Chapter Eight

We was sorta thinking that whereas all towns in New Mexico Territory was pretty much Catholic towns, we might wander to the north and come up on one these little growing communities that such was the town that was Sheriff James' and we took a pleasant journey riding through the country till the peyote we brung run out and then we come to the town that had been Sheriff James', forget its name. And I believe it was our destiny. I don't know how long we had been riding around but we was taking on visions by the day and still doing it all when the peyote was gone. The summer cooled and lifetimes of before and after the one we was on run by our faces, and some demons run on by, cause there was rough waters ahead still, and sometimes you get tired of seeing it come and would just as soon see a demon, and one day I come upon the old Arch Fiend hisself. The town was just over the rise and I had dumb up a drying crick to see should we bring the horses up for water and the others was all down below and grazing the horses and I found a pool and knew that soon as I drunk the body was going to relax and let the mind go wild and this was meaning a talk with the Devil. I ain't normally a man to conjure up the Devil, but I had this moment of weakness, you might say for the experience. Get thee from me, Satan, I said, and there he was. Didn't scare me like it would most and I didn't see'im in a form most would, don't suppose, hardly saw'im in a form atall, but there he was, said to me, so you don't fear evil, Bill Olive? Ah, hell, man, I been through too much, can't you see. Is that so? Then why do you look at me instead of what is over the rise? I took another drink, sit up, said, I got to go through it, and it's a tough one and the less I know about it the faster I'll get through it. Think you can get off scot free, eh? Think you can live without shame? Hombre, said I, I got it beat. What is my name, Mr. Olive? Then a awful disgust clawed over my body. I pulled my knife and raised on my hind legs, and a quick fever run off me and he was wiped out. Wild Bill wins again, I thought. I started on back down. Maybe I ought to get more sleep, I thought. What'd you see up there, Wild Bill, the Devil? Black Hatch and the women sit under a big tree. They had changed a little this summer, and Hatch was brown and lean and hair near covered his big neck, but as he had changed a wee bit to be fitting back in with the land the women had changed more. Senora Gutierrez was near sensible and Mary Ann was near sane. Everybody knew I had seen the Devil and they had also understood that over in the town was friends waiting for us. Must be Tiddle and John and Jim, Hatch said.

There was thought in me for Elizabeth. I held it quiet in front of the Senora and she never knew about Elizabeth, but by time we descended to the town, strong old feelings run in me and she knew there was some kind of memory of other female, and yet, looking at the Devil's little promise, I saw the coming pain was not about two women, that Elizabeth was far off yet and I had ought to be alert for something else. You love me, Bill? The Senora and I had grown closer. Of course, Senora, let us descend to the town. We all descended to the town, and rode on in. Me and Hatch rode in peaceable, wearing just our pants and knives, and our women rode strong and open as the earth and faithful. Understand, they had lost some weight, grown younger. They rode cross their horses bareback and natural and letting the air cool their thighs and run in their open bodies, and we allowed 'em to pass on out front of us and they showed their throats and laughed and was really something. By time we got to the telegraph office a lot of people was peeping at us. Ha, the flock gathers early, said Hatch making the stop to send his wife a telegram. She had not got a word from him since we left Juarez. Poor wife thinks I left 'er so I got to tell'er how I been! he hollered at us, spreading a little bunch of business men on the walk in his way. They was a pack of fat sorts, in fancy pants and scared, and they looked back at us on the horses and figured something was all wrong about something. I want a good drink, Mary Ann said and spying a saloon up the way. Hold on, Mary Ann, I said. You know how we ain't drunk in a long time and besides that I do know a sweet little place with a nice little squirrel for a bartender where I used to go do some drinking in. Oh, goody, said Mary Ann. After that, said Mary Ann and seeing to the business types hearing her, cause she was