Word count 78,556
I don’t own them. I’m just taking them out for a midnight ride. This story has an R rating for adult language and adult content.
Two men sat atop a hill looking down at the river below. Across lay Mexico and trouble for one of these men if caught by Rurales. The sun would be down behind the Sierrita Mountains in an hour.
“ Rivers low.” Johnny said as he got off his horse. “ We’ll cross the River in the morning.” he said as he started to unsaddle his stallion.
“ Alright Johnny…….You take care of the horses and I’ll get some wood for a fire.” Joe said as he got off his horse.
“ Okay…..How far to your fathers ranch from here?”
“ We should be there day after tomorrow if we don’t run into any trouble……..You havin second thoughts about goin?”
Johnny threw his saddle down and started brushing Barranca’ golden coat. “ No………Listen Joe I need to be sure you understand what me being back in Mexico means. If the Rurales find out I’m back they will hunt me down. If that happens or we come across them I want you to get away from me and stay away……..I don’t want them usin you against me okay?”
“ I understand Johnny……My father does as well.”
“ Does he know we’re comin?”
“ No……I completely forgot to send him a wire telling him we were……I better get that wood, your turn to cook tonight.” Joe said as he walked off the gather wood.
Johnny brushed Barranca while his emotions ran wild inside. Pain, betrayal and anger were all he felt ever since him and his new found cousin rode out of Lancer six days ago. Inside he knew his brother would be angry when he found the letter he had left, but not wanting to face him it was the only way he could leave. Getting to know Scott in the three years they had been together Johnny knew his brother would try his damnedest to talk him out of leaving. Why couldn’t his father accept him for who he was?
Receiving a nip on his arm brought Johnny back. “ Sorry amigo.” Johnny said. “ Got a little rough there and I’m sorry buddy…….You know, I guess a gunfighter just ain’t meant to change and live a normal life buddy. Guess you could say I got what I wanted though…..Johnny Madrid, good at his trade.” he said as he walked around and ran a hand up and down his beloved stallions face. Barranca raised his head and put it on Johnny’s shoulder. “ Yeah I know amigo, I know…….If this don’t go well, you me and Stormy will head to Montana maybe. Johnny Madrid shouldn’t be known up there and I hear it’s a right pretty place. Lot’s a lush green grass and rivers. Course it does snow and probably gets mighty cold in the winter but we can handle that.” Johnny told his friend as he heard Joe walking back with an arm load of wood.
“ I can honestly say I have never seen a horse or it’s owner love each other the way you two do Johnny.
Where did you get Barranca?”
“ From a rancher in Laredo. I was workin for the man and when my job was done I was getting ready ta ride out and a couple hands was beatin him. Had him tied to a post whippin him.”
“ That’s no way to treat an animal. They do it cause they couldn’t break him?”
“ Yeah…….I figure that how you treat an animal is how you want to be treated……The old man decided he wasn’t gonna pay me for my services so I took Barranca here as payment.”
“ I don’t know what your fee is, or want to know cousin, but I can tell that you got paid at least twice that amount with him..You gonna breed him to Stormy there?” Joe asked as he got a pot of coffee going.
“ Maybe……I don’t rightly know right now. What’s he like Joe…….my uncle?” Johnny asked as he came over to the fire and got his saddlebags and took out some hard tack, beans and jerky.
“ He’s a good man…….fair and real easy ta work with…..He don’t judge a man and is more than willin ta give a man a chance if he wants one.”
“ Unlike my old man……….What’s this ranch a his like?”
“ You’ll love it Johnny….My father raises Andalusian’. You ever hear of them?”
“ Yeah, I seen a beautiful black one once in Monterrey.”
“ Boy I’ll tell ya, they are a smooth horse ta ride Johnny. Why they can dance and move like no horse I ever seen before.”
“ I seen me a horse a rancher had up in Colorado once, called it a Tennessee Walker. This stud was every bit of seventeen hands tall and you talk about a long body. That boy had one. He brought those front feet a his up almost to his nose as he trotted. Never seen such a horse.”
“ Yeah I hear they are real gentile But I don’t see a horse that big bein able ta work cows like our horse do.”
“ Naw I guess not.” Johnny said as he slowly reached for his pistol and took it out. Laying it in his lap.
Joe glanced around and took out his gun as well. “ Trouble?” he asked.
Johnny shook his head and sighed. “ That’s a good way ta get yourself shot brother. Sneaking up on a mans fire at night.” Johnny said as he stood up and holstered his gun.
Scott Lancer rode out of Tombstone pleased. Cautiously he had inquired about his brother and Joe and found he was half a day behind them. Knowing his brother, Scott knew Johnny wouldn’t cross into Mexico until morning by the time they reached the river so he pushed his horse a little harder to catch up. Smelling smoke he stopped and got down. Not knowing who had the campfire Scott walked quietly closer. That is until he heard his brother’s voice. Stepping out of the trees into the fire’s light.
“ How did you know it was me?”
Johnny walked over to him. “ I knew you been followin us the past three days………Go home Scott cause I ain’t goin back to that bastard.”
“ Joe could you go get my horse and bring him in please?……..I would like to talk to my brother alone.”
“ Sure Scott.” Joe answered as he stood up and headed in the direction Scott had come from.
“ I mean it Boston……..I’m not going back.”
Scott walked up to his brother and grabbed his left arm and spun him around and hit Johnny hard knocking him down. “ You know I never figured my brother for being a coward, but you are. You think that just because you put some words on a piece of paper for me to find and leave without so much as a good by is alright…….Wrong…….Murdoch told me what happened between the two of you and how you pointed a gun at him………Why Johnny?……..I mean why walk away from the only good thing that has ever happened to you?………Why are you so willing to give it all up for nothing?” Scott asked with anger.
“ I don’t belong there……..I never will. Can’t you understand that Scott?……..The old man doesn’t want me there……I’m nothing to him but a half breed killer.”
“ That’s bullshit Johnny and you know it………..You are not a half breed killer……..A third of Lancer is yours, your birthright. Don’t throw that away Johnny.”
“ I have no birthright brother. I never will as long as that bastard can’t see past what I did in my past to stay alive.”
“ So crossing that river is supposed to be better?……..Johnny you are wanted dead or alive over there.”
“I know that Scott.” Johnny snapped back. “ I know what I did in Mexico…….I know that if the Rurales catch me what they will do to me……..I escaped from them once. Captain Mendez ain’t gonna forget that.”
“ That’s all the more reason to not go Johnny.”
“ I have to go Scott………..I need to know if I can get to know my uncle…….If it was you wouldn’t you want to try too?”
“ Yes I would, but I’m not Johnny Madrid either. I’m not wanted by the Mexican authorities Johnny like you are.”
“ No, you’re the perfect son…….Go on back to Lancer Scott.”
“ Not without you and nothing you can say or do will make me leave……..You’re my brother and I’m not losing you and that’s final.”
“ You know for someone who went to that fancy eastern college Scott you sure are stupid…….Don’t you get it?……..You can’t stay with me…….I’ll get you killed……..A gunfighter don’t have no family and he sure as hell don’t have no friends he can count on.”
“ Yes you do Johnny……..You’re not a gunfighter any longer and damn it I will not ride out of here and let you go back to living by that damn gun.”
“ I got news for you brother I’m not going back to living by my gun…….I will use it to stay alive, but that’s all……I’m through hiring it out to kill a man for money.” Johnny stated firmly as he handed his brother a cup of coffee. “ Ain’t got but some hard tack, beans and jerky to offer you for eats if you’re hungry.”
“ Thanks brother.” Scott said with a grin as he sat down.
“ You really are a pain in the ass Boston.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Yeah but just think of how lucky you are to have me be * your * pain in the ass little brother……So you and Joe getting to know each other better?”
“ Yeah, I guess you could say we are.” Johnny said as he sat down. “ Told me my uncle raises Andalusian’ on his ranch.”
“ Andalusian’, that’s a breed that dates back to the Seventeen hundreds.”
“ Yeah it is..Pure Raza Espanola breed from the Iberian Peninsula lived for thousands of years. It’s known as the * War Horse * and prized in Mexico for it’s nobility.” Johnny said.
Scott raised a brow. “ You seem to know a bit about the breed.”
“ Like I told Joe, I seen one once in Laredo and I did grow up in Mexico so why should my knowing about them be such a surprise?”
“ No I didn’t mean it like that.” Scott said.
“ I know what ya meant Boston……Look I’m tired so I’m gonna turn in. We leave at first light.”
“ How far is it to your uncles place?”
“ Joe said we should be there day after tomorrow.” Johnny told him as he spread his bedroll and laid down. “ Night brother.”
“ Good night Johnny.”
Two days later the three men rode to a gate and stopped there horses. Ahead of them Johnny and Scott could see several big barns and corrals with horses in them, off to their right several magnificent black Andalusian’ grazed lazily. The sun shinning on their coats had them shinning like nothing either brother had ever seen before.
“ Beautiful aren’t they cousin?’ Joe asked as he removed his hat to wipe the sweat from his brow.
“ Yeah.” Johnny said.
“ Gorgeous I’d say. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful animal.”
Barranca nipped at Scott’ left leg and snorted, drawing a laugh from his owner. “ I think my amigo is offended by your remark there brother.”
“ So it would seem.” Scott said as he rubbed his leg. “ I mean no disrespect to you Barranca.”
“ Come on.” Joe said laughing as he spurred his horse.
“ There are three of them riding in Capitain.”
“ I can see that. It is Madrid that I am only interested in…….You are sure that the men know not to make a move until I say?”
“ Yes sir, they will wait.”
“ My son is with him……I don’t want him hurt……I don’t know who the other man is with them.” Arnesto Martinez pleaded. “ You gave me your word captain that nothing would happen to my son if I delivered Madrid to you.”
“ I gave you my word yes and I will honor it.” the captain said. Madrid had escaped from him three years ago with a bullet in him. He was sure the gunfighter had died from that wound but found that was not the case. A padre let it be know with a little persuasion from a gun that Martinez was Madrid’ uncle. The man had a lot to lose in his fine horses if threatened so when the word came that Madrid had cross back into Mexico two days ago the captain couldn’t be happier. Now, gun in hand he watched as the gunfighter rode right into his trap.
“ You are mine now Madrid. Today you will start paying for all my men you have killed you bastardo.” he spat. “ Go out and greet them and if you so much as let on that we are hear I will put a bullet in your back and kill all your horses.”
Johnny, Scott and Joe rode into the yard and was greeted by a vaquero who waited to take their horses. Joe got down as did Scott but Johnny remained mounted. His gut was telling him that something was wrong. He didn’t know what, but something was. He seen a man whom he assumed was his uncle walking toward them with a smile on his face.
“ Father.” Joe said as he went to the man. “ It is good to see you sir.”
“ Joseph you look well. I did not know you were coming my son. You should have told me so I could prepare a feast to welcome you home.”
“ I know and I’m sorry but it was sudden and well…………Father I would like you to meet Scott Lancer and his brother, your nephew Johnny Lancer.”
Scott held out his hand. “ Sir, your son has told me a great deal about you and your fine ranchero.”
“ So you are Johnny’s brother from back east. Joe wrote and told me about you.” the man said as he looked up at Johnny still on his horse. “ Do you not have manors enough to at least come down and greet me my nephew?”
Johnny dropped his right hand down to his gun. “ Somethings not right Scott, get back on your horse now.” Johnny ordered.
Scott looked up at his brother and could tell by the look on his face that he was serious. Just as he was about to move back to his horse to mount up a single shot rang out and he watched in horror as his little brother was knocked backwards off Barranca.
Johnny felt the slam of the bullet about the same time he heard the shot. Hitting the ground hard he went for his gun when a very familiar voice yelled at him not to.
“ Don’t Madrid…….I will kill you where you lay.”
Johnny rolled over onto his right side and looked in horror at the voice who spoke. “ Mendoza.”
“ I see your memory is still good……..take his gun……if either of you try to do anything my men will cut you down. I have no quarrel with you. It is Madrid that I want.” the captain said as he walked over and looked down at Johnny laying on the ground bleeding from his upper left arm. “ I am so looking forward to paying you back for killing my men and getting away from me that day. I had hoped that my bullet in you had killed you but I see it did not…….no matter because you will die and starting right now it will be a very slow and very painful death.”
Joe looked at his father. “ Why…….how could you do this father? How could you tell them Johnny was coming here?……..You sold out your own familia.”
“ I did what I had to Joseph. If I didn’t they would have ruined my ranch and killed my horses.”
“ You put those damn horses lives over your own flesh and blood?……..You’re no better than mister Lancer is.”
“ I’m sorry my son……..I had no choice……..I couldn’t tell you.”
“ No choice……..you always have a choice to do the right thing father. * you * taught me that.”
“ Take him and tie him to the fence. I want to start making him pay tonight. I want him to feel pain and what it’s like to cross me.”
Johnny was grabbed up by several rurales and dragged over to the fence. His arms were stretched out and tied to the top rail causing a white hot pain to rip through his heft shoulder as blood ran down his side. He knew what was coming and tried to prepare his mind for the pain but having his brother witness to the cruelty Mendoza could inflict on another.
Scott watched in horror, powerless to stop the brutal whipping his brother received Johnny stayed conscious through the beating.
“ Leave him hang there till morning when we leave for Santa Ana…….No one and I mean no one is to go near him. I want two men guarding this swine at all times. If he escapes me again I will kill the mother son dog who allows it. Is that clear?”
Mendoza received yes’ from his men before turning and walking back toward the ranch house followed by Johnny’s uncle.
Scott wanted to go to his brother badly but knew that getting himself killed would do him no good at all. Looking at Joe he knew, well maybe knew that the young man had nothing to do with this setup.
“ Your father will pay for this Joe. If Johnny dies I promise you.”
“ Not hear Scott….come with me so we can talk.” Joe said before glancing at Johnny then walking away toward the stallions in the pasture.
Scott hesitated but followed. “ Hang on brother.” he said before walking away.
Johnny heard his brother’ voice right before darkness claimed him. Unable to bear the pain any longer he welcomed it or death even if it wanted him tonight.
Scott walked out into the pasture and grabbed Joe roughly by the shirt. “ You sonofabitch you led my brother right into a trap.”
“ I swear to you Scott I didn’t know the rurales were here. Would you listen to me please?….We have to stick together if we are going to save Johnny’s life.”
Scott shoved Joe back. “ You give me one good reason why I should trust you?”
“I was at Lancer remember……How could I have known we were riding into a trap…….My father asked me to come to Lancer yes but I didn’t know it was for this Scott. My god Johnny is my cousin, a man I respect and am proud to have as a friend.”
“ And just how praytale are we supposed to get Johnny free? There are ten of them and only two of us.”
“ With luck that’s how…….the captain will have to ride to Hermosillo to file the papers on Madrid’ arrest. He won’t go with less than five men to protect him. They won’t let Johnny ride, they will make him walk or be dragged to Santa Ana to the prison there. I know of a canyon they will have to go through where we can pick them off and get Johnny back.”
“ If you are lying to me Joe……it will be the biggest and last mistake you ever do.”
“ I’m not Scott, I swear. Come on we will need rest and we need to act like nothing is going to happen. If my father or the captain ask’ your plans tell them you are going back home to California. Don’t mention your father or the ranch there. They would use that against Johnny and torture him badly to extortion money from you for him and personally I would much rather kill them bastards than pay them.” Joe said with anger.
“ I doubt I will be able to sleep tonight with my brother left like he is but alright.”
That night Scott was asked about his plans now and told both men just like Joe had said. That he had no plans to stay and would return to the United States as soon as possible. It became obvious to him that the captain did not know Johnny’s real last name was Lancer and obviously had not heard it mentioned so that was a good thing on there part. Heading to bed in the guest room overlooking the yard Scott say at the window and silently prayed as he looked down at his brother hanging from the fence. Blood could be seen from that distance covering his back. “ Please hang on brother……I’m gonna get you out of this I promise, or I will die trying.” Scott said quietly as tears ran down his face.
The next morning at sunrise the captain could tell Johnny was unconscious and deliberately walked up and took the cigar he had from his mouth and pressed it into Johnny’s side to wake him up.
Johnny jerked awake from the burning pain and collapsed to the ground when his hands were cut free. Unable to move he was dragged away from the fence toward some horses and his hands bound together in front of him. Then Mendoza had a rope tied to them and handed up to him after he mounted. Turning his horse to leave Johnny was jerked forward falling to his knees. Struggling to get up he was dragged along before the captain finally stopped his mount.
“ This is the only time I will stop and allow you to get up Madrid……..you fall again and you will be dragged.”
Johnny got up and glanced at his brother and Joe standing side by side. He then glanced at his uncle and gave his famous Madrid cold as ice stare. “ I’ll see you again.” was all he said before being jerked forward again. The captains horse kicked out, almost catching him in the head so he made a note to stay to the side out of the mares reach.
Johnny trudged along as the sun rose higher in the sky. Stumbling several times but managing to keep his feet under him. He could feel insects biting at the blood now dried on his back and his left arm now had no feeling in it at all. The wound still seeped sporadically as his arms were jerked harshly by the rope. His wrist now bleed and with every jerk he could feel the rough hemp rope cutting into them more. Sweat running down his raw and tattered back burned with every muscle that moved. Stumbling Johnny unconsciously reached out and grabbed the mares tail to stop his fall and received a powerful kick the his right thigh dropping him to the ground. Mendoza kept the mare moving, dragging him along for several feet over rocks and cactus before stopping.
“ Give your horses a rest and water.” he ordered as he threw the rope down and dismounted. Walking back to Madrid with his canteen he stood over him and took a swallow of the tepid water and swirled it around in his mouth before spitting it on Johnny’s face and laughing. Taking another long pull from the canteen knowing the effect it was having on his prisoner.
“ I do not waste water on swine such as yourself Madrid.” he said before again spitting on him then walking back to his horse to put the canteen away. “ Manuel I will take five men with me and file the papers on Madrid in Hermosillo…..I want you to continue on with the swine to Santa Ana……I want Madrid to arrive there alive is that clear? I have very special plans for him and cannot carry out those plans if he dies along the way, and if for some reason he escapes I will kill you and your familia understood?”
“ Yes El Capitain……I understand. Me and my men will get Madrid to Santa Ana alive for you. You have my word.” Manuel said as he looked at the prisoner struggling to get up on his knees. He had heard how brutal Mendoza could be and that the captain was not a man to be trifled with. He had heard the stories and knew what Madrid meant to him. Even though his career in the rurales has been only a few years he did not plan on it ending soon. Once the captain and his men were gone Manuel planned to give the prisoner some much needed water. Temperatures soaring high by late afternoon he knew Madrid would not make it to Santa Ana which was still four days away with having him walk.
“ I meant what I said Manuel……you and your men make sure Madrid arrives alive……you may have some fun with him if you wish but I want him alive. If he tries to escape…shoot him but don’t kill him.” the captain said firmly as he got on his horse and rode off.
Taking his canteen Manuel walked over to Johnny laying on the ground, pain clearly showing on his face as he rubbed his right thigh. Kneeling down he glanced back at his men who paid him no mind. Handing the canteen to Madrid after taking the cap off. “ It is hot and will only get hotter, drink.”
Johnny looked at the man unsure if it was a cruel trick, that if he reached for the canteen he would be beaten or if he could actually have water. Deciding the latter of his two options was better Johnny took the canteen and drank eagerly.
“ Easy…you will only make yourself sick if you drink to fast.”
Slowing down Johnny relished the feeling of the tepid water as it soothed his parched throat.
“ Is it broke?” Manuel asked as he took the preferred canteen back and put the cap on.
Johnny just looked at him for a second. “ Why do you care?” he asked harshly.
“ I don’t, I was just trying to maybe see if I could help you is all. My mistake.” he said standing up.
“ Wait….why did you give me the water? Mendoza could punish you for it and they could tell him you did so.”
“ I gave you the water because the capitain made it clear that if you died before I got you to Santa Ana he would kill me, my men and our families. My wife is with our first child, but I don not expect a man such as yourself to care about such a thing as another mans family. I will give you one hour to rest.” Manuel said before walking away.
Johnny watched the man walked back over to his men and could hear very little of the conversation between them. The words * ahorcado* ( hanged ) and * arrastrado a la muerte detras de un caballlo* ( dragged to death behind a horse) drifted to his ears. Neither way sounded good to him. He had seen a man hung before and ghastly was the only way to describe it. Being dragged behind a spook horse across the desert was just as bad in his book. Sometimes the horse could run for miles spooked even more by the man being drug behind. Rurales like to have a man dragged through cactus and over rocks not big enough to crush their skull on impact, but big enough and sharp enough to cut the flesh to ribbons. Looking to the northeast Johnny spotted dust. Deep down inside he knew who it was trailing them. He knew his brother would be foolish enough to try and free him and with the odds now down to five to one instead of ten to one, make that two he could feel a small chance of not having to worry about which way Mendoza planned to kill him once reaching Santa Ana. Johnny knew the terrain they would be going over to reach the prison and he was willing to bet that Joe did also. They would have to ride through Aconchi canyon east of Sonora after crossing over the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. The direction the dust trail was headed left no doubt in his mind that that is what his brother and cousin were doing. Aconchi Canyon would be a perfect place for an ambush, It could also be a perfect place for Madrid to die if in the wrong place when it started.
Scott and Joe rode at an easy pace just fast enough in the mid morning heat to get ahead of the rurales and into the canyon before them.
“ I can’t tell you how sorry I am about this happening Scott……..I never would have talked to Johnny about those letters coming to the house if I had known my father was going to do something like this. I swear to you I did not know his intentions.”
“ You know Joe, my little brother taught me something about people. He taught me that if you really listen to the words a man speaks you can learn a whole lot about that man. Mainly if he is telling the truth……..I’ve done that with you and I believe you……I believe you didn’t know about this and I’m glad to have you along to help get my brother….your cousin back.”
“ Thanks Scott. You know Johnny thinks pretty highly of you ya know……Don’t tell him I told you this but…well……he told me that of all the people in this country he had ta get stuck with an eastern tenderfoot for a big brother…..he laughed when he said this mind you…….Johnny said that even though you was he was glad you are his brother because no one else could be. I think my cousin doesn’t know how to show or share his feelings about other, but I do know that he cares very much for you.”
“ I have the feeling that there are a lot of things my little brother needs to learn to do Joe. Maybe together we can teach him.”
“ I’d like that….I know growing up was pretty rough for him. I used to hear stories about Johnny Madrid and some of them I gotta tell ya were not good ones.”
“ Like what?” Scott asked. “ Johnny never really talks about his past……..I remember he told me once shortly after we met about something that happened to him when he was little. He cut his hand on the barbed wire and all the sudden while he was looking at the blood he started remembering this, he told me that some kids in the village he was in at the time stabbed him because they wanted to know what color his blood was.”
“ Yeah I gathered Johnny was abused a lot growing up.”Joe said.
“ Yeah to hear him tell it he got it from both sides. Said that when you’re a half breed growing up on the border you got beaten from both gringo’s and Mexican’s. Here I was worrying about what to wear or do growing up not wanting for anything and I have a brother scrounging in garbage for something to eat and trying to stay alive.” Scott said as he stopped his horse. “ I would give anything if I could take away all the abuse he went through…….I spent a year in Libby prison and what I went through in that year I thought at the time I wouldn’t be able to survive it. Johnny has been in a prison much worse than Libby and he’s survived.”
“ Sounds to me like * you * got educated all over again when you came out west. That you found out abuse and hatred isn’t just in the south over owning a person of different color.”
“ Yeah I did Joe……I fought in the war to end the kind of crap Johnny has put up with but what good does it do when men die fighting for that precious freedom they want when that same person is willing to inflict pain or take away another persons freedom just because of the color of their skin?”
“ I don’t think I can answer that one but I do know that men like your brother can or are making a difference.”
“ My brother seems to not care about his own life as much as he does others. He takes risk with no regard to his own safety to help others. People see him as a gunfighter or cold blooded killer and that’s all they want to see.”
“ They don’t want to see the real Johnny…..I must say my cousin is a different breed of gunfighter that’s for sure. I heard how he was in it for a reputation and the money at first….then I started hearing from this padre how Johnny Madrid was helping the weak and poor and had turned on his own kind.”
“ My brother wants to live a normal life. Not one from a gun.”
“ He’s the fastest you know?……..There isn’t another man in Mexico at least who is faster than him.”
“ I know ones who think they were are now dead. Only a very few have called Johnny Madrid out and survived. He told me that as long as he’s alive he will never be able to hang up his gun and live a normal life like he want’s.” Scott said with sadness. “ Why does this Captain Mendoza hate Johnny so much?”
“ From what I’ve heard, now mind you the Padre told me this. He said that Madrid used to make Mendoza look like a fool. He would raid his camps at night and steal back what Mendoza took from the farmers……He killed some of his men a couple times and I guess the Rurales frowned on this and Mendoza ended up serving time for letting Madrid escape his custody. He got busted down to Captain and told that he would get his status back if he caught Johnny and brought him in alive.” Joe said.
“ You think he’s still alive?”
“ Yeah I think knowing my brother he knows we are here and that we have something planned. I’m sure he seen our dust, I just hope the rurales didn’t.” Scott said as he started his horse again. “ You know this Aconchi Canyon pretty good?”
“ Yeah. There’s a place at the other end we can hide the horses and have a good vantage point above them for the surprise.”
“ Lead the way then. I want to make sure we are ready well before they get to use.” Scott said as he urged his horse on with Barranca and Stormy following.
Manuel and his men mounted up and just like Mendoza, Manuel spurred his horse forward and jerked Johnny hard.
“ Guess the kindness is over.” Johnny said hoarsely as he stumbled along.
“ Keep your eyes open for trouble.” Manuel yelled to his men as they entered the canyon.
Johnny did the best he could to keep up in the deep sand, gravel mix. His right leg was protesting every step and his left arm was on fire with pain. What was left of his shirt back was soaked with sweat as was the front. Sweat and blood, the smell in the hot afternoon sun made his stomach rebel. No water or very little that he was given didn’t help much. Walking or being dragged across this type of terrain in the hot summer sun could kill a man. Johnny could feel even though his skin was tan from the Mexican part of him, his skin starting to burn. Bugs continued to eat at the wounds on his back. Stumbling along he couldn’t stop his mind from thinking about his father and what he had so hoped and dreamed would be his home, Lancer. He knew the sun was starting to affect his mind when he started thinking about a man who clearly didn’t want him as his son. Exhausted and unable to walk any farther Johnny went down to his knee’s and was abruptly jerk forward and dragged. He could feel the rocks and sand cutting into his wounds and his shoulders and arms screamed with pain. Blood ran from his swollen cut wrist as the rope bit into his raw skin even more.
Manuel stopped his horse near the exit of the canyon and looked back at Madrid laying on the ground not moving. Getting off his horse he walked back and looked down at his bloody prisoner. “ Get up Madrid……..get up or be dragged the rest of the way.” he ordered. When Johnny didn’t respond or move he kicked him in the ribs bringing a moan, again kicking him harder. “ Get up Madrid.”
Johnny couldn’t move. His whole body was racked with pain. “ Go to hell.” he mumbled. This got him grabbed by the hair and his head yanked up. “
“ No creas que no te va a matar aqui mism mestizo.” ( don not think I will not kill you right here mestizo)
“ You do and you’ll spoil Mendoza’ fun.” Johnny mumbled.
“ Puedo decir que Mendoza intento escapar y me tiro a muerte despies de matar a mis hombres.”
(I can tell Mendoza you tried to escape and I shot you dead after you killed my men) Manuel spat.
“ Seguir adelante. No tengo miedo de morir. Acepte la muerte hace mucho tiempo.”
(go ahead. I’m not afraid of dying. I accepted deatha long time ago) Johnny said as he used everything he had left for strength and rose up to his knees.
Scott watched his brother being dragged closer to him. When the leader stopped and got off his horse and walked back to his brother, he couldn’t get a shot because of the rurales horse. Watching in anger as his brother was brutally kicked Scott cursed under his breath as he signaled to Joe across the canyon.
Both men took aim at the rurales still mounted. They needed the leader away from his brother. He couldn’t risk hitting him with the man behind his brother who had rose up on his knees blocking his shot even more. Joe signaled that he couldn’t get a shot either. All the two men could do was pray that once the first rurale fell dead, it would allow one of them a shot at the man holding his brother.
Manuel took out his pistol and shoved it into the side of Johnny’s head and pulled the hammer back.
“ Vamos a ver si usted esta dispuesto a rogar por tu vida?” ( lets see if you are willing to beg for your life?)
“ Nunca pidio antes, asi que no voy a empezar ahora sin rurale de mierda apestoso.”
( never begged before, so I’m not gonna start now for no fucking dtinkin rurale) Johnny spat back as he struggled against the hold Manuel had on him. He tried to get his right boot up so he could get to the knife he carried there on the inside. Apparently Mendoza had forgotten Madrid carried a knife in his boot and Johnny was just waiting for the right time to use it. Reaching down with his right hand he grasped the handle just as a shot rang out followed by another. Looking he seen two rurales fall from their horses dead. The remaining two jumped from their mounts and started firing up the canyon side on the right.
Manuel grabbed Johnny around the throat and pulled him up. He watched in anger as his last two men fell dead.
“ I will kill him if you do not show yourself.” he yelled as he struggled to hold on too Madrid.
Both Scott and Joe stepped into view with their rifles aimed at Johnny and Manuel.
“ Let him go.” Scott ordered. “ Let him go and you can ride out of here.”
“ Drop your guns now.” he ordered. “ Drop them or he is dead.”
Johnny had the knife in his hands now and cut the rope binding his hands together as Manuel tightened his hold around his throat. Looking at his brother, he hoped he would see what he was doing and keep distracting the man.
“ Let my brother go and I give you my word you can ride out of here.”
“ Your brother huh?……..This pig swine killer has no familia……..you lie.”
Johnny felt the rope let go and with all the strength he had left he spun around and brought the knife up and in one swift move he brought the blade across Manuel’ throat slicing it clean through. Taking a step back he watched as the man brought his cocked pistol up and pulled the trigger as he fell dead. Johnny felt the white hot pain in his upper left side under his arm as he dropped to his knees.
Scott and Joe watched as Johnny twisted around and cut the mans throat. Seeing the gun come up both men fired simultaneously hitting the rurale in the chest as the pistol he held fired.. Scott immediately went to his brother.
“ Easy Johnny I got you brother………Joe help me out here.” Scott ordered as he laid his rifle down.
“ I knew you’d come for me brother…….I could feel you close……I.ugh or man it hurts Scott…..I hurt.”
“ I know you do brother……I’m gonna get you to a doctor.”
“ Ain’t no doctor Scott.”
“ He’s right Scott……The nearest doctor if that’s what you want to call him is a good fifty miles south in
Hermosillo.” Joe said as he undid the cap on a canteen and held it to Johnny’s mouth. “ Just a little at a time.”
“ Go bring the horses here…….we need to get out of here in case there are any other rurales around that may have heard those shots.” Scott said. “ Johnny can you ride?”
“ Yeah, just help me up.” he said after drinking some water.
Scott looked at his brothers back and arm. The blood under his arm he thought was from the wound in the arm it’s self. He didn’t realize his brother was hit when the rurales pistol went off.
Joe came back leading the horses and dropped the reins to all but Barranca. Leading the horse over it took both men to get Johnny up in the saddle.
“ I know a place about ten miles from here we can take Johnny too and get him some help.”
“ A doctor?” Scott asked as he got on his horse.
“ No…..a mission. They will help us. The padre there knows me.” Joe said as he turned his horse. “ Can you make it that far Johnny?”
“ Barranca will get me there.” he said as he grabbed the saddle horn and held on as the horses moved out.
Exhausted and fighting to stay conscious Johnny slumped forward in the saddle, raising back up a wave of dizziness came over him and he swayed from side to side. Barranca felt the difference in his masters weight and stopped.
“ I gotta stop Scott.” he said breathlessly as he went to dismount but loss of blood made him dizzy again and he lost consciousness and fell to the ground.
“Johnny.” Scott yelled as he got down and hurried to his brothers side. It was then he noticed the new gunshot wound under his brothers left arm. “ Damn it little brother.” Scott said angrily as he pulled the shirt up so he could check the wound.
“ How bad is it?” Joe asked.
“ Looks like the bullet grazed him. It’s deep and will need stitches to stop the bleeding.”
“ Why didn’t he say anything Scott?”
“ Because, my little brother is too proud too let someone know he’s hurt………I thought the blood was from his arm. In my saddlebags you will find some bandages. We need to wrap this to slow the bleeding down.”
Joe went and got the bandages and thirty minutes later Scott had his brother on his horse in front of him. Barranca came up and nudged Johnny’s leg. “ I know buddy……..he’s gonna be okay. Joe take Barranca’ reins.” Scott said. He could feel a fever had taken hold of his brother and silently prayed Johnny had the strength and will too fight and survive.
For four long agonizing days Scott sat with his brother taking care of his injuries and the fever that ravaged his weakened body. Joe came into the room and looked at his cousin laying on the cot fighting to stay alive.
“ The Padre would like a word with you……..I’ll stay with him.” he said.
Scott looked up at him then back down at his little brother. “ I think his fever has broke.” he said standing up and stretching his sore back. “ Come get me if he wakes up.”
“ I will.” Joe said as he took up the chair Scott vacated.
Scott walked into what was the kitchen of the small mission they had brought Johnny too. He found the Padre stirring a pot of food. The smell made his stomach rumble. Refusing to leave his brother’ side but for short periods he remembered he had not eatin much in the four days they had been here.
“ Sit……I have a nice rabbit stew here for you to eat. Joseph trapped one this morning.” the Padre said as he dished some out into a bowl.
“ Thank you.” Scott said as he sat down at the table. “ I want to thank you for all you have done for my brother.”
“Your hermano…….he is strong, he will pull through this.”
“ Yeah, Johnny does have a knack for surviving.”
“ Joseph has told me a little about you. I am glad that Juanito has a big brother now. Someone to take care of him.”
“ How do you know my brother?” Scott asked as he started to eat the stew.
“ Some bandito’s were here pillaging the mission and your brother came along and stopped them. The Padre who at that time they had shot down. I was trying to reason with them and try and keep the children safe when he rode in. They didn’t hear him ride up and when one of the men started shooting at my feet trying to scare me, your brother spoke up. He asked the man if he wanted to shoot at someone who could shoot back. When the men turned around and seen who it was asking this, I could see the color drain from this mans face. Your brother got off his horse and just stood there. I thought to myself, I am going to watch this young boy with the heart of a lion die at the hands of these three men.”
“But he didn’t. Did they know who he was?”
“ Yes, I think they thought because there were three of them that they could take him. I have seen much death in my time, but that day…….that day I watched a boy no more than fifteen kill those three men with such speed and grace that I couldn’t help but think he was sent to help me by the lord himself. He never received a scratch and just stood there. I think what I will remember the most is his eyes.”
“ His eyes?…….What about them?”
“ They were as cold as ice when he was facing down those three men but after……..after those same eyes were pleading for forgiveness. What I seen in those eyes when he went to leave was a child lost. A child who had to become a man way before he should have.”
“ You seem to be good at reading my brother Padre.”
“ Scott…….Johnny’s coming too.” Joe said upon entering the kitchen.
Scott got up and hurried to his brothers side. “ Johnny can you hear me?”
Johnny felt pain all over. Hearing his brothers voice he opened his eyes and looked into his brothers.
“ Hey, just takin a little siesta was all.”
“ Yeah, here drink this.” Scott said as he held a cup of water up for his brother.
Johnny drank the water eagerly. “Thanks.” he said softly. “ Where are we?”
“ A mission Joe knew about.”
“ Mission?” Johnny asked as he tried to sit up.”
“ Easy brother. You got stitches in your side and arm. You go moving around to much and you will get your back bleeding again.”
“ It is good to see you awake Juanito.” the Padre said as he stepped over closer to the bed.
Johnny looked to the voice and couldn’t help but stare. Memories came rushing back of that day seven years ago. “ Hey, guess it’s your turn to be saving me.” Johnny said more than asked.
“ So it seems……..It pleases me to know that the rumors are not true. That you are still alive Madrid.”
Johnny looked at his brother and couldn’t help but wonder if Scott had told the Padre his real last name was Lancer. Down here he was known as Madrid only and wanted to keep it that way.
“ I need to get out of here…….Mendoza finds out you helped me you know what he will do.” Johnny said as he tried to get out of bed.
“ I’m afraid you’re not going anywhere just yet little brother. You lost to much blood and need to heal up and get your strength back before you’re able to ride.” Scott said firmly.
“ I have to Scott……..Mendoza is probably looking for me right now. If he finds us here he will kill anyone around………I have to get out.”
“ I’m afraid he’s right. Senor Mendoza is a brutal animal and does not take kindly to losing a prisoner.”
“ So where do we go Johnny?” Scott asked with concern in his voice.
“ There’s a lot of open country north across the border, but I’m not leaving Mexico until Mendoza is dead.” Johnny stated firmly as pain throbbed through his back.
“ What are you saying brother?”
“ I’m saying that until I’m well enough we’re gonna stay low. I know Mendoza Scott and he has probably put the word out about me along the border and you know what that means?” Johnny stated.
Three weeks Johnny, Scott and Joe stayed away from the rurales. Heading farther south into Mexico Johnny knew Mendoza wouldn’t be looking for him in Barranca Del Cobre. Scott looked across the fire at his brother. He could tell he had something weighing heavy on his mind, and it wasn’t Mendoza.
“ You’re awful quiet tonight brother……..what’s got you so deep in thought?” he asked.
Johnny looked across at him. “ Lancer.” he said flatly.
Scott raised a brow. “ Lancer, what about it?”
“ It’s my birthright Scott. Why should I let that old man run me away from what is rightfully mine, and yours?……..I’m going back. I have a contract with the army. I gave my word on providing them with horses when I signed that contract. I’m a man of my word brother.”
“ Okay, I’m all for that Johnny, but you know Murdoch and you will still argue…………”
“ Not if I don’t stay at the house. Lancer is a big ranch. There is nothing in that contract that stipulates I have to live at that house, you neither for that matter. It just states that we are third owners of that ranch and he calls the tune and makes the final decisions concerning Lancer.”
“ Yes……….what are you getting at brother?”
“ Just this…….From Black Mesa to Cedar Canyon, that’s where most of the mustangs run. That land has water year around and good graze. That is where I’m gonna build my house and start the Double L.”
“ The Double L Johnny?” Joe asked.
“ Yeah, there are two Lancer son’s unless the old man has another one running around we don’t know about.”
“ Johnny, I’m all for it but do you really expect our father to allow you to do this?”
“ He ain’t got no choice brother. I’m tired of doing without Scott.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ We leave for Nogales in the morning.” he said before turning and walking off into the darkness.
“ Scott……..Johnny’s gonna make himself bait isn’t he to draw Mendoza out?”
“ Yes Joe, I believe so. Nogales is where it will happen. Unless we run into Mendoza before then but something tells me that my little brother has a plan in store and hopefully will let us in on it before then.”
Murdoch sat at his desk, numb. A piece of paper lay limply in his hands. The word’s ‘dead ‘ and ‘Rirales’
kept running through his mind.
My name is Alan Carter, I am the man who found your youngest son Johnny in Mexico for you just over three years ago. I regret to inform you sir, but your son Johnny was shot down by the Mexican Rurales in in a canyon outside Aconchi canyon. Word has it that Madrid was ambushed as he rode through this canyon. I inquired around and I’m sorry to tell you but I was unable to locate Madrid’ body or site of the grave. I went to the site of said ambush and found no grave in immediate vicinity. I truly am sorry to have to be the one telling you this.
Alan Carter Pinkerton.
No body or grave site….alone. No man should die alone. Where was Scott? Did he not find his brother or was he also killed by the rurales just for being with Madrid? Madrid had gotten both his boys killed. Those words he had said to his oldest on the day Scott rode out after Johnny. Now those hateful words came back to haunt him and would do so till his dying day. Murdoch had a lot of anger inside but more than that he had pain,…Pain in his heart. The last three years had been an up and down experience for him and Johnny getting to know each other. Some times were good and others rough. Murdoch knew now just how bad he had been toward his youngest, not letting the boy’s past be and accepting him for who he was, both Madrid and Lancer. Now though, now he would never get the chance to see or talk to his son again. To tell him that he is proud of him, proud of the man he became, proud to call him his son. But more importantly, he would never get the chance to mean those words.
Johnny stopped Barranca a couple miles out of Nogales and got down.
“ Something wrong brother?” Scott asked as he and Joe reined in.
Johnny loosened his cinch and led Barranca over to get a drink from the small stream. “ No, I want the two of you to ride on ahead. Go on into Nogales without me. I’ll follow.”
“ Why?” Scott asked.
“ Because if there are rurales in town you can ride back and let me know. I don’t want to ride into a trap set by Mendoza. He’s a shoot first, ask questions later puta.” Johnny said with vehemency at the end.
“ You seem to forget brother. Mendoza knows us. He seen both me and Joe and if we ride in there he’s gonna know you are around.”
“ Maybe…maybe not Scott. It’s me he wants not you two.”
“ How do you know he isn’t gonna think it was us that got you free?” Joe asked.
“ Look……I don’t want the three of us riding into town together. Spread apart is better. You was in the army brother……you know that the element of surprise what wins a war.”
“ This isn’t a war Johnny……..It’s suicide brother.”
Johnny let his anger surface. “ Fine, then you two ride in after me.” he said with anger as he tightened his cinch back up and swung into the saddle.
“ Brother….I know you want this to end with this man but……….”
“ Mendoza ain’t no man Scott…….I told ya he’s an animal of the worst kind……..Give me ten minutes then ride in. Meet me in the cantina at the end of town. Keep your eyes peeled but ride in normal.”
Johnny said before spurring Barranca away.
Scott looked at Joe and shook his head. “ We are going to have a serious talk with him when this is over.”
“ What if someone else see’s him and calls Madrid out? What then?”
Scott sighed. “ I don’t think Johnny gave that any thought.”
Johnny walked Barranca slowly through town. His eyes scanned every building, window and roof top for any sign of Mendoza or his men. Reining his horse up in front of the cantina at the end of town he got down slowly. His back was still healing and his side ached also from the bullet hole. Tying off Barranca he pulled his rifle from the scabbard and stepped up onto the wood plank walkway. An old timer sat basking in the cool morning sun. Johnny gave a quick nod. “ Rurales como esta?”
The old timer looked him up and down then shook his head no..
“ Gracia’s.” Johnny said as he took out a dollar and gave it to the man. “ Gracia’s amigo.”
“ Denada senor Madrid.”
“ You know me?” he asked glancing around.
“ Si…….I know you. I know you help men like me in the villages.”
“ Algunos no estan de acuerdo con usted acerca de que.” ( some would disagree with you about that )
“ No lo creo bajo de ti mismo Juanito. Usted ha hecho mas bien qu lo sabes.” ( do not think so low of yourself Juanito. You have done more good than you know )
“Todo lo que hice fue hacer que los hombres inocentes asesinados.” ( all I did was get innocent men killed ) Johnny said with a sigh as he sat down next to the old timer.
“ Eso no es cierto. Se les dio esperanza. Se les mostro que si un hombre puede levantarse contra los rurales por si solas, cualquier hombre puede hacerlo. Se les dio una razon para luchar. Se les recuerda a los viejos tiempos antes de los rurales.” ( That is not true. You gave them hope. You showed them that if one man can stand against the rurales alone, then any man can do so. You gave them a reason to fight. You reminded them of the old days before the rurales.)
“ Sonora, Usted y su familia tienen una pequena granja fuera de la ciudad. Su esposa y su hio como estan?”(sonora, you and your family have a small farm outside of town.Your wife and son how are they?)
