Summary: Johnny’s recovers in more than one way from Day Pardee’s back shooting- tag for The High Riders
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Warning: Some Cussing!
Word count: 1,602
Why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences
For so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
But, I know that
You got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow
Don’t you draw
The queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts
Is always your best bet
Now it seems to me some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones
That you can’t get
Oh, you ain’t getting’ no younger
Your pain and your hunger
They’re drivin’ you home
Well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking
Through this world all alone
Don’t your feet get cold
In the winter time?
The sky won’t snow
And the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re losin’ all
Your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how
The feeling goes away?
Why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences
Open the gate
It may be rainin’
But there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you (Let somebody love you)
You better let somebody love you
Before it’s too late…
Nod to the great Eagles for THE perfect Johnny song…
Johnny woke in alarm, flashes of distant worrisome memories raced through his brain as he pulled at the tightly wrapped bindings circling his bare chest. His faced was drenched in sweat as his eyes blinked rapidly trying to focus as beams of light filtered in the room. He sensed rather than clearly saw several dark forms surrounding him.
“A room! I’m in a bed! Dios! What the hell’s goin’ on?” his thoughts jumbled together as he attempted to sit up.
“Whoa! Stay put there, young man! You’re in no condition to be thrashing about. Stop wiggling, you’ll pull out your stitches,” a calm steady voice directed while a cool cloth was wiped against his forehead, blotting away the sweat.
“Brother, don’t…” he heard another voice from his left utter.
“JOHN! You do as the doctor tells you to do, boy,” ordered another voice with decisiveness from his right side.
“Let go of me,” he heard his own voice croak. “LET ME UP!”
He was panicky as his right arm shot down the length of his body searching for his pistol, coming up empty-handed. “Dios! What was happening to him? Where the fuck was his gun?”
Several hands reached down holding him firmly in place, pinning his shoulders to the mattress, keeping his legs quiet.
“JOHN! Don’t move, son. You’ve lost too much blood already. You need to remain still.”
Johnny’s eyes focused on the voice that uttered that declaration. His thoughts jumbled together as he tried to think back on what had recently taken place to put him in a bed. Johnny then remembered what took place; he had been shot in the back by Day Pardee, his one-time trail amigo. His brain taunted him over that odd quirk of fate, after he had warned his greenhorn brother about “doin’ it ta them before they could do it ta ya. Mierda! Joder!! (Shit! Fuck!!).”
Somehow he had managed to screw that up. As the fates would have it here he was wrapped up tighter than a virgin in a double-knotted corset, held down in bed by strangers with a hole in his back. And the thought occurred to him that he wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothing, he was buck-naked under the covers. He struggled even more to sit up, wanting his britches, his pistol and out of the bed…NOW!
“Don’t move anymore, brother. Not unless you want me to hog-tie you to the bed. Got it?”
“Boston?” he croaked.
“Boston, when I get outta here, I’m gonna kick your ass.”
The tall, lean blond leaned over the side of the bed to whisper in Johnny’s ear, “Care to place a small wager on that happening anytime soon, little brother?”
The bed-bound brunet, turned his head towards his brother, reached out weak as a newborn kitten clutching at the man’s shirt front, “Name the bet, Boston.”
“Any ass kicking going to take place here, will be done by me, Johnny, to you I’m afraid. I’m Doc Jenkins. Don’t reckon you remember me, but I brought you into this world and as long as you’re under my care, you’ll listen to my orders and heed them. If you don’t, I’ll go ahead and let your brother hog-tie you.”
The older man was fussing with him, listening to his heart beating with his stethoscope, checking his pulse, the sounds of his lungs. Johnny stared fiercely at the man, opened his mouth to reply but was instead rewarded with a thermometer stuck inside his gaping mouth.
“Close your mouth and hold that in position, young man,” Doc Jenkins ordered as he held on to it waiting for the bewildered youth to follow his order. He was booking no hard looks or attitude from the young man, not imitated by his patient in the slightest. After all he had been taking care of the boy’s obstinate father for years, well indoctrinated to the hard-headed patriarch, who never got his way with him, no teen-aged boy would wheel his way around the good doctor either.
“JOHNNY,” warned Murdoch as he leaned over the bed his face close to Johnny’s, he softly continued but with implied danger behind his words, “Come to your senses, boy, NOW.”
Much to everyone’s relief Johnny complied as his jaws closed, gripping the thermometer firmly; his eyes brooded at the trio of men that held him captive to his prison. He sighed loudly at the sudden change in his ability to direct his own life as his tongue rolled that stick of glass from one side to the other.
Doc Jenkins locked eyes on Johnny’s, “Hold it still, Johnny. Otherwise you’ll only prolong the time to get an accurate reading.”
