My What? by Patti H.

Word count 2,422

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Usual Disclaimers Apply – No Beta – Flying Solo

Response to Lancer-Righters’

“Not On the Road to Morro Coyo” Inaugural Challenge

Warning:  Some Cussing – But Only a Little!

~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~

Johnny Madrid was bone-tired, lugged his saddle, hoisted first on his left shoulder and when it sank under the unwieldy weight, he transferred it to his right shoulder for awhile.  He preferred not to have it on either but instead on a horse, any horse, but his mount had collapsed three days early.  Johnny had been forced to put it out of its suffering thereby leaving him afoot.  Johnny headed due north towards the pledge of one thousand dollars for an hour of his time with the man who had turned his back on him and his mother years earlier.  He didn’t know why he trusted the man but he was aiming to find out what he could.

Johnny intended to collect those thousand dollars and whatever else he felt was his birthright once he reached Murdoch Lancer’s estancia.  “My father,” he scoffed as he shifted the saddle again, walking alongside the stage ruts in the hard-caked earth that was deeply in need of rain to both nurture and cleanse the earth of it’s scars.  Scars similar to those Johnny fostered most of his life.

Dios, it wasn’t much of a horse, but hell it could have at least gone on for a few more days, least get me ta Morro Coyo, then drop dead,” he grumbled to himself as he dropped the burden to the ground to wipe the sweat from his brow with his bright red sleeve.  He removed his hat to fan his face with a wave of air, wishing for a cold beer and a horse.  He shook his head, “a horse first, and then a cold beer,” he reflected rearranging his priorities.

For a man freshly spared from a Mexican firing squad, Johnny was indebted for the opportune intrusion of a fast moving Pinkerton man.  The Pink had paid the Rurales for Johnny’s liberty, only for the double-dealing mangy back-stabbing Mexican banditos clear intention to slaughter them for the contents of the Pink’s bulging billfold.  Fortunately Johnny grabbed the Pink’s six-shooter, plugging several of the Rurales, permitting the Pink to escape with the still bounded Juan in the buckboard while he vaulted onto that flea-bitten sorry excuse for a horse, damn near losing his baggy peon pants in the process.

Johnny was hot, worn-out and pissed-off at having to walk mile after mile in his newly purchased, not yet broken in cowboy boots.   His feet were sore, his back ached, he was famished and with each passing mile he cursed Murdoch Lancer in a string of curses that would have made a merchant seaman blushed bright red as his temper flared.  He kicked at a rock in the road and yelled, “If I had a lick of sense, I’d march right in there and shoot that bastard right between his beady eyes, the cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch!”

~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~

The stagecoach pulled by a team of four horses pulled to a sudden stop in front of the stage depot in Green River.  The depot manager greeted the driver and his shotgun guard, as he reached for the strongbox, while the door of the coach was opened by a man garbed in a grey fancy suite, wearing a ruffled shirt and red tie, clutching a large book and a bowler hat.  The depot manager nearly dropped the strongbox as he looked the stranger over thinking, “Now there’s something you don’t see everyday.”

Another lanky, rumbled looking man rushed to the man’s assistance as the strongbox began to fall and grabbed one end, he said, “Ahhh for the love of Pete, Sam hold on ta this.  What’s the matter with ya?”

“Nothing, Sheriff, that’s just the strangest getup I’ve seen in all my born days,” he replied as he held the box with two hands watching the man assist an matronly looking woman with her young charge alight from the stage.  He then slapped at the dust on his clothes, brushing away a layer from his hat with an air of disgust at the grimy condition.

“Ahh, that’s just a greenhorn, probably looking for excitement, came out west ta find it,” said the taller of the two men.  “He won’t stick around in these parts long.”

“Excuse me gentleman, do either of you know the way to Murdoch Lancer’s estancia?” said the greenhorn in a strange clipped accent.  He continued brushing away at the dust on his clothes, after he pulled on a pair of dark grey gloves.  He was a tall man, with blond hair and blue-grey eyes looked directly at the men standing alongside the stage coach.

