I didn't know no better than to ride into Sheriff James' town in daylight. They was some mighty unfriendly people staring, and I brung my right hand from its sling and scratched the back of my neck, and dropped it way down by my other gun, and the knife, permanent, and looked around. Bunch of Mescans waved, let me know that there was something up, and I give a wave with the carbine. Some Gringos was down at the mouth, but they looked whipped. Next thing, the Mescan sheriff halloed from the door of his favorite bar, and I brung the Apache Horse around the railing on up, but the Apache Horse feared any kind of a building. Come in for a drink, said the sheriff. My horse don't drink, I said. He looked to see if the Apache Horse had the spirit of a man or devil or something in him. He just a horse? I reckon so. Apache Horse was backing off and the sheriff said, come to the jail to see your friend. All right. Who is in jail? Packy Gunter is in my jail. He won't get out of my jail. Apache Horse would not go in the jail, and I didn't want to get down anyway so went to the alley and talked to Gunter through a window. Gunter looked out the window, real careful. Olive! Get out of town! Why, Packy, what happened to you? Olive, let's get out of town together! I want you to be here one hour fore dawn! We'll go to New Orleans! Gunter was all a tremble. His face was beat up and something was back in his eye pits. They finally got me, Olive! Who did? I don't know because I never kept track, because all this here country is crawling with people been after me from years back! A bunch of 'em finally caught up with me and shot me and jumped on me with a horse and I am crippled for life and can't take care of myself no more! How come you're in there! Safest place in town, Bill, safest place in town! Where are them that did all this to you? Still looking for me, Bill, they're still out there! How'd you get away? They stopped in this town for a drink, Bill! I was passed out and tied over a horse, but Coonhound is at Beth Trudeau's, and he sneaks around at night, and he killed my guard and brung me here! I never remember because I was in bad shape but they think I killed my guard and they're all still out after me! You know how they all think all us Texas Gang is so tough! It ain't true, Bill, but they don't know no better and they damn near killed me just messing around with me and all that when after I was all fucked up and my leg is broke and ever time I sleep I think I'm back in their clutches! Gunter cried and from there it was hard to keep things straight. Sheriff, I called. We're taking him out of here now! No, no, cried Gunter. The sheriff come and was pretty good, poured a lot of tequila down Gunter. Mrs. Trudeau was notified, and she come fast in a wagon, Cynthia driving. Bill, oh, Bill, said Mrs. Trudeau, and I said, look here, Gunter is in a bad way, let's get'im to your place right now!
Me and the sheriff carried Gunter out to the wagon and he was drunk and broken up and not too much trouble, and we dumped him in the wagon. I said, stay low, Gunter, case any of'em are looking! Hi, Bill, said Cynthia. You look near bad off as this pile of shit back here. She rode Gunter hard on back, when she took a corner knocked hell out of a drunk Indian sitting in the road, and I loped behind and Mrs. Trudeau waved with a handkerchief. Guess I'll fuck tonight. If I still can. Mercy.
Matter of fact, after Mrs. Trudeau's doctor was called in and we set Gunter's leg, we had one of these big feeds done by her woman that was cooking then, and me and Gunter passed out, and I woke about a day later in a tub of hot water and a peyote intelligence. Lathering up my mane was Mrs. Trudeau, said she wanted to talk to me about my friend. Yeah, yeah, Beth who's that? Well, my old mountain man, you dream, and all you have to talk about is killing and running. Oh. Yes, well, with traces of philosophy, regards to the balance of nature, or that kind of thing. But, Packy Gunter, he tosses about fearing these companies of men coming to torture and kill him, but otherwise he talks about this subject he refers to as pussy. Well, that's the way he is. Why, he is always gripping this he calls his Horse Pecker, or else his testicals, depending whether it be the pussy he craves or the men he fears. Yes, really! He does have a huge member, larger than this one. Hell, give 'im some pussy. Oh, damn you! He repulses me! Why, he actually weeps when he gets into a long wind about a nun he did not rape-or think to rape, is that it-because the Cavalry was closing in! It is disgusting! Beth had me in the upstairs bathroom, door was open, and we heard a howl, a high pitch whine, echo down the hall. I seen the mountain lion die on my knife at the Water Hole. Lord, oh Lord, please don't let me die horny! screeched Gunter. See, see, said Beth. Gads, I said. What can we do?
