Chapter Nine

Jim Brownrat hacked, snorted, spit. He had lived a long ways ftom three years behind when all he could do was make cat and dog noises and thrash on his back howling for God. You think you seen a lot, he said to me. Just cause you got shot in the chest and had your heart broke, huh. Shit. Man, I was so scared I couldn't even go fishing. Tell us bout it, Jim, said mean bird Tiddle. You tell us how you did it, boy! Jim Brownrat hacked and snorted and spit. Uh-uh, he said. I asked him, maybe it was more disgust, or a bad mind, Jim? Maybe it was more a bad brain, said John, that reads some. Ee~emph, said Jim flapping his arms and shaking his shoulders. Now what I want to know, he said. H~w come Bill Olive never gets killed? Tell me that when you get ready. Well, Jim, Hatch don't neither. I don't take no fool chances, neither, claimed Hatch. Ybu're always getting your horses killed and you don't see me doing that. Shit! I am going with you guys only to see if I can get a case of law worked up against the locals, and if I can't do that I am leaving this bad country! Hey, Jim, I said. Tell you why I never get killed. Uumph! Reason I never get killed is cause I only fight against the evil and the stupid. Stupid man is easy to kill, and a evil man ain't got no good medicine cause if he did he wouldn't get hisself so twisted around nohow. Now is that a fact, said Hatch. Sure as shooting it is. Bet your britches. Well, let me tell you something, Wild Bill. You ain't so damn holy yourself. Bet you killed bout twice as many men as you can remember on a calm night! Richard, you make a man proud of the little things. Why, Wild Bill, maybe I'm just getting old so as I can't recall the ones I did in, but look here, here you went and did in four men just cause one of em shot your woman for ripping his ear off! You know you could of waited! It was five, Black Hatch, with your help, so thanks. You sonofabitch, Olive! So what's the point in it all? Why, Hatch, nothing means shit. Jim hacked, snorted, and spit in the wind. Damn you, said his brother. Jim wiped his own face. Eem! Yall stand clear when old Jim spits now, said Tiddle. He gives plenty warning.

I took the first watch that night, feeling a lot of old peyote. We had been getting clouds but now the stars shined clear with mucho color and I smoked weed and eat a antelope and drunk cup after cup of spring water and gained weight and heard the night clear down to the worms chewing in the earth. I had been awake a long time and was thinking I ought to get more sleep, build myself against all these visions. Saw the Devil, did not speak with him. The Senora visited, seperated from her fleshly interests and sit with me in our good friendship, giving me a good medicine. I saw clearly the poor young ranch hand that wept and wanted to know how I could talk to the rest of them about Jesus after hitting his friend in his cut stomach. This one was still alive, out somewhere, but I saw he had asked a serious question. Saw the one-eyed gunman, a tough sonofabitch, that would of gone stiff on that bar except the fool doctor had to go disturb his balance. Tim letter and his partner run out in the light of the fire, and my bullets, one and two, chop them like a blunt ax-though I didn't give that much attention to it at the time. I smelled the air, horses, riders, some miles out, Apache men, them of their one time nation, ones that still chose to ride against the great enemy of machines and telegraph wires and gun powder, and these men would ride and die and keep their strength, and I smelled the north, a colder wind coming through, seasons and a year grown over me while I sit naked on a mountain as men have.

The Water Hole Ranch was growing into a community. It was no longer just a ranch and traders come in and some priests, and men happy to have a home dug more irrigation ditches and made a couple more windmills and El Rio Grande was getting to be less out on the edge of it as it was more in the heart of it-just the trickle left in the river at this time of year but damned if there wasn't new adobe built and new washes hanging and com growing and more and more cattle passing through, and if the cattle was branded they went to Mexico, less maybe that's where they come from, and if they was not branded they stayed a while. It was kind of strange because this piece had not been a whole lot better than desert and now here was people praying to God and God just breathing back on them. Perez and Fritz had a influence and touch about the place, but many the new people hardly knew Perez and Fritz except on sight, and Manuel would ride in and stand apart and he was a certain force or Guardian Of The Universe and the new people was likely to know him, and as for the Texas Gang, they was known even less than Perez and Fritz and it was almost forgotten they was the ones had founded the place. Sieb laid in his hammock with his head wrapped up and played guitar, and had two pretty fat sisters taking care of his wounded legs and all his needs when they was not busy working or looking after their children and Sieb would have a fever one day and the next smoke weed and have lofty ideals and he was curing right along. Dan spent most his time with his woman and played guitar too and would get bored and nervous and a couple days a week help dig a ditch or build a corral or just take a ride because the Water Hole Ranch mystified him. Packy was one the people saw a little more, cause he liked riding around and giving orders and getting into things here and there, and Bowman they knew too, for the way he wandered about, but he wasn't too popular because he was not inclined to do much cept stand with his hands in his pockets and frown, though for a while he tried to sing with a marriache band but they did not like him much.

