Chapter Six

A new journey. Where we going this one, Black Hatch? Well, Wild Bill. Judging from the state you're in why I thought we'd mosey on down to Ciudad de Juarez and see your old friend Senora Gutierrez and eat some peyote. Sounds good to me, Black, cept we got some enemies along in there. Yeah? Thought you all kllled'em off. Well, I don't know, Hatch. But what's in it all for you? Remember how you was going to leave us fore you got your ass killed. Naw, Bill, I been getting real bored and fat and I need a break real bad and my wife loves me, and my four kids love me, and I just went and become a respectable gentleman like I always wanted and I told them how I was coming down here to see my friends the cattle barons that was needing a little help against the locals, and how this is going to start out my reputation, and, man, lord 'o mighty do I need a break bad! Sure is good to see you, Richard. Thank you, Bill. Even if you're old and fat.

Hatch reaches over from his horse to me. Grip with me, Bill! Goddamn your soul, grip with me! We rode along and tried our grips and Old Hatch bared teeth and grunted and growled and showed me how he still had his grip. See, you damn squawman! Only reason I let you up in there was cause I could see you'd become pretty famous in there and I didn't want to let the people down! Shit, Hatch. It was your wind got you. Well, I must admit, I'm a little sore in my wmd now. But I'm going into training t'ween here'n Juarez. Every time we stop I'm going to do fifty pushups and run up and down hill while you make fire. Glad to hear, Hatch. That's the spirit, cause you might have to save my life in Juarez.

Manuel told me how Apaches knew it was me killed the seven that was doing the torture because I was the only one around that could of come walking by and done the thing with six guns like that, because they did not know that either Bix or Rattlesnake Dan might had done it too, cept I doubt old Rattlesnake would had, and there were many Apaches would not see the torture as such a beautiful thing and probably some figured the seven was just as well off getting clean killing like that before they had released this man's spirit in such a god-awful evil condition, cause they might had seen bad luck till they died cept that I went and freed them from this world first, and that for example anyway the white man's world was going to suffer for many generations at the hands of all the red man spirits which they had brung such misery upon, and so on, but there was a few cousins said Manuel, maybe ten twelve that went on my trail and lost it be­tween the ranch and town cause of some cavalry around there and then later heard the trail was resumed and going toward Mexico and this bunch went back after ithorse I was riding I had picked well and this horse was a well known horse-and they caught us at about our third night on the trail, and me and Hatch was camped in what we thought was a real good space, but it was dusk and two these Apaches was good enough to sneak in real close and see what our position was, and first they saw me making fire and Black Hatch snorting and growling and grunting over his pushups and then he got up and hopped around a bit waving his arms and then with a long war cry he run across the sand to the nearest bank and he commenced to run up and down this bank. They saw I had a crazy man with me and they did not want to get the spirit of a crazy man on their necks, and they left us alone. The wonder of it to them was I was not that crazy yet myself. What good medicine Wild Bill has, they said. Wild Bill has become a shaman. We don't want no trouble with him. Truth about it is it would indeed to be a bad thing to get old Black Hatch's spirit on your neck. First night Hatch could only do thirty five pushups. Next night it was thirty six, but the third night he got forty nine, and he had lost some weight, all right. I think you cheated a little on forty nine, I said. Nosir, Olive! Naw! If I was to cheat I'd do fifty! But haa...haa...what gets me...is running in these damn new boots...haa! We got to El Rio Grande on a bright moming and he got right down and he reached fifty one, even as it just about killed him and he oouldn't hardly get back up on his horse by hisself. I'm ready for Mexico now, he said. He was. It will take a hard man to beat Black Hatch.

We crossed the river and rode straight to Senora Gutierrez's. Maybe I said in some of my earlier biography that I had become the ruin of her. Well, here I had been gone a year again, thinking she could get more crazy but wasn't going to change too darnn much. We come up, and she was out in her little garden with a hoe, and she was fat and old. I was to blame and it broke my heart. She looked up and she had a cigarette in her mouth. Hatch said, howdy, Senora.

Why did I come back here, I thought next.

Maybe I should give her my child, I thought next. Keep her young. Keep her mind busy.

Where have you been, she said to me cold.

Well, she still has the spirit, Richard. Yes, she does, Bill. I had to run for my life, Senora. But I'm still alive. Look at my scars. I had meat hanging here I could bury my finger in. Hey, look at this one on my leg.

