Corriendo by Buckskin

Word Count 1,143

Corriendo (Running)

Thanks to Cat and Chris for the beta, and to Bobby for the ‘Ah ha’ moment

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Faster… Run faster! Don’t let ‘im find you! The ragged breaths ripped out of the seared lungs; his throat went dry and raw as his heart hammered against ribs, pounding the blood in his ears. He had to get away, go someplace safe, stay safe. Run! He had to hide! It would be the only way that he would live through the day. Stay out of sight, and keep quiet! Mama said so! Hide!

Mama said he didn’t want me, but… why? Why does he hate me? Did I do something bad? Mama said to stay hidden. He would hurt me if he found me! Why does he hate me? Johnny’s eyes filled with tears. He didn’t remember doing anything bad, and now, he was alone and scared. Mama can’t help me anymore!

His mother died, and his father wanted to hurt him, so the mestizo boy with the jewel-like blue eyes ran for his life.

Mama, why did you leave me? I can’t do this alone!

The blue of those eyes had sentenced him to a life of hate and brutality; they subjected him to bigoted, small-minded people who turned their backs and shunned the boy… just because he had blue eyes. And those blue eyes damned him to a life filled with violence and abuse. Condemned to a life alone.

The back of the stable provided cover. Johnny burrowed into a pile of hay in the corner and quieted his sobs. He slowed the raspy breathing and waited for his broken heart to quiet and forced away the painful thunder that threatened to tear his chest in two. He wiped his nose on his sleeve, careful not to make any sudden moves that would alert anyone to his presence. And he listened for voices, especially that of the tall gringo, the man that wanted to hurt him. Why?

As Johnny lay in fear, he ached for the comfort and safety of his mother’s arms around him. Even when she was sick, yelling at him was better than being alone. He wondered why she’d been taken away. Mama, I need you! He’s here! I’m scared, Mama! Scared… Tears leaked out from under tightly closed lids and mingled with the dirt on the stable floor, creating little puddles of mud. But, Johnny did not move. The mud quickly dried in the heat, leaving a thick smear on the small boy’s face and bits of straw that itched his skin. His breathing now slowed; Johnny fell asleep as he waited for the tall gringo to leave town.

It was long after sundown when Johnny left the security of the stable. He hoped the gringo was gone, but nothing was certain. He kept to the shadows as he crept along, trying his best to stay out of sight. No one wanted the mestizo boy around; no one would care for him or about him. He’d been beaten, bruised, and bloodied, and he wondered what he had done to deserve the hatred that followed him.

His Mama had taught him manners, but it didn’t seem to matter. Everyone pushed him away. The cruelty never changed, never stopped. A shroud of hostility wrapped him in a spider’s web he could not escape. He was invisible to everyone until they thought he wanted something, then he was vermin, treated like a parasite, to be eliminated.

The light from inside a small dwelling cut through the dark, and Johnny stood back out of sight but able to see inside the house. The scene that greeted him was like a knife had pierced his heart. A family sat around a table enjoying their evening meal. A mama and papa laughed at something their little boy said while a tiny baby girl sat on her mama’s lap, held in the comfort of her arms.

Johnny stood and wrapped his arms around his chest, protecting him… like Mama would have done. He could almost feel her touch as he watched the family, safe in their warm home with food on the table. It should have been Johnny at that table with his Mama and a Papa that wanted him. They should be the family laughing and eating a meal together… together. The word hit him hard, like a tangible blow to his belly. He stood, unable to move, and the hitch in his throat made it difficult to breathe.

Mama… why have you left me alone?  Tears traced their way down his face to drip onto his filthy shirt. Johnny wanted to be there in that house; he wanted to be sitting there with his mother and talk with her and have her sing to him and to have her hold him. She had a soft, soothing voice, like an angel! And if he thought hard, he could feel her arms pull him to her in a hug, a mother’s sweet hug… warm… comforting… protecting, and… loving. He reached out, hoping to grasp a tender hand, but he caught nothing, only the chilly night air. He ached to have Mama’s arms around him, holding him tight. He desperately needed someone to love him.

“Hey, boy! What are you doing? Go away! No, begging!” The shout broke through the night as a man began to walk toward him. Johnny started to run again. His thin legs propelled him into the dark, away from the house, a house filled with family and food, and out into the desert.

