The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Who Is This Johnny Madrid... Ah, Lancer
Episode tag for Shadow of a Dead Man

I’m gonna miss him somethin’ fierce… Hope he comes back ta see us. Do ya think there’s a chance that he might even stay if he comes back? It’s really lonesome out here so far away from town an’ other kids. Ain’t never had a grownup for a friend, but then, I ain’t never had any kid friends out here, neither. Guess I should start at the beginnin’, huh? Otherwise, ya might start ta think that I’m just makin’ up a story.

It sure was nice ta have some company other’n Ma. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love my Ma. It’s just that, well, she’s a girl! An’ me an’ Johnny had some real nice talks. You know, about boy things. He promised ta tell me about Indians an’ buffalo an’ about a place called Laramie. Guess he traveled a lot. Not like me. Here is all I know.

 Ma didn’t like it when he came ta the gate that first day. I wanted to let him inta the yard, he didn’t look like a bad sort. He seemed kinda fun, but Ma didn’t think so. She kept shootin’ her rifle, makin’ him back up outta the yard. Good thing her aim was good cuz she had him doin’ a dance all the way back! Now that I think on it, it was kinda funny, ‘specially when he fell down.

Once Ma settled down an’ told him he could make his camp on that side of the fence I planned ta sneak outta the house an’ talk ta him, you know, man stuff. Maybe I could take some of the chores an’ worry away from Ma if I asked Johnny for help. There’s lots a stuff that needs fixin’ around here an’ just maybe he’d be more willin’ ta help if I brought him some of Ma’s biscuits. No one I know of would turn down her biscuits. Didn’t figure Johnny ta be any different. An’, ya know what? I was right!

Durin’ supper when Ma wasn’t lookin’, I took them biscuits an’ wrapped ‘em in a napkin an’ stuffed ‘em in my shirt. Ma got busy doin’ dishes an’ I went out inta the yard when she wasn’t lookin’. Then I saw Johnny sittin’ there at his campfire lookin’ at some paper. I was glad he knew how ta read. Didn’t want ta think of him bein’ ignernt! I wanted ta sneak up on him, but them darn stickers stuck me an’, well, I wasn’t quiet no more.

I think that’s when I started ta trust him. He talked ta me like men talk, ya know, not like I was a kid. An’ he looked inta my face when he talked, too. Didn’t act like I wasn’t there, or somethin’ he didn’t wanna hafta be bothered about. The only thing he didn’t wanna talk about was when I asked if he was a gunfighter cuz of the way he wore his gun, ya know, kinda low on his hip. But, it sure was nice havin’ him around.

But it was even better when he accepted my deal! He was gonna fix the windmill, an’ I made the deal, not my Ma! Course, she wasn’t too happy at first when she saw him in the yard an’ on this side of the fence, but somethin’ changed cuz next thing I heard was Ma tellin’ Johnny that there was more stuff for him ta fix. My day just got better! He was gonna be here for me ta talk to for a while!

There wasn’t much that Johnny couldn’t do. Fact is, there wasn’t nothin’ that he didn’t fix. The roof don’t leak no more, he fixed that good’n proper! When we restrung that ol’ broken wire, I was tellin’ him about my Pa. My Pa, I told him, could shoot the spots off a ladybug at five hundred feet an’ was the strongest man I ever did see. But, I guess he knew that really wasn’t true cuz he said: “Grady, I thought you told me your father was dead?” An I knew I’d have ta own up ta tellin’ a fib. But I’d like ta think Pa was a crack shot an’ strong, too.

Then the darnest thing happened. Someone else rode inta the yard. I think that Johnny was… what’s the word I want? I know I heard Ma say it once or twice. It means worried that somethin’ might happen, kinda, like when last month when we went ta town, she was worried that her order at the store wouldn’t be right. An’ ya know what? It wasn’t! Sus… suspi… oh, heck, I can’t think of the darned word right now. Too much other stuff happened ta worry on a word!

That’s what Johnny reminded me of, that day with Ma knowin’ somethin’ wasn’t right. Anyway, turns out this man, Mr. Harner, wanted some water for his horse an’ when Johnny an’ me rode up, Ma had her rifle out pointed at him, too! My ma, she’s a nice lady, but ya guessed by now, she don’t want strangers around, huh? Anyway, I see this man, real big an’ he reminded me of that sneaky stray cat that’s always makin’ trouble chasin’ after our chickens. If ya ask me, he had some mighty scary eyes. Even now I don’t wanna think on ‘em much. Don’t want ‘em givin’ me bad dreams!

