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Heather

 

 

Ghostly Apparitions

Unbeta'd…., a bit of Halloween fun. Not that we celebrate it over here, but hopefully I rose to the challenge and brought a smile to you all. For this was my goal. We can all use a laugh huh?
AR:- As always in my stories, Johnny is 19, Scott is 25. If you don't like, then simply don't read. You have been warned, so don't complain to me later…
Warning:- Later Johnny is playfully rude with his older brother (boys teasing) and so if your prudish maybe you shouldn't read on…..
Kit's characters and influences are in this piece….and I thank her for allowing me to use them in my stories. ….Thanks Kit…,always for your valued support.

Scott was sitting in the great room, book in hand, and deep in thought, reflecting on the day's events.

Johnny had been sent to his room to think about things once more, after yet another lecture on  who was to blame when a stray dog followed them on the way to church last Sunday.  It hadn't helped that Johnny was throwing bits of meat from his brother's sandwich to encourage the dog to follow and then when Murdoch wasn't looking, had tied it to a tree just at the back of the Church.

The trouble was it had chewed its way free; chased a cat and tripped up Mayor Higgs and his lovely wife and the Widow Hargis as they stepped out onto the small porch leading from the Church.  It had been an amazing thing; woman screaming; legs flying into the air, as the three of them, landed in a knotted heap at the foot of the stairs.

Scott had never seen such a colorful display of bright blue and cream silk bloomers, flashing before his eyes; something he'd only ever seen in a whore house and.., it amused him!

Later Johnny had lit out like his tail was on fire, and still in his Sunday best too! He had then limped home in a complete mess in the early hours of Monday morning and Murdoch had been waiting for him! It hadn't been pretty and the result was it was now Hallo's eve and Johnny was ordered to stay with his older brother, if he left the house. Scott was going to be effectively babysitting , a thing Scott didn't like to do at the best of times and this was not the best of times!

Murdoch as usual had gone to Aggies and had left Johnny at home with strict orders to stay in the house unless his brother agreed to take him out. No way was he to go out alone, unescorted.

He'd felt like a damned ten year old and had complained bitterly but the end result had been the same and Murdoch had left with the rules set in stone! “You will only go out if your brother agrees to take you out with him. He goes out alone and you stay home, clear boy!”

Johnny had nodded fearful that if he didn't his father would just ground him anyway! Besides he knew he could always con Scott into taking him out.  

The coast now clear, he slid down the bannister, hitting his spot with his usual precision and slapping his hands together, grinning.  He Jumped down the three steps into the Great room and skidded to a halt in front of Scott, “Hey bro,” he drawled smacking him on the knee.

Scott lowered his book and didn't even look up, “What do you want Johnny?” he asked suspicion marring his otherwise handsome face.

“Now there ain't no need for the attitude brother. Murdoch's always raggin' on at me about my attitude…supposed to be an example ya know! An' for your information, I don't want nuthin'.” Johnny declared, lying through his teeth, and slipping in beside his brother on the couch. “What'cha readin'?” he prodded, pretending to be interested.  

Scott shook his head, “Johnny its Halloween and our father has told you, you are not allowed out of this house unless it's with me. Now since I know you're not in the least bit interested in what I'm reading, I'm asking you again, what do you want?” he demanded. 

Johnny grinned, his eyes dancing now. ‘Shit he's gettin' to know me to darn well. Alright, truth time.' He cleared his throat and put on the smile. “Well now you see there's this little party goin on in Green River, everyone's goin ta be there, well everyone that matters and,” he shuffled, “well,  I was wonderin' what you were thinkin' on doin' tonight brother?” he asked hopeful.

Scott grinned, “The truth Johnny, well how refreshing. What about the party?” he asked knowing full well but he was enjoying watching Johnny squirm. It was payback time for what happened in the pig pen earlier!

Johnny smiled, “Well I was wonderin' what you were gonna do for Halloween?” he asked getting right to the point. ‘No point in wastin' anymore time dilly dallyin' around,' he thought.

Scott grinned and laying down his book, stretched. “Well I have no interest in the celebration myself Johnny. Besides, I've made other arrangements for tonight. I am going to be spending the evening with a real lady.” He said smiling, his own eyes lighting up at the thought.

