I don’t own them. I’m just borrowing them for some fun. All original characters belong to their rightful owns at CBS or whoever owns them now. No profit is being made from this, just the pleasure of having fun with the Lancers. Any characters not affiliated with the Lancer TV show are mine, and may not be used without my permission.
Co-written, and Created by Robyn Breiten, this is her story.
Warning: this story will have adult content and language. Therefore it will be Rated-R.
Johnny Madrid Lancer ( age 22 )
Murdoch Lancer ( 52 )
Scott Lancer ( age 27 )
Teresa O’Brian ( age 20 )
Val Crawford ( age 30 )
Sam Jenkins ( doctor )
Henry Bennett ( rancher )
Ruth Bennett ( wife )
Jake Sanders ( sheriff of Wickenburg, Arizona )
Word count: 28,370
“ Are the cattlemen going to reappoint Val as sheriff of Green River?” Johnny asked his father.
“ I don’t see why they shouldn’t son. Val has done a good job these past three years.” Murdoch responded as Teresa walked into the room wearing a beautiful blue dress with lace trim.
“ What do you think?” she asked.
“ Is that the dress you’ve been working on for the church dance in Green River?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes it is.” Teresa said. “ It’s taken me a month to make it. What do you think Johnny?”
Johnny looked at Teresa, and found he was seeing her in a totally different way suddenly. The fullness of her breast, the curve of her hips, the softness of her skin. Ever since that morning she burst into Scott’s room and said too think of her as a little sister, that’s what he had done. Now, five years later, he was seeing her as a mature woman. He knew he shouldn’t be having the feelings he was starting to have for her, Murdoch wouldn’t allow him to be with her. He had made that very clear, yet here he was, seeing Teresa differently, and wanting her in a way he knew was forbidden.
“ Johnny, you alright?” she asked.
“ What? Yeah, I’m alright. It’s just that that dress makes you look……….it’s beautiful Teresa. I think all the boys will be vying for your attention at that dance.” Johnny said finally. ‘ Yes sir, there’s gonna be some mighty jealous fellas at that dance.”
Murdoch couldn’t help but notice the way his son looked at Teresa. Only two years separated them in age. Had his son tried anything inappropriate with his ward before he wondered. “ I think your little sister will be happy to have young men her own age vying for her attention.” he said firmly as he looked at Johnny.
“ Where you still taking me to see Sarah, and her new baby?” Teresa asked.
Johnny glanced at his father. “ I said I would.”
“ Perhaps a hand should take you instead Teresa. I need Johnny to go over the books with me before Scott gets back from Modesto.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Murdoch, he promised. You can go over the books this evening after supper.” Teresa said.
“ Alright. I expect we can do the books tonight. Why don’t you go hitch up the buggy while Teresa changes?” Murdoch said, and asked.
“ I’ll wait for you outside.” Johnny said before turning to go hitch up the buggy. In all honesty, he had forgotten he said he would take Teresa to see her friend.
“ Teresa, I need to know something.” Murdoch said. “ Has Johnny ever tried anything with you, or said anything inappropriate to you?”
“ Of course not Murdoch. How could you even think that?” she responded.
“ I couldn’t help but notice the way he was looking at you just now. I want to know if he ever gets out of line with you okay.” he said.
“ Murdoch, I’m twenty years old now. Johnny just noticed I’m grown up is all. I’m his little sister.” she said before heading to her room to change.
“ Grown up. That’s what worries me.” Murdoch said as he went back to balancing the books.
“ Your baby is so sweet Sarah.” Teresa said as they sat on the porch.
“ She is until she wakes me up at three in the morning wanting fed. She has a good set of lungs on her, that’s for sure.” Sarah responded with a laugh. “ Teresa, have you ever thought of Johnny as more than a brother?” she asked.
“ What do you mean?” she asked.
“ You know what I mean. Look at him, he’s gorgeous. I know a lot of girls who sure do want his attention. In fact, I couldn’t help but notice how he looks at you. How he watched you walk away from him when you got here.” Sarah said.
“ Sarah, he’s my brother.” Teresa said as she looked at Johnny leaning against the buggy.
“ But he’s not a blood brother Teresa. Girl, if I wasn’t married, and I had someone like that looking at me the way he does you, I’d be making out in the hayloft with him every chance I got.” Sarah said.
“ You know, it’s funny now that you mention it. Murdoch asked me when Johnny was hitching up the buggy if he had ever been inappropriate toward me.” Teresa said.
“ Has he?” Sarah asked.
“ No, and that’s what I told Murdoch too.” she responded as she watched Johnny checking the harness of one of the horses.
“ Girl, something tells me Johnny Lancer has feelings for you, but is afraid to do anything about them.” Sarah suggested.
“ How would I find out if what you’re saying is true?” Teresa asked.
“ Ask him, or better yet, present yourself to him, and see if he kisses you.” Sarah suggested. “ The stream you cross on the way here, have him stop there and just present yourself to him.”
“ The truth is Sarah, I have noticed Johnny, but because Murdoch made it clear he is only to be thought of as a brother, I let it go at that.” Teresa said as Johnny started walking toward them.
“ I’ll say this, with a walk like that. If you don’t try to get him to kiss you before you get home, you will be missing out on pure heaven.” Sarah said.
“ It’s getting late Teresa, we better start back.” Johnny said.
“ You’re looking good Johnny. Why me and Teresa were just talking about you, and how some girl is going to be lucky to have you some day.” Sarah said.
Johnny smiled slightly, his blue eyes sparkling. “ I doubt that.” he said.
“ Why you say that? Don’t you think you’ll find someone to love?” Sarah asked.
“ What goods it do if you can’t have them.” Johnny said as he glanced at Teresa, and smiled. “ I’ll go hitch up the horses.”
“ I told you girl. He likes you. I’m telling you, have him pull off the road at the stream, and make out with him. I can tell he is just dying to kiss you. Man I bet it’s pure heaven to have him slid his tongue in a girls mouth as his hands wander over her body.” Sarah said.
“ Sarah, I can’t believe you just said that.” Teresa said with shock.
“ Girl, have you never had a boy put his tongue in your mouth when he kisses you, as his hands wander to touch forbidden places? She demanded. “ If you haven’t, then I suggest you let Johnny be the first. Something tells me that boy will take your breath away once he starts.”
“ I’ll see you at the fund raiser Sarah.” Teresa said as she hugged her friend. “ Maybe I will see if he will do that, so I can feel what you’re talking about.”
“ Johnny, would you stop at the stream up here. It’s so pretty, and I don’t get to come this way very often.” Teresa asked.
Johnny pulled the team off the road down next to the stream. Climbing down, he offered his hand to help Teresa down. “ We can’t stay long.” he said. “ I don;t want Murdoch thinking something happened to you.”
“ Murdoch worries about me too much.” Teresa said as she walked down to the waters edge so nobody could see them. “ Come join me.”
Johnny sighed, and walked down to stand next to her. “ It is pretty here.” he said.
“ You know, Sarah asked me a question before we left.” she said. “ She asked me if I had ever really been kissed by someone.”
Johnny cleared his throat. He often wondered what it was girls talked about. Now he knew. “ Teresa, I don’t think………..”
“ I want to see if what Sarah said is true.” she cut in.
“ See if what is true?” Johnny asked as those feelings he was having earlier started coming back.
“ She said a man can take a girls breath away, and make her feel all funny inside just by the way he touches and kisses her.” Teresa responded as she turned to face him. “ I want you to do that to me.”
Johnny couldn’t believe what he was hearing her ask him to do. Stepping closer, he put his right hand under her chin, and brought his lips down to touch hers gently. He knew if Murdoch found out he did this, he would probably be run off Lancer, the home he loved more than anything. Johnny looked into her brown eyes as his thumb caressed her chin. “ I’ve wanted to kiss you for a long time.” he said as he brought his lips to hers again, but this time he slid his tongue in her mouth as he held her tight to him.
Teresa moaned as she kissed Johnny back. Wrapping her arms around his neck as he deepened the kiss more. Gasping in shock as he ran his hands down and started touching her breast. Moaning as he slid a hand inside her shirt and gently squeezed her left one as his other hand went between her legs and started rubbing her.
“ I………I need to stop this now before it goes to far.” Johnny said as he stepped away from her, but didn’t remove his hand from her breast.
“ Don’t stop. Please Johnny, I want you to do this.” Teresa pleaded.
“ Teresa, you don;t realize what can happen. I want you in the worst way, but it can’t………I can’t.”
“ Yes you can.” Teresa said as she unbuttoned her shirt, exposing her breast to him.
Johnny turned around and walked back to the buggy. “ Don’t do this Teresa, please.”
Teresa walked up behind him. “ Am I not good enough for you Johnny?’ she asked.
Johnny turned around. “ No. The fact is, you’re too good for me.”
“ Touch me again Johnny. I know you want too. We don;t have to do anything else. Just touch me. I want to feel your hands on me in places I’ve never been touched before.”
Johnny knew it would take every part of his being to not go all the way with her. Reaching out, he turned her around and undid her belt and jeans, letting his hand slid inside as he claimed her mouth with hunger.
“ This changes things between us doesn’t it?” Teresa asked thirty minutes later.
“ It does for me. If Murdoch finds out.” Johnny said. “ This can never happen between us again.”
“ Why not?” she asked as she buttoned her shirt back up.
“ Because if it does, I won;t be able to stop myself from taking you all the way.” Johnny said as he climbed in the buggy.
Teresa knew then that she would never be just his girl. “ So I’m not as good as those floozies in town you go see?”” she asked.
“ Teresa, those women are way more mature than you. You’re still innocent……….. Look it’s getting late. I need to get you back.” Johnny responded.
Murdoch came out of the house as the buggy came up and stopped. “ Why are you so late coming home?” he demanded of Johnny.
“ It’s my fault Murdoch. I didn’t realize it was so late, I was having so much fun with Sarah and the baby.” Teresa said.
“ You knew to have her back here before dark. When are you going to start being responsible for your actions?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Relax old man. I got her back home in one piece.” Johnny snapped back before heading to the barn with the buggy to unhitch the team.
“ Teresa, I don’t want you going anywhere alone with Johnny anymore. Is that understood?”
“ I said is that understood?”
“ Yes sir.” Teresa said before going to the door, stopping, and turning around. “ I’m not a little girl anymore Murdoch. Stop treating me like one.” she said before storming inside to her room.
Murdoch stood there a few minutes before walking to the barn. “ Teresa won’t be going anywhere alone with you anymore. I’ll send a hand with her from now on.” he said.
Johnny ignored his father as he pulled the harness off the second horse, and led it into it’s stall.
Murdoch reached out and grabbed Johnny’s arm, stopping him when he tried to walk past. “ I asked you a question boy, I expect an answer.”
Johnny jerked his arm free. “ Don’t ever grabbed me like that again.” he said with coldness before heading inside.
Johnny rode Barranca as Murdoch drove the buggy to the fund raiser. Ever since bringing Teresa back late, and the altercation with his father in the barn, Johnny noticed his father watched him closely whenever he worked around the house close to Teresa. Most of the people at events like this hardly ever spoke to him, but his only true friend Val Crawford would be there since he was the sheriff of Green River. The cattleman’s association had reappointed him as the sheriff again for a forth year in a row.
Stopping Barranca, Johnny dismounted, and tied him to the back of the buggy before going to help Teresa down. Giving her a smile. “ You look beautiful.” he said softly as he let his left hand touch her breast briefly as she climbed down.
“ Thank you, but I can manage on my own.” she said as she slapped his hand away. “ Sarah, hi.”
“ Hi Teresa, Mister Lancer. Hello Johnny.” Sarah said.
Johnny glared hard at Sarah a second before turning and walking back to Barranca.
“ Where’s the baby?” Teresa asked.
“ With my mother at home. She’s letting me get away for a little while to have some fun.” Sarah said. “ Come on, I want to show you something.”
“ Murdoch, is it alright?” Teresa asked.
“ You go ahead and have fun sweetheart.” Murdoch said.
“ So what is it you want to show me?” Teresa asked as they walked away.
“ Nothing. I just said that to get you away from old man Lancer. Did you do what I suggested on the way home with Johnny?” Sarah said, and asked.
“ Oh Sarah, it was everything you said and more.” Teresa responded.
“ That good. So what did he do? Did he kiss you? Did you kiss him? Tell me.” Sarah responded.
“ He kissed me gently the first time, but the second time, Sarah, you were right. I couldn’t believe how my body started to act. He stopped and walked over to the buggy, telling me we shouldn’t be doing it, but I knew he wanted to, so I walked up behind him with my shirt unbuttoned. He couldn’t refuse very long. Sarah, he touched me in a way that……….Well, all I will say is I have never experienced a feeling like that before. My whole body trembled.”
“ He didn’t make love to you?” Sarah asked.
“ No. I wanted him to, but he basically told me I’m a child, and he prefers those floozies in the saloon. Said they’re mature women.” Teresa said.
“ Mister Lancer, I want to thank ya for talking the cattleman’s association into reappointing me another year.” Val said.
“ Well, you’re a good man Val.” Murdoch responded.
“ Well I do appreciate it.” Val said. “ Did Johnny come with ya?”
“ I’m right behind you.” Johnny said. “ Some lawman you are.”
“ Watch it or I’ll arrest you for vagrancy.” Val joked back.
“ Hello Sheriff Crawford. My you look nice.” Teresa asked.
“ I hope you don’t presume me to forward, but that’s a might fittin dress yur wearin.” Val said.
“ Thank you. I made it. Would you like to dance with me?” Teresa asked.
“ Val, dance. Teresa, he’s got two left feet.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Well now, how do ya know I ain’t took dance lessons or somethin?” Val asked.
“ It’s alright. We’ll manage.” Teresa said as she took Val’s hand and guided him out on the dance floor.
“ I know you and Val have been friends for a long time, but I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak to him like that. He’s a good man.” Murdoch ordered before walking away.
As the dance started to wind down, Murdoch decided it was time to head home, and bid everyone a good night as he walked Teresa out to the buggy.
“ Mister Lancer, I was wondering if I could call on Miss Teresa again?” Val asked.
“ That’s fine with me Val. Why don’t you come out to the ranch for Sunday supper?” Murdoch asked as he helped Teresa into the buggy.
“ I’ll see you Sunday then.” Val said. “ You wanna go get a cold beer Johnny?”
“ No thanks. I have other plans.” Johnny said as he swung up on Barranca, and galloped off.
Val stood there watching his friend ride away. He knew something was bothering him, the way he acted all night. Keeping to himself. Several times he seen him refuse a girls offer to dance, and that was unusual for even Johnny.
“ That was a mighty fine meal Miss Teresa.” Val said.
“ Thank you Val. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I remembered you said you liked rhubarb pie, so I made one for dessert. Johnny, and Murdoch don’t like it.” Teresa said.
“ I find it to tangy for my taste.” Murdoch said.
“ When is Scott coming back?” Val asked.
“ He should be back by the end of the month.” Murdoch responded. “ Shall we take our brandy and go outside?” he suggested.
Johnny remained seated as Val, and Murdoch headed outside.
“ Aren’t you going outside with them?” Teresa asked as she started removing plates.
“ You and Val have something going?” he asked bluntly as he stood up.
“ If we did, it is of no concern of yours.” she said before turning and walking into the kitchen.
Johnny stood up and followed her. “ Val’s my friend Teresa, so that makes it my concern.”
“ Like I said, what happens between me and Val is of no concern of yours.” she said as she started to go back after more dishes.
Johnny reached out and grabbed her arm. “ He’s ten years older than you, and given what you begged me to do at the stream, I think I have a right to know.”
“ Let go of my arm.” she ordered.
Johnny let go of her arm just as Murdoch walked into the kitchen. “ What’s going on in here?” he demanded.
“ Nothing.” Johnny said before walking out.
“ I don’t know what’s gotten into that boy lately. Are you alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’m fine. He just misses Scott.” Teresa said.
Scott came home and knew right away something was wrong with his brother. He could feel the tension between his brother and Murdoch. He even noticed how Johnny’s mood would change totally whenever Val came around. This evenings supper he watched as his brother picked at his food as he watched his best friend talk to Teresa.
“ Can I come in?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. The old man send you up here to talk to me?” Johnny asked from where he was standing, looking out his window.
“ He said you’ve been upset lately. What’s going on Johnny. You hardly spoke at supper, and I couldn’t help but notice you ignored Teresa and Val when they tried to speak to you.” Scott said.
