The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Buckskin

 

 

Gunpowder Day: Who Would'a Thought?

In memory of Janet
November Challenge
All mistakes are mine

How did he ever let himself get talked into accompanying his brother on this ordeal? It was bad enough having to attend the meeting with their father in San Francisco, but Johnny Madrid Lancer had no intention of traipsing all over the city with Scott in search of a book store! Yet, here he was, dressed in a suit and walking in new black dress boots that were pinching his toes, looking for The Book Emporium.

Got to be out of my mind!

A deep sigh escaped his lips as Scott stood on the corner and confirmed his bearings.

“Yes, brother, it’s down this block, I’m sure!” Scott said enthusiastically and took off at a brisk pace.

Johnny rolled his eyes as he followed behind, struggling a bit as the blisters began their protest.

“Ya know, Boston, if you’d of told me we were gonna walk from one end of San Francisco ta the other, I coulda changed boots!”

“Not to worry, Johnny, we’re here! Besides, those old boots wouldn’t go with that suit!”

Scott quickly dismissed the glare issued from his brother and opened the door of the emporium. They stepped into cramped quarters that housed thousands of volumes of print. The jingle of the bell on the door announced their arrival, and reluctantly, Johnny followed Scott and resigned himself to wait on his brother. He hoped there was a place to sit while Scott perused every book on every shelf in the place. With another deep sigh, Johnny desperately sought out a chair where he could get off his aching feet.

Johnny immediately felt the confines begin to close around him. Tall shelves lined the walls, and rows of them filled the store. It smelled of old paper and printers ink, and the air was stuffy. Maybe, Johnny thought, he could sneak in a nap while he waited, knowing this would not be a quick visit. Scott seemed to lose track of time when he got in one of these places!

 A third, louder sigh broke free, this time drawing Scott’s attention. He could spend all day in here but realized if he were to any serious browsing, he needed to find something to keep Johnny occupied.

Tucked in the corner of the store was a countertop filled with maps. Maps of the United States, individual states, and other countries were neatly stacked and divided into regions. Thinking this would eliminate some of Johnny's anxieties, Scott called his impatient brother's attention to the hopeful distraction.

"Johnny, look! There are maps here... of everything!"

"We already got maps at home."

"Yes, we do, but there are several here that we don't..." Scott was cut off when a matronly woman stepped from the back room.

"Oh! I am sorry, gentleman! I didn't realize there were customers out here! A new shipment just arrived, and getting it checked in can be time-consuming! Is there anything I can help you find?" The eager sharp eyes read Scott, then traveled to Johnny. Oh! That one is not happy to be here! and she bestowed a pleasant smile on them.

Scott returned the gesture. "Yes, Ma'am, perhaps you might help us. My brother has developed a newfound interest in maps, and I am looking for something on historical events. Perhaps you can suggest something?"

Scott was in his element.

Johnny, not so much, as he knew the woman would drag him all over this shop, showing him things he really didn't want to see. Boy, oh, boy! Scott's got one comin'! I'm gonna drag his drag his carcass inta every cantina an' order up every spicy thing on the menu! Doing his best to ignore the rambling conversation between his brother and the storekeeper, and the discomfort of his attire, Johnny forced himself to remain quiet. Until Scott called his name.

"Johnny, you need to see this! Look at this, brother!"

Johnny opened weary eyes and took in Boston's expression. Scott was holding a large map in his hands.

"Johnny, it's Mexico. Come and look at this!"

"I know what Mexico looks like, Boston," but one look at Scott's face told Johnny that it just might possibly be of some interest. Scott looked so… happy. He didn’t have it in his heart to disappoint his brother. Walking to his brother's side, he took the map. He glanced briefly over the detailed chart, just enough to satisfy his brother, when Johnny's attention was caught by a name. Carbo. He and his mother lived there for a short while before she, again, moved them to another town. It was such a tiny place, and he wondered how such an insignificant village came into such distinction to be documented on a map. Looking closer, other towns caught his attention.

Scott observed the change that came over his brother. "What is it, Johnny?" he asked quietly.

Johnny hesitated before he spoke. "Nothin’, just a place where mama an' I lived for a while. It was a small village, but it looks... bigger here on this map." The interest was there now but something else, too. A part of Johnny's life was marked out on the chart before him.

Rayón? Hey, that wasn’t much more’n a mission with a few peasants livin’ around. Me an’ Val stopped there on our way ta… dang! We traveled a long way!

His mind was spinning. He knew distances and knew his way around, but having the area laid out in detail on the map, seeing the expanse of the country, was intriguing.

The shopkeeper, watching the interaction between the two men, spoke. "These are the latest maps available. They have more detail and accuracy of locations and distances. And this map displays the topography. Also, the smaller cities, too, are plainly marked."

The woman paused to straighten the wire-rimmed glasses that slid down to perch at the end of her nose. A wisp of light reddish hair streaked with gray escaped from the tight bun at the back of her head and dangled around her ear.

As she continued to point out features on the map, Johnny backed up a bit to give her more access at drawing his attention to this and that. His boot made contact with a solid object, and immediately he turned, concerned he was going to break something. A solid wooden stand with a dark stain was tucked in a corner. The framework encircled a ball shape in the center, and with closer inspection, Johnny saw it, too, was a map of sorts.

Scott grinned, knowing his brother would be asking about it. And he was right.

“Is this… is this what I think it is?” Johnny asked as if not quite believing what was sitting before him.

