#2 of the Old Acquaintances series
A New Year’s Tale Concludes
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Summary: By popular request…I’ll just had to rescue our boy out of his latest perils
and not leave him suffering too terribly long. Warnings: Today’s’ Forecast – Prevailing Winds in Green River, Light Showers of Cussin’
Johnny turned around in the cell to see how far he could get away from “Stinky” and “Smelly” so dubbed by Val for their combined talent that albeit was somewhat musical, it just that Johnny wasn’t enjoying the private concert in the slightest bit being held as a captive member of the audience. Having very little room to escape the unpleasant odors wafting around him, he sighed deeply before plopping himself face down on the paper thin mattress under the frame of the cot, rolling his eyes and shaking his head at his predicament.
He could do nothing more about the pungent smell lingering in the air, except to throw the equally paper thin blanket over his head to try and block the sounds and smells from invading his small confined space. Thinking to himself, “I hope Murdoch gets me the hell out of this gas chamber sooner and not later. I don’t think I’ll be able to look at another black-eyed pea let alone eat any of ‘em the rest of my life. I don’t know what burr Val sat on but Dios! he’s grumpier than my old man.” With nothing else to do and seeking any form of escape from the vapors, he drifted off to sleep.
Val was seated at his desk, going over wanted posters when Murdoch and Scott walked into his office. “Sheriff, we’re here to collect John and take him home….where is he?” growled Murdoch as he looked towards the cell and didn’t see his youngest son.
“He’s in thar, Mr. Lancer, fast asleep on the floor, curled up with his blankee,” grumbled Val.
“The floor? What’s he doing on the floor for Pete’s sake?” demanded Murdoch. “Don’t I pay enough in taxes and fines to afford a decent cot for my boys or hands when you have them locked up?
“He done broke his cot…others already taken….just in case ya forget, Mr. Lancer, this ain’t no fine hotel…this here is the town jail and well things git broke all the time,” Val shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe next time he won’t get his butt stuck ‘tween the slats and break it.”
Scott stood near the bars, his shoulders shaking as he laughed at the sight of his little brother curled into a tight ball, with a blanket draped tightly around his head. “Val, why’s the blanket over his head like that?”
Just then Rambler or Buck let her rip….full steam ahead with an onslaught of dreadful, voluble, rumbling flatulence gas, that was strong enough to make Scott take several steps backwards, gasping, “Oh….I see…” as he crinkled his nose in disgust at the changes to the air in the small office.
Murdoch likewise stepped back to open the front door, “Sheriff Crawford, I want you to release my son. No matter what he did, no one should have to be confined alongside that!”
“Welcome ta my world, Mr. Lancer, that’s been goin’ on all day and I can tell ya, it’s not makin’ me any ta happy….I had other plans for today besides waitin’ on Justice Morgan ta git his carcass into Green River. Iffin’ he wasn’t due any time now I’d be tickled pink ta throw ‘em all out of their asses, taking their stink with ‘em!” yelled Val.
He continued yelling, “But since I’m stuck in here…so’s Johnny…and iffin’ I recollect, didn’t we have an agreement ya keep him outta my town for awhile? The only reason he’s locked up with those two sons of warthogs is ‘cos Mayor Higgs dragged me outta of Miss Laura’s establishment, last night, screamin’ at me ta do my duty and arrest these miscreants. I ain’t any ta pleased with any Lancer at the moment for ruinin’ my New Year’s Eve celebratin’ with Miss Laura; we were ‘errrrrr right in the middle of something big when Higgs started his bangin’ on the door, brayin’ in that high-pitched whiney voice of his that makes my blood curdle.”
Val was standing up now, hanging his head down, shaking it, “He done took the wind out of my sails that’s fer sure…..damn pain in my ass is what that man is! Just ruined my entire night’s fun and this is my reward….” Val said as he pointed to the cell as another blast was heard.
“Oh….I see…, said Scott and Murdoch in harmony as they discovered why the Sheriff wasn’t extending any favors to Johnny.