“ It’s Val. He’s been coming here every Sunday for a month now to eat supper with us. He’s spending more and more time with Teresa, and Murdoch seems to be okay with her being with a man ten years older than her.” Johnny said as he plopped down on his bed.
“ So as a big brother you’re dissatisfied with your friend spending time with our sister?” Scott asked.
“ She’s not my sister.” Johnny said firmly.
“ What happened between you and Teresa, Johnny? The two of you used to be so close. What changed that?” he asked.
“ She grew up.” Johnny said.
“ Do you have feelings for her?” Scott asked. “ Because to me it sounds like you might be a little jealous.”
“ Jealous, I’m not okay………..Look, I don’t want to talk about it Scott.” Johnny responded. “ So how was Boston?”
“ It was okay. I liked seeing my friends again, and attending parties with grandfather, but Lancer is my home now.” Scott said.
“ So you’re saying getting scratched up by barbed wire, and working with the dumbest critter with four legs is better than attending all those fancy parties?” Johnny asked.
“ When you put it that way, no.” Scott responded. “ But having a brother to come back too is.”
“ Thanks. You’re not such a bad big brother. I think I’m going to turn in now. I’ll see you at breakfast.” Johnny said as he stood up, and started to remove his shirt.
“ Alright. Johnny, you know you can talk to me about anything?” Scott said.
“ I know. It’s just this I have to work out myself Scott. I’ll see ya in the morning..” Johnny said.
Johnny rode into the yard late afternoon six months later. He was filthy, and bone tired from cleaning out a stream. Tying Barranca off, he started to go inside when he heard Val’s voice coming from the side of the house.
“ Did you think Murdoch wouldn’t allow it?” Teresa asked.
“ Well, I had my doubts. He is known to be a hard case at times.” Val said.
“ Not with you. Murdoch only gets that way with Johnny, and he brings it on himself at times with Murdoch.” Teresa said as she wrapped her arms around Val’s neck. “ I know he won’t be like that with you.” she said before kissing him.
“ What the hell are you doing?” Johnny demanded as he walked over to them.
“ Johnny, what’re you doing here?” Teresa demanded.
“ I live here. I asked you a question.” Johnny snapped back.
“ What we are doing is none of your business. Now leave.” Teresa ordered.
“ You got some nerve.” Johnny said before swinging and hitting Val, knocking him down.
“ Johnny, stop it!” Teresa yelled.
“ What the heck is wrong with you?” Val demanded. “ Why’d ya hit me?”
Johnny tuned on Teresa. “ And you, carrying on like that where people can see you. You’re nothing but a trollop.”
Val stood up. “ You got no call to talk to my future wife like that Johnny.”
“ Future wife huh. Well I got news for you, that’s exactly what she is.” Johnny said as Val grabbed his arm, spun him around, and hit him hard in the jaw.
“ I guess I’m gonna have ta teach you some manners.” Val said as he took stance.
Johnny swung, and caught Val in the midsection, knocking the wind out of him as big hands grabbed him from behind and spun him around.
“ Is it true? Did you take advantage of your sister?” Murdoch demanded. “ Is that the real reason you were late getting her home that night?”
“ I did what she wanted and nothing more old man.” Johnny said. “ She is the one who wanted to know if what her friend Sarah said was true. That a man can make a woman feel strange inside when he kisses and touches her. She begged me to kiss and touch her.”
“ You bastard!” Murdoch said before swinging and hitting Johnny hard in the mouth, knocking him hard into the stone bench. “ I’ll teach you to talk like that about your sister.” he said as he grabbed Johnny, and hit him again in the ribs before hitting him in the mouth, splitting his bottom lip wide open. “ You dare………….”
Johnny drew his colt, and aimed it right at his fathers chest. “ You think I’m gonna let you hit me again old man.” he said before spitting blood out. “ Nobody touches me.” he said with cold deadliness to his voice.
“ You think I’m afraid of you boy?” Murdoch said as he started toward Johnny again, but stopped when Johnny cocked the pistol.
“ Considering which end of this here colt you’re on, you might want to rethink what you were going to do. I got no problem pulling this trigger.” Madrid said.
“ You half-breed bastard…. Get the hell off my land………..now.” Murdoch ordered.
“ I hope you’re happy. You got what you wanted bitch.” Johnny said. “ And you…….you were the one person I thought was my friend.” Johnny said before heading inside to grab what little he had. Coming back downstairs a few minutes later, he walked outside and tied his saddlebags on, and slid his rifle in the scabbard.
“ Johnny, I want you to sign this!” Murdoch ordered as he handed the partnership agreement to him.“ I don’t ever want to see you on Lancer land again.”
Johnny signed the paper, and then threw it back at his father. Looking at Teresa standing there with Val, his anger grew. “ Perra.” ( bitch ) he said before swinging up in the saddle. Looking around at the one place he felt the happiest at for the last time, the only real home he ever had before turning Barranca, and riding away.
“ You did what!” Scott demanded. “ Have you gone mad?”
“ Lower your voice. You weren’t here Scott. You didn’t hear Johnny, and what he said about Teresa. How he accused her of advancing on him, wanting him to do what he did. It makes me sick to just think about how he could betray her like that.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ If I had been here, I would have took the time to find out the truth. You spent fifteen years looking for him, and god knows how much money, he finally comes home, and after five years, you run him off. What the hell is the matter with you?” Scott demanded as his anger grew. “ You knew something was bothering Johnny for the last seven months. Did you once try to talk to him,……… NO, you didn’t. Instead you just flat out ignored the fact that something was seriously bothering him, and whatever it was had to do with Teresa.”
“ He dishonored your sister. I will not tolerate his rude behavior in this house any longer. His coming home in the middle of the night, and being too drunk to go to church with us the next day.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ You know why Johnny wouldn’t attend church with us. You knew he was abused in the orphanage by a priest. How in the hell can you expect him to forget that?” Scott demanded.
“For five years I have tolerated his behavior Scott, not anymore. No more will I lose sleep at night wondering if someone is going to come here gunning for him, or causing a member of this family to get hurt, or killed because of him and that damn gun. A gun he dared to pull on me, so yes I made him sign over his third of Lancer, and leave.” Murdoch responded. “ I don’t ever want to see him on Lancer land again. I should have never brought that half-breed bastard here.”
Scott glared at his father. “ That half-breed bastard is your son, and my brother.”
“ Not any longer. I’m done with him. I don’t ever want his name spoken in this house again. Do I make myself clear?” Murdoch demanded.
“ You may call the tune on this ranch, but you don’t call the tune on me, or my brother.” Scott said before turning and going upstairs.
Johnny stopped around midnight and made camp after taking care of Barranca. The words his father said to him kept playing over and over in his mind. He found himself wondering if his brother would feel the same way, and never want to see him again. Seven hours ago he had it all, now all he had was his horse, and what money he had in the bank. Laying back against his saddle, he looked up at the stars and thought about where he would go as a tear ran down his cheek. Down along the border he could find work real easy, but going back there meant he would be sought out by others trying to take his reputation.
“ What you think about us going to Arizona boy? Find us a nice quiet little town that’s far enough from the border we can spend the winter in.” he said as he glanced across the fire at Barranca grazing on grass. “ I should have done that bitch all the way.” he spat as he remembered, and how he didn’t want it to happen, but couldn’t stop when she begged him as he stood there looking at her bare breast.
He could still feel the pain from where his father had hit him in the ribs, a nice bruise now showing, as well as his bottom lip being split, and bruised as well. “ You came real close to being shot old man.” he said as he tossed his coffee, and closed his eyes to try and get some sleep.
Scott walked into the house and found Teresa in the kitchen preparing supper with Maria. “ Where’s Murdoch?” he asked.
“ He rode to Green River to see the lawyer, and have the partnership papers changed.” Teresa responded as she kneed the dough for bread.
“ ¿Por qué se iría mi Johnny?” ( Why would my Johnny leave? This is his home.) Maria asked and said.
“ PorqueMurdoch le ordenó que se fuera por cualquier cosa que hiciera Teresa. Ella lo acusó de acciones inapropiadas.”.” ( Because Murdoch ordered him to leave because of whatever Teresa did. She accused him of inappropriate actions.) Scott responded.
“ ¿Qué hiciste para que sucedieran cosas tan horribles?” ( What did you do to make such a horrible thing happen? )
“ Eso es lo que pretendo averiguar María. ¿ Nos disculpa un poco por favor?” ( That is what I intend to find out Maria. Would you excuse us for a bit please?) Scott said and asked.
Maria walked over to Teresa and slapped her hard across the face. “ Mi Johnny nunca haría esas cosas a menos que tú quisieras que él las hiciera. No preparare tus comidas con esta puta en mi cocina.” ( My Johnny would never do such things unless you wanted him to do it. I will not prepare your meals with this whore in my kitchen.) she said before walking out the back door.
“ How dare she hit me. I have done nothing wrong. That brother of yours took advantage of me.” Teresa said as she rubbed her cheek.
Scott grabbed her arm and jerked her around to face him. “ Stop with the lies Teresa. My brother is gone from the only home he has ever known because of whatever happened that day between the two of you. Now I want the truth, and I want it now.”
“ Stop it Scott, you’re hurting my arm.” Teresa pleaded.
“ I’m going to hurt a lot more than your arm if you don’t tell me the truth.” Scott said with anger.
“ Scott stop it. You’re hurting me.” Teresa said as she tried to get free.
“ Tell me what happened!” he demanded.
“ Alright, I’ll tell you. Sarah said when a man kisses and touches a woman a certain way, it makes her feel strange inside. I had Johnny stop along the stream on the way home. I told him what she said and asked him to show me, and he did.” she said.
“ You what?” Scott asked. “ Did he want to, or did you give him no other choice?” he demanded.
“ No………he kissed me, then stopped and said Murdoch would be furious and make him leave Lancer if he found out. Johnny walked back over to the buggy. I unbuttoned my shirt and walked up behind him. He again said he shouldn’t do it when he turned around, but seeing my breast made him do what he did to me. I wanted him to make love to me, but he wouldn’t. He just undid my pants and touched me as we kissed. I liked what he did to me, and he liked touching me.” Teresa spat.
“ You little bitch! You’re going to tell Murdoch the truth when he gets home. Is that understood?” Scott ordered.
“ I’m not telling Murdoch anything, and if you do, it will be your word against mine. He won’t believe you because he knows how Johnny is with those whores he sleeps with.” Teresa said.
Scott slapped Teresa hard across the face. “ Go to your room and stay there. I don;t want to see your face again until he gets home.” he ordered.
Teresa stood there in shock that Scott had struck her. Tears welled up in her eyes as she ran to her room, and slammed the door shut.
Murdoch came out of Lawyer Randolph’s office and seen Teresa’s friend Sarah walking toward him.
“ Hello Mister Lancer.” Sarah said.
“ Young lady, I need a word with you.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m on my way to the cafe to work. Can it wait until some other time?” Sarah asked.
“ No it can’t. I need to know what was said about Johnny the day Teresa came to see you. What did you tell Teresa to have him do?” Murdoch responded and asked.
“ Really Mister Lancer. I don’t think it’s any of your business what me and Teresa talked about.” Sarah said. “ Now if you don’t mind, I have to get to work.”
“ Not until you tell me what happened.” he demanded.
“ Fine. I told Teresa she should have Johnny kiss her. That when a man touches and kisses a woman, it can make them feel all strange inside. She said she liked Johnny, but doubted he would do such a thing. I told her to give him no other choice but to, and when I seen her at the church dance, she said he did exactly what she wanted even though he didn’t want to. And in case you are wondering, no he didn’t make love to her, even though she wanted him too. Now can I please go to work?”
Murdoch stood there shocked by what he was just told happened that day. His son had told the truth. Teresa had wanted him to do whatever he did to her.
“ Afternoon Murdoch.” Val said as he walked up to him. “ You alright?”
“ He told the truth.” Murdoch said softly.
“ Who told the truth? What are you talking about?” Val asked.
“ Johnny, what he said happened that day between him and Teresa. It was the truth. It was all her doing. He didn’t want to do it.” Murdoch responded.
“ You telling me Johnny didn’t force himself on Miss Teresa?” Val demanded.
“ She lied to us Val, and because of that lie, I beat my son, and made him leave the only home he’s ever had.” Murdoch said before heading to his horse, and going home.
Val stood there shocked at what he heard. Not only had Teresa lied to them about what happened, she cost him his best friend. Heading to the livery, Val saddled his horse and headed to Lancer. There was no way he would marry a woman who would do such a despicable thing.
Murdoch walked into the house , and found Scott at his desk.
“ We need to talk.” he said
“ Not now son. Where’s Teresa?” Murdoch said.
“ That’s what we need to talk about sir. I got the truth out of here this afternoon. She lied about my brother forcing himself on her.” Scott said. “ I ordered her to her room until you got back.”
“ I know she lied. I ran into her friend Sarah while in Green River. She told me what she said to Teresa, and what Teresa said at the church dance.” Murdoch responded. “ Teresa, come out here now young lady.”
“ What are you planning to do?” Scott asked.
Teresa walked into the room, and stopped at the couch.
“ I’m going to ask you one time, and I want the truth. Did Johnny force himself on you that day?” he demanded.
“ I told you he did.” Teresa said as Val walked into the house.
“ Sorry Mister Lancer, Scott, but I figure I have a right to hear what needs to be said.” Val said.
“ Tell him what you told me in the kitchen Teresa. Tell Murdoch how you were the one who half naked, presented yourself to Johnny, and begged him to do what he did to you. Tell him how Johnny pleaded with you to stop, that he knew if he did it, Murdoch would run him off Lancer if he found out!” Scott ordered.
“ That’s a lie.” she snapped back. “ Johnny forced……….”
“ No it’s not.” Murdoch cut in. “ I talked to Sarah in town. I forced her to tell me the truth. You have torn this family apart young lady.”
“ Mister Lancer, if I can say something?” Val asked. “ Miss Teresa, I thought we could be husband and wife, but after learning what you did, and how it cost me my best friend, I can’t marry you. I won;t marry you. Johnny was right, you are a trollop.” Val said before turning and walking outside. He could be heard riding away a few minutes later.
“ I want her gone from Lancer now sir. She doesn’t deserve to continue to live here.” Scott said.
“ There’s a boarding school in St Louis. I’m sending you there. I’ll pay for the schooling, but only because your father was my best friend. You are to never return to Lancer again. Is that understood?” Murdoch ordered.
Teresa stood there as tears streamed down her face. “ You’re making me leave the only home I’ve ever known?”
“ You made me order my son to leave the only home he has ever had. I lost Johnny forever because of you. Val lost his best Friend because of you. Scott lost his brother because of you. So you tell me why I should allow you to continue to live here.” Murdoch said. “ The train leaves Sacramento Friday morning. I’ll have one of the hands take you there tomorrow.”
“ You never wanted him here in the first place. You never wanted a gunfighter in your home. I’ve heard you talking to Aggie about how you wished you had never brought him here. How it was a mistake.” Teresa spat before turning and going to her room to pack.
“ I too will be leaving Lancer. I will no longer be a part owner in this ranch. Not without my brother.” Scott said.
“ Son, please don’t leave. I know I made a huge mistake. I can’t lose you too.” Murdoch pleaded.
“ You took her word over your own son. I’m done.” Scott said before turning and heading upstairs.
Johnny rode into Los Angeles three weeks after leaving Lancer. All he wanted was a couple days of rest, a hot bath, and good food. After taking care of Barranca, he headed to the hotel. Five years ago, Los Angeles wasn’t all that big, now it had saloons on both sides of the street, several new hotels, people selling fresh produce, eggs, and meat on the streets. Walking in the hotel the livery owner said would be the best for everything he wanted, Johnny rang the bell on the counter.
“ Yes sir, what can I do for you?” the clerk asked.
“ I’d like a room, and a hot bath.” Johnny said.
“ Very well, how many nights will you be with us Mister……?”
“ Lancer, Johnny Lancer.” he responded.
“ Very good Mister Lancer. It’s three dollars a night. I can put you in room 23.” the clerk said. “ There’s a tub in the room. I will have hot water brought straight away for you. There should already be towels in the room.”
Johnny paid the man for two nights, grabbed his saddlebags, and headed up the stairs. “ Thanks.”
