Chapter Eleven

(Of Man and Mercy)


Me and Dan went south at a point things was starting to be pretty scrambled. Understand, Packy Gunter Inc. was ducking its head more and more and about to go broke, and they was too many arguments in the gang, fact is we had to disband and go underground and regroup and Packy lost his hacienda when the federales put two and two to­gether and went after us for the Nuevo bank job, and we built up this hideout in a big cave up in the mountains and started counting the gold and trying to get organised, and it was during one of the arguments that I tried to live with Senora Gutierrez out there, and Packy was back moaning how they was going to get him for sure and how everybody was letting him down, and it was a bleak period and then Miguel come in on the train and with Tiddle Caylor. Miguel had understood he ought to find me through the Senora Gutierrez and when him and Tiddle knocked on her door they found Dan there not me cause I was getting a little mean that she had done the hat dance when naked with Dan and I had gone up in the cabin where me and she had lived on the mountain the short spell, and this cabin we built was about half-way off on another mountain up from this cave which was Packy Gunter Inc. headquarters, ah, we was shifting low, now it was a dripping cave, and I was sitting to myself up in the cabin and working on my decision about adventures in the jungle with Dan. Oh, Dan, spoke Miguel. Where is Bill? And I am after that high yeller Bowman, Tiddle put in. Oh, shit, said Dan, with his head clouded real thick. Bill, um.... Oh, yeah. Bill left. Well, where is he, said Miguel, damn, we just got off the train. Yeah, yeah, I know you just got off...the train.... Yes. We got a train now. What do you think of that one? Well, in my opin­ion it is a hell of a lot better than breaking my teeth on the stagecoach, said Miguel while Dan fought a flea and shuffled back around and on through Senora Gutierrez's house and into her bedroom and to the bed goes, ow, when his hip mashes against his open six gun, and shifts the gun and the covers going back up to his chin. These are crazy times, he said. Hoo, crazy times. Make yourselves to home. Coffee on the stove. Pollo con arroz. Hoo. What about Bill, said Miguel. He still in Texas or where? We're all living in Mexico now, said Dan. Now Juanita for example did not sell eggs or nothing and for her to live with Bix she had moved out from under her aunt and in the idea she was safe with Bix had not gone to get a new job and now she lost Bix and she knew Tom was just a runaway Mississippi gambler and Juanita had now compiled that she was in love with Bix, and under. stand that she was only a young girl, eighteen, nineteen years old, moaning that Bix betrayed her and here she was debauched and going to starve less she takes to the streets and she sat about like this smoking weed with all the boys and had become a regular woman in the gang though only going to bed with Tom during her suffering for Bix, and Tom said he didn't care if she went to bed with'im, cause he liked'er, and everybody liked her and brung in a little food and money at her house and she was doing pretty good through it all and as Dan led Tiddle and Miguel over there, sneaked on foot through some alleys and places and back down along the river, crazy times and all, till they was in the friendly part there and barked like a dog and give three whistles, and naturally set off all the neighborhood dogs and Juanita with Sieb's arm on her shoulders flings her door and snorts, bandidoes, and this local peddler, named himself Peter The Potential One in his dealings with us, always seemed to know when someone might show at Juanita's comes at that minute though be it eleven at night with a feed sack of green peyote buttons he will sell for one dollar gringo, meaning he had to go to a lot of trouble cutting these buttons for us, and let me say in three days whoever is at Juanita's will had overindulged and gone to the mountains fearing hanging and there will be two three more people there ready to make plans and overinduldge, and we was going broke fast, and as Tiddle impresses Juanita first thing with how he is after the matted scalp of Tom Bowman, Bowman ain't there yet, just Sieb. Peter The Potential One said, one dollar and you will find this cavron Bowman. Tiddle give him one dollar and he give Tiddle the sack. Now you find heem, prornised Peter The Potential One and faded into the night. Bandidoes, hisses suffering Juanita, come you inside quick.

