Short Story Collection by EJ

A collection of stories under 1000 words. Use the menu to find the one you want.

(The) Boy In The Man
Boys Loose In The Kitchen
Boys Will Be Boys
Celebration of The Horse’ Day
C’est La Vie
Could Only Happen To Johnny
(The) Experiment – Missing Scene
Family Portrait
It’s Not Easy Being A Father
Let Me Tell Y’All What Happened (Jelly’s Story)
Listening To My Sons
(A) Long Night
Lost Boy
My Brother Is Not Disreputable!
My Son’s Smile
My Wild Son
(A) New Taste Experience
Quiet Moments Bring on Memories
Santa Knows If You’ve Been Good Or Bad
Scott’s Birthday Memories
Scott Shares A Sweet Tooth
Showdown
Sneak Thief
St Patrick’s Day Party
Stunt Gone Wrong
Thoughts On Having A Brother
(A) Warm Bed for Johnny
Who Are You More

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(The) Boy In The Man

(In memory of James Stacy the man who brought Johnny Madrid Lancer to life. We miss you.) September 2016.

Word count: 360

Murdoch leaned back in his desk chair and stared out the large window. Lost in thought about his younger son, and relishing those times Johnny let the boy out to play.

Last month Johnny had slid down the banister and nearly knocked Maria off her feet. He chuckled remembering how Maria had boxed his son’s ears and scolded him in rapid fire Spanish. It brought back memories of a two-year old receiving the same scolding after trying to climb up on the banister. 

Murdoch stood and headed for the drinks cart, he poured his favorite scotch, took a sip, and ambled back to his desk. He stood at the window watching his sons work in the corral. He knew if he watched long enough he would see Johnny morph into little brother ready to torment his big brother. 

Last week Scott announced he was going into town alone, and refused to say why. Johnny naturally couldn’t let it go and transformed into little brother-the pest. He trailed Scott to the bath house, but came back pouting he had been locked out. While Scott was trying to dress Johnny was pacing the room and grabbing at the clothes. Finally a large bang then stomping down the stairs announced that Scott had thrown little brother out of the room. 

Yesterday he had to referee a fight between Teresa and Johnny when he was caught sneaking the cookies she had baked for the orphanage picnic. Johnny had managed to decimated a whole sheet of the treat before being caught. Unfortunately for his son, the thief had failed to remove the evidence of his crime. Cookie crumbs clung to his cheeks and the milk mustache he sported sealed his fate. When Maria heard the commotion she ran in from the garden and that night – his son sat on a pillow during supper.

Murdoch grinned when he saw Scott wrestle Johnny into a head lock and drag the squirming boy from the corral. He pulled his chair closer to the window, and sat down for the show. 

Murdoch wasn’t going to miss any of the next ‘big brother vs little brother’ escapade.

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Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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Boys Loose In The Kitchen

Or National Men Make Dinner Day. Written for Janet’s National Observances list for November 2012

Word count: 905

“No, no, no, out of my kitchen.”  Maria stood waving her wooden spoon at the Patron’s sons.

Hearing all the yelling coming from the kitchen Murdoch rushed from the Great Room hoping to stop Maria from doing any permanent damage to his younger son.  He stopped at the doorway, shocked, he saw both his son’s facing Maria’s wrath as she shook her wooden spoon at them. 

“Boys, what is going on here?” Murdoch slowly entered the kitchen and made sure he was out of range of Maria and her spoon.  He raised his hands, “Maria, please lower your weapon.”

When she placed the spoon on the table Murdoch went to her side and placed a comforting arm around her shoulders.   He glared at his sons.

Johnny was standing slightly behind Scott, he was obviously waiting for his brother’s golden tongue to get them out of trouble.

“Well?”  Murdoch repeated.  Maria continued to scowl at the invaders in her domain.

Scott cleared his throat, “Today is National Men Make Dinner Day, so Johnny and I are going to make the evening meal.  Maria will have the afternoon off to relax and enjoy her garden.”  Scott was obviously pleased with his narrative.

Johnny knew this was a bad idea but was glad that Scott was doing the talking and that Murdoch seemed to be buying it.  However the look on Maria’s face indicated that she didn’t.

Scott looked at the still angry cook, “What do you think Maria?”

She shook her head, “No, I will not have the ninos mess up my kitchen, no, no.”

“We will not damage your kitchen and promise to return said kitchen to you in pristine condition.” Scott placed his hand on his heart.

Johnny was liking his brother’s idea less and less by the minute and he wasn’t sure just what was being promised.  Why did he let his brother talk him into this stupid plan?  He also wondered if Murdoch would be mad if he killed Scott over this pristine thing.

Murdoch was trying not to laugh especially since Maria was beside him, even if she was unarmed.  He cleared his throat and looked down at her, “Maria?”

She looked up at the Patron and then to the boys, “What is pristine?” 

“It means we will leave it the same way you give it to us.”  Scott motioned to both of them.

Maria thought for a minute but then nodded, “But it better be like I leave it.”

“It will, we promise.”  Scott’s smile faded when he heard his brother growl.

“All right boys.”  Murdoch quickly escorted Maria to the garden.  He hoped he wouldn’t regret this but he wasn’t sure about Scott’s plan and Johnny didn’t look happy.  Actually, Murdoch thought Johnny looked anything but happy.

“Well little brother, let’s get started.”  Scott rubbed his hands together, “I was thinking Beef Wellington, fresh vegetables, and for dessert some fresh fruit or better yet, a pie.” 

“What’s beef wellington, why can’t we have normal food?”  Yep Johnny was really hating this idea.

Scott huffed, “Johnny we are fixing normal food.”

“Nah, normal food is somethin’ I can recognize.  How about tamales?”

“No, absolutely not, I will not have my stomach lining burned away with your over spiced food.”  Scott said over his shoulder as he headed for the pots and pans hanging over the stove.

Johnny pouted and began his plans for revenge against his really annoying older brother.  Shaking his head he knew for sure, Maria is going to kill us, then I’m gonna kill Scott.

Murdoch left Maria in the garden and decided he would sit on the patio so he could keep an eye and ear on the boys.  He was enjoying listening to Scott lecture Johnny.   Then his younger son started arguing about Scott’s weird food ideas.  Murdoch chucked at the brotherly bantering.

However, after much banging, arguing, and even the slight odor of burnt food Murdoch figured he better check on the boys.  He didn’t want to have to deal with Maria if the boys destroyed her kitchen. 

He peeked in the door, and to say he was shocked was putting it mildly.  His two sons were covered with, well he wasn’t sure exactly what, but they were both a mess.  The kitchen table was littered with dirty bowls, utensils, pots, and pans.  The stove had burnt on food and drips of what looked like gravy, the floor was also covered in numerous spills.  The sink was full of dirty items and the floor under the sink was wet.

Murdoch shook his head and raked his hands through his hair and yelled, “What happened?  You boys have wrecked Maria’s kitchen.”  He was seriously considering letting Maria kill both boys.

Scott and Johnny both jumped at Murdoch’s roar.  They pointed to each other and together said, “It’s his fault.”

“I don’t care whose fault it is, get this place cleaned up and do it now.” 

“What about dinner?”  Scott wasn’t going to give up easily.

“Now and I mean it, if Maria sees this mess…  Well don’t expect me to save you.”  Murdoch turned and stomped off.  He headed for the garden not sure what he was going to do to keep Maria from seeing the disaster in her kitchen. 

All those years he wished, wanted to have his boys home with him.

Murdoch took a deep breath and thought, well, be careful what you wish for.

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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Boys Will Be Boys

Word count: 105


“Scott, ya gotta help me.”

“Nope you are on your own little brother.”

“Didn’t ya always tell me ‘You are the older, smarter, and better looking brother’?  So help me.”

“Yes, Johnny my boy, that I am.  But I am not going to help you.”

“Yeah, but if the Widow Hargis gets her hands on me…”

“Well let that be a lesson to never steal.”

“I couldn’t help it Scott.  It just smelled so good.”

“That is not an excuse.  You need to apologize to the Widow.”

“Okay.  Okay, but will you watch my back?  Sure hope she doesn’t have a wooden spoon.”

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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‘Celebration of The Horse’ Day

Word count: 175

Johnny didn’t trust easily, for that matter he rarely trusted. After all the times he had been disappointed and hurt he wasn’t about to start now.   But that first day…

Into his life came that special being that he knew he could trust, and trust he did. 

Johnny smiled as he watch the golden horse prance in the corral, Barranca shook his head and the white mane blew in the wind.   The horse was magnificent, the best horse he ever had and the smartest.  Johnny never tired of watching Barranca.