Two hours later, Johnny walked downstairs feeling like a new man with three weeks of trail dust off him. He washed the best he could in the creeks, but with winter approaching, the water was a bit too cold.
“ How was your bath sir?” the clerk asked.
“ Great. Hey whoever cleaned my clothes did a good job. Thank you.” Johnny said.
“ Lee Lings Chinese Laundry out back does an excellent job cleaning clothes.” the clerk said. “ The hotel restaurant is open until ten.”
“ That’s where I was headed. I could use a good hot meal.” Johnny said.
Scott poured the remaining coffee in the pot on the fire to douse it. For almost three weeks now he had been searching for his brother to no avail. He had thought his brother would head east, and not go back to Mexico, but asking around in the towns, nobody fitting his description had been seen riding a palomino. “ Where are you little brother?” he asked himself as he packed up his saddlebags, and prepared to leave. “ I won’t stop looking for you. I know you’ll show up somewhere eventually.” he said as he tied his saddlebags down, and mounted up, headed east into Nevada. The day Teresa left Lancer forever was something he was glad happened. Watching from the grand room as she climbed in the wagon as tears rolled down her cheeks, he couldn’t help but think if what happened that day was what his brother tried so desperately not to say to him that night in his room when he came back from Boston. Perhaps if he had, the two of them together could have presented what happened to their father with a different outcome on Johnny’s part. Especially since it was her wanting. When his father requested he keep in touch, and let him know if he found his brother, his response stung his father hard. Throwing back at him the horrible words he had called his own son that night. Words he never thought he would hear come out of his fathers mouth after fifteen years of searching. No, when he left Lancer after Teresa, he left Lancer for good. He had more than enough money to start a life somewhere else. He just hoped he could do that with his little brother by his side.
Johnny sat at the corner table in the back watching everyone who came and went as the night progressed. He noticed a well figured woman kept glancing his way all evening as she would wait to get a tray of drinks for the customers in her area. Four of the other girls on the floor he watched numerous times go upstairs with a customer, and come back down thirty minutes later. Thirty minutes, hell he would just be getting started with his fun. The woman he kept watching though, he never went upstairs with anyone. He wondered if maybe she was one of those girls saloons kept around to just serve drinks and talk to the customers while the other girls did the real work upstairs. It had been almost a year since he had been with a woman, any woman since that day he brought Teresa to her first climax. Just thinking about it, was starting to arouse him. He liked the looks of that woman, and wondered if she would be willing to go a few rounds for the night. Finally a little after one in the morning, she came over to his table and sat down in the chair next to him, on his left.
“ You’re new in town.” she said.
“ Rode in this afternoon. Thought I’d spend a couple days letting my horse rest up before moving on.” Johnny responded. “ I couldn’t help but notice you never went upstairs tonight.”
“ That’s because the men in this joint can’t afford me. I have my own room at the hotel across the street. It’s got clean satin sheets, a big bed, and fluffy pillows.” she said.
“ Satin sheets huh. You must cost a pretty penny for a poke?” Johnny asked.
“ Ten dollars will get you a poke.” she said.
“ Really, ten dollars, and how much time?” he asked.
“ Thirty minutes is usually long enough for what I do to a man.” she said.
“ You ever have just one man for more than one round?” he asked as he leaned back in his chair.
“ Honey, there ain’t been no man worth a second round after he goes off the first time.”
“ How about this, if I can do it every hour for the next six hours, you only charge me for the first poke.?” Johnny asked.
The woman sat back and laughed. “ Damn, you sure are a cocky sonofabitch. You’re real full of yourself ain’t ya?” she said as she put her right hand on his left thigh and let it wonder up, feeling his hardness. “ Damn.” she said “ You got a deal, but know this, if you don’t you will owe me a hundred and twenty dollars at ten dollars a poke every thirty minutes.” she explained.
Six hours later Johnny sat on the side of the bed putting his boots on. All he wanted now was sleep. The woman laying on the bed watching him dress. He took out two ten dollar gold pieces and put them on the table next to the bed.
“ You got a name Mister?” she asked. “ I’m Delilah. You ever come thru here again, look me up. Ain’t often a man like you comes along.”
“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid.” he said with a smile before walking out, and heading to his hotel room, Seven times he took her, and seven times he made her climax with him. The last time being the best, and longest he’d had in a long time.
Johnny walked Barranca out of the livery and stopped.
“ Johnny Madrid, now you wouldn’t be thinking of leaving before we dance now would ya Madrid?” a voice yelled.
Johnny sighed. He had hoped this wouldn’t happen. “ I don’t know you mister. I’m not in the game anymore. All I want to do is ride out of town.” he responded.
“ Then you should have never rode into town.” the man yelled back.
Johnny stepped away from Barranca, and walked out into the street. “ Why you want to do this? I told you I’m not in the game anymore.”
“ As far as I’m concerned, you’re still in the game for two reasons Madrid, one, you’re still alive, and two, you’re still wearing that gun on your hip. That’s all the reason I need to gun you down.” the man responded.
Johnny could see people gathering on the street, some pointing at him as they talked. Delilah stood outside the hotel watching, and waiting. He heard someone say to get the sheriff even, but Johnny knew this would only end one way. Scanning the rooftops, he made sure the man was alone. The last thing he wanted was to be ambushed by another fool while he faced this one. “ Do I get to know the name of the man I’m about to kill?” he asked.
“ You ain’t killing me Madrid. I doubt you’ve heard of me if you’ve been out of the game as you say. The man about to kill you is Buck Evans.” he said as he walked a little closer to where Johnny stood, waiting.
“ I’ve heard of you. Thought robbing miners was your game?” Johnny asked.
“ Not today Madrid. Today I make the biggest score of my life. I’m gonna take your reputation.” Buck said as he went for his gun.
Two guns cleared holster a split second apart, but only one was walking away. Standing there looking at Madrid, Buck smiled as a small hole appeared over his heart, blood slowly spreading across his chest as he dropped to his knees, and fell forward, dead.
Johnny holstered his gun, turned and walked back to Barranca. Mounting up, he rode out of Los Angeles with one more ghost to haunt his memories as his own blood seeped from a wound in his upper left side.
“ Señor Lancer, me avergüenza trabajar para un hombre que ahuyentaría a su propio hijo desués de pasar tantos añosbuscándolo. Trabajaré solo hasta que pueda encontrar un buen reemplazo para usted.” Maria said as she filled his cup of coffee. ( Senor Lancer, it shames me to work for a man who would run his own son away after spending so many years looking for him. I will work until I can find a good replacement for you.)
“Llevas mucho tiempo con María. Por favor, no te vayas. Ya he perdido mucho.” ( You’ve been with me a long time Maria. Please don’t leave. I’ve already lost so much.)
“ ¿Y de quién es la culpa? Le creíste más que a tu propio hijo. Ningún padre haría eso,no sin saber primero la verdad. Me estoy volviendo viejo para levantarme tan temprano para prepararte el desayuno. Después de encontrar a otra persona mucho más joven, regresaré a México para vivir con mi familia.” Maria responded. ( And whose fault is that? You believed her over your own son. No father would ever do that without knowing the truth first. I am getting to old to be getting up so early to cook your breakfast. After I find another person much younger, I will go back home to Mexico, to live with my family.)
“ Lo extrañaremos y siempre tendrá un hogar aquí si alguna vez decide regresar.” Murdoch said before standing up, and walking out of the kitchen.( You will be missed, and always have a home here if you ever choose to come back.)
Johnny rode up into the San Bernardino Mountains, and found a secluded place with plenty of water and grass for Barranca while he tended to his wound. Three days he spent in and out of consciousness after cauterizing the wound to stop the bleeding once he cleaned it out. On the fourth day, he got up, and decided he wanted meat, so in the early morning as the sun started to rise, he shot a buck. On the fifth day he saddled Barranca, and headed east, down out of the mountains to the valley floor below. Killing the buck the day before gave him enough meat to last him to Phoenix, and not have to go into a town for supplies.
Dropping down to the valley floor, Johnny let Barranca do an easy lope that wouldn’t hurt his tender side to much. As he rode along, he started thinking about the good times he had with his brother. He’ll never forget the first time they met. Neither one having any idea they were brothers on that stage to Morro Coyo just over five years ago. It didn’t take long for them to form a bond. Something he never thought he would have. Countless times Scott had stood up for him against the old man. Him being raised in Mexico, and Scott in Boston, the two were totally the opposite, but it didn’t take long for them to almost think alike. He hated the fact that he never got to say goodbye to Scott. Maybe when he got settled someplace, he would write to him in care of Sam, so he knew he would get it. If the old man picked up the mail and seen a letter to Scott from him, he would probably tear it up, or burn it.
Sam came out of his office and started across the street when he seen Murdoch riding into town. “ Murdoch, was wondering when you would come into town again.”
“ I take it Scott came by and seen you before he left?” Murdoch asked as he dismounted.
“ Yes. He told me what happened.” Sam said. “ Murdoch Lancer, I have known you the better part of thirty years. I seen the pain you went thru when Maria took Johnny away from you. The sadness when you would get a report that said he hadn’t been found yet. For fifteen years you searched for that boy. Why in gods name would you do such a thing as send him right back out there to be gunned down? Lancer was his home, and you took that away from him.”
“ I’ve already heard this from others Sam, I don’t need to hear it from you too.” Murdoch said as he stepped up on the boardwalk.
“ I can’t believe you, In the course of one day you managed to lose all three of them.” Sam said. “ I gather from looking at you, you haven’t been sleeping much?”
“Maria left me too Sam. I have some young girl cooking for me now. I let her go though. I seen no reason to have a cook for just me.” Murdoch said.
“ She’s been with you about as long as I’ve known you. How many times did I warn you about your temper? How many times did I tell you to give that boy the benefit of the doubt? He has never once lied to you, yet you were always so damn fast to pass judgment on him, and it was usually because of his past. I told you that damn Scottish temper of yours would get the better of you one day, and here it is, you run Johnny off, send Teresa to St Louis, and Scott left. Is that ranch worth it? Was any of it worth it?’ Sam demanded.
“ No Sam it wasn’t. If I could, I would change what’s happened, but I can’t.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Have you eaten anything today?” Sam asked.
“ Maybe another time Sam. I came into town to speak with Val.” Murdoch said before heading into the sheriff’s office.
“ Mister Lancer. What can I do for ya?” Val asked.
“ I was told you are leaving Green River. That you resigned as sheriff. Is this true?” Murdoch asked.
“ Got no call to be here anymore. To many bad memories.” Val said. “ She played us both ya know? Miss Teresa, she played Johnny the biggest that day.”
“ She played all of us Val. Not just Jo……..not just him. He’s as much to blame for what happened as she was.” Murdoch said.
Val walked over, and grabbed Murdoch by his shirt.“ You can’t even say his name anymore can ya?” he said with anger as he shoved him backwards into his desk. “ Let me tell ya something Mister Lancer, that bitch, and you, cost me the best friendship I ever had. Scott told me what you said. You have got some nerve walking in here thinking you have a right to talk to me. That boy is your own flesh and blood. It ain’t his fault ya got his mother pregnant out of wedlock. I think you best leave, because right now I want to knock the living daylights out of you for calling Johnny what ya did. That boy’s been called that enough by strangers in his twenty two years of life. He sure as hell didn’t need to hear it from his father too.”
Scott rode into Cedar City, Utah as the wind started picking up, and the rain started coming down. All day he’d watched the storm coming up from the southwest. Settling his horse at the livery, he walked to the hotel, and got a room for the night. A good hot bath, meal, and a nights sleep that wasn’t on hard ground was all he wanted right now.
“ Okay Mister Garrett, here’s your key. Your room is straight ahead at the top of the stairs. I will have your bath ready for you in about twenty minutes. Will there be anything else I can get you sir?” the clerk asked.
“ You wouldn’t by chance have a newspaper I could read would you? ” Scott asked.
“ Yes sir. It’s a week old, if that’s alright?” the clerk said as he got the paper from under the counter, and handed it to him.
“ That’s fine.” Scott said as he took the paper.
“ Our dining area stays open until eight usually, but given the storm, it will most likely stay open longer. Unless you would prefer to take your meal in your room?” The clerk explained.
“ That will be fine. I’ll let you know when I finish my bath. Thank you.” Scott said as he picked up his key and headed upstairs. He found it strange signing the register Garrett, the name he had used all of his life except the last five years.
Two hours later, Scott sat on his bed reading the newspaper when an article headline caught his eye.
Still the fastest. A call-out happened in Los Angeles yesterday. Two men stood facing each other, exchanging words, when both men drew their guns, there wasn’t but maybe a split second between shots. When it was all over, Buck Evans lay in the street dead from a single gunshot wound straight thru his heart. The other man, thought to have been dead years ago was none other than the deadly gunfighter Johnny Madrid. Witness accounts say Evans called Madrid out when the gunfighter was getting ready to leave town. Shockingly, Madrid did everything he could to get Evans to walk away, and let him leave town in peace. One witness said that when the gunfight was over, Madrid rode out of town with a gunshot wound. Nobody knows for sure where Madrid has been for the last six or so years, some say he was in prison, and some say, he gave up gun fighting and went somewhere up north to live. Whatever the reasons, Johnny Madrid is back, and still as deadly and fast as he ever was.
Scott set the newspaper down, and leaned back against the headboard. “ Well little brother, you managed to stay out of the game for a long time. At least I know you are still alive. I just don’t know where you are headed fro Los Angeles.” he said. “ Guess tomorrow I ride south, and can only hope to find you.”
“ Teresa, didn’t you come from California?” Shelly asked.
“ Yes. Why?” Teresa responded.
“ You ever hear of a gunfighter named Johnny Madrid?” she asked.
Teresa grew angry inside. Just hearing the name angered her. ‘ I’ve heard of him. He’s a cold blooded killer. Murdoch Lancer, the man who was taking care of me after my father died, Madrid is his bastard son. He’s the reason I was sent here.”
“ Then I think you should read this.” Shelley said as she handed her the newspaper.
Teresa took the paper and read the article about a gunfight that took place in Los Angeles. “ It say he was shot. I hope the bastard died.” she spat.
“ What was he like? I mean, weren’t you scared living in the same house with him?” she asked.
“ It was terrifying. He has cold blue eyes that can scare you to death when he stares at you. I’ve seen him gun down men just to kill them.” Teresa said.
“ And the law didn’t arrest him?” Beth asked.
“ No. The sheriff of Green River, the only law close to Lancer, was his friend. They rode together in the south killing people.” Teresa explained.
“ What did he do to you to get you sent here?” Shelley asked.
“ He took me to see a friend who had just had a baby. On the way home, he stopped at this stream, and forced himself on me. I was powerless to stop him.” she said.
“ You mean you were………Oh my, and his father, what did he do about that?” Shelley asked.
“ It’s pretty obvious, she was sent her. He probably thought you were with child.” Beth said.
“ He wanted to protect that half-breed bastard, and the Lancer name from scandal. He’s the biggest rancher in the San Joaquin valley, so his son getting an innocent girl with child would be damaging to him.” Teresa responded.
“ Half-breed, what’s that?” Beth asked.
“ He got a Mexican whore pregnant down in Matamoros, Mexico. He married her, and brought her back to Lancer, but people knew she was pregnant before they married. She left Lancer when Johnny was almost two, and he had the Pinkerton’s searched for him for fifteen years. He had been home almost six years when he attacked me. Murdoch ordered him to leave the ranch for embarrassing the Lancer name.” Teresa explained.
“ Girls, it’s time for bed now. Lights out in five minutes.” a teacher said from the doorway.
Teresa couldn’t sleep. She lay in bed trying to think of a way to get back at Johnny. When an idea popped in her head. Friday her class would be taking a trip to see some place she cared nothing about. That would allow her to slip away, and put her plan of revenge into action.
Johnny rode toward Phoenix at an easy gallop when he heard a gunshot. Stopping Barranca, he knew the shot came from up ahead, and wasn’t toward him. Reining Barranca south, where there was more brush to conceal his approach, Johnny slipped his colt from the holster when he seen a man and woman in their forties sitting in a wagon, being harassed by two men on horseback. One thing he despised more than anything, was innocent people being harassed. Not knowing the reasons behind what was happening, Johnny walked Barranca up behind the wagon, and stopped.
“ You fellas plan on terrorizing these folks all day?” he asked.
“ What’s it to you?” one of the men demanded.
“ We’re just having us some fun.” the other one added.