But, it was a gathering of life, a swarm of the bees, a busting open of the petals.

Old Dave come in one day, all in a dither, the missus with him, sweet Sherry of Laredo, and she was in a dither herself, pregnant and worried she was losing her baby. They come by train, then bought horses and buckboard in the town, and was pursued by Apaches most the whole way. Sherry claims she was never given a chance to follow her calls of nature the whole way, and they drove night and day, and when Apaches come Old Dave jumped and clapped and waved like a windmill and twisted little circles and lost his hat and did whatever else was necessary, calling out, Packy Gunter, Inc., Packy Gunter, Inc., remembering how a year or so before there had been this truce between the Apaches and Packy Gunter, Inc. He observed that most the time this seemed to work, but for about the last ten miles there was a little bunch of Apaches laughing and maybe under the influence of fire water and Old Dave brung his own fire water and as Sherry drove he would have a good drink and then get down and try for a shot with this big Sharps rifle he had, said each time the devils felt one of those rounds whoosh over their heads they scattered and settled back some, and Dave would have him another drink, say, atta gal, Sherry, keep them nags moving, and the horses was dying on their last legs, and soon Sherry said, give me that bottle, you beast! From there it was her doing the drinking, but Dave says it was just as well cause this give him more time to reload. Dave says they was just hanging to the trail and the Apaches still fading back in the distance and they spotted a gang of Mescans off stir­ring up a big batch of adobe in the hot sun and building a house and he said, my lord, where's the protection these men need? These people they was about to go ask some questions when next they saw more adobe and more people and a big field of corn with a bunch of pigs in it right up on the trail. Next thing they saw a man coming their way pushing a cart of oranges. My, wondered Sherry, where can he be taking those oranges? Do you think they are all friends of the Apaches, David? Don't know, but I hope so cause I got to get me a orange! Then the man with the oranges had to get out of the way of a big cloud of dust and this was a full score of well armed Mescan bandidoes. Mean ones, every one ofem had on belts of ammunition and at least a couple six guns and a rifle and a machete and a scar on his face and a big belly and you understood they just rode on through a place and never got off their horses till the job was done. They trotted two or three at a time on round Dave and Sherry, all ofem grinning with big teeth neath their moustaches, serious sonofabitches all right but nice fellers, and Old Dave asked the last half dozen, say, where are you going? Three of these drew in and one tipped his sombrero to Sherry, said, to Mexico! To Mexico, jaiee! Yeah? Say, where is Bill Olive? Who? Bill Olive, Wild Bill Olive. He killed a mountain lion with his hands, down there at the water hole, and made this ranch. Uh, we're at the Water Hole Ranch, verdad? Ah! Si! This is the Water Hole, Senor. Well, where is Wild Bill? Wild Bill, you say? Ah! I don't know him! You don't know him? Why, this is his ranchero, ain't it? Well, maybe, I don't know, Senor. You say, Wild Bill? Ah! He is not here! No? Why is that? Ain't this his ranch? I don't know, Senor. Maybe he went away. Well, ah, we come a long ways. We got to see somebody. Where is the big boss? Where is the Texas Gang? Who, Senor? The Texas Gang, where are the men from Texas? Los Gringos? Yeah, yeah, are there some Gringos here? Well, I don't know if they are here. Senor! With your permission, we have to go. Hey, you don't live here? Ah! Well, sometimes. We sell the cattle to Perez. We sell the cattle to Perez, Tb Perez? Si, Si, Senor, to Perez. With your per- mission, Senor. Adios, said Old Dave, Adios! Adios! Adios!

