Living On A Prayer by Nancy Marie

I don’t own them, “ sigh”. I’m just borrowing them for a friendly weekend ride. All character names from the show, Johnny Madrid Lancer, Scott Garrett Lancer, Murdoch Lancer, Teresa O’Brian, Harlan Garrett, Sam Jenkins belong to CBS. Absolutely no money is being made from this story. It’s purely for fun. Any characters in this story that are not owned by CBS are my creation.

This story will have an R- Rating due to some cursing ( nothing drastic)

Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Sam Jenkins
” Seven Rivers Gang ”
Henry ”Hugh ” Beckwith
John Beckwith
Bob Beckwith
Tom Walker
Bob Olinger
Sarah Carter
Jessica Carter
Stan Carter
U.S. Marshal Ben Daniels
Deputy U.S. Marshal Ed Drew
Sheriff Jack Helm
Deputy Sheriff Billy Breakenridge
Deputy Sheriff Neil ” Skinny ” Brown
Deputy Sheriff Seth Bullock
Deputy Sheriff Matthew Caldwell
Deputy Sheriff James W. Carr
Texas Ranger William Wallace
Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong
Texas Ranger John B. Jones
Babacomari Ranch, Elgin, AZ – Brophy Family
Diamond A Ranch, Seligman, AZ – Harvey Dietrich
San Cristobal Ranch, Lamy, NM
Sierra Bonita Ranch, Graham County, AZ
Perez Ranch, San Antonio, TX, Juan Ignacio Perez
Kings Ranch, Houston, TX,Richard King

Synopsis: The Seven Rivers Gang murder and rob stagecoaches, and steal horses and cattle along the borders of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Murdoch and Scott are on a trip to purchase some new breeding stock bulls when the stagecoach they are on is hit by the gang, killing the stage driver, and leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere. The Marshals, and Sheriff all want this gang stopped. Johnny Madrid, for personal reasons is tracking two of the robbers, Tom Walker, and Bob Olinger since Chihuahua, Mexico for the murder of Sarah and Stan Carter, and the kidnapping , and murder of Jessica Carter. Madrid comes across the Lancer men during the robbery. Later, when Scott and Murdoch make it back home to Lancer, Murdoch has a letter waiting for him from the Pinkerton’s. Upon reading it, he learns that Johnny Madrid, the man who helped them in the desert, is his long lost son Johnny Lancer, thus sending Scott out against Murdoch’s wishes, looking for his long lost little brother.

Word count: 51,470

Chapter 1

“ That’s a fair price and you know it Murdoch Lancer.” Harvey Dietrich said.

“ Now did I say it wasn’t a fair price?” Murdoch asked. “ All I said was it’s a hundred dollars more than the last bull I bought from you. You through in a good home cooked meal from Martha, and I’ll pay the extra hundred dollars.”

“ Now you know I wasn’t going to let the two of you leave here without being fed.” Harvey responded. “ Let’s go to the house.”

“ Mr Dietrich, how’s your sons, Joe and Chris?” Scott asked as they walked toward the house.

“ Joe will be here for supper. He’s out branding calves.” Harvey said as he stopped walking, and turned to face his longtime friend. “Chris was killed three weeks ago.”

“ What….how?” Murdoch asked.

“ Seven Rivers gang. He was out with a herd bringing them in when they hit. Stole all the horses and killed seven good men, Chris one of them.” Harvey explained.

“ Seven Rivers. Seems to me I read something about them stealing stock, but I thought they were only in Texas!” Murdoch said.

“ Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. Governor Safford has asked for help from the army, but they’re busy with the settlers and miners coming west and the Apache Indians. There are lawmen in all three states looking for these men.” Harvey responded.

“ Do they know who they are by name?” Scott asked.

“ Sure do, three brothers named Henry, John, and Bob Beckwith, Tom Walker, and Bob Olinger. Are the names on the posters circulating. Walker and Olinger I guess went below the border to Chihuahua and killed a husband and wife and took their sixteen year old daughter.” he said. “ I pity those two if the man tracking them catches up with them. He was real good friends with the family. They say he got word when in Sonora and rode hard to get there and start tracking. There hasn’t been a man survive facing that kids gun.”

“ Who’s this kid you’re talking about that’s tracking them?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” Harvey said as they walked into the house.

“ Gunfighter without a conscious for who he kills.” Scott said.

“ Every report I’ve ever heard, they say Madrid always takes the right side of a range war, and has never broken the law. There’s a lot of people who like and respect him.” Harvey said.

“ Hello Martha.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, it’s so good to see you. Oh my, would you look at how tall you are now Scott. My you have grown.” Martha said.

“ Mrs Dietrich, it’s good to see you again.” Scott said.

“ Why don’t you three go in the living-room and visit while I finish up supper.” Martha suggested.

“ Murdoch, you have any luck yet finding your youngest son Johnny?” Harvey asked as they walked into the room and sat down.

“ No, the Pinkerton’s are still looking for him. The last letter I received just before we left said he was in Sonora checking around the small villages.” Murdoch responded.

“ You said Walker and Olinger where in Chihuahua. Does the law know why they would go that far south of the border?” Scott asked.

“ Terrazas ranch. It’s the biggest ranch in all of Mexico. Eight million acres. Now I ask you, what does a man need a ranch that big for?”

Scott coughed and quickly covered his mouth. “ How big?” he asked.

“ You heard me. Don Luis Terrazas has had that land and ranch the last twenty five years. My guess is they were down there to steal some of his horses again.” Harvey responded.

“ And I thought Lancer was a big ranch.” Scott said.

“ Some of the ranches in Mexico go back several hundred years son.” Murdoch said.

“ Some date back farther than that. Why there’s a ranch outside Santa Fe called The San Cristobal Ranch, that dates back fifteen hundred years.” Harvey added. “ There’s a new ranch, just started up called Sierra Bonita. I hear he has some pretty good stock he’s running.”

“ Whose that?” Murdoch asked.

“ A fella named Henry C. Hooker. Came from California. Secured a government contract to supply beef to military post and Indian Agencies. He built one hell of a Spanish hacienda from what I hear. The walls are built two rows of adobe bricks twenty inches thick and sixteen feet high around that place to maximize security. I guess none of the outside walls have any doors or windows. The only way in is through a single gate in a fourth wall. The Apache use a trail through the valley near his ranch from the United States down to Mexico. Where his hacienda stands now is on the site of one the Apache burned down many years before. They leave him alone though, because he supplies them with beef.”

“ I had heard someone started a contract with the government to supply beef. If people continue to come west, it will take a lot of cattle to feed them.” Murdoch added.

“ Supper is ready. I hope you two are good and hungry.” Martha said.

“ Always for your god cooking Martha.” Murdoch said as he stood up.

“ Better not let Maria, ever hear you say that. She just might stop cooking for us.” Scott said.

“ And what about you Scott, you have a lady friend?” Martha asked.

“ No ma’am. I’m afraid I’m to busy with the ranch right now.” Scott responded.

“ Well, I’m sure a fine lady will come along when you least expect it and steal your heart.” she said.

“ That’s what Martha did to me Scott. There’s all the time in the world for love you think, until the one comes along and makes ya all confused so bad, you got no choice but to marry her.” Harvey added with a smile.

Johnny Madrid stood looking at the ground. Seeing what he was looking for, he knelt down. “ That be the track. Looks like they are still headed southwest amigo.” he said as the golden stallion nudged his back. “ I know buddy, I know.” Johnny said as he stood up and rubbed the stallions face. “ We owe Stan and Sarah to try and find Jessica. I bet if she’s still alive, she’s one frightened little girl.” he said as he checked his cinch, then untied his canteen to take a swig. “ Looks like something’s dead ahead buddy. I got a feeling in my gut I don’t like.” Johnny said as he put his canteen away, and swung up in the saddle.

Three hours later, Johnny placed rocks around the crude cross he made for Jessica Carter’s grave. His worst fears realized when he found the girl in the wash. Her clothes tattered and torn, her long brown hair bloody and matted, Johnny knew what happened to the girl and it angered him more than he had ever been. “ I promise I will find them Jess. They will pay for what they did to you and for killing your parents. I don’t care how long it takes me, I will find Walker and Olinger and send them to hell.” Johnny said as he stood up, bowed his head and said a silent prayer.

“ Well ride into Tucson and get a weeks supplies. It won’t be hard picking up their trail again after this storm that’s coming in passes. You can use a nights rest with some grain and good hay instead of this desert scrub.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ Looks to be a good storm coming in from the west.” Scott said as he peered out their hotel room window.

“ They can come up quick down here. I remember once when I was tracking a man, all I could do was hunker down in a wash and wait it out.” Murdoch said.

“ So what are the plans now that you have a bull?” Scott asked.

“ Well, we have three choices young man. One, we can ride back to Lancer., two we can take the stage, or three, we can ride north and catch the train.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Actually sir, I think the decision should be yours.” Scott responded.

“ Alright then, the next stage west leaves here day after tomorrow. We’ll ride it west to Yuma, and go north from there.” Murdoch responded. “ Could I interest you in having a cold beer with your old man?” he asked.

“ Only if you let me buy.” Scott responded. “ And you are not old sir. Just well seasoned.”

“ You haven’t had two riders come in in the last day or so have you?” Johnny asked as he dumped grain in the trough for Barranca.

“ You tracking someone Johnny?” the livery man asked.

“ Two killers from Chihuahua Carl.” Johnny said. “ There ya go amigo.”

“ I take it you know who?” Carl asked.

“ I do, and when I catch up to them, their death will be a slow one.” Johnny said.

“ I had two from California, yesterday evening, a Murdoch and Scott Lancer return horses they rented. They’re at the hotel waiting to take the stage west tomorrow. Wait a minute, late last yesterday evening I had two fellas ride in. Paid real good to curry down their horses and give them extra feed, and new shoes. Took a while to shoe the buckskin. Haven’t seen a horse have to have shoes like that one does on it’s hind feet since the war.” Carl explained.

“ You put the same shoes back on Carl?” Johnny asked as he reached into his pocket and pulled out some money.

“ Keep your money Johnny. I’m glad to see you’re still alive kid.” Carl said. “ I heated and reshaped the shoes, trimmed up the feet on both, and they rode out this morning headed west. Since when do you track two killers Madrid?” Carl asked.

“ Since they killed two friends of mine, kidnapped and murdered their daughter, whom I buried a couple hours ago.” Johnny responded as he pulled his rifle from the scabbard.

“ Who are they?” Carl asked as they walked to the barn doors.

“ Tom Walker, and Bob Olinger, both ride in the seven rivers gang. I’ll see ya tomorrow Carl.” Johnny responded before heading to the hotel.

A hot bath, a meal that wasn’t tortilla and beans, some tequila, and a good woman are all he wanted for the night. Tomorrow he would head west.

Johnny walked in the saloon and sat down at the back corner table that allowed him to see everyone who came and went. Two girls were working the floor serving drinks. Removing his hat, and setting it on the table as the younger of the two servers brought his beer and tequila.

“ Can I get you anything else mister?” she asked.

“ Don’t call me mister.” Johnny said as he looked the girl over. “ You serve meals here?” he asked as his eyes wandered over her body.

“ Sure do. Got cold beef or ham sandwiches, Or, you can have a nice thick, juicy cut of steak, with some spuds and peppers.” she responded.

“ Steak, and whatever else you’re offering.” Johnny responded.

The girl blushed, and went back to the bar.

“ Looks like you’ve been marked for the night honey.” she woman said.

“ Marked, what do you mean?” the young girl asked.

“ Marked, chosen by him for a romp upstairs.” the older woman responded. “ Girl, you’re in for the time of your life with him in a bed.”

“ Who is he?” the girl asked as she smiled at Scott standing there waiting on his beers.

“ You mean you don’t know…….Why honey, that’s the gunfighter Johnny Madrid. He hasn’t been around for a spell. Most likely below the border. You’re gonna make some money tonight if you play it right with him.” the woman said before walking away.

Scott collected his beers and walked back the table he shared with his father. Setting the beers down as he looked at the one in the corner the server said went by the name of Johnny Madrid. “ Just a boy who shouldn’t even be in here drinking.” Scott said as he sat down.

“ What did you say son?” Murdoch asked as he picked up his beer.

“ I said he shouldn’t even be in here.” Scott responded.

“ Who shouldn’t?” Murdoch asked.

“ Over in the corner. The one server said that’s him, Johnny Madrid.” Scott responded.

Murdoch turned and looked at the young man sitting in the corner drinking tequila and a beer. Through the smoke of the room, he could see the boy had dark hair that hung down to his shoulders. He couldn’t see the boy to be more than sixteen, maybe seventeen years old. His own Johnny would be about that age, if he is still alive. “ Just a boy who probably had no parents to bring him up. Life is hard down here along the border son. Not everyone was as lucky as you were growing up.”

“ I doubt my little brother, if he’s still alive, is anything like that kid sitting over there.” Scott responded as he looked at Madrid again. “ What that boy clearly needs is a good thrashing, and probably taught some manners too.”

“ I highly doubt manners would help him son.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny watched the tall, skinny blonde walk from the bar back over to a table where an older man, probably his father sat. Noticing every time the man looking over at him as he said something to the older man, and then the older man looking at him. “Must be the men Carl told me about that are taking the stage west tomorrow.” Madrid said softly as the girl brought him his meal.

“ Are you really Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?” she asked softly as she set his plate of food down.

“ Does it matter if I am?” Johnny asked. “ What time you get off work?” Johnny asked.

“ Ten. I’m staying at the boarding house down the street.” the girl said.

“ Well, I’ll tell you what. It’s eight now. I’ll sit here and have a few more beers after I finish my meal, and we can go to my room at the hotel.” Johnny suggested. “ Or I can walk you to the boarding house.”

“ I don’t have a room to myself there. We would get caught. Mrs Cutler, she don’t allow no funny business in her house.” she explained.

“ Then we can go to my room at the hotel.” Johnny said as he gently ran a finger over her palm light enough to have the effect he wanted on her. “ Go take care of your other customers. I’ll be right here.”

“ Shall we go get some breakfast?” Murdoch asked.

“ Let me ask you something, how come at the ranch, you insist on breakfast at five and supper at six? Yet not once on this trip have you insisted on those times for eating.” Scott asked.

“ Because Lancer is a working ranch where I call the tune. We’re on no working schedule on this trip, except to catch the stage west today, or spend two more days in Tucson.” Murdoch said as they walked out of their room. Closing the door, Scott noticed the young girl from last night come out of a room and start for downstairs.

“ Just a minute Miss.” Murdoch said as he walked up to the girl. “ My name is Murdoch Lancer, and this is my son Scott, are you alright?”

“ I’m fine. Why?” she asked.

“ It’s just that, last night downstairs, you looked like you were afraid of that man sitting in the corner. Did he hurt you?” Scott asked.

“ No, Johnny didn’t hurt me. He……he was a gentle soul to me He was someone who cared.” she said before turning and walking away.

“ If that was my daughter, she wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near that saloon, and she sure as hell wouldn’t be coming out of the room of a notorious gunfighter.” Murdoch said.

“ Maybe that’s why you should mind your own business old man.” came a soft voice from behind him.

“ Maybe someone should teach you some manners young man.” Murdoch responded as Madrid walked up to him.

“ You gonna be the one to try?” Johnny asked coldly as the sound of a gun being cocked could be heard from behind him on his right.

“ Boy, you might want to rethink pulling that gun on me, unless you want your old mans guts spilled all over this hallway.” Madrid said calmly.

“ Put the gun away son.” Murdoch ordered calmly.

Scott stepped up to Madrid and pressed the barrel up against his right temple. “ Step away from my father, or it’s your brains that will be all over this hallway.” Scott said firmly.

“ You might want to look at what is sticking your old man in the gut boy. I ain’t afraid of dying, are you prepared to watch your old man bleed to death?” Johnny said.

“ Scott!”

“ Is there a problem here?” came a voice from the end of the hall.

“ No problem sheriff. We were just having a discussion about manners.” Scott responded.

“ Put the gun away……now!” the sheriff ordered. “ Walk away Madrid.”

“ I’ll see you again boy.” Madrid said as he glared at Scott before walking away.

“ Thank you sheriff, but we could have handled it.” Scott said as he holstered his pistol.

“ Jack……..Jack Helm, is that you?” Murdoch asked.

“ Murdoch Lancer, well if this don’t beat all. What in the world are you doing in Tucson?” Sheriff Helm asked.

“ We’re on our way home from buying a couple bulls. This is my oldest son Scott.” Murdoch responded.

“ Catherine’s boy? Well you surely do have your mothers eyes young man. It’s a pleasure meeting you finally.” Jack said as he shook Scott’s hand.

“ We were just headed down to eat breakfast, care to join us?” Murdoch asked.

“ Actually, why don’t you and Scott join me. I have four deputies, and a U.S. Marshal and his deputy waiting for me downstairs.” Sheriff Helm suggested.

“ Alright.” Murdoch replied as the three of them headed downstairs.

Madrid watched the three walked downstairs and join the rest of the badges sitting at a long table in the middle of the room. Raising his cup of coffee and smiling at the young Lancer as he glared at him.

“ Marshal Daniels, this here is Murdoch Lancer and his son Scott. Murdoch is one of the best trackers, and sheriff’s in these parts. Or rather he used to be until he tracked a man to Matamoros, where he met a beautiful Mexican woman, got married and went back to that ranch in California.” Sheriff Helm explained.

“ Lancer, I heard of you. Your spread is the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin valley. Didn’t a land pirate named Day Pardee try and steal your ranch last year?” Marshal Daniels asked.

“ He tried, but my son Scott killed him when they attacked the ranch. Him and another man named Sully.” Murdoch responded.

“ You men the ones trying to catch the Seven Rivers gang?” Scott asked.

“ Yes we are. How do you know about that gang?” Deputy Caldwell asked.

“ I’m sorry, you are?” Scott asked.

“ Scott, Murdoch, this is my Deputies Billy Breakenridge, Seth Bullock, Matthew Caldwell, and James W. Carr. That man sitting over there is U.S. Deputy Marshal Ed Drew.” Sheriff Helm explained. “ And these men are Texas Rangers William Wallace, John B. Armstrong, and John B. Jones.”

“ Gentlemen.” Scott said. “ In answer to your question Deputy Caldwell, my father’s friend Harvey Dietrich told us about them.”

“ He also told us that two of the members, a Tom Walker, and Bob Olinger crossed into Chihuahua, killed a husband and wife, and took their young daughter.” Murdoch explained.

“ He also said that that man sitting over there is supposed to be tracking those two for the murder. Said he rode from Sonora to Chihuahua and has been tracking them.” Scott added.

“ Madrid. I heard he was tracking someone, never figured it to be two of the Seven Rivers gang.” Sheriff Helm said.

“ From what I’ve heard about him as a tracker, those two are as good as dead.” Deputy Bullock said.

“ Storm must be why he’s here and not out there tracking them.” Deputy Carr said.

“ That little skirmish upstairs between you three, what was that all about really Murdoch?” Jack asked.

“ A young lady we feel Madrid took advantage of last night, and she was too scared to say anything. We asked her if she was alright this morning when she came out of his room, and he came out, taking offense to us asking her.” Murdoch explained.

“ You know you’re lucky to still be breathing. Nobody pulls a gun on the Mestizo and walks away. Especially anyone who pulls a gun and has it held to Madrid’s head like you did.” Sheriff Helm said. “ He’s not going to forget it. I’d watch my back if I were you Scott.”

“ We can settle the matter anytime, anywhere he wishes.” Scott responded.

“ Maybe you don’t understand fully. Maybe I should explain to you about Johnny Madrid. Scott, he’s the best and fastest of all gunfighters west of the Rockies, and north and south of the border. He always stays on the side of the law, or so we’ve heard, but there isn’t a man alive who has looked down the business end of his custom made colt, and lived to tell about it. He’s been called out at least thirty times by other gunfighters trying to kill him for his reputation, and that don’t include all the men he’s killed in range wars.” Sheriff Helm explained.

“ Madrid is well known for his deadly accuracy in Dallas, and down around Houston also. Seems he did some work for ole King Richard on the Kings Ranch last year.” Marshal Daniels said.

“ How many ranches have been hit?” Murdoch asked.

In Texas, two. The two biggest. Kings ranch and Perez ranch.” Ranger Wallace said.

“ In New Mexico, San Cristobal ranch. It’s adjacent to John Chisum’ spread. Course just about every ranch is adjacent to his huge spread in New Mexico.” Marshal Daniels said.

“ Here in Arizona, the Sierra Bonita ranch and Babacomari ranches have been hit.” Sheriff Helm added.

“ Diamond A ranch also Jack. My friend Harvey Dietrich lost his boy a few weeks ago when they hit and stole a herd of horses Chris was bringing in.” Murdoch added.

“ We didn’t know anything about that ranch being hit.” Ranger Armstrong said.

“ You fellas might want to add the Terrazas estancia in Chihuahua to that lost of ranches the Seven Rivers gang have hit.” Johnny said from his table as he stood up and placed money on the table to pay for his meal.

“ Madrid, word has it you’re tracking two of the members, Walker and Olinger. How do you know they came this way?” Marshal Daniels asked.

“ Well I guess that’s for me to know, and you big bad lawmen to figure out.” Johnny said as he picked up his saddlebags, and rifle, and glared at Scott. “ Have a nice trip west. I’ll see you again someday boy.” he said before walking out.

“ That kid needs to be taken out behind the woodshed and taught some manners.” Murdoch said as he watched Madrid walk out.

“ I wouldn’t try it. Word has it his mother died when he was eight, he was placed in an orphanage in Mexico and abused until one day he ran away and they didn’t bother going after him again.” Ranger Jones said. “ He started using a gun at eleven. They say he killed his first man, some gambler fella who beat his mother to death, when he was twelve. Tracked the man to El Paso. Walked into the saloon, and right up to the table, and shot the man dead. Course he told the man who he was and why he was there before he did it. His reputation has been growing ever since.”

“ The whores love him, peasants, respect him, and he has never broken the law.” Ranger Wallace added.

“ I heard from a whore in Laredo whose been with him, he has scars all over his body from being beaten, shot numerous times , cut and stabbed.” Ranger Armstrong added. “ Most doctorin, Madrid does himself they say.

“ Why don’t you and Scott ride with us Murdoch?” Jack asked.

“ No Jack, I’m afraid my days as a lawman are over. We’re catching the noon stage back to Lancer. I have a sixteen year old ward there I would like to see again.” Murdoch responded.

“ Not to mention sleep in his own bed.” Scott added.

“ Ward? Whose kid you have?” Jack asked.

“ You remember Paul? he was killed last year by Pardee. I’m raising his daughter Teresa.” Murdoch explained.

“ I remember Paul. His wife ran off and left him to raise a little girl all alone. Shame he was killed, but she has a good man to bring her up. Who knows, maybe her and Scott here will get hitched some day.” Jack said.

“ I don’t think so sheriff. Teresa is like a sister to me.” Scott responded.

“ Hey what about your other son, you ever find him?” Jack asked.

“ Johnny, no. I still have the Pinkertons looking for him.” Murdoch responded.

Johnny was greeted by a nicker as he walked into the barn “ Hey amigo, you like your rest?” he asked as he rubbed the stallions face.

“ Hard to believe he’s a stallion as gentle as he is Johnny.” Carl said as he came down the ladder. “ Hey, if you’re not in a hurry, would you mind watching the place for me for about thirty minutes or so. I need to go to the bank and mercantile?” Carl asked.

“ No, go ahead.” Johnny responded as he set his saddlebags down and leaned the rifle against the railing.

“ Your horse is the only one here. I’ll close up and put a sign out so nobody comes in. I won’t be long.” Carl said as closed the door, and hung his sign.

Cora watched from behind a tree next to the side corral as Carl closed the door, and hung his sign before heading to the bank. Once he was far enough away, she went to the back and came in through the rear corral. Stopping to let her eyes adjust to the light, or lack of, she listened and found who she was looking for to her left brushing a golden horse.

“ Hello Johnny.” she said as she walked over to the stall.

“ You always in the habit of hiding behind trees, and sneaking around barns?” Johnny asked.

“ I figured Carl wouldn’t like me being in here, so I waited. I knew he was gonna leave. He goes to the bank and mercantile every Wednesday before the stage comes in.” Cora said. “ What’s his name?”

“ Barranca. It means ravine in Spanish.” Johnny said. “ What are you doing here?”

“ I came to see you again before you left.” Cora said as she rubbed Barranca’s face.

Johnny turned and seen the bruise she had on her cheek. “ Who hit you?” he demanded.

“ Mrs Cutler, for not coming back last night after work. She threw me out, Said she wasn’t gonna have no spinster girl staying at her boarding house. I told her fine. I can sleep in a room at the saloon on a bed. Where she charges me to sleep on a mattress on the floor in a room as big as a closet just about. Charges me three dollars a week for it and two dollars for meals.” Cora explained.

Johnny walked over and gently put a hand under her chin to look at the black eye. “ She had no right to hit you. I expect I’ll be having a talk with her about hitting you before I leave.” Johnny said as he started to turn away, but was stopped by Cora grabbing his left arm.

“ Are you riding out this morning?” Cora asked.

“ I expect I am when Carl comes back. I have unfinished business I need to tend to. A promise I have to keep.” Johnny responded as he turned back to face her. “ Having a sweet thing like you waiting for me, would give me reason enough to come back to Tucson more though, but just so you know, I’m not looking to get hitched, or tied down. I can’t.” Johnny explained.

“ I know. Because of who you are. That’s okay. I mean, if you want me, I’ll be your girl. I have no plans to be leaving Tucson.” Cora said.

Johnny grabbed a blanket off the rail, took her hand, and walked over to the stall across the alley. Spreading the blanket before removing his gun belt, dropping to his knees and gently guided Cora down to him. “ I’ll never hurt you.” he said as he claimed the girls mouth with hunger as he pulled her down to the blanket with him, rolling on top of her as he reached down and pulled her dress up.

“ I really appreciate you watching the place for me Johnny while I went to the bank.” Carl said. “ Young Cora is waiting outside for you. I couldn’t help but notice Widow Cutler took a hand to that girl again from the looks of her cheek.”

“Yeah. I’ll be having a little chat with her before I leave about hitting the girl.” Johnny said as he led Barranca out of his stall. “ What’s her story Carl? I mean, where’s her parents?”

“ She was brought in by a trail crew taking a herd of cows. Said they found her next to a burned out wagon with her parents both scalped and half burned from the Apache. Nobody knows how she ended up being spared. That was two years ago.”

“ You could let her stay with you, she could help clean your place and help you here in the barn. It would get her out of the saloon and into a better place to sleep, and work.” Johnny suggested.

“ I was thinking of doing just that. You help me make the offer to the child?” Carl asked. “ You been with her Johnny?”

“ That’s kinda personal ain’t it Carl?” Johnny asked as they looked at Cora standing by the corral fence.

“ She’s a mixed up little girl Johnny. I’d hate to see her get soiled by the trail hands who come in. A girl like that needs a gentle touch.” Carl explained.

“ I put my touch on her last night Carl.” Johnny said.

“ And this morning in my barn. I seen her waiting outside. You make her your woman Johnny, so nobody else tries touching her.” Carl suggested.

“ Already did. I need to get going. Let’s go talk to her about this offer.” Johnny said as he started to lead Barranca out of the barn.

An hour later, Johnny helped Cora gather up what little belongings she had and leave the boarding house. He made his words be heard by the Widow Cutler about hitting his girl, and talking bad about her. Johnny purposely rode down main street with the girl in front of him, his arm around her, telling others she was his property now. Stopping at Carl’s house across from the livery, Johnny helped Cora down from Barranca. “ Carl is a good man. He will never hurt you.” Johnny said before kissing her. “ I’ll be back.” he said as he swung up in the saddle and rode out, heading northwest as the stage come into town.

“ I figured Madrid would be the one to save that girl. That damn Widow Cutler won’t be beating on her anymore.” a man said standing next to Murdoch and Scott.

“ Won’t be making her sleep in a closet anymore either. Looks like Madrid got her a place with Carl and helping him at the livery.” another said as the stage came up and stopped.

“ He needs the help. Maybe that girl can clean him and his place up.” the one man said before the two walked away.

“ All aboard, stage west is leaving in five minutes.” the stage driver yelled.

Murdoch looked at Scott. “ Never judge a book by it’s cover. Isn’t that what you said to me once son?” Murdoch asked before getting on the stage.

“ It is.” Scott responded as he boarded the stage also.

“ Just the two this time Charlie.” the clerk said as he handed up the strong box.

“ We’ll stop for one hour at Oneida. You can freshen up and eat a halfway decent hot meal there.” the driver said as he signed for the strong box. “ What’s in it this time?”

“ Some legal papers going to San Francisco, and the usual mail with a couple catalogs.” the clerk responded.

“ I thought there was money this trip?” Charlie asked.

“ Nope, they decided to hold off with that Seven Rivers gang around. I’ll see ya next time Charlie.” the clerk said before turning and going back inside.

“ You two have a good time in Chihuahua?” Hugh asked.

“ Sure did. Found us a sweet little thing we had us a good time with too.” Walker responded.

“ What about you Olinger, you have a good time too?” Beckwith asked.

“ Yeah I did…….Why?” Bob Olinger asked.

Henry ”Hugh” Beckwith hit Walker hard, square in the mouth, knocking him to the floor, before he grabbed Bob by his shirt and yanked him up out of his chair. “ Because you stupid dumb sonofabitch, you now have a tracker on you that won’t stop until you are both dead.”

“ What the hell you talking about Hugh? There were no witnesses to what we did.” Walker spat.

“ Apparently there was one who seen you, and now Johnny Madrid is tracking you two. The Carter were his friends. He won’t stop until he kills both of you.” Hugh Beckwith fumed. “ I told you two specifically to not go into Mexico. Now the Texas Rangers have an excuse to come after us even more.”

“ Why the hell would the Texas Rangers come after us?” Olinger asked.