“ Ride on and mind your own business mister.” the first man ordered.
“ Not till I know why you two are harassing them?” Johnny said as he brought Barranca up on the right side of the wagon.
“ Our boss, he don’t want no small ranchers stealing water from him.” one of the men said.
“ We are not stealing water. The Hassayampa river is for all to use. Your boss has more than enough water for his cattle. I am but a small rancher with only two hundred acres.” Henry Bennett said.
“ Leave us alone.” Ruth Bennett ordered.
“ You heard the folks. Leave them alone. Ride on back to your boss and tell him there won;t be no more harassing these good folks.” Johnny ordered.
“ Oh really,and just who the hell do you think you are?” the bigger of the two men demanded.
“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid.” he responded as he brought his colt up, and cocked it.
“ You went and hired a gunfighter Henry. That wasn’t a smart thing to do.”
“ He didn’t hire me. I’m just passing thru, and don’t like to see good decent people harassed by the likes of you. So go back and tell your employer I’ll come pay him a visit if he sends anyone to harass these folks again.” Johnny said with coldness to his voice.
“ You ain’t heard the last of this Madrid.” one of the men yelled as they galloped off.
“ Thank you son. God only knows what those two would have done.” Henry said.
“ They were drunk. I could smell the whiskey on their breath.” Johnny said.
“ Why don’t you come home with us and have supper? It’s the least we can do for what you did for us Mister Madrid.” Ruth asked.
“ I thank you for the offer, but I have someplace I’m headed.” Johnny said as he reached down to shake Henry’s hand.
“ Well if you ever change your mind, we have the Double B ranch.” Henry said as he shook Johnny’s hand.
“ Ma’am.” Johnny said before riding off.
Scott wrote a letter to Sam, about what happened in Los Angeles, and that he hadn’t caught up to his brother yet, and doubted he would before winter.
“ What’s the best trail to take south?” Scott asked the clerk as he checked out.
“ Sure is. You can take what’s called the Mormon Honeymoon Trail. It’s what they took to get up here from Arizona. It’s a rough trail for a wagon, but you should be alright on horse.” the clerk said.
“ Thank you. I appreciate the information.”Scott said before heading out to mail his letter and leave.
“ Oh hey! You might want to make sure you have plenty of warm clothes and a good rain slicker. This time of year the rains start up, and the further south you go, it could it will turn into snow. Lee’s Ferry is the only place you can cross the Colorado river. They have a supply store there if you should need anything, but they’re a might high on some of their prices.” the man added.
“ Again, thank you for the information.” Scott said before heading out the door.
Teresa watched as a huge group of people walked toward her class. She had only been at the school three days, but to here, that was three days too long. Every second she was awake someone would be telling her to stand up straight, walk like this, don’t talk like that. The school dean got on her nerves the worst from the moment she arrived at the school, the woman was on her for everything she did. The only time she wasn’t hounded by a staff member was when she did her needlepoint sewing. That seemed to impress the dean, and others to a point. Positioning herself at the back of her group, she quickly spun around and blended in going the other way, as her class turned the corner and disappeared from sight. Once she was far enough away, she left that group and headed southwest to the train station, bought a ticket west.
“ You will have to transfer to stagecoach in Tipton young lady.” the station clerk said.
“ That will be fine. When will the train depart?” Teresa said, and asked.
“ About ten minute, so you better get aboard.” the man responded.
“ How many days travel will it take me to reach Texas?” she asked.
“ About nine days if there are no weather delays.” he said.
“ And my meals, are they included in the fare?” she asked.
“ Yes ma’am. It may not be the best food at times,but it’s included, and will be hot. Now you better get aboard now.” he responded.
Teresa boarded the train, and took a seat so she could watch the scenery as she left St Louis. The ticket clerk said she would make it to Fort Chadbourne, Texas in roughly nine days, given there were no delays from the weather. Having only a hundred dollars on her, she knew she had to make it last as long as possible. Meals were included in the fare, so she was glad of that. She just didn’t know how much a man would charge her to kill Madrid, or how she would pay him for doing it. Thinking back to happier times as the train pulled out of the station. Times with both her father as a child, and Murdoch before his sons came home and changed everything. She never thought Scott would ever turn on her like he did that day in the kitchen, but he did, and it angered her,but not as much as the anger she had for Johnny. How could she have been so foolish as to think he would, or could ever love her as a person.
Closing her eyes, she remembered back to that day along the stream when he made her feel so good. The feel of his hand between her legs, slipping his fingers inside her. His tongue deep in her mouth as he brought her to her first climax. Even though she wanted him dead, Teresa wondered what it would have been like to have his hardness inside her, making her a woman all the way. That was the only thing left for her to experience in becoming a woman, and she wanted Johnny to be the one to do that before she killed him.
“ Don’t miss.” Seth said.
“ I won’t. Now shut up so he don’t hear us.” Carl ordered as he took aim, and fired his rifle.
“ You got him. You killed Johnny Madrid. Shot him clean out of the saddle.” Seth said as he stood up. “ Boy the boss is gonna be happy when he hears what we did. Let’s go see if he’s got anything of value on him.”
“ You idiot, someone might have heard that shot. Let’s get out of here.” Carl responded as he went to his horse.
Johnny felt the slam of the bullet in his back as Barranca bolted just enough to knock him from the saddle as darkness claimed him.
“ what’s that?” Ruth asked.
“ It looks like the horse of the young man who helped us.” Henry responded.
“ Oh dear lord Henry, look.” Ruth said as her husband stopped the wagon, climbed down, and went to the still figure laying on the ground.
“ Easy boy. I’m not going to hurt him. I want to help.” Henry said in a calm voice as Barranca snorted and pawed the ground. “ Take it easy………Ruth, he’s still alive. Bring the wagon up closer so we can get him in the back, and take him home.”
Ruth brought the team up and helped her husband get Johnny in the back. “ He’s been shot in the back. It had to be those two from the Boyd ranch.” she said.
“ You ride back here with him.” Henry said as he went to get Barranca, and tie him to the back of the wagon. “ Don’t worry fella. My Ruth will help your owner.”
Thirty minutes later Henry and Ruth had Johnny at their home in a bed. “ Let’s get that shirt off so we can see just how bad it is.” Henry said.
“ I’ll do it. You go get Murphy. That bullet is still in him, and I’m not good enough to get it out.” Ruth ordered.
“ Murphy will go to Boyd, and tell him he’s here Ruth. You have to do it.” Henry said.
“Walter Murphy despises Tom Boyd, ever since Boyd’s men killed his only son. Now go.” Ruth said.
Murdoch walked out of the house as Frank rode into the yard. “ Got a letter for you Mister Lancer.” Frank said as he dismounted.
Murdoch took the letter and seen it wasn’t from Scott, but the school in St Louis. “ Thank you Frank. Ride on out and help the crew working on that stretch of wire in south mesa.” Murdoch ordered before walking inside to sit down at his desk, and read the letter.
Dear Mister Lancer
I regret to inform you that after just three days at our school, Miss Teresa O’Brian has vanished. Her class was on an outing of the city, when at some unknown point in the outing, she slipped away from the group. One of the custodians learned that she boarded the train headed west. Unfortunately we cannot pursue her, to bring her back to the school. If this will help you in locating her, but one of the girls said the night before she vanished, they were talking about a Johnny Madrid. Miss Sally said Teresa spoke in a dangerous way about this Madrid. It is my concern that Miss Teresa is headed to the southwestern part of your country out there. It would seem the girls read a newspaper article about about Madrid being in a gunfight while in Los Angeles. I am sorry this happened.
Head Dean, St Ann’s Reformatory School
St Louis, Missouri.
Murdoch sat back in his chair. Never would he ever have imagine a young lady he loved, and thought of as his own daughter, would become so spiteful. It almost didn’t seem like it was even Teresa that day he confronted her after learning the truth of what happened between her and Johnny that day. Tomorrow he would ride into Green River and tell Sam what he has learned. He knew Scott, if not Johnny too, would keep in touch with him.
“ Can you remove the bullet Walter?” Ruth asked.
“ What the hell happened to this boy? I have never seen so many scars on one mans back before.” Doc said.
“ I know. I wondered the same thing as I removed his shirt. Some of those scars are from a whip.” Ruth said.
Walt turned Johnny over so he could see if he could feel the bullet close to exiting in the front. ‘ Oh dear lord. Ruth, Henry, do you have any idea who this man is?” he asked.
“ He said his name was Johnny Madrid I believe. Why, is there a problem?” Henry asked.
“ Problem, yeah, you could say there’s a problem. Do either one of you know who Johnny Madrid is?” doc asked.
“ No, but the two hands, Seth and Carl knew who he was.” Henry said. “In fact, they about turned white as a ghost when he said his name.”
“ That’s because the man you have laying there in that bed happens to be the deadliest, fastest gunfighter west of the Mississippi. There are men who will come here to kill him if it gets out that he’s holed up here.” Walt responded.
“ You don’t say. Well ain’t but the three of us knows he’s here doc. So I recon you shouldn’t be saying anything to the sheriff about him.” Henry suggested.
“ Sheriff Sanders can help if you let him. He despises Boyd as much as everyone else around here.”
“ Well, you can bet that if it gets out that he’s here, and an easy target to kill, they will come gunning or him.” Murphy said.
“ Why is he here though? Did Boyd bring him in to run us off?” Henry asked.
“ I don’t believe that for a second, and you shouldn’t either Henry. He knew those two worked for Boyd, and he ran them off. He said he had someplace he needed to go when we invited him to supper.” Ruth said. “ Now doc, you get to helping that boy. Get that bullet out of him.”
“ Woman, why don’t you go start some water boiling, make some supper, and put a damn pot of coffee on.” Murphy ordered. “ I have a boy here who needs help.”
Murdoch walked in the cafe, and found Sam sitting at a table eating lunch. “ I need to show you something.” he said to the gray haired man.
“ Sit down. Sue, bring a special and coffee for Murdoch.” Sam ordered.
“ I know Scott, and maybe even Johnny write to you. You need to let them know about this.” Murdoch said as he handed the letter to him.
Sam put his spectacles on, and took the letter. After reading it, he handed it back to Murdoch. “ Alright. I’ll let Scott know.” he said.
“ Can you at least tell me if Scott is alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ I received a letter from him last week. He’s fine. The next time he writes to me, I will let him know about this in my response.” Sam said. He wasn’t going to let Murdoch know he could reach Scott in Prescott, where he planned to hold up for the winter. “ Let me ask you something Murdoch. Teresa, did you have any indications at all there was something going on between her and Johnny? Or should I say, that * she * wanted to happen between her and Johnny?”
“ At first no, but then the day Teresa came into the grand room wearing the dress she made for the church dance, I noticed how Johnny looked at her differently.” Murdoch responded.
“ Differently how?” Sam asked.
“ In a very inappropriate way.” Murdoch responded.
“ Have you ever known that boy to ever dishonor a woman? Have you ever heard from anyone in Green River, Spanish Wells, or even Morro Coyo say Johnny forced himself on a young lady?” Sam asked softly.
“ No, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t Sam. He’s young, and I know how that boy likes to……….Every Saturday night he would go upstairs with those……….women at the saloon. He hardly ever rode back home with his brother, because he was to damn busy with those soiled doves.”
“ Murdoch Lancer, I know for a fact that you yourself have been with soiled doves. Maybe not in any of the towns around here, but I know you have. It’s in every mans genes to procreate with a woman, and it don;t matter what kind of woman, as long as he gets that need taken care of. And before you say anything about you being a man, and Johnny just a boy, you need to remember, that boy had to become a man a lot earlier than you or Scott.” Sam stated. “ Also, I don;t believe Johnny has ever gotten anyone with child out of wedlock like you did his mother.”
Murdoch glared at Sam. “ How dare you?”
“ I dare, because it’s the truth, and you know it Murdoch.” Sam responded.
“ Nobody that I know of. He could have down in Mexico, and refuses to acknowledge the child.” he said.
“ You really are a fool Murdoch Lancer. As long as I have known you, I never knew just how much of a fool you are until Johnny finally came home, and you treated him the way you did.” Sam said.
“ I treated that boy damn good. It’s not my fault he is so irresponsible.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Really? How many times can you remember telling him you are proud of him, or he did a good job, or better yet, how many times did you call him your son?”
Johnny opened his eyes, blinking several times to focus on what he was looking at. Sitting in a rocking chair next to the bed he lay in was the woman he had met earlier with her husband. Trying to move brought a sharp pain to his back.
“ I wouldn’t move around if I were you. Murphy won’t be none too happy, you tear those stitches out young man.” Ruth ordered as she stood up. “ Let me help you sit up enough to drink some water.”
“ Where am I?” Johnny asked.
“ Our ranch, the Double B.” Ruth said as she poured a glass of water and held it to his lips.
Johnny welcomed the cool water on his parched throat. “ Thanks. How…….how’d I get here?”
“ Me and my husband found you laying in the road. That horse of yours wasn’t going to let Henry near ya, but finally did. He’s out in the barn. Henry’s been taking real good care of him. He’s a fine animal.” Ruth explained. “ We got you in our wagon and brought you home. Only three people know you’re here. Me and Henry, and Doc Murphy.”
“ How bad was it?” Johnny asked.
“ Well, doc said you should be dead, but given all those scars you got on your body, he recons you have a strong will to live. You’ve been unconscious a week now.” Ruth responded.
“ I’m grateful to you ma’am for saving my life.” he said.
“ I couldn’t help but notice you have a wound under your left arm that’s pretty fresh.” she said.
“ Just one of the hazards that goes with my life ma’am.” Johnny said.
“ You mean the life of Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?” she asked.
“ You know me?” he asked.
“ No, Murphy did though when he came in and seen you. Told us you’re the best. He said if anyone found out you were laid up here healing, they would come and try and kill you. He also said there’s a chance Tom Boyd brought you here. Is that true? Did he hire you to run us off?” Ruth asked.
“ No ma’am. Nobody hired me. I was just riding thru when I heard the shots, and found those two harassing you and your husband.” Johnny said.
“ I’ve got rabbit with carrots and potatoes from the garden cooking on the stove. You rest. I’ll bring you some later.” Ruth said.
“ Ma’am, I wasn’t hired by this Boyd fella you mentioned. You have my word on that.” Johnny said.
“ I believe you young man. Your eyes told me you were telling me the truth. Now get some rest.” she said before walking out of the room, and closing the door.
Teresa stepped off the stage in Fort Chadbourne, Texas and shielded her eyes from the bright afternoon sun.
“ One hour to each lunch young lady while I switch out the teams.” the stage driver said. “ Go right on in that building there, and get some vittles.”
Teresa noticed a man standing outside the building wearing a gun low on his hip like Johnny did.
“ Afternoon Miss.” he said as she walked past to go inside.
“ She looks like an innocent young lady Buck. You mind your manners around her. Ya hear me?” the driver said.
“ Hey, I’ve never dishonored a lady before. I was just being polite.” Buck responded before heading inside to eat as well.
Two hours later, Buck sat across from Teresa watching her intently as they bounced along. “ Where ya headed Miss?’ Buck asked.
“ Tucson.” she responded. “ You?”
“ Haven’t really decided yet if I’m gonna go all the way to California, or find someplace to spend the winter.” Buck said. “ You got a name?”
“ Teresa, Teresa O’Brian.” she said.
“ Well Miss Teresa O’Brian, people call me Buck Smith.” he said. ‘ And I mean no disrespect, but I’m glad to have such a pretty lady riding the stage with me this trip.”
“ Thank you. This trip?” she asked.
“ Yep, every year when winter is coming I head to the southwest where it don’t snow. I’m originally from Chicago, but don’t like them big cities, and all those people.” he responded.
“ You any good with that?” Teresa asked as she pointed to the pistol on his hip.
“ Yes ma’am I am. But why would a young lady like you be asking me a question like that?”
“ Have you ever killed a man before?” she asked. Ignoring his question.
Buck could tell this young lady had something serious on her mind. Something that just might be prosperous for him in a way beyond money.
“ No, but I’ve shot a few men who wished I had killed them.” he said. “ Where you from?”
“ A small town in the San Joaquin valley.” she said. “ Do you hire out?”
“ Hire out. You mean hire my gun out. Never been asked that before. Listen, if you got someone following you, or are in some kind of trouble, maybe I can help you.” Buck offered.
“ You ever hear of Johnny Madrid?” she asked.