Johnny stopped twirling the damn thing as he watched Doc Jenkins continue his inspection. He saw from the corners of his eyes, the other two standing guard over him, not knowing they had been holding vigil over him for the past three days and nights. As had Doc Jenkins attending his wound, making sure it didn’t bleed out, became infected or the stitches pulled out. Johnny had been a restless patient, twisting and turning, mumbling in his fevered state of mind, cussing a blue streak at the hands that administered to him. He held still as he accessed his present circumstances.
“That’s much better, young man. Don’t you lay there thinking for a second that I won’t have your father and brother follow suit tying you to the bed. You were a rascal of a patient when you were a little boy and from the looks of things, time hasn’t improved your disposition in the slightest.”
Johnny’s eyes now bore into the doctor’s eyes, flashing with anger, unable to speak yet with that frigging thermometer still in his mouth. His lips tighten around the glass.
“Made you mad, didn’t I? Well, just be careful, don’t put any more pressure on that unless you want to cut the inside of your mouth with broken glass,” laughed Doc Jenkins. “Here let me have it now, been inside there long enough anyway.”
“Anda a joderto…hijo de perra (Fuck you…son of a bitch),” croaked Johnny.
“JOHN! I won’t have you speaking like that to Doc Jenkins or anyone else for that matter in this house!” Murdoch’s voice rose to a level Johnny realized meant that this gigantic man was booking no excuses or nonsense from him. “APOLOGIZE AT ONCE!”
Doc Jenkins put a hand on Murdoch’s arm, “Murdoch, it’s okay, he’s been through a lot and it’s just the pain speaking, not the lad.”
“Sam, it’s not okay. He needs to understand what acceptable behavior is and what is not under my roof. Pain or nor pain, I won’t tolerate it. He may think that’s he’s a hard one. And this attitude of his may please him but not me. It will only hurt him unless he comes down from his fences and opens the gate to come home. He needs to learn it here and he needs to learn it now before it’s too late…otherwise once he’s better he’s free to go.”
Johnny shifted position in the softest mattress he had slept in for a long, long time, well maybe ever. He was fully alert to the words his father had spoken as he figured out that he had been dealt the queen of hearts instead of the queen of diamonds for a change. There were some mighty fine things laid upon his table in just the past few days. Maybe it was time to stop wanting other things and let these people…his father…his brother into his life.
Freedom wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, normally he wandered from town to town alone; perhaps it was time to lose the highs and lows of his trade of being a hired gunslinger. His pain and his hunger had driven him here to Lancer, where he had fought alongside his father and his brother to impede those other desperados from taking it away. This had to be his best bet; the fates finally dealt him a winning hand. He wasn’t fool enough to throw it away over any cold feet at the prospect of realizing things too late, not this time he wasn’t.
With a crooked grin Johnny realized he had just come down from his fences and it felt okay to let go of his pain and his hunger. He liked having a family, his family; fuss over him, reining him in when he stepped over apparent lines to his father’s way of thinking, him after all being the tune-caller. Well Johnny always did want to learn how to dance; now here was his opportunity on a silver platter.
“Lo siento, Doc Jenkins. Lo siento, Boston. Lo siento, Pa,” Johnny said to each man, his eyes squarely meeting their eyes, small nods given by each in turn, acknowledgement of his offered apologies. He liked that they smiled back at him was his final thought just before his eyes feeling heavy-lidded closed, his long silky eyelashes still for the time being. Johnny drifted off to a sound sleep, free of nightmares as he instead dreamed of a bright rainbow shining above him, a smile on his face in a relaxed state.
Murdoch placed a large calloused hand on his son’s glossy black hair, gently stroked his son’s head, “Gracias, Johnny. It’s so good to finally have you home where you belong.”
Scott lightly smiled as Murdoch looked across the bed at him, grasped his hand, “The same goes for you too Scott. I’m pleased to have you both home.”
Patti – February 15, 2010
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5 thoughts on “Desperado by Patti H.”
I enjoyed this. Love the links to the Eagles song. How right you are. I will always think of Johnny now when I hear that song.
This was nice
So good that Johnny finally gave up fighting and realised just how lucky he was to be with his father and brother living in luxury that he had only been able to dream about before he came home
I am sure he will heal up that much quicker now that he has accepted they are only trying to help him
Lancer lives on!
You are so right-Desperado is the perfect Johnny song. Thank you for sharing this great story. And yes Lancer lives on!
Johnny awakens angry and without understanding, and then softens his attitude once he comprehends he is surrounded by caring people. A simple idea for a perfect short story and I think you managed to express his emotions very well.