(The) Cause by Olley

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Written for a challenge set on the LancerWriters group. Inspired by recently hearing Love me Tender (listen to it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAMpsFBluaI) and then watching the Warburton’s Edge episode.

Thanks to Terri (Doc) for the beta

Word count: 550

“Any cause that turns to back shooting is wrong. That’s all I know.”
Johnny Madrid Lancer, Warburton’s Edge epilogue

I am ten years old, his hand resting on my shoulder tells me he is proud of me. One-shot rings out and he jerks forward against me; we both fall to the ground.

I hear Mama scream, but all I can do is lay there with Papi’s weight holding me down. His eyes are open and looking at me “Juanito, hijo, get your Mama to safety.” I cannot get my breath or move.

I wake myself up with sweat mixed with the tears running down my face. It has been almost a month since the Warburton fracas and the nightmares had come, each one calling me a liar for ever saying I always slept well.

Sometimes in the nightmare, I am arriving too late and it’s Murdoch bleeding to death; and always the memory of not being able to save Mama.

I lay still, my heart pounding in my chest, my blood racing. Murdoch is wrong. The past is not past. It lives on, repeating itself. I cannot and will not ever forget how Papi and Mama were killed.

I was just a kid but I can remember how Papi tried to negotiate with the newcomers, explaining the land was his as it had been his father’s and his father’s father’s, but they had their cause, to take land and make it their own. Gun hawks were hired to drive us and our neighbours away, but Papi held firm until that bullet in his back took his life, and I was trapped under him, unable to save Mama.
For a long while, I tried to forget, but forgetting would have betrayed my memories of being a loved child in a happy family.

Seeing Warburton gunned down, leaving Tallie an orphan…Dios, I knew and felt her pain and loss. Bushwhackers and back shooters are cowardly murderers. To my mind Driscoll was no different than the man paid to murder Papi and Mama. My blood and temper boiled over I wasn’t going to side with any cause that turned to that, even though it ripped me up to go against Murdoch.

Taking a deep breath I will my heart to slow down so I can stand without shaking. I look at myself in the mirror and manage to shave without cutting myself. I picture Tallie, so sweet and innocent, even after I had told her I was both Johnny Lancer and Johnny Madrid. Then she asked me which am I most.

I told her Lancer. I want to believe that, really I do. But I think it’s wishful thinking on my part.
The first time I was shot so bad I almost died, I asked the old curendera who fixed me up why I was still alive. She told me I must be destined for another purpose. As Madrid, I tried to keep that in mind when choosing the causes I signed up for, but now I’m guessing and hoping my purpose is to protect this Lancer family of mine.

So, for now, I slip back into being Johnny Lancer, saying gracias to Mamacita for the breakfast she puts in front of me, listening to Murdoch issuing his orders for the day, and smiling  as Scott jokes about something Jelly has said or done. And Madrid waits in my shadow.

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~ end ~
January 2020 

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