#1 in the Justice For Teresa series
I don’t own them. I’m just borrowing them for some fun. All original characters from Lancer belong to their rightful owners, all others belong to me, and may not be used without my permission.
This story will have an R-Rating for cursing, and adult situations.
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Sam Jenkins ( doctor Spanish Wells )
Frank Walters- Lancer hand
Walt Carson-Lancer hand
George Bravin- outlaw
Eli Hickman- outlaw
Harvey Dietrich-Diamond A Ranch
Cholla Cattle Company
Father Jacob- Álti, Sonora, Mexico
Francisco Madera- General, Rurales
Victoriano Huerta- Captain, Rurales
Alvaro Obregón- General, Rurales
Venustiano Carranza- rich rancher, Sonora, Mexico
Emilliano Zapata- rich rancher, Sonora, Mexico
Mission Santa Teresa de Álti, Álti, Sonora, Mexico
Word count: 22,675
“Johnny, you have hardly touched your supper. Are you feeling alright?” Teresa asked.
“ Huh, what querida?” Johnny responded.
“ Your supper. You’ve hardly touched it.” Teresa said.
“ Sorry, guess I’m too tired to eat.” Johnny said.
“ I still think you should let Sam take a look at your ribs. You have a pretty bad bruise from where you hit the fence.” Teresa said as she stood up.
“ I’ll be alright.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Go sit down in the living room while I clear the table.” she ordered.
“ Actually, I think I’m going to go sit outside on the veranda with a glass of brandy. Would you join me? It’s a nice evening.” Johnny said.
“ Alright.” Teresa said. “ Just let me set these dishes in the kitchen, and I’ll join you.”
Johnny walked outside, and welcomed the cool breeze.
“Summer has been exceptionally hot this year.” Teresa said as she sat down.
“ Yeah, I just hope we get enough rain to refill those watering holes that dried up on us.” Johnny responded.
“ Murdoch and Scott will be back in three days. Are you sorry Murdoch had you stay here and run the ranch, and took Scott instead on the drive?” she asked.
“ Drive a thousand head of cattle to Fort Bowie, or stay here and run the ranch……….No.” Johnny responded. “ To tell the truth, I never thought he would trust me enough to do it.”
“ Why would you think that?” she asked.
“ I think you know why Teresa.” Johnny said with a laugh.
“ Well, you have done a wonderful job keeping the ranch going the three months they’ve been gone. I for one am proud of you.”
“ Thanks. You know, if someone had told me two years ago I would be a third owner in the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley, I would have laughed in their face. Especially if they told me I would have a big brother, and little sister.” Johnny said.
“ What was it like living in Mexico?” she asked.
“ Hard, it’s nothing like here. The villages are made from adobe mostly.” he said.
“ How old were you when Maria died?” she asked.
“ Ten. She was killed. I was put in an orphanage.” Johnny responded. “ I know Murdoch has Pinkerton reports on me. Hasn’t he told you anything?”
“ No. Sometimes Murdoch treats me like a little girl. I’m seventeen. You’re the only one who treats me like a woman really.” Teresa said.
“ Maybe he didn’t so you wouldn’t know. There are some things a young lady shouldn’t know. Especially about my past.” Johnny responded.
“ I know you’ve killed men, and had horrible things done to you. I’ve seen the scars.” she said.
“ Most of my scars came from when I was in a Mexican prison. The Rurales, the like to beat the prisoners to try and break them. Make them scream out in pain.” Johnny explained. “ This one time, they whipped me, and then poured brine on my open cuts. Before they did it, the Captain said they didn’t want them getting infected. When I didn’t scream out in pain, he had me beaten until I passed out.”
“ Why, I mean why were you in there?” she asked.
“ For fighting in the Mexican army against the tyrants. Big spreads like Lancer is in Mexico a means to power, and with power comes all the trimmings. Most estancia’ are okay, but a few of the bigger ones, they stomp on the little man, and take what they want. They use the Mexican government to do it. Porfirio Diáz is as corrupt as they come. He wasn’t happy with Emperor Maximilian, and his French-Imposed rule. Díaz has been a controversial figure in Mexican history. His regime brought order and progress, ending political turmoil and promoting economic development.” Johnny explained. “ Or so he claimed. What he really brought was harder times and starvation to a lot of good innocent people.”
“ He sounds like a terrible man.” Teresa said.
“ He was. Díaz and his economic policies largely benefited his circle of allies as well as foreign investors, and helped a few wealthy estate-owning hacendados acquire huge areas of land, leaving rural campesinos ( farmers ) unable to make a living. In later years, these policies grew unpopular due to civil repression and political conflicts, as well as challenges from labor and the peasantry, groups that did not share in Mexico’s prosperity. That’s when I joined up and fought against the man and his army. Unfortunately we were no match against them. We killed a good amount of them, but there’s not much you can do with pitch forks and machetes.”
“ At least you tried to help them.” Teresa said.
“ We’re fallen angels brought down to hell the good book says.” Johnny said. “ Men beyond redemption.”
“ That may be true with some, but it most certainly is not true with you Johnny.” Teresa said. “ You have a good heart. You care about others. A fallen angel wouldn’t do the little things you do that make me smile.”
“ I know others who would disagree with you.” Johnny said as he stretched and yawned.
“ Well they’re wrong.” Teresa said as she stood up and held out her hand.
Johnny looked into her brown eyes. “ What?”
“ I am going to put you to bed. You’ve been working hard all week. Tomorrow is Sunday. Go ahead and sleep in.” Teresa said.
“ You know, you are going to make some man a very good wife.” Johnny said as he took her hand in his and stood up.
“ Maybe I will someday.” Teresa said as they walked back inside.
“ You go on to bed. I can tuck myself in.” Johnny said as he gave her a hug and kiss on the forehead. “ I’ll see you in the morning.”
“ It sure will be good to sleep in my own bed.” Scott said.
“ I would have to agree with that son.” Murdoch said.
“ I have to say, you surprised me when you had Johnny stay home and run the ranch for the three months we would be gone.” Scott said as he settled back against his saddle.
“ It wasn’t an easy decision to make son. Your brother is young and has proved to be irresponsible.” Murdoch said.
“ That was almost two years ago.” Scott responded. “ He knows what he did was wrong. That it cost us fifty head of cattle.”
“ As a third owner, he needs to be responsible for his hasty decisions. Your brother needs to learn that every action has consequences, and sometimes those consequences are costly.” Murdoch said.
“ With all due respect sir, Johnny has been responsible almost his whole life. He’s never had a place to really call home. Anything beyond a horse to call his.” Scott said. “ Why is it when I make a mistake, and I’ve made a few, it’s easy for you to forgive and forget, but when Johnny does it’s wrong and you won’t forget it?” he asked.
“ Because you are not childish. You finished repairing the fence-line at Black Mesa , yet your brother couldn’t finish clearing the brush from the stream below there. A job that simple, and he couldn’t finish it. That’s not being a responsible part owner.”
“ I guess you have forgotten Johnny had to come back and get a team of horses to remove that huge tree that came down across the stream. The one responsible for blocking the water. That is why he didn’t get that job done in one day.” Scott said.
“ He never said anything to me about it.” Murdoch said.
“ He tried, but as soon as he walked in the house late for supper, you started in on him. You never gave him a chance to explain anything to you, just like most times he comes in late.” Scott responded.
“ Alright son, you’ve made your point.” Murdoch said.
Johnny woke with a start. Getting up, he slipped into his pants and grabbed his colt from the top drawer of his dresser, and walked over to his door, opening it slightly to listen.
“ No, stop it. Let go of me!” he heard Teresa yell. Opening the door more, he stepped out into the hallway, keeping to the shadows as he walked slowly to the stairs, and peered over the railing, trying to see into the darkness below.
“ Go check the upstairs!” Red ordered. “ You stay still little Missy and you won’t get hurt. Now, a house this size has to have a safe. Where is it?” he demanded.
Teresa glared at the man. Fear in her eyes.
“ Don’t make me ask you again.” Red said as he jerked her toward him.
“ In there.” Teresa said as she pointed to the grand-room.
“ Do you know the combination?” he asked.
“ No, only Murdoch knows the combination.” Teresa said as shots rang out from upstairs.
“ We need to get out of here. Someone could have heard those shots.” Bravin said.
“ Go check on Eli. Kill whoever is upstairs.” Red ordered.
Johnny leaned against the wall as blood seeped from a bullet hole in his upper right leg. Not knowing how many there were, he limped over to the railing again to peer over when movement on his left caught his attention. Turning he fired as a bullet hit him in his upper left side, knocking him down the stairs.
“ Bravin……….Eli!” Red yelled.
“ They’re dead. Let’s get out of here while we still can Red.” Pete Anderson pleaded.
“ Wait, what about her?” Billy Armstrong asked.
“ Leave her.” Red yelled as shots could be heard from outside.
“ Not before I have some fun with her.” Billy said as he tore her gown open, exposing her breast.
“ I said leave her. Of you need a woman that bad, go get a whore.” Red ordered. “ Now lets go.”
“ Bitch!” Billy said before hitting Teresa, knocking her out.
“ I wonder what Sam is doing here?” Scott asked as they rode up and dismounted.
“ Probably just visiting this time of the day.” Murdoch responded.
“ Mister Lancer, Scott.” Walt said as he hurried over to them. “ Am I glad you’re back.”
“ What’s wrong?” Murdoch asked.
“ Six men broke into the house the other night. Johnny was shot and Miss Teresa was hurt also. The doctor is with Johnny now.” Walt said.
“ What!” Scott said as they headed inside, and upstairs.
“ You really should be in bed resting young lady.” Sam said as him and Teresa walked downstairs, as the front the door opened, and Murdoch, and Scott walked in.
“ Murdoch.” Teresa said as she hurried to his open arms.
“ What the devil happened?” Murdoch demanded as he hugged her.
“ Why don’t we go in the kitchen and talk.” Sam suggested. “ I could use some coffee.”
“ How bad is he hurt?” Scott asked as they walked into the kitchen and sat down.
“ He was shot in his upper right leg, I had to dig the bullet out. The other one left a furrow in his side.” Sam said. “ Teresa, can I ask how Johnny got that bruise on his chest?”
“ He was breaking a horse. She fell into the fence before he could get off her he said.” Teresa responded as she poured them all some coffee. “ I asked him if he wanted me to send someone to have you come out and check it, but you know how Johnny is.”
“ Yes I do.” Sam said. “ That boy can be very stubborn when it comes to his injuries.”
“ Who did that to you?” Scott asked, pointing to her bruise.
“ One of the men. His name was Billy I think. The guy giving the orders, they called him Red. The two men Johnny killed were named Eli, and Bravin. There were six of them I seen inside. I don’t know how many outside. I thought it was Johnny up scrounging around for something to eat in the kitchen because he hardly ate his supper. I opened my door, and was walking down the hall when one of them grabbed me from behind.”
“ Were they here looking for Johnny?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, they never once mentioned his name. They wanted in the safe. When I told them I didn’t know the combination, Red got really angry. That’s when the shots could be heard upstairs.” Teresa responded. “ The one called Billy is the one who hit me when Red told him to leave me.”
“ I don’t buy it. Why would six men break into the house in the middle of the night? It makes no sense.” Murdoch said.
“ Nothing they did made sense.” Teresa said.
“ When will Johnny wake up Sam? I want to get to the bottom of this. I won’t have men breaking in my home, hurting Teresa, because they are looking for him.” Murdoch said as he stood up.
“ Stop it. I told you, they never once mentioned Johnny. They weren’t here for him.” Teresa said. “ This wasn’t his fault.”
Johnny heard a soft knock on his door. “ Yeah.” he said loud enough to be heard as he pushed himself to sit up more.
Teresa opened the door and walked in carrying a tray of food.
“ Please tell me you have some actual food for me to eat today.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Are you saying what me and Maria have been feeding you isn’t real food?” Teresa asked as she set the tray down on the table.
“ Yeah…….I mean no…….I mean, this is a cattle ranch, and I haven’t seen a piece of beef all week.” Johnny said.
“ Well I don’t have a steak, but will my pot roast do?” she asked.
“ It sure will querida. Thanks.” Johnny said with a smile as he took the plate from her. “ So, you want to tell me what happened?”
“ Nothing happened.” Teresa said as tears welled up in her eyes.
“ Teresa, this is me you’re talking too…..remember?” Johnny said as he reached out and gently touched the bruise on her face.
“ I have never been so scared in all my life. When the one tore my robe off me, I thought………..” she said as the tears fell.
“ There’s a special place for men like that.” Johnny said as he tried to comfort her the best he could. “ It wasn’t your fault. Some men are animals.”
“ Has Murdoch been up to see you yet?” she asked as she wiped her tears away a few minutes later.
Johnny knew Teresa was feeling shame for what happened.“ A couple times. He hasn’t once asked me about what happened though. Why?’” Johnny asked as he relished the taste of the pot roast.
“ Did you know any of those men?” she asked.
Johnny set his fork down and leaned back against his headboard. “ Is that what he thinks?”
“ I told him they never once mentioned your name.” she said.
“ Can you remember any names that might have been said that night?” he asked.
“ I don’t think I will ever forget that night.” Teresa said. “ The leader they called Red, at least I think he was the leader. He kept giving the orders. The two you shot and killed were named Eli, and Bravin. The other three I heard were Bob, Billy, and Pete.” Teresa responded.
