This page is dedicated to short stories called ficlets by various authors who are my friends and I'm pleased to share their talented writing with you. To start it off here is a fun and heart warming short tale about Johnny's take on Fall and how he lets the kid inside of him come out. I know you will enjoy this and there's more to come.
~*~ L ~*~ L ~*~ L ~*~ L ~*~ L ~*~
Johnny paused in his labors of repairing the fences for the oncoming winter to wipe at his sweaty face with a faded orange bandana. He had long since shucked his jacket that the early morning fall chill dictated he wear. He squinted against the glare from the sun as it baked him from its apex in the sky. He knew it would soon begin its slow afternoon descent and when it did the cooler air from the mountains would slip down the slopes and tingle against his skin bidding him to don his coat once more.
Gazing towards the mountain side his eyes drank in the sight of color. For the most part it was green as there were a host of evergreens growing up there. What captured his attention were the areas painted with the colors of red, yellow, orange, tan, and brown by the trees that Scott had told him were deciduous. Johnny never thought brown could be such a vibrant color when he was living in the barren border towns where everything seemed to be a dull lifeless hue of the dark color. However, when combine with the fiery colors of fall it was a rich experience for the eye.
Deciding he would like a closer view, Johnny turned back to his chore of tightening the wire on his last section of fence. Around an hour and a half later he sighed in contentment of a job well done. He quickly gathered up his tools and returned them to his saddlebags. He slung his jacket across his bedroll and tied it down and then mounted up. Instead of heading home he turned Barranca towards the foothills of the mountains. As he approached the craggy area he could feel the cooler air flowing off the steep incline as it gently kissed his skin and stole the warmth from it, he knew he would shortly need his jacket again.
All of a sudden the wind picked up and whistled out a greeting. The strong air current caused some of the gaily hued leaves to lose their tenuous hold to the lofty treetops and they took flight fluttering about like butterflies. Some stayed aloft dancing on the singing breeze while others hurried to the ground to skip, hop and twirl like spinning tops. The bright red, yellow and orange leaves would soon blanket the ground like a patchwork quilt, providing small plants with warmth for the coming winter’s sleep.
Steering Barranca into a clump of trees Johnny listened to the crunch of the leaves under his horse’s hooves. That sound was joined by the rustle of the wind through the trees. The wafts and gusts of air currents shook the colors down. The woodland raiment of red and gold fell softly from the sky like multihued snowflakes, swift and silent.
Johnny was startled when something plopped down on his hat. When he bent his head down to remove his hat and check, an acorn rolled off. His quick reflexes had him catching the nut before it could descend to the ground. His attention was drawn up when above his head a loud agitated chatter marred the quiet refrains of the September song he had been enjoying. His eyes lighted upon a fussing squirrel, its tail swishing as it scolded him.
"I assume this belongs to you," Johnny inquired of the disturbed little tree dweller. "I’ll just throw it over here on the roots," Johnny informed the little animal as he suited actions to words.
Deciding he would enjoy the view from a different vantage point Johnny dismounted and tied Barranca off to a low hanging limb. Before setting off on foot he retrieved his jacket and slipped it on. Moving further into the forest Johnny came upon a small mountain spring and saw a doe enjoying a taste of the sweet water. As he was downwind from her and had approached stealthily she was unaware of his presence and he was able to study her for awhile. As he stood watching her the wind gusted up and caused another shower of fall foliage. Some of the leaves dropped with a barely audible plop into the water where the wind pushed them over the liquid surface like a regatta of boats with colorful sails. The gentle movement startled the deer and she turned and bounded away, no doubt for the safety of home and herd.
Realizing by the sharp crispness of the air that his nature walk had lasted longer than he thought, Johnny decided he should make tracks for home as well. Returning to Barranca he mounted and made his way down the slope and out of the trees back to the fields and pastures. His horse was feeling his oats after his short rest and was anxious to extend his legs and expend his energy. Johnny let him kick into a burst of speed, dropping low enough in the saddle that the silky mane rose to tickle his face. Their blur of movement was as swift as the leaves in the wind. The two sang their own September song with Johnny clothed in his brown leather and red shirt and Barranca in his golden coat.