“That’s a globe, Johnny. A globe of the world. Look…” Scott explained as he stepped around the shopkeeper and slowly spun the replica of the earth. “Look, Johnny, here is Scotland, where Murdoch was born.” Scott couldn’t help but smile as he watched his brother, the deep blue eyes fixed on their father’s homeland, then carefully turned the globe back to California.

“That’s a long way…” Johnny said softly.

“Yes, it certainly is a long way! A ship from Scotland would probably have docked in New York City or Boston, then a traveler continued westward by means of one of many trails, taking months to get to the destination of their choice. There were hardships and many dangers, too! It took a hardy soul to make that journey!” she replied, absorbed in her historical knowledge.

Johnny looked at Scott. “Ha, hardy soul, huh? That’s our ol’ man, ain’t it, Boston?”

Scott smiled and nodded in agreement, them offered the shopkeeper a wink.

“Johnny, while you look at these maps, I’m going to find a few books,” Scott said but got no response from his brother. He could only chuckle as Johnny studied the globe.

“You spoke of historical events? I can surely help with that!” The shopkeeper’s  eyes were bright and sparkling at the notion as she confidently marched over to heavily laden racks, each with many shelves.

This is a woman that loves her job! Scott thought as he watched her. She had anxiously pointed out things on the map that Johnny could not tear his eyes from and was now rooting deep into several well-stocked racks in search of just the right tomes for Scott.

With Johnny now absorbed in the maps, Scott felt as if he could spend time perusing for interesting and unique volumes to purchase

"Anything particular in mind?" she asked, the twinkle in her eyes still there. Eager to help, the woman listened intently, gleaning what her experienced ear could to help this young man find precisely the right book, perhaps books.

"I specifically like historical events, maybe a good biography, as well."

The woman continued her narrative, the knowledge, and demeanor in which she talked endeared her to Scott as she eagerly answered his questions.

Oh, my goodness! I wish all my customers were as interesting as these two! She inwardly grinned. Stopping at another section of volumes, she indicated a shelf but turned to Scott with a question on her mind.

"Please do not think I am forward, but I have to ask; your brother called you Boston. Are you perhaps familiar with Boston?"

"Yes, I grew up there." Scott wondered at the grin that blossomed on her face.

"I was born in Concord!" she declared as if in secret collaboration. "I loved living there but couldn't get over the curiosity of what was beyond the next hill! So, here I am! Oh, I am sorry!" she hesitated. "Father always said I was a bit... outspoken!" The light blush stained her cheeks as Scott laughed softly.

"No need to apologize, Ma'am! I am delighted to talk with you!" His comment deepened her blush.

Clearing her throat, she guided Scott's attention to several books. "These are new items. I have only had them in the store for a week now. There are many topics here. Oh! Here is an interesting one. Guy Fawkes. He led the Gunpowder Conspiracy of 1605 in England. Fascinating reading, by the way!"

Gunpowder Conspiracy? Maybe Johnny would like that... Scott wondered. He took the book and began scanning the pages, then tucked it in his arm as the woman led him through the racks of books. He stepped out of the row of shelves to check on his brother and had to smile. Johnny was deeply immersed in studying the globe of the world. Maybe... he thought.

The search for more books lasted another hour, and Scott was sure his brother would be ready to leave by this time.

"I want to thank you for your time and expertise, Ma'am! I definitely have enough reading material to last a while!" Scott said as he made his way to the front desk. Depositing his purchases on the counter, he made his way to his brother's side in the back corner.

"Johnny, are you ready to leave?" Scott asked as his grin spread from one ear to the other. There was his brother, Johnny Madrid, pouring over the globe.

Johnny looked up with light dancing in his eyes. "I'm buyin' this," Johnny stated with no further discussion and no concern for the price.

"How are you going to get it home, brother?" Scott asked, knowing it could be shipped but curious as to what Johnny's response would be.

"Dunno, but I'm buyin' it. These, too." In his hand were two maps. The large map of Mexico that also included the bordering U.S. and a map of Boston. "You can show me where ya lived an' went ta school," he said in a light voice that Scott had yet to hear this day.

"Oh, I can ship a globe to you! If I work quickly, it can go out today, and you can have it within the week, that is, if it doesn't have to travel too far!" The woman's eyes sparkled, and her helpful smile brightened her face with the knowledge that the men before her were happy with their purchases.

"Thank you, Ma'am!" Johnny offered her his most charming Johnny Madrid Lancer smile.

Their purchases paid for, Scott and Johnny left the store and headed to meet Murdoch at the hotel dining room.

"Hey, Scott, I think that we need ta come back here next trip ta San Francisco! That lady sure knew her stuff about all them books an' maps! I learned a lot from her. Wish me an’ Val had them maps when we were ridin’ down by the border, woulda saved us some time insteada wanderin’ tryin’ ta find some of those places."

"Yes, we can do that!" Scott said, happy that Johnny was able to experience something positive with shopping in the big city. "And you might even enjoy one of the books I purchased!"

"Yeah? An' what's that?" Johnny asked, immediately suspicious.

"It's a book on the Gunpowder Conspiracy," Scott said with a grin.

"There's a book on a gunpowder conspiracy?" Scott nodded. "Who woulda thought?" Johnny mumbled.

“Scott, don’t tell Murdoch what I bought in that bookstore, huh? I wanna surprise him. It can be a present for all of us.”

“I think that’s a fine idea, brother!” Scott said with a grin.

The Lancer brothers walked back the way they had come, pinched toes forgotten and happy with the day.

 

 

 

~ end ~

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