A Voice From Another Time by Buckskin

Word count 1,910

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A response to 2022 Lancer Writer ‘ Inheritance Challenge’
No beta- All mistakes are mine
Thank you to Adriana for the Spanish lesson!

It was a typical calm, clear night by all practical appearances, but it somehow felt different. The stars looked the same as always; their sparkle never failed to take him to that place in his head where peace wrapped around and protected him from the hurt and dangers in his life. It lent a magical aura, magical once big brother, with his extensive knowledge and education, told him about the constellations. The heroes and beasts hidden in the stars were still hard to imagine and would prompt Johnny to look at the drawings in that astronomy book Scott had shown him, allowing him to commit them to memory. It was only the stars he saw above him now.

But there was something out there, a force that wouldn’t let him go, pulling him into the unknown, into the stars. He’d felt it other times, but on this night, it was stronger, luring him to somewhere he’d never been before. There was no sense of danger, no foreboding, dark threats; it was quite the opposite. It felt warm, welcoming, a call beckoning him home and into open arms. Ya been workin’ too hard, Madrid- Ain’t nothin’ out here callin’ to ya… He chuckled at thoughts of someone beckoning, coaxing him, and he snorted, thinking his imagination was running wild. But he did feel something different, something he could not identify, and that was puzzling.

Johnny Madrid Lancer leaned on the top rail of the far corral enjoying the solitude, the calm healing effects that only the night could bring. He tried to put the pieces together and wondered why the power felt stronger this night; it had been with him for most of his life, something just out of his grasp but never as intense as it was tonight.

Nothing had changed ranch-wise to prompt this unusual sensation, no ghosts or nightmares lately, so what was different about this night? Things were going well at Lancer, and the troubling confrontations between his father and him were behind them. Murdoch and Johnny had passed the ‘settling in’ point for which Johnny was eternally grateful, and could not lay any blame on that front.

Three of the horses in the corral made their way to the fence, all vying for his attention for ear scratches and gentle pats. The silky-toned voice lulled them into a trance as they stood still and silent, eyes half-closed in contented pleasure.

The quiet was mesmerizing, but suddenly Johnny smiled, sensing another being. “Tio, it’s late. What are you doin’ out here?” The soft words seemed to drift aimlessly into the night… until they were answered.

A deep chuckle reached Johnny’s ears.

“Probably the same thing as you, Sobrino.” Then falling into his native tongue, Cipriano continued. “¿Te llama a ti también? ¿Tú también lo sientes?” It calls to you, as well? You feel it, too?

Johnny turned to catch his great uncle’s gaze, and with a raised brow, he answered. “Sí, I feel it, but… what is it?” He was met with silence, and in honor of his uncle, Johnny stayed quiet, allowing his tio the time he needed before he spoke.

The horses stirred, realizing the scratches had stopped, and they moved closer, nudging Johnny with their muzzles. Cipriano’s wide smile split his face, and the gesture struck Johnny as odd.

Cip shook his head, extended a hand to the steeds, and trailed his fingers through the mane and down the sleek necks.

Johnny held his questions in check, still respectful, and waited for Cip to gather his thoughts.

With a deep sigh, the Segundo looked out across the Lancer range, then scanned the sky above before saying the words Johnny patiently waited to hear. Cip turned to his nephew, locking him with his stare. His baritone words complimented the night in their timbre; the sure tones, though soft, were strong and true.

“A voice from another time, Juanito. Your tatara abuelo speaks to you. You must listen to him.”

Though Johnny never believed in spirits, talking from the grave was a common notion with the Mexican and Spanish people; he could see in Cipriano’s face that this was important, momentous, and needed his consideration. His tio was serious.

“I see in your eyes that you doubt my words.”

There were no accusations condemning the lack of conviction of the practice, only a need to communicate what his uncle believed. Johnny hesitated and scratched the horses for a bit as he organized his thoughts before committing them to words that would defend his apprehensions.

“No, it ain’t doubt. Not from you. I just…, well, it makes me think of Mama, an’ she was… sick. She’d be talkin’ out of her head about spirits an’… I knew somethin’ was wrong.” He tried very hard to avoid the old beliefs, not wanting to dwell on the past as they tended to haunt his dreams.

Cip studied his hands as he contemplated his niece. “Your mama, sí, she was… troubled— even as a child, we worried over her. But, Juanito, not all thoughts of the Spirit World are malo (bad).” Here Cip hesitated, wondering where to go next in the conversation. “Perhaps this might explain things to make it clearer for you.”

Johnny watched as Tio withdrew an envelope from his inside jacket pocket and held it between his work-roughened fingers, then he pressed it to his lips and handed it to Johnny.

“It is from my grandfather, and now, it belongs to you. It will explain everything.”

With creased brow, Johnny took the fragile paper from his uncle’s hand; Cip turned with a “Buenas noches, Sobrino,” drifting in the air behind him, then left Johnny to the mysterious tattered, and fragile letter.

His fingers were warm where they touched the missive— was it tied in with the magic of the night? Johnny wondered what power was contained in words written years ago by his great-great-grandfather; the only way he would find out would be to read it, and he couldn’t do that standing in the dark. Johnny carefully slipped the paper into the inside pocket of his bolero jacket and started for the hacienda and the privacy of his room.

Taking the back stairs to avoid contact with his family and risk a delay in reading, Johnny successfully reached his room, lit the lamp, then closed the door, assuring the time alone needed to read the written words from the grandfather of generations past. What was in these pages that would be so important to transcend the years between them? Well, he would know in a matter of minutes.

