Chapter Nine

Chama was going to have my baby and she and Sherry got to being friends and was mucho angry that I and Old Dave was feeling the call of the Gang and when I sprained my good ankle in the bath­room I went on and married her. I love you, Chama, I said, but a man has things to do. She declared I was not obligated to nobody in this world but her, my mother, and my own child. The Texas Gang is all shot like the Peyote Woman said, said Chama, and you ain't the calf you used to be neither. To back her argument was first one fight she seen me get into, few days before I sprained the ankle. It was a hot fall night and there was a little bar just around the corner from Old Dave's and I thought we ought to slip in there for a beer and talk, and she put in that I ought to leave off my guns and knife, look more like the other people in Laredo getting civilized, instead of Wild Bill Olive, and while this argument went on she takes scissors and starts in tfim­ming my hair and beard and I'm trying to smoke weed, and she shoves this new hat she bought me on my head-see, it fits! -and I had smoked a lot of marijuana and eat four corn pones and beans and cheese and was mighty full and sleepy, and thought who could want a fight with a man what had a woman along like this, and damn if we didn't end up in the bar me with no guns on just cause I wanted a beer, but by then I was falling to sleep in the quiet little place, where nobody else had guns either, and my woman says let's go to bed. We got up, and a Gringo at the bar said I looked like a goddamn goat. And just the night before I had eat a lot of peyote with Chama and bothered her with how I was such a killer and just how sure was she about being with me, so when I went over to this man at the bar she run on out mad about me being proud enough a killer to risk my out­law identity. He said to me he liked my beard and he pulled on it a little and I said he better get his own beard in that case before he gets hurt and I pushed his nose with my finger. Then he said. Then I said. Well, hell, anyway, I thought I had him scared enough and I left to catch Chama. She was a street away, almost at Dave's, and I caught up and she said I was a big ass, and then come this feller out of the bar, drunk, yelling out, what's this you're going to hurt me now? I said to Chama, hold on while I beat hell out of this fucker. She got madder and walked on and I met the man, he said, what's this about me getting hurt now? Oh yeah, way it went, I had this new coat, to help disguise me, but it was too hot and I was carrying it and wanted Chama to hold my new coat while I hit him, but she did not take the.coat so I clouted the feller with my left hand, seeing, too, he had a partner sneaking out from the alley, and he was only about a hundred sixty pounds but I had to hit him three times before he fell, and I kicked his chest for measure and was putting my coat on this tree he had fell at, and the bastard grabbed my legs, and his friend, a good sized fat Mes can in his undershirt, run up and I clouted him with my left hand and he didn't go down either so I flinged him a top the first feller what was hanging on my legs. Next I lost the fat Mescan, he got back and I fell to a knee bending loose the fingers of his friend and the Mescan kicked my chest and Chama run in and jumped on him and he flinged her away and kicked my face with his cowboy boot and I caught him then, pulled him back on top of the other one, and we rolled and I got on top but we was all too tired to keep fighting, and a crowd was ganged around and the two was willing to turn loose if I was and I turned loose of them. Then with Chama fussing and jerking on me I was telling the fat Mescan I better not find him alone and his shirt tore off he says he better not catch me alone and his partner wants to shake hands and then the Mescan wants to shake hands and we did, and Chama pulled me along, telling me I was lucky I wasn't killed for playing into their hands. You're not so tough, she said, just stupid! And too old to be fighting like a goddamn kid fresh off a farm! I was bleeding and breathing around the corn pones and beans, said, ah, hell, it's a good thing for them two I was so damn full! Why did you get in it with'em, what for? For sport, I said, and she looked like I was crazy.

