Chapter Seven

Me and Chama creeped along the river and I did steal her a horse before my ankle give out and we arrived at Old Dave's and Sherry's place in Laredo, and it comes to my mind how in these Tales From The Texas Gang, which was first compiled by Old Dave and me, that I been telling about my affairs of love and desire, like maybe my compadre's or Robin Hood's men didn't have none, well, sir, they did, and they also come to agree that Wild Bill maybe gets off scott free and maybe no but that he talks too damn much and don't keep secrets, well, hell, might be I ain't purely no silent type, all the time, exactly, but, there is some flings of my heart I ain't put in here, Lisandro's cousin Graciela, seen no future with Wild Bill, I remember her, and, back before then, when you had Sieb taking care of me sick in Mexico, there was Emilia, and she was married and I remember her, oh God, and hell, I could write a whole book before all this here, but I am driving at the facts, like the Virgo Mescan Lisandro says, the facts, and which added up this long ride of the Texas Gang before their last stand, and Chama was the wildest woman and carried my baby, and blood of man will live past the law no matter who you kill, you just can't kill them, the young will kill you like the Mescan Texas Gang killed the posse what had finally killed the old Texas Gang. Anytime you get a state under law you will have to kill and get killed before your pipes and faucets can even rust, and you ain't believing in God then.

Ah, the Gang, on the coast. It got to be a big drunk. A posse run up and down, this way and that, to get Bix and Hatch and Dan, and bawled out Jaybird for not reporting all fugitives, and they near snatched up Tiddle Caylor for aiding and abetting and told him they was not through with him and was coming back. Keep your nose clean, son, and you may get real lucky and not get hung. Bix, Hatch and Dan was drunk and swum their horses to Mustang and St. Joseph's Island and back into the mainland to the Olive's place for a night and bout the time they kept moving the posse would come in and lay threat on the Olives. Bix tied up his shoulder but fell on it a time or two and his face pulled tight on his skull and Dan and Hatch led him onward and Hatch said, hell, we best be seperating and each get out of this thing alive, compadres. They come into the Brownrats again, to get a little whiskey and rest and Jaybird went insane, and Tiddle give a mule and a barrel of whiskey on condition they don't stop, and when they did stop, for the last stand, they had drunk three barrels and were on their second mule and had Sieb with them. The posse was on their second commander by then since they got their first killed at the Olives, and that slowed them up. A Major or Colonel somebody was the commander the posse started out with, and he had been a hard old man, no doubt about it, why, it is possible, he was so tough as to be the second toughest man killed by the Texas Gang, and he was killed by Mike Olive, Miguel. Miguel fancies himself an aristocrat and he challenged the Colonel to a duel. Colonel come from France and he fought duels with sabers. Miguel was just passing by and got in this duel to defend his family and they all feared for him and that it was all just going to get everybody shot, but Miguel had a week to train and he accepted sabers, and Bonnie and Kelly and Janus come to the duel, armed, Kelly in fact had to be talked out of laying back out on the barn with rifles. Kelly, said Miguel. I'll win. The Colonel is an old man. Miguel practiced one week with a rusty Confederacy saber, whacked it on some bales of hay and worked witheach hand and would not admit he was scared. No man should be allowed to talk to the Olives like that, he said. But, son, said our father. We can't fight the U.S. Government! I'll lose all that I've worked for here! Can't let'em kill Miguel, neither, said Kelly. A man must speak for his kind, says Miguel sharpening his saber the day of the duel. Oh, Miguel, at least use pistols, wept Mother. Mike isn't going to die today, said Bonnie tying on her new forty-five. It's not in the wind, Mother. I just don't feel it in the wind. Mother checked her Astrology books and it did not look to be in the wind, all right. Kelly sent Janus up behind our roof with a twelve guage, and she