As Johnny approached the corral Barranca trotted to him, hung his head over the rail and nudged Johnny’s chest for the apple.  “Hey boy.” Johnny rubbed the golden head and brought the apple out from behind his back.  “Would I let you down?” Johnny laughed as Barranca chomped on his treat.

Man and horse, partners.

Johnny smiled and rested his head against Barranca’s head.  They stood quietly, comfortable in each others presence.

Yep, he was happy and he had a partner he could trust forever.

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Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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C’est La Vie

Word count: 165

Stunned beyond words Scott thought, ‘My God Johnny, how have you managed to survive?’  He placed the Pinkerton report on the desk and looked at his father.

Murdoch watched the emotions flicker across his older son’s face and he wondered if maybe he had made a mistake letting Scott read the report.

Scott was having trouble erasing the images of Johnny Madrid as written in that awful report.  He saw a small boy, dirty, abandoned, and beaten because he was of mixed races.  Later a teenager who turned into a gunfighter just to live, and the final shock…rescued as he stood before a firing squad.

Yet Johnny never felt sorry for himself, never made excuses, and lived life with such gusto.  Johnny had a wonderful sense of humor, loyal to a fault, and a unique code of ethics.  Yes…his little brother was an amazing man.

When Scott was finally able to speak he looked at Murdoch, “You know what Johnny would say?”

C’est la vie

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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Could Only Happen To Johnny

After reading Jennifer’s One Night Only and, after I stopped laughing this little story popped in my mind.  The result is Jennifer’s fault (in a good way) and if you like it thank Jennifer for her inspiration.

Word count: 465

Johnny tied Barranca to the hitching rail and headed into the Widow Hargis’ store.  He pulled the lists from Murdoch and Teresa out of his pocket and called out, “Anybody here?”

That was when he felt an object smack the back of his head and as he fell everything went black.

Johnny slowly became aware but kept his eyes closed and tried to figure where he was, an old trick that saved him in the past.  He noticed a sweet, heavy smell, like some of the perfume the old ladies wore.  Next he noticed he was in a bed, a really soft bed, and…Dios…he was tied hands and feet to the bedposts.  Johnny tried to stay calm and cracked his eyes to peek around the room.  The wallpaper was covered with flowers, the windows had lacy curtains, and there were little statues on every surface.

Suddenly he realized he was naked, tied to a bed, and no idea where he was or who did this to him.  Okay, stay calm Madrid and figure out how to get out of this.  Then he heard a creak and looked toward the door, there sat the Widow Hargis slowly rocking in her chair and starring at him.  He was more than a little shocked at the predatory look in the old lady’s eyes.  Okay this can’t be good he thought as he tugged at the ropes binding his hands.

She smiled at him, he considered it more of a leer.   The Widow rose and walked toward him, she was, well he wasn’t sure what.  Then she sat on the bed close enough that her bony hip touched his muscular one.

Johnny continued to try to twist loose but she had tied him good and there was no getting away.

When he started to talk she put her finger to his lips and shook her head.

Then she lowered her hand to his chest and rubbed small circles, all the time her hand moved lower and lower until…

“NOOOOOO……..” Johnny yelled and fought to ropes tying him to the bed.

****

Sam tried to keep his patient in bed but Johnny was stronger.

The door burst open and Scott rushed to his brother’s bed, “Johnny, Johnny, it’s okay, just a nightmare.”  Scott held Johnny’s shoulders to keep his injured brother in bed. 

Sam nodded his thanks.

Just then another bang as Murdoch rushed in from his room, “What happened?”

“It’s okay Murdoch he had a nightmare.  At least his fever is down.” Sam said as he placed a damp cloth on Johnny’s head.

Scott sat beside his brother, “What was it about, you sounded terrified.”

Johnny removed the cloth from his head and took a deep breath, “I don’t want to talk about it… it was awful.”

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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(The) Experiment – Missing Scene

Missing scene for The Experiment or the scene I wish had been in the episode. Billy’s thoughts as he walks back to the shack after talking to Johnny at the well. Murdoch and Billy have time to talk.

Word count: 370

Billy’s thoughts were in turmoil as he slowly walked from the well to the shack.

Everything, Lancer had said everything, but it hadn’t made sense at the time. Billy had wondered what could Madrid have to do with an important man like Lancer.

Well he understood now, hell Madrid was the old man’s son.

Maybe Lancer did want to help. Johnny had said Lancer was probably here ‘cause of him. Trying to keep in on the straight and narrow. Billy grinned at the thought and wondered. Did Lancer see Billy like he saw Johnny?

When he got back to the shack Billy hesitated at the door and stared at Lancer, was this man really a key to a better life? For all of them?

Murdoch looked up when he heard someone approach and was surprised to see that it was Billy.

“Damn Lancer, your kid is Johnny Madrid.” Billy said and shook his head as he entered the shack.

Murdoch nodded. “How do you know? Did you know him on the border?”

“Nope, I met him down at the well. We talked and he said you saved him. Is that why you’re doing all this?” He waved his hand toward Ox’s garden.

“Yes.” Murdoch whispered. He wasn’t sure what had happened between Billy and Johnny, and wondered why Johnny was still here instead of back home as Murdoch had ordered. He was going to have a serious discussion about following orders with a certain son.

“What happened, how did your kid turn into Johnny Madrid?”

“His story was like your story.” Murdoch sighed, “I hunted for many years but never found him. Finally last year…” The hurt was obvious in the older man’s voice. “He didn’t have anyone but himself for protection so Madrid was born.”

“He said you saved him. Do you really think you can save us?” Billy wanted to believe it might be true.

“Yes Billy, I believe there is a chance for a better future. If I have learned anything from Johnny, it’s that a person can change if they want to.”

Billy nodded his head and started to untie the older man. Maybe he did have a chance. Maybe they all did.

Then a shot rang out.

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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Family Portrait

For the Lancer Writers June 2012 Challenge: From the Outside. Has a related story Stranded

Word count: 525

“I am so nervous, I don’t know why, this is silly.  All right Samantha, just calm down, take a deep breath you will be fine.”  She continued to wring her hands while she talked to herself. “Murdoch and Scott were very kind and seemed very happy with the painting so far.”  She looked at the portrait and the empty spot reserved for the younger son.

Samantha looked out her window, the Lancers would be here soon, and she would finally meet ‘him’.  Mayor Higgs was so adamant about Murdoch’s younger son, Johnny, and to be very careful when around the gunfighter.  “Okay, but I won’t be alone, he will be with his family.”  She flexed her fingers and picked up a paint brush.

California is so big and wild compared to Atlanta, but it is also so very beautiful.  Most of the people in Green River had been kind to the transplanted Southerner, even the transplanted Yankee Scott Lancer had been polite.  She had been concerned at first when she learned that Scott fought in the war and was in a Confederate prison but he was a gentleman and talk of the war was avoided. 

Well, now it was time to meet Johnny.  She put the paint brush down before her nervous fingers broke it.  Johnny was on some stock buying trip so she would be adding him to the painting when he returned, now he was home and she was a nervous wreck. 

When Mayor Higgs gave her a book about Johnny Madrid and insisted she read it, she was shocked.  Now Samantha was not sure she wanted to finish this painting. 

She never met a gunfighter before and according to the Mayor and that awful book, Johnny Madrid is a legend and dangerous.  Samantha nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the knock at the door.  “Get a grip, you’re not a silly child afraid of the bogey man.”

Samantha opened the door and faced the mountain of a man that was Murdoch Lancer.  “Good morning Mr. Lancer, please come in.”

“Good morning, Samantha.”  He reached around a pulled a dark haired man into the doorway, “I’d like you to meet my younger son, Johnny.”

****

Samantha faced the finished portrait, and thought about what it meant.  It was a loving family, a man content with his life now that his sons were home.  The way the boys each rested a hand on their father’s shoulders, like they wanted a visible connection. 

The gunfighter she so feared turned out to be the exact opposite of what she expected.  He was a gentlemen but in a rustic way not like the refined manner of Scott.  She loved listening to the brothers banter while she painted.  Thankful that she was blocked by the canvas she laughed when Murdoch would tell the boys to calm down.  The easy comfort she felt with the three men was amazing.

The Lancers were a family, and like all families they laughed, argued, teased, and most importantly they loved. 

Samantha hoped she had captured that in the portrait.

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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It’s Not Easy Being A Father

Word count: 625

Murdoch sat at his desk working on the ledgers when he heard his younger son scream.  As his hand jerked the inkwell tipped over spilling ink across the page, it ran down the desk, and onto his pants.  No time to worry about it now as he rushed to the patio.

