The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link
subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link
subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link
subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link
subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link
subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link
subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link
subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link

Buckskin

 

 

Luke 10:37
Mercy- Go and do likewise Easter Challenge.
A special thanks to Sandy

"Go and do likewise."

Pastor Daniel Ross was in trouble. He was late in his travels and had taken the wrong trail after losing his way in the dark the night before. He shrugged as he looked around him, now in the bright, unyielding light of day. The heat ripples distorted his sight as they reflected off the ground. There was nothing but desert: nothing but sand and rock. And the blazing sun that was baking him dry.  

As he squinted in the morning sun, the words of warning slammed into his brain. Don’t go out there alone, Pastor Ross!  That was nonsense; he wasn’t alone. Apparently, the sheriff in Las Cruces wasn’t a man of faith, otherwise, he would have known that one is never alone. Pastor Ross smiled at the sheriff’s words, quickly assuring him he was in good company. Then, he rented the buggy, loaded his things while asking directions to the town of Alden, and was on his way.

A new life! A new life with a new church, well, not new, but new for him. People to meet, a congregation to get to know, and weddings to perform, and babies to christen; a new life serving the Lord!  His anticipation grew, and his heart was filled to near bursting with the love and satisfaction that his work brought him—the love of his fellow man and the calling to spread The Word.

And in his excitement, Pastor Ross lost his way. Now, he gazed down at the broken wheel as it lay spinning in the dirt. The rim bent like a crippled hand over the splintered felloes, useless and in need of help beyond his capacity. Daniel drew on the strength that had always sustained him through the hard times. He pulled a deep breath.

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7, and 8.” He sighed as he watched the wheel, then cast a wary eye around him. Where am I? He wondered. Daniel hadn’t seen a soul for miles; in fact, he could barely see the road. How had he gotten so far off track? And more than that, what was he going to do?

I will rely on the Grace of God; He is my Savior as he has always shone me the way…

There was nothing he could do unless he wanted to wander off to… where? Surely the good people of Alden would send out a search party when they realized he was late. Wouldn’t they? Yes! Of course, they would!  So, for now, he would wait. And sweat. Where is my hat? Pastor Ross reached for the dust-covered hat, lying in the boot box, and placed it on his head to wait.

The sun slowly traveled across the pale sky. There were no clouds to block the rays that became more intense with each passing minute. There wasn’t even a cactus to produce shade where he could rest, but he would not give up hope. The Lord would protect him, no matter what. But little did Daniel know that his troubles had just begun.

The sun was directly overhead, beating down mercilessly and drying the dampness before it had a chance to cool his skin. He looked around. There was nothing in front of him, but as he turned, his breath caught in his throat as a form materialized over a sandy hill. The form grew into two shadowy figures on horses. They found him! Thank you, Lord! Ross’s smile grew as he walked to meet his rescuers.

The men stopped their horses as they observed the scene before them, and their smiles crawled across their faces.

“Afternoon, Parson. Looks like ya got yerself some trouble. Where ya headed? Ain’t nothin’ out here but rocks an’ sand!” The men chuckled as they dismounted and walked to the disabled buggy.

“Yes, I can see that now. I got lost last night and broke a wheel. Could you please help me to get to Alden? I’m the new pastor and don’t want to be late for my first service!” Daniel’s smile never left, knowing that tonight he would be standing in the church he would soon be ministering. But suddenly, he gave the thought pause as the men began tossing his things from the buggy. They pawed through his luggage, throwing clothes and personal items to the ground, then took his canteen, shaking it to reveal the amount of water.

“Hey, Virgil! Lookee here! The Parson just ‘blessed’ us with his canteen! Must be some of that Holy Water they talk about!”

“Why, thank ya, Parson! I’ll r’member ta mention ya when I go ta church!” The two men laughed as they turned to leave.

