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MaryB

 

 

Deducing Native Languages
A Tag for The High Riders

Upon entering the house, Murdoch took off his hat and hung it by the door. After doing the same with his gun belt, he continued on  to the drink cabinet. Scott followed his father’s example, even joining him at the cabinet. Johnny hung his hat on a chair, kept his gun on and went to sit on the couch.

“Drink?” Murdoch asked.

Scott smiled in memory. “Yes, thank you.” He took the glass his father held out.

“John?”

“No.” After a moment he added, “Thanks. Don’t drink much during the day.”

His brother came over and sat at the other end of the couch. “Or any other time.”

Johnny shrugged. “I drink when I want to.”

Murdoch sat down in one of the leather chairs and took a sip. He looked at Johnny with concern. “Are you alright? Maybe we should’ve waited a few more days to ride that far.”

Johnny blinked in surprise. “I’m fine.”

“Ah,” Scott said knowingly. “Once more I deduce ‘I’m fine’ actually means, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’”

Johnny glared at his brother for a moment, then spoke to Murdoch. “Estoy bien quiere decir estoy bien. Estoy un poco cansado.”

Scott paused, drink halfway to his mouth, and tried to understand what had caused Johnny to suddenly cut him out of the conversation. Murdoch looked puzzled as well.

Johnny turned to him innocently and said, “If you can talk your language, I can talk mine.”

Murdoch frowned. “If you’re tired Johnny, you could lie down until dinner.”

His youngest son stared at him in disbelief. “You’re sending me to bed?!”

“You were shot, John. You can take it easy for a while.”

“It’s Johnny.“ He got to his feet. “And I’m fine.” With that he grabbed his hat and stormed out.

Scott watched his retreating back, then looked blankly at Murdoch.

“I’m guessing he didn’t know what deduce meant.”

Scott sighed. “I see.”

Teresa came in with a tray of snacks and looked around. “Where’s Johnny?”

“It seems like we ask that a lot.” Scott put down his glass and stood. “Excuse me.”

 

 

He entered the barn and found Johnny leaning on his horse’ neck. The soft words could barely be heard. “What have I gotten myself into, amigo?”

Scott stopped, unsure of whether to intrude.

“You comin’ or leavin’, Boston?”

With that dubious invitation, he came the rest of the way in. Johnny picked up a brush and began grooming the palomino.

Scott watched him for a moment. “I wanted to understand what just happened.”

“I came out to the barn.”

“You’re angry.”

“I’m f…” Johnny paused in his brushing. “I don’t like feeling stupid.”

“That was never my intention.”

“I know.”

“Do you?”

Johnny looked at him, then sat on a haybale, still playing with the brush. “I told Murdoch I’m fine meant I’m fine and I was just a little tired.”

Scott nodded. “Deduce means to figure something out.” He joined his brother on the bale. “Johnny, you can choose to speak English or Spanish. However, I don’t have any…idea…what I might say wrong.”

Johnny looked sideways at him. “Don’t dumb it down for me. That’s even more insulting.”

Scott sighed, at a loss of what to safely say.

Johnny smiled. “Suppose every time you say one of your high and mighty words, I teach you a Spanish word?”

Scott’s face lit up. “Why, that’s brilliant, Little Brother!”

“Told ya I wasn’t stupid.”

Scott’s smile started to dim until he saw the teasing glint in Johnny’s eye. “Yes, you did. Now could you tell me why you were so vehement about resting?”

“Hermano.”

“Excuse me?”

“Air-man-oh,” Johnny pronounced it slowly. “Means brother.”

Scott thought back over his statement. “Vehement. Forcefully angry.”

“So why not say angry?”

“Because, this is the way I was taught to speak, Hermano.” Scott appreciated Johnny’s look of understanding, but it didn’t get him out of answering. “So?”

He played with the brush for a minute before answering. “I can’t tell you how many times I been hurt and took care of myself. Broken bone, bullet, knife, one arrow…Sometimes I got doctoring, sometimes I looked after myself. Now, all of a sudden, he thinks I don’t know how. I’m not letting him treat me like a two-year-old!”

Scott looked down and collected his thoughts. “I don’t have a lot of experience in family matters, either. It was typically just my grandfather and myself. But from my observations of others, families tend to watch out for each other. It’s one of the advantages of having one.”

“So how do you do that without makin people feel…” he waved his hand, searching for the word.

“Stupid?”

“Exactly.”

“Trial and error, I suppose. Just like learning one another’s native language.”

Johnny scuffed his boot in the dirt. “Don’t much like trials,” he mumbled.

Scott grimaced agreement. “And I don’t like errors. The best we can do is the best we can do.”

“So, what do I do when he acts like I don’t know anything?”

“I don’t think he means it that way.”

“That’s how it felt.”

“I understand that. But I don’t think he does. If you want him to, you’re going to have to tell him. Calmly.”

“I have to tell him I’m not a two-year-old anymore?”

“You need to let him know that’s how you feel.”

Johnny blew out his breath. “This family shit is going to be exhausting.”

Scott grinned. “You could always take a nap until dinner.”

Johnny slapped him in the stomach with the back of his hand. It was such a simple, normal, brotherly act, it almost took Scott’s breath away.

Johnny frowned at his reaction. “What?”

Scott’s smile grew warm. “I believe we are going to figure this family shit out just fine. Especially if we stick together.”

His brother grinned back at him. “He can’t take us both, huh?”

 

 

Murdoch listened outside the barn door at the sudden laughter and felt a glimmer of hope himself that this family shit just might work out after all.

 

 

~ end ~

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