Johnny Madrid Lancer settled on his bed, sitting cross-legged, and reached for the envelope in his jacket pocket. The red stain left from the sealer now browned with age marked where the wax had long chipped away. The lamp’s flame flickered, leaving Johnny in a warmth of familial grace that enveloped him as if his great-great-grandfather was sitting with him, reaching out to circle his body in loving arms. Johnny was not alone in his room.

His fingers were steady as they slipped the paper from the envelope, then carefully unfolded the fragile and tattered missive, yellowed with age, to read the words written long ago.

It was dated August 5, 1787. The words lovingly committed to paper, written by a new father to the generations that would follow.

I take pen in hand to write this night of the honor that God has bestowed upon me as I celebrate the birth of my firstborn. My heart overflows with joy as I hold my son for the first time. The featherweight in my arms captivated me in a love so profound, so pure, and warm and rich as it fills me with the promise of tomorrow. My commitment to nurture this son and give him strength, patience, and humility for his heart and mind to grow to become an honorable man is one I will hold dear until the day I take my last breath, meet The Creator, and let my remains turn to dust.

A tiny smile tugged at the corner of Johnny’s mouth as he thought of his great-great-grandfather as he held the infant for the first time.

Now that I am a father, I realize it is important to leave something to mark one’s passage through time— leave a part of yourself for your descendants to see, be a part of, and to honor and respect. The men in my family have long been mesteñeros, the caballos so important, the lifeblood of the Quintero family’s success and hope for generations to come. And I will teach my new son all that I know, that he will continue in my footsteps and teach his sons after him, to pass down to their sons after them.

The hands that commit these thoughts to paper are the same that have gentled the magnificent animals and the same that have just held my newborn son. The niño will grow to honor this profession and respect the gifts provided to this familia.

Johnny could not help the hitch in his throat— It was as if Great-great- Grandfather Quintero had written about him. Had he come by his talent working the magnificent animals through blood? Johnny stopped reading and looked at his hands. He flexed his fingers, turned his hands over, and inspected the palms, the callouses, and scars that resulted from hard work; he examined the backs of his hands and the long, straight fingers. The hands of a mesteñero, a mesteñero with a compassionate heart. He couldn’t help the smile that twitched his lips. Would his great-great-grandfather be proud? He wondered. Then he continued to read the words written from the man’s soul.

The majestic caballos have taught me many things, and if one uses patience and empathy, that one will know courage and strength and the knowledge required to calm and tame the steeds, never breaking their spirit but coming to understand them and their powerful souls, to recognize their dignity and might, and become one with the animal.

It is my wish, my desire to pass along the things I have learned, so those after me will know, will respect, love, and honor the gift that runs in the blood of the Quintero family.

To those who come after me, long after my time here is done, know I am with you; my knowledge flows through your touch and your heart. Let my spirit be yours to flow through your veins.

Alejandro de Cervantes Quintero

Johnny stared at the words, the words handed down from generation to generation and finally to him. He hadn’t known this was a gift of blood, only that he’d always loved caballos and was good with them, and they, in turn, responded to him. And now he knew why Cipriano watched him so closely when he worked with the horses, and Johnny knew the reason for Tio’s smile. He had inherited the gift. Tomorrow, he would talk to Tio and find out more about the family of generations past, a talk that was long overdue. Johnny wanted to know more.

He was the compassionate mesteñero that Great-Great-Grandfather hoped would follow in his footsteps and heed the wishes in his heart.

End
April 2022

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18 thoughts on “A Voice From Another Time by Buckskin

    1. Thank you so much! I am very happy you liked this little tale! And thank you for the feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Hey there, Debra! I appreciate your continued support of my Lancer World. The ‘Inheritance Challenge’ was a great opportunity to explore Johnny’s talent with his beloved horses and strengthen his relationship with Tio Cipriano. Thanks for your feedback.

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Thank you so much! I could imagine Johnny learning of this connection to his great-great-grandfather, and wanting to know more about the family he never knew. Family wasn’t something he knew about until coming to Lancer, and learning from Tio Cip would be a great experience for him.

      I’m glad you liked the story!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Aww, thank you, Lesley! I appreciate your support and very happy that you like my Lancer World!
      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Hi, Char! JML never ceases to amaze us so he needed to be amazed with his heritage and to realize that past family is important.

      Thanks for reading and the feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  1. Wow, this is an amazing story. I love the idea of a talent being passed down. Heritage is important to share. Thank you for sharing, it is a story to be reread many times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Elin! Thanks for the positive feedback! Yes, Johnny had a great gift in his talent with horses. Usually, I like to think it was his alone, but this angle gave him a connection to those who came before him, a sense of family he never knew before. Glad you liked the story.

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Thank you, Ruby. Yes Johnny certainly had a gift. I’m happy you liked this story and thanks again for reading and sending feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  2. Beautiful story. Very touching and heartwarming. So happy to see that Johnny has something good and honorable that came from his mother’s side of the family. Writers tend to give Lancer blood credit for the good side of Johnny. It was wonderful to read that it was from Maria this time. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Carolyn, you are welcome! And thank you for your kind words! Ha, I really need to stop making Maria out to be such a negative force in Johnny’s life! But, yes, the mestenero heritage came from Maria’s side of the family and passed on to Johnny. We in fan fiction have made Johnny a ‘horse whisperer’, and it was very easy to do as James Stacy was a great animal lover. I’m very happy you liked this tale! Thank you!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

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