#2 in the Justice For Teresa series
I don’t own them, and no money is being made from this. I am just taking them out on an adventure. All original characters from Lancer belong to their rightful owner/ owners. Any others belong to me.
This story will have an R-Rating due to possible language and violence.
Johnny Madrid Lancer
General Juan Joséde Andrade – Mexican Army
Major Juan Arago – Mexican Army
President Porfirio Diaz – Mexico
General Francisco Madera – Rurales
Captain Juan Mendez – Rurales
Lieutenant Manuel Flores – Rurales
Sergeant Sebastian Tejada – Rurales
Red Lopez – Cholla Cattle Company
John Allen – SherifJames P. Booth – Arizona Ranger
William C. Warren- Arizona Ranger
Venustiano Carranza- Rancher, Sonora, Mexico
Emilliano Zapata-Rancher, Sonora, Mexico
Harvey Dietrich-Diamond A Ranch, Arizona
Puerto Peñasco Prison, Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico
Santa Teresa de Alti, Alti, Sonora, Mexico
Tajito, Sonora, Mexico.
Charlie- Stagecoach driver
Father Jacob- Santa Teresa de Alti
This story is part 2 to ” Justice for Teresa ” If you haven’t read that one, then you might be lost reading this one first. President Diaz is angry at General Madera, and how he has failed to apprehend Johnny Madrid. He removes General Madera and two of his staff from being in charge of the Rurales, and orders them to leave Mexico. General Madera, humiliated, vows to find Madrid.
Murdoch sends Johnny on a business trip to the Cholla Cattle Company at Fort Yuma, California to purchase an expensive breeding bull, that he will bring back to Lancer by train. Murdoch and Scott are unaware he has been taken by Madera and his men until a wire is sent a few days after he should have arrived at the ranch to buy the bull.
“ General Madera, viene una infantería. Es el General Andrade, y el Mayor Arago estácon él.” ( General Madera, there is an infantry coming. It is General Andrade, and Major Arago is with him.) Captain Juan Mendez said.
General Madera stood up. “ ¿Ellos vienen aquí?” ( They are coming here?) General Madera asked.
“ Si, acaba de entrar un jinete de centinela. Los vio a una milla de distancia.” ( Yes, a Sentry rider just came in. He seen them about a mile out.) the captain responded.
“ Me pregunto por quénunca recibínoticias de que vendrían.” ( I wonder why I never received word they were coming.) General Madera said as the infantry rode into camp. “ General Andrade, Mayor Arago, bienvenido. Por favor, ¿no te bajarás y saldrás del calor?” ( General Andrade, Major Arago, welcome. Please, won’t you get down and come in out of the heat?)
“ Gracias. Hace un calor excepciional este año?” ( Thank you. It is exceptionally warm this year.) General Andrade said.
“¿A quédebo una visita tan prestigiosa?” ( To what do I owe such a prestigious visit?) Madera asked.
“ Mi visita no es agradable. El Presidente Diaz nos envió a mí y a Arago personalmente para hacer esto.”( My visit is not a pleasant one. President Diaz sent me and Arago personally to do this.) Andrade said as he walked inside.
“ Johnny, would you mind going to pick up that breeding bull we bought?” Murdoch asked.
“ The one Red Lopez at the Cholla Cattle Company outside Yuma sold you?” Johnny asked.
“ Unless you know of another breeding bull we purchased recently, yes.” Murdoch responded. “ Will the round-up and branding be finished by the end of the week son?” he asked.
“ Should be.” Johnny said. “ You sure you want to send me to Yuma?”
“ There’s no one else I can send.” Murdoch responded. “ Scott has to get that surveying done. That report has to go in next week.”
“ Cipriano or Walt could go.” Johnny suggested.
“ Red will be expecting you or Scott.” he said.
“ Fine, wire the money to the bank in Yuma, so I’m not carrying all that money?” Johnny suggested.
“ Johnny, aren’t you worried about being that close to the Mexican border?” Teresa asked.
“ The old man isn’t, so why should I be.” Johnny responded as he stood up. “ I’ll see ya tonight Teresa.” he said on his way out.
“ Murdoch, after what happened with Huerta, aren’t you worried sending him to Yuma?” she asked.
“ Yes, but I have no choice, Scott can’t go, and that bull has to be picked up by the end of the month. Lancer needs that new bloodline. I’m sure Johnny will be alright. He’ll only be there a day, two at the most.”
“ Estás más preocupado por ese toro que la seguridad de tus propios hijos.” ( You are more concerned about that bull than your own sons safety.) Maria said.
“ Me escuchaste preguntarle si estaba bien con ir a Maria.” ( You heard me ask him if he was alright with going Maria. He could have said no.)
“ Y te habrías enojado si se hubiera negado. Te preguntósi estabas seguro de que querías enviarlo a Yuma. No quiere ir alláabajo.” ( And you would have been angry if he had refused. He asked you if you were sure you wanted to send him to Yuma. He does not want to go down there.) Maria responded.
“ Scott, you shouldn’t be out of bed.” Teresa cut in.
“ I’m afraid those four walls are getting a little boring to look at. I thought I would come down and get a couple books to read.” Scott responded. “ Where’s Johnny?”
“ Your brother just left to do more round-up and branding.” Murdoch said. “ I asked him if he minded going to Fort Yuma to pick up that bull.”
“ You want Johnny to go to Fort Yuma, after what he just went through in Mexico?” Scott demanded.
“ He could have refused.” Murdoch responded.
“ Have you forgot he has a one hundred thousand peso bounty on him in Mexico?” Scott asked with anger.
“ No I have not.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Then why did you even ask him to go?” Scott asked.
“ Because that bull needs to be picked up by the end of the month or we lose it. Lancer needs that bull for new bloodline.” Murdoch said.
“ So once again, you put the needs of this damn ranch over the safety of your own son.” Scott said before walking out of the kitchen.
“ If someone had told me raising two sons would be so difficult.” Murdoch started.
“ Maybe that’s the problem Murdoch?” Teresa cut in. “ You didn’t raise them.”
“ Creo que sabes por quéestamos aqui?”( I think you know why we are here?) Andrade asked.
“No.” Madera responded as he poured three drinks.
“ No, estas seguro?” ( No, are you sure?) Arago asked.
“ Si, estoy seguro.” ( Yes, I am sure.) General Madera responded as he handed them their drinks.
“ El Presidente Diaz nos ha enviado aquípor tu culpa. Él siente que eres una vergüenza para él. Él está, cómo digo, decepcionado de ti, y siente que ya no puedes hacer tu trabajo.” ( President Diaz has sent us here because of you. He feels you are an embarrassment to him. He is, how do I say, disappointed in you, and feels you can no longer do your job.)
“ Hago mi trabajo muy bien. Los campesinos hacen lo que yo digo. Los que no son tratados con dureza. Tomo lo que quiere.” ( I do my job very well. The peasants do what I say. Those who don’t are dealt with harshly. I take what he wants.) Madera snapped back.
“ Él no estádecepcionado de ti por eso. El Presidente Díaz estáenojado contigo por Madrid. No lograste captura y traer al hombre. Por lo tanto, nos ha enviado para relevarte de tus deberes. Usted, el Capitán Mendez, y el Teniente Flores deben irse de México y nunca regresar.” ( He is not disappointed in you for that. President Diaz is angry at you for Madrid. You failed to capture and bring the man in. Therefore he has sent us to relieve you of your duties. You, Captain Mendez, and Lieutenant Flores are to leave Mexico, never to return.)
“ He dedicado cuarenta años a México. El Vapitán Gonzales es quien no pudo traer a Madrid después de que lo capturóen Tajito. Fue él quien tratóde ytaerlo con solo dos hambres.”( I have devoted forty years to Mexico. Captain Gonzales is the one who failed to bring Madrid in after he captured him in Tajito. It was him who tried to bring him in with just two men.) Madera said with anger.
“ ¿Cuántos hombres llevóconsigo a Tajito para capturar Madrid?” ( How many men did he take with him to Tajito to capture Madrid?) Andrade asked.
“ Seis. Dos fueron asesinados en Tajito, y él envió de regreso aquí para decirmee que lo había capturado.” ( Six. Two were killed in Tajito, and he sent two back here to tell me he had captured him.) Madera snapped back with anger.
“ No me levantes la voz, Madera. Te daréel mejor de la semana para poner en orden tus auntos. Sábado, ustedes tres se irán. Enviaréuna escolta contigo para asegurarte de que salgas de México. Si alguno de ustedes es visto nuevamente en México, recibirán un disparo a la vista.” ( Do not raise your voice to me Madera. I will give you the rest of the week to get your affairs in order. Saturday, the three of you will leave. I will send an escort with you to assure you leave Mexico. If any one of you are seen in Mexico again, you will be shot on sight.) General Andrade ordered.
Murdoch knocked on Johnny’s bedroom door. “ Yeah.” he heard from the other side. Opening the door, he stepped inside the room.
“ We missed you at supper tonight.” Murdoch said.
“ Got done late.” Johnny responded.
“ Is something wrong?” Murdoch asked.
“ I fired Cody Stevens.” Johnny responded as he poured another shot.
“ Okay. Can I ask why?” Murdoch responded.
“ Stupidity, refusal to follow orders. Spooking the cows to were they busted through the fence, causing two calves to be killed.” Johnny explained.
“ Wasn’t he just hired a couple days ago?” Scott asked from the doorway.
“ Yeah.” Johnny said. “ How you feeling?”
“ Good. I have a better idea of how you feel now when Sam orders you to stay in bed, or not do anything.” Scott responded. “ Murdoch said you agreed to go to Yuma to get the bull. I don;t think that’s a good idea brother.”
“ Nobody else to do it.” Johnny said as he stood up, and walked over to his dresser.
“ That bull is not more important than your life Johnny.” Scott said. “ We can get another bull from somewhere else.”
“ Not with those bloodlines.” Murdoch cut in. “ Look, I would go, but I have that cattleman’s meeting to attend next week. Johnny can take the stage down and though a longer ride, he can bring the bull back on the train.”
“ I guess you were right little brother. We’re not part owners of this ranch. We’re just hired hands and nothing more.” Scott said with anger.
“ Because he calls the tune.” Johnny added.
Johnny stepped off the stage in Los Angeles at the Wilmington Exchange Hotel, and Stage Station and looked around. Five days before he had left Stockton on the stage. The stage east to Fort Yuma wouldn’t be leaving until Sunday at one thirty in the afternoon. A vital piece of information the ticket seller in Stockton never mentioned. Now stuck for two days, all he wanted was a hot bath, hot meal, and a soft bed to sleep in. Being in Los Angeles with so many people had him on edge. Never one to like big crowds, Johnny went inside.
“ Yes sir, can I help you?” the hotel clerk asked.
“ Need a room, a hot bath, and a good cooked hot meal.” Johnny responded.
“ Alright, we can give you all three of those. Will you be staying long?” the clerk asked.
“ Just until the stage leaves for Yuma Sunday.” Johnny said as he signed the registry book.
“ Okay Mister Lancer of Morro Coyo. It’ll be two dollars a day without a bath in the room, three dollars with.” the clerk explained.
“ For that price, the bed better be soft.” Johnny said as he paid for the room.
The clerk shot Johnny a scowl as he handed him his key. “ Room twenty six, top of the stairs go straight to the second hall on the left and your room will be on the right at the end.”
“ Thanks.” Johnny said. “ When can I get that hot bath?”
“ I’ll send someone up straight away Mister Lancer.” the clerk responded.
“ Sounds good.” Johnny said as he picked up his saddlebags and headed upstairs.
“ Where do you think Johnny is?” Teresa asked.
“ He should have switched stages in Los Angeles this morning and should be on his way to Fort Yuma, and arrive there in two days.” Murdoch responded.
“ If Johnny arrived in Los Angeles this morning, he won’t be leaving there headed east until Sunday.” Scott said as he walked into the room.
“ Did you get the surveying done?” Murdoch asked.
“ It will be finished up by noon tomorrow.” Scott said. “ When I rode into town to get the mail this morning, the stage clerk told me he forgot to tell you that the stage would arrive in Los Angeles today, but the one going east wouldn’t be leaving until Sunday afternoon.”
“ Two days in Los Angeles.” Teresa said.
“ What I don’t understand is why you didn’t buy a bull from Warner’s Ranch?” Scott asked. “ They have good blooded bulls, and it would have kept Johnny away from the border.”
“ Yes, but their price is too high.” Murdoch responded.
“ So you risk my brothers life over money?” Scott asked.
“ Do I need to remind you that this is a cattle ranch, and without good breeding bulls, Lancer cannot remain a sound investment?” Murdoch asked.
“ Do I need to remind you that Johnny has a bounty on his head, and a Rurale General who will stop at nothing to capture, torture, and kill him?” Scott snapped back.
“ Stop it you two. Stop with all this fighting.” Teresa ordered.
“ Es el general. Se va mañana por la tarde en el escenario hacia el este hacia Tuma.” (It’s him General. He is leaving tomorrow afternoon on the eastbound stage to Yuma.) Mendez said.
“Te quiero en ese escenario con él mañana. Saldremos por le mañana y viajaremos hacia el este e una buena zona desierta para detener el escenario y tomar ese hijo de puta. Esta vez no escapatá. Esta vez rendré mi venganza contra el Madrid.” ( I want you on that stage with him tomorrow. We will leave in the morning and ride east to a good deserted area to stop the stage and take that sonofabitch. This time he will not escape. This time I will have my vengeance against Madrid.) Madera ordered.
“ Una vez que lo tenemos, ¿a dónde lo llevamos? No se nos permite regresar a México. El general dijo que nos dispatarían a la vista, incluso se voliéramos con Madrid.” ( Once we have him, where do we take him? We are not allowed back in Mexico. The General said we would be shot on sight, even if we do come back with Madrid.) Flores said.
“ Esa vieja choza de mina abandonada en la que nos quedamos, sería un buen lugar. Podríamos ver si alguien viene de millas a la redonda, y nadie podría escuchar sus gritos.” ( That old abandoned mine shack we stayed in, that would be a good place. We could see if anyone is coming from miles around, and nobody would be able to hear his screams) Mendez suggested.
“ Sí, eso funcionaría.” ( Yes, that would work) Madera said.
“ ¿A dónde lo llevamos?”( Where do we take him at?) Flores asked.
“ Indian Wells station.” Madera responded. “ Estáa dieciocho millas entre estaciones, y lejos de una ciudad.” ( It is eighteen miles between stations, and far from a town.)
“ ¿Quépasa se Madrid nos reconoce mientras estamos aquíen la ciudad?” ( What if Madrid recognizes us while we are here in town?) Flores asked.
“ ¿Re ha visto antes?” ( Has he seen you before?) Madera asked.
“ No, no lo creo.”( No, I don’t think so.) Mendez responded.
“ Entonces no te preocupes por eso.”( Then don’t worry about it.) Madera responded.
“ No permiten armas en el escenario. ¿Cómo se supone que Méndez someterá a Madrid?” ( They do not permit guns on the stage. How is Mendez supposed to subdue Madrid?) Flores stated.
“Lo que no saben no les harádaño. Tendráuna pistola.” ( What they don’t know, will not hurt them. He will have a pistol.) Madera said.
“ Well as I live and breathe.” the stage driver said as he stuck out his hand. “ How the hell are ya kid?”
Johnny shook the mans hand with vigor. “ I’m good. What are you doing here Charlie? I thought you only run in Texas.”
“ Better pay.” Charlie said as the sheriff walked over to them.
“ Johnny Madrid. I heard you came in on the Friday stage. Been a while.” Sheriff Allen said. “ What brings you here?”
“ I’m just passing through, headed to Fort Yuma to pick up a bull for my old man.” Johnny responded.
“Okay folks, the stage east leaves in five minutes, so you might want to get aboard.” Charlie yelled.
“ No guns allowed except employees of the stage.” Charlie said.
“ Pardon, I did not know.” Mendez said as he removed his gunbelt, and handed it to Charlie.
“ You can have it back when you reach your destination.” Charlie said to Mendez.
“ Let me help you ma’am.” Johnny said as he opened the door.
“ Thank you sir.” the woman said.
“ Are you a gunfighter?” her son blurted out.
“ Andy, I told you the men out here wear a gun.” the woman said. “ I’m sorry sir.”
“ That’s alright.” Johnny said. “ Do I look like a gunfighter to you?” he asked the boy.
“ You wear your gun low on your hip like one. Book I got says that’s a sure fire way to tell if a man is a gunfighter.” Andy responded.
Johnny leaned down close to the boy. “ Don’t believe everything you read in those dime novels. Now get on board with your mother.”
Johnny noticed the look he got from the Mex as he helped the woman and boy to board.
“ Parece que va a ser un viaje agradable.” ( Looks like it’s going to be a pleasant trip.) Mendez said as he boarded.
“ Usted molesta a la dama, y yo y tendremos palabras.” ( You bother the lady, and me and you will have words.) Johnny said coldly as he undid his gunbelt and handed it up to Charlie.
“ Me referia simplemente a una conversación de alto nivel. No quise hacer daño.” (I was merely meaning in conversation senor. I meant no harm.) Mendez responded.
“ The stage will be gone before we get there.” Flores said.
“ Mendez will not let Madrid leave that station. Even if we are late, he knows what to do.” Madera said.
“ And what of the other passengers, the woman and her son?” Flores asked.
“ I have no interest in them. They are free to leave, as well as the stage driver once we have Madrid.” Madera responded.
“ Okay folks, time to get aboard.” Charlie said.
“ That’s far enough Madrid.” Mendez ordered as he pointed his pistol at Johnny. “ The rest of you can leave, but this mestizo stays here.”
“ What’s this all about mister?” Charlie demanded.
“ Do what he says Charlie.” Johnny said.
“ Old man, you, the woman, and kid can leave. Me and my friends have plans for Madrid.” Mendez responded as he walked up to Johnny. “ General Madera has special plans for you.”
“ Madera, I thought you looked familiar.” Johnny said. “ This isn’t Mexico.”
“ No it’s not, but that does not matter. You have cost him great embarrassment, and his position with the Mexican army.” Mendez explained as Madera, and Flores rode up.
“ You’re Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?” Andy asked.
“ Hush Andy, and get on the stage.” his mother ordered.
“ But ma, he’s the fastest gunfighter west of the Mississippi river.” Andy said as he got on the stage.
Johnny stood there as the stage left and Madera dismounted, and walked over to him.
“ Me ha costado una gran vergüenza con el Presidente Diaz. Tanto es así, me han quedado sin mi propio país. Por eso, te haré pagar un alto precio antes de llevarte de regreso a México para morir en una prisión Mexicana a la que perteneces mestizo.” ( You have cost me great embarrassment with President Diaz. So much so, I have been run out of my own country. For that, I will make you pay dearly before I take you back to Mexico to die in a Mexican prison where you belong mestizo.) Madera said before hitting Johnny across the face with his riding crop, cutting his left cheek open. “ Ata sus manos a la espalda y súbele a un caballo.” ( Tie his hands behind this back, and get him on a horse.)
Scott burst into the grand room through the veranda doors. “ Johnny never made it to pick up the bull.”
Murdoch stood up. “ What do you mean he never made it?” he demanded as he walked around his desk.
“ We got a wire from Red Lopez, he says Johnny never showed up to buy the bull.” Scott responded.
“ He should be on his way back by now. It’s been almost two weeks.” Teresa said.
“I sent a wire to the stage station in Los Angeles. They said he got on the stage last Sunday, headed to Yuma.” Scott responded as he handed both wires to his father. “ I’m leaving on the morning stage, and going down there.” Scott said before turning to head upstairs.
“ I’m going with you.” Murdoch said.
“ I’ll pack you some medical supplies. You may need it.” Teresa said.
Sharp pain wracked his body. His arms numb from being tied behind his back for days. His hands numb from the rope tied around his wrist. His right eye swollen almost shut, his bottom lip split and swollen. Bruising starting to show on his throat from were Mendez several times had choked him unconscious as Madera and Flores watched and cheered.
“¿Cómo te gusta mi tratamiento mestizo?” ( How do you like my treatment mestizo?) Madera asked as he walked over.
Johnny glared at the man
“ El general te hizo una pregunta, respóndele.” ( The general asked you a question, answer him.) Mendez said before kicking Johnny hard in the back.
“ Go to hell.” Johnny said before spitting blood on Madera’ boots.
“ Stand him up.” Madera ordered as he went to his saddle, and removed his whip.
Flores and Mendez grabbed Madrid, and forced him to his feet.
