town. You know they needed help when they hire Johnny Madrid to help clean it up.” another said.
“ From what I heard, Madrid and the sheriff are friends.” another man said
“ I don’t care who ya are. Shooting a man in the back and then two more times after he’s down is a cowards way. I open for fifty cents.”
“ Must have been someone who knew they couldn’t beat Madrid in a fare fight. Hell he’s the fastest they say west of the Mississippi river and on both sides of the border.”
“ I thought Johnny Madrid was killed?” Nick asked.
“ Nope. He’s shot up pretty good, but still alive.” the older man responded.
“ Governor Osborn is about fed up with those men from Texas coming up here with their cattle, terrorizing the good decent folks of Dodge City, and other towns. Why every day or night someone is gunned down in the street in Dodge City.”
“ What they need to do is put a stop to all those herds coming into Kansas. Why ain’t hardly a farmer can work his land without those smelly herds busting down the fence and trampling all over their crops.”
Nick finished his beer, stood up and headed out of the saloon. He knew he needed to go back to Dodge City and tell the sheriff what he knew about the shooting. Even if it meant he could go to jail.
“ Hold him down. I don’t want his making any sudden moves.” Doc Parker said as he waved a small bottle of smelling salt under Madrid’s nose.
“ Easy Johnny. Take it easy.” Luke said as he held his friends right shoulder down.
Johnny opened his eyes and blinked several times as he tried to swallow.
“ Lift his head up a little so he can drink some water.” Doc ordered.
Johnny swallowed as much as he could before the glass was taken away.
“ I don’t want you drinking to much at once.” Doc said.
Johnny blinked several times, trying to get his mind and eyes focused. The last thing he could remember was checking the doors at the bank before something slammed him in the back. “ How bad is it?” Johnny asked.
“ You were shot three times kid.” James responded.
“ Some bastard ambushed you from across the street right after you checked the bank door in the alley.” Luke said.
Johnny looked around, acknowledging his friends Charlie, Luke and James. “ Who are you?” he asked Doc Parker.
“ I’m the doctor. The one who will be removing the bullet that is still in you young man.” Doc responded.
“ Why didn’t you remove it with the others?” Johnny asked. “ Can I have some more water?”
Charlie poured another glass and held it so Johnny could drink.
“ Because by the time I got the bullet out of your leg, you had lost too much blood from that wound and the one in your right side, I didn’t want you bleeding to death.” Doc responded.
“ How long I been out?” Madrid asked.
“ Two days.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ Listen to me Johnny. The worst wound you have is that one in your side. The bullet tore a chunk of flesh from you. It’s going to take the longest to heal.”
“ That explains why my side feels weird and hurts like hell. So what about the bullet in my back? How deep is it and where?”
“ It’s in the back of your left shoulder. Where, or how deep exactly I won’t know until I get in there and start probing for it.” Doc said. “ Can you feel your left arm and fingers?”
Johnny moved his left arm as much as he could before the pain stopped him, and flexed his fingers.
“ Johnny, did you see who shot you?” the sheriff cut in and asked.
“ No, but there were two of them.” Johnny said.
“ How you know there were two of them?” Luke asked.
“ Two different pistol sounds. The last one that tore into my side was louder.” Johnny said.
“ That one was a .44 cap and ball kid.” the sheriff said.
Johnny just stared at the door, unable to speak. The one woman he loved more than anything was standing there, looking back at him through brown eyes.
“ I asked you to wait until I said you could come in.” Doc Parker said.
“ Teresa, am I dreaming?” he asked softly.
“ No. It’s me Johnny.” Teresa said as she walked over to the bed, followed by Scott.
“ I think we should leave the three of you alone to talk.” Luke suggested.
“ He’ll pay Johnny. I promise you that.” Sheriff Stiles said before walking out and closing the door.
“ I can’t leave you alone for a second can I little brother?” Scott asked as he sat down in the chair next to the bed.
“ I’m not going back.” Johnny said. “ He can go to hell.”
“ We left Lancer the next morning, and have been searching for you ever since.” Teresa responded. “ I don’t ever want to be without you again Johnny.”
“ How did you find me?” Johnny demanded.
“ We were in El Paso when we heard about you killing two brothers at Fort Sumner. We rode out headed north and heard about you again when we got to Amarillo. Someone said you were a deputy here.” Scott responded.
“ You let her ride all over the south in those border towns looking for me?” he demanded. “ Jesus Scott, she could have been killed.”
“ If you left a better trail, we would have caught up to you sooner.” Scott snapped back.
“ I didn’t want anyone finding me. Especially……I don’t deserve you Teresa. Either of you.” Johnny said as he looked away.
“ Johnny, what he said to you that night was wrong of him.” Scott said. “ You know, I don’t think I ever told you when I was growing up in Boston, how I wished I had a little brother. Now I have one, and I will be damned if I am going to let you ride out of my life after just a short few years together. Like it or not brother, you are stuck with me.”
“ And that goes for me too.” Teresa added. “ Look at me Johnny. Do you remember what you said to me the day you put this ring on my finger? You said you fell in love with me more and more every second you spent with me. That you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me by your side for all eternity.” Teresa said firmly. “ I intend on holding you to that.”
Nick Boswell rode into Dodge City and stopped at the sheriff’s office two days after leaving Larned, Kansas. He knew he was as good as dead if Ben or Billy Thompson seen him, or found out what he was going to tell the sheriff, but he had too. He had to do what was right. Dismounting, he tied his horse and stepped up to the door.
“ If you’re looking for the sheriff, he’s over at the Great Western Hotel.” Charles Roth said as he swept the walkway in front of his general store. “ Aren’t you one of the Rocking ”R” ranch hands?”
“ Used to be.” Nick said before turning and heading to the hotel.
“ He survived the ambush.” Slade said.
“ Is that so?” Miller asked.
“ That’s what the newspaper says.” Colbert added.
Jim ” Killer ” Miller, met ” Little Bill ” Slade, and ” Shorty ” Colbert the first time in Mexico, all three having one thing in common, they all three hated Johnny Madrid. Three long, hard, brutal years in a Mexican prison in Chihuahua. Something all three vowed to repay Madrid for if they ever got the chance. All three swearing vengeance when captured by the Rurales during the Mexican revolt they all took part in.
“ Dodge City is a long ride. Take us at least three months to do from clear down here in Alamosa.” Colbert said.
“ How do we know he’ll still even be there by the time we get there?” Slade asked.
“ Because the money is good. Don’t you two remember what those men were saying the other day about Dodge City and Abilene? They are paying a hundred dollars a month.” Miller said.
“ Hell, we make more than that.” Colbert said.
“ Plus two dollars and fifty cents for every arrest made. Madrid is making some serious money in that cow town. He’s not going to leave there any time soon. I’m leaving in the morning for Dodge City, you two can ride with me, or go to hell.” Miller said firmly.
“ You sonofabitch. You come back to try and finish the job?” Luke demanded as he grabbed Nick by his shirt and slammed him up against the building.
Sheriff Stiles and Charlie came out of the hotel and grabbed Luke, pulling him off Nick Boswell.
“ I didn’t shoot Johnny. I swear I didn’t.” Nick pleaded.
“ Why the hell should we believe you huh?” Charlie said. “ Everybody knows Johnny showed you, Sam Brown and Billy Thompson up in the middle of the street.”
“ I didn’t have a problem with you that night. It was Billy and Sam, and it was them who ambushed Johnny.” Nick said.
“ Why should we believe you? How do we know this isn’t some kind of trick to get to Johnny to finish the job.” Luke spat.
“ If I was, you think I would be crazy enough to come to you? I came back here to tell what happened.”
“ Let’s get him over to the jail.” Sheriff Stiles cut in and ordered.
“ He’s back.” Sam said.
“ Who’s back?” Billy asked.
“ Nick Boswell. I seen him plain as day riding into town.” Sam responded. “ If he tells the sheriff, we are as good as dead.”
“You think I give a shit what happens to you.” Billy said.
“ I’m not taking the full blame for ambushing Madrid. You’re the one who wanted it, not me, and not Nick.” Sam said. “ I should have listened to him and rode out.” Sam said before turning his horse and riding away.
Billy took off, headed to the house to tell his father. He knew now without a doubt the sheriff would be coming to arrest him. Spending his life in Lansing state prison.
“ What the hell you doing back here?” Ben Thompson demanded.
“ Nick Boswell was seen riding into town. He can put me and Sam as the ones who shot Madrid.”
“ You go get a fresh horse and get the hell out of here. Go to Denver. I don’t ever want to see you around here again.” Ben ordered.
“ What am I supposed to do in Denver Pa?” Billy asked.
“ I guess you should have thought about that before you ignored my orders and ambushed Madrid.” Ben said with anger before turning and walking away.
“ Start talking. How do you know what happened the night Johnny was ambushed?” Sheriff Stiles demanded.
“ Because I was there with them.” Nick snapped back. “ Look, I didn’t know what Billy planned when we rode into town. He asked me and Sam if we wanted to have some fun in town on a Wednesday night. I figured sure, why not. Sheriff, I swear to you, I didn’t know what he was planning to do.”
“ So you just rode into town in the middle of the week thinking he’s coming in just to have some fun?” Charlie demanded.
“ Yes damn it. I told you, I didn’t know.” Nick responded.
“ And just when did you realize what he was planning on doing?” Luke asked.
“ After we had a couple beers at the Drovers Cottage. Billy suggested we go to the Dance Hall and see about having us a woman.” Nick explained.
“ You’re lying. Johnny was shot at two thirty in the morning when he was making his rounds.” Luke said with anger.
“ No I’m not. We were with some girls for the rest of the evening. When the place closed, we went upstairs and had some fun with them. We left there to head back around two. Billy seen Madrid walking the street, checking doors when we came down the back stairs. That’s why we were in the alley between. Do you honestly believe we could sneak up on Johnny Madrid,especially when we were drunk?” Nick explained as his anger rose. “ Look, I know what I did is almost as bad as being one of them to shoot Johnny. I’m not proud of it, and I’m here to take my punishment, even if it means dying, I have to do what’s right.”
“ If you knew what he was going to do, why the hell didn’t you call out to Johnny, to warn him?” Sheriff Stiles demanded.
“ Because I was drunk………drunk and Billy had his gun pointed at me, ready to blow my head off if I did.” Nick responded.
“ Did you actually see Billy Thompson and Sam Brown shoot Johnny Madrid?” Sheriff Stiles asked.
“ Yes sir I did. I walked to the back of the Dance Hall and stopped. When I turned around to go back and plead with Sam again to not do it, that’s when they started shooting. Billy shot first, and then Sam took that damn cap and ball of his and fired one shot when Madrid was already down. They were both laughing about it. I heard Sam tell Billy they needed to get out of there because people were coming.” Nick responded. “ Look sheriff, I’ll testify in a court of law what I seen, and like I already said, I’ll take my punishment for not doing anything to prevent it from happening.”
Sheriff James Stiles walked over to his desk and opened a drawer, pulling out some paper and a pencil. “ I want you to sit here and write down word for word what you just told us. Charlie, when he’s done, lock him up. Put him in the cell with no window.” he ordered.
“ Wait a minute, where you going?” Luke asked.
“ I’m going to get us another deputy, and go see Judge Wright. I want a warrant for those two.” Sheriff Stiles responded. “ You stay here with Charlie.”
“ Ben Thompson is a leading citizen in this town. You really think he’s going to issue a warrant for Billy Thompson’s arrest?” Charlie asked.
“ He will if he wants reelected. Bolt this door and don’t let anyone in except me.” Sheriff Stiles said as he opened the door.
“ The bullet is out. It didn’t go as deep as I thought, I don’t think he will have any long lasting problems. He’ll be fine.” Doc Parker explained to Scott and Teresa. “ He won’t be able to use that arm for a while though, as I’m sure you already know young lady.”
“ Thank you Doctor Parker, for everything.” Scott said. “ I believe you and Doc Jenkins would get along great.”
“ And where might this Doctor Jenkins be” Doc Parker asked.
“ He was our doctor back in California.” Teresa said. “ He delivered Johnny.”
“ Well, just keep the wounds clean and change the bandages as needed. Don’t let him move around too much. Help him to sit up if he wants too when he wakes up.” the doc instructed. “ Now, I have other patients I need to see too.” he added as he walked to the door and left.
“ I wonder what little brothers plans will be once he’s healed up?” Scott asked.
“ Whatever they are, he has another thing coming if he thinks he can leave us again.” Teresa responded as Sheriff Stiles entered the room.
“ I seen doc in the hall. I need to ask you a question.” James said. “ Would you meet me at my office in two hours?”
“ Alright sheriff.” Scott responded before walking into the other room to see Johnny.
Johnny opened his eyes and found Teresa sitting in a chair next to the bed. Reaching over with his right arm, he touched her hand. “ Any chance I could get a drink of water?”
Teresa opened her eyes and smiled. “ Hi, I think that would be okay.” she said as she poured a glass and helped him take a drink.
“ Thanks. So how’d it go?” Johnny asked.
“ Doctor Parker says you will be fine. That there shouldn’t be any problems once it heals up.” Teresa explained.
“ I never thought I would ever see you or Scott again.” he said as he touched her face gently. “ I love you Teresa O’Brian.”
“ You better.” Teresa said as she gently kissed him on the lips. “ You hungry?”
“ Starved. Where’s Scott?’ he asked.
“ At the jail. The sheriff came by a couple hours ago and asked if he he would meet him there.” Teresa responded as Karen walked into the room carrying a platter of food.
“ I have some scrambled eggs, bacon, and coffee doc said would be good for you to eat.” she said as she set the tray down on the table.
“ Thank you Karen.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re going to be okay Johnny. A lot of people in town are.” Karen responded. “ Well, I’ll leave you two alone.”
Teresa seen Johnny watch Karen leave. “ Have you slept with her?” she asked bluntly.
Johnny looked at her, shock on his face, mostly for her being so forward in asking him who he has slept with.
“ Well, you going to answer me?” Teresa asked as she fixed a plate of eggs and bacon and handed it to him.
“ No, what they hells wrong with you? Karen is a good friend and nothing more.” Johnny responded finally.
“ So where we, and look what happened between us.” Teresa said as she poured him a cup of coffee. “ How many women you been with since you left Lancer Johnny?”
“ Jesus Teresa. We weren’t together so I don;t think it’s any of your business who I’ve been to bed with!” Johnny said with anger.
“ Let me tell you something Johnny. I know how you were before we…….Once I’m your wife, If you so much as think about being with another woman, I will make that be the biggest mistake you ever make. I’ll not marry a man who isn’t going to stay loyal to me because some……You just keep your temptations in check and we will be fine.” Teresa said firmly.
“ Teresa, I haven’t been with anyone since you. I tried, but I couldn’t do it. I guess my heart belongs to you querida.”
“ I’m sorry. I guess I was a little condescending.” Teresa said.
“ You were.” Johnny said as he started to eat.
“ So, what plans do you have for us?” Teresa asked as she sat down next to him.
“ What do you mean?” he asked.
“ You know darn well what I mean Johnny. If I’m going to be your wife, I think I have a right to know where we are going to live?” Teresa responded.
“ What’s with the attitude?” Johnny asked.
“ I don’t have an attitude. I just asked a question.” Teresa said.
“ It’s how you asked it. Look, if you’re going to be angry with me, you can leave. I don’t need it.” Johnny responded. “Plans I had not knowing you and Scott were going to show up here were to stay here for a year or two. The money is damn good, then I had planned on going somewhere and starting a horse ranch where there’s a lot of good, open land with lush green grass just right for raising horses on.”
“ Why not here in Kansas?” Teresa asked.
“ Here?” Johnny asked as he finished his plate of eggs.
“ Why not. I’m sure you could find a place to build a horse ranch here.” Teresa said.
“ You would live here, in Kansas?” Johnny asked.
“ I will live wherever you want to Johnny. I was just making a suggestion. We could start a good line with Rose and Barranca.”
“ You still have Rose?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes. I wasn’t going to leave her at Lancer. She was a gift from you. Riding her helped me in missing you.” Teresa responded.
“ Come here.” Johnny said as he held out his right arm.
Teresa leaned over him and welcomed the feel of his lips on hers, moaning as the kiss deepened.
“ Okay, I think we better stop this kiss now.” Teresa said as she pulled away.
“ Why?” Johnny asked.
“ Because I know how you get when you kiss me like that, and you are in no shape to be making love to me.” she responded. “ So, does this job as a deputy pay you good money?”
“ Yeah it does. I cleared over a thousand dollars last month. It slows in the winter, but during the summer when the herds come in to ship, it gets busy until late fall. Sometimes into early winter.” Johnny said.
“ That’s over two years wages as a hand at thirty dollars a month.” Teresa said with surprise in her voice.
“ Yeah. That’s why I’m here helping James.” he said.
“ You two go back a ways?” she asked.
“ A few years. I met James when I was in Mexico.” Johnny said.
“ You wanted to see me sheriff?” Scott asked as he walked into the sheriff’s office.
“ Scott, yes I did. Have a seat. Can I offer you a cup of coffee?” the sheriff asked.
“ No thank you.” Scott responded as he walked over and sat down.
“ I’m glad Johnny is going to be alright. We have a witness in the back who is willing to testify as to who ambushed him and why.” the sheriff said. “ This is Charlie Pierce, and Luke Skinner, two of my deputies.”
“ I remember from when I first seen my brother. I don’t think I have thanked any of you for saving his life. Thank you.”
“ Johnny is a good person.” Luke said.
“ He sure ain’t the Madrid I heard tales about, that’s for sure.” Charlie said.
“ What I want to do is offer you a job as a deputy. I figure you being Johnny’s brother and all, we can trust you.” the sheriff said as he poured a cup of coffee and walked back over to his desk to sit down. “ Dodge City has become a wild, dangerous town during te summer months. Used to be there were about ten thousand cattle that shipped from here. The main shipping point was Abilene to the east. Now we see half a million head in a season.” the sheriff explained.
“ And that doesn’t include the hide cutters bringing in buffalo hides to ship.” Luke said.
“ One and a half million hides last year alone came into Dodge City.” Charlie added.
“ Wit that many cows and at least five thousand cowboys in a season, you can see why we have a problem with gunfights in the street, brawls, and just plain out and out trouble makers who come into town. Now most of the hands who come in off the trail just ant to have a good time, but when you mix alcohol and firearms, you get hotheads looking for trouble.” the sheriff said. “ The job pays a hundred dollars a month, plus two dollars and fifty cents for every arrest we make. I think Johnny made over a thousand dollars last month.”
“ That’s a lot of arrest.” Scott said.
“ Yes it is. We have a no firearms within city limits law, but some still carry a firearm we don’t see.” James explained.
“ Do you have places that are the trouble spots?” Scott asked.
“ Yes we do. The Drovers Cottage at the end of town. The China Doll Brothel, Saratoga Saloon, and the Hardesty House.” the sheriff responded. “ Johnny isn’t going to be able to work for some time yet. We could really use the help. Are you interested in the job?” he asked.
Scott stood up and walked over to the window to look outside at the many wagons full of buffalo hides lining the street, waiting to unload at the rail-head. “ Is it safe to say that most of the trouble starts at dark?’ he asked.
“ Pretty much. We have trouble during the day, but the vast majority of it is at night. Most of the shops close up by sunset and go home to avoid the trouble. In the off season there are between six and eight hundred residents who call Dodge City home. The Rocking ”R ” Ranch is the biggest spread. Ben Thompson helped found the town. He thinks his son and hands don’t have to obey the laws in town.” the sheriff responded.
“ He will once we arrest his son for ambushing Johnny.” Luke said. “ Cowardly bastard.”
“When do you plan on making the arrest?” Scott asked.
“ We are riding out at first light to arrest Sam Brown and Billy Thompson for the attempted murder of a peace officer.” the sheriff said.
“ I’m not a gunfighter like Johnny.” Scott said.
“ You don’t have to be one. You know how to use a gun when needed don’t you?” Luke asked.
“ Yes.” Scott said.
“ Good. Most of them will give up without any trouble. We know which hands from which ranches are going to be the trouble makers.” the sheriff added.
“ Okay, but how is Johnny going to feel about me being a deputy?” Scott asked.
“ He doesn’t have a say in who I hire. You being his brother and all, I don’t think he will have a problem with it.” the sheriff said as he opened a drawer and took out a badge, stood up, and walked over to Scott. “ Lets get you sworn in. Repeat after me. I_Scott Garrett, do swear that I will faithfully execute all laws precepts, directed to the Sheriff of the United States for the Western District of Kansas under the authority of the United States, and true returns make and in all things well and truly, and without malice or partiality, perform the duties of Deputy Sheriff of the Western District of Kansas during my continuance in said office, and take only my lawful fees, so help me God?” the sheriff asked.
“ I do.” Scott answered.
“ Sworn to and subscribed before me this 13th day of July, 1876, you are now a Deputy Sheriff for the town of Dodge City, Kansas. Congratulations.”
“ Thank you.” Scott said as he pinned the badge to his shirt.
“ Alright then. Be here about five in the morning and we will ride out to the Rocking ”R ” Ranch and arrest the men who tried to kill your brother.”
“ You said you have a man who can testify against them. Do you have a safe place to keep him while we are gone?” Scott asked.
“ He’s being moved to the basement of Karen’s cafe. There’s a room down there he can be locked up in until we get them shipped off to Kansas State Prison in Lansing. I wired a Federal Marshal who is coming in from Kansas City with the wagon and deputies to transport them.”
“ Sounds good.” Scott said as he walked to the door and opened it.
“ Oh, start wearing your gun.” the sheriff ordered.
“ I will.” Scott said before walking out.
“ I think you can get out of bed. Just be careful how much weight you put on that leg.” Doc Parker instructed. “ The wound is closing up nicely.”
“ What about the one in his side?” Teresa asked.
“ It’s closing up, but not enough to soak in a hot bath yet.” the doctor responded. “ Give it a week and we’ll see how it looks then.”
“ Thanks doc.” Johnny said as Karen walked into the room.
“ I’ll stop back by tomorrow afternoon and check on you. Though I don’t think I will need to. You have a very good nurse.” the doc said as he walked to the door.
“ Teresa, I was wondering if I could talk to you?” Karen asked.
“ Alright.” Teresa responded.
“ As I’m sure you already know, I have a cafe. It’s a very busy place during the summer. Scott said you are a very good cook. I was wondering if you would be interested in coming to work for me. It wouldn’t be until Johnny was well enough to be left alone.” Karen asked.
Teresa looked at Johnny.
“ Scott’s right, Teresa is a very good cook. She makes the best stuffed peppers and other Mexican dishes. He pot roast is great too.” Johnny said.
“ I can pay you two dollars a day. It would be six day a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” Karen explained. “ Sunday’s I’m only open for lunch at eleven and close at two.”
“ I think I could do that.” Teresa said as Scott walked into the room. “ I’ll come by sometime and you can show me around.”
“ Thank you.” Karen said before walking out.
“ I see you took the job brother.” Johnny said.
“ Is that going to be a problem?” Scott asked.
“ Nope, just one more person I can trust to watch my back when I go back to work.” Johnny responded.
“ We are riding out at first light to arrest Billy Thompson and Sam Brown for ambushing you.” Scott said as he strapped his gun on.
“ Watch yourself around the China Doll brother Scott. Especially between ten and midnight.” Johnny said.
“ Maybe you could give me some pointers since you’ve been here longer?” Scott asked.
“ Sure brother. I can do that.” Johnny responded.
Ben Thompson walked out of his house as the sheriff, Scott, Luke, and Charlie rode up to the house. “ What do you want?” he asked.
“ Mister Thompson, I have arrest warrants for your son Billy and hand Sam Brown for the attempted murder of Johnny Madrid.” the sheriff responded.
“ My son’s not here, and if he was, I sure as hell wouldn’t tell you. So just turn around and ride on back to town.” Ben ordered.
“ I can’t do that Ben. If he’s here and you’re harboring him, I’ll arrest your sorry ass too.” the sheriff said.
“ I told you he’s not here. So don’t threaten me sheriff. I made him leave when I found out Nick Boswell came back to town.” Ben responded.
“ What about Sam Brown?” Luke asked.
“ I fired him yesterday. Where he’s at I couldn’t tell you. Now if you don’t mind, I have a ranch to run.” Ben said.
“ Mister Thompson, if I find out you’re lying, and these men are on Rocking ”R ” property, I’m going to come back here and arrest you. Do you understand?” the sheriff demanded.
“ Don’t you come on my property and threaten me sheriff. All I have to do is order my men and they will tear that town apart. Are you ready for that?” Ben asked.
“ Any man who rides into Dodge City wearing a firearm will be arrested or shot and killed. The Federal Marshal is on his way here from Kansas City. You might want to rethink what you just said.” the sheriff ordered.
“ Sam Brown is in town. He’s hold up at the China Doll. I seen him there last night sheriff.” a hand said. “ Billy headed to Colorado yesterday.”
“ If you’re lying to us……..”
“ I’ not. Look, I’m done. I can’t work for you anymore Mister Thompson. You think you’re above the law, but you’re not.” the hand said as he mounted his horse. “ You may have more money than other people in this area, but that don’t make you better than them.”
“ How dare you speak to me like that! Get the hell of my ranch.” Ben ordered. “All of you…..now!”
“ I’ll speak to you any damn way I want. You don’t own me. A man like you who is willing to have other men get killed because your son tried to murder a deputy needs to be stopped.” the hand said. “ Sheriff, I swear you will find Sam Brown at the China House. There’s a whore there named Julie. He won’t be with any other girl.” he said before riding out.
“ Let’s go back to town boys. Remember what I said Mister Thompson. I’ll throw your ass in jail real fast, still might once I tell the Marshal how you aided and abetted your sons leaving. That charge alone can get you five years. He’ll be here in a week, so don’t even think about running, because I’ll hunt you down.” the sheriff said before turning his horse to leave.
Johnny slowly made his way over to the table by the window and sat down in the chair. A lite breeze was blowing in and felt good on his face. Wearing a night shirt that went down below his knees, he looked at his leg wound.
“ Had worse Madrid. You’re getting too soft.” he said aloud.
The few months he’d been in Dodge City, he found he liked living here. Most of the people who lived in the town didn’t know who he was really, or didn’t care. Especially since he was helping to clean the town up and enforce the law. Many frontier towns he’d rode into had no law and some didn’t last but maybe a couple years because of the ruffians running wild in them. Nobody wanted to stand up to these people and run them out or they didn’t want to pay for the law to do it. Some towns hired men like him to do the dirty work. Something he had gladly done in the past. Now with Teresa as his soon to be wife, he had to think about his future. It wasn’t just about him anymore. What he was going to have, he thought he had found while at Lancer, but that wasn’t meant to be. After over three years at home, he never dreamed it would all be shattered in one night because he fell in love. Riding away that night a year and a half ago, he never in his wildest dreams thought he would have Teresa in his arms again. Never dreamed he could still have the love and future he so desperately wanted. Living by his gun, hiring his gun arm out in range wars, or facing down a in the street foolish enough to call him out was for survival. Now, he hired his gun out to keep a town and it’s decent citizens safe.
“ You lost more than me old man. I hope that land you said you love more than anything was worth the cost. I don’t care if I see you again. Nobody lays a hand on me. You’re just lucky Scott was there to stop me. I would have gladly put a bullet in you.” Johnny said as he watched the sheriff, Luke, Charlie, and Scott ride back into town and stop in front of the China Doll Brothel.
“ What the hell you doing?” he asked aloud as Teresa walked into the room.
“ I was just about to ask you the same question Johnny.” Teresa said as she walked over to him. “ You know you were not supposed to get out of bed without someone here to help you.”
“ I woke up and had needs. I didn’t bust any stitches out if that’s what you’re worried about?” Johnny said as he watched the sheriff and his deputies go into the brothel.
“ Is this how stubborn you are going to be when you get hurt?” she asked. “ Am I going to have to tie you to the bed?”
“ I just might like that.” Johnny said as he looked into her brown eyes. “ I’ve been sitting here thinking about our future. In the past it’s only been about me, now I have you, and Scott to take care of. I don’t want to stay here Teresa. After a year or so I was thinking of heading up to Montana. They say it is beautiful up there. That the grass is greener and taller than on the prairies. There’s plenty of rivers and lakes. The ground is rich with plenty of trees to build a home.”
“ I think Scott can take care of himself, but I understand what you are saying. So you want to ride up there and start your horse ranch?” Teresa responded.
“ Our horse ranch. You, me and Scott, if he wants to come along.” Johnny said.
“ After leaving Lancer in search of you for over a year, I’m pretty sure he will go with us. I just have a couple questions.” Teresa said.
“ What’s that?” Johnny asked.
“ Where? I mean, Montana is a big territory from what I hear. Where would we be settling?” she asked.
“ Well, I was thinking in the mountains, west of the divide. What’s your other question?” Johnny responded.
“ Indians. I mean wouldn’t we have to ride through Indian country?” she asked with concern.
“ Yeah, but most are friendly up there where we are going.” Johnny said.
“ You don’t know do you?” Teresa asked.
“ Know what?” Johnny responded. “ What’s wrong?”
“ Two weeks ago there was a horrible battle at The Little Bighorn. General Armstrong Custer and his whole regiment were killed in less than an hour. Two hundred and sixty eight men killed. The reports say there were over seven thousand Indians of three tribes in the attack. They say there were about one hundred and thirty Indians killed. Scott took the news pretty hard. He knew a couple of the officers. We learned of it yesterday.” Teresa explained.
“ Jesus. Now I know why you’re so concerned about going up there.” Johnny responded. “ Tell you what, how about we stay here a couple years, save up our money to buy good breeding stock, and then go to Montana. We can check at the forts along the way about any trouble we might run into.” Johnny suggested. “ Listen, I don’t want you thinking you have to support me. I have a couple thousand dollars in the bank already.” Johnny said. “ Now I’m not saying you can’t go to work for Karen if you want too. I just want you to be sure you want to.”
“If I am going to be your wife, I want to pull my own weight in our marriage.” Teresa responded firmly.
“ I don’t deserve you. I can’t wait until you give me children.” Johnny said as he took her hand and kissed the back of it.
“ Luke, Charlie, you two come in the back. Scott, you stay with me since you don’t know what Sam Brown looks like.” Sheriff Stiles ordered.
“ Watch yourself in here Scott.” Luke said.
“ Hold on a second sheriff.” Scott said as he went to his horse and removed his Henry rifle.
“ You any good with that?” the sheriff asked.
“ Very.” Scott said.
Sheriff Stiles gave Luke and Charlie time to get around to the back entrance before walking inside. Looking around the living room, he didn’t see Sam. “ He’s not down here.”
“ What do you want sheriff? I’ve broke no laws.” the owner Rhonda said.
“ Sam Brown, what room is he in?” the sheriff demanded.
“ I don’t know anyone named Sam Brown.” she responded.
“ Don’t play games with me Rhonda, I’ll shut you down permanently and run you out of town. Now I’m going to ask you one more time, what room is he in?”
“ Room nine at the end of the hall on the right.” Rhonda said.
“ Who’s with him?” Scott asked.
“ Julie. Look, I don’t want my girl hurt sheriff.” Rhonda responded.
“ She won’t be if I can help it.”Sheriff Stiles said as him and Scott slowly started walking up the stairs. “ You ready?”
“ Yeah.” Scott said.
Sheriff Stiles stood back and kicked the door in. “ Sam Brown, you’re under arrest!”
Sam reached for his gun as Julie screamed and tried to get away, only to stop when a rifle sounded.
“ The next one goes in you!” Scott yelled.