Johnny watched as the old mans face got suddenly sad.
“ Estan muertos para mi el castigo de Mendoza se le nego tomo todo lo que tenia.” ( they are dead. Mendoza’ punishment for me denying him. He took all I owned)
“ Lo siento.” ( I’m sorry ) Johnny said with sadness in his voice and anger in his heart.
“Mendoza ha puesto un precio muy alto sobre su cabeza. Estuva aqui hace dos dias diciendo qu el quria rurales Johnny Madrid muertos y pagaria dos mil dolares por you. He tambien advirtio que cualquiera que ayudar lo que pagaria con su vida…………Usted lo va a matar si?” ( he has put a very high price on your head. He was here two days ago telling that the rurales wanted Johnny Madrid dead and would pay two thousand dollars for you. He also warned that anyone helping you would pay with their life. You will kill him yes?)
“ Si.” ( yes)
“ Vaya con dios Juanito. Usted es un verdadero angel.” ( go with god Juanito. You are a true angel) the old timer said before standing and walking away.
Johnny watched the old man walk away as he sat there. “ You time is short Mendoza…….I will kill you.” he said as he stood up and headed into the cantina. The inside wasn’t much to look at but years of experience Johnny had learned the best food came from places that didn’t look that good from the outside. Only a few men were inside, mostly vaquero’s engaging in conversations. Making his way over to a table in the corner Johnny noticed two men sitting at a table across the room by the kitchen. The one was dressed all in black and had his head down reading a book. The other man was younger but a couple years older than him. Sitting down with his back to the wall and facing the door, he removed his hat as a Mexican woman walked over to his table.
“Ah, senor, que puedo obtener?” ( ah senor what can I get you?)
“ Tequila…y algunos tamales y friojoles por favor.” ( tequila and some tamales and beans please.)
“ Ah bueno. Voy a estarde regreso con su yequila.” ( ah good I will be right back with your tequila)
“ Gracias.” ( thank you)
When the woman came back with the bottle Johnny handed her a dollar. “ Los dos gringos sentado alli. Darles lo que estan bebiendo en mi por favor?” ( the two gringos sitting over there. Give them whatever they are drinking on me please)
“ Si senor, right away.” ( yes senor. Right away) the woman said as she hurried away.
Johnny sat and watched as the woman took two shots of whiskey too the two men and he could tell when she looked his way she was telling who bought them. Picking up his shot he made a salute before downing the shot as the two men looked at him. Leaning his chair back on two legs Johnny pushed his hat back to hand from the stampede string around his neck.
“ Isham.” he said calmly as the two men walked over to his table.
“ Johnny boy……I heard you was dead.” Isham said.
Johnny brought the chair back down on all four legs. “ Yeah…….heard that too.” he said.
“ I hear you been out of the game awhile Madrid.” Sexton Joe said as he glared at Johnny. “ I heard you ain’t got the stomach for it no more. That you’re not as fast as you was.”
“ I’m still alive so I guess you heard wrong Sexton.”
Isham and Johnny had rode together for two years and became friends in that time. Hiring out together and covering each others backs. Sexton Joe Hughes was a man like no other. He was only hired if killing was a definite. A man like him did not come cheap. Johnny couldn’t help but wonder why the man was in a town like Nogales.
“ Thought you only worked on the other side of the border?” Johnny asked.
“ A job came up here…..a real good payin’ job.” Sexton Joe said as he glared at Madrid.
“ Yeah money ‘ell do that……..sit down.” Johnny said never taking his eyes off the man.
“ What you doin here Johnny?” Isham asked.
“ Just passin through.” Johnny said.
Sexton Joe reached in his pocket and took out a coin and tossed it on the table. “ I buy my own drinks… and I’m real particular who I drink with.” he said with coldness before turning and walking back to his table.
“ Don’t pay him no mind Johnny….It’s good too see……….. you still alive.” Isham said before turning and walking away.
The way Isham said * still alive * made Madrid’ senses go on full alert. Standing up he laid some money on the table and gave a quick nod to the senorita and left. He could feel Sexton Joe’ eyes on him when he walked out the door. Looking up the street he could see his brother and cousin riding up the street. Stepping down to Barranca he undid the rein and turned the horse and started walking away from the cantina. His whole body on alert now he motioned for his brother to stop as he did the same. Barranca moved around to his right.
Scott and Joe rode as casual as possible into Nogales. Both men’ eyes were on full alert. Scott seen his brother walk out of the cantina and start walking his horse toward them then stop. The motion his brother gave with his hand was unseen by others but Scott seen it and reined his horse to a stop.
“ Something is wrong.” he told Joe softly as he watched his brother. Behind Johnny Scott watched two men walk out of the cantina and stop. He noticed how one was dressed in all black but what he noticed more was the gun at the mans hip. He had learned from his brother the past three years together that the way a man wore his gun spoke a lot about what kind of man he was. This man was trouble, a gunfighter as was the one standing next to him. Reining his mount to his left followed by Joe Scott got down and stepped to the back of his horse. Joe did the same.
“ Whats going on?” Joe asked.
“ A dance.” was all Scott could say before he heard his brother called out by the man standing behind him.
“ MADRID…….JOHNNY MADRID!” the man in black called.
Johnny sighed, he knew something was wrong. His instincts told him so and he had learned a long time ago to listen to them if he wanted to stay alive. Throwing the rein over Barranca’ neck he pushed the stallion away. “ Go on boy.” he said swatting the horse. Barranca trotted over to where Scott and Joe watched. Turning around Johnny faced his friend and a man he despised.
“ What you want Sexton?” he asked.
“You asked what I was doin below the border and I told you money brought me down here………well I thought I’d tell you that money is * You Madrid * .” Sexton Joe said as he stepped down into the street followed by Isham. “ it seems that the rurales want you dead and are willin ta pay two thousand dollars for your sorry hide.”
Johnny took a small step forward. “ You part of this Isham?”
“ Sorry Johnny boy……..nothin personal…just business.” Isham said as he took stance to the left of Sexton Joe.
“ Why……..we was friends Isham….I mean……..”
“ Yeah we was…..but two thousand dollars well that will buy a lot of things Madrid.” Isham said.
“ You can’t take me.” Johnny said firmly.
“ You’ve been out of the game for a long time Johnny boy…….Me and Sexton Joe here we know * we * can take you.”
“ Walk away from this Isham…..walk away and forget about it……all you’ll get is dead.”
“ Can’t.” Isham said.
“ Why?” Johnny asked one last time.
“Call it good at my trade. You know that in this business Johnny a gunfighter don’t have no friends. Not real ones anyways.”
Johnny knew there was no talking his once friend out of this. He knew his brother was behind him to his left along with Joe. Hearing several horses coming into town Johnny couldn’t afford to see who it was but his gut told him. The old timer confirmed by telling him.
“ Madrid…Rurales.” the old timer said
Scott and Joe turned and could see Mendoza with seven rurales at the far end of town. Grabbing his rifle from the scabbard Scott moved over so he was standing in a narrow alley that ran between two buildings. Joe did the same.
“ Mendoza…..shit brother this is turning into a really bad situation. Joe Johnny can take care of those two. You keep that rifle on Mendoza and his men.”
I got ‘im Scott.” Joe said as he chambered a round into his rifle.
Scott did the same. “ I don’t think Mendoza seen us so that may give us an edge……….No matter what we cover Johnny understand?”
“ Yeah.” Joe said firmly. “ I don’t intend on losing my cousin to that swine.”
Mendoza couldn’t believe his luck. Ahead of him was Madrid.
“ El teniente tener tres hombres y dar la vuelta y entrar por el otro extremo de la ciudad. He Madrid atrapado y no quiero perderlo. ( Lieutenant take three men and go around and come in from the other end of town. I have Madrid trapped and I do not wish to lose him)
“ Si el capitan, Madridista no conseguira mas alla de nosotros.” ( yes captain madrid will not get past us)
“ Ver que no tiente, porque si lo hace te voy a matar.” ( see that he doesn’t Lieutenant, because if he does I will kill you) Mendoza said with anger in his eyes as the lieutenant and three men turned their horses and rode out and around to the other end of town.
Scott watched Mendoza split his men up and knew that Johnny would be caught in a crossfire. Standing in the middle of town with nothing for cover his brother would be shot down.
“ Damn it, Johnny is a sitting duck Joe. Mendoza just split his men up to come around to the other end. I am going to move up easy like to not distract Johnny so I can give him cover.” Scott said as he stepped out from the alley.
“ Be careful Scott.” Joe said as he moved to take up the spot Scott just vacated.
“ Enough talk Madrid……unless you’re a coward it’s time for you to die.” sexton Joe said flatly.
“ Oh Johnny boy he don’t start no dance. Never has.” Isham said.
Johnny never took his eyes off Sexton Joe Hughes. The man was more dangerous than Isham. Seeing the tall tale sign Johnny drew his colt with lightening speed and fanned the hammer back twice hitting Sexton Joe in the chest with both bullets knocking the man backwards dead before Sexton Joe could even got off a shot.
Sexton Joe went for his gun but felt two bullets slam into his chest before he could even raise his gun and fire. Madrid was the last thing he seen as he was slammed backwards to the ground with two bullet holes over his heart.
Johnny spun his gun on Isham but didn’t fire. The man was standing there staring in disbelief at Sexton Joe laying dead at his feet.
“ Drop it Isham.” Johnny ordered just as bullets began to fly from behind him. One hitting him in his right thigh and causing him to drop to the ground. Glancing at the wound he could tell it was just a graze and got up and moved to his left away from his brother who he had seen in his peripheral vision move up. What he didn’t know was Mendoza’ men had him cornered. Diving behind a water trough Johnny started reloading his gun. He could see Isham had moved to just inside the cantina with his pistol drawn. Wondering why Isham didn’t shoot him when Mendoza did had him stumped. Looking down the street he could see Mendoza working his way up across the street from him. Hearing a rifle fire three fast shots Johnny looked and could see his cousin almost across from him in a small alley. Glancing back down the street he could also see that three rurales were now dead. That left just Mendoza, or so he thought. He knew Scott had his back from his position if Isham tried to do anything.
Standing up he holstered his colt and stepped out headed toward the middle of the street.
“ Mendoza frente a mi como un hombre hijo de puta.” ( Mendoza face me like a man you bastard)
“ Sabia que no iba al otro lado de la frontera con Madrid. Sus heridas eran graves al viajar tan lejos. Es por eso que me puse una recompensa para ti.” ( I knew you did not go back across the border Madrid. Your wounds they were too serious to ride that far. That is why I put out a bounty for you)
“ Eso hi oido. Lastima que no va a vivir a pagar si se.” ( So I heard. Too bad you won’t live to pay it though) Johnny said with words colder than ice.
“Ah, pero usted debe saber generodidad ha sido enviada a traves de la frontera. Usted ve, incluso si te ves de aque usted no, usted sera un hombre buscado en ambos lados de la frontera.” ( Oh but you should know that that bounty has been sent across the border as well. You see even if you do get away from here, which you will not, you will be a wanted man on both sides of the border)
“ Crees que me voy a dejar que me molesta pensar de nuevo.” ( you think I’m gonna let that bother me think again)
Mendoza stepped out to the middle of the street to face Madrid. He knew he still had three men behind Madrid to back him up.
“ I see you have that swine cousin still with you….He will pay as will his father for helping you escape me before and helping you now.” Mendoza said with as much coldness as Madrid had. Seeing his Lieutenant on the roof of the cantina and his other three men on both sides of the cantina Mendoza smiled.
“ Give up your weapon Madrid. You cannot escape from me. You and your cousin will both die.”
Johnny listened to Mendoza as he spoke of only the two of them. ‘He doesn’t know about you brother’ Johnny thought to himself.
Joe listened but didn’t move. What his father did selling out his own nephew for his ranch should never have happened. He would never understand how his father could place the ranch and horses over Johnny’s life. For that matter how could Johnny’s own father do the same thing with Lancer?
“Tell ya what, why don’t you come over here and try and take my gun from me?” Johnny said with such coldness he could see it had the effect he intended on Mendoza. The man made the mistake and went for his gun. Johnny drew his colt but was slammed to the ground hard from behind as he drew and fired. His bullet missed it’s mark and Mendoza took aim and fired. Johnny felt the bullet wiz past his head. Taking aim again he fanned the colt and this time his bullet found it’s mark and dropped the captain dead in the street. With his left arm useless Johnny did the best he could to get to cover. Hearing two rifles going off Johnny looked and seen his brother shooting at rurales who had come up behind him. Noticing movement on the roof Johnny took aim but missed as a rurale aimed at his brother. Standing up Johnny continued to fire at the man on the roof keeping him pinned down, that is until his gun was empty.
“ Scott.” he yelled as he watched his brother take a bullet. “ Joe…Joe Scott’ hit!” Johnny yelled as he made his way to his brother laying on the ground. A red stain was spreading across his left shoulder.
Joe came running over as Johnny reached his brother and picked up the rifle. Firing as fast as he could the Rurale finally tumbled over the side to the ground below. Johnny dropped next to his brother and pressed his hand on the wound.
“ Find something to stop the bleeding Joe now…….we gotta get out of here before more Rurales show up.”
“ What about you Johnny?” Joe asked with concern.
“ I’m fine, get the horses….Come on Boston don’t you leave me brother!” he pleaded as he tied a shirt around his brothers shoulder the best he could. His left arm was useless and every time he moved a stabbing white hot pain erupted in his back.
Scott started moaning and opened his eyes. “ Hey brother.”
“ Hey yourself….we gotta go Scott. Can you ride?”
“ Yeah……..help me up.” Scott said as he went to stand.
“ Take it easy….I got ya.”
Joe brought the horses over and helped get Scott mounted. Right now Johnny only cared about getting his brother out of there and now. Mounting up Joe held on to Scott for support as Johnny went to mount up.
“Madrid” Isham called out just before he fired his pistol hitting Johnny in his upper right arm.
Johnny stopped and turned around and grabbed for his gun. With his right arm hit his draw was slow. Just as he was going to dive to his left a shot rang out and Isham fell dead from a bullet to his chest. Looking around Johnny seen it was Joe who fired and killed the man.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he struggled to mount up.
Joe knew he had his hands full what with Scott with a bullet in his shoulder and Johnny with at least two bullets in him.
Scott leaned forward a little as his brother came up and took hold of his right shoulder to try and steady him. Looking over at his brother he noticed the blood on Johnny’s right arm.
“ How bad?” Scott asked.
Johnny looked at him. “ I’ve had worse.”
“ How bad brother?” he asked again with more firmness.
“ Bullets still in there. I’ll live Scott…….I need to get you too a doctor.”
“ How many and don’t lie to me Johnny, how many times were you hit?”
“ I’ve never lied to you before brother………I’m not about to start now…….three.”
Scott stopped his horse. “ Joe stop.” he could see the graze in his brothers thigh and right arm but were was the third bullet? “ Were at brother?………I see the pain in your eyes Johnny……were is the third bullet?” Scott asked with concern.
“ In my back…..left shoulder.”
Scott reached out with his right hand and could feel Johnny’s coat was wet. Taking his hand away he looked at it and it was covered in blood. “ Jesus Johnny…….can you use your arm at all?”
“ Can’t feel it.”
“ Joe we need a doctor….where is the nearest one?”
“ Nearest one is across the border Scott……ain’t no doctors around here.” Joe said.
“ Where across the border?”
“Tucson.” Johnny said.
“ How far is Tucson?” Scott asked with deep concern for his brother. Hie own wound forgotten.
“ About a hundred miles……let’s get across the border and away from the rurales and worry about it then, okay?” Johnny said as he started Barranca moving again. Every step his horse took jarred him and his back and side felt nothing but sharp pain.
“ There’s a doctor in Bisbee now Johnny and that’s a lot closer than Tucson.”
“ Too close to the border cousin.”
“ Johnny you and Scott won’t make it to Tucson, especially you with three bullets in you.”
“ I only have two bullets in me……….I’ll make it. If you can ride brother we’ll make the border in a couple hours and cross over in the dark. I know a trail that the rurales don’t know about. It’s thick scrub brush and thorns but we can use it.”
“ Just don’t you go passing out on me brother and fall off that damn horse.” Scott said as he tried to give a serious painless look to his brother.
About midnight Johnny couldn’t go any farther. The pain was to great in his back and his left arm was dead weight now, no feeling in his fingers or hand at all. The three had crossed the border six hours before and he kept them going well into the Sierrita Mountains. Now though the pain was no longer bearable. Looking over at his brother he could see he was struggling to stay conscious. Stopping Barranca he went to get down and a wave of dizziness washed over him and he passed out cold and hit the ground hard.
“ Johnny.” Joe called out as he reined his horse in and jumped down. Hurrying to his cousins side he could see Johnny had lost way to much blood and wouldn’t be able to go any farther.
“ Scott, he’s out cold. His back is soaked with blood. We need to stop the bleeding.”
Scott slipped down from his saddle and pressed his head into his horses neck trying to stave off a wave of dizziness. Slowly making his way to his fallen brother he knelt down and could feel the heat coming from his brothers back before he even touched the wound.
“ Get a fire going Joe…….and get the bottle of tequila out of my brothers saddlebags I know he has one.”
“ Okay Scott.” Joe said before hurrying off. He came back with a couple of shirts and the bottle of tequila and handed them to Scott before setting about getting a fire going.
Scott grimaced at the wound in his brothers back. It bore angry red and puss was already oozing from it. Pressing down on the wound he got more of the noxious poison to come out before pouring some tequila into the wound.
Johnny jerked and moaned in pain as the liquid burned the wound. “ Oh madre de dios stop.” he begged.
“ Sorry brother but that wound is infected……I need to get the bleeding stopped.”
“ The bullet is still in there Scott.”
“ I know brother. I just don’t know how to stop the bleeding.”
“ I do.” Johnny said as he curled around and took his knife out of his boot and handed it to Scott. “ Put that in the fire and get it hot.”
“ Have to………it’s the only way to stop the bleeding so Joe can get the bullet out.”
“ Me?” Joe asked shocked.
“ Yeah you cousin. He can’t do it and I don’t have the strength too.”
“ What about the bullet in your arm?” Joe asked.
“ Help me get my coat off so you can look at it after. I want you too take care of Scott’ shoulder before though.”
“ My shoulder will keep Johnny….your arm and shoulder will not.” Scott stated firmly as he stuck the knife into the fire to get the blade hot.
“ You……you ever do this before Joe?” Johnny asked as his breathing became labored as he took his coat off.
“ Cauterize a wound……….no. I never seen it done before you did it coming back from Fort Craig after fighting that Apache.”
Scott snapped his head to Joe then looked back at his brother. “ You seem to have left something out about your trip little brother.”
“ It was nothing.” Johnny said as he wiped at the sweat on his brow.
“ Yeah it was. He fought this Apache…knife to knife and………..”
“ Joe, it was nothing really Scott.”
“ Well if it was nothing then why did you have to do this?”
“ To stop the bleeding.” Johnny said flatly with irritation in his voice as he glared at Joe for even mentioning it. He knew he would have to tell his brother about that fight now though. Moving to sit up Johnny was hit by a serious pain in his back and he dropped back down and curled up in a tight ball.
Scott knew his brother was in serious pain. Taking a hold of his left hand more for comfort. “ Just breath brother…….just breath slow and easy.” Scott said in a soft voice as he rubbed his brothers back gently. “ Joe why don’t you go ahead and take care of the horses.”
“ Sure Scott……….you just try and relax Johnny…….I’ll take care of you and Scott……I promise.” the young man said before getting up and leaving the brothers alone.
Johnny looked up at Scott. “ He’s…….he’s a good……good person Scott…….If I survive this and we get back to Lancer I want……I want to make him a partner.”
“ I know he is brother and you * will * make it back to Lancer. You know I have been thinking about what you said.” Scott stated as he tried to get his brothers mind off the pain he was having.
“ Yes….I think we should get us a lawyer.”
“ A lawyer….wh… why?” Johnny asked.
“ To draw up a contract to present to our father about what our plans are. If he does not agree to it then * we * can take him to court.”Scott said.
“ And he’ll bring up my past and say I’m not reliable or responsible Scott…….hell he’s always sayin that to me.”
“ You are reliable * and * responsible Johnny…..You did more work on that ranch than I did or any other hand the three years you were there. I want you to make me a promise right here brother.”
“ A promise huh…….and just what would that promise be?”
“ To never say that again about yourself.”
Johnny just looked at his brother and smiled. “ I can do that….but I’m not the one who is always saying it.”
“ I know and * that * little brother is going to stop.”
“You ready to do this?” Scott asked as he moved behind his brother to help him sit up.
“ No…….but it’s gotta be done.” Johnny said as he fought the pain to sit up.
“ Joe get the knife…….Johnny I want you to turn onto your right side and lean into me.”
“ You want something to bite down on Johnny while I do this?” Joe asked as he came over. The knife’ blade was red hot.
“ No..just do it…..hold it on there for a few seconds.” Johnny said as he turned into his brothers chest. He knew what was coming having had to do it himself before and have his father do it to him.
Joe put the knife close to the wound and looked at Scott who nodded his head. Touching the blade to the wound the smell of burning flesh soon filled his nose.
Scott held as tight as he could to his brother as he jerked into him as the knife left it’s mark. “ Easy brother…..I got you. It’s almost over.” he said as comfort as he held onto his brother the best he could.
Johnny felt the knife touch the wound and wanted to scream as the red hot blade burned into his flesh. Tears welled up in his eyes as he clenched his jaw trying to stifle a scream. Grabbing a fist full of his brothers coat Johnny prayed darkness would claim him from the pain but it wasn’t to be. No longer able to tolerate the pain any longer Johnny let out a scream just before Joe removed the knife. Gasping for air as the pain shot through his shoulder Johnny buried his face in his brothers right shoulder as tears fell down his face.
“ Get the tequila Joe and pour some on the wound.” Scott ordered as he wrapped his arms around his brother ignoring the pain in his left shoulder. “ I got you Johnny……it’s going to be alright.” he said.
“ Lo siento hermano.” Johnny said before darkness finally claimed him.
“ He’s passed out Scott.”
“ Yeah, help me lay him down so we can wrap the wound up to keep it clean.”
“ Okay. I need to take care of your shoulder too Scott.”
“ After.” Scott said as he laid his brother down and took the bandages from Joe.
An hour later Scott sat leaned back against a downed tree as Joe wrapped his shoulder up.
“ You both need a doctor.” he said with concern in his voice.
Scott looked at his brother. “ Yeah…..how far you figure we are from Tucson?”
“ Days ride maybe more.” We’ll rest up a day and see if my brother is up to that ride.”
“ Okay…Scott that bullet……is it gonna cause Johnny ta not be able ta use his arm ever again?”
“ I don’t know…..I hope not.”
“ You get some rest I’ll keep watch.”
“ Thanks.” Scott said as he moved over to his bedroll after checking his brother for fever. “ Wake me if his fever gets worse.”
“ I will.” Joe said as he went about preparing something to eat.
Three days later the boys rode into Tucson and located the doctors house at the south end next to the livery. Johnny slid from his horse and looked around.
“ You gonna make it brother?” Scott asked as he stepped around his horse to his brother.
“ Yeah……..just looking.”
“ Come on lets get that bullet out of your shoulder.
Four hours later Scott stood next to the bed his brother now lay in. “ Will his arm be alright doc?”
“ It should with rest……mind if I ask what happened to this boy? He has scars all over his back and some of them are fresh and still healing.”
“ Lets just say we had some trouble in Mexico.”
“ Trouble huh……well he needs rest right now and so do you….Why don’t you come into the next room and let me check your wound?”
“ Thank you doctor…….I wish I could tell you more about my brother and what happened but I can’t.”
“ You boys wanted by the law?”
“ No sir.” Scott said as he followed the doctor into the other room.
Thirty minutes later the doctor finished re-bandaging Scott’ shoulder and had him resting comfortably.
“ I have some rounds to do. I should be back in a couple hours.”
“ Thank you doctor…..for everything you have done for my brother.” Scott said before closing his eyes.
Sheriff Jim Barker was sitting at his desk when his door opened and the doctor walked in.
“ Slim. How you doin this afternoon?” the sheriff asked.
“ Well considerin a few hours ago I had three men come into my office and two of them have been shot, one badly and beaten, I’d say I’m alright.”
“What’s this about three men?” the sheriff asked as he stood up.
“You heard me right, and I think the one who had a bullet in his back is Johnny Madrid.”
“ Madrid…….you sure Slim?”
“ Yeah I’m sure……I seen him gun a man down in the street here a few years ago when you was a deputy remember?”
“ How bad’s he hurt Slim?”
“ He has a graze on his left thigh, a bullet hole in his upper right arm but it’s the wound in his back Jim.”
“ What about it?”
“ It’s been cauterized…….from what one of them said these wounds happened several days ago. His left arm was totally useless……may still be……..one other thing sheriff.”
“ What’s that?”
“ Madrid’s been beaten…..and I mean beaten…whipped I’d say and drug.”
“Drug……..you mean behind a horse drug Slim?”
The doctor nodded his head. “ That boy has a lot of scars on his body and I’d be willin ta bet he ain’t no older than twenty two or so.”
“ Yeah I heard stories about Madrid and how he grew up along the border towns. When will he be awake?”
“ Not till mornin some time……I knocked him out to remove that bullet.”
“ You said three men……..what condition were the other two in?”
“ The older one had a bullet hole in his shoulder. I cleaned and redressed it. The third one is okay, he didn’t have a scratch on him.”
“ Alright, I’ll be by first thing in the morning. You holler if ya need me or Carl ya hear?”
“ I will….Jim I don’t think Madrid is dangerous. Right now if anything he’s the one * in * danger.”
“ Keep this between us that he’s here okay……I don’t need no gun play in my town if I can help it.”
Scott woke up at dawn and slowly got out of bed. Joe had stayed with Johnny all night. Walking across the hall too the room his brother was in he opened the door and found a pair of blue eyes looking back at him.
“ Hey yourself brother…..How you feeling?”
“ Alright I guess……How long I been out?”
“ Since yesterday morning.”
“ Doc ask any questions?”
“ Just wanted to know if we were wanted…….I told him that we were not and the less he knew the better.”
Johnny cocked a brow. “ How’s your shoulder?”
“ It’s fine. He cleaned it up and changed the bandage…..you have any feeling in your left arm yet?”
“ Some, still feels like dead weight though.”
“ It will for some time young man.” the doctor said as he walked in.
“ Hey doc…..thanks for all you did for me.”
“ You’re welcome…now how about I check that wound, you think you can sit up? It would make it a lot easier for this ol’ saw bones.”
“ Yeah I think I can.” Johnny said as he carefully pushed up with his right arm.
“ Good, lean forward a little for me.”
“ How is he doc?” a voice behind Scott asked.
“ Jim…….the wound looks good. No sign of infection…….mind if I ask who cauterized it?”
“ My cousin Joe did.” Johnny said as he leaned back against the headboard. “ Sheriff.”
“ Madrid……care to tell me what happened to you?”
“ No……just a disagreement was all sheriff.”
“ You and this one show up with bullet holes in you and the doc here says you’ve been beaten and dragged behind a horse and all you can say is it was a disagreement.”
“ That’s about it sheriff, sorry to disappoint you.”
“ How long will he be laid up doc?”
“ A couple days a least, why?”
“ Because I don’t need his kind in my town causing trouble…….I want you out of Tucson as soon as possible Madrid…….If word gets out that you’re here and wounded….. well I want you gone.”
“Don’t worry sheriff I’ll be movin on as soon as I can ride.”
“ See that you do…..I want you and the other one too stay out of sight as much as possible too.” the sheriff ordered looking directly at Scott.
“ Why?…….We have done nothing wrong.” Scott declared.
“ My town, my rules…either stay out of sight until he can ride out or get locked up. Choice is yours.”
“ Scott, It’s alright……It’s pretty clear I ain’t welcome in this town.”
“ I watched you gun a boy down in this town five years ago Madrid…..I don’t need that kind of trouble here from you again. I couldn’t bust you then because he did the calling, but I can and will now if you do cause trouble.”
“ I never call anyone out sheriff, and I don’t run from a fight either…….you might want to remember that.” Johnny said coldly.
“ You might want to rethink even considering threatening me Madrid. I’m not a man to be reckoned with………I’ll give you three days, three days and then I want your sorry ass out of my town. All three of you.”
“ Jim he won’t be ready to ride in three days.” the doc said.
“ It’s alright doc……..I’ve rode with worse injuries than a bullet in the back.” Johnny said as he nevr took his eyes off the sheriff.
Barranca walked with ease sensing his owner wasn’t quit right. Stopping at the top of the hill Johnny turned his friend and looked back down at Tucson.
“ Guess now you know what it’s like to be with a half breed gunfighter brother.”
“ That’s enough Johnny…….that sheriff running you out of town like that was wrong.” Scott said with firmness.
“ Yeah well he ain’t the first and he won’t be the last.”
“ So where we headed now Johnny?” Joe asked.
“ What’s east brother?”
“ Texas……..look Scott you and Joe might want to go back to Lancer. Me I’m going to Texas and look for work.”
“ You’re going back to hiring your gun out ain’t ya?” Joe asked.
“ If that’s what I have to do……yeah. There’s a lot of big ranches in Texas I figured I could get a job working.”
Scott stood up and looked over at his brother. “ So that’s it huh?…….you’re going to go back to that way of life?”
“ Yeah Scott I am…….Look it’s all I’m good at so you might as well face it.”
“ No it’s not Johnny.”
“ Nobody is makin you ride along brother.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ No……no they are not……You go back to living by that damn gun and you’ll be dead by the time you’re thirty.”
“ Well that’s comes to us all brother.”
“ But when you die you won’t even leave a small ripple.”
“ Is that it brother?…….I mean, the sermons over right.”
“ You’re going to throw away the best thing that ever happened to you, and all for nothing……It was nice knowing you brother. Joe I’m riding back to Lancer in the morning………I’m not going to watch my fool brother get himself killed.” Scott said with anger before walking off into the dark.
Johnny stood starring at the last spot he could see his brother before disappearing into the darkness. Dios this hurt. Why had he allowed himself to get close to his brother. Why didn’t he just stay away from that damn ranch and the man he now hated again.
The next morning Johnny led Stormy over to his brothers horse and wrapped the lead around the saddle horn.
“ What are you doing?” Scott asked with some anger in his voice.
“ I want you to have Stormy……I got Barranca, I don’t need another horse.”
That was the last straw. Scott couldn’t stop himself. “ You sonofabitch.” he yelled as he swung and hit his brother sending him backwards. “ You think you can just ride into somebodies life and then ride out like nothing happened when it gets to tough?” Scott said with anger as he grabbed Johnny and yanked him up. “ You think I don’t have feelings?……..You selfish bastard. You want to go get yourself killed fine.” he said before slugging Johnny hard again in the gut dropping him to his knees.
Johnny stumbled backwards and looked at his brother in shock. He knew he would be hurt and upset but this, this was not how he expected his brother to react at all. When Scott hit him in the gut and took the wind from him he dropped to the ground gasping for air. The look he shot Joe told him to stay out of this. This was between brothers and Johnny even though he was smaller in size and weight, knew a trick or two on fighting. Springing up he launched at his older bigger brother catching him right in the gut with his head and both men fell backwards into the fire scattering ash and burning wood. Johnny connected with Scott’ face twice before he felt himself being flipped over backwards landing hard on his back taking the wind from him once again.
Scott scrambled to his feet and took stance, ready if his brother came at him again. “ We can do this all day Johnny. Stay down.”
Johnny rolled over and got to his knees. Spitting blood and wiping his mouth. “ You think I like this?…. You think I wanted to leave Lancer?……..Hell my whole life all I wanted was a father who would accept me for who I was……All I ever will be to that man is a bastardo mestizo…..he only married my mother to save grace the almighty Lancer name.” Johnny spat before spitting more blood. “ Hell Scott I wanted a normal life…….I wanted a wife and kids and you see what that got me when I tried…….or sure I got a taste of the good life but it’s not meant to be for me……..My uncle doesn’t want me and my own father sure the hell don’t……..I made my bed when I picked up this gun and I’ll deal with it my way.”
Scott stepped over closer to his brother. “ You don’t give a damn about anyone or thing but yourself…You’re nothing but spoiled little kid in a grown mans body…..The only difference is you use that gun to get your way…….I’m sick of the bullshit Johnny……I murdered rurales for you and this is how you pay me back?”
“ I didn’t ask you to do it…….I didn’t ask you to come after me and Joe……Don’t try putting this on me brother because you’re the one who followed us.”
“ Yeah I did……..I did because I thought that just maybe I could get you to come back home.”
“ It’s not my home………he doesn’t want me there…….How many times do I have to tell you that Scott…. He cares about that damn land more than he does me.”
“ Johnny don’t do this.” Scott pleaded stepping closer. “ Come back to Lancer……We can get a lawyer and present Murdoch with an agreement on your horse ranch you wanted to start. The two of us together, half of Lancer is ours. It’s our names on that agreement with him……….It’s your birth right brother.”
Johnny turned around. He couldn’t look at his brother right now. Why?…why did he care so damn much about what he knew he would never really have.
“ I’ll make you a deal Scott.”
“ What kind of deal?”
Johnny stood there a minute looking at the ground before turning back around. “ You go back to Lancer alone and you use that fancy education of yours and find us a lawyer who don’t know Murdoch personally and have him check that agreement out……If * we * can do it then have him draw up a proposal and present it to the old mans lawyer Richardson. When he delivers it to Murdoch get ready because I promise you he will be mad. You tell him that I will be back and if he doesn’t agree to this then I’ll take what’s rightfully mine by either force or court.”
“ Johnny come back with me now……We can do this together.”
“ No Scott……..I need to stay away from him. Just for now.”
“ Johnny, don’t go back to your other life, please.”
“ There’s other ways of making a living by the gun Scott…..I promise you I’ll stay on the side of the law.”
“ You’ll keep in contact?……….let me know that you are alright?”
“ Yeah……..I’ll write to ya……if you need to get in touch with me send a telegram to San Antonio to a Jesse Parker………..she runs the bordello there. She’ll know how to get word to me.”
“ Alright.” Scott said with a smile. “You take care of yourself.” Scott said as he held out his hand.
Johnny took his brothers hand in his. “ I’m sorry Scott.”
“ Me too Johnny……..me too.” Scott said before going to his horse and mounting up. “ Joe……try and keep him out of trouble will you?”
“ I’ll do my best.” Joe said as he walked over and took Scott’ hand in his and shook it.
Murdoch walked out of the barn toward the house when he noticed a lone rider approaching leading a horse. As the rider got closer he could see it was his son. Standing there a sick feeling came over him. Did he know his brother was dead? Was he with Johnny when it happened? Questions he had put to rest now surfaced again as his oldest rode into the yard.
“ Scott.” he said walking over to him.
“ Sir.” Scott said as he got down and handed the horses off to a hand.
“ It’s good to have you home son…..come inside you look tired.”
Scott followed his father inside. Taking his gloves and hat off he sat down on the couch and leaned back.
“ Would you care for a drink?” Murdoch asked.
“ Thank you sir, yes.”
Murdoch poured two shots and walked over and handed one to Scott. “ It’s good to have you back. I’ll have Maria get a hot bath drawn for you. Why don’t you relax some before dinner?”
“ A hot bath sounds good…..We need to talk though.”
“ Son………I know about your brother.”
“ You do?”
“Yes…..a Pinkerton who worked for me when I was looking for him came upon the news and sent me a letter telling me…….telling me what happened.”
Scott sat forward. “ I’m not sure I follow you sir…….Just what happened to Johnny?” he asked wondering if something had happened to his brother since they parted.
“ Son, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this. Your brother was ambushed in Mexico by rurales two months ago.” Murdoch said as he walked over to his desk and retrieved the letter he had.
“ This is the letter I received from the Pinkerton agent…….I take it that you were not with your brother when this ambush happened?”
Scott took the letter and read it. Sitting there he couldn’t help but feel sadness for his father just a little.
For two months the man had thought his youngest was dead. Two months to maybe realize just what he had lost when Johnny rode away from Lancer. Clearing his throat Scott stood up. What he was going to tell his father he knew would be a shock to the man.
“ I need to tell you something sir.” he said walking over to the side board and pouring himself another drink. “ You might want to sit down.”
“ Alright son………but you don’t have to tell me.”
“ Yes I do sir. There seems to be a mistake.” he began. “ Johnny was taken by the rurales at his uncles place……It seems the man thought more of his ranch and horses than he did his own nephew. Bought like you do Lancer and Johnny…….We rode right into a trap. A captain Mendoza was waiting and took Johnny.” Scott said not wanting to tell his father how Mendoza had beaten his brother. “ It was me and Joe who got Johnny back sir……..My brother is alive.”
“ Texas…….he and Joe rode to Texas.”
“ To go back to living by that damn gun of his I bet.” Murdoch bellowed.
“ No sir……..Johnny gave me his word that he would not go back to living by his gun…….Why is it that all you can see in my brother is what he had to do in the past too stay alive?”
“ Because every time I turn around someone is calling him out.”
“ That is not his fault……..Johnny came here to try and put his past behind him. To live a normal life with a wife and family. Need I remind you sir that my brother has a wife and child buried here at Lancer?”
“ That will be quit enough young man.” Murdoch ordered.
“ No sir………I got something to say to you and you are going to listen to me……If you don’t then I will walk out that door and leave here and never come back………Is that what you want?”
“ Why do you always stick up for him?”
“ Because he’s my brother…….that is what brothers do………Johnny needs somebody to stand up for him. His own father will not.” Scott stated firmly. He knew this was not the way his brother wanted this presented but he could see no other way right now. “ Johnny is coming back to Lancer in a couple of months……He want’s to start a horse ranch separate from Lancer, but still on Lancer.”
“ What the devil are you talking about. I let him start his horse business and what does he do but abandon it. He’s not reliable or responsible enough to run a business.”
“ You are wrong sir….You drove Johnny away from here after his wife was murdered…..Johnny wants from Black Mesa to Cedar Canyon, thirty three thousand acres of Lancer land is his.”
“ I will not divide up what I spent a lifetime building.”
“ If you don’t agree to do this sir…..Johnny will take it. I believe my brothers words were ‘ by force or court…….He is prepared to take you to court if he has to do so.”
“ Your brother has no claim to any of this land…….He forfeited his rights when he left here. I checked with my lawyer. If one of the parties who’s name is on the deed leaves Lancer and is gone without good reason for six months then said agreement is void and deed goes back to original ownership………Me.”
“ No claim huh……..Lancer is his birthright……Johnny has every right to a third of this land you care more about more about than anything else on gods green earth……You try and deny him this and you sir will then see the man you so despise. Johnny Lancer will ride away from here and Johnny Madrid will ride back and take it”
“ He tries and I will………”
“ You will what sir?…………Have your own son gunned down?………You would rather kill your own son than give him what he is rightfully entitled too?”
“ As long as he wears that gun he is not my son.” Murdoch stammered. “ You are welcome to stay here at Lancer and be a part owner in this ranch…….Johnny is not.” he said before grabbing up his hat and walking out.
Scott stood there in shock. His brother was right. Their father cared more about this ranch than his own son. He knew he had time before his brother rode back, time to change his fathers mind. Sighing he decided a hot bath and a good nights sleep in a soft bed would be what was best right now.
Johnny and Joe rode along in silence. Johnny had hardly spoken since they had parted company with his brother. Joe knew his cousin was lost in thought and hurting inside from the betrayal he had been dealt by his own family.
“ How long till we reach San Antonio Johnny?”
“ About a week……why?”
“ Well our supplies is getting low and I could sure use the company of a woman for a bit.”
Johnny stopped Barranca. “ Yeah a good fuck and a hot meal does sound good. Sonora is about a days ride from here…….we can get both there………You any good with that?” Johnny asked indicating the pistol his cousin wore low on his hip.
“ Why you ask?”
“ Because you wear it like a gunfighter…..I know you can shoot, but are you any good with it?”
Joe got down from his horse. “ When I was a kid and I found out that my cousin was none other than the infamous Johnny Madrid I decided that I would be like you. I bought this here gun and practiced day in and day out. I know I’ll never be as fast as you Johnny but yeah…….I can use it.”
“ Show me.” Johnny said getting off his horse.
Joe slide the thong from the trigger and stepped away from his horse. Standing totally relaxed he drew and fanned the hammer hitting a Saguaro cactus dead center three times about two hundred feet away.
Johnny didn’t watch where the bullets hit so much as he watched his cousins draw. He was fast and with enough practice and training he could maybe even be faster than himself.
“ That’s pretty good shooting. Can you do it with your left hand as well?”
“ My left?”
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he reached with his left hand and took out his colt by thumb and forefinger.
“ Like this.” he said as he spun the colt around and fired three shots just above Joe’ but in a tighter circle.
“ Damn Johnny…….No I can’t. Guess I never thought about needin ta shoot left handed.”
“ Learn it…….it just might save your life some day.”
“ I will.” Joe said as he re-mounted his horse.
Johnny got back on Barranca. “ Listen…..you need to keep something in mind cousin…..If I get called out I want you to step away from me, don’t say anything or try and interfere, just step away.”
“ I know Johnny.”
“ Also Madrid don’t have no family so don’t go telling around that you and I are cousins. It could get you or both of us killed, savy?”
“ Sure Johnny I understand.” Joe said as he turned his horse.
“ There’s a small river not far from here. Should be some grass for the horses to graze and small game for supper.” Johnny stated as they rode along.
The sun setting Johnny was able to snare two sage hens for supper. Turning them over the fire slowly as he sipped on some coffee.
“ Smells good……maybe you could teach me how to snare game some time.” Joe asked as he sat down.
Johnny looked at him and smiled. “ What you think because you’re my cousin I’m gonna give away my secrets?”
“ Oh come on Johnny, it might save me from starvin ta death some time.” Joe said with a grin.
“ You don’t know the first thing about bein hungry or having to go to bed with your belly hurtin bad because you hadn’t ate in three, four days.”
“ What was she like Johnny?”
“ Who?” he asked sharply.
“ Your mother.”
Johnny stopped turning the hens and dropped back off his heels to his butt and stared at Joe across from him.
“ It’s just that my father never talked about her and I don’t even know what she looked like.”
“ She was beautiful.” Johnny began with a sigh. “ My mother was full of life. She always provided a roof over my head and food for me when we could get some.”
“ I heard some of the men say she was a……”
“ Whore?” Johnny said as he looked across the fire at him. “ Yeah she was…….at first I didn’t know why all these men were coming to our house……house hell it was more like a shack you would keep a burro in. I came home one day because it was raining and she didn’t hear me come in, hell she was to busy to hear me. Anyways I learned what she was that day and where the money came from.”
“ What about the scars you have?”
“ Well you see Joe……my mother was a right pretty fuck for men but a mestizo kid well that wasn’t a good thing. I got beat by her callers and her if I pissed her off. Bein a half breed kid growing up along the border trying to survive well you got it from both sides. Gringos hated me and when I got older Mexicans hated me and my mother for bedding a gringo.”
“ Did he throw you and your mother out?”
“ To be honest Joe, I don’t know. My mother said he did. Said he didn’t want no half breed son around.
See he met my mother in Metamoros, he’d been widowed from Scott’ mother two years and seen my mother and claims he fell in love with her. He took her to bed and got her pregnant with me. He couldn’t have the good Lancer name tarnished by no bastard kid running around so he married her and I was born six months later at Lancer.”
“ You said my father came too the two of you when you was a kid.”
“ Yeah, my mother and him argued, I don’t remember what about but she was very angry at him. I asked her who he was after he left and she told me he was just a man. I seen him the next day and he told me who he was before he rode out of town. I asked my mother about him that night and she beat me with a belt and told me to never speak of him again. She said he was just like my father and didn’t want anything to do with me.”