Daniel Ross began to panic. They couldn’t leave him out here with no water! “Wait, please…”

Virgil whirled and lashed out with a vicious blow to the Pastor’s jaw, sending him sprawling in the hot sand. He shook his head and struggled to his feet. “No, please wait…” and he knew no more after the gun barrel made contact with his head.

<><><><> 

Boots. A pair of worn, dusty boots were in front of his eyes. He groaned, closing those eyes against the harsh glare of the sun. Pain lanced through his head as he tried to regain an upright position, and he heard a low, soft voice cautioning him to move slowly.

“What… happened?” Daniel asked as he desperately tried to focus.

“Don’t try an’ talk, Padre, just sit here a while an’ wait’ll your brain stops scramblin’. I got water here when you’re ready ta drink,” the soothing voice drawled.

Daniel saw an arm reach out to him, holding the precious water, and he grabbed it.

“Here, lemme help ya. Don’t wanna get too much too fast. Won’t stay down if ya do that an’ you’ll end up worse’n ya are now. Go slow…”

An arm went around his shoulders and lifted him. The man’s body blocked the sun, and for a moment, all Daniel could see was a silhouette.

Daniel took a sip and let the water flow down his throat, washing the dust away, and with it, a spark of clarity began to grow. He waited a minute, then took another drink. He felt the man hold a cloth to his head where the blood oozed.

“Hold that,” the stranger said, as Daniel took the bandana and held it in place.

“Thank you, my son,” he said, trying for a better look at his rescuer. The arm tightened around him and sat him up against the rear wheel, and his sight began to clear. He could now make out a face, darker skin covered with several day's growth of beard and vivid blue eyes.

“What brought ya out here, Padre? Ain’t nothin’ for miles,” the stranger asked.

Daniel sighed. “I know that now. I lost my way in the dark last night, and the wheel broke. Earlier today, anyway, I think it was today, two men came upon me and took the water I had. I asked them for help, but…”

“Yeah, I know what happened,” the stranger sighed.

“You know? How could you know?”

“Ya ain’t from around here, are ya?” The question was asked lightly, and Daniel could see a small grin tug at the corners of the mouth.

“No, I’m from Philadelphia, back East,” Daniel said, wondering what it had to do with anything.

“Read the tracks. Well, Mister Padre From Philadelphia Back East, looks like I need ta try an’ get you ta town. Where were ya headed?”

“Alden. I need to get there to be ready for church on Sunday. I’m the new pastor.”

“Well, wasn’t plannin’ on goin’ that way, but looks like my plans just got changed. They took your horse an’ two of us on this ornery nag won’t get too far, ‘specially with one canteen a water, so we’ll be travelin’ slow. Might not get there in time for Sunday.”

Daniel heard the horse snort, the bit jangled when he shook his head. He leaned forward a bit to see the nag but was surprised to note a beautiful black horse watching them.

“You call that a nag?” The pastor was shocked.

“Only when I wanna pis… ah, only when I wanna  put him in his place.”

 “You talk as if he knows what you’re saying,” Daniel said in disbelief.

The stranger said nothing but gave him a smirk.

“He’s magnificent!” Even with eyes still blurry, Daniel Ross could see the horse was a stunning creature.

“Don’t say that too loud, Padre, cuz there ain’t no livin’ with him then,” the man said with a chuckle.

This stranger was not like those he met earlier. Daniel knew him to be a good man even if he didn’t want to admit it. So, Daniel would wait and find out more.

“Let’s get your things tagether, only take the small bag. No room for anything more.”

“Wait, before we go any further, I need to know your name, please,” Daniel said.

The man hesitated and met the Pastor’s eyes, then spoke. “Johnny.”

Pastor Daniel Ross could only stare. The man looked as though he was of Mexican descent, but had the deepest blue eyes Daniel had ever seen. He shook himself free of the rude stare, then he smiled.

“Johnny, I am very thankful and pleased to know you!”

Johnny held back the remark that was on the tip of his tongue, then took a breath.

“Ya don’t know me. An’ prob’ly wouldn’t like it too much if ya did,” he whispered sadly, then turned away and readied the horse.