Why don't you wear a shirt? she said. Then, this old dirty fat drunk staggered half out of her house, and leaned in her door and had a bottle in one hand. He is my man, she said, with a defiance which caused me to remember her. I was very impressed.

The drunk saluted and me and Hatch saluted back. Senora, I said. I never called her nothing but Senora, because it fit. Senora, I am sorry for what I have done.

Do not be sorry, she said. It is not your nature. Henry! Do we have clean glasses? We will give them a drink of your tequila. They are old friends. The Senora had her hands on her hips and her bust out looking more like she ought to, and Henry squinted through the day, and I'm sure he'd never seen the like before. They are friends, Senora Gutierrez? Certainly! Haven't you heard about Wild Bill and Black Hatch? Caramba, said Henry and turned back inside. Mother of God, he said, Glasses, where are the glasses!

Senora, said Hatch. Tell you what. Me and Bill will go to a hotel room and get the rest we need because we're very tired and I'm sure I'll fall asleep if I get off my horse. We will come and see you tomorrow morning and drink your good coffee. Is it well with you?

As you wish, Senor Hatch. Senora Gutierrez covered a little bit of disappointment. But bring him back with you.

We did not go to a hotel or nothing. We rode in and brung memories to the whole town and tied our three horses outside our favorite Juarez bar. We sit at a table and had a few drinks and then eat a lot of horse steak and then bought a bottle and sit there. What's the next move, Richard? Damn, Bill, I don't know. When you going to get a shirt? I don't know. You say you got a silk shirt you'll give me. Well, hate to waste it on a squawman. Well, they look pretty dirty on you too by now. You know, we got to get our horses settled somewhere. We sure do. Man, I ain't been laid in so long. Me neither. Shit, where's your wife? She's in St. Louis. Bill, I got to make a profit down here somehow. Well, I don't know that they're not expecting us to rob the damn bank. Next thing in come Peter The Potential One with a big feed sack crammed full of green peyote buttons and we had not seen him in a long time. Peter The Potential One! Peter The Potential One! I heard how you had bad problems, said Peter The Potential One. Peter The Potential One had upped his price and took three dol­lars for his trouble and we give him the half drunk bottle of tequila before he faded back into the night. We sit there a while nibbling on the peyote. Been a while, Bill. Been a while. Yep. In come the Senora's man, Henry. He didn't see us at first, got a bottle from the bar and went and sit at a table near us. He was a little sad. Then he saw us and he said, hi, Gringos. We saluted him. Hello, Henry. Where's the Senora? I am going away, he said. Yeah, why are you going away? I must go see my little wife and children and mother-in-law and my father, he said. They live on a little farm a long ways in that direction. I have not seen them in a long time.

Well, we got to go take care of our horses, we said. We took them back to Senora Gutierrez's and staked them out to be cleaning up the weeds and grass in her yard where she was not growing nothing. There was a sack of chicken feed in her hen house and we broke it open for them. She sure has gone to bed early, I said. You Gringos cavrones, she said from her bedroom. I went over to her window. Senora, what can we put water in? From there she come out wearing just her shift and her Spanish hair wild and all over her and her new fat shaking on her and brung us a tin tub. She had a wee bit of gray in her hair but I knew then her only trouble was she had just been neglected too long by us lobo wolf types like me or Dan, and damn him.

