Drabbles by Desert Sun

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2007 Drabble Challenge Duo
Bargaining
Beatin’ The Heat
Drabble Trio
Girls
Good To Be Home
(A) Lazy Day at Lancer
Laying The Past To Rest
Man of Her Dreams
On The Run Again
Questions and Speculations
Sometimes It Pays To Be Careless
Wiggle Your Toe Day

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2007 Drabble Challenge Duo

Note:
This pair of 100-word drabbles was written in response to a challenge on one of the Yahoo Lancer groups. The object was to select from a list of words to go with the word “night”. The choices were: Callings, Dances, Flashes, Gazing, Howlers, Prowling, Reflections, and Rituals.

Entry #1: Night Reflections

(Written and posted August 28, 2007)

Clouds breezed by overhead, and a full moon played peek-a-boo with the ripples on the lake. Occasionally, a fish jumped–silver body glistening in a momentary shaft of light.

Scott leaned back against his saddle and smiled. He loved the solitude of this place where one memory could glide into another.

Teresa’s words of a year ago whispered in the wind. “The most beautiful place in the whole world. Lancer.”

His heart swelled. Nothing could have expressed his sentiments any better. Boston had been a wonderful place to grow up and would be fine to visit, but this was home.

Entry #2: Night Callings

(Written and posted September 2, 2007)

Bell tower framed by a full moon, courtyard lights swaying slowly while a fiddle whined a lively beat and grating words guided dancers through their steps. What more could a man want on a warm August night?

A soft voice whispered in Johnny’s ear.

He closed his eyes.

She wanted dancing.

He wanted to relax.

She begged a kiss.

He gave her one and then another.

Voices from the past intruded.

He ignored them, leaned back against the corral fence, and pulled the girl into his arms. Hers were the only callings he wanted to listen to on this night.

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Bargaining

First written July 5, 2006
Revised January 13, 2014

Note to Reader:
The following 300 word drabble was written for the July 2006 challenge on one of the Yahoo Lancer groups. The rules for the challenger were as follows:

Choose a favorite Lancer scene, and begin with a key line from that
scene. Have the person(s) spoken to react differently this time.
(For instance if they acted happy, have it hit them the wrong way
and they get angry, or if they laughed have then respond in a
seriously sexy manner) This is your chance to “fix” a scene which
has always bothered you, by showing us what a character should have said or done. (If you wish to include the name of the episode
and description of the original scene by way of introduction it will
not count in your word total.)

I chose a scene from Legacy. The original dialogue from that scene, which took place in the Lancer great room, went like this:

Harlan Garrett (HG): “No Murdoch, there’s no comparison between what each of us can give Scotty. He belongs in the world he grew up in, with the right people….where he can make something worthwhile of his life”.
Murdoch Lancer (ML): “You’re forgetting one thing, Harlan, he’s not a child anymore, he’s a grown man with a will of his own.”
HG: “I believe he can be persuaded.”
ML,firmly: “Never!”
HG :, “I’ve no doubt, Murdoch, that you could sway Scotty by revealing your own sullied version of the past– unless of course you’ve already done so.”
ML: “I’ve never thought I had to.”
HG, relieved: “Then we can make a bargain. Whether Scotty returns to Boston or not must be solely his decision without any outside influence….not yours…..not mine. Agreed Murdoch?”
ML seems to think a moment. “Agreed.”
HG says, “Good”.
Scene ends.

The revisions that I made in 2014 did not in any way change the scene that I wrote in 2006. They were only meant to make it read a little more smoothly, and I made sure that my final word count remained at 300.

So, here you are: what should or could have happened in the scene where Harlan called Johnny a half-breed………


It all made sense: the girl…the memories….all very convincing arguments to get his elder son back to Boston where he had a legacy of considerable worth. Well, he had an estate right there in California, and Murdoch Lancer wasted no time making that clear to Scott’s grandfather.

With chin lifted in defiance to Murdoch’s declaration, Harlan Garrett let out a loud huff. “To be shared with his half-breed brother!”

Murdoch’s fist slammed into his father-in-law’s nose.

Harlan staggered back against the table and raised a hand to stop the flow of blood. “You’ll regret that act of rashness,” he said, his eyes filled with hate.

“Never!” Murdoch replied.

“And what explanation do you plan to give Scotty?”

“That’s entirely up to you,” Murdoch said, forcing his voice to remain calm. “But you would be wise to consider his feelings for Johnny. Scott doesn’t hold with bigotry, especially where his brother is concerned.”

Slowly Harlan lowered his hand. “I suppose you could sway him with your sordid version–“

Murdoch took a threatening step forward. “You won’t put the blame on me, Harlan. Not this time.”

Harlan stood his ground. “Perhaps we could make a bargain. Scotty need never know of your assault upon my person, provided…”

“Provided what?”