“ Get out of here Julie.” the sheriff ordered. “ Sam, I’m placing you under arrest for attempted murder of a peace officer.” he said as he threw the mans pants to him. “ Get dressed, unless you want to walk out of here naked.”
“ That was Scott’s Henry rifle we just heard.” Johnny said.
“ I hope they’re alright.” Teresa said.
“ Just one shot, knowing my brother, he put the fear of God in the man or killed him.” Johnny said.
“ I’ve been thinking about what you said. About starting a horse ranch in Montana. Why not take mustangs up there. They’re a very sturdy, strong, dependent horse.” Teresa suggested.
“ Montana has mustangs running all over.” Johnny responded. “ We could start rounding them up once we had our home built.”
“ Sounds good to me.” Teresa said.
“ That look suits you.” Sheriff Stiles said as he locked the cell door.
“ It was Billy who shot Madrid, not me. I tried to stop him.” Sam said.
“ No you didn’t. That .44 you wear tells us you shot him, and we got a witness who seen both of you shoot Johnny.” the sheriff responded.
“ You shot my brother when he was already down you sonofabitch. You’re lucky I didn’t kill you!” Scott said before walking out of the room.
“ Madrid don’t have no brother.” Sam said.
“ Afraid you’re wrong about that Sam. The Federal Marshal will be here from Kansas City in about a week to take you to Lansing prison.” the sheriff said.
“ I ain’t had no trial. You can’t find me guilty without a trial.” Sam said with anger.
“ I told you, we have a very good witness who already gave a sworn statement to Judge Wright, who passed sentence on you.” the sheriff responded.
“ I don’t see no witness in here and the only other person with us was Nick Boswell.” Sam said.
“ Yeah, he’s in a nice safe place until the Marshal gets here and can decide if he’s going to be charged or not since he testified against you and Billy. You’re going to Lansing State Prison for life for the attempted murder of a lawman.” Sheriff Stiles said firmly before turning to walk out.
“ You handled yourself real good Scott. You’re gonna make a damn good deputy.” the sheriff said as he put the keys in the desk drawer. “ Why don’t you go get something to eat and rest before tonight.”
“ I think I will.” Scott responded. “ Luke, Charlie, I’ll see you boys tonight.”
“ Hey brother. Good to see you up and about. How’s it feel?” Scott asked.
“ Feels good. How you like being a deputy?” Johnny asked.
“ I can honestly say I have never felt this way about a job before. The people of this town are really nice.” Scott said.
“ Can I give you some good advice?” Johnny asked.
“ Sure. You’re the professional here, not me. Anything you can say to help me do my job better, I’m listening.” he said.
“ To a man wearing a badge, a gun is just a tool. He has to know when and how to use it to stay alive.” Johnny said.
“ Why little brother, that is the best words of advice I have ever heard. Thank you.” Scott said.
“ So where’s Billy Thompson?” Johnny asked.
“ Colorado. It seems his father is done with him and he rode out for Colorado.” Scott said. “ The sheriff had some wanted posters done up of him, offering a thousand dollar reward.”
“ I need to have a serious discussion with you Scott, have a seat.” Johnny said. “ I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my future, and I’ve talked to Teresa about this. I need to know what you think of the idea.”
“ Okay brother. Let ‘er buck.” Scott said as he sat down.
“ I want to leave here in two years and go to Montana, and start a horse ranch. There’s mustangs running loose up there just waiting for someone to round them up to break. I want to know if you would be interested in become a half owner in a ranch with me brother?”
“ Would require a lot of hard work.” Scott said. “ Montana is a big territory. You sure you want to go up there?”
“ Yeah I am. Nobody will know Johnny Madrid in Montana, Scott. I want a life with Teresa, and the children she’s going to give me. I’d like you to be there with me.”
“ Then I guess I’m in. You thinking around the Yellowstone river region?” Scott asked.
“ West of the divide. Most of the gold seekers are east of there. Down around Virginia City and Bannock. I figure we could set up a ranch in a valley up around the Flathead. There’s plenty of water and lush green grass taller than anything you ever seen.”
“ If that’s what you want to do little brother, then count me in.” Scott said.
“ I’m sorry about your friends being killed at Little Bighorn.” Johnny said.
“ Thanks. Custer was an arrogant, selfish man. He thought he was invincible because he came through the war unscathed.” Scott responded. “ Sometimes his tactics and actions got him busted down in rank. It seemed to get worse after the war.”
“ Guess he’s not so invincible now.” Johnny said softly.
“ I heard some talk around town that my future sister-in-law is going to be cooking at Karen’s.” Scott said.
“ Yeah. I told her I don’t want her thinking she has to work to support me. Not with the money I have saved up.” Johnny said.
“ I can only imagine what she said to that.” Scott said with a laugh.
“ You know, she is nothing like she used to be back at……….She’s getting more feisty. She told me that she plans on contributing her fare share. She’s stubborn.”
“ Like someone else I know. You two are perfect for each other. I need to go start my rounds. I’ll see you in the morning brother.” Scott said as he stood up and walked to the door.
“ You sure you want to come back to work? Doc said you could take some more time if you need too Johnny.” the sheriff said.
“ No, It’s been six weeks now. I’m good. Any word on Billy?” he asked.
“ Afraid not brother. We did hear a report he was seen in Cheyenne, so we contacted the law there.” Scott said.
“ Unfortunately he can catch the train and go west, or even back east and we may never find him.” Luke suggested.
“ I don’t think he’ll go west, and if he goes east, it’ll be to come back here after some times passed. He’s an only child who was spoiled rotten. I think he’s gonna want to be back with his mother.” Johnny suggested.
“ He’s going to need money if the old man cut him off. You think maybe he’ll contact his mother?” Scott asked.
“ He’ll either contact her, or come back.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny, we’ve been doing a rotation of someone working days, and having the night off. Since you’re just coming back to work after six weeks off, I’m going to have you working days. And before you go thinking it’s because you were shot, it’s not. We started doing this two weeks ago. One man works days, and gets the night off.” the sheriff said.
“ Unless he’s needed.” Luke added.
“ Scott mentioned something about you were doing that. I have no problem with it.”Johnny said.
“ Teresa going to let you keep that mustache brother?” Scott asked.
“ She don’t really have a say in it.” Johnny responded. “ Think I’ll take a walk around town and let people know I’m back.”
“ Hold up a minute fellas.” Slade said as he dismounted.
“ What’s wrong now?” Miller demanded.
“ My horse is lame.” Slade responded. “ He can’t carry me any farther.”
“ I guess that’s bad luck for you.” Miller said as he turned his horse to ride away.
“ Wait a minute. You can’t just leave me out here. It’s a good sixty miles to the nearest town.” Slade said as he reached out and grabbed Miller’s reins.
Miller looked down at Slade as he drew his gun and aimed it at the man. “ I hate a beggar. Let go my reins, unless you want some lead in your gut!” Miller ordered.
Slade let go of the reins. “ You sonofabitch.” he said as he went for his pistol.
Miller turned and fired, hitting Slade in the gut.
“ Shorty, help me……….please……..don’t leave me like this.” Slade pleaded.
“ Dismounting, Shorty walked over to Slade. “ I always did admire that knife of yours. End your own suffering Slade.” Shorty said as he removed the skinning knife, mounted up, and took off after Miller.
“ How come you didn’t put him out of his misery?” Miller asked.
“ Because like you said, I hate a whiner.” Shorty responded.
“ Don’t think for a second I won’t do the same thing to you.” Miller said firmly.
“ Yeah, I can see friendship, and the fact we spent three years together in a Mexican prison means nothing to you.” Shorty said.
“ I just saved him from getting a bullet from Madrid.” Miller responded.
“ Madrid wouldn’t have gut shot him, and left him to die in the desert.” Shorty responded.
“ You’re free to ride away anytime you want. I’m not forcing you to go to Dodge City.” Miller said.
Teresa walked into the small two bedroom house at the end of town and was grabbed by the arm and spun around as the door slammed shut. Frightened until she realized it was Johnny. “ You scared me to death.” she said.
“ I’m sorry.” Johnny said as he took her hand and walked her to their bedroom. “ It’s my lunch break, so I thought I would come home for lunch, except I only want dessert.”
“ What if someone had been with me? Or Scott comes home for lunch too and hears us.” Teresa asked as Johnny started undressing her
“ I could see you were alone, and Scott won’t. He’s having lunch at the cafe with Luke.” Johnny responded as he pulled her naked body down next to his. “ I’ve went long enough without you. I want you to become my wife. I want to start a family.” he said.
“ We can get married this weekend at the church.” Teresa said as she welcomed his touch.
Johnny looked into her brown eyes and smiled as they became one.
“ So when are you going to ask Karen to marry you?” Johnny asked.
“ I’ll ask her when I’m good and ready.” James responded.
“ Yeah, when they’re both in their eighties.” Luke said with a laugh.
“ Yeah, it’ll be a rocking chair wedding.” Johnny added.
“ I’m happy for you Teresa. You and Johnny deserve each other.” Karen said.
“ Thank you. He still hasn’t asked you has he?” Teresa asked.
“ No. I’m beginning to think I’m gonna have to do the asking.” Karen said with a smile as they watched the men across the room talking and laughing as they ate lunch.
“ You know, Johnny never thought he would get the chance to fall in love, and marry. He wants me to start giving him children right away.” Teresa said.
“ Does he still plan on going to Montana next year?” Karen asked.
“ Yes, and I’m not to happy knowing I could have a baby with us when we go.” Teresa said.
“ Have you talked to him about it?” Karen asked.
“ I tried the other night, but I’m afraid he is determined to get me pregnant.” Teresa responded.
“ What about Scott, can he talk to him?” Karen asked.
“ I thought about that, but then I thought about the trouble it could cause between them. No, I’m his wife now, and I said I would give him children.” Teresa responded.
“ Giving him children is one thing Teresa. Dragging your wife and newborn child across the country to an untamed territory to start a horse ranch is another. I hope it works out for you.” Karen said as Johnny, James, and Luke walked over to them.
“ Ladies, lunch was very good.” Johnny said.
“ I’m glad you liked it.” Karen said with a little bitterness to her voice before walking away.
“ What’s wrong with her?” Johnny asked.
“ Nothing” Teresa said before going back into the kitchen.
Johnny looked at James and Luke before heading back to the kitchen.
“ Karen, what’s going on?” James asked.
“ Did you know they are leaving for Montana next year?” Karen asked.
“ Yeah, Johnny’s made it no secret that he’s leaving.” James responded.
“ He intends on going even if they have a baby or she is with child.” Karen said. “ I want them to stay here. I don’t want them going to Montana.”
“ Karen, It’s none of our business what Johnny does. Teresa knew he was going there before they got married.” Luke said before turning to leave the cafe.
“ Karen, I suggest you stay out of it. It doesn’t concern us.” James said before turning and following Luke outside.
“ When can I take this blindfold off?” Teresa asked.
“ Just a little further.” Johnny said as they rode to the top of a knoll and stopped. “I figured out why you’ve been upset with me, and why Karen has been unfriendly to me since we got married. You can take off the blindfold.”
Teresa removed the blindfold and let her eyes adjust to the bright sun.
“ Down there.” Johnny said as he pointed to a big house with two big barns and corrals at the bottom of the knoll. That’s our new home. I bought it from the bank last week.”
“ Johnny, what about going to Montana to start a horse ranch?” Teresa asked.
“ Teresa, I’m not a fool okay. I know you thought I was going to make you go to Montana with me with a baby in tow. I would never do that too you except by train. My future is wherever we can be together. I can start my horse ranch right here. I did some checking and the army is buying all the horses they can. There are mustangs all over eastern Colorado and Wyoming I can round up and sell to the army and ship them out on the rail head. Why ride all the way up there to do what I can do right here. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it, and…….I can’t ask you to go all that way. Especially if we have a baby or your pregnant.” Johnny responded as he reached into his pocket and took out a key. “ Would you like to go see your new home Mrs Madrid?”
“ I would love too.” Teresa said as she took the key, and started down the hill.
“ We’ll be in Dodge City late afternoon. How you wanna do it?” Shorty asked as they rode northeast.
“ We’ll go to a saloon and have a couple beers and scope the place out. I doubt Madrid will remember us.” Miller responded.
“ You realize we’re gonna have to check our guns upon arrival in town limits?” Shorty asked.
“ Yeah, but they won’t know about our other pistols in our saddlebags.” Miller said.
“ You sure he’s not gonna recognize us?” Shorty asked.
“ Think back to the day we were captured by the Rurales, Madrid was the leader of the group we were in, but with that many men, he won’t remember. Besides it’s been five years. Since he seen us.” Miller responded.
“ I hope you’re right, because if you’re not, we just rode a hell of a long ways for nothing.” Shorty said. “ Man, where are all these damn herds going?” he asked.
“ Dodge City. The railroad put a spur in for shipping beeves out. They say close to half a million a season ship out of Dodge City alone.” Miller responded.
“ That many cows means a lot of trail-hands with three months worth of wages to spend. I just might like this Dodge City.” Shorty said.
“ Forget it. Once we kill Madrid, the law isn’t gonna let us stay. We have to ride hard and fast out of there. Unless you want to swing from a rope for killing a deputy?” Miller ordered.
“ We call Madrid out, we do it as gunfighters. He wasn’t no lawman when then.” Shorty said.
“ Don’t matter. He wears a badge now, so we gotta get him alone to do it. We gotta get him alone to call him out. That’s why we got to watch how they do things. Who does the checking after hours and such.” Miller said.
“ Madrid was ambushed a short time back while doing late night rounds. I doubt he does them anymore.” Shorty said.
“ Let’s get there and see.” Miller responded before kicking his horse into a gallop.
“ Oh Johnny, the house is so huge.” Teresa said. “ I can’t believe how big that kitchen is.”
“ Four bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. I figured we could make one of the downstairs bedrooms into a nursery until he or she is old enough to sleep upstairs.” Johnny said as he walked up behind Teresa and wrapped his arms around her.
“ And how many sons are you going to want?” she asked with a smile.
“ I figure two sons and a daughter would be a big enough family. I’d even be happy with just one son and daughter, as long as you gave them to me.” Johnny responded as he hugged her. “ Let’s go out back. I want to show you something.”
“ Has Scott seen the place yet?” Teresa asked as they walked out the back door.
“ No, I wanted to show you first.” Johnny responded. “ If you look to your right, you will see where I marked off for a good sized garden for us and over here on the left, I want to plant beautiful roses for you so I can give you one every morning. You just have to decide on what colors you want.”
Teresa turned and faced Johnny, tears in her eyes.
“ I hope those are tears telling me you like our new home querida?” Johnny sad as he gently wiped away a tear with his left thumb.
“ I love it Johnny. I can’t believe you would sacrifice going to Montana just to keep me happy.” Teresa said with a quiver in her voice.
“ I would sacrifice my life for you Teresa. I don’t ever want to be away from you again.” Johnny said as he wrapped his arms around her. “ Karen has a catalog with furniture in it from Kansas City. I figured you could order what you want in the house as long as you order us a big bed.”
“ That is a must.” Teresa said before kissing him.
“ Come on. I want to show you the barn” Johnny said as he took her hand and they walked to the barn closest to the house. “ I figured this one could maybe be the birthing barn since it’s so close to the house. Be easier to monitor the mares ready to foal.” Johnny said. “ The whole place is five hundred acres. Plenty big enough with year round water and good grazing for the horses.”
“ So are you going to keep the mustache?” she asked.
“ For now.” Johnny said as they walked inside the barn.
“ It looks good on you. I think it makes you look older.” Teresa responded. “ Wow, this barn is huge inside.” she added.
“ I figure I could have six stalls on each side for the mares with plenty of straw. Have a closed off wall between the stalls so they don’t feel threatened by the mare next to them.” Johnny explained. I want to cut doors and have runners for them to go out and walk around with the foal.”
“ How many studs are you going to have?” she asked.
“ I don’t know. I guess it depends of the quality I can find. Right now I only have Barranca and Rose to start this breeding ranch, but a year from now I’d like to have at least a hundred head.” Johnny responded.
Teresa took hold of his hand. “ I want what you want Johnny, but mostly, I want you to be happy.”
“ Having you as my wife makes me the luckiest, happiest man alive Teresa. I want nothing more than to succeed with this ranch, watch our children grow up and give us grandchildren we can sit on the porch and watch.” he responded.
“ Why don’t you write to Clarkston Stables. You’ve seen their horses. Maybe you could purchase a couple of good breeding stallions from them and have?” Teresa suggested.
“ I could, but I don’t want him knowing where we are at. I don’t want him coming here Teresa. I never want to see that old man again. He’s dead to me.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny, I can understand your anger, but he’s still your father. He did search all those years for you.” Teresa said.
“ Look, I know you knew him better than me. You were with him a hell of a lot longer. If you want to write to him, go ahead, I won’t stop you. Just don’t ask me to forgive a man who has nothing but hatred for a son he created out of wedlock and only wanted around to suit his needs.” Johnny responded before walking outside.
“ How long are you going to keep punishing yourself for that night?” Teresa asked from the barn entrance. “ How long do I have to watch the hurt in your eyes or see the tears you are struggling to stop from flowing right now Johnny?” she demanded as she walked up to him.
“ All I ever wanted was a father to love me Teresa. Why is it I’m the bad guy in this? The only thing I did wrong was fall in love with you! Why am I being punished for that?” he demanded.
“ Who says you’re being punished for falling in love with me?” she asked. “ Johnny, he did love you. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have done what he did riding all the way to Abilene, Texas to save you?”
“ He just wanted my gun there Teresa. As long as Johnny Madrid was at Lancer, nobody would be foolish enough to try and take it. Not after Day Pardee was killed trying. All I was to him was a hired hand good with a gun and nothing more. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a blind fool.”
Teresa stepped around to face Johnny, anger in her eyes. “ Let me tell you something.” she said before slapping him hard across the face. “ I may be a fool, but I’m the fool who married the man I love and want to spend the rest of my life with. Right now Johnny, it’s you who are being the fool. The one who is blind.” she said before walking back into the barn.
Johnny put a hand to his cheek to try and ease the stinging. How did a day he had planned to be special for them go so wrong. Walking back into the barn, he found Teresa just going up the ladder to the hayloft. Climbing up, he wiped at the tears falling from his eyes. Tears not for what his father had done to him, no, these tears where for the hurt he knew he had just did to the woman he loves.
“ Teresa, I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you. Please forgive me for what I said. It’s me being the fool, not you. I’m the one who’s blind. Please, I wanted this to be a special day for us. Please, can you forgive me?” Johnny pleaded.
Teresa turned to face her husband. Seeing the tears, she knew what she said worked. Slapping him wasn’t an easy decision to make, but she knew she had to get him to see how wrong he was being. “ I remember you once saying to Murdoch, everyone deserves a second chance.” she said as she stepped up to him and stared unbuttoning his shirt. “ I can give you a second chance.”
“ Man would you look at this town. The last time I see this many people was when I was a kid in New York City with my old man once.” Shorty said as they rode up to the Drovers Cottage and stopped.
“ What the hell were you doing in New York City?” Miller asked.
“ He sold some kind of women’s fashions or some bullshit. I was a kid and was glad to go. Got me out of doing shit my mother wanted.” Shorty said as they dismounted.
“ Here comes the law now so keep it civil.” Miller ordered.
“ Afternoon fellas.” Luke said. “ I’m sure you seen out sign about no wearing firearms in town limits, so I’ll have your guns. You can get them back when you leave.”
“ Sure thing deputy. We don’t want no trouble.” Miller said as he removed his gunbelt and handed it to the deputy.
“ How long you fellas plan on staying in Dodge?” Luke asked as he took their gunbelts and put them over his left shoulder.
“ A couple days I recon. We both saved up a good amount of money and thought we would try our luck against some of these trail hands in some poker.
“ And where is it you two come from?” Luke asked.
“ Deputy, what does where we came from have to do with anything? We’re just passing through and stopped for a couple days.” Miller responded.
“ Ain’t no law against that is there…….deputy?” Shorty asked snidely.
“ No there isn’t. Your horses look like they’ve been rode a long ways. It’s clear neither one of you are with a herd, so I’ll ask you one more time, where did you come from?” Luke asked more firmly.
“ Mexico okay. We were in a prison in Mexico.” Shorty blurted out with anger. “ We want no trouble deputy. We’re just here to rest our horses and do some gambling.”
“ Mexico huh……Why were you in prison in Mexico?” Luke asked.
“ We got caught by the Rurales while fighting in the Mexican war, which turned out to be a lost cause. We served three hard years in a hell home prison in Chihuahua.” Shorty responded.
“ I’m sorry deputy My friend has a short temper.” Miller said.
“ What’s your names?” Luke asked.
“ ” Little Bill ” Slade, and this here is ” Shorty ” Colbert. We’re not wanted for anything deputy, but you can check us out if you want.” Miller responded.
“ I don’t think that will be necessary. Just stay out of trouble, have a good time, and there will be no problems.” Luke said before walking away.
“ You stupid idiot. Why the hell did you tell him we just got out of prison down in Mexico?” Miller demanded.
“ Because I was getting pissed off at all the damn questions he was asking us.” Shorty said.
“ You better pray he doesn’t talk to Madrid about us.” Miller said before walking into the Drovers Cottage.
“ I ain’t waiting around forever to kill Madrid.” Shorty said before following Miller inside.
“ Did Teresa like the place?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah she did. Her and Karen are going to start ordering furniture and stuff for it.” Johnny responded. “ Maybe you and me can take a ride out there so you can look it over?”
“ I’d like that brother.” Scott responded.
“So you gonna live there with us, and help me with, or you gonna stay in town?” Johnny asked.
“ You sure you want me living with you and Teresa?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah I’m sure Scott. I want the two of us to run the horse ranch.” Johnny said.
“ So does this ranch have a name yet?” Scott asked as Luke walked into the office.
“ Yeah, the J & S Ranch, if that’s alright?” Johnny asked.
“ Sounds good to me brother.” Scott said.
“ Johnny, you were in Mexico right?” Luke asked.
“ Yeah, I grew up there. Why?” Johnny responded.
“ Just had two fellas come in. Their at the Drovers. The one was being real friendly talking to me, answering my questions, but then the other one smarted off and said something that’s bothering me.” Luke said as Charlie and James walked into the office.
“ They here for me?” Johnny asked bluntly.
“ I don’t know. The one blurted out that they came up from Mexico, Chihuahua. That they just got out of prison there. I asked what they were in prison for and he said the Rurales caught them when they were fighting in a Mexican war.” Luke explained. “ Their horses look like they’ve been rode a long ways.”
“ You know who they are?” Scott asked.
“ The friendly one’s name is ” Little Bill ” Slade. He said everyone just calls him Slade. The other one is……”
“ ” Shorty ” Colbert?” Johnny cut in asking.
“ Yeah. You know them?” Luke asked.
“ He’s called ” Shorty ” because of his temper. He’ got a real short fuse, and he’s good with a knife he carries inside his right boot.” Johnny explained.
“ Looks like we need to see these two on their way.” the sheriff said.
“ No!” Johnny said. “ You run them off, and they could ambush me. You have their guns, so let them stay at the Drovers a couple days. I’ll confront them and tell them it’s a bad idea to try anything while they are here.”
“ You’re going to tell them……Brother, have you gone mad? Those two clearly are here to try and kill you.” Scott said.
“ Why the hell else would they ride all the way to Dodge City from Mexico!” Charlie said.
“ Reputation. Johnny being shot was in the papers.” Scott said. “ They want the reputation Johnny built up when he was a gunfighter.”
“ But you’re not one anymore. You’re a deputy sheriff now.” Charlie said.
“ Don’t matter. I’ll always be Johnny Madrid, and to some, that’s bad news because they can’t make the highest money in a range war or anything they hire their gun out too.” Johnny explained.
“ Let’s go see these two.” the sheriff said.
I thought it would interest you in knowing your son Johnny married the girl Teresa O’Brian recently. He has also purchased a 500 acre ranch not far from Dodge City, to start a horse ranch. I am told the name will be J & S and that your other son, Scott will be a partner in said ranch. Both boys are deputies in Dodge City, and both are very well liked by the citizens of the town. There have been no reports of your son Johnny being called out, though he is going by the name Madrid and the young lady he married now has Madrid as a last name. If you wish me to continue to investigate or send you updates, I can do so.
Sincerely: Allen Martin
Pinkerton Detective Agency.
Married, and still a deputy sheriff, and now starting a horse ranch. Something he knew Johnny always dreamed of doing. No mention of children, so that was something he was glad had not happened yet. Maybe his son did want to have a life outside living by a gun, even though he was doing just that as a deputy sheriff instead of as a gunfighter. A gunfighter, why did he still have such a hard time accepting his youngest son had to do what he did to survive? He knew how hard it was below the border. How someone of mixed heritage would be treated differently than others.
Now almost two years after, Murdoch Lancer sat at his desk looking out at the land he loved more than anything. Land he seemed to love even more than his own flesh and blood. How did it all go so wrong? Were Aggie and Sam right? Was he so stubborn, so full of pride he never really seen his own two sons for the men they had grown up to become? What about Harlan Garrett? Did Scott write and tell him where he was now living?
“ Excuse me, Mister Lancer!” Ward said.
“ Yes, what is it?” Murdoch asked as he put the letter in his desk.
“ It’s the end of the month.” Ward said.
“ Oh of course, payday. Tell the men I’ll be right out” he said as he stood up. Walking over and opening the safe, Murdoch found the contract agreement him and his sons had agreed too. A third ownership to each, only he called the tune. “ You called the tune alright.” he said aloud as he set the papers aside and pulled out the monthly payroll. “ Equal partners.” is what he told them. Equal partners in the biggest spread in all the San Joaquin. A spread he would gladly give up if he could have both his sons back with him again.
“ That’s them sitting over at the corner table.” Luke said.
“ This is your play Johnny.” James said. “ We’ll back you up.”
Johnny glanced at the sheriff before walking toward the table in the corner. “ Long way from Chihuahua ain’t ya?”
“ Well if it ain’t a half-breed with a tin star pinned on his shirt.” Miller said.
Johnny hit Shorty on the back of his left shoulder. “ Stand up, and don’t even think of going for that pig sticker you carry in your right boot.”
Shorty stood up and turned to face Madrid. Hatred clearly glowing in his eyes. “ Big man wearing a tin star.”
“ You got him?” Johnny asked.
“ I got him.” Sheriff Stiles said.
Johnny reached down and pulled the right pant leg up of Shorty’s and removed a knife with a six inch blade. Handing it to Luke as he felt around the boot for anything else. “ I know you two carry more than the guns Luke took from you.” he said as he felt around the left boot. “ Well, well, well. What have we got here?” Johnny asked as he pulled the left pant leg up and removed a short barreled colt army peacemaker and handed it to Scott.
“ That’s going to cost you.” Luke said.
Johnny ordered Miller to stand up and checked him, finding a pistol in Miller’s right boot as well. “ Looks like you get to spend time behind bars again.” Johnny said. “ Move!”
“ Madrid, enjoy it while you can.” Miller said. “ You can’t keep us locked up forever.”
Johnny stopped and grabbed Miller by his shirt. “ You rode all this way to try and kill me. Why?” he demanded as he shoved Miller up against the support post.
“ Because of you, we spent three years in a Mexican prison Madrid. Three years I ain’t ever going to forget that as long as you’re still breathing.” Shorty said before spitting at Johnny’s feet.
“ You just got two more charges against you. Assaulting a peace officer and spitting in public.” Scott said as he grabbed Shorty and pushed him toward the jail.
“ Hold on. These are their horses Johnny.” Luke said.
“ You got no call to be going through our personal belongings.” Miller said.
Johnny untied their horses and started leading them over to the jail.
“ You see, since you two broke the law, that gives us the right to search your saddlebags for any other weapons.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ Luke, Charlie, Scott, take these two piece of shits inside and lock them up.” Johnny ordered as he started to search the saddlebags on Shorty’s horse.
“ Looks like Miller had plans.” James said as he pulled out two short barreled single action colts.
“ Looks like Shorty did also.” Johnny said as he pulled out another single action and a skinning knife.
“ That’s three charges against Miller for firearms within town limits and two against Shorty.” the sheriff said. “ Let me ask you something Johnny, What happened in Mexico?”
“ They joined the same Mexican revolution I was a part of and got caught. We were making a raid against this tyrant rich Don who liked to push the little guys around. He liked to force good, decent people out of their homes or off their property because he wanted their land for whatever reasons. Miller and Shorty joined the fight because they both thought there was a lot of money to be made.” Johnny explained.
“ Because you were there?” James asked.
“ Yeah. Anyways, this Don and the Rurales found out about our planned raid on the estancia and were waiting for us. As soon as I realized it was a set-up, I rode away. I tried telling the others, but they wouldn’t stop. I learned later that Miller, Shorty, and another man named ” Little Bill ” Slade were captured and sentenced to three years. That skinning knife belonged to Slade.”
“ You thinking maybe they killed him on the way here?” the sheriff asked.
“ That’s the only way Shorty could get that knife. Slade told me it belonged to his grandfather, so I recon they did.” Johnny responded.
“ But if they were in a Mexican prison for three years, how’d Slade get the knife back?” James asked.
“ I don’t know. I don’t think he had it that night.”
“ Sheriff, I want a word with you and Madrid.” Mayor Kelley said.
“ What’s on your mind?” the sheriff asked.
“ Those two men you just accosted at the Drovers Cottage. I want to know why Madrid here felt the need to do that when those men had already turned their guns in to your deputy when they got to town?” the mayor demanded.
“ This is why Mayor Kelley. This skinning knife, and these three pistols along with two more pistols found on their person when Johnny searched them.” Johnny said.
“ I don’t know who hurried up and told you what happened not twenty minutes ago mayor, but don’t you ever approach me and question the actions of one of my deputies again. Is that clear?” Sheriff Stiles ordered.
“ Perhaps I wasn’t told the whole story.” Mayor Kelley responded.
“ Why don’t you stick to running the town, or whatever it is you claim to do, and leave handling the law to us.” Johnny suggested firmly.
“ The owner of the Drovers Cottage doesn’t want you in their establishment every again. Your presence is bad for their business Madrid. Those two men came here from Mexico to try and kill you. We don;t need gunfighters coming here risking the good citizens of this towns lives because you’re here.” Mayor Kelley said.
“ I know who got you elected. Everybody in town does. You just remember this, you’re nothing more than old man Thompson’s puppet.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ I don’t appreciate your accusations sheriff. You sound like you’re accusing me of being bought, or bribed.” the mayor said.
“ Figure that about sums it up.” Johnny said as he pushed the mayor aside, and walked up to the jail door.
“ I want him fired Sheriff Stiles. Do you hear me? You fire that man, or I will have your job.” Mayor Kelley ordered.
“ I’m not firing Johnny. He’s done nothing to warrant being fired. Every business in this town and it’s decent citizens like Johnny. So why don’t you go on back to the Drovers Cottage. We have work to do.” Sheriff Stiles said before turning and following Johnny into the jail, shutting the door.
“ How long you going to keep us in jail sheriff?” Miller demanded.
“ Until Johnny feels like letting you go.” Sheriff Stiles responded. “ Since it’s his arrest, it’s his call on how long you stay behind bars All I have a say in is the fine charges.”
“ You got no call keeping us locked up like this. Just tell us what the fine is and let us go lawman.” Shorty ordered. said.
“I have every right to keep you two sorry asses in my jail. As far as the cost of the fines, each offense carries a hundred and fifty dollar fine on it. So unless you have a thousand dollars to pay those fines, you two sit in jail until Me or Johnny decide a good community service job fit for two people like you can do to work off those fine.” Sheriff Stiles responded.