But, back ta what happened. I didn’t like Mr. Harner very much. Oh, he talked real nice ta my Ma, but ya know what? Sometimes I don’t think that girls can figure things out like us menfolk can. I know Johnny Madrid, I really like that name, don’t you? But I know that Johnny Madrid was thinkin’ that maybe somethin’ was fishy, too.

Ma tried ta fire Johnny, but he wouldn’t leave an’ I sure was glad cuz, I gotta tell ya, I sure didn’t like it much when Mr. Harner grabbed me an’ put his hand over my mouth! He wasn’t any too gentle about it, either! Johnny woulda never done nothin’ like that, I know that ta be true!

Ma had me real confused, though. First Johnny’s helpin’ us, then after Mr. Harner got there, she wanted Johnny ta leave. An’ that night when everythin’ happened, Ma pushed me ta the door an’ told me ta run. Well, was she kinda… crazy that night? Run outside inta the dark? Then after I did was when Mr. Harner nearly choked me.

I could feel my heart beatin’ like the hammer on the blacksmith’s anvil! I was scared, for me an’ my Ma! But, then the door opened an’ Johnny came runnin’ out, an’ he fell in the dirt when Mr. Harner shot him! I hated Mr. Harner for doin’ that! He didn’t hafta shoot Johnny an’ I think my heart almost stopped an’ I couldn’t breathe an’ it had nothin’ ta do with Mr. Harner holdin’ me too tight.

Then my Ma came out onta the porch an’ she yelled an’ that darned Mr. Harner took a shot at her! Was he gonna kill us all? I couldn’t move! It was like I was froze ta the ground! Then all of a sudden Johnny grabbed the rifle an’… an’ he killed Mr. Harner! Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t mad that he did, it was, it was just… so fast! An’ then I was runnin’ ta my Ma, I was so happy she was alright! The shootin’ was makin’ my ears ring, too! An’ all I could think was that Johnny Madrid was the bravest man I ever saw!

Then I heard Ma talkin’ ta Johnny, sayin’ that she thought Mr. Harner hadn’t missed, but when Johnny told her that he hadn’t missed, I felt Ma’s arms set me aside an’ she went ta help Johnny. Boy, I never felt so bad for no one like I did for him! I could tell he was hurtin’ an’ his arm was bleedin’ bad so I helped Ma get Johnny inta the house so she could tend him.

Ma didn’t want me ta watch when she fixed Johnny up. Guess she thought Johnny wouldn’t want me there ta see him in that kinda pain an’ I knew he was hurtin’, I saw the sweat bead on his face when we were takin’ his shirt off. Ma had me soak that shirt in cold water, so I was outta the room for the rest of it. Sure was a lotta blood!

Then two days later, me an’ Johnny was sittin’ on the steps ta the porch an’ he said he wanted ta talk ta me. I was thinkin’ he was makin’ good on his promise ta tell me about Laramie or some such thing. But what he said was like a punch ta my belly. He said he was leavin’! I asked him why, didn’t he wanna stay with us? An’ as long as I live, I’ll never forget what he said ta me.

“Grady, you gotta be strong for your Ma. She’s countin’ on ya an’ you showed her that you can handle just about everything a grown man can handle. Don’t let her down. I gotta go back ta my father. He’ll be worried about me. See, parents are like that.”

And then Johnny smiled at me, I think maybe he thought that I’d cry or somethin’ stupid. Don’t ever tell him, but I did wipe away a tear before he could see it! Then I asked if Mr. Madrid would ever let Johnny come for a visit.

Johnny looked at me kinda funny, then he laughed.

“Grady, my father’s name is… Mr. Lancer,” an’ he waited for me ta get over my shock at his father’s name cuz, an’ I’m tellin’ ya the truth here, Johnny’s father’s name is Lancer… just like mine!

Then I asked Johnny if we were related, like a family that ain’t seen each other for a long time.

“Johnny, does that mean that I’m like a brother ta you?” I remember askin’ that cuz if I had me a brother, I would want him to be just like Johnny! I remember him laughin’ again an’ then words he used this time did make me cry even though I tried ta hold back them tears.

Johnny held me in his arms, well, as much as he could with his hurt arm in that sling that Ma made him wear, an’ he whispered to me that if he had a younger brother that he would want him to be me! Grady Lancer, brother ta Johnny Madrid! How about that?!

Then I watched him ride away. Those darned tears just kept comin’ an’ as Ma put her arm around me, ya know like Ma’s do, I had ta wonder… Just who is Johnny Madrid, … ahhh, Lancer?



~ end ~

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