Daniel stood in shock. What did he mean? He wondered to himself and vowed to find out. This man had taken the time to stop and help but doesn’t think I would like him if I knew more about him? Ross was puzzled and, indeed, wanted to know more about him.

<><><><> 

“Easy, there, Padre! Guess we need ta stop before ya fall off this horse an’ hurt yourself.” Johnny pulled on the reins and swung his right leg over Valiente’s head to slide from the saddle, keeping a grip on Daniel Ross’  arm.

Startled awake, Daniel’s eyes opened wide as he swayed in the saddle. “What… happened?” he mumbled.

Johnny smiled as he helped the Padre down and held his arm until the balance returned. “Nothin’ ta concern yourself about. Just figured ta make an early camp. I think you should rest an’ maybe you’ll be better tamorrow. These rocks’ll protect us from the wind.”

Daniel nodded. Truth be told, he wasn’t feeling all that well, and his head was beginning to pound. “Thank you, Johnny, yes, I think I would like to rest and get an early start in the morning. I also want to thank you for helping me. I would have died out there had you not come along when you did. I want you to know that I am in your debt. You are, indeed, a good Samaritan!”

Johnny huffed. “You’re wrong about that…” he said softly and walked away.

He turned from settling Valiente for the night to face Daniel. That little smirk played at the corner of Johnny’s mouth. He shrugged then turned back to the horse.

“No need ta thank me, Padre. Woulda done it for anyone… almost.”

Daniel heard a brief chuckle but didn’t ask. “Can I ask what you’re doing out here? There isn’t anything around!”

“Was chasin’ those two that attacked you. I can pick up their trail when I get you ta Alden. They ain’t too bright. Only take me an extra coupla days.” Johnny fell silent and finished with the horse.

He built a fire, placing lengths of dried cholla in the small flames. Once it blazed, Johnny dug in his saddlebags for a can of beans. He reached in his boot and drew out a large wicked-looking knife, punched it through the can, and levered up the top. Then placed the can close to the fire.

“Sorry, all I got is beans an’ jerky,” Johnny confessed as he studied the Preacher.

“As hungry as I am, it will taste like a feast, I am sure!” Daniel proclaimed with a broad smile, anticipating the meal, even though he never had jerky before. “Why were you chasing those men, Johnny? Did they take something from you?”

 Johnny stopped, his hands now still, holding the wood ready to throw on the flames. He paused and met Daniel’s eyes with a cold stare, and Johnny saw the man shiver. “Yeah.” Then he looked away. Getting to his feet, Johnny quietly walked out of camp without another word.

<><><><> 

“I feel quite guilty, Johnny, taking your blanket. Will you be warm enough tonight?” Daniel asked as he watched Johnny settle himself to lean against the rock.

“I’m fine, Padre, but you need ta keep warm. How’s the head?”

Daniel smiled. Yes, he is a good man and doesn’t even know it! I can see it in his eyes. “I think it will be fine. Thank you. A little rest and I will be as good as new! Again, Johnny, I appreciate you taking your time to help me. I would like to think anyone would, but I am afraid that is not the case, and I can only hope that my prayers for those poor unfortunate souls will find their way into their hearts and lead them on toward a Christian life.”

Johnny looked at the man as if he’d grown another head, then burst into laughter. Over the flicker of the fire, Johnny saw the Padre’s eyes widen.

“You talkin’ about them two that jumped ya?”

“Yes, Johnny, I am. Do you think them beyond redemption?”

“Don’t waste your time, Padre. There ain’t enough redemption ta go around! I oughta know; been told that enough times!” Johnny laughed without humor.

Daniel stared as he watched the blue eyes fill with sadness, but it vanished quickly. His senses telling him of trouble lurking under that confident façade. What did he just divulge? There is something there, below the surface, but there.

“Johnny,” he began as he saw the hurt that flickered, then was gone. “Who hurt you?” Daniel whispered.

