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Margaret Schmitz Compton

 

 

Coming Home

First in the Coming Home series. This story is an Alternative Reality, so if you are not into these kind of stories that's OK. I used to not read them until I read some.
Here Johnny is younger (still a teen though 17 ), Maria is alive. Johnny hadn't lived with his dad for years, Scott has been with his dad for years and is 22.    
Some of the story line will sound impossible, this meaning Johnny being hurt. Still I wrote it this way as showing his strength.
I am giving credit to the people of the original Lancer TV show for allowing us to have good memories. I am not making money as this is just enjoyment on my part.      

I had no beta so all mistakes are mine. Hope you enjoy this story.

 

Chapter 1

Looking over the final hill, noticing the vast buildings, set around the Hacienda, he couldn't believe it's his father’s home. As a thought came to him 'why mama you never told me about my father'.

Hurting as bad as he was, he was starring in amazement, at where he should have grown up. 'Why now mama when I am hurting so bad and may die. Why now mama.' was his thoughts.

He spoke to his horse “Let’s go Diego” as he moved down toward his father’s home and under the Lancer Arch.

Sitting upon his beautiful red roan stallion as he watched a couple of vaqueros come over to him.

“May I help you?” A large vaquero asked.

Looking tired and about to pass out, he looked at the man and fell off his horse.

When the men went to him, they lifted him slowly, all he could say is”My mama told me to go home to my father.” Then he passed out.


Murdoch and Scott were discussing the day’s work, when they heard the commotion outside.

“Scott you go have breakfast and I'll go see what's going on.” Murdoch told his son.

“All right sir. I hope everything is alright over there.” Scott replied and went in the house, towards the kitchen.

Murdoch walked out as Cipriano and a couple of other men were starting to lift someone off the ground. “What’s going on here?” he asked.

“Patrone! This boy just road in. He has a bullet in his back. We are moving him to the guard house as we know he is a pistolero.” Cipriano said.

Murdoch then questioned Cipriano. “How do you know he's a pistolero?”

“Several of us know him, senior as Johnny Madrid. Around the border he is well known to most of us.” Cipriano answered.

Murdoch looked down at the boy and said, “Cipriano I want you to send for Doc. Jenkins, right away.”

“I already sent Jose, as soon as the boy fell.” Cipriano replied.

Murdoch bent down to get a look at the boys back and said, “It looks like someone really wants him dead. Do you know why he came here?” He asked.

“Yes senior, he did speak after he fell off his horse. He said that his mama told him to go home to his father. Then he passed out.” Walt said.

Murdoch reached down then spoke to the three men, “Let’s turn him over, so we can move him to the guard house.”

They turn Johnny over and Murdoch gasp for breath.

“What’s wrong senior, are you alright?” Cipriano asked.

“Oh! My God! It's Johnny!” Murdoch said.

Cipriano replied, “Yes I know Patrone. We told you he is Johnny Madrid.”

“No Cip, you don't understand.” Murdoch lifted one of Johnny's eyelids and said, “He has blue eyes the same color of my boy's. He is Johnny Lancer. No wonder I could never find him. Lift him now and take him into the house. We'll take him to his own room. Walt, will you tell Maria to get things ready. I know she knows what Sam will need to help Johnny. I see Sam is coming under the arch right now.”

They lifted Johnny up and followed Murdoch into the house. Murdoch yelled, “Scott hurry upstairs, It's your brother Johnny we have here and he's been shot.”

Scott looked at Maria and they both had a look of shock.

Walt walked in and said, “Maria Dr. Jenkins is almost here and Murdoch wants you to get everything ready and take it to Johnny's room.”

“Si. Walt, I will be quick.” She touched Scott on the arm and said, “You must hurry Scott, to your brother.”

Scott took the back stairs, two at a time. He ran into Teresa and she said, “Scott! What's the big hurry? You almost knocked me down.”

“I don't have time to explain Teresa. They just carried my brother to his room. He's been shot.” Scott said.

“Oh! My God! You mean you found Johnny.” Teresa said excitedly.

Scott replied, “No Teresa, Johnny had come home to us.” As he moved around Teresa and ran up the stairs.

Teresa saw Maria and said, “Maria did you hear? It's Johnny. What's going on?”

Maria answered, “I do not know Teresa but he is hurt. Sam just rode under the arch. Will you bring him to Johnny's room?” As she prepared the things Sam needed.

“Yes, Yes.” Teresa said as she headed to the front door.

Dr. Jenkins was just knocking when she reached it.

“Teresa, I hear I have a patient upstairs,” he said.

“Oh! Yes Sam. I haven't seen him yet. They just brought him in. Sam it's Johnny.” Teresa cried.

Sam looked stunned and said to her, “Then my dear show me the way.”      

She led him upstairs to Johnny's room.

“Alright Murdoch, can you tell me how you know that this unconscious boy is Johnny?” Sam asked.

“Look at his face? He looks just like his mother. He has the same features as Maria. I also lifted one eyelid and he has those dark, unusually beautiful blue eyes that Johnny had. Another thing Sam, he told Cip before he passed out, that his mother told him to go home to his father.” Murdoch replied.

“Well I see, Jose told me the boy’s been shot in the back?” Sam questioned Murdoch.

“Yes Sam. We were just getting ready to take off his shirt.” Murdoch said.

“I want all of you to leave the room except Maria. I will be down as soon as I am finished with the boy.” Sam demanded.

“But Sam I want to stay.” Murdoch tried to demand.

“I will not begin caring for the boy, until you are all out of the room. Murdoch! You know this is how I work.” Sam stated a little frustrated.

Murdoch humbles down and said, “OK Sam, just let me know what's up as soon as you're done.”

“I will Murdoch. I will do my best for the boy. You know that.” Sam said.

Murdoch, Scott and Teresa went down to the big room to wait.

“Pa! How do you know he is really Johnny? If he's been unconscious the whole time? I mean I really hope he is. We won't have to be searching anymore for him.” Scott questioned Murdoch.

Murdoch had a puzzling look on his face, when he answered Scott. “I am sure he's Johnny. Cip said he made the statement that his mama told him to go home to his father. What puzzles me son is why he didn't go by the name of Johnny Lancer. Why he used Madrid instead.” Murdoch asked himself as well as making the statement.

Scott with a stunned look on his face asked Murdoch, “What do you mean Madrid? There's a gunfighter named Johnny Madrid. Are you telling me that Johnny Madrid is my brother?”

“Yes, I am son. I also believe he wanted to come home. He did say that his mother told him to go home to his father. I believe we will find out more when he comes too.” Murdoch replied.

“I hope so sir. I would like to find out that my brother has come home.” Scott said.

They all sat down to wait.




Chapter 2


“It's been over three hours and I am tired of waiting. It shouldn't take this long to take a bullet out.” Murdoch said in a frustrated voice.

“I'm inclined to agree with you sir. I hope there is no more problems, that we didn't notice. Like a fever or maybe he lost to much blood.” Scott said.

Teresa brought coffee from the kitchen and said, “I believe Sam is just finishing up. Maria has brought bloody and dirty rags down. She's taking clean water back up.”

“That does sound hopeful. Maybe just a few more minutes, sir.” Scott said.

Murdoch answered. “Yes son I am hopeful it's over.”

Twenty minutes later, Sam came down the stairs. 

“I sure could use a drink Murdoch, before I tell you all that I have found.” Sam said.

Scott stood up and said “I'll get us all a drink, sir.

“Yes Thank You son.” Murdoch replied.

Sam sat down and looked at a questioning Murdoch and Scott. “I don't know, what has happened to this young man, Murdoch. He's not out of the woods yet. The bullets were only part of his problems.”

“What do you mean part of the problems? And what do you mean bullets?” Murdoch asked.

“Murdoch I know you are in a hurry to get to his room, but I have to tell you all that I have found. First, he had two bullets in him. One was in his left shoulder. That was older than the one in his back. I don't understand how this boy is still alive. If he is Johnny, you and Scott need to stay by him. You did say, that Cipriano and Walt said that Johnny told you that his mother told him to go home to his father, right Murdoch?” Sam asked.

“Yes Sam, that's what I was told by them.” Murdoch answered.

Sam shook his head. With a sad look at Murdoch, Sam said.” I'm sorry Murdoch. To tell you all that I have found on the boy. He's been whipped on his back and two stripes on his lower chest.”

Murdoch and Scott both said at the same time. “OH! My God!”

“Let me finish Murdoch.” Sam said, then he continued. He also has bruising all over his arms, legs , stomach and chest. Murdoch that boy has been severely beaten and abused. I have never seen anybody beaten so bad. If he survives, I will truly say it is a miracle. Him just making it home in that shape, is a miracle in its self. That boy should have died days ago. He must have a strong will to live.”

Murdoch rubbed his face and said, “Thank you Sam, I pray God will pull him through. For him to come this this far, is so amazing to me. Can we go up and see him now.”

“Yes, also Talk to him. Let him know he's safe. He has to know someone is there for him. That boy looks like, he's fought in many battles for most of his young life. My God! Murdoch, I'm wondering what had finely brought him home.” Sam said.

“Scott and I will take care of him. I just pray, he talks and tells us what happened, when he wakes up. I too am wondering why it took him so long to come home.

