My Brother, The Gunhawk by Vicki L. Nelson

Word Count 3,910

July 22nd: Lancer Hacienda

“Goddammit, where is your brother?!”

“Ya asked me that a half-hour ago and at least a hundred times in the last week. Do ya think my answer has changed since the last time ya asked me that? And, Murdoch…language!”

“Not one word from your brother in a week’s time! He should have returned from Spanish Wells the same day he left! If he isn’t hurt, I’ll kill him!”

“Geez, Murdoch. You don’t leave him many choices, do you? If he ain’t hurt, then you’re gonna kill him?”

“Well, of course, I don’t want him hurt but I can’t figure out why he hasn’t gotten word to us in all this time. We know he was in Spanish Wells and that he got the $600 for the sale of the bull. Josh Nichols, the rancher that bought Mariposa confirmed that Scott had delivered him. Right after that, though, it’s like he vanished…pffft….off the face of the earth. That isn’t like your brother!”

“More like me, huh, Murdoch? That what you mean?”

“Maybe before, Johnny, but not any more. You would send word. But Scott has always been sensible; I think the boy was born responsible.”

“I’m worried, too, Murdoch. I know we’ve left word with Val and Sam and you’ve hired some Pinks to track Scott down. What else can we do?”

“I don’t know what else we can do, Johnny, but the waiting is driving me crazy. Let’s ride into Green River and see if Val or Sam have heard anything. Maybe there will be a wire from the Pinkerton Agency.”

“Sure thing, Murdoch. You call the tune!”

Murdoch kind of regretted saying that to his sons the first time he met them because they both liked to throw that statement back in his face. However Murdoch wasn’t above reminding them, on occasion, that he did, indeed, call the tune. Guess the knife cut both ways!

As Murdoch and Johnny saddled up and rode away from Lancer, Johnny couldn’t help but hope that Scott wasn’t hurt or worse. But, he knew that Scott had better have an explanation that would satisfy both his father and himself or Johnny didn’t envy his brother.

July 15th: Spanish Wells

The tall blonde Lancer son wrapped up ranch business sooner than he anticipated. He figured to take advantage of the extra time on his hands by heading over to the saloon for a tall, cool one before heading back to Lancer with the $600 he’d received for the sale of one of the Lancer prize bulls. Since his father, his brother, and he shared things equally, two hundred dollars of that belonged to him. Scott stood at the bar, enjoying his beer when the fight broke out between two cowhands crowded up beside him. Fists started flying and Scott tried to move away, but he wasn’t quick enough. One cowhand swung, the other cowhand ducked, and Scott got sucker-punched right in the jaw. Now ordinarily, this wouldn’t put him out for the count but his long legs tripped over someone’s feet and down he went, his head cracking against the marble bar. Scott Lancer was out cold.

July 22nd: Green River

Murdoch and Johnny Lancer rode into Green River and straight to the Sheriff’s office to talk to Val. And, as luck would have it, Dr. Sam Jenkins was there as well, talking to Val.

“Val, have you heard anything new on Scott?”

“Well no, Murdoch, but I did receive something interesting from the sheriff’s office in Caliente. Say, Johnny, you been anywhere besides Lancer lately?”

“No, Val. Couldn’t get away if I wanted to. With Boston gone ‘God knows where,’ we been a bit short-handed.”

“Well then, I got somethin’ interesting that I think you both might want to hear about. Apparently, Johnny Madrid’s in business for hisself again.”

“What the hell you talkin’ about, Val? There ain’t no Johnny Madrid lately, just Johnny Lancer!”

“Well, ya both just better listen to this description: “Johnny Madrid: Blue eyes….yep. Blonde…nope. Approximately 6’1”….nope. Slender build…well, you ain’t got no spare fat on ya, but not sure if ‘slender’ describes ya. So, sound like anybody ya know?”

Murdoch and Johnny looked at each other, disbelievingly…”SCOTT!?!”

“Yep, sounds like Scott to me, too. Not sure why he’d be trying to pass himself off as Johnny Madrid, though.”

“If he is, what the hell is he trying to pull?” growled his father, darkly.

Dr. Sam, who had been silent all this time, spoke up. “I’m not really sure he’s trying to ‘pull’ anything, Murdoch. That doesn’t sound like Scott, at least the Scott we all know. Let me ask you this, has he had a blow to the head or any traumatic incidents lately?”