“ Little lady, anybody who’s ever been in the southwest has heard of Johnny Madrid. I seen he was called out in Los Angeles not that long ago.” Buck said. “ Why you asking?”
“ He………I want to kill him. I want him dead for what he cost me. What he took from me.” Teresa responded.
“ Well, we got time before we stop for supper. Why don;t you tell me why you want him dead?” Buck said.
“ Scott rode into Prescott, and dismounted at the livery. For the last two hours he’d been riding in cold freezing rain that was now switching over to snow as he led his horse into the livery.
“ Got any burlap I can use to rub him down?” he asked.
“ Sure do. There’s a pile of it over there behind the ladder. Names Percy. You come from up north way by chance?” the old man asked as he gimped over to help Scott strip the saddle off his horse, and rub him down.
“ I did. Cedar City, Utah was the last town I was in.” Scott said as he tossed his saddle over the stall rail, and started rubbing down the chestnut.
“ So you came down what they call the Mormon Honeymoon trail then.” Percy asked.
“ I did. Is there a reason you’re asking?” Scott asked.
“ Got word a short time ago that a huge side of a cliff broke off and closed that trail off. Gonna be closed until they can get to it in the spring I recon.” Percy said.
“ Names Scott Garrett. Is there a place I can place I can maybe rent for the winter to stay?” he asked.
“ Martha’s boarding house is the best place to stay the winter. Right nice widow woman running it. Better than any of the hotels rooms, and the food is a lot better.” Percy said. “ Hey, if you’re looking for work to do thru the winter, the saloon needs a bartender.”
“ Thanks, but I think I’ll make this a fairly lazy winter this year.” Scott said. “ Is it all right if I pay by the month for his upkeep?”
“ Certainly.” Percy said. “ Thirty a month will get him hay, and grain. I can turn him out in the oral when the weather is nice if you want?”
“ Thanks.” Scott said as he paid the man, grabbed his rifle, and saddlebags, and headed to the boarding house to stay for the next four months.
Johnny walked out of the house and sat down in the rocking chair. He could see Ruth gathering the eggs and feeding the chickens.
“ She might not be too happy with you being out of bed so soon.” Henry said as he handed Johnny a cup of coffee.
“ Thanks. I can only handle laying flat on my back for so long.” Johnny said.
“ I can relate to that. I broke my leg last year, Ruth had a hell of a time keeping me in bed until doc said I could get up. Cattle needed tending too, and she can only do so much.” Henry said as Ruth walked toward them.
“ I don’t believe me or Murphy said you could get out of bed yet young man.” Ruth said as she stepped up on the porch. “ Lost two chickens to coyotes again last night. When you gonna fix that fence so they can’t get in there?”
“ When I have the time woman.” Henry responded.
“ You need a good dog to keep them away at night.” Johnny said.
“ We had one, but he got bit by a rattler last year and died.” Ruth said. “ Henry, go feed the stock while me and Johnny fix breakfast.” she ordered as she headed inside.
“ Been married to that woman 22 years now Johnny. Let me tell ya, if you ever get married, be sure to also let her think she’s in the right. Always do what she say. Otherwise you might be sleeping out in the barn and eating your own cooking.” Henry said as he stood up, and headed to the barn.
Johnny walked inside and poured another cup of coffee. “ I know how to do biscuits if you want some help?” he asked.
“ Alright, flour and canned milk are on the shelf over there.” Ruth said as she slapped bacon into the skillet.
“ So where’s your property line?” Johnny asked.
“ The river. Henry put up a fence leaving enough room for the cattle to be able to drink since it never gets very high to wash it out.” she said. “ Who’s Scott?”
“ You kept mentioning him when you were unconscious, along with someone named Murdoch, and Teresa. Are they your family?”
“ They’re a part of my past I’d as soon forget.” Johnny said as he mixed eggs into the biscuits.
“ You know, me and Henry like you Johnny. You’re a good person. I can tell you care about others, and from what I heard you say, you care about at least two of those people.” Ruth said.
“ I like you and Henry too.” Johnny said as he put the biscuits in the pan. For some reason he just let it go, and told Ruth about that day he lost everything he cared about.
“ Come sit down John.” Ruth said.
Johnny wiped his hands off, and cleaned up his mess before sitting down across from her.
“ So this man Murdoch, he’s your father I take it?’ she asked.
“ Yes ma’am.” he said softly. “ He was.”
“ Regardless of what’s happened John, he will always be your father. You can’t change that. Now, I take it from what you told me, he didn’t bother to find out all the facts before he accused you of dishonoring this Teresa?” she asked as she placed her hands on the table.
“ He’s never really believed anything I’ve ever said or even suggested for the ranch. What he said to me that day, what he called me, told me just how he really felt about having a half-breed for a son. Being a gunfighter didn’t help.” Johnny said.
“ He knew who you were when you came home didn’t he?” she asked.
“ Yes, but almost every day we would argue bout something. He was never that way with Scott.” he explained.
“ Is Scott your brother?”
“ Half brother. His mother, Catherine was Murdoch’s first wife. She died giving birth to Scott. He grew up in Boston, raised by his grandfather. A couple years later the old man met my mother down in Matamoros. She got………..they married and he woke one morning to find her gone, me along with her. She left in the middle of the night with some gambler when I was two.” he explained.
“ Your mother, what did she have to say about all this?” she asked.
“ She died when I was ten when we lived in Mexico. I was put in an orphanage, but after two years of abuse from the priest and other kids, I ran away.”
“ A priest abused you? Is that how you got those scars on your body?”
“ Some. Some I got when I was in a Mexican prison. I was next in line to be executed when a Pinkerton agent rode up in a wagon and bought my freedom. He said he worked for my old man, and had been looking for me for a long time. I changed my name, so it took him longer to find me. My mother never told me what my real name was, so I started going by Madrid.” he explained.
“ If you don’t mind my asking, what is your christian name?”
“ Johnny Lancer.” Johnny said as Henry walked into the house.
“ Lancer, I’ve heard that name before………I know. There was a Pinkerton man some years back in town asking around about someone named Johnny Lancer. Said he was the son of Murdoch Lancer, and went missing when he was a baby.” Henry said. “ Why you talking about him for?”
“ Henry, Johnny is the one he was looking for that day.” Ruth said.
“ Henry Bennett, come out here. I want to talk to you.” a voice yelled from outside.
Henry walked over to the door. “ Might early for you to be visiting folks Boyd.” he said as he walked out onto the porch. “ I was about to sit down and eat breakfast, so make it fast.”
“ I want to know why you brought a hired gun like Madrid here?” Boyd demanded.
Johnny strapped on his colt, and walked out onto the porch. “ He didn’t bring me here. I was just riding thru when I came upon those two curs of yours harassing Henry and his wife. I wouldn’t be here now, except they found the need to ambush me, and shot me in the back.” Johnny said.
“ You got no business here Madrid. Ride on now while you still can.” Boyd ordered.
“ You know, I like the Bennett’s, they’re real good folks. I think I’m gonna stay around. Maybe spend the winter.” Johnny said. “ You can draw that colt of yours, but your boss will be the first one I kill.”
“ Carl, Seth, not now.” Boyd ordered. “ Henry, I’ll give you two dollars an acre, and a hundred dollars for those mangy cows you got.”
“ Two dollars an acre. I paid five an acre, and there wasn’t nothing here. I built this place up with my own two hands. I’m not about to sell it. And those cows you call mangy are purebred Herefords. Why they are worth three times that amount each and you know it.” Henry said with anger.
“ You’re a fool Henry Bennett. Try selling your cows in the spring when taxes and your other bills come due. I’ll get this property one way or another.” Boyd said before turning his horse, and galloping off.
Carl stared hard at Johnny. “ I’ll see you again Madrid.”
“ Look forward to it. I owe you two a bullet, and I always pay my debts.” Johnny said as the two turned their horses and rode off.
“ You know for a fact it was those two who ambushed you?” Henry asked.
“ It was them. I heard them before I passed out.” Johnny said. “ Seth wanted to come down to me and pick my pockets, but Carl told him no.”
“ You should tell the sheriff. He’s a real good man. Fact is, he’s been looking for a way to stop Boyd from harassing us smaller ranchers.” Henry said.
“ Who is your sheriff?” Johnny asked.
“ Jake Sanders. Been our sheriff for five years now.” Henry said.
“ You two come inside and eat breakfast.” Ruth ordered.
Val rode out of Los Angeles, headed south toward Yuma. He’d heard about a gunfight in Los Angeles a couple weeks before involving Johnny Madrid, and his heart broke when he heard Madrid had left Los Angeles wounded. For three years the two of them rode together, hiring out to range wars together. Madrid near death when he found him with two slugs in his body from a disgruntled employer. How the kid even survived was something Val never understood as he tended to the boy. Any other man would have died. Seeing the horrible scars the boy had on his chest, and back from being beaten, made him sick with disgust that someone could beat a child that bad. In those three years they rode together, he taught everything he could to Madrid, especially the one edge he would have over every man who called him out.
“Whenever someone is about to do something, a split second before, their pupils will get larger. When that happens, that’s when you draw your gun and shoot the scoundrel down.” Val said. “ You do it, I do it. Heck, everyone does it. It’s just something your body does that you can’t stop. Now, step back like we’re facing off, and I’ll show you what I mean. But don’t go shooting me.”
Johnny stepped back and waited.
“ Now watch my eyes kid.” Val said as he went for his gun, but stopped just short of clearing leather. “ Did you see it?” he asked.
“ Sure did. Who taught you about that?” Johnny asked.
“ Nobody, it’s just something I picked up on over the years.” Val responded. “ You remember that every time you get called out, and you will beat them by half a second at least.”
“ Thanks. Hey how come you’re sharing that with me?” Johnny asked.
“ Because I likes ya. Just be thankful and leave it at that.” Val said gruffly. “ Now, let me see that damn gun of yours.”
Johnny hesitantly pulled out his colt, and started to hand it to Val. “ Why you want my gun?” Johnny asked.
“ Because I want to sleep with the damn thing.” Val snickered. “ Give the damn thing here. I want to help you with your draw.”
Johnny handed him the pistol.
“ Get me my saddlebags.” Val said as he emptied the colt.
Johnny handed him his saddlebags and sat down next to him so he could see what Val was going to do.
“ I’ll cut away about two inches from that holster, so it will allow you to clear leather faster by not having to bring it up so far.” Val said as he took out a small file, and started filing on the hammer. “ I suggest you practice fanning the hammer whenever you can. Wear a glove so you don’t damage your palm. It’s also a good idea to learn to shoot left handed.”
“ Left handed, why?” Johnny asked as he removed his holster, and started cutting away some leather like Val said.
“ Might come in handy some day. Most men will shoot you in the arm or shoulder of your gun hand. If you learn to shoot left handed……”
“ I can still fight.” Johnny cut in. “ So what’s filing the hammer gonna do?”
“ Make it shoot faster. Now, you take real good care of this now custom made colt, and it will take good care of you.” Val instructed. “ But let me tell ya something boy, always stay on the side of the law. A gunfighter lives by a code of honor so to speak. Most people look down on us, call us killers, and such. Hell some are. Some have crossed that fine line. That’s why they have a wanted poster. There’s a huge difference between those men and us. Do you know what that difference is?”
“ Killing in self defense instead of cold-blooded murder.” Johnny responded.
“ That’s right. If you get as good as I think you will Madrid, men will come after you wanting your reputation, and the only way they can get it is to call you out. The sensible thing to do is try and talk them out of it. Tell them your reputation ain’t worth them dying over. Do whatever you can, to get out of dancing with them. And kid……never turn your back on them. There’s men out there who would just love to take someone better than them out with a bullet to the back.” Val explained.
“ I’ll remember what you said Val.” Johnny said. “ Does this make us amigos?”
“ Yeah, I guess it does. Now go sack in so we can get an early start in the morning.” Val ordered as he handed the pistol back to Johnny.
“ Hey Val, when I hire out to a rancher in a range war, how do I find out which one is in the right?” Johnny asked as he went over to his bedroll and lay down.
“ Ask around. Especially if there’s law in a nearby town.” Val said. “ Now stop pestering me and go to sleep you damn annoying snot nosed kid.”
( end flashback )
“ Seems like it was just yesterday I met you kid instead of eight years ago. Maybe someday we can be amigos again.” Val said with sadness as he rode southeast toward Yuma.
Scott woke up and stretched. It had been a long time since he’d slept in a bed as soft as this one. The sheets crisp and fresh. The whole room reminded him of back in Boston. All the fine Victorian style furniture. The heavy curtains to help keep out the light from the day, or the burning lanterns on the street at night. The tub he took his bath in was bigger than any he had ever bathed in before. Deep, and the water just the right temperature to take away all his aches and pains from riding, and sleeping on a cold hard ground.
He actually found it humorous that he would complain about such conditions, when in the army, he had no luxury really until he made Lieutenant under General Phil Sheridan’s command. Walking over to the window, he looked out and seen it was still raining. A glare of ice could be seen on the roof across the street.
“ I don’t know where you are little brother, or if you are even still alive, but if you are, I hope you are someplace warm.” he said softly as he turned and went back over to the bed, and crawled in for a couple more hours of sleep.
Waking just past eleven, Scott stretched, got up, got dressed, and headed downstairs to eat a hot meal.
“ Damn freezing rain.” a man cursed as he came into the hotel, and removed his rain slicker. “ Hot coffee Sally, and plenty of it.”
Scott noticed the badge on the mans shirt when he walked up to his table.
“ You must be that fella Percy told me about. The one who came down the Mormon Honeymoon trail yesterday.”
“ Good morning sheriff. Care to join me?” Scott asked.
“ Thank you. Manners like yours, you clearly are not from these parts.” the sheriff said. “ Sheriff Jake Sanders, and you are?”
“ Scott Garrett sheriff.” Scott said as he offered his hand to shake.
“ So…….what brings man like you to Prescott Mister Garrett?” the sheriff asked as Sally brought him his coffee. “ Thanks. I’ll have my usual please.”
“ Nothing particular sheriff. I was told up in Cedar City, Utah, that that trail was good to bring me down here.” Scott said.
“ I see, and why are you here?” he asked.
“ I’m looking for a friend who might be down south.” Scott said. “ He likes to stay down there in the winter.”
“ Smart man. This friend of yours got a name?” the sheriff asked.
“ Have I done something wrong sheriff ? Because it seems to me, you’re pretty interested in my personal business.” Scott asked.
“ Oh pay him no mind Hun. Jake’s that way with all the strangers who come in town. He likes to know if you are riffraff like those on Whiskey Row, or a good person to have in town.” Sally said as she brought his breakfast.
“ Thank you. I assure you sheriff, I have no intention of visiting that area of town.” Scott said.
“ Good. Then in that case, welcome to Prescott, I hope you find our town likable.” the sheriff said as he stood up. “ I’ll leave you to your food. Enjoy.”
Scott smiled to keep from laughing as the sheriff walked over to another table and sat down.
“ I’ve been giving it considerable thought young lady. How much can you pay me if I agree to kill this guy?” Buck asked.
“ I don’t have a lot of money. How much do you want?” Teresa said and asked.
“ We’ll be in Tucson, tomorrow. I’ll acquire us a couple horses and we can start there looking for him.” Buck responded. “ You do know how to ride a horse I hope.”
“ Certainly I know how to ride. I grew up on a ranch.” Teresa said.
“ Of course. Forgive me.” Buck said as he smiled inside. He knew that tomorrow night, the young lady sitting across from him would keep him nice and warm.
Teresa seen the slight glint in his eyes as he looked at her. He had the same glint she seen in Johnny’s eyes that day next to the stream when he came real close to making her a woman. Something she still wished he had done.
“ Can I ask when the young lady’s birthday is, and how old she will be?” Buck asked.
“ December first. I will be twenty one.” Teresa responded.
“ Almost twenty one and single. You will make some man very happy as his wife some day.” he said.
“ Casa Blanca station folks. Gotta change out the teams.” the driver said as he opened the door. “ It’s not much, but the food is hot. You’ll have some time to stretch your legs and grab a bit to eat. I have to fix a bad wheel.”
Teresa climbed out of the stagecoach and welcomed the feel of being able to stand up as the blood started circulating in her legs.
“ Maybe you should walk around some to get the blood flowing in your legs again?” Buck suggested.
“ Thank you, I think I will.” she said as she looked around.