hurt and disappointed naturally that Hatch had to go telegraph the wife-I wants a good fuck! Now, now, Mary Ann, I said. All things shall come to pass. Let's not talk mean in earshot of them we come to set free. We sit a looking on these fellers, and we was just out of the mountains and desert and the town hemmed us in, and I don't know how these fellers was feeling, exactly, out from their little houses, but real directly they run along, like six crabs, down the street. In fact, when Hatch come out of the telegraph office he said he kept fearing the roof was caving in back in there. I couldn't see as that it was sitting still up there, he said. Well, Hatch, you might remember that most these things white man makes are holding to, even if they don't look like it. But how was the telegraph? Well, the telegraph moves, sure enough, and they keep it under control, too! Yeah, well, one of these days all this electrical shit is going to come out of control and then they will have a hell of a mess. Naa, Olive, they got it beat, and that's why I learned law and can stay on top ofem in their own way. We rode to the little squirrel's bar and me and Hatch hanging back of the women and talking about these things. I don't know, Hatch, maybe a little firewater can let me settle down to what we're talking about here, let me squint my eyesight some. Maybe it can, Olive. I'm still seeing a few too many demons and angels and lightening bolts myself. But remember, Olive. All this to one side. We're going in the little squirrel's place and we're going to talk about Jesus Christ! Right, Hatch. But don't think we ought to eat first? Ain't had no meat since two days ago we eat that man's steer and yesterday we had berries. Man, I could eat another steer first. Hum, you got a point there, Olive. But now our horses had come right to the squirrel's place and stopped. The women was already quite aways up ahead and showing off and laughing hearty. Hey, you women, come back this way, we said. It took a little bit to get us all back together and get organized but this also got us a pretty good audience started, in and outside the bar and most of them went in with us and the little squirrel never seen such business before. He went crazy, right at first, we could see that. A long line of cheerful fellers leaned on his bar, thinking they had a circus in town or something, and he went tapping every man on his elbow, gentlemen, do you want something to drink? The bartender went scampering back and forth and hopping and skipping and just the tremendous amount of work by itself was too much for him to hold in his little head, but we was thinking to be nice to him and lead'im free the trap he'd been in his whole life, and was saying, bartender, hey, bartender, we're going to give a sermon in here-that all right with you! No trouble, no trouble, no trouble, please, gentlemen, no trouble, I'm just a poor bartender, what do you want to drink, sir, do you want something to drink, if you do not want something to drink you must let another man stand here that does, please, gentlemen, no trouble, please, do you want something to drink, sir, what, oh, I'm sorry, didn't mean to spill it, eek, didn't mean to spill it, all over your new Stetson, look, sir, didn't mean, eek, no, please, I'm just a, eek, no, please, gentlemen, poor bartender, poor little bartender! We give up in getting any official permission from the bartender and jerked a table in the middle of the floor and Hatch jumped a top it and commenced to holler that it was sermon time, time for a sermon now, and I told the ladies to be dignified now and sit them in chairs next to the table. Love is the way, said Jesus Christ, Black Hatch said. Why, love is the way, said Jesus Christ, Black Hatch said. Why, love is the way and we're here to prove it! The men in the bar were rough types, which is why they come in the bar to see what was going on, ranch hands and drunks and the like, and at first,they thought the wild men were up to some kind of act of blasphemy. I could see some of 'em figured Hatch'd get struck down by a lightening bolt anytime and some others thought he was kinda funny for having that much gall and I picked up a drink and threw it in me and felt peyote rush through my brain. I looked at the faces of all that heathen and they was really something. It is within each man that he be immortal and free, said Black Hatch. Why, each one of you can be a little Jesus hisself, yessir! I got a refill from the bartender quick like and drunk it as he was going the other way