In Appreciation of Our Father by Barbara V.

Word Count – 1,510

Looking down at his sleeping brother, Scott called to Johnny. Getting no response, he toed Johnny’s ankle.

Johnny looked up, one eye squinting from the sun. “WHAT?”

Your rod will get away from you if you don’t grab it.”

Grabbing the rod, Johnny pulled the line out of the water. “Why the hell do fish have to wake up so early? Today is Sunday, our only day of rest, and I’m out here. I don’t even like fishing.”

Scott was amused by Johnny’s ability to curse in two languages.

“Colorful, but don’t let Murdoch hear you. Come on Johnny, we decided together to treat our father this Sunday. Look at him, he’s having a ball. Please don’t ruin the mood.”

‘I guess you’re right. He is enjoying himself, isn’t he?  I guess I’ll do my part but it’s a lot easier fishing my way.”

“And that is why Murdoch made you give him your gun while we’re fishing.  He wants to avoid having any mangled fish, nor does he want your gunfire to scare the fish away.”

Reaching into the can, Johnny grabbed a worm. “I’m sorry little fella but you gotta go into the water.” He put the worm on his hook and put his line back in the water.

Scott was chuckling at his little brother’s antics. “Don’t talk to worms, Johnny.”

“And why not? They have feelings too, ya’ know.”

Scott walked over to Johnny and reached into the can of worms, choosing one. “My apologies Mr. Worm, but duty calls at the end of my line.”  He put his line back in the water.

Johnny was laughing at his big brother, but decided he wanted to have the last word this time. “It coulda been a lady worm” The brothers enjoyed a laugh together, and resumed fishing.

Johnny’s line began to jerk. “Scott, I got a bite! It looks like a big one too!”

“Alright, now don’t jerk the line. Pull it in slowly. Let the fish run a bit, then pull your line gently and you’ll have your fish.”

Murdoch was watching his sons from his chosen spot at the lake. Johnny could always liven things up when he was in a playful mood, but he was most pleased with the way Scott fell so naturally into the role of big brother. He was trying to figure what his sons were up to.

‘Those boys have something up their sleeves. They have had their heads together all week, yet they clam up when I enter the room. They probably want me to bankroll them on one of their ventures. Well, I’ll just play along, and see what happens.’

Murdoch’s concentration was broken by the site of his youngest running toward him with what appeared to be a fish.

“Look, I caught a fish! Scott showed me how to bring it in slow with that new rod he gave me, but it’s mine!  Good catch, huh?”

Murdoch smiled at his son.  The fish, though small in size was a whopper to Johnny. “Yes, very impressive, Son. Take your fish & put it in the sack with the other fish cooling in the water.”

After Scott added his fish to the sack, he walked up smiling at Johnny. “Great catch little brother, and not one bullet hole in it.”

“Very funny Scott. You know Pa took my gun away soon as we got here.”

“It is time we head home boys. We have more than enough fish for a good supper. You boys will of course, clean them.” The Lancer men headed toward the hacienda.

Teresa spotted them as they passed under the arch. “Maria, they’re coming. Do you think Murdoch will like them?  I hope so.”

“The patron will love them. Now, go meet them and see that they clean up before they come in. They will all have baths too, or they won’t be sitting at my table.” With a few determined waves of her big spoon, she went back to her stove.

“Hey, Teresa, we’re back. I caught a fish. Wanna see it?” Johnny drew the fish out of the sack, proudly holding it up, and waving it toward Teresa.

Teresa Looked at the fish and searched both sides. “I don’t see any bullet holes. Are you sure this is yours?”

“Yeah, yeah go ahead and laugh. Truth is Pa took my gun from me when we got there.”

After the laughter died down, Teresa stood in front of the men. “Maria said you were all to clean up out here, and then go inside for baths.”

“Why we gotta clean up out here if were gonna take baths? Seems kinda dumb if ya ask me.”