Outside a four-year old was screaming and fighting his big brother who was trying to calm the very upset boy.  “Calm down Johnny, it’s okay, don’t cry.”  Scott wanted to strangle the screaming, wiggling, very annoying pest that was his baby brother.

Murdoch ran through the French doors and bellowed, “What is going on here?”

Both boys jumped at the loud voice.   Johnny stopped crying and stood still while Scott backed up and dropped his hands to his side. 

Johnny hiccuped and pointed to Scott, “Scott fault.”

Murdoch rubbed his face, fatherhood was not easy, “What’s Scott’s fault?” Murdoch asked the upset boy.

Johnny pointed to the ground.  Murdoch looked down and saw the squashed remains of a worm.  He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the story concerning the dead bait.

Johnny was sniffing and Scott was scuffing his foot in the dirt. 

“Well.” Murdoch wasn’t yelling but was very close to it.  “What’s going on?”

“Scott kilt worm.” Johnny accused his older brother. “Kilt him dead.”

“Johnny worms aren’t pets. What were you going to do with it?”  Murdoch was trying to figure out what his younger son would want with a worm.

“Not pet, gonna give it mamacita’s chickens to play so like me not peck me.” Johnny explained.

“Pa, I tried to stop him because the chickens could hurt him.” Scott was trying not to cry, since he was afraid he might be in trouble.

Murdoch put his arm around Scott’s shoulders.  “It’s okay son you did the right thing, Johnny could have been hurt.”

Scott relaxed and looked toward Johnny.  “I didn’t want you to get hurt, I didn’t mean to hurt the worm.”

Murdoch took a deep breath, “Johnny if you give a worm to a chicken the chicken will kill the worm and eat it.  So son it doesn’t matter if the worm is dead.”  Murdoch realized this was probably the wrong thing to say when Johnny started to tear-up again.

“WAAAAAAAAAAA Johnny not want worm kilt.”  He wiped his runny nose on his shirt sleeve.

Murdoch picked up Johnny and carried him to the bath house with Scott following behind his father.

“You boys need to get cleaned up and we’ll go see if Maria has some cookies.” Murdoch filled the tub with warm water.  Scott undressed and climbed in while Murdoch helped Johnny undress then lifted the boy into the tub.

After they were scrubbed and in clean clothes they headed for the kitchen.

Johnny pulled on his father’s hand.

“Wait Papa.” Johnny stopped and tried to pull free from his father.

“Johnny, what’s wrong now?”  Murdoch hoped this wouldn’t involve another bath.

“What about worm?” Johnny asked, “Gotta bury it?”

Murdoch and Scott looked at each other and shrugged, might as well go along with it because Johnny wouldn’t give up.

The three Lancers went back to the patio to bury the worm but when they got to the patio the body was missing.

“Where worm go?”  Johnny was looking around for the thief but all he saw were mamacita’s chickens.

Murdoch and Scott just smiled at each other.  Murdoch went to Johnny and took his hand, “Well son maybe the worm wasn’t dead after all and it crawled to safety.”

Relieved that his worm was safe Johnny took his father’s hand, “Okay.”

Murdoch took his boys to the kitchen and the three of them filled up  on mamacita’s cookies and milk.

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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Let Me Tell Y’All What Happened (Jelly’s Story)

October 31 is National Caramel Apple Day. Although this wasn’t invented until the 1950s I am going to play fast and loose with history.

Word count: 805

Well, y’all know Johnny Lancer jest can’t seem to git outta the way of trouble. It don’t matter none the boy’s gotta good heart its jest some’a his plans go all wrong.

I’m here to tell ya, this here plan just went all kinds’a wrong on the boy.

It all started when he met this here feller in Green River. He was some travelin’ seller, all dressed up fancy like but not as pretty as Scott. Ya know… okay, okay I’ll git back to the telliin’.

He was tellin’ Johnny ‘bout this candy apple thing he tasted at a circus. Y’all can see how Johnny might be findin’ this real interestin’. Yep, he sure ‘nough did.

So here’s what happened.

*****

Scott brung Teresa some fancy caramels from San Francisco whilst he was there for Murdoch. Scott’s one of them fellers always doing nice things for folks and…  Yeah, yeah I know back to the tellin’.

She gave Johnny and me each a piece, it was real tasty. Teresa’s real good about sharin’.

Anyhow, those there caramels were jest what Johnny needed, so he plum forgot about Murdoch’s telling him to stay outta other people’s room. Yep, he snuck in her room and took ‘em. Then, still bein’ stupid, he figured her knittin’ needle would be jest as good as some ol’ stick. 

Sometimes that boy don’t have no sense, he jest… Okay… 

Next he needed a pot fer meltin’ the candy. Yep, ya guested it, he took one’a Maria’s pots off’a the stove. He was plum lucky Maria was in her garden ‘cuss she would’a put a hurtin’ to his backside. 

Now he knew he could’t be cookin’ no candy with Maria ‘round so he gets ta thinkin’ and comes up with using the heater in the bath house. 

Johnny peeked outta the kitchen door, checkin’ for any pryin’ eyes, all clear he hotfooted it across the yard. In the bath house he poured all that candy in the pot and put a match ta the heater.  Whilst he’s a waitin’ he poked that knittin’ needle in ta the apple. 

When that candy commenced bublin’ up ol’ Johnny figured that means its time ta dip the apple. Well, there ain’t ‘nough candy to cover the apple so he grabbed the pot handle ta try pourin’ it over the apple. Yep, ya guested it. The handle was hot and Johnny dropped the pot and all that melted candy went all over the heater. Damn if’n it did’t catch fire. 

Not thinkin’ straight, Johnny grabbed a towel ta try puttin’ out the fire. Ya know that melted candy stuck to everthin’ includin’ Johnny and the towel. When he backed up ta keep from gittin’ burned he knocked the water barrel over. That water hissed like a bunch’a snakes when it hit the fire.

Out in the yard Teresa was caterwauling to Murdoch and Scott ‘bout someone bein’ in her room and candy bein’ missin’. Then Maria showed up wavin’ that spoon of her’s and talking real fast in Spanish. I knew Johnny was in a heap of trouble.

Then real sudden like they all got quiet when smoke started comin’ outta the bath house. 

Everbody ran ta see what was happenin’. Ol Murdoch and Scott grabbed some buckets an’ filled em up at the trough. When they got ta the door there stood Johnny all singed like an’ lookin’ real guilty. Didn’t help him none that he was holdin’ the knittin’ needle with the apple stuck on it in one hand an’ Maria’s pot in his other hand. 

All hell broke loose, Teresa commenced ta cryin’, Maria was wavin’ that spoon under Johnny’s nose an’ scoldin’ him in words I was real glad I did’t know. Murdoch was turnin’ all red then finally told everbody to hush up and leave ‘em alone. Scott was tryin’ not to laugh but left ‘fore his pappy turned on him. 

Ol’ Murdoch pushed Johnny back in ta the bath house and slammed the door. Don’t think nobody on Lancer or the whole dang valley missed a word Murdoch yelled. Heck, I ‘spected… well best watch my words with ladies around.

Have ta say I was feelin’ mighty bad fer the boy. 

When Murdoch was done with him, Scott an’ me helped Johnny make the repairs. We even let Johnny take the first bath bein’ as he was in the most need’a one after all the mess.

Now that all the commotion was over with Scott talked Murdoch in ta lettin’ him teach Johnny how to carve a Jack ‘O Lantern. He was telin’ how Halloween bein’ only a few days off it could’a keep Johnny outta trouble. ‘Specially since there would’t be no cooking.

Turned out Johnny done a right fine job on his pumpkin.

Happy Halloween y’all, 

Jelly
October 31, 1871

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PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email EJ directly.

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Listening To My Sons

Word count: 650

After what seemed like hours pouring over the ledgers Murdoch needed a break.  He decided a ride might invigorate him so he headed for the barn but stopped outside the door when he heard the laughter.  Lancer had been too quiet for too many years but now his son’s were home where they belonged.  He smiled to himself.  Quiet was now a thing of the past.  Murdoch had to admit he enjoyed hearing his sons laugh and tease each other.  While he stayed out of sight and leaned against the barn wall, he heard Johnny tease his brother about wearing boring clothes.  This conversation should be interesting.

“I tell what Boston ya need to add some color to your wardrobe, all that beige makes you blend into to the background.”  Johnny chuckled.

Scott used his best big-brother voice, “Well Johnny, it’s like this, the ladies like a well-dressed and refined gentleman.  And your more flamboyant style…” at this Scott waved his hand toward Johnny’s shirt, “is sometimes overwhelming.”

