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SandySha

 

Lasso The Moon

*Inspired by the song Lasso the Moon by Gary Morris  ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDwN0EbSHiU )

** Thanks to Terri (Doc) and Alice Marie for help with the beta.  Any mistakes still lingering in the story are mine and mine alone.

 

I know you're out there somewhere
'Cause I've held you in my dreams
And I'm waitin' for the day it all comes true
So close and yet so far away
You'll be more than just a dream someday
I'll hold you in my arms but 'till I do

I'll get by ….

‘Lasso the Moon’ by Garry Morris 

 

 

December 23rd, 1850  

Standing at the edge of the hacienda’s rose garden, gazing up at a clear night sky, Murdoch Lancer took a deep breath and smiled.  Happier than he could remember being in a long time, he wasn’t just smiling, he was grinning.

In the tall rancher’s arms, wrapped in a warm blanket, lay the smallest human being he’d ever seen or held - a new life with a future as bright as the moon and stars that shone overhead.

Murdoch uncovered his son’s tiny face, marveling at the full head of black hair.

“Look, John.” He held the baby up. “Tonight, the stars are shining just for you.”

John Ruiz Lancer had been in the world less than an hour when he was lifted from his mother’s arms with assurances of being returned shortly. 

Now, standing outside in the fresh air, Murdoch could smell the newness of his son.  He’d heard of ‘new baby smell,’ but had never experienced it.  Sniffing the boy’s head, he caught the faint scent of lavender from the baby’s first bath, and a hint of sweet milk lingering from nursing his mother’s breast. 

Holding the little one close to his chest, he touched the baby’s small fist and laughed when it grasped one of his fingers, holding it tight.

“You’re small now, young man, but you’ll grow.  Soon you’ll be as big and strong as the land that breathed life into you.”

As a single star shot across the heavens, Murdoch made a wish.  Then looking once more on the baby’s still red and wrinkled face, he leaned over and kissed the tiny forehead. 

At the warmth of his new father’s lips, Murdoch watched as the boy’s brilliant blue eyes opened wide.  It was at that moment he truly knew what it meant to be bonded to another human being.  His heart would beat forever for this child who shared his blood.  There was nothing, absolutely nothing he wouldn’t do for this precious life.

“Patron.”

Murdoch turned to see Lancer’s housekeeper standing in the doorway, smiling at him.  “Patron, el nino needs his Madre now.”

Murdoch nodded.  “In a minute, Maria.  Just another minute.”

Taking one last glimpse at the diamond-studded sky, he looked at the bundle cradled in his arms.

“Happy Birthday, Son.”

 

********

  
December 23rd, 1851

With dark hair, blue eyes and a cherub face, Johnny sat in the crook of his father’s arm, babbling in a language only he understood. 

Murdoch laughed when the baby reached out, trying to grab a star.

“They're too far away, Johnny.  Stars are for looking at and wishing on; no one can touch them.”

The baby turned his head at hearing his father’s voice.  Putting his fingers on the man’s lips, Johnny giggled when the lips closed, pretending to bite him.

Murdoch heard the faint sound of footsteps.  Turning, he saw the dark-haired woman that had stolen his heart and given him his precious baby, the smile on her young face telling him more than words.  

“Querido, there you are.  I was wondering what had become of my two hombres.”

A soft breeze lifted the hair that hung to her waist as she walked to stand next to her husband. 

“Juanito is supposed to be in bed.”

“I know, Maria, but we had to see the stars.”

Smiling, she shook her head.  “Mi esposo, the nino needs his sleep.”

“In a minute, it’s his birthday and he’ll only celebrate his first birthday once,” Murdoch responded, still peering skyward. 

Maria’s eyes followed her husband’s gaze.  The full moon had risen, throwing rays of light almost as bright as day, across the ranch. 

“It is beautiful, is it not, querido?”

His voice was nothing more than a whisper as his eyes looked to the heavens.  “Yes.”

Johnny again reached for the stars and now the moon.  His frustration grew when he couldn’t grab hold of them.  Murdoch held the baby tighter as the boy leaned out to get closer.

“I’d give it all to you, Johnny, if I could.  I’d pick them one by one from the heavens and put them in your hands and then lasso you the moon.”    Murdoch turned to look down at his wife.  “I’d give it to you both, Maria, if only I could.”

“I know you would, mi amor.”  Maria reached up on tiptoes, kissing her husband’s cheek.   “Now, the nino must go to bed.”

She held out her hands.  “Come to Mama, Juanito.”

Johnny leaned out of Murdoch’s arms toward his mother.

Murdoch watched as his small family retreated into the house.  His family.  No, his family lacked one more to be complete.  There was one son still not with them.  Determined more than ever to bring Scott home, Murdoch looked at the night sky. 