Madera walked around behind Johnny. “ ¿Te gusta ser desafiante? Te falta disciplina y modales. Sentirás qué disciplina es mestiza. Gritarás en agonía antes de que termine de azotarte.” ( You like to be defiant. You lack discipline, and manners. You shall feel what discipline is mestizo. You will scream out in agony before I am done whipping you.) Madera said firmly before he started striking Johnny repeatedly with the whip.
Johnny sucked in air and held it with every strike. Reaching deep down inside his inner self to keep from screaming out from the pain. Finally darkness crept in as his knees grew weak and he could no longer stand up.
“ No lo dejes desmayar antes de darle su sorpresa.” ( Do not let him pass out before I give him his surprise.) Madera said as he walked over, and picked up a bottle of tequila.
Johnny seen Madera had a bottle of a clear liquid in his hand. His gut told him his flesh was about to become fire as he sucked in all the strength he could for what was about to happen.
“ No quisiera que contraigas una infección.” ( I would not want you to get an infection.) Madera said right before pouring the white liquid on his back.
Johnny bit the inside of his mouth to stop a scream from escaping him as a pain like no other washed over his back. Every lash burning like fire.
Madera walked around and grabbed him by the hair. “ Te harégritar o rogarme que te mate antes de llegar a Puerto Peñasco. Mañana nos vamos a México. Los generales A ndrade y Arago verán québuenos soldados somos y nos reinstalarán en el ejército.” ( I will make you either scream or beg me to kill you before we get to Puerto Peñasco. Tomorrow we leave for Mexico. Generals Andrade and Arago, will see what good soldiers we are, and reinstate us in the army.) Madera instructed.
“Y si lo intenta, no señor? Dijeron que nos disparaían si volviéramos a México.” ( And if they don’t sir? They said we would be shot on sight if we ever came back to Mexico.) Mendez asked.
“ Tendremos Madrid con nosotros. Se olvidarán de todo eso y se complacerán con nosotros por capturar finalmente a ese cerdo.” ( We will have Madrid with us. They will forget all about that, and be pleased with us for finally capturing that swine.) Madera responded.
“ Sheriff, I’m Murdoch Lancer, and this is my son Scott. We are here about my other son Johnny.” Murdoch said.
“ Mister Lancer. I’m Sheriff John Allen. I put out inquiries about your son, and found out he made it as far as the Indian Wells station where he was taken by three men. One of which I was told got on the stage here and rode with your son.” the sheriff explained. “ The driver, Charlie said he had to remind the man about no guns on the stage, but the man had one hidden, because Charlie said he pulled it on your son when they were about to depart. Said that’s when two other fellas rode up. They let the stage leave with the other passengers and he reported it as soon as he could when he got to Fort Yuma.” the sheriff explained.
“ How far is it to the Indian Wells station?” Scott asked.
“ About hundred and twenty five miles.” The sheriff said.
“ Let’s go see if the livery has two good horses to sell. Thank you for your time sheriff.” Murdoch said.
“ Hold on a minute. There’s a man at the hotel who can help you. Names James P. Booth. He’s an Arizona Ranger. He has authority to cross into Mexico and get your son out of a Mexican prison.” Sheriff Allen said.
“ And what makes you think my brother is in a Mexican prison?” Scott demanded.
“ Son, it’s no secret down here who he is. You describe him anywhere along the border and people will tell you his name is Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter. A man everybody knows the Rurales and Mexican army hate, and would do anything to capture, torture, and eventually kill.” the sheriff said.
“ My son is not Johnny Madrid anymore Sheriff Allen. He hasn’t been for several years now. He’s not wanted by the law for anything.” Murdoch responded firmly.
“ Not wanted in the states, but he is a wanted man in Mexico. He has a very high bounty on him. One for one hundred thousand pesos.” the sheriff said. “ Money like that can make a man forget his loyalties, especially when it comes to feeding his family, or keeping his land.”
“ A bounty offered by two ranchers in Mexico sheriff. Offered because my brother fought against those tyrants and corruption. He stood up against them, and killed several Rurales.” Scott said.
“ And what about when he was captured in Tajito? Did your son not track two men into Mexico and brutally kill them, get captured by the Rurales, and escape with the help of you Scott Lancer?” a man asked from behind them.
“ Ranger Booth.” Allen said.
“ Sheriff. I believe I asked you two distinct questions.” Ranger Booth said.
“ Yes my brother tracked Billy and Pete Anderson into Mexico. They broke into our home months before and assaulted our little sister.” Scott responded. “ And yes I helped my brother escape. They had him in their custody, and where torturing him when I stopped it.”
“ So you willingly went into Mexico with the intent of committing murder, or doing whatever you had to do to get your brother out of there?” Ranger Booth demanded.
“ They left me no choice. I didn’t go there with the intent of killing them. I gave them every chance to walk away. They’re the ones who made the choice to die.” Scott responded.
“ You could very well be a wanted man in Mexico as well.” Booth said.
“ I doubt that. Nobody was left alive.” Scott said.
“ No Rurales were left alive, but you have a bartender in Tajito who gave me a damn good description of you. Then there’s a woman at the mission in Alti, by the name of Mary. She said you brought your brother there due to his injuries. That Father Jacob had to hid the two of you until you could leave.” Ranger Booth said. “ Now, I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’re a man capable of killing the Anderson brothers the way they were killed. Unarmed, and their throats cut wide open, and Rurale Miguel Bringas gutted after he was shot. No, you wouldn’t kill like that. Now Madrid, I’ve heard he carries a knife on the inside of his left boot. A knife he is as deadly with as he is a gun. I also know of a man Madrid cut wide open with that knife in El Paso. A man he wounded, walked up to, and gutted. Only reason he wasn’t arrested and hung for that murder is the supposed witnesses wouldn’t testify. Everybody felt that man got what he deserved because of what he did. It would seem he brutally raped a pregnant woman,causing her to lose her baby.”
“ My son did what he had to Ranger. He made a promise to his little sister that he would make those men pay for what they did to her, and that is exactly what he did.” Murdoch cut in as a sick feeling came over him hearing how his son had killed those men.
“ Your son isn’t the law Mister Lancer. He doesn’t have the right to be judge, jury and executioner. What he did before he came home to you and Lancer, you won’t find in those Pinkerton reports you’ve been collecting. I don’t know what Johnny has told you he’s done in his past, but I do know the Arizona Rangers have a long list of crimes he has either done, or taken part in, including murder.”
“ That is preposterous. My son is not a cold blooded murderer.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ And Captain Huerta, was his death also a justifiable death?” Booth asked. “ Was killing him the way your son Johnny did in your barn justified, or was that done out of pure vengeance for you being shot Mister Lancer?”
“ Let me tell you something Ranger Booth, Lancer takes care of it’s own. What my son did that day was defend his family. That man came to Lancer and ambushed us. We all filed reports with the sheriff in Green River. Johnny was justified in what he did.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ I know all about the reports. Very convenient for your son.” Booth said.
“ And just what the hell does that mean?” Scott demanded.
“ It means, I don’t buy it. Your son is a cold blooded killer, and I have every intention of bringing him back to stand trial for the murders of Billy and Pete Anderson. Now…….the two of you have two options, One, you can ride with me into Mexico, and get Madrid out alive, or two, you can be locked up in Sheriff Allen’s jail for interfering with a peace officer.” Ranger Booth explained.
“ And just what makes you think the Rurales will let Johnny go?” Scott demanded.
“ I have papers for his arrest, and have already talked to the top government officials in Mexico, about letting me take Madrid to be tried and hanged in Phoenix.” Booth responded.
“ You are sorely mistaken if you think I am going to let my brother swing from a rope.” Scott said.
“ Scott, we’ll go with you Ranger, but I want the guarantee my son gets a fair trial.” Murdoch requested.
“ Have you gone mad? He fully intends on bringing Johnny back to Arizona to hang for killing the Anderson brothers.” Scott said with anger.
“ Yes, and us being locked up in the sheriff”s jail will be of no help to your brother either.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ I’ll be leaving in the morning. We’ll ride to Indian Wells, and cross into Mexico from there.” Ranger Booth said. “ It’s believed your son was taken to the prison in Puerto Peñasco.”
“ Can I ask how you know this?” Murdoch asked.
“ I have my sources Mister Lancer. Sources I would prefer not to reveal.” Booth said. “ Oh, since they took Madrid to Puerto Peñasco, which is in the hottest, driest part of the Sonoran desert, I suggest you purchase extra canteens. Once we leave Indian wells, the drinking water will be scarce.”
Madera, Flores, Mendez and Madrid rode south, headed to Puerto Peñasco, along the coast. Six days ago they crossed into Mexico.
“ Dos días mestizo, dos días y estarás en la prisión de Puerto Peñasco.” ( Two days mestizo, two days and you will be in Puerto Peñasco prison.) Madera said.
“Me enorgullecerá mucho verlo encerrado tras las rehas, sabiendo que ninca más volveráa a ser libre.” ( I will take great pride in watching you be locked behind bars, knowing you will never be free again.) Mendez added.
Johnny hurt to much to respond. His back screamed with every step his horse took. His mouth so dry, he couldn’t even lick his dry, cracked lips.
“ Dale un poco de aqua. No quiero que muera sobre nosotros antes de que lleguemos allí.” ( Give him some water. I don’t want him dying on us before we get there.) Madera said.
Mendez stopped his horse, untied his canteen, and handed it to Madrid.
Johnny welcomed the coolness of the water on his parched throat as he eagerly drank the water until Mendez took it from him.
“ Es suficiente.” ( That is enough.) Mendez said.
“Could you loosen these ropes. I’m not going to try anything.” Johnny asked.
“ Agradece que te deje tener agua. Tal vez cuando acampemos pronto, te quitarélas cuerdas para que puedas comer. ( Be thankful I let you have water. Maybe when we camp soon I will take the ropes off so you can eat.) Madera said.
“¿Por qué lo mimas?” ( Why you coddling him?) Mendez asked.
“Sus días están contados y él lo sabe. Madrid sabe que si intenta escapar,le dispararán.” ( His days are numbered, and he knows it. Madrid knows if he tries to escape, he will be shot.)
“¿Por qué no le ponemos los grilletes? No podrá huir usándolos.” ( Why don’t we put the shackles on him? He won’t be able to run off wearing them.)
“ Mañana es el primer día del resto de tu vida.” ( Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.) Johnny said.
“ ¿Qué estás murmurando?” ( What are you mumbling?)
“ Los indios tienen un dicho. Dicen que mañana es el primer día del resto de tu vida.” ( The Indians have a saying. They say that tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life.)
“ No tienes vida. Al menos no tendrás vida en unos días.” ( You have no life. At least you won’t have a life in a few days.) Mendez said.
“Mi vida terminó cuando mi madre murió cuando yo tenía diez años.” ( My life ended when my mother died.) Johnny said softly.
“ Yu madre era una mexicana que quedóembarazada de un rico ranchero gringo que los echóa los dos cuando era un bebé.” ( Your mother was a Mexican whore who got pregnant by a rich gringo rancher who threw the two of you out when you were a baby.) Madera responded.
“ Mi madre no era una puta.” ( My mother was not a whore.) Johnny said.
Madera busted out laughing. “ Olvidas cómo consiguió los pesos para poner comida en tu barriga y un techo sobre tu cabeza. Trabajóla cantana y se acostócon los hombres que le pagarían. Algunos de ellos los trajo a casa para que se los quitara. Algunos de ellos incluso le pagaron más dinero si ella les parmitía diverirse contigo, golpearte.” ( You forget how she got the pesos to put food in your belly, and a roof over your head. She worked the cantina’ and slept with the men who would pay her. Some of them she brought home to take care of. Some of them even paid more money to her if she would let them have fun with you, beat you.)
“ This is Indian Wells.” Ranger Booth said as he dismounted. This is the last drinkable water until Fort Yuma. We’ll rest up here and leave at dawn.”
“ Why stop here if you know where Johnny was taken?” Scott demanded.
“ Because we have a three hundred mile ride ahead of us to that prison. These horses need rest, and food.” Booth responded.
“ Son, once we cross the border, we’re going to need these horses if we are going to help get your brother out of there.” Murdoch added.
“ I know.” Scott said angrily. “ It just……..I hate the fact my brother is in that Mexican hell hole being tortured.”
“ I have a letter from Benito Juárez, stating that your son will be held in a Mexican prison until I can pick him up. He said Madrid would not be harmed.” Ranger Booth explained.
“ And you believe him?” Scott asked sarcastically.
“ I don’t appreciate your sarcasm boy. Yes I believe him. He’s a government official. He has nothing to gain by lying. Juárez knows the damage that could be done if he does.” Booth responded.
“ Let me tell you something Ranger Booth…….”
“ Scott, the man is right.” Murdoch cut in.
“ Right….hell Murdoch, he hasn’t been right about one damn thing. Why do you think Johnny was in the Mexican war? It was to fight tyrants like Juárez, Diaz, Gonzales, Madera, and others hell bent on taking whatever they wanted from those less fortunate. Power down here works for men like them by stealing, and controlling. They use fear to control, and that fear comes in the form of the Rurales Ranger Booth. Rich cattle barons have been stealing for years down here, and they get away with it because they give a lot of what they steal to those high and mighty government officials you think so highly of. Juárez’ words don’t mean anything. Once they have my brother in a prison, they will torture and beat him just shy of death. That is the kind of man General Madera is. That Ranger Booth is why he was put in charge of the Rurales.” Scott explained with anger.
“ You seem to know quit a bit about Mexico and it’s people.” Ranger Booth said.
“ I know what my brother told me. After all, he did live his whole life down here.” Scott responded before leading his horse to the barn.
“ Ranger Booth, what brings you here?” Stu, the station master asked.
“ Stu, I’m here on business. The three of us will be staying the night to give the horses a good rest before we head into Mexico.” Booth said.
“ You after those who took Madrid?” the man asked.
“ I’m after Madrid.” he said.
“ They came back thru here on their way into Mexico a week ago. Those few days they had him, they sure did a number on him. He was bloody and bruised up good. Looked like they took a whip to his back as bloodied up as it was.” The man said.
“ Stu, this is Murdoch Lancer, Madrid is his son.” Booth said.
“ Son, I…I sure am sorry you had to hear that Mister Lancer. I guess sometimes my mouth over-talks my brain.” Stu said.
“ That’s alright. At least I know my son was still alive a week ago.” Murdoch said.
“ It’s just that I took you and the younger one as Arizona Rangers also.” Stu explained.
“ He’s my son also. I’d be most appreciative if you didn’t tell Scott what you just said about Johnny. How he was beaten.” Murdoch responded.
“ Alright. Go on inside. I have rabbit stew on the stove. And a plate of biscuits on the table. I’ll take care of your horses.” Stu said.
“ “ Has anyone else been around that might seem suspicious?” Booth asked.
“ No, just the passengers who stretch while the teams are being switched out.” he said before leading the horses to the barn. “ Oh, one of them fellas I heard called Mendez, if that’s any help.”
“ Just what is this Peurto Peñasco prison like?” Murdoch asked as they walked inside the station.
“ Hell. It sits in the hottest, dries part of the Sonoran desert known as the Altar. The prison itself was built right in the middle of volcanic rock that surrounds three sides of it. The ocean is behind it. It’s infested with sharks. The rocks are so jagged, there isn’t a man yet who has been able to escape going over them. Anyone who does make it dies in the desert within five miles, or is hunted down and shot.” Ranger Booth explained. “ Treatment inside is not good. They’re lucky if they get a stale, rancid cup of water a day, moldy, hard as rock bread, or mash full of maggots to eat.”
“ Jesus.” Murdoch said as Scott walked in.
“ What?” Scott asked.
“ He was telling me about this prison we are going too.” Murdoch responded.
“ And?” Scott asked.
“ Hell is nicer.” Murdoch said.
Johnny sat under the mesquite tree looking at his bloody, raw wrist. He figured his father and brother should know by now that something had happened to him. That he never made it to pick up the bull. He could just hear his father bellowing at him about how irresponsible he is, and that he cost them future stock. Tearing off a strip of his shirt, he wrapped it around his right wrist and tied it the best he could to try and keep dirt out of the wound. Glancing over at Madera, and Mendez sitting by the campfire eating, his stomach started to rumble at the thought of possibly getting something to eat. The last food he’d had was days ago. He knew he couldn’t keep going on just the little water they would give him once a day, not and keep his strength up. The last time he was in a Mexican prison, the stench was overwhelming, the water rancid, the food, what little they got, was infested with maggots, and the bread either hard as a rock or molded. He’d heard nightmares about Puerto Peñasco prison from men during the war who had relatives sent there, never to come out alive. The prison sits along the Baja Peninsula surrounded by lava rock on three sides that is so jagged, no man could ever escape through it. The west side opened into the shark infested waters. Only one way in, and one way out, and that was the small narrow passage that had been dynamited allowing entrance. Any man fool enough to try and escape was either food for the sharks, shot down, or if he was lucky enough to make it out, the Altar desert is one of the driest, and hottest parts of the Sonoran desert and would kill him before he could make it five miles in the summer, and freeze him to death in the winter.
“ Ni siquiera pienses en intentar escapar.”( Don’t even think about trying to escape.) Mendez said as he brought a plate of beans and a tortilla over and dropped it at his feet.
“ Desierto del altar, el desierto más seco y caluroso de Sonora. Solo un tonto intentaría escapar.” ( Altar desert, the hottest, driest desert of the Sonoran. Only a fool would try to escape.) Johnny responded.
Mendez glared at Johnny before kicking sand in his food, and walking back over to the fire laughing.
Being so hungry, Johnny didn’t care about the sand he couldn’t remove and ate the beans and tortilla hungrily as Mendez watched.
“ Tal vez deberías lamer el plato como un perro?”( Maybe you should lick the plate like a dog?) Mendez yelled.
“Déjalo en paz Méndez.” (Leave him alone Mendez.) Flores said.
Mendez went to grab Flores.
“Suficiente,deja a Madrid solo. No quiero que lo molestes más. Estaremos en la prisión pasado mañana.” ( Enough, leave Madrid alone. I don’t want you bothering him anymore. We will be at the prison day after tomorrow.) Madera ordered.
“ Teniente, no me diga qué hacer nunca más. Si lo haces, te recordaré quién es el Capitán y quién es el Teniente. ( Lieutenant, do not tell me what to do ever again. You do, and I will remind you who is the Captain, and who is the Lieutenant.) Mendez said firmly.
“Usted no es un Capitán, y yo ya no soy un teniente, al igual que él ya no es un General. El General Andrade nos dijo que el dia que nos hizo salir de México.” ( You are not a Captain, and I am not a Lieutenant anymore, just like he is not a General anymore. General Andrade told us that the day he made us leave Mexico.) Flores stated firmly.
“ Una vez que nos vean traer a Madrid, seremos readmitidos en el ejército. El Presidente Diaz estarámuy satisfecho con nosotros, y también el General Andrade.” ( We will be reinstated in the army once they see us bring Madrid in. President Diaz will be very pleased with us.)
“ No nos dejarán volver. Madrid se ha burlado tanto de usted como del Presidente Diaz.” ( They will not let us come back. Madrid has made a mockery of both you, and President Diaz.) Mendez spat as he stood up and walked over to Johnny and kicked him hard in the ribs, before grabbing his hair and pulling him up on his knees.
Madera and Flores got up and went to Mendez, and grabbed him by his arms, pulling him away from Johnny.
“ Te dije que te mantuvieras alejado de él, y desafiaste mi orden. Lo necesitamos vivo.” ( I told you to stay away from him, and you defied my order. We need him alive.) Madera said with anger.
“ General Andrade, están de vuelta.” ( General Andrade, they are back.) Sergeant Tejada said.
“¿Quién ha vuelto Sargento?” ( Who is back Sergeant?) the general asked.
“ Madera, Mendez, y Flores. Vienen aquía Pierto Peñasco. Traen a Madrid con ellos.” (Madera, Mendez, and Flores. They are coming here to Puerto Peñasco. They are bringing Madrid with them.)
“¿Traerán a Johnny Madrid aqui?” ( They are bringing Johnny Madrid here?) the sergeant responded.
“ Si señor. Una patrulla los vio a medio día de viaje desde aquí.” ( Yes sir. A patrol spotted them about half a days ride from here.)
“ Haga que una patrulla los acompañe y dígale al General Argo que quiero verlo de inmediato.” ( Have a patrol escort them in, and tell General Arago I want to see him right away.)