“Did you just insult me big brother?” Johnny drawled.

Scott adopted a diplomatic tone of voice, “No, it’s just sometimes you should consider dressing down.  I admit this blue shirt isn’t quite as…bright…as your pink one.”

Murdoch noticed that Scott’s voice contained a slight smirk when he said pink. He wanted to laugh at his older son’s comment but controlled it because this was one conversation he wanted to hear.
Anyone who might be watching would be amazed at the big smile on Murdoch’s face.

Johnny laughed, “Well Boston I’ll tell ya, I guess ya could call it dressing down when I shuck my clothes for an evening with the gals at the saloon.”    Then on a more ‘put out’ tone and a world-class pout, “And it aint pink it’s red, just faded a bit.”

Murdoch wasn’t surprised about Johnny and the saloons girls but he did hope Johnny was being careful.  Well that was a talk for later right now he didn’t want to interrupt his boys’ bantering.  This was a great opportunity to learn a little more about Scott and Johnny and some of their activities off Lancer. 

Scott huffed, “That is not dressing down Johnny, that’s undressing.” 

Both boys laughed.   Murdoch struggled to hold back his laughter, he didn’t want to give it away that he was listening.

“Tell ya what Boston, aint had no complaints from the ladies,” Johnny giggled, “They like my tight pants.”  He patted his ass.

“Yes they do brother,” Scott giggled, “I’ve seen the looks they give you when you walk past them.  Even heard more than one girl comment about your posterior.”

“My what?”  Johnny sounded indignant.

“Your ass, little brother.”  Scott chuckled. 

Murdoch was a little shocked that certain women were looking at his son’s butt. 

Johnny snickered, “Yeah I heard ‘em too.”

Murdoch heard what sounded like a playful punch then more laughter.

“Hey Boston I heard one of those gals tellin’ her friend that Scott Lancer has a nice ass too.”  Johnny laughter got louder then muffled as Scott put him in a choke hold.

“Little brother I need to teach you a lesson about respect.”

Murdoch heard what sounded like playful wrestling and then exhausted laughter.  He waited hoping they would start up again.

Then he heard Johnny’s soft drawl, “Hey Boston, I do respect you.”

Then Scott’s voice just as softly, “I know Johnny, and I respect you too.”

Murdoch decided not to interrupt this moment of brotherly bonding.  It was enough that he was able to hear it, best that the boys felt they had some privacy.   Instead he walked back to the hacienda, his heart lighter and any weariness he had felt earlier was gone.  In the great room he poured a scotch and sat in his large leather chair, his life was good. And best of all…

He loved hearing his sons laugh.

April 2012

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(A) Long Night

Word count: 470

He looked at the young man lying on the bed then gently brushed the dark hair off the fevered brow.  It was going to be a long night.

He remembered Johnny as a toddler who brought so much laughter and happiness to the hacienda, but that turned to tears and sorrow when the boy and Maria disappeared.  He thought about all the years of hunting, all the disappointments, and that awful day.  The day the report arrived with the news about Madrid.  Now both sons were home and they were slowly becoming a family, finally.

It hadn’t been easy to make them a family after all the years apart.  There had been problems and numerous fights; they were mostly trigger by the doubts about Madrid.  He knew Johnny had tried to walk away from the world of the gunfighter but someone from the past would show up or some young punk wanting a reputation.  Then the fights would start and Johnny either left or was sent away for a few days.  ‘Why did it have to be so hard?’

Johnny seemed to be a magnet for trouble.  How many times had he sat by this bed tending a sick or injured Johnny?  When he was asleep all signs of Madrid disappeared and in his place was a boy, a boy who should never been forced into a life of poverty and abuse.  It never ceased to amaze him that Johnny had lived through hell but still managed to come out a decent and honorable man.  A son to be proud of, the question was, was he?

A soft moan brought his attention back to Johnny, he reached over and felt his forehead.  The fever had finally broken.  He looked out the window and noticed the soft light of dawn over Johnny’s mountain.

The bedroom door opened and a deep voice, full of concern, asked, “How’s he doing?”  He walked over to the bed and lightly touched Johnny’s shoulder, “He doesn’t feel hot anymore.”  Relieved the ordeal was over he reached up and ran his fingers through the silky dark hair.

“Better, the fever broke now he’s just sleeping.” He stood up and stretched.  They both laughed at the cracking sounds, “My old bones…”

“I know how you feel old friend.” he put his arm over the other man’s shoulder, “Come on Maria has breakfast ready.  You look like you could use some coffee.”

At the door the Murdoch turned and looked at Johnny who was now sleeping peacefully.  He had been so afraid he would lose his son, again.  He turned back to his friend.  The friend who sat up all night tending his sick son, the friend who would protect his son, the man he trusted with his life and the lives of his sons.

“Thanks Sam.”

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Lost Boy

Word count: 715

The sun had set and the night air was turning cold. The boy shivered as he worked his way through the trees, and hoped he could find a warm place to sleep. He finally gave up and sat under a tree, he drew his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his knees. Exhausted, he looked up at the sky then sighed and lowered his head to rest on his knees.

The boy’s head came up suddenly, what was that, that smell? He looked around and found the smell again. It was a fire and maybe bacon, maybe someone was camped near by. He got up and followed the smell of bacon, and then he saw it. A small stable, a line shack, and there was smoke coming out of the chimney.

Someone was in there so the boy snuck up to the window and peeked in. An old man was standing at the stove cooking something and there on the table was – the bacon.

His mouth was watering and he was trying to figure a way to get the old man out of the shack. He looked around and then picked up some stones and tossed them toward the stable.

Inside the old man heard the noise and went out to check on the horses.

The boy waited till the old man went into the stable and darted into the shack and grabbed the bacon. He was almost out the door to safety when the old man walked in and caught him.

“Well, well, whatcha doin’ young un?” He saw the bacon clutched in the boy’s dirty hand. “Are ya hungry, boy?” The old man asked.

“Yes sir, ain’t had nothing to eat for a couple days.” He looked down at the bacon in his hands and put the meat back on the table. He kept his head down and waited, he hoped the old man wasn’t going to beat him. That’s what usually happened when he got caught stealing food. He tried to hide his fear but was sure the old man him tremble.

“Name’s Jelly and this here is Lancer Ranch. Sit yer self down, nuf food for the both of us.” Jelly smiled and motioned for the boy to sit.

He moved slowly to the chair and sat down. “Aren’t ya gonna hit me for trying to steal your food?” He was still nervous but the old man didn’t seem threatening.

Jelly shook his head, “Naw, ain’t gonna be hittin’ on ya.” This kid reminded him of some of his boys, the ones who now had safe homes and people who loved them. This one also reminded him of Johnny with his dark hair, blue eyes, and his haunted look.
“What’s yer name boy?” Jelly asked as he dished out the food.

“Billy.” He answered as his stomach growled. Billy kept his head down as he tried to calm himself.

“Eat up young un.” Jelly smiled as he watched the boy shovel in the food. He kept smiling at the boy, he didn’t like to see the fear the boy was trying to hide.

When the boy came up for air Jelly asked him, “How old ya be boy?”

“Don’t know exactly, think ‘bout sixteen.” He looked up as he answered then took a long drink from the cup of the water Jelly gave him.

Jelly rubbed his chin, “Where ya headed Billy?”

“Nowhere in particular, just movin’ on.” Billy thought the old man asked a lot of questions, but like him just the same and lost some of the fear.

“Well how ‘bout ya come along to Lancer with me, I could be usin’ some help. Mr. Lancer is a good man to work fer.”

“He be willing to take me on, don’t know much about ranching.” Billy lowered his head to his chest and wrapped his arms around himself. “Been in a orphanage, just ran away.” He took a breath and confessed, “I been in trouble too for stealing food.”

The boy reminded Jelly of Johnny, they both bowed their heads and wrapped their arms around their chests for protection. It made him wonder what else this boy had suffered so far.

Jelly knew this boy needed saving just like another lost boy did a year ago.

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My Brother Is Not Disreputable!

(A challenge idea from Janet Brayden)  Finally had an idea for this as a drabble.

Word count: 185

“He is.”

“No, he is not.”

“How can you say that?  You know who and what he is.”

“And…your opinion is based on what?”

“His reputation.  What else do I need to know?”

“You need to know that he is an honorable man, and he is always willing to help anyone who needs help.”

Mayor Higgs shakes his head.

“Seems I remember my brother and Val saved your town from being robbed.  You and the other upstanding business men threw my brother to the wolves because you were taken in by lies and flattery.”