“ A thousand dollars……..For what?” Miller demanded.
“ For each gun you had in the town limits in your possession. That’s a hundred and fifty each for the pistol you each had inside your boot at the Drovers Cottage, two in your saddlebags Miller, and one in yours. Shorty, you’re also being charged with spitting in public and assaulting a peace officer.” Sheriff Stiles explained.
“ Big man with a tin star. Bought and paid for.” Shorty said with coldness.
“ Why don’t you shut the hell up Shorty!” Miller ordered. “ I got enough money I can pay my fines sheriff. I’m not paying his though.”
“ You got four hundred and fifty dollars on you?” the sheriff asked.
“ Yeah, your deputy took it from my pocket. It’s in the drawer there. I told him we came here to play some poker against the cowboys who came in.” Miller responded.
“ Why don’t you just stop with the lies. We all know the real reason you two came all this way from Mexico, and it’s not to play poker.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ You got no evidence we came here to kill Madrid.” Miller said.
“ You worked with him in Mexico, and ended up in a Mexican prison for three years because of him according to Shorty there.” the sheriff said.
“ That’s just hearsay.” Miller said.
“ Nope. My deputy’s word is good enough for me. Johnny remembers you two, and his word will be solid when he tells Judge Wright.” James said.
Miller glared at Shorty before turning and going to the cot in his cell and sitting down.
“ Is it true?” Teresa asked.
“ Is what true?” Johnny responded.
“ That you arrested two me who came here from Mexico to kill you?” she asked.
“ Who told you that?” Johnny demanded.
“ Mayor Kelley was in the cafe for lunch. He wants you fired.” Teresa responded.
“ What else did he say?” Johnny asked.
“ He said he doesn’t want a man like you in his town. He’s started a petition to have you fired. He said you’re nothing but a killer wearing a badge, and the town doesn’t need men coming to town looking to kill you.” Teresa explained.
“ I arrested two men who I worked with in Mexico. The last job I hired my gun out too, they showed up and hired on also. I learned it was a setup, so I bailed from the job. They didn’t and were caught by the Rurales. They both served three years in a prison in Chihuahua.”
“ Why are they here to kill you?” Teresa asked.
“ They feel it was my fault they got caught and went to prison. I warned them, but they wouldn’t listen. There was nothing I could do.” Johnny responded.
“ I thought you would be safe here. That we could live here in peace.” Teresa said softly as the tears started to fall.
Johnny walked over and pulled her to his chest, and rubbed her back. “ That newspaper article when I was shot. People know I’m alive and where I live now. If you want to leave here, tell me now Teresa, so I can sell the ranch back to the bank.”
“ I don’t want to leave here Johnny. I want people to leave you the hell alone. Why does Mayor Wright hate you so much? He was spewing such hatred for you.” she said.
“ Because of Ben Thompson. He spread a lot of money and threatened people to vote Wright into office.” Johnny responded.
“ Where did he come from? Because Karen has never seen him around until about a month before he won the election.” Teresa asked.
“ That’s what me and James are trying to find out.” he said.
“ Ask the Pinkerton Agent to check him out.” Teresa suggested.
“ What Pinkerton Agent?”
“ The one who’s been here several weeks. He’s staying at the hotel.” Teresa responded.
“ You knew a Pinkerton Agent has been in town and you said nothing to me until now about him! Why?” he demanded.
“ I didn’t think anything of it. I’m sorry Johnny. You think he’s here because of Murdoch?” she asked.
“ Why else would he be Teresa………”
“ Johnny stop!” she ordered as she grabbed his left arm. “ It doesn’t matter if he knows where we are at. Murdoch will never be able to hurt you again.”
Johnny looked into her brown eyes, and could see the worry. “ I’ll never leave you.” he said before walking out.
Mayor Wright came out of the cafe from eating dinner, and started toward his office when he seen Madrid walking toward him alone. He could tell by the look on the mans face, his wife had done just what he had wanted, told him what he said. “ Lets see if people will want you here now.” he said softly.
Judge Wright had just walked out of the hotel with the sheriff when Teresa approached them.
“ I think Johnny is going to hurt the Mayor.” she said.
“ What, why?” Judge Wright asked.
Teresa told them what the mayor had been saying around town about Johnny, and how he was staring a petition to have him fired.
“ There’s the mayor now.” Sheriff Stiles said as they started across the street.
Johnny walked up to the mayor and stopped. “ You got a problem with me, come and tell me. I don’t ever want you coming near my wife again.”
“ Judge Wright, this……..he just threatened me. I want him arrested.” Mayor Kelley demanded.
“ I can’t do that. Everybody knows how you’ve been spreading slander around town about Johnny. In fact, I do believe defamation of character is against the law isn’t it Judge Wright?” the sheriff asked.
“ Yes it is. It’s grounds for removal from office and the person can get up to five years in jail.” Judge Wright explained.
“ The way I see it Mayor Kelley, you got two choices. I’ll give you one hour to make the right decision. And I’m only giving you that because of your wife.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ I’ll be writing a letter to Governor Anthony, telling him how corrupt the law is in this town.” Mayor Kelley said.
“ Governor Anthony is the man who helped get the Judge here appointed, and well, he’ll be real interested in hearing about your dealings at the Drovers Cottage as well as with Ben Thompson.” the sheriff said.
“ I’m sure Rhonda will be more than happy to tell how you have been extorting her.” Johnny said.
“ I have done no such thing.” Mayor Kelley said.
“Care to make a bet on that mayor?” Johnny asked. “ You be surprised what a girl will talk about after if you ask the right questions.” Johnny said.
“ I suggest you go and pack up, because the clock is ticking.” Judge Wright suggested.
Mayor Kelley glared at Johnny, then looked at Teresa. “ You’ll be a widow within a year.” he said before walking away.
“ You mind telling me what your intentions were before we walked up?” the sheriff asked.
Basically the same thing you said to him about defamation of character. I’ve been reading that book the judge has on the laws. Figured I better since I wear a badge.” Johnny explained.
“ Well, I guess we better let it be known at the town meeting tonight that we need a new Mayor.” the sheriff said.
“ So you’re reading up on the laws. You gonna take my job from me?” James asked with a smile.
“ Nope, just wanted to know them is all.” Johnny responded.
“ What are your intentions with the two in jail, Miller and Shorty?” Judge Wright asked.
“ Miller says he can pay his fines. Shorty unfortunately can’t, so we need to find some community service for him to do to work off the charges.” the sheriff explained.
“ Let them go in the morning and have Luke and Charlie escort them out of town.” Johnny suggested.
“ Let them go. Johnny, those men came here to kill you.” Teresa cut in.
“ I can’t lock up every man who wants to kill Johnny Madrid.”
“ You know they will come back and call you out, or ambush you.” she said.
“ You knew the risk when you married me Teresa. Miller and Shorty won’t ambush me. It’s not their style.” Johnny responded.
“ Did either man break any laws besides having the extra guns in their saddlebags?” Judge Wright asked.
“ Yes. Shorty spit on Johnny’s boot.” James said.
“ Spitting in public is a twenty five dollar fine. As for the extra guns, I’m afraid that since they weren’t on their person, you can’t charge them with possession of a firearm within town limits Johnny.” Judge Wright explained.
“ Yeah, I read that in that there law book last night. That’s why I said let them go.” Johnny said.
“ Okay, you can let them go in the morning.” the sheriff said. “ Judge, will you come with me so we can collect the fines and do whats necessary?”
Johnny stood there looking at Teresa as the judge and sheriff walked away. “ I guess you have no faith in me after all.” he said finally. “ Because if you did, you wouldn’t have said anything to James or the judge.”
“ I did what I thought was right to keep you from making a mistake Johnny. Before you walked away from me, you said you will never leave me. Well if that’s true, then I suggest you think real hard about how you treat me from now on when I stand up to protect you Johnny Madrid. It;s not just you anymore. You have a wife, and a brother who care about you, and if you think I’m going to just stand by and do nothing, then you don’t know me like I thought.” Teresa said before walking away.
Johnny walked into the jail at sunrise and removed the keys from the hook. Opening the door to the cells as Scott walked in.“ Your horses are saddled and waiting outside.” Johnny said as he unlocked Millers cell. “ You’ll be escorted out of town. Don’t come back.” Johnny said as he unlocked Shorty’s cell.
“ You can bet I’ll be back Madrid.” Shorty said coldly as he stepped out of his cell.
“ Shut up Shorty.” Miller ordered as Johnny unlocked his cell.
“ Let’s go you two.” the sheriff ordered.
“ What about our guns?” Miller asked.
“ You’ll get them back when you’re both out of my jurisdiction.” the sheriff said as he escorted them out to their horses where Luke and Charlie were waiting.
“ I look forward to our dance Madrid.” Shorty said as he mounted his horse.
Johnny stood there and watched them disappear from sight.
“ How about I buy you two some breakfast?” Scott asked from the doorway.
“ Sounds good.” the sheriff said.
Billy Thompson stepped off the train in Hays, Kansas, about a hundred miles northeast of Dodge City, and headed to the livery stable to buy a horse. Numerous saloons and stores lined main street on both sides. Across from the livery was a lumber yard with many freight wagons loading lumber, some with a four horse hitch. The smell of food drifted towards him as he walked along and it made his stomach rumble.
“ You looking for something?” a man asked.
Billy stopped and turned around. “ Not particularly. I just got into town off the train and thought I would go purchase a horse at the livery if he has any for sale.”
“ Guess you figured you wouldn’t be recognized coming here?” the man said as he drew his gun. “ Names Sheriff Peter Callahan, and you would be Billy Thompson, you’re wanted for the attempted murder of a deputy sheriff in Dodge City. Joe, would you kindly relieve this man of his pistol?”
“ With pleasure sheriff.” Joe said as he removed the pistol.
“ Cross the street to my nice cozy jail, and don’t try anything stupid. Joe, go send a wire to Sheriff Stiles letting him know we have Billy Thompson and he can come fetch him.” Sheriff Callahan ordered. “ You know, I’ve dealt with some pretty bold, sometimes stupid men before, but never one so bold as one wanted for attempted murder to come into my town in broad daylight thinking he wouldn’t be recognized.”
“ How’d you know it was me sheriff?” Billy asked as they entered the jail.
“ For one, I received a wanted poster on you last month. I figured you being the kid of a rich rancher, you would eventually make your way back to Kansas since you were seen in Cheyenne. Sheriff Stiles figured the same thing, so I just went to the train station whenever one came in from the west and waited. The other is Thomas Dunn, the owner of the Boggs Hotel, told me he had a request to hold a room for a B. Thompson, that the request came from Dodge City from your mother. He knew you were wanted because I put a wanted poster up in the lobby of his establishment. Wasn’t too smart her sending a wire here requesting that. Aiding a wanted man is against the law.”
“ You saying my mother will be arrested?” Billy asked as he stepped inside the jail.
“ That will be up to Sheriff Stiles, not me.” Sheriff Callahan said as he closed and locked the cell door. “ You missed lunch, but supper will be brought about seven.”
Billy walked over and sat down on the cot. “ What’s going to happen to me?”
“ Sheriff Stiles will either come get you, or send a deputy to fetch ya, and take you back to Dodge City, or they could take you directly to Kansas Stare Penitentiary in Lansing. Train runs right through there, so I’d bet that’s what they do.” Sheriff Callahan responded.
“ Telegram is sent sheriff.” Joe said as he walked into the jail and closed the door.
“ Alright Joe. You stay here while I go let the restaurant know we have a guest staying with us a couple days that will need fed.” Sheriff Callahan said.
Luke walked into Karen’s cafe and looked around. Seeing the sheriff eating lunch with Karen, Johnny and Teresa, he walked over. “ Sheriff, got a wire from the sheriff in Hays.” Luke said.
“ Hays, must be Sheriff Callahan. What’s it say?” the sheriff asked.
“ He arrested Billy Thompson today and wants us to come get him.”
Johnny set his fork down and leaned back in his chair.
“ Looks like you called it kid. Hays is about a hundred miles northeast of here. Why don’t you and Luke go pick him up, and take him to the prison in Lansing were he belongs. I’ll let Judge Wright know and he can draw up the papers and have them ready for you in the morning.”
“ We stable our horses in Hays and take him by train to Lansing, and then catch the train back to Hays, get our horses, and ride back.”
“ You thinking what, ten days?” Johnny asked.
“ About that I’d say. It’s the hottest part of summer, so you won’t be able to push the horses too much.” Sheriff Stiles responded.
“ Why do you have to go? Why can’t Luke and Charlie, or even Scott do it?” Teresa asked.
“ Because it’s my job Teresa. Scott wasn’t the one ambushed. I want to be the one to personally see this man put behind bars. He damn near killed me. Why are you even questioning my going?” Johnny demanded.
“ It’s just that……Just forget it.” Teresa said as she got up and left the cafe.
“ I don’t get it. She’s never been like this towards my job before.” Johnny said. “ Lately, she gets upset at me. The other day when we were putting up curtains, she started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she went to the bedroom and slammed the door shut on me. I’m about ready to take a room at the hotel. She’s even gotten upset with Scott over something frivolous.”
“ Maybe you should talk to her tonight. Try and find out what’s wrong before you leave.” Karen suggested.
“ I’ve tried. Scott’s tried. She won’t say what’s bothering her Karen.” Johnny responded.
“ I suggest you try harder then. Make her tell you.” Luke said.
“You two go home and get plenty of rest. See if you can patch things up between you and Teresa before you leave tomorrow Johnny.”
Teresa dropped to the bed and started crying as she curled up in a ball on her left side. She knew she had to tell Johnny why she was acting like she was, treating him like she was.
“ Teresa, we need to have a talk querida. I can’t stand you treating me the way you’ve been lately. I need to know what I did wrong, and I’m not leaving here until you tell me.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down next to her on the bed.
“ It’s not you. It’s me.” Teresa said as she sat up. “ I’m scared I’m going to lose you, and………Johnny, I’m……….”
“ Hey, you’re not going to lose me. I would never leave you.” Johnny said as he wiped at her tears.
“ Johnny, I’m pregnant. I didn’t want to tell you like this. I wanted us to have a romantic evening together and tell you.” Teresa said.
“ You’re……..are you sure?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes. I went and seen Doctor Parker last week.” she said.
“ When?” Johnny asked.
“ In about five months. Maybe less.” Teresa responded.
Johnny stood up and reached for her hand, pulling her up to him. Wrapping his arms around her. “ So I guess it is my fault after all.” he said as he hugged her. “ I can’t believe it. I’m going to be a father.” he said before kissing her forehead.
“ I’m sorry I said that at the cafe Johnny. I want you to go. Like you said, this man tried to kill you. Go…….put Billy Thompson in prison where he belongs.” Teresa said. “ Just make sure you come back to me….to us.” Teresa said as she started to unbutton his shirt.
“ I plan too.” Johnny said as he started what would be an afternoon of passion as rain started falling outside.
“ Mister Thompson, sir. Deputies Skinner and Madrid are riding out in the morning, headed to Hays. Your son Billy was arrested there. I heard the sheriff say he was going to have the judge draw up the papers.” Charles Beeson said.
“ How do you know this?” Ben Thompson demanded.
“ I was in Karen’s cafe when Luke came in with the wire. I heard it said. Madrid plans on taking your son to prison by train. That’s what the papers are for he has the judge doing up.” Charles responded. “ Look, I got no reason to lie to you Mister Thompson. Your boys spend a lot of money in here. I’d be a fool to risk losing that by lying to ya.”
“ I guess you’re not as stupid as I thought you were for a bartender Charles. I’m obliged to ya for the information.” Ben said as he tossed a dome on the bar and left.
“ You may be worthless, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let that half-breed put you behind bars. I’ll never hear the end of it from your mother.” Ben said as he mounted his horse and headed out of town.
“ Here’s the papers you’ll need when you get to the prison.” the sheriff said as he handed them to Johnny.
“ I missed you for supper last night brother. Is everything alright between you and Teresa?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, everything’s fine. Couldn’t be better.” Johnny said as he removed a rifle from the rack and started loading it.
“ You able to find out why she’s been acting the ay she has lately?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah I did. You’re going to be an uncle in about four months.” Johnny said calmly.
“ I’m sorry. What did you just say?” Scott asked.
“ I said, you are going to be an uncle in about four months. Teresa is pregnant.” Johnny repeated.
“ Congratulations Johnny. No wonder her moods have changed.” James said.
“ Is she alright with you doing this?” Luke asked.
“ Yeah. She knows how important it is to me to do this. Listen, I need you too keep an eye on her for me while I’m gone brother.” Johnny said.
“ That will be a pleasure little brother. I can’t believe I’m going to be an uncle.” Scott responded.
“ Kinda makes you feel old don’t it?” the sheriff asked.
“ Not in the least?” Scott said.
“ Looks like you two will have a wet ride. Be careful.” the sheriff said.
“ I’ll send a wire when we get to Hays.” Luke said as they headed out to their horses.
“ What about Mrs Thompson? She’s been helping him/ You charging her with aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive?” Johnny asked as he swung up in the saddle.
“ Do you want me too Johnny? The woman is in her fifties. Do you want me to arrest her?” the sheriff asked.
“ A night in jail might teach her, but I think one of your stern lectures would be enough.” Johnny responded. “ I’ll see ya.”
“ I don’t care what you have to do. I don’t want my son getting off that train in Lansing. Is that clear.” Ben Thompson ordered.
“Yes sir., but the one deputy, Johnny Madrid, sir he’s a dead shot with a pistol.” Wilson said.
“ I want Madrid and the other deputy dead. I want my son set free. I don’t care how you do it, just do it. Now go!” Ben Thompson ordered.
“ Kinda late for a storm like this. Man could get washed away crossing the street.” the bartender said. “ What’ll it be fellas?”
“ How about a shot and a beer.” Luke said.
“ Make mine tequila if you got it.” Johnny said.
“ Sure thing. If you two are hungry, I have some thick steaks I could throw on the stove with some spuds. Only cost you four bits.” the bartender said.
“ Sounds good to me.” Luke responded.
“ Alright, you fellas go sit at that table over there and I’ll have the food brought out as soon as it’s done.” the bartender said.
Johnny and Luke sat at a table in the corner where they could watch the going’s on in the saloon.
“ Seems like a quiet town.” Luke said.
“ Yeah, unlike some towns in Kansas.” Johnny responded as a girl walked over to their table.
“ How you boys doing tonight?” she asked.
“ Just fine ma’am.” Luke said.
“ Can I get you fellas anything?” she asked as she put her hand on Johnny’s left arm.
“ I appreciate the offer, but I’m not interested.” Johnny said.
“ Every man is interested. I promise I can make it worth your time. Only cost you five dollars.” she said.
Luke sat back in his chair and smiled as he watched Johnny have a little fun turning the woman down. Nobody had noticed when they came into the saloon, the badge pinned to their shirt because of the rain duster they both wore. Moving his just enough to show his badge as he picked up his beer. “ He speaks for both of us ma’am. We’re not interested in anything except drinking out beer and eating our supper when it comes.”
“ Surely you got time for one poke?” she asked as she put her hand on Johnny’s thigh.
Johnny sat back and moved his coat just enough to show his badge. “ I told you I’m not interested. Now usually I respect a woman, but if you don’t get your hand off my leg……”
“ You two are deputies?” she asked as she stood up. “ Look, I was just trying to make some money. I meant no harm. I didn’t know you were the law.”
“ Relax ma’am.” Johnny said as the bartender brought their food over to them.
“ Dora, I told you to come ask these two if they wanted anything else. I didn’t tell ya to keep bothering them. Go find someone else to get a poke from. Let these two deputies eat their meal in peace.” the bartender ordered. “ You fellas want another beer?”
“ Yeah, and give Dora whatever she drinks too.” Johnny said.
“ You looked like you were enjoying Dora touching you.” Luke said after the bartender walked away.
“ I would have been all over a woman like that if I wasn’t married.” Johnny responded as he cut his steak up.
“ Nobody says you can’t. I sure as hell won’t say anything. Hell you can do to here probably what you can’t do with your wife, and I mean no disrespect saying that.” Luke said.
“ She happens to be carrying our first child remember?” Johnny said.
“ Yeah, I remember, but Teresa is back in Dodge City, and Dora is here. It’s not like she’ll find out.” Luke said as he looked at the woman standing at the bar watching them. “ Hell, I’ll pay the five bucks if you want her.”
Johnny looked at the woman again as he sat back in his chair. “ Why don’t you do her?”
“ I’m thinking real hard on doing just that buddy. Hell we could both give her two hours she won’t forget anytime soon.” Luke said.
“ Go ahead. I’ll go get our horses settled in the livery for the night.” Johnny said as he stood up.
Luke stood up and smiled at the woman as he motioned her over. “ So you in or not?” he asked Johnny.
“ Why not.” Johnny said. “ I’ll be back in an hour.”
“ Wait a minute. Why don’t you go first and I go settle the horses. That way you don’t have time to change your mind and can give this woman a good fuck.” Luke suggested.
Johnny stood there looking from Luke to the woman, watching her barely covered breast rise and fall with every breath. “ Fine.” he said as he grabbed the woman’s hand and headed upstairs.
“ I thought I heard you up. Is something wrong?” Scott asked.
“ Just missing Johnny.” Teresa said. “ I wonder how far they got with this storm?”
“ I expect they kept going unless it got to bad and are in a hotel somewhere nice and dry.” Scott responded. “ I can’t believe you two are going to make me an uncle already.”
“ Telling Johnny didn’t go exactly how I had planned.” Teresa said. “ I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you too Scott. Snapping at you over nothing.”
“ It’s alright. No harm done.” Scott said as he went and looked out the big bay window. “ Looks like the rain has stopped and the storm is moving on. I see some stars out there.”
“ Do you miss him?” Teresa asked.
“ Who Johnny?” he asked.
“ Murdoch, do you miss him, or Lancer?” she asked.
“ A part of me does. I imagine you do more though.” Scott responded.
“ I miss going to my fathers grave and putting flowers on it every week. I miss Maria and the two of us talking as we baked or prepared meals.” she said with sadness. “ I miss Murdoch too. He was like a father to me. He raised me after my father died. I just wish he could have accepted me and Johnny together.”
“ Maybe now that it’s just him alone in that big house he has. Why don’t you write to him and let him know he’s going to be a grandfather.” Scot suggested. “ I won’t tell Johnny.”
“ He already said I could. He has so much anger inside still for that night. When he brought me out here to see the ranch for the first time. We got in a fight over it. I reminded him how he once told Murdoch that everyone deserves a second chance. Scott, he said he will never accept Murdoch as his father or want to see him again.” Teresa said as she started to cry. “ I know he’s a long ways away, but I would like him to be able to meet his grandchild.”
“ Tell you what. Why don’t you write to him and ask him if he would consider coming here in the spring. The baby is due in December. I’ll pay for a round trip ticket on the train for him. Johnny doesn’t have to know, and if he doesn’t like it. Then me and him can have a brother to brother discussion about it.” Scott suggested.
Teresa stood up and walked over to Scott standing in front of the window, wrapping her arms around him, giving him a big hug. “ Thank you. I think I’ll write to him tomorrow.”
“ Good, now why don’t you go try to get some sleep.” Scott ordered.
Teresa gave Scott a kiss on the cheek, turned and headed to her bedroom, stopping just outside the room.“ Do you think Johnny will bed another woman when he’s away from me like this?” she asked
“ No, Johnny loves you Teresa. I think if a woman offers herself to him, he will refuse he advances. I’ve seen how he looks at you. You are the only woman my little brother wants to bed.” Scott responded.
“ I hope you’re right.” she said before going in her room and closing the door.
“ I hope you don’t screw this up little brother.” Scott said as he walked over and stoked the fire for he night.
“ You have a good time with Dora last night?” Luke asked.
“ As a matter of fact I did.” Johnny responded. “ I hate to say it, but I forgot how it felt to be a little rough with a woman in bed. With Teresa, I can’t do what I did last night. I’d be sleeping in the barn if I tried.”
“ See, I told you it would be worth it.” Luke said with a smile.
“ She was worth all of the five dollars that’s for sure.” Johnny said as he slid his rifle into the scabbard.
“ Johnny Madrid……come on out you sonofabitch…….Come on out and meet the man who’s going to send you to hell.” Shorty yelled.
Luke went to the livery door and looked out. “ Shit. It’s Shorty. I don’t see Miller anywhere though.”
“ You’re Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter from Mexico?” the livery owner asked.
“ I used to be old timer.” Johnny said as he went to the door and looked out at Shorty standing in the middle of the street. “ Damn it. I don’t want this Luke.”
“ Let me go out and try and talk to him.” Luke suggested.
“ No, he’s dead set on us dancing. I just wish I knew where Miller was at.” Johnny said as he checked his colt, spinning the cylinder.
“ I got your back.” Luke said as he walked out behind Johnny to watch the rooftops. Only a few people were out on the boardwalks as it was barely dawn. Some windows were lighting up from lamps being lit.
“ Someone get the sheriff.” someone yelled.
“ I told you I was going to kill you Madrid. I didn’t ride all the way from Chihuahua, just to be run off by that deputy there with you and the others.” Shorty yelled. “ You cost me three years in a Mexican Prison. Three fucking years of hell, so that’s what I’m going to do to you. I’m going to send you to hell Madrid.”
“ Where’s Miller? He wise up and leave you to die all alone?” Johnny asked as he stepped out into the street.
Sheriff Mellison walked out of his office and seen the two men facing off. He seen the badge on Johnny’s shirt, and knew he had been working as a deputy in Dodge City for almost two years.
“ You don’t need to worry about where Miller is at. I don’t need him to kill you!” Shorty said. “ I knew when I seen the two of you ride out yesterday morning in the storm I would finally get my chance to kill you.”
“ Why you so bent on dying over this Shorty? I don’t want to kill you.” Johnny said.
“ I told you, you cost me three years in a Mexican prison.” Shorty responded.
“ I told you to leave. That it was a trap, but you, Miller, Slade and those other men who were gunned down wouldn’t believe me. You never would have got caught if you had done like I said.” Johnny said.
Luke watched the rooftops and scanned the street for any sign of Miller. Seeing the sheriff standing to Johnny’s left just outside his office.
“ I’m not going to kill you Shorty. I don’t want to do this. Ride out and forget about it.” Johnny said. He knew his words fell on deaf ears when he seen what he was watching for and drew his colt, fanning the hammer.
Shorty felt the bullet slam into his right shoulder as his gun fell to the ground. “ You sonofabitch.” he said as he reached to pick the gun up and cock it.
“ Damn it Shorty, don’t!” Johnny pleaded as he cocked his colt again and fired, hitting the man in his upper right arm, shattering the bone.
Shorty screamed out in pain as the bullet ripped through his upper arm. He could feel the bone shatter.
Sheriff Mellison walked over to Shorty and kicked the gun away. “ You two, help get him to docs.”
“ He carries a gun inside his left boot and a knife in the right one sheriff.” Luke said as a shot rang out, kicking up dirt at Johnny’s feet.
Johnny spun and crouched as he fired at the second floor window of the hotel across from the livery, hitting Miller square in the heart.
“ Shit, he was there all that time. I’m sorry Johnny, I never seen him.” Luke said.
“ It’s alright.” Johnny said as the sheriff walked over to them.
“ I’ll need you to write out a statement on what happened and why.” Sheriff Mellison said as hos deputy came up to them.
“ The other one is dead. Shot in the heart.” he said.
“ Alright. Get a couple men to take his body to the undertaker.” the sheriff ordered.
“ I’ll pay for his funeral sheriff.” Johnny said. “ No sense in the good people of this town having to fit the bill.”
“ That’s right nice of you Madrid.” the sheriff said. “ Lets get this paperwork done so you two can be on your way.”
Johnny seen Dora standing outside the saloon with the bartender, a smile on her face.
“ He from Dodge City?” Dora asked the bartender.
“ Yeah, they’re both deputies there. Why.” he asked.
“ Drovers Cottage is there. That’s a big whore house from what I hear. I think I’ll go see what it’s like working there.” Dora said.
“ You really think you’re gonna get anything more than what you got last night from Madrid?” he asked. “ He’s a married man. He’s not going to give you the time of day in that town.”
“ He will if I have my way.” Dora said as she watched Johnny head to the sheriff’s office.
“ Okay. That should do it.” Sheriff Mellison said as he took the statement Johnny wrote out from him. “ You know, everything I heard about you was right. I couldn’t believe a gunfighter would give another man the chance to walk away, at least I didn’t until I seen you out on that street do just that.”
“ I don’t enjoy killing another man sheriff, even when they deserve it.” Johnny said as they deputy walked into the jail.
“ You shattered his arm with that second shot. Doc said he can’t fix it. He’s gotta cut the arm off.”
“ Well, you gave him every chance to walk away a whole man. Now if he lives, he’ll have a reminder of how stupid he was.” Sheriff Mellison said.
“ Miller got off easy.” Luke said.
“ That was a hell of a shot you made hitting him in the heart like you did.” the deputy said.
“ I hit where I aim. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be alive.” Johnny said. “ We done here Sheriff Mellison?”
“ Yeah, we’re done.” the sheriff said.
Johnny shot the deputy an ice cold glare as he walked past to the door and jerked it open.
“ You got a lot to learn about someone if you’re going to wear that badge boy.” Luke said.
“ What the hell does that mean. All I did was give him a compliment on that shot he made.” the deputy snapped back.
“ If you have to ask that, then you shouldn’t be wearing that badge.” Luke said before walking out.
Sheriff Callahan sat at his desk, going over paperwork when his door opened and Joe walked in with two other men.
“ Sheriff. These two men are from Dodge City. They’re here to take Billy Thompson to prison.” Joe said.
“ Sheriff.” Luke said as he extended his hand to shake. “ I’m deputy Luke Skinner and this here is deputy…….”
“ Johnny Madrid, as I live and breath. How the hell are ya kid?” the sheriff said as he walked around his desk.
“ What they hell you doing here? I thought you were a lawman in El Paso.” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand.
“ Got tired of killing, so I rode out headed north as far as my horse and money would take me. They needed a lawman here, so I took the job. So you’re here to take my prisoner huh?” the sheriff asked.
“ Yeah, he’s going on to Lansing to the prison there for attempted murder of a lawman.” Luke said. “ He’s the papers we have from Judge Wright to take him.”
“ Oh I believe ya. You know the eastbound train won’t be here till day after tomorrow. Westbound runs four times a week, but eastbound, I guess they figure not many people want to go east. It only comes through on Tuesday’s and Saturdays. Perry Hotel across the way is expecting you. There’s a diner in there you can eat or we got several restaurants around town that serve decent food.”
“ I couldn’t help but notice you have a saloon named Kelley’s. Who’s the owner?” Johnny asked.
“ A new guy. Showed up and bought the place, paid cash last week for it. Names James H. Kelley. Personally I don’t care for the man. The previous owner, Tommy Drumm’s won’t say, but I think he was forced into selling it to him.” the sheriff said.
“ Why you say that?” Luke asked.
“ He built that place from the ground up five years ago. In fact, his saloon is the one doing the best business in town. He kept it clean.” the sheriff explained. “ You know the man?”
“ You could say that. He was the mayor of Dodge City until we ran him out of town for defamation of character. Billy Thompson’s old man bought him the job. You can bet he didn’t get that saloon honestly from the previous owner.” Johnny said.
“ I’ve been just looking for a way of getting him out of town. Since you two can’t leave till Saturday, would you be willing to help me out?” Sheriff Callahan asked.
“ The previous owner still around?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah he is. He’s working as the desk clerk at the Perry Hotel across the way.” Sheriff Callahan said. “ Come on, lets get you fellas a room so you can clean up and I’ll introduce you to him.”
