Summary: WHN for The Black McGloins
Scott and Johnny have some baptism of fire amidst their own field of destruction.
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Warning: Cussing…just seems to go hand-in-hand!
Word count: 3,015
These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brothers in arm
Through these fields of destruction
Baptism of fire
I’ve watched all your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms
(Nod to both Dire Straits for the original lyrics and to Celtic Thunder for reviving it and bringing it to my attention.)
Murdoch was in the midst of dispatching his sons to lend their hands at George Talbot’s. Major repairs were required to the busted pigpen enclosure that Padraic and Sorley Boy McGloin had damaged in their haste to abscond with his prized sow and her eight suckling piglets. The pair of Irish blackguards had the gall to return to the Talbots a few days later to “trade” digging ditches in exchange for two milch cows, but somehow managed to not have any bill of sale to confirm their legal ownership. Their story stunk strongly of blarney and bull…feathers.
Additionally the Talbots’ barn had to be rebuilt, after it mysteriously went up in flames, payback for Talbot’s signing a complaint against Sorley Boy, who was escorted to jail over the stolen sow and her piglets. Mr. Talbot had a sudden “change of heart” about pressing charges against Sorley Boy, who was welcomed back to the loving arms of his family. Despite increased grumblings from the citizens who had any dealings with the dubbed “Black McGloins”, they believed were under the protection of the Lancers, complaints ceased and there seemed to be no legal remedies. Murdoch was caught in the middle between his son and the community.
Scott was going because it was his kind-hearted generosity that had permitted the family of squatters to stay in the east pasture line shack. Had it not been for Scott literally being rear-ended by the red-haired lass, Moira, who apparently placed a spell over him, the McGloin would have been sent packing. But then again, even Johnny felt some compunction for either the family’s dire situation or had been quick to sense Scott’s amorous interest in the girl. Who he had admitted was quite fetching.
The brothers had nearly come to fisticuffs when Johnny joshed Scott about the girl. Johnny knew without doubt that Scott was more than smitten with Moira. He had overheard questionable noises coming from within the barn, followed by a deafening silence before the appearance of the pair. Scott was overly defensive and the girl, well, she was glowing, had pieces of straw sticking out of her hair at peculiar angles, skipped away with a smile that told they were indeed up to more that Scott’s explanation, “Just talking.”
So now here the brothers would soon be on their way to make good on the damages those McGloins had inflicted. It was an enormous relief to the entire valley that the McGloins had cleared out for parts unknown, after Padriac was almost hung, the old lady, his mother, Bridget, was “resting peacefully” in her coffin…along with her jug.
Unbeknownst to the other residents of the San Juanito Valley, Murdoch and Scott had partaken in a little ruse of their own accord. They had managed to convince the angry mob that in the hail of bullets fired into the line shack, the old woman had been killed. Scott and Murdoch sequester the old lady in a coffin to hoodwink the remorseful participants, now only more than too eager to help the McGloins prepare for their journey to go bury the old gal, elsewhere.
Murdoch felt it was a suitable retribution for his sons to help all their neighbors who had been harmed by the dealings of the McGloins. They were going to be very busy boys, as they also had to make sure that their own chores were finished. Murdoch figured Scott and Johnny would be too tuckered out to venture in for any town nights for at least the next several weeks. Johnny did not agree with his father and was vehemently protesting the decree of the almighty tune caller, as was his nature to rebel against so many commandments, which cramped his style.
“Now, listen Murdoch, I only voted with Scott for a trial period ta see how it went. Why the hell should I go? Ain’t like I was the one over there bangin’ the girl. That was all Scott’s doin’.”
“I told you before and I tell you again, shut-up, Johnny,” Scott gritted through clenched teeth.
“Johnny, you’re going. Maybe this way BOTH you boys will appreciate that everything that happens on Lancer or affects Lancer I want to know about it firsthand. This concludes this part of the discussion.”
