Chapter Six

The Peyote Woman did not like Gunter when they met. She held no favor for Wayman, but he did not stick in her craw so much. Too, it was a time we was in no position to much enrich her welfare in her little hideaway village of thin pine and adobe and Wayman kept five dollars in his sock and give up his last silver one to get a three walled hut and a hammock and a jar of pulque to face the breeze, and Gunter sit down with his mucho battered leg and begged for pulque, and the wise Peyote Woman thought maybe she was suffering a new kind of vision, and I took our last couple buttons and my carbine and set out a foot to find a deer for the people what by then was creeping back in. They was curious people.

Only had seventeen rounds for the little rifle left, I seen, and eat the peyote, and next there was fresh deer trail. Back in camp Gunter and the Peyote Woman was arguing about life and I was in a hurry to get back and keep it down and maybe that displacement of my mind is how I walked up on a most beautiful wolf with the widest and deepest slant eyes sparkling golden, waiting for her mate to run the deer down trail, and she did a little growl because I was messing things up, or not a growl but a sour whine, so I turned off the trail. My mind took to flashing and folding and I seen too much to be letting me bear back on what I was doing, till I was led to a big buck a waiting quiet up on my left, and I thought, hit him and he will roll your way, and that my medicine was good enough right then that I may as well do the best six-gun shot in my life and save my rifle ammunition, and I did and it all went perfecto. Yes.

I was kind of in love with the she-wolf, cept she was not mine, of course, and not even a woman, werewolf me being, or no, and me running, too, in the Texas Gang, and the gang got no time to tend to their offspring in a land owned mostly by men what did not much tend to their offspring neither, like the lean Peyote Woman told Gunter, before she went and fucked him.

The little scene around the campfire was pretty funny that night. Hell, Olive, said Gunter and smoking more marijuana to be eating more venison and corn on the cob and peyote with the bright of dawn and most the thirty or fifty or sixty adults in camp got tired of him and went away. Here I give'er three the best lays of my life, leg splinted up even so, I did, and her not much more'n some greased down jerky, too, why, make other gals her age proud as birthday cake, but her, she ups and goes to bed early and I am discarded, an object of past desire, not made chief of the village like you'd think from a woman claiming this here superior culture where contrary to the decadence of the Mescans and white asses the women know true men and are respectful of their offspring and mates, no sir, why, she has thrown me aside right after I plants my seed, all that talk of hers, she ain't feminine, she just a bitch like all the rest, Peter The Potential One knows, hell yeah! She give you a blanket, I said, and Wayman sleeping at the fire to be warm stuck his head out and asked how old was the Peyote Woman anyway. Question ought to be, said Gunter, question ought to be, that woman young enough to fuck a man to death, or no, and I say, hell yes, why that woman can fuck three men to death! How about yourself, said Wayman, showing us he was learning to pick up our ways of outlook. I will say this much, said Gunter. I ain't never had my balls dredged overnight exactly like this before. Now, I might remember a few orgies or holidays, wherein I would get to feeling pretty lean in a fortnight, but, sir, for a man with a broke leg, what had just come off a long ride and up this damn mountain range, I will say this, the Peyote Woman is what I calls hungry, got to hand it to'er! May I quote you on that, said Wayman and his arms come out of his blanket with his pencils and tablet. Sir, said Gunter setting up now and grabbing a fresh peyote bud. Let me say this! A man running full speed, there is got to be a reason! Now I oncet had a cook! She was a fat cook! Now I didn't touch that cook. She was a married woman besides, that right, Olive, or was it Gabriella? Hell, I can't remember now, they was probably all three married, the one to cook, the one to clean up, and the other one, what was it she did, but we had hope, then, us Texas Gang, and was trying to make a success with our lives, just like you are, Wayman old man, and I wish you luck, too, and what I'm getting at, the odds have been great, and when I had them three fair dames working in my house, fairly fat dames, they was, yaw haw, not that it makes no difference when a man runs hard, hell no, why, just holding this here plant life in my hand, shit, omph, grungh, ah, well, I finally had to run, but fore I did, why I put it up that cook, yessir, and she was maybe some butter when I did but she was ham when I got loose and got, she was, member, Olive, her mind got weak and her body got strong, yes, whee, yeah sure, a man run hard and can't get nowhere he has got to kill or fuck or something. Now, Olive, here, he does most the killing! Now, you can say I can out fuck Rattlesnake Dan or Robert Siebenthol, you're most likely right! Now where was I? Yeah, welp, you take this Peyote Woman. If she was to wake from her deathly slumber and come out to this campfire right now, I would know that it was her intention to kill me, and me being a man feared of dying that I am, why I would give the title to her, I would, indeed, but, cept, now, um, get nother little bite here to refresh my memories, yes indeed, that Peyote Woman, she ain't going to do nothing the rest this week, how­ever much else we may got left in this week, I don't know, do you, indeed, the Peyote Woman was strong, yeah, sure, she knowed how we was coming and she was rested and loins running peyote juices and yearning for this last tremendous pregnancy and she knowed it was coming, she-what, Olive, she don't have babies, what's'at, why not, why, that ain't fair, why, that's not right, is it, how is our spirit going to be carried on after we're gone?