“ And you believed her?”
“ I was ten…two weeks later she was killed and I’ve been on my own till I came to Lancer three years ago.”
“That’s why you became a gunfighter?”
“Yeah…the man who killed my mother was my first. I seen how people treated gunfighters with what I thought at the time was respect, but it wasn’t. It was fear…..All I ever wanted to be was Johnny Madrid good at my trade.”
“And you are. You’re the fastest gun in these parts.”
“ Yeah but I got it with a price Joe…….You know what a gunfighter is?”
“Yeah he’s a man like you, good with a gun and hires out to do jobs for others.”
“ No……..we’re fallen angels sent down from above………men beyond redemption.”
“ I don’t believe that……I heard how you tried to help the little folks who were bein pushed around by the bigger ones.”
“ I’m no saint Joe…….I’ve done things in my past I’m not proud of………Don’t you ever take killin lightly……It’s not a good thing to kill a man or cause him to be killed……It can eat you up inside.”
“ That what the bad dreams you have are from?………The men you’ve killed?”
“ Some……..some memories you can’t forget………These sage hens are done, lets eat and turn in.” Johnny said. He knew he wouldn’t get much if any sleep tonight. His cousin didn’t mean no harm, but dredging up old memories he’d as soon have left buried Johnny knew would haunt his dreams tonight.
The next day the cousins rode into Sonora mid afternoon. The town wasn’t much to look at. A store, if you wanted to call it one, a livery and two saloons. Some other buildings were empty and the adobe walls were crumbling with age and weather and not being kept up. A well with a big trough sat in the middle of town with a hand pump attached. Dismounting in front of the trough Johnny slide the bit from Barranca’ mouth so he could drink.
“ We stayin the night Johnny?” Joe asked.
Johnny was looking down the street at the saloon. Outside were three horses with full tack. Looking in front of the cantina he found several more horses with cowhand gear on them. “ Yeah, we’re staying the night…….you up to an all niter with a woman?”
“ All night Johnny?”
“ Yeah all night……I’ll pay.” he said as he slid the bite back in Barranca’ mouth. “ Come on, lets get these guys settled for the night. They’ve earned a good feed and rest.”
Sitting at a table in a corner at the saloon Johnny leaned back in his chair and glanced around. Joe had gone upstairs with a girl a short time ago. The girl looked no older than seventeen maybe, too young for his liking tonight. Tonight he wanted a woman with experience, a woman who could please a man in many ways, a woman who would let him relieve the pent up frustration he had inside fucking her any way he wanted. Three women were what was left for him to choose from. One of them was heavy set, she was out. He never could bring himself to fuck a fat woman. Another he could see had teeth missing and looked like she was going on a hundred. The third one though, she was something to look at. Watching her bring drinks to the ranch hands playing poker he knew she was the one. Waiting and watching Johnny knew she would eventually come to his table. When she did he sat back right in his chair and smiled at her when she picked up his empty beer glass.
“ You been watchin me for a while now handsome…….you like what you see?” she asked.
“ Oh yeah.” Johnny said, feeling his dick start to harden. “ I’m just wondering if what I see is any good in a bed?” he asked as his eyes fell on her breast that practically fell out of her dress.
“ Only one way you’re gonna find that out………and I’m not cheap.”
“ Yeah…….how about twenty bucks.”
“ Twenty bucks huh?”she asked as she sat down next to him and started running her hand up his leg to his crouch.
“ That not enough for all night?” he asked as he sucked in a breath. She definitely knew how to use her hands.
“ All night huh…..that’s a lot of fucking.” she said as she leaned closer. “ I think I could handle that.”
Johnny closed the door to the woman’s room and locked it. When she turned around he grabbed her and pulled her into him and claimed her mouth with furry. Running his hands down her back he grabbed her ass and pulled it into his groin. Shoving his tongue into her mouth he claimed parts of it no man had ever claimed. Pressing his rock hard cock into her as he walked her backwards toward the bed.
Sally had never had a man kiss her like this one was. This one even though he appeared young in age definitely could kiss. Feeling the heat rising between her legs she reached down and was going to undo his gun belt when his strong but gentle hands stopped her. Breaking off the kiss she undid her bodice and let her breast fall free as she slid the dress down around her ankles and stepped out of it. What she felt of his hardness she could tell wasn’t something she would ever have again. Tonight she was in for the best time of her life.
Johnny undid his gun belt and laid it on the table next to the bed and undid his silver concho belt and pants. Sitting down on the bed he took his boots off then stood back up to shuck his pants. Grabbing Sally he shoved her down on the bed on her back and got on top of her, claiming her mouth again as his hands ran down and started squeezing her breast and pinching the nipples causing her to moan in his mouth as he sucked on her tongue. Moving his mouth down her neck as his tongue licked and he sucked on her ear lobe and neck leaving marks.
“ What’s your name?” he asked before claiming her right breast in his mouth with hunger.
“ Sally.” she panted as her hands ran through his dark hair and down his back. She felt the scars and couldn’t help but wonder how someone like this so young got so many scars. “ You’re hungry to fuck ain’t ya?” she asked as she arched her hips up into his hardness.
“ Been a while on the trail.” Johnny told her as he switched to sucking on her left breast and slid his right hand down between her legs causing her to moan with pleasure when he touched her wetness. Sliding two fingers inside her he pressed his thumb just above her hole and started working his hand.
“ Oh my god……..you are definitely no rookie at this……..you got a name?”
“ Johnny.” he said as he worked his hand faster feeling her muscles tighten around his fingers he knew she was going to climax soon. Stopping he rose up on his knees and straddled her stomach. His rock hard cock throbbed and jumped against her soft flat belly. Moving up a little he placed his cock between her breast and squeezed the around it as he started thrusting his hips. Taking his right hand and reaching back he started playing with her mound again.
“ Take me in your mouth.” he panted as he felt his release started to build.
Sally leaned her head forward and took his shaft into her mouth and sucked hard. Swirling her tongue around the tip as she slid him in and out of her mouth. Feeling her climax start she moaned loudly and reached down to press his hand into her more. Bucking her hips as wave after wave of pure ecstasy washed over her. Throwing her head back into the pillow completely lost in the feeling as she fucked his hand.
Johnny felt her muscles tighten and worked his fingers inside her faster as he thrust his cock in her mouth. Looking down watching it slide in and out made him even harder yet. When she stopped sucking him and threw her head back into the pillow as her climax started he stopped thrusting his hips and concentrated on working his hand inside her mound. When her juices started flowing and she became wetter he moved his hips so his throbbing cock was just above her face.
“ Finish me.” he demanded as his own release was near. “ Take me back in your mouth and finish sucking me off.”
Sally reached up and took hold of his engorged cock and swirled the tip of her tongue around his shaft before letting it slide inside her mouth again. Reaching down she rubbed and squeezed his balls until she felt them get tight. Taking him to the back of her throat she worked his balls as she felt him start to release.
Johnny grabbed her head and shoved his cock all the way in her mouth when she touched his balls. Thrusting as he held her to him he threw his head back and moaned aloud as his seed released shooting down her throat.
“ Oh yeah suck me dry whore…….suck it all.” he panted.
Sally sucked as hard as she could as his seed shot into the back of her throat. Never had she had a man be able to go so far into her mouth before. Let alone shoot his cum down her throat. Usually they could only go about halfway into her mouth, never all the way to the back. This one was very well gifted in size and length.
Johnny thrust his hips until his climax finally started to subside. When he felt himself going soft he let go over Sally’ head and flipped over onto his back on her left trying to get his breathing under control. Reaching over with his right arm he pulled her so she was laying on his chest some as he brought her mouth up to his and claimed her again. Having not had a females attention since his wife died Johnny was hungry for sex. More hungry than he had ever been before. Tasting his cum on her tongue just seemed to drive his hunger even more as he pulled her onto his chest straddling his stomach. With fire and passion he delved his tongue deep into her mouth again as he pushed her hips down onto his half hard cock. And pressed up into her wetness.
Sally was surprised when she felt him getting hard again so soon. Raising up just a little she started rubbing her mound on his shaft as her tongue swirled with his in the deepest, longest most passionate kiss she had ever had. Most men wouldn’t kiss her like this after sucking them off. This one seemed to get turned on more by the taste of his cum in her mouth. Without warning Sally climaxed again as she rubbed his cock. Pressing herself down onto his now hard shaft she worked her hips as he pressed her into him more as he thrust his hips up.
When he felt her second climax subside Johnny flipped her onto her back and moved across her to stand up. Pulling her around so her legs hung over the edge of the bed. Spreading her legs so he could slide inside her he pulled her forward.
“ You ready to be fucked like you never been before?” he asked as he guided his cock into her wetness with his right hand.
“ Oh yeah.” Sally answered.
“ Yeah……wrap your legs around me and raise up.” Johnny told her as he tried to keep from thrusting in her yet.
Sally did as he asked and couldn’t help but wonder just what he had in mind for this ride. When he reached down and put his hands under her ass and picked her up as he stood up she was surprised by the strength he had.
Johnny picked her up and held her by the waist as he started thrusting upwards into her. “ Bet you never had it like this.” he said as he thrust upwards bringing a look of surprise to her face. Smiling he took her hips and raised her up then pushed her down onto his shaft as he thrust up. Anger, hunger and passion drive him wild as he got rougher and rougher. Pain in his left shoulder only seemed to drive him on more as his cock demanded release again.
Sally put her hands on his shoulders and helped raise herself up and down as she also tried to hang on for the ride of her life. “ Jesus Christ boy……..you weren’t kidding.” she panted as she felt another climax starting. No man had ever been inside her this deep. Pain of passion ran through her body as her climax started. This wasn’t making love. This was fucking like she had never been fucked before.
Sweat ran down Johnny’s face as he felt her muscles tighten around his shaft. Dropping her to the bed he thrust hard and fast into her causing the bed to move across the floor with every thrust. Claiming her mouth again as the two of them stayed tied together like a pair of animals mating. Johnny punished her mound brutally as he slammed into her as hard as he took her right breast in his mouth and brutally sucked and bit on the nipple.
Sally gasped in pain and ecstasy when Johnny took her breast in his mouth and started biting and sucking on it. She knew she would have bruises tomorrow but right now she didn’t care. Right now all she cared about was giving and getting the best ride she had ever had.
Johnny stopped thrusting suddenly and pulled out of her. “ Turn over.” he demanded.
Sally did as he asked and wondered just what he had in mind now. She soon got her answer when his cock entered her again.
Spreading her legs Johnny slid his cock back inside her and pulled her up and back against his chest. Reaching down he started playing with her clit with his right hand as he thrust up into her hard. Taking his left hand he pulled her face around and claimed her mouth again, biting and sucking on her lips before moving to her neck and sucking it hard enough to leave a mark.
Feeling his climax finally starting he rubbed her clit faster and sucked harder on her neck. Moaning aloud as his seed spilled deep inside her as she climaxed with him heightening his even more when her muscles tightened around his shaft.
Totally exhausted Johnny dropped onto his back breathing hard and fast soaked in sweat as Sally laid down on her belly looking at him as she too tried to slow her breathing. After a couple minutes of silence she raised up and half laid on Johnny’s right side.
“ Wow……….I never figured someone so young could be like that in bed.” she said.
“ Still think I’m a boy?” Johnny asked as he ran his right hand up and down her back with the lightest of touches.
“ Think you can handle more of that all night?” Johnny asked as he felt himself starting to arouse again.
“ You can ride me like that as many times as you want lover.”
Johnny rolled onto his right side and claimed her mouth again. Tonight he wanted to fuck and tonight he had a woman who let him.
Johnny couldn’t help but notice the grin on his cousins face as they finished up breakfast.
“ I take it you had a good night?” he asked.
“ Oh yeah. The best. How about you?”
“ Same.” Johnny said as he stood and laid some money on the table. “ Lets get riding.”
Stepping out into the morning sun the hair on the back of Johnny’s neck stood on end and all his senses went on alert.
“ Move away from me Joe, now.” he demanded as he looked to his left across the street and seen why.
Joe didn’t question the order and stepped back and away to his cousins right.
“ Madrid……..Johnny Madrid!” a voice yelled from across the street.
Johnny sighed as the few people on the street hurried to take shelter inside buildings but still be able to watch what was taking place in their little town. Stepping down into the street Johnny walked calmly to the middle of the street.
“ Well well…..if it ain’t Bushrod Smith…….Kinda out of your territory ain’t ya?” he asked as he stopped walking and turned facing the man who called him out.
“ You’re a good enough reason for me to be Madrid.”
“ Dying ain’t a good reason Bushrod.”
“ I ain’t the one who’s gonna die Madrid……..you are……..Seems the Mexican army wants you dead. In fact they are willing to pay two thousand dollars for you dead.”
“ You insist on this happening and all you’ll get is a bullet.”
“ I don’t think so.” Bushrod snapped back as he went for his gun.
Johnny seen it in his eyes and drew a split second before Bushrod. Fanning the hammer back twice before the man even cleared leather. Both bullets hitting Bushrod in the heart dropping him dead.
“ Get on your horse Joe……..now.” Johnny demanded as he kept an eye out for anyone else foolish enough to try and take him. Several men with guns heard what was said about the bounty. Two thousand dollars was a small fortune to any man willing to try his luck.
Joe mounted up and brought Barranca over to Johnny keeping his pistol out and ready as he watched the group of what appeared to be cowboys just up the street from them.
Johnny swung into the saddle and touch his spurs to Barranca and took off out of town hard and fast.
After several miles at a ground eating gallop Johnny slowed Barranca down and stopped at the top of a small rise. Looking back he could see a dust cloud back toward town.
“ Damn it.” he cursed. “ We gotta ride and ride hard Joe…….Those men from town figure on tryin ta collect on that damn bounty.”
“ Which way?” Joe asked as he looked around at the hilly terrain.
“ North.” Johnny said as he again put the spurs to his stallion.
Scott checked over the mustangs still in the corrals his brother had rounded up and broke.
“ You gonna take them to Fort Bowie Scott?” the foreman Frank asked as he rode up.
“ Yes I am……..I made a promise to my brother that I would deliver them to the army for him.”
“ I know it’s none of my business Scott, but why bother?……….The contract was between Johnny and the army. Him being gone and all.”
“ You are right……..it’s not any of your business Frank………..Johnny is not gone. He will be back. He is taking care of some business in Texas is all.”
“ Then maybe you would care to explain to me why mister Lancer gave the order that if any of us seen Johnny on Lancer property we were to shoot him on sight?” Frank asked as he got off his horse.
“ Any man who follows through with that order will answer to me………is that understood?” Scott said angrily.
“ Nobody is gonna shoot Johnny Scott……..We would just like to know what the hell is going on.”
“ Let’s just say for sake of argument Frank that my brother and father are having a little disagreement and when Johnny returns it will be solved one way or another.”
“ Disagreement huh?………This have anything to do with the fact that your brother is a wanted man in Mexico Scott?”
Scott shot Frank a hard look.
“ One of the hands head about it in town last Saturday night. Said the Mexican army is offering two thousand dollars for him delivered to them dead or alive.”
“ I think you better get back to work Frank and tell the men that if any one of them even think about trying to collect on that bounty they will answer to me……….Is that clear?”
“ Sure Scott, like I said ain’t none of the men here gonna harm Johnny………We all like him and wish he would come back.” Frank stated as he got back on his horse. “ I just hope that Murdoch realizes the mistake he is making in that boy before it’s too late.” he said before riding off.
“ So do I Frank…….so do I.” Scott said as he mounted his horse and headed back to the ranch.
Two very tired horses walked into Abilene about midnight. Their riders equally tired. Stopping at the livery Johnny got off Barranca and patted the stallions neck.
“ I owe you big time amigo……..I promise to make it up to you.” he told his friend as he led him into the barn.
“ Johnny do you think it’s wise we stop here in town?……..What if someone recognizes you?” Joe asked
“ The horses need a rest. I’m not going to kill Barranca running from bounty hunters or stupid cowboys trying to become bounty hunters Joe…….A day or two’s rest will do them good after what we just put them through.”
“ Howdy….put them up for you two?” a mid-aged man asked walking out of what appeared to be his office and sleeping quarters.
“ Yeah……feed and grain them both, they earned it.” Johnny said handing the man a gold piece.
“ Your money’s no good here mister Madrid.”
Johnny looked at the man. “ Why not?” he asked dreading he would have to ride his horse more that night.
“ Because it ain’t……..you don’t remember me do you?”
“ I’m tired, I’m sorry but I don’t.”
“ Well I remember you…….you saved me and three others during a stage hold-up four years ago.”
“Ah now I remember…..Laredo, well just west of there……One of the robbers took a silver watch that was your grandfathers right?”
“ That’s right……..You let me take care of these horses for you two. They look like they’ve been rode hard.”
“ Yeah they have…….Thanks.” Johnny said as he took his saddlebags off the stallion. “ Lo siento amigo.” he said to his friend as he scratched the special spot behind the stallion’s left ear.
“ You here because of the range war brewin Johnny?”
“ No……..just ridin through……what range war?”
“ Cattlemen and them damn farmers…..oh they’re real nice people and all but they’ve been fencing off land and blocking water.”
“ Sounds pretty dumb thing to do since this is cattle country.”
“ Yeah Abilene is growin more by the week………you know we had over one hundred thousand cattle come through here last year alone to go on them there rails……..Damn trains are loud and spook the horses. We had a child run over by a wagon. The team got spooked by the damn train whistle……..There’s a nice hotel down the street called Abilene Rose, foods good and the rooms are right nice. Price ain’t to bad either and the owner….well watch yourself you two cause I hear she likes young cowboys.”
“ Abilene Rose huh…….What’s the owner look like?” Johnny asked.
“Oh you’ll see her in the saloon she has in that place…….she’s got it all in there.”
“ Okay thanks.” Johnny said as he gave Joe a smile.
“ Oh hey…..how’s the women in this town?”
“ Well that depends on what kind ya want………..if it’s a whore take your pick from the two saloons at far end of town….If you want a lady for companionship then the Abilene Rose.”
“ You know Johnny the Abilene Rose’s owner sure knows how to take care of her customers……..This is a right nice place.” Joe said as he looked around.
“ Yeah, real nice place.” Johnny said as he watched a woman across the room, clearly the owner making her way around the tables greeting each and every patron. When she looked his way Johnny smiled a little as she walked over to their table.
“ Your kind isn’t welcome here Madrid.” she said sternly.
Johnny leaned forward in his chair. “ And what kind is that ma’am?”
“ Half breed kind……..I got nothing here for you and I sure as hell am not allowing any of my ladies that work for me share time with a half breed……..Leave now or I will get the sheriff.”
“ That won’t be necessary ma’am. The livery owner said this was a real nice place here and well I thought it was too until the owner came around that is.” Johnny said as he stood up and kicked his chair back deliberately knocking it over.
“ It is a real nice place…….You’re just not welcome in it.”
Johnny walked around the table and up to Abilene Rose. “ You wouldn’t know the first thing about being a lady……..you may wear fancy dresses and own a fancy establishment but under all that bullshit you’re nothing but a whore.” Johnny said coldly before walking out. He heard Joe step out behind him.
“ You do what ya want Joe…….I’m gonna go sleep in the barn with my horse.” Johnny said as he walked away.
Two months and not a word from his brother. Scott rode to the top of the hill him and his brother so many times in the past sat upon and looked down over Lancer.
“ Where are you little brother?” Scott asked himself out loud as a lone rider could be seen riding under the Lancer arch. Sighing he could tell it was not his brother. The sun bounced off the silver star on the mans shirt. Reining Stormy around he started her down toward the ranch house. Riding Stormy help him keep a part of his brother with him at all times. The mare was learning and meager to please.
Murdoch walked out of the house when the rider approached.
“ Sheriff……What brings you all the way out here from Stockton?” Murdoch asked.
“ Murdoch……..Is Scott around” the sheriff asked as he got down.
“ No but he should be coming in for lunch. Come on in and have a drink.”
“ Thank you.”
Scott rode into the ranch yard and handed Stormy off to a vaquero. Walking into the great room he found his father and the sheriff sitting at the desk.
“ Son…….how did it go moving the heard?”
“ It went good……calves stayed pretty much at their mothers sides. They will be better with that greener grass to graze on.”
“ The sheriff here has something to tell us. He rode all the way out here from Stockton.”
“ Scott…….It’s about Johnny.”
Scott glanced at his father as he stepped over next to the sheriff. “ What about him?” he asked getting a sick feeling inside.
“ Well it seems that he hired his gun out to a mining company in Colorado. Talk is he killed seven men who tried to rob this mining company. The Denver post said these men had been hitting this particular shipment every month and until Madrid stopped them they had lost over two million in gold.”
“ Two million.” Scott said with shock as he glanced at his father.
Murdoch looked at Scott and had anger written all over his face. “ I told you that that damn gun was all your brother is good at.” he said vehemently.
“ You obviously did not hear what the sheriff just said sir……..My brother just saved that company from losing a lot of money.”
“ Yes and he killed men in doing so…..Killing another human being over gold is foolish.”
“ Not when it’s another mans way of feeding his family sir.”
“ I will not stand her and allow you to justify that killer in my house.”
“ That killer as you call him is * your * son…….my brother…..I will not allow * you * to talk about Johnny like that. He is not a killer. Why is it that you cannot see the good in him?………Why can’t you let his past rest? He did what he had to to stay alive.”
“ Because he had choices and living by a gun is not the right choice.”
“ Oh like you didn’t……Didn’t you yourself wear a badge once?”
“ Yes but that was different.”
“ No it’s not. You killed men for money. Johnny killed men to help others and yes it was for money but it was * not * murder.”
“ Well if you will excuse me, I think I will ride on back to Stockton now.”
“ Sheriff I thank you for coming out here.” Scott said.
“ No problem Scott. I just thought you would be glad to know Johnny is helping others and still alive.”
Murdoch stood there madder than a wet hen as his son walked the sheriff out to his horse. Walking over to the sideboard he poured a drink and downed it. When his oldest walked back in he glared hard at him.
“ You got some nerve sir.” Scott said with anger as he walked back into the room.
“ Don’t you dare speak to me like that.”
“ I will speak to you any damn way I so choose too do………I will be contacting a lawyer and having papers drawn up splitting Lancer for me and my brother like I told you when I came back.”
“ I will not allow what I worked a lifetime to build be destroyed by that killer.”
Scott couldn’t believe the way his father was talking about Johnny. “ All his life my brother has fought tooth and nail to survive. He has had more abuse inflicted upon him than you or I could ever imagine. A third of this ranch is his birthright and I will help him get it at any and all cost…….Are you prepared to fight your own sons for this land?”
“ I will do whatever I have to do to keep what is mine.”
“ Including ordering the men to kill my brother if he is seen on Lancer property?”
Murdoch just looked at him.
“ Frank told me about the order you gave and I told him that * any * man who works for Lancer shoots my brother will answer to me.”
“ Your brother has been gone four months his part of the deed agreement is void. He signed it Johnny Lancer and he is not Johnny Lancer……..he is Johnny Madrid and I will fight him for it.”
“ Then sir you fight us both……..I will be leaving this house and moving into the bunkhouse with the hands….I will not stay under the same roof as you. And for the record for that deed to be voided my brother has to have abandoned Lancer for one year…….You see I already did some checking into that. All parties who signed such document at the end of that one year if one of the parties has been vacant from such agreement it is then that such agreement becomes void sir.”
Murdoch glared hard at Scott. “ I call the tune here………This is my land and I say who is part owner of it.”
“ I’m afraid that your lawyer informed you wrong sir. Check the laws yourself if you do not believe me.” Scott said before walking out of the room.
Johnny walked out of the bank in Denver and mounted Barranca. The sooner he could get out of a big town like Denver the better. A good romp between the sheets tempted him but not in a town where he knew people knew who he was. Hell what he did was plastered all over the papers. ‘ Robbers no match for Madrid’ gun’ or ‘ Seven killed by Madrid ‘ The one he liked the most was ‘ Wells Fargo saved millions’. The three days he stayed in Denver he collected the articles wrote about the incident and tucked them away in his saddlebags. Now headed out to meet up with his cousin and head to Cheyenne. Even though he didn’t really need the money, riding guard for the Wells Fargo mining company was a job he just fell into. It wasn’t hard to figure out that it was an inside job. How else would robbers know exactly when a shipment was being brought down. Winter was fast approaching and snow had already fallen in the upper elevations. Having purchased a warmer coat and gloves Johnny galloped Barranca north. His cousin would be waiting along the Crow river after having split up at his request.
Riding alone now Johnny couldn’t help but remember back too all the times before he had ridden alone. These last few months having a cousin he never knew he had ride with him he found himself becoming more relaxed and less cautious. Both of which could get him killed. The one thing a gunfighter could and should never do is get to comfortable and relaxed. Being almost twenty three years old now Johnny Madrid was old for a gunfighter. Most gunfighters never lived past twenty. Being Johnny Madrid, good at his trade had sealed his fate twelve years ago. Almost four years ago his life as a gunfighter almost came to the end he wanted but having a father who one minute would tolerate him as his son and the next treat him as bad verbally as the men who abused him physically in his youth. His brother never judged him from the start. Never looked at him as a gunfighter. Never judged him for the man he used to be. A gunfighter couldn’t afford to make friends. Friends came and went usually by a bullet.
The only true friend Johnny felt he had and could really trust was the beautiful golden stallion he was riding. Barranca and him had become soul mates. Fate had dealt Johnny the best horse a man could ever want. A horse who without a doubt had proved to him had more heart and soul and willingness to please. A rifle shot into the ground at Barranca’ feet caused the stallion to bolt sideways and almost unseat his owner. Johnny went for his gun and two more shots rang out.
“ Next one goes in that fine animal you’re riding Madrid.” a voice yelled out.
Johnny let his reins loop around the saddle horn and raised his hands slowly. Looking to his right where the voice was coming from.
“ With your left hand I want you to very slowly reach down and unbuckle the gun belt. You move to fast and I will blow your head clean off Madrid.”
Johnny ever so slowly did what was asked. Not knowing if he was dealing with one person only or more he couldn’t take a risk. Unbuckling his belt he let it fall to the ground on Barranca’ right. Raising his hand back up. “ What do you want?” Johnny asked as he looked at Barranca’ ears and noticed the stallion’s ears turn back listening telling Johnny that someone was behind them.
“ You Madrid……..get down off that horse on the right side and don’t try anything, I have a rifle aimed right at your head.”
Bringing his left leg over Barranca’ neck Johnny slide to the ground.
“ Move away from the horse nice and easy and get down on your knees.”
Johnny thought about his gun laying just feet away as he stepped away from the stallion and got down on his knees.
“ Good, now lay down on your belly and put your hands out in front of you.”
“ I asked you what you wanted mister.” Johnny stated as he did as he was told.
“ I told you…….I want you Madrid…….I got paper on you and I intend on collecting.”
Johnny cursed silently. “ I ain’t wanted for nothing.” he said trying to find out what he was wanted for.
Footsteps could be heard coming toward him.
“ You are in Kansas boy…….Seems the sheriff there wants your hide real bad for killing a deputy of his who just happened to be his son.” the man said as he pulled out a pair of cuffs and dropped them at Johnny’ head. “ Put them on.”
Johnny picked up the cuffs and put them around his wrist.
“ You being here in Colorado saved me from havin ta ride to Mexico to get you….You can sit up now….You try anything and I will blow you away.”
Johnny pushed up to his knees and swung his legs around to sit on his butt. Getting a look at the man. Dressed in black pants and a sweat stained white shirt with a buckskin jacket Johnny got a sick feeling inside. He knew the man who now had him. Knew how brutal he could be if provoked having witnessed him pistol whip a man to death in El Paso eight years ago. The man went by Buckskin Bill because of the coat.
“ I know who you are and I promise you you won’t get me to Kansas.”
“ Oh I’ll get you ta Kansas alright…….dead or alive it makes no matter to me.”
“ I didn’t murder that deputy.”
“ Shut up Madrid.” Bill ordered as he walked to Barranca and took the rifle out of the scabbard.
“ Let me go and you can ride out of here and still be breathin.”
Buckskin Bill walked over to Johnny and smiled down at him. “ I told you to shut up boy.” he said right before he swung Johnny’ rifle hitting him in the head.
Johnny seen the rifle butt coming at him too late and felt the blow as he fell sideways from the force. Dazed and seeing stars Johnny squeezed his eyes shut trying to stop the pain he now had. Blood could be felt running down his neck behind his ear.
Joe kicked dirt on the dwindling fire and walked to his horse and mounted up. Johnny was supposed to meet him here two days ago. He didn’t want to split up but his cousin had insisted that they not ride into Denver together after the ordeal with the robbers. Now heavy with worry he headed back toward Denver hoping to catch up to him. All kinds of thoughts ran through his mind on why Johnny had not showed up yet and none of them were pleasant. Knowing it would take at least three days for him to square away with Wells Fargo and another day of riding to catch him Joe knew that for whatever reason Johnny was at least a day late. Riding the trail he knew Johnny would be taking Joe kept an eye out for signs of another horse having been on that trail.
Johnny had told him about it and that only a herd of slow elk used it in the spring and since Indians rode unshod horses, tracks from another shod horse would stand out. That afternoon Joe found just that. Not one but two shod horses. One was on the trail and the other came onto the trail from the east through the rocks and brush of a dried up creek bed. Getting off his horse he looked around at the footprints in the dirt. It was clear a man had been on the ground here finding hand prints and marks from the man getting up. Walking around slowly looking at the ground Joe found what he didn’t want to find, blood. Not a lot but enough to know that someone was hurt and had been drug to their horse where the blood stopped. Getting a bad feeling inside Joe mounted up and decided to follow the tracks. Something he had learned riding with his cousin was too listen to your gut feelings. Johnny told him that if something just didn’t feel right your mind, body and senses would tell you so with either one or all three.
“ Johnny.” Scott yelled as he jerked awake. Sweat ran down his forehead into his eyes stinging them.
Having rode up to the north line shack to do some repairs that would keep him away from his father for a week Scott got out of bed and walked over to the stove and turned the damper up to allow the fire to grow. Picking up the coffee pot he poured himself a cup of coffee and walked over to the window and stared out into the dark. The sun wouldn’t be coming up for a couple hours yet, but Scott knew he would not be able to go back to sleep. Hands trembling he took a sip of the coffee and found himself missing his brothers coffee. Wiping a hand over his face Scott tried to get the images of his dream from his mind but found he could not. Seeing his brother alone laying half in, half out of water either dead or unconscious, blood was clearly visible on his brothers neck.
“ Please don’t let it be true brother……….Please come home, come back to Lancer Johnny.” Scott said aloud. Finding a lawyer who had no connection to his father in any way had proved to be somewhat of a challenge for him in Sacramento while there three days ago. The man had come out west from New York having heard about how the west would be growing and wanting to raise a family with his wife away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. The man had only been in Sacramento a few weeks when Scott was referred to him by a trusting source. Just as he had suspected the deed he and his brother signed did nowhere state that Lancer could not be divided up into two or three parts as long as the land stayed joined inside it’s original boundaries. Scott had shown the man the area he and his brother wanted to claim as the Double L horse ranch well within set boundaries. Since the Double L would include both brothers only one had to be present on Lancer at any given time. If a person on the deed were not present for a years time minimum it would have to be proven that said person were either dead or had abandoned such land and thus voiding deed and forfeiting any and all rights to such including all holdings. Turning from the window Scott walked over to the table and picked up his saddlebags and took out the pad of paper and pencil he always had with him.
“ I’m going to get this started for us brother.” he said aloud as he started drawing out a cabin, barn, corrals and such that would be built near Black Mesa. It would be his contribution to his brother for when he did come back to Lancer in the spring or sooner he hoped.
Johnny tried to get comfortable but being chained around a tree even though it was just big enough and tall enough he could not get his arms free from, having them wrapped around it made sleeping impossible. Inside he knew his cousin would be looking for him since he had not shown up at the meeting place. With a pounding head and shoulders that ached Johnny shivered as the wind started to pick up as a storm started to come in from over the mountains. Laying there looking up at the stars thinking about his brother and wondering if he made it back to Lancer alright and had told Murdoch of their plans for the horse ranch. Murdoch had agreed to it when they discussed it coming home from New Mexico but after arriving back at Lancer Johnny had noticed his father had once again started treating him differently. All he wanted was a father to love and be proud of him and a wife to bear his children and love him. It seemed that fate had dealt him a bad hand on those wants though. He had a father who made it clear he did not want him. Had a wife to love him and bear his children but again fate did not allow this too be. Closing his eyes his body shivered as snow started to fall and the colder air brought cramps to his already sore shoulders and pounding head.
Johnny knew all he had to do was wait for the right time to get the knife he carried inside his right boot out. Buckskin Bill checked him for other guns but didn’t check his boots. Smiling at this stupid overlook Bill made Johnny knew the perfect time to strike would come mid-morning when they had to cross the Platte river. It would be running swift from all the rain in the mountains. Swift and cold. Getting the knife out of his boot would be a trick but could be done with the help of his horse. Thankful he had trained the stallion to rein with his knees, it didn’t matter if Bill had the reins. Barranca would do what Johnny trained him to do. He just hoped he didn’t drown trying.
Mid morning just as he had figured Buckskin Bill and him rode up to the swelling swift rivers edge.
“ I can’t cross that with my hands chained.” Johnny said.
Bill glared at him before removing the key from his pocket. “ Hold out your hands.” he demanded gruffly.
Johnny smiled inside as he held out his hands and the cuffs came off. Rubbing the soreness in his wrist.
“ You try anything Madrid and I will kill you.” Bill said harshly as he undid his rope and loped it around Barranca’ neck. “Move.” Bill demanded.
Johnny eased Barranca into the swift cold water. “Easy amigo, I know it’s cold buddy.” Johnny said as the water came up deeper and ha grabbed the saddle horn and swung around to Barranca’ left side. Holding on with his right arm, he reached down and was able to get the knife from his boot and tuck it into his belt. Pulling himself back up onto Barranca’ back when the other bank came closer and his stallion began touching bottom again. Buckskin Bill he could see was just behind him on his right which was perfect since he had tucked the knife in his belt on his left side. Wearing buckskin Johnny knew Bill would be weighed and slowed down from the heavy clothing. Barranca climbed up out of the cold water and shook off the excess water he could as his rider held onto the saddle horn anticipating it.
When Buckskin Bill’ horse came up along Barranca a few seconds later Johnny kicked his feet from the stirrups and faster than he thought possible he was up on Barranca’ back and leaped onto Bill, both men falling to the ground hard. Johnny had grabbed his knife when he jumped on Bill and brought it up into the mans gut fast as they fell. Bill was a big man and the knife being only a four inch blade didn’t go in as deep as Johnny wanted. Realizing this Johnny attempted to stab the man again when he was hit in the side of the head and dazed just long enough from the blow too allow Bill time to grab the knife.
Both men wrestling for control Johnny knew he wouldn’t be able to fight the man off much longer. Bill had an easy seventy pounds on him and was stronger. Rolling around on the ground grappling over the knife Johnny received a knee to his gut knocking the wind from him and allowing Bill to pin him to the ground as both men held on tight too the knife. Feeling his arms weaken Johnny tried to bring a leg up and gouge Bill in the back with a spur but the man was too far forward on his chest. Using every ounce of strength he had he tried desperately to push the knife that now loomed over his chest away. When Bill smiled as he looked down at him Johnny knew then it would be over in a matter of seconds.
When Bill raised up to drive the knife down into his chest Johnny side kicked again and this time landed his right spur deep in Bills upper leg. Instead of Bill letting go of the knife like he had planned Johnny felt the blade slice his left side open. Unable to stop the scream of pain Johnny shoved Bill to his left as his spur dug deeper into the mans leg causing him to let go of the knife and grab for Johnny’ leg instead. Seizing this chance Johnny pulled the knife from his side and with one quick move brought his right arm up and across Bills chest driving the knife all the way in too the mans heart. Yanking it out Johnny knew the man was now dead as he looked down at him with eyes open and lifeless.
Bill didn’t think Madrid would attack as he rode up along side him. Knocked to the ground he felt the knife enter his gut. Taking his right fist he slugged Madrid hard in the side of the head dazing him just long enough to get the upper hand. Now on top of the gunfighter, his confidence high Bill pushed the knife down toward Madrid’ chest confident it would enter his heart. Moaning in pain when he felt the spur enter his upper leg seemed to just drive his rage further. Losing his balance just a little he smiled when the knife entered Madrid’ chest but let go when the spur dug deeper into his leg. Too late he realized his mistake as the knife plunged into his heart as he looked down into the coldest blue eyes he had ever seen for the last time.
Johnny rolled away from Bill and got up on his knees. Looking down at the knife wound he sighed. It wasn’t real deep but would need stitched up.
“ Barranca.” he called out. When the stallion came over he grabbed a hold of the left stirrup and pulled himself up. Leaning against the horse he patted the golden neck. “ Good boy……Just give me a second boy.” Johnny said before grabbing the saddle horn and putting a foot in the stirrup. After a couple tries Johnny finally got into the saddle. Reaching back into his saddlebags he pulled a shirt out and stuffed it inside his wet one to slow the bleeding down. He knew or at least hoped Joe would be looking for him as he turned Barranca back toward the river.
“ Sorry amigo but we need to cross back over this river boy.” Johnny said as the stallion stepped cautiously back down into the cold water. Knowing his owner was hurt Barranca swam back across the river with ease and climbed up the bank and started walking sensing the direction he was to head.
Johnny hung onto the saddle horn as his stallion swam the cold water and climbed out. Leaning forward a little he gave the stallion a minute to rest before asking him to move on. After a couple miles Johnny heard another horse coming toward him and stopped Barranca. Taking out his pistol he laid it across his lap cocked and ready. When Joe came into view he sighed and put the gun away.
“ Hey, what took you so long?” he asked as a sharp pain grasped his side.
“ I wasn’t sure if I was following your tracks or someone else’ cousin………You alright?” Joe asked.
Johnny looked at him and gave a small smile. “ Me……I’ve never been better.” he said before falling forward onto Barranca’ neck and sliding to the ground.
“ Johnny.” Joe said as he tried to grab his cousin. Jumping off his horse he turned Johnny over and found the wound. “ Jesus Johnny.” Joe said as he looked at the wound.
The snow was coming down hard by late afternoon. Joe had managed to get Johnny under a bunch of cottonwood trees with one down that he could use as shelter. Lightening had split the tree years before and hollowed out the trunk. Removing his cousins wet clothes and laying them near the fire to dry. The horses had blankets spread over their backs to give them some protection from the wind and cold wet snow. Wood was plentiful as was the water. He knew in his gut what his cousin had done to get away from whoever had him. He also knew that besides the wound in his side that he stitched up Johnny had received a blow to his head and sustained a possible concussion. Sipping on some hot coffee and watching the sun set over the Rockies to the west Joe heard a sound and turned to find Johnny looking back at him.
“ How you feeling?” he asked stepping over.
“ Alright I guess.” Johnny said as he sat up slowly and felt the pull from the stitches. “ You do this?” he asked looking down at his side.
“ Yeah……I removed your clothes also so they could dry and you wouldn’t catch a chill……..Sorry but I had too Johnny.” Joe said.
“ It’s okay…….any more of that coffee?”
“Yeah.” Joe said as he handed Johnny his cup. “ You wanna tell me what happened?”
Johnny took the proffered cup. “ My past.” he said before taking a sip.
Johnny shook his head a little and regretted it. Reaching up he felt behind his left ear and could feel the dried blood but no stitches. “ Sheriff in Hays……..Clint’ old man.”
“ Uh Johnny who was the man?” Joe asked.
“ Buckskin Bill is what people called him……..Said he had paper on me.”
Joe got up and walked over to the horses. Johnny could see that Bills horse was with them.
“ His horse wondered in a couple hours ago. Guess she was lonesome.” Joe said as he came back over and sat down. “ He had this in his saddlebags Johnny.” Joe said as he handed Johnny the poster.
Johnny took it and read it.
WANTED FOR THE MURDER OF MY SON
About 5’6” 160 pounds
dark hair and blue eyes.
Madrid gunned down my son in the street as my son was trying to arrest this killer. I am offering a reward of $1,OOO for the capture and return to Hays, Kansas of this killer. I want him alive so he can suffer like I have since my sons demise.
Reward is private and will be paid so by private individual.
Johnny read the paper again then threw it in the fire. “ Great…….just what I need on top of Mendoza’ reward.” he said with anger as he stood up slowly. “ I gotta take a walk.” he said before walking away.
When Johnny came back a few minutes later he dished up a plate of beans and hardtack and sat back down out of the snow.
“ Johnny this stuff is gonna get worse……where we gonna spend the winter?”
“ Laramie.” he said with a mouth full of beans.
“ Laramie?” Joe asked back.
“ Yeah……..I worked for a rancher there and did him a big favor and he said I could always come back.”
“ He know who you are?”
“ You mean Madrid?……..yeah he knows. That’s why he hired me before……He was being rustled and I stopped it……….I also saved his wife and daughter from being raped.”
“ Daughter huh?”
“ Yeah…..real pretty one too. Looks just like her mother. Long brown hair. Nice figure. Gonna make some man a real nice fuck some day.”
“ Jesus Johnny…….how old is she?”
“ Oh lets see……..I reckin she’s about nineteen or so now…….why?”
“ Oh no reason really.” Joe said with a grin.
“ You sure she’s not the reason you want to go to this guys ranch cousin?”
“ Maybe……..I’ll tell ya this…….If it’s offered I ain’t turnin it down……When you see her you’ll understand…….hell you might want ta fuck her your self.”
“ Maybe.” Joe said with a laugh.
The holidays were fast approaching but this year Scott didn’t feel like getting into the spirit of the season. His father went about work around the ranch and life in general like nothing ever happened or was missing. Knowing his brother would come back to him Scott kept the Christmas gift he bought Johnny in the back of his top dresser drawer. Sitting at the table trying to partake in conversation with the hands he found his heart just wasn’t in it tonight. Ever since the dream a few days back awoke him he had an uneasy feeling about his little brother dying out there all alone.
“ You alright Scott?” Hank asked.
“ Yeah, just thinking about something…….If you guys will excuse me I think I’m going to get some air.”
“ Sure Scott.” Hank said as he watched the man leave. He knew just like the others what was wrong with Scott. He was missing his brother but would never admit it. Hank also knew that the way his father was being really hurt the oldest Lancer son more than anything.
“ You think Johnny will come back Hank?” Slim asked.
“ Yeah I do……and I’ll tell you something, if he does I hope he stands up to that father of his and takes what is rightfully his.”
“ Why can’t the old man see what we all see in Johnny?…….Hell that boy can outwork anyone of us on a bad day.”
“ Problem is Slim that Murdoch Lancer can’t seem to see past what his younger son did in the past to survive.”
“ Hell he killed men in his past…..he was a bounty hunter before he became a lawman…….If you ask me he should take a look at himself some time………..ain’t a man on this ranch who is gonna follow orders and shoot Johnny if he comes back.”
“ I know.” Hank said before grabbing his hat and coat and going outside to talk to a very lonely man.
Scott leaned on the corral fence and looked out at the hills in the full moon light. Hearing footsteps behind him he turned and found Hank walking up.
“ He’ll come back Scott……and when he does all hell will break loose between them two you know?”
“ Yeah……..listen Hank you might as well know…….Johnny plans on starting a horse ranch here on Lancer.”
“ He does huh?”
“ Yeah up at Black Mesa……..a third of Lancer is his and I found an attorney to help us out if my jackass father refuses.”