“Scott, I expect that the two of you will get along, no fighting. Johnny stood with you over the McGloins, the least you can do is show some appreciation for him standing alongside his brother.”
Johnny smirked at Scott, who slapped his hat against his leg, “Yes, sir.”
“And Johnny, don’t taunt you brother over what he may or may not have been doing with Miss McGloin.”
“Miss McGloin?” Johnny chuckled. “Seems ta me, she was tryin’ awfully hard ta become Mrs. Lancer, Mrs. Scott Lancer.”
“BOYS! NO MORE! OFF WITH YOU!”
The entire ride over to George Talbot’s the brothers continued to bicker, neither one willing to concede a point to the other. Both were in a fine stew as each mile brought them closer to their destination of more back-breaking manual labor.
“This is your fault, Scott. I had other plans how I wanna ta spend my free time, what little there is.”
“Like, Murdoch said, you voted with me.”
“I don’t see why I got ta help out.”
“Drop it Johnny.”
“NO! Ya drop it! This is the last time I vote with ya and any lame-brain idea ya get. What the hell did they teach ya at that fancy school? Did ya think ya were the knight in shining armor rescuing the “fair maiden”? Boy ain’t that a stretch of the imagination! Fair maiden, my ass,” he snorted.
“Johnny, I’m warning you….”
“Warn me, all ya want, Scott. I didn’t poke the girl. That pleasure was all yours.”
“Back off Scott. There, now I’m warning ya,” he said then gave Barranca a nudge and flew down the road, away from Scott.
Johnny arrived at George’s in a black mood, unsaddled Barranca since he was going to be working here all day, on this beautiful, sunny Saturday. He kicked a rock that bounced off the water trough, flew backwards; striking Scott in the forehead who had dismounted from Sheridan, and had bent over to adjust his pants leg.
“Son of a bitch,” grumbled Scott, as he touched his forehead. “Johnny, you did that on purpose.”
“How in the hell, was I ta know that ya would stick ya forehead in the way?”
“Let me see.” Johnny stood in front of Scott and pulled his hand away. “Yup, it’s bleedin’ but only a little. Not likely ya’ll drop over from the loss of blood.”
“Thanks, a lot brother.”
“De nada, Boston. Better see if George has something ya can wrap around your head, keep the dirt and sweat out that cut. I don’t want Murdoch after my hide if that gets infected.”
“Your concern for my well-being is touching, brother.”
“Not at all concerned over “your well-being”, just wanna make sure ya do the lion’s share of the work. Boston.”
By this time George had come over to greet the boys, he had overheard the majority of their argument. He got the inkling that today was not going to be a painless day for anyone. He reckoned he best separated them right off to keep the peace and to get any work done.
“Howdy boys! Scott, I see you need some doctoring, why don’t you go inside and have the Mrs. take a look? Johnny, how about you giving me a hand and get the wagon unloaded?”
Scott returned with a wide bandage around his head that Johnny thought was a lot of fuss for “a little ol’ cut.”
Things progressed downhill from there, first neither brother spoke to the other. Or if and when they did say something, it was a brusque response to a curt question, with a couple of derogatory comments made about the “Black McGloins” and Scott pokin’, fuckin’ or bangin’ the girl from Johnny. Tension was mounting behind them as hammer and nails sounded their annoyance with the other.
The sun was now high over their heads, heating the earth amongst things. Johnny removed his sweat drenched shirt and wrapped a bandana around his head to keep the sweat from dripping into his eyes. Scott, refused to remove his shirt, keeping it tightly tucked into his brown pants.
Johnny grinned cocky, “Boston, no one cares if your muscles are puny, take your friggin’ shirt off. At least be cooler.”
“No, thank you, I prefer to keep my clothes on when ladies are present.”
Mrs. Talbot had brought out a pitcher of cold well water for the brothers to drink. After she was out of ear-shot, Johnny said,” Whoo-doggie Scott, ya tellin’ me that Moira wasn’t a lady, so it was okay ta remove ya clothes around her?”