and he just turned right back around give me a whole bottle. But he wasn't a bartender for nothing and crazy along with it he was still getting enough change from off that bar. He would have three and four people buying rounds at the same time up and down that bar. Eeek, pay for your drink, mister, pay for your partner's drink! I took a good swig and brung the bottle to Hatch and he took one, then the Senora got it. Why, this here man, Wild Bill here, he's healed wounds hisself be­cause I've seen'im, went on Black Hatch, and the crowd started hearing him out more, but it was the biggest crowd I'd ever been in and I was wishing I had at least one gun on. Well, he can heal mine, some sonofabitch was saying, well, he can heal mine! I was getting nervous and told some men to get back off from the ladies and be polite now and they backed off saying how they wasn't doing nothing and the Senora already had one big leg laid on the table and the bottle between her legs and I said, damn, now give me that bottle, Senora, now keep your legs together and be dignified, and next a big black feller had the bottle out of my hand and in his mouth. Keep those pigs away from me so I can get some air, said the Senora a little mad that I was scolding her in public, but I was grabbing hold of that black feller's gun under the buckle of his belt and then as we come together I seen I knew him, because it was old Coonhound. Old Coonhound! Same old Coonhound all right, all hot and a insane look out his red eyes and he looked at me a flicker with the bottle in his mouth, then back up at Hatch, sneering at Hatch, said, give me a drink, Bill. Well, he can heal mine! this sonofabitch out in the audience was still saying. Then you heard these three cowhands bust through the doors, whoopy ti yi yay, whoopy ti yi yay! Shut up down there so I can talk, Hatch told them. Well, what are you talking about that's so goldurned important? said one. Talking bout the Lord, talking bout Jesus, said Hatch. You don't look like no preacher to me, said the other. He ain't no preacher, said Coonhound. The three cowboys, been working hard all day, took a fast look over at Coonhound, and decided to take a side with the big Nigger. Yeah, he sure don't look like no preacher to us neither, they said. Hey, was saying the sonofabitch, trying to make his way over to me now. Hey, you heal this here slice I got in my belly from my Mescan gal friend and I'll buy you a drink! Goddamnit, said Hatch, I ain't no preacher and I am just telling you people the gospel and if you don't shut your mouths I'm coming off this here table to do you in! You don't know nothing, Hatch, said Coonhound. Get off there, Hatch, you don't know nothing! Olive, snarled Hatch, come up here and give your turn while I come down and ~mish the fight me and Coonhound was having in the norther! You don't know nothing, Hatch, said Coonhound. You can heal my wound right now, was yelling this little fat drunk of a ranchhand and now showing me where his gal cut him, and I was already working on what I would say to the crowd, not wanting to listen to his bullcorn about healing his wound, so I turned to him and lifted my hand a little, said, it's healed, you sonofabitch, and picked him off his toes with my fist up in his guts. Most men in there never saw another man hit a man like that with his hand and I didn't even look down at that sonofabitch, said, sonofabitch, it will heal now I promise you if you don't die of the cure first, and I dumb up with Hatch, and people was getting more quiet now. Here is Wild Bill Olive, said Hatch. He can tell it bettern'n I can! Hatch jumped down but he and Coonhound started arguing. Shutup, Hatch, I said, damnit, I still can't talk! You don't know nothing, Coonhound was saying, and the three just come in had lost a little heart when I hit that feller but they got it back on hearing all this from Coonhound and they come over to be with Coonhound and one said, I don't think either of these tramps know nothing at all, and next the Senora, that already had got the bottle back from Coonhound, upped and broke the bottle cross the ear of that one, did it in a nasty way too. Coon- hound took the next ranch hand, brung the man's arm up on his back, said, you white motherfucker, and broke the man's arm. You had these ones now on the floor in little knots and this one about to do a standing shit, and Hatch shook old Coon's hand. Guess you know a white man when you see one, Coon! Why, I sure does, smiled Coon- hound like he was eating chicken pie. There was some