Dan said green peyote was best, the greener the better, fresh from the earth, you eat it just like apples, chew it real slow, and he was giving the demonstration, and along come Hatch. Hatch pushed on in before anybody could get set, sheet, they're going crazy up there! Wild Bill sits in his cabin and quit talking. Old Dave writes two three letters a day and makes'em into birds and sails'em out into the canyon. Packy is worse'n ever bout them getting him for sure and he does pushups and won't hardly come out of the cave. And Bix is talking philosphy. This gang is all washed up. Miguel said, honesty is the best policy. God­damnit, Miguel, said Hatch. Why it is good to see you but you act like a old fool woman! What is this Bent Hand House Of Chance And Love, said Miguel in an attempt at being of help. Bla! spoke Tiddle spitting loose a piece of the green. Where is Bowman! Tom, he is learning Mescan poker, Juanita said. When he win he come home to me this night. Come down to the magic cities with me, Hatch, said Dan. What I want to know, said Hatch, is what the hell are we going to do! Why don't you take the money you have left and buy a ranch, Miguel said, still in his attempt. We will have to rob the train first, Sieb put in. Bix is saying we are all spiritual men, said Hatch, and that this has been our problem all along. Bix is right on that one, said Dan. Now see here, Tiddle, you got to chew real slow, chew real loving, swallow it as if it was your friend. Then the gang is all washed up, said Hatch. In the aspect of robbers and thieves and blood thirsty killers, that is right thinking there, Hatch. No, no, Tiddle, don't make no face about it, Dan went on, you're the Virgin Mary now. Right, Juanita? What do you mean by that one? she said. What does he mean by that, said Tiddle. Shit on fire, said Hatch and crammed a big button his mouth. Watch old Black Hatch, Tiddle, he said chewing hard and Tiddle threw up. Damnit, Hatch, keep to yourself, Dan said, you have got to break a new man in easy. Well, you break in Tiddle, I'll break in Miguel, went Hatch in his mouth load. This is how you got to do it, Miguel. Gads, appraised Miguel on a little bite and Hatch swallowed and reached for another button, and after that one he fixed his pipe and settled down a mite saying we could run for office or build a monastery. Bowman came in early. Howdy, gents, howdy Tiddle, fancy meeting you here. If I was not so sick I would fire on you right now, Tiddle said, here, I want you to look at my detective paper. With this I can get help and see you hung. Hell, Tiddle, have a breath of kindness, man, you know I had to get out of New Orleans. How much did you win, asked Juanita. I lost, said he. Shit in fire, she said.