“ I need to send a wire letting the sheriff know we made it here.” Luke said.
“ Alright, the telegraph office is just down the street on this side.” the sheriff said as they walked out the door.
“ Hold on sheriff. I want to see our prisoner first.” Johnny said.
“ Right back there. Go ahead and brighten his day up.” Sheriff Callahan said.
Johnny opened the door to the back cells and walked in. “ Hello Billy.” he said as he walked over to the bars. “ I knew you wouldn’t stay in Colorado, or Cheyenne. You’re too much of a spoiled rich kid, mamma’s boy. I thought I would let you know it will be me and Luke escorting you to Lansing and making sure your sorry ass is put in prison.” Johnny said before turning to walk out. “ Oh, you should know, your mother is being charged with aiding and abetting a wanted man. That carries a sentence of one year. Hope it was all worth it boy. I’ll see ya Billy.” Johnny said before walking out and closing the door.
“ You really arrest his mother?” the sheriff asked.
“ No, but he doesn’t need to know that.” Johnny said.
“ How come we can’t go into town and have us a drink?” Sam asked.
“ Because Madrid or the other deputy will recognize us is why.” Nick responded.
“ So where do we get on the train at then, because they will see us board it in Hays.” Sam asked. “ The train stops in Salina, so we can get on it there.”
“ Salina, that’s a good long hard ride to get there before the train.” Nick said.
“ Stop whining or leave. It’s there or not at all.” Sam said.
“ Look, old man Thompson doesn’t have to know we didn’t do what he asked. I think he should be the one doing this, not us. It’s his damn kid who tried to murder that deputy. I don’t think I’m going to do it. Dying or going to prison for a spoiled rich kid who needs to be taught a lesson, it’s not worth it in my book. I’m sorry Sam, I can’t do it.” Nick said.
“ You’re not afraid of being hunted down and killed by someone the old man may hire?” Sam asked.
“ No, because he won’t do it. Look, you yourself took a lot of crap from that smart mouthed kid. Serving time in prison is just what he needs.” Nick said.
“ Why not keep going north and get in on some of that gold along the Ruby river in Montana?” Nick suggested. “ I hear they’re picking up good size nuggets with little to no effort from that river and the streams.”
“ Not me. Old man Thompson asked me to do a job, and I fully intend on doing that job. Only it’s not going to be the job he wants us to do.” Sam said.
“ What do you mean?” Nick asked.
“ We get on that train in Salina, and kill that damn kid.” Sam said. “ It’s like you said Nick, that little shit rubbed me wrong for the last time. It’s payback time.”
“ Salina is a hundred miles. We better get going if we’re going to be there when the train comes in.” Nick said.
“ Madrid won’t know what hit him.” Sam said as he stood up and grabbed his saddle.
“ Madrid, you mean Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?” Ford asked.
“ Yeah, Look we’re not going up against him. All we’re going to do is kill Billy Thompson.” Sam responded.
“ Nobody told me we would be going up against Johnny Madrid. I’m out.” Ford said as he stood up, grabbed his saddle and went to his horse.
“ We’re not going up against Madrid, I said.” Sam snapped back.
“ You don’t get it Sam. I seen Madrid gun down two of the best in Nogales once. Two men stood before him in the street and he gunned them down. Neither one’s gun made it out of the holster before they were shot, and both were killed by bullet to the heart.” Ford explained as he saddled his horse. “ Do you hear me. Two men shot in the heart. It happened so fast. I’m not doing it.”
“ Tommy, how would you like to get your saloon back?” Callahan asked.
“ Sheriff, you know I would, but it’s not going to happen.” Tommy responded.
“ Why don’t you tell them how you lost it to Kelley.” Callahan said.
“ Who are they?” Tommy asked.
“ I’m sorry, Tommy these are the two deputies from Dodge City. They came to escort my prisoner to Lansing prison. This is Johnny and Luke.” the sheriff said.
“ The man you lost your saloon too was the mayor of Dodge City until we ran him off for defamation of character and some other stuff. He’s dirty, and does dirty things so if we can help you get your saloon back, would you be willing to play along?” Johnny asked.
“ Play along?” Tommy asked.
“ We have those papers for Billy, to take him to prison. Kelley isn’t going to know they’re not for him. We could walk into the saloon, and tell him I decided to file charges against him and we are here to arrest him.” Johnny explained.
“ And in order to not get arrested, he would have to sign his saloon over to you and leave Kansas, never to return or he’ll be arrested and put in prison.”
“ Sounds like that just might work. I’ll be forever in your debt if this works.” Tommy said.
“ When is he in the saloon?” Luke asked.
“ He’s there every night to watch over everything.” Tommy said.
“ The bastard hasn’t even changed the name of the place. It’s still being run under Tommy’s name.” Sheriff Callahan said.
“ Martha Thompson, I’m here to arrest you.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ Arrest her, what the hell for?” Ben Thompson demanded.
“ For helping Billy. Giving him money knowing he is wanted for attempted murder.” the sheriff said.
“ You’ve gone to far this time sheriff. Get off my land.” Ben ordered.
“ Mister Thompson, I can gladly arrest you also for knowingly letting your son leave knowing what he did.” the sheriff said firmly.
“ My son did not try and kill that deputy. Billy is a good boy.” Martha said.
“ Oh shut up woman. It’s your damn ways of coddling him all these years that’s made him the way he is.” Ben said.
“ And what the hell have you been doing Mister Thompson? Every time Billy came to town he thought he could do whatever he damn well pleased because his rich daddy would get him out of trouble. You yourself said the laws every other citizen obeys didn’t apply to your son. You threatened the saloons and Rhonda at the Drovers Cottage if they complained about Billy or any of your men. You’re finished Ben Thompson, Mayor Kelley was run out of town. You’ve bullied the good decent people of Dodge City for the last time.” Sheriff Stiles said. “ Martha Thompson. I’ll allow you to turn yourself in to me tomorrow morning. I’ll expect you at my jail no later than eight o’clock.”
“ How long will I be in jail?” Martha asked.
“ Me and the judge will discuss that with just you in the morning ma’am.” Sheriff Stiles said before mounting his horse.
“ I’ll be there at eight o’clock in the morning sheriff. You have my word.” Martha said.
“ These horses need a rest Sam. We can’t keep pushing them like we are.” Nick said.
“ Fine, we’ll give them a rest. The train will arrive in Salina around mid-day tomorrow. We’re about thirty miles out. There’s a town about five miles ahead. We’ll stop there so they can get some hay and grain.” Sam responded.
“ Good. I could use some time with someone other than you.” Nick said.
“ I wanna get there early enough we can find a good pace to do it from.” Sam said. “ So don’t go getting carried away with no whore, because I’ll leave your sorry ass behind.”
Johnny and Luke walked into Tommy Drumm’s Saloon with Sheriff Callahan, Tommy, and deputy Joe Dunn. Most of the patrons in the saloon knew something was about to happen. Some left, while others just stopped talking and watched to see what was going to happen.
“ This is your play Tommy. Go tell him.” Sheriff Callahan said.
Tommy walked up to the bar at the end where Kelley was standing talking to a customer. “ You stole my saloon from me Kelley, and I want it back……now.” Tommy ordered.
Kelley looked at Tommy and started laughing. “ Go on back to the hotel and leave me alone.”
“ I said you stole my saloon from me and I want it back Kelley.” Tommy said firmly.
“ Tommy, you are really tarting to get on my nerves. You lost this place fare and square to me. No go away before you get hurt.” Kelley ordered.
“ Either you give me back my saloon, and leave Kansas, or go to prison.” Tommy said.
Kelley started laughing harder. “ You believe this guy. Look, Tommy, I’m about to have you messed up. Now you don’t really want your pretty little wife to see you all beat p do you?”
“ Last warning Kelley. Give me back my saloon, or go to prison.” Tommy said again.
“ Go to prison for what, running a saloon you lost?” Kelley asked. “ That’s not a crime.”
“ Defamation of character is, and those two deputies over there at the door would like a word with you. It seems they have papers from a Judge Wright charging you with defamation of character and some other things you did while you were the mayor of Dodge City until you got run out of town and came here.”
Kelley tried to swallow a lump that just wouldn’t go down as he watched Madrid and Skinner walk toward him with Sheriff Callahan.
“ You got no call coming here and harassing me Madrid. I left Dodge City like you ordered. It’s not against the law for me to own a saloon.” Kelley said with nervousness.
“ No…it’s not illegal. It is illegal though to swindle someone out of what they worked damn hard to build from the ground up.” Sheriff Callahan responded.
“ Judge Wright thought we were a little too lenient on letting you go so easy. I guess it’s just pure luck for us to find you here in Hays.” Luke said.
“ Once again you have a decision to make Kelley. One, you can give Tommy back his saloon and all assets and money made while you had it, and leave Kansas forever, or two, you can lose everything and go to prison for five years.” Johnny said.
“ We have the papers right here. What’s it going to be Kelley?” Luke asked.
Kelley glared at Johnny, the veins in his temple pulsing as his anger could clearly be seen. “ You no good sonofabitch. I hope someone puts a damn bullet in you.”
“ Just to make sure you don’t leave town before Tommy gets his money from the bank, I’m putting you in jail until the bank opens in the morning. After we are going to go see your lawyer and have the paperwork changed back into Tommy’s name.” Sheriff Callahan ordered.
“ I never changed the paperwork. It’s still in his name. I just had the money go to a different account.” Kelley said. “ Without tonight’s take, there’s roughly five thousand dollars in the account.
“ Got a wire from Luke. Him and Johnny can’t leave Hays until Saturday. Luke says they had some trouble in Bazine.” Sheriff Stiles said.
“ Did he say what kind of trouble they had?” Scott asked.
“ Nope. I guess we’ll find out when they get back here.” Sheriff Stiles responded.
“ They’re going to be ambushed in Salina.” Ford said as he stormed into the jail. “ Old man Thompson sent me, Sam and Nick to free Billy, only Sam isn’t going to try and free him, he’s gonna kill him.”
“ Whoa, now just slow down. Who the hell are you?” Sheriff Stiles demanded.
“ My name is Bob Ford. I started working for the Rocking ”R” Ranch last month. Mister Thompson ordered me, Sam Brown, and Nick Boswell to get on the train as passengers and kill your deputies, stop the train, and free Billy Thompson. Only yesterday, Sam decided he was going to go to Salina and ambush Billy to kill instead.” Ford explained.
“ Why?” Scott demanded.
“ Because of how the old man and Billy chided him. Especially Billy thinking he was better that anyone else. I don’t think Nick wants to go through with it, but Sam does.” Ford responded.
“ Charlie, go send a wire to Hays and tell them they will be ambushed in Salina.” the sheriff ordered.
“ Charlie, don’t say anything to Teresa about this if you see her.” Scott requested.
“ I won’t.” Charlie said before heading out the door.
“ What about him?” Scott asked.
“ What about him? He’s broke no laws that I know of.” the sheriff responded. “ I strongly suggest you get on your horse and you leave Kansas., and never come back.”
“ Fine by me. I never should have left Texas.” Ford said as he opened the door and left.
“ Sam Brown was with Billy the night he ambushed Johnny. It was Sam’s gun that tore thru Johnny’s right side.” Scott said.
Johnny and Luke sat eating lunch in the Perry Hotel when Sheriff Callahan came in. “ Got a wire here from Sheriff Stiles in Dodge City.” he said.
“ What’s it say?” Luke asked.
“ He warns you two will be ambushed in Salina by two men.” the sheriff responded. “ A Sam Brown and Nick Boswell.”
“ They work for old man Thompson. Sam Brown is the other man who ambushed you.” Luke said.
“ Nothing says you two have to take him by train. The stage runs that way also. It’ll just take longer and is a lot rougher ride.” the sheriff suggested.
“ What kind of cars that train gonna have headed east?” Johnny asked.
“ Usually one or two passenger cars, A few cattle cars, some lumber cars and one or two flat cars. Why?”
“ Billy’s going by train to Lansing, but he’s going to be in one of those freight cars where they can’t see him.” Johnny said. “ You got leg irons and wrist shackles?”
“ No, but I can have the blacksmith make up some for him. All I got are cuff bracelets.” Sheriff Callahan responded.
“ Good. Most freight cars have a steel rod that runs down the middle from end to end for securing stuff. Leg shackles will keep him from trying to run away, and wrist shackles with a chain secured from them up to that steel rod will keep him good.” Johnny explained.
“ Alright. I’ll go talk to the blacksmith about fixing up what you need.” Sheriff Callahan said. “ Enjoy your lunch.”
“ Hang on. You might want to wire the law in Salina, let them know to be on the watch for two men coming into town who look like they’ve rode hard and a long way to get there.” Johnny suggested.
“ Alright. It’s a long shot, but I’ll go send the wire right now.” the sheriff said.
“ You plan on making Billy stand the whole trip?” Luke asked.
“ Pretty much. Unless you have something else in mind?” Johnny said.
“ Nope. I think standing two hundred and sixty miles will teach him good. Kids been living with a golden spoon in his mouth for way to long.” Luke said.
“ Sit down on the bed and hold your hands out.” Johnny ordered. ordered.
Billy did as he was told. “ Where you taking me?” he asked.
“ Where you belong……Prison.” Johnny said with coldness. “ Stand up and step out.” he ordered.
“ You might be interested to know your father wanted Sam Brown, Nick Boswell and a new hire named Bob Ford try and free you when we get to Salina, but it turns out Sam changed his mind and plans to try and kill you. I guess he wants to pay you back for all the bullying you and your old man gave him.” Johnny said.
“ Sam should have shot you in the chest with his pistol. He just didn’t have the guts. He was weak just like Nick. My father never should have hired them. It was my job make them do their job every day. Those two were pathetic.” Billy responded as he stepped out of the cell.
“ Let me tell you something you little shit. I have to protect your sorry ass until you are behind prison walls. There’s nothing that says I have to listen to your smart ass mouth. You think you’re better than everyone else when you’re not. Sam Brown will be arrested in Salina for his part in trying to kill me.” Johnny said firmly. “ Move.” Johnny ordered as he shoved Billy out the front door. “ Down to the blacksmith. We got some jewelry made special just for you to put on.”
Billy turned to go back in the jail, but was tripped by Luke, and went down.. “ I ain’t wearing no leg irons.”
“ Get your sorry ass up, now.” Johnny ordered as both him and Luke jerk Billy back to his feet. “ You can either walk down to the blacksmith or be dragged. The choice is yours.”
“ I swear if I get another chance, I will kill you Madrid.” Billy vented.
“ You see all these people standing around watching you? You think they give a shit what happens to you? They all know what you did. How you ambushed me, shot me in the back. You’re nothing but a coward. A little man who can’t make it without your daddy and his money.” Johnny said as they reached the blacksmith. “ Fit him up. Put the leg irons on this piece of shit.”
“ These shackles can only be removed with a hammer and chisel.” the blacksmith said. “ You still want a chain attached to the wrist cuffs?”
“ Yeah. It’s going to be fastened to that steel rod overhead in the freight car I told you about.” Sheriff Callahan said.
“ How long you want it to be?” Stu asked.
“ Four feet should be enough so he can sit in a chair.” Luke said.
“ Here comes the train. Right on time.” Sheriff Callahan said. “ I’ll go have a talk with the engineer and conductor about their special passenger while you finish up here.”
Ten minutes later Johnny and Luke escorted Billy to where the sheriff was standing , talking to the conductor.
“ Conductor says the middle freight car is empty.” Sheriff Callahan said.
“ Let’s go Billy.” Johnny ordered with a nudge of his rifle barrel.
“ You really think Rhonda is going to allow you to work in Dodge City?” the bartender asked.
“ Something you don’t seem to understand. Men will always want whores. Especially young ones who know how to please their client like I do.” Dora responded.
“ It’s not that hard for a whore to lay on a bed and spread her legs for a man.” he said harshly. “ You leave here, don’t think you can come back.”
“ Oh don’t worry, I don’t plan on coming back here every again.” Dora said with a laugh as she walked out the door.
Harlan Garrett sat at his desk in his den and opened the letter.
I thought it was time I tell you I am no longer living at Lancer. Just over two years ago, Murdoch said some horrible things to my brother, causing him to leave Lancer. The following morning, both me and Teresa left looking for Johnny. We are all living here in Dodge City, Kansas. Both me and Johnny are deputy sheriff’s, and we have recently started a horse ranch called J & S. Johnny and Teresa are married and expecting their first child in December. Sometimes I still struggle with the fact that I am going to be an uncle. My brother is an incredible person the people in this town seem to like and respect. I would like you to come and visit in the spring if you could. The train runs right through Dodge City, so you wouldn’t have to ride in an uncomfortable stagecoach. It’s about time for me to go to work so I will write again when I can.
Your Grandson Scott Garrett.
Harlan smiled at the fact that his grandson used his mothers last name, and not Lancer. He couldn’t help but wonder what happened, what was said to make Murdoch Lancer lose both his sons, and the girl he said was his ward. The girl, could that be the reason? Did Madrid violate that innocent girl and that is why they left Lancer. Looking at his planner, Harlan made a note to keep two weeks if not longer free in early May.
“ I will come to Dodge City and see you Scotty in the spring, and if I can, I will get you to come back to Boston with me.” Harlan said aloud as he closed his planner.
“ You think I could get a drink of water?” Billy asked.
Luke picked up the bucket and walked over to Billy, and set it down in front of him.
“ Thank you.” Billy said as he picked up the ladle and dipped it in the water. “ You think maybe one of you could open one of those doors to allow a breeze in here?”
“ You got some water.” Johnny said as he walked over to Billy, picked up the bucket, and sat it down over by the door. “ Be happy with that, and shut the fuck up.” he ordered.
Billy lashed out with the ladle and hit Johnny net to his right eye before he grabbed the chain running up to the steel rod above him, and lashed out with both feet, kicking Johnny square in the chest hard, knocking him backwards.
Luke lashed out and hit Billy hard in the mouth. “ You sonofabitch!” he yelled as he kicked the chair away and left Billy struggling to stand up as he went to Johnny. “ You alright?” he asked as he helped Johnny stand up.
Johnny took several deep breaths as he felt a trickle of blood run down his face. “ Yeah, just knocked the wind from me.” Johnny said between breaths as he walked over and grabbed Billy by his hair and pulled him up. “ That’s going to cost you you little bastard.”
“ You think I give a shit about you. I told you, I would try and kill you again if I got the chance. Next time I’ll kick you harder and break your fucking ribs.” Billy spat.
Johnny spun Billy around and slammed a fist into his gut, and hit him hard in the face, knocking him to the floor, knocking the air from him, causing him to throw up all the water he just drank. Taking the key from his pocket as he set the chair upright and climbed up on it.
“ Get that sonofabitch up Luke.” Johnny ordered as he unlocked the chain from the steel rod.
“ Stand up Billy. Stand the fuck up now.” Luke ordered as he jerked Billy by his right arm. “ Stand up.”
Billy struggled to breath as he staggered and struggled to stand. His stomach rebelling against him and emptying the rest of the water as Johnny shortened the chain, making him able to only stand up.
“ You say another word and I’ll fucking gag you for the rest of the trip.” Johnny spat before he backhanded Billy, splitting his bottom lip wide open.
“ Johnny, that’s enough.” Luke said. “ Get away from him.” he ordered.
Johnny glared at Luke a minute before he walked over to the other end of the freight car and placed his hands on the wall, dropping his head between them, looking at the floor.
Luke picked up the water bucket walked over and put a hand on Johnny’s left shoulder. “ Hey, you alright?” he asked.
“ I’m done Luke. After we get him to the prison, I’m done being a deputy. I have a wife pregnant with our first child, a wife I may lose when I tell her what I did in Bazine.” Johnny responded as he stood up straight. “ I have a horse ranch I need to start building up. I can’t do that and be a deputy at the same time. I have a father in California who hates me because of what I did to survive in Mexico, and for falling in love with Teresa. Because of me, my brother has nothing to do with his father.”
“ Hey, it sounds to me like you have a lot on your mind buddy. A lot of it it sounds like is nothing you can do about. I don’t know about your life before you came to Dodge City, or why your father hates you. No father has the right to hate their child for doing whatever they had to do to stay alive. As for Teresa, I should have tried to talk you out of it. I’m just as much to blame, if not more.”
“ No, it was my decision Luke. You didn’t put a gun to my head and force me to go upstairs to her room.” Johnny said as he turned and looked at Billy glaring at them as blood dripped from his chin. “ I became Johnny Madrid to stop people from doing to me what I just did to Billy.”
“ Hey, I would have done the same thing to that piece of shit.” Luke said.
“ You haven’t been abused like I have Luke. I swore I would never do that. Being in a fight with someone is one thing. He can’t even fight back. He’s in shackles for Gods sake.”
“ Can’t fight back. That’s bullshit Johnny. He attacked you! James, Charlie, hell even Scott would have done the same thing.” Luke snapped back. “ If you want to stop being a deputy, fine. But make sure you have all your priorities right. I say that because I don’t think you would have even considered fucking Dora if you didn’t have insecurity issues in your life.”
“ We’re stopping.” Johnny said.
“ We must be coming into Salina.” Luke said
“ We need to gag Billy so he can’t say anything and be heard.” Johnny said as he walked over to Billy and pulled a kerchief from his back pocket. “ I’m only doing this to keep you alive.” Johnny said as he tied the kerchief around Billy’s mouth as the train stopped.
“ He’s not in the passenger car.” Nick said.
“ Madrid must have him in one of the other cars.” Sam said.
“ The cattle cars are being left here, so they must be in one of the three freight cars.” Nick said. “ The middle one is the only one with the doors closed.”
“ Let’s go take a look.” Sam said.
“ That’s far enough boys. Get away from that door.” the conductor ordered.
Sam looked at Nick. “ We ain’t done anything wrong Sheriff. Just wanted to see if a package we’re supposed to pick up is in the car.”
“ You want to pick up a package, then do it like everyone else and go to the freight office.” the conductor said.
Sam turned around and walked up to the conductor. “ Sure.” he said before plunging a knife deep in the mans chest.
Nick reached up and undid the latch to the door and pulled it open. Looking inside as Sam came over. “ It’s too dark, I can’t see anything.” Nick said as the sound of a pistol being cocked echoed in the car.
“ Don’t try it.” Johnny said as he pressed his rifle barrel into Sam’s back.
“ Sam Brown, I’m arresting you for the attempted murder of deputy Johnny Madrid in Dodge City. We have written statements so don’t try to deny it.” Luke said firmly.
“ Sheriff, you happen to have a pair of shackles we can put on this man so he can join Billy?” Johnny asked
“ Sure do. Joey, give me your scatter gun and go get a set of shackles from the bottom drawer of my desk. There’s a key for them in the middle long drawer. Bring a pair of wrist cuffs for this man.” the sheriff ordered as he took the shotgun.
“ Good thing Judge Wright had your name added to the papers before we left. Makes it that much easier to leave your sorry ass with Billy’s in the prison.” Luke said.
“ Nick Boswell, Looks like you will be a guest in my jail for a few days. Longer if these two want to file charges against you for aiding and abetting a wanted man.” the sheriff said.
“ I didn’t know Sam was the other man who ambushed Johnny. I swear I didn’t. I went to work for his old man after.” Nick pleaded.
“ How long can you hold him sheriff without us charging him?” Luke asked.
“ He came here with Sam planning to commit murder, so he can be charged with premeditated attempted murder.” Johnny said. “ Riding all the way here from Dodge City, he had plenty of time to ride away like Bob Ford did. Just like you Sam, the night you ambushed me with Billy, you had plenty of time to walk away.” Johnny explained.
“ You could have even warned Johnny of what Billy was going to do.” Luke added.
“ He’ll have plenty of time to think about his action sitting in my jail.” the sheriff said as his deputy came back with cuffs and shackles.
“ Put the cuffs on this one and then take him to our jail.” the sheriff ordered his deputy.
Nick grabbed the deputy around the neck and removed his pistol. “ Back up. Back up or I swear I will blow his head off.” Nick ordered. “ Sam, go get our horses.”
“ Luke!” Johnny yelled as Sam reached for the rifle he was holding discharged, hitting Sam in the chest, dropping him dead s Luke’s rifle went off, hitting Nick in the head.
“ Jesus Christ. Joey, are you alright?” the sheriff asked.
“ I’m alright.” Joey said as he looked up at Luke. “ Thank you.”
“ I’m sorry this happened fellas. You go ahead and continue with your other prisoner. I’ll take care of these two. Just stop on your way back through so you can sign some paperwork.”
“ We can do that sheriff.” Luke said.
Murdoch sat at his desk, his hand shaking as he read the letter.
I am sure you already know from your Pinkerton Agent, that we are in Dodge City, Kansas, and that me and Johnny are married. I am writing to you to ask if you would like a second chance with your sons? Scott misses you, as do I, but the one who is hurting the most, the one who needs his father the most is Johnny. I watch the man I love and married struggle every day because of that night you shattered his world and took away everything he ever wanted.
If you believe in giving someone a second chance like Johnny does, then I am offering that to you. I am going to have a child in three months. I would like you to see your grandchild and your sons. If you would like to, I will buy you a train ticket to Dodge City, in the spring if you want a second chance with Scott and Johnny. This is the only chance you will get to make things right between you and Johnny. Please let me know if we can expect you.
A second chance. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he would be given a second chance to right what he did that was so wrong to his youngest son. A part of him wondered if this was Teresa wanting this to happen, or did Johnny really want him to come there? Come in the spring. Six months, plenty of time to do what he was planning. He just hoped Agatha would go along with his idea.
“ Take a look at what’s around you Billy.” Johnny said. “ It’s the last time you’re going to see it for five years.”
“ You better look over your shoulder five years from now Madrid, because I will kill you.” Billy said as two prison guards and the warden walked over to the main gate.
“ Warden, this is Billy Thompson. He’s been sentenced to five years for ambushing a lawman. This is his extradition papers.” Luke said as he handed the papers to the warden.
“ You need the shackles back?” one of the guards asked.
“ Nope. Had them special made just for Billy.” Johnny responded.
“ What happened to his face? Those are fresh cuts and bruises.” one guard asked.
“ Billy assaulted Johnny on the way here. He has a rich old man who allowed him to do whatever he wanted. Billy thinks the laws don’t apply to him. He’s never been made to owe up for doing wrong, until now.” Johnny said.
“ Says here him and another man named Sam Brown, ambushed a deputy named Johnny Madrid on main street in Dodge City, shot him in the back. Johnny Madrid is a gunfighter who runs down in Mexico.” the warden said. “ The mans a ruthless killer.”
“ You know warden, If I was you, I wouldn’t believe everything you hear about someone, especially when you don’t know that person.” Johnny said.
“ With you being a lawman, I would think you would have no care for someone who breaks the law, someone who murders for money.” the warden said.
“ Take your prisoner warden.” Luke ordered. “ You ready to go Johnny?”
“ You get paid for being the warden here?” Johnny asked.
“ Of course I get paid. I’m not going to be here for free.” the warden responded.
“ The next time you want to pass judgment on someone like me, when you know nothing about me, take a look in the mirror warden.” Johnny said.
“ I never passed judgment on anyone without facts.” the warden snapped back.
“You really should find out what a man looks like, especially one you want to accuse of killing for money.” Johnny said as he stepped up closer to the warden.
“ I don’t know who you think you are deputy, but threatening me will get you nothing but trouble.” the warden warned.
“ Luke, why don;t you tell the good warden here who I am.” Johnny suggested.
“ Say hello to Johnny Madrid warden.” Luke said.
“ I’ve always stayed on the side of the law, and never killed anyone except those who try to kill me. And I never did it for money.” Johnny said firmly. “ Unlike you.” he added with anger.
“ Let’s go Johnny.” Luke said.
“ Where’s this other prisoner, Sam Brown?” the warden demanded.
“ He’s in Salina with Nick Boswell. They both tried to kill Billy here and when I arrested Sam for his part in trying to kill me, Nick took the deputy at gunpoint and lost.” Johnny said before turning and walking away.
“ So why did you come to Dodge City from Bazine?” Julie asked.
“ That town is dead. No action. Well there wasn’t until the other night during that bad storm that came through. Two men came into the saloon to eat and I was able to talk them into some fun after supper.” Dora said.
“ You had two men at the same time?” Julie asked.
“ No, the second one was okay. I mean, most men you just want them to get on top, get it over with, and get off of you. He was decent, but nothing like his friend who went first.” Dora said.
“ Give me details girl. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a man poke me worth talking about.” Julie said.
“ You mean you’ve never had them in the Drovers Cottage? They’re both from here. That’s why I came here, hoping to be with him again. He really knows how to get a girl off while pleasing himself. He was rough though, I think he was frustrated with someone though, or about something maybe because at first he had me on my hands and knees and just pounded into me from behind as he yanked my head back and about sucked my tongue out as he kissed me with more fire and passion than I have ever been kissed Julie. I’m serious, when he kisses you, he takes your breath away.” Dora explained.
“ You said they are from here. Did you get their name?” Julie asked.
“ They’re deputies. Luke and Johnny. My real shocker came the next morning. I was standing outside the saloon enjoying the cool morning breeze when this man standing in the middle of the street started yelling for Johnny Madrid to come out and face him. I was poked the night before by Johnny Madrid, Julie. I stood there and watched him gun that man down, but he didn’t kill him. He crippled him for life. Shattered his right arm so bad with a bullet that the doc had to cut it off. Another man tried to kill Madrid from behind and Madrid spun around and shot that man in the heart from a crouched position. That man was in a corner room on the second floor of the hotel.” Dora said.
“ Really, Johnny is a really nice guy. He was ambushed by two men a while back. He’s lucky he survived. He makes sure the men don’t get out of line and business is actually really good for us at the Cottage. He usually comes in on Saturday nights and makes his presence known with the sheriff or Luke.”
“ You two either buy something or get the hell out of my shop. You’re bad for business.” the dress shop owner ordered.
“ Gladly, you ain’t got nothing we would buy anyways.” Dora said.
“ Scott, Teresa sent me out to tell you she will be done in about an hour if you wanted to go do something else and come back.” the shop owner said.
“ Thank you. I do have something I need to do.” Scott said before heading to the door.
“ Johnny and Luke should be back Thursday, unless we get another good storm like the one when they left.” Charlie said. “ Hey Scott, what are you doing here on your day off?”
“ There’s a new girl at the Drovers Cottage. She was just in the dress shop wit Julie. I overheard part of their conversation. She said Johnny was called out when in Bazine. She said she watched Johnny shoot the one who called him out in the right arm, shattering it so bad, the doctor had to cut it off. She said he then fired one shot and killed another man who tried to kill him from the second floor of the hotel. He shot the man in the heart with one shot.”
“ Luke said they had some trouble in Bazine.” the sheriff said. “ Where’s this girl at now?”
“ The shop owner ran her out of his store. She was with Julie. Her name is Dora. She was working as a whore at the saloon in Bazine.” Scott spat with anger.
“ You seem a little upset Scott. I’ve never heard you talk like that before. What’s going on?” Charlie asked.
“ Charlie, why don’t you go check the mail. I’m expecting some new wanted posters.” the sheriff suggested.
“ Sure. I’ll see you later Scott.” Charlie said as he headed to the door.
“ Okay, spill it Scott. It’s just me and you now.” James said. “ What else did this Dora say happened in Bazine?”
“ It’s personal James.” Scott responded.
“ Johnny slept with this woman. That’s why you’re so pissed off.” James said.
“ Teresa is pregnant with his child. She’s his wife, and that sonofabitch goes out and screws a whore. I want to tear his fucking head off.” Scott said with anger.
