Word Count 1,217
Note: The monthly list of holidays and observances has been a great place to get inspiration for writing fun little Lancer stories. This one was completed on April 30, 2005 and posted to the Lancer groups on Yahoo on May 3rd of that year. I tweaked it a bit in 2014 for adding to files of the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook. Hope you enjoy the read.
The rugs in the large Lancer parlor lay humped up like fields covered with molehills. Murdoch Lancer shook his head–his brow furrowed. “Teresa, since when did you start sweeping everything under the rugs?”
Teresa O’Brien smiled and shrugged her slender shoulders. “Do-dah.”
Murdoch’s scowl deepened. “Do what?”
Without any sign that she had heard him, Teresa hop-skipped out of sight through the doorway into the hall beyond the fireplace.
Murdoch let out a long breath and sat down at his desk in front of the tall picture window. He ran his fingers through his hair, dropped his hands to the desktop with a loud thump, and flipped the ranch ledger open to the last entry.
At that moment, scuffling feet and jingling spurs interrupted the quiet solitude of the parlor. Murdoch looked up and saw his younger son saunter through the doorway Teresa had used in her escape.
Johnny Lancer deftly sidled through the maize of scattered furniture as though he were a dancer leading his partner from one side of a crowded dance floor to the other. His movement was faultless in grace and form, until he reached the rug in the center of the room. There he stumbled and flung one arm out in front of him while swinging the other backward as if he were in the act of pitching a ball. Then as his arms changed places, his feet shuffled and his body twirled.
Murdoch’s lower jaw sagged and his eyes widened. He was sure Johnny would soon land face down on the floor.
Somehow, Johnny caught hold of the back of the sofa. He swung around the end nearest Murdoch, rolled over the padded arm, and sank into the cushioned seat. With a flash of anger twisting his handsome face, he looked over his shoulder at his father. “Why’s the rug so lumpy?”
Murdoch drew his shoulders upward toward his ears and smiled sympathetically. “Do-dah.” The words came out before he could stop them, and he quickly ducked his head and pretended to be absorbed in his bookwork.
The chiming of the grandfather clock covered whatever words came out of Johnny’s mouth, and the door in the entry hall slammed shut. Hearing the rhythmic cadence of his elder son’s footsteps, Murdoch shifted his gaze to the arched doorway beyond the end of the long dining table on the far side of the room.
Scott Lancer moved past the table, stopped, and hung his hat on the hat tree beside the first set of French doors. He smiled while walking with an air of purpose toward his father.
“Better watch that rug.”
Johnny’s call came at the same time that Scott wobbled on the uneven surface of the rug that lay in front of the matched set of blue arm chairs.
Again Murdoch observed one of his sons perform a dance of desperation and was surprised at the display of agility. Scott reminded him of a ballet performance he and Catherine had attended an eternity ago. With arms spread wide, the young man pirouetted, leapt over a stool in the way, and balanced on one foot while leaning forward with his back straight as a board and the other leg stretched out behind him. For a breathless moment, he teetered there and then gracefully raised his upper body and brought his feet together to stand erect–his face devoid of any indication of the indignation he surely felt.
Scott glanced from his father to his brother and spoke in a restrained tone. “What’s wrong with the rug?”
A grin spread across Johnny’s face. “Do-dah. Do-dah.”
Scott scowled, and Murdoch choked back a laugh.
The French doors rattled and opened. A small man with graying hair and neatly trimmed beard strode in. He hooked his thumbs in his suspenders and swaggered toward Murdoch. “You’ll never guess what—”
Jelly Hoskin’s voice pitched upward and ended in a gasp as the man tripped over a lump in the rug. Murdoch surged to his feet, but there was nothing he could do other than watch his hired man tumble sideways into one of the blue chairs and send the stately lamp stand crashing to the floor. Like a wilted noodle gliding over the edge of a dish, Jelly slid downward into a pile in front of the chair.
Muttering a string of unintelligible words, Jelly gathered himself up off the rug. Once he was standing upright, he glowered at each of the Lancers. “All right. Go ahead an’ laugh. That’s what ya put all that stuff under the rug for, wasn’t it?”
When no one answered, Jelly let out a loud huff. “Well, which one o’ ya’s bright idea was it?”
Scott was the first to shrug and smile. “Do-dah. Do-dah.”
The words reminded Murdoch of a fencer saying “touché, touché.”
Jelly’s face turned red. His mouth opened, but Teresa O’Brien rushed into the room before he had a chance to speak.
Teresa stopped in the middle of the room. “What happened?”
Murdoch and Johnny answered in unison, shoulders hunched and a smile on their lips. “Do-dah, do-dah, do-dah,”
With a toss of her long brown hair and a storm brewing in her eyes, Teresa poked out her elbows and brought her hands in an abrupt upward motion to her hips. “Well! I suggest you just do-dah something about this mess if you want me to do-dah something about supper.” As she spoke, one hand made a flourishing outward sweep in the direction of the shattered lamp before coming back to rest, thumb first, against her chest.
The squeak of a mouse could have been heard. Then the silence was broken by a snicker with a soft snort trailing on its heels.
Murdoch glanced down at his desk in an effort to hold back the laugh struggling to break loose deep in his throat. He almost succeeded, but Jelly let out a loud sputter.
Laughter rang throughout the great hacienda. Even Teresa joined the men in their mirth. Then for the rest of the evening, every time anyone asked a question or mentioned the lumps under the rugs, someone would hunch their shoulders, smile, and say, “Do-dah.”
None of the men ever knew how the clumps of dirt had gotten under the rugs. Murdoch suspected Teresa. Johnny accused Murdoch. Scott insisted it was Johnny’s work, and Jelly declared that Scott had had a hand in it. Teresa knew the truth for she had seen Maria and Juanita sneaking out of the house at daylight that morning. However, not wanting to cause trouble for the two Mexican women, she kept silent and let the mystery go unsolved.
From that year on, the first of May became known as the Lumpy Rug Do-Dah Day–a day set aside for fun by the Lancer family and all who knew them.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment. Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here. You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Desert Sun directly.