She heated up bath water and fixed us coffee and bounced around in her kitchen and cooked a bunch of food, potatoes and ham and eggs and fried beans and vegetables she'd grown and me and Hatch had been taking the peyote slow and on the way to her house urped a little the tequila and old horse but we made sure we didn't urp none of that good food. She was always kind of modest proud of the Spanish body hair she had here'n there and reached for things and bent over for things and Hatch sitting in the hot tub said he never saw before what a beautiful woman she was but now could understand why Dan tried to take her away from me. The sonofabitch did, I said. She really felt fine with Hatch's compliment, as of old going crazier'n either of us just on'er wild blood, and getting dominant already threw'er bust up and said no, no, that it was my fault, that I let'im, and wanting to work out the old bad feeling. Ah, hell, I said. Say, uh? Remembering that I left some weed in her house, and that Dan probably did since he had his own. She knew my mind and went bustling back and forth till she found a old leather pouch of Dan's full of weed and even with a pipe. Where's mine? Danny, he smoke it all one Sunday! Ah, hell. We all smoked then and had a big peace powwow and she sit in my lap and said I smelled like a pig and the chair fell over because I was reaching for the pipe but it was some time before I had her slowed enough for her to let me back up to give me my bath. Hatch was in a dream or something and couldn't find the pipe because his arms was too tired from all the pushups he'd been doing, but we found it in his water when we poured it out and since I had not remembered where was my pipe we all eat peyote while that one was drying. Thing about eating peyote is it takes a while to do it and Senora Gutierrez never had been a big peyote eater like me or Hatch but like I say I had already ruined her for the civillzed life and here she would grab a button and romantic like tear it in half between us and soon as she had urped one time she took to eating it fast as me and we was all feeling so wonderful that we was eating it like apples and she was calling it the apples of the gods, and if I got my knowledge of history straight this is what the Aztec Indians or somebody or other called it, and Senora Gutierrez on first meeting looks like a Spanish type of lady but here I was on my back again with her sitting up and down on me while at the same time she was eating the peyote and looking more and more Indian and even starting to talk Indian only I don't .think it was Aztec because them people was a little too civilized to be where she come from, no, cause it was a wilder people that run up and down mountains with knives and later on they died off with diptheria or something-and I was seeing all this but too how that woman was actually getting ahead of me in eating the peyote and I had thought I was the champion and I said, say, Senora Gutierrez, and she could read my mind and said, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, I am winning the race! You want more apples, you? Why, I don't know, Senora, why I just thought it rather remarkable how well you have been doing up there. Here, you! She took off her mostly green shift for the first time though I had been seeing so much green and red and yellow I didn't even know she had it on and she flung it through the air like we was all in one big rainbow. Take these apples, you, which meant her titties naturally and I sure didn't have to reach far and first we was running up and down mountains after deer and I could not keep up with her-I say "her" but she seemed as much man as me in this case-and I said, look, you Indian, I can't be doing this all day, if I could catch the damned thing I know I could snap his neck with my bare hands but I don't see as that I can catch him, and the Indian said, ah, it was only a little race anyway, let's go home, and then she was a woman though plenty big sure enough and went, aaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaah! Eee-eeeeeeeeee! Too, there was somebody knocking on the door because they was wanting to buy eggs at the break of dawn and Hatch was in my tub of hot water and having a argument with them. Ooooooooooooooooh, said Senora Gutierrez. Get the hell out of here, said Hatch. Olive, tell