“ Hay una patrulla que se dirige hacia nosotros.” ( There is a patrol headed toward us.) Mendez said.
“ Una patrulla? Madera, vienen a matarnos.” ( A patrol? Madera, they are coming to kill us.) Flores blurted out.
“ Cállate. No vienen a matarnos, tonto. Verán que tenemos Madrif, y probablemente nos acompañarán el resto del camino.” ( Shut up. They are not coming to kill us you fool. They will see we have Madrid, and probably escort us the rest of the way.)
Johnny watched as the dust cloud got closer. A sick feeling coming over him as the patrol rode up, and surrounded them.
“ Se nos ordena escoltarlo a Puerto Peñasco. Danos tus armas ahora.” ( We are ordered to escort you to Puerto Peñasco. Give us your weapons now.)
“ Madrid es nuestro prisionero. Nosotros.” ( Madrid is our prisoner. We……….) Madera said.
“ Entregarás tus armas o recibiráas un disparo.” ( You will turn over your weapons, or be shot.)
Madera, Mendez, and Flores handed over their pistols as Captain Munez brought his horse around to face Madrid.
“Eres el mestizo Johnny Madrid?” ( You are the mestizo Johnny Madrid?) Munez asked.
Johnny looked at the Rurale, and nodded.
“ ¿Quién te ganó?” ( Who beat you?) the captain asked.
Johnny looked at Madera, and Mendez.
Captain Munez turned his horse and rode back over to Madera.
“ ¿Por qué golpeaste a tu prisionero?” ( Why did you beat your prisoner?) he demanded.
“ Carece de disciplina y modales. Simplemente le enseñamos modales y le mostramos qué es la disciplina. Lo que hice no es diferente de lo que se le hará en prisión.” ( He lacks discipline, and manners. We simply taught him manners and showed him what discipline is. What I did is no different than what will be done to him in prison.) Madera responded.
“ Eres una desgracia para el Presidente Díaz. El General Andrade te hará pagar por desobedecer sus órdenes.” ( You are a disgrace to Presidente Diaz. General Andrade will make you pay for disobeying his orders.) Captain Munez said.
“ You fully intend on taking my brother back to Phoenix to stand trial for murdering the Anderson brothers?” Scott asked as they rode away from Indian Wells station, headed southeast.
“ That’s my orders.” Booth responded.
“ Those men broke in our house in the middle of the night, shot my brother, and assaulted our little sister Teresa.” Scott said.
“ Why didn’t you let the law handle it?” Booth asked.
“ We told the law what happened. Those men had been wanted by the law for a long time. Most of their crimes they had committed in Arizona. So why don’t you tell us why you or any other lawman in Arizona never caught them?” Scott demanded.
“There are twenty five Rangers to cover the Arizona territory boy. We can’t always be where we are needed, as I’m sure your old man will attest too since he wore a badge.” Booth said. “ You know, I have a file on your brother going back twelve years. I watched him gun down two of the best once in Nogales. The only reason I didn’t arrest him then was because the two men he gunned down called him out. Your brother, the one your old man said is not a cold blooded killer, shot and killed both those men before either one of them could clear leather. Both those men were shot once in the heart.”
“ How do you know I was a lawman?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Like I said, I have a file on Madrid going back twelve years. I know more about Johnny than you will ever know.” Booth responded. “ See, when a gunfighter as good as Madrid pops up out of nowhere, that peaks the interest of the law. After I seen him kill those two men, I made it my duty to find out everything I could about him, and his family.”
“ When this is over Ranger Booth, I will be paying a visit to Governor Safford, a man I have know for almost thirty years. I will be seeing him about your actions.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Go right ahead Mister Lancer. Other men have tried to take my badge, and well, you can see I’m still wearing it. I’ve been a ranger since they started in eighteen fifty nine, so fifteen years I’ve wore this badge. I’ve been shot seven times, stabbed four, and seen a number of my fellow rangers gunned down trying to make Arizona a safe place to live. So don’t threaten me with who you know.”
“ One Ranger, One Riot, is that it?” Scott asked.
“ That would be the Texas Rangers motto boy. The Arizona Rangers go by integrity, pride, and unequaled law enforcement.” Booth responded.
“ Don’t call me boy again. I’m twenty four years old.” Scott ordered.
“ Maybe when you’ve done something to deserved to be called a man by me, I’ll call you a man.” Booth said.
“ That is enough Ranger Booth. My son , both my sons have been through more in their lives than you will ever know.” Murdoch cut in.
“ Ranger Booth, I assure you, I know military Generals, Colonels, and Majors that you could only dream of ever knowing, or having the privilege of meeting. I served with General Phil Sheridan in the war. I spent a year in the Libby prison watching my fellow soldiers every day die from starvation, sickness, or freezing to death. None of the skirmishes you have been in fighting Indians and outlaws can compare to what I have seen, and done during the Civil War.” Scott said firmly.
“ I lost my older brother in that prison. He was captured three months before the war ended, and died a week later. I wasn’t old enough then to enlist, or I would have fought right beside him. Hell, turns out I ended up fighting in the war in Arizona, just south of Tucson.” Booth said.
“ Picacho Pass. I had heard tell of it. Said union troops sent them scurrying back to Texas.” Scott said.
“ Any chance you met my brother while in there?” he asked.
“ What was your brothers name?” Scott asked.
“ Carver P. Booth.”
“ Did he prefer to be called C.P.?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, that’s him. Dirty blonde hair, about your height and build.”
Scott grew quiet. He didn’t know whether to tell the ranger he was with his brother when he passed away or not. Looking at the rangers eyes, and seeing what he did, gave him his answer.
“ I was with your brother trying to help him for the week before he died. He talked about a younger brother back in Arizona he wished he could see one last time. Said if he could, he would tell him he’s sorry for what he said to him the day he left to go to war.” Scott said.
“ Do you know what he died from?” Booth asked.
“ He was brought in with a gunshot wound in his left shoulder. It was already infected when he was brought in. I did all I could to try and help him. I guess he knew, because he asked me to just stay with him. Said he didn’t want to die alone.” Scott said with sadness.
Booth stopped his horse, dismounted, and walked about twenty feet away, and stopped.
Scott stopped his horse, dismounted and walked over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “ I’m sorry I couldn’t help him.”
“ You did all you could. What you did do, I’m grateful to you for. You didn’t have to stay with my brother so he didn’t die alone.” Booth said softly. “ Thank you.”
Captain Munez rode up to the gate to Puerto Peñasco prison and dismounted.
“ Bajar.” ( Get down.) he ordered.
Madera, Mendez, and Flores dismounted. Mendez went to Madrid, reached up, and yanked him off his horse.
“ Mover mestizo.” ( Move mestizo.) he ordered as he shoved Johnny forward.
“ Detener. No toques Madrid.” ( Stop. You do not touch Madrid.) Captain Munez ordered as he went to Mendez and backhanded him hard across the face.
“ Capitán Núñez,¿ qué está pasando aquí?” ( Captain Munez, what is going on out here?) General Andrade asked.
“ General Andrade, le trajimos el mestizo madrileño.” ( General Andrade, we brought you the mestizo Madrid.) Madera said.
“ No pregunté por qué estás aquí campesino.” ( I did not ask why you are here peasant.) General Andrade said.
“ Te dijeron que nunca volvieras a M éxico.” ( You were told to never come back to Mexico.) General Arago said as he pulled his pistol, and shot Mendez, and Flores dead.
“No, no puedes hacer esto!” ( No, you can’t do this.) Madera yelled.
“ Te dijeron lo que sucedería si volvieras a México. Agradece que sigas vivo. Llévalo adentro y encié ( You were told what would happen if you ever came back to Mexico. Be thankful you are still alive. Take him inside and lock him up.) Andrade responded.
Johnny stood there watching Madera be taken away, waiting, and wondering if a bullet would soon find him.
General Andrade walked up to Madrid. “ You have cost President Diaz and many others great embarrassment.”
“ You speak English better than some.”
“ Do you have anything to say in your defense before I pass sentence mestizo?” General Andrade asked.
“ Did I miss my trial?” Johnny asked sarcastically.
“ You have a sense of humor. That is good.” General Andrade said.
“ You can try.” Johnny said with a laugh right before he was slammed in the back with a rifle butt, dropping him to his knees.
“ You have been found guilty of murder of several of my men.” General Andrade said as Captain Munez viciously kicked Johnny in the ribs.
“ Hanging you would be to easy a death. Therefore, I sentence you to life here at Puerto Peñasco prison busting rocks from sunup to sundown six days a week. I promise you, you will not have a sense of humor for very long half-breed.” Andrade ordered as Johnny was again viciously kicked in his ribs by Munez.
Johnny groaned and struggled to breath as he was yanked to his feet and dragged inside.
“ How far are we from Puerto Peñasco?” Murdoch asked.
“ Three days.” Booth responded.
“ You said you have papers from Mexican officials that will allow you to take my son from that prison.” Murdoch stated. “ What makes you think they are going to release him to you?” he asked.
“ Most of the killings your son has done in Mexico, he did during a time of war. Look this has been in the works ever since your son killed the Anderson brothers.” Booth explained.
“ The Rurales both him and Scott there killed, he could be sentenced to life in prison for, but I convinced Juárez hanging him was better than spending his life behind bars.” he said.
“ I have a feeling you’re not telling us everything Booth. Truth goes a long way.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes it does. You might want to remember that at his trial.” Booth responded.
Scott tossed his plate of food toward the fire and stood up. “ I’m going to check the horses.” he said before walking away.
“ Mister Lancer. You might want to tell your son Scott, that if he tries or does anything to try and keep me from taking Madrid to Phoenix, he will be either arrested, and can stand trial with his brother.” Booth said firmly. “ That goes for you too.”
“ Ranger Booth, I will do whatever I have to do to get my son out of that damn prison, and out of this country, but I promise you that once we are back in Arizona, you better be ready for a fight, because I will not allow my son to swing from a rope for defending himself.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Me has aruinado. Por ti he perdido todo.” ( You have ruined me. Because of you I have lost everything.) Madera spat with anger as he swung a pick.
Johnny ignored Madera, and his rant. He wanted to give the Rurales no excuses to beat on him. His body had suffered enough in the last month. Bruise upon bruise showed on his back, chest, and face. His muscles screamed with every rock he picked up.
“ Encontraré una manera de hacerte pagar. Te mataré Madrid.” ( I will find a way to make you pay. I will kill you Madrid.) Madera said as he spit at Johnny’s feet.
“ Sin hablar.” ( No talking.) a guard ordered.
Madera glared at the guard and then back at Madrid
“ Tu vas a pagar( You will pay.)
“ Le dije que no hablara.”( I said no talking.) the guard said as he walked over and hit Madera in the back with his rifle butt, causing him to lose his balance and fall forward to his knees.
“ El lo comenzó. Es Madrid, deberías estar superando. No yo, idiota.” ( He started it. It is Madrid you should be beating, not me you idiot.) Madera said with anger.
“ Te di una orden y la desobedeciste.” ( I gave you an order, and you disobeyed it.) the guard said as he motioned two guards to take Madera and fasten him between two poles by his wrist.
General Andrade came out of his office when he heard the commotion coming from the yard.
“Assemble the prisoners! They need a reminder of what happens when you disobey orders.” the general ordered.
“ No espere, general, fue Madrid quien lo inició.” ( No wait, General, It was Madrid who started it.) Madera pleaded.
“ Is this true guard?” the general asked.
“ No sir. Madrid has said nothing all day. He has ignored the peasant.” the guard responded.
General Arago turned to General Andrade and spoke softly.
“ The general has made a good suggestion. Since Madrid is the reason this peasant has disobeyed orders. It is only fair that he be punished also. String him up as well Captain.”
Johnny dropped his sledge hammer and kept his hands out away from his body as two guards came over and grabbed him. He knew fighting them would only make the whipping worse. Something he learned the hard way years ago.
“ Ambos hombres han desobedecido una orden directa. Pensé que mis hambres habían dejado las reglas muy claras para todos. No se permite hablar cuando se trabaja. Como ambos han desobedecido esa regla, ambos serán castigados. Ambos hombres recibirán diez azotes a sus espaldas.” ( Both these men have disobeyed a direct order. I thought my men had made the rules very clear to everyone. There is to be no talking allowed when working. Since both have disobeyed that rule, both men will be punished. Both men will receive ten lashings on their back.)
Johnny watched as two guards came over, both carrying a bullwhip, and stopped in front of them. Johnny tried to keep his breathing under control as a blindfold was tied around his eyes. He could hear the guards walk around behind him.
“ le ruego, General Andrade, que no me haga latas.” ( I beg of you General Andrade, please don’t do this to me.) Madera pleaded.
“ Sólo un hombre débil ruega campesino. No escucho a Madrid rogando.” ( Only a weak man begs peasant. I do not hear Madrid begging.)
“¿No le ganó a Madrid?” ( Did he not beat Madrid?) General Arago asked.
“ ¿ Por qué venciste a Madrid?” ( Why did you beat Madrid?) Andrade asked.
“ Le gané porque me costó todo lo que tenía.” ( I beat him because he cost me everything I had.)
“ Madrid no te costó todo lo que tenías. Lo hiciste con tu incompetencia para ser un buen líder. Sigue con su castigo.” ( Madrid did not cost you everything you had. You did that with your incompetence to be a good leader. Get on with their punishment.)
Johnny dug his fingernails into the wooden post and bit the inside of his mouth as his back was cut open with every strike of the leather strap. Finally his arms were set free and he dropped to his knees, blood seeping from the corner of his mouth, as he tried to get his breathing under control.
“ Eres fuerte Madrid. La mayoría de los hambres comían débiles como ese campesino patético junto a ti que lloraba como un bebé. Es malo que hayas elegido el lado equivocado para estar en mi país.” ( You are a strong one Madrid. Most men are weak like that pathetic peasant next to you who cried like a baby. It is too bad you chose the wrong side to be on in my country.)
“ México no pertenece Andrade, México pertenece a su gante.” ( Mexico does not belong to you Andrade, Mexico belongs to it’s people.) Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to Madera.
“ México nunca ha pertenecido al pueblo.” ( Mexico has never belonged to the people.) General Andrade said.
“ Desea mantenerse con vida aquí, y no ser golpeado, luego haga lo que le dijeron y las reglas.” ( You want to stay alive in here, and not be beaten, then do as they said and follow the rules.) Johnny said as he reached down and pulled Madera up off the ground.
“ Quita tus sucias manos de mí.” ( Get your filthy hands off me.) Madera yelled as he jerked free.
“ Lleva a Madera a su celda. No recibe comida esta noche.” ( Take Madera to his cell. He gets no food tonight.) Andrade ordered.
“ Madrid habló sin permiso general. Él habló en tu contra. ¿Quieres que lo castiguen más?” ( Madrid spoke without permission general. He spoke against you. Do you want him punished more?) Captain Munez asked.
“ Why did you help him up?” Madera asked.
“ Because I was tired of hearing him screaming like a stuck hog.” Johnny responded.
“ I will let it go, speaking out of line to me, but I will not allow you to address me in a common manner. For that you will be punished. Captain.”
Captain Munez walked up behind Madrid and hit him as hard as he could in his back with his rifle butt, dropping him to his knees.
“ Ponlo en la caja.” ( Put him in the box.) the general ordered.
“ ¿Por cuánto tiempo general?” ( For how long General?)
“Decidiré cuánto tiempo después.” ( I will decide how long later.) General Madera said before turning and walking back inside.
Johnny struggled against the guards as they drug him over to the steel box, opened it, and shoved him inside, slamming the heavy door shut. He could hear the lock being placed on the hasp. A small slit in the door about an inch high by six inches wide allowed the only daylight inside the hot metal box. He could feel the heat radiate through his thin white pants as he tried to get as comfortable as possible for his back. Never before had he ever been put in a metal box. He’d heard of them, even remembered his brother speaking of them being used during the civil war by the union army against the confederates. Putting his head down, Johnny let his mind drift back to the first time he met his father.
“ You drink don’t you?” Murdoch had asked.
“ When I know the man I’m drinking with yeah.” he had responded. Then his next words to his father echoed loudly in his ears.
“ You got something to say old man, say it.” Johnny had said coldly. Words he wished he had never said.
Remembering how his father told about his first wife, Scott’s mother, and then turning to face him, his father spoke of how he met his mother in Matamoros, but never came right out and said he got her pregnant with him, causing them to get married.
“ A few years later he had met Maria in Matamoros…..she………….they got married, and two years after that he awoke one morning and found her and Johnny gone. It was Teresa who told him the truth of what really happened. A truth his mother never bothered to tell him. Why, hell why did he let his father gourd him into going to get that damn bull? All he could do now was hope and pray that at least his brother would be looking for him.
“ If you’re looking for me brother. I don’t see no way of you getting me out of this mess.” Johnny said as a lone tear rolled down his cheek.
“ We’ll be at the prison in about an hour. I need to know I can count on the two of you keeping calm if you see Johnny?” Ranger Booth asked.
Murdoch stopped his horse. “ If they find out who me and Scott are, it could be bad for Johnny, couldn’t it?”
“ Yes it could. I’m going to get your son out of there, but I can only do it if I have your full cooperation.” Booth said.
“ Whatever it takes. I want my brother back home where he belongs.” Scott said.
“ Ranger look.” Murdoch said “ Dust, and it’s coming this way.”
“ That would be a mounted patrol. They will most likely take out weapons and escort us to the prison. Whatever you do, let me do the talking.”
“ And should they ask who we are?”
“ You’re Scott Garrett, his deputy, and you’re Sheriff Murdoch Holmes from Phoenix. You both came along to help me escort Madrid back to Phoenix to stand trial.” Booth said as he reached in his left saddlebag and pulled out two badges, handing them to them.
“ Hurry up and get them on.”
“ I underestimated you.” Scott said as he pinned the badge on.
“ Not the first time it’s happened. Just remember, don’t mention Lancer, or that Johnny is your son or brother at all.” Booth ordered.
“ Pretty fancy uniforms for Rurales.” Scott said.
“ That’s a military escort not Rurales.” Murdoch said.
“ You’re right. That man in the middle is Governor Benito Juárez. The man granting you son his freedom.” Ranger Booth said. “ Just remember what I said.”
Governor Benito Juárez military escort stopped “ What is your business here gringo?” an escort asked.
“ Governor Juárez, I am Arizona Ranger James P. Booth, and these two men are Deputy Sheriff Scott Garrett and Sheriff Murdoch Holmes. They are here with me to help take Madrid back to stand trial and hang for murder.”
“ Ranger Booth, I was hoping to come across you before you reached the prison.” Juárez said. “ I have went over everything we have on this Johnny Madrid, and I have come to the conclusion that what he has done was an act of war, and nothing more. Therefore any and all acts, crimes or misdoings Johnny Madrid has done from this date past have been exonerated. The reward of one hundred thousand pesos however, I can do nothing about. That I am afraid is a private matter I can do nothing about.”
“ Do your men want our firearms?” Booth asked.
“ That will not be necessary.” the governor said. “ You can fall in at the back and ride with us to the prison.”
“ Le pido disculpas al general, pero viene una escolta militar.” ( Begging your pardon general, but a military escort is coming sir.) Captain Munez said.
“ ¿ Qué capitán de escolta militar?” ( What military escort captain?) General Andrade asked.
No lo sé señor.” ( I do not know sir.) the captain responded.
General Andrade walked outside just as the escort rode into the prison yard.
“ Governor Juárez, I wasn’t told you would be coming here.” Andrade said.
“ I am here on official business General.” the governor responded as he dismounted. “ These three men are here on official business as well. Let’s go inside and talk.”
Scott dismounted and seen his brother walking across the yard, shackles fastened to his ankles, and his wrist. His shirt tattered, his feet bare. Even from across the yard, he could see the bloody whip marks on his brothers back. Anger came over him as he watched the guard shove his brother, causing him to fall forward.
Murdoch stepped inside the door and stopped, turning around he seen what his oldest son was looking at across the prison yard. His heart broke seeing the condition his youngest was in. Putting a reassuring hand on Scott’s shoulder.
“ Please forgive my English is not that good.” General Andrade said as he sat down at his desk. “ What can I do for an Arizona Ranger, a sheriff, and his deputy?”
“ General Andrade, do you have a man named Johnny Madrid in your custody here?” Booth asked.
“ Si, yes I have Johnny Madrid here. Why do you ask?” the general responded.
“ Sir, I have a paper here signed by Governor Juárez authorizing me to take Madrid into custody, and back to Arizona to stand trial for murdering two men a short time back in cold blood.