Knowing he’d said too much, Johnny looked away. “No one. Happened a long time ago.” Staring into the fire, Johnny pulled his thoughts together and tucked them into that place where he kept things private, for no one’s ears but his own. He threw the last dregs of coffee from his cup onto the ground, pulled his hat over his eyes, and slept.

Pastor Daniel Ross clasped his hands, bowed his head, and prayed.

<><><><> 

His sleep was interrupted as the hand gently shook his shoulder.

“Padre, get up. We can make better time if we travel when it’s cool.” The voice was soft, holding none of the hurt from the night before.

“Johnny? What time is…?”

“Early, Padre. It’s still early. Let’s get goin’,” Johnny said as he stood and began to saddle the horse.

“Do I have time to say morning prayers?”Daniel asked as he rolled out of the blanket.

“Nope. Get your business done, and we’ll leave soon’s I get saddled up.” Johnny finished the cinch knot and retrieved his bedroll to secure behind the saddle.

Johnny mounted up, then extended his hand, and Daniel climbed up behind. They moved out with Valiente, again, shaking his mane and forelock like a misty black cloud around the mighty head.

<><><><> 

“Will we make it to Alden today, Johnny? It looks to be a glorious day!” Daniel inquired and attempted to start a conversation.

Johnny smiled to himself. He’s wantin’ ta talk. Damn. “Glorious day, huh?”

“Yes! Glorious in that we are alive and have found strength in each other…
I’m sorry, Johnny. I have found strength in you. I am sure you could do very well without me!”

Johnny could hear the humor in the Padre’s voice. “Sure, glorious day.” Hoping to put an end to the chatter, he agreed.

But the quiet was short-lived.

“Every day starts anew! Another beginning, cleansing the past of our sins with us only having to ask.”

Johnny huffed. “Take more’n a new day ta cleanse all my sins.” He had to stop the talk, knowing that the Padre felt compelled to preach. Johnny wasn’t ready to listen, and they had a long way to go.

“Hey, ya hungry?” He lifted his arm and pointed to a bunch of scrub brush. “Should be a rabbit or two in there.” He held out his hand to Daniel and helped the man slide off the horse, then handed the reins to him. “Here, don’t let him bite your fingers,” and Johnny left in pursuit of a meal.

Daniel looked into the clear, bright eyes of the horse. Valiente snorted, leaving Daniel searching for a handkerchief to clean up the wet that Valiente shared.

<><><><> 

“I’ve never had rabbit before. It’s quite delicious! Thank you, Johnny. I appreciate all…”

“Yeah, I know, ya ‘ppreciate all I did. Ya don’t need ta say it every time ya eat somethin’. But… you’re welcome,” and the grin reached his eyes.

Daniel could read the humor there. Could it be Johnny is beginning to warm up? It is clear he doesn’t hold the Word in high regard but, is he starting to look at me as a friend? Time would tell. With patience and the Lord on his side, Pastor Ross just might be able to break through the wall Johnny had built around himself. Ross could see it as if it were a tangible thing but doubted that Johnny knew it was there.

Johnny had admitted it would take more than a new day to cleanse his sins away, and the Preacher wondered if it would help for him to talk. Sure that Johnny would hesitate only made Daniel all the more determined to find out. What’s the worst that can happen, other than Johnny telling me to mind my own business. Hmmm, minding my own business is not my business. And Daniel smiled.

Johnny watched the Padre during the afternoon. A concussion didn’t always show itself right away. He knew that from experience, and as much as he didn’t want to talk, it was the best way to track the situation. If he could keep the conversation off of him, Johnny felt he could bite the bullet for another day until they got to Alden. But he also knew ol’ Padre Daniel Ross was like a dog with a bone; he’d been watching Johnny all day. And Johnny knew it was only a matter of time.

“You know much about this country, Johnny. Were you born around here?”

Damn, he’s startin’ with the questions too early. Thought he’d wait till we made camp anyway… “Nope. California.” Short answers, that’s it. Maybe he’ll get the message.