“Yeah? A real lady, huh? … Of the night,” Johnny added, whispering, knowing full well who he was planning on spending the night with!

“It's already arranged then huh?” Johnny asked, sure and certain it wasn't.

At the question Scott frowned a little and Johnny knew he had him. “Well not pr-earranged you understand, but she'll drop everyone for me. It's my natural charm you see little brother,” he poked.

“Natural charm my ass.” Johnny ground out. “It's somethin' alright but it ain't your natural charm Boston!” he accused winking, thinking of how Rachel Fairchild always referred to him as Scott's ‘little' brother! ‘Little my ass!' “You sure it ain't about somethin' else older brother,” he prodded indicating with his hand at his crotch! “You sure,” he asked winking now, “Rachel's always braggin' and well….” He laughed out loud now, doing a pretty good imitation of something very rude…!

“Johnny! Enough!”  Scott yelled his face flushing a little as he glanced around the room in case Maria or Teresa was around. And then he relaxed, remembering everyone was out. He shook his head and gave into a smile, secretly happy Johnny was in a playful mood. He loved it when they bantered. It was happening more and more as they got to know one another and he liked it; liked the way it made him feel. He secretly wondered if Johnny felt the same way.   

“Just kiddin' with you.” Johnny smiled, a frown appearing on his forehead. Right then, he looked for all the world like a little boy about to ask for some candy and Scott covered his mouth to suppress the laughter threatening. Johnny had such a youthful face at times. ‘ Here it comes, '   he thought as he saw the wheels turning and his brother's eyes dance with mischief.  

“Scott?”

“Yes.”

“If you go and spend time with your …uh…, lady friend, what about me? What am I gonna do?” Johnny asked truly perturbed now. Murdoch had been adamant; he wasn't to set foot outside the front door, unless it was with Scott.

Scott smiled. “What about you? I don't owe you, little brother, and after the way you behaved earlier on today, I am not inclined to be nice.” He declared tweaking Johnny's nose, eliciting a grunt from him and a swipe of his hand, “I mean, why should I change my plans for you?” he teased.

“Awe c'mon Scott I'd do it for you.” Johnny suggested a hint of a smirk appearing . ‘Like Hell I would.'

Scott's eyebrows about shot through the roof, “Uh huh, of course you would.” he laughed.

“Well …,” he shrugged, “maybe not…,” Johnny admitted sheepishly with a sly grin, “but now you're my older wiser better looking brother, and you're s'posed to be an example you know. Anyway, what happened earlier was an accident Scott.” He pleaded.

“Johnny!” Scott scolded, “an accident my ass!” he yelled.

“Well you were the one that landed on yer ass …” he snickered, “and remember it weren't my idea, you join me in the pig pen, it was Pa's.” he pouted.

“Only, because he was still angry with me for not keeping an eye on you before, during and after Church, and for not keeping you out of trouble Johnny!  Honestly Johnny how do you do it? How do you turn a completely normal Sunday into complete mayhem? Tell me, what goes on in that mind of yours?”  He tapped the boy's forehead, with two fingers, now genuinely interested in what he had to say. 

“I'm inspired by my surroundings.”  Johnny grinned.

Scott nodded, “Oh, so let me get this straight, it was inspiration that made you tie that dog up with the worn out rope, was it? I don't think the Widow and the Mayor and his wife saw it as inspiration Johnny. They might have seen it as the work of the Devil, but inspiration?” he shook his head, “ Nope that's not a word that comes to mind Johnny.” He smiled .

Johnny winked, “Maybe it was Devine Inspiration,” he deduced ducking to avoid the pillow Scott had just thrown, “after all, it was .., Devine justice,” he grinned, “that I got my own back on that busy body Hargis and that puffed up idiot Higgs.” He winked at Scott.  “Sides it wasn't my fault that dog chose to chase that stray cat. Poor little shit was starvin', he'd a chased anythin' that remotely looked like a meal.” He snickered.