September 1, 2008
Here is a little ficlet I had done about Johnny thoughts
about his life and how it had changed since he'd had
come home. I do hope you enjoy.
Who Am I
The cool night air was a welcome from the day’s hot sun. It
had steadily beaten down on the earth all day, showing no
mercy for man nor beast. It was a clear night; the stars were
shining bright in the sky as they twinkled and danced
around the heavens.
The beauty of the sky brought a smile to Johnny’s tanned
face while he nestled in the tall, cool grass and gazed up at
it. Then, like many nights before, one thought came to him
in the quiet of the night--‘Who am I?’
Madrid….he knew some hated that name…feared it even.
But, whenever danger had come along, it had brought him
confidence, maturity and protection for him and others.
But mostly it brought respect-the respect he longed for
when he was a child. He’d vowed one day, ’No one will
ever hurt me like that again.’
He loved the name ’Madrid.’ What better name for a ’half-
breed gun-hawk’ alone in this world.
‘Lancer’… another name that was powerful, trusted and
respected. His birth name; a name that had been buried deep
inside him for as long as he could remember. He had been
forbidden to use the name Johnny Lancer back then…hell
his mama had so many names, he’d lost count of who he
was suppose to be, even to what name to answer to! Mostly
it was ‘Mestizo.’
Sure, ‘Madrid’ had kept him alive but he loved and hated
that person he’d become: a hired killer….a soldier of
fortune. He hated the things he’d done; they made him sick
inside, twisting his innards into a painful knot. He’d
thought there’d be no getting away from it…only by
death…until not so long ago; the day Lancer came back
into his life. Now things had changed.
He cherished what Lancer had given him; a real home , a
family he thought he’d never have. But he’d been Madrid
for so long that it’ was hard to leave him behind. And the
transformation from Madrid to Lancer had not been an easy
one, but he was doing it. And even though he hated to
admit it, he still missed the days of being free; his own man.
But he didn’t miss the gunplay, and the death his gun had
caused. "I guess Madrid will always be a part of you." His
father once told him. And Murdoch was right; a part of him
that will surface only when it’s called on.
So lying there under the stars, still marveling at their magic,
thinking on those words, he knew who he was-he was both
Madrid and Lancer. Funny thing was, when Tallie asked,
’Who are you the most?" he didn’t even have to think twice-
the name ’Lancer’ had flowed from his lips with ease.
So tonight…while he was lying there listening to the cows
and the peaceful sounds of the night…he was Johnny
Lancer, rancher. And tomorrow too, and the next day ,and
theday after that…as they continued on their cattle drive.
Madrid will always be there for him and his family, and
withthat Johnny Lancer had never felt so secure ….so at
peace. And most of all…loved.
The young ex-gun-hawk made himself a little more
comfortable and smiled widely up at the moonlit sky, and
sighed in pure contentment.
"Penny for your thoughts brother." Scott said, stretched out
"Brother, a penny wouldn’t cover the cost of all my
thoughts." Johnny Lancer answered with a grin.
He always thought he knew what The Eyes of a Gunfighter were like.
No matter what the color: blue, brown, hazel, green. . .
The Eyes of a Gunfighter were cold. . .
Emotionless. . .
Impersonal. . .
Uncaring. . .
Void of even a trace of compassion.
At least, that’s what he thought. . . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never laughed at a joke, or smiled at the beauty of a sunset. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never winked at a pretty girl, or twinkled at the innocence of youth. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never glowed with excitement at a stand of wild horses, or filled with tears of wonderment at the birth of a foal. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never gleamed with mischief as he playfully teased a friend, or dropped with sorrow at the misfortune of another. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never fluttered with restlessness when told to “lie still,” or sighed with contentment at a warm, cozy fire. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never grew weary after a hard day’s work, or beamed with satisfaction in a job well done. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never paled at the first sign of sickness, or shyly blinked thankfulness at being cared for . . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never masked the pain as a bullet tore through him, or concealed the fear as a fever ravaged him. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never danced with pride at the words said to him by a brother, or closed with hurt at the words said to him by a father. . .
He thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never grew frustrated as he tried so damn hard, or narrowed with anger as he wondered ‘why bother’. . .
And he thought The Eyes of a Gunfighter never expressed. . .
And Murdoch Lancer was right. . .he knew that the minute he first looked into the eyes of his youngest son. The sapphire eyes that, in those first few seconds, showed more emotion than the eyes of 100 men.
And the Old Man knew then that those eyes, so full of fire, yet so pleading, did not belong to a gunfighter. . .
And as that first turbulent year went by, he saw the eyes of his son. . .
He saw the laughter and the twinkle in them; the excitement and mischief. He saw the wonderment and the sorrow in them; the restlessness and contentment. He saw the weariness and satisfaction, and the sickness and the thankfulness.
And all too often he saw the pain and the fear in them. . .
He saw the pride, the hurt, the frustration, the anger. And he saw the
The love in the eyes as they watched Teresa work in her garden.
The love in the eyes as they watched Jelly fuss at everybody about nothing.
And the love in the eyes as they watched his older brother. . .with awe.
But in that first year, Murdoch Lancer felt empty as the most beautiful eyes in the world showed love toward everyone. . .but him.
They showed many things toward him, though.
They showed respect. And maybe some fear.
And always, they showed guilt and shame toward him.
But would those beautiful eyes ever show LOVE to him. . .his father?
He prayed they would.
Then tonight, on the first anniversary of their Homecoming, as Murdoch proposed a toast to his two sons, proclaiming that having them in his life was the greatest gift he could of received. . .he saw two sapphire eyes meet his.
And they showed happiness, contentment, trust, hope, thankfulness, and above all. . .
The eyes of Johnny Lancer showed love toward his father, and the gruff but secretly sentimental man knew that was truly the greatest gift he could receive.
And now, Murdoch Lancer knew for sure that what he had always thought about The Eyes of a Gunfighter was true.
Because his youngest son, his lost boy, had the most expressive eyes of anyone he knew. . .
And everyone knows The Eyes of a Gunfighter are cold. . .
But not The Eyes of Johnny Lancer. . .
They possessed warmth. . .
Compassion. . .
Life. . .
Here is a little ficlet I had just
finsihed and would like to share
with you. It's about the tight
bonds between brothers.
He cried…the day he was born.
He cried….when his mother took him from the safety
of his home.
He cried….when other children teased and beat him,
because his eyes were not like theirs.
He cried….when he was old enough to understand
the lies his mother had told about his father.
He cried ….when his mama violently died.
He cried…..when he was alone, scared and hungry.
He cried…..when he killed his first man, who wanted
to kill him first.
He cried…on the inside for the men who had lost
their lives after they had faced his gun.
He cried…..silently when he looked into his father’s
eyes again, and that first night he spent in his
bedroom when he was told it used to be his nursery.
Now sick with fever and far away from home, he lay
there in that bed, with nobody to care for him but an
old doctor, who visited him whenever he had the
time.No one wanted to nursemaid the gunfighter
they knew as Madrid. To them he was not worth the
trouble to even give him a second thought, now that
he was no longer a threat to them as sick as he was.
And once again prejudice had reared its ugly head as
they left him there in that stuffy dirty room to
A young man entered the hotel and overheard the
doctor saying to the clerk that Madrid’s chances
were not good if that fever didn’t break soon.
The young man intruded on the conversation and
anxiously asked, "Why is he sick, and where is he?"
The doctor looks at him confused and replied, "He’s
upstairs, and he’s suffering from influenza, and is
not responding to treatment. What’s it to you?"