“He is allowed to make his own decision whether or not to return to Boston. No outside influence. Not yours. Not mine. Agreed?”

Reluctantly Murdoch nodded. His son was who mattered most. Scott was a man, not a child. He had the right to choose his own destiny.

“Good,” Harlan said. With a look of satisfaction, he turned and walked out of the room.

Murdoch closed his eyes and pursed his lips. Had he just made a big mistake? Too late to turn back, now. He’d made a bargain. He’d keep it.

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Beatin’ the Heat

(Note to reader:
This 100-word drabble was first written in response to a challenge on the WIPLash group on Yahoo and posted there on June 24, 2006. Critiques as well as general feedback were welcome. Due to some of the comments I received, I made several revisions. For those who might be interested in the writing process, I’ve included the original drabble plus all 4 revisions that were posted to that group.

Prior to archiving this to the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook, I decided to tweak it a little more. I was pleased to see that I could make a couple minor improvements.

In order to give you the best reading experience, I have placed my final revision first. Following it, you will see the original drabble that I posted. Then the other revisions are listed in the order they were posted so that you can see the progressive improvements that I made. )

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Final Revision:

The tall glass felt cool to his grip. Johnny Lancer smiled and raised it to his lips. Ah. Just right for beatin’ the summer heat.

His arm jiggled.

“Hey! Watch it!” Johnny wiped his nose on his sleeve.

“Sorry. My heel slipped.”

“On what?”

Scott Lancer stooped and picked up a small object. “Looks like a dime.”

“Gettin’ clumsy in your old age, huh?”

“No worse than you.” Scott jostled Johnny’s elbow and ran.

Johnny, shirt dripping lemonade, lunged to his feet. “Coward!”

Minutes later, Scott stood sputtering in the middle of the horse trough.

Johnny looked on and laughed.

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Original Drabble:

Johnny swiped the sweat from his eyes and reached for the tall glass of lemonade. Teresa sure knew what a man needed to beat the summer heat.

He lifted the glass to his lips and something jostled his elbow. “Watch it!” he said, rubbing his nose with his sleeve.

“Sorry. My heel slipped,” replied his brother.

“On what?”

Scott leaned over, picked up a small object, and held it up. “Looks like a dime.”

“That’s all?” Johnny scoffed. “Gettin’ clumsy in your old age?”

“No worse than you.” Scott bumped Johnny’s elbow and ran.

Johnny lunged to his feet. “Coward!”

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**The following critique was received from Cat, who is also the beta reader for most of my stories:

BAD Scott! Naughty Scott! I love it when these two are playful.
I bet they have more lemonade on them than in them by the time
they’ve finished!

If I had a slight suggestion – . . . – it would be to try to rob out a couple of words
from the beginning to give you a little more to play with at the end,
which seems a little under-developed to me. I don’t know what it is –
it just seems to need a couple more words – um – a glance at Teresa’s
resigned reaction – they’re not getting any more, or something?

I am also not quite sure that Johnny would not know his brother was
there at the beginning. But then, that lemonade sure must have been
distractin’!

Very nice, Cathy – thanks for sharing that scene with us!

Revision #1 in response to above feedback:

Johnny swiped the sweat from his eyes and reached for the tall glass of
lemonade. Just what he needed to beat the summer heat.

As he lifted the glass to his lips, his brother jostled his elbow. “Watch
it!” he said, rubbing his nose with his sleeve.

“Sorry. My heel slipped,” replied his brother.

“On what?”

Scott leaned over, picked up a small object, and held it up. “Looks like a
dime.”

“That’s all?” Johnny scoffed. “Gettin’ clumsy in your old age?”

“No worse than you.” Scott bumped Johnny’s elbow and ran.

Johnny, shirt dripping lemonade, lunged to his feet. “Coward!”
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Revision #2:

Swiping his sweaty brow, Johnny reached for the tall glass of
lemonade. Just the thing to beat the summer heat.

As he lifted the glass, Scott bumped him. “Watch
it!” said Johnny, rubbing his dripping nose on his sleeve.

“Sorry. My heel slipped,” Scott replied.

“On what?”

Scott picked a small object up off the floor. “Looks like a
dime.”

“That’s all?” Johnny scoffed. “Gettin’ clumsy in your old age?”

“No worse than you.” Scott jostled Johnny’s elbow and ran.

Johnny, shirt dripping lemonade, lunged to his feet. “Coward!”
Minutes later Scott landed with a splash in the horse trough.

Revision #3:

Johnny Lancer reached for the tall glass of cool lemonade. Just right for beating the summer heat.

As he lifted the glass, Scott bumped him. “Watch it!” said Johnny, rubbing his dripping nose on his sleeve.