“Murdoch Lancer”, they repeated.  The taller man looked down at Sam, pointing at the strongbox said, “Don’t ya have something ta attend ta, Sam?”

“As a matter of fact, yes I do, Sheriff Crawford, thanks for reminding me.  He turned away from the coach and with the stage guard walked inside the small office, shutting the door.

“Sheriff Crawford?”

“That’s me, stranger.  Who are ya is the question?” quizzed the man.  “What do you want with Murdoch Lancer?”

“Yes, sir, my name is Lancer, Scott Lancer,” he extended his hand to shake the other man’s hand.  “I was supposed to take the coach into Morro Coyo and that was delayed due to a broken axel.  In Sacramento I was told this would get me closer and I could ask for directions from here.  You do know the way to my father’s estancia?”

“Ya father’s estancia?  Yup, I know how ta get there.  I’m headin’ that way tomorrow morning.  Ya can tag along with me, if ya want.”

“Now that won’t be necessary, sir.  If you can tell me where I can hire a wagon I can find it myself.”

“Scott is it?  Ya the son he sent for from back east, somewhere, ain’t ya?”

“Yes, sir, Boston to be precise.  Not that it’s any of your business, Sheriff.”

“Everything that goes on around these parts is my business, ya can be sure of that.  Especially with the trouble that’s been going on.”

“Trouble?  What sort of trouble is that?”

“The sort of trouble that can get a man killed for being stupid, that sort of trouble.”

“Sheriff I think you and I need to have a discussion and not standing here in the street.  Is there somewhere we can go sit down and have a dialogue?  And where I can refresh myself?”

The taller man tilted his head back and laughed, “Not exactly certain what ya had in mind, but cross the street, down that way is The Painted Lady saloon.  Ya can wet ya whistle, get some fairly passable grub along with a pinch and a poke, if ya got the mind for that.”

“A pinch and a poke?” said the confused blond man.

“Ask for Rosie, she take care of ya,” Sheriff Crawford grinned wickedly before winking at the slightly confused younger man.

It dawned on Scott then what the Sheriff was referring to, “Thank you, but no thank you Sheriff.   Something to eat and drink along with your enlightening conversation is more than sufficient for me for the time being.”

“Why don’t you head over thar?  I’ve got some business ta attend ta here for now.  I’ll be along directly.”

Scott turned to look in the direction of The Painted Lady saloon then back to the Sheriff, “Sheriff Crawford I’ll be waiting for you, sir.”

~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~

No question about it, Johnny Madrid was hot, weary and ready to shoot the first man that pissed him off.  He trudged into the town of Green River, late afternoon hauling that saddle with the intention of getting a long cold drink of beer, then the horse to ride out to his father’s estancia.  Spying the saloon, he headed that direction, adjusting the saddle one more time, as he bent over to swing it to the other shoulder; he heard in a voice that left no question in his mind that the owner wasn’t pleased.

“Why don’t you watch where you are going, boy?”

Johnny looked up to see a tall man in a grey suit with what appeared to be a woman’s fancy ruffled blouse on with a red bowtie of some kind, running his left hand across the front of himself, wiping away at something.

“What?” asked Johnny.

“I said why don’t you watch where you are going?”

“Nope, not that, heard that, what was the other part?” asked Johnny as he dropped the saddle to the boardwalk, scattering dusty particles into the air, making the fancy dress man sneeze several times.

Scott looked him over, sensing an air of danger from the dirty young man, replied, “Boy.”

“Yup, that’s what I thought you said,” replied Johnny who shrugged his shoulders, drew back and punched the overdressed Fancy Dan in the nose, sending him falling on his backside from the surprised sucker punch.  Scott grabbed at this nose, saw blood in his hand, and took out a handkerchief to wipe away the blood.

Getting to his feet, he said, “That’s quite a punch you have there, boy.”  He slugged Johnny back, who staggered a few feet backwards before stopping.  He grinned back at the taller man and charged forward, his head down into the surprised man who lost his balance and stumbled  backwards through the Painted Lady’s front window, sending pieces of glass flying every which direction.  Johnny followed through the opening to pick up the blond from the floor, who struck back at him, sending him backwards, as the bar’s patrons scattered to get out of the middle of the fracas that was gathering momentum with each tossed blow.