“Johnny you found the dog, encouraged it to follow by throwing it Maria's biscuits and some meat from my sandwich, then against Murdoch's wishes,  you found some rope, a worn out  thin rope, I may add and tied it to that tree behind the church. What were you thinking? Haven't you taken home enough strays Johnny? When are you going to stop?”

Johnny got a tad miffed, “When Hell freezes over Scott. Lancer is my home too you know. ? Anyway how was I to know that rope would snap and my damned dog would chase that teasin' cat walkin' on by with its tail up in the air. He was only doin' what came natural Scott.” He said, his chin dipping a bit.  

“Your dog?! Since when did it become your dog Johnny?”

Johnny glared hard at his elder brother. “He became my dog when I named him Scott, Jeez don't you know nuthin' yet?”

Scott laughed, “And just what, pray tell, did you call him Johnny?” he asked intrigued now.

“Amigo if you must know.” He sulked. “And after the ass chewing I got from Pa , I needed a friend, let me tell you.” He added stubbornly.

Scott smiled real affection in his eyes as he looked upon his younger sibling. “The Widow especially wasn't very happy was she?” he asked a hint of a smile playing on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes that Johnny immediately recognized.

He decided to risk it…it was a mistake…, “Happy?!! Happy?!! Jesus Fuckin' H Christ….Scott…..she….”

Scott's smile disappeared and Johnny swallowed, and risked a peep at his older brother, who was now tapping his own knees.  Johnny changed tact a bit, “Thought the old bitch was gonna lynch me Scott! Anyone woulda thought it was me doin' the trippin' and that fat ol' bastard bouncin' down them stairs, draggin' his missis with him, wasn't my fault either. I mean he coulda let her go for Christ's sake!” he snickered just a little at the picture his mind conjured up and took a chance and asked, “You gotta admit it was kinda funny them all tangled up at the bottom of them steps Scott,” he peeped up at his brother, who was doing an admiral job of stuffing his hand in his mouth to stop the laughter!

Johnny gave it up and guffawed, “‘Ol man Higgs wig fallen off, was an added bonus…I mean…, when the dog grabbed a hold of it and ran off with it, shaking it in the air,  I thought I was gonna damn near have a heart attack or somethin' My sides were sore from all the laughin' Scott!... I could hardly breath…I can't lie.”

He took in a deep breath. “Then when the Widow's legs opened wide and we got a good look at her bloomers,” he sighed, “wiped the smile right off of my face it did,” he blew out a breath and whistled, “Yep…, thought I was gonna lose that lovely breakfast Maria made!”  He glanced up at Scott who finally lost it and burst out laughing himself.

Johnny relaxed and laughed right along with him, “Everyone got a good look at them didn't they…? kinda funny when you think about it…her bein' so particular about who sees ‘em… Don't know why really they looked alright to me. Least they were clean!” he added with a wicked smile! 

Scott was doubled over now and holding onto his ribs. “Honestly Johnny….” He snorted.

“Murdoch weren't too happy about it though was he…? He got real mad huh? That man‘s got no sense of humor.., none at all!” he declared shaking his head. “I mean did you see Val? Thought he was gonna spit teeth, he was laughin' so hard.” He snickered, his eyes warming as he thought of the lawman, “Good ‘ol Val.”

Scott sobered at the mention of Murdoch. “Mad? I'd say that was an understatement Johnny.”

“Yeah, thought my ass was gonna be toasted there and then….” He whistled at his narrow escape, “Didn't expect him to just pick me up like that and throw me into the buggy! I also didn't expect him to laugh his ass off all the way home either.” He sighed.

“Seems our father has a sense of humor after all, huh Johnny?” Scott asked his face warm with affection.

“Yep, but still he couldn't just leave well alone could he? The minute we bumped under the Lancer arch, I knew I was in deep shit, so yeah you bet your life I lit out.  Then where was he when I got back; I'll tell ya he was waitin' in the damned barn. Three in the monrnin' an' the old bastard was  still there and after everythin'; the lecturin', the whupin',  he still felt the need to ground me. Hell Scott its Halloween, I ain't had a whole lot of opportunities to go to parties.” Again he looked at Scott, “C'mon Scott, I'm gonna be cooped up here all alone. Maria's gone to Elena's, Murdoch's at Aggie's, Teresa's with Molly, Jelly's gone to town to drool over that piece of skirt he's been pinin' over, please.” He begged.  “Come with me to that party, it'll be fun; everyone's gonna be there.” He added.