“ Because dummy. We stole from Kings ranch and the Rangers work with the Rurales. Don Luis Terrazas has that agreement. He owns almost all of Chihuahua, so what he says is law down there. There’s twenty thousand dollars on that stage going to Yuma. We’re going to make a withdrawal of that money before it gets there.

“ How was we to know!” Walker said.

“ That’s why you’re not the leader, I am. You two are too stupid to know.” Hugh responded.

“ Hell, I’m surprised you two could even find your way back to here.” middle brother John Beckwith said.

“ Maybe we shouldn’t count them in on this next job Henry. Maybe we should run their sorry asses off now? We don’t need Madrid showing up and ruining our plans.” youngest brother Bob suggested.

“ That’s not a bad idea, but unfortunately we need them.” Henry responded. “ Mount up. There’s a stage we need to stop.” he ordered.

Madrid rode a crisscross pattern about ten miles out of Tucson hoping to find tracks. Barranca kept tossing his head every time he was reined left, and then back to the right. Early afternoon he found the tracks he was looking for, along with three other’s they had joined up with.

“ Well amigo. It seems the stakes just went up.” Johnny said as he looked around at the tracks on the ground. “ Southwest, now why would they be going southwest now after going north from Tucson?” he asked aloud. “ The stage, That was a strong box they were putting on that stage when we rode out amigo.” Johnny said.


Chapter 2

Murdoch sat watching Scott sitting across from him trying to read a book as they rocked and swayed. “ I think the driver has hit every hole since we left Tucson yesterday..” he said.

Scott put his book down. “ I would have to agree. I think I just read the same sentence four times.”

“ You know, I’m thinking we should maybe buy a couple horses in Los Angeles and ride home.” Murdoch suggested.

“ The back of a horse would probably be a lot smoother than in this bucket of jolts.” Scott said.

“ Perhaps we should make that Yuma instead son.” Murdoch suggested.

“ You think you can last another day and a half on this stage?” Scott asked.

“ I’ll be alright son.” Murdoch said as a shot rang out.

“ You alright?” Scott asked.

“ I’m fine. You see anything on your side?” Murdoch asked as he peered out the small window.

“ No, nothing.” Scott said as the stage started to slow down and stop.

“ Passengers, come on out with your hands up!” a voice yelled.

Murdoch and Scott both climbed out of the stage and had their guns immediately taken.

“ You, throw down the strong box.” Hugh ordered.

“ All that’s in it is some papers and letters.” Charlie said as the box was tossed down.

Hugh shot the lock off and opened the box. “ What happened to the ten thousand that was supposed to be in this box today?” he demanded.

“ They said they weren’t gonna ship it because of………..” Charlie said.

“ Because of what?” Hugh demanded.

“ Because of you and your gang being around.” Charlie said.

“ Damn it! Now what do we do?” Walker asked with anger.

Olinger walked up to the driver. “ You damn bastard.” he said before shooting the man dead.

“ You stupid sonofabitch………John, Bob, check those two for any money………..Tom, get your ass up there and check around. Make sure they don’t have another box or pouch up there.” Hugh ordered. “ You two, go unhitch those horses.”

Murdoch and Scott walked over and started unhitching the horses from the wagon.

“ You find anything up there?” Hugh asked.

“ No, nothing.” Tom responded.

“ Come on down and help with the horses.” Hugh ordered as a shot rang out dropping Olinger to the ground in agony as blood seeped from his right knee.

Scott and Murdoch dove under the stagecoach, hoping to not be hit by a stray bullet.

“ You see where the shot came from?” John asked.

“ Up in those rocks. I think it’s Madrid.” Walker yelled as another shot rang out and Olinger screamed out in pain as a bullet sliced through his left arm.

“ Brother, we need to get out of here. It’s them he wants.” John Beckwith said.

“ Can you get to your horse Bob?” Hugh asked his youngest brother.

“ Yeah, I think so.” Bob responded.

“ When we start shooting, you get on that horse and go. Get far enough away you can use that rifle of yours and give us cover.”

“ Go!” Hugh yelled as him, Tom, and John started shooting up in the rocks.

Bob swung up on his horse and took off, spooking the stage horses into galloping off.

“ You can’t leave me here for Madrid. Tom…………Hugh, help me.” Olinger pleaded.

“ Come on little brother.” Hugh said as he waited.

Johnny took aim and hit the sand right next to Olinger’ face, spitting sand into his eyes. “ You sonofabitch, come on down here. I’ll cut you from your dick to your throat.” he yelled as another bullet hit him in his back.

Bob Beckwith seen Madrid and took aim, firing several fast rounds as his two brothers and Tom Walker bolted to their horses, swung up in the saddle and took off.

Murdoch crawled out from under the stagecoach, and went to check Charlie’s body.

“ Hey, you two, you gotta help me.” Olinger pleaded as a horse could be heard approaching.

Scott went to Olinger to try and help the man.

“ Get away from him!” Johnny yelled as he rode up and jumped off Barranca. “ He’s mine.” he added as he pushed Scott out of the way.

“ You piece of shit. She was only sixteen.” Johnny said with anger as he jerked Olinger up. “ I promised I would make your death be a slow, agonizing one, and that’s exactly what it’s going to be.” he said before hitting the man hard, knocking him back into the stagecoach wheel hard before pulling his knife from the inside of his left boot.

Scott seen what Madrid intended, looking around he spotted Olinger’ pistol. Picking it up, he aimed it at Madrid. “ Let him go!” he ordered.

Johnny never looked at Scott as he took the knife and stuck it deep into Olinger’ gut. “ I’m going to gut you from your dick to your throat you child raping sonofabitch!”

Murdoch knew the risk, but went to Johnny anyway and grabbed him, spinning him around. “ Let him go, he’s dying!” he ordered.

Johnny jerked free of Murdoch’s grip. “ Stay out of this…both of you!” Johnny ordered as he went back to Olinger, only to hear a shot, and feel a white hot pain in his right side as a bullet creased his side as it went to it’s original target, and plunged into Olinger’ head.

Johnny grabbed his rifle and started shooting as Tom Walker rode off with the Beckwith brothers. Walking to Barranca, he slid the rifle back in the scabbard.

“ Where are you going?” Murdoch demanded as he walked over to Madrid.

“ Stay the hell out of my business old man.” Johnny ordered.

Scott walked over, grabbed Johnny by the arm, spun him around, and hit him hard in the mouth, knocking him down. “ We need your horse to get out of here!” Scott fumed as he raised his fist, ready to fight.

Johnny pulled his colt, and cocked it. “ Don’t put your hands on me every again.” Johnny said with coldness. “Nobody rides my horse but me. You got enough water to last you until help comes.” Johnny spat.

“ It could be a long time before help comes.” Murdoch said.

“ Guess you don’t know much about stagecoach horses, especially ones that carry the mail old man.” Johnny said with sarcasm. “ They’re special trained. They’ll go to the next stage stop about five miles away. They’ll come looking for you.” Johnny said before riding away.

“ He’s shot.” Scott said as they watched Madrid disappear over a hill.

“ He’s what son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Madrid, he’s shot. The bullet that killed that man, hit Madrid first. I seen the blood from it.” Scott responded.

“ Well, there’s nothing we can do for him now. Let’s get these men inside the coach out of the heat.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Hey Pa, the west bound stage horses just come in, without the stage.” Timmy Colter said. “ It looks like they’ve been unhitched, or broke free, reins are trailing.”

“ Go saddle a couple horses.” Jeff ordered. “ Sheriff, you come with us?”

Sheriff Helm headed to the door with Jeff. “ Could be the Seven Rivers robbed the stage.” he suggested.

“ They did, they didn’t get anything. Charlie wasn’t carrying any money this run. Just legal papers that need to go to San Francisco mainly.” Jeff said as his son came out of the barn leading two saddle mounts. “ Son, I want you to bring four stage horses. Me and the sheriff are gonna ride on out and see what’s happened. It’s only ten miles between us and the last stop.” Jeff ordered as he mounted up.

Johnny stopped and looked at the wound in his side. He knew what he had to do could cost him valuable time, but bleeding to death wasn’t an option. The Gila river could be heard in the distance, he knew of a place he could hold up, have a small fire, and tend to his wound without being seen. “ I owe you for this Lancer.” he said as he let the stallion pick his way around the mesquite brush, cactus, and rocks to the rivers edge. Slowly swinging his leg over, Johnny slid down to his knees. “ Hold on amigo, I just need a minute. I’ll get the saddle off you as soon as I can.” Johnny said as he reached up and grabbed the stirrup to pull himself up.

Two hours later, as the sun set behind the Copper Mountains, Madrid tied off the last stitch, and cut the thread. Wetting his bandanna, he dabbed at the wound to clean away the dry blood. Not bothering to put his shirt on, Johnny stood up and walked over to check on Barranca as a coyote yapped in the distant. “ I promise you amigo, when I find Walker and this is over, me and you are gonna take some time and hold up somewhere for a weeks rest.”

“ You say Madrid was shot when he rode off?” Sheriff Helm asked.

“ He was.” Scott responded.

“ I’d bet the bullet that killed Olinger, just grazed Madrid. He’s probably holed up along the Gila River getting his strength back after stitching it up.”Marshal Drew added.

“ There’s a nice reward for Olinger, if you’re interested in it?” Sheriff Helm said.

“ Blood money, no thank you.” Scott said.

“ Did the driver have any family?” Murdoch asked.

“ Charlie, yeah he has a wife and daughter in Phoenix. I sure don’t envy telling them this news.” Jeff said.

“ Give the reward money to them. I’m sure they can use it more than we could Jack.” Murdoch instructed.

“ Alright. Well, we need to get going.” Jack said as he headed to the door. “ It was good seeing you again Murdoch. Glad I got to meet you Scott.”

“ Likewise sheriff.” Scott said.

“ Stop by if you’re ever around Morro Coyo Jack. You too Marshal.” Murdoch said as he followed them outside and stood there watching them ride off.

“ I’m afraid there won’t be another stage going west until next week  Mister Lancer.” Jeff said.

“ Will you sell us two saddle horses?” Murdoch asked.

“ Tell ya what, you and your son take my two personal horses, hundred dollars for both. I’ll write up a bill of sale. They’re young, good strong horses. They’ll get you home.” Jeff responded.

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said as Jeff turned to go inside and write up a bill of sale.

“ We can cut northwest from Yuma. Take the trail we brought cattle down when we drove them to Fort Bowie.” Scott suggested.

“ Actually, I think we would be better to stay away from Yuma, and cut north from here to Fort Parker, and cross the Colorado river there.” Murdoch suggested. We can send Teresa a wire from Barstow letting her know where we are.”

“ That way does sound better, and safer.” Scott said.

“ You mean your old man made a good suggestion.” Murdoch said with a laugh.

“ I tell ya I hit him. Madrid isn’t going to be coming after us.” Bob Beckwith said.

“ You hit him, but you didn’t kill him. Your bullet did kill Olinger though.” Walker said.

“ He was already dead from Madrid. All Bob did was end his suffering.” John Beckwith said.

“ He shot Madrid, hit him in his right side. He’s still alive, but probably holed up somewhere healing up enough to come after you again.” Hugh Beckwith added.

“ Personally, I think Walker should ride out now. It’s him Madrid wants, not us.” Bob said. “ We have a Marshal, Sheriff, and Texas Rangers after us. All of whom are nothing compared to having that half-breed hunting you.” he added.

“ Tell me something Walker, did the two of you have a good time raping and killing that sixteen year old girl?” John Beckwith asked.

“ I didn’t kill her. Olinger did. He was raping her again, and she bit him. He started beating her and wouldn’t stop until she was dead.” Walker responded.

“ There’s two things I despise more than anything big brothers?” John Beckwith said. “ You have any idea what those might be walker?”

“ How the hell should I know!” Walker responded with sarcasm.

John Beckwith pulled his gun, cocked it, and aimed it right at Walker’s head.“ Someone who doesn’t follow orders. You two had to go into Mexico after my brother told you not too. And if that’s not bad enough, you go to Chihuahua of all places and take an innocent sixteen year old girl, and murder her parents.” John said.

“ I suggest that if you want to keep breathing, you get on that horse of yours and you ride. Get the hell out of the southwest, because if I see your sorry, pathetic ass again, I’ll kill you where you stand.” John ordered.

Walker looked from brother to brother before cautiously walking to his horse and swinging up in the saddle. “ I hope the law sends all three of you to hell.” he said before galloping off.

“ Our man’s been riding northeast at a pretty good pace for the last week. I bet the Beckwith brothers ran him off.” Johnny said as he dismounted and dropped the reins so Barranca could graze on the grass around the small waterhole. Reaching in his saddlebag, he pulled out a piece of jerky. “ First he’s riding north at a good pace, now he’s headed northeast. If they ran him off like I’m thinking, he’s riding to put distance between him and the brothers. They probably told him they would kill him if they seen him again.” he said as he untied his canteen to take a drink. “Looks like he’s going to take The Outlaw Trail, headed to either Colorado or Wyoming. He rides into Brown’s Hole, and they’ll run his ass out of there. Cattle rustling and stealing horses is one thing, they don’t cotton to no killers hanging around there.” Madrid said before taking a bite of his jerky. “ Snow will be falling up there in another month or so. A man can get snowed in, freeze to death, and die in those canyons up there if you don’t know your way around.” Johnny said as he walked over and knelt down to fill his canteen. “ I guess we’ll wait and see what Walker does before we go thinking ahead.” he said as he walked back over to the stallion, put his canteen strap around the saddle horn and swung up in the saddle. “ Come on Barranca, we got a few hours of daylight left.”

“ I almost didn’t want to get out of that hot bath.” Scott said as they sat in the hotel diner eating their supper.

“ I felt the same way son. It did feel good on my sore back and muscles.” Murdoch responded.

“ I figure, we make thirty five, maybe forty miles a day, we can be home in eight days.” Scott suggested.

“ I told Teresa we would be home next week.” Murdoch replied.

“ Sure will be good to see her, and Lancer again.” Scott said.

“ Besides being home, Having a letter there from the Pinkerton’s telling us they located Johnny, and he’s alive would be wonderful news.” Murdoch said.

“ It’s been what, sixteen years now he’s been gone?” Scott asked.

“ Yes, he will be nineteen this December.” Murdoch responded. “ And you will be twenty five.”

“ You’re not going to start in on that, I’m not getting any younger for grandchildren routine are you?” Scott asked.

“ No, and no I’m not.” Murdoch responded.

“ Do you think Johnny is still alive?” Scott asked as he picked up his cup of coffee to take a sip.

“ I want to believe so until I know otherwise.” Murdoch said.

“ Let me ask you something. You said it’s rough growing up below the border. What if our Johnny…..what if he became a gunfighter down there like this Madrid kid!” Scott suggested.

“ I just can’t see my Johnny doing that son. I can’t see him picking up a gun to live by. He’s got good blood……No, he’s still alive. Probably working at some big estancia down there.” Murdoch responded.

“ Maybe for that Don Luis Terrazas ranch.” Scott said.

“ Maybe son. How about we pay the bill and call it a night?” Murdoch suggested.

“ If he did, and still was. What would you do?” Scott asked as they stood up.

“ I really don’t know son. A part of me I think wouldn’t be able to accept that someone could turn to making a living by their gun when there are other opportunities out there.” Murdoch said as they headed to the stairs.

“ But didn’t you do that very thing by being a lawman after my mother died?” Scott asked.

“ I made a living by using my gun yes, but there is a difference between me making a living by wearing badge and using my gun than say someone like that Johnny Madrid hiring his gun out purely for money. I don’t care what people say about him, Madrid is a killer, and always will be.” Murdoch said as he opened their room door.

“Madre, hay un hombre preguntando por el pueblo por ti.” ( Mother, there’s a man asking around the village for you!) Johnny blurted as he came into the shack and found a man on top of his mother again. Her legs wrapped tightly around his waist.

“ Te dije que también te mantuvieras alejado. Vete. Vete ahora antes de que te gane.”( I told you to stay away. Go, leave before he beats you.) Maria yelled as she reached for something on the small table next to the bed to throw at him.

“ Sal de aquíchico antes de darte lo que le estoy dando a tu puta madre.”( Get the hell out of here boy before I give you what I’m giving your whore mother.) the man ordered as he panted and grunted as he rose up and pound into her harder.

Johnny watched in horror as the man raised up and wrapped his hands around his mothers throat and started strangling her as he finished. Panicking, he climbed on the bed and started hitting the man in the back and head, screaming for him to get off his mother, but the man didn’t stop until he knew the last breath had escaped Maria’s now lifeless body as he arms fell to the bed, forever motionless.

“ Mataste a mi madre.”( You killed my mother. You killed her) Johnny yelled.

“ Ven aquí,peqieñi bastardo. Te voy a dar lo mismo.”( Come here you little bastard. I’m going to give you the same thing.) the man said with anger as he grabbed Johnny by the arm and jerked him around.

Johnny reached into his pocket and pulled out the small knife he had as the man threw him to the floor. Opening the blade as the man came over and reached down for him. Reaching up, he sliced across the mans cheek, leaving a deep cut.

“ Ahora tienes marca para qie pueda encontrarte cuando sea más grande y hacere pagar por matar a mi madre.” (Now you are branded so I can find you when I’m bigger and make you pay for killing my mother.) Johnny yelled as he scrambled off the floor, and out the door.

“ ¿Por quétú….vuelves aquíchico? Nadie me corta y vive. Vuelve aquí, mestizo sin valor.”( Why you…..Come back here boy. Nobody cuts me and lives. Come back here you worthless half-breed.) the man ordered as he looked for something to hold on the cut to stop the bleeding.

Johnny jerked awake and sat up, struggling to get his breathing under control. Flipping the blanket off him, he stood up and checked on Barranca before stirring the fire to life to warm off the mornings chill and heat what’s left of last nights coffee.

At a young age, he found himself all alone in a country where his kind were not liked. Heading to the hills, to a cave he knew about, where nobody would find him. Whenever he ventured into a village, the local children would chase and call him names. Even beat him badly if they caught him. Having had enough, he disappeared into the hills to live, never to be seen again until that day four years later when he watched as the Rurales dragged a man and woman out of their home as the sun set and shot them dead before riding off. Waiting until dark, Johnny went into the home and found food, clothing, bedding and the pistol that would soon become a part of his lean figure. Practicing every day, he soon got better and faster until the day came when he would start the hunt for the man who killed his mother.

Riding into Hermosillo, Johnny couldn’t believe his luck. Sitting at an outside table at the cantina was the man he vowed six years before to kill. Dismounting, he walked up to the man and stood there in front of him.

“ Quieres algo mestizo?”( You want something half-breed?) the man asked.

“ No me reuerdas,¿verdad?”( You don’t remember me do you?) Johnny asked.

“ Ahora,¿por quédemonios te recordaría?”(Now why the hell would I remember you? I despise your kind.) the man asked as he sat back in his chair.

“ ¿Quién te dio esa cicatriz?”( Who gave you that scar?) Johnny asked.

“ No es que sea de tu incumbencia, pero un astuto astuto como tútambién enseñéuna lección.(Not that it’s any of your business, but a smart ass half-breed like you I taught a lesson too.) he responded.

“ ¿Y quélección sería esa? ( And what lesson would that be?) Johnny asked.

“ Para no meter la nariz donde no pertenece.”( To not stick his nose where it don’t belong.)

“ Dime algo,¿cuántas otras mujeres has estrangulado mientras las jodiste?”( Tell me something, how many other women have you strangled to death as you screwed them?) Johnny asked calmly.

“ Chico, ya he tenido suficiente de tu mierda!”( Boy, I’ve had enough of your bullshit.) the man said as he stood up.

“ Tell me something cerdo, does the name Johnny Madrid mean anything to you?” Johnny asked.

“ I’ve heard the name. Why?” the man demanded.

“ No reason really, except that’s whose about to kill you.” Madrid said as he continued to stand there calm.

“ Like hell you’re Madrid.” the man said with anger.

“ Six years ago, you killed my mother. I’m the one who gave you that scar with my knife when you threw me to the floor. You strangled her to death while you fucked her. I told you then I would find you and make you pay for killing my mother.” Johnny said just before drawing and shooting the man between the legs.

“ Eres un bastardo mestizo. Me mataste.” (You half-breed bastard. You….killed…me.)

“ ¡Te enviéal infierno donde perteneces!”( I sent you to hell where you belong!) Johnny responded before turning, walking to his horse, mounting up, and riding away from Hermosillo.

A lot of men have faced him, and almost all have died from just one accurately placed shot. That day in Hermosillo, Madrid had had plenty of time to think about how to kill the man as he searched for him. Seeing another man shot between the legs in Laredo, that was what he decided would be the way he would avenge his mothers death, and that’s exactly what he did. Every day he got better and better, Faster and faster with the colt on his hip, the one he found at the farm that night after the Rurales rode off. The one he had custom fit for him. The sight filed off, two inches removed from the barrel, and the trigger custom made for fanning as he drew and shot whoever was foolish enough to face him. The holster he had custom made for his lean body. The side cut away, and the leather oiled to allow a faster draw.

Looking up at the stars, Johnny started to think about what his mother had told him about his gringo father. How she had told him the man had ordered her to leave his ranch, and take the half-breed baby with him. That he didn’t want such an impurity in his house.

“ If I only knew your name gringo, I would send you to hell for what you did to us.” Johnny said aloud as he poured a cup of coffee. “ Why couldn’t I be lucky like the other kids? He asked as he once again looked up at the stars. “ An older brother would have been nice to have. Someone to look up to. To teach me what I had to learn on my own. Someone to protect me from the abuse after you died.” he said softly to the darkness.

“ Hello the camp!” a voice yelled.

“ Come on in.” Johnny responded.

“ Is that skillet coffee I smell?” the man asked as he rode up.

“ No, only one man I know foolish enough to make that stuff.” Johnny responded.

“ Foolish huh? You weren’t thinking that when we were in Colorado freezing our asses off.” the man said. “ How the hell are ya kid?”

“ That depends on who you ask Val. What brings you up here?” Johnny asked as he poured his friend a cup of coffee and handed it to him.

“ Headed down below the border for the winter where it’s warmer. You?” Val responded.

“ Tracking a killer.” Johnny said as he sat back against his saddle.

“ Since when do you do the work of the law Madrid?” Val asked.

“ I ain’t doing it for the law, not this time Val. This time it’s personal.” Johnny responded.

“ That’s the worst kind. Anyone I know?” Val asked.

“ Tom Walker.” he said.

“ Walker, why he rides with the Seven Rivers gang.” Val responded.

“ Used to till about a week ago when the Beckwith brothers ran him off. You didn’t by chance come across him did you?” Madrid asked.

“ No. Knowing how him and oh what the hells the other one who’s always with hims name………..”

“ Olinger. I killed him three weeks ago. Been tracking Walker since.” Johnny cut in.

“ I sure hope he’s worth it kid, because the look I see in your eyes isn’t a good one. It’s the look a man gets when he’s going to cross that fine line between right and wrong. If he’s riding northeast, he’s probably headed for the outlaw trail up to Hole-in-the-Wall or Browns Hole.” Val suggested. “ Why don’t you come back down south with me until after winter, then go after him. You go up there now, and you’re likely to get yourself snowed in, or even freeze to death in some damn canyon.”

“ Nope, I’m not stopping until Walker pays. I promised Jessica Carter when I buried her outside Tucson, I would make them pay.” Johnny responded firmly. “ She was only sixteen Val. What they did to her, he deserves to be sent to hell just like I did Olinger.”

“ Oh lord, I know that look and vow. That means you’re prepared to follow Walker clear to hell to avenge her death. I just hope you don’t get yourself killed in the process kid.” Val said as he stood up. “ Thanks for the coffee.” he said as he mounted up. “ Let me give you a friendly piece of advice Madrid. Get out. After you find Walker and send him to hell, get out of the game. Go somewhere and start a new life where they don’t know you. Find a woman and settle down while you still can.” he said before riding off.

“ I’ll see ya Val.” Johnny said as he stood up, tossed what little coffee remained in his cup and went about saddling Barranca. Three years ago Val Crawford came into his life. Both hired out to a range war on the same side. A week after parting ways, Crawford came across Madrid with a bullet in his back, and nursed the kid back. After that, they became friends and rode together, hiring out when they needed. Both always staying on the right side of the law. Crawford, at least ten years older than Madrid, taught the kid how to read tracks and took for signs most people would miss. How to find water when there wasn’t any. Which cactus were good to eat for both rider and horse.

“ Regardless of how good the person thinks they are at hiding their trail, they always leave signs.” Val told Johnny once. Something he has never forgotten.

Settling down sounded good, but at what price? What right did a gunfighter, especially one as good as him have in hanging up his gun , finding a good woman, and settling down somewhere he wasn’t know. Hell it seemed like everywhere he went, people knew his name. Some knew him on sight. Was there even a place a man like him could go where they could live a life of peace? Maybe north, Oregon, or maybe even Montana. He’d heard ranchers in Montana were always looking for a good man, that most would quite during or right after a hard winter because they couldn’t handle the cold lonely nights alone in a cow camp killing wolves and other predators as they guarded the cattle.

Sliding his rifle into the scabbard, Johnny walked over and kicked dirt on the fire to squash the embers still glowing before swinging up in the saddle and heading to Colorado.

Research Notes: Chapter 2


Chapter 3

Murdoch and Scott rode into the Lancer yard as Teresa hurried out of the house to greet them.

“ Welcome home. I’ll take care of your horses.” Walt said as he took the reins.

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said as he dismounted and stretched his back.

“ I missed you both so much.” Teresa said as she gave Scott a hug.

“ We missed you too.” he said.

“ Oh Murdoch, what happened? I expected you both back last month!” Teresa asked as she went and gave the Lancer patriarch a hug.

“ We had a little trouble in Arizona.” Murdoch said as they three walked toward the house. “ How’s things been around here?”

“ Fine. Frank and Cipriano had to track a cat. It killed two cows before they were able to finally find and kill it.” Teresa said as they walked into the grand room.

“ Care for a drink sir?” Scott asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ Yes I would son. Scotch please.” Murdoch responded as he walked over to his desk and looked at the pile of mail.

“ There’s a letter there for you Scott from your grandfather. It came last week, and there are two from the Pinkerton’s.” Teresa said.

Scott poured a shot of Scotch and one of brandy, putting the top back on the crystal decanter before walking over and handing his father his drink.

“ Thank you son.” Murdoch said as he handed Scott his letter and took the drink.

“ Thanks. I’ll read this later. Right now I think I will go soak in a hot tub before dinner.” Scott said.

“ You have about two hours, so you can both soak if you wish.” Teresa said.

That evening after supper, Murdoch was sitting at his desk reading a letter from his brother back in Scotland. “ Your uncle says they finally passed an Education Act providing education to children ages five to thirteen. He goes on to say they now vote by secret ballot there.” Murdoch said.

“ I think every child should have the right to an education. Why look how many we have in Green River and Spanish Wells that have no knowledge of reading, writing or arithmetic.” Teresa said from the blue chair were she sat mending socks.

“ I agree sweetheart. Not everyone is as fortunate as Scott was for an education, or you either for that matter.” Murdoch responded.

“ I would have gladly traded places with anyone who wanted to go in my stead.” Scott said as he stood up. It would seem that grandfather is coming for a visit. It seems he wants to share in my celebrating my birthday this year sir.” he said as he walked over to his fathers desk.

“ As long as he behaves himself, Harlan is welcome to come visit you anytime he wishes.” Murdoch said.

“ So what did the Pinkerton letter say?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know. I haven’t opened it yet to see.”

Mister Lancer

As I stated in my last letter to you, I followed a lead that brought me to Sonora, Mexico to several villages to follow up on a couple leads about your son Johnny. I am relieved to report to you I have found your long lost son Johnny Lancer. It would seem the reason I could not locate your son for all these years is because he now goes by a different name. A name most people fear, and some seek out. Your son, John Lancer at the age of twelve started going by Johnny Madrid, age eighteen or so with dark hair, and blue eyes.

Madrid is of mixed race. His mother was a Mexican and his father a rich American from California. Up until six years ago Johnny Madrid had never been heard of. In finding I have learned that at the age of fourteen, Madrid killed a man. Shot him in Hermasillo, Mexico as he sat outside a cantina, for the brutal murder of his mother a Maria Conswella Madrid Delavega. It would seem that in my asking in the town of Sonora a man believed to be one of Maria’s many nightly callers strangled her to death in front of the child. Madrid disappeared into the hills the night of his mothers death, not being seen again for two years, when he started hunting the man who killed his mother.

Madrid is a wanted man below the border. The Rurales want Madrid in prison or dead for what he has done to them in the past four years. This agent has learned that he has killed twenty six Federal es, not in cold blood mind you. Madrid has never killed a man in cold blood. Granted killing Federal es is a crime in Mexico punishable by life in prison or death by firing squad. Basically the Rurales like to push the farmers around and take what little they have in peso’s or food. Madrid hired out to these farmers merely for a roof over his head and food in his belly.

I have numerous witness accounts of Madrid being called out on both sides of the border and every time this gunfighter would try and talk the caller out of it. In the end though Madrid would be the one walking away.

I have learned that his childhood was an unsupervised one. The boy ran the streets of the villages he and his mother lived in. He would work in livery stables when he could for pesos’. He was beaten as a child I learned from a padre and bares the scars from such beatings. I learned that in the village of Candela some boys beat Madrid badly then one of the boys stabbed him just to see what color his blood was.

I can attest that on my own witnessing Johnny Madrid is the fastest gunfighter in the south. Any man who calls him out will die. I can also attest that Johnny Madrid was not born with said name. Before his mother died a padre told me he heard tell that the boys last name was in fact Lancer and that his father had thrown him and his mother out of his estancia when he was barely two.

I have learned that Madrid is north, headed to Colorado. It would seem he is tracking one of two men still alive for the brutal rape and murder of a friends sixteen year old daughter. He was spotted by a man named Val Crawford in northwestern New Mexico, headed into Colorado.

Allen Martin

Pinkerton Agent.

Murdoch dropped the letter on his desk and stood up, walked over to the sideboard, and poured a stiff shot of whiskey and downed it.

“ Is something wrong?” Scott asked.