“ The one called Red, did you happen to notice if he had a scar on the left corner of his mouth that’s about two inches long?” Johnny asked.
“ I think so.” she said. “ Do you know him?”
“ Not personally. His name is Red Angus, he likes robbing stagecoaches, payroll mainly, and stealing stock. Usually in New Mexico, and Arizona.” Johnny explained. “ Listen to me Teresa, they weren’t here for me. I promise you that. I need you to not say anything about what I just told you though. Especially to Murdoch or Scott. Because I know Red, and possibly two others with him, Murdoch will blame me for this. Can you promise me that?”
“ But shouldn’t you tell the sheriff in Green River about them?” she asked.
“ Hank, no. He’s a town sheriff. I know Red, he would cut Hank down. The law is one thing Red has no problem with killing.” Johnny said as he started eating his food again.
Teresa sat there watching him finish the rest of his food. “ It’s good to see you eating again.” she said as she stood up and put his plate on the tray. “ Alright Johnny. I won’t say anything.” she said.
“ Close the door on your way out would you? I’m a little tired after eating. I think I’ll take a nap.” Johnny said.
“ Okay. I’ll let Murdoch know so he doesn’t disturb you.” she said as she stepped out and closed his door.
Johnny scooted down in the bed and rest his head on the pillow, staring up at the ceiling. “I promise they will pay querida. You hurt someone I care about Red Angus. I don’t care how long it takes me, I’m going to hunt you and your two half brothers down.” he vowed silently.
“ It’s warmer than usual for this time of year.” Murdoch said.
“ Indian summer, is what they say weather like this is called.” Johnny said without opening his eyes.
“ How’s your wounds doing?” Murdoch asked.
“ Fine. Sam thinks I’ll be able to go back to work soon.” Johnny said.
“ You did a good job running the ranch while we were gone.” Murdoch said.
Johnny opened his eyes and looked at his father. “ Did that surprise you?”
“ No, a ranch this size isn’t easy to run. Some times I wonder how I do it.” Murdoch responded.
“ It beat driving a thousand head of cattle to Fort Bowie.” Johnny said. “ You have any trouble along the way?”
“ No, it was a pretty quiet trip.” he said.
Johnny sat up. “ Why don’t you stop beating around the bush and get it said old man.”
“ Alright son I will. Did you know those men who came here and attacked Teresa?” Murdoch asked.
“ Nope.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ I know you think they were here after me. Let me tell you, they weren’t. I never seen them before.”
“ You can understand why I needed to ask?” Murdoch said.
“ Oh yeah, I understand perfectly why.” Johnny said before walking back inside.
“ Is your brother not awake yet?” Murdoch asked.
“ I didn’t check. I assumed he would be down here already since Sam cleared him for work.” Scott responded.
“ Would you go wake him up please? That surveying has to be done today so that report can be in by next week.” Murdoch said.
Scott hurried upstairs and stopped at his brothers room, knocking once before opening the door. “ Vacation time is over little brother.” he said as he walked in and found the room empty. A letter lay on the bed.
I’m sorry but I have something I have to take care of that can’t wait any longer. Murdoch asked me if I knew the men who came here, and I told him I didn’t. Well that was only partly true. I don’t know them personally, but have heard of them. Especially the one called Red, and his two stepbrothers Billy and Pete Anderson. Don’t try and find me, you’ll only get yourself killed where I’m going. I have to do this, I have to have justice for what they did to Teresa. I don’t know how long it will take me, but if all goes right, I’ll see you again. Take care of Teresa for me. She’s a remarkable young lady.“ We’re fallen angels brought down to hell the good book says. Men beyond redemption. I feel the old man is never going to really accept me for who I was, or who I will always be. My whole life I’ve been judged by everyone around me. People who didn’t even know me, except for you and Teresa. The two of you accepted me as both Madrid, and Lancer. Maybe some day the old man will too. It was good while it lasted. Take care brother.
Scott turned and hurried down the back stairs to the kitchen. “ What did you say to him this time?” he demanded.
“ Say to who?” Murdoch asked.
“ Johnny. He left sometime in the night to go after the men who hurt Teresa. The men you accused him of coming here for him.” Scott responded as he tossed the letter on the table.
Murdoch picked the letter up and read it. “ So he did know them.” he said with anger. “ I asked him, and he lied to me.”
“ He didn’t lie to you Murdoch.” Teresa cut in. “ I talked with Johnny. He didn’t know them, they weren’t here for him. He knows of them is all. There’s a big difference.”
“ He should have told me that!” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Why, so you can yell at him like you do. Like you are right now?” Scott said. “ Teresa, what all did Johnny tell you about these men?”
“ I can’t Scott. I promised Johnny I wouldn’t.” Teresa responded.
“ Look, his letter says for me to not try and find him because I’ll only get myself killed were he’s going. Teresa, if he’s going back into Mexico, the Rurales will get him, and put him back in prison. He’s a wanted man below the border.” Scott said.
“ What do you mean he’s a wanted man?” Murdoch demanded.
“ For fighting in the Mexican war. Johnny stood up against the tyrants who run that country. The big ranchers and Porfirio Diáz who take what they want from who they want.” Teresa said with anger.
“ He should have told the sheriff what he knows about them.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ That boy is never going to be responsible.” he added before waling out of the kitchen.
“ Teresa, please.” Scott said.
“ He said Red usually works in Arizona, and New Mexico, stealing stock and robbing stagecoaches.” Teresa said finally.
“ Okay. If he usually works in that area, then he must be down near the Mexican border to drive the stock across and sell.” Scott said. “ I’m going after him.”
“ No you’re not.” Murdoch said as he walked back into the kitchen. “ You have a responsibility to this ranch.”
“ With all do respect sir, my responsibility is to my brother.” Scott responded firmly.
“ I won’t allow you to go down there and get yourself killed.” Murdoch responded.
“ It’s the slow season now. There’s enough hands to do what work needs to be done. You don’t need me here as much as my brother needs me.” Scott said.
“ What is wrong with you? Don’t you care about what happens to Johnny?” Teresa asked.
“ Yes I care, but there is nothing I can do if he is going to insist on being irresponsible, and take of knowing he will be killed.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Why………why did you bother to spend all those years searching for him if you’re only going to condemn him for doing what he had to do to stay alive before he came home?” she demanded. “ I don’t understand you at all Murdoch Lancer.”
“ What do you want me to do, go after him, beg him into coming back here? If what he’s looking for is more important than what he has right here, then I say let him go.” Murdoch said.
“ You don’t give at all do you. All pride and Johnny’s cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give.” Scott said. “ You may have given up on him, but I sir will not. I’m going after him, and not you or anyone else will stop me.”
Johnny rode into Prescott and stopped at the Ruffner Plaza Stables.
“ That’s a mighty fine looking animal mister. Want to board him for the night?”
“ How much?” Johnny asked as he pulled his rifle from the scabbard and removed his saddlebags.
“ No charge for you Madrid.” the man said.
“ Where’s the best place to get a hot bath and good nights sleep?”
“ Well, there’s two hotels in town can give ya everything you want as far as food, and freshening up. They both have baths in the rooms with hot and cold running water. The Head Hotel is a bit pricey. Hotel Vendome has all the same stuff, just don’t allow no female company, and then there’s the Palace Hotel and Saloon. They got some mighty fine ladies there who will gladly help with your bath and anything else you want. Reasonable price too. A big plate of steak and spuds is fifty cents, a cold beer cost five cents. The owner takes real good care of the place. Keeps it right respectable. I think the rooms are a dollar fifty a night. Three dollars if you want company for the night.” the man explained as he took Barranca’s reins and led the horse to a nice plush stall full of fresh straw bedding. A water trough at the back with a hay and grain bin on the side.
“ You have a nice place here. Nicest stable I’ve seen in a long time.” Johnny said.
“ Thank you. I figured a mans horse deserves to be taken care of right, and not like a lot of them stables I seen in towns with some boards stuck up and called a stall.” the man said as he unsaddled Barranca. “ You’re a bit out of your territory ain’t ya Madrid?”
Johnny looked at the man. “ Can I ask how you knew?”
“ How I knew you were Madrid? Four years ago I watched you gun down two of the best in Nogales. Never seen a man try so hard not to do it either. You gave those two every chance to walk away. Damn fools got what they deserved.” the man said as he walked out of the stall. “ You being up here, you hunting someone?”
“ I am. Red Angus and his two step-brothers Pete, and Billy. You seen them?” Johnny asked.
“ Pete and Billy Anderson, those two are no good trouble. Especially Billy. He got thrown out of the Palace about a week ago for roughing up one of the girls. The owner, Robert Brow, he don’t take kindly to his girls being slapped around and hurt. The Palace might be on what the town likes to call whiskey row, but if you ask me. It’s one of the finer drinking establishments in this town. He would have built it in the decent part of town if it weren’t for those damn women from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Those women got nothing better to do than make life hell for good folks.” the man said.
“ Yeah, I’ve known a few like that.” Johnny said.
“ Word has it, you was seconds away from a firing squad down in Mexico, when your old man found you and brought you back home.” he said.
“ Yeah, that’s why I’m hunting Red. He broke in our home two months ago. Beat my sister up and tried to rape her.” Johnny said.
“ Well, don’t know about the Anderson brothers, but Red, he’s been reeking havoc with Wells Fargo. Stealing their shipments and such. They got a right nice reward out for him, dead or alive.” the man said.
“ You got a name?” Johnny asked.
“ George Ruffner, I own this place.” the man responded.
“ Thank you for the info George. I appreciate it.” Johnny said.
“ You got trouble my gringo friend.” Juan said.
“ What trouble would that be?” Red asked.
“ The worst kind. There is a rumor going around that you and your two brothers……”
“ Step-brothers.” Red cut in.
“ Your two step-brothers and you are being hunted.” Juan responded.
“ Everybody knows Wells Fargo has a reward out for me, but ain’t nobody smart enough to find me.” Red said.
“ It is not Wells Fargo who brings you trouble. It is Johnny Madrid.” he said.
“ The gunfighter, now why the hell would we have trouble with him? Does he work for Wells Fargo now?” Red asked.
“ No, he does not, but you will wish he did. It would seem a few months ago you ventured into California, and broke into a big estancia in the San Joaquin valley. You remember this?” Juan asked.
“ Yeah I remember. Eli and Bravin got killed by someone upstairs before we could get the safe opened. Perfect setup too. Damn near all the hands were gone on a cattle drive, only a few Mexican workers around, and whoever was upstairs.” Red said.
“ Nice sweet little lady at that estancia too. Just ripe for the picking, ‘cept he wouldn’t let me.” Billy said. “ She had some nice………..”
“ Shut the hell up Billy.” Red ordered. “ What’s that got to do with Madrid hunting us?”
“ That was his familia, his home you broke into. The girl is his sister. He will not stop until all of you are dead. I have it on very good word that he is in Arizona, looking for you now. There will be no place you can hide from his gun. You are as good as dead amigo.” Juan said.
“ Let him come. I ain’t afraid of no half-breed gun-hawk.” Pete said.
“ Yeah, I’ll mess him up real good.” Billy added with a laugh.
“ He is the best west. Many a man has called him out, only to die from his gun. Some say he is Angel de la misericordia.” Juan said.
“ What the hell is that?” Billy asked.
“ Angel of Mercy. Only he will not have any mercy on your souls when he catches up to you. I am afraid because of this, I can no longer do business with you.” Juan said as he stood up.
“ Wait a minute, we’ve been doing business together for four years now.” Red said as he stood up.
“ True, and you have always brought me good stock, but I am afraid my employer does not wish to have any trouble from Madrid, and he can make some serious trouble. I wish you the best. Adios.” Juan said as he tossed a satchel on the table before walking out of the cantina.
“ You idiot. It’s because of you he’s following us.” Red snapped as he stood up. “ You and what you did to that girl. I don’t care if I ever see the two of you ever again. Get the hell away from me, and stay away.”
“ Now see here Red, it was Billy, not me that tried raping that girl. You got no call to throw me to the wolves.” Pete said.
“ Shut up Pete. I’m sick of your bellyaching all the time. You always were the weak one. Pa said you wouldn’t amount to a hill a beans when grown up. Guess he was right about something for a change.” Billy said. “ I want my share of the money before you leave Red.”
“ You think I’m going to pay you after what you just cost me.” Red said as he mounted his horse. “ Maybe next time you’ll do as you’re told. If you live that long.” he added before riding away.
“ Now what do we do?” Pete asked.
“ Madrid won’t come into Mexico, not with the Rurales wanting him. We go a little farther into Mexico.” Billy said.
“ Hey, I got an idea. If he’s wanted by the Rurales, maybe they will pay us nicely if we can bait him into coming into Mexico, so they can capture him?” Pete asked.
“ Little brother, you’re not as stupid as I thought you were.” Billy said as they mounted up, and headed south.
Scott left the small town of Aubrey Landing, headed south. He couldn’t believe how his brother had simply disappeared so fast. None of the towns he stopped in had seen a man fitting his description riding a palomino stallion. Deciding to just head south, if the weather held, he figured he could be in Phoenix in a week. Stopping in Barstow, he learned from the sheriff there that Red Angus, liked stealing stock from the ranchers down close to the border around Tucson, that he usually drove across the border to sell around El Paso.