The Texas Gang is all shot, said the Peyote Woman, and she laughed.

I never seen the likes in a woman before or ever. She was damn near scary. Her hair was gray and she had wrinkles in her face. Her teeth, when she laughed, was yellow but they was ever one of'em strong, and her black eyes glittered in human lust. White man or preacher or somebody like that might say her eyes was like a witch or demon but naw, it is the human cravings, and her naked body was lean, all right, lean, but there was no age in that body, and I had always sensed her power and seen she moved good but it was her body surprised me, fibrous, like strength in a man, cept it was still the glowing roundness of woman, little muscle belly and breasts but, her ass was silk skin, exactly two and one fourth ounce of sex fat. A top the sinew in it howsomever.

It sure did beat all. She glowed. She glowed purple and yellow cept for her cunt and it glowed red. Peyote Woman, I said. What has got into you? And she said, and slung a profile to her ass, what glowed orange like a sunset but then she turned it to a searing streak of blood red, she said, Bill Olive, women you never learn about. Will you be wise enough to take your losses and killing and go home? No? Hell no, she said.

Goddamn, I didn't know she was beautiful, said Gunter. Maybe I better try a little more?

The Peyote Woman just laughed. I heard a breathing, and first I thought it was Gunter but it was Wayman scribbling on his tablet. Whew, he said, and went on at it.

You didn't know, you never look, spoke the Peyote Woman and danced on Gunter's chest and somehow untying his pants with her toes and Gunter turned to me and uttered something in his apologizing way about the Peyote Woman wept and moaned for mercy last time and this sure did beat all, and the Peyote Woman squatted with a grunt, growl, grin and grit, which took old Packy up inside a little tornado what looked to had busted his back, first, and battered him about the earth in such a way, next, that my fear was for his heart, and I was a hands and knees giving advice-grab her tits, get on top, make her carry the weight, Packy-be damned if somewhere into a flashing death life death life ocean roll and crash the Peyote Woman herself did not clutch Gunter right side up, for a time, and bedlam and din, till the last thrust what kind of blowed him away. A splint on his leg had broke and was catching fire and I drug him to a side. Oh, my good leg got broke, he said. Peyote Woman was not immortal, either, just yet, and was sleeping through her teeth, beautiful, her life still glowing out her.

We moved on. Never did get the Peyote Woman's opinions on conditions of our Texas coast. We could just barely ride. Me tired too. Gunter mumbling at times about being cleansed, killed, and Wayman run out of paper. Let's stop somewhere for a drink, Wayman said.

We turned into this little Mescan community to water the horses and they had a cantina and Wayman took off his sock and we each had two beers, a shot of tequila, and left with one bottle of mescal and trying to see a good shade tree and did not but the river was still near so we rode for it and it had twisted off further than we thought which was actually a good thing because by time we got there we was just drunk and thirsty and not sleeping when this troop of Nigger Cavalry clumped in to drink with their three wounded Apache captives and one was the hundred pound Apache with his face bent up from the time we fought. Wayman sit naked on a sand bar trying to keep El Rio Grande out of the last of the mescal on a cold blowing day-seems he was El Pesca tambien-and me and Gunter was just drinking a little river but I heard 'em coming and brung Gunter my carbine and I took off my shirt for effect. When you are too tired to run and too little to fight, stand tall.