“ There’s a stream over there miss, if you’d like to wet your feet.” the driver said as he unhitched the lead team. “ Paul, got a wheel I need to work on, so don’t be in a hurry to hitch up the replacement teams yet.”
“ Alright, I’ll get the grease and stuff from the barn.” the station operator said.
Teresa walked over to the stream, followed by Buck. Seeing the cool,clear water brought back memories of that day with Johnny. She could feel his lips on hers as his hands brought her pleasure. Closing her eyes as she relived the moment, like it just happened.
“ Are you alright?” Buck asked.
Teresa opened her eyes again, and found Buck standing in front of her. Unable to speak as she remembered the feeling Johnny gave her. Buck took advantage of the moment and brought his lips to hers.
“ Mister Smith, let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Our relationship from here on out is purely business and nothing more. I have no intentions of sleeping with you.” Teresa said firmly.
“ My mistake. I apologize.” Buck responded.
Three days later in an abandoned mine shaft, Teresa woke up to find Buck saddling his horse. “ Where are you going?” she asked.
“ In to town. I thought I would take a look around and see if anyone knows where he’s at?” Buck responded.
“ Let me come with you.” she said as she got up and went to saddle her horse.
“ Nope. He knows what you look like. He sees you it could ruin everything.” Buck said as he mounted up. “ Stay here and have something cooked to eat when I get back.” he ordered before riding off.
Scott rode out of Parker a month later headed south to Wickenburg. A rider coming thru town said Johnny Madrid was there, and stirring up trouble for a cattle baron. “ Little brother, I hope you are still there when I get there.” he said as he galloped south. He couldn’t believe all this time Johnny was only a hundred miles from him. So near, yet so far.
Johnny rode into Wickenburg a week later, and seen a crown gathered outside the sheriffs office. Dismounting , he walked over to see what was happening.
“ Will you folks go on about your business. The army at Fort Whipple is handling it. Whoever is responsible for the massacre will be found and brought to justice.” the sheriff said. “ Now go on, and let me do my job.”
Johnny leaned against a post as the crowd slowly dispersed.
“ As I live and breath. How the hell are ya kid?” Sheriff Jake Sanders asked as he walked over and extended his hand.
Johnny shook the mans hand. “ I’m good. You still making that stuff you call coffee?”
“ Just made a fresh pot. Come on in the office.” Jake said.” Val’s not with ya I see. How’s he doing?” he asked as they walked into the office.
“ He’s the sheriff of Green River. Been there four years now.” Johnny responded.
“ Sit down kid. Man, the three of us had us some times didn’t we?” Jake asked as he poured two cups of coffee.
“ Yeah, we sure did.” Johnny said. “ What was that all about out there?”
“ Oh two days ago the stage left here and an hour later five of the victims and driver were found dead. Two people survived the attack. The survivors, a Mollie Sheppard, and an army paymaster named William Kruger, said they ran down a wash to get away from the attack, and waited until they were found. General Crook, at Fort Whipple sent an officer to investigate the massacre.” Jake explained.
“ How much money was it carrying?” Johnny asked.
‘ Reports say a hundred thousand dollars. Course the army is denying that. Personally I think the paymaster and woman were involved in it.” Jake said as he sat down at his desk.
“ How ya figure?” Johnny asked as he took a sip of the coffee. “ You ever gonna learn how to make coffee Jake?”
“ There’s nothing wrong with my coffee. It will put hair on your chest.” Jake said.
“ I don’t need any more hair on my chest.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Two reasons. First,those two said they ran down a wash to get away. Have you ever known Indians to just let someone escape that easy? Second, neither one of them had wounds bad enough to kill them. Everyone else was dead. Hell they even scalped one of the passengers. I think those two did it, and buried the loot somewhere in that wash, and plan on coming back for it when they figure it’s safe to do so.” Jake explained as he put his feet up on his desk. “ Anyhow, it’s not my concern. It’s the army’s problem.”
“ What can you tell me about Tom Boyd?” Johnny asked.
“He hire ya kid?” he asked.
“ No. Two of his hands ambushed me a short time back. I’ve been at the Bennett ranch healing up.” Johnny responded.
“ That sounds like something Carl Deegan, and Seth Watson would do. Those two have been nothing but trouble since he hired them. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t Carl who shot you. That’s about his style.” Jake said.
“Why he want their ranch so bad?” Johnny asked.
“ Hell Boyd wants this whole area for his cattle. He don’t like the smaller ranchers and farmers being here. You know how it is. He’s no different than those rich Dons we fought against in Mexico.” Jake said as his door opened and Buck Smith walked in.
“ Buck, what brings you to Wickenburg?” Jake asked.
“ Purely business sheriff. I just thought I would stop by and say hi.” Buck said as he looked at Johnny. “ You’re Johnny Madrid.”
“ I haven’t seen you for a few years, you find yourself a wife to keep you warm at night?” Jake asked.
“ No wife yet, but I got me a sweet little lady does me right fine.” Buck responded.
“ I’ll see you tomorrow Jake.” Johnny said as he walked to the door, and opened it.
“ Alright Johnny. Tell Ruth and Henry I said howdy.” Jake said as Johnny walked out, and closed the door.
“ So that’s the infamous gunfighter Johnny Madrid huh? He don;t look like much to me.” Buck said.
“ He may not look like much to you, but he’ll cut you down before you can touch leather.” Jake said.
Jake galloped back to the mine and dismounted two hours later. “ He’s there. He came out of the sheriffs office and rode out of town. Seems he’s staying at a ranch called the Double B.”
“ You’re sure it was Madrid you seen?” Teresa asked.
“ I’m sure. I talked to him in the sheriffs office.” Jake responded. “ I’ll kill him tomorrow when he comes back in town. But for now, I’m going to take payment for my troubles.” he said as he grabbed Teresa and yanked her to him.
“ Let go of me, you bastard.” Teresa ordered.
Jake slapped her hard across the face before shoving her down on her bedroll. “ Fight me all you want little lady. Hell I like a woman who fights me.” he said as he dropped down and pinned her to the ground.
Johnny walked out of the bank and smiled as he stepped down to Barranca and put the paper in his saddlebag. He had just paid off the loan Henry had to take out against his ranch last year because of his broken leg. He figured it was the least he could do for the Bennett’s since they saved his life. The mercantile and a couple other places they owed money, he paid off in full also.
“ Johnny Madrid!” he heard called out as he prepared to mount up and leave. “ Damn.” he said as he stepped away from Barranca and seen it was the man he briefly met yesterday in Jake’s office.
“ I don’t know you mister. I don’t want this.” Johnny said.
“ You may not want it, but I do. You see, that little lady I said I had yesterday, well…….she’s paid me to kill you. It would seem you dishonored her back in California.” Buck said.
“ Teresa.” Johnny said softly as Jake came out of his office.
“ Buck, what the hell are you doing?” Jake demanded. “ You’re no match for Madrid, he’ll kill you.”
“ I’ve been hired, and paid to kill this bastard Jake. Ask him what he did to an innocent girl back in California. How he cost her everything she had because he forced himself on her when they were coming back from her seeing a friend. Tell me something Madrid, did it excite you to do what you did to her?” Buck asked.
“ Buck, I’m asking you as your friend, walk away. Don;t do this, Johnny will kill you.” Jake pleaded.
“ Nope. I was hired to do a job, and I intend on doing that job.” Buck responded.
“ What she told you is a lie. Turn around, and walk away.” Johnny said. “ She will only get you killed.”
“ Can’t. Come to far to turn around and walk away now Madrid.” Buck responded.
Johnny seen the sign he waited for, drew, and fanned his colt, hitting Buck square in the heart before the man’s hand ever touched his gun.
Jake walked over to Johnny.“ Are you alright?” he asked.
“ I need to get out to the ranch.” Johnny said before turning and walking to Barranca, mounting up, and riding away.
Teresa rode up to the side of the house at the Double B ranch and dismounted. Walking around to the front as an older woman walked outside with a basket of wash to hang.
“ Oh, you startled me young lady.” Ruth said. “ Can I help you with something?”
Teresa pulled the pistol she had, “ Go back inside. We’re going to wait for Johnny.” she ordered.
“ What, Johnny……..what do you want with him?” Ruth asked as she set her wash down, and went back inside.
“ I’m going to kill him for what he did to me.” Teresa said coldly. “ Sit down, don’t do anything stupid, and I won’t hurt you.”
“ I know who you are, you’re that young lady Johnny told me about. The one from California, that cost him his family.” Ruth said.
“ So he told you all about that day did he?” Teresa asked as she watched out the window.
“ Are you going to say Johnny gave you those bruises on your face too?” Ruth asked.
“ He’s partly to blame for them.” Teresa said as she watched Johnny riding up to the house. ‘ Stand up, and walk outside.” she ordered.
Ruth did as she was told. “ I’m sorry Johnny.” she said when he rode up.
“ Hello Johnny.” Teresa said as she brought the pistol up next to Ruth’s head
“ Teresa……….what do you want?” he demanded. “ Let her go.”
“ Relax, I have no intention of hurting her. She is however going to tie your hands behind your back for me. So you just rein Barranca over here so she can.” Teresa ordered.
Johnny reined Barranca to stand parallel to the porch. “ Just do whatever she wants okay.” he said.
Ruth took the small piece of rope Teresa handed her, and tied his hands behind his back.
Teresa grabbed the reins and tied Barranca to the rail. “ Don’t need you trying to get away while I tie her up, and get my horse.” she said as she forced Ruth inside, and tied her up in a chair.
“ Why you doing this?” Johnny asked.
“ Isn’t it obvious.” she said when she walked back outside. “ I want you to finish what you started with me that day at the stream Johnny. I want you to make me a woman. I don’t consider what Buck did to me last night making that happen. He was such a pig, grunting and slobbering all over me.” Teresa said. “ Now you, I know it will be real when we make love Johnny. I’ve done nothing but think about that day at the stream. I could see it in your eyes that you wanted to do more. You were just confused is all. There will be nobody to stop us from consummating our love for each other. I’ve thought about nothing else all the way from St. Louis.” she said as she brought her horse around, untied Barranca, and mounted up. “ Where I’m taking you, nobody will find us ever Johnny. Tonight you get to have me, all of me. Willing or not.” she said as she led Barranca away.
Scott rode into Wickenburg and stopped at the sheriffs office, dismounting just as the man walked out. “ Sheriff, can I have a word with you?” he asked as he tied his horse to the rail.
“ Whatever it is, it will have to wait…………Henry, you need to go home and stay with Ruth just in case Johnny does get away and come back.” Jake ordered.
“ Sheriff, this man you mentioned, is his name Johnny Madrid?” Scott asked.
“ Yes it is. Now why don’t you tell me who the hell you are.” Jake demanded.
“ My name is Scott Garrett, I’m Johnny’s brother.” Scott responded.
“ Scott Garrett.” Henry said. “ Are you……….”
“ Hold on Henry. How do we know you’re not after Madrid to kill him?”
“ I assure you sheriff, I have no intention of killing my brother.” Scott said. “ You sir, my brother obviously talked about me. My full birth name is Scott Garrett Lancer.”
“ He’s telling the truth sheriff. That’s the name Johnny told my Ruth.” Henry said.
“ Johnny was involved in a gunfight yesterday. When he rode back to the ranch, a young lady named Teresa took him at gunpoint. Where they are now, we don’t know. The tracks led south from the ranch to a wash where we lost them.” Jake said as he mounted up. “ We’re headed back out there to look for signs.
( WARNING: The following does contain strong language, and the suggestion of interaction between Johnny and Teresa some might find disturbing. It will also have what some might consider torture from Teresa, when she deliberately cuts Johnny. I will mark the ending of it with ( END WARNING ) for those who wish to skip this section totally.)
Johnny opened his eyes, and blinked several times. Raising his head, he looked around, and could see the flames of a fire dancing off the wall of what appeared to be a cave or mine shaft. A bandanna was tied around his mouth. Water trickled somewhere near him as a cricket chirped in the darkness. Trying to move his arms, he found them securely bound behind the post he was sitting up against. Bending his legs to try and ease the cramps and soreness in his muscles as he listened for any sign of movement.
“ I was wondering when you would wake up.” Teresa said as she walked from the darkness into the light of the fire. “ I didn’t think I hit you that hard.” she said as she poured some water in a cup and came over to him. “ I’ll remove the bandanna so you can drink.” she said as she set the cup down, and untied the bandanna. “ Of course, nobody will find us in this old mine shaft. I covered our tracks real good thanks to you showing me how to do that once at Lancer.”
Taking a sip, and then swirling it around in his mouth before spitting it out to get rid of the dust taste. Welcoming the coolness of the water down his parched throat.
“ There, now we can talk.” Teresa said as she walked over to the fire and stirred whatever was in the pot.
“ Why are you doing this to me Teresa?” Johnny asked.
“ I told you, we have to finish what you started that day by the stream. I know you wanted to do more to me, I could see it in your eyes. You were just afraid to is all.” Teresa said. “ I’ll make you a good wife, and mother of our children Johnny.”
“ I don’t love you. I will never marry you!” Johnny spat. “ Let me go now!”
Teresa stood up, and walked over to Johnny. “ I went to considerable trouble to make it back to you. If I hadn’t have seen that newspaper article about you in a gunfight in Los Angeles, I never would have found you.” she said as she knelt down next to him.
“ You will, you’ll see. Once we are in Mexico, and married, you will love me once we can consummate our relationship.” Teresa said as she reached down and caressed him.
“ Teresa, don’t do this. I don’t love you. I don’t want to make love to you.” he pleaded.
“ You know, Buck taught me something. He taught me that when I was begging him to stop, that first time because he was being so rough, I learned it excited him even more. He taught me that pain is good when making love.” Teresa said.
“ You crazy bitch! It will be a cold day in hell before I love you.” Johnny spat.
Teresa stopped what she was doing, stood up and walked over to the fire, picking up the knife she used to skin the rabbit. The knife she pulled from the inside of his left boot. “ You recognize this Johnny?” she asked as she walked back over to him.
Johnny looked at the knife he carried in his boot, the fire glistening off the blade.
Teresa knelt down next to him, and placed the knife against his throat. “ Don’t you ever call me a bitch again.” she said before she brought the knife down savagely across his chest.
Johnny couldn’t stop the scream of pain from escaping his lips as Teresa, slowly, and deliberately cut across his chest. The coppery smell of blood filling his nose. “ You fucking bitch. I swear to god I’m going to kill you for this!” Johnny spat.
Teresa grabbed a hand full of hair and jerked his head back. “ Consummating our love will be wonderful Johnny, you can’t stop it.” she said with evil in her eyes.
( END WARNING )
“ It’s like they just disappeared into thin air.” Sheriff Sanders said.
“ Nothing disappears sheriff. Johnny taught me that if you look hard enough, you will find signs.” Scott responded as he scoured the ground for any signs of them passing thru the area. “ We know they were headed southeast from the ranch. Teresa will want someplace close. What’s in that direction she could hide?”
“ There’s a couple old mine shafts, but she wouldn’t be foolish enough to go inside would she?” Henry asked.
“ I’m afraid she would Mister Bennett.” Scott said as he mounted up.
“ One I know the entrance too collapsed last spring from the rains. The other is at the base of that mountain in the distance. It goes back about a mile. She could have removed the boards to gain access. A person could live in that one, have a fire and everything , and nobody would know they were there if they knew how to build a fire just right.” Henry explained.
“ Isn’t that the one that played out on silver after a couple years?” Jake asked.
“ Sure is. It’s stable enough, she could have Johnny there.” Henry responded.
“ That’s at least twenty miles from us. The sun will be setting soon. We better get as close as we can tonight, and move in in the morning.” Scott suggested as they headed toward the mountain.
Johnny woke up and could see Teresa sound asleep on the blanket by the fire. Moving his arms around as best he could to try and stop the cramps, he noticed the knife laying inches from his hands. After some painful stretching of his arms, he managed to get the knife, and cut his hands free. Seeing his pistol laying near the fire, he stood up, and slowly started toward it.
“ You really are a fool Johnny.” Teresa said from the darkness behind him. The unmistakable sound of a hammer being pulled back could be heard in the silence of the shaft. “ I left that knife there, knowing you would go for it.” she said as she walked around to stand in front of him.
Johnny lunged for the pistol in her hand, grabbing her wrist as the gun went off. “ You bitch.” he said as he dropped to his knees, holding his left side.