“Well, Boston does tend to get clobbered over the head a lot,” said Johnny. “And just a month ago, he was target practice for a Gatling gun. Fella named Drago mistook him for Johnny Madrid.”

Sam nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe Scott has amnesia. It can be brought on by a blow to the head or a traumatic experience.”

“Amnesia?” questioned Murdoch. “What is that?”

“It means that Scott might not remember who he is. And since he was mistaken for Johnny Madrid recently, and pretty traumatically, maybe he believes he actually is Johnny Madrid…”

July 15th: Spanish Wells

Scott came to after a few minutes. Blinking slowly, he looked up at several faces peering down at him. “Mister, Mister….that was some knock to the head you took! You okay?”

Scott sat up slowly, put his gloved hand up to his forehead and groaned.

“Mister, who are you?” asked one of the men, anxiously.

“Madrid. Johnny Madrid.” muttered Scott in a low growl. Then, looking down at himself, he let out a howl. “What the hell! Whose idea of joke is this? What am I wearing? Looks like I got on my brother Scott’s duds!” And why is my gun belt riding so high?”

Several of the men looked at him funny. “Mister…Madrid? You was wearing those clothes when you walked in….” The man broke off when Scott glared menacingly at him. Another brave soul piped up, “I heard of Johnny Madrid, but you sure don’t match the description I read. Thought Johnny Madrid had dark hair…” Another glare from Scott, “Don’t believe everything you read or hear. I’m tellin’ ya, I’m Johnny Madrid!”

“Sure, ya are, Mr. Madrid,” said one of the men placatingly, as he backed away slowly. As Scott stared down again in dismay at his clothing, the man made a hand signal for “cuckoo” to his friend.

July 22nd: Green River

“What else does the wire from Caliente say?” asked Murdoch. “Has Scott gotten into any trouble?”

“Well, not yet. Seems he’s been spending money, drinking, and kicking over the traces but he ain’t shot anybody yet and nobody’s shot him. Oh, he’s handled the butt of his gun once or twice but never drew it. Seems nobody in Caliente wants to mess with him. Guess they haven’t figgered out he’s not the real Johnny Madrid.”

“Whew, thank goodness,” sighed Johnny. “Brother may think he’s Johnny Madrid, but he’ll draw his gun like Scott Lancer. He could get himself killed if someone decides to call him out. We gotta get to him before anyone else beats us to him!”

Murdoch agreed with his second son, but wanted to drop by the telegraph office first. Sure enough, there was a telegram from the Pinkerton Agency confirming that Scott was, indeed, in Caliente. Both Lancers took off for Caliente in a high gallop to save their son and brother from himself.

July 15th: Caliente, California

As the ‘faux’ Johnny Madrid drifted into Caliente, he noticed a store selling the exact type of duds he favored. Muttering to himself, he said, “I came to buy clothes, and clothes are what I’ll buy!” Scott aka “Johnny Madrid” walked out of the clothing store in Caliente, wearing his new purchases: Brown calzoneros , navy blue shirt with white embroidery, black concho belt and black concho hat, complete with stampede strings, not to mention silver Spanish spurs on his boots and gun belt hanging low. As he was removing his old clothing, he discovered he was carrying $600 in the inside pocket of his jacket. He didn’t remember what ‘jobs’ he had done to make that kind of money, but it was unimportant. He was pleased to discover that much money on his person. “Hot damn!” he crowed. After paying for his purchases and walking to the door in his new garb, the proprietor asked him what he wanted to do with his brown pants, tan tattersall shirt, two-toned jacket, and tan hat. “Keep ’em or burn ’em,” said the blonde. “I don’t ever want to see them again!”

He then proceeded to walk over to the saloon and gambling hall and proceeded to have the time of his life. Liquor (tequila being his beverage of choice) flowed freely and money was spent like there was no tomorrow. Johnny Madrid, the real Johnny Madrid, was an ace poker player: Scott Lancer, not so much, and the $600 began to dwindle quickly. The real Johnny Madrid could also handle his tequila: Scott Lancer, again, not so much. So between tequila, women, and song, the money didn’t last long. The sheriff of Caliente kept a sharp eye out on ‘Johnny Madrid,’ but since no one had called him out and since he hadn’t done much more than handle the butt of his gun, there was no reason to arrest him. He was making a general nuisance of himself with the each shot of tequila he threw down his throat, but he hadn’t done anything that was against the law. ‘Senor Madrid’ hung around Caliente for a week without calling anyone out or without being called out but he was running low on funds. He began to consider taking on jobs, once more.