Andrade looked at the governor, anger on his face. “ Let me see this paper.” he demanded
Booth handed the paper to the man before glancing at Murdoch.
“ And you have an arrest warrant from Arizona I presume?” Andrade asked as he handed the paper back to the ranger.
“ I do.” Booth responded.
“ I think you should know, I have exonerated Madrid.” the governor said.
“ Exonerated, why? The man has killed numerous soldiers and Rurales.” the general said with anger.
“ What he did, he did during a time of war. A war that you yourself fought in. Now, please have the prisoner brought here so they can start back.” the governor ordered.
“ And what does President Diaz say about this? Does he know you are freeing this man?” Andrade demanded.
“ President Diaz is in Mexico City attending a delegation, which is where I am also headed.” Governor Juárez responded.
Andrade stood up, and walked over to the door. “ Captain Munez, bring the prisoner Madrid to my office at once.”
A few minutes later, Murdoch and Scott watched as Johnny was pushed into the room.
“ Your rough treatment of the prisoner is not necessary.” the governor said.
“ This prisoner has been trouble. He is defiant. My men have to keep him in line.” the general responded.
“ The man is in shackles. Tell me, just what could he have done to render such harsh treatment to his back?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Perhaps our methods of controlling our prisoners is more harsh than yours.” General Arago said.
“ And where are his personal belongings he had on him when he was captured?” Scott demanded.
“ He had no personal items when brought here.” Arago said.
“ Where is the man Madera? The one who captured him at Indian Wells, California stage station with two other men?”
“ Oh yes, unfortunately Madera and his two men were asked to leave Mexico, never to return. Flores and Mendez were shot, and Madera is right out there busting rocks.” Andrade responded. “ I am afraid he had beaten Madrid for several days before bringing him here.”
“ Is there a doctor in Puerto Peñasco. These wounds are infected and need cleaned.” Booth asked.
“ Take your prisoner to the Pico House. I will have one of my men get the doctor for you.” the general suggested.
“ How’s he doing?” Scott asked.
“ Better, he is in no condition to ride yet. He needs rest to gain his strength back.” the doctor responded.
“ He’s not going anywhere until you say he can ride.” Murdoch said firmly. “ Thank you doctor.”
“ There is a bathhouse just down the block. It is quit obvious he has had none in some time. A good cleansing of the skin can help with healing.” the doctor said as he closed up his bag, and walked to the door.
“ Foods been kinda poorly and scarce since my nightmare started.” Johnny said softly. “ Any chance I could get something to eat and drink that isn’t full of maggots, stale or hard as a rock?”
“ I would go easy on what you eat for a few days young man. Especially if it’s been a while since you ate anything good. You could end up throwing it back up. Tortillas and a beef broth would be good to start.” the doctor suggested.
“ Thanks doc, but I’ve been starved before. I know what my stomach can handle, and what it wants, and right now, it wants meat.” Johnny said.
“ Alright. Just be sure to put that salve on his back three times a day until it is gone.” the doctor said before walking out.
“ How did you get me out of prison?” Johnny asked as the door opened and Ranger Booth walked in. “ What the fuck are you doing here?”
“ Johnny, that’s no way to be to the man responsible for getting you out of that prison?” Murdoch said.
“ I’ll ask you again, what are you doing here?” Johnny demanded as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, and stood up.
“ Take it easy Johnny, take it easy. Ranger Booth, I think you better leave.” Scott said as he steadied his brother.
“ What the hell is going on? How do you know this man Johnny?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I swore I would kill you one day you sonofabitch.” Johnny said as he lashed out and hit Booth.
“ That’s enough. Ranger Booth, get out of here now.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Hanging you back in Phoenix is going to be a pleasure Madrid. A pure pleasure.” Booth said before leaving the room.
“ Tell us what the hell is going on.” Murdoch ordered. “ How do you know that man, why do you want to kill him?”
“ I don’t think now is the time sir.” Scott said. “ I think we should give Johnny some time to calm down. Whatever happened between them is clearly upsetting to him.”
“ I want to know why he just said he will kill an Arizona Ranger in cold-blood.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ If he wants us to know, he will tell us.” Scott said firmly. “ You demanding he tell us will get you nowhere.”
“ Why do you have to be so damn secretive about your past?” Murdoch demanded.
Johnny glared at his father. “ Why, so you can hold it against me? You have your Pinkerton reports on me.”
“ That’s it. Pinkerton reports.” Scott said.
“ What?” Johnny asked.
“ Booth said twice coming here that he has a file on you. That he knows things about you that the Pinkerton’s would never know. Now why would an Arizona Ranger have a file on you?” Scott said.
“ What the fuck has he been telling you?” Johnny demanded.
“ Nothing, just like you, but I’m going to find out, and I would appreciate you not use that kind of language son.” Murdoch snapped back as he headed to the door.
“ Murdoch don’t!” Johnny said as he walked toward his father. “ Please, don’t do this. I’m begging you.”
Murdoch looked at his son, and seen a look of fear in his eyes. A look he never thought he would ever see. “ Why son, why do I see fear in your eyes right now?”
Johnny turned away from his father. “ How did he get me out?”
Scott walked over to his brother. “ He had a paper from Governor Benito Juárez granting your release. He said he has a warrant for your arrest for the murder of the Anderson brothers. That he was taking you back to Phoenix to stand trial and hang for their brutal murders.”
“ What!” Johnny said. “ How in the hell would he know what happened here Scott. He wasn’t in Tajito, and he sure as hell wasn’t around when I killed Huerta and Gonzales.”
“ I know you’re not going to like hearing this, but Mary told him. I’d completely forgotten about it. He said she told him everything he needed to know.”
“ What about Father Jacob?” Johnny asked. “ Did he hurt him?”
“ I don’t think so. I have a feeling he may have used intimidation on Mary to get her to talk.” Scott said.
“ Who is Mary?” Murdoch asked.
“ Someone from my childhood I never thought I would see again, but found at Santa Teresa de Alti mission working with Father Jacob, when I stopped there.” Johnny explained. “ It was Father Jacob who told me where the Anderson brothers went. That they had made a deal with the Rurales to capture me. A Rurale named Bringas was beating me when Scott found me. He said I was responsible for his cousins death during the war. I never knew the man. General Madera ordered Huerta to come after me in California. He became an embarrassment to President Diaz, and so General Andrade ordered him out of Mexico, and if he returned, he would be shot and killed. Captain Mendez, and Lieutenant Flores were shot and killed by Andrade when we got to the prison. Madera is a prisoner there now for the rest of his life. General Andrade decided him being alive and in there was better than a bullet.”
“ There’s something else you need to know son. Something Governor Juárez did.” Murdoch said.
“ What, double my bounty?” Johnny asked.
“ No. He had everything you have done in Mexico exonerated. He said it was during an act of war. Now the reward, that he can do nothing about he said, but as far as being hunted by Rurales, that will stop.” Murdoch explained.
“ You have that in writing?” Johnny asked.
“ Booth has it, as well as all the other papers.” Scott said.
“ Then if Johnny has been exonerated of crimes in Mexico, Ranger Booth has no grounds to take him back to Phoenix to stand trial and hang for killing the Anderson brothers. They were killed in Mexico, not in Arizona.” Scott said.
“ No he doesn’t. Lets just get out of Mexico, and then deal with Ranger Booth.” Murdoch suggested. “ Johnny, please son, what did that man do to you?”
“ I can’t Murdoch, trust me, if you knew, you would be ashamed of me more than you already are.” Johnny responded with sadness
“ I am not ashamed of you son. I just……….there’s so much I don’t know about you, either of you. Can’t you understand a fathers frustration. One of my sons was raised by his grandfather, and the other raised himself in a country that is both cruel and unforgiving.”
“ Yeah I can Murdoch, but you need to realize, there are some things that are better off not known. Some things need to stay in a mans past, especially if he ever wants a future.” Johnny said. “ Scott, go buy me some clothes. I’m sick of wearing these rags, and I’ll be damned if I’m wearing them when we ride out of here.”
“ Already did brother. You’ll find some clothes for you wrapped up in that brown paper over there. I figured you would like to wear them after you took a bath.”
WARNING TO READERS: THERE IS A DESCRIPTION OF A VERY TRAUMATIC EVENT THAT HAPPENED, DESCRIBED IN THIS CHAPTER IN THE PART AFTER JOHNNY LEAVES THE PRISON. IF READING SOMETHING TRAUMATIC ISN’T YOUR THING, I’M SORRY.YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
“ I’m going to say this one time, and one time only Madrid, you try and escape, and I won’t hesitate to shoot you down. I fully intend on getting you back to Phoenix and watch you hang.”Booth said firmly.
“ I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much on that happening Booth.” Johnny said as he got on his horse.
“ Hold out your hands.” Booth ordered as he came over with shackles.
“ You ain’t putting those on me.” Johnny said firmly.
“ You’re my prisoner, now, you can either wear them in the front, or I can put them on behind your back. The choice is yours.” Booth said. “ Either way, you will wear these the two hundred miles it is to Phoenix.”
“ Those are not necessary Booth.” Murdoch said. “ He’s not going to try anything.”
“ Stay out of this Lancer.” Booth ordered. “ Maybe you would like me to just shoot you right here.”
Johnny hated wearing the shackles, but he also knew what kind of brutal man Booth was, and didn’t want his father or brother to get hurt.
“ It’s alright Murdoch, I’ll humor him, for now.” he said as he held his wrist out and allowed Booth to put the shackles on him.
“ Four days and you’ll be in Phoenix.” Booth said.
“ So why you taking me back to Phoenix for really Booth?” Johnny asked as he ate a plate of beans and tortillas.
“ For the murder of Billy and Pete Anderson.” Booth responded.
“ I won’t deny I killed them, but see, you got no jurisdiction or right to be taking me in. I killed them in Mexico, and Governor Juárez done exonerated me of all crimes in Mexico. So basically all you are doing is holding me against my will. I’ve broken no laws in Arizona either.” Johnny said.
Booth stood up and walked over to Johnny. “ You think you’re pretty smart don’t you mestizo?” he asked as he knelt down next to him.
“ That little Mexican whore you had in Yuma, did you like what I did to her?” Booth asked.
Johnny lunged at Booth, knocking him backwards as he started hitting him.
Scott grabbed Johnny and pulled him off Booth. “ Stop it Johnny.” he ordered.
“ Let him go.” Booth ordered as he stood up.
Murdoch fired one shot, hitting the ground at Booth’s feet. “ I know for my son to want to kill you, whatever happened between the two of you was bad.” Murdoch said. “ Toss the key to the shackles to Scott, and then unbuckle your gunbelt and throw it over here.”
“ Murdoch don’t.” Johnny said.
“ You’re going to tell me what you did to my son to make him want to kill you.” Murdoch responded.
Scott removed the shackles from Johnny, and walked over to Booth.
Johnny picked up the gunbelt, and walked over to Booth. “ Scott, go get them papers he has on me out of his saddlebags.” he ordered.
Scott looked at Murdoch standing there holding the rifle before he went and removed the papers from Booth’s saddlebags.
Johnny pulled the pistol, and pressed it against Booths head.
“ You won’t kill me. Not in front of them you won’t.”
“Johnny……… son don’t.” Murdoch pleaded.
“ There’s no warrant paper here. Just the exoneration and release paper from Governor Juárez.” Scott said as he walked over to his brother.
“ Where’s the warrant for my arrest?” Johnny asked as he pulled the hammer back on the colt.
“ Never was one. I was going to kill you before I got back to Phoenix and leave you for the buzzards. Only I didn’t figure on them showing up.” Booth said as he gestured toward Murdoch and Scott.
“ Why?” Johnny demanded. “ Why did you do it?”
“ Because six years ago you killed my brother.” Booth spat back. “ And I swore I would make you pay for his death.”
“ Wait a minute.” Scott cut in. “ You told me your brothers name was J.P. Booth, and that he was the man I stayed with until he died in Libby prison.”
“ You gunned him down in Yuma. I swore I would find you and make you pay for his death one day. It was just luck I overheard that stage driver telling how three men took you in Indian Wells.”
“ Your brother and two others tried robbing the stage.” Johnny said.
“ It wasn’t any of your business. It wasn’t your money.” Booth spat.
“ That’s were you’re wrong. I was working for Wells Fargo. I was hired to guard that money to Phoenix. Your brother and his two friends made a bad decision when they tried to rob the stage outside Yuma.” Johnny said.
“ I taught that Mexican whore some manners. After I raped her, I enjoyed cutting that half-breed baby out of her stomach. You should have seen it moving and trying to cry in my hands. Standing there over her body, watching that baby die, that was almost as good a satisfaction as raping your whore woman.”Booth said with a laugh. “ Yes sir, that was a night I will never forget. That was the most satisfaction I’ve had with a whore in a long time.”
Johnny stepped away from booth, the pistol still cocked in his shaking hand. Looking over at his father standing a few feet away, Johnny wiped at the tears in his eyes.“ No tener mucho tiempo hace que un hombre piense en el tiempo que le queda. Ella era mi esposa, Ella llevaba a mi hijo. Ella no era una puta.” ( Not having much time makes a man think about the time he has left. She was my wife, and she was carrying my child. She wasn’t a whore.) Johnny said before he raised the colt and fired, hitting Booth between the eyes.
“Johnny…….. No!” Murdoch yelled as he went over and grabbed the pistol from Johnny.
Johnny ignored them, turned and walked over to a tree and dropped to his knees, shaking as the tears flowed.
“ Oh my god son, what have you done?” Murdoch said in shock. “ You just committed cold-blooded murder of an unarmed man. An Arizona Ranger.”
“ What did he say to him Murdoch?” Scott demanded.
“ Right before Johnny shot him, what did he say to him in Spanish?” Scott demanded.
“ He said…….not having much time makes a man think about the time he has………………. that she was his wife, and carrying his child.” Murdoch responded with anger as he looked at his son on his knees, arms wrapped around himself, his head down.
“ His wife………None of your Pinkerton reports said anything about him being married did they?” Scott asked.
Murdoch shook his head. “ No. Six years ago, he was working for Wells Fargo guarding money shipments, but they never said anything about him being married.”
“ We need to get out of here before someone comes.” Scott said.
“ We have to take his body. We can’t leave it here.” Murdoch said.
“ Let me tell you something old man. I don’t give a shit about his body. You heard what he did to my wife and unborn child.” Johnny said.
“ We just can’t leave him here.” Murdoch said. “ It’s bad enough you murdered him in cold blood.”
Johnny walked over to his father. “ And I’d do it again. That sonofabitch brutally raped and murdered my wife, and unborn child, but I guess that makes no never mind to you. All you seen was me, Johnny Madrid shoot an unarmed man with a tin star on his shirt, when in reality, I just executed the bastard who took everything away from me six years ago. So I don’t give a fuck about his body.” Johnny said with anger.
Murdoch reached out and grabbed Johnny’s arm, stopping him. “ Don’t you speak to me in that manner boy. You just crossed that fine line you told me you never crossed before. You told me you have never murdered anyone. That all the men you killed were killed in a fair fight……………”
“ He raped and butchered my wife and baby, your grandchild old man, so don’t preach to me about what I just did. You didn’t see her, what he did to her, you don’t have the nightmares.” Johnny spat back with anger.
“ We need to get out of Mexico now.” Scott cut in.
General Andrade sat at his desk reading the telegram again he had received earlier.
“ General A drade, una patrulla encontróel cuerpo del guardabosques a una milla de la frontera conArizona Le habían dispardo una vez la cabeza.”( General Andrade, a patrol found the ranger’s body about a mile from the Arizona border. He had been shot once in the head.) Captain Munez explained.
“Parecería que nos han hecho los tintos Capitán” ( It would seem that we have been made the fools captain.) Andrade said as he stood up and walked over to the window.
“ No entiendo señor.” ( I don’t understand sir.) Munez said.
“ Lee el cable de mi escritorio y entenderás.” ( Read the wire on my desk and you will understand.) the general responded.
“ Tienen que estar equivocados señor. Llevaban insignias.” ( They have to be mistaken sir. They wore badges.)
“¿Recuerdas por qué?” ( Do you remember why Madrid escaped that firing squad five years ago?)
“ No señor. Yo no estaba aquíentonces.” ( No sir. I wasn’t here then.) Captain Munez responded.
“ No, perdóname. Le compraron su libertad a solo segundos de ser disparado por un pelotón de fusilamiento. Comprado por un hombre de Pinkerton con mucho dinero. Dinero que vino de su rico pafre gringo en California.” (No, forgive me. He was bought his freedom just seconds from being shot by a firing squad. Bought by a Pinkerton man with a lot of money. Money that came from his rich gringo father in California.) General Andrade explained.
“ El hombre que se suponía que era el sheriff de Phoenix, su nombre no es Murdoch Holmes, es Murdoch lancer. Es el padre gringo de Madrid. El otro que creo es su hermano, Scott Lancer.” ( The man who was supposed to be the sheriff from Phoenix, his name is not Murdoch Holmes, it is Murdoch Lancer. He is Madrid’s gringo father. The other one I believe is his brother, Scott Lancer.) General Andrade explained.
“ ¿Cómo el gobernador Juárez no sabía esto? Fue él quien otorgó la liberación.” ( How did Governor Juárez not know this? It was he who granted the release.) Munez asked.
“Eso nunca lo sabremos, pero….el gobernador estáregistrado como el que exoneróa Madrid de cualquier crimen hasta que fue liberado de nuestra custodia.” ( That we will never know, but…….the governor is on record as the one who exonerated Madrid of any crimes up until he was released from our custody.) Andrade said.
“ ¿Era el otro gringo un verdadero Ranger de Arizona?” ( Was the other gringo a real Arizona Ranger?) Munez asked.
“ No, parece que es un hombre que quería vengarse de Madrid por matar a su hermano durante un atraco hace seis años. Que se sepa que Johnny Madrid seráfusilado a la vista si alguna vez lo ven, o en cualquier lugar cerca de la frontera.” ( No, it would seem he is a man who wanted revenge against Madrid for killing his brother during a stage hold-up six years ago. Let it be known that Johnny Madrid is to be shot on sight if he is ever seen, or anywhere near the border.) General Andrade ordered.
“ When you get out of the bath, I need to put some of this salve on your back Johnny.” Scott said.
“ He hasn’t said a word to me the last three days.” Johnny said as he stood up, grabbed the towel, and started drying off. “ Come to think of it, you haven’t said much to me either brother. You think I’m a cold blooded killer too?”
“ No brother I don’t, and I never have.” Scott responded. “ Why didn’t you tell me you were married once?”
“ Because it’s a part of my past I wanted to bury Scott.” Johnny said as he slipped into his pants.
“ Can I ask what her name was?” Scott asked as he walked over to apply the salve.
“ Where is he?” he asked.
“ I don’t know.” Scott said.
“ I want a beer.” Johnny said as he put his socks and boots on. “ Care to join me?”
“ I would love to have a beer with you brother.” Scott responded as he watched his brother strap on his gunbelt, making sure it was comfortable on his slender hip. “ You know, we get home, Teresa, and Maria are not going to be happy with how skinny you are Johnny.”
“ You think my being skinny will get them to make sweets?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m sure it will brother, course you will probably get a good tongue lashing from them both when they see you.” Scott said with a laugh as they headed out the room, and downstairs.
“ Murdoch, we wondered where you got off too. Care to join us for a cold beer?” Scott asked.
Murdoch wouldn’t make eye contact with Johnny. He couldn’t right now, he was so confused inside. He needed answers, answers only his youngest could give him, but he knew he would never get.
“ I don’t think so son. I’m tired, and think I’ll turn in.” Murdoch responded.
“ In other words Scott, he doesn’t want to be seen with a cold-blooded killer. Especially one who happens to be his son.” Johnny said before angrily walking outside.
“ How long are you going to treat him like this?” Scott demanded.
“ I am not going to stand in the lobby of the hotel and discuss this.” Murdoch said before turning to go upstairs.
Scott grabbed his fathers right arm, and stopped him. “ You don’t give an inch do you? All pride and Johnny is cut from the same mold. Not one ounce of give in either one of you, except if you had bothered to notice since the incident, Johnny has tried to reach out to you, to talk to you, but you don’t see it, or you don’t care.” Scott said before turning and walking out, leaving his father standing there.
Murdoch pulled the telegram out of his pocket, closed his eyes, and sighed, before heading upstairs to their room.
Scott walked into the saloon, glancing around, he found his brother in the far back corner with a bottle of tequila and a woman sitting on his lap.