I dunno, I jus dunno, said Old Dave and his tired wife drove. They went past more people and along a irrigation ditch and next was caught in a storm of dust from a great herd of cattle some fellers was pushing one way or other. There was a confusion about something and Dave was not wanting to find out what about because he and the wife was a verge of falling in the ditch, and they come to a bridge, and got on it, and one wheel broke through the bridge, and Dave finished off his last bottle, all amongst the dust and cries of men and cattle, and his wife yelling hard, David! David! Get down, David! Get us out before somebody else gets here! Old Dave got down, looked around, oh, my lord, goddamn, found they was on a bridge of mesquite wood, which might had been all right if somebody had just took the time and put in more limbs crossing like was right. He grabbed the wheel, took in a lung of dust-aa.aa.aarrgh! And up she come, and Sherry got the wagon off the bridge next thing. Wait, wait, dear, wait, I got to get on, said Old Dave. They was off the main trail, which as it tumed was all right, because they run into this old geyser driving a buckboard of corn with a couple stout young mescans in the back of it, and he had a lot of wild white hair and beard and a corncob pipe smoking tween his tough gums and looked real happy, had a crazy look in his eye, said, howdy, neighbors! Hey! Hey, mister, said Dave, you speak English? Sure, he said with a quick stop. What do ye want to talk about, sonny? Well, sir. Then Dave saw a jug between the old feller's legs. The old feller was Fritz, of course, and there ain't none sharper and he said, you wondering what I got in this jug, are you, sonny? Why, I sure am. Have some then. Good corn, the best we got. Whoee, thanks! Whew! Aah! Good corn, all right. I sure needed that one. Then take another, sonny! All right. Say, son? Haa? Yeah? What's bringing you and the little woman way out here to the Water Hole? Welp. I used to have a brother here, and some friends, but I don't know if they kept the place or not. Hunting for Wild Bill? Yeah! Well, he ain't come back that I know about. But you can find Sieb .laying in a hammock straight ahead at the big house, right on the Water Hole, or Rattlesnake Dan about a mile to your left, maybe, and if you keep looking around you might even encounter Tom Treefrog or Packy Ratt, and them boys is all friends of Wild Bill's. And I can see you are too, so I hope you ain't so crazy as all the rest of em! Gidyap, gidyap! Fritz grinned and was on his way.

Them that know a little bit about Rattlesnake Dan might be wondering how was it he could stay out of trouble a entire summer. He wasn't exactly trying to stay out of trouble, but the summer went by and he was getting up in the momings, all edgy and rested and the Water Hole Ranch had him dumbfounded. Kept getting up earlier and earlier and his new little sweetheart, Clemencia, was pregnant, saying, Danny, wait in bed here, please, and Dan would tell'er to get him some breakfast and he would put on a gun and go take a crap and then he would move around talking to people, and maybe get back by noon for breakfast, or he would ride on out, thinking how he needed a break bad, but next thing wondering where in hell he could go to. He didn't want to follow Bix and see me just yet, so soon after their little fight, and there was nothing for him in Texas except bad feeling, and at ten miles out from the Water Hole with no rifle he would tum and come back in, looking and smelling and thinking, damn, we got a veritable kingdom growing up here. Hbw can we get rich when all the profits go into progress and breeding? All summer Dan's mind was working hard, doing too much looking back, but just taking to the wide sky without making him a decision, because the Water Hole Ranch had him dumbfounded. He was over talking to Sieb the day his brother and sister-in-law was making their way up the dusty road. A veritable kingdom, Dan was saying, laying in a ham- mock near Sieb's while the women run out from their chores to these posts of a never finished corral and filled their jars with cool pulque so they could strum their guitars better. When Sieb had retumed the house was being built up and hide was then staked out from the roof of it to give Sieb shade. Yep, we ain't getting rich, we're just getting crowded. Hell, ain't somebody getting rich out of all this? No, not much, not too much, not much yet cause Fritz and Perez are keeping track. Maybe Fritz and Perez are getting rich? Well, not much, no, not too much, why, just look at the way this place keeps growing, the babies being bom 'n all. Yeah? Well, haw haw, maybe this place ought to get a president, fore all hell breaks loose. Well, I don't know. Hell, Wild Bill don't like that, Dan, but hell, these people here ain't cultured, how can they live without lawman, all hell could break loose any time. Ah, well, Sieb, hell, you want to be president? Naw, not me. Me neither. Shit, won't be Wild Bill. Naw, hell, I bet Gunter