“ Little brother, I don’t care how long it takes me, I am not giving up until I find you and take you back home where you belong.” Scott said aloud.
“ Yeah we seen Red and those two no good brothers he runs with!” Harvey Dietrich said. “ They killed two of my hands and stole about fifty head of cattle. Stampeded them right to the damn Mexican border.”
“ How long ago was this?” Johnny asked.
“ Three, four days ago. Word has it the brothers stayed in Mexico. One of my men spotted them headed south. He said Red split and headed east toward Laredo.” Harvey said. “ If you ain’t workin Madrid, I’d like to hire you ta put a stop to my cattle going across the border.”
“ I appreciate the offer Mister Dietrich, but not this time. It’s personal.” Johnny said.
“ You plan on following those two into Mexico, knowing how the Rurales feel about you?” Dietrich asked.
“ For what they did, I would follow them to hell and back.” Johnny said.
“ Stop by the ranch on your way back so I know you made it back out of there alive. You’re too good a person for those Rurales to kill.” he said.
“ Thanks, I will.” Johnny said.
“Don’t mind my asking, just what did those three do to make you track them down?” Dietrich asked.
“ Broke in my house, shot me, and assaulted my little sister.” Johnny responded before riding away.
“ Your little sister. Hell son, I thought you were an only child?” Dietrich asked.
“ It’s a long story.” Johnny said as he mounted up. “ Listen, I may be followed by a man named Scott Lancer, he’s my brother. Tell him to go home.”
“ Brother?” Harvey asked as Johnny rode away. “ You come back I want the full story on this family you got.” he yelled.
Johnny rode south for a mile, and crossed the Mexican border. He knew a place he could cross without being seen. Not knowing where the Anderson brothers went for sure, he stopped a half mile from the border in Átil, at the mission Santa Teresa de Álti cemetery and dismounted.
“ As I live and breath, it is no longer a boy I see before me, but a man.” Father Jacob said.
“ I wasn’t sure if you would remember me or not Father Jacob.” Johnny said as he walked over to a headstone, and knelt down.
“ How could I forget the little boy with ice-cold blue eyes.” Father Jacob said as he walked over to Johnny. “ Mary has been taking care of her grave. She said one day you would come back. She planted the rose bush two years ago.”
“ You mean little Mary?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes, only she has grown into a fine young lady now. She will be happy to know you are still alive.”
Johnny laughed as he placed his right hand on his mothers headstone. “ I thought for sure she would get adopted.”
“ She did, but she came back here when her stepfather started………..When she could get away, she did. Mary is a great help to me with the children.” Father Jacob said.
“ She always did have a good heart.” Johnny said as he brushed the dirt off the headstone.
“ It is good to see you, but I fear it is not safe for you to come here. The Rurales, they are searching every village and mission looking for you. ” Father Jacob said.
“ I need a place to rest for the night. It’s been a long hard ride.” Johnny said.
“ There is a small corral hidden in a wash out back you can take your horse too when you are finished here, and then come inside, I will feed you. We have much to catch up on my friend.” Father Jacob said.
“ General Madera, forgive me sir, but there are two gringos here to see you sir.” Captain Huerta said.
“ I am busy. What do they want?” the general demanded.
“ They want to know if the reward is still being offered for Johnny Madrid?” the captain responded.
“ Show them in.” General Madera ordered.
Captain Huerta opened the door and motioned for the two men to enter. “ The General is a very busy man, make it quick.”
“ I will warn you, I will have you both shot if you are wasting my time.” the general said firmly.
“ I promise you sir, we aren’t here to waste your time.” Billy said.
“ Take off your hat when you speak to the general.” Captain Huerta ordered.
“ Yes sir. My apologies sir. We meant no disrespect.” Billy said.
“ Captain Huerta says you can bring me the mestizo bandit Johnny Madrid. I would like to know how, because others before have tried, and failed.” the general said.
“ That’s because those others didn’t have Madrid tracking them for personal reasons like we have………..sir.” Billy responded.
“ And just what would these personal reasons be?” the general asked.
“ A few months ago, we………we broke into his estancia in California.” Pete said. “ Billy here beat up his little sister and tried to rape her.”
General Madera stood up and walked around to sit on the front of his desk, facing the men. “ Madrid has no family. His mother was killed when he was a child. Stop wasting my time.”
“ No sir, well I mean……Madrid’s old man found him and brought him home to California. We didn’t know it was his home we broke into that night to rob.” Pete said.
“ And who else was with you on this adventurous night?” the general asked.
“ There were six of us. Me and Pete, Bob Johnson, Red Angus, George Bravin, and Eli Hickman.” Billy said.
“ Madrid killed Eli and Bravin.” Pete added.
“ Captain Huerta, isn’t Red Angus the man who has been stealing cattle in Arizona, and New Mexico, and selling them here in Mexico? General Madera asked.
“ Yes sir. These two were seen as well just the other day.” the captain responded.
“ We have broken no laws here in Mexico sir.” Billy cut in.
“ I promise you, if you are lying to me, I will have you both shot.” the general said firmly.
“ We ain’t lying general.” Billy said.
“ We shall see. Go to town, my men will be watching. If Madrid shows, and we capture him, then you two will be rich men.” the general ordered.
“ Yes sir. Thank you sir.” Billy said as they left the generals office.
“ It would seem what we heard about the mestizo is true. It will be a pleasure having him in our custody again.” Captain Huerta said.
“ Madrid will come if what they say is true. I want you to station men all over town. Make them understand they are not to shoot him. If it comes down to him killing those two swines, let him. I want Madrid alive.” the general ordered.
“ Yes sir. I will make your orders very clear to my men. Will there be anything else sir?” Captain Huerta asked.
“ No, that will be all for now captain.”
“ So your mother lied to you all those years?” Father Jacob asked.
“ It would seem. I know Murdoch would like to know why she left, but it’s an answer I can never give him.” Johnny responded.
“ And what brings you back here if you have a family and fine home now?” the father asked.
“ I’m tracking three men who broke in a few months ago. They shot me, and assaulted the girl I told you is like a little sister to me, Teresa.” Johnny explained.
“ Isn’t that a job for the law?” he asked.
“ It is, but the law hasn’t been able to catch these men. They have been stealing stock and robbing stagecoaches for several years.” Johnny responded.
“ So I take it, you know who these men are?” Father Jacob asked.
“ Billy and Pete Anderson, and Red Angus.” he said.
“ I’m afraid it is not good news my friend. The Anderson brothers, they were here the other day. I heard them talking as they were leaving about going to see General Madera.” Father Jacob explained.
“ Who the hell…….. Sorry father. Who is General Madera?” Johnny asked.
“ President Diaz put him in charge of the Rurales. He is fair, but only to those with enough money. He is why there are so many peasants here at the church. They have lost everything to this man, Captain Huerta is under his command. The man is brutal.”
“ Captain Victoriano Huerta?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes. He is worse than the General. Many families have been destroyed because of this man. He gives peasants the option of joining his Rurales or dying.” Father Jacob explained. “ I am afraid there is a reward for your capture my friend.”
“ A reward huh. How much?” Johnny asked.
“ One hundred thousand pesos. You escaping the firing squad has angered the captain greatly. He is not a man to forget.” he said.
“ They don’t have that kind of money. Who’s paying it?” Johnny asked.
“ Two very wealthy ranchers, Venustiano Carranza, and Emilliano Zapata.” Father Jacob said.
“ Any particular reason why?” Johnny asked.
“ It would seem that both these men lost a son to you during the Mexican revolt. Though highly unlikely you killed them, they still blame you, and are willing to pay a large sum for your capture.” Father Jacob said as he stood up. “ You will be safe here for the night. Rest. I will bring you some food in the morning.”
“ Thank you father. A man like me doesn’t have many friends.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Perhaps that is because they will not let themselves see what I see in you.” Father Jacob responded as he opened the door. “ I will tell Mary in the morning that you are here. You need rest, and I am afraid that if I told her tonight, you would get none.”
“ You wanted to see me Father Jacob?” Mary asked.
“ Yes, come in and close the door.” Father Jacob responded. “ Please, have a seat.”
“ Have I done something wrong father?” Mary asked as she sat down.
“ No, of course not. Last evening we had a visitor come here to stay the night.” Father Jacob said. “ This person I know from when he was a boy, and so do you.”
“ Me father? I don’t understand.” Mary said.
“ Do you remember hearing about a gunfighter named Johnny Madrid?” he asked.
“ Yes, everybody knows of Johnny Madrid and how he tried to help the lesser people. What does he have to do with me?” she asked.
“ You know him, but perhaps you would remember him as Johnny Del A Vega?” he asked.
Mary stood up. “ Father Jacob, are you saying that the Johnny I knew and loved at the orphanage is Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?”
“ Yes. He is downstairs sleeping.” Father Jacob responded.
“ He’s here. My Johnny is still alive, and here?” she asked.
“ Yes. I did not tell you about him last night because he needed rest. Perhaps you would like to take him some breakfast?” the father said.
“ I……..I can’t believe it……..Father Jacob, he’s really here……..alive?” she stammered.
“ Yes. It would seem, he has found his family, and been living with them in California. He now has his father, an older brother, and little sister. Father Jacob explained. “ Come, I expect he will be very hungry. I told him you were here, so him seeing you will not be a surprise.” the father said as he walked to his door and opened it.
Johnny sat on the edge of the bed and stretched his arms and back. Hearing the door above open, he grabbed his pistol, stood up and went into the shadows, and waited.
“ Johnny, it’s alright.” Father Jacob said as he stepped into the light, followed by Mary.
Johnny stepped out of the shadows and stopped. Next to Father Jacob, stood his first love. Walking over he grabbed his shirt, and put it on.
“ I know the two of you have some catching up to do. I will see you later.” Father Jacob said before turning to go back up the ladder.
“ Hello Johnny.” Mary said as she walked over and set the tray of food down on the table next to the bed.
Johnny stood there with his shirt open, trying to slow his heartbeat and get his breathing under control.
“ I never thought I would see you again.” he said finally. “ You’ve grown up some.”
“ Well, that happens.” she said. “ Come and eat.”
Johnny walked over and took her hand in his. “ I…….” he said as he gently touched her face. “ I never stopped thinking about you.”
“ You look good Johnny.” Mary said as her heart started racing.
Johnny slowly lowered his lips to hers as his heart beat faster. Hearing her moan, he deepened the kiss as he pulled her into his chest more.
“ Wow………you….you didn’t kiss me like that the last time I seen you.” Mary said as she turned her head, and listened to his heartbeat, as her hands rubbed his bare chest.
“ Coming here, I never expected to see you.” Johnny said as he rest his head on top of hers.
“ Father Jacob, told me something interesting before we came down here. Is it true?” she asked as she stepped away from him, and sat down on the bed.
“ If you mean who I became to survive, yes, it’s true. A lot has happened in the ten years since we seen each other.” Johnny responded.
“ He said you found your family. That you have a brother and sister now in California.” she said.
“ Yeah. My mother lied to me. My father never kicked us out. She left him in the middle of the night.” He said as he sat down in a chair. “ She knew I had an older brother. Teresa is Murdoch’s ward, but she’s like a sister to me and Scott.”
“ Scott, is he your older brother?” she asked.
“ Yeah. His mother died in child birth. He was taken from Murdoch also, and raised back in Boston by his grandfather.” Johnny explained.
“ So if you have a family, why are you here in Mexico?” she asked.
“ A few months ago some men came to Lancer to steal. They shot me, but one of them assaulted Teresa. I’ve been tracking them. One of them went to Laredo, but the other two are here in Mexico. Father Jacob said they were here a few days ago.” Johnny explained.
“ So you risk being captured by the Rurales and killed, just to kill these two men?” she asked as she stood up.
“ Teresa is seventeen years old Mary. The law hasn’t been able to capture these men for stealing stock and robbing stagecoaches. I’m not going home until they pay for hurting my sister.” Johnny responded.
“ You said Lancer. Is that what your birth name is, Johnny Lancer?” Mary asked.
“ Yes. Lancer is a ranch. One hundred thousand acres in the San Joaquin valley. Me and Scott each own a third of it with our father.” he explained.
“ Go home Johnny. The Rurales will kill you. Captain Huerta is brutal. There is a big reward for your capture.” she pleaded. “ Please. I don’t want you to be killed.”
“ He won’t kill me. Mary, I gave my word to Teresa, that I would make them pay for hurting her. I’m a man of my word. When I make a promise, I keep it.” Johnny said as he stood up, and walked over to her. “ Come back to Lancer with me. Let me get you out of here. Let me take care of you.”
“ I never stopped loving you. A day hasn’t gone by I haven’t thought about you, wondering if you were still alive.” she said.
“ If I were to go back with you, what then?” she asked.
“ I would make you my wife. I know Murdoch, and Scott would love you, and Teresa would be ecstatic having another woman besides Maria in the house.” Johnny said.
“ Who’s Maria?” she asked.
“ Our cook. It would seem she helped deliver me.” Johnny responded. “ Will you come back with me?”
Mary put her arms around his neck “ It’s quite an offer. Is there an orphanage near this big ranch?”
“ There’s one in Morro Coyo. Why?” Johnny responded.
“ Because working with children is what I love to do.” Mary said as she started running her hands over his chest, playing with his chest hairs.
“ I know I can make you happy Mary. Make me happy by coming back with me.” Johnny said as his body started to respond to her touch.