other Niggers and half-breeds and general riffraff in the crowd but everybody seen Coonhound was no kind of regular Nigger, whether he be gunman or thief or nothing, and we began to get even more quiet after that. There was a strange force come over the Senora, too, and she was no longer needing to show off her voluptuous build but you might expect her to pull a knife from her boot and whack a man's ear off for fun. Hey, you bartender, she said. You bring another bottle over here! You had Mary Ann at the other side of the table jabbering in her way. Oh, Senora, really! One more drink and I'll go crazy and then what will I do? Just sit there and keep you legs closed and be dignified, I said down at 'er, and spoke to the audience, ah-hem. What I have to say to you people you have not heard before. It is true that we are talking about Jesus, yes, this is a fact. All your lives you have heard about Jesus Christ and God and so on, but it can only be understood by looking at it for being real life. Why did you hit my partner where he'd been cut? yelled out this feller Hatch and Coonhound had let stand, and he swallowed off a drink a friend he had in there had given him and he stood red and mad and tears running and arms all tight. I am not perfect, I said. I was using English without error such as my mother had showed me a long time ago when she taught us to read books. At first I didn't even know how I was doing this, cept that Hatch kept yelling out, foresooth! Told me later how he'd seen this play in England once about Robin Hood and that I was talking just like Robin Hood. Foresooth! This he said everytime I made a good defense or slung some good words together. Everybody would turn and see Hatch when he did this, then they would all turn back at me to hear what else I had to talk about. Senora, I whispered, keep a eyeball out for them at my back now! If you ain't perfect, said the crying ranch hand. Why are you up there talking to the rest of us about Jesus? Ah, my little man, I said. Ybu have presented a good point, yessir. But I see the case as this. Everybody has something to do in this world, something to do that will make it easier for them after they die, something to do that will make it easier for them to be born again. Hallelujah, said a drunk. Quiet! said Coonhound. Silencia! said the Senora, and you never saw a tougher woman. Dear me, said Mary Ann, and I said, as I learn this thing about Jesus I tell it to the rest of you, for to do so appears to be my calling. The Great Spirit Of All Things calls to me and I hear this call and I take heed of it, because, way it is, gentlemen, we on the earth cannot understand everything, we can only know that it is all right. What, what, said some men, and the cowhand had quit crying. Yes, gentlemen, the Great Spirit Of All Things calls, like a great lone wolf deep in the universe, and it calls to us all, and if you know that man and life is all right, then you follow your nature, which is to say that you follow the nature of the universe! Are you a injun, or a Christian, said the same drunk and I believe this was the number one town drunk now since they had hung the other one. I am a man, I said. A man! Man! Hombre! All babies are the same and you know it, you drunk! I ain't drunk! This town drunk tried to make his way to my table but the crowd was thick and he next was climbing the bar. The bartender was still pretty busy but giving me a look every now and then. Somebody hollered was we Christians or was we not and Hatch said foresooth. We are Jesus Christ men, I said. We believe like Him. We want to follow His way. For His is the will of God and to go against God is to wallow upstream in the universe. Yeah, then what's this about the Great Spirit? That's Injun talk. Why, you stupid cur! A Indian is a man and the Great Spirit is God and man is a replica of the universe or so to speak is made in the image of God, and all babies are the same naturally, just that we each got caught on different snags, in different whirlpools, and some people can spend a whole lifetime or morejust in the same damn whirlpool! Foresooth! The drunk was now tottering on top the bar and he too said, fore sooth! By God, I used to read Shakespeare too, he said. Who made God, hollered a fool. Who made God? Huh, why God is a natural state of things, you fool! Why, there is just no other possibility! I thank you, hollered the man again, and I seen'im for a tall thin one-eyed gunman. Forgive me my ignorance, sir! And I bet you know all there is to know, too! Then we had