Word Count 1,031
(Note: This 3 page story was inspired by the monthly list of holidays and observances. It was posted to the Yahoo Lancer groups on December 31, 2012. I made revisions in 2014 prior to archiving at the Lancer FanFicion group on Facebook.)
Tuesday, December 31, 1872:
From his place at one end of the table in the kitchen, Murdoch Lancer spoke while looking at one son and then the other–starting with Johnny on his right and ending with Scott on his left. “I don’t want any interruptions today,”
“What if something comes up?” Johnny Lancer flashed an innocent grin.
Murdoch shifted his gaze back to his younger son. “No interruptions . . . and that’s final.”
Scott Lancer cleared his throat. “Even if it’s an emergency?”
Murdoch rested his right elbow on the edge of the table and braced his chin with the back of his hand. “I suppose if it’s a real emergency.”
“What counts as real?” Johnny drummed the tips of the fingers of one hand on the table. “I mean how bad does it gotta be?”
Murdoch spoke in his most compelling “calling-the-tune” voice. “I mean it better be real and it better be something you can’t handle.”
Scott leaned back a little. “Surely, you don’t think either one of us would fake such a thing as that.”
“I said nothing of the kind.” Murdoch let out a huff. “Before this year ends, I just want one day without interruptions. Is that too much to ask?”
A hint of a smile played at the corners of Johnny’s mouth. “No, Murdoch, it’s not too much. We just wanna know if there’s anything you would want us to let you know about.”
Murdoch tipped his head back and rolled his eyes. For the next eight to ten hours, couldn’t his two grown sons handle anything that might arise?
He looked at each of his boys again. “I don’t want to be interrupted for anything that you are fully capable of handling on your own. That should cover anything and everything that would come up, wouldn’t you say?”
Scott looked toward Johnny. “In other words, he doesn’t care if the barn catches on fire and the house burns down around him as long as we take care of it.”
Murdoch scowled. “Don’t put words in my mouth. Of course I’d want to know if the house was on fire.”
“But not the barn, right?”
Murdoch felt a rise in the temperature of his ears and glared at Johnny. “Quit acting dumb.”
Johnny shrugged. “What if somebody gets hurt?”
Scott cut in before Murdoch could finish. “No interruptions. That means not even if someone’s life depended on it.”
Johnny coughed. “I could be dying and he wouldn’t wanna know?”
“I did not say that!” Murdoch swallowed. Sons. They could be so exasperating at times. Why did they delight in twisting everything he said?
The corners of Scott’s mouth twitched and he raised one hand. “Okay. Let me get this straight. You don’t want any interruptions except if the house is on fire or someone’s life is at stake. Is that right?”
Murdoch nodded. “That’s right.”
Scott visibly took a deep breath. “So if somebody runs off with all our stock and the hands all quit, you don’t want to be bothered. Is that what you’re saying?”
Murdoch slammed his fist on the table. The rattling of the dishes blended with his voice. “No! That is not what I’m saying.”
“Well, I wish you’d make up your mind,” Johnny said. “First you don’t wanna be bothered; then you do. How are we to know what you want?”
Fire blazed up Murdoch’s neck and spread to the far reaches of his face.
Scott scooted his chair back, got up, and hurried around behind Murdoch’s chair. He grabbed Johnny by the arm and dragged him to his feet. “Brother, I think we best quit interrupting our father’s breakfast, or we won’t have to worry about what is worth bothering him about.”
“Yeah.” Johnny reached for the brown paper-wrapped package beside his plate. “He’ll burn the house down around our ears and not care if it’s a life or death matter.”
Murdoch rested his forehead against the palm of one hand. He heard his sons say, “Good bye. See you at supper.” The heavy tread of boots was soon followed by the slam of the kitchen door. Then there was silence.
When Murdoch looked up, he was alone. He sighed and relaxed. Maybe his son’s had finally made up their minds to leave him in peace. The hands all knew he was unavailable for the day. Jelly would soon be on his way to deliver ice to Maria’s house and then on to Spanish Wells to get supplies, and Teresa and Pony Alice were at Maria’s where they would be helping to make tamales for the fiesta that evening. They wouldn’t be back until they returned with Jelly sometime after five.
Murdoch finished his breakfast and went into the living room. He picked out a favorite book from one of the bookshelves behind the dining table and settled onto his favorite chair.
The warmth of the fire in the fireplace felt good. Murdoch smiled. What better way to spend the day than in his overstuffed chair with a good book in hand and his feet propped up on the ottoman. He could read until lunch and then have one of the sandwiches that Teresa had fixed the day before. After that he could take a nap until late afternoon. He would be bright eyed for the New Year’s Eve festivities and no one would be the wiser.
Murdoch nodded his satisfaction. Scott and Johnny had taken their lunch with them. The courtyard was still decorated from Christmas. No one had any reason to disturb him before Jelly got back with Teresa and Alice. Yep. It looked like he would get his one day of no interruptions out of the year after all.
……..The end. At least, I hope it is. But, then again . . . no, I’m sure it is. I think.
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