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EJ

 

 

Goodbye Lizzie: Father/Son Talk

 

 

Murdoch can’t help being curious about Lizzie’s and Johnny’s relationship. An episode tag for Goodbye Lizzie



As Murdoch watched Elizabeth walk out the front door it left him wondering what to expect next. One thing he knew for sure, he needed to talk to Johnny, but he also knew he couldn’t push for answers. Murdoch groaned and shook his head. What if Madrid replaced Johnny Lancer after talking to Elizabeth?

The wait was getting on his nerves, where was the boy? A noise drew his attention…

Johnny stood in the doorway from the kitchen, Murdoch couldn’t help but notice the unasked question on his son’s face.

“Yes, Johnny she told me about her ‘boys’.” Murdoch motioned for Johnny to join him on the sofa.

Instead of joining his father, Johnny returned to the chair he had occupied before their guest had arrived for supper. Murdoch didn’t miss the distance Johnny placed between them. He had hoped those days were past, their relationship had become closer these past months. Had Elizabeth’s return also signaled the return of Johnny Madrid? Did it mean starting over, did it mean… Murdoch didn’t want to dwell on that, he wanted to know about Madrid, Lizzie, and her boys.

*****

For what seemed an eternity, they sat in silence neither one wanting to start the conversation. Finally, Johnny cleared his throat, “Murdoch…” He quickly stood and leaned on the fireplace mantle, “Murdoch, I know you’re curious about me and Lizzie.” He turned to face his father, “What you really want to know is about Madrid. Isn’t it?” He waited for a response.

“Johnny please sit down.” Murdoch pointed to the empty chair and waited for his son to sit down. “Elizabeth didn’t say exactly how you know each other, just something about being…”

Johnny’s grunt interrupted Murdoch, “Yeah, I know what she meant.”

Unsure how to respond Murdoch nodded, but still felt he needed to continue, to reassure his son. “Johnny I don’t want to push-” He stopped when Johnny held up his hand.

“Murdoch, I wasn’t one of her boys, believe it or not I did have a line I didn’t cross.”

“I believe that Johnny-” Murdoch stopped again when Johnny bowed his head and hugged his chest, a sure sign Johnny was trying to come to terms with something he didn’t really want to talk about.

They sat in silence, again. Murdoch was not going to rush his son, this was too important to risk Johnny leaving.

*****

Memories were fighting for control; Johnny needed Madrid and he needed Madrid to tell the story. Finally in control, he raised his head and stared at Johnny Lancer’s father.

“Murdoch.” He dropped the self-hug and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees.

*****

Murdoch sucked in a breath, Johnny Madrid was staring at him. The sound of the gunfighter’s voice had an odd timbre to it.

*****

 “You want to know how I met Lizzie?” He waited for a nod to continue.

“I told ya I wasn’t one of her boys.” He sighed wishing he didn’t have to tell the tale. “She was in a one horse town down near the border, guess she was taking a break since the boys weren’t with her.”

He hated revisiting his past, but it was too late to back out now.

“I had just finished a job in a range war, turns out the rancher decided I was too expensive so he had his foreman bushwhack me.” He hesitated when he heard a gasp.

“Anyway, I got away but not without a bullet in the back.” Johnny clenched his fist to stop himself from reaching back to rub the scar.

“I was looking for a place to lay low when I spotted a run down shack. Thought is was empty.” He shook his head at the memory of the many times he had to lay low and heal.

“Sure surprised me when some woman came running out the door and grabbed me when I started falling off my horse. She half drug me inside and dropped me on a bed. I just watched her. She pumped some water, grabbed and knife, came over to the bed. Next thing I knew she was digging out the bullet. Shocked the hell out of me how she took over. Wasn’t a bit upset about the blood getting all over her, the bed, and the floor.” Johnny unconsciously rubbed the thumb and forefinger of his gun hand, remembering her strength and calm determination.

He leaned back into the chair. “She took care of me for several days of fever, every time I woke up she was there with a drink of water. She never asked questions just looked after me.”

“When I could ride again I thanked her for helping me. As I rode off she called after me, ‘you be careful Johnny Madrid’. She knew who I was the whole time but it didn’t make a difference to her. After that we ran into each other several times, but we never talked about how we met.”

Johnny leaned forward again. “Sure never expected to see her show up here.”

Johnny closed his eyes and bowed his head as he waited for Murdoch. He couldn’t let go of Madrid yet.

*****

Murdoch sat in stunned silence. He was torn between dread of almost losing his son and gratitude that Elizabeth was there for Johnny Madrid.

Johnny’s matter-of-fact telling of the story was like listening to someone read aloud a newspaper item; all business, just the facts, and without any emotion. Sadly it reminded Murdoch that Johnny Madrid didn’t care if he lived or died. It also revived the fear he had felt when he received the Pinkerton report about the firing squad.

“Johnny please let Madrid go, you have a new life now. A second chance…” He paused till Johnny looked at him. “And like you, Elizabeth has a new life, a second chance. She is back and working to make a home for her and Jenny.”

“I can never let go of Madrid, someone will always come out of my past and Johnny Lancer can’t protect me.” Johnny stared down at his gun hand.

“I know and I don’t expect you to completely erase Madrid, like you said you still need him.” Murdoch scooted down the sofa to get closer toward the chair. “You have family now and we will be here any time you need us.”

Johnny shook his head, “Just don’t get in the way when it happens.”

Knowing it was now or never, Murdoch stood and pulled Johnny to his feet. “We won’t son, but we’ll be here afterwards.” He put his arm around Johnny’s shoulder’s, and in a voice he hoped conveyed a father’s love, “Don’t you forget that.”

*****

Surprised and relieved, Johnny let Madrid slip back where he belonged and Lancer take his rightful place. Gratefully he put his arm around his father’s waist. “Thanks Murdoch.”

*****

It was quiet with everyone in bed, and finally he could enjoy his scotch - uninterrupted. He relaxed into his leather chair and watched the flames dance across the logs in the fireplace.

Encouraged by his talk with Johny, Murdoch sighed in contentment and leaned into the soft leather. Although not everything between them had been settled… it was enough for now. Yes, he smiled to himself, it was enough that something from Madrid’s past had been shared and that it had a happy ending. His son survived to come home, and all thanks to an old friend.

*****

Johnny leaned against the headboard lost in thought about what had happened this evening.

Sure it was emotionally draining, but it sure felt good when his father hadn’t judged him during the telling. Murdoch did indeed believe in second chances, it wasn’t just talk. He knew it was true when he told Lizzie, but somehow it meant more when Murdoch’s actions backed up his words.

He smiled in contentment as he slid under the covers.

Madrid wasn’t Johnny Lancer’s only protection, he had a family that loved him.

 

~ end ~
December 2018

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