“Well…we were all taken in…” Mayor Higgs stumbled over his words.

“Yes your were.  And I might add, by a man that you and the others in town all believed was an honorable man.  So Mayor Higgs what does that say about your ability to judge who is and who isn’t an asset to the community?”

“How dare you.”

“Yes, I dare.”  Scott glared at the smaller man.  Then he laughed.

Mayor Higgs blanched when he heard Scott’s parting words.

“Wonder how Johnny Madrid would feel about Johnny Lancer being called disreputable?”

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My Son’s Smile

Word count: 120

Murdoch sat in front of the fire and thought about Johnny.  He loved his little boy.  The little boy who had the sweetest smile in the world, his world at least.  Every time that smile was aimed his way, Murdoch thought his heart would burst.

Well his heart was bursting now, but not because of Johnny’s smile.  It was broken, broken into a million pieces.  His son was no longer sleeping safely in his own bed upstairs.   

Johnny was gone and Murdoch felt like he couldn’t breathe.

Maria had taken his son, left without a word, why?  If she wanted to leave, why take Johnny?   

Murdoch bowed his head and cried.

Johnny’s smile was his light and now that light was gone.

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My Wild Son

Word count: 670

Murdoch looked down at his sleeping son, he looked so young, “but he is so young.” the distraught father whispered.

‘Why do I let myself see Madrid when I’m upset with Johnny, he is so much more than a gunfighter.  He is working so hard to put his past in the past but I’m the one who can’t seem to let go.’  Murdoch sat by the bed and watched his son sleep.  Shaking his head, why am I afraid to  tell him how much I love him.

Sam had to operate to remove the two bullets, one in his son’s side and the other in his left arm.  It had been a long and painful trip back to Lancer and Sam had insisted Johnny take the laudanum before heading home.  Murdoch smiled as he remembered Sam with hands on his hips and a determined scowl on his face as he stood over Johnny until the drug was swallowed.  The Madrid glare didn’t work on the good doctor, Murdoch chuckled at the memory.

His son was hurt, again.  This time he was shot helping Val stop a bank robbery and the surviving outlaws were in jail.  He was proud of his son for stepping in when the rest of the men in town hid, but that was Johnny always there for a friend or someone in need.

Murdoch took Johnny’s hand in his and stroked his son’s long fingers, he marveled at the graceful but strong hand.  The hand that handled a gun with such deadly accuracy yet that same hand had gentled a wild horse, wiped the tears from Teresa’s cheek when her favorite hen died, and playfully wrestled with his brother.  That same hand had gently wiped the blood away from his own face when Johnny found him on the barn floor after a run-in with a bale of hay.

A moan from the bed drew Murdoch from his daydreaming, “Son?”  He leaned over and pushed the hair from the sweaty forehead, “Wake up Johnny, you’re home, safe.”

Johnny slowly opened his eyes and whispered, “Hey Murdoch, you okay?”

“Yes Johnny I’m fine, but you’re the one hurt, how do you feel?”  Murdoch smiled, “And please don’t tell me you’re fine.”

“Okay, I ain’t fine, hurt like hell.  Thirsty.”  He tried to sit up but Murdoch reached out and held him down.

“Stay down, son, if you rip out any stitches Sam will have your hide.”  Murdoch was relieved that Johnny obeyed and reached over for the glass of water on the bedside table and held it to Johnny’s lips.

“Thanks Murdoch.”

“Try to rest, do you need some more…”  Murdoch didn’t finish the sentence when he saw Johnny’s frown, the boy hated losing control.  “Okay no medicine but you will have to drink Maria’s tea.”

“Yeah, okay, ya know that stuff tastes like sh…bad.” Johnny caught himself.

Murdoch chuckled at Johnny, “I know son but it helps, your fever is down.”

“What’s wrong Murdoch?”  Johnny watched his father.

How does he do that Murdoch wondered, his son was too good at reading people.

“Come on ol’ man, what did I do wrong this time?”  Johnny wanted to get the argument over with, he hated having it hang over his head.

“Johnny you didn’t do anything wrong, you and Val saved the bank money while the rest of the men stayed behind closed doors. I am proud of you for helping Val.”  Murdoch hoped his pride was evident in his voice.

“You are?” Johnny didn’t know how to accept that statement.

“Yes son, I am very proud of you.  I know I haven’t told you, I’m not very good at expressing my feelings but…” Murdoch swallowed.  “I want you to know how much it means to me to have you home.  All those lonely years, I never got to tell you…” Murdoch looked into his son’s eyes, “I love you Johnny, I always have and I always will, son.”  At last he said it and it felt wonderful.

Johnny was stunned but he couldn’t believe how good it felt hearing those words from his father.

“Well ol’ man…”  Johnny smiled at Murdoch, “I love you too, Papi.”

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(A) New Taste Experience

January holidays and observances: January 19 is Popcorn Day

Word count: 505

Scott unwrapped the package that had just arrived from San Francisco. He was savoring every moment as his audience watched in anticipation, especially his younger brother.

Still on a high from Christmas, Johnny couldn’t hold back his curiosity any longer. “Scott, hurry up.”

A few moments later the empty box laid abandoned on the floor while a grinning Scott proudly held up the odd contraption. 

“What is it?” Johnny was clearly not impressed.

“It’s called a corn popper. First, you place the kernels in this basket,” Scott pointed to the fine wire mesh. “Second, your shake it over the fire,” he made a shaking motion. “Then you have a wonderful treat called popcorn.”

Earlier, Scott had told Murdoch about his plan when the surprise package had failed to arrive for Christmas. He had hoped to add popcorn to the cranberry garland on the family tree. However, the best laid plans were foiled by bad weather.

Johnny leaned toward his father and whispered, “Ya ever heard of such a thing?”

Murdoch chuckled and patted his younger son’s shoulder, “Yes, Son, I have and you are going to like it.”

Johnny still doubted the thing was going to work, but the expressions on his father’s and big brother’s faces compelled him to go along with the crazy idea. “Okay,” He shrugged, obviously he was still not convinced.

Scott accepted the shucked corn from the bowl that Teresa held out to him. He dropped a handful of the kernels into the basket and closed the lid, then he held it over the fire. When the popping started, Scott gently shook the basket until the popping stopped. 

Murdoch held out a large bowl while Scott emptied the corn from the basket. At the same time Teresa leaned down and picked up the pan sitting on the ledge next to the flame. When Murdoch held the bowl out to her; she quickly poured the melted butter over the popped corn. 

Once everything was ready three satisfied faces beamed at their creation. They turned to face a doubting Johnny who had been carefully watching all the activity. 

“What?” Johnny wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do with the bowl being held out to him.

“Taste it.” Scott grinned at the wary expression on his brother’s face. “You will like it.” He shook the bowl as he pushed it closer to Johnny, “Trust me.”

“Yeah?” A hesitant Johnny reached in the bowl and tentatively picked out a few of the white fluffy things and popped them in his mouth. Surprised, he licked the butter from his fingers. “Damn that’s good.”

“Language, Johnny,” Murdoch couldn’t kept the humor from his voice. He found so much enjoyment watching his younger son experience new things. 

Relived that Scott’s plan had worked so well, Murdoch went to the drinks cart and poured a scotch. He took a sip then moved to his favorite leather chair.

A contented Murdoch sighed as he watched his children enjoy the simple pleasure of sharing a bowl of popcorn.

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Quiet Moments Bring on Memories

February 2013 : For the ‘Memory’ Challenge on Lancer Writers.I just wanted Johnny to have some good memories. EJ

Word count: 620

It was a sunny day but the breeze kept it from being uncomfortable and Johnny sat under a tree enjoying the apple Teresa packed for his dessert. He had a few minutes rest before finishing the fence line repairs.  “Got to keep the ol’ man happy,” he called to Barranca, “and no you can’t have my apple.” 

With a full stomach and the sound of the breeze through the leaves, Johnny stretched out under the tree, closed his eyes, and remembered another day such as this one.

******

In his mind’s eye he saw the usual poor village found all over Mexico.  It was filled with peons who had long ago given up on anything better, government soldiers who pillaged what little the villagers had left, and of course the occasional pistolero.

Johnny loved watching the pistoleros and hoped to be one when he grew up. Then he could protect his mama, and the villagers would stop being mean to her.

Johnny was running down the dusty street followed by two bigger boys.  He ducked between the cantina and the store, he stopped and leaned against the cantina wall trying to catch his breath.  When the coast was clear he headed for home. 
He saw her standing in front of the shack, her shiny black hair glimmered in the sunlight and the breeze blew the long strands in her eyes.  When she saw him, she smiled and held out her arms for him.  He wished he could cover the bruises on his arms and face because it always made her sad.  When he got to her she hugged him and kissed his head.  He like it when she hugged him.