The young man frowned at that remark, "It’s
everything to me." Then asked, as he looked around
at the blank faces on the other occupants as they
lingered about, "Who is caring for him while your
The old doc shrugged his shoulders, "Nobody. I
guess they don’t care if he lives or not, he’s only a
killer to them and not worth their trouble," he coldly
The young man’s face turned a bright shade of red,
and his nostrils flared, "What kind of town is this?"
he growled and grabbed the hotel clerk by the collar,
"What room is he in?" he angrily demanded.
"204" The clerk whimpered
The young man stormed upstairs flinging the door
open and was immediately appalled by the
unsanitary condition of the room. He quickly opened
the window for fresh air and turned to the doctor
and clerk who stood there in the doorway astounded,
and then harshly belted out orders.
"I want this room cleaned up with fresh bedding and
water at all times. And I want it done NOW!" he
shouted. "It’s no wonder he’s not responding, it’s a
pigsty in here. He needs fresh air in his lungs and
The clerk nervously took off to do what he was so
rudely told to do, as the old doc stood there, shaking
his head. "Why bother? He wouldn’t know the
difference. He’s been in a fever induced coma for the
last couple of days, and I highly doubt he’ll ever
wake up," he said, very uncaring for a man of
"Well, we’ll see about that! I for one don‘t give up as
easy as others." The young man proclaimed as he sat
down on the bed, and proceeded to pull the covers
down off Madrid’s heated body. He opened his shirt
and began to tenderly wipe Johnny’s chest with a
The doctor watched in amazement at the love and
compassion that generated out of this stranger for a
man like Madrid, as he work on bringing down the
fever that ravaged his thin weakened form. Then his
eyes widened in more confusion, when he notice that
within seconds the bleak, pale expression on the
gunfighter’s face changed to a soft more relaxed look,
and his dark eyelashes became moist.
"Is he crying?" the old man asked.
"Does that shock you?" the young man huffed
backed. "He’s human too. And wouldn’t you cry
too if you thought you were going to die alone and
never see your family again? Those are tears of relief
and contentment. He knows he’s not alone anymore,
isn’t that right little brother?" Scott sadly said as he
wiped the tears that trickled down his brother’s
"Brother you say?" The old doc asked, a little
"So sorry I’m late in getting here, Brother" Scott
went on, ignoring the incompetent doctor’s question.
"And how in the world did you get so sick? Well no
matter.I’m here now and I’ll make sure you get the
proper care you need. And then we can go on home
together where we belong." He softly assured his
sleeping sibling. Then looked up at the flabbergast
doctor. "I’ll be back in a moment." he whispered in
Johnny’s ear."Outside now!" he ordered the man.
Scott shoved the stout medical man out the door
leaving it open a crack. "Now see here!"
"No, you see here! When our father hears how you
and this town have treated my brother, he’s going to
have your license revoked, I‘ll make sure of it. No
matter who or what you are or were, no man should
have to suffer at the hands of incompetent, heartless
bastards such as yourself." The outraged Lancer
loudly snarled in the doctor’s quivering face. "And
his name is Lancer, get it right!"
Scott’s strong deep compassionate voice echoed back
into the room, reaching his brother’s ears again,
penetrating his fevered mind. A soft smile surfaced
through the darkness and graced his pale face. No
longer feeling alone, hated and afraid, now only
feeling loved, and wanted for who he was, a brother,
a son, John Lancer and again……he cried.
Here is another ficlet I had written about the fears a father goes through, when he thinks he's loosing his son for the second time in his life.
The Last Memory
Murdoch sat quietly next to Johnny's bed, refusing to move from his side until his son woke up. He gently stroked his flushed cheek like he used to do when Johnny was a child. Then he played with his long darks bangs draped over the blood stained bandage around his head. Running his long fingers through them, he messaged his scalp in a tickling manner, another way he used to wake his boy. But none seem to be working thus far. Johnny still lay in a deep sleep, lost in the darkness induced by the coma he had been in the for last two days.
