Follow-Up to “Brothers In Arms”
Summary: The Aftermath of Mud Wrestling With One’s Brother in a Pigsty
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Word count: 2,589
We last left Johnny and Scott heading for home, banished from the Talbot’s ranch under the vigilant eyes of Mrs. Talbot with one barrel of her double-barreled shotgun primed, laced with buckshot, ready for action, pointed in their direction. The brothers’ saga continues…
“Thanks a whole hell of a bunch, Boston,” Johnny grumbled as his nose turned up at the nauseating whiffs of odious smells embedded upon him. It was in his hair, his nostrils, clinging to the outside of his clothes, but the worst was the mess had penetrated even his calzoneras, those were exceedingly clammy against his jewels. He was praying not to be rubbed raw by the end of the ride home as the sun dried the leather out, shrinking them tight and god forbid him. “Shit, guess this is a good enough reason ta wear those friggin’ drawers, betcha Scott’s not gonna have that problem”, he pondered.
In his mind, Johnny knew that this was gonna be a miserable journey. The closest body of water to stop and rinse off was at the very least a good seven miles away. Mrs. Talbot was not being particular forgiving towards them at the moment; they didn’t dare double-back to use their stream about a half-mile from their ranch house.
“Oh no YOU don’t, brother, don’t YOU dare blame me for this predicament. If memory serves me correctly, and there’s nothing wrong with MY head. YOU started it. YOU just couldn’t keep YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT. YOU had to keep yammering on and on AND ON about Moira. Let me expounded this thought into that thick skull of YOURS, brother, where I come from we don’t talk about OUR female acquaintances in public, like YOU seem to enjoy.”
“Oh that’s right, Boston; I fell into the trough without any help from YA. YA can come clean now,” he paused long enough to snicker at that thought, “ain’t anyone but YA and me. Hell there ain’t even a friggin’ breeze blowin’ to carry YOUR story ta the four winds. All I’m sayin’ is that Irish lass of yours was squealin’ a lot like the Talbot’s pigs before YA waltzed outta of that barn. So what exactly were YA doin’ in there?”
“Johnny, I’m warning you to back off,” glared Scott.
“Or what?” taunted Johnny as he eyeballed his brother.
“I have you squealing like those pigs is what.”
“Anytime ya think ya can crowd me, Boston, well ya just come on,” replied Johnny, who flicked a gob of the muck that had been dripping down his neck towards the ground. “Man, this shit stinks!”
The gob flew past Sheridan’s twitching nostrils, that now flared at the close proximity of the dreaded pig scent, his eyes rolled back in their sockets as he neighed his protest at the flying missile. Sheridan reared up on his hind legs, unseating Scott who had been paying more attention to his next pointed retort to his brother than to his grip on Sheridan’s reins. Scott landed in an undignified squishy plop to the ground, sending waves of dust billowing upwards, into his eyes while Sheridan race towards greener pastures.
“Oh looky there, Scott, even Sheridan’s had enough of YA for one day,” Johnny snorted as his brother rose to his feet. Johnny was relieved to note that Scott was unharmed; maybe a little bruised or sore, but nothing looked out of place.
“Thanks, brother. I hadn’t noticed.”
Johnny continuing laughing as he took stock of Scott’s condition, “Well, that’s one way ta help coat the stink, cover it up with even more dirt.”
“Allow me to help YOU do the same, brother,” said Scott as he grabbed fistfuls of Johnny’s foul slimy red shirt, yanked him from Barranca to the dusty ground in a heap at his feet.
Barranca must have had his fill of dreadful squish, plop, flick from those two noisy critters that he too raced away. He galloped down the same route as Sheridan, in the direction of his stall, away from those horrible smelly boys. Even Johnny’s shrill whistle didn’t stop his hasty retreat.
“DIOS! BOSTON! Are ya outta of YOUR mind? Now neither one of us has a horse ta ride. FUCKIN’ GREAT!”
“I suppose this is my entire fault too?”
“YA got that right, bucko! I was hopin’ ta get home sooner rather than later ta get the hell outta of these clothes.”
“Like I don’t want to enjoy a nice long soak in a hot bath and forget about today?”
“Yeah Boston, ya sure could use one.”
“So could you, Johnny.”
“Shit, guess we’re walkin’.”
“Let’s move, maybe our horses will stop up somewhere to graze on some sweet grass.”