them damn kids to leave me alone! My arms quit working on me and I can't get out of this damn tub and don't want to nohow! Go away, you damn kids, Hatch said. While I could hear all this I was in many places at one time and seeing all the energy or sparkling universe twirling about itself and mankind all busy trying to count it all up as "time", and old Black Hatch was seeing exactly the same thing and started telling the damn kids to come back some other "time" but next he was thinking he was the Guardian Of the Universe because of the effects of that hot water and so started being a kindly father sort of god and talking for the children to go away some other "time", and each time he said "time" he give forth some big chuckles, ho, ho, ho, but all those kids wanted was to buy some damn eggs. Eggs, said Hatch. Eggs, you say? What come first, the chicken or the egg? What come first, ho, ho, ho! Senora Gutierrez changed the subject by saying she was going to bathe me in the blood of her ancestors, maybe because I told her it was time for my bath. Where is Senora Gutierrez, said the children on the door's other side. She is going to bathe Wild Bill Olive in the blood of her ancestors, ho, ho, ho! By this she meant getting me inside her bowels, oh, oh, oh, oh...ooh...ooh..ooo,ooo, ooo-OOO! Come back later for the eggs but you can go away some other time, ho ho ho! Ain't no eggs this time, my little children, ho, ho, ho! The children were getting kind of jolly about the whole thing and calling forth, Senora Gutierrez, Senora Gutierrez! Hatch started speaking more in Spanish, go away some other time, my little children, because Senora Gutierrez is bathing Wild Bill in the blood of her ances­tors, ho, ho, ho! What is she doing, what is she doing? Ain't no eggs today, my little children! Senora Gutierrez, Senora Gutierrez, what are you doing? She is bathing old Wild Bill Olive in the blood of her ancestors, my little children! Bathing Wild Bill in the blood of her ancestors? The children had caught on it was us, they had known us all before. Wild Bill Olive? Yes, Wild Bill Olive, and this is old Black Hatch speaking to you, my little children, ho, ho, ho! Black Hatch? Yes, Black Hatch, God Of The Seas, my little children, ain't no eggs today! They knew us and anything we did was normal and expected and they said could they come in and watch Senora Gutierrez bathe me in the blood of her ancestors. The door is locked, my little children, go away some other time! After a certain amount of this they did leave to go away some other time and by then, Senora Gutierrez was deciding to kill me. I was totally overwhelmed and encompassed. Says she is going to kill me now, Black Hatch. What's that, Wild Bill? Says she is going to kill me now. Must be in the stars, Wild Bill, ho, ho, ho! Quit thinking you are God and give me some apples, Black Hatch, she said. I don't know where they are, Senora. Can't move my arms nohow. She spotted a couple spilled out on the floor and keeping herself on me bent and got one and give me half, said I was going to need my strength. After eating it I hardly felt mortal anymore, told her she wasn't going to kill me after all, and by and by she decided she wanted that other one, but this one she couldn't quite get hold of without getting off of me and when she got off I fell apart like jelly. Whoo-e, Black Hatch, I said, I've had quite a day. Where's the pipe? Don't know, Bill. Black Hatch, give me the pipe so I can leave this world for final. You leave this world after I kill you, said the Senora and forgetting about the other bud of peyote she had spied. Speaking in a strange Indian tongue she said she was going to eat my heart out. Did you hear that, Black Hatch? Wild Bill, I did. Says she's going to eat your heart out. I was just about to sit my body up and she come down on me with a big clamp of her teeth which near killed what man I had left in me. Like a man shot I had slapped her and had hold her ears-turn loose, you bitch! -fore I was over my sheer terror and fell on back, Jesus! My flesh, my flesh, Jesus! Ho, ho, ho, went the damned pirate. Ho, ho, ho! Thirteen men on a dead man's chest, yo ho, yo ho, and a bottle of rum! Olive! Hey, Olive! I ever tell you bout the time I did the mutiny on the good ship Witch Sarah? Many time, many times, Hatch, oh, shit, mother of God.