“Sorry. My heel slipped,” Scott replied.

“On what?”

Scott picked a small object up off the floor. “Looks like a dime.”

“That’s all?” Johnny scoffed. “Gettin’ clumsy in your old age?”

“No worse than you.” Scott jostled Johnny’s elbow and ran.

Johnny, shirt dripping lemonade, lunged to his feet. “Coward!”
Minutes later Scott landed with a splash in the horse trough, and Johnny laughed

Revision 4:

The tall glass in Johnny Lancer’s hand felt cool. He smiled and lifted it to his lips. Just right for beatin’ the summer heat.

His brother bumped him.

“Hey! Watch it!” Johnny wiped his dripping nose with his sleeve.

“Sorry. My heel slipped.”

“On what?”

Scott Lancer picked up a small object off the floor. “Looks like a dime.”

“Gettin’ clumsy in your old age, are ya?”

“No worse than you.” Scott jostled Johnny’s elbow and ran.

Johnny, shirt dripping lemonade, lunged to his feet. “Coward!”

Minutes later Scott landed with a splash in the horse trough, and Johnny laughed.

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Drabble Trio

This is a trio of 100-word drabbles that were written in response to challenges issued in June of 2005 and 2006 on one of the Lancer Yahoo groups. All three required using dialogue from one of the episodes and having another character speak the words in a setting of my choice. I believe the 2005 challenge allowed me to choose any piece of dialogue, where the 2006 challenge had a list of dialogue bits to select from.

Drabble 1 uses words spoken by Johnny Madrid Lancer in High Riders. Drabbles 2 and 3 both use the same piece of dialogue that Johnny spoke to Murdoch in The Heart of Pony Alice episode, but I’ve used it in two different settings by two different characters.

In January of 2014, I revised these in preparation for adding them to the files at the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook. The stories are the same as originally posted. I only changed some of the wording to make them flow better.


Drabble #1: A Tuff Assignment

Leaning with chin propped on his fists and his elbows resting on the edge of the kitchen table, Johnny Lancer peered into the mixing bowl. “It has to be just right.”

He looked up into the eyes of the brown-haired girl beside him.

She scowled. “It’s only a pie. How hard can it be?”

“But it ain’t just any pie. It’s a Boston cream pie. You know Scott’s always talkin’ about how special they are. I want it to be perfect.”

Teresa O’Brien shook her head, reached over, and squeezed Johnny’s arm. “Will you stop worrying? I can make it.”

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Drabble #2: Forget the Tall Grass

“Look at that. You ever seen anything so tantalizing? My mouth’s already watering.”

“It is?”

“Isn’t yours?”

“Nope.”

“Not even a little?”

“Nope. It’s pretty an’ all, but I could think of somethin’ better.”

“What could possibly be more delicious? And there’s enough to last us all night.”

“So.”

“So! Is that all you can say?”

“Nope. I could say other things.”

“Like what?”

“Forget the tall grass, Chico. These bags we’ve been packin’ all day are full o’ oats.”

“They are?”

“Yep.”

“Barranca, I have to hand it to you. You sure have a nose for a good meal.”

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Drabble #3: Not Ready To Retire

Murdoch Lancer reached for the sack of salt in the back of the wagon.

His elder son, Scott, edged in. “Here. I’ll get that.”

Murdoch scowled. “I can do it.”

Scott’s hand closed below his father’s on the neck of the bag. “With all due respect, Sir, I’ll fill the tubs. You know what the doctor said–“

Murdoch refused to release his grip. “Sam Jenkins would like nothing better than to have me sitting in a rocker the rest of my days. Well, you can forget the tall grass. I’m not ready to be put out to pasture, yet!”

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Girls!

 Posted to Lancer_Writers at Yahoo On July 26, 2008

Part One:  Johnny …. in the great room …. with his gun

 Upon leaving the kitchen, Johnny Lancer walked down the short hallway to the great room.  He paused at the doorway, took a deep breath, and entered.

Murdoch Lancer thundered a greeting from the center of the room.  “All right!  Who did it?”

Johnny halted at the end of the sofa and avoided looking his father in the eyes.  “Did what?”

“That!”  Murdoch pointed a finger at the model ship on the table between them.  One mast of the intricately-crafted vessel dangled precariously.

Johnny swung one arm gently back and forth while rubbing his thumb and fingers of that hand together.  “I don’t know.”

“Well somebody does and, when I get my hands on the culprit, he’d better have a good explanation or . . ..”  Murdoch’s huge hands closed and twisted in opposite directions as though wringing the neck of a chicken.

Explanation?  Johnny cringed.  How good was good enough?  Nope.  Best leave the deed a mystery.  Murdoch would never believe the truth.