So Many questions we have for my son. I haven't seen him for 15 years. His mother took him when he was 2. Such a shame she didn't send him home. Let's go and see your brother Scott.” Murdoch said.

They went upstairs to see a long stolen son and brother.




It took two and a half days before Johnny started to wake up. He opened his eyes. Murdoch stared, with a big smile on his face.  He smiled even bigger when he saw his son’s blue eyes.

“Good morning son. Would you like a bit of water?” Murdoch asked. Johnny shook his head yes, as his mouth was too dry to speak.

Murdoch looked at Scott and said, “Scott will you send one of the hands to tell Sam that Johnny has finally ( Murdoch smiled again ) woke up.” 

Then Murdoch gave Johnny a little water.

Johnny looked at Murdoch and asked, “How long.”

Murdoch knew what he meant and answered, “Two and a half days son. We will talk later, when you feel better.”

Scott came in with Sam and said, “Sir, look who's been sneaking up our stairs. I told him that my long lost brother is awake.”

Johnny looked real strange at Scott and asked “Brother?”

“Yes Johnny. This is Scott, he's your older brother, from my first wife Catherine. You probably don't remember him, as you were two when your mother left with you.” Murdoch said.

Johnny answered, “I don't remember. I didn't even know I had a father.”

“Well brother you have a brother now. And this brother is happy you're home.” Scott said.

Johnny looked up to Murdoch and said, “You may not want me here, when you find out, the problems I bring.”

Murdoch cut him off. “Son we can discuss this later. You need your rest now.”

“No! You don't understand. They're after me. He doesn't care if he crosses the border. Everyone here is in danger. Mama said to come home to my father. She said you would help me. I need a place to heal, but he wasn't that far behind me. Two days are too long. I need to leave before they get here.” Johnny lifted himself up, as Murdoch gently pushed him down.

“Son calm down. Who is after you and how many?” Murdoch asked.

“They're pretending to be Rurales, There's about a dozen of them. The leader is my stepfather. He found out what I do for a living.  He wanted me to help him rob and kill. I sided with a village, he went to rob. We lost the battle and he still tried to get me to help him. I said no again, and he said I would pay for my disobeying him.” Johnny was sad.

Murdoch cut in and asked, “Is he the one who has been beating you?”

“Yes he had been whipping me for years. I left home at twelve, so I wouldn't have to deal with him any longer. He found me at mama's a few weeks ago. That's when he asked me to join him again. When I said no, he put me in his youth prison camp. I escaped. He has always hated me. I don't want anyone hurt but mama said you would help me.” Johnny answered.

“Well brother you bet, We will help. I will get guards around the Hacienda sir.” Scott said.

“Yes Scott also send someone to Green River to get Val. Then send someone to the north range and bring 12 vaqueros in, they will be coming from the back of the property, encase the place is being watched. Then son bring Cipriano, Frank and Walt in. We can all figure out how to best handle this.” Murdoch said.

Sam stood up and said, “Well now that we have answers and you two have things to do, I would like to examine my patient. You both do know, it is by myself. I will let you know how he's doing.” Sam said.

“Yes, Yes. Johnny we'll be right back and son, it’s good to have you back home. You are safe here.” Murdoch said.




Chapter 3

“Senor Carlos! We found him. He is at ranch called Lancer. The owner is very important. He is said to have many vaqueros. Only one man would speak to me. He was drunk and I pay for this information.” Ramone said.

Carlos asked, “This information was from which town, Ramone.”

“It is from Green River. The man said that a vaquero came for the sheriff. He said that a boy was hurt and the doctor was called. The man said the boy’s name was not mentioned. He did say that the boy was shot in the back.” Ramone said.

“Thank You Ramone. I do believe Johnny, is the boy who is there. I need you to ride to the Lancer ranch and tell them that your masters son is believed to be there. Tell them that your master is worried for his son’s welfare and wishes, to have him taken to the hotel in Morro Coyo. That his son will be well cared for from his own father. Tell Mr. Lancer that I wish to have my son brought to me immediately.” Was Carlos’s reply.

Ramone answered. “Yes Carlos. I will do this. I will also take Juan with me.”

“Good idea Ramone. Hurry back with your answer.” A direct order from Carlos.”

“Si senor I will hurry.” Ramones replied.




Three days after Val was summoned, he rode into Lancer ranch. He spoke to Cipriano. “Cip I hear that someone has been shot and that Murdoch sent for me.”

“Si senor sheriff. It is the padrones’ youngest boy. He has come home for help. Speak to Mr. Lancer and he will tell you what has happened, to his son.” Cipriano replied.

Val then said “Thank you Cip.”

Val went to the door and knocked.

Teresa answered.” Oh! Val you made it. You’re just three days late. What took you so long?”

“Well Teresa, I figured if the boy is shot, he won’t be leaving right away. I heard from Cipriano, that the boy is Murdoch’s missing boy.” Val said.

“Oh! Val That isn’t all but I’ll have Murdoch tell you. Come upstairs with me.” Teresa pointed to the stairs, as Val followed.

“Murdoch. Val’s here.” As Teresa opened the bedroom door.

“Val good to see you. I’m sorry but Johnny is asleep, right now. I will tell you what’s happening , then you can talk to him when he’s awake.” Murdoch said to Val.

“Oh! No! Murdoch. I’m waking this little rascal up right now. He’s never told me his daddy’s name. I would have sent for him, a year ago when I got here. If’n I’d known you was his daddy.” Val smiled.

Johnny answered Val,” My mama never told me, who my daddy was, until she realized Carlos Rodriquez was out to get me. And Val It’s good to see you too, OLD pal.”

“Well buddy. I know now why you’re here. I also know Carlos is a big problem. Murdoch this man is meaner than anyone I have ever seen. Only Johnny’s mama can mouth off to him and he submits like a puppy being punished. If he ever knew what she does when he’s gone. I think he wouldn’t be so nice to her. Oh, sorry Murdoch, I forgot she was your wife. Why she married Carlos is beyond me.” Val made as a statement.

“Val, mama married the man for his money. She is spoiled. Why she gave this place up just amazes me. But then again, this place means work, and mama doesn’t like to work.” Johnny said.

“Well son I am glad. You see I never divorced your mother. I know I could have gotten her on abandonment. Also when she left with that gambler I could have gotten her for adultery. She would have gone to jail, as adultery back then was against the Mexican laws. I could not find either one of you. Now I know why. She changed her name. I guess she knew if I found her, I would have brought you home. I would have never pressed charges, unless she tried to take you again.” Murdoch was more or less just speaking his thoughts out loud.

“Well, Murdoch, Johnny’s mama never cared for Johnny. Unless no other men were around.”  Val said.

“Yea. She always sent me to the shack, at the other side of the village. Carlos never knew that she kept it. She used it for her other men. It’s our money on the side she would tell me.” Johnny said.

“Yea! Johnny, that other side business she—” Val didn’t get a chance to finish as Johnny cut him off.

“That’s enough Val. Murdoch doesn’t need to know anything else. He just needs to know, mama sent me here.” Johnny angrily said.

Murdoch put his hand on Johnny’s arm and asked, “Johnny did your mother ever tell you about me? I mean, You’re only 17. Why didn’t you come home, instead of running away from your home away from her?”

“Like I said before pa, she never said anything about you. The way we were treated by the town people, I assumed she never married before Carlos. I mean I thought I was illegitimate. She never showed she cared that much about me, until the day she told me where to find you.” Johnny sadly said.

Val stepped in and changed the subject “Well I think we’ll have to set plans on what we should do when Carlos shows up.”

Just then Scott came in,” Murdoch, There’s two men who want to speak to you. They didn’t say why, just that its only you they want to talk too. Hi! Val I guess you met my little brother.”

“Yea! Little brother. Johnny ain’t been a boy sense he was six. Now he’s a little brother. Funny ain’t it buddy. You thought your mama was all you had. Now you have a daddy, brother and adopted sister. Ain’t it funny how things turned out.” Val said.

Scott spoke then, “I take it Val, you and Johnny know each other.”

“Yea, Scott, you could say so. For a while I was his daddy until Carlos came around. Sorry Murdoch. I didn’t know you at the time.” Val replied.

“That’s ok Val, Let’s go see what these two men want.” Murdoch said.

They all headed on down the stairs.




Chapter 4

“Hello! I’m Murdoch Lancer, may I help you?” Murdoch spoke knowingly.

“Si, Senor. My name is Ramone and this is Juan. Our master has sent us. He heard his son is here. We’ve been following him, since he was shot. His father is very worried.” Ramone said.

Murdoch cut him off. “How so? We had someone ride in that was shot. If your master is worried, why didn’t he come himself?”

“He is at the hotel in Morro Coyo, senor. He asks that you send his son to town, so he can care for him, himself. He is very worried.” Ramone said.

Val walked up to Murdoch and said, “I have an idea Murdoch. Invite Johnny’s step dad here, so we have the advantage to take this man.”

“Good idea val.” Murdoch answered.