“ Read it.” Murdoch responded as he poured another shot and walked out onto the veranda.

Scott read and reread the letter before walking out to join his father. “ What are you going to do?” he asked as Teresa came out.

“ What’s wrong Murdoch?” she asked with worry.

“ Tell her.” Scott said.

“ No.” Murdoch said before walking back inside.

“ She has a right to know Murdoch. For sixteen, almost seventeen years you have paid the Pinkertons to look for Johnny. Now that they have finally located him, you want to deny it because of who he is.” Scott snapped back.

“ Their wrong. There’s no way he can be my son.” Murdoch bellowed.

“ Would someone please tell me what is going on. Who are you talking about?” Teresa demanded.

“ My brother, Johnny. The Pinkerton detective found him. Or I should say found out who he is.” Scott said.

“ I don’t understand.” Teresa said.

“ The reason they could never find Johnny in Mexico, is because he goes by a different name. He is called Johnny Madrid.” Scott responded.

“ Isn’t he a gunfighter?” she asked.

“ Yes, which is all the more reason and proof he can’t be my son.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ Why, you yourself told me how hard it is for someone like Johnny to grow up and survive down there.” Scott responded. “ Maybe you should have thought about the consequences more before you took his mother to bed.”

Murdoch stepped toward Scott. “ Need I remind you young man on who it is you are talking too?”

“ I’m perfectly aware of who I’m talking too. I suggest you think real hard about this Murdoch before you condemn my brother for doing what he had to do to stay alive below the border, because you couldn’t control your urges in Matamoros with his mother.” Scott said firmly.

“ You seen him. You seen how wild and reckless the boy is.” Murdoch responded as he walked back over to the sideboard and poured a drink.

“ Yes, but now we know for sure why he’s that way.” Scott said as he walked over to his father. “ Look, it’s not too late. Together we can change him. We can teach him the manners he should have, and help to stop him from doing the things he shouldn’t be doing.”

“ Are you suggesting I have that……that boy come here? Have him be around Teresa, she’s an innocent girl, and I will not have him………what he did in Tucson.”

“ We don’t know that’s what he did in Tucson. We do know he got that girl away from an abusive person. You heard those two men right before we got on the stage. Have this Pinkerton dig up more on Johnny. Have him find out everything he can and send it to you.” Scott suggested.

“ Scott’s right Murdoch.” Teresa said.

“ I will not permit that killer in this house.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Whatever happened to not judging a book by it’s cover?” Scott asked. “ Murdoch, it seems to me there are two sides. Are you sure yours balances out on the right?”

“ Mine, don’t you mean ours son? You have more at stake here than I do.” Murdoch said.

“ So that’s it. You’re more worried about the ranch than your own son. A son you have spent thousands of dollars on and over sixteen years searching for.” Scott said with a raised voice.

“ I have a gray hair for every blade of good grass on this ranch. I’ve worked twenty five years building Lancer up to what it is today. I will not risk losing that for nothing.” Murdoch responded.

“ Yet you will risk losing your own son for this land. A land that cost me my mother. No wonder Maria left you in the middle of the night. You care more about this ranch than the ones who love you.” Scott said before turning and heading to the stairs.

Madrid crossed into Colorado as the wind picked up and sleet started falling. “ Damn. Let’s try and find someplace we can get out of this weather.” Johnny said as he hunkered down into the duster he was glad he had put on over his bolero jacket earlier. The freezing sleet stinging his face every time he tried to see where they were going. “ Looks like I’m gonna have to trust you to find us a place to get out of this storm buddy.” he said as he tried to warm up his hands. After an hour of being pelted by sleet and chilled to the bone, Johnny looked up when Barranca stopped and nickered.

“ That’s far enough mister. Who are you, and what’s your business here?”a man yelled from an open door to a shack.

“ I’m just looking for a place for me and my horse to get out of this storm.” Johnny responded.

“ Climb on down and come in by the stove and warm up. My partner will take care of your horse.” the man said.

Johnny climbed down. “ You did good amigo. I owe ya.” he said as he patted the stallions neck.

“ I’ll give him some hay and grain. He looks like he could use it.” the other man said as he took the reins and led Barranca to the small barn.

“ Go sit down and pull those boots off so your feet can warm up.” the man ordered as he poured a cup of coffee for Johnny.

Thirty minutes later, Johnny was warmed up and just finishing a plate of stew. “ What you fellas doing, prospecting for gold?” he asked.

“ Us, prospectors, oh hell no. To much hard work looking for gold. No me and Charlie are ranch hands. We work for the Slash Y ranch. We were headed back down from tracking and killing a cougar when the storm came in.” Sam responded.

“ Your boss wouldn’t be needing another hand until spring would he?” Johnny asked.

“ Mister Brennan has a full crew, but he might be able to put you to work Madrid.” Charlie said.

Johnny looked at the man as he leaned back in his chair.

“ Relax. I know who you are when I seen ya. A bit north of where you usually ride ain’t ya?” Charlie asked.

“ Just up here looking.” Johnny responded.

“ Looking, or tracking a man?” Sam asked.

“ A man stopped by the ranch last month and said Johnny Madrid was seen headed north. Said Madrid was tracking a man who kidnapped, raped and murdered a sixteen year old girl. Is that true?” Charlie asked.

“ It is. Tom Walker is the man I’m hunting. Him and another man named Olinger rode into Chihuahua and killed Stan and Sarah Carter. Stole their stock and took Jessica.” Madrid responded.

“ What happened to Olinger?” Sam asked.

“ I killed him two months ago down in southern Arizona. Walker got away with help.” he said.

“ Mister Brennan is a good, fair man to work for. His wife Sari is a right nice woman too. You can ride back down with us when the weather clears and see if he’ll take you on till spring.” Charlie said.

“ Where you think this Walker fella is headed?” Sam asked.

“ Outlaw trail north. Browns Hole won’t let him stay. He’s a killer and they don’t allow but horse thieves and cattle rustlers to stay there. So I figure he’ll go to Hole-in-the-Wall and holed up for the winter, and continue on north.” Johnny responded.

“ And once you find him, what then?” Charlie asked.

“ Then I fulfill my promise and send him to hell.” Johnny said coldly.

Scott walked into the grand room two weeks after getting home. “ We finished the fence on the north section.” he said as he removed his gloves.

“ Tomorrow you can start on that surveying. That report has to go in by the end of the month.” Murdoch responded.

“ Someone else will have to do the surveying sir.” Scott said. “ I’ve been doing some serious thinking about my brother.” he said as he walked over and poured a shot and downed it. “ I’m going after Johnny.” he said.

“ You’re doing what?” Murdoch asked as he stood up. “ Do I have to remind you, that you have a responsibility to this ranch?”

“ I have a more important responsibility to find my brother and bring him home. My mind is made up.” Scott responded.

“ When are you leaving?” Teresa asked.

“ Tomorrow morning. It’s a long ride to Colorado.” Scott responded.

“ But what about winter?” Teresa asked as she walked over to him.

“ I’ll be alright. I’m sure it won’t be any worse than winter when I was in the war.” Scott said as he wrapped an arm around her.

“ You know nothing about Colorado. Just how do you plan on finding him? You can’t exactly go around asking for Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said sarcastically.

“ I’ll be fine. I’m not a little child. I do know how to take care of myself. I suggest while I am gone, you do some serious thinking about your priorities sir. About what is really more important to you, Lancer, or your own sons. Because if Johnny does come back with me, and decides not to stay and it’s because of you, then I too will leave. I won’t lose my little brother again.”

“ What about your grandfather coming here, or have you forgotten about that?” Murdoch asked.

“ I wrote grandfather asking him not to come because I will not be here. I explained to him why in short so he would know.” Scott said.  “ I’m going to get cleaned up for supper now.”

Teresa stood there looking at Murdoch, as her anger grew. “ I don’t understand you. How can you be so hateful toward someone you have spent so many years searching for……I just don’t understand.” she said before turning to leave the room, tears running down her cheeks.

“ Well I’ll be damned. Good to see you decided to grow some hair on that face of yours Johnny.” Charlie said as he walked over. “ Where ya headed.

“ Up to Dolores Canyon. Brennan asked me to take a look and see if there’s any strays up there.” Johnny responded.

“ Could be. Last winter we found twenty hundred head up there. You watch yourself, Apache sometimes frequent that canyon in the winter looking for game that wanders in there if the snow gets too deep.” Charlie said.

“ Thanks. What’s there for sleeping?” Johnny asked as he slide his rifle into the scabbard.

“ About halfway in Brennan had a cabin built with a lean-to in the back for your horse. There’s a stream that comes down from the north. It comes out under a big cottonwood tree. Follow that and you’ll find the cabin. There’s also some cliff dwellings in there. Brennan says they’re from Indians of the past who used to live there, but they’re high up. You can’t get to them on a horse.” Charlie explained. “ The cabin was stocked last month. The Indians usually don’t bother it. If they do go in, it’s to look for whiskey.”

“ Firewater huh!” Johnny said as Brennan walked over to them.

“ You sure you want to go there alone Johnny?” Brennan asked.

“ Yeah. I’ll be fine. Charlie just told me where the cabin is and some other vital information.” Johnny said.

“ I know you have unfinished business to take care of and will be leaving here in about two months. I want you to know you will always be welcome here and have a job anytime you need one. You’re a good man John.” Brennan said as he extended his hand to shake.

Johnny shook hands with the man. Thank you. You’re a damn good man to work for. I’ll see ya in a month with some stray cows and calves hopefully.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ You know, you trim that beard up some when winter is over, and it won’t look half bad on ya.” Charlie said with a smile as he shook Johnny’s hand.

Scott sat back and enjoyed a plate of hot beans, bacon, and biscuits as the sun started to go down behind the gorgeous red sandstone cliffs surrounding him. Glad he had decided to buy a pack-horse and plenty of supplies to last him a month back in  the newly started town of Antimony. Knowing his new found brother could possibly be somewhere in the southwest part of Colorado. A small wagon train he came across three days past told him the best way to get into Colorado, would be to follow the White Canyon river east to Little Ruin Canyon and the Puebloan Ceremonial Structures, also known as the Square Tower Group. From there they told him to follow the Yellow Jacket river into Colorado. That once there he would continue to follow it until he came to the canyon with the cliff dwelling ruins called Dolores Canyon and follow to the Dolores river, which would take him out if he rode upriver. The travelers warned him that once he crossed into Colorado, he would be on Slash Y land, the biggest ranch in southwestern Colorado.

Coming across a small band of Ute Indians, Scott traded a bull elk he’d shot that morning for chokecherries, Indian carrots, and potatoes and some wild onions. Communication limited between them, he was able to learn the best canyon to take that would protect him from the bitter February winds. As a token of his gratitude, he gave them a five pound sack of sugar he had. Sweets were a welcomed rarity for them. He couldn’t help but admire them for their way of living for hundreds or more years living off the land the way they did. It also saddened him knowing that the white man would come more and gradually the Indians would be forced off their land they have lived off of, and forced to live on sections the government deemed suitable for them.

Setting his plate down, Scott reached into his saddlebag and pulled out the Pinkerton report he insisted on bringing with him as proof of what he would say to Johnny. What he would say, or how, he hadn’t quite figured that out yet. Whichever way he did, he would have to do in a way that didn’t possibly get him killed. Reading the ages in the report, Scott found himself getting angry. Seen his mother murdered at the age of eight. Became Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter at the age of twelve. Killed his first man at the young age of fourteen, now eighteen years old, Scott wondered just what kind of education his little brother had, if any.

Johnny lay in bed dreaming, but this dream was different though. It was like he was looking down at his mother in a house like none he had seen before. She was holding a baby in her arms as she sat next to a gringo man who was smiling as they talked. Looking down at himself as a baby, secure in the arms of his mother, like a child should be. Who were they talking about though. Moving down to sit next to the baby and his mother, Johnny looked at the gringo. His face looked so familiar t him. Like he had seen him before, but not as a baby, but where. Then he found himself alone in the same room, but it was almost all dark. Only a single lamp burned from a table between the two blue chairs. Where did, wait, someone was coming down the stairs. It’s his mother, and she’s carrying him him her arms as well as a burlap sack. Johnny watches as she goes outside where she hands the baby off to another man. A man dressed all in black. This man seemed familiar to him also, but why.

“ No me dejes. Por favor no me dejes.” ( Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.) Johnny cried out as he watched his mother leave with this man, disappearing into the darkness. Turning, he walked back inside to find it was now daylight and the man from before hurried down the stairs frantically calling for his mother as he hurried outside and called some man to him. A man named Paul.

“ Saddle my horse and get some men together. Maria left sometime in the night, and took Johnny with her.” the man said.

“ Don’t worry Mister Lancer, we’ll find them.” the man named Paul said as he hurried off.

“ Lancer!” Johnny yelled, but his words fell on deaf ears. Nobody could hear him in his dream and then she was there, standing before him.

“ Yes my son, it is true. You are a Lancer. Your father did not throw us out in the middle of the night. As you just seen, I left, taking you with me.” Maria said.

“ But why? Why would you leave a home where we were loved? A home where I was safe?” Johnny asked

“ He did love you. He loved you very much, and my leaving hurt him greatly. He has searched for you every day since.” Maria responded.

“ Searched for me…….That is why we kept moving around so much? It was because of him. He wanted us to come back home!” Johnny said.

“ Yes. He had Pinkerton men searching for us. Please forgive me my son. I was young and foolish. I met him in a cantina in Matamoros. I got pregnant with you, we married and went to his big estancia in California to live. I always felt like I trapped him into marrying me. I knew he loved you, oh how he loved you so much my son. One day he was gone and I went to town. That is where I met the gambler man. I did not plan it, but it happened, and soon we were meeting in secret for almost a year before he asked me to go to Mexico with him. It wasn’t easy for me to lie to you for all those years about your father Johnny. Go to him. He is a good man. Go to him and ease his pain. The pain I have caused him to have for sixteen years.”

Johnny jerked awake and sat upright in bed, sweat ran down his face. Turning the lamp next to the bed up, he got up and went to the stove to stock the fire. The early morning chill creeping in. Sliding his pants, boots and coat on, Johnny stepped out back to see if the cows were still there. Barranca walked over and pressed his head into his chest for some early morning rubbing.

“ Hey amigo. It seems just about my whole life has been a lie.” Johnny said as he rubbed the stallions face. “ Sixteen years, a lie.” Johnny said as he tossed some hay in the corral for his friend. “ I see that smallest calf hasn’t moved all night.” he said as he stepped inside the corral, and walked over to the calf. It’s mother didn’t even protest when he walked up to it. “ Nice job mom.” he said as he reached down and picked the calf up and headed inside. “ I’ll do what I can for you little one until I can get another cow to suckle you.”

Scott rode out of Dolores Canyon and stopped. Seeing a smoke trail way off in the distance, he figured that would be the ranch, and headed toward it.

“ Rider coming in Mister Brennan.” Sam said.

“ Who is it?” Brennan asked.

“ Not one of ours. He’s leading a pack horse.” Charlie responded.

“ Probably another miner.” Jake added.

“ I don’t think so. He don’t look like no miner.” Charlie said.

“ You thinking maybe he might be looking for Madrid?” Sam asked.

“ Let’s wait and see boys. I want no mention of Johnny being here.” Brennan said as Scott rode up to them. “ What can I do for you?”

“ My name is Scott Lancer. I’m looking for the Slash Y owner.” Scott said.

“ I’m the owner, Cal Brennan. You wouldn’t be any relation to a Murdoch Lancer of the San Joaquin valley out in California would you?” Brennan asked.

“ Yes sir I am. I’m his oldest son.” Scott responded.

“ Climb on down and come inside. The least I can do is warm you up.” Cal said. “ Charlie, take the mans horses to the barn and see they get some hay and grain.”

“ Sure thing mister Brennan.” Charlie said as he took the lead rope from Scott.

“ Thank you.” Scott responded as he dismounted, and pulled the Pinkerton report from his saddlebag, and stuck it in his coat pocket as he followed Brennan to the house.

“ What you think he’s doing all this way out here from California” Sam asked.

“ I don’t know. That was a Pinkerton report he took out of his saddlebag. It’s clear he’s been riding all winter though.” Charlie responded as they walked the horses to the barn.

“ Come on in and go warm yourself up by the fire.” Brennan said. “ Care for a little something to warm up the insides?”

“ Thank you.” Scott responded as he walked over to the big fireplace made from river rock.

“ Took me three months to build that chimney for Sari. There’s a slightly smaller one in the kitchen.” Brennan said as he walked over and handed Scott a glass of brandy. “ Have a seat. Tell me why the son of Murdoch Lancer is in Colorado.”

Scott said down and relished in the comfort of the chair compared the hard ground. “ Well sir. I’m looking for my brother.” Scott responded. “ I was told he came up here from Arizona. I was wondering if you’ve hired or seen anyone looking like him?”

“ I have a lot of men working for me. What’s your brother look like?” Brennan asked.

“ He’s a little shorter than me, dark hair, blue eyes. His mother was Mexican. His name is Johnny Lancer, but he goes by another name, Johnny Madrid.” Scott responded.

“ Johnny Madrid? The gunfighter?” Brennan asked.

“ Yes sir. I have a Pinkerton report here sir you’re welcome to read. It show’s I’m telling the truth.” Scott responded as he pulled the report out of his coat pocket.

“ Only a fool with a death wish would say he’s Johnny Madrid’s brother.” Brennan said as he took the report and read it. Walking over and pouring a drink after he handed the report back. “ I don’t think you’re a fool. Madrid works for me.” Brennan said as he walked over and poured Scott another drink. “ He hired on beginning of winter. He’s up in Dolores Canyon gathering up strays. I can send a hand to fetch him back here, or you can wait until he comes back with the strays.”

“ Dolores Canyon. I followed the Yellow Jacket river to Dolores Canyon.” Scott responded.

“ You rode right past the line-shack Most likely he was farther upriver than where the Yellow Jacket comes in.” Brennan said.

“ I never seen a line-shack.” Scott said as Brennan’s wife walked into the room.

“ It’s up a stream some so it doesn’t get washed away in the spring thaw.” Brennan said. “ This is my wife, Sari.”

“ Mister Lancer, won’t you join us for supper?” Sari asked.

“ Scott is going to be staying with us a day or two Sari.” Brennan said.

“ Alright, I’m sure you would like to freshen up before supper. The washroom is just off the kitchen.” Sari said.

“ I should go take care of my horses first ma’am.” Scott said.

“ I’ll walk out with you.” Brennan said.

Johnny hoped the cow wouldn’t kick him and kill the calf as he walked over to her slowly. “ Easy girl. He needs a mother, and you lost a calf.” Madrid said as the calf started suckling. He’d found the mother cow that morning standing over her dead newborn calf. “ I’ll give you two today to get acquainted while I’m out looking for more strays.” Johnny said as he patted her side.

That afternoon as Johnny worked his way back toward the cabin he noticed two sets of tracks that weren’t there yesterday, coming from the Yellow Jacket river, and going along the Dolores river headed east. Both horses shod, but only one being ridden.

“Must be a miner.” Madrid said aloud as he followed the tracks out of the canyon were they headed south. Turning Barranca around, he headed to the line-shack for the night. “ I think we’ll head back to the ranch in the morning. Nine cows and six calves, they’re gonna need more food than they can scrounge up in this canyon buddy. Besides, I could use a hot bath.” Johnny said as he turned Barranca to go up the stream to the line-shack.

Brennan walked into the barn with Scott, and found Charlie and Sam tossing feed down from the loft for the nights feeding. “ Charlie, Sam, come on down here for a minute.” Brennan ordered.

“ Sure thing boss.” Charlie said.

“ It was these two who found him in an early snowstorm. He rode up to one of our line-shacks about half froze.” Brennan said as Sam and Charlie came down. “ Boy’s, as you know, this is Scott Lancer. He’s here for Johnny. He’s his brother. Now I need the two of you at first light to ride to the line-shack and have Johnny come back in. If he ask you why, tell him I have news about where Walker is.”

“ I would appreciate it if neither of you said anything about me being here. I have a feeling Johnny will leave if he knows.” Scott suggested.

“ As long as you know Johnny is our friend, and if you have any notions about hurting him, it will be the biggest mistake you ever made.” Sam said firmly.

“ I can appreciate that. I assure you, I have no intentions of hurting him. My intentions are to save him from the life he’s been forced to live for so long.” Scott said.

“ Uh, me and Charlie kinda figured it being so late in the day and all, we figured you would stay so we unsaddled your horses and gave them a good rubbing down.” Sam said.

“ Thank you. Mister Brennan and his wife have asked me to stay here. Perhaps since you have been working with Johnny, you can help me get him to see reason.” Scott suggested.

“ See reason, what’s that mean?” Sam asked.

“ Scott would like to get Johnny away from living by his gun. Instead he wants him to live a life kind of like what he’s been doing here boys as a hand.” Brennan explained.

“ Except at home where he would be a third owner of one hundred thousand acres.” Scott said.

“ How big is Lancer?” Charlie asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres with twenty thousand head of cattle.” Scott responded. “ We have about one hundred and fifty hands, some with families working for us.” he added.

“ Holy cow, and here I thought the Slash Y was big. Johnny will be a fool to pass up being a part owner of a spread like that.” Charlie said.

“ You have to remember boys, it’s not always easy for some people to change their livelihood. They have to want to change it.” Brennan added. “ Let’s go let you get cleaned up and settled before supper.”

“ It’s good meeting you Scott.” Charlie and Sam said as they went back to the hayloft.

“ You see what I see?” Sam asked as he reined his horse to a stop.

“ Yeah.” Charlie said as they started toward the golden stallion standing in the meadow, his rider slumped over. Blood trickling down the left arm, dripping off the fingertips.

“ Easy, we don’t want to spook him. The smell of blood might have him spooky already.” Charlie said as they rode up to Barranca easy.

“ Oh man, Johnny, it looks like he’s been shot in the back.” Sam said as he dismounted and went to Barranca. “ Hold Barranca so I can get on behind him.”

“ Charlie reached out and took hold of the rein as Sam swung up behind Johnny. “ You don’t know if his horse will carry two riders!”

“ He’ll have too.” Sam said as took the reins and started toward the ranch. “ Ride ahead and tell Brennan what’s

“ Mister Brennan, Charlie is riding in hard and fast.” Jake said.

Brennan and Scott hurried outside just as Charlie galloped under the gate arch.

“ Johnny’s been shot. Sam is bringing him in.” Charlie said.

“ How bad is it?” Scott asked.

“ Looks bad. He’s lost a lot of blood.” Charlie responded.

“ Is there a doctor who can come here?” Scott asked.

“ The nearest doctor is in Gunnison.” Brennan responded

“ How far is that?” Scott asked.

“ Two hundred miles. I know you’re worried Scott, but Sari knows what she is doing. You have to trust me on this.” Brennan said.

“ I do, I just……somebody waited until he rode past and then shot him!” Scott said with anger.

“ He was shot in the back. The angle looks like whoever it was, shot him from above.” Brennan said. “ The only place he could have been shot from above is in the canyon.”

“ You think maybe it was someone looking for Madrid?” Charlie asked.

“ The only ones who know he’s here work at this ranch, and he looks nothing like when he came here.” Sam said.

“ I didn’t even recognize him with the beard, and I had just seen him last summer in Arizona.” Scott said as Mrs Brennan walked into the room.

“ He’ resting. I cleaned and flushed the wound and stitched it up. All we can do now is wait and hope he doesn’t get an infection.” Sari said. “ The bullet missed the bone and only tore through muscle and flesh. You can go sit with him if you would like Scott.”

“ Thank you……for everything……both of you.” Scott said before heading to the room his brother lay in.

“ Excuse me Mister Brennan.” Jake said. “ Me and a couple of the hands rode out to the canyon to see if we could find anything to tell us maybe who shot Johnny. All we found were the strays he’d rounded up at the entrance. It looks like he was bringing them out.”

“ Johnny was shot from above.” Brennan said.

“ There’s only one place a person could shoot down and not be seen between the entrance and where he would come out from the line-shack..” Sam added.

“ Are the cows still in the canyon?” Brennan asked.

“ Yes sir. Nine cows and six newborn calves.” Jake responded.

“ Take some men and go get them. Johnny was shot bringing those cows out. The least we can do is finish the job for him. “ Brennan ordered.

Sari waited until the hands left before speaking to her husband. “ Cal, I have never seen someone with so many scars on them before. His back has numerous scars from being whipped. He’s been shot at least six times that I seen, and has countless scars from being cut with a knife.”

“ His life hasn’t been an easy one Sari. Scott showed me the Pinkerton report. He was orphaned at eight years.” Cal said.

“ Some of the scars are newer Cal. He’s gotten them in the last two, maybe three years.” Sari said before turning and walking away.

Scott sat on the edge of the bed looking down at a face he didn’t recognize as the same person he’d seen just last summer, A face that belonged to his little brother. Something he had always wanted to be, was a big brother. Now all he could do is pray he would get that chance. Taking a cloth and wetting it in the basin next to the bed, he began to wipe away the sweat on Johnny’s forehead and face, noticing how long his brothers eyelashes were, and wondering about the small deep scar under the left eye. Pulling the blanket down to wipe the sweat from his chest, Scott was startled to see the scars on his brother. Knife and whip scars, as well as several bullet wound scars. Shaking his head as he wiped him down he made a promise that only a big brother could make.

“ I promise you from this day forward Johnny, that nobody will ever beat you again. Never again will you have to suffer like you have in the past. I swear this to you as your big brother.” he said softly.

Research Notes: Chapter 3


Chapter 4

“ Despierta a mi hijo. Tienes que despertarte. Tu hermano esta aqui. Él te ha estado vigilando.”( Wake up my son. You have to wake up. Your brother is here. He has been watching over you.)

“ No tengo hermano.”( I have no brother.) Johnny said.

“ Si tu puedes. Tu padre, se casóantes que yo. Tu hermano, él es una buena persona. Se preocupa por ti.”( Yes you do. Your father, he married before me. Your brother, he is a good person. He worries for you.)

“ Por favor no me dejes de nuevo.”( Please don’t leave me again.) Johnny begged.

“ Nunca te dejaré, hijo mío. Siempre estaréen tu corazón. Solo cierra los ojos y me verás. Siempre estaré aqui.”( I will never leave you my son. I will always be in your heart. Just close your eyes, and you will see me. I will always be here.)

“ Madre por favor, mi padre y mi hermano, no querrán. Por favor regrese.”( Mother please, my father and brother, they will not want me. Please come back.)

Scott picked up Johnny’s right hand. He knew enough Spanish to know his brother was talking about him and their father. How could he think they wouldn’t want him. Once he learned how long they have searched for him.

“ It’s alright Johnny. Open your eyes.” Scott pleaded as Brennan came into the room.

“ How’s he doing?” Cal asked.

“ He was just dreaming and talking aloud. I think he’s starting to wake up.” Scott responded as he stood up.

“ Open your eyes Johnny.” Brennan said as he walked around to the other side of the bed. “ Open your eyes. I don’t pay good wages for laying around doing nothing.”

A mans voice. A voice he didn’t know, calling him by name. Wages, laying around, he knew that voice, Brennan, he was moving the cows and their babies from the canyon when he heard the shot, and felt the white hot pain start in his left shoulder as Barranca took off running.

“ The calf.” Johnny said barely above a whisper.

“ What did he say?” Brennan asked.

“ It sounds like he said the calf.” Scott responded. “ Come on, open your eyes.”

“ Come on Johnny, let me see those blue eyes.” Cal demanded. “ Open your eyes or I will kick your ass so hard boy, you won’t be able to sit for a month. Now open your eyes.” Cal ordered.

Johnny opened his eyes and blinked several times. “ Calf.” he mumbled.

“ Don’t you worry about the calves. They’re fine.” Brennan said.

Johnny looked toward the voice. “ Hey boss. Lo siento. Siento haberte fallado.” ( I’m sorry. I’m sorry I failed you.) he said before coughing.

“ What did he say?” Brennan asked Scott.

“ He said he’s sorry he failed you.” Scott responded.

“ It’s alright Johnny. You didn’t fail me. Scott, poor him some water.” Brennan said and asked.

Scott poured a glass of water and sat back down on the bed. “ Here, sip this.” he said as he reached behind Johnny to help him sit up enough to drink the cold water.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he laid his head back down on the pillow. “ You…..I know you.”

“ Yes you do.” Scott said as he set the glass on the table.

“ Hermano?” Madrid said. “ You’re my hermano.”

Scott looked at Brennan and then at Johnny. “ How did……?”

“ She told me.” Johnny said.

“ Do you remember what happened?” Brennan asked.

“ Was moving the cows when I heard a shot and felt the pain in m shoulder.” Madrid responded as he tried to sit up more.

“ Here, let me help you sit up better.” Scott said as he reached behind Johnny and helped him sit up straight so he could be moved back against the pillows.

“ Look who decided to wake up Sari.” Cal said as his wife walked into the room.

“ Out, both of you. I need to change his bandage and check the wound.”

Teresa sat on the veranda doing needlepoint when Murdoch rode up. The look on his face told her there was no wire or letter from Scott.

“ He’s probably in the mountains where there isn’t a place to send a wire. I’m sure he’s alright.” Murdoch said having seen the disappointed look she had as he walked over to sit down.

“ Have you done any thinking about the horrible things you said the night before Scott left?” she asked.

“ I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since Scott left young lady.” Murdoch responded.

“ And?” she asked.

“ And……..I can’t do anything about it until both my sons come home.” he responded.

“ I hope you really mean that Murdoch. I hope what you said about Johnny hasn’t made Scott so angry at you that he doesn’t bring him home were he belongs.” Teresa said as she set her needlepoint down and stood up. “ I have a pot of stew in the stove for lunch.”

“ Have you seen Johnny?” Scott asked Mrs Brennan.

“ He walked down to see the calves from the canyon. He told me about one whose mother rejected it right after birth, and how he got another cow who lost her calf to accept the rejected one.” Sari responded.

“ Really. We’ve tried that at Lancer and were never able to make it work with the cattle.” Scott replied. “ If you will excuse me. I think I will take a walk.”