“Are ya loco? We’re lucky we got this far on them as it is. ‘Case ya didn’t notice horses ain’t too fond of pigs. Smell probably had ‘em spooked, then with all YOUR yellin’…”
“Don’t start with me again, Johnny,” cautioned Scott as he pointed a finger at his brother.
“Start? Why Scott I don’t remember finishin’ with YA before YA ass kissed the ground. YA better not be too sore ta move come mornin’, ‘tween the fall and now the FRIGGIN’ walk back ta Lancer!”
“Oh, don’t YOU worry yourself any on my account, little brother. I’ll be back at the Talbots come hell or high water to finish the fence. And the barn. Without YOU!”
For the next hour or so, the pair walked in complete silence; well it was mostly silent, except for the sucking noises from the muck coming from within their respective boots. Each step was almost musical as their gaits offset the other’s “squish, squish, squish, squish”, accompanied by the soft clinking and jingling of Johnny’s spurs that randomly spun, just not as freely with traces of muck impeding some of the circular motion.
Johnny stopped, dropping his compact rear to the ground; he removed his boots, then shook the interior contents to the ground. His once white socks were coated, in wet, black ooze. He rubbed the soles of his feet against the soft dirty to soak up some of the moisture as there was no way he was going to walk without those on his feet. He recalled the time when he chased Mattie down a field and his feet were punctured with sticky needles. Not this time.
Scott had continued his military match for another twenty paces, before he realized there wasn’t any additional noises accompanying his own. He turned to see what his brother was doing, besides lagging behind.
“Are you coming?”
“In a minute.”
“What are you doing?”
Johnny looked up at Scott with a look of surprised disbelief, “Makin’ my boots, a bit less miserable. What do ya think I was doin’? Recitin’ the “Gettysburg Address” ta the prairie dogs or something?”
“With you, little brother, I have learned that one never knows what to expect.”
“GOOD! I like it that way.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. You don’t like your fun organized either. Seems to me that I heard that somewhere before, a time or two or three.”
“Shut up, Scott.”
So intent on their on-going bickering, neither brother noticed a wagon was approaching from the west.
“Whoa Zanzibar,” said Murdoch as he pulled on the reins to gawk at the sight before him. There were his two sons; at least they appeared to be his sons, carrying on a shouting match in the middle of nowhere. This was not at all what he expected. His eyes scanned the field for their mounts to verify in his mind that those indeed were his sons.
“BOSTON, ya are the most stubborn tin-horn!”
“Takes one to know one, brother.”
Murdoch watched as Johnny and Scott swung punches at the other. He stood up in the wagon to shout, “BOYS!”
That did not get their attention as the brothers circled each other, looking for their next opportunity to take another pot shot to the other.
“BANG! BANG! BANG!”
Murdoch fired three rapid shots into the air, pleased to see that his sons turned towards him. He returned his weapon to its hostler.
“OH SHIT, it’s the ol’ man,” grumbled Johnny. “This day can’t get any worse.”
“BOYS! OVER HERE NOW!” he shouted. Turning to his companions in the wagon, he said, “My most sincere apologies ladies for you having to bear witness to my two idiot sons. I have no idea what has come over them, lately.”
Both occupants had been watching the unfolding action with wide-eyes and mouths slightly ajar.
“I understand completely Murdoch, but I think you better go talk with your young men. They don’t seem to want to move,” said Aggie.
“Aggie, will you hold the reins for me,” said Murdoch. “Probably is better if I go have a father-son talk with them over there.” He passed them to her, winking at her, which made the other lady giggled at his boldness.
“Ladies, pardon me. I’ll be back soon.” He stepped down from the wagon, glaring towards his sons as he hitched his trousers up a notch.
“He looks aggravated, Johnny. Better let me do all the talking.”
“Boy, he does looks pissed. I see his brow wrinklin’ from here.”
“So do I.”
“His face is all red.”
“His jaw is clenched.”
“We’re in for it now, Boston.”
“I would say so.”
Johnny had stooped over to tug his boots back on, straighten up just as Murdoch reached them. Murdoch stared at each of his sons, taking in their appearance as their stink reached his nostrils; he backed up a few feet.
“Just what is going on here, my sons? You are my sons aren’t you? Hard to tell with all that….”
“Shit,” Johnny supplied.
“I told you to let me do the talking.”
“BOYS! Now that I know for certain that you are my sons, I’ll do the talking; you do the answering. Nothing else is required.”
“Dios,” mumbled Johnny, getting an elbow in his chest from Scott.
“STOP! Scott, you over there,” said Murdoch pointing to a spot five feet away. “Johnny, don’t move from where you are standing, young man. The next one who makes a move towards the other answers to me.”