“ Care if I join you brother?” Scott asked.
“ He’s got all the company he needs with me right now.” the woman said. “ I have a bottle of tequila in my room. Let’s go up there and have some fun.” she suggested as her left hand found what she wanted and rubbed.
Being touched by a woman, feeling what he was feeling right now, felt good, but would have to wait until later. Reaching down, Johnny grabbed the woman’s hand gently, and stopped her. “ Hold that thought until later, and bring my brother a cold beer?”
The woman glared at Scott, angry her fun had been interrupted. “ Sure honey. I can wait.” she said before standing up, and walking away.
“ Took you a little longer than I thought it would. What’d ya do, give the old man a chewing out?” Johnny asked.
“ You could say that.” Scott responded as he sat down.
“ I don’t need you defending me all the time Boston, but sometimes I’m glad you do.” Johnny said as he poured two shots of tequila.
“ You asked me a question up in the room that I never answered.” Johnny said as he stared at the entrance. “ Shit.”
Scott looked and seen their father walking toward them.
“ Can I join you son?” he asked, looking right at Johnny.
Johnny pushed a chair on his right out with his foot for his father to sit down. Leaning forward, he poured another shot of tequila and downed it. Leaning back in his chair, Johnny looked hard at his father. “ We’re gonna sit here and enjoy a cold beer or two together, then we are going to go back to our room where I will answer your question you asked me earlier Scott. Hear me now old man, you say one damn thing wrong about what I’m going to say, and I will leave. I will ride out of this town and neither of you will ever see me again. Do you understand me?”
“ Alright.” Murdoch responded.
One hour later Johnny sat at the table in their room with a half empty bottle of tequila in front of him. Neither his father, nor brother said anything, which he was glad of. Telling them something so personal about his past wasn’t going to be easy. Especially to his father who is always so quick to judge him without knowing the full story. Telling this will give the old man one more reason to say he is an irresponsible person. Killing Booth showed both of them a side of Madrid he never wanted them to see. A side that has surfaced in the past several times.
“ Her name was Conswella Delavega Madrid., my wife. I hired out to this water rights dispute, and took a bullet in the back. She found me, and nursed me back to health. I was seventeen and she had just turned sixteen. Regardless of what Booth said, she was never a whore. Conswella worked in a cantina as a server and sometimes cook for her uncle. They knew who I was and helped me keeping me hidden until I healed up. Most of the time we would just talk until I got strong enough to go for walks with her at night. We’d walk down to this one spot along the river she had cut out in the cat-tales so we could be alone, and just sit sit on a blanket and listen to the sounds of the night. About two months after I was healed up, we went to that spot and made love for the first time. Her beauty was like no other Murdoch. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I craved her being in my arms every night and day. A part of me can understand how you fell for my mother and took her to bed. In a way, I guess what happened between us, is a lot like you and my mother.” Johnny said before pouring another shot and downing it. “ Her uncle died in his sleep one night, leaving her with no one in Yuma, so we got married. Being with her was the first time I ever really knew what it felt like to be loved. To have someone love me, and take care of me. I took a job with Wells Fargo guarding their payroll shipments from Yuma to Los Angeles, before we got married. The day I came back from a trip and she told me she was pregnant with our child, that was the second happiest day of my life. The first being when she married me. She was seven months pregnant when Booth did what he did to her. I walked into the shack we lived in, and found her in the middle of the floor in a pool of blood.” Johnny said with sadness. “All I wanted was to live a normal life. To have what I seen so many others have.” he said as he wrapped his arms around himself and dropped his head so they wouldn’t see the tears. “ I only got ten months with her.”
Scott’s heart broke as he heard his brother say he only had ten months with a woman he loved. A great part of him understood why his brother killed Booth the way he did. All he could do now is try and be the big brother Johnny would need, and be there for him when he needed him.
Murdoch sat there staring at his sons back in total shock at what he just heard. Now he understood why his youngest kept crying out for a woman named Conswella when he was with fever from Pardee’s bullet. He figured it was just some whore his son had frequented, and never mentioned it. Knowing how hard it is for Johnny to talk about his past to either of them, especially him, Murdoch didn’t really know how to handle this, or what to say. ‘ Sometimes being a father is a difficult task ‘ his father told him once back in Inverness, Scotland, a task that all these years later, he was understanding meant with his own sons even though neither one of them were raised by him.
“ Son, I need to show you something.” Murdoch said. “ Scott, do you remember me telling Booth I knew people in Phoenix, and that I would fight him on your brother hanging?” Murdoch asked.
“ I do.” Scott responded.
“ I sent a wire inquiring about Booth. He was never an Arizona Ranger, and the most important part I found out is, you do not have an arrest warrant out for you for killing the Anderson brothers son. I mentioned Booth’s name and yours, asking if Johnny Madrid was wanted for anything in Arizona.” Murdoch explained. “ Now, I’m not going to lie to you son, I was shocked when I read the wire, especially after what I witnessed you do. Then………then I thought about it after what both of you said to me downstairs earlier. Son, please forgive me for the way I have treated you these last few days. I’ve never seen you so hurt, and I have never seen you kill an unarmed man before. I was in shock, hurt, and disappointed until I realized I would have done the same thing had it been me.”
“ So, you would have continued to think of Johnny as a cold-blooded killer if you hadn’t got that damn wire?” Scott demanded.
“ Forget it Scott. Tell me something old man, you wanted to know my past, what do you think of me now? Or are you too shocked to believe your cold-blooded killer son could ever have a woman love him?” Johnny said with anger.
“ I don’t know what to think of you right now son.” Murdoch responded.
“ Bullshit. You knew I had killed the Anderson brothers in Mexico, from your damn Pinkerton man you hired to spy on me. Tell me something old man, you have the hands spy on me at the ranch to make sure I do my work?” Johnny snapped back, and demanded.
“ I’m not going to fight with you son. I think we have done enough fighting. I think it’s time we start acting like father and son.” Murdoch suggested.
Johnny looked at Scott, and then his father. “ So you’re not going to answer my question?”
“ I have never had you spied on at the ranch, and I wasn’t having you spied on when I hired a Pinkerton.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny walked out of the hotel, and started toward the livery to get their horses.
“ Johnny Madrid!” a man said from across the street as he stepped out of the shadows.
“ Do I know you?” Johnny asked.
“ Name Bob Johnson mean anything to you?” Johnson asked.
It only took Johnny a few seconds to recognize the name. “ You were there.” Johnny said. “ That night at the ranch, you were there with Red and the Anderson brothers.”
“ You have a good memory. I heard you killed the Anderson brothers in Mexico. Cut their throats wide open.” Johnson said. “ Eli Hickman, George Bravin, Billy and Pete Anderson, four good men. Men who rode with me and Red for five years. They were like family.” Johnson said. “ Billy and Pete, I heard you cut their throats after you disarmed them, and we already know you gunned Eli and Bravin down that night upstairs, but not before one of them shot you.” he added as he stepped out into the street.
Johnny watched as Bob Johnson walked out into the street and faced him.
“ You ever hear of me Madrid?” Johnson asked.
“ I’ve heard of you. Heard how you like to shoot men in the back.” Johnny responded.
“You hear that Red, he’s heard of me. You can’t beat me Madrid. I’m a hell of a lot faster than you.” Bob said.
“ I doubt that.” Johnny said. “ Why don’t you do the smart thing and ride on out. Forget about doing this.” Johnny suggested as he wondered where Red was hiding at.
“ I like that. Big bad Johnny Madrid is begging for his life.” Bob said with a laugh.
“ I think he’s begging.” Red said.
“ I’m not begging for my life, never have. Not about to start now.” Johnny said.
“ I don’t think so Madrid.” Johnson said as he went for his gun, drew and fired as a bullet slammed into his chest.
“Madrid!”Red yelled as he stepped out of the shadows, firing a scatter gun, hitting Madrid, and knocking him to the ground.
“Johnny!”Scott yelled as he came out of the hotel with his Henry rifle, seen Red reloading his shotgun.“ Drop it!”
Red ignored Scott as he closed the scatter gun and raised it to fire again at Johnny as a bullet slammed into his chest, knocking him backwards, completely out of his boots.
“Johnny.” Scott yelled as he went to his brother’s side.
“ I’m really tired of getting shot.” he said as Scott and Murdoch helped him stand up.
“ I got you son. Let’s get him to the hotel.” Murdoch said.
“ When will it ever end?” Murdoch asked.
“ The sooner we can get him back home away from the border, the safer he will be.” Scott responded. “ The doctor said he’s lucky the shotgun wasn’t closer, or he would be dead.”
“ Who were those two men is what I would like to know.” Murdoch said.
“ They’re two of the men who broke into the house that night.” Johnny said softly. “ The one with the shotgun was Red Angus, and the other guy a gunfighter by the name of Bob Johnson.”
“ Red Angus, I thought your friend Harvey Dietrich said he was killed during a stage hold-up?” Scott asked.
“ I guess he was wrong.” Johnny said as he sat up. “ How bad is it?”
“ As you can see, your left arm is bandaged up from the shotgun. Doc said it didn’t penetrate deep, but he had to dig five pellets out.” Scott informed.
“ Guess it wasn’t my time to die.” Johnny said. “ So, what’s the damage?”
“ To your arm, the doctor said it will take some time to heal son. He had to cut into the muscles to get at the buckshot.” Murdoch responded.” You also had some buckshot in your side, but nothing bad.”
“ I explained to the sheriff why those men called you out. He said he would be by to see you to get their names if you knew them.” Scott said.
“ You tell him Scott, I have a bad taste for the law right now.” Johnny said.
“ I can understand that brother.” Scott said. “ I just want to get you home away from Mexico and these southern towns.”
“ John, can I ask you a personal question?” Murdoch asked.
“ You can ask me anything you want, whether I answer it is another story though.” Johnny responded.
“ Conswella, is she buried in Yuma?” Murdoch asked softly.
Johnny swung his legs over the side of the bed, and stood up. “ Why?” he asked.
“ Because I would like to pay my respects to my daughter-in-laws grave son.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny was shocked to hear the words his father just spoke. “ No, she’s buried in Mexico with her uncle.”
“ Alright, then would you be offended if I requested a headstone for her and the baby to be placed in the Lancer cemetery?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’d like that Murdoch. Thank you.” Johnny said.
“ General Andrade, reconsidere hacer esto. Eres un oficial distinguido.” Captain Mundez pleaded.( General Andrade, please reconsider doing this. You are a distinguished officer.)
“ No descansaré hasta que ese mestizo esté muerto. Su padre yhermno también.” GeneralAndrade responded. ( I will not rest until that mestizo is dead. His father and brother also.)
“ Presidente Díaz, no permitirá esto.” Mundez said.( President Diaz, he will not allow this.)
“ Le di mis papeles al presidente Díaz la semana pasada. Mi tiempo de servicio a mi país será a finales de mes. En ese momento, iré a California, encontraré Madrid y lo mataré.” Andrade stated.( I gave President Diaz my papers last week. My time serving my country will end the end of the month. At which time, I will go to California, find Madrid, and kill him.)
“He serido con usted mucho tiempo, General. Es por ti que soy un Capitán. No creo ue pueda servit con ndie más.” Mundez said. ( I have served with you a long time General. It is because of you I am a Captain. I do not think I could serve with anyone else.)
“ Esa es tu decisión de hacer mi amigo.” Andrade responded.( That is your decision to make my friend.)
“ Es un largo viaje al valle de San Joaquín. No deseoque hagas ese viaje solo.” Mundez added. ( It is a long ride to the San Joaquin valley. I do not wish you to make such a journey alone.)
“Un largo viaje que envié al Capitán Huerta. Una que me temo que Madrid todavía está vivo.” General Andrade informs.(A long ride I sent Captain Huerta on. One I am afraid he has failed since Madrid is still alive.)
“ ¿Pensé que el Capitán Huerta fue enviado a la Ciudad de Mexico?” Mundez asked. ( I thought Captain Huerta was sent to Mexico City?)
“ No,estaba cumpliendo una orden que le di. Uno que debería haber manejado yo mismo.No conoceré la paz hasta que Johnny Madrid esté muerto.” General Andrade explains. ( No, he was carrying out an order I gave him. One I should have handled myself. I will not know peace until Johnny Madrid is dead.)
“ ¿ Cuánto tiempo crees que nos llevará llegar a este Morro Coyo?” Captain Mundez asked.( How long do you think it will take us to reach this Morro Coyo?)
“ Montaremos a Yuma, y nos dirigiremos al noroeste desde allí. Nos tomará alrededor de dos semanas llegar allí.” General Andrade responded.( We will ride to Yuma, and head northwest from there. It should take us about two weeks to get there.)
“ ¿ Por qué no tomamos el tren? ¿ Nos llevaría allí antes?” Mundez asked.( Why don’t we take the train? It would get us there sooner.)
“ No deseo montarel caballo de hierro que los gringos piensan tan bien para viajar.” the general responded. ( I do not wish to ride the iron horse the gringos think so highly of for travel.)
“ I don’t think you should ride yet son.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m fine.” Johnny responded as he packed his saddlebags. “ I want to go home.”
“It does my heart good to hear you say that son.” Murdoch said with a smile.
“ Say what?” Johnny asked as Scott walked into the room.
“ That you want to go home.” Murdoch responded.
“ I have our horses out front.” Scott said.
“ Good. The sooner I get out of Adamsville, the better.” Johnny said as he picked up his saddlebags and started to the door.
Scott looked at his father and smiled.
“ Your brother wants to go home.” Murdoch said as he started to the door.
“ Sounds good to me.” Scott responded.
“ Can I help you?” a burly man asked.
“ Need rooms for the night.” Murdoch responded.
“ I have a room with two beds or you can have two rooms.” the clerk said.
“ It’s me and my sons, so we will take two rooms.” Murdoch responded.
“ Very well. That will be two dollars for the rooms. Do you have any luggage mister…………?” the man asked.
“ Lancer, Murdoch Lancer of Morro Coyo. No no luggage. Four hours from home and this storm had to start.” Murdoch responded.
“ Very well. That’s rooms five and seven, top of the stairs, turn left. Your rooms are at the end across from each other.” the clerk said as he handed Murdoch the keys. “ Storms like this happen this time of year.”
“ Got the horses settled for the night.” Scott said as he walked in with Johnny.
“ Did you ask about a hot bath?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m sorry but you are not welcome here. This is a reputable hotel. I don’t want, or allow troublemakers, and I sure don’t allow your kind to stay here. You can go stay at the hotel down the street. They allow half-breeds.” the clerk said as he looked at Johnny.
“ And just what is my kind?” Johnny demanded before Murdoch or Scott could respond.
“ Killers. I know who you are Johnny Madrid, and I don’t want you in my hotel. Now please leave or I will get the sheriff, and have you thrown out.” the clerk responded.
“ Mister, I’ve been in a real bad mood the last month or so, so don’t push me.” Johnny said with coldness.
“ This is my son, John Lancer. If he’s not welcome here, than neither are me or my other son Scott, and as a member of the cattleman’s association, I will be speaking about your said treatment, and we will no longer stay in this hotel.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ That’s your right, as it is my right to not allow a killer to stay in my hotel. Modesto is a nice town. Now do I need to get the sheriff, or are you going to leave?” the clerk demanded.
“ You two stay, I’ll get a room at the other hotel.” Johnny said.
“ Is there a problem here?” another man asked as he came down the stairs.
“ No problem Mister Lewis. I was just telling this killer he is not wanted here, and to go someplace else.” the clerk responded.
“ I don’t see no killer. Stacey, I warned you about this type of behavior before. You have cost me business with your bigotry. You’re fired.” Lewis said.
“ He’s Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter.” Stacey responded.
“ I know perfectly well who he is. He’s stayed here before. You’re fired. Get out.” Lewis responded.
“ You’re going to regret allowing this half-breed killer to stay here. I promise you that.” Stacey said before heading toward the door, only to be stopped by Scott.
“ Mister, don’t you ever call my brother a half-breed killer again. You do, and I promise you will be swallowing teeth.” Scott said with anger.
“ I’m not afraid of you, any of you.” Stacey said before storming out.
“ I want to offer my apologies Mister Madrid for the treatment you just received.” Lewis said as he walked behind the counter. “ I’ll have three hot baths ready for you in about a half hour. The restaurant is open until ten.” Lewis said as he rang the bell on the counter to summon the bellhop. “ Please see that rooms five and seven have hot baths drawn up for our guest.” he ordered.
“ Something bothering you brother?” Johnny asked.
“ I don’t see how you can remain so calm when someone talks to or about you like that brother.” Scott said as they sat eating supper.
“ What he said was the truth Scott. Yeah it angers me, but what do you suggest I do, beat up every man who has ever called me a half-breed? As far as being a killer, you seen that for yourself.” Johnny responded.
“ You are not a killer Johnny. What you did was………….”
“ What I did was nothing short of vigilante justice Scott, when I killed the Anderson brothers and Booth. I became Johnny Madrid to stop the abuse. To make people fear me, and respect me. I know now that was wrong. A gun is nothing but a tool. How you use that tool is how people will see you. I became the best at my trade because I thought that is what mattered most then, but I was wrong. I know that now.” Johnny said.
“ It’s that gun that has kept you alive all this time son.” Murdoch said.
“ Listen, I know what you’re saying, and I appreciate it Scott, I really do, but unfortunately I’m going to run into people like Stacey my whole life. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but the man is entitled to his opinion, just like you and Murdoch are entitled to yours.” Johnny explained.
“ Can I get you gentlemen anything else?” the waitress asked.
“ I’ll have some more coffee and a piece of apple pie if you have any.” Johnny said.
“ Make that three pieces ma’am.” Scott said.
“ Very well. I’ll bring that right out.” the waitress said as she gathered their plates and left.
“ Becoming Johnny Madrid has made me who I am today Scott. Just like you going to those fancy schools in Boston, and being raised the way you were by your grandfather. Are you ashamed of that?” Johnny said and asked.
“ A part of me is.” Scott responded.
“ Why?” Johnny asked.
“ Because while I had it easy, partying, attending school, fine clothes, food on the table every night, you had none of that. You had to make a living using your gun just to stay alive and have food, shelter, and clothing.”Scott responded.
“ But you didn’t know about me did you?” Johnny asked.
“ No, I didn’t know I had a little brother, but my grandfather did.” Scott responded.
“ I think we can discuss this till the sun comes up, and we will still come to the same conclusion.” Murdoch added.
“ And what conclusion is that old man?” Johnny said as the waitress brought their coffee and pie.
Murdoch waited until she left before speaking. “ That what’s in the past is just that, the past. Granted Harlan should have told you you have a brother, but I think we can all agree as to why he never did. The most important thing here is I have both my sons with me, and I am proud of the man both my sons have come to be.”
Johnny leaned back in his chair and stared at his father a minute. Hearing him say he was proud of him for the first time gave him a feeling inside he never had before.
“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.
“ That’s the first time you have ever said you are proud of me.” he responded.
“ Well I am. I’m not perfect, and I know we will have our struggles, but I believe the three of us can stay Lancer strong and get through anything.” Murdoch responded with a smile.
“ From the sound of it, this storm is getting worse outside.” Scott said.
“ Yeah I noticed the rain is coming down harder.” Johnny said.
“ If it doesn’t let up or stop by morning, we’ll stay until it stops.” Murdoch said. “ I don’t fancy riding the last four hours home in a rain storm.” he added.
“ What’s the matter, you getting to old?” Johnny asked with a laugh. “ It’s only another six hours and we’ll be home.”
“ I think he’s getting to soft in his old age.” Scott added.
“ Alright, that will be enough out of you two. When you get to be my age, you’ll feel the same way.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m glad the rain finally stopped.” Scott said as they started out of Modesto.
Johnny drew and fired as a bullet cut thru his left side. The hotel clerk, Stacey lay on the walkway dead. A red stain spreading across his chest.
“ Damn it!” Johnny said. “ I should have known he would try something before we left.”
“ Are you alright son?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’m fine. Let’s go home.” Johnny responded as the sheriff walked over to them.
“ Madrid, You mind telling me why the hotel clerk tried to kill you?” the sheriff asked.
Murdoch explained what happened the night prior with the clerk and how he was fired by Lewis.
“ Man was a damn fool. Alright, get on out of my town.” the sheriff ordered. “ Someone go wake up the undertaker.” he ordered as he walked over to the body.