They had one tired white commander and he didn't want to look me over till the entire troop was rode on by just enough ways apart to drink their horses and me and the hundred pounder looked and he had no shirt in the breeze cept for the piece tied round some kind of wound in his ribs and it was my surprise how thin was this man, maybe ninety eight pounds of him left, and I thought while the Apache Horse snorted and kicked about, by god, I am going to turn him loose. The commander rode back over drinking from a canteen and we said howdy. He seen me, and Gunter on his crutch, and old Wayman that was having one of his times of fun being in the Texas Gang. Have a drink, said Wayman. There's a worm in this bottle but he's dead. No, thank you, um, where are you men going? Texas. Texas, that's Texas over there. That's where we're going then. Aw, be a sport, said Wayman, mescal washes the sand better than water! No, thank you, um, what happened to you men. It's a hard life. What happened to yourself? Eh, well, have you men seen any Apaches? Three or four got away this time. Well, man, how do you spect we got so bunged up? What? Where did you encounter them then? The exact way we have come, sir. Really now? It's a fact. Shot it out with three or four the devils-see, we ain't got no saddles, they took our saddles cause we had to run. Really? How did your friend break his leg? It was horrible, horrible, said Gunter. Can't even remember how I broke my leg exactly! Yeah, who fixed it? Gunter had started in on a story about a doctor we had with us killed after he had been disbarred from the medical profession and a Nigger sergeant walked up with two others leading horses and their commander said to us, just who in hades are you people? Sir, we are so poor, we have been selling horses in Mexico. Selling horses in Mexico? Yeah, you see that little Apache you got? Yeah, what about the bastard? He's a bastard, all right. I fought him before you did. He shot my horse and I took his. Is that the truth, now? Certainly is. Let me talk to him. Talk to him? Sure, you'll see. You know, I just would like to know what it's like to say hello to a man what near killed my ass.

It got us away from the Cavalry. I was let talk to the little Apache, and it was seen him and me had met, cause first he spit in my face. Yeah, I said to the audience. See how I busted him up? But let me tell you, he's tougher'n me'n any two hundred pound white man in the Territory! That set with'em, them being black, and I know some Kiowa-Apache words, and said to my friend how the U.S. Cavalry don't know who I am but they are my enemy, and he spit in my face again, and his spit was so dry, I said, say, ain't this man getting no water! He had some, said one trooper. Say, man, I said, fingering the Apache's spit. Let's give'im a little more. They liked my style and this black trooper give me a canteen while the tired commander stood dazed. I give the Apache a drink and he spit it in my face, and I wondered was he crazy all the way by now and slapped him, but I tried again. You fool, I am enemy to the U.S. Cavalry! I hate them too! You drink some of this and hear me out! I took a big drink, give the canteen to him, and he tried to hold it in his hands but his wrists was tied together too tight, so I took my knife, the troops stepped back and the white commander stepped in and I cut the cords. Hell, I said. You want'im to lose his hands fore he gets his irons? This one's too dangerous, said the commander. We must tie him tight! Then he tried for energy, said, now look here you, he killed our scouts and one of em was his half brother! Hell, sir, he ain't dangerous without his hands, now is he? I put the water at his mouth and he drunk. I got control in the situation. To the Apache I explained word by Kiowa-Apache-Spanish word one more time, slow, I was the U.S. Cavalry's enemy too. Then, and his eyes took new feeling, I told him I admired him as a man, wanted to set him free. I will come tonight, cut you free and your two friends free. Believe my word if you will. I walked off, saying, hope they hang the little sonofabitch. Sometimes you work good, sometimes no, or halfway. Packy had a feeling. We are too tired, Olive, he said. You'll get us killed this time. So go on home to the coast, I told him mad. My word is good! Olive, your medicine is bad. You can't even cook corn pones.

Him and Wayman went on with my carbine. Told'em I'd catch'em fore they got there. We all shook hands.

Iback tracked in midnight, found the tired Cavalry was where we left them, on El Rio Grande, the Mescan side. I put the Apache Horse back off and I sit cross the river and give a coyote and couple hoot owls and tried to see their guards. Finally, the little Apache hooted back, and him and his compadres laughed, showing me where they was tied together, and had their joke on the troops, making like they was pretending they was about to be rescued. But it sure kept the troops awake. He had been trouble for them.