“ I thought Murdoch already agreed to let Johnny do that when they were gone with the horses?……..leastways that was what Johnny said when he came back……That boy was as happy as a fox in a hen house…………..What happened Scott……between them two I mean?”
“ I wish I knew the answer to that Hank…….Johnny tries so damn hard to please that man and bust his ass for him and others but it seems to never be enough or right.”
“ You know the time I spent with Johnny one thing became very clear to me about that boy.”
“ What would that be Hank?”
“ He’s not proud of what he did in the past, but more than anything he wants a father to be proud of him and love him……..Hell I bet he has never been told that by his father. That boy wants a father so bad it’s hurting him Scott…….I seen it and so did the men when Johnny was here.”
“I know Hank……I just don’t know what I can do about it…….I have been round and round with my father about Johnny but it seems that my words just fall on deaf ears.”
“ That’s why you moved into the bunk house with us?”
“ Yeah, how can I stay under the same roof with a man who refuses to see the good in his own son and forget about the past.”
“ You know I think it would be great if that brother of yours showed back up here during that fancy party he’s throwin in the spring for the Governor.”
“ I heard talk about it in town…….seems the Governor will be coming to Lancer in the spring……Murdoch has always kept an open invitation to the man and I guess he’s gonna use it.”
Scott couldn’t stop the grin on his face. “ If I knew where he was I would have him do just that Hank.”
“ Well I think I’ll turn in now. Got that herd to move tomorrow. You have a good night Scott.”
“ Thanks Hank, see you tomorrow.” Scott said before turning back to the fence and looking up at the stars and wondering if his brother was doing the same thing wherever he was at.
Johnny and Joe rode into the Circle Bar C ranch mid-morning three days later. A burly older man walked out of the house and met them.
“ Well as I live and breath……..I never expected to see you around these parts again Madrid.”
“ Carl……..Yeah it’s been awhile. I was in the area and thought I’d stop by and see how you was doin.”
“ I’m good…..get on down and come in the house and get warmed up……..you two look about half froze………Martha……..we got company.” he yelled as he turned to head back inside.
Johnny got down and could feel the hands staring at him. Tying Barranca to the hitchin post out front.
“ Come on Joe.”
The two men stepped into the warm house and took off their hats.
“ Johnny Madrid.” a woman said with a smile as she walked into the room. “ You get on over here and give me a hug boy.” she ordered.
Johnny glanced at his cousin before stepping over and giving the woman a big hug and kiss on the cheek.
“ You are still as skinny as you were before…….I’m going to fix you a good home cooked meal.”
“ Thank you Martha…….uh Carl, Martha I would like you both too meet my cousin Joe.”
“ Cousin….well I will be damned.” Carl said as he held out his hand to Joe.
“ Sir…….ma’am……….Johnny has told me a lot about you.”
“ Where’s Beth?” Johnny asked.
“ She’s at the Lawson’ visiting……..she’ll be back day after tomorrow and I know she will be very happy to see you Johnny.” Martha stated.” Carl why don’t you get these boys something to warm their insides and I will go fix them something to eat.”
“ That girl has grown up real nice and if it weren’t for you she never would’ve got the chance too.” Carl said as he poured two shots and handed them to the boys.
“ Well like I said before I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time. Thank you.” Johnny said softly as he took the proffered shot. Compliments were something he was never able to accept well. They were something a gunfighter just never received.
“ So what brings you back to Laramie Johnny?……You got a job your doin?” Carl asked.
“ No…just finished one down in Colorado and we were headed up to Montana.” Johnny said as he went to the couch and sat down easy. His side still hurting.
“ You hurt?” Carl asked.
“ It’s nothing…….How’s it been around here?” Johnny said wanting to change the subject away from him. He knew that if Martha found out she would mother hen him to death, not that he minded the attention he just didn’t want it right now.
“ It’s slow………..damn cougar keeps killin my stock.”
“ Cougar huh?”
“ Yeah……listen Johnny none of them boys out there can track worth a damn and I’m tired of losin cattle.”
“ Say no more Carl…..me and Joe will track it down for ya…….how many men you got workin for you now?”
“ Six……..seems gold fever is more appealing to them than cows……..Speakin of Gold nice job you did for Wells Fargo………you was all over the front page of the papers.”
“ Yeah I seen that.” Johnny answered.
“ You two boys come on over here and eat.” Martha ordered as she walked in with two plates of food.
The next morning Johnny and Joe were getting the horses ready to go after the cougar. Giving Barranca a much deserved rest Johnny slid his rifle into the scabbard and led the big bay out of the barn.
“ You upset about somethin cousin?” he asked Joe.
“ Me………no I just ain’t lookin forward to spendin time out there in the cold trackin a killer cat.”
“ You can stay here if you want.”
“ You know tracking a killer cougar is better with two people Johnny. I’m not about ta let you go do it all alone.” Joe said as he swung into the saddle. “ Sure is nice of Carl to loan us these horses though.”
“ Yeah ours need a good rest.” Johnny said as he swung up on the bay. Looking he noticed two of the hands were watching him real close. The same two who stared at him yesterday when he rode in.
“ Those two seem real interested in you cousin.” Joe stated.
“ Yeah…….I noticed…..lets go get this cat.”
Three days later Johnny and Joe rode back to the ranch with a big male cougar dead across the pack horses back.
“ You got him I see.” Carl said as he walked over.
“ Yeah.” Johnny answered as he got down. “ He was holed up in some rocks not far from where you said you lost the last steer.”
“ Big male huh……..well you boys did me a big favor……I thank you. Come on in the house and warm up.”
“ You go ahead Joe, I’m gonna take care of the horses.”
“ The hands can do that Johnny.”
“ Naw, I want to check on Barranca while I’m at it.”
“ He spoils that stallion of his real good.” Joe said as he dusted snow off his hat.
“ Well I can appreciate that, he’s a fine animal. A might testy though about strangers. Come on Joe you can tell me about the kill.”
Johnny led the horses into the barn and was greeted by a familiar whinny. “ Hey amigo…..you been a good boy while I was gone?” he said as he walked over and rubbed that special place behind the stallions ear.
“ He likes to be scratched there don’t he?” came a familiar voice behind him.
Johnny didn’t have to turn around to know who it was. “ Yeah he does.”
“ Johnny Madrid you better come over here and give me a hug.”
Johnny smiled as he turned around. “ Beth.” he said noticing that she had indeed grown up just like he figured. “ You’ve grown up.” he stated as he stepped over and put his hands on her waist and pulled her into a hug.
“ Oh I’ve grown up alright.” Beth said as she pressed her chest into his.
Johnny felt her now full breast against his chest and enjoyed the feel. He couldn’t help but glance down at her cleavage when he pulled back a little and settled his arms on her shoulders.
“ When daddy told me you were here I couldn’t believe it.” Beth said before she kissed him firmly on the lips.
Johnny was taken by surprise at first when she kissed him. “ Beth I’m three days without a bath and…..”
“ I know but don’t care.” Beth said before she kissed him again.
Johnny really didn’t want this happening, at least not just yet but found he couldn’t stop himself from kissing her back. Pulling her into his chest more he wrapped his arms around her back and slide his tongue into her mouth enjoying the taste and sweet smell. His lower extremities also enjoyed the feel of a woman against his body. After a minute he forced himself to stop when his cock started getting hard.
“ Beth…..Beth this isn’t the place and…..I don’t want your father or a hand walking in catching us.”
“ Daddy won’t say nothing Johnny……he likes you and the hands are all out working.” she said pressing herself into him more.
“ Damn girl.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth again with hunger as he ran his hands around to her breast and rubbed them. His now harder cock throbbed uncomfortably in his leather pants demanding release. Pressing himself into her as he backed her up against a post.
“ You do know how to drive a man crazy and make him want you…….this is a dangerous game you’re playing Beth.” he said trying to get his breathing and body under control.
“ Oh I ain’t playin no game Johnny……I want you and I know you want me.”
“ I do, but….Beth I’m not the man for you…….you’re a lady and deserve someone who don’t have a past that keeps showing up.”
“ I know what I want Johnny……I know what you are and don’t care……..I want you.”
After several very uncomfortable minutes Johnny was able to persuade Beth to go back in the house. He promised her they would be together again. If it was him she wanted to be her first then he would be more than happy to take her to womanhood. He’d done it before with girls and was more than happy to do it again. Taking a girl for her first time was something he really enjoyed doing. Knowing he wouldn’t be able to walk in the house the way he was Johnny stepped into Barranca’ stall and made a fast job of a very uncomfortable situation he knew would not go away unless he did. Looking forward to being with Beth he thought about where they could part the sheets without being caught. It was winter and the barn loft would be way to cold. The only other options available were either in the house in her room since he shared a room with his cousin or maybe a room in Laramie, but that wouldn’t really work because people in town would see her and probably tell her father.
“ Amigo……..that girl is ripe for the picking and I’m going to savor that sweet fruit.” he told his friend before he left the stall and set about taking care of the other horses.
Eating dinner two weeks later Johnny couldn’t help but keep glancing at Beth. So far they had stole very passionate kisses leaving him hard every time. The girl was making it very hard to not take her up in the loft and savoring her ripe fruit.
“ Johnny………..I got a favor ta ask you.”
“ Ask away Carl.” Johnny said as he took a sip of coffee.
“ Beth needs to go to Cheyenne. I don’t want her going alone. Would you mind escorting her?”
Bingo, the chance he wanted just got delivered. “ Well Carl I don’t mind but won’t one of the hands do it?” he asked not wanting to seem eager to be alone with her.
“ Yes they could but I wouldn’t feel right and with you I know she will be safe.”
“ Okay then, when did you want us to leave?”
“ As soon as you can get a pack horse together with everything you both will need.”
“ A pack horse sir…..I thought we would be taking the stage.”
“ Stage don’t run between Laramie and Cheyenne in the winter. Say’s it’s to risky of an avalanche so anyone going to Cheyenne in the winter has to ride either south adding days to the trip or through the pass. I’ll leave it up to you on which way the two of you goes. Beth knows of places you can get out of the weather if a storm brews up.”
Joe looked at his cousin and knew what would be happening with Beth if it hadn’t already. He could see it in Johnny’s eyes the way he looked at the girl.
“ Sure Carl……..I don’t mind.” he stated as he smiled at Beth. He could see the excitement on her face as well as feel it in himself. “ I guess I’ll take a pack horse into town and get the supplies we’ll need in the morning.”
“ Good, Joe you going with them to Cheyenne?” Carl asked.
“ Uh no I think Johnny can manage it on his own……I think I’ll stay here and help you out.”
“ He’s not the young fool I took him for Johnny. He’s down right smart leavin you out in the cold and him in a warm bed every night.” Carl said with a wink.
“ That’s okay…..he’ll get paid back. Remember it’s a long ride back to Lancer cousin.”
“ Lancer?” Carl asked.
“Excuse me but I’m going to go check on Barranca…….dinner was good Martha. Thank you.” Johnny said before heading to the door and grabbing his coat and hat and leaving.
“ What is Lancer?”
“ A ranch in California sir, owned by his father. Well a third of it is. Johnny and his brother Scott own a third each.”
“ How big is this ranch?” Martha asked.
“ Over a hundred thousand acres ma’am.”
“ You said brother……Johnny has a brother?”
“ Yes sir.” Joe said then went into telling the three about Lancer, Scott and some of how Murdoch had been treating Johnny.”
“I knew a Murdoch Lancer once…….if it’s the same man he was up in the mountains trapping…must ‘ave been thirty years ago….So Johnny Madrid is really Johnny Lancer?”
“ Why in thunder is that boy going by Madrid then……Why don’t he stand up to his old man and fight for what is rightfully his?”
“ That Carl I wish I knew…….he want’s to put his past behind him so bad, but every time he starts too relax he gets called out and Murdoch gets all angry with him when it’s not his fault.”
“ Why is he really out here now?” Carl asked as he stood up. “Why did he leave Lancer really Joe?”
“ He went to see my father in Mexico. He wanted to get to know his uncle but…….”
“ But your father didn’t want him either, did he?”
“ No sir it would seem not.”
“ I’m going to go check on Johnny father.”
“ Alright Beth……..Joe is Johnny wanted by the law?”
Joe hated to lie to the man. He had come to like Carl Mathis and his family these past weeks. “ I can’t really say sir.”
“ You just did…….besides other gunfighters he is wanted, maybe not legally by the law but paper is out on him isn’t it?”
Joe couldn’t or wouldn’t answer the man. It wasn’t his place to tell him. “ I’m sorry, if you will excuse me I think I will go see if my cousin is alright.”
“ Leave him………Beth went out there. Do you play chess Joe?”
“ Yes sir I do.”
Johnny had enough provisions to last a week on the pack horse he now led as he and Beth rode east. They had left the ranch after the sun was up and it was now late afternoon. Noticing the snow was getting deeper as they got nearer the Medicine Bow Mountains he stopped Barranca and looked around as Beth’ horse plodded thru the snow up next to him.
“ Cheyenne’ about sixty miles in good weather. We won’t make but maybe twenty miles if we’re lucky today if this snow gets deeper Beth. Let’s head north and go around I know of a cave we can make camp at tonight. It’s big enough for the horses to be in also.”
“ How about a roof and stove and barn for the horses?…….I know of an abandoned place we could spend the night in.” Beth stated as she touched his leg.
Johnny smiled. “ Lead the way then.”
Two hours later Johnny was finishing up taking care of the horses in the barn. It wasn’t big but the roof was solid and the doors and walls were sound. He could here the wind picking up outside as he pitched some hay into Barranca’ stall.
“ There ya go amigo.” he told his friend as he patted his neck. Barranca turned and nipped his arm.
“ Hey……..I guess you’re none to pleased with me dragging you out in this weather huh. Lo Siento Por Favor amigo I’ll make it up too you buddy I promise.” Johnny told the stallion as he scratched that special place behind the left ear. “ I’ll see you in the morning buddy.” he said before heading to the house. When he opened the barn door he got slammed in the face by a blast of very cold air and snow.
The sun was almost down and the temperature had dropped dramatically. The snow was beginning to come down hard as he trudged his way to the back door of the house. He had gotten a fire going in the stove before taking care of the horses and unloaded the pack horse before hand. As he opened the door the heat from inside was barely felt on his cold numb face as he closed the door. He could smell food being cooked as he turned around and shook out of the heavy winter coat he was wearing.
“ Smells good Beth.” he said said as he hung the coat up. “ What happened to the owners of this place?”
Beth poured a steaming cup of coffee and handed it to him. “ Thank you……they moved back east after their son died of Small Pox. You look half frozen cowboy. Go sit by the stove and warm up.” Beth ordered as she gently pushed him in that direction.
Johnny welcomed the hot coffee as it made it’s way down his throat. Walking over to the stove he couldn’t help but notice Beth had made a bed for them on the floor not far from it.
“ It’s really starting to come down out there.” he said as he sat down and went about taking his boots off so his feet could warm up. “ We may be here a while.”
“Would that be so bad?” She asked as she dished up a plate of hot beans and brought them over to him.
“ No……I’m glad you knew of this place.” Johnny said as he took the plate. “ I never asked you why you needed to go to Cheyenne.”
“I have a friend there who just had a baby not long ago and she asked me if I would come and visit before the holidays.”
Holidays, Johnny had lost track of what time of year it was really. If he were still at Lancer he would be sitting in the grand room sipping on a brandy or tequila playing a game of chess with his brother right now. His father would be either going over the ledgers or reading the newspaper. This could have been a special time of year for him with a wife and child on the way. Sighing Johnny willed those thoughts from his mind and set about looking at the soon to be woman sitting not far from him. Tonight he would take it slow. Thanks to the weather he had all the time in the world too make Beth a woman and he fully planned on enjoying it. In the past when he took a girl for her first time he had always had an urgency, whether it be from fear of being caught together or just not caring to go slow. Teresa was slow in sorts but even then they ran the risk of a ranch hand catching them together. Tonight though as he sat in this abandoned house and a blizzard raged outside he knew he had time. Time to go slow and not make the experience any more painful for her than necessary. Finishing the food Johnny sat the now empty plate on the table and stood up. Reaching down he undid his gun belt and laid it on the table and pulled his shirt out of his pants. He could see Beth watching his every move and smiled at her as he sat back down and leaned the chair back on two legs.
“ You want some more Johnny?” she asked.
“No I’m good, thanks.” he responded. He could tell Beth was nervous. “ You having second thoughts about this Beth?”
“ No.” she said as she set her plate down and moved over between his legs on her knees on the floor. Putting her hands on his thighs she started to run them up to his crotch and rub him.
Johnny laid his head back and savored the feel of her hands touching him. He loved it when a woman took the time to caress his cock. Hell he loved it when a woman sucked his cock and let him spill his seed in her mouth. Not many women he’d come across who could do that very good. Once he was even bitten by a whore who was so inexperienced at it that he actually got pissed off he cussed the girl out and threw her on the bed and fucked her so roughly she had tears in her eyes when he rolled off her. If Beth wanted to try and take him in her mouth he would guide her through it. If she didn’t it wouldn’t be no big loss, not tonight anyways. Cock throbbing Johnny reached down and pulled Beth’ mouth to his and devoured her as his hands slid down to her breast and gently squeezed them. Feeling her moan in his mouth at the touch he broke the kiss off and started undoing the buttons on her shirt as he desperately wanted to suck on her now swelled nipples.
Beth stood up and slid her shirt off and undid her pants as well and slid them down around her ankles. Stepping out of them as she watched Johnny do the same. She couldn’t help but watch as his engorged cock stood straight out as he slid his leather pants off along with his long John bottoms. Stepping back up to him she ran her hands up his chest feeling the muscles as she started playing with his nipples kissing and sucking on them getting them as hard as her’s were as she flicked her tongue over them.
Johnny stood on shaky legs as long as he could letting Beth explore his body with her mouth. When her hands moved down and took his cock in them that was all he could stand. He had to taste her. He needed to taste her. Leaning down he devoured first one then the other of her breast as her hands stroked his cock. When she touched his balls he could feel them tighten and knew if he didn’t stop her he would release right there.
“ Lay down on the blankets Beth.” he asked through labored breaths. When she moved to the blankets he held her hand as she laid down on her back and spread her legs willingly. Looking down at what his throbbing cock wanted Johnny got down on his knees and leaned forward reclaiming her breast as she wrapped her legs around him tightly. Pushing into her mound some as he started kissing his way down to what he would soon claim as his and thrust against with passion, hunger and demand after a not so gentle entrance. Spreading her legs more Johnny leaned forward and claimed her mouth again with hunger and passion, delving his tongue deep into the back of her mouth. Moaning his pleasure as he reached down and slid a finger inside her wetness and moaned again when he felt her raise up a little to his touch. Working his finger slowly he slid another in and placed his thumb on the spot he knew would send her over the edge when worked just right. Sliding a third finger into her as she got wetter Johnny felt her muscles start to tighten and moved his mouth down and claimed her mound as he parted folded skins and flicked his tongue on her nub.
Beth couldn’t stand it any longer. Grabbing Johnny’ head she pushed up into his face enjoying the feeling she was experiencing as she moaned and raised up on her elbows watching the man between her legs do to her what she never dreamed would be done. Feeling what she never thought possible. Trembling she started to buck her hips as her stomach got tight and she felt like she would explode.
Johnny could tell she was very near climax as he sucked harder on her clit and worked his hand faster. His cock throbbed and he could feel himself release a little when Beth’ muscles went tight on his fingers and she started climaxing. Working his hand as fast as he could while he savored the taste of her juices as they flowed for the first time into his mouth.
“ Oh my god Johnny.” Beth practically screamed as she bucked up into his face as wave after wave of pure ecstasy shot through her body. Trembling legs locked tightly around his shoulders as she laid back and just let go.
Johnny lapped at Beth’ now wet mound until he felt her muscles relax. Then he rose up and smiled as he positioned his pleading cock between her legs. The tip touching her entrance as it dripped with pre cum. Claiming her mouth again he pushed the tip slowly in and out as his tongue swirled around inside her mouth letting her taste what he had minutes before. With all the restraint he had in his body he slowly slid in and out of her going a little deeper every time until he reached the barrier and stopped, letting her adjust to his size. He could feel his cock throbbing inside her against the wall he would have to break through. Raising up he looked down into Beth’ eyes.
“ Are you sure?” he asked.
“ Yes.” Beth said as she wrapped her legs tightly around him.
“ It’s going to hurt Beth, I’m sorry.” Johnny told her before he slid his cock almost all the way out then thrust back in hard and fast. He felt her tighten and could see the pain in her eyes as he laid there letting her body adjust to the invasion. “ Lo Siento Quierda lo siento.” Johnny said as he felt her body tremble beneath him. Claiming her mouth again to get her mind off the pain he started to move slowly in and out of her again. Bringing his cock all the way out then letting it slide back in. When Beth started to thrust her hips up to meet his downward thrust he picked up the pace as he felt his seed release a little. Totally lost in the feeling Johnny fucked Beth hard and fast as he felt his major climax start to build. Pounding into her as she matched his every thrust with her own Sweat ran down into his eyes but he didn’t care. Right now all that mattered was what was happening beneath him. A girl, now woman fucked him back with as much hunger and passion as he had. Two people totally lost in the sexual urge and need to procreate. Johnny couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a child swell in Beth’ belly as he slammed into her more. Why he thought this he didn’t know. Right now all he wanted was release. Reaching down he put Beth’ legs on his shoulders as he raised up and pulled her down into him more. Looking down he watched his cock slid ever faster in and out of her as he thrust deep inside her. He could feel her muscles tighten around his shaft and start to tremble. He knew she was climaxing again and that was all it took. Unable to hold back any longer.
“ Oh madre de dios.” Johnny said as he threw his head back and moaned loudly as he started climaxing, his cock jumping inside her wetness as he released his seed deep inside her.
Beth felt something different inside when Johnny pulled her legs up on his shoulders with her hips slightly raised. When Johnny thrust down into her she felt him hit a spot inside her that brought back the feeling she had before. This time her stomach muscles got even tighter and her thighs started to spasm. She could feel his cock throbbing inside her. She could feel how stiff it was. She felt his balls as they hit against her and got tighter with every thrust. This was how she wanted her first time to be. This was the experience she wanted to remember for the rest of her life. The first time she spread her legs for a man, but not just any man. Her first time with a wanted man. Wanted by many a woman to feel what she was feeling right now. A man who knew what he was doing with a woman. A man who could either just fuck a woman or make love to her. Tonight she became a woman in the arms of Johnny Madrid. Tonight his seed spilled into her body. Seed a part of her wished would make her swell with child. Inside she knew her father thought of Johnny as family and would welcome him into the family as either a son he never had or son in law. Welcomed as a son would not happen since carnal lust and the sexual need to procreate seemed urgent in the man between her legs. Beth felt that maybe, just maybe Johnny was trying to create a life between them.
Johnny gasped for air as he felt himself slide out of Beth and he let her lay down flat on the floor. Moving up he claimed her mouth with hunger as he placed his body on top of her spreading her legs so he could feel her wetness against his cock. He knew it wouldn’t take long to be hard again and planned on a repeat performance several more times before the sun came up.
Scott rode into Sacramento after receiving a wire from his attorney requesting a meeting. Murdoch had pressed him about who the lawyer was and he simply told him it had to do with business back in Boston with his Grandfather. He would let the man stew on that for the time being. Getting off his horse he was greeted by the young man outside his office.
“ Scott Lancer, you made good time. I didn’t expect you till weeks end.” he said holding out a hand.
Scott took the preferred hand in his. “ Yes well I am eager to get this started for me and Johnny.” he said.
“ Well I got it all drawn up. Come on inside and take a look at it and tell me what you think.”
Three hours later Scott walked out of the lawyers office with a smile on his face. Now he just needed to know where his brother was so he could give him the good news. He knew his brother was still alive because if Johnny Madrid had been gunned down it would have been all over the newspapers front page just like he did in Colorado. Walking over to the bank Scott decided to get the business his father asked him to conduct completed before taking his horse to the livery and then procuring a room for the night.
Johnny and Beth rode into Cheyenne three days later and put three tired horses up in the livery. The blizzard had lasted well into the afternoon of the next day before the clouds parted and allowed the sun to shine down on a beautiful valley. Johnny and Beth spent the time talking and making love endlessly, each one seeming to not be able to get enough of the other.
“ I’m going to go send a wire letting your father know we made it here.” Johnny said after setting his saddlebags on the bed in the hotel room.
“ Okay.” Beth said before kissing him.
Johnny wrapped his arms around Beth and delved his tongue passionately in her mouth for a minute.
“ We need to stop this for now Beth. You go ahead and get cleaned up so you can see your friend while I go send the wire.” he said as he kissed he gently on the lips before turning and leaving.
Walking into the telegraph office Johnny wrote out his message for Carl keeping it simple.
Arrived Cheyenne STOP. Delayed a day by blizzard. STOP. Will wire when leaving. STOP.
Send that to Laramie and then I want you to send another wire to Morro Coyo, California.” Johnny instructed as he started to write out the next wire. He noticed the telegraph operator looking him up and down when he read the name.
Scott okay. STOP. Spending winter in Laramie at Circle Bar C ranch. STOP. Can reach me there. STOP.
“I want this second one going only to Scott. Make sure you tell that.” Johnny ordered as he paid for the two wires before walking out. Stopping at the door he turned around. “ It would be wise for you * not * to speak of either of those wires or to anybody about who sent them. Understand?”
“ Yes sir mister Madrid. I’ll make sure the operator in Morro Coyo understands and I will speak of none of this.”
“ Thank you.” Johnny said before walking out and heading back to the hotel.
Scott rode into Morro Coyo two days later and stopped his horse when the telegraph operator flagged him down.
“ I got a wire here for you Scott from your brother.” the man said handing it up to him. “ Sender was very adamant that only you received it.”
“ Thank you.” Scott said with a smile as he handed a two bite piece to the man. Turning his horse to the hitch rail Scott got down and read the wire from his brother. Walking inside the office.
“ when did you receive this?” he asked.
“ Just today…..oh about an hour ago.”
Scott took up pencil and paper and wrote a response. “ This come from Laramie?” he asked as he wrote.
“ No……Cheyenne office.” the man responded.
“ Cheyenne…….okay send this back and instruct that if he’s not still there to forward it to Laramie.”
“ Sure thing Scott…….I sure hope your brother comes back…..A lot of people around here like him.”
Scott looked up from writing and smiled. “ Thanks.”
Johnny glad you are alright. STOP. Procured a lawyer. STOP. Plan is set in motion. STOP. Must come back in Spring. STOP. Very important. STOP.
“ I need you to not speak of this to anyone, especially Murdoch.” Scott instructed.
“ Yes sir Scott. You want I should let you know right away if Johnny responds?”
“ Yes please.”
Paying the man Scott walked out of the telegraph office with a smile on his face as he mounted up and headed home.
Riding into Lancer a couple hours later Scott felt better than he did in a long time. Hearing finally from his brother made all the difference in the world to him. Getting down from his horse he noticed his father walking over to him.
“ Scott…….did everything go alright in Sacramento?”
“ Yes sir…..Everything went great.” he said.
“ Would you join me for dinner tonight son…….I want us to be able to get along again.”
“ I will join you for dinner but the only way we will ever get along is when * you * accept my brother for who he really is and start being a father to him like he deserves. Until you can do that sir, I will continue to stay in the bunk house with the hands.” Scott said firmly. “ I’m going to get cleaned up. Excuse me.” he said before walking away to the bath house.
Murdoch stood there and watched his oldest son walk away. Why couldn’t his youngest be more like him. Educated and mannered a son to be proud of. Growing up in the border towns couldn’t have been as bad as his son makes out to have been. A boy without discipline is bound to grow up the wrong way. At first he blamed Maria for their son and what he had become. If she had not stole him away in the middle of the night twenty one years ago his Johnny wouldn’t have become the fastest gunfighter in the southwest. Why did he accept him as his son only to turn around and banish him the minute some fool called him out? Johnny tried so hard for the three years he was at Lancer to live a normal life. Three years, some good and some bad. The hands liked working with Johnny. Always got along with him, never complained about him slacking off on his work. Always helping others even those who when not in need despised him because of his past. What did happen in Mexico? Did Johnny drag his brother into something down there that involved killing? Did his oldest murder men to save his brother?Tonight he would ask, no demand to know just what happened in Mexico. What happened and *why* did Scott come back home without his brother?
Johnny and Beth walked out of the hotel, headed to her friends dress shop across the way when all his senses went on alert as they started to cross the street. Stopping when he heard what he hated hearing and had heard so many times in the past.
“Johnny Madrid.” a voice yelled.
“ Move away from me Beth.” Johnny ordered. “ Go on across the street and don’t say anything.”
Beth could see the difference in his eyes and hear the seriousness in his voice. Glancing up the street at a man stepping down into the street. Giving his hand a gentle squeeze Beth hurried across and just inside her friends shop.
Johnny turned to face the man who called him out. He could hear the people hurrying to get out of the way, but yet watch. They always did. Something about when two men faced each other in the street always made people watch and see who would be left standing. He could here voices saying “ That’s Johnny Madrid.” and others saying “ No, Madrid was killed in Mexico.” How many times he had heard that somewhere, whether in Mexico or some other place had he heard of his death? The man he now faced was considerably older than others who called him out. This man he did not know or had never seen before. Standing there he let Madrid take full control but in the back of his mind he hated the fact that Beth would witness this. Witness him either killing this man or he himself being killed. If he survived this tonight he would talk to her about his past and what she wanted. Forcing those thoughts from his mind Johnny faced the man head on now and just stood there, right had as always hanging totally relaxed at his side. The man wore a well beaten hat, sweat stained from years wear. Sweat stain could be seen on and around the collar of his shirt. Tan pants dust covered as were the boots. No spurs or gloves so this man it was clear was not a hand thinking of trying his luck at fame and in a small way this bothered Johnny. Getting called out by a man he did not know just bothered him a small bit. The Man was left handed and Johnny knew of only one left handed gunfighter and that man was now dead. This mans colt he could tell even though looked old, was clean and both it and the holster showed years of usage he noticed as the man took a couple steps toward him and stopped.
“I don’t know you mister, so why don’t you just go about your business and leave me be. I’m not looking for trouble.” Johnny said.
“You’re my business Madrid. You became my business when you killed my little brother.”
Little brother? Hell he had killed so many the man would have to be clearer on just who his little brother was.
“ And just who was your little brother?” he asked casually. “ And where did this happen?”
“ Colorado you sonofabitch. You were plastered all over the newspapers for doing it so don’t try and deny it.”
“ Ah so your little brother rode with that gang who’d been robbing Wells Fargo gold shipments. Well that was his mistake mister. He shouldn’t have been robbing and stealing if he didn’t want to be killed now should he?”
“ No, * you * should have never butted in. You’re the one who should’ve minded his own business Madrid……..You killed him and now I’m going to kill you.”
“ Okay…….if you’re that set on dying think about this. Your brother rode with six other men. That’s seven to one and they are all dead……You really think you can take me when seven men couldn’t?”
Johnny heard the faint chatter of the townsfolk watching. “ Seven men, that’s more than Wyatt Earp ever faced alone.” he heard said.
“ It’s cold out here mister, why don’t you just go on in the saloon and have a drink on me and warm yourself up. You’ll still be breathing and these good towns folks won’t have to watch me kill you.”
“ You cocky sonofabitch.” the man yelled before going for his gun.
Johnny seen it like before in the mans eyes a split second before and drew. Fanning the colt twice, hitting the man dead in the heart with both shots as the mans gun never cleared leather. His shot never coming as he dropped to his knees with a look of shock in his eyes before falling forward dead.
“ Did you see that?” someone yelled. “ Two shots in the heart. I never seen anyone that fast before.”
“ I bet he goes and finds a whore now, like he always does after killing a man.” someone stated.
Johnny stood there looking at the dead man before him like so many times before hearing the words spoken by those who witnessed the dance. It was always the same at the end, the only difference would be in the town name. This man he didn’t even get the name of like those before him. Holstering his colt Johnny turned and seen Beth standing there looking at him. He could see both shock and fear in her eyes. The shock he could understand, she had never seen him go up against a man before now. The fear though, that was something he didn’t expect to see. Turning away from her he walked to the hotel.
Beth had just finished telling her friend about the man she came to Cheyenne with, the man she was in love with when she like everyone else heard called out. She had stood in both silence and fear and watched him kill another. The fear wasn’t of Johnny Madrid no, the fear Beth felt was * for * him. Fear she would see the man she loved killed right before her eyes. A part of her wanted to go to him when it was all over, but a greater part told her to let him be. When he turned and walked away from her toward the hotel without a word she knew he was hurting because of what she had witnessed.
“ Sara I gotta go.” she said. “ I’ll see you later okay.”
“ Will you be alright Beth?” her friend asked.
“ Yes, he needs me right now. I could see it in his eyes.”
“ Alright, bring him with you tonight for dinner at my place Beth if you can.”
“ Thanks, I’ll see if I can.” Beth said before hurrying to the hotel.
Johnny walked into the hotel feeling the eyes on him as he headed to his room. The desk clerk watching him as he walked up the stairs to his room. Closing the door he walked over and got the bottle of tequila out of his saddlebags and poured a hefty amount into a glass and sat down at the table near the window. His father was right, all he was or ever would be is a killer. It didn’t matter if he was the one called out, the outcome was always the same. Hearing a light knock at the door and his name called softly he knew it was Beth. Fingering the glass of tequila he sat back in the chair when she walked in and closed the door.
“ I’m not real good company right now Beth.”
“ Are you alright?”
Johnny didn’t even look up at her. “ Alright? You just watched me kill a man and you ask me if I’m alright Beth.” he said with anger in his voice.
Beth stepped over to the table as she removed her coat. “ I asked because I care Johnny.”
Johnny looked up at her this time. “ Care about me……..do you Beth? Do you really care about me because it’s never going to stop. No matter where I go someone is going to call me out and one of these times that person will be faster than me.”
“ Yes I care about you Johnny……..I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”
“ I don’t think you understand what you are getting yourself involved in Beth.” he said standing up and removing his coat. “ Beth I’m a gunfighter and it will never stop. Men will die trying to kill me and I don’t think you understand that.”
“ Why Johnny?…….Why do they do it?…..Help me understand.”
“ Because they want the reputation of being the one to kill Johnny Madrid.” he said with anger. “ Even though I’m not in the game any longer, as long as I’m still alive they can’t get the highest dollar for a job……Reputation and money Beth……that’s why.”
“ He said you killed his brother.”
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he stepped over to her just to see if the fear he seen before was still there. “ His little brother was one of the robbers I killed in Colorado who’d been robbing gold shipments from Wells Fargo.” he stated as he looked into her eyes. The fear was still there but it wasn’t fear of him he could see. It was fear for him, something he had never seen a woman have before. Anger and frustration building he stepped closer to her.
Beth reached out and put her hands on his shoulders pulling him to her. “ Is it true what they say you do Johnny after you kill a man?” she asked as her hands massaged there way up his neck into his hair.
Johnny looked into Beth’ eyes and seen her genuine concern for him. Concern and wanting. Shoving her back onto the bed roughly before removing his gun belt. Pinning her to the bed, Johnny claimed her mouth with hunger as he shoved his tongue all the way in and delved it around. Reaching down he started pulling the dress up around her waist. All he could think about right now was getting rid of the frustration and anger he had inside. Usually seeking out a whore to do this too.
Beth was caught off guard when Johnny shoved her back onto the bed. Taken by surprise at his sudden aggression and what she knew he was about to do, a part of her started to feel excitement inside as she reached down and started undoing the buttons at her breast She knew this wasn’t going to be making love, not this time. This time she was going to feel what it was like to be taken and claimed by Johnny Madrid in a rough hungry desperate way.
Johnny rose up long enough to undo his pants and shove them down. His hard cock standing out as he took hold of it and forcing Beth’ legs apart he shoved the tip into her as he savagely claimed her mouth again. “ I’m going to fuck you hard Beth……You want that?” he asked as he started biting at her neck down to her breast.
“ Yes Johnny……let me feel you inside me my lover.”
Johnny started thrusting hard and fast, not caring about anything beyond release. Biting and sucking on her breast as he slammed into her Johnny could feel his release starting already. Raising up he pulled her legs up onto his shoulders as he thrust downward feeling her muscles tighten around his shaft.
Moaning louder as his seed shot out deep inside her as she climaxed with him.
Beth felt her body start to tremble and even though Johnny was being rougher than she would like it turned her on as wave after wave of pleasure came over her.
“ Oh don’t stop……..Please don’t stop Johnny.” she pleaded as she grabbed his hips and held him into her tighter.
Johnny thrust several times hard as he released before grabbing her chin and claiming her mouth with his.
Totally spent and covered in sweat Johnny stood up and looked down into the eyes of the woman he just took. The woman who not two days before he had made love too.
“I’m sorry Beth.” he said as he pulled his pants back up. “ I had no right to be like that with you.”
Beth sat up and scooted to the edge of the bed. Standing up she let her dress fall around her feet.
“ I wanted it like that as much as you did Johnny.” she said as she stepped up to him and claimed his mouth again.
Johnny and Beth spent a week in Cheyenne with her friend and her new baby. A wanting need started inside Johnny on the last day of their visit. A want for a child of his own and the woman to bear that child and share his bed. He couldn’t help but hope that Beth would be that woman. Their last night in the hotel Johnny made love to Beth like their first time together. The day he killed that man in the street and the rough way he had taken Beth, Johnny had not touched her again until now. Shame and guilt kept him from touching and claiming the woman who he had been sharing a bed with every night since. It took all his restraints to not take Beth having her lay next to his body naked and soft. He seen the bruises. Bruises * he * was responsible for putting on her body. Remembering back to that day Johnny knew Beth felt for him deeply. She had called him her *lover*. Tonight he would be that lover and let nothing else matter as two bodies locked together again in a furry passion of love making. Both desperately needing release, both clinging tightly too the other as they became one at the hips. Neither body carrying about the world outside their room. Johnny desperately wanting his seed deep inside Beth and Beth desperately bringing it closer as she clung to him tightly. Knowing he ran a risk of getting Beth with child like his father did his mother unwed didn’t seem to matter to him. Inside all Johnny wanted was what he was feeling right now, and that feeling became the best satisfaction he ever thought he could feel. Satisfaction of a woman beneath him, legs wrapped tightly around his hips as he thrust into her. A woman who desperately tried to claim him as her own and already had. A woman who didn’t care who he really was, didn’t turn her back on him or see him as a killer. A woman willing to just relish in what the two together had now, at this moment. Wave after wave of relief came over the two locked together bodies as they clung to each other as their bodies exploded in pure sexual ecstasy.
The next morning Johnny woke to find the beautiful woman laying next to him watching him sleep. Turning his head to face her. “ Morning beautiful.” he said kissing her forehead.
“ Good morning my love.” Beth said kissing him on the lips.
Johnny moaned into the kiss as he felt himself starting to arouse. Breaking off the kiss he pulled her onto his chest as his cock responded to the softness of her body against his.
“ Johnny, were do we go from here?” Beth asked as she raised he hips and brought them down on his hard shaft.
“ What do you mean?” he asked as he pressed his hips up into her. “ Raise up a little so I can be inside you.”
Beth did as he asked. “ Us, together. I want to know how you feel about me?……..and I don’t mean in this way.” Beth answered as she started moving her hips to his.
Johnny became lost in the feeling of Beth on top of him and sat up holding her tight as he released his seed again inside her like he did four times the night past. Laying holding her still on his chest Johnny relished the feel of her soft skin.
“ I was married before Beth.” he said softly.
Beth raised her head and looked him in the eyes.
“ We were married five months when she was taken away from me. She was carrying our first child.”
Beth could hear the sadness in his voice as he told her what she knew could only be painful memories for him.
“ I’m old for a gunfighter Beth. I’m twenty three years old and I know it’s a matter of time before I get called out by a gun faster than me.” Johnny stated as he moved her off his chest and sat up. “ You seen what happens to me. How men call me out and why……Beth I’m no good for you…….it wouldn’t be fair to you. I made my bed years ago when I chose to live by the gun. I can’t ask a woman to share that kind of life with me………I won’t.” Johnny said as he hurt inside from the words he spoke.
“ Johnny, I appreciate your telling me about your loss….I really am but don’t you think I have a say in this?”
“ Beth I can’t. Please don’t make this any harder than it is on me.” Johnny pleaded.
Beth got up off the bed and set about getting dressed. “ We need to get going back to Laramie.”
Johnny got up and grabbed her arms. “ Beth………don’t be mad at me please……It’s you I’m think about.”
“ No it’s not Johnny……you’re thinking about yourself and what happened to your wife……..not me.”
“ My deceased wife and child have nothing to do with this Beth. Can’t you see that what I’m telling you is the truth.”
“ No Johnny I don’t see…..I don’t see how you can push someone away who is offering her love to you.”
“ Beth it’s because I’m falling in love with you that I’m telling you this.” Johnny said as he let go of her arms and stood there.
Hurt was all she could feel. Hurt and despair. She could see the hurt in his eyes as well and knew why he was telling her this. The hurt became anger. “ I don’t think you know the true meaning of Love Johnny Madrid……..I won’t be used by you Johnny……I won’t give up on sharing with you a life full of the love you want…..When you realize that then you come back too me……….I can wait.”
Johnny worked at the Circle Bar C Ranch through the winter. Carl Mathis knew something had happened between Beth and Johnny while in Cheyenne. His daughter had told him how Johnny had been called out and killed the man. He knew something else had happened between the two. Something he hoped would happen. He had hoped inside his Beth and Johnny would get together in marriage. Willing to accept Johnny’ past and welcome him into his family, he knew by the way the two avoided each other that that would not be. Johnny spent Christmas in Laramie at the saloon with a whore that he knew. Beth knew this also and he could tell it hurt her knowing this. Joe had told him a lot about his cousin while the two played chess at night. Finding out that Johnny Madrid was non other than the youngest son of Murdoch Lancer shocked him but more than that he felt anger inside for the way the man treated his son and had run him away from Lancer.
Carl Mathis knew Murdoch Lancer, met the man in the mountains in Colorado when trapping and again in Mexico. The small Mexican town of Cordova is where he seen a side of the man he couldn’t believe was the same man he shared a campfire with in Colorado. A side he couldn’t help but wonder if Johnny knew about. Spring was now approaching and Johnny had made it clear that he was leaving the Circle Bar C and going back to Lancer. Three days and a man he wanted so to become a part of his family would ride away from his ranch and possibly never return. Joe on the other hand would be staying. He had offered him a job and to his surprise Joe had accepted that offer.
“ Johnny…..you’re not upset that I’m staying here are you?” he asked as his cousin when he walked into the barn.
“ You’re a grown man Joe…..you do what you want……If you want to stay here and work then so be it.”
Joe knew his cousin wasn’t happy with his decision not to go back to Lancer with him. After almost a year riding together and getting too know each other in a couple days that would all come to an end. Joe knew that Johnny and Beth had strong feelings for each other and he could tell his cousin wanted those feelings too last but something just wasn’t right. Something had Johnny * not * acting on those feelings beyond what he had already done. Joe knew that the two had been together sexually. He had seen it in both their eyes when they came back from Cheyenne.
“ So that’s it then…..you’re just going to ride away from something that could be good for you?”
Johnny finished tightening the cinch and turned and glared at his cousin. “ She’s better off without me Joe……….let it alone.” he said as he stepped around and put the brush away.
Joe stepped up and grabbed Johnny by the right arm spinning him around. “ The hell I will……..what are you so afraid of Johnny?………..Beth can give you a life you want, what you want. Why are you so willing to throw all that away?”
Johnny jerked his arm free. “ I won’t go through that again Joe………I won’t go through losing a wife.”