Teresa cocked the pistol. “ I told you to not call me a bitch.” she said before she pulled the trigger, hitting Johnny in his upper right thigh.
“ It could have been so good between us.” she said as she cocked the pistol again and aimed at his chest.
“ Teresa………drop it……drop it now!” Scott yelled from behind her.
“ I can’t do that Scott. Johnny has to die for what he did to me. I lost everything because of him. My home, my friends, my fiance, everything….. He has to pay.” She said.
“ Drop it now, or so help me I will kill you.” Scott ordered.
Teresa turned around and looked at Scott standing at the entrance, a rifle aimed right at her.“ Scott, you wouldn’t shoot me.” she said as she started to turn back toward Johnny.
Scott fired a round at her feet, stopping her dead in her tracks. “ I wouldn’t bet on that.”
“ Scott, it’s me………..Teresa, your little sister.” she said.
“ You……..are not my little sister.” Scott said as he walked over, and took the pistol from her hand. “ You never were.”
Sheriff Sanders took Teresa, and placed wrist irons on her, “ Normally I wouldn’t do this to a lady, but from what Scott has told me about you, you are no lady. Now you sit your butt down right there, and don’t you move.”
Scott went to his brother’s side.“ It’s me Johnny. Stay still. You have a doctor in town?” he asked.
“ Yeah, Doc Murphy. My ranch is closer. We can take him there, and Ruth will tend to him until doc can get there.” Henry said.
“ Let that sonofabitch die.” Teresa spat. “ I got what I wanted from him last night.”
Scott stood up, anger clearly visible on his face. Walking over to Teresa, he grabbed her right arm, jerked her up, and slapped her hard across the face. “ You should have stayed in that school in St Louis, because now you will be going to prison for kidnapping , and attempted murder.”
“ Attempted murder of what, a half-breed bastard. No judge will convict me of trying to kill Johnny Madrid.” Teresa spat.
“ I wouldn’t be so sure of that little lady.” the sheriff said. “ Judge Colson don’t much like people who break the laws in his jurisdiction.”
“ They won’t keep me there once they learn I’m pregnant with his baby.” Teresa said as she glared at Johnny. “ We consummated our love for one another last night.”
Val rode into Wickenburg and stopped as the sheriff rode into town with Teresa, her hands behind her back.
“ Damn, as I live and breath.” Jake said as he reined his horse to stop. “ What the hell are you doing here Val?” he asked as he dismounted, and went to pull Teresa down.
“ What’d she do?” Val asked.
“ Kidnapping and attempted murder of Johnny.” Jake said as he jerked Teresa away from her horse. “ Inside little lady.” he ordered.
“ Johnny, he’s here?” Val asked.
“ Out at the Double B ranch. She cut him up pretty good with a knife last night, and shot him twice.” Jake said as he shoved Teresa inside a cell after removing her cuffs. “ You want anything other than bread and water little lady, you’ll keep a civil tongue.”
“ Will he live?” Val asked.
“ He will. As soon as my deputy gets here to stay with her, we can ride out there so you can see him.” Jake said as he closed, and locked the cell door.
Doc Murphy came out of the bedroom to three anxious faces. “ I take it you are his brother?” he asked
“ Yes sir.” Scott replied. “ How is he?”
“ He’ll live. Neither bullet were life threatening. He won’t be riding a horse until that thigh heals up. I’d like him to stay in bed, but from what Ruth said that will be a challenge.” Murphy responded.
“ It won’t if I sit on that boy doc.” Val said from the front door.
Scott smiled, and walked over to Val, shaking his hand. “ I’m not going to ask how you found us.”
“ Probably the same as you, from hearin people talkin bout him.” Val said. “ Jake, how the heck are ya?”
“ I’m good Val. Johnny said you were the sheriff of Green River.” Jake said.
“ I decided to quit. Never liked stayin in one place too long.” Val said.
“ Well, since this is Ruth’s home. It’s up to her who she allows to go in and see the boy. Come get me if ya need me Henry.” doc said as he walked out the door.
“ Your good doctors bedside manners leaves something to be desired.” Scott said.
“ Murphy’s been that way ever since I know’d him, and that’s going on twenty years.” Henry said.
“ Uh Scott, can I have a word with you outside?” Val asked.
“ Excuse me.” Scott said as he walked outside with Val.
“ Me and Ruth ain’t had this many people in our house in a long time.” Henry said.
“ Johnny’s not going to be pleased to see me Scott. It might be best if you don’t tell him I was here.” Val said.
“ That’s crazy Val. You and Johnny go back eight years.” Scott said.
“ Yeah, we do, but after what’s happened with…………well, I just don’t see him able to ever forgive me.” Val said.
“ When did you leave?” Scott asked.
“ Oh I don’t know, I guess about two weeks after. I tell ya, a dang female can sure mess with your head when she’s a mind ta do it.” he said.
“ Teresa is a very sick young lady. When I first met her, I never would have thought a few years later she would change like she has Val.” Scott said. “ Murdoch sent her to a school in St Louis, to help her finish he skills she would need to be a proper young lady.
“ Val, you gonna stick around a few days so we can catch up?” Jake asked.
“ I recon I’ll stay a day or two.” Val responded.
“ I’ll see ya.” Jake said as he rode off.
“ So she escaped from that school your old man sent her too, come all the way here, kidnapped Johnny, and what, tried to kill him?” Val asked.
“ Pretty much. She had just shot him in the leg when I got to the cave and stopped her. She did things to Johnny, Val that I don’t know if he can recover from inside.”Scott said.
“ Johnny’s a tough hombre. He’ survived torture before. Trust me, ain’t nothing she could do to him that would be worse than what those Mexicans did to him while he was in prison.” Val said.
“ I doubt that Val. She said she consummated her love for Johnny last night.” Scott said.
“ Oh lord, that is a problem. You do realize that if she is, they will take the baby from her and place it in n orphanage if the father doesn’t want it?” Val said.
“ I don’t think Johnny will, but it’s his call. Personally, I would like to take my brother as far away from her as possible. Some place he can start his life over, and not have to worry about her showing up ever again.” Scott said.
“ Well, I recon he’ll have twenty, to twenty five years to not have to worry about her showing up. That should be a long enough time for him to settle someplace, maybe change his name.” Val said. “ I remember once, Johnny talked about wanting to start a horse ranch up in Montana.” Val said.
“ You think maybe he would still want to do that?” Scott asked.
“ Won’t know until you ask him.” he said.
“ Will you come with us if he does?”
“ That’s a mighty fine offer Scott, but I don’t think Johnny will want me around. I’d be too much of a reminder of what happened.” Val responded.
“ I know you don’t believe that Val.” Scott said.
“ I’m not one to stay tied down in one place for too long.” Val said.
“ Is that why you stayed as sheriff of Green River for four years, and was all ready to get married?” Scott asked.
“ Now I understand why Johnny would get so irritated with you sometimes. You don’t know when to leave well enough alone.” Val snapped back.
“ Glad to see you awake brother.” Scott said as he walked into the room two days later.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he looked at the man standing behind Scott. “ What are you doing here?”
“ Thought I’d stop by and kick a scrawny kids butt I know.” Val said as he stepped into the room. “ Seems he likes to get shot up lately.”
“ Not by choice.” Johnny said. “ Wickenburg is a long ways from Green River.”
“ Yeah, I thought I would see how you were doin on my way to Laredo.” Val said.
“ What the hell you going to Laredo for?” Johnny asked.
“ Well I guess that would be my business now wouldn’t it.” Val responded gruffly.
“ Scott, would you leave us alone?” Johnny asked.
“ On the condition the two of you talk this out.” Scott said as he walked to the door. “ Both of you got things that need said, and you both need to listen to each other without getting angry.”
Johnny waited until Scott left the room. “ Why you really here Val?”
“ I told ya, I………….”
“ Stop it alright. Why’d you leave Green River? You had a good job, people liked you. Hell you got reappointed another year with a raise. Only a jackass would leave that.”
“ Then I’m a jackass. You know me, I ain’t one for staying in one place too long. Let them cattlemen find another sheriff.” Val snapped back. “ Besides, there’s memories there I’d just as soon forget about.”
“ Sometimes memories, good or bad are all we have left.” Johnny said.
“ You gotta let it go kid. Don’t let what she did eat at you. She’s not worth it.” Val said as he walked over and looked out the window.
“ I guess I was a jackass to think a woman like Teresa could love me, and be my wife. I was such a fool in love, I didn’t see that it was destroying a friendship I value more than my own life.
“ I don’t hold it against you Val. I never did. I guess I was shocked is all.” Johnny said. “ I should have told you what happened between us that day when I seen you were falling for her.”
“ What exactly did you do to her that day Johnny?” Val asked.
“ Why does it matter now?” he asked.
“ It don’t. I would just like to know if whatever it was that happened was worth what it cost you in the end?” Val asked.
Johnny sighed, and tried to sit up more. “ I didn’t plan on it happening. I begged her to stop.” Johnny said, and then told him what happened that day at the stream.
“ Well hell kid, that’s not dishonoring a woman doing that. So how come you didn’t make love to her? She had ta have had you more than willing?” Val asked.
“ I wanted too, trust me. When she……….I kept thinking about what the old man would do to me if he ever found out. I told her he would run me off Lancer. She said he would never find out what we did. Then you started coming to the ranch every Sunday to see her, and I guess I got jealous.” Johnny said.
“ Jealous, why?” Val asked.
“ Because the old man gave you permission to do what I wanted, but knew he would never allow.” Johnny responded harshly.
“ Did you bother asking him?” Val demanded.
“ No because I knew what he would say………….He………” Johnny turned away from Val, trying to get his emotions in check. A lone tear running down his cheek.
Val could tell his friend was hurting. “ Why don’t you just admit it kid? Admit what is really eating you up inside. It has nothing to do with that girl directly, but what happened the day you left. What your pappy said to you, don’t it?”
“ At least I don’t have to wonder anymore.” Johnny said.
“ I’m sorry kid. When he walked in sheriff’s office the day I was leaving, it took everything I had to not bust him in the mouth for what he said to you.” Val said. “ So what are your plans now?” he asked.
“ You remember me telling you how I wanted to have my own horse ranch up in Montana some day? Well I figured once I take care of some unfinished business here, I would take a ride up there, and start me one. Nobody has probably ever heard of Johnny Madrid that far north. Why don’t you come with me?” Johnny explained.
“ Montana huh. Gets mighty cold up there in the winter?” Val said.
“ So, we’ll have a stove, or big fireplace in the main house to stay warm with.” Johnny said.
“ What’s this talk about unfinished business you got?” he asked.
“ Carl and Seth, two hands who work for the Boyd ranch. They’re the ones who ambushed me, and shot me in the back.” Johnny responded. “ I also want to know the real reason Boyd wants this ranch so badly.”
“ Who’s he?” Val asked.
“ A rancher who’s land is next to the Bennett’s land. These guys only have two hundred acres.” Johnny explained.
“ Kid, maybe you shouldn’t get involved in this one? Maybe you should just ride away when you’re healed up?” Val suggested.
“ I won’t do that. I can’t.” Johnny said.
“ Okay you two, Johnny needs his rest.” Ruth said.
“ Yes ma’am. I’ll see ya around kid. Maybe I’ll take a ride up north sometime and visit ya.” Val said as he shook Johnny’s hand.
“ So that’s it, you’re just gonna ride away after eight years of friendship?” Johnny asked with a crack to his voice.
Val nodded to Ruth, and never said another word as he walked out. He couldn’t for fear his voice would fail him as he struggled to keep the tears at bay. He knew if he stayed he would only bring back memories his friend needed to forget. Memories that would haunt him like so many others he already had.
Ruth stood there looking at Johnny. She could see the hurt in his eyes. “ I’m sorry Johnny.” she said.
“ Could you get me my saddlebags?” Johnny asked Scott a week later.
“ They’re right here.” he said as he held them up.
“ I need Henry and Ruth to come in here. Would you get them Scott?” he askd as he took out the papers he had from what he had done in town for them.
Henry, and Ruth walked into the bedroom, Scott stood at the door with his arms crossed.
“ The reason I went to town when this mess started was to do this.” Johnny said as he handed the papers to Henry.
Henry looked at the papers. “ I don’t understand.” he said as he handed the papers to Ruth.
“ I paid off your bank debt, and what you owed around town. I figured it was the least I could do for you both to say thank you for saving my life.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny, this is a lot of money. I don’t know what to say.” Henry said.
Ruth, with tears in her eyes, looked at Johnny, then her husband. “ How about telling the boy thank you.”
“ Of course I’m going to thank him woman. What you think I am, an ungrateful.” Henry said in his own bickering way to his wife as he reached out and shook Johnny’s hand.
“ Now you don’t have to sell off those young cows you wanted to breed next year.” Johnny said.
Ruth went over and sat down on the bed next to Johnny, tears in her eyes. “ You have no idea what this means to us Johnny, thank you.” she said before giving him a kiss on the forehead.
“ You’re welcome. Now, get out of here so I can get some rest.” Johnny said.
Johnny and Scott had to stay through the winter because of the trial, so they helped Henry make his fences stronger. Johnny dug a trench around the chicken coop about three feet deep and lined it with rocks and chicken wire before filling it back in. He also fixed several bad spots on the barn, and house roofs, replaced rotting corral fencing. He showed Henry how to use kerosene oil on the post that goes in the ground to help stop it from rotting away, and keep the insects and other critters from eating on it.
Every day he had to sit in the courtroom and listen to what happened be told to complete strangers, angered him. The pure evil hatred Teresa spoke when she took the stand shocked everyone in the courtroom except him and his brother. Credible eye witness accounts of what Buck Smith said the day Johnny killed him, what Sheriff Jake Sanders, Henry, and Ruth Bennett, and Scott said,was more than enough to sentence Teresa.
The following week, the tumbleweed wagon with a U.S. Marshal and two deputies stopped in Wickenburg, and took Teresa. Johnny watched as she was forced into the back of the wood and steel bar wagon, pulled by four mules. She never seen him standing in the shadows as a lone tear slowly made it’s way down his cheek. Not for where she was going,as much as for missing the sweet innocent girl he met that day he stepped off the stage six years ago in Morro Coyo. A reporter from Phoenix covered the one week trial, making it front page news when Teresa was sentenced to serve ten years at the Indiana Reformatory Institute for women and girls.
Murdoch walked out of the house at the sound of an approaching buggy. “ Sam, it’s good to see you. Is this a lecture or social visit?”
“ Lecturing you is a lost cause Murdoch. Have you seen the newspapers lately?” Sam asked as he climbed down from the buggy.
“ No, I haven’t lately. Why?” Murdoch asked as they walked inside. “ Drink?”
“ No thank you, but you might want a stiff one after you read this.” Sam said as he handed him the Sacramento Bee newspaper. “ I suggest you sit down when you read that front page article.
Attempted Murder and kidnapping in Wickenburg
There was a bit of excitement in the town of Wickenburg last month with a surprising kidnapping of the infamous gunslinger from the Mexican border, Johnny Madrid. It would seem the kidnapper was a Miss Teresa O’Brian, who I have learned is alleged to be the ward of a Murdoch Lancer, of the San Joaquin valley in California. According to the charges that were brought against Miss O’Brian , the kidnapping of Mr Madrid at gun point happened at a ranch he was employed at here in Wickenburg. Also she was charged with holding Mr Madrid against his wishes as well as torturing him. I have learned that she was about to kill Mister Madrid, when a man named Scott Garrett, stopped her, but not before she had shot Madrid twice, and cut him several times on his upper torso. Though all the wounds were non life threatening, the time to heal is a slow one. For over a month, the young lady has been kept locked up in the Wickenburg jail with no special privileges.
For the past week I have attended the trial of the aforementioned. Today the jury reached a verdict, and found Miss O’Brian guilty. Judge Colson, gave the young lady a chance to speak before sentencing, at which time she only turned around and looked directly at the victim, and said she would not rest until he was dead. Judge Colson then told the young lady that she was a very disturbed individual, and a menace to society before sentencing her to twenty five years at the Indiana Reformatory Institute for women and girls. A prison that opened just last year. A U.S. Marshal will escort the young lady to the prison by train.
“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said as he set the paper down on his desk. He couldn’t believe what he just read. “ There has to be a mistake Sam. That couldn’t have been my Teresa, the little girl I raised.”
