Johnny by Vicki L. Nelson

Word Count 774

In loving memory of Wayne Maunder, our Scott now and forever.
Thanks to Raian’s help. It’s been invaluable!



Who Makes Me Happy #2


Johnny crept quietly into the darkened room and took the chair at Scott’s bedside which had been vacated by Mrs. Tabor.

The laudanum must have worked its magic quickly; Scott seemed to be deeply asleep. Johnny sat and watched his brother. In repose, he looked so young and so carefree, quite unlike the worried expression he had worn since he’d returned from his ride with Julie.

Johnny spoke softly. “Damn, brother. Here you sleep while you created quite the hubbub out in the parlor. Old Harlan’s spitting nails and creating all kinds of commotion while Murdoch looks like he lost his last friend. The Tabor’s are sitting there, trying to avoid the slings and arrows!”

Sighing, Johnny continued on. “Boston, I would never tell you this if you were conscious, but you’ve gotten under my skin. It wasn’t supposed to happen; I could never afford to let anyone get close to me in my former profession. When I first laid eyes on you, all I could see was the fancied-up city slicker. I figured you’d run back to Boston with your tail tucked between your legs. I wasn’t much impressed with your military background. Hell, you know that. You heard me call you a ‘tin soldier.’”

Johnny paused, studied his brother’s face, and continued on. “Boy, was I wrong about you! I was pretty impressed when you jumped Barranca over the fence and wagon and found out you were cavalry. ‘Course, I couldn’t let you know that. Then there was that fight down by the river. Boy, for someone wearing plaid pants, you had a mean right hook! Can’t say I didn’t deserve that punch. Then, when all was said and done, you saved my sorry hide from being killed. That was some shootin,’ brother! I wouldn’t tell Murdoch this, but if you left Lancer, I don’t know if I woulda stayed on. You made life on the ranch a lot more bearable with both of us learning to live with the ‘tune caller.’”

Johnny leaned over and studied his brother’s face intently. Satisfied that Scott was truly asleep, Johnny whispered, “I…I love you, brother.”

A slow smile spread over Scott’s face. “Thank you, little brother. I truly thought I’d never hear those words from you. You know how close-mouthed we Lancer men can be!”

Johnny reared back in his chair. “Damn, Scott! Were you playing possum all that time? You really are sneaky, brother. If you didn’t already have that head injury, I’d sock you one!”

Scott smiled weakly. “Guess I’d deserve it.”

Johnny returned the smile and the two sat quietly for a while. Johnny noticed Scott was close to drifting off, this time for real, and asked him a question. “I can understand you not wanting to see your abuelo, but why don’t you want to see Murdoch?”

Scott frowned. “Why would I? He sure wasn’t putting up a fight to keep me at Lancer and he never tried to bring me home from Boston. He doesn’t care about me, Johnny.”

Johnny flinched. “Scott, you trust me, don’t you? Believe me, Murdoch does care and he had his reasons for not stopping you from leaving. He and I were talking before you came back from your ride with Julie. I asked him why he didn’t go to Boston to claim you. He got a miserable look on his face and said, ‘I tried.’ He said it so quietly, I almost didn’t hear him. That’s when you came in, loaded for bear and he didn’t say any more.”

Scott looked deep into Johnny’s eyes with a questioning look. “Are you sure you heard him right? What did he mean by ‘I tried.’”

“Hell, Scott, I don’t know what he meant by that. Sounds like Murdoch owes you an explanation so ya better stick around and make him tell it.” 

Scott’s eyelids were growing heavy. “I’m staying and when I have time to process all this, I’ll talk to Murdoch. He owes me the truth.”

Scott drifted off and Johnny let out a sigh of relief. Scott had consented to talk to Murdoch when he was feeling more like himself. That’s all Johnny could ask for. He wasn’t ready for his little family to disband.

Johnny tiptoed out of the room as quietly as he had when he had entered. Before opening the door, he turned back and whispered. “Sleep well, brother. Welcome home.”

To Part 3 : Coming Home


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