us a big question and answer situation, they would ask ques­tions like what was these whirlpools I was talking about anyway, and I was whipping off long-winded answers left and right and near fast as they shot'em at me and I always got around to every man's question, and I was dancing up there, and Coonhound was clapping and dancing, and the drunk fell behind the bar and the bartender ran away from him and let him climb back up and he did this a few times, and a brave soul come up and dropped a silver dollar on the table and the Senora took it so he dropped two more and she got them too so he stood back and sneered and she stuck out her hand so he had to give her a couple more and then he went home. Cburse, thing of it was, and I saw this, these men was all too dense to be getting any religion this day, and too I was hungry enough to eat one of their horses, so hungry I forgot what I was up there for and thought about meat, run through my mind, horse, cow, pig, pictures ofem, deer, goats, Now I don't eat horses, less I have to run one to death and hide out with it or something, cause I am a horse riding man. Olive! You're doing real good, snarled Hatch. Don't just stand there! He doing good, right, Coon? Right, he doing real good! Hell, you're doing good, Olive! Hell, Hatch, you get up here. Let me take a rest fore I starve to death. You'll dance! That come from the one-eyed gunman. You'll dance, and you'll sing. Get on it now! Here I was weak from hunger, and no gun, and a surprise hit and run through my belly cold. Had not seen the man was this mean. There was a lot of people and they bumped and twisted and crashed and rolled like a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Mary Ann went under the table, like a lot of other people, and the Senora was on the table as usual to protect me and I was wondering where the hell could we jump to, fore the table went down and it sure was going somewhere and too I was seeing a little more to the situation, that the gunman had some people In, which is why he was that crazy. I mean, he was crazy for more reasons than that maybe he was dying slow of consumption and his old mother was ashamed for him in the meanwhile-and he maybe thought his four bad men with him give him room to have a little fun, but he didn't know no history bout us, and the squirrel bartender, turned out the bartender was more the scared mean rat in this case, pulled loose his shotgun, and crazy, I seen it. Hatch throws his knife, gunman dips behind a running man and knife knocks sparks off the man's skull, and first firing is Coonhound and one of the other killers, a black one, something personal, and Hatch is taking a gun from a man that turns out to be stronger'n old Hatch thought and the man thinks Hatch means to kill him, not just take the gun, which he might had just let him borrow. Just about had to kill that boy, Hatch told us later, and almost broke my finger by catching it in his trigger! I couldn't reach the one-eyed gunman in just one leap but pushed the Senora down and bounded away and the bartender fired straight ahead and wounded a gunman and a drinker and a horse outside, and glory- be here was Tiddle and John and Jim from out of that big crowd, had just got there too, figuring the best place was off back of that bar and from there a firing on the one~yed, got him all together In three surprise rounds that twisted him like a vine with one arm straight overhead, and there he stayed, and Coonhound and the black one shot one another and two more people, and I go crawling under everybody to see what we got left. This was two, behind a table by the door where a bunch of people was rolling around hurt and thinking they was, and the two fired at the bar some rounds and Tiddle and the Brownrats ducked. The bartender didn't duck but was reloading and them behind the table said, let's call it off! At this point them was able and had not got out of there did, and this was taking away my cover and the Senora sees me making my long way to maybe get the two and she stands, says, stop the fighting, and the feller which had his ear raked off by her bottle-he is still in there, and the one with the broken joint and the one I'd hit in the guts, all from the same ranch-he is following his friends and everybody out, turns with his gun and shoots the Senora. Bullet broke on through her body and she went on a turned over chair and could not get off it and a strip of guts hung under her and she moaned in a terrible way. Mound my end of the bar next is John shooting up the