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Waiting by Charlene

Word Count 1,250

Episode Tag for The Lawman

I hate jail. I hate being in jail. This ain’t the first jail I’ve ever been in and right now I’m hoping it aint the last because that’d mean … well …

As jails go, this one ain’t too bad. Small but clean. Got two nice cots with the same type of mattress we got in our bunkhouse. Got a pillow and plenty of blankets. Hell, if Teresa’d had her way, I’d have flowers in here.

It’s a hell of a thing, a body being locked up in his own jail. Not that many people got a jail of their own but leave it to my Ol’ Man. Hell it’s the only jail around. Ain’t none of the close towns got one. Ol’ Murdoch told Scott and me there won’t no law when we first came home. “Big dog gets the meat.” Well, Murdoch Lancer’s the biggest dog around for sure.

He used to be a lawman way back in the day. That’s what he was doing when he met my Mama. Being a lawman helped when times at the ranch was tough and I reckon it helped him beat out the pain of losing Scott’s mama to death and Scott to that old Eastern goat. Guess it only seems right that Murdoch would see the need to have a jail. Guardhouse he calls it, but it’s a guardhouse with a cell with bars on the window and that’s a jail any way you look at it.

And here I sit in it. Johnny Lancer in the Lancer jail. It is Lancer too, not Madrid. Or is it. That Thompkins sure don’t like me. He knows I was Madrid. Looks at me like so many lawmen in the past have … like I was cow dung on the bottom of his boot. He’s cocksure that I’m guilty. Just cause Evans knew me. Just ‘cause I wanted to make sure they treated him decent.


So here I sit waiting. Just waiting. I hate waiting too. Ain’t a damn thing to do. Teresa brought me books, but I don’t want to read ‘em. Ain’t my favorite thing to do. She brought me cards but solitaire just ain’t my game. Reckon one of the boys out there guarding me would open this door and play a hand or two of poker with me, but I ain’t gonna put them in that position. They were told to guard me and guard me they are. They don’t like it, I know that. They keep apologizing to me. Ain’t never had that happen when I was in a jail.

They’d open the door and let me outta here if I asked. Murdoch would be alright with that. Hell, he came in just a while ago to give me that opportunity, didn’t he? That was something alright. Something I never would have thought a man like Murdoch Lancer would do. He’s all hot for the law and doing things right and being an upstanding citizen. I guess I know now though that above all that Murdoch Lancer is a father. And he’s mine. And being my father, he’s more concerned with my staying alive than him doing the right thing. Ain’t that something. I ain’t never had no one who cared enough to be willing to throw away all they believed in to keep me safe. Make no mistake about it Johnny boy, that’s exactly what that mountain of a man was doing when he said I could be in Mexico in a couple days. All I needed was a fast horse, and ain’t Barranca the fastest horse around?

It hurt him, making that offer to me. You could see all the different parts of him pulling in different directions, but the father part was the strongest. The father part won. I can’t help but smile at that. It feels good, damn good, to have a father who I now know, without a doubt, that loves me. All the things I had heard when I was a kid ain’t true. Murdoch Lancer, my father, he loves me. Loves me more than his principals and he’s a man of strong principals.

He sure was proud of me that I said I won’t gonna run. Don’t know what the hell I was thinking to say that when I had a wide-open door. Ol’ Barker was right about one thing; if they don’t find Evans to clear me it’s gonna be bad. Thompkins and the law will be doing their damnedest to hustle me on a scaffold and throw a rope around my neck. I oughta be scared at the thought, but for some reason I ain’t. I’ve faced being executed before. Been a hell’uva lot closer than I am today when I was kneeling in the hot Mexican dirt waiting my turn to die. Murdoch Lancer stopped that, and I just got a feeling that he will stop this.

I just gotta wait. Wait, wait, wait. I hate waiting. I’d rather be doing. This time, I gotta let my family do the doing. Guess that’s what it is to be in a family, depending on others to do for you when you can’t do it yourself. I know they’re all worried, I can tell. I hate being the cause. Wish they won’t having to worry about me. Wish I knew who helped Evans, because someone did and that someone is the real cause of my family’s worry.

I shot at Evans and then came in here and got clobbered on the head … someone helped Evans but it sure as hell won’t me. My gut says Barker, Scott’s too, but that don’t make no sense. He didn’t have nothing to gain from it. Did he? Hell, that’s gonna hurt my Ol’ Man if it was Barker that caused this. Murdoch’s a loyal man and he expects others to be just as loyal, excepting they ain’t. Most folks are only loyal to themselves. I can see Barker being one of those. He sure as hell ain’t a Murdoch Lancer. 

This is the worst thing about the waiting. The way my mind runs all over the place and around in circles because I can’t get outta this cell. First thing I’m gonna do when I get outta this cell is take Barranca on a nice long ride. Think I’ll ask Murdoch and Scott to ride with me. That’d be nice. Hell, even Teresa can come if she can keep up on that pony of hers. She probably can. She mightn’t be a Lancer by blood, but she sure is one of us. Just as stubborn and just as loyal as me and Scott and Murdoch.

I’m ready to get outta here. I hate being in jail. I can hear some kind of commotion going on outside, but there ain’t no outside window in here, so I don’t know what’s going on. Another thing to hate about jail. Not knowing what the hell is going on outside these four walls. Four stone walls. Maybe knowing would be worse, maybe knowing would be knowing that they didn’t find Evans and I’m going to Sacramento. I don’t want to know that. I want …

Is that Murdoch’s voice. He’s loud. That’s my ol’ man alright, you can hear him through the stone walls. The outer door bursts open, and I stand. Murdoch’s out there and he’s booming. What’d be say?

“Jose, let Johnny out! Now!”

A grin breaks out on my face. A silly, happy grin. I don’t know what all has happened yet, but I will. Guess, I ain’t waiting no more. Nope, that heavy door is being unlocked and swung open and I ain’t waiting no more.

The End


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12 thoughts on “Waiting by Charlene

  1. This is good. I love the fact that Johnny’s thoughts were all over the place, and he knew it too. Love getting in the minds of these characters. Nice job.


    1. Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. He had to have had so many things going through his head locked in that cell.


  2. Great job Charlene.
    Being inside a locked up Johnny’s head is like riding a horse to be tamed, but you did a good job.
    Thank you for writing


    1. Thank you so much. I am glad you liked it. I like that imagery of Johnny riding a horse. I’m glad my story made you think of that.


    1. Hi, Char

      This was really good. We got to see Johnny in a role that wasn’t familiar to him. He had no control and everything was left up to others- So hard for Johnny to cope with that. He knew how to handle these things, what to do, and how to do it, but he wasn’t used to the sitting idle and others calling the shots.

      Great job and thanks for sharing!



      1. Thanks Diana, I’m glad you liked it. No he didn’t like leaving it up to everyone else but it was a good lesson for him to know that this new found family of his was willing to fight for him.


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