“ Okay, you need to calm down Scott. I can understand your being angry over this, but keep your voice down. You don;t want someone walking past to hear what you’re saying. If Teresa doesn’t know about this yet, let’s try and keep it that way. At Least for now.” James suggested.
“ Julie knows Teresa is his wife. James, this could devastate her. It could cause her to lose the baby if she finds out like I just did.” Scott said.
“ Go back to Teresa, take her back to the ranch and keep her there. I’ll go talk to this Dora woman. I think I will make a friendly suggestion for her to leave town.” James said.
“ And if she refuses.” Scott asked.
“ I will make it be in the best interest for Rhonda to have Dora leave.” James said as he followed Scott outside. “ I know you’re going to confront Johnny about this, just be careful how you do it Scott. From what I’ve learned about him, that he’s told me, his life has been pretty hard.”
“ I’m going to beat him to within an inch of his life.” Scott said.
“ Do you really think that is going to solve anything? I’m not condoning what he did, but maybe you should calm the hell down before you confront him about it.” James suggested “ Anger isn’t you Scott, and you know. You’re a cool-headed person. Don’t lose that. I can’t have a man working for me that has a temper. Your coolness is why I hired you.”
“ I’ll try and remember that when I’m beat his ass for this.” Scott said before walking out.
“You’ve been awful quiet since we came back from town Scott. Is something wrong?” Teresa asked.
“ I just have something serious on my mind.” Scott responded.
“ It wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with what that woman said in the dress shop would it?” Teresa asked.
“ What woman would that be? I was over at the men’s apparel remember.” Scott responded.
“ You know what woman. Scott, I heard most of what she said about Johnny in Bazine.” she said as tears welled up in her eyes.
“ I want to kill him Teresa. I don;t understand how he could do such a thing to you. Especially when you’re pregnant with his first child.” Scott said.
“ I understand that, really I do, and I appreciate you being angry, but let me handle it please.” Teresa said.
“ What are you going to do?” Scott asked.
“ I’m going to ask him if anything happened on their trip and see how he answers me. If he does tell me, he better have a damn good reason for doing it. Regardless of why he did it, he will not be sleeping in the same bed as me for a long time. I won’t tolerate him cheating on me Scott. I told him that right after we got here when I demanded to know if he had slept with Karen and how many women he had been with since he left Lancer.” Teresa responded.
“ Are you going to leave him?” Scott asked.
“ No, not this time, but I will make sure he knows I will if he ever does it again.” Teresa said.
“ Teresa, don’t take this the wrong way, but if you leave Johnny, I’m going with you. I may just be an uncle, but you have always been like a little sister to me, and that baby and you will need someone to take care of you.” Scott said firmly.
Teresa walked over and gave him a hug. “ I never thought he would do this to me Scott.” she said as she started to shake and cry.
“ It’s going to be alright. I promise you that Teresa.” Scott said as he held her snugly in his arms and let her cry.
“ Well you two made good time coming back.” Charlie said as Luke and Johnny rode up to the jail.
“ Yeah, it’s actually a nice ride when it’s not pouring down rain.” Luke said.
“ Hey brother.” Johnny said as he dismounted. “ Is Teresa alright?”
“ Teresa is just fine.” Scott responded harshly.
“ Is something wrong brother?” Johnny asked as he stepped up onto the boardwalk.
Scott ignored Johnny and went inside the jail.
“ You said in your wire you had some trouble in Bazine. Care to tell me what happened?” Sheriff Stiles asked as they all walked into the jail.
“ The morning we were leaving, Shorty called Johnny out.” Luke said.
“ We filled a report with Sheriff Mellison. He witnessed it.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a cup of coffee. “ I gave Shorty every chance I could to walk away. I shot him in his right shoulder, he wouldn’t stop, I had to shoot him again.”
“ Did you kill him?” the sheriff asked.
“ No, I hit him in his upper right arm. The bullet shattered the bone.” Johnny responded.
“ The doctor had to cut the arm off.” Luke added.
“ What about Miller?” Scott asked harshly. “ Did you cripple him too?”
“ You have a problem with me brother?” Johnny asked firmly. “ If you’re pissed at me for shooting Shorty like I did. I didn’t want to kill him. I practically begged him not to do it. Ask Luke. He seen it.”
“ I believe you Johnny.” James cut in. “ Was Miller there also?”
“ Miller tried to shoot me in the back but missed. I didn’t.” Johnny responded.
“ Miller was on the second floor of the hotel across from the livery, behind Johnny, I never seen him in the window. He shot, Johnny crouched, spun, and fired one shot, hitting Miller in the heart.” Luke explained.
“ How you recon they knew you would be there and not here?” Charlie asked.
“ Someone from here had to have told them is what me and Johnny figured.” Luke suggested.
“ How’d it go in Salina?” Scott asked.
“ Sam and Nick are dead. They tried to get away when we were putting the cuffs on them. And before you go passing judgment against me Scott, Nick Boswell took the deputy hostage. I already had my rifle on Sam when he did.”
“ I shot Nick in the head and Johnny shot Sam.” Luke said.
“ Was Sam armed when you shot him?” Sheriff Stiles asked.
“ He reached for my rifle thinking he could take it because Nick had the deputies pistol.” Johnny snapped back. “ Contact the sheriff there if you want to know the full details. I’m done.” Johnny said as he removed his badge and tossed it on the desk. “ I’ve had to kill three men in one week and crippled another. I can’t do this job anymore James. I’m sorry.” Johnny said before walking out.
“ Scott, Johnny’s hurting. He needs to fix whatever happened between him and his old man. It’s eating him up inside.” Luke said and then proceeded to tell them what happened in the freight car with Billy.
Scott listened to what Luke said happened, and even though he had anger for what his brother did in Bazine, he couldn’t help but feel some sadness also. He knew his brother was very good at hiding his feelings, and when he was hurting especially. He never imagined what happened that night two years ago would still be hurting his brother.
Johnny rode up to the house, dismounted, and hurried inside. “ Teresa.” he called.
Teresa walked in from the kitchen, wiping flour from her hands. “ Hello Johnny.”
Johnny walked over and pulled her to his chest, holding her as tight as he could. “ Oh I missed you two.” he said before he claimed her mouth. “ Is something wrong?” Johnny asked when Teresa broke off the kiss and pushed him away.
“ Why would anything be wrong?” Teresa asked before turning and going back into the kitchen.
“ Hey, Teresa, what the hell. I’ve been away from you for nine days and you can’t even kiss me back.” Johnny said with a little anger as he followed her into the kitchen.
“I’m busy making pies.” Teresa said as she opened the oven door and removed a pie, sitting it on the counter.
Johnny took hold of her right arm and pulled her to the bedroom.
Sheriff Stiles walked into the Drovers Cottage with Luke. “ There she is.” the sheriff said.
“ What have I done wrong now sheriff?” Rhonda asked.
“ You have a new girl working for you. Her name is Dora, she came from Bazine, where is she?” Sheriff Stiles asked.
“ She’s upstairs with a customer. Why you want to see her?” Rhonda asked.
“ I want her to leave town. She’s trouble that you don’t want or need.” the sheriff said.
“ She’s young and good in bed. None of the men she’s been with have complained about her.” Rhonda said.
“ I know why they want her gone Rhonda.” Julie cut in. “ Dora had a night in Bazine with Luke, and Madrid. Johnny is why she came here. She’s hoping she can get poked by him again.”
“ If that’s the case, you got no call telling me to have one of my girls leave here just because two of your deputies had a romp with her, and one of them don’t want his wife finding out.” Rhonda said.
“ This badge gives me the right Rhonda. I want her gone by morning. If she’s not, I will shut you down permanently. And don’t think me and Judge Wright can’t do it.” the sheriff said firmly.
“ You lousy sonofabitch. How dare you come in here and threaten me.” Rhonda said with anger as Dora came downstairs and walked over to them.
“ Hey deputy. Bet you didn’t think you would see me again.” Dora said as she ran a hand up and down Luke’s right arm.
“ Knock it off Dora. The law is off limits. You weren’t truthful to me when I hired you. I don’t like being lied too. Get out.” Rhonda ordered.
“ I never lied to you. I just didn’t tell you I had two deputies from here as customers.” Dora snapped. “ I have nowhere to go if you run me out of here.”
“ I want you gone by morning. So I suggest you get busy if you want money.”
“ I missed you.” Johnny said as he ran his hand over Teresa’s stomach.
Teresa pushed his hand away and sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. “ This is the last time you will make live to me, or be in this bed Johnny.” She said with a quiver to her voice as she grabbed her rob and put it on.
Johnny sat up in bed. “ What, why?”
“ Why, you have the audacity to ask me why. I know what you did in Bazine Johnny. I heard the details of your romp with Dora very well when I was in the dress shop yesterday.”
Johnny got out of bed and slipped his pants on. “ Teresa, I was going to tell you. I never meant for it to happen. I wish to god it hadn’t, but it did, and I have to live with that the rest of my life.” Johnny said as he walked around the bed to her.
Teresa lashed out and slapped Johnny as heard as she could. “ You bastard. Our first night apart as husband and wife you bedded a whore, and I’m supposed to be okay with that?” Teresa sobbed.
“ No, I never said that. I don’t want you to forgive me for doing it. I don’t deserve your forgiveness. If you want me to leave, then I will. I’ll sleep in the other bedroom down here.” Johnny responded.
Teresa turned away from Johnny. “ I don’t care where you sleep, because we will never sleep in the same bed again. I won’t leave you. I won’t take your child from you like your mother did Murdoch, I won’t divorce you, but this will be the only child I give you. You will never touch me again.” she said with tears as she started to shake.
Johnny stood there, shocked by what he was hearing, turning he walked back around the bed and got dressed. “ I don’t blame you for hating me right now Teresa, you have every right.” Johnny said with a quiver in his voice as tears welled up in his eyes. “ You can at least give me the satisfaction of seeing your face when you say that to me Teresa.”
“ Satisfaction?” Teresa spat as she spun around. “ What satisfaction did you give me Johnny? Did you just marry me to give you legitimate children? Is that all I am to you?”
“ No damn it. I married you because I love you Teresa…….I screwed up okay.” Johnny yelled. “ I can’t believe you would even think that. You know, I know I was born a bastard, that my father got my mother pregnant before they were married. I can’t change that, but for you to think I married you so my children wouldn’t be, I never thought you would ever say or think that.” Johnny said as he grabbed his gunbelt, hat and coat, and left the room.
Teresa turned and watched him leave. A minute later the front door slammed shut. Hurrying to the front door, she opened it and stepped out as Johnny untied Barranca.
“ Don’t leave.” she pleaded.
“ Why not? You just made it very clear how you feel about me. I’ll be leaving to purchase horses for my ranch to start working. I’ll stay in the small shack behind the barn when I get back, that way you won’t have to see me, and be reminded of the bastard you married. You can have the house for you and our child.” Johnny spat. “ I know I made a huge mistake I thought we could get through. I guess I thought wrong.” Johnny said before turning Barranca and walking toward the barn as Scott rode up.
“ That’s a lot of horses.” Scott said as he closed the gate after the last horse galloped into the corral. “ Where they from?” Scott asked.
“ Montana and Wyoming. Their real good strong stock.” Johnny said.
“ How many are there?” Scott asked.
“ About a hundred head. This mare has done a great job getting them all to follow her.” Johnny said as he dismounted and walked over to the trough.
“ Is that why you’re not riding Barranca?” Scott asked as he handed Johnny the towel kept by the pump, ignoring his brothers question as he washed the dirt from his face. “ Five months ago I was attacked by a grizzly. ” Johnny responded with a slight quiver in his voice.
“I’m sorry Johnny, I know he meant a lot to you.” Scott said.
“ He gave his life trying to protect me.” Johnny said.
“ Why don’t you go clean up so you can go see her.” Scott suggested.
“ I need some time Scott. I know I’ve been gone a long time, but coming back here wasn’t easy. Just give me a day or two, please?” Johnny requested.
“ Alright brother. I can understand that. What’s another few days after seven months with you gone. I’ll let her know, and when you’re ready, let me know.” Scott said before walking away.
Johnny stayed away from Teresa and the house for a week, busying himself with separating the horses by their temperament for breaking. The one he brought back for Scott, he put in a small corral away from the others. When the time was right, he would tell his brother she was a gift to him, a thank you for taking care of Teresa. Every day he wondered if he had a son or a daughter. Scott still working as a deputy in town, allowed them a couple hours in the afternoons to visit.
Teresa sat in the rocking chair feeding the baby when Scott stuck his head in the door.
Scott knocked lightly on the bedroom door before cracking it open.“ It safe to enter?” he asked.
“ Yes.” Teresa said. “ This little man has a ravenous appetite.” Teresa said as she looked at Scott.
“ He’s on the porch. I told him he could come in, but he won’t unless you say.” Scott explained.
“ Okay. Give me a minute and I will be out.” Teresa said.
Scott turned and left the room, closing the door behind him. “ Teresa will be out in a minute. You want a cup of coffee?”
“ Coffee sounds good.” Johnny said as he sat on the porch railing.
“ Why don’t you come in and we can talk?” Teresa asked.
Johnny opened the door and stepped inside, removing his hat and coat, hanging them on the coat rack by the door.
“ I believe you know the way to the kitchen. Go join Scott in there and I will join you both in a minute.” Teresa said.
Johnny walked back to the kitchen and sat down at the table across from Scott. His back to the living-room.
“ You seem like you’re still a little on the sore side?” Scott asked.
“ It tore my side open and rose up on it’s hind legs. I managed to get my pistol out and emptied it in it’s chest. I was lucky it didn’t fall on me. A miner heard the commotion and got me to Missoula to the doctor. Had over a hundred stitches in my chest and side.
Teresa cringed as she listened to what Johnny told Scott. His body already scarred from the abuse he’s received while growing up.
“ Are you hungry? I have some biscuits left from last night.” Teresa said as she walked into the kitchen.
“ I’m fine. I ate some jerky this morning.” Johnny responded as he looked at how beautiful Teresa was. Her hair flowing down over her shoulders.
“ I heard what you said to Scott about the grizzly bear attacking you and Barranca. I’m sorry Johnny. I know how much he meant to you.” Teresa said.
“ Thank you.” Johnny said. “ How you been?”
“ I’ve been good. Winter was mostly rain and wind. The house is good. It stayed nice and warm inside. Scott did a great job keeping firewood for us.” Teresa said.
“ There was a small leak in the roof right over my bed I had to go up and fix. Having cold rain water drip on your face in the middle of the night is quit the way to wake up.” Scott said with a laugh.
Johnny sat there looking at Teresa, taking in her beauty, how full her breast were, the sparkle in her eyes, the joy in her voice.
“ How is he?” he asked softly.
“ He’s fine. I had just finished feeding him when Scott told me you were ready to come in. You may go see him if you like.” Teresa said.
Johnny stood up and smiled at her before turning and heading to the bedroom to see his son for the first time.
“ You want me to tell him?” Scott asked.
“ He needs to know. I want him to have supper with us tonight. We’ll tell him then.” Teresa said as she stood up and went over to check the stove.
“ You’re not going to go in there with him?” Scott asked.
“ No. I think he needs to see his son for the first time alone. It will help him realize what his little romp almost cost him.” Teresa responded.
“ Are you ever going to forgive him?” he asked.
“ I don’t know if I can Scott.” she said as she cut up chicken.
“ Seems to me I remember a discussion me and you had the day Johnny left about second chances and how you were going to offer that to Murdoch if he decided to come here and see his grandchild. Shouldn’t that apply to Johnny too?”
“ How do I know he hasn’t slept with other women? He’s been gone seven months Scott. How do I know another woman isn’t going to show up in town like the last one did and brag about how he made love to her and took her breath away when he kissed her?” Teresa asked.
“ You don’t. All you can do is ask him. I don’t think Johnny would lie to you Teresa. It’s not his style.” Scott said.
“ How many horses did he bring in?” she asked.
“ About a hundred head I think he said. They look really good too. All young. I would say about two, maybe three years old.” Scott responded.
“ Johnny always did have an eye for good horse flesh.” Teresa said.
“ I think I will go see to the stock before supper.” Scott said as he stood up and headed out the back door.
Johnny walked into the bedroom and seen the bassinet next to the bed. Walking over he looked down at his son laying on his back, sound asleep. Gently pulling the blanket back. Not really sure how to do it, Johnny vaguely remembered his mother picking up a baby once. Sliding hes left hand under his sons head, and his right hand under his butt, Johnny slowly picked his son up and held him to his chest as he walked over and sat down in the rocking chair. Getting him settled in the crook of his arm, he began to really look at his son. Holding his tiny hand, Johnny couldn’t believe how tiny his fingers were, all ten of them. Though he couldn’t see them for the gown, he hoped his son had ten toes too. Tears welled up in his eyes as he brought the baby up so he could give him a kiss on the forehead.
“ I screwed up with your mother little man. I did something long before you were born that I never should have done, and it has cost me dearly. I have nobody to blame for it but myself. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking while I was gone. I will never leave you son. I want you to have what I never got the chance to have growing up. I want to make something of this ranch so you and your mother will have something if I get killed. I want it to be my legacy to you. I had hoped for more than one child, but that won;t happen now. I’ve got nobody to blame but myself. I so wanted you to have a sister to grow up with that could help Teresa. Your old man’s had a pretty rough life and when I fell in love with your mother, doing so cost me dearly, but I have no regrets about it. I used to think the greatest thing to happen to me was waking up alive every morning, boy was I wrong. Your mother is the greatest thing to ever happen to me little man, her and now you. I can only hope she can forgive me one day and give me a second chance, even though I don’t deserve it. I promise I will be the best father and teacher I can too you.” Johnny said as the tears rolled down his cheek.
Teresa stood outside the bedroom door and wiped away a tear that rolled down her cheek as she listened to Johnny talk to his son. Seven months was a long time to punish a man she knew she still loved dearly. She hadn’t planned on it going the way it did the day Johnny came home and she confronted him. Maybe if he hadn’t been so forceful, grabbing her arm and pulling her into their bedroom, practically tearing her dress off her. A shiver ran down her spine as she remembered what Dora had said about how rough he was that night. Something he had never done to her. The seven months they had been apart, she would sit at night and think about that often. Was that a way Johnny like to be sometimes to release built up frustration? Could it be he made love to Dora like that that night because of her? Was she not aggressive enough like Johnny seemed to like? Did she not please him totally in bed when they made love? Where there things Johnny wanted her to do to him, but never asked? Turning, she walked back into the kitchen to start frying the chicken. And making biscuits.
Johnny stood up and walked around the room as his son slept in his arms. He couldn’t help but notice in the light, his son had his color of skin and hair. When he had first seen him, he thought his sons hair was brown like his mothers. Now in the light he could see it wasn’t brown, but black, with a slight wave to it just like his. “ I can’t help but wonder if you also have my blue eyes, or did you inherit your mothers beautiful brown eyes little man?” he asked as he gently kissed his son on the top of the head again. “ What say we go for a walk. I’m just not ready to put you down just yet. Let’s go see if your mother will tell me what your name is.” Johnny said as he walked out to the kitchen and sat down at the table.
“ Scott went to feed the stock if you want to go help him.” Teresa said. Never turning to look at him.
“ Might be a little hard to do with my arms full.” Johnny said softly.
Teresa turned around and smiled. “ I guess it would. You can lay him in the basket there if you want.” she suggested.
“ If it’s alright with you, I’d kinda like to hold him longer.” Johnny said.
“ That’s fine Johnny. I should warn you though, he might get you wet since I did just feed him when you got here.” Teresa said.
“ I don’t care. He can pee all over me if he wants.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ I want you to eat supper with us tonight Johnny, and I will not take no for an answer.” Teresa said as she put a pan of biscuits in the oven.
“ Can I ask you a question?”
“ Sure.” Teresa said as she turned the chicken.
“ What our sons name is?” Johnny asked.
“ Oh I am so sorry Johnny. I just assumed Scott had told you.” Teresa said as she walked over to them. “ You are holding Jesse Alexander Madrid, born on December 23rd at twelve thirty six in the afternoon.”
“ He’s perfect. Was it an easy birth?” he asked.
“ Yes it was. From the time my pains started and Scott left to get the doctor, he was born. Our son wasted no time coming into this world.” Teresa explained. “ Scott has really been a blessing helping me. Karen came as much as she could until I got my strength back.”
“ I know I haven’t been the husband you deserve, and I’m sorry Teresa. I have nobody to blame but me for that.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to lay Jesse in the bassinet. “ Teresa, can you ever forgive me and give me a second chance?”
“ I don’t know Johnny. I think we should just take it one day at a time. Why don’t you go help Scott and check on your horses. Supper will be done in about thirty minutes.” Teresa said before turning to go back to the stove.
Johnny reached out and grabbed her left arm gently, stopping her. Running his fingers down the left side of her face. “ I swear this to you right here, right now, I have not been with any women since I left. I will never touch another woman as long as you are my wife, whether we are together or not.” Johnny said as he slowly lowered his lips and kissed her forehead. “ I don’t ever, ever want to make you feel like I only want you for children.” Johnny said with a slight quiver to his voice. “I screwed up, and I can understand if you never let me into your life as your husband.”
“ Johnny, I’m sorry I…….”
“ It’s alright.” Johnny said before turning and walking out.
Teresa stood there looking at the spot her husband was just standing at. Seven months ago, the last time she seen him, she said he made her feel like she was just for giving him legitimate children. For many nights after he left, she would lay in bed and cry herself to sleep because of what was said. Could she repair the damage caused all those months ago?
Johnny walked into the barn and found Scott brushing is horse Walking down to Rose’s stall, he got a surprise. A foal was nursing at her side. “ Oh wow, she had her foal. I totally forgot Barranca bred her.” Johnny said as he entered the stall. “ Hello Rose.” he said as he rubbed her head. “ Can I look at your baby.”
“ She had him two months ago.” Scott said. “ His color is very unique. A white mane and tail and a copper colored coat. He does have his fathers features though. I had them out in the paddock yesterday, and this little guy carries himself beautifully. He’s really smart.”
“ Looks like he has good conformation. Big haunches, deep chest, thick neck. He’s gonna be a good stud for breeding when he’s old enough.” Johnny said.
“ I couldn’t help but notice you have a good looking horse in a corral all by herself.” Scott said.
“ Long-legged, buckskin colored with white spots on her butt?” Johnny asked.“ She’s yours. She’s from the Nez Perce Indians. They’re the ones who saved my life. They have some beautiful horses Scott. They’re called Appaloosa. When I seen her with her long legs, I knew she would be perfect for you.” Johnny said. “ I traded twenty mares for her and that mare I rode. They trained the horses to follow her. I’ll tell ya, I know Indians are good horseman, but watching them train that herd to follow that mare, I can’t explain how they did it.”
“ I don’t really know what to say. Thank you brother. Thank you.” Scott said.
“ Just promise me that if you breed her, I get the first colt?” Johnny asked.
“ Of course. Thank you.” Scott responded.
“ It’s me who should be thanking you for everything you’ve done for Teresa. I never should have left. I’ve really screwed up. I have nobody to blame but me.” Johnny said as he walked out of the stall and closed the gate.
“ You have a five month old reason to not make a mistake like that again.” Scott said.
“ I plan to do for my son as he grows up, what Murdoch never got the chance to do for me.” Johnny said.
“ Good. Keep that attitude brother, and you got it made.” Scott said. “ Lets go eat supper.”
“ That day me and Luke got back, is that why you looked like you wanted to kill me?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m not going to lie to you brother, yes it is. I wanted to beat you within an inch of your life, but Teresa talked me out of it, and after I cooled down, I realized with Jame’s help, that’s not who I am.” Scott said as he stopped walking.
Johnny stopped and turned to face his brother. “ We said some pretty harsh words the day I left. One thing she said to me, I just can’t get out of my head.”
“ I’ll help you in any way I can, you know that.” Scott said.
“ She asked me if I only wanted her to give me legitimate children. I know I was a bastard child Scott. I know he got my mother pregnant and then married her three months after. I never thought I would hear Teresa say those words to me.” Johnny said.
“ Supper is ready.” Teresa yelled from the front porch.
“ I’m going to make a suggestion?” Scott asked as they walked toward the house. “ Take it one day at a time. Don’t try and rush this.”
“ Teresa said the same thing to me.” Johnny said.
“ After eating my own cooking for seven months, this taste wonderful. Thank you.” Johnny said.
“ You’re welcome.” Teresa said. “ I have apple pie for desert.”
“ I don’t think I can eat another bite, thank you though.” Johnny said.
“ We need to talk to you about something Johnny.” Teresa said as she refreshed their coffee. “Now, I don’t want you to get upset over what I’m about to tell you, and I would like you to try and understand.”
“ Did something happen between you and Scott while I was gone?” Johnny asked softly.
“ What……no, of course not.” Teresa said.
“ I can’t believe you would even think that Johnny.” Scott said.
“ I wouldn’t be mad if you had brother.” Johnny responded.
“ Nothing happened brother. I have only treated Teresa with respect, and I never once have thought of her in any other way than as my sister-in-law. I did tell her that if she did leave you, I would go with her, because your son needs a stable male figure as he grows up.” Scott responded.
“ Johnny, last summer, I wrote a letter to Murdoch.” Teresa cut in. “ I and told him he was going to be a grandfather. He practically raised me after my father was killed. I felt he has a right to know. I told him he could come here in the spring and meet his grandchild, but there would be rules, and if he accepted those rules, then let me know and I will purchase a round trip train ticket for him.” Teresa explained. “ He wrote back and accepted. In fact, Murdoch will be arriving by train on Saturday. He said in his response that he was bringing something specifically for you. What that is I do not know.”
Johnny stood up and walked over to the backdoor and looked out at the beautiful rose garden he had built for Teresa.
“ Are you alright Johnny?” Scott asked as he watched his brother walk out the back door.
“ Would you mind watching Jesse for me?” Teresa asked.
Johnny walked out to the rose garden and looked at the colors in the sky as the sun set in the west. He could hear the light footsteps coming up behind him, and knew it was Teresa. “ I don’t know if I can face him again.”
“ I can understand that. I’m sorry Johnny. When I wrote to him, it was before anything happened between us.” Teresa said.
“ I imagine he’ll have plenty to say about that. Probably tell you he knew I was no good for you.” Johnny said.
“ He’s not going to know about that. It’s none of his business.” Teresa responded.
“ He’s going to know if he stays here.” Johnny said as he started to walk into the darkness more.
“ He won’t if you are staying in the house.” Teresa said as she walked up behind him.
“ I’ll sleep on the floor at the end of the bed so I’m not tempted to touch you.” Johnny said s he wrapped his arms around himself.
“ Johnny, you don’t have to sleep on the floor.” Teresa said as she put a hand on his right shoulder and felt him trembling. “ Look at me.”
Johnny turned and faced her. The sky dancing in her brown eyes. “ I do love you.”
“ I have never stopped loving you.” Teresa responded.
“ I can’t believe I was so foolish, and do what I did to you.” he said.
“ I have a lot of questions for you Johnny. Questions I realized I need answers too from you.” she said. “ Lets go back in the house and we can talk.”
Johnny stood there watching Teresa walking away. “ Are you sure you want too?” he asked.
Teresa stopped walking and turned to face him.“ I’m sure.” she said as she reached for his hand and walked back to the house.
“ You alright Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, I just……” Johnny said.
“ It’s alright, you don’t have to explain anything to me. You have every right to have mixed feelings about seeing our father again. I do, and I’m sure Teresa does.” Scott said. “ It’s getting late, I’m going to turn in. I think you two need to be alone, and talk. Good night.” Scott said as he stood up and headed toward the stairs.
“ Good night Scott.” Teresa said.
“ Night brother.” Johnny said as he watched his brother walk upstairs, and heard the bedroom door open, then close.
Teresa took Johnny’s hand and led him into the bedroom.
“ Johnny, I need to know something I would like an honest answer too.” Teresa said as she started to undress.
“ What are you doing?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m getting ready for bed.” Teresa responded.
“ Are you sure?” Johnny asked again as he walked over and sat down on the bed, looking down at his son sound asleep in the bassinet.
“ When we made love, were there things you wanted to do to me, but didn’t because it was rough?” Teresa asked as she unbuttoned her dress and pulled it up over her head.
“ Why do you ask that?” Johnny asked.
“ Because Dora said you were rough with her. That you had her on her hands and knees, and were behind her. That you grabbed her hair and pulled her head back, and took her breath away as you aggressively kissed her. That what you did to her that night, you can’t do to me.” Teresa responded.
“ Jesus Teresa, I wish you had never heard that.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to the window.
“ I’m not trying to fight with you Johnny. I’m your wife, I want to make you happy. If you want our marriage to work, then you have got to tell me what you want, and if you want to be aggressive, then do it. If I don;t like it, I will tell you. If you want me to do something to you, tell me.” Teresa said firmly as she walked to the foot of the bed and stopped.
Johnny turned around and looked at Teresa standing at the foot of the bed. He could see she was being serious. Walking over to her, he grabbed her face and claimed her mouth with hunger before pushing her back onto the bed. “ Because some women I learned like it rough, and it excites me more doing it.”
Scott came downstairs the next morning and found Teresa sitting alone in the kitchen with a cup of coffee.
“ You alright?” Scott asked as he walked over and poured a cup of coffee.
Teresa nodded as she wiped at the tears that had been falling.
“ What’s wrong? You’re crying. Did Johnny do something to hurt you last night?” Scott asked as he sat down across from her.
“ No, last night I learned some things about Johnny he had never told me. Things a wife should know, or at least ask.” she said as she dried her tears.
“ You can tell me it’s none of my business, but why do I have a feeling this has to do with what you heard Dora say that Johnny did to her?” Scott asked.
Teresa just nodded as she stood up and walked over to the stove. “ What happened last night I think brought us closer together Scott. Some of what he said to me, really made me understand him better. Does that make any sense?”
“ Yes it does. We both know Johnny’s life has been harsh. What Luke said Johnny said to him that day on the train is proof he’s hurting. Some from his childhood, some from what he did to Billy Thompson that day, and what happened between the two of you. I feel all you can do is help him deal with his ghost, and the pain he still has the best way you can.” Scott suggested. “ I think I will go start feeding the stock now. Something tells me my brother won’t be waking up for a while. ” Scott said with a smile as he stood up and walked to the back door. “ Oh, speaking from something I learned about Johnny, don’t pressure him to talk. You do and he will shut down. A good sign of him being uncomfortable talking about his past, he’ll wrap his arms around himself and drop his head a little.”
“ I’ve seen him do that before. Several times I walked into the grand room and Johnny would be standing like that while Murdoch yelled at him for something. Thanks Scott.” Teresa said as she headed to the bedroom.
Murdoch stepped off the train in Denver and looked west to the snow capped mountains.
“ We’ll be here about an hour, Mister Lancer if you would like to get a good hot meal, the hotel across the way serves good food.” the conductor said.
“ Thank you. About what time you thing we will arrive in Dodge City?” Murdoch asked.
“ We should pull in there around noon.” the man responded.
“ Thank you.” Murdoch said before heading to the hotel.
“ Murdoch Lancer.” a man called out.
Murdoch looked and seen Lawrence Ross, the President of the Cattleman’s Association walking toward him. “ Lawrence.”
“ I’m here for a meeting with some ranchers from Colorado, Wyoming, and Kansas.” Lawrence responded.
“ I seen where you got it so Lancer and the smaller ranchers can no longer sell our cattle in Stockton.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ The feed yard was built for the members. Since Lancer and those smaller ranchers refuse to agree to the price and rules. I did what I had to do for the other ranchers.” Lawrence responded.
“ You do realize those smaller ranchers can’t afford to pay for feed for the cattle they sell?” Murdoch asked.
