Word Count 1,420
WARNING: This is a satirical WHI and also a deathfic. If that offends you in any way, please don’t read.
It had been a long and dusty ride for the passengers in the crowded stage coach. After four hours of bumping into each other, Scott Lancer swore that the driver had indeed not missed any of the stray rocks or ruts in the roadway. To add insult to injury, they had been served beans at the last rest stop – so not only was the coach hot – it smelled! Scott sat close to his window, incensed that he was the only one affected by the stench.
Gazing at the passing landscape, he thought of the Pinkerton’s words – how his father had promised Scott a thousand dollars for an hour of his time. A thousand dollars was a thousand dollars and Scott wasn’t about to miss out on a little free cash. His grandfather – Harlan Garrett – had always taught him to be thrifty and to never pass on an opportunity to turn a profit. Closing his eyes he dreamed of Boston and how it was going to take a lot more than a thousand dollars for him to get the aches and pains massaged out of his body. Smiling to himself, he wondered if there were any good masseuses in Moro Coyo. Before leaving Boston he had treated himself to his last manicure and rubdown. His grandfather had warned him that California was uncivilized, so he wanted to steep himself in the last vestiges of civilization before his journey into the wilderness.
With his nose stuck safely out the window, blonde haired Lancer ignored the rest of the passengers – peasants. Grandfather was correct, there was no social order out west; the area was populated by riffraff. Patting the small gun he kept in his breast pocket, Scott felt reassured that he could defend himself should the need arise. The training he received at the feet of Phil Sheridan would serve him well if he was threatened.
Without warning, the coach started to slow down and grind to a halt. Squinting through the dust, Scott watched as a drifter raced up a creek bed with a saddle thrown over his shoulder. Stories of stage coach robbers had been shared at the last stop, so Scott drew his weapon from his coat. With his long fingers wrapped securely around the grip, Scott kept it hidden from the drifter’s sight.
The drifter was a filthy dark haired ruffian. With a shudder, Scott figured that the man probably smelled as bad as he looked. To his chagrin, the drifter asked the driver for a ride to Moro Coyo and the driver agreed – but only if the young man would yield his weapon.
It was then that Scott decided to take action. He carefully watched the face of the dark haired cowboy as he seemed to hesitate on whether to hand over his gun or not. Convinced that they were about to be robbed, Scott aimed his gun at the younger man and fired. The young man looked at Scott in stunned silence before falling to the ground; a red stain growing in the center of his chest.
“What ya do that for?” the driver demanded.
“He was going for his gun!” Scott protested, insulted that his actions were questioned by a mere driver.
“He was going to hand it to me!” the driver yelled, shaking his head in disgust. Climbing down from his perch, the driver placed two fingers at the throat of the man who now lay sprawled on the ground. “You murdered him!”
“I did not!” Scott climbed out of the coach and took a closer look at the dead man.
“He didn’t even have his gun drawn!”
“He was going to!”
“Well, around here – we call it murder when ya shoot someone just ‘cause you ‘think’ they might be pulling a gun!” With that said the driver snatched the gun from Scott’s hand and tucked it into his jacket. “Now get the shovel from the boot and start digging!”
“Me?” Scott thought of his freshly manicured hands and was horrified that he would be getting his nails dirty. The driver gave him a scathing glare, so reluctantly Scott went to the back of the coach and pulled the shovel out and began to dig while the driver removed whatever personal belongings the drifter had in his pockets.
An hour later, the stage coach arrived in Moro Coyo. A dark haired girl was waiting on a buckboard with two men. With fascination she watched as an immaculately clad blonde haired young man disembarked. “Mr. Lancer?”
“That’s me!” Scott turned toward the girl and smiled. Perhaps life at his father’s ranch wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“I’m Teresa O’Brien – your father’s ward. Your father went to the store, but he’ll be right back…” Teresa’s smiles of welcome frowned as the driver signaled for the sheriff. Val Crawford approached the stage, tipping his hat with respect to Teresa before addressing the driver.
“You got a problem, Clyde?”
“This man killed a stranger about a mile back…”
“I thought he was going to rob the stage!” blonde haired Lancer protested as Val placed handcuffs over Scott’s jacket, causing it to wrinkle. “Do you know who I am?”
“I don’t care if you’re the King of England. We don’t cotton to murderers round here.” Val gave Scott a non to gentle nudge in the direction of the jail.
“Val?” Teresa asked. “What do I tell Murdoch?”
“Tell him he’s got a murderer for a son.”
Shocked by what had happened, Teresa headed toward the general store to fetch Murdoch Lancer.
Once Scott was locked safely behind bars, the driver brought in the few meager possessions he removed from the dead drifter. Val looked through them and his face became a mask of anger. “Johnny…”
“He was only a drifter…” Scott whined.
“He weren’t no drifter. He was Johnny Madrid – my best friend!”
Scott looked stricken – even he had heard of Johnny Madrid. “Wasn’t Madrid a gunfighter?”
“That’s right. That’s why this has to be murder. Johnny was a straight shooter – always waited to be called out before he fired his gun…”
It was then the door opened and the tallest man Scott had ever seen stormed in. “What’s going on here Val! I heard you put my son in jail?”
“He killed Johnny Madrid in cold blood – that’s why!”
“Johnny Madrid?” Murdoch’s ruddy complexion quickly turned gray as the news sunk in. “Are you sure?”
Val held up a St. Christopher necklace and a beaded bracelet. “The only way Johnny would’a given ‘em up would be if he were dead!”
Murdoch took the items and clenched them in a fist. “My son…”
“Your son?” Val whispered. He had heard rumors for years that Johnny’s pa was a wealthy cattleman in California. The news that it was the great Murdoch Lancer was a huge surprise.
Scott, who had been paying close attention to the interaction, shrank back in horror against the far side of his cell. He had killed his own brother.
“Murdoch…?” Scott called to the gray haired man with hope in his voice.
“Who are you?” The big man growled in response; shaken from his dark reflections.
“Scott, Scott Lancer – your son!”
Murdoch went to look at the man who had killed his own brother for nothing. “You’re no one to me! You killed my son and your brother – Johnny Madrid Lancer! I hope you burn in hell!” With heart heavy from the losses he had suffered, the big man turned and walked away from his remaining son and never looked back.
Slowly, Scott sank down to sit on the filthy cot that occupied the back wall of the small cell. “Now, what happens?”
“The judge will be here in the mornin’. There’ll be a trial tomorrow afternoon and I suspect that you’ll be dead by Wednesday.”
“Don’t I need a lawyer?”
“Lawyer? You were quick enough to judge ‘ol Johnny without a lawyer or a judge. I suspect that you’ll do just fine hang’n from a rope!” With a smile, Val turned away and headed out into the afternoon sun leaving Scott alone and in the dark. As tears rolled from his blue eyes, Scott reflected that he should have listened to his grandfather and stayed in Boston. The old man had been right; Scott should have passed on the thousand dollars and let well enough alone.
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One thought on “The Road to Morro Coyo by Chris”
Interesting take on the first meeting.