“California! Oh, my, that is a far distance! How did you end up here?” Daniel was surprised and blundered on, anxious to hear of Johnny’s life. “Is all of your family here?”

Johnny remained still, and Daniel could feel the tension that rolled from the stiff shoulders in front of him.

“Johnny, I’m sorry. I fear my curiosity has got the better of me. But, should you need to talk, I want you to know that I would be happy to listen.” There, he knows I want to help him. And he does need help.

He had to get himself pulled together. Maybe it’s time the Padre knows who he’s ridin’ with… “Got no family. My mother’s dead.”

“I’m sorry, Johnny. What happened to her?” Keep him talking!

“She was murdered. Broken neck. The man that did it came after me next. But I took care of it.” Johnny could feel it start. It was building inside, boiling over with toxic vapors. Need to get it under control!

“What did you do, Johnny?” Daniel asked softly, gently urging the words to come.

“Killed him. Killed him with his own gun.”

Daniel was stunned. He wanted to keep asking, continue to delve into this tragic life. He wanted to help. But he needed to think and pray for guidance.

“I’m sorry to ask this, Johnny, but could we stop for the night? I would like to rest.”

Thankful for the interruption, Johnny scouted for a suitable place to camp. It would do for Valiente to get extra rest. Carrying the two men for much of the day had taxed his strength. Making camp was a welcome distraction for Johnny, and, for now, the Padre was quiet.

<><><><> 

The fire cast a cheery glow as the sun began its descent in the sky. With the darkness came the chill, and again, Daniel was wrapped in Johnny’s bedroll. With coffee in hand, he studied Johnny over the flames.

Mierda, he’s gonna start askin’ more questions. And Johnny didn’t have long to wait.

“How old were you, Johnny, when your mother was killed?” he asked but was shocked with the answer.

Johnny met the question with a tired stare and sighed deeply. “Ten.”

“What… what did you do?”

Now Johnny smiled. “Ran. After I killed him, I ran. Till I was caught an’ left in a orphanage.”

“Thank goodness for that!” Daniel felt great relief that Johnny had been cared for. A place to sleep and food and other children!

Johnny laughed, harsh and cold. “Goodness, huh? That what you think? Lemme tell ya how ‘goodness’ worked for me. Mestizos are hated. The Priests think you’re dirt. Worse’n dirt. They beat ya more’n the other kids an’ more times than not, ya go ta bed with a empty belly. So, if that’s the ‘goodness’ you’re talkin’ about, you can have it. I left an’ took care of myself. An’ learned how ta handle a gun. It’s how I made my way.”

“That’s horrible, Johnny! Please, I want to understand…”

“What’s ta understand, Padre? It’s done an’ over. Nothin’ can change what was.”

“I want to understand for myself. Please.”

Johnny looked down. His hands were near trembling, and he was glad the Padre could not see it. Then he nodded.

“First of all, what is ‘mestizo’? I’ve never heard that term before.”

“No, don’t s’pose ya have. My mother was Mexican; father is white. The Priests hated my blue eyes. Got beat for havin’ ‘em.” The statement was calm as if asking the Padre to pass the salt.

This was too much to grasp and ugly to hear. But Daniel kept peeling away the layers to this complex young man. “Johnny, you said your father is white. He’s still alive, then?”

 “Last I knew. Never met him.”

There was more to this man than Daniel had ever imagined. And there was a light that glowed from his heart. Daniel could see it, feel it, and wanted so much to make Johnny believe it was there.

 “Johnny, when you talk about what happened, you seem hard so hard on yourself. You are a good man…”

“You don’t know what I done since then, what I am now,” Johnny challenged more harshly than he had intended.

“No, Johnny, I don’t. But God does. You can’t keep anything from him. And no-one is without fault or has never sinned.”

And that statement confirmed to Johnny that he was bound for Hell.

“Get some sleep, Padre. Mornin’ll be here before ya know it.” Again, Johnny put a stop to any more questions.