would take it. Hell, I don't want Gunter, do you? Naw, shit. Yeah, shit, Sieb. We got a good thing going here, Sieb. Yeah, Dan. Shouldn't mess it up. Naw, we better keep the presidents out of this. Yeah, welp, guess if all hell breaks loose we could get together and sit on it then. Yeah, shit. Other night, had a man stabbed. Killed 'im. Yeah, and a killing on the range, but they don't know that one wasn't Apaches. Yeah, hell, Sieb, we just let 'em kill somebody every now and then, shit, it's only human nature. Yeah, I don't like to see a man hung. Me niether, gads, let 'em shoot 'n cut, cause I sure don't want to see a man hanging. Yeah, Dan, these people get along pretty good. Yeah, Sieb, only thing is, all this work going on, it makes a artistic man nervous. Yeah, me too, hell, I don't feel appreciated around here. I keep on putting out the word, how me'n Wild Bill fought off and killed that attacking force. But, Sieb, hell, we had already beat'em once. Yeah, but me'n Bill beat'em even better, no damn lie, and as you can see, it's a wonder that I'm still alive. Yeah, I can see you come off a hell of a ride. Hell, Dan, after that one on the top of my head, and that crawl over the dry country, why it is only lately that my brain gets to working normal again. Yeah, I can remember when I got ambushed, back there in Texas out of Austin. I had this one slug hit right here, see, you'd think it got my heart, huh, well, it was about a year later fore my poor heart had a regular beat down again, but you understand that it only greased my poor heart, and went along like this and knocked these couple ribs apart, and then it tore down in this lung, and down past here, and broke the rib here, and that bullet did a stop, flat as a dollar, right here, on top the rib here, and it had to be cut out. Danny, you make me plumb ashamed. Yeah, and I had one in the ass too, had to get that cut out later by a doctor fore I lost the ass and one leg. Man, you make me ashamed cause usually a good lung shot'll do a man in. Yeah, hell, you could do it, Sieb. Aw, I hope I never get shot again! Yeah, hell, I near died from it, but I was too crazy, I guess. Yeah, takes a lot to kill a crazy man. Yeah, it sure do. Well, what I'm wondering, are we going to live on this Water Hole and never get shot again, or what? Damn, Sieb, I don't know, cause I can't figure it out either. I can't neither. What does it all mean, hey, Dan? You got me, Sieb, but they're making some pretty good pulque here, and there's more leg here than you can shake a stick at. Yeah, but a man don't live on pulque and leg, alone, not no crazy man nohow. No, no, he don't. No, no, not no crazy man, and, Danny, I don't like saying it, but we are all crazy. Ah, shit fire, Sieb. Aw, well, man's got to have a little pride in something, and, I guess I just ain't got too much else to talk about after crawling over the dry country. Yeah, that was a good crawl, Sieb, real good. Thank you, Dan. Only way I ever crawl is if they shoot me in the head and both legs. Yeah? Haw, haw, haw! Yeah, they got to shoot you in the head and both legs first! Yeah, haw haw, then I'm going to try to run for it, haw haw! Yo ho, haw, haw, haw, you're a crazy sonofabitch, Sieb! Haw, haw, haw, thank you, Dan.

They was drinking a lot of pulque in the heat of this day and was going to piss out in this dusty road and Sieb had a crutch and was just getting around with a lot of pain, and they was pissing and laughing, haw, I used to think it is worse getting shot in the head than in both legs but now I think it's worse getting shot in both legs, when Old Dave and Sherry drove up. Sherry pulled the horses, oh, God, tell them to get out of the road! Haw, you're right, Sieb, I remember in Nuevo them Mescans hit me in my head with rifle butts, but you don't run on your head, haw, haw! Hey, Danny, it's me, Dave! Hey, Danny, it's me, your brother, Dave, get out of the way!

The next day Coonhound come in with Mary Ann and fifteen wild Niggers. They was a gang and I don't know if Coonhound picked them up inside or outside the town or run into them along the way but they was from Texas and they knew Coonhound. They was some pretty violent men and Coonhound liked'em all right but because he was not in his best fighting shape about six of them had been arguing at his decision of whether to be raping Mary Ann or not, and his decision was no and it never come to a fight cause they spent a lot of the trip fighting with Apaches, had lost one man and brung in three with bad wounds, and these was laid on the floor in the big house, one died in a week, and Mary Ann was give the last bed in there and Coon strung up a hammock next to Sieb's, and Dan stayed there too since his brother was visiting, and so Clemencia come over too. Coon told the twelve Niggers to go settle down somewhere, build a adobe house or something, and they didn't know nothing about that but went out and messed around, seen how big and bad was the Water Hole, and said, lawdy, we has got to tell the folks bout this!