His eyes welled with more tears; they ran down his dirty cheeks unchecked, and his breath burned his throat raw. What had he done to cause this hate? Maybe he was born bad. He didn’t think he was, but what other reason could there be? And his heart shattered like glass as he cried into the dark. The wracking sobs threatened to turn him inside-out, and he fell to the ground as his tears soaked into the dust.

Johnny gasped when he inhaled desert sand; he coughed, tried to catch his breath, and rolled on his back as the spasms ripped through his chest. He fought to breathe. He fought…

Staring through watery eyes, he looked into the night sky; the stars were bright; silvery specks that shimmered on a bed of black velvet.

Mama? Are you up there? I’m scared!

The howl startled him, it was close. Maybe I’ll let it take me, then I won’t have to worry about being alone… Or I could fight.  Deep in his mind, Johnny knew he’d been strong for her. Strong for Mama. Could he be strong for himself?

He didn’t give up. Giving up was not what he wanted to do. Johnny pushed himself to his feet… he would fight.

Written February 2019
Edited May 2022

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17 thoughts on “Corriendo by Buckskin

    1. Thanks, Char. I’m not a fan of writing/reading a young Johnny, but this one just popped into my head as I thought about him feeling that he had to hide from that big gringo that wanted to hurt him and not knowing why. Thanks for the feedback- It’s always appreciated!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  1. This story is such a good prelude to Johnny’s future and why he became Johnny Madrid. I hate to think he was running from Murdoch. Your stories never fail to be good from beginning to end!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Debra, I’m glad you liked this story. I’m not usually a fan of stories when the boys were little, but the thought of a small boy hiding from his father, thinking the man meant to do him harm, was compelling and I wondered how it would have affected Johnny as he fought to survive after his mother’s death. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  2. Diana, the description you wrote of how alone and frightening it must have been in those early years made Johnny’s survival seem an almost impossible task. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into Johnny’s early life as he dodged his father’s efforts to find him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Sherry! Yes, little Johnny, lied to by his mother, then suffering her loss, and finding that ‘horrible gringo’ was hunting for him had to be overwhelming. This story just kind of … happened when imagining his emotions as a little guy alone and afraid. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sherry!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  3. For Johnny to feel so unloveable is heartbreaking. I love your writing and I-always look forward to you leading me to another time and place with characters I know. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there, Heather, I’m glad you liked this little tale. Johnny’s early years were tragic, and where I’m not fond of stories where he is a child, this one popped into my head and wouldn’t leave. But thank you for reading and commenting!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Hi, Lesley. Terrified the big gringo would find him, Johnny hid in the hay pile, then when he thought the gringo left, he wandered, alone and afraid wanting his mother to come for him and keep him safe. A horrible place for a little boy to be…

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  4. So few words, yet they’re so evocative, so heart wrenching. My heart breaks for Johnny, running, not knowing why he’s hated, why he’s unwanted, why it’s his fault – he doesn’t think he’s done anything, but he must’ve or else his father wouldn’t want to hurt him. Someone would want to love him, to take care of him. He would not be alone and so afraid. The picture of him standing on the outside, watching the family on the inside and wanting so very much to be inside and part of a loving family and then being, as always, chased away, laying in the dirt crying his heart out. And always so alone and so scared. I just want to cry with him and then pick him up, take him home, and love him. But he has courage; he will not go down, he will not stay down … he will fight. Well done, Diana, well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Bev, I am overwhelmed with your comment! Thank you so much! Yes, Johnny wanted his mama, he needed her desperately, and he grieved, but then, he realized only he could change what was. And he decided to fight…

      I’m glad you felt his despair, but then, his strength! Thanks for the feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  5. Diana,

    Like you, I’m not a fan of the Lancer characters as children, but I can understand how the idea for this story took hold and wouldn’t leave until you’d put it to paper. And what a wonderful job you did! Your writing is beautiful – fluid and evocative – and very descriptive. So descriptive, in fact, that I almost felt I was right there with Johnny. There’s so much that’s enjoyable about this story, but what I particularly liked were the sensations that Johnny felt, both inwardly and outwardly. The grief inside him was exacerbated by the dried mud and scratching straw on his skin. Angst doesn’t get much stronger than that, and stories don’t get much better than this. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Thank you, Viki! That comment was more than I deserved! But I appreciate it, thank you! Johnny, whether little boy, or grown man, evoked many emotions in our heads and hearts. Watching Johnny Madrid Lancer on TV and reading Lancer fanfiction gave us a full spectrum to appreciate, and this story was only a tiny piece of his wonderful puzzle!

      Thank you for reading and the glowing comment!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

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