“ Then they shouldn’t be ranchers.” Lawrence responded.
“ It was those small ranchers who helped get you voted as the president. What you have done may have cost them what some have spent years building.”
“ That is of no concern of mine. If a ranch is not a member of the C.C.G.A. Their cattle will no longer be shipped from the Stockton yards, or sell their cattle in California. That includes Lancer.”
“ If you think you or anyone else can stop me from selling Lancer cattle, you are sorely mistaken. California is a free state Lawrence, and I will sell my cattle when the time comes, and I will fight any man who tries to stop me.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Are you prepared to go against the army Murdoch?” Lawrence asked. “ You don;t have that half-breed killer with you anymore, so your threats mean nothing to me.”
Murdoch lashed out and hit Lawrence hard in the mouth. “ Don’t you ever speak of my son like that again.” he said before walking away.
Scott walked into the house and found Teresa in the kitchen cutting up carrots for the stew.
“ We have a problem.” Scott said.
“ What’s wrong?” she asked.
“ Where’s Johnny?” he asked.
“ He’s out in the rose garden with Jesse.” Teresa responded.
Scott walked out and asked Johnny to come inside.
“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked.
“ I got a letter from my grandfather. It would seem he is coming here for a visit.” Scott said.
“ Coming here, when?” Teresa asked.
“ He’ll be here Monday.” Scott responded.
“ Murdoch will be arriving around noon tomorrow.” Teresa said.
“ Your grandfather doesn’t like me Scott.” Johnny said.
“ He doesn’t know you.” Scott responded. “ Johnny, I’m not going to allow my grandfather to say anything that upsets you or Teresa. There’s been trouble between him and Murdoch ever since he married my mother and took her to California.”
“ You going to ride in with me to pick up Murdoch?” Scott asked Johnny.
“ Nope.” Johnny responded as he stood up. “ I have horses to start working.”
“ Okay, I can respect that. I know this isn’t going to be easy for you seeing him again considering what happened the last time you two seen each. Do you need anything picked up while I’m in town?” Scott responded.
“ We could use some flour, coffee, and sugar.” Teresa said.
“ I need you to pick up hundred pounds of grain and place an order for lumber so we can start putting the sides up on the new barn.. I also need you to put in an order for that round pen. I have the dimensions drawn up and how much lumber it should take for it.” Johnny said as he went into the living-room and got a piece of paper off his desk, and came back, handing it to Scott.
“ I’ll place the order for you.” Scott said. “ I’ll see you three this afternoon.” Scott said as he kissed Jesse on the forehead before heading toward the front door.
Teresa waited until she heard Scott leave in the wagon. “ You want to tell me what’s wrong?” she asked.
“ Not really.” Johnny responded.
“ Okay.” Teresa said. “ Johnny, I didn’t do this to cause you pain and discomfort in your own home. I’m sorry. I just wanted Murdoch to have with our son, what he didn’t get to have with you.” she explained.
Johnny walked over to her. “ I know. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try Teresa.” he said before kissing her. “ I’ll see you for lunch.”
Scott stopped the wagon in front of the train depot and climber down as the train pulled into the station. Walking over to the platform as his father stepped off the train.
“ Hello sir.” Scott said as he extended his hand to shake.
“ Hello son.” Murdoch responded as he shook his sons hand.
“ I have to pick up some supplies, and place an order for the ranch at the lumberyard if you’re ready.” Scott said.
“ I just need to get what I brought for Johnny.” Murdoch said as they walked to the wagon, and he put his carpetbag and saddlebags in.
“ Where do we need to go?” Scott asked.
“ They’re being unloaded now.” Murdoch said as he started toward the livestock car.
Scott looked and couldn’t believe what he seen, not one, but two beautiful golden palomino’s being led down the ramp.
“ Are you Murdoch Lancer, the owner of these two good looking horses.” the stockyard manager asked.
“ Yes I am.” Murdoch said as he took the lead ropes from the man.
“ Hey Scott, What brings you into town?.” Sheriff Stiles said as he walked over.
“ Sheriff, I would like to introduce you to me and Johnny’s father, Murdoch Lancer.” Scott said.
“ Mister Lancer, it’s a pleasure.” James said.
“ So when is the big day?” Scott asked.
“ Next month. I think Karen plans on going out to your place to talk to Teresa about helping her with the wedding reception after.” the sheriff responded.
“ Alright. I’ll let Teresa know.” Scott said.
“ Those are two good looking horses Mister Lancer.” the sheriff said.
“ Thank you. They’re a gift for Johnny. They’re Capanero De Palomino’s the finest horse in the San Joaquin valley.” Murdoch responded.
“ I heard Johnny brought in a hundred head a week or so back. Old man Thompson seen him driving them at the edge of his property.” the sheriff said.
“ Yeah he got some good looking young fillies from Wyoming and Montana.” Scott said. He hoped his father wouldn’t ask questions.
“ Why don’t you come out with Karen, Sunday for supper?” Scott asked as he climbed up in the wagon.
“ To eat Teresa’s good cooking, you bet we will be there. Besides, I want o see how big that baby is now.” the sheriff said before walking away.
“ Jesse down for his nap?” Johnny asked as he walked into the living-room.
“ Yes he is.” Teresa responded as she walked over and started touching him.
“ What are you doing?” Johnny asked as he stood there.
“ I would think that is pretty obvious.” she said as she let her hands go where she wanted.
Johnny smiled. “ Here?” he asked.
“ Right here, right now, before they get back.” Teresa responded. “ You didn’t make love to me this morning. A wife has needs that only her husband can fill.”
“ Oh I’m going to fill you.” Johnny said as he started responding to her touch.
“ How is he?” Murdoch asked as they headed toward the ranch.
“ He’s alright considering what you did to him.” Scott responded. “ Don’t expect him to be happy to see you. He didn’t know until a couple days ago you were coming here.”
“ I know what I said and did was wrong Scott. All I can do is hope you, Teresa, and Johnny can forgive me. I was a fool and it cost me. Three of the most important things in my life. More important than the ranch.” Murdoch responded.
“ It’s not me who needs to forgive you. Johnny is still struggling with that night okay. What you said to him still haunts him, and probably will for a long time to come. You so much as lose your temper or say anything inappropriate to him while you are here, you will answer to me. I won;t have my brother hurt like that ever again. Especially by his own father.” Scott said firmly.
“ I know I made a mistake son. I’m here to try and make right what I made wrong between us.” Murdoch said.
“ If you had just listened or asked instead of having them spied on like you did, you would have learned how much they are in love. You should have gave them a chance sir. I know Teresa is like a daughter to you, or she was, but she wasn’t your flesh and blood, Johnny was. You took his mother to bed out of wedlock and then married her three months after. Tell me, was that so you wouldn’t have a bastard child running around to embarrass you and your Lancer name?” Scott demanded.
“ I most certainly did not marry Maria for that reason. I would have married her, pregnant or not son. After your mother died, I got lonely.” Murdoch said, keeping his temper in check. He knew this could happen, he just thought this anger and questions would come from Johnny, and not Scott.
“ Sounds to me like what you did with his mother was okay, but it wasn’t okay for Johnny to do. To me that’s calling the kettle black sir.” Scott said.
“ Do you think your brother will like the two horses I brought him?” Murdoch asked.
“ I do. They’re beautiful animals.” Scott said.
“ I figured with Barranca and this stallion, he could get some good horses.” Murdoch explained.
“ There’s something you need to know. Seeing these two horses might upset Johnny. When he was in Montana picking up some of the horses we have, he was attacked by a grizzle bear, Barranca gave his life saving Johnny’s.” Scott explained.
“ Oh my god. I didn’t know son. He wasn’t hurt was he?” Murdoch asked with concern.
“ Yes he was. He spent a considerable amount of time being nursed back to health by the Nez Perce Indians.” Scott said.
“ Is that why he wasn’t here for his sons birth?” Murdoch asked.
“ What makes you think he wasn’t here for the birth of his son?” Scott asked.
“ You told the sheriff in town the horses came from Montana and Wyoming, that he was attacked by a grizzly.” Murdoch responded.
“ It’s not for me to say, and I don;t think you need to be asking either Johnny or Teresa about it.” Scott said firmly as he stopped the wagon outside the gates to the ranch.
Murdoch looked at the sign hanging from the fence. “ J & S Quarter Horse Ranch. Johnny Madrid and Scott Garrett owners.” he read aloud.
“ As you can see by the name, neither me nor Johnny use Lancer as our last name.” Scott said.
“ Has he been at peace here?” Murdoch asked as Scott started the wagon moving again. A part of him hurting that both his sons wanted nothing to do with the Lancer name.
“ If you mean has he been called out, they know who he is and don’t care.” Scott said as they topped the small hill and stopped. “ It has two bedrooms downstairs and four upstairs. Johnny got it for a real good price. “ It’s only three hundred acres, but it has good grazing and water year around.”
“ Three hundred acres sounds good.” Murdoch said.
“ There’s something you need to know, I just learned of yesterday. My grandfather will be here in two days. It would seem he has chosen to come visit me and see my nephew.” Scott said as they pulled up in front of the house.
“ Harlan Garrett is coming here. Son, he hates your brother. He never liked me marrying your mother and taking her to California, but when I married Maria, he really hated me. He doesn’t like Johnny because he’s……..”
“ My grandfather will be warned about how he speaks about Johnny, or anyone else in the house. Both of you will get along, or you will find yourself staying in town, or going back home.” Scott said before getting down from the wagon.
Murdoch climbed down and looked around. Two big barns stood, and another started.
“ Murdoch.” Teresa said as she walked out carrying Jesse.
Murdoch turned and smiled as he seen Teresa walking toward him carrying his first born grandchild. Reaching out, he hugged Teresa. “ Oh I missed you.” he said with a quiver to his voice.
“ I missed you too.” Teresa said as she hugged him back. “ Would you like to to hold your grandson?”
“ You bet I would.” Murdoch said as Teresa handed him the baby.
“ This is Jesse Alexander Madrid.” Teresa said.
“ Hello Jesse Alexander Madrid. I’m your grandfather.” Murdoch said with a smile. “ Teresa, he’s beautiful. All the way here on the train, I kept wondering if you had a boy or a girl.”
“ He was born at twelve thirty six in the afternoon on December 23rd.” Teresa said.
“ What she’s not telling you is that little man was in a hurry to be born. From the time her labor pains started to me getting the doctor back here, he was born.” Scott added as he unloaded his fathers luggage and started toward the house with it.
“ He has the same birthday as his father.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes he does.” Teresa said as they started walking toward the house.
“ I have your supplies you asked for Teresa.” Scott said as he came back outside and met them.
“ Shall we go in the house.” Teresa suggested.
“ Where’s Johnny? I want to give him these two horses I brought for him.” Murdoch said.
“ He’s working in the barn I believe.” Teresa said. “ Murdoch, they’re beautiful. I’m sure he will love them.”
“ Scott told me about Barranca. I don;t want to upset him. I didn’t know. It’s just that when you said in your letter that he had started his horse ranch, I thought I would bring these two as a gift to help him start his ranch.” Murdoch said.
“ I don’t know how he will take it. Why don’t you take them to the barn and let him decide.” Teresa suggested.
“ I placed the order for you. He said it should be ready in a week.” Scott said as he stopped the wagon inside the barn, and got down.
“ Thanks brother.” Johnny said as he grabbed a sack and carried it into the barn. “ You working tonight?”
“ No, tomorrow. You need to go outside.” Scott said as he wiped the sweat from his brow.
“ I have work to do. I’ll see him tonight at supper.” Johnny said.
“ Please. Go outside.” Scott pleaded.
Johnny took his gloves off and lay them on the back of the wagon before heading toward the barn doors. Walking outside he was surprised to see his father standing there holding the lead ropes to two palomino’s.
“ Hello son. Scott told me about Barranca. I’m sorry. I brought this stallion and mare for you. She is from the herd Barranca was from. He’s from the Black Mesa herd. I thought you might like them.” Murdoch said.
Johnny walked over and started looking the stallion and mare over. “ They look good. Must have cost you plenty to bring them all this way by train?” Johnny said as he checked their teeth.
“ The money doesn’t matter. I wanted you to have them son.” Murdoch responded.
“ He’s about five and she’s maybe two.” Johnny said as he started running a hand over the stallion, checking over every inch of the horse.
“ I’ll understand if you don’t want them.” Murdoch said.
“ He’ll be a good breeder. He’s got the right size I’m wanting to breed.” Johnny said as he started checking the filly. “ She won’t be able to breed for a couple years.” Johnny said. “ I won’t bred a filly that’s less than four. She’s still growing, and filling out.”
“ I’m glad you like them son.” Murdoch said.
Johnny swallowed the anger that wanted to explode every time he heard his father call him his son. He didn’t know how long he would be able to stave off that anger. “ Scott, put the filly in the stall across from Rose, and give her some hay and grain. I’ll put this guy in that pen we just finished the other day, so he’s away from the others.” Johnny said as he took the lead and walked the stallion around to the back of the barn.
“ You remember Rose?” Scott asked.
“ If you mean the horse Johnny was training for Teresa, yes, I remember her.” Murdoch responded.
“ She has a beautiful colt from Barranca.” Scott said as he led the filly into the stall and removed her halter.
Murdoch walked over and looked at Rose and the colt at her side. “ His color is beautiful.”
“ Johnny is hoping to get more of that color.” Scott said as he put some feed in the stall and checked the water bucket.
“ You want me to take food to the stallion?” Scott asked Johnny.
“ No, I got it. Go ahead and show him around if you want. I need to get back to work.” Johnny responded.
Scott started to say something about his brother being rude, but decided not to. “ We have plenty of time to show you around. I believe Teresa is expecting us in the house.”
Teresa sat holding Jesse when she heard the front door open. “ Sounds like your uncle Scott and grandpa just came in.” she said as she stood up. “ You are getting so big.”
“ Yes he is.” Scott said as he walked into the kitchen, followed by Murdoch.
“ Come here little man. Grandpa has a lot of catching up to do.” Murdoch said as he took Jesse from Teresa.
“ How’d it go?” Teresa asked as she got the pot of coffee, and started pouring three cups.
“ It went as well as expected I guess.” Murdoch responded.
“ Actually, I wanted to punch Johnny in the mouth for being rude.” Scott said as he sat down.
“ It’s alright son. He has every right to be angry with me. What I said to him the last time I seen him should have never been said.” Murdoch said.
“ Words can hurt a person worse than being beaten.” Scott said.
“ What are your intentions?” Teresa asked.
“ My intentions are to try and repair the damage I caused between the four of us. Especially between me and Johnny.” Murdoch responded.
“ How long before you have to get back to Lancer?” Teresa asked.
“ Two weeks if that’s okay?” Murdoch asked.
“ That’s fine. How’s Maria?” Teresa asked.
“ Maria and Cipriano left Lancer shortly after I lost you three.” Murdoch responded. “ They went back to Mexico.”
“ Well, I put your bags in the bedroom upstairs next to mine.” Scott said.
“ Supper won’t be ready for a couple hours if you want to go freshen up and rest. I don’t imagine you got a lot of sleep on the train.”
“ Actually I am a little tired.” Murdoch said as he stood up and handed Jesse back to Teresa.
“ I’ll show you to your room sir.” Scott said as he stood up.
“ Teresa, I almost forgot how good a cook you are. Supper was very good. Thank you.” Murdoch said.
“ You’re welcome.” Teresa said as she stood up and started clearing the table.
“ Son, I have something I would like to ask you, if I may?” Murdoch said. “ I brought a small trunk with me. It has…….It has things in it from when you were a baby before your mother took you from me. I would like you and my grandson to have those things if it’s alright?” Murdoch asked with emotion.
Johnny glanced at Teresa.
“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Don’t call me that, don’t call me your son. You made it pretty damn clear that night at Lancer that I’m not.” Johnny snapped.
“ You’re out of line brother.” Scott said firmly. “ Your rudeness is not right. The two of you may have problems you need to work past so you can get on with your life as father and son. He came all this way to try and make things right. Why don’t you at least try and meet him halfway instead of being rude and sarcastic?” Scott demanded.
“ No Scott, he has every right to be mad at me. What I did, what I said to him that night, I wish to god I could take back. After I lost the three of you. What I did wrong that night really sank in when Maria and Cipriano left. I also lost Sam and Aggie as friends.” Murdoch cut in. “ Johnny, if I could take it back, I would, but I can’t. Like Scott said, all we can do is try and move on. Try and put it behind us. Maybe start over. I’ll leave it up to you.”
Johnny stood up and went to the back door, opened it, and stood there a few seconds before he let out a sigh and walked outside, closing the door behind him.
“ I’m sorry Teresa. I didn’t mean to upset him.” Murdoch said.
“ It’s alright. He has to put this behind him.” Teresa said. “ When me and Scott found him finally, he was near death from being ambushed by a ranchers son and a hand. I think he might still be dealing with that also.”
“ That and what Luke said he did to Billy Thompson on the train.” Scott added. “ He beat Billy while he was shackled. Luke said he realized what he was doing and got angry with himself. When he got back, he turned in his badge.”
“ Turned in his badge?” Murdoch asked, feeling there was more.
“ Johnny killed three men and severely crippled another in one week. Two of the men confronted him in Bazine, when him and Luke were leaving. Shorty Colbert called Johnny out. He tried not to do it, but Luke said Shorty drew his gun anyway. Johnny hit him in the right shoulder. I guess after that, Shorty still tried to kill him, and Johnny shot him in his upper right arm, shattering the bone so bad, his rm had to be amputated.” Scott explained. “ The other man Jim Miller tried to ambush Johnny from the second floor window of the hotel. Luke said johnny crouched, turned and fired, hitting the man in the heart with one shot. The third man he killed a couple days later was a man trying to free Billy Thompson when the train stopped in Salina. He was the other man who ambushed him that night here in Dodge City. A man named Sam Brown. When Nick Boswell took the deputy at gunpoint, Sam tried to take the rifle from Johnny and it discharged, killing him. Luke killed Nick before he could kill the deputy.”
Teresa closed her eyes as the words she heard Dora say about Johnny that night came back to haunt her. Never did she imagine that Johnny having to kill a man, let alone three in a week. Three men he tried to talk out of having to kill. Three more dead men to haunt her husband.
“ Teresa, are you alright?” Scott asked.
“ It didn’t dawn on me that those men he had to kill, would still be bothering him al this time later.” she responded.
“ I think Johnny has ghost of the men he’s killed from long ago still haunting him.” Murdoch said.
“ You taking away the security Johnny had at Lancer, it would seem has helped to resurface some of those ghost.” Scott said as the back door opened and Johnny walked back inside.
“ Lets get one thing straight old man. Like it or not, I’m your son. If I could choose someone else’ blood to run through my veins, I would, but I can’t. Right now seeing you again makes me sick to my stomach. You took everything away from me that night you sonofabitch.”
“ Johnny!” Scott yelled. “ You may be made at our father, but you have no call to speak to him like that.”
“ Shut up Scott. This is between me and him.” Johnny ordered. “ All I ever wanted was a chance at a life where I didn’t have to live day to day wondering if I was going to wake up the next morning. I had that at Lancer until you took it away from me. I know you got my mother pregnant with me and then married her three months after to protect your good image and precious Lancer name. I didn’t plan on falling in love with Teresa, but I did. I wanted to talk to you about it, but you wouldn’t let me. Instead you had us spied on by Clay and attacked me when I came home. You attacked your own son just for falling in love.” Johnny spat before walking over and taking Jesse, and heading to his bedroom.
Murdoch sat there somewhat shocked at the verbal attack he just received.
“ Murdoch, I’m sorry Johnny lashed out at you like that.” Teresa said.
“ No, I deserved it. If him lashing out at me like that helps him get past what happened, then let him. Everything said was the truth. I think what hurts the most is what he said about my blood running through his veins. I knew he was mad at me, I just never imagined he hated me that much.” Murdoch said.
“ He has a lot of anger toward you. Anger that he’s kept inside for almost three years now sir.” Scott said.
“ Is he going to be alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ He will be. Holding Jesse seems to calm him down a lot.” Teresa said. “ I’ll give him some time and then go check on him.”
Johnny sat in the bed holding Jesse tightly in his arms as he tried to stop shaking. “ Jesse, I promise you I will never speak to you like my father did me three years ago. I want you to know your grandfather, but I don’t know if I can ever forgive him for that night. I want to, but I don’t know if I can. No son should ever be talked to like he did me that night, and it was all because I fell in love with your mother.” Johnny said. “ What I have here with your mother and uncle is what I wanted at Lancer, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. At least I had a good three years of it though.” he said as he stood up and walked to the door, and opened it. “ I need to go apologize for what I just said to my father Jesse. It was wrong, and I need to make it right.” he said as he walked back into the kitchen.
“ Are you alright?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny handed Jesse to Teresa. “ Me and you need to take a walk.” he said.
Murdoch stood up. “ Alright. Teresa, save me a piece of that apple pie?”
“ Of course.” Teresa said as she walked over to Johnny. “ I love you.” she said before giving him a kiss.
“ I love you too. I’ll be alright. We need to talk. I’m sorry for cussing in your presence earlier.” Johnny responded.
“ That’s alright. Just try to fix this between you two, for me, but mainly for you.” Teresa said.
“ Good morning.” Teresa said as Johnny walked into the kitchen.
Johnny walked over and wrapped his arms around her as he kissed her. “ I didn’t really care for waking up to you not being there next to me.”
“ Jesse woke up early, so I thought I would let you sleep a little.” Teresa said.
“ You owe me double tomorrow morning then.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a cup of coffee. “ I noticed the wood is getting low, so I’m going to start on that huge tree that came down last year. The one down by the river. It’s enough wood to last us until next summer.”
“ That sounds like a lot of hard work.” Teresa said.
“ Yeah, I figure it will take me and Scott all summer to get it all cut up and stacked.” he responded as he sat down.
“ Did you two make any headway in your talk?” Teresa asked as she poured a cup of coffee and sat down.
“ Some.” Johnny said. “ I’m sorry about last night. I never meant to come back in and be so angry.” Johnny said as he adjusted Jesse on his lap.
“ Why don’t you take Murdoch for a ride around the ranch? Let him see what you have. Tell him about your plans for the type of horse you are striving to breed.” Teresa suggested.
“ I need to clear that tree that’s down and get it cut up for firewood this winter.” Johnny said as Murdoch walked into the kitchen with Scott.
“ Morning Johnny, Teresa, and there’s my grandson.” Murdoch said.
“ I talked to James yesterday.” Scott said as he sat down with a cup of coffee. “ I invited them out to supper today. “ He said Karen needs to talk to you about something.”
“ They’re coming here today?” Teresa asked.
“ This afternoon they will be here. It slipped my mind yesterday. I’m sorry.” Scott responded.
“ No, it’s okay. I was planning on a big Sunday dinner anyways.” Teresa said.
“ I couldn’t help but notice when coming in on the train yesterday there are a lot of cattle.” Murdoch said.
“ Dodge City sees half a million cattle come in every year. About five thousand cowboys eager to spend their money and have some fun after three months on the trail.” Scott said.
“ The pay is really good. Hundred dollars a month, plus two dollars and fifty cents for every arrest.” Johnny said. “ I was clearing a thousand dollars a month, sometimes more.”
“ The herd will start coming in about mid June. I work when the sheriff needs me too during the slow months.” Scott said.
“ A thousand dollars……..That’s a lot of money.” Murdoch said.
“ It is. I did it for almost two years. That’s how I could buy this place. I was going to go to Montana, but……..”
“ But he decided to stay here because I was pregnant with Jesse and didn’t really want to travel that far pregnant or with a baby. So Johnny bought this place to start his dream.” Teresa said.
“ We need to start cutting up that huge tree that’s down by the river sometime this week. I figure it will take us most of the summer to get it all cut up for firewood.” We’ll need that wood for this winter.” Johnny said.
“ That tree is big enough it will last us until next year on wood.” Scott responded. “ I have to pick up grandfather tomorrow.” he asked.
“ That’s fine.” Johnny responded. “ I just don’t want him mad that you are working while he’s here is all.”
“ This is a working ranch. If my grandfather has a problem with that Johnny, he can go back to Boston. I didn’t invite him. He’s coming here with a last minutes notice.” Scott said.
“ I have a request for when Scott’s grandfather gets here. He doesn’t know you are here. I want no fighting between the two of you when he’s here.” Teresa said as she set a platter full of bacon, eggs and potatoes on the table.
“ I know Harlan still resents me for marrying his daughter and taking her to California. My concern is how he will be toward Johnny.” Murdoch responded.
“ Johnny, why?” she asked.
“ Because I married your mother. He disapproved of Scott having a…….”
“ Half-breed brother.” Johnny cut in.
“ Please don’t say that Johnny.” Scott asked. “ You are not a half-breed. You are my brother, and I will not allow him to speak in a derogatory manner about you.”
“ What does derogatory mean?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m sorry. It’s another word for disrespectful.” Scott responded.
“ Look, I’ve heard it all before brother. He can’t say anything to bother me.” Johnny said.
“ That may be Johnny, but I will not allow him to speak to you like that.” Scott said as he stood up. “ Did you show Murdoch the beautiful gift you brought me?”
“ Nope.” Johnny said. “ Why don’t you go show him around, and start feeding. I have something I want to discuss with Teresa.”
“ Okay, shall we head out?” Scott asked.
“ Can I take my grandson with us?” Murdoch asked.
“ Absolutely.” Teresa responded. “ Just let me change his diaper and he will be ready to go.”
“ I couldn’t help but notice your water-closet inside. I imagine on cold winters that comes in handy instead of going outside to use the outhouse?” Murdoch asked.
“ It sure does. The previous owner had all that done when he lived here.” Johnny said. “ I guess it hasn’t made it to California yet.”
“ No, but I’ll be doing that I think when I get back. Maybe one of the downstairs bedrooms.” Murdoch said as Teresa walked out with Jesse.
“ He’s all yours grandpa.” she said as she handed Jesse off to him.
“ I guess we will see you in a bit brother.” Scott said as he opened the front door.
Johnny watched them walk toward the barn before going into the kitchen and grabbing Teresa by the hand, and taking her to their bedroom.
“ Johnny, I need to start the food for today. James and Karen are coming this afternoon remember?” Teresa said as she went into the bedroom with Johnny.
“ You can after.” Johnny said as he closed the door.
“ She’s beautiful son.” Murdoch said as he looked at the Appaloosa his brother got him. “ Her color is nice.”
“ Johnny had one condition when he gave her to me. He wants the first colt she has.” Scott said.
“ What type of horse is he trying to breed son?” Murdoch asked.
“ He wants a horse with more muscle in the rump, a deep chest, and thick neck. He said a horse like that will make a better cow horse.” Scott explained.
“ So about the size of what I brought.” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. Those fillies in the paddock are the ranches future. A future I really want Johnny to succeed in. He’s also going to train horses for others.” Scott added.
“ Your brother does have a gift with horses. He knows good horse flesh.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes he does.” Scott said as Johnny walked up to them.
“ Feel like taking a ride around the ranch?” Johnny asked.
“ You two go ahead. I’ll take Jesse back in the house.” Scott said.
“ The river run like that Year around.” Murdoch asked.
“ Pretty much. They call it the Arkansas. I’ve got two good sized ponds also.” Johnny responded.
“ Can I ask why the previous owner lost this place son…..Johnny?” Murdoch asked.
“ The bank said he tried to farm it and failed because of all the rocks. To hard on a plow.”
“ I see he used them for fence-post though.” Murdoch said.
“ Yeah, Scott said it’s called Limestone. No nails required. I have a couple places I need to sink wooden fence-post, but most all the property has Limestone post. They can be heavy to move. I have a pile behind the house I want to build a nice bench for Teresa in her rose garden out of in the fall.” Johnny explained.
“ You have a really nice place Johnny. I’m proud of you for what you’ve done and plan to do in the future. I wish you the best in succeeding in it. You’ve always been good with horses.” Murdoch said.
Johnny bowed his head, a little embarrassed at the compliment his father just gave him. “ Ten years from now, if I’m still alive, I want my horses to be known.”
“ I have no doubt you will John.” Murdoch said. “ Do you plan on trying to grow any of your own feed for the horses?”
“ I only have three hundred acres. The grass is really rich, so I figured on using that as feed in the winter mixed with alfalfa and grain. I’ll split it off into sections and cut it when it’s tall enough, and then let the horses graze after it’s cut. I think I can get enough every season to get me through the winter feeding them.” Johnny explained.
Murdoch stood there looking around, impressed with what he was hearing his son say. “ I never really gave you a chance at Lancer to suggest things like what you just said did I?”
“ No, but you raise cattle so doing what I plan to do would be harder with cows than with horses.” Johnny responded. “ Besides I’ll only have a hundred head of horses at a time. So unless you’ve changed, Lancer runs ten thousand head and has a hundred thousand acres.”
“ I don’t have that many cattle now.” Murdoch said as he mounted back up.
Johnny swung p in the saddle. “ Be about lunch time when we get back. Care to talk about what’s going on as we ride back? I want to go over and check that tree I want to start cutting up for firewood.”
“ I would love to talk to you about it. But just so you know, I’m not going to tell you to try and have you come back to Lancer. This problem is mine.”
“ Hello Karen.” Teresa said as she walked out with Jesse in her arms to greet her friend.
“ Don’t tell me that’s the baby?” Karen asked as she got down from the buggy. “ My he’s getting so big.”
“ He takes after his father on appetite.” Teresa responded. “ Hello James.”
“ Teresa. Johnny out working?” he asked.
“ No, he went for a ride around the ranch with Murdoch to show him around. They left this morning, Scott said. He’s out behind the barn with the horse Johnny gave him. Come on inside. I have fresh lemonade and cookies made.” Teresa responded.
“ Looks like Johnny is building this place up.” James said.
“ He’s trying. The rest of the lumber will be here next week to finish the other barn.” Teresa said.
“ Well I will see you ladies in a bit.” James said before heading toward the barn.
“ Oh the furniture you ordered looks wonderful Teresa.” Karen said as they walked into the house. “ Did Johnny like the desk you got him?” Karen asked.
“ Yes he did. He was shocked when he seen it.” Teresa responded.
“ When did he get back?” Karen asked.
“ About two weeks ago. He brought back a hundred head of young horses from Montana and Wyoming. One he brought Scott is so beautiful. You’ll have to go see her before you leave.” she said.
“ How are things between the two of you now?” Karen asked.
“ They’re good. We do a lot of talking. Getting him to talk about his past or what’s bothering him is hard. He keeps everything inside.” Teresa said. “ Murdoch got here yesterday. Last night Johnny got so angry with him. After a while they went for a walk, and did some serious talking. They’ve been better today.”
“ James said he met him in town. Said he wanted to hit the man in the mouth for what he did to Johnny.” Karen said.
“ Scott’s grandfather will be arriving from Boston tomorrow morning.”
“ Oh my, you’ll have a full house.”
“ Murdoch and Harlan Garrett I’m afraid don’t get along. We are all worried about how the man will be toward Johnny.”
“ Why?” Karen asked.
“ He never forgave Murdoch for marrying his only daughter and taking her from Boston to California. He blames him for her dying while giving birth to Scott.” Teresa said.
“ I can’t believe it’s been almost six months since this little man was born.” Karen said.
“ I know. I haven’t been to town since I had him.” Teresa said. “ So what brings you out here?”
“ I wanted to see you and to tell you that me and James got married Friday.” Karen responded.
“ You did. Oh Karen that’s wonderful. It;s about time he asked you.” Teresa said.
“ I know. I was beginning to think he would never ask me.” Karen responded.