Gunter's leg was bad off. Mrs. Trudeau's doctor had cut loose a forty-five slug close to the skin, that was maybe a clean wound if Gunter was to lay on it enough to let it come back together, but the leg was broke and had tore the hole bigger yet, if that's all it had tore, and the bone was set in splits-that had been the job, and Coonhound and Cynthia helped-and Gunter had a worse leg than I did the time I rolled down the rocks after Grey, but be damned if he did not come roaring down the hall naked cept for wearing my guns and knife on one crutch, next thing. Had a hard on, be damned. I was up, leaned in the bathroom door, and dizziness come over me and Mrs. Trudeau was worrying over me and getting pretty mad. Gunter, what in hell! You thinking to fuck or fight, man? Mrs. Trudeau, sounded like she was downstairs, put in how Gunter didn't know the difference, and Gunter said, help me, Olive, and he leaned in on my other side, and we fell a top Mrs. Trudeau. I rolled and got hold of my head and I will be hung in hell if Gunter was not in a attempt at raping my lady. You sonofabitching ungrateful toad eater, get off my lady, said I, calm as I could, dizzy from the hot tub and crawling, and Mrs. Trudeau naturally was in a hell of a rampaging dither, kicking, come on top fore I could get there, next was doing what amounted to a hat dance on his head, her heels cutting up his head while he finally was thinking to protect his bleeding busted up leg.
Please, Beth, stop it! Never seen her like that before. Please, he's one of our best fighting legs, men! Not after I finish him, see! I slapped her ankles out from under her and then she was kicking his head while the both of them floundered on their backs. Protect your head, Gunter, I said but he wasn't doing much but holding his leg. Good to see he was taking some care of the leg.
Coonhound come out of the attic in long hannels with a Sharps rifle, and up the stairs come the cook, and she was not a bad looking fat black woman, and, with Beth Trudeau playing out, and Gunter sure had his privates all wadded up in a little knot by then, Cynthia rode in the yard, jumped off and run up to see the noise and seen the washer woman sneaking down the little stairway that went to the attic, and she was a pretty fair looking Mescan gal too. Gunter was not recognizable in the head, hadn't much been in the first place, but he was Aries, Ram, rules the head, which you must had figured by now, so that was all right, and in the din we argued about whether he had or didn't attempt to rape my lady-he had-but we got off that and was checking his leg-yeah, that sonofabitch said how he never tried to rape my lady because he was in no shape at all to even get a hard on, and we was seeing that his leg was still hanging together, and in all this crying and bickering the cook-like I say, a fairly buxom fat female- bent and she opened her big eyes at his general condition, and she had been cleaning up the hot kitchen and was sweaty around the nipples, said, my, and his Horse Pecker perked right on back up, and she said, oh my. Yep, she did, said, oh my, made me hanker after'er a little my- self, tired as I was, and she run on back downstairs. Hey, Olive, I think I'm coming alive! I think maybe I'm going to pull through! You toad eating sonofabitch!
Beth Trudeau was a strong woman, and at this point her house- hold begin to fall apart. Me and Gunter brung a curse on her house. She lived in that town, because her husband had been told to live a healthy life and back East she had searched for lovers, embarrassed both their two families, and their offspring Cynthia loved horses and this land, and Beth was a passionate woman and loved me. I had opened her body and this was not too good because I had too much killing in me. While Gunter was hornier than he had ever been in his life, and always clunking up and downstairs and got to her cook, I slept till noon, hollered for coffee and went out in the back yard and shot birds in the trees, or butterflies, or when out of moving targets then just knotholes but running and jumping, and clean my guns and keep my knife sharp and eat and smoke and toward evening be outside town practicing moves with the Apache Horse, run hell out of the devil to keep him less homey than Gunter and one evening come back bloody, only because I had done a move with the knife on a steer, check my collarbone, crossed a man's property and come down on a steer, and grabbed some meat and run, and that unsettled her. Wouldn't buy me ammunition for two days, and when she did it was on my promise to not shoot her birds and things. Meanwhile, I wanted her to let me get Gunter some guns and me and her begin to fall out at times. Cynthia was in a bad