“I’d like to help you, but I gotta get goin’.”  Johnny edged toward the French doors on the far side of the room.  “I promised Mr. Brown I’d pick up that bull before noon.”

Murdoch nodded, face still dark with rage.

In a few strides Johnny was out the door.  Why hadn’t he left good enough alone?  No.  Like some ten-year-old, he had to see how those sails worked.

He kicked at a stone in his path.   It never would have happened if Teresa hadn’t screamed like she was being scalped and made him grab for his gun.  How was he to know it’d get tangled up in that little string on Murdoch’s ship?  And all because she saw a rat!

He scowled and sent another rock skittering.  Girls.  Sometimes life would be a lot easier without them.

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Part Two:  Teresa … in the cellar … with a bottle of brandy **

The French door closed louder than was necessary.

Murdoch returned his gaze to his wounded ship.  Was he being overly suspicious or did Johnny know more than he had let on.  He certainly had left in a hurry.

With a huff of breath, Murdoch scowled at the broken mast.  Someone would pay and pay dearly, provided that someone could be found.  Everyone knew the hours he had spent building the replica of the ship that had changed his destiny all those year ago.  Each piece had been carefully crafted and fitted to scale.  Now look at it. Carving a new mast would take time.  Acquiring the right piece of wood could take months.

With a sigh, Murdoch turned toward his desk.  He needed a drink.

The brandy decanter was empty.

Murdoch spun a quarter turn, strode by his ship, and left the room by way of the open doorway into the hallway.  Anger announced each step all the way to the cellar door.

With a sharp twist of his wrist, Murdoch wrenched the door open, stepped through, and paused at the top of stairs.  The wall beside him was dimly lit, evidence that a lantern burned somewhere.

The light seemed to be coming from beyond the wine racks at the far side of the room.  Murdoch continued on down the stairs and across the dirt floor.  At the end of the first row of shelves that held barrels of wine, he halted.

“Teresa?”

She looked up, light from the lantern in her hand exposing her startled expression.

“Are you all right?”  Murdoch asked.

“Yes.  Yes.”  She shrugged her shoulders.  “Of course.  Why shouldn’t I be?”

“No reason.  You just looked . . . a bit dazed.”  Murdoch drew in a deep breath and glanced at the floor.  His gut wrenched.  No.  That couldn’t be.  Could it?

On the floor, a broken bottle lay at Teresa’s feet.  Enough of the glass was in one piece to distinguish its original shape.  Unquestionably, it was the very bottle he had come to get.

Murdoch’s jaw flexed.   “What happened?”

She pointed at the smashed form of a furry creature a foot or so to the left.

A picture flashed through Murdoch’s mind and his voice thundered.  “You killed a rat with a bottle of my best brandy?”

“I did not!  It . . . it came out of there.”  A beam of light chased the darkness from beneath the nearest row of shelves.  “I . . . I nearly tripped over it.”  The lantern moved closer to her face and tears pooled in her eyes.

Murdoch tucked his lower lip between his upper and lower teeth, stepped closer to Teresa, and patted her gently on the shoulder.  “It was an accident.  I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions and yelled at you.”

“But . . . but it’s your last bottle.”

Last bottle?  It couldn’t be.  Hadn’t he just ordered in a new shipment less than a month ago?

Teresa’s shoulder trembled.

“Don’t let it worry you.”  Murdoch hoped he sounded convincing and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze.  “Scotch will do just as well.”

Teresa drew in a sniffling breath.  “I’ll get a broom and clean up this mess.”

He felt her shudder.  “No, you go on upstairs.  I’ll take care of it.”

She didn’t argue and soon Murdoch was alone.

Murdoch shook his head as he retrieved a broom from the stairwell.  Girls.  If only she hadn’t spooked at that rat, she wouldn’t have dropped his brandy, and he could be sitting at his desk enjoying a drink.  Instead he’d have to settle for a Scotch.

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(Note: This pair of drabbles was written for the 2008 Lancer_Writers Summer Challenge. Below are the rules of the challenge and the list of elements that were required.)

LANCERWRITERS SUMMER CHALLENGE 2008 : ‘Clue.’

Colonel Mustard…in the ballroom….with a rope! Miss Scarlet….in the conservatory….with a candlestick!
If those phrases are at all familiar to you, you must have played the game Clue (or its original name, `Cluedo’) sometime in your youth. The winner had to correctly guess the killer, the site of the crime, and the weapon.
Drabbles that answer this challenge don’t necessarily have to involve murder—most—foul, but they must center on three elements:
1) a person (any Lancer character—major or minor)
 2) a room (the kitchen, the attic, someone’s bedroom, etc)
 3) one inanimate object (be it common or exotic)

Example: Jelly….in the kitchen…..with a Teddy Bear!
Let your imagination take it from there.