“ If I do, will you go back now, and forget about these men?” she asked as she ran her hands lower.
“ I told you. I gave my word. A man isn’t much of a man if his word isn’t any good.” Johnny responded.
“No, I guess not.” she said as took his hands in hers and guided him back to the bed. “ Whether I go with you or not I don’t know. I do know I’m not letting you get away without making love to me.” she said as she lay back on the bed as the sun started to shine in through the small window.
Scott rode up to the main house of the Diamond A ranch and dismounted.
“ Can I help you?” a man asked.
“ Are you the owner?” Scott asked.
“ I am, Harvey Dietrich, and you are?” Dietrich asked.
“ Scott Lancer, I’m looking for my brother. I was hoping maybe he had stopped by here?” Scott said.
“ Scott Lancer, I was told you might be stopping by. Johnny was here, he told me to tell you to go back home.” Dietrich responded.
“ Mister Dietrich, sir, all I want to do is make sure the Rurales don’t get my brother again, because this time they will kill him.” Scott explained.
“ Álti,Sonora. There’s a mission there called Santa Teresa de Álti. His mother is buried in the cemetery there. The man who runs the place is a good friend of his. Ride southwest a mile and you will come to a deep wash, cross that and you’ll be in Sonora, Mexico, ride another half a mile, and you’ll see the mission.” Dietrich explained. “ He fully intends on finding the Anderson brothers and killing them. Red Angus split from them and went to Laredo after they killed two of my hands, and stole fifty head of my cattle, and drove them across the border to sell.”
Scott mounted up. “ How long ago was he here sir?”
“ Two days ago.” he said. “ Listen, you find him, bring him back by here. He has some explaining to do about this family. About you.”
“ I will sir. Thank you.” Scott said before riding away, headed southwest.
Johnny stood next to Barranca. “ You sure you wish to do this?” Father Jacob asked.
“ I have to father. I made a promise.” Johnny said as he walked up to Mary. “ I’m coming back for you.” he said before kissing her.
“ Please be careful.” she said as he mounted up and rode away.
“ You love him don’t you?” Father Jacob asked as they walked back into the church.
“ Yes. He asked me to go back to California with him, and be his wife.” Mary said.
“ Will you go?” he asked.
“ I don’t know.” Mary responded.
“ Can I offer some advice?” the father asked. “ Listen to your heart. I have found that doing so will lead you in the right way every time.”
“ Even when it means being the wife of Johnny Madrid?” she asked.
“ He is only Madrid while he seeks justice for what was done to his sister. You would be marrying John Lancer, the rancher.” Father Jacob said.
“ But are they not one in the same father?” she asked.
“ Yes, but a part of him will always be John Madrid. You have to look with your heart and see the man you say you love and want to marry. If you cannot do that, then I feel he will have his heart broken when he comes back here, and he will come back for you. He is a man of his word.” the father said before walking away.
Teresa sat in the blue chair doing needlepoint, glancing at Murdoch once in a while sitting at his desk, like every night, going over the books. “ Do you even care about your sons?” she asked suddenly
Murdoch looked up at her. “ Young lady, I am not going to get in another argument with you over Scott.”
“ I said sons, not son Murdoch.” she said firmly as she set her needlepoint down, and stood up.
“ It’s getting late. The matter concerning Scott and that boy is no longer open for discussion.” Murdoch responded firmly as he stood up.
“ You’re a real piece of work. All the money, all the years searching, and you throw Johnny away like he’s nothing more than a burden to you, and all because he is keeping a promise to me. Tell me something Murdoch, if Billy Anderson had raped me, would that make you still love your son?” she demanded.
“ That is enough. I will not be having this discussion with you.” Murdoch said before walking over to the sideboard, pouring a shot of whiskey, and downing it. “ What’s done is done. It;s in the past.”
“ Oh now I see how it is. When it’s something you want to stay in the past, that’s alright. You forget about it, but when it comes to Johnny, and his past, you can’t. Or I should say won’t forget it.” Teresa said before going to bed, and leaving Murdoch standing there alone.
Walking back over to his desk, Murdoch opened the bottom drawer and pulled out the letter from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.
I have learned that two of the three men your son Johnny is tracking, have crossed into Sonora, Mexico. Your youngest son if he crosses into Mexico, will be hunted down if learned he is back in Sonora. A General Madera, and Captain Huerta have both vowed to capture Madrid again. Especially Captain Huerta, for your son Johnny is responsible for the death of his cousin during the Mexican revolt he led. A reward of one hundred thousand pesos is being offered for his capture, alive. This reward is because of your son leading against a Mexican revolt against corruption and the big ranches taking from the little man. Something General Madera likes using the Rurales to do. There is a mission in Alti, Sonora, Mexico, where his mother it would seem is buried. I have learned Madrid will go there. It is a safe place of refuge for him to hold up and rest. The two men, Billy and Pete Anderson have made a deal with the Rurales to use themselves as bait to capture Madrid for the reward. I am sorry, but there is nothing further I can do to help your son.
Sincerely Allen Martin, Pinkerton Detective Agency.
“ How could I be such a damn fool.” Murdoch said softly. As he sat back in his chair. A lone tear running down his cheek.
“ Where the hell is he?” Pete demanded.
“ How should I know. He was seen crossing into Mexico three days ago. Maybe he’s with that sweet little thing we seen at the church.” Billy responded as he stood up and walked over to a woman standing at the bar. Grabbing her hand, he jerked her toward the room at the end of the bar.
“ That all you can think about?” Pete asked as he stood up, and walked to the back door.
“ Can’t think of any better way to pass the time. She’s far better to be with than your crabby company.” Billy responded.“ Where the hell you going?”
“ Out back to take a piss.” Pete said as he jerked the door open and walked out, slamming the door closed.
Walking out to a tree in the back, Pete started to undo his pants when a cold metal pressed against his temple.
“ You so much as flinch and I’ll blow your fucking head off.” Johnny said softly as he cocked the pistol. “ Where’s your brother?”
Pete swallowed hard as sweat ran down his face.
“ Don’t make me ask you again.” Johnny said.
“ Inside.” Pete said.
“ Where inside?” Johnny asked.
“ With a whore in the small room at the end of the bar.” Pete responded.
“ Okay, you’re going to take a little walk with me. Move.” Johnny said as he shoved Pete forward.
“ I never touched the girl. I swear it was my brother who tore her gown off and hit her.” Pete pleaded as he walked away from the cantina toward a wash at the back.
“ You were still there.” Johnny said as he pressed the pistol barrel into Pete’s back. “ Stop.”
Pete stopped. “ You fire that gun and the Rurales will hear it.”
“ I know all about your little deal with the Rurales. You won’t see a dime of that reward.” Johnny said as he reached down and pulled his knife from the inside of his left boot.
“ Please don’t kill me.” Pete begged.
“ This is for breaking in my house, and for all the stock you’ve stole, and good men you’ve killed.” Johnny said as he brought the knife around and sliced Pete’s throat open.
Pete seen the flash of silver before feeling the burning pain and blood running down his throat. Reaching up, he desperately tried to scream as he pressed both hands on his throat, trying to stop the flow of blood. Dropping to his knees as Johnny stepped around in front of him before falling forward dead.
Johnny wiped the blood off his knife, and started back to the cantina. Walking in the back door, he drew his pistol and started toward the room at the end of the bar. “ Solo quédte donde estás, ¿ entiendes?” ( Just stay were you are, understand?)
“ Si.” ( Yes )
“ ¿El hmbre todavía en esa habitación?” ( The man still in that room?)
“ Si.” ( Yes )
“ Llámalo. Dile que los Rurales quieren hablar con él.” ( Call him out. Tell him the Rurales want to speak to him. )
“ Gringo, los Rurales, quieren hablarte.” ( Gringo, the Rurales, they want to speak to you.) the bartender said.
“ Tell them I’ll be out when I’m done.” Billy responded.
“ Ahora gringo. No desean que se les haga esperar.” ( Now gringo. They do not wish to be kept waiting.)
“ Ven aquí.” ( Come over here.) Johnny ordered the bartender.
“ Por favor no me hagas daño Madrid. Yo tengo una familia.” ( Please do not hurt me Madrid. I have a family.)
“ No voy a herirte. Es a él quiero.” ( I’m not going to hurt you. It’s him I want.) Johnny said as he walked over to stand by the door.
The bartender walked down to the end of the bar and stopped as the door opened.
Billy walked out and froze as a gun barrel pressed against his skull. “ You seem to have gotten the upper hand on me Madrid.”
“ Start walking toward the back door.” Johnny ordered.
“ Can I at least put my boots on first?” Billy asked.
“ You should have thought about that before you came out of the room……….Move.”
“ ¿Te debe dinero?” ( Does he owe you any money?) Johnny asked.
“ Si. Los dos no pagaron nada los cuatro días que estuvieron aquí.” ( Yes. The two of them not pay anything the four days they been here.) the bartender responded.
Johnny reached in his pocket and pulled out some money. “ ¿Eso cubrirá lo que deben?” ( Will that cover what they owed?)
“ Si Madrileñl. Gracias.” ( Yes senor Madrid. Thank you.) the bartender said as he took the money.
“ Move Billy.” Johnny ordered as he shoved Billy out the back door. “ Start walking toward the wash. You can join your brother Pete.”
Billy walked to the wash and stopped just behind his brother laying with his head in a pool of blood. “ You had no call to kill my little brother. He didn’t do anything.” Billy said.
“ Drop the gun Madrid!” came a voice from behind. “ Drop it now, or I will kill you were you stand.”
Johnny stood there, not moving as he kept the pistol pressed into Billy’s back. “ Who might you be?” he asked.
“ Hector Gonzales. There are six Rurales, all with their rifle aimed at you right now.” he said.
“ You kill me, and Captain Huerta won’t be happy.” Johnny said. “ He wants me alive.”
“ Si, he does, but he said nothing about what condition you could be in.” Gonzales responded. “ Drop your pistol now mestizo.”
Johnny cocked the pistol, spun, and fired as he dove to his left, hitting the Rurale standing next to Gonzales. Seeing Billy scrambling back toward the cantina, Johnny aimed and fired, hitting the man in the back. A shot rang out, spitting sand and rocks up in his face.
“ El siguiente ve en ti.” ( The next one goes in you.) Bringas said.
“ Stand up.” Gonzales ordered.
Johnny stood up and kept his arms out away from his body.
“ You are under arrest for crimes against my country, and for the murder of those two men.” Gonzales said. “ Go get his horse and bring it here.
“ I’m afraid the animal bolted, and took off Captain.” a soldier said.
“ That’s because Barranca don’t like the smell of pigs.” Johnny said.
“ Then you will walk to General Madera and Captain Huerta.” Captain Gonzales ordered. “ I would think twice about using that smart mouth of yours mestizo. It is a long six day walk to the General, and I think it will be a very hot one for you.”
Rurale Bringas walked up to Madrid. “ You killed my cousin.” he said before slamming his rifle butt into Johnny’s lower back, dropping him to his knees.
Scott rode up to the mission and stopped. Dismounting as he was greeted by a man in a brown robe. “ Father.”
“ What can I do for you young man?” Father Jacob asked.
“ Is there someplace we can talk in private sir?” Scott asked.
“ Certainly. We can go to my office.” Father Jacob responded as they started inside the church. “ Mary, this young man needs t speak to me in private. Please take the children outside to play.”
“ Yes Father.” Mary said, staring at Scott. “ You are Scott Lancer?” she asked. “ Children, go outside, and play in the yard. Susie, I’m leaving you in charge for a few minutes.”
“ I take it since you know my name, Johnny was here?” Scott asked as they walked into the office, and Mary closed the door.
“ He was. I’m afraid he left this morning.” Mary said.
“ He’s going to get caught and get himself killed. I’m trying to stop him.” Scott said.
“ I am afraid it’s too late Mister Lancer. We both tried to talk him out of going, but he said he made a promise to a young lady he intends to keep.” Father Jacob responded.
“ Our little sister Teresa. My brother is a man of his word I’m afraid. Regardless of what it could cost him.” Scott responded. “ Do you know where the brothers were staying at?”
“ Word has it they were in the village of Tajito, but I am afraid the Rurales are there also. Your brother may already be captured.” Father Jacob said.
“ How far is it to this village?” Scott asked.
“ Two hours. If you follow the wash out back south, it will take you right to the back of the village.” Father Jacob explained.
“ Given your age, you wouldn’t happen to be Mary Parker would it?” Scott asked.
“ How did you know that?” she asked.
“ My brother told me about a young lady he fell in love with, his first love I believe, when he was in the orphanage. He told me how the two of you did everything together. Then one day you got adopted and left.” Scott explained.
“ Johnny is still my first and only love. He promised me he would come back and take me with him to California, to be his wife.” Mary said.
Scott was taken aback by what she said. Never in his wildest dreams would he every suspect his little brother to be so in love with a girl from his childhood, that he would ask her to be his wife. Ten years later. “ I cannot speak for Teresa, or my father, but I can say you will be welcome to the family. Johnny needs a good woman to settle him down. To give him a reason to care about himself more.” Scott said as he started to the door. “ I better get going. Thank you for the information father.”
“ Johnny is as you say, a good, kind, caring person. Please find him, and bring him back.” Father Jacob said as they walked outside.
“ I don’t plan on breaking this young lady’s heart, and I don’t think Johnny does either.” Scott responded as he mounted up.