Johnny stood at the fence watching the calf suckle on his adoptive mother.

“ Is that the calf you were talking about?” Scott asked.

“ Probably. Don’t remember much of what I said.” Johnny responded.

“ He has some unusual markings. We’ve tried to have another cow take an orphaned calf back at Lancer. It;’s never worked. How’d you get it too?” Scott asked.

“ Why you here? What the hell do you want from me?” Johnny asked bluntly, ignoring Scott’s questions.

“ I’m here because you are my brother, and I want to get to know you Johnny.” Scott responded.

“ Go home. You don’t want me as a brother.” Johnny said before walking back toward the house.

Scott stood there watching his brother walk away.

“ Want some advice?” Brennan asked from the barn door.

Scott walked over to the man. “ I didn’t realize he would be so stubborn. In fact, he’s as stubborn as our father.”

“ Johnny needs a firm hand. Keep on him. Don’t let him push you away Scott. He needs you, and I think that scares him.” Brennan said.

“ Giving up is something I have no intention of doing.” Scott responded.

“ Then go after him.” Brennan said before turning and going back in the barn.

Scott headed to the house and found Johnny sitting inside talking to Mrs Brennan. “ Ma’am. Let me tell you something Johnny. I don’t give up that easy. If you think you can scare me off because you’re this big bad kid gunfighter, think again……brother…..I didn’t ride over a thousand miles in winter to find you, just to have you tell me to go home. You know nothing about me.”

“ And you know nothing about me, so we’re even.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ Johnny, I don’t like getting in other peoples business, but I am this time. Sit down…!” Sari ordered. “ You too Scott. Now, I am going to go in the kitchen and start supper, I don’t want either one of you to leave this house until you talk, and I mean talk. Is that clear?”

“ Yes ma’am.” Scott responded.

“ Johnny?”

“ Yes ma’am. Mister Brennan said you have a temper.” Johnny said.

“ Yes I do.” Sari said as she headed to the kitchen.

“ She reminds me of Maria, our cook back at Lancer.” Scott said. “ She has a temper to be reckoned with. Make her angry, and she goes off in Spanish.”

“ Is that supposed to mean something to me?” Johnny asked.

“ I want to show you something.” Scott said before leaving the room.

Johnny stood up and readjusted his arm in the sling as he walked over by the fire to warm himself.

“ I want you to read this report. It was waiting for me and our father when we got home.” Scott said as he walked over to Johnny, and handed him the paper.

Johnny took the report and walked over to the couch to sit down and read it. “ I always wondered what people said about me. Guess now I’ll find out huh?” he asked as he started to read the report.

Mister Lancer

As I stated in my last letter to you, I followed a lead that brought me to Sonora, Mexico to several villages to follow up on a couple leads about your son Johnny. I am relieved to report to you I have found your long lost son Johnny Lancer. It would seem the reason I could not locate your son for all these years is because he now goes by a different name. A name most people fear, and some seek out. Your son, John Lancer at the age of twelve started going by Johnny Madrid. Age eighteen or so with dark hair, and blue eyes.

Madrid is of mixed race. His mother was a Mexican and his father a rich American from California. Up until six years ago Johnny Madrid had never been heard of. In finding I have learned that at the age of fourteen, Madrid killed a man. Shot him in Hermasillo, Mexico as he sat outside a cantina, for the brutal murder of his mother a Maria Conswella Madrid Delavega. It would seem that in my asking in the town of Sonora a man believed to be one of Maria’s many  nightly callers strangled her to death in front of the child. Madrid disappeared into the hills the night of his mothers death, not being seen again for two years, when he started hunting the man who killed his mother.

Madrid is a wanted man below the border. The Rurales want Madrid in prison or dead for what he has done to them in the past four years. This agent has learned that he has killed twenty six Federal es, not in cold blood mind you. Madrid has never killed a man in cold blood. Granted killing Federal es is a crime in Mexico punishable by life in prison or death by firing squad. Basically the Rurales like to push the farmers around and take what little they have in peso’s or food. Madrid hired out to these farmers merely for a roof over his head and food in his belly.

I have numerous witness accounts of Madrid being called out on both sides of the border and every time this gunfighter would try and talk the caller out of it. In the end though Madrid would be the one walking away.

I have learned that his childhood was an unsupervised one. The boy ran the streets of the villages he and his mother lived in. He would work in livery stables when he could for pesos’. He was beaten as a child I learned from a padre and bares the scars from such beatings. I learned that in the village of Candela some boys beat Madrid badly then one of the boys stabbed him just to see what color his blood was.

I can attest that on my own witnessing Johnny Madrid is the fastest gunfighter in the south. Any man who calls him out will die. I can also attest that Johnny Madrid was not born with said name. Before his mother died a padre told me he heard tell that the boys last name was in fact Lancer and that his father had thrown him and his mother out of his estancia when he was barely two.

I have learned that Madrid is north, headed to Colorado. It would seem he is tracking one of two men still alive for the brutal rape and murder of a friends sixteen year old daughter. He was spotted by a man named Val Crawford in northwestern New Mexico, headed into Colorado.

Allen Martin

Pinkerton Agent.

“ Damn bucket mouth Val.” Johnny said as he set the paper on the couch next to him. Memories of his mothers death flashed through his mind as he put his head back. The words his mother spoke telling him the truth. Telling him to go home.

“ You have no idea what trouble you’re asking for if I go back to this Lancer.” Johnny said. Never raising his head. “ There’s men out there that will do anything to kill me. They’ll learn where I’m at and come calling.”

“ Lancer takes care of it’s own.” Scott responded.

“ I’m not a Lancer.” Johnny responded.

“ Yes you are. You were born at Lancer on December 23rd, 1854 Johnny. Our cook Maria, she helped Sam Jenkins deliver you.” Scott said.

Johnny stood up. “ How come he’s not here then?” he asked.

“ Because he has a ranch to run Johnny. Lancer is a big ranch, and it takes a lot of people to run it that he is responsible for.” Scott responded. Remembering the harsh words exchanged the night before he left.

“ Just how big is this ranch?” he asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres. We’re running roughly twenty thousand head of cattle. We have one hundred and fifty vaqueros, some with families working for us.” Scott responded. “ A third of that is yours Johnny. Lancer is your birthright.”

“ I’m a gunfighter. The best of my trade. I ain’t no rancher or son of a rancher.” Madrid said as he walked over and looked out the window.

“ Being a gunfighter is not who you are Johnny.” Scott said.

Spinning around, Johnny walked up to Scott. “ When he read that report, I want to know what he said? What his thoughts were learning his long lost kid is an infamous gunfighter?”

“ He was shocked Johnny. He’s searched for you for sixteen, almost seventeen years. We didn’t know if you were alive or dead. Every day I watched the heartache he had when I would find him sitting at his desk just starring at the picture he has of your mother. Learning you were still alive shocked both of us.” Scott responded.

“ Learning I was still alive isn’t what shocked him. It’s learning his son is a gunfighter. That’s what shocked him, and I’d be willing to bet he didn’t want you coming after me. He probably cares more about his precious ranch than he does his own flesh and blood.” Johnny said with anger.

“ That’s not true Johnny.” Scott snapped back. “ Look, you say you’re not the son of a rancher. That you’re a gunfighter. Let me ask you this……Which are you more? Because I don’t see a gunfighter working at a cattle ranch, caring about an orphaned calf and stray cattle in the middle of winter when he can be in some town somewhere drinking and gambling without a care in the world until someone comes along and calls him out brother.”

“ Don’t call me brother just because we share that old mans blood. You mean nothing to me.” Madrid spat. “ The only reason he married my mother was because he got her pregnant with me. He didn’t want a bastardo kid running around tarnishing his good name.”

“ Do you really believe that Johnny? Or are you just saying that because of the lies your mother told you about him?” Scott demanded.

“ Don’t you ever……..speak about my mother like that again.” Johnny ordered. “ You know nothing about me except for that damn report.”

“ I’m trying to get to know you Johnny. Look, like it or not I’m your big brother okay. You can either keep denying that, or act like the man you’re supposed to be, and we can have a normal brother to brother conversation.” Scott suggested.

“ We have nothing in common, and like I said, you mean nothing to me.” Johnny said before walking out of the room when Mister Brennan walked in.

Scott stood there watching his brother walk outside before going over to the couch and sitting down.

“ It won’t be easy.” Cal said as he walked over and sat down.

“ To tell you the truth Mister Brennan, I think he’s scared to accept that he has a family that wants and loves him.” Scott responded.

“ I’ve only known Johnny a few months, but in that time, both me and my hands have come to like and respect him. He’s a hard worker, and he cares.” Brennan said. “ Him saying what he did before walking out, he doesn’t mean that. Just give him some time. He has a lot to take in after being on his own for all those years with nobody to care about him.”

“ How do I get him to realize he’s not alone anymore?” Scott asked.

“ Time and a lot of patience Scott. Johnny will come around eventually. He just has to sort it out in his mind before he can start accepting.” Brennan responded.

Johnny worked with Sam fixing fences that needed repaired through April. Fifty thousand acres was all the bigger the Slash Y was, but to Johnny, it felt like a place he could belong. Could he ever belong at Lancer? That question alone kept running through his mind almost every day. Brennan and Sari knew that once all the fencing repair was done, he would be leaving to continue his search for Walker.

Brennan knew Johnny had made a promise to a sixteen year old girl after burying her, and a mans word was everything out here. Without it, he has nothing.

“ We’ll be done with all the fencing by the end of the week. You still planning on leaving Johnny?” Sam asked.

“ I have a promise to keep Sam. I’ve made that no secret since we first met.” Johnny responded.

“ I know, it’s just that…….me and the boys are gonna miss ya. You’re a damn good man, and well….. I’m proud to call you my friend.” Sam said as he sank a post.

“I’m glad to know you too Sam. The Slash Y has been like a home to me.” he said.

“ You coming back after you find Walker, or you going to that ranch Scott talks about out in California?” Sam asked.

“ I don’t know. He says his old man wants me back there, but I don’t think he does Sam. I don’t think he wants to accept me as his prodigal son.” Johnny responded.

“ Only one way you’re gonna find that out. You know you can always come back here if it doesn’t work out. Mister Brennan told you that before you got shot.” Charlie said. “ You talked to him much?”

“ No, I………you hear that?” Johnny asked.

“ What the heck is that?” Sam asked as they went to their horses.

Jess Evans opened the door to the cabin him and his gang used as a saloon The person he sought was standing at the bar drinking a beer.

“ Walker!” Jess said as he walked over to the man. “ You know the rules from anyone who stays in Browns Hole?”

“ Yeah, horse thieves and cattle rustlers only.” Walker responded.

“ That’s right. The law don’t bother coming in here so much for cows and horses. That’s why we don’t want no killers in here. You see, someone who commits a murder, well that’s gonna bring the law right to that there door. Now you, you lied to me and my men when I asked you last fall. You committed murder down in Mexico. Now normally I wouldn’t let that bother me, but you and another fella took a sixteen year old girl after you killed her folks. You raped and murdered that girl just outside of Tucson, which isn’t in Mexico.” Jess said as he stepped closer to Walker and looked at his men sitting at a table. “ You know what’s worse than having the law come here for you?”

“ Look Jess, It was Olinger who did the raping and killing. Not me.” Walker responded.

“ I asked you a question. I don’t like repeating myself!” Jess said.

“ No.” Walker responded.

“ Worse than the law is a liar, and the man hunting that liar who goes by the name of Johnny Madrid.” Jess said.

“ Madrid don’t know where I’m at Jess. I left him almost dead in Arizona.” Walker said.

“ No you didn’t. In fact, Madrid has been working at the Slash Y through the winter. It’s because of him we haven’t stolen any Slash Y cattle. That half-breed can track better than any Indian ever could. He’s after you and I want you gone from here………now.” Jess ordered.

“ You owe me for helping you steal that herd of horses last week.” Walker demanded.

Jess pulled his gun. “ Boy’s, take Walker here outside and see he gets his pay before he leaves.”

“ You bet Jess.” Cory said as they escorted Walker outside.

“ Mister Brennan, you might want to come take a look at what Johnny and Sam are bringing in.” Charlie said with a smile from the barn door.

Brennan walked outside with Cooper and Seth. “ What in the world.”

Johnny and Sam walked their horses up to Brennan and stopped. “ Found a new kind of stray.” Sam said.

“ Where on earth did he come from?” Brennan asked as he reached up and took hold of the little girl.

“ Found him in the middle of Beaver Creek scared to death.” Sam said as he dismounted.

“ Take your filthy hands off me you dirty bastards. I don’t need your help.” the boy yelled as he struggled to get free of Brennan’s hold.

Johnny got off Barranca as Scott walked over. “ You best mind your manners boy. Unless you want to take a trip out behind the barn.” Johnny ordered.

“ You keep your hands off me you filthy greaser.” the boy ordered.

Sam grabbed the boy and spun him around. “ What did you say?”

“ You heard me you no good for nothing……..Hey, let go of me!” the boy demanded.

Johnny had had enough. Grabbing the boy by the arm, he spun him around and started toward the barn. “ Charlie, would you take care of Barranca for me?”

“ Sure!” Charlie responded.

“ Where ya going?” Sam asked.

“ To teach this boy some manners.” Johnny responded as the boy kept yelling and struggling to get free.

“ That boy won’t be sitting for a week when Johnny gets done with him.” Sam said. “ I never heard the likes of what I did spew from that boys mouth on the way here.”

“ It might have all been for show. If that boy’s folks are dead, maybe he feels the only thing left for him to do is act that way.” Brennan said before heading to the house.

“ Mister Brennan, I would like you to meet Andy Taylor.” Johnny said. “ Andy here has something he wants to say to you.”

“ I’m sorry for the way I acted and for what I said earlier.” Andy said.

“ Apology accepted.” Brennan said as he winked at Johnny. He knew the boy got the buckle end of Johnny’s belt.

“ Where you from Andy?” Brennan asked.

“ Nebraska. Me and my pa were headed west when we were attacked by Indians. His horse stumbled and I couldn’t do anything to help him.” Andy said.

“ You have any other family?” Scott asked.

“ No, my ma died last year.” Andy responded. “ I’m a hard worker, If’n you was to give me a job, I promise I’ll work real hard for ya.”

“ How old are you kid?” Scott asked.

“ Sixteen.” Andy responded.

“ Tell ya what. I’ll think on it tonight and let you know tomorrow about a job.” Brennan said.

“ You turn me over to the law and I’ll squig out of there the first chance I get. I ain’t going to no orphanage.” Andy said firmly.

“Did I say anything about the law or taking you to an orphanage. No I didn’t, besides the closest one I know of is in Denver. I have a ranch to run. I’m not hauling a sixteen year old boy to no orphanage over three hundred miles away. Johnny, show him where he can bunk down for the night and make sure he gets something to eat, and a bath.” Brennan said.

“ I ain’t got but the clothes I’m wearing?” Andy said.

“ I’ll take you to the trading post and get you some clothes.” Brennan said as Sari walked into the room. “ Sari, this is Andy. He’s going to start working for us mucking out the barn and feeding.”

“ Welcome to the Slash Y Andy. Johnny, are you still planning on leaving end of the week?” Sari asked.

“ Yes ma’am. I have unfinished business.” Johnny responded as he glanced at Scott.

“ I can’t stop you from following me.” Johnny said. “ So I’m going to say this one time, and just one time only. You try and stop me, or interfere in any way with when and if I get called out, you’ll get me killed. My life I live by the minute because at any time someone can call me out and be faster than me. I have every intention of making Tom Walker suffer a great deal before I kill that sonofabitch for what he did to Jessica Carter. You try and stop me, and you’ll find yourself at the wrong end of my colt.” Johnny said firmly as he saddled Barranca.

“ First off little brother, I’m not a child. I know how to take care of myself, and if you think I am going to just stand by and let someone gun you down, you are sorely mistaken. Also, I know you’re not a cold blooded killer Johnny. Sure you shot Olinger, but you didn’t kill him. Therefore I have no intention of trying to stop you from committing murder. It’s you who will have to live with that for the rest of your life, not me.” Scott said. “ I know, because I have every day for the last seven years.”

“ Last seven years. What, you have to shoot a horse because of something stupid you did and it broke it’s leg?” Johnny asked sarcastically.

“ Your sarcasm isn’t necessary little brother.” Scott said. “ No, I shot and killed a man in he war. A friend of mine. He begged me to do it because he was gut shot.” Scott responded as he led the pack-horse out of the stall.

“ You were in the war huh? What’d you do?” Johnny asked.

“ I was in the cavalry unit. I served with General Phil Sheridan.” Scott responded. “ I guess you wouldn’t know anything about fighting in a war though.” Scott added as he led his horse out of his stall.

“ I know more about fighting in a war than you every will Scott. Every day was a war for me below the border. Every day I fought to stay alive. When I got older, I fought with others to try and put an end to the Mexican reign. The anarchy, but I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that given you grew up not needing for anything and having a silver spoon in your mouth.”

“ Don’t try and lay a guilt trip on me for what your mother did to you brother.” Scott said as he grabbed the pack-horse’s lead rope and started outside.

Johnny followed him out leading Barranca. “ Let’s get something straight right here, right now boy. You may have served in the Civil War and had to kill your best friend to end his suffering, but you have no idea what it’s like to go days without food, people beating you, throwing rocks at you just because of what you look like. Your rich pappy buying you good clothes, sending you to school, eating a fancy meal every night, sleeping in a soft bed between sheets with a pillow for your head. You haven’t had another kid cut you just to see if your blood was red or brown.” Johnny said with anger.

“ No I didn’t brother, and my life hasn’t been as cushy as you think.” Scott responded as Brennan, Sam and Charlie walked up to them.

“ John, remember what I said, you’re always welcome here.” Brennan said.

“ I do Mister Brennan.” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand. “ You tell your wife…….”

“ I will. Scott, take care. I hope things work out between the two of you. Just remember what I said about adjusting to something new.” Brennan said as he shook Scott’ hand.

“ I will. I thank you for taking care of him and for all your hospitality.” Scott responded.

“ Don’t you go getting yourself killed Johnny.” Charlie said as they shook hands.

“ Don’t plan too.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Scott mounted up and started toward the gate. He knew it wasn’t easy for his brother to be leaving. He knew Johnny had built a strong friendship with Brennan, Charlie, and especially Sam

“ Charlie, why don’t you go check on how the boys are doing in the south range for me?” Brennan requested before turning to head back inside.

Johnny stood there waiting until it was just him and Sam alone. “ I think of you more as a brother than I do him.”

“ Same here. He doesn’t seem all that bad really. Talks kinda funny though. Like those eastern dandy’s I heard Mister Brennan talking about once.” Sam said.

“ Yeah.” Johnny responded.

“ Listen, drop a letter and let us all know how you’re doing!” Sam said.

“ I will. It’s a pleasure knowing you Sam.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle and reached down to shake hands.

“ And if you do decide to go to California, well hell, I just might take me a long ride and come visit you.” Sam added as they shook hands.

“ You’re welcome at my fire anytime Sam. Tell that old retro-bait Charlie he is too.” Johnny said before turning Barranca and heading toward his waiting brother.

Johnny stopped and looked down at a small quiet little valley with a stream running through it. “ We’ll make camp down there.” he said as Scott rode up next to him.

“ Where are we?” Scott asked.

“ The Ute call it Uncompahgre. It has several meanings it loosely translates to.” Johnny said as they looked out over the valley. “ Dirty Water, Red Lake or Red Water Spring, all of which are in reference to the many hot springs in the area.”

“ Hot springs?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, the Ute use them for healing rituals and other things.” Johnny responded.

“ How is it you know so much about this area?” Scott asked.

“ I’ve been here before. That Pinkerton didn’t do too good a job telling you about me. I’ve worked clear up in Montana almost into Canada. Came back down through western Montana. Spent part of a winter in Bannack and the rest in Virginia City, Montana. Those miners like to get drunk and gamble away their gold. Those idiots will work their ass off all week panning for gold on the Ruby river clear up by the Beaver Head, come down for the weekend and be broke by Sunday Morning.” Johnny explained.

“ Do you speak their language?” Scott asked.

“ Who, the Ute, no. I speak English and Spanish, nothing more. You might come across a banned that speak English, but most speak their own language.” Johnny responded as Barranca stepped down into the creek. “ Did you grow up at Lancer?”

“ No, my grandfather raised me in Boston.” Scott said as he rode across the stream. “ Where do you want to bed down at for the night?”

“ Edge of the trees so we don’t have to stray to far for wood.” Johnny responded.

“ And you have cover if needed.” Scott added.

“ You’re catching on.” Johnny said with a smile.

Two hours later camp set up, Johnny brought an arm full of firewood and dropped it in the pile he already had.

“ That should be enough wood for the night. Coffee hot yet?” he asked.

“ Yes. Why so much wood?” Scott asked as he poured a cup and handed it to him.

“ To stay warm tonight and be able to cook breakfast. Besides, it will help if wolves decide to try and get at the horses.” Johnny explained.

“ Are there wolves in the area?” Scott asked.

“ Guess that answers your question.” Johnny said as a wolf howled not too far off, and was answered by another farther away. “ Beautiful sound isn’t it?”

“ As long as they stay away from us.” Scott responded.

“ Relax Boston. They’re not interested in us. They’re communicating to locate each member of the pack. Each one’s howl is different. A males howl will be higher pitched than a females.” Johnny explained.

“ During the war, I seen wolves feeding on the dead. It’s not something I care to see again.” Scott responded.

“ How many you figure died in that war?” Johnny asked as he poured another cup of coffee.

“ They say half a million or more.” Scott responded.

“ That’s a lot of dead men in four years. Who did you serve with?” Johnny asked.

“ General Phil Sheridan at Shenandoah and Waynesboro.” Scott responded. “ I was wounded and that’s when I was taken prisoner and sent to Andersonville.”

“ I heard about that place. They said it was worse than being in hell.” Johnny said.

“ Hell about sums it up.” Scott said.

“ So when did they war end?” Johnny asked.

“ On April 9th, 1865 Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox courthouse. Three days shy of four years.” Scott responded.

“ Wrong. There was a final battle in Texas. A place called Palmito Ranch. That battle happened on May 13th, 1865.” Johnny stated.

“ I was in prison, so I wasn’t aware of that battle. I imaging there were a few after his surrender. Took time for the news to get around.” Scott responded.

“ Yeah I expect. Still had ones like Quantrill’s Raider’s who refused to surrender.” Johnny said.

“ So what makes you so sure Walker is in Wyoming?” Scott asked.

“ The Seven Rivers gang. The leader, Hugh Beckwith, he robs stagecoaches and has even killed, but he’s never done what Olinger and Walker did to the Carter family.” Johnny explained.

“ Outlaws with morals, how nice.” Scott said as he reached to pour another cup of coffee.

“ Yeah Scott, outlaws with morals. Is that so hard for you to believe? Hell even I have my morals and a code gunfighters live by.” Johnny said with anger as he got up. “ It’s no different than the morals you believe in and your own set of rules you follow every day.” he added before turning and walking over to the horses.

Research Notes: Chapter 4


Chapter 5

Walker rode out of Horseshoe Canyon and into Manila, Utah as the sun started to set behind the tall red sandstone cliffs to the west. Just past the north end of town was the Wyoming state line. Tired, wet and hungry, Tom stopped at the livery and paid the man for a nights care for his horse before heading to the saloon to warm his insides with some whiskey and food.

“ What’ll ya have?” the bartender asked.

“ Whiskey. What you got for food?” Walker asked as he looked around.

“ Hot food, spuds and meat for six bits.” the man responded.

“ Sounds good.” Walker said before downing his shot.

“ Spring rains can be pretty heavy and cold. Why don’t you go sit down at that table over by the fire and I’ll have your food brought to you when it’s done.” the bartender suggested.

“ Thanks. Oh hey, you heard about any Indian activity in Wyoming?” Walker asked.

“ They say a band of Bannock attacked a homestead last fall about thirty miles north of Fort Bridger. Don’t know if there’s any truth to it though.” the bartender responded.

“ How far to this Fort Bridger?” Walker asked.

“ About sixty miles.” The man said before turning and heading back to start cooking his meal.

“ Looks like a storm coming at us from the west. Lets get across that river before it rises from all the rain in the higher elevations.” Johnny ordered.

Scott couldn’t help but smile as he laid his rain slicker across his horses neck and swung up in the saddle. Not knowing what kind of education his brother had school wise, he knew he had a good self taught education for surviving the elements. Something he had witness a lot of men not have during the war.

“ You grew up hard, and grew up fast didn’t you little brother?” Scott asked.

“ Had too if I wanted to stay alive Boston.” Johnny responded.

“ Can I ask why you call me Boston? My name is Scott.”

“ I don’t know Boston, guess because that’s where you’re from.” Johnny responded with a smile.

“ You’re from Mexico, but I don’t go calling you Madrid, so could you please not call me Boston?” Scott requested.

“ Madrid is my name, and you can’t call me that unless you want to get me killed. Where I calling you Boston, well that don’t mean nothing to anyone but you and me.” Johnny responded.

It dawned on him then why, and he felt like an idiot, not realizing that by calling him Boston, Johnny was accepting him in his own way.

“ I guess I was perhaps too harsh. I’m sorry Johnny. You have a unique way of explaining things.” Scott said. “ Can I ask you a question?”

“ Ask away. Whether I’ll answer I don’t know.” Johnny said.

“ How much schooling did you get?” Scott asked.

“ I’ve had some, nothing like you’ve had, but I can read, write, and do my sums.” Johnny responded as they reached the Dolores River.

“ I learned some from others on numbers, and learned reading pretty much on my own with a book I have.”

“ I can help you……If you want.” Scott suggested.

“ Maybe I will. Here, give me the pack-horse. Walk your horse in here and stay about twenty feet below that rapid rock line. Cross at a curved.” Johnny said as he took the pack-horses lead.

Six hours later Johnny and Scott rode into Moab Trading post just as the rains started.

“ You fellas might want to think about bedding down here for the night. That storm looks like a big one coming.” A man said as they dismounted.

“ You got anything in the way of a hotel here?” Scott asked.

“It’ll cost ya six bits each for the horses, unless you want them out in the weather, then it’s two bits.”

Johnny pulled out three dollars and handed it to the man. “ Give them all extra hay and grain.”

“ You don’t have to pay me extra for that Madrid. I’ll take real good care of them for you and your friend.” the man said.

“ How you know who I am?” Johnny asked as he led Barranca into a stall.

“ A few years ago I was in Virginia City. The gold I got up there is why I got me a place down here.” the man responded. “ I seen you kill two men up there that were drunk and foolish enough to calls ya out. I’ve never seen anyone as fast as you are.”

Johnny finished unsaddling Barranca and went to start taking the gear off the pack-horse. “ Who serves the best food here?”

“ Place down the street called The Bennett”s Travelers Rest Inn. They rent by the day and the rooms would be a lot better than the hotel across the way. A lot quieter too.” the man said. “ Look for the sign out front.”

“ A husband and wife running a boarding house?” Scott asked.

“ Nope, brother and sister. Been here three years now, and fixed the place up real nice.” the man responded.

“ Bennett, Is that Steve and Amy Bennett?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah, that’s them.” he responded.

“ Is there a problem Johnny?” Scott asked.

Johnny picked up his rifle and saddlebags, and walked to the door.

Murdoch walked in the house and over to the sideboard, pouring a shot of whiskey and downing it as Teresa walked into the room.

“ Any word from Scott?” she asked.

“ No.” Murdoch answered with anger as he poured another shot and walked over to his desk.

“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked as she walked over to the desk.

“ I’m sorry sweetheart. No there was no wire or letter from Scott. There is a wire from Harlan though. It would seem he will be stopping by next week to visit after he concludes some business in San Francisco.” Murdoch said as he sat down.

“ I thought Scott told him what he was doing and to not come?” she asked.

“ So did I.” Murdoch responded.

“ I hope Scott is alright. I miss him so much.” Teresa said before turning and heading back to the kitchen.

“ So do I. Why the devil are you coming here Harlan?” Murdoch asked himself aloud.

“ Either I’m looking at a ghost, or what I heard was wrong.” Steve Bennett said as he walked up to Johnny

“ That depends on what you heard.” Johnny said as the two men stared at each other before embracing in a hug. “ The liveryman told me who was running this place. I never thought I would see the two of you ever again.”

“ That makes two of us.” Steve responded. “ Man, this is going to shock her. She cried when we heard you were killed. It really upset her Johnny.”

“ She inside?” Johnny asked.

“ No, she’s out at a settlers farm she buys our eggs from. She should be back soon.” Steve responded.

“ You got two rooms available?” Johnny asked.

“ Sure do, come on inside and I’ll show you where everything’s at so you can clean up before supper. I hope fried chicken is alright?”  Steve asked as he walked into the big house.

“ Sounds fine.” Johnny said as they stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

“ There are four bedrooms upstairs, and four downstairs. Me and Amy’s rooms are off the kitchen at the back so we don’t wake anyone getting up in the mornings to prepare breakfast. The washroom is downstairs here at the end of the hall. I haven’t been able to get the one finished upstairs yet. Our business has dropped some since the railroad decided to go through Green River instead of here. We don’t get that many people coming through.” Steve explained.

“ These will do fine.” Johnny said as he opened the door to the first bedroom.

“ Alright, well I need to go finish splitting some wood for the stove and fireplace so, I’ll see you in a bit after you freshen up.” Steve said.

“ Can I help you?” Brennan asked.

“ I’m U.S. Marshal Ben Daniels. I’m looking for two men. I was wondering if you’ve maybe seen either one?” the marshal said as he pulled out a paper. “ I have a dodger on one of them for murder. The other one is tracking him for that murder.” he said as he handed the dodger to Cal.

Wanted for the Murder of the Carter Family

Tom Walker


around 23 years of age

5’9” 160 Pounds

Sandy brown hair

Brown eyes.

“ That’s a nice size reward marshal. This murder happen in Mexico?” Brennan asked.

“ Mexico and outside Tucson. Last summer. He rode with the Seven Rivers gang. We caught up with them, the youngest Beckwith brother said they ran him off and he headed north.” the marshal explained as he got off his horse.