“Murdoch?? Scott?? Can ya get me the hell outta here,” pleaded Johnny as he stood up looking with his big blue eyes asking for a reprieve from his torment.
Murdoch and Scott stepped alongside the cell, trying not to breathe any too deeply, “Hi ya my son….we’re working on it….seems Val’s pretty upset with good reason and we’re fresh out of bargaining chips with him for the moment. Looks like you’ll have to wait and tell your story to Justice Morgan,” said Murdoch.
“Can I get anything for you little brother, maybe a clothespin for your nose,” quip Scott as he held the sleeve of his jacket up to his nose and mouth.
Johnny grinned at his brother and said, “Thanks Boston…how about ya switchin’ places with me for a spell?”
“Thanks but no thanks…I didn’t go to Harvard for nothing…..I’ll sit this one out if you don’t mind….just what did those two eat?” questioned Scott.
“Well, as far as I can tell, besides black-eyed peas, possibly some deviled eggs, I think I caught a whiff of pickled pig knuckles and oh yeah….collard greens….I ain’t never smelled anything as horrible as this before. And the bad thing is they’re still sleepin’ and don’t even know how much they’re stinkin’ up the cell, said Johnny as he wrinkled his face at the next blast of gas hit the surface.
“Johnny, hang tight, we’ll be back…Scott, head down the road and meet the Justice and get him over here as fast as you can,” said Murdoch.
“Like I have a choice in the matter, Murdoch? Where are ya goin’…?” Johnny asked.
“I’m goin’ to see what can be done to improve Val’s disposition somewhat,” whispered Murdoch.
“Oh…I think I see,” said Johnny.
“You will, Johnny me boy, you will,” said Murdoch. “Oh and Johnny, why don’t you see if you can wake up your old acquaintances…see if they can exercise some control over that?” he said as he took extra long strides to reach the door to walk out into the fresh air.
“Yeah amigo that sounds like a great idea,” snarled Val as he heard more rumblings coming from the cell.
“Val, come on, help me out here….will ya? How about a bucket of nice cold well water to douse Stinky and Smelly outta of their comas?” Johnny asked, grinning at Val.
Val guffawed back at his friend; there was just no way he could stay mad for long at his old pal, “Now ya talkin’ partner…. I should have thought of that myself….wait here….I’ll be right back,” laughed Val as he picked up the wood bucket by the door. He headed down the street behind the hotel to fetch the water.
“Where does everybody think I’m goin”,” grumbled Johnny to himself, as he raised his arms up to stretch, he was greeted by another round of mind-numbing odors, holding his nose he began praying that Val would hurry back.
Val did rush back with the water; taking care to not spill a drop of the ice cold water. He opened the door of his office and was rewarded with yet another long stringer of stink. Johnny was standing with his face between the bars gasping for fresh air, he felt like a drowning man, engulfed by water and not knowing how to reach the surface. Grabbing the keys to the cell, Val opened it up and was getting ready to pitch it on the sleeping men.
“Val, ya just gotta give me the pleasure of handlin’ that myself…” coughed Johnny as he gulped.
Val couldn’t help but notice the pained expression on Johnny’s face and he acquiesced by handing the bucket over to Johnny, “Sure amigo, let ‘er buck!” Johnny took the bucket and drained half the contents over Ram’s head and the other portion onto Buck’s head. Immediately the men sat up, sputtering water out of their mouths and briskly shaking their wet heads.
“What the hell?” yelled Buck. “What’s ya do that fer Johnny?” he asked as he saw his friend standing there smirking holding on to an empty bucket.
“Johnny!!!! That’s a rotten way ta wake me up!!” Rambler shouting his displeasure.
Johnny and Val stood side by side looking down at them. Johnny spoke first, “Ya want talk about rotten do ya? What did ya two assholes eat last night? Ya been stinking up the place all day long! Me and Val had our fill of ya fartin’!”
“What??” asked Buck as he turned his head sideways to clear water from his ear.