Acouple days later in come Hatch, Jim, John, Tiddle, and I was not with them because I had got restless and turned back to see how Elizabeth was doing. While I was doing this, three ranchers, all with his deed from the govemor, showing how it was their right to divvy up the Water Hole Ranch, come into the Water Hole Ranch, and they was flanked by a troop of cavalry. Cavalry was searching for a shipment of rifles which had left Mexico and was expected to arrive at the Water Hole Ranch and next to be delivered to the Apaches. These men tromped on in one afternoon everybody was sitting at a big new table John and Dan had made for us, and John and Dan are carpenters and there was this little celebration for the finish of this grand table, and first you heard Sieb and Coonhound, troop, ho! Here comes the U.S. Army and most ofem Niggers! What do you think of that, Coon? Don't ask old Coon that, Sieb, she-it! They ain't my people, thems just more Niggers, Af-ri-cans, Africa is full of them people, she-it! As usual the troop was made to sit out there in the sun and try to keep the horses still, seventy, eighty them people, while the dust rose straight up on a quiet day and the ranchers and a couple officers walked in, seen at this big table, Black Hatch, Clemencia, Rattlesnkae Dan, Mary Ann, Packy, Tom Treefrog, Old Dave, Sherry, John, Tiddle, Perez, Tina, Fritz, Jim, two not identified Mescans, and only did Tina and Sherry have a shirt on, cause nor did Mary Ann, nor Manuel, that was sitting on a bench talking to the two wounded Niggers and the dying Nigger, or even the two women of Sieb's have no blouses or nothing on above the belly this day. Too there was a half dozen half naked women run­ning around bringing in platters of hot tamales and ham from the kitchen and the officers squinted through the weed smoke and said how they wanted the guns sent here for the Apaches and how every­body was going to have to get off this property because it now belonged to these three gentlemen here by the order of the Governor. Have a bit to eat, said Hatch. Nosir, we have got to look for guns, said a fat Colonel type. That's what we come for. We have got orders to search your ranch. Which of you owns this ranch? We have orders to take you in for questioning. Have a bite to eat, gentlemen. This ranch belongs to Wild Bill but he ain't here. Ybu come a long ways and you better have a bite to eat because as you can see it will take you about two days to search this place. No, no, I think we had best get on with our duties. Sir, said Black Hatch. Have a smoke, or have a cup of coffee, or beer, or pulque, or tequila, or com, because if you do not, I will be offended! My men are waiting, said the officer, and he did a step back, started to shout, arrest the whole ranch or some damn thing. All the men at the table, plus Manuel and the two wounded Niggers and the dying Nigger, now had at least one gun on the two officers and three ranchers. Ybur men can wait, said Hatch. They're soldiers, ain't they. Your men can wait, and you gentlemen can sit down and eat! We insist on the hospitality, gentlemen! I want one of em right here, said Packy patting a spot tween him and Tom. Yessir, I want to enjoy a good dinner conversation with the Military! Oh, let him sit on this side of you, said Mary Ann. I want to enjoy a cultured conversation for a change myself! Yessir, belched Rattlesnake. That would suit me fine! I hain't seen a soldier up close in a long time! This main officer, a Colonel or some damn old fat fart, was made to sit tween Mary Ann and Packy. The ranchers and other officer sit here and there, seperated from one another in this big sweaty and smoky feast, and all ofem had to eat. First, they was let eat what they called for, and they started out with coffee, then they had a little ham. Sieb heard how this was going on, hollered, give'em some Selenica's beans! She makes the best beans in the territory! Sieb hollered this a few times, letting the troops understand they had a wait ahead, and some the wild Niggers rode up, all ofem quite under the influence of marijuana and tequila, and they looked at the troops a while and drunk and smoked. Then, they said, why I bet you Niggers would like a drink. Water, said the black troops. Just water. Hey, fill them canteens, said Coonhound from his hammock. Them's come a long ways and they officers in there having wine and women and singing'n clapping and here them's come all this way and they canteens run dry and they got such a long wait in the sun, shoo! The Nigger Cavalry saw a few the half-naked women come out to draw water from the well and they felt deserted. The wild Niggers give the Cavalry Niggers water, rode back and forth getting two the women to fill up the canteens, till each the Cavalry Niggers had a full canteen and was not thirsty. Then, feeling better, the Cavalry Niggers didn't mind chasing the water with a few swigs of tequila and corn. Some even took weed first. Whoee, said the Sergeant. Why, my old head done cool off! Inside, the two officers and three ranchers was eating Selenica's beans, and these was real good beans with a lot of pork in them but