“ So once again, even with eye witness accounts, you still don’t want to believe she was capable of doing something like that, or what she did to your own son here.” Sam said.
“ I never said that Sam. I………I guess I’m having a hard time accepting Teresa did what she did. How she hurt Val and Scott, even Maria. Did I miss the signs Sam? Where there signs?” Murdoch responded.
“ Don’t you mean how she hurt Johnny?” Sam asked. “ Murdoch, you haven’t once accepted the fact that he’s the victim here. Both from what she did, and you.”
“ What I did?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes what you did. You threw that boy out of the only home he ever had. You threw him out there to be shot down in some street or on some lonely trail somewhere, when all he wanted to do was be your son, Scott’s brother, and live a life of peace on this damn ranch.” Sam responded. “ You know, I seem to recollect you telling that boy numerous times that he’s not responsible for his actions. Well mister high and mighty Murdoch Lancer, when are you going to start being responsible for your actions?” Sam demanded.
Murdoch just stood there, unable to respond. He knew what Sam said was the truth. He had said those words to his youngest several times.
“ Hey Madrid, I thought you were supposed to be tough?” Seth said.
“ Tough hell. He let some scrawny girl take him, shoot him, and torture him. Your reputation ain’t what it used to be Madrid.” Carl added.
“ That will be enough of that you two.” Sheriff Sanders ordered.
“ We got a right to talk sheriff.” Seth said.
“ Yes you do, but you don’t have a right to go trying to cause trouble. Now take those supplies and git.” Jake ordered.
Johnny stepped in front of Carl. “ Beware of the pale horse.” he said softly.
“ Git on out of here you two.” Jake said as he walked up to Johnny.
“ This ain’t over yet boy.” Carl said as they walked outside.
“ What did you say to him Johnny?” Jake asked.
“ Told him to beware of the pale horse.” Johnny responded.
“ Damn it Johnny. Are you trying to goad him into a fight?” Jake demanded.
“ Maybe I am.” Johnny said flatly.
“ Look, you’re my friend, we rode together. Don’t think our friendship will keep me from stopping you from starting trouble. You’ll get the same damn treatment anyone else who crosses the line in this town gets.” Jake said as he stepped closer. “ And don’t think being Johnny Madrid is going to intimidate me, because it don’t.”
“ You always were a hard-ass Jake.” Johnny said. “ You to stuck on that damn badge to let me buy you a beer?”
“ No. I was wondering when you were going to offer.” Jake said as he slapped Johnny on the back. “ Listen, I think I might have figured out why Boyd wants Bennett’s land so bad.”
“ Two beers.” Johnny said as they walked to a back corner table. “ Oh yeah?” he asked.
“ Yeah,” Jake said as a woman brought them their beers.
One of the women brought them their beers. Her dress opened to allow her breast to almost fall out when she bent over.“ Can I kidnap you Madrid?” she asked softly in his left ear. “ I promise it would be fun.”
Johnny took out two dimes and paid her. “ I doubt it.” he said. Ever since the trial, and what the newspaper reporter wrote, the women of Wickenburg have either made snide comments or suggestions he was getting really tired of hearing. All he wanted to do was put it behind him, and get on with his life.
“ You still with me?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah, So what’d you find out?” Johnny asked.
Jake leaned closer to Johnny. “ The Bennett’s are sitting on a gold mine, literally Johnny. Old man Perez was in town the other day, and I seen him come out of the assayers office. He hit a vein that stretches to the Bennett’s place. How far, he don’t know.”
“ Does Henry and Ruth know about this?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah. Henry knows that’s why Boyd wants his land. So he can mine it.” Jake responded. “ Only thing I can’t figure out is why Boyd hasn’t bought the land behind Henry.”
“ Maybe he figures if he doesn’t show an interest in it, Henry won’t either.” Johnny suggested. “ I know from experience, he doesn’t have to do any mining if he files a claim on his property. Once it’s in his name, and filed, Boyd can do nothing.”
“ You gonna have him come in town and do that?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah, I think I will.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Well, thanks for the beer kid. So when you and Scott taking off for Montana?” Jake asked as they walked outside.
“ End of the month I recon.” Johnny said as he untied Barranca.
“ Johnny, do me a favor and try and not get into a fight with Carl?” Jake asked.
“ The man shot me in the back Jake. I can’t let that go. You know I always pay my debts.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.
“ Listen, if it comes down to the two of you facing off, make sure you’re not the one who starts it.” Jake ordered.
“ Why, you gonna arrest me for gun fighting? It’s not against the law Jake.” Johnny asked.
“ Don’t do it Johnny. I’ll arrest you if you do.” the sheriff responded.
Johnny and Scott explained everything to Henry and Ruth about filing a claim on their land. Scott explained to them that even though they owned the land, they didn’t own what was beneath the ground. Filing the claim would protect them from anyone else filing against them and coming in, claiming imminent domain if Perez decided he wanted to sell out.
The following morning after all the stock was checked, and fed, Scott and Johnny rode into Wickenburg with the Bennett’s to the assayers office, and filed the claim. Next they headed over to the bank to have the deed changed to include the claim.
“ Well, how does it feel knowing your ranch has all that gold underneath the ground?” Scott asked.
“ It is nice to know now why Boyd wanted our land so badly.” Henry said.
“Johnny, won’t us doing this anger him?” Ruth asked.
“ It will, but there’s nothing he can do about it.” Johnny said. “ He gambled that you wouldn’t find out about the gold, and lost.”
“ How long has he been after you to sell to him?” Scott asked.
“ Oh, I guess he started last year when I had my broken leg. Why?” Henry responded.
“ That’s about the same time Perez found gold, and filed his claim.”Johnny said.
“ How about you two let us buy you lunch?” Scott suggested.
“ I’m sorry Mister Boyd, but Henry Bennett filed a claim on his land about an hour ago. He knows about the gold.” the assayer said.
“ How the hell did he find out?” Tom Boyd demanded.
“ Madrid found out from Perez yesterday. I seen them talking.” he said.
“ I’ll kill that sonofabitch.” Carl said.
“ Where’s Madrid now?” Boyd asked.
“ They’re at the cafe eating lunch.” the assayer said. “ What you going to do Mister Boyd?”
“ I’m going to go over to the cafe and make him a final offer to sell. He refuses, then I’ll let my boys deal with Madrid.” Boyd said before walking out.
“ Johnny.” Scott said as he noticed Boyd walk in with Seth and Carl.
“ Henry, I want to give you one last chance to sell. I’ll even add five hundred dollars.” Boyd said.
“ As my Henry has told you before, our land isn’t for sale Mister Boyd.” Ruth said.
“ Woman, you shut your mouth. This here is between me and your husband.” Boyd ordered.
Johnny leaned back in his chair., his right hand on his thigh as he watched Carl and Seth.
“ You got no call to talk to my wife like that.” Henry ordered.
“ Then tell the old woman to keep quiet.” Carl ordered.
“ We know about why you want his land so bad.” Scott said.
“ You need to leave Boyd. You weren’t invited to lunch.” Johnny said coldly as he glared at the man.
“ You’re making a huge mistake Henry. I walk out that door, I make no promises of what happens from here on out.” Boyd said.
Johnny stood up.
“ Now see here, I don’t want no trouble in my cafe. Mister Boyd, you need to leave.” the owner ordered.
“ I’ll be waiting for you outside half-breed.” Carl said before turning to follow Boyd out of the cafe.
“ You knew this would happen didn’t you Johnny?” Henry asked.
“ I had my suspicions. Carl wants to dance, you stay out of it. He shot me in the back Scott, I owe him.” Johnny responded.
“ I am not going to allow you to go out there and face those three men Johnny.” Ruth said.
“ She’s right Johnny, Boyd could have more men waiting to ambush you.” Henry added.
“ I have the only person I trust with my life, Scott to watch my back.” Johnny said before heading to the door. “ Carl ain’t no gunfighter. Jake told me that’s why he shot me in the back. I don;t think Seth will stay around once I walk out there.”
“ He does look a little nervous.” Scott said.
“ You coming out or not Madrid?” Carl yelled.
“ Yeah. He talks the talk, but can’t walk the walk when it comes down to it. He don’t have the guts.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny please, don’t do this on our count.” Ruth pleaded.
“ It’s not because of you. Carl brought this on the minute he shot me in the back. Henry, you and Ruth stay in here.” Johnny responded as he walked out the door.
“ Come on out Madrid.” Carl said. “ You’ve been a thorn in Mister Boyd’s side ever since you showed up here.”
“ Maybe you shouldn’t have shot me in the back then.” Johnny said as he walked out in the street to face Carl, and Seth. “ How about you Mister Boyd, You wanna dance, or are you the cowardly type who likes to have others do your dirty work?”
Jake walked out of his office and seen Johnny facing Carl, and Seth. “ Damn it Johnny, don’t do this!” he ordered.
“ Unless you want to die with your half-breed friend Sheriff Sanders, I suggest you get away from him now.” Boyd ordered.
Jake turned and faced Boyd. “ Tom Boyd, you’ve been running roughshod over the good citizens of Wickenburg long enough. It ends now.” Jake said as he removed his badge, and tossed it to the ground out in front of him. “ You think you can take the two of us?”
“ Three.” Val said as he walked up to stand next to Johnny.
“ Looks even now. Three on three.” Jake said.
“ Mister Boyd, you said it would only be Madrid we would be going up against.” Seth said. “ You said the sheriff wouldn’t get involved, and you sure as hell said nothing about Val Crawford being here. I want no part of this. Madrid, I’m walking away.”
“ Seth, you always were weak when it came to fighting.” Carl said. “ Tell you what Madrid, why don’t you just tell those two to sit this one out? This is between me and you.”
“ You changed your style, and last name.” Johnny said. “ Stay out of this Jake…….Val.” he ordered.
Jake grabbed Johnny’s right arm. “ Who the hell is he Johnny?”
Johnny jerked his arm free. “ Stay out of it.” he ordered as he walked away from them to face Carl. “ I swore I would kill you if I ever got the chance.”
“ Well I guess now we’ll find out just who’s better. Course you always were the slow one.” Carl said. “ You can’t beat me Johnny. You never could.”
Scott walked up to Val , and Jake. “ He’s his step-brother.” he said. “ Johnny told me about him once.”
“ I’m not that scrawny little kid you used to beat, and kick around Carl.” Johnny said.
“ Tell me something Johnny, did she tell you it was me? Did that Mexican whore you had for a mother tell you I was the one who killed him?” Carl spat. “ That sonofabitch liked you more than he did me, his own flesh and blood.”
“ Is that why you killed him Carl, because he liked me more than he did you?” Johnny asked.
“ Everything was fine until you came along.” Carl spat. “ I killed him because I knew it would hurt you.”
Johnny watched as Carl’s hand dropped to his side, his fingers wrapping around the butt of his pistol, his thumb on the hammer as he started to pull it out of the holster as a red stain started to slowly spread across his chest. “ You………beat………me!” Carl said as he dropped to his knees, and fell forward dead.
Johnny stood there with his colt still in his hand as he pulled the hammer back and walked up to Boyd, and brought the colt up under the mans chin. “ You want to join him?” he asked with more coldness than an arctic winter night.
“ Alright Madrid, you have my word. I’ll leave the Bennett’s alone.” Boyd said.
“ If I hear of you………..”
“ You won’t. Like you Madrid, I’m a man of my word.” Boyd cut in.
“ I think maybe you should ride out now Boyd.” Jake said.
Johnny turned and walked over to the dead figure laying in the street. “ I’m sorry Johnny.” Val said.
“ Why’d you come back?” Johnny asked as he turned to face his friend.
“ Had me a better offer than eating beans.” Val said.
“ Took you long enough to decide.” Johnny said.
“ Yeah well I want ya to know I ain’t to keen on living in a place that gets cold in the winter.” Val said.
“ You can shoot you a big ole grizzly bear so you have a warm coat.” Johnny said.
“ So it’s the three of us going to Montana?” Scott asked as he walked up.
“ Four.” Jake said as he walked over to them. “ I’ve been here long enough. Starting a horse ranch in Montana sounds awful good.”
Ten years of blood, sweat and hard work Johnny, and Scott had the biggest horse ranch in eastern Montana. Only a few miles from town Johnny knew the spot would be perfect for a ranch with the Tongue, and Yellowstone rivers to provide plenty of water, lush green waist high grass, and enough timber to build their home, and all the barns and corrals they would need. It took them three years to build the huge log cabin house, bunk house, four big horse barns, and two hay barns. Corrals were put up, eight railings high, to deter the mustangs from jumping the fence. Scott purchased fifty head of prime Hereford cattle from a rancher in Wyoming, who in turn signed a contract with the brothers for fifty trained cutting horses over a three years period. It didn’t take long for the word to get out about the Bar SJ ranch.
“ You expecting a visitor today?” Jake asked.
“ No.” Johnny said as he tightened the cinch on a bronc. “ If it’s anyone important, Scott’s at the house, he can handle it. We got these three horses to break today.”
“ Why are you here?” Scott demanded. “ You come to shoot him down again like you did twelve years ago?”
“ I came in hopes of making amends with my sons.” Murdoch said.
“ How did you even know where we were?” Scott said.
“ I hired a Pinkerton agent.” Murdoch responded. “ I didn’t come here to fight with either of you.”
“ I will have to talk it over with my brother. You can go sit on the porch. There’s a pot of coffee.” Scott said before walking away, heading to the corrals.
“ You didn’t stay in the saddle very long. I think you’re getting to old for this kind of work.” Johnny teased Jake.
“ Johnny.” Scott said. “ There’s a visitor at the house you need to come talk too.”
“ You know the deal Scott. Show him some horses, and find out what he’s wanting.” Johnny said.
“ He didn’t come to buy horses.” Scott said. “ Johnny………. it’s Murdoch.” Scott said.
Johnny looked up toward the house. “ What the hell does he want?”
“ He said he came here to try and make amends with us.” Scott said.
“ Hell after twelve years he now wants to make amends with you two?” Val asked.
“ Jake, put fifty pound sacks on each side of the saddle and let him buck until he settles down.” Johnny said as he opened the corral gate, and stepped out. “ I’ll be back shortly.”
“ You got it.” Jake said.
“ He hurts you again and I’m gonna shoot him.” Val yelled.
Murdoch stood and watched his two sons walking toward him. “ Son.” he said.
“ I’m not your son. You made that perfectly clear twelve years ago old man. I’m nothing but your half-breed bastard you ran off that day.” Johnny said with anger. “ I have a life now here in Montana. I don’t need you.” Johnny said before slamming his cup down and going inside.
“ You better fix this.” Scott said.
Murdoch walked into the house and found Johnny at a huge sideboard pouring a shot of whiskey. “ I don’t believe I invited you inside.” he said as he walked over and sat down at a hug desk that sat in front of a stone fireplace.
“ I came here with the hopes that maybe, just maybe we could put the past behind us Johnny. It was you who always said a person deserves a second chance. Well damn it………that’s all I’m asking for son. A second chance. I know I was wrong in how I treated you. The things I said to you I should have never said. I’ve had to live with that for the past twelve years. If you can’t give me a second chance, I’ll understand……….but know this. No matter what ever is said, or happens between us, it’s my blood that runs through your veins.” Murdoch said.
“ You don’t have any idea how close you came to dying that day do you old man?” he demanded as he stood up, and walked around to face his father. “ You know what I like about Montana, the people here don’t judge me because I’m a half-breed. The people here just know me as Johnny Madrid the horse breeder, and trainer.”
“ I’m proud of you son.” Murdoch said. “ I’m proud of the man you have become. How you stand up for yourself. I know your life hasn’t been an easy one, and what I did to you only made it worse, and for that I’m sorry. I’m not getting any younger, I would like to spend some time with the two of you before I die.”
“ Montana’s a long way from Lancer.” Johnny said as Scott came in the house. “ Scott, would you tell Laurie we will be having a guest staying with us for a while, and to make up the guest room.”
Johnny’s way with horses became known all over the country. Ranchers from as far away as Texas purchased his prized breeding stock. Any horses that were to rank to break, he would keep in a pen for the yearly rodeo Miles City had every Fourth of July.
“ Did you ever think it would come to this brother?” Scott asked as they sat their horses, looking down at what they had accomplished.
“ Never. I dreamed about it since I was a kid, but never thought it would actually happen. Let’s go home.” Johnny said.
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