“I told you before, shut-up.”
“Oh come on Scott, ya can tell me what ya two were up ta in the barn? Hell, it ain’t like I haven’t been caught with my pants off a time or two.”
Scott looked at Johnny; shook his head, realizing that there was no way his brother was going to drop it. He placed his water glass down on the ground, dropped his head and charged his brother who was resting his tail-end on the short edge of the water trough, dipping his hand in and dribbling water down his chest. Johnny fell in backwards with Scott on top of him, water rushed over the sides from their combined weight as legs and arms began thrashing about the contained space.
Punches were now flying as Johnny got to his feet; dragged Scott to his, Johnny knocked his brother out of the trough with a solid sock to the jaw. He flew out of the trough, to land on top off Scott in the soft, dusty earth. They rolled as more blows were thrown; staggered to their feet, then Scott fell to the ground from another hit. He kicked out his foot that tripped Johnny down to the ground; they rolled over and over the other, before getting to their feet, where the mad dance continued.
Neither brother was aware that they were adjacent to the almost finished repaired pigsty…that is until locked in a hold on the other, Scott slipped on the slick mud just outside the fence, started an ass backwards fall. He made a grab and clung to Johnny as they fell over the middle railing, the top railing not yet installed, landing smack-dab into the smelly muck of the sty. Scott hard fall broke Johnny’s fall, as the splash from Scott’s body sent the disgusting brew upwards, coating Johnny’s hair and face.
Still the brothers battled as Mr. and Mrs. Talbot watched them wrestle in the mess, pigs snorting and squealing to get out of their way.
“George, aren’t you going to stop them?”
“Nope, they’ve been needling each other all day; let them wear themselves out. Then maybe I can get them to finish their chores.”
“But George, just look at them!”
“I can see, woman. Serves them right, when you lie down with pigs, all you ever get is dirty. Looks to me, like they’re finding that out, first hand. Betcha they don’t forget it after they cool down and get a whiff of themselves.”
Had the brothers been the same height and built, one wouldn’t be able to tell who was whom as only their eyes were not covered in the stinking mire. The brothers slipped and fell more than they landed any blows, exhausted themselves from the clash. The Talbots watched until finally both collapsed into the muck, sitting back-to-back to support themselves from falling over as they access damages received.
Johnny ran his tongue around inside his mouth, tasting some blood from where he bit the inside of his cheek. Scott’s bandage was long gone, as was Johnny’s bandana. Scott felt the spot on his forehead where the rock has struck him, felt a small bump. He eased up a bit to pull a bone from under his ass, tossed it towards the grunting pigs.
Mr. Talbot walked over, looked at the two said dryly, “I didn’t reckon to add any asses to my pigpen. Get out of there. Go wash yourselves off and get back to work.”
“Give us a hand up, will ya, Mr. Talbot?” asked Johnny as he huffed and puffed.
Mr. Talbot leaned over the middle railing (this was his first mistake), offered his hands to the boys (and, of course, this was his second mistake)…
“GEORGE! DON’T”, yelled Mrs. Talbot. But she was too late for when Johnny and Scott stood-up their weight and Mr. Talbot’s awkward position landed him face down in the sludge, at the base of the brothers’ boots.
She covered her mouth in horror at the sight of her husband, as the Lancers attempted to get George back to his feet; only he was like a diminutive pissed-off Banty rooster, better known as a “fighting cock”. He swung his own set of punches, landing them wherever he could reach, didn’t matter which Lancer was getting struck.
“SHIT! WILL YA STOP THROWIN’ PUNCHES?” Johnny yelled as his feet slipped from under him and he wounded up on his ass a few more times.
Scott was faring about the same, tried reasoning, “Mr. Talbot. SIR! Stop. We’re trying to help you up and out of here.”