“Lindy?” Scott asked, teasing now.

“Yeah, she's gonna be there,” he sighed resigned now, “And it ain't no secret I like her. She's a good girl Scott, how can I get into trouble with a good girl? C'mon, you know it makes sense.” He said looking for all the world, like he'd just turned twelve.

Scott wagered, had he grown up with Johnny he would've seen that look often, and something in him snapped.  “Alright Johnny.”

“Whoo hooo!” Johnny yelled jumping up onto his feet and rubbing his hands together in glee.

“But there are going to be rules.” Scott said sternly.

Johnny stopped dancing. “Rules? What rules?”

“Yes little brother rules. 1. You will not be drinking any alcohol. 2. When the party is declared over we will take our leave, thanking our hosts and go straight home; no trying to persuade me to take you to the saloon or the bordello or…”

“Alright! Alright! I get it!”  He crossed his heart with his right hand, the other at his back, his slim fingers crossed. “I promise to be on my very best behaviour. How does that sound?” he grinned.

“Fine but I am not finished.” Scott added sternly, determined to cover every conceivable possible problem.  

Johnny rolled his eyes. “Jeez Scott were gonna be here all night with you spoutin' off all these damned rules. The party'll be over ‘fore we even get there.”

Scott glared hard at the youth,” You want to go, or not?”

Johnny raised his hands and sucked in a lungful of air, the word sorry escaping his lips before he could even stop it!

Scott smiled, ”3. No smooching Lindy, Belinda, Marlene, Margaret, Charley, Karen, Kit, Carolyn, Mary, Cheryl, Pollyanna, ….” He realized the list could be endless, so he simply said, “No smooching anyone clear!”

“Awe c'mon Scott, you don't want me to have any fun at all, do you?”

Scott pressed on, “4. No trying to kiss the girls whilst bobbing for apples.”

“Jesus Scott c'mon!” he pleaded. “I mean what's the fun in all that bobbin' if I can't get close enough with my lips to grab onto somethin'?”

“Johnny!” Scot admonished, a grin appearing.

“5. No hogging or stealing the kids candy Johnny. You know how you get on sugar!”

‘Shit!'  Scott was no fun at all!

“And Finally, 6. No plotting or planning any pranks with the twins when you get there. In fact if I see you so much as talking in a corner with them, your feet won't touch the ground little brother and we will come home, clear?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, alright, can we go now?”

Scott folded his arms across his chest, “Promise on all that matters Johnny.” Scott declared, pleased he had covered all the angles.

Johnny shot Scott his best Madrid glare and then yielded, “Alright I promise on all that's Holy. Now can we go?”

“Yes.” Scott smiled. He was humming as he followed Johnny out the back door to the barn, pleased with himself.

“Hurry up! Party'll be over ‘fore we get there Scott,” Johnny yelled walking backwards towards the barn.

And that's when it happened.

Cip had left an old copper bathtub filled to the brim with white wash, just outside the barn. He had covered it over with a tarp, holding it down with some rocks and had considered it safe enough to leave overnight till morning. However he hadn't reckoned on Johnny. 

Johnny toppled ass over elbow falling headlong into it; his body disappearing momentarily. 

Scott's mouth dropped opened as he watched his brother back towards the bath and he screamed, his anxiety clear, but his warning too late.  “Johnny look out!”

Famous last words!

He winced as he heard the resounding thud as Johnny's head connected with the rim of the tub; his hands rising up through the milky water to immediately rub the tender bit of flesh on his head.  Johnny groaned, a bump the size of an egg appearing at the back of his head.  He wriggled and the bath tipped over, spilling its contents all over the yard…the white wash looking iridescent in the full moonlight; Johnny looking almost ghost like as he got to his feet and wobbled on legs that didn't seem to want to work. Now dazed he wondered around, arms outstretched mummy like, as if he were a drunk, a very white washed drunk!