The street fight put a new scar to my face and I sprained my good ankle and we got married and I hankered to get out of town and two bounty hunters sniffed me out because of the fight and Chama saved me in that one. It was now me keeping to Dave's house stead of Dave, and he was not quite known around there for being in Texas Gang and he and Sherry had made a couple of friends around, one was Murray Rossenwasser, and this night they was out at Murray's place for a barbeque these bounty hunters come. Chama and I had been arguing and I'm sure the hunters heard it and they dumb the roof and seen my shadow in the patio where I was wandering around naked on a crutch, smoking weed and drinking beer. Chama was inside crying so loud they was careless enough that she heard them, and she held off crying and they froze, and she went back to crying till she was sure she heard them again and she took a shotgun and two extra shells and checked it and heard a forty-five and run out and heard a man, all right, Mr. Olive, we seen you laying there between them pecan trees and how you're too bunged up to run and Freddie is right at your back with his sawed off shotgun so if you will kindly stand so we don't have to make no more ....... From across the patio Chama got the moving figure of Freddie on the stairs and put a barrel of buckshot in him, and the talking one run and slipped around on the roof and hit the ground outside and hurt himself and run slow and she cut back inside to a outside window and heard him getting on a horse and she fired on the horse moving past her and it screamed and tossed the man and she run out a door reloading but dropped one of the extra shells and the man had got the second horse and was trying to get up into the saddle on the move and Chama hit him-he let out a yell but he hung on for his life and she cussed him fierce and he escaped. She come out to me and I was O.K. and pissing on the pecan trees a little too calm and she hugged me crying for me to get back inside quick and I said, aw, Chama, and she was mad, glad, maybe a little proud, and a little hysterical.

I seen that dawn come up holding my wife and wondering about myself and begin to eat peyote and Dave and Sherry did not come in till later that day with Murray when the buzzards was picking the man on their roof. My woman would fight for me, defend my body and soul at the risk of her own, and she was beautiful, part Indian and next to the earth, beat anything I ever seen, so I could settle down and heal now. So what was my destiny?

The point is I got wind of the last stand, and me and Old Dave got there toward the end. We just kicked on in there the second night after the rum come in cause the other side was drunk. We had told the wives we would be back when we finished the rescue. Naw, I ain't owing my soul to the Texas Gang, but just lending a hand. The posse was shooting off their guns and whooping in the middle of their second night with the shipment of rum and me and Old Dave yahooed our way up to the Texas Gang in the bunkhouse and the door opened and we rode on in. Texas Gang was mostly talking about life, but Tiddle was up and letting us in, and some law men had come together on seeing us and was not far behind and to everybody's surprise John hit them from out that same hole with buckshot and the Texas Gang jumped. The Apache Horse went loco and went at the Texas Gang but we let him out in time and there was a brave posse member wanting to drag two wounded men out of the fight and the Apache Horse took a man off his arms in a tangle of guts and headed out. Old Dave's horse had been running from the Apache Horse inside but come around the walls and went out too, and the posse shot him from all sides and the horse dropped dead between the bunkhouse and the big house, and Matt come in a brave foot run and slammed into that dead horse and took to shooting out the door with his forty-five. The posse shot John's hole bigger and did in his shotgun and they shot up the bunkhouse but they was careful now. But they put away the idea of letting us die of thirst when Matt hollered for Tony about how much water did the Texas Gang have in there and that he was sorry he forgot to ask the last time. Bullets come through the chinks but all you had to do was sit down behind the sand. Sieb felt less secure when some rounds richocheted off the fireplace and slashed his mattress, but he was stifi saving his strength for the close quarters fight. We would of had flies cept this was winter and a norther blowed in andihe Texas Gang smoked weed and the posse drunk rum for a couple more days and blasted plaster and chips out of the bunkhouse and Matt sent men in a skiff for more ammunition, and we had a powwow.