hollered, hurrah, we're going to win! Here come the Acostas! It was only Jaime, Allen, Lisandro and Joe Anglor, not the entire gang of friends and cousins, but it give spirit to the Olives, even when the posse was seen to be growed to two score bounty hungry men and the Olive's Mescan friends was wondering what they had walked into. Looky all them Gringos said Jaime to Lisandro to Kelly. Pray for rain, Kelly said. It was a blowing, dark day, rain maybe coming. The Colonel was a man built like Miguel, a body five ten and a half or eleven, a good hundred sixty five pounds of strong long arms and bone, and they were both balding men, too, and looked alike in the duel in the dust, except in the great difference in their movement. The Colonel had opened a case of shiny sabers for Miguel, pick your weapon, sir, but Miguel said, already got mine, sir, real eager, waved his rusty one at the Colonel in a friendly sporting way. Damn, went the Colonel freezing over and he turned and marched with death. When he turned back around with one saber to say, on guard, Miguel was leaping in crash against his guard. Miguel was just too eager but the posse thought he had tried a sneak attack so Janus was on the roof with the shotgun screeching and the posse had to back out of the way. Miguel went fighting with whirling leaps and backward chops and slashes which befuddled the Colonel till the fullest speed of Miguel was slowed and the Colonel stuck him in the ass. Colonel was not breathing hard at that point and then smiled and stepped in to do in Miguel. But Miguel feinted, Colonel smiled, Miguel did this knife fighting move him and me learned from Granddaddy when he was nine and ten and just cut the Colonel's leg while sliding past him in the dust, and leaped to his feet doing another wild slash which the Colonel parried except Miguel got to use both hands and the Colonel slipped almost to his knee, Colonel got mad and come to kill and Miguel did exactly Grandaddy's move again cept this time slid on his back and cut the Colonel's leg good. Miguel come up and attacked and fought the Colonel to a stand­still till he got both hands back on his sword and did a feint and leap and slash and then he twisted such a whipping blow the Colonel stag­gered on his dying leg, and ya-aa! Miguel rushed and threw his weapon one foot-a move he thought up and practiced only the night before and hated to leave out-and his saber contacted the Colonel's sword arm and spinned over his shoulder and the hilt of Miguel's saber gouged the Colonel's face, and the Colonel rolled, and Miguel stomped right over him for his saber but some posse was getting their horses on top it and Bonnie had this dog Huckleberry hung on a horse's leg and then run over and bit the Colonel a couple times and Janus was screeching from the roof-Back off or I'll kill all of you! -and they had already seen her up there anyway, and let's say ten of the posse almost died in three seconds but the couple riding on Miguel's sword got back for him to get it, and Miguel did and went at them and one was pitched from his horse and Huckleberry, this chile peppers for brains fire station type dog that a admiring fireman give my sister, bit him good, but turned back where the blood was, the Colonel, as-Get back all you sonofbitches now! screams Janus aiming-and suddenly everybody was back, and there was Miguel, out of his mind, and fast Bonnie Olive with hands on Huckleberry's hind legs, getting back, and the very tough old Colonel quit trying to get the dog off hands and knees and got on his feet sword in his hand, gushing from nose, mouth, and eye. Kill! That was Kelly, Kill, Miguel, kill! Kill, Miguel, kill! hollered Kelly's wife still aiming the double barrel, and the posse still backing for sure. Kill, howled Bonnie with a scissors and neck hold on Huckleberry, and Jaime, Allen, Lisandro, and Mr. Olive and Mrs. Olive who was out of her mind as well, and Miguel heard them and knew where he was. The Colonel, pointed Joe Anglor. The Colonel, there he is, Joe said. Kill, son! Yaaa! said Miguel and killed the Colonel, whacking off his right arm and head, and Bonnie forgot what she was doing and Huckleberry got the arm, shaking the life out of it. Don't hit the dog, son, the dog, the dog! Because Miguel is a man that does not like blood he laid up a week drinking limonade Mother brung and he