July 22nd: Caliente

Murdoch and Johnny Lancer rode into Caliente in search of the errant Lancer son. They headed over to the sheriff’s office to inquire about ‘Johnny Madrid.’ Sheriff Cutler informed them that ‘Madrid’ was indeed in town and usually hung around the Red Dog Saloon so Murdoch and Johnny rushed over there. Peering over the bat-wing doors, they finally spotted the tall blonde that they’d been worried about for a week. Johnny started to walk into the saloon when Murdoch reached out his arm to stop him.

“No, son. Wait out here. I’m going to see if he recognizes me. Stand here and guard the door.”

Murdoch walked into the saloon and up to the bar. He politely elbowed his way to the side of his eldest son. “Drink?” he asked.

Scott eyed Murdoch coolly up and down, no trace of recognition in his blue-gray eyes. “Only if I know the man I’m drinking with…”

Murdoch gave a start, but recovered quickly. “Oh, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Murdoch Lan…., uh Mr. Murdoch.” If the name meant anything to the blonde, his face revealed nothing.

Shaking hands, Scott said, “The name’s Madrid. Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch blinked stupidly. Recovering quickly, he said, “The famous gunslinger?”

“So, they say.”

“Well, it would be an honor to buy a legend a drink. What’ll it be?”

“Tequila.” Murdoch paused, knowing how Scott handled his tequila, but bought him a round anyway.

Scott threw it down his throat, straightaway, then glanced at Murdoch. “Thanks,” he said, politely.

Murdoch decided to play along. “Are you still in the gun-hawk business?” he asked.

“Well, I find myself a little short on funds at the moment so what did you have in mind?”

Murdoch grimaced. Scott was short on funds? What happened to the $600 he was carrying? Well, he guessed that was a question for a later time.

“I might have a job for you,” he said. “What do you…um….charge?”

The tall blonde sized him up, “Ten dollars a day…and bullets.”

Murdoch choked on his scotch. “Aren’t you selling yourself a little cheap these days?”

Scott frowned. “Well, I charge on a sliding scale…the richer my client, the more I charge. Can you afford more?”

Murdoch nodded, mutely. “Well, let me sleep on it. Will you still be here tomorrow?”

Scott nodded. “Can’t say, but since I’m pretty low on funds, chances are good.” As Murdoch pivoted on his heel, a thought came to him and he turned back to his eldest. “Say,” he said. “There’s a rumor you have a brother, name of Scott Lancer?”

Scott eyed him suspiciously, then said, “Not sure how you know that, Mr. Murdoch. So happens I do have a brother named Scott. You know of him?”

“I’ve heard of him, he’s a rancher near Morro Coyo. I heard tell he’s in town.”

“Here in Caliente? Well, if you happen to run into him, will you tell him I’d like to see him!” said ‘Madrid’ eagerly.

“I’ll do that,” said Murdoch as he shook hands with his son and told him he’d look him up tomorrow in the same place and let him know his decision about the “job.”

Murdoch then walked out of the saloon in a daze and found his youngest son standing just outside the door.

“Well, Murdoch? What’d he say? Does he really think he’s Johnny Madrid?” pestered Johnny.

“Yes, John. Your brother thinks he’s Johnny Madrid. He didn’t recognize me, but he does remember his brother ‘Scott’ and asked for him.”

“’Scott?’” puzzled Johnny. “He’s Scott!”

“You know that and I know that, but he doesn’t know that! I think you need to go to him and play along. See what happens.”

“Now?” asked Johnny.

“No time like the present. We need to bring him home somehow…Wait a minute, son. You can’t go in there dressed like that!”

“Dressed like what?” asked Johnny, suspiciously.

“Dressed like Johnny Madrid. If he truly believes you’re ‘Scott,’ he will expect you to dress like Scott.”

“Dress like Scott? Are you kidding? This is getting more and more confusing. And, how do you propose I dress like Scott?”

“Well, I just so happened to pass by the clothing store and noticed that there were some second-hand clothes on sale that looked just like Scott’s.”

Johnny groaned. “Brown pants, tan shirt, tan hat…looks fine on Scott, but not on me! I’m a snappier dresser!”