“ Who’s the other man? The one trailing this Walker?” Brennan asked.

“ Johnny Madrid. I would like to catch up to Walker before Madrid does. He caught up with the other one, Olinger down in Arizona. John Beckwith said he was torturing the man when he decided to end it. Said his bullet killed Olinger, but also hit Madrid.” the marshal explained. “ I want to keep Johnny from crossing that line. I know him, he’s not a cold blooded killer.”

Brennan handed the paper back to the marshal. “ I don’t know about this Walker fella, but Johnny was here. Worked for me through the winter. Come inside and warm up Marshal, there’s something you need to know that’s happened.” Brennan suggested. “ Andy, take the marshals horse to the barn and give him some hay and grain.”

“ Yes sir Mister Brennan.” Andy said as he took the reins and led the horse away.

“ Who’s that with Brennan? Sam asked.

“ U.S. Marshal Ben Daniels. He’s after a man named Walker for murder. Hey, Mister Brennan said Johnny is Johnny Madrid. Is that true?” Andy asked as he led the horse into a stall.

“ Yeah Kid, it’s true.” Sam said.

“ Gosh, I heard he’s so fast he shot the head of a rattler once and it took that poor snake three days before he knew he was dead.” Andy said as he poured some grain in a bucket for the horse.

“ You could say Johnny is the fastest gun west of the Mississippi, and east of China too.” Sam said. “ Look, Andy, don’t be talking about Johnny as Madrid around anyone who doesn’t work here that you know okay. The wrong people find out, it could get him killed if he comes back here.”

“ I wouldn’t do that Sam. I like Johnny. He whooped on me good, but I deserved it. I hope he does come back here.”

Two hours later Marshal Daniels, and Cal Brennan walked out of the house.“ You’re more than welcome to stay the night Marshal Daniels.” Brennan suggested.

“ Thank you, but if Madrid left here a week ago, I have some hard riding to do to catch up to him. Maybe me and this one you say is his brother can stop him from killing Walker.”

Amy walked in the house and heard voices coming from the living-room as she removed her coat and scarf. Walking in she stopped abruptly and stared in disbelief.

“ We heard wrong baby sister.” Steve said with a smile.

Johnny set his cup of coffee down and stood up. “ Hello Amy.” he said softly as he walked up to her.

Amy just stood there staring at the man standing in front of her as a tear ran down her cheek.

“ I thought I told you you’re much to beautiful to be crying.” Johnny said as he placed his hand on her face and gently wiped away the lone tear with his thumb. “ Do I at-least get a hug?” he asked as Amy reached up and took his hand in hers, and leaned into it.

“ I……I thought I would never see you alive again.” Amy finally said softly s she started to shake.

Johnny pulled her into his chest and wrapped his arms around her tightly.

“ Scott, why don’t we go to the kitchen.” Steve suggested.

Johnny and Amy just stood holding each other. Neither one wanting to let go.

“ Please tell me I’m not dreaming.” Amy said finally as she stepped back just enough to look at him. “ I never thought I would see those blue eyes again.”

“ I never thought I would see your green eyes again.” he said before kissing her gently on the forehead.

“ You’ve grown up. You’re not that skinny kid anymore.” Amy said with a laugh.

“ So have you.” Johnny responded. “ I never expected to find you and your brother in Utah of all places.”

“ I can say the same about you too. Moab, Utah is a long way from Mexico. What are you doing here?” Amy asked.

“ Keeping a promise to someone.” Johnny responded.

“ Must be a woman to bring you clear up here.” she said.

“ It is. A sixteen year old girl who was brutally murdered along with her parents.” Johnny explained.

“ You’re tracking the killer.” Amy said. You must be hungry. Let me get supper started and we can talk.” she said as she started to head to the kitchen.

Johnny reached out and grabbed her arm, stopping her. “ I didn’t know. I’m sorry you thought I was dead all this time Amy.”

Amy stepped closer to him. “I wasn’t a little girl the last time you seen me, and I’m not a little girl now Johnny.” she said softly.

“ I know.” Johnny said as he wrapped his arms around her neck.

“ You were the first person I ever kissed and felt something.” she said as their mouths came together

“ How long you known Johnny, Scott?” Steve asked.

Scott looked at his brother. Neither having told yet that they are brothers.

“ About two months. We met in Colorado at a ranch.” Scott responded.

“ Steve, Amy, Scott is my brother.” Johnny said.

“ Your what?” Steve said. “ You two look nothing alike. How can you be brothers?”

“ My old man was married before he met my mother. It seems my mother lied to me. My father didn’t throw us out. She left in the middle of the night with a gambler, and took me with her.” Johnny explained.

“ Our father has had a Pinkerton looking for Johnny the last sixteen years.” Scott added.

“ Who’s your old man?” Steve asked.

“ Murdoch Lancer, of Morro Coyo, California. He has a big ranch there. Scott says it’s the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin valley.” Johnny added.

“ What are you going to do?” Amy asked.

“ I don’t know once I keep my promise.” Johnny said as he looked at her and smiled.

“ My little brother seems to be having a hard time accepting the fact that he is a third owner of a one hundred thousand acre ranch and over ten thousand head of cattle.” Scott said. “ Where is it the three of you know each other from?”

“ Laredo was the first time we seen him.” Steve said.

“ The second time he found me and Amy hiding from Indians who attacked and killed our parents. He got us to Silver City, and made sure we were okay before he left. He got us with a real nice family.” Amy said.

“ How long ago was that?” Scott asked.

“ Four years ago next month.” Steve said.

“ What ever happened to the family that took you in?” Johnny asked.

“ The wife got sick and died and the husband started drinking, so we left. We came here and bought this place. It’s taken a lot of hard work, but we’ve gotten it fixed up and were doing good until the railroad decided to put their track north of here.” Amy said.

Johnny heard footsteps in the hall stop outside his room. Sitting up, he threw his legs over the side of the bed as the door opened. He knew it was Amy. He had hoped she would come to him for the night. A night he had wanted with her four years ago, but didn’t have.

“ Johnny.” Amy said softly as she stepped into the room and closed the door.

Johnny reached over and turned the lamp up just a little as Amy walked over to the bed and stopped.

“ Are you sure?” he asked.

Amy stepped over in front of him and opened her robe, letting it drop to the floor. The light from the lamp dancing off her silky smooth skin. “ I’ve never been more sure.” she said as he reached for her and pulled her down onto the bed next to him.

“ God you’re beautiful Amy.” he said as he let his hands start to wander over her body, touching forbidden places.

“ I know nothing can ever come of us together.” Amy said an hour later as she lay on her side, her fingers playing with the hair on his chest. “ But, do you ever think about that day?”

“ You mean the day I rode away without taking you to bed?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes.” Amy said.

“ Riding away from you was the hardest thing I have ever done Amy.” Johnny responded. “ I never wanted a woman as bad as I did you that day. I know I could have taken you in the barn, but that wouldn’t have been right.” he said as he rolled over on top of her. “ This is how I wanted it to be Amy. Me and you, nothing between us, in a bed, making love all night.” he said as he started to suck on her breast.

“ It doesn’t bother you that I’m two years older than you?” Amy asked as she started to respond to what he was doing to her.

“ Not at all. If it did, I would have turned you away.” Johnny said as they started to move as one again.

“ Good morning Scott.” Steve said. “ Coffee’s hot. Care for a cup?” he asked.

“ Sure. Your sister and Johnny up yet?” Scott asked as he sat down.

“ Not yet. I expect we wont see those two for a spell yet.” Steve responded. He could hear his sister and Johnny earlier when he walked past to the kitchen.

“ Does it bother you what they’re doing?” Scott asked.

“ You mean does it bother me that Johnny took my little sister to bed and they’re not married, yeah, she’ll be twenty one in a couple months, so she’s old enough to make her own decisions.” Steve responded as he sat down across from Scott. “ You disapprove?”

“ I do. If she was upset thinking he was dead four years ago, what makes her think there could be anything between them now beyond…. surely she has to know they can never have a future between them as a couple.” Scott suggested.

“ Pretty harsh words coming from you. Don’t you want Johnny to live a life other than by his gun? A life of happiness, with someone to love and share that new life with?” Steve asked.

“ Of course I do, but Johnny himself has told me that because of the reputation he has as the best gunfighter west of the Mississippi, and east of China, men will come gunning for him. How fair would that be to Amy, having him gunned down?”

“ I can understand and respect what you’re saying Scott, but you’re forgetting one thing. It’s not our decision, it’s theirs.” Steve said.

“ He’s tracking a man named Tom Walker for murder.” Scott said. “ Him and another man murdered a family Johnny knew. He made a promise to their sixteen year old daughter when he found her body that he would hunt them down and make them pay. I seen what he did to the first one down in Arizona Steve. If it was my sister, I wouldn’t want her involved with someone like that.”

“ He’s not a cold blooded killer Scott. You just said he is keeping a promise to an innocent sixteen year old girl, whom I assuming he buried, to find the men who killed her parents and her, and send them to hell. I would do the same thing. And I would be willing to bet, so would you.” Steve said. “ Look, last night you said you’ve only known Johnny a couple months. I’d be willing to bet, you have never been around a gunfighter or someone like Johnny before. You two are still getting to know each other. Give it time. My father told me once that if you read the first and last chapters of a book, you’re going to miss the best parts and never know what happens in the middle.”

“ Your father gives good sound advice. My college professor said the same thing o me once. Where are you and Amy from originally?”

“ Missouri, St. Louis.” Steve responded. “ We had a very tall and stately home with white marble columns and a rose garden Amy and our mother lived to spend the day in. It sits way up on a hill in a grove of Black-heart Hickory. If you look off in the distance, you could see the Mississippi river, gently rolling down toward New Orleans.”

“ What made you move out west?” Scott asked.

“ Our father lost the home in a bad business deal.” Steve said.

“ Did you happen to know the Emmett Russell family?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. He is the mayor of St. Louis. A very nice family. How is it you know the Russell family?” Steve asked.

“ I spent a considerable amount of time in St. Louis once.” Scott responded.

“ I could get used to this.” Johnny said.

“ What’s that?” Amy asked as she rode up.

“ Waking up next to you.” Johnny said as he pulled her over on top of him.

“ I need to go start breakfast.” Amy said with a smile.

“ It can wait.” Johnny said as he started making love to her again.

“ Good morning you two.” Amy said with a smile as she walked into the kitchen an hour later with Johnny.

“ Morning sis, Johnny. We were just talking about St. Louis. I was telling Scott about the house we lived in.” Steve said. “ Are you two leaving today?” he asked.

“ Yeah. I have unfinished business I need to finish.” Johnny said as he sat down.

“ I’ll get started on breakfast.” Amy said.

“ You coming back this way?” Amy asked as she stood next to Barranca in front of the house.

“ Do you want me too?” Johnny asked.

‘ You know I do. But I also know the dangers you face, ad that’s okay, because I would be happy with every second I could have with you Johnny.” she responded.

“ Happy enough to go to California with me and Scott?” he asked.

“ Yes.” she said before kissing him.

“ It was a pleasure meeting you Scott. Take care of him.” Steve said as they shook hands.

“ Pleasure meeting you as well Steve.” Scott responded before mounting up and taking the pack-horse’s lead from Steve.

“ I love you Johnny.” Amy said before he swung up in the saddle.

“ Steve, you take care. I’ll be back.” Johnny said before riding north.

“ You got any plans?” Scott asked as they rode north.

“ Like what?” Johnny asked.

“ With Amy? I heard what you said to her and then to Steve before we rode off.” Scott responded.

“ You always eaves drop on someone else’ conversation Boston?” Johnny asked as he stopped Barranca.

“ I’m just wondering if you have any intentions of going back to Lancer with me is all, and if you do, will Amy being coming with us?” Scott said as he reined his horse around to face his brother. “ You were out of line last night Johnny, taking her to bed.”

“ She came to me. It was her choice.” Johnny said with anger. “ Lets get something straight right now Scott, you may be my brother and all, but that don’t give you the right to tell me what I can or cannot do. You know nothing about me or how I feel about Amy.”

“ Then why don’t you tell me something about you Johnny. Damn, I’m trying to get to know you. Why the hell are you being so secretive about yourself?” Scott demanded.

Johnny jumped off Barranca and went to Scott’s horse. “ Get down.” he ordered. “ Get off your horse now!”

Scott got off his horse and found himself flat on his back. “ What the hell is wrong with you? Do you want to keep living by that damn gun?” Scott demanded as he got up and wiped at the blood on his lip.

“ How I live is no concern of yours. You really think that old man is going to welcome me back with open arms? He got my mother pregnant before they were married. Keeping his good name clean is the only reason he married her. He may not have thrown us out like she said he did, but that doesn’t change the fact that he will want nothing to do with having a pistolero for a son.” Johnny spat back.

“ You don’t know that. You haven’t even given him a chance to try.” Scott said as he went to his horse. “ Big, bad, tough, Johnny Madrid is nothing but a coward when it comes to facing his father he was robbed of sixteen years ago. You continue like you are Johnny, and you’ll be dead by thirty. And when you go, you won’t even leave a small ripple. What I’m offering you is the only good thing that’s ever happened to you your whole life, and you’re going to just ride away from it, and all for nothing. But I guess that’s all you got going for you from now on.”

“ And how long do you think it would last Scott?” Johnny asked as he went back to Barranca.

“ You don’t give at all do you? All pride and cut from the same mold as Murdoch. Not one inch of give.” Scott said as he turned his horse and headed north.

U.S. Marshal Ben Daniels rode hard for three days until he came to the Uncompahgre and found where two men with three horses rode down, crossed the creek and made camped for the night just inside the tree line. “ Two days, maybe three ahead of me now. I’ll bet with that storm that just came thru, you and your brother headed to Moab for shelter.” Marshal Daniels said as he headed west into Utah.

“ Can we talk Amy?” Steve asked as he stocked the kitchen wood bin.

“ You know you don’t have to ask me that. What about?” Amy responded.

“ You and Johnny.” Steve said as he removed his gloves. “ He said he was coming back here. Are you going to go with him to California?”

“ If he asks me I might. Why?” Amy responded.

“ What about this place? We’ve put a lot of work and money into it.” he asked.

“ Yes we have, but that was because we thought as did the others in town that the railroad was going to build a line thru here, not thirty miles north. Listen, I know you’re not happy about me and Johnny being together like we were.”

“ Stop right there big sister. I’ll tell you like I told Scott, you are old enough to make your own decisions. I just don’t want you getting hurt is all. You’re a beautiful young woman who deserves someone in her life who will love you and treat you right. I just hope if you do decide to go if he comes back here, you think about all the risk that comes with being with someone like Johnny.” Steve cut in and said.

“ Little brother, I love you dearly, you know that. I won’t make any decisions, especially a decision like that without considering everything and talking to you about it.” Amy responded.

“ Do you love him enough knowing you could lose him when he gets called out?” he asked.

“ Yes I do. Look where we live Steve. I’ll be twenty one in a couple months. There’s no men around here that would treat me the way Johnny would.” Amy responded.

“ That’s all I needed to know. As long as you will be happy, I’m fine with it.” Steve said as someone knocked on the front door. “ I’ll get it.” he said.

“ Can I help you sir?” he asked.

“ I’m U.S. Marshal Ben Daniels. The man at the livery told me you had two men stay here a couple nights ago.” Marshal Daniels said.

“ I’m not at liberty to say who stays at our house Marshal.” Steve said.

“ May I come in?” Daniels asked.

Steve stepped aside and let the marshal enter. “ This man is a U.S. Marshal sis. He wants to know about two men who stayed here a couple nights ago. I told him it’s none of his business who stays here.”

“ Ma’am, are you Amy Bennett, the owner?” the marshal asked.

“ Yes, I own this boarding house with my brother Steve there. Why?” Amy responded.

“ Miss Bennett, I’m tracking a killer named Tom Walker, who is being tracked by a man named Johnny Madrid. Now I mean no trouble. I promise you. I know Madrid, and all I want to do is get to him before he makes a mistake that will affect the rest of his life.” Marshal Daniels explained.

Amy looked at her brother. “ He told me he was tracking this Walker man, and that he intended on keeping a promise he made to a sixteen year old girl he knew. A girl he said he had to bury outside Tucson last summer.”

“ Ma’am, please. How long ago did they leave here?” Daniels asked.

“ Scott and Johnny rode out of here yesterday morning marshal. Johnny said he had a feeling Walker might be headed toward Hole-in-the-Wall up in Wyoming.” Steve said.

“ Thank you. Like I said, I mean no harm. I just want to stop Madrid from making a mistake.” Daniels said as he headed to the door.


Chapter 6

Walker rode into the Fort Bridger encampment and stopped outside the saloon. Dismounting, Walker stepped up onto the walkway and looked around. Several settler wagons waited just down the street outside the mercantile store as supplies were loaded up for the trail west. Going inside he walked up to the bar and ordered a beer.

“ When did the railroad build a line through here?” he asked the bartender.

“ Three years ago. Most people take it west, but a few still go by wagon like those outside.” the bartender responded. “ Where ya headed?”

“ Where’s the next big town going east?” Walker asked.

“ That would be Rawlins. It’s about hundred and eighty miles. Train stops there. It will be headed east coming through next week if you want to wait.” the bartender suggested.

“ I prefer my horse. How far to Medicine Bow?” Walker said as he paid for his beer.

“ Medicine Bow……that’s a long ride. That’s over two hundred miles. You got business in Medicine Bow?” the bartender asked.

“ Not particularly. Any ranches around there?” Walker asked.

“ The biggest is the Crow Creek Ranch. You might be able to find work there.” the bartender responded before walking away.

“ Lets see just how far you want to follow me Madrid.” Walker said as he finished his beer and left.

Johnny and Scott rode into Manila, Utah as a late spring snowstorm started and the winds picked up. “ Let’s get them bedded down and see if there’s a room available.” Johnny said as they rode into the livery barn and dismounted.

“ You gents got here just in time. This is a big one.” an old man said as he came and took the pack-horse from Johnny.

“ The weather always like this?” Scott asked as he undid his saddlebags, and grabbed his rifle.

“ Spring storms sometimes gives us more snow than all winter. Stays colder here because of all the tall cliffs. I don’t think the river will thaw out for two more months.” the man said as he led the pack-horse into a stall. “ You want him stripped down?”

“ Yeah, how much?” Johnny asked as he led Barranca into a stall and started removing the saddle.

“ With good feed and grain, six bits a day.” the man said as he started undoing the pack straps.

“ How long you figure this storm could last?” Scott asked.

“ Day, maybe two. Most likely will change to rain and make a mess of everything. Usually does in the spring.” the old man said as he removed the pack and set it on the rail. “ Names Percy. I’ve been here most of my life.”

“ You wouldn’t happen to remember if a man came through a few days ago headed north.” Johnny asked.

“ Had one looked like he’d been living out of his saddlebags a spell. Horse was glad to get some feed. He stayed the night and headed toward Fort Bridger two days ago.” Percy responded.

“ About my height, sandy blonde hair?” Johnny asked.

“ That’s him. Didn’t really like the looks of him, but his horse needed feed.” Percy said. “ You two bounty hunters?”

“ No.” Johnny said as he walked out of the stall with his saddlebags and rifle.

“ The Minot Hotel down the street is a good place to stay. Foods real good there.” Percy said.

“ We appreciate the information.” Scott said as he paid the man. “ I’ll settle up with you if we have to stay longer than a day.”

“ Alright. I’ll curry them down real good for ya.” Percy said.

Harlan Garrett stopped his buggy outside the Lancer house and climbed down as Murdoch came out of the house. “ Hello Murdoch.” he said.

“ Harlan.” Murdoch responded as he walked over to the man. “ Scott’s not here.” he said.

“ When will Scotty be back?” Harlan asked.

“ I don’t know. He said he told you he was leaving.” Murdoch responded. “ Hank, would you take Mister Garrett’s luggage up to the guest room?”

“ That was six months ago he sent me that wire.” Harlan said as they walked into the house.

“ This is my ward, Teresa.” Murdoch said.

“ Hello, Scott has told me many wonderful things about you.” Teresa said. “ Would you like some fresh made lemonade or a cup of coffee?”

“ Lemonade will be fine young lady. Thank you.” Harlan responded.

“ What are you doing here Harlan?” Murdoch asked as he walked over to his desk and sat down.

“ Surely we can have a friendly conversation Murdoch?” Harlan asked.

“ Why? Our last conversation wasn’t on that basis.” Murdoch responded.

“ Well perhaps you’re right, but that was years ago. Any differences between us are finished.” Harlan said.

“ Here you go. I’ll leave you two to visit while I go start supper.” Teresa said as she handed Harlan a glass of lemonade.

“ Thank you young lady.” Harlan said as he took the glass from her.

Murdoch waited until Teresa had left the room. “ Are they?” he asked.

“ Well there’s nothing to be gained by hostilities Murdoch. You have Scotty here with you, your splendid ranch, wealth, everything you want.” Harlan responded as he walked over to the desk and picked up a picture. “ Dear precious Catherine. I don;t remember this picture.”

“ One of the memento’s you left behind in Carterville.” Murdoch said.

“ She was the only thing of real value in my life.” he said.

“ The only thing? What about Scott? Were does he register on that scale?” Murdoch asked.

“ Catherine was my daughter.” Harlan snapped back.

“ She was my wife. The mother of my son.” Murdoch said with anger as he stood up.

“ I did what I thought was best. It was my responsibility.” he responded.

“ To kill her. If she hadn’t been moved. If you had waited until I got there.” Murdoch said.

“ What chance would she have had in that filthy little town? I wanted only what was best for my Catherine.” Harlan said as he set the picture down.

“ Do you call your best leaving her to die in the back of a wagon on a deserted road?” Murdoch demanded.

“ That’s all in the past Murdoch.” he said as he picked up the other picture. “ I this your other sons mother?”

“ Yes. That’s Maria.” Murdoch responded.

“ My Scotty is out there somewhere looking for his half-breed brother when he should be home with me back in Boston helping me run my business.” Harlan said.

“ Scott is a grown man. If looking for his brother is what he wants to do, then he has every right to do that. Lancer will still be here when he comes home.” Murdoch said.

“ I raised him Murdoch, not you.” Harlan responded.

“ Now it all makes sense. You’re here to try and take Scott back to Boston with you.” Murdoch said.

“ Scotty has a legacy waiting for him in Boston. An estate of considerable wealth.” Harlan said.

“ He has a considerable wealth right here at Lancer.” Murdoch snapped back.

“ To be shared with his half-breed brother, if he finds him and brings him home?” Harlan demanded.

“ You raised Scott yes, but he made the decision to come home to Lancer on his own Harlan. When he comes back, if he wishes to go back to Boston, I won’;t stop him. But it has to be his decision. Not yours and not mine.” Murdoch said firmly. “ Now if you will excuse me, I have a ranch to run.”

“ Marshal, what brings you here in this weather?” Percy asked.

“ Percy, you old retro-bait. I thought you’d be retired by now.” Marshal Daniels said as he dismounted.

“ Now why the hell would I want to go and do that Marshal? You know my Martha won’t allow it.” Percy responded. “ You tracking someone?”

“ I am. You wouldn’t by chance have had two riders come in in the last day or so have ya?” Daniels asked.

“ Yeah. Two came in yesterday afternoon late when this storm started up. They’re over at the Minot Hotel until this snow lets up.” Percy said as he led the marshals horse into a stall. “ Seemed like really nice fellas. Said they were tracking someone too. That’s their horses there.”

“ One of them a Mexican?” Daniels asked.

“ Yeah, with blue eyes. He the one you’re hunting?” Percy asked.

“ Partly. He’s tracking the same killer I’m tracking. I want to stop him though before he makes a mistake.” Daniels said as he unsaddled his horse and started to brush him down.

“ Who is he Marshal?” Percy asked as he put hay in the stall.

“ Johnny Madrid.”

“ I’ve heard of him. He runs down around the border of Mexico though. Why’s he tracking the same man you are?” Percy asked.

“ Because the man he’s tracking murdered a family in Sonora, Mexico, and took the sixteen year old daughter. Madrid found her outside Tucson and vowed he would find her killers and send them to hell. He found Olinger, and has been tracking Walker ever since.” Daniels said.

Marshal Daniels walked downstairs and looked around the dining room until he seen the object of his search sitting in a corner with another man.

“ Go ahead and sit wherever you like Marshal Daniels.” the server said.

Daniels walked over to the table. “ Don’t do anything stupid Madrid.” he said.

“ Marshal. I don’t plan too.” Johnny responded. “ This isn’t Arizona.” he added.

“ No, but this badge gives me the authority to go wherever the job requires me to go.” Daniels said. “ Lancer. Didn’t expect to see you ever again.”

“ Marshal, care to join us?” Scott asked.

“ Thank you.” Daniels said as he sat down.

“ Why you here?” Johnny asked.

“ I’m tracking you and Walker.” Marshal Daniels responded.

“ I haven’t broke any laws Marshal.” Johnny said as the server brought more coffee and took the marshals order.

“ I know, and I want to keep it that way. We caught the Seven Rivers gang. John Beckwith told us it was him who shot and killed Olinger. Said his bullet also hit you.” he explained. “ I have a warrant for Tom Walker. I know why you’re after him, and I can respect wanting to keep that promise Johnny, but ask yourself this, is it worth crossing that fine line? Can you live with yourself if you gun this man down in cold blood?” Marshal Daniels asked.

“ Who said anything about me killing him in cold blood? When I do find him, and I will, not you, or Scott can stop me from sending that bastard to hell where he belongs.” Johnny said coldly.

“ Don’t make me arrest you Madrid. Planning to commit a murder and admitting that to a lawman is against the law.” Daniels responded.

Johnny leaned forward in his chair. “ You didn’t find Jessica. You didn’t see what those two bastards did to that innocent girl. I did. That’s not something you can get out of your head marshal.”

“ I know that. But would she want you to do this? Would her family want you too? Brennan said you’re a good man. So did Sam and Charlie. I don’t think you’re a cold blooded killer Johnny. I know you’re angry about what happened, and you have every right to be. I just don’t want to see you make a mistake that will cost you.” Daniels responded.

“ He’s right brother. Once you cross that fine line, you can’t go back. Do you want to throw away what I’m offering you at Lancer? Throw away what you could possibly have together with Amy?” Scott asked.

“ Leave her out of this Scott.” Johnny said.

“ I can’t brother. Not if what you said before we left Moab is what you want.” Scott responded. “ Look, you had no choice when you started living by your gun. Surviving by it. I know your childhood wasn’t easy, wasn’t like mine, I would give anything of I could make that all go away for you Johnny, but I can’t. I’m your big brother and I want you to be able to live a life not having to worry about someone calling you out and gunning you down. Wouldn’t you like that also?” he asked.

“ You’re becoming a thorn in my side Boston.” Johnny said as the server brought them their food.

“ If you’re from Boston, how can you two be brothers?” Daniels asked.

“ I was raised in Boston by my grandfather.” Scott responded. “ Like Johnny, I didn’t grow up at Lancer. I’d never seen it until a short time ago.”

“ I’ve been meaning to ask you about that. How did you find out about the old man?” Johnny asked as he cut his piece of ham up.

“ Letters I’d found at the office one day at my grandfathers business that he had kept from me.” Scott responded.

“ A rich grandfather, and a rich father. He’s got the best of both worlds.” Johnny said sarcastically.

“ Let me tell you something Johnny, I work my ass off at Lancer, just like I did for my grandfather. Nothing is handed to me. I work for it. Maybe if you had done an actual job that lasted more than a couple months, you would understand.” Scott snapped back.

“ This storm has eased up.” Marshal Daniels cut in. “ If it looks good, we’ll leave tomorrow.”

“ And go where?” Johnny asked as he glared at his brother.

“ Walker has been heading north. I figure he’ll stop at Fort Bridger before continuing on. Which way he’ll go is the question though.

 Especially with the train running through there now.” Daniels responded.

“ There’s a lot of big ranches he could try and get hired on at. He’s going to be needing money.” Johnny said.

“ It seems he held up at Browns Hole for the winter and rustled horses and cattle until Jess Evans found out he was a murderer and had his boys show him the boot.” Daniels said. That got him about two hundred dollars.”

“ Crow Creek ranch is the biggest spread. Their always hiring hands. With it being spring, he might try hiring on there for spring round-up and branding.” Johnny said.

“ Where’s that ranch located?” Daniels asked.

“ Medicine Bow.” Johnny responded.

“ Why don’t we just head to Medicine Bow then, instead of going to Fort Bridger?” Scott asked.

“ Heading northeast to Rawlins, we might have a chance of getting ahead of him.” Johnny suggested.

“ You two have a pack-horse I assume?” Marshal Daniels asked.

“ Yes sir, we do.” Scott responded.

“ I’ll chip in on supplies.” Daniels said.

“ There are two good mountain ranges to cross Marshal if we cut northeast. We could get snowed in up there.” Johnny said.

“ So you’re saying go to Fort Bridger and then east?” Scott asked.

“ Unless you want to get snowed in, yeah. You seen how that storm was we just had to wait out in Manila. There’s very little, if any trees up there for a fire to stay warm. Hell I was up there in the summer and the nights were damn chilly.” Johnny responded.

“ Okay. Then we’ll continue to Fort Bridger and go east from there.” Daniels said.

“ Murdoch, how long do you think Mister Garrett will stay?” Teresa asked as she poured him a cup of coffee.

“ I don’t know. He’s been here a week now. Why he’s staying with Scott not being here is beyond me.” Murdoch responded. “ Why do you ask?”

“ It’s just that, I want to do some baking, and well, I can’t with having to fix him breakfast so late in the morning.” she responded as she sat down.

“ Out with it young lady. Something is bothering you.” Murdoch said.

“ Yesterday, I came in the kitchen to help Maria start lunch, and she was crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she said it was because of the onions.” Teresa said. “ Murdoch, she wasn’t doing onions, and Mister Garrett was just leaving the kitchen when I came in. I passed him in the hall. I think he said something bad to Maria, because she wouldn’t talk to me like she normally does after. She was quiet, and whenever he came around, she would get a look in her eyes like she was afraid of him.”