admitted he had secretly hoped to get the Colonel to yield in a gentlemanly way but what can you do when you don't know no art of sword fighting and it sure put the posse off the tail of the Texas Gang for a little while-they just backed off talking how they could get Miguel for not fighting a fair duel but that would lose them half their men when in the first place it was not the Olives they wanted this time but the Texas Gang and me, Wild Bill Olive can they get him, all what might lose them half their men at least and they needed all the men willing to die for Texas they could get. You can know this, Mrs. Olive, they hollered. We may let Mike Olive live with this thing on his conscience, Mrs. Olive, but Bill, we will get him! It still took them some time to replace the man they lost, but they did, and they knew they were right and they kept on coming. Old Dave was getting more itchy and Sieb, Hatch, Dan, Bix kept drinking and swimming their horses and ate some cattle along the way and the country was in outrage with all kind of fool thinking he had seen the Texas Gang. By time the posse got its leadership Old Dave had stopped gaining weight and had started to lose weight sneaking out for middle of the night !ides, and Lisandro was losing weight for the Corpus Christi bank, and Sieb, Hatch, Dan, Bix had come into the Brownrats for the last stand, and the posse was forty strong led by the Finley brothers, two experienced law men, James and Terral Finley, and they was sensible men and brung the posse to the Brownrats' to stay till the Texas Gang was dead. Texas Gang had been laid up in the Brownrat bunkhouse three days when the posse come in, and Dan was in the outhouse and caught wind of'em and did a dash to the bunkhouse, and they seen him as they rode in slow in the afternoon. Who was that? said the Finley brothers. Hell, he run, you should of shot'im, Rube. Rube was a good and mean heavy set rifle man, and the next running man they seen was Jaybird, and he run from the family house to the bunkhouse, crazy to tell the Gang to get off his property because the law was here, and Rube shot him against the bunkhouse door, and shot him again when he was trying to open the door, and Jaybird fell and kicked and Mrs. Brownrat come running and windmilling-had not run in thirty year-crying out at the posse, and next come Mary Joe and other females outside and the Finley brothers directed the posse to all points where a body might leave from or enter the bunkhouse. Tiddle Caylor's fate had him in the bunkhouse, because he had finally decided to bring Sieb a box of forty-five shells on credit, and John Brownrat was in there talking with Hatch, and Jed and Ben and Robert and Kenny Weaver was in there listening, or because they lived there, when they argued with their wives, and amongst the ruckus of Mrs. Brownrat and Mary Jo lifting up and dragging Jaybird to the house, and Jaybird was squawking yet, Jed and Ben and Robert and Kenny Weaver come out with their hands high, and Tiddle Caylor could not make the decision, and Jim Brownrat come in, and the posse hollered from them with hands up to come around to the front of the house with hands high, and Jaybird on the way up the back steps between his women folk shut up and passed away. Jim, said Hatch. What are you coming in for? I don't want to hang, said Jim. Huh, hell, what have you ever done to get hung? It ain't what you done gets you hung, said Jim. Yeah, said John. I wonder if they'll hang Ben and Robert and Jed and Kenny now? Wonder, said Jim, whether they'll hang Mama and Mary Jo? Naa, not Mary Jo, said Hatch. Too good looking. Hell, I'm an innocent man myself, said Tiddle. Thanks for these bullets, Sieb said. Now I can go down fighting, Tiddle, and I'll always be obliged. Sieb took his gun and cartridges and laid under a bed, said he was waiting till it got hand to hand so he could make every bullet count. Hell, I ain't got nothing to fight with for me, Tiddle said, uh, cept for my barlow knife, yeah, here it is, whew. You will be proud how I use these precious rounds, Sieb said. Let's have another round of pain killer, Bix said. Don't we got enough left for the last round? I forgot my cup, said Sieb. Somebody bring my cup. Goddamn, it is the last stand, said Dan. Where the hell are the rest of us?


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