table of the two, then Tiddle and Jim doing this at the other end of bar, tearing the table apart and the men behind it, one of em standing to die and I had to get through all this before I could get to her. You had the onee-yed hanging on the bar like he was very drunk. You had Coonhound shaking hands with the dying Nigger he fought it out with. So long, Jack. So long, Coonhound. See you next time. Coonhound was hit, not too bad, cross the ribs think it was. You had Tiddle and John and Jim shaking hands with the bartender. You had a handfull of people waiting for a doctor, or something, one man with a broke leg. YOu had the horse dying outside. The poor soul that Hatch beat up able to walk and leaving after Hatch give the gun back. Hatch getting his right trigger finger examined by one of the couple doctors that come in there with the law people to straighten out the big mess. The Senora died in my arms. She never could talk after I held her together and got her off the chair and she was all tore up inside and hurting and passed out and I sit thinking maybe a half hour. How you doing, Big Bill, Tiddle said to me. He liked to call me Big Bill. He said, man, it surprised me more people didn't get hurt in here! Yeah? Look, I'm going outside and eat that horse. What! What! What, they said. You in your right mind, Olive, said Hatch holding blubbering Mary Ann. Yep, made my mind. Been sitting here too damn long now. Got to get some meat. I carried the Senora out by that horse which somebody had shot in the head and had took the saddle off of. Hell, Bill, let's go across the street to eat, Hatch said. Takes too long, I said, starting to cut. You going after that feller? Sure. Well, I'm going back to my wife and kids. My finger hurts. I stripped off a piece of meat and cut and eat. Bill. You know, I sorta had some hopes on the Jesus thing. Jim Brownrat hacked and snorted and spit and said, you fellows was really going in there, wasn't you! Goddamn, I couldn't believe it all! I didn't like it, said Tiddle. Damn people, Hatch said. Hell, we didn't want to wait to go to heaven. We wanted to be immortal and free right now! Well, maybe next time, said John.

Give me some that liver, Bill. You going after them fellers alone?

Coonhound come outside. I needs rest, he said. Coonhound took Mary Ann to the Water Hole Ranch. He took the body of the Senora, said he'd bury her on the way, show me where later on. Said he could find the way to the ranch. Said he wanted some rest out there.

Me and Hatch was on our horses belching. Tiddle, Jim, John coming too. We had got it from some people in there what ranch it was. We didn't know if we could catch 'em fore they got home or no. They had this hour start on us and it was no. They did not live too far out and we looked down at the ranch and seen the bunkhouse lanterns burning. Must be patching up his piece of ear, said Jim and hacked and snorted and spit. He was bleeding like hell before the big fight. It has been a hard ride for'im, I said. How you feeling, Bill, Hatch said. The man dies this rught. I need to be alone in my head or maybe with the Senora, but I sure can't be with him in there. Well, you know, said Tiddle. A woman cuts a man's ear off, she might get shot. Well, you know, Tiddle. Man shoots my woman he better shoot me cause I'll shoot him. Senora Gutierrez had her faults but she was a fine woman. Well, she was yours, Bill. Right. Right on that. We rode down. A corral cleared in view and we seen a cigarette burning, sentry. He called to us, who are you! You want to know! Damn right! Wild Bill Olive! Huh! We come on in. Hold on there! I said hold on there! Hold on to your pecker, you sonofabitch! Now I was not being careful. I didn't want to look into the eyes of the feller I come after. I had my lust up and my company hung with me even though they did not approve, exactly. We was spreading in the dark and the watcher spit away his cigarette and from his voice you knew he moved, said, I'm shooting! Before you do! Before you do! I want one thing! Ben! Ben, a voice was calling, a other watcher running in. I want one thing! What! You got a man in there with his ear cut off! He's only a boy! Yeah? Yeah, only a boy, nineteen years old! Got his ear cut off with a bottle? Yeah, by a whore in a saloon. I wanted to shoot the man for calling the Senora whore. Course he didn't know no better. I was quiet now and the man said, hey! Another two or three run in and we had started backing off, but some fool in the bunkhouse opened the door holding a lantern, and