First, Packy was mad that I and Dave had not hit the flank. Hell, where is the flank, I said. I can't tell what's going on. You guys wasn't fighting back so we come on in to see what the situation was. Well, Olive, he said. If you can just please get back out there and get their flank I think maybe we can win this thing. We got to get out of here, said Hatch. I have got to get back to my wife and kids! They need me! I got to get back there, I got to! You boys done got me enough trouble and I swear when we get out of this one I am leaving all you forever! Yeah, you're a real blood brother, Hatch, said Gunter. Yeah, now what we got to do, Olive, is get on their flank because I can't take much more of this bunkhouse and am homey besides. Goddamn you, Gunter, said Hatch. I ain't taking much more of your shit! You shut your goddamn mouth or I'm going to do you in! Aw shit, Hatch, you poor old guilty sonofabitch, how do you think I feel, can't even keep track of my kids, you don't see me crying over spilt inilk, and I bet you deserted your poor Irish mother and your sisters had to whore! I gather Hatch and PacIry had been fussing for a few days and Hatch laying threat to do him in, so now here I was in time to see Hatch kick sand and Packy's crutch, case he was to stand or use it as a weapon, but there was no actual such time fore Hatch had him laid out from his broke leg in a neck hold. Dave and I jumped Hatch and some rounds hit the house and we rolled with Hatch into the drinking water. Told you I was going to get you, snarled Hatch across the Water Hole to Gunter, and Gunter was mucho shook up, weak from the attack and he wept with bitterness. This ain't over, Hatch, he cried, and it was bad. That's when me and Dave got out our bags of weed. Let's pow­wow, we said. We tried to make the peace over these couple days but there was a lot of squabbling in the Gang. Night before they rushed us the posse went quiet for sleep or saving bullets and the Texas Gang lit a last lantern on the banks of the water hole dug by the Finleys and sit or rested on the two big mattresses Sieb was not using and what was left of the Finleys was pulled from the ceiling and finished and Gunter took a shit up near the windows and didn't bury it and bragged on his bravery it took to do that shit and threatened Hatch and Hatch sneered and Sieb come down in the pit for meat and Wayman burned his eyes in the dying candle a scratching on his tablets and a lot of fussing and devils went among us. Next worse fight fore that dawn was Bix trying to choke Dan with one hand over meat and sitting back crying that he only had one hand, and Dan tossed this last piece of arm meat in the dirt at him. I'm sad to say the other worse fight was me losing temper with Bowman for him trying to snatch this canteen with the last drink of clean water from me and I hadn't had no clean water since I got there, and it was Dave's water, had fell off his horse and been found late, and I fisted Bowman in the ribs and flipped him by his good arm in the water hole and he went on his winged arm, and he stood and his bad leg buckled under him, but pain and all he was going to come up after me, said he didn't care who I thought I was and I was a little impressed that he would fight me even wounded and I flinged the canteen down at him and that plus pain seems to of confused him and he didn't come for me. By dawn the disagreements was verbal, as Wayman put it, and everybody had it out. Sieb went back up under his bed and he and Gunter delivered philosophy on there was no pride between thieves or cannibals. Them what live by the sixgun and Green River knife die, by the gun and the knife, said Sieb, because the pen is mightier than the sword, and the Cross is mightiest of all and the next time I live I'm going to be a poet. Yeah, me too, Sieby, said Gunter. Me and you and old Tony here, we're cultured and just got in the wrong crowd! Maybe you just been a sissie all along, haw! said Black Hatch, and Gunter laid on more bitter outrage and threat, and Hatch was meanwhile starting in a little crazy about how he was the one wasn't supposed to be here because he was a lawyer and had a woman and five hungry kids waiting his return that loved him. They need me and I have left them, said Hatch and he wept. My next life I ain't having nothing to do with you bunch of losers! Now wait a minute, wait a minute, said Old Dave. Just hold on there. What about the Golden Children? Haw! Hatch, Dave said. Trouble with you, man, you don't want to face real life, you just want to fuck, and use this lawyer and five kids bull corn as your front. What it comes down to is you got no moral character or love in your heart. Hell, I'm just lonely, said Hatch. I been lonely all my life! Hatch looked to be losing his grip, and safe across the water hole Dave picked him apart while other arguments rose and fell. I was very troubled, quiet for a time because my world was caving in and I went back over the hard words Chama and I had before I pushed'er crying and mad from me and come here to save the shot Texas Gang, and I seen in this worst of the storm Tiddle had the clearest mind. What does it all mean? he said with a smile. If we are paying for our sins, what say we become Catholic and confess, he said in a joke. I'm Catholic, said Jim. Look at what it's got me. My family's killed because my friends are cannibals and I ain't got a chance! My life ain't worth a plugged nickle! To make a point Jim had one nickle and thumbed it in the air and had a borrowed gun from Bowman and he fired. That set off a few rounds and calls from the posse. Jim got sand in Bowman's gun when crawling to get his nickle and Bowman come to snatch his gun and just about fainted from his arm and his leg. Heads I am shot, tails I am hung, said Jim. Pain was coming from my last wounded leg like it never had and I had thought it was near healed up. I come aware of just very many pains, old and new, in my old body, and I said, com­padres. I see we are getting old. But I got a few things to say. Yeah, tell us what to do now, Olive, Bowman said. Compadres, I said. There's something we got to talk about, I know how we can get out of here! What's that, said Hatch. Become werewolves, haw! Yeah, yeah, I said. Man, you're either dumber than I thought, said Bowman, or this Gang's dumber'n I thought, for electing you leader, one! No, no, I ain't the leader, but look, look, said I beyond great pain in my legs, back, and chest. I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to live! What if the posse has silver bullets, said John. Hatch and Dave was having it out too much for me to get heard out, and Hatch said to Dave in a snake voice how he thought he might as well drown him in this mud. It don't matter by now. Do it, Dave? Old Dave broke up for the door, a weird notion of getting