Johnny galloped out of town, ignoring the white hot pain in his left side. All he wanted to do was go home and try to live a life as Johnny Lancer, the son of a rancher. He was glad for the weather, and having to wear his rain slicker so they couldn’t see the wound. He could feel the blood seeping down his ribs, Knowing he would get a good lecture when they made it home about not saying anything while in town, only made him that much more determined to not show he was shot.
Teresa hurried out the veranda doors to greet the three men riding into the yard she loved more than anything. “ Oh Johnny, I missed you so much.” she said.
Johnny dismounted and stood there looking at the girl he thought of as a sister. The brown eyes, and how they sparkled, her sweet innocent smile. “ I think I’m gonna need your help Teresa.” he said before falling to the ground.
“ Johnny!” Teresa yelled as she hurried to his side.
“ What the devil.” Murdoch said as he dismounted and hurried to his sons side with Scott.
“ He’s been shot!” Teresa said.
“ Damn it Johnny. Why the hell didn’t you tell us you were shot in Modesto?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Because I wanted to come home.” Johnny said before passing out.
“ Frank, send someone to get Sam out here.” Scott yelled. “ Let’s get him inside.”
“ Teresa, go turn his bed down and…………”
“ I know.” Teresa said as she turned and hurried inside.
Sam walked into Johnny’s room and found Murdoch and Scott tending to the wound. “ How long ago was he shot?”
“ This morning when we were leaving Modesto.” Murdoch said.
“ This morning. Why the devil didn’t he let the doctor there take care of it?” Sam demanded as he set his bag down and removed his coat.
“ We asked him and he said he wasn’t shot. Then when we got home he collapsed.” Murdoch said.
“ He said because he wanted to get home Sam.” Scott added.
“ Alright you two, out. Teresa can help me.” Sam ordered.
“ No Sam. I’ll help you. Johnny has injuries he got in Mexico that Teresa doesn’t need to see.” Murdoch said.
“ Scott, can help me. Murdoch, you look worn out. Go downstairs and wait until I’m done.” Sam ordered. “ Teresa send Maria up with more hot water and bandages.”
“ Alright.” Teresa said, hurt they wouldn’t let her help.
“ Why wouldn’t you let me help Johnny?” Teresa asked two hours later.
“ Because you don’t need to see what was done to him in that prison sweetheart. Johnny wouldn’t want you seeing those injuries.” Murdoch responded.
“ I’m not a little girl anymore Murdoch. I’m almost nineteen years old.” Teresa said.
“ I know, but there are some things a young lady shouldn’t see.” Murdoch responded.
“ Why did you let him ride from Modesto to here with a gunshot wound?” she asked.
“ We didn’t know he was shot. It’s been raining and he had his rain slicker on. Neither one of us knew he was injured. That boy is so damn stubborn.” Murdoch responded.
“ Just like his father.” Teresa said as Sam came downstairs.
“ Teresa, could you get me a cup of hot coffee please?” Sam asked.
Murdoch waited until Teresa left the room. “ How bad is it?”
“ I dug the bullet out. He has a fever starting. The wound is infected from going so long without being treated. Scott told me about the other horrible injuries he sustained while in prison, and the shotgun wound.” Sam responded. “ What in gods name happened Murdoch?”
“ Can I go see him now Sam?” Teresa asked as she handed him a cup of coffee.
“ Yes. He has a fever, so I’ll be staying the night. Come get me if it rises.” Sam responded.
“ Little brother, when you get better, me and you are going to have a serious discussion about you thinking you have to pull stunts like you did today.” Scott said softly as he wiped the sweat from Johnny’s brow. “ You’re not alone anymore damn it. You don’t have to ride out of a town with a bullet in you.”
“ Scott, how’s he doing?” Teresa asked as she walked into the room.
“ His fever is holding. I should have known he was hurt damn it.”Scott said as he stood up so Teresa could sit next to him.
“ You know how good Johnny is at hiding his pain. Don’t blame yourself for this.” Teresa responded. “ Would you tell me what happened in Modesto?”
Scott walked over and looked out the window a minute. Turning around, he explained what happened at the hotel leading up to the shooting, and that morning.
“ I will never understand why men want to kill him. That man brought that upon himself. It wasn’t Johnny’s fault he got fired. Tell me what happened in Mexico to him. What did they do to him in that prison Scott?” Teresa said and asked.
“ Murdoch doesn’t want you to know what happened in Mexico Teresa. All I will say is the way he was treated, no man deserved what they did to him. It was a s bad, if not worse than what I experienced in Libby.” Scott responded.
“ They whipped him didn’t they. Besides starving him.” Teresa said.
“ Yes.” Scott said softly.
“ And the shotgun wound?” she asked.
“ Two men that broke in here and attacked you, they called him out. One was hiding and got him with the shotgun right after Johnny killed the other one. We were told he was shot and killed during a stage hold-up, so Johnny never expected him.” Scott explained.
“ So now they are all dead? The men who broke in here?” she asked.
“ Yes.” Scott responded. Leaving out the gruesome part about Booth and the others his brother killed.
“ General, hay dos gringos en el bar hablando de Madrid. Dicen que van a Morro Coyo para llamarlo.” Mundez said as he brought two beers to the table they were sitting at.( General, there are two gringos at the bar talking about Madrid. They say they are going to Morro Coyo to call him out.)
“ No me llames más general. Llamame Juan. ¿ Les dijistealgo sobre nosotros yendo allí para matar a Madrid también?” Andrade asked.(Do not call me general anymore. Did you say anything to them about us going there to kill Madrid also?)
“ Perdóname gen….Juan. No, solo escuché lo que decían.” Mundez responded before taking a sip of his beer.(Forgive me gen….Juan. No, I just listened to what they were saying.)
“ ¿ Yqué estabandiciendo?” he asked.(And what were they saying?)
“ El más alto, dijo que escuchó que le dispararon a Madrid en Modesto, y que no puede usar su brazoderecho tan bien como antes. Dijo queserá fácil de matar.” Mundez explained.( The taller one, he said he heard Madrid was shot in Modesto, and cannot use his right arm as good as before. He said he will be easy to kill.)
“ Solo untonto creería esas tonterías. Claramente, esos dos no saben que Madrides tan mortal que usa su brazos izquierdo también para dibujar.” Andrade responded.( Only a fool would believe such nonsense. Clearly those two don’t know Madrid is just as deadly using his left arm as well to draw.)
“ ¿Cómo sabes de esto?” he asked.( How do you know this?)
“ Siempre es mejor saber todo lo que puedas sobre tu adversario. Ve hablar con ellos y ve si les gustaría viajar con nosotros. Podrían ser muy útiles para matar a ese mestizo de una vez por todas.” Andrade explained.( It is always best to know everything you can about your adversary. Go talk to them, and see if they would like to ride with us. They could be very helpful in us killing that mestizo once and for all.)
“ He’s acting different since he got home Scott.” Teresa said with concern in her voice.
“ Different how?” Scott asked.
“ He’s more quiet. He doesn’t joke around with me, and he hasn’t gave me a roe from the garden once since Sam allowed him out of bed. Something is bothering him Scott, I can feel it. It’s just not like Johnny to be like this.” Teresa explained.
“ I know, he wouldn’t even play chess with me last night. He’s been thru a lot in the last four months. Especially in Mexico. He’s only been up and around a week now. Give him some time, he’ll come around.” Scott responded.
“ I think I’ll make him a chocolate cake. Maybe that will cheer him up some.” Teresa said before heading inside.
“ Little brother, I don’t know what’s going thru your head right now, but you have people who love you worried about you.” Scott said softly as he looked at his brother sitting on the bench in the rose garden before heading inside with the mail.
Johnny welcomed the warmth of the early fall sun shining on his face. He knew fall round-up and branding would start soon, and that every hand would be needed. Something he didn’t look forward too. At least not right now. Right now all he could think about were the harsh words his father said to him that day in Mexico, when he killed Booth in cold blood. Killing the Anderson brothers, and the others for what they did he had no remorse for doing, but killing Booth bothered him terribly. Another ghost to haunt his sleep. Another life taken by him. Even though he felt justified in killing the man for what he had done, taking his wife and unborn child from him, it still bothered him deeply, and he couldn’t understand why. Crossing that thin line like he did that day, and committing cold-blooded murder, he knew would change him, but would it change how his father and brother really felt about him after seeing just how dangerous, cold, and callous Johnny Madrid could be. Would Teresa still think of him as a brother if she knew what he had done. Did they tell her about his wife and child being murdered.
Standing up, Johnny walked over to the roses, pulled out his small pocket knife, and cut two beautiful red ones off before heading to the back door and into the kitchen to see what was for lunch. Smiling when he got the whiff of chocolate when he opened the door. Maria was busy cutting up potatoes at the sink, and Teresa was stirring something in a bowl at the counter next to the stove. Walking up behind her, he brought his hand around in front of her with the two roses.
“ I’m sorry, but I only accept red roses from my brother, and he hasn’t given me any for a long time.” Teresa said as she continued to stir the cake mix.
“ I don’t see anyone else around offering, and I think I can handle your brother.” Johnny said.
Teresa turned around. “ I don’t know, he can be awful protective of me. You sure you can handle him? I mean, he might not take too kindly to me accepting flowers from someone else.”
“ I’m pretty sure. Sitting out in the garden I realized I haven’t gave you a rose in a long time querido. I’m sorry.” Johnny responded.
“ Thank you Johnny. They’re beautiful.” Teresa said as she took the roses from him.
“ Listen, me and you need to have a serious talk, alone. There’s some things about me I want you to know.” Johnny said softly, so Maria wouldn’t hear.
“ Okay. When?” she asked as she put the roses in a vase of water.
“ When Sam clears me to ride, I want us to go for a ride to a place I know we can be alone to talk.”
“ It is not polite to whisper. Especially in my kitchen.” Maria said.
“ I’m sorry mamacita. Anything around here to eat? I’m starved.” Johnny asked.
“ Go sit down. I will fix you a sandwich and a glass of milk to hold you until supper.
“ Gracias.” Johnny said before giving Maria a kiss on the cheek as Murdoch walked into the kitchen with Scott.
“ I have to go to Sacramento for a week. The governor requested I be at a meeting he is attending.” Murdoch said.
“ When do you leave?” Scott asked.
“ Tomorrow morning. The meeting is Monday.” Murdoch responded. “ Johnny, I know Sam hasn’t released you to work yet, so I’m putting Scott in charge of the fall round-up and branding.”
“ And what do you want me doing while you’re away?” Johnny asked.
“ Resting, and taking care of Teresa and Maria while Scott is out working.” Murdoch responded.
“ Don’t worry little brother. There will be more than enough chores you can do once Sam says it’s alright.” Scott said.
Johnny glanced at Teresa, and knew with Murdoch gone, and Scott out taking care of the round-up, he would be able to talk to Teresa sooner.
“ What happened to you in Mexico Johnny?” Teresa asked as she sat down across from him.
Johnny looked into her brown eyes and smiled. “ Murdoch will have my a….won’t be happy me telling you, but you’re not a little girl anymore.”
“ No I’m not. You and Scott see that, but he can’t.” Teresa said.
“ You’ve seen the scars I have from before I came here. What was done to me this last time, was done both before and after I was in prison. At the stage station in Indian Wells,a man named Mendez, Captain Juan Mendez pulled a gun on me just before another man named Madera rode up. General Francisco Madera of the Mexican Rurales, took me prisoner. They weren’t exactly nice tome the week before we started to Puerto Peñasco prison in Sonora, Mexico. They whipped, and beat me every day. Kept me chained up, and gave me just enough water and food to stay alive. Madera was ordered not to return ever to Mexico, but did with me, and General Andrade, he wasn’t to happy about it. He shot and killed Mendez right there, and put Madera in prison with me. It’s because of him I was whipped in prison a few days before Murdoch and Scott showed up with a man named James Booth. Who was posing as an Arizona Ranger, but wasn’t.” Johnny said before standing up, and walking over to look out the window.
“ You said this man, Booth was posing as an Arizona Ranger. You saying he wasn’t one?” Teresa asked.
“ No,Booth was anything but Teresa. I’ll get to him.The reason Madera and Mundez came after me, was because I made them both an embarrassment to President Diaz and the rest of the Mexican Army. General Andrade striped them of their ranks, and ordered them both to leave Mexico, never to return.” Johnny explained before turning around, and walking over to the sideboard, poured a drink, and downed it. Me and Booth crossed paths before. I swore that if I ever seen that man again, I would kill him.”
“ Why?” Teresa asked as she stood up and walked over to him.
“ When I was seventeen I married a beautiful Mexican girl I met in Yuma. Her uncle saved my life when I was shot up from a water dispute I hired on to settle. When I was healed up, we would go for walks at night down along the river and talk, or just sit and look at the stars. I took a job guarding gold shipments and payroll from Yuma to Los Angeles. This one time a gang tried to rob us not long after we left Yuma. I shot and killed the leader. A kid named Carver Booth, his little brother. He heard about his brothers death, and who killed him, and tracked me down. Only problem was, I wasn’t there. He butchered my wife and unborn child. I came home and found them.” Johnny explained.
“ Oh my god.” Teresa said with tears in her eyes. “ Johnny…………I’m so sorry.”
“ Teresa, Scott and Murdoch seen a side of Johnny Madrid I never wanted them to see. I killed Booth right in front of them. He was unarmed and in wrist shackles. He started spouting off about what he did to my wife and child, and I lost it. I shot him in the head. Murdoch got very angry with me. Even called me a cold-blooded killer. Never mind the fact that the man I killed murdered my wife and butchered my unborn child. He refused to talk to me………………hell Teresa, he wouldn’t even look at me for three days. We finally had words in the town where the last two who broke in here tried to kill me. You know, I even asked Scott if he thought of me as a cold-blooded killer. I crossed that fine line I swore I would never cross Teresa, but I did it for vengeance against the man who took from me two people who meant the world to me.” Johnny said as a tear ran down his cheek.
Teresa stepped closer and wrapped her arms around Johnny, pulling him into a hug as she let her tears flow. “ What you did doesn’t make you a cold-blooded killer Johnny. You are a kind, gentle, loving person who cares deeply about the ones you love and hold dear to your heart. I know this to be true because you went after the men who broke in here, and you did it because I asked you to. Look at me Johnny.”
Johnny stepped back, but kept his arms around her.
“ Don’t you ever feel like you’re a cold-blooded killer again, because you’re not. I know it, and everybody on this ranch knows it.” she said firmly.
“ You know, I never dreamed I would have an older brother, and a little sister. Thanks Teresa.” Johnny said as Scott walked into the house.
“ Am I interrupting something?” Scott asked.
“ I’m gonna go help Maria with supper. Just remember what I said Johnny.” Teresa said before heading to the kitchen.
“ Is something wrong?” Scott asked.
“ No, me and Teresa were just having a talk.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down on the couch. “ How’s it going with the round-up?”
“ Good, we have about five hundred head in the south mesa pasture. Some of the cows have twins. We will start branding and castrating them tomorrow.” Scott responded.
“ I noticed riding in there are some thunderheads building to the northwest.” Scott stated.
“ Yeah, I seen them.” Johnny responded.
“ Well I think I am going to go take a hot bath before supper. You sure everything is alright?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. We were just having a brother, sister talk is all Scott. Everything is fine.” Johnny said as he started toward the door. “ I’m gonna go take care of Barranca for the night.”
Scott stood there watching his brother walk toward the barn. He knew he had interrupted what appeared to be a serious talk between him and Teresa. Something was still bothering his little brother. Something he wouldn’t talk to him about until he was ready, he hoped. Something his gut was telling him had to do with what happened in Mexico.
“ Welcome home sir.” Scott said as he walked out to greet his father.
“ Son, it’s good to be home again. Where’s your brother?” Murdoch asked as he climbed out of the buggy.
“ He out fixing fence-line.” Scott responded as he grabbed his fathers carpet bag from the back.
“ Sam release him to work?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes sir he did. He came by on Monday, checked Johnny over and said he could return to light duty work for a couple weeks. I figured mending fences wouldn’t be too strenuous on him.” Scott responded as they walked into the house.
“ How’d the round-up go?” Murdoch asked as he went to the sideboard and poured a scotch.
“ Went good. All the calves are branded and two hundred and seventy five calves are castrated.” Scott responded.
“ That many?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes sir. I figured we would start on the herd up by Black Mesa Monday. I have two hands with Johnny checking and fixing the fence up there. Johnny came in last night with a head count of eight hundred cows, all with a calf.”
“ Sounds like you handled everything fine son. I think I will go soak these tired old bones of mine in a hot bath. I’ll see you at supper.” Murdoch said as he took his carpet bag from Scott and headed upstairs.
Johnny walked into the house well after dark and found his father sitting at his desk. “ Hey Murdoch, welcome home.”
“ You alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. Sorry I’m late. I came upon a mountain lion feeding on a steer it had just killed.” Johnny explained as he walked over to the desk.
“ Did you kill the cat?” Murdoch asked as he leaned back in his chair.
“ She spooked before I could get my rifle out. She didn’t go far before I caught up to her though.” Johnny responded.
“ Good. How old was the steer?” Murdoch asked as Scott walked into the room.
“ About three or so. Hey brother.” Johnny responded.
“ Hey. Teresa kept a plate of food for you in the oven.” Scott said as he sat down on the couch.
“ Okay. I think I’ll go get cleaned up before I eat.” Johnny said before heading upstairs.
“ He say why he was late?” Scott asked.
“ Said he found a cat on a steer it had just killed and had to track it.” Murdoch responded.
“ Juan said he seen cat tracks the other day by the watering hole up there.” Scott said.
“ And you didn’t send a couple men out to try and track it?”Murdoch asked.
“ Yes I did, but they lost the tracks. You know how that terrain is up there sir. Hell, it’s even hard to track a cow that gets out up there with all the rocks and such.”
“ Mind if I ask why you seem to feel the need to defend your brother all the time son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Somebody has to do it sir. Johnny has had nobody defend him his whole life. He had to pick up a gun to stop the abuse and get some respect in his life. It’s about time that changes, and I will defend him every time you see fit to bust his chops over something he doesn’t deserve your harsh words for.” Scott responded firmly.
“ So you think I’m to hard on your brother sometimes?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes sir you are. Look how you treated him after he killed Booth. Remember the harsh words you said to him. You called your own son a cold-blooded murderer. You ignored what that man did to Johnny’s wife and unborn child.” Scott responded.
“ I apologized to your brother for that.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes, three days after. I seen how he looked at you during those three days. How at night before he would go to sleep, he would glance across the fire at you with hurt in his eyes, just begging for you to love and accept all of him as your son. Johnny should have never heard those words come out of your mouth, and in doing so, you have done damage between the two of you that can never be fixed. Words speak a hell of a lot louder than actions sir. The trouble with you is a part of you will never be able to get past what Johnny became to survive. You say you can accept the Madrid side of him, but in reality, I don’t think you really can. If you could, you never would have said that to him.” Scott responded.
“No confío en esos dos gringos.” Mundez said. ( I do not trust those two gringos.)
“ Yo tampoco. Todo lo que tenemos que hacer es usarlos para distraer a Madrid lo suficiente como para que podamos derribarlo como el perro que es.” Andrade responded as he looked at the two men sitting around their campfire a hundred feet away, drinking a bottle of whiskey. ( Neither do I. All we have to do is use them to distract Madrid enough so we can shoot him down like the dog he is.)
“¿Dónde quieres hacer esto?” Mundez asked. ( Where do you want to do this?)
“Estaremos en Morro Coyo en una semana. Buscaremos el lugar correcto.” ( We will be in Morro Coyo in a week. We will look around for the right spot.)
“Pero dijeron que él también va a Spanish Wells y Green River.” (But they said he also goes to Spanish Wells, and Green River.)
“Luego también revisaremos Spanish Wells. Hay ley en Green River.” ( Then we shall check Spanish Wells out too. There is law in Green River.)
“¿ Qué pasa si su familia está con él?” ( What if his family is with him?)
“ No importará. Todo lo que tenemos que hacer es dejar que lo llamen, y luego lo mataremos. Estoy seguro de que ya saben que no deben involucrarse cuando lo llaman. Eso al hacerlo lo distraerá y lo matará.” ( It will not matter. All we have to do is let them call him out, and then we will gun him down. I am sure they know by now not to get involved when he is called out. That in doing so will distract him, and get him killed.)
“ You hear what they said?” Cody Lambert asked.
“ Yeah , I heard them. I guess they think we’re to stupid to understand Spanish.” Matt Hawkins responded.
“ What are we gonna do about it?” Cody asked.