“ Jesus Johnny what happened to Carrie was not your fault. Sara was a sick person and you know it.” Joe shot back. “ You know what……….I think you cousin are just scared and riding away from here you think is the answer.”
“ I ain’t scared of nothing Joe………..Let this go………now.” Johnny ordered.
“ You know I thought the great Johnny Madrid didn’t walk away from a challenge……..that he wasn’t a coward…….I guess I was wrong.” Joe said angrily before turning and walking out of the barn.
Johnny stood there watching his cousin walk away before he placed his head on his stallions neck. Was his cousin right? Could it be he was afraid to commit again? To open his heart and love a woman again. Maybe riding away from here would be the test. A test like no other the infamous Johnny Madrid had ever faced. Facing a man on the street he could do with nerves of steel. Facing a woman he was scared to open up to and love seemed to be harder. Hearing footsteps approaching Johnny looked toward the door and found Buck and Thad walking toward him. He knew by the look in their eyes that this was going to be it. Managing to stave off trouble all winter with the two men, that wouldn’t be the case now.
“ Would you look at that Buck……….Ol’ Madrid is all alone.” Thad said.
“ Yeah his cousin didn’t seem too happy when he walked out of here…….You goin somewhere boy?” Buck chided.
Johnny turned and faced the two men straight on as he stepped away from his horse. “ You two want something?”
“ Yeah Madrid……….you.” Thad said with a smile.
“ You see…..we know we would never be able to out draw you alone, but together.” Buck said with firmness as he stepped to the side of Thad an arms length.
“ I don’t think so boys, why don’t you just turn around and go back to whatever Carl had you two doing.”
“ Can’t” Thad spit. “ It’s gone too far……..We know you dishonored Beth halfbreed just like we know you got a two thousand dollar bounty on your head in Mexico.”
“ Two thousand dollars will be a nice little nest egg for us……….So you see it’s nothing personal towards us directly Madrid.”
Johnny wasn’t in the mood for this. “ Even if you did manage to kill me………you won’t live long enough to collect that bounty.”
“ And why’s that?” Buck asked with agitation.
“Because I promise you that I will kill you both before I go down.” Johnny said as Madrid was now in full control. Through eyes colder than ice Johnny stood calm and ready. Facing down two men at once was not something he liked doing but had done it in the past and got away unscathed.
“ I’d say that’s mighty bold talk for a man all alone.”
Johnny could tell that these two had assuredness that they would kill him. “ Is dying any different?” he asked. “ Cause that’s what is going to happen to the two of you if you draw on me.”
“ Tell me something Madrid……did Beth spread her legs willingly for you or did she do it because she was to afraid to turn Johnny Madrid down?”
Johnny stepped forward, something he never did when called out. “ I suggest you watch how you speak about Miss Mathis.” Johnny said.
“ You know I do believe I will have a go at Beth after I kill you Madrid.” Buck said as he moved to his right more drawing Johnny’s attention to him more.
When Buck moved and Johnny kept focused on him Thad moved around more to Johnny’ right side.
“ Shame you’re gonna die all alone Madrid….You see Carl and his family well they went to town earlier and haven’t come back yet. And as far as your cousin Joe well we told him that our foreman Bo wanted to see him so he rode out before we came in.” Buck said noticing Thad was now in position.
Too late Johnny realized what was done. He had let Thad move to his right and Buck was on his left a mistake he knew would cost him a bullet in the back or chest. Cursing under his breath for his stupidity and letting the men break his concentration. He could hear Barranca munching on his hay. A Meadow Lark sang outside. Water could be heard dripping from the melting ice on the barn eaves. When he seen Bucks eyes widen just before his hand moved Johnny drew his colt and fired, fanning the hammer back twice as he felt the white hot pain as a bullet ripped through his right side.
Joe rode up to the house and noticed the sheriffs horse tied to the rail. The front door opened when he stepped around the sheriff’ horse and Carl and the man walked out.
“ Joe……have you seen Johnny this afternoon?”
“ I did earlier before I rode out to see what Bo wanted………..why?”
“ Buck and Thad are dead. I came back from town and found them both in the barn shot.”
“What’s that got to do with Johnny?”
“ His horse is gone Joe and so are his things.”
“ He was saddling Barranca when I…….When we had words earlier. He said he was leaving.”
“ What did you have words about?” the sheriff asked.
Joe looked at Carl. “ Beth…….. and him riding away from her.”
“ Joe……you need to know there is blood near Barranca’ stall……..Johnny is shot………..He rode out of here with a bullet in him.”
“ You thinking Johnny murdered Buck and Thad sheriff?”
“ No………no I’m not. It’s pretty clear from where those two were found dead that Johnny was shot in the back……..I just need to know his side of this….I got two dead men and a known gunfighter gone.”
“ Sheriff Johnny isn’t a murderer……he may be a gunfighter but he is not a murderer.” Joe said as a sick feeling came over him. His cousin rode away from here shot and the last words he had had with him could possibly be the last.
“ Tracks lead west from here. We found blood on some snow a couple miles from here next to his horses tracks. If he is hurt as bad as I think he is……..Madrid won’t make it through the night.”
“ You don’t know my cousin sheriff……..Johnny has had worse and survived.”
“ Yeah, well if he does……. fine……..I’m not riding out there in freezing temperatures looking for him in the dark.” the sheriff stated as he mounted his horse. “ I’m sorry Carl bout your men………chalk this up as two more fools who met their demise at the end of Madrid’ gun.” he said before turning his horse and riding off.
Johnny crossed onto Lancer land a month later. A doctor in Utah checked his wound and told him that he was not good enough to remove it. He also told Johnny just what would happen if the bullet was not removed. A paralysis of his right side. He would be hit with a severe pain in his lower back and no feeling in his right arm and possibly leg. Once it started the symptoms would only get worse until it would be too late. This morning Johnny knelt near a tree looking down at the main house of Lancer watching and waiting. Waiting for his brother to ride out, hopefully alone, so he could let him know he was back. Choosing not to send a wire letting him know would probably get him a stern chewing out from his big brother, especially if Joe sent a wire telling he had left.
Spotting his brother Johnny watched as he talked to Hank then mounted up and rode north. Moving back so he wouldn’t be seen Johnny walked back to Barranca and started to mount up when the pain hit him in the back and dropped him to his knees. Taking deep breaths and massaging his right hand like times before Johnny looked at his stallion who was looking back at him.
“ Just give me a minute amigo.” he stated as he reached up and grabbed his stirrup to pull himself up.
Once mounted Johnny reached down and patted his friends neck.
Scott walked out of the house and got a feeling he had not had in a long time. Someone was watching him. He could feel eyes unseen upon him. Smiling he knew who, or at least he hoped he knew as he mounted up and headed north to Black Mesa. The line shack there needed to be checked after winter so when his father asked Hank too do it, naturally he volunteered too instead. Unknowingly to his father though. Murdoch would learn of the switch tonight and figure his oldest wanted some time away again.
Loping along he could still feel someone watching him. When he reached the line shack and dismounted he glanced around but seen no one. Tying his horse to the porch rail Scott walked inside the shack and started a fire. Even though spring had arrived, snow still laid on the ground up here and the temperature was a might cooler than down below.
Johnny kept Barranca about a mile back from his brother. He knew where he was going and found that unless Scott changed directions he would find him at the north line shack. Walking Barranca through a stand of Birch trees Johnny got down and ground tied his friend. Barranca went to grazing on the lush new green grass as Johnny made his way closer to the shack. Watching he could see only his brothers horse tied out front and the snow showed no signs of anyone else having been around. Walking down to the shack he thru the side window and seen his brother setting a pot of coffee on the stove, then turning and heading to the front door. When Scott walked out, Johnny stepped from the side of the shack.
“ You never were any good at making coffee brother.” he said with a smile.
Scott spun around and stood there in shock for a minute before smiling himself.
“ I’ll have you know I have gotten quit good at making coffee brother.” he responded.
Johnny walked over to him. “ Yeah? Guess I’ll have to see about that.”
“Why don’t we go inside out of this cold.” Scott suggested as he walked over and threw an arm around his brother.
Johnny whistled and his stallion came trotting thru the trees to him. “ I need to get him out of sight. I don’t want anyone knowing I’m back Scott.”
“ I’ll do it……you go on inside and get warmed up Johnny.” Scott said as he took the stallions reins and led him to the small barn.
Johnny stepped inside the shack and immediately welcomed the warmth from the fire into his bones as he took off his winter coat and gloves and walked over too the stove to warm his hands. Scott walked in a few minutes later.
“ You’re here sooner than I expected. The party in question isn’t for a month yet.”
“ Yeah well I had to leave Laramie a little earlier than I intended to Scott.”
“ Where is Joe?” Scott asked, wondering why the cousins had split up.
“ He stayed in Laramie to work for Carl.” Johnny answered as he sat down. “ You look good Boston.”
Boston……that was something Scott feared he would never hear his brother say to him again and he welcomed it.
“ Thanks……I wish I could say the same for you but you look like hell. What’s wrong Johnny?”
Johnny didn’t want his brother knowing. If he could put it off a couple months he would. Now wasn’t the time to be down from a bullet. He also didn’t want his brother knowing two men were now dead because of him and the bounty in Mexico.
“ I’m just tired I guess…..been a long ride.”
“ Tired huh………you eat anything?” Scott asked wonderingly. The look he received told him. “Why don’t I fix you something to eat?”
“Thanks………so I bet the old man was happy when you came back without me?” Johnny asked as he stretched his legs out and crossed them at the ankles. “ How come you’re staying in the bunk house brother?”
Scott turned from the stove with the pot of coffee. “ How did you know I am staying in the bunk house?”he asked as he poured his brother a cup.
“ Cause I’ve been watching ya for a bit.” Johnny answered before taking a sip. “ Not bad…….still needs improvement but it’s better than it was.”
“ Thanks brother.” Scott said setting the pot down. “ So what’s with the long hair?” he asked noticing his brothers hair was down to his shoulders.
“ In case you forgot brother……I spent the winter in Wyoming. It gets damn cold there……..It helps keep the neck warm.”
“ Ahuh……and I suppose you couldn’t find a barber between here and there to get it cut?” Scott asked with a grin.
“ Yeah If I wanted too I could’ve……….Listen Scott this lawyer you have………..I need you to have him see what he can find out about Murdoch about twenty five years ago in Cordova, Mexico.”
“ Carl Mathis….the man who owns the Circle Bar C Ranch.”
“ Yeah…….what about him?”
“ It seems he knows our old man from then and we was talkin one night and he told me some things about him.”
Scott couldn’t help but have a look of interest. “ Such as?”
“ Well lets just say for now brother that the past isn’t going to be the past for him next month.” Johnny said before going into what he had learned from Carl about their father.
“ So where are you going to stay at?”
“ Right here……Lancer is big enough I can stay out of sight until the right time.”
Scott walked over to his saddlebags and took out a piece of paper. “ Take a look at this and tell me what you think of it.”
Johnny took the paper and looked at the drawing. A log cabin, barns and corrals situated at the base of Black Mesa with the name Double L at the top. Setting the paper down on the table. “ I bet the old man was fit to be tied when you told him I would be back?”
“ He said a few choice words.”
“ Yeah and I bet half breed, gunfighter and killer were three of them words.”
Scott cringed inside. He hated those words and knew his brother had put up with hearing them his whole life just about.
“ It’s alright Scott……I know were I stand in his eyes……..he ain’t no different than anyone else I dealt with in the past………You know this is laid out pretty good.” Johnny stated as he picked the paper up again. “ All I want is too be able to live a normal life Scott……..and not by this gun.”
“ And you will Johnny…….It will take some time but it will happen…….Hank and the boys have missed you.” Scott said as he dished up a plate of hotcakes and set them down for his brother as he preceded to tell him all that had happened while he was away.
Johnny told Scott about his adventures. About Colorado and working for Carl. He mentioned Beth but when asked he didn’t answer directly about being involved with her. He missed Beth badly but knew leaving was the right thing to do for both of them, or so he thought. He didn’t tell Scott about the two hands calling him out and the bullet lodged in his back.
“ Well brother I need to get some ranch work done…….why don’t you get some rest and I’ll be back later?” Scott stated as he stood up.
“ Yeah……I could use some……..ain’t no hands gonna be up around here is there?”
“ Nope……….Murdoch has them all rounding up the cattle in the south to move up here when the snow’s gone.”
Johnny stood up and clasped a hand on his brothers shoulder. “ It’s good too see you Boston.”
“ Little brother you have no idea how badly I missed hearing you call me that…….I’ll see you.”
Johnny smiled as he turned and walked over to the bed and removed his gun. Hanging it on the bed post within easy reach and sat down to remove his spurs. A few minutes later he fell into a restful sleep.
Beth Mathis seen her father ride in and dismount. It had been almost two months now since Johnny had left her fathers ranch wounded and two men dead in the barn. Deep down inside she knew she would never learn things about Johnny’s past beyond what she already knew, and that was very little. Beth had felt the scars on his body when with him and couldn’t even imagine how, who had put them scars on him. Their last night together in Laramie he had a fitful dream but spoke only in Spanish so she could not understand what he was saying. Wishing Johnny would have talked to her more than he did left a lot of unanswered questions. When he told her about his wife being murdered because of him and that she was carrying their first child broke her heart. Not because his wife was murdered so much as Johnny never got the chance to love. The way he smiled at her and made love to her, Beth could tell he was a man full of passion and desperate to give and be loved. Only time would tell if she would be able to give Johnny Madrid what he so deserved. Time and a lot of patience.
“ Father……can I speak with you?” she asked walking over to him.
“ Hello sweetheart……you surely may………..what’s on your mind?”
“ I have something I need to tell you………something that you won’t like hearing but I need to say it.”
“ Alright.” Carl said with a feeling deep inside that this had to do with a certain young man. Receiving a telegram just over a month ago that that young man was still alive and at Lancer was welcomed news when told by Joe.
“ Daddy…..I’m with child.” Beth said softly. “ I’m sorry……I know I let you down. I……..” she said with a quivering voice.
Carl walked up to his daughter and put his hands on her shoulders. “ Johnny?” he asked.
“ Yes sir……..I’m sorry I disappointed you letting this happen.”
“ Come here.” Carl said as he pulled her into a hug. “ I’m not disappointed in you child……fact is I was hoping that you and that boy would get hitched………I think the world of Johnny and don’t know why he left the way he did.”
Beth looked up at her father through tear filled eyes. “ He was married before.” she said, then told him what Johnny said had happened and didn’t want happening again.
“ I can understand that but…….this child you carry is his responsibility also honey…..What are you going to do?”
“ He doesn’t know……..I want to go to California……..I want to be with the father of this child.”
Carl stood there listening too his daughter. “ Alright…….I’ll ride into town tomorrow and procure two train tickets to California.”
“ Two?” Beth asked.
“ You don’t think I am going to let you go all that way alone do you?……..Besides I want to have a discussion with Murdoch Lancer.”
“ No sir……could you make that three tickets……I think Joe should go back and be with his family.”
“ So do I…….I suppose you’ve said nothing of this to your mother?”
“ Well come on……..let’s go tell her she will be a grandmother shall we?” Carl said as he wrapped an arm around his daughter and they headed into the house. If truth be known Beth would see he was smiling inside from the news. He did wish it had happened after the two got married. But that wasn’t to be, but would now he hoped.
Carl came back after purchasing three train tickets. The train only ran to Sacramento so they would have to rent a buggy for the rest of the journey to Lancer. Stopping at the telegraph office so he could let Johnny know he would be coming and when.
J. Madrid. Stop. Arriving in Sacramento by train next Wednesday. Stop.
Will acquire a buggy for rest of journey to Lancer. Stop.
Joe and Beth accompanying me. Stop.
Looking forward too seeing you again JM. We need to talk. Important. Stop.
Having instructions on delivery too Lancer ranch as soon as possible. Carl had no way of knowing that only Scott knew Johnny was back at Lancer hiding until the Governors party. Paying for the telegram Carl headed for home. He would make it clear to his daughter that * he * would be the one talking to Johnny about her condition and what would happen in the future to provide for that child. He would not throw his daughter out to raise a child alone. And he would not have her be the gossip around town neither. Being a more than fair man he would give Johnny a chance to make the right decision, which he had no doubts the boy would do.
Johnny stayed close to the north line shack out of sight of the other hands for almost a month. Next Saturday was the big day. The Governor would be at Lancer and his old man planned a big party. Inviting only those who in his eyes met the criteria to be at the event. Scott hadn’t been around for over a week now causing Johnny to miss his big brother more and more. He also thought about Joe and wondered how he was making out working for Carl Mathis and living in Wyoming. Barranca was even getting irritated having to be kept up in the barn during the day and out at night to graze. His coat shined like gold as Johnny spent a lot of time further spoiling the stallion.
“ I promise amigo, I’ll make this up to you. Just one more week and me and you will ride down there and upset the old man by even being here. It’s a full moon out tonight, what say me and you take a midnight ride buddy?” Johnny asked as he rubbed behind the stallions ear. Barranca shook his head up and down and stomped his front feet letting his master know he was more than ready to go.
Murdoch stepped out of the house at the approach of a galloping horse. Seeing it was the kid Josh who sometimes delivered telegrams he walked over.
“ Mister Lancer I got a telegram here, says it’s important.”
Murdoch thought that maybe the Governor wired to tell him something came up at the last and he would be unable to attend the party.
“ Thank you Josh.” he said as he took the telegram from the boy.
“ You’re welcome sir……..Have a good day.” Josh said before turning his horse and heading back too town.
Murdoch opened the wire and got a look of total surprise on his face when he read the words, especially the name of the sender at the bottom. His son here, on Lancer. Arriving next week. Why would Carl Mathis be coming to Lancer with Joe and his daughter and just * how * did Johnny know this man. Fuming Murdoch turned and stormed into the house. If Johnny was back and on Lancer wouldn’t his men have spotted him and carried out the orders he himself specifically gave if seen?
Scott……Scott he was willing to bet knew Johnny was back. Knew and said nothing. There were a lot of places a man could hideout on Lancer and never be seen by a hand. Tonight when his oldest son came home he would confront him about this wire * and * the whereabouts of Johnny. Next Saturday was to important a day and getting a sick feeling inside, he couldn’t help but think that * both * his sons planned something on that day. Remembering what Scott had said when he arrived back from Mexico about how Johnny would be back, back to claim his third of the ranch and start a horse ranch out by Black Mesa.
“ That’s it…….that has to be where you are hiding out at.” Murdoch said aloud. “ The north line shack is not far from there.”
If Scott didn’t give him the answers he wanted then tomorrow he would ride out to that line shack and see for himself.
Scott was tired. Moving the herd to better grazing is tiring work when cows have calves at their side. A mother cow can be very protective of her calf if felt threatened. Walking into the house Scott seen his father sitting at his desk so he entered the great room as he removed his hat.
“ We have the herd moved now. All but three cows have calves at their sides sir.”
Murdoch looked up at his son before standing. “ Good.”
“ Is something the matter sir?”
“ The matter……..that would depend on you.”
“ Me sir……I am afraid I don’t understand.”
“ You care to explain this?” Murdoch said angrily as he handed the wire to Scott.
Taking the paper Scott read the words then looked up at his father.
“ Where is he?………I know Johnny is on Lancer hiding out…….I want too know where and I want too know now.”
“ I don’t know what this is about sir. I don’t know this man……..As far as where Johnny is……..that I will not say until the time is right.”
“ If either of you think you can pull something while the Governor is here.”
“ We are not pulling anything sir……I told you that when the time is right Johnny will come in………Now if you will excuse me I would like to clean up.” Scott said firmly before turning and walking out of the house.
So that was how it was going to be. Tomorrow he would take a ride out, it’s his ranch after all. Tomorrow and every day after if need be he would scour Lancer looking for Johnny.
Johnny rode Barranca under the full moon light that night across Black Mesa letting the stallion have his head and stretch his legs. Topping a ridge he got down off the horse and loosened the cinch to let his friend graze and cool down. Walking over he sat down and looked out over the lake and marveled at the beauty of the moons reflection in the calm water. Sitting there Johnny let his mind wonder too what he and his brother were fixing to try and do to their father. It wasn’t an unreasonable request, hell if it had been Scott making it Johnny felt Murdoch would go with it with no qualms. But since it were primarily him doing this he couldn’t help but wonder just how this would turn out.
Growing up in the border towns being treated the way he was was no stranger to him. Why should the way his own father treated him be any different. Most of his life he had been without until he picked up a gun, but even then he still went without in some ways due to the fear people had for him as a gunfighter. Barranca moseyed over next to him and nudged his back with his muzzle. Johnny reached up and scratched his friends chin.
“ You know amigo……….all I ever wanted was to be Johnny Madrid, good at my trade……Guess I should be careful what I wish for huh buddy?”
Barranca stepped closer and nickered softly.
“ I’m beginning to have doubts buddy about doing this to the old man…….What Carl told me about his past and all…..Maybe I should just let it go and move on?……..We got enough money in the bank to buy us a place say up in Montana…..I hear there are so many wild horses up there a man wouldn’t be able to catch and break them all in a lifetime.” he told his friend as he laid back and looked up at the stars dancing bright above him.
Laying there relaxing Johnny closed his eyes when a sharp stabbing pain hit him hard on the right side of his back. Rolling onto his left he grabbed at his arm and tried to ride the pain out. Sweat ran down his face as the pain subsided but the numbness didn’t. Barranca was still close to his side watching him through big brown eyes. Sitting up holding his right arm Johnny got to his knees.
“ Come here boy.” he said.
Barranca stepped over and grabbing the stirrup Johnny pulled himself up.
“ Good boy…..just give me a minute boy.” Johnny said as he reached up and grabbed the saddle horn with his left hand. After several attempts he finally made it in the saddle and turned the stallion headed back to the line shack. He knew from what the doctor in Salt Lake told him the bullet would have to be removed or he faced paralysis and certain death if word got out that Johnny Madrid could no longer draw his gun. Leaning forward in the saddle he kept Barranca at a walk back to the shack arriving just as the moon was beginning to set behind the trees. Getting the saddle off his friend was a challenge in its self. Undoing the cinch he just pulled and let it drop to the ground. After securing his friend in his stall Johnny staggered to the shack and collapsed on the bunk once inside. His right arm and side spastic with spasms. Closing his eyes, fear came over him. Fear that his brother would find him dead or worse yet, he would die alone.
Dying alone never bothered him before but now, now he had a brother he cared about more than anything. A brother whom had proved in Mexico just what kind of brother he was. A sharper pain grabbed his back and arching upward from it darkness claimed him as his last thoughts were of Scott.
Murdoch left before dawn riding north toward Black Mesa. After two hours ride he topped the ridge looking down at the valley below. Easing his horse down into the valley and across. Thirty minutes later he rode up too the barn of the line shack and heard the nicker of a horse inside. Getting down and opening the door he found Barranca standing in a stall looking back at him. Turning he walked cautiously to the shack and listened. Hearing no sounds coming from inside he peered through the window and seen Johnny sprawled across the bunk. Stepping over Murdoch carefully opened the door and stepped inside. He knew what could happen if he startled Madrid but his gut told him something wasn’t right. The way Johnny was laying on the bunk his hair soaked from sweat and his breathing labored told him something was indeed wrong. Stepping cautiously over to the bunk he took out his pistol and cocked it.
Scott awoke and came out of the bunk house and seen his father riding out headed north. Hurrying to the barn he saddled his horse and followed. When his father rode up to the line shack Scott knew his brother had been found. Leaving his mount in the trees at the side of the barn Scott walked toward the shack. He could here his fathers voice as he got near the window.
Johnny heard the sound of a pistol being cocked and opened his eyes. Looking he found himself starring at his fathers pistol aimed right at him.
“ Get up real easy.” Murdoch ordered.
Johnny swung his legs over the side and sat up. His right arm still numb hung at his side.
“ Go ahead and shoot me old man. If it will make you feel better.” he said harshly.
“ I said get up.” Murdoch again ordered. “ And undo your gun belt real easy.
Johnny stood up and used his left hand to undo the belt and just let the gun fall too the floor.
“ You can put that away. I’m not going to try anything old man.” Johnny stated as he stepped away from his gun and over too the table and sat down.
Murdoch noticed how his boy didn’t move his right arm at all. How it just hung at his side limp. Turning he watched his boy walk to the table and sit down never once moving the arm.
“ You got some explaining to do too me young man and I am not leaving here until I get some answers.”
Johnny was hit by another sharp pain and doubled over in the chair grabbing his right arm and pulling it into his lap.
“ Whats the matter with you?” Murdoch asked as he stepped over and knelt down. “ Johnny look at me, whats wrong?”
“ Nothing.” Johnny answered harshly.
“ Something is wrong and……damn it boy……why do you have to be so bull headed?…..Whats wrong with your right arm?”
“ I……said…nothing…leave me alone.”
“ You are in no position too be ordering me around…..Now I want an answer and I want it now.” Murdoch ordered.
“I got a bullet in my back and sometimes it presses on something back there and just hurts is all.”
“ A bullet…..when did you get shot?” Murdoch asked as he put his pistol away.
“ Why should you care…..I’m just a killer getting what I so deserve.”
“ Stop it……..I don’t want to hear that kind of talk.”
“ You don’t tell me what too do old man. Just go away and leave me alone.”
“ I will not go away Johnny……..I don’t know how we can work through this problem between us but right now you’re hurt and I am not leaving you alone.”
Johnny went to stand but dropped to his knees from the pain. He could fell his fathers hands on him and tried to pull away but hadn’t the strength.
“ Talk to me Johnny……..where is the bullet son?” Murdoch asked with full concern in his voice.
Scott looked in the window and seen his brother on the floor with their father kneeling next to him. Hurrying to the door and jerking it open.
“ What did you do to him?” Scott demanded as he went to his brothers side.
“ I didn’t do anything to him. He says hE has a bullet in his back.”
“ What?” Scott asked astounded. “ Johnny look at me brother.”
Johnny raised his head, eyes watery with tears from the pain. “ Scott……..make it stop….por favor.”
“ Let’s get you over on the bed…….Can you stand up for me?”
Johnny tried but his right leg failed to obey.
Murdoch stood up and scooped his boy up in his arms and carried him to the bunk and gently laid him down. Then went and got a towel and soaked it in the bucket of water and came back over and started too wipe his sons forehead down. “ He needs a doctor Scott……..Ride into town and get Sam out here fast.”
“ I am not leaving you alone with him.”
“ Do you really think that I would do something too him?………..Go……Now. You can make the ride faster than I can.”
Scott didn’t like the idea of leaving his brother alone with his father but he knew he had no choice. “ I’ll be back as fast as I can Johnny……..hold on.” he said before turning and bolting to the door.
There was very little Murdoch could do for his son beyond trying to keep him cool wiping the sweat from his brow. When Johnny about screamed out from pain and curled into a tight ball it broke his heart that he was powerless too do anything.
Scott pushed his mount hard into town. The horse hadn’t even stopped fully when he got off and in three steps was on Sam’ porch banging on his door. When Sam opened the door he quickly explained what he knew about Johnny and both men were headed to the line shack thirty minutes later.
When Sam arrived he found Murdoch sitting next to the bunk with his head down. He was holding his son’s hand.
“ Murdoch………how is he?” Sam asked as he stepped over. He could see the pain in Johnny’s face even though he was unconscious.
“ Sam…..he passed out a while back and I haven’t been able to wake him up.”
“ Let me in there……….Scott said he has a bullet in his back.”
“ That’s what Johnny told me.”
“ Well let’s take a look.”
“ Something is wrong with his right side Sam. He can’t move his arm.”
Sam looked at Murdoch then down at his patient. “ What have you done too yourself this time Johnny?” Sam said more than asked as he started to remove Johnny’s shirt. Once off he rolled Johnny onto his side and found the wound in his lower left side. He could tell from the angle pretty much where the bullet was.
“This wound is at least a couple weeks old…….Do either of you know how long ago he was shot?”
“ No Sam………neither of us knew.” Scott stated.
Johnny started to stir and opened his eyes, blinking several times. “ Hey Sam.”
“ Hey your self young man…….Johnny I need to ask you a question and I want the truth from you.”
“ When did you get shot?”
“ Just over two months ago……In Laramie.”
Scott looked at his father then Sam. “ Johnny you rode back here with a bullet in your back?”
“ Young man do you realize the damage you could have done too your self…….Damage you may have already done………What in gods name made you do this and not get that bullet out?” Sam asked in anger. “ Why the devil didn’t you go to a doctor?”
“ I did Sam.”
“ Did what?………..ignore your body again?”
“ No………I went to a doctor………in Salt Lake.”
Sam was shocked. He knew how Johnny hated doctors and for the man too admit he went to one on his own astounded him.
“ And why didn’t that doctor remove it?”
“ Said he couldn’t…….told me what would happen if left in……didn’t say when it would start happening but he told me I would have the pain I’m having and my arm would be useless.”
“ Can you feel or move your right arm at all?”
“ No………help me Sam……..por favor.” Johnny pleaded.
“ I will.”Sam said as he stood up. “ He won’t make the trip to Lancer………I’m going to have to remove the bullet here…….Scott get some water boiling and clear the table off. Put a sheet over it if you have one.” Sam ordered as he went to his bag.
“ What can I do Sam?” Murdoch asked.
Sam looked at him hard. “ I think you have done quiet enough already…I’ll have Scott help me with the surgery…….You can wait outside.”
“ Now see here Sam…….I have done nothing wrong.”
“ Nothing wrong……….you ran this boy away from here…….Let me tell you something Murdoch…I don’t know what is going on between you two……….but I do know that if you let this boy leave here again…….the next time you see him could very well be at his funeral………Now get out.” Sam said with anger as he pushed Murdoch toward the door. “ Get out and let me and Scott try and save him from being paralyzed.
Murdoch was angry, Angry that Sam would speak to him in this way. Angry that he couldn’t help his son. Turning he stormed out of the shack slamming the door behind him.
“ You alright Sam?” came a weak voice.
“ Yes Johnny……I am…….That man has no idea just what kind of person you really are and it angers me so.”
“ It’s okay Sam……Listen I need to say something to you before you cut me open.”
“ Alright.” Sam answered as he took his surgical instruments out and laid them on the table.
“ No matter how this turns out…..I’ll know you did your best……I trust only two people with my life and they are both in this room right now.” Johnny said.
Sam looked at Scott. A lump formed in his throat and he found it hard to swallow. “ It will be alright Johnny……….Scott help him over here………..Johnny I’m going to give you a shot of morphine….Now I know you don’t much cotton to drugs but I can’t have you awake for this…….If that bullet is where I think it is I can’t have you moving around.”
Johnny made his way too the table and sat on the edge. “ I know Sam.” he said laying down.
Scott opened the door and stepped outside three hours later. Murdoch got up from the chair he had been sitting in.
“ Sam removed the bullet.”
“ Will he be alright?” Murdoch asked softly. Having to sit outside and wait these last three hours gave him a chance to think about all that had happened between him and Johnny the three years his son was at Lancer. Their differences would have to be settled one way or another when Johnny was feeling better. He also wanted to know just how his son knew Clive Mathis and what pray tale if anything did Mathis tell Johnny about his past?
“ Do you really care?” Scott asked wiping sweat from his brow.
“ Yes damn it………I may not get along with your brother Scott, but he is still my son.”
“ Then I suggest you start acting like a father too him sir………Let his past go.”
Murdoch glared at his oldest a moment before walking past and inside. “ Sam?”
“ He’s alive……I won’t know for a day or so if any damage is permanent or not……..Scott. You and Murdoch lift him up carefully and take him over to the bunk. Lay him on his right side. I don’t want any pressure on that wound.”
Scott stepped to his brother and both men carried him to the bunk and laid him down.
“ I don’t want him moving around a lot for awhile……one of you is going to have to stay here with him.”
“ I’ll stay Sam……….I’m not leaving him alone.” Scott said firmly.
“ How long before he can be moved to Lancer Sam?”
“ Murdoch I don’t want him traveling by wagon for at least a week….and certainly not by horse.”
“ I’ll ride back and have a wagon bring you more supplies son. You will need them and I’ll send plenty of bandages so you can change the dressing on his wound.” Murdoch said as he headed to the door.
“ Thank you sir.” Scott said as he sat on the edge of the bunk next to his brother.
“ When he’s stronger………..the three of us are going to get this little matter at hand settled.” he said firmly before walking out.
Johnny woke to the smell of bacon as he opened his eyes. It had been five days now since Sam removed the bullet from his back. Feeling had started coming back to his arm but sometimes he felt nothing.
“ It will take time Johnny. That bullet pressed up against your sciatic nerve. It’s bruised and swelled up from the pressure……..I have too tell you young man that riding a horse with a bullet in your back was the dumbest thing you could have ever done.”
“ I don’t need your lectures doc about what I do………….I get enough already.”
“ Then maybe you should start listening to others, especially those who care about you.” Sam had said harshly before leaving.
That was two days ago. With Scott’ help he was allowed to walk around the shack to build his strength back up. Being a person who was pretty independent upon himself Johnny hated the fact that for the past week his brother had had to do just about everything for him, from wiping him down to emptying the chamber pot.
Now swinging his legs slowly over the edge of the bunk he watched his brother preparing their breakfast again. Smiling he couldn’t help himself.
“ You got any of that poison you call coffee made brother?” Johnny asked with a smile.
Scott turned around. “ Why good morning to you too little brother. Yes I do.” he answered as he poured a cup and set it on the table as he went to help his brother stand and walk over to the table.
“ I can do it Scott.” Johnny said more harshly than he intended. “ Lo siento hermano.”
“ It’s alright Johnny…I know you want your freedom back…..I will just stay at your side just in case alright?”
“ K” Johnny said as he slowly walked across the room to the table.
“ You know Boston………..I have ta say…you’re gonna make somebody a good wife some day.” he said with a slight chuckle.
“ Oh is that right?……..Well you know little brother with this long hair of yours I thought I already was your wife.”
“ Leave it alone Scott.” Johnny said standing up. “ I need to step outside.” he said stepping toward the door.
“ Just let me…………”
“ No Scott…….I can do it okay………I’ll be alright.” Johnny said walking out and closing the door.
Scott knew his brother just wanted his independence back. He was a proud man and hated having someone else have to care for him. It didn’t sit well with him and Scott fully understood that. The party would be happening in two days at the ranch and he couldn’t help but wonder if his little brother wanted to still present their proposal at that time to their father.
Johnny finished his business then decided to go to the barn and check on his friend. Barranca nickered and threw his head up and down when he walked in.
“ Hey amigo…….did ya miss me buddy?…………Scott been takin good care of ya?” he asked as he rubbed the stallions face.
Barranca gently pressed his head into his chest and sighed.
“ Yeah I know buddy……you did me good the other night.” he told him as he started scratching that special spot behind the left ear. “ We gotta stay hid out for a while…….my gun arms no good right now and I can’t get called out……..I do and I’m as good as dead.”
Scott started to get concerned when his brother didn’t come back in. Making sure breakfast wouldn’t burn he headed outside. Listening he knew then where his brother went. Walking over to the barn he could here his brother talking to the horse. Hearing him talk about his gun arm being useless made Scott realize just how vulnerable his little brother was right now. It never crossed his mind with all he had been worried about. His little brother could be killed easy if word got around about his arm.
Something else crossed his mind that he had totally forgotten about. The telegram Murdoch intercepted last week sent to Johnny. Opening the barn door he stepped in.
“ Breakfast is ready when you are brother.” he said walking up the the two. “ I’ve been taking good care of him for you. Brushing him down every day when you would be sleeping.”
“ Thanks.” Johnny said softly.
“ Johnny……..you need to know something……Murdoch intercepted a telegram sent to the ranch for you……That’s how he found out you were here.”
“ A telegram from who?”
“ Carl Mathis………said he would be arriving in Sacramento by train this week and rent a buggy to come here. Joe and someone whom I assume is Carl’ wife named Beth are coming with him.”
“ Beth is his daughter.” Johnny said to his brother. “What the hell is he coming to Lancer for?”
“ He didn’t say…….I thought Joe stayed behind too work for the man?…………Johnny could it be you’re wanted for killing those two in Laramie by the law there?”
“ I ain’t wanted Scott…….They called me out…….Saddle Barranca for me after breakfast okay…….I need to be at the ranch when they arrive.”
“ You are in no shape to ride yet………You heard Sam.”
“ Either you do it or I will.” he said firmly before walking out headed to the line shack.
Scott stood there puzzled why his brother had the reaction he did too this man’s arrival at Lancer. He knew something was weighing heavy on his brothers mind, and it had nothing to do with the use of his gun arm. Something he would press his brother about on the ride home because he knew Johnny wouldn’t be able to take off. He just wasn’t real sure he wanted to know * what * it was.
Johnny remained quiet during breakfast and slowly got dressed while his brother saddled the horses. Putting on his boots became a challenge though. Bending over pulled on the stitches so once again he had to lose his dignity, what little he had left and ask his brother for help getting dressed. Beth was strong on his mind as he walked out onto the porch carrying his boots as his brother led the horses out of the barn. Why did she come clean out here to California?
“ I don’t need this.” Johnny said aloud.
“ Don’t need what brother? Help with your boots or something else?”
Johnny glared hard at his brother. “ What the hell you think?”
Scott glared back at his brother a second before dropping the reins and helping him get his boots on.
“ You know I can’t help but notice little brother that you are in a pissy mood ever since I told you that this Carl Mathis is coming to Lancer………..or is it his daughter that has you so foul?”
“ You really should mind your own fucking business Boston………….Barranca come here boy.”
Barranca walked over and seemed too know what his master needed as he turned around and stood as close as he could to the porch.
Johnny got his leg up in the stirrup and felt the pain in his back as he pulled himself up into the saddle.
“ Good boy.” Johnny told his friend as he patted his neck.
Scott swung up in the saddle and waited for his brother to start out. He had a sneaking feeling that Beth Mathis coming all the way too Lancer was not something his little brother was at all happy about. He hoped he was wrong on his suspicions as to why but his gut told him he wasn’t. If his gut was right then their father would most likely hit the roof and explode on his little brother.
About an hour from the ranch Scott noticed Johnny slouching in his saddle and Barranca had even slowed his walk down considerably. Moving up next to him he could see pain written all over his brothers face. His brow beaded with sweat but his skin was pail.
“ Johnny……….you alright?” he asked with concern.
“ No…..my back is killing me Scott.”
“ Stop then.”
“ And do what……..If I get down here I won’t be able too get back on Barranca.”
“ I knew this was a bad idea……Let me check your wound.”
“ It’s bleeding some……..I can feel it.” Johnny said stopping Barranca.
Scott lifted Johnny’s coat and a small patch of blood seeped through the bandage wrap and soaked his shirt.
“ It’s still an hour to the ranch……..Head to them trees over there……I need too check the wound.”
“ No…just keep me in the saddle till we get there.”
Just over an hour later the brothers rode under the arch.
Murdoch walked out of the house headed toward the corrals when he noticed the two riders approaching. Seeing that one of the riders was on a golden horse he silently cursed. He could tell Johnny wasn’t doing too good by the way his horse was walking slow.
“ Hank………..send someone too town and get Sam out here now.” he ordered.
“ Yes sir.” Hank answered noticing the brothers riding in.
Barranca walked right past Murdoch and practically into the house as close as he could get before stopping.
“ He tore the stitches….I don’t know how bad, he wouldn’t let me check. Scott said as he got off his horse.
“ What the hell is he doing on a horse?” Murdoch asked with anger.
“ He wanted to come here sir…I told him about mister Mathis coming here…..I tried to stop him but you know how Johnny is.”
Murdoch reached up and grabbed his son as he swayed left and started to fall off. Barranca side stepped away from them and headed toward the barn.
“ Grab his feet, lets get him upstairs and in bed. I sent a man for Sam…………What the hell were you thinking of telling him about that telegram?”
“ I didn’t think he would want to do this……..he had a right too know.” Scott fumed back. “ Maybe you should think about why * you * opened a wire that was clearly intended for my brother and not you.”
“ Josh never said it was for Johnny……..he just said it was important.”
“ So naturally you thought it was for you………The envelope had Johnny’s name wrote on it sir…….I seen it when you confronted me the other night.”
“ This is my house and I call the tune here……..I know the two of you are up too something………..”
Johnny began to moan and move around. Scott immediately moved to his brothers side.
“ Shhh…..it’s alright Johnny……just lay still. Sam will be here soon and sew you back up.”
“ Scott…….get him out.”
Scott looked at his father. “ You heard him……..I suggest you leave sir……my brother doesn’t need you upsetting him.”
Murdoch glared down at his youngest a second before turning and storming out of the room. The door slamming caused Johnny too jerk.
“ Guess he’s pissed huh?”
“ I am afraid it would seem so brother.” Scott answered as he poured some water. “ Here drink this…..it’s just water.”
Sam arrived and repaired the torn stitches. Only two but it put Johnny at risk of infection. He gave both brothers a piece of his mind before leaving, especially his patient. Johnny told him he had personal reasons he had too be here now instead of staying at the line shack a couple more days or week even to heal more before riding.
“ You know I don’t know why I bother fixing you up young man.” Sam started as he put his things away. “ It seems a waste of my time…..time you obviously don’t care about.”
“ Sam……….” Johnny started but was cut off.
“I don’t want to hear your excuses Johnny………I see you have more scars on your body now……I don’t know what happened in Mexico young man……..I can only guess from what I see on your body that it wasn’t good.” Sam said as he sat down on the edge of the bed.
“ I want you too listen too me and listen good………..I have known your father for a good many years….I delivered you in this room…..I know it’s not going well between the two of you Johnny…..I don’t know why you left and went back to Mexico, what I do know is that that man downstairs, even though he is hard does care about you……..He may not act it or show it at times, but he does. I could see the hurt in his eyes when you were gone.”
“ He don’t care about me Sam……..he told me and Scott that the past was the past…..that ain’t so in my case…..all he see’s in me is a killer…..I worked hard from sunup to sundown for him and it was never good enough….If I didn’t get a job finished he would bellow at me accusin’ me of slackin’ off…..he’s always tellin me I’m not responsible or trust worthy.” Johnny said as he picked at a thread on the blanket. “ I’m not the kind of son he want’s Sam…..He want’s a son like Scott, educated and smart. A son who didn’t do what I did too stay alive. A son he is proud of.”
“ You did what you had too do too stay alive…..Johnny you are a kind, caring good man…….You don’t hesitate too help others. You’re a hard worker and the three years you’ve been back her I as well as others seen the change in you.” Sam said with sincerity.
Johnny looked up at his friend with sadness in his eyes. “ Thanks…..seems you and Scott are the only two who don’t care really about my past…….All I want from him Sam is……….” Johnny couldn’t bring himself to say it as he went back too picking at the blanket.
“ I think I know what you want and I know it hurts Johnny. You two are so much alike it’s not funny.”
Johnny just shook his head.
“ Yes you are young man. You and Murdoch are just like each other. You’re both stubborn and won’t give an inch. I’m not making excuses for the way he treats you but you need to remember he didn’t get the chance to be a father to you growing up. That right was snatched from him. Give him a chance to be a father again……for me.” Sam asked as he stood up.
“ Kinda hard ta do when he has a set of rules for Scott and a different set for me Sam…..Hell he don’t introduce me as his son like he does Scott…..He says this is my youngest boy……He never ask me too go on business trips with him…I embarrass him Sam.”
“ Listen….promise me you won’t get on a horse or do anything until I say you can…….I don’t want to have to stitch that would up again….I got other patients who need me….I’ll stop by in a couple days and check on you. I want you to rest, drink plenty of fluids to get your strength back and eat what you can.”
“ Yeah……sure Sam……..Thanks.” Johnny said softly before moving down in his bed and laying on his right side too rest.