‘I want to give it all to you too, Scott.  I want you to have all that I have and more.  I want you to have the moon and stars. Next year.  Next year, Scott you’ll be with us.’

********

December 4th, 1852

Johnny didn’t want anyone to hold him.  Struggling to get out of his father’s arms, the toddler reached for the garden wall.

Murdoch lifted his son.  Standing him on top of the shortest part of the wall, he kept his hands around the boy’s waist.

A grin spread across Johnny’s face as he reached for the stars, pretending to grasp one and then pull it to his chest.  It was a game he and his Papa played, a game only for them.

“Star, Papa,” the boy said as he turned to Murdoch. Through long dark lashes, Johnny looked at his father and then held out his hand, giving the imaginary star away.

Taking the small hand in his, Murdoch laughed. “Thank you, John.” 

Murdoch clutched to his heart that which only his son could see.

Johnny turned back, reached high, and pretended to snatch another star, holding it tight in his fist.  This time, he held his hand to his own heart. 

“Now, we each have one.  I’ll keep mine always close to my heart.”

The dark head nodded and turned back to look at the night sky.

Johnny pointed a small finger at the silver orb that was cresting over the mountain top.

“Moon, Papa, moon,” Johnny squealed.

“Yes, son, I see it.  If I could, I’d lasso the moon and bring it down for you to hold.”

Johnny turned and threw himself at his father, burying his head in the hollow of his Papa’s warm neck. 

Holding the baby close to his chest, arms wrapped around the small body, Murdoch murmured,
“Te amo, Johnny.  I love you so much, little one.  You know that don’t you?  I’d do anything for you, even the impossible.”

Hearing a sound behind him, Murdoch turned to see who it was.   On seeing the wrong Maria approaching, he couldn’t hide his disappointment.  He’d hoped it would have been his Maria, but it hadn’t been for a long time now.  

“It is time, Patron.”

“I know, Maria,” Murdoch shivered as a sudden sense of dread and foreboding swept over him.  He didn’t want to let the boy out of his sight or his arms.

“Time for bed, son.”  Reluctantly handing his son to the housekeeper, he gave Johnny one last kiss.  “I promise we’ll catch the stars and lasso the moon on your birthday.”

Murdoch watched Maria disappear with the sleepy boy.  He turned back to look once more at the sky and land he loved, little knowing it would be close to two decades before he’d be able to keep his promise.

********

December 23rd, 1870

“Happy Birthday, little brother.”

Johnny turned to see Scott was walking towards him with a snifter of brandy in one hand and a glass of tequila in the other.

“Why, thank you, hermano mayor.”  (big brother)

Johnny took the offered tequila and watched Scott lift the brandy and inhale the aroma of the rich golden-brown spirit.  He took a small sip to wet his lips before rolling the balloon-shaped snifter between his hands.  As the delicate liqueur warmed, the faint scent of vanilla wafted through the air like a fine perfume. 

Scott sighed.

“Good?”

Nodding, Scott took another sip.  “Very good.  Did you like your presents?”

“Yeah, I did.  Don’t remember ever getting a birthday present before.  They were all real nice, but I like the bottle of tequila Murdoch got me most.  Goes down real smooth.  I never did ask if you liked yours.”

“What wasn’t to like?  This brandy from Murdoch, the shirt Teresa made and the braided reins from you.  I believe the best part of my birthday is celebrating yours four days later.  It’s like my party never ended.”

Overhead was a velvety black sky studded with stars that winked off and on with each blink of the eye.

“Will you look at that.”  Scott pointed to a streak of light crossing the sky.  “Make a wish.  If you make a wish on a falling star, it’ll come true.”

Johnny took a deep breath.  “Make a wish?   I’ve got everything I want.   I’ve got a home, a family who cares about me, and the old man and me aren’t nipping at each other anymore like a couple of snapping turtles. You make the wish.”

“It’s your birthday.”

“What do you say we both make a wish before the darn thing’s gone for good.”

Scott laughed.  “Deal.”

Looking up at the light that was almost at the end of its journey, the brothers closed their eyes.  They each made a wish as the star blazed over the horizon and out of sight.

“What did you wish for, Johnny?” 

“Are you sure it’ll come true if I tell you?”

“I’m sure.  Go ahead, what was your wish?

Johnny dipped his head.

“I wished it would always be like this.  You and me and Murdoch together.”

Scott laughed and Johnny’s head shot up.

“Something funny?”

“No.” Scott shook his head, “it’s just that I made the same wish.  I wished, with all my heart, it would always be like this, the three of us, together.”     

“Do you believe wishes can come true?”

Before Scott could answer, they heard a voice in the shadows. “I believe wishes can come true, especially when you wish on a shooting star.”

Turning, they saw Murdoch walking towards them.

Murdoch looked up at the night sky and then at his youngest son.

“You won’t remember it, John, but it’s been 18 years since I stood in this spot with you.”