“Gladly, sir,” Scott said as he stepped away from Johnny.
“Now I’ll ask each one of you a question, the other one is to remain completely silent. Understood?”
“Ya just said to be quiet.”
“JOHN LANCER! Do not play with me.”
“Scott, where are your horses?”
“Run off, back at the barn by now I suspect.”
“Johnny, what in God’s name is that disgusting mess on you and your brother?”
“Ya don’t really want ta know, but it’s from the Talbot’s pigsty.”
“Well sir, Johnny started it…”
“I DID NOT!”
“SILENCE! BOTH OF YOU!” he had placed his hands on his hips and glared at each son with stubborn, unyielding command of his errant sons. When he had sent them off today, this was not how he expected to see them return later in the day.
“That’s better. I see today’s exercise in helping one’s neighbor hasn’t ended your brotherly squabbling. Johnny, I thought I told you specifically young man to stop pestering your brother over that McGloin girl. Whatever happened in that barn is his business, not yours. If he decides to tell you that is entirely up to him. However, you are to stop riding him over that girl. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
Scott smirked at Johnny.
But Johnny missed the smirked as he was pre-occupied. He was paying close attention to his toeing of the ground, small little circles he traced round and round with the tip of his boot.
“Son, I’m waiting.”
Johnny nodded his head, “Yes sir, like glass.”
“Don’t stand there smirking at your brother Scott. You are just as responsible as he.”
“You’re the eldest. I expect you not to needle him over matters that you want to keep private. A simple, that’s my business should be enough from here on out from either of you TO the other,” he stated. “Don’t try pulling that one on me. Are we in accord on this?”
“Yes sir,” the boys said.
“Good. I’m sure there’s more to this story than what just meets the eye. But right now I don’t have time to hear it all. We have guests for dinner tonight. Mrs. Conway and Miss Drury are waiting to be escorted back to the ranch. They are also spending the night. I expect top notch manners during their stay, which means no more bickering. That is unless you want to finish our conversation in the barn?”
Johnny and Scott glanced over at the wagon to see two ladies looking on.
“No, sir, not me.”
“Me neither ol’ m…sir.”
“I would offer you a ride…but seeing as how you two could use a good, hot bath, I don’t think I want our guests enduring the ride with the likes of you two at the moment.”
He saw the fallen looks upon their faces, “Besides, boys the walk will do you good. You can finish ironing out your differences before you reach Lancer.”
“But Murdoch…please. Don’t leave us here. Not like this,” Scott pleaded.
“Murdoch, ya jokin’ right?”
“No joke Johnny. Sorry Scott, I don’t want the ladies getting a whiff of you two. Especially Miss Drury, the new school teacher for Green River. I wanted her to have a better first impression of you, my boy, other than smelling like the inside of an outhouse. Seeing as how, you’ll be attending school with her as your teacher,” he grinned.
Scott and Johnny clearly were not amused; even their father was going to leave them to their own devices.
“No, you boys keep walking. I’ll send Cip out with some towels, lye soap and a fresh change of clothes so you can wash up at the lake first. I’ll check with Maria and Teresa to see if they have enough tomatoes still canned from last year for your baths. Need something strong to get rid of those odors. Now, no dawdling. I’ll expect you on time for dinner. Six o’clock sharp! Proceed.”
“MURDOCH!” his sons shouted after their sire. He stopped once to make a shooing motion at them, and then walked to his wagon and the waiting ladies.
Aggie laughed as she saw the boys gapping at their father, “Well Murdoch, that’s one way to handle them.”
“Aggie, I’m just getting started,” he said as he settled back down in the wagon, took over the reins, leaving his sons behind.
“You really don’t mean to leave them there, do you?”
“I’ll send one of the boys out to round them up after we get to Lancer. Otherwise, they won’t make it back before nightfall. Their clothes are starting to cake up, pretty soon neither one will be able to walk.”
“You mean unless they take everything off?” she laughed.
“Yup. But I think Scott will be able to contain his brother right now. Both are too concerned about what else is coming to think about walking around scans clothes. Besides, Johnny would never give up those pants of his.”
“Mr. Lancer, is that the son you plan to send to my school?”
“Never fear, Miss Drury, he cleans up nicely. Both do when they have a mind to.”
“But Mr. Lancer, he’s all grown-up.”
“Not yet he isn’t, Miss Drury, not by a long shot.”
Patti – April 8, 2010
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