Do you know, that the woman did eventually get tender and kind and at midday put on her shift and petticoat and took me down to a spot on the river where she then give me the bath. Hatch was still the Guardian Of The Universe and sit on horse with my rifle and his old bowie knife strapped on that he'd had tucked away somewhere and for keeping off sunburn he had a sheet tied around him like he was a shiek and there he sit for hours smoking calm and the horse grazing. Thar she blows, he said pointing to some dust in the distance.

Children of the neighborhood was happy to have us back and running hither and thither and jumping in and out of the river and Senora Gutierrez had already lost much of the new fat and was look­ing real fine and got too settled to bathe me once she dropped the soap and by now was more into her Catholic environment and talking a little Latin and I noticed how fine was that soap floating down the river so I paddled after it and when I took it on back in she was so peaceable and floating about on this bar, and real dreamy she crossed herself. To my surprise I was horny some more and pulled up her skirts and bathed her and did see there was some strange people over on the bank talking to Black Hatch but since all was well with Black Hatch being the Guardian Of The Universe I went on back in her. We was sitting out on the bar like that and I said, Senora, who is that over there? She looked, said, oh, Juanita, and my daughter! She had had children, two to die, two sons to grow up, and this young daughter, fore the husband died. But I had never got much of this straight for some reason, maybe because the daughter had been living in Mexico City with her brother and to be going into training for the convent or something, cept she did not do that. Now the daughter had traveled down to her cousin Juanita's goat ranch, and next, could only have been Peter The Potential One, Juanita got the word we was here, and naturally she was mad and after Tom Bowman. Well, Senora, reckon we ought to mosey on over there? It would be well, she said. We make love tonight. We moseyed on over there and I did have my trousers on the bank but nobody was bothered with any of that because Senora Gutierrez had not seen her daughter for three years and crying they went for one another and Juanita always did like being around us and taking part in the dramatic life we led. Where is Tom she growled and jerked her head up to a side for me to put my trousers on, and I took in she was a little bit pregnant. Whooee, I carried on for her, slapping water and hair from my eyes. Juanita, old Tom Bowman is out at our Water Hole Ranch to be getting some exercise. The ranch is part his of course and he kind of felt a obligation to give us a little hand out there and besides he wants to do a little hard physical labor for his health! Yes? Look, I am pregnant, she said. Fine! Nothing prettier'n a pregnant woman, I always say. Right, Hatch? Right, Olive! The way I been feeling up here in this lonely crow's nest I'm about to get carried away just by looking at'er! See there, Juanita, I said with a arm over her. The Texas Gang has everything in control and you got nothing to worry about. Ay, how glad I am to know this! Certainly, my dear! Certainly, my dear, said Black Hatch. Bill, said Senora Gutierrez. This is my long lost daughter, Felicia! She is only fifteen! When her good father died she decided to become a nun but now she has grown into a young lady! My pleasure, Felicia. Felicia did a natural little sort of curtsy and let us see what a charnilng and fine looking creature she was, tall like her mother, but not so broad-shouldered and powerful, but otherwise taking after her handsome mother. She was doing us a little aristocratic blush and the Senora said, keeping things down to abalance of nature, here is my mountain man. Isn't he pretty? I give'er a little profile and Hatch said horseshit and after a little bit more fooling around we all headed back to the house, a lot of neighbors off here and there getting themselves a good look, Black Hatch on horse heading the column and next was Senora Gutierrez in her wet petticoat arm in arm with her daughter and then a little further behind come me and Juanita and we was holding hands with some of the kids. Tom, he no have a woman at your ranch, she asked me. Well, I don't know, Juanita, I said with some trouble of concentrating on her problem. You know how Tom is, a restless man, likes the girls, but he talks about you. Si? Si. What does he say? Tell me, Bill, does Bix talk about me? Sure. Even Dan talks about you. Danny too? Ay, he was my first lover. Danny was your first lover? Ay, Si. Your very first? Si, Si, my very first! Well, I declare. We was not too far into the sack of green buds and me and Hatch was wondering whether to keep everybody up that night too but along come Peter The Potential One in a wagon carrying a little barrel of beer still wet from keeping it in the river for us and Hatch give him his price for Peter The Potential One is a reasonable man and Hatch give him enough to go get us a ham and sack of tortillas and that Peter The Potential One did for us real quick and we all sit there eating tomato tacos and drinking cool beer while the Senora baked us the ham. I'm running out of money, Bill, Hatch said. Yeah? Yep. Well, I wonder what we're going to do in this case. I wonder too, Bill. Damn, here I have become a wealthy man, hero of one of the biggest spreads in New Mexico Territory, and we're sitting down in here broke and nothing coming in. Give me all your money, said Senora Gutierrez to Hatch. What! Look, Senora, I ain't got much. Well, Hatch, let'er have it. Least ways this way we'll have food, and lodging till opportunity presents itself. Arrr! All right! Hell, my wife thinks I'm down here defending you people against the mob and making a killing! Ah, that day'll come, Hatch. Shit, look, Juanita has a goat ranch! Right, Juanita! Si, but it belongs to me and my cousins, and