By the roar of dawn Miguel was ready to come find me. Had a letter from the family. Bowman had writ Tiddle a I.O.U. for the million he lost in some kind of game to Tiddle-Bowman was a sorry gambler but got by-and the plan was to rob the train if Hatch would lead the way and since it was for to start paying Tiddle back Bowman insisted Tiddle stay home. You are not experienced in this business, Tom said. Yeah, did you ever rob a train, Tiddle said. Come with me to see Bill, said Miguel, with the knowledge that when we get back you will have gold off that train. Hee hee hee. That's right, said Sieb. Cause one in the hand is worth two in the bush. Hah hah hah. My brother never looked at life that way, hah hah aha. He is going down in the jungle with me. Yeah, I know, you are right on that one, Dan. Why is this so funny, Miguel? You know how my mother loves you, Richard. Yeah, yeah, she sees my streak of decency. Miguel passed around the letter with stuff in it about Hatch keeping me out of trouble and how I should steer clear of those McConchie boys, and my old man wished I would learn some sense cept he doubted it, and Bonnie sent love and that my struggle had been a long and hard one but fortune would probably come someday. Then Sieb busted the stream of philosphy with since Juanita was saving everything for Tom that he will lead Miguel to his brother. Sieb was being what you call charitable here. Then he saddled up three of the four horses outside and then got Miguel and Tiddle to follow him in the saddle and they were on their way. When they reached the cave it was near sundown and they was hungry and a little funny in the head and there was nobody at the cave, it was all cleared out and a lot of horses had passed that way. Let's go see Bill, Sieb said. Hell with it, said Miguel. What they got to eat here? Miguel got off his horse and found a bag of hard tortillas and a big pot of chile waiting on the coals. Hell with it, he said. Tiddle got off too and Sieb under his sense of responsibility rode on up to see me, told them about the creek on down and he would be back directly. They ate and admired the big cave with its provisions and everything and then Tiddle picked up a shotgun and a pocket of shells case he ran into Apaches and went down to find the water before it was too dark. Then Miguel had found some chocolate candy and was feeling mighty fine by time he heard horses and he thought it was just some of us and felt a little peyote come over and yelled out, yo ho, Packy Gunter Inc., yo ho, ye merry devils. Then about three horses come at the far corner of the cave and started shooting at him and naturally all that peyote come right back in his head and he was backing on his belly fast and then there was three four more riders come at the other side and shooting his way and he just kept backing faster on his belly all in a plan to surrender and talk about it first chance he got and then there was a full score of fellers all trying to get their chance in and the only reason they decided to stop the shooting after a minute was because they was ricocheting so many rounds some of it was coming back their way and one of their own got his ear shot off. Miguel went on backing faster'n a mole and working on his peace speech and found he was now too low for them to see and too it was getting black except he could still see all the sparks and fireworks from the past volley but he was pretty sure that was all in his head and then he heard all that these men was saying and they was so damned mad it shocked him and he saw color flashing from the profanity and abuse they had for Packy Gunter. He ain't that bad, hollered out Miguel in a burst of bravery and rightfullness and a streak of blue and then the guns started back, whooma, whooma, whooma, whooma, and a lot of red but some yellow and orange and purple too and there was laughter from hell along with it, hahahahahaha-a­a-a-aa-aa-aie. At that point Miguel knew they was never going to take him alive, nosir. He kept slithering back and down and under and back. He was not armed except for a butcher knife because his hand gun was hung over a barrel in idea he was in friendly ground and he had no memory of where the butcher knife come from. Then when Miguel was so deep he could hardly breathe the gang of killers quieted down for a conference-they was some bunch of riff raff vigilantes had crossed the border to get us, financed by Cant, as, it turned out, the shyster had survived Mary Ann's poison-and I think Maria the cook's husband directed them, well, we was never sure, and it seems some of the local business people kept the federales casual-and Miguel could hear their conference, let's burn'im out, no, no we can't do that, let's move in a little more close and aim at his position for a change, let's get'im to surrender and then we can drag'im naked down the mountain. Next they all moved in, then they could not find him. Come out with your hands up, they said. Damn you, we know you're back in there. He is in this barrel of flour, by god, whooma, whooma, whooma! No, no, he went out the back way somewhere. Then while they milled around one of them come ass backwards down Miguel's hole, hey, this goes some­where. In a outburst of temper, cause this feller cut out the light there was, more than anything, says Miguel, he jammed him with the knife, like you do a jackrabbit. It was shit and guts and bloody awful as they dragged out the finished wretch and commenced to shoot. Next thing, well, we got'im that time. Uh-uh-uh-uh, said Miguel. Finish'im off, they said and swore and went back to firing. This time was worse than be­fore, bullets doing red cartwheels six inches from his clamped eyes, silver howling tornadoes so fierce it is close to pleasant when they drift off and he can smell the dying man and hear the oaths of his pack. We finished'im. Yep. He sure is quiet now. WeIp, who's going down in there drag'im up? Harry, you do it. Alright. That Harry is a tough hombre. Panic that Harry would be leaving more shit and guts, Miguel started in again, uh-uh-uh-aaah-aaah. Whoomaaiesuucristo. That did it, I hope that did it. Goddamn, that was a tough sonofabitch. Miguel could not hold down his chile and tortillas and chocolate and when they heard that one it was back like before.