Joe rode along side the buggy as the three of them crossed under the Lancer arch. Stopping the buggy in front of the veranda. Joe dismounted as Scott walked out of the house.
“ Joe……..it’s good to see you.” Scott said enthusiastically.
“ Scott.” Joe returned as he held out a hand. “ I want you to meet my boss…….Scott this is Carl Mathis and his daughter Beth.”
Scott stepped over and extended his hand. “ Carl……my brother has told me a little about you…..welcome to Lancer,……….Beth…..Why don’t you come on inside I’m sure you are tired from your long journey.”
“ Thank you……..um where is Johnny?” Carl asked as he followed Scott into the house.
“ He’s here……..He’s upstairs resting as ordered by the doctor.”
“ Doctor?” Beth asked.
Scott stopped after stepping down into the grand room. “ Yes…….it would seem my brother rode back here from Wyoming with a bullet in his back.” Scott stated, then went on and told them what had happened.
“ Is he alright now?” Joe asked.
“ He still has numbness in his right arm and hand some but as the would heals Sam thinks he will get full use of it back……..Would any of you care for some lemonade or something stronger?”
“ Lemonade will be fine……….I need to talk to him if possible.” Carl stated as he looked around the room. He couldn’t help wondering where Murdoch was.
“ I’ll go see if he’s awake sir……..I’ll only be a minute.” Scott said before heading toward the stairs and stopping. “ Joe why don’t you go and bring their luggage inside?”
“ Sure Scott….uh where is mister Lancer?”
“ Murdoch rode to Green River to take care of some business there…….he should be back in time for dinner.”
Beth looked around the room as she made her way over to the map on the wall of Lancer. “ It’s big isn’t it father?”
“ Yes it is……Joe said it’s around one hundred thousand acres…….Johnny is a third owner.”
“ I don’t care about that. That’s not why I’m here……….please be good to him when you talk to him father……I know I disappointed you letting this happen between us.”
“ Now Beth we have already been through this…….I’m sure Johnny will do the right thing….He as a good head on his shoulders.” Carl said before turning when he heard Scott come down the stairs.
“ He’s awake sir and will see you.” Scott stated.
“ Thank you……could my daughter freshen up someplace?”
“ Sure……let me show you to the guest room upstairs…..it’s just down from my brothers room.”
Johnny heard several footsteps come up the stairs and down the hall. Hearing a soft knock before his door opened he carefully sat up more in bed wincing a little as the stitches pulled.
“ Johnny…….your brother told us what happened to you.” he said as he walked over to the bed and extended a hand.
Johnny took the mans hand in his a gave a firm shake. “ What brings you out here? Did my cousin do something wrong?”
“ No….no Joe’ a good hard worker……..*you * have some explaining to do though…..I think you owe me that much young man since I come home and find two hands dead in my barn and you gone……We tried to track you from your blood trail but lost it in the dark……..Why in gods name would you ride out of there with a bullet in you son?”
Johnny sighed then went on and told Carl how Buck and Thad called him out and what they said they were going to do to Beth. When he finished he looked down at his hands in his lap.
Carl listened to Johnny. He knew Buck and Thad didn’t like him and how Johnny had tried his best to avoid a confrontation with the two men. Sitting down in the chair next to the bed he could see the pain in Johnny’ face.
“ I told the sheriff and it was pretty clear from where the bodies were that you defended yourself………
Johnny I like to think of myself as a fare man……I believe everyone deserves a second chance if they really want it………..That first time I met you when you saved Beth and Martha I seen something in your eyes back then that not a lot of people see in you…….I know you know what that is……..Beth see’s it also.”
“ How is Beth?” he asked as he rubbed his right hand and flexed his fingers.
“ Tired from the long journey. Scott took her to a room to freshen up. I know she wants to see you.”
Johnny looked Carl straight on. “ Why is she here?”
“ You will have to ask her that……..listen to me Johnny…….When Beth comes to see and talk to you I want you to listen to her. I know you will but I want you to listen to her with your heart….not your mind……..Can you do that?”
Johnny was puzzled now. Listen with his heart?……..Why?…..Then the why hit him. “ Carl………”
“ No……….you don’t have to say it……..I already know…….You have a good head on your shoulders Johnny……..I know you will do what’s right after the two of you talk and Johnny………no matter what you decide to do it will not change how I feel about you.” Carl said as he stood up. “ I think I will go and freshen up some.”
“ Carl…….about Murdoch….he’s not going to be to happy you’re here.”
“ You let me worry about him Johnny……..Why don’t you rest up some before Beth comes to see you?”
“ Rest is all I’ve been doing.” Johnny said softly as Carl walked out. Scooting down into the mattress and sighing as he closed his eyes and let his mind drift back to Laramie and Cheyenne and into the arms of a girl he made a woman. Snapping his eyes open suddenly Johnny had a feeling hit him on why Beth came all this way. Carl said listen with your heart. To him that statement meant only one thing. Smiling if it were true, which he strongly suspected was Johnny knew what he would do as he snuggled down into the covers more and fell into a peaceful sleep.
“ So what do we do now pa?” Matt Hawkes asked as he untied his horse and mounted up.
“ We head to Wyoming……If Madrid is there he won’t be hard ta find.” Jesse Hawkes said.
“ Until we heard about that bounty on him in Mexico and this here in Colorado I thought Madrid was dead.” Cody Hawkes said as the three rode out of Denver heading to Cheyenne.
“ Just goes to show little brother ya can’t believe everything ya hear.”
Jesse Hawkes was a notorious bounty hunter. A man * not * to be trifled with. Having killed more than his share of men in the war between the states and riding with Quantrill’ Raiders. The man was ruthless and spared no life. Beating his victims was what he enjoyed doing the most.
Matt Hawkes twenty eight and as bad as his father on beating a man. The one thing Matt liked to do though was render his victims helpless by means of broken bones. Having rode along side his father at the end of the war and since Matt Hawked was getting a reputation as bad as his father.
Cody Hawkes all eighteen years worth didn’t look like much on the outside but the gun he wore on his hip proved many a man wrong. Deadly fast speed with the gun cost many men their lives. Cody was building a reputation for the way he would kill men sometimes. Between his shoulder blades he carried a knife with a six inch blade and with just as deadly speed and accuracy as the pistol he could throw the knife hitting his victim dead center of the heart.
“ You gonna let me kill him pa?” Cody asked.
“ No………….I’ll let you boys hone your skills and have some fun with him but Madrid stays breathin till we get to the border.” Jesse said firmly.“ It won’t be hard to find him if’n he’s around.”
“ Hell a half breed with blue eyes will stand out in this country.” Cody said with a smirk.
Johnny picked at his dinner lost in thought when Maria came back to retrieve the dishes.
“ You not eat good tonight Juanito.” she stated feeling his forehead. “ You need to eat so you get better.”
“ I know mamacita…..por favor lo siento………I just have a lot on my mind I guess.” Johnny said with a sigh. “ Is the old man back yet?”
Maria slapped his hand. “ He is your papa, Juanito. You should show him respect…….Si he is back freshening up for dinner………You rest now.”
“ Yes ma’am.” Johnny said as he gently kissed the back of her hand before she picked up his plate.
“ The young lady downstairs, she is quit lovely and very nice.”
“ Si, Beth is.” Johnny answered.
“ She is here to see you, no?”
Murdoch walked into the dinning room and found his oldest already seated along with Carl Mathis and a young lady.
Scott stood up. “ Um sir, I would like to introduce………”
“ What the hell are you doing here?” Murdoch asked with anger. “ You are not welcome in my house.”
Scott stood there in utter shock at the way his father was acting.
Carl stood up and faced Murdoch. “ I would appreciate it if you did not use that kind of language in front of my daughter……….As for me being here, I am here to see Johnny.”
Murdoch glanced at Beth. “ I apologize for my language miss. Just what business do you have with that boy?”
“ That boy has a name and it is none of your business.”
“ Sir Beth and her father traveled a considerable distance to see my brother…..They are guest of his as long as they are here.”
Murdoch glared at his oldest then at Beth. “ I assume *you * are the reason for this visit?”
Beth stood up and faced him. “ Mister Lancer, I was brought up to show respect for older people but I will not tolerate you talking to me in that tone. My business with Johnny is just that * mine *.” Beth stated firmly. “ Scott would you be so kind as to show me up to Johnny’s room so we may talk please?”
“ Why yes I will.” Scott answered as he stood up. He knew it could get heated between the two men and Carl’ daughter didn’t need to hear it.
“ Johnny’s bedroom is no place for a young lady to be left alone.” Murdoch stated firmly.
“ Mister Lancer…….I have been alone with Johnny and you know………….come to think of it, Johnny is more of a gentleman than you are right now.” Beth said before walking off with Scott.
Johnny heard the soft knock on his door before it opened. He knew who it was as he carefully sat up and leaned back against the headboard.
“ You have a visitor little brother.” Scott said as he opened the door more and allowed Beth to enter.
“ I will be downstairs if either of you need me.”
“ Thanks brother.” Johnny said with a smile as he looked at Beth.
Beth waited until Scott left before walking around the bed and sitting on the edge next to Johnny on his right.
“ Are you alright?” she asked.
“ Getting there……..Beth I’m sorry for the way I left. I was going to wait till you got back from town but……”
Beth placed her right fingers on his lips. “ Shhh it’s alright Johnny……I’m just glad that you are alright.”
Johnny reached up and took her hand and kissed it. Feelings he thought he would never feel again started to stir inside him. His heart he could swear was skipping a beat or two as his breath quickened.
Swallowing hard he let her hand go and reached up behind her neck. “ Come here.” he said as he gently pulled her down so he could claim her lips. Moaning aloud at the feel of her soft skin as he deepened the kiss sliding his tongue inside her mouth.
Beth stopped breathing for a second or two as Johnny kissed her hand. When he moved his hand up behind her neck she knew what was coming and welcomed it. Passionate yet gentle as her tongue inter twinned with his. Running her hands up his chest and around his back she pressed herself into him as the heat started building.
Johnny broke the kiss off and tried to get his breathing under control. “ Beth……I……we need……we need to stop.” he managed with a struggle.
Beth put a hand to his left cheek. “ I need to talk to you Johnny.” she told him as she sat up.
“ Yeah, Carl said you wanted to….What about?”
“ Us.” Beth stated flatly. “ Johnny……I. * sigh * This is harder than I thought.”
Johnny could tell Beth was struggling and possibly scared to say what he suspected so taking a chance he said it.
“ Beth…….you’re carrying my child ain’t you?”
Beth looked at him with both shock and relief. Nodding her head as tears welled up and threatened to fall.
“Come here.” Johnny said as he reached to pull her down to his chest. “ I kinda suspected it was that….. Listen to me….Beth. I see only one solution to this but I need you to understand fully the risk that comes with it.”
“ I know the risk Johnny……I don’t want you doing anything you don’t want to do.”
“ Hold it…….stop right there. You didn’t get this way on your own…..This is my fault and I take full responsibility for it……..Do you want to get married?”
“ What do you want Johnny?”
“ I want that child to have my last name. He or she may have been created out of lust but it will only know love from both it’s parents……..married or not.”
“ You are quit a man Johnny Madrid Lancer.”
“ As soon as Sam clears me we can get hitched.”
“ I am not getting hitched mister……..I am getting married.”
“ I stand corrected.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth again hungrily.
Murdoch stood outside Johnny’s room listening to what was being said. Blood boiling he pushed the door open without knocking.
“ That will be enough of that kind of behavior under my roof.” he said firmly and with anger. “ Young lady I will not have this kind of behavior in my house. I think you better leave now.”
“ She doesn’t have to leave my room old man…….you do.”
“ You do not tell me what to do in my own home boy.” Murdoch yelled back as Scott and Carl both came in. “ Get your daughter out of here now.”
Johnny swung his legs over the bed and stood up with just his long john bottoms on. “ Apologize to Beth right now old man or so help me.”
“ What?” Murdoch demanded as he walked around to face his youngest. “ You better remember who you’re talking to and where you are at boy.”
“ Oh I know perfectly well where I’m at.”
“ Enough.” Scott yelled. “ Johnny you need to lay back down Sam doesn’t want you out of bed yet….
Beth, Carl would you two please go downstairs.”
“ Beth ain’t goin no where. She has more right to be here with me than he does.”
“ Why……so you can dishonor her in my house?……..I told you you were irresponsible boy and getting her with child proves it.”
Scott’ mouth fell open as he looked at Beth. “ So besides opening the wire that was for my brother you have also taken to listening in on private conversations I see as well sir.” Scott stated.
“ Yeah, I dishonored her and Carl knows it. I know what I did was wrong old man and I will do what’s right by Beth and * my * child because you know what………..That child she’s carrying will not grow up unloved by it’s father. He or she will not be a disappointment to me like I am to you.” Johnny said with a quiver in his voice. “ At least Beth will accept me for who I am unlike you.”
“ Johnny….that’s enough.” Scott said.
“ No Scott…..no it’s not………You know tell me something old man………what the hell was it when you took my mother to bed huh………..neither of you were married and you got her pregnant with me. Wasn’t that just * you * satisfying your carnal lust using my mother?”
“ I want you out of here now…….get off my land.”
“ Nope. Ain’t happening old man. I’m a third owner of this ranch so I’m staying right here……Scott when was it our lawyer was bringin them papers out?”
“ Saturday………..I invited him to the party and he said he would bring them with him then.”
“ Black Mesa to Cedar Canyon will be Double L property and my horse ranch.”
“ You will not split what I worked a lifetime to achieve. Lancer will not be split apart…….I’ll take you to court if I have to.”
“ Go ahead and try and stop me from taking what is rightfully mine. Go ahead and try because I got me a powerful thirst old man and I’m sick and tired of doing without……..I was born on Lancer and here is were I am staying.”
Scott couldn’t help but feel pride inside for his brother standing up to their father the way he was right now. Looking over at Carl and Beth he motioned for them to move away from Johnny toward the door. Beth pulled away from her father and went and stood next to Johnny putting an arm around him.
“ Johnny’ s not to blame for my condition mister Lancer…..If anyone is to blame here it’s me. I’m the one who pursued him.”
“ He should have turned you down and courted you the proper way. Johnny only thinks about himself and what he wants and not about others involved or the consequences involved for his actions. Just like them whores you keep with in town……You’re irresponsible and not trustworthy.”
Johnny could feel his heart breaking more from the way his father was talking but he wasn’t about to back down. He had had enough.
“ You know I thought you were a man of your word?……You told me coming back from New Mexico that I could start a horse ranch and now that I have a contract with the army and will be making good hard earned honest money I didn’t have to hire my gun out for……you don’t want it………….Why?…….Is it because that contract has Johnny Lancer’ name on it or is it because all you see is Madrid?”
Murdoch glared at Johnny a minute before turning and walking out. A moment later the front door could be heard being slammed shut.
Johnny turned and dropped down onto his bed and tried to control his emotions.
“ I think Johnny needs to be alone right now Carl……Beth.” Scott stated.
“ I disagree Scott.” Beth said as she went and sat down next to Johnny. “ Would you leave us alone please?”
“ Come on Scott…….I’m going to have a word with that man.”
“ Carl don’t.” Johnny said loudly startling everyone. “ Let it be…….for me please.”
“ I can’t stand by and watch someone I care about be treated like that Johnny. Especially by your own father.” Carl said firmly.
“ It’s alright…….por favor.”
“ Alright Johnny. I will this time.” Carl said before walking out.
Johnny and Beth talked until the early hours of dawn about what they planned to do. Johnny told her he would show her where he wanted to build his cabin when Sam released him to ride.
Saturday arrived and Scott brought the lawyer up to Johnny’s room so he could look at the papers. After reading them Johnny sat in the chair by his window looking down at all the people attending the party. He could see his father talking to a man whom he assumed could only be the Governor from the way he was dressed.
“ Johnny…do you want to still do this today?” Scott asked.
Johnny looked back down at the papers in his lap then at his brother.
“ I can’t do it Scott………I’m sorry.” he sad softly as he handed the papers back to the lawyer.
“ Can I ask why?” Scott asked.
“ I just can’t…….that’s all.”
Scott was a little upset but could understand. He knew that his little brother really had a lot to contend with right now with a marriage coming up and a baby on the way. He also knew that even though he would never admit it, he knew Johnny was hurting deep down inside for the way their father was being toward him. Being raised by his grandfather Scott never knew what it was like to not be loved. Sure he wondered about his father growing up when old enough, but he still had an adult figure in his life for positive influence and teaching.
“ Alright, if that’s how you feel little brother.” Scott said as he glanced at their lawyer.
“ I’d like to be alone now.” Johnny said softly as he stood up and walked over to his bed.
“ Okay……I’ll check on you later.” Scott stated as he and the lawyer headed to the door.
Sam released Johnny to light work two weeks after the party. He could tell something was weighing heavy on his usually chomping at the bit patient upon his final check up. He could tell Johnny was lost deep in thought or depressed. Trying to no avail to get his patient to talk to him Sam put his things away and left. The few years he had known this man he thought of like a son troubled him when he couldn’t prescribe something to stop the pain he knew Johnny was feeling. Learning the news of both a marriage and baby on the way Sam thought his patient would be happy, should be happy, but with a father as hard headed as Murdoch could be he knew that * that * was the source of Johnny’s solemn mood.
Johnny showed Carl Angel and Stormy who now belonged to his brother and had given birth to a little stud colt looking like his mother.
“ Carl……..I need to talk to you about something.” he said softly.
“ Go ahead….you know you can trust me Johnny with anything you say.”
Johnny walked over and sat on a bale of hay. “ It’s about my father.”
“ Okay.” Carl said walking over and sitting down next to him.
“ What you told me he did in Mexico……Shocked me but thinking on it and something he told me and Scott…….I can’t do it…..I can’t bring myself to hurt him like he has me.”
“ I’m not sure I’m following you Johnny.”
“ My horse ranch….his past…my past…….I used to hire my gun out to men who like Murdoch spent a lifetime building something and was willin ta fight to keep it….I can’t fight him for a piece of land that never was really mine to begin with…..My name may be on that piece of paper as third owner but I know it’s just that……a piece of paper. Hell you touch a match to it and it’s gone just like he want’s me.”
“ Johnny…I can’t tell you what to do…only you can decide that. What I can tell you is to always stand behind your decision and never look back. You do and it will only bring heartbreak.”
“ Looking back is all he seems ta do when it comes to me Carl…….I originally came her almost four years ago to kill him because I believed my mothers lies about him……..I have enough money in the bank I can take care of Beth and the baby…That’s all that matters to me any more. If he want’s me gone from Lancer then me and Beth will leave and go someplace where johnny Madrid isn’t known and I can do what I wanted to do here…..Put my past behind me.”
Murdoch walked to the barn and stopped just outside when he heard his youngest son talking to Carl. Standing there listening to what his boy was saying and clearly hearing the sadness and pain in his voice caught the big man off guard. Knowing his son knew about Mexico and was willing to accept it and let it go and not use it against him he couldn’t quit understand. Hearing his son say he was willing to just walk away from everything he was rightfully owed and only cared about his soon to be wife and unborn child, Murdoch realized just how wrong he had been in judging his son. Johnny was a grown man and responsible. Responsible for his past and present and willing to throw his future as a third owner of the largest ranch in the San Joaquin valley away to be a husband and father. Walking back to the house Murdoch sat down at his desk and thinking about what he had just overheard.
Johnny and Beth were married the following week and to everyone’s surprise his father presented them with a deed to the land Johnny wanted to start his horse ranch on. Not one for showing his emotions Johnny as well as his brother was shocked and couldn’t help but wonder why the sudden change in his father’s attitude toward him.
That night he couldn’t help but lay in his bed holding Beth as she slept thinking about his past, present and now future at Lancer. He also couldn’t help but be a little scarred that again he would lose his wife and child. A father. If told four years ago or even farther back that he, Johnny Madrid would be a father he would have laughed at whoever said it. Now though it was true and the proof was laying next to him sleeping. Feeling himself start to arouse Johnny started running his hand up and down Beth’ back causing her to stir awake. Reaching down he pulled her chin up so he could kiss her.
“ I love you Elizabeth Lancer.” he said as he pulled her on top of him and made passionate love to her.
The three Hawkes men rode into Morro Coyo and with little trouble were able to find out that Johnny Madrid was in deed there. What they also learned was that Madrid now went by the name of Lancer.
Finding this out they now headed toward Lancer and the man they would have fun with while taking back to Mexico.
Spotting there quarry riding with a woman at his side the Hawkes men followed waiting for their chance.
Johnny and Beth lay on a blanket in the shade of a huge oak tree listening to the birds as they sang in the distance.
“ It’s beautiful Johnny.”
“ Not as beautiful as you.” Johnny said before kissing her forehead. “ Come on, I have something else I want to show you.” Johnny said as he stood up and helped Beth stand. Hearing the birds had stopped singing every sense went on alert. Reaching down to his gun.
“ I wouldn’t do that if I was you Madrid…….not unless you want that new wife to die!” a man’s voice yelled from the tree’s.
Johnny moved his hand away from his gun. Hearing his name called he knew this was again his past coming back to him.
“Little woman I want you to take his gun out and toss it away……you so much as move Madrid and she’s dead.”
Johnny looked at Beth. “ Go ahead.”
Beth did as she was instructed with fear in her eyes.
Johnny watched as three men rode out of the tree’s and up to them.
“ Cody tie him up.” Jesse ordered.
Cody got down and pulled a small piece of rope from his saddlebags and bound Johnny’s hands in front of him.
“ What do you want?” Johnny asked.
“ You Madrid……you’re worth two thousand dollars to me and my boys here in Mexico. The rurales want you back and are willing to pay nicely for your return.”
Swallowing hard Johnny glanced at Beth. “ Let her go.”
“ Oh I don’t hurt women Madrid…..I may be a cruel man but I don’t hurt women who are with child.”
Johnny snapped his head up and looked at him. “ Just who are you?”
“ Why I’m Jesse Hawkes and these are my two son’s Matt and Cody.” Jesse said. “ Go get his horse so we can start our little journey Cody………..Now I know you’re gonna ride back to the house and tell what happened little lady but you keep this in mind. If I see anyone following us or anyone tries to get him back he will be the first one to die….Get on the horse Madrid.”
Johnny looked at Beth before being shoved to Barranca and mounting up. Riding away from his wife he silently prayed Beth would be left unharmed.
Beth waited until Johnny and the three Hawkes men were out of sight before going to her horse and mounting up. Kicking the horse into a gallop she headed to the hacienda and help.
Scott and Murdoch were working on the books when they heard a hand shouting and the sound of a horse running into the yard. Hurrying to the open doors and seeing it was Beth, alone both got a sick feeling inside.
“ Scott….Murdoch you got to help him…….They took him.”
“ Who Beth?” Scott asked.
“ Johnny….they took Johnny.”
“ Calm down and tell us what happened.” Murdoch said sharply.
“ Three men…….said they were taking him back to Mexico.”
“ Who were they?”
“ He said there name was Hawkes.”
Scott got a bad sick feeling just then. “ Jesse Hawkes?” he asked.
Beth nodded. “ Said Johnny was wanted in Mexico by the rurales and he had a two thousand dollar bounty on him………They said that if they seen anyone or anyone tried to get Johnny back that he would be the first to die.” she said as tears fell from her eyes.
“ That’s not happening……I want you to go inside and calm down………..We will get Johnny back.” Murdoch said firmly.
Beth headed inside praying her husband would be brought back to her alive.
“ You heard of this Jesse Hawkes son?”
“ Yes sir…..from the war….He rode with Quantrill’ raiders and is ruthless. His youngest son Cody is good with a gun and knife, Matt is as brutal as his father on torturing a man……Johnny will not make it to Mexico alive sir.”
“ Johnny isn’t going back to Mexico……Let’s get mounted.” Murdoch said firmly as he headed for the barn.
Thirty minutes later Murdoch and Scott were mounted and headed to Black Mesa to pick up tracks. They had a couple hours daylight left but the men who took Johnny had at least a three hour lead on them.
Murdoch and Scott rode hard to get to Black Mesa. When they got there Scott found the tracks of the four horses easy enough headed south. As the sun started to disappear behind the mountains Scott stopped and got down from his horse.
“ What’s the matter?” Murdoch asked.
“ The tracks are gone…….these guys are good. It’s like they know we are following them and the ground just swallowed them up sir.”
“ That can’t be…..there has to be tracks.”
“ I know but they’re gone.”
“ Damn it.” Murdoch said wit anger.
“ we know they are taking Johnny to Mexico and headed south but they could cross the border anywhere. They could be going east or even west right now sir. It’s getting dark and the terrain gets pretty rough farther south.”
“ I don’t give a damn about the terrain………I want that boy back……..alive.”
“ I know that sir………..I do as well but if we keep pushing these horses like we have been they are liable to break a leg and that will do my brother no good.”
“ I know son.” Murdoch said as he took a swig from his canteen.
“ There’s a stream not far from here we can camp at for the night. I stayed there when following Johnny and Joe.”
“ Alright…….these horses could use a good rest……..mind you I am not going home without my son………I almost lost him because of my………”
“ Why did you do it sir?”
“ Do what?”
“ Give Johnny that land for his wedding.”
“If I tell you you won’t get made at me will you?”
Scott mounted back up. “ No sir.”
“ I overheard him and Carl talking in the barn a week before the wedding…..That is why I went to Spanish Wells the next day. I needed to have the papers done in time for the wedding……..I know it was wrong listening to them talk but what I heard your brother tell that man I don’t think I would have ever expected to hear him say.”
“ Just what did he say sir?”
Murdoch looked at him. “ Well son like you will not betray your brothers trust and tell me what you two talk about…….I will not tell you.”
“ It’s not the same thing though. Johnny did not tell you whatever it was he said.”
“ It is the same to me.”
“ Fare enough………I take it that Johnny does not know of this?”
“ No………..no he doesn’t………That boy is going to watch his child grow up and be the father I never got the chance to be to him….or you.”
“ You know sir…….you underestimate my little brother sometimes and as I have learned…….* that * is a mistake……….One thing Johnny never does is draw to an inside straight I believe is how he worded it to me once.”
“ Your brother has a different way to word things that’s for sure” Murdoch stated as they headed to the stream to make camp.
Johnny was sore tired and he could tell Barranca was also getting tired and irritated with being pushed the way he was. Silently he prayed his stallion didn’t break a leg on the rocky terrain he was making his way over.
“ Hey pa…….it’s getting pretty dangerous ground ta be ridin over in the dark…..If his old man is following us he won’t be able to track us at night.”
“ He won’t be tracking us any how……..I covered our tracks real good……No way they will find us before we reach the border and cross.”
“ So that’s what you were doin back there.” Cody said.
“ That’s right son…….I’ll let them follow for so long before I rid them……..We’ll camp here…..Matt you get a fire going after you take care of the horses……..Cody you watch Madrid…..and I mean watch him boy.” Jesse said firmly as he got off his horse.
“ Oh I ain’t about to let two thousand dollars get away from us pa……..besides I’m lookin forward to some fun with him.” Cody said with coldness in his voice as he took Johnny’s pistol and aimed it at him.
Johnny was jerked off Barranca by Jesse and the stallion snapped his teeth at the man.
“ Barranca no.” Johnny said.
Jesse stepped back and glared hard at the horse. “ He tries that again and I’ll put a bullet between his eyes.”
“ Move.” Jesse ordered as he shoved Johnny to a tree after taking his rope off the saddle.
“ I got ‘im pa.” Cody stated.
Jesse threw an end of the rope over a branch about twelve feet above and tied the other end to the rope around Johnny’s hands and pulled until his feet were barely touching the ground.
“ Have a good sleep Madrid.” Jesse said as he tied the end off around the tree.
Johnny did the best he could trying to relieve some of the strain on his wrist and back muscles. His wound even though it was healed up now protested. Tired, hungry and thirsty Johnny closed his eyes and shut out the sounds of the night and the voices at the fire twenty feet away.
“ Looks like Madrid ain’t so bad any more does he Cody?” Matt asked his little brother.
Cody glanced over at the man hanging from the tree. “ I ain’t scared of him tied up or not. He bleedss and can die just like anyone else.”
“ Yeah…….I heard Madrid has been tortured while growing up. The rurales did a number on ‘im and look at Laramie. He rode out of there with a bullet in his back and lived.”
Cody stood up and started toward Johnny.
“ Son…….I don’t want him dead yet.”
“ He won’t be pa.” Cody said with a grin that even the devil himself wouldn’t believe.
Walking over to Madrid who kept his eyes closed Cody picked up a stick and prodded Johnny in the stomach with it.
“ Time to wake up and have some fun Madrid.”
Johnny opened his eyes and glared at the kid standing in front of him. He noticed his pistol stuck in the boys belt. Closing his eyes again he wasn’t going to bother with this kid who thought he was tough.
Cody got angry when Madrid refused to look at him any longer. Hitting Johnny in the stomach hard.
“ Don’t you ignore me half breed…….You look at me when I’m talking to you.”
Johnny opened his eyes again as he sucked in air from the punch. “ Untie me and lets see how tough you are then kid.”
“ Oh I’m tough…….I’m plenty tough. You don’t scare me one bit Madrid.” Cody said as he took Johnny’s pistol out and worked it around in his hand. “ Nice……real nice. Hair trigger, cut back holster. Sight filed down……..I heard you’ve killed over fifty men who called you out…….is this the gun you used?”
Johnny refused to answer and received a slap to the face splitting his bottom lip. Glaring hard at the kid he summoned Madrid fully now as he looked at his pistol in the boys hand.
“ Just so you know boy……..I will be getting that gun back from you.”
“ Oh is that so?………..And just how you gonna do that Madrid?”
“ I will and when I do I’m going to enjoy killing you with it.”
“ Hey pa you hear that?…………Madrid here says he’s gonna get his gun back from me and kill me with it……..ain’t that a hoot?” Cody said with a laugh.
“ Teach him some manners Cody.” Matt said.
Cody aimed the pistol at Johnny and pulled the hammer back. Looking right in Madrid’ eyes he seen it. Seen what all the other men who faced the business end of Madrid’ colt seen. No fear, just stone cold blue eyes staring back at them. Eyes that could make a mans blood run cold. Pulling the trigger Cody watched as Madrid didn’t even flinch. He just glared at him like he wasn’t afraid.
“ I accepted death a long time ago boy……….Have you?” Johnny asked with ice in his voice.
Cody stepped up to him and tucked the pistol back in his belt. “ I ain’t afraid ta die……….pa says if a man is then he ain’t a man……Matt says he heard you been tortured by them rurales and such growin up……..That you’re real good at takin pain. Lets see just how tough you are.” Cody said before he started punching Johnny in the chest, ribs and back.
Johnny mentally prepared himself for what he knew would be coming. Biting the inside of his mouth to stifle a moan when several blows hit his wound. Pain shot up through his back and arms as he was swiveled around. When Cody grabbed his hair and pulled his head back, Johnny spit blood onto the boys face.
“ That the best you can do?” he asked with coldness.
Cody wiped the blood from his face and glanced at his father and brother. “ Oh I can do better breed.” Cody said as he pulled his knife and put it to Johnny’s throat.
“ Cody.” Jesse yelled. “ I want him staying alive son.”
Cody ignored his father as he pressed the blade until blood started to trickle down the front of Johnny’s throat.
“ Cody…….damn it boy………..get away from him now.” Jesse ordered.
“ You and me are gonna finish this Madrid real soon………I’m gonna cut you from your dick to here.” he said pressing the knife into Johnny’s throat more.
“ Boy don’t make me come over there.” Jesse said standing up.
Cody lowered the knife then brought it back up just under Madrid’ left eye on his cheek bone and flicked the blade cutting his cheek open.
Johnny didn’t let his fear show, he couldn’t, but deep down inside having his throat cut was not the way he wanted to die. Feeling the blood trickle down and soak into his shirt collar. When the blade came up to his left cheek the cut happened so fast his anger burned more. The only thing he could do to defend himself since his hands were tied was lash out with his feet and that’s what he did. Grabbing the rope he pulled himself up just enough so he could lash out with his feet and caught Cody square in the chest sending the kid backwards on his ass.
Cody wasn’t expecting Madrid to attack him since he was tied up like he was but when he found himself suddenly on the ground gasping for air he found out the hard way not to underestimate Madrid.
“You sonofabitch.” he said angrily as he scrambled back to his feet.
Jesse moved fast and grabbed his son as he went for Madrid. Swinging him around. “ Get your ass over there with your brother now.” he ordered.
Cody picked up his knife and looked at Johnny hard. “ You’re a dead man.” he said before walking away.
Jesse walked up to Madrid. “ Nobody put’s a hand on my boy’s….nobody.” he said before hitting Johnny hard in the face snapping his head back.
Johnny knew from the look in the mans eyes he was in for it for what he did to the mans son. Feeling the blow to his face he welcomed darkness as he lost consciousness.
Murdoch and Scott were up and ready to ride as the sun started to break on the horizon. Mounting up neither Lancer said a word as they headed south.
“ What happened when the three of you were in Mexico son?” Murdoch asked after a couple hours.
Scott stopped his horse and undid his canteen taking a swig. “ His uncle sold him out to the rurales…..they were waiting for him when we got there. Johnny had a feeling something was wrong but still rode in.” Scott stated as he put his canteen back. “ When he got off his horse he was shot in the leg….tied to a fence and whipped.”
Murdoch boiled with anger as he listened to his son describe how Johnny was betrayed by his own family. “ Your brother has been betrayed by his own family for the last time…….I will kill that man if I ever see him again.” he said with anger.
“ What about you sir………..you also have betrayed my brother in more hurtful ways than you realize.”
Murdoch looked at him. He knew deep down what Scott was saying was true. He had been a disappointment to his son. A father is supposed to love and protect their child. He didn’t get that chance with Johnny growing up. His son didn’t have a father to love him and keep the bad away.
“ I know how I have treated your brother was wrong son……..I never got a chance to be a father to either one of you growing up….maybe that’s my fault…..maybe it’s not……….I can’t take away the bad that your brother has had done to him by others……….or me………all I can do is try and be the father he wants.”
Scott looked at his father and could see the sadness in his eyes. “ Sir………I think you need to start with telling Johnny what he want’s to hear you say………….Tell him and I believe that that will be the breaking point……….Nobody is perfect…including you.”
“ And you son………what did you do to get your brother back from the rurales?”
“ I did what I had to do sir……..and I would gladly do it again if need be.”
Murdoch knew with that firm statement that his oldest had murdered men to free his brother. “ So am I safe to assume that * you * are also wanted in Mexico now son?”
“ Probably…….I don’t know.”
Johnny hurt all over. The insects biting his skin in the early morning sun irritated him as he swatted at them. The smell of his own blood staunched his nose. His arms were sore from his dead weight hanging on them after passing out last night. Matt Hawkes woke him up by slapping his face reopening the cut.
Keeping Madrid surfaced helped fuel his need to not give up. Thinking about his wife back home and their unborn child, a child he hoped and prayed he would get the chance to see and hold and be a father to stayed on his mind. Barranca kicked out at Cody’ horse when it came up on his right causing him to grab the saddle horn.
“ Facil amigo. No les de una excusa para lastimar. Van a tener las suyas muy pronto.” ( Easy amigo. Don’t give them an excuse to hurt you to. They’ll get theirs soon enough)
“ What did you say breed?” Cody demanded.
Johnny looked at him coldly. “ I told him your not worth the time of day.”
Cody swung and knocked Johnny from the saddle. Jumping down he sprung on Johnny and started hitting him in the face.
Johnny grabbed Cody’ coat and with his legs pushed and flipped the kid over his head flat on his back. Rolling over and scrambling to his feet as Cody also got up he swung and caught Cody in the jaw sending him to the ground again.
Cody was mad. Not once but twice Madrid had put him on his back. Looking at his father as he got up a second time to see if he was going to stop the fight.
“ I taught you better than that son……You started it now finish it.” Jesse stated.
“ Yeah little brother you gonna let a half breed kick your ass?” Matt asked.
Cody lunged at Madrid catching him in his midsection driving him backwards into a tree hard. Knowing he had the upper hand for this second he swung and hit Johnny hard then grabbed his head and slammed it back into the tree before bringing his left knee up catching Madrid in the groin dropping him to his knees bent over gasping.
Johnny took the impact of the tree the best he could. With his hands tied he was limited on how he could fight. When Cody slammed his head back into the tree his eyes blurred as he felt the blow to his groin. Dropping to his knees in pain trying not to throw up.
Cody kicked Johnny hard in the ribs and delivered several more blows before his feet were knocked out from under him and he went down hard.
Johnny put the pain aside and lashed out with both arms hitting the youngest Hawkes below the knees dropping him. Scrambling he got his arms around the boy and started choking him when he was hit in the back by a rifle butt then jerked off Cody and kicked a couple more times in his ribs as he tried to roll away from the blows.
“ Enough.” Jesse yelled as he walked over to his youngest and helped him up. “ Matt bring him here.”
Matt yanked Johnny up and jerked him over to Jesse. Standing there bloody and hurting badly Johnny didn’t give an inch.
“ You want some of the same old man?” he asked spitting blood at Jesse’ feet.
Jesse smiled. “ You got guts Madrid……..You fight pretty good with your hands tied but……..not good enough.” Jesse said with a tone that would fear any other man, but Madrid knew his kind. “ Let’s see how smart that mouth of yours is when I’m killing you in a couple days.”
Matt brought Barranca over and tossed the rein over Barranca’ neck.
Johnny knew his brother was tracking him. He could feel Scott. Some how, some way he had to slow them down. When Matt brought his horse over he seen the only chance he would get. The outcome of what he was about to do for him wouldn’t be good but it had to be done.
“ Barranca go……….find Scott.” Johnny yelled as his stallion bolted and took off running.
“ Damn it stop him……..get that horse.” Jesse yelled at his sons but Barranca was already gone by the time the brothers mounted up and took off.
Jesse glared at Madrid.” You just made a big mistake breed………my boys don’t come back with that horse……….you walk.” Jesse said before hitting Johnny in the face.
Murdoch and Scott rode in silence as they searched the ground for tracks. The sun up well into the morning sky. A meadow lark sang in the distance from a shrub bush.
“ I’ve made mistakes with your brother and the way I have treated him since he came back to Lancer.” Murdoch said breaking the silence. “ I vow to you son when we get your brother back I am going to do whatever I have to do to make it up to Johnny.”
Scott looked at him. “ Johnny isn’t one who trust easily sir…….. he has had people he thought were his friend betray him…..his own family betrayed him……his uncle sold him out for his horses and you….you betrayed him for the sake of Lancer…..If you are wanting his trust……..that you may never get again.”
“ I know that and I can only blame myself…….I kept telling him he wasn’t responsible but…….even though the way it happened was wrong with Beth and the baby on the way, but your brother stepped up and was willing to walk away from Lancer and give up everything to be responsible for her and the baby. As far as his uncle betraying him that I can do nothing about but if I ever see that man again.”
“ I’m not the one you should be telling this to sir…………you have possibly done irreversible damage between the two of you…….I learned a lot of things in the war from men I fought beside but one thing I learned from my grandfather sir is that every man deserves a second chance at redemption if he really wants it……..Johnny does and on countless times he tried to with you but you threw him to the wolves so to speak. If you think giving Johnny that land will make up for that…….I’m afraid you are wrong.”
“ I didn’t get to be a father to either of you boys growing up. Maybe that’s my fault, maybe it’s not , it’s in the past and all I want now is what future I have left with * both * my sons.”
Matt and Cody galloped back without Barranca. “ We couldn’t catch that damn horse of his pa.” Matt said.
Jesse looked at his two sons then Johnny. “ Guess you walk boy………Move.”
Johnny smiled inside because he knew his stallion wouldn’t let him down. Walking in this heat would slow them down like he wanted. From the direction they are headed he figured Sonora was where they intended to turn him in, or his body at least. Horseless he figured six days if not longer they would reach the border. Looking down at his raw bleeding wrist and feeling the pain from the fight he vowed that if it was the last thing he ever did he would kill these three * before * they reached the border, well before. No food or water for a day now began taking it’s toll on his battered body. Hair down to his shoulders from not being cut for over a year, he was surprised the old man didn’t say anything about that. Beth liked it and she was all that mattered in his life. That is if he made it back to her alive. Used to be he was used to going without food or water, but these last few years he’d become soft with both always an arms reach away. Precious liquid ran down into the cut below his left eye, his neck and wrist and burned as the sun beat down on him.
Jesse rode up beside Madrid and with his left foot he kicked Johnny between the shoulder blades hard sending him sprawling to the ground.
“ Keep moving breed or I’ll drag you.”
Johnny stumbled back up and glared hard at the man before walking again.
“ Pa at this speed a posse’ gonna catch up to us.” Matt stated.
“ Let ’em cause Madrid here will be the first one to die.” Cody said as he jumped down with his rope and tied it to Johnny’ wrist. “ Let’s see if you like this breed.” he said coldly as he got back on his horse and moved out.
Johnny grabbed the rope trying to stop the rope binding his wrist to not cut into them any more but it didn’t work. Being jerked forward he barely managed to stay a foot following behind the youngest Hawkes.
That night when Jesse ordered him to stop Johnny dropped to his knees exhausted and weak only to be dragged several feet over rocks as Cody laughed.
“ Don’t recon he’ll be tryin ta run off tonight.” Cody said as he dismounted.
“ I ain’t takin no chances…….Tie his ass to the tree. Secure him real good boys.” Jesse ordered. “ I’m gonna check our back trail and see if we’re bein followed………….Cody leave him alone, understand?”
“ Sure Pa…….I can wait.”
“ Give him some water……….no food though.” Jesse hollered back as he rode away.
Matt threw his canteen down in front of Madrid. “ Drink breed…….we don’t want you dying just yet.”
Johnny slowly reached for the canteen expecting it to be taken away from him. Removing the cap was a challenge with his hands bound so he placed it between his knees and got the cap off. Bringing the spout up to his dried cracked lips he relished the first drops of the precious liquid as it ran down his dry throat. Taking several gulps he had to force himself to slow down so he wouldn’t get sick.
“ That’s enough breed.” Cody said as he went to take the canteen from him.
“ Leave him be Cody……….you heard pa.” Matt ordered.
“ Yeah I heard ‘im.” Cody said before he kicked Johnny in the shoulder knocking him backwards.
“ Damn it Cody……Knock it off.” Matt said with force.
Cody looked at his brother then grabbed Johnny by the hair and pulled him over to a small tree and shoved him back against it. Cutting the rope from his wrist Cody tied Madrid’s hands behind the tree tight then put rope around his throat and tied it off. It was so tight that if Johnny’s head fell forward his air would be cut off and choke him. Standing Cody smiled down at his victim.
“ Any time you want a bullet in the head to end this Madrid you just say so and I ‘ll oblige ya.” he said before kicking Johnny in his side and walking away.
Johnny desperately wanted darkness to claim him away from the pain but tied like he was he knew tonight would be a long one.
A lone rider spotted a beautiful palomino drinking from a small pool. It was clear the horse had been running as dried sweat could be seen as well as the horses flanks and neck were still wet.
On closer approach the man got a sick feeling inside. He recognized the horse. “ Barranca” he called out. The stallion raised his head and looked at the man. “ Easy amigo………..it’s alright boy.”
Barranca stepped to the man as water ran from his mouth. “ Where’s Johnny at boy?………I know he wouldn’t let you go and it’s pretty clear to me you been runnin boy and hard.” the man stated as he checked the saddle. Finding blood on the left stirrup his sick feeling deepened as he tightened the cinch and remounted his horse and headed south leading the stallion.
Murdoch and Scott rode well into the night with another day of frustration. Still unable to find any tracks. Scott could see how this was affecting his father. Inside he hoped his father meant what he said about Johnny this time but he also knew Johnny would not trust his father ever again, not like a son should.
