The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Suzanne

 

 

Beware The Dare
for National Dare Day

Johnny walked through the barn doors and into the evening twilight. Scott walked by his side. Neither appeared to be in any hurry to get to the big house.

“So, which one of us is going to tell Murdoch?” said Scott.

Johnny spat the stampede strings of his hat out of his mouth. “Not me, brother. Uh uh. No way.”

“One of us has to.”

“I vote you. You’re the one with all the fancy, hifalutin talk.”

“That’s just the problem.”

“It is?” Johnny’s eyebrows jumped up.

“Johnny, it has to sound sincere.”

“Well, seeing as how it’s all your fault in the first place, you shouldn’t have any problem sounding sincere.”

“I merely suggested…”

“Suggested? Sounded more like a dare to me.”

“Not in so many words.”

“You said, ‘I wonder how fast that new mare of Murdoch’s is.’ And I said, ‘You mean the one he’s been sprucing up all week to sell to Aggie Conway when she comes over tonight for dinner?’ And you said, ‘I dare you to find out.’”

Scott squinted into the distance. “I’m not totally convinced I used the word ‘dare.’”

“That final buck when you hit the ground must’ve done something to your head.”

Scott rubbed his behind. “It wasn’t my head I landed on.”

Johnny gave a low whistle. “All the same, you did some pretty riding up until then. That mare sure can run.”

“Yeah, it was a pity no-one told us about her aversion to porcupines.”

Johnny slapped his thigh and grinned. “Did you ever see anything like it? She raced like the hounds of hell were after her.”

“Until she started bucking.”

Johnny started to grin again but sobered when he saw the look on Scott’s face. “I just hope that leg of hers heals fast.”

Scott looked towards the house. “We have to face it, Johnny. That leg won’t be healed in time for Murdoch to show her off to Aggie tonight.”

Johnny winced. “You think Murdoch’s gonna be awful sore?”

“Let’s just be thankful murder is a hanging offence. That might quell his desire for revenge.”

The wagon rumbling into the yard with Jelly at the reins stopped them both in their tracks. “I thought you boys’d be getting ready for supper. Aggie oughta be here soon. I can’t wait to see her face when she gets a peek at that pretty little mare.”

Johnny rubbed the back of his neck. “About that mare…” The sudden pressure of Scott’s hand on his shoulder made him stop and half turn but Scott was already walking up to the wagon.

“How’d it go in town, Jelly?”

Jelly set the brake then clamoured down. “What do you mean ‘how’d it go’?”

Scott peered into the back of the wagon filled with sacks of flour and corn and other produce. “I’ve gotta hand it to you, Jelly, you certainly know how to sweet talk Burmeister, doesn’t he Johnny. Doesn’t he Johnny.”

The blank expression on Johnny’s face shifted of a sudden. “He sure does.” But he mouthed “What are you up to?” when Jelly looked away.

“The last time Murdoch sent me into town for supplies I only got half of what I was supposed to. Burmeister tried to charge me triple the going price,” Scott said.

Jelly went to the back of the wagon and let down the side. “Well I ain’t about to let a little yelling and cussing bother me none.”

Johnny did a half circuit around Jelly, considering him with an impressed look on his face. “Jelly, you’re a brave man. Ain’t he Scott.”

“He sure is.”

“Who-eee, you wouldn’t see me facing down Old Burmeister like that.”

“Me neither.”

Jelly puffed out his chest. “Well, you just got to know how to talk to a man, is all.”

Scott leaned an elbow on the side of the wagon. “You know what, Johnny, I bet there isn’t a man in the whole valley that Jelly couldn’t cajole with that silver tongue of his.”

Johnny nodded. “One thing’s for sure;  he’s got Murdoch wrapped around his little finger.”

“Aw, Murdoch don’t scare me none. You boys just need to learn how to handle him. Course you don’t have my experience when it comes to sweet talking.”

Scott put an arm on Jelly’s shoulder and started walking him towards the house. “Jelly, I bet you could even tell Murdoch you took his best horse out for a ride and brought him back lame and Murdoch wouldn’t even turn a hair.”

“Well, that’d be easy. I’d just…” Jelly stopped short and looked at them both. “Now why in blazes would I want to tell Murdoch that?”

“Well, you just said you could,” Johnny jumped in.

“I know I just said I could, what I asked is why would I want to?”

“What does it matter? You just said you’d do it.”

“I did no such thing.”

“I heard, you, Jelly. Scott dared you and you said you’d do it.”

Jelly started to splutter then he peered first at Scott, then Johnny. “Okay, so what trouble have you two got yourselves into now?”

Scott took his hat off and spun it on his finger. He looked at Johnny. “You going to tell him?”

“It was your idea.”

Scott glowered but turned to Jelly. “I wanted to see how fast that mare of Murdoch’s was, so I raced her against Barranca.”

Jelly interrupted four times but by the time the story was finished he was grinning from ear to ear.  “Ooh, yup, Murdoch’s gonna be awful sore with you two. He’s had me grooming her all week. Just this morning he was crowing over how much Miss Aggie would pay for her and the look on her face when he told her about…”

“Don’t tell me—what that mare thinks of porcupines.” Johnny sounded glum.

Scott put an arm around Jelly’s shoulders again.“ But seeing as you’re so clever with words…”

“Oh no, no siree.” Jelly ducked away from his hold. “This is one mess you’re gonna have to get yourselves out of and you’d better do it quick because unless I’m mistaken that looks like a buggy coming down the road and I’ve gotta get this wagon unloaded.”

Johnny whacked Scott in the belly with the back of his hand. “Come on. Let’s get going, brother.”

Scott sighed but he started walking beside Johnny. “Johnny, the next time I dare you to do something, just shoot me.”

Johnny stood still for a second and eyed him thoughtfully. “Is that a dare?”

 

 

~end~
2018

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