“You want to help your brother, don’t you?”

“Y-e-s…All right, I’ll go get the clothes, I’ll wear the clothes, but I hope to hell no one that knows me will catch me in those boring duds.”

“You’re a good brother, John!’ said Murdoch, with a wink. Johnny just groaned again.

Twenty minutes later, the faux ‘Scott’ walked up to his father. Murdoch hid a grin when he noticed his normally colorful son dressed in brown and tan.

“Oh, son…better pull that gun belt up higher. Remember ‘Scott’ isn’t a gunfighter.”

Johnny looked down at this gun belt with a moan. “Good God, the things I do for Boston! All right, all right,” he said, adjusting his gun belt. “Gotta tell ya, makes me feel practically naked, though! And, the legs and sleeves of this get-up are a little long for me.”

“No one will notice. Just get in there and see if he thinks you’re him.”

Johnny looked down at the ground, moaning and mumbling under his breath as he swung open the bat-wing doors. Spotting his older brother, sitting at a back table observing the room, he strolled over to him.

The ruse worked. Scott jumped up and greeted his brother with a huge smile. “Scott! What are you doing here, brother? I’m really glad to see ya! Sit down, have a drink!”

Johnny ‘Scott’ Lancer sat down at the table and greeted Scott ‘Johnny Madrid’ Lancer. “Well, I been worried about you, brother. Haven’t seen or heard from you for a week! What you doing here, anyway?”

“Got tired of the routine on the ranch, Scott. Had to light out for a while. Being on a schedule never suited me. Not sure if I’ll ever get used to it. Never like my fun scheduled…my work, either,” said the blonde.

“Understood, brother. Let’s not talk about business tonight. What say I buy you some tequila and we celebrate and talk about old times,” said the dark-haired Lancer brother.

“I wouldn’t refuse,” said Scott.

Johnny bought a bottle of tequila for Scott, then realized he was going to have to drink Scotch since he was ‘Scott.’ He had a plan. While Johnny Madrid could hold his tequila, Scott Lancer couldn’t. Johnny intended to nurse his scotch (which wouldn’t be a problem) while getting Scott good and liquored up on tequila. If he could get him drunk, they could get the sheriff to lock him up where they could keep an eye on him. That’s as far as the plan went. Johnny wasn’t sure how to get the real Scott Lancer back, but figured he and his father could take it one step at a time.

Several hours later, the plan worked perfectly. Scott got real drunk, real fast, and with some goading from Johnny, got into a fist fight, breaking furniture and liquor bottles, then passing out cold over the bar. Johnny and Murdoch carried a comatose Scott over to the sheriff’s office and Sheriff Cutler threw him into a jail cell. Now they had him where they could keep an eye on him until they could figure out how to get his memory back for him.

July 23 rd : Caliente

Scott Lancer, sleeping it off in the Caliente jail, was having a nightmare. He, Scott, was Johnny Madrid, facing down Scott Lancer. Both men had their guns drawn and there was a mighty gun blast when Scott fell off his cot, hitting his head against the stone floor. Sheriff Cutler, hearing the racket, rushed over to his cell.

“Mr. Madrid! You all right? What are you doing on the floor?” he asked.

Scott groaned, sat up and rubbed the back of his head. Looking around, dazedly, he grunted “Is this some kind of joke? My name is Scott Lancer; I am not Johnny Madrid!” Looking down, he shouted, “What the hell? Is this some kind of joke? Where are my clothes? Why am I dressed like Johnny? Why am I in jail? THIS.IS.NOT.FUNNY!”

“You’re Scott Lancer?”

“Yes, I’m Scott Lancer! What is going on?”

“Hold on, Mr. Lancer. As luck would have it, your brother is here to see you!”

“Johnny’s here?”

“Yep, I’ll send word to him that you want to see him.”

Fifteen minutes later, Johnny strolled into the Caliente jail and asked to see Scott. Sheriff Cutler pointed to Scott’s cell and Johnny leaned up against the bars.

“Well hello, brother! Where ya been? You were supposed to be back from Spanish Wells over a week ago and here you are drunk, disorderly, and in the Caliente jail! Not a word from you. Murdoch and I were worried about ya. And, I don’t mind tellin’ ya, Murdoch’s madder than a mule chewing bumblebees!”