“I want you to ask Johnny Madrid’s father to come here. He can help us care for the boy, since he is a pistolero we have him in the guard house. He is comfortable but the doctor said he shouldn’t be moved. It seems the boy is very private, as he really seems to not want to tell us what happened. Anyway he is taking up our time and his father is welcome to help.” Murdoch told Ramone.

“Senor. Our master may not like this but I will tell him.” Ramone said. Then turned and rode away.

“I sure hope this works Val. I think we should bring all the men in and wait.” Murdoch said.
Val answered Murdoch with a surety, “You’re right about bringing the men in. If I recall, Carlos have faithful men. They will stand by him to the death. I also know that Carlos’s men had noticed the guards.”

Murdoch spoke, “Scott, will you go tell Cip, so he knows what we are planning. This way we can have all of the men brought in and hidden, before Carlos and his men come. I’ll go and tell Johnny what’s going on.”

“Yes sir. I’ll be back as soon as possible.” Scott said.

Val looked at Murdoch and said, “Murdoch, I think I’m going to stay hidden as I know that Carlos knows who I am. I don’t want him to think something is up, before we get a chance to get to him.”

Murdoch answered,” Good idea Val. Why don’t you stay with Johnny as I know he can’t defend himself very well?”

“Thanks Murdoch, Think I will. But to let you know, I bet Johnny is up and ready to fight. He has an insight and I bet he knows when Carlos and his men will come. He will move, if we like it or not. I’ve seen, how he works even when he is hurt. Maybe I can at least keep him in the house.” Val said.




In town Ramone looked at Juan and said,” I think Carlos will not like this. Did you see the guards? I think they know what’s going on.” They went into the hotel.

Carlos questioned Ramone, “Well Ramone! When is this Lancer sending Johnny here? I have the room all welcoming for him.”

“Carlos. I don’t think you will like what I have to say.” Ramone said.

Carlos angrily told Ramone, “Get on with it Ramone, don’t anger me by hesitating.”

Ramone replied, “Mr. Lancer said you are welcome to go to the ranch and help care for Johnny Madrid. He said he’s in the guardhouse. He said that he knows your son is a pistolero. He said he could use your help caring for him, because Johnny is taking up his time. He said that the doctor doesn’t want Madrid moved, because he is hurt too bad.”

Carlos looked puzzled and said, “Why would this man trust strangers to care for a pistolero?”

“That’s the strange part. The Lancer ranch is like a fortress and there are at least 4 guards, one of them in the tower that has a bell. There are three other vaqueros and Lancers son. Another thing also, there is a sheriff there. Mr. Lancer does not seem like a fool.” Ramone said.

“I guess we will ride tonight and pay this man a visit. Will you go to the camp and have the men ready to leave at sundown! I think they will have plenty time to surround the place without being seen after dark. I want you and Juan to come with me so this Mr. Lancer won’t think something is wrong. We will demand that Mr. Lancer gives me my son.” Carlos said.

Carlos made another statement to Ramone as he saddled up to leave. “That boy will regret the day he ran from me. He will learn to obey his daddy. He is under age and I will bring a sheriff with me. We will see who has the power over that boy.”

“Se and if it doesn’t work, we will have the place surrounded to take over. It will be a good fight.” Ramone said.

Ramone and Juan rode out to tell the men what was planned.
      
Carlos walked to the sheriff’s office. “Hello Sheriff. I am Carlos Rodriquez. I have come here to ask you for some help.” Carlos said.

“Hello, Mr. Rodriquez, I am John Starnes. How can I help you?

“Someone shot my son in the back. They were chasing him. My son doesn’t know that I killed the men who were after him. He is at the Lancer ranch and Mr. Lancer won’t let me bring him to the hotel, where I know he will be safe. He says I can help care for my son there, but I want him with me in the privacy of my own room, here in town. My son is only 17 so I don’t think Mr. Lancer has a say in this matter. Will you help me get my son?” Carlos asked.

The sheriff replied ,”You are in luck Mr. Rodriquez. Judge Simmons is in town. I will get him to fill out the paperwork. He will probably ride out with us, as he is friends with Murdoch Lancer. He will give you the extra leverage you will need.”

Carlos then said, “Thank You! sheriff. I will be ready in about three hours. Do you know where a doctor can be found. I will want him to sedate my son for the trip to town.”

“Well Sam Jenkins is the best doctor around. He works out of Green River, but we won’t have time to get him. I know because he’s at the Hannah’s. Her son broke a leg. I guess you should get Dr. Joseph even though he doesn’t like Murdoch Lancer.” The sheriff said.

“Where can I find this Dr. Joseph, sheriff?” Carlos asked.

“He’s at the east end of town. It is a two story house. His sign will be posted at the gate. You can’t miss it.” The sheriff said.

“Thank You! sheriff.” Carlos said, as he walked away.

Carlos went to the doctor’s office and spoke to the man.”Dr. Joseph, the sheriff has sent me to you. We are going out to the Lancer ranch, to pick up my son Johnny. Mr. Lancer won’t let me take him. So I am having the sheriff and Judge Simmons come with me to get my son. I was wondering if you would sedate my son for his ride to the hotel here in town. I know Dr. Jenkins is caring for him, but me being his father, I would like you to take over his care. You see my son was shot in the back and I think he should be with his father instead of a total stranger. My son is only 17, so no matter what Lancer thinks he has no say.”

“Yes I will come with you. I will like seeing Murdoch Lancer get what’s coming to him. I will take good care of your son. What is his name?” The doctor asked feeling excited deep inside.
 
“Johnny, Johnny Madrid.” Carlos answered.

The doctor smiled and said, “Oh! This is a good one. The high and mighty Murdoch Lancer is housing a well-known gunfighter. I can’t wait to see this scenario play out. When are we leaving?”
“In about an hour and a half.” Carlos replied.

“I will be ready. I’ll meet you at the sheriff’s office. I should have my buggy ready by then.” Doctor Joseph said.
 
“Thank You Dr. Joseph. We will be waiting.” Carlos turned and left.




“Mr. Lancer! All of the men are at their post. We will be waiting. Peter Just rode back from Morro Coyo and said a man was talking to the sheriff and then he went to Judge Simmons house. After then he went to Dr. Josephs house. Do you think this is the man after your son?” Frank asked.

“Yes Frank, it does sound that way. At least we are ready. Why don’t you take your spot, in front of the bunkhouse. That way, when this Carlos arrives it will look like we aren’t expecting anything to happen.” Murdoch said.

At the Lancer Ranch they wait.





Chapter 5


Murdoch went into Johnny’s room to tell Johnny the plan they came up with. “Johnny I know that you want to help. I want you to stay in here, with Val, when they come on the property.

“Murdoch you don’t understand. This man will shoot you without a warning.” Johnny yelled painfully.

“Son I will not be alone. We have at least over 40 men. Now I know you are worried, but from what I hear, this Carlos has Sheriff Starnes and Judge Simmons with him. If he thinks the Sheriff and Judge will side with him, after we talk, he has another surprise coming. As for Dr. Joseph, he’s probably coming thinking I will have my pride lowered. But the laugh will be on him. Son this doctor is a butcher and he needs to be the one brought down.

Val stepped in and said, “Buddy, we can wait down in the big room. You don’t mind do you Murdoch?”

“That may be ok, if I OK it.” Sam said as he walked in. “What are you doing dressed, Johnny? I never said you could get dressed or out of bed.” Sam questioned Johnny.

“Sam it’s me they are after. I just can’t sit still and let other people get hurt, because of me. I need to be there with Murdoch. If anything happens, It’ll be my fault. I will give myself to Carlos, to prevent anyone from being killed.” Johnny said.

“Son I have everything covered.” Murdoch started to say until Johnny cut him off.

“Murdoch you don’t understand, he’ll have men ready to attack, when he gets here. He doesn’t care if he kills a Judge or a sheriff. He wants only me. One thing that makes him happy is taring into me. He doesn’t want me dead, he wants me to obey him. I would rather die than to live by the things he wants me to do. I need to hear what’s going on. I will help if necessary. Please understand.” Johnny said.

“Ok son. I know Val and Sam will be with you. It’s almost dark so we need to be ready.” Murdoch said.

They all went down to the big living room and wait.




Carlos’s men tried to sneak in after dark. One by one they are picked off. Only two were killed and two weren’t found. These two men didn’t know about the others. They’re just waiting, for Carlos to arrive.

An hour later; Carlos, Sheriff Starnes, Judge Simmons and Dr. Joseph ride up toward the house. Ramone and Juan are behind them.

“Mr. Lancer! Please come out.” Carlos yelled.

“Yes I am Murdoch Lancer. May I help you?” Murdoch asked.

“I am Carlos Rodriquez. I have come to claim my son Johnny Madrid. I have the Sheriff of Morro Coyo and Judge Simmons with me. I request you turn him over now or you will pay deeply.” Carlos said.

“Sheriff Starnes and Judge Simmons. I am glad you came. The only problem with Mr. Rodriquez is that his claim over Johnny is a lie. John, Frank; Johnny is my son. His mother told him to come home. He never even knew about me until Carlos here beat him, whipped him and put two bullets in him. Maria knew he needed me, so she finally turned honest for once toward Johnny. I want this man arrested for abuse and attempted murder towards my 17-year-old son Johnny Lancer.” Murdoch said in a loud firm voice.