“GOD DAMMIT! I need your help like I need holes in my head! Now git your sorry asses out of my pigpen! GO HOME! Don’t come back here! At least not unless your father is here to supervisor your two idiots!”
“Okay, okay, we’re goin’. Just stop hittin’ us.”
“I’ll damn well do what the hell I want to do on my own property!”
“Mr. Talbot, please, sir, let me help you up.”
“I don’t need your help; I don’t want your help. Get your hands off of me,” yelled the shorter man as Johnny and Scott both grabbed hold of his arms to steady themselves more than anything.
SPLAT! All three fell back down into the mess; the pigs were crowded into one corner squealing to beat the band. Suddenly there was a loud “BANG!” Three pairs of eyes turned in the direction of the blast. There was Mrs. Talbot holding the double-barreled smoking shotgun pointing upwards.
“ALL OF YOU! GET OF THERE, NOW! Before I pepper backsides with the next shot,” her last statement was made with a deadly calm. The men feared that tone in her voice, more than her shouting.
“Yes madam,” three contrite voices chimed in, as the fussing and fighting done. All scrambled to get on their feet and out of the pigsty, posthaste under the dire threat. No man ever wins any argument with a woman holding firm to a shot-gun. Best to follow her directives to the fullest save everybody from regrets later.
“You boys saddle up. Go on home.”
Scott looked down at the mess clinging to his clothes, his voice filled with disbelief, “Like this?”
“Scott, are ya crazy, just do as she tells ya,” whispered Johnny. “Ever had ya ass peppered before?”
“Well, now ain’t the time ta try it out, not that there’s a good time, mind ya.”
Mrs. Talbot held her smile back at Johnny’s wisdom by biting her lips together before motioning the boys towards their horses, “Just like that, Scott.”
She watched as the brothers finally worked quickly together for the first time today as they saddled their mounts.
“You be back here first light tomorrow morning to continue the work, just you, Scott Lancer. The way I see it, you encouraged those Black McGloins to stay around here. There would have been no troubles if you had sent them packing right off. I understand why Johnny’s so provoked with you. I am too.”
Scott looked at Johnny, whose pearly white teeth sparkle like diamonds despite all the mud on his face. He said quietly, “See I told ya so…ya fault, not mine.”
Scott looked at Mrs. Talbot, “Yes madam, Murdoch will be sore for sure.”
“I don’t give a hill of beans, if he is. I want the job done. He can moan all he wants. But around here I have a say in how things get done. Now scoot. Come back with a mindset to do the work. Do like Mr. Talbot said, bring your father here.”
“Why, if Johnny’s not coming back?” queried Scott.
“Have ya lost your mind?” shot Johnny. “Shut the fuck up Scott. Just agree with her.”
“Because, my husband requested him here. Your father can make sure you get your work done.”
“Yes, Mrs. Talbot,” he said as he flung off a handful of mud, realized it was a lost cause. The muck was clinging to every strand of his hair; every fold in his fabric, inside his boots his toes curled around ooze, there was a layer of mire inside his shirt, sitting above the waistband of his pants. It was hopeless to try and remove any of it. He needed to go jump in the nearest lake.
Mrs. Talbot looked over at her husband, “George, bathhouse, don’t you dare think you are stepping foot inside my house until you are scrubbed clean as a whistle.”
“Yes, dear,” he said, climbing out of the mess while the sow took this time to bite him on the back of his leg. “Yowl!”
“Serves you right for falling for that old trick those boys pulled on you. Even old Sally finds you were plumb foolish.”
Johnny and Scott mounted their horses, squishing and oozing mud and other elements that had been mixed in the sty down the sides of their saddles, onto Barranca and Sheridan. Barranca turned his head to see what the problem was, snorted his disgust at the stench.
“Well, if this isn’t another fine mess, ya got me into Scott,” complained Johnny. “Even Barranca is pissed at ya.”
“Shut-up Johnny,” retorted Scott.
Patti – March 31, 2010
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