Now, if you look back at all I had been through, you can figure that I carried a few problems in my body. Only thing makes a human being old, when it ain't his mind, is when he don't let his body heal faster'n he uses it. I was also slapping a strange last swarm of mosquitoes in the Fall weather. Then I caught wind of the Peyote Woman, that said, the mosquitoes are only in your mind. Thanks, Peyote Woman, you're a guardian angel. Finally, I went and hung my guns on the Apache Horse, left him again, and waded the river with my knife on me. It only come to my shoulders one time, there, that time a year, but I had got cold, so made my plan, said, hey, and dumb up the bank. Everybody woke up, and I said, I sure am glad to find you guys still here! They cussed and some went back to bed and was so mad they probably made themselves sleep better. Just the goddamn squawman, said the Nigger Cavalry, lost his goddamn horse. Just who are you, said the commander, and I think he was the tiredest man there, all right. Man, I said with some begging tone, let's have some hot coffee and I'll tell you about it. What, well, I can't sleep anyway, he said, kicking his blanket, and his voice was working toward a little crazy cry. Coals was stirred back up and coffee put on for us and somebody handed me a blanket because I was in a chill. So whilst I strung a story together about them three or four Apaches running around, how they killed my friends, I tried to lead it off any personal history, until others got tired and went back for a little rest before dawn and there was just me and the crazed commander drinking the coffee. Now I heard tell, them black troops was getting a idea I was maybe me, or one of us from the days of the Water Hole, some of'em had information there, but, they was just too tired to mess with a outlaw mountain man, him over the hill or no. That word come later from two Niggers what took the ensuing activity as chance to desert. The white commander said, well, and his eyes took on a mean glint. I never get sleep. The three Apaches was tied off at a end with a personal guard tween us and them that smoked cigarettes. I could see desire was to shoot the Apaches in the river, hoping maybe the little Apache would run with hands tied. The legs of the Apaches was not tied. By the way, said the commander next thing. You need a shave and a hair cut. You ain't so clean yourself, I said, then realized the character of the man was in a change, was not so dull now. I will take you in for questionaing, he said in a satisfaction. Yes, I will. Aw have some more hot java, I said, looking around. No, no, I believe I must put you under guard. I stood and dropped the blanket on the glowing coals and before he had another thought I whacked off his head, and it rolled a little bit but his body didn't make much noise as I helped it fall on the blanket. I run and the man guard­ing the Apaches looked my way and I snatched his rifle. I was looking in his eyes and cutting the Apaches loose and he did not think about his pistol or speak, then, but I believe the commander's head had en­countered one of the bodies trying for sleep, and broke my spell on the guard and he lunged and I busted his shin with the rifle, give it to the Apaches and dashed for the river. I was not fast like I should of been, not quite, leaping when I heard firing and some sonofabitch sprung up in my way and me and him tumbled down the bluff, and my bad leg took too much the weight and I twisted the ankle. Apaches! I said to the trooper in the water with me. I moved to the opposing bank and he clambered back up. I was in bad shape when I got to the Apache Horse. Never did know did any of the three get away.