Scott’s jaw dropped open. “You’re not at all funny! What do you mean I’ve been gone a week without a word. I remember going to Spanish Wells, selling one of our bulls for $600 and going over to the saloon for a beer before I rode home.”

Johnny grinned and shook his head. “Nope, it’s been a week, ain’t seen hide nor hair of you, and not word one from ya!”

“That’s impossible! It’s the fourteenth!”

“Nope, brother. It’s the twenty-third….Sheriff?”

“Yep, it’s the twenty-third.” Showing Scott the Caliente Daily Gazette, Sheriff Cutler showed him the date on the front page.

Scott paled, “The twenty-third? That’s not possible!”

Johnny’s grin got even wider. “Yep, brother. The twenty-third…Say, where’s the $600 you got for the bull?”

Scott’s eyes widened and he patted his pockets frantically. Finding nothing, he looked hopefully over to the sheriff.

“Nope. Sorry, boy. You only had a $20 gold piece when I brought you in and searched you.”

Scott turned green from the combination of the shock and the tequila. He ran to the basin just in time to heave his guts out.

“Whew, brother…You smell like a tequila distillery! Let’s see if I got this straight? You went into Spanish Wells on the fourteenth, you sold one of our bulls for $600, and you were supposed to be home later that day. Instead, we find you in Caliente over a week later, without one word from ya, in jail on a drunk and disorderly charge, ya reek of tequila, ya ran up a bill for all the damage you did brawling over at the Red Dog last night, you only had $20 on ya when the sheriff ran ya in last night. I ain’t even gonna ask what you’re doing dressed like me….whooey, brother! Wouldn’t want to be you when Murdoch gets a hold of you. He ain’t gonna think of me as the bad son for a long, long time! Better get your story straight; Sheriff Cutler’s releasing you into my custody and Murdoch’s in town waiting for us.” As Johnny rattled on, Sheriff Cutler unlocked the jail cell, swinging the door open so Scott could go free.

Johnny was winding down, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw Scott charging straight for him. Scott grabbed his brother, gave him a mighty shove, and pushed him free of the cell door. Scott then closed the cell door with a loud clang.

“What the….?” sputtered Johnny.

“No, please!” pleaded Scott. “Sheriff, lock me up. I’m much safer here than I am out there with my father!”

Johnny snickered and turned to Sheriff Cutler. “Hmm, well maybe it would be best to let brother sleep it off for a little while longer, maybe get a good story together. Lock him back up and walk out with me?”

Turning to Scott, Johnny said “Be back in a little while, Boston. I’ll bring Murdoch with me when I return.”

Scott laid down on the cot, pulled the pillow over his head, and groaned. Johnny snickered.

Sheriff Cutler, escorted Johnny out the front door. Since he knew the reason behind Scott’s misadventure, he questioned Johnny. “Is your Pa really mad at your brother? If what you and the doctor says is true, Scott had amnesia and none of this was his fault.”

Johnny grinned, then bust out laughing. “Naw, it ain’t Scott’s fault. Murdoch understands that. He ain’t real happy with the way things turned out, but he knows Scott ain’t to blame. Scott ain’t really in the trouble I told him he was.”

The sheriff gaped at him. “Then why’d you say all that stuff to him? You can tell he believes it all and he’s worried sick about what to tell your father..”

Johnny snickered. “Oh, I’ll let him in on the secret when I come back to get him. Just kind of fun to feel like the “good” son for once and lettin’ ol’ Boston stew for a while!”

As Johnny walked over to the hotel to meet up with Murdoch for breakfast and fill him in, Scott stayed in the same spot….flat on his back, with the pillow over his head, and wracking his brain for a reasonable explanation.

“DAMMIT…why do these things always happen to me!?!” A few minutes passed, and the famous “Johnny (Scott) Madrid began to snore softly. ‘Johnny Madrid’ had retired.

.

~ end ~

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9 thoughts on “My Brother, The Gunhawk by Vicki L. Nelson

    1. Thank you…glad I was good for a laugh (and a beer.) This was actually the first Lancer story I wrote, so after your comment, I had to reread it. Made me laugh in a few spots, too.

      Like

  1. This was fun and I really enjoyed reading it. Always good to see all three Lancer men involved in a comical adventure. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheryl

    Like

    1. Hi, thanks for reading. This was my first attempt at Lancer fan fiction and Scott didn’t fare too well…lol!

      Like

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