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Good to be Home

First posted December 2004
Revised May 2014

Nothing but the chiming of the grandfather clock in the parlor greeted Johnny Lancer as he eased the solid door closed behind him. He removed his spurs and quietly made his way down the dimly-lit hallway to the kitchen. There a lamp still glowed beside an empty plate and a small crock on the table.

The stove still held a fire. Johnny could feel the heat when he stepped close enough to peek into the oven in hopes that Teresa had saved something for him from supper.

A large frying pan took up space on the center rack. Johnny lifted the lid and breathed in the pleasant odor that filled his nose. “Hmmm.” Sure enough, Teresa had seen he wouldn’t go hungry.

Johnny filled the plate and settled into the nearest chair at the table. He lifted the lid of the crock and smiled. Maria’s salsa. Just what he needed to spice up the ham and beans.

In no time his plate was empty. Johnny licked his lips and savored the taste of the last bite as he filled the empty frying pan with water from the kettle that had been left heating on top of the stove–more of Teresa’s thoughtfulness.

His hunger satisfied, Johnny quietly walked down the hall and stopped at the doorway into the parlor where he could see a light had been left burning. He stepped in to put it out.

Something squeaked in the direction of the far side of the room, and Johnny stopped. He gazed toward the form slumped over the desk, clamped his upper lip between his teeth, and slowly shook his head. He should have known his old man would be waiting up for him. Not that Murdoch would admit it. If asked, the man would have some excuse for still being up at midnight.

Quietly Johnny eased back out of sight. Then making enough noise that his father would know he was home, he went upstairs. As he approached his room, a streak of light disappeared from beneath his brother’s door across the hall.

A smile tugged at Johnny’s lips and he let out a soft chuckle. Scott would never admit to waiting up, either.

Johnny let out a sigh. It sure was good to be home.

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A Lazy Day at Lancer

**This 450+ word story was inspired by the 2005 list of August holidays and observances.  It was written and posted to the Lancer groups on Yahoo on August 10 of that year.  I did some minor revising prior uploading to the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook on August 10, 2014.

August 10, 1873

Johnny Lancer lay with his head cradled by clasped hands–thumbs pressing against the back of his neck.  He stared up at the ceiling high overhead and sighed.  “Ya think the old man’s gunna yell?”

“Probably.”

Johnny glanced sideways at his brother who was slumped in the brown leather chair beside the fireplace that had seen little use since the middle of May.  “So . . . what’ll we tell him?”

“The truth.”  Scott’s eyes remained closed.

“Which is?”  Johnny had gladly played along with his brother’s idea of taking the day off to relax and do nothing.  Now that their father was due home at any time from a three day trip to Sacramento, he was beginning to have second thoughts about the wisdom of taking a holiday.

Scott opened his eyes and shrugged.  “That we’re observing a very special day.”

Johnny snorted gently through his nose.  “Uh, huh.  And he’s gunna go for that, is he?”

“Why shouldn’t he?”  Scott spoke in a sharper tone.

Johnny scowled.  “Because this ain’t no special day, that’s why.”

“It is, now.”

“Since when?”

“Since the clock began ticking away the minutes of August tenth.”

“And just what is this special day called?”  In the three years Johnny had known his brother, Scott had never taken a holiday in August or even mentioned there being one.

A smug smile stretched the corners of Scott’s mouth. “It’s Lazy August the tenth Day, of course.”

“A Lazy Day day, huh?”  Johnny chuckled.  “I like that.  Think we could get Murdoch to go for a few more of those?”

A booming voice seemed to fill the room.  “Only if the moon turns green and our cattle fly there to graze.  Now don’t you two have anything more important to do than dream up crazy holidays?  If not, I’m sure I can find something for you.”

Johnny rolled his eyes.  How had Murdoch managed to sneak into the house without them hearing him?  Hoisting himself to his feet, Johnny spoke in a grumbling tone.  “So much for your Lazy Day, Brother.  Think by next year ya could get the governor to declare it a legal holiday?”

Scott looked at the floor, and Johnny figured the answer was no.  He was even more certain upon glancing over his shoulder to see the thunder cloud hovering above their father’s eyes.  Even if the president of the United States declared the entire country could laze around on August tenth, he doubted Murdoch would go along.

With a sigh, Johnny headed for the door.  He could hear his brother’s reluctant footsteps behind him and resigned himself to their fate.  Any lazy days would have to be celebrated far into the future when the Old Man was no longer calling the tune.