“FARTIN’!! FARTIN’!! ALL DAY LONG!! ….YA TWO DIRTY STINKIN’ DOGS!” yelled Val. “It’s like Johnny said earlier – it’s been bad enough to make a skunk turn tail and run away! We’ve been puttin’ up with it….now it’s your turn….go on…rip ‘em all ya want ta now that you’re awake! Inhale deeply boys….it’s all you, you’re smellin’! I’d hope ya choke on ya own fragrances!”
“Johnny and me we’re gonna git us some fresh air! Come on amigo, I’m releasin’ ya from all the charges, as long as ya promise to fix that cot ya broke.”
“Ya got it Val, I’ll even build ya some nice sturdy ones….anything ya want as long as we’re getting’ the hell outta here,” laughed Johnny as he and Val walked out of the cell. “Where’s my boots?” he asked Val as he locked the cell back up.
“Over thar,” he pointed to his desk. “I was keepin’ my eye on ya boot money for ya. Ya know ya shouldn’t be runnin’ around with that kind of money.”
Johnny sat down at the desk and pulled his boots on, tucking his money pouch back down inside his left boot. He stood up, ran his hand through his hair, strapped on his holster, pulled on his hat then he and Val walked out the door with their arms around each other’s shoulders.
“Hey….Johnny…what about us?” yelled Rambler.
“Ya hear something Val?” asked Johnny.
Val shook his head no and said, “Nah…just the wind blowin’…hey partner how about a nice cold beer to toast the New Year? Ya’ buyin’ bucko!”
Johnny grinned and winked at Val, “You betcha!”
They crossed over to the First Chance saloon, pausing before walking through the bat wing doors; both checked the room, old habits that kept them on their toes and out of dangerous situations whenever possible. The interior showed only minor shambles from the previous night’s altercation. There were a couple tables filled with people still ringing in the New Year. Val and Johnny sauntered up to the far end of the bar where they could keep their eyes on the room. Johnny fished a gold coin out of his inside pants pocket, instead of digging for it from his boot, dropped it on the bar and ordered two beers.
Catching a glimpse of his face in the mirror, Johnny said, “Dios, Val, I look like hell. If I ever catch that card cheat I’m gonna…..”
“Bring in ta me ta handle, right?” finished Val.
Johnny looked at Val through the mirror as he raised his beer and took a long draw, “Well sure amigo.”
Val pulled a piece of paper out of his jacket pocket and unfolded it, “Take a look, Johnny, is this the man?”
Johnny held the paper up, looked at the crude drawing of the man and read the description – Wanted – Guy Watson – Known Gambler and Card Cheat – Short – Medium Built – Dark Hair – Brown Eyes – About 45 – Known to travel with associates.”
“Val this is the man, I’d recognize those beady little eyes anywhere. Are ya goin’ after him?”
“Nope, don’t need ta chase when I used my brains instead. I sent wires ta Spanish Wells and Morro Coyo…he was caught in Spanish Wells, pullin’ the same stunt. Sheriff Gabe will be transporting him and his cronies here since the Justice is headin’ this way. If push comes ta shove I’ll need ya, Stinky and Smelly ta sign complaints and be witnesses. Ya up ta it boy?”
“Hell yeah….this is great news Val! Murdoch can’t possibly be sore at me for missin’ his first footin’ now can he?”
“Oh yes I can young man, but under the circumstances I think I can forgive you, you paid a pretty steep price having to endure that cell for as long as you did…however you still have some explaining to do about being in Green River,” said Murdoch as he came up behind the two, and delivered to Johnny’s rear one solid smack as a reminder of who called the tune.
Johnny grinned sheepishly at his father, “Okay, Murdoch, I guess I deserved that one.”
“Yeah Johnny, just why in the tarnation were ya in my town?” questioned Val.
“I had ta get some of my money outta the bank for that first footin’ business, I’d needed gold coins, they were as close ta any gold gifts I could think of, that’s all. I’d figured I could get in and out without anyone seein’ me, except maybe the banker. Then I saw Buck and Ramblers’ horses tied up ta the hitchin’ post outside of here….thought they had high-tailed it out of the area after what happened in Morro Coyo last week so’s I poked my head in and well, ya know the rest of the story,” said Johnny ducking his head downwards with a sly grin. “I got a bit distracted.”