through the posse in dawn's early light, but just as he was running on his feet some new shooting came and he bit the dust, and slithered back for the pit. Wild Bill can get the posse, he's a werewolf, said Bowman. I was about ready to become a werewolf but I could see the Gang wasn't in much shape for it, and after all, I had come to save them. Look, let's talk about rebirth, the Golden Children, I said. My shoulder stinks, said Bix. Dan was taking a piss, said he was sure by now he finally had the clap. Well, goddamn, Dan, said Hatch. Piss somewhere else! Not up there I ain't, said Dan. For years I been wondering did I have syphilis and now I see I got the clap and that's a start. I bet you just then poisoned the water, too, bet you splashed germs in it, everything you McConchies touch turns to shit. Bowman already poisoned the water, I yelled, look here, you people, what we got to talk about. My shoulder stinks, Bix said. I ain't got a chance. Suddenly we could all smell Bix. It was true, he did not have a chance. Look, men, I said, remembering how long the ride had been, and my wife, and how I loved her, how desperate was growing my love for her, and I said, the world and its chil­dren are suffering. Tell us, Jesus, Bowman said. Shut up, Bowman, Tiddle said. Tell us, Big Bill! I think my leg is stinking too, Gunter was saying, and Hatch was telling Dan he was sorry for what he said bout the McConchies because Dan is a rattlesnake but a bigger man than his brother anyday and Bix said he was sorry too but there was demons up in the ceiling and his druthers was facing that shitass posse, and I said, hold on, hold on, men, there is meaning to this and it is time for rebirth! Big Bill wants to talk a piece, said Tiddle. Might be he has something to say. Ah, nothing means shit, said Hatch. Shut up, Hatch! Shut up, Gunter! Fuck your leg, I drug you far enough, you sack of shit, shut up all of you and listen! Nothing means sh it! bel­lowed Hatch loud enough for the posse, what thought we was ready to talk and they quit shooting and went to calling out how they had fresh ammo and was we ready to give in and so on, and Bix rose, answering to them, yeah, we're ready to talk, yeah, sure, you mother fuckers want to talk, I'll talk, you betcha, yeah, and I seen it go, slip­ping. Bix was up at that door with his right hand and drug it open enough that he was at them shooting with his left and me in a mixed up thought about stopping him see Bix flashing cross the yard shoot­ing and spinning when bullets take out his brains and he went clear up on the Brownrat porch and start to reload and run out of blood so that he can't get any action in his fingers and drop his gun but his balance was still pretty good but one of them miserables that was bellied behind the wall fired a shotgun through the rest of Bix's guts, and he hit on the railing and folded back like a serape. They got Bix, Hatch said. More daylight was let into the bunkhouse and chips floated down and I found myself sitting in the water for a drink, and the posse said, we got him! Thank the Lord! We got him! Hey, Matt, we got us a Texas Ganger! Gawd! All that went overhead and the posse what had been stationed back of the bunkhouse come run­ning round the front two and three together and Old Dave timed it just as the last couple posse dash long around the bunkhouse he got out the back window and headed for the beach, where he got away. Dan was next out that window, and Packy and Hatch reached it next, and Packy pulled his gun. See you next time, Gunter, Hatch said, and shook hands in a nice way. Give me a hand here, Hatch, said Packy. Let's work together here. Meanwhile two of the flank guards come running back that way in time to be shooting Rattlesnake Dan with rifles. Shit, said Dan, threw down his guns and sit there and show the posse the finger, and died in a grin. Whooee! said Hatch. Let's not go out there! The posse on the flank, now about six, could see them move behind some big holes in the bunkhouse and put in enough rifle slugs to kill them too. They also seen John Brownrat, a very thin man, come out of the chimney, and they made John fly like a kite. They got us too, said Hatch. Life is hard all over, said Gunter. It don't make a shit, Hatch said. It's all the same. It's your turn, Jim, Bowman said. What for, said Jim. Yeah, I guess you're right, Jim. I'm a little confused tonight. We still got Big Bill, said Tiddle. How many you think you can kill, Big Bill? Any dozens of'em come after me! I'm still here, said Sieb. You be tossing the wounded law up to me, Bill. Right, Sieb. I can see God, Bill. Good, Sieb. I can see Him, too, Tiddle said. Yessir, I'm going to love them posse like brothers when they come in! Tony Wayman was maybe strange after cannibalism and he writ down everything he could see, and I told him I was going to jump and catch this piece of rope on the rafter where the Finleys had hung. Always get the high ground! he said. Some big shooting of the bunkhouse got going so I said, you be tossing the wounded up to me, Sieb! Don't shoot too high, compadres! Up I went and up I got by god and I was tired. Bigger pieces of wood come loose in the bunkhouse and by noon the posse could see clear through the bunkhouse. They called out, do you surrender? Anybody living? Next thing the posse had got dynamite. They fired cover for a man that heaved a load all tied and lit at the house, and in a minute the front of the bunkhouse was blowed away. They fired quite a time after that, then with calls of Geronimo, kill, and the like they advanced. Tiddle and Tom Tree- frog Bowman come up enough that they could be waving their shirts, and what a start that give the posse. Yessir, said Tiddle reaching in a big handshake. How glad I am to see you fellers! You done rescued me from the Texas Gang, you old rascals, and a sight for sore eyes you are! Eeiiee, went the posse and Treefrog bent for his gun in his boot and they got Treefrog and he hopped all right, and flopped around, and Tiddle turned back for the water hole and was shot swimming, and Wayman put his tablet in his coat and was pronounced dead, and three posse that had believed in ghosts stumbled in the water and was shot, and Jim come from the fireplace in a little ball and rolled down­hill and bounced off the pile of bodies and they shot hell out of him too. That was everybody but Sieb, and he was already hit, too and couldn't find his gun so settled for saying, whoo-oo-oo, like a ghost, to scare them. They shot his bed ever which way and then every man they had left charged the bed. The bed, and I'm sure Sieb or anybody in it, was shredded into the wind. I got out through a hole in the shingles next to the chimney where the posse shot for John. It hurt and I had to boot hell out of it. Before I was off the roof a shotgun blasted the hole I made.