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Laying the Past to Rest

Note:
I wrote this 500-word drabble, not including title or this explanation,, in response to the following challenge that was posted on August 3, 2006 on one of the Lancer groups on Yahoo : Write a “MISSING SCENE” from one of the Lancer shows. This might perhaps be one that you’re “certain” was in the original script, but must have been lost due to some sort of “technical difficulties” during filming, leaving us with unanswered questions—at least until you “found it” for us. 😉

This scene is for the Chase a Wild Horse episode. It takes place after the final battle with the Strykers and before the scene where Murdoch and Johnny go after the wild horses.
I made some minor revisions on March 2, 2014 in preparation for adding the story to the files at the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook. The number of words is unchanged.


A shadow passed over the gaping hole at his feet. Scott Lancer shuddered. Johnny could be lying in that box, which minutes before had been lowered into the waiting grave.

Fortunately, the Strykers hadn’t had their way. If they were still bent on revenge, it would take a few days for them to make a new plan of attack. They would need guns and ammunition. That took money they apparently didn’t have at their disposal. Perhaps they would count themselves lucky to be alive and move on to greener pastures far from the Lancer ranch.

“We are gathered here….”

The minister’s words concerning Wesley Alexander Haverfield meandered through the edges of Scott’s mind. Who would have believed a lazy, good-for-nothing saddle tramp like Wes would have such a prestigious sounding name. Johnny even claimed the young man had been from a good family back east–son of a Virginia merchant who had moved west right after the war. No one seemed to know what had happened to the family after Wes had parted company with them. A telegram to their last known location had been returned unanswered.

“…young and carefree. Some would say wild, but to those who knew him…”

Scott glanced at his brother. Johnny stood with shoulders slumped and hands clasped behind his back. His head was tilted down, eyes unsearchable. What were his thoughts? Had he seen something worthwhile in Wes? Obviously he must have. They had been close enough friends for Johnny to pack up and leave with him when the going had gotten rough with Murdoch.

“Shall we pray…”

Three more heads bowed. Scott did the same even though he felt prayer was of little use. He doubted that committing Wes’s soul into God’s hands would have much effect on its final resting place. Undoubtedly that had been determined at his death the day before.

“Amen.”

The deed was finished, and Scott was glad of it. He readily fell in behind his father, Murdoch Lancer, as the mourners, if any except one could be called that, each picked up a fistful of dirt and dropped it on the casket before moving away from the grave.

When his brother didn’t follow him, Scott looked back. Johnny stood with clenched fists, the toe of one boot scuffing dirt into the hole in the ground.

Scott waited. Johnny needed this time alone. He was laying to rest more than the body of a friend. Once he walked away, a way of life–the past, his past–would be in that grave. With any luck, it would remain there.

Johnny gave one final kick that scattered dirt to the far end of the grave. He tilted his head and looked skyward. When he started toward his horse, Scott fell in beside him.

“You okay?” Scott asked.

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Then let’s go home.”

Johnny sighed. “Yeah. Let’s go home.”

Scott blew out a long breath. It looked like the past was buried, and his brother was back to stay.

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Man of Her Dreams

Note:
I don’t remember what inspired this pair of short stories that were written and posted to Lancer groups on Yahoo in 2007. It appears that I reconsidered my first story a couple of days later and gave it an alternate ending. In January of 2014, I tweaked them both in preparation for adding them to the files at the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook.

Version 1

(First posted approximately May 8, 2007)

Teresa tapped her foot on the boardwalk outside of Baldemaro’s store in Morro Coyo. Johnny and Scott had promised they’d have one drink and be back to help load her purchases into the buckboard. Well, their “one drink” certainly was taking a long time!

The stage rumbled down the street and halted in front of the Lancer wagon–dust swirling. Toby Brown, the guard, swung down from the driver’s seat and opened the door to the passenger compartment.

With nothing better to do, Teresa watched the passengers climb out.

A grey-haired woman with a child in tow stepped out first. They hurried away without looking in Teresa’s direction.

Next came a man in faded, patch-cluttered overalls and shirt. Recognizing him as Jake Martin, Teresa smiled and waved. Word was that his wife never threw anything away.

As always, Jake was in too much of a hurry to even nod.

Another passenger climbed out, appearing bent in half as his sombrero led the way. The huge hat tipped upward as he stood.

Teresa sucked in her breath. Never had she seen anyone so handsome. Who was he? Dared she speak to him?

“You ready to go?” drawled Johnny Lancer’s voice inches from Teresa’s ear.

She jumped and wanted to scream. No! No, I’m not.

Scott Lancer’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “Or would you rather be introduced to–“

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Teresa lifted her chin. With an air of dignity, she walked away from the man of her dreams.

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Version 2

(Written and posted to Yahoo groups on May 10, 2007)

Teresa tapped her foot on the boardwalk outside of Baldemaro’s store in the small town of Morro Coyo. Johnny and Scott had promised to have one drink and be back to help load her purchases into the buckboard before the stage arrived. Well, their “one drink” certainly was taking a long time. Everything was loaded and the stage was rumbling down the street toward her.