“Err Johnny, why were you planning on giving out gold coins for New Year’s gifts?” asked Murdoch looking perplexed at his son.
Johnny looked up to his father and drawled, “Murdoch ya were the one telling me I needed ta bring loaves of bread and a handful of gold…don’t ya remember? I don’t know why anyone would want a loaf of bread…now the gold I get that…that’s a nice gift for anybody ta get.”
Murdoch slapped his hand to his forehead, laughed hard before he said, “Not a handful of gold…you were to bring a shovelful of coal!”
“Oh….I could of sworn ya said gold….,” Johnny replied looking sheepish again. “Can’t figure why anyone would want a shovelful of coal as a gift either…seems like crummy gifts to give out if ya ask me! Guess I should have paid more mind to ya stories after Christmas dinner. It’s all ya fault ya know,” he grinned at his father.
Murdoch looked questioningly at Johnny before asking, “How is it my fault, son?”
“Well, first we eat a huge meal, then ya pass around all ya brandy while we were sitting and relaxing in front of a roaring fire….I was sleepy and probably only caught every other word or two,” laughed Johnny. “Ya sure about it bein’ coal and not gold, Murdoch?”
“I think I know my own traditions by now…Johnny me boy,” chortled Murdoch as he gently boxed Johnny on his chin.
Scott came rushing in, breathing heavy, “Murdoch, Val and Johnny…why am I not surprised…. little brother, Val let you out after all. The circuit judge is right behind me. Should I take him to your office to wait while you finish that beer?” asked Scott. “I don’t think you want me to drag him in here do you?”
“Nah, Scott…if ya don’t mind can ya take him to the hotel and have him check-in – looks like Johnny’s story holds water and we’re waitin’ for Sheriff Gabe ta bring his prisoners here…won’t be until tomorrow at the earliest,” said Val. “We’re just killin’ time, waitin’ for the air ta clear before headin’ back ta my office….ya brother had a great idea ta wake ‘em up and let ‘em sit in their own stew for awhile,” he laughed, slapping Johnny on the back.
“Oh…uhmmm, Sheriff Crawford, I think you’ll find that Miss Laura is expecting to see you this evening for dinner and ahhhhh dessert,” said Murdoch. “She was greatly disappointed that you and she…well….didn’t….like you said to Johnny “push comes to shove” I think she’s very amenable to you using your hmmmm own bargaining chips later on.”
“Hot dang!” exclaimed Val. “Johnny thar must be some truth ta that Scottish tradition after all, with ya bringin’ luck for the New Year. Next year ya can do that first footin’ thing again crossin’ my threshold…mi amigo bueno!”
“Sorry to disappoint you Sheriff Crawford, but Johnny will not be leaving Lancer ranch for the duration of the entire holiday season to make certain that he’s my first footer into the New Year!” said Murdoch as he placed his hand on top of Johnny’s shoulder. “You had him this year, next year he belongs to the Lancer clan.”
“Gee….it’s great to feel so wanted and needed,” said Johnny with a look of contentment upon his face, along with his spilt lip and black eye.
Patti H. – December 30, 2008
Hope this satisfies all the Johnny fans….I got him out of the pokey, without any penalties or fines; Val had good reasons for being cranky but Murdoch came to his rescue as well as Johnny’s and he wasn’t angry enough with Johnny knowing how much suffering Johnny endured from his old acquaintances to have a father-son fireside barn chat.
Thanks to Southernfrau for reminding me about other Southern New Year’s Day food traditions – Deviled Eggs and Collard Greens…..yummy!
Happy New Year Everyone!!
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2 thoughts on “Old Acquaintances Should Be Forgot – Part II by Patti H.”
I love this story and laugh every time I read it. Stinky and Smelly – You got to love it and Scott was no help. Thank you.
I love this story so much! I intend to reread it on New Years Eve-a perfect time for a very good laugh.