Carlos grabbed the Judge and yelled for his men. Two men started shooting but was cut down right away. Murdoch’s men all step out. Ramone and Juan raised their hands up, as 4 of Murdoch’s men had guns on them.

Val stepped behind Carlos and said, “Surprise Rodriquez guess who?”

Rodriquez turned around and said, “Figures, another daddy of Johnny’s, would show up. I should of killed you when I had the chance. Now it’s you who’s going to do me in.”

Val answered “No Rodriquez, I’m a going to let you hang.”

Rodriquez dropped the gun and told Val, “If you think I’ll make it to court, I have more men around the border. I will get free. Don’t think this is over. Johnny belongs to me. I married his mama.”

“If you think so. I think Johnny here has other ideas about his real daddy and not you.” Val had a wicked smile.

Johnny walked up to Carlos and said,” This is the last time you will ever hurt me. I will see you hang and mama will be free. You will never hurt me again.” Johnny walked away.

Carlos answered Johnny with a threat,” When I get free, it will be your parents; I will take to get to you my boy. You will obey. I have jobs you will do. You’ll see, this is only half of my men. I will be back.”

Johnny smiled and replied to Carlos, “In your wildest dreams. I will be your worst nightmare. I will practice and you will pay, if you get away. Though I know you won’t get away. I will see you hang as shooting you is too good for you. Your evil has been your end.”

Johnny turned and walked back into the house. Val and John Starnes took Carlos, Ramone and Juan to the guard house. They join the other 8 of Carlos’s men.

Murdoch, Val and the others captured a total of 11 men with four of Carlos’s men killed. which had ended this day of violence.



“Come on son. Let’s get you up to your room. Scott will you get us all shot glasses and bring them up to Johnny’s room. I’ve got whiskey up there already. The Judge is coming up too. We have to explain everything to him.” Murdoch said.

They went upstairs and Murdoch helped Johnny into his bed and smiled, “There you go son. Don’t worry about talking to Judge Simmons. He has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years. Just tell him what you told us. And son he can be trusted not to say things you don’t want repeated. I trust him, I hope you will too.”

“Murdoch, thanks for everything. How you even knew I was your son amazes me. I don’t know what happened between mama and you. Maybe someday I will.” Johnny said.

Murdoch answered, “Son I would tell you if I knew. You were barely two when she just left. I was away on a business trip to Stockton and when I returned, she was gone. All I could do was set down and cry. I kept saying to myself, Maria why. If she didn’t want me, I would have let her go. I would have kept you until I knew she was settled and could care for you. She knew how I felt about you. How I loved you. Maybe she was jealous of you and Scott. Scott was the first person you would ask for in the morning and the last person you wanted to see at night. I understood your love for your brother, maybe your mother didn’t. I just don’t know. I had the Pinks searching for you for years you both just vanished. I figured maybe she changed you name to hide you. I still wished I knew.”

Val walked in while Murdoch was speaking. “It wouldn’t matter Murdoch, Johnny’s mama hated anyone who paid attention to Johnny. I only stayed with her a couple of months, because, all we ever fought about was her treatment of Johnny. She kept chasing him off. He told me that when she had a man, he was to leave or suffer the consequences. She didn’t want to take any time for him. I grabbed her one time by the arm, when she was taking a big stick and whooping him.  Johnny always had more deep bruises on him than any one I ever did see. His mama and her men just didn’t care. The boy never had a chance until he ran away at 12. I had seen him once when he was 15. We worked together in this range war down in Arizona. He was the fastest gun I’d ever seen. I asked him what happened. He told me that he had grown up at 12 the day he left his mama. The boy has been on the move sense, until now. Hey Johnny can you tell me why you went to see your Mama? I know you said you never wanted to see her again.”

Johnny answered Val, “She sent me a message saying she’s in big trouble because of Carlos. She said she wanted me to come and take her to her aunts in Mexico City. I believed her, so I went. When I got there, she was all alone. A few minutes later the place was surrounded by Carlos and his men. Carlos came in and walked up to mama. She said to him, ‘here he is, my husband’, I told you he would come’. The rest I told you all, except the Judge here.”

Johnny then told the Judge what happened. Murdoch told the Judge what Sam had found.

Johnny looking sad said, “I’m tired, let’s call it a night. I want to go to sleep.”

They all left Johnny’s room saying good night.




Chapter 6

Carlos called to sheriff Starnes. “Hey Sheriff. I need you to send a telegram to my wife in Conchos.”

“Ok Rodriquez, what do you want me to put in it?” the sheriff asked.

“Maria found son with father. Come to Morro Coyo with family. Carlos.” Carlos wrote on a piece of paper the Sheriff gave him.

The sheriff replied. “I’ll send this right away.”

The sheriff walked out and went to the telegraph office he then sent the telegram.

Maria received the telegram. She thought that by the word family meant his other men.
She packed everything up and left the town of Conchos and headed for El Paso. She talked to an old man there then she then headed to California. She went to the town of Otay Mesa. She went to an Aunt that Carlos didn’t even knows existed.

She told her Aunt that she has left her man because he tried to kill Johnny.  Her Aunt took her in and told her to go see Johnny.

Maria packed up again and headed to Morro Coyo.

Maria stepped off the stage and went to the hotel. She then booked a room under Maria Lancer. She decided that she should rest for the night, after taking a warm bath.

When she woke up the next day she headed over to the sheriff’s office. “Hello, sheriff. I am Maria Rodriquez and I have come to see my husband.”

The sheriff answered, “Hello Mrs. Rodriquez, I am sheriff Starnes. I guess Carlos is expecting you. You are in luck the trial doesn’t start until Monday.”

“I see sheriff. My husband doesn’t know but I plan to be a witness for my son Johnny. When I realized what he did to my son, I will no longer be his so-called wife.” Maria said.

“Alright mam, please follow me.” The sheriff lead her to Carlos’s cell.

“Carlos, you have a visitor. She can only stay for 15 minutes.” The sheriff said.

“Ah! My Maria, I see you came.” Carlos said.

“Si Carlos. I came but for Johnny not you.”

Carlos asks, “What do you mean, Maria. You are my wife and I ask only, that you bring my men. Do you know where they are hiding. Please send Andros in to see me.”

Maria looked angrily at Carlos and stated,” You! I consider no longer my husband. I have come here to see my son. I never told anyone where you are, and I won’t ever.”

“What do you mean, by turning against your husband. Maria do you know they will hang me. They have already hung my other men. This Judge is very angry, with me. I do need Andros. Now send him a telegram my wife!” Carlos demanded.

Angrily, Maria made a firm statement, “Carlos after I saw, what you did to my son, I knew you wanted to break him, but to shoot him twice? How could you be so cruel, to beat and whip him too. Your mistake Carlos, is you almost did kill my son. I may not have cared in the past but when I saw his broken body, I sent him to California, to his father. I told him that Lancer will take care of him. Carlos, I knew when you crossed Murdoch’s path you would lose. No, I will not help you live. As for my son Johnny, I will help you hang.” Maria turned and left with a self-assurance Carlos had never seen in her.

She walked over to the telegraph office.

“May I help you mam?” the operator asked.
Maria answered, “Yes I would like you to send a message to the Lancer Ranch. Requesting a meeting with Murdoch and Johnny. Either at the ranch or here, at the hotel. Sign it Maria, please.”

“Yes, mam I will send it right away.” The operator said. He took the message right away to Murdoch.



Murdoch was standing outside, talking to Val when the message came.

“Thank You Josh.” Murdoch said and then he read the message.

“Tell her I will have my son Scott pick her up. First, I have to make sure it’s alright with Johnny. Excuse me for a minute, I’ll be right back.” Murdoch told Josh.

“Who is Johnny, Val?” Josh asked.

“He’s Murdoch’s youngest son. He came home a few days ago. Val answered.

Josh replied, “I am glad to hear this. I know Murdoch has been looking for him for a long time.”

Murdoch walked into Johnny’s room. “How are you feeling son?” Murdoch asked.

“I am just fine pa. Why won’t Sam let me go down stairs? I am not hurting that bad anymore. I hate being stuck in this bed. I really hate being stuck in this room.” Johnny pouted.

“How would you feel if your mother visits you. She’s in Morro Coyo and sent a message. I’ll leave it up to you.” Murdoch asked.

“Why is she here. I hope she didn’t bring any of Carlos’s men. He has lots more you know.” Johnny looked a little worried.

“She requested for both of us son. I can go to town if you don’t want to see her.” Murdoch said.

“It’s ok Murdoch. She did send me here. That must have meant something. I mean I never knew I had a father. I never even knew she was married before Carlos. Yes, Murdoch, I will see her. I just hope she comes alone.” Johnny replied.

Murdoch said to Johnny, “Alright son I’ll send Scott to get her.” Murdoch left the room.

Murdoch sent a message back to Maria, stating that Scott will pick her up in a couple of hours.

“Are you sure about this Murdoch. Maria never cared if anyone beat, or hurt Johnny in any other way. She only cared for herself. I myself don’t trust her.” Val said.

“Val, like Johnny said. She did tell him to come here. He said she never mentioned about his true father before the day she sent him home. I’m curious, why she wants to see both of us. Are you going to stay for the reunion Val?” Murdoch asked.