“Te amo mi hijo.”  She turned him toward the shack they lived in and pointed to a basket and blanket by the door.

“A picnic.”  He bounced on his toes and ran over to pick up the basket.

Maria picked up the blanket and took Johnny’s free hand and together they walked to the stream west of the shack, it was their favorite spot.  Johnny sat the basket down and helped his mother spread the blanket under the tree, when she knelt he handed her the basket.  He was so excited and hoped that his mother’s wonderful tamales were part of the picnic.

Maria smiled when she heard his stomach growl, “Are you hungry mi hijo?”

“Si mama,” he relied as he tried to peek around her.  His face lit up when she handed him a tamale, “Gracias mama.”

It was a sunny day but the breeze kept it from being uncomfortable so after lunch Johnny played in the stream.  The cool water felt so good and he wished mama would swim with him.  He looked toward her, she was sitting under the tree watching him, he waved.   

It was a perfect day, just him and mama.  When he caught a frog he held up his catch.  She laughed and motioned for him to come to her.  He released the frog since mama wasn’t fond of the slimy things and ran to her.

When he sat on the blanket she pulled him into her arms and sang to him while running her fingers through his sweaty hair.  Johnny felt so safe and loved when in his mother’s arms, he wished this day would never end.

******

Johnny smiled, not all of his memories of Maria were sad and he truly missed her.  Shaking his head he stood and stretched out the kinks then tossed the apple core to Barranca, “Well boy best get busy before the ol’ man comes checking on me.”

He looked up at the clear blue sky, yep it sure was a nice day.

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Santa Knows If You’ve Been Good Or Bad

Word count: 555

The Lancer cook/housekeeper stood in the kitchen, arms crossed over her ample bosom, right foot tapping on the tile floor, and an angry scowl on her face. Maria finally had had it chasing the cookie thief from her kitchen. Facing the irate woman the guilty party with his hands raised cautiously backed away from the impending danger.

“Stop right where you are, niño.” Maria lowered her hands and pulled the wooden spoon from her apron pocket as she advanced on her prey. 

Johnny jumped at the raised voice directed at him. “Look… I just…” He stopped when she smacked her hand with the spoon. “Lo siento Mamacita.” His poor, little boy expression had always worked in the past.  

However, this time Mamacita wasn’t buying it and smacked her hand with each step she took toward the guilty party. She snickered when he gave up the ruse and started backing away in a further attempt to protect his backside.

Murdoch and Scott had been relaxing with drinks in the Great Room when they heard Maria’s raised voice. They faced each other, shrugged, and rushed toward the kitchen to rescue Johnny. Skidding to a stop, they saw him pinned against the kitchen table with Maria waving her wooden spoon under his nose and scolding in rapid Spanish.

Shooting a pleading look toward his father, Johnny was hoping for rescue. But seeing the expression on Murdoch’s face he knew he was in trouble, just not sure where it would come from this time.

Trying to keep the situation from escalating, Murdoch cautiously stepped to Maria’s side and gently took the dreaded weapon from her hand. “Maria, I think we should leave his punishment to Santa Claus.”

Maria relaxed her stance and relinquished her weapon. “Sí Patrón.” She backed away from her prisoner, wiped her hands on her apron, and returned to the oven to retrieve another batch of cookies. After setting the tray on the counter she called out one last warning, “Papá Noel will know to deal with your stealing.”

Murdoch and Scott didn’t even try to hide their humor at Johnny’s shocked expression. It didn’t help that he was still against the table and his mouth was hanging open.

After calm was once again reigned in the kitchen, both men decided it was  safe to finish their drinks, so they headed for the Great Room. Unable to resist getting one last gotcha, Scott stopped at the kitchen door, “Johnny,” He waited for his brother to look at him. Little brother was still leaning against the table and was aiming a world-class pout toward his smiling Mamacita. 

“Yeah?” Johnny was going into Madrid mode when he looked over his shoulder at big brother. Obviously still smarting from being ganged up on.

Scott just laughed, “That look doesn’t work on me.” He sobered and in his best Lt. Lancer voice, “You better hope Santa doesn’t send Krampus after you.” Then he ducked though the door before his little brother could get to him, but he did hear…

“Hey Scott, wait, who’s this Krampus fella?”

Murdoch shook his head and smiled at their antics. Reaching for his abandoned drink and returning to his leather chair, he sighed… so much for a peaceful first Christmas together. However, he could put up with the chaos because…

He loved having his sons home.

Merry Christmas, 2015!

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Scott’s Birthday Memories

For the Lancer Writers February 2013 ‘Memory’ Challenge. I especially want to thank Shelley Hunter for acting as a beta and for all her wonderful suggestions. I wanted a story about Scott that showed no matter how much money, creature comforts, or how safe the surroundings it doesn’t always mean happiness.

Word count: 610

Scott stood at his bedroom window and watched as his father listened to the hands report the day’s accomplishments.  In an hour the family would be at the supper table wishing him ‘Happy Birthday’, his first at Lancer.  He wasn’t sure how he felt about that, for years he had wished to celebrate the day with his father and now…

*******

The parlor was decorated with streamers, balloons, and a ‘Happy Birthday Scotty’ banner, the servants always went all out for his parties. One table was covered with candy, cookies, a huge cake, and the crystal punch bowl and cups.  The other table was piled with brightly wrapped packages.

Scott wasn’t sure who some of the children were, but he knew grandfather would expect him to be polite.  He greeted each guest and thanked them for the gifts.  

Scott was playing with two neighbor boys when he heard someone knock at the front door.  He looked into the entry way and saw the butler usher a really tall man into his grandfather’s study.  Lucy, his governess, had read him stories about giants but he had never seen one before.  

Lucy pulled him back to the party to finish the game with the other boys.  He kept peeking over his shoulder, he wanted to meet the giant but since the man was grandfather’s study there wasn’t much chance of that happening.

Scott wanted to open the presents, but the cake would not be cut or gifts opened until grandfather gave the word.  So he nibbled on a piece of candy and moved his checker.

When the game was over, Lucy came to him and said his grandfather wanted to see him.

Scott was scared and excited he was going to see the giant.  Grandfather didn’t approve of undignified behavior, so he tried to hid his eagerness and waited for the door to open.

Grandfather introduced the giant as a business acquaintance but they weren’t friendly. Scott looked up at the tall man and smiled, the giant smiled back and shook his hand.  Scott noticed how small his hand was against the giant’s but he didn’t feel afraid.

Before they could talk, grandfather gave Lucy the sign to take Scott back to the party.   He felt something when the giant looked at him, the man seemed sad, but grandfather had declared the meeting over.  He didn’t want to go but his grandfather frowned and Scott remembered that a gentleman doesn’t cause a fuss so he went. He couldn’t resist peeking over his shoulder when he was out in the hall, only to see his grandfather firmly close the door. That was the last time he ever saw the giant.

*******

The last time I ever saw him until five months ago. Well, now I know the truth, why I felt something when I saw the giant, that giant that was my father.  I wish I could forgive grandfather for cheating me, robbing me of my father.  I can’t, at least not yet. 

Now I am with my real family. I know Murdoch wanted me and always has, and he wants me to stay at Lancer.  My father suffered the loss of a wife and a son, he was left alone, but not anymore.  I want to can call him father and maybe one day I will.

*******

So here I sit with my father and brother waiting for Teresa to arrive with the cake. However, this year it is different, I want to be here and I’m going to show them just how special this celebration is to me.

I’m home-at last-and that’s the best birthday present I ever received.

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Scott Shares A Sweet Tooth

July 20 is National Lollipop Day

Word count: 670


“What’s in the box, Boston?” Johnny hovered over the mystery package while tugged at the string.

Scott had had enough, he nudged his annoying little brother out of his line of sight and snacked away the hand. “Well, if you would get out of the way I would show you.” Frustrated, he pulled the box away from his brother and tucked it under his arm.

“Aw come on Scott, I just-” Johnny tried unsuccessfully to grab the box. 

Scott skillfully avoided the pest and dashed for the kitchen, but slammed into his father who was coming through the same door. “Whoa Scott,” Murdoch grabbed at his son to keep him from falling.  

“Hold ‘em Murdoch.” 

“Alright boys, what’s all this ruckus about?” Murdoch released his older son.

“Aw Murdoch, Boston got a package and he ain’t sharing.” Johnny pouted as he pointed to the box under Scott’s arm.

