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New Dreams by Charlene


Word count: 1,270

Yellow, orange, reds. The colors streaked over the San Benito Mountains off to the east of the ranch. They pushed the grey sky of dawn away allowing a bright blue to take its place as a round fireball first crept and crawled before flying high in the sky.  

He took time to breathe the air and the sweet smell of alfalfa filled the air mixed with the other smells of a working ranch and he smiled. No sky seemed bluer, no grass greener and to him there was no sweeter smelling air than that on Lancer.

A satisfied smile on his face, Johnny leaned back in the chair and pulled his left leg up into the seat with him, wrapping his arm around his knee. He enjoyed the quiet of this morning. He had learned in the last few days that New Year’s or Hogmanay as Murdoch called it with a soft Scottish brogue when he spoke was Scotland’s main holiday, Christmas not really being celebrated there. Murdoch had told them of the customs of his homeland and gave them New Year’s Day off.

He felt his father as the man walked onto the verandah and smiled. “It’s beautiful, ain’t it?”

“Yes, it is. I have always loved this time of day.” Murdoch moved further out to stand beside his younger son. “I thought you would have been enjoying a chance to sleep in.”

“Yeah. I just … I had to see this day dawn, you know.” Johnny looked at his father. This man he had grown up hating was now the most important person in his life. Still, it wasn’t always easy to communicate with him, to let him know how very much he was appreciated. Maybe now, in the quiet of this new year. “I never thought I would see this day, this year. It’s 1871. Didn’t think I’d see my twentieth birthday. Now I’ve seen both. Thanks to you.”

Murdoch sat beside his son, his hand touching his boy’s knee. “Johnny.”

Johnny took a deep, shuddering breath. “Did the Pinkerton tell you everything about him finding me?”

Murdoch looked at his boy. “That you were in a prison scheduled to be executed by a firing squad.”

Johnny nodded, he looked down then looked back up at the horizon and the ever climbing sun. “It was more. There were six of us and … well … they’d killed four while I was on my knees in the dirt. One by one. I looked at the dirt, I couldn’t watch but I could hear. Couldn’t not hear. Each time they fired, I jerked. As many gunfights as I had been in, that was different. Just waiting to die with no hope to hang on to. Then it was my turn.” He took a deep breath before continuing. He heard a soft groan come from his father, he couldn’t look at Murdoch but he continued his story. “I had stood up and was walking over. In another sixty seconds,” he dropped his head and tried to control the churning emotions that were swirling inside him. He let out a shuddering breath and looked at his father. “In another sixty seconds, I would’a been dead. But you saved me. That Pinkerton you sent came riding over the hill hollering and telling them to hold up. I wouldn’t be here … I wouldn’t be anywhere … without you.”

Murdoch closed his eyes, his heart was beating so loudly to his own ears, he was sure they could hear it in Morro Coyo. He knew it had been close, but not how close. The image of his Johnny kneeling in the dirt waiting to die was seared into his mind forever.  He almost lost his boy before he ever found him.

Johnny put his hand on his father’s and felt the slight tremble. “Hey, look Murdoch, I tell ya, I ain’t telling you this to upset you. I’m telling you this to thank you. You gave me so much. You gave me life … twice. You gave me a father who did want me, and a brother and a little sister and … a place to belong.”

“You’ve always belonged here, Johnny,” Murdoch said softly.

“Yeah, I know. I didn’t always though, that’s the thing. Now I do and it means so much. More than I can say. That’s why it’s important to just sit here today. Watch the sun rise over my mountains … ain’t ever had my own mountains before but now I do. Johnny Lancer has a life that ol’ Johnny Madrid wouldn’t have dared to dream of.”

Murdoch Lancer sighed contentedly. He knew if he thought of his boy’s past he could quickly become melancholy. He didn’t want that as he sat beside his son who seemed so content, so happy. “Now Johnny Lancer can dream of things?”

Johnny looked at his father and flashed him a smile as bright at the rising sun. “Oh yeah. Maybe one of these days I might even give you some grandchildren.”

Murdoch and Johnny both laughed. “That my son would be a dream we can share. When you are ready though.”

“Yeah. I got me another dream too … Barranca siring some fine horses and Lancer getting into the horse business.”

Murdoch watched his son’s face. Yes, this horse business seemed to be something that Johnny truly wanted to do. Lancer was a cattle ranch, but it could be more. It had been once. Hadn’t he told both of his sons on that first day that Lancer had the finest palomino horses in the San Joaquin? Hadn’t Paul O’Brien been killed when they went to retrieve their champion sire? Maybe that was why he bristled at the thought of bringing Lancer back into the horse business as Johnny called it. That horse had cost Paul’s life. Still it wasn’t the horse, but the marauders. It was Pardee who wanted much more than the horse and who only ended up, thanks to his sons, with his blood seeping onto Lancer land.

“Lancer’s champion palominos,” Murdoch said wistfully.

Johnny grinned. “Seems I heard tell of them.”

“I think I remember. It’s a lot of work.” He studied his dark haired son and smiled.

“I know. I ain’t afraid of work. I can work hard.”

“I know you can. You do. Well, I think we should talk to your brother. See if he has any ideas to add to this new venture we’re going to start and …”

Johnny turned to his father a look of wonder on his face. “We’re gonna start? You mean, I can start working on horses as a line for Lancer?”

Murdoch grinned at his son’s excitement. “Well, we aren’t going to forget about the cattle, but I think we have enough land and we can hire a few more men to help with the horses if we need it.”

Johnny whooped and then laughed. His smile a mile wide. “Thanks Murdoch!”

“You’re welcome, my son. It’s a new year and time for some new dreams.”

“I feel like all my dreams are coming true,” Johnny said as he leaned back in the chair, his hands clasped over his stomach.

“No, not all … there are still those grandchildren of mine. Just remember … you have plenty of time.”

Johnny smiled and stretched out his legs. He looked at his father with love and gratitude. Yes, he had plenty of time thanks to Murdoch Lancer. Time to dream, time to become, time to live. Yes sir, Johnny sighed contentedly. Plenty of time to live. Lancer and life were very beautiful indeed.






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9 thoughts on “New Dreams by Charlene

  1. Very sweet, very nice. A believable conversation and a delightful analogy with the sunrise, as well as the beginning of the New Year. Johnny surely did appreciate it. Thank you for a lovely story.


    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad you liked this story. Lancer meant so much to Johnny, it was always palpable to me when watching him in the episodes. I had hoped to capture that. I’m glad you liked this one.


  2. At some point in the series we saw that Johnny had greatly improved his relationship with Murdoch,this story is a plausible step in how that developed. Good story


    1. Thank you. I always saw Lancer as a journey … Johnny’s … and his relationship with Murdoch was the key. I’m glad you enjoyed my story.


  3. That was such a heartwarming story, though I feel for Murdoch hearing just how close he came to losing Johnny for ever.


    1. Thank you so much. I am glad that you liked this story. I know that had to be upsetting for Murdoch, but I think that he needed to know and I wasn’t sure how much the Pinkerton’s actually told him.


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