This be the biography of the Texas Gang. Tony Wayman is said to have writ down more after he was pronounced dead and the surviving posse took off on my trail, and Coonhound had left Cynthia and come home and was riding on the island and seen tracks of me and three lawmen that a day later was a foot still on my trail and Coonhound shot them and come riding up. I got them, Bill. I heard you, Coon. Where is them men's horses? Where is your horse? My horse is coming this way. I been trying to get in touch with him. That him on the hill way yonder? Yeah, the same Apache horse. I think he will come once he sees I am finally alone. Is that right? Yeah, say, thought you was with Cynthia. My god, Bill, you is a mess. What kind of battle you have back yonder? The Texas Gang lost, Coon. Naw, they did? All dead, Coon. Cept me. Damn, Bill. Here is some water, Bill. Thanks, Coon. Here, here is some sausage. Thanks, You sure keep saving us, Coon. Yeah, Bill. That would be alright, cept for one thing, Bill. Yeah? Yeah, you is ever one of you a white man. Yeah, well, some things can't be helped, Coon. Yeah, Bill, I liked the Texas Gang, just don't like white men. Women and children, I can put up with, sometimes, but it was bad to be smoking'n drinking with you fellers, and wake up in the morning and see white men. Yeah, Coon. Fear would roll out of my stomach, Bill, like maybe my guts left me, and I ain't no coward, Bill. No, Coon, hell no. How is your chest, Coon? I'm holding it together, Bill. So I left Cynthia, Bill. Well, there goes your life of rest, Coon. If she was a man, Bill, I'd kill'er, because I ain't no coward. No, I ain't told no man none of this before, Bill. Well, Coon, thanks. Where you going, Bill? I'm still getting away, Coon, going up river, and stopping maybe when the mountains are green. I'll tell your folks. Thanks, knew you would. Yeah, Coon, them posse will keep coming. Well, the Mescan Texas Gang will kill them back there. Yeah, how so? I believe so. Believe they, and maybe Kelly, robbed the bank at Corpus. That true now? Yeah, some kind of affair Kelly and Herrera and the Acostas are doing, trying to get'em a little grubstake in order to live quiet in these times. Maybe they can lend me fifty dollars, Bill? Kelly will lend you fifty, Coon. You keep your faiths with him and he'll do it, Coon. Yeah, Bill. I can see he's a man,just white. Yeah, Coon, well. I'll be seeing you, Bill. Yeah, well. Hell, Bill. You don't look much white. You always looked more wolf than man. I'm turning into a wolf. Or I've been a wolf. I can see it. I was a wolf before I was a man, Coon, and, you know what. It ain't done me much good being a man, even white. Haw! Even white! Haw, haw, haw! See you, Coon. See you next time, brother.