one of the watchers cussed him just the instant edge of Hatch shot him, hoping to get the lantern busted inside, but the man stepped outside and fell down on it, and started a fire. A funny thing, said Hatch. Everybody we fight is real dumb. Hee-ee-ee-haw-aw-aw-aw! I was trotting to where I felt I could work out of and rounds went above me, one and two and I leaned off my horse and number three hit my horse next to my leg, and he went up and I took my rifle and slipped .off, looked for where he would fall but he didn't, just kept running and dying. Wild Bill! Hee! Eee~eee! I shot when a man tried to reach the fire, one, two, three rounds. I put a couple into the bunk­house. My compadres run on out and then on back in, using rifles at the bunkhouse. Hatch cdme to me quiet. Bill. You want to do it from here, or what? Give me a box of cartridges, Hatch. Here, Bill, look. You want to do it from here we'll mess around in the dark. Yeah. Too many to get in close on. Yeah, I said, fired inside the bunkhouse door. We'll try to catch your horse. All right, he's done, but there's bullets and stuff. Some rounds come over my head and Hatch moved on and I did too, and got down, walked in closer off another side. Two tried to get the burning body and I was getting my rifle up and out of the dark come a round ripping a man across the shoulder. Somebody busted loose from the bunkhouse and got in the dark and I cussed real worried it was him I was after. It was slowing down and the body burning out and I feared the other people in the bunkhouse would get free. I saw the two windows on this side, one big enough that a man could break out of it, and I wondered what they had on the other side, and crept around and in. I was wondering, how reckless should I get. A round would smack the bunkhouse, somebody got nervous and fire out at it. Some more people was next the corral or other places, the rancher with'em and maybe some family. Wasn't a real big ranch. They sit quiet and I was barefoot and come in. A real quiet moment I heard a man say, what is it, the Water Hole? Naw, Water Hole never come out. Water Hole don't fight. They want Tim Letter. Hell. Tim bleed so much he can't run, good he got to here. I come in on the other side of bunkhouse, seen the bunch crouched at the end talking. Hell, let's get some horses and go after them bastards! I waited for'em to do this. Please don't shoot, men, I thought. Let'em come. Let'em come. Hey, others was hollering from inside now. Can't take no more this god­damn smell and we're coming out! Cover us! Run on out, somebody advised them. Run on out. We think the cavrones left. By and by, this is the way they did. Gathered outside real careful, run and got horses. I stepped in. Heard'em running around in the dark now. Some shots. Maybe there was a silly little chase on. I put down my rifle slow, crawled alongside the bunkhouse. They had a tree near and I had kept a eye on it but thought nobody was there till on my belly I heard a little cough. I smelled that the burned man was pulled off and I come .around, looked, waited, heard one at the corral again, heard one inside talking low to Tim. Shit, I thought. Work and trouble. I needs rest. They had a lamp burning low in there, and I thought, too much creep­ing around. I picked a rock, threw it up where the branches of that tree should be. Rattled the sentries and they was carrying on. Hey! What! Rock! Hey! What! Rock hit my tree! What bothered me was the door to the bunkhouse was locked. Tim screamed, they're trying to get in! I squatted and took a big leap, grabbed the roof, flipped myself on up. Whoo-ee, I sit there real quiet. They're trying to get in! No! No, Tim, ain't nobody here! They tried to open the door! Hell, they threw a rock at Jake's tree! They threw a rock at your door is all! I seen there was just the two men out, and the one in with Tim. Hell, I tell you, they tried to open the door! Tim is right, said the one in. I think they tried to open his door. Well, sonof­abitch, then one of'em is a Indian. Couldn't be more'n one, could he, Jake? Naw, said Jake. Maybe the wind did it. There ain't no wind! Tim said. Sure there is, Tim! Not that much wind, damn it! Damn, I lost so much blood today I think I got to vomit! I was seeing the shadow of the one at the corral, moving all around, and I thought I ought to get finished before the others got back, and I followed his shadow and put a bullet through him. A whole bath of sweat poured off me, expecting some rounds through the roof, but funny thing, they was more