Tom, he is a very lazy man. Hum, we see. Well, drink up, Juanita, let's build a healthy child inside you, said Hatch. Felicia did not drink beer but she was having a pretty good time because she never saw nothing like us before and she hadn't seen anything yet and her mama cooked and Juanita and Hatch got drunk and I surprised her again by asking the Senora for a pencil and paper in order for me to make a letter. His mama was a civilized woman, said Senora Gutierrez. She taught him religion and Astrology and how to read books. She's quite a woman, I said. She come from Ireland on the other side of the ocean. I know where it is, said Felicia polite. Hell, you dumb squawman, said Hatch. There's more'n one ocean and I seen'em all! Hatch, you drunk pirate, your testicals are showing. Har, ain't nothing nobody ain't seen before! Cept for the little virgin here and she got to see'em sometime! Not yours, she ain't. He's a old pirate, Felicia, understand. Never had a sweet mother to show him morals like mine did me. Why, I ain't never told you nothing bout my own dear mother, said Hatch tying up his sheet with his knife strap. Course you didn't, Hatch. Cause you ain't inclined to talk much. Leave my little girl alone, lobos gringos, said the Senora. Let me help you cook, Mama. The cooking will do itself, she said, and as she had put the marijuana and pipe away to keep it from mice she then got it out for me. Then she sat in my lap and drunk a couple glasses beer and smoked with us and when the food was done we did put it away like greasy barbarian folk and we gringos lobos got Felicia to smoking and before everybody was passing out I remember Felicia sitting eyes wide in a corner though pretty cheerful. So we did not get back to the peyote that night. Next morning sun was shining and children a knocking and me the first to wake and I was in the middle of the Senora's bed with her daughter on one side and her on the other and I dumb over the Senora worrying a mite on just what was happening here, in my head the fear of becoming too much a father around there and getting tied down this time, and the same time the other thought cut cross that one, well, sort of nice to be sleeping with this little filly along one side me, too, and her down to her petticoat too naturally, and I belched and stumbled through the house and tripped down to a knee getting over Hatch and Juanita on the floor in Hatch's sheet and next busted through the door with those kids all hanging there wanting to buy eggs and I leaned on a tree and got some buttons out of the way and pissed like a horse and the kids thought it something to laugh about. I had to do a horse shit while I was at it but thought maybe if I just went to the outhouse the kids would want to come in there with me so I hopped on my horse and rode for the river. Go away some other time, you little devils! I'll get the eggs soon as I take a swim! Senora Gutierrez is in most days a early riser and she had the eggs sold and coffee cooking by time I got back in and I sit down to write the letter this time without interruptions but when people smelled the coffee they commenced to wake up and continue the holiday so I wrote a real short one: Compadres, Black Hatch and Wild Bill are still alive and send a order for one thousand dollars to Post Office in El Ciudad de Juarez. I lit a candle and sealed it over but next spilled coffee all on it so I weighted it down on top of the roof to be drying in the sun and it was about two days later before the Senora mailed it for me and if I recall it right the compadres eventually got around to mailing fifty dollars but in ten dollar bills which somebody in the post office sniffed out and stole, anycase, it was a lost cause there. However, we did pretty good, because, wherein this next day me and Hatch got everybody to eating peyote and smoking weed again and a lot of crazy things started happening and by midnight we was all of us down in the river swimming naked and Felicia had already decided to lose the virginity and always asking her mother if it was all right and so on and me and Hatch both just too busy to do it for her, who was going to show up that next morning but our crazy Mary Ann a looking for her scoundrel Gunter and she of course always had mucho dinero. A short time after the eggs was sold she come rapping on the door with a umbrella and all dressed up in feathers and lace and things and was in this frame of a woman's mental nature and Felicia opened the door naked and was crazy and natural in her way or had forgot she was naked because first was Hatch and Juanita on some blankets on the floor and moaning and growling and howling and then from the bedroom was coming the further grunts and groans and Indian chants of Senora Gutierrez and, oh, spoke Mary Ann, and started to go away, but she stepped back aways and saw it was the right house and then chanced to look upon the face of Felicia that was just standing there looking like somebody's gal from the Texas Gang, and Mary Ann thought it was Senora Gutierrez had lost weight or something. Senora Gutierrez, I have come for Patrick Gunter, she said, figuring him to be in there. Patrick Gunter? Felicia saw Mary Ann knew what she was talking about and went and wandered about in the house to be finding this Patrick Gunter and Mary Ann come following. Perhaps he is not here, said Felicia. Perhaps not, said Mary Ann starting to notice how hot and uncomfortable was her pile of clothing. Hatch come crawling around by their legs hunting for the pipe now, and he looked up-says he looked right up through all of Mary Ann's panties and petticoats and knew it had to be her-and he brushed some of it out of his eyes and said, hello, Mary Ann. How do you do, Mister Hatch, said Mary Ann feeling a little more familiar now and took off her ostrich hat and sit down. Oh, I reckon I do right well, Mary Ann, but I sure need a rest. Say! You seen a pipe around here! Juanita has it, Mr. Hatch. Ah, so she does. Hey, Juanita lass, bring