James walked through the barn and found Scott in the back with a beautiful buckskin colored horse with white spots on her butt.
“ What a beautiful horse Scott.” James said as he walked over to the fence.
“ Thank you. Johnny got her for me when he was in Western Montana.” Scott said.
“ You need to watch who you talk to brother.” Johnny said as he rode up and dismounted.
“ Watch it kid or I’ll throw your sorry ass in jail for vagrancy.” James said with a smile as the two shook hands.
“ How the hell you been?” Johnny asked.
“ Good, real good. You?”
“ Working on this place every day from sunup to sundown.” Johnny responded.
“ Mister Lancer.” James said as Murdoch dismounted.
“ Sheriff.” Murdoch said.
“ So what brings you out here?” Johnny asked.
“ I thought I would come see how you’re doing, and to tell you I finally bit the bullet. Me and Karen got married Friday.”
“ I was beginning to think you would never ask her. Karen is a good woman. The two of you deserve each other. Congratulations.” Johnny said.
“ Yeah she is. So show me these horses you brought in and what your plans are.”
“ I’ll take care of your horse Johnny.” Murdoch said as he took the reins and led them into the barn.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he started to walk toward the pasture he had the horses in.
“ You know, the other day when I met your old man, I wanted to bust him in the mouth for what he’s put you through.” James said.
“ We came to blows last night.” Johnny said. “ I exploded on him and let out a lot of anger. James, I said things to him last night that a son should never say to their father.”
“ Was it things he deserved to hear?”
“ Yeah it was. I told him I hated having his blood running through my veins. That if I could change that I would.” Johnny said.
“ Wow. I know you’ve had some anger inside you toward him. I had no idea it was that bad buddy. If you don;t mind my asking, what set it off?”
“ He kept calling me son and said he brought a chest of things I had as a baby before my mother took me away from him. He asked if Jesse could have them. I don;t have a problem with that. The problem was him calling me his son. The night we had the fight and I left Lancer, he called me a filthy half-breed bastard and that he would kill me if he ever seen me on Lancer land again.” Johnny explained.
“ Jesus, no wonder you blew up on him last night. I don;t know how you can even stand to be around that man. I mean, I know he’s your father and all, but to call his own son that.” James said.
“ It’s true. He got my mother pregnant with me three months before they married. I don’t think I will ever really know the truth as to why she left in the middle of the night.” Johnny said as he opened the gate to the pasture so they could walk in. “ Pick out one you like and I’ll train her for you as a wedding gift.”
“ I can’t ask you to do that Johnny. These are your future.” James said as a sorrel filly with a white face walked up to him and pressed her head into his chest. “ Whoa, easy girl.”
“ I thing you were just chosen to be her owner.” Johnny said. “ Walk around and see if she follows you.”
James walked around and the filly followed him. Every time he stopped, she pressed her head into his chest or rested her head on his shoulder.
“ None of the others are coming around you buddy. Looks like she’s your wedding gift. I’ll start breaking and training her for you in the fall.” Johnny said.
“ Wow, she is a good looking horse. So what is it you hope to breed?” James asked as he patted the filly’s neck.
“ Something stronger in the haunches with a thicker neck and deep chest.” Johnny explained. “ Something that will be a different kind of cattle horse, that can also be used for other things and won’t tire out.”
“ I didn’t see that spoiled palomino of yours. He in the barn” James asked.
“ Barranca was killed when I was in Montana. I got attacked by a grizzly. He gave his life saving mine.” Johnny said.
“ Jesus kid. I’m sorry.”
“ The Nez Perce nursed me back to health. They’re who I got Scott’s Appaloosa filly from. You should see the horses they have James. Talk about horseman. They trained all these fillies to follow that chestnut mare over there all the way here.” Johnny explained.
“ Grandfather.” Scott said as he stepped up onto the train station platform.
“ Scotty.” Harlan Garrett responded.
“ How are you sir?” Scott asked.
“ I’m good my boy.” Harlan said.
“ Let me get your luggage so we can get to the ranch. I’m sure you would like to freshen up and rest.” Scott said.
“ Thank you. I’m glad to see you still have your manners.” Harlan said as they walked toward the wagon.
“ I’m sorry you have to ride in the wagon. I had to pick up an order of lumber this morning for the ranch.” Scott said as he secured the luggage behind the seat and climbed up.
“ What on earth made you decide to settle here my boy? This place is so dusty.” Harlan asked.
“ It will be a lot dustier once the herds start showing up in June.” Scott responded. “ Dodge City is a good town. We have trouble sometimes from the trail hands, but nothing too bad. Especially now that there is a no carrying of firearms within town limits.”
“ So how far is it to your ranch?” Harlan asked.
“ The ranch belongs to Johnny. It’s about ten miles out of town.” Scott responded. “ I’m a partner in his horse breeding business.”
“ A killer who is now a horse breeder.” Harlan said snidely.
“ With all due respect sir, Johnny is not a killer. He’s my brother and I will not allow you to speak harsh words about someone you clearly know nothing about. Johnny is hard working and the people of Dodge City like him.” Scott responded firmly.
“ I didn’t raise you for twenty four years to be rude to me Scotty.” Harlan said.
Scott stopped the wagon. “ With all due respect sir, I’ve tried to show my gratitude.” Scott said.
“ Gratitude. You call leaving the only home you ever knew to go be with a man who knew nothing about you gratitude? I raised you Scotty while he was carving out his little empire.” Harlan said. “ Gratitude! Gratitude is something I don;t want from you my boy……Well, forgive me, I guess I’m getting to be a silly mottled old man. Let’s get on.”
“ You need to know, Murdoch is at the ranch also. He arrived last Friday.” Scott said.
“ You should have told me he was going to be here.” Harlan said.
“ We knew he was coming. You only let us know three days before your arrival.” Scott responded.
“ I’m surprised he could find the time to leave his precious ranch and come out here.” Harlan responded.
Scott ignored his grandfather’s smart remark. “ I might as well tell you now before we get to the ranch. There will be no fighting between you and Murdoch. Like it or not, he’s my father. You will treat Teresa and Johnny with respect also.”
“ I can assure you, I have no intention of fighting with that man.” Harlan responded.
“ I almost forgot. I brought a box of those fine Cuban cigars you and Scott like.” Murdoch said as he walked into the kitchen.
“ Thank you. Good cigars are somewhat hard to get here.” Johnny said.
“ Where’s your brother?” he asked.
“ Scott left at sunrise so he could pick up that lumber order before he picked up his grandfather.” Johnny responded.
“ You know, I still can’t believe Karen and James finally got married.” Teresa said.
“ She’s good for him.” Johnny said.
“ She seems like a very nice lady.” Murdoch added.
“ I had James pick out a filly for a wedding gift. He wasn’t going to, but this filly walked up to him, and chose him. I told him I would start training her in the fall. She’s still too young to ride, but I can start her ground breaking.” Johnny said.
“ I’m sure she will be well trained. You did a great job with Rose. I know he will like her.” Teresa said.
“ You should have seen her. She followed him around like a puppy.” Johnny said with a laugh.
“ So she chose him like Barranca chose you……..I’m sorry.” Murdoch said.
“ It;s alright. He was a good horse. I’ll never have another as good as he was.” Johnny said. “ I wouldn’t be alive if he hadn’t done what he did to save my life.”
“ How bad did the bear get you?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny stood up and pulled his shirt up so his father could see where the grizzly’s claws tore open his side. “ It was real windy and I rode right up on her. Barranca didn’t know she was there because of the wind. She hit me, knocking me clean out of the saddle. Barranca could have run off, but he didn’t. He attacked her to get her away from me. I emptied my gun in her and was reloading when she got Barranca on the chest. I’ll never forget that squeal he did as he went down. I shot her again and she came right over me. I was able to put a bullet up through her jaw into her brain. She dropped instantly right on top of me. I guess the Nez Perce where in the area and heard my shots. Once I was free of the bear, I went to Barranca and knew he couldn’t be saved. I had to end his suffering. I had to shoot my best friend.” Johnny said before standing up and walking over to the window to look out t the rose garden. “ That’s the first time I’ve told anyone what happened.” he said with sadness.
Teresa walked over and wrapped her arms around him. “ I thank him for saving your life.”
Johnny turned around and hugged her.
“ I really am sorry son.” Murdoch said.
Scott drove the wagon through the gate to J & S ranch and slapped the reins for the horses to pull the heavy wagon up the slight hill.
“ So this is what you call home now. I don’t understand how you could want this when you had a life of luxury back in Boston. Fine clothes, lovely ladies, exquisite food.” Harlan said.
“ I’m happy here sir. Me and Johnny are going to make this ranch be a success sir. I would hope you could appreciate that.” Scott said as the wagon started down the hill to the house. “ Or at least respect my decision while you are here.”
“ I’m surprised the size of the house.” Harlan said as they came down to the house and stopped.
“ There are four bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. Johnny and Teresa sleep downstairs. There’s a water-closet downstairs off the kitchen that the previous owner put in, so you won’t have to go outside. There is running water. I’m trying to figure out how to do hot water so we don’t have to heat it on the stove.” Scott explained. “ The kitchen is big, so all meals are eaten in there.” he added before getting down as Johnny comes walking out of the barn over to them.
“ There will be three more wagon loads coming with the rest of the order.” Scott explained.
“ Thanks. What about the post?” Johnny asked.
“ You must be Johnny Madrid?” Harlan asked as he walked up to them.
“ They are at the bottom of this load.” Scott responded as he removed his grandfathers luggage. “ Johnny, this is my grandfather, Harlan Garrett.”
“ Mister Garrett, Scott’s talked my ear off telling me about you.” Johnny said as he extended his hand to shake.
“ Has he. Now your mother was a foreigner wasn’t she?” Harlan asked, ignoring Johnny’s offer to shake hands.
“ Mexican.” Johnny responded as he lowered his hand. “ I’ll take the wagon up and start unloading it after I take care of the team.” he said as he climbed up in the wagon and released the brake.
“ I asked you to be civil while you are here. There was no reason for you to refuse to shake Johnny’s hand.” Scott said before walking to the house.
“ Hello Mister Garret. Welcome to the J & S ranch.” Teresa said.
“ You must be Teresa?” Harlan asked.
“ I am. Would you like some cold lemonade?” she asked.
“ Harlan, it’s been a long time.” Murdoch said.
“ Thank you Teresa.” Harlan said as he took the glass of lemonade.
“ I put your luggage in the bedroom at the far end of the hall.” Scott said. “ If you will excuse me, I’m going to go help my brother unload the lumber before the other three wagons get here.”
“ You need extra help son?” Murdoch asked.
“ No. I think we can get it.” Scott responded.
“ Scotty, I haven’t seen you for almost six years.” Harlan said.
“ This is working ranch. We can visit in the evenings.” Scott responded.
“ You never used to be this rude.” Harlan said.
“ I’m not going to leave Johnny to unload all that lumber by himself.” Scott said.
“ Perhaps you would like to freshen up and rest before supper Mister Garrett?” Teresa asked.
“ Yes I would. Thank you.” Harlan responded.
“ How about some help brother?” Scott asked as he walked up to the wagon.
“ You don;t have too. Go visit with your grandfather. I’ll get this.” Johnny responded.
“ I’m sorry.” Scott said as he grabbed a board.
“ For what?” Johnny asked.
“ My grandfathers rudeness toward you earlier.” Scott said.
“ It’s no big deal. I’m dirty, he probably didn’t want to get his hands dirty.” Johnny said.
“ He got a little upset because I came out here to help you, but I don’t really care.” Scott said.
“ I wonder what his real reason is for coming here?” Johnny asked.
“ He said to see me.” Scott responded.
“ I know he’s your grandfather, and he raised you Scott, but it’s been what, almost six years. Why didn’t he come to Lancer to see you?”
“ That’s a good question brother, but unfortunately, one I cannot answer.” Scott said.
Luke rode up to an older man, he assumed was Scott and Johnny’s father. “ Where’s Johnny?” he asked.
“ What do you want with my son?” Murdoch demanded.
“ That’s between me and him. Where is he?” Luke asked more firmly.
“ He’s with his brother working on the new barn.” Murdoch responded. “ What do you want with him?”
Luke ignored the man and turned his horse to ride to where Johnny was working.
“ Hey, what are you doing here?” Johnny asked.
“ I came to see you.” Luke said as he dismounted. “ Scott, can I speak to Johnny alone?” he asked.
“ I’ll go see what Teresa is fixing for supper.” Scott said as he took off his gloves and walked away.
“ What’s on your mind Luke?” Johnny asked.
“ Yesterday a man got off the train I thought might interest you. He was wearing a fancy gray suit and had a gun low on his hip?” Luke asked. “ When I told him about our no firearms within town limits he wasn’t too happy, but turned it over to me. Said he was here on business, but wouldn’t say how long he would be here when I asked.” Luke explained. “ When I asked him what the purpose of his visit was, his whole demeanor changed.”
“ What’d did he say?” Johnny asked.
“ He said he’s looking for someone he hadn’t seen in eighteen years. That he heard he was in Dodge City, and that he owed this man something he fully intended on paying him back for before he walked away.” Luke said. “ Johnny, I need to know if this man being here is going to be trouble. The sheriff had to go to Wichita on business, and won’t be back until Monday.
Johnny turned and walked a few feet away from them, wrapping his arms around himself to stop the shaking.
“ Johnny, what’s wrong?” Luke asked.
“ Did this man have a bad scar on the left side of his neck, and speak with a raspy voice?” Johnny asked without turning to face him.
“ Yeah.” Luke responded.
Johnny emptied his stomach when he heard Luke say the name he feared to ever hear again.
“ Jesus kid, what’s wrong?” Luke asked. “ I did some checking and this guy fits the description of a gunfighter from El Paso, named Reno. Do you know him?” he asked.
Johnny walked over and poured water on his face from the canteen before taking a swig and spitting it out. “ We need to go in the house. My family needs to here what I have to say.” Johnny finally said.
“ There’s more kid.” Luke said. “ He got off the train with another man. Now whether they traveled together, I don’t know. He was talking to an older man with gray hair dressed in a black suit. This older man spoke with an eastern accent.”
Johnny glared at Luke. “ You seen this older man?”
“ Yeah, he’s Scott’s grandfather. I was there when Scott picked him up. I seen them talking together. Reno noticed me walking over and split off from the old man. I was going to talk to him, but figured all was good when Scott called him grandfather.” Luke responded. “ You still want to talk to them about this Reno, in front of Scott, and his grandfather?”
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as they walked toward the house. “ I can’t believe James and Karen finally got married.”
“ I know. Me and Charlie were totally surprised by the news.” Luke responded.
“ What’s going on?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I don’t know. Luke wanted to talk to Johnny alone.” Scott responded as he walked over to pour a glass of lemonade.
“ Scotty, I’ve been here a week and hardly got to spend any time with you. I thought maybe me and you could take a ride around this countryside this afternoon?” Harlan asked.
“ If I get some free time we can.” Scott responded. “ Me and Johnny have a huge tree we are going to start cutting up this week for firewood. Between that and building the new barn, I don;t have much free time sir.”
“ I think you can find time to spend with your grandfather. I did come all this way to see you.” Harlan said with a raised voice.
“ With all due respect sir, I told you on the way here that this is a working ranch. If we are going to stay warm, and Teresa be able to cook, that tree has got to be cut up and split. Maybe next time you will let me know ahead of time that you are coming so I can have the time you want to spend with you.” Scott responded firmly.
“ Perhaps I should go back to Boston, and not be a bother to you ever again?” Harlan snapped back.
“ I never said you were a bother sir.” Scott said.
“ I didn’t raise you to be disrespectful to me like this Scotty.” Harlan said.
“ Stop. My name is Scott, not Scotty. I’m not a little kid anymore sir. I’m a grown man, and a partner in this ranch.” Scott responded firmly.
“ I have always called you Scotty.” Harlan said.
“ As a child it was fine. I’m now twenty five years old. People change when they grow up. Their preferences change. They learn the truth.” Scott responded.
“ Very well then, I shall retire to my room until Supper is ready then. Mrs Teresa, thank you.” Harlan said before turning and heading upstairs.
“ Son, I think your brother will understand if you want to take a day off and spend it with your grandfather.” Murdoch suggested.
“ He did come all this way to see you Scott.” Teresa added. “ Talking to him, I get the impression he is just lonely.”
“ When I was back in Boston, I spent more time with the hired help, than I did him. Every night I sat at the huge table and ate my meal alone because he found work was more important than being with me. He hasn’t changed Teresa, and he never will. I have a feeling he has more of a reason than seeing me for coming here.” Scott said as Johnny and Luke walked into the house.
“ Johnny, what does the deputy want with you?” Murdoch asked.
“ That’s why we came in here. Where’s your grandfather?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m afraid he’s a little upset at me right now, so he went upstairs to rest until supper. Why? Scott responded.
“ Because what I’m about to tell the three of you, he doesn’t need to hear.” Johnny responded.
Scott had a feeling in his gut that there was more to why his brother said what he did about his grandfather not hearing what he was going to say.
“ It’s not easy for me to talk about my past. Some of it I would prefer none of you knew about. Murdoch, those Pinkerton reports you have Don’t tell you everything that’s happened to me, or that I’ve done. I started using a gun to stay alive below the border after my mother died. It wasn’t easy for a ten year old half-breed kid, especially one with blue eyes and brown skin. I know you’ve all seen my scars, some I got when I was a kid, and some I got from the Rurales when I was in prison.” Johnny explained. “ I have ghost that haunt me just about every night in my sleep. Some of these ghost are of men I have killed. Men who called me out when I became Johnny Madrid…….Other’s are from men who did things to me. Things no man should ever do to another. I accepted my life as a gunfighter and strived to be the best there ever was. Me, Johnny Madrid, good at my trade. That’s what I thought I wanted, until I learned the truth about my mother taking me away from Lancer. Before my mother died, she had a man stay with us for almost a year. A man named Reno. At first he was kind to me and my mother. He taught me how to shoot a pistol. Then he changed and started beating her and me. One night he beat my mother, and then left. We moved to another small village where she worked for pesos in a cantina. This man found us again, and while she was working, he came into the shack we lived in……….I was alone, he beat me almost unconscious, threw me on the bed, and then…………then he……….When he was finished, I crawled out of the bed, crying. There was a pan of hot water on the stove. When he got up and came at me again, I grabbed that pot and threw the hot water on him. It gave me time to get away, and go to my mother. We left that village, and a few months later my mother died. I never seen that man again………………The reason Luke rode out here today was to tell me about a man who got off the train the other day. That man is Reno. He’s here to try and kill me for what I did to him. He’s reminded of what I did every day by the scar on the left side of his neck and face from the hot water I threw on him.” Johnny explained as he struggled to keep his emotions in check. He could see the sadness in Teresa’s eyes, the anger in his father and brothers.
“ I asked this man why he’s here and he said he was here to see an old friend he heard was here and pay him back for something that happened eighteen years ago. I wasn’t sure, but the way the man wore his gun told me he was a gunfighter.” Luke said. “ The sheriff had to go to Wichita on business and won’t be back until Monday. I can;t arrest this man unless he does something to break the law, and unfortunately, gun-fighting isn’t against the law.”
“ Carrying a firearm with-in town limits is though.” Scott said.
“ Yes, but he surrendered his weapon to me Scott at the train station. He was there the day you picked up your grandfather.” Luke said. “ He was talking to him Scott.”
“ Wait a minute, are you suggesting my grandfather brought this man here?” Scott demanded. “ Is that what you think Johnny?”
“ I don’t know what to think Scott, so you tell me.” Johnny responded. “ Is he ruthless enough to do something like this?”
Scott turned away from his brother, and ran a hand through his hair. “ When my grandfather wants something, he will go to extreme measures to get it done. I had a friend in college, we did everything together. His father got into a business deal with grandfather. About two months after, my grandfather took everything they owned. The house, furniture, horses, everything. He left them penniless. My fiends father had a shipping company like grandfather’s, but not as big. I confronted grandfather about what he did. Want to know what he said to me? He looked me in the eyes and said crushing the little man is how you become the biggest. My grandfather is ruthless, and doesn’t care who he hurts, as long as he gets what he wants.” Scott explained. “ Johnny, if he is responsible for that man being here looking for you, it’s my fault. He wants me to go back to Boston with him. I’m sorry brother.”
“ I don’t blame you for this Scott.” Johnny said. “ I’m sorry , but I want that man out of my house.”
“ You’re not going to press charges against him for this?” Scott asked.
“ No I’m not brother. “ Johnny said.
“ Why?” Scott demanded.
“ For two reasons. One out of respect for you, and the fact that he’s your grandfather, and two, he’s an old man. Let him deal with what trying this will cost him.” Johnny responded.
“ We can have him arrested for conspiracy to commit murder Johnny.” Luke said.
“ Reno will never say he was hired by him and brought him here to kill me. The only thing we have is the two of them talking the day you picked him up.” Johnny responded.
Scott started toward the stairs, but was stopped by Johnny. “ No, train doesn’t leave out until eight in the morning.”
“ He can stay in town at a hotel. I want him out of here Johnny. Now!” Scott said firmly before heading upstairs.
“ Johnny, this man Reno, can he beat you?” Teresa asked.
“ He’s good Teresa. He was then, and so I imagine he knows about me what he needs to, and is better than he was then. Remember I said let me shoot his pistol. I was a kid, so to me back then, he seemed fast. A lot can happen in eighteen years.” Johnny responded.
“ I don’t want this man to kill you. I don’t want Jesse growing up without his father.” Teresa said as she started to cry.
Johnny walked over and put his arms around her. “ Hey, I promise you, I’m not going to leave you. I screwed up once and almost lost you. I won’t screw up again.”
“ I want this man gone.” Murdoch demanded.
“ So do I Mister Lancer, but my hands are tied. Until he does something to break the law, I can’t run him out of town.” Luke said.
“ Running him out of town won’t stop this from happening. He’s here to kill me, and won’t stop until one of us is dead.” Johnny cut in as Scott came downstairs carrying his grandfathers luggage.
“ Johnny, would you go hitch up the wagon for me please?” Scott asked.
Johnny walked over to the front door, turned, and looked hard at Harlan Garrett as he came downstairs and stopped. “ You’re a real piece of work old man.” Johnny said. “ You would hurt your own grandson.”
“ I would never do anything to hurt my Scotty. It’s you, all of you who have hurt him.” Harlan snapped.
“ And you think having me killed wouldn’t hurt him?” Johnny demanded. “ You don’t care about anyone but yourself old man.”
“ You filthy half-breed. You dare strike me. You will get my Scotty killed. He has no business being here with you, none of you. I raised him, for twenty four years. You Murdoch, you stole my Scotty from me just like you stole my dear Catherine.” he spat.
“ That’s enough!” Scott yelled. “ Johnny, Go hitch the wagon up now. Grandfather, don’t you say another word. I will not have you speak like that about my family, or my mother. She loved Murdoch, if she didn’t, she wouldn’t have went to California with him.”
“ That man created that half-breed, good for nothing bastard you call a brother out of wedlock.” Harlan spat.
Murdoch started toward Harlan, when Johnny grabbed the man by his jacket.
“ Don’t you ever speak of my mother like that again. You know nothing about her.”Johnny said with anger as he pushed Harlan back against the wall.
“ Johnny don’t!” Scott yelled as he walked over to them, and placed a hand on his arm.
Johnny looked at Scott, before turning and walking outside.
“ I never want to see you again. What you have done coming here is wrong, but more than that, what you have just said, I can never forgive you for, ever. I’m just sorry I have to be the one to take you back to town. It makes me sick knowing you are my grandfather.” Scott said before grabbing the luggage and heading outside.
“ Is Johnny in here?” Murdoch asked Teresa.
“ No, he’s out working on the barn.” she said. “ I’m worried about him Murdoch. I could see the pain and hurt in her eyes when he told us what that man did to him. I know he never wanted us to know that happened to him.”
“ I know sweetheart. All we can do is help him deal with his ghost. My treating him the way I did that night back at Lancer I know still bothers him even though he did blow up on me my first night here.” Murdoch said. “ A part of me wishes he would tell me more about his past. I know he wants to tell someone.”
“ We………….we had something happen between us that almost split us apart forever. I now know why it happened though, and with what Johnny just told us, I know I’m right.” Teresa said as she wiped away her tears.
“ Maybe I need to be the one to push him. Make him tell me so it helps get rid of some of his ghost.” Murdoch suggested as Scott walked in the house.
“ Sounds like Scott is back.” Teresa said.
“ Yes it does. Maybe I should go out there just to make sure nothing happens between them, or you.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Maybe you and Scott can get him to talk about some of those ghost he has.” Teresa said. “ Just don’t push him too far.”
“ We won’t sweetheart.” Murdoch said as he headed to the door. “ The three of us will just have a talk, and nothing more.”
“ Something tells me Johnny is still hurt over what happened at Lancer that night, and something else that involves the two of you, and not Scott.” Teresa said aloud as she walked to the kitchen to check on supper.
Harlan Garrett sat eating dinner in Karen’s restaurant when he seen Reno walk in.
“ Mister Garrett. May I join you?” Reno asked.
“ I want you to do whatever you have to do to kill that half-breed bastard. I want it done soon. Do I make myself clear?” Harlan demanded.
“ You didn’t tell me this town didn’t allow guns to be worn in town limits.” Reno responded. “ So maybe you would like to suggest just how I can kill him. Especially since he doesn’t come into town.”
“ Go to his ranch. He will be working along the river this week with my grandson, cutting up a huge tree for firewood. It will give you the perfect opportunity.” Harlan said. I’m leaving this town tomorrow morning. Don’t underestimate the power I have. If you try and double cross me, it would be very bad for you.” Harlan said firmly.
“ Let me tell you something old man. If you think you can scare me with your threats, think again. I’ll gladly kill you and Madrid…….for free.” Reno said before standing up and walking out.
Johnny sighed as he watched his brother pull up in the wagon and climbed down. “ Hey brother.” he said as he walked over to get a drink of water.
“ Are you alright?” Scott asked.
“ Me, I’m fine Scott. Couldn’t be better.” Johnny responded as Murdoch walked up to them. “ Look around. I own three hundred acres of good land, a hundred head of horses to start my ranch. A wife, son, and big brother I would die to protect. All I want is to live a normal life. I guess that’s asking to much for someone like me.”
“ Someone like you son? Would you care to elaborate on that?” Murdoch asked.
“ You really need me to answer that old man. Hell you said it yourself that night three years ago. His grandfather just said it. I’m nothing but a filthy half-breed, good for nothing bastard.” Johnny said with anger. “ My whole fucking life I’ve been reminded of that. I know one day a bullet has my name on it. Hell it might even be Reno’s bullet.”
“ Johnny stop it. Stop putting yourself down. What Murdoch said to you that night was wrong. What my grandfather said to you was wrong.” Scott yelled. “ I’m sick of you putting yourself down. You are a good man. You try every time to talk them out of trying to kill you. If you weren’t a good person, you wouldn’t do that.”
“ If I’m such a good person, then why the hell did I cheat on Teresa, Scott? Why did I sleep with that whore in Bazine? Why did I beat Billy Thompson when he was in restraints?” Johnny spat. “ No Scott, I’m not a good person. My fate and life were determined the day my mother took me away from Lancer.”
Scott stepped over and grabbed Johnny by his shirt. “ You listen to me you stubborn jackass. It shouldn’t matter what other people think of you. All that should matter to you is how you feel about yourself, That and how those you care about feel about you. What anyone else thinks of you shouldn’t matter.”
“ I’ve had to make it matter Scott. If I didn’t, I would be dead. Men like Reno would have…………” Johnny said before turning around and walking over to the giant cottonwood tree, and dropping to his knees, wrapping his arms around himself.
Murdoch walked over, and knelt down at his sons side, placing an arm around his shoulders, and pulled him. “ I am so sorry son. I know I’m partly to blame for your hurt because of what I said to you that night. Inside you said you have ghost. Son talk to us. Let me, Scott, and Teresa help you get rid of those ghost?”
Johnny leaned into his father as tears ran down his face. “ I don’t…….I don’t want it anymore pa. I just want to be left alone.”
Scott’s heart ached as he heard what his brother said. He knew this latest threat was partly his fault. “ Johnny, I’m sorry. If I hadn’t wrote to my grandfather last fall, he never would have known where I was, and come here.”
“ I….I don’t blame you for what your grandfather said Scott. I do blame you Murdoch, for what you said to me that night though. I say that because you’re my father, and you should have never spoke to me like that.” Johnny said as he pushed away from his father and glared at him through ice cold blue eyes.
“ Son, I already told you how sorry I am about what I said to you that night.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny lashed out and hit his father as hard as he could square in the mouth. “ You also beat me. Something I swore I would let no man ever do again.” Johnny spat as he hit him again in the nose.
Scott reached out and grabbed Johnny by the arms and pulled him away from Murdoch. “ Johnny stop it. It’s over. Stop.”
“ It’s not over Scott. It will never be over as long as my past keeps coming back to haunt me, it will never be over.” Johnny yelled as he tried to get free. “ Let go of me Scott………Now!”
“ Let him go son.” Murdoch ordered as he stood up, and pulled a kerchief from his pocket. “ Feel better now?” he asked.
Johnny just glared at him.
“ It’s not the ghost of your past as much as it’s me is it son?” Murdoch asked. “ It’s not all the abuse you received in the past, or what Reno did to you is it? You’ve been angry all these years because I got your mother pregnant with you three months before we were married. That’s what’s bothering you. Tell me I’m wrong.”
“ Go to hell old man!” Johnny spat as he lashed out at his father again.
This time Murdoch grabbed Johnny in a bear hug and held him tight. “ Son, you keep things inside you, letting it eat away at you, instead of talking about it.”
“ Let go of me now.” Johnny demanded.
Murdoch shoved Johnny, making him land flat on his butt. “ If you think hitting me is going to change what’s happened son, you’re wrong, but if I makes you feel better, then I won’t stop you.”
“ Murdoch.” Scott said.
“ No son. Your brother has to get it out.” Murdoch responded. “ Yes I got your mother pregnant with you three months before we got married. No I didn’t marry her to keep from having a bastard child as you say from tarnishing the good Lancer name. I didn’t plan on it happening Johnny. I was tracking a man, and seen her in that cantina in Matamoros. Yes I was lonely and missed Catherine. It wasn’t lust I was after. Your mother was a beautiful woman who stole my heart, just like Teresa did yours. The only difference between what I did with your mother, and what you did with Teresa, is I got Maria pregnant out of wedlock. That is the only difference.”
Johnny glared at Murdoch a minute before walking past him and Scott to his horse, swinging up in the saddle, and riding off toward the river.
“ He needs some time alone to think.” Scott said. “ Let’s go let Teresa put some witch hazel on those cuts.”
“ You know, your brother can hit pretty damn hard when he’s mad.” Murdoch said as they started toward the house. “ I’m afraid I’m going to get a good one from Teresa. I told her this wouldn’t happen. That we were just going to talk.”
“ Where’s Johnny?” Teresa demanded as Scott and Murdoch walked into the kitchen.
“ He took off toward the river.” Scott responded.
“ You said you were only going to talk to him. What happened?”
“ We were talking and then Johnny just lashed out at him.” Scott said as he got the witch hazel and a cloth.
“ Why? What did you say to make him lash out at you like this?” Teresa asked as she started to clean the cuts.
“ He’s angry at me for getting his mother pregnant before we were married. I think that’s what is at the heart of his anger. That and the ghost from his past.” Murdoch explained. “ I don’t know how to help him get through this. To move on and live the life he deserves with you and the baby.”
“ Maybe it’s his mother he’s really angry with?” Scott suggested.