a lot of chile too and it took a tough me scan to eat them with just tortillas, and the five guests got real nervous and hot and jumpy and drunk beer, had to follow each mouth of Selenica's beans with a big gulp of beer. Hbme brew, strong too. Sir! Rattlesnake bends around Mary Ann, looks hard at the Colonel while Mary Ann giggles cause his beard tickles. Sir, hain't no fair two swallows cool beer on top just one little swallow beans! That hain't the soldier's way, sir! Now his it? Colonel rolls his bug eyes down at the fierce snag tooth grinning head coming round the full and stark bust of the crazy woman. What? Rattlesnake says, eat them beans right! You want hurt Selenica's feelings? What, whispers the Colonel breathing like a train. Speak up, man, this woman's got'er tits in my ear, now what I want to know is, you going to eat them beans right or no! Mary Ann, says Packy coming round the Colonel. That man have his ear in your tits! Hem, hem, ahem, hem, giggles Mary Ann, and next comes Selenica pushing the back of neck of the Colonel with her own full and stark bust while she dumps more beans on his plate but maybe because she has a big belly it is more like one giant titty and the Colonel leaps in his seat like he was shot. Hey, Colonel, says Dan. You got heartburn already? Outside the wild Niggers and Cavalry Niggers was getting more and more friendly, and a couple had found they knew some of the same people back in Texas. A few more women had come up-if I recall there was even a whore house on the Water Hole Ranch at this time and knowing the situation they was down at the Water Hole taking baths, just around the bend of the house and from time to time in sight of the Nigger Cavalry. The Cavalry began to lose a little formation and stretch back a little to be seeing the women bathe. Most all the wild Niggers had come up and passed the troops weed and tequila and telling them what a fine place the Water Hole was, and a woman in the water caught the eye of one crazed soldier, yelled at him, one dollar, one dollar, and squeezed her tits and flashed her ass and the man lost his head and dismounted and run like a coyote for the Water Hole and the Sergeant missed it because he was saying, whoee, my poor old head sure has cool off and whens I get my leave I is sure nough coming back to here, whee! I is sure nough going to outrun every Pache in the territory, whee! At the table, the other officer, proud young sort, was took to eating chile peppers by themselves. Pass the chile peppers, he would say. Man gets hungry tween here'n the fort. Give me some that tequila, too. This went over well cause everybody else was real hungry too and wanted to finish their eating before it got interrupted too much, and after a little corn the three ranchers had decided to go on and fill their bellies too, thinking it was all just some kind of playing up to'em since they now had the top cards. They drunk the corn for guts and washed down the chile and beans with beer and the women kept the beer jars full, mixing marijuana tea with the beer, and by time the eating was slowing down and the early smoke mostly cleared out and the ranchers and officers well fed and drunk and burning up and swigging that mari­juana beer, Packy and Tom brung out cigar boxes, passed them around and the air turned to smoke again. Ah, what kind of tobacco do you have here, asked the Colonel. Old Weed, Gunter told him. Odd taste, remarked the Colonel, now with one eye more on Selenica. Yessir, give it a try, a full try, sir! It is a particular brand native to Virginia, grown off my grandpap's plantation, and one of the oldest brands in this country, and you know how old Virginia is, well, sir, my family was always good to their Niggers and proud of Old Weed and just barely managed to keep a few loyal people around, just enough, such as be old Tom Treefrog over there, to be keeping a good crop going, and, well, sir, and he don't mind me telling, old Tom Treefrog there is my bastard half brother! Treefrog was his mother's name, as she was half Iroquois and Treefrog is a Iroquois name! And, hang it, a fine and noble people the Iroquois are, too! Hum, has a rich, keen flavor, frowned the Colonel. The Colonel was thinking maybe now these people of the Water Hole Ranch had their bellies filled they was getting friendly enough to let him get on with his business if maybe he didn't arrest nobody and Selenica moved against him to get his used plates and he kept the cigar in his mouth and folded his hands on the table and the three ranchers and proud young officer did like him. Well, now maybe we can get down to business, said the Colonel. First, let me get water to the men outside. Lieutenant, he said quiet at the young officer. Go tell Jones to let the men and horses drink. They already are, said Dan, haw! You could hear the entire troop of Cavalry around back of the house at the Water Hole, with the horses and the eight or ten women that felt ambitious enough to be taking on a whole troop of drunk Nigger Cavalry, and the young officer bit hard on his cigar and stood and fell over the back of his bench. The Colonel waved at the smoke to