“No, I think I’ll head out. Tell Johnny I’ll see him tomorrow.” Val replied.

“OK! Val, see you tomorrow.” Murdoch said. Then he called out to a hand and said, “Luke will you go out to the South range and ask Scott to come home?”

One hour later Scott rode in, and questioned? “What’s up Pa. Luke said you wanted to see me!”

“Yes son. Johnny’s mother is in Morro Coyo. She has requested to see Johnny and myself. I want you to go and bring her here. She is staying at the hotel in town.” Murdoch said.

Scott questioned Murdoch, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? I mean, after all Johnny’s been through he doesn’t need any more hurt.”

“Scott, Johnny said to let her come. He said it’s only because she told him to come here. He hopes she has changed. He wants to know what she wants. I am curious to know myself.” Murdoch said.

“Alright sir. I’ll get Maria. I just hope nothing else happens to Johnny.” Scott replied

Scott hooked up the surrey and rode off to Morro Coyo.




Chapter 7

“Hi! Joe. Is there a lady here named Maria Rodriquez? I have come to take her to the ranch.” Scott requested.

“No Scott. There’s a Maria Lancer here.” Joe answered.

“Then that’s her, I didn’t realize she went back to her married name.  She is the one I want then.” Scott stated.

“Her room number is 3 Scott. She just stays in her room. She’s been here sense yesterday. Signed Madrid then changed it to Lancer. I thought that was strange.” Joe said.

“Well she is a Lancer. Thanks Joe.” Scott waved as he headed for the stairs.

Joe replied, “Anytime Scott.”

Scott knocked on the door.

Maria opened it. “May I help you senior?” She asked.

“Yes, I am Scott Lancer. I have come to take you out to the ranch.” Scott said.

Maria smiled. Which made Scott smile back, thinking how much her smile was like Johnny’s.
“Oh! Scott! You are such a handsome young man now. I am so pleased to see you. You were so young when I left.” Maria laid her had on his cheek.

Scott unhappily replied, “Yes Maria. I remember you. I also remember the heartache, we all felt the day you took off with Johnny. Though, that was years ago, and I am glad that you finally sent Johnny home. It did save his life.”

“Yes Scott, I am such a foolish woman. But can we have this talk at the ranch. I would only like to give my reasons just once.” Maria said.

“Alright Maria. I have the surrey right out front here. Are you ready?” Scott asked
.
“Yes, I have been ready, since I received your father’s reply.” Maria stated.

They got into the surrey and headed out to the ranch.

Scott pulled the surrey up to the main doors and helped Maria down, as Murdoch and Teresa went out the door, to meet them.

“Welcome Maria. I would like you to meet my ward Teresa. If you, please come inside where it is cooler. Teresa has made refreshments. She knows what a hot ride is like. Everything is set up in the main room. Maria do you remember my house keeper Maria?” Murdoch asked.

“Yes Murdoch, I remember Maria. She has always been kind to me. I also remember you are a good cook, Maria. I am so pleased to see you are still here. Nice to meet you Teresa. Murdoch how is Johnny?” Maria asked.

“He almost died. I call it a miracle that he didn’t. I was so mad at the damage done to Johnny. I can see that he has a strong will to live.” Sam said as he walked in. “Hello Maria, how are you?” He asked.

Maria spoke up, sadly, “Sam I am glad you are here. I will only have to tell my story once. I must tell everyone when I see Johnny. When can I see him, Murdoch?”

“He is resting. I would give him at least an hour. He is in a lot of pain, I can tell. I can also tell; he’s doing his best to hide it. Every time I change his bandages, he goes to sleep. Let him rest and he will be more relaxed.” Sam said.

“Ok, Sam. Thank You.” Maria replied.



An hour passed and they all went up to Johnny’s room. Sam peeked in and said, “Hello Johnny are you up to a visit with your family, your mother included?”

“Yes Sam, I guess the sooner the better.” Johnny sadly smiled.

They all went into Johnny’s room. Maria walked up to Johnny and gave him a kiss on his cheek.” My son I am so sorry. When I realized, how bad Carlos hurt you, I decided you must go to your father. I will never let Carlos hurt you again.”

Johnny cut her off and said, “How many of his men did you bring, mama. I mean, will Murdoch have to do more battles. I will kill Carlos in his cell, even if it means I will hang. Mama, I can’t take anymore of him. As a matter of fact mother, I was wondering why you are here.”

“Johnny! My son I did not bring anyone with me. Will you listen to what I have to say? Just give me a few minutes. Please?” Maria asked.

Johnny shook his head yes and moved to get more comfortable. “Go ahead mama, let’s hear what you have to say.”

“Johnny, you know how I like to drink and please Carlos, when he was around.” Johnny shook his head with a frustrated look. Maria continued, “When he told me he wanted to hire you I was happy that you would have a good job and not be a pistolero anymore.”

Johnny smiled and said, “Mama! Did you ever think he was pretending to be a rurale, all the while he was a Comanchero? That he stole and killed people for a living?” Johnny was being very smug when he spewed his anger at her.

She looked at him upset, then said, “No my son. I did not know what he did. To tell the truth Johnny I didn’t care. He took good care of me. I was well provided for. You knew this. He gave you good schooling just be caused I asked. He gave me whatever I wanted. I never realized how cruel he was. Johnny, I haven’t had a drink since I saw how hurt you were the day I told you to go to your father. Seeing you when he took you to his boy’s camp, I cried. I know how badly the boys were treated there.” Johnny Phffed real loud while she continued, “Johnny, I’m so sorry, I only thought of myself for years. I never wanted you hurt, but I accepted how Carlos disciplined you. I myself, at times was cruel to you. When I saw how bad he hurt you, Johnny I had to send you to your father. I knew he would protect you with his life. Johnny please forgive me. I was so jealous of your dad and Scott; of the way you would go to them. Murdoch, I’m so sorry I left with that gambler. When Roy Randoft, looked at me, I just saw an escape. It was always about me. Until the day you were so hurt, Johnny. I packed everything and moved to Otay Mesa, here in California. I have an aunt there. Johnny! I have been sober for two months. I have thought things out. I’m sorry for how your life turned out Johnny, I’m so very sorry.”

Johnny laughed and said,” Yea! Mama, like you said every time someone beat me. Then you’d let it happen again and again and so forth. Except for Val and he had to stop you from hurting me more than once. Oh, by the way mama, Val is here, he’s one of the witnesses against Carlos. There’ll be two sheriffs, a judge and two doctors. As well as Murdoch, Scott and some vaqueros on this ranch. Mama it looks like Carlos lost this time.”

Maria smile,” That is why I am here Johnny. The first person I saw was Carlos.”

“Murdoch cuts her off, “Maria, how could you?”

Maria replied quickly, “Murdoch let me finish. I went to tell Carlos, that I am going to be a witness for Johnny, not for him. I also told him that I didn’t contact his men. I told Andros that Carlos had a job in Mexico City and he wanted to see him there. I also have, old man Sanchez to be there incase another wire is sent. Sanchez will destroy it. Hopefully they will never know. This is the best I can do Johnny.”

Johnny looked at Maria, then smiled, “I hope so mama.  I am glad that you have stopped drinking. Most of all mama, I have my father, brother and adopted sister. I just wished you would have told me about my Father and brother. I would have come home at 12 instead of living off the streets.  A home mama. You robbed me of security and a family. I just hope you never go back to drinking. Because if Carlos’s men ever find us, they will come for revenge.”

“I know Johnny I know.” Maria cried.

Sam stepped in, “Alright everyone, I think it’s time for Johnny to rest.  I’ll be down in a couple of minutes.”

They all went to the great room.

“Johnny, how are you feeling about what your mother had to say?” Sam asked. “I’m not trying to be nosy. I just want to make sure you’re not upset. I don’t want any setbacks.”

“I’m OK, Sam. I’m not use to her, not drinking. I am hoping she really did quit. I don’t think Carlos ever knew about my father. I know mama is good at keeping secrets. You know Sam mama led a double life. She lived in Carlos’s house and had one of her own at the other end of town.” He then changes the subject. “I am tired Sam but when will I be able to at least go downstairs?” Johnny’s asked with a smile that Sam could not resist.

“I’ll tell you what Johnny. I’ll talk to your pa and Scott. I don’t want your first day out of bed, to be by yourself. If one of them agree to come down with you, as well as spending the day down there. I’ll OK it if you do as I say.” Sam smiled back.

“I’ll do anything you say, as long as I can leave this room. I promise.” Johnny gave a pout that Sam thought must have gotten his way most of the time with people.

“Well then son, I’ll go and tell them. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sam left the room.

Johnny quietly said, “Thank You Sam, tomorrow. And he fell asleep.



Sam went into the living room and told Murdoch and Scott about Johnny coming down stairs. “I told him it would be OK, as long as one of you go down with him. I told him he could stay down here all day. We’ll see how he handles that. If he handles it well then, he can go outside, later. I want to prepare him for going to court on Monday, as tomorrow is Thursday.”

Murdoch, questioned Sam, “Sam, do you think he’ll be able to go to court on Monday?”