“Well, Sir, if a certain little brother would wait till I could open it in front of the family…” Scott aimed his glare at the pest, “He would see the contents.” 

“Johnny, I think that request is reasonable-”

“Yeah, yeah, I hate when y’all start talking alike.” Johnny pushed past Scott and his father and plopped onto a kitchen chair. 

The two older men made no attempt to hide the humor they felt at the situation which only made the younger Lancer feel ganged up on. “Think y’all are funny don’t ya?” He crossed his arms over his chest and aimed a world-class pout at his taunters. 

“No son, but Scott did say he would open it when everyone is here.” Murdoch attempted to placate Johnny, but by the look on his son’s face he knew he failed.

“Yeah, but if we wait for Teresa to get back from Stockton it’ll be next week.” Even he could hear the whine in his voice.

“I wasn’t going to make you wait, but I wanted Murdoch to be included.”

“Yeah.” Johnny bowed his head and peeked at his father. “Sorry Murdoch, guess I…”

Murdoch patted Johnny’s hand, “That’s okay son, I’m curious myself.”

“Well, now that we are together and a certain someone,” Scott smirked, “has calmed down I believe it is time to open the surprise.”

“ ‘Bout time.” Johnny leaned in closer unable to control his enthusiasm. As the paper was discarded and the box lid removed, Johnny’s eyes all but bugged out. 

Murdoch smiled at his older son and mouthed, “Nice.”

“What is it?” Johnny tentatively reached out to touch the object.

Scott chuckled, “It won’t bite, but you might bite it.”

“Huh?”

“It’s a lollipop, I first encountered the confection on a trip to London.” Scott lifted the sweet from the box and help it up for his audience’s inspection.

“Boston, just tell me in plain English.” Johnny wasn’t sure if confection was good or bad.

“Its candy, Johnny, and it is very tasty.” Scott handed it to his brother. 

“Take it son, I’ve had this before and I am sure you will like it.” Murdoch loved watching Johnny experience new things. His boy had missed so much.

Johnny accepted the lollipop and turned it over him his hands; finally convinced it wouldn’t bite. “So how do ya eat this thing?”

“You lick it.” Scott made the motions of holding and licking the sugary treat.

“Yeah?” Johnny slowly raised it to his mouth and stuck out his tongue. The sweetness brought a smile to the doubting face. “Sure is good, Boston, but what are y’all eating?” He made no attempt to share.

Laughing, Scott pulled two more lollipops from the box. “I planned ahead,” he handed one to his father.

Three men sat in contentment enjoying their treats, “Very nice son, thank you.”

“Yeah, Boston, thanks, ya done good.” Johnny grinned ear to ear. Murdoch and Scott broke out in laughter.

“What?”

“Nothing, just glad you are enjoying yourself.” Scott recovered first.

Murdoch smiled and wondered what Madrid would do if he could see Johnny Lancer’s pink lips from the raspberry flavored lollipop.

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Showdown

Murdoch, Teresa, and Scott stood transfixed, they knew this would happen one day but it was still difficult to watch.  Murdoch wanted to protect his younger son but the former gunfighter had to handle the situation without his family’s help.  The three stood and waited for it to be over.

Johnny stood in his relaxed gunfighter pose, hat pulled down shading his eyes and his arms hanging loosely at his sides.  His opponent stood facing him feet shoulder width apart, a determined sneer, and hand at the ready to go for the weapon.  The pair stared at each other waiting for some sign of the first move.

Johnny waited but didn’t see any indication his opponent was going to give in, he really didn’t want this to turn into a fight, he just wanted…

The opponent saw Johnny wavering and smiled thinking the battle was won.

Suddenly it was over, it happened so quickly his family could hardly believe what they had seen.

Johnny was holding his right hand, he was obviously in pain. 

The opponent was smiling and smacking her spoon against her other palm, “I told you nino, stay away from the cookies, they are for the orphanage.”

December 2012
Just a little late for Janet’s National Cookie Day

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Sneak Thief

Word count: 215

Finally the house was quiet, well as quiet as possible with his father snoring loud enough to rattle the windows.

He peeked around his door, the coast was clear, so he tiptoed barefoot down the hallway to the stairs.  One last look over his bare shoulder then he mounted the banister and slid down.  He silently landed at the bottom of the stairway and looked up, still clear.

He had made it undetected and he chuckled as he continued toward his goal.

The kitchen was empty just as he expected so he headed for the icebox and removed the pitcher of milk, which he sat on the table.  Next he snuck into the pantry, there it was…the item that made life at Lancer worth all the hard work, all the arguments with his father, and putting up with his smart ass older brother…there it was…Maria’s five layer chocolate cake!

He reverently carried the cake to the table, cut a piece and took a big bite-he was in heaven.

The next morning Maria found the empty cake plate and the empty milk pitcher on the crump and icing covered kitchen table.

“Juanito” she growled.

Then she grabbed her spoon and smacked it against her hand while she waited for the guilty party to show up.

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St Patrick’s Day Party

Word count: 245

“Well, I guess we should get it over with, but remember this is all your fault.”

“What ya mean my fault, she’s mad at you too.”

“She would not, repeat not, be mad at me if it weren’t for your actions.”

“It wasn’t my fault, how many times I gotta tell ya that?”

“So you have said, numerous times.  I am guilty by the mere fact that I happen to be your older brother.  And that I unfortunately entered the scene at the worst possible moment.”

Johnny glared at his brother, “Yeah, and you only made it worse.”

“Let’s get it done and head home or the next person after our heads will be Murdoch.”

“Got that right, his temper is as big as him.  When he starts yellin’ ya can hear him all the way to Morro Coyo.”

“Only when he’s yelling at you little brother.”

“Uh, Scott, she’s lookin’ at us, and she looks really pissed.  Maybe we shoulda sent Teresa.”

“Murdoch said we had to apologize.  She does look very angry, maybe we should have given her more time to calm down.”

“Dios, Scott, it’s been a week ya woulda thought she be over it by now.”

“Ladies don’t ‘get over’ something like this in just a week.”

“Guess not, good thing I have my gun.”

“You can’t shoot her Johnny.”

“Why not, she looks like she wants to shoot me.”

“Well what do you expect, the Widow Hargis is still green.”

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Stunt Gone Wrong

For the November 2015 challenge where the prompt was:

Scott stared at Johnny in disbelief over the feat he’d just witnessed.  Johnny stared back, his expression equally stunned.

“Do you need a drink?” Scott asked.

“Yeah,” Johnny said.  “Maybe a few.”

“Me too, and if you ever do that again…” Scott took a deep breath and wiped his hand across his sweaty forehead. “Do you realize how frightened I was for you?”

“Hey, I knew what I was doing.” Johnny smirked but inside he was still shaking. The stunt hadn’t worked as he had planned and he might not have walked away this time.

“You actually think I believe you?” Big brother’s frown and clenched fists said it all.

Johnny bowed his head, “Sorry Scott.” He really meant it; he would never do anything to upset his brother. But he needed to get away and try to calm down without big brother nagging him.

“Sorry, that’s it?” Not ready to let Johnny off the hook and angry at the familiar bowed head, he stepped in front of his brother, “Well, let me tell you how sorry you will be if you…” he poked Johnny in the chest, “ever…” another poke, “do that again.” The last poke firm was enough to make, an angry Johnny take a step backwards.

Madrid struck like a snake and grabbed Scott’s wrist, “Don’t.” 

Caught off guard, Scott wisely didn’t try to pull away, not from Madrid. “I’m sorry Johnny, I… I was afraid I was going to lose you. That was such a dangerous stunt.” Cautiously waiting and holding his breath, he hoped Johnny Lancer would come back into the conversation.

Finally after a few tense moments Johnny shook his head and released Scott’s wrist. As he stormed off toward the barn, Madrid warned over his shoulder, “Don’t follow me.”

Scott, still unnerved by how fast Madrid had emerged, stared at the retreating man’s back. Did he go after Madrid and risk being shot? Taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders, he’d be damned if Johnny was going to take off. No, not this time, a determined Lt. Lancer was going to take on Madrid.

With a ramrod straight back, Lt. Lancer marched to the barn and threw open the door with so much force it banged against the wall. Standing in the doorway he announced, “Now wait just a minute, I’m not going to stand back and let you ride off-” He stopped when he saw a gun pointed at his chest. “So, do you plan on shooting me?” Hands on his hips the lieutenant matched glares with Madrid, “Well, make up your mind.”

Johnny had reacted without thinking and drawing his gun was ingrained at any hint of danger. Madrid lowered his gun, “Look, I just need to get away…” The stupid stunt still had him on edge and he wasn’t thinking clearly or he would never have drawn on his brother. Johnny Lancer was working his way back.

