The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Buckskin

 

 

Depends On What You See
Thanks to Cat for the beta

It would start soon, and tempers would run thin. Even the cows would get ornerier. The chill would permeate the air, then work its way through the layers of clothing to finally attack the body clear to the bone. But what made it worse yet, was the rain. First, the days were filled with low clouds that seemed to hang in the tops of the trees, then would descend, wetting everything in a fine mist, until the chill, combined with the wet, would drive a body to the comfort of a warm hearth.

There would be no more mist, no more gradual dampening of clothing and spirit because the rains would begin in earnest, and the dampening mist would soon turn into drenching downpours. And go downhill from there.

Johnny stood on the ridge to watch the thunderclouds roll across the darkening sky and did not suppress the smile that slid across his face. The flashes inside the clouds joined the rumblings and announced the arrival of quite possibly severe weather, and that made Johnny decide he better start for home. But his smile was still in place.

What had changed that he could find a measure of… what? Certainly not solace, he did not like the cold and damp. But he did accept these conditions as necessary. It as part of the cycle needed to keep living, to keep growing. It is what it is. Ain’t that what Scott would say? It is what it is, an’ always would be. Johnny’s acceptance of this fact would serve him well and get him through.

His work finished for the day, Johnny reined Barranca to a halt in front of the barn. In one fluid motion, he glided from the saddle to land lightly on his feet and led the golden horse into the warm confines to be properly tended. Johnny’s family had told him, on more than one occasion, that if he took care of himself as much as he did his horse, he would be a lot better off. But no matter what, Barranca’s care and comfort would always come before his own. It’s just the way it was.

He brushed the coat until the horse shined, and in the low light of the single lantern, Barranca seemed to glow. Grooming the stallion was therapy. It would wash away the tensions, it even healed his soul when it was needed, and he spent countless hours indulging himself, and Barranca, in this pleasure.

A loud crash from the tack room disturbed the quiet. Johnny, with a pat to his trusty steed’s neck, went to the back door and peered in only to find Jelly grumbling as he rubbed his elbow. A deep grimace was set firmly across the bewhiskered face, and mumblings flooded out with the potential to turn the air blue, making Johnny unsure if he wanted to know what had been vocalized.

He approached Jelly, smile in place, and offered the old man his help. “Jelly… can I give ya a hand?” he asked, and hoped there was nothing seriously wrong with the cantankerous old handyman. It would not be Lancer if Jelly was confined to bed with some malady instead of listening to the grousing, opinionated old codger.

“Aww, just this danged ol’ bursitis flarin’ up again. Happens ever’ time the weather’s gonna turn bad. Don’t have no strength in my arms an’ drop everthin’ I got in my hands!”

“Well, I can help with that, ya know. Just get me some of that liniment ya got stashed away an’ I’ll have ya…” and that’s as far as Johnny got.

“I don’t need none a that liniment! That’s for hurts worse’n what I got, that’s for sure!” Jelly’s chagrined response made Johnny laugh.

“Ohhh, so, every time I get a bruise or pull a muscle, it’s bad enough that ya think you can slather that crap all over me, but when you're hurtin’, it ain’t that bad, is that about right?” He was warming to the game, and the sparkle in his eyes became devilish.

“Now you just never mind, Mr. Accident-Just-Awaitin’-Ta-Happen! I know more ‘bout tendin’ hurts than you’ll ever know! I can take care of this myself! You just go out there an’ mollycoddle that spoiled horse a yours an’ leave this ta me!”

Johnny laughed again but tossed: “I’ll be here for a few minutes if ya decide ya need help!” He ducked around the corner before Jelly could throw his hat at him. With a last look at Barranca, and Jelly still grumbling about the weather, Johnny headed to the hacienda just as the rain began to fall.

He pushed open the back kitchen door and shook off the excess water that sparkled like tiny jewels on his coat and hat and stomped his feet to rid his boots of the mud that accumulated as he crossed the yard.

“Juanito! Wipe your feet! This floor, it is clean! Do not bring mud in here to get it dirty!”