it this way! Bout time you and Mary Ann got to be friends anyway! The four of them sit at the table and passed the pipe and talked everything over and Juanita and Mary Ann shook hands and though Juanita was having some trouble remembering it was through Mary Ann that Bix got away a brillant thought did capture her fancy at one point and this was to lend Hatch to Mary Ann, even as by then Mary Ann was not listening but asking where was the Water Hole Ranch that Packy had run off to. Hatch was near wore out but this idea of Juanita's give him some manly pride and strength and he sided up to Mary Ann and reached inside her clothes and smiled, how bout it, Mary Ann? What? she said. Why, you are naked! What, said Hatch. You are naked! Why, you are all naked! Huh? Mary Ann come out of her chair. Eee-eee-eee! Guess the loco weed got'er, Hatch said, Guess so, said Juanita. Come back to me, darling. Mary Ann was tearing through the house. Well, I only wanted to help, called out Hatch. She tried the door, which was locked, and Hatch unlocked it and she turned and went the other direction and of a sudden she was rapping me on the back with her umbrella, and I was a little surprised and snatched it from her but Senora Gutierrez got mad and come up and grabbed her and ripped off half her clothes and threw her down and was beating her. Goddamn, I thought. The poor woman won't never get her sanity back, the little she had. Hey, stop that, Senora, I said. Can't you see she's crazy? Felicia had become real sad and sit down against me and crying on my chest and I didn't Imow whether to talk to Felicia or save Mary Ann. Hey, Senora, stop it or I'll hit you! There, there, Felicia, girl, it will all be all right. Hatch! Hey! Come save Mary Ann! You save'er, I'm trying to lock this door back! Senora Gutierrez took Mary Ann by the hair and banged her head up and down on the floor, bop, bop, bop. Felicia! I got to save your mama from committing murder! Yes! Save her! I come down with a hand in the Senora's hair and snapped her head back and lifted her damn near to'er feet and she still had hold of Mary Ann and that was a lot of weight so I tried squeezing the Senora's arms till the circulation went, and then she tumed loose. It was all a awful din and next the Senora went to scratching on me and I pushed her over the bed and was on my way out of the room when she leaped through the air like a screaming mountain lion and bit me on top the shoulder so hard it almost brung me to my knees and I got her down on the floor and would of given her the hardest whipping she ever had got-I mean paddle her, you know, like with a good horse you don't want to mess up your woman too much-but she was too damn strong to paddle, I just couldn't ever quite tum'er under long enough, and Hatch was going, har, har, har, oh, har, har, har, so I just slapped her across the breasts and held off her clawing hands from me and said, look, Senora, you're just getting carried away, you're just getting carried away, is all, and if you'll just settle down I'll let you back up. But the next thing, Felicia-now mind you, all this noise was going on, by everybody-she hit me with a chair. She had been warning me how she was going to hit me with the chair and then she did. She broke the chair and I had blood running down into one eye and I got up and went to hunting for my trousers. Where you going, said the Senora. Ah, hell, you women are all driving me crazy. Let's see. . now. . .I had boots, guns, knife and trousers. Where you going? Hell, to New Mexico, or Texas, or somewhere. A lot of other things was happening at that point of course. All kinds of things. Mary Ann was up and about again, and so on. Mary Ann is pretty tough. Senora Gutierrez was imploring me and here I had picked up my things and sort of wandered outside and she had come too,stark as I was, and there was neighbors over there and neighbors over here and neighbors on tops of their roofs all having a circus, and Mary Ann would go in and out and back in the house and she was half naked, got rid of her hot girdle and running around showing off her big belly and titties, and when Senora Gutierrez observed that I was softening, or in any case was not capable of making any decisions at all just then, she stood wide on her strong legs and fists mashed on her hips stuck out her strong chest and she got domineering again. I was starting to realize how funny this all was and with her hollering in my ear I would smile at the neighbors and give'em little finger waves and I could see the Texas Gang was still popular as ever. Then, up rode Bix Bix! Wild Bill! Bix! Wild Bill! Bix! What is it, Wild Bill! We need you, Bix! Bix was real happy that he was needed. He rode up and down a few minutes waving his hat and the neighbors cheering and a pretty gal threw'im a rose and he caught it tween his fingers and the crowd went-Ole! -and he bowed at the pretty gal and rode up and down some more with it in his teeth, and we sure didn't need more pretty gals but that one was pretty well chaperoned by her people, thank God. Mary Ann was out on her knees with her fingers locked like she was in prayer, Bix, oh, Bix, Bix, Bix, thank God! Mary Ann liked Bix second to Packy. Bix had a great big wild horse and a big Spanish saddle and silver conchos and spurs and I guess a man gets into wearing all that shit on a horse cause it looks cultured, Bix said he wanted to look rich when he traveled and that he cbuld always sell that stuff if he had to and he was dusty but had on good clothes and a fresh red bandana and big white hat and was really something, mad cause he lost this stupid gal back at the ranch to Rattlesnake Dan McConchie that was going to eventually desert her anyway, and everybody wanted Bix to come out and find me, bring me in, and he had followed my trail to here, though he only had six dollars by then. Last thing he did for the neighbors before coming inside was whip by in a great cloud of dust and grab up poor Mary Ann in one arm.