"Why, Son? Why? Why did you have to race out and save the little girl from that runaway wagon? Why?" he whispered in Johnny's ear. "No, don't tell me why, I know. It was the right thing to do. Must you always put others before yourself? " Murdoch beckoned for the answer. "I know it's selfish of me to say that, but look what it did to you? It's been two days John, it's time to wake up now, you hear me?" Still nothing.
The distraught father fought against his body's demands to rest, he had to stay awake for Johnny's sake, but he just couldn't fight it any longer. So he lay his head down next to Johnny's, closed his weary eyes and murmured, "Please don't let…this be….my last….memory of…you." his words trailed off as he finally drifted off, his mind
fading back to the past.
"Hehehehehe……hehehehehehe, can't get me papa." The bright eyed nino giggled as he ran around the great room, running as fast as his chubby little legs would allow him.
"You little rascal, you. I'll get you yet!" The tall rancher yelled as he chased his spirited boy around the room, laughing his head off at the same time. Specially when he managed to escape his father’s grasp and run between his long legs.
"No, no, Papa, me to fast!"
"We'll see about that!" Murdoch got wise to his son’s little
maneuvers, and decided to out trick him. He had to stifle the boy's movements so he could grab him. "Johnny, look! Mamacita has your favorite dessert for you," he said, and pointed to the table.
"Chocolate!" Johnny happily yelled, stopping in his tracks. He turned around then frowned and stomp his foot when he saw no mamacita. "Where, mama….."
"GOT YOU!" Murdoch proclaimed victoriously as he scooped up his son with his huge hands, and swung him over his head. Up and down and around as though he was flying like a bird. A game they loved to play, whenever papa got the chance to.
"WEEEEEEEEEEE!" Johnny squealed and then spread his little arms out like wings and began to flap them. "Me a burd, I fly, Papa."
Murdoch began to feel a little dizzy and stopped the intoxicating movements before he went crashing to the ground, taking Johnny with him. Then he lowered Johnny down and cradled him in his arms as he drunkenly walked over to the sofa.
"More, Papa, more. "
"No, my son, papa needs to sit down. But we’ll play bird later, okay?" Johnny nodded his dark head. "Papa wants to tell you
something, so you listen okay." He looked down in his son’s trusting big blue eyes, and his heart ached. "Papa has to go away for a couple of days, " he sadly said.
"Because I need to buy some moo moos… er…cows, for the ranch," he tried to explained. "I want you to be a good boy for your mother, and mamacita, understand? I will be back as soon as I can. And if I hear you were a good boy, I might have a treat for you."
"Toy horsy Papa? I be good." Johnny yipped, and jump up, threw his little arms around Murdoch's neck and hugged him tightly. "Luv you, Papa."
"I love you too, Son. Now it's time to go to bed. So up we go!"
Murdoch stood up, and flung his boy up on his strong shoulders and carried him off to bed. It was his turn to get Johnny dressed and ready for bed. So after reading his favorite bedtime story, he gently laid his sleeping baby in his crib, and leaned over and kissed his soft cheek. "Night my son, sweet dreams."
Murdoch watched by the door for a few minutes more, and basked in the wondrous sight and sounds of his sleeping child. As all parents love to do, he listened and watched Johnny's little chest rising and falling, his sweet, soft murmurs as he fussed to get conformable. His little man, who he hoped one day he could introduce to his big brother, if Harlan would even agree to it. `Maybe one day.' he thought.
That night he had an uneasy feeling, but didn't know why or what. All he knew was that he hated these business trips. All he wanted to do was to stay home and enjoy his family, but they were necessary ventures and he had no choice. After a few drinks of brandy, he headed on upstairs, climb into bed, gave his wife a kiss on the cheek, and quickly dosed off. For some reason he had slept a little harder, a sounder that night. Sadly he’d had no idea what was to going on around him. He’d heard nothing.