“ You two, ride ahead and tell General Madera we have caught Madrid and are bringing him in.” Captain Gonzales ordered.
“ Captain, do you think it is wise to leave you with just two men to guard him?” Juan Almonte asked. “ It is still five days to the General.”
“ We will be fine. Go.” the Captain ordered.
Johnny tried to slow his breathing down as the Captain talked. His arms and shoulders screaming in pain. Looking up at the sun, he knew sunset was at least two hours away. The rope binding his hands together started cutting into his flesh.
“ Bringas, check his ropes. Make sure they are still tight.” the captain ordered.
“ Any chance of getting a drink of water?” Johnny asked as Bringas dismounted and came over, jerking hard on the rope. “ Guess not.”
Bringas checked the ropes and smiled, showing tobacco stained, rotting teeth before he hit Johnny hard in the face, knocking him down.
“ Enough!” Captain Gonzales yelled.
“ Te haré gritar de dolor mestizo.” ( I will make you scream in pain mestizo.) Bringas said softly before licking his lips.
“ Move out.” Captain Gonzales ordered.
“ Después de que el Capitán esté dornido, y es mi hora de protegerte. Entonces comienza mi diversión. Pagarás por matar a mi primo.” ( After the captain is asleep, and it is my time to guard you. Then my fun starts. You will pay for killing my cousin.)
Scott rode into Tajito and stopped at the cantina at the end of town. Looking around as he dismounted, he seen two men with belts loaded with what looked like rifle shells draped over their chest, sitting in the shade across the street talking. Walking inside the cantina, he found but two old men siting in a corner sharing a bottle of what appeared to be cactus juice.
“ You speak English?” Scott asked.
“ Si, some.” the bartender responded.
“ I’m looking for a man. He may have come in here earlier today.” Scott said.
The bartender leaned closer to Scott. “ Senor, if you are looking for Madrid, the Rurales took him away. Six days ride from here to the south. He is being made to walk.”
Scott pulled out some money and handed the man two ten dollar bills. “ I’m grateful.”
Just after three in the morning Bringas took over guarding Madrid. Walking over to the prisoner, he untied his bandanna from around his neck and put it around Madrid’s mouth.
“ I told you I would have fun with you. That I would make you scream in pain half-breed.” he said as he jerked Johnny’s head back while tying the bandanna tightly around his mouth. Walking back around to face Madrid, Bringas slugged him hard in the gut, making him cough. Blow after blow struck him in his gut, chest and face, snapping his head back as he tasted blood. A blow to his left eye split it open, allowing blood to run down his cheek. Bringas walked around behind Johnny and started pounding his fist into his lower back, hitting his kidneys and spine, causing excruciating pain, for two hours trying to make him cry out. Removing his knife, Bringas put the blade against Johnny’s ribs. “ Let’s see if this makes you scream.” he said as he slowly cut across his chest. Not getting the response he wanted, Bringas grabbed him by his hair, and jerked his head back. “Grita y pararé.” ( Scream, and I will stop.) He said as he cut Johnny again on his left side, before walking around to face him. “ Those are for killing my cousin.”
Johnny used every ounce of strength he had and lashed out, hitting Bringas square in the chest with both feet, knocking him to the ground.
Bringas got up, anger in his eyes. “ Te voy a destripar por ese mestizo.” ( I’m going to gut you for that mestizo.)
“ Enough! Get away from him now.” Captain Gonzales ordered as he walked over and seen the blood on Johnny’s chest and face. Walking over to Bringas, the captain backhanded him hard. “Si muere antes de que lo llevemos de vuelta al General Madera, Haré que lo pongan frente a un pelotón de fusilamiento.” (If he dies before we get him back to General Madera, I will have you put in front of a firing squad.) he said with anger right before a shot rang out, dropping Rurale Canedo as he rose from his bed.
“ Yaquis!” the captain yelled as another shot rang out, hitting him in the back.
Bringas crouched low, pistol in hand as he looked at Captain Gonzales dead a few feet away. “ Muéstrate.”( Show yourself.) he yelled as a bullet slammed into him, knocking him backwards, his pistol flying from his hand.
Scott came out of the brush, Henry rifle in hand, and hurried to his brothers side. “ Let’s get you out of here.” he said as he removed the kerchief, and went to retrieve the knife to cut the ropes binding his brother to the tree branch.
“ Hey brother.” Johnny said barely above a whisper.
“ Hey. I can’t leave you alone for one second can I?” Scott asked as he cut the rope, and held onto Johnny so he wouldn’t fall. “ Can you ride?”
“ I can make it.” Johnny said as he glared at Bringas, trying to crawl to his pistol.
“ I found Barranca, or rather he found me. Sit tight while I go get the horses.” Scott said as he hurried back into the darkness.
Johnny stood up, and staggered over to the captain, removing his pistol. Spinning the cylinder, he walked over to Bringas, and pushed him over onto his back. Seeing the knife laying a few feet away, he picked it up, and came back over, kneeling down next to the man.
“ Nunca saldrás vivo de Mexico. Te perseguirán por esto y te enviarán directamente al infierno.” ( You will never get out of Mexico alive. They will hunt you down for this, and send you straight to hell.)
“El infierno es exactamente a donde vas.” ( Hell is exactly where you are going.) Johnny said as he plunged the knife deep in Bringas gut. “ A ver si gritas.” ( Let’s see if you scream.) he said as he twisted the knife.
Scott came back with the horses and seen what his brother did. A sick feeling hitting him. “ Come on Johnny, we need to get out of here. Those shots I fired can carry a long ways.” he said as he helped his brother stand up and walk over to Barranca.
“ Hey boy. You did good.” he said as he patted the stallions face. “ Nice shooting.” Johnny said as Scott helped him get in the saddle.
“ Thanks brother.” Scott responded as he went to his horse and mounted up.
“ You should try and get some sleep.” Father Jacob suggested.
“ I can’t sleep. Not until I know Johnny is safe.”
“ I am sure Scott will find his brother and bring him back. Will you be leaving us?” he asked.
“ I don’t know father. I love working here with the children, but I’m feeling like if I leave, and go to California with him, this is what I will have. Worrying all the time about him. Wondering if he is going to come back to me every night.” Mary said. “ What kind of life would that be for our children?”
“ Like I said before, you need to follow your heart. Nobody but you can make this decision. If you really do love him, then you should not be having doubts.” Father Jacob said as the front door burst open.
“ Father, I need your help.” Scott said before turning and going back outside.
Father Jacob and Mary hurried outside, and found Scott with a badly injured Johnny. “ Oh my. Take him around back. There’s a hidden door to a place under the mission were we can hide him. Mary, come with me. We will need hot water, bandages, and needle and thread.” he ordered before hurrying back inside.
Scott led Barranca around back and found Father Jacob standing at an open door behind thick mesquite bushes. “ He’s been cut across his chest, and on the left side.” he said as they got Johnny down and carried him inside, placing him on the bed.
“ Did you kill all of them?” Father Jacob asked.
“ The three that were with him.” Scott responded. “ He killed one when they caught him according to the bartender at the cantina.”
“ Just three, that means two got away. Probably sent ahead to tell General Madera he was captured. Go hide your horses in the wash. There’s a thicket of mesquite you can hide them behind. Nobody knows about the cutout in the bank.” Father Jacob ordered as he started to remove Johnny’s shirt.
“ These cuts are deep. They will take many stitches to close.” Father Jacob said.
“ He was strung up to a branch above his head. One of the Rurales was beating him when I was able to get close enough.” Scott said as he started rolling up his sleeves to wash his hands.
“ The Rurales have a deep hate for your brother..” Father Jacob said as he started cleaning out the cut across Johnny’s chest, as Mary brought a basket with what the father asked for.
“ Thank you Mary, go back upstairs and let me know the minute you see any Rurales coming.” Father Jacob ordered.
“General Madera, señor, todos están muertos.” (General Madera, sir, they are all dead.) Captain Huerta said.
“¿Quién es el capitán muerto?” (Who is dead captain?) the general asked.
“ Capitán González y sus hombres.” (Captain Gonzales and his men.) he responded. “ Sus cuerpos están afuera ahora.” (Their bodies are outside now.)
“ Y Madrid?” (And Madrid?) the general asked.
“ Su cuerpo no está con ellos señor.” (His body is not with them sir.) the captain said.
General Madera stood up. “ ¿Me estás diciendo que el Capitán González y tres de mis soldados están muertos?” ( You telling me Captain Gonzales, and two of my soldiers are dead?) Genreral Madera asked.
“ Si señor.” ( Yes sir.)
“ ¿Dónde están los dos que cabalgaron diciendo que fue caprurado?” ( Where are the two who rode in saying he was captured?) the general asked.
“ Afuera señor.” ( Outside sir.)
“ Que esos dos entierren al Capitán González y los demás.” ( Have those two bury Captain Gonzales and the others.) the general ordered.
“ That is a lot of stitches. He’s not going to be able to ride for some time I’m afraid.” Father Jacob said.
“ He has to father. We can’t stay here. The Rurales will find him.” Scott said.
“ Nobody knows about this place under the mission. It has been here for almost a hundred years. The Franciscans built it as a place to hide children during raids and attacks. You are both safe here” Father Jacob responded as the door above opened.
“ Father Jacob, Rurales are coming.” Mary said.
“ Go back upstairs. Keep him quiet, and blow out those lamps so they don’t see the light if they go into my office.” the father ordered as he started upstairs. “ I will be back as soon as I can to stitch up that other cut.”
Scott blew out the lamps and sat down next to his brother, pistol in hand, and waited.
“ What can I do for you men?” Father Jacob asked.
“ We are looking for the outlaw gunfighter Johnny Madrid. He killed several Rurales and a blood trail leads us to here.” a Rurale said.
“ He was here, but I sent him on. I told him there are children here, and that I do not wish them to be hurt. You are free to look.”
After several minutes of looking in every room, all but one Rurale went back outside.
“ It would not be smart of you to lie to me father. The general wants that swine, and he will find him, and anyone who helps him will face a firing squad.” the man said before leaving.
Father Jacob walked outside and watched as the Rurales rode away.
“ They won’t be back.” Father Jacob said.
“ They gone?” Scott asked.
“ Yes, they are gone. Mary, please bring me some clean water and more bandages. His chest is going to need to be wrapped tightly after I get him stitched up.”
“ He’s lost a lot of blood father.” Scott said. “ Johnny has a habit of running a fever when he gets injured.”
“ Yes. When I dug a bullet out of him years ago, he was a very sick boy for almost a week. He was in the lords hands.” Father Jacob responded as Mary brought more water and bandages.
“ Why did they do this to him?” she asked.
“ I heard the one who did this say it was for his cousin. He said Johnny killed him.” Scott said.
“ He has bruises starting that are deep. Anyone who beats on a man who cannot defend himself is nowt a man at all. He is less than an animal.” Mary said.
“ Only God has the right to judge another Mary. In his eyes, we are all equal.” Father Jacob said as he stitched up the second cut.
“ He got as good as he deserved from Johnny in the end.” Scott said.
“ Meaning your brother played the roll of judge, jury, and executioner?” Mary asked harshly.
“ You see what was done to him. He was tied up, his hands above his head, unable to fight back.” Scott responded. “ Johnny had every right to do what he did.”
“ It seems men don’t need an excuse to take another mans life as long as they feel they are in the right. He’s no better than those Rurales.” Mary said before heading back upstairs.
“ You need to drink plenty of water young man to help replenish the blood you lost.” Father Jacob ordered.
“ Seems like it’s getting to be a habit of you sewing me up. I’m grateful.” Johnny said softly.
“ Well, it’s only been three days, but your wounds are healing nicely. I’m glad you didn’t get a fever this time.” Father Jacob said as he walked to the ladder. “ I’ll send some food down for you to eat shortly.”
Johnny looked at Scott standing at the end of the bed. “ I thought I was dreaming.” Johnny said.
“ Which part?” Scott asked as he walked over and poured a glass of water, and handed it to Johnny.
“ You. I could have sworn I told you not to follow me.” Johnny said as he took the glass of water.
“ If that’s your way of saying thank you for saving your life, you’re welcome.” Scott said as he sat down.
“ It’s not. I owe you my life Scott. Thank you.” Johnny said.
“ That’s what brothers do. If you ever try leaving in the middle of the night again, especially to come to Mexico, * THAT * little brother will be a big mistake on your part.” Scott said with a smile. “ She’s my little sister too.”
“ I had to do it. I’m the one who failed to protect her that night Scott.” Johnny said softly.
“ You didn’t fail her brother. Those men broke in the house in the middle of the night. You and Teresa were both asleep.” Scott said.
“ So they old man send you after me?” he asked.
“ No, I came against his wishes. My place is with you Johnny, keeping you safe. Not working on that damn ranch he cares so much about.” Scott explained.
“ We both own part of that damn ranch brother.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ You going back?” Scott asked.
“ I’m not going to let him run me off what’s rightfully mine brother.” Johnny said.
“ That’s the answer I was hoping to hear.” Scott responded.
“ We have a problem though. A big one.” Johnny said. “ Captain Gonzales, when he caught me, he mentioned a couple names, General Madera and Captain Huerta. I know of both these men, they’re brutal. I fought against Huerta in the Mexican revolt.”
“ Is that where you killed Bringas cousin?” Scott asked.