confused than ever. Hollering, and Jake firing his rifle, more to be bringing the others in than anything else. Tim was hollering. Tim and the one inside was off down the end of the bunkhouse from the door and a plan run in me to get their lantern. I dropped down and slithered round about to Jake's tree, but by time I got there Jake was leaving, shooting at something, and I shot him through his back of heart. I run down to the nearest window to the lantern, took a quickest peep, then recollected what I had seen. Seemed both Tim and the other was back at the other end, at the door, but had took the lantern. I knocked the glass window in anyway. Hell, the ranch looked deserted. Tim and the other began to shoot and carry on, and I run and got matches out of Jake's pocket cause I didn't have none cause mine was on my horse and I next run off to their barn. I got a big load of hay and rushed on back, quiet, and one was shooting out of that busted window at something in the dark, a dog maybe, and I busted a little window on the other side by the door by pushing in the load of hay, started throwing burning matches. They stomped the hay at that window and I fired once in it, ducked and run back around. They didn't have no organization, and with one stomping the other shot out of the window. I whipped up and fired through this window baGk around, and the room was full of smoke and I couldn't see and they shot over at my window though I was back down. What do I do next, I laughed, giggling like a kid. You sonofabitch, you got the bed on fire, Tim said to his partner. I upped and got the roof again and come across it just as they was opening the door. They come out and I shot them each in the back of the neck, so easy.

Bunkhouse was blazing when I hunkered back on our rise to breathe and Hatch and the others rode by me not even seeing me but looking down there. Lbok at all them mad people, Hatch said. Wild Bill must be crazy to mess around like that. Maybe he doesn't care, said John. Ah, he must of figured it was worth it, said Jim. What's your stand, Tiddle, I said.

We took the rest the night getting over to that Mescan woman's cafe, and got'er up to make a big breakfast. We drunk a lot of coffee and eat a hell of a breakfast and she knew a man that would sell me a horse. We talked while we was waiting for the man to come with the horse. Tiddle said he thought the Devil had won this one. I don't care if he did, Hatch said. I'in getting out of here. Gbing back to my wife and kids. Ah, shit, I said. Devil ain't got my soul. I don't even believe in the Devil. What was it you see then? Tiddle asked. Well, I don't know, but I think I was seeing the death of Senora Gutierrez. She must of been something, said Jim. What kind of woman was she? She was all woman, let me say that. What's so special bout that, said John. Lot of women are like that. Nbw that ain't true, John. That just ain't necessarily true. It ain't? Naw. Se nora Gutierrez had spirit. She had character. The world mourns her loss. You don't seem to be mourning that much to me. I am very unhappy. Some emotion in me died with her. So what? What do you mean, so what? What's so bad about that some emotion died? If you don't feel no pain, what are you worried about? Not feeling the pain is the Devil, John. Huh? Thought you didn't believe in the Devil. Well, I do, damn it. The Devil is death. God is life. I got a death in me. Wild Bill is growing old, said Hatch, heh. Hell, Bill, you'll get over it. Me, I'm just going back to my wife and kids, that love me. I sit still. Feeling it deep in me, the coals of my soul. Now, I'll admit the Senora was quite a woman, Hatch said. When Wild Bill says she was all woman, she sure was, whatever that is, heh. I felt the heat grow, slow, but coming, just some kill lust to start with, but that counts something. She was a woman, I said. She was a little crazy, but she had the Mother Rhythm. She loved me. Loved me more n any woman I ever had. Good thing I killed that sonofabitch. Soon as I said that one I was empty again. I played some more with my bleeding soul. Sure didn't want that little sonofabitch on my mind, I told them. They grinned and I liked that, but it wasn't the conversation my soul needed. The Senora was a big woman, I said. She was a big woman, Tiddle said, drinking her a coffee toast. I sensed a love in me for mean bird Tiddle when he did that one. I near wanted to cry and weep for God. Well, I started crying. There, there, Wild Bill, said Hatch.


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