see clear what happened, said, Lieutenant! You've had too much to drink! The three ranchers seen nothing was still not being done like had been planned and one got up, wanted to know where was the outhouse, and the other two clawed their way up to go with him. They was let run on out, except that one stepped on the dying Nigger, as it was getting a little dark in there, and the dying Nigger hung his teeth in the man's leg, and it appeared the other two could not even hear the man scream, for it was a fairly uproarious big room and there was too all kind of noise coming in from the outside and these two ranchers run on out, still chewing hard on their cigars, so said Sieb and Coon that watched them floundering around out in the dusk looking for their horses, while their terrified partner can't get free of the dying Nigger and pulls his gun and Manuel knocks him out with a fist. Next the Colonel was feeling all alone and thought everybody was against him and he got up and run along to get his men. He went outside, seen the two burning cigars and went and joined them. Where are my men! Sergeant Jones! Where the hell are them damn Niggers! They've deserted, the two ranchers told him. They stole our horses! let's go get the Lieutenant, said the Colonel. Nosir, we ain't going back in there! Them is not civilized people and they means to kill us all! Maybe they already killed your troops! Then where are the dead! screamed the Colonel. Hey, Colonel, yelled Coonhound in the hammock. That be Jones right behind you. Yeep. Where! Where is he? Right behind you, you big barrel of white trash! Right there! You blind! The Colonel had his arms out like a bird and was slowly turning around in little circles, yeep! He kept looking at the sky. He had lost his cigar but was as crazy as the two ranchers nevertheless. One of the ranchers fell and crawled on his hands and knees and that is how he found Jones because Jones was laying on his face. Arr­arrgh-h! With that, the rancher come to his feet and took to running. The other rancher was meaning to follow-Rick, hey, wait! -but old Rick looked over his shoulder, come out with a gun and fired, shot the other rancher in the foot. Jones sit up and saluted. That you, Jones? said the Colonel. Whee, my poor old head sure done cool off, said Jones. Jones, Jones, said the Colonel grabbing Jones. We got to get out of here, Jones! This place is full of Niggers and Indians, Jones, and they're trying to kill me! You don't say, said Jones. Well, I declare! Who's that? said Jones seeing the rancher crawling fast as a armedillo. Shoot him, said the Colonel, so Jones pulled gun and fired. I'in hit, said the rancher. Oh, God, I'm hit! Jones, finish'im off! The Colonel was all in tears. Finish'im off, Jones, please, hurry! Well, I'll try, sir, said Jones, and he took a careful bead, and fired, and missed. Oh, God, I'm hit, said the rancher that was now coming to his feet. Get him, get him, screams the Colonel. Well, sir, I'll do my durned best, said Jones. Jones fired again and this one knocked the rancher back down. God, I'm hit! Jones, wept the Colonel. Ybu saved my life. I will see that you are decorated for this, Jones. Why, I thank you, sir, But I think he's still alive. A bunch of the Cavalry horses was getting run off from the Water Hole and come on through the yard in the view of the Colonel and Jones. Them's the horses, said Jones. Sho nuff. The horses, said the Colonel. Them's the horses, sir. Get those horses, Jones! I'll do my best, sir, said Jones, and stood and saluted. Jones went at the horses and the horses come this way and that and next come ten more horses and they went right on top of Jones and next there was so many horses running round the house that the Colonel broke back for the inside, and even Sieb and Coon thought they best limp back in too. We're under attack, yelled the Colonel busting on in and followed by Coon dragging Sieb. Sieb explained, well, the Cavalry has now lost their horses! My men, my men, where are my men, cried the Colonel looking at the two naked women dancing on the table. Cbme to me, baby, said Selenica putting her big arms around the poor man. Yeep! What? Do you know where my men are? Si, come with me, baby, I show you. What, certainly. Selenica took him through the patio and up the stairway going to the roof and from there the other side of house, and she pointed down at the Water Hole, which was not in sight because it was filled with naked human beings. My Lord, I'm in Hell, said the Colonel leaning through the starlight at the fights and horses and busy whores. Nb, no, baby, you in Heaven, said Selenica pushing him down and doing his buttons. My Lord, the Devil's got my soul, said the Colonel and give in. Se lenica got off all his clothes, got him to stand up, and give him a hard push just as he brung her to his chest and they went off the roof and bounced off a horse and landed in the laps of a bunch of Niggers that was peacefully waiting for their turns. It was a little shock to these men and two took to whaling the daylights out of the Colonel and two to chasing Selenica, that, for all her weight, can move pretty good.