“ Probably. I don’t remember everyone I’ve killed Scott. Especially during that war.” Johnny said. “ Hell, he could be blaming me just to have someone to blame.”
“ Probably right. Either way, I’m proud of you brother.” Scott said.
“ For what?” he asked.
“ For standing up for what you believe in, and trying to stop what was wrong.” Scott responded.
“ Glad someone is.” Johnny said as he shifted his weight.
“ So, why are they really after you?” Scott asked.
“ Two wealthy ranchers named Venustiano Carranza, and Emilliano Zapata. They each lost a son during the revolt. They’re paying one hundred thousand pesos for me, dead or alive.” Johnny responded.
“ That’s a lot of money. You said we have a big problem?” Scott asked.
“ President Diaz put General Madera in charge of the Rurales. He has a captain with him who swore he wouldn’t rest until I was dead. Neither one actually. A Captain Huerta.” Johnny explained.
“ Well, he will have a hard time finding you once we leave Mexico.” Scott said.
“ Captain Huerta, knowing I’m still alive, he’s not going to go away until we come face to face. He’ll follow me to California Scott. A man like him doesn’t stop just because he’s a captain in the Mexican Army.” Johnny said.
“ So you’re saying he could ambush us on the way home?” Scott asked.
“ Ambush, no. He’s ruthless, but he likes to face his opponent when he kills them.” Johnny responded. “Most likely he knows about Lancer, and is headed there now since he hasn’t come here.”
“ Some Rurales came the day I brought you here.” Scott said. “ So what’s up with you and Mary?” he asked.
“ What do you mean?” Johnny asked.
“ She said you asked her to come with us back to Lancer and be your wife. Is that true?” he asked.
“ Yeah Scott, it is.” Johnny responded.
“ Is she the Mary you told me about that time?” he asked.
“ Yeah. Has she been around at all?”
“ She was at first. She’s pretty upset about what you did. She feels men have no right to kill each other. That men use any excuse they can as long as they feel they are in the right when they kill someone.” Scott responded. “ Her words brother, not mine.”
“ Guess that’s a pretty solid answer then on going back with me.” Johnny said.
“ What do you mean?” Scott asked.
“ She can’t handle the Madrid part of me.” Johnny said as Father Jacob came down the ladder with food.
“ I am afraid she is very confused. I told her a part of you will always be John Madrid. That she will have to look with her heart and see the man she says she loves and wants to marry. If she cannot do that, then I feel you will have your heart broken when you came back.” Father Jacob said as he set the tray of food down.
“ ¿Querías verme general?” ( You wanted to see me General Madera?) Captain Huerta asked.
“ Si, Quiero que hagas algo por mí. Madrid tiene una familia, un rancho en California, en el valle de San Joaquin. Quiero que caces a ese sucio cerdo y lo mates. ¿Me entiendes?” ( Yes. I want you to do something for me. Madrid has family, a ranch in California, in the San Joaquin valley. I want you to hunt that filthy swine down and kill him. Do you understand me?) General Madera ordered.
“ Si señor, pero ya ha cruzado la frontera.” ( Yes sir, but he is back across the border by now.) Captain Huerta responded.
“ No me importa dónde esté. Encontrario, y matario…..ahora.” ( I don’t care where he is at. Find him, and kill him……..now.) the general said with anger. “ Y capitán, no regrese a menos que tenga pruebas de que Madrid está muerto.” ( And Captain, don’t come back unless you have proof Madrid is dead.)
“ Personalmente, le traeré la cabeza en un saco de arpillera, señor.” ( I will personally bring you his head in a burlap sack sir.) the captain said before saluting, turning and leaving.
“ Are you sure you want to leave?” Father Jacob asked. “ It’s only been two weeks. Those wounds are still healing.”
“ I need to. I’ve been away from home to long now.” Johnny responded.
“ It does me good to hear you say that. I’m happy you have family and a home now Johnny.” Father Jacob said.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he looked around.
“ I am truly sorry Johnny. I told her you were leaving this morning.” Father Jacob said as he shook his friends hand.
“ I guess she doesn’t want to accept that a man can change for all the right reasons.” Johnny said.
“ Go with God my friend.”
“ Father, you’ll always be welcome at Lancer.” Scott said as he shook Father Jacob’s hand.
“ You take care. I am glad Johnny has a big brother to look after him now.” Father Jacob said.
“ I will. Thank you for all you have done for us Father Jacob.” Scott responded before mounting up. “ You ready to go home brother?”
“ Just waiting on you brother.” Johnny said as he looked around.
Mary watched as the man she loved rode away from the mission as tears ran down her face.
“ Why the tears?” Father Jacob asked.
Mary turned to face him. “ You never said doing what I felt would be right, would hurt me so.”
“ So it is because of Madrid, that you let him ride out of your life?” he asked.
“ I had to Father Jacob. He’s too good a man for me.” she said.
“ He is a good man, but too good for you, no. That I am afraid you are wrong about. He is two good men, and I think the one is what keeps you from riding away with them. Perhaps one day you will realize this.” Father Jacob responded before walking away.
“ Well I see you made it out alive.” Harvey Dietrich said as Johnny and Scott rode up to the house.
“ Mister Dietrich, it’s good to see you again.” Scott said as he dismounted.
“ From the way you’re moving, I take it they captured you?” Dietrich asked.
Johnny dismounted slowly. The cut across his chest still pulling and aching. “ They had their fun spoiled by Scott.”
“ Jesus kid, you look like hell.” Dietrich said. “ Come on inside the house.”
“ Polly gonna be alright with that?” Johnny asked.
“ Of course she will. She was upset she missed you when you stop by last time.” Dietrich said as they walked up on the porch, and he opened the front door. “ Polly, come on out here!” he yelled.
“ Stop that yelling Harvey……….Oh my goodness, Johnny.” she said as she walked over to him. “ It’s so good to see you again.”
Johnny gently gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek. “ Hello Mrs Dietrich. It’s good to see you again.”
“ What’s with being so formal young man?” she asked.
“ This is the young man I told you about Polly. This here be Johnny’s big brother Scott.” Harvey said.
“ Ma’am. It;s a pleasure to meet you.” Scott said.
“ Brother. Harvey said you had some explaining to do. Come on in and sit down.” Polly ordered. “ I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”
Murdoch opened the letter from the Pinkerton he hired.
It has come to my attention your oldest son Scott was able to rescue your other son Johnny from the Rurales, but not before he was badly injured. They caught him in a small village called Tajito, and were taking him to a General Madera, six days ride south when Scott found him a day later. He is at a mission in Alti, Mexico just south of the border having his wounds tended by the mission. It is reported that Johnny has killed six Rurales, one of which was a Captain. This I am afraid has marked your son for certain death if caught. The two men your son Johnny tracked to Mexico, Billy and Pete Anderson are both dead. A bartender at the cantina in Alti, said Johnny cut the throat of Pete Anderson, and before being taken prisoner, shot Billy Anderson. I have also learned that a Rurale named Bringas, met a cruel death at the hands of your son. He was gutted after being shot. General Madera has full authority from president Diaz to use any and all means possible to find, capture, and kill Johnny Madrid. He has sent a Captain Huerta across the border to do that very thing. Once your sons are back across the border, I will wire letting you know.
Pinkerton Detective Agency
“Is that a letter from Scott?” Teresa asked.
“ No.” Murdoch responded as he started to put the letter away., but stopped. “ Sit down.”
“ Has something happened to them?” she asked as she sat down.
“ Yes and no. About a week after the boys left, I contacted Allen Martin, he’s the Pinkerton agent who found Johnny for me. I had him searching for the boys. I told him the situation, and he found them both. A few weeks ago I received this from him.” Murdoch said as he handed Teresa the first report. “ Now it might upset you to read these, but I think you should know what is going on.”
Teresa took the letter and read it.
I have learned that two of the three men your son Johnny is tracking, have crossed into Sonora, Mexico. Your youngest son if he crosses into Mexico, will be hunted down if learned he is back in Sonora. A General Madera, and Captain Huerta have both vowed to capture Madrid again. Especially Captain Huerta, for your son Johnny is responsible for the death of his cousin during the Mexican revolt he led. A reward of one hundred thousand pesos is being offered for his capture, alive. This reward is because of your son leading against a Mexican revolt against corruption and the big ranches taking from the little man. Something General Madera likes using the Rurales to do. There is a mission in Alti, Sonora, Mexico, where his mother it would seem is buried,I have learned Madrid will go there. It is a safe place of refuge for him to hold up and rest. The two men, Billy and Pete Anderson have made a deal with the Rurales to use themselves as bait to capture Madrid for the reward. I am sorry, but there is nothing further I can do to help your son.
Sincerely Allen Martin
Pinkerton Detective Agency.
“ Those two are leading Johnny right into a trap.” Teresa said.
“ It would seems so. John is pretty smart, he’s survived this long remember.” Murdoch said.
“ Alti. So his mother is buried there?” she asked. “ Have you ever been there?”
“ No, I never was. I asked him where she was buried once, and he never answered me. I think now I know why.” Murdoch responded.
“ Why, I don’t understand how these men could hate Johnny so. It was a war. Men die in war.” Teresa said.
“ Yes, but I think they hate Johnny for other reasons. I think there is something, or perhaps someone else for that big a reward. The Mexican government won’t pay out that kind of money to capture someone. I think that is being offered by a rancher. Someone Johnny may have fought against at one time.” Murdoch explained. “ This is the letter that I got today from Allen.”
Teresa took the second letter and read it. Tears in her eyes as she finished reading it and handed it back to Murdoch.
“Do you think this Huerta will come here after Johnny?” she asked.
“ I believe so. That man has another thing coming if he thinks he can come here and kill my son.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ That’s the first time in a long time I’ve heard you call Johnny your son.” she said.
“ I’ve been a fool Teresa. It’s about damn time I start being a father to that boy.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ You know he blames himself for this happening?” she said.
“ It wasn’t his fault. He has got to stop blaming himself for things like this happening.” Murdoch responded.
“ Yes, but he doesn’t blame himself because of Madrid, Murdoch. Johnny blames himself because he thinks he failed to protect me.” Teresa explained.
“ I was such a fool. If I had been a father to him, he wouldn’t have left.” he said.
“ Yes he would, and you know it. Lancer takes care of their own. Those were your exact words to him and Scott.” she said.
“ Well, I will be damned.” Harvey said. “ Sounds like you got a good life ahead of you Johnny.”
“ I’m happy for you Johnny. You deserve it. God knows you’ve endured enough pain and hardship in your life.” Polly said.
“ Maybe you two could come to Lancer some time for a visit?” Scott said. “ Johnny could show you around. We have more than enough room.”
“ I don’t know if I could handle being on a ranch that big, but I’ll sure keep it in mind.” Harvey said.
“ I have a sister that lives in San Francisco, I was planning to go visit next year. We can stop by then.” Polly said.
“ I completely forgot.” Harvey responded with a wink.
“ You just don’t like seeing my sister.” Polly said.
“ Well, we better get going. We have a long ride home.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Well, you two take care, and I guess we will see you next year.” Harvey said.
“ Scott, it was a pleasure meeting you.” Polly said as she stood up.
“ And you too ma’am.” Scott responded.
“ I’ll walk you out.” Harvey said.
“ I expect you haven’t heard the news or seen a paper. Red Angus was killed while trying to rob a stage.” Harvey said.
“ Saves me from hunting him down. Thanks again Mister Dietrich.” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand.
“ You take care of yourself Johnny. Scott, it was nice to meet you.” Harvey said.
“ You too sir.” Scott said as he shook his hand.
Captain Victoriano Huerta left Yuma, and crossed into California as the sun rose in the eastern sky, headed northwest. He figured he could be in the San Joaquin valley in a month if the weather holds. With the cooler temps comes rain, something he did not like riding in. The mountains would be getting snow soon in the upper elevations, so staying to the south until he had to turn north had been his only option. Having sent a wire to his brother, telling him he would be stopping on his way north. Eleven years ago his brother left Mexico at the start of the Mexican revolt, hoping for a better life in California, but only to find that would not be. Now his brother was nothing more than a worker on some ranch with his wife and daughter who worked cleaning and cooking for the rich gringo rancher. Many Mexican lives disrupted during the Mexican revolt thought they could make a better living in California, some traveling hundreds of miles,only to end up doing what they did in Mexico, in California.
“ How about a nice soak in a hot bath, a good hot meal, and a soft bed to sleep in tonight Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Sounds good to me. You gonna send a wire to the old man letting him know we’re in Modesto?” Johnny asked.
“ I figured I would. Unless you don’t want me too.” Scott responded.
“ Teresa would probably like to know we’re both still alive.” Johnny said as they rode into Barstow.
“ Why don’t we get checked in, and then settle the horses for the night?” Scott asked.
“ Scott, Johnny, it’s good to see you.” Jake Mendoza said as he stopped his wagon.
“ Mister Mendoza. What brings you to Modesto?” Scott asked as they dismounted in front of the hotel.
“ I had to come get grain for my cattle.” Jake said. “ What are you two boys doing here?”
“ Headed home from a long trip.” Scott responded.
“ Well, you boys have a good evening. I’ll see you at the cattleman’s meeting next month.” Jake said as he started his team.
“ I wonder why he had to come all the way to Modesto to get grain?” Scott asked as they tied their horses, and stepped up on the walkway to the hotel.