Yes, morning will come quickly; however, Daniel would spend his night in conversation with another. And pray for answers.

<><><><> 

“Alden ain’t much more’n five miles, Padre. We’ll be there soon.” Johnny thought he would be happy to get rid of the Pastor, but for a reason unknown to him, he was reluctant to leave the man. Pull yourself tagether, Madrid! He chastised himself.

“Johnny, could we stop? I think I need to rest a minute.” It’s just a tiny fib, Lord.

“Sure, Padre. Here grab my hand an’ slide off.” Johnny extended his arm, lending his support.

“Thank you, Johnny!” He took the canteen that Johnny offered, limped over to a boulder, and sat to drink. When he slaked his thirst, Daniel focused his attention once more on the young man.

“May I ask why you were chasing the men that attacked me?”

Johnny hesitated and met the Padre’s stare. He sighed heavily and looked away. “They killed a man an’ I’m goin’ after ‘em.”

Now it was Daniel’s turn to sigh. “You’re not going to… kill them, are you?” he asked quietly.

“Nope. Gonna bring ‘em in an’ hand ‘em over ta the law. Then I’m gonna collect the reward and give it ta the widow an’ her kids that was left behind.”

“Johnny, why are you so hard on yourself?” A smile inched across Daniel’s face.

His insides began the boil again, flip over, and churn. He tried to draw air into his lungs, but it caught in his throat, and all he could do was whisper, “Bad things!” He willed himself to get control.

Not to be deterred, Daniel continued, peeling away another layer of this complicated young man. “Well, that may be, but I know you’ve done good—more than you give yourself credit for. You helped me, and you are bringing some bad men to justice, and I have a feeling that I have only scratched the surface. However, I told you before, no one is without sin. No one. You do yourself a great disservice.”

Johnny looked away, mulling over what the Padre had just said.

“Johnny? Could you please do something for me?”

The blue stare focused on him.

“There is only one thing I will ask, and that is for you to believe in yourself. Give yourself a chance!”

There was something in that smile of the Padre’s that held Johnny’s attention. Something that he felt. It was physical. Was it a slap in the face, punch in the belly or… a blessing from above? It jolted him and made him think…

<><><><> 

Alden was not a big town, but it did seem busy today. Folks were out and about when Johnny pulled Valiente to a stop in front of the sheriff’s office. Daniel slid off the horse and waited for Johnny to dismount.

Untying the valise from behind the saddle, Johnny turned and handed it to Pastor Ross.

“Well, ya made it, Padre. This’s Alden.” Johnny looked around the town.

“I want to thank you, Johnny, for all you’ve done for me. If you ever get this way again, I ask that you stop and visit me. It would mean more than you know.”

The sincerity in Daniels's voice touched Johnny’s heart, and he couldn’t help but smile.

“Yeah, sure, Padre. I’ll do that. Take care of yourself, alright?” Johnny mounted his horse, and with a brief wave to Daniel started out of town. Then he pulled Valiente to a halt and turned in the saddle.

“Hey, Padre, say a prayer for me, will ya?” He waved again and left Alden, feeling a strange peace settle around him.

<><><><> 

Pastor Daniel Ross knelt before the burning candle and clasped his hands in prayer. There was much he could say, but he decided to keep it short in honor of the man that helped him in his hour of need. He could only hope that these words would find a way to ease that heart. Samaritan helping Samaritan.

“Almighty Lord, please keep this man in Your heart and guide him with Your wisdom and grace. Light his way in Your glory, and give him strength as he so willingly gives his to others. Let him know his worth, his goodness, and his heart. In Jesus's name, I pray. Amen.

Daniel opened his Bible and read: Luke 10:37, “He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

Pastor Daniel Ross stood and watched the flickering candle. “Vaya con Dios, Johnny!”

He left the Bible open to that passage in the Book of Luke, then walked to the door and stepped out into the night. Vaya con Dios!

 

 

 

 

~ end ~
March 2020

Want to comment? Email Buckskin