way, learning about men, got the washer woman traded off for a older and not so pretty one, and Coonhound went away for a time then, and when he come back some days later in a midnight, Cynthia had got herself worked up pretty fierce and just then pulled Gunter into her bed. Gunter was always up and down the halls at all hours, pounded on her door earlier in the night anyway, and they was barely together-she had this book, wanted Gunter to read her a story and in come Coon drunk. Get out of my bed, Gunter. You don't get the black and the white women too. You ain't got no bed, Cynthia told Coon. Get out of here, you drunk Nigger! Hold it, Coon, said Gunter in his state. I ain't got no gun. They ain't bought me no gun yet. Hell, why I always liked you, Coon boy. You know me. Shutup, you just get out of here and maybe I'll let it pass. You, Cynthia, I'm going to whip your ass. Hold on, now, Coon boy, now that ain't regular. You're weak, Gunter, Cynthia said, you're weak, and her skinny naked body went up in the bed like a spring and then her long cheeks was bent at Coon and him not seeing she was getting two hands on Gunter's crutch he reached for her, but Gunter had the whole picture and dipped under the sheet and Cynthia. With eyes closed Gunter seen Coon get Cynthia by the hair and Cynthia get Coon in the head with the fork of that crutch and all her weight and whip strength and the crutch bent and snapped to like a rod. That is how good was these crutches what Mrs. Trudeau's doctor made for his hobby. Cynthia was a natural killer. She hit old Coon another one, and by her teeth ripped the raw hide off the end of the crutch and gigged Coon in the head when he was wanting to crawl off and figure out what was up. Gunter was peeping when I come by to see what was this ruckus and Cynthia had the crutch under a arm and slamming it in Coon's back, and Coon was crawled into the hall on his head, and was a mess. So, Gunter never got no ass off Cynthia. Naw, Cynthia kept the man she had, which was Coonhound, and she sure as hell had him, for the time. He was now number one damaged man in the house, leaving me at number three. Doctor even found one of Coon's broken ribs pushing in his lung, and the doctor was kind of impatient getting up at the hour and he sliced Coon's back to pull the rib back with his fingers, right there on the spot, in the hall, and Gunter's cook was up and awake by then and Gunter had his clothes- pants and his boots-on again, but he was having some trouble explaining just how was it Cynthia got her hands on his crutch to beat her man. Beat anything I ever seen, she took it right out from under me whilst I was coming down the hall, Gunter was saying over and over again and the doctor worked on Coon's back. Lawdy, said the cook. Why can't you sleep like us other folks.
Then Gunter went quiet two days. Then he found more peyote, come across a feed sack of dried buttons in the attic, somehow, must had been forgot by Hatch or somebody, and you might think a man in his condition would leave the stuff be at that point, like Bix, except Packy Gunter is a kind to eat peyote for guts. He would say... hindsight. Ain't going to catch old Packy, heh, heh, what do you say, Olive, whee. How's your leg, Packy. Oh, Olive, they really hurt my leg! Olive, they damn near took this leg off and I will never get it like it was again! Olive, I can't never be sure the cook, or that washer woman, neither, ain't going set me up, sometime or nother, now can I, for money, why, they'll probably do anything for a big bag of gold, so I say get me some guns now! I want a double barrel, I want three forty fives, two derringers! I want a Wenchester thirty-thirty. Maybe a forty-two twenty carbine. I want a mountain knife! Say, we better get this blacksmith to make me a knife again! They ain't going catch me, nosir! Hey, Olive, I say let's get us a big old Sharps rifle! That'll be good for'em! Goddamn! A Sharps'll blow a man's entire heart out! All of it! Whole thing! Hey, Coon has a Sharps! Buy it for me, Olive! Hell, he owes us that much, anyway! Hell, he has it real good, for a Nigger! Hell, Cynthia, will take him around the world! Won't never have to work, or even fight! Hell, that Nigger won't keep out of trouble! Good old Coon! I feel sorry for'im sometimes! What I like about that sonofabitch, he won't take no shit! He ain't no scared Nigger, nosir! Aw, he might be just a little bit scared, who ain't! Scared of his self, just his own self, scared he'll get hisself hung! Or die in torture! Hell of a way to go, Olive, hell of a way to go! I get bad dreams about it sometimes! Best to not sleep at all when you do that! Yeah, well, I think you agree how most people just need to be killed! By us!