“ I’ll have a talk with Maria in private. I won’t have that man speaking ill of a member of this family.” Murdoch said as Maria walked into the kitchen.

“ I think I’ll go cut some roses for the dinner table.” Teresa said as she stood up and headed out the kitchen door.

“ Maria, quiero hablarte de lo que pasóayer. ¿Harlan Garrett te dijo algo para molestarte?” ( Maria, I want to speak to you about what happened yesterday. Did Harlan Garrett say something to you to upset you? )

“ No fue nada.” ( It was nothing.)

“ Creo que lo fue, si te hizo llorar.”( I think it was if it made you cry.)

“ Él dice, debería volver a México. Que mi clase no es bienvenida aquí. Que tu hijo, mi Juanito es un mal pistolero que seráasesinado.” ( He say, I should go back to Mexico. That my kind are not welcome here. That your son, my Juanito is a bad pistolero who will be killed.)

“ Maria, eres familia, y siempre lo serás. Le diréa nuestro invitado que ya no es bienvenido aquí.” ( Maria, you are family, and always will be. I will be telling our guest he is no longer welcome here.)

“ ¿Es cierto lo que dice sobre Juanito? ¿Es un pistolero?” ( Is what he says about Juanito true? Is he a pistolero?)

“ Si, Johnny es un pistolero. Es conocido en México como Johnny Madrid. Es por eso que los Pinkerton no pudieron encontrarlo antes. Scott se fue para tratar de llevarlo a casa donde pertenece.” ( Yes, Johnny is a pistolero. He is known in Mexico as Johnny Madrid. That is why the Pinkerton’s couldn’t find him sooner. Scott left to try and bring him home where he belongs.)

“Es un buen chico, mi Johnny. No podía ser un asesino. Él tiene tu sangre en él.” ( He is a good boy my Johnny. He could not be a killer. He has your blood in him.) Maria said before starting breakfast.

Murdoch stood up and walked over to Maria and gently pulled her into a hug. “ Eras como una madre para Johnny.” ( You were like a mother to Johnny.)

“ Él era mi pequeño bebéde ojos azules.” ( He was my little blue-eyed baby boy.)

“ Perhaps I should come back later?” Harlan asked as he walked into the kitchen and found Murdoch giving Maria a hug.

“ Maria, would you go help Teresa in the garden for a minute please?” Murdoch asked.

Maria nodded as she glanced at the evil man glaring at her, before turning and leaving the kitchen.

Murdoch turned to face Harlan. “ I want you gone on the afternoon stage. You’ve worn out your welcome here.”

“ Why, because I told that old Mexican woman the truth?” Harlan demanded. “ You seem to have a weakness for those people. What my Catherine ever seen in you I will never understand.”

“ I suggest you go pack your things. I’ll have your buggy ready and waiting. You are no longer welcome in this house.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ My Scotty will have something to say about that when he comes back. I assure you Murdoch, that half-breed gunfighter son of yours will be killed. I will not have my grandson fraternizing with the likes of him. Calling him his brother.” Harlan snapped back.

“ How did you know Johnny was a gunfighter Harlan?” Murdoch demanded.

“ I’ve known who he was and where he was for several years now. It’s amazing what money will buy, and who you can pay off to keep the truth from you. I told you back in Boston that you would never win against me Murdoch. Bring Scotty home, or I will pay a very handsome reward for that half-breed son of yours to be killed.”

“ Get the hell out of my house……now!” Murdoch ordered.

“ We will see who Scotty loves more Murdoch. We shall see.” Harlan said as he turned and headed upstairs to pack.

“ He’s a hard one to figure.” Daniels said softly as he watched Johnny groom Barranca. “ How is it you two are brothers? You look nothing alike.”

“ We have the same father. Murdoch married my mother in Boston and came out west twenty six years ago. She died giving birth to me. I was raised in Boston by my grandfather.” Scott said as he poured them both a cup of coffee. “ A couple years later, he met Johnny’s mother Maria down in Matamoros when he was a lawman. They got married and he brought her back to California, to Lancer. Johnny was around two when she ran off in the middle of the night with some gambler. She took Johnny with her. He’s been searching for him for sixteen years. When we got home from Arizona, this was waiting for us from the Pinkerton Detective he hired to look for him.” Scott explained as he reached in his saddlebags and pulled out the letter, handing it to the marshal.

Daniels took the letter and read it.

Mister Lancer

As I stated in my last letter to you, I followed a lead that brought me to Sonora, Mexico to several villages to follow up on a couple leads about your son Johnny. I am relieved to report to you I have found your long lost son Johnny Lancer. It would seem the reason I could not locate your son for all these years is because he now goes by a different name. A name most people fear, and some seek out. Your son, John Lancer at the age of twelve started going by Johnny Madrid. Age eighteen or so with dark hair, and blue eyes.

Madrid is of mixed race. His mother was a Mexican and his father a rich American from California. Up until six years ago Johnny Madrid had never been heard of. In finding I have learned that at the age of fourteen, Madrid killed a man. Shot him in Hermasillo, Mexico  as he sat outside a cantina, for the brutal murder of his mother a Maria Conswella Madrid Delavega. It would seem that in my asking in the town of Sonora a man believed to be one of Maria’s many nightly callers strangled her to death in front of the child. Madrid disappeared into the hills the night of his mothers death, not being seen again for two years, when he started hunting the man who killed his mother.

Madrid is a wanted man below the border. The Rurales want Madrid in prison or dead for what he has done to them in the past four years. This agent has learned that he has killed twenty six Federal es, not in cold blood mind you. Madrid has never killed a man in cold blood. Granted killing Federal es is a crime in Mexico punishable by life in prison or death by firing squad. Basically the Rurales like to push the farmers around and take what little they have in peso’s or food. Madrid hired out to these farmers merely for a roof over his head and food in his belly.

I have numerous witness accounts of Madrid being called out on both sides of the border and every time this gunfighter would try and talk the caller out of it. In the end though Madrid would be the one walking away.

I have learned that his childhood was an unsupervised one. The boy ran the streets of the villages he and his mother lived in. He would work in livery stables when he could for pesos’. He was beaten as a child I learned from a padre and bares the scars from such beatings. I learned that in the village of Candela some boys beat Madrid badly then one of the boys stabbed him just to see what color his blood was.

I can attest that on my own witnessing Johnny Madrid is the fastest gunfighter in the south. Any man who calls him out will die. I can also attest that Johnny Madrid was not born with said name. Before his mother died a padre told me he heard tell that the boys last name was in fact Lancer and that his father had thrown him and his mother out of his estancia when he was barely two.

I have learned that Madrid is north, headed to Colorado. It would seem he is tracking one of two men still alive for the brutal rape and murder of a friends sixteen year old daughter. He was spotted by a man named Val Crawford in northwestern New Mexico, headed into Colorado.

Allen Martin

Pinkerton Agent.

“ I knew he had a rough childhood, but I didn’t know how bad it was.” the marshal said as he handed the letter back to Scott. “ I can’t let him commit murder Scott. If he tries, I’ll have to take him down.”

“ I know. Just, promise me that if you do, you don’t kill him?” Scott asked.

“ I’ll do what I can, but it will depend on him.” Daniels responded as Johnny walked back over.

“ You take good care of that horse. Mind if I ask where you got him?” Scott asked

“ Found him down in Chihuahua, down by Sinaloa in Canyon of the Barranca del Cobre at the Batopilas River, at an old silver mine. His owner was at the mine entrance dead from a heart attack I guess, cause he wasn’t shot. I couldn’t leave him there, so I took him and we’ve been together three years.”

“ So is that why you named him Barranca?” Scott asked.

“ It means ravine, but yeah, that’s why. I figured the name fit since I found him in Canyon of the Barranca del Cobre.” Johnny responded.

“ What does it mean, that Barranca del Cobre?” Daniels asked.

“ Copper Canyon.” Johnny said.

“ How far are we from Rawlins?” Scott asked.

“ About forty miles.” Johnny said.

“ I wonder why he’s going to Medicine Bow?” Scott asked.

“ Crow Creek ranch is the only ranch in Medicine Bow. Then you have the Boswell and the Bar B C ranches outside Laramie.” Johnny responded. “ They had a nice profitable feud between them three years ago. I was coming back south from Montana, when I heard about it. It ended within a week of me showing up.”

“ I heard about that feud. I had just brought a prisoner into Cheyenne. Talk was, you saved a lot of men from being killed in that feud.” Marshal Daniels said. “ How’d you do it?” he asked.

“ Sorry Marshal, but that’s one secret that will stay with me. I never reveal what I do to end a feud or range war.” Johnny responded.

“ What was the feud over?” Scott asked.

“ Water rights.” Johnny said.

“ What if he’s not going to Medicine Bow?” Scott asked. “ He knows you’re following him Johnny. What if he talked about Medicine Bow in Fort Bridger to make you think he’s going there? I know someone was tracking me I wouldn’t want them knowing where I was headed.” Scott responded.

“ He’s got a point there.” Daniels said.

“ I guess we’ll find out when we get to Rawlins.” Johnny responded.

Walker rode into Rawlins, and stopped at the livery. “ Hello.”

“ Yeah, what can I do for you?” the livery man asked as he walked out of the barn.

“ Got a lose shoe.”Walker responded. “ Left rear.”

“ Alright. Let’s have a look.” the man said as he picked up the foot. “ Shoe is pretty worn down. He’s gonna need new all around.”

“ How much?” Walker asked.

“ New shoes all around, one dollar.” the man said.

“ One dollar. That’s a bit much.” Walker said. “ I’ll be back in an hour, have him ready to go.” he said as he paid the man before heading to the saloon.

An hour later Walker came back to the livery and found his horse tied to the fence waiting.

“ I gave him a good trimming up on those hooves before I put the new shoes on. Looks like he’s come a far piece.” the man said.

“ Arizona. Do me a favor. There’ll be a man coming in a day or so looking for me named Madrid. Tell him I’ll see him in Medicine Bow.” Walker said as he mounted up.

“ You mean the gunfighter Johnny Madrid?” the man asked.

“ The one and only. Tell him I said welcome to Wyoming, and that his trailing me will end in Medicine Bow.” Walker said before riding off.

“ Evening gents. Welcome to Rankin Stables. I’m James and that one up there is my brother Joseph Rankin. Will you be staying the night?” James Rankin asked.

“ Got a pack-horse with a bad stone bruise.” Scott said.

“ So you’ll be staying longer than overnight?” Joseph Rankin asked as he came down from the hay loft.

“ No.” Johnny said as he dismounted.

“ Looking for a man.” Marshal Daniels said as he pulled out the wanted poster. “ Have you two seen this man?”

Wanted for Murder
Tom Walker
around 23 years of age
5’9” 160 Pounds
Sandy brown hair
Brown eyes.

“ He was here two days ago marshal. Needed new shoes on his horse. Said a man was tracking him named Johnny Madrid.” James Rankin said.

“ I’m Madrid. What all did he say?” Johnny asked.

“ Said to tell you, welcome to Wyoming, and that tracking him ends in Medicine Bow. That that is were he will meet you Mister Madrid.” Joseph responded.

“ I got three stalls empty you can put your horses in. The pack can go in the corral. Grounds good and soft. You wanting to leave him here, or sell him?” James said as he started putting hay in the stalls.

“ How much you give me for him?” Scott asked.

“ Give the man the horse Scott.” Johnny ordered. “ It’s not like the old man will miss one horse.”

Scott looked hard at his brother.“ Alright. He’s about five and packs real good. I’ll give you a bill of sale on him.” Scott said.

“ What’s this brand on him?” the man asked.

“ Lancer, from Morro Coyo, California. I’m Scott Lancer.” he responded.

“ I don’t know about you two, but a soak in a hot bath is gonna feel mighty good to me.” Marshal Daniels said as he unsaddled his horse.

“ And a good hot meal.” Scott added.

“ Ferris Hotel isn’t to bad on price. Three dollars will get you everything you want for the night. Thayer’s Hotel is a bit more pricey though. All the cattlemen stay there when they come to town for a meeting. Both are good places to get a bath, good food and a sound nights sleep.” James said as he dumped grain in the stalls. “ I’d stay away from The Red Light Saloon, unless you want robbed. Those girls will steal ya blind there. They charge five dollars for thirty minutes.”

“ Much obliged.” Scott said as the three finished up and headed to the Ferris Hotel.

“ Sounds like Walker is going to make this personal between the two of you.” Scott said as they sat eating supper two hours later.

“ He said Madrid, so that must mean he doesn’t know about you.” Johnny said as he ignored his brother.

“ You have something in mind?” Daniels asked.

“ Maybe.” Johnny responded. “ Depends on if you want him alive, wounded, or dead?”

“ You’re thinking of letting him call you out once he knows you’re in town?” Scott asked.

“ You any good with that Henry rifle you carry Boston?” Johnny asked.

“ I hit what I aim at.” Scott responded.

“ Good, because you’re going to be backing us up from above. I want you to stay out of sight until we know where in town he’s at and comes out to the street to face me.” Johnny explained.

“ Then you want me to tell him he’s under arrest for the rustling and murders he’s committed?” Daniels asked.

“ Now you’re catching on Marshal.” Johnny responded. “ There might be hope for you yet.”

“ I could say the same about you Johnny.” Daniels responded with a smile as a man walked up to their table. “ Sheriff. What can I do for you?”

“ Names Isaac Miller, I’m the sheriff of Rawlins. Just wondering what your business is here Madrid?” the sheriff asked as he ignored the marshal.

“ Staying the night and riding out in the morning sheriff. I haven’t broke any laws, unless my kinds not welcome here?” Johnny responded.

“ I want no trouble. Don’t matter if you start it or not, I will throw your ass in my jail. You kill a man, and I’ll see you hanged. The good people of this town hired me to keep the peace, and that’s what I intend to do. You hear me…..boy?” Sheriff Miller said.

“ Sheriff, maybe I should introduce myself. I’m Ben Daniels, U.S. Marshal of this territory and this marshals badge gives me authority over you. He’s with me. Now like he said, we’re just here for the night and will be riding out in the morning.” Marshal Daniels said.

“ You should have checked with me instead of harassing my townsfolk of you’re looking for someone marshal.” Miller said.

“ Wasn’t any need to. Found out what we needed to know, and we certainly didn’t harass the men at the stables sheriff. Now if you don;t mind, we would like to finish our meal and continue our conversation that you don’t need to hear.” Daniels said firmly.

Sheriff Miller turned and walked out. Anger could clearly be seen on his face.

“ That is one man who should not wear a badge.” the marshal said as he watched the sheriff leave.

“ I take it you know him?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah. He’s been the sheriff here for going on six years now. Was a damn good one at first, then one day he started playing by his own rules. I think the people of Rawlins are afraid to vote him out of office.” Daniels explained.

“ Can’t you do anything?” Scott asked.

“ Not unless I’m ordered to. Nobody has filed a complaint against him, and until they do, I can’t.” Daniels explained.

“ Let’s go get some sleep.” Johnny said as he stood up.


Chapter 7

“ Can I help you?” a man asked Walker as he rode up.

“ I’m looking for the owner.” Walker said.

“ I’m his foreman, Jim. Is there something I can help you with?” he asked.

“ I’m looking for the owner.” Walker said again.

“ Until I know what you want with him, I’m not at liberty to say. Now I’ll ask you one last time, what do you want?” Jim responded.

“ Look, I’m not here to start trouble. I’m here to warn the owner of a man coming here to kill him.” Walker said.

“ Kill who?” an older man asked as he walked up to them.

“ I’ll tell you like I told him, I need to speak to the owner.” Walker said.

“ I’m the owner, names Jesse Cole. I own the Crow Creek Ranch.” Jesse said.

“ My name is Tom Walker, Mister Cole. A man is coming here in the next couple days named Johnny Madrid. He’s coming here to kill you.”

“ Kill me, why?” Cole demanded.

“ It’s a private hire. I don’t know who. I heard Madrid talking with this man in Rawlins.” Walker responded.

“ Heard who talking?” Jim asked.

“ Madrid and this other man in the saloon.” Walker said.

“ What’s Madrid or this other man look like?” Jesse asked.

“ I didn’t see the other man but from behind. He was about six feet, sandy brown hair, and had a slight accent when he talked. Like he was from back east or something.” Walker said. “ Madrid is about five foot six, hundred and sixty pounds, dark hair and blue eyes. He’s a Mexican half-breed who usually works down below the border in Mexico.” Walker explained.

“ For Madrid to come clear up here, it must be someone with money. That’s a long ride from Mexico Mister Cole.” Jim said.

“ How do I know what you’re saying is the truth? For all I know you could be this hired killer!” Jesse responded.

“ If I was the killer, do you really think I would ride in here like I did Mister Cole? I may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.”

Walker demanded.

“ I don’t trust him Mister Cole. We’ve never seen this guy before. If what he says is true,why the hell would Madrid ride all the way to Wyoming from Mexico, just to kill you when there’s easier, cheaper guns a lot closer this person could hire?” Jim asked.

“ That’s what we’re gonna find out. You may have just made your first, and last stupid mistake. Jim, lock him in the old tack room in the barn. I’m not letting you ride out of here mister. You said in the next couple days. If Madrid isn’t seen in the next three days around Medicine Bow, I’ll let you go and you’ll be free to ride away. I hope for your sake, you’re telling the truth.” Jesse said before turning and heading to the house.

“ Let’s go.” Jim ordered as he motioned toward the barn. “ Chris, take this mans horse and give him a good feeding and rub down. Looks like he hasn’t been taken very good care of.” Jim ordered as they walked to the tack room. “ Take that gun belt off nice and easy, and let it drop to the ground.”

Walker did as he was instructed, then stepped into the tack room. “ What am I supposed to do to stay warm at night?” he asked as Jim closed and locked the door.

“ Someone will bring you some blankets. Like Mister Cole said, I hope you’re telling the truth.” Jim said before walking away.

“ We’ll stop at the sheriff’s office in Medicine bow, and see if he’s seen him around at all.” Marshal Daniels said as he tightened his cinch.

“ Do you know the sheriff there?” Scott asked.

“ If it’s the same one, Frank Towle. He’s not a man to cross. Goes strictly by the book, and plays no favorite to anyone. You screw up in Medicine bow, and he will throw your ass in jail just as fast as he would a drifter.” Daniels responded.

“ Just the kind of lawman this country needs.” Johnny said.

“ I think I’ll ask him to take a ride with us out to the Crow Creek Ranch. It is his jurisdiction, and would be better for us if we had the local law on our side. Just in case.” the marshal added.

“ Sounds good.” Scott said as he scattered the embers from their fire to make sure they were out.

Sheriff Towle walked out of his office as three riders rode up and stopped. He could clearly see the marshals badge, the older man was wearing. “ Marshal Daniels isn’t it?” he asked.

“ You have a good memory Towle.” Daniels said. “ We’re here looking for a man. Goes by the name of Tom Walker. He’s wanted for  murder.” Daniels said as he dismounted, and pulled the wanted poster from his pocket, handing it to him. “ We have reason to believe he’s at the Crow Creek ranch, and since this is your jurisdiction, I thought maybe you would take a ride out there with us?”

“ Alright. Who are these two?” the sheriff asked.

“ Scott Lancer, and Johnny Madrid. Johnny has tracked this man all the way from Chihuahua, where he committed the murders.” Marshal Daniels explained.

“ Madrid, I’ve heard of you. A couple years ago, you helped Boswell end a range war that could have ended with a lot of dead men outside Laramie.” the sheriff said.

Johnny just sat on Barranca, not saying anything. One thing he didn’t like to do was talk about his past. Not to the law, or anyone.

“ Let me tell my deputy inside and grab my rifle.” the sheriff said as he opened the door to the jail.

“ It would seem a lot of people know you up here?” Scott said as the sheriff walked back out and went to his horse.

“ Mister Cole, there’s four riders coming in. One of them is Sheriff Towle.” Jim said as from the barn entrance, a scatter-gun in his hands.

Jesse Cole walked out of the barn, and looked down the road at the four riders coming through the gate.

“ You think one of them is Madrid?” Jim asked.

“ That one riders with the sheriff is wearing a badge also. My guess would be he’s a marshal.” Jesse said as he walked out to greet the sheriff.

“ Mister Cole, this is U.S. .Marshal Ben Daniels, Scott Lancer, and Johnny Madrid. They’re tracking a man wanted for murder named Tom Walker, Madrid has been tracking him since Chihuahua, Mexico, for a brutal murder he committed down there on a sixteen year old girl and her parents. We have reason to believe he rode out here to your ranch.” the sheriff explained.

“ So you’re Madrid. You so much as twitch, and I will cut you in half with this scatter-gun.” Jim said.

“ What’s this all about? Madrid hasn’t done anything wrong. Put that scatter-gun down Jim, before it goes off by accident.” the sheriff ordered.

“ Not until I know for sure this man isn’t here to kill Mister Cole.” Jim responded.

“ The man you’re looking for is here marshal. He rode in here two days ago and said Madrid here was in Rawlins talking to a man about coming here and killing me.” Jesse said.

“ I assure you Mister Cole, I’m not here to kill you.” Johnny said.

“ Where is Walker now?” Marshal Daniels asked as he dismounted.

“ He’s locked up in my old tack room. Jim, go bring him out.” Jesse said.

“ You sure Mister Cole?” Jim asked.

“ Go on. It’s alright, and have his horse saddled….. Madrid isn’t here to kill me. Our friend Mister Walker lied to us, I’m guessing to try and throw you off his trail. I apologize.” Jesse said.

“ No apology needed. I would feel the same way if I had been told something like that.” Johnny said.

“ Chris, saddle Mister Walker’s horse. He’ll be leaving.” Jim ordered as he unlocked the door to the tack room. “ Come on out. You’re leaving.”

Walker stepped out of the room into the sunlight and let his eyes adjust to the brightness.

“ Move.” Jim ordered with a nudge from the scatter-gun.

Walker started walking and seen Cole standing with four other men. Two of them wearing badges. “ That’s him. That’s Johnny Madrid. I told you he would be coming here to kill your boss.”

“ Oh he’s not here to kill my boss, he’s here for you. Along with a U.S. Marshal.” Jim said as he kept the shotgun in Walker’s back as they walked over to them.

“ Tom Walker. I’m placing you under arrest for the brutal murders of Sarah, Jessica, and Stan Carter in Chihuahua, Mexico, and outside Tucson, Arizona.” Marshal Daniels said as he took a pair of handcuffs out of his saddlebag.

“ That little bitch liked what I did to her. She screamed real loud as me and Olinger gave it to her. Her mom liked it too. Especially when we made her husband watch us before we cut his throat. We took the daughter with us, because we wanted to take our time with something that young and sweet. In fact, it was my fourth time doing her in that wash, right before I put a bullet in her head.” Walker said with an evil smile as Marshal Daniels put the cuffs on him.

“ Walker, I suggest you keep your mouth shut if you don’t want gagged.” Daniels ordered.

“ Best sex I’ve had in a long time Madrid.” Walker added.

Johnny lunged off Barranca, onto Walker before anyone could stop him. “ You sonofabitch.”Johnny said as he started beating the man. “ She was only sixteen years old.” Johnny said with anger as he beat the man.

“ Johnny stop.” Scott yelled as they pulled Johnny off Walker. “ This isn’t the way. We have him. It’s over!”

Johnny tried to jerk free of Scott’s hold. “ I’m going to see you’re sent to hell you bastard.”

“ Get up Walker, and get on your damn horse.” Marshal Daniels ordered as he helped him stand up.

“ It’s a long ride back to Mexico. I won’t stand trial there.” Walker said as he wiped blood from his chin.

“ You’re not going back to Mexico to stand trial. You’re going back to Arizona to hang. You killed that girl just outside Tucson. You may not pay for killing her parents in Chihuahua, but you will hang for killing Jessica.” Johnny said with coldness.

“ I ain’t swinging from no rope.” Walker said as he resisted getting on his horse.

Johnny drew his colt and held it to Walker’s head. “ You got two ways you can go. Sitting up in the saddle, or strapped over it belly down.” he said as he cocked the pistol.

“ He just admitted to the murders. We can hang him in Medicine Bow marshal. There’s plenty of witnesses to what he said.” Sheriff Towle suggested.

“ Will all those present sign an affidavit swearing to what they heard said?” The marshal asked.

“ Me and Jim will ride in in the next day or so sheriff and write it out. It” be a pleasure watching this one’s neck break.” Jesse Cole said.

Johnny slowly lowered his colt and uncocked it, as he slid it back in the holster. “ I’m going to enjoy watching you swing from a rope. In fact I hope your damn neck doesn’t break when you drop. I want to see you strangle and kick as your eyes bulge from lack of air, your tongue swells up and turns blue, and you mess you pants.” Johnny responded.

“ I ain’t swinging from no rope. Just shoot me now marshal. I don’t deserve to die like that.” Walker said.

Scott stepped over to Walker and grabbed him by the shirt. “ Actually you deserve to die a much more horrific death for what you did to that family and that innocent girl. Get your ass on that horse now.”

“ Teresa!” Murdoch called as he walked into the grand room through the open veranda doors.

“ Murdoch, what’s wrong?” Teresa asked as she walked into the room, wiping her hands on he apron.

“ There’s a wire from Scott! It seems he found Johnny, and they are in Rawlins, Wyoming, or at least they were when he sent this.

Found J. We are in Rawlins. Will wire again soon.


“ He didn’t say anything about when he would be coming home, and why are they in Wyoming?” Teresa asked.

“ I expect that’s where Johnny has tracked that man too, and Scott followed him there.” Murdoch responded. “ I’m just thankful Scott is alright.”

“ And Johnny too.” Teresa said. “ I wonder what he’s like?”

“ Teresa, come over to the couch and sit down. I need to speak to you about Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ What’s wrong?” she asked as she walked over and sat down across from him on the couch.

“ Sweetheart. I haven’t let you read what the Pinkerton’s sent me about Johnny, and his past because it’s not appropriate for a young lady to read. You know he became a gunfighter named Johnny Madrid. Sweetheart, if he does come back here with Scott, I don’t want you around him. I’ve seen how he is. He’s had no proper upbringing, and has no manners. I don’t want you hurt.” he explained.

“ Murdoch, Johnny isn’t going to hurt me. Oh sure he didn’t grow up here at Lancer, but he’s still your son, and he won’t hurt me.” Teresa responded.

“ I’m not going to take any chances. When he comes here, I will make it very clear to him that he is not to disrespect you in any way. He is to treat you like a sister, and nothing more.” Murdoch said.

“ I appreciate you’re being concerned for my well-being, but I’m not a little girl anymore. I will be alright.” Teresa said as she stood up. “ I think you should be asking yourself if you will be, because it seems to me, you’re not sure and maybe don’t want your son home again.” she said before heading back to the kitchen.

“ Inside Walker!” Marshal Daniels ordered as the sheriff opened the cell door.

“ You going to take these damn things off me marshal?” Walker asked as he walked into the cell.

“ Nope, the irons stay on. Enjoy what time you have left.” Walker responded.

“ To bad I never got the chance to face you Madrid. I know I could have taken you down.” Walker said as he walked over to the bed and sat down. “ Yes sir. That little bitch loved what I did to her.”

“ Walker, if you want anything more than bread and water to eat, I suggest you keep your mouth shut.” Daniels ordered.

“ I don’t want you coming anywhere near my jail Madrid. I’ve never had a prisoner killed while in custody. I’m not about to start now even with a piece of shit like that.” Sheriff Towle ordered as he put his rifle back on the rack.

“ I don’t plan too. A bullet is too easy a way out, I’m going to watch him swing from a rope sheriff.” Johnny responded.

“ How long until he hangs?” Scott asked.

“ Two, maybe three days.” Sheriff Towle responded. “ You three might as well go get checked into the hotel. Livery is down the street.”

“ Is there a telegraph in town sheriff?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, across from the livery stable.” the sheriff said. Cafe across the street is open until eight at night. Hotel isn’t the best, but it’s better than the cold hard ground. There’s a bath house at the back of the hotel, just built last summer.”

“ Much obliged Sheriff Towle, for all you’re doing.” Marshal Daniels said. “ Join us for supper tonight.

“ I’d like too, but my missus, she likes me to come home and eat with her in the evenings.” he responded.

“ You got any plans after Walker hangs?” Scott asked Johnny as they ate breakfast.

“ Go back south where it’s warmer.” Johnny said. “ Why?”

“ Because we could take the train to Sacramento from Rawlins.” Scott responded.

“ You really believe he’s going to want someone like me for a son?” Johnny asked.

“ Who you are Johnny, depends mainly on who you really want to be.” Scott responded. “ Maybe you should think about that instead of worrying about what others think about you. You and Murdoch are cut from the same mold. Stand up to him. Fight for something worth fighting for that doesn’t involve sides for a change brother. Lancer is your birthright. Come home with me and give it one year. If at the end of that year, you still want to leave, I won’t try and stop you.” Scott suggested.

“ If me and that old man are so much alike, you know we won’t get along.” Johnny said. “ How do you think his friends, or the people he does business with are going to react when they learn who I am?”

“ Let me ask you this then. Which do you want to be more, Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter who could be called out and gunned down at any time? Or Johnny Lancer, the son of a rancher, and my brother?” Scott asked as Marshal Daniels walked in, and over to their table.

“ Walker is asking to see you alone before the hanging?” Daniels said.

“ He’ll see me when he’s on that gallows and not before marshal!” Johnny responded.

“ I’ll be heading back right after.. Where are you two headed?” he asked.

“ We were just discussing that.” Scott responded.

“ California, only I ain’t riding no train all that way.” Johnny said.

“ That’s about a thousand mile ride by horse. Take you about two months to get there with the mountains.” Daniels said.

“ Unless I can talk him into taking the train over them.” Scott said.

“ I prefer my horse to a train.” Johnny said.

“ Murdoch, Miss Teresa, it’s good to see you. I have another wire from Scott for you.” Fred said as he handed the wire to Murdoch.

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said as he took the wire.