“Yes Murdoch, I do. That is why I want him to start moving around to build his strength. If he gets tired, he can nap on the couch. I am sure he knows how to handle himself, that boy has such a strong will. See you all tomorrow. I’ll make it towards Supper time Murdoch if you don’t mind.” Sam smiled.

Murdoch smiled back at Sam, “Yes Sam you may invite yourself anytime. Let me walk you to your surrey.”

Scott followed them, to see Sam off.

Murdoch looked at Maria and asked,” Maria. Where are you staying? The reason I’m asking, is would you like to stay in one of the guest rooms? Teresa has already set one up for you. I will then send Scott to get your things from the hotel. I believe you will be safer here than in town. When court starts we will all be staying at the hotel, until the trial is over.”

“Yes Murdoch, Thank You. I have forgotten how kind you really are.”

Scott went to Morro Coyo and retrieved Maria’s things.





Chapter 8

Before daybreak Johnny was dressed and setting in his chair by the window. Thinking ‘Maybe I should knock on one of those doors and see who I can wake up first. Yep, that’s what I’ll do.’ He went across the hall and knocked on the closest door. He was about to walk away when it opened.

Scott looked at him and said, “You’re up early, aren’t you little brother?” He smiled,” Come on in. I guess I’m up now.”

Johnny looked around the room and spoke, “Sorry Scott, I just had to get out of that room. Ya know, freedom from being cooped up.”

“I know what you mean Johnny. It seems Sam likes it if we suffer longer than we should. Have a seat while I get ready.” Scott said.”

They went down the back stairs, toward the kitchen. Just as Maria was walking in. She then asked Johnny, “Juanito, why are you out of your room?”

“It’s ok Maria, Sam said he can come down during the day if Murdoch or I come down with him. Isn’t that right little brother?” Scott said.

“Yea, Maria, Sam has decided to set me free.” Johnny smiled.

Maria moved to the sink,” Good, I will make breakfast Johnny. Please sit. Café first.”

Johnny answered, “Thank you Maria, I’m looking forward to setting at a table, instead of eating in my room.”

“Good Juanito, I will start fattening you up today.” Maria patted him on his cheek.
She put the coffee on and grabbed a couple of skillets.

Murdoch came down and he stared at Johnny, “You just couldn’t wait until I got up, could you, son? I go to your room, to help you and find you gone. I suppose Scott, couldn’t wait to help you either.”

“No! Pa, I found him knocking on my door. Said he picked the closest door. I guess you lucked out. Maybe you should have put him in the guest room, instead of his own bedroom. That way he would have been closer to you. But then again, I think he wanted the kitchen, and my door was closer to the food.” Scott smiled at Johnny.

Maria came in with coffee,” Ah, Patrone, I will have breakfast in just a few minutes.”

“Thank You Maria. I guess sense we are all up, we must be hungry. Right boys?” Murdoch smiled.

“Yes sir!” Scott and Johnny said at the same time, then burst out laughing.

“Lord! Look what I have to wake up to now, probably every morning.” Murdoch said laughingly.

Johnny’s mother Maria just walked in, “I guess you all are finding out that when Johnny wakes up in the mornings that he can get into trouble. He is such a joker; I guess it looks like Scott is to. Does this mean double trouble? Good morning everybody.” She then smiled and kissed Johnny on the cheek.

They all tell Maria, “Good Morning.” At the same time.

Murdoch stood up and pulled out a chair, next to Johnny, “Here Maria, have a seat. Maria is almost finished with breakfast. Would you like some coffee?

“Thank you, Murdoch, for being so kind to me, even though I don’t deserve it. Johnny, you must know that your father was always good to me. I just couldn’t take ranch life. I’m so sorry, I never told you about your father and Scott.”

“Mama! I don’t want to hear, your excuses. I just want to get to know my father and brother. I would like to leave most of my past behind. Especially Carlos and his life. Even though I know some of my past won’t ever go away.” Johnny said.

Murdoch stepped in. “I think we should all drop the subject and enjoy the weekend, that’s coming up. Johnny, Sam said if you do well today, you can go outside later. Just around the main house, son, no further. There’s a flower garden your mother planted. Maybe she can tell you about it.”

“That sounds good. I just wish I could go outside today but I promised Sam I would do what he says. You know my legs aren’t broken and my back is doing just fine.” Johnny frowned.

“Son we’ll see what Sam has to say when he comes. You know he used you as an excuse to invite himself to supper tonight. I believe he’ll be in a good mood as Maria is making his favorite food which is chicken and dumplings.” Murdoch said.

“You know Murdoch our son is not any good at taking orders. He is so headstrong most of the time. Other than that, he’s a good boy.” Maria smiled.

“Right mama, I always listened to you. It was the others I wouldn’t listen to. I don’t want to talk anymore.” Johnny said as Maria walked in with breakfast.



Johnny maneuvered through the day well.

When Sam came in, he examined Johnny and said, “Well my boy how did today go for you? I do see that you are a quick healer. How is it going with your family?”

Johnny answered, “Sam it’s so strange to know I have a father. Even stranger to have a brother. I just don’t understand why mama never told me about them.”

Sam looked hard at Johnny, “You know Johnny your Father has had people looking for you for years. He’s paid out plenty, to the Pinkertons. When he would travel close to the border, he would search for you himself. He has been deeply hurt by your mother. He wanted you back home so bad, he never gave up. Johnny, your dad had to fight Scott’s Grandfather, to get Scott back. He had let Scott go on a vacation to see Harlan Garrett. When the time for Scott to come home, Garrett said no. Murdoch finally won. Scott was only 11. Murdoch would never let Scott go back until he was old enough to decide for himself. Scott said he remembered that year and never wants to go back. Johnny, Lancer is home to Scott, I hope it will be home to you. Your father is an honest and good man. He can be trusted if you ever want to talk to him. The same with Scott. Just remember you truly have family and they will never turn on you. You know I see the difference in your father sense you came home. It’s like he now has total peace.”

Johnny responded to Sam’s words, “I am glad to know this, Sam. I don’t understand what it’s like to trust a family. Ever sense I came here I feel accepted. It’s like I never was taken away. Murdoch and Scott don’t know anything about me, still they show no shame that I am a pistolero.” Johnny changed the subject. “Sam, can I go outside sense you said I’m a fast healer. I don’t like being cooped up. I just need to be outside, to me this is almost total freedom. Total freedom will be when I can ride my horse.” He then gave Sam, his most endearing smile.

Sam replied, “Johnny how can I say no to that smile of yours. When you were a baby, that smile got to everyone who knew you. Yes, you can go outside. Why don’t you visit your horse first then your mother’s garden? I’ll tell your father, maybe he or Scott will venture out with you. But and I mean But, no riding your horse for another week. Let’s go down and let everyone know that you can go outside. I know Murdoch is dying to show you the ranch. Let’s go.”

They head downstairs.

Murdoch saw the smile on Johnny’s face and he smiled back. “Well son it looks like Sam has given you the ok to go outside. This is good news.”

Sam smiled at Murdoch’s big smile, “My goodness Murdoch, how can you tell. When I saw Johnny’s smile I just couldn’t resist it. I had to trust him, to know, when he has done too much. No horse riding for another week though. Thank You for supper and thank Maria for making my favorite.

I’m heading back to Green River. I have to let Val know that Johnny has been let loose, sort of. I’m getting tired of him harassing me about Johnny. Now he can come see for himself. Val seems to think Johnny is a not so nice patient. There must be a story behind that. Is there Johnny?”

Johnny smiled, “Could be Sam but I’m not telling.”

 I’ll see you in town Sunday. I don’t believe I have to come out when I know you’ll be in town. Good evening.” Sam said his goodbyes then, he left.

Murdoch walked up to Johnny, “Well son how’s it feel, to be able to go outside?”

“I don’t know, Murdoch, how about you and Scott show me this evening. Then I’ll let you know.” Johnny said.

“Alright son. Scott, should we show Johnny where his horse is in the corral. I have a feeling that’s the first place he wants to go. Right Johnny?” Murdoch asked.

They headed outside to show Johnny around.




Chapter 9

The next morning, right after breakfast, Murdoch spoke to Johnny. “Son I want you to go with me to give the morning orders. I want them to meet you, as my son. I want them to give you the same respect they give Scott. I know this is new to you, but you have to learn to give orders. This is our land and if we take care of our workers hopefully our help will take care of us, whenever we need it.”

“OK Murdoch, Will I be working with them, when Sam says it’s OK to work?” Johnny asked.

Murdoch put his arm around his shoulder .”Yes son. We all pull our share of work here on the ranch. It will be hard work, but it will be worthwhile work. They all know who you are and if some don't like the idea of working with you, then they will have the option to leave. You will be given the same respect as Myself, Scott and even Teresa. I want our helpers all of them to know my youngest son has come home and how very happy I am with you.” Murdoch then put his arms around both of his sons and said, “Well boys let's go out and give out today's orders.

They went out the door.

Murdoch started out saying, “Good morning gentlemen. I would like you all to meet my youngest son Johnny.” With a big smile on his face he kept talking, “He has finally come home. I wish it was under better circumstances but at least he is home. I know some of you have heard of him as being Johnny Madrid but his name is Lancer. So, when you speak to or about him please use Johnny Lancer. Do you have any questions?”