The Mescan Texas Gang did come running down Padre to the Brownrats' where they was planning to rest from robbing Corpus and they thought Kelly and Miguel Olive was going to be there telling the Brownrats to welcome their Mescan friends, but plans was a little crossed and they got there before Kelly and Miguel and seen these strange Gringos with guns, blood smeared and out of their minds walking around, understood it was a ambush party and Kelly and Miguel dead, and the Mescan Texas Gang took their rifles and circled and over run the bunkhouse and soon was riding through the main house and killed everything.

The Apache Horse was a slender and fine runner, young, captured by the hundred pounder a year or two before I got him and no gelding. Had he been he might had come to me but he showed me he had two mares he got off another stallion, once Coonhound had gone. Padre had wild burros and horses and I hope the Apache Horse lived his days in happiness and peace. I seen him have to fight the stallion a second time but that ain't nothing. My mind took to running out, and memories fade. I had conversations with my killed friends, and it kept me remembering I was built into a man, a little replica of the universe or God. A Texas Ganger would just appear and walk along with me and we'd talk some. Once still on Padre, the entire bunch killed in the bunkhouse kept me up all night with their arguing. They was all healthy and strong in body and at one point Hatch and Packy stood Bix and Dan in a square off fist fight, but Hatch ain't too fast till getting his neck hold and take a man to the ground and he broke the rules. By that dawn, some way, I encountered a friend, William Grant, and he had a boat load of guns on the end of Padre, and was going up El Rio Grande to see some bandidos he knew on the other side of Laredo. He is an alert man and saw me where I was. Wild Bill. William Grant. I ain't got much time, Wild Bill, and lost my pilot and have fired my skipper for drunk and I can see you need to go somewheres so get in and let's go and you can help stand me off against them hungry Mescans. Right, William. The next thing remembered is coming into Murray Rossenwasser's, and learning Chama and Sherry had themselves gone down to the coast to find their husbands. I eat and talked with Murray and told him I may not be able to make the night. I understand, Bill. When you hide out a while, come back. In the early morning at Murray's I woke and did not know who I was. I knew I was not one of the human beings. Murray woke up too, by time I left, and hollered from his window. Come back when you can, Bill! Your wife loves you! She understands! You want a horse? Hey! I'll compile more of the biography!

There is memory of looking through bushes at the human beings.

The End



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