With Bix there Mary Ann settled down and first give him a bath and then took him to bed with her and Senora Gutierrez let'em use the one big bed, in sake of peace and harmony at last. Rest of us was sitting around the table eating peyote again, had a Round Table for working out everybody's problems and we was all very close. The main problem as was finally understood was that little Felicia had never been kissed in all her life by a man and had been feeling lonely and left out of everything. It took us a while to get it all from her and piece it all together but when it was all clear and her sitting on a bench real snug tween me and her mother and by then all of us thinking we was Indians or the like, talking in dialects and so on, Juanita naturally took pride in offering up her man Hatch again. Hatch went along with this and in a big ceremony we spread down the blankets and mats and lit candles and Senora Gutierrez went out and gathered up a bunch of some kind of leaves and piled them in a artistic ring around the pile of mats and next we all give Felicia a hot bath, scrubbed'er down real good and anointed her with olive oil. All four of us picked her up and laid her down just right in this circle of leaves which was flickering orange and pink and purple and blue in the candlelight and her mother did some incantations over her but did them so long and drawn out that everybody got impatient and Hatch to where he was blowing weed smoke over it all and finally he just climbed down into this great big deep cloud of many colored smoke and disappeared for a time. I picked up a couple chunks of peyote and stepped outside for a piss. All the world was quivering and sparkling and throbbing and the feeling come over me that I knew everything. There be so many examples and cultures of man which can snatch a person away from their own self-wisdom. Elizabeth loved me but there run between us so much river apart of man's main flow that we never had any understanding. Well, I thought. It will just tak love and patience. Too, Senora Gutierrez is my friend, and I should play out the nature of things here. Senora Gutierrez had a couple rattles and tamborines and she and Juanita was going at it in there so I went back inside, and they had pulled the bench over the love bed and was banging and chanting and doing a rite for Hatch and Felicia. Like a calm wise man I sit down on the bench and munched peyote and observed the whole thing. Hatch was having so much trouble getting hisself into Felicia that he was every now and then forgetting what he was doing and Juanita would holler down at him amongst all the wierd noise the Senora was making and remind him and give him a few instructions. After a time he began to play out and didn't give a damn but by then Juanita had got so worked up that she got down in the center of the ring with them but this got Hatch so riled that he tossed Juanita back out. Goddamn, I can't handle more'n one bitch at one time, he said. By then Felicia had learned about thirty-seven lessons in the art of love and once Juanita was out of there she took over and I held Juanita on my knee and eat my peyote and kept'er from jumping back in there and Senora Gutierrez finally fell into a trance and laid down on the rest of the bench and the dawn broke quiet and beautiful and I seen Bix across the ring from us in a chair eating peyote too. Good morning, Bix. Good morning, Wild Bill. Sure is a fine day. Sure is. How is Mary Ann doing? Sleeping like a babe. Think we ought to get'er on up there to see Packy? Don't know, Wild Bill. We do that and the Water Hole Ranch will never be the same. Yeah. Yeah. We knew she'd find out about it anyway and we pondered what the solution might be. Juanita was quiet as a sleeping babe too now and there was silence a while and the colors coming in with the sun more and more wonderous. Hatch said, that you there, Bix? Yes, it is me, Hatch. I'm all played out, Bix. Don't know if I'll ever be the same in body again. My mind knows no limits ever but if I am still in­side this here body, which, come to think about it, I ain't. You want some help? said Bix. You want some help, Hatch? Hatch? Aw. It don't matter, Bix. Hell, give'im a hand there, Bix, I said. Hatch's voice come from the top of the ceiling cause he was not in his body, you boys'll have to move the body off the girl. So the body ain't in'er yet, Hatch. Naw. It ain't. Give me some help here, Wild Bill, said Bix down inside the ring. These two just about become one even if she's still a virgin. That's right, said Hatch from up at the ceiling. We just about did. I sit Juanita down and she flopped half across Senora Gutierrez and settled there. Felicia was panting and clutching out for a body so Bix went on and give'er his.

It was sometime around the midday Felicia lost her virginity. She lay in a fit of exhaustion though enjoying it and having pleasant visions and babbling and Bix got up on his feet and seen everybody else cept Mary Ann had gone to the river, even Hatch. Mary Ann called to him in her sleep so he put on his pants and a gun and got a big button to be eating on the way and went out to join us in rolling around in the river.


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