“Sí, Mamacita! ¡Nunca sabras que caminé por tu cocina! (You will never know I walked through your kitchen!)” Again, he couldn’t help but smile. Johnny elected to remove his boots and walk sock-footed into the house. Stopping to place a kiss on Maria’s  forehead, he couldn’t help but appeal to her testy nature with compliments.

“¿Qué manjar has hencho para la cena? ¡Huele delicioso! (What delicacy have you made for dinner? It smells delicious!)” He awarded her the dazzling smile that melted her heart.

She knew if she gave in to the sweet gesture, her niño would think he had her wrapped around his little finger; she did not want him to know it had been that way since he was a recién nacido (newborn). Grabbing her large wooden spoon, she waved it around, trying to swat his backside, but it was not going to happen. Johnny danced out of her range as his peals of laughter bounced off the walls.

“¡Ve a lavarte! (Go wash!)” The harsh reprimand failed to disguise her amusement.

Still, he could only smile and thought that it was good to have a beautiful tile floor to get dirty. Can’t keep a dirt floor clean.

The Madrid-Lancer smile held its place through dinner, although the conversation was limited to concise, brusque comments, questions, and answers. Johnny couldn’t understand his family’s attitude. Where Jelly had always been one to see the negative first, the rest of them surprised him, but he resisted participating and remained quiet. And, that smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and told of a different mindset.

“I haven’t been able to get into the garden for two days now! All my vegetables will be ruined!” Teresa pouted.

“Flowers are the least of our problems,” Scott challenged. “If this rain doesn’t stop soon, all the work invested clearing out those streams will have been wasted!”

“I ain’t never had so many aches an’ pains in my life! Why, I hurt so bad…” Jelly grumbled, then looked into Johnny’s grinning face, knowing that the young Lancer was again going to offer his assistance with the liniments, and he suddenly stopped his complaints.

Murdoch huffed. Flowers, dammed streams, aches, and pains… he couldn’t believe what he was hearing! “If you’re going to worry, worry about the important things!” he grumped as he tossed his napkin down on the table. “This weather will delay everything! This could postpone our schedule for two weeks or more, having to clean up all the after-effects!” He shoved his chair back with a hard stare around the table and left for his comfortable chair in the great room.

Scott sighed deeply and followed the Lancer patriarch.

Jelly, sounding as if on death’s door, mumbled something about having one foot in the grave before anyone around here would offer him a drink! He, too, settled in a chair in front of a blazing, warm fire.

“I might as well clean up these dinner dishes and try to figure out something to make for tomorrow that won’t need anything from the garden!” Teresa grumbled.

Johnny sat alone at the dining room table. The table that, as of a moment ago, held a family, a family who had just dined on a sumptuous meal, in a dry and comfortable house. What the heck is wrong with all a them? Johnny thought. Maybe he needed to have a chat with them… yeah, that’s what he would do…

Stopping at the sideboard to pour his tequila, Johnny sauntered to the French doors to watch the display of lightning thread across the sky in spectacular fashion. He remembered as a child, being terrified of it. One of the older boys, a bully in the village where he lived, told him that the lightning was broken skeletal fingers, waiting to grab him and take him away from his mama. He would never see her again, and these bony hands would pull off his fingers and toes to leave him writhing in pain for the rest of eternity. Johnny had to smile now; he had met that same boy a few years later and beat the hell out of him. The revenge was sweet…

Johnny shut out the grievances voiced by the others in the room; he’d had enough negativity in his young life to not let a little rain bring him down. And if you looked at it, really looked at it, it was beautiful, a thing of wonder. And his smile grew.

“Johnny!”

He turned to observe an aggravated Scott. “What?”

“I called you three times, Johnny! Where were you? Aren’t you listening to us?”

“Nope.”

“It would be nice for you to join the family. You were quiet during dinner. What’s wrong?” Clearly irritated, Scott did not appreciate the smile on his brother’s face.

“You all is what’s wrong. Look at yourselves! Ha, you all look like a little rain’s gonna kill ya!” Johnny walked to the kitchen door. “Teresa, would you come out here, por favor?”

“What is it, Johnny? I have a lot of work to do keeping things clean with all this rain!” she sighed.