Relieved that he could see Madrid fading away, Scott made his move. “That may be but you are not running out on me.” He moved over to Ulysses’ stall and began saddling his horse. “We both need to get away and talk about what happened.” He hide his smile when he saw Johnny’s shocked face. “Well, are you going to saddle Barranca?”

********

Murdoch watched from the big window in the Great Room; Johnny’s stunt had nearly given him a heart attack. When was that boy going to grow up? However his younger son seemed unhurt so he calmed his emotions and his anger. But just when all seemed okay he witnessed what appeared to be an altercation between his sons. Tempted as he was to get between them; he wisely he decided it would be better if he stayed out of it. Then his younger son stalked off to the barn he knew Johnny would be taking off, again. Murdoch shook his head and wondered, why does he always feel he has to run away? 

Then he grinned when he saw Scott march into the barn, he knew by his older son’s expression, Johnny was going to get a piece of big brother’s temper. They will either make up or come to blows so he waited to see what would happen next.

After a few minutes the brothers left the barn and rode toward the Lancer Arch, a relieved father knew his sons would work it out. Smiling, he turned from the window and went to the drinks cart and poured a scotch.

He raised his glass in a toast, “To my sons and how they make my life interesting.”

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Thoughts On Having A Brother

This little story takes place at the attorney’s office for the signing of the partnership papers. An episode tag for The High Riders

Word count: 705

Scott’s Thoughts:

I am watching Johnny chew on the stampede strap of his hat and wondering, what is he thinking? Obviously he’s nervous, but then so am I. Mr. Reynolds is saying something but I’m not really listening and I don’t think Johnny is either. Just too many emotions to deal with and the biggest is… I have a little brother.

When I saw him shot from his horse I felt such fear and loss; he was gone before I even had the chance to know him. Then he moved and without thinking the big brother in me took over; I had to get to him and move him away from the gunfire.

After the battle we walked side by side toward Murdock. Johnny was weaving and I wanted to be there to catch him when he finally passed out. When I draped him over my shoulder I felt his warm blood on my back. Again I felt the fear of losing my brother.

It was difficult sitting by his sick bed watching him fight the fever and although I couldn’t understand the Spanish, I understood the anguish. When I woke from my nap and saw those blue eyes staring at me I wanted to shout for joy.

Now it’s my turn to sign the paper and my heart is pounding. I am committing myself to being a  partner in the ranch, the son of a man I’ve never known, and most importantly being a big brother… At least I hope for the chance. 

I watch Johnny straighten and walk to the desk. I hear Murdoch say the name should be Madrid and my hope sinks. If Johnny stays Madrid will I have the brother I’ve always wanted? I hold my breath. 

Then I hear him say, ‘let it stand’. Now I know…

There is time to be a big brother.

*******

Johnny’s Thoughts:

Boston sure looks serious, wonder if he’s worried about having a gunfighter for a brother?  Kinda like the look he gave me on the stage and then when Teresa said, ‘he had two’. At least he ain’t wearing plaid and ruffles, may be hope for him yet.

Damn if he wasn’t something else though when the fighting started. After I was shot off Barranca, he comes a running out in the middle of the gunfire and drags me under the tree. I thought he was crazy, but it sure felt good having someone cover my back. 

Hell of a shot with the long gun too, he took out Pardee with one bullet. Next thing I know things are getting fuzzy and I’m headed for the ground. Sure shocked the hell out of me when I woke up and saw Boston stretched out in the chair by my bed. He had this silly grin on his face when he roused up and noticed me staring at him. 

Then he started acting all big brother with ordering me to drink that awful tea of Maria’s, stay in bed as ordered, and take the medicine Sam left. He sure could be a pain in the ass. 

Can’t help but think about all those times I wanted a big brother and now I got one. He sure ain’t what I had in mind, but he ain’t so bad either. Well, sometimes, anyway.

Now we’re standing here listening to this Reynolds guy yapping about something, but I’m not listening and don’t think Boston is either. Murdoch looks happy so it must be something good. 

Scott just signed the paper and now it’s my turn, but Murdoch is saying my name is Madrid. Is that what he wants? He has a strange look on his face, kinda like he’s waiting for something. Well, this is my chance of a home and I’m not gonna give it up. I hear myself say, “Let it stand.” 

Damn, if the Ol’ Man and Boston aren’t smiling; doesn’t seem to take much to make them happy. 

Now the hard parts, learning about family, how deal with the Ol’ Man that isn’t the bastard I thought he was, and find out what its like having a big brother. 

Yep, a big brother, can’t help but wonder how this is going to work out.

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(A) Warm Bed for Johnny

word count: 255

Johnny snuggled deeper into his warm bed and took comfort from the heavy quilt that covered him on the cold winter morning.  It had been a year and a half since he arrived at Lancer, now he had a father, a brother, and a safe place.  Growing up he never had a bed like this in fact he was lucky if he had a bed because most times he slept on a dirt floor.

His stomach growled when smelled the coffee and bacon Maria was fixing for breakfast, but he was so warm and comfortable he hated to get up and snuggled deeper into his bed. 

Murdoch’s loud knock followed a few minutes later by Scott’s softer knock told him he better get up before one or both came in and hauled him out of his warm bed.

Johnny slowly stretched while staying under the quilt.  He didn’t want to leave his bed but knew he had to get up.  Slowly he slid out from under the quilt and shivered as he sat on the edge of his bed.  He rubbed his arms then pushed the hair from his eyes, stood up, and grabbed the pants he had tossed on the floor the night before.

Johnny looked around the room, smiled, and shook his head amazed how his life had changed.

His stomach growled as he headed for the kitchen and breakfast with his father and brother.

Yeah his life had changed and Johnny Madrid Lancer was content at last.

He especially loved his warm bed.

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Who Are You More

Missing scene from Warburton’s Edge -some of Johnny’s thoughts about who is he really.

Word count: 585

Johnny leaned against the headboard, yet he found no comfort this night and sleep still eluded him. The hacienda was so quiet that when the chimes of the grandfather clock signaled midnight it seemed as loud as church bells. Startled by the noise, Johnny ran his hands through his sweaty hair, and stared at the bedroom door. Did he belong here, he wondered, could he be what Murdoch wanted for a son?

This was his room, his bed, his home, at least it was Johnny Lancer’s home. He sighed and slid over to sit on the side of the bed. He bowed his head and stared at his hands. Again Tally’s question, ‘who are you more?’ forced its way into his thoughts. His right hand bore the calluses of a gunfighter from his constant practicing. Madrid didn’t have the luxury of hanging up his gun; there were still gunfighters looking for a chance at his reputation. 

When they were in the cantina and she asked the question it took him a moment before he answered Lancer. Was his answer Lancer because he thought that was what she wanted to hear? He wasn’t sure. Tally was such a romantic and she loved the idea of a lost prince. Was that really him or just her invention?

Why had he had answered Lancer, was he being truthful to himself? He had been Madrid longer than he’d been Lancer. Madrid had kept him alive all those years; as Lancer he would have been killed when he was still a kid. Now he wondered, how to explain that he was and he is – both.

Johnny understood his family’s fears about the danger that Madrid brought to Lancer, after all he had warned them. He also realized that as much as he wanted to be Johnny Lancer for his family, he wanted and needed to keep Madrid. Why couldn’t they understand?

When Warburton sent Isham and Preacher to kill Murdoch he had been so afraid for his father; that was a new and strange emotion for Madrid. Johnny’s chuckle lacked any mirth. His father, the word still felt strange to him. It also shocked him, the way he wanted to protect the man.

His race back to Lancer was torture, what if he was too late… what was he going to do…

Those fears were forgotten when he heard the gunshots. Without a second thought, he had jumped off Barranca and ran toward Murdoch who was hidden behind an arch. His father had folded him into his arms, the man had actually hugged him. Johnny would never be able to explain the feelings running through him at that moment, but he would treasure them forever. 

Preacher and Isham were dead at Madrid’s hands. Isham had been a friend and Madrid had killed him. Kneeling by the dead body, he told his father they had only wanted to be good at their jobs. What did Murdoch think about that statement? Good at his job, good at killing, unable to face his father he kept his head bowed. Finally he hesitantly asked Murdoch if he still wanted him for a son. When Murdoch reached out and touched his shoulder he had felt such relief.

Now exhausted yet unable to sleep, he stood and walked to the window. He searched for a fleck of gold in the corral and found it, Barranca was where he belonged.

Again he remembered the feel of Murdoch’s hand on his shoulder.

His father had accepted him, he belonged.

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