Word Count 927
(Note: This was first posted to Lancer_Writers group at Yahoo on November 1, 2010. I can’t remember if this was in response to a writing challenge or what. However, I’m thinking it might have been and that the character names that I used came from a list of words that were to be used in a story. I can’t imagine where I would have come up with them otherwise……I have made some minor revisions, but nothing that changes the original story line.)
With one elbow cupped in his other hand, Scott Lancer stood facing his father, who was sitting behind the desk in the large parlor of the Lancer hacienda. “To what do you associate this latest scandal?” he asked and watched for some reaction from his father.
Murdoch Lancer stroked the side of his nose with his thumb and shook his head. “I don’t know. If there was just one thing predictable about this whole mess . . . maybe, I could make some sense out of it.”
Scott paced back and forth in front of the desk. There had to be an answer.
He stopped to face his father again and motioned with his hands as he spoke. “Do you think Mrs. Winter has any reason to lie? Her daughter’s never showed any revulsion toward Johnny before. In fact, I would say it was very much the opposite at the dance last Saturday.”
Murdoch shook his head again. “I don’t know what to think. I always thought Johnny was amidst friends when around the Bar J hands, too . . . but Bop Leech and Bray Gangway sure have been talking a different tune of late.”
Scott let out a long sigh. “I thought the same thing. A month ago Johnny was the master of the checkerboard, and now he’s about to lose his last checker. It sure would be nice to hear something heartwarming about him for a change.”
“Yes, it would. First Cassy Mae’s slipper shows up in Johnny’s saddlebag. Then Bop is bragging about how he’s going to clean up Green River with him. Now Clara Winters won’t let us traverse land she’s practically let us treat as our own for more than ten years.”
“And don’t forget that the stage driver almost refused to let Johnny get aboard the coach this morning on account of some fool rumor that Johnny might have been involved in that holdup a week ago.” Scott slammed his fist down on the desk. “Ridiculous. The whole situation is ridiculous.”
Again Murdoch rubbed the side of his nose with his thumb. “You don’t suppose . . .?
“I don’t know. It’s almost like someone wanted to keep Johnny from taking that stage.”
Possibilities raced through Scott’s mind. Maybe his father was onto something. But who would want to thwart the Lancer’s deal with a horse breeder in southern Oregon. Who could be so brash as to stir up the whole countryside against Johnny to do it?
The door in the entry hall slammed. In a breath of time, Jelly Hoskins appeared in the arched doorway near the far end of the dining table. “I got that wart off ole Molly’s tail.” He strode closer as he talked. “Gave it a squirt of that concoction I got from the vet. Sure glad I didn’t have to operate on it. That’s the kickin’ist mule I ever seen. I don’t know why you keep her. I had to run a rope between her front legs and anchor it to one hind leg so she couldn’t kick my head off.”
Visions of Jelly’s ordeal flashed through Scott’s mind and he smiled.
Jelly scowled as he came to a halt a foot away from Scott. “Ain’t nothing to be laughin’ about.”
Scott lifted one hand. “You’re right, Jelly. Please forgive me. I guess we can just be glad we don’t have several more like her.”
“Well if you did, I’d plug the whole lot of ’em.”
Murdoch’s chair squeaked as he leaned forward. “Is that all you came in here to tell us?”
“No . . . it ain’t all I came in here to tell you. Johnson rode in a minute ago, horse lathered up like a rabid skunk, head draggin’ below his knees. Said somebody took a pot shot at him when he came past that abandoned shack Johnny told me once belonged to some folks name of Carstair.”
“What? Is he hurt?” Scott and Murdoch spoke simultaneously.
“He’s fine. Just spooked is all.” Jelly scowled. “Why would anyone want to scare Johnson out of there? Nothin’ left there that’s worth anything that I could see.”
Scott looked at Murdoch. “Care to hazard a guess?”
Murdoch lunged to his feet and hurried around the edge of his desk. “No. But I plan to find out. This makes the fifth hand this week who’s been shot at.”
“One good thing, Sir,” Scott said.
“There’s no question about whether Johnny did it. He’s on his way to see about those horses.”
Jelly let out a loud huff. “Off course, it wasn’t Johnny. Ain’t I been tellin’ ya that boy’s got a double? But does anybody bother to listen to me?”
“Calm down. Jelly. We’ll get to the bottom of this.” Murdoch turned to Scott. “Round up the men. We’re going to find out where the truth lies.”
Scott nodded and headed for the door. It was time they finally dragged his brother’s name out of the muck.
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.