Hey! You still alive in there? Why this must be Packy Gunter hisself. Go down and bring back what's left of'im, Harry. O.K. Thus spoke Miguel, which is a self made literary man: But in fact, eleven men well armed will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt. What tha! This guy is tough. I'll get'im anyway, said Harry. Harry come on down there with two guns head first on his elbows and soon as he blocked off the light Miguel took hold both guns and went between them and bit off Harry's nose and when Harry dropped everything and tried to get free Miguel come back with the knife and into Harry's mouth and cut both jugular veins. Miguel says it was really something wallowing in all that puke and blood and human depravity as they pulled old gushing Harry back up and how it was such a strangest feeling as he had ever experienced and he was almost ready to enjoy all of it. That he understood now, he was secure. It was getting to be a feeling of warmth. Next thing, Caylor with the shotgun, wha-whooma. Caylor scattering the horses, scrambling higher to reload, three more thrashing and more than that wishing they never come. Caylor mounted, men pouring like heathens from the cave, three coming his way after the horses, Caylor only gets two out of three that time and heads for higher country on the reload. Lucky he did that because next come me and Packy and Bix and Sieb, because now Packy had his wits together and had decided to make the fight of it superior odds or no, and we run down a few and a few got away. Damn the details. Enough on that one. Well, the decision was to keep those good headquarters. Well, two did surrender but Tiddle solved that one by riding in crazy as Dan McConchie and shot them down. Said he had to show he was on our side. We liked the way we could always catch people coming our way up there, but we had to evacuate long enough for the buzzards and coyotes because there was just too many this time to bury or toss in the canyon, and Old Dave come in that morning, had been off finding a U.S. post office, said, oh, my lord goddamn, who is going to pay for all this.

The boys robbed the train alright. It was easier than robbing banks because all they had to do was blow up the track, but they could of used a couple of more hands to keep it safe. The engineer was a brawny old fart and mad as a hornet and first challenged Hatch to fight and Hatch told him to go sit on a broom handle and which hit Dan so funny the old fart challenged Dan to fight and the old feller was so uncompromising and following them around that after you had some silly woman up front demanding to know exactly what was going on and Bowman pinched her on the butt and made matters worse that Dan decided to take him on. Out aways aside of the cars there was Hatch mounted holding the horses and with his rifle, the woman as temporary hostage guarded by Tom, and Dan and the engineer squaring off to fight. First Bowman stuck his hand down the woman's bodice and all the crowd just about came out of the windows, men, women and children, and the old fellow come at Dan like a shot and bulled old Dan right in the ground and started clawing for'im, and now Hatch was laughing and Dan was not. Dan got out of that one and threw sand in the old fart's eyes and said, look, you old fart, fight fair now. Kill'im, kill'im, went the crowd, don't let them rape the lady, and Hatch waits till some feller takes a bead with a pistol-they was a piece off of decent pistol range-and Hatch put one through the man's shoulder. Leave my passengers be, roars the old fart and comes at Dan again and this time Dan tripped him and kicked him in the ass. Fight fair, fight fair, goes the men, women and children. Now the old fart does a Queensbury rules position, starts circling and whipping up dust. Come, you old fart, says Dan. We don't got all day. Stick your hand up the lady's'skirts fore the Rangers chance by, says laughing Dan. Bowman did this and she screamed and the passengers all screamed and the old fart come in real quick and smashed Dan's nose, knocked him down. Then by missing a kick the old fart wertt a top of Dan again and this time it took Dan a while to get loose. Then they was circling again and Dan said, keep it fair, you old fart, and walked in and kicked the old fart straight in his kneecap. He was really a tough old fart because that was a hard lick and Dan kicked the other kneecap before he would fall down. Well, you put up a good fight, old timer, said Dan splattering blood all over hisself, and Bowman said he hated bitches and booted the woman in the ass and the crowd proved mucho poor loosers and the boys rode off slow with the gold and that was how the train robbery went.

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