Scott rolled his eyes, “Good grief we haven't even got out of the yard yet!” he groaned covering his eyes for a moment with one hand and careful spreading his fingers to get another look see.  His concern increased however, when he realized Johnny was tripping and stumbling his hands well out to the side now and slightly raised, as if he were trying to gain his balance; a losing battle.

“Frank!” Scott yelled running to his white washed brother's side! He stopped just short of him however, not quite wanting to get too close, for fear of getting covered in the mix himself “Johnny are you alright?” he asked, real concern in his voice.

Johnny raised a single digit, indicating he was anything but alright. He had a very sore head, he was whoozy and couldn't keep his balance and he knew he was in trouble, again!

Scott ignored him, and moved towards him, his intention to try to steady him, as he took control of the situation.  

~*~L~*~

Now it just happened that Jelly was making his way home. He had gone to see a lady friend in town and had, had a very pleasant evening with the woman. She had lavished him with good food, even better whiskey and lots of cake after their very private dinner together and all was well with Jelly's world.

Now with a full stomach and slightly inebriated, he was at the vantage point looking down at his new home; the moon bathing the house and yard in its silver like glow.  Johnny had brought him here to this haven and he was grateful to the boy. The man hadn't felt a sense of family for a long time, but thanks to Johnny who had a heart of pure gold and a penchant for bringing home strays, human or indeed animal, that had all changed, and now he was considered a member of the family.

He was on his faithful mule and he grinned patting the animal. Then suddenly frowning he saw something that immediately alarmed him; something that filled him both with terror and dread. A naturally superstitious man, he believed what he was seeing and knew without a shadow of doubt, he was seeing a ghost at Lancer and on all Hallo's eve too….

”Scott! Scott!” he yelled kicking his animal into a full out run when he spied the young man approach the apparition.  Ever protective of his Grandson, as he saw it…, he came barrelling down the hill…shouting and waving his arms, ”Get thee behind me Beelzebub…” he yelled, “GET THEE BEHIND meeee  you Devil of the night!”  

Scott looked up puzzled, just in time to see Jelly come barrelling under the Lancer arch, screaming at the top of his lungs, something about a ghost…of all things! “Jelly for God's sake, shut up, you'll wake the dead.” Scott yelled snapping at the much older man; a smile threatening at the irony of what he had just said. ‘Wake the dead…'  he snickered.

“But, but ….look, look….” Jelly jumped from his faithful mule, who was now bucking and rearing as he tore off in the opposite direction, making a Hell of a racket!   

Jelly, panting now, took one look at Johnny and…, promptly fainted!

Scott threw up his arms…“Oh for goodness sake!” he snarled rolling his eyes up to the heavens, and watching as Johnny fell over for the umpteenth time! “Johnny come over here…” he finally said, taking the bull by the horn and lifting his brother up and over his shoulder. He then marched into the house with him, barking out orders as he went.

He spied Maria and Elena at Cipriano's door, “Maria can you please run a bath for Johnny?”

Maria nodded and hustled to do his bidding.

Then Cipriano's son appeared in the doorway, “Mateo, can you ride into town for Sam?”

Cipriano, Mateo's father, and Johnny's Uncle was now a little concerned. “Juanito, he is alright, si?”

Johnny now hanging limply over his brother's shoulder, was laughing, drunkenly.

“Yes, but he's got a large bump on his head Cip, and I just want to make sure he's alright.”

Cipriano nodded. “Si, and Senor Jelly?”

Scott thought about that for a moment and then said, “You'd better bring him into the house as well.” He shook his head. “Darn fool!” 

~*~L~*~

The upshot of it was, Johnny didn't get to go to the party but spent the next five days indoors with concussion being fussed, poked and prodded over by Murdoch, Scott, Maria, Teresa, and the Doc…

 Jelly? Well he shamefully hid from everyone, feeling a might silly!

…. And Scott?  Well, what with doing all of his brother chores, as well as his own, it was going to be very a long time before he saw Rachel Fairchild again!  It seemed as if he couldn't ever win! Happy Halloween indeed!

 

~ end ~

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