That morning he arose feeling very rested, but with a slight
headache, as if he was drugged. He turned to wake his wife, but she was not there like she normally was, they always got up together. Then he noticed a few of her things were missing and he found it odd. Maybe she was rearranging things and placed them somewhere else. So he pushed himself out of bed, and got dressed. And like every morning since Johnny was born, he made it his first priority to check in on his son before starting the day. He made his way to the nursery, opened the door and his heart stopped cold. Johnny was gone.
The room looked like it was ransacked, or someone was packing in a hurry. Murdoch noticed that all but one blanket in Johnny's crib was gone, only the blue blanket he gave him for his first birthday remained, flung over the bars. In sheer panic he ran downstairs calling for him, for his wife. His heart racing uncontrollable.
"MARIA! JOHNNY, WHERE ARE YOU?" Nothing. He ran out the French Doors and headed towards the bunkhouse. "PAUL, PAUL!" he called to his foreman. He was stopped short by the sight of Paul laying outside by the water trough, bloodied and just now waking up after being hit hard over the head. "Paul what happened? Where's my wife and son?" he desperately asked.
"I tried….to …stop her, Murdoch. But….the man she was with….hit me from behind. They ran off…in the middle…of the night. I'm sorry, but I…was too late." Paul regretfully explained, through the throbbing pain in his head. "They're gone!'
Paul's words painfully echoed in Murdoch's ears. "They're gone, they're gone!" Over and over they repeated, as flashes of the night before shot through his head. Images of Johnny, and his sweet laugh, his trusting blue eyes staring up at him. The touch of his baby skin on his. His last memory of his son.
Murdoch turned and stared at the horizon. He didn't utter a word, didn't move a muscle, he couldn't even feel his heart breaking in two. He was frozen in time. He felt empty and cold inside. The warmth, the joy he felt whenever he held his son, was no more. And he didn't know if he would ever get that back, them back. "God no!' he finally utter.
"Murdoch?" he heard his name but he couldn't register where it was coming from.
"Murdoch. Murdoch? Wake up," the weak voice beckon him.
"Huh…mmmm, what?" Murdoch mumbled as he slowly lifted his head, and found a pair watery blue eyes staring up at him. "Johnny?"
"Hey, yourself." The worried father smiled widely. "It's about time you woke up young man. I was…hum… beginning to worry I… would never see those blue eyes of yours again," he said clearing his throat, to keep from choking on his words. Not realizing his face was stained with dry tears.
"Are you…okay?" Johnny weakly reached up and touched his father cheek. "You been crying?"
Murdoch took his sons hand in his. "Uh, no, it's just sleep, I
was….in a deep sleep…and"
"Don't lie …to me. You were crying. Why?"
Murdoch knew Johnny would not rest until he got an answer. "I was thinking of the past, Son. I was thinking of the last memory I had of you before your mother took you from me," he sadly admitted. "And now, I thought you were slipping away from me again. I want us to make new ones, to remember as we get older. And I was scared I would never get that chance."
"We will, I promise." Johnny smiled, "It's funny, while I was
sleeping, I was in this dark, cold place looking for a way out, and then I heard your voice. Then it got brighter, and I saw faint images of the great room." Johnny began to tell his father of his dream. "I saw you ….and a little boy, and….you was making him fly like a bird. He called you Papa. Was that me?"
"Yes, my son that was you. You were not quite two, and that was the last time I saw you." Murdoch replied surprised. "I can't believe you remember some of that night."
"I had…no memory… until…now. Funny huh?" he sighed. "Maybe it's the hit on the head." He tried to joke and closed his tired eyes. "So…. tired."
"You sleep now, John. We'll talk later."
"Don't go far, huh? In my dream…I also remember screaming for you, don't know why. But I heard Mama say to me… your papa can't hear you…..he'll never….hear you." Then Johnny looked up at his father. "Then I… stopped crying." And then he closed his eyes again and fell back to sleep.
"Sleep now, and don't worry, your papa will always be here for you, now and forever. No matter how old you are, I'll be there for you," Murdoch strongly proclaimed. "And we'll make new and better memories, the three of us, you, Scott and your old man. Together as a family."