Daybreak I tied us in some mesquite on the river, and night I used for riding without rifle and never minded catching the two hard riding compadres, and a sorrow left my heart by a emptying of my head on the ride. I believe I could had forgot then I was a man cept for that I was riding a horse, and to see other men. The ride went on till a day I had lost myself hunting firewood in these tunnels left by somebody's cattle in heavy mesquite brush in Big Bend country. I had holed up in the place two days looking about and butchered a lost calf and had used up the decent firewood eating, and I was losing my temper getting myself lost on hands and knees and needed to get back to my horse and eat good and be getting along, well, next thing, the cussing of a mad woman come to my ears, and this was to be the end of my short peace, I knew it, and poked a couple more hands and knees and seen a clearing with a empty corral, and two horses tied at the end of the corral and in a patch of grass the other side of the corral the woman was kicking up a big fuss about being laid by this feller. Then let's put it this way, she said. You ain't man enough for me and I want to get back on my own! He clouted her aside the head and flinged her to the ground under him, and they rolled once and she hollered, ow, ow, ow, stop, oh please, I can't breathe, please, stop it, ow, ow, ow! Maybe that'll put some sense in your head, he said, and gets up taking down his britches, and I see his gun belt is already hanging on the corral. She lays looking at him and kicks off her boots, so he can get at the jeans she's wearing, and he has some kind of trouble and slaps her and jerks at her pants and soon as they are off one of her legs he says, now I'll learn you, you bitch, and he digs in like it is his last barbeque and she says ow some more and then as he's just about getting in and I can see he's a verge of breaking free while he's at it, in fact by now I am brushing dust on that side of the corral, she gets him a little bit more loose by saying to him, ah, Harry, you man you, and her arms go around poor old Harry and she hugs him and he goes, eeh, ee-ee~eh! I looked at the man and he had a big pocketknife in his back. Eh, said he. Eh-h~h! She kicks up jerking her pants and kicks him in the face and grabs her boots and gets them on while Harry is all surprised and scared with his ankles twisted in his pants and his mouth frothing red and he is hoping to ask mercy and she kicks his teeth across the grass. She seen me, and quit cussing Harry, but next run for Harry's gun on the corral. Hold on, I said. Why, you don't even know me! Hell, why I'll even help you get away! You will? she says and cocks his gun. Sure, come on, strap the gun on and let's go! I had known she wasn't just with Harry alone, and I seen her to be a pretty good looking strong built Me scan type of girl cept she had no accent but her hair was straight like a Indian and when she got the gun on I sent her ahead of me in the brush. Let'em come looking for Harry, I said, cause we'll be gone out the other end by then. Next thing we was lost and I said, hey, we're lost, because you been kicking dirt in my eyes and you must had took a wrong turn back there somewhere. Goddamn, who the hell are you, she said and turned around in the thorn. Ain't you got no horse? I do, one horse, but turn back around kind of gentle and just try and work your way at the river! Goddamn, why didn't you help me back there? You carrying all that hardware, what kind of a man are you? Leok here, you vixen, you just get back around and get to the river. We'll talk then. She found us the river, but it was in a canyon, and that made her cry, and I said, shit to God, woman, shut up, and took my knife and begun to whack our way along the edge. What you do, I said, is watch out across the river and be quiet. Then we run face into a cliff, and turned along it, and dumb a great big hill, and worked down, and come out ahead of my camp, and I was limping bad, and the sun was going when we found the way in where was the Apache horse and my hanging quarter of calf over the coals and flies all over the damn place and a bunch of buzzards taking to safer heights because they sure seen the temper I was in, and she says, ain't you got no saddle? No mam, we is riding Injun, I told her. Get ready. Right now? Well, hell, I guess we'll eat first. Cause I am sure we can cook and eat faster'n anybody can come on down in here, if they start from back there which is the only way. I piled up the mesquite what the Apache horse had brung to the ground and she stirred up my coals. The flies left and we singed a lot of meat and eat, went at it pretty good, me especially, and this appeared to impress her. Then I said to her, say, do you know what we need? No, what, to introduce ourselves, ha ha ha. Naw, what we need, is to get on the other side for to rest our bellies. O.K., she said. Let's get away. I kicked out the fire and we crossed the river and got away, by riding the Apache Horse to the top of the canyon, and there we slept the rest of the night balled up in my blanket and a norther blowed in. We moved out quick in that daylight, me leading her on the horse, then she got off too, walking in my blanket, and we saved the horse. That night we made a good camp on El Rio Grande and I fixed some ash cakes and coffee in the can, and she wouldn't drink the coffee, but it got me to talking to her. My name is Chama. My name is Wild Bill. You don't look so wild to me. Keep looking at me. Wish I had a rifle. I wish I had another steak, she said. Well, we best get a horse first. To eat? Naw, men we eat. Say, who was that bunch you was with? A pack of low life, over the hill bank robbers run by a crippled up sonofabitch named Curly. Curly? No shit! They must be the ones I know! He has a busted shoulder, right? Correcto, plus a back or hip or something, he's a busted up sonofabitch. Too bad, life is hard on Curly, what was one time a nice feller. Hell, I wished I had asked you about that, cause we wouldn't had to lost that good horse you had. No? No, why the hell not, who are you to him? Damnit, I wish I hadn't lost my horse! What was you doing crawling in those damn tunnels like a coyote for? Bill, who are you anyway? They would had blowed off your head for running out with me, Curly don't like anybody! I was their cook but I sure got tired of all them sonsofbitches! Harry got his deserts, too! He was the worst motherfucker of them all! He had it coming! I'm glad I give it to that motherfucker! Phut! Yessir, I sent Harry straight to hell! Where he belongs! I give it to that motherfucker! I let him have it good! I was going to twist it, that was my plan, cept I was sick of being near that sonofabitch, and I was thinking he might bleed on me! I bet he's running around here screaming, howling with the wind, right now, wishing he's never seen me! And I'm just sitting here real warm, with you! You don't got sugar, do you? I can drink coffee if I got the sugar! I'm really real glad you come along when you did, even if you do crawl around in brush! But I wish I had me some meat, damnit, everything would be perfecto! Here, I said, poured out my coffee grains and wondering about such a female as that wasn't even drinking no coffee I put a limb on the coals and come around the fire and got in the blanket with her and hugged her and pulled out my pecker and give it to her. Here is some meat. Maybe it'll hold you till we kill something. I think the fire is all right cause I got a feeling ain't nobody around here anywhere. Goddamn, she said whispering. I ain't seen nothing like it! Ah, it's just about the ordinary in my gang. My gang is the Texas Gang. We run Texas, or did once, cept we got run out. But we come back, and we're going to make a fight for it. Oh goddamn, said Chama. Your whole body is like a goddamn stud! Oh, what's this? You smoke? Yeah, my pipe, marijuana, here, we'll try a little, it helps you hear what's out in the night better.

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