“ How’s Martha doing?” Teresa asked.

“ Anxious for the baby to be born. To tell the truth, so am I. Well, it was good seeing you Teresa. Stop by when you can. I know Martha would love to visit with you.” Fred said before turning to head back to the telegraph office.

“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked.

“ They’re in Medicine Bow, taking care of some business. Scott says Johnny is coming home with him.” Murdoch responded. “ Let’s go get your shopping done.”

“ Tom Walker, you are being hung for the brutal murders of Sarah, Jessica, and Stan Carter, in Chihuahua, Mexico and Tucson, Arizona. Do you have any last words before sentence is carried out?” Sheriff Towle asked.

“ Just that I’ll see you in hell Madrid.” Walker said.

Sheriff Towle nodded his head, and the hangman pulled the lever, opening the trap door below Walker, allowing him to fall, his neck snapping when he hit the end of the rope.

“ You got off easy you sonofabitch.” Johnny said before turning and walking away.

“ He would have killed him the other day if you two hadn’t intervened?” Jesse Cole asked.

“ I believe so Mister Cole. Johnny made a promise to the daughter, Jessica as he buried her. He promised he would send the men who did this to hell.” Marshal Daniels said s Sheriff Towle walked over to them. “ Well, I have a long ride ahead of me. Scott, it’s been a pleasure. Take care of him. He’s a good person, and I hope you can get him to stay at that ranch in California. Sheriff, thank you for all you’ve done here. Mister Cole, thank you sir.” Daniels said as he shook each ones hand before mounting up.

“ I’m always a man of reason Mister Lancer. I’m glad I listened to my instinct instead of what Walker said about your brother.” Jesse Cole said.

“ So am I Mister Cole.” Scott said as he watched the wagon with Walkers body head to the cemetery.

Johnny sat looking out the hotel window when Scott walked into the room and closed the door. “ You went to college. Maybe you can answer a question I’ve been pondering for a long time now. What drives a man to do something like he did to Jessica, and then laugh about it?”

Scott, unprepared for his brothers question, removed his hat and scratched his head as he walked over and stood next to his brother. “ You did good Johnny. You got the justice Jessica and her family deserved.” he said. “ As for what makes a man do what he does, crossing that fine line Marshal Daniels talked about keeping you from crossing, I don’t know. It could be the ay the person was raised or not raised. Who he fraternized with. I really don’t think there’s a logical answer brother, other than Walker was one sick sonofabitch.”

Johnny stood up. “ You think I could be like that?” he asked.

“ Absolutely not brother.” Scott responded firmly. “ I can see that in your eyes. You can be deadly, and your glare is very intimidating, but being like Walker or even Olinger were, no, not in a million years.”

“ All I ever wanted was to be good at my trade. To be the fastest, the best. I have what I wanted, but at a price.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down on the bed. “ I live out of my saddlebags. Hiring my gun hand out. Facing men stupid enough to call me out, just so I can gun them down. All while a part of me is praying they don’t kill me, and the other part hoping this is the one who ends it for me. I’m eighteen years old, and most men my age have a girl they court, friends, a safe and stable life. They’re not wondering if they’re going to get a bullet in the back as they ride down a town street, or gunned down when they come out of a business. I can’t risk that for Amy. I won’t. It wouldn’t be fare to her. She’ll find someone eventually that’s right for her. Scott, I want to be your little brother. I want to be Murdoch’s son if he will accept me. I’m tired of living by  my damn gun hand. I want to be remembered as Johnny Lancer, not Johnny Madrid.”

“Like it or not, you are my little brother, and the youngest son of Murdoch Lancer. What you have to keep telling yourself is, who do you want to be more, Lancer or Madrid, and stick with being that person. And if by some chance something comes up where Madrid is needed, then so-be-it. As long as Johnny Lancer is the one in the end.” Scott responded.

“ Let’s go to California brother.” Johnny said.

Scott smiled, hearing Johnny call him brother, are words that mean more than anything else in the world to him.

“ Mister Lancer, about twenty head got through the gate into the alfalfa field.” Walt said.

“ How bad is it?” Murdoch asked.

“ They trampled the new growth down pretty bad. A couple places is gonna need reseeded for sure.” Walt responded.

“ Alright. Get someone on repairing that gate, and send someone in to town with a wagon to get some more alfalfa seed.” Murdoch ordered. “ Also I need someone to put a new coat f tar on the corral water trough and to fix the water well pump handle up by the house.”

“ Yes sir.” Walt responded. “ What you want me to do about Carl?” he asked.

“ Carl?” Murdoch said.

“ Yes sir. He’s the one who was suppose to fix the trough in the corral, the water pump handle over there, and the gate to the alfalfa field.” Walt explained.

“ Tell him to do the jobs he was ordered to do or draw his wages and leave. I won’t have any man drawing pay, not willing to do the work.” Murdoch responded.

“ Yes sir. Any word on when Scott will be arriving?” he asked.

“ No, I expect sometime mid-summer.” Murdoch said.

“ Some of the men are a little nervous about your other son, Johnny coming here.” Walt said. “ Being a gunfighter and all, they’re worried about there being trouble. Fact is, I’m a little worried for Miss Teresa’s safety in the house when he comes here.”

“ You go on and tell the men to stop worrying. There will be no trouble once Scott gets back here with Johnny. I will guarantee that.” Murdoch responded. “ As for Teresa, I will make it very clear to him that he is to respect her at all times.”

Murdoch walked back inside and couldn’t help but wonder if having his youngest come home was a mistake. A risk for everyone on Lancer.

Johnny and Scott walked out of the hotel in Modesto, and down to there horses. “ We can be at Lancer by mid-day” Scott said.

“ I still think it’s a mistake, me going there.” Johnny responded as he tied his saddlebags down.

“ You’re a man of integrity brother, and I am going to do everything I can to see to it you get the chance to live the life you deserve.” Scott said.

“ You’re going to have a busy years Boston.” Johnny responded.

“ Johnny Madrid!” a mans voice called out from behind them. “ I told you I would kill you if I ever saw you again you half-breed sonofabitch!” the man yelled.

Johnny pressed his face into Barranca’s neck. “ Scott Don’t say anything, or interfere.” he ordered.

“ I’m not going to stand by and do nothing………..”

“ Do what I say or you will get me killed.!” Johnny ordered as he turned around to face the one who called him out.

People on the street quickly got out of the way. Most killings just happened, and those were to the miners to steal what they had. To have a gunfighter of Madrid’s stature in their town and witness first hand what so many had heard come across the border about this deadly killer kept them watching and waiting to see who would be left standing.

“ You in that big a hurry to die tonight?” Johnny said casually as he took stance about fifty feet away.

“ You’re the one who’s gonna die. Me, I’m gonna reap on the fact that I was the one who finally killed Johnny Madrid.”

“ Well if you think you can do it and I can’t talk you out of trying then by all means mister…let’s dance.” he said as he looked at them through ice cold emotionless blue eyes. He could hear whispers among some who didn’t know until now who he was. It used to make him smile when he told his name. The fear it inflicted on some people’s face was in his book better than a fifty dollar whore.

“ Go ahead and make your play breed.” the man said.

“ Nope…… invited me to this dance so I think I’ll just wait and let you be the host and start it……unless you’re chicken.” he responded.

“ What’s the matter breed? Is the great Johnny Madrid is a little scared to draw on me because you know I’m going to kill you?” the man yelled. “ All you people watching, I want you all to know it’s Trace Adams who is about to gun down this worthless half-breed Johnny Madrid.”

“ You got a big mouth on you…..Reminds me of a jackass.” Johnny said. “ Jackass Trace Adams. Ain’t that somethin!”

That did it. He got him riled just like he knew he would. When the mans eyes changed Johnny drew and fanned his colt so fast the mans hand never touched his gun.

“ Did you see that?………Madrid kilt all that man before he could even touch his gun.” a man said loudly.

Johnny holstered his colt, walked over to Barranca, mounted up, and galloped out of Modesto.

Johnny stopped Barranca about two miles out of town to let his brother catch up. “ What the hell am I doing? What the hell makes me think I have a right to live a life like he does? To be his son, and a part owner of a ranch?” he said aloud as Scott rode up.

“ Are you alright?” Scott asked.

“ You really think that that old man is going to welcome someone like me to his precious ranch? You just seen what I live with every day of my life. He isn’t going to want a half-breed gunfighter for a son. All he will see is a killer. He will never accept me.” Johnny vented as he turned and pressed his head into Barranca’s neck.

Scott jumped off his horse, went to his brother and jerked him around to face him. “ First of all, I asked if you were alright?”

“ I’m fine.” Johnny responded.

“ Second, you don’t know anything until you give it a try. When I came back to Lancer, I knew absolutely nothing about cattle or ranching. The hands, helped me to learn, but they had fun with me at times too, but I stuck it out, and I learned Johnny. I learned a new way of life. One I’m glad I have now. I think you’re scared to death to live a life other than what you were forced to live. A life you deserve. The life your mother took you away from all those years ago.” Scott said firmly.

“ I’m not afraid of anything.” Johnny yelled as he jerked his arm free.

“ Then prove it. Get your ass back on that horse, and go home with me. Prove me wrong.” Scott ordered.

“ You got a lot of audacity Boston.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ I want you to see what your new life can be Johnny.” Scott said as they stopped on the hill and looked down at the valley below. “ From here all the way to those mountains in the distance is Lancer. One hundred thousand acres, with ten thousand head of cattle, and the finest Capanero De Palominos you will find anywhere, as well as more mustangs than me or you could break in a lifetime.” Scott explained.

“ So this is the little empire the old man carved out huh?” Johnny asked as he looked at the huge Spanish style adobe house with two guard towers, barns, and corrals. “ I still think this is a huge mistake.” Johnny said as he wondered how his mother could ever leave something like what he was looking at.

“ When we get down there. You will meet Teresa, she’s our fathers ward. She’s like a daughter to Murdoch, and he is very protective of her.” Scott explained.

“ Like a sister?” Johnny asked as they started riding down the hill.

“ Her father used to be the foreman at Lancer for many years, Two year ago he was killed when his horse stepped in a hole and went down. She became his ward until she reaches her majority.” Scott responded.

Teresa came out of the house and squealed with excitement as Scott and Johnny rode up to the house. “ Scott Lancer, you get off that horse right now and give me a hug.” she ordered.

Scott dismounted and took Teresa into his arms and hugged her. “ I miss you and your cooking so much Teresa.”

“ It’s going to be nice having people to cook for again.” Teresa said.

“ Where’s Murdoch?” Scott asked.

“ He went to town to do some business at the bank. He left right after breakfast, so he should be back soon.” Teresa responded.

“ You planning on sitting up there all day, or are you going to get down and come inside?” Scott asked.

Johnny swung down from the saddle and walked Barranca up to the hitching rail, and wrapped the reins around it.

“ Teresa, this is my long lost little brother Johnny.” Scott said.

“ I can’t tell you what it means to finally have you home Johnny.” Teresa said as she stepped over to him.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said softly as the girl wrapped her arms around him, and gave him a hug as Walt and an older Mexican walked up to them.

“ Walt, Cipriano, this is Johnny, my brother.” Scott said.

“ It’s a pleasure to meet you Johnny. Welcome home. I’ll take your horses for you.” Walt said.

“ Thank you.” Johnny said as he stared at Cipriano.

“ Soy tu tio. He esperado este día durante tantos años.” Cipriano said as he extended his hand to shake. ( I am your uncle. I have waited for this day for so many years.)

“ Ella nunca me dijo que tenía un tío.” Johnny responded as he took the mans hand and shook it. ( She never told me I had an uncle.)

“ ¿Quizás podamos hablar desués?” Cipriano suggested.( Perhaps we can talk later?)

“ Me gustaría eso.” Johnny said. ( I’d like that.)

“ Well, come on inside. I have your room all ready for you. If either of you are hungry, I have cold roast beef, I could make you both a couple sandwiches to hold you over until supper.” Teresa suggested.

“ Oh, I almost forgot. Murdoch likes us to eat breakfast and supper at six sharp. Teresa fixes lunch sometimes when we are working close to the house and can come get some. Otherwise she fixes us something to take with us.” Scott said as they walked into the grand room.

Johnny stopped and looked around the room. Never before had he seen a room so big, with one wall full of books. A big desk sat in front of a huge window allowing a view of the ranch. A fireplace with the Lancer L with a circle around it could be seen in the far corner. A clipper ship sat on a table behind the long blue couch that had two matching chairs across from it with a small table between them. Everywhere he looked, the furniture was exquisite. A tall grandfather clock started to chime on his right.

Scott looked at Teresa. “ You care for a drink?” he asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ Tequila.” Johnny said as he removed his hat and walked over to the desk to look at the two pictures sitting there. “ This your mother?” he asked.

“ Yes.” Scott responded as he walked over and handed him a shot of tequila. “ I know this is a lot for you to deal with Johnny. Remember what I said, I’m here. I’ll back you up……on anything.”

Johnny smiled slightly as he took the drink.

Murdoch rode into the yard and dismounted as Walt walked over to take his horse. “ They’re here Mister Lancer.”

“ Who’s here?” Murdoch asked.

“ Scott and Johnny. They’re in the house. They got here a couple hours ago.” Walt said before leading the horse to the barn.

Murdoch took a deep breath and headed to the house. Walking in through the veranda doors, he found Scott sitting on the couch talking to Teresa.

“ Murdoch, look who’s back!” Teresa said with excitement.

“ Son. Good to have you home again.” Murdoch said as he walked over and the two shook hands.

“ It’s good to be home sir. Johnny is upstairs resting.” Scott responded. “ I think he’s a little overwhelmed by everything.”

“ You should have seen the look on his face when he walked into this room, and was looking around.” Teresa said. “ I think I will go help Maria with supper now.”

“ What was the business you had in Medicine Bow?” Murdoch asked as he walked over to his desk and sat down.

“ That’s where Tom Walker was. We caught him at the Cole ranch and the sheriff of Medicine Bow hung him for Marshal Daniels.” Scott responded.

“ Marshal Daniels?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir. He caught up to us in Manila, Utah during a storm. The three of us tracked Walker to Wyoming.” Scott explained.

“ Where did you find Johnny?” Murdoch asked.

“ He was working for the Slash Y ranch in Colorado.” Scott said, leaving out the part about Johnny being shot.

“ I thought you wrote to your grandfather and told him you would be gone?”

“ I did. I explained to him and told him I didn’t know when I would be back for sure. Why?” Scott asked.

“ Because he showed up here while you were in Medicine Bow. I know he’s your grandfather son, but that man is not welcome in this house again after the way he spoke to Maria.” Murdoch said.

“ I’m sorry sir. I didn’t know he would be coming here.” Scott said.

“ Did you know he knew where Johnny was for a long time?” Murdoch asked.

“ No sir. How could he?” Scott asked.

“ It would seem he paid a lot of money to the Pinkerton’s to find him. He has known for several years who Johnny was, and where he was at.” Murdoch explained.

“ I can assure you sir, I had no involvement nor knowledge of grandfather doing that.” Scott said.

“ I know you didn’t son. So have the two of you been getting along alright?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir. My little brother is quit the man. He’s nothing like you would perceive him to be.” Scott said.

“ Did you tell him what time he is expected to be at the table to eat?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir. Might I suggest you not lay a bunch of rules on Johnny right away? Like I said earlier, he’s a bit overwhelmed by all this. I think he’s trying to comprehend his mother taking him away from here, and why.” Scott suggested.

“ This is a working ranch. I will expect him to pull his weight around here just like you and everyone else does.” Murdoch said.

“ He gave me his word that he would stick it out for a year, and I fully intend on making sure he stays. Lancer is his birthright, he’s my brother, and your son. Think about that. Now if you will excuse me, I think I will go upstairs and rest a little before supper.” Scott said as he headed to the stairs, not giving his father a chance to respond.


Chapter 8

“ Good morning Teresa, Murdoch.” Scott said as he sat down and poured a cup of coffee.

“ Is Johnny up yet?” Teresa asked.

“ I didn’t check. I can go see.” Scott responded.

“ No you won’t.” Murdoch ordered. “ He knows what time breakfast is served. If he can’t be down here on time to eat it, then he can go without.” he added as Maria set breakfast on the table.

“ Murdoch, he’s only been here a day.” Teresa said.

“ It’s going to take him time to adjust. Look how I was when I came here. You didn’t seem to have a problem letting me. As a matter of fact, I believe your exact words to me were, ‘ It’s all new to you, and it will take time for you to adjust.’ which it did.” Scott added.

“ Morning Boston. I was wondering when you were going to get up.” Johnny said as he started to serve up some eggs, potatoes and bacon.

“ Where the devil you been?” Murdoch asked.

“ Out working. Unlike some of us who sleep in.” Johnny responded as he grabbed a biscuit. “ I was taking an early morning ride around the ranch when I noticed some cows were in the alfalfa field, so I got them out and fixed the gate. Whoever fixed it before did a lousy job. Hinges were to far apart, so I redid them. Those cows won’t get in that field again. Not unless the take the fence down.”

“ Who helped you do this?” Murdoch asked.

“ Nobody. Cows can destroy a field, so I figured why waste time riding back here, waking someone up, and riding all the way back out there. Look, if you’re that unsure of my work, go check it yourself instead of sitting here drilling me about it.” Johnny suggested.

“ Young man, there’s a few things we need to get straight if you are going to be living here.” Murdoch responded.

“ Save your breath old man. See, I never was very good at taking orders. I gave Scott my word I would stay a year and give this a try. I’m not here for you. I’m here for him, and what’s mine by birth. You might want to remember that.” Johnny cut in. “ Teresa, these biscuits are everything Scott said they were.”

“ Are you threatening me boy?” Murdoch demanded as he stood up. “ You better remember who you are talking too and show me some respect.” he ordered.

Johnny stood up and faced his father. “ Nope. Just telling it like it is. Look, I know you don’t want me here. I know you don’t want a pistolero for a son. I did what I had to do to survive, if you can’t accept that, then I guess it’s going to be a long year of me and you butting heads all the time. As for showing you respect, that has to be earned. I don’t give anyone respect that don’t earn it from me. If you think I’m going to back down from you, you’re wrong. Scott’s earned my respect when we rode together. The two women in this room will always have my respect but you, you have to earn it from me just like I figure to earn it from you.” Johnny responded. “ See, I have me a temper, and I figure I get that from my mother. I can also be stubborn just like you. You don’t give at all do you? All pride and I’m cut from the same mold. With not one inch of give.” he added before sitting down to finish his breakfast.

“ Murdoch, please sit down and finish breakfast.” Teresa requested.

“ I thought perhaps I could show Johnny around the ranch today, and introduce him to the men.” Scott suggested.

“ You can do that on your time off. That surveying that has to be done? That report has to be in by the end of the week.” Murdoch responded. “ When you finish with that, there’s that foot bridge that needs repaired also. You can have Johnny help you with that.”

“ Okay, no rest for the weary I guess little brother.” Scott said with a smile.

“ Why is surveying so important?” Johnny asked.

“ All the boundaries of Lancer has to be surveyed to pay taxes on the land we own.” Murdoch responded.

“ How much do you pay in taxes every year for a spread this big?” Johnny asked.

“ Five thousand dollars a year.” Murdoch responded.

“ That’s based on the house and out buildings. Anything we build adding to the property will raise the taxes about a hundred dollars.” Scott added.

“ I want to talk about some rules Johnny.” Murdoch said. “ Wearing your gun in the house is not necessary. You can hang it by the front door were me and Scot put ours. I pay a dollar a day with Sunday off. We work from sunup to sundown and sometimes longer. When I assign a job, I expect it to be done that day unless it’s stringing fence. We do round-up and branding in late spring and fall. About every three years we drive a herd to the rail-head to sell. In the spring it’s vital that all streams are cleared of any fallen trees and brush to prevent flooding and washouts. I prefer the hands go to town to drink on Saturday nights. That way they can sleep it off in Sunday. Now we go to church in Morro Coyo every Sunday. You are more than welcome to join us. Sunday is your only day off to do as you please. I ask that you not use profound language in this house, especially in the presence of Teresa or Maria. I have a hundred and fifty vaquero’s working for me, some with families who live on or near Lancer. There are two line shacks we use in the spring and fall during branding and round-up. South Mesa and Black Mesa I keep them stocked at all times for if a hand is out and needs to take shelter from a sudden storm. Sometimes repairing the fence in those areas requires an overnight stay.”

“ Makes sense. Let me ask you something. Do you want me here?” Johnny asked.

Murdoch sat back in his chair. “ When we came home and I learned who my youngest son had become, it was a shock. Me and Scott argued about it before he left to find you. I’ve done a lot of thinking while he was gone. We will butt heads and have disagreements, but remember this, I call the tune on what happens on this ranch. If you have a suggestion, tell me and the three of us can weigh the options.”

“ You didn’t answer my question. Do you want me here?” Johnny repeated.

“ Yes.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Then you need to know something I’m sure those Pinkerton reports you have on me haven’t told you. Men will come to kill me. I’m good at my trade. The best, and as long as I’m alive, they can’t get the higher money. If someone shows up and calls me out, you are not to interfere. You do and you will get me killed. I’ve never broke the law, always stayed on the side of it. I don’t like killing, but when I do, I give them every chance to walk away. Scott seen that in Modesto yesterday morning.” Johnny said firmly.

“ I am aware of the possibility of men coming to try and kill you. There’s something you need to remember, Lancer takes care of it’s own. You may have went by a different name most of your life, but you were born a Lancer, and I will not stand by and allow anyone to gun my son down.” Murdoch said firmly.

Johnny looked at Scott, then back at his father. He couldn’t believe what he just heard. “ Excuse me.” he said as he stood up and walked out of the kitchen.

“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked.

“ What did I say wrong?” Murdoch asked.

“ It’s not what you said wrong sir. It’s that you called him your son.” Scott said. “ After he killed that man in Modesto yesterday morning, he rode out. When I caught up to him, he unloaded on me saying there was no way you would welcome him as your son.”

Murdoch stood up. “ Excuse me.” he said as he walked out of the kitchen.

Johnny stood next to Barranca when he heard footsteps. “ You ready to go do that surveying Boston?” he asked as he turned around and found his father standing there.

“ I guess this is all going to take time for the both of us to get used to.” Murdoch said as he walked over to him.

“ It’s not your fault she took me away from you. For a long time I hated you because I believed what she told me.” Johnny said softly.

“ Can I ask what changed your mind son?” Murdoch asked.

“ I was at a line shack in Colorado, working for the Slash Y, when she came to me in a dream and told me. Then when I was shot, she came again and told me about Scott, and that I should come back here with him where I belong.” Johnny explained.

Murdoch cringed at hearing his son was shot. “ Did she tell you why she left me son?”

Three times now. Three times in a matter of minutes he heard what he never thought he would hear. “ I never thought I would ever hear you say that.”

“ Say what?” Murdoch asked.

“ Call me your son. I thought because a part of me is Johnny Madrid, you wouldn’t want me as your son.” Johnny said softly.

“ I’m not going to lie to you John. Knowing you are also Johnny Madrid will take getting used to. But I meant every word I said in there. Lancer takes care of it’s own, and you are a Lancer.” Murdoch said as Scott walked out to join them.

“ We have work to do brother. So if you two are finished, I would like to get that surveying done so we can start on that foot bridge.” Scott said as he went to his horse and mounted up.

“ Walt, Carl, I need a word with you.” Murdoch said after the boys rode away. “ I thought you were going to have Carl fix the gate in the south pasture to the alfalfa field?” he asked Carl.

“ I did ask him to fix it sir.” Walt responded. “ Didn’t you fix the gate like I told you to do?”

“ I fixed the latch.” Carl said.

“ Apparently you didn’t fix it correctly. Johnny had to do it this morning after he got the cows out of the field again.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny, who’s Johnny?” Carl asked.

“ My son Johnny who just rode out with Scott. He was up before daylight riding the ranch and found some cows in the field again. He said the problem wasn’t the latch, it was the hinges and that whoever was supposed to have fixed it, should have known that.” Murdoch explained.

“ I’m sorry Mister Lancer. I should have checked his work when he said he was done.” Walt said.

“ No you shouldn’t have to check the work of someone else. I’m not running a school here Carl. We need that alfalfa to get us through the dry season. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to let you go. I can’t have a man working for me who makes the same mistake twice and cost me that kind of money. I have to let you go. I owe you half a months pay. That’s fifteen dollars.” Murdoch said as he pulled the money from his pocket and handed it to the man.

“ You can’t fire me. I need this job Mister Lancer.” Carl said.

“ I can, and I am. Walt, see that he leaves Lancer.” Murdoch responded before turning and heading back inside.

“ This isn’t right. His half-breed kid comes back and gets me fired.” Carl said with anger as he walked away.

Johnny walked into the house through the veranda doors two months later, and found his father at his desk, going over the books. “ Scott back yet?” he asked as he poured a shot of tequila and downed it.

“ No. He’ll be back I a day or two.” Murdoch responded as he sat back in his chair. “ I want to ask you something, and I don’t want you to be offended by it.”

“Go ahead.” Johnny said as he walked over to the desk and picked up the picture of his mother.

“ How much schooling have you had son?”

“ I can read and write.” Johnny said.

“ What about math? Can you add, subtract, and multiply?”

“ I can do math. Why?” Johnny asked as he set the picture down.

“ Because I would like to show you the business end of running a ranch. I want to show you how to do the books.”

“ You mean take all those receipts from purchases and put them in that there book each month in order of date, and add up the total cost, then subtract that so you know what you have?” Johnny asked as he picked up the other picture and looked at it.

“ Yes I do. Can I ask how you know that?”

“ Mister Brennan at the Slash Y showed me when I was healing up from being shot.” he responded. “ Scott’s mother sure was a beautiful woman. How’d you ever meet her?”

“ I met Catherine in Boston, not a year off the boat from Inverness.” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to pour a drink. “ Her family thought I was daft to marry her. Harlan has never forgiven me for bringing her way out here. He still blames me for her death to this day.”

“ You took a huge gamble buying this place. All those years ago. I just don’t understand how my mother could take me away from all this.” Johnny said as his father walked back over to the desk and sat down.

“ That’s something I would like to know also son.” Murdoch responded. “ I want talk to you about the ranch. You told Scott you would give it a year. Do you plan to stay, or leave?”

“ Haven’t decided that yet. I’ve only been here two months.” Johnny responded.

“ I’m asking because I have to go to Spanish Wells and see my attorney Randall. I would like him to draw up a contract having you and Scott as third owners of Lancer.” Murdoch explained.

“ A third owner huh? Me, Johnny Madrid, a third owner of the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin? You sure you want to do that?” he asked.

“ I don’t see you as Johnny Madrid. I see you as my son, Scott’s brother. The hands like you. Cipriano and Walt tell me you always finish your work and then go help others with theirs. You have a good respect for what needs done, and you do it.” Murdoch responded.

“ As long as I’m alive, I will always be Madrid.” Johnny said. “ But I do like being Johnny Lancer more.”

“ Tell you what, I’ll have Randall draw up the contract, and you can sign it when you’re ready.” Murdoch said.

“ Sounds fair. I think I’ll go get cleaned up before supper. Maybe after we can play some checkers or a game of chess?”

“ I’d like that son.” Murdoch said as he watched his youngest head upstairs. “ That’s something this old man has wanted to do for a long time.” he said softly.

“ The branding is all done in the south pasture, Murdoch.” Scott said as he walked into the house three months later.

“ How do they look?” Murdoch asked.

“ Calves look good. We branded four hundred and eighty five calves.” Scott responded as he walked over and poured a drink. “ Johnny finish up at Black Mesa?”

“ Yes, Walt rode in an hour ago and said they got al the calves branded. He said Johnny rode over to look at a herd of mustangs that have been hanging around there all week. I expect he’ll be back in time for supper.” Murdoch responded.

“ He better.” Teresa said as she walked into the room. “ Me and Maria made stuffed peppers for supper, and I made him a chocolate cake for dessert.”

“ There goes my stomach.” Scott said wit a laugh. “ I don’t know if you and Maria are trying to spoil my brother, or kill my stomach with all these spicy foods.”

“ How about I make you some Boston clam chowder Friday?” Teresa asked.

“ That would be great. I haven’t had any  since I left Boston.” Scott said as he gave her a hug. “ I think I will go soak in a hot bath now.”

“ I wish you would. You smell like cows.” Teresa said with a laugh.

“ You know Murdoch, I do believe my little sister is old enough to experience the cow end of this ranch.” Scott said with a laugh as he headed upstairs.

“ How’d you like to have one of those pretty mares Barranca?” Johnny asked his golden stallion as they watched a herd of palominos from a ridge. He couldn’t help but laugh as Barranca threw his head up and down and snorted.

“ We lucked out ole buddy. I never dreamed I could have a life like this. Look at that sunset. We better head home so the old man isn’t mad at me for being late for supper. Besides Teresa is making stuffed peppers , and I sure don;t want to miss out on that meal. ” Johnny said as he turned Barranca to head home when he felt the white hit pain in his right side, as a rider appeared from the tree line. Spurring the stallion into a run.

The copper smell of blood was strong to Barranca’s nose as he carefully walked toward home with his rider slumped over his neck.

“ I can’t do it boy.” Johnny said before passing out and falling off the stallion. Barranca shied away from the smell a few feet before bolting for home.

“ Johnny should have been back by now.” Teresa said as she set the platter of stuffed peppers down in the table.

“He probably lost track of time watching that herd, and will be here soon..” Scott suggested.

“ Mister Lancer!” Walt yelled outside the veranda doors.

Murdoch, Scott and Teresa hurried outside to find Walt and Cipriano standing with Barranca.

“ He’s got blood all over his right shoulder and the saddle.” Walt said.

“ Saddle our horses and send a man into town for Sam.” Murdoch ordered before turning to go inside. “ Teresa, get his room ready for when we get back.”

“ Get some torches to take so we can see better.” Scott ordered.

Johnny opened his eyes and looked up at the stars shining bright above him. Why was he on the ground? Moving to get up, it came back to him as pain wracked his right side. Rolling over onto his left side, he pushed himself up to his knees, and looked around for Barranca.