Both men threw punches, some landed on the other person, others not, as the fight continued, until both went flying out the other paned window, landing on the boardwalk.  Torn clothes, heavy breathing, bloodied eyes and lips and sore knuckles didn’t stop the fight, as spectators stood nearby cheering them on, money was being exchanged as bets were shouted out for the favorite to win the battle.  The odd on favorite was the shorter, dark-haired cowboy against the taller, blond-haired greenhorn.  But both were giving and getting their fair share of the thrown blows.

Punches were still being exchanged as the two fought on.  Pushing, shoving and loud shouts from the crowd kept the two in the middle of the gathered crowd, brawling until a loud report from a fired gun sounded.  The crowd settled down while the two fought on, until suddenly both were jerked apart, by Sheriff Crawford.

“ENOUGH!  Ya both under arrest for disturbing the peace,” he groused as he held each by the scruff of their necks and prodded them towards the jail.  At the jail he pushed Scott into one cell, while he removed the gun from the other man’s holster before pushing him into another cell clanking both cell doors shut, locking them.  Scott sank to the low bunk holding his head in his hands.

Sheriff Crawford looked more closely at the dirty, dark-haired boy in his jail that had kept his head ducked, he said, “Madrid?  That you, Johnny?”

“Hey, yeah Val, it’s me.  Ya gonna let me out of here or what?”

“Johnny, what in the hell are ya doin’ in Green River?  I haven’t set eyes on ya for since Yuma.  Everytime ya show up I can count of ya ta be in the middle of trouble.  What in the hell do ya have against that dude?”

“Nothin’.  Now will ya let me out of here?” complained Johnny as he looked at Val, “How come you’re the Sheriff of this little piss-ant town?  Last I heard ya were back in Texas.”

“Well, Johnny, I moved on, same as ya did.  What brings ya here?”

“My feet, had ta put my horse down couple days ago, been walkin’ and this is the first town I came ta.  I’m headed toward Morro Coyo ta meet someone.”

“Ya ain’t fixin’ on hirin’ on with Day Pardee are ya?”

“What?  Pardee’s hangin’ around?  What for?  I thought he was back in Arizona.”

“Not any more Johnny.  Pardee’s been hired by someone to stir up problems for the big ranchers in these parts.  He’s been chasing them off their land, burning up cattle feed fields, chasing cattle off, making a nuisance and creatin’ trouble with a large band of land pirates.”

“Ahh, now it’s all makes sense, why my father suddenly out of the blue wants ta find me and bring me home with the lure of a thousand dollars as the pay off.”  Johnny said splashing cold water on his face from the offered jug Val put through the bars.  “He only wants my gun.”

“Your father?” questioned the blond man in the next cell, suddenly alert to the dirty boy in the cell next to him.  “A thousand dollars?”

Johnny looked closely at the stranger in the cell, “What’s it too ya, greenhorn?”

“Who is your father, boy?” he croaked.

Johnny looked at the man, who wasn’t too much older than he was, “Dios!  Don’t start with that boy, shit, unless ya want more of the same when I get out of here.”

“I’m terrible sorry, my mistake.  I don’t mean to sound condensing.  Who is your father, Johnny?”

Val had been standing back looking at the pair when he started laughing, loudly laughing, bending over double laughing, slapping his knee laughing out loud at the strange circumstances that he was party to witnessing.

Johnny shifted his look from the disheveled man in the cell next to him to look at the man who to a degree raised him and now had locked him up, “Dios!  Val, what in the hell is so damn funny?”

Val slowly regained control of his laughing fit, stood up and wiped away the tears from his eyes to look at Johnny.  “Johnny, I want ya to meet ya your older brother, Scott Lancer, all the way from Boston, come ta meet ya pa too!”

“MY WHAT???” both boys shouted as they eyed the other through the cold, steel bars of the cell that separated them.

The End

Patti – October 25, 2009
 
 

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