Johnny swallowed hard.

“Scott, could I talk to your brother alone for a few minutes?”

“Of course.”  Scott nodded.  “I’m headed up to bed.  Goodnight.”

“Night, Boston.”

“Goodnight, Son.”   Murdoch reached out and took Scott’s arm as he started to pass.  “I’ll be up to see to you before I turn in.”

Scott walked away, swirling the brandy in his glass.   He didn’t go far, however, only far enough to still hear but not be seen.

Murdoch watched Johnny turn his back to him and stare up at the sky.

Hesitantly, Murdoch edged forward, and when he spoke, his voice was soft. “I never got to hold Scott when he was born.  I ached to hold him, but it wasn’t meant to be.  When you were born, I thought my heart would burst right out of my chest in the need to hold you.

“You weren’t an hour old when I took you from your Mama’s arms.  You’d been bathed and fed, and the women had fussed over you the whole time.  I picked you up against protests of both Marias and brought you out here.

“It was in this spot under a sky much like tonight that I got my first real look at you.  The sight of you took my breath away, and all I could think was that you were mine.  I’ll never forget the way you smelled, sweet and clean.  You were so tiny; I could have held you with one hand, but I didn’t dare.  You were cradled safely in my arms and when I kissed your forehead, you opened your eyes.  I felt your blue eyes looking right into my soul.”

Murdoch stepped up behind Johnny.  It had been 18 years since he’d held his son.  Taking a chance and praying not to be rejected, Murdoch slowly put his arms around the young man and pulled him back against his chest.

For a brief moment, Johnny tensed but then relaxed into him.

“There was a shooting star that night as well and I made a wish.  I wished to spend all of your birthdays with you in my arms right here in this spot.  I didn’t get my wish for a lot of years, but tonight…”  He didn’t voice the rest of his thought, ‘tonight I’ve got my wish.’

Murdoch’s voice faded as Scott lowered his head and moved into the house, not wanting to intrude another minute on the special moment between his father and brother.

“The last time we looked at the stars together was a few weeks before your second birthday.  The next morning…” Murdoch paused to swallow the lump in his throat. “The next morning, Maria was gone and you with her.”

“I don’t remember,” Johnny responded, breathing deeply.  Feeling the arms around him tighten, he closed his eyes, wishing he could remember something, anything of his earlier life at Lancer. 

Opening his eyes, he tilted his head skyward as a full moon peeked out from behind a cloud and threw light across the garden. 

Suddenly Johnny uttered the words, “Lasso the moon.”

Murdoch’s breath caught and he looked down at his son.  “What did you say?”

“It’s something I think of whenever I see a full moon.  It’s just sitting up there filling up the night sky, and all I can think about is throwing a rope around it and dragging it down to earth.” Johnny caught himself before going on.  “I know it don’t make sense, but ….”

Johnny felt his father’s chest heave.  Pulling away, he turned to look at Murdoch.  While tears weren’t falling, he could see them pooling in the older man’s eyes.

“Murdoch?”

Wiping his eyes, Murdoch smiled.  “I told you… all those years ago I’d lasso you the moon if I could.  The last time, you weren’t quite two and it was just you and me standing here pretending to catch the stars and …”

Johnny’s hand covered his father’s heart.  “You put your star here…,” he gently tapped Murdoch’s chest. “Didn’t you?”

His hand went to his own heart.  “I put mine….” Johnny’s eyes met Murdoch’s.  “I remember.  I remember grabbing the stars and giving you one.  I remember…”   

Johnny quickly turned away, not wanting his father to see the emotions the memory had stirred in him or the tears that were coming so close to falling. 

Murdoch pulled Johnny back again, holding him tight.  His cheek rested on his son’s head.

“Yes, you reached for the stars, held them in your hand and gave me one.  Then we looked at the moon together, and I told you I’d lasso it for you.   I wanted to give you and your brother so much, so very much.”

“I’m sorry.  I wish…”

“There’s no need for you to be sorry, son.”  Murdoch held Johnny tight against his chest.  “I knew you were out there, somewhere. I looked for you.  I never stopped.   In my dreams each night, I held you in my arms, and for 18 years, I never stopped looking.”

Johnny smiled, feeling peace and contentment that before tonight had been nothing more than a vague memory.  He’d had dreams too; dreams of being held by strong arms and of holding stars in his hand and throwing a lasso around the moon.  He never thought his dreams would come true, but now…

 “Thank you,” Johnny whispered.

“For what?”

Johnny took a deep breath and sighed, relishing the close contact.

“For never giving up, for finding me…for more than you’ll ever know.  But most importantly, for doing the impossible.”

Murdoch looked down at his youngest son. “The impossible?”

Johnny tilted his head up, his eyes meeting his fathers.  “Yeah, the impossible.  For lassoing me the moon.”

 

 

~end~
March 2020

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