The coach halted behind the Lancer wagon–dust swirling. Toby Brown, the guard, swung down from the driver’s seat and let the passengers out–first a grey-haired woman with a child in tow, both hurrying away, and then a man in faded, patch cluttered overalls and shirt.

Recognizing Jake Martin, Teresa smiled and waved. Word was his wife never threw anything away.

As always, Jake was in too much of a hurry to even nod.

Another passenger climbed out, appearing bent in half as his sombrero led the way. As he stood, the huge hat tipped upward to reveal an exquisite, tanned face fringed by black hair.

Teresa sucked in her breath. Never had she seen anyone so handsome. Who could he be? Dared she speak to him?

“Antonio!”

She jumped at the sound of Johnny Lancer’s voice close to her ear, and she nearly gasped. The cattle buyer! He couldn’t be. Why hadn’t Murdoch warned her?

Any introductions were lost on Teresa. She didn’t even notice that Scott Lancer had come to stand beside her until he asked if they were ready to go.

Panic gripped Teresa. No, she wasn’t ready. How could she be? The man of her dreams had just arrived, and she felt like a tongue tied school girl. What would she say to him?

With heart thumping loudly, Teresa let Scott help her up to the front seat of the surrey while Johnny and Antonia got into the rear seat. She sighed dreamily. At least she had a little time to gain composure. The last thing she wanted to do was to make a fool of herself in front of Antonio. Having her dream turn into a nightmare just wouldn’t do at all.

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On The Run Again

Note: This is a short story (402 words) that I wrote May 3, 2010 and posted to the Lancer groups on Yahoo.  In January of 2014, I re-edited it and added it to the files for the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook.  I don’t remember what the inspired me to come up with tale, but I hope you enjoy the read.

Johnny Lancer scowled.  Something sure smelled sour, but what could it be?  The kitchen was clean as a whistle, as Jelly would say.  Nothing was out of place . . . except for those two crock jugs by the sink.

He moved closer.  Both jugs were covered with a plate.  Teresa must have something in them, but what?

The rank odor seemed stronger.  It had to be coming from those jugs.

Johnny reached out and lifted the edge of one makeshift lid.  “Augh!!”  He grabbed his nose while the plate rattled back into place on the jar.  Whatever was in there was enough to curdle a man’s stomach and send his appetite high-tailing it to Mexico for good.

In a few strides, Johnny was out the back door of the kitchen.  He sucked in several breaths of fresh air to clear the stench from his nose.  Whatever Teresa had in mind for that concoction, he had no plans of being around to have to sample it.  The grub up at the north line shack would be a feast for a king in comparison.

Barranca stood in the shade under a tree not far away.  Johnny grabbed the saddle horn and swung aboard.

Teresa rounded the corner of the house.  “Don’t be late for supper,” she called.

“Something came up,” Johnny replied, reining the prancing palomino around to face Teresa.  “I . . . I gotta ride out and check on the yearlings up in the north pasture.”

“But . . . Murdoch and Scott are due home any time, and I have something special planned for supper.”

“I’m sorry.”  Johnny tried to sound regretful.  “This can’t be helped.”  And whatever was curdling in the kitchen couldn’t either.

“Oh . . . all right.”  Teresa’s lower lip poked out.  “I suppose I can save you some . . . but it won’t be as good after it sits a day.”

“Don’t worry about saving any for me.  I might be gone for . . . days!”  Johnny, voice rising to a yell, spurred Barranca into a dead run.  He didn’t slow the horse’s wild pace until the hacienda was a spec of dust behind him.  Tonight, the line shack.  Tomorrow, any place Murdoch or Scott couldn’t find him.  It should be safe to return home in a week.  By then life at Lancer should be back to normal and so should the food.

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Questions & Speculations

Written December 2, 2014. Note:  This 200-word drabble was written in response to a challenge posted by Barb to the Lancer-Writers group on Yahoo.  The goal was to write a scene using only dialogue to identify the speakers.  This conversation centers on a character that I created and introduced in my story, “The Flaw in Pony Alice’s Plan”.

 “Why are you all gussied up?”

“That . . . is none of your business.”

“Headed to Spanish Wells, aren’t ya?”

“I said it was–“

“None of my never mind, as Jelly would say, but I still bet that’s where you’re goin’.”

“You do, do you?”

“Yep.”

“You don’t think you could be mistaken?”

“Nope.”

“Why?”

“Oh, could be that smell I got a whiff of just now.  About had to hold my nose.” 

“Is that so?”

“Yep.  Have a good time . . . and tell Rebecca I think she’s perfect.”

“Perfect for what?  And who said I would be seeing her?”

“A sister-in-law.”

“Don’t you think that’s a bit premature?”