She pounced through the shutters of a open window and under a bed that had Fritz and Tina in it and Fritz hollered, damn the roof, and the two Niggers run over the bed and out into the hall and up and down and then got lost out in the patio. There was a mariache band practicing out in the patio, one feller singing in the most mournful and sentimental way because he was their big hope of getting famous. Hey, where that bitch go, said the two crazed half naked Niggers. They asked the Mescans and the Mescans didn't speak English and after a big argument one of the Mescans hit one Nigger in the nose. Both Niggers had their pistols but it wasn't good odds so they settled for a fist fight between the one and the Mescan, and as these two was circling and having their fist fight here run Selenica across the patio naked and screaming in fear. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! That was her! There she went! That's that high class bitch! Let's get'er! And the one got hit in the nose shook the hand of the Me scan that did it-all a mistake, sorry bout that, padre! -and they hopped back after Selenica. Locos! Locos, said the Mariache band. The two Niggers made their way on into the big dining room where there was more wine, more tequila, more weed, more Mescans, more women, and more Niggers. They blinked through the candlelight and smoke and lost their woman. They seen Sergeant Jones, very torn up and bloody, sitting over on the bench drinking beer with Manuel. They asked their Sergeant if they was still in the Army or what and Jones, a tough man, shook his head in sheer confusion, and lifted a thumb at Manuel. Hey, one said to Manuel. We still in the U.S. Army or what? No, said Manuel. Most the troop of Cavalry was coming inside and now all the Niggers was drunk and crazy and mad at everybody and wanting to get even with the world. The biggest Nigger in there was one from the gang Coon had brung to the ranch and this one wanted to fight Hatch. Cbon was sitting with Hatch at the table, passing the pipe, said, you can take'im, Hatch. I did once myself. His name is Peach and he big but he don't hit too hard. Come on, let's go, bare hands, said Peach. Why does he want to fight me, said Hatch. Why, Hatch, you should know that. Cause you is the biggest white motherfucker in here, is all. Hell, Coon, I ain't neither. Look at Old Dave over there. Hby, Peach, see Old Dave over there, now that's a bigger man than me. White trash. Let's do it with knives! You chicken­shit, white trash! Hell, Coon, you fight'im, if you can whip'im. I'm way too full. Hell, I just had ten pounds ham tonight. Black Hatch, now don't keep that pipe to yourself, said Coon. His name Black Hatch? said Peach. He don't look like no Black Hatch to me. I think I going call him shitass. His name just shitass, is all. Goddamn, I'm full, said Hatch. Everybody gots problems, said Coon. But, Black Hatch, I sure didn't know you was chickenshit. Coon! Goddamn you! I think I'll just whip your ass! Now see the way you talk, Black Hatch. You want to fight old Coon cause you think you can maybe come out even cause he has all the hide blown off one side of'im. I sure is un­happy with you, Black Hatch. Man, why, I thought you was brave! Coon, you black Nigger, said Hatch slow and standing up and tossing his arm at Peach's throat, but misses his throat and smashes his mouth knocking him on his ass. Then Hatch kicked too wide and hard and fell into a crowd of people. Man, I is real happy to see you going to try to whip the biggest Nigger in here, grinned Peach. Off with your guns, Hatch, hollered Coon. Not me, said Hatch, pulling guns. Blood went through Coonhound's eyes. Coonhound had been more sober than his usual so far this night. Kill every goddamn Nigger we have to, said Hatch. No, no, Hatch, said Old Dave. No bloodbath tonight, Hatch, said Dave. Oh, my Lord, goddamn! Hatch looked, seen the big crowded room filled with every race of man there is, seen what a big gun fight would likely do, that the Texas Gang would be lucky if they could just ride on out. All right, said Hatch, put his guns back. I still ain't going to wrestle on a full belly. But you, he pointed to Peach. I am getting you in the morning, and we will go any way you like! Hatch started out. Coon took his arm, looked in his eyes, Coon's eyes red and crazy. Black Hatch. Yep. I don't like Peach neither. Mind if I break his head tonight? Yeah, cause I want'im tomorrow, said Hatch. You yeller bellied shitass piece of white trash, Peach was saying. Coon still had blood in the eye. He won't wait till no tomorrow, Hatch. Yeah? Yeah. Then hold'im off, and I'll be right back. Hatch went out to the privy, and some of it he just threw back up. When he come back, Coon was sitting over on the bench by Manuel and the two wounded Niggers, and the dying Nigger, and was awful cross and mean. Peach was having his birthday, running back and forth yelling and grabbing tits and ass and about to get killed by somebody. Peach! Black Hatch come in. Peach! Hatch gives his guns and knife to Coon. Peach! Knives? Knives fine with me, said Peach. Fine, then knives? I'll take the knife, Coon. No, Hatch, said Coon. Bare hands, Peach, hollered Coon. I want to cut his belly open, said Peach. See what color his shit is! Bet it brown like mine! This fight is bare hands, said Coon I keeps your gun too, Peach. No, you ain't. You wants to be that white motherfucker's second, I get my own man. One of Peach's gang took his guns and knife and all the people did what they could to give the two men enough room. Hatch run on Peach sudden and Peach snatched Hatch's boot as it went in his chest and Hatch's fist flying over his head and Peach got a crotch and arm hold and took Hatch way over head and then brung him hard on the floor. Hatch told me he went a little crazy at that point and never remembered nothing about the fight till he had a knee crushing Peach's windpipe, but Peach was played out by then, with his teeth kicked out, one finger bit off, his lip ripped past his chin and one eye gone. They had also broke one bench and bruised a bunch of people that got in the way. Dave and Dan dragged Hatch off, hell, give'im a chance to live! The McConchie brothers had thought good there, because that let a little fresh air of peace drift back in the room, and a woman laughed in a hysterical way, and the Mariache band decided to play a polka.


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