“ I hope you went home boy.” he said as he put his right hand to his side and felt the sticky wetness as the coppery smell of blood reached his nose.

“ Damn. Who the hell shot me?” he said aloud as he fought the dizziness as he tried to remember the face he seen at the tree line. The horse, he remembered the riders horse, a brown and white paint. “ I’ll see you again.” he said before passing out and falling forward.

“ There’s blood.” Walt said. “ Tracks look like Barranca took off that way.”

Murdoch said a silent prayer as they followed the tracks, and blood on the tall grass.

“ There!”Scott yelled as he pointed as he jumped off his horse and ran to his brother.

“ Oh dear god, please let him be alive.” Murdoch said as he rode up to Johnny’s lifeless body and dismounted.

“ He’s alive. He’s been shot in the side. Looks like the bullet went clean through.” Scott said.

“ Cipriano, bring me some bandages so we can wrap this wound to stop the bleeding.” Murdoch ordered.

“ Put him up on my horse with me.” Murdoch ordered.

Sam came out of the house with Teresa as they rode up to the house. “ How bad is it?” he asked.

“ The bullet went clean through his side right side. He’s lost a lot of blood Sam.” Murdoch said as Walt and Scott got Johnny down.

“ Get him up to his room. I have everything ready.” Sam ordered as they carried Johnny up to his room.

“ Everyone but Teresa out.” Sam ordered.

“ I’m staying Sam.” Murdoch said.

“ Out. You’ll only get in my way. Teresa can help me. Go downstairs and wait with Scott………Now Murdoch.” Sam ordered firmly.

“ Who the hell shot him?” Murdoch demanded as they walked downstairs.

“ Mister Lancer, you want me to send someone for the new sheriff in Green River?” Walt asked.

“ Val Crawford, no. This is a Lancer matter Lancer will take care of it.” Murdoch responded.

“ We don’t even know what happened out there. I’m upset he was shot, but not telling the sheriff what’s happened could be bad for Johnny.” Scott cut in.

“ Johnny will tell us who shot him, and we will handle it. Lancer takes care of it’s own.” Murdoch said firmly. “ Whoever it was will wish they were dead when I get to them. I’m not going to stand by and not do anything when someone ambushes your brother, my son.”

“ Walt, send someone to Green River at first light.” Scott ordered.

“ Have you forgotten who calls the tune on this ranch?” Murdoch demanded.

“ No sir I have not. I will not allow you to turn this into a vendetta. For all we know it could have been someone from his past.” Scott snapped back. “ Look, fighting about this is going to get us nowhere. We’re both upset, and worried about Johnny.”

“ You’re right son. I’m sorry. Walt, go ahead and send someone for the sheriff.” Murdoch ordered

“ How is he?” Murdoch asked as Sam walked into the room.

“ He’ll live. The bullet mostly went thru flesh. I cleaned and flushed the wound good and stitched it up. Scott, why don’t you go spell Teresa. I want a word alone with Murdoch.

“ You want a brandy or some coffee Sam?” Murdoch asked.

“ Coffee please.” Sam responded.

“ Alright, lets go in the kitchen and talk.” he said as the two walked to the kitchen.

“ What in Sam hell happened to that boy Murdoch? I have never seen scars so bad on a persons body like I just did that boy.” Sam demanded.

“ Sit down Sam.” Murdoch said as he got two cups and the pot of coffee, and came over to the table. “ I told you they found Johnny. What I didn’t tell you was the reason why it took so long to locate him in Mexico, is because he went by another name. Scott brought him back home five months ago. Maria died when he was about eight or so. His life wasn’t easy for him below the border. Some of those scars he got while in a Mexican prison. Others he got being ambushed, or in a gunfight with someone who would call him out.”

“ Call him out. Murdoch, you make it sound like Johnny is a gunfighter. I counted at least eight wounds on that boy along with knife scars and the whip marks.” Sam said.

“ He is Sam. Or he was until he came home to try and live a life as my son, and Scott’s brother.” Murdoch responded.

“ You said he was hard to locate in Mexico all this time because he went by another name. What name did he go by?” Sam asked.

“ Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny……….oh my god. I’ve heard nightmares about him. How he’s a cold blooded killer.” Sam said with shock.

“ I thought so too Sam, but what you heard is wrong, and I don’t say that because he’s my son. I say it because it’s the truth. He tracked two men down who brutally murder a family that were friends of his. He rode all the way from Sonora to Chihuahua and tracked them down. Me and Scott witnessed the one being killed, not by Johnny, but by a member of the mans gang. The other one he tracked all the way to Medicine Bow, Wyoming with Scott and a U.S. Marshal and watched the man be hung for the brutal rape and murder of a sixteen year old girl. That’s where Johnny and Scott came home from.” Murdoch explained.

“ What are you going to do? I mean, have you accepted who he is, or was?” Sam asked.

“ It was hard, but yes I have. I had Randall draw up a contract making him a third owner of Lancer with Scott. He told Scott he would stay a year and see if he wants this kind of life. I told him the offer is there if he wants to sign the contract at the end of that year seven months from now.” Murdoch responded. “ He’s been working really hard Sam. Until now there’s been no trouble.”

“ You have any idea who shot him?” Sam asked

“ No. We don’t know if Johnny seen the shooter or not. He was unconscious when we found him.” Murdoch responded.

“ Teresa told me how his horse came in covered in blood.” Sam said. “ He’s going to be down for a while from that wound.”

“ I’m just grateful he’s still alive.” Murdoch said.

Scott opened the door to Johnny’s bedroom and walked in, closing it quietly behind him. Teresa was sitting next to the bed. He could tell she had been crying.

“ You okay?” he asked as he walked over to her.

Teresa stood up and went to him, as the tears started to fall. “ Oh Scott, The scars he has are horrible. How could anyone do that too him?” she sobbed as Scott held her.

“ He’s had a pretty rough life so far, but he’s here now, and we can help take all that bad away from him.” Scott responded. “ Why don’t you go clean up. I’ll stay with him a while.” he suggested.

“ Okay. There’s laudanum for the pain if he wakes up.” she said as she dried her tears. “ I’ll go fix you something to eat and bring it up.”

“ Estoy feliz de que hayas venido a casa, hijo nío. Nunca debíhaberte alejado de yu padre. El te quiere mucho. Has crecido para ser una buena persona. Eres fuerte y tienes un buen corazón. Quédate con ellos. Te necesitan tanto como túlos necesitas.” ( I am happy you came home my son. I should have never taken you away from your father. He loves you very much. You have grown up to be a good person. You are strong, and have a good heart. Stay with them. They need you as much as you need them.)

“¿Por qué? ¿Por quélo hiciste?” (Why? Why did you do it?)

“ Para lastimarlo. Pasómás tiempo contigo que conmigo. Alejarte de él era la única forma en que sabía que podía lastimarlo.”( To hurt him. He spent more time with you than he did with me. Taking you from him was the only way I knew I could hurt him.)

“ Por favor no me dejes madre. Por favor quédate.”( Please don’t leave me mother. Please stay.)

“ No puedo. Tengo que ir ahora. Siempre estarécontigo en tu corazón, hijo mío. Siempre te querré.”( I cannot. I must go now. I will always be with you in your heart my son. I will always love you.)

Scott listened to his brother mumble in his sleep. He knew enough Spanish to know he was talking to his mother. Dabbing a cloth in the basin of water by the bed, he started to wipe away the sweat as his brother started to move around more and more.

“ It’s alright Johnny. I’m here for you little brother.” Scott said softly as he wiped the sweat away.

Coolness, coolness and a voice, but whose? Whose voice was he hearing? What was he saying?

“ Madre vuelve. Lo siento. Por favor regrese.” Johnny said before becoming still again as his breathing eased. ( Mother come back. I’m sorry. Please come back.)

Scott’s heart broke as he heard his brother begging for his mother to come back to him. Setting the cloth down, Scott stood up and walked over to look out the window at the stars as they glistened in the sky. It would be daylight soon. “ I promise we will find whoever shot you and make them pay little brother.”

“ We found tracks from a single rider at the tree line behind Johnny.” Walt said.

“ Johnny must have been turning Barranca when he was shot.” Murdoch said.

“ Looks like whoever did it, intended on shooting him in the back. We found several rifle casings on the ground. We followed his tracks to the Lancer boundary. Has Johnny woke up yet to say anything?” Walt said and asked.

“ No, not yet. Did you send a man for the sheriff?” he asked.

“ Yes sir. I sent Pedro at first light. I better get to work. I’m sorry Mister Lancer.” Walt said.

“ Do you think it was someone who works for me?” Murdoch asked.

“ No sir. Johnny, he gets along good with all the men. They’re all upset this happened to him.” Walt responded.

“ What about someone I fired?” Murdoch asked.

“ Only one you fired was Carl, and that was five months ago. I haven’t seen him around since, and that pinto he rides would be a dead giveaway.” Walt said before heading out the door as the sheriff rode up.

“ Mister Lancer. I was told your son was shot. Ambushed last night?” Sheriff Crawford asked as he dismounted.

“ Yes. We have no idea who did it though.” Murdoch responded. “ Come inside. Care for a cup of coffee?”

“ No thanks. I’m Sheriff Crawford, Val Crawford. I’ve only been the sheriff about a week. Now this is what I call a fancy home.” Val said as he walked into the house and looked around the grand room.

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said.

“ Where’s your son? The one who was shot?” Val asked.

“ Johnny, he’s upstairs with my other son Scott, and the doctor.” Murdoch responded.

Sam put his stethoscope away and found a pair of blue eyes looking at him. “ Johnny.”

“ Who are you?” Johnny asked hoarsely.

“ My names Sam Jenkins. I’m a doctor. I cleaned and stitched up your wound last night.” Sam responded as he poured a glass of water. “ Here, sip this.”

Johnny raised his head and relished the coolness of the water. “ Thanks. How bad is it?” he asked as he tried to move, but stopped when the stitches pulled.

“ You were lucky. The bullet didn’t hit anything vital when it passed through. You did lose a considerable amount of blood, so I want you to drink plenty of water to replenish the blood loss.” Sam responded. “ There’s a bottle of laudanum here for the pain if you need it. I don’t want you moving around too much. You could tear out those stitches. I don’t want you trying to get out of bed either. Do you understand me?” Sam ordered.

“ I’ve had worse. I don’t need no doctor telling me what I can or can’t do.” Johnny responded as his door opened.

“ I’m the doctor, and you will do as I say young man.” Sam informed.

“ Glad to see you awake brother.” You gave us quit a scare last night.” Scott said as he walked over to the bed.

“ How’d you know?” Johnny asked.

“ Barranca came back covered in blood. Walt said you were at Black Mesa, so we combed the area until we found you.” Scott explained as his father and the sheriff walked into the room.

“ What the hell you doing here. And what the hell is that on your chest?” Johnny demanded.

“ I’m here because your sorry ass got shot, and that happens to be a badge I’m wearing.” Val responded as he walked over. “ How the hell you been kid?” he asked.

Murdoch looked from Scott to Sam, then at his son. “ You two know each other?” he asked.

“ The last time I seen you, you was headed to Sonora.” Val said. “ Who did it kid? Who shot ya this time?” he asked.

Johnny glanced at his father, then at Scott. “ Never seen him. Was watching the sunset when I turned Barranca to head home. That’s pretty much it.” Johnny responded.

“ As his doctor I am going to insist he gets rest now. You can talk again later.” Sam ordered.

“ I’ll be back kid. We got us some catching up to do.” Val said as he headed to the door.

“ Have Teresa change the bandage again this evening. Come get me if he shows any signs of an infection.” Sam ordered as he headed downstairs.

“ I will Sam, and thank you.” Murdoch responded.

Sam stopped at the bottom of the stairs. “ I think you are going to have your hands full with keeping him in bed long enough to let the wounds close up enough he doesn’t pull the stitches out.”

“ He’ll stay in bed Sam.” Murdoch said. “ If I have to tie him to the bed, he’ll stay.”


Chapter 9

Johnny sat up in bed a week later, when Val walked into the room. “ You feel up to a visitor?”

“ What I want is to get out of this damn room.” Johnny responded.

Val walked over and sat down in the chair next to the bed. “ You know, I heard me a story not to long ago about a gunfighter who rode all the way to Wyoming to capture a killed. Seems this killer was one of two members of the Seven Rivers gang, who went into Chihuahua and murdered a family.”

“ I kept a promise. It was no big deal Val.” Johnny said.

“ It is when it takes a man over a year to fulfill that promise kid. I’m sorry. The Carter family were good decent folks.” Val said. “ You care to explain all this?”

“ I didn’t see who it was that shot me.” Johnny responded.

“ I didn’t ask ya that. I asked ya to explain all this. Your old man, a brother, and the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin.” Val said.

“ What’s to explain. My mother lied to me, Scott found me, and I came home.”Johnny said as he sat up more.

“ What’s eating ya kid?” Val asked.

“ I shouldn’t be here Val. Who am I kidding thinking I can get out of the game and be the son of a rancher? I have no right to be a third owner of this ranch.” Johnny responded.

“ Just how big is this spread?” Val asked.

“ Lancer, one hundred thousand acres, with ten thousand head of cattle.” Johnny responded.

“ You’re a damn fool if you want to throw all that away!” Val asked as he stood up and walked over to the window. “I know you Johnny. So why don’t you cut the crap, and tell me what’s really eating you kid?”

“ You really are a pain in the ass Val.” Johnny said.

“ That may be, but I’m not leaving this room until you tell me what it is that’s eating you up inside.” Val said. “ What’s got you wanting to leave what I see as the best thing to ever happen to you?”

“ My past. I’m a killer Val. The old man says he can accept me as his son, and accept that a part of me is Johnny Madrid. A part of me that always will be.” Johnny explained.

“ What do you want? Because it seems to me, you got it made here kid. You know how many men have wanted what you have right now! To be able to walk away from the game, and live a normal life?” Val asked.

“ Normal, hell Val leaving Modesto to come here I was called out. I had to face a man down in front of Scott. He seen what I am.” Johnny cut in.

“ You got’s a lot of anger inside you kid. Anger from several different things from what I can tell. I think you need to go off alone somewhere on this ranch for a couple days and do some serious thinking about what you really want. I would love to have the chance at a life like this.” Val said.

“ You got out.” Johnny said softly.

“ I ain’t out of the game. The only thing that’s changed is I now wear a badge to keep the peace. What I do isn’t much different than when we hired out to a range war.” Val snapped back.

“ I buried her with my bare hands Val. I keep seeing her face as I placed her in the grave.” Johnny said.

“ Kid, you have to many ghost haunting you. Ya gotta let the past go. Keep the good memories, but push the bad away. Stop letting it eat you up inside.” Val said as Murdoch came into the room.

“ I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were here Sheriff Crawford.” Murdoch said.

“ That’s alright Mister Lancer. I need to get back to Green River. Come by when you’re feeling better and we’ll have us a cold beer together.” Val said as he started toward the door. “ Think about what I said kid.”

Johnny walked into the grand room a month later, and found his father sitting at the desk doing book work. “ Murdoch, can I talk to you?” he asked.

Murdoch looked up from what he was doing. “ What’s on your mind son?”

“ I know why she took me away from here now.” Johnny said as he walked over to the desk.

“ Go on.” Murdoch said as he closed the ledger, and sat back in his chair.

“ It was because of me. Well me and you. She came to me in a dream again, and told me she was jealous of all the time you would spend with me. She said the only way she knew she could hurt you, was to take me away from you.” Johnny explained.

Murdoch stood up and walked over to the big bay window behind the desk.

“ I have no memory of my life here. What was it like?” Johnny asked.

Murdoch turned around and faced his son. “ Your life was the way it should have always been. You were cherished and loved more than you could ever know. I did spend every minute I could with you. A father is supposed to do that with his child. I didn’t know she was jealous of that. I never imagined that could ever happen. I’m sorry.”

“ No need to apologize for being my father. I just thought you had a right to know.” Johnny responded.

“ Sam clear you to ride yet?” Murdoch asked as he walked back over to his desk.

“ Yeah, as long as I take it easy.” Johnny responded.

“ Alright. Tomorrow me and Scott had planned on riding to Green River. I have some banking business I need to take care of. I thought maybe you would like to go along and have a cold beer with your friend Val?” Murdoch suggested.

“ Only if you let me buy you a cold beer too?” Johnny asked.

“ I’d like that son. Now let me get back to these books so I know how much money we still have in the bank.” Murdoch said.

Murdoch, Scott, and Johnny rode into Green River, and stopped at the bank. “ Why don’t you go ahead and go see Val, while me and Scott take care of business son, and we’ll meet the two of you at the saloon?” Murdoch suggested.

“ Sure.” Johnny said as he turned Barranca and headed to the sheriff’s office.

“ He’s been awful quiet and distant lately.” Scott said as he dismounted, and tied his horse.

“ I know. Has he said anything to you?” Murdoch asked as he dismounted and tied his horse.

“ Not a word. I’m thinking he may leave.” Scott said.

“ If he does, all we can do is support his decision son.” Murdoch responded as he opened the door to the bank.

Johnny dismounted in front of the sheriff’s office and tied Barranca to the rail. Stepping up onto the walkway, he looked in the window, and seen Val sitting at his desk.

“ That what they pay you to do all day?” Johnny asked as he walked through the open door.

“ Mostly. What the hell you doing here?” Val said gruffly.

“ Thought I would come and buy you a cold beer.” Johnny responded.

“ Well that’s the best offer I’ve had all day kid.” Val responded as he stood up. “ It’s good to see you up and around.”

“ Murdoch and Scott are at the bank, and will join us when they’re finished.” Johnny said as the two headed out of the office toward the saloon as a rider on a pinto rode past, and dismounted in front of the saloon. Johnny stopped and watched the man as he went inside.

“ Something wrong?” Val asked.

Johnny walked over and looked at the pinto.

“ You know this horse?” Val asked as Murdoch and Scott walked up to them.

“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.

“ That’s Carl’s pinto.” Scott said.

“ Carl, you sure Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ I’m sure.” Scott responded.

“ Who’s Carl?” Val asked.

“ He used to work for me. I fired him the day after Johnny came home. He wasn’t doing his work.” Murdoch responded as Johnny walked past them to the saloon doors, and looked inside.

“ I’ve seen that look before.” Val said.

“ Johnny, what’s wrong?” Scott asked as his brother ignored him and stepped inside the saloon.

Val walked up on his right. “ He’s the one isn’t he?”

“ Yeah.” Johnny said softly before walking up behind Carl.

Murdoch and Scott stopped just inside the saloon doors, behind Val. “ What’s going on?” Murdoch asked.

“ He’s the one who shot Johnny.” Val said.

“ Johnny said he never seen who shot him!” Scott said.

“ He never seen the person, but evidently he seen the horse.” Val said.

“ You riding that black and white pinto outside?” Johnny asked.

“ What if I am?” Carl responded as he picked up his beer, and took a drink. “ He’s not for sale, so go on about your business.”

“ You are my business. You ambush a man, you should make sure he’s dead.” Johnny said coldly.

Carl turned around. “ Well, if it isn’t the long lost prodigal son.” Carl said snidely as he looked and seen Murdoch and Scott standing at the doors with the sheriff. “ You got no proof it was me who shot you in the back.”

“ Now who said I was shot in the back? I never said that. I said if you ambush someone, you should make sure he’s dead.” Johnny responded. “ Outside, let’s see how good you are when you’re facing the one you shot.” he ordered.

“ Lancer, you better tell your pup here to go home before he really gets hurt.” Carl ordered.

“ I don’t think so Carl. Not this time.” Murdoch responded. “ You almost killed my son.”

“ Well hell!” Carl said as he picked his beer up and finished it. “ Killing you is going to be a pure pleasure boy. And your old man and brother can watch me do it.”

Johnny walked past Val, Scott, and Murdoch, and headed outside.

“ You can’t let him do this Val!” Scott said. “ This isn’t who he is.”

“ Gun fighting isn’t against the law Scott. They way I see it, the kid has every right to face the man who ambushed him.” Val said as he walked outside to watch.

Carl walked out onto the street and faced Johnny. “ I’ll give you one last chance to walk away boy. Walk away and save your old man and brother from seeing you get killed.”

“ I can’t do that. You see, when you ambush someone, you should know who it is you ambushed.” Johnny responded. “ Val, why don’t you tell him who I’m also known as?”

“ Glad to amigo. You’re facing off with the fastest gunfighter west of the Mississippi, Johnny Madrid!” Val responded.

“ You ain’t Johnny Madrid. That half-breed is in Mexico.” Carl said.

“ He’s telling you the truth Carl. I seen him gun down two of the best in Nogales once.” a man yelled.

Johnny watched as a sick feeling came over Carl’s face and he started backing away. “ I’m not drawing against you.” he said. “ Sheriff, arrest me. I ambushed him. He cost me my job. I didn’t know you were Johnny Madrid!”

“ You got a choice. Life in San Quentin, or a bullet. What’s it going to be?” Johnny demanded.

“ A new law took effect. He can be hanged for what he done.” Val said. “ It was passed last week.”

“ I ain’t swinging from no rope!” Carl said as he went for his gun, only to be knocked backwards as two bullets slammed into his chest.

Johnny stood there a few seconds as people started to gather around Carl’s dead body. Looking over at Scott, he walked to Barranca, mounted up, and rode out if Green River.

Murdoch started to go to Johnny, when Scott stopped him. “ Don’t. He needs to be alone right now.”

“ He’s right Mister Lancer. He won’t run. Everything he did here was legal.” Val said.

“ Goading another man into a gunfight he knew that man couldn’t win, you call that legal!” Murdoch said with anger.

“ You don’t get it do you?” Scott demanded. “ Johnny had every right to face that man. He didn’t force him to go for his gun.”

“ Mister Lancer, I know you want Johnny to be your son, but you got ta remember, who he is more. It’s gonna take time for the kid to adjust to a new life. He has a lot of ghost from his past he has to deal with, and he just added another one. Be patient with him.” Val said before turning and walking over to the body. “ Alright, break it up. There’s nothing more to see here. Get on about your business people. A couple of you men carry him over to the undertaker.” Val ordered.

Johnny galloped into the yard and dismounted. Tying Barranca to the rail outside the veranda doors.

“ Johnny, where’s Murdoch and Scott? Teresa asked as he went upstairs.

Johnny went in his room and grabbed his saddlebags, and started putting what little he had in them as Teresa came into the room.

“ What’s wrong? Where are you going?” she asked.

“ I need to get away for a while Teresa.” Johnny said as he fastened his his saddlebags and grabbed his coat as he headed to the door.

“ Johnny wait. Please don’t leave.” she begged.

“ Tell Murdoch I’ll be at the south line-shack. I need to be alone. I have to sort some things out. I can’t stay in this house right now.” he said before kissing her on the forehead, and walking out.

“ Johnny, what happened?” Teresa asked as tears began to fall as she followed him downstairs and out to Barranca.

“ I killed a man in Green River, Teresa. The man who ambushed me. I just have to get away for some time alone.” he said as he tied his saddlebags down. “ I promise you, I won’t leave. I’m going to stay at the south line-shack. The corrals need redone. Tell them to stay away from me for a while.” Johnny added as he mounted Barranca, gave her a smile, and rode away.

Johnny hammered a nail in the last fence railing as a rider approached. Standing up straight, he looked and seen it was Teresa. Dropping the hammer in the bucket of nails, he grabbed his shirt and put it on as he walked toward her.

“ What are you doing here?” he asked.

“ I came to see if you are alright, and to bring you some cookies I baked.” Teresa said as she stopped her horse.

Johnny reached up and helped her down. “ You came here alone?” he asked.

“ Yes. I’m not a little girl Johnny.” she said. “ You said you didn’t want to see Murdoch and Scott. You never said for me to stay away. I figure two weeks is long enough. Untie my saddlebags for me so you can have some cookies.”

“ Go inside.” he said as he untied the saddlebags. “ I’ll take care of your horse.”

Teresa walked into the line-shack and was surprised it was actually clean, except for what looked like morning dishes.

“ Murdoch know where you are?” Johnny asked as he walked in.

“ I told Maria to tell him when they got back.” Teresa said as she undid her saddlebags and removed the cookies she had baked him. “ I didn’t know how much coffee you had left, so I brought you some.”

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he grabbed two cups and poured them both some coffee. “ It gets a little warm in here during the day. Let’s go sit out on the steps.” he suggested.

“ She did what?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Take it easy. Teresa knows where the line-shack is. She’s perfectly safe riding there alone. She might be able to get Johnny to come back with her.” Scott said.

“ That’s beside the point. She’s only seventeen.” Murdoch responded.

“ Johnny isn’t going to hurt her or do anything inappropriate with her.” Scott said.

“ He better not.” Murdoch said firmly. “ He does, and I will tan that boys hide and nail it to the barn.”

“ What’s it like Johnny?” Teresa asked.

“ What’s what like querida?” Johnny asked.

“ You know, being Johnny Madrid?” Teresa asked.

“ You know, I ask myself that question every day.” Johnny responded.

“ Come up with an answer yet?” she asked.

“ When I strapped on this gun, it was to hunt down the man who killed my mother and send him straight to hell. I was fourteen at the time. When it was over, I found that people respected and feared me, and nobody beat me anymore. I know that sounds harsh, and isn’t really an excuse, but when you grow up below the border with blue eyes, you have to do whatever you can if you want to stay alive. I seen other gunfighters use their trade in a bad way. I decided I wasn’t going to be like them. So I hired my gun out to help those less fortunate. I’ve always stayed on the right side of the law, but…….” Johnny explained before becoming quiet.

Teresa took his right hand in hers. She knew he was struggling with what he was about to say to her. A small gesture of support she hoped would show him she cared.

“ Jessica was only sixteen when I buried her outside Tucson two summers ago. I vowed to her I would find the men responsible for what they did to her and for killing her parents. I almost crossed that fine line that separates good from evil. Tom walker, I tracked all the way to Wyoming. Scott found me working last winter at the Slash Y ranch in Colorado. He rode with me and along the way we met up with a U.S. Marshal named Ben Daniels. It seems he was also tracking Walker for the murder. When we caught him in Medicine Bow at the Cole ranch. I was real close to blowing his head off, but Scott stopped me. Instead I watched him swing from a rope a few days later. It wasn’t the justice I thought I wanted him to get, but I kept from crossing that fine line, and from making the biggest mistake of my life doing something I could never take back.” Johnny explained.

“ You got justice in the end for their murders. That’s all you can do.” Teresa said. “ I’m glad you’re home.” she added as she squeezed his hand.

Johnny laughed. “ Home. A man with my past doesn’t deserve to have a home. Especially one like Lancer.” he said before standing up.

“ Johnny lancer, you are so wrong in saying that!” Teresa said as she stood up. “ You were born at Lancer, and like it or not, it is your home. Now I want you to finish what you were doing, because you are coming back with me, and I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“ You sure you’re not Murdoch’s daughter by blood?” Johnny asked with a smile.

“ Yes I’m sure. Why?” Teresa asked.

“ Because you got a temper like him. I was going to come back when I finished with the corral.” Johnny said.

“ Teresa is riding in now, and Johnny is with her sir.” Scott said.

Murdoch stood up and walked to the veranda doors as Johnny dismounted and helped Teresa down. “ Give him a good rubdown would ya Walt?”

“ Sure thing Johnny.” Walt said as he took their horses.

“ Murdoch, Scott. I got the corrals rebuilt at the line-shack. The barn roof is going to need new shingles on it before winter.” Johnny said as him and Teresa walked into the house. “ I’m going to go soak in a hot bath. I’ll see you at supper. Teresa, thanks.” Johnny said before heading upstairs.

“ Thanks for what young lady?” Murdoch asked.

“ I think that is between me and Johnny.” Teresa responded.

“ Did he dishonor you in any way?” he demanded.

“ Murdoch Lancer, how could you even think such a thing. All we did was talk, or rather he talked and I listened. Johnny was a perfect gentleman to me. Now if you will excuse me. I’m going to go help Maria with supper.”

“ You just had to ask didn’t you. I suggest that if you really want Johnny to stay here, you start trusting him around Teresa more.” Scott said before walking outside.

Lawyer Randall opened the contract he had prepared.

“ Sign there.” Lawyer Randall said.

Scott took the pen and signed just above his name.

Johnny stood in the corner, chewing on the stampede strap to his hat as he watched.

“ Just above your name.” he told Murdoch as he turned the contract so he could sign it.

“ And you sir.” Mister Randall said as he handed the pen to Johnny.

“ Oh Mister Randall, I should have told you, that last name should read John Madrid, not Lancer.” Murdoch said as he looked at Johnny.

“ I’ll fix it in a minute.” Randall said.

“ No, let it stand.” Johnny said as he took the pen, dipped it in the ink jar and signed his name.

Scott looked at Murdoch and smiled. Today was a new beginning for all of them. Especially his little brother.

“ I think this stands for a celebration.” Scott said “ I’ll buy.”

Johnny looked at him then Murdoch. “ I’d rather go home and celebrate there with Teresa.”

“ Alright son. We can do that.” Murdoch said as the three Lancer men walked out of the lawyers office.

“ So did you do it?” Val asked.

“ Do what?” Johnny asked with a smile.

“ Don’t get smart with me kid. You know darn well what I mean. You think I got all gussied up for nothing.” Val responded.

“ Yeah, you sure do look pretty.” Johnny said with a laugh.

“ Let’s go home boys.” Murdoch said.

“ Damn young kids these days. Got no respect for their elders.” Val grumbled as he went to his horse.

“ Respect has to be earned Val. You know that.” Johnny said.

“ After all we been through together. I think I’ve more than earned the right to be respected by you.” Val responded.

“ Well Val.” Johnny said as he swung up on Barranca. “ That’s what I like about our friendship. It keeps me living on a prayer.”





Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Nancy Marie directly.


4 thoughts on “Living On A Prayer by Nancy Marie

  1. I really enjoyed reading this story. I thought Scott was being a jerk at times until he got to know Johnny a bit more then they became true brothers. Thanks for sharing this story!


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