“Well, you explain that to Maria while she is swinging her spoon.” Laughing, Teresa headed back inside.

Scott laughed at his brother’s fussing, earning him a Madrid stare.

“That lady’s got some peculiar rules, but man can she cook.  Okay I’ll wash up.”

Murdoch was enjoying his ‘children’having fun. “You boys put those fish in the ice house. We’ll clean them later. Wash up.” The men headed inside to baths.

When Murdoch entered the dining room he was treated to a surprise. There were several of his favorite dishes. There were even some hot spicy dishes that he loved.

“Ladies, you have outdone yourselves. Everything looks and smells delicious. Let’s eat.”

After a wonderful meal, Teresa hopped up to get desert. She brought out a large plate of cookies and set them before Murdoch.  He smiled at her and took one. He bit into the cookie and closed his eyes, savoring the flavor. Johnny and Scott grinned at the sight.

“Shortbread cookies? Teresa these are wonderful. How did you learn to make them?”

“Mrs. Conway came over and showed us a recipe. It took a while to get it right. Do you really think they’re good?”

“Just like my mother used to bake in Scotland. My dear you have made me very happy. Thank you.”  He pulled Teresa to him and kissed her cheek.  She was just glowing.

“Hey, you gonna eat all those cookies? Don’t we get any desert Teresa?” Johnny put on hiss little boy pout.

“You’ll get desert. I made a chocolate cake, and an apple pie.”

“Oh, well in that case, enjoy your cookies, Pa.  Don’t forget the cheese for Boston’s pie, Teresa.”

After a wonderful meal, the men retired to the great room. Teresa entered the room with a large tray holding coffee, and more cookies.

“Thank you my dear. This coffee will top off the meal perfectly; and I see you have more cookies.  I guess now I just wait.” Three heads swung toward Murdoch.

“Sir?”

”What”

“Huh?”

“It’s not my birthday, or any holiday, so what did I do to merit all this attention?”

Scott was appointed spokesman for the group. “We decided since you do so much here, that you deserved to sit back and relax a bit. We know how much you enjoy fishing, and the ladies wanted to surprise you with a great meal. This is our way of giving back to you for all you do for us.”  Johnny crossed the room and handed Murdoch an envelope. “This is from all of us, Pa.”

Opening the envelope he found a train ticket to San Francisco, and reservations for a seven day stay at the best hotel.

“Seven days in San Francisco? I don’t know what to say, except thank you. This is a wonderful gift, but I can’t leave right now. I have to make sure the books tally out correctly before the audit in two weeks; and there’s the new cattle being shipped in.”

“Sir, I practically cut my teeth on ledgers. It was Grandfather’s fervent wish that I become an accountant.”

“And I can handle the new cattle coming in. Any dumb cow is a dumb cow. I’ll handle them and keep them separated until Doc Hildebrand checks them over.  You said we were each one third owner of Lancer. Shouldn’t we be able to show you we can handle things while you are away? We can even let Boston call the tune.”

“Well, I don’t know….”

“Oh please say yes, you deserve it. I am forever grateful to you for stepping in to care for me after Daddy was killed. We really want you to go.” Teresa had unshed tears in her eyes.

I never could stand to see a woman cry; especially one as pretty as you. Okay I accept.”

As the evening wore down the brothers retreated to the chess board and Teresa was working on her knitting. Murdoch sat at the fire, a scotch warming his insides as the fire warmed the outside.  He thought back on the events of the day; a great morning with his sons, a wonderful meal, and a gift of a seven day trip to San Francisco. ‘No father could ever want for better sons and daughters than mine.’

He was a happy man.

End

June  2022

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8 thoughts on “In Appreciation of Our Father by Barbara V.

  1. I love this story, Sis! Ha, especially the part about no one believed that Johnny caught a fish without shooting it first! But, Murdoch had suffered more than anyone could know, and and this sweet surprise from Teresa, Scott and Johnny was so well deserved. Thank you for sharing! Loved it!

    Like

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