“Won’t take but a minute, just come on out here, por favor,” he coaxed.

Teresa sat, huffing a strand of hair from her face, and waited impatiently for what he had to say.

Johnny looked around to room, glum faces stared back, and he shook his head. He then laughed out loud. “Boy, oh, boy! Ya oughta see the lot of ya! Ya all look like it’s the end of the world! Bellyachin’ about something so natural, so… necessary. It’s rain! Couldn’t live without it! So what if, once in a while, we get a little more’n what we need!

“We have tile floors, sure they get dirty, but they clean up easy. Can tell ya that once a dirt floor gets wet, well, ya wallow in it till it dries. An’ that takes a while. An’ I can tell ya this, T’resa, that garden won’t grow anything without rain. Come over here, querida, an’ tell me what you see,” Johnny said as he extended his arm and guided Teresa to the window.

“I see a mess, I feel cold…”

“Scott, Murdoch, an’ Jelly, what’d ya see when ya look out here?” Johnny persisted.

Scott rose from his seat to join Johnny at the windows.

“I see water running down from the mountains taking everything in its path to dam up the streams; that’s what I see!”

“Jelly, how about it, what do ya see?” Johnny wasn’t letting this go.

“Well, I see cold and damp makin’ all a them aches an’ pains run wild!”

“Alright, ol’ man, what do you see?” Johnny asked, turning to his father.

“I see work that needs to be done now put off, delayed! We have contracts to fill; feed for the cattle for the winter needs to be brought in. It will take weeks for it to be dry enough for us to get out there, not to mention dry enough to harvest! I see time slipping away!”

Johnny smiled and watched the hot skeletal fingers tear through the sky. Perhaps they were chasing someone to pull them apart! But he wouldn’t relay that thought to his family, and he tucked it back in his memories.

Scott turned to Johnny. “What do you see, brother?” he asked, suddenly curious about what was going on in Johnny’s mind.

They all wanted him to answer. What could he say to justify the questioning of his family? So, they waited to see if those smooth tones would warrant Johnny’s examination of them. Would they have their effect and lull them into peace and patience? Would his criticisms justify his point of view?

He paused to gather his thoughts. He did not want them to think it was criticism, but he did not want to watch them all worry and complain when no worry or complaint would be of any use. It would not fix the issue, so he wanted them to look at it in a different way, a way that will do the most good.

Johnny turned to watch the water splatter on the stones of the patio. It beaded on the windows, running in tiny rivulets down the glass to wash away, and he felt content and at ease.

“I see beauty, the lightnin’ dancin’ around in the clouds, makin’ them flash an’ dim, watchin’ the bolts race across the sky is somethin’ special! Kinda reminds me of manes an’ tails of horses when they gallop. Seein’ the lakes an’ streams fill, knowin’ they won’t be dryin’ up an’ that you’ll have enough water ta last is a comfort. I see gardens growin’, an’ everything gettin’ scrubbed clean, leaves are bright, looks fresh, an’ smells better.

“Yeah, I see rain an’ bad weather but learned ta appreciate it when I’m sittin’ someplace dry an’ warm. Like here. I’m watchin’ it from home an’ just sat at a fine table filled with good food an’ in the company of people I care about. Tell me, how else am I supposed to feel? What else can I possibly see?

“Messes clean up, there’s a roof over your head an’ you’re warm and dry in here. Streams get dammed up, but we can get them cleared… an’ we’re still warm an’ dry after we get home. Aches an’ pains give ya grief, but it also means you’re alive, you’re not out in the wet an’ cold. An’ yeah, some things will have to be put off, for a while an’ one thing is for sure, they’ll be there tomorrow ta get straightened out.

“But after the rain, ya might see a rainbow. Did ya ever see a pine tree after a rain, with all them drops hangin’ on the ends of the pine needles? When that ol’ sun comes out, it’ll look like that tree grew diamonds an’ ya wonder how ya came ta be so rich. An’ there’s nothin’ like goin’ ta sleep with the rain drummin’ on the roof. Can’t hear it much through all this adobe, but it’s still there.

“Yeah, it depends on what ya let yourself see…”

 

 

~ end ~

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