“ Let them go on thinking we don’t know what they plan on doing. I got no problem killing me a couple greasers with Madrid.” Matt said with a smile.
Twenty year old Cody Lambert, and twenty three year old Matt Hawkins had been hell bent the last four years making a reputation for themselves. Between the two of them, they had gunned down over thirty men. Some gunfighters, and some just for the fun of it. Both men’s names were feared in the southwest all along the borders. Cody, came from Brownsville Texas, and started killing at the age of fifteen. At thirteen, his mother took the cholera and died. His step-father beat him every chance he could. Fed up, the last night in Brownsville, Cody took the mans gun, and shot him dead in his sleep before riding away. Matt Hawkins grew up on a wealthy plantation in Georgia. Not wanting anything to do with cotton or the hard work involved, he rode away from his luxurious lifestyle, never looking back. Both men met up during a range-war outside San Angelo, Texas, where they formed an amicable friendship. Having been told at numerous jobs they were not the best, both men vowed to seek out and kill the one everyone said was the best gunfighter, Johnny Madrid.
“ Morning.” Johnny said as he sat down and poured a cup of coffee.
“ Good morning brother. Sleep well?” Scott responded.
“ I always sleep well.” Johnny said.” We should be done with the fence in the north pasture late morning Murdoch. What do you want me doing after we finish?”
“ You won’t be finishing the fence son. I want you to take Teresa into Spanish Wells. There’s some things she needs to pick up for the church social dance next month.” Murdoch responded.
“ Couldn’t a hand take her Murdoch?” Johnny pleaded.
“ No, I want you to take her and that’s final.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ You can drink a cold beer while I shop Johnny.” Teresa added.
Johnny looked at his sister and smiled. “ Or better yet, we can have lunch together at the cafe your friend works at. She does still work there doesn’t she?”
“ Marcie, yes, she still works there. Her parents own the place Johnny.” Teresa responded. “ You thinking of asking her to the social next month?”
“ Maybe. It would be nice to escort a nice young lady to one. That’s if it’s alright with you?” he asked.
“ I don’t see why it wouldn’t. I know she was hoping you would.” Teresa said.
“ Do it proper son and ask her father first.” Murdoch added.
“ It’s the gentleman’s way little brother.” Scott said with a smile.
“ So, what did her father say?” Teresa asked.
“ Exactly what I knew he would say, no. He doesn’t want his daughter seen with the likes of someone like me.” Johnny said with anger.
“ Johnny, I’m………….”
“ Don’t Teresa, I was a fool to think I could ask someone like Marcie out with her fathers permission.” Johnny snapped. “ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
“ It’s alright.” Teresa said as Marcie walked over to their table.
“ Will there be anything else I can get you two?” Marcie asked.
“ No, we’re good. Thanks.” Johnny responded.
“ What time will you be picking me up for the church social?” she asked.
“ Your father said I couldn’t take you to the church social. He doesn’t want his daughter seen with the likes of me.” Johnny said as her father walked over to them.
“ Marcie, you have other customer to tend to.” Paul Miller said firmly.
“ Yes father.” Marcie aid as she smiled at Johnny before walking away.
“ I thought I made myself clear, but I guess I didn’t. I don’t want to see you in here ever again. Do I make myself clear Madrid?” Miller ordered.
“ His name is Lancer, Mister Miller. Johnny has done nothing wrong.” Teresa said.
“ Forget it Teresa. Let’s go.” Johnny ordered as he stood up. “ You know Mister Miller, bigots like you are going to get what’s due you some day. You might want to remember that.”
“ Don’t you threaten me you half-breed bastard. I own this cafe, and I will not have a filthy killer like you eating in it.” Miller snapped back.
Johnny took out money for the bill, and placed it on the table. Taking Teresa’s arm, he escorted her from the cafe. “ You done with your shopping?” he asked.
“ Yes. That man is horrible. Now I understand what Marcie meant. She told me, but I didn’t want to believe he could be that way.” Teresa said.
“ I’ve put up with men like him my whole life Teresa. I’m just sorry you had to witness it.” Johnny said as Sam walked up to them.
“ I thought I seen you two come into town. How you feeling Johnny?” Sam asked.
“ All things considered, I’m alright Sam.” Johnny said.
“ I take it you got wrangled into bringing Miss Teresa to town to shop?” Sam asked.
“ Johnny Madrid!” Matt Hawkins yelled as he walked out to the middle of the street.
“ We’re calling you out Madrid!” Cody yelled.
“ Sam, take Teresa back inside the cafe, and keep her there.” Johnny ordered.
“ Johnny, there are two of them. Let’s just go home.” Teresa pleaded.
“ Sam!” Johnny said firmly.
“ Come on Teresa, Johnny can’t walk away from this.” Sam said as he took her arm and forced her inside the cafe.
“ Sam, he could be killed.” she pleaded.
“ There’s nothing we can do but pray he beats them both.” Sam said. He had never seen Johnny face a man before.
“ Matt Hawkins, and Cody Lambert. You boys are a long way from Texas.” Johnny said as he walked out to face the two men.
“ We won’t be once we kill you.” Matt said.
“ I’m not in the game anymore boys. I gave up being a gunfighter. You’re wasting your time with me. Go on back to Texas.” Johnny said.
“ I’m glad you know the names of the two men who are going to kill you.” Matt said.
“ Yeah, I know you. Two cold-blooded killers out to make a name for yourselves gunning down anyone foolish enough to face you, and some who didn’t.” Johnny said. He hated that Teresa was about to see the Madrid side of him. A side he never wanted her to see. Sure she knew, but seeing him kill another man in a gunfight, that he never wanted.
“ You may be out of the game Madrid, but me and Matt, we can’t get any decent money because you’re still alive.” Cody said.
“ I haven’t hired out in three years fellas. If you can’t make decent money, then it’s because of the type of reputation you have.” Johnny responded.
“ Our reputation is no different than yours Half-breed.” Matt said.
“ Big difference. I never heckled a man into a gunfight, and I never called anyone out. Every man I ever killed were foolish enough to call me out, I killed them in a fare fight. You ask any lawman down along the border, they’ll tell you.” Johnny said.
“ Enough talk Madrid. It’s time for you to die.” Matt said as he went for his gun.
Johnny drew his colt and fired, knocking Matt Hawkins backwards. Turning he fired again hitting Cody Lambert in his right leg, dropping him to the ground as a bullet tore thru his left side. Fanning the colt, his bullet found it’s mark, and hit Cody in the chest. Ignoring the burning pain in his side, Johnny slowly walked up to Cody as the man tried to cock his pistol again. Standing there watching the life fade from the mans eyes as the pistol slowly fell to the ground.
“ I’ll see you in hell Madrid.” Cody said as he took his last breath.
Mundez watched as Madrid took out both men. Drawing his pistol, Mundez fired, hitting Madrid in the back, dropping him to the ground. Stepping out into the street as he cocked his pistol again and took aim.
“ Now you die mestizo.” he yelled as he took aim and fired.
Johnny brought his colt up and fired as a bullet tore thru the muscle of his upper left arm. Taking aim, he fired, hitting Mundez between the eyes.
Andrade watched as his friend fell to the ground with a bullet hole between his eyes. Taking out his pistol, Andrade walked out into the street and fired, hitting Johnny in his right shoulder,causing him to drop his pistol.
“He esperado mucho tiempo para matarte mestizo.” (I have waited a long time to kill you mestizo.) Andrade said as he walked up to him. “Mírame. No te desmayes todavía. Mira al hombre que te va amatar. No puedes escapar de mí otra vez.” ( Look at me. Don’t pass out yet. Look at the man who is going to kill you. You can’t escape me again.)
“ No!” Teresa yelled as she came out the cafe door with Sam. Grabbing the gun from the holster of a man standing there watching, Teresa fired, hitting Andrade and dropping him to the ground. Cocking the gun again, she fired, hitting the man in the head as she went to Johnny’s side. “ Johnny, Sam help him.” she cried out as Sam hurried over to them.
“ Some of you men help me get him to my office!” Sam ordered. “ Someone ride out to Lancer and tell Murdoch what’s happened.”
Murdoch walked out of the house as a rider galloped into the yard.
“ Mister Lancer, you better come to Spanish Wells. Johnny’s been shot.” the rider said.
“ How bad is it?” Murdoch asked as he went to his horse.
“ It’s bad sir.” the man said.
“ Walt, ride out and tell Scott what’s happened.” Murdoch ordered before taking off.
“ My god. He’s been shot at least four times.” Sam said as he cut Johnny’s shirt off him. “ I’m going to need help. Are you up to it Teresa?”
“ I can help Sam. Just, please don’t let him die.
“ I’ll do everything I can to save him, but he’s losing a lot of blood. Let’s get this wound in his left side and arm cleaned and sewed up before we start removing the other two bullets.” Sam said. He knew what Johnny meant to Teresa. What he meant to the whole family, and a lot of people in not only Spanish Wells, but Green River, and Morro Coyo as well.
“ I can’t believe nobody would help him. They just stood there. That man would have killed him if I hadn’t.” Teresa said as she changed the padding of bandage on the wound.
“ I think most of them were in shock Teresa. I don’t think they expected Johnny to lose. To be gunned down like he was.” Sam said as he started stitching up the wound. “ You shot and killed a man today. Are you going to be alright with that?”
“ I did what I had to do to keep that man from killing my brother.” Teresa responded as she wiped the blood away so Sam could see the wound.
“ I fear what Murdoch will say when he gets here. Especially when he learns Johnny knew two of them.” Sam said as he started to clean the wound in Johnny’s upper left arm. “ I don’t know how much more this boy can take.”
“ I’ll go get some water heating for the other two bullets.” Teresa said before walking out of the room.
“ You better pull thru this Johnny, because that girl killed a man for you.” Sam said as he started stitching up the wound.
Murdoch galloped into Spanish Wells and dismounted in front of Sam’s house. A sick feeling coming over him as he stepped up to the door, opened it, and stepped inside. “ Sam, how bad is it?” he asked as he looked at his youngest laying on the table.
“ Wait for me outside Murdoch, and I’ll explain.” Sam said as he started to dig for the bullet in Johnny’s right shoulder.
“ Will he live?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I said wait for me outside.” Sam ordered.
Murdoch looked at Teresa and could see the worry in her eyes. He could also see she had been crying. Turning, he closed the door and walked back out to sit down and wait as Scott burst into the room followed by Frank.
“ Johnny?” he said.
“ Sam will be out shortly to tell us.” Murdoch said.
Sam came out an hour later. “ He’s alive, but very weak. He was shot four times. One bullet put a deep furrow in his left side and fractured a rib, another passed thru his upper left arm, missing the bone, the third bullet was in his right shoulder. Luckily it wasn’t too deep.”
“ What are you not telling us Sam?” Murdoch asked.
“ The forth bullet was in his back just below the shoulder.” Sam said.
“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said. “ Will he be able to still use that arm Sam?”
“ I don’t know. Anyone else I would say no, but I think we all know how Johnny likes to prove us all wrong, and beat the odds when they are stacked against him.” Sam responded.
“ Frank, you ride on back to the ranch and tell the men what’s happened. We will be staying in town until we can take Johnny home.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Yes sir. Don;t you worry about anything but Johnny sir.” Frank said as he went to the door. “ I’ll stable your horses and get you a room at the hotel before I leave.”
“ You’re a good man Frank. Thank you.” Murdoch said as he gave Frank some money.
“ Who did this to him?” Scott demanded.
“ We had just come out of the cafe to leave when two men called him out. What Johnny didn’t know was there were two more men behind him just waiting to shoot him down.” Teresa explained.
“ Did he know these men?” Murdoch asked.
“ He knew of the two who called him out. Their names were Cody Lambert and Matt Hawkins. Johnny knew of their reputation for being ruthless killers down along the border,mostly in Texas.” Teresa said. “ The other two were Mexican. The last one walked up to Johnny, and spoke in Spanish. He said Johnny would never escape him again. Said he waited a long time to kill him right before he shot him again.”
“ You seen it happen?” Murdoch asked.
“ Johnny would be dead right now if Teresa hadn’t shot and killed that man Murdoch.” Sam added.
“ What! You killed a man?” Scott asked.
“ Nobody else would help Johnny. I wasn’t going to stand there and let that man murder him.” Teresa responded firmly.
Scott walked over and pulled her into a hug. “ I know. I guess I’m just shocked to hear you did that. Are you alright?” he asked.
“ I’m fine. I’m just really scared for Johnny right now. You both know how important his right arm is to his staying alive.” Teresa responded.
“ Can we see him?” Murdoch asked.
“ He’s unconscious, but you can go in.” Sam said.
“ Murdoch, you go ahead. Sam did they take the bodies to the undertaker?” Scott asked.
“ Yes. Why?” Sam responded.
“ I’m going to go see if I recognize those two Mexicans. They could be from that prison Johnny was in.” Scott said.
“ I think you should go in and see your brother first. Those men are not going anywhere.” Murdoch said. “ I doubt the Rurales would come all this way from Mexico to try and kill your brother.”
“ Have you forgotten one did that very thing not that long ago?” Scott asked.
“ No I have not.” Murdoch responded. “ Now is not the time to argue about who shot your brother up. Right now he needs us, all of us. You heard Sam say how badly he’s hurt. I know you’re angry over this Scott, so am I, but we have got to think about your brother. He is going to need us now more than ever.”
“ He may need a blood transfusion from you Murdoch. I’ll know in a couple hours if he shows signs of getting stronger or not.” Sam said.
“ What about infection Sam? You know how Johnny is with fevers.”Murdoch asked.
“ He has a fever now, but that’s to be expected. He’s not going to be going anywhere for some time.” Sam responded. “ Now go see your brother.”
“ Presidente Dìíaz, acabo de recibir la noticia de que Andrade y Mundez fueron a California para matar a Madrid.” ( President Diaz, I just received word that Andrade and Mundez went to California to kill Madrid.)
“ Tenía mi sospecha que por eso se retiró. Andrade es un tonto. El gobernador Juárez permitío que ese mestizo se fuera. Dándole un perdón completo por todos los asesinatos que hizo. Es solo cuestión de tiempo, y Juárez ya no será una molestia para nosotros con sus formas indulgentes.” Diaz responded. ( I had my suspicion that was why he retired. Andrade is a fool. Governor Juarez allowed that mestizo to leave. Giving him a full pardon for all the killings he did. It is just a matter of time, and Juarez will not be a bother to us any longer with his forgiving ways.)
“ Tengo curiosidad por saber cómo lo sabes?” (I am curious as to how you know this?)
“ Benito Juárez es un liberal. Ha reinado como gobernador los últimos 15 años.” ( Benito Juarez is a liberal. He has reigned as Governor the last 15 years.)
“ ¿Quién entonces lo reemplazará señor?” ( Who then will replace him sir?)
“ Sebastián Lerdo De Tejada por poco tiempo. Entonces espero que mientras intentan encontrar un candidato abecuado, José María Igleseias se hará cargo.” ( Sebastian Lerdo De Tejada for a short time. Then I expect while trying to find a suitable candidate, Jose Maria Iglesias will take over.)
“ ¿Permiso para hablar libremente señor?” ( Permission to speak freely sir?)
“ Adelante.” ( Go ahead. )
“¿ Te preocupa alguna vez que te saquen de la oficina?” ( Do you ever worry they will have you removed from office?)
“ No. ¿Por qué lo harían? ¿No he sido un buen presidentepara mi país?” ( No. Why would they? Have I not been a good president to my country?)
“ Por supuesto. Es solo que los tiempos están cambiando. El camino de nuestra gente está cambiando. Me temo que sucederá otra revuelta. No deseo que te hagas daño oalgo peor.” ( Of course. It’s just that the times are changing. The way of our people are changing. I fear another revolt will happen. I do not wish you to be hurt or worse.)
“ Agradezco su preocupació, pero no habrá revuelta, y si la hay, serán derribados.” President Diaz said. ( I appreciate your concern, but there will be no revolt, and if there is, they will be shot down.)
“ He’s so pale looking.” Murdoch said.
“ Don’t you give up little brother. You hear me. You fight.” Scott said softly as a tear ran down his cheek.
“He won’t give up son. He knows he’s loved and wanted. He has a home now.” Murdoch said as he fought to keep his own tears from falling as he tried to stay strong for both his sons. “ A few years ago he had nobody to take care of him when he was shot. I don’t think I will ever be able to get over that. Your brother having to remove a bullet and stitch up a wound himself.”
“ I always wanted a little brother growing up. Someone to protect. Someone to teach things too.” Scott said as he wiped the sweat from his brothers face. “ I don’t think I can take it if he dies Murdoch.”
“ We won’t lose him Scott.” Teresa said. “ Johnny wouldn’t hurt you like that. He loves you too much.”
“ He has a long road ahead of him.” Sam said as he walked into the room and started checking the wounds.
“ As long as he lives, I don’t care how long it takes him to heal up Sam.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m going to walk down to the undertakers.” Murdoch said. “ You stay here with your brother.”
“ Mister Lancer, I expect you’re here to see the bodies of the men who shot Johnny?”the undertaker asked.
“ Yes I am Jacob.” Murdoch said.
“ They’re right back here.” Jacob said as he led Murdoch to the back. “ I have to say, I have never seen Miss Teresa kill a man before. That little lady didn’t hesitate one bit to protect your son.”
“ That’s what I heard.” Murdoch said as he looked at four bodies laid out on the tables.
“ These two are Cody Lambert and Matt Hawkins.” Jacob said. “ Nobody knows who those two over there are.”
“ General Andrade, and Captain Mundez.” Murdoch said with a sick feeling to his stomach.
“ You know them Murdoch?” Jacob asked.
“ They were at Puerto Peñasco prison in Sonora. That’s where we found Johnny. Why the hell would these two come all this way to try and kill my son? It makes no sense. Governor Juárez granted Johnny a full pardon of all crimes committed up to his release.”
“ Maybe that’s why. Didn’t Johnny lead a revolt against the Mexican army before he came home?” Jacob asked. “ Maybe that’s why. These two didn’t like him being pardoned.”
“ Maybe. Hopefully Johnny can give us some answers as to why. Thank you Jacob.” Murdoch said as he turned to leave.
“ How’s Johnny doing?” Jacob asked as he followed Murdoch back out front.
“ He’s alive. He was shot four times. Thank you for asking.”Murdoch said as he opened the door to leave.
“ I’ll keep him in my prayers Murdoch. He’s a good boy.” Jacob said as Murdoch walked out.
“ I’ll come out and check on you in a couple days. I don’t want you doing anything but staying in bed and resting young man.” Sam ordered as Scott, and Murdoch got Johnny situated in the wagon to go home.
“ He won’t Sam.” Scott said.
“ Even if we have to tie him to the bed.” Murdoch added.
“ I don’t think I have to tell you about not using that right arm yet. Keep it in the sling as much as possible. You can remove it when you sleep, but no trying to use it. Understand?” Sam said.
“ I hear you Sam.” Johnny responded. “ Anyone ever tell you your bossy?”
“ Only my patients who don’t follow my instructions.” Sam responded. “ Now, I will allow you to sit up in bed, but no gettting out of bed or walking around until I say you can. Do you understand me John?”
“ Ease up Sam. I know the drill.” Johnny said.
“ He’ll be good Sam.” Scott said as he wrapped a blanket around his brothers shoulders.
“ Can I go home now?” Johnny asked.
“ Thank you for everything Sam.” Murdoch said as he extended his hand.
“ I’m just glad he pulled through. I’ll see you in a couple days. Come get me if something happens before then.” Sam said.
Teresa came out of the house as the wagon pulled into the yard. “ Johnny, I’m so glad you’re home. I have your room all ready for you with extra pillows on the bed.”
“ Thanks Teresa.” Johnny said as Scott helped him get out of the wagon.
“ I have a nice beef soup for your lunch.” she said.
“ If you don’t mind, I’d like some meat, not soup Teresa.” Johnny snapped back. “ I’m not a little kid.”
“ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean you were Johnny. I just thought you would need something easy on your stomach still.” Teresa responded.
“ There’s no call for you to be rude to Teresa John. She only………….”
“ Just leave me alone alright.” Johnny cut in. “ I don’t need you, any of you.” he said before walking into the house, and upstairs.
“ It’s alright Teresa. He didn’t mean to be that way to you.” Scott said. “ Just give him some time. He’s been through a lot.”
“ That’s no excuse son. We’ve all been through a lot. There’s no excuse for him to be rude like that.” Murdoch interjected.