Some strange feeling come to me, a kind of a statement, about peace, drifting through what come to be some hot and quiet summer of that town. Hot summer can be the most quiet time of the year and in shade of one of her trees me and Packy was setting to shoot at some bees with my forty-fives. Forty-five don't have to hit a bee, if you can just come close, and I had just blowed a wing off one bee and crawled over and found him hopping in the grass, here he is, and Packy was wanting to do the same thing. I was looking at the bee up close and hearing the other things in the air and plant life and forgot who I was till the sound of a forty-five rocked the whole affair, like a boulder in a pond. Damn. Gunter, what was all that for? Hey, help me find'im, Olive, he said off around the other side of the tree. Old Packy can still shoot, sure! I got to thinking how our bullets was bigger'n these bees and looking at one of my old forty-fives, how it worked and so on. That was one way to live. Then you lived, and seen life was manyfold. Hey, Packy, I said, because I needed to talk about it. I got something to smoke about. Ah, you talkative sonofabitch! Just when old Packy was getting his style back, too! Well, you know how it is, Packy, me being an aristocrat, underneath it all. Yeah, me too, Olive, I used to read a lot of books. Well, hell, let's get back in the shade and have a good pipe. This we did, and I started out, say, Packy, now just what is this war we're fighting, anyway? It is self defense, Bill. See here, if all them people had their way me'n you wouldn't amount to no more'n toads on a dung heap. We might be sitting on top the dung heap but there we would be, all the same. Yeah, Packy, some way back somewhere I went through this talk before, maybe with Sieb. With Sieb, you say? Yeah, somebody, you know, I've always contended Sieb is a pretty smart boy, even if he is crazy. Hell, Jimmie Brownrat is smarter, Bill. Well, Packy, I don't know that we can hang it like that. We ain't just a bunch of blasted bees trying to make ourselves busy, you know that. Well, Bill, I ain't hanging it like that, now, I can see we ain't a gang of tumblebugs each in his little job at rolling out his personal ball of shit and burying down with it, now, or even less than that everybody busying themselves for the sake of the bee hive and ready to fly out and toss your life away for a prayer and get into heaven, now, way all them people we been killing over the years so damn crazy when they start shooting, now, goddamn we been killing 'em. Yeah, we sure have, damn! Naw, Bill, Jimmie Brownrat, Bob Sieb, all these fuckers you n me we been running with, I understand we can't stack'em one against the other, who has balled up the most shit, what I'm saying, see what I mean, he who understands the human condition is Jimmie Brownrat, and me, cause we know how hopeless it is. Well, Packy, hell, Hatch always says how nothing means shit. Naw, Olive, what I'm telling you is how real men ain't rolling up shit, or even less building honey for the hive, or even less fucking each the other like maggots in the earth, you see what I'm talking about, flaw, it's just the fact that the other side that lives like these damn noisy bees is all trying to kill us, goddamnit, Olive! Aw, Gunter, look, now, I know all that, hell, I've seen'em jumping off cliffs, running through briar patches, I've seen'em shit in their boots and shoot off their own fingers all while trying to kill me, I've seen, yeah, yeah, sure, I know, you have too, sure, cause we're out in the open, but see, what I'm wondering at, what about all them other ways to survive this thing, hell, I want to get off scott free. Yeah, me too, Olive, I'm getting too old for all this tomfoolry, but first we need money! Hell, we get enough money, Olive, we can pay off the law men. Next, we get enough money we can pay off the govenor. Then, we keep getting plenty money, we can pay off the U.S. President. Then, we get so much money we don't have to do no more business and made no more enemies, we can be country gentlemen, read Shakespear and take ladies to opera houses, kind of ladies don't want you pinching'em in public but they hold down so much passion you get them back to their houses after their servants have all gone to bed that once you give'em a drink of wine, slap their ankles a little with a sheet maybe, they go hog tying wild and fling off their clothes, and then of course in the morning when they're sleeping late all delirious and tuckered from the ravages of the night you can get the maids, case any of them are any good, and they usually are, why, you take this big cook I been uping, now, Olive, Mrs. Trudeau is pretty good, ain't she, she kind of like a lady, hey, you want to let me try a little piece of that you can have this big titty cook a little bit! Look here, Gunter, what I'm talking about, look here, anyway you can't get enough money to buy off the U.S. President, we been trying that for years, all it gets us is enemies, as you know, now look, I'm just kind of getting at, why can't we find a less dangerous way to whip the other side? Hell, Olive, damnit, if you'll just listen to what I'm talking about to you, you do this, you marry Beth Trudeau. Aw, naw, Gunter, she's driving me crazy, I don't want to talk about Beth Trudeau. Olive! Shutup just long enough to hear me out! See here, we go to England, and buy a manor, and you make me land baron. England don't have all this killing and robbing all over the countryside foolishness. England is civilized, Olive! People in England is all country gentlemen, Olive! See what I'm talking about now! You just make old Beth Trudeau happy, she's suffering for you, Bill; she loves you, why, she's pining away, right now, and in England, why, we'll have pretty maids flopping on hill and dale! We'll be playing chess and reach up and squeeze some titty-say, now that was a fine move, brother Bill, but if I really am sitting here with a hand in this young lady's dress after my past life of horror out West amongst the redskins and riff raff, why, sir, I'm going to show you a fine move too! Say, sweet thighs, run along and get me my afternoon brandy now, that's a good lass. No, no, no, Gunter, I was saying and both of us listening to some strange words coming out of the kitchen, by now. The talk out of the kitchen had been on the rise for quite some time now. It was the cook, getting herself all riled, and this feller Tony Wayman, and he was from England, all right.