“Yes Mr. Lancer.” A man by the name of Lucky Johnson, spoke up. My brother and I want our pay. We will be leaving now as I don't like Madrid.”

“Alright Lucky. I hate to lose good men but it's your choice.” Murdoch said.

Johnny stepped up and said. “Murdoch, you're in luck that Lucky and Art are leaving. I wonder! Are you missing any cattle? If you aren't now, it would only be a matter of time. They are wanted down in New Mexico, with a big reward I do believe. You see Murdoch, rustling is their real line of work. Hey! I'll do you both a favor and let Val know. You remember Val Crawford, don't ya. Oh! Yea! I forgot, he busted you both and you lost lots of money. You must have seen him here? You know the SHERIFF of Green River!” Johnny gives them a sarcastic smile.

Murdoch said, “Thank You son. Lucky, I don't want to see you or your brother on Lancer Land. Scott, will you go and get them their pay.”

“Yes Sir,” Scott replied.

Lucky gave Johnny a mean look and said to him, “Johnny boy, I hear your step daddy is in jail. Maybe he can use our help. We'll let you know what he says. But then again, he doesn't like us either. Maybe we can change his mind.”

Scott came back with the money and gave it to Lucky and Art, then said, “I think you both better leave right now, before we find you both room in our guard house.”

Lucky and his brother left.

“Murdoch, I think you better get a hold of Val before those two pay Carlos a visit. If he tells them how to send for his men, then we'll have a problem.” Johnny said.

“Alright son. I'll send a message with Walt and Cip when they go to town. I’ll also send a message to by Charlie to tell Sheriff Starnes. They'll be leaving in just a few minutes.

Maria came out and looked at Johnny and asked Murdoch, “Murdoch do you think it's a good idea, to have Johnny out around the men while he is still so weak?”

“Mama, I can take care of myself and they have to know, I'm pa's son.” Johnny snapped at Maria then went in the house.

“Murdoch, I just don't understand that boy. I told him I stopped drinking, still he acts like I don't care.” Maria sadly said while Murdoch walked her in the door.

“OK, mama you did help me out this time. I am hoping I'll be able to trust you from now on. For now, I will learn and listen to my father and brother. I don't need your advice.” Johnny said rudely.

Murdoch looked at Johnny, “Well son, I need to get some work done. I want you to be careful. We don't need a setback with you. As you know court is in three days.” Murdoch went to his desk.

“I'll be ready for court, Murdoch. I want to see Carlos hang.” Johnny said.

Maria then went up to Murdoch with a request, “Murdoch, I need to speak with you. It's alright if Johnny is here. This is very important.”

“Of course, Maria, please have a seat, you too Johnny.” Murdoch replied.

Maria spoke up, “Murdoch, I don't want you to think wrong of me. What I need to say, is the truth. I will never ask you for anything, I pray you trust me on this. Murdoch, I never divorced you. Did you divorce me?” She waited for his reply.

Murdoch then questioned her, “Why bring this up now Maria? After you let us know you married Carlos. No, I never divorced you. I knew I could on grounds of abandonment and adultery. I didn't, for the sake of our son. I figured if you wanted a divorce, you would let me know. I guess this is a mess you put yourself in. You know there's a law against having two husbands, it's called bigamy. What were you thinking?”

Johnny butted in, “Another lie coming forth, huh mama! How's it feels to be going to trial with both husbands there?”

Maria looked sad as she said,” Murdoch, I will not seek any rights that a wife has of her husband’s possessions. I just want to tell you that Carlos will let the courts know that I can't testify against him on the grounds that I am his wife. What Carlos doesn't know Murdoch is that I never really married him. Well I did but I went to the priest and told him I was still married to you. The priest then took the proper steps to have our marriage annulled. I knew how to do this because I did the same with the man I ran off with. I have all the paper work to prove this. I never told Carlos I was married. I just took this step, so he would keep me in the things I've always wanted. I don't feel guilty about it because with the church I kept my marriage, even though I still committed adultery, I stayed married encase Johnny needed to prove his birthright. I never gave up the fact that someday Johnny would live in his real home back with you. Johnny I'm so sorry I never told you, that you did have a good father. Like I said I was selfish.”

“Well I guess Maria, Carlos will find out come Monday.” Murdoch said.

“The things you do mama to get what you want. Come Monday it will be about me mama. It was me Carlos was after. You can say how Carlos and others did harm to me. Or you can say how Carlos seen to it that I had schooling. But mama, how's it going to look when you did nothing whenever Carlos did harm to me. What's it going to look like when they find out about the wrongs of his youth camp. Mama I don't want to talk anymore. Monday will be here soon enough.” Johnny left the room.

“Maria, I think Johnny's right. This case is about what Carlos has done to Johnny. If the judge calls you then so be it. Let's wait until Monday and see how it goes then.” Murdoch said.

They both left the den and went into the big room. They see a sleeping Johnny on the couch and both smiled.




The next went by quickly. Murdoch went to town and picked up a suit that Scott had made for Johnny. He then went ahead and registered three rooms. One for him alone. One for Maria and Teresa and one for Scott and Johnny.

Later that evening Murdoch spoke to Johnny, “Son I think we should all go to bed early, for an early start in the morning. After church we will be staying in town to be at court first thing Monday morning. How are you feeling about Monday?” Murdoch asked Johnny.

“I'm OK, pa, I just want this to be over with quickly.” Johnny replied.

“Same with me son. Goodnight.” Murdoch headed upstairs.

It's a quiet night in the house, still Murdoch, Maria and Johnny have a restless night.

Sunday morning, Scott came into the house, “Is everybody ready? I have the surrey out front. You're coming too aren’t you Teresa?” Scott asks.

“Yes, Scott I want to be there for Johnny also.” Teresa replied.

Johnny smiled at her, “Thanks sis!”

She smiled back at him.

They all get into the surrey and head into town for Church then to wait for Monday morning.



Monday morning.

They walk into the court room. Jarrod Barkley walked up to Murdoch. “Good morning Murdoch. I'm sorry I didn't have time to go to the ranch. I've been here since Saturday. I have talked to everyone except you and your sons. The judge has given me one hour to get your statements. There's no need to go speak about Johnny's injuries, I've received that information from the doctor. I also received information from a few of the men who work for you. Even the ones who spoke to Johnny at the time he road in. I just need the statements of what was said when Carlos's two men road in and then the day he confronted you. Johnny, I'll need a statement from you stating how you received your injuries and where.” Johnny looked strange at Jarrod. “Just give me a minute to explain. Johnny did these injuries happen in the United States or in Mexico. This could change the murder charge if Carlos's lawyer thinks so. He will hang like the rest either way it goes. I just don't want the case thrown out over a technicality. Do you understand what I am trying to say?”

Johnny replied, “Yes Mr. Barkley I understand. It' happened in Conchos, Mexico. Carlos has an illegal youth camp down there. The rurales would give him the boys they find. They would make them work or do various things, whatever pleased them. I was there before, and Carlos knew I hated the place. He was the one who made it harder on me than any of the other boys. Sometimes, he'd almost have a hundred boys. They called it free labor for the boys who obeyed, as they would be sent out to work. It was many other things if you had to stay in the compound. I could never leave. Still I had found a way to escape both times I was there. After I escaped this last time he followed me. I knew I was dying I did not want him to find me, so I kept going. It was so hard, but here I am. Yes, I was hurt down in Mexico.” Johnny said sadly.

“Thank you Johnny I know how hard this is. I do have something up my sleeve tomorrow. It will be alright.” Jarrod assured Johnny.

Jarrod then turned to Maria and asked, “Maria I need your divorce papers from Murdoch and your marriage papers from Carlos. I need these to show the courts that Murdoch was married to you at the time of Johnny's birth.”

Maria cut Jarrod off and told him of her trickery in false marriages.

Jarrod smiled and said, “This is good Maria. I don't like Carlos's lawyer. He only works for outlaws and the such. He usually wins by trickery. I think I have a few up on him. Well now that I have everything, let's go in and surprise a few people.”

They all go into the courtroom.

The first thing that happened when court started is that Judge Simmons said, “I have to step down as I am one of the witnesses for Johnny Lancer. I have Judge Wendle Harding here to preside the case.” He stepped down and sat next to Jarrod Barkley.

Carlos's lawyer spoke to Carlos first, “We have a big problem. This Judge is called a hanging Judge. I'll still do my best.”

The case started as all the information was presented to the Judge and jury.

Jarrod was first, at presenting states evidence. He even came up with Johnny's birth certificate.

When it was Carlos's lawyers turn, while speaking of how Johnny was hurt down in Mexico and the courts could not put attempted murder on the record Jarrod stepped in and said, “Your Honor. The reason I brought up Johnny's birth certificate, is proof that Johnny is an American citizen. That’s when Carlos chased him back to his homeland this made this an American case. Johnny has never lost his citizenship, and this proves that the attempted murder can be held here as also child abuse.”

Jarrod gave the Judge all the legal birth information and laws about citizenship for the records.

Jarrod brought all witnesses that were also questioned by Carlos's lawyer.