“ With all due respect sir, it’s Johnny who is facing not being able to use his right arm ever again, not us. Or maybe that’s what you want, Johnny to not be able to draw a gun ever again?” Scott said and asked.
“ You know that’s not true son. I know what the loss of using his right arm could mean to him.” Murdoch responded.
“ Stop it you two.” Teresa ordered. “ We should all be thankful Johnny is alive, and home, not fighting with each other.”
“ Young lady, don’t think I’ve forgotten what you did. We will be having a talk about it.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ What I did was save Johnny’s life Murdoch. You weren’t there. You didn’t see what happened.” Teresa snapped back.
“ You shouldn’t have seen that at all.” Murdoch said.
“ But she did, and it’s because of her, Johnny is still alive.” Scott interjected.
“ She should have never been put in that position.” Murdoch responded.
“ What I did was no different than when I helped you fight against land pirates. I’m not a little girl anymore Murdoch. I’ve seen men shot and killed, and I would do it again in a heartbeat for Johnny, you or Scott. Lancer takes care of it’s own, remember?” Teresa said before turning and going inside.
Johnny sat down on his bed and removed the sling. “ They don’t get it. They will never understand.” he said as he rearranged the pillows, and sat back against them. His mind drifted back to what he heard his father say, and he still couldn’t believe she did it. Teresa had shot and killed General Andrade. What he couldn’t figure out though, was why it made him so made that she had. Andrade had every intention of killing him, and would have, had she not had the courage to shoot the man. Maybe that’s what bothered him so. The fact that Teresa was even put in that position. A position he never wanted her to be in. Hell, he never wanted her to see the Madrid side of him, yet she had. Maybe Paul Miller was right. His kind is nothing but trouble, death waiting to happen. All he wanted was to live a normal life, yet every time he started to relax and enjoy being Johnny lancer, someone, or something brought the Madrid side of him out.
Getting up, Johnny undressed and climbed into bed. Why had General Andrade, and Captain Mundez come here to kill him? Would there be more men come from Mexico? Captain Mendez did. Came right to the ranch, and in doing so, put everyone’s life at risk. A risk that should have never happened. With Andrade and Mundez, it was Teresa who he had put at risk of being killed. Her and the citizens of Spanish Wells.
Three weeks went by and every night after everyone went to bed, Johnny would slowly start moving his arm and flexing his fingers. Sam showed him a couple exercises he could do to help build the muscle strength back up. The real test would come when he went out alone and started practicing his draw again. Every night at supper he could tell Murdoch wanted to ask him questions about what happened. He expected it to happen before now. Tired of waiting for the inevitable to happen, he decided tonight he would cast the first stone.
“Andrade y Mundez han sido asesinados por el Madrid. Lo enfrentaron con otros dos hombres. Se dice que el Madrid recibió cuatro disparos. Que dos balas entraron en su brazo derecho y hombro. Dicen que ya no puedeusar ese brazo para dibujar nunca más.” ( Andrade and Mundez have both been killed by Madrid. They faced him with two other men. Word has it Madrid was shot four times. That two bullets went into his right arm and shoulder. They say he can no longer use that arm to draw ever again.)
“ Para seguir vivo después de que cuatro hombres se enfrenten a él, no es humano. Ningún hombre puede sobrevivir tantas veces como le dispararon al Madrid. No desperdiciaré más vidas tratando de matar lo que no se puede matar. No quiero más discusión sobre ese mestizo. ¿ Eso se entiende?” President Diaz responded. ( To still be alive after four men face him, he is not human. No man can survive as many times as Madrid has been shot. I will waste no more lives trying to kill what cannot be killed. I want no more discussion about that mestizo. Is that understood?)
“ Si Señor.” ( Yes sir.)
“ Look, I know you’re just dying to ask, so get it said old man.” Johnny said suddenly as they ate supper.
“ Get what said?” Murdoch asked.
“ It’s been four weeks since the shooting, and you haven’t once said or asked me about it. I can’t help but wonder why that is?” Johnny responded.
“ Teresa and Sam told me what happened.” Murdoch said.
“ I see, so because they told you what happened, you’re not going to drill me like you usually do whenever I get called out? It’s okay because they told you, is that it old man?” Johnny asked.
“ Johnny, I don’t think this is necessary brother. We all know it wasn’t your doing.” Scott said.
“ Yeah it was. I see how you look at me Murdoch. I see the disgust in your eyes. I’m not a fool.” Johnny responded.
“ Alright, for one, I don’t much care for your attitude young man. Two why did those two men come all the way here from the prison?” Murdoch demanded.
“ How the hell should I know why they came here Murdoch. Maybe it’s because Booth lied to them and the governor to get me out. Maybe it stuck in their craw that I was given a full pardon by Governor Juárez. I told you this would happen when I came here. When I signed the partnership agreement. You think I like looking over my shoulder? You think I like the fact that I can’t go out and work with Scott, or go to town without wearing that damn gun? I agreed to stay here because I wanted to live a life as your son, and Scott’s brother. Now if you can no longer handle that, or you want me to leave tell me now, and as soon as my shoulder is healed up enough, I’ll leave. Unless you want me to leave now so I don;t put anyone else at risk.” Johnny responded firmly.
“ I don’t want you leaving. I want you to be able to live a normal life son. Not one by that damn gun.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ And there it is. The real reason you’re upset with me. Why you have hardly talked to me.” Johnny said. “ Do you think I like the fact that Teresa seen me as Madrid? Do you think I like the fact that she shot and killed General Andrade? If you think knowing what she did doesn’t bother me…………” Johnny said as he threw his napkin down and stood up. “ The last thing I ever wanted was to put you in that position Teresa. I’m sorry.” he said before leaving the table, and walking outside.
Teresa stood up. “ Murdoch Lancer, I love you like a father, but you are way out of line. You know perfectly well Johnny would never put me in harms way. If I had to kill that man again, I would. I will kill anyone who is trying to hurt or kill my family.” she said before heading outside.
Murdoch sat there staring at the empty chair his youngest vacated minutes before.
Scott dabbed the corners of his mouth, and placed his napkin on his plate before standing up. “ Is this how it’s going to be between the two of you every time someone calls him out?”
“ I honestly don’t know son.” Murdoch said. “ I don’t want it to be. I want your brother to live the kind of life he deserves, and not have to worry about being called out and gunned down by some man over a damn reputation.”
“ Why don’t you try telling him that then. Or better yet, why don’t you tell him how proud you are of him, that you love him?” Scott said before walking away.
Teresa found Johnny in the barn grooming Barranca. “ Johnny, can we talk?” she asked.
“ Nothing to talk about Teresa.” he said.
“ I think there is.” Teresa said as she rubbed Barranca’ face.
“ He always has liked you.” Johnny said as he brushed the golden coat. “ I would never do anything to hurt you, any of you. It hurts me that you had to see the Madrid side of me. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for that Teresa.”
“ Johnny, you didn’t know those men were in Spanish wells. You had no way of knowing what would happen. I don’t blame you for what I did. I killed that man because I love you. You’re my brother, and I would do it again if I had too.” Teresa said. “ Seeing you as Madrid that day helped me to understand that side of you better. I’ve heard you say why men call you out, but I don’t think I really understood that until I actually seen it happen.
Johnny stopped brushing Barranca and came out of the stall. “ You know, you are going to make some man a very lucky man some day.”
“ The two who called you out, Matt Hawkins and Cody Lambert, they were really bad men weren’t they?” she asked.
“ Yeah, unfortunately there are a lot of gunfighters out there who only care about killing, making the most money, and being the best.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down on a bale of hay. “ That’s all I ever wanted to be at one time Teresa, Johnny Madrid, good at my trade. I thought being the best meant respect. It didn’t. People feared me. I got my reputation, but it cost me more than you will ever know.”
“ I think I have a pretty good idea what it cost you. That gun made you who you are today. Doesn’t that count for something?” she asked.
“ Yeah, but how long am I going to have to pay the price for that trade Teresa? All I want to do is live a normal life as Murdoch Lancer’s son who gets up six days a week at the crack of dawn to go out and clear streams, mend fences, and work with the dumbest, orneriest critter on earth until well after dark sometimes. I love being able to do that. I love not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from, or where I can safely sleep. I will never understand why my mother took me away from all of this.” Johnny explained. “ Hell, I even like the disagreements me and him have sometimes. You wanna know why?……………Because I’m just like him. Cut from the same mold Scott says. All pride and not an ounce if give.” he added with a laugh.
“ I would have to agree with that Johnny.” she said.
“ What was he like to be around when you were growing up?” he asked.
“ Murdoch, he was lonely. He missed you terribly. Every Pinkerton report he got that said you hadn’t been found yet broke his heart. Every Christmas and on your birthday he would just stare off at nothing. When he was shot in the back, and I was sitting with him, he would call out for your mother. He loved her so much. My father said when he brought her here he had never seen a more beautiful woman. Even Maria thought your mother was gorgeous.” Teresa explained.
“ It seems like he didn’t wait long after Scott’s mother died.” Johnny said.
“ Maybe I didn’t son, but when I seen your mother for the first time in Matamoros, I was taken aback by her beauty.” Murdoch said from the door. “ Teresa, would you leave us please?”
“ Just remember what I said Johnny. I love you.” Teresa said before giving him a kiss on the cheek and leaving.
“ Did you really love her, or was it just lust?” Johnny asked.
“ Why would you even ask me that son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Because it’s pretty obvious you got her pregnant with me before you were married. I can’t help but wonder if you would have still married her had she not been.” Johnny responded.
“ I loved your mother more than anything son. Yes I would still have married her. You were my little blue-eyed angel Johnny. I would give anything if I could have been in your life as you grew up. Guiding you, teaching you, helping you become a man.”
“ Guess I kinda screwed that up huh?” Johnny asked.
“ Why do you say that John?” Murdoch asked as he walked over and sat down next to him.
“ By becoming Johnny Madrid. Look what it’s cost me so far Murdoch. Look how many men I’ve had to kill because of that damn reputation I thought having was so important.” Johnny responded.
“ Son, I think you becoming Johnny Madrid is what has made you the person you are today.” Murdoch said before clearing his throat. “ I’m new at this father business, just like you are new at being a son and brother. I think if we stick it out, we can all three get through this. Now I’m not saying we won’t butt heads and have disagreements. Every family does. It’s a part of living, but I think what makes me and you stronger is you are cut from the same mold.”
“ All pride and not one ounce of give.” Johnny cut in. “ I just told Teresa that a few minutes before you walked in.
“ Do you think you will be able to get your draw back?” Murdoch asked.
“ It’ll take time, but I think I can.” Johnny responded. “ I never wanted her to see me as Madrid, Murdoch, but I’m glad she did, because now she understands better.”
“ You mean why men call you out?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. You know, Teresa isn’t a little girl anymore. She’s almost at marrying age. She’s going to make some man very lucky to have as a wife some day.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ I know that son.” Murdoch responded as he stood up. “ Listen Johnny, there’s something I need to say to you. Something I feel is long over due in saying, and I hope you can forgive me for not saying it sooner or more.”
“ Yeah, what’s that?” Johnny said as his stomach started to tighten.
Walking over to Johnny, he placed his hands on his shoulders. “ I’m damn proud of the man you have become……………and I love you very much.” Murdoch said before pulling him into a hug.
Shocked at the words he heard his father say, Johnny stood there a few seconds before hugging his father back. Something he had wanted to hear and feel for so long.
Spring round-up was fast approaching. The snow in the upper elevations was gradually melting off, which meant streams would have to be checked and cleared out where needed to prevent flooding.
“ Hey Murdoch, you should have been out there with us today.” Johnny said as him and Scott walked into the grand room.
“ How’s it looking?” Murdoch asked.
“ Good. With the amount of snow we got, I think all the ponds, streams and lakes will run good and be full this year.” Scott said.
“I need to talk to you two about something.” Murdoch said as he stood up, and walked over to the sideboard to pour three drinks.
“ I received a telegram today from the army. It seems they are interested in buying horses in this area, and wanted to know if Lancer would be interested in signing a contract with them.” he explained as he handed the boys their drink.
“ How many head a year do they want?” Johnny asked.
“ As many as we can supply them with.” Murdoch said as he walked back over to his desk, picked up the telegram, and handed it to Johnny. “ Rounding up and breaking horses would take a lot of time. It would take someone who knows good horse flesh.”
Johnny handed the telegram to Scott. “ Lancer has more wild horses than a man could break in a lifetime.”
“ Yes there is. Do you think it would be worth Lancer’s time to do this?” Murdoch asked.
“ It says here they are sending someone to look at the horses.” Scott said.
“ Yes. That’s why I’m asking what you two think of it?” Murdoch said. “ Do you think it would be a sound investment for Lancer?Now keep in mind, Lancer will always be a cattle ranch, but I see no harm in making money from the government selling them horses.”
“ That could end up being several hundred head a year. It would mean building extra corrals, extra feed to feed them through the winter. You sure about this Murdoch?” Johnny asked.
“ Are you doubting your abilities son?” he asked. “ I watched you break Barranca, and I’ve seen you with other horses. You have a gift. One I think should be put to good use.”
“ I don’t know Murdoch, breaking horses is a hard tiring job. It would mean we would have to hire extra hands so we don’t take men away from the ranch duties.” Johnny explained.
“ Sounds to me like you have some doubts about your abilities brother.” Scott said.
“ Not when it comes to horses I don’t. I was taught by the best down in Mexico, when I was a kid. I can read a horse better than I can read a book Scott.” Johnny responded.
“ Why don’t you think on it, and maybe draw up something with added corrals and such son? Your brother can help you figure out how much materials we will need for the extra corrals and roughly what it will cost. Something you can present to the army when they get here.”Murdoch suggested.
“ You’re serious about this?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes I am son. I hope it don’t happen, but the market can crash on cattle sales. Lancer needs something sound to fall back on if that ever happens. Our stocks won’t be reliable, so I see only two ways for us to make extra money, timber, which I have no plans on ever allowing, or horses.” Murdoch responded.
“ Why don’t we sell off the stocks that you don’t think are any good?” Scott asked.
“ Angus presented my proposal to the board, and said he felt like a fool. He believes they will turn a profit eventually.” Murdoch said.
“ So in other words, Angus McGovern decides what stocks Lancer can buy and sell?” Johnny asked.
“ No, I said he presented it to the board and felt like a fool doing so. Nobody tells us what we can and cannot buy and sell son.”
“ The value of stocks is determined by the banks and big eastern money Johnny.” Scott added.
“ You mean men like Harlan Garrett?” Johnny responded. “ How is it some eastern tenderfoot who has never set foot out west, let alone been on a cattle ranch can determine the value of stocks?”
“ It’s a complicated process little brother. One I don’t quite understand myself.” Scott said.
“ Mister Lancer, I’m Major James Longstreet, and this is Captain David Hunter. We are here to take a look at the horses you say you can provide the army.”
“Certainly Major. Why don’t you gentlemen come inside.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Corporal Reynolds, take care of the mounts.” Major Longstreet ordered as he dismounted. “ The army is very strict on what it purchases Mister Lancer. Mares are prohibited, and no stallions. All the horses we buy must be geldings between four and ten years of age. They must be well-broke to bridle and saddle.”
“ Army horses must be sound. No defects such as shallow breathing, Deformed hooves, spavin, or ring-bone. They must weigh at least 950 pounds and beat minimum 15 hands in height.” Captain Hunter said. “ Now we have contacted ranches all over the southwest, and none of them can or want to supply us with what we need. Why are you so sure you can?”
“ Because Lancer has more wild horses on it than a man can break in a lifetime David.” Johnny said from the veranda doors.
Captain Hunter turned and faced the man speaking. “ As I live and breath, Johnny Madrid.”
“ I go by Lancer now. Murdoch, watch this one, he’s a scoundrel.” Johnny said as he walked over and shook the mans hand. “ How the hell are you David? How’s Mary and that daughter of yours doing?”
“ John, your language please.” Murdoch said.
“ Lancer, you have some explaining to do old friend. As for Mary and Paula, they’re good. They live at Fort Bowie with me.” Captain Hunter responded.
“ Johnny, this is Major Longstreet, he and Captain Hunter are here about buying horses for the army.” Murdoch said.
“ Major, just what type of horses the army interested in purchasing?” Johnny asked.
“ Did I hear Captain Hunter call you Johnny Madrid?” the major asked.
“ You did. I used to be him, now I’m just the son of a rancher.” Johnny responded. “ Is that a problem?” he asked.
“ I’m only interested in purchasing horses for the army son. Who you are, or I should say were is of no concern of mine.” the major said. “ We were telling your father that the army is looking for geldings, dark in color, between 4 and 10 years of age. Sound, no shallow breathing problems, spavin, or deformed hooves. They need to be at least 15 hands tall.”
“ Major, I don’t know if you know much about horse flesh, but the mustang is the hardiest, most reliable horse out there. They’re stout, and can go for long distances without water. They’re loyal to their owner, and easy to train.” Johnny explained. “ I just brought in about two hundred head if you would like to walk down to the corrals and take a look?”
“ There will be plenty of time tomorrow to see the horses son. I’m sure the Major, and Captain would like to freshen up and rest before supper.” Murdoch stated.
“ It was a long ride from Fort Bowie.” Captain Hunter said.
“ Your Corporal is welcome to stay in the house also. We have more than enough room Major.” Murdoch suggested.
“ That’s very kind of you Mister Lancer.” Major Longstreet said.
“ These are exactly what the army is looking for. Can you guarantee two hundred head a year delivered to Fort Bowie?” Major Longstreet asked.
“ I can.” Johnny said. When did you want them delivered?”
“ I think early summer is a sufficient amount of time. The army will pay you a hundred and ninety dollars a head upon delivery.” the major responded. “ That way there’s plenty of water and grazing as you cross the desert.”
“ One thing you should know Johnny.” Captain Hunter said. “ The Indians have been stirring up a lot of trouble around the fort. Killing miners, looting supply wagons and such. You could run into trouble.”
“ I’ll have enough men with me, we should be alright, but thanks for the warning.” Johnny responded.
“ Well alright then. I have a contract already written up. We can go back to your house, and you can read it over before signing it.” the major suggested.
“ Sounds good to me.” Johnny said.
“ How many horses a year?” Scott asked.
“ Two hundred head.” Johnny responded. “ At one hundred and ninety dollars each.”
“ A hundred and…………that’s………..thirty eight thousand dollars a year Johnny!” Scott said.
“ A very sound profit I think.” Murdoch said.
“ How long is the contract for?” Scott asked.
“ Five years, and about a hundred and ninety thousand dollars.” Johnny responded.
“ Lancer can never make that much selling cattle in five years time.” Scott said.
“ It’ not going to be easy. I hired men to build the corrals, and once those are done, your brother can start rounding up, cutting out, and breaking.” Murdoch stated.
“ How many other ranchers know about this?” Scott asked.
“ None as far as we know. Lancer business is just that, Lancer business.” Murdoch responded.
“ You know Jim Pierpoint will talk.” Johnny said.
“ Especially since he’s on the cattleman’s board.” Scott said.
“ I’ve thought about that. I think it would be best if you open a bank account in Green River for this.” Murdoch suggested.
“ That probably would be of the best interest.” Scott said.
“ Murdoch. can I ask you something?” Johnny asked.
“ What do you want to know son?” Murdoch responded.
“ I’m just curious if you think having a horse business is a foolish idea?” Johnny asked.
“ I never thought it was foolish son. It’s just not as practical as raising beef. People will always need to eat, and we can sell cattle at two years. Horses, we have to wait four or five years for them to mature enough to be broke. That’s a lot of money going out toward keep, and none coming in son.” Murdoch responded. “ Now mind you, this could still fail. I don’t want to see that happen, but you need to remember it could happen, just like the market could fall out for the cattle industry. All it would take is one really bad winter, and we could lose every head of cattle we have. That’s my greatest fear son second to losing you two boys again.”
“ You won’t lose us again old man, and you won;t lose Lancer either. This is our home, and I will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Even if it meant I had to hire my gun out.” Johnny said.
“That young man I will not permit you to do. I don’t ever want to hear you say that again.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Even if it means losing the ranch?” Johnny asked.
“ The thought of losing you, either of you because of this ranch would hurt me more.” Murdoch said.
“ He does call the tune brother.” Scott said.
“ I think all that money Lancer will be making has clouded his judgment.” Johnny said with a laugh. “ Look Murdoch, I know you don’t like the idea of my hiring my gun out, but you have to remember something.”
“ What’s that son?” Murdoch asked.
“ It’s the Madrid way.” Johnny said.
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