He’s still alive sir……..I know it.” Scott said.
Murdoch just looked at him with sadness. The man had aged it seemed since this began.
Val Crawford found tracks of three horses and a man on foot stumbling along two days after finding Barranca. Val had met Johnny Madrid in San Diego. Madrid wasn’t more than fifteen, if that and stood in the street facing two men, both of whom he shot down so fast Val couldn’t believe it. He had heard rumors of a kid making a fast name for himself as a gunfighter and that day he witnessed it. The two ended up signing on together during a range war some months later and became fast friends. When the y went their separate ways they crossed paths a couple more times then Val heard the rurales had killed Madrid. This he soon learned was not true, much to his relief. Then two years ago he heard that Madrid had himself a family in California. A father who had been supposedly searching for his son all these years and of all things, a brother. An older brother from Boston from what Val had learned. He was shocked to say the least when he learned that the fastest gun in the south and now west was a part owner in the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin valley. His compadre, a kid those years ago hell bent for leather to make a reputation and name for himself now owned a third of a ranch of one hundred thousand acres.
Val was brought back to the present with the cocking of a rifle.
“ Hold it right there mister………You so much as twitch and I will shoot you.” Scott said firmly.
“Get down off that horse real slow.” Murdoch ordered.
“ I’m afraid if you gent’s are lookin ta rob me I ain’t got no money.”
Scott walked up and checked. “ It’s him sir……It’s Barranca.”
“ Where did you get this horse?” Murdoch demanded with firmness.
“ I found him loose. He’d been runnin a while though from the sweat on ‘im………why what’s it to you?”
Scott drew his gun and aimed it at the man. “ It happens to be my brothers horse mister.”
“ Brother……….Johnny Madrid owns this horse and I knows it cause I rode with ‘im.”
“ Lancer…….his name is John Lancer now.”
“ Well I will be damned……..you’re his old man he talked ’bout hatin so much an wantin ta kill.”
“ Just who are you mister.”
“ Names Val Crawford…….I found Barranca loose two days ago and picked up these tracks of three riders and one on foot………….I was followin them when you stopped me……..care ta tell me just what is goin on?” Val asked.
“Val Crawford…..Johnny told me about you…….told me how you two met.” Scott said.
“ Look I can see ya got your doubts. Johnny ever tell you how some kid stabbed him just ta see what color his blood was because he was a halfbreed?”
Scott lowered his gun. “ Yes he did………I’m sorry….Three men took my brother and intend to kill him before crossing into Mexico.”
“ Why they takin him to Mexico?” Val asked.
Scott proceeded to tell Val and could see the hurt on his face when told about his uncle betraying him.
“ You said you were following tracks mister Crawford?” Murdoch asked.
“ Val…….and yes I was…….three men are riding and one is stumbling along on the ground……..He leaves a blood trail sometimes but the direction is easy ta follow and if these men are taking Johnny ta Mexico for a bounty then it would stand ta reason they will take him ta Cordova ta collect.”
“ Jesse Hawkes and his sons are brutal………they will kill Johnny before he gets into Mexico.” Scott said.
“ Johnny may be half dead now from the way his tracks are and the blood………I heard of Jesse Hawkes and your’n right they will kill ‘im. Cody Hawkes is dangerous and fast both with a gun and a knife.”
“ This Cody Hawkes……….is he faster than Johnny?”
“ Well mister Lancer I ain’t seen Madrid for a few years so I can’t really say……I do know that Madrid is the fastest in the south and this Cody could outdraw him maybe……It’s not somethin’ I would want to see Johnny do….facin this kid they could both get kilt.”
Murdoch swallowed a lump. “ I’ll kill any man hurting my son.”
“ Guess ya be killin a lot of men then cause Johnny has had a lot of hurt growin up.” Val said as he got back on his horse. “ Course you wasn’t around and hell I’m surprised you’re still breathin.” he said before moving out.
Murdoch glared at Val’ back before turning and looking at his son.
“ I think sir that Val knows things about us on misgiving.” Scott stated as he got back on his horse.
“ That man better be telling the truth about knowing your brother in a friendly way.”
“ He is sir. What he said about Johnny being stabbed when a kid is the same thing Johnny told me.”
Murdoch couldn’t stop the sick feeling he got. His youngest son stabbed by another kid just to see what color his blood was was appalling.
Johnny stumbled and went down on his knees. His body was weak from very little water and no food. All three Hawkes men took pride in eating in front of him every night for the past five days now. Struggling to get up on weak shaky legs he was violently jerked forward causing a sharp pain in his wrist. With everything he had left for strength he grabbed the rope when it slacked and yanked. Cody wasn’t expecting it so Johnny couldn’t help but smile slightly when he jerked the kid off his horse completely.
“ You sonofabitch.” Cody said as he went for Madrid when he got up. Kicking him viciously in the ribs.
Johnny tried to block the blow but couldn’t with his hands tied. Moaning aloud as he felt a rib give way.
Scrambling as best he could he got up on his hands and knees to get up but was again kicked in his ribs causing him to roll onto his left side and curl into a ball gasping for air.
“ Enough son………I know you want to kill him but me and your brother want some fun with him first.” Jesse said as he got off his horse.
Val stopped his horse and got down. Looking around on the ground the tell tale signs were right there. Blood on the ground and on the trunk of a small cottonwood tree. Val could tell from the prints how Johnny was secured to the tree, most likely for the night.
“ They camped here last night.” Van said feeling the blood was still sticky.
Murdoch walked over. “ That blood?” he asked knowing the answer already.
Val looked from Murdoch to Scott. “ Yeah seems they neck tied him around this tree last night. From the stickiness of this blood I’d say they can’t be more than a couple hours ahead. Hard riding will catch us up to ’em. The borders not far.” Val said wiping the blood on his pants and getting back on his horse.
“ You up to some hard riding?” he asked looking at Murdoch.
“ I want my son back.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ He may be dead already……you prepared for that?”
“ Yes damn it……….and god willing if he’s still alive I will kill every last one of them for hurting him.” he stammered.
Val looked at Scott. “ Does he know this Jesse Hawkes and what he does to his victims?”
Scott nodded his head. “ He knows.”
“ We’re wasting time…..Lets move.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Wait a minute……Are you prepared for the condition Johnny will be in if he’s still alive?”
“ I will deal with it at that time now lets go.” Murdoch ordered.
Jesse walked over to Johnny and grabbed the rope securing his wrist and yanked him up and hit him in the face hard snapping his head back. Laughing he continued to hit him until Madrid couldn’t stand any more.
Suddenly a shot rang out and Jesse drew his gun and spun around. Matt and Cody drew also looking around for where the shot came from.
“ Touch him again and you’re dead……..move away from him now.” Murdoch yelled.
“Do it now.” Scott yelled.
Jesse moved toward Johnny and fell dead as a bullet slammed into his chest.
“ Kill Madrid Cody.” Matt ordered as he shot toward the voices while moving to cover.
Cody scrambled to Madrid and wrapped an arm around him as he put his gun to Johnny’s head. Three men walked into view.
“ Stop……..I swear I will kill him.”
“ Put the gun down and you can live…….You kill him and I swear you will die as well.”
“ I mean it………I’ll kill him…….You bastards killed my pa.”
“ You and your brother will die also if you don’t drop your guns now.” Scott said cocking his rifle.
Matt took aim and fired hastily. Murdoch fired his rifle hitting Matt in the left side of his chest.
“ Cody…….I’m hit……I…….” Matt never finished as he fell to his side dead.
Scott had a sick feeling inside at the sight of his brother. Face swollen and bloody. His wrist raw and bleeding from the rope around them.
“ Back off or he’s dead.” Cody stated firmly as he struggled to keep a hold on Madrid.
Scott stepped closer. “ You kill my brother and a second later you’ll be dead……..Think about it Cody, your pa and brother are dead. Do you want to join them?”
Cody glanced at his father laying dead mere feet away then his brother. Lowering his gun he released his hold on Johnny and tossed his gun away.
Murdoch walked over and slugged Cody in the face knocking him backwards.
“ No don’t.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ Leave him alone.” he ordered as he stumbled over to his brother. “ Cut these ropes off me.” Johnny demanded holding his wrist out to Scott.
Scott cut the ropes and was appalled at the rawness of his brothers wrist.
Johnny glanced at his brother a second before walking over to Cody. Reaching around for his colt Cody had tucked in his back. “ Scott get my belt off his horse.”
Scott got the gun belt and handed it to his brother. “ Don’t do this.”
Johnny ignored his brothers plea.
“ I told you I would get this back from you and kill you with it.” Johnny said with ice. “ Give him his gun back.” he ordered.
“ Johnny no……..you can’t do this……it’s suicide. You’re in no condition to do this.” Scott pleaded.
“ Son please……look at you….you can barely stand up……..Don’t do this…..We have him he’ll go to jail for what he has done to you.”
“ Jail old man………..you think I give a fuck if he goes to jail……….Get away from him now.” Johnny said as he strapped his gun on around his slender hips.
Murdoch stepped over to his son. “ Johnny please.”
“ Get away from me old man……If he kills me then you won’t have me around any longer to disappoint and embarrass ya.” He said checking his colt. “ Come on boy you was so tough before lets see just how tough you are now……..Let’s dance.”
Murdoch felt someone take a hold of his left arm, looking he seen it was Scott.
“ Come on sir…..this is something Johnny has to do.”
“ I ain’t drawing on you Madrid.” Cody said.
“ Yes you will…..you don’t and I’ll still kill you.” he said with coldness as he struggled to stay standing.
Cody could tell he had no choice but to face Madrid. Slowly moving to check his gun as well he slid it back in the holster and took stance facing Madrid about twenty feet away.
Johnny knew this could go wrong and could barely manage to stand but after all he had been put through in the past week he wanted nothing more. Hell all the abuse he had received in the past growing up and the men he had faced, none of them he wanted to kill as bad as he did this one. Usually Madrid tried to get out of a gunfight, not this time. This time he pushed the kid into it.
“ If you knew one thing about me boy, it’s that I don’t lie. I said I would kill you and I will…..You’ll be dead just like your piece of trash father and brother are laying over there.”
“ Fuck you Madrid……..I’m not doing this.” Cody said as he put his hands out away from his gun.
Johnny drew and shot Cody in the right leg dropping the kid screaming in pain. Walking up closer. “Draw damn you…face me like the man you said you were or die a coward.” Johnny said shooting him again in his leg.
“ Oh mother of god stop him please.”Cody pleaded.
“ Johnny stop…..this is murder son…….Think about Beth and your unborn child.” Murdoch pleaded.
Val did nothing. He knew from the look in Madrid’s eyes that nobody could stop him. He stood ready if his friend needed back up.
Scott seen it also…….the look his brother had. A look of anger, rage hatred and many more things put in one look in his eyes. Dead, that’s what they were. Soulless eyes. Eyes with no feeling or life in them right now. Eyes that turned his blood cold.
Murdoch stepped up between the two. “ Stop it Johnny.” he ordered as he helped Cody stand up. “This is murder son and you are not a cold blooded killer…….Let the law have him.” he pleaded.
For one faltering second Johnny heard his father and lowered his colt.
“ You sure about that?” he asked.
Then faster than Val or Scott could think a man in his condition could do Johnny brought the colt up and shot Cody between the eyes.
“ Johnny no.” Murdoch yelled as Cody fell dead at his feet.
Johnny stood there a few seconds before falling to the ground weak and in pain. It took every ounce of energy he had left to kill Cody. Now he was done in and ready to give up.
Scott hurried to his side. “ Easy brother I got you.” he said as he wiped Johnny’s bangs away from his face. “ Bring some water here and bandages so we can stop this bleeding.” he barked.
“ We’re to close to Mexico…..we need to get him out of here and now.” Val said firmly.
“ He can’t ride in this condition…….it will kill him. We need to get these wounds cleaned up and stop the bleeding.
“ Look rurales probably heard those shots and if they were close enough they may have heard that it’s Madrid here so get him on a horse and lets get out of here now.” he ordered firmly.
“ Rurales can’t cross the border.” Scott stated.
Murdoch got on his horse. “ Put him on my horse.” he said.
Scott and Val got Johnny up on Murdoch’ horse and mounted their own and rode out into the darkness away from the border and the three dead bodies.
Murdoch, Scott and Val listened to the doctor in Yuma intently as he explained Johnny’s injuries and what would be needed to be done over the next few days. Johnny had several badly bruised ribs but the main concern was the injuries to his face. Both eyes swelled almost completely shut. The cut below his left eye would leave a small scar as would the cut on his throat. When told that that cut was clearly made from a knife as was the one below his eye Scott had to swallow to keep the bile down. The thought of his brother having a knife to his throat and having it cut gave him shivers. He would never be able to comprehend his brother and how he could survive all he has had to in his short life so far.
Johnny’s wrist were both wrapped in heavy cotton bandages after the doctor cleaned them out good with carbolic acid. The left wrist the rope had dug clean through to the bone. When Scott asked the doctor if his brother would be able to use his hands or wrist like before the doctor couldn’t give a definite answer as to the extent of the injury to them and how well they would heal up.
Val Crawford became very protective of his friend as he lay helpless fighting for his life. He and Scott took to talking to each other as they sat waiting for Johnny to wake up. Val didn’t talk much to Murdoch when the man came to see his son. Mainly because Scott told him some of how Murdoch had treated Johnny over the past few years. Learning that Johnny had a wife and child on the way caused Val to grin from ear to ear.
“ Well I will be damned……Madrid done got his self hitched and a kid ta boot.” Val said as he poured a glass of water.
“ Lancer……It’s Lancer now not Madrid.” Scott stated.
“ Lancer huh…..Let me tell ya somethin’ Scott…..Ol’ Johnny there spent a good long time building up a reputation as the fastest gun south of the border and like it or not he is. Just like he is Madrid and always will be…….You can change his last name…hell you can call him God it don’t matter……….he will always be Johnny Madrid gunfighter.”
“ I know perfectly well who my brother is……..I also know Johnny wants nothing more than to leave his past behind and live a normal life.”
“ Yeah….well I guess you know that he’s old for a gunfighter, retired or not……Most don’t get the chance ta live as long as he has.”
“ Old….Johnny is barely twenty four.”
“ An’ that is old in the life of a gunfighter. Most don’t live past twenty.”
“ What about you…..No disrespect intended but are you not old for one also?”
“ I ain’t no gunfighter son……Oh sure I hired out and worked range wars and such with Johnny but I ain’t a gunfighter. I stay on the side of the law and I told Johnny there that. Told him never cross that line and become a wanted man. The minute you do it’s over.”
“ And the other day?” Scott stated. “ Didn’t my brother cross that line when he killed that Hawkes boy?”
“ You tell me that you wouldn’t have done the same thing……that if it were you you wouldn’t have kilt that boy?”
“ That boy didn’t draw on my brother…He should have been taken to the law.”
“ I don’t condone what Johnny did…….but he didn’t commit murder.”
“ No……..he was just judge, jury and executioner.” Scott said as he took a cloth and wiped his brothers face down gently.
“ You’re not from here……out here ya got a do it ta them before they do it ta you…….The sooner ya realize that Scott ya might live longer……….That boy laying there is your brother…….a brother I know Johnny wanted more than anything way back……he didn’t come out and say it but I could tell……He wanted an older brother ta protect him…..an a father.”
“ I would give anything to have been in his life back then protecting him Val…I cannot do anything about our father and the way he is toward him, but he will always have me * now * to watch his back.”
“ And that’s good……he don’t trust easy…..Hell even after I saved his sorry hide an’ dug a bullet out a him he didn’t trust me none to soon.”
“ Trust……I am afraid that is something Johnny and our father will never have.”
“ Not if your old man broke it between them…..Johnny is easy ta forgive but not when someone hurts ‘im and breaks that trust……Him and his father may get along but from what you have told me, he won’t ever trust his old man again……I’m gonna go git somethin’ ta eat…….You want me ta bring you somethin’ back?”
“ No…….I’m fine.” Scott said looking at his brother. “ Val…….Thank you.”
“ Fur what?”
“ For being a friend…….Johnny doesn’t have many.”
“ That’s because a gunfighter can’t afford to……he may end up facing that so called friend and killin’ ‘im.” Val stated before leaving the room.
Murdoch stood and watched the doctor clean and re-bandage Johnny’s wrist. The swelling on his face had gone down considerably but the bruises were deep and dark. Just over a week now since getting his son back alive he wondered when he would regain consciousness.
“ His wrist are healing up nicely. The left one troubles me some though. That rope went clean to the bone. He may have trouble regaining use of it.”
“ What about his right wrist doctor?” Murdoch asked with concern drawing a look from Scott.
“ It’s hard to say just yet. I think with time he will gain then use back.”
“ When can I take him home?”
“ He really shouldn’t be riding for a couple weeks yet. Those ribs were badly bruised.”
“ Look doctor I’m grateful for all you have done for my son but I see no reason why he has to stay here a couple more weeks.”
“ Mister Lancer, your sons ribs as I said were badly bruised not the pain he will have from them wil be the same as if they were broke. He has no business riding a horse.”
“ What about a wagon?”
“ A wagon……….good god sir a wagon would be worse than riding a horse. Every rock and bump will be very painful to him…..No I suggest you give your son time to heal a little before thinking about going home……..Now I have other patients who need me so if you don’t mind.”
“ Thank you doctor…….my brother will get the rest he needs before riding.”
“ At least another week and even then if you do leave I strongly suggest you wrap his ribs up tight to help relieve some of the pain.”
“ Thank you again.” Scott said as he walked the doctor out of the room.
Murdoch stood there looking at his son who in the past couple days had barely moved. He knew Johnny was given very little water and no food the whole time he was gone. He suggested the doctor put a tube in to get liquids down him but this doctor it was quit clear was nothing like Sam back home.
Sitting on the edge of the bed Murdoch gently brushed the bangs away from his sons eyes.
“ I have done you so wrong son….Please wake up and let me see those blue eyes……..Please don’t leave me………..I realize now just how much I do need you and want you son but I can’t tell you if you don’t wake up.” Murdoch said as he heard the door open and Scott walk back in. Standing back up.
“ He needs to wake up so we can get fluids into him…….Have you or Val been trying?”
“ No sir we have not because he needs rest…….The doctor told you that.”
“ I’m perfectly aware of * that * doctor and what he said young man……I also know your brother needs to wake up.”
Scott stepped over next to Johnny. “ It seems to me that * you * claim you know what he needs when in reality you don’t……..How can you even consider wanting to take him home yet?……….Look at him, he’s in no condition to be on a horse yet.”
“ Don’t tell me I don’t have what’s best for your brother in mind…….That so called doctor if he had any sense would have put a tube down your brother to get fluids into him. He’s dehydrated. We don’t know how many days he was made to walk and you can bet he has had no food the whole time so don’t take that tone with me.”
“ You only care about what Murdoch Lancer wants and to hell with everyone else sir…….If you cared at all about Johnny you would have never treated him like you did in the past since he came to Lancer.”
A moan drew both men’ attention to the bed. Johnny pressed his head down into the pillow clearly in pain as he struggled to open his eyes.
Scott moved to his brothers side and sat down. “ Johnny……come on little brother open your eyes.”
A sledge hammer, that’s what it was behind his eyes, in his head. A sledge hammer and Barranca sitting on his chest Johnny thought as he opened his eyes only to shut them again and suck in breath from the pain. Even that hurt.
‘ Damn what the hell happened to me?’ he thought. Then it all came flooding back to him. The Hawkes men, walking in the desert………Val.
‘Val? Wait a minute I must be losing my mind.’ Johnny thought as he listened to the voices. ‘ Brother’ Scott was there and the old man, he was sure he heard him and Scott arguing about something, probably him. It seemed that that was the only time the two of them did argue was about him. Opening his eyes Johnny moved his hands up to his face. Heavy and pain, why did his left hand and wrist hurt so much? Looking at them he noticed the bandages and how his left wrist was wrapped more and the bandage had blood soaked through it. Not a lot but it was there none the same.
“ Johnny…….can you hear me brother?” Scott asked as the door opened and Val walked in. “ He’s awake Val.”
Val walked over to the bed and stood next to Murdoch. “ Hey amigo, it’s about time ya open them eyes…..thought maybe ya was gonna sleep forever.”
“ Val.” Johnny mouthed then licked dry lips.
“ Here son, drink some water.” Murdoch stated as he poured some and handed it to Scott.
Lifting his brothers head gently Scott tipped the glass as his brother drank the welcomed cool water eagerly.
Johnny looked hard at his brother after finishing the water, then his father. Words came back to him that seemed like they were just spoken.
“ Cold blooded killer.” He said looking hard at Scott.
“ What?” Scott asked as he sat the glass on the bedside table.
“ I heard you…….brother…….Get out……get out and leave me alone.” Johnny said as he tried to sit up.
“ Johnny……I………..” scott started as he stood up.
“ Get out Scott…….you two old man…..I don’t need you…either of you.” he said getting upset.
“ Son calm down.” Murdoch said as he sat down next to his son when Scott stood up.
“ You got what you wanted old man……Johnny Madrid a cold blooded killer…..that’s what you always thought I was…..Get out and leave me alone.”
“ Son please……me and your brother came after you to bring you back home…..Calm down and I’m sure everything can be explained.”
“ Don’t need explaining…just need the two of you out.”
Val had heard enough. Johnny was getting more upset. “ I think maybe the two of you had better leave Johnny alone like he asked.”
“ You don’t tell me what to do……Johnny is my son and I have a right to…….”
The sound of a gun being cocked was unmistakeable. Looking Murdoch, Scott and Val found themselves looking at the business end of Johnny’s colt.
“ Maybe you don’t hear so good old man I said get out.”
“ You dare pull a gun on me………..I’m your father.”
“ Only when it suits you.”
“ Come on sir……..Let’s leave him be for now.” Scott said as he stepped back toward the door. “ We’ll come back later.”
“ Go home……brother.” Johnny said with anger. “ Go home both of you and leave me alone.”
“ We are not leaving here without you.” Murdoch said firmly as he stood up.
“ Yes you are old man…..you got no say in my life….I don’t need you or him.” Johnny said as he looked at his brother with hurt in his eyes.
“ Fine…….am I to assume that you are not coming back to Lancer and your wife and unborn child?”
“ You leave my wife out of this……at least Beth accepts me for who I am.”
Murdoch grabbed his hat and stormed from the room with his oldest slamming the door behind them.
Nine days later Val and Johnny rode together out of Yuma even though the doctor didn’t really care for his patient leaving yet by horse especially he didn’t try to stop him. Having learned just who his patient really was the doctor was in fact glad inside.
Stopping for the night along a stream Johnny groomed his stallion’s coat down as Val set up camp.
“ I see you still take better care a that horse than ya do your self.” Val said when Johnny walked over and sat down next to the fire.
The nine days alone after his brother and father left the two spent catching up on old times and what each had been doing. Val was the only man Johnny would tell anything too. The man had his respect and was the only true friend he knew he had and could always count on.
“ He’s a good horse.”
Val sat down. “ So you got yourself a wife and kid on the way?”
“ Yeah.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Why don’t ya spit it out kid?………Tell this old man just what it is that’s eating you up inside.”
Johnny looked across the fire at his friend and smiled. “ You always could read me better than anyone.” he said stirring while his coffee. “ He don’t want me as a son……..not really. He said the past is the past but not when it comes to me.”
“ That’s not it Madrid….spit it out or so help me I’ll come over there and kick your sorry ass.”
Johnny smiled slightly. “ No…..no it’s not…..I never thought he would think that of me.”
“ Your brother right?”
“ Yeah…..I thought Scott would be one person who understood me.”
“ well hell Johnny….what did you expect him to feel? You walked up to that kid after cripplin’ him and shot him in the head……He never once went for his gun…….the Madrid I knew would have never done that. Not on his worst day.”
“ Maybe that’s because you got no real idea like them just what Madrid is capable of doing……Maybe I’m sick and tired of everyone thinking I’m different……Maybe Val I am a cold blooded killer.” Johnny spat back.
“ that’s bullshit and you know it Johnny……..Oh sure you was hell bent on makin a name fer yur self at first but I know that you are not a cold blooded killer…..an’ you knows it to so don’t try an feed me that line of crap.”
“ Well what the fuck am I supposed to do Val……How am I supposed to feel when I have an old man who see’s me that way and now a brother……What the fuck am I supposed to do when a marshal shows up and arrest me for a murder I didn’t commit and my old man right then assumes I’m guilty…….Answer me that.”
“ You got a lot of anger inside you kid…….anger and hurt….Scott told me some of what’s happened and how you been treated……..Let me ask ya this Johnny………If it’s so bad why do you keep going back there?……You was in Wyoming but you went back……..Why?”
Johnny glared at Val. “ Because all my life I did without……I got nothing from that bastard and I’ve had my fill of it.”
“ And I’m tired of living by my damn gun.”
“ And there it is…….the real reason…….that colt on your side. Take the damn thing off and live your life.”
“ I can’t and you know it……I’ve been called out right there at the ranch Val…….I take this colt off.” Johnny said pulling the pistol out. “ And I’m a dead man…….Fuck you know that……..They want to reputation of killing Madrid. They don’t care if I’m unarmed or not.”
“ Boy you can’t have yur cake an eat it too.”
“ What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“ It means either live with the choices you have made or give up……..I’m not condoning what has happened between you and your father and brother….I’m sayin to live by the code that you told me way back that you live by……Don’t cross than fine line Johnny and become one of them.”
Deep down inside Johnny knew that what his friend just said was the truth. Had he crossed that fine line and become like the others? Pardee had crossed that line and he had witnessed it first hand. Big Nose Kate, Doc Holiday, Billy the Kid. They and others like them had crossed that thin line at least once. Hell even his own father had crossed that line in Mexico long ago. Had his brother also crossed that line during the war? One step forward just to take two steps back was the way Johnny was feeling right now. Madrid clearly had taken control that day more than he ever had. He would have never walked up to a man and after wounding him, shot that man in the head like he did Cody Hawkes.
Always staying on the side of the law and trying to talk a caller out of trying to kill him had always been something he did. Now though Johnny couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever do that again. Once you killed a man it became easier to pull the trigger. This he found was true after killing the man who killed his mother when he was but ten.
Murdoch and Scott rode into the Lancer yard and got down off their tired horses. Beth came out and met them with sadness in her eyes.
“ Where’s Johnny?” she asked with concern.
“ Beth……Johnny is coming back with a friend of his.” Murdoch told her as he headed to the house.
“ Why didn’t he come back with you two?……..Scott?”
“ Johnny needed some time alone Beth…….Listen to me Beth…….What Johnny has been through changed him……….he’s not the same.” Scott stated as he put his hands on her arms.
“ Changed?…….what do you mean Scott?…..he’s coming back to me isn’t he?”
“ To be honest Beth……I don’t know if he is.” he said before walking into the house.
Beth stood there in shock and wonder as Scott walked away. Putting a hand on her stomach her heart told her that her husband would come back to her. He loved her, this she was certain. Johnny wouldn’t abandon them, something happened that Scott wasn’t telling her and deep down inside she felt it was something bad. Something that she would have to find out from Johnny when he came back to her. Turning she walked back in the house and went to their room to shed tears of sadness unseen by others.
Johnny practiced drawing every day on the trip home. His right wrist was getting better but the left one still had to be bandaged and he couldn’t really flex it like the right one. Sam would check his wounds and tell him how to get it better. This he knew. One day out from Lancer, but on Lancer property Johnny stopped Barranca and got down at the top of a hill overlooking a valley south of the hacienda.
“ Something wrong Johnny?” Val asked.
“ No……just admiring the view………Pretty ain’t it?”
“ Yeah……so when do we reach Lancer?”
“ You’re on Lancer old man.” Johnny said. “ One hundred thousand acres Val…….A third owner of that much land……Who’d a thought that Johnny Madrid would be a part owner of the largest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin valley huh?”
“ Well me for one. Especially when I first met ya.”
“ Yeah……Come on Val I want you to meet my beautiful wife.” Johnny said as he moved Barranca down the hill.
Johnny and Val rode into the Lancer yard as the sun started to crest over the hills. Handing Barranca off to a hand Johnny glanced around then looked inside the grand room. A lamp was burning softly casting shadows as the sun’s imminent presence became known. Opening the front door he and Val stepped into the foyer and he removed his hat and coat but not his gun and hung them on the rack. Hearing voices coming from the kitchen he walked softly into the room and found both his father and brother sitting at the table deep in discussion about the days activities. Beth was sitting on his fathers right across from Scott. Standing there Johnny glanced at Val before speaking.
“ Maybe I should leave and come back.”
Beth jumped up and hurried to her husbands side taking him in hers arms.
“ Johnny…..oh I knew you would come back to me……I knew Scott was wrong.”
Johnny gave his brother a hard cold stare. “ Wrong about what?” he asked after kissing the top of Beth’ head.
“ Son…..Maria set two more plates on the table please.” Murdoch asked as he stood up. He noticed his son still had his gun on, but chose to not comment on it. “ You look tired…sit down…..Val you to, sit down and get something to eat.”
Johnny just stood there holding his wife. “ I asked a question…..What was big brother wrong about?” he asked again with firmness toward the end.
“ You brother……I was wrong about you coming back here.” Scott said standing up.
“ Why wouldn’t I?……..It’s my home and my wife is here.”
“ So it is……Father if you will excuse me I’m going to go saddle my horse and get a start on moving those cattle with the men out by Black Mesa.”
“ Black Mesa is my land….brother…No cattle graze on that land……That’s mustang land and Double L property.”
“ Son we need to move the herd there for a couple weeks is all. The lower pastures won’t be able to sustain them till the fall.”
“ So my horses are to be sacrificed on feed…….Tell ya what old man since I own that land all legal like and you’re a business man I’ll charge you a dollar a day for your cattle grazing on my land.”
Murdoch glanced at Scott. The veins in his forehead could be seen indicating he was getting riled.
“ Now see here Johnny….I am not paying you a dollar a day for our cattle to graze on Lancer land.”
“ Well now you see old man that’s just it…….That ain’t Lancer land, not any more. That’s Madrid Land and it’s Madrid on the deed to it, which I believe was your doing so it’s either a dollar a day or I shoot any cows on my land.”
“ Surely you’re jest brother?” Scott asked.
“ If that means am I serious…brother….then yes I am.”
Val couldn’t help but feel a little pride as he witnessed Johnny standing up for himself against his father.
“ Uh Johnny….I think I’ll go outside. This is a family matter.” Val stated.
“ Hold it Val…….You are family……Hell you been more family to me than these two……Besides I’d like you to meet my wife………Beth this is a very close and dear friend of mine Val Crawford….Val this is Beth Lancer…my wife.”
“ I’m pleased Val……Johnny told me some about you back in Wyoming.”
“ Ma’am Johnny didn’t quit tell me the truth about you. Why you’re prettier than he said you was.”
Beth blushed a little as she extended her hand and Val kissed the back of it. “ Why thank you Val.”
“ Alright you two……If you’re through flirting with my wife old man…….Beth would you kindly show Val to a guest room upstairs please?”
“ Sure…….Val would you follow me?” Beth said as she went to move past her husband only to be stopped.
Johnny gently grabbed Beth’ arm and pulled her to him and kissed her on the mouth firmly and with passion reserved for in private. He didn’t care who seen or what they thought about it. He had missed his wife and if anyone knew just how scared he was that he would never see her again alive. They wouldn’t have believed it.
Beth flushed when Johnny broke off the kiss and whispered in her ear about tonight before she left with Val.
“ I would appreciate you conduct yourself in a proper manor in my home. That was inappropriate behavior young man.”
“ You think I give a damn what you……….or you think about me and how or where I kiss my wife.” Johnny said.
“ Just a minute Johnny………I don’t much care for this attitude you have come back here with…..I call the tune in this house and any time you don’t like it you can take your wife and leave.”
“ Oh we will be leaving…….Just as soon as my wrist are healed up I’m gonna start building our cabin……until then me an Beth will be living in the north line shack which is on my property so you might want to think about buildin another one for your hands off my property cause I’m gonna offer that one to my cousin Joe when he comes back.” Johnny said before turning to leave.
Scott grabbed Johnny’s arm stopping him. “ Kind of full of yourself aren’t you little brother?”
Johnny looked down at his brothers hand on his arm. “ Unless you want it broke, let go……brother.” he responded snidely.
“ Maybe you would like to try……..in fact maybe we should just step outside and settle this between us.”
“ Now hold on……I will have no fighting between the two of you.” Murdoch ordered. “ You’re brothers.”
Johnny glanced at him right before swinging and catching Scott on his cheek with his right.
Scott went down hard from the blindsided blow. Getting up fast. “ What the hell was that for?” he demanded.
“ That was for sayin what ya did to Beth you sonofabitch……..you had no right telling her that.” Johnny stammered before hitting him again with a downward blow again to Scott’ right cheek. “ And that’s for calling me a cold blooded killer………….you or anyone ever call me that again and I just might prove you right.”
“ What the hell would you call the way you killed that boy…….it was in cold blood and you know it Johnny.”
“ How about you I bet you did your share of killin in the war and not all of it was legal.”
“ Stop it both of you now.” Murdoch ordered as he got between the brothers.
“ I followed orders Johnny……..I didn’t cripple someone only to walk up to them and put a bullet between their eyes………You are a killer.”
“ I’d be careful of what you say I am brother……..I just might prove you right in a way you won’t like.” Johnny said before walking out of the kitchen and upstairs to his wife.
Four weeks went by and Sam cleared Johnny for work. Fall would be fast approaching and he had a hundred and fifty horse to break for spring delivery. Having hired six men looking for work to build his corrals and help with the cabin so it would be done by the first snows. Johnny and Beth had moved out of the Lancer main house just like he said three days after returning. Val stayed for a couple weeks but declined Johnny’s offer to stay the winter. Said he was going below where it didn’t snow and promised to return in the spring to see the baby.
Beth could tell her husband had changed since coming back to her. Johnny and Scott used to be close and now the brothers didn’t see each other at all. Johnny stayed away from the main house, spending most of his time fencing off his land from Lancer. Johnny was out checking the dam when a rider came in. Beth looked and found it to be Scott.
“ Where’s Johnny?……..I need to speak with him now Beth.”
“ Well maybe if you asked in a nice way Scott I would tell you. But since you didn’t I have nothing to say to you so if you don’t mind I am busy getting the nursery ready. Good day.” she said before turning and going inside.
Scott jumped off his horse and grabbed her arm spinning her around. “ I asked you where Johnny is.”
“ Let go of me, you’re hurting me Scott.”
“ Tell me where he is Beth.”
“ He’s up at the dam with some men.” she said with tears in her eyes.
Scott let go of her arm and went to his horse, mounted and rode away.
“ Johnny will get you for what you just did to me.” she screamed from the porch.
Johnny rode into the yard and got down from Barranca. He started to walk his friend to the barn when Beth came out and ran to his arms.
“ Boy…..you sure are a sight for a tired man little lady.” Johnny said as he wrapped his arms around her tight. He could feel her trembling. “ Hey what’s wrong Beth?”
“ Nothing, I’m just glad you’re okay……..I missed you.” she said before kissing him passionately.
“ Wow…maybe I should spend more time away from you if this is how I get greeted coming home.
“ Take me Johnny……..make love to me please.” Beth asked as she rubbed his hardening cock.
“ Oh man baby that feels so good. Let me take care of Barranca right fast and I’ll meet you inside.”
“ No……….here in the barn right now.”
“ Right here?”
Beth nodded as she undid his pants and took his shaft in her hands and stroked it.
Johnny threw his head back and relished the feeling he was having from his wife touching him. He loved the way she would play with his hardness with her tongue and run it up and down his shaft. Reaching down Johnny pulled Beth’ dress up and found what he wanted beneath, hot, wet and very ready for him. Working his hand and fingers he made Beth climax right there before bending her over so he could take her from behind while standing up.
Thrusting as hard as he could Johnny spilled his seed deep inside her as he pulled her head back and delved his tongue deep in her mouth.
Beth moaned into his mouth as she felt him jerk with his release inside her. “ Oh yeah Johnny do me, make me yours.”
Johnny thrust hard until he could release no more. Spent from an exhausting day of labor and now a fast but not last romp of sex, his body was spent. Turning Beth around he kissed her with fire and passion as he backed her up against a support beam and pulled her dress up in the front again. That’s when he noticed the bruises on her arms.
“ What happened?” he asked with concern.
“ Nothing……it’s nothing……..really.” Beth lied.
“ Those are from a hand Beth……..who did this to you?………Who dared to rough handle you?”
“ Johnny please………..I don’t think he meant to…….he came here looking for you.”
Johnny turned to Barranca who was still saddled and checked his cinch before swinging into the saddle.
“ Johnny please don’t.”
“ Nobody puts marks on you Beth………..Nobody.” he said before putting his spurs to Barranca and galloping away.
Beth became frightened. She knew what was going to happen when Johnny got ahold of his brother, she just hoped Murdoch could stop them.
Johnny galloped Barranca into the yard and see Scott coming from the barn. Reining his horse toward him he dived off grabbing Scott around the shoulders knocking him down. Rolling when he hit the ground Johnny came back up and lunged at Scott driving his head into his chest sending him back into the corral fence busting right through it. Horses shied and ran away kicking and bucking to the other side of the corral.
“Johnny……..Scott stop it.” Hank yelled as he and a couple hands came running.
Murdoch heard the commotion and came outside to investigate. Seeing his two sons fighting in the corral and the corral fence busted he hurried over to try and stop them.
Scott swung and hit Johnny in the face before being hit in the gut hard and the wind knocked from him.
“ You fucking bastard…….you dare touch my wife………..I’ll kill you.” Johnny spat as he hit Scott two more times in the face before again slamming into his bigger brother in the chest and driving him backwards.
“ Johnny………Scott stop it now…………Johnny stop it you’re going to kill him.” Hank yelled.
Johnny heard no one as he continued to beat his brother. Throwing punch after punch into Scott’ face and gut.
Scott brought his left leg up when he seen his brother going for his gut again and dropped swiping his feet out knocking Johnny to the ground. Moving fast he straddled his chest and pinned him down.
Johnny kicked and bucked under his brothers weight but couldn’t get free. Reaching down he pulled his colt and drew the hammer back.
“ Get the fuck off me now.” he ordered.
Scott heard the colt and froze. Releasing his hold on Johnny and moving off his chest Scott gasped for air looking into the business end of his brothers colt.
Johnny got up and stepped over to his brother. “ Get up.”
“ Johnny………son don’t……….if you shoot your brother I promise you I will see you hanged.” Murdoch said.
Johnny glared at his father. “ You think I give a damn what you say old man………..He put his hands on my wife and left bruises.” Johnny spat with anger.
“ Calm down and let’s settle this inside in private.”
“ It’s already settled old man……..He touches my wife again like that and……….” Johnny made it clear what he would do without finishing the sentence. Walking over to Barranca he swung into the saddle and rode away.
Johnny became more withdrawn as fall approached. Seven corrals were now up full of mustangs one of which Johnny stood at watching as a hand moved them around. Hearing a horse approaching at a gallop he turned and a big smile came to his face.
“Beth…..come on out here.” he yelled as he hurried to the rider. “ Oh man cousin it sure is good to see your sorry ass.” he said pulling Joe into a hug.
“ Yeah, well I didn’t come here to see your ugly hide. I came to see that beautiful wife of yours.” he said grinning. “ How you doing Johnny?”
“ Busy. Sortin out for breaking.”
“ Joe……….oh it’s good to see you.” Beth said happily.
“ Well look at you…….I bet you can’t wait till that baby is born huh?”
“ I can……he’s the one who is impatient.” she said pointing to Johnny. “ Come on inside and take a load off. Lunch is about ready.”
“ Sounds good.” Joe answered as he put an arm around Johnny’s shoulder and walked with them inside.
Johnny and Beth filled Joe in on all that had happened since getting married. He was shocked some that Murdoch nor Scott sent word to him or Carl about it. Watching Johnny’s face he could tell he wasn’t telling everything that happened. Probably for Beth’ sake he figured.
Hearing how Johnny had become estranged from his family, especially Scott since the two were so close, really shocked him. When Johnny told him that Murdoch had to pay grazing rights for his cattle to graze, he laughed.
“ I sure would’ve loved to have seen his face with that news cousin.”
“ Yeah he weren’t to pleased with it.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to his desk and opened the top left drawer. Pulling out a paper he walked back over and set it in front of Joe.
“ What’s this?” Joe asked.
“ Read it and you’ll find out.” he answered as he smiled at Beth.
Joe read the paper then looked at Beth then Johnny. “ I don’t understand.”
“ What’s to understand cousin……I want you as a partner. I want this to be the Double M Ranch.”
“ I thought it was going to be the Double L ranch?”
“ Things change…….There’s a cabin waiting for you and I pay a dollar a day wages and a bonus after delivery if all horses are delivered on time.”
“ Johnny……..I don’t know what to say.”
“ You don’t have to say nothin……just sign the contract so I can get the name up and start branding.”
Joe smiled then took up the pen and ink and signed his name. Standing he shook Johnny’s hand.
“ Guess you’re my boss now?”
“ Yeah and don’t think because we’re related I’ll be easy on you.” Johnny said with a grin.
“ Maybe I shouldn’t have signed that Beth……..Oh I have something from your mother for the baby in my saddlebags.” Joe said heading to the door.
Coming back in a few minutes later Joe handed the package to Beth.
Beth opened it up and found a baby blanket her mother had knitted as well as a small hand carved figure of a horse from her father for the baby to teeth on.”
Scott worked hard from sunup to sundown six days a week for his father. Sitting at the dinner table picking at his food he didn’t hear his father speaking to him until Murdoch touched his arm.
“ I’m sorry sir…….did you say something?”
“ I asked if you were alright?………You seem a long ways away son…….What’s on your mind?”
Scott looked over at the long ago empty chair his little brother used to sit at on his fathers right. Throwing down his napkin and sitting back in his chair he picked up his wine and took a sip.
“ It’s your brother isn’t it?” Murdoch asked already knowing the answer.
“ Yes sir.”
“ You know son you never did tell me what happened that day…….Why you did whatever it was to Beth you did.”
Scott looked at him thru sad eyes. “ I’m afraid sir I grabbed Beth roughly and bruised her arms. I was mad at Johnny for the way he is being toward us and rode up there to talk to him.” he explained.
“ Alright……..I take it Johnny wasn’t there?”
“ No sir……..Beth told me he was out with the hands checking the dam and wouldn’t be back till later. I have never harmed a woman ever and I have no excuse for how I hurt Beth.”
“ More than that son, you are hurting because you also hurt your brother. Give him time and he’ll come around……..After all you’re a partner in the Double L ranch are you not?”
“ No sir……..Johnny isn’t calling it the Double L it’s called the Double M ranch.”
“ The Double M…..what in thunder for?” Murdoch asked loudly as he threw down his napkin.
“ Madrid….Martinez…..his cousin Joe came back and I guess Johnny made Joe a full partner…….I think I’ll turn in now sir….I’m not very hungry…If you’ll excuse me.” Scott stated as he stood up and headed to his room.
Murdoch sat there and watched his oldest son walk away broken hearted Never would he have thought that his two son who were so close would become so far apart. He could only hope that his two sons worked things out between them soon so they could be a family again.
Johnny woke as always before the sun, laying on his side watching his wife sleep. Placing a hand on her stomach gently he smiled as he felt the baby move. He swore he could feel the head and gently rubbed the spot bringing a moan from Beth and stillness became of the baby as he rubbed.
“ She likes that.” Beth said sleepily.