“ Better yet, why is he headed back home this late in the day. He won’t make it until midnight or better.” Johnny added.
“ Can I help you gentlemen?” the clerk asked.
“ We need a room for the night and a couple hot baths.” Scott said.
“ Alright, just sign the ledger. Will you want your baths right away?” he asked.
“ The sooner, the better. It’s been a long ride.” Scott said as he signed the ledger.
“ Very well sir.” the clerk said as he looked at the signature. “ Would you two be Murdoch Lancer’s boys?”
“ We would.” Scott responded. “ Is there a problem?”
“ Not at all sir. I was instructed that if you stopped here, to give you our best room.” the clerk said as he handed Scott the key.
“ Instructed by who mister?” Johnny asked.
“ Your father, Murdoch Lancer.” he said. “ Will you require anything else for the night?”
“ Just a hot bath, hot food, and sleep.” Scott responded.
“ Very well, room sixteen at the end of the hall. Enjoy your stay.” the clerk said before turning and heading to the back.
“ Teresa, Maria.” Murdoch said as he walked into the kitchen. “ I got a wire from Scott. They’re were in Modesto last night.”
“ Modesto, that means they will be home this afternoon.” Teresa said.
“ My boys, they come home.” Maria said.
“ Murdoch, we should throw a party for them. They’ve been gone almost five months.” Teresa suggested.
“ That sounds fine, but lets wait and see how they feel. You know how Johnny is about parties and a lot of people around.” Murdoch responded.
“ Then we could throw one just for the family, to welcome them home.” Teresa suggested.
“ We should fix them a good supper tonight. I know my Johnny, he will be skinny.” Maria said.
“ Well, I’ll leave supper in you ladies hands.” Murdoch said before turning and walking out of the kitchen.
Johnny stopped Barranca on top of the hill, looking down at Lancer.
“ I want you to tell the old man.” Johnny said.
“ Alright, but so I understand, what all do you want me to tell him?” Scott asked.
“ Everything.” Johnny responded.
“ Can I ask why you don’t want too?” he asked.
“ I figure if I’m not there, he won’t lose his temper so fast, and will have time to……….how do you say it….absorb what you say.” Johnny said.
“ So you do listen to me. Will wonders never cease.” Scott said with a laugh.
“ You know Scott, it never gets tiring, seeing Lancer from up here.” Johnny said.
“ No it sure doesn’t little brother.” Scott responded.
“ Let’s go home.” Johnny said as he started Barranca down the hill.
Twenty minutes later, Scott and Johnny rode into the yard, and were greeted by Murdoch, and Teresa.
“ Welcome home. You look tired.” Teresa said as she went to Scott, and hugged him as soon as he dismounted. “ I missed you both so much.”
“ It’s good to be home.” Scott said as he hugged her back. “ We missed you too little sister.”
Johnny stood back, looking at Teresa, as the shame from that night came back to him.
“ You alright son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Lets go inside.” Scott suggested.
“ I’m fine. I’m going to take care of Barranca. I’ll be in later.” Johnny said before turning and leading the horse to the barn.
“ Is Johnny alright?” Teresa asked.
“ Johnny has mixed feelings about coming back here because of what happened to you and what happened in Mexico.” Scott said.
“ I take it, your brother feels I will get angry?” Murdoch asked.
“ Can you blame him?” Scott responded. “ He feels like he failed you Teresa. He failed to keep you safe, and that has bothered him greatly.”
“ What happened in Mexico son?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Johnny asked me to tell you what happened because of your temper. He doesn’t want a repeat of the night he left. He’s still healing up from what they did to him the night I was able to get him free.” Scott said.
“ I’m sorry son. How bad was he hurt?” Murdoch asked.
“ Hurt, how do you…….?”
“ A week after the two of you left, I hired a Pinkerton. I have letters from him about everything that happened.” Murdoch said. “ With the help of Teresa, I know how bad of a mistake I made. A mistake that almost cost me my two sons.”
“ Johnny was beaten while he was tied up, and he was cut across his chest, and down his left side.” Scott explained.
“ Excuse me.” Teresa said as she headed outside.
Johnny heard light footstep coming toward him as he brushed Barranca.
“ Johnny, can you come out here please?” Teresa asked.
Johnny walked out of the stall and closed the gate. He could see tears in his little sisters eyes. “ You’re much to pretty to be crying.”
Teresa walked over to him, and wrapped her arms around him. “ I don’t blame you for what happened that night.”
“ I do querida.” he said as he hugged her back. “ I failed to protect you.”
“ No you didn’t. You killed two of them, and if you hadn’t, it would have been much worse.” Teresa said. “Please stop blaming yourself for what happened.”
“ I kept my promise to you.” Johnny said. “ They paid for hurting you.”
“ I never should have asked you to go after them. It was selfish of me.” Teresa said. “ Now, you have a man hunting you and that reward they put out on you.”
“ How do you know about that?” Johnny asked.
“ Murdoch, yesterday he let me read the Pinkerton letters he got about you.” she said.
“ What letters?” Johnny demanded.
“ A week after you and Scott left he hired a Pinkerton agent to find you.” she responded.
“ Sonofabitch!” Johnny said as he started toward the barn door.
“ Johnny wait. We did a lot of talking while you where gone. Murdoch knows he was wrong. It tore him up inside what he said and did to you the night you left. He cried Johnny, not once, but several times Murdoch broke down and cried. I know because I would hear him in his room at night. I walked into the grand-room once and he was at his desk. He asked me how he could have been so stupid. He said he knows now how he hasn’t been a father to you. How he hasn’t been the father he should be to you. How he hasn’t been the father you deserve.” Teresa explained.
Johnny pushed his hat back off his head to hang by the stampede strap as he stared at Teresa. “ You read the reports?” he asked.
“ Yes, two of them yesterday. He wasn’t going to at first, and then said I needed to know., and let me read them.” Teresa responded.
“ Let’s go inside.” Johnny suggested.
Scott and Johnny sat playing a game of checkers on the floor while Teresa did needlepoint in the flue chair.
“John, Scott, could you come over here? I need to show you something.” Murdoch asked.
Johnny move one move and jumped his brothers remaining two kings, before standing up and walking over to the desk.
“ Little brother, one of these days/” Scott said with a smile.
“ You can try.” Johnny said. “ What’s up?”
“ I did something about a week after you left son. Something I don’t want to keep from you.” Murdoch said as he pulled out a file from his desk.
“ Well, if you three will excuse me, I think I will turn in.” Teresa said as she put her needlepoint away,stood up, and walked over to give them all a kiss goodnight.
“ Dulces sueños hermanita. Te quiero.” ( Sweet dreams little sister. I love you.) Johnny said. As he gave her a hug and kiss on the forehead.
“ What’d you do, sell Lancer?” Johnny asked as he walked over and poured three glasses of brandy.
“ That’s funny brother.” Scott said.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he handed him a glass before walking over to his father.
“ Thank you son. I hired a Pinkerton to find you two. These are the reports he sent me.” Murdoch said as he handed them to Johnny to read.
Johnny took the file, walked back over, picked up his drink, and walked out on the veranda to read it.
“ Can I ask what your ulterior motive was for doing this?” Scott asked.
Murdoch looked at his oldest. “ I did it because I needed to know my two sons were alive. That Johnny would come back to Lancer, alive.”
Scott walked out on the veranda to join his brother. “ You alright?” he asked.
Johnny handed him the reports as Murdoch walked out to join them. “ This Pinkerton agent Allen Martin, he’s the one who saved me from the firing squad.”
“ Yes he is son.” Murdoch responded. “ I was a fool that night Johnny. I needed to know you were alive, both of you. Countless nights I would lay awake worrying about you son. The not knowing was the hardest.”
“ I can respect that.” Johnny said. “ So ask.”
“ Alright son, I will. Why? Why do these men, General Madera, and Captain Huerta hate you so much that they would put a reward of that amount on your head? I know the Mexican government would never offer such an exuberant amount.”
“ Simple, they want Johnny Madrid dead. You’re right about the government, President Diaz would never part with that kind of money, even for me.” Johnny responded. “ That’s a private reward being paid by two rich ranchers in Sonora, Venustiano Carranza, and Emilliano Zapata. They have the two biggest ranches in Sonora. When I started fighting in the Mexican revolt, it was because of men like them. Men who would take whatever they wanted from others. In Mexico, land is power, and the more land you own, the more powerful a person you are. Diaz uses the Rurales to steal land from others. He’s been doing it for years. If a land owner didn’t sell, he was run off, or shot. Captain Huerta………he’ll come here Murdoch. He’ll come here looking to kill me. The man is ruthless, and brutal. He knows I’ve been here. His cousin was killed during the revolt, and he blames me for it.”
“ And the two ranchers?” Murdoch asked.
“ Don’t know. Never met them before.” Johnny responded.
“ I’ll place a guard in the tower and a couple around the house.” Murdoch said.
“ We don’t know what this Captain Huerta looks like sir.” Scott responded.
“ If he’s a captain in the Mexican army, he’ll be easy to spot.” Murdoch said.
“ Remember how Captain Gonzales was dressed, that’s what Huerta will look like Scott.” Johnny responded as he flinched from a sharp pain in his side.
“ I think Sam should come look at those cuts Johnny.” Scott suggested. “ That one on your side was deep.”
“ I’m alright, just tired. I think I’ll turn in now.” Johnny responded as he headed inside.
“ Alright son. I’ll see you in the morning.” Murdoch said.
“ Good morning Teresa.” Scott said as he walked into the kitchen. “ Breakfast smells wonderful.”
“ Good morning to you too.” Teresa responded. “ Breakfast will be ready shortly.”
“ Is your brother awake yet?” Murdoch asked.
“ I don’t know. His door was closed when I walked by. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I didn’t knock.” Scott responded as he sat down, and poured a cup of coffee.
“ Well, let him sleep. I expect he hasn’t gotten much since he left here.” Murdoch said. “ You feel like doing any work today son?”
“ Actually, I was hoping I could relax today. Maybe help you with the monthly balancing of the books?” Scott suggested.
“ That would be fine. There’s a cattleman’s meeting next month at the hotel in Stockton. Would you be interested in attending it with me?” Murdoch asked.
“ I would, but why don’t you see if Johnny would like to go instead?” Scott responded.
“ I was thinking maybe you could both go with me.” he suggested. “ Teresa is going. I figured she would like to do some shopping for things she can’t get except in Stockton.”
“ Alright.” Scott said as Teresa set a platter full of bacon, scrambled eggs, and fried potato’s on the table.
Johnny woke to the sound of a squealing horse, and hands shouting. Throwing the covers back, he sloped into his pants, got out of bed, and walked over to the window. Looking down toward the corral, he could see Hank trying to break a horse. Walking over to the mirror, he looked at the five inch scar running down his left side. Remembering back to the night he got them, he thought about just how close he had come to screaming out in pain. Probably would have, had it not been for his brother saving his life.
“ Is it alright to come in?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he opened the second drawer and pulled out a clean shirt. “ Sorry I slept so late Murdoch.”
“ That’s alright son. You needed the rest.” Murdoch said as he walked over and looked at the cuts.
“ What’s on your mind Murdoch?” Johnny asked as he sat down on his bed to put his socks and boots on.
“ I just wanted to check on you. Scott is taking the day off, helping me balance the books. Why don’t you take it easy today too?” he suggested.
“ Maybe I will. I was thinking of grabbing something from the kitchen and then go watch Frank try and break that horse.” Johnny said.
“ Alright. There’s a cattleman’s meeting in Stockton next month. I would like you to go with me. Scott and Teresa are going. It’ll be for three days.” Murdoch asked.
“ Teresa huh. She must be going to do some shopping.” Johnny responded as he stood up. “ I don’t know Murdoch. You know I’m not one for big towns.”
“ At least think about it son. I would like the family to do something together.” Murdoch said.
“ Then why don’t we all go on a picnic and do some fishing Sunday instead of going to church?” Johnny suggested. “ I don’t think god will strike you down if you miss one service.”
Murdoch laughed. “ No, no I expect he wouldn’t son. Who is Father Jacob?”
Johnny tucked his shirt in. “ Father Jacob is a good friend. He saved my life once. Dug a bullet out of my back when I was fourteen.”
“ He sounds like a good man.” Murdoch said. “ I was wondering because you hardly ever talk about your past son. All I have are those Pinkerton reports”
“ Well, if those reports were done by Martin, then you know all you need to know about my past.” Johnny said. “ I’m starved, we done here?”
Huerta rode into Spanish Wells, and stopped at the saloon, and dismounted. Looking around, he found the town to be a little bigger than he expected.
“ Shouldn’t be hard finding out where your ranch is at mestizo.” he said as he walked into the saloon.
“ What’ll ya have?” the bartender asked.
“ Tequila and some information.” Huerta responded.
“ One tequila coming up.” The bartender said as he set a shot glass on the bar, and poured a shot.
“ I am looking for a friend of mine from Mexico. I was told he lives around here.” Huerta said.
“ Lots of Mexicans around here friend. Your friend got a name?” the bartender asked.
“ Johnny Madrid, except now he goes by Lancer.” Huerta said as he paid the man.
The bartender looked Huerta over, and didn’t like the feeling he got. “ Sorry friend, but I don’t know anyone by either of those names.” he said before turning to walk away.
Huerta reached out and grabbed the man by the arm. “ It wouldn’t be smart to lie to me gringo. Now I will ask you again. Where is Johnny Madrid’s ranch?”