Carlos's lawyer tried to get Maria's testimony thrown out, but Jarrod proved that she was never married to Carlos.

The case was over by three and the Jury found Carlos guilty. The Judge then sentence Carlos to be hanged in two days’ time.

“I don't know why they can't hang him today. He needs to be out of my life now.” Johnny said.

Murdoch smiled,” Johnny we will be back for the hanging you will see then it will be finally over.”



Two days later they all rode into town. A half hour later Val led Carlos to the gallows. He asked Carlos if he has anything to say. Carlos said yes. “I really and still love you Maria. As for you Johnny I will someday get my revenge. My brother Julio will find you. I have sent a message to him. That is all I have to say, Crawford so hang me.”

Val covered Carlos's head, pulled the lever then the body dropped.

Johnny smiled, turned around and went back to the surrey.

Murdoch and the rest followed him as they all headed back to Lancer.





Back in Conchos a late telegram came for Andros telling him to go to Moro Coyo, California. The telegraph man a friend of Maria and her friend Sanchez took it to Sanchez.

“Here is the note Maria wants you to destroy. Andros will never know what happened to Carlos.”

They destroyed the telegram and Carlos men went their own way as their leader could not be found.




Epilogue

Two months later. Sam spoke to Johnny, “Well son you can start working. I want you to take it easy the next couple of days. I'll be back in two days to see how you are doing. Johnny I'm glad to see that you're turning your health around so quickly. I know I prolonged your freedom myself knowing you wanted to get to work sooner. I just wanted to be cautious and give you time to know your family. How is it going, with your family, Johnny?”

“Sam, I am so glad to meet them. Never knowing I had family is one reason I wanted to get to know them. Thank You for giving me the time to get to know them. I have to get used to it, but I am willing to try. I just hope, I don't disappoint them. I'm not use to having people around me, for more than a few months. I'm use to traveling and being on my own, ever since I was 12. If I am being honest with myself, It's been since I was 6 years old. Mama always chased me out or I ran from her men. To have someone to give me orders, seems strange to me. I have always been my own boss. Anyway, I am looking forward to learning. I like the way Murdoch is with Scott and I hope he'll be the same with me. Sam do you think Murdoch will have second thoughts about having me here, knowing I went by Johnny Madrid?” Johnny asked.

“Johnny” Sam said with compassion, “I know Murdoch and I know he'll be just as fare with you as he is with Scott. He has looked for you for so many years. The day you road onto the ranch, I saw the worry as well as the joy that you came home. Johnny there is no need to worry. You'll find that you are loved. Now son how about going out to the barn, saddle up and enjoy your ride to Scott on the North range.”

“Thanks Sam, I am off. I'll find Scott and see how hard he works while I watch.” Johnny went out the door.

Murdoch was puzzled as he saw Johnny running out the door, until he saw the smile of Sam's face. “Well Sam. I guess you let Johnny out to work. He was just like a blur running by me.”

“Murdoch, you are right. The way Johnny thinks of it is he was set free. I said he can ride full out now as well as going to work. I want to see how his body reacts to hard labor now.  As bad as he was hurt, I'm amazed how quick he healed in the time he's been here.” Sam said.

“Drink Sam? I know it's early, but I feel like celebrating. Like the Good Book says. My son was lost but now he's found. He's home Sam! He's alive and I'm looking forward to having him here.” Murdoch said.

Maria walked into the room and asked, “Celebrate what Murdoch?”

Sam answered her question,” I just told Johnny he can work. He left me in his room at a dead run.”

“Yes, it does sound like Johnny. As long as he can be outside he's the happiest. Murdoch, I will be leaving in two days. I will be taking the stage out of Morro Coyo. I want to thank you for allowing me to stay. I am really happy Johnny is home. He seems so happy now. His face looked so sad for so long. Thank you for accepting him.” Maria said.

“Maria, I should be mad at you. But like Johnny said, you did help him, by sending him home. You saved his life Maria, this I am grateful for. The education you provided for him does make me happy. The first few days he was here, I saw his sadness. But now he's always smiling. I pray he stays that way. I did notice he doesn't trust to easy. I'm hoping he learns to trust his family and find peace in his home. Maria! It will also do Johnny good if you do remain sober. I pray you stay safe. If there is anything you need just let us know. Again, Maria Thank You for sending Johnny home.” Murdoch hugged her.

Maria replied, “Thank You Murdoch. You don't know how good it feels to receive your and Johnny's forgiveness. This will encourage me to stay sober. I am going to work real hard at changing my life. I have my Aunt Maria, who lives in Palo Verde and she's willing to help me.”

“Maria, why don't you come back for Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays? It will be special with Johnny home. I think it might make him happy knowing that you are going to be here. Especially if you are still sober.” Murdoch asked.

Maria answered, “Si, I would like that. I will go now and help Teresa and Maria with tonight's supper. I have a surprise for Johnny.”



Johnny rode around the ranch toward late afternoon. He thought it must be close to quitting time for the ranch hands. He decides to look for Scott. He headed to the north range, where he heard Scott was working, he had seen Scott and some vaqueros ride in that direction. He rode about an hour before he saw Scott and a couple of men bringing a small herd over a bridge.

Scott saw Johnny and yelled, “Hey brother for two more days it looks like Sam's set you free.”

“Yep, to work but I rode around for a couple of hours just to feel the freedom of not being confined any longer. Sam wants to check me one more time. If I didn't know better, I think he just wanted to keep me at the house. I think he thought I couldn't handle work. I came to see if we can ride back together. I know it's almost quitting time for you.” Johnny asked.

“I'm in agreement with you brother. We'll leave now. Luke and Pete, I'm heading back with Johnny. See you back at the ranch.”

Scott and Johnny race off.




Murdoch is watching Johnny and Scott racing towards the Lancer arch. He started shaking his head and looked at Maria, “You know Maria I do believe our son is going to be a bad influence to Scott. Scott knows not to race under the arch.”

Maria looked at Murdoch excitedly,” Look Murdoch! They are walking their horses now. I guess Scott is good for Johnny.”

Scott and Johnny got off their horses and went into the barn. They cared for their horses, then race to the washroom to clean up.

Scott laughed at Johnny, “You know brother we have two washrooms. No need to race.”

Johnny answered, “You know Boston, what's the fun in that when, I know, I can beat my brother to the washroom.”

Scott grabbed Johnny around the neck and skins his knuckles over the top of his head, “You know brother you're going to find yourself loosing most of the time.”

Johnny slapped Scott in the stomach. Scott let go of Johnny as Johnny said, “Yes Scott in your wildest dreams. You can't out run a turtle.”

Johnny took off running with Scott chasing after him. They both go into the house slapping and laughing at each other.

Johnny and Scott go into the dining room and Johnny smiled real big, “Tamales mama! You haven't made them in such a long time. Years to be truthful.”

“You are welcome son. I wanted to make you something special before I leave. I will be leaving in two days. I just wanted to see you happy before I leave. It's been such a long-time sense I seen such a happy smile on your face. I missed that smile.” Maria said.

Johnny hugged her, “Thank You mama, I am happy here. I will take you to Morro Coyo myself. If it's alright with you Murdoch?” Johnny asked.

“Yes son, it's alright. I think we all will go with you, to see her off. I have also invited your mother back for Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. That is if you don't mind son?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny gave Murdoch a strange look, “This will all be new to me. Mama our first Christmas without me being chased out while you and others celebrate. I hope mama you stay sober, so you can come. Murdoch, I will look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas, even if mama's not here.”

“Si, my son. I pray I stay sober and we will have the best Christmas ever. I'm so sorry I ruined your life. I am glad that you father is in your life now, so you can see what a family is all about. Enough talking let's eat.” Maria serves Tamales.




Two days passed, and Murdoch, Scott, Johnny and Teresa take Maria to Morro Coyo. They saw her off on the stage. They then headed back to the ranch.

When they walked into the house Murdoch asked Johnny, “How do you feel son now that your mother's gone?”

“I am happy and sorry that she is gone. I just hope she stays sober. She knows I am happy here. This is the end to one part of my life and the beginning of a new one. I am happier than I have ever been, that I can remember. Thank you for taking me in and helping me. I will do my best to be a good son. I love you Pa.” Johnny said.

“We all love you too son. We will do our best to make you happy.” Murdoch then said, “Let's call it a night. We have a new start and you have a new life starting tomorrow. Goodnight son.”

“Goodnight Pa.” Johnny and Scott say at the same time.

Johnny said “Goodnight Scott and Teresa.”
Scott and Teresa say, at the same time “Goodnight Johnny.”

Johnny went to his room and said. “God Thank you for bringing me home and saving my life. Help me to be a good son and brother.”

He then crawled into bed.

Murdoch in his room said, “God Thank You for bringing Johnny home and saving his life. Help me to be the father he needs and Thank You for making my family whole.”

Murdoch then went to sleep.

Scott stood in the hall as he and Teresa heard both of their prayers and they agreed at the same time. “Thank You God for our family.

Everyone went to bed and feeling the peace, and love now that they are whole as a family with Johnny home. They thought this is how it should have always been.

 

~ end ~

To National Mule Day, Coming Home Part 2----->

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