Word Count 600
This is a 600-word, missing scene for the episode Man Without A Gun. Special thanks to Doreen for inspiring me to write it.
Axle grease streaked the sleeves and front of the white shirt that had been spotless when Val Crawford had put it on. The dress pants had met with the same fate, but a good scrubbing might save them. Johnny Lancer wadded both and stuffed them under his left arm. With any luck, he could get them stashed out of sight before his brother saw them.
Val buttoned the wrinkled shirt he had been wearing when he arrived at the Lancer ranch earlier that day. “I told ya it wasn’t no use.”
“Forget it,” Johnny said.
“I hope your brother does.”
“He won’t even see ’em. I’ll see to that.”
The door squeaked and sunlight bathed a wide swath across the room. “I won’t see what?”
Johnny shoved the clothes farther back under his arm and tried to think of something to say as he looked at his brother who now stood in the open doorway.
Scott Lancer pointed at Johnny’s arm. “That wouldn’t be my clothes you’re trying to hide, would it?”
“What . . . these?” Johnny patted what was visible of the bundle.
“Uh . . . yeah. Thought I’d have T’resa get ’em all spiffed up before I gave ’em back to ya.”
Val stuffed part of the tail of his shirt into his pants. “I better get back to town.”
Johnny nodded at his friend who was the sheriff of Green River for the time being, anyway. “Sure. I’ll ride along with ya part way.”
Scott stepped to one side, let Val pass through the doorway, and then grabbed Johnny’s arm when he tried to follow. “Not so fast, Brother. I’d like my clothes first.”
“You’ll get ’em back . . . soon as T’resa gets done with ’em.”
“And just what all does Teresa need to do to them?”
Johnny fidgeted. “Nothin’ much. I figured you’d want ’em washed an’ ironed first.”
“And that is all?”
“You doubtin’ my word?”
“No. I’m sure they’ll need washed. It’s the way you have them tucked out of my sight that has me questioning just how much washing they could require considering the short length of time they’ve been worn.”
Johnny swallowed. “Not much. Now, will ya let me by so I can get these to T’resa and catch up with Val before he gets halfway to Green River?”
Scott held fast to Johnny’s arm. “Why not let me take the clothes to Teresa? That way Val won’t get so far ahead of you.”
“Oh . . . no need for you to bother.” Johnny shifted his gaze to beyond his brother. “You know Val. It’ll take him a while to tighten up his cinch.”
“No bother, whatsoever. I needed to talk to Teresa, anyway, so I might as well deliver the clothes and save you the trouble.” Scott grasped the clothes and gave them a firm tug as he spoke.
Johnny relaxed his arm. The set of his brother’s jaw told him Scott wouldn’t give up without a struggle. It wasn’t worth the fight.
Scott shifted over in front of his brother. He let go of Johnny’s arm, shook out the clothes, and held them up. His eyes widened and his jaw sagged. “What?”
“It’s just a little axle grease.”
“Just a little! These will never come clean.”
Johnny saw his chance and dodged past before Scott could stop him. “Gotta go. I’ll make it up to ya.”
Scott’s voice rose to a high pitch as Johnny hurried away. “You’ll make it up, all right. You can bet on that, if you live that long!”
March 4, 2014
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