“She huh…..what makes you so sure it’s a girl?” Johnny said as he ran his hand lower and slid it between Beth’ legs.
“ Because.” Beth started as she moved to sit on her husband pinning his hand between her legs. “ I know it is so * you * get to go thru what all those fathers did when you chased their daughters in eighteen years.” she said smiling and moving her hips.
Johnny adjusted his now hard cock and slid a finger inside her wetness. “ I hate to break it to you darlin, but I wasn’t allowed around no good girls. Mestizo’s aren’t welcomed to court good girls…..I only been with two good girls and I married one of them.” he said pushing his hardness up into her wet folds.
Beth rose up a little and took his shaft in her hand and guided him into her. “ Two huh…..and just who would this second good girl be you was with?” she asked as she started moving and rocking feeling his hardness inside her.
“ Oh man that feels good Beth.” he said as he started to thrust up into her.
“ Who was she lover?”
“ The old mans foreman’ daughter Teresa.” he stated as he sat up and claimed her mouth hungrily.
“ Teresa huh?” Beth asked as she stopped moving and pushed Johnny down onto his back before moving off him and getting on her knees. “ Take me from behind Johnny…..Make me climax wildly like you did before.”
Johnny got on his knees behind Beth and guided his throbbing cock inside her and thrust upward as he reached around and worked her folds, gently pinching the skin and rubbing her nub outside as his cock rubbed it inside.
“ How old was she?”
Johnny really didn’t want to talk about another woman while making love to his wife, but he knew Beth would keep on him about it if he didn’t answer. Or she could stop what he started and leave him to finish by hand. Not that he hadn’t before. “ She was sixteen…..I made her a woman just like I did you.” he said thrusting into her harder. “ She wanted it and I gave it to her.”
Beth rocked back into him every time Johnny came forward. Rhythm was something Johnny and Beth had when making love. Each knew what the other wanted before hand mostly and gave as good as or in his case got better than the other gave. Johnny always made sure Beth climaxed until she couldn’t take it any longer. His needs seemed minor to what he wanted her to have.
Very little mattered to him beyond a roof over Beth’ head and food on the table for her. Growing up without he learned possessions didn’t mean much beyond a good horse and gun. Now though as he grabbed Beth’ hips and slammed into her hard as his release started and shivering as his seed spilled out possession became important. He had a wife and child on the way. A contract with the Army for remounts every spring. In his mind what he had for possession was better than anything a man could have.
Collapsing onto his side breathing hard johnny pulled Beth over and hungrily sucked on her breast. He marveled at how they had gotten bigger and what he could only assume was milk sometimes released into his mouth as he sucked on them. Beth would moan and press his head into her breast more when this happened and he didn’t mind one bit. It wouldn’t be long he knew and he wouldn’t be allowed to touch his wife after the baby came for a month if not longer. The thought of having to jerk off for release didn’t please him but he would do what he had to do for release.
Murdoch heard the approach of a buggy and stepped outside to see who it was. Shock came to his face when he seen who it was.
“ Teresa…….darling what are you doing here?” he asked stepping over to help her down.
“ I came to talk to you Murdoch.”
“ Well of course. By all means, come on inside out of the heat.”
“ where are Scott and Johnny?” she asked as she stepped into the house.
“ Scott is out rounding up strays with the men. Would you care for some Lemonade?”
“ Yes please. I always did like Maria’ lemonade……..Is Johnny away on a business trip or something?”
“ I’m sorry what darling?”
“ I asked if Johnny was away on a business trip or something?” she repeated as she took the proffered glass of lemonade.
“ Johnny isn’t here any more Teresa.” Murdoch said softly.
“ What…….what do you mean he isn’t here any more?…….What happened?” she asked fearing the worse.
“ Johnny has a ranch of his own with his cousin and a wife and child on the way Teresa…..He hasn’t lived here for several months.”
Relief washed over her inside as well as out. “ Oh I thought you meant…….”
“ Oh no darling……..I’m sorry. No Johnny is alive it’s just that he has his own life now.”
“ He’s married?……when…who. Murdoch what has been happening around here?”
“ A lot but more importantly what are you doing here?”
Teresa got a sad look in her eyes as they glazed over with tears. “ My father is dead……..He was murdered during a bank robbery in Los Angeles.”
“ Oh Teresa I’m so sorry darling.”
“ I know I have no right to ask but…..”
“ Say no more…..you were born on Lancer……I’ll have a hand bring in your things. You can have your old room back if you like.”
“ Thank you Murdoch.”
“ Why don’t you go freshen up and rest before dinner. Scott will be surprised to see you, and happy. I know I am.”
“ Thank you I am tired.” she said as she headed to her old room. ‘ Married huh’ Well whoever she is I had you first Johnny and I fully intend on having you again’. She thought to herself.
Joe rode into the Double M’s yard and got down.
“ You get the mail by chance while in town?” Johnny asked.
“ Sure did……You got a letter from your folks Beth…….Uh Johnny I ran into someone you know in town….Teresa.” he said handing the letter to Beth.
“ Teresa? In Morro Coyo?”
“ Yeah……she asked me to tell you that she would like to see you.”
Johnny looked at Beth. “ Why was she back here?…….Was her father with her?”
“ No it seems he was killed in a bank robbery….She’s staying at Lancer and was in town with Scott.” Joe said before leading his horse away.
“ I don’t know Beth…….I don’t know. We were together a few times but it was over four years ago.”
“ I suggest you go to Lancer and see her Johnny. Find out what she wants and if……..well we will cross that bridge when we need to.” she said before turning and heading into the house. The baby was due in less than a month so her going with Johnny to Lancer was out of the question and having Teresa come to their home she did not want. She trusted Johnny completely, knowing he would be faithful to her. He rarely went to town with the men so he wouldn’t be tempted into a whores bed. Teresa though, Teresa she wasn’t so sure about. Johnny had been her first as well. It seemed her husband was a lot of women’ first timer in bed. She could understand that to an extent. Johnny after all was knew how to make love very well and left women wanting more. Could the * wanting more * be what Teresa wanted? If so Beth knew she would fight for her man tooth and nail. She was after all carrying his child.
Scott noticed the golden stallion coming under the arch as he walked from the barn toward the house. Stopping he called Murdoch out.
“ Murdoch……you might want to come out here.” he said. He had missed his brother something fierce and hoped they could patch things up between them and become brothers again.
Murdoch stepped out. “ What is it son?…….Is something wrong?’ he asked followed by Teresa.
“ Johnny.” he said pointing.
Murdoch looked and couldn’t stop the smile on his face. He hadn’t seen his youngest since the night Johnny came to Lancer and beat Scott up.
Johnny stopped Barranca but didn’t get down. “ I hear you wanted to see me?” he asked.
“ I always want to see you son. Get down and come inside.”
“ I’m not talking to you old man.” he snapped back. “ What do you want Teresa?”
“ Well hello to you to Johnny….It’s been over four years and I just wanted to see you and see how you’re doing.” she answered back stepping in front of Murdoch.
“ Johnny you will speak to Teresa in a gentleman;y manor or you can leave.” Murdoch stated not liking his son’s attitude.
Johnny swung down off Barranca and only slightly glanced at Scott. “ Why don’t you two go inside, this don’t concern you.” he ordered
Murdoch was getting red in the face with anger. How dare his son come to his home and show such disrespect toward him.
“ Now listen here young man…..this is my home and you don’t ell me what to do.”
“ I just did.”
“ Stop it.” Scott yelled. “ I’m sick of this……I’m sick of you Murdoch treating Johnny the way you have…….and you * brother * you have been a sonofabitch ever since you came back from Mexico….I murdered men to get you free and me and Murdoch dropped everything when the Hawkes men took you and we killed again….* for you * and you thank us by treating us like shit……you told em that people make mistakes and should be allowed to be forgiven for them……..you told me that you wished our father would forget about your past and be a father to you…..How the hell can he be when * you * won’t let him huh?………..How am I supposed to be a brother to you if you won’t let me Johnny?……answer me that.”
Murdoch just looked between his two sons ready to intercept if need be.
“ You know the answer to that Scott…….None of you are willing to accept me as Madrid……..you only want Johnny Lancer…well I’m both and until * he * can accept that and you then we got nothing more to say.” he said swinging up on Barranca. “ You remember where the dam is Teresa?”
“ Yes Johnny I do. Why?”
“ I’ll be rounding up mustangs there the next few days if you want to talk still.” he said before turning and riding out.
Johnny rounded up horses near the dam for three days but Teresa never showed. He figured his old man or Scott had something to do with that. Beth was so close and uncomfortable these days as the birth got closer, he couldn’t touch her sexually at all. She just didn’t want it. He did, hell he was so horny now he was thinking of pleasuring himself, not that it would be, when he heard a horse approaching. Figuring it was one of the hands come to see if he needed any help looking for strays Johnny stopped Barranca at the streams edge and got down. Taking his canteen he went about filling it as the rider got closer. Looking he seen it wasn’t a hand, it was Teresa. Not good, a wife who won’t let him touch her, a cock with a mind of it’s own right now wanting female pleasure and alone in the late afternoon coolness.
“ Johnny……I’m sorry I didn’t show when you said. Murdoch advised against me coming to see you.” she said as she got down. “ They said it wouldn’t be safe for me around you alone…….is that true?” she asked stepping up close to him.
“ What do you want Teresa?” he said brushing past her to put his canteen back on the saddle.
Alone with the only man she had bed. Her plan was working out good so far. She knew just how to get what she wanted from Johnny and she knew he wouldn’t refuse. Married or not, Johnny would fuck her again. This she was certain. Walking over to him and placing her hands on his shoulders when he turned around. “ How about a hug to start?” she asked.
Johnny could feel the heat starting in his groin. The want and need. He was married now with a baby on the way and should not be out here with a girl, no woman alone. Putting his arms around her he pulled her into a quick hug and before he knew it he felt his cock being massaged by Teresa. Stepping back but not letting go. “ Don’t……I’m a married man now Teresa.”
“ I know you are Johnny. Scott told me all about Beth and the baby that’s coming.” she began as she reached for him again. “ I know you want me Johnny………..I’ve been with no other but you…….Take me Johnny like you did that first time.”
Knowing it was wrong Johnny couldn’t stop himself as he moaned at her touch and stepped forward. Pulling her into his chest he claimed her mouth hungrily as his tongue probed once familiar areas within. Slowly taking her down to his knees as he started removing her jacket and undoing her blouse buttons to get to the breast he so wanted to suck on.
Teresa smiled as her tongue swirled and danced with Johnny’s in her mouth. Undoing his belt and pants she reached in and took hold of his hard shaft and started working it in her hand as Johnny stopped and worked his pants down lower then pushed her onto her back and undid her pants and pulled them roughly down to her ankles and off so he could get what he wanted. Getting on top of her he shoved his cock between her legs and into her wet mound. Hungry and crazy with lust Johnny thrust hard and fast not caring about the bruises he was causing on her body. All he wanted right now was satisfaction sexually right now and Teresa offered it so he was gladly taking it.
“ Oh yes Johnny……yes take me hard…..Let me feel you release. I missed you so much.”
Johnny thrust as hard and fast as he could trying to get the release he wanted. Why when he pleasured himself it didn’t take long but now, now he just couldn’t get it. Why? Moving up some he changed his angle and this drove Teresa to bite him on the shoulder when her climax came with no warning and that did it. The pain from the bite sent him over the edge as his seed started to spill out into her. Slamming into her mound and grunting his pleasure aloud Johnny claimed her mouth roughly, biting and sucking on her tongue and lips. Staying hard Johnny roughly squeezed her breast as he sucked and kissed her neck.
“ You wanted me.” he panted. “ You got me.” he said as he started moving in her again.
Murdoch Lancer had followed Teresa without her knowing. Once it was clear where the girl was headed his blood began to boil inside. Even though his youngest was married and had a baby on the way in less than a month, he knew what would happen, and it had. Sitting atop his horse he knew what had to be done. Teresa had to go and he could only hope that Beth did not learn of this forbidden encounter between a married man and a girl he once thought of as a daughter. A daughter that is until his youngest had soiled her those years ago as he had so blatantly claimed while in pain from being shot.
Turning his horse he decided to ride over and visit his daughter in law and he couldn’t help but relish in the fact that Johnny would * not * be pleased to see him. He also would discretely let it be known that the two lovers had been seen together. This he thought could come in handy in the distant future.
Beth stepped out onto the porch rubbing the small of her back when she heard a horse approaching.
Smiling she stepped down.
“ Why Murdoch….this is a nice surprise……Johnny isn’t here right now.”
“ Yes I know, I seen him as I rode here.” he said getting down. “ I came to see you and see if you needed anything?” he stated giving her a kiss on the forehead.
“ I’m fine……well as good as can be I guess all things considered……..Come on in and have a glass of lemonade.”
“ Thank you……….Is something wrong Beth?”
“ What?…….oh just a minor…….it’s nothing Murdoch.”
“ Beth…you can talk to me.” he said as he sat down at the kitchen table. Being his first time in the cabin his son had built he couldn’t help but feel pride inside for how his son had built a strong home for their family. Sadness came to mind quickly as he remembered what he had just witnessed a short time before.
“ It’s Johnny…..I’m afraid he is……..Oh you don’t want to hear this.”
“ Let me guess……he want’s shall I say….to sow his oats and doesn’t understand how you are feeling?”
“ Yes…….were you the same way with either of your wives?”
“ No……no I wasn’t……….Johnny I’m afraid has no patience or understand of a woman……..I think some of that fault I can place on his mother and how he was raised.”
“ Around whore houses you mean?” Beth asked sitting down.
“ I’m afraid so…….he thinks a woman is to serve one purpose shall I say and I don’t think he will change Beth……not in the way you want.”
“ He loves me…..it’s just that……..I’m tempted to tell him to go to town and visit the whore house with my blessing.”
Murdoch laughed at hearing his daughter- in- law speak this way about his irresponsible son.
“ Beth…..I may be out of line saying this and I mean you no disrespect but how can you be sure that Johnny has been loyal to you in that manner?”
“ You mean has he been unfaithful to me?……..He doesn’t go to town hardly at all and when he does it’s never alone. Joe said when they went the other day Johnny wouldn’t even go have a cold beer before heading back here………No Murdoch Johnny wouldn’t betray our love and cheat on me.”
“ But didn’t you just say?”
“ yes I did, but that wouldn’t be cheating on me. That would be with my permission, my blessing……I know how my husband is and well……”
Johnny stood with his back to a tree moaning as Teresa took him fully in her mouth. Moving his hips as he held her head firmly in place, her hair a tangled mess between his fingers as he shot his seed down her throat. Standing on shaky legs until he was sure he could release no more. Pulling her up to his mouth he delved his tongue deep inside tasting his cum on hers. Kissing her neck and going lower as he turned her to the tree and reached down between her legs and slid a finger inside her wet mound as he sucked on her breast.
Teresa put her hands on his shoulders and gently pushed encouraging him to go lower with his mouth as she moaned and spread her legs allowing him further access.
Pumping his fingers in and out of her Johnny took his other hand and worked himself hard again.
‘ One more time’ he thought as his tongue slid between folded skin and he sucked and relished in the taste of there coming together. Feeling her muscles tighten on his fingers he sucked hard as her juices once again flowed. Not giving her time to come down from her climax he stood up and picked her up and guided his shaft inside her and pressed her back into the oak tree trunk as he thrust hard and fast upward into her.
“ Oh my god Johnny.” Teresa exclaimed as she climaxed again so suddenly and harder than before.
Claiming her mouth with his Johnny picked her up a little and brought her down as he thrust up several times before reaching climax himself and releasing his seed deep inside her as he couldn’t stop the almost scream from escaping his lips as again Teresa bit his shoulder to stifle her scream of pleasure.
An hour later Johnny swung up on Barranca and headed home. Teresa had departed thirty minutes before bearing the marks on her body from their rough sexual encounter. Guilt started to pang away at him as he came down from his sexual high as he rode home to his wife. A wife who was about to give him a child, a wife who had done nothing but love him, a wife who had accepted him for who he was unlike others. Riding into the yard he spotted his fathers horse tied out front and sighed.
“ Great…..just what I don’t need.” he said as he got off Barranca and led him to the barn. Thirty minutes later he stepped into the cabin and found his father and wife sitting at the table talking.
“ Beth.” he said as he took off his gun and hung it on a hook by the door.
“ Johnny…..you’re home early today.” she stated standing.
Johnny walked over and gave her a quick kiss on the lips before waling over and pouring a shot of tequila. “ Yeah I decided to play hooky this afternoon. I ended up taking a nap by the stream.” he said as he walked over and sat down. “ I’m the boss so it’s my right.” he stated looking at his father. “ what are you doing here?”
“I came to see if Beth needed anything…….I am about to be a grandfather after all.”
“ Murdoch seen you on his ride here.” Beth stated.
Johnny glared at his father and the look on the mans face told him * he * and Teresa had been seen together. Not wanting to give anything away though he decided to find out. “ Oh yeah, why didn’t you stop?”
“ You were busy.” was all he said.
Johnny knew from that remark he had been seen. Apparently his old man had not said anything to his wife, he hoped.
“ What’s for dinner?…….I’m starved.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Stew….It’s ready now if you want some.” she replied sensing something was off with her husband. Johnny was acting off. Was it his father being here or something else. Now was not the time to ask but she wanted to know. “ Is something wrong Johnny?” she asked as she went to the stove and dished up a plate of stew.
“ Wrong?…..No…..I guess I……..no nothing is wrong.” he said as he dived hungrily into the plate of food.
Murdoch loved this. He was causing his son to be uncomfortable as he rightly should. What he had done, betraying Beth the way he did this afternoon showed the patriarch he was right all along about him.
“ Well I should be going now Beth…….Remember what I said earlier……..and don’t hesitate to send a man if you need anything.” he said heading to the door.
“ She don’t need nothin from you old man.” Johnny said coldly.
“ I will Murdoch…despite what my husband says……Thank you for coming to visit me…..It was nice.”
“ Yes well….Johnny.” he said as he walked out.
Beth turned back to her husband still eating after closing the door. “ You had no right to be rude to your father like that Johnny……He came here to check up on me and our baby.”
‘ I don’t need him checking on my wife and kid…….he wasn’t around for me before, I don’t need him around now.” Johnny said loudly as he pushed the plate away and stood up.
“ What is the matter with you?……..Why don’t you go into town and have a few beers and lay with a whore……maybe * that * will put you in a better mood.” Beth said before heading to their bedroom and slamming the door.
Johnny stood there looking at the closed door as Beth’ words ran through his head. His sexual appetite still strong and needing, it was a tempting thought but one he passed on. Instead he went to their room and opened the door. Walkin into the room he removed his shirt as Beth lay on their bed.
“I don’t think so.” he said flatly as he started to remove his pants.
Beth noticed the marks on his neck and got up. “ What……..” she started to ask as she looked at the marks and could see that they were bite marks and fresh. Anger flooded her as she viciously slapped his face.
“ You bastard……..you fucked her didn’t you?”
Johnny’s head snapped from the blow as he put a hand to his cheek to rub the sting. Standing there he couldn’t answer her, nor look her in the eyes.
“ Answer me damn you.”she demanded slapping him hard again.
Anger rose as he grabbed her arms. ‘ Don’t you ever hit me again Beth…….You just told me out there to go get a whore so Yeah…….I fucked Teresa and until a few minutes ago I hated myself for doing it, but not now.”
“ Get out……get out of here now you bastard………Get out.” she screamed as tears fell down her cheeks
Johnny redid his pants and grabbed his shirt and stormed out of the room. The front door slamming a minute later could be heard as he headed to the barn and saddled Barranca. Galloping out of the barn with tears stinging his eyes as he headed to town. Town and a bottle of tequila.
Beth dropped to the bed and cried like she had never cried before. Not a short time before she had told Murdoch that Johnny had been faithful to her. Thinking back on that conversation she couldn’t help but wonder. Murdoch had said he had seen Johnny but didn’t stop. Had he seen the two of them together and that was why he had said what he did? Could he have been trying to tell her without coming right out with it?
Pain sharper than anything she ever felt hit her hard in her abdomen area. Getting up she almost fell over from the pain as she made her way to the door and out into the kitchen.
“ Johnny.” she screamed as the pain came again.
Joe rode into the yard and took his horse into the barn. He seen Barranca was not here and figured his cousin was still out checking the herds. Hearing his name screamed from the house when he walked out of the barn Joe took off running and flung the front door open. Finding Beth on the floor in pain.
“Whats wrong Beth?” he asked going to her side.
“ The baby is coming.” she said. “ Get Sam Joe, Please.”
“ Okay let me get you in bed and I’ll get a hand to go for him.” he said as he helped he up and into the bedroom “ I’ll send another to get Johnny.”
“ He’s gone…..I……he left me Joe.”
“What……he wouldn’t leave you Beth he loves you.”
“ No…..I kicked him out Joe…..he……he was with Teresa today.”
Joe felt anger well up inside him. His cousin cheated on his wife and now when she needed him more than ever he was gone. “ I’ll be right back Beth….just hold on.” he said before running outside and firing off three shots to signal trouble. A few minutes later two hands showed and Joe sent one for Sam and one to Lancer.
Johnny sat at the back of the saloon with a half empty bottle of tequila in front of him. Looking at a young girl standing at a table watching a poker game he smiled at her when she looked in his direction.
When she walked over to him he pulled a chair out next to him and indicated for her to sit down.
“ You’re new here aren’t you?’ he asked pouring her a shot.
“ Yeah……..came here two weeks ago…….You’re Johnny Madrid right?”
Johnny smiled. “ Yeah I am…..you wanna go upstairs?” he asked as he put a hand on her knee and moved it higher.
“ Love to……I’ve heard a lot about you Madrid…..I also heard you were married.”
“ Yeah well don’t believe all you here.” he said as they walked upstairs.
In the early hours of dawn a new life could be heard screaming from the bedroom. Murdoch, Scott and Joe couldn’t stop the smile that graced their face.
Sam came out of the room and noticed Johnny was not present.
“ Sam?” Murdoch asked.
“ Mother and baby are doing just fine men.” he stated.
“ What is it Sam?”
“ You have a grand daughter Murdoch. Johnny….wherever that boy is, is the proud father of a little girl.”
“ Beth kicked Johnny out last night.” Joe said before he could stop himself.
“ What…….why?” Sam and Scott both asked at the same time.
“ He was with Teresa yesterday….in the wrong way I guess.”
“ How do you know this?” Scott demanded.
“ It’s true son…….I seen them together on my way here yesterday. They were at the stream.”
Scott ran a hand thru his hair. “ Wait till I get my hands on that brother of mine……..Of all the stupid things to do.”
“ Scott……it’s done…….Beth needs us right now. Johnny made his bed and will have to sleep in it……as for Teresa I am going to request she leave Lancer, never to return. Johnny is the reason she came back here and I will not have her in my home any longer.” he said firmly.
Johnny came downstairs in the early morning smiling. A night of sex with a girl that young had him feeling really good inside. The girl knew how to please him and allowed him to take her in ways he so loved doing. Stepping outside to a very unhappy Barranca he patted the stallions neck.
“ Lo Siento amigo. I’ll make it up to you buddy.” He said as he untied the rein and swung up in the saddle.
“ Madrid…..Johnny Madrid.” he heard before feeling a bullet enter his right side sending. Grabbing his colt he fired as he put spur to Barranca and galloped away. Shots ricocheted around him as the stallion dug in and bolted away.
Early risers watched in horror as Johnny rode out clearly hurt. A man on a beautiful black horse like no other was seen galloping out of town after him with pistol in hand.
Barranca ran full out before Johnny finally slowed the stallion as he became weaker. Blood soaked his right side and ran down his leg. The bullet had gone clean thru, this he was thankful for, but knew he would bleed to death if he didn’t get help.
“ Take me home boy.” he said to his stallion as he slumped forward a little.
Barranca walked into the yard and up to the porch and stopped. The stallion knew his master needed help. He could smell the blood. Whinnying several times loudly until the door opened.
“ Barranca………..Johnny.” Scott said as he hurried to his brother. “ Sam.” he yelled as he drug his wounded unconscious brother from the saddle.
Sam, Murdoch and Joe came out of the house.
“ He’s been shot.” Scott said.
“ Bring him inside and lay him on the table.” Sam ordered.
Beth called out from the bedroom. “ What’s wrong?”
Joe went to her as Murdoch and Scott helped Sam. “ Beth it’s Johnny……he’s been shot.”
Beth got up and slowly made her way to the kitchen. Upon seeing her husband bleeding laying on the table tears welled up in her eyes.
“ Beth get back in bed right now……Joe get her back in bed.” he ordered.
A couple hours later Johnny lay in his bed unconscious with Beth and their new baby at his side. Sam had sewed the wound up front and back after cleaning it out good. Luckily the bullet hit no major organs. The only concern was the amount of blood lost.
“ Don’t you dare leave us Johnny……you have a daughter to help me raise.” Beth said softly as she wiped sweat from his brow. All other wrongs forgotten as her husband lay still fighting for his life.
Pain, why was I feeling pain? Hurt, weak, tired. Voices I hear one, no two people talking. Beth, yeah Beth is talking to someone, but who? Open my eyes and see who, wait a minute I;m in a bed. Barranca I was leaving town and…..no it couldn’t be him. He wouldn’t shoot me. Would he? Think Madrid. Who was the male voice and why was he talking to my wife in my bedroom? Sam, he must be here to check on Beth.
“ Why doesn’t he wake up Sam?”
“ He lost a lot of blood Beth. Let’s hope the fever doesn’t get any higher. The wound doesn’t feel as hot as it did. I think the carbolic acid and the poultice salve you’re using are getting a upper hand on it.”
“ But why doesn’t he wake up?”
“ Beth one thing I have learned about Johnny when he gets injured……he does things his own way. Just keep putting that salve on the wound and changing the bandage every day. I’ll stop back in a day or two and if he hasn’t woke up by then, well I have something that will wake him up……..Mean time you young lady need your rest as well. You just had a baby and shouldn’t be wearing yourself down.”
“ Joe has been helping me with Johnny.”
“ Well, you take care of this beautiful little girl you have……Have you thought of a name for her yet?”
“ No, I wanted to let Johnny decide that.” Beth said as she walked Sam out.
Baby? You had the baby. Wound? Oh that’s right * he * shot me. Remember Madrid, mental note to self again betrayed by family. This time in the worse way, course was before and it almost cost me my life.
“ No, Sam said he does things in his own way……I just want him to wake up and see his daughter Scott.”
Daughter……I have a daughter. How about that, Madrid has a daughter. Never thought I’d see the day that I would be a father, especially to a little girl. * See * I wish I could but my damn eyes won’t open. Concentrate Madrid. You can do it.
“ Beth…….I know what Johnny did was wrong and I’m not making excuses for his behavior. Betraying you and being with Teresa was wrong and he’ll have to face up to that.” Scott said looking down at his brother. “ Just if you leave my brother, and I wouldn’t blame you none if you did. Think about the baby. Don’t let here grow up without a father in her life like Johnny did. Please.”
“ I was hurt and angry and to tell you the truth Scott…….I don’t think I will ever trust him again. But our daughter does deserve to have * all * of her family in her life…..I want you and Johnny to be brothers again. I want him and his father to get along.”
“ Murdoch went back to the ranch and told Teresa to pack her belongings, that she was not welcomed at Lancer. He bought her a ticket on the next stage out.”
“ To where? Where is she?”
“ San Francisco.” Scott answered.
“ So she is still in California?”
“ Yes but I don’t think Teresa will be coming back here again Beth……You know she came here with full intentions of trying to get Johnny. She told me and Murdoch that he was her’s and she would have him back.”
“ Well……I’ll say this for her……she knew his weakness and she prayed on that. I’m afraid I am partly to blame for them being together……I told Johnny to go see her and find out what she wanted when Joe told him she was here.”
“ You know, Johnny being mad at me is mostly my fault…….I betrayed him in Yuma. I was talking to Val and I called my brother a cold blooded killer for what he did, but I have done a lot of thinking about that and I see it more clearly now……..He’s not a cold blooded killer and only did what he had to do…….I think……no I know that if it had been me I would have done the same thing so how can I see him as that when I myself could be one also?”
“ Johnny hasn’t told me what happened with the Hawkes men other than they are dead. From the scars he came back with, especially his wrist I can only imagine.”
Open damn you, open and look at them. Tell Boston you’re sorry for treating him like you have. See your baby girl. Open your eyes Madrid.
“ Johnny has had a rough life, all he wants is a chance to live a normal life like anyone else……I’m afraid Scott…….We don’t know who shot him and if Johnny killed him.”
“ People in town who seen the shooting say it was a man on a big black horse. That Johnny had just come out of the saloon and got on Barranca when his name was yelled right before he was shot.”
“Barranca……I owe that horse a treat for bringing my husband home to me.”
“ Yeah Johnny and that horse are a good match.” Scott stated as a moan brought his attention to the man in question. “ Hey little brother I know you can hear us. Open your eyes.”
“ Be…….Beth.” Johnny said softly as he finally got his eyes to open. “ Beth.”
“ I’m right here Johnny…..Scott’ here also. How do you feel?”
“ Tired……..Where is she?”
“ You heard us talking didn’t you?” Beth asked as she went over to the craddle and picked up her sleeping daughter.
“ I was trying to open my eyes but…” Johnny started as a sharp pain shot through his side. “ How bad?”
“ Sam said the bullet did no damage…..You lost a lot of blood and anyone else might have died. Barranca got you home to help……..Here drink some water.” Scott said as he lifted his brothers head so he could drink.
“ Thanks.” he said after drinking the water eagerly. Looking at the bundle in his wife’s arms.
“ Help me sit up Boston I want to hold my daughter and see her.”
Scott swallowed a lump in his throat. * Boston * he hadn’t heard his brother call him that in so long it was pure music to his ears.
It hurt moving but nothing was going to stop him from holding his daughter. Something Johnny Madrid never thought he would get to do. “ How long I been out?”
“ Four days.” Beth said as she sat on the edge of the bed and placed the baby in Johnny’s arms. “ Our daughter has had no name for four days.”
Johnny felt tears well up in his eyes as he looked down at his tiny daughter. “ You had her that night didn’t you?” he asked softly as he looked at her tiny fingers.
“ Early the next morning. Our daughter decided she wanted to come into this world in a hurry. Sam and the midwife were both shocked at how fast her birth was.”
“ Lo Siento, por favor Beth……Por favor don’t take her away from me, Por favor.” he pleaded as a tear escaped and ran down his cheek.
“ Not now Johnny….We will discuss what happened when the time is right and right now is not that time.”
Johnny looked up at her. “ I understand…….I don’t deserve your forgiveness Beth but…….”
“ Uh maybe I should leave so you two can talk.” Scott chimed in.
“ No…stay brother.” Johnny said firmly. “ We need to talk as well Scott.”
“ Johnny, you’re weak and still have a fever. You should rest and concentrate on getting stronger for your daughter…………That and giving her a name.”
“ Cheyenne………little Cheyenne Madrid.”
“ Cheyenne huh…….and can I ask why Cheyenne Johnny?”
“ Cause that’s where she was created.” hew said with a smile. “ And it fit’s her…….she’s beautiful Beth. She looks just like you.”
“ She has your eyes and smile….oh and temper.” Beth said with a slight laugh. “ So I guess Cheyenne it is then.”
“ Has Murdoch seen her yet?”
“ Yes he did……the morning she was born.”
“ Johnny who shot you?” Scott asked.
Johnny looked up at his brother. “ My Uncle.” was all he said softly.
Scott felt the anger building up inside. “ Why? How could he shoot his own nephew?”
“ Hell Scott he turned me in to the rurales remember..He chose his damn ranch and horses over his own flesh and blood that day……Why should it shock you that he is here and shot me?”
“ Did you kill him?”
“ Nope, but I will.”
“ That little brother you will have to beat me too if I see him first……..Lancer takes care of it’s own and nobody tries to kill my brother and gets away with it.”
“ Madrid…….not Lancer.”
“ Alright I think you need to rest and this little one also.” Beth chimed in.
“ Leave her…….I’m fine Beth.”
“ No you are not…you are still weak and need rest. Tell you what I’ll go fix you some broth and you and Scott can visit for a spell……I’ll let Cheyenne stay with her father but you let Scott take her if you get to weak or tired to hold her.”
“ I will.” he said as he bent down and kissed his daughters forehead.
Johnny and Scott talked for over an hour before he got just to tired to stay awake any longer. The brothers had agreed to start fresh and become brothers again. The past is the past and they both agreed to put it behind them. Scott apologized for thinking his brother was a cold blooded killer and Johnny apologized for the beating he gave his big brother. Both came to an amicable agreement that afternoon. Johnny asked Scott if he was mad that he had named his ranch the Double M instead.
“ No…well I was a little hurt at first brother but it’s your land and I have Lancer……You had every right to make your cousin a partner” Scott had told him before leaving.
Johnny lay in bed slipping off to the most peaceful sleep he had had in some time.
Murdoch walked into his sons bedroom a few days later smiling at the sight before him. His youngest was laying in bed on his left side with his daughter close to his chest sleeping. Something he himself remembered doing with his youngest when he was a baby. Anger was what he felt when Scott told him * who * had shot Johnny. Anger and the fact that the man was still out there alive. A man riding such a stand out distinct horse as an Andalusian he thought would be easy to spot but such was not the case. No one had seen man nor horse since that morning.
Johnny could feel someone watching him. Opening his eyes he was a little surprised to find his father standing there looking down at him smiling from ear to ear.
“ Hey.” he said softly. “ You come to see your granddaughter old man?” he smirked as he carefully rolled onto his back so’s not to disturb the sleeping baby.
“ Old man huh……..Do you think you could maybe find it in your heart son to * not * call me an old man?”
“ Yeah, but I won’t…I know it gets to ya when I do.” he said smiling.
Murdoch reached down and picked up his granddaughter. “ I see…….well your brother told me you gave her a name when you woke up.”
Johnny looked at his father ready for the man’s disapproval in his choice for a name. What he heard shocked him to the very core.
“ I think Cheyenne Madrid is a beautiful name son……I’m proud of you Johnny………I’m still disappointed in what you did to Beth…..But I am proud of you……You have become quit a man son and I see that now. I know It will take time but I’m willing to listen any time you want to talk.”
“ You remember what I told you about trust and respect Murdoch?………..I told you that if you wanted my respect and trust that you would have to earn it. I’m not an easy person to trust someone. I’ve been done wrong to many times in the past…….You repeatedly broke that trust old man with the way you treated me……You said I wasn’t a responsible person when you yourself wasn’t. I know that what I did to my wife was wrong and I’ll owe up to that. That is between me and her. But you, I will never trust you again like a son should…….I can’t……I will however let you graze your cattle on my land when needed in the summer without charge. I will allow you to see your granddaughter there whenever you want, because unlike me I want her to have a loving family in her life……..You need to realize old man who the hell I am……You can’t have me as Johnny Lancer when I am also Johnny Madrid…….*That* you * don’t * call the tune on. I have been Madrid most of my life. I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for him. I always will be Madrid. The sooner you can really accept that fact then maybe….just maybe we can start afresh.” Johnny said firmly but keeping his voice down. He didn’t want to fight with his father, he was tired of the two of them always fighting. Always finding fault in everything he did, even when something happened that wasn’t his doing or fault. Being called out would always be his fault.
Sam made Johnny against his wishes stay in bed for another week before allowing him to walk around. Beth had her hands full with the baby and a husband chomping at the bit to get out. His uncle had not been seen in the area but the hands who worked for the Double M as well as Lancer kept an eye out when out on the range.
Johnny walked out to the barn when finally allowed and was greeted by his stallion.
“ Hey amigo…..I owe you my life again buddy.” he said softly as he scratched behind Barranca’ ear.
Barranca put his head on Johnny’s shoulder and pulled him back into his chest and sighed. Johnny couldn’t stop the small laugh that escaped him as he reached up and hugged the stallion back.
“ Yeah I know buddy…..I guess you’ve heard the baby huh?” he asked his compadre. “ Can you believe it amigo…..me Johnny Madrid a father……Never thought I would live long enough to get the chance to, let alone find love and be married.”
Barranca’ head shot up suddenly and his ears came forward. A noise had gotten the stallion’s attention.
Turning Johnny found himself facing the one person he didn’t want to see ever again. His uncle.
“ To bad you’ll never get that chance boy.” he said stepping into the barn with a rifle aimed at Johnny.
Barranca stomped nervously in his stall sensing the wrong and danger to his master. Johnny had left his gun in the house figuring he would be safe on his own property with hands working horses in the corrals not far away.
‘ Getting soft and careless Madrid.’ he thought as he stepped out of the stall.
“ Why?……you’re my uncle…….why do you want to kill me?” he asked.
“ Why you ask?……..I’ll tell you why Madrid….I lost everything because of you……The rurales would have killed my wife that day in Mexico if I didn’t set you up…..When you escaped from them and Martinez found his men dead in that canyon he brought a detachment to my hacienda and killed everyone there and burned it to the ground…….He took all my prized Andalusian’ but one…..You are the son of the devil and deserve to die.” Arnesto Martinez said angrily.
“ I’m your nephew…….your sister’s son.”
“ My sister was a whore who laid with a gringo bastardo and together they created a mestizo bastardo child….Maria should have thrown you in a river to drown when you were born.”
Johnny couldn’t believe the words coming from his own uncles mouth. “ Then why did you come to us that day?………..Why did you offer to take us away from the way we were living?”
“ I did not offer for you……I offered for my sister…….I pleaded with her to do away with you and come home but she would not…….* You * are the reason she is dead…* you * killed my sister and now I will kill you.”
Scott rode up to Johnny’s cabin and got down. Beth opened the door and greeted him.
“Why hello Scott….if you come to see Johnny he’s in the barn with a certain spoiled stallion.” she said with a smile.
“ I did……..I cane to see him and my niece.” he stated as he stepped onto the porch and gave Beth a kiss on the cheek. “ You let him out huh?”
“ No…..but you know your brother.”
“ Yeah……I’ll go see him and that certain spoiled horse.”
“ Tell him lunch is about ready and he needs to come in out of the chill.”
“ Sure Beth.” Scott said as he headed to the barn.
Arnesto walked up closer to Johnny. “ Turn around.” he ordered.
“ What’s the matter…….ain’t got the guts to kill me looking at me?” Madrid asked as he turned around.
“ Oh I got the guts alright boy.” he said with anger as he hit Johnny in his right side with the rifle dropping him to his knee’s. “ That hurt boy?”
Johnny felt the blow to his still healing wound and dropped to his knee’s as a moan escaped his lips.
Hitting him again between the shoulders with the rifle butt Arnesto smiled as he moved around and lashed out with a kick to his nephews ribs.
Johnny curled up in a ball on his left side trying to protect his chest and wound. White hot pain soared through his chest as his uncle kicked him viciously in the ribs. Gasping for air as tears escaped his stone cold blue eyes.
“ I want you to feel pain you bastard…….Pain for what you have caused me.” he stammered before kicking Johnny again in the back. Cocking the rifle and aiming it at Madrid’ head. “ My only son turned against me because of you……..I lost everything because of you Madrid……I am going to kill your wife and baby before I kill you…….I want you to see them die like I had to see my wife die.” he said kicking Johnny again. Turning around to leave the barn Arnesto found himself facing a gun pointed right at him.
“ Get away from my brother now.” Scott ordered as he cocked the pistol held steadily in his hand.
Arnesto stepped away from Johnny the rifle held at his side. “ You……..you and my son got him away from the rurales that day.” he said with anger.
“ Yes I did……..he’s my brother and nobody is going to hurt him again…….Lancer takes care of it’s own.” Scott stated before pulling the trigger hitting the man in the chest and sending him backwards. Walking closer with the pistol still aimed Scott looked down at his brother on the barn floor. “ This is for the hurt you have caused my brother you sonofabitch.” he said with anger as he pulled the trigger again killing the man.
Johnny watched his brother and heard the words spoken as he lay in pain on the floor. “ Scott.” he said before passing out.
“ Johnny.” Beth screamed as she hurried out of the house when she heard the shots.
Joe and other hands who had been working in the corral came running to the barn.
“ Beth stay back.” Joe yelled.
“ Scott is in the re with Johnny Joe.” she yelled back.
“Johnny……..Scott.” he yelled.
“ Joe send someone for Sam and help me.” Scott yelled back.
Joe entered the barn and found Scott kneeling at his brothers side. Looking he seen his father dead to his right as he entered the barn. “ Is he alive?”
“ Yeah but your father beat him pretty badly. He’s unconscious….Help me get him up and in the house.” Scott said as he reached under his brother’s left shoulder carefully to pick him up.
Joe did the same to the right and together they took Johnny in the house and laid him down on the bed. Beth removed his shirt and gasped as she seen the bruises already forming on her husbands chest and back.
Sam arrived two hours later and bound Johnny’s ribs up tight after determining no significant damage was done to the wound. He did have cracked and badly bruised ribs that would keep him in bed for a time. Not pleased to learn his patient was attacked in the barn when he was not supposed to leave the house Sam voiced his displeasure to Beth before leaving.
One year later Johnny Madrid and Joe Martinez rode into the yard finding Sam’ buggy as well as Murdoch and Scott’ horses outside the cabin.
After taking care of their mounts the cousins walked inside to a smell of pure heaven. A cake with a single candle burned on the table and a few presents lay on the table as well with a pink bow around them.
“ I was beginning to think you would miss our daughters first birthday.” Beth said as she walked up and handed Cheyenne to Johnny.
“ Not a chance…….We wouldn’t miss this for the world would we Joe?”
“ No sir.” he responded back with a grin.
Johnny was well on the road to recovery with his father and brother. Him and Beth were still repairing the damage he had done to their marriage, but he wasn’t about to stop trying. Johnny Madrid had it all now. A wife who loved him, a beautiful daughter, a cousin as a partner in a horse ranch that was growing with the demand for his horses. His father and him were becoming closer but he would never trust the man fully again even though the past was the past. Some things in the past just couldn’t be forgotten. Scott and him spent as much time together as they could. Johnny stood up as best man for his older brother when he married a girl from Sacramento he met there on a business trip.
Murdoch sadly past away ten years later on New Years Eve during the night. Sam said it was most likely a heart attack. Murdoch had got to see both his son’s marry and enjoy two beautiful granddaughters and three grandsons before passing. Scott and Ashley had given him a boy and girl and Johnny and Beth had had two more children, Both boys and both looking just like their father. The Andalusian stallion Johnny’s uncle had became breeding stock as Johnny and Joe bred him to selective mares until they were able to acquire a mare from brothers in Spain. Andres and Diego Zamora ran the Aranjuez Estancia, one of the oldest breeding farms in Spain.
The mare was sired by El Soldado a magnificent sire. The mare was a direct descendant from mares purchased by the Spanish King and placed at Aranjuez.
Years later Johnny and Joe had Zamoranos bloodlines running on the Double M ranch in the San Joaquin. Neither cousin would sell to just anyone. The purchase of these fine gentile horses came with a hefty price and only went to respective buyers. Johnny Madrid had it all as he sat atop his stallion and looked out at the valley below. Madrid the gunfighter became a thing of the past as he hoped he would. Sitting here looking down at golden colts running and playing he thought back to the first time he did this looking out over Lancer all those years ago and smiled before heading home.
( Author’s Note )
In this story you will find the magnificent Andalusian horse mentioned. This graceful gorgeous horse dates back to the 15th century. Any and all that I said about this horse is actual facts.
In the last chapter the names of both human’s, stallion’s and mare’s are real. The Estancia in Spain is real.
I felt that a horse as great as the Andalusian deserved truth to be wrote about it and not something made up.
I also mentioned the Tennessee Walker which is another very graceful horse and true to it’s standings.
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