I don't know nothing, the cook said. Lawdy, it's a hot day for cornbread. Nosir, Texas Gang is all went back to Texas. Miz Beth, she want Bill Olive to live right but he done gone back to Texas to live mongst his own kind. Miz Beth, now, she is a right good woman, and she is gone to church right now, too.
I see, said Wayman, and put his big bag down and come past the back side of the hard working cook and looked out a window at me and Packy in the back yard. After a minute more the cook's talk, Wayman said to us, ah, hello.
But, sir, said Gunter. Begging your pardon. I am familiar with yon dark maid.
Ah, I have no designs, Wayman said. Who is them rascals out there, too, said the cook and Wayman come out cause we did not want to come in the hot kitchen. Are you the Texas Gang, ah? Part of it, said Gunter, and I said, the survivors. The survivors? Maybe so. Well, then, I am a journalist from New York. We thought you come from England. I do, but I am limited financially. But I can afford to buy you a drink. Sure, but it's hot between here and the bar, we said. Beer! Hey, cook, we said. Beer! My fat black ass, said the cook. Cooky, look here, I said. Get wine and quit for the day. Fooey, she said. Get wine and don't quit, Cooky, said Gunter.
Cooky brung us the wine but she would not quit that time, but back in shade of the tree we passed the bottle till she brung cups and Wayman informed us how the Texas Gang was famous in the East. Let's put it this way, Wayman said. The newspapers have a story of 'Texas Gang at the Water Hole, how they work with the Apaches and that they deliver great herds of cattle to Mexico. My magazine would like stories on the various unsavory personalities-ha, if you will pardon the expression-that make up this din of debauchery. Now, however, I understand the Water Hole has been wiped out. Well, maybe not, said Gunter. What is there for us in this? Not much, I'm afraid, Wayman said past his wine. But I am a desperate man.
Welp, we said. The other side is closing in fast.
The break with Beth Trudeau was clean when it come and she would not buy guns for Gunter or nothing and we stole a horse of Cynthia's for Gunter and one for Wayman somewhere else and taught him to ride bareback and we rode poor and went pretty slow till he learned. We was also teaching him to shoot my carbine and eat pretty good and he felt pretty good when he bagged a goat on our way to see the Peyote Woman. After that he fell off with the gun and broke his trigger finger plus his last bottle of booze. He had gone from wine to peyote to weed to wine to whiskey since setting in shade of that tree in Beth's back yard, and ripped up his good clothes, threw them away and got out his other set and then we could not make his damn suitcase stayback strapped to his jumpy horse like it had been, and we talking him into throwing away more shit, and we strapped up his finger and he would have no more weed or peyote but drunk plenty coffee and took a few notes, and we just said, hell, Wayman, ain't you or nobody getting rich off Texas Gang now, and it is your misfortune to be thrown in with us, and he smiled through his desperation, said would somebody please fill up his coffee cup here in his left hand before he was overcome by the pain in his body, and he was pretty shaky by the time we was working the horses up to seeing the Peyote Woman for hearing out her opinions on what was happening down on the Texas coast where she had never been.
Peyote Woman was a bitch, because here was Bill Olive with two white asses brung down on her. Peter The Potential One is to blame for this, she told her people. She was alone in the village except for two servants and always at least seven or eight spying on us and she sipped pulque in a hammock and said how the village had run off when she told them about the white asses coming.
Hell, said Gunter from off his crutch. Any good looking women among'em? They ain't hostile, is they?