“ What do you mean son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Think about it. He was just a baby when she took him from you and went to Mexico. She lied to him for all those years. Telling him you threw them out. If she hadn’t left Lancer, he never would have been abused like he was. He never would have become Johnny Madrid.” Scott explained. “ I think Johnny has repressed anger, and it’s at his mother.”
“ But if he’s angry with her, then why did he lash out and attack Murdoch?” Teresa asked.
“ Because he was an easy target. It could have very well been me if Murdoch hadn’t been there.” Scott responded.
“ That’s why he lashed out at me that last time when I asked him if he was angry at me because I got his mother pregnant out of wedlock?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes sir, I do believe that is why.” Scott responded.
“ Maybe I shouldn’t stay here the remaining week. Maybe I should go back to California.” Murdoch suggested.
“ No, you need to stay and help your son get past this.” Teresa ordered. “ I want my husband back. I want us to be a normal family. I want his damn nightmares to stop.” she said with anger.
“ Teresa, I’m sorry for all the hurt and pain I have caused Johnny.” Murdoch said sadly.
Johnny walked into the kitchen to get something to eat, and found his father sitting at the table. Going over to the stove, he opened the oven and pulled out a plate of food Teresa kept for him. Walking over to the table, he sat down, and started eating. He could see the bruises and cuts from hitting his father.
“ Are you alright?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny put down his fork and looked at his father. He could see the bruises and cuts from hitting him earlier. “ I’m sorry.” he said softly.
“ For what, for letting out anger you’ve been repressing for all these years son? It’s me who should be apologizing to you.” Murdoch said.
“ I shouldn’t hate you for what she did.” Johnny said. “ I thought I was past this with the talk we had the night you got here.” Johnny said. “ Why can’t I just let it go?”
“ You’ve had a lot of bad done to you. A lot of hurt. Some from me. I think with that man Reno coming here has brought all that hurt, all those ghost you’ve been keeping deep down inside all these years to the surface.” Murdoch suggested.
“ I don’t………having anger toward you……….lashing out at you like I did was wrong Murdoch.” Johnny said before standing up, and walking over to the window.
“ Son, why don’t we take a look at those things I brought from when you were a baby?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny turned around. “ That the trunk in the living-room?”
“ Yes it is.” Murdoch responded as he stood up. “ Seeing what’s in that trunk will bring back wonderful memories for me. They are all I have of you as a baby. There’s a couple things in there that belonged to your mother too.”
“ I carved this horse for your first birthday.” Murdoch said as he handed the wooden figure to Johnny. “ Those are your teeth marks on it. Your mother would get upset saying you would get splinters in your gums chewing on it. Your teeth had just started to come in when I finished carving it.”
“ How old was I?” Johnny asked as he looked at the figure.
“ I believe seven….no eight months.” Murdoch responded as he pulled a small jewelry box out and opened it.
“ How old was I when I rode my first horse?” Johnny asked.
“ Almost two. You were outside with your mother when I rode up. You walked over to me and reached up saying horsey, papa. I got down, picked you up, and placed you in the saddle. Your mother was afraid you would fall off. O remember you took hold of the saddle-horn and said go. After that, there was no stopping you from riding. I took you all over with me.”
“ Did she like anything we did together?” Johnny asked.
“ No. At first she did, but then when I started taking you with me she would be upset when I got back. I guess maybe that’s one reason why she took you from me. I was always happy with you with me.” Murdoch responded. “ I tried to get her to go for rides with us, but she wouldn’t. A couple months before she left, she just seemed to not care anymore. Every morning she would get you ready to go while I ate breakfast. I guess that’s when she started seeing the gambler man she left with.”
“ I remember a man who always dressed in a black suit. He was nice to me. Mamma didn’t like him spending time with me.” Johnny said before looking away. “ I remember once my mother got angry about something……..and took it out on me. That was the first beating I got of many from her. As I got older, and the men changed, I seemed to be in the way, and not wanted around. I know now what she was doing.”
Murdoch could hear the pain in his sons voice as he told him how the woman he loved beat their son for no reason. “ I’m sorry son.”
“ Why, you didn’t do it.” Johnny said as he set the horse down.
“ No, but I never seen the signs your mother was going to leave me. That she wasn’t happy.” Murdoch responded. “ That she didn’t love me anymore.”
“ What’s that?” Johnny asked, pointing to the jewelry box his father held.
“ I bought your mother several pieces of jewelry. Necklaces and earrings. I thought maybe you would like Teresa to have them.” Murdoch said as he handed the box to him.
“ I’ll ask her tomorrow.” Johnny said.
“ What’s wrong?” Murdoch asked.
“ I……..I don’t understand how she could just leave you in the middle of the night…….How a mother could willingly take her son from a safe place and go to Mexico?” Johnny said.
“ I wish I had an answer for you son, but I don’t. I’ve asked myself that same question many times.” Murdoch said.
“ I hate her for what she did to me. What she put me through.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to look out the window.
“ Don’t hate her son. Hating her is what is keeping you from putting this behind you and living the life you want.” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to him. “ You deserve to be happy. God knows you deserve it.”
“ You think me and you can ever have what you and Scott have?” Johnny asked.
“ I would like us too son. I would like all of us to be a family.” Murdoch said.
“ So do I, but I don’t want to give up on what I’ve started here. I know it’s not much, but it’s our home. I want me and Teresa to raise our children here. I want to grow old here. I wish you weren’t so far away.” Johnny said softly.
“ What if I sold Lancer and came here to live?” Murdoch suggested.
Johnny turned to look at him. “ You spent a long time building Lancer up. You can’t sell it.”
“ It’s changed son. The Cattleman’s Association’s new President, Lawrence Ross has inflicted new rules that has pretty much stopped the smaller ranches from being able to ship their cattle. The fees they Impose at the stockyard is so high, even Lancer can’t afford to pay it.” Murdoch explained.
“ What fees?” Johnny asked.
“ Remember how we would drive the cattle to the rail-yard to ship to slaughter? Well now the Association charges the owner of the cattle fifty cents a head on top of five hundred dollars for the cattle to stay in the feed lot until loaded. You know the smaller ranches can’t afford to pay that. Lawrence was in Denver, he has gotten Wyoming and other states ranchers to join. No son, I see the market falling out on cattle within the next ten years. It would take me at least a year to get everything in order before I could come back.” Murdoch said.
“ Who would you sell it too?” Johnny asked.
“ Angus McGovern has been after Lancer for a long time. He’ll pay me three times what it’s worth.” Murdoch responded.
“ Murdoch, I want you to be sure about doing this.” Johnny said.
“ One thing I realized after you left, I did care more about Lancer than I did my own sons. I’m not getting any younger. I think it’s time I start enjoying life and I would like to do that watching my grandchildren grow up. Is that alright?” Murdoch said and asked.
“ You only have one grandchild for now.” Johnny said.
“ Well, when I come back next year, maybe I will two grandchildren to come back and spoil.” Murdoch said with a smile as Teresa came out holding Jesse.
“ Have you two been up all night?” she asked.
“ I guess we have.” Johnny said as he walked over and gave her a kiss.
“ Why don’t you two go get some sleep. I’ll wake you up for lunch.” Teresa ordered as Scott came downstairs.
“ I need to feed the horses.” Johnny said.
“ No you don’t. Scott will feed them. I want the two of you to go to bed now.” Teresa ordered.
“ The lady of the house speaks.” Johnny said as he headed to the bedroom.
Johnny sat on the edge of the bed stretching his arms as he thought about what his father said to him hours before. He couldn’t believe what his father said he was going to do. Slipping his pants and boots on, he headed out to the kitchen.
“ I think Jesse is going to be a handful when he gets older, and starts crawling and walking.” Teresa said.
“ It feels like he has a tooth coming in.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes he does. I felt that this morning.” Teresa responded.
“ You know, once Johnny started crawling, he was hard to stop, and walking, that boy was on the go from the time he would wake up until he fell asleep at night.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the kitchen.
“ Don’t believe a word your grandpa tells you Jesse. He’s exaggerating about your papa.” Johnny said as he gave Jesse a kiss on the forehead. “ Afternoon brother.”
“ I believe you mean evening brother?” Scott said as Johnny poured a cup of coffee.
Johnny looked at the clock. “I thought you were going to wake me up at noon?” he asked Teresa as he sat down.
“ I tried, but you were in a deep sleep.” Teresa responded.
“ I can’t let you do it Murdoch.” Johnny said. “ You spent most of your life building up Lancer.”
“ Do what?” Scott asked.
“ Sell Lancer and move here. I don’t have a problem with you living with us. I want you to be around your grandchildren. I do have a problem with you selling what would be called, your legacy.” Johnny explained.
“ Son, I told you last night how the cattleman’s association is doing the ranchers and hurting Lancer. I’m not getting any younger.” Murdoch responded.
“ What if………what if we came back to Lancer? If you want to get out of the cattle business, why don’t we turn Lancer into a horse ranch? Now, I know people will always need beef, but people will also want and need horses.” Johnny suggested.
Murdoch sat back in his chair, and looked at his son. “ Have you discussed this with them son?”
“ No, I’m doing that now I guess.” Johnny said.
“ I have no problem going back to Lancer.” Teresa said.
“ Johnny, are you sure you want to give up on your dream?” Scott asked.
“ He won’t be giving up on his dream son. Your brother can have his horse ranch in California, at Lancer. You both can. Unless you don’t want to go back?” Murdoch cut in.
“ I’d go back to Lancer, but I want Johnny to be sure about his decision. You just bought a hundred head of horses. What are you going to do with them?” Scott asked.
“ Take them to California. Those are good breeding mares. Getting those horses cost me Barranca. I’ll pay to get them to California, by train.” Johnny said.
“ That’s going to cost a lot of money to do.” Scott said.
“ Yeah, but it will allow us to get them there in three days, compared to three months driving them with the risk of them being stolen.” Johnny said.
“ I’ll split the cost with you son.” Murdoch said.
“ What about the furniture and stuff?” Teresa asked.
“ James and Karen just got married. Why don’t we offer it to them?” Johnny suggested.
“ You think they would buy it?” Teresa asked.
“ I do. Especially if I make the price right for them.” Johnny responded.
“ Then I guess we are going back to California.” Teresa said.
“ Why are we cutting this tree up for firewood if we are going back to California?” Scott asked.
“ Because the railroad can’t move the horses for two months.” Johnny responded. “ You have something on your mind brother, how about you tell me what it is?”
“ I just……..After what happened that night, I just never thought you would go back to Lancer.” Scott responded.
“ Neither did I, but like you, Murdoch and Teresa have said to me, I need to put my past behind me and move on.” Johnny said. “ Going back to what triggered all this Scott, will be a big help to me being able to do that.”
“ You know I’ll help you in any way I can. I just want you to be sure it’s what you want.” Scott said.
“ I’m sure.” Johnny said. “ Damn it.”
“ What’s wrong?” Scott asked.
“ Rider coming.” Johnny said as he strapped on his gun.
“ Maybe it’s James.” Scott suggested.
“No…. It’s Reno.” Johnny responded as he watched the man he hated more than anything ride up to them.
“ Johnny Madrid.” Reno said as he stopped his horse and dismounted. “ You can leave. I’m here for him.”
“ I’m not going to let you do this. I’m not going to let you kill my…………….”
“ Shut up Scott.” Johnny cut in. “ I wish I had killed you that day you sonofabitch.”
“ Your what? Your brother?” Reno asked. “ I found out a lot about you while in town Madrid. You got yourself a sweet looking little woman. Maybe when I’m done I’ll pay her a visit. Be nice to have a woman who isn’t a whore. You scarred me for life half-breed. I’m going to send you straight to hell.” Reno spat. “ Maybe kill that half-breed kid you got too.” Reno added as he went for his gun, drew and fired two shots as a bullet slammed into his head.
Johnny could feel his anger boiling as he heard what Reno said. “ The hell you are.” Johnny said with anger as he drew and fanned the colt. His bullet finding it’s mark as a bullet slammed into his right side.
Scott stood there in disbelief a few seconds as he watched Reno’s head snap backwards, and he dropped to his knees, and fell forward dead. A gaping hole in the back of his head.
“ Scott.” Johnny said as he staggered forward and dropped to his knees. “ He beat me.”
“ Johnny!” Scott said as he went to his brother as he fell to his side. “ Let me see how bad it is.”
“ I don’t want to die………Don’t let me die Scott.” Johnny pleaded.
“ Not a chance brother.” Scot said. “ I need to get you in the wagon and get you to the house. Can you stand up?”
“ It hurts like hell to breath.” Johnny said.
“ The bullet may have broke a rib.” Scott said as he helped Johnny to the wagon.
“ He beat me Scott. Reno was faster than me.” Johnny said before passing out.
“ It’s going to be weird going back there, and Maria and Cipriano won;t be there.” Teresa said.
“ I know. I’ve never hired another cook since they left. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.” Murdoch responded.
“ That sounds like the wagon coming back.” Teresa said as she walked over to look out the window. “ Murdoch, somethings wrong. I don’t see Johnny.” she said as she hurried to the door and opened it. “ Where’s Johnny?”
“ He’s been shot. Help me get him inside.” Scott responded.
“ Shot by who?” Teresa demanded as she hurried to the back of the wagon.
“ Reno. He rode up on us.” Scott responded. “ He beat Johnny.”
“ What?” Murdoch asked as they carried Johnny inside, and laid Johnny on the bed.
“ I’m going for the doctor.” Scott said as he headed out the door.
“ Sheriff!” Charlie yelled as he opened the door to the office. “ Scott just rode in and got Doc Parker. He said Johnny’s been shot.”
James stood up. “ What the hell happened?” he asked as he headed to the door.
“ Scott said it was Reno.” Charlie responded.
“ Who the hell is Reno?” the sheriff demanded as he got on his horse.
“ A man from Johnny’s past who showed up here a few days ago.” Luke responded as he mounted his horse.
“ When, next year?” James said before galloping out of town.
“ I hope Johnny killed that sonofabitch.” Charlie said as he mounted up, and took off after the sheriff, followed by Luke.
“ Scott said this man Reno beat Johnny to the draw.” Murdoch said as he removed Johnny’s boots.
“ I don’t want to talk about it Murdoch, please.” Teresa pleaded with tears as she undid Johnny’s shirt and looked at the wound in his side. “ The bullet in his side it looks like it may have hit a rib.”
“ Go get some water heating for when the doctor gets here.” Murdoch ordered.
“ I have a basket of bandages in the pantry I’ll bring you. I don’t like that leg wound.” Teresa said as she went to the door, tears in her eyes. “ I can’t lose him Murdoch.”
“ You won’t.” Murdoch responded firmly as he started removing Johnny’s pants.
“ Scott, I want you and whoever you are out, Teresa can help me.” Doc Parker ordered.
“ He’s my son. I’m staying.” Murdoch responded.
Scott knew the doctor well enough to know not to argue with the man. “ Murdoch, come on. You’ll just get in the way.”
“ Scott!” James yelled as he hurried into the house. “ Karen’s on her way to help. How bad is he?”
“ He was shot in his right side. It may have hit a rib.” Murdoch responded.
“ How the hell did this happen?” James demanded.
“ Reno beat Johnny to the draw. He was faster than him.” Scott said.
“ Where is he now?” Luke asked.
“ Down by the river, he’s dead, Johnny shot him.” Scott said. “ It happened so damn fast. I thought Johnny was fast, but Reno, he drew and fired two shots so damn fast, it was all a blur.”
“ Who the hell is this Reno? Why did he come clear to Kansas to try and kill Johnny?” the sheriff demanded.
“ He’s from Johnny’s past when he was a child. He abused my son and after, Johnny threw a pan of hot water on him, scarring the man for life on his neck.” Murdoch responded.
“ My grandfather brought him here.” Scott said.
“ Your grandfather?” James asked.
“ I seen Reno and his grandfather talking together at the train station the day Scott came to pick him up.” Luke explained. “ I took Reno’s gun from him, and thought nothing of the two talking together because the one was his grandfather.”
“ Luke did nothing wrong sheriff.” Murdoch said. “ None of us thought Harlan was responsible for Reno being here.”
“ And where is your grandfather now?” James asked with anger.
“ Gone. I sent him back to Boston.” Scott said.
“ I seen him talking to Reno again the night before your grandfather left. He was eating supper at Karen’s when Reno came in and sat down. They talked for a few minutes, and then Reno got up and left. Their conversation I could tell was not a pleasant one. Your grandfather was angry, and when Reno stood up to leave, he got down in that old mans face and said something to him before walking out.” Luke said.
“ Damn him. Damn that man.” Murdoch said with anger. “ He did this to your brother to spite me.”
“ My grandfather did this to try and get me to go back to Boston sir. You heard what he said before he was ordered to leave.” Scott said as Doc Parker came out of the bedroom.
“ He’ll be fine. I removed the bullet, he does have a broken rib from the bullet hitting it, but he’ll be fine.” Doc Parker explained. “ Teresa said he’s been through this before, and she knows what to do. I have to say, I’ve never seen someone with the scars he has and still be alive.”
“ He survived Billy Thompson and Sam brown’s ambush doc. Johnny is one tough person.” James said.
“ I don’t want him out of bed for at least a week, I told Teresa.” the doc ordered.
“ We’ll take care of him doc. Thanks for everything.” Murdoch said.
“ Come get me if you need me.” Doc Parker said as he headed to the door.
“ Luke, you and Charlie go get the body and take it to the undertaker.” the sheriff ordered.
“ Where’s it at?” Luke asked.
“ Along the river where the big tree is down that we were cutting up. His horse should still be there.” Scott said.
Johnny sat on the front porch two weeks later, smoking one of the cigars his father brought him. “ Heavy footsteps old man.” he said.
“ Teresa said you were out here. I thought maybe you would like some company.” Murdoch said. He knew what was bothering his son.
“ How come you’re still here?” Johnny asked. “ Didn’t you have to get back to Lancer?”
“ I sent a wire telling Walt I was delayed. My place is here with you.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny sat back and welcomed the warm afternoon sun on his face. “ I always knew I would be called out by someone faster than me. Every time, I would pray for a bullet to end my life. Every time I was the one who walked away. I have something to live for now. All I want to do is live. When I see his gun clear leather before mine, I thought of my family and who would take care of them. I thought it was over. Scott said I begged him to not let me die. He said he had never seen anything so fast.” Johnny explained. “ I knew I had to kill him, even if he killed me. I had to for Scott. I couldn’t let that bastard live and do what he said he was going to do to my family.”
“ Can I ask you something son?” Murdoch asked. “ Do you still feel that way about wanting a bullet to end it all?”
“ No. I have four good reasons to want to live now. I want to go back to Lancer, and become a successful horse breeder.” Johnny responded.
“ Then that is what we will do. I will do everything I can to help you achieve that dream son. As soon as you can travel, we will reschedule the cars to take your horses to California. I figured once I would send a wire to Walt and have him meet us with a couple hands to drive the horses from the rail-yard to the ranch.”
“ Sounds good. Scott said he told the train station there would be a delay in shipment.” Johnny said softly.
“ You two need anything?” Teresa asked as she came out with Jesse.
“ There’s my little man. Come see papa.” Johnny said as he reached for his son.
“ You sure?” Teresa asked.
“ Yeah, I’m sitting so it shouldn’t hurt.” Johnny said as he took his son.
“ Well then, I think I will go start supper. I have three hungry men to feed.” Teresa said before giving Johnny a kiss and heading inside.
“ Lawrence owns the stock pens at the station where the horses will be unloaded. He may try and charge you, or stop you from unloading them son.” Murdoch said.
“ He does, and it will be the biggest mistake he ever makes. I won’t have anyone, I don;t care who they are, or think they are, trying to stop us from unloading those horses.” Johnny said firmly.
“ Have you heard the latest news about Lancer?” Hardy Runnels asked.
“ What news would that be?” Lawrence Ross asked.
“ He’ll be arriving by train in two days. Except he won;t be alone. Both his sons are coming back with him.” Hardy responded.
“ So he got the half-breed killer to come back did he?” Lawrence asked.
“ That’s not the half of it. I was told Madrid is bringing a hundred head of horses with them from Kansas. Horses he bought in Montana and Wyoming. Word has it old man Lancer is getting out of the cattle business and going to turn Lancer into a horse breeding ranch.” Hardy explained.
“ There’s no money in horses. Lancer will go belly up in a year and lose everything.” Lawrence said as he puffed on a cigar.
“ What are you going to do?” Hardy asked.
“ Those horses have to be unloaded at your stock pens. You gonna allow that?” Hardy asked.
“ He can if he pays me first.” Lawrence responded. “ Don’t pay, then they don;t get unloaded. Those pens are for the cattlemen, not a half-breed and his nags.”
Two months later, Johnny, Teresa, Murdoch, Scott, and Jesse boarded the train headed to California. Three cattle cars at the back of the train carried the horses Johnny owned. Total cost of travel from Kansas to California almost a thousand dollars. Money Johnny figured well spent. Having privacy and comfort was something he was starting to get used to. Almost seven years ago, he never would have thought he would be traveling like he was now.
“ I want us to take Jesse up to meet your father.” Johnny said softly as he lay next to Teresa in the sleeper car.
“ I’d like that.” she said. “ Are you doing okay?”
“ Yeah, I’m fine.” Johnny said.
“ You have something on your mind. Please talk to me.” Teresa said.
“ Murdoch has been having trouble with the new president of the cattleman’s association. A man named Lawrence Ross. He ran into him in Denver and had an altercation with him. He said this man will try and stop our horses from being unloaded because he owns the stockyards.” Johnny explained. “ He charges an exuberant price to all the smaller ranches to keep their cattle there before they get shipped out. Murdoch left the association refusing to pay.”
“ Why? I mean, it makes no sense for him to do that. Doesn’t he realize he’s hurting those smaller ranchers?” Teresa asked.
“ Some men only have an agenda for themselves. They don’t care about the smaller man. Lawrence Ross has a reason he’s doing what he’s doing. He was in Denver to meet with ranchers from Montana and Wyoming. He won’t be happy if he learns where our horses came from. When we get there, I don’t want you going anywhere near the pens. I want you and Jesse to stay at the station until I know it’s safe for you both. It would kill me to lose you two.” Johnny responded.
“ You won’t lose us.” Teresa said as she snuggled in closer to him.
“ You wanna hear something funny?” Johnny asked as he rolled onto his side to face her. “ If someone had told me seven years ago that me, Johnny Madrid would have a wife, a beautiful son, father and brother, I would have laughed in your face and thought you were crazy. Too be truthful, I never thought I would still be alive.”
“ Well you do, and you are.” Teresa said as she started running her hand over his body.
“ I want another child.” Johnny said as he rolled her onto her back.
“ So do I.” Teresa responded.
“ The train will be arriving in the morning. I don’t want any of those horses to unload into my stock pens. Do I make myself clear?” Lawrence ordered. “ Lancer thinks he’s the almighty in this valley. That he can do whatever he wants. It’s time he learns different.”
“ So you don’t like this Lancer fella and want him stopped from unloading horses from the train. What he’s not telling us is who will be with Lancer boys. We will be trying to stop Johnny Madrid. The horses are his, not Lancer’s. I ain’t going up against Madrid for no man.” Curly Joe said.
“ I’ll double what I’m paying you.” Lawrence said.
“ Keep your money. Johnny Madrid faced off with a man named Reno two months ago. Reno is now six feet under in Dodge City, Kansas. He was the fastest. You couldn’t pay me enough money to go up against his gun.” Curly Joe said.
“ Mister Lancer, it’s good to see you again sir.” Walt said.
“ Thank you Walt. Did you bring everything I said.” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes sir. I brought seven hands with me to help you with the horses.” Walt responded. “ Frank is at the buggy.”
“ Good, good.” Murdoch said as Scott walked up to them with Teresa and the baby.
“ Scott, Mrs Teresa, it’s good to see you again.” Walt said.
“ Hello Walt.” Scott said. “ It;s good to see you again.”
“ Who’s this little guy?” Walt asked.
“ This is my Grandson Jesse Alexander Madrid.” Murdoch said with pride as Johnny joined them.
“ Johnny, Never thought I would ever see you again. I should warn you, Lawrence Ross is here with about a dozen men. He approached me when we got here an hour ago and said your horses won’t be allowed to be unloaded.” Walt explained.
“ Where is he now?” Murdoch asked.
“ Down at the pens I expect.” Walt responded.
“ You stay here until either me, Murdoch, or Scott come and get you.” Johnny said to Teresa.
“ Please be careful.” she responded.
“ Hold on there. Those horses don’t get unloaded here until the owner pays the fee to use my pens.” Lawrence Ross ordered.
“ Mister, I have a schedule to keep. These horses are to be unloaded here.” the rail-yard worker said.
“ Not into my pens they don’t. No Lancer stock is allowed.” Lawrence responded firmly.
“ It’s not your pens Lawrence.” Murdoch said as he walked over with Scott, Johnny and the hands. “ You really should learn the laws before saying you own something that you clearly don’t own.”
“ I am the president of the………” Lawrence started.
“ Not anymore!” Ed Clark yelled as he rode up. “ These pens were built six years ago. You were not even a member then. These stockyard pens were built by us ranchers, including Mister Lancer upon the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad so we could ship out meet to market easier.” Ed said.
“ One other thing you should know Lawrence, these pens are built on railroad property. So unless you work for the railroad, which I highly doubt, you got no say as to what livestock is loaded or unloaded in these pens. You also cannot charge money to the ranchers like you have been doing.” Murdoch added.
“ We held a meeting while you were in Denver. You are no longer the president of the California Cattleman’s Association. We want you gone Lawrence. Your agenda is not for the benefit of the ranchers, but for your own personal gain.” Ed said.
Johnny walked up to Lawrence. “ You can move, or get trampled. Either way, my horses are being unloaded.”
“ From what I see, the best thing you can do, the best option you have is to leave. Leave the state of California and never come back.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Now see here!” Lawrence yelled. “ You got no right to run me out of California.”
“ You either leave on your own, or I will personally escort you out.” Johnny said with coldness.
Lawrence glared at Johnny a minute before pushing past him, mounting his horse and riding away.
“ Let them out!” Johnny ordered.
Johnny stopped on top of the hill, and looked down at Lancer as the rest of them joined him. Dismounting, he walked over to the buggy, and took Jesse from Teresa. “ Come here little man. I want to show you what will be your future.” he said as Murdoch dismounted and walked over to them.
“ From here, all the way to those mountains way over there is Lancer.” Johnny said as he pointed.
“ The most beautifulest place on earth.” Teresa said as she walked up to them.
“ I never thought I would ever see it again.” Johnny said.
“ Son, let’s leave what’s happened in the past, in the past. Today is a new day, and a start to your new life. Welcome home.” Murdoch said.
“ Sometimes your past has a way of creeping up, nudging at you. All I want is to be a husband, father, and son.” Johnny said.
“ Don’t forget brother too.” Scott added. “ What do you say, we go home brother?”
Johnny helped Teresa and the baby back in the buggy, swung up in the saddle, and smiled. “ Let’s go home.
Six years later Murdoch sat on the veranda porch with Teresa and his newest granddaughter, Emily. Johnny talked him into still running cattle on Lancer, but not as many as he had in years past. Four new barns and numerous corrals could be seen from the house, all full of horses waiting to be broke and trained, some to be bred, mares with foals frolicking in the paddock. Rose with her second foal at her side.
“ Looks like your papa and uncle are riding in.” Teresa said to Jesse and his little brother Daniel, born just over a year after they came back to Lancer.
“ How’d it go in Modesto?” Murdoch asked as the boys dismounted.
“ Good, real good.” Johnny said as he walked over and hugged Teresa.
“ Lancer is now the sole supplier of horses to the army in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon.” Scott said.
“ That’s wonderful news son. Congratulations.” Murdoch said.
“ Scott, a letter came for you yesterday from Boston.” Teresa said. “ It’s in on the desk.”
“ Thank you.” Scott said as he went inside.
“ I think I will go take a hot bath before supper. Sleeping in my own bed is going to feel so good tonight.” Johnny said.
“ You want me and Daniel to take care of the horses papa?” Jesse asked.
“ How about I help you both take care of them?” Murdoch suggested as he stood up, and handed Emily to Teresa.
“ I guess we will go check on supper.” Teresa said.
Scott sat on his bed with the letter in his hand as Johnny knocked on the door and opened it. “ You alright?” he asked as he walked over. “ You were pretty quiet at supper.”
Scott handed the letter to Johnny to read as he stood up, and walked over to the window.
I wish I didn’t have to write this letter to you. I’m afraid your grandfather passed away in his sleep. The doctor suspects he had a heart attack. When your grandfather came back from seeing you in Kansas, he had changed. Everybody around him could tell something was wrong. He became distant, and spent a great deal of time in his study instead of going to his office. All his affairs are in order. It would seem he has sold off all his holdings and businesses and left explicit orders to send the enclosed bank draft to you with the letter. Again, I am sorry to have to tell you this sad news.
“ Who’s Jacob?” Johnny asked softly.
“ He was our servant. He has been with grandfather twenty years.” Scott responded.
“ I’m sorry Scott.” Johnny said as he handed the letter back to him.
“ This is what Grandfather wrote to me.” Scott said as he handed Johnny the other letter.
“ Scott, I can’t read that. It’s personal.” Johnny said.
“ You need to read it.” he responded.
Johnny too the letter and began reading it.
My Dearest Scotty,
I am sorry for ever hurting you. All the way back to Boston I thought about what I said to you and your brother, even Murdoch, and am not too proud to say I am ashamed of my actions. I realized I will no longer get to see you, and that breaks my heart. I did bring that man Reno to Dodge City to kill your brother. I wanted to hurt Murdoch in a way like he hurt me when he took my dear Catherine from me. It never crossed my mind I would also be hurting you my boy. I hope you can someday forgive me. I sit in my study and think about all the holidays, and birthdays we spent together, but sadly I can only remember a couple. I guess I was just too busy building my business up, hurting others in the process, than spending time with you. I’m just sorry I never got a chance to know your brother Johnny like I should have done. Cherish him Scotty. Cherish being with your father too, because there is nothing greater than family. I just wish I had realized this before it was too late. I expect I will see my dear Catherine again soon. I ask of one thing from you, find a woman to love and have children with like Johnny has done with Teresa. Have some children together. Don’t let the Garrett name end with you, please Scotty.
Sincerely Harlan Garrett.
Johnny walked over to Scott and handed him the letter. “ You going to be okay?”
Scott turned and faced him. “ Yeah. I just wish he had realized his mistakes sooner. The man raised me Johnny. I will always be grateful to him for that.”
“ So you going to do what he asked?” Johnny asked.
“ What, ask Julie to marry me?” Scot asked.
“ Well, the two of you have been seeing each other for three years now. I’m beginning to think you got cold feet like James had about asking Karen.” Johnny responded with a laugh.
“ I plan on asking her Sunday. I even bought a ring when we were in Modesto.” Scott responded as he went to his dresser and opened the top drawer, taking out a small box, and opening it.
“ Wow, if she says no to that, she’s crazy brother. That’s some ring.” Johnny said as he looked at the ring.
“ Thanks. Jacob sent me a bank draft for one hundred thousand dollars. It’s from grandfathers holdings.” Scott said.
“ Well brother, I would say that just about sets everything for you and Julie.” Johnny said.
“ How about a game of chess?” Scott asked as he put the ring away.
“ I’d love to brother.” Johnny responded as the two headed downstairs. “ I think what your grandfather did was sorta like me with Teresa.” Johnny said.
“ What’s that?” Scott asked.
“ He never thought about what his actions would cost him in the end. He never thought about forbidden consequences.” Johnny responded.
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