“Pre-ma-what?”

“A bit soon.  I haven’t even brought her here for dinner.”

“I know . . . but you better not wait too long.”

“To do what?  Bring her here?”

“No.  Pop the question.”

“And why is that?”

“I might decide she’d make me a better wife.”

“Over my dead body.  Now if you don’t mind, I’ll be on my way.”

 “Good luck, brother.” 

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothin’.”

“If I had time, I’d teach you some manners.”

“Do say?”

“Yes.

“Goodbye, Scott.”

“Goodbye, Johnny.”

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Sometimes It Pays to be Careless

(This short story of 300 words was posted on March 19, 2007 to WIPLashToo Lancer group at Yahoo.  I made minor revisions before adding it to the files at the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook in February of 2014.)

Scott Lancer felt a tremor of weakness.  The colt was tiring.  A few more bucks and the battle would end.

As expected, the horse stretched into a gallop around the corral.

Johnny Lancer let out a whoop from atop the gate.  “You’ve got him!”

With his free hand, Scott lifted his hat and waved.   He’d proven his muster as a bronc rider.

After letting the horse run a while, Scott pulled the blowing animal to a halt and leaned forward.  He grasped a fistful of mane, slipped his feet free of the stirrups, and slid his right leg over the cantle.

Something grabbed his heel.  The horse jumped sideways, and Scott found himself dangling against the colt’s side.  Another lunge tore the strand of mane from his fingers and turned loose his boot.  He landed on his back with a thud and a grunt.  Gasping for breath, he lay looking up at the sky.

“Hey.  That how they teach you cavalry officers to get off a horse?” Johnny asked.

Scott rose on his elbows so he could see his brother’s face.  “My foot caught.”

“Sure it did.”   Johnny hopped down from the gate and caught the colt’s trailing rein. 

Scott drew in a sharp breath as he rose to his feet,.  He dusted himself and glared at his brother. “Believe what you want.”

Johnny pointed at the spur still clinging by its rowel to the edge of the saddle blanket that apparently had slipped farther toward the colt’s tail.  “Lucky you didn’t buckle that spur on tight.  Your head would’ve taken quite a beatin’.”

“Have to agree,” Scott said and cringed.  If the strap hadn’t been loose, he could have been killed.  Apparently his riding instructors and commanding officers had all been wrong.  Sometimes it did pay to be careless.

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Wiggle Your Toes Day

Note: This story was written in response to the August 2005 list of holidays and observance and was posted to the Lancer_Writers group on the 6th of that month.  I made some revisions in August 2014 prior to adding this story to the files at the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebok.  I don’t recall the original word count, but this edited version is a 400 word drabble.

After supper on Saturday evening, the sixth day of August in 1870, Scott Lancer sat reading in the brown-leather chair beside the fireplace in the large parlor of the Lancer hacienda.  His father’s ward, Teresa O’Brien, lounged with her back against the far arm of the green floral sofa. Her legs were slightly bent at the knees, and her heels were tucked into the groove between the bottom cushions.

Scott peered over the top of the book in his hand as he had done several times already.  Teresa’s bare toes alternately moved as though keeping time to a tune within the girl’s head.

The sight was mesmerizing, and Scott found it hard to return to his reading.  Teresa seldom wore shoes in the evening when she was relaxing, but never before had he seen her feet in such perpetual motion.  If he didn’t know better, he would swear she was performing some sort of exercise to improve the dexterity of her toes.

He raised the book to hide Teresa from view.  Curiosity soon got the better of him, and he lowered it again.

Up and down went the book for the better part of an hour.  Finally Scott laid it in his lap.  “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Wiggling my toes.”  Teresa spoke in a matter-of-fact tone as though the action was a natural occurrence.

Scott raised his brows.  “Wiggling your toes?”

Teresa nodded.  “Yes . . . wiggling my toes.”

“Why?” The high-pitched question erupted from Scott’s throat.  How could she be so complaisant–her tone falsely saying that nothing was out of the ordinary?  There had to be another reason for the continual movement of her toes.  She had never wiggled them in that manner before.

“Why?” Teresa’s expression was that of an innocent child.

“Yes,” Scott said with a hint of impatience.  “Why are you wiggling your toes?”

She shrugged.  “Because today is the sixth of August.”

Scott’s brows hitched higher.  He couldn’t imagine what possible correlation there could be between the date and the girl’s actions?  Without hesitation, he asked for an explanation.

Crinkled lines appeared at the outer corners of Teresa’s eyes and her lips turned upward. “Oh, haven’t you heard?”

Scott cringed inside.  That was a trick question if ever there was one.  Still, he couldn’t stop himself from playing along.  “Heard what?”

Teresa’s smile brightened.  “That today is Wiggle Your Toe Day!”

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