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Doc

 

 

Attitude Adjudsment

A Post-Lancer story: click here for the chronological order

A vignette for Family Appreciation Day (June 18)

 

There wasn’t a square frame in the whole town. Everything listed to one side or the other; longer rooflines sagged in the middle. Wooden buildings out West tended this way. Maybe that’s why Murdoch’s house—Scott’s house, too, now, and his brother’s—had been built from adobe. Scott’s eyes still expected Boston brick.

The door to the saloon wasn’t set right and Scott had to put his shoulder into it to get it open.

Johnny was already there, beers and steaks on the table in front of him. He caught Scott’s eye with a shrug and a smile. It was the best they were going to do here.

“Did you find a room?”

Scott nodded as he took his seat. “At the Red Rose Hotel and Boarding House. I still didn’t catch the name of this town.”

Johnny stared at him, then snorted. “Sump Hole.”

Scott didn’t know if Johnny was answering him or waxing poetic. His brother was a good traveling companion but Scott didn’t always get his sense of humor. 

The saloon filled up with cowboys and shopkeepers as they ate. A faro dealer set up his table while a poker game broke out across from him. Scantily dressed ladies appeared, hanging on men’s shoulders and encouraging them to drink up.

As their dishes were cleared Johnny produced two fat Cuban cigars. “Shall we make a night of it, brother?”

Brother. Johnny called him that quite a bit. To his surprise, Scott didn’t mind. “Why not? At least something good can come of this trip.”

They lit up and Johnny puffed out a perfect smoke ring. “Coulda been worse.”

Scott raised one eyebrow. “Seriously? We didn’t find a single cow any better than the ones we’re already breeding.”

“Bull.”

Scott’s ire rose. They’d come a long way to see those lousy cows, and they were all punier than any Lancer beef. Johnny himself had said so.

His brother caught his glare and grinned. “Bull,” he repeated. “Not cow. We were lookin’ at bulls.”

For a tic of the clock, Scott bristled. Then he shook his head and returned the smile. “Touché.”

“Anyway, Scott, it hasn’t been such a bad trip, has it? Smooth-moving horses, plenty of grub, no one breathing down our necks...and now a night in town?” Johnny settled back in his chair, puffed on his cigar, and watched the bustle end of a painted lady as she circulated among the saloon girls. Scott knew the spark in Johnny’s eyes was reflected in his own.

“You’re right. Not such a bad trip.”

 

 

~ end ~

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