“ His ranch is ten miles outside Morro Coyo, about forty miles from here.” the bartender responded.
“ How do I get to this Morro Coyo?” he asked.
“ Take the road south out of town until you come to a split. Stay right, it will take you to Morro Coyo. Once there, continue south another ten miles and you’ll be on Lancer land.” the bartender said.
“ You make a wise decision my gringo friend.” Huerta said with coldness before walking out.
Johnny walked down to the corral and watched as Frank hit the ground hard after being thrown from the mare again.
“ Let her buck with the saddle for a spell Frank.” Johnny said. “ Let her wear herself down some. Take some of the fire out of her.” he suggested.
“ I think I just might do that.” Frank said. “ Welcome back. It;s good to see you Johnny.”
“ You want I should fetch that wretch up again for ya Frank?” a kid Johnny didn’t know asked.
“ No, I think I’ll do like Johnny suggested and let her buck a spell with the saddle on her back, and give my backside a rest.” Frank said.
“ What, you gonna listen to a Mex. Hell he probably don’t know anything about breaking a horse.” the kid said before walking away.
“ Doug’s a hard worker. Hired him last month, but he has a short fuse.” Frank said.
“ Guess he don’t know who I am.” Johnny said.
“ No, the hands don’t go telling any new hires about your past.” Frank said.
“ Thanks. That’s a good looking mare. You think you can break her?” Johnny asked.
“ You mean before she breaks me, no.” Frank said with a laugh.
“ Hey, what the hell you doing?” Walt yelled. “ Stop hitting her!”
Johnny, and Frank looked and Doug was beating the mare with the end of his rope. Drawing his colt, Johnny fired a shot, hitting the ground at the kids feet.
“ You strike that mare again, and the next one goes in you.” Johnny said.
“ Let her go and come out of there now!” Frank ordered.
Doug let go of the reins and walked over to the gate as Frank opened it.
“ Just who the hell you think you are mister?” Doug demanded. “ You got no call to be shooting that damn gun at me. That damn horse tried to bite me. She needs to be taught a lesson in manners.”
Johnny glanced at Frank before stepping forward. “ Only one I see needs taught manners is you. I ever see you mistreat a horse again, and it will be the last time.”
“ That sounds like a threat.” Doug said.
Johnny swung and hit the kid as hard as he could in the mouth, knocking him back into the fence. “ Wrong word, fact.” he said.
“ You sonofabitch!” Doug said as he came at Johnny, but was stopped by Frank and Walt. “ Just who the hell you think you are?”
“ What’s the trouble here?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Collect your gear and get out. I won’t have any mane working for me who beats a defenseless animal.” Johnny ordered. “ Give him what pay he has coming Murdoch, he’s finished.”
“ You got no right firing me.” Doug snapped.
“ He has every right. Johnny is my son, and if he says you’re fired, you’re fired. Walt, see to it he gathers his stuff. Frank, come with me to get what pay he has coming to him.” Murdoch ordered.
Johnny glared at the kid a minute before turning to walk back to the house with his father. Many years of instinct told him what was about to happen. Spinning around, he fired three fast shots at Doug’s feet. “ I got one shot left. You can go ahead and try to draw that pistol, or you can do the sensible thing and ride out of here.”
“ Who the hell are you?” Doug asked.
“ Johnny Lancer, but I used to be known as Johnny Madrid.” Johnny said with a slight smile. “ Unbuckle the gunbelt, and walk over to the water trough.” he ordered.
Doug swallowed hard as he slowly reached down and unbuckled his gunbelt, and walked over to the water trough.
“ Drop it.” Johnny ordered.
Doug dropped the gunbelt in the water as Johnny walked over to him. “ Now git.”
Huerta rode under the Lancer arch at an easy gallop as the sun started to sink behind the San Benito mountains.
“ Can I help you?” Frank asked.
“ Tell Madrid his old friend is here.” Huerta responded.
Frank looked at the man hard. “ There’s nobody here by that name mister. I suggest you turn that horse around, and ride out.” he ordered.
Huerta drew his gun and fired, killing Frank. “ Come on out Madrid! I know you’re in there!” he yelled as he dismounted and went to Frank. “ Come outside now, or I’ll kill another gringo.” as he fired another shot toward Walt, as he came out of the bunkhouse.
“ Who the devil is that?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Huerta.” Johnny said as he strapped on his colt. “ Stay out of this Murdoch, Scott. He’ll kill you.” Johnny ordered.
“ I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you walk out there and face that man.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ It’s not your call Murdoch.” Johnny said as he opened the door. “ Scott.”
“ Don’t let Johnny do this.” Teresa pleaded.
“ I’m not.” Murdoch said as he started toward the door.
“ You go out there, and you’ll get Johnny killed for sure.” Scott said firmly.
“ I’m not going to stand by and do nothing.” Murdoch responded before going outside.
“ Ah Mestizo, General Madera has sent me with a message for you. One I will say with bullets.” Huerta said.
“ You’ll never get out of here alive Huerta.” Murdoch said from behind Johnny.
“ I told you to stay out of this Murdoch. It’s between me and him.” Johnny said.
“ Aah, you must be the gringo father.” Huerta said. “ I have come a long way to kill your mestizo son of a dog.”
“ The only one dying here is you Huerta. Frank was a good friend of mine.” Johnny said.
“ You killed my cousin. I did not ride all the way from Mexico, to let you see another sunrise, or to fail General Madera. I told him I would deliver your head to him in a burlap sack, and I am a man of my word.” Huerta responded.
“ I didn’t kill your cousin. I never even knew him.” Johnny said.
“ It was you!” Huerta yelled before he took aim, fired, and ran toward the barn.
“ Murdoch!” Scott yelled as he went to his father laying on the ground. “ Johnny, Murdoch’s been shot.”
“ Get him inside.” Johnny ordered as Walt and another hand hurried over. “ Help me get him inside.” he said as he looked at Johnny just standing there, loading his pistol. “ Johnny!”
“ Take care of Murdoch, and send someone for Sam. Huerta is mine.” Johnny said before heading toward the barn.
“ Johnny wait!” Scott yelled.
Johnny ignored his brother and went to the door, and looked inside. “ I thought you came here to kill me?” he yelled before darting inside, and to his left, staying in the darkness. Barranca snorting and stamping his feet told him Huerta was at the back of the barn near the stacked hay. Crouching, he went along to the last stall as a shot hit the post just above his head.
“ I will kill you mestizo.” Huerta yelled as he fired two more shots.
Johnny felt the bullet enter his left side as he moved back, tipping over a bucket, drawing two more shots from Huerta.
Picking up the bucket, Johnny tossed it to the other side.
Huerta heard the bucket hit, stood, and fired.
Johnny rolled out into the middle of the barn and fanned his colt, knocking Huerta backwards. Cocking the colt again, Johnny walked toward Huerta. “ You killed my friend, and shot my father you sonofabitch.” he said as he fired, hitting Huerta again.
“ I killed your father for my cousin.” Huerta said as he brought his pistol up one last time and fired just as he bullet pierced his heart.
Sam stopped his buggy and got down as the front door opened. “ I got here as fast as I could Scott. Who’s been shot?”
“ Murdoch.” Scott said.
“ Murdoch, good god man.” Sam said as they walked into Murdoch’s room, followed by Teresa with hot water and bandages.
“ Scott, where’s Johnny?” Teresa asked
“ I’m right here.” Johnny said before passing out, and falling to the floor.
“ Johnny!” Scott said as he hurried to hos side. “ Sam, he’s been shot.”
“ Let’s get him to his room so I can look at the wound.” Sam said as he hurried over.
Sam came downstairs to the kitchen as the sun started to show the first lights of the new day. “ What the hell happened here last night?” he demanded.
“ Will they be alright Sam?” Scott asked.
“ Yes. The bullet lodged below the clavicle in Murdoch’s shoulder..” Sam said. He won’t be using his arm for a while.”
“ And Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ He’ll live. The bullet missed any vital organs.” Sam responded.
Scott stood up and walked over to the stove, grabbed the coffee pot, and two cups. “ A man from Johnny’s past came here. A Captain in the Rurales.”
“ The Rurales? They have no authority outside Mexico.” Sam said.
“ That didn’t seem to matter to him.” Scott said as he sat down. “ Johnny has a reward of one hundred thousand pesos being offered for his capture in Mexico. It would seem two very wealthy ranchers are paying the reward. They want him alive so they can torture him to death. The man who came here, Captain Huerta, blames Johnny for his cousins death during the Mexican revolt. Him and a General Madera, have hated him ever since he led the Mexican people against them. President Diaz put Madera in charge of the Rurales, and I witnessed first hand just how badly they hate my brother.”
“ I take it you are talking about the fresh scars I seen on your brothers chest, and left side?” Sam asked.
“ He was hanging by his arms from a tree branch, and a Rurale named Bringas, decided to start beating him. He brought out the knife trying to make Johnny scream in pain when I was able to save him.” Scott explained.
“ Did you stitch him up?” he asked.
“ No, Father Jacob did.” Scott responded.
“ So I take it, the two men who attacked Teresa is why Johnny was in Mexico?” Sam asked.
“ Billy and Pete Anderson, yes. Johnny tracked them there. They made a deal it would seem with a Captain Gonzales, thinking they would get the reward if they led Johnny into a trap. Which they did in Tajito.” Scott responded.
“ What was that boy thinking? Going into Mexico again knowing he’s wanted.” Sam said.
“ He made a promise to Teresa, Sam, and as you know, Johnny is a man of his word.” Scott said.
“ Murdoch told me Johnny left Lancer after what happened, and went back to living by his gun.” Sam said. “ He said you were away on business.”
Scott looked at Sam in shock. “ I left the day after Johnny to track him. I didn’t want him out there alone. Murdoch said some pretty ugly things to him that night. He made accusations he was wrong in doing.”
“ By accusations I take it you mean, Murdoch blamed that boy for what happened that night?” Sam suggested.
“ Without even knowing what happened. I just wish I knew why he is so damn quick to judge Johnny, or blame him for things like that, just because of what he did to stay alive all those years ago.”
General Madera read the wire again as his anger boiled.
Captain Huerta killed. Madrid still alive.
“ Mestizo, your time is numbered. I don’t care of I have to send a dam army to California to kill you, I will not rest until you are dead.” the general said as he wrinkled up the wire and threw it in the fire.
Murdoch opened the door to his sons room, stepped inside, and closed the door. Walking around the bed, he sat down in the chair and looked at his youngest son laying sleeping.
“ You need to work on your ability to sneak into a room.” Johnny said as he opened his eyes. “ You have heavy footsteps old man.”
“ Perhaps you could teach the old man how to do it right.” Murdoch suggested with a laugh. “ How you feeling son?”
“ Been better.” he responded.
“ Listen Johnny…………..I want you to know I don’t blame you for what happened.” Murdoch said.
“ He came here because of me Murdoch. I almost got you killed.” Johnny snapped back.
“ If anyone is to blame, it’s me son. If I had done what you said and stayed in the house, I wouldn’t have been shot” Murdoch responded.
“ I wasn’t going to say anything about that, but since you brought it up.” Johnny said. “ If you want me to stay alive when I get called out, do what I say. I told you to stay in the house, why the hell didn’t you listen to me?” he demanded.
“ If you think I am going to just stand by and do nothing when someone has every intention of trying to kill my son, you young man are sorely mistaken. Lancer takes care of it’s own. You might want to try and remember that the next time, god forbid something like that happens.”
Johnny stared at his father in disbelief at what he just heard him say. Sitting up, he threw the covers off him, and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “ You’re unreal.” he said as he stood up.
Murdoch stood up and reached out to help his son, but his offer was pushed away.
“ I don’t need your help.” Johnny said as he walked over to the window and looked out. “ The night I left here, I left because I made a promise to Teresa, I told her what you just said to me, that Lancer takes care of their own. You told me I should be able to understand why you asked me if I knew those men.” he said as he turned around and glared at his father. “ When’s it going to stop? When are you going to stop assuming everything bad that happens is because of my past?”
“ I know I was wrong in thinking those men came here for you, or that you knew them.” Murdoch responded. “ Maybe if you would talk about your past a little more, and not be so damn secretive, I wouldn’t assume men like that were here for you, or that you knew them.”
“ You know all you need to know about my past in those damn Pinkerton reports you insist on keeping locked up in your desk.” Johnny snapped back.
“ Why is it so easy for you to talk to your brother, or Teresa, yet you can’t talk to me?” Murdoch asked calmly.
“ Maybe because they don’t judge me.” Johnny said.
“ I don’t judge you son.” he said.
“ Yeah you do. Every day you judge me old man. If I come home and a job isn’t finished, you get angry at me. Yet when it’s Scott, you’re okay with it.” Johnny responded.
“ I wasn’t aware I do that son.” Murdoch said.
“ Do you want to know why you do that?” Johnny asked as he walked over to his father. “ Because me and you are all pride, cut from the same mold……..not one inch of give.”
“ You feel like coming downstairs and joining the family for supper?” Murdoch asked.
Yeah. I think I could do that.” Johnny said as they walked toward the bedroom door. “ You know what I did Murdoch?”
“ What’s that son?” he asked.
“ I got justice for Teresa.” Johnny responded with a smile as father and son headed downstairs.
TBC in The Madrid Way
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