Drabbles by Kathy Smith Barsotti

Word count 1,037

                                                                                    (1)

It’s dark. Night has finally fallen. Covering all the destruction outside these walls. Teresa has gone to bed. Exhausted. She made me proud today. Sam is in the bedroom down the hall. We kept him busy but he got everyone patched up. Scott is asleep in the chair by the window. Ignoring my suggestion he should go to his room. He’s exhausted too. God knows we all are…He suggested I go to bed… but that isn’t happening.

I look at Johnny, restless and feverish, in his bed and think about the last few days. The surprise as they arrived together. My sons. So different and so alike. The angry words. The fight. The distrust. Johnny leaving. Scott staying. Pardee arriving. I still see that golden horse riding hell bent for us and for a second, the briefest of seconds, it looked like he was going to make it.

I close my eyes and see my lost son falling from his horse. Lying still on the ground. I shamed myself by stopping Scott from going to him but I couldn’t lose two sons…Not when I just got them back. “He was coming back to us” Teresa had answered to my anguished question at what the boy thought he was doing.

Now, after he roused himself and the battle turned in our favor, after Scott hauled him into the house over his shoulder-after killing Pardee- after the battle and the digging out of the bullet from his scarred back…Here, in the quiet of the night when I’ve relived the scenario over and over, I realized he had done so much more. We were outnumbered. Outflanked. He broke their formation and led them right to us in a blind frenzy.

“You had your plan and I had mine.” He had told Scott. If we had talked…If we had only talked…..

                                                                           (2)

I knew I had a father. Son of a bitch that he might be…But an older brother? Mama had to know about him. Why wouldn’t she tell me?  And now here we are in this fancy ‘great’ room and this hard-faced giant of a man says the past can be put to rest just by ignoring it. He does have a hard crust that might be interesting to break. And this dandy who shares my blood is acting like he knows what he’s talking about but this war ain’t gonna be one of those clean kill wars he’s used to…Damn! I have a father and a brother…I’m not alone in this world after all…But can’t think about any of that right now because there’s killing to be done…

                                                                          (3)

Just months ago my perfect night would have been sitting by the fire in the great room , a good measure of Talisker’s in my glass and a good book in my hands. Preferably a classic. Homer. Dickens…They had kept me company many nights after the workday was done. Long nights that sleep wouldn’t come.

It had been a good month since I had started on this newest book. The Iliad. I just can’t get past the first chapters. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. It’s one I’ve been wanting to read for many years now.

Then my sons came home to help with the land pirates. I gave it a try when Johnny was laid up recovering from a bullet in the back. But I spent more time keeping down his fever, understanding his nightmares and watching him sleep.

 And when Scott was in the room…Well, it was more important to talk. Talk just about everything: the ranch, the townsfolk, the neighbors. Everything except the past.

 I came in from town this evening with the idea of sitting easy and reading. Those Cattlemen meetings are just plain aggravating anymore and I knew reading would help wind me down. But I found Johnny perched on the ledge by the bookshelf, a volume about Horse breeding in his hands. There was a time when I was worried if the boy knew how to read or write. He had told me schooling was scarce. And I know those border towns he grew up in didn’t exactly put emphasis on education. It was a relief to find he could indeed read and write in both English and Spanish.

 Scott, on the other hand, was well schooled. Harvard educated. Those two boys are like night and day but they have so much to teach each other. Right now they are playing a heated game of chess. And I haven’t read a word as I watch them. Heads bent over the board; I see the consternation on Scott’s face as he tries to grasp his brother’s game technique. It riles his Chess Club leader senses that he loses 9 out of 10 games to his brother. (I’m not so sure John doesn’t purposely let him win occasionally out of compassion.)

I’ve given up playing Johnny myself. I don’t need the comeuppance that badly…Both Scott and I have questioned John on where he learned to play. We got different answers. I think he might have told Doc Jenkins…Sam is a good player himself. He wins about 3 out of 10 games with this boy of mine. He told me once that John looks at the game like he does a range war. Everything in an instant two steps ahead. It’s what kept him alive. It sure put a different light on a chess game…

The Talisker’s is gone, the Iliad forgotten and, by the way Scott’s head is shaking, the game is over. Well, maybe these two young men can teach an old dog new tricks too…I find myself yet again laying aside the book. “I’ll play the winner…”

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4 thoughts on “Drabbles by Kathy Smith Barsotti

  1. I love this story! It takes talent to express so much in just a few words. Thank you for sharing yours with us Lancer lovers.

    Like

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